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Comment: Easy check of support quality (Score 1) 253

by treczoks (#47091023) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Tech Customers Forced Into Supporting Each Other?

I consider those forums an advantage. Before I purchase a product, I can look into the forums and see whether there is trouble ahead or not.
I see if the product has its issues or not, and I see if support is active or passive - something I can hardly check with traditional support options where first class support is always promised in bright colors, but not always delivered (no more Canon products in my house, thankyouverymuch!).
Sometimes there are even highly dedicated people from the community who enjoy helping people for fun. I don't know whether that asian guy in the SiLabs forums is still around, but he gave good and well.thought advice even for complicated problems. In the end, I go such a forum to have a problem solved. If the support comes from an official source or from another customer (if he has proven trustworthy, of course) does not always matter.

Having a good suupport is crucial for tech business, whether companies realize this or not. Last year I bought a stack of GPU cards for a project from ASUS, had trouble, needed support and support failed, I returned them and bought the Gigabyte version (with the same chip). That was a los for one company and win for another directly related to the quality of support.

Comment: Long compile turnovers are still here! (Score 1) 230

by treczoks (#46897349) Attached to: One-a-Day-Compiles: Good Enough For Government Work In 1983

If you have a big project running on an FPGA, you still might get compile times that might sound surreal to CPU programmers. On a CPU each source module can be compiled seperately and only the last step - the linking - ties them together. In hardware description languages, on the other hand, the "compilation" of a single source module into the net is only a small first step. everything after that has to take all modules into account. A simple change in one module might lead to a felt eternity of compilation (like in: starting on friday, looking for results on monday). Luckily, most basic errors are caught in the first compilation step. But the hairy ones will just make the system attempt longer and longer untill it eventually gives up.

tl;dr With FPGAs, overnight compiling is no stranger even today.

Comment: The users shitstorm (Score 1) 448

by treczoks (#46745231) Attached to: Commenters To Dropbox CEO: Houston, We Have a Problem

is not about Mrs. Rice potential influence on Dropbox' privacy guidelines and rules. It is about rewarding people like her with a nice-paying, cosy job despite the fact that she stands for almost everything the customers of the company despise. Nominating her for the board is a kick in the balls for the users.

Whenever the US government wants to F*ck with Dropbox users privacy, they will do it, regardless of constitutional rights or who is in the board of directors.

Comment: Testing is not always representative (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46745079) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

So you were only eleven pupils on one teacher. Well, you could not get into a more unrealistic test group. In my times, we were 42 in a class, in my childrens classes there are 24 resp. 26 pupils. There are studies that show that 12-14 children are the upper bound for a teacher to really take into account everyone in the class.

When it comes to grading, being half a grade better does not mean anything a) if the grading is adapted to the learning method used and b) in a language class, anyway. Of course, if a teacher is a proponent of a new method, there are many ways to assure that the new method turns up either better or worse results, depending on what you want to prove.

And on reading "Robinson Crusoe" - this was probably a childrens edition, because the normal, complete text makes even a literate adults head spin.

Comment: Different Language - Different Approach (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46745037) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

You can't apply such a method to any language. I don't know about Finnish, in German it is bad enough. In English it would be a catastrophy. The more simple the transliteration rules for a language are, the better.
And: The more you are exposed to books, the better, if you got taught by this method. For those with a lower household literacy, this might break a childs education at a very early and basic point. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons for school is to make the road to education level for all kids, to at least give them a reasonable chance regardless of their social background. A method that relies to a large extend on the intelectual capabilities of the family instead of the school to teach one of the most basic skills is unfair and bound to widen the gap between social classes.

