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Comment: Re:Academics.. (Score 1) 141

by vuo (#47254857) Attached to: I typically start my workday ...
I have to counter this with my opposite experience. I came to work at 9 or 9:30, and everyone thought I was lazy. Most seemed to come at 8-8:30, and some at 7:00. Notwithstanding that these people often left at around 14:00-15:30, so their working days had actually like 6-7 hours. I guess they felt good arriving early, and that gave them justification to leave earlier. It was already pretty quiet at 16:00 and dead at 17:00. My boss once even asked "Are you still here" at 17:00. I usually stayed at the office up to 18:00 and couple of times a week up to 19-20:00, thus working a minimum of 8½ hours, occasionally up to 11 hours. People that get selected for studying towards higher degrees often are set in their ways, and are bewildered at any deviation from their petty notions of what it means to be hardworking and what not. If you're not at the office at 7:58, you must be automatically a lazy drunk; if you work after 16:00, you must be an obsessed weirdo.

Comment: Re:Episode V! (Score 1) 457

by vuo (#46983583) Attached to: Favorite Star Wars Movie?
Remember, it's made on a government contract. Lowest bidder, or by the most "well-connected". Like some voting machines and health insurance sites you might have heard from. In any case, military hardware rarely has all the safety measures required for civilian applications. And the evil empire and troops considered expendable part might be a factor, too.

Comment: Re:Move out of the US (Score 1) 370

by vuo (#46578183) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Fastest, Cheapest Path To a Bachelor's Degree?

Mod parent up. Having to pay big $$$ to get a degree is something that happens in developing countries and the U.S. only. Admissions by merit is the rule - only diploma mills and other "not actually universities" would accept cash. Also, don't believe the "freedom fries" neocon story, Americans are well-received abroad. You already know English; you don't have to be fluent in any other language except if you go to a large country where people don't strictly need to know other languages (so forget Germany, France, Russia and Brazil). Of the checkboxes in the HR form, you get not only the Bachelor's degree, but also international experience. That, and you might also actually learn something.

As for Finland, there are a lot of AMK's that are quite easy to get into. They get funded by the government based on student numbers, so they have an incentive to accept students. These are 3-4-year degrees, but I believe you can negotiate to get the Associates studies included. (Such a degree doesn't exist in Finland.)

Comment: Unbonding this... (Score 1) 30

by vuo (#46450867) Attached to: LABONFOIL: A Portable Bond-Style Lab
The story completely fails to elaborate on the contents of the box. If it's just an instant test for drugs, then there's little new. The idea that you could just replace a general analytical laboratory with a single gizmo is the product of a mind untrained in chemistry. A gas, liquid or ion chromatograph has a column, which must be of at least a certain length to produce good resolution, and ramping up the pressure would hardly be an option, since that would require heavier pressure-proof lines and pumps. How to set up a column oven inside a credit card is not obvious either. A mass spectrometer has a high-vacuum chamber (high vacuum = thick steel) and a strong magnet; the smallest are tabletop-size. Likewise, NMR spectrometers have a strong magnet, and have been miniaturized to a 1x1x1 ft cubes, but I don't see how, barring discovery of new elements, the magnets could be made smaller. (NQR might be an option, but that would then beg the question of how to miniaturize the radio transmitter and receiver. And no one has, as of yet, actually produced a working field NQR, ADE 651 not withstanding) For inorganic analysis, XRF is probably the closest, with handheld devices being the smallest. XPS or Auger is again high vacuum and involves vacuum tubes, so no luck here either. This equipment would cover much of the functionality of a 'James Bond' lab, and would still be useless without a trained analytical chemist.

Comment: Re:Define "wearable" (Score 1) 254

by vuo (#45928819) Attached to: I think wearable computing will take off...

I was in the Aachen-Dresden International Textile Conference last November, and most of the concepts presented are just like you say: unwashable. Promotion of in-sewn electronics does continue; this fad hasn't died out. Practically, most concepts are essentially taking an existing hard chip (i.e. steel-encased silicon) and using conventional techniques to sew it in and wire it with metal wires. There was even an outright idiotic idea - offense meant - that OLED screens would be sewn in. It turns out OLED is extremely sensitive to moisture; thus, if you can protect an OLED screen from moisture, you can protect anything. Any defect or hole in a coating, no matter how small, will render the whole coating useless. The only clear materials impervious enough are all glasslike solid metal oxides. A minute crack would destroy the whole screen.

But, fortunately, that's not all. It turns out carbon nanotubes can be made into filaments and potentially made into conductive yarn. This was shown to be washable, with no change in performance after multiple washes. There were also ideas how to make conformable electronics. Most "flexible" electronics are actually flexible only on one axis, like a credit card; bending them across two dimensions or forcing folds and bumps into them would break them. Whereas, a conformable piece of electronics would resemble a piece of a plastic bag. Conformable electronics that resist moisture would make it possible to incorporate the electronics as an insert into clothing, like washing labels are today.

But, I voted never. There are two obvious reasons. First, power. To get enough power, you need a battery, and it's unlikely that a foldable, washable and safe lithium battery could be made. So, you have a lump of hard material there anyway, and once it's there, the second reason becomes apparent: there is no need. There's nothing a lump + sheet of plastic can do that just the lump couldn't do alone. (Granted, screens, but I wrote about those above.)

