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Comment "Quiet title action" (Score 4, Interesting) 51

The previous story about Zuckerberg's lawsuit caused me to do a little research. I have never thought much of the man, but there's really nothing wrong with the court action he's taken in Hawaii. What he's doing is a an "action to quiet title". Basically, he has already purchased the plots of land in question, from the majority owners. The problem is that the title to this land is unclear, because there are also many minority owners, most of whom really have no idea they own anything.

An action to quiet title is a court proceeding used to deal with such fuzzy ownership situations, to clarify them so that clear and unambiguous ownership can be established. It involves a process to find and identify owners so they can be negotiated with, or in the event they can't be found to legally remove their ownership to clear up the title. That last bit is unfortunate, but there's really no other way in cases where the ownership in question goes back many generations and has never been documented. The alternative is to leave the legal ownership of the property in limbo. I guess Zuck could do that, but if I were in his shoes I wouldn't want that... and I know because I am more or less in his shoes.

My wife inherited some property from her father. We have a "quit claim" deed that legally transfers the property to us, and my father-in-law had a quit claim deed from the previous owner, and so on back several steps. In our case, all of this was documented and recorded with the county (which is *not* the case with Zuckerberg's land -- so we have a much better position). Our problem is twofold: First, quit claim deeds are not warranty deeds, which means that while they're legal, they are only evidence of ownership, not a guarantee of ownership. Second, the legal description of the property boundaries was changed a few decades ago, and it's not completely clear if the new description actually matches the old one.

In our case, odds are very good that a title company can simply research the past sequence of titles, verify that everything is good, and issue us a warranty deed which guarantees our ownership. BUT there is a possibility that the research may find that there is additional cloudiness in the ownership, in which case we'll have to file an action to quiet title to flush out any other claims to the land and, if they can't be found within a certain time period (a year, I think?), to get a court ruling that we unambiguously hold title to the land.

This is a pretty common thing, and it's really not at all abusive.

Comment Re:Sad (Score 1) 303

3D shot/rendered correctly does add to the enjoyment of a film for many people.

Not me. I've seen a fair number of 3D movies in theaters, but I really prefer 2D. 3D doesn't add anything for me. I can appreciate the work and effort it takes to do it well, and to make it "natural", and on good equipment that outputs enough light it doesn't do any harm to the visuals... but it doesn't add to the story, and doesn't really improve the visuals. Beautiful cinematography is good either way, and nearly a century of practice has taught cinematographers (and photographers) how to depict great depth on a flat screen. Not that the human eye has any parallax-derived depth perception beyond a few dozen feet anyway.

So, what does 3D do? It requires me to wear glasses over my glasses, and it costs more. I suppose some people must like it or theaters wouldn't be able to charge a premium for it, but I pick the 2D showing unless there isn't one available at a convenient time.

Comment Re:How much for a phone without Google's services? (Score 1) 91

I meant Android phones in general. Google is the OS maker and forces phone makers to install a lot of Google apps in Android phones. I'd like a Samsung or LG made phone with a "stripped down" Android

Okay, that's not what you wrote. Your question should be directed to Samsung or LG, then, not Google.

I'd also point out that the Nexus 5X is an LG-made phone. Personally, I'd prefer the Huawei-made 6P, or one of the HTC-made Pixels.

Comment Re:How much for a phone without Google's services? (Score 2) 91

Hey Google? How much would you charge for a phone without your services? They can be installed on purchase as long as I'm able to uninstall them.

All devices Google sells come with an unlockable bootloader, so you can unlock and flash a different system that doesn't have the Google stuff. Be sure you re-lock after flashing, otherwise your device can be reflashed with malicious software by anyone who gets hold of it.

So, the price is the cost of buying the device from the Play store, plus a few minutes to unlock and reflash.

Comment Easy to save on RAM, but RAM is cheap (Score 1) 91

It's easy to save on RAM, but RAM is cheap. With the zram module in Linux, you can create a zram block device 2x the size of RAM with mem_limit set to 50% of RAM and experience approximately no performance hit--faulting out of zram is approximately twice as heavy as a worst-case cache miss. I've had a 1GB server run 700MB into zram swap trying to run Gitlab, with 40MB of available RAM (including disk cache), and not show any visible sign of performance degradation; note that that's about 230MB of RAM acting as a compressed cache area for that 700MB, and 770MB of flat RAM available.

