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Comment: Hmmm. (Score 0) 59

by jd (#47921793) Attached to: Astronomers Find Star-Within-a-Star, 40 Years After First Theorized

If Kip Thorne can win a year's worth of Playboys for his bet that Cygnus X1 was a Black Hole, when current theory from Professor Hawking says Black Holes don't really exist, then can Professor Thorne please give me a year's subscription to the porno of my choice due to the non-existent bet that this wasn't such a star?

Comment: Also, what does it actually prevent? (Score 1) 580

by Sycraft-fu (#47902441) Attached to: High School Student Builds Gun That Unlocks With Your Fingerprint

You can to think about that. So it doesn't prevent gun suicides. The fact aside that someone can commit suicide with something else, the person doing it would be an authorized user of the gun. So no help there.

It doesn't prevent gun homicides. Again, these are done by authorized users of the gun, or people who have time to modify the gun. Remember for all the clever electronics, in the end guns are mechanical devices. So ultimately the electronics have to be something that mechanically disables the gun like a standard mechanical safety. A trigger disconnect, a firing pin block, that kind of thing. Ya well those are dead simple to bypass. So no help for stolen guns, the criminals would just remove the safety.

It doesn't prevent accidental shooting by any authorized user of the gun. Since they are authorized, it will fire. So any drunken games, etc, are still just as dangerous as they were before.

Already here we have, by far, most of the shootings that happen.

It may not prevent shooting where a gun is taken away from someone. Depends on how it works. If it has some way of reading the fingerprint when the trigger is depressed, then ok it could work. However if it works like a safety where you disengage it when you grab the gun, it'll still be disengaged if someone takes it away.

It would prevent accidental shootings where an unauthorized user gets their hands on the gun, like a kid coming across it.

Ok well, that doesn't seem very useful to me. The correct answer to the problem of kids is to lock up your guns. That is much more secure, particularly since something like this would only be effective if you didn't authorize you kids to use it, or remembered to remove their authorization when they were done at the range. Having them secured in a safe fixes the problem nicely. Likewise, that provides pretty good protection against theft.

So I really don't see what this will solve, and it will make things more expensive and complicated. It just doesn't strike me as very useful.

Comment: It also buys you (Score 3) 245

by Sycraft-fu (#47894931) Attached to: City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros

Maybe 6-10 hours of staff time. What I mean is you have to factor what your people cost you. If someone costs $50/hour when you count in salary + ERE (meaning payroll tax, benefits, insurance and all other expenses) then 6 hours of their time costs $300. So, if your transition wastes more than 6 hours of their time, it is a net loss.

You always have to keep that cost in mind when you talk about anything: What does it cost your employees to do? This is the same deal with old hardware. It can actually cost you more money, because it takes more IT time to support. Like if you have an IT guy whose salary + ERE is $30/hour and you have them spend 20 hours a year repairing and maintaining an old P4 system that keeps failing, well that is a huge waste as that $600 could have easily bought a new system that would work better and take up little, if any, of their time.

That is a reason commercial software wins out in some cases. It isn't that you cannot do something without it, just that it saves more staff time than it costs. That's why places will pay for things like iDRAC or other lights-out management, remote KVMs, and so on. They cost a lot but the time they save in maintenance can easily exceed their cost.

Just remember that unless employees are paid very poorly, $300 isn't a lot of time. So you want to analyze how much time your new system will cost (all new systems will cost some time in transition if nothing else) and make sure it is worth it.

Comment: If you think Linux doesn't have tech support costs (Score 2, Insightful) 245

by Sycraft-fu (#47894901) Attached to: City of Turin To Switch From Windows To Linux and Save 6M Euros

Then you've never worked in an enterprise environment that uses it. You'll have a ton of tech support and maintenance costs with Linux. You not only have all the regular user shit, people who can't figure out how to use their computer, administrative stuff, etc. However I've also observed that a good bit of the stuff in Linux requires a lot of sysadmin work, scripting and such. We do Linux and Windows in our environment and we certainly make Linux work on a large enterprise scale, but our Linux lead spends an awful lot of time messing with puppet, shell scripts, and so on to make it all happen. A lot more than we spend with AD and group policy to make similar things happen in Windows.

Licensing savings are certainly something you can talk about savings for, however you aren't getting out of support and maintenance. That is just part of running an enterprise. The question is what would their costs be, compared to Windows? that is likely to vary per environment.

Comment: Ya well (Score 3, Insightful) 211

If you aren't a known developer, people want to see some evidence that you have the ability to make good on your plans. Game development isn't simple, and many people are not prepared for what they are going to have to do to bring a successful game to market.

