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Comment: Re:Why Do We Do This? (Score 1) 338

by AzureDiamond (#31894204) Attached to: China's Research Ambitions Hurt By Faked Results

It's nothing to do with 'savage yellow people'. Still I think China and Russia have a severe problem with morality because they have traditionally been ruled by people who are almost totally amoral.

Go to Taiwan or Japan and it's completely different because to succeed there you need to be recommended by your peers, not just buy off the kleptocratic government. People have done tests where an expensive camera is left on the street

In fact my friends from Eastern Europe reckon that one party rule had a similarly corrosive effect on morality - e.g. in Hungary plagiarism is much more accepted. In general your intelligence is measured by how effectively you can outwit people to a greater extent than in Western Europe.

I believe it is all about systems - ones where you need to have a reputation for honesty to succeed will tend to breed more honest people than ones where cheating is an accepted way to 'beat the system'.

Comment: Re:Reminds me of... (Score 1) 467

by AzureDiamond (#29885719) Attached to: Reliability of PC Flash SSDs?

It's an interesting idea, and I actually modded you up for it with another account. However I don't think it would actually work. Consider.

A Chinese company make SSDs designed to fail. They ship them to the US. Now most people have no data which is particularly useful so you get back stacks of failed disks and scan them and get nothing of value. A few people might have something you could use commercially perhaps - bank login details for example. Still if you use those someone is likely to report you to the FBI etc. Even worse you have a chain of distributors, some in the US and some who will act purely on commercial interest. A higher failure rate than the competition mean you get dropped quite quickly by these people.

Last but not least the CIA, NSA, etc presumably don't buy no name flash disks. My guess is they buy enterprise disks at vast expense. If those disks fail they probably have some deal where they can destroy them onsite rather than sending them back.

So the odds of getting useful information is rather low, and the capitalist system would probably weed out drives with a higher than average failure rate.

Comment: Re:Science =! Public Policy (Score 1) 899

by AzureDiamond (#29424611) Attached to: How To Make Science Popular Again?

Most Totalitarian societies, by definition, politicize everything. That tends to be extremely bad for science. Famous examples are Lysenko, a politically well connected quack who did enormous damage to science in the Soviet Union, the Nazi suppression of Jewish science, i.e. relativity and quantum mechanics. I read that Mao made some cryptic comment that was interpreted as a statement on whether quarks were fundamental particles or not. After that Chinese physicists were very careful not to contradict the official position. Of course in Mao's China scientists had a much more serious problem that the Cultural Revolution effectively shut down the educational system. Of course Mao's Cultural Revolution was a sui generis phenomenon not something which other totalitarian systems produced.

Still, if you believe Orwell there are limits to this so long as they need to compete. So the USSR could not Lysenkoize physics because that would give the US a fatal advantage in the nuclear arms race. Of course most Soviet technology did eventually stagnate, even the military stuff. Still my guess is that post Stalin the Soviet leadership tried to keep the political nutters from bothering the physicists too much, mostly out of self interest.

Comment: Re:Too Many Free Variables (Score 2, Insightful) 642

by AzureDiamond (#28908163) Attached to: Fewer Than 10 ET Civilizations In Our Galaxy?

The whole thing seems utterly bogus to me. Why should you build a probe to last for hundreds of millions of years? How do we know we haven't been visited? Who's to say a civilisation could even last for thousands of years when civilisations here have tended to collapse after mere hundreds.

The worst problem is the economics of space travel at or less than light speed. On Earth voyages to the New World were funded by monarchs - they paid for the ship which would sale there and back in a couple of years and bring back gold, slaves or goods to pay off the investment. Later on conquistadors took over the countries and paid a members fee to the monarch. Now consider a spaceship travelling at 0.1c. That would take 80years to get to Sirius for example, 8 light years away. Once the ship arrives there is a 16 light year delay in communications, or another 80 year trip if that is possible. And when you get to Sirius there is most likely no biosphere to support you, so you pretty much stay on the ship. Even if there was it would take decades or centuries to build a technological civilisation. Basically the people that paid for the ship have no chance of getting a return on their investment.

