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Slashback

Slashback: HETE, HP, Regression 233

Slashback with more on cheap satellites, the relative speeds of threads under Linux and two strains of Windows, a skeptical response to the idea that crowds of people are retreating to dial-up access, and some tantalizing hints at products killed along with the HP calculator division.
Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, Benchmarks, Etc. Writing with a followup to the Slashdot post titled, "Who Has Faster Pipes? Linux, Win2000, WinXP Compared" Splinton had this to say: "In this article, Ed Bradford compares semaphores, mutexes and window's critical sections. Pthreads look good, but Win2Ks critical sections are twice as fast again!"

The computing equivalent of Area 51? A short while back HP closed its calculator division. Many have thought HP's calculator department was unprofitable. This was not the case. Many have thought they had no innovation. This was not the case. Turns out that management had 4% workforce to kill and they were part of the cut.

This article explains more. It turns out they had designed several Linux based PDA's ready to produce that were killed by management. Sounds interesting? Go check it out.

The biggest expense was the 12 gross of Estes D engines ... Satellite Designer writes: "The topic of low cost satellites having been mooted here recently, I though I'd alert readers to another such project. The HETE-2 satellite recently located a cosmic gamma-ray burst precisely enough that (with a lot of help from friends) an afterglow was detected, identifying its source. HETE-2 cost $26 million, only 1/3 of what a 'small' scientific satellite normally costs.

A lot of commercial 'off the shelf' technology went into HETE. Nothing from Radio Shack, but there are quite a few parts from Digi-Key onboard. You can't save money by using cheap parts (but you *can* save money by using easily obtainable parts), and you can't achieve reliability by using expensive parts (but you *can* help reliability by using the parts best suited for your application). The radical thing about HETE's parts selection was that it considered parts in the application context (as one would do in a normal engineering process), rather than restricting selection to a QPL assembled to meet irrelevant requirements.

The real trick to keeping costs down is to do the job with as small a team as possible in the minimum time possible. Rather than employing a large team of specialists, HETE's scientific investigators did much of the engineering and technical work. A small, carefully selected engineering team filled in the knowledge gaps."

Quitting isn't easy, and why bother? dmarsh writes: "This new article from C|Net seems to be a total contradiction to last week's "Dump Broadband, Dig Out Your Modem!" thread's article. I guess the important difference being that this one is backed up by an actual survey by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association."

Goes to show, in a large group of people you can probably find at least some who fit nearly any premise. As always, question the source ;)

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Slashback: HETE, HP, Regression

Comments Filter:
  • but only because I'm moving and the &^%$# phone company isn't offering DSL there yet.

    But if people don't need DSL, then dropping back makes sense. After all, it IS money!
  • Surveys. (Score:2, Funny)

    by czardonic ( 526710 )
    I guess the important difference being that this one is backed up by an actual survey by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association

    Certainly sounds impartial.
    • Actually, there is little reason to doubt the NCTA data. Although it's called a "survey," their findings are better thought of as sales reports. The NCTA is an industry association, and will certainly try to put a spin on their findings (e.g., "Consumers' strong response to digital cable services, in spite of difficult times, confirms the excellent value of these new services"), but they'll still report accurate sales figures.

      The RIAA (boo) would LOVE it if album sales plummeted at the same time that Napster was taking off. Yet, that wasn't the case (although CD singles did suffer a drop last year, the increased sales of full albums was significantly greater), and the RIAA reported the numbers correctly. Although they put their spin on it, ("Look at the drop in Singles sales"), they reported valid sales figures.

      It looks like the first article [cnet.com] was a guy trying to create a news story when there really wasn't one. Sure, people will switch from high bandwidth to low bandwidth, but if the general trend overshadows it, we end up with a very different story.

      The newer story, which is just a rehash of an NCTA press release [ncta.com] says nothing about the people who are installing (or uninstalling) cable modems. It talks about sales trends. This doesn't negate the other story, it just indicates that it isn't all that big a trend.

      It's the equivalent of C|Net reporting that I just bought an AMD processor, so Intel had better watch out. Who cares about me? If there are 50,000 people like me, then you notice.

