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Intel Claims Chip Suppliers Will Flock To Its Mobile Tech

steveha Intel isn't going to win this one (91 comments)

I've said it before: companies that are perfectly happy with ARM chips now are not going to be in a hurry to lock themselves in to sole-source chips.


Intel would have to be better than ARM, and not just a little bit better... they would have to be dramatically better, such that the risk of being locked in to a sole source vendor would be worth accepting. It hasn't happened yet and I don't expect it to happen.

It will be difficult for any company, even AMD, to really challenge Intel in the high-end CPU market. But it would take a miracle for Intel to lock down the mobile CPUs market.

Intel's plan:

0) Get everyone locked in to needing to buy chips from Intel.
1) Charge stiff margins for those chips.
2) Profit!

Intel does have some chips in some Android devices, but they aren't charging the stiff margins they would like to charge. I don't think they will ever manage to do it.

Second best would be to not charge stiff margins but at least get a large chunk of the available profits from the mobile space. But I don't think they will be able to push out ARM and gain majority share of the market; they will continue to be a niche player.

about two weeks ago

Joey Hess Resigns From Debian

steveha Re:Unfortunate, but not surprising (450 comments)

Another turn in the wrong direction, in my opinion, is Wayland, which breaks many highly useful (to users) capabilities provided by X11.

If Keith Packard thinks Wayland is a good idea, I'm inclined to trust him. And, he does.

Perhaps you don't fully understand what Wayland is or why the senior X11 developers think it is a good idea. Please read through this and see if it changes your mind:


about two weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Minimizing Oil and Gas Dependency In a Central European City?

steveha Non-expert suggestions (250 comments)

I'm not an expert, but you asked on Slashdot so I guess you are willing to listen to non-expert opinion.

  • Insulate as much as you can. In the USA we can hire experts to come out, look at a building, make recommendations, and then carry out the work. My home, for example, had its insulation upgraded as much as possible: thick insulation in the attic space, as much insulation into the walls as they could take (not much), and windows replaced with triple-pane windows filled with krypton gas.
  • If you expect to lose power for only short times, it may be enough to have a large capacity UPS on your server. For long-term independence you will need a generator.
  • Could your server needs be handled by a low-power server? I use an HP Proliant Microserver which is pretty much a laptop motherboard (uses an AMD Turion II mobile processor). Perhaps you could use an actual laptop for your server and have a built-in "UPS" in the battery.
  • For rooftoop solar, photovoltaic panels would be simplest, but I believe that panels that collect heat are the most efficient. I suggest you Google search for "solar off-grid" and "solar water heating" and read about these.

about three weeks ago

Slashdot Skeptics Were Right About Dual-Core TK1 Performance

steveha It may be a bit early to pronounce doom (1 comments)

The user experience is a bit laggy on the first-ever device using the new chip. PROOF! Proof that the chip is a complete failure!

Hmm. Maybe we should wait a while and see if any updates from Google will improve things.

about three weeks ago

Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

steveha Re:Vote by mail. (388 comments)

Why make it harder to vote for people who have to work, single parents, the elderly, those without transportation, etc?

When in-person voting was standard in my state, there was always a provision for "absentee" ballots, available to anyone who would have a true hardship to vote in person. I never proposed getting rid of all absentee ballots; I just think they should be limited to those who truly need them, rather than all voters mailing all ballots always.

The number of fraud cases is likely extremely low, to the point of being a statistical anomaly.

How can you know this?

about three weeks ago

Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

steveha Re:Vote by mail. (388 comments)

If you prevent 1,000 cases of fraud by stopping 10,000 legitimate voters then would you really say that is a solution?

Do you have any evidence whatsoever that in-person voting stops any voters, let alone ten thousand of them?

If in-person voting is such an unreasonable burden, then why was it the way my state did things from the time it became a state until a couple of years ago?

Do you at least agree that voter fraud is a problem? If an honest count of the people's votes would choose candidate A, but ballot-stuffing manages to swing the election over to candidate B, would you agree that some harm has been done?

I claim that 1,000 fraudulent votes is equivalent to disenfranchising 1,000 legitimate voters. Do you agree, or do you disagree with this statement? If you disagree, then why?

It is disenfranchisement for the sake of exclusion, not actually making the system better.

Who is trying to disenfranchise voters for the sake of exclusion? Who are the voters to be disenfranchised?

