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Comment: Re:Oil... (Score 1) 966 966

There is no oil in Bumfuckistan. Only rocks, more rocks, even more rocks, religious nutters and poppy plants.

Erm, does Kazakhstan count as Bumfuckistan? Because if it does, they apparently have "a single field [that] stands ready to produce two-thirds as much oil each day as the entire gulf does". Also according to geologists Afghanistan has "nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits".


When Mistakes Improve Performance 222 222

jd and other readers pointed out BBC coverage of research into "stochastic" CPUs that allow communication errors in order to reap benefits in performance and power usage. "Professor Rakesh Kumar at the University of Illinois has produced research showing that allowing communication errors between microprocessor components and then making the software more robust will actually result in chips that are faster and yet require less power. His argument is that at the current scale, errors in transmission occur anyway and that the efforts of chip manufacturers to hide these to create the illusion of perfect reliability simply introduces a lot of unnecessary expense, demands excessive power, and deoptimises the design. He favors a new architecture, that he calls the 'stochastic processor,' which is designed to handle data corruption and error recovery gracefully. He believes he has shown such a design would work and that it would permit Moore's Law to continue to operate into the foreseeable future. However, this is not the first time someone has tried to fundamentally revolutionize the CPU. The Transputer, the AMULET, the FM8501, the iWARP, and the Crusoe were all supposed to be game-changers but died cold, lonely deaths instead — and those were far closer to design philosophies programmers are currently familiar with. Modern software simply isn't written with the level of reliability the stochastic processor requires (and many software packages are too big and too complex to port), and the volume of available software frequently makes or breaks new designs. Will this be 'interesting but dead-end' research, or will Professor Kumar pull off a CPU architectural revolution really not seen since the microprocessor was designed?"

Comment: Has existed since '05 (Score 4, Interesting) 145 145

Google has been answering simple questions since 2005. It was the first 20% time project a friend of mine worked on when he joined the company. I remember that if you asked it "where in the world is Carmen Sandiego" it inexplicably said "Cairo, Egypt". Here's a screen cap showing exactly that from 2005:

I remember Slashdot had an article about this back then and there's was a google blog or press release, but I can't find either. Anyone remember what this feature was called or have a link?

Comment: Re:How it works (Score 3, Informative) 273 273

Thanks for the link. That press release is surprisingly technical makes it clear that this has nothing to do with a successor to the MPEG4 codec / container format. It relates to:

*2) MPEG-7 Video signature tools:
This is an amendment to MPEG-7 Visual, a standard for content description interface for multimedia content that has been established as an international standard for identification technology of video content, as ISO/IEC 15938-3/Amd.4.

There currently exist handful of different techniques for creating small signatures (76 bytes in this case) of a video frame. Content companies create sequences of signatures for all their videos and distribute the sequences. Youtube can then create a sequence of signatures for an uploaded file, compare it against all known sequences, and then do whatever with that knowledge.

The MPEG group is just standardizing on one particular technique for creating the signatures, distributing them, and comparing them. In that case this is something sensable for the MPEG group to do, and isn't really good or evil.

Comment: Re:Man. (Score 2, Insightful) 565 565

1. There was a constant inspection regime paid for entirely by the industry. In other words, there is an armed government official with absolute power to stop drilling, and his salary paid entirely by whoever owns the well and the platform.

So similar to the Mine Safety and Health Administration? Or how about the SEC? We've seen how well those have worked out. Any time you have a small regulatory body working in a single industry you end up with conflicts of interest. Industry players come into the agency to control it, ex-agency employs go to industry to show how to game it, and lots of expensive dinners all around.

2. All caps on liability were removed and the owners of the well and platform were forced to pay all costs of a spills, without limit of any kind.
3. Any evidence of ignoring of safety requirements would lead to lengthy prison sentences for all involved, and a ban on the companies involved in the accident of no less than five years from any extraction.

Both of those amount to "bankrupt any company that has an incident". Remember that for 2) "pay all costs, without limit" actually means "pay all costs until the company goes bankrupt". While that might sound great to you in theory, in practice it's a terrible idea. Take a look at Arthur Anderson - exactly what you describe happened to them after Enron. Did 85,000 employees that had absolutely nothing to do with Enron deserve to have their lives thrown into chaos as the company imploded? Also bankrupting BP wouldn't really do anything structurally - the other big oil companies (Shell, Exxon, etc) would just pick up the pieces and everything would go on as if nothing happened.

The only thing I agree with you on is the need for criminal action against directors. Far too often companies see regulatory fines (and appeals to avoid them) as simply part of the cost of doing business, as is blatantly obvious in the case of Massey's WV mining operation. Start threatening criminal action against supervisors for repeat offenses and they'll suddenly have a real incentive to implement real protocols.

