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Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

DusterBar This has me thinking of Höhlengleichnis (745 comments)

We are just prisoners in a cave. Höhlengleichnis (or the Allegory of the Cave) is about the limit of understanding from seeing limited information (shadows on the wall).

Our view of the universe really is just like looking at shadows on the wall. One can come up with so many stories that seem to fit. Science is about eliminating those stories that seem to contradict something. We do this filtering by using our theory to predict something and then try to observe that "shadow" to validate it or fail to observe it to invalidate it.

While we have done a great job eliminating so many theories, the shadows still are so low in information that many theories still seem to fit. This is one that, by definition, would fit since, well, no matter what shadow we see we can claim that it is part of the simulation. In fact, maybe the shadows themselves are all there is to the simulation.

about 10 months ago

Why Eric Schmidt Is Wrong About Microsoft Not Mattering Anymore

DusterBar Re:Meh (398 comments)

I do not think the railroad is a necessary *evil* - railroads do some things much more efficiently and reliably than any other technology available today. It may not be the sexy thing anymore but railroads are vital.

Now, Microsoft is currently not seen as sexy, but there are things that they are doing well. Windows Phone is actually a nice product. It does not have the installed base or app selection or public mindset but from a usability standpoint, I would pick Windows Phone over Android any day (and especially if I had to pick one of those two for my wife or my mother).

The *buzz* is not with Microsoft right now but I think that may change - but even as such, I would not count Microsoft out. There is a lot of interesting and advanced technology in Microsoft R&D - it will just be a matter of delivering to the market things that the market gets excited about. That is not easy when you don't have automatic buzz about your products and your competitors (Apple) gets front page news coverage about rumors about future unannounced products.

more than 2 years ago

Linux Is a Lemon On the Retina MacBook Pro

DusterBar Re:Linux on Mac?! (780 comments)

Let me see, 5 million pixels, 4 bytes per pixel = 20megabytes. Lets say we tripple buffer that, we are at 60megabytes. So how is 1,000megabytes (1GB) of video memory a limiting factor? You would have over 900megabytes available for 3D models and shaders even if tripple buffering *and* keeping the desktop display separate.

more than 2 years ago

How the Inventors of Dragon Speech Recognition Technology Lost Everything

DusterBar Re:Ironic (606 comments)

6% for 40 years is a bit over 10x (not 8%)

The math is (1 + %) ^ 40 == 10 which means if you put in 6% you get 1.06 ^ 40 == 10.28 thus 40 years at 6% will get you 10.28 times the number.

Now, add in the extras (anti-lock breaks, water cooled engine, airbags, air conditioning, power windows, etc) and you seem to have a much better/nicer/safer car for around the same price given your 6% number.

Note that inflation has been all over the map over the last 40 years. Since time value of money can not trivially be reduced to averages, it is not clear what the right number is, but if you look at the 3.5% number I have seen as the effective average over the last 40 years we see that you get only a 4x multiple rather than the 10x. This seems much closer to reasonable considering the significant differences between the VW bug from 1968 (a very simple device) to the one from 2008 (a rather complex and sophisticated device).

more than 2 years ago

Firefox 15 Coming With Souped-Up, Faster Debugger

DusterBar Re:Debugging Is the Next Frontier in Faster Browsi (125 comments)

I wish that were the case. As web pages make use of more complex layout and dynamic data, the browsers have become key to not just rendering speed but debugging. Firebug was, for a long time now, key reason to use firefox.

Take a look at http://sinz.org/Maze/ for what turned into an interesting benchmark of layout and js/dom manipulation. (It was not the intent but it sure shows significant differences). Since I did that page, Firefox actually got much slower than it was but it still beats IE but loses badly to Chrome.

more than 2 years ago

Verizon Claims Net Neutrality Violates Their Free Speech Rights

DusterBar Re:When does a monopoly forfeit private property? (430 comments)

They are asking us to use their property and we even pay to use it, many times, under service contracts. There is no misappropriation of private property or resources. If they don't want others to use it, don't ask them to and don't sell them the service.

more than 2 years ago

Verizon Claims Net Neutrality Violates Their Free Speech Rights

DusterBar Re:Great! (430 comments)


more than 2 years ago

Verizon Claims Net Neutrality Violates Their Free Speech Rights

DusterBar Re:Verizon better watch it. (430 comments)

Even worse, what if they don't throttle a child porn distributor but do throttle someone sending/downloading a Linux distribution?

