[OT] The Return of Star Wars (Graphics Cards)

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Quadibloc

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Nov 22, 2022, 4:21:00 PM11/22/22
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As this refers to Jerry Pournelle, a science-fiction author, it is
slightly on-topic...

Yes, _that_ Star Wars: the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Making Russia's (and China's) nuclear arsenals "impotent and
obsolete" would be all very well if we could do it. It would be helpful
to Ukraine and Taiwan.

And, unlike other things Joe Biden might want to spend money on,
this would be something the Republicans would approve of, at least
given their track record.

However, nothing came of the Strategic Defense Initiative. At the
time, one major criticism of it was that computers weren't even close
to being able to perform the artificial intelligence functions required
to distinguish a missile launch from many other things.

However, that was then, and now is... now! Now, a computer can
beat Magnus Carlsen at chess, for example. But that, in itself,
while it's shown that one AI-related programming area has progressed,
is hardly enough to even suggest that SDI, once impossible, is now
possible.

But there are _other_ things that show that there has been *big* and
*obvious* progress on the AI front.

Thus, for example, if you buy a recent Nvidia graphics card - the 3000
series, not necessarily the current 4000 series, of which only the
most expensive models are currently available, will do - you can use
software available from Nvidia free for it, called Nvidia Broadcast,
which can let you sit in front of your living room instead of a green screen,
and yet it will figure out what is the background, and let you replace
it with, say, your computer's screen.

In fact, there are quite a few AI-related things that are based on
low-precision matrix multiplication with modern graphics card
chips.

John Savard

pete...@gmail.com

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Nov 22, 2022, 11:46:12 PM11/22/22
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Huh? A standard laptop, no special cards, can do that just fine in Skype,
Zoom, or Microsoft Teams. I do it every workday. I rotate my fake
backgrounds, but prefer landscapes.

Pt

Kevrob

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Nov 23, 2022, 2:48:41 AM11/23/22
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On Tuesday, November 22, 2022 at 4:21:00 PM UTC-5, Quadibloc wrote:
Influence of SDI on the fate of the USSR?

[quote]

{headline}

The Phantom Menace

How an unproven, widely mocked technology scared the Soviets into ending the Cold War.

By KEN ADELMAN | May 11, 2014

{/headline}

....author of _Reagan at Reykjavik: Forty-Eight Hours that Ended the Cold War_
 by Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, was U.S. arms control director
during the October 1986 summit in Iceland and a U.S. ambassador to the United
Nations before then.

For decades, Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI)—an ambitious ground-
and space-based “shield” to protect the United States from nuclear ballistic missiles—
has been mocked and criticized. First proposed by the president in 1983, it was immediately
dubbed “Star Wars” by the mainstream media and dismissed as unscientific, infeasible
and even counter-productive. The Union of Concerned Scientists, 100,000 members strong,
was fierce in its opposition. The Arms Control Association declared that SDI would end
arms control, while some Soviets felt SDI would end the world. Domestic critics became
furious, and the Kremlin went ballistic.

But while Reagan’s critics might not have taken his pet technology seriously, the Russians
certainly did. Even though SDI was decades away from being implemented, if not beyond
the reach of technology altogether, the threat the shield presented—along with Reagan’s
dogged commitment to it—was enough to scare Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev into
reforms that would eventually bring down the Soviet Union. In short: “Star Wars” never
worked as Reagan wished. It worked even better. And I should know, because I saw it happen.

[/quote]

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/the-phantom-menace-106551/

That's one take.

I used to joke that pundits had finally updated their anti-SF sneers,
from "that Buck Rogers stuff."


--
Kevin R
a.a #2310

Quadibloc

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Nov 24, 2022, 6:29:44 AM11/24/22
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On Wednesday, November 23, 2022 at 12:48:41 AM UTC-7, Kevrob quoted, in part:

> But while Reagan’s critics might not have taken his pet technology seriously, the Russians
> certainly did. Even though SDI was decades away from being implemented, if not beyond
> the reach of technology altogether, the threat the shield presented—along with Reagan’s
> dogged commitment to it—was enough to scare Soviet leader Mikhael Gorbachev into
> reforms that would eventually bring down the Soviet Union. In short: “Star Wars” never
> worked as Reagan wished. It worked even better. And I should know, because I saw it happen.

