* Posts by Michael Strorm

236 posts • joined 11 Feb 2008

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Who would code a self-destruct feature into their own web browser? Oh, hello, Apple

Michael Strorm

Re: Goat Kebabs

"Wouldn't returning the goat a pound lighter affect his chances of a refund?"

Depends whether the goat had agreed to the rather onerous non-payment penalties when it first took out that 3000 ducat loan it got into trouble with.

Should have gone to a bank instead of a merchant of venison and goat meat.

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Back to the Future's DeLorean is coming back to the future

Michael Strorm

Re: A couple points ...

I guess those American regulations explain the pig-fugly bumpers plastered on to European designs like the American MG B or- even worse- their version of the Fiat Strada/Ritmo.

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Islamic fundamentalists force Yorkshire IT shop to chop off brand

Michael Strorm

Re: If Only...

There's a shop near my work called "Trading Solutions".

Any guesses what they do? No?

They're a mobile phone repair shop.

It's a crap name partly because of the stupid appropriation of the aforementioned big-business-cliche by the owner of a small two-bit business who doesn't get- or care about- the connotations or meaning of "solutions". Only that it makes them sound like a Big Important Business (the modern equivalent of delusions-of-grandeur white-van-in-a-suburban-driveway companies shoving "International" in their names).

But there's also the even more obvious crapness of it not actually explaining a f*****g thing about what the business does. Granted, you can tell this anyway from seeing all the cheap-tat mobile phone cases and misspelled signs through the window, but it's still crap. If it sounds like anything, it sounds like a B2B services company.

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Come on kids, let's go play in the abandoned nuclear power station

Michael Strorm

Re: Nice read == agree we need more of these articles.

Did you go swimming in the pool?

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Dixons Carphone to shut down 134 shops

Michael Strorm

Re: So. How long is the shop banner going to be?

@Anonymous Coward; Says a lot about how names become so familiar you don't think about them when you choose the "Warehouse" bit as being "so 1990s", but miss the fact it's got the even more anachronistic "carphone" in its name! :-)

(You might be interested to note that it's apparently known as "Phone House" outside the UK and Ireland).

FWIW, Carphone Warehouse was apparently founded in 1989, so wasn't the phrase "car phone" already a bit anachronistic by then? Bearing in mind that that the 1G analogue networks that replaced the aforementioned car phones with this (#) had already launched in the mid-80s (and, I'd assume, were already rendering the old-style car phones obsolete).

(#) The phone, that is, not Sigue Sigue Sputnik or Janet Steet Porter.

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Imation sells off the family jewels

Michael Strorm

Re: licensing the brand

The problem is, good tablet or not, that was probably more by luck than design.

Remember that the actual seller is likely just some random third-party distributor (and little more) that licensed the name. Chances are they slapped it on a generic tablet design from China and it's quite possible- if not probable- that the next "Polaroid" tablet model from them could be based upon an entirely different device from an entirely unrelated OEM manufacturer to the one that made your tablet.

In fact, it's quite possible that the "Polaroid" tablet-branding license can- and will- expire at some point and in future be held by a completely different company with entirely different sourcing arrangements.

In other words, the name is essentially meaningless. Especially as such low-rent, short-term distribution deals will encourage no sort of concern about protecting the brand. A few years back, there were loads of Polaroid-branded LCD televisions getting consistently lousy reviews on epinions and the like.

Currently, ASDA have the rights to the Polaroid brand in the UK for audiovisual equipment. Don't know how long *that* deal will last, but it puts it on the level of Technika and Matsui.

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Michael Strorm

Re: licensing the brand

You're right that it's pretty misleading for companies to license their name to third party companies. While rebadging third-party products was never uncommon for products outside a company's field of expertise, it takes that a step further to not even have the original company behind that process (nor accept responsibility for it). That's not new- as you point out- but it does seem to be much worse these days.

FWIW, Kodak *is* still the original company, albeit somewhat pared down since it was forced to sell of parts of itself before and during bankruptcy (which they came out of). That said, depending on how far they're forced to go, they could end up as little more than a brand licensing operation anyway, regardless of their legal status.

Polaroid, OTOH, did completely go under, and the "new" Polaroid is a different company. Well, actually, the "new" Polaroid itself went belly-up, so we're on Polaroid #3 now, and a lot of the "Polaroid" products you see out there are just generic tat with third party distributors licensing the name from the "Polaroid" company which isn't the original Polaroid anyway.

TDK licensed their name to Imation (until very recently) when the latter bought out their recording business; I don't know how long they continued using TDK's old plants, but I'm pretty sure the random consumer tat the name was slapped on latterly had sod all to do with them.

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Michael Strorm

Re: Is It Live, Or Is It... Well, What, Exactly?

As I commented elsewhere, their TDK license (for consumer media) was already ended late last year, so it won't be included in that $9.4m.

Can't see TDK themselves returning to that market, but given that it would have cost them $7.5m in shares to get use of their name back (at the current price of $1.13 per share for 6.5 million shares) I'd assume it might get re-licensed..?

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Michael Strorm

That explains the TDK decision...

The sale of the Memorex brand and claims they want to get rid of "legacy" businesses seems to explain their decision to give up the TDK brand license in exchange for some concessions last autumn. (They'd acquired the right to use it on consumer media when they bought out TDK's recordable media business in 2007.)

Removable media in general seems to be in serious decline in the consumer market. In particular, blank BD-R recording has been around for quite a while now, is pretty cheap (under 30p a disc) yet doesn't seem to have come close to where DVD-R was at this stage, and the latter seems to have passed its peak.