So Doublefine or inXile can get a good bit of funding with nothing but a design doc for a game because people have faith they'll be able to deliver since they are experienced game devs. New crews are going to have to show something to get people to trust them.

Particularly in light of past KS failures in that regard. I've backed a number of games on KS and two of them I knew were fairly high risk: They were being done by an individual who hadn't done a game before, and there wasn't any sort of demo up front, just some basic concepts. I decided to take a risk on it, but fully understood that failure was likely.

Sure enough, both are floundering/failing. One hasn't had any updates in months, the other does update periodically but it is still extremely rudimentary, despite being way past the planned launch date, and it is pretty clear the dev just doesn't have a good idea how to proceed from here.

On the flip side, the games by established studios have either delivered or are well on track (Shadowrun Returns was brilliant, Wasteland 2 ships next Friday, Pillars of Eternity is in beta, etc). Likewise the indy titles that had a demo and were a good bit along with development have delivered, like FTL.

So no surprise many people aren't willing to take the risk. They want a better chance of return so they stick with established devs or with things that have some proof.

Comment: Re:When can we stop selling party balloons (Score 1) 296

by Rei (#47883153) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Helium exists in the atmosphere not because of the helium reserve, but because the planet constantly outgasses it. It's a product of the radioactive decay chains within the planet.

And if it costs $7 a liter, you better believe people will consume it a *lot* slower. Mainly recapture, but also less frivolous usage.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 530

by Rei (#47880779) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

It's an important difference.

Fox News is a right-wing punditry operation. They spin everything that happens in a light that promotes the viewpoints of US right-wing policy. If right-wingers are in power, they spin to the government's favor, and otherwise spin against the government.

RT is a literal government propaganda outlet. They have a story of what they want to tell people happened (regardless of whether it did or not), and tell people that it happened, to the point of routinely hiring actors as interview subjects. (side note: the Russia media really needs to get a larger acting pool, though... it's funny but sad when the same actor claims to be several different people for different stations in the same week).

If you see something inflamatory claimed on Fox, it's almost certainly spun. Possibly outright false, but unlikely - generally just highly spun. If you see something inflammatory claimed on RT, it's almost certainly false. Possibly just heavily spun, but generally willfully outright false.

Example: Fox News will pick random true stories from around the country, overplay them, and tell you that there's a War on Christmas. RT will hire a woman to play a refugee from Slavyansk to weepingly tell you that the Ukranian army is crucifying children in the town square to torture their mothers before killing them.

Comment: Re:RT.com? (Score 1) 530

by Rei (#47880593) Attached to: Cuba Calculates Cost of 54yr US Embargo At $1.1 Trillion

Well, I have to say, I've noticed something about Russia, and also about most (but not all) of the other former USSR states: the exact same sort of thing has kept happening under capitalism. Things like injecting a mother of a dead soldier with a tranquilizer on-camera when she spoke up during a press conference on the Kursk disaster, assassinating dissidents with polonium, arresting and outright assassinating journalists, sham trials to sieze assets either for the state or for Putin allies, heavy media censorship and the requirement for all major blogs to register as media outlets, elections so rigged that Chechnya went 99.59% for "The Butcher of Grozny", and on and on. It's no different today.

So, basically, the presence of these things says nothing about communism; it says that Russia has a history of strongmen leaders who confiscate peoples' belongings, outlaw dissent, condemn people without fair trials, and so forth. And when you look at these third world communist states, you usually find that their third world capitalist brethren rarely behave any better.

I think that communism, at least in its pure form, is terrible as economic policy. But one can easily run the risk of over-conflating.

Comment: Re:Sounds stupid. (Score 1) 296

by jd (#47877989) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

I've a very good idea that RAM prices are artificially inflated, that the fab plants are poorly managed, that the overheads are unnecessarily high because of laziness and the mentality in the regions producing RAM.

I'm absolutely certain that 15nm-scale RAM on sticks the same size as sticks used today would cost not one penny more but would have a capacity greater than I've outlined.

It could be done tomorrow. The tools all exist since the scale is already used. The silicon wafers are good enough, if they can manage chips 4x and 9x the size of a current memory chip with next to zero discards, then creating the far smaller dies (so you can discard more chips and still get the same absolute yield) is not an issue. It would reduce idle time for fabs, as fabs are currently run semi-idled to avoid the feast/famine cycle of prior years but 15nm would let them produce other chips in high demand, soaking up all the extra capacity.

