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Comment Re:Intel (Score 1) 294

The Intel bits are vanilla, but even Intel don't make all the components on the board. I've got an Intel DX79SR, and its USB3 controller is by Renesas (formerly NEC). The USB3 controller has a firmware bug (that pauses the machine for a minute during every boot), which can be fixed by updating its firmware. The firmware can only be updated from Windows -- not just DOS but real Windows. I downloaded one of those (surely hooky) Windows rescue CDs, but even then the firmware updater refused to run, saying that "OLEDLG.DLL" wasn't found.

Thing is, I know what OLE is, I know what a DLG is, and I even know what a DLL is. And I know that there's no damn reason on earth for a firmware updater to need any of those things.


Comment Re:More like "C with Classes" (Score 1) 406

How are they broken?

It's not that they're broken in themselves, it's that they've been added to a language that can't support them properly. People say, oooh, you must write exception-safe code. What they're saying is, there's a property the code needs to have, which a compiler cannot test for, which you can't even easily unit-test for. And without this property -- exception-safety -- the code is unsafe. (It's not the code that throws or catches exceptions that you need to worry about: it's routines whose callees might throw and whose callers might catch. Those routines have secondary control flows through them, ones you can't see, but which need to be correct for the program to be safe.)

It's not an innovation of the TDD community to say, that if something in your code isn't tested, you can't swear it works. In particular, you can't swear it will continue to work when future maintenance occurs. Because exception safety can't be "defended" against future breakage, I don't think you can hand-on-heart deliver C++ software written with exceptions and claim that it works.

I'm not against exceptions as a programming technique: I think they work great in managed languages such as Python, Java, or ML. In those languages, it's not possible to write code that isn't "exception-safe" in the C++ sense. That's where exceptions belong. Throwing exceptions through unmanaged code was a brave experiment on C++'s part, but it's a misfeature, and I've got more confidence in codebases which forbid that (despite whatever problems they have with two-stage initialisation) than codebases which don't.


Comment Size of build != Size of executable (Score 2) 753

This is basic stuff to anyone who actually maintains a build, but Slashdot hasn't been a forum mostly populated by engineers for a number of years, now.

This appears to be due to link-time optimization blowing up the resident memory size of the linker, taking it past 3GB (which is already a non-standard hack the 32 bit build has had to do). Firefox is large, yes, but this has nothing to do with the final binary - which appears to be about 100MB total including all libraries in the Aurora builds.

I used to routinely run out of 32 bit address space compiling executables for a 64MB embedded ARM platform. This was due to symbol bloat, not executable size (which was 8MB). I also ran out of space compiling for a DSP with 288KB of RAM and 1MB flash, but that was mostly piss poor tools (Tasking). In fact, doesn't Chrome and even the Android sources already require building on a 64 bit host?


Firefox Too Big To Link On 32-bit Windows 753

An anonymous reader writes "Firefox has gotten so large that it cannot be compiled with PGO on a 32-bit linker anymore, due to the virtual memory limitation of 3 GB. This problem had happened last year with 2 GB, which was worked around by adding a/3GB switch to the Windows build servers. Now the problem is back, and things aren't quite that simple anymore." This only affects the inbound branch, but from the looks of it new code is no longer being accepted until they can trim things from the build to make it work again. The long term solution is to build the 32-bit binaries on a 64-bit system.

Comment You're just repeating the "Theora sucks" meme (Score 1) 108

I don't have to explain:

Theora really can't even compete with MPEG-1 on either video quality at a given bitrate, or performance. It was very specifically designeed for extremely low quality, extremely low resolution, extremely low bitrate streaming video, over a decade ago...

This isn't true. There's plenty of results out there which say Theora is, while not the best, a good codec. To quote Wikipedia: More recently however, Xiph developers have compared the 1.1 Theora encoder to YouTube's H.264 and H.263+ encoders, in response to concerns raised in 2009 about Theora's inferior performance by Chris DiBona, a Google employee. They found the results from Theora to be nearly the same as YouTube's H.264 output, and much better than the H.263+ output.

There are plenty of people proclaiming that because it doesn't come out top, it's useless. Theora is far from useless: the results in any scenario that H.264 (even main profile) would be used, are still usable if you select Theora instead. They just aren't as pretty, because it's just not designed to the same constraints as H.264.

Becoming the HDTV standard would be an unrealistic goal. You attribute Theora not becoming the dominant standard due to Xiph's mishandling of the codec. The more obvious reason is politics: the MPEG group exists specifically to create audio/video standards which can be licensed. Broadcasters and content providers generally only use MPEG standards, and they just love licensing.

I'm interested to know what your theory is that Xiph could drive HDTV standards and have handled this better than a small company could?


