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* Posts by Robert Sneddon

238 posts • joined 14 Dec 2007

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EU probe into Apple's taxes: It's NOT to do with double-Dutch-Irish anything sandwiches

Robert Sneddon
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Apple retail markups

The story I heard from a middleman supplier of Apple kit a long while back was that they frowned on deep discounting or even shallow discounting by suppliers to consumers. Discount too much, too deeply or too often and supplies would dry up and contracts would be difficult to renegotiate. This was before Apple direct sales really took off with the internet and high street iAquariums though.

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UK govt preps World War 2 energy rationing to keep the lights on

Robert Sneddon
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Storage costs money

Liquid air, flywheels, capacitors, hamsters in wheels, they all cost money to build and run, they waste electricity in conversion and reconversion losses and they don't add any new generating capacity, just make the fluctuations and sudden peaks in demand a little smoother. Consumers are already up in arms about the bottom-line cost of energy, making it more expensive per kWh isn't going to be looked on favourably.

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Robert Sneddon
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Waste

Sorry but the Juno probe wasn't going to be powered by "nuclear waste". Pu238 is the preferred fuel for radioisotope thermal generators (RTGs) for a lot of reasons and it's not found in other than trace quantities in spent nuclear fuel. It's actually manufactured by a complex and expensive process involving exotic chemical processing of spent fuel to extract neptunium-237 and exposing that in specialised research-style nuclear reactors to breed it into Pu238. The problem is that the research reactors in question are being shut down as they age and/or fall foul of tighter operating restrictions such as not using highly enriched uranium fuel, and nobody wants to cough up the money to build new ones to modern safety standards. This is also affecting the nuclear medicine supply chain.

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Robert Sneddon
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Storage costs money

Assuming you have the right kind of geography with high and low reservoirs close to each other and lots and lots of water available, pumped storage costs about £200 million per GWh to build, a few million a year to run and it doesn't generate any electricity in itself so it's on top of the cost of renewables, not a replacement or an offset. It makes intermittent renewables more useful, their energy can be stored and released on demand rather than use it or lose it but storage also wastes a lot of that energy in the store and release cycle.

Dinorwig can store about 8GWh, the other big pumped storage station at Cruachan in Scotland is about the same. Together they can supply about 2GW maximum for a few hours or about 10% of our lowest consumption (midsummer night time). During the winter our demand peaks at about 50GW so we'd really need at least a dozen more Dinorwigs to make a dent in the supply situation for those times, or freeze to death in the dark.

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Robert Sneddon
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Swinging reactors

Modern designs of nuclear reactors like the ones licenced to be built in the UK can all reduce output ("swing") quite readily if they, for some weird reason, produce "too much" power. Would that we were facing the problem of "too much" power...

As it is the existing British reactors are pumping out maximum base load power as much of the time as possible since the fuel cost is mind-bogglingly low and the grid is topped up with gas and coal with wind adding a small amount on top when the conditions are favourable.

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PCIe hard drives? You read that right, says WD

Robert Sneddon
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Samsung on Youtube

Samsung put a Youtube ad up several years ago where their engineers RAIDded 24 SSDs (probably SATA-2 devices) and got 2 GB/s sustained throughput.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eULFf6F5Ri8

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The hoarder's dilemma: 'Why can't I throw anything away?'

Robert Sneddon
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Oldest floppy?

I have a Bernoulli 10MB drive on the sideboard, complete with a couple of cartridges. It'll come in useful someday.

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Robert Sneddon
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Palm PDAs

I have an old Palm E running Coreplayer pumping out ambient "seashore" noise to a pair of cheap speakers at the head of my bed. Helps me get off to sleep at night.

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Robert Sneddon
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EMP briefcase

Walk up to the doofdoof-car stopped at the lights, press the conveniently-located button on your briefcase when adjacent to the boot of the car and blow out the amplifier. Walk a little further and you can get the idiot's fuel injection computer too.