What happens when they are then found to be co-conspirators in the illegal acts due to the fact that they claim that it is their microphone? Deep pockets to sue, that is for sure...

more than 2 years ago

Verizon Claims Net Neutrality Violates Their Free Speech Rights

DusterBar Common carrier or free speech (430 comments)

I wonder if they really want to say that the network they built is their microphone. Doing so would state that it is their speech and thus they would be liable for any illegal speech.

Note that as a common carrier (like phone companies of old) they would not be liable for any illegal activities that were committed via their network. This is long standing law.

Once you start filtering, controlling, limiting the content that is transmitted then you can no longer to seen as just a carrier of opaque information and can then be held liable for that information (illegal data, illegal speech, etc.)

It would be interesting to see what stance they would take on that. For example, if their network was used to distribute child porn and thus they would be held equally responsible along with those who sent and received it.

more than 2 years ago

LHC Discovers New Particle That Looks Like the Higgs Boson

DusterBar Let's just hope that the US Patent office... (396 comments)

Let's just hope that the US Patent Office does not issue a patent on this "new" boson.

It would be a sure way to claim patent enfringement on any physical thing.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Headphones, Earbuds, Earphones?

DusterBar Re:Sony MDR 7506 (448 comments)

I would disagree. You can easily find some nice phones for reasonable price. The Grados were always highly rated (and considered under-priced) with the 60s available for just around the $50 price limit (over $50 but not by much)

And, if you want an enclosed set, the Monoprice 8323 are hard to beat and would beat most other enclosed phones in the under $200 price range and they are under $25.

However, if you really want the best, yes, they cost - but "decent" is available, just not from consumer brands like Sony.

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: Best Headphones, Earbuds, Earphones?

DusterBar Re:Monoprice! (448 comments)

I can attest to the quality of the 8323 from Monoprice. They easily match more costly enclosed headphones. Not quite to the level of a top end Sennheiser but the good Sennheisers are all open design. I would take this Monoprice model over any Sony phone, no matter the price. (Oh, and they are also rather comfortable for an enclosed headphone...)

more than 2 years ago

MINIX 3.2 Released With Some Major Changes

DusterBar Re:Neat (120 comments)

Great post, but there are things that X11 needs to fix. The whole "visuals" bit and the capturing of the mouse? xlib is a mess to program to and the GUI toolkits try to hide that but the overhead still exists.

Now, having said all of that, I would rather have a push to streamline X11 while keeping a strong window manager separation (this is actually important for security in addition to usability) and the remotable constructs. X11 has drawing primitives that are better than bitmaps (wayland) but not really that great. And some of the behavioral requirements makes it really hard on connections that have any level of latency.

Fixing these core items (and bringing in better layer management with composition at the display server side and not client side) is the way to go. Doing so and still being compatible will be very painful. Doing so and having "fun designing new" (or suffering from NIH) does not mix well. Just beware of the draw of "green fields" (starting from scratch) as it rarely works out in the end. (You usually make mistakes that were already address/solved in the prior system since you are more concerned about the "mistakes" in the prior system that you are claiming is the reason for starting fresh)

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Launches Windows 8 Consumer Preview

DusterBar Re:A new kind of copying (500 comments)

Even more so, the Mac was a rework of the Lisa - which came out in 1983 (yes, boys and girls, before you were born :-)) The Mac was successful. The Lisa was too costly (at $10k of 1983 dollars, it was more than my new car back then!)

And, yes, many of the ideas came from Xerox but with permission.

more than 2 years ago

Debt Reduction Super Committee Fails To Agree

DusterBar Re:Let's bring some numbers into this... (954 comments)

That is absolutely correct. If a company/pension fund manager did what the US government did with the Social Security funds, the company and fund managers would go to jail and the company would be liquidated to recover the missing funds.

Now, we can't liquidate the US government but we can also make sure that promises made are promises kept and that the money that was paid in FICA taxes (which are not part of the normal taxes but are collected from payroll) is not just taken illegally (and in doing so, disproportionally hurting the lower income groups)

The real kicker for this was that the justification to reduce taxes was because we had a "surplus" but we never really had a real "surplus" - we were just finally paying down some of the debt rather than acquiring more of it. (In other words, we finally had some minor positive cash flow) And it was not even that stable yet since there were a large number of debts coming due. But, somehow, the politicians (GW Bush and friends) convinced people that this was the right thing to do - to give huge tax breaks - and then, when 9/11 and the wars started, to continue giving even more tax breaks even though anyone with even the slightest brain would have known that the wars will cost money. (In fact, they were kept off-book specifically to hide how much it was really costing)

And now, after all that has gone on, and all the wealthy have become even more wealthy (and corrupt, in the case of many banks), the cost of all of this will be transferred to those who have the least (poor, elderly, children) since they don't have the means by which to influence government.

