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Comment: Old Shite (Score 2) 603

by fyngyrz (#47791649) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

I really, *really* liked my late 1970's-era 6809 system. 64k of RAM, custom graphics and sound cards of my design, timers, serial port, multiple floppies. I thought it was getting old in the tooth (it wasn't, it still works, should have had more faith I suppose), so I wrote an emulator for it -- the entire system, hardware, software, a front panel (which the original didn't even have) everything. Still works great, but due to the increase in CPU power over the years, the emulator is one heck of a lot faster than the original hardware. You can use it too, if you're so inclined and you're running some version of Windows, XP or later (might still work under Windows 95 and/or 98 for that matter.) Includes various compilers (Dugger's c compiler, for instance), forth, assembler, cross-assemblers, linkers, basics, some arcade video games that used the graphics hardware, and probably the vast majority of the commands that were available for the DOS, which was FLEX09. Percom PSYMON monitor. If you ever wanted to play in a nice, safe assembler sandbox, it doesn't get any better than the 6809. It just gets faster and wider.

For linux, the answer is Midnight Commander. Between the very nice editor and the dual-pane do-lots-of-things text mode interface, it's still my go-to under linux, I even use it on the Mac. Thankfully, they've kept it reasonably up to date, although making a native mac version without inflicting a much broader *nix ports package on the system is a real pain in the butt.

For the Mac, I use both of the above, MC natively and my emulator under a VM running a network-isolated XP, and I still run a PPC version of my HP-48G, which, I'm afraid, has made any other calculator use not only pointless, but nearly impossible. I also have two of these calculators in hardware, both of which still work fine. Because Apple dropped PPC support at OSX 10.7, my daily driver machine still runs OSX 10.6 and is likely to continue to do so unless I can find a native version of the HP emulator for Mavericks. When I decided to move past OSX 10.6 (Mavericks is actually quite nice, finally), I bought a new machine and plopped it down in my ham shack.

Ham radio: Easy. My Palomar loop antenna. This tiny (about a cubic foot) antenna system has pluggable loops for 150-500 khz, 500-1700 khz, 1700-4000 khz, and 4000-15000 khz. I like to drag it out into the unimproved areas a few tens of miles from here where there are zero power lines, telephone cables carrying data, neon and other signage, plasma TVs, buildings and so on, and enjoy amazingly good, noise-free SW and amateur radio reception on the radio in my truck without having to set up a physically large and cumbersome antenna. I also have a Panasonic RF-2200 portable analog radio that I take on trips. Both of these are pretty old, tech-wise, but both remain in regular use and have stood the test of time very well indeed.

Music: A Marantz 2325 stereo receiver and a pair of Marantz HD-880 speakers. Not only does this setup sound nothing less than awesome, it eliminates the tedious menu surfing that more modern gear forces upon us. Everything's on a front panel knob. Everything. I have (very) modern gear in the home theater, but in my office, the old Marantz blue face remains king.

Lastly, I still have, and continue to play, a 1950's Fender Stratocaster guitar. I have a fair collection of more modern guitars, but the strat's neck is still the best of all of them. Luckily, for most of my life I've been a casual enough musician, and have spent enough time on other guitars, that I've not had to have the thing re-fretted. I don't look forward to that. I can't imagine it'll be the same. Of all the old stuff I have, this is the thing that has not only kept its value, but appreciated far beyond any dollar figure I could ever have anticipated. Not selling it, though. Ever. :)

Comment: Image processing (Score 4, Interesting) 171

by fyngyrz (#47787737) Attached to: Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

I use -- and write -- image processing software. Correct use of multiple cores results in *significant* increases in performance, far more than single digits. I have a dual 4-core, 3 GHz mac pro, and I can control the threading of my algorithms on a per-core basis, and every core adds more speed when the algorithms are designed such that a region stays with one core and so remains in-cache for the duration of the hard work.

