45 posts • joined 25 Apr 2007
"Writing on the wall" for Firewire?
I don't know where anyone else has been looking, but for the music recording industry the wall reads "we are hugely dependent on Firewire audio interfaces, and unless something better comes along will remain so for a very long time."
USB 2.0 doesn't cut it all, as for one thing it lacks a proper isochronos transport (software emulation is not good enough) and for another lacks the 65W of bus power needed for some of the larger, portable multi-IO devices.
If Apple are phasing out Firewire, then they are phasing out one of their core customer demographics. Madness.
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. "Rights" as in those of the customer as well as the vendor - their right to use software/data that they've paid for in the face of others that would illegally gain access to it had those rights not been enforced.
Not that DRM has anything to do with this case, but slagging off DRM universally is not the correct approach.
Criticizing poorly implemented DRM that allows a vendor to abuse customers' rights is what we need to fight against.
But I thought the Xbox 360 was "entrenched" in the US?
While all the other metrics people have asked for in here are perfectly valid, I'd still like to see some world-wide sales figures over the last year. Focusing in just one region can be very misleading.
If I remember rightly, most consoles gamers I know regard the original-Xbox as a success due to its visibly high market saturation by the end of its product life-time, yet this only turned out to be true in the US and western Europe. Every games developer I have every spoken to regard the original-Xbox as a financial flop for M$ due to poor sale in Asia - a games market that dwarfs the US apparently.
So here we are again talking about sales performance of three competing consoles, yet we're focusing on the US exclusively...?
I just think over-simplified analysis like this just a bit flawed, that's all.
Erm..... this sounds like the plot of MGS4.
I am the only one here who's actually played through the game?
The plot to Metal Gear Solid 4 hinges on post-NATO soldiers being electronically tagged, and thereby monitored/controlled, by a network of AIs set-up by the US remnants of the "Philosophers" (read that as the Illuminati). The nano-tech to facilitate this supposedly comes directly from DARPA.
The system is called SOP: "Sons Of the Patriots".
Something about the writing of this article sent a chill through my bones as I read it.
Ah wait, there's my coat.
Re: 40GB version
Yes, in fact what I did was get my PS3 40Gb for free from Carphone Warehouse and put in a 250GB Seagate Scorpio drive for ~£40.
My XBox 360 Elite has collected dust ever since.
Windows 7 to land 18 months from now...?
"Windows 7 (which to us sounds increasingly like Vista, mark two) will land about 18 months from now."
Well given M$'s track record on time estimates, I won't be holding by breath. Or be expecting them to actually resolve any fundamental design issues that have existed since NT4.
I'm sure the new GUI will look lovely though.
It's not as if the GPU revision is much of an everyday benefit
Steps to repeat:
1. Turn on Xbox 360 Elite
2. Turn off Xbox 360 Elite
Result: "yingyingpoeoww...." (then silence)
3. Turn on PS3
Result: (sound of string orchestra tuning up, then silence)
4. Turn off PS3
Conclusion: For that reason alone, I opt for the PS3 version of any title if I can. Maybe I'm getting old?
@ madra [Re:polishing a turd]
Hmm... sounds like you've got your user UIDs and GIDs confused in the migration.
Classic 'nix OSes always indexed admin group user UIDs from 501 onwards, and placed their user-level home folders in group "staff" (GID 10).
OSX 10.0-10.1 also did this, but then changed to a non-standard custom GID scheme for these folders in 10.2-10.4. (e.g. user UID 501 got a user home set to GID 501 etc).
In 10.5, they've reverted to the proper GID model, but if you upgrade your OS from 10.4 to 10.5 it will retain the custom GIDs in those pre-existing user accounts. Leopard is supposed to fix this, but I've found it's much better to do it yourself.
1. Open Applications/Utilities/Directory Utility
2. Enable root user account and set a password
3. Log out and log back in again as root
4. Open a terminal window
5. type cd /Users
6. Assuming the user account was the first to be created*, type chown -R 501:10 <username's home folder>
7. Log back in as <username>
*NetInfo manager used to tell you this info, but they've removed it in Leopard tut tut.