I suspected it was a combination of Imation's focus moving away from that declining market- where TDK's name held the most cachet (and even that was more in the magnetic tape days)- and possibly TDK's desire to get full control of their name back if Imation were willing to return it on favourable terms.

That said, while being able to use their name in the consumer market without hindrance (#) might be marginally useful, TDK themselves seem to be more focused on business-to-business components these days and I can't see them returning to the consumer media business (except possibly by re-licensing the brand). Big name in their day, but things have moved on and if there were good reasons they got out of that market in the first place, they probably apply even more now.

(#) I'm assuming there were terms that restricted TDK themselves using their own name in areas that would compete with Imation's licensed use of the name.

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Smartphone hard, dudes, like it’s the end of the world!

Michael Strorm

Re: how times change

@ Seajay#; The Enterteinment Weekly thing doesn't really count as that was quite obviously a publicity stunt they'd have taken a loss on. The article states they only produced 1000 of those "special" magazines.

Pretty sure it more than paid for itself with the intended result of getting them in the news though.

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Debian Linux founder Ian Murdock dead at 42

Michael Strorm

Re: RIP

Was going to reply earlier, but was busy- came back to see others had made very similar points to those I'd intended.

If you hadn't posted this under (nominally) your own name via an established account, I'd have dismissed it as a troll, or at least a transparent attempt to smear the open-source community under some vague premise.

You're taking two very different cases, comparing Ian Murdock's situation with that of the guy that killed his wife, and then you're using these isolated cases as the basis for suspicion regarding the (huge) open source community in general? Seriously?

And yeah, I thought that the whole thing was somewhat inappropriate at this time as well; I wasn't sure whether to give you the benefit of the doubt on whether "Diebian" was a typo or not.

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Would sir care to see the post-pub nosh menu?

Michael Strorm

Re: Bravo!

@Robert Helpmann??; "I set up a cheap tablet on a book stand in the kitchen for just this purpose."

Lightweight.

I miss the good old days when we used our $10,000 Honeywell Kitchen Computers and flipped switches while reading the binary light output.

All that effort just so we could prepare the evening meal of 01010100 01101000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01100010 01101100 01110101 01110010 01100010 00100000 01101110 01101111 01101101 01101001 01101110 01100001 01101100 01101100 01111001 00100000 01110010 01100101 01110000 01110010 01100101 01110011 01100101 01101110 01110100 01110011 00100000 01100001 00100000 01100110 01101111 01101111 01100100 01110011 01110100 01110101 01100110 01100110 00101100 00100000 01100010 01110101 01110100 00100000 01001001 00100111 01101101 00100000 01101110 01101111 01110100 00100000 01100001 01100011 01110100 01110101 01100001 01101100 01101100 01111001 00100000 01110100 01100001 01101100 01101011 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01100001 01100010 01101111 01110101 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00101110 00100000 01001001 00100111 01101101 00100000 01100001 01100100 01100100 01110010 01100101 01110011 01110011 01101001 01101110 01100111 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101111 01101110 01100101 00100000 01110000 01110010 01100001 01110100 00100000 01101001 01101110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100011 01101111 01110101 01101110 01110100 01110010 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101000 01101111 00100111 01110011 00100000 01100010 01101111 01110100 01101000 01100101 01110010 01100101 01100100 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110100 01100001 01101011 01100101 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01100010 01101001 01101110 01100001 01110010 01111001 00100000 01100100 01110010 01101001 01110110 01100101 01101100 00101100 00100000 01100011 01101111 01101110 01110110 01100101 01110010 01110100 00100000 01101001 01110100 00100000 01101001 01101110 01110100 01101111 00100000 01110100 01100101 01111000 01110100 00101100 00100000 01100001 01101110 01100100 00100000 01100001 01100011 01110100 01110101 01100001 01101100 01101100 01111001 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101011 00100000 01101111 01110101 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01110010 01110101 01100010 01100010 01101001 01110011 01101000 00100000 01001001 00100111 01101101 00100000 01110100 01111001 01110000 01101001 01101110 01100111 00101110 00100000 01010111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01100001 00100000 01110000 01101111 01101111 01110010 00100000 01110011 01100001 01100100 00100000 01101100 01101001 01100110 01100101 00100000 01101000 01100101 00100111 01110011 00100000 01100111 01101111 01110100 00100001 00100000 00101000 01010100 01101000 01100001 01101110 01101011 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00101100 00100000 01010010 01100101 01100100 00100000 01000100 01110111 01100001 01110010 01100110 00101001 . With Instant Whip and tinned peaches in syrup for afters.

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Google chap bakes Amiga emulator into Chrome

Michael Strorm

Re: A mear shadow of the Beast!

"It's market got pinched - the gamers went to consoles, the home computer folk bought PCs."

Yeah, that's *exactly* how I remember it.

I bought my Amiga at the tail-end of 1991, at which point it still seemed like *the* machine to own, but in hindsight it was probably just passing its peak as the Mega Drive was up and coming fast and the PC was gaining ground at the high end.

I remember that a year or so later (early 1993), it had become subtly clear that the Amiga was no longer *the* format for pirated games at school, and the focus those was shifting to the PC. Doom- one of the defining games of its era, and the one that *made* the FPS genre- coming out on the PC at the end of 1993 effectively made clear that the Amiga's reign was over, with it now playing wannabe catchup with the PCs and the consoles.

