* Posts by Steve Todd

2049 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

PEAK TECHNOLOGY? Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple stocks hit the deck

Steve Todd
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Re: Bonus - You lighter when you walk on glass.

Erm, nothing to do with tax avoidance (and if you are going to play AC then you can't claim to have predicted it, we can't match you to a claim), ALL stocks are down due to uncertainties in the international markets, no matter how much tax the companies have (or have not) been paying.

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Apple: Samsung ripped off our phone patent! USPTO: What patent?

Steve Todd
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It was shown in the form of an early prototype, and it had a slide out keyboard lest we forget.

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Steve Todd
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That story was thoroughly debunked, by Android sites even. It was shown (in an incomplete state) in February 2007, after the iPhone was announced.

http://androidcommunity.com/who-was-really-first-apple-vs-samsung-story-truly-debunked-20110420/

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Steve Todd
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Re: Im sure that

There were other touch screen smart phones of the same era that managed to look far less like the iPhone. It wasn't like you couldn't build a smart phone without infringing on the Apple design, but Samsung seemed in particular to be keen to get as close as they could without actually putting an Apple logo on them. The design patent isn't just rounded corners, it's proportions, angles, bezel widths etc. your P900 wouldn't have fallen foul of the Apple Design Patent if it had come after it.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Im sure that

If that was all the design patent said then you'd have a point. I had an XDA myself, but it looked nothing like the iPhone. The point of a design patent is to prevent your competitors from selling items that look near identical to your own (trade dress here in the UK). Prior to the iPhone Samsung phones looked nothing like it. Suddenly after the iPhone was released they looked very similar. Over time they've become more distinct, but it was a hurried job with a photocopier for the early devices.

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Virtually no one is using Apple Music even though it is utterly free

Steve Todd
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Re: @Richard Taylor

"Most people" means that it's not easy and you need good kit in order to do it reliably. It's certainly not something you can do "easily"

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Steve Todd
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@Richard Taylor

I'd be highly surprised if you could "easily distinguish the difference between their streaming and a CD", it's encoded using MP4/AAC @ 256K VBR, which double blind testing has shown that most folk can't tell the difference between this and a CD. You may have better kit for playing back CDs, but the same amp & speakers with an ABX switch fed by your CD player and a HiFi grade DAC may prove more instructive.

I'm using both Spotify and Apple Music at the moment. To my ear, and using a Marantz streaming music player, it produces better sound than Spotify @320K.

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Hacklands introducing geeks to something called 'outdoors'

Steve Todd
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Not a new idea

There's this for example https://www.emfcamp.org

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Bloke cuffed for blowing low-flying camera drone to bits with shotgun

Steve Todd
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Re: Yeah...

The drone was looking under eves and similar areas which wouldn't be visible to the above. Photographing someone on their private property, from within the property boundaries and without permission is definitely covered by U.S. Case law.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Gits exhibiting loathsome behaviour

If they flew within 500ft of your farm, and the farm isn't within the approach path of a scheduled aerodrome (not a private strip), then report it to the CAA, not the MOT (who won't have a clue).

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Steve Todd
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Re: Yeah...

1) it was hovering over it, at low altitude, not passing over it. Right to privacy?

2) it had done the same thing over a number of other local houses first. It was violating their right to privacy too.

3) he fired bird shot at it. By the time that comes down it doesn't present a risk of injury to people in the street.

4) it was a suburban area, not a packed urban one.

I'm tending to side with the shooter here, and that's not something I'd normally do.

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Ballmer's billion-dollar blunders: When he gambled Microsoft's money and lost

Steve Todd
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Re: Hmmm @Mage

Unless your program is a bill paying package then it doesn't pay the bills. It may provide employment for programmers, and thus allow them to pay their bills, but that's not an aim of most businesses. They want software to solve their business problems that is reliable, easy to use, cheap to maintain and easy to extend. VB6 code is getting progressively less reliable, harder to maintain and more difficult to extend. There's a shed load of old COBOL code out there with the same problems.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Hmmm @Mage

First of all provide a link to back that assertion up.

