Ask Slashdot: An Accurate Broadband Speed Test?
It's hard to know if slow speeds are from your connection or the server you're connecting to or something in between. If you download a linux distro over bit torrent you'll be bypassing any individual server bottleneck and any (except local) general network slow downs. I usually get extremely good speeds from bit torrent, pushing 15 mbit, from my "15 mbit" fios connection. I don't use it a lot so I don't see any alleged throttling from it.
DSLReports or any of that stuff is only useful to determine if you have a decent working internet connection. They should never be used for any sort of benchmarking as one has to assume carriers optimize connections to them to make themselves look good.
Peter Hoddie Talks About His Internet of Things Construction Kit (Video)
If you want to quickly try something out this sounds like a great device. I often have ideas I want to try, but when I sit down & look at all the steps I have to go through to just to see if it's a good idea or not, I almost always put it back on the "when I have time shelf". It would also be an easy way for kids to be able to make something that works within their limited attention span. I plan to get one when they come out.
Open Hardware and Digital Communications Conference On Free Video, If You Help
I do video production and corporate event staging so I know how much it costs to do it well. If $8000 is what they need, I can tell you that it's a bargain basement price. I'm a little tired of trying to show people some great presentation on open source and then apologizing for a video that looks like it was done by a 5th grader. People see that and think it's just another adolescent geek doing a science fair project. I think we're all helped when work that is important to us is shown in a professional way. If this guy is willing to do it for that price, I'm going to the kickstarter page next to donate.
We are used to having big companies throw us freebies all the time. To them it's a drop in the bucket. When an individual or small group does something professional looking, it is a big expense for them. While we're all used to getting things for free on the internet, remember that there is still a price. We have to take what they feel like giving away and it may very well be a bunch of crap, put there for their purposes and not ours.
We can draw a line between sharing and charging money, cooperating and competing. All those things have a place and a time. We need to be able to look at the alternatives like adults. And we need to be willing to put our money where our mouth is.
NVIDIA Is Better For Closed-Source Linux GPU Drivers, AMD Wins For Open-Source
I didn't go through every page so I might have missed it, but were there any tests done using the same game or benchmarks for both closed and open source drivers? It looked like the previous article was using a completely different set of games than this test.
Anybody have links to actual apples to apples comparison? I'm using mostly amd cards for reasons that don't have anything to do with gaming but are opengl based. I'd like to get some idea just how far behind the open drivers are from the closed drivers on any recent fairly high end amd card. I know it depends on exactly what features are used and if a feature isn't available the fps will be zero.
Ellipto: a DIY Fitness Tracker and Dashboard In 70 Lines
This is actually a nice little project. It is what many projects out there should be if they want to be useful to normal people. It has a fairly simple hardware component and a fairly simple software component and a fairly decent reason for being created. My kids could take this as a starting point and within a few days have something physical that they have created and be able to modify it from there to do something useful or educational or both. These are the sorts of projects that should be done in school to show non-geeks they they can make things too.
Is this a slashdot-worthy article? I think it probably belongs on hack-a-day or something like that rather than slashdot, but I don't really care. If you care then you should complain to the moderators about their submission standards and stop beating up on someone who actually did something rather than just whine about how much of an unloved genius they are.
NSA Infiltrated RSA Deeper Than Imagined
I can understand your feelings and I don't completely disagree with them either. However I think the issue is that many if not most people have a line they draw where everything beyond it is personal and private and they do not willingly share this information with people unless it's family or very close friends. There have been suicides over people being "outed" for their sexual preference or other intensely personal things. This is bad enough in the hands of normal bullies, but in the hands of government bullies people can be jailed, legitimate governments destroyed and illegitimate governments upheld. Commercial bullies can use secret information to coerce officials into placing outlandish restrictions on our rights as well. I could of course go on and on.
I am under no illusions that we in fact have any sort of real privacy anymore. I know that ended decades ago. However I think that we have the duty to try to make it difficult for those that want to catalog us in every way, reducing our humanity to data points. I for one will continue to try to shovel back the tide, no matter how pointless it may be.
Killing Net Neutrality Could Be Good For You
Caution, this is a rant:
People want to be able to download as much as they want from anywhere they want for a flat rate. This is childish.
I believe completely in net neutrality. The ISPs are in fact common carriers and should be treated as such.
However net neutrality does not come cheap. People have to pay for what they use in bandwidth the same way they pay for what they use for electricity, water and fuel. Someone who uses 10GB a month should pay ten times as much as someone who uses 1GB a month and they should be able to use 100GB if they can afford it.
This is not a social issue. A poor child doing their homework doesn't need a gigantic feed. It's for people who have nothing better to do than watch netflix and play games.
sorry, but I feel better now...
Evolution of AI Interplanetary Trajectories Reaches Human-Competitive Levels
All we have to do is discover the Spice planet.
Confessions of a Cyber Warrior
then how did a guy with a usb stick steal information from the NSA?
Nano-Suit Protects Bugs From Vacuums
to force field space suits like the Flickinger Field, from Jack McDevitts' Deep Six series.
Microsoft Phases Out XNA and DirectX?
I have some video display code that currently uses triangle strips. I'm planning to change to quads so that geometry correction can be done more easily in my app. I could certainly do it with triangles, but it's just a lot easier with quads. This is used on workstation machines so I'm hoping (although I haven't dived into it yet) that the driver, rather than the hardware, won't have to re-work everything piece by piece.
Clay Shirky On Hackers and Depression: Where's the Love?
I believe that was Steven Wright, but whoever said it was correct
College CIO Predicts Tablets Will Kill Smart Boards
70% of students have LaTeX installed?
The Coming Internet Video Crash
The interstate highway system in the US was built by the government to increase bandwidth on the highways. It made it much easier to get lots of cars and trucks across the country cheaply, and did in fact create a lot of jobs both for the highway workers as well as auto workers. Making the automobile an unalienable right seemed like a good idea in the 50's with 30 cent gas; now, maybe not so much.
The last 30 years or so have made it seem that we might have been better off going more slowly and letting the market decide if highways were better than rail or possibly other transport systems that never got to see the light of day due to unrealistically inexpensive highway travel. It's seems equally obvious at this point in time that more internet bandwidth is also an unalienable right. On the other hand, it's hard to say what unintended consequences might come from mandating perhaps unrealistically inexpensive bandwidth for communications.
I can't think of any reason why cheap unlimited internet bandwidth might be counterproductive. On the other hand cheap unlimited travel seemed like a good idea 60 years ago before pollution and energy became the problems they are now. I think we should pay for the bits we use now at a realistic market rate that isn't skewed by mixing the price of content along with the price of bandwidth to make it seem cheaper.
Blender Debuts Fourth Open Source Movie: Tears of Steel
I was very excited to see this come out & watched it within hours of release. Unfortunately, the very first scene has some of the worst acting/directing I've ever seen. Sure they're teenage actors and this is really a technology demo, not a film for the masses, but it wouldn't have taken much to get this small part right. As soon as I saw that 15 second section I nearly shut if off. I'm glad I didn't because the tech stuff was very interesting, but only to geeks.
While you can argue for hours over what the film does and doesn't get right, it simply is not on the same level as Big Buck Bunny. Everyone I show that to loves it, kids and adults alike, and it gives me the opportunity to talk about open source principles to people who would never know this sort of thing exists.
I would never be able to show this film to people and get that effect because it is in fact just like many Hollywood movies: good effects, but awful writing, directing and acting. It looks like something made by geeks with too much spare time while Big Buck Bunny looks like an old time Disney or Looney Tunes short film: funny and thoughtful with perfect timing.
I'm very sorry to say that this film is a showcase of people's stereotype of geeks.
