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Research Shows RISC vs. CISC Doesn't Matter

RabidReindeer Re:isn't x86 RISC by now? (159 comments)

x86 instructions, are in fact, decoded to micro opcodes, so the distinction isn't as useful in this context.

They're not the only ones. The IBM mainframes have long been VMs implemented on top of various microcode platforms. In fact, one of the original uses of the 8-inch floppy disk was to hold the VM that would be loaded up during the Initial Microprogram Load (IMPL), before the IPL (boot) of the actual OS. So in a sense, the Project Hercules mainframe emulator is just repeating history.

Nor were they unusual. In school I worked with a minicomputer which not only was a VM on top of microcode, but you could extend the VM by programming to the microcode yourself.

The main differences between RISC and CISC, as I recall were lots of registers and the simplicity of the instruction set. Both the Intel and zSeries CISC instruction sets have lots of registers, though. So the main difference between RISC and CISC would be that you could - in theory - optimize "between" the CISC instructions if you coded RISC instead.

Presumably somebody tried this, but didn't get benefits worth shouting about.

Incidentally, the CISC instruction set of the more recent IBM z machines includes entire C stdlib functions such as strcpy in a single machine-language instruction.

4 days ago

Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

RabidReindeer Re:The US slides back to the caves (522 comments)

Riiiiight. And you don't eat French fries, you eat FREEDOM fries.

So there.

Who says we don't do metric? They can hardly keep those 3-liter bottles of Coke on the shelves at Wal-Mart!

5 days ago

Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

RabidReindeer Re:The US slides back to the caves (522 comments)

Because of the size of the population (which exceeds that of all Europe)

It always surprise me how americans see the world: in their head.

Europe: population is 742 millions
USA: population is 352 millions

Yes, there are people outside the USA, and MUCH MUCH more than inside. And you still don't know it and display your ignorance right out there for everyone to see... Nice job, really.

Then there's Indonesia. Population approx. 247 million. Most of them MUSLIM!

There's other continents besides Europe and North America, too.

To be fair, Europe is a continent while the United States is a country. A more accurate comparison would be North America versus Europe, which would be 742M to 565M. Of course the continent of Europe includes Russia, which most people don't include. Take out Russia and the two populations are very closely matched. If you want to compare by country, then the US still is many times larger than most European countries.

5 days ago

Limiting the Teaching of the Scientific Process In Ohio

RabidReindeer Re:The US slides back to the caves (522 comments)

Of course the continent of Europe includes Russia, which most people don't include.

I think you'll find that most people include Russia as part of Europe.

Or maybe it's Russia the considers Europe as part of them.

5 days ago

IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch

RabidReindeer Re:That ship has already sailed. (113 comments)

Unfortunately, while it's true that CEOs may think that they're getting something special from IBM, those days are long gone.

I worked at a Fortune company in the 1990s with 2 IBM mainframes, but getting OS/2 support was a lost cause. Even when IBM managed to dig up someone competent, they'd leave IBM within months.

I've been working on a project for 2 years that's supposed to work on an iSeries machine, but for some reason the database is really crawling for network clients. IBM finally put someone on the case back in March, but has only half-heartedly helped. Still nothing usable.

The sale rep may roll up in a Mercedes, but the sad truth is that the actual work has been handed off to the cheapest people they could hire. It was really frustrating back in 1996 when I could easily find help for Linux, which had no major corporate supporter at the time, than I could get help for OS/2, with allegedly the support of one of the largest computer companies in the world.

I believe in paying for quality, but where's the quality?

5 days ago

Net Neutrality Is 'Marxist,' According To a Koch-Backed Astroturf Group

RabidReindeer Re: What's so American (525 comments)

In the context of a single argument, you are correct. However, in the scope of society as a whole, public shaming of people who are willfully ignorant would hopefully serve to discourage those who see it as a badge of honor to argue a topic while being completely ignorant of the facts. However, I would be happy if we could at least drop the anti-intellectualism which permeates US culture.

It won't work. Some people are so proud of their ignorance that they brag about it before launching into assertions based on "common sense" instead of knowledge.

about a week ago

Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

RabidReindeer Re:My opinion on the matter. (810 comments)

What problems do you have with journald? Do you know, that you can trivially redirect all logs into rsyslogd or directly into plain text files?

"Trivially redirect" isn't the same thing as "no extra work required." Besides, why waste resources duplicating logs?

about a week ago

Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

RabidReindeer Re:My opinion on the matter. (810 comments)

I think, for a lot of people, they don't have the challanges that systemd solves.

