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Comment Re:ASLR was a dumb idea while it lasted (Score 4, Interesting) 69

Yes it is but people have been trying to do that for 40 years and have not gotten it right yet so...

Wrong. Plenty of code correctness has been deployed in service of this goal.

Unfortunately, there are endemic economic and political reasons why we constantly choose the protocols and implementations that are bigger, hairier, and less continent.

All you need is a culture of kicking non-conforming implementations to the curb, and then the rigorous implementations have a chance to emerge from the weeds. Do we have such a culture? No—most of the time—no, we do not. Such a culture would cramp Megacorp style, and interfere with timeless value-adds, such as embrace and extend, closed ecosystem, DRM jungle, NIST-sanctioned algorithmic weevils, definition by implementation, documentation by implementation, etc. etc.

Far, far away in dull and dusty places like the Erlang OTP or Bernstein's qmail or Knuth's TeX—or perhaps even the Google protocol buffers for at least one lucky and unusually blessed language binding from the somewhat recent past—you just might find a rigorously coded parser or two.

For the most part, however, I agree. We'll probably never have rigorous parsers in a dominant culture of "screw everyone else", Wild West dysenteroperability.

Comment Re:space agency cooperation? (Score 3) 244

Of course NASA passed on decades of hard-won experience. They're not psychopaths.

It went something like this:

Dear ESA:

Hire only the best and the brightest, keep the group challenged and engaged for decade upon decade, with frequent launch opportunities pushing the boundary of the possible at each and every iteration.

N.B.: Sorry, there's no silver bullet.

Comment one track mind (Score 2) 98

My favourite touch is the two giant call-outs in the linked article.

Few of the sites I read regularly have these any more (meaning since I got good at "inspect element" and custom User CSS overrides; appears I've accumulated 150 of these over the past three years, also used to defeat anything that hovers or slides annoyingly).

Comment Re:DNA testing is inherently racist (Score 1) 227

Basketball is inherently racist, as genetic traits are heritable and are correlated with your ethnic/genetic background.


What's racist about race is presupposing outcomes that were highly predictable on first impression, because it's lamentably a very short step for an advantaged social group—often one of relatively homogeneous racial composition, suffused with elaborate rituals of social etiquette—to conclude that a disadvantaged racial subgroup never given an opportunity to do x can't do x.

Race isn't just some magic third rail used to divide humans into two distinct groups, in much the same way that humans divide house pets into two distinct groups: potty trained and not potty trained. There are days, though, where that can be a good working assumption.

Comment acid reflux hellban honeypot (Score 1) 49

Somehow this story showed up in my Slashdot feed, when it's really just supposed to trigger a mass outpouring of the reflex derision arc among those so inclined (said barf cookies falsely paraded by its practitioners as chuckle fodder).

"There, don't you feel better now? Now come sit with us at the adult table." Amazing what a quickie bile purge can accomplish in raising the level of discussion elsewhere.

This is all good. Yet somehow my dank, reeking bile seems to have been misclassified as grasshopper lipstick and I seem to be trapped in completely the wrong purgative honeypot. Where do I unclick "chuckle fodder"? Where do I unclick "news-item-of-the-week free-association paralympics"? Which direction do I kneel to moon Marvin, patron saint of universal laugh-at-anything good will?

No, I'm not new here. It must be shocking to some that I haven't figured out my account configuration yet. You'd think I'd know by now that no unexplored configuration sub-menu goes ultimately unpunished.

Well, now I know. True hell is becoming stuck in the wrong hellban honeypot.

Comment algorithmic morality long-term side effects (Score 1) 365

The side effect of your Mercedes choosing to impact the young mother with her baby stroller instead of the nearby telephone pole (ouch! that could hurt!) is that the customer's testicles fall off, and his dick never rises for the rest of his miserable, injury-free life (female customers sensibly snipped the wires on this pathetic contraction long ago).

The Mercedes survivor can always tell his disappointed women, "not MY fault, the Mercedes made me do it". Mercedes! Modestly dressed women cross themselves. Everyone spits.

