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Glut of Postdoc Researchers Stirs Quiet Crisis In Science

Compuser Re:poor training for industry jobs (283 comments)

One problem is that the industry today is ruled by Wall Street and has very short term outlook. We know for a fact that most industrial giants have closed their research labs or shrunk them greatly. Just for kicks, which industry will subcontract a CERN collider or a Hubble telescope? We are also seeing this in biomed. Industrial firms were in no rush to develop Ebola cures because they could not see the profit. Now the government is giving tons of money to the few promising leads trying to play catch up and we are losing lives in the process. Similarly, and more ominously, companies are not investing in new antibiotics and we are seeing major antibiotic resistant strains arise and threaten medieval-style misery. I suppose we will dump money at the problem when the first few millions die from some new pandemic caused by a relative of a previously benign bug. In short, bringing in industry to manage science is a terrible idea and there is tons of examples right here right now.
National labs could certainly be diversified in their mission to facilitate transition of academic minds into industry. The problem is... where are those industry jobs?
Putting everyone on GSA scale is a great and overdue idea. You will have to boost grant funding to prevent existing research projects from grinding to a halt but after that boost you could maintain that level steady. NIH already has some salary guidelines but they do need to be boosted.

In any event, the real problem is the lack of funding and hence jobs, whether in the industry or in academia. Personally, I feel that the solution is to acknowledge that we have too many graduates at every level and to then dramatically increase academic standards so that only very few could get a PhD and this degree would be seen (as it once was) as a major accomplishment that truly sets one apart from their peers. I think that if we simply produced ten times less PhDs then we would have none of the issues with postdoc glut. In hard sciences, we should eliminate Master's degrees because right now you get it if you are a failure and cannot get a PhD. The degree might have its uses in Engineering though. We need to cut the number of bachelor degrees until salaries for tech work start to go up. We also need to reorient scientific labs to employ technicians, rather than students or postdocs. That way labor will get a market price and will not be tied to a degree. Bachelor students will once again know that there is an industry job waiting if they can get a degree. PhD students will then be apprentices who will know up front that they aim for academic freedom but their odds are like the odds of winning the Olympics. And if PhD students fail to get a degree then they will still have a bachelor to fall back on.
Most importantly, we need to dramatically increase salaries for middle and high school teachers of science and math and simultaneously increase hiring prerequisites. This is where we need to channel the current glut. The brightest people on the sidelines need to be channeled into getting our society as a whole up to speed.

about two weeks ago
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Ubuntu Touch For Phones Hits RTM, First Phones Coming This Year

Compuser Re:The difference is the 4GB of RAM (132 comments)

To me, the converged desktop would be the killer feature. With it, Ubuntu phone is really the only choice. Without it, the whole thing is a non-starter.

about three weeks ago
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John Romero On Reinventing the Shooter

Compuser Re:Reinvent this, reinvent that. It's all still sh (266 comments)

I dunno. I kind of agree with him [shudder]. FPS is sorely missing new ideas and his link to Minecraft is the most promising observation in years. I have always said that I may not be the best shooter but I am a good designer. Give me the ability to design my own weapons in-game and I will win a lot. But we are not talking about mech type building. We are talking fine-grained physics with metalworking, advanced chemistry and other real world complexity. This level of gaming is still beyond what computers can do but minecraft-type building would be a great step in that direction. I really want to see a game where you spend a month building, testing and refining your designs and five minutes in the actual battle. I am sure Romero will find a way to screw up but he sure is talking a good vision.

about a month and a half ago
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Reports Say Satya Nadella Is Microsoft's Next CEO

Compuser Trend? (177 comments)

Seems like tech companies are trending towards ultraslim CEOs. Like literally dudes who look like they just stepped out of a concentration camp. I blame Apple :)

about 9 months ago
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Why Standard Deviation Should Be Retired From Scientific Use

Compuser Re:The big picture (312 comments)

