Re: Is it a proper programming language?
2642 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
C is one of a small set of languages in which it's possible to write a useful operating system kernel. Don't knock it. But also don't use it, if you're not writing something that requires OS-like control over the fine detail of the generated code. And for heaven's sake don't teach it as a first language.
Works out pretty well in Python. Given tuple assignment you don't often need semicolons, but you can put multiple statements on a line if you want to.
As for Swift, I lost interest the moment I noticed that variable names are unicode strings not ASCII-alphanumeric strings. Bleugh. Immediate fragmentation of the programming world into human-written-language-script communities. I can process code written by (say) a Frenchman or a Finn. The variable names may be less helpful than ones created by a Canadian or an Ozzie, but at least the necessary processing skill is there in my visual cortex. Which it is not, for a string of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tamil, or umpteen other possibilities.
To say nothing of the fact that there are multiple unicode strings that generate the same visual representation (such as an e with an acute accent). It's bad enough dealing with O and 0, 1 and l and I. FAlL.
Anyone notice that one of this beastie's pins is designated PORN?
Thanks. That's what I wanted to know. They have cracked vertical stacking on a single piece of silicon. Call that stage 1: gaining access to the third dimension.
So the stage is now set for stage two: work out how to stack more than 32 deep, and how to stack smaller cells. Neither is up against physical limits, so Moore's law ought to get a second chance, and the Terabit or Terabyte SSD chip may be only a few years away.
Unless HAMR comes to the rescue (i.e. 100Tb drives), it looks as if spinning rust drives may go the way of the horse and cart in not much more than a decade.
On the other hand -- if they've really cracked fabricating 32 devices stacked vertically (as opposed to making 32 separate devices and merely assembling them into a vertical stack), the price of large SSDs may be set to fall something like vertically?
Which is why I'd also like to know more. One thing for sure, I wouldn't much like to be in the hard disk business these days.
No - these stats are based upon browser agent strings visiting a broad range of sites.
Someone, please. please write a benign virus that alters these strings! Wouldn't it be fun to watch Windows for Workgroups rising from the grave?
Microsoft doing that would create an opening for "Business Linux" (possibly hidden behind a non-Linux name, just as Linux's conquest of the mobile world goes by the name "Android").
Microsoft has jettisoned its CEO just in time, now to see if it can also jettison the business plan made out of FAIL.
almost every device i think of already existed in some form or another before it became popular with the masses.
The original Sony Walkman? (Yes, miniature tape recorders pre-existed, but not for playing music to consumers as they went about their lives).
When these things hit the road, the "drivers" won't need to see out. So maybe they'll go for privacy instead, and paint over all the transparent bits. Blue, maybe.
Giving "BSOD" a whole new meaning?
While the elephants duel, it's the authors who are getting trampled.
Not really embarassing for Red Hat. They do servers. They don't really claim desktop Linux (although personally I'm happier with my Linux desktop atop a Red Hat clone like Centos, than atop Ubuntu or SuSE).
BTW if you do run Redhat or similar on desktops, when you migrate them to 7, I'd recommend overriding the new default to keep ext4 as your root FS. I wouldn't entirely trust XFS in an environment where the electricity supply is unreliable (ie, where lusers have fingers on the power buttons).
Tab completion: Yes. To which I'd add,
# rm / tmp/foo/no-more-rubbis [TAB]
and add the -rf at the end of the line, if and only if it does tab-complete, and after you've mentally checked for the very last time, "do I really mean this"?
BTW if your command isn't amenable to this sort of rearrangement, an open-bracket will accomplish much the same for other commands. Add ) CR after you've thought hard.
# ( dangerous_command
#1. Someone needed a Mollyguard clue.
(Out of interest, what do the military call Mollyguards? You know, the ones that stop you accidentally launching an ICBM when you sneeze, or blowing the bridge before your army has retreated over it, things like that? )
technology cannot outpace [energy] depletion for ever
In human terms, yes, it can. Dare I say fusion power?
