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Effective: 2016-June to 2016-December

Updated: 2016-09-16

Updated by: mrcoolbp

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On what medium do you read most?

  • Paper
  • eBook reader
  • Phone or tablet
  • Traditional computer's screen
  • Tea leaves
  • My medium reads me
  • Other (please specify)

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:42 | Votes:238

posted by martyb on Sunday September 25, @11:47AM   Printer-friendly
from the room-for-further-improvement dept.

It seems that every time researchers estimate how often a medical mistake contributes to a hospital patient's death, the numbers come out worse.

[...] In 2010, the Office of Inspector General for Health and Human Services said that bad hospital care contributed to the deaths of 180,000 patients in Medicare alone in a given year.

Now comes a study in the current issue of the Journal of Patient Safety that says the numbers may be much higher — between 210,000 and 440,000 patients each year who go to the hospital for care suffer some type of preventable harm that contributes to their death, the study says.

That would make medical errors the third-leading cause of death in America, behind heart disease, which is the first, and cancer, which is second.

The new estimates were developed by John T. James, a toxicologist at NASA's space center in Houston who runs an advocacy organization called Patient Safety America. James has also written a book about the death of his 19-year-old son after what James maintains was negligent hospital care.

Asked about the higher estimates, a spokesman for the American Hospital Association said the group has more confidence in the IOM's estimate of 98,000 deaths. ProPublica asked three prominent patient safety researchers to review James' study, however, and all said his methods and findings were credible.

[...] Dr. David Mayer, the vice president of quality and safety at Maryland-based MedStar Health, said people can make arguments about how many patient deaths are hastened by poor hospital care, but that's not really the point. All the estimates, even on the low end, expose a crisis, he said.

"Way too many people are being harmed by unintentional medical error," Mayer said, "and it needs to be corrected."

The story describes additional studies that were performed and then solicited feedback from other doctors who supported the view that the 98,000 figure underreports the problem and that the situation warrants further investigation, reporting, and action.

Have any Soylentils personally experienced or observed medical mistakes that had an adverse outcome? Alternatively, has anyone experienced a medical triumph in the face of very poor odds for a positive outcome? What about medical treatments in countries besides the US?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday September 25, @09:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the single-point-of-failure dept.

The World Socialist Web Site reports

The entire US territory of Puerto Rico suffered a blackout beginning [September 21] after a fire caused a substation to break down. The plant had not been repaired in decades and the cause of the fire is unclear, although a lightning storm is thought to be responsible.

Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla told reporters Friday morning [September 23] that 75 percent of the island's 1.5 million homes and businesses had electricity restored, and that the entire system would be returned to normal only by Saturday, 72 hours after the power went out. During the press conference at the island's emergency management center, the lights went out briefly prompting laughter from the assembled reporters. Padilla was forced to admit that periodic blackouts and shortages would still occur as the demand for electricity increases.

The blackout shut down the entire island of 3.5 million people.

[...] Authorities warned that tropical storms could still knock out power lines and black out areas that had power restored. An estimated 250,000 people don't have access to water.

Temperatures were recorded at 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday, causing many Puerto Ricans to sleep outdoors for the third night in a row. Residents formed long lines outside of grocery stores to get ice, a precious commodity, and recharge their cell phones.

Hotels in the capital San Juan offered special rates to island residents but were soon booked up. At least one person died from carbon monoxide poisoning after fixing up a personal power generator in their home. An elderly man was also taken to the hospital after spending the night in a stuck elevator, and at least four police officer were hit by cars while trying to direct traffic; they are all expected to recover.

While local power outages are common in Puerto Rico, an island-wide blackout is extremely rare.

[...] The Electric Power Authority, which oversees the Aguirre power plant in the southern town of Salinas, is still investigating what caused the fire. Two transmission lines were knocked down, causing circuit breakers to automatically shut down as a safety measure, affecting the broader power grid.

Additional Coverage:
USA Today

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Sunday September 25, @07:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the what-goes-up... dept.

