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Comment: Question is, were they spending NSF money? (Score 5, Interesting) 116

by slagell (#48539009) Attached to: NSF Accused of Misuse of Funds In Giant Ecological Project

Every University, business and organization that receives grants has overhead rates. These vary from reasonable to ridiculous based on the organization.

These overhead funds then typically go into a larger, not grant specific, fund that is fungible. The spending out of that fund is then restricted not by grant guidelines, but by the general rules of the institution. Usually that is still somewhat restricted at a University, for example, that usually won't allow alcohol. However, businesses receiving grants generally have fewer restrictions.

If you want to look at how overhead is used out of those general funds, I'm certain you will find this at any recipient organization. I am in fact surprised this is all they found. The fact that they are only looking at NSF and focusing on politically controversial topics for their specific party is very suspect. Should we start looking at how defense contractors spend all of their overhead for DARPA awards? Would they even share that information like NEON did?

Comment: A likely placebo effect (Score 2, Insightful) 652

by slagell (#29989900) Attached to: Iraq Swears By Dowsing Rod Bomb Detector

There is likely to be something similar to a placebo effect (in addition to confirmation bias and other psychological pitfalls) that will reinforce the idea that this works for officials there. If they believe it works, it is likely at least some bombers will, too. So it has a deterrent effect that is likely measurable. Therefore if they do some correlation studies later, they are likely to find places that do use these will have lower rates of incident (as long as you don't compare to places with actual bomb detection).

Comment: A bit alarmist (Score 1) 280

by slagell (#29357233) Attached to: Why Anonymized Data Isn't

I do research in the field of anonymization and can say that I agree with a lot of his points, but he takes each of them too far and sounds very alarmist. He seems to see things in a very binary way. One can have anonymization that is effective at preventing reversal for 99% of indviduals or certain types of attacks. For example, I may be able to release a data set that has almost a 0% chance of revealing any particular user but a 100% chance that someone could be revealed.

Anyway, one of the good points he brings out is how stupid the requirements in HIPAA are. One can anonymize with the safe harbor rules (from EU I think) which basically destroy information needed for most kinds of analysis, or they can get a statistician to certify that it has been statistically de-identified without any specific standard for what that means. So in practice you can get anything released if you hire the right statistician.

Comment: OCZ already released the GC tool, but for Win only (Score 2, Interesting) 156

by slagell (#28993645) Attached to: Garbage Collection Algorithms Coming For SSDs

I see OCZ already released some sort of garbage collection tool, but it only works on Windows. Kind of annoying since I bought their "Mac Edition" drive for my MacBook. Hopefully they'll put this in a firmware update, too, and hopefully I won't have to boot DOS on my Mac to update the firmware with a utility that blows over my partition table this time. That was a lot of fun going from version 1.10 to 1.30 firmware.

Comment: Two unstoppable idiot hacks (Score 2, Insightful) 1235

by slagell (#26612663) Attached to: New Law Will Require Camera Phones To "Click"

1. Cut the wire where it is soldered to the speaker. You just need a second phone for your child porn.

2. Use a small digital camera and not a cell phone. Just remember to turn off the flash.

This is kind of like putting up a 10 mile long wall along the Mexican border to stop illegals. You can pretty much guarantee they won't go over the wall, but that is a pretty useless guarantee.

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington