Thursday, February 15, 2007

Around the World in 80 Posts! -UPDATED x3

-This post has been heavily added to -

The Squeaky Wheel...

What did I tell you?

Attempt to hold the world hostage, and your punishment is? One million or more barrels of fuel oil! Take heart, terrorists: this could be your lucky day. If a promise to halt Nuclear weapons development netted North Korea such a l3w7 h4ul, imagine how much a one-year moratorium on jihad would be worth! All silliness aside, the North Korean settlement is a puzzling development. What happened to "we don't negotiate with terrorists"? Where is the drive to rid the world of "communist evil"? Why do we make no mention of "liberation" for the destitute and brainwashed civilians of North Korea? It seems that if anyone is backing down, it is the US itself. Confrontation and conflict have served as the vanguard of "free markets" and "democracy" since the right to keep and bear arms was entrenched in the US constitution. Why now does the Hegemon repent? I can only surmise that – as seems to be the case with the Iraq war – Republican senators' desire for re-election has supplanted their thirst for blood and/or oil as priority #1. The entire state of affairs distresses me, for a number of reasons.

The first is that this “deal” - or any “deal” - is a loss for us, and it is a loss for humanity. Kim Jong-Il wins, for what profit could he find in maintaining a Nuclear Weapons program save that which he has now achieved? The world has been blackmailed into rewarding the supposed end of that which should not have happened in the first place. Does the West profit? Mr. Jong-Il would face no better an outcome had he made use of a nuclear weapon than (Iranian President) Ahmadinejad (sp?) in a similar situation. It may be that we have averted death and bloodshed, but we have also allowed ourselves to be blackmailed. Had we ignored the threat, had we called North Korea's bluff, the situation would be no better. There seems to be enough desire for combat on both sides, certainly enough to send us once again on the path to war with no hope of an end. The only positive solution I can see is one that should have happened years ago. In order to lead by example, the West should have abandoned both the development and maintenance of nuclear weaponry. Every last warhead should have been dismantled, and the contents useful to science or industry used for said purposes. The critical elements for initiating fission should have been pulverized into fine dust. What of leaving ourselves “defenseless”? There is no defense from total obliteration, There is only the potential for retribution before the end.

It isn't too late, though. Disarmament means that Iran (another one of those "rogue states") can no longer justify a nuclear program with “we have just as much a right as you do”. Perhaps they would continue to seek nuclear warheads, regardless. Would a nuclear reprisal be necessary? Does there not exist within the US alone the ordinance to devastate a thousand Irans? Speaking of problems of our own making, it was the West meddling in Iran which led to it's present state as a shining example of why theocracy is NOT a pleasant form of government. As glad as I am to see that we are not following the same path with North Korea (to my knowledge), there is one concern which overshadows all others. I have yet to tell you who the real losers are in this deal. The North Korean citizens who will spend their lives in ignorance because of their government. The North Koreans whose children will be raised to worship Kim Jong-Il and his successors. The North Koreans who in all likelihood who will go on starving, no matter how much fuel oil we send to keep their funny-haired Great Leader at bay.

The bottom line is that any time we buy now is time to formulate a better plan to deal with the situation. The only downside is that 'solutions', in the Western political lexicon, seems to mean “resolution of an unsavoury situation in a manner characterized by a maximization of both short-term gain, and long-term backlash”. Perhaps the US did not start a war this time because they had already lost.

Did you Know That...?

Canadian Conservatives, unlike their US counterparts DON'T seem to want to be re-elected. In response to a bill passed in the House of Commons which would hold the Cons to abide by Canada's Kyoto commitment, John Baird said that if it clears the Senate, he would ask his department how to meet Kyoto “without spending any money” (the Bill does not mandate any expenditures). The Conservatives come into office without a clue that the Environment would become an important issue. They re-instate Liberal programs in response to demand for climate-change legislation. They spend all this time chastising the Liberals for inaction on the Environment. I now consider the failure cake to be fully iced and decorated. First, now the Conservatives can be accused of lacking even the DESIRE to attain Kyoto goals. Second, the Liberals can cook up some BS about them “taking action” to ensure that Canada's government met its targets. Third, John Baird, instead of graciously accepting the fact that he had been PWN'D, he decides to go on record sounding like a complete asshole. I humbly suggest a slogan for the eventual Conservative election campaign: Canada's New Government: hey, we sucked in new and different ways!

That's all for now. Coming soon are my thoughts on Intel's 80-core processor demo, Supreme Commander, and Rise of Legends. Also, HDTV/computer frustrations!

