2223 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Re: Flash gets worse
On the other hand, SLC with small cells is probably better on all fronts than MLC even with cells with twice the area. At present MLC and TLC exist because they can't yet make tiny cells right down at the noise threshold for single-bit reliability.
They have just under a year
... to realize that a lot of businesses are still running XP and are quite happy with it. When they kill XP, they imagine all those businesses will upgrade to Windows 8. HA bloody HA!
Ok, there's Windows 7, which is perhaps less painful. Even so, lack of drivers will obsolete a lot of hardware, and lack of RAM will obsolete a lot of PCs. And there's no real upgrade path. MS say you should upgrade to Vista and then from Vista to Windows 7. Sorry I feel another attack of graveside laughter coming on. Even if it worked, how many extra man-hours will that consume?
Given the requirement to tear it all up and start again, how many will stick with Microsoft, and how many will go to Apple? Some may even find time for Linux. Those that do stick with Microsoft are unlikely to bear any goodwill for Microsoft in the future. Sooner or later someone will ship a Linux derivative for business use (just as Google shipped a Linux derivative for handset and tablet use: Android).
So what they have to do now is simple. Announce that XP will continue to be supported until an idiot-proof upgrade to Windows 7 is developed. And annnounce that you'll never have to learn a new interface because the Windows 7 one will be maintained in perpetuity (ie Windows 8, Windows 9 will have a "Windows 7 style" option). Ditto Office.
Oh, and to make money stop selling perpetual Windows licenses. That way you won't have to keep shredding old Windows in order to force customers to use New Windows. You'll just charge them renewal fees for continued support of what they want. Of course, it would help if your customers trusted you more than they trust a low-end used-car salesman. Sacking the CEO might be a good start, followed by a new CEO eating humble pie.
Need for speed
In partial and general defense of Anti-malware and Anti-virus software, it absolutely has to be released rapidly. This is at odds with the need to do comprehensive testing before release.
No excuse if it breaks ALL Windows installs, but I can imagine cases where it passes all the vendor's tests and then screws up a small fraction of configurations that weren't covered by the quick-release tests.
Re: A finite calculable resource [like] gold/precious metals -- NOT
One unarguable difference - gold will survive something which returns civilisation to a pre-1950s level. Of course, its owner might not. Quite probably wouldn't.
Icon may represent a Carrington event, as well as the obvious
You misunderstand. It's got as much kinetic energy as you can pour into it via the maglev. A U-shaped track is a plausible maximum-length realization in a mountainous region.
There's no particular reason you shouldn't start at the bottom of a mountain and accelerate it to the top, but that would be a shorter run so you'd subject the crew to a higher G force for any particular "launch" velocity. A long horizontal run to get up speed before deviating uphill is also possible, if you can find a mountain that rises from a plain without any foothills. Whichever, you certainly want as much atmosphere as possible below you before "launch", in other words end the track at the top of a high mountain, and for other hopefully obvious reasons a mountain close to the equator.
"When worlds collide"
Cine SF afficioadoes will have seen this film, in which mankind escapes from a doomed Earth in a spacecraft which is launched along a track from a mountain peak, down into a valley, and then up the other side.
I've never found out why this idea is unfeasible. The problem with rockets is that you spend most of your fuel getting the rest of your fuel up to mere subsonic velocity. So why not use a maglev track (or even a giant train track) to electrically accelerate your rocket up to maybe 600mph, and only then fire the rocket? The aerodynamics of a supersonic maglev launcher would be far harder, but physically there's no reason why your assist has to stop at subsonic speed. (Might be safer to accelerate only after the liquid-fuel rocket was burning. Throttle up from minimum to maximum after it leaves the track).
Launching from underneath a carrier aircraft is somewhat equivalent, but is limited to the payload that can be lifted by an aircraft. (There's a limit, to do with the bending strength of wings). A track launcher could handle much heavier payloads.
One idea missed
That's the satellite with giant rotating arms which scoops a balloon out of the atmosphere and deposits it into space. Thanks to Charles Stross "Saturn's Children" for introducing me to this idea. It's probably even more hairy than a space elevator as an engineering project, but doesn't require quite such strong materials.
So it boils down to "Got Memory?"
Cue another mention of memristors?
Just when software is getting a bit stale, the world of hardware is starting to get very interesting all over again.
Should I be buying HP and Intel stock?
Re: Well that couldn't have gone wrong anyway...
In an alternative universe WW3 has just ended and WW4 is about to start. You know, the one that will be fought with stones and other bits of rubble.