Even on Earth there a civilisations that were able to build ships but decided not to attempt colonisation. China in the 1400's had the technology to do it but decided not to for political reasons

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zheng_He

Actually if you want a vision for something which can spread across vast distances, consider. You broadcast plans for a machine, Contact style. Unlike in Contact the machine is designed wipe out the receiving civilisation and suck up all available power and resources building copies of itself which then broadcast the plans to other civilisations. It's sort of like a computer virus, only scaled up. Maybe it could have mutated from a message sent for benign reasons. It the machine would have sensors to find nearby civilisations likely to have a SETI program and powerful lasers to beam the plan to them. It's far easier to send bits at light speed than ships.

Comment: Re:So, (Score 2, Informative) 241

by AzureDiamond (#28907901) Attached to: A Short History of Btrfs

As far as I know, the Windows IFS development kit is not free, neither as in speech nor as in beer.

You can download the Windows Driver Kit for free, and that includes the Installable Filesystem Kit headers and libraries and the source code to FASTFAT.SYS, the Windows FAT driver and CDFS.SYS, the ISO9660/Joliet filesystem.

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/DevTools/WDK/WDKpkg.mspx

That being said writing a performance filesystem for Windows is much less easy than for Linux.

Comment: Re:It's all about the benjamins...er....yuan (Score 1) 114

by AzureDiamond (#28660975) Attached to: Apple To Sell Wi-Fi-less iPhone In China

I'm pretty sure kuai is the measure word for currency, i.e. it follows a number.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_classifier

Renminbi (=People's currency) is the official name of the currency and yuan is the main currency unit.

In Taiwan the currency is different, it is the New Taiwan Dollar, but people still say for example yi bai kuai for one hundred NTD.

Comment: Re:Much more than you think leaves Word & Co. (Score 1) 674

by AzureDiamond (#28022711) Attached to: MS Word 2010 Takes On TeX

If you look at most books it's quite rare to see "typographical effects" or graphics that were part of the original text. My guess is that the author writes the text in Word on their laptop and sends it off to the publisher. The publisher then imports the text into a typesetting package, checks for graphics/typography that hasn't imported correctly and fixes them up by hand. They also set the font and layout add cute typographical features, i.e. chapter heading pages, page numbers, etc.

I.e. the typesetting software can probably import text, footnotes, effects like bold and italic and maybe graphics in a few old vector formats automatically. Anything more complex than that probably needs manual intervention. Particularly if your book is full of diagrams you'd need to make sure that you drew them in a format the publisher can use.

Now I've made documents in Framemaker and the same applies - they were going to end up in pdf files or printed professionally and the only graphics format that was supported was WMF, not Framemaker's native format. So I had to redraw all my diagrams in Visio and embed them as WMFs.

Now I dunno about real publishers, but my guess would be that they'd say something like "we accept text in word format, if you want to use graphics use [some vector package]. Or we can redraw diagrams in other formats for you, but it will cost $a_lot per diagram"

Comment: Re:Don't be so Glib (Score 1) 565

by AzureDiamond (#27862427) Attached to: Debian Switching From Glibc To Eglibc

There is a massive difference between server workloads and laptop workloads. The kind of market Itanium was aiming for is one where you have 90+% CPU utilisation a lot of the time. A typical laptop, on the other hand, does not. Looking at my CPU load history, it hasn't gone over 20% for a long time, around 70% of the time it is spending doing anything is in the kernel. Even a much slower CPU, with an emulation layer for userspace apps, would result in the same performance, just with a higher percentage CPU load.

Well the plan with Itanium was that you'd run a native OS and native server applications. x86 compatibility was something you only needed very occasionally. Still the chip was panned for poor x86 performance. Mind you the native performance wasn't poor but it wasn't exactly stellar either.

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