Comment: Example out of a newspaper article (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46744973) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

Some time ago there was an article in a nationwide german paper, where a father (jounalist) was totally shocked upon his childs literacy level. His offspring was at the end of grade four and wrote him a card for fathers day:

Text as written by the child: "Liba Fata ales gute zum Fatatak ich hab dich lib"
Gramatically correct text: "Lieber Vater, alles Gute zum Vatertag. Ich habe Dich lieb."
Translated:"Dear father, all the best for fathers' day. I love you"

Yes, the writing can be understood. It is not German, though. It might be Internet-German or Texting-German or whatever. It is like writing "wooster soos" instead of "worchestershire sauce".

In addition to this horrible teaching mess there is the bad influence from TV shows and from texting. I read an essay by a sixth-grader on the net, who added "lol" in his text where he thougt he made a pun, like the artificial laughters in those mediocre Disney-sitcoms.

All we can do as parents is to fix the educational potholes the school leaves in our childrens by field-testing obviously stupit methods.

Comment: What a stupid concept (Score 1) 431

by treczoks (#46744883) Attached to: Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

I'm from Germany and I have children in school, so I've got some first-hand experience whith this sh*t.

My daughter (approaching 11, grade 5) was taught this "Writing by Reading" stuff in the first years of primary school. The basic idea is that the kids a) basically spell as they hear it and b) refine/correct it by being exposed to correctly written texts. For a child that is an avid reader like my daughter (50-100 pages a day), with a mother that is a teacher for german and english (highschool level), this only was a minor problem. But her BFF avoids books like the plague, and therefor has loads of problems with writing. Most teachers at the local primary schooö frown upon this newfangled method (at least the ones with deaceds of experience) and try to teach ther pupuls correct writing, circumventing or stretching the new teaching rules.

Luckily, my son (8 3/4, grade 3) got more conservative teachers and so his spelling is OK.

Basically, this method was obviously invented by some people who took their own household literacy levels as the standard. We could deal with it, as we are a household of bibliolaters (~10000 real books in the living room alone, more in the studio and the attic, and the kids already have hundreds of books on their own), but in an average household (five books national average, at least one of them a cook book and one a religious book), this method is bound to fail.

The invention of this method is in a straight line with similar decisions on the german language - we had a bunch of grammar and vocabulary reforms, created by some couldheaded people in their ivory tower, clearly disconnected from reality. Now we have this bound-to-fail paedagogic method. Lets see what they cook up next.

PS: Writing as you hear it at least is way easier in German than it would be in English. Although there are lots of exceptions to the rules, there is a basic synchronity in the german language between the written and spoken word. In comparison with english, where the linguistic sources of gaelic/celtic, french, frisian/german and scandinavian origin clash, this is kids play. But German grammar sucks at other places to make the playing field more than level again.

Comment: Been there, done that. (Score 1) 365

by treczoks (#45904953) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Many (Electronics) Gates Is That Software Algorithm?

Compare this to the following situation: A graphical designer draws a fantastic new GUI for an application (on a piece of paper, even). Then you ask him how many lines or kilobytes of code this will be. And then the designer asks: "Can't I just scan the pictures I've drawn and have a software figure this out?". Sounds riddiculus? Yes, but: This is what you wanted.

To answer the original question: The only realistic estimate is to add all the gates you've got in you computer, and take that as an upper bound. Which is still just an estimate, because implementing an algorithm for real-time in hardware can still increase the gate count by leaps and bounds.

To be able to answer such a question you have to re-implement the algorithm in a Hardware Abstraction Language (HAL) like Verilog or VHDL.

I did this in one of our current systems, where I had to process a stream of data.
First I designed an algorithm in C which took an infile, generated an outfile and measured the "quallity" of the output.
Then I re-implemented the algorithm in VHDL, which looks and "thinks" totally different than the original C source (but still DOES the same).
Only after that one can give a realistic estimate (based on the target system/platform and timing constraints) on gate or cell counts.

Comment: Get your acts together! (Score 1) 426

by treczoks (#43810399) Attached to: A Cold Look at Cold Fusion Claims: Why E-Cat Looks Like a Hoax

There are two fraction over here: Thos who madly wave flags and throw their hats in hte air, claiming that this has been proven against all doubt, and those who are so patho-sceptic that they sound like the established science of the medieval ages who were sure that the earth is flat and the center of the universe.

