Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Comment Re:The REAL Takeaway from this... (Score 1) 532 that the EM drive's thrust has been reproduced by several independent institutions. So now where are all the pedantic Slashdot experts that just recently were absolutely sure that the EM drive was bunk?

I agree with you, that was a key claim of the article. It made me extremely skeptical of anything else they had to say because the experimental results have absolutely not been reproducible. The results varied by orders of magnitude and even by direction! The results were always down near the noise threshold. It is true that many experiments got non-zero results that could not be fully explained by their analysis of all the sources of noise. The fact that the magnitude of the non-zero result scaled with the magnitude of the noise over orders of magnitude should be tip off that these claims are extremely fishy. Getting non-zero results right at the noise floor that vary over orders of magnitude and vary in direction is pretty much the exact opposite of reproducible results.

Whenever a new anomalous result is found it is always possible that it will upend established physics but in 999,999 cases out of a million, the cause is experimental error (incomplete analysis of all potential sources of noise). That is certainly what seems to be happening here. It appears that this is yet another entry in the Nobel Prize lottery -- and it has about as much chance of paying off as a lottery ticket.

But for the sake of argument, let's say that despite all of the experimental results to the contrary, the effect is real and this is the correct explanation for the effect. Two points:

1) It directly contradicts the previous "theoretical explanation".

2) The effect does not scale well and would be useless for any practical applications such as space-flight. The effect only occurs because the size of the acceleration is very small compared to the size of the apparatus (the units of size and acceleration are related through certain natural constants such as the speed of light).

Comment Re:Three words (Score 1) 460

Can anyone explain why the verbose arguments require 2 dashes?

It is to prevent name-space collisions when you "stack" short options as in "-rf" (which means the same thing as "-r -f"). The convention often used is that multiple letters after a single dash are stacked single character options while multiple letters after two dashes is a single verbose option. This convention makes things easier for the user and the designer because neither one has to worry about being able to spell out a verbose option with single character options.

Comment Re:somewhat deceiving numbers.... (Score 1) 128

Now with floating point 0.5*0.5 = 0.25 which is a smaller number as expected. If you multiply two positive integers like 50*50 you get 2500, so a larger value which requires further operations on it for it to be useful.

The only "further operation" needed is to look at the higher word of the result which takes zero extra effort. For example, if you multiply two 16-bit words then you get a 32-bit result. The "extra effort" is taking the upper 16-bits of the result and ignoring the lower 16-bits.

There may well be good reasons for FP16 to preferred over using integers but scaling the result of multiplications isn't one of them.

Comment Re:recently, we've just scaled down existing metho (Score 1) 124

I fully agree with you that if we are at the end of Moore's Law then it is because of physical limitations and not economics. As for no preceding tech breakthroughs, Intel's first CTO said (in 2008):

I compare Moore's Law to driving down the road on a foggy night, how far can you see? Does the road stop after 100 metres? How far can you go?

[...] That's what it's been like with Moore's Law. We thought there were physical limits and [now] we casually speak about going to 10 nanometres. We have work going on different transistor structures. Silicon has become scaffolding for the rest of the periodic table. We're putting these other structures into the materials. We see no end in sight and we've had 10 years of visibility for the last 30 years.

I think it is quite possible he is wrong about Moore's Law extending out to 2028 but I find it very hard to believe he is wrong about the history of Moore's Law leading up to 2008. He was in a position to see the tech breakthroughs first-hand. I don't see why he would lie about it.

Comment Re:Moore's law is dead; physics killed it (Score 1) 124

Your overall point may (or may not) be valid but this passage in particular is either incorrect or grossly misleading:

Making small fab processes is getting more and more difficult because these size scales are super tiny, and the difficulty means that Moore's law simply cannot keep going because we have to develop fundamentally new technology -- not just scaled down current technology.

We have had to develop new technology after new technology for decades to keep pace with Moore's Law. This is one of the things that makes Moore's Law so fascinating -- it has already spanned over five orders of magnitude (powers of ten). Take a look at the section on enabling factors and future trends on the Wikipedia page. It is possible we have finally reached the end of Moore's Law but to me it seems equally possible that we have not.

