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Comment Re:Well... (Score 1) 796

Wow! I wish I could rate your post higher than 5 Crudpuppy!

The fact that you disagree with a central theme of a book does not mean you cannot gain a lot by trying to understand where the writer is coming from!

Ayn Rand books highlights some of the (real and potentially serious) flaws in an increasingly socialist philosophy.

Her suggested soultions are incredibly unrealistic and overly extreme..., her writing style is boring and overly repetitive..., most of her characters are simply implausible.

But, being able to understand where she is coming from, without being carried away to the extreme by her evangelism, will greatly enrich your ability to understand and interact with econonic and political issues in your own society.


Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Using electric motors to simulate weight training 2

ShadowBot writes: Hello. I'm currently working on a mod project that involves being able to generate different amounts of weight on the fly for something similar to an exercise machine.
My current research is pointing me towards a Torque motor, as a motor that can continuously apply torque even when it is being prevented from moving.
However, will it be able to continue applying this torque even when the rotor is being forced to rotate in the opposite direction to the that the motor is trying to move it in?
Also, is it possible to vary the amount of torque being applied to simulate different weights?

The goal is not just to provide resistance to movement, but to actually simulate a weight which wants to drop to the floor while the user is pulling it in the opposite direction.


Submission + - Mars rover finds complex chemicals but no organic compounds (

techtech writes: Although NASA's Curiosity rover hasn't yet confirmed the detection of organic compounds on Mars, it's already seeing that the Red Planet's soil contains complex chemicals — including signs of an intriguing compound called perchlorate.
The first soil sample analysis from Curiosity's Sample Analysis at Mars lab, or SAM, was the leadoff topic today at the American Geophysical Union's fall meeting in San Francisco. The findings were eagerly awaited because of rumors that the Curiosity team was on the verge of announcing major findings — and although NASA tamped down expectations, the scientists said they were overjoyed with the first round of analysis.

Comment That is so NOT True! (Score 1) 848

While, in the short term, you may not be able to negotiate the price you are hoping for. In the long term, an attitude of noticing and fixing problems that improve the quality of work your team, and your boss, are doing is always noticed! And with the right mindset, you can always turn that noticing into profit/ benefits/ extra days off etc.
And, if nothing else, it provides a huge boost to your CV when you are looking for your next job.

I came in as a developer to a finance team in international bank a few years ago. Going way beyond my 'job description' of designing reporting systems as directed, I always tried to understand the reasoning behind any new system or change requests coming from my bosses.
  As a direct result of this, I have been able to suggest many improvements in the way those accounting and finance teams work. Making their lives much easier, becoming a bit of a finance expert in the process, and making them look so good in the eyes of their own bosses that a global project based on the system I designed and built has being implemented.

You may ask how all this has benefited me. It's true my rates only went up about 15% in this period. However, I used the value I had created as a reason to be able to change the time I arrive in the office to anything between 9:30 and 11:30 am. To me, those extra hours in the morning are extremely valuable. I could have also got other benefits from my extra value but this was the most important one to me and what I focused on getting.

Also, when I gave notice three months ago that I was going to leave . Even though they had hired a replacement, whom I have given full training. The fact that I have accumulated so much value and knowledge meant they offered to rehire me for a better role with an 80% raise!
I refused it (as the reason I'm leaving is not just financial). So instead, I agreed to come in as a consultant three times a week, still with the 80% raise, one weeks notice period, and with the clear understanding that as soon as I get a new job I'll be leaving.

These are not the kind of things that happen to people who want to do only what is in their job description.

It helps if you realise that your boss is also just a regular guy who is trying to get through his own work day as smoothly as possible as well. And who probably is having his own issues with his own boss.
If he has been trying to get extra budget for a new server because the last one is so old his iphone is more powerful than it is, and you come to him asking for payment (or a raise/ or budget for a new project) because you've created a nice doohickey that will reduce the amount of time you and your team spend doing a job which currently already leaves you with a lot of downtime. His reaction may be less than enthusiastic.


Submission + - Self-taught metallurgist creates lighter, stronger (

ShadowBot writes: Having been around for a few centuries, steel is what is known as a "mature technology" and the basic process of heat-treating has remained largely unchanged in the modern age. So when self-taught metallurgist Gary Cola approached engineers at Ohio State University claiming to have found a way to increase the strength of steel by seven percent, they were justifiably skeptical. However, after the engineers tested steel produced using the new method, Cole's claims were borne out and the engineers set about understanding what was happening.

Comment Re:Sentient cells? (Score 1) 170

So how do you 'reward' it?

It's just a clump of neural cells. It's not like it has a pleasure centre or anything.

To be honest this guy's (Kevin Warwick) previous work tends to lend a suggestion of dubiousness to the whole thing.

His first project was "interfacing" the human body with a machine by sticking a RFID chip in his arm and waving it in front of a reader! That's just as high tech as putting a wireless card in your wallet and tapping it on a reciever.

