* Posts by Simon Harris

1214 posts • joined 1 Mar 2007

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Google turns creepy, predictive search tech up to 11 in Chrome OS beta

Simon Harris
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Facepalm

"apps you most often use right "

What about the apps I most often use wrong?

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NASA: We're gonna rip up an ASTEROID and make it ORBIT the MOON

Simon Harris
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big fleas have little fleas...

For their next trick will NASA be placing a smaller rock in a stable orbit around the boulder?

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SCARESTEROID of the week to miss Earth on Friday

Simon Harris
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Pint

I would hope prepping involves numerous trips to the off-licence.

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Mature mainframe madness prints Mandlebrot fractal in TWELVE MINUTES

Simon Harris
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Re: The 6502 had a decimal mode

Just about every usual description of a CPU will say the 6502 is an 8 bit processor.

While the 6502 did have a BCD mode, it only affected two instructions ADC and SBC (add/subtract with carry) - things like INC and . Many other CPUs (e.g. 6800, 6809, 8080, 80x86, Z80) have a 'decimal adjust accumulator' (DAA) type instruction where, if you want to do BCD arithmetic, you do it in normal binary mode and then do a 'DAA' to fix up the BCD result and carry/overflow flags.

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Simon Harris
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Re: Did this....

You did it in BASIC?

I did it in 6502 assembly code on my Atom, sending the output directly to an Epson LX80, with different grey scales representing different divergence rates to infinity, leaving it chuntering away overnight and the next day, and then reassembling the pages to make poster sized Mandelbrot and Julia set images.

Did it again a few years later in 386/387 assembly code, and what used to take all night to create one image ran as an animation with changing Julia set parameters.

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Scientists splice mammoth genes into unsuspecting elephant

Simon Harris
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Re: I'm thinking that a mammoth is itself

"the exploding mammoth population"

I don't think you're supposed to set fire to the methane coming out of them!

Hopefully not the back end of a mammoth -------------------------->

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Taylor Swift snaps up EVEN MORE pr0n domain names

Simon Harris
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There ought to be a rule...

If you're going to buy up a .porn domain, you should damn well put some porn on it!

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AUTOPILOT: Musk promises Tesla owners a HANDS-OFF hands-on

Simon Harris
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Re: A.I. is hard

True - if every car was completely automatic and pedestrians only ever crossed roads at designated crossings and at the correct times, cars would not need to be very intelligent.

The problem is the real world doesn't behave like that, so you need sufficient intelligence to cope with pedestrians randomly in the way, other drivers doing unexpected things, roadworks and the myriad of other things that destroy the order of the system.

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Simon Harris
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Re: What's the big breakthrough here?

steering between the white lines...

Does the car do a little shimmy when you get to the zig-zags at the sides of pedestrian crossings?

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Simon Harris
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"When you wake up... you feel like you are driving a new car."

The early morning commute probably isn't the best time to discover the user interface has changed overnight and all the controls have moved around!

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Woman caught on CCTV performing drunken BJ blew right to privacy

Simon Harris
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Re: Good

So, it might be a data protection violation to show it on "CCTV: Caught on Camera", as some posters have suggested, but it might be fine to show it on Crimewatch.

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The storage is alive? Flash lives longer than expected – report

Simon Harris
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Spinning rust.

Out of curiosity, how does this endurance compare with a traditional hard drive?

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Osbo: Choose a f*cking IoT fridge. Choose spirit-crushing driverless cars

Simon Harris
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Re: I actually do have two fridges.

You could even program it to tell you whether it goes out when the door is shut.

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Simon Harris
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"control both fridges from the same mobile phone"

I've got a fridge and a separate little freezer.

Do they need remotely controlling from my phone? Nope - once they're plugged in they just get on with their jobs of keeping things cold for me without needing any intervention.

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Improved Apple Watches won't get more expensive? Hmmm

Simon Harris
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"That actual computation isn't directly affecting your quality of life - what you do with that computation might do... but not by a factor of a squillion."

The ability to do computations fast enough that you can do 2D FFTs in real time in an MRI scanner might affect your life if it allows a life-threatening condition to be found and treated in time. Some might say that avoiding a premature death makes you a squillion times better off.

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BBC gives naked computers to kids (hmm, code for something?)

Simon Harris
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Re: Coding? Fine... But FFS teach them Linux first

How does teaching them Linux help if the system they're using (and it looks a pretty basic system) may well not have nearly enough memory to hold the kernel? Remember, we're talking about a cheap microcontroller here to sense buttons, light LEDs, and possibly interface to other hardware experiments.

As far as teaching them to fish goes, Linux here might be like trying to cast trawling nets off the side of a pedalo.

