* Posts by Steve Todd

2196 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

Video service Binge On 'broke the internet' but 99pc of users love it

Steve Todd
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Mr O still doesn't understand net neutrality

The objection is to ISPs giving preferential treatment to services that pay them for the privilege. The reason being this discourages new companies and services as they are unable to compete on a level playing field with the established players.

It doesn't matter that, in the short term, consumers like the product. In the long term it's against their interests.

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If we can't fix this printer tonight, the bank's core app will stop working

Steve Todd
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Re: Same thing happened to me...

Reminds me of a company I was working at many years ago where they found a secretary touch-typing her boss's emails from her screen. When asked why she said the laser printer they had given her was broken. The fix? Load it with paper.

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Zombie Moore's Law shows hardware is eating software

Steve Todd
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There's also Altera's version in the form of the Cyclone V SE. You can share memory or talk to the CPU via the AMBA interface.

There's even a cheap(ish) Dev board in the form of the DE0 Nano SOC.

http://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/archive.pl?Language=English&No=941

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Steve Todd
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Re: The software is still there

Talk to nVidia or AMD. Their GPUs are a mix of dedicated hardware and stream processors. No one said hardware could do everything, but there's a lot of performance to be had by offloading the right bits of a task to it.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Nothing wrong with the chips.

@boltar - so you're coding exclusively in assembler and hitting the hardware directly are you? It's the compiler, hardware abstraction layers and library code that slows a modern program down compared to days of yor. All of those are good things in terms of productivity.

Even ripping those out you still have the basic problem that a CPU is designed to execute a stream of instructions, one at a time. There are assorted techniques used to make this as fast as possible, but it's still effectively a sequential process. Hardware is good at tasks that can be either pipelined or run in parallel (or both). If the workload is suitable then hardware can implement it thousands of times faster than the best written code.

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Steve Todd
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Re: I Call BS

You're not getting it. Software will not be going away. What will be happening is that progressively more work will be offloaded to hardware, at least some of which can be soft-configured (which is the whole point of FPGAs). "Patch Tuesday" will contain updated soft configurations as well as traditional code. There's also the matter of the driver stack that connects the software to the hardware.

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Is Tesla telling us the truth over autopilot spat?

Steve Todd
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Re: Tesla does have a weird reputation...

The problem with the Topgear review was that it didn't represent what happened during filming. I've no problem with them saying it caught fire/ran out of charge etc if that's what actually happened on the day, but to misrepresent events isn't on.

I can understand, in part at least, why they don't like electric cars (the G-Wiz is wretched for example) but Tesla are pushing them to the point they compete fairly well with Petrol (usable range, good acceleration and handling, not a track car), and that should have been more accurately portraid.

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FBI overpaid $999,900 to crack San Bernardino iPhone 5c password

Steve Todd
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Re: I'm not sure how he thinks this will work on an iPhone 6

From a hacker's point of view:

https://www.blackhat.com/docs/us-16/materials/us-16-Mandt-Demystifying-The-Secure-Enclave-Processor.pdf

Does that help?

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Steve Todd
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Re: I'm not sure how he thinks this will work on an iPhone 6

I'm not sure where you get some of this from but :

1) the secure enclave is a physical not a virtual processor. It has 4MB of its own flash memory directly on the SoC die and runs its own OS.

2) the details are quite well documented, as are the APIs used to access it. See for example https://www.apple.com/business/docs/iOS_Security_Guide.pdf

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Steve Todd
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Re: I'm not sure how he thinks this will work on an iPhone 6

But the key to the data on the flash is maintained in the secure section of the A7 and higher. Once the secure section decides that the maximum number of attempts are reached (it is a separate CPU with limited connection to the main system) it destroys the key and the data is rendered useless. It doesn't matter how many copies of the data you have, the copies still need the AES key in order to read them.

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Steve Todd
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I'm not sure how he thinks this will work on an iPhone 6

With the iPhone 5 and earlier the AES key and try count are stored on the flash chip. Reloading that chip with a copy will reset the count of tries. On the iPhone 5S and higher (anything with an A7 or newer) the key information and count are stored on a secure area of the CPU chip. Taking an image of the flash memory will have no effect on retry counts or prevent the key from being erased.

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Brave telco giants kill threat of decent internet service in rural North Carolina

Steve Todd
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Re: business perspective

Do you not see the difference between it being unprofitable for a company to provide a service and the company getting laws passed to prevent local residents providing the service for themselves?

