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IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch

bored Re:"2-socket system" (112 comments)

If the workload naturally fits into more nodes of smaller size, it frequently makes sense to opt for the higher node count. There is of course different break points depending on judgement calls, but most places seem to think of two sockets as about the sweet spot.

That describes the problem I work on, the throughput scales pretty nice as the machine size grows, but the costs of the larger machines grow much faster than their performance. So, it is far more cost effective to ship a few 2 socket machine with higher clocked processors than try to cram it all into one or two large machines.

But! While the throughput of the larger machines scales, their latency does not. In fact for the latency sensitive portions of our application we are far better off with smaller machines with faster ram, faster clocked CPU's , and closer IO busses. There are points where its actually impossible to buy better latency than we get for just a couple grand in our mid-range machine.

2 days ago
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IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch

bored Re:That ship has already sailed. (112 comments)

The pricing I saw a couple months ago didn't even approach what we are paying for our machines. Sure the machines in question _may_ have been ~30% faster but they cost literally 4x as much.

For customers buying larger Intel platform machines (4 sockets or more) the power8's are possibly competitive, but compared with the mid-range dual socket machines its wasn't even close.

Maybe IBM has adjusted the pricing since then, they keep telling me its going to be better than x86, but I have yet to see that for our use cases. Plus, I suspect that Intel will adjust their pricing in a few months if POWER is actually competitive. They have a habit of doing that. Just taking back the 4 socket "tax" they added a few years ago when AMD stopped being competitive will probably blow a hole in IBM's model.

2 days ago
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IBM Gearing Up Mega Power 8 Servers For October Launch

bored Re:Are they available in the cloud? (112 comments)

If you go to IBM conferences you will find a fair amount of talk on this very topic by 3rd party vendors. There are probably a dozen vendors that want to provide AS400/iSeries cloud instances, but IBM won't let them because it violates the terms of the IBM i license which is tied to a hardware instance.

Plus, the whole software ecosystem piggybacks on the same idea, (often based on machine capabilities). This means that even if you can rent an iSeries for an hour its likely your software vendor won't license you their application.

So, while it is entirely possible, IBM seems to be dragging their feet on the license issues, and the vendors seems to be in a chicken/egg situation.

2 days ago
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Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

bored Re:Nobody else seems to want it (724 comments)

Not sure what the GP actually intended, but I'm convinced the fact that the kernel and a few thousand drivers all simultaneously have to be bug free for any given "release" is a serious problem. Should your hardware experience a driver problem you get to roll the dice again and hope the next version fixes your problem without breaking something else. Good luck, especially if you have a couple dozen different hardware configurations to contend with, especially if any of them are not x86.

Its futile, the drivers and the kernel should be separate and there should be a stable API, if not a full blown ABI for them. Linux has been evolving for ~20 years now its probably time to start trying to maintain some kind of actual kernel mode API. That way the _USER_ can pick and choose the kernel and any given set of drivers independently from one another. If kernel X happens to be "good" but you need a driver newer than that kernel you shouldn't have to upgrade to the latest buggy kernel just to get a driver for a more recent piece of hardware.

Android avoids this problem because the OEM spends time assuring that the driver set for their device is working/stable before shipping the device. Then rarely are they ever upgraded for anything other than bug fixes.

about a week ago
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New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

bored Re:The obvious /. question... (215 comments)

Hmmm, compare the options available via:

http://www.eightforums.com/tut...

with the options available in windows7 (and previous) in the "window color and appearance" dialog.

There are probably 4x the number of options in win7, including font selection/size changes that are simply not available on win8.

about a week ago
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New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

bored 32GB of flash storage (215 comments)

If this device is anything like the dell venue pro with 32GB, it works out to something like 17GB usable when you turn the device on, but by the time windows update runs its going to be less than 10GB free.

