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Ask Slashdot: Open Source vs Proprietary GIS Solution?

jadavis Re:MySQL and Drupal are fine (316 comments)

I've got a database I periodically play with that is all the cities / major towns of the world and can quickly query it with distance data. (as in: Give me everything within 100 miles of Lat,Long)

How many cities/towns are there in the world, actually? That sounds like a trivially small problem.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Open Source vs Proprietary GIS Solution?

jadavis Re:Distance calculation is trivial... (316 comments)

1. Spatial indexing support -- without the ability to index the searches, he'll likely run into a lot of performance problems. Applying a formula to every row to see if it matches might not be viable.

2. Tools and standards -- he needs to interact with ESRI, so using standard formats (e.g. WKT and WKB) and having tools available to convert things for you properly will save him the effort.

3. Requirements tend to expand. If he's doing GIS stuff, and wants to interact with ESRI, there's a good chance he will soon want/need a lot more features.

4. Earth is not a sphere, so the Haversine formula will be inaccurate.

Disclaimer: I have only done very limited GIS stuff. I know other people that do a lot of GIS projects, so my comment above is just based on whatever I picked up through osmosis talking to them.

more than 2 years ago
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Chile Forbids Carriers From Selling Network-Locked Phones

jadavis Re:An outbreak of common sense (291 comments)

That seems like a question of the customer's knowledge at the time of purchase. I didn't think that the phone being locked to one network was any big secret.

In the US, it seems like the customer would have to know that, because the networks are all different here anyway. If you buy a verizon phone, you know it's only going to work on Verizon. I concede that the situation, expectations, etc., may be different in Chile.

But it still doesn't seem like a new law should affect old agreements. Either the original contract was invalid (e.g. maybe due to misrepresentation of the terms), in which case you don't need a new law to throw it out; or the original agreement is valid, in which case it should continue to be valid.

more than 2 years ago
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Chile Forbids Carriers From Selling Network-Locked Phones

jadavis Re:An outbreak of common sense (291 comments)

"As near as I can tell, the claim is that any kind of regulation..."

This isn't just regulating future deals, as most regulations do. This is retroactively changing agreements, just because someone wants it. It isn't even something important, like a land, food, or labor agreement. It's just so they don't have to buy a new phone! I mean, you can get a phone for around US$20 if you really need one.

Laws should be a last resort, not the first tool you always reach for when something isn't ultra-convenient for you.

more than 2 years ago
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Chile Forbids Carriers From Selling Network-Locked Phones

jadavis Re:An outbreak of common sense (291 comments)

"...and must unlock free of charge all devices already sold to costumers through a simple form on their respective websites."

You applaud retroactively changing private contracts? For extreme cases, it can be justified, but for cell phones?!

If a country treats private contracts this way, it discourages investment in a major way.

more than 2 years ago
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For Academic Publishing, Princeton Goes Open Access By Default

jadavis Re:Pay to read (101 comments)

"but some random publisher who did virtually nothing"

If they provide nothing, then why do researchers use them?

more than 2 years ago
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United States Loses S&P AAA Credit Rating

jadavis Re:Obummer (1239 comments)

Keep in mind that the Democrats controlled Congress for two years before the 2008 crisis.

more than 2 years ago
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United States Loses S&P AAA Credit Rating

jadavis Re:Obummer (1239 comments)

"S & P specifically stated that it was because of the lack of new revenues that they did the downgrade."

Read the actual report at standardandpoors.com (it's a full 8 pages, so I don't expect anyone to actually do this). If you're a real partisan and have already made up your mind, you won't be affected by it. But the reality is, there's lots in there for partisans on either side to latch onto.

The report highlights the debt debate political climate, of course. It was hard to reach an agreement, even though everyone knew this needed to be done for a *long* time. The debt ceiling could have been raised and the deficit decreased when the Democrats had control of everything for two years. Or, the House Republicans could have just said "OK, you get whatever you want, and we'll fight for our policies in the next election". Or, they both could have compromised a month earlier, rather than waiting until it was within a day. But none of those things happened. Go ahead and blame whichever party you don't like.

But it also talks about plain old fiscal policy and debt trajectory. Even if there had been a clean debt ceiling increase, it's not like the problem goes away. It just pushes it away a little longer, which is not particularly good. It's unclear that a clean increase would have avoided this rating drop. Again, blame whichever party you don't like: the Republicans in power from 2000-2006, the mixed government from 2006-2008 (of particular interest is that the Democrats controlled Congress for two years before the 2008 crisis), the Democrats in power from 2008-2010, or the mixed government we have now. No story around the fiscal policy really looks good for any party.

It talks about a lack of ability to increase revenues (which could be interpreted as lack of ability to raise taxes, but those things aren't exactly the same).

