2223 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
A SSD is more likely to survive being dropped - especially being dropped while active! A SSD may be more likely to turn into a brick without warning. Ordinary HDs often degrade slowly, and you can see the developing need to replace them by monitoring the SMART info (especially Reallocations). This is especially true is they are running continuously in a server, rather than being banged around in a laptop. Often it's also possible to recover almost all the data using a tool like ddrescue that retries intelligently.
But never neglect your backups. Some hard drives do turn into bricks without warning. About a third of the failures, if I remember Google's statistics right. My gut feeling is that it's a lower percentage today.
Re: Everyone smells Google money!
I'd call that even more clear-cut, except I probably don't want to listen to it, and I don't have the option to turn it off. Well, not without breaking in.
It's only the RIAA that probably thinks both of us owe them money.
Re: WIlliam Hill
That depends on the nature of the first self-replicating molecular assembly that gets chemistry started towards life. It certainly wasn't DNA or RNA or life as we know it. It almost certainly doesn't exist any more on this planet, because life as we do know it would eat it or disrupt it.
Some speculate it was a clay-like mineral. If so, it might be remarkably tolerant of interstellar radiation and re-entry. Panspermia is a perfectly respectable theory. However, it's all complete speculation. We have no data to prove or disprove it with.
You're generalizing from one datum (and the experiment hasn't been running long enough to give any confidence in predicting the long-term outcome). Maybe intelligence always self-destructs (one solution to the Fermi paradox), and maybe it doesn't. Unknown at present.
If you take a wider definition of intelligence, one can observe that the invertebrates have evolved intelligence up to at least the level of a cat, completely independantly of our branch of the tree of life. (Octopuses, if you were wondering). They've also been observed using tools.
Chirality and symmetry breaking
There's no mystery at the chemical level. L-amino acids form polymers (proteins) with other L-amino acids, and D-amino acids with other D-amino acids. These chains then fold up into spirals and sheets. Spontaneous bonding between L- and D- amino-acids is chemically unfavorable, because the molecules don't fit together properly.
So, if the first self-replicator was L-based, that would have fixed life (or pre-life) on the L-form, and soon the D-acids in the environment were reprocessed by it/them into small non-chiral molecules (i.e. used as food). Once the L-basis of life was established, it could never change. L-based life can't assemble things out of D-bases, but it can and does use them as fuel when they arise spontaneously.
The deep question is why was the first self-replicator to use amino-acid polymers based on the L-form? The answer may be that symmetry was broken at random. The pencil balanced on its point had to fall one way or the other. If so, and if we can ever find any other life to study, there's a 50% chance it'll be based on D-amino acids.
However, there's a much deeper broken symmetry that is itself chiral. The weak nuclear force. Because of this, the binding energy of L-amino acids is very slightly greater than that of D-amino acids. In a mixture formed by inorganic chemistry from achiral precursor molecules, there will be about 100 more L-molecules per mole than D (i.e. 1 part in 6.10^21). Was this enough to tip the balance? Is L-based life universal, thanks to a physical symmetry that broke almost immediately after the big bang itself? Can we ever know?
Back to trivia. In a few cases some living organisms manufacture an L- molecule and others the same molecule in D-form. What's the difference between lemon flavour and lime flavour? One is L-, the other is D-limonene! Why is 7-up "Limon" flavoured? Because in a chemistry lab, it's far easier to cook up a racemic (50/50) mixture, and that's what your fizzy water is flavoured with.
Wagner's ring cycle
I'd suggest that a cimema version of Wagner's Ring Cycle has huge potentential as the worst film ever. It would help if the director han an ego even bigger than Wagner's and fancied himself as a conductor despite being tone deaf. It would help if the leading roles were taken by stars who couldn't sing. And it would help if it were relocated to a completely inappropriate place and time.
Not sure if the cinema version would be longer than the stage version, or edited down to 80 minutes. Perhaps the director made the former, ran out of money, and the studio released it cut down to the latter?
Paris cast as a fat lady who sings?
Unlike DNA and fingerprint scans, a retina scan can't be planted at any crime scene. Unlike DNA, it can't be used to incriminate your children and grandchildren not yet born, or to render you un-insurable because someone works out you have a gene-linked illness, or for certain kinds of blackmail.
OK, a retina scan might be "planted" as a digital copy in a hacked system, but that goes for a photograph or a credit-card transaction as well. Further investigation ought to reveal that a copy was too identical to be a second scan, or was photoshopped.
So why are we more unhappy that the authorities hold our retina scans, than we are that they hold our photographs? What is Paris worried about?