The CD32 enjoyed some success as a low-end cash cow (being basically a cut-down A1200 with CD drive and planar chip, it probably didn't need much development cost or huge sales numbers) but would have been killed off quite quickly by the PlayStation even if C= hadn't gone bankrupt a year before that came out in Europe.

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Michael Strorm

Atari STe... what was *that* all about?

You're saying that the Amiga sometimes crashed when you chose to run other applications at the same time, whereas the ST didn't crash because you didn't have the choice to run two applications at once anyway? Hmm...

(I've mentioned on more than one occasion that most of the benefits of \Amiga OS didn't rely significantly- AFAICT- on the custom hardware, which brings up the under-considered possibility that the ST- with the same 68000 CPU (clocked marginally faster) would probably have been quite capable of running it with little change).

Anyway, I was the other way around to you- I traded my Atari 520STFM in for an Amiga after a year of owning *that*, and I never regretted the decision.

From what I knew (and have heard since), the STE was a sort of half-baked attempt to improve the base ST spec. It increased the palette from 512 to 4096 colours, but still only allowed 16 on-screen (which was the main limiting factor in the first place). It had sampled sound- great in theory, but apparently it only allowed a limited range of sample playback rates- crap if you want to play music, since you then need multiple samples to get a full octave.

What were they trying to achieve with the STE anyway? It *would* have been an effective way of (slightly) countering the threat from the falling price of the Amiga if it had replaced the SFTM at the same price (#), but it didn't- they charged more for it and kept selling the former. (##)

This probably explains why the STE's extra facilities didn't get much support. Who would pay more for the STE since most people who were prepared to do that would have gone for the Amiga anyway?

The fact that the STFM remained as the base model meant that more of them- and less STEs- would have been sold, increasing the tendency to write to the base spec, and decreasing any reason for supporting the STE (which in turn made it less worthwhile to spend the extra on the STE instead of the STFM; typical vicious circle).

Had the STE replaced the STFM, enough of them would eventually have got into circulation by default that it might have been worth developers' time to support the enhanced features.

As it stood, why pay more for an STE if the extra features weren't supported, when the Amiga was already out there (###)? And why support the STE if most of the STs being sold were STFMs?

(#) My suspicion is that this was the original intent, and Atari got greedy and/or messed it up, similar to the debacle with the Amiga 600 (which should have been the cheap Amiga 300 but was positioned as the replacement for the Amiga 500 at the same price; this, interestingly was around the time that the Amiga was in turn being threatened by the Mega Drive and PC at either end. The true successor- the Amiga 1200- came out a few months later, so why bother?)

(##) They did do this eventually, but by mid-1991 it was already too late. I could easily have replaced my SFTM with an STE instead of an Amiga, but I certainly didn't want to.

(##) Particularly as it was around this point that the Amiga's decreasing cheapness- and increasing userbase- meant games aimed at it took advantage of its technical superiority, unlike the early 16-bit era where most had been little different to the ST versions.

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Michael Strorm

Re: Ahh, Amiga

"And pre-emptive multitasking in 1985 as well, something most consumer grade Operating Systems didn't have until 2000 (Windows XP and OSX)"

To be fair, Windows 95- while based upon MS-DOS- had pre-emptive multitasking, the first consumer version of Windows to do so, in 1995. That was still ten years after the Amiga 1000, though.

Even the non-consumer Windows NT, the first Windows to have pre-emptive multitasking at all, came out in 1993, the better part of a decade after the Amiga.

Windows 3.0 and 3.1- the first really successful versions- only came out in the early 1990s and still had crappy co-operative multitasking that (for example) locked up the whole computer when you tried to telnet into a remote BBS that wasn't responding for whatever reason. You had to wait until the connection timed out and the telnet client decided to "co-operate" again. Nice.

(Cue the "ah, but pre-emptive multitasking was useless without memory protection" crowd. Yeah, it was far from perfect, but it was still miles better than stupid, hacky kludges like TSR under MS-DOS. The fact that they bothered with those shows that even with single-tasking DOS users there obviously *was* a need to run other programs at the same time, even if only for basic disc formatting, and other simple uses.)

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Kids' TV show Rainbow in homosexual agenda shocker

Michael Strorm

BINGO. The gay pride flag was apparently created in the late-1970s, by which point "Rainbow" had been on the air for several years.

In both cases, it probably had more to do with the fact that rainbows seem to have been a relatively common graphical motif in the 1970s.

(Similarly, the rainbow-striped Apple logo which people try to rationalise with an Alan Turing association- because Turing was gay- came out (no pun intended) in 1977, the year *before* the gay pride flag).

It's like how "bow chukka wow" wah-wah pedal guitar music is associated with porn now. The fact it became associated with porn in the first place has more to do with the fact that style of music was in fashion when porn first became reasonably widespread in the early 1970s. If porn had come along ten years later (i.e. during the early 1980s), stereotypical "porn music" would likely have been synth-based or something similar.

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Rounded corners on Android phones cost Samsung $548m: It will pay up to Apple after all

Michael Strorm

Re: Apple got too much credit for forcing their users to buy external floppies...

@ Just Enough; Click of Death.

Maybe this has been overstated- I don't know, as I didn't use Zip discs myself, but it's certainly commonly mentioned in conjunction with the format.

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Michael Strorm

Apple got too much credit for forcing their users to buy external floppies...

"Who dumped the Floppy and got laughed at, then everyone else drops the floppy ?"

As I've already said...

"Is this the same iMac that everyone who owned one rushed out and bought a transparent-plastic-clad external floppy drive for? I do believe that it is!

