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Comment: Re:Silly season much (Score 2) 131

It depends on who you are and where you are. Ethnic minorities can have more than one child, so their ethnic group and culture do not become diminished. Rural villagers can also have more than one child sometimes, especially if their first child is not a boy. In some cases, they can keep having children until they get a boy. That is thought to reduce the incentive to engage in infanticide of female babies. Doctors are also not allowed to tell prospective parents whether their child will be a boy or a girl -- that is forbidden because it could also lead to infanticide. Finally, if the parents are wealthy, then they can simply pay the fine for extra children, and then it doesn't matter.

Comment: Re:Does this mean the death of Minix3? (Score 4, Interesting) 136

by plasticsquirrel (#47424729) Attached to: Prof. Andy Tanenbaum Retires From Vrije University
Minix 3 will probably keep going as an open-source project, and maybe he will be even more involved?

I feel it necessary to point out, though, that OS X is not a microkernel system comparable to Minix. OS X is largely monolithic, so if one part of the core system crashes, the whole system crashes. Minix 3 is far more ambitious because everything that is not in the (truly tiny) microkernel runs as a separate server process. For example, drivers are running in their own process, so if a driver crashes, the rest of the system can continue running.

To manage the system, Minix has a so-called "reincarnation server" that restarts core system daemons if they go down unexpectedly. It's totally modular and redundant -- far more ambitious and advanced in its design than Linux or OS X. Minix is designed from the beginning to never go down. There is nothing else like that in the Unix world.

This talk by Tanenbaum describes the Minix 3 design in much greater detail:

Youtube: MINIX 3: a Modular, Self-Healing POSIX-compatible Operating System

Comment: Re:What American goods would China buy? (Score 1) 348

by plasticsquirrel (#46969795) Attached to: China May Build an Undersea Train To America
China buys many American cars, as well as European and Japanese cars. Chinese cars are generally held in disdain, as their quality is regarded as inferior. And in China, a car is a status symbol more than anything. You should try visiting China before claiming utter nonsense about purchasing habits. There is a lot of money in China, most of it held by a large upper-class that has more than enough cash to buy a Ford.

Comment: Re:Who cares? (Score 1) 117

by plasticsquirrel (#46736623) Attached to: Linux 3.15 Will Suspend & Resume Much Faster
You know, an idle kernel doesn't use much of your battery life. Bulky programs that crunch and munch on the CPU do. Saying, "Linux this" and "OS X that" doesn't make sense unless you know that it boils down to the kernel and kernel drivers. Have you run powertop to examine exactly which processes and drivers are responsible for draining your battery? Have you followed the recommendations given by powertop?

Finally, have you considered the possibility that your battery might be crap, and that a higher capacity battery that works properly may be the solution, rather than abandoning your entire operating system, or abandoning the entire computer?

Comment: Elegant code is... (Score 2) 373

by plasticsquirrel (#46583323) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Do You Consider Elegant Code?

Elegant code is...

  • Simple -- leveraging the "natural" way to use the programming language
  • Compact -- not cluttered with special cases and boilerplate
  • Logical -- like secondary documentation, acting as a clear description of how to solve a problem
  • Modular -- functions or classes should be clearly grouped as modules
  • Easy to understand -- not full of stupid hacks and "clever" tricks
  • Reasonably efficient -- performing reasonably well, not at the expense of simplicity
  • Maintainable -- any decent programmer could pick up the code without fear and trepidation
  • Commented -- some comments should be present, but not too much
  • Correct -- it should do what it is meant to do, and only this

There are also some languages that I view as inherently elegant, and others that I consider not to be so. C, Python, and Ruby all allow breathtaking elegance in their own way. C with its spartan manner of managing the machine, Python with its ridiculously readable pseudocode-like syntax, and Ruby with its pure object system and powers of abstraction. On the other hand, some other languages like C++, Java, Haskell, Javascript, PHP, BASIC, and Erlang will never be languages that lend themselves to true beauty and elegance. All of those languages either have serious flaws, or they do not allow programmers to express their ideas eloquently in code. In a good language, your ideas should pop out as the most important thing, not the language itself.

