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Comment Re:A "safety feature" (Score 1) 36 36

Thanks for the link. The report's gist seemed to be "Everyone should have realized that you shouldn't rely on the pilot to not flip a switch at the wrong time, the results of which will cause the spaceship to be destroyed", and then describing in detail the procedures that should have been in place to catch those sorts of issues, along with recommendations for future procedures to prevent this from happening.

As you said, it's a bit morbid, but this is generally how we learn how to make things better and safer on the bleeding edge of technology and engineering. After a serious accident, we examine the causes and look for ways we can do things better and more safely, at least in the ideal case.

Comment Re:Swift (Score 2) 133 133

Agreed. Swift makes it easier to program, but the notion that "anyone" can write apps is definitely a laugh. There are a lot of programmers who don't understand that some people have a really hard time with the core concepts and skills involved in creating software. It reminds me of math teachers who don't seem to understand that some people have a fairly difficult time with advanced mathematical subjects. People have different areas of competence, and not all are suited to be programmers. It's not just logic... you need to do some creative problem solving in formulating that logic, and you need to keep a LOT of complex things in your head all at the same time to get them to all mesh together at the end.

Still, I have no problems with the efforts to make programming easier. Anything that helps will not only make it easier for novices, but will also aid professional programmers. If you don't have to worry about the fiddly bits of the language (for instance, low-level memory management in C), then your attention can be directed to more important parts of your task. There's a reason higher-level languages are considered to be more productive for programmers.

I think some programmers get a bit defensive at the idea of novices stumbling into our professional domain. I honestly don't see it as a problem. We're nowhere near that magical "anyone can program" threshold, even with the "friendliest" languages people have tried to invent.

Comment Re:A simple proposition. (Score 5, Insightful) 143 143

You can put ads on a site without being a jerk about it. Make them small, non-animated, silent, and keep them out of the way of the content. Only a small minority of people tend to object to advertisements like that. It's when you start actively shoving them in people's faces, animating them, making them play video or sound, interspersing them misleadingly throughout the content, creating pop ups or pop-unders, and all that other sort of nonsense... that's when people get irritated enough to install ad-blockers.

This isn't a binary choice. Advertisement works just fine as long as it's kept to a reasonable level of non-annoyance. But time after time after time, we see that they just can't resist pushing things a bit too far and in turn pushing people to the point of taking action

Comment Re:If there was a criteria for safe unlocking (Score 3, Insightful) 36 36

I can't imagine the engineers who designed this wouldn't be aware of those consequences. In fact, I'd go so far as to call this a partial failure of the engineering department as well - specifically, the ones who created the cockpit controls. I mean, the spacecraft basically had a single lever in the cockpit which if pulled at the wrong time would result in the fiery destruction of the spacecraft and death to all aboard. That's a hell of a consequence for a single mistake in the cockpit.

Granted, clarity in hindsight and all that, but it just seems surprising to me that this possibility wasn't given more thought, given that this was a major feature of the spacecraft. You can imagine they're probably taking a second look at other systems and trying to figure out what the potential outcomes of human error might be and ways to mitigate those errors. At least, I hope they're doing that.

Comment A "safety feature" (Score 2) 36 36

It's interesting as the unique tail section was actually touted as a "safety feature" by the company. I'm not necessarily saying it can't be the case, but like any feature, even a safety feature (see: exploding airbags), defects or improper use can cause more harm than in it's absence.

The moveable booms are intended to provide a fail-safe mechanism for positioning SpaceShipTwo during the fiery re-entry into the atmosphere. Scaled pilots were well aware of what could happen if they unlocked the feather too late, but training about its early release were ignored, accident investigations found.

It's a bit strange, as it seems like such a fundamental error - not some obscure feature that could be overlooked. What pilot would say to himself "Hey, I know I'm supposed to unlock the tail at time X, but what the hell, why not just do it now?" It seems really strange that they wouldn't have precise procedures for this, since it's such a critical part of the entire design.

It's a hard way to learn a lesson like this.

Comment Re:How soon until x86 is dropped? (Score 1) 146 146

Yep, I agree. It's all about the data access, as I mentioned. When I said "there's no compiler on the planet" etc, I was talking about high-level optimizations, which tends to involve a lot of code and data restructuring at a fundamental level. It's a much simpler task by comparison to auto-parallelize/auto-vectorize loops, etc.

If the Cell SPUs had been cache-coherent and had direct access to DRAM

But that's a pretty big "if" there, as the SPUs didn't perform well under circumstances in which compiler-level micro-optimizations would normally work, as the overhead of the DMA transfers / context switches would tend to cancel out any potential gains. The reality for PS3 developers was that everything had to be excruciatingly hand-optimized for the peculiarities of that architecture.

Now, the relative similarity and simplicity of the PS4/Xbone are a blessing in comparison, because optimizations tend to work equally well on both platforms.

Comment Re:Pure undulterated bullshit (Score 1) 195 195

This isn't DRM. There's no need to turn text into an image here. I think people are confusing this for some sort of document protection scheme which is trying to do something that's impossible.

You're mistakenly treating the recipient as a hostile entity. If you can't trust them to view and *not attempt to copy* confidential information, then they shouldn't be allowed to see it anyhow.

Instead, you need to consider the recipient as an imbecile who will, for example, accidentally forward a confidential note to their entire address book, or forget to delete the message as requested.

Good security is often about simply making the default behavior secure. In this case, you're simply ensuring that the recipient has to do nothing at all for that information to remain secure, which is about as good as it's going to get once you release information to another party.

