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Comment New angle of attack ? (Score 1) 550

The last round of big attacks on Linux happened abound 2003-2004. Remember SCO, Laura DiDio, Ken Brown, Ballmer, etc ?

Those were external attacks and it only made the community stick together even closer.

Now a bit of astroturfing, staging some discontent inside the community. After all, nothing divides a community the way success does. Looks like a short-lived stunt.

Comment Depends on what makes you comfortable (Score 1) 856

One of the reasons large software projects, developed over many years, fail is that there are so many cooks participating in the making of the broth. There will always be someone who "knows better" than to follow the rules set in place when the project originally started. The project grows into a large ball of spaghetti, and nobody knows where it starts and where it ends.

Linus deserves a Noble Prize for keeping such a large project going strong for so many years, and that without any of the developers being his employees. Yes, the threat of being fired does prevents some of the cooks from spoiling the broth.

And then there are people who thrive in a political environment, and software development is very political. Some developers are very good at assigning and deflecting blame, and the larger the ball of spaghetti, the better they do.

Linus did not want to see his project fail this well-known way, so his rude comments are very much a necessity to keep the "know better" blame assigners/deflectors in line. So far the approach has worked fine.

In turn, this has created an environment where people who prefer to play the politics do not feel comfortable. And just as many people quit their jobs because they cannot put up with the politics, so do others quit from places where being political does not give them a competitive advantage.

I am reproducing Linus' words here ( :

"Because if you want me to 'act professional,' I can tell you that I'm not interested. I'm sitting in my home office wearing a bathrobe. The same way I'm not going to start wearing ties, I'm *also* not going to buy into the fake politeness, the lying, the office politics and backstabbing, the passive aggressiveness, and the buzzwords. Because THAT is what 'acting professionally' results in: people resort to all kinds of really nasty things because they are forced to act out their normal urges in unnatural ways."

Comment Cut the kid some slack (Score 4, Interesting) 95

You make some very important points in your post: for your new product to take over, it needs to do everything the old product does, and then do something better. However, take this into account:

1) The team that built Deep Blue were IBM employees, and had so they had different resources available. I doubt this student (I call him kid) had a grandmaster available to help him fine-tune his evaluator, or a fab to build custom silicon for his chess-playing machine. Also, it is very instructive to watch the documentary "Game Over" to learn a few things about how IBM used the game against Kasparov to push up their share price. That should gave some idea of the resources they have thrown at the project.

2) The same Deep Blue team were coming from the CS department at Carnegie-Mellon Univ. where they did their Ph.D. on computer chess, and studied with a prof that spent a lot of his career on this subject. They were grown-ups with a lot of experience in the field, and much wiser than a young student.

3) The current computer chess champion (Komodo) again had its evaluator fine-tuned by a grandmaster:

4) Most of the top chess programs have been written by programmers that have written other chess engines before. Their "success" is their 3rd of 4th re-write of a chess engine, and no amount of talent can replace that kind of experience.

Given all these points (and a lot more that can be identified along the same lines) I would say this kid did a good job.

Comment At least it's free (Score 4, Interesting) 182

Cigarettes are quite expensive, so getting 40 a day for free is not that bad.

That being said, Beijing is located is a small depression and that results in all the heavier particles in the air hovering over the city instead of dispersing over a larger area.

This effect is strongest in the winter, as I experienced it when I visited the city about a decade ago. However, there are spontaneous "clearing events" when sudden winds blow away the smoke, and then the difference in the quality of the air is quite striking.

Comment Of course we trust Google (Score 2) 173

"your responses are confidential, meaning that your feedback will not be attributed to you and the data will only be used in aggregate form."


"We already have enough information to identify you personally, so there is no need for you to provide us with your name."

Comment Couple of things (Score 3, Interesting) 62

The article specifies that spacecraft re-enters at about 5 times the speed of sound.

1) The spacecraft on low Earth orbit have orbital velocities of about 8km/sec, and the speed of sound is about 0.34 km/sec. That makes the spacecraft about 23 times faster than sound on re-entry. I remember reading bout the Columbia disaster, that the shuttle entered the atmosphere at about 26 times the speed of sound. That makes sense, as the potential energy of the above-atmosphere orbit is transformed into kinetic energy at the altitude of hitting the atmosphere.
For the Apollo spacecraft, they re-entered at even higher speed, close to the Earth escape velocity of 11.2km/sec. That makes them about 33 time faster than sound.

