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Undersea Neutrino Observatory To Be Second-Largest Human Structure

empiricistrob a bit disingenuous (120 comments)

I think it's a bit disingenuous to say that this is the second-largest human created structure. While this is an impressive experiment which I think is very clever and great for physics, calling this a structure is a bit of a joke. If you were to call an array of phototubes a structure you could easily compare it to, say, the street lights of Los Angeles -- which I'm sure would be counted as a larger "structure".

more than 2 years ago

MythBusters Bust House

empiricistrob Re:Remember (631 comments)

I live a few miles away from this neighborhood. Just for clarification: This is your normal run of the mill suburban neighborhood. I'm guessing that the vast majority of the people who live in the area are unaware of the existence of the range.

more than 2 years ago

How Do I Get Back a Passion For Programming?

empiricistrob Re:Sucks to be you! (516 comments)

I just want to point out that this is absolutely 100% different in the Bay Area. In the Bay Area there are essentially zero unemployed qualified programmers. I'm an employer who is actively hiring -- every candidate that I've sent an offer to has received at minimum 3 other offers (usually within their first week of interviewing). The salaries have skyrocketed (thanks google & facebook) -- a qualified developer with 5+ years of experience starts at $100k -- minimum.

more than 2 years ago

Oracle vs Google: Copyright Claims Must Remain

empiricistrob Re:API? (166 comments)

Uhm... an API is much more than a phone number. I think equating those two is ridiculous. An API is a huge set of interfaces with specific names and behaviors. A better analogy would be a phone book -- but one that you created from scratch and wasn't based on any public information.

The real point, in my opinion, is whether Oracle *protected* their copyright to the API. It seems to me that Sun/Oracle treated the API more-or-less like it was public domain. I never accepted an agreement that stated I only had permission to read the API docs for use with an approved JVM. This is sort of like publishing a short story on the internet, it goes viral and is used by tens of thousands of people (reposted on blogs, etc), and then ten years later someone puts it a book and the original author claims that it's copyright infringement. Typically with IP law you have to protect your IP or you loose your rights.

more than 2 years ago

Firefox 7.0 Beta Released

empiricistrob Re:Aw c'mon (237 comments)

I agree that it's annoying, but in practice I don't think this causes any compatibility issues. Before did you worry separately about whether you support 3.5, 3.5.1, ..., 3.6,3.6.1, etc? Probably not. Now you should probably just think of FF4-7 as being essentially the same version until you find out otherwise (just as you likely did previously with the minor version numbers).

more than 2 years ago

Doom Ported To the Web

empiricistrob Re:Wow (248 comments)

I agree that we should start considering replacing javascript as a language. Why not provide a strongly typed extension to javascript? Javascript would get a lost faster.

more than 3 years ago

War Over Arsenic Based Life

empiricistrob Re:Scientific Method (155 comments)

But what do you mean "under similar conditions"? Over interpreting "under similar conditions" is equivalent to throwing away induction.

And if you're willing to throw away induction then we need to say goodbye to all of science. Past experiments show that apple's fall to the ground, but none of these experiments have been conducted in the year 2012. Therefore saying that apples will continue to fall to the ground in 2012 is an unscientific statement.

I'm sorry, but I prefer all of the knowledge that science has gotten us, and that includes empiricism *and* inductive reasoning.

more than 3 years ago

War Over Arsenic Based Life

empiricistrob Re:Scientific Method (155 comments)

I'm so tired of people saying this -- if you can't replicate an experiment with the same starting conditions then it's not science -- that it total and complete bullshit.

Science works like this:
Step 1. Formulate a hypothesis.
Step 2. Test the hypothesis.
Step 3.
If hypothesis checks out, repeat step 2. After sufficient iterations call it a theory.
If hypothesis doesn't check out, throw it out and formulate a new hypothesis.

*no where* in the above does it require you to have the same starting conditions. In the case of global warming the hypotheses are of the form "Higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere will lead to higher temperatures". There are *many* ways you can test these hypotheses -- you don't need to have a model earth to play with.

more than 3 years ago

The Spin of a Star Reveals Its Age

empiricistrob Re:Calculations are not direct observations. (67 comments)

That's not even remotely right.

Here's how science works (as it applies to astronomy):
- You form a hypothesis. In the case of astronomy this would most likely be a concrete mathematical model.
- Your model has predictions which you test.
- If the predictions are valid you look for more ways of testing the model. If not, you scratch it.

Observing the creation and death of one star is *not* necessary to test these models. There are an astronomical(!) number of stars to observe. You have plenty of stars in different stages of development to test the model with.

Certainly the model could be wrong, even if the data are consistent with it, but that does not make it unscientific.

more than 3 years ago

Exabit Transmission Speeds May Be Possible

empiricistrob Faster than silicon (98 comments)

So in theory if you can get an electrical signal to the graphene, you can use it to modulate laser light up to 500ghz. Awesome!

