42 posts • joined 22 May 2009
Re: How could we have been so stupid?
Gravitational theories are models, approximations, abstractions of what is really going on (there might be some hypothesing about what is really going on too). For an IT focused website I'm surprised this isn't more understood since a lot of software is merely a simplified abstraction/model of something in real life, e.g. desktop GUI metaphors, databases, spreadsheets, games etc.
Einstein's model/maths of gravity is more accurate than Newton's model/maths, and whilst there might be some hard to believe hypothesising behind the maths in both to explain why the maths might work (e.g. Newton's instantenous action at a distance with little in the way of describing how this works, space-time bending with Einstein) the hypothesising doesn't have to be correct for the model/maths to still be useful. If the moon missions merely used the Newtonian gravity model/maths for their calculations because it was useful and accurate enough, it doesn't mean that Newton's model is completely accurate or Newton's hypothesising was right. Nor does all the technology out there like GPS that uses Einstein's models mean that the Einstein's models are completely accurate or his hypothesising was right.
Whilst the maths might get more complex for more accuracy, the underlying theories/hypothesis don't have to be more complex to be more true, since complexity can still be derived from simple things. There are some beautifully simple theories out there, like Darwin's Theory of Evolution. For me, I personally think it is a pity that there isn't an equivalent one, something Darwinian in its simplicity, for gravity yet.
Theories will evolve and improve, just like evolution, but just like evolution it is sometimes easy to take a wrong turning way back in your journey that initially leads to much better things but ultimately fails to take you to the final destination. I can't help thinking that mainstream science (the science getting the majority of air-time, press and funding) might currently be taking us on a ride up those hillocks on mount improbable
http://youtu.be/Lds99_Zn29Q?t=28m34s (hillocks on mount improbable video)
Re: How could we have been so stupid?
No, I'm referring to theoretical physics, the search for a theory of everything, etc, which is what Professor John Archibald Wheeler was also referring to in his quote.
How could we have been so stupid?
"Behind it all is surely an idea so simple, so beautiful, that when we grasp it - in a decade, a century, or a millennium - we will all say to each other, how could it have been otherwise? How could we have been so stupid?"
Professor John Archibald Wheeler 1986
A quote that sums up for me the gravy train of science that has been going on for a long time, and will continue to do so, coming up with a lot of complex "stupid" theories, which unfortunately a lot of people think are clever theories, because they are so complex.
This was a good idea, even in 2010
I commented that this kind of thing would be a good idea on another article back in 2010!
I wonder why it took Google so long since then to come up with this.
Watching you, watching our ads
Watching you watching your ad quota before we give you "free" content. I remember reading about this idea in one of Stephen Baxter's sci fi books.
I like Wize's idea of putting a photo in front of the camera. If the camera detects the static photo hack, then place a cheap android device in front playing a video of people watching TV. If they introduce twin '3D' cameras like MS Kinect then we might be stuffed, and we might actually have to watch adverts!
Alternatives to TypeScript
If Typescript is a "better than" JS style language that converts to JS code, and people are interested in it, then they should also have a look at the HAXE language too, which not only converts to JS, but also converts to other languages like PHP, C++, C#, AS.
If MPs really want to do something that will benefit this country in this "internet economy", they first need to close the tax loopholes that allow the biggest internet players like Google, Amazon, Ebay, Apple etc to avoid paying a large chunk of UK tax by using offshore companies in the likes of Luxembourg and Ireland.
As for making money from apps, it's nice to see a report from academia containing a good piece of common sense. It is difficult to make money from app products. Most app writers wont make a decent return. There will be stories about the Angry Birds success, and more moderate stories about some making a modest living, but in the long tail graph, these success stories are in the minority compared to all the other app makers who don't make a decent return. Any maths done based on just salaries will be flawed too, since in most cases a large proportion of money would have to be spent on marketing/advertising the app.
Less AR, more alternative screen HCI (human computer interaction)
I'm not so interested in augmented reality (AR), but I am more interested in alternative screen technologies and a computer/browser device that is easier to use in awkward places, e.g. browsing and reading articles on the web whilst lying down sunbathing on holiday, standing up on a long overcrowded train journey, trying to work at home outside in the garden on a sunny day.
Wouldn't this type of screen be a battery saver too, compared to normal larger screens?
As for that video clip, I thought it funny that Google were suggesting that this product was for the same sort of people who think they can learn to play Ukulele in a day!
I was also a bit worried what this guy was doing going near a ledge atop a high building. Was the despair of modern technology getting to him?
