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How We'll Program 1000 Cores - and Get Linus Ranting, Again

dslbrian Re:Torvalds is half right (449 comments)

The issue is this: Our desktop processing requirements are actually slowing and as Linus points out, are probably ill-suited for increased parallelism.

Depends on the desktop requirements. I think he is off the mark here. Specifically to quote him from TFA:

The only place where parallelism matters is in graphics or on the server side, where we already largely have it. Pushing it anywhere else is just pointless.

Since he points out servers and graphics as largely solved, I assume he is talking about desktop usage. In this he is assuming a standard usage model for a desktop user, a set of apps - web, devel, coding, games, whatever. I think the view is that of a user who can only focus on a single-task at a time (with perhaps background OS tasks). But this is a myopic view, the rise of virtualization has enabled a convergence of hardware onto a single machine. This is only possible with the rise of multi-core/parallel computing. VMs are a huge benefit, in terms of power/area efficiency and even being able to create and destroy them on a whim.

On my desktop machine (8 core) I have two VMs running all the time. These machines used to be physical separate machines, consuming power, taking up floor space, making noise, etc. I could not have run this setup on my previous single/dual core machines. However now they are virtual, and my normal desktop usage doesn't even notice them running (even heavy 3D gaming is not lagged by these VMs).

There are compounding parallelization factors - having the whole setup on encryption means wanting the cores to handle AES in hardware, so as he points out having hordes of parallel weak cores might be pointless for that. However, multiple powerful cores, I can put those to work.

IMO the advantages are clearly obvious. Sure for a single-task desktop user, you may only want a few cores for background tasks plus the foreground task. But the ability to consolidate lots of hardware into a single box, I want as much of that as I can get. I can easily think of desktop + VM scenarios that can push beyond 4 cores.

about a month ago

Google Fiber's Latest FCC Filing: Comcast's Nightmare Come To Life

dslbrian Re:One fiber to rule them... (221 comments)

Infrastructure like that should be buried - out of reach of weather, reckless drivers, etc.

Of course that makes it a target for buried cables natural enemy - the backhoe.

about a month ago

Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

dslbrian Re:Astronomy, and general poor night-time results. (550 comments)

Same situation here, but I had lasik done around 30. Now about 12+ years on, my distance vision has degraded, but not back to originally bad condition. I don't regret the choice at the time, it was a tremendous improvement from my original vision.

The problem (as I've been told) is around the early 40's. The lens of the eye hardens. It causes a shift in vision. My eye doc described this sort of like cooking the white part of an egg. Once it goes from fluid to hardened, there is really no going back. Although I think working in front of screens all day for a decade plus has biased my vision to near-sightedness. Had I a different job that required distance vision, maybe truck driver or something, then I might have ended up that way.

Sometimes I find I can focus on distant things, but it takes quite a while. The lens hardening seems to really slow the focal change speed. I find if I'm looking down reading something close and someone asks me something from a distance, when I look up that person will be blurry, and it takes quite some seconds to focus on them better. Similarly if I drive for an extended period then I seem to be able to read the roadsigns better.

about 6 months ago

Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer

dslbrian Re:The worst company in the world (401 comments)

Comcast simply will not accept being second place in the competition for the worst company in existence.

They may try, but at eight minutes they pale in comparison to my experience with AT&T. It was at least 10 years back, but in trying to cancel an AT&T DSL account it took me four freaking hours. And no that's not hyperbole. It took so damn long that the cordless phone I had at the time went from fully charged to near dead (it started beeping near death).

It went sort of like this - call DSL dept, "I want to cancel"... Oh you have to talk to billing, let me transfer you... 10 minutes later, billing says "No that's a DSL service, you need to talk to DSL dept", let me transfer you... Transfer .. Wait .. Repeat .. Transfer .. Transfer .. Disconnected .. Repeat again. Went through over a dozen people, and apparently they were taking notes along the way, by the time I finally got to someone with authority she said "Looks like you talked to just about everyone in the company". Yeah, no shit, you think!?

