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Comment We are screwed. (Score 4, Insightful) 53

So, 3.6 Gb/s is cool and all; but I did a quick check and Verizon is calling 18GB/month the 'XXL' plan, so this appears to be largely an exercise in accruing overage fees even faster.

It seems like what will matter much more(unless somebody is planning to use the same tech for highly directional point-to-point wireless links, in which case raw speed is pretty useful); is how well these '5G' arrangements handle congestion; and how efficiently the amazing-fancy-theoretical-peak-throughput can be divided across a large number of users. Unless you are made of money, the problem with wireless data isn't so much how slow it is; but how costly it is(in part because of scarcity, which more efficient RF technology might actually alleviate, the 'because we can' part is a separate issue); and how it has a habit of just collapsing in a screaming heap under heavy load.

If the impressive peak bandwidth numbers indicate a larger pool of usable transmission capacity extracted from a given chunk of spectrum, fantastic, that is progress. If they simply represent what you could do if a single client used every doesn't-play-well-with-others trick in the book to get better speeds, that's utterly useless.

Comment Re:Still loaded with shovelware (Score 1) 78

You don't get the "Browbeat your rep" option; but I'm pretty sure that Dell will sell you Optiplex and Latitude systems in quantity 1, if you have a credit card. I think even Precisions and at least the more boring Poweredge stuff should be available as well.

You obviously don't have to go with Dell; but unless they've changed something recently; buying small quantities of business class machines should be no more difficult than buying consumer grade.

Comment Re:either integrated Intel HD Graphics 530 or a po (Score 1) 78

There have been several different flavors of Intel Integrated/Nvidia combinations on the market; with slightly different requirements and options depending on the details of how they are implemented.

My memory is a little fuzzy; but I think that the earliest implementations had actual 'video out' from both the IGP and the GPU, with switching silicon on the motherboard that sent one or the other to the LCD. Those offered the most visible control over which graphics device was in use(the one that wasn't was more or less fully shut down); but I think you had to at least log out, possibly reboot, to switch between them; that era definitely had BIOS options for permanently setting one or the other.

OEMs didn't like the cost of the added switching silicon, and users didn't like the clunkiness of switching between GPUs, so subsequent generations refined the process, with increasingly seamless cooperation(I think that the standard now has only the intel IGP connected to the LCD and any video outs; but the Nvidia GPU can write to its framebuffer if it is taking care of a given graphical task, so it isn't actually possible for the IGP to ever be fully idle, though the Nvidia GPU can be); but a corresponding increase in unhelpfulness if you are trying to force a configuration that non Optimus aware drivers can recognize and work with.

My Linux and BSD systems don't do much in the way of graphics, so I don't know what the current state of support is.

Comment Re:Betting we'll see thermal issues. (Score 1) 78

I have yet to hear any clear explanation for why Intel appears less than cooperative about the idea of Thunderbolt being used for GPU purposes. There have been a few, heavily integrated and close to model-specific, releases; but the "Here is a box with an x16(mechanical) PCIe slot inside, and a thunderbolt port" market is pretty slim, with the exception of some very, very, expensive cardcages from outfits like Magma, clearly aimed at audiences with expansion cards that make gamer toys look disposably cheap.

Most of the tinkering you see skips Thunderbolt entirely and uses the PCIe 1x->16x adapters that became popular when GPU cryptocurrency mining became a craze; and connect those either to the 1x PCIe lane provided by an Expresscard slot; or the one provided by a mini-PCIe slot.

Comment Re:Beware of Dell Support - Worst I've seen (Score 1) 78

What he told you was true. From a certain point of view: Dell's 'consumer' support has traditionally been somewhere between 'as empty and pitiless as the dark spaces between the stars' and 'actively insulting'; but they've always recognized the value of treating enterprise customers properly(and the warranties cost more, to compensate). There have been some ignoble incidents(their handling of Optiplex GX270 capacitor-plague failures was so egregious it resulted in litigation; ironically the IT guys at the law firm defending Dell were fighting to get their own GX270s replaced with ones that worked at the same time the lawyers were making the case that Dell's handling of the matter was just fine...); but in general their Poweredge, Optiplex, Latitude, and Vostro lines all have pretty decent support; and offer excellent support as an option if you are willing to pay for it.