China confirmed in a press conference, that Tiangong-1, their first space station put into orbit in 2011, will re-enter and burn up in the atmosphere sometime in late 2017. There seems to be some uncertainty in when it will re-enter the atmosphere, which leads one to believe that the station is not under orbital control and that it will come back to Earth in the same manner that Skylab did in 1979.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Sunday September 25, @06:27AM   Printer-friendly
from the HA-HA! dept.

I always find the various authentication experiences to be more annoying than reassuring, but until now I've always managed to defeat whatever bizarre scheme a web site has created.

Yes, I'm fan of "Reset Password."

Microsoft though has stopped me dead by refusing me access to an [account] even though I have the email address and password.

About three years ago someone established an email for an organization. They passed the login info on to me. I subsequently just accessed it via Gmail for the next two years.

Today I tried to log in to make some changes. They apparently feel that I am not who I say I am and demand some kind of "authentication."

After a half an hour of repeatedly submitting "Verification Forms" (Names, Birthdate, City, Postal Code, Captchas, Previous passwords....," entering numerous PINs, and generally jumping through hoops, I have concluded that I will never ever access this account again.

Best of all the email quoted below offers no way that I can appeal this to some kind of living being.

Is this the worst authentication disaster ever? Is there any logical reason why you would make it impossible for your customers to ever recover an account?


posted by martyb on Sunday September 25, @04:37AM   Printer-friendly
from the take-this-job-and... dept.

Most everybody has been there: you've decided to quit your job and now you have to inform your employer that you're leaving. So what is the best way to resign?

Turns out, there are generally seven ways in which people quit their jobs, and there are two key factors that determine whether a person resigns in a positive way or in a way that could have damaging consequences for the business, new research from Oregon State University shows.

[...] Through a series of studies, including interviews with employees and employers, the researchers found that generally, employees quit in one of seven ways:

  • By the book: These resignations involve a face-to-face meeting with one's manager to announce the resignation, a standard notice period, and an explanation of the reason for quitting.
  • Perfunctory: These resignations are similar to "by the book" resignations, except the meeting tends to be shorter and the reason for quitting is not provided.
  • Grateful goodbye: Employees express gratitude toward their employer and often offer to help with the transition period.
  • In the loop: In these resignations, employees typically confide in their manager that they are contemplating quitting, or are looking for another job, before formally resigning.
  • Avoidant: This occurs when employees let other employees such as peers, mentors, or human resources representatives know that they plan to leave rather than giving notice to their immediate boss.
  • Bridge burning: In this resignation style, employees seek to harm the organization or its members on their way out the door, often through verbal assaults.
  • Impulsive quitting: Some employees simply walk off the job, never to return or communicate with their employer again. This can leave the organization in quite a lurch, given it is the only style in which no notice is provided.

The by the book and perfunctory resignations are the most common, but roughly one in 10 employees quits in bridge-burning style. Avoidant, bridge burning and impulsive quitting are seen as potentially harmful resignation styles for employers.

In addition, the researchers found that managers were particularly frustrated by employees who resigned using bridge burning, avoidant or perfunctory styles, so employees who want to leave on good terms should avoid those styles, Klotz said.

Have any Soylentils seen employees quit in notable or epic ways?

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday September 25, @03:05AM   Printer-friendly
from the car-company-namesake dept.

For fans of Nikola Tesla and historians, a link has turned up to the files the FBI compiled on the brilliant scientist and inventor. The files are in three parts of about 250 pages each. Submit a story to Soylent if you turn up any interesting nuggets!

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Sunday September 25, @01:25AM   Printer-friendly

I ran across this book a month or so ago when I was reading about Illinois' upcoming bicentennial. It's a speculative fiction look at the year 2018 from a 1918 standpoint. Its author, Vachel Lindsay, was a very popular poet at the turn of his century, and this is his only novel. He started writing it in 1904, hoping to publish by Illinois' centennial, but it was finally published in 1920.

