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Comment Re:Zotero and ResearchGate (Score 1) 81

Boycott ResearchGate: they're spammers. If you enter your papers into ResearchGate they will spam all your co-authors and FORGE YOUR NAME as the sender of the spam. Every time I've informed a colleague that "they" have spammed me, they've been horrified and unsubscribed from ResearchGate. It's no surprise that such an unethical company brags about Bill Gates being one of their investors.

Comment CMU computational neuroscience course (Score 1) 90

I teach a graduate course in computational neuroscience at CMU. My lecture notes, exercises, and Matlab software are all available online via my home page, at

I disagree with the notion that only professionals should speak publicly about their scientific work. Amateurs should be welcome in any branch of science. Who knows where the next contribution will come from? And there is plenty of disappointing work from tenured professionals. So read the journals, but be prepared to wade through a lot of straw to find the gold. One of the advantages of graduate school is that there are experts who can help you with this.


World's First Voice Call From a Free GSM Stack 83

zycx writes "As Dieter Spaar has pointed out in a mailing list post on the OsmocomBB developer list, he has managed to get a first alpha version of TCH (Traffic Channel) code released, supporting the FR and EFR GSM codecs. What this means, in human readable language: He can actually make voice calls from a mobile phone that runs the Free Software OsmocomBB GSM stack on its baseband processor. This is a major milestone in the history of the project."

Programmable Quantum Computer Created 132

An anonymous reader writes "A team at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) used berylium ions, lasers and electrodes to develop a quantum system that performed 160 randomly chosen routines. Other quantum systems to date have only been able to perform single, prescribed tasks. Other researchers say the system could be scaled up. 'The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper.'"

Diskeeper Accused of Scientology Indoctrination 779

touretzky writes "Two ex-employees have sued Diskeeper Corporation in Los Angeles Superior Court after being fired, alleging that the company makes Scientology training a mandatory condition of employment (complaint, PDF). Diskeeper founder and CEO Craig Jensen is a high-level, publicly avowed Scientologist who has given millions to his Church. Diskeeper's surprising response to the lawsuit (PDF) appears to be that religious instruction in a place of employment is protected by the First Amendment." The blogger at believes that the legal mechanism that Diskeeper is using to advance this argument ("motion to strike") is inappropriate and will be disallowed, but that the company will eventually be permitted to present its novel legal theory.

Submission + - Diskeeper accused of Scientology indoctrination-> 1

touretzky writes: "Diskeeper Corporation has been sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by two ex-employees who allege that the company makes Scientology training a mandatory condition of employement. Diskeeper founder and CEO Craig Jensen is a high levelI, publicly-avowed Scientologist who has given millions to his Church. Diskeeper's surprising response to the lawsuit appears to be that religious instruction in a place of employment is protected by the First Amendment."
Link to Original Source

Comment Randomly-wired networks do not make a brain (Score 1) 170

A lot of publications have picked up this IBM press release, resulting in what must be some of the worst science reporting of the year. Modha and his colleagues at IBM have not simulated a mouse or rat brain. No one can do that at present; the wiring diagram isn't known at that level of detail.

What they did was simulate a huge, randomly-wired network of grossly simplified "neurons" on a supercomputer. The number of units was roughly comparable to the number of neurons in rat cortex, and the statistics of short vs. long-range connections (intra vs. inter-cluster connections) was vaguely suggestive of the organization of cortex, But they used single-compartment, integrate-and-fire neurons that are vastly simpler than real neurons, which do lots of nonlinear processing in their complex dendritic trees. So their network didn't actually compute anything at all. What it did, basically, was oscillate.

Calling this a simulation of a severely brain-damaged baby rat being run through a blender while having an epileptic seizure would still imply far too much realism to this cartoon.

The Modha group's work is a useful step toward the long-term goal of eventually building large-scale simulations of cortical circuitry on a supercomputer. But to report that they've presently produced a simulation of "a mouse brain", as some of the news articles are saying, is ludicrous.

The amount of neuroscience that needs to be done, the number of people required, and the time and costs it will take to produce an accurate simulation of even a mouse brain are orders of magnitude larger than this modest $4.9 million research contract. I'm amazed that technology reporters can be so gullible.


Submission + - Chinese Wikipedia unblocked by government->

DragonFire1024 writes: " — According to reports, the government of China has stopped restricting access to the English version of the Chinese Wikipedia.

The report originated on the Wikimedia Foundation's mailing list, although other sites have now covered the development. Wikinews has confirmed that the reports are accurate through discussion with people attempting to access Wikipedia from China.

Despite the report, there are still some issues with accessing the site according. Sources tell Wikinews that although the English version is unblocked, the Chinese version still remains blocked, or hard to access in many parts of the country. This comes after the Chinese unblocking of the all other language variations of Wikipedia few moths ago.

There has been some doubt on whether Wikipedia will remain accessible after the Olympic games. Christiano Moreschi, another active contributor to the English Wikpedia, said that "I doubt this will last 5 minutes beyond the end of the closing ceremony of the Olympics.""

Link to Original Source

Submission + - Eclipse Aviation subpoenas Google for blogger IDs->

touretzky writes: "Very light jet manufacturer Eclipse Aviation, headed by former Microsoft executive Vern Raburn, has filed suit against 28 anonymous critics from the Eclipse Aviation Critic NG blog, and served Google with a subpoena for their names and IP addresses. Eclipse alleges the bloggers disclosed trade secrets and violated NDAs, but Raburn has also accused them of "speculating" and posting erroneous information, which would seem to undercut his NDA violation claims. At least some of the critics deny any connection to the company or its suppliers, or that they are covered by NDAs. An attorney for the group has filed a motion to quash the subpoena."
Link to Original Source

Submission + - new humanoid robot announced->

Davide writes: "Many of us think that all the humanoid robots are Japanese or Korean. Actually, there is a quite interesting human size robot that comes from UAE, REEM-A. It has some interesting skills as dynamic walking (of course), object recognition, voice recognition, self localization and mapping, long battery life and face recognition ("where have I seen you before?"). Recently, the development team announced that the second prototype, REEM-B, will be presented in February 2008. The second prototype got many improvements: a fingered hand with 12 motors, the ability to go up and down stairs, additional force sensors on the arms, ultrasonic range finders to avoid obstacles and a completely new look (but we must wait 2 more months to find out how REEM-B looks like)."
Link to Original Source

Submission + - Quixtar sues 21 anonymous bloggers and YouTubers->

Dave Touretzky writes: "Quixtar (formerly known as Amway) has filed suit against 21 anonymous bloggers and YouTubers in an effort to unmask their identities. The suit alleges that the anonymous critics are acting on behalf of TEAM, a group of Quixtar distributors that recently broke with the company. Quixtar and TEAM are presently suing each other, and TEAM has called Quixtar a "pyramid scheme" whose prices are too high. One of the videos mentioned in the subpeona is a hilarious spoof of a Quixtar sales presentation that does seem to repeat TEAM's criticisms of Quixtar — but they're the same criticisms people have been making for decades. Another one of the targeted videos is an innocuous piece of criticism whose inclusion clearly demonstrates that Quixtar's real interested is intimidating its critics. Google is giving YouTubers until Nov. 5th to file motions to quash the subpoenas for their identities. Once unmasked, Quixtar will likely subpoena the defendants' hard drives, as they have done previously."
Link to Original Source

What the gods would destroy they first submit to an IEEE standards committee.