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Robert Sneddon
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Yellow ink

The reason it won't print B/W if it's out of yellow ink is probably because of the forensic yellow dots code printed on each page, courtesy (we think) of the US Government. The pattern of yellow dots encrypts information like time and date and a serial number of the printer according to the EFF.

https://www.eff.org/pages/list-printers-which-do-or-do-not-display-tracking-dots

I wonder if printing a faint yellow background on each page would defeat this coding scheme?

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Why are Fujitsu and Toshiba growing lettuce in semiconductor plants?

Robert Sneddon
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Pricey fruit and veg

Japanese specialist fruit and vegetable growers already charge eye-watering prices for premium produce like bunches of grapes for £40 a kilo and individually-packed peaches costing more than £4 each. They're not run-of-the-mill items but luxury gifts, unblemished and visually perfect. Most cheap fruit and veggies are imported and sold in Japanese supermarkets at almost-reasonable prices.

Folks who buy organic produce pay three times the "normal" price anyway and that's big business in the Western world. This sort of production qualifies as organic, no pesticides and herbicides required since it is literally a clean-room operation so the actual price is not unreasonable. I've seen reports of similar operations being launched in California and elsewhere based on sealed greenhouses fed with filtered air and water rather than repurposed clean-rooms.

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Britain'll look like rural Albania without fracking – House of Lords report

Robert Sneddon
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German nukes

Much of Germany's nuclear fleet is still in operation, actually. Some of the oldest plants were shut down promptly after 2011/03/11, the rest are on schedule to close over the next few years with the last one, if I remember correctly, closing in 2023. They're a convenient cash cow for the German government who tax refuelling operations, part of a deal/bribe made pre-Fukushima to allow the nuclear plants to keep operating in the face of Green opposition. The money raised with this extra fuel tax goes towards funding renewables and coal-fired plants which can be classed as "renewable" as long as they can also burn biomass.

The result of the fuelling tax is that at least one nuclear plant is shutting down early as it would only be allowed to operate for a part of its next fuel cycle before it reached its legal "end of life" and the extra tax costs make that uneconomic.

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Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully

Robert Sneddon
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Re: Isn't it funny...

The launch vehicle is chosen to match the payload. I think the NRO has been the only customer for the full-fat Delta IV Heavy capable of putting about 25 tonnes into low earth orbit. The Atlas V mod 541 used for this launch is good for about 18 tonnes.

As for "new" engines, design and development has plateaued out with little extra performance to be gained from existing fuels. The aim now is simplicity, lower weight and manufacturing cost hence the development of the RS68/RS68A as used on the Delta IV, cheaper and simpler than the RS25 used on the Space Shuttle.

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Boss at 'Microsoft' scam support biz told to cough £000s in comp

Robert Sneddon
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Re: My preferred route

If you get THEIR credit card number then you're golden.

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Robert Sneddon
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The Scores on the Doors

I managed to get the supervisor after less than ten minutes of failing to type the Teamviewer URL correctly no matter how carefully they spelled it out for me, and I kept him on the hook for at least three or four minutes after that before he hung up on me. It only counts if they hang up, of course.

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Sticky Tahr-fy pudding: Ubuntu 14.04 slickest Linux desktop ever

Robert Sneddon
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Re: What's the point exactly?

I resize windows by click-and-drag and release when the window looks right, for example when editing images. A wireframe won't show me the final view when I release the mouse whereas a render-during-resize will. I'd have to resize several times to get the window "right" with only a wireframe to go by.

As for "perf-sapping" I've not noticed any spike in CPU usage or even the graphics card breathing heavily when I manipulate windows on screen. Does this actually happen under Linux? I'm running Windows.

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5 Eyes in the Sky: The TRUTH about Flight MH370 and SPOOKSATS

Robert Sneddon
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Keyholes

The KH-11 family of NRO satellites, the last series of big spy satellites we the public know much about have a camera mirror about eight feet across. On a good day they can image down to about 8cm per pixel at ground level, not quite able to read newspaper headlines but not far off. They can't be shot down by the Bad Guys and under international treaties it's OK to fly them over other people's countries without starting a war and they can cover everything from coast to coast in multiple passes and they're always operating.