Remember that the first iMac only included a CD *reader*. CD writers were still a couple of years from being cheap enough to be a realistic "base" option at this point, and dirt-cheap pen drives were even further off. The only built-in way of sharing information was via a dial-up Internet connection. The fact that the iMac was a major success doesn't change the fact that leaving out the floppy without a practical alternative in place was jumping the gun."

It's certainly true that the capacity of the 1.44 MB floppy disk was *already* getting badly out of sync with user needs at a time when typical hard drives were already several gigabytes in size and increasing rapidly, and even the CD-ROMs that were by then commonplace could hold several hundred megabytes.

The only reason it hadn't been replaced is that there was no universally-accepted alternative at a near-enough "base" price (even the now-notorious but once-popular Zip drives didn't quite get there). Regardless, the motivation for a true replacement to the floppy was clearly there, with or without the iMac.

Apple may deserve some credit for pushing USB along- its time *had* arguably arrived by that point, and it was already in many PCs, it just wasn't that well-supported.

But credit for *not* doing something- i.e. missing out the floppy- and providing no real alternative (not even a writable CD)? I don't think so.

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Oracle confesses to quietly axing its UK software support centre

Michael Strorm

Remember that MySQL was always dual-licensed

@JEDIDIAH; Remember that MySQL was- and is- dual licensed. Contributions to the official MySQL development stream required their copyright to be signed over to the MySQL company (later owned by Sun).

This means that they could- and did- offer it under non-GPL terms to customers who preferred that for various reasons. (That, in fact, *was* the business model, along with support, AFAICT). This doesn't negate any rights offered by its pre-existent release under GPL terms, it's simply the copyright owner exerting their right to offer it to other people under different terms if they so wish.

The same dual-licensing option is theoretically open to any GPLed project, but isn't usually practical if there are a large number of disparate copyright holders who must all agree to it; now you can see why MySQL wanted the *ownership* of the copyright signed over to them, even though they agreed to- and did- release it under the GPL.

Thus Sun retained that right when they bought MySQL, as now do Oracle. Oracle could in theory build a non-GPL version of MySQL on top of the existing version, and make all future versions non-free. They can't stop people forking the GPLed versions (even if they had *additionally* been released under an alternate license too) and they can't pull off the same trick with forks of those versions- such as MariaDB- since the copyright to subsequent changes won't have been signed over to them.

(OTOH, MariaDB can't create a non-free version of itself without either getting Oracle and all the other copyright holder's permission and/or rewriting all those parts!)

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Remember Windows 1.0? It's been 30 years (and you're officially old)

Michael Strorm

When the article says "new way to navigate a PC", I assume they mean it in the "IBM PC compatible" (#) sense, rather than the general use of the phrase.

Anyway, the Commodore Amiga was already out by that point too, with a more flexible GUI than the PC (or ST) (##) and proper pre-emptive multitasking that even Windows 3.1 couldn't manage years later. (###)

Yeah, I know people are going to say "it wasn't that useful because the lack of memory protection meant a single program could bring your whole system down". True, but it was still useful and better than the stupid hacks and specifically-written utilities needed under DOS (and IIRC the ST) to do other things that weren't included in the program you were currently running.

Half of DOS's (and the PC's) complexity and those stupid config files that people took pride in being able to configure were only necessary because MS-DOS was just a 16-bit workalike of CP/M, i.e. an OS designed for limited 8-bit architectures, and everything had to be plastered on later while retaining compatibility.

It annoys me when people (e.g. my Dad) who don't know better because they went from 8-bits to the PC excuse this as being "that's how computers were in those days". No, that's how PCs running the hackily-updated derivative of a 1970s OS called MS-DOS worked.

Admittedly the Amiga was never well-enough supported in terms of "serious" apps- so I don't blame people for using PCs for that reason- and it was allowed to rest on its laurels too much until both PC hardware and OSes caught up with and eventually surpassed it. But it deserves credit for what it did in its day.

(#) That particular phrase itself now having the air of anachronism about it- when was the last time you heard it used?

(##) Yeah, I'm trying to reignite the Amiga vs. ST holy war. Bring it on! ;-)

(##) My archetypal example of the limitations of Windows' 3.1's co-operative multitasking was telnetting into an Internet-based bulletin board circa 1994, the remote server not responding, and the whole damn system locking up until the connection finally timed out because telnet wasn't sufficiently co-operative.

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Michael Strorm

Re: Am I splitting hairs

@Danny 14; Uncle Slacky specifically qualified his comment with "(consumer) Windows" though, and Windows 2000 was never sold as a consumer OS.

While this may have been the original plan, it was abandoned, and the plan to move the consumer line to an NT base had to wait until XP. This is probably the only reason that the runt-of-the-litter, dead-end, DOS-derived Windows ME was ever released in the first place- as a quickly thrown-together stop-gap.

Given that it was only around for a year before XP came out (and that 98 and 98 SE were quite well-received IIRC), you wonder why they bothered with ME at all. Suggests that they might not have been too confident about getting XP out?

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Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond

Michael Strorm

[SA]HatfulOfHollow's classic comment that keeps on giving...

"I once commented nicely to ESR on his site and he threatened to shoot me - over the internet?!"

Brilliant! Sounds like he was getting a little ahead of himself there, we haven't even figured out how to stab people in the face over the Internet yet. :-)

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The iPhone 6 doused in bromine - an incendiary mix or not?

Michael Strorm

Re: Dioxygen difluoride

Things I Won't Work With's take on FOOF.

Also, sand won't save you this time.

(Archive.org links used because site seems to be down again).