It was such an aggravating experience, I have not had AT&T service of any kind since, and never will again.

about 6 months ago

Mapping a Monster Volcano

dslbrian Re:And this doesn't seem like a bad idea? (105 comments)

'most devastating eruption in U.S. history. This month, they plan to set off 24 explosions — each equivalent to a magnitude-2 earthquake — around around the slumbering beast in an effort to map the its interior with unprecedented depth and clarity.'

It will be fine. The guy planting the explosives is going to be wearing a red shirt (for safety). Last name was Smith or Jones or something, didn't catch the first name.

about 7 months ago

Was Watch Dogs For PC Handicapped On Purpose?

dslbrian Re:Controversy? (215 comments)

Saints Row The Third was a better GTA than GTA.

I'll second that. I actually played SR3 before GTA IV. I thought SR3 was an excellent game, with good gameplay and good humor (occasionally over the top on the humor). I liked their vehicle customization also.

Then I played GTA IV, which made me decide not to buy GTA V. They should have called it "Boatville" since every car drove like a freaking boat. Awful gameplay with a mind-numbingly boring story. Absolutely hated it. No degree of realism could counter what a bad game it was.

about 7 months ago

Was Turing Test Legitimately Beaten, Or Just Cleverly Tricked?

dslbrian Re:but that's the problem with the turing test... (309 comments)

Well the NEW Turing test should be to write a believable load of hype. In related news, it was discovered that half the posts on Slashdot are generated by AI-powered bots whose purpose is to argue about the validity of the Turing test.

about 8 months ago

Netflix Trash-Talks Verizon's Network; Verizon Threatens To Sue

dslbrian Re:Price Wars (364 comments)

Sure, it could be a crowded Verizon network, but claiming it's THE cause is speculation, and claiming that there is something Verizon isn't providing is completely wrong.

Well doesn't it seem rather odd then that in a ranking out of 60 ISPs, Verizon DSL comes in dead last?. (hit the include small ISPs button)

Even their Verizon FIOS ranks at 50. How is it that 49 other big and small ISPs come in faster than Verizon's FIOS when most of them probably do not have peering agreements. Seriously, who in the heck is going to pay for Verizon FIOS when it can't even stream Netflix as fast as a small broadband company. Verizon can complain all it wants, but I suspect Netflix has data to back up all their claims.

about 8 months ago

Which desktop environment do you like the best?

dslbrian Re:Openbox (611 comments)

Absolutely. Openbox is one of the few WMs that can create a fully customizable right-click menu. One that is not filled with inane useless unmovable crap like "Create Folder" (GNOME).

about 8 months ago

SEC Chair On HFT: 'The Markets Are Not Rigged'

dslbrian Re:HFT has passed the tipping point (303 comments)

Indeed. In this article (talking about the same interview), there was this interesting quote:

Some Congressmen had a looser grasp on the specifics of the issue, but had no problem making their discomfort known.

Take Massachusetts' *Stephen Lynch for instance.

"Virtual financial said in 5 years they had one day of trading losses," Lynch said incredulously, "...there seems to be a definite advantage for a firm that can operate for 5 years without any trading losses."

He meant Virtu, the high-frequency trading firm that has delayed its IPO indefinitely because of the fallout from Lewis' book.

I'm sure there is a statistician out there who could tell us the odds of running 5 years of trading with only one day of losses, in a system which was not rigged.

SEC Chair Mary Jo White is full of shit, and quite the opposite of reassuring us all that the markets are indeed not rigged, it just verifies that the SEC is complicit in this whole system.

about 9 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Professional Journaling/Notes Software?

dslbrian freeplane (170 comments)

I use this: Freeplane

It's not the right tool for long verbose text, but for collecting ideas and arranging them together it works well. I tend to think of it as a free-form web page. A few key things:
- It is portable, at least I run mine off a USB flash drive. This is a key feature, if it were not so then it wouldn't get used. It's not "cloud" but then I think of this as being better than a cloud version, as it does not require network, and you don't have to worry about cloud security.
- It can support links to other files (local on the drive) or web links to external sites. This ability to organize an amorphous collection of things (text, local links, remote links, images) is what makes it a good idea tool.
- It can collapse/expand parts of the map so you can focus on topic at hand. Just make sure to enable the setting that saves the state of the map (for some reason IIRC it defaults to everything collapsed when the map is first opened).