Seriously, if you've ever wondered why the fastest CD rate is 56x, this is why. Early in the development of computer CD drives, they marketed a 64x drive and maybe even a 72x drive. I was once sprayed with plastic shrapnel by one of the 64x drives. The manufacturers soon worked out that 56x was the safety limit of what a CD can take.
Anyone know if anyone ever suffered actual injury and/or sued?
Re: Lets see...The pregency stick came firts...
Home HIV test is already available! I vaguely remembered reading about it - Google found this http://www.hivhometests.co.uk/ and many other similar (including Wal-Mart in the USA!)
A cheap laser scanning microscope is a great idea. Couldn't it be marketed to schools? Or be used for quick analysis of lubricating oil samples? (the number and types of metal particles therein can give advance warning of bearing or gear failures).
I'm not so sure about the HIV testing. I thought that needed an antibody test? Counting the cells in a blood sample might tell you if someone is developing AIDS ... but that happens years after infection with the HIV virus, and the infection can be passed on during that time.
Dell have tried a few times to sell PCs with Linux and the unwashed masses simply didn't care. I don't believe for a moment that it is the cost that is a problem, Apple are proof of that fact.
Dell didn't do it right. (IMO and in passing, Dell lost the plot even w.r.t. everyday Windows PCs. Their customer service went from one of the best to a candidate for the worst on the planet. I have no Idea if it has since recovered. Having jumped ship to a different supplier, there's never been any reason to look back! )
Anyway, if you are talking about selling Linux to the masses, Google did it right(ish). It's called Android. The masses don't care that it's forked from the one true Linux kernel tree. Nevertheless, it's a sort of Linux under the hood.
So far it's Apple iPhone / iPad that's the biggest loser, but I suspect Android may yet become a force to be reckoned with in the PC sector as well (ie where a big screen, keyboard and mouse are needed).
Re: Dual Boot
Actually unless you are thinking hard about run-time on battery, you don't need to dual-boot. You can run Linux in a VM under Windows and it works just fine. In an ideal world I'd prefer to run Windows in a VM under Linux, but have to admint that getting Linux up and running and supporting the power-management and other integrated features of a notebook can be a a pain (or plain impossible if you didn't research what hardware to buy carefully enough).
Which again makes my point about a mature market. A plain ordinary laptop can happily run a virtual machine! (Or indeed, several VMs at once, if you buy one with an SSD and enough RAM).
I doubt that the PC is dead. For a lot of purposes, especially business or serious work, you need a keyboard and a mouse and a decent screen at arm's length.
I think what's changed is that no-one sees a compelling reason to buy a new PC every three or four years. The old one works just fine. Folks really don't want Windows 8. Lots of folks don't even want Windows 7. They'd be happier sticking to XP, except Microsoft are hitting the kill switch. Apple must be rubbing their hands in glee, since a Mac is the obvious alternative to Windows 8 for a home user who is forced off XP. Intel don't care - it's the same chip in a PC or an iMac.
Market maturation happens with every new technolgy sooner or later. The market saturates, the rate of progress slows, "New" goes from "must have" through "boring" to "bloody annoying gimmickry", and sales drop to the level necessary to replace hardware that has physically failed. I'd guess that's a new PC every six to twelve years, rather than a new PC every three to five years.
Tablets are selling like hot-cakes because the market for them is neither mature not saturated. Their time will come (and faster than it did for the PC). Most folks not living in poverty will soon have BOTH a tablet AND a PC, because each has its place.
perfect for CAMRA? If the Eurosceptics don't get it first.
Loyalty and experience
It's to do with two things - loyalty and experience.
If you pay well for local staff, they'll stay in the job long enough to acquire a large knowledge base specific to your operations, stored where it's most needed -- in their heads. A lot of this stuff can't ever be written down, because the people who know it don't necessarily know what they know until a problem arises that has to be solved asap.
Then someone arrives and cuts costs by sacking the experienced staff and relying on a bunch of outsourced (or even locally contracted) mercenaries who'll leave as soon as someone offers them more money. For that reason, staff turnover is high and the in-head knowledge base is destroyed. (Loyalty, of course, is long gone). The old system ticks over on auto-pilot for a large amount of time, and management pronounce it a success (and make further cuts?). Then the roof falls in.
If it's tangential to the primary purpose of the organisation, outsource it. If it's mission-critical, don't. Is there really anything else needs to be said?
