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How Does Heartbleed Alter the 'Open Source Is Safer' Discussion?

drdrgivemethenews "Many eyes" discovered quickly, didn't disclose (580 comments)

Data point: the NSA reportedly discovered this bug within days of its placement, and didn't disclose it.

When the bad guys have a lot more eyes than the good guys, it skews the math.

4 days ago
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British Architects Develop Open-Source Home Building

drdrgivemethenews Useful, but it doesn't solve the whole problem (96 comments)

Former builder here. The idea is great, but it seems fixated on the building shell, which is by far the cheapest part of the house. The electrical, plumbing, foundation, flooring, plaster, sidewalk, fencing, driveway and roofing work, the baths and kitchens, windows, doors, siding and trim are where all the money goes.

I do like the idea of being able to print out the complex stuff, say the framing for an archway or stairway. Otherwise, no way 3D printing can compete with pre-cut 2x4s.

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Yawn. Let me know when it's out of the lab.

about a year ago
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Ask Slashdot: How Important Is Advanced Math In a CS Degree?

drdrgivemethenews Discrete vs. continuous math (656 comments)

When I was in grad school, I noticed that the EE classes were all about continuous math. EE deals with a mostly analog world and you need all those partial differential equations to work in it.

On the other hand, the CS classes were all about discrete math. The EE guys give us machines that provide an environment based on binary math and logic. You need to understand finite automata, compilers, data structures, algorithms, and so on to work in that world.

Myself, I found that I liked discrete math better, but that's me.

One piece of advice. Learn and understand networking. You'll never be sorry.

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Theory blazes the trail, but it can't pave the road.

about a year ago
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Data Center Managers Weary of Whittling Cooling Costs

drdrgivemethenews Beware PUE lies (198 comments)

As a one-time member of The Green Grid Technical Committee, let me summarize and correct a few points:

  • The EPA has said that data centers use around 4% of US power. The federal government uses going on half of that, IIRC.
  • Historically PUEs of 2.4 were common. It makes sense. In a closed building, it takes 1 unit of cooling energy to cool the heat produced by one unit of computation etc. The cooling systems were say 80% efficient so that makes 1.25 units of cooling energy. Add in power conditioning and UPS losses, and you easily get 1.4 to 1.6 units of non-computational work for every unit of computation, for a PUE of 2.4 to 2.6.
  • A PUE of less than 1.0 is by definition impossible. Nevertheless, a few deluded individuals have reported them.
  • In anything less than ideal conditions, getting the PUE below 1.2 is very difficult. A common mistake is to allow equipment fans to do some of the work of the heat exhaust fans. This effectively transfers facility load to the equipment and results in artificially low numbers.
  • Low PUEs are harder to achieve in high-resiliency conditions. The large server farms used by MS and Google do not require the level of availability that enterprise data centers commonly do. These companies have the luxury of trading off equipment failure rates with power costs.
  • Uninformed data center managers sometimes think they can use unconditioned outdoor air as a coolant. This is ill advised. High humidity levels, high sulfur and other contaminant levels, and particulates can cause premature equipment failure, not to mention voiding warranties. I visited a data center in a hot and humid location once that had had 40% disk drive failure in a year. It's best to consult a professional data center HVAC specialist with experience in low-PUE installations.
  • Power costs do sometimes exceed CAPEX over the life of the equipment. It depends on location and up-front equipment cost.
  • Power gotten from public hydro is not "green". Power in the public grid is a zero-sum game. Only renewable energy that you produce yourself is more green than the average greenness of the public utility system.
  • The data centers located near big dams don't get cheap power because they're being green. They get it cheap because they avoid grid distribution costs. The same thing can be accomplished by colocation with a big coal plant. It just doesn't sound as cool.

about a year ago
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Apple: 75% of Our World Wide Power Needs Now Come From Renewable Power Sources

drdrgivemethenews Generating or just using? (262 comments)

Renewable power bought from a utility company is a zero-sum game--only one party gets to use it, and everyone else gets stuck with whatever's left. So until they are actually generating all that power themselves, the claim is just chest thumping. No real benefit to the environment.

