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Comment Re:Why optical? (Score 1) 122

This is true, and I think the main point is that such a parallel bus is made possible with the new serial technology. You will still need to sync up each bus, but it can be done at a higher granular level than individual bits as it was done in traditional parallel buses. For example, you can transmit packets of data through the serial bus, containing information to help the receiving end piece together the larger block of data. This isn't possible with single wires since a single bit can't hold this type of information ;)

Comment Re:That it's required for most employment these da (Score 1) 828

I somewhat disagree with this. Maybe these days, finding more information about your interest is easier because of the internet. But back when I was growing up, I really liked programming, but did not find any friends sharing the same interest nor older folks that could give me direction. School made those things accessible to me.

Comment Re:Why optical? (Score 4, Informative) 122

There is a reason that the industry have been trending towards serial and away from parallel buses.

It's been a while since I've done an transmission line and bus design work. Let me see if I can explain this in 'lay' terms:

To implement a parallel bus, you have to have each and every wire be within a certain variance. Your driving and receiving chips also need to be able to send and receive the data within a certain variance. This is because you typically send your data, say a 32-bit word over a 32 wire bus, across the bus at the same time. If the wires (and drivers and receivers) do not match up, your data will be scrambled on the other end of the bus.

The larger your chips (because you need all the drivers and receivers to send the parallel signals) or the more wires you have, the variance between the parts becomes harder and harder to control because of manufacturing limits. The trick is to design your entire system to tolerate the variances of each individual parts so that they will still work together.

But at the same time, you want to increase the speed of the bus (because having 20,000 wires is just not so practical). This is a force in conflict with what you're trying to achieve because an increase in speed translates to less tolerance in the system for parts variance.

At some point between increasing parallelness and higher and higher speed, the increase in variance will exceed the system's tolerance, and the parallel bus becomes impossible to implement or unreliable.

This is why bus designers have been trending towards serial interfaces, because that at least takes most of these variances out of the equation (it's still there but less influential).

The other trend is clock encoding. Instead of sending bits synchronously, or sending a strobe (a separate clock) signal along with the data. Now we 'encode' the clock into the data, using encoding such as the 8B/10B encoding. The receiving circuit can then 'retrieve' the clock from the data signal (it basically allow you to identify each set of data from each clock cycle, and detect problems). Serial interfaces are also usually accompanied by training sequences at start up (may be software implemented) to adjust various parameters to make the data transmission ideal for the environment.

Comment Take the update (Score 1) 750

I work on HP's high end servers that also contains millions lines of firmware.

I've heard of accounts where customers simply refuse to take new firmware because of their prior experience of "bricking" the boxes, and causing days of outage waiting for new blades to be shipped to them. But those usually turn out to be cases of real bad HW defects that the newer firmware has found. But they still insist on running years old firmware that contains tons of nasty bugs.

We all know that software has bugs, and we fix hundreds of them every month. This is not as mission critical as firmware in a car, but it's the same thing. Take the update dammit!

Comment Read the source! (Score 1) 532

Seriously... if there is a lack of documentation, then you just have to start reading the source code, starting at main(). Then look at each object and read its constructors.

And start documenting it. Add comments in the code, create inheritance diagrams and sequence diagrams.

It will be tedious but you will come out of it a better programmer.

Comment Productivity tradeoff (Score 1) 453

The person that the OP is describing is either:

1. A super genious (rare)
2. A senior person that just finished all their training
3. A super rich dude that's been in school (middle-aged)

Unless you're rich and/or don't have to worry about paying your bills, you can't really afford to put in the time and money to be trained in multiple disciplines. And if you're rich, why would you bother unless you're really curious.


Submission + - Hubble repair mission at risk (

MollyB writes: "

According to Wired,the recent collision of satellites may put the Atlantis shuttle mission to repair Hubble in the "unacceptable risk" status: "The spectacular collision between two satellites on Feb. 10 could make the shuttle mission to fix the Hubble Space Telescope too risky to attempt. Before the collision, space junk problems had already upped the Hubble mission's risk of a "catastrophic impact" beyond NASA's usual limits, Nature's Geoff Brumfiel reported today, and now the problem will be worse. Mark Matney, an orbital debris specialist at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas told the publication that even before the collision, the risk of an impact was 1 in 185, which was "uncomfortably close to unacceptable levels" and the satellite collision "is only going to add on to that." "



Submission + - PaY cuts at HP

An anonymous reader writes: This is the email from Mark Hurd. In the middle of the email u will find details abt pay cuts. Also pcworld and others didnt post this news.

