* Posts by Rob Foster

18 publicly visible posts • joined 14 May 2007

Humans shamed in round two of Jeopardy! showdown

Rob Foster

Would you trust Watson?

The IBM infomercial talked about using Watson in medical scenarios.

Based on its final Jeopardy answer, this would be akin to...

"The symptom's are a sore throat and itchy eyes"

What is 'necrotizing fasciitis'.

Quick! Immediate emergency amputation of the left leg is indicated.

Global warming may be normal at this point in glacial cycle

Rob Foster
Paris Hilton

I'm actually reassured by this article....

(Don't follow the weather reports to pass judgment on this year's winter. Europe and Eastern US are getting buried in snow. I'm having one of the warmest winters on record. It IS all about averages and longer term trends.)

The main thrust of AGW denial has been in the form of 'The world is NOT getting warmer...'

The thrust of this article is, "Well the world may actually be getting warmer but man is not to be blamed..."

Perhaps the oil lobby is starting to see the weak data behind the Anti-AGW arguments and this is a way to admit the world is getting warmer without having to actually do anything about it.

(Paris because she knows a good... Well, you figure it out.)

Dell and HP sing Microsoft tune on Word injunction

Rob Foster

And in the mean time...

HP and Dell will be beavering away at the pre-install for the "include free OpenOffice.org suite supporting all international standards" so the bases are covered regardless of how this falls out.

'Ruggedised, weaponised' raygun modules now on sale

Rob Foster

So the Stargate Program is starting to pay off...


America's second largest ethanol producer goes titsup

Rob Foster

Add my comment to the pile - Good riddance...

Dubya pushed this idiocy because it allowed him to sound like he was doing something without jeopardizing big oil or acknowledging global warming.

I went as far a researching the Canadian potential. If ALL our corn production (based on 2005 numbers) was converted to ethanol utilizing accepted yield rates it would provide enough fuel to replace 15% of annual gasoline consumption.

Although when you consider how much food would not be produced as a consequence the fuel production, the percentage would quickly rise as people starved to death. Moronic idea from day one.

I will also add that the global food grains reserve has fallen year over year for the last several years which means we are not currently growing enough grains to feed the world even without the stupidity of converting it to fuel. Fill your tank = let someone starve. Sometwo if you have a Hummer.

NetApp's 50 per cent guarantee

Rob Foster
Thumb Down

Creative math...

Researching NetApp - They seem to recommend 8 (data) + 2(raid) for their RAID-DP model and recommend no more than 60% space utilization before you risk degrading performance. (Once you deep dive into how RAID-DP actually works, this makes sense).

Immediately one sees Available storage = 0.8 x 0.6 x Raw Storage = 0.48 raw storage. This is worse than Raid 1+0.

And then for dedup. , NetApp does post-write deduplication which means you need to write data to disk first *before* cleaning up replicated data. So you need to allow around a .75 multiplier to allow for deduplication space and then if you use snapshots there is some overhead so multiply by .8 again and you are at .48 * .75 * .8 = .27 utilization of raw storage. Call it .25 after allowing for metadata, etc. (Yes, I know you don't really need to do snapshots but then why pay for it?)

Going back to their magic 10.75TB value, you get 2.7TB usable. Getting the next 50% free puts you to 4.0TB usable before you start paying again (assuming you are willing to face your cheesed off financial controller, cap in hand for more storage budget.)

NetApp uses the same math as the American banking industry.

US boffins: Laptops will be as hot as the Sun by 2030

Rob Foster

Too bad they won't be able to patent.

The US patent office on principle does not look at patents for devices that violate the second law of thermodynamics as this implies a perpetual motion machine.

Now there may be opportunities at the logic gate level. Entropy and information go hand in hand. Every AND & OR & etc. gate takes two inputs and provides only one output - thus losing information. This prodigious loss of information adds to the entropy of the universe and entropy = heat (more or less). Finding a way to recycle discarded logic bits could lead to inherently cooler chips. I leave this as an exercise for the class.

