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Comment: Clueless (Score 1) 50

by Animats (#47911665) Attached to: New Data Center Protects Against Solar Storm and Nuclear EMPs

This keeps coming up. The effects of an electromagnetic pulse and a solar storm are completely different. EMP is a big RF pulse with a risetime in the nanoseconds. This is a risk to input transistors connected to external wiring. Twisted pair, coax, and small mobile devices are relatively immune. Fiber optics are totally immune.

Solar storms induce DC voltages across long distances of conductive landscape. This is a risk only to transformers with grounded center taps connected to long transmission lines.

Here are the PJM power grid emergency procedures for geomagnetic events. They had to be implemented for a day two years ago. Almost nobody outside of power grid operators noticed.

Comment: Re:why? (Score 1) 177

by TheRaven64 (#47907301) Attached to: Oculus Rift CEO Says Classrooms of the Future Will Be In VR Goggles
Add to that, about 10-20% of the population get motion sick using the kind of VR in Oculus Rift (myself included - I can use it for 2-5 minutes, depending on the mode). It's ludicrous to imagine building a school that would exclude 20% of the potential pupils on some random criterion. You might as well make schools that didn't let in gingers...

Comment: Re:intel atom systems keep 32 bit systems around (Score 1) 127

by TheRaven64 (#47907067) Attached to: Chrome For Mac Drops 32-bit Build
Apple already ships 64-bit ARM chips and a lot of other vendors are racing to do so. The Android manufacturers that I've spoken want 64-bit for the same reason that they want 8-core: It's a marketing checkbox and they don't want to be shipping a 32-bit handset when their competitor is marketing 64-bit as a must-have feature. ART is in the top 10 worst-written pieces of code I've had to deal with and is full of casts from pointers to int32_t (not even a typedef, let alone intptr_t), but it should get a 64-bit port soon.

Comment: Re:The ones I witnessed... (Score 1) 127

by TheRaven64 (#47907057) Attached to: Chrome For Mac Drops 32-bit Build
64-bit is here for a while. A lot of modern '64-bit' CPUs only support 40-bit physical addresses, so are limited to 'only' 128GB of RAM. Most support 48-bit virtual addresses (the top bit is sign extended, so all 1 or all 0 depending on whether you've got a kernel or userspace address), limiting you to 'only' 32TB of virtual addresses. If RAM sizes continue to double once every year, then it takes another year to use each bit. We currently have some machines with 256GB of RAM, so are using 41 bits. 64 bits will last another 23 years. RAM increases have slowed a bit recently though. 10 years ago, you always wanted as much RAM as possible because you were probably swapping whatever you were doing. Now, most computers are happy with 2GB for programs and the rest for buffer cache. As SSDs get faster, there's less need for caching, but there might be more need for address space as people want to be able to memory map all the files that they access...

Comment: Re:It's not Google's fault. It's Mozilla's. (Score 1) 127

by TheRaven64 (#47906847) Attached to: Chrome For Mac Drops 32-bit Build

The real problem for Firefox is not the interface changes that people like you whine about, it's mobile. Now 30% of traffic is mobile and Firefox doesn't have an app for any Apple mobile devices and is effectively excluded from Android by Google's Microsoft-like illegal anti-competitive licensing deals with manufacturers (you can get the app, but it's not preloaded and only a few geeks ever would).

Huh? It's in the Google Play Market and is no harder to install than any other app. Once it's installed, the first time you click on a link from another app you're asked to choose the app that will handle links. I fall into the geek category (and so installed it from F-Droid, not Google Play), but found it trivial to switch to Firefox on the mobile. I mostly did because Chrome has spectacularly bad cookie management and I'd been trying to find a browser that did it better. Early Firefox ports were as bad, but now it's quite nice and with the Self Destructing Cookies add-on does exactly what I want.

The mobile is actually the only place I use Firefox...

Comment: Only Apple can't make sapphire work. (Score 0) 195

by Animats (#47903731) Attached to: Sapphire Glass Didn't Pass iPhone Drop Test According to Reports

Everybody who gets an iPhone immediately puts it into a rugged, generally rubberized, case.

That's pathetic. All that effort to make a super-thin device, and you have to put it another case to protect it. Nokia would laugh.

Get a non-toy phone.

It's amusing that Apple can't get sapphire-coated glass to work. Sapphire glass for checkout scanners is a standard product. Every Home Depot checkout scanner has sapphire-coated glass. People slide metal tools across those for years without damage.

