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NASA "Mohawk Guy" To Host Radio Show

wb8wsf What a wonderful face for JPL (93 comments)

I wish Boback the best of luck on this show, and lots more in the future.

Imagine, if people start thinking of science folks as neat...

more than 2 years ago

Ask Slashdot: How To Evacuate a Network

wb8wsf Emergency packing (331 comments)

First, triage the equipment.

You likely do not have time to pull disks from systems, so pack computers and
external drives first. Get blankets to protect things. Blankets start at the bottom
to act like a shock absorber.

Things like networking gear and wireless stuff is irrelevant compared to the
computers, and probably lighter. If you CAN, sure, save all that stuff too.

But the data comes first. Don't forget backups.

If there are computers with really really important or sensitive stuff, put
those in someones car in the backseat, again with blankets. If I seem
blanket obsessed, it's because I've found them to be available quickly
either from individuals or stores. Yes, bubble wrap or sorbathane would
be better but you aren't likely to have that stuff lying around.

more than 2 years ago

National Academies Release Over 4,000 Free Science Books

wb8wsf A wonderful trough in which to wallow (119 comments)

Yes, these books are useful.

            Coming from academia there are some rather obscure subjects
there, but why not read about the handling and management of
chemicals? That which is not common is still useful. I daresay
that skipping over the more "odd" things is an inditement of the
educational system. Reading that which doesn't interest you at
first is a great way to learn new things, just as reading political
views you don't agree with might broaden your ideas.

        Me, I'm going back to trough now. I only have about 50 of

more than 3 years ago

If the Comments Are Ugly, the Code Is Ugly

wb8wsf What utter poppycock (660 comments)

Comments are a skill in and of themselves, which a whole lot of people never master.

      I remember two people who worked at a place where I was programming. The first
was a woman, freshly out of school who was taught that comments made the code.
So she dutifully wrote beautiful comments on the theory of what the function was
going to do, but also inline, especially for arcane things going on in an algorithm. All
nicely spaced, neat. A marvel to behold. Problem was, the code this person did
had some form of overflow condition (this was C) about every five lines, such that
I knew if I poked at the code from a higher layer I could cause problems. And did,
because I was trying to force the issue and have some kind of review go on.

      The other person in the larger group was a 20ish male, who saw human interaction
largely through the eyes of TV, and gaming / nerd get-togethers. Hardly a bad person,
he just didn't seem to have humans around him when growing up (more than a trifle
odd, even now--I met him again for the first time in 20 years; the only change was
gray hair). He was one of the people I'd go to for help when I botched things, or
wanted comments on an idea I had. His code often worked the first time run, and
I'm not talking of little 10 line routines, but larger complex functions. His comments
were about the opposite of the code, both in terms of spelling, grammar, and that
ephemeral concept of how to communicate in general. Some sentences were
better read thinking of them as RPN, and others simply defied standard logic.
Comments that did survive that minimal test of English were often spelled in
novel ways, causing euqal parts of head scratching and laughter. But the code
was great!

I offer these two examples which while extremes, are examples that poke holes
in the idea that there is a common relationship between comments and code.
Certainly some people will fit that mold, but I think that more random than not.

more than 5 years ago

The Ultimate Limit of Moore's Law

wb8wsf Are there really limits? (418 comments)

Though there might be a limit on how fast a computation can go, I would think that
parallel systems will boost that far beyond whatever limit there may be. If we crash
into a boundary, multiple systems--or hundreds of thousands of them--will continue
the upward trend.

      I suppose there is also the question of whether 10^16 more computing power "ought
to be enough for anybody". ;-)

more than 5 years ago

Army Asks Its Personnel to Wikify Field Manuals

wb8wsf Wow (143 comments)

That is absolutely one of the most intelligent things I have ever heard
of the US armed forces doing.

Well, that and letting Haynes design T-shirts, and letting go of the 20+
page specifications for fruitcakes.

more than 5 years ago

Why OpenBSD's Release Process Works

wb8wsf Re:The primary reason they release so fast (310 comments)

This is correct. OpenBSD can be thought of as two parts, the OS itself
and the ports/packages tree.

OpenBSD itself undergoes the most testing. This is not to say that the
packages aren't tested, because they are. But the packages--some
5000 of them--can't be tested as much as the core OS. Still, the packages
are of very high quality, and for most cases you do not have to compile
things on your own for OpenBSD.

If a port is bad, ie it isn't compiling or some such, it simply isn't included
in a release. If the port is a security horror, it isn't in the ports tree at

Me, I'd rather see the OS itself get the most scrutiny, given that endless
numbers of good testers don't exist.

more than 5 years ago

Fast-Booting OS for Usually-Off Appliance PCs?

wb8wsf Re:Recycle for the gold content (523 comments)

My cite for this? About 20 years of dealing with "modern" hardware, say going back to Sun stuff of the Sun-3 or -4 era. I used to be able to run Sun-4/670's for *years* at a time. Disks would fail but the machine just ran. Of course in 1989 it cost something like $100,000 for one, but it was built unlike anything today.

As for a maintenance nightmare, you need to have spare hardware. I agree, finding a replacement motherboard for a Dell GX200 would be hard today, so you gather several machines and have spares put on the floor, ready to be used on short notice.

Driver support isn't an issue. I run OpenBSD; what open source OS's have stopped supporting IDE disks, serial and parallel ports, and ethernet cards? I don't use anyting other than stock VGA and don't even have a monitor on the machines except for installs, and disk disasters (one of those in six years).

On power you are probably right. In terms of CPU power per watt, the old Dell's are probably worse. Except, spending $1000 for a new machine vs. nothing but a new disk/memory for an old machine leaves a lot of margin to pay for electricty, doesn't it?

I have 8 years of running older stuff at my current job. Problems come and go where I work, but the infrastructure I have has proven more reliable than the AC power that feeds the building.

more than 6 years ago


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