Comment How the US unleashed fundamentalist Islam (Score 1) 1011

[screed that equates a relatively small number of Islamic fundamentalists with the hundreds of millions of people throughout the world who practice the Muslim religion]

Here is a quote from the introduction of the 2005 book Devil's Game: How the US unleashed fundamentalist Islam by Robert Dreyfuss:

The United States played not with Islam -- that is, the religion, the traditional, organized system of belief of hundreds of millions -- but with Islamism. Unlike the faith, with fourteen centuries of history behind it, Islamism is of a more recent vintage. It is a political creed with its origins in the late nineteenth century, a militant, all-encompassing philosophy whose tenets would appear foreign or heretical to most of the Muslims of earlier ages and that still appear so to many educated Muslims today. Whether it is called pan-Islam, or Islamic fundamentalism, or political Islam, it is an altogether different creature from the spiritual interpretation of Muslim life as contained in the Five Pillars of Islam. It is, in fact, a perversion of that religious faith. That is the mutant ideology that the United States encouraged, supported, organized, or funded. It is the same one variously represented by the Muslim Brotherhood, by Ayatollah Khomeini's Iran, by Saudi Arabia's ultra-orthodox Wahhabism, by Hamas and Hezbollah, by the Afghan jihadis, and by Osama bin Laden.

As others have said, while some people who claim to be Muslims attack innocent civilians, so do some people who claim to follow other faiths or claim to have no faith. Generalizing to the larger group of all Muslims is extremely counter-productive (unless you goal is to increase the number of and ferocity of attacks against innocent civilians in the West). The mechanism for how fear-based anti-Muslim screeds in the West fuel fundamentalist attacks against the West was explained in the Adam Curtis documentary series The Power of Nightmares.

In addition, while nothing can justify attacks against innocent civilians anywhere in the world -- regardless of the race, nationality, or religion of the attackers or the victims -- by ignoring the causes of the attacks, by disavowing any responsibility for our own actions, and by instead opting for a fear-based knee-jerk emotional reaction, we only make the situation worse, not better.

Fear is the mind-killer. Often the purpose of attacks against innocent civilians is to instill fear and terror. If we drop our reasoning ability and indulge ourselves in these emotions then we are feeding the cycle of violence, reprisals, and incriminations. Over-generalizations, collective blame, xenophobia, and ignoring the obvious consequences of our own actions just fan the flames of conflict. They do nothing to quell it.

If you consider the people who perpetrated these attacks to be you enemy then know your enemy! Certainly avoid aiding and abetting them by reacting exactly how they want you to react! Blaming, attacking, or murdering other innocents just because they share a country, a religion, or a family with people who are responsible for the attacks fuels the conflict. The problem is not that group-A is mostly bad and group-B is mostly good by comparison. The problem is attacking, killing, and even blaming innocent people. This is happening on both sides of the conflict. For example, blaming Iraq for the 9/11 attacks led to the war on Iraq that killed over one hundred thousand innocent civilians and led to the destabilization of the entire area, the rise of ISIS and the massive refuge crisis. Absolving ourselves of any responsibility for the obvious consequences of our actions and instead continuing on the same path of blaming and punishing more innocent people will continue to have the same disastrous consequences.

You have a choice. You can either keep feeding the conflict or you can work to stop it. Even if your fear-based beliefs were correct and they are somehow morally worse than us then it is even more incumbent on us to stop the conflict instead of feeding it.

Comment Re:Why conceal it? (Score 1) 740

There are valid arguments for not including certain labeling. People that think they need to know if something is GMO should be grouped in with people that think vaccines cause autism. It has no place in labeling

So by avoiding GMO foods someone can cause harm to others via an outbreak of measles or other potentially deadly diseases? Can you explain how that works? Another difference is that people know when they are getting vaccinations and they have access to information about what is in the vaccinations.

