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Massive Volcanic Eruptions Accompanied Dinosaur Extinction

Celarent Darii Re:Statistically not drastic (78 comments)

Thanks for the information. Volcanoes are amazing things. I remember when Mt. St. Helens erupted. It caused enormous damage and yet not too many things are extinct because of it. To have so many extinctions linked to one timespan seems to indicate something much more than just a series of volcanoes. Of course any life suffering from a cataclysmic event would not be helped by a long series of eruptions.

5 days ago

Massive Volcanic Eruptions Accompanied Dinosaur Extinction

Celarent Darii Statistically not drastic (78 comments)

The summary states that over 750,000 years the volcanoes emitted 1.1 E 6 km^2. Over that timespan it doesn't seem like much, a bit more than 1 km^2 a year. This does not seem that significant.

For instance, the Bardarbung volcano in Iceland, which erupted this year, has already produced 1 km^2 of lava, and has no sign of stopping. At that rate, for 750,000 years it would be close to the magnitude of the volcanoes in the summary. And yet the impact of Bardarbung on earthly climate is close to negligible - we are not yet extinct in any case. For an extinction event one would expect something a bit more drastic, it would seem to me.

Some info on Bardarbung here

5 days ago

Mathematicians Study Effects of Gerrymandering On 2012 Election

Celarent Darii In Soviet America.... (413 comments)

In Soviet America, voters don't chose their representatives, rather the representatives choose their voters.

Stalin is reported to have said that he takes little account of who votes, but rather it is he who counts the votes that matters. Politics in American have done him proud... it matters not who votes, but where you vote that counts. One vote in a swing state is worth thousands of votes in the so called "safe states". In fact with most districts there isn't even a meaningful contest.

Tyranny by definition is rule without mandate. When less than 50% of the people vote, and of them not all the votes have equal political value, then I think it is safe to state that the USA has perhaps crossed the line into tyranny.

Yet some tyrannies can be quite nice to live in.

about a month ago

Ask Slashdot: Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?

Celarent Darii You can do anything you want with FreeBSD (267 comments)

I've been using BSD for a long time, both in OpenBSD and FreeBSD. FreeBSD is fantastic. I use mostly just plain Xorg and i3 window manager. With emacs, LaTeX and conkeror I can accomplish all that I need to do, and do it efficiently. However you can put as many bells and whistles on your installation as you want. True, you could do that with linux but there are some very important advantages with using FreeBSD:

1/ ZFS file system. This alone is worth switching to FreeBSD. If you don't know what it is, learn how to use it. What is extremely useful is doing "zfs send" of snapshots to another machine. Need more storage? Just add a disk to the pool. ZFS is very much production grade in FreeBSD 10.1.

2/ Jails. These are better than VirtualBox in my humble opinion, but they do have a learning curve. The advantage is putting each jail on a zfs filesystem where you can do snapshots of different stages of your application deployment and if something doesn't work you can simply rollback. Yes, I know you can do this with VMWare and the rest but jails allow me to access the filesystem directly in the command line and in general it is much more intuitive for my work habits. Note that you can also install jails of different flavors - for instance a debian jail where you can run everything just like it is on linux.

VirtualBox works just fine on FreeBSD, but I'll admit I haven't used it much.

3/ General simplicity of the system. Linux is fastly becoming as non-unix like as possible [though to be fair GNU is Not Unix]. Just a simple install of Ubuntu and you will see tons of processes running that you sometimes wonder what they are all up to. This may provide some utility for some people, but most people will never use those features. In FreeBSD I know exactly what each process is doing and it is very easy to turn off or enable as I desire. FreeBSD provides me control because I know the system, and the system is easier to know because it is much simpler and in my opinion more coherently designed.

4/ Much better documentation. FreeBSD (and BSD in general) has a good reputation for providing documentation. Almost everything you need is in the handbook. Also there is a lot of stability in the way things are done. Often in Linux the entire manner of doing things is changed from one version to another. Plus there are no monstrosities like NetworkManager which are opaque and not very well documented.

5/ More secure - a system is only as secure in as much as you know how it is working and what it is doing. In this case FreeBSD is more secure because I know more of what it is doing. With Ubuntu giving web searches every time you try to find a file on your machine, there is just asking for trouble.

6/ The system is more responsive. FreeBSD simple feels more 'alive' in the sense it is doing only what you want it to do. You don't have to wait for that useless application to stop doing what it is doing because it is not there. You don't need to wait for the indexing of the harddrive to give you back control of the system, as you decide when it should be done, etc. But I think even the UI elements are much smoother even on large desktops like KDE. The scrolling of windows for instance seems much more responsive than it is on linux, but that could be due to all sorts of factors.

As to your particular needs:
A/ Minecraft works just fine. http://minecraft.gamepedia.com...
B/ I have no idea, but an acquaintance tells me it works. In the forums they mention FreeBSD so someone must be using it.
C/ Mplayer works just fine, but I've seen a lot of people use VLC.
D/ Firefox works extremely well, though I use Conkeror which is simply a different shell to the same browser.
E/ Flash works with a multiple of different options.
F/ No idea to be honest about OpenRA. If there is source code I'm sure you could get it to run. At the very worst there is a linux-emulation layer.
G/ All the major Desktop Environments are in the ports tree. KDE, Mate, Gnome, Openbox and XCFE can also be installed with precompiled packages.
H/ Not an expert on this, but you can check out the handbook, as it seems to say yes: https://www.freebsd.org/doc/ha...
I/ Qt is in the ports tree.

