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PostgreSQL 9.3 Will Feature UPDATEable Views

schmiddy Re:What about materialized views? (68 comments)

Materialized views are on the way, hopefully for 9.3. The first pass at this is fairly limited, you have to refresh the matview yourself (i.e. it supports only the "snapshot" type of matview maintenance, per terminology here).

about 2 years ago
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Murder Is Like a Disease (No, Really)

schmiddy Re:Careful you don't run afoul (299 comments)

So I could get a T-72 tank [wikipedia.org] with a smoothbore 125mm gun [wikipedia.org], and it would be legal to keep armed?

No. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Destructive_device for more information. The reason you can have a muzzle-loading smoothbore cannon (i.e. Civil War era) is mentioned at the end of the article. Your tank gun is not muzzle-loading.

Actually, you can sometimes buy functional tanks as a civilian, but they weld the barrels of the big guns shut :-(

about 2 years ago
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Supreme Court Hearing Case On Drug-Sniffing Dog "Fishing Expeditions"

schmiddy Re:Warrant for looking at your house with IR? (451 comments)

Yes, like alcohol.

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make, but alcohol is pretty darn cheap in the USA. Compare the cost of a can of cheap soda ($0.50, give or take) to a can of cheap beer ($0.80, give or take). Then factor in the alcohol taxes which go to the state and Federal government for the beer. In many states, revenue from alcohol/cigarette taxes are a major portion of the state's revenue.

about 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is Going To a Technical College Worth It?

schmiddy Re:School is worthless... (309 comments)

I've donated my time/skills to charity (I've got ~20 years in IT). I received "payment" in value (tax write off). I get far less than what I'm worth (in the form of the write-off), but that's not why I'm doing it.

Uh, you do know that you're not allowed to claim volunteer time worked at a charity as a tax write-off, right? Source: http://www.hrblock.com/free-tax-tips-calculators/deductions-credits/charitable-giving.html#2

You can't deduct the value of your time or services spent on charitable work, but you can deduct mileage or vehicle expenses if you use your car for charitable purposes.

about 2 years ago
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PostgreSQL 9.2 Out with Greatly Improved Scalability

schmiddy Re:That's great and all, but . . . (146 comments)

There is a serious problem with this patch on BSD kernels. All of the BSD sysv implementations have a shm_use_phys optimization which forces the kernel to wire up memory pages used to back SysV segments. This increases performance by not requiring the allocation of pv entries for these pages and also reduces memory pressure. Most serious users of PostgreSQL on BSD platforms use this well-documented optimization. After switching to 9.3, large and well optimized Pg installations that previously ran well in memory will be forced into swap because of the pv entry overhead.

I don't see your comment on the blog (maybe it has to be approved?), but the same issue was raised here during review of the patch. The concern was mostly blown off (most PG developers use Linux instead of BSD, that might well be part of it), but if you had some numbers to back up your post, the -hackers list would definitely be interested. Ideally, you could give numbers and a repeatable benchmark showing a deterioration of 9.3-post-patch vs. 9.3-pre-patch on a BSD. If that's too much work, just the numbers from a dumb C program reading/writing shared memory with mmap() vs. SysV would be a good discussion basis.

about 2 years ago
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AT&T Introducing Verizon-Style Shared Data Plans

schmiddy Re:AT&T bugs me (307 comments)

You do realize they still have to pay for that thing that syncs to your phone. You know the tower and its upkeep, and the lease for the land the tower is on, electricity to run the tower, and all the network to run to that tower, and permits, and taxes on that tower...Its not just the cost of the bandwidth...Why do people not get this...

So after all the towers have been put up, and the investment in infrastructure has been recouped, we should see prices go down. That's why the monthly prices for plans have plunged over the past few years, data allotments and minutes have become more generous, the price per text message has fallen to almost nothing, and you no longer have 2-year contract lock-ins. Right?

more than 2 years ago
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California City May Tax Sugary Drinks Like Cigarettes

schmiddy Re:Please (842 comments)

*SIGH* Need more caffeine before posting on /.

Yeah, a nice cold can of Mountain Dew sounds refreshing right about now :-)

more than 2 years ago
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Wear a Mask During a Protest In Canada: 10 Years In Jail

schmiddy Re:More stupid laws. (342 comments)

Yeah, just like these destructive no-good anarchists destroying perfectly good Starbucks tea for the hell of it:

While disguising their individual faces was imperative, because of the illegality of their protest, dressing as Mohawk warriors was a very specific and symbolic choice.