The only similarity perhaps is that you think both groups are idiots. I have no sympathy for the anti-vaxers but I do have sympathy for people who want to personally avoid GMO foods, just like I had sympathy 40 years ago for people who had the far-out idea of avoiding non-organic foods. If people want to pay extra to avoid GMO foods then more power to them. I don't see how they are harming others by this choice.

An example of the common perception of organic/health food in the 1970s is illustrated in the lyrics of Escape (the Pina Colada Song):

If you're not into yoga, if you have half a brain
[...] I'm not much into health food

I don't know how to fix the anti-vaxer problem but one thing I do know is that restricting information about the vaccines (like information on GMO foods is restricted) will only make the problem worse, not better.

Comment Re:A minor correction (Score 1) 206

Great writers don't tend to be highly intelligent (if they were, they'd get work that pays better).

What you say may sound reasonable and obvious but it is based on the assumption that money is a good motivator for creative behavior which has been scientifically proven to be factually incorrect. Take a look at this TED Talk by Dan Pink for an easily digested explanation: On Motivation.

In a more global context, the fact that monetary rewards stifle creativity could explain many deep, systematic problems in our society. Perhaps it is unwise for us to put people who are strongly motivated by monetary rewards into positions of leadership. Not only is fear the mind-killer, it seems money is a mind-killer as well. If we want creative solutions to our problems then the last thing we need are leaders who are primarily motivated by fear and money.

Comment Re:Specific and Custom Linux (Score 3, Interesting) 149

You do understand, don't you, that nVidia has never provided OSS drivers for Linux? Their Linux drivers are nothing more than binary blobs that you can only install by booting into a CLI, then rebooting after the installation is complete.

About 10 or 12 years ago I had a Dell laptop that had Nvidia graphics. I was running Gentoo Linux. I reported some bug with the Nvidia driver. Within hours late Saturday, early Sunday I got a reply from Nvidia with a patch to the MM kernel that fixed the problem. The bug was not in the Nvidia driver but was caused by recent change in the MM kernel. I was very impressed. In this case they were acting like an FOSS shop not a proprietary software shop.

I grant you the closed portions of the Nvidia drivers can be a royal pain in the neck, especially when combined with the closed Flash player. There were times when it was maddening but that was partly driven by an obsession by some Gentoo devs to be overly zealous with purging versions of the Nvidia driver from the portage system. Things have been mostly stable for a good number of years now.

I appreciate the Linux support Nvidia does provide. For example, I've been using VDPAU which does video decoding on the graphics card which let me play blu-rays on a machine with a not so powerful CPU. Also, I've never had to reboot in order to update the Nvidia driver. I do have to rmmod the old driver after I stop X but that's no biggie. YMMVG

I am interested in seeing the Nvidia distro if they release one but I'm not holding my breath.

Comment Re:Morons Just Don't Understand (Score 1) 741

Wikipedia is useless for political subjects. Duh.

I recommended a Google search. Is that useless too? I also referred to the sources referenced by the Wikipedia article. Are those useless too? Is the entire Internet useless?

I agree that, as with any encyclopedia, the Wikipedia should not be used as the last word on almost any topic which is why I didn't suggest it as such. It is a good starting place, which makes it far from useless. The information GLMDesigns demands is readily available. It is readily available from sources besides just the Wikipedia. Your comment is wrong. Even if it were right it would be irrelevant since I recommended other on-line sources in addition to the Wikipedia.

Since the overwhelming evidence from a large variety of sources confirms that the Swift Vets and POWs for Truth was a vicious smear campaign that used widely publicized and then discredited claims, the onus is on GLMDesigns to provide proof that those discredited claims are true. Simply repeating the discredited claims does not make them more credible. If GLMDesigns believes that the Internet is useless as a tool for gathering information about this topic then I can understand why they are stuck with their own wildly incorrect personal opinions and are confused about what the truth is.

Comment Re:Morons Just Don't Understand (Score 1) 741

Refusing to mention any facts; and more than that refusing to dispute a stated fact / proposition is another.


