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* Posts by Frumious Bandersnatch

1295 posts • joined 8 Nov 2007

Pulsars: the GPS beacons of the cosmos

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Pedantry is just fine. As in "Behold! ... I give you THE UNIVERSE!. You... give me pedantry :("

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Guardian teams up with New York Times for future Snowden GCHQ coverage

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re: Brilliant!

Having UK report on the US and vice-versa is basically what the spooks have been doing for years. No sir, say the yanks, we don't spy on our people. The brits say likewise. Only they conveniently forget to mention that their other half does the spying on their behalf. Turnabout is fair play, I say!

Also, not sure about that editor. When he says "The Independent was not leaked or ‘duped’ into publishing today's front page story by the Government" you'd think that he'd be able to construct a sentence better. The "by the Government" part could be glommed into the sentence to mean either "today's front page story by the Government" or "The Independent was not [leaked or] ‘duped’ by the Government". Just sloppiness (as engendered, no doubt, by it being a twitter post) or something else? Probably the former, but it's still one of those "things that make you go hmmm".

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Japan's unwanted IT workers dumped in 'forcing-out rooms'

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Re: This isn't very new really.

That was my first thought on reading the headline--it's nothing new. I strained to remember the exact expression, but then found it online... "madogiwa zoku", literally "window-seat gang/tribe". This has been going on since the economic downturn in the '90s.

Check out Kiyoshi Kurosawa's "Tokyo Sonata" for a really good film exploring similar themes (particularly the loss of a job and how central having one is to Japanese sense of honour/self-worth/identity).

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FoundationDB ACID-lovers price up NoSQL database

Frumious Bandersnatch
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limits

transaction limit of 10,000,000 bytes, key size limit of 10,000 bytes, and value limit of 100,000 bytes

Nice to see that BCD is still alive :) (and no, that's not "Boyce-Codd Database")

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Guardian lets UK spooks trash 'Snowden files' PCs to make them feel better

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Or expressed in a more low-brow manner on bash.org

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iPhone 5S: 64-bit A7, 128GB storage, flashy ƒ/2.0 camera, and...

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: 64-bit, why?

Damn.. I meant to add: 4Gb of RAM should be enough for anybody!

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: 64-bit, why?

Classic mistake, 64-bit's is not always faster depends on what your application does.

Yup. I'm with the crowd that says 64-bit---huh? In general it's going to slow things down if your instruction bus width has to double in size. I'm not sure how ARM is handling the transition to 64-bit. A new 64-bit wide instructions plus legacy (retroactively named Thumb-32?) plus Thumb-16 seems awkward, to say the least.

Besides the inherent disadvantages of 64-bit with respect to increased code size and/or need for different ISA modes, what advantages would it have? Only scientific applications really need double-precision floats, so that's the preserve of clusters, not phones. And there are precious few other applications that are screaming out for bigger integers that can store values > 4Gb or +/- 2Gb for signed. This is especially true when your physical RAM doesn't even extend beyond 1Gb (though I guess mmapping a really large file or externally shared memory might be a potential use).

In my opinion, the best way to improve current 32-bit ARM chips would be to increase the number of registers (though it's already pretty decent with 16, and bumping this also means increasing instruction size) and/or improve the range of NEON SIMD instructions (with ability to do things like summing and testing conditions across values and a way to select/shuffle sub-words based on the condition, though again, this is much more useful with 64-bit or better registers). So going 64-bit for its own sake is a terrible idea, but if it's just a side effect of implementing a richer set of features, it's OK I guess.

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Starwing: Nintendo, Argonaut's Brit boffinry and the Super FX chip

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Or indeed The Sentinel in 1986

+1 to that, though if you look it up you'll see that it wasn't true 3D as it fudged the proper perspective transform. Still looked pretty good.

Elite is the best exemplar of true 3d of the time (and before), but it wasn't shaded, at least on C64. Also on C64 was Quake Minus One (basically features on either side of the "road" scaled and translated as they approach, so I guess it's 3D, but simple). Space Harrier was highly touted as 3D but gameplay left a lot to be desired. Someone's already mentioned Zarch/Virus for the Archimedes and Amiga, so I'll leave it at that.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Technically...

the frame was then dumped by DMA into the console's video RAM as a series of tiles

DMA? You were luuucky!