Comment: Re: No, no. Let's not go there. Please. (Score 1) 854

by TheRaven64 (#47902613) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk
I recall reading some years ago that there are two kinds of atheists:
  • Those that disbelieve all religions.
  • Those that disbelieve all except one religion.

For some reason, people in the second category describe themselves as 'religious'. And yet you'll be hard-pressed to find, for example, a Christian who requires the same standards of evidence for the non-existence of the Norse, Egyptian, Greek or Hindu gods as he requires that an atheist from the first category provides for the non-existence of the Abrahamic god.

Comment: Machine intelligence (Score 1) 1

by mcgrew (#47901717) Attached to: Turing "Test" was Really Alan's Attempt at a Joke

I had an idea that might not be so dangerous and pulled out my fone. âoeComputer,â I said, âoewhat's the best way to knock that bitch out?â
        The fone said âoeParse error, there are no female dogs on board and âknockâ(TM) is not in context. Please rephrase.â
        Who programs these God damned stupid things, anyway? Back when computers were new, science fiction movies had computers that could think. These stupid computers sure can't. God damn it, I was going to have to talk like I went to college... only I ain't went to college, damn it.

Comment: Voice operation of smartphones sucks (Score 1) 319

by Animats (#47900405) Attached to: Technological Solution For Texting While Driving Struggles For Traction

The smartphone crowd assumes they own the user's eyeballs. They don't. What's needed is better voice integration. You should be able to call, receive calls, text, and receive texts via a Bluetooth headset with the phone in your pocket.

Android sucks at this. My Samsung flip-phone had better voice dialing than my Android phone. Wildfire, which is from 1997, did this quite well. But it was really expensive to do back then, and was priced as high as $250/month. Then Microsoft bought Wildfire and abandoned the product.

Comment: A secular morality that once was popular in the US (Score 4, Interesting) 854

by Animats (#47900281) Attached to: Why Atheists Need Captain Kirk

Business used to have a completely secular moral compass. Rotary International has their The Four-Way Test, a "nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships." Rotarians recite it at club meetings.

Of the things we think, say or do

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

This is a morality for business. That's a concept that sounds archaic today. It was mainstream from about 1940 to 1975. Many small business owners used to belong to Rotary, especially in small towns. What went wrong? That's a long story, and has to do with the decline in the political power of small business.

Anyway, that's a completely non-religious moral system which is still around and once was mainstream.

Comment: High-power industrial civilization may not last. (Score 5, Insightful) 190

by Animats (#47898477) Attached to: The Future According To Stanislaw Lem

Records of human civilization go back over 3000 years. Industrial civilization goes back less than 200. A good starting point is the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830, the first non-demo steam passenger railway. There were earlier locomotives, but this is the moment the industrial revolution got out of beta and started changing people's lives.

Only in the last 80 years or so has human exploitation of natural resources been able to significantly deplete them. Prior to WWII, human efforts just couldn't make a big dent in the planet. Things have picked up since then.

There are lots of arguments over when we start running out of key resource. But the arguments are over decades, not centuries or millenia. The USGS issues mineral commodity summaries. There are decades of resources left for most minerals, but a lot of things run out within 200 years. Mining lower and lower grade ores requires more and more effort and energy. For many minerals, that's already happened. People once found gold nuggets on the surface of the earth. The deepest gold mine is now 4 miles deep.

For many minerals, the easy to extract ores were used up long ago. Industrial civilization got going based on copper, lead, iron, and coal found in high concentrations on or near the surface. All those resources were mined first, and are gone. You only get one chance at industrial civilization per planet.

Civilization can go on, but it will have to be more bio-based than mining-based. Energy isn't the problem; there are renewable sources of energy. Metals can be recycled, but you lose some every round. It's not clear what this planet will look like in a thousand years. It's clear that a lot of things will be scarcer.

(And no, asteroid mining probably won't help much.)

Comment: Re:Combined (Score 3, Insightful) 119

by Animats (#47897955) Attached to: The Challenges and Threats of Automated Lip Reading

The most obvious approach is to combine the 2 methods - much like humans do, especially in noisy environments.

Right. Especially since, when you're looking at your smartphone, it's looking back at you.

This would be valuable for vehicle driver speech input, which has to reject a lot of noise.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Fifty

Journal by mcgrew

Mars!
John and Destiny left the houseboat parked on a space port pad they had rented at the spaceport at the Meridian Bay dome and got in a cab. Destiny said "I don't want to shop on an empty stomach. Taxi, take us to a restaurant that serves eggs and pork sausage this time of day."
"Wow," John said. "That's going to be an expensive place."
"Well, I'm buying. You said you never tried pork sa

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