Once you setup a couple keybindings, and get the hang of creating and linking new nodes it becomes a pretty fast tool to work in also.

about 9 months ago

Stung By Scandal, South Korea Weighs Up Cost of Curbing Nuclear Power

dslbrian Re:Let's go BACKWARDS! (200 comments)

Publicly owned utilities have no incentive to cut costs in an effort to boost profit margins. They can run with a zero margin and no shareholders exist to whine and bitch.

        Or is government a default solution to every problem regardless of its own (numerous) problems?

It's a possible course of action when private industry rears its corrupt, incompetent head.

O,RLY? Well let me introduce you to our local Austin Energy, which despite being public utility does not run a "zero" margin. In fact the city of Austin steals $100Mil/year from it to dump into the city's general fund (things absolutely unrelated to power generation - it is effectively taxing people on their utility bills without all the annoyances of passing an actual "tax"). I can guarantee you if our local corrupt, incompetent city leaders could steal anything else out of it they absolutely would. You want to hear whine and bitch, try cutting off that $100Mil/year flow and watch what happens..

In fact I would challenge anyone to find more corruption and incompetence in private industry than you can find in our local Texas gov't - TTC anyone? It explains well the level of corruption and incompetence that the gov't operates at:
So while TTC-35 committed to construct $8 billion in infrastructure Cintra-Zachry expected to collect $114 billion in toll revenues as shown in the preliminary plan.

about a year ago

How LucasArts Fell Apart

dslbrian Re:always a bit of a disappointment (178 comments)

I loved the X-wing/Tie Fighter assault games - you're IN the tie fighter, man - awesome!

For me the Freespace series took over that genre (back when it existed). More recently the X-series games (X3AP). Upcoming X-Rebirth is looking pretty awesome.

The thing I don't get though - I would be honestly surprised to find a single gamer in the executive staff at LucasArts. I really don't know how execs get placed who have no knowledge of what their product is, or what makes it good or bad. People rail on it in reviews and yet they keep churning out the same garbage. Anyone with 1st person experience of some of their games would know that, so it is obvious their execs have none. Worst of all, Star Wars basically invented the concept of movie-based merchandise and tie-ins (toys and games). How they can turn THAT into a money-losing venture is a really amazing story of FAIL. Not that it is an exclusive club (*cough* SimCity)...

about a year ago

The Trouble With Bringing Your Business Laptop To China

dslbrian Re:That's what encryption is for. (402 comments)

This exactly. Encrypt the laptop but don't actually keep anything important on it. Instead use Truecrypt and a USB thumb drive. Have the thumb drive keyed to a different password than the laptop.

Further, as far as customs, drop a live CD of any variety in the CD drive, and have the laptop default to booting the CD. Now when custom guys asks to inspect your laptop, say sure, and let it boot the live CD. You can be amused while they laugh at how slow your laptop boots. In the end let em clone the HD, whatever, even if the NSA cracks it there is nothing on it. Everything important is on the thumb drive that you have "hidden" away (usually in plain sight on a keychain).

As far as the article, carrying your corporate secrets encrypted in your pocket will make any thieves job harder, and having the laptop encrypted will force them to install keylogger hardware, a more time consuming and harder thing to get away with. If I were such an executive and had real concerns I would just get a throwaway laptop, or better yet have some fun and epoxy all the case screws in. There are possibilities.

more than 2 years ago

X11 Window System Turns 25 Years Old

dslbrian Re:X12? (285 comments)

I'll be honest, I was a little sceptical when I read about some of the design decisions in Wayland. In particular, the decision to move some of the window management to the application (in general, that means the toolkit, like Qt, GTK+, etc) makes me wince a bit, because it will lead to the hung-window-syndrome we know and love from MS Windows.

It causes more than that. This is a good read on the problems caused by CSD.

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Relents On Metro-Only Visual Studio Express

dslbrian Re:Well, it's a beginning (228 comments)

I prefer the apps list in Windows 8 as a list of all programs in one quick spot. It's alphebetized and doesn't include nonsense like uninstall wizards and docs like the start menu does. And it shows all the icons at once so I don't have to read a series of folder names like with the Start Menu.

