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Comment: Re:What is ITA Software? (Score 4, Informative) 93

by Mr.Ned (#39792545) Attached to: Google and the Future of Travel

Airfare search is hard. Really hard. The guy most responsible for ITA's (now Google's) flight search engine wrote up a presentation:

See in particular "Some complexity results":

Comment: Re:Another Earlier - ERLANG! (Score 1) 80

by Mr.Ned (#29720427) Attached to: Swarm — a New Approach To Distributed Computation

- Erlang didn't get less than a second of downtime in a year, an application written in Erlang got less than a second of downtime in a year. I bet people clever enough to write such an application in Erlang could have written it in another language. Would it have been more difficult? Probably. But just because you use Erlang doesn't mean that your application is going to magically never going to have downtime - you're still going to have to work hard at it.

- Erlang is not necessarily the right choice for "high-end multi-core multi-system clustered application development". Erlang is not fast at math, and if you have a clustered application that computes fluid dynamics or cracks RC5, you'll probably keep writing it in C or C++ or Fortran because they do math fast. Don't believe me? The n-body benchmark over at the Computer Language Benchmarks Game is all double-float arithmatic, and the Erlang version takes almost six times as long as the version in Common Lisp and almost eight times as long as the version in Fortran.

Comment: Re:"Right" to a private cell phone? (Score 1) 232

by Mr.Ned (#28621679) Attached to: Cellphones Increasingly Used As Evidence In Court

I'm not explicitly granting permission for people to find me; I'm letting a select group of people try to get in touch with me. I don't give my number out to just anyone, and even if I do give it to you, I'm not always going to choose to pick up the phone when you call. I do have my phone configured to give location information to emergency services, but not to anyone else.

Comment: Re:Why NetBSD? (Score 1) 129

by Mr.Ned (#27772755) Attached to: NetBSD 5.0 Released

"The package system. A huddle of shell scripts without a strict API. Can be forgiven since nothing essential depends on it. A big plus sign for Linux."

pkgsrc works, but it's nowhere near as nice as apt. There's a Debian port to use the FreeBSD kernel ( that looks promising - the more operating systems that get something like apt, the better.


Are Human Beings Organisms Or Living Ecosystems? 397

Posted by Soulskill
from the little-of-column-a,-little-of-column-b dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Every human body harbors about 100 trillion bacterial cells, outnumbering human cells 10 to one. There's been a growing consensus among scientists that bacteria are not simply random squatters, but organized communities that evolve with us and are passed down from generation to generation. 'Human beings are not really individuals; they're communities of organisms,' says microbiologist Margaret McFall-Ngai. 'This could be the basis of a whole new way of looking at disease.' Recently, for example, evidence has surfaced that obesity may well include a microbial component. Jeffrey Gordon's lab at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis published findings that lean and obese twins — whether identical or fraternal — harbor strikingly different bacterial communities that are not just helping to process food directly; they actually influence whether that energy is ultimately stored as fat in the body. Last year, the National Institutes of Health launched the Human Microbiome Project to characterize the role of microbes in the human body, a formal recognition of bacteria's far-reaching influence, including their contributions to human health and certain illnesses. William Karasov, a physiologist and ecologist at University of Wisconsin-Madison, believes that the consequences of this new approach will be profound. 'We've all been trained to think of ourselves as human,' says Karasov, adding that bacteria have usually been considered only as the source of infections, or as something benign living in the body. Now, Karasov says, it appears 'we are so interconnected with our microbes that anything studied before could have a microbial component that we hadn't thought about.'"

Comment: Re:ZFS (Score 3, Insightful) 316

by Mr.Ned (#27335051) Attached to: Kernel Hackers On Ext3/4 After 2.6.29 Release

FreeBSD has ZFS. My understanding is while ZFS is a good filesystem, it isn't without issues. It doesn't work well on 32-bit architectures because of the memory requirements, isn't reliable enough to host a swap partition, and can't be used as a boot partition when part of a pool. Here's FreeBSD's rundown of known problems:

On the other hand, the new filesystems in the Linux kernel - ext4 and btrfs - are taking the lessons learned from ZFS. I'm excited about next-generation filesystems, and I don't think ZFS is the only way to go.

Comment: Re:How does Stallman use the web? (Score 1) 747

by Mr.Ned (#27304073) Attached to: Richard Stallman Warns About Non-Free Web Apps

"I wonder, too ... does Mr. Stallman's PC have a proprietary BIOS, or did he write that code, too?"

Yes, he uses a free BIOS.

Stallman is pragmatic, it's just that his line between pragmatic and unrealistic isn't quite where you (or I) would draw it. Before the Linux kernel came along, the GNU project had existed almost a decade - he surely used a computer then in order to write (or help write) the first versions of GCC, emacs, and a host of other essential free software programs. Now he doesn't have to, so he won't go back, and I'm sure he jumped onto a free kernel as quickly as it became remotely practical to use. Remember, GNU was working on a kernel of its own before Linux came on the scene. Again, this is not the pragmatism you or I might have chosen, but it is pragmatism. Same thing with FreeBIOS - he was in the news a year or two ago about switching the FSF over to computers that could run a completely free software BIOS. He's also been one of the many campaigning for free firmware, and the FSF has made that an important issue recently. CPU microcode? Haven't heard him talk about that yet, but I'm sure it will come.

Stallman has been working 30 years on getting a completely free system, and he's lead the way for a lot of us that use a kinda-sorta free system and are better off for it. There's a discussion to be had here about the intersection of Javascript, free software, software as a service, and cloud computing, but that sort of snarky comment doesn't help. He's been right on so many other issues - copyright, patents, free software - when he says something is a problem, we ought to at least listen.

Comment: Debian's solved this (Score 1) 174

by Mr.Ned (#26647881) Attached to: How To Track the Bug-Trackers?

Debian's bug tracker deals with this well. It understands many different types of bug trackers - IIRC, among them launchpad, bugzilla, trac. If a bug is opened with Debian, it can be forwarded upstream, and when it's resolved, Debian's bug tracker will mark it as 'resolved upstream', and it can be closed when a package with the fix is uploaded.

Comment: Re:That is easy (Score 1) 905

by Mr.Ned (#25786639) Attached to: Stallman Unsure Whether Firefox Is Truly Free

"Mozilla's beef is with Debian or anybody else messing around with code or the settings and still trying to palm it off as Mozilla Firefox. People are still free to branch the code and call it anything they like, which is just what Debian has done."

What if the Linux kernel developers did the same thing - the only way you can call it Linux is to distribute an official release with no custom patches? KDE? GNOME? vim? emacs? every single application you use? It would really suck to install software, because there would be no name you could use to identify what your distribution was shipping without infringing on someone else's trademark.

Sure, trademark law allows Mozilla to do this, but it's been custom in the free software community *not* to do this for over 25 years.

The GPL even includes a specific provision for Mozilla's worry of "someone will patch it to break it and our reputation will be tarnished" - if you distribute a modified copy, "the work must carry prominent notices stating that you modified it, and giving a relevant date".

Money will say more in one moment than the most eloquent lover can in years.