354 posts • joined Monday 14th May 2007 13:16 GMT
Re: A question for rocket scientists on El Reg...
Because making rockets is hard to do in any age, We understand the physics, but making the many components all work together properly so the rocket flies is hard.
The same goes for making atom bombs. That's why I'm not unduly worried about Iran's programme.
Mosaic *was* the killer app for the WWW. Running on SunOS with X and a colour monitor, all the ingredients for the modern browser were there:
- Text and Images displayed together for a page
- Coloured highlighting of hyperlinks
- Forward and backward buttons, for a good sesh browsing the web
- Rendered presentation of other protocols (ftp, gopher and IIRC news)
Lynx allowed you to read from the web, but Mosaic allowed you to browse.
Its accompanying page "What's new with NCSA Mosaic" was the de facto chronicle of the expansion of the WWW over its first few years. Heady times, and the importance of NCSA in building on Cern's work was pivotal: Mosaic on the client side, NCSA server, and "What's New" in disseminating information.
Re: Who mentioned solar? A knob, that's who.
Wind turbines are pretty good at reducing chronic CO2 emissions, they're just rubbish at providing reliable power exactly when needed: they should be built and operated, but kept outside the "generating capacity" figures, as they can't be relied on.
Still, if the problem is with peak demands then surely there is scope for demand management? For decades the very biggest energy users (such as the steel and aluminium industries) have had load-shedding arrangements. Surely this could be run back into medium sized users, even if it won't work for domestic users? But even in a domestic setting, if you could incentivise people to put their washing and tumble driers on overnight instead of at 6pm, you'd be a lot of the way there.
Because you can. That is all.
That's one of the most saddening articles I've read in a long time, because I think the analysis may well be right.
Beer can shares
In some states there is a 5c deposit on beer sold in aluminium cans. In the dotcom bubble there were beer can shares: if you'd "invested" in canned beer with 5c deposit per can instead of shares, the returned deposit would have been worth more than the shares 12 months later.
I predict that over 12-24 months, Facebook will be a beer can investment.
Running a museum is a long term project which needs a lot of planning and fund raising and all that. The focus of very specific campaign was to prevent the historic site coming to market and being flogged off to the highest bidder for redevelopment. For this limited objective, it is very much Mission Accomplished.
It is, in the very truest sense, a Land Grab.
The tyranny of "Every little helps"
I wholly agree with Lewis. Trying to modify human behaviour to make an insignificant difference in overall consumption is counter-productive. Basing that on shoddy fieldwork is inexcusable.
It's the same with plastic carrier bags: they get all over the place and cause harm to wildlife, but in terms of the mass of stuff in a family dustbin they are negligible - it probably takes as much material and energy to produce 100 carrier bags as one free MacDonalds toy with a happy meal.
And as for mercury filled energy saving lightbulbs, the whole case for them is based on the heat being wasted: whereas for much of the year in Northern Europe the energy will be consumed in your central heating boiler rather than the lightbulb.
Methinks the whole appliance-on-standby conceit was constructed as a straw man by the energy companies---by focussing attention there, people's energy consumption in other areas continues unabated, ensuring their profits.
The intention of legislation
The purpose, or the intention of legislation, or the assurances of the lawmakers count for naught. The *only* thing that matters is what the legislation itself says. If it permits something undesirable, it should be changed before it reaches the statute book.
It was not the intention of RIPA to allow councils to tag individuals applying for school places. Jack Straw said "it is not our intention to ..." lots of times during its passage.
Re: This is what happens when you focus on being big instead of good
I had a brilliant HP calculator when I was at university in the 1980s. I once dropped it while crossing the road and it was run over by a car - the only sign was a small crack in one corner of the case. And although they were presumably completely separate businesses, having the Hewlett Packard name on top quality laboratory and medical instruments was fantastic for the brand: there would be a rush to bags the HP oscilloscope for practical sessions.