2) The plasma sheet forms a very narrow cone with the spacecraft at the tip of it, effectively enveloping the spacecraft. The angle is given by:

sin \theta = speed of sound / speed of spacecraft.

At mach 23 it is about 6 degrees. Plus the plasma is turbulent, so it is very difficult to aim a signal along this cone and hit a satellite.

Comment Moving to the private sector (Score 4, Interesting) 218

It does not mean that the spying will stop.
Only that it will be moved to the private sector.

In place of the NSA, it will be Verizon, Comcast et al who will be doing the bulk data collection.

And instead of being financed by tax money that is collected anyway, the bulk collection will be financed by additional charges to the phone/cable bills.

Comment Finally ! (Score 1) 386

An comment which not only makes sense, but it also touches on the most important point. That in the right hands, a language like C++ is a very powerful tool.

Let me just add that in the scientific computing community the much-maligned FORTRAN is very much alive. Remember the saying "You can write FORTRAN in any language" ?

You can't do much structured programming in this language, but then you don't have to. Read in a file, run a bunch of nested loops, write the output. And it is very, very fast, a necessary asset when you run all the time into the limitations of the hardware. In the right hands, FORTRAN is a very powerful tool indeed.

Comment Now you know what we are thinking about ? (Score 1) 359

Remember Eric's brilliant response to user's privacy concerns ?

"We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about."

Well, I guess he got the last part figured out. We think that G+ has failed. I remember the time when that creepy curved arrow showed up on Google's home page, forcing users to go to the "+You" button. Forcing users to sign up and then exposing their real names was the perfect way to kill the product.

Comment Isn't the host galaxy lensed ? (Score 1) 154

I looked at the picture given in TFA and it looks to me that the host galaxy of this mysterious non-nova, non-supernova explosion is a background galaxy, lensed by the foreground cluster. It does not look like a member of this foreground cluster.

I would say, distance estimates for such background galaxies are not particularly easy to make.

Comment Their hardware is very good (Score 3, Interesting) 133

I am writing my own (multi-threaded) software and recently I had a chance to do a test run on an intel i7 processor (8-core, 2.67GHz) to compare it with my old Athlon II X4 (3GHz). Both programs compiled with the same version of GCC (4.6.1), both compiled with -O3 optimization. Running 8 threads on the Intel machine was only marginally faster than running 4 threads on the old Athlon. The threads were independent, so no threads were inactive while waiting for something else to finish.

Where Intel have the lead is in the compiler business. Back in 2003 or so they released their ICC 8.0 for free for Linux users. I was writing only single-threaded software at the time, and simply re-compiling it with ICC made it run about 5 times faster than the version compiled with GCC 2.96. And that was on a 2GHz Athlon XP.

What AMD have done right is the integration of the CPU and GPU allowing them to gobble up the console market. However, their bet that all developers will jump on the heterogeneous computing bandwagon did not pan out. But with HSA 1.0 coming up their lead will be too large and neither Nvidia not Intel will have a competitor ready for the next console refresh. All that Nvidia will do is to continue to pay game developers to optimize their engines for GeForce cards, and refuse to optimize for Radeon. AMD's resources are so limited that they will be forced to have a desktop version of their console processor, and maybe an ARM core for good measure.

Exiting the "dense server" are makes perfect sense, as the market is very limited. Running across many small cores is hard and developers will avoid it. It is the same story as taking advantage of the GPU, which also provides many simple cores.

So no, they are not dead, they are simply adapting to market realities and accept that they made a mistake when they jumped in the dense server bandwagon. Unlike Intel, who even now refuse to let go of the Itanium.

Comment Re:Not much to transfer the other way (Score 2) 186

Agreed, there is "one color go" as you describe it.
The point I was trying to make is that while this version of go is not very popular, any chess player starting at about National Master level (and certainly for those at IM level) is capable of playing blindfolded.
This ability is simply a by-product of their training, not something they specifically aim for.
For Go players, the ability to play with the same color stones is not something that follows naturally from their training.

Go and Chess expand different abilities of the human brain.

"Don't tell me I'm burning the candle at both ends -- tell me where to get more wax!!"