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Comment: Ooops! (Score 3, Funny) 164

by jd (#47734597) Attached to: Google Wants To Test Driverless Cars In a Simulation

Found a bug in physics.c, those cars we mass produced last year will spontaneously explode after 367 days of exposure to an atmosphere containing oxygen, or when white lines are painted rather than vinyl, or when attempting a corner of a prime number of degrees when speeding on a cambered road.

Why wasn't this spotted sooner?

Because we hadn't expected to need chemistry or non-Euclidian geometry in a physics engine.

Comment: Re:Perhaps this won't be a popular view... (Score 1) 282

by jd (#47734539) Attached to: "MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

Then make the episodes longer. Or have one set of presenters on the first show (they're usually paired) and the others on the second show. Or eliminate redundant footage so that you can have two or three times the content. Or eliminate the advertisers, sorry adverts, and get three times the running length.

Comment: Re:Not sure if gone (Score 1) 282

by jd (#47734503) Attached to: "MythBusters" Drops Kari Byron, Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci

Discovery got caught using fake footage in documentaries. No scientist should be working with a channel that is peddling fraudulent material. History lost a lot of reputation with their academically bogus Ancient Aliens stuff, but at least they didn't try to offer photographs and videos they themselves doctored as "evidence".

If the three have projects worth taking seriously, they won't be projects on Discovery. HBO has less of a credibility issue.

Comment: Re:We get cancer because we have linear DNA (Score 1) 180

by jd (#47726213) Attached to: New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

That's easy to fix. If a cell has not just the existing error correction codes but also digital ones as well, then mutagenic substances (of which there are a lot) and telemere shortening can be fixed. Well, once we've figured out how to modify the DNA in-situ. Nanotech should have that sorted soonish.

The existing error correction is neither very good nor very reliable. This is a good thing, because it allows evolution. You don't want good error correction between generations. You just want it in a single person over their lifespan, and you want it restricted so that it doesn't clash with retrotranspons and other similar mechanisms. So, basically, one whole inter-gene gap/one whole gene protected by one code. Doable. You still need cell death - intercept the signal and use a guaranteed method.

Comment: Exploit that which you cannot defeat (Score 1) 180

by jd (#47726171) Attached to: New Research Suggests Cancer May Be an Intrinsic Property of Cells

Here, in the year Lemon Meringue, we decided to solve the problem once and for all.

Instead of trying to kill cancer, we hijack its techniques. We start by having nanocomputers in the vaccuelles of each brain cell. These keep a continuous backup copy of the state of the brain up to death. Cancers disable the hard limit on cell duplication that cannot otherwise be avoided. By using the techniques of cell-devouring microphages, the cancer "consumes" the old cells and replaces them with new ones. They can't spread anywhere else, because that's how the cancer is designed to spread. Once the body has been fully replaced, the cancer is disabled. The brain is then programmed by the nanocomputers and the remaining cells are specialized by means of chemical signal.

This does result in oddly-shaped livers and three-handed software developers, but so far this has boosted productivity.

Comment: Re:It's not a kernel problem (Score 1) 690

by jd (#47726057) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

The free market didn't provide alternatives. The free market created Microsoft and the other monopolies. Adam Smith warned against a free market.

The majority do not create alternatives, either. The majority like things to not change. The familiar will always better the superior in the marketplace.

Alternatives are created by small groups of people being disreputable, commercially unproductive and at total odds with the consumer. These alternatives will typically take 7-14 years to develop. Adoption will typically reach peak after another 7-14 years. By the 30th year after first concept, the idea will be "obvious" and its destiny an "inevitable consequence" of how things are done.

In reality, it takes exceptional courage and a total disregard for "how things are done". 7-14 years with guaranteed losses is not how the marketplace works. Even thinking along those lines is often met with derision and calls of "Socialism!" by the market. No, real inventors are the enemy of the free market.

If you want a Linux desktop, you must forgo all dreams of wealth. You must subject yourself to the abject poverty that is the lot of an inventor in a market economy, or move to somewhere that supports the real achievers.

Comment: The problem isn't X. (Score 1) 690

by jd (#47725933) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

The problem is corruption. OSDL were working on a Linux desktop environment, but a key (financial) figure in the organization worked hard to kill off success and left around the time the unit went bankrupt. Several organizations they've been linked to have either gone belly up or have suffered catastrophic failure.

I won't name names, no point. What is the point is that such people exist in the Linux community at all, parasites that destroy good engineering and good work for some personal benefit of their own.

X is not great, but it's just a specification. People have developed Postscript-based GUIs using it. It's merely an API that you can implement as you like (someone ported it to Java) and extend as you like (Sun did that all the time). The reference implementation is just that. Interoperability of just that set of functions used by Glib/Gtk and Qt would give you almost all the key software.

Alternatively, write a GUI that has a port of those three libraries. You could use Berlin as a starting point, or build off Linux framebuffers, or perhaps use SDL, or write something unique. If it supports software needing those libraries, then almost everything in actual use will be usable and almost everything written around X in the future will also be usable. If what you write is better than X, people will switch.

