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Comment Re:Pittsburgh, PA (Score 1) 464

Another good thing about Pittsburgh is that it's easy to reach the New York or Washington metro areas when you want to enjoy some "big city" amenities like a Broadway show or a visit to the Smithsonian, but far enough away that the cost of living is ridiculously cheap. Grad students buy houses here. And Pittsburgh has had a TechShop for years. Also, the local government is actually supportive of Uber, which might explain why Uber built their Advanced Technology Center here for self-driving car research.

Comment Re:Zotero and ResearchGate (Score 1) 81

Boycott ResearchGate: they're spammers. If you enter your papers into ResearchGate they will spam all your co-authors and FORGE YOUR NAME as the sender of the spam. Every time I've informed a colleague that "they" have spammed me, they've been horrified and unsubscribed from ResearchGate. It's no surprise that such an unethical company brags about Bill Gates being one of their investors.

Comment CMU computational neuroscience course (Score 1) 90

I teach a graduate course in computational neuroscience at CMU. My lecture notes, exercises, and Matlab software are all available online via my home page, at

I disagree with the notion that only professionals should speak publicly about their scientific work. Amateurs should be welcome in any branch of science. Who knows where the next contribution will come from? And there is plenty of disappointing work from tenured professionals. So read the journals, but be prepared to wade through a lot of straw to find the gold. One of the advantages of graduate school is that there are experts who can help you with this.


World's First Voice Call From a Free GSM Stack 83

zycx writes "As Dieter Spaar has pointed out in a mailing list post on the OsmocomBB developer list, he has managed to get a first alpha version of TCH (Traffic Channel) code released, supporting the FR and EFR GSM codecs. What this means, in human readable language: He can actually make voice calls from a mobile phone that runs the Free Software OsmocomBB GSM stack on its baseband processor. This is a major milestone in the history of the project."

Comment My class action (Score 1) 422

So, does anyone want to join my preemptive class action lawsuit against every record company in the United States?

After all, certainly they're all going to release shitty albums in the future with only one good track on them, then conspire to fix prices and sell them at outrageous prices. That's completely certain to occur. After all, similar events have occurred in the past, and the record companies settled out of court for tens of millions of dollars.

We need an injunction to stop this in the future.

And triple damages under RICO, as well as attorney's fees. Fair's fair after all.

Comment Re:Pre-emptive lawsuits (Score 1) 422

Yes, it's abuse of process, and it's a swindle on the taxpayers. While preemptive Doe suits are not per se frivolous, if one has some reason to believe that a specific unknown person is likely to harm one, they are not an excuse to treat the Article III federal courts as a sort of free mall cop at the taxpayer's expense.

Otherwise, any business, such as a mall, could simply file a preemptive lawsuit against Doe shoplifters, alleging that every store in the country gets shoplifted from at some point, so the state or the feds should step in and provide them free security. For that matter, any company about to release an album could file a Doe suit against a few hundred million Does, demanding an injunction against well, everyone in the United States. They could file a suit against everyone in the United States enjoining them from pirating albums they haven't even decided to release. After all, certainly they will release albums in the future.

This lawsuit is also unconstitutional. The Article III federal courts, as has been pointed out, only exist to decide actual cases or controversies, not imaginary ones. Then there's due process. Nobody has been served with this imaginary lawsuit. So the injunction is meaningless, since nobody had any notice of it. Then, the injunction also violates separation of powers. Article III courts aren't law enforcement, there to patrol for possible future violations of the law. They don't have jurisdiction to act as free mall cops for businesses who fear that some unknown person, in the future, will commit a shoplifting offense.

And to come back to the original point, it's an abuse of process: that is, the use of a lawsuit to obtain an improper collateral advantage. They're suing unknown people for precrime, in order to get free mall cop services from an Article III court, at the taxpayer's expense. Unfortunately, abuse of process is usually pursued by people on the other side, who allege their rights have been violated by the abuse of process. Since these crooks are only ripping off the taxpayer, nobody would have standing to challenge their thievery.

