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Comment Re:They forgot compilers (Score 1) 115

I think the reason they didn't mention compilers, and OSes for that matter is that they limited themselves to things that are actually useful for the end user, not what lie behind it.

At one point compilers and OSes were the things used by the end-user. The very definition of an operating system is a kernel, standard library and compiler. This means that for most of its history Microsoft did not actually sell a actual computer operating system by definition. But for many users their computer is just their favorite application. To your accountant the computer is just a means to access email, quickbooks and irs.gov. To your kids the computer is the thing that provides access to disney.com.

The biggest change has been in the users, not so much in what was provided. The typical target user has not been academics or geeks in decades. Applications are targeted at children with no technical skills, busy parents with no technical skills and professionals with absolutely no technical skills. They interface to the computer in their pocket through rote, learned application-centric tasks. Like thumb pressing a share button to tweet a picture of their cat.

Video games are a major component of the history of computing and it is important to include something to represent this industry.

The popular media may want to whitewash history but major improvements in computing like operating systems, networking and personal computers follow two very end-user focused applications of processing power. One is pornography. The other is video games. Ken Thompson developed little project called UNIX based on a system to play a game called Space Travel on a PDP-7. That design seems to have done pretty well. The success of AOL hinged upon their dominance of the online "dating" scene, not so much their free coasters. Modern machine learning algorithms are designed with kernels that run efficiently on PC video cards. The same cards which had their expensive research and development paid for by at home video game enthusiasts craving a few more pixels or FPS.

But to your system administrator you are all equally end-users. Compiler in hand or not.

"The pillars of your bright new world were built by people whose minds are so arcane and alien to you that you will never be able to comprehend exactly how much you rely on the hobbies of dead legends."
-- Lesrahpem "LINUX INSIDE!" (paraphrased) 2009 September 22 03:44 AM

Comment Re:you mean capitalism works? (Score 1) 372

Let's remember that the drug wasn't there before. That's the price the society pays for a dynamic drug market.

No, the epipen was cheaper before Mylan CEO Heather Bresch decided to jack the price to +$600. Of which the company claims to only make $50, a really nice profit for something some people need. That is ignoring the insanity of that $550 overhead. An epipen is a single use stick needle. It delivers a $5 dose of a drug needed to stop anaphylactic shock. Outside the United States these pens are below $10.

You invent something; it's prohibitively expensive for a bit, then the price drops.

Nice theory but reality is different. The dark side to supply and demand is that if you need something, you don't have a choice to buy it. Whatever price I chose to sell it to you is what you have to pay. You want to stay healthy so you need Medicine. Since medicine is something you need, you'll pay whatever price or suffer. If I can make enough profit I can even afford to make sure nobody else competes with me. Either I can create a premium brand like the iPhone or just break the kneecaps of anybody who competes with me like solar roofs versus the local power monopoly.

The best business is to charge people for nothing, like sham medicine. The second best business is to take something that was cheap and already exists then resell it for really high profits.

And because of the first problem the FDA regulate markets like medical products very carefully. You may have to pay more since providing something real is more expensive than just cheating you out of your money. But you shouldn't be getting sham products.

The FDA doesn't regulate the cost to consumers, though. The would require a different, non-existent government organization in the USA. Something like a single payer medicine program.

Comment Puppet verses Ansible? (Score 3, Interesting) 167

Where do you see the configuration management market going in the next year or two?

Orchestration is the hot topic right now for automation verses last year's configuration management tools. Ansible is more orchestration than configuration management. Puppet and Chef require tools like mCollective to pickup the orchestration piece. RedHat now runs Tower. And Tower now ships as part of the RedHat Ceph storage product. RedHat's Satellite product is based on the Foreman which includes Salt, Puppet, Chef and Ansible support.

But where is this market heading? Are we likely to see consolidation? Integrations? Or even a flood of config management system tied products from vendors?

Comment Re:Train them as poorly as possible (Score 1) 531

You sir, sound like an idiot. If you were 'so talented' you'd have had no problem finding a job. In fact your story smells like such bullshit I had to check my shoes to make sure I didn't walk in anything before I sat down.

Then you need to check your eyesight. You missed the cowardly brain matter leaking from you anonymous ears.

The story is so common and well-known in the United States that it even has a name: hard luck story.

The skills for doing a job and getting a job are different for everyone but a corporate recruiter.

Thus RubberDogBone was probably busy doing the job when working and not dedicating large amounts of time to finding the next one. Deep experts tend to be like this by definition. They gave up other time and tasks to dedicate to learning and performing one thing. It's also why going to conferences and user groups in an important part of professional work.

The skills for doing a job are tied to the application(s) and industry worked in. The skills of getting such a job are those for establishing and maintaining a large network of people. These people get you job referrals and job offers by getting past the HR filter. In instances where you are well known they can create jobs to get your limited skills for themselves. At the least they connect available jobs with available potential employees.

This is exactly like dating. There is a hidden information problem with lots of questions. Can you do the job? Can you fit in with the existing team or deal with the family? Are you wiling to work for the money available? The tools to resolve the problem are limited to writing about, talking to and meeting people. All of these fall into the trap of trust and reliability. Was this person just lucky at their last job or relationship? Are they bullshitting about their ability? Is this person just a presidential-class conman or con-woman?

In both cases lots of new tools have been developed to work around the problem. You have dating sites, prostitution and Churches on one side. On the other you have Linked-in, personal consulting and out-sourcing firms like Capgemini.

However, large layoffs like this are different from just losing a job like RubberDogBone did. In large layoffs the employment vultures circle. The most desirable employees get picked off early. The rest are filtered through so those with the top amount of connections get hired out. Stereo-typically in IT, a lot of employees are going to have limited social networks outside of work. Now those networks are gone. With a sudden glut of potential employees the market saturates in an area for a while. The suddenly unemployed and underemployed won't have the resources to go to conferences or spend time networking with peers. That network is gone so their duration of unemployment will be long as they compete on even ground with every conman and crook in the general labor market to get past HR.

Company unions aren't the solution to this. They start out fine. But because humans must run them it just devolves into another kind of business you have to get hired into. Unions "solve" the hiring problem with a worse old boys network than the original company. Taken to an extreme you cannot find work in some industries unless you are either already skilled or you are related to someone who does the work. Trade guilds are slightly better - being industry wide - but again depend on corruptible fail-able and limited humans to do the work. Maybe in the future machine run guilds could prevent this but I don't trust the people programming the machines. They are still human.

Comment Re:Go measure (Score 5, Interesting) 147

With dislreports and other aggregation tests, the bloat for download and upload may not be symmetric. So the resulting score might not be as good as it looks.

Paying for a commercial connection? Test for this kind of performance daily and scream as soon as it drops. Otherwise why bother to pay so much?

In the United States and other jurisdictions a home 'customer' user is not expected to run a "server" on their paid for Internet connection. Downloads may be finely tuned to low bloat. But upload may have significant bufferbloat, caps and gradual dropout. For financial reasons, of course.

This upload problem may get to be much worse in the future. More and more services push data from "client" devices in the home or office. Camera phone videos, twitch streams, shared google docs and your home automation spyware upend the upload/download assumptions of last-hop telcos. P2P is impacted now. The highly asymmetric buffering of uploads is detectable using protocols like bittorrent that don't have client-server separation.

Comment Fueling the fueler (Score 1) 38

Well, we do need a good OTV (Orbital Transfer Vehicle). You could use it to move stuff from orbit to orbit as needed.

So, how much fuel is this robot going to have on board? How or why would you refuel it?

The reason you put tiny fuel tanks on satellites is that it cost a lot to launch anything on a rocket. If it didn't then the engineers would put huge tanks on things sitting in orbit. Tanks designed to last as long as the next part expected to fail.

At there aren't that many kinds of propellant in use but you'd still be out of luck if you had something using hydrazine while the only thing left on the repair 'bot is nitrogen.

Orbital transfers aren't free or cheap (ask any Kerbel Space fan.) It will be interesting to see what propulsion system is proposed. There's interest in tethers for 'propelentless station keeping or orbital transfers.

Would you send up refuel cans for the robot? Would you de-orbit the robot once it ran out of fuel? Could you recover the robot to save costs, then?

Except for the Hubble Space Telescope most satellites are not designed to be serviced. What can a hypothetical servicing robot do about dead batteries or shorted out control systems or hole solar arrays on the existing fleet in orbit?

Finally, while space is pretty big, sending something on a 'soft' collision course with a dead satellite in the prime geosync orbit sounds like a great way to create more debris just where you don't want it. But it's Loral. They will have the best people Congressional pork spending can buy on staff to ask and answer these questions.

Comment Re:Amount of gravity needed? (Score 1) 77

It would also be nice to get a long term study of humans in rotating space habitats to see if it has any issues not detectable by ground models. Theory says the vestibular system shouldn't be impacted by long duration in an fast "inverse" rotating frame. It evolved on a large rotating planet after all. But Yogi Beara and any astronomer will tell you that in theory, theory and practice are the same but in practice they are different.

We have lots of experience with space craft that shuttle things off or to ground. There needs to be operational experience with vehicles that are designed to permanently remain in space. If you built your space stations strong enough and big enough you only need to attach an big engine to turn them into space ships.

Comment Re:Color Me Skeptical (Score 1) 428

Also, how hard is it to cut through an existing solar roof to add things like plumbing vents or to move a flue for a stove in a major kitchen remodel.

One advantage tar shingles, a very popular option in America, is that adding a roof vent is an hour long affair. Punch a nail up from underneath so you miss the rafters then just pull back the shingles, cut a hole, and apply the fascia kit for your vent. The tar shingles get layered right back on.

I presume these will be more like a terracotta roof but much less friendly to modification. Particularly when the shingle is generating power while exposed to light.

Still, if this is at least as durable as a class 4 "hurricane/tornado" shingle they might qualify for the common home owner insurance discounts on top of the price.

The home owner game is a market of long-term thinking. If you are only interested in next quarter or uncomfortable with 5 year break-even on your investments, just keep renting. From someone who owns a house.

Comment Re:All linked in /usr ? (Score 2) 58

I am pretty sure they also forgot that the 'S' in sbin stands for static und not superuser.

I beg to differ: http://www.linfo.org/sbin.html

These file in /sbin were system binaries. That is why /sbin directories are usually not on the default path for users.

Now, /usr/sbin, that one is confusing unless you know the sorrid history of /usr as a shared NFS mount. Files in /bin and /sbin may be statically linked or not even on real UNIX. For boot-time on Linux like Debian, static linking is for stuff in your initrd, rescue images or really really badly written software (*cough* Zabbix *cough*).

The changes directly impact two groups. Power users are going to need to know about /bin, /sbin, /usr, etc. as they are going to mess with their system directly. Package Maintainers are going to have another thing to pull hair out over when converting the raw sewage seeping out of poor developers into functional shipping things to end-users.

Until this impacts regular users or Joe X Windows who runs SteamOS it's like the mechanic changing the brand of shocks in your car. Someone who knows better will be using the correct tools to do the correct thing. Or everyone will hang them out to dry when your transmission drops out of the car on the highway.

Comment Re:Energy budget (Score 1) 151

So what am I missing? What is the actual benefit to separating heavy industry and people?

That it is really really easy to get things down into a gravity well.

In orbit? Just toss the package out the back fast enough and it comes down all on it's own. Take care to not hit anything on the way down.

Also, space colonization for real will the subject to huge limitations. Suppose you manufacture stuff in orbit and have the technology to ship it down to the ground. The landing process is the same technology for dropping a bomb anywhere with minutes notice from an effectively unreachable location. You don't even need bombs. Rods from God are a thing.

Governments have a long-term interest to ensure colonization - not industrial development - is slow, limited and guaranteed to align with their purposes. Space is the ultimate anti-government, anti-anyone position. Literally the high ground. Otherwise you'll get the plot of Heinlein's book, Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

But if you put heavy industry in space and most people still live on the ground, it takes an incredible amount of energy to get the raw resources into orbit and bring the finish products back down

Lifting anything into space to bring it back is a fool's errand. Look at how much of the Saturn V that went to the moon came back. Plenty of resources exist in space already to mine locally.

And without on-site captive customers...err, colonists, the economics dominate the situation. Industrialization is most likely to happen around the time that industrial jobs finish being taken by robots. That way you don't even need to ship messy old people with their huge life support systems. With enough resource scarcity to make market-wide recycling economic this would only be done for selected items anyway. Anything that can't be automated would be telepresence, keeping your workers and citizens safely in reach of the police and military.

You would always build wood stuff on the Earth. But if I could drop 10,000 custom-yet-completely-prefab concrete and aluminum houses, white goods and all, anywhere in 10 minutes (with clearance from traffic control) that could be a game changer for disaster relief or interesting for urban development.

But with any factory in a new area the problem is getting the first one up. Then you have the infrastructure to get many more much cheaper and quicker. Just look at how industrialization happened everywhere on the Earth.

Comment Re:"This is the one you want to protect" (Score 3, Interesting) 151

BioSphere II was a poorly planned theme-park garden now owned by the University of Arizona.

Want to see what can be done if you really understand ecology and not just theme park construction? Look at Ascension Island. Joseph Hooker, with the aid of Charles Darwin and Kew gardens, built the ecosystem on the island out of completely foreign species. This cloud rainforest was built whole cloth on a bare lump of clinker sticking out of the ocean long before electrification.

The key difference is ocean.

Biosphere II was designed with almost no significant bodies of water containing phytoplankton, which produce up to 85% of all the oxygen. The facility has a glorified wake pool that would have fit in a large cities' water park. The planners put in 50% more grassland than synthetic ocean. Much of that 850m "ocean" is dedicated to a coral reef. Unsurprisingly, the oxygen levels crashed soon after closing the doors. Both times.

If one thing was unrealistic about O'Neil Colonies it was the sheer lack of mixing oceans in all the designs. Water is one of the most abundant substances outside the dry line in the Solar system. It's also a good radiation shield and has high thermal mass. The giant magic space windows that somehow didn't let in vast amounts of cosmic radiation were more realistic.

O'Neil also wrote about Bernal Spheres. These are slightly better, but have their own engineering challenges. Artists still show the interiors as if they were a cutout of a heavily populated Italian riverside. More relaistic would be 70-80% ocean with islands or peninsula. But in Bezo's case it's probably a matter of go big or go home. And the Island Three plans are certainly Big Homes.

Comment Re:This study is garbage (Score 1) 186

The study is actually important. They showed that the brains didn't recover from the damage as expected. The radiation treatment did not trigger the plastic repair behavior expected from an injured brain.

Yes, the particles used don't resemble background Solar radiation. It doesn't even resemble the stream of lightweight charged particles from a Coronal Mass ejection. However, the model is similar to the burst of Cosmic Background Radiation (CBR). Like the kind you get on an unplanned spacewalk to fix something on the outside of your spaceship. Or if your shielding fails.

It is very hard to make a usable spacesuit for a human that shields against individual sometimes neutral particles with the energy of a fastball thrown by a world record setting baseball pitcher. It is also hard to build a light enough and thick enough shield against CBR when your astronauts insist on hanging out on the edges of your rotating spacecraft to avoid losing bone mass.

This lack of repair response is the kind of thing you have to learn about to be a space faring species. It's the science part of science and engineering.

Fixing it is the engineering part. You'll have to use better shielding. Or you can genetically engineer people to trigger the plastic response to damage like Water Bears use. Or just make all repairs outside the CBR shielding involve robots and drones.

Comment Re:Um (Score 4, Insightful) 294

Is the problem of cheap blue LEDs News worthy? The conversation certainly is. News can inform but need not always be just current events, particularly on the Internet where nothing is paper.

Slashdot is a news aggregation site. Ostensibly for 'News for nerds, stuff that matters' at founding. In practice is was a blog for Rob Malda, CmdrTaco. It was also a website with an accidentally really good commenting technology.

Been around long enough to see the jokes about not reading the article? Then you have probably been around long enough to see the argument that a lot of the people still visiting the site do so for the conversation in the articles. They provide everything from group-think arguments, good counter-arguments and funny jokes about the topic to warnings about click-bait, pay-wall free options and corrected sources.

If Slashdot had ever depended upon the quality of the articles it would have failed when it was still Chips-n-Dips hosted on a university student account. The commenting system is more than a chance to keep up your HTML skillz. People in the know are really providing the value. (Queue complaints about Facebook's model, etc.) However, getting quality articles is important to attracting the readership that does not know about the site.

For instance, this article currently doesn't shows up in Google search for annoying LEDs, being a day old. But the top link is for lifehacks.stackexchange.com for whatever reason. Stackechange and Amazon dominate the front page. I almost feel sorry for companies with products on that page. Even with no such thing as bad marketing, being known for having annoying lights on your non-party-joke product is not a good thing.

The Blue LED backlash article on McConnell's blog is page three. And he discusses a vendor that sells low intensity LEDs for computer products. But I expect - or at least hope - this slashdot article to make it to at least page three with McConnell's blog if not higher.

Comment Re:Does it work? (Score 3, Informative) 299

Does it work? No. But that depends on your definition of "work."

But Drug dogs work perfectly for law enforcement: they provide whatever answer the police want and the gullible public believe the dogs are infallible.

I fear you might not know just how accurate some critter's sense of smell is.

You might just not know how dogs behave.

If search dogs work then the dog should be fine to hunt these without the handler there at all. Just let the dog search on his or her own.

Search and rescue dogs work this way just fine every day. You let them go and they hunt down people easily that you or I cannot see or hear or smell.

But any person who raises and breeds and trains dogs professionally knows the first and only thing a well trained dog wants is to please the handler. That's the definition of well and trained for a dog. Drug sniffing dogs are very well trained.

In the hands of their handler a dog is just a dowsing rod for the man with the leash. Combine that with objects that conveniently fit in an officer's pocket and the long history of corrupt government officials. You shouldn't have plausible evidence. You should have plausible deniability. Yes, dogs are great at finding skunks or burnt joints you might be able to smell yourself. Not so much for things in air-tight closed containers on in piles of stuff that smells exactly like it.

But like you demonstrate, most people don't know how dogs behave. (Or how to spot magical thinking.)

Keep the handler away from the dog. Let it search on its own. Otherwise he or she is just a furry four-legged lie detector.

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