The SR-71 could never get than a couple of hundred kilometres across foreign borders to take pictures of places of interest (usually ports and naval airbases) using small cameras from 20km up, assuming the weather co-operated, before they had to turn around and head back out to sea again. They were fuel hogs, a typical 12-hour mission involving several recon penetrations of the Bad Guys borders required as many as eight specialist air-to-air refuelling tankers orbiting safely in international airspace to keep the SR-71 flying. Eventually the Bad Guys developed SAMs that could in fact knock down an SR-71 even at altitude and speed and they stopped being viable aircraft for reconnaissance in enemy airspace except in the minds of starstruck nerds and military geeks.

As for the satellite images of sea debris we've seen being released, they're probably not degraded much if at all for public consumption. Image quality from satellites depends critically on the camera mirror size but it takes a big satellite like the KH-11 to get decent pictures and commercial observation satellites just aren't in that class.

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Report: Apple flushes 12.9-inch MaxiPad plan down the drain

Robert Sneddon
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Panasonic

have a 20" diagonal tablet for sale if you think you're person enough to handle it.

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Dell thuds down low-cost lap workstation for cheap frugal creatives or engineers

Robert Sneddon
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Re: As a lesser mortal...

I saw a posting on a blog by someone running server hardware as a workstation with 512GB of RAM installed. He did high-end music composition and kept over 300GB of music and sound samples in RAM to speed things up. I *think* he was running Windows 8 Pro.

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Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

Robert Sneddon
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M and B Radio

Anyone from Leeds remember that place when they had the M2 machine gun set up as an anti-shoplifting precaution? I don't know if it's still in business, I've not been in Leeds city centre for a few years now.

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Icahn and I will: Carl's war on eBay goes NUCLEAR over Skype

Robert Sneddon
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Didn't something happen...

...between 2005 and 2009? Knocked a few points off the Dow Jones, caused a mild worry among the international finance set, I seem to recall some events or other that might just have taken the shine off the dollar value of a tech business, now what could it have been...

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Satya Nadella shakes up Microsoft, appoints 'Scroogled' man Mark Penn as strategy chief

Robert Sneddon
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Titanic

The blundering incompetence of Mark Penn's organisation during the 2008 American quarter-finals was a major factor in costing Hillary Clinton her anointed place as the Democratic Party's hereditary nominee for the Presidential election that year. I assumed that after that debacle he had slunk off to find a big enough rock to crawl under and was lost to History and civilised company forever with only the millions of bucks he had charged her campaign in the process of sinking it to console himself with.

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Microsoft dangles carrot at SMEs, eases Windows 8 Enterprise licensing

Robert Sneddon
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Ah, Larry Ellison's next boat

I thought Oracle's latest roadmap looked a bit, um, people-intensive...

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4f/Olympias.1.JPG

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Fukushima radioactivity a complete non-issue on West Coast: Also for Fukushima locals, in fact

Robert Sneddon
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Science!

The folks tracking fallout from Fukushima in the Pacific take samples at various depths, not just the surface. There's a gradient due to upwelling and mixing between layers being somewhat limited but a lot of the Cs-134 (halflife 2 years) that's obviously from Fukushima is in very deep water (hundreds of metres down). Fukushima-derived Cs-137 (halflife 30 years) measurement is more difficult as there's still a lot of it hanging around from the 150MT total of US thermonuclear test explosions carried out in the 1950s mid-Pacific and it's well-mixed by now after sixty years or so.

As for swimming in seawater naturally-occurring potassium-40 produces about 10,000 Bq/m3, 90% beta particles and the rest quite energetic gammas. The 2Bq/m3 resulting from Cs-134 and -137 measured a few kilometres offshore from the Fukushima Daiichi plant is barely noticeable in that regard.

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Apple Mac Pro: It's a death star, not a nappy bin, OK?

Robert Sneddon
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Re: £1040 for an extra 52gb of ram???