Explore Expand Exploit Exterminate

Well, it's mostly the first two which you are likely to find within my blog. The latter two generally decline to make appearances, due to some bad publicity of late. “Exploit” in particular has fought against negative connotations among the public for several years now. At the time of writing, “Exterminate” could not be reached for comment, instead issuing a pre-recorded statement vowing to fight all slanderous accusations brought against him by “unscrupulous parties desperate for a soap box”

The “Four Xs” can be found together mainly in galactic-scale strategy, with other strategy games offering various (often, sadly, lacking) mixtures. From my experience with the Supreme Commander demo, I can say that the final 3 will be taking up most of your time, which is quite condusive to intense combat. The campaign missions are solid, but ever since Warcraft 3 set the bar for story-character-mission interplay somewhere around the orbit of Pluto's moon, almost no strategy game has managed to satisfy on the campaign front. Ground Control 2 is an exception, as it lacks base building. Supreme Commander's base-building is fun (although having different levels of engineer unit which LOOK THE SAME is kinda daft), but combined with sparse narrative and lack of hero units, campaign missions never feel as cinematic as those in Warcraft 3 or GC2 did. The game shines almost entirely on technical merits, namely that the controls are useful (although the lack of an in-game tutorial in the demo annoys me, I sincerely hope the full game has one for at least the unique features), the graphics are stellar, and the battles are positively epic.

SupCom is alleged to have incredible graphics, but since I cannot run the game with the settings any higher than 'low', I suspect I do not know the half of it . Explosions (pretty and satisfying when its their ship or giant robot what gets deep-sixed) are plentiful, and unit caps are very high. I suppose I should also mention that I can run the game across two screens, which is every bit as cool as any previews you have seen or read make it out to be. My one complaint is that by the end game, both (independant) cameras, and therefore monitors will be very close in zoom level, until your giant army enters combat (at which point you use one for the sheer pleasure of watching shit explode). I think that with more practice, I could be using both monitors to their fullest effect at all times, but until then it is at least worth the marvelling at. Two screens of game. Fucking AWESOME!

Obviously having only played the demo thus far, I cannot produce a final verdict on the game. From what I have played, though, it seems to be a very solid RTS. It has a few unique features, but in the end it's C&C or Warcraft, but with robots, more eye candy, and a little sophistication. Maybe I need to play the original Total Annihilation before I understand how great this game must be for Chris Taylor fans. That, or maybe someone besides Blizzard or Massive or Relic (the middle developed GC2, the latter Homeworld) needs to learn how to tell a story in an RTS!

I gate in 30, Dostya out (SupCom reference)

Double Kill!

It's Sunday, which means that it has come time to score the above with respect to my Blog here and my homework...somewhere here. I have a pretty ridiculous amount for being scant few weeks into the new semester. Not one, not two, but THREE group projects due at various times, two book reports, and I have the ISU for one of my classes. This does not bode well for me if I enjoy having leasure time.

So I looked up the serial number on a then-unidentified 3dfx-based board that I scored for $5 at a used computer parts shop in Langley, BC. Turns out that it's a Creative Labs Voodoo 2 board of some description. I'm not yet sure if it has 8 or 12 MB of vRAM, but what I do know is that he day I bought that card was one of my luckiest ever. That was the day I acquired my Abit BP-6, a piece of Geek history, and possibly legend. The 3dfx card was a throwaway buy, because I thought it might be an also-legendary Voodoo 2. Well, so it is. Now all I need is another one. I wonder if a pair of these suckers in SLI could run a 3rd display in WinXP. Unlikely, but hey, I have enough PCI slots to do it.

If you are wondering why I keep editing post 80 as opposed to creating new posts, it is because I fully intend to talk about Intel's recent demonstration of an 80-core processor. And doing that in the 81st or 82nd post would just be really lame. So there you have it.

It Takes a Child to Raze a Village

I can't believe I hadn't previously thought of such a perverse twist on the old saying. I ought to Google it, see if anyone else thought of it first. I wonder if it's as true as the original. Something about it rings false, to me at least. I suspect as many – if not more - vilages have been burned by the calculated malice of an adult conqueror than have fallen to angry children. In a metaphorical sense, suppose a 'village' represents all of the worst aspects of said: A village is small, it can feel restrictive, it may have an entrenched order. Who but a child would dare to upset the fragile balance of pastoral life? Clearly this statement requires further investigation...

Moving on...

Poetic Injustice

You may have noticed two new links over to this side ---->. Try to look past the fact that they are Livejournals, and see the often-fantastic work of two very good friends of mine. I just finished reading poems written by each, and I have to say that by comparison, I am a total poetry hack. Most of my work in that area rhymes, which immediately lends an air of silliness to the work that oftentimes it would be better off without. In the case of satirical/angry poetry it can be very satisfying to have such a quality, but if I were to attempt writing something prettier, it would cause complete and utter failure.

Perhaps my problem is that I am too quick to compare my achievements with others'. I'm not what you would describe as a competitive person, but I do have an intense desire for validation. The problem is that I invariably come across as a pale imitator, a cheap taiwanese knock-off, if you will, of whatever greatness to which I aspire. Case in point: Some weeks ago I recorded a podcast with some friends (if it ever gets edited properly, it may end up here), and one friend in particular is a very funny guy. Listening to the recording again, it becomes painfully obvious that I would die to possess his comic genius, because I try endlessly to be funny, to riff off his jokes...but I fail, rather miserably. Applied to the current situation, it means that now I should not be writing poetry, because whatever I created, no matter how good on its own merits, would be nothing more than the dull shadow of a vibrant original. The problem is that I have the greatest urge to do something when I have seen how successfully someone else has done it. I want to make that greatness my own, I want to prove that I can be just as good as they are. The only problem is, I can't, and I'm not.

