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Comment Dumb question - sharing OS disks between VMs (Score 2) 191

This is a dumb question, but is there a recommended way to share operating system virtual disks between VMs, so you don't need 100 copies of the same Ubuntu? I realize you could set up one server VM and advertise /usr/share over nfs or samba across a virtual switch, but are there better approaches?

Comment Pre-9/11 flying DC/NJ/Boston (Score 1) 164

Back in the 80s and early 90s I was working in New Jersey and often doing projects in DC. Taking the train was a lot less stressful than flying, and typically took only about 15 minutes longer, but sometimes I'd fly from Newark to National Airport. There were shuttle planes every hour, you only needed about 15 minutes at the airport to catch your plane, and if you missed it there'd be another one an hour later. (Except occasionally, with bad weather or whatever.) So we'd usually aim to get to the airport 20-30 minutes before our flight, and if you didn't get a bad Metro connection downtown you could walk at the airport, or if you did you could run and usually still get on.

Comment Amtrak in the Northeast vs. Elsewhere (Score 2) 164

Between Boston, NYC, and DC, Amtrak runs the really fast Acela trains, the pretty fast Metroliners, and the slower local trains. There's also lots of commuter train service in the Northeast that isn't Amtrak, such as New Jersey Transit, the Long Island Railroad, SEPTA, DC Metro, etc. Back in the 1980s and early 90s I used to take the trains from New Jersey to DC (before the Acela started, so Metroliner if I could, or the slow trains otherwise.) Depending on where I was going in DC, it was often faster to take the train, because there's a lot less "hurry up and wait" and the train stations were more centrally located.

Outside the northeast, Amtrak runs passenger service, mostly long-haul, with occasional shorter-distance service like the trains from San Francisco Bay Area up to Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. That service runs on the same rails that carry freight trains, and freight has higher priority, so sometimes the passenger trains have to wait. I've never been on one that mixed passengers and freight, but I suppose it's possible that they're doing some of that these days.

Back when I was taking the trains, Wifi hadn't been invented, most people didn't have cell phones, and cell phones mainly worked near the city; there was a big service gap between Baltimore and Philly. I was once in one of the dining cars, and the old guy sitting across from me had the smallest cellphone I'd ever seen (a Motorola flip-phone analog), the smallest laptop I'd ever seen (a 6-pound IBM model you could only get in Japan), and an alphanumeric Skytel pager (which was also cool.) He was Professor Dave Farber, then of UPenn, and he'd just been working on the EFF founding :-)

Comment Low-tax jurisdictional arbitrage for Google etc. (Score 2) 243

Lots of big corporations have more complicated tax liabilities that can't be handled by being registered in just one company. It's not uncommon to have multiple layers of corporate shells, with different layers being the ones that officially do some part of the business in that country so as to minimize overall taxes. One such approach is the Double Irish Arrangement often with a "Dutch Sandwich" in between, and Wikipedia identifies Google as one of a number of well-known large companies doing things like this.

Comment 17.0.5 Long-term-support isn't fun (Score 1) 246

At $DAYJOB, the IT department supports the long-term-support versions, currently at 17.0.5. It crashes a lot, and often gets into a runaway burn-the-whole-CPU trap (I've got an 8-CPU-core PC, so it shows up as 12-13% CPU utilization, so the rest of my machine's ok even though the browser stalls.)
The main add-ons I'm running are NoScript, Ad-Block-Plus, and Ghostery.

It does seem to recover much better from crashes than 10.x long-term-support did, but it's still annoying.

Science

Possible Graphene Alternative Made From Hemp Waste 212

MTorrice writes "A low-cost chemical process can turn hemp fiber into carbon nanomaterials. Researchers used the materials to make devices called supercapacitors that provide quick bursts of electrical energy. Supercapacitors made with the hemp nanosheets put out more power than commercial devices can." According to one of the authors, "Hemp bast is a nanocomposite made up of layers of lignin, hemicellulose, and crystalline cellulose ... If you process it the right way, it separates into nanosheets similar to graphene." Perhaps the process could be applied to related plants (hops?) too.

Comment Military-Industrial Complex makes the world worse (Score 3, Informative) 405

It's not like law enforcement and the prison business aren't also in drastic need of reform; there's no excuse for the US to have more people in jail than the Soviet Union did. But all the world's militaries are making their own countries worse for their own people, making them worse for their enemies, forcing their neighbors to beef up their militaries, and the US and Russia are still threatening to blow up the world with nuclear weapons. Militaries are an excuse for governments to have power over their own people, and to give lucrative contracts to their politically connected friends, and defense contractors are happy to contribute to whatever politicians will give them the most business, regardless of how bad they are on other topics.

There are a few countries out there without armies. Costa Rica got rid of theirs back in the 1800s, not because they're any more peace-loving than everybody else, but because their president realized that the primary functions of a Latin American military were to steal land from the Indians (already done!) and to overthrow the civilian president (which he didn't want to happen to him.) Most of the others are countries in civil war, where there's no single official army.

AI

AI System Invents New Card Games (For Humans) 112

jtogel writes "This New Scientist article describes our AI system that automatically generates card games. The article contains a description of a playable card game generated by our system. But card games are just the beginning... The card game generator is a part of a larger project to automatise all of game development using artificial intelligence methods — we're also working on level generation for a variety of different games, and on rule generation for simple arcade-like games."

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