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Comment: Choke point (Score 1) 275

by John Bayko (#45900255) Attached to: End of Moore's Law Forcing Radical Innovation

The problem with software efficiency has always been this: There are millions of applications, programs, libraries, etc. created, often redundant and amateur. They all run on one of a handful of CPU core designs. Spending the effort to optimise a CPU speeds everything that runs on it. Spending the effort to optimise a program speeds up one program (most libraries, maybe a handful, and only sometimes).

There are still possibilities for CPU improvement. Transfer triggered architectures, dataflow, counterflow, asynchronous, content addressable memory, smart memory - many ideas had promise, but Moore's Law (and incompatability) meant that established techniques improved CPU speeds faster than the new ones could be commercialised (you might remember RISC as the only one that made it, barely). Without Moore's Law, there will be opportunty to work on the alternatives.

Comment: Things get cheap, then possible (Score 1) 45

by John Bayko (#44952513) Attached to: Interview: Contiki OS Creator On Building the Internet of Things

[...] I don't see a point to remotely control a washer or toaster over the internet.

There's a sort of blindness that people have when they see what exists and can't imagine it being different. The creator of Babylon 5 once described seeing an old SF movie (Flash Gordon maybe?) where the crew had to abandon a space ship. They grabbed their laser blasters (handheld), anti-gravity belts (little box ona belt), and the portable radio, a giant box that needed two people to carry it. Because nobody knew what laser guns or anti-gravity belts look like, they could imagine science making them arbitrarily small, but everyone knew what a radio looked like (tubes and all) and couldn't conceive of the science that could shrink it into, say, a $5 item that you can lose in a purse.

Phones are a good example of how they can change so much, it won't be long before "phones" of the past won't even qualify as what anyone understands a phone is (it's already happened once - even if you think of a phone as something with buttons or a dial you use to connect a voice circuit to someone, older "phones" that did nothing but ring an operator who you talked to used to be the standard for decards, but wouldn't qualify if you went to buy one).

As for washers, toasters, fridges, etc., don't think of them as they are now. Think of a future where displays cost about what a laminated decal does. You could look up washing instructions on the washer lid. For that matter, the washer could look up washing instructions for clothes based on microscopic RFID tags (like how those "Tassimo" coffee makers read bar codes from coffee packets now). The fridge could display a recipe - yours or one you looked up - in an app with checkboxes you tap when you've taken an ingredient out, used it, or need it (links to a shopping list on your phone). The toaster? Same recipe - if displays are nearly free and you have a dozen, why not use them all? Heck, put displays on your coffee cups, for no other reason than you can tap it and tell your coffee maker to start a new cup before you walk over to it - and display someone's picture on the mug meanwhile.

Every day I see things that are awful that people accept as normal. Mostly device controls and interfaces, but other things. Like a digital monitor. It has it's own display memory, so why does the computer send the same image to it 30 times a second? Worse, the same image! Evenin a laptop! Something's fundimentally wrong about that very concept.

There's no end to things that need improvement. And as technology gets cheaper, I sure hope that'll finally happen.

Comment: China vs. Japan (Score 1) 352

by John Bayko (#44690033) Attached to: The World Fair of 2014 According To Asimov (From 1964)

China has nukes, Japan doesn't. Unless you count the damage from leaking nuclear reactors.

Also, China has a large military and a young population, Japans population is aging with fewer service-aged citizens.

Both countries have all-volunteer militaries (conscripts tend to do a lot worse). But to be fair, Japan's military is much better trained (thanks to the U.S), and China's military tends to be politicized - it's similar to the U.S.S.R in WW II, in which Stalin kept interfering until Germany had taken half of Russia. At that point, he kept his hands off and let the professional fight the war, which pushed Germany back to Berlin.

Then again you'd have to consider the alliances of the area - even excluding the U.S. First Taiwan, despite disputes over ownership of the Senkaku (Tiaoyutai) islands, would side with Japan. And though Koreans tend to hate Japanese for former war atrocities (and Japan's censorship of its own guilt), Korea in general would probably ally with Japan (ironically, North Korea would provide the essential buffer keeping Korea safe from immediate retaliation from China). So between the three of them, much of China would be cut off from ocean-going world trade - including fuel and supplies.

After that it gets a bit fuzzy to predict. I think most countries would try to remain neutral initially, but woud be drawn in - particularly India, which has border disputes with China, and Russia, which distrusts China but kind of needs it to keep buying oil and resources, but also needs Europe, and is the greatest country in the world except for all its problems all caused by the United States and not corruption etc.. Add Australia, the U.S, Pakistan, etc., and you can keep yourself entertained for days predicting utterly improbably things.

But original point stands - Japan can't nuke China, despite many Japanese politicians advocating that they should be able to.

Comment: Re:Study Finds CRA 'Clearly' Lead To Risky Lending (Score 2) 251

by John Bayko (#42835111) Attached to: Email Trails Show Bankers Behaving Badly

At the same time, the actual loans covered by the CRA were not a problem. Many sources back this up, including this:

[director of the Federal Reserve’s consumer and community affairs division Sandra Braunstein] cited a Federal Reserve Board analysis which found that, in 2006, CRA-covered banks operating in CRA-targeted neighborhoods accounted for just six percent of the risky, high-cost loans largely responsible for the housing crisis.

