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Comment: Re:Diet is very important. (Score 1) 588

by srussell (#47815597) Attached to: Low-Carb Diet Trumps Low-Fat Diet In Major New Study

I realize that on Slashdot, where people tend to be highly math-oriented, it's a popular fallacy to believe that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. However, studies like this one have been coming out for years now showing that that's simply not true.

Amen. As you say, some foods are more difficult for the body to extract calories from. The body will end up extracting (roughly) the same number of calories from foods with the same caloric content, but the rate of extraction differs, and this can make all the difference. That's one of the ideas behind diets like the South Beach diet: it tries to avoid insulin spikes, which helps control hunger, which helps dieters resist over-eating. Insulin spikes cause all sorts of interesting physiological reactions beyond making a person hungry, such as fatigue, and can contribute to the development of diseases such as diabetes. While not the cause of all the world's woes, insulin spikes (and the foods that cause them) are good things to avoid unless, you know, you suddenly need to outrun a bear. If you're being chased by a bear, by all means suck down that energy gel. And don't bother running downhill; that's a myth -- bears can run downhill as fast as they can uphill, and they can run up to 37 miles an hour. So the bear will still get you, but at least after eating the energy gel you'll taste a little sweeter for the bear.

140 calories from a can of coke is not equivalent to, and will not have the same effect on your body, as 150 calories from 1/4 cup of steel-cut oats. Your health will be better for eating the oats. I don't know whether bears prefer coke or oats; they probably prefer coke, but don't quote me on that.

Comment: Re:Equality (Score 1) 509

by srussell (#45593625) Attached to: The Brains of Men and Women Are 'Wired Differently'

Then women are the one advantaged. They get more pardon, reduced sentencing and easier parole. I don't even start on domestic issues and divorce where they are more than likely to be seen as the victim, get alimony and child care...

The domestic and divorce issue depends heavily on which state in which the divorce/domestic violence occurs. In California, the law does tend to favor women in divorce proceedings; in Georgia, on the other hand, men are favored. Marriage equality laws are too young to provide any evidence about whether these biases are sex related, or are a reflection the state's definition of fair division. With a national average of around 15% of dual-spouse families having woman as the primary earner, it may be difficult to get a statistically realistic answer, although without marriage or income equality, it's essentially a gender bias.

Comment: Re:Don't teach, and certainly don't learn ... (Score 1) 465

Was your post intended to be optimistic? Because it was. The implication is that, within a few years we'll be able to avoid government interrogation and surveillance. By the 90's, we were learning about integration -- the 1940's status quo had reversed. By 2013, many of us were living in states with marriage equality -- the 1990's status quo is in the process of reversing. I'm not as optimistic as you, but it's a nice thought.

Comment: Pebble owner (Score 1) 365

I'd like to hear from more people with smart watches who are happy with them, to better understand the appeal.

I'm really happy with the almost-smartwatch Pebble. I wear it in preference to my other watches (and I've always worn a watch). There are three things I like most about it:

  1. I can, and do, have the sound and vibrate on my phone turned off. I don't worry about silencing my phone going into meetings, the theater, or dinner (or unsilencing it after), and when I leave my phone somewhere in the house or on my desk at work, I still get alerts on my watch when the phone rings or I get a text (the Bluetooth range is surprisingly good). And I don't have to worry that my phone is sitting there, ringing on my desk, and annoying co-workers. Basically, it helps me to be less of a cellphone asshole.
  2. The battery life is acceptable. Charging once a week is not as good as having a year between battery changes, but it's acceptable.
  3. It's pretty simple to program (if you're a programmer), and it lets me have bizarro faces, like showing the time in dozenal, or having a YesWatch-style face, or whatever.

I have gotten more positive comments about this watch from strangers than any single other thing I've ever owned. I've been asked about it on public transport in NYC and in check-out lines in Philadelphia and London, and at twice I've had people literally stop mid-sentence to ask about it.

Comment: Re:Foundation (Score 1) 598

by srussell (#45088917) Attached to: What Are the Genuinely Useful Ideas In Programming?

I hear this a lot from people who write unmaintainable code that's full of 'clever' tricks that usually have no measurable impact on performance and, when they do, actually end up making things slower.

A microcontroller has almost no relationship to the kind of system that you find in a modern desktop or even mobile phone.

And I hear this a lot from developers who write buggy, inefficient code that fails under load. Ain't anecdotal evidence great? It's almost as good as straw man arguments.

OP was talking about the fact that, when people don't understand the basic fundamentals of how computers work, they make poor design and coding decisions. Having a good understanding about what's going on under the hood, at all levels, is critical for a lead developer.