Others that do such things would be brought to trial... But congress (mostly the republicans) are somehow immune from responsibility and the common decency that the average human has.

more than 2 years ago

Intel's Plans For X86 Android, Smartphones, and Tablets

DusterBar Re:x86 (151 comments)

I would not be so quick to say that. While I am no x86 fanboy, there are a number of things that are "nice" about the model from the point of view of most software developers. The instruction set is basically a compression system (much like thumb2 is for ARM). The very simplistic (to reason about) memory model (which is rather complex to implement in hardware) makes multi-processor significantly easier for most people. Most people who think they know how to write good multi-processor, multi-threaded code end up bumping their heads hard on a weaker memory model and ARM has a very weak model. (This does not mean it is bad to have a weaker memory model - it actually allows for lower power and higher performance than the extra complexity of the stronger model that x86 lives with but it does expose complexities to all such developers while x86 "solves" the problem for you in hardware at the cost of some transistors and a few really smart engineers)

The x86 is not all bad. And ARM is not all good. It will be interesting to see where the trade-offs end up pushing the world since power is critical and yet performance is critical and yet, even more so, being able to write reliable software with reasonable performance at a reasonable development cost is potentially an even larger issue. It is not yet game over for either side.

more than 3 years ago

Microsoft Shareholders Unhappy After Annual Meeting

DusterBar Re:Just now they're "disgruntled"? (521 comments)

While Microsoft stock is not going up, it is unclear why. The company has, over the last 10 years, over doubled revenue and almost tripled profit. And it did this in an environment where they held 80+% of their primary market. This requires innovation and growth into new markets since you can't grow much when you already have 80+%

Looking at Apple, they have done well. Made products people want. Gained technology to product price competitive products. But the real point is that they were under 3% of the market and now are at 12% or so. Microsoft still is over 80% but the point is that growing by 9 basis points for Microsoft would be just over 10% but for apple it was 400% growth. In fact, there is no way Microsoft can grow more that 25% in their primary market as, well, that would put them at 100%, The growth potential is almost all in other markets and new technologies. Apple, on the other hand, has tons of room to grow into if they can take more market share. However, if you look at their actual financial data, it is the new markets that really pushed them forward over the last 10 years. They executed very well in identifying new opportunities and taking the risk to enter those markets at the right point.

Microsoft is currently, I believe, undervalued. Microsoft does have some very bright people and some compelling products coming, And they continue to be stable too. Not that Apple is not in a major growth spurt, but they are also valued relatively highly compared to earnings.

more than 3 years ago

iPhone 4S Pre-Orders Sell Out

DusterBar Re:Maybe on purpose? (327 comments)

Exactly, only more so - a missed opportunity for a sale in the cell phone market is a major loss - not just for the 1 (or more likely 2) year contract period, but also for the mind-share that is then built by the user. Apps that are purchased are extra barriers to moving to another platform after the contract period. Habits that are built using the product that they got vs the one that they did not.

The scarcity marketing ploy would only be useful if there was no significant opportunity to select a competing replacement. (Even if one would ever think of using such a ploy)

No, there are logistical limitations to producing such products in large scale for bulk sales. There can only be so much flow rate and if demand is too high, some may not be satisfied at initial launch.

more than 3 years ago

Windows 8 To Natively Support ISO and VHD Mounting

DusterBar Re:Once again, following Apple's footsteps (656 comments)

And ISO image is a nice filesystem which can contain multiple bits of data and even be cross-platform (given that it is a standard). A single ISO image could have a program for Windows, Mac, and Linux if you wished. And since most applications are more data that native code, it would only require unique native code for each platform with the rest of the application files just as files (images, backgrounds, sounds, datasets, helpfiles, documentation).

I really like the concept of being able to read the documentation PDF or the installation ReadMe before executing the code.

And finally, I wish more software did not need an install process more complex than dragging the icon for the applcation/product to where you want it. Most Mac OSX applications are that simple to install. Most Windows applications require an MSI installer to do the vast array of complex operations. (I won't even talk about "most Linux applications" since usually it is dependent on the distro and various code repositories for those and the tools to drive them: apt, yum, rpm, etc.)

more than 3 years ago



Maybe it is not worms, but Mars has holes

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  about 9 months ago

DusterBar (881355) writes "NASA photographs of Mars have relieved some rather interesting holes on Mars.

