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Comment: Re:Probably best (Score 1) 304

by hey! (#49515823) Attached to: Automakers To Gearheads: Stop Repairing Cars

Cars from the 60's-70's suck big time.

Sooo true. My first car was a 1976 Buick Century with 231 cc V6 engine, normally aspirated. The engine wasn't half-bad -- this was before emissions controls other than a PCV, EGR and catalytic converters so it *was* simple to work on -- but in every other respect it was dreadful by modern standards. 105 horsepower to move 3800+ pounds equals 0-60 in 17 seconds and 15 miles to the gallon, baby.

But aside from power to weight ratios, the thing which really sucked about old cars was the suspension and handling. Every time I see a car chase in a movie from the 1970s I laugh because I *remember* driving cars like that. By modern standards they cornered like inebriated hippos on roller skates.

Comment: Re:Environmentalism, much? (Score 1) 116

by hey! (#49511715) Attached to: Pull-Top Can Tabs, At 50, Reach Historic Archaeological Status

By that argument why bother excavating garbage pits, when temples and mausoleums are so much sexier? Well, because temples and mausoleums are consciously built by high status people to convey messages. Garbage (and by extension pollution) tell you things about everyone, including things they didn't think worthy of documenting but turn out to be interesting.

Comment: Re:For the Conservation Crowd (Score 1) 576

by hey! (#49511535) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California

Spoken like someone with absolutely no engineering experience. Engineering as a discipline has this impish habit delivering things most people never imagined possible. This misleads them into thinking that engineering can give them anything they can imagine, particularly if the concept seems simple to them.

Take the suggestion elsewhere in this discussion that water be piped from the Great Lakes to California. Nothing could be simpler in conception -- a 2000 mile long pipe. We've built oil pipelines longer than that. The longest crude oil pipeline in the world is the 2500 mile Druzhba pipeline from Russia to Germany, so a 2000 mile long water pipe should be a cinch, right?

Here we get to the place where engineering starts being a bitch. You see, it's one thing to imagine a cost-is-no-object project, but the truth is cost is the single most important limitation on water use. It does no good to supply water to California almond farmers if they have to sell their almonds at the same price/weight as gold to pay for it. We use a *lot* more water than oil, and we expect it to be way, way cheaper. The current spot price for crude oil is about $57 per barrel -- roughly $1.36/gallon. Agricultural users in California pay something like 3/10 of a penny a gallon -- roughly speaking they expect water to be about 500x cheaper per gallon than oil. If pumping adds a penny to the price per gallon to the price of crude oil, that's no big deal, less than 1%. Add a penny per gallon to the price of water and you've quadrupled your farmer's water cost.

A system that delivers water can be expensive to build, but it has to operate cheaply and reliably. That's why water systems engineers avoid pumps and rely on gravity to do most of the work of moving water. The longest water supply pipeline I know of is the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme, which transports water 330 miles with the aid of 20 pump stations. The economic justification for this project? To support gold mining. To give you an idea of how much expense was tolerated when the Goldfields system was built, it replaced a system where water was packed in by camel train. Today users there pay 7x as much per gallon as users in California do for water. Assuming the CA system could be operated for the same price, you could actually dispense with actually building the system. Raising the water price from $0.003 to $0.02 would reduce water consumption in California to sustainable rates -- even under drought conditions. It'd do so by causing agriculture to move out of state. Probably some population too.

Comment: Re:Here's a better idea (Score 2) 576

by hey! (#49510623) Attached to: William Shatner Proposes $30 Billion Water Pipeline To California

Right, and for an encore they can figure out how to get the water from that desalination plant to flow uphill.

People don't realize how much water distribution networks rely on gravity; yes you can pump water to create more head but it raises the operational cost of the system astronomically. It's only practical to supply coastal cities, and then only if there is no water that can feasibly be piped from elsewhere. In California's case that doesn't really solve the problem, which is that their agricultural economy is going to collapse.

Comment: No, he's not (Score 3, Insightful) 161

by Sycraft-fu (#49509271) Attached to: Assange Talk Spurs UK Judges To Boycott Legal Conference

The UK handled everything per the law. They received an extradition request from a country they have a treaty with regarding this. They are required by the treaty to deal with these, they can't ignore them. So they reviewed it in court, to make sure it was a valid request per the treaty and decided it was. He appealed and the case moved up the chain until the high court heard it and decided that this extradition request is legitimate under the treaty, the UK has no standing to refuse.