Please don't laugh. We may even be able to get it working down here on Earth, if we really try hard enough. But if not, it's already working up there in the sky, keeping us all alive, and we now know how to harvest it. Just cover a smallish fraction of the Earth's deserts with solar panels (or with mirrors and systems for turning the capured heat into electricity - the jury is still out on whether solar-thermal might beat solar-PV).
Solar power will be as good as it is today for a lot longer than the Earth will remain habitable.
(BTW that's not a prediction of man-made eco-doom. It's just the fact that the sun is naturally getting hotter as it oh-so-slowly uses up its Hydrogen. The Earth will turn into a Venus clone a long time before Sol finally goes nova. Maybe as little as hundreds of My hence).
We can make diamonds pretty well as large as we want. The scientific and engineering processes are solved, but it's just not cost efficent - despite the wholly artificial scarcity brought about by monopoly.
Not sure that's true for large gem-quality diamonds. The problem is making anvils that can maintain sufficient pressure and temperature for long enough for a large flawless diamond to crystallize. It's certainly a problem where the difficulty comes close to the edges of what is physically possible with known materials.
There are all sorts of rocks which in chemical terms are similar to other rocks available by the gigatonne, but which have unique aesthetic properties. Blue John is one. Opal is another. But if they weren't rare, it's probable that they'd come to be seen as common or vulgar, and something else would come to be seen as beautiful and desirable. Fashion is arbitrary and fickle. Why do rubies have to be natural to be valued as gems? In a big laser, you'll find artificial (and therefore completely flawless) ruby disks many inches across. Could one fake them with natural-looking flaws? The gemologists claim not ... I have my doubts. Could you manufacture statue-sized chunks of flawless artificial marble? I suspect there's just not a big enough market for anyone to build the plant to make it.
On the aesthetic front, there are also new discoveries to be made. Tanzanite is a new gemstone (and one that will soon run out!). As for marble, at some point it may be worth someone's while to go out and core-drill some of the vast known deposits of metamorphised calcium carbonate that don't naturally outcrop. Find a beautiful one near enough to the surface, and open a quarry.
BTW someone mentioned Unobtanium. I think it's been obtained in very small quantities and christened Lonsdaleite. It's yet another carbon allotrope, considerably harder than even diamond. It's formed naturally as very tiny crystals by large meteor impacts on graphite deposits, which mercifully don't happen very often!
Surely the best way to recycle low-grade paper is to burn it to generate green electricity? (CO2 goes up the chimney. New trees grow and absorb the CO2. The trees are made into paper and the cycle repeats)
Landfilling paper generates methane by anaerobic decomposition. If that leaks into the atmosphere it's a rather more potent greenhouse gas than CO2. Yes, a well-built landfill site can trap the methane and feed it into a generator, which may be less polluting than burning paper directly -- but there's always going to be some methane leakage in that process.
f colours are mixed in the waste glass it's a problem.
Not exactly. Slightly contaminated clear glass comes out green. Worse contaminated glass comes out brown to black. You see all of these being used as packaging. We use far too much clear (virgin) glass in order to advertise its contents. Things keep better in brown glass - it protects the contents from photo-degradation.
There are also good uses for the lowest grades of contaminated recycled glass. It makes the coloured chips that are used to mark roads (bus and cycle lanes) and the high-grip surfaces in locations where sharp braking is most likely to be required. It's also blended into insulation materials (rockwool).
We can recycle absolutely anything if we expend enough energy on it. We could turn old tower blocks back into virgin Portland cement if we wanted to. But that would be insane. Better to go dig up more Portland and put the rubble into that nice new hole we've got.
Was that meant in jest? Seriously, living next to a site where an old concrete building is being replaced by new concrete buildings, I saw the old concrete being crushed(*) (to reclaim the scrap iron rebar), screened into appropriately-sized rubble, and used as ballast in new concrete.You can't recycle concrete 100%, but they do a lot better than they used to.
(*) first stage was more like "eaten" by something that looked a lot like a robot T-rex.
So mandatory voting and a box labelled "none of the above" please.
No and Yes.
