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Polls on the front page of Slashdot? Is the world coming to an end?! Nope; read more about it. ×

Comment: Re:Polls on the Front page are stupid (Score 2) 89

by TheRaven64 (#49823041) Attached to: Enter the Polls! Now On the Front Page
Exactly. I generally don't look at the polls until I'm bored and there's nothing interesting on the front page, then go and read the comments it's collected. Sometimes I'll see an interesting poll, comment early, and then go back a week or so later once it has a few hundred comments. This is a stupid idea.

That said, the front page also has a 'Video Bytes' line half way down full of crap, so I guess someone is really keen on killing the site. Thank $DEITY for Soylent News...

Comment: Re:Also-ran? (Score 5, Interesting) 40

by TheRaven64 (#49820617) Attached to: Nokia Shifts To Selling Back-End Systems To Mobile Networks

Nokia has also been in the market of selling the infrastructure for mobile networks for a long time. And, unlike the handsets, this is a very profitable place to be. Both Nokia and Ericsson saw the commoditisation of the handset market and Nokia in particular watched their margins evaporate and decided it was time to get out. But because they're now no longer in the public eye, they're perceived as losing. Now their customers are people who make money from the products that they sell, so are willing to pay a reasonable premium because a few minutes of downtime costs far more.

Of course, when Apple decides to concentrate on the high-margin part of a business, no one claims that they're dying, because they concentrate on a consumer-visible part of the market.

Comment: Re:Layoffs (Score 1) 63

by TheRaven64 (#49815263) Attached to: Intel To Buy Altera For $16.7 Billion

There's some overlap. Altera FPGAs have lots of fixed-function blocks on them, ranging from simple block RAMs to fast floating point units. There's a good chance that Intel could reuse some of their existing designs (which, after all, are already optimised for their manufacturing process) from things like AVX units and caches on x86 chips. A lot of the FPGAs also include things like PCIe, USB, Ethernet and so on controllers. Again, Intel makes these in their chipset division and, again, they're optimised for Intel's process so being able to stick them on FPGAs instead of the Altera ones would make sense.

The main reason that you're probably right is that Intel is generally pretty bad at getting their own internal divisions to play nicely together, let alone ones that are used to being in a completely separate company.

Comment: Re:So, what's the plan? (Score 2) 63

by TheRaven64 (#49815081) Attached to: Intel To Buy Altera For $16.7 Billion

My guess would be coarse-grained reconfigurable architectures. Altera FPGAs aren't just FPGAs, they also have a load of fixed-function blocks. The kinds of signal processing that the other poster talks about work because there are various floating point blocks on the FPGA and so you're using the programmable part to connect a sequence of these operations together without any instruction fetch/decode or register renaming overhead (you'd be surprised how much of the die area of a modern CPU is register renaming and how little is ALUs).

FPGAs are great for prototyping (we've built an experimental CPU as a softcore that runs on an Altera FPGA at 100MHz), but there are a lot of applications that could be made faster by being able to wire a set of SSE / AVX execution units together into a fixed chain and just fire data at them.

Comment: Re:Do these companies really hate people so much.. (Score 1) 225

That minimum wage guy is one of the major costs for a taxi company. The IRS rates miles driven in a car at a little under 60/mile, which should cover maintenance, depreciation, insurance and fuel. A taxi that only had these costs could be quite profitable at 70/mile. In New York, taxis cost $2/mile, which isn't that far off other places in the USA. The minimum wage guy needs to be paid even when the taxi is waiting for the next fare. With an automated car, you'd just leave them scattered around the city powered down and turn on the closest one when you got a new job.

Comment: Re:I agree and disagree (Score 2) 183

A Kickstarter-like model would work. Release a single for free, designate an amount that you think the full album is worth. If enough people are willing to pay, then you release the album for free. For the second album, hopefully enough people have copied the first that you don't need to do much to encourage them to pay for the second. As an added bonus, you can reduce your up-front costs by only renting the studio time to record the first track and only record the rest once people have paid for it.