No such problems here. 100% reliability (displacing Netgear, which was going badly downhill). That said, without knowing exactly which model in the ProCurve range, it's comparing oranges with apples. Are you completely sure that the problem is not with your electricity supply? Nothing likes being subjected to high-voltage spikes and surges. I've seen a router with its chips physically exploded after a thunderstorm. A lesser spike may just fry their innards.
Re: Misty water colored mammories
One of our students (probably) was a smart thief. He worked out that there was only one piece of software that used RAM above 1Mb. After that course module had been taught, he stole 3/4 of the RAM out of every machine. Nobody noticed the missing RAM until eleven months later. What chance of getting caught?
I guess he sold his next idea to a Chinese crime syndicate. they bought up tens of millions of low-grade electrolytic capacitors, used forced labourers to replace all the labels with fake high-grade labels, and sold them back to PC manufacturers. All capacitors lasted 2+ years before they started to ooze brown gunk, or (occasionally) exploded.
Re: How did it win? Simple drug-dealer's economics
The first hit is free and you pay for the rest of your life.
Win 3.1 was almost free, as was the version of MS Office that ran on it.
After a majority of businesses had tied themselves into closed file formats ( "addicted") they started raising the price, justifying it with features that most users would have paid to have removed. But, hey, no way out, and no way not to "upgrade" to a more expensive fix.
They were also ruthless with the competition. Drugs dealers kill rivals. So did Microsoft (metaphorically speaking). It blatantly abused its position to put competitors out of business. Sometimes it ended up in court, but win or lose, it knew its competitors were not coming back from the corporate grave.
Re: Trying to hack the experts?
I wonder if we'll get to find out who has the upper hand in this arms race? I'm not convinced that it's possible for even a state to catch a clued-up and paranoid hacker who is merely launching DoS attacks on an internet address from bots. (The real spy-secret kit is doubtless a much harder target, heavily firewalled and hardened or entirely off-net).
Re: Luckily BBS software still exists...
There are a few new things since BBSs first appeared.. There are broadband satellites, for example. Presumably Iranians have friends overseas who can pay for a subscription? So old-style BBSs with small bandwidth requirements could still be connected to the internet in near realtime. Also with a wireless connection to the Iranian net, it would be pretty hard for the authorities to catch someone in the act of operating the router.
The dissenters could even play them at their own game and set up their own open network of ad-hoc peer to peer routers. Sounds like a good use for loads of cheap Rasberry Pi boards. Deploy and forget. Pringles-tube directional antennae to make it hard for the authorities to locate them, if they aren't in the know. With friends in adjacent countries it could even jump the borders. Some time ago I read about battlefield networking using golfball-sized nodes just scattered out of aeroplanes or missiles. A demilitarised version ought to be do-able for £50/node and falling. Maybe something the a news networks should develop, for places like Syria today, and a horribly likely future Iran.
"Interesting times". Is it actually possible to take a whole country off the internet? Ghadaffi tried it in the dying days of his rule, and failed. Now Iran is about to try. I hope they also fail.
Re: Not paying attention
Indeed. It was sheer dumb luck that the Costa Concordia was not a tragedy to match the Titanic. (Luck, or an "outstanding piece of seamanship" on the part of the captain who'd steered his ship onto the rocks in the first place).
What you're after is a brown dwarf - something larger than Jupiter but smaller than a red dwarf star, where nuclear fusion in the core generates just enough heat that the outer layers are the right temperature for liquid hydrogen oxide. Such a place might harbour life long after all normal stars have burned out and the universe has gone dark.
Re: Just a heads-up
You forgot to mention that's only a sixth of the galaxy. The other five-sixths is something wierd that we're calling "dark matter" until we can work out how to get a better look at it.
And there are nearly as many galaxies in the (observable) universe as there are stars in this one.
And that lot, including the dark matter, is only about a quarter of the whole. The other three-quarters is somerthing even wierder than dark matter that we're calling "dark energy".
Now, do we have a volunteer to stick his head into the total perspective vortex?
Re: So any explanation offered...
A star dies by imploding, once it's internal nuclear reactions can no longer make enough heat to fight gravity.
If it started as a completely symmetric sphere it would collapse to a singular point, but stars are not completely symmetric. The evidence (fron observations of Betelgeuse) is that stars about to explode get pretty warty! The implosion will therefore go faster from some directions than others, and the faster-moving bits will slam through the centre and out the other side.
Something like that, anyway. Magnetohydrodynamics with nuclear processes being driven by the moving medium depending on its temperature and pressure would make for a VERY tough modelling problem.
