top Compared to my 1st computer's memory ...
My first computer - Texas Instruments TI-99/4A - technically only had 256 bytes of RAM directly available to CPU. Thanks, Grandpa - it was a gift from him at the tender age of 5.
And I'm still *only* using 8GB today... ha!
Looks like I'm at 31,250,000x also.
top NASA Wants To Test 3-D Printing Aboard ISS
How about inventing/building a 3-D printer *IN* the ISS that takes advantage of the fact that there is zero gravity?
I mean, the print head could literally be floating and move in nearly any x/y/z direction freely. It would only need to be attached to the spool or whatever supplies the material to it, and a means of propulsion/movement within the space it is "printing" in.
Yeah, it's a silly idea and probably makes no sense. Just daydreaming.
top Interviews: Ask Freeman Dyson What You Will
In my understanding, the concepts of nuclear pulse propulsion that were investigated in the Orion Project had the highest real potential for generating enormous energies required for "faster" travel in space than anything we have, even today. I have always felt that it is a tragedy that this research couldn't be taken further into our modern realities of exploration.
Today, we have NASA exploring the potential (on a very small scale) of faster than light (FTL) travel using ideas such as the
Alcubierre drive. In common discussion, we now hear about things such as: dark matter, quantum teleportation, FTL particles in the form of cosmic rays, the likely discovery of the Higgs Boson, spacetime, etc. These appear, to the layman like myself, to be serious discussions, with new realities and new possibilities being discovered every day.
The entirety of the NASA space program as we know it has developed within the last 60 years.
Given the advances in technology we have made in such a short time, the laws of physics, and the realities of the politics of our world, do you think it is feasible that we will develop the ability for very fast, near or faster-than-light travel in the next 60 years, and which direction seems the most feasible to you?
Thank you for your contributions to science, I am humbled to be able to ask this question of you!
about a year and a half ago
top MemSQL Makers Say They've Created the Fastest Database On the Planet
As someone who programs in Pick/D3 still every day (a skill I picked up working for a company with a legacy product), as well as having had worked in pretty much every SQL product that exists, I am both startled and amazed to see it mentioned on Slashdot. I think this is the first time I've ever seen anyone mention it!!!
And I am in agreement - Pick was something truly different which could have been as big as SQL - multi-value, "NoSQL"-ish which still had a query engine, fast, little to no maintenance, loosely structured among other things. Unfortunately, due to the marketing practices of the company that made the product (now Tigerlogic), the former leader (Dick Pick... what a guy..) and various other corporate cultural issues, it has languished as an artifact of history.... but it still has important lessons to learn and teach, and it still runs a lot of systems!
For that matter, while some today don't realize it, many NoSQL databases today bear a startling resemblance to systems like Pick, MUMPS, Cache, Universe, etc.
top Verizon To Kill All Unlimited Data Plans
Ok, fine, you don't want us to have unlimited plans anymore.
If a customer has an unlimited plan (grandfathered in), and Verizon ceases offering it, what will they offer in return?
It sure would be nice if common practice was, when they take something away, they give you something in return.
What is the exchange? Lower rates/costs? Better network performance? Higher throughput?
Don't have anything to give after you take away "unlimited", Verizon? Then give the customer the reason you MUST do it. Prove to the customer that this is necessary, at the very least.
Show the customer a convincing, legitimate reason to stay, or they're going to wonder why you're simply "taking away from them".
Don't just take and take and take and take - that's what the customer doesn't like.
The customer is not stupid, but can easily be misinformed, and perception is everything.
top The Inside Story of Virgin Oceanic's Mission To the Mariana Trench
I was interested in the sub's specs - the glass cockpit "dome" is apparently made of quartz. The only other subs with these kinds of domes that I've seen that can get to these depths without being crushed by the enormous pressures use some type of borosilicate glass. My understanding is the only difference between the two types of glass is the amount of silica (SiO2) in them.
Looks like a race to the bottom - I think the other company was Triton submarines that used the borosilicate glass domes. Whatever it is - it is fascinating to see the use of these materials which actually get stronger under pressure!
top New Opa S4 Release Puts Forward New 'ORM' For MongoDB
To take CREATE VIEW one step further, I was dreaming about something like this - given guaranteed always on network connectivity with plentiful bandwidth (I know, unrealistic, but just follow me for a moment), imagine that the view actually existed in the software layer separated by the network from the database. That the view could exist on the client, but the data on the server at all times. This is what I mean by disconnected - not so much that the data has to live on the client, but that the view is not database-resident.