Sure, let's make masks illegal... can't have people getting away with anything which might possibly be illegal without direct and immediate repercussions.

more than 2 years ago
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Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn Resigns After $1.7 Billion Loss

schmiddy Re:Over priced and bad selection (513 comments)

In my more entrepreneurial moments I've been thinking of setting up a GC exchange corporation where people could trade cards they don't want for a modest fee say 1% off the top. My wife for example would enjoy trading cash for your GC, assuming that store isn't the fat chick mall store (don't recall name sry).

Too bad your idea has already been done, and it works quite well: see plastic jungle.

more than 2 years ago
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Boycott of Elsevier Exceeds 8000 Researchers

schmiddy Re:great, take 'em all down a notch (220 comments)

always ask permission from authors and researchers, but no longer from publishers, as they just want to monetize and gouge.

Careful. Though you may have the permission from the authors to redistribute their works, they may not legally be able to give you such permission. See the rules for journal Cell, one of these Elsevier publications, under "Copyright" section:

Upon acceptance of an article, authors will be asked to transfer copyright. . .

They spell out further rules under Authors' Rights: the author does not retain the right to grant arbitrary redistribution rights to other individuals/corporations (i.e. to you). And these rules are actually some of the more lenient ones I've seen...

more than 2 years ago
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Suggestions For Music Hosting?

schmiddy Some suggestions (225 comments)

I recently did some research into a related topic -- I was looking for hosts for a decent sized (200 GB+) database with generous bandwidth, on a shoestring budget (under $50/month, for the 2-3 machines I need).

First, choose your provider wisely. Your choice of provider may seem like it doesn't matter except for the pricing, but as your post about "unlimited" providers hints, it can and will become very important very quickly once the shit hits the fan (i.e. provider thinks you are using too much disk I/O, or too much bandwidth, or too much space, or whatever -- and promptly kicks you off).

Second, Slashdot actually isn't the best place to ask this question. Hang out in webhostingtalk for a while (e.g. this thread).

Finally, my recommendation for hosting provider: honelive. Take a look at their offerings, and particularly their specials. I jumped on the dedicated Intel Atom dual core, with 250GB storage, when it was $39/month a few months back. Today they are offering a dedicated Core i7 Quad Core with 24 GB RAM, 1TB disk, 5TB bandwidth, for $100/month. Yes you read that right -- these are dedicated machines, and these guys are for real. I sleep easier at night knowing I'm not going to wake up to an email of "we disabled your server because your VPS was using too much I/O and loading down our horribly oversold machines". It's my machine, I run what I want. I know VPSs are all the rage now, cloud computing yadda yadda yadda. And sure, they're great for hosting your personal photo gallery or blog. But take it from me, once you start burning through TBs of monthly bandwidth, and the disk I/O of a 200 GB database, they start looking flimsy real fast, and hosting providers get anxious to see you and your piddly monthly payment gone.

BTW I'm just a happy honelive customer, I have no affiliation with them, no referral codes in this post, etc. I've been burned by a lot of shady VPS providers. Don't get me wrong, there are some great providers (Linode) out there, but you will have to shell out the $$ for them, and I haven't found ANY reputable VPS provider providing the bang for the buck and stability I'm getting with honelive.

Also, I do pay for 2 or 3 other VPSs affiliated with my site, but the needs for these are comparatively tiny, so I suggest just hanging out on lowendbox and grabbing one of the deals there, if you need a few small VPSs with decent bandwidth. You can easily find several providers who will give you a few TB of bandwidth per month for around $5/month. I've used 5ite for such purposes, though I can only give them a lukewarm recommendation. I have a $2/month VPS from Securedragon right now for a similar purpose, and it works well enough (for a 100% expendable machine).

more than 2 years ago
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Eternal Copyright: a Modest Proposal

schmiddy Re:Micky Mouse Copyright (184 comments)

I see you learned bash programming but never bothered to learn about exponents. Hint: your entire "program" boils down to printing 2^(n-1) for various values of n.

more than 2 years ago
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Ask Slashdot: Most Efficient, Worthwhile Charity?

schmiddy Re:Your time is not valuable - your money is (570 comments)

True this. I try to give anonymously to deserving organization where possible, which helps cut down on the donations begging.