Facebook Releases JIT PHP Compiler 244

angry tapir writes, quoting a Techworld article: "In its continuing endeavor to serve its 800 million users as quickly as possible, Facebook is once again revamping the way it handles its PHP-based Web pages. Facebook has posted ... its HipHop Virtual Machine (HHVM), which the company's engineers call a just-in-time PHP compiler. According to Facebook, this PHP execution engine is 60 percent faster than its current PHP interpreter and uses 90 percent less memory." Facebook has a weblog post with a more technical description.

The Rise and Fall of Kodak 352

H_Fisher writes "Michael Hiltzik of the L.A. Times writes with a frank look at the decisions and changes that have led to Kodak's decline from top U.S. photography company to a company whose product is almost irrelevant. He writes: '[Kodak] executives couldn't foresee a future in which film had no role in image capture at all, nor come to grips with the lower profit margins or faster competitive pace of high-tech industries.' He also notes that Kodak's story comes as a cautionary tale to giants like Google and Facebook."

TV Isn't Broken, So Why Fix It? 839

PolygamousRanchKid sends this quote from a contentious article at CNN that questions the need for further development of TVs and the entire TV-viewing experience. "The technology industry is absolutely bent on reinventing television. ... But nobody seems to be able to answer the big question: what exactly is so broken about TV anyway? The tech industry is filled with engineers and geeks. They naturally want to optimize the TV experience, to make it as efficient and elegant as possible, requiring the fewest number of steps to complete a particular task while offering the greatest number of amazing new features. But normal people don't think about TV that way. TV is passive. The last thing we want to do is work at it. ... As long as there's something on — anything — that is reasonably engaging, we're cool. Most of us are even OK spending a few minutes just shuffling through channels at random." So, what do you think is broken about TV right now? Is there a point at which it'd be better for us to stand back and say "We've done what we can with this. Let's work on something else"?

NVIDIA's Tegra 3 Outruns Apple's A5 In First Benchmarks 390

MojoKid writes "NVIDIA's new Tegra 3 SoC (System on a Chip) has recently been released for performance reviews in the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android tablet. Tegra 3 is comprised of a quad-core primary CPU complex with a 5th companion core for lower-end processing requirements and power management. The chip can scale up to 1.4GHz on a single core and 1.3GHz on up to four of its cores, while the companion core operates at 500MHz. It makes for a fairly impressive new tablet platform and offers performance that bests Apple's A5 dual-core processor in more than a few tests. The Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime with optional keyboard dock and NVIDIA's Tegra 3 is set to be available in volume sometime around December 19th."

White House Responds To Software Patents Petition 276

New submitter obliv!on writes "As previously discussed, the White House has started to reply to petitions on their 'We the People' website. They've now replied to the petition asking for an end to software patents. The response mentions the America Invents Act and encourages the use of the USPTO's open implementation website. Quoting: 'There's a lot we can do through the new law to improve patent quality and to ensure that only true inventions are given patent protection. But it's important to note that the executive branch doesn't set the boundaries of what is patentable all by itself. Congress has set forth broad categories of inventions that are eligible for patent protection. The courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court, have interpreted the statute to include some software-related inventions.' The response goes on to denote some open source and open data initiatives in government. It's nice to hear that the administration understands 'concerns that overly broad patents on software-based inventions may stifle the very innovative and creative open source software development community.' However, the overall response redirects action to the petitioners through participating in the open implementation site and contacting Congress, instead of a promise to prepare additional legislative measures for Congress to consider on behalf of the petitioners."

Ask Slashdot: Learning Dart Development? 107

First time accepted submitter gmikeska07 writes "I have no computer science degree, but I took a Java class in college and greatly enjoyed it. I have some experience with Javascript and have done some perl programming as well. I would like to learn Google's forthcoming Dart language. My question is in three parts: a) Is there any chance that if I self-teach Dart, I can get a job in development without a CS degree, once companies begin using the language? b) Is it really worth installing Virtual Studio as per the dartlang docs, or should I wait for a dedicated IDE like the rumored 'Brightly'? Alternatively, are there any solid open development environments that are adding support? c) Do you know of any books that are out or on the way that I could buy? What programming series do you guys recommend? Hopefully I can learn in my spare time, and if I can't get a job in development I can at least have fun with it, and maybe make a few libraries for the Dart community!"

Fukushima's Fallout Worse Than Thought 308

gbrumfiel writes "A new study posted for open peer-review suggests that the nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi released far more radiation than the Japanese government initially estimated. The study [PDF] uses global radioisotope and meteorological data to calculate the size of the release from the plant. Nature News reports that, contrary to official claims, the model shows that fuel being stored in a pool at unit 4 released a significant amount of cesium-137, a long-lived contaminant that has spread across the countryside. It also says that some Xenon-133 may have been released early on in the accident, suggesting that the plant was already damaged before it was hit by a tsunami. Overall, it estimates that Fukushima released about twice as much cesium-137 as the government claims and half as much as Chernobyl."

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