Chemisor writes: We often hear this disconnect in the climate debate: sceptic Joe says "human impacts are small and likely not harmful"; alarmist Arthur says "humans are affecting the climate, therefore we must act now". It is not possible to get the alarmist to answer the claim of the skeptic that the impacts are likely to be small. I believe the disconnect results because the alarmist is using categorical thinking. In this mode, if something is bad, it is bad. Water is either clean or not clean. Forest is either wilderness or it is defiled. This conversation cannot progress because the world views of the sceptic and the alarmist are incompatible. The words they use do not mean the same thing.
Chemisor writes: For animation to be smooth, you need to do three things. First, draw to
an offscreen buffer to avoid flicker. Second, swap buffers during the
vblank interval to avoid tearing. Third, synchronize animation frames
to vblank interval to avoid stuttering. Thirty years ago, the X11 SYNC
extension was designed with this exact purpose in mind, but except for one
failed attempt in 2006, a vblank counter still has not been
implemented. VBlank detection capability also exists via the DRI2
extension, but DRI2 is only available with open source drivers, can
not be used remotely, and has no Xlib API. OpenGL can synchronize
buffer swapping, but only in 3D application, and only synchronously
via glFinish. As things currently stand, smooth animation is not
possible to implement under X, so here's a question for you, Slashdot:
what can we do about this? Whom can we beg or pay for this functionality,
so important if we are ever to see any games on Linux?
Chemisor writes: While there has been a lot of handwaving in the media about everyone's need for health insurance, very little attention has been given to actually quantifying this need. A nerd like me needs hard numbers for things like total health risk and how much an insurance premium is really worth. So, here's a small article talking about these very things in mathematical terms, and calculating some interesting conclusions. For example, that a typical thirty year old white male has a total risk of dying of 0.14% this year, and would receive no economic gain from insurance if he has to pay a yearly premium of more than $482.
Chemisor writes: A blog post explores correlation between code indentation and myopia, suggesting that 8-space indentation levels are harmful to the eyes. The idea is that the most comfortable indentation level is one approximately equal to your "visual spread", which is the number of letters you can perceive all at once without moving your eye focus. Increasing visual spread is a common speed reading technique, which the author conjectures may cause myopia by encouraging the eye to favor field width over sharpness. He then further postulates that people who read faster tend to need wider indentation to accomodate their wider visual spread, which in turn encourages wider visual spread in programmers subsequently reading that code, causing a vicious circle of vision deterioration, and suggests that 8-space indentation be avoided to preserve the vision of the next generation of programmers.
Chemisor writes: BlackLight Power announced the successful testing of a 50kW power generator running on hydrogen from water. Many of you already know about BlackLight Power and its owner Randall Mills as associated with his Classical Quantum Mechanics and hydrinos. Due to lack of an actual working generator, people were naturally skeptical of his claims, and nothing much has been heard about them over the last ten years. Now it appears they are ready with actual commercial production of a hydrino power plant, and if that works, it would be the most important event in the history of physics since 1937.
Chemisor writes: According to new research by a Swiss university, it doesn't pay to be smart. "Scientists Tadeusz Kawecki and Joep Burger at the University of Lausanne said they had discovered a negative correlation between an improvement in a fly's mental capacity and its longevity". In the experiments, eugenic methods have been applied to a population of flies, demonstrating a measurable increase in intelligence after 30 to 40 generations. The smart flies lived 50-60 days, while the stupid ones in the control population lived 80-85. "This would explain why flies, like most other animals, have hardly developed their neural capacities," the researchers said.
Chemisor writes: According to the latest survey by AP, 34% of the US population believes in ghosts. Among other interesting results are 19% who believe in spells and witchcraft, 48% who believe in ESP, and 5% (including at least one computer programmer!) who have seen a monster in their closet. Something tells me that the decline in the US science education levels has a ways to go yet...
Chemisor writes: 64 bit processors have been around for a while now, but on the software side the transition to 64 bit is curiously avoided. Whenever people hear I run a 64 bit OS, their reaction is incredulous; "What, you have more than 2G of RAM?" or "What are you running that you need 64 bit?" as if using software native to the processor were not sufficient justification. Even the 64 bit Linux distributions like Slamd inexplicably put 64 bit libs into/usr/lib64, instead of/usr/lib, where native stuff ought to go. Very few packages are shipped with a 64 bit version, on Linux or Windows, and 64 bit Windows drivers are frequently missing. It is as though everyone is covertly hoping that 64 bit will just go away.
As a programmer, I find this attitude difficult to understand. Of course I want 64 bit; it's the architecture of my processor, for one. The increased register set and the cleaner x86_64 ABI could be adequate justification all by themselves. Then there is the fact that 64 bit is the last upgrade we'll ever need. While 2^32 is still within human limits, being smaller than the world population, 2^64 of anything is nearly impossible to imagine. 2037 is far away yet, but not nearly as far away as the death of our Sun, which is much closer than 2^64 seconds. Finally, there is the fact that the newer processors are all 64 bit; Intel Core 2 Duo and Athlon 64 are where the future lies. So why aren't we embracing x86_64 instead of grudgingly and condescendingly allowing it to coexist with our legacy 32 bit applications?
Chemisor writes: In several pre-game interviews, covered previously on Slashdot, Ken Levine spoke much about making Bioshock a statement about Objectivism. What exactly that statement was, he declined to say, but now that the game is available, everyone can see for themselves. So here's a review of the game's plot by an objectivist, pointing out the jibes and misunderstandings that lead to the statement being a very negative one indeed.
Chemisor writes: The transporter is frequently neglected in space combat by even the most experienced starship commanders, whose macho instincts favor large and colorful explosions of photon torpedoes and phaser play over the subtler methods. Combined with the requirement that shields be lowered for its use, the transporter may be considered by some to have no place in modern combat. This is quite a pity, for these commanders are ignoring a very interesting and versatile weapon that can be used to devastating advantage in certain situations. This paper presents several tactical applications of the transporter in all situations, starting with all-out space battle and finishing with the more subtle applications in clandestine warfare.