Re: spinning rust and other stuff
Secondly: 2Tb and larger drives have a terrible failure rate. I'd gotten used to seeing drives lasting 6-8 years and now they're down at the 3-4 range again. Manufacturers dropped their warranty to 12 months for sound financial reasons.
So what do you say about my twelve 2Tb disks that haven't experienced a single failure since they were installed three years ago? Not even server-grade ones. Could be luck, but if the MTBF really is three years then half of them should have failed by now, and the odds of NONE having failed are 1 in 2^12.
I think you're generalizing from bad luck. I keep telling people that the big risk is common-mode failure caused by bad batches of disks. If you buy all your disks at once, then if one is of low reliability, the other N are likely the same. If you are running mirrored pairs, then you should buy half your disks from one manufacturer and the other half from a different manufacturer, and pair them heterogeneously. That minimizes the chance of losing the whole array to one bad batch of disks.
I suspect manufacturers cut the warranty because disks were getting so cheap, the warranty replacement process was becoming too expensive compared to the disks themselves, even if the percentage failing in warranty has not changed.
@Ledswinger good point
Very good point. For read-mostly data SSDs should be much more reliable than HDDs, as well as faster.
Wear-levelling works against you?
Couldn't wear-levelling actually work against you in a RAID environment, by causing all drives to fail at nearly the same time?
Not exactly. Without wear-levelling a small subset of blocks would get hammered and the "disk" would fail a lot faster. RAID or no RAID.
However, there's a difference in failure mode between an SSD array where all devices will predictably degrade to unacceptable at about the same time, and an HD array where the future failure of each device is pretty much unpredictable unless you are suffering from common-mode failure (ie a batch of bad disks). In any case HDD failure is linked firstly to hours in service, and then to seek activity. Volume of data written to a HDD does very little that could cause earlier failure.
RAID nearly doubles or trebles the number of write actions. With JBOD, M writes spread over N disks. With RAID-5, 2M writes spread over (N+1) disks. With RAID-6, 3M/(N+2). This will reduce the SSD life expectancy in that environment by ~2x or ~3x.
With SSDs you might want to define a new sort of array that puts differing amounts of parity on different drives, so each SSD in the array experiences a different level of write activity and wears out at a different rate. Of course, there would be a penalty w.r.t. the performance of such an array.
Any company which can contemplate spending $5bn on an office is circling the drain
And the drain is of course right there on the plans. Has to be, or rain would fall in and not get out util water pressure broke the inside windows. One BIG drain at the EXACT centre?
Re: Linux support techs
Well, they could show you a dozen ways to do imaging and deployment without paying any per-seat license charges, and with script-ability second to none. All starting with booting an appropriate stand-alone Linux environment off removeable media or off the network.
The question is whether they're sane, mad, or totally rabid.
Mad means they are trying to put a nuke onto a missile and (I hope) failing, while their country rots and starves.
Rabid means that they've hidden the nuke in a container that's been reloaded and relabelled a couple of times in third-world ports with lousy security, and which is shortly going to be delivered to the USA.
Relax - only because it's one of those things like cancer or a pIanet-busting asteroid that I can't do anything much about.
Ir was written by and for the marketing division. What did you expect?
Like it. (Don't be drinking cola as you view it! )
Re: How to make the world a better (choke, splutter) place
There is a way to make a legal system that covers all possible cases. It's actually pretty much the one that they have in North Korea! "You do what you are told to do by the Great Leader. Anything he approves of is OK. Anything he does not approve of will be punished". I was going to add "If in doubt, ask" but of course that's very dangerous advice because the Great Leader might not be amused, and that's probably illegal.
Anyway, it covers all possible cases. "The Great Leader is right. You are wrong. You will be punished. End of."
It doesn't even need interpretation of a holy book, as in theocracies, or lawyers, as in other places. If there were a way to make sure that the great leader was omniscient and omnibenevolent, it might even work.
It's even scarier than you think. A few years back I read an account of their germ warfare development program, which was worse even than what Mengele did for the Nazis. They were systematically and scientifically testing various weaponised diseases on "dissidents" and their children.
Do we think that they aren't now muking about with GM? If they started a war that they couldn't win, would they then hesitate to unleash whatever germs they have developed onto the world?
Re: definition of a fork...
Or a fork in the road. Or a fork in a tree. (A biological tree, or a binary one). "Implement used for transferring food from one's plate to one's mouth" is just one of many definitions. By the way, the original table forks had two tines, like a very small pitchfork.
