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Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech

gman003 Really hope the spirit lives on (136 comments)

AnandTech is pretty much the only tech site I trust implicitly anymore. They don't do bullshit stories, they don't rush things out just because everyone else is, and they aren't afraid to criticize their own sponsor's products. More to the point, they know their stuff, and they have brought a lot more science to testing. They don't even test cases with actual computers in them anymore, they use strictly-controlled thermal loads and lab-grade probes because it wasn't repeatable enough. Hopefully Anand's spirit of accurate, thorough reporting will live on at Anandtech for years to come, because if they fail I don't know of anyone that could replace them.

2 days ago

Particle Physics To Aid Nuclear Cleanup

gman003 Re:Dr. Manhattan (35 comments)

Ah, but did they remember to reverse the polarity on the power couplings? It doesn't do anything unless you reverse the polarity.

3 days ago

Drought Inspires a Boom In Pseudoscience, From Rain Machines To 'Water Witches'

gman003 Re: A fool and their money (259 comments)

Okay, but what are the odds of randomly drilling and finding water? Or consulting a geologist instead of a wizard? As others have noted, Ireland isn't exactly the Sahara, it wouldn't be too unusual to find water.

4 days ago

No, a Stolen iPod Didn't Brick Ben Eberle's Prosthetic Hand

gman003 Re:Slashdot got a sensational story wrong? (122 comments)

Are you reading the same Slate I read? Slate got my eyes by hiring Dr. Phil Plait, who is basically a full-time anti-science debunker, one who is specifically against anti-vaxxers, astrologers and conspiracy theorists. And although I don't often read many of their other authors, I've never seen an anti-vax or anti-GMO article there either. They've got their share of inanity (the advice blogger is almost hilariously bad), and they link to bullshit sites like Buzzfeed, but "science illiterate" isn't one of the complaints I'd voice about them.

4 days ago

Old Doesn't Have To Mean Ugly: Squeezing Better Graphics From Classic Consoles

gman003 Re:No device necessary (166 comments)

I actually run into emulation errors with games I want to play on a semi-regular basis.

Which emulators are you using? For NES/SNES/GBC/GBA, I've been using higan, and I've yet to find a single emulation error. Checking the forums, the kind of emulation bugs still getting reported are literally "on the Super Game Boy player for the SNES, an obscure series of cross-system memory writes with multiple joypads enabled ends up writing the wrong value to a register, which breaks this contrived test case". So it seems to be exceptionally solid. For more recent systems, yeah, I haven't found any truly good low-level emulators, but those are also not the ones you'd be breaking out the CRT display for.

5 days ago

Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

gman003 Re:Global Warming? (273 comments)

You're asking for a simple answer to a very complex question. I already simplified it as much as possible while still having any meaning.

about a week ago

Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

gman003 Re:Global Warming? (273 comments)

Current estimates are that we are dumping 40 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere per year, for a total of about 550 billion tons since 1870.

about a week ago

Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

gman003 Re:Global Warming? (273 comments)

The current upswing seems to have begun sometime in the 19th century, although the dramatic increase only began in the 1920s or so, and it really took off in the '70s.

about a week ago

Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

gman003 Re:Global Warming? (273 comments)

a) What hiatus? The hiatus only appears when you use incomplete data. citation
b) Uh, what? I don't even know what you're talking about there.
c) Plant (and algae) growth is a negative feedback loop on CO2, but it doesn't work on the same timescales. We're dumping centuries worth of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. And we're combining that with deforestation. By the time plants have grown to stabilize the temperature, we'll be stabilized several degrees over our current temperature, and that's assuming any positive feedback loops don't override it (look at the "clathrate gun hypothesis" for an example of what could happen).

about a week ago

Numerous Methane Leaks Found On Atlantic Sea Floor

gman003 Re:Global Warming? (273 comments)

Stop arguing with strawmen. I really hope you got upvoted by shills, because the alternative is that some people have actually bought into the propaganda, which sickens me to consider.

The science that is settled is:
a) The average global temperature is rising
b) Increased CO2 levels cause increased temperatures
c) Humans are releasing far more CO2 than can naturally be absorbed

Those are the settled science - or as most people call them, facts. You will see GW defenders trot out the "settled science" line because people still try to deny those fundamental facts.

Those three facts lead to a settled conclusion:
d) Human activity is causing increases in global temperature.

Again, if you're arguing that, you are either grievously misinformed, or do not understand how logic works, or have decided that you want to argue for a point you know to be wrong.

That humans are contributing is settled science. The extent to which we are contributing is mostly-settled - we know we are the largest factor, but we don't have a complete and clear picture as to how secondary effects (ie. global-warming-caused global warming) or natural effects (solar variance) affect things.