Lots of discussion about this on the internet, for example:

http://en.community.dell.com/s...

about two weeks ago
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New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

bored Re:2GB RAM is plenty for Win8.1 x86... (215 comments)

My only complaints are that Chrome actually performs quite poorly on sites with heavy AJAX (specifically Yahoo Mail), and that Flash is better off left not installed (darn). But Firefox appears to be much better optimized for low-end hardware, so I just use Firefox with no Flash.

On low end hardware I've been installing qupzilla. Its a webkit based browser minus much of the junk. It actually runs pretty good on windows2000 era machines, something that cannot be said for chrome/firefox at this point.

about two weeks ago
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New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

bored Re:2GB of RAM? (215 comments)

2GB per process - closer to 1.75 in practice.
3.25GB total usable.

First the 2GB limit is not fixed, it can be increased to 3GB. See http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...

The latter is a license restriction, not an OS one. There are 32-bit windows machines that can use 64GB of RAM and by default PAE is actually enabled by default on all versions of windows since XPSP2 (or was it SP3?) when DEP became the default as well.

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u...

So, if MS cared they could release a 32-bit windows professional that supports more RAM, they just choose not to. The real question is about drivers failing to use the HAL provided API's for DMA and such. While there were a few driver issues in the early 2k days most of them actually tended to work.

about two weeks ago
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New HP Laptop Would Mean Windows at Chromebook Prices

bored Re:The obvious /. question... (215 comments)

Classic shell gives you a start menu, and some of the customizations back, but your still up a creek if you want to say, customize the coloring of your window controls at a fine granularity, or a large number of other less noticeable UI changes.

about two weeks ago
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Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly

bored Re:People hear "Windows 8" and run away (336 comments)

I am, because after a single install for classic shell, you get a Windows that functions almost identically to a Windows 7 box

I use classic shell on the win 8/8.1, and frankly while its pretty tweak-able, it can't actually replicate the way I ran windows 7 nor the way I run windows XP. A big part of the problem in 8 is the removal of the ability to control with fine granularity pieces of the window decoration.

There are a lot of other issues, but win8 is just another half ass interface from microsoft layered on top of the half dozen other application UI paradigms they have tried to thrust on people over the past two decades. It doesn't take long before you notice that there are actually more than just metro/modern applications and applications with ribbons in win8. In fact last I counted there were 6 different application paradigms in the applications shipped with the OS going all the way back to windows 3.0. That is even before you install any 3rd party software.

about three weeks ago
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Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly

bored Re:Who has the market share? (336 comments)

I like the netflix app, that's about it.

Yah, duh, application that runs full screen on a single monitor for watching movies.

Full screen first person games might work too...

about three weeks ago
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Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly

bored Re:Who has the market share? (336 comments)

Same for XP which appears to have become the POS/embedded appliance with UI, OS choice a number of years ago. Those people seem to be in the "you can pry it from my cold dead fingers" type.

And since those machines probably don't even have web browsers in use they don't show up in surveys like this.

I have yet to see a windows 7 POS system, or display sign. Even technically savvy places like fry's are still running XP on their in-house systems.

about three weeks ago
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Getting Back To Coding

bored Re:UI has improved? (240 comments)

I'm going to ad that I think usability with regard to discoverable interfaces probably peaked somewhere around 2000 as well.

Since they we have have had one trend after another to make interfaces look slicker at the expense of discoverablity.

First we started hiding visual hints (underscores on windows menus to indicate matching keyboard shortcuts). On and on, and lately we have the "flatten" UI paradigm where its impossible to even tell what is an active control from its surroundings until you start clicking/touching it.

about a month ago
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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

bored Lack of standardization and licensing (608 comments)

Of lot of the problems in the computer industry stem from lack of proper well thought out standards. As well as the lack of licensing individuals and tool implementations. Diversity of implementations is good if the products adhere to standards. Everybody and their brother creating their own tool chains and proprietary (but open!) widgets that all solve the same basic problem has become the problem itself. We would still be in the preindustrial age if we were unable to standardize even basic things like thread patterns on bolts.

The software industry is the equivalent of recent HS grad noticing that his neighbor built a house using haybales (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw-bale_construction) showing up at the city council and convincing them he can build a bridge over the local creek with haybales faster and cheaper than the local engineering firm. They proceed to hire, him and he in fact manages to build a bridge over the creek in an afternoon. Gets a lot of money, fame and further jobs. Its only 6 months later when the creek floods and washes the bridge away are the design tradeoffs apparent. By then, the kid has spent the money, moved out of state and is building cars out of cow manure for a large company.

about a month and a half ago
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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

bored Re:Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From... (608 comments)

The problem is, designing a building, pulling a tooth, or fixing a toilet is relatively easy. There are not so many different ways to do it.

There are actually a lot of different ways to do what you describe, you only think its straightforward because the industry has standardized on methods/tools/etc. Pumbing would be a lot harder if pipe sizes weren't standardized and every plumber around designed a toilet from scratch using tools designed by the guy down the street.

The problem with the computer industry is that lots of times people without a lot of formal training/experience are allowed to create a computer languages, application framework/etc. Those kinds of things are limited to the higher levels of licensing and standardization bodies in most industries. Its this very limit that results in the standardization, not the other way around. You can't even get a Journeyman plumbers license in TX without 4 years work experience as an apprentice.

Frankly, the basics of computer operations tend to be standardized by natural selection, the problems are the fact that there are a million different toolkits (often designed by people without a clue) with a million different bugs/edge cases to bite developers. Plus, a person certified with some level of "web development" wouldn't necessarily be tied to an industry like banking or medical software, especially if there was a higher level industry specific "master" license or some such that would sign off on the work. Its similar to the "architecture" positions in these organizations that are responsible for the design of the system, while the lower level coders do a lot of the grunt work.

In fact the PE licenses for civil/etc work much the same way. Getting a civil PE allows you to work in lots of different industries, but usually there is a senior person with a specialty that signs off on a given project. Freshly minted PE's don't get jobs signing off on large bridges, buildings, etc. Plus, a Civil PE usually will enlist the services of a Electrical PE or Mechanical PE for parts of any given project larger than a tool shed.

So, the problem you describe is a symptom of the lack of licensing not the other way around. Frankly, its only the ease of creation of software that allows this to propagate, any other industry would be hamstrung if it couldn't even depend on something as simple as bolt thread patterns and heads being somewhat standard. Sure programming might not be as exciting if everyone had to learn and prove some level of mastery of Ada but I'm betting there would be fewer stupid mistakes being made by bright people writing an application in languages they have never used before because its the "cool" language du jour.

about a month and a half ago
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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

bored Re:Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From... (608 comments)

Heck, I am not even allowed to pull a simple tooth without a proper license. If that is not a real scandal....

Maybe the real scandal is that any idiot can convince themselves they are the next Dijkstra, blow some smoke up a midlevel MBA's backside and get hired to write the front-end for the bank you use, or the local software contractor building some part of the control system for the car you drive.

As a society we have decided that we actually want people to have some level of licensing before they design a building, pull a tooth, or even fix your toilet. Yet we allow people without any formal licensing, or competency to design/write critical software.

about a month and a half ago
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Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

bored Re:It's not the programming, it's the expections (608 comments)

If you want to have the same level of usefulness now as there was in the 80's, learn Mathematica, MatLab, or Learn Perl,Python, or Ruby

If you want a career in programming maybe, but most of the people writing spreadsheet macros and dbase forms in the 80/90 weren't professional programmers either. Excel and Access are still around, and can solve the same basic problems that they solved back in the 90's without the huge learning curve of ruby, rails, html, javascript, css, datastructures and algorithms, etc just to perform a couple fairly simple computations or graph some data, or create a couple basic input forms.

Sure the solutions created may not be professional programmer quality, or scale to millions of users, but they are often simple solutions created in a matter of hours for real problems being faced by real people.

