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* Posts by Frumious Bandersnatch

1296 posts • joined 8 Nov 2007

Opposable thumbs for FISTS, not finesse, say bioboffins

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: QED

Or to mangle a Billy Bragg quote... "something that every football fan knows, it only takes five fingers [if you include an opposable thumb as the fifth, it seems] to form a fiiiist"

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Canadian man: I solved WWII WAR HERO pigeon code!

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: And these idiots at GCGQ are going to ...

Perhaps you mean mean?

Or, to use a word that cropped up in an article here on the Reg just a few days ago, niggardly.

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Little spider makes big-spider-puppet CLONE of itself out of dirt

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Counting spiders

Seems unlikely they could count to 8

Maybe they can count to 256?

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Not so original

You should build yourself a Pantograph (or a series of them) and connect it up to an oversized model of yourself. That should scare the bejesus out of the boss so he won't come around ever again.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: So, presumably

I don't think it needs self-knowledge

I'm not disagreeing with this, but I'm not sure you can completely rule out the idea that the spider is "deliberately" making something in its own self image. I'm not suggesting it has self-cognition (some insects and arachnids have brain cells running into the dozens, from what I read), but I don't think it's crazy to suggest that spiders can have a sense of proprioception (ie, knowing roughly where its limbs are) and that that might form the basis for setting up a feedback loop (from cybernetics) to explain the how of what it does, if not the why.

It would be pretty amazing to find that if could use visual information, but I'm guessing that proprioception could be a sufficient mechanism to explain it. It might even be possible to test the theory by filming the thing making the shape. If it makes leg waggles that correlate with the order that it builds the legs on the model then maybe the theory itself (to pardon the pun) has legs.

Just throwing this out there. IANAEB (I Am Not An Evolutionary Biologist).

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Brilliant

Like when atheists point at parasitic wasps as 'proof' there is no God? Equally weak arguments.

For some strange reason after reading this exchange I had the image of a little spider cackling maniacally and then booming out "Where is your God now?!"

I, for one, welcome out new marionette-wielding insect overlords, etc....

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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ISO 8601

Upvote for saying what I suspected, that you have to have the YEAR in front. Not only that, but the got the poster delimiter wrong too (slash instead of dash).

For some reason it really bugs me to see web pages using the MM/DD format for things like, eg, release dates. You have to figure out if it's just another typical USA-ism. It's not just the date format, which I guess their entitled to, but the fact (calling it this based on prima fascie evidence) that they never bother to think that they might have readers outside the US or that they might do something different there.

Whenever there's any doubt I always try to spell dates out as YYYY-MM-DD (props to Japan for having this as their standard) or spell out the date ("21st Dec" or "Dec 21"). And of course for anything computer related (eg, file naming) big-endian YYYYMMDD is almost always the correct order (adding dashes to taste).

Anyway, what has all this got to do with 4?

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Fish grow ‘hands’ in genetic experiment

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Dear El Reg

Do you got a number for that chick in the photo? Thanks!

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Ray Kurzweil to become Google's top engineer

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: I wonder if ...

re: billion node cloud...

You keep mentioning that here. Care to mention how it fares in the face of Amdahl's Law?

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Wind, solar could provide 99.9% of ALL POWER by 2030

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

Oops. I just reread the article and I see the point you were making about greatly reduced costs. It was late and I guess I glossed over that entire sentence/paragraph just reading is as "all without government subsidies". Sorry about that.

Still, I'm heartened by what another commenter said above that the assumptions might be reasonably realistic for the US states the model was looking at, even if it's probably not applicable here in the west of Europe. It's nice to get some positive news on this whole issue, even if it is only applicable there.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Paris Hilton

Re: Ummm... this is a MODELED finding?

I'm not sure if this is how they did it, but when I read "28 billion combos" my first thought is that it's probably easy to arrive at this solution by using a genetic algorithm. Probably more likely that they had some big, un-environmentally friendly compute cluster brute-force searching the entire solution space, though :(

I'm not sure how to react to your criticism of their models, to be honest. Yes, models can be unrealistic, but on the whole I'd rather have them than not. Then you can start picking apart the basic assumptions (the one you mentioned "renewables will drop greatly in price" wasn't even in the article text, so I don't know if you're just making that up or not) or otherwise criticise/falsify it. But to what end? Just to be negative, or to make a better model? In either case you can't criticise a model just for being a model...