A long time ago I spotted the opportunity to replace four complex multiplications (24 floating ops) by three integer adds, one table lookup, and one complex multiply.
On a VAX CPU of the early 1980s that was a big win.
On today's, it's probably a big lose, because DRAM access is so slow compared to registers. Although, if the entire lookup table would fit into the CPU cache and be accessed many times from cache, maybe not.
And as for implementing it in a GPU ... I don't do this sort of coding any more. One thing for sure, a compiler isn't going to help. You may well have to go all the way back to the maths and choose a different algorithm.
I seem to remember that they have their own CPU design, which looks remarkably like a re-invention (or copy) of the old Digital Alpha architecture. (IMO, FWIW, that was the best CPU ever designed, but in its glory days Digital could bever get near Intel on the fabrication front, and shortly afterwards Digital the company destroyed itself).
In a sense they've also got TSMC (Taiwan semiconductor) which is one of the few outfits that has state-of-the-art fabrication tech.
Wait and watch. The "inscrutable Chinese" stereotype has more than a grain of truth to it.
If I've got my sums right
Energy density of a 100T field in a vacuum = 4 x 10^3 MJ/m^3 (air pretty much the same)
For comparison, energy density of gasoline = 34 x 10^3 MJ/m^3, less than 9x higher
Energy density of a magnet field goes as the field strength squared. This may give some insight into the self-destructive tendency!
Re: You don't need new laws
Here in the UK, yes, and even more so in the EU. It's a USA story.
Tales of the unexpected
Anyone else remembering the one where the company isn't happy just to interview the husband for a top-level promotion, but insists on interviewing his wife as well in a social setting?
She comprehensively blows his chances.
Which is exactly what they want, because he's using his job to steal from the company!
Re: I would have thought the simple answer is...
Possible, even probable, grounds for dismissal if they later find out that you lied to them.
I *really* don't have a Facebook account.
I still don't get it.
I still don't get it. Why do people feel a need to store every embarassing detail of their private lives in a huge database owned by a for-profit corporation, and then expect to keep it private?
As an old proverb says,
"Don't make love by the garden gate / Love is blind, but the neighbours ain't!"
I've always wondered why they didn't make Opterons with many Hyperchannel links many years ago, so that system-builders could take Hyperchannels through a little buffer chip between boards, or fruther using optical technology. Why did they stop at three, while they watched people building clusters using slower and less integrated technologies?
Only obvious with hindsight?
Indeed. I wonder if he knows what an F1 hybrid is?
It's my favorite way of upsetting educated racists. To get (say) plants with big red flowers, you selectively breed for such, in several completely separate groups. The trouble is in-breeding. The flowers get bigger and redder, but other recessives make the plants become weak and disease-prone. Then you mix up the groups. The bad recessives are different, and recede. What they all have in common is big and red, and they grow strong and healthy and much bigger and redder than any of their parents.
How does that annoy racists? It's setting the trap. You now get them to agree that in the past, humanity lived in small villages and rarely married outside even a 10-mile radius. (The inbred village idiot was commonplace).
Then you get them to agree that humans with free will direct their own breeding through their choice of partner. What are they choosing for? Strength, beauty. Intelligence? Probably all of those. Universal choices? Also probable. Weak Stupid offspring don't have great chances in the world. (I'll pass on ugly: beauty is in the eye of the beholder).
And once you get them to agree that every village was selecting these traits, offset by inevitable inbreeding, you point out that the industrial revolution increased 10 miles to 100, and that air travel has increased it to span the globe. Interracial marriages are creating human F1 hybrid children. Strong, beautiful, intelligent people.
I can't prove it, but it's far more plausible than the opposite. And racists? the inbred village idiots are still with us. They seek each other out!
Re: Wait, what?
Not how I read it in that context. 4 letters starting with C. No, not the usual C-word. Definitely racist.
Murderers often get 15 years, rapists can get less than five. Is murder only 100 times worse? Is rape only 30x worse?
It's not to say he's anything less than a horrible person, but as the proverb says "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me". If we can't bring back a day in the stocks (limited to squishy projectiles), community service would have sufficed.
Re: they can try
Blocked by a granite wall - are you sure? I've sent ordinary Wireless-G Ethernet 30 metres sideways and down through a reinforced concrete floor. Didn't even need directional antennae. Only got 5Mbps out of it, but it worked. How many Mbps does one need to read a meter?
Re: Rise Of The Socialists
Actually, no. If the abuse of power got that bad, then everyone would do what the criminal classes do already: an insulation-displacement bypass between the streetside of the meter and the house.
