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Comment Re:Lack of privacy (Score 1) 140

That's another huge advantage of email: businesses can run their own email servers, ensure that their internal communication never leaves the premises and isn't harvested by the likes of Google, be in control of account creation and naming, apply any other policies they deem necessary, while still ensuring that anyone in the world can contact them using their choice of email client or service.

Yes, but this is being undermined by a proliferation of private and public spam blocking services. Even if a server is blocked by mistake, it can take months and many many hours of effort to get through to the right people to get the block removed. We are headed toward a world where only large entities like Google can insure that their email actually gets delivered.

Comment Re:Beyond idiotic (Score 4, Insightful) 269

Moore's Law wasn't a goal someone set and then did.

It was merely an observation of a pace of technical advance.

That's not exactly true. Moore's Law started as an observation but it soon became an expectation: a required pace of advancement that every fab (IDM for foundry) had to match if they wanted to remain competitive. Over time, the amount of investment required to meet the target increased, and the number of competitors dwindled. Only four remain today in general logic. The economics and the definitions for advanced nodes have become dubious.

The idea that you would propose something like this, as if the proposal itself was actually accomplishing something, is asinine.

But your conclusion is spot on. Even when keeping Moore's Law going became difficult and not just a natural progression, there was still a lot of inertia and economic imperative behind it. Research enabled innovations which enabled products which became tools that enabled new research, etc.

By contrast, there is no pipeline of innovation for reducing carbon emissions. There is a lot of work going but there is little connecting it all. A better wind turbine might not do much to help build the wind turbine after that much less better solar cells or biofuels. There is no reason to expect that progress will follow any particular pace or even be consistent.

Comment Re:Ultrabooks (Score 1) 243

Aren't "Ultrabooks" the Netbooks we all really wanted? We have 12-13" laptops now that probably have less volume than the 9-12" Netbooks they replaced.

Not really. Ultrabooks are thin and stylish at the expensive of practicality and generally not cheap. They are Intel's response to the Macbook Air. Netbooks are small, utilitarian, and cheap. They aren't for everyone or every application but the need for such machines still exists.

Comment Re:DVR and Netflix? How are they related? (Score 2) 70

I kinda have the same reaction as if the headline said "For the First Time, More US Households Have Netflix Than a FishTank".

Putting aside that put are (usually) connected to a TV, how exactly are those two related? Especially when one is complementary to the other (and not exclusive).

Netflix has no commercials and you can watch anything in the catalogue at any time. If what you want to watch is on Netflix, it is just as good as having a DVR but less trouble.

Comment Broadcasters and providers supress DVR's (Score 1) 70

They've been doing everything possible to make DVR usage as miserable as possible. Third party DVR's are mostly blocked so you are left with expensive and buggy captive DVRs that you can't take with you if change providers. (So you lose all your existing recordings) Broadcast flags block some shows from being recorded at all. But people don't like commercials or watching on the broadcasters schedule so they dump the whole cable/satellite package and go Netflix.

Of course, the qualify of Netflix's offering continues to decline, so I don't know how permanent this trend is. Further, the trend in recent streaming offerings is services that look remarkably like cable packages. Cost like them too with often with commercials that can't be skipped, a "broadcast" schedule and no DVR.

Comment Re:"some photos are ill-colored" (Score 1) 475

That struck me as odd too. If the colours in digital photos or movies don't look right, I would try to display them with different software. It's more likely that the software that displays is reading and interpreting the format of the file differently than bit-rot would only affect the colour pallette and not make the whole file unreadable.

Or the OP is using a different monitor. It doesn't matter if the new monitor better or worse than the old one. If it is different and the photos are adjusted for the old monitor, it will look "off".

Comment Re:What about more fragile groceries? (Score 1) 136

Delivering pre-packaged cans, bottles, and jars may indeed make sense, at some point - but I'd be leery about someone else picking my produce, eggs, perhaps even potato chips - unless there's a generous return policy.

Not just fragile, also variable. Is the avocado at the right left of ripeness for my use? Some like their bananas green. Some like them ripe. Maybe none of the bananas are to my liking but the peaches look good. The chicken breasts are priced well but there is too much fat for what I need them for. Maybe I will use fish instead.

I don't see how robotic or even human in the loop online grocery shopping can get consistently good results.

Comment Weak process improvement/Few ideas waiting (Score 5, Informative) 474

This kind of thing was rather common until about 2000. Each process node was better in every way than the last. Big jumps in performance at each node advance. Power went down too. And, of course it was much cheaper per gate. You could get doubled performance and 1/4 the cost by just porting over the same design, trace for trace, to the next full node. These "die shrinks" were quite common. Through the 90's you got an extra bonus for new designs. That is because the industry was brimming with ideas that were known to work but were just not practical to implement because they took too much silicon area.
First the idea spigot sputtered. The good mainframe ideas had already been implemented. It was longer clear what to do with all those gates. New ideas were tried. Some worked. Some didn't. Also, about this time, complexity started to threaten the ability to make chips that actually worked. Bugs became more common. Design progress slowed.