Either it's not profitable, in which case the company should have no interest in the area, or it is, in which case they should be providing a decent service.

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VW Dieselgate engineer sings like a canary: Entire design team was in on it – not just a few bad apples, allegedly

Steve Todd
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Re: 376 MPG

The current world record is actually 12,600MPG (US), but that's at a steady 30km/h and the vehicle is highly impractical for daily use.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pac-car_II

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US Congress blew the whistle on tax-dodging Apple, claims Europe

Steve Todd
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Double taxation

That's the reason that companies don't want to repatriate foreign earnings to the US is that they will first have to pay corporate tax on the profits (35% at the moment as I understand it), then any money paid as dividends is also taxed at another 15%. If Congress were to fix that then there would be more pressure from investors to bring money home.

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Tesla driver dies after Model S hits tree

Steve Todd
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He must have come off the road at a hell of a clip

The Tesla S has one of the best ratings for crash impact out there. If the car went off the road, into a tree, sprayed batteries about liberally and caught fire then the driver wasn't likely to have faired any better in a conventional car.

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Steve Todd
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Looking a little deeper

It seems that the car it's self didn't catch fire. What did were the battery modules that had been flung free by the impact.

The second, and unverified fact is that it was a 2013 model without Autopilot fitted.

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Star Trek's Enterprise turns 50 and still no sign of a warp drive. Sigh

Steve Todd
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Reactionless drive?

Even were it possible, a craft powered by such a device still couldn't travel faster than light. If the author understands e=mc^2 they should realise that only by converting a body completely to energy can it reach the speed of light. As the craft approaches the speed of light time dialation effects become apparent. The acceleration experienced by the occupants remains constant, but to an external observer it reduces. As they approach light speed their time slows to zero as does their acceleration.

The whole hyperspace/wormhole thing in SciFi is a plot device to get around this problem.

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Hollywood offers Daniel Craig $150m to (slash wrists) play James Bond

Steve Todd
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MiG fighter?

Try an Areo L39 (Czechoslovakian jet trainer that can be bought comparatively cheaply once the old eastern block fell apart).

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It's OK to fine someone for repeating a historical fact, says Russian Supreme Court

Steve Todd
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Re: Fact-checking, we've heard about it

Even China is getting hacked off with the behaviour of North Korea, as can be seen in their voting in the UN, and North Korea is one of their client states. I wouldn't hold that up as an example (though I agree that the "news" companies are far from neutral).

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If you want to build your own Nvidia-powered self-driving car – or hack one – here's a blueprint

Steve Todd
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Re: Real Programmers...

You do realise that the author of that article declares anyone who doesn't write unstructured FORTRAN on IBM mainframes not to be a real programmer? I doubt you qualify, and neither do 99.9999% of the readership here.

Pascal in this case is a GPU family code name, not a language BTW

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Google's brand new OS could replace Android

Steve Todd
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Re: Lost my interest and lunch at C++

OOP isn't about making things faster, it's about isolating functional blocks from each other. C++ will let you write bad code, but done properly it can produce robust, testable code that isn't much slower than raw C. If you think otherwise you're doing it wrong (and yes, I've seen an awful lot of programmers who claim to understand OOP who don't)

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£1m military drone crashed in Wales after crew disabled anti-crash systems – report

Steve Todd
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Re: GPS ASL

GPS isn't accurate enough for a precision approach. You need a base station station transmitting position corrections (DGPS) for that, or the new Galeleo cluster when they are up and running.

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Russia is planning to use airships as part of a $240bn transport project

Steve Todd
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Helium is a byproduct

From natural gas fields. The shortage is only in the capacity to extract it (and as the price climbs the incentive to extract it increases also).

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Intel overhyping flash-killer XPoint? Shocked, we're totally shocked

Steve Todd
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Re: Specs

You're confusing servers with workstations. Workstations spend most of their lives waiting for users to tell them what to do. Servers can get thousands of requests per second, in which case the time it takes to transfer the requested data from disk to memory is important.

In case you hadn't figured, this is a server class product (read expensive).

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Clinton outphished by Trump

Steve Todd
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Afghanistan was a Bush initiative

As a response to 9/11 lest we forget (and for reasons that aren't very obvious, Saudi Arabia had far more to do with backing the attacks). Having made the mess (partly due to equipping the Talliban in the first place) at least the US committed to clearing it up.

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Seagate inflates 12TB helium drives, floats them to IT bods to test

Steve Todd
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Re: How big is the case it comes with?