If the Wikipedia and all of the articles it references, and common knowledge are all wrong (or part of a giant "left-wing" (ha ha)) conspiracy then the onus is on you to provide facts that prove/show this. The mountains of evidence that are only are simple Google search away are not proof positive but your demand that someone else do this simple Google search for you is ridiculous.

Comment Re:Morons Just Don't Understand (Score 5, Insightful) 741

I blame Political correctness and SJWs for the rise in trump.

The Republicans have also been blamed for resorting to the politics of hate. The best explanation I've seen has two components:

1) The inclination of some people to turn to authoritarianism when times get rough.

2) The concentration of wealth into fewer and fewer hands is making things rough for the working class. Things aren't really bad yet (like in the great depression) but people's prospects are bleak. They are worse off now than they were 10 years ago without much hope in sight.

If this simple analysis is correct then the problem is not Trump. There are always Trumps around. The problem is that economic times (more accurately, prospects) are bad enough that a sizable fraction of the population is turning to a strongman/bully who promises to protect them even if those promises don't make any rational sense.

This has several implications. First, if there is a successful large-scale terrorist attack in the US then this could easily raise the overall level of fear enough to sweep Trump into the White House. Second, if the powers-that-be stay in power and continue their policies of transferring wealth away from the working class then the levels of economic distress and fear will grow, creating even more support for Trump or the next authoritarian strongman/bully who comes along.

The only real solution is to stop waging economic warfare on the working class. Unfortunately, even if Bernie Sanders gets elected, it is going to be nigh on impossible to quickly change the course of the best government that money could buy.

Comment Re:Twim primes? (Score 4, Interesting) 227

I wonder if this has anything to do with Twin primes.

Yes, they are most likely related. Both the twin prime conjecture and these results about the final digits can be derived from the prime k-tuple conjecture. Or so says the fine article. It is not immediately obvious to me why the current result is predicted by the prime k-tuple conjecture but it does sound reasonable.

Comment Re:This has become so common it isn't news anymore (Score 1) 354

That is the speaker's fault. He had updates scheduled and when he shut his machine down, he left it in a state of "partly updated" so that it finished updating when it was turned on. It also sounds like he has a REALLY crappy laptop with a slow HDD, which he shouldn't if he is a "really important speaker". Frankly, the speaker was unprepared. This is not Windows' fault, this is his.

Certainly it was his fault. What was he thinking relying on Windows to hold something that was mission critical to him. Just kidding. Sort of.

Seriously, the important question is not whether the speaker was partial responsible for the debacle, the question is whether people want an OS that behaves that way or if they want an OS that is easier to use.

I've been working with computers for over 40 years (can't believe it has been that long). I'm most comfortable when I feel like I'm in control of the machine and not the other way around. That's why I mostly use Linux. I admit, Linux is not for everyone. The opposite extreme from Linux is Apple's iOS. I bought a used iPad and I'm fine with it too. I like to drive but I don't mind if someone else drives as long as they are competent at it and don't make me want to jump out of the car or hold on for dear life.

I now have three Windows 8.1 machines that I have been using to test Linux distros and Linux UEFI booting. Windows really is the worst of both worlds. It grabs control of the car and then immediately drives it into the ditch. If Windows creates an NPE (negative play experience) when it is used on small, underpowered laptops with a hard drive then it should not come pre-installed on those machines. Blaming someone who uses the pre-installed OS on a computer they bought is kind of silly. If the OS is going to take the driver's seat then it needs to do it with such ease and competence that I don't have to worry about it just like I don't have to worry about the hardware (most of the time).

On Linux I don't have to wrestle for control because it is easy for me to take control. I don't have to wrestle for control with iOS (on my iPad) because I can easily do what I want to do and let the OS do the driving. With Windows I often want to wrestle for control (don't do that update now dammit!) but I always lose.

Slashdot Top Deals

I find you lack of faith in the forth dithturbing. - Darse ("Darth") Vader