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John Lewis agrees to flog Microsoft's Surface RT tablets

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Demand has been phenomenal.

Do doo-da-doo-do.

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iPad mini to outsell iPad, get Retina Display? iPad to slenderize?

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Big Brother

Keep the [Aspidistras Flying]

Haven't read it, but Down and Out in [Paris and London] is pretty good. I'll always remember what he said about the quality of cutlery in a restaurant (that and forgetting that he had a gas bottle he could return when he was stony).

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Microsoft's Steve Ballmer named 'most improved tech CEO'

Frumious Bandersnatch
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"most improved"

Now with 75% less chair throwing, one presumes. Or maybe 75% more. With CEOs, who can tell ...

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John McAfee on a plane to America

Frumious Bandersnatch
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But, but ...

He was already in America ....

/pedant

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YES! It's the TARDIS PC!

Frumious Bandersnatch
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damn... I wish I could edit posts

since I forgot to add something: Also, this

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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But I've already got a Tardis-shaped PC

Mind you, it's one with a functioning chameleon circuit so it just looks like a regular tower.

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Valve chief confirms Steam-centric console-killing PC

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Your title is too long!

re: needing extra incentives to make Linux versions, I think that actually it shouldn't be that much of a burden to most developers to add Linux versions to an existing roster of Windows/Mac versions. The key, really, is that once you've got an OpenGL version working for the Mac platform, you won't need to do much to port this to Linux. After all, they've both got a fairly standard Unix heritage (not that most games use the OS for much anyway) and both have industry-standard OpenGL. The biggest problem is the variety of graphics hardware that Linux users might have driving their displays and what level of OpenGL the Linux drivers support, but that's really more of a problem for the users to sort out: if they want to be able to play games, they know that they have to shell out for decent graphics cards and do their homework in terms of checking whether the card is properly supported and being prepared to delve into the forums when things don't quite go to plan. If anything, it's the state of graphics drivers, though, and not Linux itself that is the main stumbling block for users. The graphics card manufacturers really need to do a much better job with its Linux drivers...

The real question is whether the market exists for Linux games. I think that there have been signs from a long way back that Linux users would love to have native games for their platform, and even that they'd be willing to pay a premium for them over the Windows versions. Like "Linux on the desktop", though, it always seems that proper gaming support is always 2--3 years off. It's very interesting to see this new Steam development and, to a lesser degree, the way that OpenGL (ES) has become the de-facto graphics tech on the various mobile platforms. I think that if things continue along the same arc, we will begin to see a lot more of a market for Linux gaming, though I think that the actual OS will not be as relevant as the division between games designed for DirectX, OpenGL and OpenGL ES.

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The best tablets for Christmas

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: more than apps

The reality is, almost all the main Android apps have tablet layouts included in the APK.

Yup. I see this line or variations of it, such that Android layout looks shit because its too hard for developers to code for the myriad screen sizes (and orientation). In fact, if you've ever looked at the UI design parts of the Android SDK, you'll find that they have great support for tailoring the look of your app to differing screen sizes, and probably (like me) find it easy to understand and implement UI design using the SDK. In particular, they define various constants relating to screen size, dpi and relative icon size and so on so that you can either dynamically reorganise your UI at runtime, or pre-bake a set of default UIs and then select the one that's closest to the properties of the physical screen (or do a bit of both, if you wish). If you want to delve a bit into OpenGL, you can also create a mipmap for each icon and then interpolate to the correct scale, or you can just provided a set of fixed-resolution images and let Android select the best one.

More recent versions of Android (3.0) and up also have the idea of "Fragments" to make dynamically-scaled/rotated UIs even easier to build. More importantly, though, they make it easy to radically alter the UI layout depending of screen size and orientation, say by presenting a two-panel display on a large, landscape tablet, while omitting less important options (relegated to the action menu) from smaller or portrait displays.

As for the specific claim that media delivery is scaled up, you're surely having a laugh, right? Surely "media delivery" just means playing a video, and I can't imagine any media player that can't handle matching the video stream dimensions to the physical screen dimensions? Ludicrous.