      So, yes there are people switching. But no, it doesn't seem to be affecting the industry. Two separate stories, no conflict.
  • by Ruis ( 21357 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @08:04PM (#2560995)
    .. because I had to. My line provider went bankrupt. How often has that happened lately?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @08:11PM (#2561026)
    The 825,000 new subscribers brings the total number of U.S. cable modem customers to 6.4 million, about 9.1 percent of the 70 million homes able to receive the service, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said...

    I wonder whether (1) this many people signed up for the service during the period, or (2) this many people finally received their hardware/installation. Everybody knows that the pool of broadband installers is vastly outnumbered by the pool of broadband salespeople. No flamebait here, just wondering if the mass sign-up occurred in 2Q or 3Q...

    Also, consider the source of the statistics ("Our research shows that our product is 100% safe...")

    My broadband provider starting sticking extra fees into my bill earlier this year. It's only $6/month, but it's still lame as hell. I'm revolting by dusting off my ol' 56K USR at home & taking advantage of that T-1 at work. BellSouth can rip off someone else.

    • You are mocking me! I can only get 56k at home, with T1/DSL at work, with no chance of Cable OR DSL for a year or so. HOW DARE YOU!
    • if (value cost) (Score:3, Interesting)

      Then you ditch the connection. Just because they raise the price isn't a good reason to dump it.

      Hell, my employer hasn't hired anyone or let anyone go from my group in the last year so just to make up for raises and what not our product will cost at least 7% more. If our customers thought like you, we'd be screwed (but so would our competitors).
  • HP was the greatest (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @08:16PM (#2561046)
    wow, I hadn't heard about HP closing off its calculators division, it's such a shame, as a (still) proud owner of an HP 48sx I'm really saddened by this turn of event.

    Maybe some slashdotters don't know it, but before the current palm-craze, HP's calculators were *the* portable thing to program for (at least in my university, I remember being amazed that somebody got pacman working on the HP).

    To think that a whole division like that, with great products and a great vision was axed just to get the stock price a few bucks up in the short term seems really backwards, but I guess that's what's happening far too often in this period of stock-price-driven management.

    :(
    • I picked up an old 95lx Palmtop a couple of weeks ago at a thrift store ($4). So far it's been a great replacement PDA (My CE 2.0 PDA died a horrble death)
      This thing has roughly the power of a XT and with 512k on board memory (shared ram disk and system memory) and a 512k ram card it does everything I need from a PDA. Notes, phonebook, games, even room for an ebook. Runs FROTZ fine as well. If you can find on of them (or it's bigger brothers the 100lx and 200lx) grab it. Excellent design and will run for weeks on 2 AA batteries.
    • Very sad -- I treasure my HP16C "Computer Scientist" calculator, vintage 1982 and still in daily use. Made in Corvallis, Oregon. Works as well today as the day it came out of the box -- and it was a gift from a friend in Portland.

      No family member would steal it because of the reverse Polish logic. Perfect.
    • I cannot find a single thing in any financial news that states that HP has closed it's calculator division.. http://calc.org is down or /,ed right now, so I can't even read the article to verify if the story is even matches the /. headline.
    • RPN was the greatest (Score:3, Interesting)

      by acomj ( 20611 )
      Its a shame.

      I don't think I would ever have passed all the number crunching civil engineering classes and the dreaded EIT (engineer licencing test) without my trusty 32s.

      I lothe regular calculators now...

      When It got stolen with my bookbag (uggg) I got the 42s. even better! 2 lines of stack on the screen!!! I still use it. Durable too.

      Maybe its not as big a deal now that calculators can enter equations with parens..

      I was thinking of wipping up a desktop calculator that did rpm.... Maybe its time..
    • Unfortunately, the key word in your subject is "was". The HP company that whose products we loved is no longer around. It's been homogenized, downsized and chipped away by "management teams" like the current one. They have lived up to their titles:they've "managed". The company isn't closed; it has "managed" to survive.
      HP was founded by engineers. Engineering is what they knew, and that's how they competed. Today, HP is run by b-schoolers; engineering really isn't their forte. But they know advertising and finance and marketing. So that's what they rely on; that's how they compete. They leave the real innovation to their "partners" (guess who I'm talking about) who promise them success in terms they can understand: market share and intrinsic stock option value. Meanwhile, the company dissolves from the inside into yet another sales staff and yet another brand for the same old Same Old.
      The Hewletts and the Packards might stop the Compaq deal, but all the rats together still can't stop their sinking ship from taking them under. It will take great innovation, not great speeches about "innovation". Good luck HP, you're gonna need it.
  • DSL.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by MrWinkey ( 454317 )
    Question the source? I'm shure my telephone/cable company has been hard at work installing that transponder in the box 25' from my house since January. Every month I call...."Yes sir it should be any time now....."
  • Cable vs. DSL (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dominic_Mazzoni ( 125164 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @08:19PM (#2561066) Homepage
    The other difference between the two articles is that the latter one is talking about Cable in particular, rather than "broadband" (i.e. both Cable and DSL).