The precise models of "given conditions A, B, C and D, what temperatures can we expect in the next X years at places Y and Z?" are not settled. Further, the data we give those models is not entirely precise, because getting absolute perfect knowledge of the entire planet is basically impossible.

But this does not invalidate the entire argument. You can say "physicists don't know how gravity works for supermassive singularities at nuclear scales", and say that physics is not "settled science". You would be correct. However, if you try to use that to argue that scientists don't know why the Earth orbits the Sun, you're committing serious errors of logic.

And if you then try to argue that you can build a giant but rickety skyscraper over the city, because it can't fall over because gravity isn't a settled science, well, you're just using broken logic to try to make a quick profit despite the fact that you will inevitably kill people when it falls over because hey, science may not be able to figure out the exact second it's going to collapse but we know it's not gonna stay up forever. I hope you managed to understand that metaphor there.

about a week ago

Princeton Nuclear Fusion Reactor Will Run Again

gman003 Re:Public cynicism about fusion (147 comments)

That gives me an idea. If you build this in a way that looks cool (obviously make it functional first and foremost, but style it whenever you get a chance), you could rent it out to Hollywood studios needing a set.

Make a control room with lots of blinkenlights, put in a window to something that glows (it can be the capacitors or whatever, if putting a window into a tokemak is a bad idea, which it probably is), have lots of big cables running around, and so on. And make every room spacious enough that you can fit a camera crew inside it. Charge them $50K/day to use it as a set, only conditions being that they can't alter or break the functional parts, and any new parts they add have to be removed once they stop using the set.

This doesn't have to fund the entire project, it just has to pay off the cost of the cosmetics and the downtime, and after that it's free money. If you spent a quarter-million dollars making it look like something out of Star Trek, you could pay that off with a week of filming Star Trek XII or whatever number they're up to now.

Plus - the public outreach. The general public are, unfortunately, idiots. You could be doing some amazing research, be the top lab in the world in your field, and they would just complain about "their" tax money being spent on it. But making something "mad bitchin'"? They can get behind that.

about a week ago

Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

gman003 Sufficiently (191 comments)

I think I'm sufficiently prepared for any likely disaster.

I'm not really at threat from earthquakes - the biggest one in recent history was only 5.8. Hurricanes are more common, but more to country folk (with the trees and lengthy loss of power - now that I live downtown, I'm not worried about that). Floods are a risk, but I live fairly high up on the hills so I should be decently protected from that. Any tsunami that can make it 100km inland is going to kill me no matter what, so no use prepping for that. There's always the unpredictable disasters - fire, asteroids, and whatnot - but my preparations should be sufficient for the stuff most likely to affect me.

I have a week's supply of clean water (plus whatever is in the fridge at any given time), as well as a good amount of non-perishable food. I have a flashlight and numerous spare batteries. I have a cell phone that can last two days without recharging, if I conserve. In my car, I have more emergency supplies (more food, first aid, and blankets in case I'm trapped in snow). I always keep at least a quarter tank in it, in case I need to evac. I'm well situated for the recovery - I'm within walking distance of a major rail line, an interstate highway, and a small dock, so once the pieces start getting put back together, I can be there. The only thing I'm really lacking is an emergency radio.

Most importantly, I've found that I tend to react well in disasters. I freeze for about five seconds while my brain dumps adrenaline into everything, but then I act both quickly, and mostly correctly. Fire alarm goes off at 1AM? I'm the first one out, and I still checked every door along the way to avoid flashovers. Earthquake? I went for the door frame - an incorrect response once I did the research, but a) that was what I had been taught, b) it was still better than the people who left the building, but stayed almost directly under the large glass windows, and c) it was *something* - a lot of people didn't do anything until someone started telling them to. So yeah, I'm mentally prepared in that I know what to do, and seem to have lucked into being one of the ones who actually does it when the time comes.

about a week ago

Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

gman003 Backup, not storage (193 comments)

I read TFA. They're not using them as "storage" in the sense of active, accessible storage. It's a backup system.

What they're trying is, instead of storing redundant copies of everything on multiple drives (for resilience and geolocality), they're keeping one copy live and keeping backups on blu-ray.

So there's never a latency of minutes while it loads data from Blu-Ray, you just might be routed to Siberia or something to get the one active copy. If that copy's bad, error (restore from backup during next nightly batch or something).

about two weeks ago

Rightscorp's New Plan: Hijack Browsers Until Infingers Pay Up

gman003 Re:wouldn't that be... (376 comments)

Mr. Steele is my porn name. Am I exempt?

about two weeks ago

Is Storage Necessary For Renewable Energy?

gman003 Good thing there's renewable storage (442 comments)

Why does everyone seem to think that the only way to store electricity is in a battery?