Up until this point, Assanage was in no trouble in the UK, he hadn't broken UK law, they were just acting based on the extradition request. However then he fled. That is now a violation of UK law. He violated the conditions of his bail. That makes him a criminal in the UK. Skipping bail doesn't make you a "political prisoner" it makes you a standard criminal.

Comment: I don't think it is crappy (Score 1) 208

I mean it is a really, really minimal legit player base it could possibly effect. You would have to be someone who plays only F2P games, and has made so few in-game purchases that you haven't even spent $5. There are just extremely few people who are like that. Further, even people like that can still play, they just can't participate in some of the other Steam features. The games are still available to them.

Comment: Particularly since you can still play games (Score 1) 208

None of the restrictions are on buying or playing games. So even if you've never spent money (I'm not clear that retail doesn't count but let's say it doesn't) you can still play all the games you've got, and buy more games to play (at which point your account becomes unlocked). So you can do with it the main purpose: Play games, including free to play ones. It isn't like they are demanding money to unlock an account.

Also in the event this really was an issue for someone, they could just buy something cheap. I mean if you've dropped $50+ on a retail game it is not that big a deal to spend another $5 if it comes to that.

Comment: Not sure, you'd have to check tests (Score 1) 129

by Sycraft-fu (#49503719) Attached to: AMD Withdraws From High-Density Server Business

Part of it would depend on the relative OCs, of course. Also it would depend on if your encoder could use AVX2/FMA3 and if so, how much speedup it provides. For things that it matters on, there have been near 2X speed gains, but I don't know how applicable the instructions are to H.264 encoding.

Another option is if you can find an encoder you like that has a CUDA version, you could give it a video card to run on. However you'd want to check the implementation to make sure its quality is comparable. Also you might need to get a video card that has better double precision performance, as I'm given to understand single precision math isn't enough for top quality H.264 encoding. So like a GTX 480 or a normal Titan, the newer GPUs generally have less DP cores (to keep power/heat down).

Only applies if the encoder you want has CUDA support, of course, and if it knows how to use DP math.

Comment: Re:Is banishment legal? (Score 1) 270

by hey! (#49498541) Attached to: Gyrocopter Pilot Appears In Court; Judge Bans Him From D.C.

Well, keeping you out of the public eye is an appropriate punishment when you're convicted of a political crime. But we shouldn't recognize political crimes.

If people want to pay attention to what this guy has to say because he gyrocoptered in restricted airspace, that's their business. Even though it's a pretty stupid reason, it shouldn't be a judge's role to sit in judgment of that.

THere's an important flip side to freedom of speech that is often overlooked: freedom of listening. As a citizen you should be able to hear what the government doesn't want you to hear, unless the government has a compelling reason, and even then the restrictions should be narrowly tailored. "That guy just pulled a stupid stunt," is not a compelling reason to intervene in what people choose to listen to.

Comment: There is the small issue of academic freedom. (Score 1) 313

by hey! (#49498337) Attached to: Columbia University Doctors Ask For Dr. Mehmet Oz's Dismissal

You can't fire a faculty member because outside the scope of his duties he expresses an opinion you don't like -- even if it's a clearly crackpot opinion. If you could, Stanford would have kicked Linus Pauling out when he became a Vitamin C crackpot.

The difference, though, is that Pauling was a sincere crackpot -- brilliant people are often susceptible to crackpottery because they're so used to being more right than their neighbors. Dr. Oz is a snake-oil salesman; when he's faced with people who are educated -- not necessarily scientists but critical thinkers -- in a forum he doesn't control, he speaks in a much more equivocal fashion. That shows he knows the language he uses on his show and in his magazine is irresponsible.

So selling snake-oil isn't crackpottery, it's misconduct. But somebody's got to find, chapter and verse, the specific institutional rules of conduct Dr. Oz's misconduct violates. There will have to be due process, particularly if he's a tenured professor, which will probably require lesser disciplinary measures than dismissal be tried first.

Comment: Ummmm.... no (Score 1) 129

by Sycraft-fu (#49495033) Attached to: AMD Withdraws From High-Density Server Business

Sorry but you are having some selective memory. AMD actually was only a performance leader for a very brief period of time, that being the P4 days. That was also not because of anything great they did, but rather because the P4 ended up being a bad design because it did not scale as Intel thought it would. Outside of that they were competitive during the P3 days, but behind other than that.

