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Comments

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Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?

martinux Re:USB DACs (502 comments)

I'll have a look at some of those.

Many thanks.

about three weeks ago
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Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?

martinux Re:USB DACs (502 comments)

Would you mind advising on a suitable (preferably inexpensive) USB DAC? I have a gaming card in my PC so I'm covered in that regard.
I have a Starving Student headphone amplifier that I built but my laptop audio output is fairly poor and it's the device that I listen to most of my music on.

I'm handy enough with a soldering iron but there are a dizzying array of kits on ebay and from enthusiasts so I feel lost in all of the choice and opinion. Much of the opinion I am wary of as it has an element of snake-oil salesperson to it.

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

about three weeks ago
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Why P-values Cannot Tell You If a Hypothesis Is Correct

martinux Real world implications (124 comments)

Any researcher worth their salt states a p-value with enough additional information to understand if the p-value is actually meaningful. Anyone who looks at a paper and makes a conclusion besed solely (or largely) off a p-value without thinking about how meaningful the results are from a clinical or real-world perspective is being lazy or reckless.

I guess there are quite a few insightful XKCD strips but this one seems most apt, here: http://xkcd.com/552/

about 6 months ago
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Watch Bill Nye and Ken Ham Clash Over Creationism Live

martinux Re:I am reminded of pigs and engineers here (593 comments)

Ok, ok. You got me!

I am in fact part of the massive global worldwide conspiracy of scientists and old earth religious believers who have agreed to manipulate data to destroy the truth. You sir put forward such a magnificent case that I could no longer maintain the paper-thin cover that millions of us have constructed.

It is a sad sad day.

BRB. Calling the Vatican, most protestant denominations, muslims and all other persons whos ancestors have helped us keep the lie alive through the centuries. The cat is well and truely out of the bag.

about 6 months ago
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Watch Bill Nye and Ken Ham Clash Over Creationism Live

martinux Re:I am reminded of pigs and engineers here (593 comments)

While I agree with the general concept that everything should be examined and not taken at face value I would stress that this is not equivalent to "my non-fact based theory deserves as much time and attention as your evidence-based theory."

Ken Ham cannot provide a reasonable point-counterpoint because all he can do is make assertions that sound like science but are in fact not. It doesn't matter how polite and well spoken he is.

As Issac Asimov stated:
“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

The only value that this 'debate' will have is it will further reinforce exactly how delusional creationism is.

about 6 months ago
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Ampere Could Be Redefined After Experiments Track Single Electrons Crossing Chip

martinux Re:yeah because imperial (299 comments)

Force was redefined in the prequels as midichlorians multiplied by anger. Conveniently it's kept the same equation:

f = ma

about 7 months ago
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Iowa State AIDS Researcher Admits To Falsifying Findings

martinux Re:Wait, 3-year ban? (141 comments)

Given that you consider all scientists and the peer review process to be entirely corrupt who would you trust to be knowledgable and honest enough to sit on this 'Truth Panel'?

I'm not sure if you're a troll or you are just deeply cynical. I just hope that at some point you recognise that we all have an inbuilt bias to inflate the effect of negative aspects of reality and miss the positives https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negativity_bias. Then again, I can see the benefits of being a pessimist: You're going to swing between being either correct or pleasantly surprised.

about 7 months ago
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Iowa State AIDS Researcher Admits To Falsifying Findings

martinux Re:Wait, 3-year ban? (141 comments)

I would agree to an extent that quantity of research is being pushed as the be all and end all (as Prof. Higgs lamented). In the UK people are attending university to get a sheet of paper that proves their marketability. There are an increasing number of 'fluff' degrees requiring an increasing number of lecturers who can teach 'fluff' who are being pushed to prove that their fluff not only is valuable fluff but is the best fluff by the accountants and marketers running the universities. As a result you get researchers pushing out reams of crap in journals with low impacts simply to give the illusion of productivity and allow marketers to print a long list of studies beside their photos in university profile pages.

The knock on result is that all researchers are being pressured to publish an equivalent number of papers as anything less just proves they're lazy and unproductive in comparison to the fluff producers by bureaucrats who equate all studies as equal.

You're nodding along with me now as I'm painting a pretty bleak picture that agrees with your assessment. However, your blanket statement that nobody cares about research quality is profoundly incorrect. I know many many scientists who get their work done despite the aforementioned pressures and who 'care'. I know it's easy to tar everyone with the same brush but many of us are still doing science because we want to learn and report new things.

Taking a cynical view is easy but as TFA points out, there are more than enough people that care ensuring that fabrications are discovered.

about 7 months ago
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Iowa State AIDS Researcher Admits To Falsifying Findings

martinux Re:Wait, 3-year ban? (141 comments)

It's a defacto lifetime ban. Short of moving to another country he will have the stigma of this for as long as he tries to get a job in science. Any research he previously reported will now be subject to significant scrutiny.

Just imagine him, or anyone attached to a group he's attached to, trying to get future federal funding; "We've decided to turn down your application for [insert any reason]."

