223 posts • joined Tuesday 11th August 2009 14:03 GMT
Re: There's no such thing as too much coffee.
Not sure if it's common in the EU, but here in the states several of the headache meds (I think Excedrin in particular) have a goodly dose of caffeine for exactly that reason. Of course there's the negative side-effect of getting people who wouldn't otherwise consume caffeine addicted, but that just helps business, right?
Re: "Engaging" with the younger generation...
thanks for the swearies Trevor. Don't work with networking gear myself, but I can sure appreciate the venting.
What the heck does the twitterverse have to do with making a great router? I'm on the dividing line between Gen-X and Gen-Y and I think most of my older peers use Facebook and twitter more than I do (approximately not at all). Seeing a drab-gray company trying to get hip with the kids gives me the creeps. It's ok to be drab and gray and make high-end enterprise gear that you sell for a juicy margin.
Re: Xeon? You mean the silicon space-heater?
no intention of defending intel, but Xeon Phi is a different beast entirely from Xeon. It is largely a scrapping of the chip architecture-- previously it was called Larrabee.
another potential benefit
Global interconnects take multiple clock cycles due to propagation delay. My vague recollection is that the propagation speed is ~0.3c (due to the RC coefficients). If the conversion to and from photons is fast enough, this kind of thing could unblock one of the major limits on processor scaling, allowing bigger/badder cores with better single-thread performance.
Anyway, always cool to see this kind of fundamental work going on.
surely it is an enormous, prehistoric shark caught by a chilly glacial current during its struggles with a terrifyingly tentacled cephalopod back in the jurassic. Global warming has weakened the ice just enough that their battle can resume. That's right, a mega-shark vs. a giant octopus. Scientists would investigate further, but they're afraid there might be snakes on the plane.
Jake, I've got mixed feelings about the badges myself, but the thumbs do serve a valuable purpose in my opinion, and having both directions is an important part of it. In real life, if I say something, people may not respond to me with a considered response, but simply smile or laugh, or instead frown or storm out of the room. The thumbs provide a similarly light-weight means of response. I'm sure I've occasionally made the inflammatory post-- the forums would be pretty crummy to use if everyone who felt one way or the other about it had to post "me too" to that (see some of the old forums with Eadon as an example of how this can go wrong).
It strikes me that your personal grudge against the thumbs might be that you receive consistent negative feedback through the medium. Possibly you don't get this in real life-- it strikes me based on your posting history that you are a person who has a good deal of authority and possibly people are fearful to tell you when you're being an ass. Maybe instead of railing against a feature on a website that has no real impact to you, it might be worth considering why you are drawing consistent negative reactions when I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of thumbs on the site are up rather than down.
I don't think you're a troll and I do think you frequently have good contributions to the forums, but the constant one-upmanship and boasting about how amazing your life in Sonoma making everything yourself and expressing your contempt for people who don't live as well or aren't able to do as many things as you do is tiresome and childish.
50% against the spread?
If there wasn't a typo in the article, these guys are doing 50% against the spread-- that sounds like they could just be getting lucky since the casinos do a damn fine job of setting the spread to make those bets pan out nearly 50/50. I'm not getting the sense these are Nate Silvers here-- what am I missing?
one silly, one serious:
"Bathed in his currents of liquid helium, self-contained, immobile, vastly well informed by every mechanical sense: Shalmaneser. Every now and again there passes through his circuits a pulse which carries the cybernetic equivalent of the phrase, 'Christ, what an imagination I’ve got.'" (John Brunner, Stand on Zanzibar)
Seriously though, this seems pretty cool. I could see this being akin to databases enabling hordes of engineers and *gasp* business people who weren't experts in efficient storage and retrieval, redundancy, coherence modeling, multithreading, etc. to take advantage of concerted effort by a small few who are. Machine learning has way more cool applications than the people who understand it deeply enough to implement could possibly support piecemeal, and they are unlikely to understand all the subdomains in great enough detail to be the right people to guide that work. I'll be very interested to see how this develops.
Re: Onwards to upwards towards 2bn Android phones.
true, but in Google, I think Microsoft have an adversary with equally bountiful pools of cash and engineers. Commiting to burning money and playing creeping death I think mainly works when you're bigger than anyone in the market you're trying to enter. I just can't see MS enticing much of anyone to their platform.
where is my heart icon??