Did you intend to specifically imply that I'm a liar, that I don't actually care about voter fraud but just want to disenfranchise people? If so, upon what evidence do you base this conclusion?

about three weeks ago

Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

steveha Re:Vote by mail. (388 comments)

I don't personally have any evidence that it's happening. James O'Keefe, however, collected video evidence that if it did happen, that the Democratic party operatives he talked to would be okay with it and encouraged it.

"I mean, that's not even like lying or stealing. If someone throws out a ballot, you should just... do it."


But isn't this sort of beside the point? If I told you about a vulnerability in a server, would you (a) fix the server, or (b) demand to know whether I had any evidence that the vulnerability was actually being exploited?

about three weeks ago

Another Election, Another Slew of Voting Machine Glitches

steveha Re:Vote by mail. (388 comments)

Much better solution. No lines. No scheduling around work. Several weeks to study out everything.

It's also much easier and lower-risk to vote fraudulently by mail. Even if someone comparing the signatures detects a forged vote, it will be pretty much impossible to find the person who forged it.

I much prefer showing up at a polling place and marking a piece of stiff paper or light cardboard, with volunteers (all political parties welcome) watching everything. I want the ballots hauled away in locked boxes and watched at all times.

Go ahead and use computer scanners to tally the votes. But keep the ballots as a paper trail. Recounts are easy to do and humans can easily check up on the results from the scanners.

And, polling places can have unofficial vote tally scanners that count votes all day and then forward the results to the state department of elections, so the news can find out who appears to be winning.

In fact, the above is the way elections used to work where I live; in recent years the state has gone to mail-in ballots only.

Where I live, the state department of elections mails out a voters's guide many weeks before the actual election, so it's easy to study. Ideally the guide should include a printed sheet that would list the offices for which you could vote, so you don't even have to figure that out on your own from your voter's ID card or whatever.

about three weeks ago

Internet Archive Launches Arcade of Classic Games In the Browser

steveha Re: How long will it last... (94 comments)

Politics is the art of the possible. There are big-money companies that really, really don't want some properties to go into the public domain... and I don't think it will be possible to make a simple scheme like 14+14 in the face of their opposition.

I think the best we can hope for, the best we can realistically obtain in the current political environment, is to allow copyright holders to renew forever, but absolutely require that renewal (nothing automatic).

So Disney will pay people to meticulously track every old Disney cartoon, will pay the copyright renewal fee on each one every 5 years or whatever, and won't oppose letting other stuff fall into the public domain. Meanwhile, wacky old video games where nobody is even sure who controls the copyright would fall into the public domain, as nobody would pay the fee.

I don't even care how much the fee is. Make it $1. What I want is for the default case be that things fall into the public domain.

I don't view the above solution as perfect, but I do think it is the best that we can hope for in the current environment.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

steveha Re:Journalctl logging is more secure (bug #1098132 (928 comments)

where's the problem?

Upon re-reading the original post, I have figured out what I missed the first time around: the original poster doesn't trust the SystemD journal system and wants the ability to completely remove it. (I had tunnel vision on the remote logging thing; mea culpa.)

The original poster also claims that, as existing logging solutions are well-understood, that using the SystemD journal system might expose the owner of the computer to liability. I consider this idea rather wild; I'm not a lawyer but I'm pretty sure that no court would consider it negligent to use the provided logging daemon that Red Hat has been shipping for years now. And, one of the reasons for the binary format in the first place is to make it impossible to alter a log without the changes being detected; this seems like a rather strong advantage with respect to liability.

I would like to see statistics of how many computers are running SystemD, and of those, how many have had actual problems with the journal. If it's as bad as the original poster is claiming, then let's see the numbers.

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

steveha Re:Journalctl logging is more secure (bug #1098132 (928 comments)

syslog-ng is receiving a copy of what journald is deciding to write

Yes, that seems pretty clear. What of it?

The original poster was claiming that SystemD is unsuitable for servers because there was no possible way to get remote logs, and thus if someone cracks the server he could mess with the logs. Installing rsyslog would solve the problem. The attacker could scramble the SystemD binary journal files, but not the remote log.

