* Posts by Antony Jones

10 posts • joined 19 Feb 2008

Asus N56VM 15.6in notebook review

Antony Jones
Flame

Had one and returned it

Mine had to go back as the screen was DOA, and no replacement was available so was refunded. The rest of the machine was OK as I plugged in to an external monitor. It's a decent spec for the money, though you have to be very careful you get the exact spec as there are other N56VM models with different screen resolutions, etc.

There are a few issues with the machine I found in the short time I had it. The harddisk is painfully slow, especially as I'm used to a SSD, so budget to replace that (it's easy enough to do). The keyboard is OK, but could do with being backlit and it's too easy to touch the huge trackpad with the heel of your hand, sending the cursor flying off from where you thought you were typing. While there are 4 USB3 ports, there's no PCI-E port for future expansion, so you can forget adding a cheap thunderbolt card or whatever to keep it current, and there's no option of a docking station, except the slightly dodgy USB ones. You can use either two external monitors (VGA + HDMI), or one external monitor + the built in screen, but I don't believe you can use all three at once, which is irritating and not so good for development. Battery life is poor under load, and the power brick is huge. Also, curiously it says to never turn on the brick at the mains without first plugging in to the laptop, which makes you think it's a very cheap design.

So a good basic spec let down by details.

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Sony focuses on full-frame snappers with tasty tech

Antony Jones

Re: @Antony Jones

The A55 uses a sequential display so the LCD is one colour with an alternating red/green/blue LED. So yes, if you blink or move the camera too quickly you'll get some false colour effects. I've just grown to ignore it, but when picking up the camera after not using it for a while it is noticeable. It's the same as with DLP projectors that use a colour wheel. Some people are really sensitive to it, but most don't notice.

The latest high-end models (like the A99) use OLEDs, so don't have this issue.

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Antony Jones
Boffin

Re: SLT?

No. About 30% (half a stop) is reflected up to the AF phase-detect sensors. The rest goes to the main sensor. The main sensor is read continuously for the electronic viewfinder (just like a compact). This does mean a slight reduction in high-ISO performance, so noise at ISO 1600 would be the same as noise at about ISO 2400 on a non-SLT camera (like the Sony NEX, and Nikon, Pentax cameras that use the same Sony sensors. The benefits for most people (full-time AF, WYSIWYG viewfinder) outweigh that small increase in noise, but it depends what you shoot. Also some people don't like the EVF, either because they're hyper-sensitive to flicker, or the 1/50th second update lag is critical. I have a first gen SLT (Sony A55) and think it's great. YMMV.

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Scosche MyTrek health monitor

Antony Jones

Re: I'm possibly out of my depth here technically so apologies for the naive question.

No, your heart rate is an objective measure of how hard your cardiovascular system is working. How you perceive your effort can be very different.

The main point is to fine-tune your training, so you go at the right level of effort. As you train, you should get fitter, so you try to keep your heart rate constant but increase the workload as it gets easier. If you're recovering or unwell you back off the effort. The smart way to train is to split easy and hard intervals rather than go at a constant pace, and the monitor is a tool that helps that. I use a Polar HRM that records speed and cadence on my bike as well as altitude and heart rate. After a ride I can compare the same route to see how I'm progressing (or not...). A bluetooth monitor would be handy as it could integrate with the GPS on my phone.

Whether this is useful to you depends on how serious you are at training.

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Superhero oil-burping algae will save the world

Antony Jones
Pint

exactly - we'll still be dependent on the Middle East for much of our oil

Imagine a future not too far off. Vast ships carrying pressurised CO2 captured from power stations in the industrialised world offload it at algae farms spread across the equatorial deserts where guaranteed sunlight and land with no other value makes it economical. This means North Africa and the Gulf States, plus South Western US and Australia. Sea water is pumped in using wind or solar power (no fresh water, and that's a scarce commodity anyway). From space, the deserts will start to look very green...

Similarly, if we ever crack high-temperature superconductors, then basing our solar power stations in those areas and feeding it back to the populated areas along vast transmission lines would become practical.

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Ford crushes half-price hybrid hoax

Antony Jones
IT Angle

@oscar

There are several reasons why US vehicles are less efficient.