Well, I'm sure that it would not be possible to fool the Russians twice with
the same trick. So it's only if advances in computers really _have_ made it
possible for it to actually work now that the revival of SDI would have merit.

John Savard

WolfFan

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Nov 26, 2022, 2:22:23 PM11/26/22
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On Nov 22, 2022, Quadibloc wrote
(in article<3623f41d-9881-49ec...@googlegroups.com>):

> Thus, for example, if you buy a recent Nvidia graphics card - the 3000
> series, not necessarily the current 4000 series, of which only the
> most expensive models are currently available, will do - you can use
> software available from Nvidia free for it, called Nvidia Broadcast,
> which can let you sit in front of your living room instead of a green screen,
> and yet it will figure out what is the background, and let you replace
> it with, say, your computer's screen.

I’d be real careful with Nvidia 4000 series cards.

> https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/18/nvidia_flawsuit_4090/

Ninapenda Jibini

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Nov 26, 2022, 3:37:44 PM11/26/22
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WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote in
news:0001HW.29329EE700...@news.supernews.com:
Mostly, apparently, be real careful to plug them in correctly.

--
Terry Austin

Proof that Alan Baker is a liar and a fool, and even stupider than
Lynn:
https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/sw-border-migration


"Terry Austin: like the polio vaccine, only with more asshole."
-- David Bilek

Jesus forgives sinners, not criminals.

WolfFan

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Nov 27, 2022, 10:30:34 AM11/27/22
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On Nov 26, 2022, Ninapenda Jibini wrote
(in article<XnsAF5B807255980...@85.12.62.245>):

> WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote in
> news:0001HW.29329EE700...@news.supernews.com:
>
> > On Nov 22, 2022, Quadibloc wrote
> > (in
> > article<3623f41d-9881-49ec...@googlegroups.com>):
> >
> > > Thus, for example, if you buy a recent Nvidia graphics card -
> > > the 3000 series, not necessarily the current 4000 series, of
> > > which only the most expensive models are currently available,
> > > will do - you can use software available from Nvidia free for
> > > it, called Nvidia Broadcast, which can let you sit in front of
> > > your living room instead of a green screen, and yet it will
> > > figure out what is the background, and let you replace it with,
> > > say, your computer's screen.
> >
> > I’d be real careful with Nvidia 4000 series cards.
> >
> > > https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/18/nvidia_flawsuit_4090/
> Mostly, apparently, be real careful to plug them in correctly.

Apparently they have problems with the number of times that they can be
plugged into power, _and_ they have poorly placed power sockets so that the
power plugs work loose _and_ they have thin gauge power cable. It’s the
combination that’s the problem. If they had thicker cable, the cables
wouldn’t overheat and melt. If the plugs didn’t work loose, they
wouldn’t have to be reinserted. If the power sockets were placed better,
the plugs wouldn’t work loose. If the number of insert/remove cycles was
higher, there wouldn’t be so many failures.

Of course, if idiots wouldn’t pay $1500 for a video card, none of this
would matter. The video card in my main Windows box cost $150. The entire box
that I’m typing this on right now cost $1200, including upgrading the RAM,
and Apple stuff is supposed to be expensive. There is no way that I’d spend
$1500 on a video card. Ain’t happening... unless it’s a _pro_ video card,
to do actual work which makes actual money. Note that crypto Ponzi crap
ain’t real money. The company has a few machines with expensive video cards
to make actual products which make actual money. The company paid for those
cards. If a power cable melted, there would be trouble. If it was due to user
error, someone’s fired. If it’s due to design or other vendor faults,
Legal would be involved. Quickly.

Ninapenda Jibini

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Nov 27, 2022, 1:24:53 PM11/27/22
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WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote in
news:0001HW.2933BA1100...@news.supernews.com:
The precise details are still being investigated by all sides. But
from Nvidiea's own account, it certainly looks like a design flaw
to me.
>
> Of course, if idiots wouldn’t pay $1500 for a video card, none
> of this would matter. The video card in my main Windows box cost
> $150. The entire box that I’m typing this on right now cost
> $1200, including upgrading the RAM, and Apple stuff is supposed
> to be expensive. There is no way that I’d spend $1500 on a
> video card. Ain’t happening... unless it’s a _pro_ video
> card, to do actual work which makes actual money. Note that
> crypto Ponzi crap ain’t real money. The company has a few
> machines with expensive video cards to make actual products
> which make actual money. The company paid for those cards. If a
> power cable melted, there would be trouble. If it was due to
> user error, someone’s fired. If it’s due to design or other
> vendor faults, Legal would be involved. Quickly.
>
Legal *is* involved. At least one lawsuit has been filed, and is
seeking class action status. Which is seems likely to get. And once
it does, Nvidia will likely settle pretty quickly.

