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Comment: Re:What is BSD good for? (Score 1) 77

by epine (#47479327) Attached to: FreeBSD 9.3 Released

So I am honestly asking, what is BSD good for.

When exactly did "honestly" become a synonym for living under a rock? This question comes up on almost every thread where FreeBSD is mentioned, though granted this is barely more often than its major releases.

The first answer in every such thread for years now is always ZFS, but actually this just disguises how many people have been using it for years or decades and just plain like the way FreeBSD does things even if nine out of ten, or ninety nine out of a hundred, or nine hundred and ninety nine out of a thousand have different tastes.

I get intensely piqued over the implication that there's a nuisance hurdle that needs to be cleared just for existing. When "honestly" becomes a cover story for living under a rock (or an equivalent not-be-bothered-hood) this ultimately seems to resonate as the main implication.

It's especially irritating when FreeBSD predates all the Johnny-come-latelies. It would have needed to be clairvoyant to have correctly decided to not exist, so as not to strain the reputational resources of open source groupthink.

I used to use an axe, but I stopped using it when I had to cut down a tree ten-feet wide at the base. I am presently using a Husqvarna and I am perfectly happy with it but for some reason the axe retains a magical "hard core" allure. So I am honestly asking, what is an axe good for?

Comment: Re:Xiki Sucks.. (Score 4, Informative) 176

by smallfries (#47339327) Attached to: Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

Also I went through a phase of doing most of this inside vim anyway. It was a time when I was doing a lot of string manipulation in bash with long complex pipelines and I needed to explicitly show the state / track the output of each component.

In vim you just need to keep a :r! at the beginning of each command line, to execute just check that you are in command mode with esc then select the cmd line and middle click to execute, allows piping in results by selecting the input and dropping the r to get :!. There is no support for custom hit regions for the mouse, but in compensation it works everywhere already.

If you already use vim, then having access to vim motions and commands to edit output makes for a surprisingly good shell.

Comment: we'll see if this cures my ten-year Slashdot habit (Score 1) 454

by epine (#47333441) Attached to: CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

@namespace url(;
@-moz-document domain("") {
div, p, h1, span, table, footer, header {
      display: none !important;
body:after {
    content: 'CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking';
    color: #FF0000;
    display: block;
    text-align: center;
    font-size: 1.5vmax;

Comment: article headline sucks ass (Score 5, Insightful) 454

by epine (#47333011) Attached to: CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

CDC: 1 In 10 Adult Deaths In US Caused By Excessive Drinking

This does not deserve to live on Oprah, much less Slashdot. Not on Fox News, not on Rush Limbaugh, not on Howard Stern, not on Jerry Springer. On its own, exactly as it stands, it would set a new standard for outright stupidity in any legal jurisdiction that has yet to legislate pi = 3.

Oh, but wait, there's a footnote: preventable deaths among working-aged adult Americans. THAT'S NOT FUCKING FINE PRINT. My credibility circuit assigned six zeros (0.00000% chance of being true) before I managed to read the next line.

In all the many long years I've been here, I can not recall a single story headline that revolts me to this degree. I was reading recently Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics by Michael Ignatieff. At some point during his election campaign he said something stupid about the Middle East. His campaign manager pulled him aside and explained to him: "Politicians have nine lives. You just burned eight."

I have a finite amount of all-caps to expend on Slashdot outrage. I just burned 80% of my lifetime supply. Next time I resort to all-caps, I'll never post here again.

Comment: jumping off FTW (Score 3) 268

by epine (#47314145) Attached to: Wikipedia Editors Hit With $10 Million Defamation Suit

It's only good for a jumping off place.

So totally true. But once you allow that 99% of modern life is jumping off, I'm not sure what you're griping about.

Just as one comparison, take every organization prominent enough to have it's own article in en.Wikipedia, go to their own websites (the vast majority will have one) and scrape all of the "about us" web pages these organizations authored about themselves, and imagine these as a collective "About Us"-apedia.

This "About Us"-apedia would make MySpace's worst year look like an exercise in design consistency. I for one can live without the metric fuckton of Flash-based incoherence as my standard point of departure on the agencies of the world.

It seems to me that all the people who hated Wikipedia on first sight share an underlying belief in knowledge as an authority network. The reason Wikipedia succeeded is that knowledge isn't what we thought it was. For the vast majority of purposes, authority is a boundary condition, not the thing itself.

The first step in assimilating a new body of knowledge is to survey the field's lexicon: What words are used and roughly how are they linked together? This cognitive process takes place long before factual assertions amount to a hill of beans. When the facts do begin to matter, most smart people are well aware that in this world we're all fed baloney 24 hours a day. Wikipedia is one of the places where it becomes especially clear how the baloney is made. That doesn't make it worse baloney than Superbowl Sunday—America's national slick-baloney celebration day. Is iOS somehow less Orwellian than the IBM PC? So we were told through a non-linguistic medium.

On Wikipedia, when I spot baloney, I click the magic button called "History" where I scan for edit wars and substantial discards. For the vast majority of articles, it's all there in plain view. The mythical, Orwellian-smashing parentage of iOS is harder to trace.

In the upcoming era of Deep Watson, those Wikipedia crumb trails of sturm und churn will suddenly become interesting resources to expose to automated data mining. Perhaps then the present surface form of the articles will begin to fade in importance. There's nothing stopping this, except for the will to go there, which is depressingly thin in the general public for the 99% of the time they're merely jumping off.