Comment: Usability-- (Score 1) 495

by vuo (#45578681) Attached to: I wish my cell phone was...

"More convenient and responsive" would be my vote, so I had to vote "faster". Most apps are still clunky, and there's an obvious air of "not there yet". For instance, I want to give the spoken command "find the route options for bus from here to home". Now, I have to click the bus search client, manually write the address, and then wait. Wait a long time, because it first tries and fails to get a GPS fix. Then, it communicates with the remote server several times, each taking 1-2 seconds. Finally, I get one route option, not a selection of options. (Andropas) Since the GPS fix doesn't work and the algorithm for finding the route to the final address is rickety, usually I just memorize the bus stop numbers and directly search between them. Now an "update" installed a forced autosuggest feature that forces the user to wait until the client contacts the server for allowed options, so the memorizing stop numbers trick works even less efficiently.

This just barely beats taking a paper timetable and just looking it up there. This sort of experience isn't just one app, it's pretty much all of them.

Comment: Re:Synthetic trans fats (Score 1) 376

by vuo (#45375843) Attached to: WRT trans fats, the FDA should ...

Trans fats aren't "lifestyle", they're artificial contamination from processing. If you do hydrogenation incompletely, you also do isomerization. This is a purely technological problem, and it already has straightforward solutions. Interesterification, for instance, allows to have a "partially hydrogenated" fat without any actual partial hydrogenation. Many other countries have solved the problem already.

Comment: Mir (Score 2) 66

by vuo (#44660257) Attached to: Aiming For a Commercially Available Submersible
Mir. The interesting thing is that the CIA killed this project, leaving only the two pieces already produced. They feared that the technology was too advanced to be sold to the Soviet Union. They promised the manufacturer compensating orders from the West, but you should never trust the U.S. government - this was of course a lie.

Comment: Make it work (Score 2) 233

by vuo (#43520399) Attached to: Physicist Proposes New Way To Think About Intelligence
You can make the examples work if you modify the problem. For instance, define that the box is cold, the room is hot and the food is hot. Then, putting the food in the box increases entropy. This is in fact analogous to eating, even in physical terms; the box that eats the food is an energy sink, just like a living being.

Comment: Re:The Cost of the Liquid? (Score 2) 68

by vuo (#43260337) Attached to: IBM Dipping Chips In 'Ionic Liquid' To Save Power
And just to clarify, their IL was 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide, or better known as [hmim][NTf2], fairly nonexotic as far as ILs go. Although I didn't find the price for this, the butyl version (whose synthesis is very similar) goes for 1150 €/kg at SigmaAldrich.

Comment: Re:The Cost of the Liquid? (Score 2) 68

by vuo (#43260295) Attached to: IBM Dipping Chips In 'Ionic Liquid' To Save Power
Joking aside, ILs are expensive, because they're yet nothing but custom-manufactured small-batch chemicals for research. We're talking about 500-1200 €/kg for low grade (2-5% impurities). For high purity, you need very deep pockets, since producing pure ILs is not routine and may need expensive custom synthesis and research. If production is scaled up, though, then we're in the normal custom manufacturing range, order of magnitude being 10-100 €/kg. In this case, though, I think the price of the IL is not going to be a problem, simply because the amount needed is so small.

Personally, I think that what kills this eventually is the inability to control the degradation of the IL or the memory itself, and accumulation of harmful degradation products. Since this is a chip that you'll package and seal in, you wouldn't want to do an "oil change" now and then.

Comment: Gain for pain (Score 2) 526

by vuo (#43177265) Attached to: For 2012's U.S. tax season ...

Parent is right. There's also one funny thing if you compare taxes in Finland, which most red-state Americans would call a "damn Communist country", with U.S. taxes. If you do the math on the statistics, the result is that both pay the same sum in PPP dollars. In Finland, the government does all sorts of things: healthcare (average for a developed country but efficient), education (world's best education system according to PISA), proper school lunches at no cost, free tuition at universities + a student benefit for all students, unemployment benefits, childcare, maternity benefits, child allowance, etc. The list is very long and much of it simply doesn't exist in the U.S.; not at all or in a very restricted form.

For instance, I fathered a baby recently. During the pregnancy, my wife was treated with a monthly checkup at the local municipal clinic. We went to a municipal hospital for the delivery, and were cared for excellently. The government gave us a box full of clothes and supplies for the baby. My wife could now care for the baby on maternity leave, while being paid 60% of her wages by the government. What's more, I'm a doctoral student currently. In the future, the child will get annual health checks, daycare, school and university tuition. All of this costs nothing or a nominal fee. In the U.S., all of this would be paid by me or my parents. (Ok, you're poor, so you have no choice? Wrong. I and my wife are a high-income family.) I will happily pay high taxes if I get something in return.

Comment: Re:Eye Tracking (Score 1) 133

by vuo (#42643271) Attached to: Intel To Help Stephen Hawking Communicate Faster
There is also the option of using Dasher. You only need four controls: up, down and forward and back. The program shows a tree of the possible options, emphasizing more frequent words. You can write "the" by just looking at "t" and then at the "h e" that appear. This is pretty intuitive with eye-tracking, more so than a keyboard.

Modeling paged and segmented memories is tricky business. -- P.J. Denning

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