The 'Inspiron' line, for home peons, has traditionally been pretty atrocious. XPS tacks somewhere between the two; it's a bit more annoying if you are trying to operate at scale(unlike the business/enterprise support guys, they tend not to let you do the "I've already run the diagnostics, here are the error codes, now send me a new whatever" thing); but unlike the low-end home user guys, they don't treat you like a filthy cost center who should fuck off and die.

Comment Re:Non-IPS panels (Score 2) 78

In fairness to Windows, non-integer multiple resizing simply isn't possible to do well unless all your graphics are vector(and even then, the designer's care and attention can have a strong influence on whether the result actually looks good to people at different scales; but at least there is a mathematically 'correct' answer).

If you have bitmap elements, integer-multiple resizing is both relatively trivial and possible to do 'correctly'. Non-integer multiple, like lossy compression, can be done in surprisingly non-annoying ways; but it cannot be done without some violence to the original. Bicubic interpolation will look a whole hell of a lot better than nearest-neighbor; but there simply is no 'correct' way of mapping N pixels into some non-integer multiple of N pixels.

Windows tends to work even less well than the ideal case would suggest; but even if you completely discard all issues of legacy widget sets, horrible retro UI designs, etc. and sit down with a bitmap image in photoshop, resizing it by a non-integer multiple is going to be a matter of compromise.

Comment Re:Non-IPS panels (Score 1) 78

'4k' is glorious; but unless you have truly impressive eyes, it's hard to justify on any laptop you'd be willing to carry. Going from 2560 x 1440 to 3840 X 2160 on the desktop was even better than I expected; but that was on a 27-28ish inch display; and if details were any smaller they'd be actively uncomfortable.

On a display of half the diagonal size, in a situation where GPU and battery power are at a premium, it just seems a tad excessive.

Comment Re:Input devices (Score 1) 78

It'd be beautiful if you could get aftermarket keyboards with a trackpoint added. Probably not possible for most models(I would have expected the falling cost of silicon to make embedding the controller into the keyboard FRU and being able to use a lower pin-count USB/serial/i2C/whatever connection to the motherboard; rather than leaving the keyboard passive and running all the lines from the switch matrix more common; but most laptop keyboard connectors continue to be matrix-type with the actual keyboard controller on the motherboard, so you couldn't just add the pointing device without cooperation from the motherboard, unlike what the situation would be if the connector were just a USB port with a nonstandard connector).

Between Lenovo attempting to bring their own, inferior, ideas to the Thinkpad line's design, and their fuckery with assorted terrible preloaded crapware; it's a lot harder to get excited about a new Thinkpad; but going without a trackpoint would hurt.

In fairness, though, Dell appears to have really upped their game on design of late. These models aren't even Latitudes, and they are genuinely nice; rather than merely endurable and attractively priced(though the price isn't bad). Tempting.

Comment Re:A perfect example of why tech is cyclical.... (Score 2) 87

For sufficiently latency-insensitive operations I don't think that it has every really gone away; but my impression(based on hazy memory and anecdote, though I'd welcome anyone with actual numbers) is that, unless you live in an atypically favored location, the delta between the storage you can afford and what the ISP will sell you, much less at a price you can stomach, has actually increased over time, thanks to HDDs massively upping their game while ISPs have improved; but rather more slowly(especially on upload).

Comment Re:Theft waiting to happen (Score 2) 87

Unless they really screw up the encryption(in which case the value of some of the data being transported might be worthwhile); these things seem like they'd actually be pretty dubious theft options. Even new, 50TB worth of consumer grade disk(I assume that Amazon is using some redundancy; but probably isn't splurging on SAS or fancy-enterprise-SATA for disks that will spend most of their life with Fedex, not actually spinning) isn't actually all that valuable(4TB drives are ~$150 retail, 6TB ~$250) and 'used' is not a happy word when trying to sell a hard drive. Plus it's essentially certain that Amazon has every serial number, MAC address, etc. of every component in the box on record, so you are SOL if anyone ever checks.

