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+ - Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Submitted by PotatoHead
PotatoHead (12771) writes "This is a big win for Open Hardware Proponents! The Parallax Propeller Microcontroller VERILOG code was released today, and it's complete! Everything you need to run Open Code on an Open CPU design.

Get the details here:

This matters because you can now build a device that is open hardware, open code all the way down to the CPU level! Either use a product CPU, and have access to it's source code to understand what and how it does things, or load that CPU onto a suitable FPGA and modify it or combine it with your design."

Comment: Bullshit. The RIAA itself says this is OK. (Score 2) 317

by PotatoHead (#47568153) Attached to: Ford, GM Sued Over Vehicles' Ability To Rip CD Music To Hard Drive

I participated in a forum with Lessig, having my question selected for somebody from RIAA legal to be answered:

What are we buying when we buy entertainment media? Is it a license to view/listen to the product, or is it just a copy of the title that we have limited rights to? That is, do we own the license to view/listen to the content in any format -- or when we buy a CD, are we just purchasing the format of the content?

Matt Oppenheim responds.

(C) [What are we buying when we buy entertainment media?]

When you buy a CD, you should feel free to consume the music. That means you should listen to that disc, and feel free to make a copy of that disc for your own use so that you can have a copy in your home and your office. You should feel free to copy it onto other formats, such as .mp3, so that you can listen to it on your computer. You should feel free to copy it to cassette.

The only time you run into problems is if you begin to distribute your copies to others.

The original event is no longer online. However, it appears to be archived at the forum I just linked. We get to transcode and backup our media, and we've always been able to do that. Of course, the DMCA makes circumvention an issue, but CD's really don't have that problem as they are essentially an open, raw audio format to begin with. In practical terms, they are not much different from tapes.

So we make mix CD's, we back up our masters, so the heat from the car doesn't ruin albums we might not be able to buy again, we transcode for our portable media player, or frankly the media player we made ourselves! Mix CD's to express our love for somebody else? Yeah, doing that is OK too.

What this means is we've always been able to make copies for friends. The answer above from the RIAA actually doesn't state this, and for obvious reasons, but the reality of things is clear. What that answer does state clearly is that we are just fine making a copy for the car. In fact, this is nicer than the backup CD, in that it's not really portable like a backup CD is.

Here's a notable question for you:

Say you archive your CD collection. Then you give the originals away. Ethics would have you get rid of the backups. But the law? No requirement at all. Doing this is shitty, but not something one is going to jail for.

Hope these clowns choke on a dick.

Comment: Reform to how we fund elections is primary (Score 1) 117

by PotatoHead (#47390461) Attached to: Lessig's Mayday PAC Scrambling To Cross Crowd Funding Finish Line

Your term limit issue is secondary, as are many other issues.

Whether or not we have term limits is a matter of reasoned public debate. Right now, we can't have that due to the money in politics problem.

It is unreasonable for you to connect your issue to the core, systemic problem of how elections are funded.

That is perhaps the biggest misconception and hangup people have. This isn't transactional politics. It's not like you get something in return, or trade-offs get made. We do that now, and the money biases it away from the overall best interests of the people.

Really, if we reform money in politics, a fair, reasoned discussion will happen. Or, at least a much better one will happen.

Term limits, and other things get decided then, not now.

This is a single issue effort. It is systemic, not partisan, and not intended to remedy anything other than the basic issue of money in politics.

Comment: Re:Network transparency of X has always impressed (Score 1) 204

by PotatoHead (#47294397) Attached to: X Window System Turns 30 Years Old

Yes. We really need to take a hard look at network transparent displays in the context of what we can really do today as well as the future.

When I did this, 10T networks were common, and just a little slow for something like CAD. 100T networks were growing in popularity, and then we sort of jumped to 1000T.

Also during that time, I started on dialup, moved to DSL, and then more came.

Know what? The fiber connection I have in my home is fast enough to run X with few worries today.

And it's going to improve more. My 4G cell phone can run X too. Amazing!

Honestly, I miss the vision our early innovators had. In a way, the field was more open and people could build without so many legacy ties. The need to incorporate those into the next step is holding people back. Legacy "screen scrapers" should get attention. They are useful, and they do have advantages for application developers.

Network transparent, multi-user, concurrent multi-processor, networked computing is the bar to cross, and if we don't maximize it, we risk losing out on a lot of the potental.

Sad really.