    I used to have DSL. When I moved, I tried a Cable Modem instead. I found the quality of my connection was better, and the service technicians were far more knowledgeable. Of course, that reflects more on the individual companies (Verizon for DSL vs. Charter for Cable) than it does on DSL vs. Cable, but considering the number of people I know who gave up on DSL because of technical problems, I wouldn't be surprised if DSL is losing business to Cable.

    Here in Pasadena, Cable is cheaper and they can come install it within a day or two of your order. When I got DSL, I had to wait six weeks for the first visit, and it took them quite a few tries to get it working.
    • It all depends... In my experience (DSL at parent's home, DSL at work, Cable at 3 apartments), DSL lines have generally had much better uptime and more consistent bandwidth. This is not to say that they have never gone down.. they all have. Also, I've had the fastest download speeds on Cable.

      My experience is the general case, but other people like yourself have had different results. I think it all comes down to the number of subscribers in your area, and the competency of your provider.

      Here in California, Cingular Wireless seems to have the worst service of any cell phone provider. However, I consider GSM (the type of network they use) to be the best network technologically. So why do they have all these problems? It all happened when they made the name-switch from PacBell to Cingular, and I believe the major problem is they have reached capacity. Bad planning? Bad management?

      It's a mixed bag wherever you go.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I'm going to have to go with this. The office had Cable for a while. Whereas the upload speed was higher than the DSL line I have at home, the speed varied greatly from time to time (ie, we would have d/l speeds of 400k on average one moment, and 11k another with no pattern as to time of day or site d/l'ed from).. I've also noticed that the uptime is much better for DSL, the cable modems would go out for days (if not multiple days) at a time, whereas my DSL may drop off once every couple of weeks for a few minutes.. I think it just depends on location..

        (location == Greenville, SC
        cable provider == Charter@Home
        dsl provider == BellSouth)
    • Verizon is well-known as being probably the worst DSL provider in the world.

      I have DSL, and while my DSL provider is quirky and occasionally erratic, the kinds of war stories I hear from Verizon people are insane.

      FWIW, when I originally got DSL, I didn't have to wait for a visit. They Purolatored the modem to me, turned on the line remotely, and I set it up myself. Took about a week IIRC.

      • The trick with verizon is to never never sign on for the verizon ISP service but get your own. And insist on a real splitter, instead of microfilters -but that goes for any dsl service.

        The verizon pppoe software for windows was reported to chew the cpu prodigously like you were running SETI@home. That's where alot of discontent with verizon originated. I heard about that when doing research , but then I already had made other plans. I set Verizon dsl up with a dhcp provding local isp instead of Verizon or earthlink with a Linux floppy based firewall. It's been fabulously great (for the people I set it up for) ever since the splitter was installed. Literally like dialtone.
        Oh yes, and another thing: if it isn't a dsl to ethernet bridge, it was never designed to perform with stability in the first place. Whoever your dsl provider is, they don't necessarily want you to be connected 24/7, so as the the technology "matures" , meaning as they get past the tech-savvy, nitpicky, first-adopters, they think : why should they give away hardware that contributes to high uptime when they can buy the cheapest POS usb devices and microfilters instead , saving themselves money and keeping the customers offline a little more ?

        oh but maybe i'm just too cynical about the telco monopolies.

  • What do people think about government run broadband solutions? In my case, the city government is putting a fiber/cable network throughout the whole city and will offer tv and internet through it.

    I have some reservations about this, but at least it should be more stable (i.e., much less chance of bankruptcy) than a lot of these poor companies going out of business.
    • In principle, I think it makese sense: bandwidth as a public resource, an essential service.