- Their gallon is smaller than ours (as you pointed out)

- Diesel delivers about 30% more mpg than petrol

- But Diesel cars of our type aren't generally permitted over there (they require extensive exhaust after-treatment). This all adds to cost, and diesel engines cost more than petrol. Low sulphur diesel is quite new over there as well, and they lack the refinery capacity to handle the 50% diesel car mix we have in Europe. Also diesel over there costs a lot more than petrol, cancelling out the mpg saving.

- Their cars on average are bigger and heavier than ours. This significantly hits fuel economy. Compare the same engine in two European models (e.g. a focus and a mondeo) and you'll see the effect this has.

- As you point out, they have automatics, which waste fuel. This is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. In theory, an auto could be more efficient than a manual (e.g. auto-shift manual)

- The US gov test cycle involves harder acceleration than the Euro one, and this adds about a 10% hit.

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Sony DSLR-A900 Alpha 900 digital SLR

Antony Jones
Dead Vulture

A few corrections

"A brief tour reveals at the front, a remote sensor window..."

Nope, that's the focus assist lamp...

"no eye start optical viewfinder"

Yes it does - that's the two little windows underneath the viewfinder.

"When loaded up with a Sony DT 16-105mm f3.5/5.6 lens"

You realise this is an APS-C format lens, not full frame (that's the DT in the lens name), so you weren't really getting any benefit from that huge sensor or the viewfinder at all. Not really your fault if Sony couldn't be bothered to supply a decent lens...

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Boffin: Coconut jumbo is millstone in disguise

Antony Jones
Thumb Up

Re: Algae

The future surely has to be based on algal-based biofuels. Using genetic engineering we can produce saltwater algae that efficiently convert CO2 to oil. There's some promising research going on with this, but it'll likely be decades before this is viable. Algae can be continuously harvested, unlike a plant, the whole organism can be productive, and not being dependent on fresh water helps conserve that precious resource for us.

Unfortunately, the best location for these algal biofuel factories will be in non-productive deserts with high levels of sunlight and access to the sea i.e. the Middle East. So you can forget using this to get "energy security".

Another good location might be next to a fosil power station. You can pump high concentrations of CO2 from the chimneys, and the algae can use the waste heat as well as sunlight as their energy source (plenty of organisms survive around deep ocean vents without sunlight, but with a source of heat).

The fuels produced can use our existing infrastructure, without the massive investment required to convert to a hydrogen based economy.

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Time to balance WS-* and REST

Antony Jones
Stop

Simple solutions are for simple problems

The take up of SOAP was driven by its comparative simplicity to other prevailing distributed architectures (DCOM, CORBA, EJB, etc). The complexity only came in when people moved on from simple problems, and needed security, distributed transactions, reliable delivery, etc. The end result is a stack that is just as complex as the earlier alternatives.

When we look at REST we see the appealing simplicity. But that is only because it lacks the rich semantics to solve complex problems. REST is great in it's place, but don't try and tell me it can solve complex enterprise problems.

REST only deals with immutable objects that look like documents, because it's just HTTP. As soon as you want to do a partial update, it fails horribly. There's even been talk of adding a PATCH verb to HTTP, which only goes to highlight the point.

REST on business entities is like giving everyone direct read/write access to your database. That's fine, except everyone then has to implement the business rules underlying that update, or handle incredibly complex exception processing semantics.

Everyone wants simplicity. Just like everyone wants world peace and an end to poverty and disease. But the real world is inherently complex, and the solutions will be too. Sorry.

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Time to rewrite DBMS, says Ingres founder

Antony Jones
Thumb Up

Sense prevailing at last?

Most DB accesses are reads, not writes, so optimise for those. As for crashes losing the contents of RAM: You don't need to write the DB to disk, just the transaction log. Just replay the log to recover in the rare event of a crash.

Secondly, the RDBMS didn't take over the market because the relational model was superior to alternatives - just that SQL was vastly superior to the other options in the 80's and 90's as a means of getting value out of the data you had accumulated. The problem with the relational model is that it doesn't reflect a real world abstraction. Sure any problem space can be mapped to a relational solution, but often that mapping is convoluted (hence the object-relational problem that still hasn't been solved).

Network-hierarchical databases are pretty damn close to the ideal, as long as the tools to get at your data are good enough.

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