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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

JoeMerchant Re:Cure your shortsightedness (109 comments)

Cephalic hypertension is a pretty high price to pay... I'll try Lasik first.

about a week ago
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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

JoeMerchant Re:Zero-G is bad long term, but what about 1/6-G? (109 comments)

Apollo was short duration, those guys were running on so much adrenaline that any findings about zero G / low G were masked by the novelty, danger and excitement of it all.

about a week ago
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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

JoeMerchant Re:NASA needs to get it's act together (109 comments)

You need a big radius, otherwise you'll get a "Gravitron" effect (an amusement park ride)... fluid in the inner ear spins in funny ways, much worse for motion sickness than zero G.

An idea posted above, a big rope with a counterweight (or maybe two sides of the station, attached by a tether), could do it, but docking will become.... challenging (and we know what happened to Challenger.)

about a week ago
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Eye Problems From Space Affect At Least 21 NASA Astronauts

JoeMerchant Re:What can be done about this? (109 comments)

Spin the current space station and you'll have a whole bunch of shiny chunks of metal flying away from each other, and no atmosphere inside.

The present design isn't made to withstand even 1/3g loading - maybe a new space station design could handle it, but not the one we've got.

about a week ago
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NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

JoeMerchant Can it scram in 10 seconds? (216 comments)

There's that newfangled p-wave detector, only costs $80m to build and $12m / year to operate - if the reactor can be rendered safe within 10 seconds after notice of an oncoming quake, I think they've got a customer....

about a week ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

JoeMerchant Re:What's the point? (508 comments)

You might be surprised, my first medical app on Qt was targeted to OS-X, for a whole year, but as Director of Software Development, I chose Qt to hedge my bets against the day that OS-X got thrown under the bus for "business reasons." And, yes, especially in 2006, the Qt App was still in Carbon, while Cocoa was what all the cool Objective C kids were doing that week - and our in-house OS-X champion threw a hissy fit about it. Nobody else cared - it was a good looking app, just not quite up to the minute with latest OS-X styles.

So, two things happened by mid-2007. One, Qt updated to use Cocoa, and 95% of the OS-X champion's complaints about the app were solved for us by the trolls - zero code changes required by us. Two, the suits decided that we were merging our design efforts with a larger project that was Windows based, so OS-X did get thrown under the bus, as predicted. It took about 8 man hours to convert our Qt App from one that was written on OS-X, exclusively for OS-X, never tested on anything but OS-X, to running identically on Windows - and 7 of those man hours were wrapped up in converting OpenGL code....

I'm in medical now, and the primary target is Linux - but lots of use cases call for operation under Windows too....

about a week ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

JoeMerchant Re:What's the point? (508 comments)

I suppose it depends on your target market. I've written mostly for medical and military, and they never had complaints about Qt's ui. Even did a server based app with no UI, and Qt still made sense as the library because of the cross-platform requirements - lots of shared memory and other stuff is "wrapped up" and platform details handled by the library. I guess I've always been in small enough companies that "outsourcing to the trolls" was the better option - we'd never have delivered anything cross-platform if we had to hire multiple teams for implementation on each.
   

about a week ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

JoeMerchant Re:What's the point? (508 comments)

One thing I have learned to love about QObjects is their family tree and how it (mostly) garbage collects for you, when you use them properly. I really like the fact that my objects clean up their entire child structure as soon as they go out of scope - without a bunch of delete code required.

But, yeah, a testing team with valgrind will usually find a bunch of (trivial) "leaks" in my code, too - I'm talking about single objects that are created once and not destroyed before exit - technically, I don't call those leaks, but valgrind does.

about a week ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

JoeMerchant Re:What's the point? (508 comments)

What would slashdot be without arguments over semantics?

A hell of a lot smaller.

about two weeks ago
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If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

JoeMerchant Re:What's the point? (508 comments)

Gotta throw my perennial plug in for Qt/C++ for portability. As long as your target is desktop only, Qt is super portable, mature, and relatively complete.

Yes, they are just starting to get into serious mobile support, and I notice a lot of the "completeness" suffering as this transition takes place (old libs like QFtp are now "an exercise for the programmer" to port and include in Qt5 based projects.)

We had a Qt vs Python vs VB/Excel contest once - effort was roughly similar between the three to really do the job at hand, VB only won because the start and end point for the data was in Excel. The thing I find about most language comparisons comes down to "where is it socially acceptable to cut corners?" The scripting languages are very oriented toward the quick and dirty, zero error checking, zero declaration, zero structure programming - and if that's what you want, great. C++ enforces declarations and type checking on you - which, if you're doing anything of size, you actually do want. By the time you beef up a Python script to handle the edge and error cases and do all the stuff that the C++ program is probably doing at default level, then the Python isn't so quick or slick anymore.

about two weeks ago
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It's Dumb To Tell Kids They're Smart

JoeMerchant Re:They always told me I was so smart... (243 comments)

I also figured out that intelligence was a liability, and I've still seen very few environments where that wasn't true, and all of those only well after childhood.

