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Comment: Re:Game changing big events beyond any planning? (Score 1) 112

by niftymitch (#47803947) Attached to: New Computer Model Predicts Impact of Yellowstone Volcano Eruption

Our current economic system has created existential risks by discounting the risks of centralization and just-in-time production and just-barely-works systems without huge margins of resiliency. One tragedy-in-the-making example is the USA recently selling off its emergency strategic grain supplies. .......

Good stuff except that the Yellowstone volcano risk is vastly bigger than any emergency grain supply we ever considered.

We are not talking about a regional disaster but one so big that with the modern population and population distribution
we would be well and goodly firetrucked.

You point is spot on if we consider lesser but still massive disasters. Most folk consider disaster planning of three days
food and water to be a difficult investment. A continent wide disaster with spill over to other continents needs to address
decades or more.

Comment: Re:Do they know more than they let on? (Score 4, Interesting) 112

by niftymitch (#47802705) Attached to: New Computer Model Predicts Impact of Yellowstone Volcano Eruption

Wow ... there is a lot of talk about the Yellowstone volcano. Do the authorities know more than they are saying to the public? Why all of the sudden interest in Yellowstone? Is an eruption imminent and we are not being told?

As a geologist the impact, size and risk of Yellowstone has been an ongoing learning experience.

Yellowstone like large eruptions and large asteroid impacts are global game changers.
Any that wake up in the morning and think about this get concerned.

Both issues invoke magical thinking... we could make the problem go away by -________-.

What we do know is that historic eruptions did blanket North America with ash,
we also have some decent data about how many and how often and when we
might be due...

The un-interesting bit is the mumble foo about a computer program. Some think
this is adding to the knowledge but the reality is hand drawn maps from
20 years ago tell the same OMG KYAGB story.

Add regions of Indonesia to the list right along side the Mammoth Mtn. caldera in California.

These game changing big events are well beyond any FEMA planning.
Have a good cup of tea and enjoy the fireworks.

Comment: Re:customer-centric (Score 1) 406

by niftymitch (#47793597) Attached to: Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

Microsoft's actions might seem "customer-centric," but really they're fighting for their lives.

If MS can be forced to give up European data, stored on European servers, that's game over for them.
Lawsuits and investigations will flourish in Europe, because their data protection laws are much stronger/stricter than ours.

This could kill MS's European business.

What largish Linux push in Europe was squashed in favor of MicroSoft products?

Microsoft has a lot to lose if they ignore international law and act as
the blind agent of a US court.

China is working to replace all MS and Cisco software already as
well as replace all Intel and other non-Chinese processors with their own
chip designs. Their early hardware efforts have shown that there
are few technical problems in their way to nationalize large markets.

Comment: Re:customer-centric (Score 5, Insightful) 406

by niftymitch (#47793551) Attached to: Microsoft Defies Court Order, Will Not Give Emails To US Government

Except it isn't European data, Its an American's data stored under a European account in European servers. Small difference.

It is not the data that is the issue.

It is a US Judge requiring a company to reach out across international borders and
as an agent of the judge grab the data and spirit it across international borders and
deliver it to the judge. This something that the US judge could not require of the
State Department, CIA or NSA any other government agency to do.

If it was not data the rule would be more obvious. If a storage company had
a large box of cigars perhaps from some random country close to Florida could that
company be compelled to ship that box of cigars to the judge to determine
if the owner of the box of cigars was engaging in the trade of and trade with
a foreign country that the US has issues with. Only by inspection of the
contents of the box would the judge know.

Now it is possible that Cuban cigars are no longer the smoking gun of illegal
trade with Cuba but the point is that this judge is forcing a company to reach out
across international borders and do the judges bidding.

What if the company name was Blackwater Security Consulting (since renamed Academi)
and that company was directed by a judge to import or export anything or anyone
at the behest of the judge (with or without payment for services BTW).

If it was a physical container the decision in my mind is obvious
that the judge is reaching, reaching, reaching well beyond charter and

It gets more interesting if the transport of the physical container crosses
other international borders. Most nations have laws that prohibit trafficking
in stolen goods. So a packet map showing how each and every fragment
of this container traveled could also be a topic of a United Nations inquiry.
Blood diamonds, ebony, ivory... trafficking in crime tainted desirables and
this judge covets this stuff.

Comment: Re:no price? (Score 2) 88

by niftymitch (#47792765) Attached to: MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board

It doesn't always have to boil down to price. .......

The Raspberry Pi is a lackluster board with a crummy SoC and limited I/O and no FPU. Not to say that the Raspberry Pi is total crap, it does its intended job very well and there is a lot of community support. .........

OK I am a child of the 60s. Time not the drug thing...

The Raspberry Pi is an astounding teaching tool.
It is open at all the important levels (hardware and software) that
are impossible or impracticable for a student and class to explore
on any other computer.

At the current price it is less expensive than most textbooks.

It supports all the tool chains a student needs support on and
supports virtually any programming language worth teaching
and worth learning.

The last turn of the Raspberry Pi gave it more USB ports and
a better connector for the OS flash media (mSD). All good stuff.

I have built small MPI clusters with them and noticed that I quickly
ran into problems that plague programmers of million dollar clusters that I have
worked on. The Beaglebone Black is a nice baby step forward in ARM land.

This MIPS board that started this does need to match the price and features
of the R-Pi or BBB if it is to have legs. I am a fan of the MIPS ISA but with
modern compilers the ISA is almost a don't care.

Re this MIPS board do wish it had dual+ GigE networking. I do wish it
had more DRAM. I do wish I knew more about it in detail.

Of interest the SD card, case and wall wart power supply cost as much as the
board itself. All together it costs less than most textbooks....

But golly folks do not ignore the Raspberry Pi.

Comment: Re:Dangerous virus (Score 1) 82

by niftymitch (#47792413) Attached to: Scientists Found the Origin of the Ebola Outbreak

Remember, penicillin is not an effective treatment for Influenza
or other viral infections. There are some secondary infections
where penicillin or another antibiotic has value BUT penicillin is
not an effective treatment for Influenza.

This Ebola thing is dangerous... it is lethal enough
and contagious enough to totally upend the health care
and economic systems of the UK, France, Germany, US,
Russia, Japan...

Most modern nations do not have infrastructure that permits
long term quarantine of all but a small handful of individuals.
Nothing in place will address the millions of travelers... stuck in

Comment: Does away with.. (Score 1) 1

by niftymitch (#47767097) Attached to: The DOT wants to know where you are

Such a move would do away with radar and other speed trap tools.

All that would be needed is a box that gathers this information and
issues citations.

A patrol car need only get close. Static devices catch you in passing.
Static devices can log you in passing. Any traffic light would have the
location and position to also be a speed trap.

Contra flow traffic would gather an astounding number of vehicle information

I wonder if traffic avoidance and serious injury line up well.
I would expect most serious injury events involve vehicles
crossing the median and encountering oncoming traffic. If the
Russian traffic videos I see the serious wrecks happen in
seconds and involve cross traffic or oncoming traffic.

Next there would be a mandate for video recording .... That
may be a good thing. If autos had continuous recording cameras
a lot of traffic stop shenanigans might go away but most police
departments would dislike this. The best camera configurations
could be those that have a wide view and would be witness to
lots more. A simple click of the auto remote would silently start the
cameras as the bystander moved well clear of the action.

Cell or WiFi links could move data to a difficult or impossible to corrupt
cloud location as well as keep a local copy.

I sort of see some value in this but the notion of GPS latency and V2V
data being current enough for avoidance and active safety seems like an
astounding technical reach today. This is revenue generating, grudge and tracking
not safety.

Where are bicycles in all this... Clearly in the modern green future bicycles, scooters,
and motor bikes need to be factored in all of this. Skateboards too.

N.B. We do not mandate transponders for all aircraft....

Comment: Re:But (Score 1) 191

by niftymitch (#47746153) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

I moved to Minnesota so I wouldn't have to worry about earthquakes, or tsunamis

But winters can bring their own challenges and different answers.
A frozen week is a long frozen week....

Large trash bags make windproof and rainproof emergency layers and
make taking trash away from the park easy too.

Keep that old comforter in the boot of the car and some old shoes, hat,
dry clothing handy too.

Frozen food is difficult to eat... you will need something to cook/ heat food with. Something
that does not kill you with carbon monoxide. Camping and picnic equipment makes great emergency
kit if it is maintained and has fuel.

Comment: Re:Most are ill-prepared (Score 2) 191

by niftymitch (#47746105) Attached to: Slashdot Asks: How Prepared Are You For an Earthquake?

The kit, as described, is a barely adequate 36 hour kit, for four people.


OK for 36 hours in america all you really need is water.

Most individuals can fast for 36 hours.

In addition a can of tuna or a can of soup needs nothing beyond
an opener and a fork or spoon to become food. If you are hungry it is just fine. If it is
not fine you are not hungry...

It gets different if you are hiking or digging through rubble.

Shelter could be high on the list for many...
A blue tarp is inexpensive.