      My reservation is that, if it's government run, a few whiny idiots in the community can turn around and slap filters on it, and start using it to regulate what THEY don't like.

      So.. as long as the charter that runs it is about being purely available... it's great.
    • What do people think about government run broadband solutions?


      It might stay around, but it will probably only be as fast and reliable as the United States Postal Service delivers mail or Amtrak delivers people.


      Broadband as an industry is here to stay, regardless of what happens to any one company. So in the long run, government broadband is not really more stable than the private broadband industry as a whole.


      In a truly competitive market, other companies would come in to fill the gap left by the departing ones. The problem is, the companies that currently dominate broadband come from industries that are used to having government imposed monopoly status: cable and telephone. The monopoly status is starting to go away in the cable industry, but is persisting for telephone, especially in regards to the "final mile."


      The first wave of DSL providers had tremendous problems getting the incumbent carriers (ILECs) to give them support when there were line problems. The ILECs didn't want them to succeed because they wanted to offer their own DSL but hadn't managed to get their act together yet. They had no incentive to provide good service and every incentive to provide bad service. Result: bad service. Now that the first wave of DSL providers has gone bankrupt, the ILECs are moving in to dominate DSL. A typical consequence of government interfering in markets.


      So what you're really talking about is a government "solution" to a problem that was created by government in the first place. No thanks.

      • In a truly competitive market, other companies would come in to fill the gap left by the departing ones. The problem is, the companies that currently dominate broadband come from industries that are used to having government imposed monopoly status: cable and telephone. The monopoly status is starting to go away in the cable industry, but is persisting for telephone, especially in regards to the "final mile."


        Yeah, and in the best of all possible worlds...Monopoly status is not imposed by the government in the sense that the government forbids competition; by and large what they do is amelioration of the effects of an existing monopoly (price controls, etc.) Government does not impose monopoly status so much as it acknowledges an existing reality. You seem to forget that it was government "interference" that opened telephone lines up to DSL competitors in the first place, but that's inconvenient, so we'll just forget that, right? Of course, the RBOCs' incentive for doing so was access to long-distance markets they couldn't get into after the AT&T breakup. One of the many woes that introduced to the average consumer was no longer having to hide extra telephones when the repairman came by. Don't forget choosing your long distance carrier.

        Cable was deregged under George I. Guess what? Prices went up. Natural gas prices in GA went up when they deregged last year. CA's electricity woes are partially due to a badly-planned dereg, but the consumers still had to take it up the ass. While competition is always good for the competitors (i.e., drive wholesale up by bidding because we're different companies and therefore not a monopoly,) it's not always good for consumers. Rather than parrot armchair libertarianism, maybe you should look at deregulation on a case-by-case basis and support it where it lowers costs to consumers and oppose it where it doesn't. Unless you have a financial stake in a company assraping consumers in the name of the "free market" you really shouldn't have a dog in this fight. If you do have a financial stake in such a company, you should say so up front so there's no confusion. If your interest is strictly ideological I can't see any explanation other than that you favor the concentration of wealth in the hands of a very few people even when that doesn't include you because you somehow find these people more accountable than politicians who can be voted out or recalled.


        The first wave of DSL providers had tremendous problems getting the incumbent carriers (ILECs) to give them support when there were line problems. The ILECs didn't want them to succeed because they wanted to offer their own DSL but hadn't managed to get their act together yet. They had no incentive to provide good service and every incentive to provide bad service. Result: bad service


        Who's going to provide those incentives to good service? The Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or the government? Remember it took legislation just to get the cable companies to answer the phone.


        So what you're really talking about is a government "solution" to a problem that was created by government in the first place. No thanks.


        In a truly free market you could be bought and ground up for pet food. Never forget that.
    • at least it should be more stable (i.e., much less chance of bankruptcy) than a lot of these poor companies going out of business.

      The government itself may not go out of business, but what will stop them from deciding next year that its broadband services are losing too much money and should be either privatised, discontinued, price increased dramatically, etc?

      It's not like those politicians will be saying "sure it loses money but this is way more important than elementary education, so let's subsidise it just a little longer until it starts breaking even". Most governments (well, local governments) have fairly tight purse strings.