more than 2 years ago
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Site Offers History of Torrent Downloads By IP

schmiddy Re:It's a facebook account/details farming scam (340 comments)

an impossible (!) captcha

Thought I was the only one who noticed this. The captcha can not be solved -- I tried three times, and each time I was pretty sure I had the captcha correct. Each time, it simply refreshed the page with a new captcha. Something about the site smells mighty fishy, like they really really want your Facebook account details for some reason...

more than 2 years ago
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OPERA Group Repeats Faster-Than-Light Neutrino Results

schmiddy Re:Supernovas (442 comments)

Here's a serious question which has me totally baffled. As the parent says, it's pretty well agreed upon that neutrinos have some mass. Then how do they travel at light speed (let alone possibly faster)? I thought it would take infinite energy for a body with mass to get to light speed?

more than 2 years ago
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After Six Days of Outages, BofA Claims It Hasn't Been Hacked

schmiddy Re:I believe a citation needed is in order here (315 comments)

I have trouble believing one would do 0.7%.

Oh, they still exist. You just have to look around. I've been using Lee County Bank & Trust's reward checking account for 2 or 3 years now. They started out paying 4.5% or so on balances up to $25K. Now they "only" pay 2.5%. (I do expect this deal, and others like it, to evaporate once the new restrictions on debit card fees go into effect, since the "catch" with these deals is you have to use your debit card at least 10 or so times per month, so that the banks can earn their $0.40 per transaction or whatever it is they earn).

Link: Lee County Bank (warning , terrible flash site). There are more such banks cataloged at sites like bankrate.com, I think.

more than 2 years ago
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Deadline Approaches For Registration In Stanford's Free CS Classes

schmiddy Re:watch out for Intro to Databases class... (89 comments)

Sigh, you've missed the entire point of the "Primary Keyvil" articles (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), and many similar ones. Let's go through your drivel point by point.

"Student ID" is an acceptable primary key - you will be able to tell if two rows are duplicates based on this alone.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. A surrogate key, like "student ID", actually is an acceptable "primary key" for a table, but only if you have a real way to tell apart your users, something based on an understanding of an answer to the question "what defines a unique student, and how am I going to verify that?".

It's not automatically generated by the database, which is the primary keyvil syndrome.

VERY WRONG! From the database's point of view, and the "primary keyvil" syndrome, it doesn't matter if you fill in the "student ID" using, say, a database function called SYS_GUID(), or whether you generate this GUID on the client side. Read Part 1 of the Primary Keyvil syndrome articles for another example. But let's take our example of a table of students and run with it. You, the database application developer and schema designer, have created a table of students where the only unique key is a "student ID". Let's pretend you're smart, and you only assign new student IDs to new students coming through the gate on admission day. So far, so good, right?

Well, you're sitting in your office when a freshman comes in and says "Hey, I lost my ID. How do I get a new one". Now you're in a tough spot. You could say "what's your student ID number?", and if the student knows it, then you print off a new student ID for him, since you know who he is based on his ID number, right? Uh oh, you've just opened a door to students impersonating other students. But let's ignore that problem for now... what do you do if the poor kid doesn't know his ID number? Well, you ask him..... his name? Right? What if it's "Joe Smith", and you have fifty of those in your giant state school? Uh, I guess you ask him his name, and his street address, right? That's got to be unique, right? Or maybe his current SSN, those can never change, right? And how do you prove that the student in front of you is really who he says he is?

The frantic grasping around in the above paragraph is why you need to have a good answer to the question "what distinguishes a unique student?" before you go designing a table like this. There are several ways to answer this question: in practice, you might enforce unique constraints on (full name + home phone number), or maybe just a unique key on SSN if you're daring. But either way, relying solely on some arbitrary identifier like "Student ID" with no actual anchor in reality opens all sorts of paths to trouble. (Incidentally, the social security administration has the same problem, they've just thought through and been through the consequences. They have elaborate, formal answers to the question "how do we distinguish unique people, regardless of SSN", for scenarios like assigning new SSNs, changing SSNs, replacing lost social security cards to people who don't remember their SSN, etc etc.)

Another major problem I didn't even touch on, is how your model would prevent a user from getting two student IDs, either intentionally or accidentally. If you haven't answered these fundamental questions, you will have a database full of garbage. Kind of like the No Fly List.

It's as unique as it would be to include the students DNA in number form as the primary key.

