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Will Fiber-To-the-Home Create a New Digital Divide?

Carnildo Re:Spoiled much? (291 comments)

You make a good case for increasing upload bandwidth, but other than WAN recovery (a full restore of a 1TB disk will take 18 days), none of those requires better than a 6.5Mbit symmetric connection.

about a week ago

Lead Mir Developer: 'Mir More Relevant Than Wayland In Two Years'

Carnildo Re:I still don't see what's wrong with X (226 comments)

X is optimized for programs that use a small number of colors to draw an effectively vector-based user interface on a raster display. It is very, very good at that, and provides a powerful range of tools for the job.

Most programs use color-rich bitmap-based user interfaces. Doing this with core X functionality is painfully slow and difficult (think tens of seconds to draw a 800x600 JPEG), so everyone uses protocol extensions for this. Wayland is designed around bitmap-based drawing at the core.

about two weeks ago

User Error Is the Primary Weak Point In Tor

Carnildo Re:Not all user error is equal? (70 comments)

But can't we cheer a little that some bad guys went down?

How much collateral damage was there?

When Freedom Hosting was busted, they took down a bunch of child-porn sites and de-anonymized some of the users. But in the process, they also took down TorMail, a legal anonymous email provider, and de-anonymized some of its users.

Sure, punishing guilty people is fine, but not if you punish innocent people in the process.

about a month ago

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power

Carnildo Re:Survival (488 comments)

The problem is size. Pumped-storage hydropower can store about 2.5 watt-hours of electricity per metric ton of water per meter of drop. An average two-story house could store maybe 10 KWH if the entire attic and basement were devoted to water storage, and the building would need to be reinforced to handle the 400 metric tons of water involved.

Pumped storage really only makes sense on a large scale, when you've got a couple of valleys you can dam, and a fair-sized height difference between them.

about a month ago

Washington DC To Return To Automatic Metro Trains

Carnildo Re:When I lived in Japan and rode trains every day (179 comments)

Are you suggesting they can't detect when someone is preventing a door from closing completely by any means other than a person looking?

An obstruction interlock can certainly detect an arm or a leg, but if you set it sensitive enough to detect loose fabric (say, a scarf or a hanging sleeve), it'll be sensitive enough that thermal expansion will cause false positives and negatives.

about a month ago

If We Can't Kill Cancer, Can We Control It?

Carnildo Re:Of course we can (140 comments)

I've seen one analysis that estimates that if all medical causes of death were eliminated, we would enjoy an average lifespan of about 650 before some accident would kill us.

The interesting thing with this is not the average, but the change in the distribution. Currently, the population curve has a sharp drop-off around the age of 70; with the elimination of medical causes of death, the curve will assume the shape of a decaying exponential, making that 650-year life expectancy more akin to a "half life".

If such a change happened today, of the 6 billion or so individuals currently alive, at least one of them could be expected to reach an age of over 20,000 years.

about a month and a half ago

If We Can't Kill Cancer, Can We Control It?

Carnildo Re:Here's a crazy idea (140 comments)

Why not try to get rid of the causes instead of finding out what other sort of drugs and chemicals we can add to reverse it?

We could try it, but I don't think you'd be very happy.

The #1 cause of cancer is old age. People are dying of cancer in droves because they aren't dying of tuberculosis, or pneumonia, or cholera, or epidemic smallpox, or infected cuts, or any of the other causes of death we've eliminated in the past century.

DNA copying isn't perfect. It takes, on average, 70 years for enough mutations to build up to bypass the body's anti-cancer defenses and become cancerous. Life expectancy at adulthood has gone up from 60 years to 75 years in the past century or so, and the resulting explosion in cancer cases is quite predictable.

about a month and a half ago

Kickstarter's Problem: You Have To Make the Game Before You Ask For Money

Carnildo Re:Bummer (215 comments)

There is a very small proportion of ideas for which crowdfunding is a good thing. These are ideas that are really great but have not been able to attract funding because investors (mistakenly) didn't see their potential.

There's a second group where crowdfunding also works well: ideas that are too small for traditional funding to get involved in. If you're seeking $50 million to develop an A-list video game, you'll have no problem attracting attention. On the other hand, if you're seeking $1000 to get a musician to produce a soundtrack for your Flash game, they'll laugh at you.

about a month and a half ago

The State of ZFS On Linux

Carnildo Re:Example? (370 comments)

Can you think of any feature that actually requires the volume manager to be stirred together with the filesystem?

Smart array (re)builds. In the typical layered approach, the redundancy layer doesn't know what parts of the filesystem are in use, so it spends a great deal of time synchronizing empty space.

about a month and a half ago

The State of ZFS On Linux

Carnildo Re:Magic (370 comments)

It's fast, reliable, caches intelligently, adaptable to a large variety of mirror/striping/RAID configurations, snapshots with incredible efficiency, and simply works as advertised.

