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Building Prisons Without Walls Using GPS Devices

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Already used in the UK (545 comments)

Or have you never smoked a joint, pirated a song, attended an anti-government demonstration, or drove over the speed limit?

At least in the United States, attending an anti-government demonstration is not a crime, not even a minor one like the others you list. It is constitutionally protected freedom of speech and assembly.

more than 4 years ago
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Sorting Algorithm Breaks Giga-Sort Barrier, With GPUs

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Um... (187 comments)

Given that the particular hardware setup is detailed here (a GTX 480 achieves the 1 billion keys/sec figure), and the algorithm used (radix sort) has known asymptotic behavior (O(nk) for n keys of length k), 10^9 keys/sec is quite meaningful, particularly since it's a significant implementation challenge (possibly even an algorithmic challenge) to port this algorithm to a GPU.

Furthermore, I think sorting speed is appropriately measured in keys/sec. Big-O does not in fact describe the speed, but rather the upper bound of the growth of an algorithm's asymptotic running time, which needs to be paired with the implementation, architecture, and data set to determine a speed. It turns out the constant factors can actually be quite important in practice.

more than 4 years ago
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Throwing Out Software That Works

PrecambrianRabbit Re:So don't buy a #@^&ing iPad. (622 comments)

I only know two iPhone users (both smug bastards) and three Blackberry users (all stuck up bastards).

Channeling Doctor Cox from Scrubs: "People are bastards. Bastard-coated bastards with bastard filling."

more than 4 years ago
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Gestures With Multitouch In Ubuntu 10.10

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Hardware support is still weak (185 comments)

Out of curiosity, did your dad try installing Ubuntu on that rig? If so, what problems did he encounter?

I ask because I put together a computer for my mother a few months back, with relatively similar specs, and was pretty impressed with both the Windows 7 and Ubuntu 10 install processes. They were both painless experiences; I can't remember either one being technical at all. I certainly didn't have to muck around with the CLI at all (well, that's not quite true - I did have to do some CLI magic to get a USB wireless stick to work, but in W7 it didn't work because there was simply no driver at all available, so I'd call that one a tie, or in Ubuntu's favor).

Point is, you've clearly had some bad experiences with Ubuntu, and you're entitled to your opinion, but I really think the whole user experience for Ubuntu is vastly, vastly better for the majority of users than your experience indicates.

more than 4 years ago
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How Can I Make Testing Software More Stimulating?

PrecambrianRabbit Re:You need to get into Test Driven Development (396 comments)

When you're doing test-driven development, how do you avoid coding too narrowly to the tests? At some point you surely must think about general principles; how does that fit into the framework?

more than 4 years ago
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How Can I Make Testing Software More Stimulating?

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Think of it as writing examples (396 comments)

I am sort of a nut about error messages, partly because I once read the Apple Human Interface guidelines and thought they were a good thing. In particular, does the error message provide the user with information that will help him make the error message go away?

I'm OT, but I wish latex had been developed with this philosophy in mind. I really dread seeing latex spit out screenfuls of unintelligible gobbledygook, followed by a single "?". Oh great, what did I do wrong this time? Latex sure isn't telling me.

C++ is up there (down there?) as well.

more than 4 years ago
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Lucas Promises Star Wars on Blu-Ray in 2011

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Sorry, but many of us disagree (420 comments)

I always imaginged that "Luke's dad Annakin" was going to be, you know, "dad age".

This is an interesting comment, because what is "dad age," anyways? To children, parents seem incalculably old, wise, and experienced. Parents, on the other hand, remember well being angst-ridden teenagers themselves, and that it wasn't so long ago.

more than 4 years ago
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Stupid Data Center Tricks

PrecambrianRabbit Re:bad article is bad (305 comments)

Then you don't make the change. But then the rationale is: "management didn't approve it," instead of "It was this way when I came on board." There are other valid reasons, too; maybe it would be too expensive, maybe the downtime (or risk of downtime) would be too great. But the reason given was "I inherited it," which isn't a good one, in my opinion.

more than 4 years ago
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Eben Moglen Calls To Free the Cloud

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Any tech specs yet? (173 comments)

I couldn't tell you. Even looking at a transcript (which I posted below), I didn't have the patience to cut through all the BS. He says "freedom" or "free" or some permutation thereof pretty much every 15 seconds, which I just couldn't take for more than a few minutes.

more than 4 years ago
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Stupid Data Center Tricks

PrecambrianRabbit Re:bad article is bad (305 comments)

he lesson to be learned isn't that "human errors account for more problems than technical errors" -- it's that your network design is fundamentally flawed.

No kidding. The sysadmin who uttered that quote comes across poorly as well. He makes the excuse: "It was like that when I got here, so I inherited the bad design." Seriously?! Your job title is Network Administrator! Administer the damn network! It's what you were hired to do!

more than 4 years ago
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How Do You Organize Your Experimental Data?

