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Interviews: Ask Tim O'Reilly About a Life Steeped In Technology

plcurechax e-books? (39 comments)

What do you see or expect for the future of electronic-centric publishing?

Are e-books going to be dominated by the established publishing companies tendency to try and extend their control over the works of their authors, and their customers, as demonstrated with the limiting of adopting due to DRM, and fear of digital piracy?

Will there be a role for publishers, perhaps as curators and editors (in both senses of the word) of fiction and non-fictional works, separate from that of the retailers?

Will authors be able to find an economically sustainable means of financing their writing (including any necessary research) that can withstand the perils of near-free proliferation of illicit unlicensed digital copies of their works? Or will authors have to have either patrons (sponsors) (e.g. literary awards' prize money) or employers (e.g. academics) who pay them to write, perhaps limiting most content to be "safe" or "salable" topics for the most part.

about three weeks ago

"Secret Serum" Used To Treat Americans With Ebola

plcurechax Re:"Secret" (390 comments)

It's only "secret" in the sense that almost all pharmaceutical research is completely ignored by the media.

If you dig around you'll find some articles about ZMAPP in no-name low-impact journals like PNAS and Science.

They (the media) mean Mapp Biotech didn't issue a big-name PR firm to issue a press release about this "secret" (pre human trials) treatment, which is how most "science" and "health" news is researched by the media.

Does Mapp even have a publicly traded stock? No mention of ticker symbol, how could they be a real pharmaceutical company without hyping that?

I mean my kids have a NASDAQ Biotech company now, after their lemonade stand was closed down by the IRS for not printing a "forwarding looking disclosure" on their investment prospectus (aka napkins).

about three weeks ago

"Secret Serum" Used To Treat Americans With Ebola

plcurechax Re:Expert:Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People A (390 comments)

As another researcher in the pharma industry: reread your post. Your entire post is only highlighting how poor of a job pharmaceutical companies do at effectively bringing drugs to market, all while adding the inefficiency of a 20% profit margin.

Emphasis added

Notice that said "bringing drugs to markets," not the basic funding for preliminary basic research into the actual discovery and isolation of the basic drug and/or drug interaction, which continues to be funded (95+%) by the federal governments of the G8 nations.

Then being granted a 18 or 20-years monopoly (from patent file date admittedly, not marketing approval date), if you successfully complete the marketing research without killing too many test participants. Although for any "successful" to "blockbuster" drug the entire pre-approval expense including administration and marketing is more than recouped by double in the first year of sales.*

The cited book ($800 Million Pill) is not the only ones to criticize and rebut the $800 million dollar figure which is oft-touted in the media, actually comes from the DiMasi's 2001 paper The price of innovation: new estimates of drug development costs.. Thought even the Wall Street Journal notes "[f]or instance, only $403 million of Dr. DiMasi's $802 million total are actual out-of-pocket expenses. The rest is an estimated cost of capital -- or the return that investing the money at an 11% rate of return would have earned over time." Non-executives-types would call it fudging the numbers.

* The $800 million pill book by Merrill Goozner.

about three weeks ago

"Secret Serum" Used To Treat Americans With Ebola

plcurechax Re:Expert:Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People A (390 comments)

There is no reason American health programs can not do the same.

Actually there is a law against that."The 2003 Medicare law* prohibits Medicare from negotiating drug prices, setting prices or establishing a uniform list of covered drugs, known as a formulary."

*: full title "Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act"

about three weeks ago

Barry Shein Founded the First Dialup ISP (Video)

plcurechax Re:UUNET in 1987? (116 comments)

The company I worked for was dialing into UUNET back in 1987/88. Why aren't they considered the first

Because UUnet didn't offer dial-up TCP/IP connectivity (or Inter-networking) back in the 1980's, they offered dial-up UUCP (unix-to-unix-copy) services for Usenet (NetNews) and email (with ! (bang) addresses).

They offered backbone IP access in 1990 via its AlterNet service based on the Wikipedia article you linked.!!...!uunet

about three weeks ago

US Army To Transport American Ebola Victim To Atlanta Hospital From Liberia

plcurechax FUD much? (409 comments)

I know there are brilliant doctors and scientists in Atlanta who handle highly-communicable diseases, but is this such a brilliant idea?

When did Slashdot become home to stupid FUD* spewing dweebs with little or no common sense? The subtitle is "News for Nerds," which would suggest somebody who submits something might have half a clue about what they are talking about (leaving the plebs to pontificate on logical and scientific fallacy or imagine a Beowulf cluster of hot grits ).

I want my Slashdot with nerds filter enabled.

And yes it is an excellent idea, because it gives the CDC a living "test tube" of the actual active Ebola virus, not a sample of infected blood collected, and shipped on ice. Making it ideal for study, and possibly detection of any variant (i.e. mutation) that had not been notice before. Of course, this will likely cost the American doctor his/her life, but such is the risk of fighting an viral outbreak, and the real-world beyond web forums and politicians rambling.

