Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Note: You can take 10% off all Slashdot Deals with coupon code "slashdot10off." ×

Comment Re:What's the real problem? (Score 1) 194

It's not a question of open vs proprietary, it's a question of buying support from the right people. If you're running code that wasn't developed in house, then you probably don't want to be supporting it in house either. You want an SLA with penalty clauses with someone who will fix it when it breaks. If it's open source, that just means that you have more options in terms of who will support it if the level of support that you want involves fixing bugs and adding features.

Comment Re:Comparison? (Score 1) 252

I was going to comment that I'd expect some variation depending on the quality of the venue, but then I looked at the list. Most of the places that they looked at are top-tier publications, so it's pretty depressing. That said, they are focussing on the wrong aspect of reproducibility. The real metric should be, given the paper, can someone else recreate your work. And I suspect that even more papers fail on that. At the ASPLOS panel discussion this year, there was a proposal that PhD students should spend their first year reproducing some published result. We often do something similar for undergraduate projects (take an idea from a paper, reimplement it, see if your results support their claim).

Comment Re:That's gonna be a nope (Score 1) 131

There's an increasing amount of good open source software on Android that can replace the Google crap. I'm now using:
  • OSMAnd, which is actually the reason that I'm still using Android. Best mobile maps app (Nokia's Here is better for driving, but not for walking): offline vector maps that are small enough that you can fit a few entire countries on the phone, offline routing, and so on. The version on the Play store is not as good. I used to use the free version on Play, but actually donated $10 to them after discovering the F-Droid version.
  • K9 Mail is a pretty reasonable mail client.
  • Standalone Calendar is a fork of the AOSP calendar (now replaced by the Google Calendar app on most devices). The UI is not great, but I've not found any mobile calendar app that is. I mostly just use the Calendar Widget on my home screen to look at upcoming events and DAVDroid to sync with my CalDAV / CardDAV server (which also syncs with my laptop).
  • Open Camera is definitely a geek's calendar app: far more configurable settings than the stock one, but the UI isn't quite as polished.
  • KQSMS provides a nicer interface to SMS. For backups, SMS Backup+ will sync SMS with an IMAP server.
  • AnySoftKeyboard provides a configurable set of keyboard layouts and, unlike the Google version, doesn't appear to be spyware.
  • Firefox on Android is actually pretty nice, and the addition of the Self Destructing Cookies addon makes it a lot nicer than any other Android browser I've tried (cookies are automatically deleted when you navigate away from a page, tracking cookies are deleted periodically while on the page. There's an undo button if you realised that you actually wanted them for one site, and and you can then whitelist just those ones).

I'd love to have a company adopt some of these, polish the UI a bit, and provide an Android phone that ships with them by default, instead of the Google stuff.

Comment Re:is the problem not ADOBE FLASH? (Score 1) 236

It's not just that they're complex. The code for decoding them is also not usually with security in mind. Remember that libjpeg was written in an era when a 486 was a high-end machine and all three sites on the web that contained images were pretty trustworthy. It needed to be able to decode and display the image in a limited amount of RAM, on a slow CPU, without the user complaining about the time it took (and it didn't - it was slow, and we complained). Modern CPUs are fast enough that even an interpreted JavaScript PNG or JPEG decoder is fast enough, but video decoding (unless offloaded to an accelerator) is still pretty CPU-intensive, so now video decoders are written with performance as the overriding goal and security a distant second. Doing proper bounds checks costs cycles (and, worse, often breaks autovectorisation), so gets overlooked.

Comment Re:So then the question becomes (Score 3, Informative) 441

Even without that, it's a good scam. You ask people for money to guarantee something that will happen to some of them anyway. Imagine that the odds are 5%. You get 100 people to pay you the $250. 5 of them are lucky, so you keep $1,250. You refund the other $23,750 (after earning interest on it for a year, say $475 at a conservative 2% interest rate). Now you've made $1,725, for doing precisely nothing.

