1564 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 11:28 GMT
Silicon CPUs won't go much above 4Ghz for good physical reasons. Assuming otherwise was the big mistake Intel made with the P4 design, which let AMD get ahead for a while.
Parallel processing of one sort or another is the only way we're ever going to get chips 10x or 100x the power of a current Intel or AMD CPU.
Perfectly OK on laps
I had one of these beasties perched on my lap recently. It was neither uncomfortably heavy nor uncomfortably hot. Obviously, it's heavier than most of today's models, but it wasn't long ago that 2.9kg was par for the course for mere 15inch models. I don't think that the extra two or three inches of width is going to cause particular problems for use on a plane or train. Arm-rests are normally at least 20in apart.
All told, I was rather impressed.
No advance warning of failure?
My experience is that the majority of hard drive failures (maybe 75%) are recoverable to a greater or lesser extent using a read-retry recovery tool like DDrescue. Also about half the failing disk drives I've seen flag up their deterioration through SMART, prior to any data loss at all.
i don't have enough SSD experence but I'd expect them to turn from datastore to brick in a microsecond, with absolutely no hope of recovering anything.
Of course, you've got backups anyway ;-)
I wish they'd stop trying to make bigger SSDs and market a small fast cheap one (under £30). I'd like to run the O/S off an SSD but keep the users' data on HD. And in my environment, that's TB RAID HD arrays on servers. No backup of the SSD or HD in the system box needed - just replace and reinstall.
Coloured cable tie best
If you use a black or natural tie, they might have a replacement to hand. Mine are the purple ones.
Ferret-legging punishment, 21st century style
Poetic justice would be that the device he'd hidden down his trousers burst into flames, courtesy of a defective Lithium battery and a rise in temperature.
A brain is highly fault-tolerant, at least with respect to well-distributed failures. Neurons die as we age. One of the things we need to do is work out how to make networks of millions of CPUs similarly faut-tolerant.
Why bother? Curiosity, and an assumption that at some point in the future the electricity bills will be reduceable. The Met office always has a next-generation weather-forecasting program to hand, which they can prove is better than the program currently used in all respects except one. That one respect is that on the currently available hardware, it forecasts tomorrow's weather several days after tomorrow!
A thermostat is self aware - really?
How do you prove that?
Levels of meaning
My "must" referred to the physics. I could equally well have said that quantum effects must be of significance to the design of a start-of-the-art CPU (20nm gates, 0.8V supply voltage, etc).
In the CPU, the significance is that they cause things regarded as bad by the designers, like charge leakage (leading to higher power consumption and waste heat) and electronic noise (meaning extra efforts have to be made to keep the circuitry reliably binary, again leading to increased power consumption).
In a brain, it's presently very unclear what Nature has done with the quantum effects that must be present at the synaptic level. Worked around them as in the CPU? Or, the minority view, embraced them and worked out how to build a much better platform for thinking with? Or, the minority-minority view, allowed consciousness to arise as an essentially quantum phenomenon?
It might do
It's possible (but thermodynamically improbable) that the gold might dissolve while you weren't looking, at a rate very many orders of magnitude greater than for any other chunk of gold ever observed.
If someone else dumps cyanide waste, or a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, on top of your gold, the likelyhood of its disappearance is considerably enhanced ;-)
In either case, it's an inanimate Schrodinger's cat until you observe it.
We can't solve the halting problem
Human's can't solve the halting problem either. There are many hypotheses in mathematics lacking a proof, such as the Goldbach Conjecture(*). We just give up on a too-hard problem (just the same as a programmable computer with a proper operating system will be interruptible by its real-time clock and devices, and ultimately, by its frustrated programmer.
Godel proved that some of these hypotheses will in fact be undecidable within the accepted (finite) framework (set of axioms) of Mathematics. No complete self-consistent system can be based on a finite set of axioms. One may have to extend mathematics by admitting the theorem, or its opposite, as an axiom ... but of course, doing so for something that is in fact decidable risks defining as true that which is provably false, or vice versa.
(*) that every even number greater than two can be expressed as the sum of two primes in at least one way. So "obvious", yet still unproven more than 350 years after it was first stated.
Use Linux - at least for stress-testing these drives to get to the bottom of the problem. Unlike Windows, you'll get some meaningful diagnostic information!
(And if, as I rather hope, they don't actually fail, then you can point the finger back at Microsoft-quality code designed for hard drives not SSDs).
Hydrogen really not a problem, outdoors
In the open air you can't get an explosive hydrogen/air accumulation. Hydrogen on its own has no explosive properties. If someone gets really careless and manages to ignite the balloon, it'll burn strongly upwards (away from them).
It's not well-known that the majority of the passengers in the Hindenburg disaster survived. Of those who didn't, many died of wounds caused by jumping from too great a height, or by heavy metal components of the airship falling onto them. And that was one helluva large balloon.
The fatal flaw of the Hindenburg, was using an inflammable material for its outer skin. You wouldn't do anything that silly, would you?
Brain: Classical or Quantrum computing device?
Some people think that the real question that needs addressing is whether brains are classical computing devices, or quantum computing devices.
If the former, then once the right interconnect and neuron code is arrived at, this simulator might be as smart as a cat.
If the latter, it hasn't got a hope - you'd need that much computing to simulate a single synapse (and even then, only after making a lot of approximations).
Brain as quantum computer is a minority view. However, a synapse is small enough and sufficiently low-energy that quantum effects must be of significance there. The eye, which is a sensor-extension of the brain, demonstrably is a single-quantum detector. And personally, I would be very surprised if evolution had not found a way to exploit quantum effects, rather than just treating them as a source of noise to be beaten into submission.
An even more minority view is that consciousness is a quantum effect.
As a parting shot, where is the code in a solitary spider-hunting wasp, for identifying appropriate prey, stinging in exactly the right place to paralyze it while avoiding becoming prey of the spider, selecting an appropriate site to dig a burrow, entomb spider, lay egg, etc? It is built-in, not learnt. Ditto in a honeybee or termite, for complex colony formation, though in these cases there may be some form of learning or "culture". None of these insects boasts more than a million neurons.
made by e2v Chlelmsford ...
Which tickled something in my head, and Google supplied the rest. e2v was once EEV and EEV was once the English Electric Valve company. A great example of how a company has to change to stay in business. History here http://www.alphatronlinac.com/default.asp?articleid=94
"existence of a zinc oxide research community was news to us"
Shouldn't have been. "Where would we be without Zinc Oxide?" Kentucky Fried Movie - remember?
Penalize attempted rule breaches!
This might help just a little.
Applying for a TLD should involve signing something like the following. "I have read the <rulebook>. I declare that this application is not in breach of the mandatory security requirements <reference>. I agree that my application fee will be forfeit, if this declaration is untrue".
Nice little earner for the registrar, pocketing $18K or whatever, whenever another phisherman with big ideas (and big pockets) comes along.
Not sure what one can do about insane use of arbitrary TLDs but applications for .localhost .lan etc. should be in breach of the security requirements (rule 1, list of illegal TLD names). They're also clearly in breach of the spirit of TLDs, which require the applicant to have a good claim to that TLD. localhost etc., are in the public domain courtesy of many years of widespread (ab)use.
Personally I'll be surprised if many companies actually bother. It might annoy or antagonise more customers than it could possibly attract. Doesn't everyone and his dog use the Google (or Bing) search bar if they want to find, say, "Nike"?
Picking up a radio emitter is not a problem provided you know where to look. Think of radio-telescopes picking up emissions from other galaxies close to the edge of the observable universe. Compared to that, something emitting 100mW pulses from low orbit would be trivial.
Tracking the micro-sat from launch would be the tricky bit. Guiding it into any particular orbit harder still.
Another idea that might work is a lightweight corner-cube relector and an earth-based laser illuminator. After all, they measure the distance to the moon by laser-illuminating a corner-cube that the manned moon missions left behind! One for low earth orbit could be much smaller and lighter.
Rockoon - Helium??
Why expensive helium?
Hydrogen is much cheaper. Given that the cargo is potentially explosive anyway, the balloon fairly small and probably destined for one-off use, surely hydrogen.
For a micro-satellite, launch at high altitude (as high as possible) has huge advantages. Fuel scales as size cubed, whereas air drag scales as size squared, so the smaller the rocket, the more it's going to lose to drag and the greater the advantage of launching with most of the atmosphere beneath it.