Penguins like it cool.

David Blaine tw*tdangle ends in controversy

Rob Foster
Thumb Down

60 hours upside down

The key issue is the 10 minutes/hour health and safety breaks. (I'm quoting another poster so flame him if wrong...)

I haven't hung upside down for very long in recent years. I suspect my brain or at least an artery thereof would explode sometime in the first hour, let alone 60 hours. Your body just isn't warrantied when you fail to comply with the user manual.

So this was a stupid misleading stunt from the beginning. No credible sponsor is interested in the liability around letting this git actually do something dangerous.

Dell confirms 12in netbook? MID? Tablet?

Rob Foster
Thumb Up

Shot across MS bow?

(I may be wrong but...)

Isn't there at 10.2 inch limitation on screen size for MID devices/UMPCs running XP? So a 12 inch screen with an Atom mobile processor probably runs Ubuntu quite nicely but may be underpowered for a satisfying Vista experience (if such a thing exists).

Is this a case of Dell forcing the XP retirement issue? MicroShaft may not be too happy about this. I may actually have to start liking Dell...

Phoenix lander sucks up water on Mars

Rob Foster


Short assessment - long on missing the point.

You are correct - I don't know how to exhaustively analyze for life on Mars from here and neither does NASA. From 1970 Viking missions to 40 years later we have progressed to a robot that can barely collect a sprinkle of dirt (sometimes) and sort of analyze it.

Having no one on the spot cripples these probes' functionality as soon as the unexpected occurs. Viking was landed in the middle of a Martian desert because it was flat and safe and decades later probe designs are still influenced by that result. The scoop doesn't work properly because the NASA scientists are so constrained by previous empirical evidence that the engineered design is too inflexible - likely driven by a budgetary constraint.

My thesis was that a man mission by the nature of its flexibility would have a higer pay off in spite of higher risk and cost. And yes I know that not all the questions around bone density loss, psychological effects, solar radiation, how to actually land a human on Mars, etc have not been answered.

Rob Foster

The history of Mars water and why we need people on Mars...

It must take a special mentality to be a space scientist.

Regarding water on Mars: First there was no water and never was and then well, maybe there used to be some a long time ago but it was really salty and couldn't support life. ...Oh well maybe there was more water than that but it is all gone and wasn't around long enough for life to develop, etc. To make a long story short it seems like now you can't go to Mars without tripping over water. There are some that argue that even the rovers scraped the covering dirt off of some briny water (It must be briny because there can't be THAT much water, right?)

All these probes are purpose built and that purpose is based on the prevailing scientific opinion 4-10 years before launch so why would anyone build a probe that can look for life? Optimal launch windows occur approx. every 26 months but the real turnaround in scientific thinking takes around a decade as probe designs get revised which means that some time around 2020 we may have a probe that can begin to look for life signs - assuming that researchers are willing to fly in the face of conventional wisdom (there is no life on Mars after all) and invest in a risky discovery mission.

Now about that scientific mindset - Let us presume that there is a higher incidence of atheism among exobiology researchers, it is monumentally ironic that they are willing to extend research by minute incremental steps (the word 'pedestrian' hardly begins to describe this pace of research) every decade or so. Many current researchers will be Dead (capitalized to emphasize their lack of afterlife) and only remembered in dusty mission reports in a universe that, for them, ceases to exist when they die. Legacies are for people that believe in spiritual continuity yet these people labour away knowing that they will never see the real fruits of their labours.

On the other hand some astro-johny on the spot - even a square jawed military poster boy - could pick up the rock with the green scunge and comment, "Crikey, maybe we should stick this under a 'scope and 'ave a look." Then all those scientists could knock off early and rest up to really kick it at the post-Nobel party.

MS products just too cool to comprehend, say MS geeks

Rob Foster
Gates Horns

Mine turn to berate Mike...