  • PR hogwash (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Exmet Paff Daxx ( 535601 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @08:21PM (#2561075) Homepage Journal
    this [survey] is backed up by an actual survey by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

    -Slashback

    Goes to show, in a large group of people you can probably find at least some who fit nearly any premise. As always, question the source ;)

    -Timothy

    Well, OK, let's question the source. the National Cable & Telecommmunications Assosciation [ncta.com] is "is the principal trade association of the cable television industry in the United States". So basically, they're the RIAA of the cable industry. And they just published a survey that says that consumers are subscribing to broadband in mass quantitites.

    Ok, I question the source. This is like Shell Oil publishing a study that concludes that burning gasoline provides valuable fertilizer for wetlands. Why give PR machines free press?
  • by Virtex ( 2914 )
    Many have thought HP's calculator department was unprofitable. This was not the case.

    If their calculator division was making money, then why on earth was it chosen to be closed down? They should have chosen something that was loosing them money. If there were no departments loosing money, then they shouldn't have had to cut *any* departments.
    • by M-G ( 44998 )
      Ahh, but you have to remember that being profitable isn't good enough. You have to have double-digit growth in order to keep your stock price going up.

      HP has a giant cash cow in the printer business. But printers aren't very buzzword compliant, and don't give analysts anything interesting to talk about. So the money coming in from printers is used to finance whatever projects Carly thinks will give the stock price a boost.
    • by dprice ( 74762 ) <[moc.xobop] [ta] [ecirpad]> on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @08:37PM (#2561131) Homepage

      In the last couple years, HP's philosophy has been to concentrate on a few areas. It was the reason that they spun off their test and measurement division as Agilent Technologies. HP currently wants to concentrate on computers and the internet. I guess the calculators did not fit into their vision of a computer and internet world.

      Personally, I think they should have given the calculator division to Agilent when it was spun off. It seems to line up with Agilent's mission of making specialized electronic devices.

    • You misunderstand the Slashdot mindset. If it uses Linux, it's doing well, no matter how much money it's hemorhaging.
  • Other Slashback... (Score:2, Informative)

    by joestar ( 225875 )
    More information about the very new Mandrake Gaming Edition with The Sims seems to be available here [mandrakesoft.com] and pre-orders seem to be opened at MandrakeStore. Just wanted to let you know because I find this stuff extremely _cool_ :-)
  • The Linux interfaces show the traditional SVR5 semaphores to be the slowest performers while the pthread mutexes are the fastest.

    well duh. Just look at the section of the man pages -- semop is in section 2 (system calls) and pthreads are in section 3 (library calls). As a general rule of thumb, system calls will be slower than library calls (a context switch is involved).
    • Ahem... but most library calls themselves invoke system calls to get the job done. I doubt pthread semaphores and mutexes are implemented without some help from the system (access to shared memory, putting threads into wait queues, etc.)

      Furthermore, any library function that does the same thing as a system function will undoubtedly call the system function (fopen calls open, fork calls clone, etc.).

      Perhaps this just reflects that the implementation of IPC in Linux, while complete, is not as fast or optimized as it should be. This is probably because everyone uses sockets, mmaps and stuff to do the same things, all of which are already fast, so nobody bitches enough about it to prompt someone to rework it.

      Note that I make this statement purely from an observational standpoint; most code to apps I see forgo IPC for other methods. Would somebody care to give an example of some common Linux app that uses IPC heavily?
      • I don't know about specific implementations of the pthreads API, but there is little reason why the most calls can't be done purely in user space. All the threads are already in the same process, so shared memory isn't an issue. Processor instructions such as "test and set" don't typically need supervisor priveleges.

        Of course, I'm overgeneralizing again and someone will jump on me for that :)
        • As I pointed out above (But realized I may have placed the response in the wrong thread). It would be a good idea to compare critical sections in threads against coroutines [greenend.org.uk] as they both involve transfer of data between different functions without a context change.
          Is it really worth using threads with coroutines can be done? Why do round-robin scheduling when you can simply have your functions call each other?
        • but there is little reason why the most calls can't be done purely in user space.