Secondly the reason that VB had to change was technical, not marketing. It was heavily tied in to COM, and Microsoft were moving away from COM (thank god).

Thirdly more complex VB code was full of hacks. Anything more than trivial changes to the language would have broken those hacks. It had already become distorted because of the ways that Microsoft chose to extend it in previous versions (never gaining full object orientation for example, only ever supporting interface inheritance). Those distortions and inconsistencies couldn't be fixed in an evolutionary way. It had evolved into the mess it was.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Hmmm @Mage

I've developed commercial VB code since VB2. I know it was broken, where it was broken and how it was broken (inconstant starting at 0 or 1 anyone? That's just a starter.). I still keep getting agents calling me asking if I'd be interested in a VB6 role, so I know there's still VB6 code out there. In my experience for the most part such code is badly written and could have been created in VB3 for all the use the developers made of newer features. That code seriously needs replacing, and keeping it on life support does no one any favours.

When it came to .NET MS finally sorted the language out and made it an equal partner in terms of its capabilities to C#. There's a jump in thinking required, but finally you can do things like multithreading without hacks and stability issues.

Now can anyone here give me a solid, reasoned argument as to why VB6 should have been left in its original form that doesn't boil down to "I was used to it", or "we've got all this legacy code"?

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Steve Todd
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Re: Hmmm @Mage

To be fair, VB6 as a language was very broken by that point. They needed to fix it, and doing so was always going to break compatibility.

Backwards compatibility has always been both a strength and a weakness of MS. They were maintaining behaviour in XP and beyond that dated back to bugs in DOS. There comes a time when you have to say "this is too broken, we're going to depreciate it in the next version and remove it from the next". The trick is to do this at a speed that the developers and users can handle.

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Silicon Valley sides with Samsung in anti-Apple patent war

Steve Todd
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Someone else who didn't understand the reasons behind things. Samsung tried to ban Apple products based on a patent that it had committed to a standard under FRAND terns. One of the rules of FRAND is that you're not allowed to use FRAND encumbered patents to block a competitor. You're allowed to sue them for monitory damages, but not block sales. THATS why Sansung's injunction was blocked, otherwise a bad precedent would have been set for everyone else.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Apple vs Samsung

Yes they do design CPUs. They have an Architectural licence from ARM. They create designs that conform to ARMs instruction set designs, but they are unrelated to the ARM hardware designs. Remember they were the first to market with a 64 bit ARM 8 compatible CPU, and their design runs faster, clock for clock, than ARMs own A50 series. They did the same with the 32 bit Swift core that came before that, and Qualcomm do the same kind of thing for their CPUs.

Don't forget BTW, Apple bought the chip design co PA Semi some time back. They have plenty of in-house experience to do that kind of work, along with power-gating to improve battery life.

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Steve Todd
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Re: I do believe

Patents have a fixed life span. The basic patents that Mercedes owned are long since expired, and yes, early competitors had all sorts of weird and wonderful steering methods.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Apple vs Samsung

Apple currently spends just shy of $2bn/quarter on R&D. They design their own CPUs and have patents for battery, screen and aerial technologies among others that they have developed in house. Obviously they spend next to nothing on R&D.

Love them or hate them, Samsung were found guilty of copying Apple's designs, and even wrote a manual to that effect. How much Apple should receive for that is up for argument but that major copying happened is an established fact. Samsung also have a long track history of doing precisely this with other companies.

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Swimming in smartmobe profit? Let us guess, you're Tim Cook?

Steve Todd
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It's a misquote

What they actually said was "We don't know how to build a sub-$500 computer that is not a piece of junk", in other words they knew perfectly well how to do it but didn't like the compromises they'd have to make in the specs/design.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Apple iPhone 6 is a budget phone by today's specs!

Except that a crude reading of the specs fails to spot that it's substantially quicker than most of the Android competition at things that users want to do (like web browsing). The CPU clock may not look fast, but it's a custom 64 bit design that clock-for-clock is much quicker than the chip in the HTC for example. You'll also find the GPU punches above its weight, and is better integrated with the OS so that you can wring more out of what you have.