In this case, it sounds like all he has done is set up a bunch of neural cells which he uses as tangled cables:
1. Send input through here
2. Find out where output comes from
3. Plug control there

I may be oversimplifying, but without giving the cells some sort of feedback for them to know whether thier result is right or wrong, you will simply end upwith random connections being made until the robot no longer works.

It seems like he is getting really good at sticking biological bits into machines (and vice versa) but not making any real progress in actually getting useful information across that barrier.

(Even his robot hand experiment is just a variation of the mind control gamepad computer game manufacturers have been working on, only in his case he transmits the signal over the internet.)

Comment Whoa!!! A little bit too much Ayn Rand there (Score 1) 102

While there may be a number of people whose way of life consists of draining the resources of others to make thier own life better. Those are not the only people who need, or want, help.
        There are also people who may have been very productive for most of thier lives but due to accident, misfortune, or even temporary stupidity, may be in need of a little help to get back on thier feet. With this help, they could return to being productive members of society for the rest of thier lives, without it, whatever potential for production they still had will be lost permanently.

        While I definitely don't subscribe to the agenda which says "everyone is entitled to a certain level of enjoyment out of life, irrespective of what they put into it". Nevertheless, a good safety net means that you get more productive members of the society than you would otherwise.
A side effect of a good safety net though, is that it is very difficult to separate the permanently unproductive from those of temporarily reduced productivity.

        Besides, if you believe that people who can't survive on thier own (irrespective of how they got that way) shouldn't be helped to survive by others, why should cute animals be any different?

Comment Karma Suicide!!! (Score 3, Informative) 706

Funnily enough, I'm just reading super-freakonimcs and the authors mentioned a few things about the general male-female wage gap, which confirmed things in my personal experience.

All the research done shows women are are more likely to leave the workforce earlier than men or downshift in thier careers. Even the summary says that.
Basically, most of the factors that affect the pay gap are things done by choice.

On a personal level even a small amount observation will show that most women don't make as much money as men becuase they really don't want to.

When any of my male acquaintances are looking for a job thier first question is always "How can I get a job that pays more money."
With my female acquaintances when they are looking for a job the first comment is almost always "I want to know if i will like it there."

Men value money more on average while women value work environment and quality. Men are more likely to ask for a raise than women. And men are more likely to quit becuase they didn't get the raise while women are more likely to quit becuase they don't like the environment.

All this naturally leads to the conclusion that men will make more money than women but women will enjoy thier jobs more than men.

Can any of you say this isn't true in your own personal experience?

Comment Re:From what I've discovered... (Score 1) 579

I believe the grand parent was not referring to a grammatically incorrect question but a question based on a faulty assumption.

Before his response has been hijacked by the grammar police, I understood him to be reffering to a situation where you get asked the question
"What is the correct value for Pi"
and you answer
"An acceptable approximate is 3.142"
rather than spending ages trying to explain the concept of pi and why you can't give an accurate answer to the question.

That way you can satisfy your geeky need for accuracy without making people afraid to ask you questions.

Comment Re:It's so very odd..... (Score 1) 1376

Saying "I have no reason to believe there are pink fairies at the bottom of the garden" and saying "I am absolutely sure there are no pink fairies at the bottom of the garden" are two totally different things.

if you add the axiom that these fairies are invisble and try to avoid being noticed. Then Yes! it becomes arrogant to insist that they do not exist.

The GP is actually the most reasoned take on the issue I have yet heard.

The truth is that many scientific theories require similar levels of faith. (multiple universe theory, string theory, even some interpretations of Einstien's theory of relativity) They are supported by mathematical formulations that cannot be proved or disproved in reality in much the same way the proofs of a higher being are supported by philosophical formulations.
The existence of a mathematical formula is meaningless unless all the variables in it can be matched to existing and measurable physical phenomena.
Yet no one goes around writing books saying I believe string theory is rubbish.

Consider these scenarios
1. The world is actually the Matrix. The architect decides that only humans who belive in him will get downloaded into a cyber brain and live forever upon expiration of thier body. Does this not make him a defacto God.

2 Dr Manhattan (from watchmen) goes to another galaxy. Seeds it with life, watches over it as it grows, guides it towards sentience and gives the sentient beings a list of rules they should live by and steps back to see which of them sincerely obeys or disobeys (not out of fear). The ones that he deems worthy, at the moment of death are transfigured and given similar powers to him (a substitute body is of course provided for burial to prevent questions). doesn't this make him to all intents and purposes God.

3. The Ori/ The ancients (from stargate) are Gods in everything but name (despite the writers desperately trying to claim otherwise). In fact they are very similar to the greek/norse pantheons. Whether or not they ask for worship does not detract from the title.

I could think up more examples but I'm sure you see my point.

You cannot prove any of the above scenarios aren't currently the case. The only thing you can do (which is what stargate does) is to say becuase you know the origin of a God then that reduces from his/her/it's divinity.
But in the old Pantheons it was quite possible for a mortal to be elevated to Godhood.

As a scientist one of the most valuable pieces of information you can have is knowing what you don't know.

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