Flywheels are a thing. They might not scale up as effectively but they're definitely an option. But really, anything that stores electrical energy as potential energy will work.

But there's a better solution - hydropower storage.

Near where I live, there's a nice artificial lake made by a hydroelectric dam. Not too far away is a big nuclear power plant. During the night, power demand is very low, but nuclear reactors don't throttle down very well so there's an excess. You know what they do with that?

They pump water upstream, back into the reservoir, thus storing that electricity for when the demand is high the next day and they let it drop back down. That artificial lake basically gets artificial tides - every day the water level drops, and every night it rises back up.

Guess what? Most renewables are also at their highest output during the day. Why not use clean, renewable storage for this clean, renewable energy? Why does everyone seem to assume the choices are "nasty expensive chemical batteries" or "zero storage requiring demand-side hacks to keep things from falling apart"?

about two weeks ago

Two Years of Data On What Military Equipment the Pentagon Gave To Local Police

gman003 Checked my own state (264 comments)

For Virginia, I skimmed through and found:
* Basically every county, city and even college police were involved. Specifically which department got each thing isn't listed.
* 2 "laser range-finder/target designators". They listed laser range-finders with a different name, so these are definitely ones that could illuminate a target for bombing. Scary.
* 4 explosive ordnance disposal robots
* 1 mine-resistant vehicle
* 23 5.56mm rifles, 14 7.62mm rifles, 4 .45 pistols and 3 12ga "riot-type" shotguns. I did not notice any other arms, specifically .50 rifles. Interestingly, there were no multiple transfers of weapons - either only one gun was given to each department, or they're logging individual serial numbers, or they're lying their ass off.
* On a lighter note, a single electronic calculator, a bicycle, two golf carts and a "mule" were also listed. Whether that mule was an M274 truck or an actual mule is unspecified - the M274 was obsoleted in the '80s while mules continue to be used in Afghanistan, so an actual mule isn't that implausible.

about two weeks ago

Is Dolby Atmos a Flop For Home Theater Like 3DTV Was?

gman003 Pssssh (197 comments)

It's not even a fad - it's dead on arrival. Most people don't even use 5.1 speakers. Hell, most don't even use 2.1. Anything that requires that much dedication of the room to audio is not going to sell to the mass market. Period.

3D TV at least had a vague hope of succeeding in the mass market. If they can ditch the glasses, they might actually succeed. But people are lazy and don't want to put any effort into their mindless entertainment. Putting glasses on to watch a movie was too much for them. Do you really think setting up a shitload of speakers all around the room is going to pass?

about two weeks ago

Processors and the Limits of Physics

gman003 Re:Density limit - not computational limit (168 comments)

Odd that TSMC is so pessimistic, because Intel claims their 22nm node was their most high-yield ever, and even their 14nm yield is pretty high for this early in development. Perhaps the multi-gate FinFETs helped? I know TSMC is planning FinFET for 16nm later this year. That's not a "radical manufacturing breakthrough" but it is a pretty substantial change that could change their yields considerably.

about two weeks ago

Processors and the Limits of Physics

gman003 Density limit - not computational limit (168 comments)

Congratulations, you identified the densest possible circuits we can make. That doesn't even give an upper bound to Moore's Law, let alone an upper bound to performance.

Moore's Law is "the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles every two years". You can accomplish that by halving the size of the transistors, or by doubling the size of the chip. Some element of the latter is already happening - AMD and Nvidia put out a second generation of chips on the 28nm node, with greatly increased die sizes but similar pricing. The reliability and cost of the process node had improved enough that they could get a 50% improvement over the last gen at a similar price point, despite using essentially the same transistor size.

You could also see more fundamental shifts in technology. RSFQ seems like a very promising avenue. We've seen this sort of thing with the hard drive -> SSD transition for I/O bound problems. If memory-bound problems start becoming a priority (and transistors get cheap enough), we might see a shift back from DRAM to SRAM for main memory.

So yeah, the common restatement of Moore's Law as "computer performance per dollar will double every two years" will probably keep running for a while after we hit the physical bounds on transistor size.

about two weeks ago

Telegram Not Dead STOP Alive, Evolving In Japan STOP

gman003 Re:why STOP in telegrams? (144 comments)

Morse code did not originally have punctuation. A period is also referred to as a "stop" or "full stop", so they would just use S-T-O-P in the place of a period.

about three weeks ago


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