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Comment Can be stimulated via sternocleidomastoid (Score 5, Interesting) 284

I have been experimenting with this technique since the early 80s. It is possible to stimulate the claustrum via pressure along the sternocleidomastoid. By pinching this area it causes sympathetic nerve activity that can effective render someone unconscious. My colleague has perfected the technique to the point that he uses it at parties. Quite eerie, actually.

Peace. Stay healthy and have a long life..

Comment Use both (Score 1) 143

Python seems to be gaining favor but IMHO the downside is that it's a general purpose language and not built with statistics in mind.

R is quite easy to use both from installation to language standpoint. It's trivial to install and there are many, many packages (of differing quality) on cran. You can easily take advantage of multiple processors, GPUs, even Hadoop (to an extent). The main downside is that it's mostly constrained by the memory of the host system. So even though it's easy to load a 20G dataset into my 32G laptop, it's not quite so easy to work on a 2TB dataset without some customization. At that point other tools may be easier, such as Python.

Now... I have never needed to crunch a 2TB dataset. My scripts fit comfortably into an 8G VM. What R gets me is that, as a non-statistician, I can easily generate charts, run analyses, and use the libraries that smarter people have built :>. The syntax is trivial and I can do 99% of what I need with a library or some minor customization.

Comment Of course we should (Score 1) 290

I live in South Florida. Lionfish is available with just a short drive down to the keys. It has a good taste and even better, no guilt whatsoever. I think it's just natural that we should eat them. BTW, Florida lobster down this way (they call them crawfish up in the Northeast :/ ) were once so plentiful that it was given to prisoners. If it's edible, someone will find a way to eat them.

Comment Camera tracking (Score 1) 172

I'm trying to do a similar thing. I'm pretty decent with Perl (or at least used to be) and know enough C and Java to get myself in trouble. I'm trying to learn Python now.

So... my other hobby is video production. One of the things that's expensive to do is to track a camera so that that it can be replayed to CGI software. This allows almost seamless effects. For example, film an object against a green screen as the camera pans. In normal chromakey, it's quite obvious because the background doesn't track the same way as the camera. You can minimize this by choosing distant backgrounds but this limits you quite a bit. Anyhoo, I'm trying to use the positional sensors in a smartphone to track the movement and later replay it to software such as Blender. It hasn't been easy. In the process I am learning a lot about a lot of things.

What I'm trying to say is that you may learn a lot from complex projects even if you don't succeed in your goal.

Comment Re:Stupid headline (Score 1) 157

"$100 (current book rate), paying a fee to cover the loss beyond the initial $100 should the package become lost, stolen, or damaged. That sounds a lot like the lay definition for insurance to me."

The devil's in the details...

Just because the lay definition of declared value sounds like insurance, it isn't. With insurance, if you are at fault the insured item may still be covered. E.g., if you crash your car it will often be covered even if you are at fault. With declared value, if you improperly pack your item and it is damaged then UPS is not liable.

People watch too many Seinfeld episodes.

Comment Re:Stupid headline (Score 4, Informative) 157

Yes, that is true. Except for the insurance part. UPS doesn't really provide "insurance", per se.

Don't be fooled by the optional 'high value' stamp, which allows you to declare a higher value. Rightfully so, it's not "insurance" but just allows you to claim the proper value if it is lost or damaged.

If it's really important, ship it via a UPS customer counter or Mailboxes facility.

I used to work there a couple decades ago. One of my roles was to process computer claims. Considering that many items can fall from belts and "Fragile" means "Throw me hard, please!" in UPS-ese, I'd make sure to ship any critical items through their desk with a proper declared value.

Not that FedEx is much better. I think at one point they were but if you've seen what goes on behind the scenes it's a wonder that anything gets to its destination in one piece.

Might as well talk about the USPS too. (BTW, UPS is not USPS; some are not aware.) I shipped a display stand once. It was a fairly sturdy unit, cube shaped, of some expensive teak wood with brass corners. It could easily bear my weight (and I am not a slender dude). When the first piece arrived, my aunt asked what it was. "It's a stand," I said.

    "How do you put it together?" she said.


Apparently they'd shipped a piece of my broken stand with a piece of someone else's broken furniture. The label from my box cut out and taped to this other box. I still don't know what happened to the rest of my display stand, but presumably someone is wondering what the heck happened to the rest of their chair.

Comment Get creative (Score 4, Insightful) 390

I subsisted on Ramen and chicken pot pies because they were cheap (4/1$ for Ramen, 2/1$ for chicken pot pies). Even the cheapest dollar meal at the local fast food didn't have as many calories. But, no, I didn't worry about food all that much.

