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Comment Re:Agreed (Score 1, Interesting) 586

Of course, labour-saving is not the only reason a device may be brought forward. Many examples are about being able to do things previously not possible, regarding accuracy, repeatability and so on.

But the motivation to do things that were previously not possible is to provide labour-savings elsewhere. For example, a more accurate instrument might take longer to build but the increased accuracy could potentially result in significant efficiency improvements within other industries. The GP post is correct when one considers a global perspective.

Traditionally, industry would have to distribute resources to workers within an economy in order to generate additional resources, but this is no longer required. Industry is currently spending resources offshore leaving the domestic economy with insufficient labour. They make money but don't distribute it back (the trickle down effect). In the future, industry won't even have to do that as automated production lines will minimize the need for labour. So with industry not distributing the earnings, how do these resources get distributed?

You can see it now, the earnings of large corporations and those in charge are increasing at a much higher rate then that of a traditional worker. The trickle down effect is broken. What happens now is more of a "trickle up effect" - people spend money on goods and the wealthy syphon off a percent of each transaction. Their resources grow while everyone else suffers. The problem is that without a healthy middle class, innovation and productivity suffer. Even the wealthy will eventually suffer as a result of their own greed as a loss of productivity and decreased efficiency will leach away their wealth.

To prevent this from happening, those who hoard resources need to be taxed. The resources can be redistributed in exchange for various jobs being done - jobs that improve society and result in something of "value". Nobody likes taxes, but if things continue as they are then they will be required. When half the skilled trades are no longer needed, the status quo will result in some major problems.

Comment Re:Sorry but he's an idiot (Score 1) 633

He coordinated with no one, he just decided to run a piece of scanner software against someone else's servers and got caught.

Any university I've been to has made it very clear that this is not allowed - at the cost of expulsion. Not portscans, pings, or anything else of this nature. The switches are logged so this activity is usually found right away. And you don't get a university login without first having this explained to you. It is even common to have a warning screen pop up on every login - "Scan the network and you will get expelled."

Sounds like he was expelled for breaking the rules regarding use of IT infrastructure. Probably had nothing to do with the software company - just a university enforcing existing rules. Wouldn't be surprised if he previously had a warning - the student union wouldn't have allowed it otherwise. Rules pertaining to expelling students are quite strict in this regard.

Comment Re:Else ifs - yuck (Score 2) 399

As others have pointed out, case statements utilize jump tables for better performance. It is noteworthy because depending on the elements within a case statement, it isn't always efficient. If you're testing an enum then it will be great as the resulting jump table will be small. If you're testing an int value, the resulting jump table could be huge - so you have to be careful.

Depending on what you're programming for (embedded systems?) the choice of if to use a case or if-else statement is not always obvious. You have to look at each case individually. But for desktop programming, one should use the syntax that results in the most readable / understandable code. Desktop compilers are good and should be able to optimize the result. The impact of one over the other will not be noticed 99% of the time - while the difference will impact code maintenance 100% of the time.

Comment Re:A true union built aircraft (Score 1, Insightful) 237

Management celebrates by giving themselves large bonuses.

You can bet those bonuses amounted to far less then the amount saved by a 30% pay reduction to all employees. I'm not saying it is right, but had management not taken the bonuses, the company would likely still fail. In this scenario, it is the union who deserves most of the blame while management is only guilty of antagonizing the union.

Comment Re:Here's how... (Score 1) 227

It was the regulations of the banking sector that caused the banks to look for new ways to make money.

So, had their been no regulations then the banks would simply overlook this new way to make money? What you're suggesting is insane. The banks will always try to make more money and will do everything they legally (and sometimes illegally) can to maximize their profits.

Regulations don't exist to screw over the banks, they exist to prevent the banks from screwing us over. Getting rid of regulations only makes it easier for the banks to do just that. I'm not saying that all regulations are good as some do inflict more damage then they are worth - but regulations never assist or promote a corporation / bank into doing what the banking industry did with the sub prime loans. To blame this on too many regulations demonstrates a opinionated point of view on the general subject of government and regulations.

Comment Re:what? (Score 1) 421

LEDs produce very little heat compared to alternatives. Something like 1/10 what a CFL uses and even less compared to an incandescent.

LEDs that produce the same amount of light as a CFL are typically less efficient then the CFL. So for a 1W light, LEDs are looking good. Try to make a 100W (incandescent equivalent) light source and the CFL will be better. If this were not the case then LEDs would have already replaced CFLs. The 10x difference you claim is completely unreasonable.

But the picture is changing. The efficiency of CFLs has peaked where the efficiency of LEDs is still improving. LEDs are starting to reach the efficiency of CFLs - we are now at the point where we will start to see things change. In 5 years time LED lighting could be where CFL lighting is now. But even so, I doubt LEDs will ever be significantly more efficient then CFLs. Their main advantages are the lack of mercury, increased durability, instant startup, smaller size, and the potential of being produced at a lower cost.

Comment Re:Cooling is the issue (Score 5, Informative) 421

CFLs are most often killed by high temperatures, not poor power. Many older light fixtures (possibly even most) are fully enclosed because they were designed for incandescent bulbs. The fixtures got very hot but not so hot as to cause a fire. The problem with CFLs is that even though they use less power and result in less heat, the ambient temperature inside a fully enclosed fixture will result in premature failure. Very few new fixtures on the market are fully enclosed for this reason.

The next most common cause of CFL failure that I've seen is CFLs being placed on dimmer switches. People don't read the warning label on the package and try to use regular CFLs with dimmer switches all the time. Don't expect those bulbs to last long.