-----Original Message-----
From: CEO, Mark Hurd
Sent: Thu 2/19/2009 3:58 AM
Subject: Q1, FY09 Results

Today, HP announced first quarter results amid one of most difficult economic downturns that any of us has ever faced. I am proud to say that we continue to execute well in this very challenging environment.

We grew revenue 1 percent year-over-year, or 4 percent in local currency, and you need to look at these numbers a little differently this quarter. For the first time in a long time, the dollar was strengthening, so the currency conversion was actually a headwind for us. We also continued to show strong operating leverage with non-GAAP operating profit up 10 percent year-over-year. This was a solid performance, and I thank all of you for your efforts.

But really, Q1 was like a tale of two companies.

HP Services — as a result of EDS and TS — had a strong quarter, delivering virtually all of the local currency revenue growth and more operating profit than any other business. It's gratifying, because this performance was possible because of the hard work we've been doing to restructure those businesses.

When you take HP services out of the mix, it's a very different picture. PSG had revenue down 19%. ESS had revenue down 18%. IPG had revenue down 19%. In fairness, across IT and even other industries, product businesses are struggling in this economic climate. And we did gain share in key market segments. PSG and ESS gained roughly 1 and 3 points of share, respectively. In IPG, quite frankly, we still have work to do across a number of dimensions like inventory, both owned and channel inventory.

In an environment like this, there's no margin for error and no tolerance for inaction. To give you a little insight into my world, after we report our earnings, we engage in a dialogue with analysts and investors. They're going to ask what we're doing in light of the current environment to right-size these businesses.

The math is pretty straight forward. From a productivity standpoint, you're supposed to reduce headcount on par with declining revenue. If you believe the environment isn't going to improve, you should take a bigger cut to get in front of the problems. You can do the calculation, as easy as I can. We have about 100,000 people in our product businesses, with revenue down roughly 20%, and an environment that may not get any better in 2009.

I'll be asked by investors, "Where's the job action, where are you taking out this roughly, 20,000 positions?" Well, I don't want to do that. When I look at HP, I don't see a structural problem of that magnitude. There are pockets where restructuring needs to happen, and areas where actions will be taken as part of our ongoing workforce optimization process. But at a company-wide level, I don't believe a major workforce reduction is the best thing for HP at this time.

I think we are fundamentally sound, and when the economy picks up, I want HP to be strong, and to take share and to outgrow the market. I said it last quarter, my goal is to keep the muscle of this organization intact. But we do have to do something.because the numbers just don't add up and we need to have the flexibility to make the right long-term investments for HP.

So we are going to take action. We have decided to further variablize our cost structure by reducing base pay and some benefits across HP. My base pay will be reduced by 20 percent. The base pay of Executive Council members will be reduced by 15 percent. The base pay of other executives will be reduced by 10 percent. The base pay of all other exempt employees will be reduced by 5 percent. For non-exempt employees, base pay will be reduced by two-and-a-half percent. Additional efficiencies, including changes to the US 401(k) plan and the share ownership plan, will also be implemented. Of course, the implementation of all of these actions is subject to compliance with local laws and regulations. Follow-up communications will detail the timing and the plans in your location.

This does not change our pay-for-performance strategy at HP. If we outperform, and there is a chance we will, then we will increase the total amount of variable pay. In fact, the financial flexibility we're gaining helps put us in a better position to compete and to win in the marketplace, and fund the bonus program this year based on pre-adjusted salaries. If the company performs well, if our individual businesses perform well and if you perform well, then you could potentially make up the difference with your bonus. I can't promise you anything, but I tell you...there is a chance...if we get this right.

To be clear, these actions don't make up for all of the decline in revenues. We're also benefiting from the tough actions we've taken over the last few years. People always asked, "Why are we so focused on getting costs out in good times?" why that work was so important. We've been able to bank some of those savings, and we're making a withdrawal, which along with the actions we're taking today, I hope, will get us through this recession.

Again, there are no guarantees. If the environment gets worse, if the downturn lasts longer than we're assuming, if our performance declines, we'll have to reassess. But for now I believe this is the right thing for the strength of HP.

I know this is a tough time. But if we get this right, HP can be the kind of company that not only has led, but will extend its leadership. We can emerge from this recession in a powerful position to create value for our customers, our shareholders and our people for years to come.

Thank you.


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