And it talks about lack of changes to Medicare and other entitlements.

It also talks about the not-so-hot economy. This means fewer people are paying taxes, and the absolute taxes that each person pays are lower (even if the tax rate is the same). It may also mean that more government services (like unemployment) are being consumed, but I'm not sure how significant that is. Again, blame the party you don't like.

What I think we can all agree on is that this is irresponsible. We are demanding more than we can provide, and making up the difference by borrowing more than a third of what the federal government spends. We know this is unsustainable, and we do it anyway because we want, want, want; now, now, now. We then hide our irresponsibility by exempting the government from the accounting standards we require of public businesses.

more than 2 years ago
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SFPD Arrests Suspect In Airbnb Rental Trashing

jadavis Re:Could someone clarify this (179 comments)

My understanding is that you only get the contact information after the deal is sealed. I'm sure there's still a way to back out at that point, but I doubt it's very easy (and probably has some negative consequences on your score as a host).

more than 2 years ago
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SFPD Arrests Suspect In Airbnb Rental Trashing

jadavis Re:It's the risk you take (179 comments)

1. I think we can all agree that the criminals are to blame.

2. The victim used poor judgement, took a bad risk, and unfortunately paid the consequences.

3. If everyone used good judgement, would Airbnb still be in business? If not, what are the ethics of starting a business that relies on customers using poor judgement?

4. Can Airbnb mitigate the risk enough that this is still a viable business for customers using good judgement?

5. Airbnb actively prevents the host from getting personal information about the guest to mitigate the risk for themselves. This is a two-faced: they don't want customers to exchange personal information because they might use it to subvert Airbnb's payment channels, thereby cheating Airbnb out of their income; yet they depend on convincing their customers about the good nature of people (the same people who might cheat Airbnb out of their revenue) so that they will be comfortable renting to strangers.

6. The simple humanitarian aspect of the story is quite troubling. I don't necessarily think that it's Airbnb's responsibility to pay in these situations, but allegedly they tried to get her to be quiet to avoid disrupting a funding round, and they seemed to be taking credit for more help than they actually gave to her (allegedly). Some of these facts a little hazy, but on balance, the Airbnb response doesn't look very nice (and by "nice" I don't mean "give her a bunch of money"). Then, Paul Graham (investor) seems to be defending them, but with a fairly incomplete response, and made some unsubstantiated claims that attack a reporter, who very strongly and completely disputes them.

7. It's also slightly disturbing that so much reputation damage is being done to Airbnb when the facts are fairly hazy (and some actively in dispute). At a high level, Airbnb did do basically what one might expect of them: providing what they could to the police, and trying to make their system a little more robust to such problems in the future (if that's possible). I think this is mostly Airbnb's doing, because they handled the humanitarian aspects so poorly.

more than 2 years ago
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Facebook Trapped In MySQL a 'Fate Worse Than Death'

jadavis Re:Oracle vs Facebook? (509 comments)

"You see, even if you run Postgres on a 64-bit platform, you're limited to XIDs of 2^31, or 2 billion rows."

That is false. You can insert as many rows as you want into a table as long as it's less than 32TB (8KB page size * 4 billion). In practice, people partition tables long before they hit 32TB, so that is not a practical limitation even if you do have more than 32TB. "Typical" rows might fit 100 to a page, so it's more like 400 billion rows per partition of a table in practice.

The XID limitation to which you are referring is much different, and refers to the number of transactions that the system keeps track of total (completed or not). That's OK, because after a while, individual transaction IDs become irrelevant. If transaction ID 100 and 103 both committed a long time ago (there is a technical definition here with several conditions, but it's not important for this discussion), do we really care that they were separate transactions? The answer is no. So vacuum can replace every instance of 100 and 103 with a marker that just says "committed a long time ago".

In fact, you probably want to do this quite a lot more often than every billion transactions (100M is the default). Why burden the system with having to keep track of the difference between 100 and 103 for a long time after that distinction is meaningless? It just happens that the maximum time you can wait is limited to a billion.

Does vacuum have a cost? Yes. Is it a good trade-off? I think so -- it takes care of a lot of cleanup tasks (this is only one) and it does so in the background, batching up work. And it's fairly intelligent about when it works and what it does.

about 3 years ago
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Which Grad Students Are the Most Miserable?

jadavis Re:If you don't value education your country is st (332 comments)

If you believe that people should get a real job instead of an education then you've got a country of predominantly labourers and factory line workers.

The post was about graduate students. They already have about 16 years of education before they decide to become grad students.

Now, I'm sure there's a need for a small minority of people to achieve 20+ years of formal education. But if there are so many that it's becoming "cutthroat", there's a good chance that many of those people shouldn't be there.

