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

by Laxator2 (#49559105) Attached to: Google Insiders Talk About Why Google+ Failed

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

by Laxator2 (#49535309) Attached to: Hubble Spots Star Explosion Astronomers Can't Explain

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

by Laxator2 (#49493145) Attached to: AMD Withdraws From High-Density Server Business

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

by Laxator2 (#49214143) Attached to: Number of Legal 18x18 Go Positions Computed; 19x19 On the Horizon

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.

Comment: Not much to transfer the other way (Score 1) 186

by Laxator2 (#49213677) Attached to: Number of Legal 18x18 Go Positions Computed; 19x19 On the Horizon

I can tell from my experience, having played Go decently, but being a calamity at Chess.

To give an example, I wrote a chess-playing program (a simple alpha-beta minimax with a value function pilfered from SunFish
No iterative deepening, no transposition table, no null-move search, no ...). When I set it to just 4 plies (that is two moves ahead) it absolutely destroys me. Basically, to be a decent chess player, you must have the ability to picture the board in your head and be able to do so for a few moves ahead. It is absolutely necessary when calculating exchanges and piece sacrifices. So a bit of ability to play blindfold chess is needed. Not a whole game, but to follow a line in your head.

Contrast this with Go, where blindfold play is almost unheard of. One of the well-known difficulties is to "play under the stones"
where part of a group is captured and you have to play new stones on the vacated intersections. This is a place where blindfold-chess type of skill is required, and most Go players avoid that. Here is a great article on that:

Also, the opening in chess follows very precise sequences, while in Go, the two players can almost ignore each other for the first few moves.
In the opening you have to think of the large-scale pattern of the territory you want to grab, not of the exact position of one piece/stone.

Comment: About 1 in 20 ? (Score 2) 809

by Laxator2 (#49048469) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Portion of Developers Are Bad At What They Do?

I did have to interview quite a few people in a year, when we were re-building our team.
We interviewed about 40 people before getting 2 of them who actually knew the stuff they advertised on their CVs.
One extreme case, was a candidate who put on his CV that he wrote a compiler for C++.
I expected him to know quite a bit about the language itself, but the discussion did not get past the point where I asked about the number of operations needed to find an element in a sorted array of length N.
As for the people that were already working in the place, one could spot who was trying to maximize the pain for the ones left behind, in case he was let go.
A relevant example is a developer who made sure that his code made calls to a library for which he was the only one with a valid license. Had he been let go, the whole system would stop working.

Comment: The authors don't trust their own invention (Score 3, Funny) 204

by Laxator2 (#45120837) Attached to: Billion Year Storage Media

The authors describe a medium that will hold information for 1million to 1 billion years, yet they publish their results on PAPER!
Either they don't trust their own material will last as long as good old paper or they expect irrelevance to do its work faster than wear and tear.
Otherwise, they would publish a "tungsten encapsulated by silicon nitride", not a "paper".

Comment: Ransomware was tried before (Score 5, Interesting) 478

by Laxator2 (#41880657) Attached to: Will Microsoft Dis-Kinect Freeloading TV Viewers?

I remember that some years ago, somebody came up with another brilliant idea: Have the TV sets locked on to a particular channel when the ads are shown, and ignore anything the user does with the remote control. Return control to the user only after the ads are finished.
  And to top it off, the new "feature" included an "upgraded" service, where the user will pay extra to have the channel lock removed. Patented ransomware.

What they did not take into account, is that people who were unknowingly buying such a thing were going to return them to the store in droves, declaring the units defective.

This move simply smacks of desperation from M$ after their blah launch of Win8 and the Surface tablet (plus the obligatory Apple and Google tablet launches around the same time)

Always try to do things in chronological order; it's less confusing that way.