Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?
Take advantage of Black Friday with 15% off sitewide with coupon code "BLACKFRIDAY" on Slashdot Deals (some exclusions apply)". ×

Comment Re:Why? (Score 3, Interesting) 166

Hmm. That sounds almost like you're tracking relationships. Maybe you should use... (wait for it) A RELATIONAL DATABASE. Seriously, we often store object databases in relational databases. It's easy to add more properties to objects in your database with a relational db because of its very nature. You just create a new relationship, appropriately keyed. And there are lots of examples of systems backed by relational databases which permit you to add arbitrary new properties to objects. Take Drupal, for example; you can always either add a new module which will add new properties to old node types, or just add more data types to old node types. You could add, for example, a parent-child relationship. In fact, modules exist to do this already.

Except that MUMPS did it 30-40 years before such features were available in relational databases.

And see Henry Baker on "Relational Databases", Comm. of the ACM 35,4 (April 1992), 16,18.:

Why were relational databases such a Procrustean bed? Because organizations, budgets, products, etc., are hierarchical; hierarchies require transitive closures for their "explosions"; and transitive closures cannot be expressed within the classical Codd model using only a finite number of joins (I wrote a paper in 1971 discussing this problem). Perhaps this sounds like 20-20 hindsight, but most manufacturing databases of the late 1960's were of the "Bill of Materials" type, which today would be characterized as "object-oriented". Parts "explosions" and budgets "explosions" were the norm, and these databases could easily handle the complexity of large amounts of CAD-equivalent data. These databases could also respond quickly to "real-time" requests for information, because the data was readily accessible through pointers and hash tables--without performing "joins".

I shudder to think about the large number of man-years that were devoted during the 1970's and 1980's to "optimizing" relational databases to the point where they could remotely compete in the marketplace. It is also a tribute to the power of the universities, that by teaching only relational databases, they could convince an entire generation of computer scientists that relational databases were more appropriate than "ad hoc" databases such as flat files and Bills of Materials.

Computing history will consider the past 20 years as a kind of Dark Ages of commercial data processing in which the religious zealots of the Church of Relationalism managed to hold back progress until a Renaissance rediscovered the Greece and Rome of pointer-based databases. Database research has produced a number of good results, but the relational database is not one of them.


Henry G. Baker, Ph.D.

Comment Check Current Credit Report And Go From There (Score 2) 213

You need to do this at least once a year anyway:

Ask each of the three credit bureaus for your free credit report. You usually fill out a set of forms and they'll e-mail you a report. For each credit report:

  1. Check the accounts. Close old accounts that you don't use by writing a snail-mail letter (e-mail will _not_ do) to the company [not the credit bureau] with the account#, your basic info and signature and a specific request to close the account. Your credit report includes the mailing address for each account always. Expect a written snail-mailed response within a month.
    1. For any accounts you didn't open:
    2. Call the company [not the credit bureau] and discuss the account. If it isn't your account (you may find it is something you forgot), tell them so. Occasionally they will make corrections immediately, but usually they won't and will wait for your snail-mail request. Ask them if there are any special procedures necessary to remove the account from your credit report. For example, if unpaid purchases have been made then they may ask you to file an offense report for credit fraud with the local police. Of course they may ask you to pay the account off but, if it isn't yours, politely remind them, and ask them the procedure for removing a fraudulent account from your credit record.
    3. Follow up by notifying them via snail-mail, mentioning the earlier phone call. Provide any requested info, e.g., copy of police report you filed. Again expect a response within a month.
    4. Keep notes of all credit reports, phone conversations, paper copies of e-mails, snail-mails and responses in a file folder,
    5. If you don't get a response in a month then rinse & repeat (that is, call and follow-up with snail mail).
  2. Above all, relax. Fixing a credit report isn't hard but it just takes time.

Comment Star Slime Molds (Score 1) 300

I'm more concerned about star slime molds: they work as individuals, eating planets, comets and asteroids and, when the food supply in a planetary system gets low, aggregate with other individuals to form a star slime mold body that migrates to another planetary system (rinse, repeat). I am especially fearful of Fuligo septica astrophagus, the dog vomit slime mold star eater.

Comment NSAIDs and Ice Interfere With Training, Healing (Score 3, Interesting) 122

At least one study says NSAIDs Interfere with Proper Training. Surprisingly, so does ice!

Here's an interesting page with a small study(search for "McMaster" of a group of 11 subjects that seems to indicate massage is very useful (even better than exercise?) - Weird! Also it has a note on ibuprofen and NSAIDs.

Comment Yes, Adrian Thompson's Discriminator GA (Score 3, Informative) 84

See On The Origin of Circuits:

"As predicted, the principle of natural selection could successfully produce specialized circuits using a fraction of the resources a human would have required. And no one had the foggiest notion how it worked."

"Dr. Thompson peered inside his perfect offspring to gain insight into its methods, but what he found inside was baffling. The plucky chip was utilizing only thirty-seven of its one hundred logic gates, and most of them were arranged in a curious collection of feedback loops. Five individual logic cells were functionally disconnected from the rest-- with no pathways that would allow them to influence the output-- yet when the researcher disabled any one of them the chip lost its ability to discriminate the tones. Furthermore, the final program did not work reliably when it was loaded onto other FPGAs of the same type."

"It seems that evolution had not merely selected the best code for the task, it had also advocated those programs which took advantage of the electromagnetic quirks of that specific microchip environment. The five separate logic cells were clearly crucial to the chip's operation, but they were interacting with the main circuitry through some unorthodox method-- most likely via the subtle magnetic fields that are created when electrons flow through circuitry, an effect known as magnetic flux. There was also evidence that the circuit was not relying solely on the transistors' absolute ON and OFF positions like a typical chip; it was capitalizing upon analogue shades of gray along with the digital black and white.'"

Dr. Thompson's publications seem to be difficult to find in free viewing form on the Internet, but the daminteresting article gives the gist of it: evolution will eventually make use of whatever characteristics are available to solve a problem.