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Linux x32 ABI Not Catching Wind

AReilly Re:Supplant 32-bit ABI (262 comments)

This.

With a slight caveat that in that last one percent is probably the use case of DOM inside a browser page looks sufficiently like an irreducible thicket of tiny objects, and still wants all the speed that it can get, which is why Google is pushing x32 for Chrome plugins. Maybe it helps a bit for Javascript compilation too.

At least if your x32 is (a) sandboxed in a browser process and (b) generated by a JIT then the library duplication badness should be negligible and the result mostly invisible to the user.

For my own code, I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. Storing pointers in memory? Madness...

about 9 months ago
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New Windows XP Zero-Day Under Attack

AReilly Re:Alternatives to Flash? (241 comments)

HTML5/WebGL/etc not doing it for you? They say it's all the rage.

Personally, I prefer X11R5 or DisplayPostscript, but these wheels have to be re-invented every so often, in case "round" stops being the right answer...

about 10 months ago
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Shuttleworth: Apple Will Merge Mac and iPhone

AReilly Re:Then make gestures with the keyboard (414 comments)

You've seen a lot of applications that work like that?

Sure it might be feasible. Might even happen, one day. Isn't the case now though, and I think that you're radically under-estimating the amount of re-work (basically re-design) that would be required to have fully-useful two-mode applications.

There are some, I suppose. Apple's got versions of Pages and their other iWork applications that run in desktop and tablet mode. So they're probably ahead of the game as far as useful convergence is concerned.

about a year ago
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Study Finds iOS Apps Just As Intrusive As Android Apps

AReilly Re: But unlike Android apps (107 comments)

Old school apps, the programs we used to run on PCs automatically had access to everything that the user who ran it had access to. And that didn't seem to be a problem. People would report "spyware" and programs that did badness would be shunned.

It seems that the fine grain permission protections of the mobile platforms have the inverse effect to the seeming intention: permission explicitly granted is exploited ruthlessly. And that seems to still be OK.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: Mac To Linux Return Flow?

AReilly Re:Windows 8 rocks (965 comments)

How can a task manager be "mind blowingly awesome"? Having to use a task manager at all is a fairly sure sign that things are not going well. That they've made that some sort of central feature is, IMO, a bit worrying.

Similarly: I've never used a platform other than windows where the act of copying or moving files around in the filesystem was so painful, or where there could be a reasonable cause to pretty up the dialog enough that you'd notice it. Everywhere else moves are normally instantaneous (unless to other filesystems) and copies are just copies. Yes, I am not a fan of MacOS asking whether you want to overwrite target files either: Unix had this right in the first place: unless it's locked down, in which case the action is failed, if I say I want to copy that over there, then that's what I want to happen. If I make a mistake I can jolly well recover from backup, or run around screaming.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Mac To Linux Return Flow?

AReilly Re:What doesn't work? (965 comments)

I switched to MacOS from FreeBSD a few years ago because using appropriate proprietary graphics drivers weren't an issue (and always will be an issue on FreeBSD, as far as I can see), and because I wanted to use Lightroom for my photography hobby. That's all, but they're two things that I can't see changing any time soon. Switching to windows wouldn't have worked, because although I want those two specific features, I don't want to lose my comfy BSD/Posix command line environment. The windows command line experience has been astonishingly awful for its entire existence, so it is not something I can expect to change any time soon. I don't think that Ubuntu is in a measurably different position to FreeBSD in this.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Mac To Linux Return Flow?

AReilly Re:Could you tell me more about the iOS-ification? (965 comments)

Most of the whinging seems to centre around the existence of an app-store (which, as someone who uses FreeBSD ports and apt-get on a regular basis is simply a good idea, not something to be afraid of) and the (optional) removal of permanently-visible scroll-bars in favour of multi-touch swiping on the track-pad (or mouse-wheel, I suppose.) I count both of them improvements, but clearly tastes differ.

Real iOS-ification would be sandboxing applications so that they can't operate on arbitrary files in the file system, and removal of access to said file-system. I can't really see either of those happening.