It's called theft at present, not protest.
Re: Why be part of a bad health experiment in your own home?
"Do some people become ill around certain common electrical devices? Also undoubtedly true."
Cite proof, please. A double-blind test.
Put a person who claims to be electro-sensitive in a screened room (Faraday cage) with a concealed wireless router, cellphone, whatever. Neither the experimental subject nor the person telling them what to do is allowed to know beforehand whether it is turned on or not. Ask them how they feel BEFORE finding that out. Repeat until a statistically significant body of evidence is gathered.
In a less kind and possibly unethical variant on this experiment, let the subjects know where the router is concealed (say, above a ceiling tile) but don't tell them about the spycam recording their every move and the *other* concealed router permanently turned on. I'd bet 9/10 "electrosensitive" subjects would feel the need to sneak a look at the router (and then report back that they're fine when they see it's turned off, despite the fact that the other one should be making them feel ill.
Might the point be that some people actually like to listen to their music in high fidelity? Which is quite definitely not what you get with a lossy-compressed download.
Re: Just a rumour
How does that differ from a personals ad "Chrissy Wayne, happy 21st from Ducky" or (approximate Heinlein quote) "James N, make your will. You have 27 days to live".
Both select prearranged messages: "Chrissy Ducky" or "N 27". As old as the hills, and less breakable.
Re: I nominate
Half a dozen power cables. Still perfectly OK, except that the EU has legislated that every piece of new equipment must be shipped with a new power flex. It's cheaper to recycle the old ones and to bin the new ones, because the old ones already have inventory and test record stickers attached and have already passed their PAT test.
Half a dozen Ethernet cables mangled and tangled to such an extent that the nearest bin beckons.
A pair of fetid trainers and/or socks
A Windows ME "Upgrade" kit
A charger with a wierd connector, possibly for a long-defunct mobile.
A dead mouse (the sort with a ball. Less often, the sort with two).
Stick for forcing a CD to eject?
Do such things really exist? I've always thought you unwound the wide end of a paper-clip and used that.
Re: Also a language issue
What characters are used in Welsh that aren't in the Roman alphabet? I just Googled "Welsh Alphabet" and didn't find such, just different pronunciations for things like w and dd. (Also scripts in which d g t and some other letters are written rather differently, but isn't that a font not an encoding issue? )
Solar (PV or thermal)
It's not economically competitive yet against burning fossil fuel(*), but if those fuels were not available it could certainly take over the planet's electricity generation and maintain a technological civilisation.
(*) Had just about got there in Arizona, but then the gas industry worked out how to extract tight gas by fraccing, and now there's a natural gas glut in the USA.
Re: People still buy HP printers?
If you don't want the extra software, then just ignore the CD that comes with the printer and download the minimum driver from HP's website. You'll find something like "HP Officejet Pro Enterprise Driver - IT Professional Use Only" (at least for the OJP range - dunno about the cheap deskjets).
Officejet Pro rocks
You're wrong about inkjets. HP's Officejet Pros routinely last well for tens of thousands of pages around here (university departments), and the cost of replacing them is a small fraction of the cost of the ink they've eaten. As for that ink cost, they are cheaper to run (including replacement cost) than most Laser printers costing the same or £100 more. Plus, they print colour. In short, HP's adverts for these are true.
Obviously running cost does depend on what one prints. I'm assuming text with the occasional splash of colour on a plain paper background, rather than A4 photographs or big blocky colour graphics. This is as printed by my users - research staff, not undergraduates. Your mileage may vary.
Colour quality of any colour laser printer isn't a patch on even the crappiest (but not knackered) ink-jet. HP OJPros are not intended for photo-quality printing, but they make a much better stab at it than a laser.
As for a big fast bomb-proof mono laser printer/ photocopier / Allin1, I'd vote for a Minolta BizHub (though on a sample size of just two).
Re: Can we have
If Robert Hooke hasn't yet featured on a banknote, he should be at or near the front of the queue.
Isaac Newton was a towering scientific genius but a fairly frightful man. He did all he could to bury Hooke's accomplishments, and took the credit for several things that Hooke should rightfully have been credited with.
Newton was also master of the Royal Mint, which is why is woud be such a good thing to honour Hooke with a place on a banknote!
Hawking isn't dead, and the tradition is that this rules him out. People are honoured with memorials after they are no longer alive.
Re: Fire ALL those involved in the design, manufacture, and service of HP printers.