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: This was the game

Many papers were delivered to achieve that goal!

Huh? How did playing lots of Paperboy help achieve your goal?

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Microsoft to fund Blake's 7 return as Xbox Live exclusive

Frumious Bandersnatch
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What's this?

Microsoft implicated in a reboot? I'm shocked, I tell ya!

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Your encrypted files are 'exponentially easier' to crack, warn MIT boffins

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Re: Compression

As some people have pointed out, compression might actually be a bad thing. An All-or-Nothing Transform (AONT) on the data would mitigate against this attack because as the name suggests the attacker gains nothing from being able to "probably" figure out correlations for small parts of the message.

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Torvalds frustrated at missing simultaneous release

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Re: Linux has bigger things to worry about

Are you sure that device drivers are the cause of these broken installations? Because none of the posts I saw above mention it as a problem. And anyway, even if drivers are implicated, there's nothing stopping people sticking with an earlier kernel until new drivers are available in the latest kernel. Most distros trail the current kernel by a few releases anyway, so users are protected from the bleeding edge.

As to HP, are their drivers in the mainline kernel, or are they external to it? If they're external, then why don't they just do the work required to contribute the code once and have it accepted. Then it's up to kernel developers to do the work required if they break anything.

I'm certainly in the camp that says there's nothing broken with the model of having shifting in-kernel APIs. The only time it's ever affected me has been when I needed to get VMWare working again after a kernel update, and even then, if there wasn't an update available for VMWare, the fix was simple: go back to using the old kernel. I certainly don't accept your assertion that the Linux device driver model is broken!

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Linux has bigger things to worry about

... because ultimately the broken driver model has become a religious element ...

So your rant is basically that you want a stable API for implementing device drivers on? Not going to happen:

"Stable API nonsense" doc from the Linux kernel.

Note the last paragraph:

As Linux supports a larger number of different devices "out of the box" than any other operating system, and it supports these devices on more different processor architectures than any other operating system, this proven type of development model must be doing something right :)

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Linux has bigger things to worry about

and updating it boots up well only about three times then cant find it's shell on the last

That sort of transient error suggests to me that you have faulty RAM or, less likely because you'd probably see error messages, disk corruption. Run a memory check from a live CD (if it's not already installed as a grub option) and check logs or run gsmartcontrol to check disks for corruption. If "not able to find its shell" is supposed to mean "not able to find the kernel" then it may be that disks are being detected in a random order at bootup (thanks, BIOS!), and so the root filesystem isn't where grub expects it to be. All Debian-based OSs (including Mint, I guess) have been using UUID-based drive detection for a long time now, so I doubt that's what's going one.

The above assumes, of course, that you're not just causing or making up the problem yourself so you can have some weak trollbait.

HTH.

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No distro diva drama here: Penguinista favourite Debian turns 20

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Happy Birthday Deb!

And not to forget Ian, too :)

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1,100 haiku heading to Mars on next NASA mission

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Re: Mixing up artforms to create a new artform

... And what of the bard from Verdun?

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Headmaster

Re: 1,100 *haikus heading to Mars on next NASA mission

For Benefit of

Make the Reader Edified:

A Short Translation:

Among Japanese,

Between Ear(s) and Assemblage,

Which would be preferred?

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Headmaster

1,100 *haikus heading to Mars on next NASA mission

To Japanese ear

Plurality is inferred---

"Haiku" would suffice

日本人とは,

耳か耳たち

どちがすき?

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

NSA gets burned by a sysadmin, decides to burn 90% of its sysadmins

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Firing 90% of them?

That's surely a great way to gruntle your staff... oh wait!

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Android approaches 80% smartphone share as Apple's iPhone grows old

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Re: "well-positioned to re-capture market share"

Hmmm... So says a commenter named "ElReg!comments!Pierre". Your first name wouldn't be "Lucky", by any chance?

