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Comment Can't drive to Florida in an electric car (Score 1) 556 556

Now, MAYBE, we'll have rapid-charging technology and much more energy-dense batteries soon enough. But currently, I (living in New York) would be unable to drive to visit my parents in Florida in an electric car.

I'm not the only one with the problem. Ground-based shipping is what will keep the petrol stations alive, at least along the highways, at least for diesel. Does this mean that in the US, people are going to be forced to buy diesel cars to drive long distances?

Comment The statement about clear social instructions (Score 3, Interesting) 36 36

I had trouble with my social development as a child. Some of it's clearly genetic. My father isn't completely socially incapable (although he did benefit from 1950's parenting methods and two older sisters who were not socially handicapped in any way), but he shows signs of high-functioning autism. But it isn't just that. My father shows signs of having at least mild narcissistic disorder, and my mother is unmistakably borderline. (Not sure what my father's excuse is, but my mother was the victim of child abuse, and her parents were much worse than mine.) So my parents didn't do a good job of teaching me social skills. Mostly, I just got into trouble for things I just didn't understand. Even after I developed empathy in around the 8th grade, I didn't know how to use it, and there was nobody I could talk to who was insightful enough to help me figure it out.

But then when I was in my 20's, away from my parents, and perhaps having outgrown some of the innate problems, I encountered co-workers who had the patience to explain to me my social mistakes without all the "what the fuck is the matter with you" kind of reaction. Instead, they explained to me clearly and calmly (albeit with concern in their mannerisms) what I did, what it meant, and how people perceived it. I was receptive, and they were willing to help, and this lead to a rapid growth in my social ability through my 20's.

What I've learned to do is PAY ATTENTION. I know that I have a disconnect, so I have developed a conscious habit of opening my eyes and just listening to and watching what's going on and associating people's emotional reactions (which I can read) with the social circumstances that lead to them. I'm also a bit of a goofball, which I have learned to leverage. So I smile, make jokes, and get people to talk about themselves, and people now find me to be rather charming.

It's been a long road getting from there to here. :)

Comment No child gets ahead either (Score 2) 132 132

I have very limited experience with the local public schools in upstate New York, but I get the distinct impression that teachers mostly operate under the assumption that all kids are as dumb as the dumbest kids. I have a PhD in computer engineering, and my wife has two graduate degrees herself (law, information science). We were also in gifted classes in high school, and she was the valedictorian of her school. We're told we're smart, and it seems likely that our kids are pretty smart too. But it's hard for me to see where the curricula here accomodate any kind of range of intelligence among the students. When I try to ask about this sort of thing, there's this subtle resistance where you can tell they're thinking that all parents think their kids are the smartest, but really they're all just dumb as rocks, so the idea of anyone getting ahead makes no sense.

I hope I'm misinterpreting all of this.

Comment Re:This is not some nefarious plot (Score 1) 114 114

I don't see the difference. You can whitelist for optiizations that work for specific apps that don't work as well for others.

Also consider this: By now, AMD engineers are fully aware of the fact that by doing blacklisting or whitelisting, people will interpret it negatively. They don't need the bad press over having done something inappropriate. So if they're doing it ANYWAY, either there's a solid financial reason, or there's a solid engineering reason. I haven't bought an AMD CPU in more than 10 years, and I have AMD GPUs by accident in laptops, so I'm not an AMD fanboi. However, knowing what I know about GPUs, GPU drivers, and what both Nvidia and AMD do, I'm going to go with "engineering reasons" on this one.

Note: I designed a graphics accelerator that sits in every air traffic control display system around the US. I've also been an expert witness for patent lawsuits in both graphics and chip design. I can tell you from all angles, that the engineers care primarly about meeting their deadlines. They do things right and make mistakes on that basis. They also care about correctness over performance.

Comment Futile search? (Score 5, Insightful) 208 208

My understanding has been that we should expect a civilization to use radio broadcasts that radiate out and which we can distinguish from noise for only maybe 100 or so years. Prior to that, they've not invented radio. After some point, all transmissions are compressed and/or encrypted so that they're harder to distingush from noise. And at some point, transmissions may be done via other media, such as point-to-point lasers and even things we haven't discovered yet. The likelihood is that all over civilizations have started at different points and progressed differently, so we've likely missed that window on all other civilizations.