Conversely, systemd daily inserts problems that never existed before.

Actually they did. I dealt with binary log formats in Windows, OS/2, and IBM's mainframes. IBM has a really bad habit of creating a different binary format logfile for every app, complete with special binary utilities to be able to read them in any way you like - as long as it's a way IBM supports.

The old text logfiles might not be as tidy, but I constantly string together strange concatenations of the text utilities to garner critical information from them. Something that's nowhere near as easy when the logs are in binary form.

What systemd reminds me of is the Windows Registry. A fine concept that turned out to be a nightmare in practice.

about a week ago

Choose Your Side On the Linux Divide

RabidReindeer Re:My opinion on the matter. (810 comments)

This is the problem with systemd, Gnome 3 and a lot of other recent stuff.

Unix was originally designed rather like a tinkertoy set. The individual parts might not be very smart, but you could glue them together however you wanted. A "RISC" architecture, if you will.

Recent "improvements" to Linux have attempted to be all-in-one solutions. By making them one-size-fits-all, you lose useful, important, sometimes critical functionality. Because no one system can be all things to all people. It's a "CISC" solution, and what you are left with is what the designed wanted you to have, not what you wanted to have.

So that's the Great Divide. Turn into another Apple, where you can have any solution you want as long as it's the one the providers want to give you or retain the original spirt of the system, and allow it to be powerful at the expense of the presumed masses who'd gladly chuck Windows if only Linux was more friendly to the casual user.

about a week ago

If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

RabidReindeer Re:What's the point? (508 comments)

The problem is what's the point of Java?

If speed is absolutely critical, you're going to go with C/C++/ASM/whatever native-compiled-language works well for your problem.

The 1980's called and they want their outdated assertions back.

One thing that Java does that "native-compiled" languages do not is provide an environment where code performance can be monitored and optimized automatically on the fly.

An example: Back when instructions typically took a determinate number of CPU cycles, a conditional branch instruction might take 2 cycles for no-branch and 3 cycles for a branch. If you were clever, you coded for the case where the no-branch result was the default. But if you guessed wrong or conditions changed, you were stuck with the "wrong" code and thus sub-optimal. A good JVM can sense that and rewite the code, flipping the branch to the more optimal state.

A JVM is no light thing to crank up and operate, so you cannot expect benefits from small simple programs. But as apps get bigger, more complex, and longer-running, the balance changes. It's prohibitively expensive to re-optimize a complex system by hand, but doing so automatically can be much cheaper as you scale up. The same sort of result improvements have been benchmarked between brute-force manual SQL and ORM systems.

Yes, Java is cumbersome. I don't use it for quick-and-dirty stuff. I do use it for industrial-grade work where robustness, security, and scalability are important, especially since there is an extremely rich add-on and support environment for it.

And, of course, for Android, since Android is optimized to run Java.

Scripting languages are my bane. As I mentioned elsewhere, they make you look more productive than you are. And they're almost universally terrible at preventing many common errors that a more rigorous (a/k/a/ less "productive") language can easily detect before they infect something critical.

But, speaking of outdated assertions, a lot of scripting languages also compile to machine code these days. And when not, often to something quite close to it.

about a week ago

If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

RabidReindeer Re:that depends (508 comments)

Be careful what you ask for. All that typing means that you can find and fix a lot of bugs in the compile step. With dynamically typed languages, you get to find those bugs at runtime. Maybe that is why other posters here believe that Java is for the B programmers.

Precisely. The problem is, that if you design things out ahead of time, it takes longer before you are at the point where you can show "results".

The spirit of the times is instant gratification. The faster you can get from basic premise to displayed web pages, the better you look.

Your actual architecture may be paper-maché over balsa wood and chicken-wire, but if you can show something visible to the PHB and the users ASAP, you're "productive". Even though in a month's time, the whole sysem may end up crashing and destroying vital data. Or worse, sharing it with various unsavory people who broker such things to even less desirable people.

about a week ago

If Java Wasn't Cool 10 Years Ago, What About Now?

RabidReindeer Re:I hope not (508 comments)

Java owes little to Ada. Ada has one of the most rigorous data typing systems of any programming language, but its roots are in Pascal, and thence descend to Algol.

Java's syntactic roots come from C through C++, which added OOP capabilities.

C# is somewhat of a zig-zag. In part, it's Microsoft's alternative after they were prevented from hijacking Java. In part, it's reaching back to C++. Along the way, they attempted to cure some of Java's warts.

One bit of irony. Both Java and C# are programming languages designed and "owned" by private organizations, each of which also owns at least one major OS. Java users always had a high degree of confidence that Sun would never abuse that position and attempt to use Java to lock them into Solaris. C# never enjoyed that confidence, which is why there's precious little C# work done on the non-Windows OS's.

about a week ago

When Customer Dissatisfaction Is a Tech Business Model

RabidReindeer Re:Fleeing abusive companies? (257 comments)

What do they mean "tech companies"?

The abuse began back when telephone menus replaced human operators, music-on-hold by the hour became the norm ("Please stay on the line. Your call is VERY important to us.") and service in general became self-serve or no-serve.

And hasn't been solely a tech company thing. It's been an every company thing.

In fact, I dropped a pest control company in favor of a competitor because the competitor didn't run me through phone menu hell just to get them to come out, inspect, and get paid.

about two weeks ago

The 2014 Hugo Awards

RabidReindeer Re:You cant make much writing Science Fiction (180 comments)

It's different. Although one of the things that's a little annoying is that while he implies that a lot of the damage to the world's food supplies may be deliberate and ongoing, he never has anyone actually say that or even grumble, accuse or try and fight back. The closest approximation is where Thailand isolates itself and does internal purges.

The kink-spring concept is original, but nobody seems to have a clue about other renewable energy sources. He apparently never saw the YouTube video where someone took the fresnel lens out of an old flat-screen TV and used it to smelt metal. You could probably refine silicon for solar cells that way. Then again, since everybody seems to be running on the ragged edge, maybe they just can't spare the extra effort.

about two weeks ago

The 2014 Hugo Awards

RabidReindeer Re:4th Doctor is BEST Doctor. Scientific fact. (180 comments)

Well, given the era in which it was produced, the Tin Man sure looks like a robot. That should count.

Actually, he does qualify as a cyborg or something like that.

He was built by a sort of reverse-Cyberman upgrade process. Limb by limb.

about two weeks ago

China Pulls Plug On Genetically Modified Rice and Corn

RabidReindeer Re:Wow (152 comments)

And they would leave the company with a $25M golden parachute. Because we're a meritocracy.

about two weeks ago

Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

RabidReindeer Re:Infrastructure? (727 comments)

The difference is that Linux desktop comes running out of the box.

I had to use Windows 7 the other day for the first time in 6 months, repairing someone's failed Windows Update.

After the system was all cleaned up, I clicked the login button. And waited. And waited. And waited. And watched the disk drive light flicker like nobody's business. And waited. All those "essential" accessories starting up, disk scans, mysterious machine-eating magic, all shouldering themselves between me and being able to do anything.

I'm not in love with the current crop of Linux desktops, but at least I can begin using the bloody things within a few seconds of logging on.

about two weeks ago

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

RabidReindeer Re:Huge? (108 comments)

That was my first thought. 2400 square feet is hardly a "huge" "estate". I grew up in a 2,250 square foot house. 3 bedrooms, bonus room, and large living room. It didn't have a parlor, music room, den, study, library, conservatory, servant's quarters, etc.

How perfectly horrible. How did you manage?

Did you camp the servants out back in the garden?

about two weeks ago

Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

RabidReindeer Re:So? (96 comments)

The point of all this isn't to record phone conversations. Some of the agencies likely to exploit this particular weakness have more than enough clout to tap the main communications channel for that.

The accelerometer exploit is a very low-quality audio sampler. Sample range tops out at about 200/second, IIRC. Enough to get a muffled audio, but nowhere near opera-quality.

However, it's something that someone could do to monitor room conversations when the phone isn't on a call. And current access controls don't provide enough protection. One of the most promising solutions is simply to limit sample rates to something relatively useless like 50/second.

Then again, if all you want is to detect basic acoustical vibrations, even that would be enough to tell people to turn on their "houseplant audio monitors".

You can also get good audio off the reflections of a tinfoil hat.

about two weeks ago

Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

RabidReindeer Re: A profitable business idea ... (96 comments)

Just don't use that device anywhere public. Or on a public network because they can snoop on you that way.

Yes, I'll just go home and surf. I'm sure I'll be perfectly safe from spying there.

After all, I trust my ISP so much that I don't even consider them a "public" network anymore. They gave me a custom home page that goes right to THEIR website, so it must be private, right? And look here, this systray icon even has their logo! I am so loved I'm practically an employee.

Mine too! . It's SSL, so I know I can trust it!

about two weeks ago


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