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Comment Re: society of fear (Score 1) 190 190

It is illogical; but these are well documented biases in human risk perception(individual and, alas, institutional): We fear risk more if we perceive ourselves as having no control over the situation(so, would rather risk a crash themselves than be at the mercy of even an expert other driver). We also fear risks imposed by other people more than those imposed by 'natural' or 'chance' causes, hence the fear of 'criminals' being greater than that of burning to death.

Comment Re: Food Allergies (Score 1) 190 190

Amphetamine Deficiency Disorder is a very real and tragically under treated condition. Do you think those poor bastards paying black market prices for God-knows-what crap cooked up in somebody's trailer would be doing so if they could just get a nice, cheap, legal bottle of pep pills at their local pharmacy?

Comment Re:some, at least, are already in widespread use (Score 1) 190 190

Unfortunately, the 'standardization' part is where this proposal seems most challenged(though, in principle it seems like a good idea). Section C-2) of the proposal form is:

"2. Has contact been made to members of the user community (for example: National Body, user groups of the script or characters, other experts, etc.)? "

The submitter answers 'No'. That's a problem. The Unicode Consortium standardizes the codepoint representation of glyphs across systems; but they have zero power(and aren't supposed to be the go-to) for designing or standardizing symbols, much less symbols that really need to be legally mandated to be useful(eg. all the 'gluten-free' as in 'we cater to fad diets' vs. 'gluten free' as in 'we maintain the same rigorous standards that a celiac disease patient's immune system does.' can be a nasty one).

As long as the 'peanut' emoji can mean anything from 'processed on equipment also used to process peanuts' to 'yup, this is the pad thai with peanut chunks on top'; it just isn't much good. If even a regional body(US, EU, one of the BRICs, somebody) or a standards entity promulgated symbols(like the well standardized and often legally binding ones used for marking hazardous goods in shipping and transport); then hell yeah, give them Unicode representations. Until then, though, this is just a proposal to add pictures of food objects, a less-than-helpful and nigh unlimited project.

Comment Re:because Gamers are really Graphics Snobs (Score 2) 55 55

"HD" is an unfortunate bullshit marketing term that should be taken out and beaten to death with the same shovel used to dig its shallow grave; but that doesn't change the fact that there are 'textures that look really atrocious on a contemporary high-ish resolution LCD; despite having looked OK in my memories of the game as played on by a CRT TV being fed a composite video signal'. And, because Capcom are just that lazy, Resident Evil 4 HD apparently has them.

The fact that "HD" carefully avoids meaning anything specific, while vaguely suggesting better sensory experiences worth paying more for, is obnoxious; but that doesn't change the fact that time has not been kind to some games; and some of the sins that phosphor dots and analog video used to smear into a warm glow just turn into a swarm of razor-sharp jagged pixels and offend your eyes mercilessly on newer hardware. Low resolution textures are one of those sins, probably among the worst(low-poly models don't look very realistic; but they don't grate on you), and one that doesn't get fixed as often because redoing a big chunk of art assets is a lot of trouble.

Comment Shouldn't this work the other way? (Score 5, Insightful) 190 190

This doesn't seem like an intrinsically bad idea; things like the GHS hazard pictograms, DIN 4844-2, ISO 3864, TSCA marks, and similar such things seem like perfectly reasonable additions to Unicode(some of them are already there).

What seems like more of a problem is the idea that the Unicode Consortium is out there fishing for ideas. A project of that scope has more than enough backlog to work through; what possible benefit could there be in putzing around internally with ideas for stuff that hasn't been codified by any relevant user groups, standards bodies, experts, national standards, etc? If they think that they have free time for that, they probably aren't looking hard enough at the stew of natural languages and commonly used symbols out there.

The original round of unicode-ified emoji, while puerile and obnoxious, were at least a solid instance of one of the Consortium's functions: the symbols were in wide use; but saddled with a horrible mess of legacy encoding schemes and general awfulness, so the only thing to do was wade in, hand out code points, and hope that the legacy systems could be burned to the ground as soon as possible. Same reason why parts of Unicode have substantial amounts of duplication, single characters that should be represented as composites, and so on; because various legacy standards had to die.

Here, though, there is no obvious existing standard being modeled on, nor any interoperability issue being solved. If somebody wants Unicode to have a picture of absolutely everything; maybe they should go work on graphics format standards.

