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Submission + - Open source experiment management software

chthonicdaemon writes: I work at a university, and as the new year starts to gain momentum it is time to start planning the experimental work that will be done. This involves doing a design of experiment and planning how to store the results. At the moment, each student or researcher who does any kind of experiment effectively has to roll his own data management system, whether it be text files, Excel or a more sophisticated approach like databases. However, most experiments that we do will be very similar. The differences in storing the results mean that people find it hard to share their experimental data. It also means that a lot of standard processing needs to be recoded/redone by everyone. We have looked at software like Design-Expert, which seems very much like what we want. However, it is expensive and doesn't solve the problem of sharing data because its database is proprietary. It also does not consider experiments that involve time series as results. I have also looked into HDF, which seems like a good choice for data, but I haven't found a good set of experiment management tools that interact with HDF.

In short, what are you guys using to do the following parts of experimental work: (1) Design the experiment: set up the design space and constraints, create optimal designs and so forth (2) Store the experimental results in a way that can be shared with other researchers (3) Analyse the results in an experiment-aware way (datapoints tagged with dates and/or block numbers etc). Ideally the whole design, with results and analyses should be e-mailable (perhaps after zipping).

Submission + - ssh, guitar, touchscreen, what's not to love? (

tjones writes: The nice folks over at hackaday have found the ultimate nerd guitar. It's running gentoo on an embedded 500MHz geode chip to act as a MIDI controller. 24 frets stand tall over a touchscreen, and the demo video show that it shreds! The creator has promised to release the source code, so C++ hackers should have plenty to play with. Which leaves only two questions, when is it going to available? And how much does it cost?

Comment Re:Oh fuck no (Score 1) 398

Unfortunately that won't update automatically when I add new music to the library or remove music from the library unless I do it all via iTunes. And don't get me started on iTunes happily adding duplicate files whenever you add music (so you have to explictly navigate to the new folder and add that instead of just adding everything and sensibly hoping that the files already in the library won't be added twice). Then there's the big one for me: My wife and I live in the same house with the same internet connection, but there is no easy way for us to subscribe to the same podcasts and only download them once. With an external file-based system I would be able to have the stuff I wanted downloaded and then use "standard" syncing tools that already exist to synchronise our libraries. I like iTunes, but there are plenty of things wrong with the way that it handles interaction with your files.

Comment Re:Java is a great *idea* (Score 1) 110

...The proliferation of languages with linguistic and syntactual differences but little else to set them apart except a fan club. PHP, Ruby, Python, VB, Perl, all of them doing the same thing, serving the content.

I suppose the world would be a better place if we could all just agree on the One True Language instead of using different languages for different jobs or thinking about problems in different ways or playing around with different ways of implementing ideas? The languages you mentioned (PHP, Ruby, Python, VB, Perl) have very little in common except being interpreted. Although I understand the desire for a standard, it's as hard to see everyone agreeing on a single programming language, and its hard to buy the argument that the many languages available is hurting the web in any way. I could make the same argument about application development, but people still manage to do it.

Comment Re:Who needs metadata any more (Score 1) 160

Worse is better. I would rather have a barely-legible scan of a book right now than a perfect copy in five years when my research is already old. There's a time value to the availability of data. I would like to think that the standards you speak of could be achieved, but all the evidence we have shows us it's the opposite. How many web sites comply to standards? How many well-ripped MP3s have you downloaded? Heck, how many well-written books (complying with all the language and grammar standards) are there as a fraction of all books?

Now, I can get behind the idea that one company shouldn't have a monopoly on the ability to put these books online. In fact, I don't believe copyright is a particularly good idea, so I can get behind the idea that we should all be able to scan the books we have and put them online (and I've contributed to project Gutenberg), but that doesn't mean Google's efforts are completely worthless.

Comment Re:Something is usually better than nothing (Score 1) 160

What about signal-to-noise? If I have a nicely organised library and you donate a truck full of books, many of which are filled with drawing by your toddler, it may not be worth my time to sift through them to find the gems. It would be a very bad idea to add them to my library without going through them because I am increasing my odds of getting a bum book, even though the number of good books has gone up.

Comment Re:Pagestank (Score 1) 94

At the heart of Pagerank is the idea that, if one has a connection matrix between 'things' and these connections are related to the scoree, one can pose the problem as an eigenvalue problem. That's a pretty cool insight, and is applicable to many more fields than internet searches, for instance: ranking articles due to citations, teams based on wins and losses, and now finding important species based on their genetic connections.

I would imagine that the many places Pagerank has found application would count for something when you figure the significance.

Comment Re:Why I Hate All Programming Languages (Score 1) 299

Of course, intuition is not the same for everyone. I find object-oriented languages 'painfully counterintuitive', but I have the good sense to realise that it's working for many people and it may be my personal experience (or lack thereof) that is making the process painful, rather than the actual technology.

Comment Re:Strongly typed language? (Score 1) 299

Actually, C is a prime example of a weakly/statically typed language. The existence of a void pointer (or, actually, values in memory that are not tagged as being of a particular type) means that any piece of memory could be accessed as though it was any type. I could, for instance create an integer variable and a string variable pointing to the same piece of memory in C. This is weak typing. If there was a mechanism that explicitly forbade me from accessing a piece of memory which has been marked as 'type A' as 'type B', we have strong typing. If this can be enforced at compile time, we have static typing. Automatic type conversion does not really require weak typing if the coercion rules are well defined.

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