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Comment Re:MapReduce is great (Score 2) 93

Indeed. I went though their "interview-process" a while back at the request of a friend that was there and desperately wanted me for his team. Interestingly, I failed to get hired, and I think it is because I knew a lot more about the questions they asked than the people that created (and asked) these questions. For example, on (non-cryptographic) hash-functions my answer was to not do them yourself, because they would always be pretty bad, and to instead use the ones by Bob Jenkins, or if things are slow because there is a disk-access in there to use a crypto hash. While that is what you do in reality if you have more than small tables, that was apparently very much not what they wanted to hear. They apparently wanted me to start to mess around with the usual things you find in algorithm books. Turns out, I did way back, but when I put 100 Million IP addresses into such a table, it performed abysmally bad. My take-away is that Google prefers to hire highly intelligent, but semi-smart people with semi-knowledge about things and little experience and that experienced and smart people fail their interviews unless they prepare for giving dumber answers than they can give. I will never do that.

On the plus side, my current job is way more interesting than anything Google would have offered me.

Comment It has not (Score 2) 93

What has happened instead is that quite a few "tech experts" did not understand what it actually was and had completely unrealistic expectations. Map-reduce is nice when you a) have computing power coming out of your ears and b) have very specific computing tasks. That means that in almost all cases, this technology is a bad choice and that was rather obvious to any actual expert right from the start.

Software

FedEx Will Pay You $5 To Install Flash (theregister.co.uk) 89

FedEx's Office Print department is offering customers $5 to enable Adobe Flash in their browsers. Why would they do such a thing you may ask? It's because they want customers to design posters, signs, manuals, banners and promotional agents using their "web-based config-o-tronic widgets," which requires Adobe Flash. The Register reports: But the web-based config-o-tronic widgets that let you whip and order those masterpieces requires Adobe Flash, the enemy of anyone interested in security and browser stability. And by anyone we mean Google, which with Chrome 56 will only load Flash if users say they want to use it, and Microsoft which will stop supporting Flash in its Edge browser when the Windows 10 Creators Update debuts. Mozilla's Firefox will still run Flash, but not for long. The impact of all that Flash hate is clearly that people are showing up at FedEx Office Print without the putrid plug-in. But seeing as they can't use the service without it, FedEx has to make the offer depicted above or visible online here. That page offers a link to download Flash, which is both a good and a bad idea. The good is that the link goes to the latest version of Flash, which includes years' worth of bug fixes. The bad is that Flash has needed bug fixes for years and a steady drip of newly-detected problems means there's no guarantee the software's woes have ended. Scoring yourself a $5 discount could therefore cost you plenty in future.

Comment Re:In before global warming whiners... (Score 4, Insightful) 198

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/02/how-culture-clash-noaa-led-flap-over-high-profile-warming-pause-study

Rose's story ricocheted around right-wing media outlets, and was publicized by the Republican-led House of Representatives science committee, which has spent months investigating earlier complaints about the Karl study that is says were raised by an NOAA whistleblower. But Science Insider found no evidence of misconduct or violation of agency research policies after extensive interviews with Bates, Karl, and other former NOAA and independent scientists, as well as consideration of documents that Bates also provided to Rose and the Mail.

Instead, the dispute appears to reflect long-standing tensions within NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), based in Asheville, North Carolina, over how new data sets are used for scientific research. The center is one the nation’s major repositories for vetted earth observing data collected by satellites, ships, buoys, aircraft, and land-based instruments.

In the blog post, Bates says that his complaints provide evidence that Karl had his “thumb on the scale” in an effort to discredit claims of a warming pause, and his team rushed to publish the paper so it could influence national and international climate talks. But Bates does not directly challenge the conclusions of Karl's study, and he never formally raised his concerns through internal NOAA mechanisms.

Tuesday, in an interview with E&E News, Bates himself downplayed any suggestion of misconduct. “The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was,” he told reporter Scott Waldman. And Bates told ScienceInsider that he is wary of his critique becoming a talking point for those skeptical of human-caused climate change. But it was important for this conversation about data integrity to happen, he says. “That’s where I came down after a lot of soul searching. I knew people would misuse this. But you can't control other people,” he says.

