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Comment: Real-world Moore's Law is toast... (Score 1) 96

by MetricT (#47650721) Attached to: Intel's 14-nm Broadwell CPU Primed For Slim Tablets

The transistor budget may still be scaling according to Moore's law, but that's failing to translate into real-world speed increases. The 5% increase in single-core IPC is weak sauce. And an annoying number of apps don't scale to multiple processors, or scale badly (Amdahl's law is unforgiving...)

You can add more cores, add more compute units to your GPU, or add DSP (Broadwell) or FPGA (Xeon), but that has an ever decreasing marginal impact on real-world speed.

We're probably stuck in a "5% IPC increase per tick/tock" world until they eventually shift off silicon onto Something Else (III-V semiconductors or something more exotic like graphene)

Comment: There's a Ferrari shortage too... (Score 3, Insightful) 401

by MetricT (#47396341) Attached to: No Shortage In Tech Workers, Advocacy Groups Say

I can't buy a Ferrari for $100, by the same logic, that means there *must* be a Ferrari shortage! Something must be done!!!

Hint: reward good people, and you won't have problems finding good people. The problem is these miserly capitalist/MBA types who feel tech types are getting all "uppity" for wanting a decent salary for their 4 year STEM degree and often 2-6 years of grad school to boot, because doing that takes away from their quarterly bonus.

Comment: We are *far* from true AI... (Score 1) 222

by MetricT (#47182943) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Killer Machines

IBM's Watson might be able to beat any human competitor on Jeopardy, but stick it in the middle of the highway and it will get run over by the first semi that comes along because it isn't smart enough to get out of the way.

Killer machines will undoubtedly exist, but they will be human-controlled for a long, long time to come.

Comment: Re:If you're just beaming it down to earth anyways (Score 3, Interesting) 230

by MetricT (#46843073) Attached to: How Japan Plans To Build Orbital Solar Power Stations

It's not a completely stupid idea, just a mostly stupid idea.

But it might make financial sense for powering McMurdo Base, for instance. The cost of hauling diesel down there is almost as ludicrous. Remote outposts and stuff.

Or if your government decided to send a small team of special forces into hostile territory, that would be a convenient way to provide them power. And you could use "cheap solar power for everyone" as good cover for launching something.

Comment: The universe is probably teeming with life, but... (Score 4, Interesting) 608

by MetricT (#46836799) Attached to: Are Habitable Exoplanets Bad News For Humanity?

We've seen fossils of simple (prokaryotic, bacterial) life that are at least 3.8 billion years old. Basically the instant it became possible for single-cell life to exist, it did. That suggests that simple life is *easy*.

It took evolution roughly a billion years to produce eukaryotic life, suggesting that step is hard. It also took 2 billion more years to produce a eukaryotic lifeform capable of space flight, suggesting that step is also hard.

The sun is predicted to make life on earth impossible in roughly ~1 billion years. An oops anywhere earlier in the process, and evolution wouldn't have had time to recover. We're lucky to exist.

So my suspicion is that the universe is relatively teeming with simple life anywhere it is possible (there are tentative signs that there *might* be life on Mars and possibly Titan too) but complex life is much rarer, rare enough that it's not surprised we haven't found any yet.

Also, wanting to communicate and explore is inherently a human desire, and whatever neo-human-cyber-whatever descendants emerge from the Singularity might not have the same desires. And I can predict their desires much more accurately than I could an aliens.

Transportation

Department of Transportation Makes Rear View Cameras Mandatory 518

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the because-using-your-mirrors-is-hard dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Department of Transportation issued a new rule (PDF) on Monday requiring car manufacturers to include rearview cameras in all cars manufactured after May 1, 2018. The rule applies to all cars weighing less than 10,000 pounds, including buses and trucks, but does not include motorcycles and trailers. '[The cameras] must give drivers a field of vision measuring at least 10 by 20 feet directly behind the vehicle. The system must also meet other requirements including dashboard image size, lighting conditions and display time.' An estimated 13 to 15 deaths and 1,125 injuries may be prevented with the implementation of this new requirement."
Google

How Google Broke Itself and Fixed Itself, Automatically 125

Posted by timothy
from the arise-phoenix-arise dept.
lemur3 writes "On January 24th Google had some problems with a few of its services. Gmail users and people who used various other Google services were impacted just as the Google Reliability Team was to take part in an Ask Me Anything on Reddit. Everything seemed to be resolved and back up within an hour. The Official Google Blog had a short note about what happened from Ben Treynor, a VP of Engineering. According to the blog post it appears that the outage was caused by a bug that caused a system that creates configurations to send a bad one to various 'live services.' An internal monitoring system noticed the problem a short time later and caused a new configuration to be spread around the services. Ben had this to say of it on the Google Blog, 'Engineers were still debugging 12 minutes later when the same system, having automatically cleared the original error, generated a new correct configuration at 11:14 a.m. and began sending it; errors subsided rapidly starting at this time. By 11:30 a.m. the correct configuration was live everywhere and almost all users' service was restored.'"

Comment: Re:And what about... (Score 2) 444

by MetricT (#46036399) Attached to: Who Makes the Best Hard Disk Drives?

I manage a couple petabytes of scientific data (LHC) on our own object filesystem, and at that scale, RAID really isn't an option any more simply because you will, with unacceptable frequency, manage to have two drive failures simply due to the number of drives.

All our new data is being stored with Reed-Solomon 6+3 redundancy. And I greatly look forward to the day when a drive can fail at 3 am and I don't have to get paged to repair it.

And Seagate well and truly sucks. Not only do they have an unacceptably high failure rate, but they have some pretty annoying non-complete failure modes, like firmware bugs causing the drive to hard-lock, and the only way to get them back is to power-cycle the entire server. And they don't support TLER, so drives blipping and getting a 3 am ticket is a regular occurance.

One other thing we learned is that Linux *really* needs a defragment utility. We started having complete permanent slot failures. Turns out we had 100's of drives with extreme fragmentation, and the amount of vibration the head would cause trying to read fragmented files 24x7 would destroy the slot. We have a "warmer" script that scrubs the drives for bitrot errors, and it also opportunistically defragments really fragmented files.

Comment: Cool science coming... (Score 5, Interesting) 136

by MetricT (#46029459) Attached to: CERN Antimatter Experiment Produces First Beam of Antihydrogen

http://arxiv.org/abs/1106.0847

One of the most interesting physics papers I've read in recent years. Does away with dark matter by presuming that antimatter has the opposite gravitational sign as matter (which pops out very naturally once you apply CPT to general relativity).

As the electromagnetic force is almost 10^40 times stronger than gravity, it would be virtually impossible to test with anti-protons or positrons. But with electrically neutral anti-hydrogen, it becomes potentially testable.

Comment: Checksumming + sufficient redundancy (Score 1) 321

by MetricT (#45653255) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Practical Bitrot Detection For Backups?

We wrote our own parallel filesystem to handle just that. It stores a checksum of the file in the metadata. We can (optionally) verify the checksum when a file is read, or run a weekly "scrubber" to detect errors.

We also have Reed-Solomon 6+3 redundancy, so fixing bitrot is usually pretty easy.

Comment: Re:Been there. Done that. (Score 3, Insightful) 841

by MetricT (#45636175) Attached to: Employee Morale Is Suffering At the NSA

I made a $3 mistake on my income tax return (Scottrade updated my tax info *after* I'd sent mine in, but they didn't notify me).

The IRS apparently took that as an excuse to torment me for most of a year. I got audit for the above $3 claim, as well as for "falsely claiming that I was due a tax deduction for student loans" (I took some night classes at the local community college). Apparently that $3 claim was justification for a fishing expedition.

First time, I take an entire day off to redo my taxes, discover that I have made a $3 error, cut them a $3 check, and sent them the 1098-T from the college to prove that the other claim is false.

Couple months later, they send me the exact same form. I again take another day off to recompute my taxes (I was correct), and again send them the same 1098-T info that they requested.

Third time, I told that I will be taken to court because I haven't provided the proof required. I take yet *another* day off to go to the local IRS office in Nashville and sit down with a lady to explain that I've already sent the 1098-T form in.

She logs into her computer, turns it toward me, and starts hitting page-down. "We don't have any record that you sent it in." I see it flash by and tap on the screen. "Yes you did, it was just on your screen a second ago." She pages up and stares at it in silence for 2-3 minutes. "Well I just don't understand that."

Great. So now that the IRS knows I've sent it in, we can put this whole misunderstanding behind us, right? "I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do to fix this". My choices were pay it off, send an appeal to the IRS, and hope that suddenly grow a brain after the **4th** time, or go to tax court, lose yet another day's salary, and hope the judge was smarter than the IRS. So I paid.

The IRS's excruciatingly, devastatingly, mind-numbing incompetence cost me roughly $1000 in lost salary for a $3 difference. And the whole collective IRS can go pleasure itself with a saguaro cactus.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen

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