One could make a more practical argument too. For most cases MAD will be smaller than standard deviation. So reporting so many standard deviations of difference is often a way to overestimate your error bars. Or in other words to report a more conservative estimate. If MAD or SEM is the appropriate way to estimate errors - oh well, that just means your reported result (significant difference) is even stronger. Of course you will usually use a test and not rely on error bars to estimate significance but on a visual graph, when you plot huge error bars and your results are still worlds apart - it is a good way to be extra conservative.

about 9 months ago
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Why You Shouldn't Buy a UHD 4K TV This Year

Compuser Resolution (271 comments)

At one point I got curious about what resolution would have to be before it no longer pays off. So I went to a retailer and looked at 1080p monitors of various sizes from a distance at which I usually look at a screen (36" or so). I found that I can tel pixels for screens larger than about 25" class. So I looked up specs and it seems that my eyes are OK at 100 ppi but not below. So for my screen preference (36"x64") that translates to 3600x6400 resolution. As soon as eyefinity can drive 3 4K monitors at 60 fps from a single card (http://www.tested.com/tech/gaming/456899-triple-monitor-4k-gaming-15-billion-pixels-second/) I will upgrade my computer, buy 3 UltraHD monitors and never have to upgrade again since my eyes are only going to get worse.

about a year ago
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Is a Postdoc Worth it?

Compuser Re:Short version (233 comments)

I did a five year postdoc. The money is not bad. Above poverty level. If all you do is go to lab, go home to sleep and go to the lab then this is plenty. If you you do _anything_ besides the above two then you are doing it wrong. I put in 100 hours per week for five years with no breaks or holidays and I have a good reputation and a faculty job now. I would have been happy with the former alone.

about a year ago
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Is a Postdoc Worth it?

Compuser Short version (233 comments)

Long article to say: postdoc is a lot of work for low pay and iffy career prospects.

Well duh.

On the flip side, if you are doing it, chances are "a lot of work" is a plus not a minus. As Aldous Huxley said: "An intellectual is a person who's found one thing that's more interesting than sex." Yes, the pay is low but you get to use someone else's money to fund your research. If you want to worry about science and not administrative issues then postdoc days are the golden days.

about a year ago
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First Bay Trail Windows 8.1 Convertible To Start At $349

Compuser Re:This is what the Surface RT should have been (151 comments)

Exactly. I posted before that Surface is 4X overpriced. I got a lot of flak. But here is a counterexample.
They do need to bump up resolution to 1080p and put in a Wacom stylus but with that exception this is what I was hoping for with Surface (features and price-wise).

about a year ago
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Survey: Most IT Staff Don't Communicate Security Risks

Compuser Re:Holy buzzword Batman! (227 comments)

"However, it's clear from this report that most organizations fail to properly consider security risks when making day-to-day business decisions. Changing this will require security professionals to talk to upper management about security risks in terms that are clearly relevant to overall business goals."

about a year ago
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Microsoft Slashes Prices On Surface

Compuser Re:They are in such demand (330 comments)

Samsung Note 8 is fast and capable and has a stylus with 16Gb. Microsoft's problem is that to make a similarly capable tablet they need 128Gb and a beefy processor. At which point the cost to manufacture becomes prohibitive.
So you can see their failure either as one of not bringing costs down or as one of not making Windows more lightweight. Either way, competing exclusively on the high end is a losing strategy. MS needs a fully functional device at a $300 price point.

about a year ago
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Microsoft Slashes Prices On Surface

Compuser Re:They are in such demand (330 comments)

That is not exactly true. I would want a Surface badly. However, the only version that has a worthwhile ecosystem of software is the Pro tablet (full Windows version). And the Pro tablet is about 4X overpriced.