Why should I care whether the log data was collected by the SystemD logger (I guess it's called "journald"?) before rsyslog got it? As long as the log messages are faithfully passed along, where's the problem?

about three weeks ago

Ask Slashdot: Can You Say Something Nice About Systemd?

steveha Re:Journalctl logging is more secure (bug #1098132 (928 comments)

Caveat: I am not a sysadmin. But I have read up on SystemD.

With systemd, one can't even remotely log a journal natively

Why not? SystemD offers its own logging system, but does nothing to prevent you from installing a more capable logging daemon such as rsyslog.

Note that before Fedora 20, rsyslog was installed by default, along with the SystemD logging. In the announcement it says:

rsyslog will remain the recommended option to install if users require /var/log/messages, need support for the syslog network protocol, or need to enforce strict data lifecycle policies. It's sufficient to install and start rsyslog to get /var/log/messages and BSD syslog support.

Emphasis added by me.


You stated "one can't even remotely log a journal"... well, one can if one is able to type: yum install rsyslog

So IMHO your whole argument fails. Not only is it not impossible, it's not even difficult.

...this entire proposition by samzenpus is inane. When one thinks backwards from what the motivations might be, none of them are good and make me lose that much more respect for the site.

The story was submitted by a user named "ewhac". Unless you are accusing "ewhac" of being a sock puppet fro samzenpus, this whole mini-rant seems rather pointless.

about three weeks ago

Microsoft Works On Windows For ARM-Based Servers

steveha Re:There may be no efficiency gains (113 comments)

My understanding is that ARM-based microservers are attractive for low-compute workloads. For example, a half-rack with 1600 microservers in it would do a great job of coping with the Slashdot effect (it could spin up a whole bunch of web servers).

You are right that if you are scaling out major number crunching jobs, fast Xeon boxes will work out to be more efficient. But those Xeon boxes would be wasted just serving up web pages.

HP has released figures claiming that 1,600 of its Project Moonshot Calxeda EnergyCore microservers, built around ARM-based SoCs, packed into just half a server rack were able to carry out a light scale-out application workload that took 10 racks of 1U servers -- reducing cabling, switching, and peripheral device complexity. The result, according to HP, was that carrying out the workload used 89 percent less energy and cost 63 percent less.


I think Docker and microservers will turn out to be a great combination. Lightweight Docker containers should run great on the microservers.
IMHO the ARM competitors to Xeon are principally interesting to show that you won't be "painting yourself into a corner" if you adopt the ARM platform: it still has plenty of room to improve.

about a month ago

Ex-CBS Reporter Claims Government Agency Bugged Her Computer

steveha Re:She's.. (235 comments)

A quick console deltree "My Documents/Bengazi" while the computer is idle is easier and less obvious to the user.

From the article, quoting Ms. Attkisson:

It was described to me by the computer experts I consulted with afterwards that that was purely an attempt to let me know that they could do that, that they were watching, that they were in my computer.

She's not a computer expert and this part of the story I would want more proof before I buy it. I'd like to know who looked at her computer: what exactly this person's qualifications were and what exactly this person found.

She said that the malware found on her laptop was commonly used by the government... what was it exactly? Is there any malware in the world that is effective but isn't used by anyone except U.S. government agencies? From the article:

Attkisson says the source, who's "connected to government three-letter agencies," told her the computer was hacked into by "a sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that's proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency."

Slashdot collectively knows a lot about computers. Has anyone heard of spyware that matches the above description?

If I were a government spook and I was trying to crack a reporter's computer, I would use an off-the-shelf exploit, not something that pointed straight back at the government. I presume that computer spooks know where the black-hat marketplaces are, and thus where to buy new cracks as they go up for sale.

As for the classified documents, again I want more evidence. She should have gone to the FBI immediately with those documents if they really were classified. On the one hand that seems like a far-fetched thing, but on the other hand, the current Presidential administration is the first administration ever to prosecute journalists as spies.

P.S. Ms. Attkisson's first-hand stories about her bosses spiking stories, White House staff yelling at her for not being "reasonable", and all the rest of it are completely plausible to me (and fall within her area of expertise).

about a month ago

Help ESR Stamp Out CVS and SVN In Our Lifetime

steveha Summary of what ESR is doing (245 comments)

ESR has already helped several free software projects convert from CVS to Git using his existing computer. The bigger the project, the longer it takes. (Each attempt to convert the Emacs repos takes 8 hours with his current computer.) He has studied the C code for doing the conversion, and determined that the best sort of computer for doing these conversions would be as fast as possible (doesn't matter how many cores; this is a single-thread process) and would have as much RAM as possible. Graphics card? Whatever, who cares. Keyboard, mouse? Not going to buy those, he already has those. Oh, and he would prefer it not sound like a leaf blower so he is looking for quiet power supply and a case with large quiet fans.