All this spit makes the sidewalks dangerous to navigate for the common folk, but we can all rest safe knowing that the privileged remain comfy and cozy inside their steel cocoons.

Comment Re:OK but misses a larger problem (Score 1) 367

12 year old girl and accusing her of "wanting" an older man to rape her into a coma seems sketchy to me

Hillary: Your honour, I submit that the innocent-looking 12-year-old girl you see before you was slavering and panting to have my defendant, an older man, to rape her into a coma.

Yes, that's exactly how it plays out on Matlock.

Opposing council: [passing in the hallway, afterwards]: Good lord, Hillary, how did you become so damn good at this lawyering business? Your argument for the defense was a fucking masterstroke! Clearly you're headed for bigger and better things.

Comment the crawl (Score 2) 113

This might actually be more about the crawl than the index. The mobile index could be set to crawl content in mobile format only, and more often.

What makes freshness important, in the first place? Mostly celebrity gossip, and the retail deal of the hour. Neither of those are functions people do much on PCs anyway.

Still, if Google decides not to keep long-form content reasonably fresh (if not fresher) in their desktop index, it foreshadows a Yahooesque self-inflicted extinction event of their traditional core brand.

Comment Steve "the knife" Jobs (Score 1) 90

As long as you believe all that matters is engineering, people will fail to utilize the technology that engineering can bring.

Nicely done. You just lumped Steve Jobs in with Arnold "the Knife" Morris.

The Pitchman

The last of the Morrises to be active in the pitching business is Arnold "the Knife" Morris, so named because of his extraordinary skill with the Sharpcut, the forerunner of the Ginsu. He is in his early seventies, a cheerful, impish man with a round face and a few wisps of white hair, and a trademark move whereby, after cutting a tomato into neat, regular slices, he deftly lines the pieces up in an even row against the flat edge of the blade.

Sure, sharpened steel is a great technology, but will people actually use it unless first impressed by a delightfully manicured tomato? ... But wait, there's more!

The turn requires the management of expectation. That's why Arnold always kept a pineapple tantalizingly perched on his stand. "For forty years, I've been promising to show people how to cut the pineapple, and I've never cut it once," he says.

Steve's legendary pineapple was his insistence that RISC would blow CISC out of the water. That pineapple never danced (excluding, for a while, one or two hand-picked Photoshop effects). Miraculously, it still hasn't danced.

Why Linus Torvalds Prefers x86 Over ARM

How could this be? Let's dissect.

The Underappreciated True Story of 48-Year-Old Boxer Bernard Hopkins

In 1982, after racking up nine felonies, he was sent to Graterford Prison for 18 years.

That sure sounds like the 8088 I knew and loved.

Over the next two years he scored 21 victories in 21 fights, 16 by KO and 12 of those in the first round.


"Younger guys would think that an old boxer must be an easy target," Sugar said, "Only to find out when they stood in front of him they couldn't hit him with a handful of stones."

To it's credit, The DEC Alpha actually landed a punch. Others, not so much.

At 41, Hopkins finally seemed washed up. But he adapted, deciding to put on a few pounds and move up in weight class. "It was a new life for me," he said. "I could finally eat pasta and not worry about going over the weight limit."

It was AMD that finally provided the magic milkshake.

At 46 years, four months and 10 days he broke George Foreman's record to become the oldest fighter ever to win a world championship.

Ye olde 8088 has sure come a long way.

Where x86 went up in weight class, Jobs ultimately—not with the once-franchise iMac, but the iPhone—successfully went down in weight class. That much-vaunted 10" chef knife went nowhere fast after decades of trying, but he stuck with it—full marks—and finally made a freaking fortune on pastel-coloured paring knives.

Meanwhile, Ritchie improved steel. Advantage: Ritchie.

Comment Re:Focus (Score 1) 121

I'm late to this party, but just so anyone who stumbles upon this thread by some quirk of Google future, the views expressed above are not reliable. It's not apparent that the author knows much of anything about the ZIL or the SLOG. There are trade-offs involved with ZFS, no question. But none of these are anywhere as inane as this post would seem to have it.

