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Comment Re:"Distracting effect"? Citation please (Score 1) 294

I'm not aware of any credible evidence that as a general principle that monitoring workers reduces ability to perform tasks.

"Complex" is the key term. Generally speaking, there is an optimal level of psychological arousal for performing given tasks. For tasks that are simple, rote, and/or well-learned, that level is higher than it is for tasks that are difficult or novel. In the specific case of knowing that you are being observed, it tends to decrease performance on difficult tasks and have varying results on simple tasks. See Social facilitation.

The question here is whether or not the job of train operator qualifies as simple and rote, or difficult. I could easily see it being the former, where the tasks are not difficult, and the challenge is to maintain attention or vigilance. If that is the case, then the awareness of being monitored could well improve performance in itself.


Square Market Now Accepts Bitcoin 94

An anonymous reader writes "Square today announced it has added support for paying with Bitcoin. As a result, buyers can now use the digital currency to purchase goods and services on Square Market, which allows sellers to create an online storefront with online payment processing. The mobile payment company promises the experience won't feel any different for sellers and they 'don't have to change a thing, except potentially expecting new trailblazing customers and more sales.' In other words, Square wants them to be able to offer Bitcoin as a payment option without any headaches." Stripe is also adding beta support for Bitcoin as a funding source. No word from Paypal yet.

Whole Foods: America's Temple of Pseudoscience 794

__roo writes "Many Americans get riled up about creationists and climate change deniers, but lap up the quasi-religious snake oil at Whole Foods. It's all pseudoscience — so why are some kinds of pseudoscience more equal than others? That's the question the author of this article tackles: 'From the probiotics aisle to the vaguely ridiculous Organic Integrity outreach effort ... Whole Foods has all the ingredients necessary to give Richard Dawkins nightmares. ... The homeopathy section has plenty of Latin words and mathematical terms, but many of its remedies are so diluted that, statistically speaking, they may not contain a single molecule of the substance they purport to deliver.' He points out his local Whole Foods' clientele shop at a place where a significant portion of the product being sold is based on simple pseudoscience. So, why do many of us perceive Whole Foods and the Creation Museum so differently?"

Ask Slashdot: How Do You Manage Your Passwords? 445

Albus Dumb Door writes "As an IT professional, I've got a problem common to many of you: dealing with a lot of passwords. Memorizing them all becomes harder with age and and an increasing number of passwords. I will forget them eventually. I am obviously unable to use something online, like Last Pass and 1Password. Using a single password for all the systems is also obviously out of the question. I know that there are a few apps for cell phones for managing passwords (like Phone Genie and mSecure), but a cell phone, unless it's kept in offline mode (and even then), is still a security risk and I'm pretty sure my employers wouldn't like me having their passwords on my cell phone. I've also taken a look at things like the YubiKey, but changing the authentication scheme of most of the systems is not an option. The only interesting option I've seen so far is the Pitbull Wallet, but they just started taking pre-orders on IndieGoGo and are not expected to deliver until August. Amazon has some hardware password managers as well, like the RecZone and Logio, but either the price or their reviews scared me away. So how do you guys prefer to manage your passwords and what do you recommend?"

Comment Re:Monopole Magnets (Score 1, Insightful) 156

You ivory tower intellectuals must not lose touch with the world of industrial growth and hard currency. It is all very well and good to pursue these high-minded scientific theories, but research grants are expensive. You must justify your existence by providing not only knowledge but concrete and profitable applications as well.

Comment Re:"I WILL have a third cup!" (Score 2) 123

Certainly; with a high enough dose, the subject would die.

That aside, the finding is interesting. Based on the summary, I thought that it might just be helping the subjects get closer to the ideal level of psychological arousal for what is probably a simple, routine, and possibly slightly boring task. However, the article states that the subjects were given the pills after having been shown the images, not before, in order to control for that possibility.

There is still one alternative explanation that I can see to a direct chemical effect of caffeine. For the subjects given caffeine after doing the first task in the experimental setting, an association was formed between the setting and getting caffeine. When the subjects returned to do a similar task in the experimental setting again, they received a slight boost in psychological arousal in anticipation of receiving the caffeine. (This kind of effect is commonly seen with many drugs, although I don't know if 200mg of caffeine would induce the effect with a single exposure.) The increased arousal during the follow-up task could explain the increased performance. If they wanted to control for it, one way would be to administer the follow-up task in a different environment than the one in which they did the first task, thereby reducing the impact of any associations with the original setting.

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