Literally, you can do with FreeBSD whatever you want. If you want to experiment, perhaps try some of the various guides:

If you want to just stick in a DVD and have it all done for you, I would suggest going with PC-BSD: http://www.pc-bsd.org/

Good luck to you !

about a month ago

OpenBSD 5.6 Released

Celarent Darii Re:Thank you! (125 comments)

A non-extensive List of Reasons why OpenBSD is better than linux:

1/ OpenBSD's mascot is a puffer fish. Puffer fish can kill you. Penguins are simply parasites living on property no one wants anyway.
2/ OpenBSD's project leader has better hygiene than RMS
3/ OpenBSD's project leader is also more dictatorial than Linus
4/ It's BSD which means it has the karma of open source and you don't need lawyers managing each release cycle.
5/ OpenBSD assumes the world is a bad place. Linux is just hoping no one will do something bad.
6/ It doesn't update stuff simply because it can, but because it has to. Linux just updates stuff because they can, and stuff breaks.

Perhaps someone else has something to add?

Seriously, it just works. If you like what you have, keep using it! Not like I'm going to force you to quit using whatever you have.

about 2 months ago

OpenBSD 5.6 Released

Celarent Darii Thank you! (125 comments)

OpenBSD is fantastic. Thanks to the developers who spend so much time to make it work well!

about 2 months ago

City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros

Celarent Darii Re:It also buys you (249 comments)

You forget that this is for the Municipaliity of Turin. That is to say that it is not only government workers, but Italian government workers.

Having lived in Italy for several years, I can say that this is about as far from a for-profit industry as one can get, so cost is not really an issue. Nor does the government have a reputation for doing things quickly. The situation is perfect for OSS.

I dare say the changeover will give the workers something more interesting to do than just file papers. Sure there will be a lot of complaints, cursing, arguments and excited hand gesticulation about how the computer doesn't work like it should, but that is completely normal in Italy.

about 3 months ago

Linus Torvalds: "GCC 4.9.0 Seems To Be Terminally Broken"

Celarent Darii Just move to LLVM and clang for Pete's sake and st (739 comments)

Linus is right, GCC is braindead. Its code is purposely opaque and has huge maintenance problems. This is not the first time GCC is the source of suffering. I remember the bug in 2.95 causing all sorts of grief.

It would be interesting if the kernel devs switched to clang like FreeBSD has done. Even just the threat of doing so could give at least a good rivalry and competition usually means the one who improves the fastest will survive.

about 5 months ago

Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

Celarent Darii Re:Casualties (503 comments)


about 5 months ago

Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

Celarent Darii Casualties (503 comments)

"In war, the first casuality is truth".
Aeschylus (525 BC - 456 BC)

Res eo magis mutant quo manent.

about 5 months ago

Mapping a Monster Volcano

Celarent Darii Re:Trust != Faith (105 comments)

Actually, by definition, faith is:

defn: : strong belief or trust in someone or something.

Thus your ability to confirm is based upon a certain trust in the validity of the scientific process. It does not mean that it is unreasonable, but simply that it is of something that you cannot observe.

As far as the 'duplicated independently', certainly that increases the validity of the measurement. But the question arises: what if there is only one instrument that can measure the phenomenon [such as CERN] ? How much is this really duplicated independently? If the ruler is marked wrong, everyone will be measuring wrong. The foundation of science is more subtle than just the ability to duplicate observations.

about 6 months ago

Mapping a Monster Volcano

Celarent Darii Re:If you can observe it, it is not religion (105 comments)

The fact that you COULD observe it, doesn't mean you actually will. Thus, until you actually observe it yourself, your knowledge of reality is still coming through faith. For one, you believe that the person telling you these things actually knows what he is talking about, and also that he is not attempting to lie to you. I very much doubt that many could afford a telescope that could see Titan, and so their knowledge will never rise above a simple belief that the scientist knows better than he does and he is not deceptive.

Faith in a human being can go wrong, but, let's be honest, there just isn't enough time, nor talent, nor energy nor equipment to verify everything that the experts say. Our knowledge of these things comes through hearing them from others, and thus implies at least a rudimentary faith in their competence and veracity. I might add that the confidence we have in the findings of others is necessary for the progress of human knowledge. No one would get very far if each of us had to rediscover calculus or remeasure the basic physical constants of the universe. It is faith in the metaphysical assumptions of truth, veracity and verifiability that make science possible, but the large corpus of observation is largely based on confidence in another human being.