          True; the fact they don't under linux is an artifact of LinuxThreads. As Xavier Leroy notes in his FAQ [inria.fr], a one-to-one (every thread maps to a kernel thread) thread implementation implies that every context switch must be at the kernel level, which is more expensive than a pure user-space context switch. It's the price you pay for simplicity. This is somewhat mitigated by linux's fast context switching.

          Processor instructions such as "test and set" don't typically need supervisor priveleges.

          Correct, so you can do atomic variables in user space :)

      • Perhaps this just reflects that the implementation of IPC in Linux, while complete, is not as fast or optimized as it should be.

        Be careful when you throw that term around...

        I can't tell whether you're talking about sysV IPC ('man ipc'), since it's the only other interface that provides shared memory similar to mmap(), or the posix threading mechanisms.

        They have nothing to do with each other; and that's a good thing, since sysV IPC is a legacy, poorly designed POS (I can give examples on demand).

  • For the actual data, go here [ibm.com].
  • by not_cub ( 133206 ) <slashdot-replies.edparcell@com> on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @08:37PM (#2561133) Homepage
    1. "Goes to show, in a large group of people you can probably find at least some who fit nearly any premise. As always, question the source ;) " says Timothy of slashdot, home of slack journalism and one-sided reporting. So, I don't believe a word he says, and I won't question the source.


    2. "Goes to show, in a large group of people you can probably find at least some who fit nearly any premise. As always, question the source ;) " says Timothy of slashdot, and I believe him. I will question every source. Goto 1.

  • Obligatory link: http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/librar y/l-rt5/?dwzone=linux [ibm.com]

    I wonder what the results would have been if he used the non-portable (non-pthread) interfaces to the sync/threading primitives in linux... because Windows gets an extra boost not having to go through a compatibility API. Are there non-pthread abstractions for mutexes and such? I don't know much about low-level threading stuff in linux beyond clone.
  • by Sapien__ ( 156881 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @09:10PM (#2561228)
    http://www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/linux/librar y/l-rt5/?dwzone=linux [ibm.com]

    Empty <a> blocks aren't terribly useful...

  • by GISboy ( 533907 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @09:15PM (#2561242) Homepage
    I have to admit, I've considered getting away from cable.

    Reason: downloads could hit 400+K/s uploads could hit 200K/s (not bits, bytes).
    After a year, down ~= 200+K/s upload capped at 128K/s. Ok, fine and dandy.
    Insult to injury came when dowload rate varied (no biggie) but a second cap at 128kbits.
    When questioning the provider and calling the corporate office I got "Oh, we meant 128kbits not Kbytes".

    Uh, huh.

    The sad part is no one noticed the drop off in cable revenues at, or shortly after 2 things:
    Killing off the *.divx groups and 'capping people off at the knees' as far as uploads.

    By capping off uploads and killing off the divx groups @home completely negated the purpose of broadband

    Include the caving into the MPAA w/o so much as a defense of its own customers much less adhering to "innocent until proven guilty" therom.

    If DSL could provide a 128Kbyte up/down rate and eliminate the install hassles and provide the service for 20 to 25 bucks a month...I'd jump on that in a heartbeat.
    If the had a you want faster, you pay more scheme (which @home does not do...WTF?) I'd use it and I'd *recommend* other cable users do it as well.

    I can not tell you how many ppl I've recommended cable to because I lost count.
    Now I tell them DSL first, cable second if they don't mind "getting less" for the same amount of money.

    "once bitten, twice shy"

    Ok, in my case it was a nip first then a bite.

    Now I am shying away from recommending cable as a first step. Second step getting away especially if the 'veeceedee' groups start disappearing.

    Then a lot of us will have absolutely *NO* reasons for sticking with cable.
    • He's saying that broadband has no use beyond downloads from usenet. How is this +1 Informative?
      • In some respects, yes, that is what I was saying.

        Maybe there should be a T-shirt that says:
        "I got broadband and all I got was a large pr0n collection..."

        Wait. What was the downside again?

        I forgot to mention that @home scans your machine daily to make sure you are not running a news server.
        Never mind they *don't provide the bandwith* to run a news server and more often than not the *scans* will disrupt your downloads!

        As for my previous post and your question I think the "hint" of fraud is just one more example of @home's...what is the word I'm looking for...incompetance, stupidity, (again) fraud, backward-assed-ness?

