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Comment: Re:imagine (Score 4, Insightful) 43

We don't know. That's one reason to do it.

What does it mean if the survey shows that for a group of 10 stars you have a 95% probability of at least 8 having at least one planet?
What does it mean if the survey shows this for 95% of the surveyed area except for a continuous section where there is only 1 planet per 100 stars?

What new knowledge would come from trying to understand what caused this? Perhaps we discover something new about fundamental physics?

The point is that we don't know what we don't know. This may be what discovers something previously completely unsuspected and with earth-shattering possibilities... or... we could just learn that there's a lot of planets out there and nothing more. But without doing it, there's no chance of discovering the former. Observing what's around us is how we learn more and start to question things we otherwise never would have known even existed to question.

Comment: Doesn't take it far enough (Score 1) 347

by Kamots (#42861931) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Alternative To the Canonical Computer Science Degree?

It's not just general stuff about being able to understand general algorithms and such, it's far more than that. Assuming your school does a good job you'll be learning about how to architect and design... and a lot of that transcends domain boundaries.

The *same* exact skills that I use for architecting software I've used when our systems group didn't do their job and the software team had to take over and produce the needed artifacts (customer required). How you go about defining interfaces between hardware components isn't really any different than what you do to do so between software components.

In fact, I'm now working at developing a business process for a whole new line of business. There's hundreds of government documents regulating it. So... it's take all the same skills that are used in successful software development and apply to this instead. Setup an architecture framework for the process that meets your needs. In this case it's ensure that the regulations are traceable to the process we generate and that the process is created in such a way that certain structural requirements are met. Then it's decomposition to individual subsystems (individual processes) and flowing requirements down and then designing them. It's the same skills behind it all.

Yes, there's domain specific stuff that may not be apropo to what you're *currently* wanting to do. But there is (or should be!) a lot of domain-independent skills that are applicable to a whole wide range of design domains including web design. Learning this set of skills makes it very easy to transition jobs in the future if needs or wants change.

Comment: Unneeded/wanted for some if not most (Score 1) 257

Set beneficiaries on your financial accounts (401k's, etc). I can envision all sorts of problems arising if the accounts are logged into and assets transfered out after your death.

For your laptop password, and the like, why not just keep a thumbdrive in a safe deposit box?

Comment: Re:Yeah right (Score 1) 413

by Kamots (#35682510) Attached to: FSF Suggests That Google Free Gmail Javascript

With Opera I can right-click on a page say "edit site preferences" go to the scripting tab, and set a javascript folder. It will then load the javascript in that folder followed by the scripting on the page. However, in the javascript in the specified folder that you load, you can use opera-specific extensions to modify/overwrite the subsequently loaded javascript from the site. I'm probably doing a horrible job of explaining as I don't really do web-development stuff. So...

http://www.opera.com/docs/userjs/

+ - Federal Prosecutors tempt the Streisand Effect->

Submitted by
decora
decora writes "As the case of NSA IT guru Thomas Andrews Drake nears trial, the fur has been flying between the defense and prosecution lawyers. Earlier this week the judge ordered the sealing of a defense motion because the government claimed it contained classified information. The problem? The document had been sitting on the Federation of American Scientists website for several days. Another problem: the document is marked "Unclassified" in big bold letters at the top of the page."
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Bargain? $200? (Score 1) 197

by Kamots (#32876180) Attached to: Nvidia's $200 GTX 460 Ups Bargain Performance

It's a bargin priced performance video card not a bargin priced video card. Interestingly enough, "bargin performance" is the phrase used in the summary.

You're not going to get solid performance at a respectable resolution in modern video games for below $150-200 or so. If you spend below that you're either having to drastically cut resolution or you're cutting way back on the settings. The $200ish range of cards will let you run with most all of the pretty stuff turned on at approximately 1080p resolution with a solid framerate that's not being killed by stuttering or slowdowns. (i.e., acceptable mins)

The mid-range and high-end cards allow you to run at yet higher resolutions and/or with lots of AA. And yes, there are people that play modern FPSers at 2560x1600 with AA. I'm not one of them. I tend to go the budget performance card route and game at 1600x1200 with low or no AA but with high settings and a good frame rate. I'll likely need to upgrade come this fall though, and this card is definately on my radar.

