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Comment: To be pedantic: 96% of marine _species_ went extin (Score 3, Informative) 417

To be pedantic: 96% of marine _species_ went extinct.

We've seen 99% of all of some species disappear, and the species come back. Homo Sapiens was brought down to a 10,000 person bottleneck once, but bounced back. We've had 90%+ of some fish populations disappear with almost no complete species disappearing. But the great extinctions losing 96 % of species is another level entirely.

Comment: Re:Hashes not useful (Score 1) 324

by amck (#49189053) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

>> Require access to reflash the firmware securely by independent means.
> The firmware image on the device does not have to let you reflash it. It can happily report "success!" while doing nothing

Agreed: if the firmware is malware then it cannot be trusted, period. By "require access" I mean something like JTAG bus that enables you to replace the firmware reliably, given that you assume malicious firmware to start with.
This requires someone demanding such hardware features, which is why I doubted it would happen. Given China's recent actions, I'm now inclined to think it will happen - Intel, Cisco, etc. are not going to give up the Chinese market if the Chinese demand such features.

Comment: Re:Hashes not useful (Score 2) 324

by amck (#49158039) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Does One Verify Hard Drive Firmware?

Won't work. See the modification of Cisco hardware intercepted between manufacture and delivery.

Open-source the whole stack. Require access to reflash the firmware securely by independent means.

Previously I would have thought this a pipedream, but with China looking to deny access to its markets to insecure equipment, I'm hopeful that this will happen.

Comment: Re:something new. (Score 3, Interesting) 578

by amck (#48723887) Attached to: What Language Will the World Speak In 2115?

Some accents / dialects have been growing: e.g. Cockney English rhyming. As a result of it becoming 'popular', actual Cockneys have doubled down and made it harder.
Accents / dialects are "membership" indicators, showing you belong to a community; they take time to learn. There is value in (1) having a common language but also for a community (2) being distinct. I suspect that _bilingualism_ is not going to fade away, though having one common language (English by default) will stay.

Comment: Re:Name the type, or statement is meaningless (Score 1) 260

by amck (#48344269) Attached to: Computer Scientists Ask Supreme Court To Rule APIs Can't Be Copyrighted

This makes using them in the aggregate as "Intellectual Property" legally meaningless if one is trying to state something concrete.

The one thing copyright, patents, trademarks have in common is that legally, None of them are a form of property.

Property means the thing is permanently yours, you get to keep it or at worst get compensated for its removal. If the state takes your land to build a road, you get compensated.

Copyright, Patents and Trademarks are monopolies granted "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times". Intellectual Proterty is a political cause or movement to get these temporary monopolies granted as Property. It needs to be recognised as such, and denied.

Comment: Re:What difference will it make? (Score 3, Insightful) 125

by amck (#48261595) Attached to: 16-Teraflops, £97m Cray To Replace IBM At UK Meteorological Office

You do more than rescue. When you know the storm is coming you prepare ahead of time. With 3-5 days notice, Councils, police cancel overtime. All vehicles are out of the garage/repair shop. Priority on getting sandbags in place, clearing all drains and drain covers.

Then the general public are warned. Less events are on, or they are cancelled. Less people travel, everyones been to the shops two days before.

And away from storms, farmers know 5 days in advance what they're doing; warm humid weather means preparing for blight, etc. Less fertlilizers, less pesticides are wasted.

People still grumble about the bad weather, but harvests and lives aren't lost.

Comment: Re:Have the solutions converged? (Score 3, Informative) 77

by amck (#48053909) Attached to: Supercomputing Upgrade Produces High-Resolution Storm Forecasts

These simulations are forecasts. They check every forecast against observations, and have very good metrics on how good their forecasts are, and how much skill changes.
See for example how the European ECMWF does its forecasts:

Every change to the operational model(s) can be and is checked out first against " will it improve the forecast". Similarly improvements in computing power: we simply run yesterdays forecast at higher resolution for example; we can then say "this new model is n% better, but takes 10x as long to calculate", and use that to decide whether its worth buying a faster computer.

On the climate timescale we have a challenge verifying the simulations, but on the weather timescale its straightforward, and done.

Comment: Re:kill -1 (Score 1) 469

by amck (#47962341) Attached to: Fork of Systemd Leads To Lightweight Uselessd

PID1 has special significance in Unix that means if it needs to be restarted, the whole system needs a reboot. Its essential functionality can (has) been written in 10-20 lines, allowing it to be carefully audited and ensure no CVEs, with other functionality subordinated.

systemd has too much functionality in pid1. it is also, in my and many peoples opinion, too highly integrated: Effectively everything has to be done "the systemd way". We have a range of init 'setups' at the moment suitable for embedded systems through servers to desktops. systemd does a "one size fits all" that locks in a design. Replacing it in the future (even eg. /usr on a separate mount, for example) requires rewriting much of the core code. We lose the one-component-does-one-thing design, allowing individual components to be replaced and new designs tested (eg. different mailservers, different bind implementations,etc).

Comment: Re:I've grappled with the ethics of CS for 20 year (Score 1) 183

by amck (#46812879) Attached to: The Ethical Dilemmas Today's Programmers Face

This is Engineering. This dilemma has been faced before by other Engineers, and its time for software engineers to step up to the mark and earn the title.

Basically, professionalize. Join an industry body like IEEE, create and get standards like C.Eng, lobby for critical software to be signed off by Licensed Engineers. Wrestle control from the PHBs.

Comment: Re:But is it a class M planet? (Score 4, Interesting) 239

by amck (#46781665) Attached to: Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered


There have been several studies of tidally-locked planets around M-dwarfs which refute this.
Simulations of the Atmospheres of Synchronously Rotating Terrestrial Planets Orbiting M Dwarfs: Conditions for Atmospheric Collapse and the Implications for Habitability, M. M. Joshi, R. M. Haberle, and R. T. Reynolds , Icarus (1997)
A Reappraisal of The Habitability of Planets around M Dwarf Stars, Tarter et al. (2007), Astrobiology,

Basically atmosphere and ocean circulation transfer the heat, and you get a relatively habitable earthlike environment.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary saftey deserve neither liberty not saftey." -- Benjamin Franklin, 1759