If the vast majority of your work load is synchronous write, you do have to provide a SLOG with as much write bandwidth as the rest of your pool. Except during recovery, the SLOG is pretty much sequential write-only (not a demanding case for any enterprise-grade write-optimized storage device). These writes take place concurrently to the synchronous writes (latency matters). Under ZFS, the primary pool still batches writes into transaction groups every few seconds. The comment about the inability of ZFS to use RAM for write caching is simply incoherent.

What ZFS can't do, for synchronous writes, is use RAM for write coalescing, eliminating writes to stable storage (the SLOG, in this scenario) if one write immediately replaces another (a fairly common traffic pattern). Well duh you can only do this if your RAM counts as stable storage for any file system, and if you even have this, it's usually a device requiring I/O traffic to access, the same as any other persistent storage device.

What hardware RAID does potentially buy you is combining both the persistent RAM and the persistent storage onto a single device channel, allowing the OS to kill two birds with a single I/O write operation. And for this, you buy yourself a really really complex layer of extra device firmware, which historically has been far from entirely bug free. Your surface area of failure increases enormously (though you do have fingers to point at the extremely well healed—all that internal firmware testing is baked into the price with a healthy insurance multiple—should the worst come to pass).

Do you really need synchronous write coalescing? A basic Xeon these days has 40 lanes of PCIe 3.0. Does that look like a rate-limiting resource on sustained synchronous write traffic to your storage pool? I wish. And if it does, I'm pretty sure your first response is this: more sockets, please.

As it happens, there are giant industry plans afoot to add a non-volatile memory type into the system memory hierarchy. ZFS will like this—a lot—should any of this chortling evil land-grab vapour come to pass.

Comment Re:Define "free" (Score 1) 87

They do these sorts of deals to get potential customers to their site.

And here I thought they just had an excess of pink and purple, and needed to run those ink reservoirs dry so they could replace the entire rainbow cartridge all at once, without losing their green cred.

Comment a Lem alone (Score 2) 252

Read Stanislaw Lem's Microworlds. He variously suffers from elitism, spurned-author petulance, and a predilection for Hegelian phraseology, but he offers up real ideas where few ideas roam.

Here's a bit from his essay Science Fiction: A Hopeless Case — With Exceptions:

Probably the pressure of trivial literature has crushed many highly talented writers with the result that today they deliver the products that keep highbrow readers away from science fiction. This process brings about a negative selection of authors and readers: for even those writers who can write good things produce banalities wholesale: the banality repels intelligent readers away from science fiction; as they form a small majority in fandom the "silent majority" dominates the market, and the evolution into higher spheres cannot occur.

Therefore, in science fiction, a vicious circle of cause and effect coupled together keeps the existing state of science fiction intact and going.

Another essay which I thought had some real substance: Philip K. Dick: A Visionary Among the Charlatans

Here is a fragment from my own notes, concerning an essay I wasn't able to later pin point:

[Lem] makes some rather complex arguments that separating the good from the bad is a lot harder than it looks, but the critic must first identify the correct mode of parsing a work, should it deserve one.

He also points out that the working critic with the skills to properly perform this work are ever in short supply.

With some of Dick, Le Guin, or Vonnegut I do feel like challenged to identify the correct mode of parsing the work. Vonnegut never settles for just a single dark layer.

I feel the extra depth sometimes with Gibson, Clarke, Niven, to name a few that I've liked, but I also perceive the banality, too. Gibson makes it up with tone, Clarke with his natural ability as a raconteur, and Niven with his larger-than-life extrapolations. Talent 3, genre 0.

A major problem with SF is often that our little pinprick of a blue marble is so often beaten to a bloody pulp by the Total Plot Device Holodeck, which constitutes 90% of SF's dark energy.

Comment Re:Federal thresholds for action. (Score 1) 66

BBB is a rating agency. I don't think they have any actual teeth.

You do know that most social media sites since the paleolithic era manage reputation differently than displaying your elite 5-digit UID on every post?

Bear in mind that almost all blackmail is reputational blackmail (as someone running exclusively on ZFS with automatic snapshots, I can still claim this to be true).

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Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig