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Comment Re:Voting options out of order (Score 1) 465

If robots are doing everything, then why are we important? We shouldn't obsolete ourselves- nature is already working hard enough to do that for us.

So... why are we so important? If we can create an offspring species (either biological or technological) that is superior to us, then shouldn't we step aside? What is the intrinsic value of the particular pile of chemical reactions that make up a human? Sure, humans like to value themselves somewhat highly, but if we can create something even better than ourselves and have the grace to let that better thing take our place, wouldn't it be a bit irresponsible to the universe to not do so?

Comment Related question (Score 1) 501

What software can rip DVDs while preserving the subtitles correctly? I don't mean HandBrake's style of "hard burning" the subtitles into the image. I want all of the subtitle tracks copied and stored in the same MKV container as the video and audio track(s) so that i have the option of turning the subtitles on and off just as i do with the original DVD.

Comment Easy: use server parts (Score 1) 655

Build it yourself with "server grade" components. My previous machine was almost 10 years old when i retired it. It had 0 hardware failures in that time, and i retired it only because i wanted something with better performance. The previous machine was a SuperMicro motherboard with dual Pentium II-450, 1/2 GB ECC RAM, and SCSI hard disk.

I'm sure my previous machine would have lasted another 5 years if i'd really wanted to run it for 15 years. The other thing i do is about once per year shut the machine down, open it up, and clean out all the dust. At that time i also check that the fans are all functional and replace any that aren't. Really, though, as long as you don't let fans get overly clogged with dust and you don't buy the cheapest ones they are fairly reliable and will usually run for years. If the machine is placed on the floor, it should probably be cleaned more than once per year as it will suck in more dust than if it is placed higher.

My current machine was built with a similar philosophy as to the previous one, and i expect it also to last about 10 years before it is too slow for my taste. Again i used a SuperMicro motherboard and ECC RAM, but this time with SATA instead of SCSI disk. However, i chose one of the "server" SATA disks that is basically disk built to the same standards usually associated with SCSI, but with an SATA interface. That required giving up some capacity (it is only 74 GB), but it is large enough for my needs since i'm not storing multimedia on it. I added the additional requirement of wanting my current machine to be quiet, so i replaced the heat sinks on motherboard and CPU with larger versions, and then used large fans that spin slowly.

Comment Re:Silly (Score 1) 186

Sending an astronaut is many times as expensive, since we need more safety, need to keep the astronaut alive during the long trip over, and need to bring the astronaut back.

Why? Why not send the first astronauts on 1-way trips? Of course it would be a suicide mission, but i'm sure there would be plenty of volunteers. Rather than spend the resources to bring them back, use the same resources to send enough supplies that the astronaut is able to live on the surface of Mars for several years.

Supercomputing

Roland Piquepaille Dies 288

overheardinpdx writes "I'm sad to report that longtime HPC technology pundit Roland Piquepaille (rpiquepa) died this past Tuesday. Many of you may know of him through his blog, his submissions to Slashdot, and his many years of software visualization work at SGI and Cray Research. I worked with Roland 20 years ago at Cray, where we both wrote tech stories for the company newsletter. With his focus on how new technologies modify our way of life, Roland was really doing Slashdot-type reporting before there was a World Wide Web. Rest in peace, Roland. You will be missed." The notice of Roland's passing was posted on the Cray Research alumni group on Linked-In by Matthias Fouquet-Lapar. There will be a ceremony on Monday Jan. 12, at 10:30 am Paris time, at Père Lachaise.
The Almighty Buck

Cash Lifeline For Bletchley Park 63

Smivs writes "Bletchley Park, the home to the allied codebreakers during WWII, and a major computing heritage centre, has been given a financial lifeline, reports the BBC. The grant of £330,000 will be used to undertake urgent roof works as the rooms of the Grade II-listed mansion, replete with painted ceilings, timber panelling, and ornate plasterwork, are at risk because the roof has been patched rather than renovated so many times during the 130 years of the mansion's history. The donation follows efforts to highlight the dilapidated state of the huts and other buildings at Bletchley. Discussions are also in progress on a further three-year, £600,000 funding programme for the historic site. 'Bletchley Park played a fundamental role in the Allies winning the Second World War and is of great importance to the history of Europe,' said Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage."