Can I:

1) Add a disk to a RAID array (or whatever ZFS calls it) and reshape the array to take advantage of the space?

2) Run with less than 1 GB of RAM per TB of disk space?

3) Pull a disk that's suffered a transient failure, check it, plug it back in, and have the array write only the portions of the disk that changed, rather than doing a full rebuild?

The last time I looked at using ZFS for my storage server, #1 and #2 were deal-breakers. #3 was added when I expanded the server with a bunch of Seagate hard drives -- md's write-intent bitmaps reduced typical rebuild times from around a week to less than half an hour.

about a month and a half ago

Restoring Salmon To Their Original Habitat -- With a Cannon

Carnildo Re:Pet Peeve (147 comments)

Ever seen a dam break? Look up the number of casualties due to dam breaks in the last 50 years vs the number of casualties due to nuclear meltdowns in the last 50 years. Then divide by watts.

Make sure you're counting the right dams, though. A large number of dam failures have been flood-control or irrigation dams rather than hydroelectric dams. For example, of the ten deadliest dam failures since 1964, all ten involved flood-control, irrigation, or tailings impoundment dams.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: What Are the Strangest Features of Various Programming Languages?

Carnildo Re:+ operator for string concat? (729 comments)

The problem isn't the lack of strong typing in JavaScript. The problem is the combination of dynamic typing and operator re-use.

In Perl, I can tell you at compile time what "5 + $val + 5" will return: a number 10 greater than the numeric value of $val (and there are clear rules for converting strings to numbers). In JavaScript, I can't tell if "5 + val + 5" will be a string value or a numeric value, except by carefully tracking the possible data flows for "val" and seeing if it comes from a string source or a numeric source (or worse, both string and numeric sources).

about 2 months ago

Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

Carnildo Re:Simulations are limited by imagination (173 comments)

Are you sure the car won't spot the dog, mistake it for a child (remember, the quality of information from the front camera is reduced), and perform an emergency turn to the left? Are you sure the presence of the car won't mask the presence of the dog, or vice-versa?

It's easy to say "when in doubt, maintain heading and come to a halt". It's much harder to define "doubt" in a way that's useful to a computer.

about 2 months ago

Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

Carnildo Simulations are limited by imagination (173 comments)

The problem with simulator testing is that you can't test scenarios that you didn't think of. This is particularly important to find problems arising from multiple simultaneous situations. For example, you might test the scenarios "front camera obscured by rain", "car ahead of you performs emergency stop", and "dog runs into street", but that doesn't necessarily tell you how the car will respond to a combination of the three.

Real life is far more creative than any scenario designer.

about 2 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Where Can I Find Good Replacement Batteries?

Carnildo Re:For 3rd party batteries, I've had good luck wit (131 comments)

The nice thing about Anker is that they're honest about being a third party. Entirely too many companies do their best to visually imitate OEM equipment.

about 2 months ago

World's First 3D Printed Estate Coming To New York

Carnildo Re:Let us redefine "progress" (108 comments)

Imagine that, just rolling up two trucks to a construction site: one carrying the printer, another with all the crushed rock, setting it up and letting it go. A week later, a finished home ready for a family to move into at half the cost.

Imagine that, just rolling up two trucks to a construction site: one carrying the left half of the home, and one carrying the right half. A bit of maneuvering to align them on the foundation pad, a little work connecting things up, and the family can start moving in that afternoon.

Or if you prefer a non-standard shape, how about two trucks: one carrying a collection of prefabricated floor, wall, and roof sections, and one carrying a crane and a construction crew. Takes a bit longer to assemble, but it can still be done in less than a day.

Rapid construction of houses is nothing new. I watched a neighbor's house go from foundation pad to final painting in less than a day back in the early 80s, and it was old tech even then.

about 2 months ago

Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

Carnildo Re:Expert?? (442 comments)

Roads could be improved incrementally. A railroad that only connects two cities still has value. Any large, flat field could handle an early airplane, as long as you moved the cows out first.

The problem with this "storage-less" renewable grid is that no partial implementation is adequate. It simply cannot function on anything less than continent scale, and may require a global-scale grid to average out the fluctuations enough.

about 2 months ago

Study: Firmware Plagued By Poor Encryption and Backdoors

Carnildo Re:Going to need MUCH better firewalls (141 comments)

Fortunately, a water heater is simple enough that you can rip out the "smart" electronics and replace them with the sort of thermostat-and-relay circuit that almost everything uses right now.

about 3 months ago

Study Finds That Astronauts Are Severely Sleep Deprived

Carnildo Sleeping patterns? (106 comments)

I don't think there's ever been a proper study of astronauts' natural sleeping patterns in space. There are always more things people want astronauts to do than there are hours to do them in, so everything (including sleep) is very tightly scheduled. Nobody's ever said "spend the next week doing nothing but keeping your spaceship running, and do it on your own schedule".