Comment This is not some nefarious plot (Score 3, Insightful) 114 114

AMD and Nvidia are constantly dealing with bugs and pecularities in specific games and apps. I've seen examples where some unexpected or unusual drawing configuration made an Nvidia GPU totally make a mess on the screen. The solution, to achieve correctness, was to do something relatively slow. This kind of thing can be caused by hardware bugs. And it can be caused by hardware LIMITATIONS. For instance, say the hardware only has 8 bits of fractional precision and 16 bits of integer precision. It is possible for an app to try to draw something that runs into limits of those precisions, making two triangles not abut in the way that they should. This is commonly caused by having a triangle with a vertex WAY off the screen, so the software has to clip it, but clipping it requires subpixel precision that the hardware can't do.

Now, sure, some of these could be cases of "we could fix it properly, but it's just easier to select a slow rendering algorithm to get it right." And yes, if some company paid more, maybe they could get the proper solution sooner. But keep in mind that they're running into release cycle issues here. The driver is DONE, except for this list of 3 apps that don't work right. Do we spend an extra 3 months finding clever solutions? Or do we release right now something that benefits all other applications? The latter is more sensible. Those corner cases can be fixed in the next few releases.

In general, these problems are caused by applications doing something WEIRD. Not necessarily wrong, but definitely something unexpected that no other app does. And all the corner case apps do different weird things. Tracking it all down and making them ALL work both correctly and fast is HARD.

Comment Red Barn (Score 1) 150 150

Got two Ivy Bridge dual-socket 12-core Xeon boxes a couple of years ago. I called up Red Barn. They helped me figure out what hardware would give me more bang for my buck (two dual-socket Ivy Bridge blades got me more cores than one Sandy Bridge with four sockets), built it up for me, installed the OS, and delivered it. Smooth as butter. IIRC, the whole deal cost me around $24000, for one compute/server node and one compute node. For $50K, if prices have scaled similarly to Haswell Xeons by now, you'd probably get that and another three compute notes. (Also, you'd probably get more cores -- IIRC, at one point we were expecting like 15-core Haswell Xeons to come out, but I haven't kept track.)

Comment Higher prices for more discomfort (Score 1) 394 394

Hey, if they really want to fit more people, why don't they...

- Shrink the already narrow widths of the seats to fit four on each side of the aisle. (Anyone slightly larger than average has to buy two seats.)
- Take out the seats and just make everyone stand.
- Replace the seats with shelves only about 1 foot apart that everyone has to slide into.
- Cram passengers into small boxes.

There are lots of very uncomfortable ways we can cram people into, next to smelly other passengers on the plane.

While I'm at it, I feel like ranting about how rude people are on planes. Small children don't bother me. That's not intentional or neglegent. The alternative is to drug toddlers, which I would never sanction. However, people do weird stuff:

- I've been next to people who smelled like they had done lawn work, not showered, and then got on the plane.
- I've been next to people who just could not sit still, so every time I would just doze off, they would wake me up.
- Some people insist on bringing strong-smelling food onto the plane and then eating it sloppily. Those smells can turn my stomach.

You know how broccoli, when cooked beyond a certain point emits hydrogen sulfide? One time, this one women brought on some food she'd gotten on the airport that apparently had breaded and deep-fried broccoli. For the first half hour, everyone near us in the back was trying to figure out how to get the bathroom door to close better. Until we realized that it was HER FOOD that smelled like farts. When we figured it out and people started looking at her, she was all indignant about it.

If you're going to join a large number of people in a confined space for four hours, could you please not be a self-centered asshole about it?

Comment Re:Sioux City Iowa (Score 1) 264 264

Not every state is Iowa. There are lots of reasonably big cities throughout the midwest.

Columbus, OH
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Detroit, MI
Indianapolis, IN
Minneapolis, MN

These are just some that pop into my head. But then, you're an AC, so you don't really care about a real answer.

Comment Salaries meaningless unlocalized (Score 1) 264 264

If you're in Silicon Valey or New York City, you basically can't survive without a salary over $100K. On the other hand, if you live, for example, in Ohio or anywhere in Michigan other than Troy or Detroit, you can so better on half that.