Imagine running a CREATE VIEW statement that actually created an access method to the database that LOOKED like an object model. Heck, should be no problem, after all this is kind of what ORMs are trying to do - create an updateable "view" of the database for the client to use to update the server. Heck, here's a crazy idea - why can't the server update the "view" in the client, if we always had an open connection (see long polling?). Well, at least if the impedence mismatch of needing SQL to get from the code to the database was not there (rather an "object interface"), things are a little nicer.
Also, imagine a dynamic object, for example - one in which you can just set the value of a property, but in the programming environment, you can intercept that operation and see oh, look, this is Person # 123 and the property Last Name is being set, why, I'll go update the database while I update the object. Imagine all changes to data in objects going straight through to the database instead of going through a complex ORM layer (yes, of course, too much traffic to the database with millions of little writes?). This is what happens when the database, and the code, are directly connected. And no, the object doesn't have to LOOK like the database, although it can. Just like a view doesn't need to look like the tables it represents, although it can. Also note, updateable views are possible when a SQL engine can determine how to decompose an update and update related tables (although almost no database can do it when there are joins involved). So updateable objects that work like views seem totally doable. Ironically, already kind of done if you consider MUMPS for example, which had persistent storage by simply going: SET ^Person("123","LastName")="Bob", right in the language itself - just didn't look like a strongly typed object.
Ironically, I am actually a strong relational supporter, and have personally built at least one major relational database that scaled up to several terabytes in the area of large scale fraud detection. So, I am familiar with, and have a deep respect for Boyce, Codd, Chris Date, the relvar, relational algebra and set logic, Inmon, Kimball, data warehousing, OLTP vs OLAP, to name a few.
I am not a "node.js" front-end web cowboy with no understanding of database technology..... and boy, did I have my fill of database replication, in SQL Server, specifically. It worked, but it could be a bear at times. I urge you - if you haven't looked into what the latest distributed relational databases can do (or even go back to Teradata which is expensive but has a long history of distributed scaling) - ACID is totally possibly, performance can be increased, and it's nowhere near as difficult as replication - it DOES work. It turns out that relational operations work really well at being decomposed and distributed in a similar fashion to map/reduce algorithms (see the
work of the late Dr Jim Gray, a former top database researcher from Microsoft).
Furthermore, I am currently working a job using a legacy MULTIVALUE database - for fun, if you haven't read up on Pick/D3 or OpenQM, check them out. Most people don't even know what a MV database is, but to understand where I'm coming from, you'd need to know more about the history of what well could have been if a few technology choices had been different in the past. Not to say I'm unhappy with how things did turn out - I think every technology is unique and interesting, but I have a fairly reasonably different viewpoint because of working with older technologies, and newer ones both.
I also agree that, I personally feel that the acronym NoSQL (which we have been told really means "Not Only SQL") was actually really something different, a bit of an underhanded jab - I think they should have called in NoRelational - because that to me seems to be a deeper crux of what is really going on here. After all, SQL is a query language - who cares what database it runs against (although it clearly was designed with relations in mind), but that doesn't mean it necessarily had to run against a relational database. Ultimately, NoSQL is another technology for the toolbag, and a new direction for people to research.
I am interested in what could be (as evidenced by my "dreaming"). I see, based on our short memory of past history, our long recent successes with relational databases, and the new developments in NoSQL databases, a new possibility - some sort of hybrid which is a mix of technologies, and something that truly can achieve a lot of aims that we all have (distributed systems, connectivity, less mismatch, data integrity, etc). And I see this possibility manifested in the kind of thought that happened in this Opa project. New thought should be encouraged, not discouraged, and hopefully, these new thoughts root themselves in solid solutions and learn from the past as much as they look to the future.
top New Opa S4 Release Puts Forward New 'ORM' For MongoDB
Hows about "create view" ?
We're not talking about views that live in the database. You don't "create view" in C++, but in the end, aren't objects just structured data + behavior? Objects can act as a bridge to data which gives it meaning through structure, and function. Map data structure (in my programming language) direct to data storage (in my database), with little in between, even if my data structure is on one physical machine, and my storage is on another.
ACID + disconnected databases = oxymoron
It depends on how you define ACID. You can have an ACID transaction happen in a database on your phone, which then syncs to a database on your server with an ACID transaction. Other than a time delay in the transaction, what is the difference? I mean disconnected more in the sense like, in this case, a data structure is really just a direct map/representation of a model in a database. In that kind of scenario, when the connection between database and application is severed, yes, you don't get ANY transactions, but maybe you could work with disconnected data and sync up later. Furthermore, ACID and DISTRIBUTED data works - see any massively parallel relational database implementation like Teradata, SQL Server Parallel Datawarehouse, MySQL Cluster, etc.