+ - Einstein's 'Lost' Model Of the Universe Discovered 'Hiding in Plain Sight'

Submitted by Hugh Pickens DOT Com
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Dick Ahlstrom reports that Irish researchers have discovered a previously unknown model of the universe written in 1931 by physicist Albert Einstein that had been misfiled and effectively “lost” until its discovery last August while researchers been searching through a collection of Einstein’s papers put online by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. “I was looking through drafts, but then slowly realised it was a draft of something very different,” says Dr O’Raifeartaigh. “I nearly fell off my chair. It was hidden in perfect plain sight. This particular manuscript was misfiled as a draft of something else.” In his paper, radically different from his previously known models of the universe, Einstein speculated the expanding universe could remain unchanged and in a “ steady state” because new matter was being continuously created from space. “It is what Einstein is attempting to do that would surprise most historians, because nobody had known this idea. It was later proposed by Fred Hoyle in 1948 and became controversial in the 1950s, the steady state model of the cosmos,” says O’Raifeartaigh. Hoyle argued that space could be expanding eternally and keeping a roughly constant density. It could do this by continually adding new matter, with elementary particles spontaneously popping up from space. Particles would then coalesce to form galaxies and stars, and these would appear at just the right rate to take up the extra room created by the expansion of space. Hoyle’s Universe was always infinite, so its size did not change as it expanded. It was in a ‘steady state’. “This finding confirms that Hoyle was not a crank,” says Simon Mitton. “If only Hoyle had known, he would certainly have used it to punch his opponents." Although Hoyle’s model was eventually ruled out by astronomical observations, it was at least mathematically consistent, tweaking the equations of Einstein’s general theory of relativity to provide a possible mechanism for the spontaneous generation of matter. Einstein's paper attracted no attention because Einstein abandoned it after he spotted a mistake and then didn’t publish it but the fact that Einstein experimented with the steady-state concept demonstrates Einstein's continued resistance to the idea of a Big Bang, which he at first found “abominable”, even though other theoreticians had shown it to be a natural consequence of his general theory of relativity."

+ - Russians Suspected Of Uroburos Spy Malware->

Submitted by judgecorp
judgecorp (778838) writes "While Russia's political activity is centre stage, its cyber-espionage apparently continues Russian intelligence is strongly suspected of being behind the Urburos malware which is targetting Western governments and commercial organisations. There are Russian-language strings in the code, and it searches its victims' systems for Agent BTZ, malware used in previous attacks believed to have been carried out by Russia."
Link to Original Source

+ - Mark Shuttleworth blasts OSS FUD

Submitted by Anonymous Coward
An anonymous reader writes "In a Google+ posting, Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and Canonical, announces that Ubuntu is sticking with MySQL in the upcoming Trusty Tahr (14.04) release. In response to a followup question from ZDNet's Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Shuttleworth offers some pointed comments on the OSS FUD culture: "As for phobias, the real pitchforks have been those agitating against Oracle. I think Oracle have been an excellent steward of MySQL, with real investment and great quality. Appreciating and celebrating that doesn't detract from our willingness to engage elsewhere. I think the tendency to imagine conspiracies and malfeasance is one of the sadder aspects of OSS culture. Don't feed it.""

Comment: Classic Unix desktop (Score 1) 1

by plasticsquirrel (#46379853) Attached to: CDE 2.2.1 is released.
Great news for anyone who is interested in classic Unix desktop software. For many years, CDE was the standard Unix desktop environment, but one that was always missing from Linux and BSD. Having CDE as open source brings one of the last few pieces of proprietary software into the free Unixes, and it's nice to see that developers are hard at work fixing bugs and improving portability. Congrats to the CDE team for this release.

+ - CDE 2.2.1 is released.-> 1

Submitted by idunham
idunham (2852899) writes "Version 2.2.1 of the Common Desktop Environment was released on March 1, featuring several bugfixes/warning fixes/portability improvements, localization, and a new port. UTF8 support has been greatly improved, to go with a new Greek UTF8 translation; an en_US.UTF8 locale was also added. dtinfo now builds and works (at least on Linux and FreeBSD). The new NetBSD port expands the BSD support to the big 3: FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD."
Link to Original Source

+ - Income Inequality Through Assortative Mating: Marry Up->

Submitted by retroworks
retroworks (652802) writes "While tax laws, minimum wages, and patent extension are frequently blamed for the rising gap between "haves and have nots", an international economics study finds another simple factor behind income inequality. Marriage. As gender equality has improved in the professional workplace, paired incomes don't occur randomly. "Better educated people are increasingly more likely to marry other better-educated people while those with less formal schooling are more likely to choose a less well-educated partner." Using Census data, the (UPenn directed) researchers found that "across the board, the income gap between couples with relatively high and those with relatively low levels of education had widened substantially since 1960 relative to the average household income... the relative earnings of couples with high school degrees had fallen by 20 percentage points relative to the average while the household incomes of highly educated husbands and wives had increased by 43 points."

