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Comment Moore's Law ended years ago, for many (Score 5, Insightful) 128

The author is the son-half of a father/son duo, Dan and Jerry Hutcheson, that wrote an article for Scientific American in 1996 on the expected coming end of Moore's Law, say around 2003-2005. It was one of the many that Intel liked to deride as they pushed on down below the wavelength of high-ultraviolet light in their form factors, a remarkable achievement.
And no doubt, Hutcheson will be in for more mocking about how Moore's will continue until we're using subatomic particles.

But for me, Moore's ended around the 2003-2005 they predicted. My big IT interest isn't phones and low-power computing, where Moore's is continuing - yes, possibly for longer than Hutcheson predicts -- but in raw desktop performance at number-crunching big databases. There's been progress there since 2005, but most of it has come from faster memory, SSDs, more cores. Raw horsepower progress continued, even exponentially - but not at a 2-year doubling after about 2005, it was more like 3, 4, then 5 years. I should have titled this, "Moore's law has been winding down for a decade, for many".

The new "Skylake" generation of i7's is mostly about low-power progress. A genuine jump for us power users is coming in the fall, I think, after a couple of years since the last one...and the chips should be 15% or 20% faster than 2014's. Just not like the late 90s and doublings every year or two.

Comment You mean "documentation" ? (Score 1) 238

I also write notes to people, like this one, with the usual amount of English that isn't really necessary - like a quarter of the words in this sentence.

A certain amount of redundancy in communication is still around, though, yes, languages tend to drop and slur words over the centuries. Interestingly, military communications, where you'd think speed was very important, tend to be written quite formally, that is to say, with lots of that redundant English. Turns out that clarity is even more important than speed when lives are on the line!

I bet that your really important code that runs SCADA and other real-word systems has the most ponderous, overstated, tedious and obvious code of all. The same way that surgeons say, "Hand me the #3 rib spreader" rather than "Gimme that" while gesturing in a general direction.

Actually declaring and destroying your variables - stating what they are in clear, rather than by implication, and making clear when they are no longer needed - should be considered documentation for the programmers, even if the mechanism will perform identically without it.

Comment Re:Impressive (Score 1) 106

> What telecoms — correctly — object to, are efforts by local governments to compete with them. ...yeah, they don't permit competition from their subsidiaries.

If that were something besides pro-telecom BS, there would be more than two competing businesses, individuals, or non-profits in most American markets. America's the Land of Entrepreneurs - you don't think anybody in America had this guy's idea? Those folks were almost all shut down, generally by clubbing them with a compliant government that works for the industry.

So we always have just the two offerings, who have, mysteriously, the same price, though they use completely different infrastructures. Just like TV happens to cost the same whether delivered by cables that were paid off by the early 90s, or satellites 40,000km overhead. What are the odds such different technologies would cost exactly the same to the consumer?

Bottom line, you don't get to use the "compete" word about the telecom, cable, or internet industries in the US. They are not competitive, compared to world-wide figures, because they simply do not compete with each other; they divide up markets, send each other signals as to the common price, and enjoy high profits as rentiers who own an oligopoly.

The Spanish market is competitive, *by comparison*, and yet it's massive companies that should be able to beat a bunch of hobbyist amateurs with their economies of scale and PhDs by the squad...but instead the hobbyist amateurs are beating them at their own game. Because even they are not all that competitive.

When there are more than six providers competing in a marketplace, you can use the "C" word to describe the situation; so says classic economics theory as confirmed by many, many observations in many markets for many products. Fewer than six, and they don't have to meet in a smoke-filled room to agree on pricing; the signals are sent in the pricings themselves, and fewer than six can quietly agree not to get cut-throat.

Comment The writers hadn't thought that far (Score 1) 359

Economist Manu Saadia recently wrote "Trekonomics" about the supposed economics of the ST Earth back home. There was a panel discussion at a con featuring Saadia's friend Paul Krugman and Chris Black, a writer for ST: Enterprise. He was asked what the writers were thinking the character's motivations were in a post-scarcity economy and begged off: in short, it never crossed their minds.
Neither set of writers gave a care for why the background they needed for their story was the way it was, any more than the guy painting a backdrop of a hilly landscape for a play cares about the geology that produced the landscape.

