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Comment: Re:Slashdot Hate Machine (Score 2) 64

by david.given (#47959727) Attached to: New "Crescent Bay" VR Headset Revealed and Demo'd At Oculus Connect
I rather like the StackOverflow moderation system, where it costs _you_ karma to downvote someone else.

In general, I don't think Slashdot's moderation system is effective at promoting interesting discussion. I think the bulk of the problems are the moderation cap at 5, which means there's a very limited dynamic range of interestingness; and there's no visible karma score, which means there's no point in taking the long view --- StackOverflow's system of gamifying karma so that people deliberately try to post good stuff so as to improve their score is total genius.

Plus, of course, the now-ingrained culture of ultra conservatism and whiny hate which permeates the comments section, but that's largely an artifact of the above. Sheesh, even Youtube comments can be better.

I, too, miss the old Slashdot. [sad face]

Comment: Re:The local paper had this tidbit (Score 1) 819

That's happened to me. I have a Macbook Air; it's kinda sharp on the front. The person in the seat in front dropped their seat back really abruptly, with the result that I ended up getting guillotined in the gut by the edge of the laptop. It was painful.

I forget which airline it was --- possibly Swiss; I doubt it was Easyjet, as their seats don't recline.

Comment: Re:One of the most frustrating first-world problem (Score 1) 191

by david.given (#47666437) Attached to: Reversible Type-C USB Connector Ready For Production
You can actually get cables with a USB A connector on both ends. Yes, they're abominations of nature that make about less electrical sense than a mains cable with a plug on both ends, but you can actually buy them. They're typically only needed one some idiot who doesn't know what they're doing designs a piece of kit with the wrong socket. See, for example:

I have one right here on my desk. It connects a cheapo (but effective) battery charger to a USB power supply. The charger has an A socket, and it connects to a standard charger via an AA cable.

I keep meaning to superglue it into the charger to prevent someone connecting two of my computers together and something horrible happening.

Comment: Re:Solaris not well supported by OSS toolchain (Score 1) 183

Because this never works.

What happens instead is that people latch on to some irrelevant detail in your context and the discussion gets instantly derailed in that direction, thus ensuring that your question never gets answered. It's particularly fatal to mention motive, because that's completely subjective. The only way to actually get useful answers to questions these days is to trim the context as ruthlessly as you possibly can.

One day someone needs to write a "How To Answer Questions The Smart Way".

Comment: Re:Write your name with a pen? (Score 1) 82

I think that's the point.

I suspect the reasoning is that one physical copy == one license. By having the physical copy tied to you, by putting your name in it, they ensure you can't pass it on to anyone else, which means the license becomes non-transferrable. That means it's safe for them to give you a digital copy of the book, covered by the same license, in the knowledge that nobody else can claim a digital copy from the same physical book, without buying a new copy.

I would also be entirely unsurprised if each ebook was personalised, containing the image of your signature, so that if you gave a copy to someone else they'd know. I also see no mention of DRM (but the FAQ mentions using Calibre to convert ebooks, which suggests they don't use it).


Terran Computational Calendar Introduces Minimonths, Year Bases, and Datemods 209

Posted by timothy
from the on-a-night-just-like-tonight dept.
First time accepted submitter TC+0 (3672227) writes "Inspired by comments regarding its first incarnation, the Terran Computational Calendar's recent redefinition now includes dynamic support for 'leap duration', 'year bases', and 'datemods'. Here's the new abstract from (wikia mirror) captured at 44.5.20,6.26.48 TC+7H:

Synchronized with the northern winter solstice, the terran computational calendar began roughly* 10 days before the UNIX Epoch. Each year is composed of 13 identical 28-day months, followed by a 'minimonth' that houses leap days (one most years and two every 4th but not 128th year) and leap seconds (issued by the IERS during that year). Each date is an unambiguous instant in time that exploits zero-based numbering and a handful of delimiters to represent the number of years and constant length months, days, hours, minutes, and seconds that have elapsed since 0TC (the calendar's starting point). An optional 'year base' may be applied to ignore erratic leap duration. Arithmetic date adjusting 'datemods' can be applied to define things like weeks, quarters, and regional times."