Leopard uses stricter permissions that previous OSX versions, so be sure to run Disk Utility and verify files are set as it thinks they should be.
I've upgraded leopard on about 10 systems so far without issue.
Flawed experiments give meaningless results
This was a meaningless test.
When performance profiling different platforms, you have to run the same code against them. Since you can't guarantee that even both versions of Opera are the same, the appropriate course of action would have been to write a basic HTML renderer (using each platform's APIs when appropriate) and taken progressive timing measurements throughout the various stages of rendering a page.
This experiment doesn't tell you anything. For all we know the greatest performance loss on the Mac side was caused by some over-cautious thread locks in Safari. Or some carelessly unsafe threading in IE. Who knows?
This report is comparing apples and pears. (No pun intended).
I'd like to know some real figures for my own personal interest, but until someone qualified performs a real test I won't give this kind of information any credence.
@Anonymous Coward "No surprise"
Speaking from the "balanced" camp (those who are serious about gaming and own all the next-gen consoles to ensure they don't miss out on exclusives), I must say that I'm still amazing by the amount of 360 fanboy-ism that permeates discussions about games consoles.
Why do you care? If you think you have the "better" console, be happy with that. It's not as if you are going to win some sort of prize for owning the most commercially successful console. If you were, I recommend to buy a Wii.
I would really like to think that we can avoid these stream-of-consciousness outbursts on The Register, but apparently not.
...And if you are going take every opportunity to post your unqualified value judgments across the net, at least get your facts straight. Most of your qualifying statements were flawed, and a simple glance on Wikipedia will show that.
May be setting the cat amongst the pigeons....
So the PS3 "doesn't have a decent games library" eh?
I own a 360-elite [and] a 40Gb PS3, and as far as I can tell the only rationale behind this sort of statement is that "if most games are cross-format, then you'll want a 360 because it has exclusives too".
That assertion is flawed, as there are also PS3 exclusives like "Tekken 5: DR", "Unchartered: Drake's fortune" and "Heavenly Sword" that are absolutely banging.
So... I suggest to any serious gamer that they should buy BOTH and reap the rewards. And have a great big flat-TV and digital surround-sound installed.
In short, if you aren't willing to put a serious amount of investment into your home entertainment gear, then I can't take you seriously. You might as well be one of those 40-something whiners who keep crying out "Whatever happened to the art of conversation?" Answer: it got fragged.
"but nobody really wants to use OS X for anything"
Erm... that came across as a rather sweeping statement. Can you please explain what you mean?
FYI: approximately 60% of my company's customer base is running OS X, and the rest are saving up for a Mac. It's just the nature of the music technology sector.
M$ set to continue "Cat and mouse" game
Not that I'm complaining about the possibility of DivX support on my Xbox 360 Elite, but this is just like the HDMI fiasco:
M$ - "No you don't need it"
Media - "Erm... Sony says you do"
M$ - "Well if they put it in theirs, we'll put it in ours"
360 owners - "No I don't believe M$ will betray it's customer base, despite all the credible evidence to the contrary"
Sony - "Introducing the PS3..."
M$ - "...Introducing the new and improved Xbox 360...."
Only this time, it's even more likely to happen. I think this is living proof that competition in the market place is essential to keeping the quality high.
Thank you, Sony, for all the improvements you've made to the Xbox 360.
Ringtones maker eh?
Only a total idiot would pay money for a ringtone they could easily make themselves, and now that same idiot has the opportunity to pay double for an additional 30s of song they already have.
Classic. I hope one day I can invent a license to print money like this.
Pot calling the kettle black
Has anyone tried driving through Brixton/Kennington/Streatham recently? Some Brits may love to criticize Spanish driving, but in all honesty I'll rather take my chances on their roads than spend another day traversing the A3/A23 during rush hour. It's Death Race 2007 every day.
"Supersonic" is correct....
.... since the speed of sound in an ideal vacuum is 0 ms-1, anything travelling from our relative point of view in that medium is supersonic.
However, I take the point that the NASA press release was talking out of its arse.