A very different HP to today's.
Can we please shun the term "IP"?
Call me a Stallmanite grouch, but I still find the term "IP" unhelpful, preferring the more specific terms: patents; trademarks; copyrights; trade secrets.
This story is about patents and patent applications.
So is it like this?
So does it work like this?
a) There are loads of naturally occurring bacteria, some of which are susceptible to antibiotics, others are resistant
b) These bacteria have reproduced for millennia, using humans and other species as breeding grounds
c) The antibiotic susceptible ones have been by far the more widespread, outcompeting the resistant ones
d) 70 years ago we waded in with antibiotics, and started hitting out at the susceptible ones in their key breeding grounds (firstly humans, then other species)
e) The anti-biotic resistant ones have found their competitors' population falling, and have started to spread out into the extra space.
They've stated that PoE is on the wish list for later models, if it can be provided at the right price.
Let's hope the frogmen don't run into any escaped crocodiles.
Thou shalt not put the Lord to the test
Of course, it was the Lord who created double blind testing, so He can present whatever results He chooseth. Experience shows that He's not going to give short cuts which remove the need for faith. http://goo.gl/Sxb0G
Gartner Adoption Curves
If you think about it, the dollar value of Bitcoins has almost exactly followed the Gartner Hype cycle, and it's now in the "trough of disillusionment". ( http://goo.gl/4Bxvp ).
What will be interesting is whether, as with many technologies, it disappears at this part of the cycle, or whether it finds its way to a plateau of productivity as a niche form of tokens for exchange.
Beating up on them
Yes we absolutely *should* beat up on them for believing it was real. It's not the job of journalists to tell us what might fit with our pre-conceptions, it's their job to evaluate material, check and verify on it, and then create a story from it. ANY study from a non-mainstream research organisation should be scrutinised before publication, not just slapped into an article and pushed out willy nilly.
"News stories" come primarily from two sources: news wire services (PA, AP, Reuters) and PR. Very few organisations can afford to do original reporting, or even bother to check the stuff they are fed. They are either rushing to be the first to carry the story, or saying "it's been put out by X so that's my independent verification".
It's simpler to always assume that a research organisation you haven't heard of before is a PR outfit, and their "studies" are worthless. Makes reading newspapers much quicker too, as you read a couple of lines of each article and think "newswire, newswire, PR, newswire, PR...".
The days of true investigative reporting are, alas, over.
Nothing to see here
A service in the very early stages of field trials had a fault, the fault was fixed. The end.
29th June Oracle Reply
I would encourage you to read the submission Oracle sent on June 29th, references in TPM's article. It is the first time I've read a legal submission which is laugh out loud funny - got some strange looks from my colleagues in the office, mind, when I told them what I was reading.
In particular, their use of "partnership" in inverted commas brings to mind Dr Evil and the "Laser". I have no idea of the legal merits of their submission, but as knockabout stuff it is top notch.
I would imagine that there were unwritten "don't ask, don't tell" codes of practice whose purpose was to allow plausible deniability when asked "did you know". I expect the honest answer to that question will be "I made sure that I didn't know, so I could answer that question in the negative".
If Coulson and Brooks deliberately established or continued practices which knowingly kept them uninformed of wrongdoing then, well, they are implicitly complicit. Once this all starts being examined in detail under oath, I would expect the other papers will be in much the same position.
My hope for the outcome from this affair is that in future the GBPublic, as they read stories in the rags, will ask themselves "how did the reporters find this out?"
And that, boys and girls, is why you should use a long password. Modern GPUs can calculate hashes at an extraordinary rate, making brute force attacks on 6, 7 and even 8 character passwords eminently doable.
Given the right social context people will become complicit with activities which, to an external observer, are clearly immoral. Milgram showed this in the 1960s, and it has ever been true.
This is why the editorial team are responsible: they set the context in which the perpetrators of this despicable deed acted, and copy writers didn't shun the material.
