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Comment What's the Goal? (Score 2) 160

Functioning computer systems are rarely useless; the E8000 systems the OP has will run software just like they did a few years ago when they were purchased. The most important question is: what do you want this cluster to do? If you want the experience of building it, including solving the HW issues of racking and stacking, and the software issues of cluster management software, job scheduling and resource management, then don't throw the equipment away. There are many opportunities for making decisions that require problem-solving and resourcefulness. Plenty of FOSS solutions, even while using only the built-in network connections for an interconnect. If you have some HPC or scientific cluster-aware software in mind that you want to run, tailor your software configuration to run that. The folks who built Beowulf clusters in the early 2000s had a goal in mind; often, that goal was to provide an environment to develop their own MPI software to simulate some phenomena they were interested in. Are you a programmer, or want to learn parallel programming? Are you offering your cluster to folks who are learning parallel programming? has good information, and FOSS implementations for Linux distributions. There are also Windows clustering solutions, if that's what your user base requires; not free, obviously. So, what do you want this cluster to do?

Comment Re:A great vehicle for a few who are interested (Score 1) 201

It's a fascinating concept, but it is based on a flawed assumption. Any family of two or more people that needs to go to the same place, at the same time, cannot use these vehicles to replace a car. The quoted portion which says, "if all 300 million Americans replaced their cars with velomobilies" is a total fiction. Unless one engineers an extra seat, there's no way for children under the age of 8 or 9 to use these. They would lack the strength, or mental awareness to ride in traffic, or both. This would make a good supplemental vehicles for a certain class of trips for certain individuals, but will not have a significant impact on overall vehicle population. Check the latest US census data about how many people live in families with one or more children living at home.

Comment Re:Let's be accurate here (Score 3, Informative) 815

But ... but ... look in the dictionary. Dehydration is *defined* as a lack of water. Not a lack of carbonated beverage, not a lack of sports drinks, not a lack of beer, but a lack of water. The notion that drinking water cures hydration is correct by definition, regardless of the source of the water. For the EU panel to deny this violates linguistics, not physics or chemistry.

Comment Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (Score 1) 220

Cost is part of it, but not the biggest part. Here's another attempt ... game developers for experienced/serious gamers are focusing their efforts to improve certain aspects of gameplay, address the complaints, and fulfill the wishes of those gamers. The needs and wants of other potential gamers, e.g., 60-somethings, are distinct from those complaints and wishes. I've seen one or two Wii's installed in a rec room at a senior center, where multiple people come in to play. The cost of the console and game cartridge are spread over many uses; perhaps the grandkids see that grandma likes to play when she visits the senior center, and buy her a system for home. My point is: the developers who focus on FPS or other immersive first-person games that take 10s of hours to complete might need a serious mental reboot to consider how to make games for this group, or for the folks who want to play for only 15 minutes at a time on a smartphone.

Comment Re:How does this make the dev managers feel? (Score 1) 220

Your post reminds me of Christensen's "Innovator's Dilemma" from the late 1990s. Console game developers, and PC game developers, are listening ever more closely to their customers. More pixels/polygons, more frames/sec, deeper storylines, open universes. Along comes a disruptive innovation -- mobile platform with a relatively coarse-grained user interface (fingers). Or a different disruptive innovation -- accelerometer-driven Wii-motes. A whole new audience segment is discovered, e.g., senior citizens for Wii Bowling, and casual gamers for Angry Birds. Christensen argued that the existing providers (such as PS3 developers) would find it very difficult to produce such innovations while working within the parameters of their existing market.

Comment Re:same as with everything else (Score 1) 401

Calling them games is similar to calling Solitaire a game, or calling the various betting-related activities in a casino "gaming." Yes, poker and blackjack require a measure of skill, but craps and roulette are just contests against random events. People derive enjoyment during the "pastimes", and that keeps them coming back. The obvious difference between casino games and social online games is that the casino stacks the probabilities so that the house always wins, and the player always loses, in the long term. For social games, the player does win ... the farm gets bigger, the points pile up. Would you call pinball a "game"? Can you win anything in solitaire/freecell beyond the satisfaction of clearing all the cards?

Comment Re:I read TFA (Score 1) 222

A quick assessment ... the hydrophobic ("water-fearing") nature scales linearly with the areas of the molecules, and follows an exponential distribution with the distance between them. The exponential part is similar to the Boltzmann expressions that are used to describe the kinetic motion of the molecules, and they are derived from kinetic theory that treats the molecules like billiard balls. There's a characteristic distance [D sub 0] which represents the size of the organic molecule, and an adjustable coefficient [gamma sub i] that can be adjusted for different substances. Looks legit ...

Comment Usability (Score 1) 203

When I heard the BBC story this morning, the interviewee (in India) was worried that the tablet was so under-spec'ed to be unusable. How much speed and memory do you need to run a passable e-reader? If they can use it for basic math, science, and language instruction textbooks, it will be a win. If they can run the arithmetic learning app that I've seen on the iPad2 commercials -- where the kids use their fingers to write the answers to addition/subtraction programs -- it will be a win. The logistics of supplying hundreds of millions of textbooks to all the various schools must be a nightmare. If each student can bring his/her tablet to school, they can download the books they need. And not the old, fraying books from 1985, either.

Comment Be careful, not illegal (Score 1) 150

There are certainly tragic situations, where teachers have behaved unethically or immorally towards their students. In most of these cases, the students are the victims, and (as a parent) I can't truly understand the pain that those victims feel. But this is a situation for school-wide, or district-wide policies, not legislation. Making electronic contacts illegal will paint with too broad a brush, and not adequately control or deter those people who are trying to victimize another. Even teachers' unions can play a role here. The interviews I've read with teachers, and the teachers I've spoken with, show that those teachers who take their profession seriously, and value their relationships with their students, are already working within strong ethical guidelines. And those guidelines could be shared, and applied more widely.

Comment Re:Citation needed (Score 1) 276

The info is tenuous, at best. JBrodkin's piece alleges that MS gets $5 USD for each Android device sold by the licensees. He does a back-of-the-envelope calculation that LicRevenue = $5 * ProjectedAndroidUnits / Year and Phone7Revenue = SomeProfit * ProjectedWinPh7Units / Year ... and concluded that LicRevenue > Phone7Revenue. Lots of wiggle room in the sales projections per year, given the volatility month-to-month and the guessed impact of iPhone5 on future sales. Will people hold off getting a new smartphone for a month or two, if they think iPhone5 is coming? Or that iPhone5 introduction would get them a better deal on an iPhone4?

Comment Re:You're asking the wrong people (Score 1) 260

Agree, and will expand with some examples. You didn't mention what your small office actually *does*. How do they run their accounting programs -- QuickBooks, or some other commercial package? It may make sense to move some of the business apps from one guy's desktop unit to the server. Is there inventory to be tracked? That could be managed on a database or packaged application. If they're already using a service for accounting or payroll or other applications, you're probably not going to be able to significantly improve on that, with your local box. Focusing on B and C ... You can save money if you can move an app from an underpowered personal system to the server, and postpone an upgrade. You can save money if you can add disk to the server, and share it to the office for less money than upgrading everyone's local disk. You can reduce risk if you can move sensitive or hard-to-replace data from a single point of failure (someone's desk) to the server. But, bottom line ... ask your boss what would help the office run better.

Comment Vision, and Simplification (Score 1) 337

Back in the days when Bill G was the chief software architect, he was known for brutal meetings where he castigated engineers who weren't able to adequately defend their work. He had an overall vision for the PC-equipped universe through the 1990s, and that was informed by, and guided through, the software technology he understood best. So the key question one must ask in assessing whether he should come back focuses on his vision for the *next* ten years, and how that is informed by the technology he understands. He's not done a lot of work on mobile OSes and apps; by focusing on his foundation, he may not (yet) truly appreciate the challenges and forces that shape the mobile world that will be the major growth area in the next several years. Will Larry and Sergey bring a renewed vision to Google, in contrast to what Eric Schmidt was following? Is Google succeeding because it does many things well, or is it doing one thing *really* well (search) which allows them to expand into other areas (cloud apps, mobile OS)? Alan Mulally succeeded at Ford by simplification -- selling off ancillary businesses, and focusing the efforts and vision on specific, achievable goals. Steve Jobs is succeeding at Apple by relentless focus on his vision -- a walled garden for mobile devices, a premium user experience with premium prices and margins. Perhaps Bill G would take MS back to a simpler, focused vision; but is that what is needed? IBM reinvented itself to have a large services arm, as well as its HW and SW divisions -- a manageable level of complexity.

Comment Re:Starting with Chris Eccleston (Score 1) 655

By way of amplification, during the 3rd doctors seasons (Jon Pertwee), the budget was really small. The doctor was stranded on Earth for quite a few episodes, so this limited their storytelling abilities. Not that I have anything against Pertwee's Doctor, but he just didn't get a big galactic/time-spanning sandbox to play in.

Comment Start with Tom Baker (Score 1) 655

That aphorism definitely applies to me. I began watching Dr. Who in the late 70s/early 80s, and my first Doctor was Tom Baker. My girlfriend at the time even knitted me an 8-foot scarf, which I still have. Start there, because his characterization is accessible and often funny, while still showing courage, skill, and compassion. A great toothy grin, and carries off his derring-do with aplomb. The recent doctors are good as well, though I haven't watched as much of them as I did back in the day.

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