        I'm sure someone else could think of a more eloquent way to put it, but this kind of reverse logic escapes me.

        Seriously, look at the heart of what I am saying: you are paying the same, or more, and getting less and less as @home can take from you. Is this the way to run a business?

        If this is the kind of "e-commerce" we can expect?

        This kind of business "hari-kari" lends new meaning to "e-viscerated", does it not?

        (I apologise for avoiding your question as to moderation. It was intentional. I've never moderated and I'm sure there are guidelines.
        Heck I got a chuckle out of the moderations of this comment [slashdot.org].
        What is even funnier is that I agreed with the totals because it was too far over the top.
        Don't get me wrong. Getting karma points is nice, but I prefer to be challenged on my thinking not on how I'm moderated.
        That might be the another point you missed, perhaps?)

        cheers
        • I forgot to mention that @home scans your machine daily to make sure you are not running a news server.

          They were pressured [cnet.com] to do this by Usenet administrators. If they had not, their IPs would have been blocked by many usenet servers. The levels of spam from @Home addresses were unacceptable. These scans fixed the problem.

          Never mind they *don't provide the bandwith* to run a news server

          Right. They provide fucking insane downstream bandwidth and fairly modest upstream, suitable for clients. I would prefer more upstream, too, but not if it means paying more...which of course it would. Bandwidth costs money. If you haven't noticed, @Home isn't in the best financial shape.

          Why would you run a Usenet server anyway? This is a huge resource drain (much more content than you actually read is sent to you), when there are plenty of other usenet servers (for modest fees, or even using the ones @Home provides) or alternatives to Usenet entirely.

          ... and more often than not the *scans* will disrupt your downloads!

          Bullshit. Their scans consist of SYN packets to port nntp (119/tcp). If your machine properly issues a ICMP connection refused packet, nothing more will happen. I am an @Home customer and was when they started doing this. I have not experienced any problems due to these scans.

          Seriously, look at the heart of what I am saying: you are paying the same, or more, and getting less and less as @home can take from you. Is this the way to run a business?

          Given their terrible financial situation [nytimes.com], they must do this or go broke. In that case, they would charge you nothing and provide no service. You have that option now. Take it if you like.

          My complaint with @Home is that their support is absolutely terrible. When I call about service interruptions, I'm put on hold for way too long before talking to someone who does not have a clue. I'd much rather see them pour money into fixing this problem than into a little more upstream bandwidth.

          • Why would you run a Usenet server anyway? This is a huge resource drain (much more content than you actually read is sent to you), when there are plenty of other usenet servers

            For leaf sites, it's usually more efficent to run a caching newserver. This only downloads the articles you read, but caches them, plus XOVER's and other repetative stuff which reduces the bandwidth required by a large amount.

    • The purpose of broadband is stealing?
      • When you steal something, you deprive the owner of that thing. Watching a movie in a time and place YOU decide on instead of the MPAA is not taking anything from them.
        Instantly, a thousand of you are now saying "But you're depriving them of income they would otherwise have." To that I say NO! I am not keeping anyone from seeing a movie at a theater.
      • The purpose of broadband is stealing?

        ROTFL.

        Stealing is such an ugly word...how about "creative (re)distribution techniques".
    • usenet service (Score:3, Insightful)

      by _Sprocket_ ( 42527 )


      By capping off uploads and killing off the divx groups @home completely negated the purpose of broadband


      Subscribe to external news sources - probably put you down $10/mo. Sure, that's ANOTHER $10 a month out of your pocket. But if you're feeling squirley, consider what that costs the provider.


      The traffic used to have a set cost as defined by upkeep of the internal network - call it "internal cost". Now the same traffic has that internal cost as well as the cost associated with increased traffic from the upstream provider. Its possible that the cost of this external traffic is less than the cost of providing better usenet service. Its also very possible this same traffic now has considerably higher cost.


      In any case - you get better usenet service.

  • by paulbd ( 118132 ) on Tuesday November 13, 2001 @09:18PM (#2561250) Homepage
    the article was about IPC (inter process communication). win critical sections do not provide inter-process facilities. in fact, they don't necessary even work efficiently on SMP systems either. 'nuff said?
    • It was about synchronisation - semaphores, mutexes, and critical sections were all compared. For synchronisation between threads within a process, it looks like critical sections may be faster; however, it will of course depend on how much contention there is and, as you say, whether the system has multiple processors. Because of that, I don't think these benchmarks are very useful.
    • The point about critical-section efficiency on MP systems is pretty key. I think that calls for a multithreaded, multiprocessing retest ...