The new Mac Pro only has two memory sockets IIRC, very limited in memory capacity for dealing with stuff like 4k video. The older Mac Pros could take up to 128GB of RAM although I've heard it said that OS/X limits out at 96GB, don't know if that's true.

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Break out the scatter cushions: Google rents out NASA blimp hangar

Robert Sneddon
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Re: Not built for blimps.

REAL giant airships have hangars for smaller airships on board. See Castle Wulfenbach for an example.

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It's Satya! Microsoft VP Nadella named CEO as Bill Gates steps down

Robert Sneddon
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Boxed DVD Win8

Lots of places selling Win8 DVDs, OEM or full-licence versions -- about 80 quid for Win8.1 and 110 quid for Win 8.1 Pro OEM from Ebuyer for example. It's where I bought my original Win8 disc from for my homebuild machine when it first came out.

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MAC TO THE FUTURE: 30 years of hindsight and smart-arsery

Robert Sneddon
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Survivors

"Okay. 1984. Who was making personal computers for sale. 2014. Who remains?"

HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic among others. There was a company called Apple Computer around back then but it doesn't exist any more since they stopped concentrating on producing computers and became a media distribution hub (iTunes).

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Elderly Bletchley Park volunteer sacked for showing Colossus exhibit to visitors

Robert Sneddon
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Conflation?

From reading a bit about the situation I get the idea that there are actually two organisations based close together on the same site, the National Museum of Computing which has a reconstruction of the Colossus code-breaking computer as well as a lot of other non-WWII-based computing exhibits and on the other side of the fence (if there is a fence) there is the Bletchley Park historical site. It apparently costs £5 to enter the NMC and £15 to visit Bletchely Park. The guide in question was apparently taking Bletchley Park visitors on a trip into the NMC without paying to show them the Colossus reconstruction and got into trouble for doing so. Is that about right?

Putting together a museum of mostly-donated computer equipment is a lot less expensive than restoring a lot of old buildings, many of them built quickly and shoddily during the war, converted for other uses afterwards and then left to rot for a few decades. As far as I can tell from the press reports the £8 million from the Lottery fund mentioned has gone exclusively to the Bletchley Park restoration project and not been used to pay for anything in the NMC, even the Colossus reconstruction.

It might have been better to site the NMC away from Bletchley Park but having the two close together has been an advantage for the visitor interested in such things despite the confusion in some people's minds that they are all part of the same organisation.

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Apple's Tim Cook: Fear not, worried investors, new product salvation is 'absolutely' on the way

Robert Sneddon
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Forgot Your Own Device

What happens in the BYOD world when you get to the office and discover you've left your "desktop" at home on the dresser? Or you drop it in a puddle waiting for the train or little Tarquin downloads a pile of virus-riddled porn onto your "desktop" the night before that big meeting?

Computing power today is cheap, data and connectivity are the expensive part of doing business these days. I can't see any benefits of a mobile device if it has to be docked to work well or at all in the office or workplace. Certainly a mobile device can be used away from the desk to keep it touch and do real work but docking it at a desk is pretty pointless if all it does then is replace two hundred quids worth of desktop PC or thin-client hardware. All the data should be on the company network, not locked up in a portable device and a cheap PC with GigE hardwired connectivity to the company servers (or the fabled cloudy-woudy thingy-wingy) is going to be a better option than trying to get a 4G signal in a typical office building.

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Ex-NSA guru builds $4m encrypted email biz - but its nemesis right now is control-C, control-V

Robert Sneddon
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Once a spook

Mr., Snowden claims he is still working for the NSA even now. Anyone claiming to be ex-NSA still has "connections", still moves in the same circles as his "ex" colleagues and if you use a product produced by someone like that to secure your data from the NSA then you are taking a lot on trust.

Of course this guy could be ex-NSA in the same way a lot of folks claim to be ex-SAS (aka a "Walter" as in Walter Mitty). No way to tell is there?