What you end up with is less waste, therefore lower overheads, therefore higher profit. The chip companies like profit. They're not going to pass on discounts, you getting a thousand times the RAM for the same price is discount enough!

Comment: Re:10TB of RAM? (Score 1) 296

by jd (#47877957) Attached to: WD Announces 8TB, 10TB Helium Hard Drives

Not really. RAM is only expensive because of the transistor size used. Fab plants are expensive. Packaging is expensive. Shipping is expensive. Silicon is expensive. If you add all that up, you end up with expensive products.

Because fab plants are running very large transistor sizes, you get low yields and high overheads.

Let's see what happens when you cut the transistor size by three orders of magnitude...

For the same size of packaging, you get three orders of magnitude more RAM. So, per megabyte, packaging drops in cost also by three orders of magnitude.

Now, that means your average block of RAM is now around 8 Tb, which is not a perfect fit but it's good enough. The same amount of silicon is used, so there's no extra cost there. The shipping cost doesn't change. As mentioned, the packaging doesn't change. So all your major costs don't change at all.

Yield? The yield for microprocessors is just fine and they're on about the scale discussed here. In fact, you get better. A processor has to work completely. A memory chip also has to work completely, but it's much smaller. If the three round it fail testing, it doesn't affect that one. So you end up with around a quarter of the rejection rate per unit area of silicon to a full microprocessor.

So you've got great yield, same overheads, but... yes... you can use the fab plant to produce ASICs and microprocessors when demand for memory is low, so you've not got idle plant. Ever.

The cost of this memory is therefore exactly the same as the cost of a stick of conventional RAM of 1/1000th the capacity.

Size - Exactly the same as the stick of RAM.

Power budget - of no consequence. When the machine is running, you're drawing from mains power. When the machine is not running, you are refreshing the dirty bits of memory only, nothing else. And 99.9% of the time, there won't be any because sensible OS' like Linux sync before a shutdown. The 0.1% of the time, the time when your server has been hit by a power cut, the hard drive is spun down to save UPS and the main box is in the lowest possible energy mode, that's when this sort of system matters. Even on low energy mode, buffers will need flushing, housekeeping will need to be done, transactions will need to be completed. This system would give you all that.

And the time when the machine is fully powered, fully up? Your hard drive spends most of its time still spun down. Not for power, although it'll chew through a fair bit - mechanical devices always do and the high-speed drives being proposed will chew through far, far more. They'll be spun down because a running hard drive suffers rapid deterioration. Can you believe hard drives only last 5 years??! Keep the damn thing switched off until last minute, then do continuous write. Minimizes read head movement (there's practically none), minimizes bearing wear-and-tear, eliminates read head misalignment (a lot of times, you can write the entire disk in one go, so what the hell do you care if the tracks are not perfectly in line with the ones they're replacing?) and (by minimizing read head time over the drive) minimizes the risk of a head crash.

I reckon this strategy should double the expected lifetime of drives, so take the cost of one 10 Tb drive and calculate how much power you'd need to consume extra for the memory in order for the memory's power budget to exceed the value of what you're doing.

Oh, and another thing. Because I'm talking memory sticks, you only need to buy one, subsequent drives of the same or lower capacity would not need to have memory there. You could simply migrate it. RAM seems to hold up ok on old computers, so you can probably say that the stick is good for the original drive and the replacement. That halves the cost of the memory per drive.

So, no, I don't see anything unduly optimistic. I think your view of what the companies could be doing is unduly pessimistic and more in line with what the chip companies tell you that you should think than what the chip companies can actually do.

Comment: Re:Uhh yeah (Score 1) 108

by jd (#47877837) Attached to: Why Google Is Pushing For a Web Free of SHA-1

Agreed, which is why it should be there.

Nonetheless, there needs to be a backup plan in case it does turn out that the NSA or GCHQ have a backdoor to it. If it's been deliberately compromised (and I'm not keen on changes made AFTER it had been approved as SHA3 for that very reason), then the more paranoid amongst us need to have a backup plan. I certainly wouldn't suggest HTTPS over TOR use algorithms that are considered three-letter-agency-unsafe for any part of the security protocol, for example, since they're the ones doing most of the attacking.

There's no easy answer to this, but I think that having SHA3 and NESSIE as the two standard choices and limited support for some third algorithm for when approval simply isn't good enough is the only real solution. The first two can be standard on all browsers and by all certificate authorities, the third only needs support on special-purpose browsers and OpenCA/OpenSSL/LibreSSL (since most uber-secure sites will roll their own certs).

Bringing computers into the home won't change either one, but may revitalize the corner saloon.

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