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Comment FLOSS development as it should be (Score 5, Insightful) 68

From the release announcement:

* Port to ARM AArch64 contributed by Linaro.

From that organization's website:

"it wants to provide the best software foundations to everyone, and to reduce non-differentiating and costly low level fragmentation."

"Linaro was established in June 2010 by founding members ARM, Freescale, IBM, Samsung, ST-Ericsson and Texas instruments (TI). Members provide engineering resources and funding. Linaro's goals are to deliver value to its members through enabling their engineering teams to focus on differentiation and product delivery, and to reduce time to market for OEM/ODMs delivering open source based products using ARM technology."

(member list quite a bit longer than above names)

In other words: many commercial enterprises, that are in it for the money and fighting each other in the marketplace, but working together to improve something that's out there in the open, free for all to use. So that what's common to all, is the best it can be, and each vendor can focus its resources on what makes their product different from the rest of the pack.

Sigh - how much better life could be if that principle were applied more often...

Comment Most important = small (Score 2) 172

Total ~150G... guess that's low end of the scale these days. :-)

But the funny thing is: what I consider most important, are also the smallest files. What takes up the most space (movies, in my case) is also the stuff that I wouldn't care much about if it were lost, and/or is easy to re-create from original media.

Bottom line: what really matters, is a small subset that easily fits on an USB stick. And has done so for a number of years now (and my backup strategy reflects that). So who cares about all those GB's or TB's you've got on top of that? As long as USB sticks are cheap and I'm not juggling stacks of CD's / DVD's all day long, I'm good.

Comment Re:Amazon (Score 1) 97

"more resilient than that of any other" ? Come on, let's face it: the only resilient businesses are family-run businesses that have been doing the same thing for a century or so.

In the .com field even the biggest players can go tits up (or more likely: taken over by another company) if they make a series of stupid decisions. As for Amazon, I'd guess they do fine because they're well.. actually selling stuff. Like, physical items. And many of them (duh). Unlike companies that deal in virtual goods / services whose value may evaporate when people lose interest or something better pops up.

Comment QA fail (Score 2) 241

Worse, the article hints at a bigger problem:

"We had "pushed" a new build out to end-users, and now none of them could play the game!"

Which I read as: developers write & debug code, that code goes through a build server which builds it & combines with game data etc, result of that is pushed to users. The obvious step missing here: make sure the exact same stuff you're pushing to users, is working & tested thoroughly before release. Seems like a gaping Quality Assurance fail right there, forget differences between developer and production systems.

Skip that step and you're implicitly assuming that correct code (like, what's known to work well on developer's system) will produce correct working end product. Even if developer's system and production systems are configured 100% the same, that assumption is still flawed: there's always the possibility of file corruption, eg. a random single-bit error that occurs somewhere during the build process, or anything else that goes into the end product which a developer doesn't check directly.

Of course it's best to make sure individual steps in the process are reliable, but whatever you do: at the very least check what you kick out the door. QA 101.

Comment Re:The memory thing... (Score 5, Informative) 241

The defect rate on hardware is so low you don't need to - buy your stuff from Newegg, assemble, and install. Either it's DOA or runs forever.

Look up "bathtub curve" sometime. Even well-built, perfectly working gear is aging, aging usually translates into "reduced performance / reliability", and any electronic part will fail sometime. Possibly gradually. Especially the just-makes-it-past-warranty crap that's sold these days. And there may be instabilities / incompatibilities that only show under very specific conditions (like when a system is pushed really hard).

That's ignoring things like ambient temperature variations, CPU coolers clogging with dust over the years, sporadic contact problems on connectors, or the odd cosmic ray that nukes a bit in RAM (yes that happens, too). A lot of things must come together to have (and keep) a reliable working computer, so a lot of things can go wrong and put an end to that.

Comment Re:I don't believe 1% of computers give wrong answ (Score 2) 241

I won't go into specific reasons you mention, but it is perfectly possible to write code that has a known, fully deterministic result. After all: compilers produce machine code, and the bulk of that is integer operations which have exactly defined behavior with 0 room for interpretation (when it comes to digital logic like CPU's, "defined" is deterministic). Maybe there are exceptions (like floating point? don't count on it), maybe for some types of operations you need to sidestep a compiler and code some assembly directly, but that's beside the point.