The law, correctly applied, is the law, and we should follow it. That it has flaws is no excuse for criminal activity
Wrong. I cite the Nurenburg trials. "Simply following orders" (which were lawful at the time) is no defence for someone accused of crimes against humanity or genocide.
More generally, we all have the right to flout the law. It's often called civil disobedience. It is a form of protest about an unjust law or a more general inequity in society. What honorable protestors have to accept is that they do face punishment under the law that they flouted. Either the punishment is sufficiently minor that they don't care, or they calculate (rightly or wrongly) that public outrage will prevent such punishment taking place and instead result in a change to the unjust law.
There are catches though, you can't selectively apply the 5th to your testimony. If you say anything at all you lose the right to "plead the 5th"
I'm interested in how this works in practice. What if you start giving evidence, and then you are asked something unexpected that you cannot answer truthfully without self-incriminating? Especially if you are not the accused, but rather a witness who is guilty of some unrelated crime?
Memristor vs. Flash
If you could choose to store valuable data on a device that used a complicated VLSI chip to encode and store your data on a large-block-addressible medium that you know was likely to start failing after a few thousand write cycles, or one that used simple addressing logic to store it as individual bits or bytes on a medium that lasts for billions of write cycles, which would you choose?
HP will win hands-down, if they can get memristor storage down to much the same price per Gbyte.
If the theory translates into practice, memristors will be the biggest revolution in computer technology since CMOS arrived.
Re: Why are ATM fascias so complicated and intricate?
The answer? An ATM designed by Apple!
Re: Leccy? No!!
There are two opposed misconceptions out there:
That electric cars are the solution, end of.
That electric cars are a waste of time, end of.
They are likely to become an important part of a solution to a very big problem: how to keep our civilisation running when we've used most of the oil. Electric cars don't need oil, they don't even require fossil fuels to be burned. Also in future they can be part of an electricity-storage infrastructure (if they are connected whenever they are not being driven, which would require omnipresent car-charging facilities like we currently have omnipresent mains electricity).
Their current (early phase) development is being driven by rich guys having fun, which is exactly the same model as the original automobile. That's a better approach to just about everything new than soviet- or EC-style central planning!
The idea of actually scaling the penalty to the harm done (or threatened) seems right out the window
Do you realize that's about the only sane argument with which one could attempt to defend the indefensible? That particularly serious instances of computer crime may have a cost measured in billions of dollars, or even in lives lost?
Eating the laptop market ... really?
Why, when you can buy a laptop at half the price? (Soon, you'll work out that a mouse is superior to a touchpad, and a touchpad is superior to getting finger-grease all over your screen).
These things give you less hardware, and ought to be cheaper. Which is a give-away as to why everyone selling them loves them. Think of the profit margin!
Re: That could be a lie!
Have you ever tried hacksawing through mere piano wire? Or a padlock hasp?
Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives
what *would* you need to cut through a major submarine cable?
I've seen a cross-section of such a cable. They are built somewhat like an onion. Protective plastic sheath, layer of poisonous gunk to kill marine worms that eat throuth the sheath, layer of piano wires for strength. Repeat several times. Finally a very skinny core containing the optical fibres. Can't recall anything copper. Stainless steel would be a better bet for resisting seawater.
You could probably hack through such a cable with big manually operated wrecking shears (big lever, gears, ratchet type of thing - distant relative of a bolt cutter). A saw or knife would be foiled by the first layer of piano wires. Above water an angle grinder would probably also work.
BTW those marine worms are persistent little bastards. After the first attackers have died, the water will wash away the poison and corrode through the wire. And then they'll be back for another go. Iterate to eventual destruction, if a turbidity flow doesn't kill the cable first.
Re: The mystery of the mysterious operatives
The other possibility is that they were innocently scuba diving and happened to be in the wrong place.
Possibly. OTOH if they were apprehended diving with cable shears or similar, probably not. Hopefully someone in the Egyptian security forces will check this before interrogating them. Also that they'll bear in mind that one wouldn't get far attacking an armoured submarine cable with a standard diver's emergency knife, so if that's the only blade in the picture they may well be innocent.
(*)Stop laughing at the back. It consumes less than 10w of power an hour.
You mean it runs on just ten Watts. A Watt is a unit for the rate of use of energy. What you pay for are units of energy. You could have said 0.01 kw/h per hour ... perverse but correct.
BTW I run an Atom server as well, though I'm wondering if it should morph into a Rasberry Pi soon.