He says that several people spontaneously donated money to help him buy a better computer. So he opened up a discussion for how to best spend the money.

Several people urged him to only use ECC RAM, which means either an AMD chip or a Xeon. Someone just donated $1000 (!!!) so he has pretty much settled on the Xeon.

Once he has this, he will go around to free software projects and offer to do the conversion for them. His plan is to grab a copy of the CVS repo, run the conversion to make sure there are no surprises, then ask the project maintainers to stop modifying the CVS repo while he runs the final conversion.

This seems like a reasonable service for him to be offering. Instead of each project figuring out the conversion process, he will become an expert on CVS to Git conversions (with more experience than anyone else) and he will have the purpose-built computer to do the conversions as quickly as possible. So he really will be saving time and hassle for the various projects.

P.S. He converted the NetHack repos, and stirred up a hornets' nest. Read about it here: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=6389&cpage=1#comment-1207141

about a month ago

Lead Mir Developer: 'Mir More Relevant Than Wayland In Two Years'

steveha Re:I still don't see what's wrong with X (226 comments)

Seriously, what's so broken about X? Is it just a pain in the ass for developers to work with?

You might seek out some of the tech talks given by Wayland developers. They lay it out pretty clearly.

Here's a good one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RIctzAQOe44

From memory, X11 is full of cruft that no longer makes sense. Everyone wants beautifully rendered, anti-aliased fonts, but X11 not only doesn't give you that, if you comply with X11 you can't do that.

Wayland took a look at how X11 is actually used, today, and throws away the cruft that nobody uses anymore. Also Wayland adds a sane API versioning system.

Wayland is exactly as network-transparent as X11 is in actual use these days: not very but you can make it work. Everyone is pretty much asking X11 for a drawing canvas, drawing on it, then giving it to a compositor to display. See above comments about beautifully anti-aliased fonts.

My favorite comment: "Everybody says the UNIX way is small programs that do one thing well. What is the 'one thing' that X11 does well?" He pointed out that at one point X11 had a print server embedded in it (it wasn't a good idea).

TL;DR Several of the top X11 developers think Wayland is a very good idea.

about a month ago

Microsoft Partners With Docker

steveha What is Docker and why should you care? (104 comments)

Docker is sort of an extremely lightweight virtual machines system.

Docker organizes software into "containers". Each container has a complete set of libraries and files, and each container is isolated from the rest of the system. Thus if you need a specific and touchy set of libraries to run Software X, and you need a different specific and touchy set of libraries to run Software Y, you can simply make two containers and run them side by side.

As I understand it, Docker container images use a "snapshots" system to store changes; so the two containers for Software X and Software Y will together be much smaller than two VM images would be.

Using Docker, if developers make a server-side application, they can then hand a container over to production for deployment, and everyone can be confident that the application will run the same in production as it ran in development. (Of course it would still be possible to break things, for example by having different data in the production database compared to the dev test database.) Or, developers could run containers on their laptops and expect them to run the same as on the servers in the office.

Unlike VMs, the Docker containers don't run their own kernels. So you can't run a Linux server with Docker that in turn runs OpenBSD in a container.

As I understand it, many people use Docker to run a single process per container. The web server in one container, the email server in another, the SSH server in another, etc. One use case: if you have a web site hosted in the cloud, and the Slashdot effect starts slamming on the web site, the cloud hosting service could spin up another 500 instances of the web site (500 fresh instances of the Docker container, each container running a single process, the web server).

I talked to an expert sysadmin, and he told me "This is the future." I'm going to set up a Docker server at home and learn my way around it.


My reading of the press release is that Microsoft is going to (a) implement the Docker APIs for Windows, so that Windows server applications can be container-ized; and (b) add the ability to run Linux containers. The latter is not implausible; Windows NT has always had so-called "personalities" and Posix has been available as a personality for decades.


about a month ago

Wind Power Is Cheaper Than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

steveha Article ignores variability (610 comments)

The article discusses wind power vs. coal and other types of power purely on the basis of cost, with absolutely no discussion of reliability.