1 year,28 days
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Patent Trolls Seeking Wi-fi License Fees?

drdrgivemethenews Re:Infringing by using a commercial product? (347 comments)

This was my first question also. The OP does not say that they develop any sort of WiFi equipment. Assuming they don't, the troll might as well be demanding royalties based on the use of a navigation system in a Buick.

about a year ago
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World's Oldest Fossils Found In Australia

drdrgivemethenews Re:Those are our oldest ancestors? (85 comments)

I had a similar thought. Granted that we share the same molecular machinery, but it seems to me that we probably evolved from the hosts the bacteria fed on, not from the bacteria themselves. Unless they ate rock, in which case we evolved from the hosts their mutations ("descendants") fed on. For me, the jump from asexual to sexual reproduction is the really interesting inflection point. Do we really believe that an ordinary mutation caused that? (IANAE).

about a year ago
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My favorite New Year's celebration:

drdrgivemethenews Spring cross-quarter day (157 comments)

The winter/spring cross-quarter day is the halfway point between the winter soltice and spring equinox. Apart from any astrological or other significance it might have, it is a good marker for when the days start getting longer FAST.

about a year ago
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It's Hard For Techies Over 40 To Stay Relevant, Says SAP Lab Director

drdrgivemethenews Examples are not proof (441 comments)

A couple examples from India, and every 35+ programmer on the planet is doomed?

We don't need to throw out developers with age and experience, we need to throw out clueless journalists.

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There are two kinds of innovation. One blazes the trail. The other paves the road.

about a year and a half ago
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MOOC Mania

drdrgivemethenews Lecturing is not teaching (102 comments)

A couple of my academic friends believe that MOOCs like Khan Academy will "invert" the teaching process. Instead of attending lecturers for content, and assimilating the material later while doing homework, students will view lectures offline, and assimilate the material in class, in a more lab-like environment.

Sounds good to me.

about a year and a half ago
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The Past, Present, and Future of OSS

drdrgivemethenews Re: read below (150 comments)

> Read below for the rest of what CowboyNeal has to say

No thanks.

about a year and a half ago
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Cringley: H-1B Visa Abuse Limits Wages and Steals US Jobs

drdrgivemethenews Re:Here here! Well said. (795 comments)

I appear to be the only ./er who cares enough to mention that it should be "hear, hear", not "here here".

That said, I agree with the sentiment, if not the spelling. My former employer, who shall go unnamed, is a dynamic Silicon Valley hi-tech company, once one of the best places in America (pre-Google) for bright geeks to work. It is now a sea of H1Bs. A small percentage of them are stars; the rest are merely inexpensive. And the worst part is that H1B managers rarely hire Americans; they prefer to manage other H1Bs.

about a year and a half ago
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Light Bulb Ban Produces Hoarding In EU, FUD In U.S.

drdrgivemethenews CFLs are unbelievable (1080 comments)

Unbelievably bad, that is. The light is poor and barren. I have yet to see a "100w equivalent" that was even close to being as bright as a 100w incandescent. Some of them have a power factor of 0.5, which means they're actually half as "energy efficient" as the label says. And "long-lasting"? Not in my experience. But hey, at least they're expensive.

The lighting industry has got to be gleefully rubbing its hands over these regulatory moves.

