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Comment: Old Shite (Score 2) 603

by fyngyrz (#47791649) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?

I really, *really* liked my late 1970's-era 6809 system. 64k of RAM, custom graphics and sound cards of my design, timers, serial port, multiple floppies. I thought it was getting old in the tooth (it wasn't, it still works, should have had more faith I suppose), so I wrote an emulator for it -- the entire system, hardware, software, a front panel (which the original didn't even have) everything. Still works great, but due to the increase in CPU power over the years, the emulator is one heck of a lot faster than the original hardware. You can use it too, if you're so inclined and you're running some version of Windows, XP or later (might still work under Windows 95 and/or 98 for that matter.) Includes various compilers (Dugger's c compiler, for instance), forth, assembler, cross-assemblers, linkers, basics, some arcade video games that used the graphics hardware, and probably the vast majority of the commands that were available for the DOS, which was FLEX09. Percom PSYMON monitor. If you ever wanted to play in a nice, safe assembler sandbox, it doesn't get any better than the 6809. It just gets faster and wider.

For linux, the answer is Midnight Commander. Between the very nice editor and the dual-pane do-lots-of-things text mode interface, it's still my go-to under linux, I even use it on the Mac. Thankfully, they've kept it reasonably up to date, although making a native mac version without inflicting a much broader *nix ports package on the system is a real pain in the butt.

For the Mac, I use both of the above, MC natively and my emulator under a VM running a network-isolated XP, and I still run a PPC version of my HP-48G, which, I'm afraid, has made any other calculator use not only pointless, but nearly impossible. I also have two of these calculators in hardware, both of which still work fine. Because Apple dropped PPC support at OSX 10.7, my daily driver machine still runs OSX 10.6 and is likely to continue to do so unless I can find a native version of the HP emulator for Mavericks. When I decided to move past OSX 10.6 (Mavericks is actually quite nice, finally), I bought a new machine and plopped it down in my ham shack.

Ham radio: Easy. My Palomar loop antenna. This tiny (about a cubic foot) antenna system has pluggable loops for 150-500 khz, 500-1700 khz, 1700-4000 khz, and 4000-15000 khz. I like to drag it out into the unimproved areas a few tens of miles from here where there are zero power lines, telephone cables carrying data, neon and other signage, plasma TVs, buildings and so on, and enjoy amazingly good, noise-free SW and amateur radio reception on the radio in my truck without having to set up a physically large and cumbersome antenna. I also have a Panasonic RF-2200 portable analog radio that I take on trips. Both of these are pretty old, tech-wise, but both remain in regular use and have stood the test of time very well indeed.

Music: A Marantz 2325 stereo receiver and a pair of Marantz HD-880 speakers. Not only does this setup sound nothing less than awesome, it eliminates the tedious menu surfing that more modern gear forces upon us. Everything's on a front panel knob. Everything. I have (very) modern gear in the home theater, but in my office, the old Marantz blue face remains king.

Lastly, I still have, and continue to play, a 1950's Fender Stratocaster guitar. I have a fair collection of more modern guitars, but the strat's neck is still the best of all of them. Luckily, for most of my life I've been a casual enough musician, and have spent enough time on other guitars, that I've not had to have the thing re-fretted. I don't look forward to that. I can't imagine it'll be the same. Of all the old stuff I have, this is the thing that has not only kept its value, but appreciated far beyond any dollar figure I could ever have anticipated. Not selling it, though. Ever. :)

Comment: Re:5820K is an extremely nice part (Score 2) 171

I was just looking at that one a few hours ago (need to replace my desktop ... Mozilla apps are pigs with high core-affinity).

I decided against it because it has many fewer of the new instructions than the 4790K, slower clock, and almost double the TDP (and I prefer quiet/low power).

Obviously for highly parallel tasks that can fit nicely in the 5820K's bigger cache, it will win handily. I'd love to see an ffmpeg coding shoot-out, but I'm concerned that the 5820K's disabled PCIe lanes might hamper other system performance (vs. e.g. the 5830K).

If anybody here has an ASRock Z97 mobo that they love, I'd like to hear about it.

Comment: Risk Management (Score 3, Insightful) 88

Look, I'm all for getting as much Zmapp to patients as is possible. I think a lot of people are agreement on this.

But we also need to do something about the effed up process of the approval of drugs and vaccines for these deadly diseases.

I'm thinking specifically about the malaria vaccine that has been known to be effective since '96/'97, but which has been held up for extended testing trials by (IIRC) the British drug regulators, who again put a hold on it this spring because it might not be entirely effective in newborn infants.

Meanwhile two million children are dying every year from malaria. This is a really, really, really, screwed up situation, and we have an ethical obligation to do what we can to put an end to these processes.

Even if the latest delay is "only" three months, that's a half million kids or so. It's unconscionable how poor the risk management analysis is - the perfect can be the very, very deadly enemy of the good. And so can drug-agency bureaucrats.

Comment: Image processing (Score 4, Interesting) 171

by fyngyrz (#47787737) Attached to: Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory

I use -- and write -- image processing software. Correct use of multiple cores results in *significant* increases in performance, far more than single digits. I have a dual 4-core, 3 GHz mac pro, and I can control the threading of my algorithms on a per-core basis, and every core adds more speed when the algorithms are designed such that a region stays with one core and so remains in-cache for the duration of the hard work.

The key there is to keep main memory from becoming the bottleneck, which it immediately will do if you just sweep along through your data top to bottom (presuming your data is bigger than the cache, which is typoically the case with DSLRs today.) Now, if they ever get main memory to us that runs as fast as the actual CPU, that'll be a different matter, but we're not even close at this point in time.

So it really depends on what you're doing, and how *well* you're doing it. Understanding the limitations of memory and cache is critical to effective use of multicore resources. You're not going to find a lot of code that does that sort of thing outside of very large data processing, and many individuals don't do that kind of data processing at all, or only do it so rarely that speed is not the key issue, only results matter. But there are certainly common use cases where keeping a machine for ten years would use up valuable time in an unacceptable manner. As a user, I am constantly editing my own images with global effects, and so multiple fast cores make a real difference for me. A single core machine is crippled by comparison.

Comment: Sources of water (Score 1) 520

by fyngyrz (#47787677) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

The moisture source for lakes and rivers is -- inevitably -- precipitation over lands upstream. Either as direct runoff, or as recurring eruptions from underground aquifers. If the prevailing winds don't bring the more humid air over the cooler, higher landscape, sure, you'll see drought. But you'd see it anyway, more heat or not. When the prevailing winds are bringing more moisture over those same types of terrain, you're going to see more precipitation, not less.

The historical record bears this out. When the earth is warmer, we get (a lot) more plant growth. That's simply not going to happen if the precipitation is reduced for any reason. And, at least as far as I am aware at this time, there is no mechanism that would cause reduction in precipitation. Warmer air holds more moisture, yes, and that effect is in full view in the tropics -- with deluge level rainfall when that moist air hits colder atmosphere and the moisture inevitably precipitates as rain. 400 inches / year as opposed to about 100 inches / year in otherwise similar temperate regions.

I would certainly agree that if the wind patterns change, then the rainfall will too. In both directions. But it seems a little farfetched to say that such changes will result in a consistent decrease in winds traveling onshore. What would such a claim be based upon?

Comment: Re: Impacts (Score 1) 520

by fyngyrz (#47787631) Attached to: Climate Damage 'Irreversible' According Leaked Climate Report

Is this year actually a warmer year? Didn't I just read that we're in a 20-year hiatus in the warming trend?

Yes, warmer air holds more moisture -- anyone who has worked the steam tables to convert between relative and absolute humidity knows that (and I have done so for my auroral photo opportunity prediction freeware), but it's also susceptible to precipitating more moisture when convection brings that moist air up into the colder altitudes. That's why tropical rainfall tends to be in deluges as compared to, for instance, the typical rain shower in Pennsylvania. We know for a fact that the tropics are warmer and wetter in terms of rainfall amounts per year -- and that since they are warmer, their air can hold more moisture. But that's not stopped them from having much more rainfall than anywhere else. While there certainly may be outlier statistics, the general case seems clearly to be: warmer = wetter = more rainfall.

Temperate rainforests get as much 100 inches / year. Tropical rainforests get up to 400 inches / year. If it's not the heat that's doing it, what do you propose is the mechanism?

If it *is* the heat that's doing it, then what is the mechanism where more heat, heat that corresponds with previous tropical climates in the earth's past, won't repeat the same effect here? Looking at the past CO2 level graphs as correlated with plant growth and temperature, there's a very strong correlation with CO2 and plant growth, and with temperature. Plants love CO2, but they still need moisture to survive, and where there's more plant growth, it's pretty much a certainty that there's a significant water supply.

So far, anyway, the idea of warming in the tropics -- or anywhere there's basically unlimited water and related prevailing winds -- leading to drought seems to be a non-starter.