Quadibloc

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Nov 27, 2022, 1:25:14 PM11/27/22
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On Saturday, November 26, 2022 at 12:22:23 PM UTC-7, WolfFan wrote:

> I’d be real careful with Nvidia 4000 series cards.

I'm aware of the issues with the 4090. Presumably, if there was _nothing_
wrong with the card itself, then there would only be fires due to people
not putting the plug in right at the same frequency as with *any other*
video card.
So, _even if_ it is true, as claimed, that if the card is plugged in properly,
there should be no problem, it's clear the design is skating too close to
the edge, with an inadequate safety margin. (I haven't researched the
issue deeply enough to have any opinion on whether or not that is true.)
But, _since_ the root is the power consumption of the 4090, that would
seem to imply there's no reason to worry (too much) about the 4080.
The AMD offering is generally considered to be the better bargain, if
one isn't seeking the advanced features of the Nvidia cards, however.

John Savard

Ninapenda Jibini

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Nov 27, 2022, 1:33:50 PM11/27/22
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Quadibloc <jsa...@ecn.ab.ca> wrote in
news:4e369656-6b39-4d07...@googlegroups.com:
AMD has had its adventures too, with Tesla recalling 130,000 cars
because of overheating by Tyzen processers in the entertainment
systems. (Though the details on that suggest it's Tesla's design flaw
in the cooling system rather than the CPU itself.)

Dorothy J Heydt

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Nov 27, 2022, 4:52:42 PM11/27/22
to
In article <3623f41d-9881-49ec...@googlegroups.com>,
Quadibloc <jsa...@ecn.ab.ca> wrote:
>As this refers to Jerry Pournelle, a science-fiction author, it is
>slightly on-topic...
>
>Yes, _that_ Star Wars: the Strategic Defense Initiative.
>
>Making Russia's (and China's) nuclear arsenals "impotent and
>obsolete" would be all very well if we could do it. It would be helpful
>to Ukraine and Taiwan.

(Hal Heydt)
There's a report floating around that the Russians are replacing
the warheads in some of their nuclear armed missiles with inert
weights (to keep the flight dynamics stable) and using them as
decoys in hopes of getting other missiles through Ukraine's air
defenses.

Or, if you want a real horror... There is an estimate that
Russia will lose more troops this winter to hypothermia than they
will to the Ukraine army.

Scott Lurndal

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Nov 27, 2022, 6:14:45 PM11/27/22
to
The Russians have been loath to commit their elite troops
to the theater[*], for whatever reasons. They're instead sending
untrained or poorly-trained conscripts and "volunteer units"
and mercenaries. The mercenaries are recruiting from prisons,
and many of those recruits fade across the lines and surrender.

They've also been running short on uniforms, vests, food,
medicines, field hospitals etc.

[*] The one elite battalion that had been sent is basically
combat ineffective with greater than 50% casualties.

Paul S Person

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Nov 28, 2022, 12:39:51 PM11/28/22
to
On Sun, 27 Nov 2022 21:44:24 GMT, djh...@kithrup.com (Dorothy J
Heydt) wrote:

>In article <3623f41d-9881-49ec...@googlegroups.com>,
>Quadibloc <jsa...@ecn.ab.ca> wrote:
>>As this refers to Jerry Pournelle, a science-fiction author, it is
>>slightly on-topic...
>>
>>Yes, _that_ Star Wars: the Strategic Defense Initiative.
>>
>>Making Russia's (and China's) nuclear arsenals "impotent and
>>obsolete" would be all very well if we could do it. It would be helpful
>>to Ukraine and Taiwan.
>
>(Hal Heydt)
>There's a report floating around that the Russians are replacing
>the warheads in some of their nuclear armed missiles with inert
>weights (to keep the flight dynamics stable) and using them as
>decoys in hopes of getting other missiles through Ukraine's air
>defenses.

That's in keeping with a report suggesting that this means they are
running out of missiles.

And every missile used as a decoy is a missile that will /not/ be
useable to deliver a nuke. This is a good thing, BTW.