Dave wasn't that upset afterall
This is what my mate Dave said on the matter:
"Hey! That's funny, I've already bought one of those and tested it!
I got into the new Nissan after a night out at a bar and tried to drive it
home. It subsequently told me that I was too drunk to drive and that I
should get back into the bar and finish chatting up a the bird I had left
there, and then get a taxi home with her!
Wow, what f**king great technology - it worked a treat for me!"
I hope this finally puts an end to this pessimistic debate.
Another failure scenario
Say you are drunk, you get into your Nissan, and the car refuses to let you drive away from the pub car park. What do you do? You probably fall asleep in your car. Then a policeman comes by, wakes you up, and breathalysers you.
Q: Does the fact that you have this device installed insulate you from the "drunk and in charge of an automobile" traffic offense?
A: Somehow, I doubt it. Kiss goodbye to your license for the next 12 months.
PS. Yes I know I used the US spelling of "licence". Damn Firefox's spell checker.
Happens again and again
Does anyone remember how the plans to the Gulf War (part one) were stolen when a high-ranking British army officer left his laptop in his car to going shopping?
The world is full of idiots.
For that money, you expect more.
I evaluated an Alienware 17" laptop half a year ago, and found to my surprise a number of corners that were cut on it. I rejected it at the end on the basis that the IEEE1394 port didn't support isochronous streaming (a requirement at the time). You couldn't import DV video with it.
What I can't understand with this unit, is that if the hard-disk storage is so amped up, why are there still problems with HD video playback? If silicon-junk AppleTV can manage it, a £2.5k PC should do.
....I've heard that Alienware is a Dell subsidiary.....
Pre-Op picture here
Robot priests for patrons with the minds of robots.
Surely a much safer proposition than a human priest with bi-curious urges?
Practice what you preach
It's all very well IBM Rational banging on with statements like "software runs the world, better software equals better business, software in concert," but until this ethos is reflected in the tools that they sell you in order to produce "better software", I won't be able take them seriously.
E.g. Rational Robot, Test Manager and Requisite Pro all appear to be apps cobbled together for NT3.5 that have been incrementally patched to maintain compatibility. Barely.
Certainly, the challenges faced in the day-to-day use of such tools is not offset by their supposed benefits. I really wonder what weight they think their Rational Unified Process pulls when they haven't appeared to have implemented it internally.
I've make my complaints, and their response was to challenge me to "find an alternative that does what our tool does." I have - it's called a brain, and I was just fine relying on my own one before being dragged into their techno-religious dogma.
Save your money.
...I use Firefox 2 on Mac for most web tasks, whilst reserving use of Safari for downloading pornography.
That way, if I need to "clear my tracks" I can just flush the cookies and browse history without it impacting my mainstream browser.
If I had Safari for Windows, I would no doubt apply the same practice there too.
Why do any of you care?
Whilst this pointless playground bickering is going on, most of you have failed to miss the main improvement billed for Leopard:
- Anyone played with XCode3 yet?
- Anyone played with DashCode yet?
- Do they suck?
Until Apple make a development tool I want to use, I won't do anything more than use XCode to port cross-platform code. With gritted teeth.
Visual Studio may cost a ton of cash, but it does allow people to define their reality. It's just a pity that 3rd party device drivers can be so flaky. Maybe Ms should get into hardware?
re: Anything is Better than the POS Apple File System!!
EVERY time I get a complaint from a Windows-orientated developer about their Mac dev machine playing up, I walk over to find that their Mac is in a total mess. It's because whilst they are competent Windows users, their experience using a Mac is lacking.
Slag off XCode, Finder etc. on face value sure, but leave Windows vs Mac comparisons out of it please.
There's no need for any more holy wars.
I'm so angry....
As someone who today was run over on their bike by a careless driver, I find the very idea that a traffic offender - who persistently reoffends - can be let out of prison after just a few days to be a vile miscarriage of justice.
Quite often, innocent people are held on remand for months on end whilst their case comes to trial. What comfort will they get from this news?
Can the local police at least make sure that she does not accrue any more parking tickets whilst under house arrest? Somehow I doubt it.
What a sham.
re: [If you don't want the serials/names/tags....]
Sorry Tim -
as my above example can testify, the "better" audio watermark schemes can survive lossy format conversion with no problems at all. Think about it: if i was that easy then EMI wouldn't sign up to it. And if you eventually succeed, what do you have but a rather raspy reproduction of the song you wanted to listen to?
In any case, enjoy the fact that the AAC bit-rate has now doubled and you can play you music on a few more players than you could before.
BTW. Conway - yes, I believe you are referring to "X-Audio". That was also one of ours. ;-)
[in response to Simon Hobson] Audio watermarks can be fairly robust
Yes, I think the servers are oversubscribed right now, and having to encode the tracks on the fly as well.
In terms of robustness, the watermark research effort I worked on spawned "PromoProtection", which EMI (and later others such as V2) used to trace ownership of pre-release promo CDs that were supplied to commercial radio stations. Each radio station needed to pay for their promo, but the problem was that once some stations got hold of it, others would quickly receive copies illegally. The fact that they had a copy was obvious as they would air it, but the real question was where did it come from?
We would make a unique serial number for each purchase that would identify the station and the track itself. Then, we had these computers tuned in to every FM and DAB radio station scanning for the presence of these watermarks. As soon as it found a station playing an illegal copy, it would also know where the copy came from and fine the offender. Within 6 months, promo piracy ended.
The watermark survived most things, including transcoding to a lossy format, from that lossy format to another, or even from a loudspeaker across a noisy pub into a PDA's microphone - you'd be surprised.
Changing the payload was also quite tricky because its locations in time and frequency were scattered. Attacks usually lead to either damaging the listening quality of the music, or simply adding additional codes to the track, all of which the decoder could spot.
I don't think Apple are using PromoProtection though, because it needs to encode in the PCM domain (even more CPU than an MDCT domain encoder).
I used to do audio research at EMI...
I think they are adding a watermark into the MDCT coefficients (pre-Huffman coding, BIFSEnc, mux, etc.) at the point of sale. It was something proposed as a viable option long time ago with MOSES (iTunes before iTunes).
However, I don't think they are embedding your e-mail address as the payload. You could of course, but an N-bit serial number is far more robust that an indeterminate length string. In any case, a serial number gets around the data-protection issue as only Apple will have access to the data that matches these serials to user accounts, and since you as the customer have already given them permission to retain this user data then there's no legality to consider.
As for my opinion on this approach, it's what we were banging on about years ago, because everyone knows DRM is rubbish. With a traceable DRM-free scheme, people who pay-up and play fair have no problems. If however, their purchases appear seeded 200+ times on torrentspy, they should expect an angry letter.
I will be inspecting some tracks this week to see if they are indeed using a watermark, but the likely culprits right now are DigiMark and Fraunhoffer IIS.
Good riddance to DRM!
My iMac update wish
I've just been looking at the intel iMac I have in my QA test pool, and it occurs to me that it is still a fantastic ergonomic design until, that is, you need to reach around the back to find a free USB or FireWire socket.
My update wish would be for the whole socketed area at the back to pop-out in a single block with a short multicore cable so that I can leave it next to the keyboard if need be. That would be real progress!
@ Graham O'Brien
Sorry Graham! I didn't mean you were common. Far from it.
When I said "common people" I meant homosapien, as opposed to homocompusapien. The difference between our species is sometimes subtle to detect, but obvious when you know what to look for. For example, when you being counting, you probably start on "1" and not "0".
Common knowledge: Vista = trouble
I'm actually surprised by the number of common people who DO know that Vista has problems.
Only last week, I was asked out-of-the-blue by my 60-year old dentist what I thought about Vista.
I said "There are some technical issues that deter me from wanting to use it right now."
His response was "Well I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Bloody useless rubbish."
Then his nurse interjected with "Oh yes, my son-in-law has had a nightmare with Vista lately...." etc.
I also was talking to a lawyer recently who asked me where he could buy new laptop without Vista installed on it.