All I know, is I won arguments back then, and I did it on UNIX when the dominant move was to Windows and the PC, and all that distributed software bullshit we face today. Won solid. No fucking contest.

The difference was really understanding how things worked and applying that instead of following the cookie cutter stuff we see being done so often today.

With X, one can distribute or centralize as needed!

Fonts on one machine, window manager on another, application on another, storage on yet another, graphics server on yet another, or even better, how about a few displays, each capable of serving a user?

Or, pile it all on one box somebody can carry with them!

Doesn't matter with X. It's all trade-offs, and this leaves people to structure things how it makes best sense to them. For some, having very strong local compute / storage / graphics / I/O is best. For others, centralizing that pays off the best.

Only X does this. Nothing else does, or has.

The screen scrapers are impressive, but they really aren't multi-user in the sense that X is, and that requires a lot of kludges, system resources, etc... to manage things.

I remember the day I read about X in BYTE. It changed how I viewed computing, and when I got my chance, I went for it whole hog and it paid off very well.

Also IMHO, part of this vision really should be to provide developers with dead simple tools to get things done. It is true that building an efficient network aware application takes some work. SGI, BTW, did educate people. If you developed on IRIX, you got the tools to make it all happen, and you get the education and consulting of a vendor who knew their shit cold.

Today, we don't have that surrounding X, and it's hurting development pretty big.

Back in the 90's, I was doing video conferencing, running things all over the place on lots of machines, melding Linux, IRIX, Windows, etc... together in powerful ways, often using machines secured from a dumpster. No joke.

We've managed to cobble that together again, but it's a far cry from what could have been, and could still be with people thinking this stuff through like it was the first time.

IMHO, the other real problem is as I've stated. We have a whole generation of people doing this stuff now who basically have no clue! They were never introduced to multi-user computing properly, never got to experience X as intended, etc...

When I explain some of this to people, they make comments like, "sounds like Star Trek" and "amazing", "wish I were there..."

Yeah. I was. Many of us here were.

Comment: Re:Network transparency of X has always impressed (Score 1) 204

by PotatoHead (#47281951) Attached to: X Window System Turns 30 Years Old


Did this in the late 90's through early 00's.

That exact scenario. Know what? It kicked some very serious ass. Still to this day we don't really have a software combination quite as potent. Here's the setup:

SGI Origin multiple CPU, lots of RAM, one or more 1000T interfaces. I started the thing on 100T, which was more than acceptable for most users, but I ended up with a lot of users.

ONE COPY of the software, ONE shared data repository, and the software contained data management, revision control, etc...

That machine hosted 30+ users via the X window system. Users could run another SGI, a PC, Linux, whatever they felt like running.

A simple script logged them onto the CAD system, where they could build solid models, make drawings, perform analysis, and many other things.

No user ever touched the data store. It was owned by the account that ran the application (SUID), and no user ever touched the application data either. All remote display.

Admin on this thing was fucking cake. Never had it so good. Still don't. And systems today that either run "cloud" or copy data all over the place are a mess by comparison.

The network model of the X Window System had some very serious advantages. Today we are missing out on a few options in most cases due to the lack of network transparent display capability. That lack is costing us a lot of time and money too. Thing is, nobody actually knows, so it's all A-OK.

At the time this was done, I competed with traditional setups and kicked their ass solid on every single metric. Cost, administration, performance, etc... It wasn't even a contest.

Today, with the networking we have and overall compute power available, it's hard to imagine how freaking good a similar setup would run.

Shop floor, various departments... no worries.

For the odd user at home, X required too much and we didn't have things like NX yet. That was a case for "screen scraping" type tech, to which I just setup a VNC like thing, let them access that over the home network, and life was good.

I could, and did, administer that thing from all over the place, often using one of those "Free JUNO" accounts, just to get a dialup and a few K/sec needed to run a command line or two.


Truth is, the direction we took from those times, the decline of UNIX for this kind of thing, etc... was so much more labor intensive and expensive, I moved on to other things, occasionally consulting and mostly laughing when nobody sees the clusterfuck for what it is.

I agree with you about 4K and some other cases being more optimal without network transparency, but that's not the point. We also have other resource issues associated with those.

The protocol needs to have it all baked in, so that as we gain capability, smart people can apply it and actually get the benefit of it, not some diluted down thing we wish were as good as planned.

X did that. The protocol was there for when things grew, and some of us applied it all, and it rocked hard. A whole lot of us don't get it, and are still slogging around doing so many extra things we don't need to, it's a wonder there are any gains at all.