My view is that the vote of a person who doesn't want to vote is not worth counting, and at worst they might distort the results. Not voting means they've chosen to accept whoever is chosen by those who do vote. I'd go further. Postal votes are too easily stolen or cast without thought. Return to the old system where you have to walk to a polling station unless you can show why you can't (away from the constuituency on polling day, or infirm. I would add being over seventy, and living more than a mile away from your polling station, as acceptable reasons for obtaining a postal vote).
But when I choose to exercise my vote, I'd definitely like to have "none of the above" as a choice. Further, if "None of the above" won the election, there would have to be another election a reasonable time (say two months? ) later, in which none of the candidates who were rejected the first time would be allowed to stand.
Other forms of transport will still need some form of oil, and battery technology is unlikely to change that, due to the energy density needed for lorries, aircraft and shipping.
Sorry, there are no fundamental problems here, just a need to migrate to new technologies as and when they become cost-effective (mostly here, because the old ones become more expensive because of fossil-fuel depletion).
Lorries can go electrical in the same way cars can go electrical. The "problem" in both cases is recharge time. We need batteries that can recharge at a higher current, or a standardised battery-swap technology with recharging being done slowly at the fuelling stations. The latter could be done with today's tech. Both would need a huge investment in infrastructure which is unlikely to happen while oil remains at its current price. (There's also compressed natural gas, which is already replacing diesel to some extent in the USA and elsewhere where NG is cheaper than diesel, but that's a short-term work-around).
Oh, and if you segregated freight from cars to a degree, trolley-lorries would be another viable approach. Wire up the M-ways and main A-roads, build pull-overs for HGVs to unhitch themselves, their batteries would be fully charged after an hour or so travelling along the wire, for an onward local delivery. ISTR this was actually implemented somewhere in the FSU.
Shipping could use liquified natural gas. Post fossil fuel it could revert to "sail". Modern wind technology wouldn't look anything like the square meters of canvas of yore. Think vertical powered rotating cylinders (Bernoulli effect) and/or huge computer-controlled kites, plus energy generated from wind to charge battery banks for use in close-quarters manouvering or escaping port during dead calms. (Low tech batteries: sail ships need heavy ballast so they can tack, may as well be lead-acid batteries? ) Finally add in modern weather forecasting and telemetrics. The sail ships of tomorrow would never become becalmed because they'd know where the calms were going to be, and navigate elsewhere. Really BIG ships, if needed at all, might be nuclear-powered.
Which leaves aircraft, and the simplest (only?) solution there is that we go back to the 1920s. The very rich or those sent by rich employers fly in craft powered by (necessarily expensive) biofuel. The rest of us stay on the ground. Mass air tourism and most air freight is not a necessity, it's a luxury.
Suppose this is done without it being a vector for advert targeting. A really good idea? NOT.
It's one of the SF-inspired nightmares that haunts my imagination. A society optimised too close to the edge of chaos. Then some small thing goes wrong, and it crashes via a set of un-anticipated interactions. Crashes hard. Crashes so hard and with so many interlocks and interactions, that it can never get back on its feet before 90% of the population are dead.
Maybe we're there already, with JIT delivery and internet and computers replacing people in finance and sales. World CyberWar One may be worse than a nuclear WW3. But it could get an awful lot more fragile in the future, if the warnings are not heeded.
Fact. Half of the USA's electricity grid was once knocked out by a suicidal squirrel carbonising itself. But at least there was enough resiliece in that system, that they could (manually!) re-boot the electricity grid over the next twelve hours or so, before the rest of society crashed.
Not remembering logos doesn't mean that they don't influence your purchasing subconsciously
Is the majority of the human race really like that? For my part, I certainly do remember the logos consciously. If the advert is intrusive enough for me to notice it, it's a positive reason why I won't be buying anything displaying that logo until I've forgotten the intrusion. Same thing happens if I feel that a company's product or conduct has been particulrly heinous. I haven't bought anything SONY since they deliberately inflicted malware on the computers I was looking after, and I haven't had any cause for regret.
Visual - just cover the panel with a sheet of something opaque
Audio - stick a sponge over the noisemaker, or mangle it to non-functionality.
Or is it just going to phone home to tell advertisers what you are buying and running out of? In which case, surely tinfoil over its aerial will fix it? If it won't refrigerate without an internet connection, it's clearly unfit for purpose, so return it and demand a refund.