This works because CPU isn't pegged to 100% on average across 1 second, and decompression requires something like 23-26 instructions per byte. That means decompressing one page per second on a 1.2GHz core consumes about 0.00887% CPU at 1 cycle per instruction, or 0.0266% at an average 3 cycles per instruction. RAM prefetching is actually huge--a cache miss can cost 48 cycles for 64 bytes (on x86-64) or 0.000256% for a 4096-byte page, at a minimum, with 8-cycle CAS across a CPU, or a whopping 1,200 cycles or 0.0064% for 4096 bytes, although that's never going to happen (it's physically impossible: sequential reads don't need the expensive row precharge before RAS after the first read).

Basically, if your code uses memory infrequently, it has no reason to swap; and if it uses it frequently, then the cost of swapping can be absorbed by prefetch algorithms similar to the ones used by the CPU itself to avoid the above cache miss costs. Standard LRU swap algorithms will prevent swapping out of frequently-used memory; and the delay waiting for a swap-in consumes the bits of unused CPU time in a 99.7%-pegged processor.

The performance hit explodes exponentially at a certain point. If you have 1GB RAM and use 900MB as a compressed swap such that you have 2.8GB available, you're going to have a bad time. If you have 1GB and use 500MB for swap such that you have 2GB available, you'll be fine even under high load.

The problem is the whole phone is made of a SOC which isn't that much cheaper on 1GB versus 2GB; expensive NAND storage; radio chipsets; a battery; an expensive display; and so forth. The SOC isn't even the biggest part, with a cost of like $35 or sometimes in the $20 range for something current-generation for a $400 phone, up to $70-ish for state-of-the-art SOCs. Slap a $100 screen, $80 of TLC NAND, and $40 of boards and components and case around a $30 chip and you have a $250 phone.

Comment Re:Varied opinions (Score 1) 787

First, I feel that Snowden should actually have his day in court and present his case before anything related to a pardon or commutation is discussed. The American people need to see and hear both his and the government's position and evidence in a more balanced, less sensational environment than the MSM gives us.

The only question that would be debated at trial, or on which any evidence could be presented, is whether or not Snowden stole secrets. The government has overwhelming evidence that he did, including his own repeated admission, to many people, in many forums, many of them recorded and nearly all of them perfectly admissible. There would be no arguments presented as to whether his decision was justified because it was in the public interest, because that has absolutely no bearing on his guilt under the Espionage Act. The only place that would be argued is in his lawyers' appellate pleadings.

So, a trial would do nothing to enable the public to hear the sides. The trial would consist of the government submitting into evidence many pieces of proof of Snowden's act, and Snowden's complete inability to disprove any of it. It's more likely he'd just plead guilty to avoid wasting a court's time -- and making a judge who has to sentence him angry.

Comment Re:Not sure what to think.... (Score 5, Informative) 787

IWould prefer a trial where he would be allowed to make his case. Manning wasn't afforded that opportunity either.

Huh? Manning was convicted - hence there was a trial. What use would another trial be?

Well for one it would be a trial against Snowden, not against Manning. And the request was for "a trial where [the defendant] would be allowed to make his case", not a secret trial by a Mickey Mouse court with a pre-determined outcome.

Under the offense Snowden has been charged with, they could have a fully public and perfectly fair trial but the outcome would be completely known in advance. The Espionage Act includes no provision for justification as a defense, so the only question to be tried is whether or not Snowden stole secrets, and there's absolutely no question that he did. Snowden's only hopes if he were to be tried are (a) that the trial judge would hand down a very light sentence, (b) to have his conviction appealed to the Supreme Court who might find that the Espionage Act's lack of a public interest defense constitutes an unacceptable infringement of freedom of speech or (c) a presidential pardon. (a) is unlikely because you can be sure the government would pick a "good" judge, and (b) is a crapshoot, and one that would leave him rotting in jail for years until SCOTUS ruled, assuming they ruled in his favor.

Snowden's best move is exactly what he's doing, staying away until some president decides to pre-emptively do (c). His current status likely also positions him better to generate ongoing publicity in opposition to government spying since it makes him a more controversial and/or tragic figure.

Comment Re:Sounds familiar (Score 1) 109

It's hard to charge a user for a back-end system.

Said no bank executive, ever.

FWIW, I've heard bank executives say pretty much exactly that. Typically they don't say "charge a customer", they couch it in other terms like "recoup investment", "generate revenues", etc., but they definitely say it, because it's true.

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