With that in hand, expect some of computed results to turn out wrong. Knowing what junk parts go into computers sometimes, how shoddy some machines are built, and how some people abuse their computers, I'd think a 1% failure rate is probably on the low end of the scale.

For example, try running Memtest86 sometime, leave running for a few hours, repeat for other computers you encounter, and see how many computers you need to try before you see it spit out errors. You might be surprised.

Comment Re:Proud "Owners", heh, sure. (Score 5, Informative) 112

If you talk about ATI and say "until they open-source their drivers", I must assume you're talking about ATI's closed source Catalyst driver?

Have you tried the open source Radeon driver (preferably an up-to-date version) with your card? That driver has made great strides in the last few years, currently supports a long list of cards (likely including a 2 year old card), and is under active development. "nothing has ever changed" does not apply to that driver IMHO.

Beside that, there may be user-configurable options @ play. For example: I recently had an old Radeon AGP card where the difference between "locks up a few seconds after starting 3D game" and "runs totally stable" was made by forcing the card into AGP 4x mode. Took some time to figure out that was the problem, but once known, it's easy to make that setting in your Linux distro of choice.

Comment Re:Great that it supports ECC... but the Atom bran (Score 2) 78

It's a low-power x86 compatible from Intel. Why not apply the Atom label?

Personally I think it's sad these parts aren't available for desktop applications. I wouldn't mind a server-grade (ECC support, virtualization, 64 bit), low power x86 CPU, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. If some company had the guts to put this CPU on a Mini-ITX board or a small all-in-one PC, no doubt it would sell.

Comment Context != IED detection (Score 1) 59

Ehm... in Australia? If you read the article, it talks of 2 applications, I quote:

  • "detect explosive residue at crime scenes"
  • "replace intrusive airport security checks such as pat downs and full body scans and bomb sniffer dogs"

Not saying this wouldn't be interesting for the US military, but that was clearly not the target of this research.

Comment 'Controlling' the internet? Good luck with that. (Score 4, Interesting) 174

With today's centralized structure of backbone connections, it shouldn't be too hard for governments to 'squeeze the pipes'. Which for most users, should do the job of blocking 'undesired' sites. I don't see why a government would even need the help of outside organizations (or other countries) for that.

Technically inclined users will be able to find ways around that. And it'll be very hard (if not impossible) to stop those users. That is, unless a government is prepared to f**k with such basics as encrypted connections. Which would make many legitimate uses (eg. online banking, webmail) impossible too. So from a government's POV it's basically a choice between "no internet at all", or "a mostly controlled internet, but with loopholes for those who know to find them".

With wireless routers becoming very common, it's not hard to imagine that some mesh networking protocol will pop up. Retrieve firmware from your neighbor (to get around what government allows to be sold commercially), upload to your router @ home, send messages around the net by passing them to a neighbor's router, that router passing it onto the next neighbor, and so forth a 100 times until it reaches its destination. All in P2P style with full use of encryption technology. Maybe not efficient (or a replacement for general web browsing), but good luck blocking that.

Comment China collapsing, or not? (Score 2) 94

China has privatized, thus is not likely to the type of collapse that afflicted the USSR.

Why not? There are many, many signs of social tension within China. Its non-democratic government, the big gap between rich and poor people (and rich and poor areas), issues like Tibet, supression of dissidents, etc, etc. Much like the things going on in the former USSR.

Nor do I see much signs of these social tensions getting any less. More likely (IMHO), increasing. The information age we live in might give a push here, citizens wising up & refusing to take things any longer. So is it hard to imagine that at some point, China (as a single nation) would collapse, and turn into a number of smaller countries, like what happened with the former USSR? Maybe yes, maybe not, I wouldn't bet my money either way. China != USSR, and Chinese citizens might behave very different in the same conditions as former USSR citizens, but there's no denying there are many similarities here.

If that would happen, of course it wouldn't (immediately) make China go away as a superpower. But if there was one agenda for achieving particular goals, that would turn into many different agenda's trying to achieve many different things. Any individual one with less power behind it than what China can manage today.

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