(Personally, I'd go all out to confuse the advertisers. Cut the RFID tags off everything you buy, and let the fridge report back that it's full with half a tonne of clothes, DIY supplies, and foodstuffs five years past their sell-by date! )
Broadly speaking, I agree with you.
Not about trains, though. People are packed at very high density in trains and ought to show consideration for fellow travellers. Wilfully creating ANY strong odours is a sign of a selfish person. I'd rate Essex girl perfumes, Essex Man aftershaves, and eating hot food, and e-cigs, all as unpleasantly anti-social in that environment.
To all the women who take offense when I start sneezing next to them, a gentle hint - IT'S YOUR BLOODY PERFUME THAT'S TRIGGERING MY ALLERGY!
It's beginning to be said that nicotine is more or less equivalent to caffeine, it's a mild stimulant which in itself does no real harm.
Which can't be held as proved until a lot more research is done. For starters, what's the ratio between the effective pleasurable dose and the LD50 for Caffeine and Nicotine? Then, what are the long-term effects?
Smokers have elevated rates of cancer and heart disease. The tar explains the cancer. Does it also explain the heart disease? If not, what does?
Despite my skepticism, I'm all in favour of vaping, since it appears to allow a majority of smokers to break their addiction, and many of the rest to substitute a seriously harmul product by a far less harmful one. Just saying "safe" is overstating the case.
I'm still hoping that "Elephants never forget", and that IBM is going to take its revenge on Microsoft at some future date. Possibly if/when Microsoft announces EOL on Windows 7 with no business-appropriate replacement in sight.
I'm told IBM uses Linux on a large scale internally, including on desktops.
China may not have many alternatives to Microsoft, though, given that the country's homegrown OS "Red Flag Linux" apparently shut its doors and fired all staff in February.
the question there should be "what did Red Flag Linux offer, that the commonly used Linux distributions do not?" The common distros all come with Chinese Language support. Not being Chinese, I cannot comment on how good or otherwise that might be. But maybe they simply felt there was nothing that Red Flag Linux offered, that Ubuntu or Fedora or Centos could not also offer. They can read all the source code. They can modify or add packages to their own requirements. Linux isn't all-or-nothing in the way that Windows is.
A gold+research lab story.
Some years ago, I heard a story about how a company resolutely insisted on wasting the not insignificant cost of about three ounces of gold.
One of the many research uses for gold is vacuum deposition onto objects prior to scanning electron microscopy. The gold blank in the heavily used gold plater had finally been used up. (Most of it deposits on the bell jar that maintains the vacuum, and then gets washed down the sink a few milligrammes at a time, because you don't want a shiny gold opaque bell jar, you want a transparent one.)
A replacement gold blank made of ultrapure 99.999 gold cost several times the gold content. The cheap approach was a Krugerrand, which happened to be the same diameter. Of course it's less pure gold, but that didn't matter.
But could these guys get an order for a Krugerrand past purchasing? To cut a long story short, no, No, NO!!. Expensive ultrapure overpriced gold blank it had to be. Laboratory equipment suppliers good. Bullion dealers bad.
There's a rarely-considered particle that is created by all high-energy physics experiments. They violate causality, because they always appear before the experiment is carried out, and never afterwards.
They're called Trolls.
Physical properties. Amongst others it's highly reflective, highly malleable, polishes to a near-perfect mirror surface, conducts electricity very well, doesn't tarnish(*), and it's very dense.
(*) More accurately it's a noble metal - a gold surface is actually gold. C.f. aluminium or zirconium or many other shiny metals which also polish to a good mirror, but which have surfaces of protective metal oxide, not pure metal.
Here I guess that the high density is key for the target. Platinum is slightly denser but won't offer such a clean surface, is harder to fabricate, and costs even more in any case.
Isn't definition 4 appropriate?
BTW It struck me that definition 4 also leads to definition 3, if used in the context of a lynch mob.
The real truth is that they won't allow independant verification of their version of "truth". Also, that they are now issuing official denials of what has previously been reported.