Recording a song (at least, a song that people want to buy) requires talent, creativity, and often expensive instruments and studio time. Copying a song once it's recorded is basically free. Any business model that relies on doing the difficult thing for free and then trying to persuade people to pay for you to do the easy thing is doomed to failure. Imagine if Ford had noticed that people wanted coloured cars and decided to give away unpainted cars and charge for painting them, then bribed politicians to pass laws so that only Ford was allowed to paint cars Ford sold and driving an unpainted car on the road was illegal. It wouldn't take people long to realise that this was a stupid business model and that you could get rid of the laws and charge for the cars, but in the case of copyright people are still trying very hard to make the 'free car, expensive and exclusive paint' model work with different variations.

Comment: Actually... (Score 5, Interesting) 351

by denzacar (#49809145) Attached to: How Elon Musk's Growing Empire is Fueled By Government Subsidies

so the early auto producers managed to get the US to redo all of it's roads.

Early auto producers exploited the decades of lobbying already done by cyclists.

Carlton Reid
19th century cyclists paved the way for modern motorists' roads
Car drivers assume the roads were built for them, but it was cyclists who first lobbied for flat roads more than 100 years ago

Wooden hobbyhorses evolved into velocipedes; velocipedes evolved into safety bicycles; safety bicycles evolved into automobiles.

It's well known that the automotive industry grew from seeds planted in the fertile soil that was the late 19th century bicycle market. And to many motorists it's back in the 19th century that bicycles belong. Cars are deemed to be modern; bicycles are Victorian.

Many motorists also assume that roads were built for them. In fact, cars are the johnny-come-latelies of highways.

The hard, flat road surfaces we take for granted are relatively new. Asphalt surfaces weren't widespread until the 1930s. So, are motorists to thank for this smoothness?

No. The improvement of roads was first lobbied for - and paid for - by cycling organisations.

In the UK and the US, cyclists lobbied for better road surfaces for a full 30 years before motoring organisations did the same. Cyclists were ahead of their time.

When railways took off from the 1840s, the coaching trade died, leaving roads almost unused and in poor condition. Cyclists were the first vehicle operators in a generation to go on long journeys, town to town. Cyclists helped save many roads from being grubbed up.

Roads in towns were sometimes well surfaced. Poor areas were cobbled; upmarket areas were covered in granite setts (what many localities call cobbles). Pretty much every other road was left unsurfaced and would be the colour of the local stone. Many 19th century authors waxed lyrical about the varied and beautiful colours of British roads.

Cyclists' organisations, such as Cyclists' Touring Club in the UK and League of American Wheelmen (LAW) in the US, lobbied county surveyors and politicians to build better roads. The US Good Roads movement, set up by LAW, was highly influential. LAW once had the then US president turn up at its annual general meeting.

The CTC individual in charge of the UK version of the Good Roads movement, William Rees Jeffreys, organised asphalt trials before cars became common. He took the reins of the Roads Improvement Association (RIA) in 1890, while working for the CTC.

He later became an arch motorist and the RIA morphed into a motoring organisation. Rees Jeffreys called for motorways in Britain 50 years prior to their introduction. But he never forgot his roots. In a 1949 book, Rees Jeffreys - described by former prime minister David Lloyd George as "the greatest authority on roads in the United Kingdom and one of the greatest in the whole world" â" wrote that cyclists paved the way, as it were, for motorists. Without the efforts of cyclists, he said, motorists would not have had as many roads to drive on. Lots of other authors in the early days of motoring said the same but this debt owed to cyclists by motorists is long forgotten.

The CTC created the RIA in 1885 and, in 1886, organised the first ever Roads Conference in Britain. With patronage - and cash - from aristocrats and royals, the CTC published influential pamphlets on road design and how to create better road surfaces. In some areas, county surveyors took this on board (some were CTC members) and started to improve their local roads.