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Fred Flintstone may not have been real but his pet Dino WAS - boffins

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: what a stupid article title

So a cheap attempt to shoehorn a humorous cultural reference trumps scientific and historical accuracy? Monty Python's Galaxy Song shows that it's possible to be (truly) funny and (mostly) accurate at the same time. This? This wasn't even funny enough to gloss over the inaccuracy, especially considering that there are nutjobs out there who literally believe that we did live alongside dinosaurs at one point. That definitely moves it into "unfunny" territory for me. It's supposed to be a bloody science article, for god's sake, and that headline just turns it into a puff piece.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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what a stupid article title

What on earth has Fred Flinstone got to do with anything? That headline suggests that (somehow) evidence for dinosaurs and humans not only living together, but of humans domesticating them! Jeez. I'd expect that sort of tripe from some nutjob religious sect--not the Register.

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Slash A THIRD off Surface RT price or it's toast, Microsoft told

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Said it before and I'll say it again

any suggestions?

Maybe pay for the full version of the software you mentioned?

I've never used either of the apps you mention, and I don't know how much the full version(s?) costs, but surely if it's that useful to you it's worth paying for? If you can afford the transformer prime, I'm sure you can afford another $20-$40 (or whatever it costs) for software that you know you want... (but seems to be too cheap to pay for).

OK I don't mean that last comment to sound nasty, but seriously, if you're an Android fan and you want it to succeed, you could at least support the developers of the platform by buying the app. I know it's easy to have the mindset of wanting all your software to be free, especially if you've got a background in Linux or one other other free "Unices", but from what I've seen most of the Android software is pretty reasonably priced.

If you're still dead set against paying for something, you can always write it yourself. I think you'll find it'll cost a lot more than just paying for an app that someone's already developed, though.

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His Holiness Benedict XVI to tweet to his Catholic flock

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Mine is a two-parter, your pope-i-ness

First, the eternal question: "why do men have nipples?"

Second, did Adam and Eve have navels? If they did, and they were made in God's image and likeness, then who begat God (for a navel would surely imply that He had a Begetter)? And if not, how can the Bible tell us (of the navel-having kind) that we're made in His image and likeness?

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Children increasingly named after Apple products

Frumious Bandersnatch
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I can't believe it

Three pages of comments and nobody's considered the new ipad mini and the possibility of a new wave of kids named... "Mini Me"? It works for boys and for girls!

This line of thought does sort of assume that parents want to name their kids after the iMini (ok, let's not go there: Apple didn't, and I don't think parents would either) so as to conjure up positive connotations, though... I can see why nobody pounced on it sooner.

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Ready for ANOTHER patent war? Apple 'invents' wireless charging

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Prior art?

re: Spurious tacking on of "on a mobile device". I'm getting pretty sick of this. From now on when Apple come up with a "new" patent for something "on a mobile device", I'm going to run their patent through this page and rush down to the patent office so I can patent the new invention "on a mobile device - in bed!"

In fact, I''d love to filter Reg Comments through the same script (just to preserve some slim semblance of sanity in the world) but it appears that it doesn't support entering URLs any more.

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BOFH: Cannot terminate PFY instance... ACCESS DENIED

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: The times

Has support for Vista now finished?

Of course not. Just do what everyone else here does and nip over to alt.sysadmin.recovery.

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Bash Street bytes: Do UK schools really need the Raspberry Pi?

Frumious Bandersnatch
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one place to watch

I'm a big fan of the Pi, but then I belong to a certain group of people who taught themselves to program on the first wave of home computers (ZX81, then C64). It's hard for me not to be enthusiastic for what the Pi foundation is attempting to achieve here.

Whatever all the naysayers may think and however loudly they decry the foundation's offering, I think it's very premature to pronounce judgement on it. It might not achieve the far-reaching goals that it's set itself (changing the character of UK education and bringing back, after a fashion, the halcyon days of the first home computing wave), I think that its true value is only going to be discovered by kids themselves.

While this measure of success is very hard to gauge, I think there's one place where we will see the Pi cropping up more and more, namely the Young Scientist competition and similar technology-based competitions. I think what sets the Pi apart is that it's not just confined to computer science. Thanks to the GPIO and the ease with which peripherals can be added via USB, I'm sure that the Pi will appeal to students with a preference for other fields.