Intelligence isn't a liability. Trying to tell other people they are wrong all the time is a liability. Telling people, "I am smarter than you, so you are wrong" is a liability.

You don't have to tell people you are smarter directly. I spooked the hell out of a girlfriend who had a crazy 3 on 5 off (with other kinks in the pattern) schedule because, after 2 weeks, I had it figured out and when we were making plans for something next week, I told her when she was working and when she was free: "how'd you know that?" "Well, you're working tomorrow and it's time for the 4 week long break..." "I only know my schedule by looking it up..." "Oh...."

People who perceive you are smarter (whether you are, or not) will often treat you as a threat. http://abcnews.go.com/Business...

Icahn has called CEOs the survivors of the corporate world, but says it's the "survival of the unfittest": "[The CEO] would never have anyone underneath him as his assistant that's brighter than he is because that might constitute a threat. So therefore, with many exceptions, we have CEO's becoming dumber and dumber and dumber."

about two weeks ago
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New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W

JoeMerchant Re:Do the math (336 comments)

There are manufacturers selling 2000-2200 W. vacuum cleaners.

That could really suck.

Sorry, had to be said. Move along now.

about two weeks ago
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Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

JoeMerchant Re:nuke it in orbit... (117 comments)

I don't doubt it's from Earth, to me the intriguing question is how did it get from the ocean to the station - did it hitch a ride with a launch vehicle, or is this high altitude sea spray?

If it is sea spray, it should be found on most long serving LEO satellites.

about two weeks ago
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Scientists Find Traces of Sea Plankton On ISS Surface

JoeMerchant Re:But is it really plankton? (117 comments)

Well, the cargo ship is one possibility, but when you consider the scale of the oceans and just how close the ISS is to them: if the Pacific Ocean were a sheet of Letter sized paper, the ISS would be zipping along 1/4" above it, and the ISS has been skimming along near the Earth's surface like this for years and years.

Now, think about hurricanes, typhoons, winter storms, and everything else that violently churns the ocean surface - aerosolizing some tiny fraction of it, but still including billions upon billions of plankton that go for a flight every year. Most fall back into the ocean, but some inevitably fly quite high....

What would be amazing to me is if these sea-launched plankton could actually hitch a ride on the passing ISS without getting lethally damaged in the transition. I suppose that on their scale, hitting a wall moving hundreds of miles per hour might not be as disruptive as it is for larger, multicellular organisms.

about two weeks ago
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Google Sells Maine Barge For Scrap

JoeMerchant Re:Monorail (79 comments)

Or, people could grow up and learn to work without needing coworkers in close physical proximity peer-pressuring them into being productive.

The arcology (from 1990s SimCity) or Google's mega structure may never come to pass if we develop sufficient network infrastructure that people can work from their homes, eliminating commute times completely. Sure, physical jobs still need physical presence, but information pushers (read: 90% of government, and most larger corporations), can push that information through video telepresence. I rented a car from the airport the other day, two people sitting at the counter were helping customers in lines 3 deep - then there's this little video kiosk, I walk up to it, pick up a telephone handset, and voila, an agent for the company located hundreds of miles away helps me, just as quickly and efficiently as the flesh and blood counter reps, probably better because he didn't have to get up and drive to the airport during morning rush hour in a big metro city. The people cleaning the cars and guarding the exit still need to be present, but the counter workers could have 20 square foot "office cubes" located in their homes, where they could work 5 or 6 hours a day, be more productive for the company, and spend 1/2 as much time on their workday.
 

about two weeks ago
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The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

JoeMerchant Re:Horseshit (145 comments)

The railroad is built, and kicked butt over ox and wagon, and has been outmoded by car/truck (thus my example) and plane - and left to rot.

Yes, train service sucks - unless you are a hopper car full of ore and don't particularly have a schedule.

about two weeks ago
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The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

JoeMerchant Re:A rather simplistic hardware-centric view (145 comments)

The article starts with the observation that the hardware bottleneck is mostly gone, if you can afford to supply basic coffee to your employees, the IT hardware doesn't cost much more than that - contrast that to 1991 when the PC on my desk cost 2 months of my salary, and our "network" was a 4 line phone sitting next to it (modems came to our office 5 years later).