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This whopping 16-bit computer processor is being built by hand, transistor by transistor

Steve Todd
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PDP 8 anyone

The original version of that was all discrete transistors and diodes, no ICs in sight. Plus it had lots of blinkenlights.

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Verizon promised to wire up NYC with fiber... and failed miserably – audit

Steve Todd
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Re: Can It Really Do That?

Companies selling their products online?

Design companies delivering to their clients electronically?

Web developers?

Employees working remotely?

There's just a few examples of where broadband creates economic development for the middle-classes.

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Using leather in 'leccy cars is 'unTesla', rages vegan shareholder

Steve Todd
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Unless your grid is entirely coal based

You're still better off with electric power. Plus as your grid improves so does your electric car. IC powered cars only ever get worse as they age.

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Xiaomi greets MediaTek with a handshake, Qualcomm feels awkward

Steve Todd
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Re: I can't wait

You only have a 1 gig data allowance? That's a bit on the mean side. Saying that mobile data usage tends to be very bursty. You want fast response to your requests, then to power your radio down. Most folks these days will struggle to get through more than a couple of gig of data in a month.

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Mondeo Man turns into mutant electrical beauty: Ford Mondeo Hybrid

Steve Todd
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No government grant for hybrids. You need a pure electric or plug in hybrid for that.

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Tesla's battery put in the shade by current and cheaper kit

Steve Todd
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Re: Back of an envelope calculations

What kind of house do you live in where 300kg on a wall is a structural integrity issue? On plasterboard partition walls, yes. On structural brick? They can support the roof and upper floors without problems. 300kg, distributed allong a wall, isn't a serious load.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Back of an envelope calculations

There are a number of good reasons why you"d not want to use lead acid (beyond just the weight).

Firstly, if you want to get more than a few hundred cycles out of them you need to limit yourself to not more than 50% discharge (30% if you want 10 years life out of them).

Secondly you lose power during charging lead acid (ignoring the losses in the charger circuitry) to the tune of about 15%

Thirdly you need a three stage charging circuit, and for the top 20% you need to trickle charge otherwise you knacker your battery life (as does NOT giving it a 100% charge).

The cost of a lead acid system may be lower in the short term, but it's more over the 10+ year lifespan we're talking about and produces some fairly noxious ewaste into the bargain.

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SpaceX Dragon crew capsule in 'CHUTE ABORT drama – don't panic, no one died

Steve Todd
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Re: Not on Shuttle-

It was one of the extra safety measures they brought in following the Challenger disaster IIRC. It was doubtful that it would do any good, but the idea was not to smash the 'nauts against the side of the airlock as the wind caught them on the way out.

As the solid boosters and external fuel tanks could all be jettisoned I think the idea was that the shuttle was the emergency escape capsule. That didn't work out too well though.

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Tesla Powerwall: not much cheaper and also a bit wimpier than existing batteries

Steve Todd
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Re: Not adding up

You really want 72V+ of high current DC power open to the air in your house? A tad dangerous don't you think? Conversely have you worked out the current you'd need to deliver 2kW @ 12V, then the thickness of the wire needed to carry this?

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Steve Todd
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Re: Not adding up

Checking online, yes 115Ah is achievable for that kind of price. There are still three issues I can see. Firstly cooling. You can't just strap them into a closed box the exact size of the pack, plus you need management electronics. Secondly lifespan. The cells I looked at all seem to be rated at about 500 cycles, to get 10 years or more use out of them you need to be quite conservative over your use and underrate the capacity (use at least 6 or 7 of them). Thirdly weight. They were over 25kg each, by the time you get 6 strapped together that's going to need some fairly hefty brackets to hold them on the wall.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Not adding up

I'd check your math there. Five lead acid batteries giving 7kWh would work out at 116Ah @12V. A regular car battery is something like 40-50Ah

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WHY can't Silicon Valley create breakable non-breakable encryption, cry US politicians

Steve Todd
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Re: COINTELPRO

AES was the result of an international competition and international scrutiny. The winning algorithm was created by Belgian cryptographers.