The Golden Book of Springfield is speculative fiction, but rather than science fiction, this is future fantasy fiction. The Golden Book flies into a room, but it isn't a drone as someone in our time would presume, but magic. His war is fought on horseback with swords. He has a character shouting from a platform, Lindsay being unaware that in a hundred years a thing called a "bullhorn" would be commonplace.

He does introduce a very few innovations, such as a "lens gun," "a new kind of" movie projector, and the "corn-dragon engine," which isn't an internal combustion engine running on ethanol or methanol, but a new kind of steam locomotive. A "corn-dragon" was a steam train driving past a cornfield, the "dragon" being what was called then "smokestack lightning".

It's surrealism, and going by what Wikipedia has to say, some of the first, although a college history class told me it started in Germany. It's about his and friends of his (whether the friends are real or fictional) dreams of his city a hundred years in his future, two years in my future as I write this.

It's also a ghost story, written by a ghost. It's about the 1918 Vachel Lindsay haunting our present. It reads "And my bones crumble through the century, like last year's autumn leaves. Then there is, alternating with drouth, bitter frost. And roots wrap my heart and brain. And there is sleep.

"Then a galloping and gay shrieking, away on the road, to the East of Oak Ridge! And though I am six feet beneath the ground the eyes of the soul are given me. I see wonderful young horsewomen..."

Lindsay committed suicide in 1931. If that's not a ghost story, what is?

JNCF asked "I find myself wondering how reasonable you think your depiction of 23rd century Mars is." The answer is a definite, loud, "HELL NO." Reading this book (or any old SF) will tell you why.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday September 24, @11:47PM   Printer-friendly
from the beam-me-up dept.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP now has the technological means of applying electron beams very flexibl[y] to 3-D objects through use of its new electron wand of the Swiss company ebeam by COMET.

Electron beams are useful in many different applications. They reliably sterilize seed, can weld small structures precisely and reliable, and cure decorative paint. Usually this involves either planar, flexible, or slightly curved surfaces. However, applying electron beams homogeneously to 3-D objects of any size or shape has not been so simple up to now.

Scientists at Fraunhofer FEP have now elegantly combined an electron wand with a six-axis robotic manipulator in order to be able to treat substrates with complex shapes as well as spherical objects, for example.

"The electron wand remains stationary in this process", explains Javier Portillo, a scientist at Fraunhofer FEP. "The manipulator rotates the objects within the irradiation zone in a way, that the surface will be treated homogeneously. This creates the maximum degree of freedom when applying an electron beam to a 3-D-object."

Normally you need several electron-beam sources to treat 3-D objects. Homogeneous application does not take place reliably everywhere in this process. The process of multiaxial moving the object within the electron treatment zone can hereby generate advantages. The application of electron beams to optical components is also conceivable.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday September 24, @10:09PM   Printer-friendly
from the how-it's-done dept.

Following up on NCommander's recent "original content" series, I decided to write up a bit about a recent thesis I supervised. Full disclaimer: I supervised this thesis and I'd like to see the thesis results being used more widely.

In 2013, the nation-wide exams for primary schools somehow leaked onto the streets and were being traded over the internet. One newspaper reporting on it showed a blurred page of the exam questions 5 days before the exam was to take place. This made me wonder: would it be possible to recover the exam questions from that blurred photo?

Fast-forward one bachelor thesis investigating this (resulting in a 3/4ths complete plugin) and a few years. A team of BSc students is interested in picking up the deblurring project. Previous experience showed that asking one student to pick this up for a BSc thesis is a lot, but at my current institute BSc theses are done in teams. Challenging, but why not?

The original assignment was to implement Cho's algorithm for deblurring [Cho et al 2013] as a GIMP plugin. The previous bachelor thesis had found this algorithm as the best deblurring algorithm for recovering text. However, time marches on. During the literature review phase, the team came across some advances in deblurring. Moreover, the algorithm's description in the paper was incomplete, and patented. (Interestingly enough, the patent did not clarify the incompleteness.) There was a new algorithm by Pan et al [Pan et al 2014] that was simpler, faster, and: open source. However, the original was coded in Matlab, which is (1) proprietary, (2) not freely available, and (3) not in much use by people who want to edit pictures.

