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Comment: Re: Why? (Score 1) 2219

by IAmR007 (#46197515) Attached to: Slashdot Tries Something New; Audience Responds!
The mod system is far better than any sort of system where people can vote as much as they want. The quality of the comments here are far better than they have ever been on Digg, Reddit, etc. The mod system ends up doing a pretty good job with debates. It's not just the most popular or vote manipulated side that gets seen. While the beta doesn't do away with that entirely, hiding or collapsing the low-ranked comments is a big part of encouraging good comments. I believe it's a big reason as to why Slashdot is still around.

Comment: Re:Natural selection (Score 2) 618

by IAmR007 (#44980793) Attached to: First Cases of Flesh-Eating Drug Emerge In the United States
I find that when discussing social issues, in general, people tend to assume everyone is rational. Many social problems wouldn't exist if people were always rational. However, you have to expect such failures when dealing with a large number of people. Just as in engineering, the goal should be for things to fail gracefully rather than catastrophically. There will always be people who take horrible drugs, and there isn't enough emphasis on the "fail gracefully" part: programs that will help them recover.

Comment: Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (Score 4, Insightful) 385

by IAmR007 (#44967297) Attached to: What the Insurance Industry Thinks About Climate Change
Climate modeling is definitely hard to do, but they definitely aren't worthless. So far, the models seem to have been underestimates, which may be problems with the models, or may indicate that we are underestimating global warming. Perhaps, if we can model the climate at or beyond the exascale, we will find that we don't need to be as cautious. For the meantime, though, I think it best to err on the side of caution.

Comment: Re:You would trust insurance companies on this? (Score 5, Informative) 385

by IAmR007 (#44966323) Attached to: What the Insurance Industry Thinks About Climate Change
Weather models and climate models look at an entirely different scales. Both involve complex fluid dynamics and such, but look at a different scale. Weather forecasting tries to predict the chaos. Climate modeling, on the other hand, concerns the patterns. A model of the Earth in current conditions can then be modified to have increasing greenhouse gases, geological cycles, etc. Some of those, like geological cycles, occur at a rate several orders of magnitude slower than what we are currently seeing. Just because computer models are virtual doesn't mean they can't be used to experiment. Computer models are vital for our understanding of things at extreme scales. Source: Masters in High Performance Computing

Comment: Re:Parallel is not necessarily better (Score 1) 98

by IAmR007 (#44365391) Attached to: Adapteva Parallella Supercomputing Boards Start Shipping
Well, x86 CPUs are designed to do a hell of a lot more than compute. Their advanced caches and other complex features take a lot of die area but make them well suited for general computing and complex algorithms.

You are right that our current algorithms will have to change. That's one of the major problems in exascale research. Even debugging is changing, too, with many more visual hints to sort through millions of logs. Algorithms may start becoming non-deterministic to reduce the need to communicate, for example. Of course, I'm referring to millions of cores, here. Desktop applications using a few cores is a much simpler task, but still an area that a lot of developers lack good training in. At least the methods have been largely figured out for things at the consumer and server level.

Comment: Parallel is not necessarily better (Score 5, Insightful) 98

by IAmR007 (#44364933) Attached to: Adapteva Parallella Supercomputing Boards Start Shipping
I'm skeptical as to how useful this chip will be. High core counts are making supercomputing more and more difficult. Supercomputing isn't about getting massively parallel, but rather high compute performance, memory performance, and interconnect performance. If you can get the same performance out of fewer cores, then there will usually be less stress on interconnects. Parallel computing is a way to get around the limitations on building insanely fast non-parallel computers, not something that's particularly ideal. For things like graphics that are easily parallel, it's not much of a problem, but collective operations on supercomputers with hundreds of thousands to millions of cores are one of the largest bottlenecks in HPC code.

Supercomputers are usually just measured by their floating point performance, but that's not really what makes a supercomputer a supercomputer. You can get a cluster of computers with high end graphics cards, but that doesn't make it a supercomputer. Such clusters have a more limited scope than supercomputers due to limited interconnect bandwidth. There was even debate as to how useful GPUs would really be in supercomputers due to memory bandwidth being the most common bottleneck. Supercomputers tend to have things like Infiniband networking in multidimensional torus configurations. These fast interconnects give the ability to efficiently work on problems that depend on neighboring regions, and are even then a leading bottleneck. When you get to millions of processors, even things like FFT that have, in the past, been sufficiently parallel, start becoming problems.

Things like Parallella could be decent learning tools, but having tons of really weak cores isn't really desirable for most applications.

Comment: Re:!Hypocrisy! (Score 1) 302

by IAmR007 (#43124115) Attached to: Shuttleworth On Ubuntu Community Drama
My biggest complaint about their new projects is that they're all so intertwined, and don't work well on other distros. It seems they've completely thrown the modularity principle of Unix design philosophy out the window. The same can be said about udev, systemd, networkmanager, etc. Keep things human readable and independent. If anything, the direction things should be moving in is like plan 9, where you can make unrelated programs work together in awesome ways by chaining programs together.

Comment: Re:Yay (Score 1) 416

by IAmR007 (#43124049) Attached to: Global Temperatures Are Close To 11,000-Year Peak
It's not about the change itself, but rather the rate of change. The closest things to the current rate of climate change are extinction events. Humans have a huge impact on how well the environment does. It's hardly a situation where our actions are irrelevant. Humans have created massive ecological disasters in the past, and it took a lot of government intervention to get people doing things correctly. Just read about the Dust Bowl. That was caused by the fertile soil lulling farmers into thinking they didn't need crop rotation. The US government actually had to pay the farmers to get them to use proper farming techniques, as they all wanted maximum short term production.

Comment: Re:Who would have thought (Score 1) 206

by IAmR007 (#43064597) Attached to: Florida Sinkhole Highlights State's Geologic Instability
Another city that is in for a great deal of natural disaster damage is Tacoma, Washington. There hasn't been much geological activity since the city was built, so it's not something many people in the area really think about. First of all, it's basically on the coast with little protection from tsunamis; the Cascadia subduction zone is due for a 9+ earthquake. The buildings in the region don't have nearly as good earthquake proofing as Japan, either. Seattle will get hit, too. Secondly, the river Tacoma is built on comes from Mt Rainier, which would produce massive lahars and bury a good chunk of the city in mud. It seems it's the rare events that are particularly hard to avoid. Mt. Vesuvius also has a large population around it these days, and we all know how that turned out for the Ancient Greeks.

Comment: Re:Not gonna happen (Score 1) 291

by IAmR007 (#42922651) Attached to: President Obama Calls For New 'Space Race' Funding
To add to that, the vast majority of hard science has always been government funded for the precise purpose that there isn't any money in the science itself. This work has been funded either directly from the government (such as Newton at Cambridge), or the scientist was a member of the aristocracy. Sure, there can be inventions making use of that new science, but the science often comes far ahead of the practical applications. Those who think the government shouldn't be involved in science don't understand the difference between science and technology and should read some history.

The Universe is populated by stable things. -- Richard Dawkins

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