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Citroën C4 Cactus BlueHDi: A funky urban crossover

Steve Todd
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Re: On mirrors on the left and the right

You need side mirrors on both sides for reverse parking to start with (seeing how much clearance you have on each side), nothing to do with left/right hand drive. Producing versions of a model for both markets (and right hand drive isn't unique to the UK, Japan and Australia are both right hand drive to start with, and Japan in particular has a pretty successful automobile industry) is problematic. We have a Skoda (VW underpinnings) that has a difficult to use hand break because of conversion.

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RADIOACTIVE WWII aircraft carrier FOUND OFF CALIFORNIA

Steve Todd
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In California?

In deep water off the coast does not equate to "In Califonia"

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Easy ... easy ... Aw CRAP! SpaceX rocket ALMOST lands on ocean hoverbase

Steve Todd
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Re: Meh

The first stage must land about 200 miles down range of the launch site (it both lifts the second stage upward and imparts some of the orbital velocity). Because returning back to the launch site would need too much fuel mass (velocity would need to be reversed and then it would need to be flown back along its track) and they launch from the coast (to avoid dropping exploding rockets on enhabited areas) the barge was the solution.

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Kia Soul EV: Nifty Korean 'leccy hatchback has heart and Seoul

Steve Todd
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Re: CO2? @hiker - math error

Without checking your other numbers, you get 115.7g/mile or 72.3g/km @3.5 miles/kW. You'll be hard pressed to match 72.3 using an IC engine, and you don't deposit other pollutants in the middle of urban areas while driving either.

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Google research bods hope to LICK BATTERY life limits – report

Steve Todd
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Re: Another vapour-ware

You need to work in Wh not mAh, otherwise comparison is meaningless. Your NiMh cell is 1.2V nominal, so stores 3.6Wh max. A lithium 18650 cell can easily store 3000mAh, but at a nominal 3.7V, so 11.1Wh, or a little over 3 times the storage capacity.

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Embarcadero’s cross-platform XE8 RAD Studio targets iOS 8, IoT

Steve Todd
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Re: were't even close to C++ performance

No, the compiler option is to skip array bounds checking. This makes a small improvement to performance (at the cost of adding risk) and is something you can do in Delphi also. What you can't do is force VB to use raw memory arrays, the lack of which is where the real overhead is.

I used to make a living programming VB (every version since VB3) and can guarantee that if you needed raw performance then VB was not the answer. It was however fast enough for a lot of work, and the visual design GUI was very productive which is what made it useful.

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Steve Todd
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Re: were't even close to C++ performance

That's a bit of a pointless distinction if most computationally heavy work is using arrays and you can't force the VB compiler to give you fast arrays. The link you give doesn't help your case BTW, if you work your way past all the compiler switch info you find this quote : "At The Mandelbrot Set (International) Limited (TMS), when we really need speed-and after we've exhausted all the algorithmic alternatives-we turn to the C compiler.", so they admit that VB isn't as fast as C by a noticeable fraction.

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Steve Todd
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Re: were't even close to C++ performance

Until you reach Visual Studio .NET the backend compiler is nowhere near the same. In .NET it is, but it's running on a virtual processor so isn't a native binary or running at binary speed. Performance proof? How about this http://www.sythe.org/programming-general/383073-benchmark-test-vb6-vc6-delphi6-java.html

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Steve Todd
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Re: native code compilation in VB

I'm not sure I see your point here. Most high level languages rely on library code, even or especially C/C++. Statically linking that code into the source is the most portable option, but takes most space. Putting it in a DLL saves space if you have multiple applications/DLLs that use it. VB goes a step further and requires the library(s) to be registered under COM in order to work. So unless the VB RTL has been installed a VB EXE will fail, and even then it's not even close to C++ performance.

A Delphi program on the other hand can run without installing stuff and at close to C++ performance, but with the ease of VB style visual development. The fact that it can work in a dynamically linked environment is a bonus.

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Steve Todd
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Re: native code compilation in VB

Not really true either. VB 5 and onwards may have been able to compile, but they still needed the support of a run-time library and the EXEs were't even close to C++ performance. Delphi could generate stand-alone EXEs with close to the same levels of performance.