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Ban-dodging Mac Pro to hit Blighty's shops as Apple bows to fan fears

Robert Sneddon
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RAM

I hope he realises the new Mac Pro maxes out at 64GB of RAM which will put a severe crimp on doing anything memory-intensive. The older Mac Pro boxes could go as high as 96GB I think and the server-level Hackintosh community believe OS/X has a hard 128GB RAM limit as they have problems running it on anything with more memory (not a problem with Windows 8 though).

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Boffins claim battery BREAKTHROUGH – with rhubarb-like molecule

Robert Sneddon
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Wind generation

The output from metered grid connected wind turbines has been bouncing between 3 and 6GW for the past month while a series of Atlantic storms have been hammering the country with the newsreaders and pundits saying things like "unprecedented" and "worst flooding for thirty years". A couple of months ago the same network of over a thousand wind turbines produced about 50MW for a day or so as a calm high-pressure area sat over the UK.

Looking at the curves in the gridwatch site others have referenced the dataplate 7GW of installed wind capability produces on average about 2 to 2.5GW but that's an average and it can and does go way under that for hours and days on end whereas electricity demand is always with us, cyclic but predictable.

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Low power WON'T bag ARM the server crown. So here's how to upset Intel

Robert Sneddon
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Custom silicon

The problem is that demands change and today's custom silicon may be landfill a year after installation whereas general-purpose servers can be loaded with new or updated software and reused profitably for a few years more. The minor cost savings in power consumption per task completed are going to be eaten by the extra development costs anyway and the risk of having the investment written off because Facebook takes a dive or similar and dedicated hardware needs to be ripped out and skipped because it is optimised for one job and one job only is probably a bit too much.

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Tim Cook gets weensy 1.9% increase - but it's still twice an average joe's salary

Robert Sneddon
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Performance-related

The Top Knobs in business are usually on performance-related pay and bonus schemes, the better the company does under their steadfast and competent stewardship the more loot they rake in. Sadly for Mister Cook Apple's financial numbers aren't that hot -- the last quarter's earnings are flat to negative and margins (what Karl Marx called profits) are down as the company spends more to try and keep revenues up and they've also being indulging in yet more share buybacks to keep the stock ticker price inflated and avoid Wall Street looking deeper into their lackluster performance. No fat envelopes for the boss this year then.

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ARM server chip upstart Calxeda bites the dust in its quest for 64-bit glory

Robert Sneddon
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Re: Nanana ... what is Facebook HW guy doin' there

Open Commute? What a great idea! Wonder no-one ever thought of it before...

I still have an ALR promotional T-shirt I wear when painting or doing anything messy. The slogan across the back says "Just upgrade the CPU!" as that was ALR's Big Idea, PCs with an exchangeable CPU card rather than a proprietary socket on the motherboard. It didn't work out for them for a whole lot of reasons and I suspect it won't work in the server market either, given the operating life of a server in a datacentre is three or four years before the I/O, network, memory interface etc. is obsoleted by the Next Big Thing(s) and a swappable CPU isn't going to fix that. Easier and probably cheaper to just swap out the server.

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Oi, bank manager. Only you've got my email address - where're these TROJANS coming from?

Robert Sneddon
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Mail spam

Organisations like banks are made up of people, some of whom may well be supplementing their meagre salaries by selling contact lists and the like to spammers, the same way people working for police intelligence centres get caught selling data to private investigators and newspaper reporters every now and then. It doesn't necessarily need to be a Mahogany Row level decision to spam or to sell the data to spammers.

A long while back I had to sort out a billing problem when signing up for cable TV service and I created a new home address for myself, basically 111a Mystreet, Mytown etc., not an address I ever used anywhere else or gave to anyone else. A few weeks later I got a large wadge of weird religious bumf mailed to that 111a address. I figured someone at the cable company had harvested my name and address privately and taken the opportunity to give free rein to the voices in his head while spending a few quid on postage (this was a thick wadge of A3 colour photocopies). There was no financial gain for the sender (at least as far as I could figure out) or even a solicitation for money, just disjointed rambling and Jesus clip art.