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Simon Harris
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Re: Still too abstracted and complex to be really useful

Possibly the ARM microcontroller wouldn't be that much cheaper than a PIC.

I'm not sure the starting kids out by learning the PIC architecture and instruction set is such a good idea (I've done it, but only because I've needed it for particular projects) - there are so many different microcontrollers that abstracting such things as programmable timers, IO ports, etc. is a better idea so they will get a general idea of how software can be used to control hardware than exactly how it is implemented on one type of processor. Of course, it doesn't stop the keen ones from delving into the hardware if they want.

If a high level language is available, it seems to make sense to use it rather than assembly code - how many kids will have the patience, for example, to write their own long division or multiplication subroutines instead of having it already there in the compiler?

Can someone tell me which widely used high level languages cannot do boolean logic - just about every one I have ever used does.

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Simon Harris
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It could well be that with a PI, giving away a million of them a year is not doable, but giving away a million of these might be.

Sure, the PI is a more capable computer in that it has enough connectivity to do video, ethernet, USB and sound straight out of the box - it's this connectivity that probably pushes it outside of the budget for the programme. This machine seems to focus more on direct hardware control (viz, the two buttons and grid of LEDs built in - although as we've only seen a prototype, who knows what we'll end up with!), which would require daughter-boards on the PI pushing the budget further out of reach, assuming you're not going to build them yourself.

When I was 11 (this was in 1976), I had an electronics set for Christmas - this just had 2 transistors, a handful of resistors and capacitors, lightbulb, LDR and piezoelectric earpiece, and came with instructions for about 15 or so projects - of course I outgrew this and extended it and by 13 I was soldering together digital logic and at 15 had my first computer. The point is, something simple can spark an interest in a subject - it's a starting point, not the whole journey.

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Simon Harris
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Host computer.

As has been mentioned, one major difference between this initiative and the original BBC computer is the reliance on a host computer to do the programming.

I'm not sure what desktop/laptop facilities the average 11 year old has available full time, but a lot seem to have Android or i-things these days - I wonder if the project developers could produce a version of the programming tools for tablets and phones, and have a bootstrap loader to pull in the code to Flash ROM, possibly over BlueTooth, to enable kids to tinker with their boards wherever they are.

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Simon Harris
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Re: I don't see the purpose of this

I think the point is not so much pure programming (which could, as you say, be done solely on the host computer), as it is programming devices and teaching how they can interact with the physical world.

If students can see that the same programming languages and methods can be used to program the desktop (or laptop) computer as can be used to program something that responds to button presses and other sensors, switches lights on and off, etc. then it gets them used to the idea that computers may be at the centre of many everyday objects that they may not have thought of as being computerised before, and are not necessarily boxes with screens, keyboards, etc.

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Timeout, Time Lords: ICANN says there is only one kind of doctor

Simon Harris
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Re: Bah!

You may want to check they haven't read Henry VI part 2 before you do that.

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Simon Harris
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Re: It's paramount to keep spin doctors out

Spin doctors could have their own 'doctor' TLD, but encoded in ROT13.

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Simon Harris
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Meh

Re: It could have been .MD, .Surgeon, .Physician

"And Phds in other fields call themselves Dr in academic environments."

I''l call myself Dr. in whichever environment I want to, thank you very much!

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Simon Harris
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Alternatively...

Can we have a .PhD TLD to separate the doctors from the 'doctors'?

Just to confuse people, I'm not a medical doctor, but have a doctorate from a medical school.

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Simon Harris
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Mushroom

Re: "legitimate medical practitioners"

It seems

No.doctor

Is acceptable if you read the book, but not if you watch the movie.

It wouldn't be James Bond without a big explosion ------>

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Forget viruses: Evil USB drive 'fries laptops with a power surge'

Simon Harris
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"Mains lead, USB plug. Simple."

A rewired laptop 'brick' power supply might be an easier root to blow up someone's computer - and easier to socially engineer if you're going to go the mains lead route, particularly if you know your mark's computer and can just surreptitiously swap PSUs when they're not looking.

If course, if it's a new Macbook, the PSU is a USB device so your idea's not far off the mark!

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Simon Harris
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Re: Like Unicorns and Fairies

"I have yet to come across a USB stick ...or been given one at a trade show."

You must have been going to the wrong trade shows - at the ones I've been to they give them away like smarties. They tend to be the 1 or 2GByte varieties and are usually filled with company brochures and suchlike. I've had some in the shape of little robots, bones and joint replacements in the past.

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Simon Harris
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Re: Capacitors - caveat observer!

I don't imagine that it's unlikely for a physics researcher to have experiments needing at least a MVolt. A quick google for "high voltage research" or "ultra high voltage research" will yield plenty of examples.