The el-reg diagram is brilliant. Thanks Richard!
And the bathroom reservation thing is actually not a bad dang idea. Would have liked to have something like that today-- had to try four floors across two buildings to find one that wasn't being cleaned or occupied. I'm thinking we could integrate the stall door locks with a simple sensor, have a web reservation form, simple badge scanner, reservations time out after a few minutes. Then management could track people spending too much time on the throne. . . hmmm, lots of great applications here :-)
Re: Good time ahead !
I want some of whatever you're smoking. Yes, this is a cool technology, but it's not a lot different from what is done in the mobile space (where both NVIDIA and Intel play). Even when AMD clearly had the better parts, was first to 1GHz, first to 64 bit, and was crushing Intel on all the benchmarks, they didn't manage to translate that into market leadership. Now, a lot of that is because intel are cunning bastards with an enormous amount of business inertia making their position hard to attack, but that hasn't changed any in the last 10 years.
not entirely fair
much as we all like to make fun of senior management, this is only of those executives that had malware-- it's an aposteriori, not an apriori distribution. We have no idea based on this information what fraction of executives surf porn from their work computers or whether it is higher or lower than non-executives. Concluding that executives are "complete berks" isn't supported by the evidence.
seems like the right thread to complain about an ad for some online game called "heroes" that seems to be showing up on my work computer in IE, both on the main page in the gutter and inline in some of the articles. Shows three scantily clad female characters. Definitely not appropriate for me to have up in the office. It's hard enough finding women applicants for programming jobs, I don't want to be contributing to the problem.
some ways of relaxing reliability
This sounds like it's related to the utterly mind-bogglingly "brilliant" dark silicon work. Good job on the good professor for getting himself a ton of publicity (and presumably funding), but it seems pretty clear he hasn't ever worked in say imaging where tons of effort is put into killing bad pixels because people are actually very good at catching them and find them offensive.
My guess is that they are assuming that you take your existing test machines, characterize hard and transient failures per die, look at under-voltage characteristics either in simulation or final silicon, and use that information to optimize power and die yield. Now how putting a dot is sufficiently informative to distinguish between "I can tolerate 3lsb error in this calculation" and "the result of this calculation can be completely bogus (e.g. NAN, INF, -INF, 42, . . .) 97% of the time I have no clue. If you knew that you had an adder that was say, stuck at zero in the LSBs you could guarantee the first, characterization of delay and running at an appropriately over-aggresive lower voltage can be done to meet the second constraint.
At any rate, this all seems like a useless crock. Another day passes and I remain grateful that I dropped out of academia.
good points. Ceramic (as used in the sharpener you suggest) is much less likely to screw up a blade than carbide. Personally not a fan of that style sharpener, but maybe because I've seen too many people mess up nice cutlery.
this is what I normally use-- takes and holds a great edge, unquestionably dishwasher friendly, and not at all expensive.
I have used Wusthof and Sabatier knives in other people's kitchens, but they've always been disappointingly dull in comparison to my $20 knife. Which goes to the general point of this discussion that you can have the most expensive and best equipment, but if you don't treat it right it won't perform.
you're getting some potentially really bad advice above.
If you knives are stainless steel, dishwasher use may be ok-- in fact, many restaurant grade knives are designed for this. However, some of the best blades are high carbon steel (much sharper). You don't want any water sitting on carbon steel (rusting) and it tends to be more sensitive to chemicals.
Also, would recommend you be careful about sharpening. You don't want to actually do this often, you want to steel your blade at every use and sharpen as needed. Sharpening is a really good way to permanently destroy a blade if you don't know what you're doing and there are lots of cheap and not so cheap sets that will help you with that. In particular, most of the sharpeners that have two carbide bits (sometimes disks, sometimes rods) you pull your blade through and the electric sharpeners are recipes for destroying your edge. I've successfully used and would recommend the Lansky youtube demo here, but in general you shouldn't need to sharpen a lot and if you're about to buy a high-end knife, it should come from the factory with a pretty darn good edge. Read the manual for any sharpener you get carefully before you go and use it. Or, visit your local butcher and find out who they get to sharpen their knives. The key though, is a nice, long, steel (longer is easier to use and less work) with consistent, low pressure strokes.