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Crash this beauty? James Bond's concept DB10 Aston debuts in Spectre

Michael Strorm

Re: Meh

"The Aston reminds me of a Ford Puma."

That's ironic, because I always thought the current Ford "corporate grille" and front end (but not the Puma's) looked like a blatant ripoff of Aston Martin's...

...and apparently I'm not the only person who thinks this. After I'd written the paragraph above, I searched on "Ford Fiesta grille" for an image to illustrate the point- only to notice that the image I'd homed in on as the best example actually came from an Aston Martin related page saying exactly the same thing!

Edit: Just noticed that while I was writing this, Phuzz made a post with the same point as well!

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Ireland moves to scrap 1 and 2 cent coins

Michael Strorm

Re: Works in Canada

"A lot of [Canadians] were emptying their pockets of pennies at home because they were too much bother to carry around, so the pennies were accumulating in drawers instead of circulating."

That's *exactly* what I do with 1p and 2p coins. They're bloody useless.

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You can hack a PC just by looking at it, say 3M and HP

Michael Strorm

Please... won't someone think of Corbis?

Don't they realise that this would decimate stock image libraries' investment in office types crowding round a corporate laptop?

(Fact: Such images constitute approximately 47% of all stock photos in existence. Another 35% consists of groups of socialising woman apparently laughing at something highly amusing one of them has just said, while showing off their perfect white teeth and- in a very odd coincidence- none of them happen to have their eyes shut nor have been caught in an awkward-looking mid-expression change, like always happens when anyone normal tries taking such a photo).

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The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

Michael Strorm

Re: Max Headroom

@Frank Bough; Re: the background graphics, I was only going by what was written in the Wikipedia article (hence "apparently") which claims that the Amiga was used for backgrounds in the later US TV show and they were originally done by hand by the same guy that did the pseudo-computer-displays for the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy TV show. Neither of these claims are referenced, though, so I've no idea where they came from.

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Michael Strorm

Re: It's a shame

That's very interesting, thanks for the story. Despite vaguely remembering Cyrix from when I was choosing my first PC in the late 90s, I'd never even heard of UMC let alone been aware of that story until now. Strange!

I should have been clearer though; I was talking about *Intel's* chips specifically and how they hadn't been "true" x86 since the Pentium Pro/II. Specifically, I hadn't been sure about AMD, but guessed they'd probably ended up doing something similar to avoid being backed into the same corner as Intel- your comment on them was interesting.

Ditto the RISC comment; I don't know if Intel's own underlying designs were or weren't truly RISC, and assuming it was only accessible via the x86 layer in normal use, there's no reason (in theory) they couldn't have used two or several completely unrelated microarchitectures without affecting compatibility.

(Interestingly, about 15 years ago, before I was aware of the Pentium Pro's background, I remember reading in a textbook about how ludicrously complex the x86 design was becoming with all the legacy cruft and wondering how on *earth* they were able to do anything with all that baggage. Well... I guess they cheated, sort of!)

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Michael Strorm

Re: Pretty sure...

Interestingly, despite the fact it *did* include quite a bit of innovative CGI, the majority of Tron's "high tech" look was done using non-digital masking, layering, film processing techniques and backlighting. (#)

It certainly wasn't the first film to use any of these techniques- indeed, backlit animation was very popular in the early 80s for that neon/computer look back when real CGI was limited and expensive. However, it's been observed that it was probably the first (and will likely remain the only (##)) film to use them in such an ambitious and extensive manner- basically, every scene inside the computer that isn't CGI uses these film processing techniques to some extent.

Ironically, Tron's reputation as groundbreaking CGI has overshadowed this (also impressive) use of traditional filmmaking techniques in such an original way.

(#) See my comment on "Max Headroom" elsewhere for another example of early-CGI-that-wasn't-actually-CGI-at-all.

(##) I say this because- with the huge technical advances and reductions in cost of actual CGI since Tron came out- there's no way anyone would do it that way today. Even if they wanted to replicate exact the same appearance and feel, it would still be so much easier to do that digitally, no-one with that sort of budget would do it the incredibly tedious and error-prone analogue way.

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Michael Strorm

Max Headroom

@ Little Mouse; The irony- as I suspect you know, but others might not- being that Max Headroom himself wasn't CGI at all, but actor Matt Frewer wearing a load of prosthetics. I'm not sure anything approaching Headroom's appearance would have been possible- let alone practical- with computers of the time. (People- even intentionally fake-looking ones like Headroom- were always much harder to do convincingly for early CGI than shiny, flat-surfaced spaceships and plastic balls).

Admittedly the effect was enhanced (I'm assuming) by what would then have been state-of-the-art digital editing effects et al, but that's still not CGI in itself. The rather simpler background graphics in some later episodes were apparently created on an Amiga, but that's hardly in the same league of complexity.

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Tear teardown down, roars Apple: iFixit app yanked from store

Michael Strorm

Re: Bigger picture

On top of agreeing with Lurker's response, I'll add...

"Their market, their rules."

...which he's entitled to use his free speech to criticise whether or not he actually went down that path (and it sounds more like he was discussing it hypothetically).

As I've already commented countless times (because this line of argument keeps cropping up), this is...

"a misapprehension *way* too common these days- that because a free market exists, or because it's a free country and no-one is forcing someone to do something, that somehow people have no moral right to criticise something? e.g. in response to iWatch criticism, "Don't Like the iWatch? No-one's pointing a gun at your head to make you buy it"- implication, you have no moral right to criticise it for that reason.

Taken to its logical conclusion, no-one would have the right to criticise *anything* they didn't have to buy.