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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"well-positioned to re-capture market share"

It may (?) be true that it's "well-positioned" but coming from behind and trying to recapture lost market share is hardly a good position, is it?

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US federal judge: Yes, Bitcoin IS MONEY

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well...

It hardly constitutes a declaration that Bitcoin is a bona-fide currency. All that seems to have happened here is that the judge saw through a particularly transparent defence that was based only on a legal technicality.

As the article said, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it's probably a duck. Therefore: not a valid defence. Or, as Fry from Futurama might say, "That dog won't hunt, Monseigneur".

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Can't agree on a coding style? Maybe the NEW YORK TIMES can help

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Putting the first one at the end of the line is just stupid.

Wow. Big up/down-vote ratio for that. I hold the opposite view, that "if (...) {\n" is better. For two reasons...

1. Vertical space is precious when editing, especially given most people (OK, I generalise) are using 1920x1080 monitors. Putting the brace on a separate line means one less line of code visible on screen without scrolling for each if/do/while/whatever. That means more scrolling and more getting lost, especially if your only way of matching braces is to keep track of how far you think the matching one should be from the left of the screen. Simply put, better use of vertical space = improved readablity.

2. It's no harder to trace back up the screen vertically to a statement than a brace. You could even use tabs and have your editor display them visually so that it's easier no matter which style you decide on.

Oh, and

3. Your editor probably has something like emacs's blink-paren command (or mode) to show you where the matching brace is anyway so it probably makes any religious argument one way or the other moot.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: In Objective-C

Whereas in Perl, you have to put braces around the if-true part and the if-false part, regardless of whether they're just single statements or not. I quite like that since there's none of the fiddling around adding and removing braces (and potentially errors) when you change the number of statements in the if-true/if-false parts. Of course, it's also nice that perl gives you the 'statement if condition' and 'statement unless condition' syntax (without braces) too so that more than makes up for the enforced use of braces in the more traditional form.

Even in C, it's probably a good idea to use if (...) { ... } [else { ... }] even when you don't need to. Use it without braces and occasionally you'll come across a macro that expands to several statements, probably leading to very puzzling and hard-to-debug program behaviour... And as I mentioned, adding/removing parenthesis based on the number of statements is tedious and error-prone. Your essential logic hasn't changed (just the number of statements), so why should the syntax need updating?

IOW, thumbs up for mandatory/orthogonal use of braces!

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Roses are #f00, violets are #00f. This witty code is a boffinry breakthrough

Frumious Bandersnatch
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"It was a blonde."

"A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window" (Raymond Chandler)

OK, so it's not, technically speaking, a joke, but as we've been discussing how we like our women ...

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer?

Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!

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Ubuntu puts forums back online, reveals autopsy of a brag hacker

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Re: not back to normal

I don't know ... isn't single-sign on backed by two-factor authentication? AIUI (and I haven't used this on Ubuntu services) with something like OpenID you put in your login request at one service and then go to another page (on your authenticating server) to OK that request. Barring some sort of browser flaw that lets a rogue site access the master details on the authentication page (which probably means you're owned anyway, so even individual passwords wouldn't be safe), I can't see how it's a big problem.

Of course, I'm only talking about single-sign on for sites that aren't that important. Of course you wouldn't want SSO for protecting anything of value.

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Terror cops swoop on couple who Googled 'backpacks' and 'pressure cooker'

Frumious Bandersnatch
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who in the hell

has to look up the internet to find out how to make a "pressure cooker bomb"? Surely it can't be any more complicated than (a) make a big bomb, (b) put it in the pressure cooker with some bits of metal, and (c) close the pressure cooker.

Admittedly, I've never done this or looked it up, but I fail to see how it's any different (mutatis mutandis) from a pipe bomb. Isn't the name totally suggestive of the recipe for making it to anyone with two brain cells to rub together? That being so, does knowing the name of the device then constitute an offence for "possessing knowledge likely to be of use to a terrorist"? (Yes, that's actually a real crime where I live!)