They also had serious problems outside of any business practices from Intel. The three big ones that really screwed them today:

1) Their disastrous chipset situation. When the Athlons came out, their chipsets were garbage. The AMD made chipsets lacked any advanced features. The VIA chipsets were full featured, but poorly implemented. I bought an Athlon, excited at the performance upgrade I'd get from my P2 and drawn in by the price. I spent two weeks fighting and fighting to make it work, before finally finding out that GeForce graphics card were just incompatible with the boards because of VIA's out-of-spec AGP implementation. I sent it all back, got a P3 on an Intel chipset, and it all worked from the word go. Experiences like that really put many people and vendors off of AMD (combined with things like lacking a thermal halt on the chip so if a heatsink fell off the chip would bur out).

2) Their utter lack of innovation/resting on laurels. AMD took FOREVER to get out any kind of real new architecture, that being the Bulldozer, and it was poor when it happened. For too long they kept rehashing their same CPU architecture, while Intel kept moving theirs forward. This became particularly acute when the Sandy Bridge came out, which was a really good architecture improvement. Having nothing new and just trying to glom more cores on the server products was not a winning strategy long term.

3) Ignoring the software side of things. One of the things that makes Intel chips perform so well is their excellent compiler. It generates faster code than any other compiler, in every single test I've ever seen. That matters in the real world since people aren't going to waste time hand-optimizing assembly. Only recently did AMD get a compiler out (I haven't seen benchmarks on how good it is), for most of their life they just relied on other compilers and whined that the Intel compiler was mean to their chips. That has been a problem, particularly in research settings where people need high performance but are not primarily programmers and need something good at automatic code optimization.

AMD has done a lot to screw themselves over long periods and it has built up to a situation now where they are struggling in a big way. If you think Intel is all to blame you've your head in the sand.

Comment: ...and? (Score 1) 129

by Sycraft-fu (#49494845) Attached to: AMD Withdraws From High-Density Server Business

What is your proposal, people should purchase AMD chips as a charity?

Nobody other than Intel zealots wants to see AMD go away. However if AMD's products are not competitive for what they want, why should they buy them? Trying to argue charity buying is a non-starter and a very bad strategy.

AMD has been really screwing up on their processors as of late. Their performance is not that good in most things and their performance per watt is even worse. So for a great many tasks, they are not a great choice. Their "APU" concept is an interesting one, but one who's time seems to be up as Intel's integrated graphics have been very good lately and getting better with each generation so "a CPU with good graphics" is likely to just be what we think of as a CPU.

If AMD wants more sales they have to make a product that is compelling in some way. As it stands, it isn't compelling in that many markets.

Comment: Sure (Score 2) 129

by Sycraft-fu (#49494789) Attached to: AMD Withdraws From High-Density Server Business

Look up "Shadowplay" by nVidia. That is their software that uses the "nvenc" feature of their new GPUs. It has near zero CPU and GPU load, just load on the disk. All encoding is done by a special dedicated encoder on the chip. It's a fast encoder too, it can do 2560x1600@60fps.

The downside is it is not as good looking per bit as some of the software encoders (particularly X264) so if the target is something low bitrate you may wish to capture high bitrate and then reencode to a lower bitrate with other software later.

Bandicam also claims to support the hardware encoders of all the platform (Intel calls their QuickSync, AMD calls there's AMD APP).

Comment: Also what kind of idiot buys at retail price? (Score 1) 323

by Sycraft-fu (#49491339) Attached to: LA Schools Seeking Refund Over Botched iPad Plan

When you are big, you get to get stuff for a discount. At work we are a Dell partner and it means, at a minimum, that we get a 3 year basic warranty on their stuff for no charge, even for one off orders. If we are doing a big order, like a few hundred computers, you get additional discounts.

I realize Apple doesn't like to offer this kind of thing which is a reason NOT TO GO WITH APPLE. If they aren't willing to give you a price break when you are ordering tens of thousands of units then they aren't worth being a vendor.

This reeks of someone who is a complete fanboy deciding everyone has to have a shiny toy rather than any kind of consideration about what product might work well.

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer. = 1 Lite-year

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