That just leaves two fatal flaws:
1. You need to modulate the electric signal with useful information at 500ghz. I'm not an expert, but it seems like we're a long way off from being able to do that. Can anyone comment?
2. How do you demodulate such a signal?

more than 3 years ago

Human Powered Helicopter Aims To Break Records

empiricistrob Re:Stored energy (87 comments)

Totally agreed. A helicopter that relies on the ground effect isn't practical. But neither is a human-powered helicopter. Practicality is obviously not the point here.

more than 3 years ago

Is Science Just a Matter of Faith?

empiricistrob Woh woh woh (1486 comments)

Not even close. Trusting people is *not* the same as faith in the religious sense. Not even close. When you trust an expert, you hold them accountable. If someone claims to be an expert and gives you advice that turns out to be wrong, you stop trusting them as an expert. In essence you use empiricism for evaluation which experts to trust.

It is ridiculous to conflate this with a blind belief in a supernatural entity with *no evidence*. There is *no* empiricism in religious faith.

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft Continues Android Legal Assault

empiricistrob Re:IF they hold the patents (344 comments)

It's a blurry line between ideas and implementations. For example, Edison wouldn't have been able to patent the "idea" of a bulb that produces light, but he was able to patent the "implementation" of using a metal filament in an evacuated bulb, etc. But that's just an idea too, and you could say that the specific implementation would involve the exact size of the filament and metal composition, etc -- but that's more specific than his patent.

My point being: The term implementation in software tends to mean something much more specific than a patent is intended to protect. In software an implementation typically refers to the specific code. The lightbulb analogy would be the specific shape of the glass, the specific composition of the filament, the size, the way it's mounted, etc. Patents are *broader* than that, but not so broad that you can just cover some arbitrary idea like "an electronic device that produces light".

more than 3 years ago

CS Prof Decries America's 'Internal Brain Drain'

empiricistrob Re:We should have got rid of all these.. right? (791 comments)

Wage depressing strategies?

I'm sorry, but this is BS. I'm an employer in California desperately searching for skilled programmers. I've been searching for about 3 months now and I haven't found any qualified programmers (java web developers) with a salary requirement less than $100k. Of about 50 serious applicants I've reviewed less than 5 have been citizens. A few of those were qualified but were looking for salaries at minimum of $100k.

The unqualified americans were looking for salaries roughly around the $60k mark. Compare that to the 45 H-1B applicants who were also not qualified, but given the job description I legally would be required to pay them $72k/yr.

From my perspective there's nothing wage depressing about H-1B visas. You're legally required to provide them the prevailing wage, and in my case I can find americans with similar skills for less than the legally required wage.

There is a serious lack of talented skilled american programmers. You can't find them until you get in the $100-$150k/yr range.

If you're a talented programmer 4 years out of college you can easily be making $100k/yr. I just can't see that being a deterring factor when people are deciding which career they want to go into.

more than 3 years ago

NYTimes Unveils Online Subscription Plan

empiricistrob Re:why would I pay for news? (194 comments)

Why would you pay for news? Perhaps because you value journalism? Because high quality journalism is essential for a well functioning democracy? Because you don't want to read news where 50% of the headlines are about Lindsay Lohan or "human interest stories"?

more than 3 years ago

NYTimes Unveils Online Subscription Plan

empiricistrob Expensive (194 comments)

I'm very conflicted by this move from the times. In my opinion is one of the best sources of journalism on the web, and I've always been concerned that in the long run their business model wouldn't be sustainable. I think that paying money to support good journalism makes a lot of sense -- it's too important not to.

But $15/mo for the entry level? That's really disappointing. There are many readers that will not be able to afford this. I was hoping the entry level would be closer to the $5/mo mark.

more than 3 years ago

Third Blast At Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Plant

empiricistrob Re:Meltdown? (691 comments)

Close, but not quite:
V=1.4e18 m^3
m = 1.4e18 kg
E = (1.4e18 kg) * (4187 J/kg*K) = 5.8e21 (21 -- not 24)
E/c^2 = 65 metric tons

Still, your general point is absolutely valid.

more than 3 years ago

Sensor Measures In Fingertips If Driver Is Drunk

empiricistrob Re:DUI Hysteria (549 comments)

Less than 3000 people died on September 11th, which triggered two wars, the patriot act, erosion of privacy in many ways ,etc. This, for a change, is a *pragmatic* way to improve our society with not a lot of money and energy (again, compared to the cost of the war on terror for 3000 lives). 9000 lives per year and a measured response vs 3000 lives one time and mass hysteria and fundamentally changing society.... This does not even come close to being placed on the scale of "hysteria".

more than 3 years ago

What Exactly Is a Galaxy?

empiricistrob Re:Voting? (225 comments)

Just like a meter isn't a scientific term. No theories depend on the definition of a meter.

more than 3 years ago



Remote Television Options

empiricistrob empiricistrob writes  |  more than 5 years ago

empiricistrob (638862) writes "In a few months my wife and I are moving to Switzerland to work on the LHC. We're hoping to take US television over with us to help minimize the culture shock. Several off the shelf solutions exist to watch TV remotely, such as Slingbox, but none of them seem adequate. Specifically Slingbox works in conjunction with your DVR, but it seems silly to have two boxes when one properly set up computer should be able to do the task. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to pipe domestic television abroad? I'm currently thinking of setting up something with MythTV. Perhaps use the web interface to schedule recordings and have a cronjob to scp the video over. Are there any better solutions?"


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