Even though it was started and paid for by cyclists, the RIA stressed from its foundation that it was lobbying for better roads to be used by all, not just cyclists.

However, in 1896 everything changed. Motoring big-wigs lobbied for the Locomotives Amendment Act to be repealed. This act made a driver of a road locomotive drive very, very slowly and the vehicle had to be preceded by a man waving a red flag. When the act was jettisoned, speeds increased, automobilists demanded better road surfaces to go even faster on, and "scorchers" and "road hogs", terms first used against cyclists, took over the roads.

By the early 1900s most British motorists had forgotten about the debt they owed to prehistoric track builders, the Romans, turnpike trusts, John McAdam, Thomas Telford and bicyclists. Before even one road had been built with motorcars in mind (this wasn't to happen until the 1930s), motorists assumed the mantle of overlords of the road.

A satirical verse in Punch magazine of 1907 summed up this attitude from some drivers:

        "The roads were made for me; years ago they were made. Wise rulers saw me coming and made roads. Now that I am come they go on making roads - making them up. For I break things. Roads I break and Rules of the Road. Statutory limits were made for me. I break them. I break the dull silence of the country. Sometimes I break down, and thousands flock round me, so that I dislocate the traffic. But I am the Traffic."

At the time, the CTC had little inkling cyclists would soon be usurped. An editorial in the CTC Gazette of July 1896 admitted the "horseless carriage movement will make an irresistible advance" and asked members whether motorists should be admitted to membership. Such a move was declined by members but cyclists were later instrumental in the foundation of the Automobile Association, an organisation created to foil police speed traps.

Motoring and cycling soon developed in very different directions and by the 1950s it was clear the future was to be one of mass ownership of cars. Car mileage increased, roads were now always designed with motors in mind, and, rider by rider, cyclists - once dominant on Britain's roads - started to disappear. In the evolutionary timeline of hobbyhorse-to-velocipide-to-bicycle-to-automobile, the riding of bicycles should have been all but extinguished by the 1970s. Town planners certainly thought that way, and declined to design for anything other than motorcars.

But there's a problem with mass car ownership: there's not enough space to put them all. Gridlock is the unforeseen outcome of planning solely for cars. When a city grinds to a halt, that's money down the drain. Cities are waking up to the fact that unrestrained car use is bad for people, and bad for the local economy. Unrestrained car use leads to ugly cities.

Now, the cities that first woke up to this are the bicycle-friendly cities beloved by cycle campaigners.

Towns and cities that design for people, not machines, will be the most progressive of the next 150 years, the towns and cities where people will most want to live, work and play. Far from being a 19th century anachronism, the bicycle is fast becoming a symbol of urban modernity, and cyclists are again at the vanguard of making cities better places. Cyclists have always been ahead of their time.

- Carlton Reid is executive editor of cycling trade magazine BikeBiz and is writing a book on cyclists' contribution to better roads. He has received writing grants from the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund and the Chartered Institute of Highways and Transportation

Comment: Re:Surprised? (Score 5, Informative) 98

It's an ABI mismatch, and the summary is nonsense, saying almost the exact opposite of TFA (which I actually read, because the summary is obvious nonsense). The issue is that the Windows ABI defines long double as being a 64-bit floating point value (which is fine, because the only requirement for long double is that it have no less precision than double. If you're using it and expecting some guaranteed precision for vaguely portable code then you're an idiot). For some reason, MinGW (which aims to be ABI-compatible with MS, at least for C libraries) uses 80-bit x87 values for long double, so you get truncation. I forget the exact calling conventions for Windows i386, but I believe that in some cases this will be silently hidden, as the value will be passed in x87 register and so be transparently extended to 80 bits in the caller and truncated in the callee anyway. It's only if it's passed on the stack (or indirectly via a pointer) that it's a problem.