As for exhorting people to stop buying NoTW, save your breath. We have the press we deserve. Depressing, isn't it?
In the cinema
And for those who live in the Midlands and want the full cinema experience, it is showing at Warwick Arts Centre on the 18th and 19th of August - I expect the remastered version will pop up in arts house cinema across the country.
Bitcoin != MtGox
When you trade on Mt Gox they are acting as your stakeholder. Transactions in the Bitcoin block chain are irreversible, trades on Mt Gox don't enter the block chain until the Bitcoins are withdrawn - until then they are just entries in Mt Gox's ledger.
If someone bough a bunch of coins while the price was through the floor and then withdrew them before Mt Gox was suspended, then presumably Mt Gox will be left holding the loss.
MtGox != Bitcoin
The currency wasn't compromised, but the most widely used exchange was. The integrity of the block chain was not compromised. Indeed, the conversion rates at other exchanges stayed pretty much unchanged.
Mt Gox is not a financial grade conversion facility, and the willingness of people to entrust large sums of money to an "exchange" about which so little is known is testament to people's stupidity (and greed). At the same time, the bitcoin block chain will keep running onwards, an interesting little backwater, where both techies and ne'er-do-wells have entries in a fascinating peer-to-peer replicated ledger, whose entries are secured with strong encryption.
This episode may well be the beginning of the end of Mt Gox, but Mt Gox != Bitcoin
The dilemma for HP-UX shops.
The dilemma for HP-UX shops is this:
a) Keep HP-UX as your mission critical platform, risking early obsolescence for what should be the most long-lived systems and applications
b) Form a contingency plan. In which case Larry wins
In the midst of this awesome gladiatorial struggle between two titans, the livelihoods of thousands of honest decent IT professionals are "collateral damage". And this is saddening.
Ponzi Scheme or intangible commodity
Well, Bitcoins have some immutable characteristics. They are (to current analysis) secure and cannot be destroyed as long as the block chain exists. The block chain is intrinsically distributed and unlikely to fork. And they have value in the same way that much of the financial system has value---because people ascribe value to them (usually referred to as "confidence").
Their value as a pseudo-currency today is limited while the value against legal currency is so volatile. This volatility will continue as waves of people discover them (and as new, more user friendly interfaces are developed), and at that level it's like a Ponzi scheme. But it's certainly possible to imagine scenarios where they become the reserve commodity behind subsidiary e-currencies. And it is the lack of regulation and the ability to regulate which is so interesting: the only regulation possible is proscription, which would result in a fascinating game of cat and mouse with law enforcement.
While it may be a worthless bubble, if someone creates a trusted web friendly method of wallet management, and bases it somewhere so that exchange can be via conventional means (avoiding the Virwox shuffle via Linden Dollars^H^H^H^H^H^H^HGame Tokens) then the bubble has a lot of expansion space yet, because at the moment you still have to have a degree of technical savvy to get into bitcoins at all.
The single outstanding feature of applications deployed to SPARC/Solaris is their longevity. Time and again, the only thing which is driving migration is the impending withdrawal of hardware support. This never seems to be the case with either Windows or GNU/Linux. Why is that?
While the users are humans rather than applications, this is just like changing an API: something you previously did has a different consequence
Usually a change in API is publicised well in advance, and accompanied by Release Notes. Given that FB are positioning themselves as a general provider of online identity services, they need to start taking APIs seriously, whether used by software or humans.
Seems ironic that they are moving into the buildings vacated by Sun in Menlo Park - Sun's Binary Compatibility Guarantee (maintained under Oracle) is the gold standard of stability for user software APIs.
While most of the non-Linux packages will be unchanged apart from rebranding, Oracle have done a lot of work on the kernel primarily, as has been written above, to make Oracle database and application software work better.