A close relative of this is- again, in response to criticism- saying (e.g.) Apple or whoever are a free company to develop and sell what they like. Implication, what you said infringes on that freedom- no, it doesn't- they still have the freedom to do that, and others have the freedom to say what they like about it.

Freedom cuts both ways, but too often fanboys- without even realising how entitled, hypocritical and/or misguided they're being- expect that freedom to work in their favour but somehow think it protects *them* against that supposed infringement of their freedom.

Except that there's no such infringement- freedom of speech does not imply freedom from criticism- quite the opposite, to do so would be to suppress *others'* free speech- and criticism itself in no way affects your freedom of speech (unless expressed in a clearly menacing manner). End of rant... but see how often you can spot this mentality; it's annoyingly common."

["Fanboys" here can also be extended to people who picture themselves as would-be defenders of the "free" market but act as if criticism of a particular company is an attack on that free market, rather than the complete opposite, i.e. someone exerting *their* freedom to legitimate opinion, imparting the *free* exchange of information that proponents of efficient free markets advocate.]

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Doctor Who returns to our screens next week – so, WHO is the worst Time Lord of them all?

Michael Strorm

Re: Having met two of them...

@chr0m4t1c; Yes, essentially that's what I was trying to say when I said "strong character". I guess maybe if you'd grown up with 7 years of Baker, Davison might have seemed bland.

I've heard it said that Baker was grumpier and more downbeat during his final season (#)- apparently this reflected changes behind the camera- so maybe that's why I didn't take to him as much. But as I said, it's also the fact that I didn't have the 7 years worth of Baker memories that older viewers would have that probably lent a less biased gloss to my viewing of his successor.

They obviously wanted to Davison's successor to contrast again- but that obviously deliberate attempt at a "huge presence" Doctor (i.e. Baker #2's portrayal (##)) was quite clearly misjudged in hindsight.

(#) The only one season I really remember. As I said, I remember the "tunnel" titles changing to the "starry" ones, so I must have already been watching when the former were still in use, but I don't really remember anything about those episodes beyond vague memories of wanting to see Daleks.

(##) I just thought... they did "The Three/Five/Two/Sixteen-and-a-half Doctors", why not "The Two Bakers"? ;-)

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Michael Strorm

Re: Having met two of them...

For a long time there seemed to be a media consensus that Peter Davison's portrayal was a disappointing, lightweight followup to Tom Baker that started the show's slow decline in the 80s. It's interesting that this seems to have changed in the past few years, with far more people taking a positive view.

It's probably fair to say that whatever one thinks of Baker, the length of his reign and the strong character of his portrayal defined the Doctor for large swathes of people- *anyone* following him was going to have a hard time. I think the change is down to those of us not old enough to remember Baker well- if at all (and thus not having judged Davison in his shadow to the same extent) now being established adults, as well as many of those who watched the shows later being in a similar position.

I started watching Doctor Who at the tail end of Tom Baker's reign. (#) But- sacriligeous as it is to say this (##)- I preferred Peter Davison and he's probably "my" Doctor. In some respects I can understand why those who grew up with Baker felt that way- but Davison was an intentionally different Doctor.

Colin Baker I didn't like at all in the beginning. IIRC that improved slightly, to the point I was slightly sorry to see him go. I've seen bits of his stories since, and I'm still not sure to be honest, but it's hard to judge him given the ultimately misjudged character development he was given, along with the then-state of the show in general. In hindsight, it's clear some of the problems I associated with the McCoy era (pantomime tackiness) started here.

Sylvester McCoy- maybe lacked a bit of gravitas for my taste, but again, hard to judge fairly- the majority of the dislike aimed at him probably had more to do with the scripts and the state of the show itself. I remember being unhappy about the increasingly pantomime-like direction it was taking during his era, but in hindsight it had actually started to improve in its final season. (###)

(#) I have vague memories of the "new" starry title sequence replacing the "classic" tunnel one just before I turned five, which implies I- barely- remember the former too, but Baker's final "starry" season is the only one I really remember. IIRC I think I first watched it for the Daleks.

(###) I remember thinking Survival was the best story in a long time, though I didn't realise it was the final one until years later, as the show hadn't been publicly cancelled at that point.

1
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Apple iPhone 6S: Same phone, another day, but TOTALLY DIFFERENT

Michael Strorm

Profiting on the gravy *and* the main course

"Seriously why the hell is the minimum still 16GB?"

So they can draw people in with the price of the base model then- after they've already committed to the idea- have them realise that the 16GB is overly restrictive and upsell them on the larger-capacity models at many times the going market rate for the difference.

Typical sales technique, make the money by upselling the gravy. Like the time I went to Specsavers (#) and after I'd gone for the "two for one" offer on some relatively cheap glasses I was offered anti-reflective and scratchproof coatings which bumped up the cost noticeably. Of course, the iPhones aren't cheap in the first place, but the principle is the same.

The omission of a card slot not only means that you have to pay Apple's prices if you want a larger-capacity iPhone. However, it's also a useful sales technique since- as you can't upgrade later- many people unsure whether they need the extra capacity will go for it anyway, rather than risk disovering later that their already-expensive iPhone has insufficient storage for their needs and they can't do anything about it.

(Oh, and I never bought the "customers will buy crappy low-end memory cards and blame Apple for the poor performance" argument against the card slot. If the will was there I'm sure it would be easy for them to require a minimum spec and automatically peform benchmarks and diagnostics against a card the first time it was inserted, to ensure it performed well enough).

