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Comment Re:Speaking of computers and bitcoins... (Score 2) 438

You don't invest in money, whether it is fiat currency or bitcoin currency. You invest in things that are known to have long term desirable value. You may speculate on currency fluctuations (and futures, and so on), you might even do well out of it, but that can only work while there is liquidity in the system, while transactions are being made.

For bitcoin to have long term desirable value, it has to have a purpose. It's purpose is to make transactions, at the moment specifically catering to a desire for anonymity. However, in order for there to be transactions, there has to be both a buyer and a seller, and this can only happen if the currency is stable. In unstable currencies, all transactions cease (because either buyers or sellers stop trading, depending on the direction of the instability).

At the moment the bitcoin currency is relatively stable (allowing for the small size of the economy), as mining replaces the bitcoins that have been squirrelled away into 'investment' accounts. As mining becomes exponentially more difficult, the deflation will also increase exponentially. Initially, that will simply increase the value of a bitcoin. At some point though, either people will start to bail out when they see the end in sight (which happens when there aren't enough sellers in the system), or the satoshi will no longer be small enough...

There's no point in having a million dollars worth of bitcoins if you can't spend them on something you actually need or want.

Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of a peer based financial system, and I watch the bitcoin experiment with interest. It has technical merit, but I am not convinced of its long term stability. And stability is the key factor in a sustainable trade system.

Comment Re:mesa (Score 1) 79

It is a software implementation of OpenGL, but it now also provides the libGL glue to various hardware acceleration drivers. So it does have a role on most Xorg systems. An exception is the Nvidia proprietary infrastructure (which replaces large portions of the normal 3D graphics stack).

Comment Re:Considering... (Score 2) 157

Language boundaries are defined by mutual intelligibility of the communication system. This can be simplistic, but it provides a good first approximation that is testable. There are border cases (such as language chains), but on the whole it is a useful definition.

In comparison, dialect contours are defined in terms of specific language features. What speakers call a "dialect" is an identification, and while this may correspond roughly to collections of language features, it is really a sociolinguistic definition of language variety.

The notion of race is analogous to these sociolinguistic definitions, not to language; it is not defined by external factors, but by social ideas. There may be superficial features that are assumed to be associated with particular "races" (much as superficial language features are assumed to be associated with particular dialects), but these features are a poor definition of "race", because they are not clustered, and cross the boundaries of what people perceive as "race". In other words, "race" is a social construct.

It is the notion of species that is analogous to language. Species boundaries are defined by fertile offspring. Again, there are border cases, but it is testable.

Comment Re:What gives? As long as it's close enough... (Score 5, Interesting) 62

The issue here isn't the imperfection of the HP device. It is a matter of semantics.

The 'memristor' was conceived as a term to describe a basic device where the change in flux is related to the change in charge.

What HP have produced is a device that substantially behaves like a memristor, if you are only measuring current and voltage at the terminals. That's useful if you want to build a memory device, since the behaviour is such that resistance will vary with the integral of the current through it.

However, the physics by which the HP device works is not a physics of memristance. For practical purposes, that may not matter; it is a simple device with useful properties. But terminology wise, it is memristance behaviour, not an unqualified memristor.

Equivalently, one can build an active circuit that uses a capacitor and a feedback loop to emulate an inductor. It isn't technically an inductor at all, but it does get called an "active inductor".

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