So, the team investigated both algorithms in great (and hairy) detail, and implemented Pan et al's algo as an open source GIMP plugin. This required a working understanding of the maths involved (which is not explicitly taught in the Bachelor programme). Moreover, the end result is a sleek piece of work, showcasing the team's CS creds as well.

Below, a tiny bit about how blurring works, and how to deblur. I'll skip most of the maths, promised.

[Continues ...]

posted by janrinok on Saturday September 24, @08:39PM   Printer-friendly
from the can't-be-good-at-everything dept.

Every study ranking nations by health or living standards invariably offers Scandinavian social democracies a chance to show their quiet dominance. A new analysis published this week—perhaps the most comprehensive ever—is no different. But what it does reveal are the broad shortcomings of sustainable development efforts, the new shorthand for not killing ourselves or the planet, as well as the specific afflictions of a certain North American country.

Iceland and Sweden share the top slot with Singapore as world leaders when it comes to health goals set by the United Nations, according to a report published in the Lancet . Using the UN's sustainable development goals as guideposts, which measure the obvious (poverty, clean water, education) and less obvious (societal inequality, industry innovation), more than 1,870 researchers in 124 countries compiled data on 33 different indicators of progress toward the UN goals related to health.

The massive study emerged from a decade-long collaboration focused on the worldwide distribution of disease. About a year and a half ago, the researchers involved decided their data might help measure progress on what may be the single most ambitious undertaking humans have ever committed themselves to: survival. In doing so, they came up with some disturbing findings, including that the country with the biggest economy (not to mention, if we're talking about health, multibillion-dollar health-food and fitness industries) ranks No. 28 overall, between Japan and Estonia.


The voluminous work that went into the paper may make measuring the UN goals on health seem even more daunting: The researchers were able so far to evaluate just 70 percent of the health-related indicators called for by the UN.

It may not be pretty, but "we have no chance of success if we can't agree on what's critical," said Linda Fried, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday September 24, @07:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the if-only-I-could-do-it-over dept.

Vint Cerf is considered a father of the internet, but that doesn't mean there aren't things he would do differently if given a fresh chance to create it all over again.

"If I could have justified it, putting in a 128-bit address space would have been nice so we wouldn't have to go through this painful, 20-year process of going from IPv4 to IPv6," Cerf told an audience of journalists Thursday during a press conference at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany.

IPv4, the first publicly used version of the Internet Protocol, included an addressing system that used 32-bit numerical identifiers. It soon became apparent that it would lead to an exhaustion of addresses, however, spurring the creation of IPv6 as a replacement. Roughly a year ago, North America officially ran out of new addresses based on IPv4.

For security, public key cryptography is another thing Cerf would like to have added, had it been feasible.

Trouble is, neither idea is likely to have made it into the final result at the time. "I doubt I could have gotten away with either one," said Cerf, who won a Turing Award in 2004 and is now vice president and chief internet evangelist at Google. "So today we have to retrofit."

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Saturday September 24, @05:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the all-this-and-democracy-too dept.

On Saturday, Snap released some limited information about how the glasses will work. Footage will be recorded in a new, circular format which can be viewed in any orientation, the company said. The battery on the device will last around a day. A light on the front of the device will indicate to people nearby when the glasses are recording.

Prior to confirmation from Snap about the product, news website Business Insider published a promotional video it found on YouTube showing the product. The video has since been taken down. Spectacles will remind many of Google Glass, an ill-fated attempt by the search giant to create smart glasses.

Additional reporting:

Also from the same submitter: US Snapchat users who are eligible to vote may now register using the app.

"Our country's democracy thrives on participation. But you can't participate unless you register to vote," a Snapchat spokesman told Mashable. "We hope this effort amplifies our community's voice come November."