(#) I should be clear that this was about 15 years ago

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Drones need their own version of Asimov's laws of robotics – MEPs

Michael Strorm

Spurious attempt to add Asimov's gravitas to unrelated regulations

I thought the whole point of Asimov's "three laws" stories- which too many people seem to forget when they invoke them in a pat manner- was to explore the *potential loopholes* and *unforeseen consequences* of any such attempt to codify behaviour in what at first might seem a clear, straightforward and logical manner.

Besides which, the three laws were in effect aimed at the artificial intelligence underlying these robots. Current consumer drones are human-controlled with (at most) limited automatic behaviour in certain situations that doesn't come close to Asimov-level "intelligence", though it's possible the proposers might have more advanced military applications in mind.

These potential regulations are likely to have more to do with rules surrounding air safety and social privacy. It's not clear how much- if at all - AI is intended to enter into this.

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French woman gets €800 a month for electromagnetic-field 'disability'

Michael Strorm

Re: There's a special place for people like that...

@Sir Runcible Spoon; Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but why would you expect the "Faraday cage" in your house to affect that? If your wife was talking about "hearing" noise generated by the transformer (#), I'm assuming she was sensing high frequency *sound* waves, not electromagnetic ones, which are something completely different.

(#) I'm quite prepared to believe this as many people can pick up very high-pitched noises, generally when they're younger (and their hearing isn't *****d). I used to be able to tell when a CRT TV in the room was on from the faint and very high pitched noise they made. Similarly, extremely low frequency sounds can have an effect on people. Both are possible from electrical or mechanical equipment.

10
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Sex app Tinder in public meltdown – because a journo dared suggest it was, well, a sex app

Michael Strorm

Re: That's where I've been going wrong

I think the idea is you're meant to rub your bits against *someone else's* bits.

0
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Yahoo! parties! like! it's! 1999! with! retro! billboard! revival!

Michael Strorm

Re: Retro

They could easily have kept Geocities going.

Around the time they announced the closedown (about six years ago), I figured that the amount of storage space required to it could probably have been bought for a few hundred quid in 2009. Why? Because most of the sites were created around the turn of the millennium, when websites were much, *much* smaller (no YouTube), and free webspace like Geocities would likely have been in the low megabytes (which most people wouldn't have used all of).

If they'd put it in maintenance/archive mode (i.e. no updates, allowed existing users to remove their sites but nothing more) and slapped ads on the existing content- as they did anyway- it'd probably have easily outweighed the cost of the minimal staffing required.

My suspicions then were that Geocities was so financially negligible on the scale of things by then that it was being killed off for accounting reasons, or for political ones (i.e. some management stuffed shirt wanted to be seen doing something that looked more significant than it was).

IIRC something I read later on sort of confirmed this suspicion.

My ballpark guess regarding Geocities' storage requirements was also roughly correct; I came across something that confirmed it would have been several terabytes in size. Even in 2009 that was utterly, utterly negligible compared to what YouTube alone would have used.

Yeah, I realise that a lot of Geocities was teen fluff and very of its time, but there was still no good reason to kill it off. If they'd been worried about it making Yahoo look like a 90s has-been, they could have removed their name from it anyway. It's not like killing it helped Yahoo in that respect, since they've had that "90s has-been" air about them ever since Google stole their lunch not long after the dotcom bust anyway.

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Hacking Trump: Can we not label web vandalism as 'terrorism', please?

Michael Strorm

Re: A crime is a crime

@Hollerith 1; Or maybe she's a more subtle troll than she first appears and intentionally did that to provoke an annoyed response like yours...? :-)

2
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Happy birthday, Amiga: The 'other' home computer turns 30

Michael Strorm

"I recall the CD32 was a last-ditch quick-and-dirty attempt to get a product that would sell, and was a surprising success. It was just that C= were already pretty much dead, the banks were circling and they couldn't finance building enough of them"

Yes, I can confirm that this is the story I remember hearing as well- that the CD32 was an easy-to-develop cash cow (#) that was successful as far as it went, and that Commodore's failure was in spite of this. (##)

People seem to conflate the CDTV and CD32, but despite the ostensibly similar concept, the marketing and positioning were somewhat different. CDTV was a relatively expensive attempt at a multipurpose multimedia machine a la Philips CD-I (###) and I'm sure the marketing cost them a bit alone. It flopped- I'm guessing- because it was too expensive (£500, around £1000 in today's money) for something that had no compelling selling point. (e.g. The Hutchison encyclopedia offered little over the printed version beyond sparse audio clips, a few pics and basic searchability, and the games were often just shovelware of existing Amiga games with few CD enhancements).

The CD32 was a more obviously game-focused and lower-end (####) machine.

(#) Since it was essentially a stripped-down A1200 attached to a (presumably off-the-shelf mechanism) CD ROM, with only the Planar conversion chip being new.

(##) It was apparently never sold in the United States due to legal issues, though.

(###) The Philips CD-I ultimately flopped as well; it's my opinion that it only survived longer than the CDTV because Philips had much more money to spend on marketing and keeping it alive in the face of public indifference.

(####) Though it was higher specced- the CDTV was essentially based around an A500-level Amiga, whereas the CD32 was A1200-spec (which the CDTV probably should have been in the first place; the Amiga might have survived better if the A1200 had come out 18 months earlier).

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Michael Strorm

Escom blew the Amiga's last plausible chance at survival

@tin2; Regarding the reintroduction of the A1200 by Escom.

The A1200 came out in late 1992 and while a worthwhile improvement was essentially a "catch up" to the PC that was starting to overtake it by then. (#) By mid-1994, it had fallen behind again, the Amiga was no longer dominant... and then Commodore went bankrupt.