I'm not sure where you got the idea of helium embrittlement from, I can't find any reference to it myself (to the contrary, even when ion beam implantation of helium is used there doesn't seem to be a problem).

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Don't want to vote for Clinton or Trump? How about this woman who says Wi-Fi melts kids' brains?

Steve Todd
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Re: Members of the the House of Lords agree

Except that Greenfield isn't talking about WiFi being unsafe, she's talking about large amounts of Internet usage by kids, and her colleagues don't agree with her

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3196340/Baroness-Susan-Greenfield-slammed-Oxford-colleagues-misleading-unfounded-claims-internet-damages-children-s-brains.html

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Windows 10 still free, even the Anniversary Update, if you're crass

Steve Todd
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Re: Missing option in survey @alain williams

"How does the screen narration work in your superior OS?"

Since its been part of OS X since version 10.4 (VoiceOver, which is also included in iOS), and it hooks in to Braille displays at a system level also, then apparently quite well.

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Tesla's splitting with sensor supplier

Steve Todd
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Re: Getting Distracted

The supercharger network is still a bit thin in the UK, but an 80% charge in the time it takes you to pop in to a service station for a coffee and to use the loo isn't much of a limitation.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Getting Distracted

The other point is that, as volumes ramp up, the cost per kWh of the battery packs falls. In 10-12 years a replacement pack will be far cheaper than it is today.

Your petrol car also contains consumable parts (oil, spark plugs, filters, belts etc) which are going to add up to rather more in maintainance over that period.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Getting Distracted

How often do you drive more than 250 miles in a day? When you do, do you stop off for a coffee break?

People make far too much about the range limits of these cars. I have a friend with a BMW i3, with a range of around 90 miles on a charge. He manages quite well even with that, and he makes a long journey twice a week with it.

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Seminal adventure game The Hobbit finally ported to the Dragon 64

Steve Todd
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Re: TI99/4A

The 99/4A was intentionally hamstrung by TI marketing. They didn't want it to compete with their lucrative mini market, so they gave the CPU (which had a fair bit of grunt for the day) a tiny amount of fast RAM and made if request the rest from the video chip. The result was like slow motion.

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Tesla's Model S autonomous mode may have saved a life

Steve Todd
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FAIL

Re: PR stunt

Someone stepping out in front of you, at night, dressed in dark clothes and not at a crossing point counts as "too fast for the conditions" now does it? The glare was only a distraction here, not what would have been the major cause of the accident (stupidity on the part of the pedestrian).

The car was physically able to stop inside of the required distance. The driver failed to spot the issue partially because of distractions, but mainly because the pedestrian seems to have gone out of their way to make themselves hard to spot.

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MPs tell BT: Lay more fibre or face split with Openreach

Steve Todd
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Re: Apples vs Oranges

In the same way that you (normally) don't have enough cash to pay for a new house or car. The company borrows money for capital projects that will be repaid over 10 or more years. That way we get our shiney new network/house/car now and it is paid down over its expected life span.

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Steve Todd
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Apples vs Oranges

£10bn over 10 years (of which £3bn was in broadband) works out at about £1bn per year. They made £2.664bn in ONE year, so they are investing 37% of their income, not making a loss.

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Softbank promises stronger ARM: Greater overseas reach and double the UK jobs

Steve Todd
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Re: ARM chips in iPads?

The standard ARM licence lets customers bolt together their standard bits of IP, and combine them with third party designs (you want a PowerVR graphics core rather than a Mali, certainly sir). The architecture licence lets them roll their own cores, with changes to things like the execution units (for higher IPC) or the memory manager (for higher throughput).

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Steve Todd
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ARM chips in iPads?

Apple have an ARM architecture licence. They design their own ARM compatible chips. They run the same ARM instruction set as the official designs, but otherwise contain no ARM IP. They aren't the only ones to do this either (Qualcomm and nVidia do likewise).

That's part of the genius of the ARM strategy, they'll sell you pre-rolled designs for anything from an M0 micro controller through to a fully fledged A73 64 bit application processor, or you can buy off the shelf chips from their partner companies. If you're working in huge volumes though you can design your own from the ground up, save a little on the licensing costs and (possibly) create a more efficient design.

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Capita redundo staff: We are free at last, free at last… at the end of this month

Steve Todd
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Has no one figured the correlation

Between crap telephone support and customers trying other routes? Provide crap support and surprise surprise people will stop wasting their time trying to use it.

