2340 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Re: Sharing: Dream of Four-Dimensional State and Fivengtange-Dimensional State
Don't knock such visions ... but unless you can retrieve the underlying meaning, if any, and set it down in the language of mathematics, you'll find it hard to convince many people that it's anything other than a purely subjective imagining.
Organic chemistry was given a huge advance by Kekule, who dreamed of a snake swallowing its own tail and backtracked to the structure of a benzene molecule. Newton reputedly cracked gravity because of a falling apple, or its effect on his head. Many mathematicians and some scientists are Platonists. They believe that mathematics is the language in which the universe is best described, because it exists independantly and timelessly outside of all physical reality. Like most philosophies, it's hard or impossible to disprove, and I believe in Occam's razor! But allowing that they might be right, perhaps we do all occasionally come back from wherever we go when asleep with faint and scrambled recollections of the deepest of realities, and sometimes manage to reconstruct another tiny facet of the infinite?
Re: We don't *know*, but we are pretty sure it does
Bosons are commonly their own antiparticles. The commonest such particle is the photon. Observation of light in gravitational fields on distance scales from smallish (Earth-Sun) to comsological show that photons are attracted by massive objects much as predicted by Einsteinian gravitation. And since they are their own antiparticles, then antiphotons are likewise attracted.
We don't know of any Majorana fermions - ones which are their own antiparticles. The equations don't rule out such particles, and neutrinos are not yet well-enough understood to rule them out as candidates. But gravity acts alike on bosons and fermions, so it would be a major asymmetry if it acted oppositely for antibosons compared to antifermions!
Asymmetry can be an emergent property.
The general belief is that the universe started symmetric but unstable, or evolved to become unstable, and then spontaneously changed into a more stable but less symmetric configuration. Imagine a ball perched on a mound in the exact middle of a dish, with perfect rotational symmetry about the Z axis. Precisely because it is perfectly symmetric, the ball doesn't move. The slightest fluctation of anything changes the situation from metastable to unstable. The ball starts to roll. Once this starts, it will ultimately settle down to stability in a lower part of the dish, displaced from the centre. The arrangement of ball and dish is no longer symmetric about its Z axis. Incidentally the ball is also merely metastable with respect to rolling to and fro in its sponaneously chosen X-Z plane and won't "ignore" its freedom to also move in the Y direction for very long.
If you ask how it got onto the mound, one answer is that the dish itself always retains perfect rotational symmetry, but is evolving in shape from one with the lowest point at the exact centre, to one with a mound at the centre. At the critical point where the centre is no longer the low point, the ball ceases to be stable and becomes metastable.
Re: Telemetics is correct
Re: I'm still curious to know
they seemed to be shifting old stock at a discount as the current version with win8 was £100 more!)
That's not the reason. On Toshiba's price-list the Windows 8 systems are cheaper than the same hardware pre-loaded with Windows 7, by about £50. Methinks if you buy a Windows 7 one you are paying Microsoft for a 7 license and for an 8 license. On the other hand, if you buy the 8 system, you have to spend hours "downgrading" it, and you'd probably be on your own if you were to need support from Toshiba for a software issue.
For a fairly close approximation ssh onto a machine in Australia and then back to a machine in the UK. Repeat until the character echo appears no faster than a quarter of a second after you type it, and often longer. This is what life was always like, in the days of 110 baud acoustically coupled modems.
(I've still got one at home in my loft. It needs an old bakelite standard-issue Post Office telephone to couple it to. And probably new valves and capacitors and rubber bits by now. Nice polished mahogany box, though! )
Sinowsky hoisted by his own petard?
The number that Microsoft has, which we don't, is the number of Windows 8 activations versus the number of Windows 7 activations. By now they should have a very good idea how many systems shipped with Windows 8 never boot it, how many boot it for a day or a week and then get "downgraded", and how many excess Windows 7 activations in the period (as opposed to Windows 7 "sold").
Where I work, the ones that don't get nuked to Windows 7 the moment they are unpacked, get nuked to Linux.
Sinowsky lived by telemetrics, and may have died by telemetrics. Good riddance.
BTW to anyone at Microsoft reading this ... WE TOLD YOU SO!
"Netbook" - fast enough.