Personally, I can see where the tea-leaves are pointing, and am in the progress of moving all of my daily activity into a personal "cloud" hosted on my own FreeBSD box. Then I can use osx or android or whatever has the good proprietary graphics stack at the time and just get on with it.

about a year and a half ago
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Why Can't Intel Kill x86?

AReilly Re:Intel always rules high performance computing (605 comments)

I think that you'll find that a fair chunk of the top-end of the top500 (and the graph500) are IBM Blue-something systems that run variants of Power. These are essentially descendants of the PowerPC440 series of embedded processors: not terribly fierce on their own, but have a significant advantage for this sort of work: they don't consume much power. So you can run a *lot* of them with a limited power budget. Much like ARM, which is why several folk, including AMD, are lining up to do server versions of AArch64.

Which is why Facebook and others have created the Open Server Aliance, and why Intel, AMD and ARM are all members, and are all producing CPU+memory modules to suit that space.

Low power devices are the present and the future, even if you need the power supply of a medium-sized town to run the data-centre.

about a year and a half ago
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Nikon Buckles To Microsoft, Will Pay "Android Tax" For Smart Cameras

AReilly Re:Isn't it time to trim FAT? (272 comments)

The patents and the compatibility in question relate specifically to the way Microsoft encoded the long-file-name compatibility, and the short-form-contraction extensions into the FAT directory structure. It's an ugly hack that no-one with skill in the art would think of doing, so it's a legitimate patent. I don't know why camera makers don't just limit themselves to the 8.3 filename space and avoid even dealing with long file names: every camera I know of seems to work like that anyway.

The primary work-around du-jour (and it's a good one) is USB-PTP protocol (and variants) that avoid the question by not exposing the block device structure at all: operate more like a network file system. Makes perfect sense. This is why lots of mobile devices don't have SD card slots. Add an SD card slot and you have to support FAT or exFAT. Leave the slot out and you can run ext2 or whatever on your internal flash drive, and expose files to the external world over wifi or USB-PTP.

Since the controllers in SD cards are computers too, it would probably be feasible to build some sort of SD card variant that spoke PTP directly, but how likely is that?

about a year and a half ago
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Tizen 2.0 Magnolia SDK and Source Code Released

AReilly Native framework not-quite-C++ yay. (37 comments)

I read a little of the on-line doco, and noticed that the "native development" system supports C++ but not exceptions. So two-phase object initialisation is a requirement and try/except is out, and a bunch of standard APIs can't be used. There was also something about restrictions on C use, should you prefer that, but also missing some standard library functions. That's not too surprising, but I suspect that the C++ restriction is going to make porting code from existing sources painful. I dimly remember C++ under Symbian being odd, for similar reasons. Maybe for exactly the same reasons and with the same heritage?

about a year and a half ago
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Why Hasn't 3D Taken Off For the Web?

AReilly Re:Underlying structure versus pretty pictures. (320 comments)

NeXT wasn't the only, or even the first OS that had vector graphics baked in at a low level. Acorn's RiscOS was all vector graphics and scalable, anti-aliased fonts from the late '80s on, on a 4MHz processor that had no cache and a dumb frame buffer in bandwidth-sucking "shared DRAM". True, it didn't have much in the way of actual resolution either, but it did work very well. Performance of the vector drawing primitives was never a big issue. That was a machine that was in the same ballpark as the IBM PC-XT (which was a contemporary), price-wise.

about a year and a half ago
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Tablet Shipments Will Finally Overtake Notebooks In 2013

AReilly Re:I can see it. (66 comments)

That's not it at all: tablets are now (or will be soon) just "screens": no different from the one in your lounge room or on front of the fridge. The circuits are just moving around a bit. If you want to *do* something with it, you'll be able to use that box with the hard drives and the peripherals sitting in the corner of your office just as easily as you can now, or you can rent space on someone's cloud server, if you prefer.

Don't think of it as losing your PC. It's more the case that your laptop/desktop monitor can still do a range of useful things after the "PC" has been powered down. There are already plenty of manufacturers who have the clue, and are selling WiFi enabled network hard drives: "personal cloud" systems.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Current State of Linux Email Clients?