It's not obvious which definition of long double is better. On modern x86, you'll use SSE for 32- and 64-bit values, and may lose precision moving between x87 and SSE registers. You also get worse IEEE compliance out of the x87 unit, which may matter more than the extra 16 bits of precision. 80-bit floats are not available on any platform other than x86 (128-bit is more common, though PowerPC has its own special non-IEEE version of these and on some other platforms they're entirely done in software), so they're a bad choice if you want portable code that generates the same output on different platforms.

Comment: Re:Hilarious! (Score 1) 220

by TheRaven64 (#49798705) Attached to: Chinese Nationals Accused of Taking SATs For Others

The same is true of university exams. My undergraduate exams, for example, mostly required that you answer two of three questions per exam. To get a first (for people outside the UK: the highest classification), you needed to get 70%. Most questions were around 40% knowledge and 60% application of the knowledge. If you could predict the topics that the examiner would pick, then that meant that you could immediately discard a third of the material. To get the top grade, you needed to get 100% in one question and 40% in another. This meant that you could understand a third of the material really well and understand another third well enough to get the repetition marks, but not the understanding ones and still get the top grade. This meant that you could study 50% of the material and still do very well in the exams, as long as you picked the correct 50%. And some of the lecturers were very predictable when setting exams...

Comment: Re:Doesn't get it (Score 1) 306

What jobs do you imagine existing in 10-20 years that don't require some understanding of programming? I thought my stepfather, as head greenskeeper at a golf course might have had one before he retired, but it turns out that the irrigation system that he had to use came with a domain-specific programming language for controlling it. A lot of farm equipment is moving in the same direction. Office jobs generally require either wasting a lot of time, or learning a bit of scripting (hint: the employees who opt for the first choice are not going to be the ones that keep their jobs for long). Jobs that don't require any programming are the ones that are easy to automate.

But, of course, we don't need to teach our children to write. After all, they can always hire a scribe if they need to and there really aren't enough jobs for scribes to justify teaching it to everyone.

Comment: Re:Impractical (Score 1) 588

by TheRaven64 (#49798347) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
Why would I be stuck with the connector? For one thing, you can easily install adaptors - even if you'd rolled out USB A or B sockets, they'd still be supported everywhere and you can buy adaptors very cheaply. The main problem with a USB A socket (which is really the only one of the previous ones that you'd consider for charging) is the low power - it can only provide about 10W, even if you have some adaptor. USB C can provide 100W, and 100W seems like enough for a DC supply for quite a while.

But if I'd rolled out USB A sockets in 1995, I don't think I'd object strongly to replacing the faceplates on the sockets with USB C ones in the next five years, if the wires in the wall could supply the required power.

I have yet to see a USB-C connector yet, and I am usually a first adopter.

No one you know has a MacBook Air? Most of the next generation of mobiles are going to have USB C (Apple and Google are among the bigger backers), so expect to see a lot of them appearing.

Comment: Re:Important Question: WHICH DC? (Score 1) 588

by TheRaven64 (#49798309) Attached to: How Tesla Batteries Will Force Home Wiring To Go Low Voltage
If you connect one of these to the existing AC main, then you're just moving the well wart into the socket. You still have one AC to DC converter for each device, and that particular device can only provide 2.1A at 5V, which is well below what USB-C supports (no charging a MacBook Air from it, for example).

Comment: we'll lose our greatest satisifaction in life (Score 1) 685

by epine (#49796637) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Happens If We Perfect Age Reversing?

When you're dealing with some obstreperous functionary who is leaning on status and authority rather than knowledge or competence, it will no longer be possible to think to yourself:

this asshole, too, will soon be departed

With the loss of life's great equalizer, about the first thing to happen is that the entire population goes into legacy mode.

It'll be like all those crappy ISA cards with jumper blocks in the back of your ugliest junk drawer that you never get rid of because, technically, they still work perfectly fine.

Only it will be the humans with ugly jumper blocks (slavery, racism, sexism, elitism, ageism, gated-community-ism) that live to be 10,000 years old and never "get with the times" because "the times" themselves have shuffled off their mortal coil.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton