674 posts • joined Wednesday 26th March 2008 15:10 GMT
Twice daily callers
Wonder if these were the jokes who rang me up with automated messages twice a day for a year. It recently stopped (finally). Always the same pre-recorded message often from numbers from all over the country.
Once upon a time
Once upon a time they were quite good if you wanted basic cheap webhosting and email. Then it became a fight to the bottom in the market and to maintain their low prices the quality of the service shot downwards.
I bailed out a number of years ago after a series of outages and giving all of the users passwords away to hackers.
Imagine some kind of external box that could be sold that the graphics card comes contained within. The box would be bristling with inputs and outputs and would connect via Thunderbolt.
Perhaps that's what Apple have in mind. Instead of a card that the average Joe might not want to install himself, anyone could buy a box and plug it into the back of the machine?
A mere 16 colours? Sure you weren't playing an Atari ST?
Have a 2012 Macbook with no optical drive. Haven't missed it much really. I have a 20 quid external drive available for the occasional time it's needed. Other peoples mileage may vary but given the instances of Superdrives packing up, the external option is actually cheaper and easier to fix if something goes wrong (i.e. hurl it in the bin and order a new one from Ebuyer).
When are Apple finally going to launch a new Mac Pro? Mine is a veritable workhorse but at 5 years old I'd like to refresh it at some stage!
It's not a hard limit anyway. Go back to The Five Doctors and the Timelords were going to give The Master a new "set" of regenerations.
Also the "barkers" have long debated the meaning of the mind battle sequence in The Brain Of Morbius. Are the faces shown pre-Hartnell regenerations or previous regenerations of Morbius? It's unclear and used to get the fanboys quite worked up on Usenet!
Re: New Dr.
It's a very demanding show to work on. Long days and lots of night shoots. Not sure if I was his age I'd want to do it long term. I have first hand info that one recent short lived Doctor found it very hard going.
They'd never do it, but go and look at a recent picture of Sean Pertwee. He's the absolute spitting image of his Dad (less hair) when he first took on the role.
Re: Hard times
You sir, are a star. I can't buy you a pint but have a "virtual" one.
" After all, what is more cynical than the broadcaster that uses a high bit rate when the HD service is introduced and then lowers it after people have bought their sets? "
Ah the BBC HD services. Once a benchmark standard, they slowly rotted away the quality to please the bean counters.
Famously the software company Imagine went bust while the BBC were making a documentary about them. The crew went to lunch and came back to find the bailiffs had locked the place up and were about to repossess their equipment!
So it turned from a documentary about the games industry to one that catalogued the humiliating collapse of one of the biggest names of the early 80's.
It can be seen on Youtube. Worth half hour of anyones time.
At school everyone thought Sega was pronounced "See Ga". Imagine our surprise when Sonic came out and when you turned the game on up flashed the logo and "Say Ga" came out the speakers.
"Doctor Who Is Required"
Fans of the tower should watch the Doctor Who story "The War Machines" where a self aware computer is installed at the top of it and tries to take over the world.
There's no mid-point either. It now jumps from a single app to the whole master collection. Previously there were suites such as "Production" aimed at different markets that cost less. This avoided people like video editors ending up paying for Dreamweaver which would never be touched.
Now you pay for the lot if you like it or not. It's rather like doing your shopping and then the supermarket forcing you to also buy 10 tins of cat food when you don't have a cat. Then they claim you are saving money.
Be warned, if you visit the same motorway services twice on the same day (perhaps on a return journey) you may also be issued with a fine for overstaying the 2 hour limit. Seems to me these camera systems are very flawed.
Re: A modern C64
The cartridge is the 1541 Ultimate and is available from this guy:
The waiting list can be quite long. Mine took about 2 months to turn up as he makes them in smalli batches.
There are cheaper alternatives available but I've had my 1541 Ultimate for nearly a year and I love it. Importantly when plugged into the C64 it looks exactly the part and as I say the emulation is top notch. It also has features like a SID player and can emulate an Action Replay cartridge. WHen they say it's "Ultimate" they really mean it.
I have no connection to them other than being a very satisfied customer. I have SD card solutions for many of my old machines but this is a whole league above most kit!
Anyone actually managed to do a 100% accurate emulation of the SID chip yet? Last I heard it was the analogue stage of the chip that meant it was a devil to properly emulate.
A modern C64
Who'd want a "new" C64 when you can buy an old one for 30 quid and stick a state of the art SD card reader in the cartridge socket? My C64 has 16gb of storage plugged into the back of it and the cartridge has 100% accurate emulation of a 1541 disk drive as well (even has a cable that runs from the cartridge to the serial disc drive socket).
Granted my flashy cartridge cost me about 100 sovs (cheaper less fully featured versions are available) but the net result is a C64 dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century and I no longer have to ever use a tape or 5.25 inch disk again!
Re: Four sprung duck technique
The amusing thing about the Final Cut Pro debacle is that Adobe jumped in and offered a 50% discount on CS suite to all Final Cut users. I was one of the poor sods who took them up on the deal!
Adobe have had a download model in place for ages. All this "doing away with boxed software" and "offering faster updates" is pure BS.
It's all about customer lock in and not tieing themselves to an update schedule. At the moment they have to pull something out of the hat every 18 months to cause people to want to upgrade. Tie people in via rental and they no longer have to worry about this.
They also don't have to worry about the people who refuse to upgrade. They'll now be tied in.
Internet Connection Myth
As I pointed out earlier, this isn't a true "cloud" product. It's still running off your hard disk as before. So it doesn't require a web connection all of the time to work. It just phones home every month to check it's still activated. Pretty much like CS6 already does!
Of course some of the new bolt ons do require web access such as their new storage solution. But Photoshop, Premiere, etc will work as they always have. Lets face it, Premiere certainly doesn't lend itself running on a sever considering I have projects here that have 200gb of raw materials.
So the issue here isn't worrying about being forced to work on remote servers you have no control over. The product is exactly the same as before. Except instead of buying a licence, you are now leasing the software and locked in to having Adobe extract money from you every month.
Re: The Hamster Wheel
From past experience, when Adobe promise "hundreds of improvements" they include things such as changing the font on an interface. When you boil it all down, you'll usually end up for about 5 things of actual use to you.
The upgrade pricing for existing CS6 users looks quite favourable until you work out that it is pretty much the same as the old upgrade cost, but also that after 12 months potentially the cost could double!
If they did whack up the price after 12 months you could find yourself paying more than double the price that you paid previously to jump to the latest version.
Give me your money!
Not quite sure about Adobe's "cloud" branding. The software is exactly the same as before. It installs on your computer, the licence is locked to that computer unless you deauthorise it. The "cloud" appears to be just the way Adobe have worked out to ensure they extract money from users every month instead of those pesky people who refuse to upgrade their software every year,
Make no mistake, this is just a scheme to squeeze money out of the end users. They may as well brand it "Adobe remote wallet opening device".
White Sinclair Spectrum
Sod Apple, how much for the only white Sinclair Spectrum 48k? As owned by Sir Clive himself.
"People familiar with the matter...."
Are they the same people who newspapers quote as "our source says", or "a friend who did not wished to be named said". I.e it's something a journo made up because nobody would talk to them.
When you first saw Sonic 1 on the Gamegear or Megadrive you couldn't believe the speed it moved at. Mario looked pedestrian in comparison and the 8 and 16 bit home computers had to play catch up.
Sonic 2 on the Megadrive was perfection. It looks so simple but there are so many different routes and techniques to tackle each level that you'll always come back for more.
All downhill after that. The modern incarnations just don't cut it IMO.
Re: Amstrad PPC 640
That's another Rick Dickenson special IIRC. Because of the complexity of designing the portable computer, Sugar was talked into using a top notch industrial designer.
Pity Dickenson wasn't around for the PCW. A lovely machine that was a superb Word Processor (arguably better than PC's 3 or 4 times its price for word crunching, but was pig ugly.
The 6128 was the best of the CPC's. Amstrad had refined the keyboard and slimmed the entire thing down. They also printed the colour chart on the disc drive which FASCINATED me as a kid. Also gave you bragging rights as it listed the CPC's 27 colours which was good ammo to wind up visiting Spectrum and C64 owners.
Re: No Psions?
While I agree with you about the Series 3 and 5 looked awesome, sadly both had massive design flaws in the hinges. I reckon my 3a went back 3 times in a year for new hinges, and my series 5 went back twice.
You can have clever designs that look gorgeous, but the real test is if they spontaneously combust if you as much dare look at them. Which is a shame because boy did I love my 3a (the 5 I could take or leave).
The LucasArts I mourn died over 15 years ago
I was sad to hear they were closing. But then I realised I was sad because they were the people who produced Monkey Island, Rescue On Fractalus and X-Wing, not because they were the people who now churned out hundreds of bland Star Wars games.
