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Comment Re:How long to a real revolution in engine tech ? (Score 1) 71

So a vote against nuclear is really a vote for coal, oil, and natural gas. Is that ok with you then?

Ah, the fallacy of the excluded middle. I'm afraid that's complete bullshit.

If you look at any reputable analysis (that is, ignore the fake nuke shill ones put out by Fred Singer and pals) you'll find that solar and wind would be quite possible - as long as you are OK with the same kind of massive public funding and international co-operation that nukes also require. And while tens of thousands of windmills are an attractive military target, a single fission plant is even more so.

But personally I'd rather have a distributed, agriculturally based carbon-neutral methane power scheme. We've already got most of the infrastructure, including coastal pipelines that feed huge natgas power plants. Generate jobs and eliminate pollution at the same time, and go completely coal, nuke and frack gas free in a single generation - all for less than the total amounts spent on the last eight years of war.

Comment Re:How long to a real revolution in engine tech ? (Score 1) 71

The cost/return ratio is, pardon the pun, out of this world. :)

So, exactly the same as nuclear, only with less fetish-stroking.

Nuclear fantasies are a staple of Slashdot forums, but I personally think fission technology is both quaint and unsuited to observable human behavioral patterns. Thank god I live in a country with some pitiful semblance of democracy, so that the majority will occasionally prevails, despite insanities like the Cheney energy policy.

Comment Driver's ed is still being taught in schools here (Score 1) 300

My teenagers were taught how to drive in (taxpayer funded, feeder pattern, majority-minority) public High School. They were also taught epistemology - and also how fuel injection works, and also basic coding...

Apparently kids in the elite schools don't get a thorough education? Weird. Guess they don't need it, though.

Comment Re:How long to a real revolution in engine tech ? (Score 1) 71

We won't have a real advance in rocket motors until we get over our collective fear of "OMG the nuclears!".

Chemical reactions do not provide nearly enough power to weight thrust to move in space at reasonable speeds.

I know, man. If it wasn't for all the NIMBYs, we'd have put men on the moon by now!

Comment I have root. (Score 1) 198

For those of you in the community who have similar positions, what is your experience? Do you have unfettered access to the environment?

Yes. I have root or root equivalent on all company-owned equipment. In the instances where vendors did not grant root access to systems they sold us, I cracked them and gave myself access, with the full knowledge and prior permission of the company's CIO. You cannot audit or analyze a system without full access.

Are purely architectural / advisory roles the norm at this level?

In an organization like yours, where the performance of the chief architect has been visibly unsatisfactory, it is probably normal. In my organization I am trusted not to abuse my privileges, and trusted never to change anything without informing all relevant parties, so nobody minds that I have the ability to monitor and analyze everything that's going on everywhere in the infrastructure.

You have to build trust. I recommend that you never, ever change anything without discussing it with responsible parties first (you don't have to follow their advice, but you have listen, and then you tell them what they are required to do, and don't just do it for them) unless it's a critical emergency, and if you make emergency changes you have to make damn sure that every interested party is informed afterwards of why and when and what you did.

You're asking for them to place absolute trust in you. They won't do it unless they think you deserve it - not as a technical expert, but as a person.

Comment BIND (Score 1) 147

What's a superior DNS, in your opinion?

Point your Berkeley Internet Name Domain server at the root nameservers.

All the services that provide intermediaries to the real DNS are in the business of directing your traffic for their profit. If you are happy being a clueless end-user, the best you can do is (Google) since they are at least built to a reasonable scale.

But it's still not really DNS... it's asking somebody else to do your DNS for you. Which is OK for non-geek end users.

Comment You're offtopic but I'll answer anyway. (Score 2) 384

Is there anything that uses Ethernet without using */IP?

Yes, tons of stuff. Dozens of protocols.

Is there anything that uses Ethernet without using */IP that also uses IP addresses??

Yes; there are a number of "companion" protocols that interoperate with IP when it's on an ethernet. You've probably heard of ARP and ICMP, to give just two examples. Neither of those is actually part of the Internet Protocol, and they don't ride over it, but they do use IP addresses on an Ethernet.

Comment History lesson for you non-technicals. (Score 1) 564

File extensions were originally something that humans put on files to tell each other what they were. Around 1974, for example, I might have a file called "phlist.txt" on an PDP-11 and my cow-orkers would know that was a phone list in raw ASCII format. The OS did not care, labels were for humans. If you wanted to tell the OS to execute a program, you typed "run filename" and if it wasn't an executable you'd get an error message.

Then unix and friends came along, and put an "executable bit" in the metadata for each file, so that you didn't have to type "run" any more. If you typed the name of a file, and it had the executable bit set, the system treated that as if you'd run it. Saved some ink on the teletype, don't you know.

Well, 8-bit micro computers running CP/M and DOS came along, and they sort of half-assed the concept. They still didn't have very much metadata on files, but the extensions .exe and... hmmm... something else I forget right now... were designated as "special". If you typed a word that the system did not recognize, it would look for a file with that name followed by .exe, and try to execute it.

But then Apple came along and built resource forks into their file system metadata, so they were able to associate information about what applications and/or utilities were used to create a file, and give some recommendations on what should be done if a user simply clicked the file. A really significant advance for filesystems, at least in theory.