Trash and sanitation need attention...
The superdome and katrina would have been less evil if
there were buckets on ropes and ways to just flush the crud over the
side. Sadly too many had no clue about sanitation and EXPECTED
others to clean up. This responsibility issue and an exclusion zone where
only trained first responders can play is also a disaster in and of itself.

Reach and scope of the disaster can be overlooked.

A katrina wrecks an astounding area in some cases permanently.
Politics imposes limits on rebuilding which gets manipulated
by do-gooders.

A tornado totally wrecks a narrow band that can often
be accessed by first responders in half a mile left/ right of the

A quake is a regional disaster... small medium large...
One lady in Napa was interviewed -- she had wine but ALL the wine
glasses in her home had been broken. This points out the fragile
chain of needs and reminds one about a king and his horse.
The area of the Napa quake is modest and lightly populated ....
other areas.. 50 miles south would be shit to pay disaster.

Economic resources of the area come to play.
Does the population live paycheck to paycheck (Katrina)
or is the population flush with a credit card that would
let them move to another state and a work from home
like Google and FB engineers.

So a blue tarp, water and some cans of tuna and
the first 48 hours are covered for some... More than
48 hours and it gets nasty because restoration of services
that takes longer than 36 hours quickly becomes a week
or three.

Comment: Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (Score 1) 193

by niftymitch (#47740977) Attached to: Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

Not sure where you live, but writable blu ray was available in 2002 initially. DVD in 1997, CD in 1988. We're a little past 5 years. Thats 12 for BD, 17 for DVD, and 26 for CD. There is a wealth of data on storage life on all of them if you know where to look.

yet there was a big deal not too long ago where DVD media began to come apart
after about five years. The rumor was that it was a manufacturing FUBAR that lasted
a couple years and impacted a lot of big name players.

I picked five years to comment because apparently the life of media has two statistical humps.
The five year one points to short term risks unknown at day one and the 12 and 17 year data gives
hope that the 40 to 100 year storage life expectation is possible. Bursts of defective media discovered
a couple years after mfg remind folk that inexpensive could be foolish.

Home users had a spate of problems in 2003 or so... if my Google foo is telling.

Comment: Re:What about bitrot (Score 1) 193

by niftymitch (#47739115) Attached to: Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

If they only keep one copy, how do they detect and recover from bitrot?

Or is the stuff already not really important to keep more than one copy around

Data replication is an honest question. What if a copy was kept on spinning disks
and the Blue-Ray media was backing store for spinning media.

A RAID design for the future need not have equal access times for ECC, voting
and redundancy. It only needs to be reliable and the net sum of the parts
inexpensive. Data rates on and off a single Blu-Ray are consistent with very long
distance optical fibre data rates.

If I allow myself to think of this as heterogeneous RAID hardware design it makes sense.
If I allow myself to think of this as an isolated magic solution it seems fragile.

Comment: Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (Score 1) 193

by niftymitch (#47739063) Attached to: Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

You could have a robot unplug/plug HDs, but once you're accepting the latency of disk changes and spin-up, I imagine Blu-Ray disks would be much, much cheaper than a similar capacity of HDs.

Yes except the connectors are not rated for many disconnects and reconnects.

Hard drive media needs to spin up often. If the drive is not spun then there are
risks of the media and heads having problems. The complexity of the electronics
and component life expectancy on the drives may be less than Blu-Ray media.
There are just too many moving (active) parts in the drive to believe that media with
no moving parts has an equal MTBF value.

With deep pockets and money in the bank... this is worth a hard look.

Comment: Re:Why not just use hard drives and then store... (Score 2) 193

by niftymitch (#47739029) Attached to: Facebook Experimenting With Blu-ray As a Storage Medium

This estimate also ignores the cost of a robotic system, powering that system, and maintanence and doesn't factor in costs for redundancy (they need two robotic systems, not one.) The whole thing is phenomenally stupid. As someone already pointed out before I got here to say the same, if you want to take data offline simply literally take it offline. Power down the friggin hard drive array completely. Power it back up when needed.

Bingo... but given the mass of data Facebook has set themselves up to store they would
do well to try a multitude of things.

And redundancy of two at this scale is not going to be sufficient.
The media will need to be organized as a RAID larger and wider
than anything folk are used to thinking about.

A read error on one disc will need to be validated by a very big ECC code
on the media and also on redundant media local and far away. Two copies
gives little voting confidence as to which is incorrect so dust off your old
HP-41 calculator and stat pack or perhaps SPSS and start working
on the numbers. Then verify and check them with Haskell and R

Big robot data systems are interesting and even dangerous as they
get bigger and faster.

Then there is the security of the OS running the robot. Stuxnet has
a lesson to be applied here. Lots of stuff spinning... .

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)