Then, let's dream about what's next... you can dream, can't you?

about three weeks ago
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The Quiet Before the Next IT Revolution

JoeMerchant Re:Horseshit (145 comments)

If the "transcontinental railroad" is truly built, then the cloud won't be going down (for any significant amounts of time) in the future.

How often do you venture out onto the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system, stymied that you can't use it in the normal fashion (yes, rush hour in metro areas still needs work, mostly population control, I say, but...)?

If your "cloud is down" more than 5 minutes per day, or has a big (multi hour) outage more than once a year, then you have not yet arrived at modern (2014) IT nirvana.

about three weeks ago
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Algorithm Predicts US Supreme Court Decisions 70% of Time

JoeMerchant Re:Algorithm based on bias (177 comments)

Personally, I'd call an simplistic algorithm that gets 70% right brilliant, and one that has a tremendous amount of insight that also gets 70% correct overly complicated and prone to unpredictable failure.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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CryptoCat - an encrypted web-based chat

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Twenty-one-year-old college student Nadim Kobeissi is from Canada, Lebanon and the internet.

Cryptocat is an encrypted web-based chat. It’s the first chat client in the browser to allow anyone to use end-to-end encryption to communicate without the problems of SSL, the standard way browsers do crypto, or mucking about with downloading and installing other software. For Kobeissi, that means non-technical people anywhere in the world can talk without fear of online snooping from corporations, criminals or governments.

“The fact that you don’t have to install anything, the fact that it works instantly, this increases security,” he explained, sitting down with Wired at HOPE 9 to talk about Cryptocat, activism and getting through American airports."

Link to Original Source
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Amazon Android App Store - Mandatory One Click Ordering

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "So, it has finally arrived... since 2003ish I have been on the lookout for a decent, affordable (sub $100) web browsing device — and it came in the shape of 7" capacitive multitouch Android tablets from cheap off-brand manufacturers. But, this isn't a hardware review. This is a cautionary tale about the importance of choice in app-store compatibility. At least one of these devices is built with a strong preference for the Amazon App Store, yes, some apps can be side-loaded, but Google Play is specifically thwarted by the built-in Android image, making Amazon the "obvious" choice.

So, what's so bad about the Amazon App Store? Well, I personally don't mind that it runs continuously in the background as a kind of license server, though some people complain that it's hard on battery life (while others disagree)... my real beef with the Amazon App Store is its always active one-click: no password, app ordering, always available. The only way I have found to deactivate one-click app ordering is to uninstall the store, which deactivates ALL the apps that use it for license checking, which includes about 18 of the 20 apps I have tested.

You can say that Amazon's customer service is excellent and that they will refund any accidental purchases, you can say that they notify you of every app purchase immediately in e-mail; free and paid app purchase notifications look identical in every way until you click on each individual transaction to open it, and it is the same in Amazon's account review. This feels like a return to the old Record/DVD Club days where you get a bunch of cool stuff you want, very conveniently, for a reasonably good deal, but then have to fight to turn the thing off and eventually get charged for something you don't want, especially if you ever hand your tablet over to an elementary school aged child to play with unsupervised for any length of time.

After getting sucked in on the Free Apps, I finally purchased a couple of paid apps and was fairly shocked that, unlike the iPad, I didn't have to put in any kind of password. It's much less the 2x0.99 that bothers me than all the time and effort spent setting up two tablets, just to find out later that if I don't want to leave my credit card fully exposed for app purchases, I'll lose use of all the apps I have installed from their store. So, suck the customer in and after they have invested maybe 20 hours into your ecosystem, finally give them a clue that there's no way to turn off purchases, the parental controls options only apply to in-app purchases, not to app purchases themselves — and if your kids are smart enough to get into the master app listing, they can always launch the app store.

Response from Amazon Customer Service:

It was a pleasure to speak with you today! I know your time is valuable and I appreciate you spending some of it with Amazon Appstore support. Thanks for suggesting we add parental control for App purchases to the Amazon Appstore for Android. Customer feedback like yours really helps us continue to improve our products and provide better service to our customers. I've passed your suggestion to the Appstore team for consideration as we make future improvements. Thanks for taking time to offer us your thoughts. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Kind words, I really doubt the absence of password entry was any kind of oversight or accident."
Link to Original Source

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Apps for Apes

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Orangutans across the world may soon join the ranks of millions of humans as proud owners of new iPads. As strange as that may sound, a conservation group is testing out its "Apps for Apes" program, allowing orangutans to communicate with each other remotely via the iPad's video chat technology.

There has got to be an observation in there somewhere about the change this will bring in the average Apple user's intelligence levels..."