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Tube be or not tube be: Apple’s CYLINDRICAL Mac Pro is out tomorrow

Robert Sneddon
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Bin and gone

Ah, found it -- http://www.amazon.co.jp/dp/B0018NRM9U/

3300 yen is about 20 quid in real money. If that's not enough computing power, try this:

http://www.amazon.co.jp/%E3%83%97%E3%83%AD%E3%82%B8%E3%82%A7%E3%82%AF%E3%83%88%CE%BC-PM-PROKIT-ProjectM-TUBELOR%E7%94%A8PC%E5%8C%96%E3%83%95%E3%83%AC%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A0%E3%82%AD%E3%83%83%E3%83%88%E3%80%8CPro%E3%83%95%E3%83%AC%E3%83%BC%E3%83%A0KIT%E3%80%8D/dp/B00GRRUB5E/

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Robert Sneddon
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Re: FCPX

Only three 4k displays? That all?

Just had a look on the Apple website -- apparently this monster of a workstation limits out at 64GB of RAM.

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Robert Sneddon
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Dustbin of the Future

A couple of days after the new Mac Pro was announced someone pointed out Amazon.jp were already selling an almost identical device at a fraction of the price. It was a small kitchen countertop wastebin of about the same dimensions, rounded corners etc. Wish I could find a link to it...

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That Google ARM love-in: They want it for their own s*** and they don't want Bing having it

Robert Sneddon
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Re: This is business

Electricity is cheap if you buy it in industrial quantities on long-term contracts and spending a billion dollars on developing and building custom processing engines and racking them in data centres to save fifty million dollars a year on power and cooling isn't very cost-effective.

Remember that a server's power drain isn't just the CPU and a 45W TDP Intel CPU with big caches and fast I/O and a single set of RAM, support chips etc. will be a lot more capable than few 5W ARM devices while they will need their own support chips, RAM drivers etc. I'm not sure the actual power savings are there to be had given the computational load the server array needs to meet. It's fun to piss on Intel for being a dinosaur staying focussed on the x86 architecture but they've spent a lot of time and effort getting power consumption down over the past few years while maintaining the processing capabilities. ARMs' approach has been to try and improve their capabilities without letting their power consumption grow too fast but tablets are evidence this is a problem for them -- the latest iPads have three times the battery capacity of the original iPad 1 to provide a similar runtime.

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Robert Sneddon
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Re: Google

Building their own silicon means building their own servers around that silicon and then restructuring their code to run on those servers. That's going to cost billions and take years. They've then got to provide power for these lower-power servers and the savings from that reduced demand will be in the millions, maybe tens of millions -- these servers still need power after all, hopefully less than before to meet Google's mission of delivering services and harvesting data overall. I don't see the payback being worth the upfront cost.

If they're that worried about energy costs then why don't they spend money on building combined-cycle gas-turbine generating capacity and sell the surplus to the local grids where they operate? Yes I know they're building solar plants in a few places but they are intended to offset their grid consumption, they don't provide 24/7/365 operation power.

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Robert Sneddon
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Google

Google's the search engine and customer data harvesting business, right? Why in the thirty-two Hells of Carmack would they want to get into building their own hardware especially at the silicon level? They're planning to spend billions to save millions, as far as I can see.

There are a bunch of startups building low-powered ARM servers for data centres, highly-compressed blocks of processing power eminently suitable (so they claim) for web service work where heavy number crunching and data IOPS aren't the priority. If Google want to diversify away from Intel, buying up one or more of those wannabees or simply placing an order with a lot of zeros after the first digit for their product would be less expensive and take less time to get the the new machines spinning up and going online.

It may be this is just a sign Google's got too much money and no idea what to do with it, a bit like Apple building their $5 billion mothership in Cupertino.