First thing is to learn to cook. It's generally cheaper to buy family portions and make your own than to buy individual meals. For example, a bag of rice is $10, but can act as bulk in many meals such as fried rice, chicken & rice, steamed rice with butter & onions.. Yeah, doesn't sound too appetizing, but it can be. Fried rice, for example, is easy to make. For about 20$ worth of ingredients, you can have 10 meals. Just need rice, an egg or two, onions, salami/pepperoni, etc.. You can buy a pack of miso for around $4. Add firm tofu ($3) or chicken chunks ($4) and dried seaweed ($3) and you can make soup for 10 people. Buying a bulk pack of 50 tacos will set you back around $10; add a couple pounds of beef (10$), lettuce (2$), cheese ($5), etc., and you can feed 10 people for $50 or so.

Next, use coupons and shop of two-for-one days. You can easily save 50% of your bill just by using coupons and shopping on the right days. Avoid individual meal items such as can soda and even White Castle burgers.

You can also show up at friends/relatives around dinner time but use that only as a last resort unless you're really tight with them. Make friends with someone who works at a pizza shop. I knew a guy in college who would take leftovers from the restaurant. At a Denny's, for example, he'd order a coffee. When people were about to leave he'd run up and ask if he could have their leftovers. Bizarre, but he saved a few bucks. He's also gotten pretty wealthy since those days so I guess it paid off. I figure that one day he'll find a way to end up in jail just so he could get a free meal and bunk. :/

Oh, and forget about corned beef. Back in my day it was cheap, around $1.50 a can. Now it's close to $6 a can. I remember many days eating corned beef and cabbage, corned beef and scrambled eggs, steamed corned beef, corned beef sandwiches. No more.

Comment Missing the point? (Score 1) 914

This is about future societies. There was a time when we speculated about what our current policies meant for a far future society. These far futures have a way of creeping up on us, as did 1984 and the new millennium.

We take many of our current policies for granted and assume they are on an ideological high ground.

There was a time when killing the offspring of your enemy was once the moral thing to do. Arranged marriages were more common. Eight year old children once worked in factories. People still are thrown in jail for years for minor offences.

If we look at our current penal system, and what it moving towards, it's not that ethical. For one, private companies run most jails and they are motivated by profit, not rehabilitation. There are arguments on both sides of the capital punishment debate and each side holds apparently contrary thoughts on related subjects such as euthanasia and abortion. Now I'm not stating agreement with any particular side on the issue of punishment, but I think we should speculate. Speculations such as these, though they are otherwise useless, at least open the debate about our current system.

Comment Thank $DEITY for experienced programmers (Score 4, Funny) 379

We have one guy that understands build processes. I have done any serious code in years, but some of the crappy code I've seen is pretty horrid.

Here's an example:
Just over a year ago we had some Java developers doing some web code. This was on a Linux/pSeries hardware. I.e., it's a Power chip, not Intel/AMD. I was asked to install the JVM software by the developers. They gave me an Intel binary. OK, no prob. I asked them to send me the Power installation package. They responded that it was Java and the underlying hardware didn't matter. Oh really? One of the developers actually got pissy and started trying to explain that he ran it on his Windows machine and another guy ran it on his Mac. Tried again to explain the difference between the jvm executable and the jar but then I realized that if he didn't understand that, it wouldn't be much point.

The guy we brought in knows that. Lots of other things too.

Comment Re:Go Amish? (Score 1) 664

Web developers have a different level of acceptability than in aerospace. I remember a code review for a tiny bit of code that did almost nothing but flash an LED on a failure condition. Three engineers, from three different areas had to approve the change. There was a code review board. There was paperwork and signoffs. Documentation had to include test results, cert results, someone's firstborn and a blood sacrifice to Moloch. The unfortunate engineer that submitted the code had to *defend* it in front of a room full of people whose chief entertainment was watching software guys squirm ("They ain't real engineers" "Here's a quarter kid. Go buy a real degree.").


In the last company where I worked, they changed web code on the fly. The developer edited code directly on the web server. An refresh from the client browser during the update could mean that the look of the page changed one moment to the next. Hell, there was one time when the whole webroot directory was renamed on the live server so the new site could be installed. Too bad for anyone browsing the old page...

Pshaw... You aerospace guys think you live on the edge? Change review? Bwahahaaha. Regression testing? You kid. Dev/Test/Stage/Prod migration? What are you, five?

Comment What's old is new (Score 1) 116

Back in the day, writers earned their keep from underwriters (subscribers). I believe that with tools like Blender, relatively inexpensive broadcast and DVD quality cameras, the ability to collaborate across the world, cheap/cloud storage, and a plethora of amazing stories, we could back to that model. I for one would welcome alternatives to big studio garbage that assumes that because it has a spaceship or an alien race (aliens that look exactly like humans, especially) we'll just buy tickets.

And we often do, because the other "choices" are "Bad Grandma" and "Teen Love Story".

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