Link to Original Source
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Will Apple's iPad trademark prevail in China?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Chinese officials face a choice in Apple's dispute with a local company over the iPad trademark — side with a struggling entity that a court says owns the name or with a global brand that has created thousands of jobs in China. Experts say that means Beijing's political priorities rather than the courts will settle the dispute if it escalates.

What are the odds that, of 1.3 billion Chinese, one of them has a stronger legal claim to the name "iPad" than Apple?"

Link to Original Source
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Hacking Yogurt to make Prozac with Open Source DNA

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "While most people think biotechnology is complex, expensive and exclusively practiced in fancy lab settings, designer Tuur van Balen argues it is actually quite accessible. He demonstrates his vision on DIY biotechnology by creating an ‘anti-depressant yoghurt,’ using open source DNA on stage in a 7.5 minute video. Smakelijk!"
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Is it wrong to want opt-in?

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "I have had a Yahoo account since before the turn of the Century, and one of my biggest complaints about it was being required to download the Yahoo Messenger desktop software just to access the account management setting to block "Friend Requests" from every random spammer on the planet.

My Google account, by comparison, was relatively quiet and Friend-Spam-Free, until just recently — although the "quality" of Google friend spam is higher than Yahoo (most of the random people asking to "Friend" me actually have some kind of common interest listed in their profiles), it's still random Friend request spam from people who don't even know people I know. Now, I suppose I'm going to have to "pay" for some peace and quiet in my Google account by taking the time to decipher their settings process to turn these people off.

I know that both these services are provided free of monetary charge, and that I am "free" to walk away at any time, but I do feel like the victim of a submarine attack after they provide a good service for 10+ years and then, without even a "would you like to opt-in" dialog, start flooding me with daily friend requests from essentially random people.

Is there a similar "homepage" service out there that respects its user's privacy and doesn't demand their time and effort to adjust it to do so?"

Link to Original Source
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Learn Coding Online

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Online services like CodeCademy and Treehouse are making a business of teaching programming online. Despite the fact colleges are churning out more programmers, many fast-growing Silicon Valley companies say they still can't find enough of them.

Do you think that the online schools will add anything to traditional self-teaching of programming skills?"

Link to Original Source
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Ask Slashdot: What will you do with 128Gb/s RAM ba

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "Whiel manufacturers have been murmuring about 3D memory chips for years. Intel unveiled a Hybrid Memory Cube (HMC) at IDF, which promises seven times the energy efficiency of today's DDR3, and now IBM and Micron have shown their hand too. The pair just struck up a partnership to produce cubes using layers of DRAM connected by vertical conduits known as through-silicon vias (TSVs). These pillars allow a 90 percent reduction in a memory chip's physical footprint, a 70 percent cut in its appetite for energy, and a radical increase in bandwidth: HMC prototypes have already scored 128Gb/s. It certainly sounds like a game-changer."
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Floating home for tech start-ups

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Max Marty, founder of Blueseed, believes that US immigration laws are stifling entrepreneurs from other countries, so he plans to buy a ship and anchor it in international waters off the coast of California. He hopes that up to a thousand developers could live and work just 20 kilometres offshore, commuting via regular ferries to the mainland for meetings with clients and investors.

Ship residents will pay around $1200 per month for basic accommodation, which Marty says compares favourably with typical rents in San Francisco."

Link to Original Source
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Programming in Cell OS

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 2 years ago

JoeMerchant (803320) writes "An international team of synthetic biologists, led by professor of computer science Natalio Krasnogor at the University of Nottingham, hopes to change hopes to revolutionize synthetic biology with what they call Cell OS, a "bottom-up approach to cellular computing, in which computational chemical processes are encapsulated within liposomes." The team refers to this as "liposome logic" or "vesicle computing," which sounds analogous to the logic based off of the field-effect transistor, and it may be a part of the nascent "CellOS". The bold project is aptly named AUdACiOuS."
Link to Original Source
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Remote-Controlled Borg Beetle

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 4 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "A giant Borg beetle with implanted electrodes and a radio receiver on its back can be wirelessly controlled, according to research presented this week. Overlords at the University of California hivemind developed a tiny rig that receives control signals from the collective. Electrical signals delivered via the electrodes command the insect to take off, turn left or right, or hover in midflight. The research, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could one day be used for assimilation on a planetary scale.

Obligatory: Resistance is Futile ."

Link to Original Source
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Robotic radical hysterectomy has advantages

JoeMerchant JoeMerchant writes  |  more than 5 years ago

JoeMerchant writes "Robotic-assisted surgery has become an appealing tool for gynecologic oncology surgeons. However, to date, there is little data to confirm the benefits of this technology. Patients who underwent RRH had less blood loss and shorter hospital stays. "This robotic-assisted approach deserves further exploration to evaluate the full potential and application of RRH."

I for one...."

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