>Or, if you want a real horror... There is an estimate that
>Russia will lose more troops this winter to hypothermia than they
>will to the Ukraine army.

I wonder if that can be treated as a Russian war crime. And those
responsible who survive long enough to be prosecuted for it. What the
Russians pretend is an "Army" is nothing of the sort.

Historically, disease has always been the major killer in war.

Just as the pursuit after the enemy breaks and runs has always killed
more of them than the actually battle.

I hope Putin's replacement has enough sense to pull back into Russia
(not the various land-grabs, but Russia as defined internationally)
and sue for terms.
--
"In this connexion, unquestionably the most significant
development was the disintegration, under Christian
influence, of classical conceptions of the family and
of family right."

Paul S Person

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Nov 28, 2022, 12:43:13 PM11/28/22
to
On Sun, 27 Nov 2022 23:14:41 GMT, sc...@slp53.sl.home (Scott Lurndal)
wrote:
That tends to happen when the people responsible are more interesting
in using the money for Swiss bank accounts and super-yachts than for
such boring things as the items you mention or even on weapons and
ammunition. Or the factories to produce them, I suspect.

Ukraine might want to consider erecting a bunch of GP Huge tents with
heaters and putting "Russian soldiers welcome" signs outside. Of
course, the resulting influx of POWs would have to be handled
properly.

>[*] The one elite battalion that had been sent is basically
>combat ineffective with greater than 50% casualties.

Jibini Kula Tumbili Kujisalimisha

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Nov 28, 2022, 2:11:26 PM11/28/22
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Paul S Person <pspe...@old.netcom.invalid> wrote in
news:c6s9ohpplp7ka6oe6...@4ax.com:

> internationally) and sue for terms.

Or *beg* for terms.

--
Terry Austin

Jibini Kula Tumbili Kujisalimisha

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Nov 28, 2022, 2:12:59 PM11/28/22
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Paul S Person <pspe...@old.netcom.invalid> wrote in
news:ajs9ohlnoule17ims...@4ax.com:
I'm reminded of the US invastion of Iraq, when entire units would
surrender simply because as POWs they'd be given food an water.
They would disarmed, and pointed down a road - without escort - and
told "go x miles and you'll be fed." (And one unit that surrended
to a journalist.)

Quadibloc

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Nov 29, 2022, 12:50:58 AM11/29/22
to
On Sunday, November 27, 2022 at 2:52:42 PM UTC-7, Hal Heydt wrote:

> Or, if you want a real horror... There is an estimate that
> Russia will lose more troops this winter to hypothermia than they
> will to the Ukraine army.

That isn't a horror. That's good news.

John Savard

Quadibloc

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Nov 29, 2022, 1:01:50 AM11/29/22
to
On Monday, November 28, 2022 at 10:39:51 AM UTC-7, Paul S Person wrote:

> I hope Putin's replacement has enough sense to pull back into Russia
> (not the various land-grabs, but Russia as defined internationally)
> and sue for terms.

I hope so too. However, some of the news I've been reading suggests that
the likeliest successors to Putin, if patience is lost with his handling of the
conflict, are going to be hard-liners worse than him. Of course, this may be
the only pose they can take now, consistent with survival, and when Putin is
out of the way, they may change their tune.

If not, given the rhetoric from the more hard-line element in Russia, the
question of a successor to Putin's hardline successor may not arise. For
the same reason as the 2024 Presidential Election may not be held.
Radioactive wastelands do not require governance.

Obviously, of course, this is something that we wish to avoid, but not at
the price of letting Russia get away with aggression. Why not? Surely
letting the Ukrainians suffer under oppression as the price of avoiding
World War III is no worse than letting the Vietnamese or the North Koreans
do so for the same reason?

The answer, of course, is that the pattern in Putin's behavior means that
the next dominoes are Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland... and Germany
and France. (How Russia is supposed to roll over these countries after its
troop losses in Ukraine, of course, is a real question.)