UNIX + X is multi-user computing. It's the bar, and most of the industry has forgotten what multi-user really means and how it can be used. Their loss.

Comment: Doing it that way has merits! (Score 1) 522

I will, from time to time, fire up my Apple //e and write in AppleWorks for a while. It's kind of awesome. There are not many features, and the simple text display keeps me focused.

The other thing I like is how the interface, the clackety feel of the keyboard, etc... all take me back to an earlier time. When I connect in that way, with that time, what I write will be different in subtle ways.

Good for him.

Comment: LOL It's either God's word or it isn't. Which... (Score 1) 667

by PotatoHead (#46561639) Attached to: Creationists Demand Equal Airtime With 'Cosmos' it?

Let's just cut to the chase. Thomas Paine in "Age Of Reason", which you can read online sorted this all out very nicely: the entire body of our religious works is hearsay.

New Testament, old, whatever. We've got little more than, "somebody says god says...", which isn't jack shit in a court of law, where the big kids actually make the rules.

No wonder it's embarrassing! Really, the most common ugly social issue arguments boil down to "somebody says god says...." and that somebody can be from the Bible, or Pastor Corn Hole Bob, who has it on good authority, or some other garbage.

All of it carries exactly the authority you grant it, and for all of us, it's entirely optional too, meaning none of us really have to care what "somebody says God says."

It's like trying to split the baby. Dig too deep into the problem and it gets really messy. Better to just move on and treat other people the same way you would like to be treated.

Racism, bigotry and theocracy are always wrong. Doesn't matter who says God says whatever. It's just wrong.

There, now we all can get along, New Testament or old, whatever.

And yes, God told me. Really.

Comment: So DON'T WATCH THE GAMES (Score 1) 578

by PotatoHead (#46193013) Attached to: US Cord Cutters Getting Snubbed From NBC's Olympic Coverage Online

Seriously. You can get some coverage OTA. No worries. If that's not compelling, it's not our job to pay NBC more. It's theirs to make the best of the material they signed a deal on.

Seems to me, writing an exclusive means they can deliver. What they are doing is trying to make the most money, not actually delivering the games.

And that's fair, but not my or your problem. And it's up to them to present value to the Olympics. If we don't watch, the games get less relevant, and at the end of the day, NBC didn't deliver.

Besides, the Russian stand on homophobia really doesn't add a lot of value there either. Tons of people aren't going to pay up, but they would watch and support athletes who worked hard to participate.

I'll gladly watch the games and view the ADS they deliver OTA. If they can't do that, they don't have me as a product to sell and I recommend you do the same.

Comment: I've been in this role for a little while now and (Score 1) 249

by PotatoHead (#45857493) Attached to: Do Non-Technical Managers Add Value?

...I am technical by nature have been transitioning to this kind of role because I'm at a place in life where it makes sense to do that. My experiences have been fairly good, and I've a couple of basic observations below:

For the last 5 years, I've moved into pre-sales and from there have been project management for extended periods of time. The interesting thing I found is by NOT getting as technical as the developers / implementers are, my ability to keep them out of trouble, ask the right questions, clear barriers have all been significantly improved. One very significant element of that is securing help or resources for them when needed.

They won't always ask and they won't always know because of how close to whatever it is they are. Being able to see this condition and deal with it early is worth gold and they are often very appreciative. As an analogy, you are driving somewhere and refuse to get directions, running the risk of being late. You think, just another coupla minutes and I'll recognize something... while your co-pilot doesn't experience this and brings up the phone nav system to bail you out, or they call in to get precise directions...

They don't have the "in the bubble" mindset the driver does, and this frees them to consider things on a macro level. All of that results in more efficient project work and a generally happier team.

Another comment above mentioned the type who can bring different skill sets together to get something done. That has high value as well and I have worked on teams where we had that person. Amazing really. I concur.

When it comes down to silly metrics, non-value added kinds of management things, sometimes those need attention and the good managers will deal with those in creative ways while their team gets it done for real. The poor ones will highlight those things cover your ass style.

And that brings me to my last general comment. Those that own the project and back their team take heat and personal risk. They are very highly valued and they contribute with the common goal of everybody seeing success on the effort. Where they insulate themselves from all of that, again cover your ass style, the team remains at risk, while the manager really doesn't, and that mess generally leads to a low value, high resentment, high friction environment nobody wants.

Comment: I have done this successfully. (Score 1) 497

The trick?

Make sure each call you are the Hannibal Lecter of prospects. Just get psycho with them, and work your hardest to place the most morbid, fear inducing, ugly, horrible impressions in their mind you can. Mix it up with near constant pleas to their humanity as you get them to empathize with the poor souls they prey on each day. From time to time, earnest pleas to get them to quit that job while you hold the line for them as they walk out is a nice, often finishing touch.

Do this a few times and mean it and don't break any laws and they will remove you from the dialer of their own free will.

My last call ended with "Oh Fuck! It's you." and that was the last I ever heard from those clowns.

Comment: They are a bit smarter this time too (Score 1) 201

by PotatoHead (#45484107) Attached to: Microsoft Customers Hit With New Wave of Fake Tech Support Calls

I got several calls from the last wave.

I worked them hard, even getting a few of them to admit they are just running a script for easy cash.

This wave is different. My usual "hey, let's fuck with them on the phone" techniques have been accounted for. They hang up much quicker and do not reveal much of anything. Most importantly, they will not entertain basic human conversation easily. It's either advancing the script, or they play dumb hoping you are too and things can proceed anyway, or they are gone.

I damn near got one of them to quit on the spot last wave. Had him on the ropes feeling very shitty about the whole thing. One of these days, I'll get one to go, right then, just leave the phone hanging and walk out.


Comment: Re:Good Engineering Tesla (Score 1) 526

by PotatoHead (#45388717) Attached to: Man In Tesla Model S Fire Explains What Happened

My thoughts too. Seems a reasonable outcome considering a nice hunk of metal came into serious contact with his car.

I like the low battery, maybe do some serious analysis on the armor plate and beef it all up. Or, like you say, move the whole works. Something. The FEA structural software can do amazing things these days. This problem can be engineered away.

Nice outcome for the driver. He got informed and could proceed to take appropriate action.

Gas cars just catch fire and escalate quickly for comparison. I'll bet he does get another one.

Comment: Re:huh? (Score 4, Interesting) 526

by PotatoHead (#45388669) Attached to: Man In Tesla Model S Fire Explains What Happened

Yes. Shit on the road.

All kinds of stuff happens and sometimes you don't have time or options to deal with it. So, it's a drive over and hope. Sucks, but there isn't too much we can do about the problem.

Here's a nice one:

It's a torrential rain kind of night. About 11:00 PM, on a rural highway, two lane, cars regularly passing in opposing lane. My brother in law was driving an old 70's Toyota Corolla. The engine in that thing was great, but the body was crapping out here and there. This was the mid 90's. Toyota has since beefed things up some, but their 70's era cars were awful thin in places. The Corolla was thin in the trunk.

This brother in law saw a few rust patches, but didn't think too much of it having driven some Chevy thing or other before. No worries. Well, he had a nice, big, heavy floor jack in the back of that Corolla because he lost the stock one. Besides, the floor jack could lift one end of the car in a pinch, which made tire rotation quicker. That, and a 4-way lug wrench, various cans of oil, etc... were all in this razor thin, rusted out trunk, just waiting to exit the car, which they did.

When it happened, he was moving about 60, nobody in front, headed to meet the rest of the family. Two or three vehicles were behind him, following close as people in my neck of the woods will often do. Out comes that jack. It probably weighed 25 pounds. He heard the clunk, and it actually wedged in a way that moved the rear of the car some, he saw sparks and then one of the lights behind him went out.

Now he's a dick, and just floored it. All he knows is that way too close tailgater got up close and very personal with that floor jack, and had to pull off the road. Some other cars in the other lane darted about and a few had pulled over that he could see in the rear mirror, while speeding away as quickly as he could.

When he arrived to tell the story, we opened the trunk, and he basically didn't have one anymore. All the stuff was gone, and the metal bits were bent this way and that along the edges. We think the trunk floor just dropped out and onto the road. The news featured the event and he worried about it for years. That jack took the first car right out! Bashed the drivers side light out, pierced the radiator, and ruined the drivers side tire before bouncing into traffic going the other direction where other fun 'n games proceeded to occur where it bounced into another one doing enough damage to the muffler and side panel to be ugly, and ended up pinned under a third where it ground to a stop.

Shit happens.

Probably that thing was not secured and just ended up on the road. So this guy is driving along, somebody changes lanes or something and there it is! He probably didn't have options. If he did, he would have not driven over it, unless it just dropped in such a way that left him no time.

What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do.