* FUD: Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

about a month ago

An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

plcurechax Citing Wikipedia (189 comments)


[...] The point being, Wikipedia is not a source of anything, it is the product of a series of sources. So you do not cite Wikipedia, you cite the article it points to.[...]

Careful. While you can use Wikipedia as a meta-index to find references, you can only cite those 3rd-party references if and only if you actually obtain a copy and view the content yourself.

Otherwise you are merely shifting from hoping that the content to Wikipedia is accurate, complete, etc. to hoping that the citations are both a) Real, and b) the Wikipedia content that cites the 3rd-party source, is accurate in its portrayal of the cited work's content.

For example, I could cite the Gutenberg bible (or pick your favorite "lost" historic title found only in the Vatican library) as the reference for the existence of aliens on Earth, and given the rarity and inaccessibility of such a reference, very few, if any Wikipedians have access to counter such citation. And that Douglas Adams ripped off "42" and "the meaning life, the universe, and everything" from Al-Khwarizmi's Hisab al-jabr wÃ(TM)al-muqabala, Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala. Not necessarily true, but hard to disprove.

about a month ago

Oracle Offers Custom Intel Chips and Unanticipated Costs

plcurechax So, what does the in-memory database option do? (97 comments)

In the dark days of computing history before AJAX was even conceived and Mad Men were still crazies, "in-memory databases" meant that the database INDEX was in RAM (ideally if you DB admin was worth their salary), but then people wanted to pretend their were the next Google, famous for their massive search index in the pentabytes of storage, so hipsters started the NoSQL fad to be awkward like middle-aged men in skinny jeans as a vain attempt to self-proclaim their importance.

Now Oracle is making money by selling RDBM to organizations that spent more money and time on hookers and coke than doing real IT management. The Old is New, yet again.

Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

about 1 month ago

Oracle Offers Custom Intel Chips and Unanticipated Costs

plcurechax Sales flow chart. (97 comments)

Anyone who buys solutions deserved to be parted with their money.

about 1 month ago

Ask Slashdot: Supporting "Antique" Software?

plcurechax Re:20 year old antique?? (212 comments)

Am I the only one laughing at the thought something from the early 90s is now considered antique?

Ha, darn kids probably can't fathom the idea that there were real computers in use by companies and organizations before those flashy single chip microprocessor based PCs were all the rage.

No mention of minis like PDP, VAX/VMS (RIP DEC), CDC Cyber (12-bit bytes), Data General, or IBM & Unisys mainframes.

Thankfully there was at least mention of Zilog's Z80, terminal servers, RS-422/485, and green screens.

Bunch of whiny kids. Next they'll complain their first automobile or hand-me-down cathode ray tube colour television doesn't have WiFi and a web browser. Get old my lawn.

Heck, I develop, maintain, and extend software that's over 20 years old. I've worked on software written before I was born. Software approaching 50 years old is more like what I would consider ancient. Like much of the insurance and banking industry in Europe and North America.

So. my serious bit: Learn about industrial computer market, products, and vendors. Use industrial USB to RS-232C converter in most cases (where timing or bit banging isn't used), not the $5 USB-to-serial adapter from the big box electronics store. Take a class from your local community college if PLC or ladder logic is relevant to your environment.

about a year ago

Boycott of Elsevier Exceeds 8000 Researchers

plcurechax Re:Public is Public (220 comments)

For example, a lot of research in computer graphics

Which is a very young field (first article published in late 1960's? the term was coined in 1960, Ivan Sutherland started in 1959 or so on MIT's TX-2), so is not necessarily indicative of all fields. The researchers mean age also tends to be lower, with many professors and professionals not being as badly affected by the greying of labour force in general (or in tenured professorship).

I don't think it's my imagination: the number of recent graphics papers with substantial contributions behind ACM paywalls seems to be dwindling fast.

Reference? Not disputing at all, just haven't noticed such a trend personally. I do know that many academic types do make their papers available, but industry contributors are still mixed, I imagine in part due to their companies own damn lawyers who don't want to lose a potential patent or revenue stream. I don't believe Ken Penlin, Ed Catmull, or Ivan Sutherland's papers are (officially) freely available.

While Computer Science itself is modern field, and computer graphics has a short history, they also are computing pioneers in personality, of whom most are early adopters of Internet technology and culture.

more than 2 years ago

Career Advice: Don't Call Yourself a Programmer

plcurechax EM&C (422 comments)

EM&C - Electron Manager & Capitalist

more than 2 years ago

Re-evaluating the Benefits of Cancer Screening

plcurechax The risk of false positives outweight the risks... (253 comments)

The change in policy stems from good mathematics, namely good statistics. Where the number of people who are subjected to a test may suffer from one of two failures,

a) false negative - that is the test fails to detect the presence of a disease and thus incorrectly reports a negative results, and
b) false positive, the test incorrectly reports a positive result, but the disease is not actually present.

