* Posts by lyngvi

17 posts • joined 18 Aug 2009

COLD BALLS OF FLAME light up International Space Station


Spherically symmetric

The phrase is "spherically symmetric" or "isotropic". "Spherically one-dimensional" sounds like a misguided PR attempt at simplifying an already simple concept while still sounding sciency.

UN to call for 'pre-emptive' ban on soulless robot bomber assassins


[quote]Picture this dystopian scenario. A ... jet aeroplane takes off on a bombing mission. ... [O]nce the jet is in the air there's no way for human commanders to communicate with it.

The jet flies along at high speed for hours, hugging the ground and weaving through valleys to avoid being picked up on radar. It navigates using various different means. ...

The jet completes its journey and decides without any [external] human input at all whether it has in fact found its designated target. Assuming the [pilot] decides affirmatively, a massive warhead plummets out of the sky on that spot and colossal explosive destruction is unleashed.[/quote]

That's the plot of Dr. Strangelove. The key problem there is that the plane was launched at all. I don't really see how replacing the pilots with robots in that movie would change the storyline.

You could also take the reductio: ICBMs cannot be retracted once fired. Nor, in fact, can bullets. Or arrows. Or a thrown stone. Clearly, a ban on stone-throwing is called for. Monkeys at the zoo will be tried for war crimes post-haste.

Military tech is all about search and destroy. The frightening aspect of military automation is the "search" part, not the "destroy" part. Automatic targeting and decision making, such as is needed by the automatic turrets I've heard rumored to be deployed on the N/S Korean border, are far more terrifying than missile systems honing in on pre-selected targets. I question whether the UN discussion might dwell more on systems which perform automatic target selection, rather than systems merely capable of target tracking.

Stephen Hawking pushes for posthumous pardon for Alan Turing


Pardon != assertion of innocence

Since when does a person need to be thought innocent to be granted a pardon?

Perhaps things are different here in the States; here, the ability to grant pardons is a privilege of our elected executives. Pardons declare the offender forgiven, not innocent. Courts decide guilt and innocence, not legislators/MPs or executives/PMs.

I'd put good money on history proving McNally to be full of shit regarding the policies on pardons.

Alcohol DOUBLES LIFESPAN, helps resist stress


Cadence: Please read the article before posting.

Let's not feed the troll...


because 5% ABV is a "strong" beer?

As a yank, on my first trip to the UK I was quite excited to try a few English brews that'd been so harped on about. In the pubs I visited, the tap labels would include the ABV - very informative. After three or four pubs, the strongest drink I'd seen on tap? Budweiser, at 5%. Typical ABV's ranged from 3% - 4.5% (higher end for stronger ciders). Talk about disappointment.

A typical decent beer in the US usually has about 5-8% ABV. The < 5% range is dominated by dinner-in-a-bottle porters and Sam Adams Lager. Budweiser, with Miller and Coors, are the crappy beers we export - American mass marketing at its finest. Most of our good beers are seldom exported out of the state, even more rarely out of the general region. The best I've had came from Washington and Oregon, but have had some good brews in various parts of New England as well. I'm not so well-traveled as to be able to speak much for other states.

If you can recommend me to some decent, common beers at greater than the piddling 5% ABV of the piss we export, I'm all ears - I'm likely to end up in Southampton again in the not-too-distant future. (I'm partial to ales, particularly IPAs, but will try anything once.)

Profs call for harsh taxes on sweet carbonated beverages


high fructose corn syrup...

The reason the US uses high fructose corn syrup is b/c it is cheaper, in the US, than sugar.

The reason it is cheaper than sugar is our large tax subsidies for corn.

The reason we need to subsidize corn is because sugar is because, otherwise, it is non-competitive with sugar imported from central America.

It is non-competitive with central American sugar because labor in central America is dirt cheap and they aren't inconvenienced by our environmental regulations (drinking water tastes better well-fertilized, after all.)

The normal solution to this would be to apply tariffs to central American sugar, but we can't do that b/c it would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

I would assert that perhaps, instead of taxing soda extra, we could just, and I know this sounds crazy, but: We could just *not* subsidize it. But that would require a large chain of policy changes that are just infeasible: Anyone who doesn't like NAFTA is a crazy hippie socialist, and anyone who wants to lift corn subsidies hates the American people. (Though I find it hilarious that I've found a way to blame a portion of the US obesity epidemic on NAFTA...)

Enjoy that soda, Pirate Dave. We're all paying good money to ensure that it's as cheap as it is.

Senators: Globo-domains could mean consumer chaos


.cmo, .ent, .ogr taken yet?

Any domain on one of those TLDs will make bank.

Particularly if they dress it up like the real thing and use it as a man in the middle. I could see amazon.cmo just raking it in....

Are there any provisions beyond "relatively easy" trademark protection to handle the damages from that kind of abuse? That kind of site need only run for a few days to allow its authors to retire.

Sutter: C++11 kicks old-school coding into 21st century



Yes, yes. The only time I've ever used the volatile keyword is for flat integer variables, in conjunction with InterlockedIncrement/Decrement calls or __sync_fetch_and_*. These generate full memory barriers on Intel systems, can't speak for other archs. So far as I'm aware, they're also the basis for most locking primitives (eg CRITICAL_SECTION, pthread_mutex, etc) on the above.