And finally, with regards to poor power... Just as dimmer switches will cause a CFL to eventually fail, power spikes and sudden drops will have the same impact. If you wiring is bad or you have a noisy device attached to power, the cheap CFLs can die early. Had a MacPro with a bad power supply cause a hum in the lines that could be heard the next house over if you listened to the CFLs. It would only happen with drawing a significant amount of power - in my case, rendering video. Serves as a good example of how if you have premature failure then there's something that needs to be fixed - or else you are asking for other, more expensive problems.

Comment Re:Apples and Oranges sometimes (Score 3, Interesting) 163

One thing to keep in mind is that the ARM is much more general purpose while the Intel chips tend to have a more complex assembly instruction set. So for adding one number to another (x=y+z) I suspect the simpler ARM architecture is going to win on power consumption. But many Intel chips have assembly instructions specifically for crazy things like AES encryption. This is used as the basis of many encryption protocols, hashing, and random number generation. So if a machine is basically serving up all encrypted data then it is possible that an Intel chip will be much faster and consume much less power while performing these operations.

Not really important. The Intel chips convert assembly instruction into microcode - how they implement it internally (either dedicated hardware or reusing existing silicon) is up to them. You can't make a blanket statement like that unless Intel has specifically stated that hardware support is included. But in general, the Atom series trims as much off the CPU core as possible so don't be surprised if hardware support for some of those exotic instructions is lacking. And many ARM cores include instructions that are just as interesting - mostly for the embedded DSP market. A manufacturer, with the appropriate license, can include whatever instructions and dedicated hardware they want.

What likely matters more then the instructions is the included memory and cache. Intel likely includes a larger cache - which will drive up the price. Cache is usually static and has a very low power draw when not in use. By including a large cache, Intel can minimize expensive requests to memory. Also note that DIMMs have a significant constant current draw. Low power DIMMs are available but more expensive. You can bet that Intel used the latest and greatest for their demo while others might opt for the cheaper and slightly more power hungry DIMMs.

This demo shows how having a process 1 step more advanced then the competition can make a big difference wrt power consumption. But newer ARMs will be available soon - I believe Samsung is scheduled for roll out 28nm in the near future. Intel still has a long way to go to convince manufacturers that they should pay more for what ARM can do for less.

Comment Re:Bureaucracy (Score 1) 735

But the goal shouldn't be to eliminate it - it should be to make sure it serves its purpose, while getting in the way as little as possible.

So very true. And this should also apply to almost every other aspect of law in our society. Every law should include, not only the definition of the law, but reasons for the existence of the law. In the future, should it be shown the reasons for a law no longer apply, the law can be either removed or reinstated with updated reasoning.

Such a system would require us to rethink our laws to ensure they stay relevant. Needless red tape would be removed resulting in greater efficiency. And in addition, it would be more difficult for laws to be wrongfully enforced - a boost to our civil liberties.

Comment Re:Great... (Score 1) 395

If the house has a aluminium foil wrapping, it is either a house built before plastic was available or the foil was being used as more then just a vapour barrier. Probably an attempt to reflect radiant heat.

But you are absolutely right about the need of a vapour barrier. Most contractors don't understand just how important it is. With modern construction materials (windows, insulation) the overall effectiveness of the insulation has increased significantly over the years. But better insulation just increases the need for a proper vapour barrier. Every little mistake results in condensation within the insulation which leads to water damage and a larger heating bill. I had to tear apart the ceiling of my parents new house because the idiot contractor didn't know what they were doing. The ceiling was dripping water and house was always so cold - and it wasn't from a leak.

But back on topic, another common problem with radio signals and construction materials is the coating they put on hardwood floors. Some type of aluminium based compound? Can't remember exactly but it was mentioned on slashdot a couple years ago so it must be true.

Comment Re:Need more information (Score 1) 260

Probably means "a machine that works". I use Linux at work and I started out with an older ATI card. What a mess, ended up putting in a cheap Nvidia card and that cleared up most, but not all, of my problems. Strange things still happen - like inverted colors in flash. Sure it can (and has) been fixed but I personally don't want to waste my time with such things.

Overall, I would say that Linux drivers generally suck when it comes to video cards. The one exception is Intel as the newer iSeries CPUs appear have good driver support. So my suggestion would be to pick up a laptop with a supported WiFi chipset, embedded Intel video, and a comfortable keyboard / screen / trackpad. It mostly depends on personal preference so it's not easy to recommend a specific laptop.

Comment Re:Now maybe finally we'll see the end (Score 1) 204

Hope not, by splitting into multiple rar files you can prioritize the order that they download. If you can get the first couple of rar files completely downloaded, you can unrar them or play them in VLC to verify you're downloading what you intended to. If it's just one big file it's much harder to preview and it's easy to waste a pile of bandwidth on garbage.

Comment Re:Irony or Dispair (Score 1) 215

the iPad will find its rightful place in the inevitable high margin//small share niche Apple seems to love so much on the desktop.

This would be fine. So long as there are multiple players in the mobile OS space, everyone benefits. Should any one player, even Android, hold over 90% then innovation will stagnate. It's great that both iOS and Android are doing well. Having Windows 8 enter the market is also great as it gives developers another reason to think about cross platform compatibility when writing their applications. With developers creating inherently cross platform apps, there is always the possibility of new mobile OSes entering the market. This was not possible on the desktop as everyone was tied to Microsoft and Intel. What we are seeing now is a market develop without those ties - and that's great for everyone.

Comment Re:What's the clear advantage of LLVM? (Score 1) 360

It you are working on source code, chances are it will be cached in memory when you go to compile. The seek times don't have much of an impact assuming your OS does a good job at caching. Now I'm not saying that SSDs aren't great, just that the impact of disk access speed is not as pronounced as you make it sound - at least when compiling the same code multiple times. But when it comes to boot speed, or the time required to compile code that isn't cached, SSDs are amazing.

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