"A small rod"
"oddly shaped objects"
You don't need anything radioactive! A noise diode is quite good enough.
Don't virtually all PCs have a hardware RNG these days? Although it's rarely used as such. It's the integrated audio system.
Rack up the gain on the microphone input and you'll hear noise generated by the switching of other electronic systems in the box. (Even better if a mic is connected and you pick up external noises). It shouldn't be hard to generate a fairly random number from a second's worth of samples thereof. It may not be good enough for crypto on its own, but XORing it with a "good" random number cannot make it any less good.
Re: "Garrett was able to demonstrate an application on Windows could wreck a machine."
Not designed to run Linux you say? If this is the metric people measure that criteria by, then it's clearly not designed to run Windows either.
And right now, somewhere in North Korea ....
The really important question
What do Samsung do when someone returns a bricked laptop (a) in and (b) out of warranty?
You can tell the manufaturers you want to do business with from the ones you don't, by how they handle a problem such as this one. You don't want to be told to <go away>, and to have to sue your supplier for supplying goods that were not fit for purpose. Which defition this bug amply fulfills: the machine claimed to offer UEFUI boot, but broke the specification in a way that causes catastrophic failure.
I'm asking, not suggesting anything. I really don't know.
That diagram must be faulty. FORTRAN isn't there at all.
Yes, it's a minority language these days. However, for those who do serious scientific number-crunching, it's definitely very far from being a Norwegian Blue. FORTRAN-95 and successors allow a compiler to generate efficient parallel code (which C / C++ can't, because of pointers).
Python has a big foot in that camp as well. It's great for writing top-level code, with SciPy and NumPy and lesser-known friends at lower levels to do the heavy lifting.
Re: hate python with a passion
I hated it (though with less passion) when I started learning Python. It took me about an hour to get used to it. It took me about a day to start wondering who was the idiot who thought curly brackets were a cool idea.
Re: Yes the Rothschild Bank and the US Federal Reserve....
A nuke would work, if it was placed correctly before detonation. To the side and well off-centre. You'd blast a small chunk of asteroid off at high velocity in one direction and impart an equivalent and opposite amount of momentum in the opposite direction. It would work if the delta-V was sufficient to cause the asteroid to miss earth (so the more warning we had, the better). Lots of variables, of course, and causing fragmentation of the asteroid would make things worse (if they could be any worse, that is).
Radioactivity - pah. Compared to the environmental effects of an extinction-level impact event, the radioactivity released by a single nuke would be totally insignificant. We tested hundreds of them in the atmosphere, didn't we?
Great for one-offs
I think this hits the nail on the head.
It may revolutionize prototyping. Design a complicated 3-D object on your computer, and print one. Handle it. Stress it. See what feels good or bad, what breaks or bends too easily. Revise your design. Print another prototype. No problem with going around this loop several times.
For manufacturing, you'll still bite off the large expense of having a mould manufactured, so you can knock out the item in thousands or millions for cents per unit.
It'll also mean that at the other end of the cycle, one-off spare parts for obsolete models will be similarly easy to manufacture. What is the state of the art in 3-D scanning? Take a broken part, reassemble it with superglue, 3D scan it and 3D print a replacement? Maybe not there today, but soon. Photo-copying for objects.
It may revolutionize lost-wax casting, because it'll be easier to make the wax originals. What makes sense for jewellers today (with hand-sculpted wax), may make sense for any smallish cast-metal object tomorow.
Perhaps surprisingly, no.
There's a lot of law pertaining to exhaust pipes in particular. It was established that car manufacturers had no rights over the manufacture of functionally equivalent parts which, externally, were indistinguishable from copies of a registered design, because they HAD to be exactly the same shape, diameter, etc. in order to attach to the car and not impede the operation of its engine. The internals were a different matter - there is freedom inside to make changes, and the third-party manufacturers were indeed making the innards differently to the car manufacturer.
Further, if you are making your own parts rather than manufacturing them for profit, you have even greater license. For example, you are allowed to make an instance of a mechanism described in a patent for your own curiosity, enjoyment, maintenance of a broken purchased item, etc. even though you need a license to sell such parts for profit.
As with audio and video, watch out for attempts to take away the freedoms we currently enjoy!
On error jump to human ...
I know what you mean, but I immediately thought of "Queen of Angels" by Greg Bear. The plot of that SF novel points out the difficulty of emulating any system whose software has to handle unpredictable realtime events.
Especially if it's one step away from full-human AI and 10s of light-years out.