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Comment Re: How about a 4th option ? (Score 1) 350

You might like to pay attention when the muck spreaders are out - the stuff that they're coating the fields in is not plain old organic dirt (or even soil, which is an incredibly complex substance in its own right). It's not even shit anymore, it's a complex growing medium that's covered by numerous patents.

Comment Re:COBOL isn't hard to learn (Score 2) 350

Given that most of this code was originally targeting systems from the 1960's and 70's, I can't imagine there being an insurmountable number of lines of code

According to Wikipedia, Gartner estimated about 200 billion lines of COBOL code in 1997. To put that in perspective, that's more than the total amount of open source C code tracked by OpenHub.net. Can you imagine persuading someone to rewrite all of that C code in a newer language?

Comment Re:Pay your fucking taxes instead (Score 5, Insightful) 169

And that's exactly the attitude that leads to this situation: the belief among a large subset of the population that they will eventually get rich and benefit from all of the loopholes that aid the rich. The overwhelming majority of the richest people in the world were born rich. They didn't come from being lower middle class and work hard to earn their money.

Comment Re:Slow news day (Score 2) 195

IBM used to have a bunch of aptitude tests for entry-level technical jobs. I was recently speaking to a retired alumna at my college who applied to their admin track and after doing the tests for that was asked if she'd be willing to try the technical track tests. She did well in those and stayed with the company for 10 years, helping to design System/360 and 370. She was particularly smug about the fact that her boyfriend at the time had failed the same aptitude tests.

Comment Re:Another outrage article (Score 2) 272

Then, almost by definition, it is worthless

And yet it works in exactly the way Libertarians are telling us things will work: companies put an agreed-on label on their products, they have an incentive to check unreasonable-sounding claims from their competitors as do consumer groups, and there is redress through the courts (and bad publicity) if anyone is caught cheating. For once, it's a free market solution that is working with a minimal amount of government intervention.

Comment Re:The Cloud (Score 2) 82

This isn't the reason the cloud makes a terrible backup. The thing that you want to avoid with a backup is correlated failures: things that cause a failure of your primary store should be different from things that cause a failure of your backup. Your house burning down or thieves coming and stealing your computers will cause failures of both your original and on-site backups. It's a lot less likely that the founder of your cloud provider will be arrested for the same reason that you lose your laptop.

Remember: it only matters if your backup storage fails at the same time as your on-line storage.

Comment Re:SF salaries are too low (Score 1) 358

No, he's right. To afford a standard of living comparable to what the same engineer would be able to afford elsewhere, he needs to make $500K/year. That's obviously not sustainable for his employer, which means that the rational thing to do is start moving jobs out of the bay area (which some companies have already started - Microsoft closed the bay area Microsoft Research site a year or two back, for example).

Comment Re:Poster does not understand Algebra (Score 1) 358

You can address that by having a progressive tax. In the UK, there are tax-free savings accounts that have a limited pay-in amount per year[1], income on which is exempt from income tax. You could do the same thing with a wealth tax: anything in a tax-free savings account doesn't count. You could perhaps also add an exemption for money in your primary residence, up to the median house price in your region. Beyond that, add a tax-free allowance of something like $50K and most people will pay nothing.

The real problem with such a scheme is that it's open to tax avoidance. It's fine for poor people, whose wealth is typically in cash form and so easily valued, but what about wealth held in private stocks in off-shore corporations? Those currently don't even need to be disclosed, and if they are then it's often very difficult to determine the value of the company (especially if it's a shell company that owns other shell companies that own real assets, with arbitrary levels of indirection in the middle). To make it work, you need complete financial transparency on all private companies.

[1] When they were introduced, this was about £3K, which was pretty reasonable. If you're earning 50% more than minimum wage in most of the country, you can get close to this. Now it's over £10K, which effectively makes it a tax break for the rich. Unfortunately, it doesn't roll over either, so if you have irregular income then you couldn't put in nothing one year and then £6K the next.

Comment Re:It's got nothing to do with desirability (Score 1) 358

Add to that, claiming unemployment benefits after moving also typically takes a while to set up, so you need to have enough capital to cover your cost of living for a few months if you move somewhere to look for work, rather than moving somewhere because you have a job offer. And you're not going to get a job offer before you move unless you go and visit a place to interview first, which costs in hotel bills and transport unless your prospective employer covers interview costs (which only happens for relatively high-skill jobs).

Comment Re:We already had this sales pitch... (Score 1) 144

There are a few things wrong with your analysis. The first is that disk writes tend to be bursty for desktop users. You write a few hundred MBs (or a few GBs) and then drop down to an average of a few tens or hundreds of KBs per second. Spinning rust can easily keep up with the average write throughput of a typical user, it's the bursts that it has problems with. If you can buffer a few hundred MBs of writes, reorder them to reduce head movement, and then write them out behind the user, then you'll get much better performance. Obviously, this won't help for server workloads where you're I/O limited all of the time, but it will help a lot with desktop / laptop use.

The second is that one of the big bottlenecks for modern filesystems is the wait until data is safely in persistent storage. System RAM doesn't help here, because it goes away with power failure. To ensure consistency, you have to pause writing parts of an update until you've received confirmation that the previous part is written. In a conventional journaled FS, for example, you don't start writing the updates until you've confirmed that the journal has been committed to disk. With NV cache, you can get this confirmation practically instantly. If there's a power failure, then the drive just has to replay the transactions from NVRAM.

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