The Best Parking Apps You've Never Heard Of and Why You Haven't 163

Posted by samzenpus
from the park-that-anywhere dept.
Bennett Haselton writes "If you read no further, use either the BestParking or ParkMe app to search all nearby parking garages for the cheapest spot, based on the time you're arriving and leaving. I'm interested in the question of why so few people know about these apps, how is it that they've been partially crowded out by other 'parking apps' that are much less useful, and why our marketplace for ideas and intellectual properly is still so inefficient." Read below to see what Bennett has to say.

Comment: Not actually sou (Score 5, Interesting) 77

The Videocore IV on the Raspberry Pi (which totally kicks arse, BTW, it's a beautiful, beautiful processor. Did you know it's dual core?) currently doesn't have an open source compiler that's any good[*] which I'm aware of. I have tried porting gcc, and got a reasonable way into it, but ground to a halt because gcc. I know another guy who's similarly about half-way through an LLVM port. And Volker Barthelmann's excellent vbcc compiler has a VC4 prototype which makes superb code, but that's not open source at all.

Without a compiler, obviously the source isn't much good, although the VC4-specific code is really interesting to look through.

In addition, having done a really brief scan of the docs they've released, this isn't what the article's implying: what we've got here looks like the architecture manual for the QPU and the 3D engine. The QPU is the shader engine. Don't get me wrong, this is awesome, and will allow people to do stuff like compile their own shaders and do an OpenCL port, but I haven't seen any documentation relating to the VideoCore IV processor. The binary blob everyone complains about runs on that.

It does looks like the source dump contains a huge pile of stuff for the VC4, so maybe they're going to release more later. But even incomplete, this is a great step forward, and much kudos to Broadcom for doing this.

[*] I have done a really crap port of the Amsterdam Compiler Kit compiler for the VC4. It generates terrible, terrible code, but I have got stuff running on the Raspberry Pi bare metal. It's all rather ground to a halt because there's still a lot of stuff to figure out in the boot process, but interested parties may wish to visit


Rap Genius Returns To Google Search Rankings 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the play-nice-with-the-internets dept.
theodp writes "After being punished by Google for manipulative SEO tactics, a contrite Rap Genius says it's back in Google's good graces. 'It takes a few days for things to return to normal, but we're officially back!' reads a post by the Rap Genius founders. 'First of all, we owe a big thanks to Google for being fair and transparent and allowing us back onto their results pages. We overstepped, and we deserved to get smacked.' Rap Genius credits some clever trackback scraping programming for its quick redemption, but a skeptic might suggest it probably didn't hurt that Rap Genius' biggest investor, Andreessen Horowitz, is tight with Google."

Comment: Re:Watch out (Score 1) 99

by david.given (#45694459) Attached to: SpaceX Wins Use of NASA's Launch Pad 39A

Even better --- they've just demonstrated the ability to go to GEO, which is about 14km/s from the Earth's surface. Lunar orbit is only another 2.4km/s, and the moon's surface another 1.6 on top of that!

Chances are that with the technology they have right now, that is, using a modified F9 with the GEO upper stage, they could send a probe on a free-return trajectory to the moon. Or even easier, an impactor. I suspect they won't; Elon Musk appears to have his sights firmly set on the upgraded F9 Heavy and the rocket-landing Dragon, and with that setup you could probably remote land a complete Dragon capsule. I'd be really interested to know what sort of delta vee the Dragon's internal rockets will have...

Comment: Re:First (Score 5, Interesting) 250

by david.given (#45690649) Attached to: Chinese Lunar Probe Lands Successfully
As an interesting addendum:

Luna-9's pictures were sent back using one of the standard encodings used for wireless newspaper photography transmission. During the transmission, the Jodrell Bank radio telescope in the United Kingdom was listening in (well, wouldn't you?) and the astronomers there recognised the encoding, phoned someone at the Daily Express, and as a result the first pictures from the surface of the moon ever were printed in a British newspaper while the USSR was still wondering what to do with them.

There is some speculation that the encoding scheme was picked deliberately to make sure this happened...

Comment: Successfully landed (Score 5, Informative) 90

by david.given (#45688605) Attached to: Chang'e-3 Lunar Rover Landing Slated For 13:40 UTC Saturday
CCTV's live coverage showed a textbook landing and solar array deployment, including some very shiny live pictures from the descent imager. Next steps are self-testing, instrument deployment and releasing the rover, which they've said will take up to 24 hours. Although I'd imagine that they'll release images from the panoramic mast camera as soon as possible.

Invest in physics -- own a piece of Dirac!