It'll still probably take a while, but I'm pretty sure that over the next few years we'll be seeing plenty of innovative secondary school projects that include the Pi. Maybe that's not a great measure of success, but even if that's all that it enables, I think the Pi foundation's work will have been vindicated.

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Cambridge boffins fear 'Pandora's Unboxing' and RISE of the MACHINES

Frumious Bandersnatch
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most likely they'll just ignore us

I mean, really, we're made of MEAT.

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P-P-P-Pick up our PENGUIN-POWERED Pi PIPER of Python

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Sound quality?

I ordered a couple of Pi's for my brothers' xmas presents. I got to talking about it with one of them and it turns out he already had Pi and was trying to get it to work as a jukebox. He'd run into the same problem with poor quality audio output over the 3.5mm jack. HDMI audio output is perfect, but it would mean buying another cable and converter or of having an amp that accepts HDMI input. I did a bit of research and it turns out that this is a known problem with the headphone jack. There have been some things done on the software/driver side to improve the quality a little bit (basically eliminate nasty crackles and pops when audio output starts/stops). I didn't read any more about it, but it seems that overclocking might be one way to improve the situation (the CPU has to do a lot of the work that a dedicated sound chip should do). I was also curious as to whether buying the MPEG-2 codec license would improve the situation (isn't MP3 a sub-standard within MPEG-2?)

I guess I should really be looking for those answers over on the Pi forums, but I thought I'd just throw out those ideas here in the hopes that maybe someone knows whether they work or not.

Also, thumbs up for the article. I like reading about the Pi here.

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Dreamworks open sources animation software

Frumious Bandersnatch
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from the description

It just sounds like some kind of octree library. That's hardly a difficult thing to knock together, though maybe there's more to it than it sounds. Hmmm... "animated smoke"... maybe it's just a Perlin noise generator, then...

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Evildoers can now turn all sites on a Linux server into silent hell-pits

Frumious Bandersnatch
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"that are clearly running some special flavor of Debian called "squeezy"

I take it the OP was indirectly pointing out that the correct name for the release is "squeeze", not this mythical "squeezy" beast.

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Super-thin iMacs WILL be here for Xmas, cram warehouses even NOW

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Uh....

The previous-generation iMac with built-in DVD drive was more functional.

It's called progress! The next model won't even need a keyboard.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: A super-portable desktop computer.

underwear woven from nettles.

Actually, you can get surprisingly good fibre from nettle plants. I just did a quick search for 'nettle fibre' and turned up this amusing page which by chance happens to have a section titled "STUDENT SHOWS OFF NETTLE KNICKERS" (with pic). So not quite in the same class as chocolate teapots and such...

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Windows Phone 8 reboot woe causes outpouring of forum misery

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Reboot culture

Who is this General Failure, and why is he reading my C: drive?

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China's Danger Maps highlight health hazards

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Having lived in China ...

I didn't know Sheffield was in China...

I thought it actually might have been, until I discovered it was just an urban myth. Hooray for the Internet!

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Fart-buster underpants selling well among Japanese salarymen

Frumious Bandersnatch
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an invention 100 years to late

for Natsume Souseki..

'You seem to do quite a lot of wandering about from place to place. This is so that you paint, is it?'

'Yes. All I take with me is my colour-box, but whether I actually produce a picture or not doesn't worry me.'

'So these trips are half for pleasure, are they?'

'Yes, I suppose you could say that. The fact is, I don't like having people count how many times I break wind.'

Zen priest though he was, this was one metaphor that apparently the abbot could not understand.

'What do you mean by "counting how many times you break wind"?'

'If you live in Tokyo for any length of time, you have your farts reckoned up.'

'How do you mean?'

'If that were all it wouldn't be so bad, but they do such unwarranted things as examining your backside to see whether your anus is triangular or square.'

From 'The Three-Cornered World', 1906.

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Apple staff call Taiwanese filmmaker an 'idiot'

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: They might be his books...

Eh, you realise that the first two of these are out of copyright, so anyone can publish a version of them?

Or you can just get them at www.gutenberg.org, if that's what you want.

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Apple granted patent for ebook page-turning

Frumious Bandersnatch
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whatever next?

Patent an spinning animation of a newspaper to signal some noteworthy event?

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Brits swallow Google Nexus 4 supply 'in 30 minutes'

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: How much better...

It's good, but, not as good as an iPhone.