John Savard

rksh...@rosettacondot.com

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Nov 29, 2022, 10:18:05 AM11/29/22
to
WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote:
> On Nov 26, 2022, Ninapenda Jibini wrote
> (in article<XnsAF5B807255980...@85.12.62.245>):
>
>> WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote in
>> news:0001HW.29329EE700...@news.supernews.com:
>>
>> > On Nov 22, 2022, Quadibloc wrote
>> > (in
>> > article<3623f41d-9881-49ec...@googlegroups.com>):
>> >
>> > > Thus, for example, if you buy a recent Nvidia graphics card -
>> > > the 3000 series, not necessarily the current 4000 series, of
>> > > which only the most expensive models are currently available,
>> > > will do - you can use software available from Nvidia free for
>> > > it, called Nvidia Broadcast, which can let you sit in front of
>> > > your living room instead of a green screen, and yet it will
>> > > figure out what is the background, and let you replace it with,
>> > > say, your computer's screen.
>> >
>> > I’d be real careful with Nvidia 4000 series cards.
>> >
>> > > https://www.theregister.com/2022/11/18/nvidia_flawsuit_4090/
>> Mostly, apparently, be real careful to plug them in correctly.
>
> Of course, if idiots wouldn’t pay $1500 for a video card, none of this
> would matter. The video card in my main Windows box cost $150. The entire box
> that I’m typing this on right now cost $1200, including upgrading the RAM,
> and Apple stuff is supposed to be expensive. There is no way that I’d spend
> $1500 on a video card. Ain’t happening... unless it’s a _pro_ video card,
> to do actual work which makes actual money. Note that crypto Ponzi crap

I'm guessing you're not a gamer. I lost my previous video card at the height
of the crypto craze and ended up having to pay $769 for a comparable
replacement. While I personally wouldn't sink $1500 into a card I can easily
see serious gamers doing it (the really serious ones would probably go dual).
I'm still running on dual 1080p monitors, so I'm definitely not in the
"serious gamer" category.
In a lot of ways it's like audio. My audiophile friends sink more into
individual speakers than I have invested in all of my A/V equipment combined.

Robert
--
Robert K. Shull Email: rkshull at rosettacon dot com

Paul S Person

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Nov 29, 2022, 12:16:17 PM11/29/22
to
Not really. They are as much victims of Putin as Ukraine is.

But that is a problem for the Russians to resolve. They voted for
Putin, they liked Putin, the question is -- what do they do now?

Quadibloc

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Nov 30, 2022, 12:01:55 AM11/30/22
to
On Tuesday, November 29, 2022 at 10:16:17 AM UTC-7, Paul S Person wrote:
> On Mon, 28 Nov 2022 21:50:56 -0800 (PST), Quadibloc
> <jsa...@ecn.ab.ca> wrote:
> >On Sunday, November 27, 2022 at 2:52:42 PM UTC-7, Hal Heydt wrote:
> >
> >> Or, if you want a real horror... There is an estimate that
> >> Russia will lose more troops this winter to hypothermia than they
> >> will to the Ukraine army.

> >That isn't a horror. That's good news.

> Not really. They are as much victims of Putin as Ukraine is.

That is true. But until a Russian soldier in Ukraine throws down
his weapons, and surrenders to Ukraine, he is a danger to the lives
of the Ukrainian people, and the sooner that danger is ended
the better.

So if the cold causes more Russian soldiers to die sooner, that will
save Ukrainian lives, which is what makes it good news. There is a
war on. And it is Ukrainian lives that matter, not enemy lives.

John Savard

WolfFan

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Nov 30, 2022, 8:08:56 AM11/30/22
to
On Nov 29, 2022, rksh...@rosettacondot.com wrote
(in article<tm57mg$het8$2...@memoryalpha.rosettacon.com>):
Not a gamer, unless Civilization V and VI, and Bejeweled, and FreeCell count.
And I mostly play those on my iPad.

Chris Buckley

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Nov 30, 2022, 10:34:31 AM11/30/22
to
On 2022-11-30, WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote:
> On Nov 29, 2022, rksh...@rosettacondot.com wrote
>> I'm guessing you're not a gamer. I lost my previous video card at the height
>> of the crypto craze and ended up having to pay $769 for a comparable
>> replacement. While I personally wouldn't sink $1500 into a card I can easily
>> see serious gamers doing it (the really serious ones would probably go dual).
>> I'm still running on dual 1080p monitors, so I'm definitely not in the
>> "serious gamer" category.
>> In a lot of ways it's like audio. My audiophile friends sink more into
>> individual speakers than I have invested in all of my A/V equipment combined.
>>
>> Robert
>
> Not a gamer, unless Civilization V and VI, and Bejeweled, and FreeCell count.
> And I mostly play those on my iPad.

What? Civ V and VI plus Freecell but no Spider Solitaire?

