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Google Kills Orkut To Focus On YouTube, Blogger and Google+

ribuck Obligatory Orkut joke (71 comments)

Larry Page says to Sergey Brin: "Hey Sergey, did you know that Orkut has ten million Brazillian users?"

Sergey looks puzzled, then says "Larry, remind me again how many is a brazillion..."

about 7 months ago

Operation Wants To Mine 10% of All New Bitcoins

ribuck Re:What about the alternative virtual coins ? (275 comments)

A bitcoin is a unit of measurement. It's no more meaningful to ask what a bitcoin looks like than to ask what a centimeter (or an inch) looks like.

The global shared ledger of the Bitcoin system, the "block chain", holds transactions. Each transaction contains inputs and outputs. All inputs must be valid outputs of a previous transaction. Inputs and outputs have a size specified in bitcoins (with the base unit being 0.00000001 bitcoin, also known as a "satoshi"). All outputs are labelled with a bitcoin receiving address, which is the hash of a public key. The receiving address was generated by the holder of the corresponding private key, who can spend the corresponding output as the input to a new transaction.

A miner collects unprocessed transactions and attempts to get them accepted into the block chain. By consensus (enforced through software), each block is accepted if accompanied by a valid hash whose value is less than a certain limit. Miners compete against each other to be first to find a suitable hash for a new block, because each block is allowed to include a reward for the miner. The reward is a freshly minted output.

The consensus (enforced through software) is that the block reward halves approximately every 4 years, such that the total bitcoins issued will asymptotically approach a fixed maximum of 21 million. Currently the reward is 25 bitcoins per block.

The threshold for a valid hash adjusts approximately every 10 days to ensure that new blocks are produced approximately every ten minutes. This is expressed as the "difficulty factor", and will rise as more hashing power joins the network.

about 10 months ago

Mathematician: Is Our Universe a Simulation?

ribuck 64 bits ought to be enough for anyone (745 comments)

Diameter of the observable universe is 10e26 meters.
Planck length is just over 10e-35 meters.

Therefore, 61 bits per dimension is enough to represent everything we can see. Add a few bits for various flags, and it fits nicely into a 64 bit register.

about a year ago

Watch Steve Jobs Demo the Mac, In 1984

ribuck Re:That brings back memories... (129 comments)

It's tough to describe how space-age that stuff was in the 1980s

They were amazing times. I remember having my mind blown by a demonstration of the Apple Lisa in 1983.

In this video, when they show the Paint program, listen to the gasps of wondrous amazement when the "eraser" tool is demonstrated.

1 year,4 days

Flattr Adds Support For Funding In Bitcoin

ribuck Re:How to get them though? (60 comments)

I'd love to use bitcoin more but I'm having a hard time getting any

An easy way to get bitcoins is to sell your second-hand stuff for bitcoins at http://bitmit.net/

about a year and a half ago

Length of Applause Not Tied To Quality of Presentation

ribuck You can start people clapping really easily (138 comments)

When I was in my teens, I was watching a circus. Between every act, a cleaner with a broom and a garbage bag would clear any detritus from the ring.

After a few acts, I clapped this guy, just for a laugh. To my surprise, everyone else joined in. From that point on, until the end of the show, the cleaner got rapturous applause every time!

about a year and a half ago

Timothy Lord Discovers the Good Night Lamp at CES (Video)

ribuck The first online appliance that non-geeks discover (236 comments)

This product is significant because it will be the first online appliance that most non-geeks will discover.

After people get used to the Good Night Lamp, they won't bat an eyelid when their car tweets that it has just received a parking ticket (and by the way, the front left tire is half-flat). They'll take it in good stride when their refrigerator emails to say that it is shutting down unless the six-month-old lump of rotting blue cheese is removed by midnight.

People will expect their toothpaste tube to order the next tube to be delivered just in time, and won't be surprised if the park bench posts a YouTube video of their fat ass sitting on it.

about 2 years ago

New Call For Turing Pardon

ribuck Re:Agree complete (231 comments)

Parliament can and should come out and say "Many years ago, our country adopted laws and policies which we now know were morally wrong. We apologize for those acts. We cannot undo all of the wrong that was done, but this is what we are doing: repealing all laws against victimless crimes, and releasing everyone currently imprisoned for victimless crimes

Fixed it for you!

more than 2 years ago

The Scourge of Error Handling

ribuck There is a better way to use exceptions (536 comments)

But even in exception-based languages there is still a lot of code that tests returned values to determine whether to carry on or go down some error-handling path

The key to taming exceptions is to use them differently. Any exception that escapes a method means that the method has failed to meet its specification, and therefore you will need to clean up and abort at some level in the call chain. But you don't need to catch at every level (unless your language forces you to), nor should you need to do anything that relies on the "meaning" of the exception. Instead, you take a local action: close a file, roll back the database, prompt the user to save or abandon, etc, and either re-throw or not according to whether you have restored normality. There will only be a few places in your app where this type of cleanup is needed.