My namebrand laptop was sold with Vista installed and with decently large specs - dual core 2.0Ghz w. 4 GB memory and 256 MB or dedicated video memory. Vista is slower than the dual bootable Ubuntu w. Compiz effects enabled. Boot time is slower, trivial graphics are jerky to the point where I have turned off several effects under Vista trying to boost performance.

So my next system is going to be home built - basic box for email and web access for my dear old auntie. Modern atom based, mini-ITX mobo with 2.5" HD (or maybe flash) aiming for an idle state power consumption < 4W so she doesn't have to worry about how to turn it on and off. I worried all the clutter and confusion and issues of Vista would freak her out. (un)Fortunately Vista won't run worth a damn on these spec's and I will be forced (relieved) to install the Ubuntu MID edition which has an uber-clean UI delivering only what the old bird will understand without all sorts of unnecessary panic inducing crap.

Ironic isn't it that I can buy new yet a horrendously underpowered (for VIsta) mobo from Intel in this day and age. Stupid Intel, don't they know to kowtow to MS. Or maybe the times they are a changing...

Gates threatens to buy millions and millions of servers for Microsoft

Rob Foster
Gates Horns

I couldn't take it any longer...

...I had to jump in on the slamming of Gates.

Another 'great' MS innovation parable...

Citrix figured out how to make Windows NT sort of truly multi-user. If only developers could have figured out that c:\temp\temp.dat was not unique in a multi-user environment. (I remember a MS sales flack telling me that WNT was serially multi-user ;-).

Then MS realized that Citrix was making money and was licensed for access to the source code for all future versions of WindowsNT. Doh!

The solution. Develop terminal services (an inferior product), charge everyone an arm and a leg for it and bypass that whole embasassing source code license booboo by rebranding as Windows 2000. No longer a future version of NT = no legal commitment = no problem.


(Evil Billy -> Better the devil who doesn't know...)

Canadians go out clubbing

Rob Foster
Dead Vulture

re:Oh for christ's sake

I only reference this remark because it tweaked something in my memory leading to this thought....

275,000 seals per year (*5) = 1,375,000 (approx.) = the estimate of Iraqis killed in Iraq since 2003 - perhaps a bit on the high side but not that far out of the ball park.

In grade 8 (31 years ago OMG!) I debated this very hunt while blissfully ignorant of the word 'genocide'. Three decades later the seals are still going strong but the Iraq population is declining because of an over zealous cull.

We live IN the environment, not separate from it, which calls for responsible involvement. But in this case lets, for pity's sake get our priorities straight.

Linux-less Eee PC launched in Japan

Rob Foster

Not Vista?

Do you suppose it embarrasses MS to have to use a legacy operating system to shoehorn it into the Eee?

p.s. - You need a sheep(ish) icon.

Moon makes us extra special, scientists say

Rob Foster

I agree with the christian...

Twenty years ago, Mars was a dry dead planet - never had water - nope - absolutely not.

And now the same scientists are falling over themselves to proclaim their own personal evidence of locations for more water on Mars.

In all things, the truth is somewhere in the middle and understanding God's ineffable plan from slim data points smacks of religious zealotry, no matter which side you approach it from.

IBM courier crashes. Sensitive tapes go AWOL

Rob Foster

Absolutely hilarious...

I was at an IBM presentation just this morning where IBM was naming names of companies that failed to encrypt tape data and were burned when they were lost/stolen.

Makes my day...

Biofuels are the 'next environmental danger'

Rob Foster

A trade off...

Two interesting yet disturbing statistics:

1. In 6 of the last 7 years the world foodgrain reserves have declined in total volume -> We are eating more than we are producing.

2. The amount of grain required to produce fuel for one fill up in a Hummer would feed an adult for a year.

Therefore 1 ethanol based road trip = one dead human.

Why don't we cover marginal lands and deserts with solar panels and produce more energy than we will ever get from ethanol - save the farmland for farming and scarce oil for mobility requirements until a REAL hydrogen economy comes our way?