Comment Re:Personal Connections (Score 1) 613

Talk to your friends, family, people you've worked with, professors, etc.

I'd say either stick to people that have technical backgrounds or be very specific about what you are looking for. Otherwise, you may get too many useless recommendations.

One problem is that you'll get told about jobs that you are not even close to being qualified for. A lot of people don't understand how broad of a field IT is--they will think of you as a "computer person" and the whole field as "computer jobs". So they'll tell you about network administrator positions when you're looking for a developer position. Or if it is a developer position, it'll be for a language you don't know (or maybe haven't even heard of).

Another problem is that they may not be in a position where their recommendation will do you any good. I'm just speculating here, but I just don't see how a recommendation from someone not in an IT field will do any good (especially at a larger company). For example, someone who works retail at a Target store putting in a recommendation for me for an IT position in the corporate office is probably not going to accomplish anything. Though I guess it probably doesn't hurt for them to try.

So while the parent is correct that personal connections are very important, make sure you are going to the right people and giving them the right information.

Comment Modern Programming is closer to Linguistics (Score 1) 942

I've been in programming business applications for over 7 years and I can you that I use little to no mathematics above high-school algebra. The fact is programming languages themselves require very little math. The math comes from what your programming "about".

Programming is much closer to the study of linguistics. They are programming LANGUAGES after all. They have subjects and verbs and modifying expressions. Putting a logical line of code together is no different from formatting a sentence in another language. Just look at modern languages like Ruby and Python, where's the math?
Biotech

Submission + - 3-D images of a flu virus

Roland Piquepaille writes: "Last week, The Lancet released a study stating that an influenza pandemic similar to the so-called Spanish flu pandemic that killed between 50 and 100 million people between 1918 and 1920 would kill about 62 million people today, with 96 percent of the deaths occurring in developing countries (details here, free registration required). It is reassuring to learn that researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have succeeded in imaging one of the viruses that causes influenza. So far, they've studied the H3N2 strain, but they could soon image other ones. This finding could help to discover how antibodies inactivate the virus — and maybe save millions of lives. Read more for additional references and an image of the three-dimensional structure of the H3N2 flu virus."
Displays

New Research Could Lead to Transparent Displays 85

An anonymous reader tipped us to a ScienceDaily story about advances that may lead to transparent transistors. By combining inorganic and organic materials, we may reach the goal of transparent surfaces that can display information, with no visible wiring marring the effect. The article cites HUDs on car windshields, and targeting goggles for soldiers, but I'm sure we can think of some additional interesting uses for such a technology. From the article: "High-performance, transparent transistors could be combined with existing kinds of light display technologies, such as organic light-emitting diodes, liquid crystal displays (LCDs) and electroluminescent displays, which are already used in televisions, desktop and laptop computers and cell phones ... Prototype displays using the transistors developed at Northwestern could be available in 12 to 18 months, said Marks. He has formed a start-up company, Polyera, to bring this and related technologies to market."
User Journal

Journal Journal: Christmas Music 1

Last time we went to the Turgid parents' to visit, I recovered my old violin, which I have not played much since I was 16 years old. I was never very good. I only made it to Grade 5, and it was like cats being strangled.

Mrs. Turgid, blinded by love, enjoys hearing my feeble attempts at scratching out a tune. She comes from the Methodist tradition (sing loudly and in tune), whereas I am a joyless, puritanical Scottish athiest.

Google

Submission + - Gmail users missing everything in their accounts

BrianOfMN writes: Beginning with a report dated December 19 on Google Groups, dozens of Gmail users are reporting that everything in their Inbox, Sent Mail, Contacts, and other folders, is gone. Some users are reporting that there is a message indicating that this is a result of an attack, while some users have had their account settings changed to forward all their email to a different email address. Many of the users had their browser open to Gmail before they noticed their items missing and got script errors, and many of themwere using Firefox 2. Has Gmail been hacked?

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