I might add that the criteria of 'duplication' in many of the most advanced areas of physics are close to impossible for all but a very select few. Not everyone can build a hadron collider in their backyard....

about 6 months ago

New Snowden Leak: of 160000 Intercepted Messages, Only 10% From Official Targets

Celarent Darii hmm.... (201 comments)

The article doesn't really specify how the 90% were spied upon. It could simply be as a consequence of recording a telephone from a known suspect. I imagine that even a terrorists normal activity consists of many mundane things that involve innocent people: they order pizza, they go to bars, they buy things in stores, etc. Of course if someone is under surveillance, all these innocent people also get involved by the simple fact that they become somehow possible accessories in his crime. I would imagine that 90% of the activity of any criminal, including organised crime, is fairly innocuous, and innocent people will be also recorded because of this.

What I would really like to know is how much of this gathering of information is a consequence of the gathering of information on a possible suspect or simply a mass gathering of data about everyone with the filter applied afterwards. If the suspect is already under surveillance, I imagine that the innocent population would tolerate a loss of privacy simply because that person is a threat. If it is the other way around, that is that information is gathered indiscriminately in order to search for possible suspects, then it is extremely dangerous.

The fact that the Post does not describe in detail these findings makes the article more sensational than useful in my opinion.

about 6 months ago

Tetris Turns 30

Celarent Darii It was the music (36 comments)

To be honest the game was not that extraordinary, but it had its appeal. I think however it was the music that really made the game popular. Seeing that the game was all about matching up blocks that fit together, it was very poetic that they used a Russian folk song that was about courtship.

Back then, programmers had a bit of culture. These hipsters are just faking it.

about 7 months ago

Stephen Wolfram Developing New Programming Language

Celarent Darii One hell of a language (168 comments)

Well, either he's created the mother of all LISP macros, or it's simply vaporware. Love to see it when they publish it. Code or it didn't happen.

Here is the obligatory xkcd, panel two.

about a year ago

How long before most automobile driving is done by computers?

Celarent Darii Not really a technical problem (472 comments)

I think the technical problems of driving a car by computer can be engineered far within safety requirements. In many factories robots perform much more hazardous work with impeccable precision.

However, driving a car is not just an engineering problem. There are many more problems to solve than just the software for the computer:

1/ Who is responsible for the eventual accident? Will it be operator of the computer or the programmer?
2/ Even if the computer is flawless, it does not guarantee that the OTHER DRIVERS will be flawless. Shit will happen. What happens if an automated car crashes into another automated car? Who decides whose algorithm/program is at fault?
3/ Who is going to be sued if the automated car kills someone? The computer programmer, the one who installs it, the one who builds the car, or all of the above?
4/ Who is going to insure an automated car? The only reason an insurance company will insure something is that SOMEONE is responsible for monthly payments and they can vindicate someone else if something goes wrong. I have yet to see an insurance company insure a computer program.

When it is all said in done, the problem with driving a car is above all a human problem, not a technical one.

about a year ago

Would You Let a Robot Stick You With a Needle?

Celarent Darii Lack of Empathy (209 comments)

One thing about a human doctor though is that they often know what it feels like to be in pain. A robot doesn't as it only has an algorithm. A nurse, when she sticks the needle in, will notice how you react, whether you feel pain or not. I would think the robot would need to have some manner of sensing if it is doing something harmful or painful to the patient.

However, I have had doctors and nurses that are completely insensitive to their patients, so if the robot can get it right each time it might be a better alternative. I've had sessions where it took 4 tries for the nurse to get the intravenous in correctly. It was not a very pleasant experience. I'd let the robot give it a try after that.

about a year ago



Winning algorithms for Rock, Paper, Scissors

Celarent Darii Celarent Darii writes  |  about 8 months ago

Celarent Darii (1561999) writes "The probability of winning at Rock-Paper-Scissors is about 1 in 3. However, people do not play entirely randomly, a study has revealed. People tend to follow hidden patterns that can be used to win more games. A short article on the BBC gives hints to the strategies to be used to get a competitive advantage with your Rock-Scissors-Paper nemesis."
Link to Original Source

NASA restarts Plutonium production

Celarent Darii Celarent Darii writes  |  about 2 years ago

Celarent Darii (1561999) writes "In what looks like good news for the American Space program, NASA begins production of plutonium. According to the article, after the closure of Savannah Rivers reactor NASA purchased plutonium from Russia, but since 2010 this was no longer possible. The native production of plutonium is a step forward for the space program to achieve the energy density for long term space exploration."
Link to Original Source

Collaborative LaTeX editor with Preview in your web browser

Celarent Darii Celarent Darii writes  |  about 2 years ago

Celarent Darii (1561999) writes "Slashdot readers have undoubtably heard of Google Docs and the many other online word processing solutions that run in the browser. However, as a long-time user of TeX and LaTeX, these solutions are not my favorite way of doing things. Wouldn't it be nice to TeX something in your browser? Well, look no further, there is now a Online collaborative LaTeX editor with integrated rapid preview. Some fantastic features: quasi-instant preview, automatic versioning of source, easy collaboration and you can even upload files and pictures. Download your project later when you get home. Are you a TeX guru with some masterpieces? Might I suggest uploading them? For the beginner: you can start here.

Full disclosure: I am not affiliated with the site in anyway, just a fan. Hope exposure on Slashdot gets the word out on this great resource, which is very useful while travelling!"

Link to Original Source


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