Draw your own conclusions.
The interesting thing about arsenic is that we need some, in the correct form, in our diet
Has that actually been proved?
Last time I read about it, the status of Arsenic as a trace element in higher organisms was unknown. It's omnipresent in the environment in small concentrations, so it's impossible to feed a rat on a completely Arsenic-free diet to see whether it develops a deficiency disease. On the other hand, there wasn't any known enzyme or other bio-molecule with Arsenic as an essential component.
Best guess was that Arsenic is an element that higher organisms have evolved to tolerate in low doses, because those doses are omnipresent.
I do know that certain micro-organisms are known to have evolved in Arsenic-rich waters to substitute Arsenic for Phosphorus in many (not all) of their biological pricesses. But drinking those same waters would soon kill a mammal, so any read-across is doubtful.
Where did the water go when they "flushed it"?
The local soft drinks bottling plant, of course. (With a 20% discount).
The law just needs to get a sense of proportionality.
Yes, he's guilty as charged. But let's see. If three years is an appropriate sentence for a waiter caught pissing in the soup, then for pissing in a reservoir you get three-billionths of that sentence. I make that a shade under fifty milliseconds.
BTW just one anthrax spore might be enough to kill you, if it's the lucky one in a million. This is the difference between biological and chemical weaponry.
but dead animals and bird droppings added AFTER the chlorine... that really would freak me out.
I hope you are one of the few people who never allows any tap water that didn't come from the kitchen cold tap past their lips. Also, that you have checked the routing of all the pipes in your property, and have inspected the situation in the loft.
Commonly in a flat in a Victorian building, the other taps are fed from a header tank in the loft, that is not covered, and which is accessible to any wildlife that can get in under the eaves. I have heard of cases where people complained to the water authority that their water tasted unpleasant, and the problem was traced to a decomposing pigeon or rat in the header tank. It's also not unknown for the kitchen cold tap to be mis-plumbed into the supply from the header tank. And of course, mixer taps mix a bit of impure hot water into the "pure" cold water, if you select cold but the previous usage was warm.
Personally, I'm rather more concerned about leachate from the coal tar (ie concentrated polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, bio-accumulative carcinogens) with which the Victorians sealed their cast iron public water supply systems against leakage. Many of these pipes are still in use. At least London has the saving grace of hard water coating the innards of everything in limescale.
Oh, and "plumbed" my well mean plumbed with actual lead pipes, if the building is pre-war. Again I'm glad of the hard water in London.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You now have permission to vomit.
Potassium Cyanide can also be 'sterile' , but by your reasoning it would also be safe to 'drink'
Diluted to the extent that's being considered here, it would be.
"We've found a bug in your product."
"Great. Let us have the details and we'll fix it"
"By soonest? Well, yes, if you're willing to pay someone to work specifically on your problem for a few days ... actually it's already been fixed in the latest release, but we understand you may have operational reasons for prefering to pay for a back-port of the bug-fix ..."
"We've found a bug in your product"
"Great. pay us $$$$$$ for an upgrade to the current version"
"Is it fixed in the current version?"
"No, but we can't open a ticket against your obsolete version"
[snip - unproductive dialogue]
"Whaddya mean, you'll sue? Haven't you read our terms and conditions? Anyway, we've got more and better-paid lawyers than you. You ought to know that, after all it's you that's paying for them when you buy our products"
(It's Friday. Don't take this too seriously).
Who will spend two days travelling from Shanghai to London when you can fly in under 12 hours?
Someone deeply air-travel-phobic?
By 2100, with an optimist's perspective, it's probable that we'll be back to the 1920s with only the very rich or very important people flying, and everyone else using electrically-powered trains. (And quite possibly sail-powered ships, unless they allow ships to burn coal, or build nuclear-powered mega-ships. )
So why are they proposing to lay 13,000 km of track?
THINK BIG! By the time China Global Railroad is complete, much more than 13 Megameters.
From Seattle, across the USA, and South to Latin America (via Panama)
From Beijing, through Russia to Europe, and either across the Straits of Gibraltar into Africa or possibly via Iran and Saudi. Either way, ending at Capetown.