Comment Re:Great. Want 5,000 of them? (Score 1) 180

Cheer up. Storing (collecting, stacking, housing, guarding, insuring) 5000 terminals for 15 years would probably cost more than $25,000 per year, which with interest would negate your $500,000 in today's value.
*People* in their homes can make use of "unused storage area" in their basements (until the basement is a horror) to keep around something that'll be maybe useful way down the line, but corporations can't afford to. Save that you could keep a few bits of equipment stashed in your own office area, like everybody.

Comment Re:Drug test bloggers (Score 1) 760

It's not about equality between rich and poor, it's about equality between different forms of free government handouts. All forms of free handouts should be subject to the same tests, that's all.
And the new law would also affect both rich and poor alike. Everybody who uses *itemized deductions* would be affected. The poor can do that; they just rarely bother. That's dumb, but at least it will spare them drug testing. And the rich can avoid the drug testing by just not bothering with those itemized deductions.

Comment Do we have to point this out? (Score 2, Insightful) 280

I'm reading arguments that the USA should indeed have this as a natural possession, because they are the best, most moral and/or effective steward.

Irrelevant.

Americans would never accept somebody else's opinion that, say, Canada should regulate the US finance system because our banks never went under or needed bailouts; the argument that Canadians were more responsible stewards of a national financial system would cut no ice at all, despite being objectively true.

Governance - of anything - draws legitimacy from the consent of those governed, not some arbitrary opinion of how much merit it has.

The argument that "I must be in charge because I'm the best guy for the job and the need is great" has been used by every dictator.

Comment I was once burned... (Score 1) 359

...forever wary.
I did months of work in, I hope I have the version number right, VB 3. That would be about 1997. VB4 comes out, and my VB3 program just won't load into it; there don't even seem to be conversion tools worth using, easier to start again. My program had served about 70% of its purpose, so we just kept it running a little longer and ditched it entirely.
But the only proprietary environment I ever again coded in was VBA for Excel, which I correctly surmised they had almost no ability to break with non-compatibility because of the backlash. None of the VB stuff in the nineties was for major corporate applications and it was mostly user-department small apps that were sabotaged. But spreadsheets, man, those often run the business.
Anyway, my little user-department apps now all in Perl and so forth, are often still running (I'm retired) in their late teens and early 20s. The IT department applications, which did stick with MS all the way, through VB6 and .Net and C#....all had to be rewritten every 4-5 years as MS switched their recommended product for major corporate programming. And everybody had to buy new MS software, but importantly, spend 100X as much re-writing.

I watched that the whole last 18 years, marvelling that anybody would have their development environment depend on a corporation whose interests are SO divorced from theirs that they'd inflict a million-dollar rewrite on them just to sell $10,000 worth of software.

Comment How embarrassing for that to come out yesterday (Score 1) 209

And just one day later:

  http://www.theguardian.com/us-...

Very senior DoD official was finally pushed out of his own job, protecting whistleblowers, because he kept, you know, trying to protect whistleblowers. He's now testifying that multiple senior officials broke the law in at least three ways to abuse and ruin Thomas Drake, the guy whose fate caused Snowden to practice civil disobedience.

Comment Would be nice if it shut up the snark (Score 4, Insightful) 134

...but I have few hopes it will. It would be nice if those who utter all that stuff about:

* "real heroes don't run away to hide behind foreign powers"

* "he's a coward for not standing on his rights and facing justice"

* "he should have worked through the system and not broken the law, he's a criminal" ...would now shut up and even apologize. When the entity you are blowing the whistle on, itself breaks the law - fraudulently and unlawfully uses the colour of authority to protect itself from embarrassment rather than serving the public trust - then you can no longer depend on the justice system. They have more access to its levers than the whistleblower, so the justice system is not neutral, not blind, in his case.

They are captured, in effect, by the prestige of the institution, and the numbers. What is the court supposed to believe about a complex internal matter, the one whistleblower, or the Secretary, three Undersecretaries, four generals and five lawyers, all insisting that you are a crazed, grudge-bearing criminal?

Nothing prevents a large bureaucracy from abusing the simple fact that courts trust them, except the bureaucracy's own members' obedience to the law and fear of eventual exposure. That works, mostly, for the local Roads department, or even the State environmental department. With the NSA, it will never, ever happen; the NSA brass need fear no exposure, ever. Clapper's brazen perjury before Congress (without consequences) is proof that Snowden had to run.

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