If wind power is as cheap as he claims, then with a reliable storage technology wind would be a total no-brainer. But as it is, wind can only be part of a strategy. You can't count on wind for base load, and when wind varies you need to have other types of power (such as natural gas) ready to pick up the slack.

I'm hoping that the Ambri liquid metal batteries will do everything that Professor Sadoway claims. If so, they will change everything, and I will be cheering for more wind and solar. Until then, wind power only can serve as a niche producer.

about a month and a half ago

Wind Power is Cheaper than Coal, Leaked Report Shows

steveha Article ignores variability (4 comments)

The article discusses wind power vs. coal and other types of power purely on the basis of cost, with absolutely no discussion of reliability.

If wind power is as cheap as he claims, then with a reliable storage technology wind would be a total no-brainer. But as it is, wind can only be part of a strategy. You can't count on wind for base load, and when wind varies you need to have other types of power (such as natural gas) ready to pick up the slack.

I'm hoping that the Ambri liquid metal batteries will do everything that Professor Sadoway claims. If so, they will change everything, and I will be cheering for more wind and solar. Until then, wind power only can serve as a niche producer.

about a month and a half ago



How Apple Makes the New Mac Pro

steveha steveha writes  |  about a year ago

steveha (103154) writes "Yesterday Apple released a new YouTube video giving a peek at how the new Mac Pro is manufactured. The Atomic Delights blog explains more about what you can see in the video.

Deep drawing is a process that very efficiently produces a "net shape" part. Apple could have just chucked a giant hunk of aluminum in a lathe and created the same part, but that amount of metal removal is extremely inefficient. Deep drawing efficiently creates a hunk of metal that is very close to the final shape of a Mac Pro in just a couple of operations.


E-voting machine votes 100% wrong

steveha steveha writes  |  about 4 years ago

steveha (103154) writes "The New Bern, NC Sun Journal newspaper reports that some local voters have seen the e-voting machine record the exact opposite of the voter's request. There is a button to vote a straight Republican ticket, and when pushed, it voted a straight Democrat ticket. A local voter observed this behavior four times in a row; the fifth time, the button worked correctly. If ATMs were this unreliable, no bank would use them. Why is this level of failure acceptable in voting machines?"
Link to Original Source

Self-Cleaning Solar Panel Tech: 40% better yields

steveha steveha writes  |  more than 4 years ago

steveha (103154) writes "From the article: "The technology involves first using a transparent, electrically sensitive material deposited on glass or a transparent plastic sheet covering the panels. Sensors monitor the levels of deposited dust on the panel. When the dust levels get too high, a charge is applied to the coating and the dust is physically move across the panel via the charge and dumped off the edges.

The procedure uses a minimal amount of energy, making it a viable cleaning solution. It removes 90 percent of dust, greatly improving power output. And best of all, the technology has already been stress tested by NASA space probes and rovers under the harsh Martian climate.""

Link to Original Source

Best Buy offers 3 computers for price of iMac

steveha steveha writes  |  more than 5 years ago

steveha (103154) writes "Microsoft announced a deal offered by Best Buy: a bundle with a desktop computer, a laptop, and a netbook, all with Windows 7 pre-installed, for $1199... the same price as Apple's least-expensive iMac. It was surprisingly hard to find the actual deal on the Best Buy web site, but with some digging I found: http://www.bestbuy.com/windows7pc and click on "PC Home Makeover"."
Link to Original Source

Craig's List used for evil

steveha steveha writes  |  more than 6 years ago

steveha (103154) writes "We've seen stories about bogus Craig's List postings. It happened again and this time, it was an attempt by burglars to cover their tracks. A police officer said "Other Craigslist hoaxes we've seen were malicious..." which begs the question: how often does this sort of thing happen? Is this new, or has anyone ever pulled this sort of stunt with, say, a classified ad in a newspaper? Are people more inclined to believe one of these hoaxes if they read it on the Intarweb?"
Link to Original Source

steveha steveha writes  |  more than 7 years ago

steveha (103154) writes "Scott Adams lost his ability to speak normally, and then got it back again. A few weeks later, he caught a cold, and regressed. His blog tells the story of how he tried an unconventional treatment and how well the treament worked for him, with lots more details on Spasmodic Dysphonia and how to treat it. Extremely interesting reading."


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