The problem is that with a large pool of test population and a small affected sub-population, the misleading results are counter-intuitive, and can end up causing more harm (otherwise healthy individuals undergoing unnecessary biopsies, radiation, and chemotherapy increase mortality rate) to the overall population.

See The dangers of false positives by Dr. Dave Richeson, don't take my word on it.

more than 2 years ago

Open Source Software Hijacked To Push Malware

plcurechax Re:Digital Signatures (from distributions) (147 comments)

this is entirely and precisely why distros such as debian go to such lengths to place GPG digital signatures on the downloads; why they go to such lengths to enact extensive GPG key-signing web-of-trust exchanges etc. etc.

And Microsoft has gone to considerable lengths to promote and strongly encourage the usage of code signing for installers of Windows software. In fact many if not most of the larger Open Source projects that have a large Windows community sign their code too.

The problem is that people are use to ignoring the security warnings from Microsoft, compared to most administrators (or root/sudo users) read and heed security warnings in Linux and *BSD package management.

more than 3 years ago

How Do You Get Your Geek Nostalgia Fix?

plcurechax I grab my soldering iron... (422 comments)

and build retro micro-computer kits, like the Replica 1 (Apple I clone, MOS Tech 6502), and Spare Time Gizmo's COSMAC Elf 2000 (RCA CDP1802 CPU). I also have an unfinished N8VEM Z80 single board computer (SBC) with an optional S-100 like backplane called ECB, and multiple expansion boards

Who needs more than 4 MHz, I can't type 50wpm anyhow; :-)

more than 3 years ago

Congress Voting To Repeal Incandescent Bulb Ban

plcurechax Re:Wrong summary (990 comments)

Just so we are clear - there never was an incandescent light bulb ban; this was/is spin.

So wall mounted open torches are still entirely legal in all Department of Motor Vehicle and IRS buildings?

more than 3 years ago

Apple Wants To Block Some HTC Products From US Under Tariff Act of 1930

plcurechax Re:Apple has almost always been worse than MS (297 comments)

I'm sure Stallman and the FSF / GNU had a serious hate-on towards Apple years ago when Macintosh were still running on 68x00 and PowerPC CPUs (i.e. 1990s).

Apple was walled garden back then too, it was just that they were merely the size of most PC clone manufacturers / OEMs so no one else really cared.

more than 3 years ago

Programming Is Heading Back To School

plcurechax Re:This will turn off some portion of students (169 comments)

You did note that it is an education program for teachers, designed to give them material to teach to public school (primary / elementary and secondary school) level students, that is under 18.

And because it is important to stress this point, this material is intended to be taught by teachers, not programmers, to any student. The goal of such a program should be basically to look behind the curtain of prepackaged applications and understand the basics, in general terms, of how computer systems (hardware and software) work. Whether they become programmers (or do other IT job) is irrelevant, the first goal of education is knowledge. It is also an opportunity for students to try to experiment, and to be creative, where students with strong mathematics, logic and analytic skills may find easier to express themselves creatively rather than in essay writing assignments in English (or other language) classes where linguistic and writing skills are more ambiguous and subjective when it comes to evaluation.

Motivational agents for children include: social contact (& status), monetary, and entertainment. Most kids don't have much real-work that needs to be done / automated. Of course there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions.

more than 3 years ago

16-Year-Old Discovers Potential Treatment For Cystic Fibrosis

plcurechax Re:He will shortly find himself in court... (236 comments)

Not true. Canada does it's on clinical trials and usually takes a little longer in their process which is why you'll see the same drugs approved in Canada a year or two later.

The government (Health Canada or FDA) does not do their own clinical trials, (phase III, IV in US parlance IIRC), though the pharmaceutical company may do them in Canada, as an adjunct or alternative to US, as the test subjects have free basic (normally not drugs) health care, which can reduce the cost to underwrite the study and potentially raise the averge health of test subjects (i.e. not necessarily just looking for free health care), thereby improving their results (healthy subjects will normally tolerate side effects better, and with fewer complications). I don't know if a weak Canadian dollar was a secondary benefit (to reduce cost), but that's not true currently.

The clinic trials are done (through a contractor, hired by the manufacturer) as evidence submitted to the regulator agencies requesting approval to market the drugs. This is what allows so many "dirty tricks" to be played by manufacturers against the regulators; who's rank and file, in general, try their best to act in the public good.

Most often drugs from major manufacturers are available in the US for 1-2 years before being finally approved in Canada. Europe is often slightly slower than Canada, I believe; I don't watch availability there in general, but that statement is based on comments of medical researchers, and my own doctors.

more than 3 years ago



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