It also wouldn't be too surprising if the case has some level of active anti-theft reporting. Given that sub-$100 cellphones have GPS, a cell modem, one or more accelerometers, and are built on SoCs with enough GPIO to connect a bunch of tamper switches/sensors to; it wouldn't be particularly impractical for the box to report its location, integrity, orientation, and vibration levels every 30 seconds for the entire trip. Not impossible to defeat; but you'd need to nab it in an area of no service and silence it(by force or RF-blocking container) before moving it elsewhere.

I'd certainly encrypt my data carefully before consigning it to either the post or the internet; but I'd be surprised if hitting these boxes would be a good risk/reward for postal employees(though I know I'd like a look at what is inside, a nice rugged network attached storage module is likely to be a neat piece of gear).

Comment Re: ZFS is nice... (Score 1) 267

But it's combined by the user at runtime, not by canocal. The GPL allows an end users to do this.

This is a way that people kid themselves about the GPL. If the user were really porting ZFS on their own, combining the work and never distributing it, that would work. But the user isn't combining it. The Ubuntu developer is creating instructions which explicitly load the driver into the kernel. These instructions are either a link script that references the kernel, or a pre-linked dynamic module. Creating those instructions and distributing them to the user is tantamount to performing the act on the user's system, under your control rather than the user's.

To show this with an analogy, suppose you placed a bomb in the user's system which would go off when they loaded the ZFS module. But Judge, you might say, I am innocent because the victim is actually the person who set off the bomb. All I did was distribute a harmless unexploded bomb.

So, it's clear that you can perform actions that have effects later in time and at a different place that are your action rather than the user's. That is what building a dynamic module or linking scripts does.

There is also the problem that the pieces, Linux and ZFS, are probably distributed together. There is specific language in the GPL to catch that.

A lot of people don't realize what they get charged with when they violate the GPL (or any license). They don't get charged with violating the license terms. They are charged with copyright infringement, and their defense is that they have a license. So, the defense has to prove that they were in conformance with every license term.

This is another situation where I would have a pretty easy time making the programmer look bad when they are deposed.

Comment Re:Hmm... (Score 1) 34

I'd honestly be a lot more optimistic/sympathetic to this sort of research(psychology and psychiatry certainly need all the help they can get at actually being useful, and minimally-invasive neuron-scale intervention is a likely avenue of research, both for better data gathering and for possible treatment); if we hadn't just learned about the whole "Lets get some hack psychologists to design our torture program; and then subvert more or less all the relevant parts of the American Psychological Association, including its ethics director, just for giggles, in order to provide an appearance of legality!" program.

I'm not one to be scared by the 'ooh, it looks sci-fi and icky; it must be evil!' school of medical ethics. We are creatures made of meat, subject to a wide variety of more and less ghastly medical problems; and there is no use pretending that some of the solutions are not going to involve ugly, meaty, hacking. It's just that the DoD would need to clean a lot of house(an exercise that they haven't even shown much interest in pretending to undertake), before I'd be capable of pretending that having them seeking to do it is anything but really creepy.

Comment Re:ZFS is nice... (Score 1) 267

Uh, that doesn't work. The problem is that doing exactly what you've written down is contriving to avoid your copyright responsibility by deliberately creating a structure in someone else's work which you believe would be a copyright insulator. If you went ahead and did this (I'm not saying that you personally would be the one at Ubuntu to do so), I'd love to be there when you are deposed. Part of my business is to feed attorneys questions when they cross-examine you. I have in a similar situation made a programmer look really bad, and the parties settled as soon as they saw the deposition and my expert report. See also my comment regarding how Oracle v. Google has changed this issue. You can't count on an API to be a copyright insulator in any context any longer.

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