The building inspector made me replace 160 watts of very nice halogens in my new kitchen with 160 watts of fluorescents because the code says half of the lighting in a kitchen has to be "energy efficient". The overall lighting level went down considerably with this change, in part because the halogens give directed light and decent looking fluorescents don't, and also because halogen light is a lot nicer. Of course the change was reversed the same day the inspector signed off. The $120 fluorescent fixture I was forced to buy now illuminates an area of my home that I don't spend much time in--the laundry room.

about a year and a half ago
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More Warnings About High-Frequency Trading

drdrgivemethenews Re:How fast should it go? (500 comments)

I favor a simple progressive tax on capital gains. Tax ordinary capital gains same as now. Tax gains on trades under a day at 50%, under an hour at 75%, under a minute at 85% and under a second at 95%. Preferably on a nice curve instead of by quanta.

about a year and a half ago
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Project To Turn Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music Completed

drdrgivemethenews Re:Completed? That's a bit of a laugh (290 comments)

Wow, I take it back. Some of this music is pretty awful. A good MIDI performance expert could do better. Oh god, listen to the french horn in the 2nd promenade in Pictures at an Exhibition. Oh, and the violins at the end of that. Shiver. Ouch. Damn.

about a year and a half ago
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Project To Turn Classical Scores Into Copyright-Free Music Completed

drdrgivemethenews Completed? That's a bit of a laugh (290 comments)

Possibly the project's initial goals were completed, but that's hardly what springs to mind when one hears the phrase in the context of the classical repertoire.

That said, I'm listening to Eroica, and it actually ain't bad.

WRT the print edition quality, most world-class musicians prefer autograph scores. Heavily edited scores are more suited for amateur performers. An exception is Sussmayer's version of Mozart's Requiem, which has a lot of rough spots, and is usually performed from later fixed up versions.

about a year and a half ago
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Ask Slashdot: Worth Going For a Graduate Degree In the Middle of Your Career?

drdrgivemethenews Re:You should never stop learning (260 comments)

Received mine (in CS) at 45, 15 years ago. I'm honestly unsure that the PhD was worth it, though it was fun. The Masters was definitely worth it.

The PhD training really only teaches you how to think. Since entering the hi-tech workforce, I've had to learn 3 or 4 new skill sets in order to do a job and have a domain to think about.

about a year and a half ago
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Validating Voters For Open Source Governance, In Person

drdrgivemethenews Wouldn't work in my neighborhood (214 comments)

I've only seen three of my neighbors often enough to identify them in a lineup, and they all live in the same house.

about a year and a half ago
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Wozniak Predicts Horrible Problems With the Cloud

drdrgivemethenews It's all timing (331 comments)

I've listened to Woz speak. It's pretty clear to me that he is a bright man who did something brilliant at the exact right time. The timing wasn't his fault, but he's been rewarded for it with both money and adulation, and kind of like a Hollywood star he assumes that his success means he is somehow qualified to speak on other areas of life. Woz didn't have much to do with the development of much anything since the Apple II to my knowledge. Lucky for himt he had lots of Apple stock to cash in on no matter what he contributed.

I'll probably get modded as flame for this. Sigh. I actually don't have anything against Steve W., and think he's made a great contribution to the universe. I guess I simply believe that while Steve Wozniak blazed the trail, Steve Jobs paved the road.

about a year and a half ago
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Wozniak Predicts Horrible Problems With the Cloud

drdrgivemethenews Re:The Steve at Apple everyone SHOULD listen to (331 comments)

BTW, this, and my house burning down, are the two scenarios that freak me out and motivate me. A hard drive failure is almost always addressable by sending your failed hard drive off to a recovery company with a $1000 check; chances are you won't lose any data you care about. But if all your hard drives go missing, you're f___ed.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Mathematical constants considered harmful (in some contexts)

drdrgivemethenews drdrgivemethenews writes  |  about a year and a half ago

drdrgivemethenews writes "In a story about the laziness and lack of imagination most users bring to the task of choosing passwords, the researcher points out that 'dictionary' attacks using a short list of often-used passwords will have nice hit rates (in the 20% range). He goes on to note that 'The 17th most common 10-digit password is 3141592654'. Pretty funny to see math nerds hoisted on the petard of their own cleverness."
Link to Original Source

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