Gratuitous plug for Monarch, who don't try to rip you off by charging for your debit card. Noconnection except as a satisfied customer.
Sixty seconds at 4680 Amps??
A car battery that can recharge in seconds?
If 6 hours at 240V 13 amps is the right amount of charge, then that would be 6 minutes at 13 x 60 amps, or 60 seconds at 13 x 60 x 6 = 4680 Amps. About 1100 kilowatts, or 400 kettles.
Think about what a 4680 Amp plug might look like. Think about a tiny fraction of that current going into resistive heating somewhere it shouldn't. File under cloud cuckoo.
Oh, raise the voltage, I hear? 46 Amps at 25 kilovolts. Yes, that might be manageable on the connector front, but could it ever be made available to Joe Public? File this one under carbonized squirrel.
LInux to the rescue
If the user's data wasn't properly backed up in such a situation I'd reach for a Linux rescue CD such as RIP (Recovery Is Possible) Linux.
Boot. Mount the NTFS partitions readonly. Connect to a network share or plug in a USB drive. Copy the user's files. Finally nuke the disk by writing /dev/zero to the whole shebang, MBR and all before doing a Windows reinstall or restoring a disk image.
However devious a root kit, it can pose absolutely no threat to a Linux-based rescue system resident in RAM, because nothing on the compromised disk ever gets executed by the rescue system.
Something pretending to be a USB mouse won't be able to intercept the keystrokes on the keyboard that your BOFH is using to su root. So it won't know when to launch its attack code.
Of course, a similar attack with a "promotional" Logitech keyboard is trivial.
Perhaps all BOFH's should restrict themselves to remote system administration in fuure, ie never su on the local keyboard, and instead from their administrator ultra-secure PC do
# ssh root@targetpc
where targetpc has appropriate firewall rules and sshd_config entries to make this possible only from the authentic BOFH mission control console. Then we're OK provided the BOFH knows better than to use promotional items for mission control....
Until the attacker bribes a cleaner to put a hardware keylogger in the rats-nest behind the BOFH's mission control station, that is.
Easier to reinstall that repair?!
What sort of company systems are you running? Ones where the lusers log in with administrator privilege? Ones infested with malware?
Firefox has a (near?) perfect division between user-read-only system files and read-write user profile files, and it pretty much avoids the chamber of horrors (Windows registry) altogether. Reinstalling Firefox doesn't actually clean up the user's profile, which is the only part of the installation that a non-privileged user ought to be able to mangle. Re-setting the user profile is just a matter of creating a new one and deleting the old one, and you don't need to reinstall Firefox to do it. A few extra keyclicks will copy his bookmarks from the old profile to the new, if you are feeling kind.
As for IE ... let's just say that the "Internet Exploiter" tag is so accurate it's not funny, and the only reliable clean-up I've ever found is to create a whole new user account.
Provided (a big provided) the system is set up for someone to check, it would be easy to police. They just need to know the kWp (peak) of your array. The average annual generation for the locality will allow them to normalize out the effects of weather variation. Any household generating significantly more units per kWp than its neighbours should be selected for further investigation as a potential fraud. An array might under-perform, but no manufacturer is going to understate their kWp, nor be allowed to get away with overstating it. The best a fraud could get away with is "making up" the effects of local shading, and he'd have to be quite technically competent to get it "right".
The only criminal exception I can think of is pot-growing. They could run their internal lighting off PV solar (*not* grid-connected) and thereby avoid having the electricity utility detect their illegal activities. Oh well, at least it'll be greener pot.
The right answer
Tell these fat cats that there is one way and only one way to keep their pay secret. It's accepting a pay cut to £149,999.
Still too fecking much in my book, but at least it would be a start!
That which does not kill us ....
99% ... is a good driver for microbial evolution. The 1% that survives, will become 2% two hours later, and re-fill the ecosystem after another 12 hours or thereabouts. And they'll be resistant to whatever you did to their grand^6 parents.
You can breed bugs to eat almost anything this way. Culture some soil bacteria. Add enough dioxin (or other environmental contaminant) to kill most of them. Culture the survivors. Add a bigger dose of dioxin. Repeat until they pretty much thrive on neat dioxin (and possibly can't survive without it). Culture a large batch, and spray it onto your contaminated site. Leave for a year. Contamination gone.