The most interesting one also has a strange and very visible circular creator around it that is unexplained.

The holes are interesting as speculation is that they connect to some underground caverns that could act as shelter from the harsh surface conditions. This could be a place where, if there is life on Mars, it could be more likely to have survived."

Apple.com DNS outage

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  more than 2 years ago

DusterBar writes "What seems like a long lived outage has hit high flying Apple with at least 5 hours (and counting) outage of the whole apple.com domain.

The real interesting bit is that there does not seem to be any coverage of this, and yet it impacts all iDevice users, the app store, etc."

Working transistor that is 1 atom in size!

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  more than 2 years ago

DusterBar writes "So, while this is far from a production ready story, it does show that there seems to be some room left in reducing transistor sizes. Just don't expect your next laptop to have them :-)"
Link to Original Source

Illegal DMCA takedown by the MPA

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  more than 3 years ago

DusterBar writes "The MPA (UK version of the MPAA) has forced a DMCA takedown of IMSLP.ORG, a source for music that is in the public domain (mainly classical music from long dead composers)

IMSLP is trying to fight back and wants to sue the MPA for their wanton disregard for facts that they are (or should have been) in possession of under DMCA section 512(f)"

Link to Original Source

Leaked cables show danger and foolishness of Bush

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  about 4 years ago

DusterBar (881355) writes "This is an interesting read and, if it is correct, shows the complexities of the region was not lost on most and that the foolishness of the Bush administration was much worse than most anyone has publicly discussed. Very interesting reading.


Link to Original Source

Wikimedia schools FBI on the law...

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  more than 4 years ago

DusterBar (881355) writes "The Wikimedia Foundation schools the FBI on the law after the FBI attempts a takedown letter.

The New York Times reports that the FBI was trying to take on Wikipedia but got its reading of the law confused. The FBI wants Wikipedia to take down the FBI seal that is accompanying an article on the bureau.

In a sharply written response from the Wikimedia Foundation to the FBI, they stated that the FBI lawyers needed to take a better look at the law: "While we appreciate your desire to revise the statute to reflect your expansive vision of it, the fact is that we must work with the actual language of the statute, not the aspirational version" that the FBI was expressing."

Link to Original Source

GOP leaders trying to help Comcast

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  more than 6 years ago

DusterBar writes "This morning's FCC meeting is going to be about Comcast's throttling of BitTorrent but various GOP leaders are none too happy about that.

When the FCC went after Comcast due to its throttling of BitTorrent, many cheered but it seems that some did not. More specifically, GOP economic conservatives are taking aim at the FCC chairman, sending a nasty-gram to him from House Republican Leader John Boehner. The still president Bush administration showed its irritation at the FCC chairman. GOP think-tanks are chiming in, trying to spin the defense of network neutrality as an anti-business, anti-freedom problem.

Could the net neutrality issue be yet another "red-vs-blue" (republican vs democrat) issue?"

DusterBar DusterBar writes  |  about 8 years ago

DusterBar writes "Sprint, along with some partner, has sent text message advertising to my phone. I do not pay for unlimited SMS and thus each message is paid for ($0.15 each). Yet when I called Sprint service people, they claimed it was my responsibility to call the vendor and stop the messages and that I must pay for any and all SMS messages my phone receives.

So, not only did I pay to get and pay for the text message but now I need to spend my time to contact them to ask them not to text me.

And yet, the text message shows that it comes with Sprint's blessing, if not direct collusion. The content of the text message was:

As you can see, the SMS is very Sprint specific and even has a link to get more of these advertisements. (The http://sprint.com/pfo page is very much set up for cell phones)

This is just unacceptable. Even the manager from customer service continued to say that I had to contact them myself otherwise I will continue to get these messages.

I asked why they allow this and they said that SMS messages are a service they provide and that I must pay for that service.

So, is this a new way to make money? Set up and allow advertising from premium services and have that advertisement make a profit from the customer. The more advertising the more profit! To me this seems just a bit immoral and unethical if not directly illegal.

The new plan:
  1. Set up cell system
  2. Send SMS advertisement for services
  3. Profit!

And why is it not illegal? FAX advertisement was ruled illegal due to the costs incurred by the recipient, should SMS advertisement be the same?"


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