Comment Re:3 GHz, HDTV, human hands, and Secure Boot (Score 1) 193

CPU speed hasn't improved much since the 3 GHz wall

Clock speeds haven't improved much, but instructions per clock (as well as work per instruction) has increased quite a lot. Compare benchmarks of a 3GHz P4 and a 3GHz turbo-bosted i7 on a single-threaded workload and you'll see a huge difference, and that's ignoring that core counts have been going up.

PC monitor resolutions have flattened out with the economies of scale of 1366x768 and 1920x1080 panels

The 4K display on my desk, which cost about £200, on my desk says otherwise, as does the 15" 2880x1800 panel in my laptop and the 10" 1920x1080 in my oldish tablet (the manufacturer's newer model has a higher resolution).

And the form factor for a PC with a preinstalled multi-window OS hasn't changed much because adult human hands haven't changed much

My current laptop is about half the thickness and a lot lighter than the one that I bought from the same manufacturer, with the same market segment about 6 years ago.

Comment Re:Problem with the solution? (Score 3, Interesting) 193

United has started to roll out something like this (they keep telling me about it, while apologising for the fact that it isn't yet in the planes that I happen to be in at the time), where you can stream the video content to your laptop / tablet / phone, rather than watch on the crappy screen on the back of the seat. It's not terrible well thought through, because they don't provide a little slot on the back of the seat to hold the tablet for you, so you have to balance it on the tray table, which they then put food on. I don't know how much they pay for the in-flight entertainment now, but I bet Netflix could undercut them (especially if they provided a limited catalogue to everyone and a less limited catalogue to their customers. One interesting option would be for Netflix customers to indicate their flight number and select things to be cached before boarding, while the plane is at the gate).

Comment Re:Judging by the story so far... (Score 1) 367

I'm sure there were a bunch of students genuinely doing research from the profiles' info

Unless you mean that in the sense of 'research, heh, nudge-nudge-wink-wink, say no more', I'd be very surprised. Any ethics committee that approves such an experiment would be seriously derelict in their duty (anonymity and informed consent? What are they?).

Comment Re:Judging by the story so far... (Score 2) 367

I see this defence a lot, but doesn't make sense. There are other sites aimed at swingers, Ashley Madison was specifically for people who wanted to cheat (i.e. have extramarital sex without their spouse's consent) and for people who wanted to help them do so. I can't speak with great experience of swingers, having only known a couple, but from my experience they were respectful of other people's relationships (even if they found a desire for monogamy quite difficult to understand) and were only interested in dully consensual activities (which, if someone is in a relationship, includes the consent of their partner[s]).

Comment Re:I don't see the problem (Score 1) 98

Well that just goes contrary to my understanding of what the main CPU is supposed to do, crunch data, and as much of it efficiently as possible in the smallest package available

Why? Especially in a desktop package, space isn't a constraint. Die area is cheap, heat dissipation is expensive. Your choices are either add some rarely-used coprocessors in the available space, or don't use the space. The cost is the same in both cases.

Specialized hardware that's rarely used (relatively speaking) should resides outside of it via PCIe bus assuming latency and bandwidth considerations are met

Latency is one big issue. Another is power. Off-chip communication is slow and very power intensive. The ARM GPUs, for example, compute a hash of each tile before writing it off to the frame buffer, and if the hash is the same as the last time then they don't write it. That extra computation, which only saves a fraction of the total writes is still a net win for power.

I find it slightly ironic that you use SIMD as a counter example. SIMD is precisely the kind of thing that I'm talking about: something that's a big win for some workloads and can be powered off most of the time.

Comment Re:I don't see the problem (Score 1) 98

I have two words for you: Dark silicon.

Since the end of Dennard scaling, the transistor budget for new chips has kept increasing, but the powered transistor budget has not (or, at least, at a much lower rate). More L1 or L2 that needs to be powered all of the time is not easily affordable, but something that only runs when most of the rest of the chip is powered down is basically free (especially something as small as a DSP for voice). Expect to see a lot more of this kind of thing: features that give a big speedup or power saving when in use, but are not in use most of the time, are increasingly attractive additions to modern CPUs.

To be or not to be, that is the bottom line.