Comment: Re:HDLs (Score 1) 250

by Kamots (#32084876) Attached to: Moore's Law Will Die Without GPUs

Most modern CPUs and the compilers for them are simply not designed for multiple threads/processes to interact with the same data. As an excersize, try writing a lockless single-producer single-consumer queue in C or C++. If you could make the same assumption in this two-thread example that you can make in a single-thread problem, namely that the perceived order of operations is the order that they're coded, then it'd be a snap.

But you see, once you start playing with more than one thread of execution, you gain visibility into both CPU reordering and compiler reordering. You also gain visibility into optimizations made (such as maintaining values in a register and not moving to cache or invented predictive stores and the like). If you research enough you'll find that while the volatile keyword will solve some of the problems, it doesn't solve them all, and it introduces others (it works well for what it's designed for, which is interfacing with hardware, if it's being used for intra-thread comms it's being misused). You wind up needing to use architecture-specific memory barriers/fences to instruct the CPU about reordering and when to flush store buffers to cache and so on. You wind up needing to use compiler-specific constructs to prevent it from reordering or maintaining things in registers that you're not wanting. (volatile is often used for the later, and note while volatile variables won't be reordered around each other, the standard says nothing about reordering non-volatile around the volatile. Also, it bypasses the cache, which in x86-land introduces CPU-reordering that otherwise isn't there (as I think volatile winds up being implemented using CLFLUSH?) as well as unnecessary performance hits (which perfomance is evidently important if you're trying to avoid locks...)

Atomicity is a whole different level of fun as well. I was lucky, at the boundary I was dealing with inherently atomic operations (well, so-long as I have my alignment correct, (not guaranteed by new)), but if you're not... it's yet more architecture-specific code.

Comment: Re:and...? (Score 1) 664

by Kamots (#31427518) Attached to: Professors Banning Laptops In the Lecture Hall

In classes which are primarily discussion based (i.e., a nice high level philosophy course) I agree, a laptop has no place.

However, for me, having a laptop to distract myself with is creating "an environment conducive to learning." I didn't use it in a way that was disruptive to others (browse slashdot, play solitare, etc), but it's ability to keep me entertained had me attending a lot of lectures that I otherwise would have skipped. My distractionary use of the laptop was inversely related to the quality of the instructor.

Personally I'd lose all respect for an instructor that banned laptops. Students alternatively occupying themselves with their laptop is in most cases a sign that you're doing a poor job as an instructor. Attempting to remove the indicator that you suck rather than fix the problem... well... hardly seems ethical to me.

Comment: DRM? (Score 0) 331

by Kamots (#30983332) Attached to: Review: <em>Mass Effect 2</em>

I refused to buy or play the first one because of their DRM. Essentially it turned your purchase into a lease... of unknown duration.

I'd be interested in this one, however, despite the lengthy review, I didn't see any mention of DRM. Given that this is slashdot, I'm kind of surprised and dissapointed. Why bother hosting reviews here if they're not going to focus on the geeky side of things?

Games

Revisiting the "Holy Trinity" of MMORPG Classes 362

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-druid-as-the-case-may-be dept.
A feature at Gamasutra examines one of the foundations of many MMORPGs — the idea that class roles within such a game fall into three basic categories: tank, healer, and damage dealer. The article evaluates the pros and cons of such an arrangement and takes a look at some alternatives. "Eliminating specialized roles means that we do away with boxing a class into a single role. Without Tanks, each class would have features that would help them participate in and survive many different encounters like heavy armor, strong avoidance, or some class or magical abilities that allow them to disengage from direct combat. Without specialized DPS, all classes should be able to do damage in order to defeat enemies. Some classes might specialize in damage type, like area of effect (AoE) damage; others might be able to exploit enemy weaknesses, and some might just be good at swinging a sharpened bit of metal in the right direction at a rapid rate. This design isn't just about having each class able to fill any trinity role. MMO combat would feel more dynamic in this system. Every player would have to react to combat events and defend against attacks."

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