Comment: Re:Shortsighted techie ... (Score 4, Insightful) 297

by srussell (#44406123) Attached to: Google Engineer Wins NSA Award, Then Says NSA Should Be Abolished

There is a difficulty of course: cripple the NSA, and you give free and secure communication to all sorts of undesirables.

And herein lies the problem: who gets to define who the "undesirables" are? How do we know they're undesirable? There's a large segment of the American population who think gays are undesirable. There's an even larger segment who think Muslims are undesirable. There are an amazing number of people on /. who object to pinko, gun-stealing liberals.

In my opinion, NSA apologists are undesirable, and should be the people we tap 24/7; it's usually ultra right-wing types who perform modern domestic-bred terrorism.

j/k. Even conservatives deserve privacy.

--- SER

Comment: A problem specific do data centers? (Score 1) 198

by srussell (#43767825) Attached to: Data Center Managers Weary of Whittling Cooling Costs
In other news:

Computer programmers weary of optimizing code

Auto engineers weary of increasing fuel economy

Home owners weary of insulating their houses

Electricity costs money. Reducing the cooling costs of data centers isn't a green issue; it's a cost issue. TFA mentions this specifically:

Steven Brill and his analysts have pounded the table on the importance for IT to pay the electric bill so they understand just how much power they consume.

so I find it odd that the take-away is "green fatigue."

Comment: Reliability is overrated (Score 1) 268

by srussell (#43563473) Attached to: Btrfs Is Getting There, But Not Quite Ready For Production
I've lost data with ext3.

I've had data corruptions with reiserfs.

I've lost data with ext4 (which happened to be the most frustrating, tedious, and complete failure of all).

Most recently, I had some HD failures on a fully RAID-1'd server running entirely on XFS, and had to re-install the OS from scratch and restore from backups. The new install was onto btrfs.

I've had partitions running on btrfs for a little over a year, and have not yet lost data on these, but it's just a matter of time; I will lose data. I used to blame it on cheap drives, but I've seen SMART failures on young Seagates so I'm now convinced there's no such thing as a high quality, high density drive. At the moment, I find btrfs easy to use (intuitive and simple), and full-featured, so it's what I'm currently using. But I suffer from no illusions; at some point, I will have FS corruptions and have to restore from backups, and I can only hope that any FS corruptions won't go undetected and be propagated to my backups for very long before that happens. Failures are inevitable no matter what I use, so now I value simplicity, convenience, speed ... and backups.

Right now, btrfs beats the alternatives for convenience and features. I put my trust in backups, not file systems, and value is in features and convenience, not some false perception of safety or reliability.

Comment: Re:2nd story about how cell copmanies suck today. (Score 1) 317

I guess I don't see the advantage to having a corrupt corporation not looking out for me over a corrupt government not looking out for me. I can't change the corporation, but I can at least try to change the government. Both options seem to have roughly the same success rate overall, so why not support the one that gives me a voice?


Comment: Re:It doesn't matter (Score 1) 317

by srussell (#38705668) Attached to: Code Cleanup Culls LibreOffice Cruft

Exactly. Unused RAM is wasted RAM.

I keep seeing this assertion. If applications aggressively grab memory and resources that they might use, and if I'm a user who uses the computer for more than just a single-domain application (say, web browsing), then I'm going to encounter a lot of OS swapping as I jump around between applications. If the OS has a free buffer of RAM, then new applications I open are going to open more quickly as the OS doesn't first have to swap opt currently in-use memory.

I can't help but think that this philosophy that unused RAM is wasted RAM is what's led to application bloat. I see this most in my career in situations such as frantic last-minute GC tuning resulting from UAT load testing; or when a developer discovers that some new feature is going to push the app over some threshold, and they have to go back and spend extra time analyzing and tuning other parts of the code base that don't, strictly, have anything to do with the feature they were task with developing.

It's as if, when it became widely recognized that eager optimization had consequences, the industry threw the baby out with the bathwater and took it as permission to entirely ignore resource use considerations during the initial design and development phase. This philosophy has apparently permeated through to the general computing zeitgeist, as evidenced by your (commonly held, and understandable) conviction.

Comment: Re:Well... (Score 1) 590

by srussell (#38379672) Attached to: Judge Orders Man To Delete Revenge Blog

In my limited experience judges don't find it clever if you violate the spirit of the law without violating the letter.

So, what you're saying is that we don't have rule of law in the US, just rule of judge's opinion? It's one thing for a judge to interpret in the case of ambiguity, but you can't convict somebody of violating the spirit of the law. That's why suspects "get off on technicalities."

The law must be a strict definition, or it is subject to being applied differently to different people, based usually on one person's personal biases. Historically, this is Not A Good Thing(tm), and you see evidence of bias abuse in sentencing.

Optimization hinders evolution.