Don't forget the branch line tunneling under the Himalayas to India.
It's not even a new idea, but its time just might be coming (ie when the oil finally starts running out). Yes, the politics is "interesting", on top of which there are a few other rather tricky bits of geology asides from the Bering Strait.
The UK has considerable advantages on that front. We have high rainfall (Southeast excepted), and we're a fairly small island so it ought to be possible to pipe seawater to just about anywhere. I'm assuming that one can frack with seawater? Not so sure about what sort of pollution is in the water returned post-fracking, but unless there are cumulative toxins, the sea is very large and can dilute almost anything that's not bio-accumulative to harmlessness.
10Gb/s copper as a viable upgrade from 1Gb/s would be a serious power drain, if it could be done at all.
10Gb Ethernet over copper as standardised today is limited to 10 metres. That's enough for some server room applications (including this one?) but not far enough for networking premises. If 100 metres at 10Gb over copper is possible at all, it would eat considerably more power than 1Gb/s (which in turn eats significantly more power than 100Mb/s - IIRC a good fraction of a Watt per link).
BTW for performance, Flash-SSD memory shouldn't be on a disk bus at all. It should be a card on the system's PCIe lanes. It's often made to look like a disk drive because that way it can supply a performance boost to existing disk-based infrastructures, but it's hardly the best way to use the flash memory.
Which maybe points to why full migration to ipV6 isn't likely any time soon?
I'm afraid I thought of pretty much the opposite, as written in Kornbluth's "The Marching Morons". (Classic SF from the 1950s - I think it actually predates me).
Was this not the basis of the Issac Azimov 'Foundation' books?
Sure was. And that's fiction. Which was pretty much the point I was making.
And... Floating a balloon in that stuff with rather...uncomfortable.... conditions to crash right in to makes for a nice suicide bet.
Like, living on Earth during the cold war wasn't pretty much the same? (We came within minutes if not seconds of mutually assured nuclear destruction more than once). Come to that, how much better are things today?
People still live in Tokyo, Istanbul and San Francisco ... what are their chances when the big earthquake hits? Definitely when, not if, though maybe when is after their life comes to some other natural end. That's the key.
What are your chances if an airliner in which you are crossing an ocean develops a major mechanical malfunction? I'd expect a floating city to have a fair degree of self-repair capability, and lifeboats, both conspicuously missing from our airliners.
I can actually imagine the idea of floating cities above Venus working, but not in the near future. First, we'd have to solve the problem of getting raw materials to first build and then maintain those cities. Robot miners working down below (at 600C in Sulphuric Acid vapour)? Or mining asteroids, and delivery from above ... how, exactly?
Maybe five hundred years hence, if we don't wipe ourselves out or develop the social equivalent of senility.
And I think O'Neill colonies in Earth orbit or Earth's Lagrange points might be easier.
"Halting state" is written in the second person. It didn't bother me that much. It's the sort of thing that authors do as part of being creative. I wasn't convinced it added anything compared to the conventional mode of narration, but I didn't find it hard to process.
Have you ever tried Iain Banks' "Feersum Endjinn", in which one of the narrators is dyslexic? Or (the book) "Clockwork Orange"?
Stross is a completely awesome writer of entertaining and thought-provoking fiction.
As for economics, I have yet to be convinced that anyone understands economics. As a physicist, I know that fluid dynamics is really hard, and climate modelling even harder. Now try climate modelling with particles (people) that make their own decisions about how they are going to behave, based on the conditions in which they find themselves. You really think you can do that?
Most economists I've talked to don't know enough maths to recognise an (impossibly?) hard problem when they see it. They just catalogue what's (mostly not) worked in the past and suggest on that basis things that might work in the future. Like one would expect,they mostly don't work. But what hey, sometimes you luck out, and then you're famous and influential and enjoying tidbits from the tables of the seriously rich.
To the extent that they are reminding us of the bits of history to remember rather than repeat, they're not entirely bad. Compared, say, to parasitic "professional managers" who claim that they don't need to know anything about the business activities that they are in charge of and the lives they fsck up.
So why is he stuck in Russia?