I'm reminded of that ad that Apple ran not so long ago that bigged up Siri in particular. One female user asked the phone whether her brother had arrived yet at a stadium or something, and was told that [insert Brother's name] was here. And you talk about how Android phones spy on you?

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Fedora 'Spherical Cow' delayed by bugs, Secure Boot

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Spherical cow

Good joke, but the naming is based on a different one. Check wikipedia for some background.

"First, we assume a spherical cow ..."

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Swedish boffins: An ICE AGE is coming, only CO2 can save us

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Ice age?

Actually, it's pretty safe to say [Earth] does [have a top]

I'm looking forward to us contacting extraterrestrial life so that we can decide which side of the "topist" and "bottomist" divide we lie on. Or to put it another way, whether we root more for turnwise or widdershins.

I've only one niggling doubt: wasn't this already played out in Gulliver's Travels?

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China blocks all Google services as new leader anointed

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: And does the US impose sanctions?

AND they have the NUCLEAR BOMB!

Hmmm... by that logic, they should sanction Israel.

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The GPL self-destruct mechanism that is killing Linux

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: The problem with autoconf...

On balance, it seems to me that most of the accusations levelled at autoconf here are more to do with how it's used than the software itself. It is a pretty horrendous bit of software in itself, thanks to the pretty steep learning curve, and I've been hit a few times by some of its idiosyncrasies (incompatible versions, missing m4 macros and the way it sometimes runs differently if you run 'sh ./configure' or './configure', mainly) but on the whole if you've got a project beyond a certain size and you care about portability, I think it's usually a no-brainer: use autoconf.

As I already said, the problem is often more to do with how the software is used. It's not a magic bullet that will automatically make your program portable. You still have to do all the work in your source code to account for all the different flavours of *nix or whatever, like whether they have certain library functions available to them (and which version), what system include files are needed, as well as, sometimes, lower level concerns like the machine's endianness, word sizes, data alignment characteristics, and especially the right architecture (or compiler)-specific flags to use. The other thing about autoconf, besides being an aid to achieving portability is that modern software generally has a multitude of dependencies, and without something like autoconf (and supporting tools/standards like pkg-config) any homebrew configure/make system is apt to get very complex very fast, and worse than that, they're (relatively speaking) very difficult to maintain and often not very portable in themselves. Most problems with building (besides problems with dependencies) tend to be with the author not writing portable code in the first place or simply not knowing about the foibles of your particular system or toolchain. Again, that's not autoconf's fault, but it is what it's designed to help the coder with.

and that's why I end up just using shell scripts for my projects.

There's nothing wrong with rolling your own configure/build system, but for the end user (ie, the person building the system), I think that familiarity with the autoconf system usually makes it easier to handle cases where things go wrong for some reason. Once you've compiled a few dozen apps it becomes pretty easy to figure out where the build is going wrong and how to fix it. Maybe that's just my personal preference, though.

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Microsoft demos real-time English to Chinese translation

Frumious Bandersnatch
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"Personally I believe this will lead to a better world."

At the precise moment, the phrase "Personally I believe this will lead to a better world." (muttered by Rick Rashid to the assembled delegates, which for some strange reason was carried by a freak wormhole in space back in time to the farthest regions of the universe where the G'Gugvuntts and the Vl'hurgs lived) filled the air over the conference table, which in the Vl'hurg tongue was the most dreadful insult imaginable. It left them no choice but to declare war on the G'Gugvuntts, which went on for a few thousand years and decimated their entire galaxy.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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the time has come to talk ... of hovercrafts and eels?

Sure, the MP sketch is a nice link to include, but wouldn't an omnigot link be more relevant to the topic? Still, I guess you have one now.

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Habitable HEAVY GRAVITY WORLD found just 42 light-years away

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: "the dangerous Bandersnatch"

I think you mean "Frumious Bandersnatch"!

Did you expect me to make a comment here? Who do you think I am? Kibo?

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Prior art

Wasn't the Frumious Bandersnatch a Victorian era creation of Dodgson's?

Indeed it was.

I think this is what's known as an homage.

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Amazon Kindle Fire HD 7in Android tablet review

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: It's much more useful...

because it was closer to their mouse cursor, any number of reasons.

"downvoting from a tablet or smartphone" would probably be one of those other reasons, presumably.

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