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A journey down the UK's '3D Tongue' into its mini industrial revolution

Steve Todd
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Re: "take weeks rather than months or years to build an aircraft, claims BAE Systems."

You're confusing design with manufacture, and the f-35 was designed using more traditional methods. The bulkheads were originally machined from titanium blocks for example. The modern approach would be to create them from laser sintered titanium powder, which is a very much faster process.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Failed Premise

Your failure to understand how your home items were made is showing. Most were made from parts that were original cast or molded, then were machine finished with traditional subtractive methods. Your car for example has many cast parts that are then precision machined to their final shape. This saves money over machining them from a solid block, but costs rather more in tooling and setup costs and produces weaker parts.

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Loose wrists shake chips: Your wrist-job could be a PIN-snitch

Steve Todd
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Not

If I wear my watch on my left wrist and type PIN numbers with my right hand they can't. I suspect most people don't wear their watch on their dominant side.

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Can Ireland's grid green satisfy Facebook and Apple?

Steve Todd
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Re: Oh dear

Storage is an issue. To store energy on the scale of electricity generation to replace it for any significant period isn't practical. Pumped water storage is good for a few hours at most. Zero or low winds can last for a week or more in Europe.

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Plymouth 'animal rights' teen admits Florida SeaWorld cyber attack

Steve Todd
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@ukgnome

So you went in completely open minded and gave an objective opinion then?

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'I urge everyone to fight back' – woman wins $10k from Microsoft over Windows 10 misery

Steve Todd
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@dwonk786

I think you'll find that Apple will tell you about new versions of their OS, but won't force you to install the upgrade. THATS the way that MS should be working, a simple offer of the new version and a graceful acceptance if it is declined.

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Special delivery: Activists drop 100,000 net neutrality complaints on FCC

Steve Todd
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Re: That's an easy one...

[Harvard] isn't an ISP. They are not breaking net neutrality by providing a free service any more than Google or El Reg are. The local ISP would be breaking net neutrality if they only provided a subset of the net for free, rather than an alowance. What if, for example Oxford or the Sorbon decide to offer free courses also. The locals wouldn't be able to access them under the scheme you describe, even though they may be better for some if not all users.

Also just because something is held up to be good by TPTB doesn't mean that Internet users should be forced to take it. The point of neutrality is to let the users decide what they want rather than forcing particular systems on them.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Be careful...

So speaks someone who has completely failed to understand net neutrality. ISPs are allowed to manage traffic for quality of service reasons, but can't prioritise one service above another based on payment by the originator. They can't for example charge Netflix to give priority to their video over other video streaming services, but they can slow down all video steaming if the network is congested.

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Fujitsu picks 64-bit ARM for Japan's monster 1,000-PFLOPS super

Steve Todd
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Re: This is why AMD and NVidia are making ARM chips

@bazza - you are joking about Itanium right? It was always going to be a technical disaster. It relied on static compile time organisation of the code rather than dynamic run time out of order execution, so it couldn't adapt to changes. It emulated the x86 (badly), and took a bunch of silicon to do that. It was very late, and never got the critical mass required to make a modern CPU profitable. All in all Intel had holes in their heads when they came up with the idea.

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Apple and Android wearables: What iceberg? It’s full steam ahead!

Steve Todd
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Is that the sound of an ax being ground?

One could be mistaken for thinking that Mr Orlowski has something in for smart watches, rather than just hit whoring that he usually does. He personally can't see the point in them, but apparently there are millions of people who can. If you don't want something then don't buy it. Don't think yours is the only opinion though, and don't try to put down those who think otherwise. If the manufacturer makes money out of their product then enough people have voted that they disagree with you.

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Net neutrality victory: DC court backs full rules

Steve Todd
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@ac - one sock puppet quoting another

The problem is that cable companies aren't investing in expanding their networks to large areas of the US, and that their service levels are poor for the areas that they do serve. Some tame accademic claiming that the cable companies offer better value triple pay packages doesn't change that, and isn't useful if you only want broadband. Some service for less than the cost of an (expensive) triple pay package is better than no service at all.

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Steve Todd
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@donn bly - you seem quick to forget

That municipal broadband schemes are a reaction to the cable companies failures to provide the coverage and service levels that they promised when they were granted their licences. Without incentive to compete and improve their service they have rested on their laurels while most of the first world passed them by.

Put another way, they demonstrably weren't investing beforehand, so any argument that municipal broadband stops them investing is purest bullsh*t.

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