Comment Re:Sounds impressive, but is it? (Score 1) 82 82

This article gives some details:

Nevertheless, the automaker said it will offer to repurchase the trucks and SUVs that have not yet been fixed for a price equal to the original purchase price minus a reasonable allowance for depreciation plus ten percent.

So, essentially, the buyback amount in this case is roughly the market value plus ten percent. My understanding is that a buyback is not a trade-in, so there's no obligation to purchase the same make of vehicle.

Under typical lemon laws, for example, if the dealer can't fix serious problems with a new vehicle in three visits within the first 60 days, you're eligible for a buyback. In those cases, I believe the consumer is eligible for the full purchase price. In this particular case, it looks like the federal government is mandating the buyback because even of older vehicles of the seriousness and scope of the issue.

Disclaimer: I'm no expert on this subject matter, so I may have some details wrong.

Comment Re:Budget (Score 1) 105 105

That's good to know, and it explains the rationale a bit more.

Still... Would Congress really have complained had they requested a portion of their budget be directed for the research and preservation of some artifacts of substantial importance to American history? Are they really that limited by the scope of their federal budget? They seriously can't undertake important projects like this without breaking rules?

I think I'd be more comfortable changing the rules attached to their funding in order to give them some discretion for special projects like this, rather than relying on the hit or miss chance of public fundraising. It would have been a shame if they hadn't happened to have met their funding target. They might not be quite so fortunate the next time they try to generate additional funds this way.

Comment Re:How soon until x86 is dropped? (Score 1) 146 146

Videogame programmer here. It wasn't really a compiler optimization issue. There's no compiler on the planet that can perform high-level optimizations like that.

The real problem was that those vector units (SPEs) were highly specialized computational devices, best suited for churning through relatively simple, parallel tasks with a high volume of sequential data (e.g. media streams). Videogames, unfortunately, are loaded with tasks that require access to complex data sets and/or require lots of context switches, neither of which the SPEs can handle well. Ultimately, the SPEs, while powerful in specialized roles, often had problems compensating for the slightly less powerful CPU or graphics hardware, despite requiring many times the work to optimize the game for that hardware, and all that just to get similar performance to the Xbox 360's more general-purpose hardware.

In short, the Cell processor was immensely powerful for its time in highly specialized situations, but it wasn't very well suited to the typical tasks and loads seen in a videogame. It was an idea that sounds great in theory, but didn't work so well in actual practice.

Comment Re:Sounds impressive, but is it? (Score 4, Informative) 82 82

You're dividing the fine by the number of recalls, but that makes no sense. The company is already being penalized by the cost of the recalls, so I think you'd need to *add* that to the fine.

The agency said the civil penalty was broken down into a cash penalty of $70 million, and an agreement that Fiat Chrysler would spend at least $20 million on meeting performance requirements detailed in the consent order. An additional penalty of $15 million will be assessed on the company if an independent monitor, who has yet to be announced, discovers further violations of safety laws or the consent order.

Under the order, Fiat Chrysler is required to buy back as many as 500,000 vehicles with defective suspensions that can cause drivers to lose control. Also, owners of more than one million Jeeps with rear-mounted gas tanks that are prone to fires will be given an opportunity to trade in their vehicles at rates above market value.

All in all, this may end up costing them well over a billion dollars, especially if a significant number of people take them up on that buy-back offer.

Comment Re:138 Million Artifacts (Score 5, Insightful) 105 105

I'd bet the vast majority of those artifacts are likely sitting in shelves full of boxes and bins in the basement, and are not in need of any costly preservation measures, short of maintaining a dry, climate-controlled environment.

Good on them for figuring out how to generate some more revenue, but it tends to remind me of how local governments spend their entire budget, then come begging to taxpayers in the form of additional bonds to fund critical police programs, fire protection services, parks, schools / education, or emergency services infrastructure. They know taxpayers have a harder time saying "no" to these types of services.

Don't get me wrong... I'm really happy these suits are being preserved. It just seems strange that they couldn't have figured out how to do this within their existing budget. Given the historical importance of these suits, it makes me think that maybe their priorities are a bit off regarding their budget expenditures. What would they have done if the money hadn't been raised? Let the suits rot in a locker in the basement? Auction them off to a private collector? And what happens the next time they have some important American historical artifact? Is this sort of fundraising going to happen again?

Comment Re:Pure undulterated bullshit (Score 2) 195 195

If they're selling it as "secure" (as in a user *can't possibly* forward the data), then it's bullshit. If they're selling it as "this prevents someone from inadvertently forwarding your message to others or keeping it available longer than intended", then it should work as advertised. Obviously, it doesn't prevent intentional abuse.

Keep in mind that the vast majority of people simply use programs with the defaults enabled. Google's g-mail, by default, keeps ALL messages (by encouraging you to "archive" instead of "delete" messages). A lot of mail clients work in the same way now. This means that, by default, if you send someone a message with some sensitive data, you have no easy way of encouraging the recipient to delete the message after being read. This provides that mechanism. Unless someone goes deliberately out of their way to copy that data, it will not be forwarded or copied to their local client or mail storage.

Honestly, I'm not sure how useful this is anyhow. Unless e-mail is encrypted or internal-only, you basically have to treat it like a postcard. That is, anyone interested enough to glance at it while in-transit can see what you're writing.

Comment Re:I've had issues with the Win10 NVIDIA drivers.. (Score 3, Informative) 315 315

Well, shit. Someone else informed me that the option to disable updating of drivers is ONLY when you insert new hardware. So, you typically wouldn't want to disable this.

It looks like this may still be an issue then. Damn, that's a really misleading setting name. Sorry for the misinformation.

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