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Popular crypto app uses single-byte XOR and nowt else, hacker says

Steve Todd
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Re: Get a grip!

AES is a standard part of the ARMv8-A instruction set. Before then it was non-standard and implemented by only some manufacturers.

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Microsoft dumps ARM for Atom with cut-price Surface 3 fondleslab

Steve Todd
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Re: So close..

Erm, I think that was the point. If they were to throw in the pen and keyboard for that price he'd be interested. Get it?

Since PC World are flogging convertable machines (full keyboard, detachable tablet/screen) for £250 then I think he's on the high side.

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Mono Magic: Photography, Breaking Bad style

Steve Todd
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Re: Foveon

You're assuming that Foveon sensors are perfect also. They are not. There's a lot of crosstalk between Red, Green and Blue. The blue channel contains large red and green components. Green contains a lot of red etc. It's this crosstalk, plus manufacturing variations, that cause the colour inaccuracies that I was talking about.

Modern CFAs deliberately introduce some crosstalk between adjacent colours themselves, so each photodiode gives more spacial information, plus the filters are formed into lenses to increase the amount of light hitting each photodiode. The result is higher light sensitivity and a more predictable colour response than Foveon types.

Use your Sigma and be happy, just remember that there are reasons that most of the photographic world uses CFAs and are happy with them. (And no, I don't work for a CFA manufacturer, nor any photographic company. Nor do I employ other accounts for down/up voting)

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Steve Todd
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Re: Foveon

In photography there's no arguing against someone who says "I like it". It's a personal preference and you can't say someone doesn't have it. What you can do is to point out when their reasons given for liking something are incorrect. I've never come across colour Moire patterns on a conventional DSLR, but far more objectionable are chromatic aberrations and lens distortion. Both of those can be corrected out by a decent RAW converter, but the only converter available for Sigma Foveon cameras is lacking in those facilities, is slow and badly written.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Foveon

Firstly that's a 180 degree about face in your position, you claimed that Foveon sensors made all the difference between film and digital.

Secondly he IS wrong. Take a digital image, add the right contrast, saturation and curves, add grain effect noise and you'd be hard pushed to spot the difference between film and digital. You can take sublime photos on a cell phone, never mind a modern DSLR or film camera.

Thirdly the lack of an anti-alias filter is a cheat in any analogue to digital conversion (sound, images or whatever) as any detail above 1/2 the sampling frequency will produce false artefacts. Go look up Nyquist's limit, this explains the problem. The lack of the filter produces false lines and repeats when you get close to or above the limit on the Sigma. You don't get blotchy colour, but it's still wrong.

Distortions and noise are easy to add. Not so much to remove. A good camera system concentrates on getting as close to perfect as possible, and lets you do what you want with the images afterwards. There are many great photographers of the past who relied on the printing process and what they added there to lift their work above the ordinary. Digital makes this faster and easier.

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Steve Todd
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Re: It is techno-Luddism

@Nigel

Unless you like the smell of the chemicals (which I found moderately unpleasant) and have the space for a dedicated darkroom then you're better off learning how to use RAW format on a DSLR (or on of the better bridge cameras). This gives you full control over converting the data from the sensor into a displayable image with nothing needed but a PC.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Foveon

I started using film cameras over 35 years ago. I've used medium format and 35mm, B&W (which I did my own darkroom work for) and colour. I've been involved in digital photography since the days of the Kodak DC1, have had a DSLR since the Cannon 20D and have seen and compared Foveon images with conventional Bayer. Foveon sensors still need an anti-aliasing filter to prevent Moiré effects, but look less ugly than colour Moiré that you get from Bayer so Sigma cheat and don't use one. The result is a sharp looking image (with Moiré if you look) but poor colour discrimination (it tends to confuse reds and orange for example). Reduce the size of a Bayer image by about 20-30% along an axis (with sharpening) and it looks at least as good, and you still have more pixels.

The only manufacturer who tried Foveon (Sigma) seems to have given up the battle (last updated over 2 years ago IIRC), and their cameras were slow, clunky and unable to handle above 400 ISO equivalent.

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