The fall of the netbook is largely down to Microsoft, not Intel. I have an EeePC 1000 running Windows 7, and it's usable. How? You upgrade the RAM to 2Gb and the disk to an SSD. I think it was Microsoft who insisted that manufacturers sold them with a maximum of 1Gb RAM and a hard disk (though of course, SSDs weren't cheap enough for the size needed until recently).
More cores and a bit more speed will be nice, but for anyone wanting to run Windows on something that we may as well still call a netbook (small, light in weight, long runtime on battery, and cheap) the keys are SSD and plenty of RAM. In the latter connection, I hope that Intel won't hamstring the new CPUs with too small a physical address space.
75 times faster snail is still a snail.
Err ... no.
Say a snail can do 1 cm/second. 75 times that may be a funereal walking pace, but is still far beyond any land-dwelling mollusc.
Re: Why not...
your VERY expensive GPU has its operating life shorted significantly
in that case it's your very expensive AND VERY BADLY DESIGNED GPU. Silicon should last effectively forever (at least a decade, by which time it's obsolete) running at 50C - 60C. Typically it suffers logic errors and crashes at around 100C, because the hotter it gets the slower the transistors switch. This, however, is crash not burn. Once it's cooled down it again works fine.
Modern designs normally throttle themselves back when they're getting too hot, on the basis that users prefer slower to crashed. The cynic in me suggests that it's also a great way to persuade users to buy a new "faster" computer when all they really need is a new fan on the old one's heatsink to restore its original operating performance. (Or even just a vacuum cleaner to get the fluff out of the heatsink fins).
"Damage" is cumulative, caused by thermally activated migration of atoms within the chip. The rate at which it happens rises as the exp of the ABSOLUTE temperature. 60C is 333K, 100C is 373K, the difference is fairly small.
I was once called in to service an AMD Athlon system with what turned out to be a failed hard disk. Before I got there I touched the heatsink and my skin sizzled. The CPU had been running at over 100C since the fan failed months? years? ago, without any problems at all.
Re: In a word...
What, exactly, has been stolen?
Re: So the Anti Murdoch brigade
Personally I wouldn't touch them with a bargepole
Seconded. It's nothing at all to do with Sky's technical competence or lack of it. Neither is it to do with their prices. It's to do with my perception that the Murdoch empire is evil, and as such I refuse to voluntarily give it any of my money.
I thought folks celebrating Thatcher's death was extremely distasteful, but I might allow myself a private drink or two on the day that I hear that Rupert Murdoch is no more.
When I was at school we were making similar devices - under the guidance of our Chemistry teacher! He also showed us a nice gas/air explosion in a cocoa tin, and a flour/air conflagration in a drainpipe. Lesson learned: even "harmless" substances can be dangerous if you don't understand the risks.
the USA is evolving from a land of can-do spirit to a land where nothing is allowed unless explicitly permitted. Sad.
I too am easily amused by funny things.
Furry things, surely?
What came with your computer may be OK or may be completely ghastly. If you want a good keyboard and mouse at a low price, I'd still recommend Logitech entry-level ones over all others I've tried. As for the expensive gadgets - whatever floats your boat, but I've never been able to view the extra bits as anything other than a nuisance.
The trouble for Logitech is that once you've got a mouse and keyboard you like, why buy another? The PC market is now mature and saturated. People don't replace kit until it's worn out. Logitech will still have a business, but it'll be shrinking not growing, and the competition (far-east no-name stuff) is raising its game.
Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)
Is a HD in a USB caddy that slow?
No, but an SSD in a USB caddy is. Actually the extra power drain of a USB to SATA chip may be greater pain, if whatever you are doing is supposed to run off a battery. (In which context an SSD eats far less electricity than an HD).
Re: 3D semiconductors
Getting rid of the heat? Are SSDs anywhere close to overheating at present? A 256Gb SSD with a 2.5 inch drive footprint runs on about 0.5W and is scarcely warm to the touch. A smartphone CPU uses more watts in a footprint of a square centimeter.
The first step that they don't yet need to take would be passive heatsinks on the flash chips, like a low-end fanless GPU or top-speed RAM. Active cooling wouldn't be a problem for a datacentre solution - after all, the CPUs are all actively cooled.
Not to say that memristors won't wipe out flash in the longer term!
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!
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