Privacy concerns aside, DNA would actually be a totally reasonable way to distinguish unique students -- student comes in to your office, you take a cheek swab, and issue him his replacement ID card. (Hrm, I guess this is ignoring the issue of genetic clones..)

Tangentially related article which it sounds like you need to read, in addition to getting a basic understanding of "surrogate keys": Falsehoods programmers believe about names.

It's splitting hairs, but it's what professors tends to do anyway.

I wish professors would do their jobs, and split hairs about issues like this. Then we'd have fewer cocksure fools on Slashdot. Sigh, one can dream.

more than 2 years ago
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Deadline Approaches For Registration In Stanford's Free CS Classes

schmiddy watch out for Intro to Databases class... (89 comments)

First, let me say that I really appreciate the work Stanford put into these online classes, especially the "free for everyone" aspect. They've done a great job pioneering free online classes _done well_, with lecture videos recorded well plus lecture notes plus banks of review questions plus exams. Really a great package overall.

I'm slowly going through the Machine Learning class, and the course is great. The instructor does a great job of easing the student into an otherwise math-heavy topic with graphing and hand-plotting, "Intuition", and simple examples.

However, I want to discourage anyone from investing a bunch of time in the "Introduction to Databases Course". Here's a slightly-edited explanation I sent to a friend, to whom I had at first recommended the course, before I had a chance to go through some of the videos (just a background note, I've worked with RDBMSs for several years, as an application developer, plus occassionally DBA, plus some work on an OSS RDBMS):

After watching two or three of that class's videos I've decided to give up on it. The course seems to have a needless emphasis on XML data storage, which turns out to be basically useless for real-world big data problems. Plus, either the Professor's presentation is unacceptably sloppy or she just doesn't know what she's talking about: lecture video #2 (or #3, I forget) was particularly bad, with imprecise terminology thrown around (row vs tuple) plus highly questionable database design being presented matter-of-factly (table of students flagrantly violates what's known as "Primary Keyvil"). She dove straight into the use of NULLs in this example table, presenting them as perfectly acceptable -- which would be OK for an "intro to MySQL"-type class, but not for a real course on the background of relational theory and RDBMSs (see "SQL and Relational Theory" and its treatment of NULLs).

Not to dissuade you from taking it of course, there is probably some useful information in there.

Seeing the professor present her table of students as a simple cut-and-dried example, with an explanation that "student ID" was an acceptable primary key, and no other unique keys on the table, really gives me a poor opinion of the professor's real-world subject matter knowledge.

more than 2 years ago
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Retailer Calls Rivals' Bluff On "HDMI Scam"

schmiddy Re:Best Buy Loves Selling Snake Oil (664 comments)

I wonder if they train people to be this ignorant? Or could places that sell cables for this price just attract people who buy into the BS?

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. - Upton Sinclair

more than 3 years ago

Submissions

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schmiddy schmiddy writes  |  more than 7 years ago

schmiddy writes "A court in Brussels, Belgium, has just found Google guilty of violating copyright law with its Google News aggregator. According to the ruling, Google News' links and brief summaries of news sources violates copyright law. Google will be forced to be $32,600 for each day it displayed the links of the plaintiffs. Although Google plans to appeal, this ruling could have chilling effects on fair use rights on the web in the rest of Europe as well if other countries follow suit."
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schmiddy schmiddy writes  |  more than 6 years ago

schmiddy writes "IBM is suing Amazon over alleged infringements on E-Commerce patents held by IBM, including patents dating from the 80's such as ""Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog." Amazon is again getting a taste of its own medicine after settling a similar lawsuit last year for $40M."
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schmiddy schmiddy writes  |  about 8 years ago

schmiddy writes "A bill recently introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter called the "National Security Act" aims to legalize the NSA's heretofore secret warrantless wiretapping of American citizens. The bill has already been approved by a Senate Judiciary Committee, and Specter has moved to have the bill voted on via a voice vote or unanimous consent vote next week, which will leave no record of who voted which way on the bill. One small gleam of hope is that Sen. Feinstein has introduced an opposing bill to declare the wiretapping illegal."

Journals

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Bot to Aggregate Webalizer Stats

schmiddy schmiddy writes  |  more than 6 years ago So I made a little bot to crawl Webalizer pages, aggregated via crawling Google results pages. The bot then goes through these Webalizer pages, and parses the Total Hits and User Agent breakdown table to come up with a final tally of hits for Internet Explorer vs. Firefox. I've written up the details here with the raw data if anyone's interested.

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