The Gulf of Mexico long ago bred crude-oil-eating microbes, because of the high level of natural oil seepage there. Lucky for BP.
Bacteria are nature's clean-up crews. Without them, higher-level life would have choked itself to extinction with its own by-products, many times over.
Just don't teach them to eat plastic, or rubber, or petrol. Or to think.
Back in the real world
I'm guessing here, but ...
The obvious question is whether the spores of the non-extremophile versions of these yeasts are omnipresent in everyday environments, in the same way that everyday green mould spores are? If so it suggests that our immune systems are protecting us against them on an everyday basis, and there's little cause for concern (unless you suffer from CF).
I'd also expect the varieties which mutate to enjoy the innards of a dishwasher, have traded tolerance of that environment for optimisation for non-extreme conditions (such as the insides of a human being). In that case we have less to fear from the ones living in dishwashers than their parent strains. Even if not so, tolerance of extreme heat, alkalinity, etc. won't create tolerance of antibiotic medicines. Be extremely wary of the dishwasher used on petri dishes in a path lab, though!
Oh yes, regional inundations no problem
I'm fully aware that flood legends are common in many cultures. It's not provable, but not unreasonable to hypothesize, that these date back to the rise in sea-level at the end of the last ice-age. In particular, there would have been people living on the floor of what is now the Black sea, around 8000BC when the Mediterranean broke through the Bosphorus.
Fundamentalists aren't willing to accept that anything in the bible may be allegory, or myth, or legend distantly echoing some real event. They think every word is literally true. If so, it would be impossible to find a 10,000 year sequence of annual mud deposition layers anywhere, and there would be a massive disruption at the time of Noah showing in all of them.
And their minds are welded shut.
The obvious immediate use is playing games. Generating 60+ frames/second of high-res virtual reality can absorb almost limitless quantities of CPU power.
Build it and they'll come? I don't know if there are any mainstream business uses that require moving 3D synthetic imagery, but if there are and the hardware is out there, someone will write the software. I do know that there are many mainstream science and engineering applications.
Sometimes I wonder whether the USA is on the same planet as Europe. Certainly their system of "justice" seems to be operated by Vogons, not humans.
Hardly worth any effort
It's hardly worth any effort arguing against these people (unlike the Intelligent Design anti-evolution mob)
Anyone with a mind not irreversibly welded shut can look at a core drilled down through the mud at the bottom of a lake, and count the annual deposition layers. If they're a millimeter thick per year (which is quite fast deposition) then one meter is a thousand years, ten meters is disproof of the whole fundamentalist bible chronology in a way that even a ten-year-old can understand, and which anyone with trust issues can repeat for himself using apparatus that any decent mechanical workshop can manufacture.
There's no record of that biblical flood, either.
After-sales service is what matters most
"I know there's as much chance of getting a duffer as of getting a perfect one"
Even I wouldn't rate Acer that low! But I'd far rather pay 10% more and get a product made by a company that sorts out its after-sales issues successfully, and without causing me unnecessary inconvenience.
To the person above who says Acer's improved, my comment is ... too late. It takes years to build a reputation, and minutes to destroy one. Plenty of other makes to choose from, why give the ones that screwed you a second chance? Perhaps I'll give Acer another try once all the others have also let me down ... but if they know what's good for business, they won't do that.
Google's GO language?
Take a look at Golang. Looks like the right idea set for multicore, albeit immature.
On the other hand ...
At least on this side of the pond, tax evasion rarely leads to anything worse than a fine if/when someone is caught. For small, somewhat unintentional non-payment, quite a small fine. Jail is reserved for someone who is caught managing his affairs in such a way as to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he set out to avoid paying tax on a large scale in the first place
I've heard that in the USA, people are so scared of the IRS that some deliberately overpay their taxes as a safeguard in case they've accidentally under-declared something elsewhere on the monstrously complex tax form.
And I can't forget queueing up at city hall to pay taxes on the private purchase of an eight-year-old second-hand car! Why on earth couldn't this be done by post? (My USA friends told me everyone dodges this tax ... but as a foreigner, I didn't want to risk deportation and/or arrest next time I presented my passport). There's no sales tax on private sales of secondhand chattels over here.