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Intel's homage to Raspberry Pi: The much pricier Minnowboard

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Crazy price point

A while back I made a list of the sorts of things you could get with around €250--275. It included:

* a PS3 with free game

* a Nexus 7 (which has since been upgraded slightly)

* an ARM chromebook

* An eMMC-based ODROID-X2 (with plenty of change to spare)

* 2x microSD-based based ODROID-U2s

* 4x Raspberry Pi Model B (or 3x plus a network/USB hub)

* 5x Model A Pis (a rough guess, though adding wireless cards might push me over budget)

* Various combinations of {Pi, Arduino} and {gertboard, Pi Face, Slice of Pi, Adafruit, Arduino modules} and {basic electronics kit and tools}

Since then I see that the Parallella boards are available for pre-order, so I could add:

* 2x Parallella boards (with 16-core coprocessor and FPGA)

For what it appears to be (a hobby or "gadget" item), the price is just crazy. The only thing that it has that the other things above don't is PCI Express and SATA (the PS3 and Parallella have gigabit Ethernet and the Chromebook has 802.11n, so fast networking isn't unique to this board). Is that enough to warrant paying twice (or more) the price of most of the other things I listed? I seriously doubt it...

I notice that all the gagets I mentioned (bar the PS3) happen to be ARM-based, so perhaps that shows a bias on my part. On the other hand, it shows the range of products that Intel is competing against in this segment of the market--let's call it the "gadget" segment. As such, this new board would be at the bottom of my list, even assuming it made the list at all.

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Leap Motion Controller: Hands up for PC air gestures. That's the spirit

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Coat

I wonder if anyone is working on a sign-language > text application? : D

Heh, that was my first thought on reading the article, though being a cynic, I figured that it'd just do ASL (American Sign Language).

The the second app that I thought about was virtual puppeteering. To be honest, though, that was also the first use I could think of for the gyroscope/accelerometer in all modern smartphones. So far, though, nobody has filled that important niche. Disappointing.

I guess I'll just go back home to watch 'Being John Malkovich' again (or maybe Team America: World Police) -->

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Microsoft Surface sales numbers revealed as SHOCKINGLY HIDEOUS

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: there is hope...

you can't polish a turd

Really? Have you tried? I know you can definitely polish mud to make it nice and shiny. Though maybe you're right: pure shite might have to dumped on the compost heap to rot for a while.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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"wrote down nearly a billion dollars on its unloved Surface RT fondleslabs"

instead of "fondleslab", wouldn't "gazebo" "folly" be a better word? (sorry for the correction; I sometimes get mixed up).

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Sony and Panasonic plan 300GB Blu-Ray replacement for 2015

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> Hopefully it won't be a big as a Laser Disk.

I hope they release "Dragon's Lair" on it, for the nostalgia value if nothing else.

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: Oh look

> A solution looking for a problem.

It does seem like it. At least the 4k part, anyway. Some Reg links:

"4K video may wow vidiots, but content creators see pitfalls"

"The future of cinema and TV: It’s game over for the hi-res hype"

The gist: higher res is not a panacea.

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Adapteva ships Kickstarted baby supercomputer boards

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Very informative article

Thanks. I'd been watching for developments in this product and I think this shows that they are definitely on the right track.

I was very interested to read in the article that the Epiphany cores have "a mere 35 instructions". I'd never read that before, so I went and found a link to the architectural reference document. Quite surprised to see that the cores don't have any division instruction (integer or float). But then, I guess ARM has been getting along quite well with only spotty support for hardware division instructions, and I'm sure that working around this restriction is the bread and butter work of the sort of people who write gcc or llvm (who both seem to be on board in supporting Parallella).

Despite having zero use (at the moment) for a cluster like this, I'm seriously tempted to put in an order. Even without a hardware division (or inverse) instruction, I'm sure there are still lots of interesting applications that would run well on this. The clustering side of things looks very interesting, too, given the huge interconnect bandwidth and memory architecture.

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MYSTERY of 19th-century DEAD WALRUS found in London graveyard

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Oh

The huge manatees!

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Boffins: Dolphins call each other NAMES. Not RUDE ones!

Frumious Bandersnatch
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Re: to see if the named fish responded?