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I KNOW how to SAVE Microsoft. Give Windows 8 away for FREE – analyst

Robert Sneddon
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Re: 32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

Yes, there is a 64-bit version of XP. I don't know of anyone who runs it now or indeed anyone who ever ran it. From what I understand a lot of hardware didn't have 64-bit-compatible drivers and running 32-bit apps under it was a pain. I'm speculating wildly here but I'd guess that 98% of all Win XP installs were the 32-bit Home or Pro versions with the resulting RAM and hard drive limits I mentioned. I don't know what the market for Embedded XP is/was (I've seen some kit in the past couple of years with Win NT4 still running on it in kiosk mode and of course DOS is still king on many factory floors).

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Robert Sneddon
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Re: This would actually KILL Microsoft

No, the folks who assured you of that were lying to you. I installed Windows 8 from an OEM CD onto a homebuilt machine, it went on first time of asking and picked up all the drivers for the onboard video, USB2 and USB3 ports etc. and Just Worked. Linux on the other hand...

The real miracle occurred when the motherboard flaked out on me after about a year of operation. I bought another similar (Northbridge etc.) motherboard from a different manufacturer and with some trepidation switched over the Win8 boot SSD which Just Worked again even though most of the drivers were wrong -- basically it saw the hardware changes and sorted them out for me as best it could. The only thing I had to fix manually was the sound system driver which was five minutes work in the end. I did have to reactivate the installation licence later using MS's automated phone deal but being careful about listening to the numbers being read out I got it right first time.

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Robert Sneddon
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32 bit OS in a 64-bit world.

Win XP is a 32-bit OS, limited to 4GB of RAM addressing and it can only cope with single disk volumes of up to 2TB. Win7 and Win8 don't suffer from those limits -- I'm surprised your CAE programs work well under XP with a limit of only 4GB of RAM, most toolmakers have released 64-bit versions to take advantage of better and more powerful hardware over the past few years.

Win8 has a backwards-capability option for older programs. I just got a fifteen-year-old design package, an old version of Corel Draw working correctly on my Win8 box by running it with a "Win7" compatibility setting. It didn't work under the "XP" option for some reason and glitched when running natively under Win8. Its sister package PhotoPaint (also 15 years old) runs perfectly well directly under Win8 without the need for a compatibility wrapper.

If all else fails you could spin up a VM under Windows 8 and run those older programs under 32-bit XP and still have a modern 64-bit OS for all your other computing needs.

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When the lights went out: My 'leccy-induced, bog floor crawling HORROR

Robert Sneddon
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like Grains of Tritium

I've got one of those tritium-capsule thingies hanging on a desklamp in my bedroom so I know where the lightswitch is. I got it mail-order from some bunch of shysters on the Web somewhere, I forget their name but their website's logo had a vulture's head on it, now who could they have been...

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Robert Sneddon
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Stars in my Pocket

I got one of those things we used to joke about years ago, a solar-powered torch, from a hundred-yen store in Akihabara. Small calculator-sized solar panel, a tiny rechargeable battery and three white LEDs on the front. Runs for several minutes and charges on the desk -- wirelessly! -- when the lights are on. Only thing better would be a RTG-powered torch.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.2: Tablet PC, CRT screen and more

Robert Sneddon
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Re: Model M

I have a little project on the back burner, hacking up an old USB keyboard to provide a separate custom keypad as an adjunct to my Model M, with plans to include a Windows key in the array. I've still got a box of old Cherry keyswitches somewhere I salvaged from a dead keyboard way back when...

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Elon Musk scrubs lucrative MONEY RING debut again on Thanksgiving

Robert Sneddon
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Re: Whoops

The various spacecraft that fly to the ISS have different roles; Soyuz is the only man-carrying system, the ATV carries large amounts of liquids and propellants as well as solid supplies and is used to boost the station in orbit, the SpaceX Dragon capsule can return material to Earth and so on. Supply runs are almost an incidental part of any mission. There's also the Progress cargo ships and of course the Japanese Kounotori unmanned supply ships which are often not mentioned when talking about ISS logistics; they have a vacuum-pallet component to carry experiments that are going to be deployed on the outside of the ISS.

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