I've played many thousands of Spider games over the years. It's a very
well-balanced optimization game - I enjoy it for the same reasons that
I enjoyed the Civ games. It may take a while before you win your first
game (especially if you don't allow takebacks), but you can push the
optimizations to the point where you are winning over a third of
your games (with no takebacks).

Watch out for poor implementations - those floating around based on the
Windows 7 free version have a remarkably poor RNG. I use SolSuite which
I like a lot, but it's Windows only.

Chris


Paul S Person

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Nov 30, 2022, 12:11:08 PM11/30/22
to
A properly-implemented Spider was the reason I bought SolSuite a long
time ago.

I had to search because the first version I tried would not allow deep
enough stacks to actually play the game. This was the result of trying
to fit /every/ solitaire card game included into the same interface.

Titus G

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Dec 1, 2022, 12:12:15 AM12/1/22
to
On 1/12/22 04:34, Chris Buckley wrote:
> On 2022-11-30, WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote:
snip

> I've played many thousands of Spider games over the years. It's a
> very well-balanced optimization game - I enjoy it for the same
> reasons that I enjoyed the Civ games. It may take a while before you
> win your first game (especially if you don't allow takebacks), but
> you can push the optimizations to the point where you are winning
> over a third of your games (with no takebacks).
>
> Watch out for poor implementations - those floating around based on
> the Windows 7 free version have a remarkably poor RNG. I use
> SolSuite which I like a lot, but it's Windows only.

I don't understand how there can be somewhat predictable, (or
"remarkably poor"), random numbers as I had always assumed that
unpredicability was a subset of randomness and that all random number
sequences were random. I am not a gamer but some decades ago wore out a
few packs of plastic playing cards playing Spider without takebacks.
As an afterthought. That number of games played sharpened the speed and
appearance of my shuffling skills which probably developed into a
routine. So in theory, does that mean that the sequence of cards in a
shuffled pack after many, many, iterations would become close to
predictable?
I use Linux and see that Spider is in the AisleRiot package. How would I
determine which Spider software had a better RNG? Thank you.

Quadibloc

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Dec 1, 2022, 1:30:58 AM12/1/22
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On Wednesday, November 30, 2022 at 10:12:15 PM UTC-7, Titus G wrote:

> I don't understand how there can be somewhat predictable, (or
> "remarkably poor"), random numbers as I had always assumed that
> unpredicability was a subset of randomness and that all random number
> sequences were random.

Until very recently, in order to make public-key ciphers secure, computers
didn't have access to any means of producing actually random numbers
at all. And these still aren't used for things like playing Solitaire.

Instead, the "random number" function seen in BASIC is an example of what
_will_ be used.

This is 100% predictable; it's only designed to *look* random, so that it will
usually be adequate, for example, in proposing how to take a "random" sample
of, say, the plants growing in a field for an experiment.

For a solitaire game, the starting "seed" number used for the (pseudo-)random number
generator would be generated from the exact second (gained from the computer's
real-time clock) the game was started... so that it's possible to play a new game
every time.

John Savard

Robert Carnegie

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Dec 1, 2022, 6:41:06 AM12/1/22
to
A sequence of "random numbers" from a
pseudo-random-number formula ought to be
unpredictable by examining the output, even when
you know what the formula is, and a good one is
unpredictable. However, if the starting condition
or "seed" is known, then the output is always the
same. Randomness is achieved by using a random
"seed".

I had a "home computer", Sinclair ZX Spectrum
I think is where I did this, with the BASIC language
and 65535 random decimal fraction numbers,
since those were the possible values of the seed.
I used random numbers to plot points on the screen,
x coordinate and y coordinate, and I got neat stripes
slightly angled from vertical. So that wasn't as "random"
as it could have been.

Quadibloc

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Dec 1, 2022, 8:13:31 AM12/1/22
to
On Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 4:41:06 AM UTC-7, Robert Carnegie wrote:

> A sequence of "random numbers" from a
> pseudo-random-number formula ought to be
> unpredictable by examining the output, even when
> you know what the formula is, and a good one is
> unpredictable.

In that case, "good" pseudorandom number generators
are hardly _ever_ used.

> However, if the starting condition
> or "seed" is known, then the output is always the
> same. Randomness is achieved by using a random
> "seed".