At the moment this is a simple fork. In time, of course, merging their changes and the linux.org ones will become an interesting knife and fork task. Whether they have been able to allocate some of the Solaris kernel developers to work on Unbreakable Linux, or whether the skills aren't transferable I would be interested to learn.
Overpaid Database Guru
It doesn't take an overpaid database guru to put your list into Access, and create queries which filter and sort columns. And it's much harder to do something stupid.
"The Power of Excel"
My problem is precisely with the power of Excel: it gets used for complex data manipulation tasks without any proper software process and testing regimen - for example, out of range and invalid data values; data entered beyond the input areas; etc.
While the organisation you run sounds as if it programmes in Excel properly, this is rarely the case. And while it's not Excel's fault that people create rubbish and feebly tested applications atop its framework, it makes very bad software development practice very easy, and hence the norm.
Tried and Tested????
Excel itself is tried and tested, and has very few bugs.
But the user created functional parts in an Excel based application are usually hideously bug ridden, undocumented and unscaleable. Excel's strength is also the biggest problem: All in one place you have data entry, the data repository, all the functional logic and the output presentation. If a major spreadsheet is treated like proper software development, and subject to verifiable and repeatable unit and integration testing then it will function well.
If, however, you hire an individual Excel jockey and set her/him to work with no functional specification, or data schema, then you will likely get something where you simply don't know if the output is right or wrong.
The problem isn't with Excel per se, it's with the lack of validation and control around the development of complex software within the Excel framework.
"Don't Build against the kernel"
I totally agree: stuff should use user level API wherever possible.
But in many contexts there *will* be stuff linked into the kernel: it may be a specialist bit of hardware with a compiled driver, or a proprietary shim twixt system and some bit of storage without which the rig is "unsupported", or a HSM which presents as a filesystem - in all these cases, you have to specify an exact kernel version, you can't say "Solaris 10 running at patch level x or later".
We can have a discussion about whether we should be linking compiled proprietary software into the Linux kernel, but GNU/Linux has been positioned as an enterprise class datacentre operating environment. The unices which it is displacing have much more stable kernel APIs.
Underlines Linux Kernel API Instability
In many spheres of software endeavour, major version changes *are* significant, because they represent a compatibility discontinuity. I have a lot of experience with Solaris: the SunOS 5.10 kernel released in 2005 is compatible with the 5.10 kernel in the current production Solaris 10. Stuff which linked into the kernel in 2005 is guaranteed to still link in now (though a load of additional kernel API has been added with additional feature goodness, while retaining the original kernel API unchanged).
By contrast, the Linux kernel API changes every six months or so. So there is no need to reserve a major version rollover for something which breaks compatibility: such a break happens frequently. Therefore a major version change can be made according to whim, rather than marking a discontinuity.
Depth of choice
In many ways, virtualisation in the x86 market is becoming commoditised. We have Amazon EC2 based on Xen - though for most punters that doesn't matter: it's just a bunch of x86 capacity at the end of a bit of wire. Oracle are also backing Xen with OVM. We have Microsoft lining up a range of vendors behind Hyper-v cloud, with the basic Hyper-v offering being free (gratis), and a public cloud offering (Azure) which again is a bunch of x86 capacity at the end of a bit of wire.
Red Hat may be keen to build up an ecosystem behind KVM, but we're past the point where the virtualisation engine is a differentiator: it is the overall experience which matters.
Reminds me of Sun kit around year 2000
I remember a spate of similar thefts of Sun kit around the year 2000. The wrong-uns would steal the processor/memory and I/O boards from running E3500/4500/6500 systems - as there were no machine readable serial numbers inside, they could be used in any unpopulated system chassis. I'm guessing there were plenty of empty base units sold in the target territories. The advanced version, used in one particularly large heist, was to leave just enough hardware that the system would reboot and come up, but with little capacity.
I'd be interested to know the make and generation of kit which disappeared here. Still, I supposed it makes a change from the trains being late because the copper in the signalling system was stolen.
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