Thinking you can treat online and disconnected databases the same since they are both "databases" = dellusional.
Well, of course they are not the SVOT (single version of the truth) if there are two copies of one piece of data. However, if the data I need is in my disconnected database, and it synchronizes with an online database as soon as one is available, it's hard but not dellusional. Plenty of apps try to use offline storage as a cache when disconnected from the main data store, for example.
dynamic data model = see self modifying code
Yup, so now give me lots of implementations and make them easy to use.
http based Implementations of the idea of REST suck for anything but trivial CRUD.
That's probably true in some cases, but I wouldn't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater - if you have control of the REST stack, you can expose anything you want from your application code or your database, as long as you follow REST principles.
Shared nothing + crappy schema = so much for scalability.
That's not necessarily true if your code is the interface to your database and if your code enforces the necessary constraints so that your database can play dumb. But generally, yeah, if you don't structure and define rules for your data (schema), then sure you will have problems
Until singularity time schema design is and shall remain more important than selection or use of underlying technology.
Hmm, I don't know about you, but the singularity happening is cool by me. I mean, I'm not saying it will or it is... but it would be cool.
Scalable, consistant/reliable and easy to design... pick any two.
That's why it's a dream... but all progress depends on the unreasonable man!
top New Opa S4 Release Puts Forward New 'ORM' For MongoDB
It's important that we don't forget the past, but also that we open our minds to new possibilities in the future. I agree with your sentiment- I don't like "the next shiny widget which really just reinvents the wheel" kind of thinking either, and I certainly won't defend it.
That said, I think things like Opa represent a nice take on abstraction in that the mismatch between the technologies that are being interfaced is conceptually much lower (data structures <-> data storage with less in the way), so the necessary abstraction is less complex. It's nice to see it working for them. Sure there are some glaring oddities, like why call it ORM if there are no objects - but I think it's the inspiration, not the implementation that matters.
If I spent all day writing C or assembly operating in my own little world on my own timetable, I could build anything I want, interface it however I wanted to, abstract it however I felt like. I could do that even in higher-level languages. But "application developers", operating at high levels of abstraction, would be quite pleased with any improvements in the underlying abstractions that makes their code/systems faster, less complex, and/or conceptually easier to understand. That is probably even true of low-level programmers.
This kind of reduction in complexity seems to be happening a lot lately - look at Windows 8 - Microsoft is doing more work in C++ and lower levels and seems to be moving more abstract concepts to a lower level in the stack, and also encouraging use of more concrete programming concepts. From the outside it looks like the moves they are making are adding a lot more abstractions and complexity, but I think that's partially because they are trying to maintain previous ways of doing things, while advancing the core.
In my opinion, the more we can reduce abstraction over the long run, the better.
top New Opa S4 Release Puts Forward New 'ORM' For MongoDB
...interesting things happen. I have always felt that the object-relational impedance mismatch was a mental block holding back the redevelopment of something we actually used to have (integrated programming tool/database platforms - look at things like D3, Cache/MUMPS for example).
Now, we know we can separate the representation of data in a database from the data itself, but the two can look identical, with a middleware as the go-between between the programming tools and the database. Or they can co-habit.
It doesn't matter what you call it, but I like it.
My dream environment = perfect representation of data in flexible/dynamic objects in a programming language, disconnected or connected to databases with nearly identical, flexible and dynamic data model representation, with a powerful query language (SQL-like), the scalability of the new generation of shared-nothing architectures, simple connectivity options (simple sockets all the way up to REST) and the reliability of a relational database's ACID properties.
It feels so close!
top Skin Cancer Drug Reverses Alzheimer's Symptoms In Mice
Maybe somebody needs to connect the people who discovered this with the folks at the Taub Institute and Harvard as mentioned in this previous Slashdot article -
"Alzheimer's Transmission Pathway Discovered". My grandfather (RIP), one of the smartest people I knew and loved dearly, suffered at the hands of Alzheimer's/dementia. I am not a scientist with enough knowledge to make a difference here, but I sure wish I could do something other than donate $$ to the researchers to help us win this battle. I'm just hoping with fingers crossed that the right people are connecting - there have been a lot of interesting discoveries - and that if the solution is found, it is made accessible and available.