The Economist notes, " The economic incentive to marry your peers has increased. A woman with a graduate degree whose husband dropped out of high school in 1960 could still enjoy household income 40% above the national average; by 2005, such a couple would earn 8% below it." And in Slate, Matthew Iglesias puts it in terms a nerd can related to. "She likes Doctor Who; I like Star Trek...But one thing about us is pretty similar: We both went to fancy colleges full of people with high SAT scores. And in that regard, we’re pretty typical." Perhaps "Natural Selection" is the best explanation for rising college tuition, and increasing student debt."

Link to Original Source

Comment: Nobody is saying that this is "news" (Score 3, Insightful) 49

by plasticsquirrel (#46365009) Attached to: Yes, You Too Can Be an Evil Network Overlord With OpenBSD
This is an article helping people understand more about tools that ship in OpenBSD, and how they can be used in neat ways. Maybe you don't find anything informative or interesting, but I did and many others may too. Computing is a broad field, and not everyone has exposure to these networking tools. This is the sort of thing that should be on Slashdot, rather than "Why aren't there more female computer science majors so we can drive down wages?" type of "news items."

Comment: Re:Simpler answer: It was a con (Score 4, Informative) 160

by plasticsquirrel (#46292685) Attached to: Another Possible Voynich Breakthrough

You may want to read the article before jumping to conclusions. The authors have identified many of the plants and animals as those of the New World, including specific breeds of cattle introduced from Spain, animals like the Ocelot, and others. Their study is very thorough, and it includes study of texts they have found with similar scripts and languages. Their conclusion is that it came from 16th century Spain, and was written in an Aztec language by natives who had been educated by the Spanish (and their evidence for this is quite convincing). From the conclusion of the research:

We note that the style of the drawings in the Voynich Ms. is similar to 16th century codices from Mexico (e.g., Codex Cruz-Badianus). With this prompt, we have identified a total of 37 of the 303 plants illustrated in the Voynich Ms. (roughly 12.5% of the total), the six principal animals, and the single illustrated mineral. The primary geographical distribution of these materials, identified so far, is from Texas, west to California, south to Nicaragua, pointing to a botanic garden in central Mexico, quite possibly Huaztepec (Morelos). A search of surviving codices and manuscripts from Nueva España in the 16th century, reveals the calligraphy of the Voynich Ms. to be similar to the Codex Osuna (1563-1566, Mexico City). Loan-words for the plant and animal names have been identified from Classical Nahuatl, Spanish, Taino, and Mixtec. The main text, however, seems to be in an extinct dialect of Nahuatl from central Mexico, possibly Morelos or Puebla.

Comment: Soulskill and Timothy (Score 1) 252

I wrote to Timothy some of my recommendations in this comment), and it seems that some major ones have been addressed -- including the layout and amount of text that is visible. I don't know if that was in response to what I wrote, but either way I appreciate it. At this point, fixing Beta must be the most thankless job on Earth. ;-)

One other big recommendation I have is to not show pictures by default (icons are okay). Often these images are not directly related to the article, so they are just there to add some color to the screen, at the expense of the article text itself. (1) Maybe it's asking too much for the pictures to simply "go away" if they are unnecessary, but I think that would be positive. (2) Another option might be to default the users who are not logged in to see pictures, while default the readers who logged in to seeing just the text. The idea would be if you are not logged in, you're a peon who enjoys colorful irrelevant pictures, whereas if you are logged in, you just want to read the article. (3) Another possibility, the simplest, would be to resize these thumbnails to be smaller, so they intrude less on the article text. Ideas #1 and #3 would be the simplest approaches.

I think addressing the image thing would be a big improvement to Beta, and is one of the major things at the heart of what all the protest is about. Basically, that Slashdot as a technical site is about text, not just a slideshow of pretty pictures. Slashdot can keep pictures, but they should be resized appropriately since they are not really the point of the site (just colorful distractions).

The Tao doesn't take sides; it gives birth to both wins and losses. The Guru doesn't take sides; she welcomes both hackers and lusers.