Comment: Re:Is there a 'less nerdy version'? (Score 1) 347

by epine (#47313417) Attached to: Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

Apparently over a 168000 light year stretch this adds up to a 0.0005 light year detour

After scanning TFA, the first thing I looked up was the distance to SN 1987a, which the author somehow regarded as beneath notice. Perhaps he was preoccupied with the correct keyboarding of "orthopositronium".

Call me old fashioned, but I think that a person bleating away about an esoteric footnote of astrophysical revelation ought to first muster basic magnitude mastery.

Comment: Re:More expensive for whom? (Score 0) 183

by epine (#47305033) Attached to: How Vacuum Tubes, New Technology Might Save Moore's Law

There is reason to believe that Intel has done CPUs for quite a time at a loss in order to ruin AMD. The effects of AMD being reduced are also blatantly obvious with massively retarded innovations.

That's the danger in posting so soon after being woken up from a long sleep by a handsome prince. You need to shake your head and check out the competitive landscape in 2014.

4 Cores @ 2.5GHz Qualcomm Krait 400

Intel might wish to rethink sitting on their innovative thumbs.

Comment: Perl's heyday in hell (Score 2) 283

by epine (#47303355) Attached to: Perl Is Undead

At least it is steadily loosing ground to Python and for reason.

None of those dynamics have ever occurred in a Python shop?

The second half of the nineties was a bad scene for code readability all around, or did you somehow not notice the Herman Miller office furniture bubble?

There was a lot of Perl written during this era. Perl was the only language that could keep up with the Vogon rapture of all things brick and mortar. The ferryman threw in the towel, auction off his ferry on eBay, bought two cords of dynamite (mail order), and simply diverted the river. Pretty much everything was still where it had been, but traditional commerce was all on the other side now.

My development platform circa 1996 was NT 4, on a P6 200 with 32 MB of EDO system memory, a 640 MB disk drive, and a good quality 17" Dell CRT. It was tolerable, but hardly coding nirvana. The world was shifting under my feet almost daily: Linux, BSD, 2000, LBA, AMD64, SATA, DDR, broadband, Mozilla, Google, DVI, PHP, Python, Ruby, C++, STL, and not an open source version control system worth a crock of shit for love nor money.

I wonder why my coding standards at the time did not optimally favour my future self in the mid 2000s with my CoreDuo workstation, 4 GB of ram, 200 GB of disk space, and twin 19" monitors.

Do recall the little puzzle with the sliding digits 1-15 in a 4x4 grid? Trying to get any significant piece of glue code to run on NT and Linux and able to survive unscathed a major upgrade of each was a lot like that. Or have you blacked it out? Many ugly lines of code were written because the tiles were sticky. In the stupidest possible ways. And it was all going to be Ruby next year anyway. Whatever language you were working in was next up against the wall after the demise of B&M (if any wall could still be found). Soon the Wall was up against the wall, but I digress.

Programmers were in such short supply that vast numbers of people were coding in languages they only pretended to know. Have you forgotten that, too? If Visual Basic had been a better scripting language, Perl would have come out the other side better loved.

The great thing for the smart young programmers about becoming trendoids is that it helps to insulate them from the ugly job of cleaning up yesterday's bubble's giant mess.

Comment: Re:Intel Knights Landing (Score 1) 143

by epine (#47297891) Attached to: Researchers Unveil Experimental 36-Core Chip

The paper's contribution is to propose a new cache coherence scheme which they claim has scalability advantages over existing schemes.

Somehow this was obvious to me even from the press release. I've never yet seen details of an ordering model laid bare where it wasn't the core novelty. Ordering models are inherently substantive. Ordering models beget theorems. Cute little Internets drool and coo.

Comment: blue trunks of steel (Score 1) 106

by epine (#47282645) Attached to: Researchers Find "Achilles Heel" of Drug Resistant Bacteria

At least for now, we're keeping up with them

Over the commercial lifespan of 2000/XP, the cost of gene sequencing went down by five orders of magnitude (100,000 x) and there's still one more order of magnitude crumbling in full swing ($1b per human genome to $1000 per per human genome).

We're not merely drinking their milkshake, we're reading their source code, and it's gone from the Manhattan project garage to hamburgers served in the length of time it takes for a helpless human baby to mature into a helpless head case with little recourse to perspective or logic.

After we invented the steam engine, the Amazon wasn't the first forest we cut down. The Amazon is full of piranha and poisonous snakes and many other protective life forms.

Yet somehow you wish to depict the interval in human history between the invention of the steam engine as the destruction of the Amazonian rain forest as a race the forest can win?

Sure can, if the entire human race dies off in the next World Wide Crusade at some point in the next fifty-odd years.

Penicillin was an inspired one-off. Gene sequencing is the devil's root kit.

But maybe I'm wrong, and I severely underestimate microbial evolution. Twenty years from now we'll wake up one day to discover hostile bacteria with no chemical genome at all: it's all hidden behind some bitcoin quantum process we are unable to sequence, that mutates in nature faster than we can puzzle it out, and we'll all be left scratching our chins and wondering how that happened.

My computer can beat up your computer. - Karl Lehenbauer