At a House science committee hearing yesterday, Rush Holt, CEO of AAAS (publisher of Science and ScienceInsider) stood by the 2015 paper. "This is not the making of a big scandal—this is an internal dispute between two factions within an agency," Holt said in response to a question from Representative Lamar Smith (R–TX), the panel’s chairman, and a longtime critic of NOAA’s role in the Karl paper. This past weekend, Smith issued a statement hailing Bates for talking about “NOAA’s senior officials playing fast and loose with the data in order to meet a politically predetermined conclusion.”

Some climate scientists are concerned that the hubbub is obscuring the more important message: that the NOAA research has generally proved accurate. “I’m a little confused as to why this is a big deal,” says Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist with Berkeley Earth, a California nonprofit climate research group that has examined surface temperatures. He’s the lead author of a paper published in January in Science Advances that found Karl’s estimates of sea surface temperature—a key part of the work—matched well with estimates drawn from other methods.

Researchers say the Karl paper’s findings are also in line with findings from the Met Office, the U.K. government’s climate agency, which preceded Karl’s work, and findings in a recent paper by scientists at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, an alliance of 34 states based in Reading, U.K. And although other researchers have reported evidence that the rise in global temperature has slowed recently, they have not challenged the ethics of Karl’s team, or the quality of the data they used.

Read on. It's worth it. The short of it: Bates was demoted by Karl several years back. Bates accepts both AGW, and the conclusions of Karl's paper, but decided to post a nitpicking complaint that he had used the ISTI land data in addition to the base NOAA data (the former of which isn't as high quality), without specifically commenting about the data source quality difference:

The Science paper would have been fine had it simply had a disclaimer at the bottom saying that it was citing research, not operational, data for its land-surface temperatures, Bates says.

But Mike Tanner, director of NOAA’s Center for Weather and Climate at NCEI, says there’s no NOAA policy that requires such a disclosure. “There's nothing. That doesn’t exist,” he says

The article also goes into the split within NOAA over how strongly to focus on new data and approaches that capture effects which old data and approaches might have missed, vs. old ones which are less accurate but more validated. The land data people tend to fall into the former category while the satellite people tend to fall in the later category. Karl was a land guy and Bates was a satellite guy.

It's interesting to read Bates' blog post with "Karl" replaced by "The guy who demoted me":

The most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset was the study of the Guy Who Demoted Me et al. 2015 (hereafter referred to as the Guy Who Demoted Me study or K15), purporting to show no ‘hiatus’ in global warming in the 2000s (Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”). ... In the following sections, I provide the details of how the guy who demoted me failed to disclose critical information to NOAA, Science Magazine, and Chairman Smith regarding the datasets used in K15. I have extensive documentation that provides independent verification of the story below. I also provide my suggestions for how we might keep such a flagrant manipulation of scientific integrity guidelines and scientific publication standards from happening in the future. Finally, I provide some links to examples of what well documented CDRs look like that readers might contrast and compare with what the guy who demoted me has provided.

Comment Re:The actual real problem with Mars... (Score 4, Insightful) 102

The profit (a minority of their profit, it should be added) is coming from saving taxpayers money. What the heck is your problem with that?

If they were making some amount of launches cheaper - sure - but that's not the case.

Yes, it is the case; they cost vastly less than ULA.

Comment Re:The actual real problem with Mars... (Score 2) 102

What I *do* have a problem with is him parlaying this success into a full blown cult of personality

I'm sorry, I must have missed the speech where Musk announced that he is the savior of humanity and its new lord and master.

I'm sorry it gets under your skin that people appreciate the man and what he's doing, but that's hardly something he's been actively "parlaying this success into".

Comment Re:Maybe I'm missing something. . . (Score 2) 102

Most of SpaceX's launches are for private companies. And their real profit plan is satellite internet; these random couple dozen launches per year for the government and private companies is nothing compared to the value of being able to provide cheap high speed internet access everywhere on Earth without having to lay wires. But that requires thousands of satellites to be launched.

Interestingly enough, this also appears to be Blue Origin's profit plan, via their work with OneWeb.

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