He's now a liability to any university or research group. The only people who might hire him are some unscrupulous company who need a yes-man who will provide 'sympathetic' findings. Even then the work will most likely be under a pseudonym and will have to survive all of the extra scrutiny a 'sponsored' research study gets.

Thankfully, science is a self-correcting mechanism as this uncovering has demonstrated.

about 7 months ago
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Surge In Litecoin Mining Leads To Graphics Card Shortage

martinux Re:How about the latest batch of the Rx 200 cards? (213 comments)

The general consensus is that the newer cards are faster but they are also drawing more power per 'unit of work' and thus are not as good a solution. Note that this has not stopped people using these cards (and indeed, older, less powerful cards) as one can still make a small profit on relatively modest hardware.

Ultimately the aim of the coin miner is to find the hardware that provides a reasonable mining rate whilst costing as little to run as possible. At some point the value of a litecoin may increase to the point where electricity costs become less of a factor in the choice of mining hardware. You'll start to see people moving to the newer cards if this happens.

Another thing to consider is ASICs. These devices are generally expensive in terms of R&D but their performance can be orders of magnitude higher than GPUs. The problem described in the article is that ASICs are not ideal at solving scrypt. However, I think it's inevitable that hardware specifically designed to mine litecoin is inevitable if the value continues to rise.

about 8 months ago
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Surge In Litecoin Mining Leads To Graphics Card Shortage

martinux Re:Ummm Bullshit (213 comments)

What in fact has happened is the availability of a number of optimal* cards - particularly the Radeon 7950 - have massively decreased due to miners buying them. As you would expect market demand has resulted in a significant price hike. Radeon cards provide higher hash rates than nVidia cards and so they are more popular to miners in general. There are a number of benefits to litecoin, particularly the faster transaction time. If you're a litecoin miner decryption is optimised for GPUs rather than ASICs (which have a much, much higher uptake in bitcoin mining) and thus is not the realm of high-cost ASICs or FPGAs.

Whilst I do appreciate that bitcoin and litecoin are 'hot topics' at the moment there are many interesting consequences that have emerged as a result of the uptake in both the currency and technology required to maintain the currency. Thus, I do think there is something to talk about here.

* The cards are optimal in that they give the fastest hash-rate to power-consumption ratio.

about 8 months ago
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Weak Statistical Standards Implicated In Scientific Irreproducibility

martinux Re:Five Sigma or Bust (182 comments)

I work in this field and usually see power calculations recommending samples of non-viable size.

I can see recruiting hundreds of subjects as being feasible in the US or a large european country but in smaller countries one simply has to state clearly in a paper's limitations that any findings must be interpreted in light of the available sample.

about 9 months ago
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Cold War Spoils: Amateur Builds Telescope With 70-Inch Lens

martinux Re:Largest Amateur telescope. (101 comments)

Correction: Obviously 1845 was not over 200 years ago. I don't think this undermines the point, however.

about 9 months ago
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Cold War Spoils: Amateur Builds Telescope With 70-Inch Lens

martinux Re:Largest Amateur telescope. (101 comments)

William Parsons (Lord Rosse) cast and figured his mirrors with 1845 technology that he helped improve through his own efforts. It doesn't matter what the sensitivity or apparent size is in relation to a mirror created with 20th century technology developed by Lockheed with unknown millions in government funding. The Leviathan has a larger diameter mirror which is the criteria many news sources are using to claim that Mr. Clements's telescope is the largest ever built.

I'm saddened to see that this has turned into some kind of competition.

A guy in Utah built a 70 inch telescope using a prefabricated mirror smaller in diameter than one that was created over 200 years earlier, the fact that it's not a world record does not undermine his achievement. Reporting it as being the largest amateur telescope ever constructed is inaccurate at best no matter how one reasons it out.

Clements deserves serious kudos for his efforts but comparing them to those of Parsons is unreasonable. Parsons achievements far exceed those of Clements.

about 9 months ago
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Sparkfun's Entire Open Hardware Catalog Made Available On Upverter

martinux Re:Huh? (38 comments)

You're not considering the modular nature of electronics.

With open hardware designs you can take a circuit schematic and integrate it with another circuit without having to go to all the trouble of generating it from scratch. Instead of dropping single components into a design you can drop a device like an accelerometer and all associated components as a complete circuit and then produce a PCB with everything on one board.

It's the reason there are so many custom arduino-based variants available - people were able to take the original design then change the form-factor or add something.

about 10 months ago
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Open Source Photometry Code Allows Amateur Astronomers To Detect Exoplanets

martinux Re:Open the floodgates! (38 comments)

The AC stares blankly at his monitor. AC shifts in their comfortable chair and then takes a moment to swallow a highly specific quantity of painkiller to combat the headache that's been bothering them for the past few hours. Inadvertently, AC drops some food onto their lap; nomatter, the washing machine in combination with that stain remover will make short work of that come laundry day.