      But in any case, if your application is spending a significant amount of time grinding on waits for mutex constructs (i.e. any of the syscalls discussed), you're having a bad day -- it means your threads are spending a lot of time in critical sections, and are going to spend a lot of time waiting for each other.

      There are schools of concurrent design where you typically have threads blocked on a mutex waiting to move forward, but I don't think those are particularly high-performance models in the first place. Better to stick to the old dictum: "minimize the critical section", both in length and in frequency.
  • No surprise. (Score:2, Informative)

    by VA Software ( 533136 )

    Of course critical sections are fast - that's what they were designed to be. The tradeoff is that they can't be used for IPC, so the comparision in the article is misleading .
  • So I can deal with the fact that Linux is (generally) faster. ;)

    But I would like to see Solaris benchmarked in the same way...
  • I've had Roadrunner access via Time Warner cable for over two years now, and despite various problems, un less they triple the rates I'll never unsubscribe. And so far as I know, the net number of broadband users is still going up on an exponential curve. But I can understand the reasons for the earlier statistics...

    The exact determination is that "more people than ever are leaving broadband". Not that the ranks are shrinking, but that a greater number of people are terminating accounts. Obviously, as you increase your customer base, if the same percentage of people unhook every month due to dissatisfaction or because they can't afford it any more, then of course the gross number will increase.
  • Hmm, hope someone updates, that sounded interesting.

    The reason why pthreads 'look pretty good' speed-wise is because the pthread library provides user level threads as opposed to a kernel level threads. User level threads have their own scheduler and are much quicker to swap out--less data to save than during a kernel thread context switch. Meanwhile, pthread semaphores (and condition variables) should also be faster depending on the user-to-kernel thread mapping scheme (windows 2k maps each user thread to a kernel thread, for example; I think linux uses a many-to-many mapping). This'll reflect in how fast threads go through their critical sections because they may have to wait shorter/longer to get access to them.
    • The reason why pthreads 'look pretty good' speed-wise is because the pthread library provides user level threads as opposed to a kernel level threads.

      Technically, "pthreads" ("POSIX threads") is just an API which can be provided by any thread library. And yes, technically, you can get a user-level threads package that implements pthreads.

      But I think you were referring to Linuxthreads, the pthreads implementation used by GNU libc on Linux. Linuxthreads is kernel-level, not user-level.

      Semaphores and mutexes may be implementation mostly in user space (I don't know for sure) but thread creation/destruction/scheduling is definitely based on real kernel threads.

  • I've had the misfortune to have done some work on Windows NT, and the question that I could not answer from skimming the article was, "Were the installs of Windows uniprocessor or multiprocessor?"

    In Windows, the critical section code will become a single bit test and set instruction on an uniprocessor system (which, being a single machine instruction, is very fast), but a much more complicated operation on a mulitprocessor build.

    Under Linux, you don't have to explicitly compile your program to support multiprocessor, so I would guess that Linux is using a more SMP friendly implementation of a mutex than a uniprocessor build of Windows.
  • At the bottom of the HP Calculator article are email addresses for people to send their opinions.

    The article author also pulls no punches on his opinions of these fine folks.

    I think I have some email to send, my self.

  • What calc now? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dayL8 ( 184680 )
    If HP is going to stop making calculators, what will people start using? Sure, there is some great math and engineering software out there like Matlab and Mathematica, but some times you just want to add up a couple of numbers. I still would rather use my 48GX for that even if I'm sitting in front of a computer - it has a far better interface for punching in numbers and accessing math functions. And the 48GX fits into a (big) pocket like no laptop ever could.


    Does anyone else make high quality calculators? Or are there any good math programs for PDAs?

  • What I'm wondering is how the synchronization primitives SCALE with number of threads. Really, who uses synchronization for *single-threaded* applications? I'd like to see graphs over thread count and see how operating systems handle higher contention over shared resources. In this test, no blocking was going on whatsoever, because it was just one thread locking and unlocking.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

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