Re: The importance of complexity
if you can make your problem look like a graph, it is pretty much assured that there's either a known polynomial time solution or it's np hard. The good thing about these kind of problems is there's no "right" answer, so you can take your pick from a variety of reasonably good heuristics.
Fun example: was considering a while ago an AI for a turn based game where monster hordes would try to maneuver through the dungeon to cut off the free space available to the player with the hopes of eventually surrounding him in an indefensible area. So how do the monsters move to optimally cut down the fraction of the dungeon that can be reached?
In professional work, I have generally tried to find approaches to problems that avoid getting into NP hard nasties. Simplifying the problem statement so that something in linear or log time works instead is good if you do work with real-time systems.
Overall, I agree with the second poster-- even those engineers who do work with algorithms spend the majority of their time on unglamorous tasks-- plumbing, buffer management, refactoring, validation/verification, etc. A well written kernel is generally small and tractable, a production system typically is not. I think this may have something to do with why algorithmics get a lot more attention in our schools than software engineering. Frankly, I'm not convinced you can teach software engineering in an environment where everyone gets the same exact problem and is assessed objectively on individual performance. Building a big system is ultimately a group endeavor and possibly beyond the scope of a semester course.
I think the problem MS seem to have in the mobile space is the same issue my mildly creepy uncle has. MS seem unable to understand the market's perception and expectation of them and continue trying to be "down with the kids" (the ads for Kin are a great example). I'm sorry, but no one under 30 wants an MS device unless it's Xbox branded. Now, if they targeted business users that might be a different story. The world sees MS as boring, but that can also be written "a known quantity" and "trusted". MS should stop worrying about the kids, get over their midlife crisis, and embrace their status as an established member of the business community.
Re: My favourite comment
This just happened to me!
Except that the comment was less obviously a "to do"
two end cases to handle in an algorithm, he handled the second, but had the detection for the first as well. The comment said something like "increase gain here" followed by several lines apparently modifying some gain parameters (but not actually increasing anything).
Re: Walkie Scorchie Death Ray.
similar story here in the US a few years back
oh, and look, it was the same architect. And the guy admits to knowing that there would be problems in both cases. The arrogance and stupidity boggles the mind. "who cares if you scorch people in vegas?"
Re: Human Brain 1000000x more powerful than a computer
don't buy the 1million times smarter argument at all.
Almost every time a claim about a good measure of intelligence has been made computers have eventually done a better job (with a few notable exceptions).
Computers are now better than the top humans at chess, jeopardy, chip layout, optimization and path planning, mechanical assembly, specialized vision applications (spot the tanks), library science (index the web), weather prediction, stock market prediction, and probably more I'm not thinking of.
Where they aren't yet even are things like natural language parsing, artistic endeavors, and general vision applications.
Also worth noting that the human brain is about 14,000 times the volume of a single die. So a more fair comparison would be an average human against the Oakridge Titan. Transistors are pretty frickin' good already, it's the power, cooling, and interconnect on the large scale that needs work.
Re: It *looks* like the Victorians *should* have been capable of doing this
when I went several years ago, the tour guides explained that one of the major advantages over the locks is that there isn't any water loss involved. These are after all, canals, and not rivers.
Really cool to see in person. I could have sat watching the giant planetary gears spin around for hours.
and a word in support of oneliner ifs
glad to see the Allman style supporters are out already.
Figured I'd chime in on the one liner if-- this guideline from NYT is clearly from someone who's never written industrial scale code (grabs flame-proof suit). In a good code base, pretty much every function returns error. If you have a function that acts as a switch between hundreds of of different functions all not quite alike, you get a crap-ton of tedious code like
if(function != Success)
well, of course, that is too dang long when you have hundreds of the little buggers all over the place, but the simple, legible
if(function != Success) goto cleanup;
is of course forbidden by your coding standards, so you get the wonderful error handling macro to wrap things up in to bring them down to one line within the remit of the coding convention. Like so:
Now, this doesn't look too bad, until you actually try to read code that has this stuff in it. I'm not sure about all of you, but when I scan that line, I see CHECK_ERROR, not function. Yes, there are other advantages to this sort of macro, but the one-liner if is miles ahead in terms of legibility.
not such a terrible idea
I suspect that the vast majority of beef ends up as ground beef that gets served up at fast food joints or otherwise processed beyond recognition. From the Guardian's coverage of this burger, it sounds like one hope is that the meat could be produced much more efficiently than present farming methods can achieve.
Seems like it'd be appropriate for a lot of the applications of ground beef-- judging by my memories of the last time I ate a "beef taco" at Taco Bell, I think it's a fair possibility this might even improve the quality.
By reducing the need for mass produced beef, I would expect cattle raising to shift its focus back to producing meat that tastes, well, beefy. Everyone gets cheaper, easier access to meat, meat from real cows goes up in quality, and various negative environmental consequences of cattle ranching can have a reduced economic impetus. Win-win-win.
Re: No more top three comments below story! :-)
I too am glad this horrible feature has been expunged. The most obnoxious bit was that it would kick in when there were only 5 comments on an article.
What I *do* think could work would be a "featured comments" but that would need hand selection to get right and probably prompt much whining from those who got more upvotes but were not chosen.
Beer for the site designers, it's a rough job and any changes will be met with howls of indignation.
Re: What happened to Eadon??
Trevor, I didn't see the ad-hominem comments from Eadon, but I suspect a lot of regular readers would agree that there should already have been some sort of disciplinary action in place long before on the basis of continuous forum-jacking. Eadon did have an occasional post that had something interesting to say, but the majority of his contributions removed value from the site.
It sounds like the position you are floating is that the continuous trolling and general ass-hattery would have been ok as long as he didn't do anything potentially illegal, and I think that's a bad decision. Your idea of a troll seems to involve a strongly stated, possibly deliberately controversial, but reasonably thought through position. There is a world of difference between that and what led to multiple comments per day with two thumbs up and 50 thumbs down. Sociopathy shouldn't be acceptable.
By the way, there are more options at your disposal than a ban-hammer. You could, for example, rate limit posts, remove people's no-moderate tag, temporarily suspend accounts, use a badge of shame, default comments to invisible. . .
Thankfully this all seems to have been a pretty unique situation, there's a nice group of regular readers here, so hopefully all this discussion remains firmly theoretical.
Re: In exchange for 10% of future profits...
yes, you could certainly buy a round for all us regtards, but it'd probably be Hite or Cass.
battery life and benchmarking
everyone asking about "why the san diego can last 4eva if it is the sux on benchmarking" is missing an important point. These CPU and system benchmarks like Antutu or EEMBC or SPEC will tell you about power/perf under heavy utilization. But for a lot of us, the vast majority of the time our phone is sitting around "doing nothing" and burning power at some slow rate. And even when we're using one of these things, it's generally something not terribly heavy (music playback, reading the register). Yes, there are power hungry usecases like camera or gaming, but I'd be willing to bet these are far less than 10% of the total time your device is active.
Battery life is all about the integral, and the low-power idle modes dominate the time axis and ultimately the total consumption. So, is it possible that Intel has made a phone that has really really good idle power and some good power management even if they aren't that great when you want to do something heavier? Of course it is. In fact, if they are targeting the budget market, whiz-bang features can be less of a design focus which will give more opportunity for get the system power issues sorted out.
Re: Curriculum Vitae - must rage
nothing harsh here, this seems like basic solid advice.
I'd add something to the effect of: "don't be afraid to be a little different."
I'm thinking of one of the best interview candidates I've seen whose CV listed a BS in math from the 60's and a PhD in linguistics from the 90's and was interviewing for a driver SW development role. People who can shine in multiple fields are often very special. I've always been sad he didn't accept our offer.
Re: Snoden Phoey, NSA Bravo
are you twelve? Do you have any idea of the consequences of a radioactive disaster caused by sabotage in the middle east? Holy frickin' crap.
search as a gui replacement
Had the terrible experience the other day of trying to help an intern with Ubuntu 13 try to figure out how to mount a samba share. Everything is search driven and it sucks hard on several fronts. Hadn't really appreciated what people were hollering about until just now as "surely, search is a supplementary method to getting what you want."
First, stuff isn't where I can find it easily without search (control panels, menus, icons, whatever)
But the search results themselves are damn worthless (won't find the thing I want)
*and* the access is slow as sin.
So, no added ability to get things without knowing what/where they are already, and worse access speed, and you need to *guess* to find what you want. That said, the quality of web search has progressed enormously in the last decade, so the QoR and QoS will probably improve. Still, this really seems like it ought to be a supplementary, rather than a primary means of access to important system tools.
Re: double-wide spotlight
Drew, you're right that the double wide isn't bigger than the previous spotlight (it is much more distracting though). I think I was confused by a separate change(?) that seems to make the text width of replies excessively narrow. The text width on the initial posts is fine, but then you lose about an inch on the right hand side on the replies which is just weird.
howdy reg layout team, the double-wide spotlight (two icons/stories wide) is distracting, and it seems that the comment text is now significantly narrower, such that the thing I am interested in reading (comments) gets less than 50% of my browser real-estate on a not-particularly big laptop.
Would it be possible to return to single-wide spotlights and restore the width to the comment text?
Also, re the link arrows-- yes, I could click to see which post was replied to, but that's kind of distracting. It would be nice if either the alt-text showed username@time or I actually like what the Guardian has done in the last week where they have a subtle arrow along the top with a pointer to the name of the person replied to.
oh, and while I'm banging on. . . Any chance of a John McAffee icon? I'd propose this as a replacement for the black helicopters.
Re: There is a simple answer.
And yet the tech industry has one of the lowest disparities in wages based on gender. Care to try again?
And yet, the sentiment Jake expresses is basically the same thing as the people saying that computing requires "male brain" just with gender roles flipped. Somehow his backward ideas are drawing only opprobrium while the opposite sentiment seems to get 50/50 support.
Personally, I think all of this is utter crap-- years ago it was common knowledge that being a doctor required the "male brain" or being a scientist or a mathematician. Last I recall, the majority of doctors in the US are now women, and some fields of scientific study as well. There's no physiological reason women can't be great computer engineers and scientists, but the boys' club is alive and well.
From my time in grad school I clearly remember the comments when a woman walked around the electrical engineering labs ("Hah, she must be lost."). Some idiots may think that the rhyme about "sticks and stones" holds up, but I can attest that this sort of crap on a constant basis made a hard situation of being one of the few women in the program even more uncomfortable and isolating for several of my friends.
Or, the recent college recruitment effort I attended where one of the women in the audience asked an all-male panel if they worked with women in their teams and what our gender split was like. One of the engineers responded along the lines of "well, we're worse than your school because we don't have an arts department."
Words have power and there is all-too often little consideration given to what comes out the mouth and how it might make other people feel.
Say what? Let's say your team is happily working in a nice C89 environment, cranking out good code. Some function outside of you is going haywire. Now you've got to dive in. Turns out it's a C interface to a C++ monstrosity. Now it's your problem to figure out exactly what is going on.
Or, in a different situation, you get happy with some particular subset of C++, change jobs, and now you're working with a group of people who like some other subset. Hope you can figure out the mess right quick.
My point being that individual engineers don't get to choose how a massive language gets used. If you do work that has any potential to expose you to C++, all of the dark corners will present themselves as punishment unto you at some point through no fault of your own. And there isn't even consistent agreement about what parts of the language count as evil as far as I can see.
And no, I will *never* love c++. I'd rather save my cleverness for solving problems than fighting a language.
Re: Won't reach....
Sir, I read your carefully thought out analysis with great dismay. Applying mathematical analysis and reason to a problem that clearly calls for wild flights of fancy simply will not do. Sir, I am convinced that your missive will bring sorrow to the hearts of all true believers. What will be next, proving that Santa couldn't possibly fit toys for all 500 million of Earth's children into a small, reindeer drawn sleigh, let along cover the globe or solve the necessary travelling salesman problem? For shame.
Won't anyone think of the children?
(serious note: great post-- love that the reg attracts comments with great insight like this. Makes me think about the scheme in an entirely different light.)
only one explanation
There is only one man brave and, dare I say it, revolutionary enough to conceive such a splendid idea cutting through old fashioned concepts like evidence based policy in a single stroke. Steve Bong! So glad that he has taken the time out of his busy schedule to help make the world a better place.