Comment: Re:It's not that big of deal (Score 1) 334 334

Frankly, even equally worrisome is that Matlab doesn't appear to take advantage of GPGPU yet. The concept has been around for over half a decade, and I'd have expected the MAtrix LABoratory to jump on the bandwagon quicker than most. It's a game changer in their core competency, after all.

I guess it depends on the exact question you're asking. A google search for "matlab gpgpu" shows that there are lots of ways to take advantage of GPGPU (NVidia's CUDA specifically) from within Matlab.
MATLAB plug-in for CUDA

However AFAIK there's no plan for native support of GPGPU within Matlab. It's kind of ridiculous that there's not considering the 10x speedup frequently reported by using the above tools.

Comment: Re:evidence (Score 1) 1204 1204

They seized various forms of ID: business cards, an Amex card, check stubs, etc. That way someone can't claim after the fact that they never lived at a particular location and so none of the seized stuff is theirs.

Obviously in this case he's not going to want the computers back so will say they are his, but it makes sense as part of standard operating procedure for warrants. I'm sure there have been more than one case where a defendant has tried to get evidence (drugs, computers, records, whatever) thrown out claiming they never were at the location it was seized from.

Comment: Re:What's the point? (Score 1) 853 853

I'm amazed at how many people want to shoot anyone that's ever lost a portable device before. No matter what safeguards you have in place, no matter how perfect your employees are, portable devices *will* get lost. It's simply a fact of life.

Once you accept that devices will be lost it becomes a question of how do you handle the losses that will happen. Apple had clearly thought about this and the phone was remote-wiped overnight. I'm also sure this is not the first prototype phone to be lost. It just happens to be the first one that got sold to a blog.

When an accountant leaves a laptop full of SSN numbers lying around I don't blame him. I blame the IT guy that allowed a laptop full of SSN numbers out of the building unencrypted. Full-disk encryption's not that hard to setup and makes losing the laptop essentially a non-issue.

Comment: Re:from the article (Score 1, Interesting) 301 301

Do you have a reference to the fact that the battery needs to run at 350C? It seems a bit impractical to heat a house-sized building that much, especially when you have lost power.

The main advantage of a battery over a generator is that you can switch power over to it in a matter of seconds. I'm guessing a 4MW generator would take a couple of minutes, maybe 10s of minutes, to spin up to capacity.

Comment: Game of telephone (Score 5, Informative) 301 301

It's amazing the game of telephone that happens when blogs steal news stories from blogs that steal news stories from blogs.

Inhabitat: "Electric Transmission Texas ponied up $25 million to build the battery, and will add $60 million to build a second transmission line by 2012."

PopSci: "Electric Transmission Texas helped put the battery project together for around $25 million. But the utility has also agreed to build a second 60-mile transmission line to Presidio for about $44 million by 2012."

NPR: "The other solution for this town would be to build a second line, and that line would cost somewhere in the range of $40 to $50 million. And so a battery project in the $25 million range looks pretty attractive."

They all agree the battery costs $25mill, 2/3 agree that the 2nd transmission line will be built in 2012, and none of them agree on the price of the 2nd line.


Gnome 2.30 Released 138 138

Hypoon writes "The GNOME project is proud to release this new version of the GNOME desktop environment and developer platform. Among the hundreds of bug fixes and user-requested improvements, GNOME 2.30 has several highly visible changes: new features for advanced file management, better remote desktop experience, easier notes synchronization and a generally smoother user experience. Learn more about GNOME 2.30 through the detailed release notes and the press release."

NVIDIA Shows Off "Optimus" Switchable Graphics For Notebooks 102 102

Vigile writes "Transformers jokes aside, NVIDIA's newest technology offering hopes to radically change the way notebook computers are built and how customers use them. The promise of both extended battery life and high performance mobile computing has seemed like a pipe dream, and even the most recent updates to 'switchable graphics' left much to be desired in terms of the user experience. Having both an integrated and discrete graphics chip in your notebook does little good if you never switch between the two. Optimus allows the system to seamlessly and instantly change between IGP and discrete NVIDIA GPUs based on the task being run, including games, GPU encoding or Flash video playback. Using new software and hardware technology, notebooks using Optimus can power on and pass control to the GPU in a matter of 300ms and power both the GPU and PCIe lanes completely off when not in use. This can be done without being forced to reboot or even close out your applications, making it a hands-free solution for the customer."

Comment: Re:No, It's a $1M pool for the top 442 developers (Score 2, Interesting) 91 91

Woah, that's huge. According to billshrink's comparison there are only 300 apps currently for the Pre. The lack of apps was the #1 reason I haven't bought a Pre yet.

This should let them easily get 10x the number of current apps for a relatively cheap price. Also since there are so few apps to start with it should be fairly easy for any descent app to at least get the $1k prize.

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"