If MS came to market with only 128Gb Surface pro, threw in a cover keyboard and priced the package at $300, then it would fly off the shelves. Just becuase they mis-priced the offering does not mean noone wants it.

about a year ago
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How DRM Won

Compuser Re:One word. Steam. (221 comments)

Disagree. Most of entertainment is rarely reused and ultimately disposable.
Do I want to replay a game I already played through? Usually no. So I would rather rent it for a few hours (until I win or get bored).
Do I want to watch a movie again after I saw it once? Usually no. So rent makes sense.
Do I want to play a piece of music again? Usually yes, but if it is not available I will shrug and move on. So rent makes sense but it gets borderline. Some people are attached to their music.
Do I want to use a piece of mission-critical software repeatedly? Usually yes, and in many cases if it is not available then productive life is basically over. So DRM-free ownership makes sense.

about a year ago
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Patents Vs Innovation - the Tabarrok Curve

Compuser Re:Oh, erm, groundbreaking? (210 comments)

Or the right way: fund invention process publicly (like e.g. the university research system) and then require that all publicly funded work be fully disclosed to the public. Also require that every good made available for sale (no matter who and how invented it) be fully described (including schematics, source code, and operating principle) in freely publicly available document.

This way you have a stream of inventions on-going and no issues with losing the ideas to secrecy. Further, every good on the market is a commodity from the moment of availability and the consumer gets the benefit of price competition right away.

about a year ago
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Google Is Planning To Penalize Overly Optimized Sites

Compuser Prosecute SEO scam artists (299 comments)

SEO activities should be treated as slander in the sense that they bring down ratings of more relevant content. Google should lobby Congress to make such things punishable by several years in maximum security. And if more than one person are involved then this should be prosecuted under RICO and carry even stiffer penalties (ideally 25 to life). Google should work with the FBI to aggressively uncover and prosecute such activities.

more than 2 years ago
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The Sketchbook of Susan Kare

Compuser Re:Aha (173 comments)

I do not know why I got marked as flamebait. I clearly stated it was my personal opinion and I meant every word without intent of inciting a flamewar. Mods are on crack.
That said, to me the ideal design of GUI so far has been Windows 95, with toolbar autohide. Horrible OS but imho best GUI ever. Clean, simple, rectangular without the horrible rounded corners. Grey background, forgettable fonts, and equally neutral pointer shapes.
I have always hated icons and preferred text instead but I have yet to see a GUI with labels instead of pictures by default. Other than that - Windows 95 got most things right.

more than 2 years ago
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The Sketchbook of Susan Kare

Compuser Aha (173 comments)

So now I know who made the Mac so insufferably ugly. For me it was a retch at first sight. I think I may be the only one in the world but I have consistently hated every single artistic and stylistic choice Apple ever made with their GUI (their hardware designs sometimes look OK, e.g. iPhone 4)

more than 2 years ago
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Fedora Aims To Simplify Linux Filesystem

Compuser Re:/bin, /sbin had their functions (803 comments)

Not really. It is not too hard to make things robust. There is no reason why for instance a sub-folder could not be mounted even if the parent folder is corrupted. Just make every home directory a separate partition and mount them all under /users. If /users gets corrupted, mount discoverable user partitions somewhere else (e.g. /users-restore). So root folder could still be robustly accessible even if /users or /home were corrupted.
In any case, the point is that complexity should be within the filesystem, not on the user end.

more than 2 years ago
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Fedora Aims To Simplify Linux Filesystem

Compuser Re:/bin, /sbin had their functions (803 comments)

I have no issue with your version either.
But my rationale on /var is that logs is something an admin consumes (like any other form of media - books, movies, etc). So logs that a given admin would care about should be presented to them and those they do not should not.

Example. A server in a household. One person reviews hardware related logs. Another takes care of internet facing services and security and the relevant logs. No-one looks at all the logs so there is no need for central repository. If multiple admins are registered to take care of any aspect of the system they get a separate copy of the logs. Hard drive space is cheap. Duplicate and personalize, don't centralize.

more than 2 years ago

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