Now, Microsoft wanted to make people believe that their OS and file system were as capable as the early Apple Macintoshes (pre-OSX) so they faked up a sort of back-alley version of the resource fork using file extensions. They were already checking for that .exe extension anyway, so most of the infrastructure to do this was already in place, they just jammed some hacks in to generalize the mechanism for all file extensions. And then they hid the extensions, so that to a clueless end-user it looked exactly like an Apple mac - you clicked on a file named "phone list" and the phone list application opened up.

This hare-brained scheme doesn't really work like Apple's, of course, because instead of including extra information about the file in the file metadata, instead they have built a separate list of file "types", designated by extension, and actions to associate with those types. In terms of the required slashdot car analogy, this is the difference between having the name of your state or country blazoned on your license plate, or having a giant book where you can look up the number of a car's license and see what state the car was registered in. Obviously the latter is inefficient and scales poorly as well as being fundamentally less capable and having no consistency across individual machines. Using the Apple method, if someone gives me a file with a resource fork, I get the resource metadata with the file. Using the Microsoft method, somebody gives me a file and maybe - if I'm lucky, and have the same applications installed - I will have the same resources associated with the file extension that the person giving me the file had on their machine.

But people who grew up after all this was invented can rarely see how stupid this all is, and always has been. It's like the idiocy of having the label of the volume MFD being the same as the subfolder separator character - nearly all of you young folks think that actually makes sense, in the same way that people brought up in the Westboro Baptist Church think raving bigotry makes sense. You've been conditioned to accept it.

This is only one of several giant steps backwards in computer technology. We used to have automatic file versioning but now programmers are so thoroughly conditioned they don't even seem capable of understanding why that was so awesome.

Now get off my damn lawn, you whippersnappers!

Comment You should all go buy some RIGHT NOW (Score 1) 61

Wireless charging schemes are totally awesome, because I am heavily invested in Texas and Arab Oil.

If you are a non-billionaire, remember profligate waste is super patriotic, and be sure to do your part! For AMERICA! (Or for the heathen foreign ideals of your benighted snail-eating nation, should you not be American.)

If you're a billionaire, I'll see you at the club later. Today we're using Tea Party congressmen as ponies for the polo match, and later we're having naked petroleum jelly wrestling featuring network anchor-babes. It'll be great!

Comment There are racial differences too - so what? (Score 1) 399

Supposedly a man of Indian heritage (Asian Indian, from India, not Amerindian) will burn fewer calories than a woman of so-called "white" heritage.

Of course, all this is based on "average" people of particular genders or races, and the variance within those groups is probably far greater than the variance between the averages. And you don't necessarily expect astronauts to be average, now do you?

So you're still probably better off picking people with exceptional caloric efficiency who have the other skills you need and leaving race and gender entirely out of the selection process. Don't pre-bias your results with bigotry based on averages - average people are not what you want!

Comment I can't wait for it (Score 2) 98

>wasn't there a journalist who published a blog and used that as the only notable reference to create a fake article? :)

I can recommend you a fascinating pair of books: The Secret History of the War on Cancer by Devra Davis and The Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes. There is a very long history of circular self-reference among dishonest journalists and scientists; for example Fred Singer would write a letter to the Wall Street Journal, then write an Op-Ed piece for a smaller outfit using the Wall Street Journal as a reference, then write an article for WSJ referencing the op-ed. In each case the claimed accuracy of the sources would be boosted - first in the letter it might make a bald claim like "tobacco is proven not harmful" or "global warming is beneficial" and the the op-ed would go on to state that "the wall street journal says tobacco is proven not harmful" then in the final piece "prominent scientists have repeatedly proven that tobacco is not harmful" (Singer really is a physicist or something like that). Eventually the final WSJ article would be cited in thousands of journals and papers funded by Singer's paymasters - this is still going on, the articles are still cited today. Read the books to find out more.

Comment Re:Useless Elements and Padding. (Score 1) 250

Ah, the joys of 3 VT100s on your desk.

And if you took the lid off, you could grab the CRT yoke and the cheap varnish holding it to the tube would crack so that you could spin the image on the screen.

That way, you could have two of your three terminals sitting sideways on your desk. Or even upside down!

You couldn't do it with VT52s because the keyboard was attached. VT100s had a cable.

Comment Quite the opposite. (Score 2) 469

Is linux so unreliable and prone to disaster that "kill -1" used on a regular basis?

Quite the opposite!

Kill -1 tells a service daemon that is handling hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections that it needs to re-read its configuration file, without interrupting service even momentarily.

Kiddie stuff doesn't need kill -1. It's only the ultra-reliable stuff in mission-critical roles that needs it.

Suppose you, personally, have a piece of software that controls your artificial heart. Your doctor has discovered that there's a security vulnerability in the silicon, but luckily it can be remediated with a change to the software configuration, so that you don't have to get your chest cracked to fix it. He uploads the new configuration and kill -1's the running software, and it picks up the changes between one beat and the next, never causing you to, you know, die.

OK, maybe that was an unnecessarily dramatic example. A more mundane one would be adding a new web site - you enter the new A, AAA, SPF and MX records, put the new config in the httpd.conf and access.conf files, then you kill -1 the DNS and httpd servers, and none of your other customers have to have their web sites shut down while the new one is being brought up. This happens ten thousand times a day at web service providers all over the world.

"Free markets select for winning solutions." -- Eric S. Raymond