> I had a "home computer", Sinclair ZX Spectrum
> I think is where I did this, with the BASIC language
> and 65535 random decimal fraction numbers,
> since those were the possible values of the seed.
> I used random numbers to plot points on the screen,
> x coordinate and y coordinate, and I got neat stripes
> slightly angled from vertical. So that wasn't as "random"
> as it could have been.

Except for having only 65,535 possible seed values,
instead of, say, 4,294,967,296 possible seed values,
that is the sort of thing that is normal and standard for
pseudorandom number generators; typically, linear
congruential RNGs are used, not _even_ MacLaren -
Marsaglia, never mind anything actually cryptosecure,
which is what it would take for a sequence to be
unpredictable by examining the output when the
algorithm is known.

John Savard

Jack Bohn

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Dec 1, 2022, 9:45:17 AM12/1/22
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On Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 12:12:15 AM UTC-5, Titus G wrote:

>I am not a gamer but some decades ago wore out a
> few packs of plastic playing cards playing Spider without takebacks.
> As an afterthought. That number of games played sharpened the speed and
> appearance of my shuffling skills which probably developed into a
> routine. So in theory, does that mean that the sequence of cards in a
> shuffled pack after many, many, iterations would become close to
> predictable?

As Marting Gardner would say paradoxically in his Mathematical Games columns, shuffling is a skill that depends on the clumsiness of the shuffler.

It can be shown that a perfect rifle shuffle -- divide the deck exactly in half, alternate one card from each half -- will return the deck to its original or "seed" configuration after 14 repetitions.

The other shuffle, "overhand," where you hold the deck in one hand and shake the top card into the other repeatedly, would, if perfect, return to the original state if done twice. On first learning that "14 times" thing above, and the subsequent warning that something close to seven shuffles would be best to assure "randomness," I did rifle shuffles of a deck one card at a time and examined the deck's randomness after each. I also came up with a psuedorandom repeatable "realistic" clumsy overhand shuffle: 1. take the top card from the deck, note the number on it, place it at the bottom of the new deck. 2. take off that number of cards from the top, note the number of the bottom card, place them on the new deck. 3. repeat #2 until you can't. This mimics my clumsy shuffle with six or seven shakes of different clumps of cards, but takes quite a lot of repetitions to get the deck away from its original state. As suits don't enter into it, you can divide the deck into red and black with the cards otherwise random and watch how slowly it happens.

--
-Jack

pete...@gmail.com

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Dec 1, 2022, 10:00:13 AM12/1/22
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John and others in this thread would do well to read the
Wikipedia articles on "Random Number Generation" and
"Hardware random number generator". Otherwise this is the
ignorant talking to the ignorant.

Donald Knuth famously said "Anyone who considers arithmetical methods
of producing random digits is, of course, in a state of sin."

Making cryptographically secure random numbers
on a computer is hard. Physical sources of
randomness must be used. This includes stuff like
mouse movements, disk seek times, fun stuff like
lavarand. (Lavarand.com is actually insecure,
since the same bitstream is broadcast to everyone, and
one may assume some people have been recording it since
day one).

There are also electronic methods that produce random data
based on quantum principles, described in the Wiki articles
I listed. You'd think that would solve the problem.

The problem is that physical methods tend to be slow. Data must
be gathered, preferably from multiple sources, mixed together
and whitened to produce an unbiased bit stream.

Since 2011, Intel has included a RDRAND instruction in its processors. This
claims to use a quantum electronic method to produce random numbers.
It is still slow compared to pseudo random number generators.

The question is "Do you trust Intel?". If I was a non-US State actor,
I'd be pretty suspicious. There's reason to believe the USG has messed
with random number generators in software libraries in the past.

pt

Chris Buckley

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Dec 1, 2022, 10:28:34 AM12/1/22
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Any modern (<20 years?) implementation from scratch on 32 bit machines
is likely to be fine. It's easier to use the system RNG than roll
your own and those are fine nowadays, assuming the implementation
handles RNG seeds fine, does a reasonable approach to shuffling, and
doesn't do ridiculous things with multi-deck solitaires like shuffle
the decks separately.

The main problem is that some solitaire implementations have been
around for a long time and date back to 16-bit or even 8-bit days.
Code space was a major concern and they had their own RNGs, which were
often poor, yielding obvious patterns in the results which can be
deadly in Spider. In addition, just adapting those implementations for
32 or 64 bit machines or new operating systems may introduce new bugs
or misfeatures. This ranges from reasonably innocuous problems such
as Microsoft Freecell which until very recently (Windows 11?) only had
32K distinct games, because the RNG seed only had 15 bits, to more
serious problems.