If you're not doing it this way, you're using exceptions as a control structure, and that's never going to be clean.

more than 2 years ago

Sandy Island, the Undiscovered Country

ribuck It was never added to OpenStreetMap (182 comments)

Another reason to prefer OpenStreetMap. There's no pressure for contributors to add fake map features in the name of copyright enforcement.

more than 2 years ago

What "Earth-Shaking" Discovery Has Curiosity Made on Mars?

ribuck Re:Either it's life or overeager techies (544 comments)

My guess is that they have found levels of Carbon 14 higher than we can currently explain without living organisms.

That's not quite the same as finding life, but it would be pretty exciting to a scientist.

more than 2 years ago

Wayback Machine Trumps FOI Tribunal

ribuck Head of Comedy (401 comments)

I love how the list of attendees includes Jon Plowman, Head of Comedy.

more than 2 years ago

Slashdot Asks: Beating the Summer Heat?

ribuck Turn off your mining rigs (421 comments)

To beat the summer heat, turn off your Bitcoin mining rigs. If you turn on the air conditioning to compensate, it's going to cost you more electricity than the value of the Bitcoins that you generate.

more than 2 years ago

NASA To Future Lunar Explorers: Don't Mess With Our Moon Stuff

ribuck Let the fun and games begin (346 comments)

Heh, it would be quite a coup for a less-than-friendly space-faring nation to bring back to earth the Apollo 11 lunar lander (descent stage) as a "trophy"!

more than 2 years ago

Jimmy Wales Backs UK Government Bid To Free Academic Data

ribuck Not what it seems! (55 comments)

If the government really wanted tax-funded information to be free, they would just declare that it was public domain. Society would find a way to disseminate that information at zero cost to the taxpayer.

Instead, this looks like a bureaucratic project designed to take years and absorb lots of taxpayer's money, while giving the illusion of making information nominally "free" but retaining control, and giving Jimmy a high-profile ego-stroke in the hope that he may moderate his objection to internet censorship.

more than 2 years ago

Spanish Company Tests 'Right To Be Forgotten' Against Google

ribuck Re:Up Next: Picasso's "Guernica" is banned? (200 comments)

That's right. People tend to do stuff that they know. Those who learn history seem to be doomed to repeat it.

Those who learn underlying principles, rather than study individual historic instances, end up having the tools they need to do things better the next time round.

more than 2 years ago

Major Bitcoin Exchange Ceases Operation

ribuck Re:Bitcoin was designed for early adopters (208 comments)

the creators ... have long since turned their fake bitcoins into real spendable dollars

The public blockchain shows that the majority of coins generated in Bitcoin's first year have not moved.

more than 2 years ago



What did people do on the internet before the Web?

ribuck ribuck writes  |  more than 4 years ago

ribuck writes "The web wasn't invented until 1989, and didn't really catch on until 1993 when the Mosaic browser was released. But the internet is much older than the web. So how did people use the internet in the good old pre-web days? There was email, of course, and FTP, and also a bunch of other interesting protocols. If HTTP and HTML hadn't come along, we might just have enhanced Gopher instead. Many of the pre-web protocols are still in active use, but sometimes it's only nostalgia that keeps them going. Try typing finger seth@swoolley.org at the command line to see how blogging works using steam technology."
Link to Original Source

Internet Uses 9.4% of U.S. Electricity

ribuck ribuck writes  |  more than 7 years ago

ribuck writes "Equipment powering the internet accounts for 9.4% of electricity demand in the U.S., and 5.3% of global demand, according to research by David Sarokin at online pay-for-answers service Uclue. Worldwide, that's 868 billion kilowatt-hours per year. The total includes the energy used by desktop computers and monitors (which makes up two-thirds of the total), plus other energy sinks including modems, routers, data processing equipment and cooling equipment."
Link to Original Source


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