Comment: Re:Nobody else seems to want it (Score 1) 690

by jd (#47725801) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

Binary drivers exist and are loadable so long as they are properly versioned.

Block drivers can always use FUSE.

Automatic builders can recompile a shim layer with new kernels (or even the git tree version), automatic test harnesses or a repurposed Linux Test Project can validate the shim. You don't need to validate the driver for everykernel, if it's totally isolated from the OS and worked before then it'll remain working.

Automated distributors can then place the binaries in a corporate yum/apt repository.

What has an ABI got to do with it? Only gets in the way of writing clean code.

Comment: Why? (Score 1) 690

by jd (#47725719) Attached to: Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

The commands to the bus don't change.
The commands sent to the hardware don't change.
The internal logic won't change.

That leaves the specific hooks to the OS and the externally visible structures.

Nobody is insane enough to use globals directly and structures are subject to change without notice. So external stuff will already be isolated.

If the hardware is available for any two of HyperTransport, PCI Express 2.x, VME/VXI or one of the low-power busses used on mobile hand-warmers, err, smart devices, then the actual calls to the bus hardware will be compartmentalized or go through an OS-based abstraction layer.

So 95% of a well-written driver is OS-agnostic and the remaining 5% is already is isolated.

So either drivers are very badly written (which is a crime against sanity) or the hardware vendor could place the OS-dependent code in its own DLL at bugger-all cost to them. Since the OS-dependent code has nothing trade secret in it, they can publish the source for the shim at no risk. Since the shim isn't the driver, there's no implication of support for OS' they don't know or understand. It's not their problem what the shim is used for.

Everyone's happy. Well, happier. The companies don't get harassed, the Linux users get their drivers, Microsoft gets fewer complaints about badly-written drivers killing their software. It's not open, it's not supported, but it's good enough.

Comment: This story paid for by AT&T and Verizon... (Score 4, Insightful) 297

If the authorities want to stop you from calling, they can already tell the providers to block your IMEI. They can also track you as you move between towers, listen in to your phone calls if they want, and read your SMS messages. But seriously, the providers can already "brick" your phone - otherwise, how do you think they shut off service when you stop paying your bills? How do you think they know to charge you for your long distance calls? And similarly, the police/NSA/CIA/FBI/whomever already has all of those abilities, simply by telling the phone company to give them whatever they want.

Enabling a kill switch is not really creating a new kill switch... It's simply giving you, the purchaser, the right to tell the phone company to block the IMEI using the same tools that law enforcement does now. It literally costs them nothing to allow, since it already exists, but, as noted in the Summary, will result in a huge drop in the number of re-purchased phones after theft/breakage... phones that are frequently re-purchased at full price, due to the multi-year contract lock-ins. This is all about money, not freedom.

Comment: Re:100+F or 38+C typical annual high (Score 0) 62

by jd (#47698809) Attached to: The Data Dome: A Server Farm In a Geodesic Dome

Portland is cool, yes. But that's mostly down to the bookshops and tea shops. Temperature-wise, it doesn't get "hot" per-se, but it does get very humid. And the air is horribly polluted. Spent the time moving up there reading about dangerously high levels of mercury in the air, the deadly pollutants in the river, the partially dismantled nuclear reactor and highly toxic soil (the reactor has since gone, the soil remains drenched in contaminants), the extremely high levels of acid rain due to excessive cars (which are driven by maniacs) and the lethal toxins flowing through the rivers that have been built over to level out the ground.

In short, I landed there a nervous wreck.

Things didn't improve. I saw more dead bodies (yes, dead bodies) in Portland and heard more gunfire in my five years there than I heard in the suburbs of Manchester, England, in 27 years. You will find, if the archives let you get back that far, that I was almost normal before that time.

Comment: Re:Souinds like the data center of the future, cir (Score 3, Interesting) 62

by jd (#47698749) Attached to: The Data Dome: A Server Farm In a Geodesic Dome

1955. The Manchester Computing Centre was designed to be one gigantic heat sink for their computers in the basement, using simple convection currents, ultra-large corridors and strategically-placed doors to regulate the temperature. It worked ok. Not great, but well enough. The computers generated enormous heat all year round, reducing the need for heating in winter. (Manchester winters can be bitingly cold, as the Romans discovered. Less so, now that Global Warming has screwed the weather systems up.)

The design that Oregon is using is several steps up, yes, but is basically designed on the same principles and uses essentially the same set of tools to achieve the results. Nobody quite knows the thermal properties of the location Alan Turing built the Manchester Baby in, the laboratory was demolished a long time ago. Bastards. However, we know where his successors worked, because that's the location of the MCC/NCC. A very unpleasant building, ugly as hell, but "functional" for the purpose for which it was designed. Nobody is saying the building never got hot - it did - but the computers didn't generally burst into flames, which they would have done if there had been no cooling at all.

You can measure a programmer's perspective by noting his attitude on the continuing viability of FORTRAN. -- Alan Perlis

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