So what you're saying is, the CRA made loans not covered by the CRA to default. Does that make any sense? I don't think it does. It sounds more like the "wishful blaming" that those responsible began doing once their expensive lies were exposed.

Comment: Torque wrenches (Score 1) 419

by John Bayko (#42834203) Attached to: China's Radical New Space Drive

- mechanics --- a Phillips driver will ``cam out'' when it hits bottom, making triggering the retraction of the tool easy, a Robertson requires a more sophisticated system to measure the torque, stop applying force, then pull out

Torque wrenches for bolts just have a firm spring between the driver and the handle - past the torque limit, the spring twists. I can't think of anything simpler. Maybe that's was just an excuse?

Comment: Robertson screws and hex bolts (Score 1) 419

by John Bayko (#42834175) Attached to: China's Radical New Space Drive

As well, there was an advantage in production that Phillips heads had over Robertson, in that the driver bit pops out of the screw head when the screw tightens up. In old production environments before the advent of accurate torque-limiting drivers for all stations, it was a handy way to determine proper screw torque.

I've heard that, but how did they deal with hex (or square) nuts and bolts which would have the same problem? Sounds to me like it was just an excuse made up to justify an economic or political decision on nonexistant technical grounds - as often happens.

Comment: Re:Analysts saying the obvious? (Score 1) 171

by John Bayko (#42731193) Attached to: RIM's BB10 Campaign Requires Some Serious Work

I assume when you say "Blackberry needs to..." you mean RIM, and this is just a slip-up, not an indication that you're ignorant of what you're talking about.

But what you're saying is correct, and that is what RIM is doing - any app that has a minimum of sales (fairly low, $1000) will be awarded an immediate guarantee of $10,000 (see this). I assume the fact that you didn't know that is, again, not an indication that you don't know much about the subject you're talking about.

Comment: Globalised culture (Score 1) 61

Globalisation covers a lot of things, not just corporations. It's just as responsible for getting aspirin and antibiotics to the middle of Africa as McDonalds. Probably most important is the globalisation of culture.

Africa has a pretty terrible culture in many ways, and is resistant to change because worship of tradition is part of that culture. Not knocking Africa, tradition was a vital part of most societies up to a point. Prior to the industrial revolution in Europe, there was little progress because most progress wasn't scientific - if someone made pottery slightly differently, it probably cracked or failed. If they forged metal differently it was useless. Changing how you made bread or raised cattle or whatnot almost always resulted in problems. That's because nobody actually understood why doing things the traditional way worked, they just knew it did, so any change became ingrained as something to be avoided.

There was still progress on occasion, but that was still the exception, and often rejected by most people as long as possible. This notion changed first in the New World, as there was no "tradition" (or what there was wiped out by the settlers and their plagues), and came back to the colonizing European countries. Eventually it spread through political conquest, economic forces, and sometimes voluntarily (Japan was an early adopter of some Western attitudes), but the idea of constant improvement through change is not global yet. In particular, it's still rejected by the general population in Africa and the Middle East, even as they develop economically.

This is why those in power, or seeking power, are only interested in the power itself (or prestige), only benefitting those closest to them first, and their country and society last - and brutallly suppressing all opposition. And people don't really mind because they just expect this to be the normal thing - it's their culture, how it's traditionally been done.

This is where globalisation of culture helps - by showing that there are alternatives, and what the benefits are. Even if it doesn't convince the adults, the next generation grows up knowing there are alternatives, and they're willing to change. Little known fact, Iranian people in general are among the most pro-American in the Middle East, because they've experienced an entire generation of an anti-American government oppressing them, yet have been able to learn that it doesn't have to be that way (that's simplified, but essentially correct - the Iranian government is terrified of their own people being fed up, and a war with America is probably the best thing that could happen to them to keep them in power).

A big difference between Africa and the Americas is that natives in the Americas were wiped out by plagues shortly before European settlers moved in - huge pandemics that made Europe's Black Death look like allergies. If this hadn't happened, settling the Americas would have been like colonising Africa, at least in the populated coastal areas. Cultural traditions were lost. In Africa, this didn't happen, and male-dominated, tribe-oriented, and superstitious traditions remain the norm to this day.

Globalisation will inevitably change this, and for the better. That's what will eventually allow Africa to develop, organize, and improve the lives of its people.

Comment: File formats (Score 1) 492

by John Bayko (#42659651) Attached to: You've Got 25 Years Until UNIX Time Overflows
You always have to know the format of a file that you're going to use. Any file with 32-bit time fields will be known as only valid within the 31-bit range +/- January 1, 1970, any data stored with dates outside that range (and that already happens - from bank mortgages to climate change data over millenia) will use appropriate formats - in the same way that you don't store 32-bit image data in a GIF (8-bit colour index) file.

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