Whoa... can't you all see the OP is just trolling on porpoise?

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WAR ON PORN: UK flicks switch on 'I am a pervert' web filters

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Re: Quote:

... those technically literate children haven't heard of proxying ...

Sounds like a business opportunity for someone. I might set up my own "lolicon" server. Short for "LOL Internet Condenser", don't you know ...

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Frumious Bandersnatch
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It's a well-know fact

that pornography leads to sex, and sex is bad.

Wait, what? I don't even think that the first part holds water. Run that argument by me again, please?

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LG, Sanyo, fined for price-fixing laptop batteries

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m

I think it is missing.

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Surface RT: A plan worthy of the South Park Underpants Gnomes

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Re: credibility

... unless he tells you that he shined something, of course ... like maybe a jeweller or window cleaner?

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US town mulls bounty on spy drones, English-speaking gunman only

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Re: I hope some fool shoots one down...

shoot at a drone or a normal aircraft.

No, Dougal, let's go through this one more time: those are small (pointing at drone, obviously), and those are very far away (you should be able figure which I'm pointing at now, hopefully).

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Rap for rap chap in crap rap app flap: Jay-Z blasted by privacy bods

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Re: *Applauds*

Agreed... sub head could have been improved on ... he's got 100 problems (now the bits are one)

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Apple needs help: iWatch, 'Retina' iPad mini delayed until 2014?

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iPad maxi?

Hmm... any news on whether that will be coming out in pink? You know---"for her."

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Microsoft lathers up Windows 8.0 Surface RT for quick price shave

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Re: Microsoft Price Policy

Microsoft have to choose between Surface RT becoming a cheap Linux box without Office or landfill RT.

Well the first is not going to happen. MS was never going to let you install another OS on this thing. Just why they thought selling a locked-down ARM tablet with no software ecosystem to speak of (having "Office" hardly counts, given the licensing terms and the fact that's it's restricted in other ways) was going to work is a mystery to me. Just who was it supposed to appeal to? Perhaps they made all those silly ads first and the various departments heads got carried away with how cool it seemed (to them) that they just had to go and build the damned thing.

There could have been a third option, and that would have been to announce a new cross-platform layer in Windows 8 and guarantee that all apps developed within the framework would work seamlessly across both ARM and x86 systems (and call it "Windows 8 Anywhere" or even use "Windows One" as an umbrella term to indicate the stuff will run on any of the MS/W8 platforms, including the new XBox) . Technically, the three main options for doing it would be (a) machine code translation like qemu (which the ARM/RT platform isn't up to doing well enough), (b) fat binaries that compile to both target platforms (like Apple did when it migrated between hardware platforms, twice), and (c) compile everything into a platform-agnostic bytecode that can be JIT-compiled into native code on the target platform at near-native speeds (eg, like Dalvik on Android). A consequence of this would have been no backwards compatibility on the RT platform, but if MS was really serious about it, they could totally have pushed everyone to adopt this "Windows One" (or whatever you want to call it) approach as part and parcel of taking the Windows 8 pill.

Unfortunately, as we can see from history (eg, .NET, Silverlight), even (or should that be "especially?") a behemoth like MS finds it very hard to do portability/interoperability. And anyway, even though it often pays lip service to these goals, in reality that's not what it wants. Rather, it wants to lock you in to its own proprietary solutions while spreading FUD about patents and whatnot to actively prevent interoperable implementations (which is why, for example, Mono on Linux is seen as such a bad idea for so many people). Besides the technical challenges, for this to be a success would require a large amount of bravery on the parts of the team tasked with developing Windows 8 all the way up to Ballmer. I simply think that there's no way they'd have to stomach to bet the farm so heavily on this sort of "Windows One" concept and risk making Windows 8 even more hated than it already is. The evidence for that is there: just look at the split personality that the Windows 8 desktop has as the prime example.

So I think I'll have to agree that landfill is probably the most likely final destination for most of these machines. In a few years time, my guess is that the App store will go away as the machine is quietly end-of-lifed so RT won't even be much use as a museum piece.

/my €0.02

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