It's not that I can't accept it, it's just that to accept it, I need a sound scientific reason to do so. Just saying that one expects drought in the tropics seems like hand-waving at this point. There are plenty of legitimate concerns - a slight, very, very slow rise in sea level, movement of crop-appropriate bands in cultivated areas, that sort of thing, but tropical drought doesn't appear to be one of them.

Also, recent news shows increased plant growth worldwide... something to think about in a situation where CO2 is known to be increasing at an accelerated rate.

Comment: Re:Employers don't want employees who LOOK lazy. (Score 2) 128

by bill_mcgonigle (#47785833) Attached to: Coffee Naps Better For Alertness Than Coffee Or Naps Alone

I personally got in it because I like the idea of solving problems, rather than taking care of them for a short while.

Just don't mistake any of the trades for not being problem-solving professions. Laying out a plumbing stack, electrical plan, etc. and making it work seamlessly (err... perfectly), or welding together a skyscraper are very valid and worthy problem solving engagements. Same with shoeing a horse from rods of iron. You just get to move more in these jobs.

I'd love to hear from somebody who feels that writing a finance report module is more worthy an endeavour than building a house for a family. I'm not even confident that it could be proven to be a better productivity enhancer on a macro level as your report module will be thrown away in a few years, but that house will be there for a century.

Comment: Re:Even Better idea... (Score 1) 244

End every punishment doled out by the government without a trial by jury.

Hey, but 93% of prosecutions end in plea bargains; we could not have nearly so many codified crimes and extensive prison systems if every person received a trial by a jury of his peers!

You monster - those prison guards have families to feed!

Comment: Re:This Just In! (Score 1) 108

by bill_mcgonigle (#47785587) Attached to: How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

Because you can't have the government competing with them in an area that they might, someday, begin to consider serving.

Yeah, so ... don't let them hear this too loudly ... one way to get Comcast into a town (where that's the only neighboring monopoly) is to lay out plans on paper to have a market competitor build out a WISP to serve the town. It doesn't even have to be a great-coverage plan and you don't have to have affordable backhaul, but have some public hearings and make sure the papers cover it thoroughly - Comcast will be along shortly to talk to the town administrators about pulling cable, on their dime.

I've even seen this happen in sequence, from town to town.

Comment: Re:Jail them for contempt (Score 1) 244

It's long past time that federal judges start jailing these bureaucrats for contempt for not answering simple questions about the no-fly list.

Your mistake is assuming that the judges are interested in rule of law and justice, rather than perpetuation of the power of the State, and by extension their cushy jobs, pensions, and really nice cars and houses. When the first excuses the latter, you'll find synchronicity, but not by the converse. Otherwise a simple constitutional challenge would not be thrown out in deference to statute in 99.3% of cases.

You're probably thinking of Jedi, not Federal Judges. *Big* difference (and this is why we can't have nice things).

Comment: Re:No-Fly List, TSA, nudeo scanners. it's all thea (Score 1) 244

Billions spent, law abiding people treated like criminals without due process

And where exactly do you think it's spelled out plainly that the government may not deprive you of liberty without due process of law?

Is there something relevant in 2014 that says this? And by relevant, I mean something that the People are willing to fight to protect?

Comment: Re:Crowding Out Effect (Score 1) 108

by bill_mcgonigle (#47785319) Attached to: How Big Telecom Smothers Municipal Broadband

The truth is that infrastructure just isn't that conducive to competition.

Heh, just ten years ago I heard people saying that - shortly before Comcast offered phone service and before Verizon offered TV service. Both cable TV and telephone were "natural monopolies" before they weren't. To offer that Verizon had to replace their entire cable plant and Comcast had to replace much of it. What they didn't have to do was go through an extremely expensive political and regulatory process to get access to pole space (in the "public right of way").

Who'd want 3 different water/sewer systems connected to their house?

When the first two are charging $1000/mo for water and the third offers it for $50 a month, then the cost of laying the new piping can be amortized over a short enough time period that either customers or investors are willing to put up the money for the time-value return of the subscribers' rates.

It's exactly the same calculation for anything anybody calls a 'natural monopoly'. Absent an interfering government, the money flows to the best service provider.

Comment: Re:OK Another one (Score 4, Funny) 88

by bill_mcgonigle (#47785249) Attached to: Astronomers Find What May Be the Closest Exoplanet So Far

It might even have a thin enough atmosphere to not completely crush a human.

If the gravity isn't too high, we can engineer around all the rest. Ought to be just fine for bots if the solder doesn't flow at its temps. A giant pot of natural resources at 11LY is very exciting for colonials!

Chemist who falls in acid will be tripping for weeks.