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Comment Re: "Of course it can," says government (Score 1) 77

The comment I was responding to was regarding HAARP. And that's "except" FYI. :-) ECC is actually more reliable, for its problem domain, than a triple voting system. The probability that you would arrive at a valid ECC code for bad data due to multiple bit flips is much lower than than the probability of two out of three systems voting wrong. So, it is at least theoretically possible to design a computer system with data integrity throughout that exceeds that of a voting system.

Comment Re:"Of course it can," says government (Score 1) 77

Faraday cages are really good for RF, and I was writing about HAARP. The X rays that you get from a radiologist don't have the same energy level as cosmic rays. The best we can do about energetic cosmic rays is to make our equipment less susceptible, because you can never have enough shielding.

Comment ECC (Score 4, Insightful) 77

This is why ECC is used to protect memory and data busses. At least on the good stuff :-) . One of the issues is die shrink. As the minimum detail slze of the IC process gets smaller, the potential for radiation to flip a bit gets higher.

Silicon-on-sapphire is the main way to implement silicon-on-insulator, which is more protective of radiation bit flips and less likely to latch-up. But since these have historically been required only for space satellites, they have been horribly expensive. Imagine running an entire IC fabrication just to make a few chips. As there are more applications for rad-hard chips, the price could fall.

Comment Re:Boo hoo, just stop rainwater from leaching lead (Score 2, Informative) 144

You might not think so, because elemental lead is not water-soluble. However compounds of lead like hydroxides or carbonates are soluble and can form from elemental lead by contact with water, e.g., 2Pb + O2 + 2H2O -> 2 Pb(OH)2.

This is why it's perfectly safe to drink wine from leaded crystal wine glasses, but a bad idea to store wine in a leaded crystal decanter.

Comment Re:Missing theory (Score 1) 49

A view Russian probes got lost while flying over HAARP, I think Phobos Grunt was the most recent one. The theory is that their electronics was grilled by these high-power transmitters. This one actually makes sense though.

This was obfuscation on the part of the Russians. According to the failure report issued by Roscosmos there were other reasons, including use of non-space-qualified components that were susceptible to radiation damage, and insufficient ground testing.

Comment Re:Boo hoo, just stop rainwater from leaching lead (Score 1) 144

So as long as you keep the lead from escaping into groundwater (could bury them in a landfill with a clay or plastic lining in a big mountain), this is fine. If lead prices are so cheap that it's easier to mine new lead than it is to recycle it from CRT glass,

True, and true, with reservations. Somebody has got to pay for keeping the lead from escaping into groundwater. Should it be everyone, or the people who benefited from the use of the lead?

And if everyone pays, human nature being what it is people will pay to make the problem "go away" without looking too closely at the details, where "go away" includes "making it someone else's problem."

The thing is, if you could completely internalize all those expenses so the cost of dealing with never just "went away", the market would do a fine job of efficiently managing lead and disposal management as a resource. But that doesn't happen naturally, by itself.

Comment Will it be entertaining? (Score 4, Interesting) 49

I think in the early days, these races might be entertaining.

I can imagine that eventually some kind of optimum strategy may evolve and all the teams use it, and then the cars will all do the same thing and the race will be boring. But in the early days, with people trying different strategies, stuff might happen that is interesting to watch.

I remember back at my first job, we found some kind of game where you wrote a program to control a robot tank in the game, and the whole game was to have matches between people's programs. The programming language was simple and there were APIs for things like "throw out a radar ping", "turn tank", "rotate turret", "fire gun", "check to see if tank is damaged", etc. There were many different strategies available: you could write a tank that never checked if it was being damaged, but just drove around crazily all the time to be hard to lock onto; you could write a tank that, when it got a ping, would try to lock onto that tank and follow it and keep shooting it until it was dead; you could try to write a balanced tank that would check if it was damaged and evade if so, try to figure out where other tanks were and just send shots in that general direction, etc. We had great fun with it for a while, and then one of the developers (not me, sadly) wrote a tank program that was dramatically more effective than all the others. The fun died away when it became "watch Rich's tank destroy your tank and all the others".

The question is whether Rich's program was actually optimum in some sense (did the best possible according to the simple simulation rules) or whether we could have beaten it if we had been more clever. I'm not sure. I wish I had copies of the source code to all the bots from back then, now that I have a lot more experience in software development and I might get more out of the game.

This was years ago and I couldn't tell you what game it was exactly, but there are plenty of programming games around.

Comment Re:Shiva Ayyadurai is a fraud. (Score 3, Interesting) 69

Well, it's possible that he's mildly delusional, as most of us are about beliefs about ourselves that we hold dear.

It strikes me that Ayyadurai is in a legal catch-22 situation. Let's suppose for a moment he did "invent" email. That would make him a public figure, and the legal standard used to establish defamation is "actual malice. That's a difficult standard to meet.

I assume Ayyadurai's complaint are claims that he is a "fake" or a "liar". Suppose some random shmoe is interviewing for a job, and you tell the interviewer that he's a "liar". That is defamation, unless you have actual reason to believe he is a liar. But if you say the same thing about a politician running for office, it's NOT defamation unless you have actual reason to believe he is NOT a liar. That's because the politician is a public figure.

It seems to me nearly impossible to defame someone by calling him a liar in the context of his claiming to invent anything. His very demand to be recognized for his achievement makes him a public figure, whether that claim is true or not.

Comment pokey at the jewelry store (Score 2) 63

pokey at the jewelry store

There. It's my favorite Pokey strip. It's also the only Pokey strip I like. I don't really get the love for Pokey... I don't get the love for Zippy the Pinhead either.

I really do like this one. The increasing aburdity of the situation unfolds with IMHO perfect comic timing.

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