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Comment: Re:Amazon Elastic Cloud? (Score 1) 233

by Animats (#48439281) Attached to: Does Being First Still Matter In America?

decades ago, Cray Computers were assembled by people (housewives) who were allowed to spend no more time than they could be maximally effective in, using wires cut to millimeter-precise lengths.

Yes, and there's a Cray I at the Computer Museum here in Silicon Valley, upholstered base and all. You can sit on it if you like. It's not useful for much else.

All modern supercomputers are composed of a large number of microprocessors. The interconnects are faster than with ordinary hosting/cloud operations, but the CPUs are the same. The biggest supercomputer in the world, in China, is 3,120,000 cores of Intel Xeons, running at 2.2GHz each.

The question is whether the problem you're solving needs tight interconnection. If not, you can run it on a large number of ordinary computers. Weather may not be that tightly coupled; propagation time in air is kind of slow.

Comment: They'll be replaced by robots soon. (Score 1) 476

by Animats (#48428561) Attached to: As Amazon Grows In Seattle, Pay Equity For Women Declines

Don't worry, most of those jobs will go away soon. Amazon's newer warehouses use Kiva robots to move merchandise around to picking stations. Picking is still manual; the computers do all the thinking, the humans just pick up what the laser pointer points at. But Bezos owns a robotics startup working on automating that. At Amazon, being replaced by robots isn't a future problem. It's here now.

Customer service is already mostly automated. It's can't be long until customer service chat is with a computer, not a human. Then Amazon will need fewer people.

Comment: Re:That is not what the halting problem say (Score 2) 316

Mod parent up.

That's correct. The best known demonstration of this is the Microsoft Static Driver Verifier, which every signed driver since Windows 7 has passed. It's a proof of correctness system which checks drivers for buffer overflows, bad pointers, and bad parameters to the APIs drivers use. It works by symbolically tracing through the program, forking off a sub-analysis at each branch point. It can be slow, but it works.

Microsoft Research reports that in about 5% of the cases, the Verifier cannot reach a decision. It can't find a bug, but it can't demonstrate the lack of one either. After 45 minutes of case analysis it gives up.

If your driver is such a mess that it's anywhere near undecidable, it's broken. Those drivers get rewritten with a less ambiguous design, usually by adding more run-time checks. Problem solved.

(Remember when driver bugs crashed Windows all the time? Notice that's not happening any more? That's why.)

Comment: How much longer will Foxconn need Apple? (Score 4, Interesting) 107

by Animats (#48415375) Attached to: Nokia's N1 Android Tablet Is Actually a Foxconn Tablet

This is the problem with outsourcing manufacturing and keeping the "brand". Eventually, if they're good, the outsourcing company takes over. It's about time for this to happen to Apple. The hardware is approaching maturity. The last rev of the iPhone was only a minor change over the previous one, and the technology was comparable to HTC's product of two years ago.

Comment: Re:Sue Them or Give Up (Score 1) 139

by Animats (#48398641) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Dealing With VoIP Fraud/Phishing Scams?

There is no technological solution. (The phone system as a whole is just so old).

No, it's the new part of the system that's broken. The big hole on caller ID is where VoIP enters the switched telephone network without cryptographic source identification.

When caller ID was generated by physical wires strung through the holes of a Dimond ring translator (this was ROM, 1950s style), there was no way to spoof it from outside the central office.

Comment: Pre chaos theory (Score 1) 242

by Animats (#48362769) Attached to: HBO Developing Asimov's Foundation Series As TV Show

The whole premise of the Foundation series is obsolete. The premise was that it was possible to predict the future to a moderate level of detail by calculation. Now that vast efforts have been expended in that direction by the weather and financial communities, we have a reasonably clear understanding of what can and cannot be accomplished in the prediction department. We know now that little changes grow into big ones (the "butterfly effect") rather than being filtered out. The future is driven by unpredictable noise.

Comment: No, it's not Mies van der Rohe (Score 4, Interesting) 65

by Animats (#48320993) Attached to: Sketches Released of New Star Wars Museum

That's not anything like a Mies van der Rohe building. Rohe was a form-follows-function glass box architect. He did some of the best glass boxes of the 20th century, notably the IIT campus in Chicago. His work is very rectangular.

Wright did more unusual forms. In his later years, he designed the Marin Civic Center which Lucas, being from Marin, would have seen. It's been called the Martian Embassy. It's so alien it's been used in several science fiction movies. Like most Wright buildings, it's nicely integrated with the terrain.

Here's the park that must be destroyed to build to satisify Lucas' ego.

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken

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