Creating a Better Chatbot Through Crowdsourcing
I guess it's old news, but this sounds exactly like what was being described in Neil Stephenson's Diamond Age. Actors there were paid to read/act short pieces of text/commands to reply to a young girl's questions. In the story, the girl was asking a book to explain a concept to her. Not much different from what happens with a chatbot.
I guess this might also relate to the earlier post on online math courses. Presumably grad students could be given micropayments to answer specific questions for an online course that the teacher doesn't have the time/inclination to answer.
My real concern in using this sort of thing for important information/decisions is how the answers get moderated quickly. Wikipedia has a pretty good, though certainly not perfect, way to deal with this, but it's not necessarily fast enough for real time issues.
Florian Mueller Outs Himself As Oracle Employee
FM has also been extremely vocal about vp8/webm. While I'm the format certainly has its problems, both technical and legal, I can't help but believe the slow advance of the project is at least partly because a supposed expert on open source spent a lot of his time ranting about it.
I am far from unbiased on the situation since the I feel an unencumbered video codec would make the world a better place. Even knowing my bias, I can't help but be really upset at this revelation. On the other hand all's fair in love & war, so Oracle has a right to hire a shill to promote their agenda.
Maybe the real culprit in this is the wider web's need to have an expert, even a self proclaimed one, tell people what to do so they don't have to do all the work to find the truth themselves.
Jack Tramiel, Founder of Commodore Business Machines, Dies At Age 83
Nice. I did the same thing but I had blocked it out of my memory. I had really forgotten about Gazette and the long listings of code you could type in from the magazine. I'll have to check the basement to see if I have any of them left. I found it really hard to throw that stuff away. I know I still have a 64 down there with an old vic20 keyboard I had mounted and wired in through a multipin connector hot glued into the side of the c64's case. I thought I was one cool cat with a keyboard I could sit back in my chair with. I wasn't afraid to take it apart and just try things with it. I guess it really did change my life.
Power Plant Converts Fruit and Veggie Waste Into Natural Gas For Cars
Actually high cellulose content products don't work much at all. You need a high nitrogen content material (poop is the preferred material, ideally bird stuff because it contains the urine as well). There is a particular ratio of carbon to nitrogen that works best and by using various combinations of poop and different vegetable matter you get a mixture that gives the most methane and the least CO2. Vegetable leaf matter by itself will work, slowly, but produces a much higher CO2 to methane ratio so is not very useful for combustion. I assume that actual fruit and vegatables have higher nitrogen content than the leaves.
I built a few methane digesters in the 70's and I can tell you that it's not as easy as it sounds to actually produce useful amounts of methane. There is a lot of continuous mixing that has to happen or thick viscous mats form and keep things from working right. This consumes energy. You also can't really compress methane much without using more energy to compress it than you get out of it.
Of course if it's armageddon and you have lots of pig poop & crazy midgets to run things, this could actually work.
.NET Gadgeteer — Microsoft's Arduino Killer?
I think this sort of thing could find a lot of use in school programs, whether robotics, engineering or programming courses. Schools would like the MS part and being able to use a "high level" language would make it popular to supplement some programming courses. MS would certainly cut deals on price to get the schools involved.
While all of us here know that it's really simple to program an arduino, or propeller, or for that matter a pic with assembler, I think schools will be able to more easily justify an expense if MS is behind it along with a .net api. While I would prefer them to take a different approach, anything that will get kids into tinkering with home made projects is a very very good thing.
I have a fair amount of experience with assembler and some limited c programming on microcontrollers (mostly pic, but some propeller), but I sometimes wish I could just knock off a quick proof of concept with an easy language and a board with enough power & memory that I don't have to worry too much about how I do things. I'd likely never do that for a real project, but in the end the most important/expensive thing is my time.
If a tool is appropriate for a particular job, I don't think you should lose sleep over whose name is on the box. This is the main reason I rely mostly on open source solutions, and also why I sometimes use closed, propriety ones.
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