In particular with Spider, if you download the Windows 7 version of
Spider to play on a Windows 10 machine (well-known compatibility
packages exist) as I did, you may eventually notice that you're
playing the same deal more than once. There was one particular deal
that I eventually realized was showing up about once every 30 games in
one time period! The problem seemed to come and go but was quite
annoying.

I would expect AisleRiot to be fine. Enough people have looked at
its open-source code over the years.

Chris

Scott Lurndal

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Dec 1, 2022, 10:36:13 AM12/1/22
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Titus G <no...@nowhere.com> writes:
>On 1/12/22 04:34, Chris Buckley wrote:
>> On 2022-11-30, WolfFan <akwo...@zoho.com> wrote:
>snip
>
>> I've played many thousands of Spider games over the years. It's a
>> very well-balanced optimization game - I enjoy it for the same
>> reasons that I enjoyed the Civ games. It may take a while before you
>> win your first game (especially if you don't allow takebacks), but
>> you can push the optimizations to the point where you are winning
>> over a third of your games (with no takebacks).
>>
>> Watch out for poor implementations - those floating around based on
>> the Windows 7 free version have a remarkably poor RNG. I use
>> SolSuite which I like a lot, but it's Windows only.
>
>I don't understand how there can be somewhat predictable, (or
>"remarkably poor"), random numbers as I had always assumed that
>unpredicability was a subset of randomness and that all random number
>sequences were random.

Generating a truely random number is rather difficult. Most random
number generators are "Pseudo Random Number Generators" (PRNG) which
have repeatable sequences, given the same starting point. So
a lot of care goes into selecting a random starting point (seed), which
is very very hard.

There was a paper back in the mid 90's from an SGI engineer where
they used a video camera on a Indy to periodcally snap an image
of a working lava-lamp and generated the seed from that image.

Today, modern processors have a "true" random number generator
that builds an entropy pool from which random seed number can
be selected. But it takes a long time to generate sufficient
entropy to generate a large number of random values, so they
use the true number as a seed to a PRNG such as:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mersenne_Twister

Scott Lurndal

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Dec 1, 2022, 10:38:43 AM12/1/22
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I liked the pre-computer method with a pencil, closed eyes,
and the random number tables in the CRC math handbook :-)

<snip>

>There are also electronic methods that produce random data
>based on quantum principles, described in the Wiki articles
>I listed. You'd think that would solve the problem.
>
>The problem is that physical methods tend to be slow. Data must
>be gathered, preferably from multiple sources, mixed together
>and whitened to produce an unbiased bit stream.
>
>Since 2011, Intel has included a RDRAND instruction in its processors. This
>claims to use a quantum electronic method to produce random numbers.
>It is still slow compared to pseudo random number generators.

ARM has relatively recently added similar instructions to the
ARMv8 architecture, however they delegate the actual generation
to the SoC vendor who includes the ARMv8 IP in their implementation,
and while I am familiar with how our implementation generates entropy,
I can't make that claim for other vendors using ARM IP.


pete...@gmail.com

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Dec 1, 2022, 10:40:52 AM12/1/22
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There's a huge difference between 'Good enough for a Spider solitaire game',
and 'Good enough for secure communications'.

pt

Scott Lurndal

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Dec 1, 2022, 10:41:16 AM12/1/22
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Jack Bohn <jack....@gmail.com> writes:
>On Thursday, December 1, 2022 at 12:12:15 AM UTC-5, Titus G wrote:
>
>>I am not a gamer but some decades ago wore out a=20
>> few packs of plastic playing cards playing Spider without takebacks.=20
>> As an afterthought. That number of games played sharpened the speed and=
>=20
>> appearance of my shuffling skills which probably developed into a=20
>> routine. So in theory, does that mean that the sequence of cards in a=20
>> shuffled pack after many, many, iterations would become close to=20
>> predictable?=20
>
>As Marting Gardner would say paradoxically in his Mathematical Games column=
>s, shuffling is a skill that depends on the clumsiness of the shuffler.
>
>It can be shown that a perfect rifle shuffle -- divide the deck exactly in =
>half, alternate one card from each half -- will return the deck to its orig=
>inal or "seed" configuration after 14 repetitions.

I believe th