top Steve Jobs Dead At 56
Thank you for inspiring millions and helping make some really cool dreams into realities.
top Ask William Shatner Whatever You'd Like
Does the world still need "classic" Star Trek, the story that not only entertained us, but fueled the imaginations of many?
top How Adobe Flash Lost Its Way
For that matter, the proprietary mobile "app" world sometimes makes me feel like I'm sadly regressing to the Internet as seen the way some application wants me to see it (not in it's native format of HTML), an uncomfortable feeling that reminds me of what it was like to browse the web with the AOL client years back- just a lot bit more modular. The "free native" Internet allowed for a lot of openness (view source, open protocols, for example) and experimentation - something that before was hindered by a single "UI" design and single infrastructure before.
That said, it's not like the new "app" world is all bad - there are some standards there like those set by the Apple App Store and supporting iOS framework that have allowed a ton of cool apps that are simple and effective to flourish. I just dislike the claustrophobic feeling of getting stuck in any one person's way or view I am getting so much these days.
top Scientists Plan "Artificial Volcano" Climate Experiment
Presumably a balloon would not even need to be detonated - it could be made to explode from the pressure changes in the atmosphere as it ascends - although it may not release its particles at a desirable altitude in that model. Then there is the release of whatever gas was used (helium) in the balloon, although I don't know what effect that would have on the atmosphere.
top Researchers Design Memory-Strengthening Implant
Did anybody else read this and think of the singularity? I sure did.
top Project Icarus: the Gas Mines of Uranus
I like this direction of thinking, personally.
Some of our best and brightest minds in space exploration today have already pointed out that the International Space Station represents a test-bed for sustainability in many ways, and an ecosystem controlled and defined by human activity. Sustainability is one of the greatest goals for humanity, if not the greatest!
Also, to think that all the major advancements in space exploration have happened in, what, the last 40-50 years? What could we do if we really put our minds to it? It's hard to know what benefits could be had, and I think that's always been a challenge - showing the present value of something whose benefit is reasonably unpredictable. We need entrepreneurs and risk-takers to take stabs at these challenges because it is these groups of people who help us quantify, discover and explore what the actual benefits are. Lastly, it's not about failing - it's about what we will not learn by not trying!
top Is Process Killing the Software Industry?
This is why things like "Google Labs" exist, in my opinion. Just imagine if every company had a formal "Labs" entity within IS/IT. The only problem is that being able to have a free-flowing anything goes R&D-type department (which is separate from your ordinary every-day "structured" or process-based type department) usually requires corporate support, a company of a certain size, enough people, or enough discipline to separate R&D time from planned/organized/structured time.
I believe the core purpose behind Agile methods was originally to support what comes naturally to most developers, which is light-process and getting things done incrementally (which as I recall, is even a practice used in total quality management/TQM). So, really, many of us do "agile" intrinsically in some form, unless you work in a monolithic situation, a large company, one that makes complex or very expensive products that require lots of up-front planning/documentation, or one that requires traditional SDLC/waterfall/project-planning type processes.
If you built an aircraft carrier using agile methods, vs traditional project planning, I wonder, what would the difference be?
top Voyager Set To Enter Interstellar Space
Congratulations to the engineers working on the original project all those years ago.
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Ed Stone at a recent NASA event, one of those chief engineers, if only briefly. It really is stunning to think of these most-distant man-made objects and what it must be like where they are.
When I asked him how he felt knowing that something he worked on was so far away, his answer was quite short and honest in a humble engineering sort of way: "pretty fantastic"! So absolutely fantastic, indeed!
Whence has the spirit of exploration gone, and how can we keep it strong?
Oh, and when was the last time it needed a reboot?
top How the Social Tech Bubble Is Different
A friend of mine just got a job as a research physicist studying fusion, after a few other career moves in real estate, big oil companies etc. In his own words, it is "real science, a real job, and a real pursuit". I'm somewhat inclined to agree with him.
I'm with you - I build business software applications for a living, and it pays the bills and affords a certain degree of freedom. However, at the end of the day I find myself struggling to answer the question, "what will the lasting contribution of my work to our lives or society be?". I don't need to be famous, but will I have contributed anything other than just my existence? Perhaps it doesn't matter if I make a major contribution or not, or maybe we make them without even knowing it.
That said, I'd much rather be figuring out how to mitigate human suffering, contributing in a meaningful way to human knowledge or simply be researching how to make living/surviving in extreme conditions (i.e. the "new" weather patterns on our planet, space, underwater) better.