Comment Umm, I hope that translation is to blame. (Score 1) 35 35

I really hope that "proud to declare that we are at the cusp of a reclaiming our heritage of being connected to each other and connected to the world." made a lot more sense before some translator mangled it; because otherwise it seems like absurd nonsense. If people were connected long enough and far enough back in time for it to count as 'heritage', the technology behind those connections must have been comparatively primitive. Is he saying that communications have regressed since that time? What golden age of connectedness is he talking about?

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 239 239

I didn't make it suitably clear; but the 'complexity' is really more of a historical issue. The fact that you can get power transistors, digital logic, and similar solid-state goodness for peanuts, possibly even less than the carbon brushes or other electromechanical alternatives, is a comparatively recent thing in historical terms.

Now that you can, doing so is pretty compelling for any but the highest-power tasks; but it has not always been the case that you can throw semiconductors at a problem for astonishingly tiny amounts of money. Today it is; but a lot of very clever electromechanical, inductive, and similar tricks were developed during the time that it was not.

Comment Re:Low cost chip, high cost support (Score 3, Interesting) 91 91

What I find a bit weird about SPARC's near-total obscurity is that(please correct me if I'm wrong on the details; but to the best of my understanding from what I've read) the ISA is available for use on a royalty-free basis, and there are even a few BSD or GPL verilog implementations out there. That's even less encumbered than MIPS(which has some patents that the owners like to wave around on a couple of useful instructions).

My naive expectation would have been that SPARC on such liberal terms would show up a bit more often embedded in various chips that need some sort of CPU to do housekeeping, as the ISA of security and/or nationalism driven 'indigenous technology' efforts, and potentially even as the cheaper-than-ARM option for application processors.

Clearly that hasn't actually happened, and it's mostly ARM in SoCs and application processors(with PPC holding out in certain automotive and networking niches for some reason; and MIPS in router SoCs and the occasional Chinese vanity project); so ARM's license fees must just not sting that much.

Building SPARC parts that go toe to toe with Xeons would obviously be a much more ambitious project(as well as an act of directly fucking with Intel's juciest margins, which they probably won't take very kindly); but I am surprised by the fact that SPARC is so rare among the zillions of devices that have no need for x86 compatibility and are mostly about delivering performance in the gap between beefy microcontrollers and weak desktops for as little money as possible.

Comment Re:Disappointed (Score 2) 239 239

The competition for good DC-DC conversion is reasonably fierce(given the existence of DC telco and datacenter operations, and the fact that even 'AC' shops are really just doing the conversion in each chassis(and unlike the old AT PSU days, an ever larger chunk of the output power is 12v going directly to a DC-DC converter on the motherboard to feed the CPU and RAM, with fewer and fewer components, aside from HDD motors, being sufficiently high voltage to feed directly from the PSU); so even modest improvements in DC-DC efficiency would make you quite wealthy indeed.

I haven't kept a close eye; but I think that the present standard for DC-DC modules still uses a number of off-chip components(whether because the needed capacitance and such simply can't be done in silicon, or are cheaper as discretes, I don't know); but you can get some very, very, dense little modules.

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 239 239

Especially if you are dealing with solar-derived DC, which is going to be (reasonably) steady. For some purposes, it doesn't matter that much whether or not the voltage actually crosses zero; but the ripple is essential if you want the magnetics to work correctly. If you have to go to the trouble of switching the DC to get that working, odds are that it's time for a pure DC design.

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 239 239

There are good reasons to be skeptical of complexity(such as basically all software); but at least for motors small enough that solid state switching isn't heroically expensive and/or practically disposable, 'complex' and 'digital' also mean 'has convenient ways to monitor and control the motor's activity in some detail'. Simple is good; but when the complexity is in solid-state parts you get a serious discount and sometimes some cool features.

Comment Re:Why not both? (Score 1) 239 239

Certainly possible; but probably only efficient or sufficiently cheap for some items.

My (admittedly limited) understanding is that motors are one of the parts where you can get a relatively refined and mature design for almost any remotely normal flavor of electrical input; but the design of the motor is going to reflect your choice, and work either inefficiently or not at all from some other input. Since AC units are basically all motor(some fans, a compressor, maybe a pump), that is a problem.

Some devices just don't care very much(resistive heating works for basically anything except voltages too much lower than the system was designed for); and others(pretty much all modern electronics) always use DC internally, so you can re-use almost the entire design; but need to choose the correct PSU. Some hardware makes swapping one after the fact really obnoxious; but at very least it's an easy thing to choose at assembly time.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein