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Comment: Debian GNOME needs some attention (Score 3, Interesting) 395

by Bruce Perens (#47979731) Attached to: Debian Switching Back To GNOME As the Default Desktop

After something like 20 years I finally found a system that won't run Debian unstable right now. My Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1 magnesium tablet + iKey Jumpseat magnesium keyboard. Systemd and GDM break. Bought (for less than full price) because I am a frequent traveler and speaker and really do need something you can drop from 6 feet and pour coffee over have it keep working.

But because of this bug I have ubuntu at the moment, and am not having fun and am eager to return to Debian.

Comment: They are not axing the Silicon Valley campus (Score 2) 109

by Eric Green (#47943457) Attached to: Microsoft Lays Off 2,100, Axes Silicon Valley Research

In fact, they are expanding it -- they are putting in a brand new data center on the site that was the former Counterpane Security, on LaAvenida across from their SV HQ, and they also have leased a huge building a couple of blocks away on Pear Street. There's also rumors that they're behind the demolishing of an entire block of tilt-ups between LaAvenida and Pear to be replaced by six-story office buildings. In any event Microsoft isn't leaving the Silicon Valley, just Microsoft Research is leaving -- all fifty employees. Every single one of them who can have a job tomorrow by walking down the street to the Googleplex. Not a single one of whom have ever created a product for Microsoft, because Microsoft doesn't create products anymore, they just re-invent other people's products (or their own previously-good products), badly.

Comment: What is really happening here? (Score 1) 981

by Bruce Perens (#47930483) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children
We are in a War on Faith, because Faith justifies anything and ISIS takes it to extremes. But in the end they are just a bigger version of Christian-dominated school boards that mess with the teaching of Evolution, or Mormon sponsors of anti-gay-marriage measures, or my Hebrew school teacher, an adult who slapped me as a 12-year-old for some unremembered offense against his faith.

Comment: Re:Anti-math and anti-science ... (Score 1) 981

by Bruce Perens (#47930331) Attached to: ISIS Bans Math and Social Studies For Children

Hm. The covenant of Noah is about two paragraphs before this part (King James Version) which is used for various justifications of slavery and discrimination against all sorts of people because they are said to bear the Curse of Ham. If folks wanted to use the Bible to justify anything ISIS says is justified by God's words in the Koran, they could easily do so.

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Comment: Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (Score 5, Interesting) 193

by Eric Green (#47740445) Attached to: Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

You're actually talking about MAID (Massive Array of Idle Disks), a technology that I first encountered in 2002. Now-bankrupt Copan Systems was the company I first encountered that was doing MAID, and New SGI (i.e. former Rackable Systems) bought their assets out of bankruptcy in 2010. Most storage companies now offer MAID add-ons for their storage arrays, though not all of them allow completely powering down the drive like Copan's solution did.

The upsides of MAID: Disks are cheap. Turning on and spinning up a hard drive to pull up some bits is faster than a robot fetching a Blu-Ray disk, placing it into a drive in the jukebox, and waiting for the disk to spin up and come online. You could store many more bytes in a cabinet with MAID than you could in an optical disk cabinet.

Downsides: The disk drives in a MAID array simply don't last that long, comparatively speaking. Spinning them up and down all the time is hard on a drive. So you end up having to replicate data and from time to time migrate data to new drives as old drives reach their service life. The service life of rarely used Blu-Ray media that has always been handled robotically (i.e., nothing touching its surfaces ever) is such that Blu-Ray media from ten years ago is probably still usable, the technology itself will become obsolete like DVD-RAM long before the media wears out. Not so much with hard drives, though disk arrays basically have unlimited life given typical failure patterns (i.e., if you're using RAID6, a drive develops errors, you remove the failing drive from the array, rebuild the array on a new drive, and chances of having two more drives fail during rebuild and thus losing the array are slim for a 12-drive array). So MAID has not really taken off the way we expected ten years ago.

At the time I first encountered MAID I was working for a company called DISC Storage, which had a NAS head which would automatically migrate little-used data to an optical jukebox in a way similar to what Facebook appears to be attempting. I designed and implemented the clustering function that would replicate the data between two NAS heads / optical jukeboxes, since the DVD-RAM platters were not themselves RAID'ed, as well as implemented a lot of the back end functionality for jukebox control and so forth. In any event, it looked like a NAS head but most of the files had been migrated to the DVD-RAM platters, and if you accessed one of those files, you would (at some point maybe 15 seconds later) get your data back as the file got read back onto the hard drive. It worked. But it was somewhat slow and cumbersome, because you're relying on a robot to go out and fetch the disk and put it in a drive, and disk robots then, and now, simply aren't that fast compared to media that's already in a drive ready to be spun up and read.

So anyhow, it was fairly obvious to me by mid 2003 that optical jukeboxes simply weren't going to be the future. In the ten years since DISC went under (there is a German company by that name now but it isn't the same company, it bought the name and some of the IP), I have not had any inclination to work for a company doing optical storage, because it's clear that for most problems it isn't the solution. It's too slow, too bulky, and magnetic disk drives and magnetic tape drives just continue getting bigger and cheaper every day. And now, with SSD coming on strong, optical jukeboxes look even less compelling.

So color me amazed. Optical jukebox and optical media technology essentially has barely moved on in the past ten years and what wasn't particularly compelling then, is even less compelling now. If you have need to keep data for a *long* time, this is how you do it... but frankly, I will be surprised if Facebook even exists ten years from now given the pace of innovation in the industry (though I'm just as surprised that Slashdot still exists!), so I question why they would do this rather than invest in LTO tape libraries, which have the advantage of being significantly denser.

Comment: Re:It's not an attempt to "game the system"... (Score 1) 180

by Eric Green (#47726695) Attached to: The 2014 Hugo Awards

Orson Scott Card is proof that ideology doesn't stop you from winning Hugos. All that is necessary is to write something interesting and mind-blowing. Writing formulatic space operas that are basically 1950's Don Pendleton manly war-fighting men set in space rather than in the wilds of darkest Africa or Southeast Asia is not the sort of thing that gathers awards, those have been done so many times that they're mind candy, something entertaining if in a certain mood but hardly mind blowing. Neither are fifteen page dissertations on why Libertarianism is the only proper ideology for running a space station. Nobody wants an ideological tract when they read science fiction, they want to have their mind blown. Orson Scott Card's later books haven't won Hugos not because of his right wing ideology, but, rather, because they've been boring, having nothing new to offer over his earlier fiction that did win awards. Which is a shame, because his 80's output was ridiculously good, then he got full of himself and his output got boring.

I liked Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress as a work of fiction, and probably would have nominated it for an award that year if I hadn't been 2 years old at the time. L. Neil Smith's work, on the other hand, read like Libertarian tracts with cardboard characters and stereotypical plots, I read a couple of them and was, like, "meh", even though at the time I considered myself somewhat Libertarian and liked a number of other Prometheus Award winners. But ideology is *boring*. In the end, what I want when I read science fiction is something that's going to make me say "wow!", with a story that isn't predictable and characters that seem like real (if perhaps quirky) people and ideas that make me go "Hmm." Heinlein managed that for me, as do writers like Vernor Vinge, Ken MacLeod, and Neal Stephenson. Too many other "Libertarian" or "right-wing" authors don't. If you're going to turn it into an ideological tract with cardboard characters spouting ideological talking points, or just another by-the-numbers space opera where manly men of the finest cardboard kill lots of mooks while spouting pretentious jargon... YAWN.

Comment: Re:FUD filled.... (Score 1) 212

It sounds like this transformer had its center tap grounded and was the path to ground on one side of a ground loop as the geomagnetic field moved under pressure from a CME, inducing a common-mode current in the long-distance power line. A gas pipeline in an area of poor ground conductivity in Russia was also destroyed, it is said, resulting in 500 deaths.

One can protect against this phenomenon by use of common-mode breakers and perhaps even overheat breakers. The system will not stay up but nor will it be destroyed. This is a high-current rather than high-voltage phenomenon and thus the various methods used to dissipate lightning currents might not be effective.

Programmers do it bit by bit.