Well you must not use very many programs. Their ridiculous flat organization method quickly falls apart and looks like crap. Just take a look here (images 3-5 on that page pretty clearly demonstrate). So yeah, you enjoy that needle in a haystack...

more than 2 years ago

Microsoft Ignores Usability With All-Caps Menu in Visual Studio

dslbrian Re:All part of their retro-COBOL strategy (415 comments)

Freaking Office 2010 with the ribbon crap confuses the heck out of me, because I can never find the function I want.

You need to install UBitMenu. It creates a new tab with the old 2003 menus, so you can at least find things. Their main site is down at the moment, but if you google it you can find it on a download site.

more than 2 years ago

The Supreme Court To Rule On Monsanto Seed Patents

dslbrian Re:Make your own decision! (372 comments)

The courts have painted themselves into this ridiculous corner based on idiotic interpretations of the Constitution. In ascribing to the letter of the law they have completely disregarded the spirit of the law, and in so doing allowed this stupid situation to exist. The fact that patents are granted on a ~20-year duration regardless of field allows companies like Monsanto to lock down the food supply in perpetuity. By contaminating the soybean supply every few years with a new slight derivative, and claiming infringement on natural cross-contamination, they can effectively undercut the patent system and extend their monopoly forever.

Now what do the courts do - they flail about asking other branches for ideas. Seriously? This is the type of gov't / corporation complicity that the 99%ers complain about, and if there is ever another revolution in this country it will be based on stupid crap like this.

more than 2 years ago

Tom's Hardware Tests and Reviews Fedora 16 and Gnome 3

dslbrian Re:Divisiveness for Fun and Profit (101 comments)

I agreed with his review as well. Frankly I found his tolerance far exceeding my own when it comes to GNOME3. Pretty much everything he said on the "Why it Failed" page is spot on. I thought this was insightful regarding their target demographic:

So, when the power users are leaving, GNOME doesn't really seem to care. After all, GNOME 3 isn't designed for them. But what the GNOME Project leaders don't seem to understand is that new Linux users are like vampires, or werewolves, or zombies. Stick with me here.

New Linux users don't just spontaneously pop into existence, they have to be "bitten" by someone who is already involved. Average Joe, who needs to use his computer and doesn't care how it works, doesn't wake up one day and, out of the clear blue sky exclaim, "You know what? I think I'm gonna screw around with Linux today.” New users are typically converted by a friend or family member who gets them set up and interested.

By gutting GNOME of every power user-oriented feature (a functional desktop, virtual desktops, on-screen task management, applets, hibernation, and so on) it's losing that intermediate-to-advanced crowd that's responsible for bringing users on-board. The power user demographic isn't going to recommend and support GNOME 3-based systems if they've already jumped ship.

Just how does GNOME intend to put the GNOME Shell into the hands of new users? By chasing away its current base with a brand new interface designed to be "easy," and with no clear strategy for acquiring an easy-seeking audience, GNOME simultaneously shoots itself in the head and foot.

And finally:

Using GNOME Shell is an exercise in supreme frustration. After spending the first month with this interface, I wanted to crawl into a corner and die.

Just the reaction the GNOME devs were hoping for, no? I kind of wonder how long Fedora will stick with it given that.

more than 2 years ago

Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis Meet One Last Time

dslbrian I hate it when museums do this (52 comments)

I hate it when museums do this kind of thing to aircraft (or in this case spacecraft). Nothing is more uninteresting than a hollow shell body. Once the problematic liquids are drained there is no reason they can't leave the engines in place. The parts that make things like this interesting are all the mechanical components and displays that make up the actual vehicle. Every time I see this done to an aircraft, I can't help but think of how much of an utterly boring display it makes. They might as well erect a cardboard cutout equivalent, it's nauseating.

more than 2 years ago



Chinese Spacewalk Faked

dslbrian dslbrian writes  |  more than 6 years ago

dslbrian (318993) writes "The Chinese spacewalk previously posted looks like it might not have made it to space at all. In fact Inside China Today first noticed and subsequently Gearlog posted that by careful inspection of the uploaded video one can see several indicators that the whole thing was faked and shot in a pool. These include bubbles rising from the astronaut's helmet, and reflections of lighting arrays in the mirrored sections of their spacesuits."


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