Perhaps the worst, the least healthy place in which this damnable trait has reared its head is in my relationship with Star. Whether or not it is the truth, I see my friends in far more stable-looking, far happier relationships than my own...and I want that for myself. I want to be part of a couple that looks great to the world around, that jokes, laughs, plays around...but then if I had that it would all be a show. It would be there TO be there, not to make me any happier by what it would be. Being with Star is one thing I actually decided to do for myself, I had the desire to make her happy and to be happy with her. Now two years on and I'm threatened with the prospect of it being turned into a status symbol by my desire to be seen as being worth something. I hate the prospect, I hate the desire, and I hate having so little power to change either.

To round off this lovely deconstruction of my self-confidence, I am presented with an identity crisis. After all, if I am characterized by a desire to emulate the successes of others, what does that say about me? I don't think I can get away with saying that I have no identy period (such a statement would be rightly and harshly contested), but I can certainly wonder if I am not void of true personal aspirations. Am I the aspirational equivalent of the guy who says nothing but “I'll have what he's having” when out to eat? Am I one of those pathetic people who will swear allegiance to whoever looks poised to win, and who hopes every day to be recognized by that person? Or worst of all, am I simply cursed with a creative void, which I seek to fill by distilling the best of others' work and integrating that into my own, a plagiarist on the basest of levels?

That's enough introspection for now, what is there already encroaches upon the realm of fishing for sympathy – yet another form in which my desire for personal validation manifests itself.

And Getting to the Point

I suppose I had better get around to doing the thing for which I have been consitently postponing post #81: Speak my mind about Intel's demonstration of an 80-core processor (which must have been last week by now, but that's ok):

Intel's demonstration of an 80-core processor is an audacious and auspicious achievement, yet I find myself as much apprehensive as I am astounded. Intel now seems hell-bent to push the limits on the number of processor cores which can be loaded onto a die, just as it was with clock speed during the Pentium 4 era – an infatuation which did not end until it became impractical to pursue further. Initially, some may recall, the P4 was supposed to scale to 10GHz. What I am getting at here is that no matter how many cores Intel can cram into a processor today, there will be a ceiling past which the thermals become too great, or he circuits too small. Multi-core processing was one unexpected contributor to the downfall of high-clocked single-core processors, it would be foolish to believe that some comparable design change will come out of the blue to strike down multi-core as we know it. AMD seems to have an idea of what this will be, and should their product come to fruition, it could very well play the more efficient Athlon to the P4-like brute force approach of “as many cores as possible” (If such a comparison makes any sense).

There are a few variables yet unresolved in the equation. Number one is Intel's supposed plan to release a new microarchitecture every 2 years (beginning with Core 2). This could either prolong the lifetime of a many-cores approach, or allow Intel the flexibility to jump ship should it's current approach show any signs of slowing down in terms of performance increase. AMD's potential integration of ATI graphics hardware into a CPU core might begin life in the lower-end integrated-graphics type market, but as we are seeing with the current x1900 and Nvidia 8800 lineups, an ultra-powerful set of floating-point processors can be harnessed to achieve supercomputer-like number-crunching power with a vastly smaller number of computers. Should AMD take the lead in this respect, its processors may gain the upper hand in terms of raw FPU power. I'll reserve judgement on that until I see the performance nubers on their Quad-core parts later in the year. If AMD cannot regain at least parity in the enthusiast market, it may not be the end, but it will certainly put AMD out of the game for yet another generation of processors, which is something that company cannot afford.

Until such a time as AMD releases new procs, the field is Intel's to play. With their 80-core proc putting out a maximum of 62W of heat (3W less than a current core 2 Duo), Imagine the potential for overclocking newer Intel parts from 4 to 80 cores in future! If power consumption and heat output scale in a linear fashion, imagine how little power a dual-or quad-core processor might require inside of a year. It may become possible to build a computerized toaster with more power in it than an entire Xbox 360 (ok, hyperbole)!

I want the A.I. Toaster from Red Dwarf. I actually enjoy toast, so he'd whine less.

I believe this is the 80th post's last hurrah, look out for #81, coming your way soon!

1 comment:

shryko said...

I must say, the west hasn't developed nuclear arms in a LONG time... they've barely maintained them. they're just sitting there, ready to go in case they're needed.

and really, you can't get rid of the stuff needed for fission. one can create a fission reactor in one's back yard, for crying out loud. The bombs dropped in world war 2? they were compression bombs. take a ball of radioactive stuff, strap explosives all around it, and arrange for the explosives to go off at the same time... That's the most basic form of nuclear weapon...

the next type, you have a radioactive bullet, and a ball of the same highly radioactive stuff... shoot bullet at ball. instant bomb.

disarming will do nothing, really. we must promote peace, and honestly, the US doesn't do so well with that. especially considering the military industrial complex that they live off of...

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