I guess M$'s marketing dept has succeeded in getting Vista to the top of everyone's agenda, just not in the way they wanted!
Mad for it
I think having played Marathon, Marathon 2, Halo and Halo2, plus read all four novels, I've clearly lost my mind.
Evidence: As with the original Marathon series, I played through Halo on a Mac, and then again on an intel-Mac when the port was released.
Evidence: When I realized that Halo2 would be Vista-only, I bought a final generation factory-sealed xbox from eBay and played it on that instead.
Evidence: I've already started planning where to put the replica Spartan-II helmet in the lounge.
I'm normally very rational about such obvious hype. What's going on?!
Listening to the wind of change....
Of the DRM-free sources I already purchase tracks from (Beatport and DanceTracksDigital) the choices are:
AAC @ 192k,
MP3 @ 320k and
WAV @ 1.4M (CD rate).
Since this seems to be a trend of sorts, I would expect that Amazon would follow suit with at least the first two options here.
The only matter for concern will be the cost per track, as apart from the obvious notion that the exchange rate is nearly 2-to-1, amazon.co.uk would have to pay a different fee to MCPS than amazon.com would to RIAA. When I last checked, MCPS charge 12% on the "download" mechanical, where as RIAA charge 8%.
It does mean more money for the artists though. Remember them?
Expectations in US vs EU
If anyone has been to the US in the last three years, they will know that US mobile most handsets are dated and their operational rates are outrageous. Can you imagine paying to receive domestic calls in Europe? I nearly had a fit when my friend told me what she paid for her contract.
Needless to say, expectations are lower there than they are here. There is no way the current iPhone spec will enable it to break its own bow wave in Europe. HOWEVER, I suspect that the iPhone we are seeing here as a toe-dip in the mobile market, and once the world has reacted (like we are doing here), there will be a 2G iPhone for the international market with all the bespoke issues fixed. Hell, the manufacturing cost will have halved by then anyway.
Dominic Byrnes's comment: 'So be careful what you say, remember this from Slashdot after the original iPod launch: “No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame.” That could be you!' may well prove to be true in time.
Look on the bright side....
...Whilst the smoke screen from all this babbling holds, we all get a well-deserved break from the "how Vista has broken our software" discussion.
US vs European Patents
I think there is a lot of confusion about patent law, so allow me to cut through the fog and clarify a few points with what little I know about it:
#1. European patents have to be legally contested before they are granted in order to prove that the concept at hand is genuinely original. This can take as long as 15 years in some cases, which gives the applicant 5 years of clear exploitation. This is due to the 20 year lifetime of a European patent being back-dated to the time of application. Thereafter, infringement court cases are relatively short and to the point, as the patent-holder's case is invariably water-tight. Most are settled out of court in fact.
#2. US patents are granted almost immediately, the idea being that they can be contested later in court if the holder believes that an infringement has occurred.
So, what I'm trying to say is that if ANY US organisation states that another party has violated their patent, until it is proven in court they may as well say that "their dad can beat up the other organisation's dad".
It's utter conjecture.
- How many hundred patent violations? My arse.
Complaints about comic book adaptions
If 'Spiderman III' is "silly", I'd like to know what adjective George would use to describe the adaption of 'Judge Dredd' by comparison.
Here's my suggestion: Megash*tydung.
[addendum] New Truth
Blow... not only did I mess up my Tory-turquoise quip, but the buggers have beaten me to it!
Should I take it that, being the politics-canary that I am, that it's time to back away to a safe distance?
So "New Labour" becomes "Labour", whilst what some of us remember as "Labour" will no doubt be referred to as "Old Labour" before too long. - Or maybe not at all. Politics does breed short memories, after all.
Intriguing that the new party colour also indicates the party's stance: somewhere between red(left) and blue(right).
Perhaps the Tory camp can follow suit by deriving a new party colour that infers left + environmental issues? Turquoise perhaps?
[Before people write in and start telling me about how the primary colours work, I'd like to point out that I'm referring to the subtractive spectrum ala mixing paint, or else the joke wouldn't work.]
Is it actually POSSIBLE to install any OS on a DELL machine these days?