Re: meanwhile in the texas desert @ac
I don't think my post had any typos, or are you just ragging on Yanks generally? You might want to seek some further education yourself, creating a false dichotomy between basic education and advanced research, as if those were the only two aspects of our society that relied on government funding. Personally, I'd rather see cuts start with the military and intelligence departments, but even that's a pretty sweeping generalization.
At any rate, I have a theory (well, actually, a baseless conjecture) about why big physics projects are vitally important to the future of humanity: they are there to keep the physicists safely entertained and distracted. We all remember what happened the last time the greatest physicists on the planet all got together and worked on something with concrete real-world consequences.
meanwhile in the texas desert
15 miles of special built tunnel are lying vacant.
Not sure I understand why making a brand new installation is better than reviving the SSC.
predictable result of NSF funding cuts?
“Further studies in this unique environment may enhance our understanding of collective motion in riots, protests, and panicked crowds"
Sure sounds like some clever researchers noticed that funding for traditional research is drying up and decided to find some applications for their modeling expertise that might have some application to the war against terror. Crowd control? Riot control? Stopping protests? I can see the thin line of drool emerging from the side of the DHS pay masters' mouths already.
Sad use of an education and fine minds, but it was ever thus. Just a change in emphasis from conventional to unconventional warfare.
amazed at the downvotes-- exactly what part of this is off-base? Even in the US, under the oh-my-god-amazing constitution, equal rights for blacks and women didn't come from thin-air, they were won through bloody struggle. As Frederick Douglass said, "Power never ceded anything without a demand."
Re: Dear me, Trevor, no
Indeed, who can forget timeless wisdom such as this:
"If an ox be a goring ox, and it shown that he is a gorer, and he do not bind his horns, or fasten the ox up, and the ox gore a free-born man and kill him, the owner shall pay one-half a mina in money."
But what was the real intent of the founders of the law? Were they talking about a literal ox, or should this rule cover forklifts as well?
drywall and phone rooms
dividing a big open space up a bit can make a huge difference in noise. Developers generally don't have a need to be on the phone, so you can help these problems a lot by having small, non-reservable conference rooms with good sound absorption. Encourage people to go to these rooms for calls by refusing to give people proper phones on their desks ("here's a usb headset with a busted mic and some terrible software that takes 10 minutes to startup") and generally giving them dirty looks. Use these rooms for any vociferous arguments. Stick the noisy departments like sales/marketing in their own area with some decent walls around it.
Re: We'll put Outlook on Windows RT slabs
speaking as a luser, there are a few good things about outlook:
1) my IT supports it and it comes on my machine ready to go so I can focus on my job rather than e-mail setup.
2) at most other companies, it will be the same, so there's no burden of learning new and different stuff
3) the integration with scheduling and contacts is very good (Outlooks meeting reminders are the main reason I remember anything that I schedule).
Now if only they had a decent mode for auto-marking stuff as read. Like one where as soon as you are on top of an e-mail it is marked read, rather than the 2 second minimum, or the one where you have to move off the e-mail. . .
Paris, because she probably knows more about e-mail setup than I do.
Re: Being an IT guy but not talking like one... &... The art of bluffing...
I agree with the OP, but have never found a need to lie. Best way to bluff is keeping your mouth shut, let the person who is talking about the thing you don't understand talk, listen, nod, and encourage them. Most people will assume you know what they do. If you get asked something outside your knowledge, just admitting you aren't an expert, but "think it works like this" or "but here's how I might approach it" can disarm a lot of problems up front. And better yet, "I'm not an expert on that, but Frank is. Frank, how's it work?" and then translating works wonders.
If you view your job as empowering the boss to make good decisions and get his/her shit delivered on time, a lot of good things fall out naturally. Understanding the business, having good general problem solving skills, and being able to explain tech to business and business to tech lets you be valuable even if the underlying tech is changing.
'tis an ill wind
I agree with your sentiment-- had a small fracture a few years back and the medical assistant who put on the cast was showing me all the cool new tech they had. He observed that every time there's a war medical technology gets a big bump.
On the other hand, I can see this tech making such a huge difference for people who've lost their limbs. The naturalness of the motion and the degree of control in the video are impressive-- not quite 100%, but this looks promising. It seemed to require a lot of concentration to operate the limb though, not sure why that would be.
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