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There's No Such Thing As a General-Purpose Processor

Sebastopol Re:Transmeta (181 comments)

Thanks for clarifying. I misunderstood in my original post and went "full-rant".

about a month ago
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There's No Such Thing As a General-Purpose Processor

Sebastopol Transmeta (181 comments)

This whole discussion just made me laugh whilst remembering the hype around the Transmeta / Torvalds code-morphing engine.

Ah, the 90's. They were fun.

CPUs have been "general purpose" since day one. The only non-general purpose hardware are ASICs (like the article says). Everything else is just marketing hype from Intel, et al.

This is such an amazing rehash of what Intel used to call *T technologies in the 90's, starting from the 80's, when coprocessors started appearing (x87). The big trend was toward DSPs in the 90's, but that never happened, instead they pushed on new hardware like MMX, SSE and now vector processors. That's why we have graphics processors as non-general-purpose CPUs.

To call something a GPGPU is just an egregious assault of on common sense.

"Dark silicon", while a catchy name, is simply a side effect of latency, something the article mostly skips (hints at it with locality): the memory hierarchy exists and dark silicon is a result. When latency is zero, more of the silicon will be engaged.

While one could easily claim that because parts of any chip power down that means it's not general purpose, that's an oversimplification: 100% utilization is fundamentally impossible because problems aren't solved that way, there is no infinite parallelism.

I really think the author's analysis isn't fully developed. While the conclusion that hardware looks like the software may be a pleasant tautology, it overlooks Turing's thesis entirely. Which is odd, because that's what they author -started- with!

about a month and a half ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

Sebastopol Re:CurrentC does not solve for the Customer (631 comments)

Bank account or debit card?!? That's audacious.

Wow. I'm happy with my old fashioned pieces of plastic.

I have 22 years of Quicken data, 20 years with a credit card, and only 3 fraudulent transactions out of ~16,000.

Financial security: check.
Personal information security: ah jeez....

about 1 month ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

Sebastopol Re:Not a chance (631 comments)

Judging by the # of people on social networks using their real names, I suspect the vast majority of the world will trust the corporation giving you something for "free".

about 1 month ago
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Why CurrentC Will Beat Out Apple Pay

Sebastopol Re:Not a chance (631 comments)

Checks?

What are these "checks" you speak of?

Seriously, I've written one check in 7 years. I thought people under 50 pretty much stopped using them since credit cards and electronic (non-check) transfers are so easy.

about 1 month ago
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Tetris Is Hard To Test

Sebastopol Re:Beware coverage tools (169 comments)

Validation is way more important than writing code. Coding is grunt work that literally anyone can do. There is a huge demand for programmers, and very few are "good" programmers, 90% are just grunts who will never get any better, and that's life due to demand. So you need validation. I wrote and managed RTL development for 15 years at Intel and code coverage is simply mission critical. No other way around it.

If you think being able to "read code" is enough to see all the corner cases, you're either very young, or one of the aforementioned grunts.

about 2 months ago
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Tetris Is Hard To Test

Sebastopol Re:One line? (169 comments)

I'd hire the person in the blink of an eye. That kind of discipline is sorely missing among younger programmers these days.

about 2 months ago
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Soda Pop Damages Your Cells' Telomeres

Sebastopol Re:'Regardless of... income and education level' ? (422 comments)

It would be a huge help to the community if you would read the paper and point out where the study's methods, analysis, or computations are flawed. You lead on like you know quite a bit about this.

about 2 months ago
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5 Million Gmail Passwords Leaked, Google Says No Evidence Of Compromise

Sebastopol How do we actually know? (203 comments)

I could harvest 5m gmail names from google searches, and then publish them with bogus passwords and create panic. Is there some statistic that says how many of these were real passwords? Because wouldn't it be illegal to use them (accessing another person's account w/o their permission is a crime in the USA).

Seems like it would be easy to manufacture a lot of FUD by making these claims w/o really having any passwords at all, and no one could verify it?

about 3 months ago
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E.T. Found In New Mexico Landfill

Sebastopol Notice the landfill? (179 comments)

30 years later and nothing has really happened inside that landfill, just a pile of toxic shit in a gigantic hole. One of tens of thousands.

THAT is the real tragedy here. We just throw shit in holes and move on.

about 8 months ago
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The Ultimate Hopes For the New Cosmos Series

Sebastopol Re:Big shoes to fill this one has (183 comments)

I didn't state my original point clearly enough. If you edited Cosmos to take out Dr. Sagan's lengthy and yawn-inducing monologues about our insignificance in the cosmos, you end up with The Mechanical Universe, which is paced at the speed of top-tier college lecture.

I also don't think it is a problem to match the pace of the lecture with what today's you are accustomed to. When sound was added to cinema in the early 20th century, purists claimed it would ruin the art form. The same thing happened when people actually began to edit with an artistic eye and shots reduced in time from 30-60 seconds to 5-10 (with the advent of new technology). In fact, there was even resistance to technicolor by the French auteurs!

I wouldn't be quick to claim the way I learned, or the way engineers in the 1950's (or 1850's!) learned, or the way you learned is "the one true way." If youth are accustomed to fast-paced editing, then use that form. If you personally don't like it, open a book and learn at your own pace, or launch a Kickstarter. :)

about 10 months ago
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The Ultimate Hopes For the New Cosmos Series

Sebastopol Re:Big shoes to fill this one has (183 comments)

When is the last time you watched the original Cosmos? There are a lot--and I mean A LOT--of scenes featuring Carl sitting on a beach or in a meadow looking off into the distance with pontificating voice-overs that kinda ramble. Believe me, I'm 42 and I grew up on that series, but having re-watched it recently, I was surprised at the large spans of near bloviation that adorn the show. I absolutely adore the series, I just think it could have used some tightening up during editing.

Also, I graduated from COSMOS to The Mechanical Universe, which--aside from the haircuts of the classroom--would still feel modern by today's standards.

about 10 months ago
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The Whole Story Behind Low AP CS Exam Stats

Sebastopol Missing the point (325 comments)

Obvious Men's Rights Activist is obvious.

Sure, if there is a problem where people who want to take the CS AP exam and cannot, it should be addressed.

So start a campaign about it, its a great idea.

But when you position it AGAINST studies citing under-representation of minorities in a field that has long been hostile to them, especially women, you're trying to cover it up and become part of the problem.

So yes, please start a campaign to increase CS AP coverage, and please stop trying to marginalize / cover up another legitimate problem in the process. Both need addressing, it is not either / or.

about a year ago
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You're Only As Hirable As Your Google+ Circles

Sebastopol is twitter next (195 comments)

because if cool people follow you that means your cool too.

about a year ago
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Book Review: Stay Awhile and Listen

Sebastopol where's the research (66 comments)

I realize this is a history of Blizzard, but I find it disappointing when authors write histories of video games and stop at 1990. Diablo didn't set the standard. Wizardry, Ultima, and Might and Magic set the standards for RPGs. Diablo successfully "Michael Bay"d them with 3D and 'splosions and the most robust, practically uncrashable game engines ever seen.

about a year ago
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Man Creates ATLAS Detector From Lego Bricks

Sebastopol Nonfunctional... duh (54 comments)

The whole time I'm reading the article I'm saying to myself, "WTF? How did this guy build a functional ATLAS detector so small and out of legos?"

Functional?

duh... //facedesk

about a year and a half ago
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How Did You Learn How To Program?

Sebastopol Byte and National Computer Camps (623 comments)

I started programming Commodore PETs in 1982, in 5th grade. My teachers had ordered a box full of cassette games and I asked me to evaluate all of them and write a paragraph explaining each game. I wanted to know how the games worked so I started reading the BASIC source code. BASIC is so readable that I was writing my own games in about a month. In 6th grade we had a C64 and I started taking a self directed class for BASIC. My parents bought me an Apple //e (a HUGE fight ensued over the cost). That summer I went to National Computer Camps in Connecticut (back then it was at Westminster Prep School) and learned to program 6502 assembly language.

The rest is history. All of my learning was self-directed. There were no programming classes anywhere in my elementary school or the nearby highschool.

I have fond memories of the sound that a Commodore PET makes when you turn it on... *chink chink chink... bzzzzzzt ... POP*

about a year and a half ago
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3-D Printable Food Gets Funding From NASA

Sebastopol starving kids in africa and cambodia... (242 comments)

...don't care about palatable! i've seen children in cambodia eat bread crusts that are moldy, dirty, and soggy. quite sad, especially when 5U$D can buy enough bags of food to feed 30 kids for a day.

about a year ago
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Ask Neil Gaiman and Amber Benson About Their Kickstarter Vampire Movie

Sebastopol Yay! (103 comments)

...ANOTHER vampire film / franchise!!!

I know, "But this is Neil Gaiman!!!" /facepalm

about a year ago

Submissions

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Tinfoil Hats Amplify Signals

Sebastopol Sebastopol writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Sebastopol (189276) writes "Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason."
Link to Original Source
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Alpha Quitters

Sebastopol Sebastopol writes  |  more than 3 years ago

Sebastopol (189276) writes "The opposite of early adopters, alpha quitters, despise new technology before it's even had a chance to hit the mainstream. FTA: "I felt a bit smug because I had an early invite — but just as I was about to accept, I noticed a post by a tech blogger explaining why he had just quit Google+. That's right, while the rest of us were clamoring to be Early Adopters, this guy was so far ahead of the curve that he had already abandoned the new new thing. He was an Alpha Quitter.""
Link to Original Source

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