Then process starting acting up. Power scaling stopped. More transistors were available but if you used them, your chip consumed proportionally more power. Run the transistors faster and you had the same problem, only worse. A hot chip was no longer a marketing problem, it was a chip that would not work. More effort and more complexity were needed to tame power. A simple die shrink wouldn't do that much.

Then process started getting messier. The new nodes were not better in every way. Leakage current went up instead of down. Variability went up. Performance scaling slowed. Getting any improvement at all required more development time and money. Progress always slows when development time and cost rise.

Then 20nm planer came and it was awful. Terrible leakage. Required double patterning. Double patterning means more masks mean more expense up front and during manufacturing. It actually cost more per transistor than 28nm. What was the point, really?

That is pretty much the mess were are in now. Can't significantly increase clock rate. Can't throw gates at the problem and wouldn't really know what to do with the gates if we had them. Finfets temporarily tamed power but are only available in nodes hobbled by the need for multi-patterning.


Comment Re:Not very effective, anyway (Score 1) 1001

People aren't testing knowledge, they are testing familiarity. Let's say I want to hire a sales rep for Portland.

Interviewer: "So you say you're from Portland?"

Interviewee: "Lived in Old China Town for 10 years until last year."

Interviewer: "Oh, isn't Rocking Frog Cafe near there?"

Interviewee: "No, you're probably thinking Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Rocking Frog is on the other side of the river."

Interviewer: "Thanks, you pass."

I don't care about coffee shops in Portland, I'm trying to see whether you are actually from around there as you claim. And if you can't answer that question, I'm going to try some others. If you can't answer any of them, I might start having my doubts about your claim that you're from Portland.

And what if the interviewee answered with: "Maybe? I don't drink coffee so I don't keep track of coffee shops" ?

A lot of interviewers think they are testing for general familiarity but they are really testing against their own biases.

Comment Re:Companies doing fine; not comsumers (Score 1) 319

umm wasnt this tried in the 90s and failed miserably?

Loop unbundling didn't fail at all. It was politically manoeuvred out of existence. The Baby Bells offered access to their loops to competitors in exchange for being permitted entry to the long distance telephone market. Once the agreement was signed, their lobbyists went to work progressively watering down the unbundling provision to the point where it could no longer provide meaningful competition.

Comment Re:*All* pay rates will TANK when robots come in! (Score 1) 364

Because if robots take up a lot of jobs, then ALL the workforce is going to be fighting for the remaining few jobs and the value of labor will tank!

We're in a market folks! If there are a bunch of unemployed people, an employer will be able to find someone willing to do YOUR job for less.

"Fortunately" industry has shown great reluctance to hire unemployed people so they won't directly weigh down salaries all that much. Of course, if you are already unemployed you are screwed and if those currently working are terrified of becoming unemployed that will certainly limit salaries.

Comment Re:I don't worry... (Score 1) 364

If a robot ever replace my IT support job, I would have already moved on to something else. The days of spending 50 years in the same job to collect a pension and gold watch are long gone.

It isn't just the job you have that is at risk of being replaced by automation. It is also the jobs that you would move to. Further, if the trend is accelerating then the time between becoming adequately trained to do a job and when it becomes unavailable due to automation. At some point, this period may shrink to zero or even negative (The job disappears before you can obtain the skills necessary to perform it)

Comment Re:Always Assuming... (Score 1) 224

How do you think every single human will die in the next 200 years? Who's going to hunt humans to extinction if we don't find aliens? A nuclear war might work, but even that is no guarantee (ending the comforts of modern civilization is different than no humans). Overpopulation, assuming it even happens, would just lead to a population crash as people die from disease and starvation.

An engineered plague might do it, though it would take some significant engineering to ensure that no natural resistance exists about billions of humans. It has the advantage of easy spread to non-combatants and rural dwellers.

I don't think nuclear war would do it, at least not without a huge increase in the number of nuclear armed states. Humans are resourceful and getting an extinction level event would require hitting improbable places like South America and Pacific islands.

Comment Re:Poll already has an answer (Score 1) 224

Correct me if I am wrong, but didnt we find pretty compelling evidence of bacteria on Mars? Doesn't that make everyone who voted "no" pretty much wrong?

You're wrong. :-) Actually there has been rather compelling evidence just not anything conclusive. Twenty years ago a meteorite of Martian origin was found to have chemical and physical traces highly suggestive of life. However, no DNA or actual fossils were found. Similar inconclusive chemical results have been found by Mars landers as far back as the Viking probes.

So, bottom line is: we still don't know. We have hints but we still don't have answers.

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Truly simple systems... require infinite testing. -- Norman Augustine