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Comment Re:Control... (Score 1) 926

There was this guy who used to write etymology column in the NYT, William Safire. Used to a decent column. Later I learnt that he was a speech writer for Nixon, and a suck up to the christian fundies. He was bragging how he managed to slip in AD 1970 into the gold plates carried by Voyager I and how the reference to Christian lord went totally unnoticed by the scientists on NASA. He was very proud and bragging about how he was instrumental in spreading the name of his god beyond this solar system.

Frankly he sounded totally crazy. His God is supposed to he Lord of the Universe. And no one else had heard about Him, and this nattering nabob of a nitwit Safire spread His name to some distant galaxy? Idiot.

Well, someday, if a bunch of Janus worshipers get some political mileage and seem to threaten my religious liberty, I will do my bit to rename the name of the month of January.

Comment It ain't no swastika. (Score 4, Interesting) 134

Carl Sagan's book Cosmos, theorizes that sometime within the last 10 or 20 thousand years, a comet with four bright tails, came to wards the Earth in an end-on view. That would look like a Swastika. That shape has been recorded in Chinese manuscripts of comet descriptions. It must have made profound impact on human psyche because of so many associations of the Swastika symbol with supernatural and power.

So I was looking for some spectacular six tailed swastika there, but, meh, some smokey trails.

Comment Transistoacking has probably reached its limits. (Score 1) 156

These line widths of 22 nm or 28 nm etc are some 50 times narrower than the wavelength of visible light. Making the lines thinner is difficult and it is approaching quanum mechanics limit. Unless people start immersing the entire etching machines in water or some such medium, we cant make the lines thinner.

Even if we did, there are not enough electrons in these lines to make the "law of large numbers" work. So this time we are bumping against a real barrier.

Anyway, there are not any mass market killer apps based on computation anymore. All the action is in connectivity and bandwidth enhancement. Given the computer market has been split into makers vs takers (or content produces vs content consumers) this is changing the funding models. Earlier the large number of passive consumers buying computers way more powerful computationally than what the typical consumer needs, was subsidizing the cost of computers for the few who actually need that much of computational power. Now the passive consumers are buying simpler devices needing less computation and more connectivity. We can expect coders like us can expect our hardware to get more expensive, like the old line of unix workstations like micro-vaxes or sun-solaris or hp-ux or SG-Iris.

Comment I know this from personal experience. (Score 1) 202

Very clearly etched in my memory. I was walking down the street in Bangalore, unpaved gravel street. Light breeze on. The wind rustled a long piece of dried coconut palm leaf frond. It slithered in the wind just as a snake would. I had encountered snakes in the wild may be a dozen times in my life previously, but none that long, nor slithering like that palm leaf. It was in the peripheral vision, suddenly almost everything else in my field of vision vanished, except for that snake/palm frond. Eyes pivoted to it, I was startled and instinctively jumped, startling a few near by who too reacted as though they had seen a snake! My body language was so clear they thought they saw a snake too. It was sheepish grin, we all laughed and moved on. I had always known our brains process slithering long things in the peripheral vision differently.

Comment Re:The fine wasn't all of the punishment (Score 1) 192

Of course, the people who suffered because of the destabilization of the markets caused by such cavalier trading algorithms can sue to collect compensation for damages. But the same people who valiant rise to the defense of free markets, and "let people do what they want with their money and if they lose it, its their problem" are the same ones who rail against the trial lawyers and push for "tort" reform to reduce penalties.

Remember this folks, when you are pushing for complete free markets, trial lawyers and courts are the only form of defense against the big players. And once the government has been shrunk small enough to be drowned in a bath tub, will the courts have any power to enforce judgements?

Look at how toothless SEC is against powerful traders. That would exactly be the situation in the libertarian paradise where everyone acts anyway they want, and any harm they cause would have to be proved in court and compensation claimed. In that world taxes are so low and the Government would be so powerless and the courts would be so overloaded, the common man will have absolutely no protection. That is the side most libertarians refuse to see.

Do you wonder what happened after all the Atlases shrugged, ditched the world of moochers and moved to Galt's Gulch? The biggest Atlas there called himself Zeus and screwed all of them.

Comment Re:Forget it (Score 1) 187

Automakers have a heavy mark up on these infotainment systems. And they salivate at the thought of recording and keeping all the info people are searching for. Situation not unlike car makers using proprietary connections to sell their radios and cassette decks at heavy mark up by avoiding price competition with thirdparty products. Eventually they all settled on SAE standard connectors.

Same way, we need to get SAE or some such body, at least nominally independent from the car makers, to specify the interface and the dock and the functions that will be handled by the attached tablet or smartphone.

It is particularly irritating to buy a brand new BMW and then find out their mp3 player can not play my files from the thumb drive and has so many issues pairing with blue tooth phones. Google Nexus 4 is not in the "approved list of phones" for a 2014 model year SUV. It is inexcusable. All the computers (mac, win, android, sansa), smartphones, tablets play these tracks correctly. But BMW claims the files are not strictly standard compliant so it is not their fault they don't play.

If any one of you are planning to buy a BMW, take your own phone and a thumbdrive full of your mp3 tracks. Make sure it plays for at least 20 minutes in the car before you sign the papers. But when the car forgets the pairing after three days, or when the mp3 track issues show up after five tracks, it is difficult to test. Just stay away from BMW.

Comment It is horrible (Score 1) 85

They have a plastic tube coming out of the stomach wall connected to a mylar balloon. It is as shocking as that cow with a glass window in its side that allows the scientist to reach in and take samples of semi digested stuff from the cow's stomach.

Forget the belches and farts, cowshit has enough methane. It is far easier to sweep all the solid waste from the cow to retention ponds, cover it with a plastic sheet and collect the methane. It reduces odor pollution, gets methane fuel, and produces non-smelly organic fertilizer. But alas, now that natural gas prices has fallen to through the floor due to fracking, there is no incentive to do it for fuel. Organic fertilizer and odor pollution abatement are the only incentives for this now.

Comment Documentation is overrated (Score 2) 211

Documentation goes out of synch with the code very quickly. The only thing worse than working on someone else's code without documentation is working on someone else's code with incorrect documentation. The problem is so old Dijkstra allegedly said, "Always debug code, not the comments".

Oh, yeah someone will tell me I am doing documentation wrong. How come "you are not doing agile right" is a valid response but "you are not doing watefall right" is not?

Comment Next wave of modern technology. (Score 3, Funny) 178

Let us use the 3D printing technology to create papyrus rolls. And use an email to a post-office which will print it and deliver it to the customer's home.

Or we can speak into a smart phone, use an app to convert it to text, send it via SMS, the receiving app will use a synthesizer to read it out aloud. If the receiving phone has stored the profile of your voice, the receiver can actually hear the sender's voice, on a phone, no less! Oh, wait, some already did this. It is called What's App.

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In the future, you're going to get computers as prizes in breakfast cereals. You'll throw them out because your house will be littered with them.