So what DO we actually have?

- There is a steel cylinder filled with a "secret sauce" inside the reactor. Rossi considers this a trade secret, and that is his very right.
- There is a box that turns mains power into some modulated power which heats and controls the reactor, also a trade secret.

Acting within the limits that an inventor - whatever he claims - has a right to have trade secrets, how could one test and verify or falsify the claim beyond doubt?

What would need to be done to set up a test for this device that either convinces the pro-faction that it is a fraud or the patho-sceptics that it really works?

It boils down to:
- find a team and location acceptable by both parties, preventing cheating with infrared lasers or whatever is claimed. Faraday cage, maybe?
- measure the input power, maybe even limit the power that can be drawn by using a generator or similar, idiotproof means.
- measure the output power, maybe with different methods, maybe with several different infrared imaging and measuring systems in parallel.
- claculating whatever chemical or electrical power could be stored in the trade-secret parts of the setup and take this into account.
- whatever elese can be done to prevent and/or expose potential manipulation.
More Ideas?

Just claiming that "those people survived attending the test -> no fast neutrons -> no fusion -> must be fraud" is a bit short-sighted.

If the sceptics faction is so convinced that this is a fraud, why not offer support for such a neutral test? If there is no surplus energy, you've proven your point. Bang! Nailed another one! If there is surplus energy, well, then try to establish a therory that matches observation.

I am really not sure about Rossi. If this is all a big fraud set up by him, what would he gain? Surely, once exposed as one, the investors would fleece him. So he would only profit from this for a very limited time (as the investors surely want to see results really soon). If it is real, he is cautious to en extend bordering paranoia, while he still wants to brag with his achievments, but so would be most of us in this situation.

While the report might not convince everybody that this is real, it should be convincing enough to warrant further examination, either to prove it beyond doubt, or to expose it as fraud. Just being a big-mouthed sceptic claiming that it does not fit their world view, so it cannot be will not help. Thats just a bit more pathetic than the shouting "Horray! Instant salvation!" from the other side. Over 100 years ago, scientists calculated that the sun, if made from burning coal, would have buned out long ago. Anything else did not fit their world view. We now know better. Always remember that!

Comment: Economists and Math (Score 1) 290

by treczoks (#42784639) Attached to: Australian Economists Predictions No Better Than Flipping a Coin

Back in university we had one math course in the same building where the non-scientific junk (economists, legal and suchlike) loitered.
One day we found the board filled with a big formula, obviously left over from the economy guys. We spotted some (for us) obvious problems, and our professor did so, too, when he arrived. He decided that we should analyse the formula, and we found that even with using irrationally high precision, the error margin for a computer implementation (and nobody would do thousands of iterarions manually...) of the algorithm exceeded the expected result range many times over.

Our professor later had a talk with the economy professor, who then admitted that he just copied some formulas together without even knowing that precision errors could add up like this...

Economists don't know shit about math. Thats why I check everything a bank offers to me, and I found a lot of errors over the years! And if it is not an error, I can at least see where they try to bullshit me. Just last year a bank offered an investment that in best case would gain 0.6% p/a over 20+ years - if I was lucky. The lady who was trying hard to sell me the contract (and who would have gained a large commission) had to ask someone else to confirm my results.

Comment: Why should I? (Score 1) 148

by treczoks (#33214162) Attached to: Could Crowdsourcing Help the SEC Detect Fraud?

Croudsourcing might be a nice idea in general when dealing with vast problems and patterns, but what is the reward?

When I write an article for *pedia, I "scratch an itch" or increase the worlds' knowlege (well, at least the enthropy...). When I do somethink like Seti@Home, its for science.

But why should I waste my time by sifting through financial numbers? To help reducing the risk for the rich to get richer?

The confusion of a staff member is measured by the length of his memos. -- New York Times, Jan. 20, 1981