Frankly, the web is the absolute worst platform for many of these kinds of applications because its takes a problem solvable by a non programmer in a few hours and turns it into a problem that can take a team months. I suspect that a lot of web developers would really have their eyes opened if they spent a few dozen hours slapping together a couple little applications in Access VBA.

about a month and a half ago
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Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

bored Re: (132 comments)

Only makers of proprietary modules, and sycophants and nay-sayers complain about the Linux kernel not having a static API and ABI for kernel modules.

Ok, so this is going to sound like flaming but its not.. Because _ANYONE_ who has used linux for any extended period of time in a non trivial manner and, who is being honest with themselves has had problems due to the kernel and associated drivers being tied together.

Thats because without fail, the drivers for every single piece of hardware and the kernel/userspace API's don't all tend to move at the same speed. This means that when you have a problem with a driver for a particular piece of hardware in your system, being forced to take newer versions of drivers for every other piece of hardware is a recipe for something breaking. I have a pretty functional laptop running a recent distribution, I was pretty estatic when about 90% of my use cases actually worked. Sound, 3d graphics, suspend/wakup, wifi, EFI boot, on and on. But, in the end, i'm not running the latest GL SL, because its not supported, I have to hand modify the bluetooth driver to get my wireless mouse working, and I had to hack KDE and the OS to get the back-light dimmer to work properly. Then every couple weeks/months a new kernel gets rolled out to fix some problem or another and I have to reapply my changes.

I could write a 1000 page book about driver/kernel problems I've personally seen, and you need only spend a little time on LKML to notice that driver developers on linux don't really appear to be any better than any other OS. They make forward progress most of the time, but they also regularly regress some feature or another resulting in plenty of pain. Expecting the few hundred developers involved in the kernel/drivers for any particular machine to GET IT RIGHT for in any given kernel release is an exercise in fantasy land. Expecting the ten thousand or so involved in every driver in the kernel to GET IT RIGHT for every single machine running linux is even more fantastic.

So, a problem like this has a solution, ignoring it for religious reasons doesn't.

about 2 months ago
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Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

bored Re:FPAA (ANALOG ARRAYS) (236 comments)

While purists might believe that analog without the mess of breadboards, wire-wraps and soldering isn't analog, it fills a real-world need.

Its not possible to do modern analog design with breadboards and wire-wraps. AFAIU, this is the kind of analog work being discussed, and from my perspective (comfortable with digital and low frequency analog) modern analog design is pure magic. I'm not sure how any of this can be learned with a "hands on method" today. Board design, maybe, the rules being used to determine microstrip/etc transmission lines are understandable by a normal EE. But analog design on a sub-micron IC? HA!

How many schools can even fab a modern IC without shipping it to MOSIS? Where I went to school there was a "fab" as part of the ECE department but even then the IC's being fabbed were far from cutting edge.

Heck even MOSIS's education processes are looking pretty old.

about 2 months ago
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Americans Hate TV and Internet Providers More Than Other Industries

bored Re:Great timing (255 comments)

There's no magic wand they can wave to fix their excessive oversubscription.

Magic wand? or just putting some effort into maintaining the network?

I actually don't see any over-subscription (in Austin) of the last mile. I regularly see my rated (30/5) bandwidth to nearby services.

In my case i'm pretty sure they could wave their wand in front of the provisioning console and upgrade my service to 200Mb/20 (from 30/5). That is because my modem reports a 8x4 DOCSIS lock, with (at least) 16 available channels from the head-end. For the lazy, i'm provisioned less than 5% of the available capacity for my neighborhood. Austin was a backwater until about two years before google announced here, when pretty much overnight TW finally decided to roll out DOCSIS 3 (6 years or so after everyone else). Since then they have been allocating more channels and apparently splitting the nodes.

Maybe they will have an over-subscription problem (if they bump everyone, which is what the rumor mill says), but really i've never seen that here. Instead we just got shitty slow provisioning. Between ~1999 when I got road runner to about ~2010 the best speed that TW would sell a customer account didn't even double.

about 3 months ago

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