However, many people can use their 12-16 years (or perhaps even less) of formal education, combine that with a career and a lot of informal education, and still produce great value for society.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Reaffirms Stance Against Software Patents

jadavis Re:In fairness... (197 comments)

I should also point out that even if they do rely 100% on patents today, then they wouldn't have much to lose if no new software patents were granted. That's because they could keep future developments secret, because they don't depend on publishing their code (as many other software companies do).

So, we can quibble over the details (and I still think they keep the current core algorithms secret), but it's really irrelevant to my point: Eliminating software patents is nearly all upside for Google.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Reaffirms Stance Against Software Patents

jadavis Re:In fairness... (197 comments)

Just because they have a patent with the title "page rank" doesn't mean that they have divulged all of their secrets.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Reaffirms Stance Against Software Patents

jadavis Re:In fairness... (197 comments)

I am not going to bother reading that, because the existence of a patent doesn't refute my claim that most of their core business algorithms are secrets (which is an educated guess; I certainly don't know first-hand). The patents are probably just there because they feel like they should have some patents, and they are probably watered-down or old versions of what they actually care about.

Other companies that release their software actually are releasing many of their core secrets, so they patent them because they have nothing to lose.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Reaffirms Stance Against Software Patents

jadavis Re:In fairness... (197 comments)

OK, I meant that those things that are of competitive advantage to Google are kept secret. It doesn't need to patent the search algorithms or the details of the ranking algorithms or the details of adwords pricing because those things are all secret.

Sure, it open sources other stuff, and that's good. But it would not have patented that stuff anyway. I didn't mention that because it seemed obvious to me, and seemed like a frivolous disclaimer.

more than 3 years ago
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Google Reaffirms Stance Against Software Patents

jadavis In fairness... (197 comments)

Google keeps all of it's software entirely secret, so they don't really have any use for software patents. It's all upside for them.

Not saying I like software patents, though.

more than 3 years ago
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FreeBSD 8.2 Released

jadavis Re:Why use FreeBSD when you can use Linux? (183 comments)

Reasonable filesystem support. ext3 and ext4 are just terrible filesystem for 24x7 production systems.

Yes. I still do not have confidence in either of those filesystems.

First of all, they are fairly old designs. There is no good way to do consistent backups, checksums, or consistent incremental backup. FreeBSD, Mac, Solaris, and even Windows are way ahead here. I'm holding out hope for Btrfs, but it's not really here yet.

And if Linux is going to use an old FS design, you'd think it would at least be stable. But I have no confidence that it is. They are still working through issues like http://lwn.net/Articles/328363/ . There have been many issues that my colleagues or I have encountered with CFQ or ext3/4 ... right now, someone is dealing with a load pattern that apparently causes ext4 to freeze outright (known issue, but I don't have a link).

more than 3 years ago
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Sputnik Moment Or No, Science Fairs Are Lagging

jadavis Re:They just don't get it. (414 comments)

The reason that we're falling behind in science is that we, as a nation, don't value scientists anymore. ... Ivy League PhD's, out of work or "consulting".

I don't understand your point. The first sentence sounds like a cultural values issue, but then all of your examples are about economic realities. There are many things with a high cultural value and a low economic value -- music, for instance.

Have science and math ever really been lucrative careers in general? They have been good paths to other lucrative careers, such as engineering. But I never would have assumed that a PhD in science or math would easily land me a good job.

more than 3 years ago
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The Right's War On Net Neutrality

jadavis What pre-2005 law, specifically? (945 comments)

From wikipedia entry:

In 2003 Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, published and popularized a proposal for a net neutrality rule, in his paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination.

That indicates that people were trying to do this before 2005. Why, if a law already existed?

The summary is the first I've heard of net neutrality as just "reinstating" a law. That word appears nowhere in the wikipedia entry.

Not only that, but there are many different interpretations and degrees of "net neutrality" legislation. So which one was in effect pre-2005?

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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PostgreSQL 9.3 Released

jadavis jadavis writes  |  about a year ago

jadavis (473492) writes "The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces the release of PostgreSQL 9.3, the latest version of the world's leading open source relational database system. This release expands PostgreSQL's reliability, availability, and ability to integrate with other databases. Users are already finding that they can build applications using version 9.3 which would not have been possible before.

See the Release Notes for new features."

Link to Original Source
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PostgreSQL 8.3 released

jadavis jadavis writes  |  more than 6 years ago

jadavis (473492) writes "The release of the long-awaited PostgreSQL version 8.3 has been announced. The press release can be found here. The new feature list includes HOT, which dramatically improves performance for databases with high update activity; asynchronous commit; built-in full text search; large database features such as synchronized scans and reduced storage overhead; built-in SQL/XML support; spread checkpoints; and many more (too many major new features to list here). See the release notes for full details."
Link to Original Source

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