Aftter more than a year during which technology moved on and the stranded Amiga atrophied further, Escom relaunched the three-year-old-spec A1200 for £100 *more* than it had cost before the bankruptcy.

They claimed the price increase was needed to cover the costs of getting it back to market- but whether or not it was done in good faith or just milking the remaining faithful, that was the point it became obvious to even me that the Amiga had lost its last chance.

In hindsight, it was probably already doomed when C= went under, but that was where it became obvious to me at the time.

(#) I bought my Amiga at the end of 1991, when it was still "the" machine for playground exchange of games. By early 1993- just over a year later- it was noticeable that the focus was shifting to PC games. In hindsight, I wish I'd gone for a secondhand Amiga a year prior instead of buying the new- but second-best- Atari ST I could afford then (which I ended up selling to part-fund the Amiga anyway), and had got another full year of the Amiga at its peak.

3
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べーコンはどこですか? demands post-pub nosh fan

Michael Strorm

私は日本語が話せませんが、私は翻訳、オンライン使用することができます。また、ベーコン。

"To avoid confusion with the milliJub (or mJub), shouldn't we be referring to µJubs?"

If you weren't such a bunch of pinko commie socialist French pro-decimalites, you'd know that- like the inch- The Glorious Imperial Jub is *never* split by factors of 10 (*). The accepted form is the 1/17 of a jub, also known as a "speck". The speck is in turn made up of pi/sqrt(-14) unequally-sized "liquid groats".

The Americans also use these units, but *their* versions are slightly different. This is purely for the sake of ensuring that some $3.4 bn space probe crashes into Grimsby because there was confusion over which versions were being used.

(*) You can try, but it'll explode and destroy itself rather than betray the spirits of John Bull and the fourteenth-century German farmers he nicked the units off in the first place (before they realised they didn't want them back and decimal was actually quite a sensible idea anyway).

7
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ZOMBIE Commodore PET lurches out of its 1970s grave – as a FONDLESLAB

Michael Strorm

Oric Atmos tablets now shipping

@Shadow Systems; The great news is that it can do *anything* a generic Android tablet can, including running actual Pet emulation software (which unfortunately they didn't include with the C64 and Amiga emulators).

Of course, this tablet has one big benefit over other Android devices, and that's a label saying "Commodore Pet" on the back. Which makes it a Real Commodore Pet, and not just the generic midrange Android tablet indistinguishable from countless others and with no relation to the original Pet it would be otherwise!

P.S. If anyone wants a genuine (honest, guv) Oric Atmos tablet, send your generic Android one to me and I'll tippex "Oric Atmos" on the back for you. Black ones only, if it's a beige tablet I'll have to scribble "Oric 1" on with a marker instead.

7
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Cheaper-than-Oracle Rimini defiant as Oracle drags 'em back to court

Michael Strorm

Re: Another reason not to use Oracle products

"Oracle are trying to get to the stage where anyone buying anything will have to go to them for everything and pay whatever Oricle feel like charging at the time."

Is this a surprise? Oracle's modus operandi has been "lock 'em in and gouge them for every penny they're worth" for as long as I can remember.

FWIW, I used to like Oracle when they did all that nice teletext stuff- I guess Larry Ellison got hard-edged and nasty after he lost the franchise to the Daily Mail. (No, not really).

1
1

Facebook unveils SECRET logo furtle – in a TWEET

Michael Strorm

Re: ??

A Google image search on "Facebook new logo" comes up with the logo on its own, sans towel (and distortion), so I don't think it's meant to be a part of it.

There's absolutely no point to this. Many people won't notice the difference- if, as was commented elsewhere, they even see it in full (and not just the usual "f").

Really, it looks like someone tried to replicate the existing Facebook logo, but couldn't get their hands on the correct typeface (or didn't notice and/or didn't care) and used a more generic and less interesting one instead.

At least the old typeface had a distinct look and style without being overly in-your-face about it. The new one is just boring.

The conspiracist in me suspects that some of these boring redesigns have more to do with getting attention from the press, but do Facebook really need that?

2
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Microsoft in Blighty reveals its 78 THOUSAND POUND Surface 3 slabloid

Michael Strorm

Two! Nine A! The number of the beast!

Yes, that price *is* probably wrong- given that this is MS we're talking about, shouldn't it be £666,666?

Yeah, people might think they were copying Apple in that respect (*) but that doesn't seem to have bothered them in the past. :-)

(*) No, really

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Cambridge boffins: STOP the rush to 5G. We just don't need it

Michael Strorm

2G? 2G?!!

I can't even get a bloody 1G signal where I am! No way am I wasting my time upgrading to 2G if I can't even get a 1G signal on my Motorola.

I regret getting rid of that radio phone in my car now.

http://img4.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140526184103/cjaymarch/images/8/8a/80s-brick-cell-phone.jpg

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What is this river nonsense? Give .amazon to Bezos, says US Congress

Michael Strorm

Re: If we need .$river domains,...

"...we should require registrants to provide an office address of a house boat."

You know, when issues like this case arise, or when one remembers that a couple of months ago ICANN was complaining about the owner of .sucks' "predatory" reselling of domains under the TLD that ICANN knowingly created and sold off in the first place(!)...

...one might suspect that the humungus clusterf**k that is the pointless expansion of the TLD system was an utterly cynical and wilfully shortsighted move on ICANN's part done purely as a cash grab to force countless defensive registrations. But that can't be true, can it?

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