How many of the other makes have you got and do they fare any better? There's not a printer in the world that can survive certain types of (ab)user for long. They do to printers as the BOFH does to managers. I mean, how do you get *coffee grounds* inside a printer? Anyway, it's the cost per page including both consumables and replacement printers that matters.
I'd rate Officejets and Laserjets in the £60 - £300 range highly (about 40 of them, various models). The cheapest ones are bad value (ink too expensive) unless you realy don't ever print more than a few hundred pages. The big expensive ones I just don't have experience with. Unique(?) selling point: they work like a charm with Linux via hplip (open-source but HP-supported).
OMG. OMG. OMG.
Apart from the target customer base (=everyone that uses computers!), what is there in common between a PC and a printer? Nothing.
When you put a crappy product division together with an excellent product division, what do you usually get? Crap all over the formerly good products.
I fear I'm soon going to have to start looking for a replacement default printer manufacturer. Especially if the first thing that the PC division (Microsoft-indoctrinated? ) does is to interfere with the hplip open-source linux-driver project. That's the reason that right now I don't even look at the competition: their linux support is so dreadful in comparison.
HP, don't put the printers in the crapper. De-merge the printers division if you must!
Re: Lord Of The Rizzzzzz
If you couldn't stand the books you won't like the films. If you absolutely loved the books then the films will inevitably disappoint. But worst movie of all time ... come on, have you really considered all of the above posts and decided RotK was worse than any of them?
"Worst" is the superlative of "bad". "Bad" is the opposite of "good". The word is neutral, colourless: not shocking, not disgusting, not instantly forgettable nor horribly unforgettable.
On that basis it has to be "Battlefield Earth", doesn't it?
Madonna can't do movies.
If you are a producer and have to choose between Madonna and a house-brick for your actress, go with the brick.
Despite or because of this, "Desperately Seeking Susan" was fun. The filmographies have Madonna down as a supporting role, but in the pre-release publicity it was very clear she thought she was the lead. Rosanna Arquette completely, comprehensively and absolutely stole the film. Madonna playing a brick (or possibly herself) worked quite well as a foil for Rosanna's talent.
Re: John Carpenter's Dark Star
It was complete genius. Sure, the special effects, er, weren't. But it was made on a budget that wasn't so much a shoestring as a single thread of silk too short to make anything with. Except that he did. Sure, you have to turn the spacehopper into an alien in your imagination, but that's not so hard.
The whole thing was a pitch for a chance at a big budget, that worked. Except, I prefer "Dark Star"!
Re: Easy. Titanic: The Animated Musical.
You're pulling our legs. Aren't you? Please??
Re: Depressing Drivel
"Kes" was quite good. (Also one of his first, and they don't get better).
Re: The Fermi paradox.
Large moons around gas giants seem common. (Several in our Solar system). Gas giants in the habitable zone seem common (many such exoplanets detected).
Surely the deduction is that ET is more likely to be living on a large moon than a small planet.
Also there's no problem I can think of with life evolving on (or in) a suitably warm gas-giant. It's thought that Earth's original atmosphere was much like Jupiter's is today. It's even possible that some day we'll discover high-pressure-tolerant life under Jupiter's clouds (Jupiter gets warmer the deeper you go). Speculating, I'd agree that it might be hard for such life to attain technology, for lack of anything solid to lay its (presumably non-existent) hands on.
When there was a great company called Pilkington that made glass for every application you could imagine and some you couldn't, they ran a corporate-image advert featuring a large iron nail being hammered into wood with a hammer made of glass. And at the end of the advert, the same nail being removed with the glass claw on the other end of the glass hammer.
If Apple made hammers ....
I'm no fanboi, but Apple at least knows how to make things pretty. Also that the right interface for an iPhone is not the same as the one for an iMac.
It was a can-do culture back then. People didn't take "no" for an answer, and the engineers were in charge. Try - fix the failures - try again - repeat until you are pretty sure you have reached the limit of the possible. It normally only happens in war-time. Well, it pretty much was war-time, but mercifully the nukes were never actually loosed.
In peacetime, zombies take over. They have no concept of experimentation and honorable failure. They demand an assurance of complete success in advance. When something works, they take all the credit (and the pay-rises). When something fails, they shoot the messenger (and often the whole engineering team, for good measure). Ultimately they redefine success as successfully causing increasingly untrue or meaningless words to be assembled on sheets of paper, while running any and all actual hardware into the ground. And of course, they are forever breeding more of their own kind, until there are so many zombies that society completely collapses.
For zombies, read bureaucrats, if you don't already think the two synonymous. And in the USSR, "shoot" wasn't always hyperbole.
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