We don't know what effect, if any, the freefall environment has on sleep patterns. It may be that astronauts are so sleep-deprived because Mission Control has been scheduling things wrong.

about 3 months ago



Carnildo Carnildo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Carnildo (712617) writes "Back in the day, people were up in arms when Geocities changed their copyright terms so that you were granting them a "perpetual, irrevocable" license to do whatever they pleased with your content. That's nothing compared to the new Fark terms of service. By submitting content to Fark, you are assigning the copyright of your submission to Fark, and in return, they are granting you a non-exclusive, non-transferrable, and royalty-free license to use your creation."



Feeling blue

Carnildo Carnildo writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Lest ye worry that, with the coming of Vista, the Blue Screen of Death hath been vanquished for all time, fear not, for verily I have seen one, not these five minutes past.


Carnildo Carnildo writes  |  about 8 years ago

Windows Vista doesn't suck.

Really. Saying it sucks would be too kind. It's a steaming pile of you-know-what.

I got to install and use Vista RC2 today to test how my company's software works under the new OS.

The install process went as expected: the installer asked a bunch of questions, had me accept a license with a bunch of terms I'd never agree with if I was installing this on my home computer, then announce that since I wasn't running XP SP2, it was going to wipe out my existing XP install. No problem there: I've got XP install disks, so I can put things back when I'm done.

What it doesn't mention is that, in addition to wiping out c:\windows, it will also wipe out c:\program files and c:\documents and settings. Fortunately, there's nothing I can't live without on this computer.

So, an hour and three reboots later, Windows is starting the setup wizard. It asks a few questions like my username and password, and what sort of network I'm connecting to. Windows proper then starts up, and it brings up the "welcome center" -- and asks again what sort of network I'm connecting to, this time bringing up the "User Account Control" dialog.

The first thing I do with any new OS is to adjust the preferences.

Those control panels are a mess. Each control panel tab under XP is a control panel now, with one or more long "descriptive" names. They're categorized into ten groups, and any given tab may be in more than one category. It would take me two or three tries to find what I'm looking for, and I still haven't found how to change the mouse acceleration, or get rid of that "your CRT is going bad" drop-shadown around the pointer.

Oh, and that dreaded "Windows registration" stuff? Where Microsoft will degrade your Vista experience until you prove that you've paid the Microsoft tax? It's only by accident that I discovered that Windows hadn't been registered during the install process, and things would have started breaking in three days.

At this point, I'm ready to install and test our software. I click on "Network" to access the fileserver and download the latest installer. It takes Vista a while to locate the fileserver on the network, but at least there's a progress bar that indicates it's doing something. I double-clicked on the fileserver icon, and get prompted for my name and password. I enter them, click "ok", and get told that login failed, check my username and password. The password's fine, but now the username box shows "Junkbox2000\JoeBloggs": Vista has prepended my computer name to my username. As far as I can tell, there's no way to stop Vista from doing this, so I'm locked out of the network.

Further checking of the computer reveals that the old "Documents and Settings" folder is still there, just hidden. Since I can't remember where I stuck the installers, I bring up the search dialog. It takes me three tries to do a full-disk search filename search. The default search is to only search indexed locations, ie. your home directory, with a full-document-text search for the terms you entered. Selecting "search everywhere" from the "location" dropdown doesn't *really* mean everywhere, just those areas that have been indexed. You need to additionally check the "include non-indexed, hidden, and system files" box.

Searching for files by name not only gives you files with the specified name (setup.exe), but also close matches: setup6.0.2.exe, setup6f3.exe, and

So I've found an old installer copy, and I'm finally ready to install. I double-click on it, and immediately get hit by a scary-looking User Account Control dialog: "An unidentified program wants to access your computer". If this is the typical user experience upon installing software on Vista, people will get used to clicking "allow" in that dialog even faster than they got used to clicking "yes, install that spyware" in IE.

At this point, I'm running the latest version of our software, but I need to test the self-update functionality. The easiest way to do this is to open the "current version" file in Notepad and change the version name to that of an older version. I go to save the file, and get the following error message: "Cannot create the C:\Program Files\MySoftware\version.dat" file. Make sure that the file name and path are correct." No hint that the real problem is that I don't have write-access to the file.

I run the updater, expecting it to fail in spectacular fashion. After all, if I don't have permission to write to the application directory, why should a program I'm running? Much to my surprise, it works flawlessly. I suppose this is a hole in Vista's security model, but *I'm* not going to tell Redmond about it.

I try the PDF export functionality of our program, saving the PDF in the same folder as the original file. The "open file" dialog shows everything, while Windows Explorer and the command prompt only shows the original file. Rebooting does not fix this.

Tomorrow I get to test installing from CD. This promises to provide even more fun. After that, I'll try installing and running as a non-admin user.


Moderation in all things

Carnildo Carnildo writes  |  more than 9 years ago

It seems that Slashdot has decided I make a good moderator. I'm getting mod points every few days now.

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