The key there is to keep main memory from becoming the bottleneck, which it immediately will do if you just sweep along through your data top to bottom (presuming your data is bigger than the cache, which is typoically the case with DSLRs today.) Now, if they ever get main memory to us that runs as fast as the actual CPU, that'll be a different matter, but we're not even close at this point in time.

So it really depends on what you're doing, and how *well* you're doing it. Understanding the limitations of memory and cache is critical to effective use of multicore resources. You're not going to find a lot of code that does that sort of thing outside of very large data processing, and many individuals don't do that kind of data processing at all, or only do it so rarely that speed is not the key issue, only results matter. But there are certainly common use cases where keeping a machine for ten years would use up valuable time in an unacceptable manner. As a user, I am constantly editing my own images with global effects, and so multiple fast cores make a real difference for me. A single core machine is crippled by comparison.

Comment: Sources of water (Score 1) 520

by fyngyrz (#47787677) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

The moisture source for lakes and rivers is -- inevitably -- precipitation over lands upstream. Either as direct runoff, or as recurring eruptions from underground aquifers. If the prevailing winds don't bring the more humid air over the cooler, higher landscape, sure, you'll see drought. But you'd see it anyway, more heat or not. When the prevailing winds are bringing more moisture over those same types of terrain, you're going to see more precipitation, not less.

The historical record bears this out. When the earth is warmer, we get (a lot) more plant growth. That's simply not going to happen if the precipitation is reduced for any reason. And, at least as far as I am aware at this time, there is no mechanism that would cause reduction in precipitation. Warmer air holds more moisture, yes, and that effect is in full view in the tropics -- with deluge level rainfall when that moist air hits colder atmosphere and the moisture inevitably precipitates as rain. 400 inches / year as opposed to about 100 inches / year in otherwise similar temperate regions.

I would certainly agree that if the wind patterns change, then the rainfall will too. In both directions. But it seems a little farfetched to say that such changes will result in a consistent decrease in winds traveling onshore. What would such a claim be based upon?

Comment: Re: Impacts (Score 1) 520

by fyngyrz (#47787631) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Is this year actually a warmer year? Didn't I just read that we're in a 20-year hiatus in the warming trend?

Yes, warmer air holds more moisture -- anyone who has worked the steam tables to convert between relative and absolute humidity knows that (and I have done so for my auroral photo opportunity prediction freeware), but it's also susceptible to precipitating more moisture when convection brings that moist air up into the colder altitudes. That's why tropical rainfall tends to be in deluges as compared to, for instance, the typical rain shower in Pennsylvania. We know for a fact that the tropics are warmer and wetter in terms of rainfall amounts per year -- and that since they are warmer, their air can hold more moisture. But that's not stopped them from having much more rainfall than anywhere else. While there certainly may be outlier statistics, the general case seems clearly to be: warmer = wetter = more rainfall.

Temperate rainforests get as much 100 inches / year. Tropical rainforests get up to 400 inches / year. If it's not the heat that's doing it, what do you propose is the mechanism?

If it *is* the heat that's doing it, then what is the mechanism where more heat, heat that corresponds with previous tropical climates in the earth's past, won't repeat the same effect here? Looking at the past CO2 level graphs as correlated with plant growth and temperature, there's a very strong correlation with CO2 and plant growth, and with temperature. Plants love CO2, but they still need moisture to survive, and where there's more plant growth, it's pretty much a certainty that there's a significant water supply.

So far, anyway, the idea of warming in the tropics -- or anywhere there's basically unlimited water and related prevailing winds -- leading to drought seems to be a non-starter.

It's not that I can't accept it, it's just that to accept it, I need a sound scientific reason to do so. Just saying that one expects drought in the tropics seems like hand-waving at this point. There are plenty of legitimate concerns - a slight, very, very slow rise in sea level, movement of crop-appropriate bands in cultivated areas, that sort of thing, but tropical drought doesn't appear to be one of them.

Also, recent news shows increased plant growth worldwide... something to think about in a situation where CO2 is known to be increasing at an accelerated rate.

Comment: Re:Loose Lips Sinik Ships (Score 5, Insightful) 244

Unfortunately, while not false (in the most obvious case, informants have a way of winding up dead if you are too obvious about their existence); your justification leaves two major issues unaddressed:

1. The government is not refusing to divulge the specific reasons and evidence that led to a particular person being added to the list(which quite plausibly might reveal specific informants, bugged computers, etc. and would likely merit an in camera review or something). They are refusing to divulge the general criteria and possible methods by which anyone could end up on the list. It's the difference between "Tell me exactly who ratted out Big Vinnie" and "What constitutes 'Racketeering' for the purposes of the US criminal code". One is a potential operational risk. The other is 'rule of law'.

2. The 'no fly list' is a bullshit twilight category without obvious protective value. Apparently there are people (and lots of them) so dangerous that they cannot be allowed on a passenger aircraft, even with some sort of enhanced screening; but so safe that apparently no other measures need be taken. It's a combination of state harassment(not being able to fly is a pretty big deal if you travel much) and absurd magical thinking. Too dangerous to fly; but safe enough to do basically anything else? Seriously? Why would that category even exist? Hijacking an airplane with a pointy object shouldn't work anymore(if we finished upgrading the doors), and anyone who can get bombs, firearms, or toxins doesn't need a plane to cause trouble.

The refusal to even outline how you fall into such a category, or why such a category exists, is a profound mockery of the notion of rule of law. No, not every specific detail of how every piece of evidence is gathered can be safely revealed; but that isn't the story here.

Comment: Interesting. (Score 4, Interesting) 126

One doesn't have to see the value in stuff that isn't immediately applicable R&D(and I'm not here to debate the point, do as you will); but if you are OK with the concept of such research this actually seems like a pretty good idea:

The question of how and why ideas, 'culture', religions, new scientific hypotheses, etc. are transmitted and compete with one another is really a very long standing one. A lot of the historical study emphasizes 'elite' culture and theory(mostly because everything else was oral record only, and that doesn't keep well; but written works sometimes survive) or religious(high frequency of literacy, and proselytizing is a technology of considerable interest to contemporary religions); but there is also study of popular culture, folk mythologies, what the middle and lower classes were reading and watching(once that became common), and so on.

Cultural transmission is a very solid social science topic, and internet memes have the dual virtues of both potentially being novel(they might actually follow some traditional propagation pattern, might be something new, either way would be interesting to know) and being amenable to large-scale analysis because the internet is just so conveniently searchable and heavily cached in various places. You don't have to like the entire field; but this research project seems like a perfectly reasonable exercise.

Comment: Re:interesting case.... (Score 1) 75

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47772783) Attached to: Fake NVIDIA Graphics Cards Show Up In Germany
You wouldn't even need to be having production issues. As with most vendors, Nvidia has a bunch of options for sale and the nicer ones cost more. Even if you have the capability to stuff boards with the nicer chips just as easily as the cheap ones, a bit of fraud will do wonders for your BoM costs.

Comment: Re:interesting case.... (Score 3, Informative) 75

by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (#47772773) Attached to: Fake NVIDIA Graphics Cards Show Up In Germany
It would be interesting for an intermediary to be involved since producing/obtaining correctly faked GPUs is a comparatively specialized task. Not rocket science, pick the cheapest Nvidia silicon that is close enough to not react horribly to drivers expecting the real thing, tamper with the identifying portions of the firmware, replace any packaging, stickers, or other labels; but it's hardly the old 'purchase thing from best buy, return brick in the box' scam.

This doesn't mean that it isn't one of the intermediaries; but if it is they are working with considerably more sophistication than the 'fell off the truck' level of supply chain skimming.

Comment: Re:Impacts (Score 3, Informative) 520

by fyngyrz (#47766853) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

You *do* realize that the equatorial zone is generally tropical, wet as heck, and quite a bit warmer than everywhere else, yes? And that plants thrive on CO2?

Doesn't follow that making it warmer will make it drier. That doesn't seem to be how it works. Drier happens when water sources go away. There's no reasonable postulate for that which would apply to most equatorial regions.

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