The LucasArts I mourn died over 15 years ago.
PC gaming is for sadists
Just look at the latest DRM riddled Sim City rubbish. The consoles may not have the best graphics, but its gameplay that counts. Playing Halo or Forza with 10 or so chums on the Xbox is enormous fun. I don't think we're worried about the graphical detail when we are barrelling around corners at 100mph while trying to overtake.
I didn't have two cores. Would have been a single core 1.8GHz box with XP at that time which ran things like the first 3D GTA game superbly.
The description of zooming in and the entire lot crashing that someone else posted rings a few bells though.
As for subways, my memory says that something about them was broken. Perhaps it was just the fact nobody would use then rather that they were lacking? It was 10 years ago!
In a foreshadowing of the new Sim City game, this was a much anticipated release. And my recollection is that it was broken from day 1.
I made the mistake of buying it early. Boy did it crash! Just used to fall over with no warning meaning regular saves were a must. Also had a problem with some of the bigger buildings never appearing. My recollection is also that although I that I had decent new hardware the game wasn't exactly quick.
IIRC it also lacked subways which wasn't the end of the world but annoying.
I understand it was patched in the end but by then I had grown bored of it. It all rather pales into insignificance against the current games problems anyway.
Re: Sinclair, what was that all about ?
I disagree, having the advantage of having actually spoken to an engineer who worked at Amstrad at the time.
The first +2 was rushed through as Amstrad has to get stocks in ready for Christmas. They didn't do much re-engineering at that stage. It was a rush job, so rushed in fact that in his book Sugar reveals that he was already committed to the tooling required before he had even signed on the dotted line. In fact the book also reveals that before Amstrad had the plans, they went down to Dixons and literally bought a 128k Spectrum to dissect. They had less than 6 months to get the machines into the shops which is less time than you'd think when you factor in production lead times and how long they'd be on the boat.
The real changes came with the +3 where you can easily see number of components has dropped significantly. They've also managed to engineer out the ridiculous heatsink.
Re: Fascinating story
A quick scan of a 1988 issue of ACU reveals 3" discs retailing for £2.50 each or £23 for 10. This tallies with my memory of them being about 3 quid each.
Part of the cost was the fact they were manufactured like brick outhouses. They were designed to be tough enough to be able to be sent through the Japanese postal system with no protection other than their case. I have one on my desk and they are tough beasties. Had loads and I can say I never had one fall apart, but I have had 3.5 inch discs have shutter mechanisms that have gone wrong or got damaged.
Re: another excellent speccy article
But Amstrad didn't sell them without a monitor, even if you asked really nicely. In fact the PSU was built in to the monitor and the 6128 required 5v for the main board + 12v for the disc drive.
I assume you had the MP3 modulator, which would have been the only way to get power + a UHF out. But I'm just interested how you got a 6128 without a monitor as Amstrad's policy was never to sell them separately.
What Adobe really really want is for everyone to be on their subscription cloud model so this is a first step.
At the moment the "Creative Cloud" has quite good pricing, but many are suspicious that when enough people are hooked not only will they make subscription mandatory for all, but will whack the price up.
Re: 3 inch disc
Amusing, possibly apocryphal story. The reason Amstrad used "disc" was because this is what was written on the back of the 464. It was actually supposed to be "disk". However creating new casing moulds would cost money so Sugar vetoed it and kept it as the "British" spelling.
Re: Sinclair, what was that all about ?
RE Sinclair reliability. First thing Sugar did was to move production out to the Far East. Costs of using the Timex factory in Scotland were very high due to very high faulty return rates and stock going "missing". Rumour has it everyone in Dundee had a Spectrum, mostly bought from a man in a pub.
A story is told by an Amstrad engineer that when they got the circuit diagrams through from Sinclair, the Spectrum was so over complicated that they were scratching their heads about how it actually worked. When they figured it out they integrated everything down into a few IC's vastly reducing the component count.
Here's the 128k Spectrum circuit boards. The Sinclair version is at the top and the rest are as Amstrad developed them. Look how they reduce the component count.
3 inch disc
The 3 inch disc was actually adopted by Amstrad for the CPC. long before the PCW was launched. By all accounts they looked at 3.5 inch drives but they were too expensive and 5 inch wouldn't have been very elegant to build into the case (Sugar insisted the drive must be integrated). Sugar managed to source a supply of 3 inch drives and the rest is history.
As for me spelling it "disc" rather than "disk", well that's the spelling Amstrad always used with reference to the format.