A little bit of background:
I've just returned the Dimension E520 I ordered as a QA test machine, because although it came pre-installed with Windows XP Pro SP2 (it's an option), I could not actually run the installer from my MSDN distro.
When I called the business customer tech support, they said that their PCs "do not support the installation of any OS other than from the supplied install media". They of course refer to is the pre-installed disk image that you can use to blat over your HDD in times of trouble.
This is apparently necessary because their mainboard hardware is so flaky that it causes the WinXP installer to blue-screen-dump during initialization. I was told flatly that a multi-boot configuration on this machine (which is essential for my purposes) was not possible.
So here's my question:
If that's the case, then what chance would any Linux distro have in installing on this machine? Very little I suspect.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Ubuntu install media is also a disk image in order to side-step this issue and prevent customers returning their PCs when they can't install Linux themselves.
I recommend to anybody to use whatever OS they feel comfortable with, but don't buy one of these mass-produced corner-cut shams. You'll hit a brick wall the minute you diverge from the bare basic use-case.
What's the real issue here?
The real question is: Has the data protection act been breached?
Irrespective of the context, this is a really serious matter. If it was ASDA or NatWest, the "moral majority" wouldn't be scoffing at the troubles of what they perceive as an underclass. It would be breakfast TV news.
The complainants should make their cases individually through the publicly available legal channels, not whine about it on forums. (I accept that this may already be happening).
If the organisers say that these people gave permission to pass on their details, they will have this information to hand in order to prove their innocence. Surely they would gladly divulge this information to any legal body that requested it?
Refusing to even comment on the matter implies guilt, if you ask me. And having worked with people like this, I can tell you, they're usually more high than the punters.
[BLEEP] --- Reality distortion field disengaged ---
As I recall, the original 360 model that was demonstrated at E3 (or CeBIT I forget) was shown without an HDMI socket. When questioned about this, the rep from Ms gave the party line speech that there was "no plan to add an HDMI output." After some probing questions related to the PS3, the same rep was quoted as saying "If Sony do one, we'll do one".
Further up the Ms food chain, someone important said later that "HDMI is not necessary for HD gaming".
Sony then release the PS3 with an HDMI output on the higher spec model, partly I think because the 360 didn't have it, but mostly because they want blu-ray movie customers too.
Much muttering across the net ensues:
"360 will get an HDMI output..."
"No it won't, I'm sure those movies are faked..."
"...Ah but the mainboard pix look rather convincing..."
"...That picture is of a dev machine, which are black. It's a fake..."
"....Then why am I looking at a single-shot movie of an HDMI enabled 360 rendering to a HDTV?"
The 360 ELITE is announced. With the HDMI output added to the spec. And a few other bits. And it's black like the PS3. The news is that low volumes have been manufactured to a $480 premium. Everyone's talking about.
IS IT ME?
Microsoft, initiated by the competition, add a feature to the 360 that it should have had two years ago, and in doing so engineer a massive supply/demand discrepancy that enables them to charge a higher price tag in the process.
Damn, they're good.
Sound quality is in the ear of the beholder
As someone who worked on the development of the reference psychoacoustic model for AAC circa 1998-2000, I must say that the complainant to the Nokia ad was somewhat naive in their assessment that that AAC cannot be the same listening quality as a CD.
Yes, the transported bit-rates are starkly different. This is in fact the objective!
My point is this: during the circa 2000 MPEG listening tests (which were conducted in the manner described in the ITU-R BS1116 standard "Methods for the subjective assessment of small impairments in audio systems including multichannel sound systems"), we found that the AAC low-complexity profile appeared transparent to the 90% of the 100+ listeners @96kb/s joint stereo. This is using the MPEG critical audio items from the SQAM library.
Therefore, anybody who claims to hear the difference between a CD and the equivalent AAC stream @128kb/s is a big fat liar.
Nokia may want to consider referring to "listening quality" in their adds in future.
- Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
- Analysis Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
- Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
- Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
- OK, we get the message, Microsoft: Windows Defender splats 1000s of WinXP, Server 2k3 PCs