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Comment Re:Nuance the Biggest (Score 3, Interesting) 46

The nerds at Ma Bell used to provide very high quality telephony; they were shocked and appalled when the market chose low quality low cost telephony. The medical transcription market has gone through the same change..

The documents, especially the ones used clinically, can suffer from lower quality of ASR and/or offshoring.. Also, in the old days, light editing was usually part of the process. This happens less in today's price obsessed market and sadly results in less readable reports.

On the other hand, today it's possible to get turn around times of 0 with document issues identified in real time by NLP. That is a really big improvement. (I don't know if Nuance has that, but if they don't, they will soon)

Comment Re:Something to watch (Score 1) 623

For what it's worth, Scala can compile with vanilla Java. You can't have them both in the same file, but you can have everything else, including mutual dependencies. Scala can use all existing libs with no modifications. "Effective Java" is most of the way to Scala.

Scala is a superset of Java in a way Jython is not because Scala has all the features of Java in a way Jython does not. Annotations, static typing, main methods, hash codes and many more are still there from Java. Admittedly, some misfeatures were left on the cutting room floor--- primitive types, special syntax for arrays, call-side variance, etc.

Comment Re:Missing feature in Java: Copy on write (Score 1) 623

This is best understood in the context of mutability/immutability.

Mutable structures---like arrays--- have problems with ownership and thread safety. Before you pass it to a method you must copy it, if the method might change it. If someone passes you an array, you may need to make a copy before working with it. Also, mutable structures must be invariant for type safety.

Immutable structures solve these problems but they are more complicated. Consider the immutable vectors from Clojure or Scala--- they have an array-like api but are immutable. They are implemented as wide trees, so a logical read or write may take 5 or 6 actual read or writes.

Immutable structures are easier to reason about. And defensive copies and monitors are not required for bug-free operation. But there is a trade off.

A copy-on-write array can have good read performance. The sticky part is the write, which is O(N). If writes are infrequent or can be batched, this may be ok. Java's String class has copy-on-write semantics.


Cheap Cancer Drug Finally Tested In Humans 363

John Bayko writes "Mentioned on Slashdot a couple of years ago, the drug dichloroacetate (DCA) has finally finished its first clinical trial against brain tumors in humans. Drug companies weren't willing to test a drug they could not patent, so money was raised in the community through donations, auctions, and finally government support, but the study was still limited to five patients. It showed extremely positive results in four of them. This episode raises the question of what happens to all the money donated to Canadian and other cancer societies, and especially the billions spent buying merchandise with little pink ribbons on it, if not to actual cancer research like this."

Comment Re:Four YEARS? (Score 1) 561

But I'll just note that reluctance to follow FOIA requests was not unreasonable.

Are you trolling? FOIA requests aren't for your friends--- friends just ask. They are for your critics. Most people think their critics are mistaken and unreasonable. So almost all FOIA requests look unreasonable to the person who has to respond. Reasonable or not, they are the law.

In the case of the CRU, they where figuring out what excuses to use before they got the first FOIA request. So, their use of this complaint doesn't look just misguided, it looks disingenuous.

Dad Delivers Baby Using Wiki 249

sonamchauhan writes "A Londoner helped his wife deliver their baby by Googling 'how to deliver a baby' on his mobile phone. From the article: 'Today proud Mr Smith said: "The midwife had checked Emma earlier in the day but contractions started up again at about 8pm so we called the midwife to come back. But then everything happened so quickly I realized Emma was going to give birth. I wasn't sure what I was going to do so I just looked up the instructions on the internet using my BlackBerry."'"

Comment Re:An Ethical Quandry without an easy answer (Score 1) 847

Historically speaking, the Church/Islam encouraged science purely because they had money to support scientists. There was no such thing as grants or state funding back then. The Church was a big bank. This was not because of anything inherent to Religion that encourages finding objective fact.

Nothing inherent to religion encourages finding objective fact. But Christianity has always been very interested in objective fact.

It's not an accident that science was born in Christendom. Christianity provided the motive--- to understand God's world. Christianity provided the means--- the material wealth of a machine culture and, as you say, some direct funding. But more importantly, Christianity provided the faith in reason and the faith in the existence of objective truth itself. Finally, Christianity provided the opportunity--- many of the early scientists were clerics and almost all were devout believers. Christianity invented the university, for God's sake.

You can think Christianity was framed, if that is something you wish to believe.

Comment Re:Normalization doesn't exist to save disk space (Score 1) 267

The meta-rule in computer science is "Once And Only Once". In the database world this is called Normalization.

Normalization holds that there should be exactly one definitive place for each bit of data. For example, customer's name should be in her row in the Customer table. It should not be in 5 different tables and in the Orders table once per order. If it is in 5 different tables sooner or later they will get out of sync. That is bad. If the database is large and important it is very bad indeed.

Backups, datawarehouse etc don't count here as definitive places, because while there may circumstances that will make them definitive, in the normal course of events they are not.

Denormalization is sometimes done to improve speed, but it is dangerous.

Caches and replication can also be dangerous if they can get out of sync, or worse, if they muddy the concept of what is the definitive version of the data.

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