A thought flits into AC's head for a moment, something about where all this technology came from. A related concept goes screaming past attached to the thought of sharing a picture of a cat with a humourous caption attached.

"Thank God for all this cool technology", thinks the AC.

about a year ago
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Amateur Astronomer Bruce Berger Talks About Telescopes, Part II (Video)

martinux Re:The best telescope (31 comments)

Awesome question which depends on the kid. Generally speaking I'd recommend:

A copy of the Cosmos series to inspire them. I cannot speak highly enough about this series.
Install Stellarium on a computer, it's free. It allows them to learn a phenominal amount about what to look for and doesn't require a dark sky.
A red filter for their torch and a plastic planisphere https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planisphere
Total cost: £20-£30 (UK prices, cheaper in the US)

Take them outside and let them try and identify the constellations using their planisphere. If they're enjoying what they're doing and are engaged after a few nights it's time to invest in a pair of bino's (preferably tripod-mounted though this is not critical). If they get bored you have bino's which are useful for other things or can be sold on. If for some reason they break the binos it's not a big deal. You can pick up binos and a solid tripod second-hand (used) without spending too much. There are specialised astro binoculars, don't worry about those when you're starting. With bino's they'll be able to see a lot of detail on the moon's surface, planets, quite a number of Jupiter and Saturn's moons and some detail in the 'faint fuzzies' (deep sky objects). Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 bino's are a safe bet.
Cost: Potientially as low as £60

If they're still engaged after working with binos for a few months it's time to start thinking about newtownian telescopes. You get far more bang for your buck with these scopes (sensitivity) than a small refractor and there's no chromatic abberation. Of the two mounting options, dobsonian (alt-az) is the most immediately intuitive but if you're willing to put a little time in, a manual german equatorial mount or GEM makes tracking objects a lot easier. Aim for around 4 inches of aperture. A Celestron 127EQ is a great little beginner option.
Cost: £120

I'm in danger of looking like I favour Celestron over other manufacturers - this isn't the case. You'll find a fair bit of competition in the low-end of the telescope market so Skywatcher, Meade, Celestron, Orion and GSO are all good manufacturers. As with everything, read the reviews before buying.

about a year ago
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Amateur Astronomer Bruce Berger Talks About Telescopes, Part II (Video)

martinux The best telescope (31 comments)

I can't stress enough that the best telescope is one you're going to use. I've seen a few people spend a lump of cash on a shed-ornament.
Coming home after a long day at work and expecting to spend an hour setting up a german equatorial mount or wheeling out a heavy dobsonian will quickly kill your enthusiam.

Determining which scope is best for you involves checking out other people's gear at star parties or at a local astro club. Ask questions like "how often do you use this?" and "how long does it take to set up?" as well as "what can you see?". Remember that location is pretty important but it is not the be-all and end-all of astronomy. Dobson would routinely show people planets and deep sky objects from the middle of the light-polluted city with his constructed telescopes but you can buy a little grab and go scope of much smaller aperture and see much much more from a site with low light pollution.

Another mistake I see lots of people making (even telescope manufacturers!) is to pair a scope with a mount that cannot support it. You'll get a far better view through a small scope on a solid mount than with a large scope on an insufficiently robust mount.

Please don't drop a few hundred dollars on a shiny telescope hoping that you'll see wonders straight away. It's tempting to a lot of people and is a likely way to kill all your enthusiasm for a highly rewarding passtime when you realise you're spending more time fighting with the instrument than you are using it.

Most importantly, do not give one of those crappy National Geographic style scopes to a kid. Presenting astronomy as a frustrating experience will ruin it for them for a long time.

Find what works for you - a little research goes a long, long way.

Clear skies.

about a year ago
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RC Plane Attack 'Foiled,' Say German Authorities

martinux Slashdot is gooooo! (233 comments)

Cue 400 posts from enthusiastic slashdotters with RC experience explaining exactly where they went wrong.

Expect discussion of cargo capacity, range, optimal fuel mixes, construction materials, markings proven to increase terror...

about a year ago

Submissions

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UK government representatives solicit opinions on opt-out web filter

martinux martinux writes  |  more than 2 years ago

martinux (1742570) writes "Representatives of the UK Conservative government are considering an opt-out web-filter. The promoters of the idea acknowledge that no method of filtering is 100% effective yet are maintaining it is necessary to block "harmful" material because parents may be unable.

Those who advocate personal responsibility may wish to take the time to submit reasons why such a filtering mechanism is harmful to society and ultimately ineffectual."

Link to Original Source
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Andrew Ainsworth 1; Lucasarts 0

martinux martinux writes  |  about 3 years ago

martinux (1742570) writes "The BBC reports: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12910683
Andrew Ainsworth — a prop designer from the United Kingdom — has bested Lucasarts in a lengthy legal battle. He created many of the props used in the StarWars film franchise, notably the Stromtrooper helmet.

Mr Ainsworth sells the props through his website http://www.sdsprops.com/ a venture that George Lucas considered to infringe upon his IP."

Link to Original Source

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