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Use databases! (235 comments)

In my case, yes, the system was exceedingly well documented, and also made use of standard tools (Makefiles, perl and bash scripts, etc.).

But I don't think documentation is a panacea if the tool used is particularly rarified. Perhaps the DBA in question (this is purely hypothetical now) set something up using Oracle, and then left. Now, maybe it's easy enough to use as the interface for SQL queries and the like, but what happens if there are major reorganizations that really do require specialized knowledge? Can you document all possible contingencies? Without simply giving enough learning materials for the user to become a DBA? (I have no idea, honestly, since I don't have any experience with high-end DBs, I can't say anything about how hard it is to maintain one, so I'm more making a general point rather than a specific one.)

more than 4 years ago
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'Wi-Fi Illness' Spreads To Ontario Public Schools

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Mod the summary funny (663 comments)

In 5th grade, I always felt sick during math class, which was taught by a teacher that I really didn't like.

In my defense, their understanding of mathematics would have made any thinking person ill :-D.

more than 4 years ago
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'Wi-Fi Illness' Spreads To Ontario Public Schools

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Predictable (663 comments)

they trust someone with MD after their name (as if it's not a diploma mill degree anyway) more than an engineer or physicist.

Er, doesn't that behavior make sense? I wouldn't let a medical doctor to write a compiler for me, and I wouldn't let an engineering Ph.D. remove my appendix. The fact that alternative medicine is bullshit doesn't seem like a reason to disparage M.D.s.

more than 4 years ago
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The Hidden Security Risk of Geotags

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Help! (175 comments)

WHERE IS MY TIN FOIL HAT?!?!

See, if your pictures of your tinfoil hat had geolocation data attached on them, you'd be able to find it!

more than 4 years ago
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How Do You Organize Your Experimental Data?

PrecambrianRabbit Re:Use databases! (235 comments)

Depending on the size and stability of the GPs research budget, that may not be practical. I worked on a fairly large academic research team (by EE/CS standards) that had the budget to hire a few full-time staff members for certain things. After the main implementation push the project wound down a bit, and those staff moved on to other jobs, leaving the grad students to maintain the infrastructure. That was fine as it was, but could have been massively not-fine if the staff had used complex tools that required specialized knowledge that the students didn't have, and would have to divert their energies from research to tool-learning.

Basically, if you're hiring a DBA, make sure that you can keep them on staff indefinitely.

more than 4 years ago
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Rupert Murdoch Plans a Digital Newspaper For the US

PrecambrianRabbit Re:"We'll have young people reading newspapers." (237 comments)

I was thinking about that, but I think I'm not enough of a multi-tasker for that to work well for me. I'd probably either (a) pay too much attention to the radio, and be less effective/efficient with my engineering, or (b) tune out the radio entirely and not absorb anything.

Although, maybe I could listen while cooking. Haven't done too much cooking lately though, unfortunately :-/

more than 4 years ago
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Rupert Murdoch Plans a Digital Newspaper For the US

PrecambrianRabbit Re:"We'll have young people reading newspapers." (237 comments)

They don't want to read their news. They'd rather hear it (radio) or see it (TV, streaming videos).

I'd be really curious to see statistics on this. I'm probably on the upper end of the youth demographic, and the only way I get news is by reading it. I think TV news is mostly a waste of time, radio is too inefficient compared to quickly scanning an article, and streaming video is the worst of the two -- most of the "stories" delivered by video are just fluffy human interest pieces, or clips that have some spectacle to them. (Of course, this is all my personal experience, and I don't believe I'm necessarily typical. Hence, I'd like statistics.)

Naturally, I don't read printed newspapers, I read their websites. At least, the ones not behind a paywall.

more than 4 years ago
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Startups a Safer Bet Than Behemoths

PrecambrianRabbit Stupid statistic (378 comments)

I will rarely criticize anything as harshly as this, but, it has to be said: some of the analysis in this article could be used as a chapter in How to Lie with Statistics.

For example, the article cites Tim Kane's "analysis" that shows that startups were responsible for all US job creation since 1977. His proof of this is to take all the net jobs created by firms existing for one year or less and compare that to the net job creation of companies existing for more than one year.

Seriously, what kind of a piss-poor business can't manage to last a year? The least successful businesses I've ever seen, those one-off restaurants that crop up and then die, manage to last a year before their owners realize they're throwing away money. So, basically that data set lumps together a whole bunch of positive numbers in one category, and dumps all the negatives in the other.

Now, the analysis in the cited article does get more nuanced than that, and it does, eventually, explain what I just said. But, it's very, very easy to get a misleading opinion from that presentation, and the linked article seems to perpetuate that misperception.

more than 4 years ago

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