AReilly Re:Why do we need a desktop client? (464 comments)

No, Outlook with Exchange is terrible on many levels. Probably Exchange's fault, and the fact that it doesn't use IMAP. Every time I have to fire the beast up for some reason, it takes more than half an hour to "synch" to my mailbox. How is that even possible over gigabit ethernet? Why, every time? Does it forget everything it ever synched the last time? Rubbish.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Current State of Linux Email Clients?

AReilly Re:Why do we need a desktop client? (464 comments)

Non-braindamaged message composition, sane integration with the rest of the native applications that I use, off-line access, seamless integration of multiple accounts and, oh, speed. Built-in searching, and integration with the platform's native searching are bonuses. Oh, and not being in a web browser.

BTW: Mail.app has some faults, but as an IMAP client (with dovecot back-end) I've met nothing that comes close. (OK, claws-mail is fairly close, but lack of html/rich-text composition is limiting in some contexts.) I would *love* to have something as good as Mail.app on Linux/FreeBSD.

about 2 years ago
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World's Most Powerful x86 Supercomputer Boots Up in Germany

AReilly Re:That Clock Speed Sucks (151 comments)

Limiting factor these days is how much power you can get in and out of the box. They will have optimized for that. And these processors probably do have GPUs on them.

more than 2 years ago
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Hobbit Film Underwhelms At 48 Frames Per Second

AReilly Re:Can You SHow Me (607 comments)

"Films" (at least the big-budget, blockbuster ones) haven't been recorded on "film" for years. Everything is video. Not VHS video, but electronic. That's one of the reasons why Kodak is out of business. Certainly some smaller film companies are probably still using actual film, but it's not mainstream. I haven't checked but I would be *very* surprised if any film stock was harmed in the making of the Hobbit.

This 48 Hz issue is a different problem.

more than 2 years ago
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Who Is Your Favorite Fictional Robot or Android?

AReilly Re:How could they missed (608 comments)

Yeah, I'd have voted for R. Raneel Olivaw, but settled for Bishop.

Controversial missing option: Deckard?

more than 2 years ago
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Why Distributing Music As 24-bit/192kHz Downloads Is Pointless

AReilly Re:16 bits isn't enough dyanamic range, sort of. (841 comments)

"That quantization can be heard."
Only if you go and turn the volume up at that point, so that those quiet pieces are loud. (And that's why you want a larger bit-depth while recording and mixing, because mixing some parts up is something that you're doing.) If you don't go and fiddle with the volume knob, then you're competing against the noise floor of the listening environment. Even the quietest suburban listening rooms+hi-fi kit only have 85-or so dB peak-to-noise range, so the 16-bit CD's 120-ish floor is plenty.

more than 2 years ago
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Fedora Aims To Simplify Linux Filesystem

AReilly Re:When do we get compression? (803 comments)

There is essentially no virtue in a compressed filesystem because there is essentially no compressible data on a modern file system. The bulk of user data these days (by volume) is already compressed, as JPEG images or MPEG sound files, or similar. A very few people or situations will have a fair chunk of information in the form of documents and guess what: the modern forms of those are already compressed too (zipped XML is the new doc.)

The pieces of data that people will complain about, executables and libraries, aren't particularly compressible either, and are not useful in compressed form because the modern operating systems that execute them operate by demand paging. Everything else (directory structure, control files) is in the noise, and arguably much better off uncompressed for efficiency of access.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Self-Hosted Gmail Alternatives?

AReilly Re:Why so much opposition? (554 comments)

I'd say that it's mostly disillusionment. You're right: it's not that hard in essence, but in the modern age of spam the effort required to stay clean is (IMO) non-trivial, and things can get very ugly very quickly. (Ugly in terms of bounce loops and bounce spam and various spools filling up.)

I gave up, but haven't switched to gmail (yet). I just turned off my external SMTP service, and now configure all of my MUAs to SMTP directly to the upstream server of the account I'm responding as. Most can handle that, and it still lets me run a unified IMAP server, which I love, but avoids all of the pain of black-lists and most of the pain of spam. Still run a local spool, because my ISP's mail is only POP, so I fetchmail from there.

So: the OP can probably get most of what he wants with an IMAP server (dovecot) and a web-mail front-end (maybe roundcube? I just read about it here.) Let the big ISP's mail spool handle MX and most of the spam filtering...

more than 3 years ago

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