So what we really care to know is what are the salaries prorated for the local cost of living?

Comment Post modern Christian blog, Of Dust and Kings (Score 1) 203 203

"Of Dust and Kings":

Now, most slashdotters are atheists, and I'm not going to debate about that one way or the other. I honestly have no concern what you believe, because I think there's a kernel of truth in all religions and non-religions (including humanism, satanism (whcih is another form of humanism), etc.). However, even if you are an atheist, you still have a sense of morality, and it is possible to get some inspiration from Christian tradition, as long as you don't get enmired in some kind of legalism. Although I think most Christian tradition is a bunch of hooey, I really like the *core principle* of Christianity, which is a religion of forgiveness. To everyone, we can apply this idea of "forgive those who realize they've wronged other people and wish to change their ways for the better." (There are other things about Christianity that I like, and even Dawkins will admit that Christianity is relatively benign.)

The author of this blog (T. E. Hanna) is a Christian (a Methodist minister, actually), but he's also a post-modernist, meaning that he rejects traditions that are out-dated, don't make sense, go counter to evidence, etc., and his perspective on God isn't some man in the sky with a white beard who hands down nonsensical rules. For instance, he's not a creationist, he's not a homophobe, and he believes in total equality of the sexes (mutual submission of partners rather than submission of the wife to the husband in some stupid way).

I've had personal conversations with this guy. I can't tell you just how annoying it is to try to have a discussion with so many Christians who have a narrow interpretion of their scriptures and want to force those beliefs on others. By contrast, all of my discussions with Thomas Hanna have been enjoyable and enlightening. He's all about philosophy, insight, intellectual discourse, and having an open mind. Any aspect of Christianity you learn from him is going to come from him being insightful and settng a good example.

So, even if you don't care much for Christianity, or many of the issues don't seem relevant to you, his blog is still a really interesting read. Here's what I would call an "expert on Christianity and other important moral concerns," and I have read his blog.

Comment Threw away the wrong phone (Score 1) 377 377

Well, one time, I had a problem with my land line, and I erroneously accused the wrong phone and threw that one out instead of the one that was causing the problem. Then I ended up throwing away two phones.

Since then I've solved the problem more generally by not having a land line anymore.

Comment Gorillas aren't so bad (Score 4, Insightful) 352 352

I'm not going to downplay the feeling of insult that the black couple experienced. There is a long history of racism against blacks, referring to them as apes and other things, with the intent of putting them down. In *this* case, it was an accident of a flawed algorithm, but there's some history here that makes that a hot button. For the sake of repairing the effects of racism of the past, we should be careful about how we use racial slurs, even accidentally.

That all being said, we're learning more and more about gorillas and other higher apes and how intelligent they are. We're closely related. To an alien from another planet, they may look at humans and other apes and not perceive much difference. To compare humans (in general) to apes (in general) isn't all that unreasonable. And some day, when all this racism shit is behind us, mistakes like what happened here might be merely amusing.

Comment Winchester drives designed for no testing (Score 1) 297 297

A mechanical hard drive is, well, a mechanical device, which can fail at any time due to vibration, wear, weak parts, and lots of other reasons. They're ticking time bombs. That being said, as with other mechanical devices, like cars, they are appropriately over-designed with wide tolerances. With cars, you get several years of warranty to have the weak parts replaced so that by the end of that period, it ought to be in good shape. Testing a hard drive is a time-consuming and expensive procedure, which is why only the enterprise drives get any factory testing. The rest just ship. To keep down the failure rate, drives are built with all kinds of mechanisms to compensate for variation. For instance, there are vibration sensors, and the firmware will slow down the spindle and read/write arm movements to ensure that the drive works *correctly* even if some have degraded performance. It is this approach that keeps hard drive prices low. While the failures are unfortunate, an alternative would increase prices for everyone, and the smart ones among us put new drives through burn-in testing anyhow. When I buy a laptop, I cross my fingers that the drive has been through some OEM testing. When I build a server, I do burn-in and use RAID.

If money can't buy happiness, I guess you'll just have to rent it.