I'll champion HMRC over the IRS any day.
Will include UK
Oh, it will include the UK. It's just that they'll make the same sort of UK mark-up on their discounted prices, that everyone else is making on their non-discounted UK prices.
Having had repeated dealings with Acer's warranty department some years ago, I won't be tempted either. Cheap, but not at all cheerful.
Must have been two decades ago that ferric oxide was obsoleted.
Even in 2001 they were using a high-tech coating of rare magnetic alloys sprinkled with three atomic thicknesses of pixie dust. (Google IBM "pixie dust" if you don't believe me)
I can't resist adding, Cat-5e clipped to the skirting boards like phone cable works just fine at gigabit speed. Maybe the tight bends around corners are out of spec, but the cable runs are unlikely to be more than 20m in a house, and the standard allows for ninety-plus.
Underground datacentres aren't a very smart idea. They can fill up with wet brown stuff when something goes wrong with the pipework or the weather.
But yes, real tape facilities are normally well-hidden from ordinary users.
For music, movies etc. The hard disk model is one copy per consumer stored on the consumer's HD. The cloud model is a few copies stored on cloud servers and transmitted to the consumer on demand.
Cloud makes sense (a) for commercially sold read-only media, (b) if there's sufficient cheap network bandwidth, and (c) if the consumer trusts that the cloud entities won't ever revoke or lose their rights to view or listen to their purchases (i.e. how much do you trust Sony?). From a HD manufacturer's perspective it may well take a big bite out of their market.
I don't think it'll be very long before a typical PC or equivalent has an SSD (probably built onto the mainboard) and no HD. Storage options beyond a few GB on the SSD will be burn to DVD, copy to own USB HD or USB memory-stick, backup or copy to cloud.
the market for HDs is going to mature and go into long-term decline. They won't disappear in the next few decades, but HD manufacture is not going to remain a growth industry. Not unlike tape, really. Sure that the HD manufacturers have worked this out. IBM did so ahead of the pack, and sold to HGST, in what was regarded as a strange move at the time. Now HGST wants out.
Global Feedback loop
Plants grow faster in CO2-enriched atmosphere. Plants grow proportionally more and deeper roots in CO2-enriched atmosphere (easier to come by CO2 so less need for leaves compared to roots).
This may be a long-term feedback loop that keeps the planet at a temperature suitable for life.
It's not necessarily able to stop anthropogenic global warming and sea-level rises, though. The average, over hundreds of millions of years, was a lot hotter than today, with no icecaps at all most of the time. Better for large reptiles than for large mammals.
Maybe not in the big bang.
Almost certainly created in supernova explosions (which is where all the elements on Earth heavier than Iron were created, by bashing lighter nuclei together. (That's much the same way as scientists have created these short-lived superheavy nuclei, but on a much bigger scale ;-)
Any dividing line between an element and some more transient entity has to be completely arbitrary. One can separate stable nuclei from unstable ones, but that would exclude the fairly common naturally-occuring elements Uranium, Thorium and (maybe) Bismuth as well as their shorter-lived decay products. (Bismuth is a "maybe" challenging even that division. Theory suggests it's unstable with a VERY long half-life around 2*10^19 years, but the decay hasn't been observed because it's so rare).
Dismantle - Not faster
Dismantle ... reassemble is not faster if you have got a good cube-solving algorithm on board. You have to make less than twenty 90 degree twists of the appropriate face. Human cube-solving speed-freaks routinely break ten seconds. A computer can form the operation list in milliseconds or less, and the speed is determined by the robotics.
I think dismantle - reassemble will always take longer on the mechanical front for human or robot. It also requires a tool to prize out one of the side-centre pieces to start the dismantlement, especially if you don't want to add "pick it up from the floor on the other side of the room" to the algorithm!
ARM PC board, when?
So when am I going to be able to buy a board to go in a PC enclosure that has an ARM CPU instead of an intel Atom CPU?. At a competitive price. [M]ATX / ITX footprint. And with standard PC interfaces (plenty of SATA and USBs).
Why? Low power consumption, for 24x7 operation. Fanless / silent. (I'd run LInux, of course).
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