This lawsuit should be dismissed sua sponte (by the court on its own motion), with prejudice so that they can't even file it again in the future, as a sanction. The lawyers (and I'm using that term loosely) should be sanctioned under Rule 11 and reported to their state bar associations. Since we're talking about fantasyland here, they and their clients should also be slowly boiled in oil, while bootleggers videotape their thrashing and screaming for immediate distribution over the Internet via streaming video.

Since we're living in reality, they'll probably be given a profile in the ABA Journal for innovative new legal strategy, and make partner in record time.


Programmable Quantum Computer Created 132

An anonymous reader writes "A team at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) used berylium ions, lasers and electrodes to develop a quantum system that performed 160 randomly chosen routines. Other quantum systems to date have only been able to perform single, prescribed tasks. Other researchers say the system could be scaled up. 'The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper.'"

Comment Re:No, they're in violation of the law (Score 1) 779

Diskeeper has to comply with both laws, but it's up to the plaintiffs under which statute they wish to bring their suit. They could've even claimed that Diskeeper violated both FEHA and EEOC claims (or merely EEOC claims); but claiming violations under the EEOC would've permitted Diskeeper an opportunity to remove the case to Federal Court. There is no argument for removal to Federal Court where the only bring state claims.

Comment Re:No, they're in violation of the law (Score 2, Interesting) 779

The EEOC is not relevant here, as the Complaint cites California state causes of action only (which keeps the case in state court as opposed to federal court). California's FEHA statute is similar to the EEOC, with the exception that FEHA permits unlimited compensatory and punitive damages, whereas EEOC damages are capped.


Diskeeper Accused of Scientology Indoctrination 779

touretzky writes "Two ex-employees have sued Diskeeper Corporation in Los Angeles Superior Court after being fired, alleging that the company makes Scientology training a mandatory condition of employment (complaint, PDF). Diskeeper founder and CEO Craig Jensen is a high-level, publicly avowed Scientologist who has given millions to his Church. Diskeeper's surprising response to the lawsuit (PDF) appears to be that religious instruction in a place of employment is protected by the First Amendment." The blogger at believes that the legal mechanism that Diskeeper is using to advance this argument ("motion to strike") is inappropriate and will be disallowed, but that the company will eventually be permitted to present its novel legal theory.

Submission + - Diskeeper accused of Scientology indoctrination ( 1

touretzky writes: "Diskeeper Corporation has been sued in Los Angeles Superior Court by two ex-employees who allege that the company makes Scientology training a mandatory condition of employement. Diskeeper founder and CEO Craig Jensen is a high levelI, publicly-avowed Scientologist who has given millions to his Church. Diskeeper's surprising response to the lawsuit appears to be that religious instruction in a place of employment is protected by the First Amendment."

Comment Randomly-wired networks do not make a brain (Score 1) 170

A lot of publications have picked up this IBM press release, resulting in what must be some of the worst science reporting of the year. Modha and his colleagues at IBM have not simulated a mouse or rat brain. No one can do that at present; the wiring diagram isn't known at that level of detail.

What they did was simulate a huge, randomly-wired network of grossly simplified "neurons" on a supercomputer. The number of units was roughly comparable to the number of neurons in rat cortex, and the statistics of short vs. long-range connections (intra vs. inter-cluster connections) was vaguely suggestive of the organization of cortex, But they used single-compartment, integrate-and-fire neurons that are vastly simpler than real neurons, which do lots of nonlinear processing in their complex dendritic trees. So their network didn't actually compute anything at all. What it did, basically, was oscillate.

Calling this a simulation of a severely brain-damaged baby rat being run through a blender while having an epileptic seizure would still imply far too much realism to this cartoon.

The Modha group's work is a useful step toward the long-term goal of eventually building large-scale simulations of cortical circuitry on a supercomputer. But to report that they've presently produced a simulation of "a mouse brain", as some of the news articles are saying, is ludicrous.

The amount of neuroscience that needs to be done, the number of people required, and the time and costs it will take to produce an accurate simulation of even a mouse brain are orders of magnitude larger than this modest $4.9 million research contract. I'm amazed that technology reporters can be so gullible.

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