Original Submission #1Original Submission #2

posted by janrinok on Saturday September 24, @03:46PM   Printer-friendly
from the you-can't-do-that dept.

Amazon has been fined £65,000 after being found guilty of attempting to ship dangerous goods by air.

The online giant tried to transport lithium-ion batteries and flammable aerosols between 2014 and 2015. It was found guilty at Southwark Crown Court [London, UK] of causing dangerous goods to be delivered for carriage in an aircraft in breach of air navigation rules.

An Amazon spokesman said: "The safety of the public, our customers, employees and partners is an absolute priority."

The prosecution had been brought by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) under the Air Navigation (Dangerous Goods) Regulations 2002. The items were destined for flights in and outside the UK in four shipments between January 2014 and June 2015. They were only discovered when the cargoes were screened by Royal Mail before departure, and seized before they could reach the aircraft.

The court heard that Amazon had tried to ship a lithium-ion battery to Jersey on a day before 7 January 2014, and a flammable gas aerosol to Romania on a similar date.

Another shipment, destined for Ireland on a day before 17 July 2014, contained another aerosol, while Amazon illegally tried to send two more lithium-ion batteries to Northern Ireland between 12 May and 3 June 2015.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Saturday September 24, @02:08PM   Printer-friendly
from the prison-isn't-easy dept.

Chelsea Manning will spend at least seven days in solitary confinement for attempting suicide in July:

A military prison disciplinary board has sentenced US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to fourteen days in solitary confinement, her lawyer has said. She will spend seven days in solitary confinement for charges relating to her attempt to kill herself in July. She ended a hunger strike last week, after the military agreed to provide her with gender dysmorphia treatment. The army private, born as Bradley Manning, is serving a 35-year sentence for espionage.

Last July, the former intelligence officer attempted to take her own life, after what lawyers said was the Army's refusal to provide appropriate health care. She was found guilty on Thursday by prison officials in Leavenworth, Kansas, of "Conduct Which Threatens" for her suicide attempt. She also was convicted of having "prohibited property" - the book "Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy," by Gabriella Coleman.

Earlier this month, it was announced that the US Army will grant Chelsea Manning's request for gender transition surgery.

The President of the United States and others believe that constraints must be placed on the practice of solitary confinement. Studies have found that solitary confinement leads to increased risks of self-harm.

Original Submission

posted by cmn32480 on Saturday September 24, @12:22PM   Printer-friendly
from the dy-no-mite! dept.

Rats in tiny trousers, pseudoscientific bullshit, the personalities of rocks, and Volkswagen's, shall we say, "creative" approach to emissions testing were among the research topics honored by the 2016 Ig Nobel Prizes. The winners were announced last night at a live webcast ceremony held at Harvard University.

For those unfamiliar with the Ig Nobel Prizes, it's an annual celebration of silly science. Or a silly celebration of seemingly dubious science, courtesy of the satirical journal Annals of Improbable Research. The main objective is to honor research that first makes you laugh, and then makes you think. It's all in good fun, and the honorees frequently travel to the ceremony on their own dime to accept their awards.

Some of the honorees were:

Literature Prize: Fredrik Sjöberg, for his three-volume autobiographical work about the pleasures of collecting flies that are dead, and flies that are not yet dead.

Perception Prize: Atsuki Higashiyama and Kohei Adachi, for investigating whether things look different when you bend over and view them between your legs.

VW won the Chemistry category for "electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested".

Who would you have chosen to win an Ig Nobel Prize this year?

The 2016 Ig Nobel prizes were awarded yesterday, Thursday, September 22. Notable amongst the winners was VolksWagen, who won the Chemistry prize for "solving the problem of excessive automobile pollution emissions by automatically, electromechanically producing fewer emissions whenever the cars are being tested." No one from VW attended the ceremony to collect the prize. Other notable winners included a team who won the Peace Prize for their groundbreaking work analyzing the detection of "Pseudo-Profound Bullshit."

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Original Submission 2

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