But my question was not "How do I correctly write threading primitives in C++", it was "How is the C++11 memory model similar to Java's and different from the existing C++ model?" I'm not even quite clear on what is meant by 'memory model' in this context (describing "allocate whatever memory you need and clean up after yourself" as a "memory model" sounds rather self-congratulatory)... Maybe I'll just have to read the spec.


uh... details?

Kind of lacking in detail here. I'm going to latch onto the one talking point I did see mentioned:

"One of the biggest changes in the spec helps make C++ a little more Java-ier: the introduction of a standardised multi-core-friendly memory model that Java has had since 2005."

I've found C++'s legacy memory model perfectly amenable to multi-core systems, so long as volatile variables are declared volatile, variables are shielded correctly by critical sections (locks), etc. What is different about C++11's memory model, how does it avoid breaking existing C++ code, and why should I want it instead of what I know works (however clumsy the syntax may be)? What makes it like Java's, and what makes its (or Java's) merits superior?

Videogames give kids the munchies

Dead Vulture

spin spin spin

Seriously? The only two groups tested were video gamers and people resting?

What about

- Reading a novel: Sedentary, moderate mental involvement, may elevate blood pressure at exciting points

- Watching an action movie: Sedentary, little mental strain, elevated blood pressure?

- Coding or writing: High mental involvement, low blood pressure elevation

You would think at least a couple of other activities would be addressed. Resting versus video games? And a delta of 80 kcal? I'm leary of whether that's even statistically significant - is that what, four bites of spaghetti?

Either this article failed to explain the study thoroughly, or it failed to give the study the lambasting it deserved. El Reg should better than to parrot this sensationalist tripe.

US gov 'transparency' websites targeted for big, fat budget cuts



18 million dollars at an off-the-cuff estimate of $100k/person (trained personnel, retirement/benefits, office space, etc) =~ max 180 person staff, being cut to a max 20 person staff. This isn't Facebook; US federal agencies aren't fighting to publish information about themselves and their latest exploits. I'd wager most of the non-support non-mgmt staff is involved in pulling data for the site, which I'd expect is about as easy as pulling teeth from a great cat. It is government, so it is likely middle-heavy, but I doubt it can afford a 90% cut and still do anything but maintain what data it already has...

HTML 5 is no Flash or Silverlight killer — yet


html 5 video fail...

"Let's make a standard video tag! Oh, but we don't need a minimal support requirement."

Typical W3C blunder. There's no reason to use the video tag if you *still* need browser-detect logic to make the fucking thing work. So yeah, HTML5 killing Flash or Silverlight? *Not likely.*

Government unbans dirty vids but bans 'legal highs'


we don't have a bunch of tossers...?

John, you already have at least a city/county government, a state government, *and* the federal government making laws for you. There are also many, many times where the federal government itself could accurately be described as a "bunch of tossers bullying us around and making us remove our own laws from our books". See the California cannabis battle if you need a good example.

I'm not sure if we have more or less legislating bodies over us than any given citizen in England, but the idea that here in the states can write our own laws with impunity is absurd.

- another US citizen.

US Navy aims to make jetfuel from seawater uranium


percentages with no reference...

"But Dorner and his colleagues have managed to get the amount of methane produced down to 30 per cent or so, using special catalysts. The "sea water" bit comes from the fact that Dorner has also noted that there's a fair bit of CO2 in sea water, plus hydrogen too if you have even more energy to crack water molecules apart."

30 per cent of what? Hitting the vampire-lust novels a bit hard, are we?

Intel's consumer-friendly Nehalem chips arrive early?


desktops ftw

Still using a desktop here. I don't really see desktops as that great for Joe User anymore. But having multiple large screens, a RAID-1 array to protect against hard disk failure, and being able to operate multiple VMs simultaneously are helpful features for some of us. Good luck finding a laptop under 5 grand and 5 kilos that'll do that for you.

When ISPs hijack your rights to NXDOMAIN


it's not the browsers, it's the DNS

The issue is *not* with browsers pulling ads out of the void. The problem is that people should be able to, and do, rely on NXDOMAIN. It can make determining the causes of network failures *much* easier. And of course there are already the stories of database corruption based on loading bad data from domains that previously bailed with nx.

Oh, and while they're at it, are they spoofing an SPF record too? Spammers would be very interested in this - you could wipe out SPF with a few careless strokes, though the big mail providers would likely find a way to opt out. I'd be curious to hear what someone's results are for a TXT record on a fake domain. Verizon is still honoring NXDOMAIN for me.

But hey, I'd gladly write you a browser plugin that not only would replace nxdomain, but would also replace all HTTP 4*, 5*, 3*, and hell, even 2* error codes with ad search pages. I mean, who cares about all those pesky error codes? HTTP, DNS, what's the difference, right?

Microsoft recants branding excess with model merger


marketing non-products

Same problem here as Henry. After reading this I am no more the wiser as to what Oslo is or could be, if anything. There's a large blob of buzzphrases in the middle of it (refering to ADO.NET et al). I've seen ADO.NET used for SQL queries and pretty, if rather rigid, tables, and XML has its obvious use as a data interchange format; neither of these are real applications in themselves.

.NET suffered the same PR problem when it was released, because it doesn't do anything by itself - but it does provide an excellent application development framework. Is Oslo another one? Do we really need another one? What are the potential or real applications of Oslo? What, in fact, is it? The article seemed to imply it might be some kind of programming language, but it buzzes too loudly to be penetrable.


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