One possible scenario would be for there to be a fairly large number of capacitors, charged in parallel, each to a somewhat lower voltage (hence you don't need a huge gap between terminals of individual capacitors) and then switched into series, so the voltages in each are added together to something big.

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Simon Harris
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Other USB devices could contain larger capacitors.

The Mouse That Roared, perhaps?

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Mattel urged to scrap Wi-Fi mic Barbie after Register investigation

Simon Harris
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responses picked by the backend software.

Does that mean Barbie talks out of her arse?

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$17,000 Apple Watch: Pointless bling, right? HA! You're WRONG

Simon Harris
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Re: Fobbed off

That is a quite beautiful thing.

I want one now!

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Simon Harris
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I'll pass on the expensive version

The Sapphire and Steel version will do fine for me...

providing it comes with Joanna Lumley.

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MOOCROSOFT tosses seven proper tech courses online at edX

Simon Harris
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Re: "At $90, a Verified Certificate is ..."

But where is the certificate to verify that the authentication certificate is authentic?

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Would YOU touch-type on this chunk-tastic keyboard?

Simon Harris
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Prior art?

I think I've seen something like this before...

http://squeezeboxstories.com/background/accordion-101-types-of-the-accordion/

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Chewier than a slice of Pi: MIPS Creator CI20 development board

Simon Harris
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Re: Bah!

"Oh, and don't use an SD card bigger than 8 gig or it won't boot"

Stevie, I found an old 16MB SD card at the back of a drawer - you can have that one if you want, I'm not using it!

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Simon Harris
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Re: Friendlier than C

Doesn't the Pi come with gcc as part of its Linux tools?

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In assault on American values, Lockheed BLASTS PICKUP with RAYGUN

Simon Harris
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Re: input vs. output

"A sabot round from the Challenger 2 tank will make a bigger mess of the car than the laser did too. And it would take about 1 second."

Assuming the problem is to immobile the target rather than obliterate it, there might be less chance of getting any useful intelligence out of the occupants afterwards with a sabot round than a laser aimed at the engine.

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Simon Harris
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Re: input vs. output

A Challenger 2 tank engine will put out close to 1MW.

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Shove off, ugly folk, says site for people who love themselves

Simon Harris
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New picture

Gosh - the Elonex one wouldn't win any beauty contests! That's one ugly looking netbook!

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Simon Harris
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From the picture maybe not high enough to work out how to do up a bra.

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Simon Harris
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Why bother?

Why is el Reg giving this odious site the time of day again? Lester already wrote about them, more amusingly, a few years ago.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/11/17/beautiful_people/

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Boffins say Mars had ocean covering 20 per cent of planet

Simon Harris
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Re: NASA

Given the slow speed at which the rovers generally travel and the fact that nothing else much is moving on Mars, bar the occasional dust storm, there would probably not be much difference between a live video stream and a set of still images at, say, hourly intervals.

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Simon Harris
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Re: "Smooth, flat with very few rocks"

Was the plan to seal the cave entrances with dustbin lids?

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GSMA: Er, sorry about that MWC brothel ad with our logo

Simon Harris
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Maybe, although GSM did originally stand for Groupe Spécial Mobile and was developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute based in Sophia-Antipolis, France.

However, the GSMA board is listed at http://www.gsma.com/aboutus/leadership/gsma-board so that's quite a multi-lingual cheeseboard.

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Tinder Plus charges oldies MORE to ogle young hotties' pics

Simon Harris
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Here's an idea...

Instead of basing the subscription purely on age, weight subscription renewals based on the age differential between the user and the average age of the person they swipe right.

Depending on the age of the user, it could be called the pervy-old-git or the gold-digger tax.

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Simon Harris
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I'll second that - PoF worked for me and SWMBO.

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Simon Harris
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Re: u can grind on me

Or 062 shades for the older generation brought up on octal.

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The BBC wants to slap a TAX on EVERYONE in BLIGHTY

Simon Harris
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Like in the old days?

If the BBC's going to introduce a poll tax, I'm moving back to Wandsworth.

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NASA upgrades Rosetta, Voyager and moon landing tracker

Simon Harris
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CSIRO have a nice article about what actually happened here - it focuses on Parkes, but includes some information about Honeysuckle Creek too:

http://www.parkes.atnf.csiro.au/news_events/apollo11/

Honeysuckle Creek's images were the first to be used, but the feed was switched over to use Parkes' output after a few minutes as the image quality from there was better.

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Boffin: Use my bionic breakthrough for good, and not super cyborgs

Simon Harris
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Thumb Up

@ James Micallef Re: Once

'dances with smurfs' - have an upvote!

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