Watching my tv, or is it watching me?
"Cause I can feel the storm clouds coming
Watching my tv, or is it watching me?"
from Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds The Death Of You And Me
Not app-tastic yet in the UK
I love that Doug quote, thanks CADmonkey!
I like the watery background image on the TV, I'll have to get something like that for my desktop.
As for app-tastic, not in the UK at least for now. Over a year ago (2010) Samsung started competitions encouraging developers to create apps for their TV platform
It is now 2012 and Samsung's UK TV appstore, the only one we have access to in the UK, still doesn't have the purchase infrastructure to support commercial apps.
Developers, Developers, Developers, 2006 or 2000?
I thought that original chant was from a Microsoft conference back in 2000 (2006 might have been the date when the video was uploaded to youtube).
I developed a 3D game app(lication) for Windows back in 1998, using Microsoft's "future proof" technologies at that time, VB6 and Direct3DRM, both of which were subsequently dropped by Microsoft, so my game doesn't work on Vista or Windows 7 (mainly because of the Direct3DRM COM API being dropped). So perhaps the Microsoft chant should be:
"changing goal posts, changing goal posts, changing goal posts"
"rewrite, rewrite, rewrite"
And in the past few years I see this happening all over again with confusion over what "future proof" MS technology to use for UI work (WinForms, Silverlight, WPF, etc ).
It has its frameworks, but hasn't every language, and wont Google's new language end up with frameworks too? After all frameworks are just higher level abstractions designed by developers to make things easier for their particular intended task.
Unity and Flash 11 Molehill
"Unity Technologies has long offered a plug-in for running 3D games in the browser at its Unity platform, but the San Francisco-based outfit is now porting the game platform to run as a Native Client application. This means that developers can deliver their Unity-based games to Chrome without asking the user to install the plug-in – and at the same time, they can take advantage of the Native Client sandbox."
Unity are also looking into porting their engine to Adobe Flash 11 molehill technology (with its 3D hardware acceleration):
Pregnancy test app joke
That article reminds me of the joke about developing a pregnancy test app for the iphone, in order to get all the stupid people to pee on their iphone.
a bit of fun
"Nice strumming but... I don't hear anything resembling the Nokia theme...?"
Thanks for the feedback, perhaps I made it too subtle.
I quite like someone else's entry 665 Gran Vals Pub Gig - which isn't subtle at all!
It's a fun contest, and a popular one. I uploaded my entry mid-afternoon yesterday and it was entry 662, mid morning today and the entry count is 1027.
What the hell, it seems like a bit of fun...
Read the article today, got the guitar out, and added my own Nokia tone variation to the contest. So if you want to listen to an entry by a fellow The Register reader, the link is:
click on # column header to order by entry, and the entry is 662 Nokia Foot Tapping Acoustic Guitar
or the direct link is:
Be careful with the audio volumes on that site, I cannot work out where the volume control is on their player (so some tunes might be loud).
Cambridge Computer Z88 1987
Anyone remember the UK's original iPad/Kindle/tablet/netbook/smartbook forerunner way back in 1987, Sir Clive Sinclair's Cambridge Computer Z88:
I wonder how that would have evolved if they kept at it.
Unfortunately compression and artefacts are everywhere nowadays
"I have often wondered about the mental state of folk who pay more for a lossy download than the CD itself costs from HMV or Amazon.
Oh I forgot! It's the stupid kidz!"
Heh heh. Not to mention everyone else who have been mislead by the consumer electronics industry into thinking:
1. Compressed mpeg video on DVDs is better quality than lossless VHS
2. Compressed HD camcorders are better quality than lossless miniDV
3. Compressed digital tv is better quality than old analogue
4. LCD TVs are better quality than CRT displays (early ghosting of fast moving images, bad pixels, etc)
5. HD TVs are better quality than normal TVs when showing normal TV signals, which they aren't due to resolution upscaling artefacts
etc and so on...
(note I'm talking quality not resolution here, quality not quantity)
every time you use Google, a puppy dies
he told his children. "Remember, every time you use Google, a puppy dies."
I read that as him threatening to his children that if they used Google, he would kill one of their puppies. Looking at his blog with a picture of him with a rifle kind of backs up this interpretation.
Most ISPs already internet block
<<"We believe in an open internet – we won't do any other blocking," he told us. "We will never stop our customers getting to any service they want to get to.>>
Website blocking maybe, but internet blocking as a whole? Most ISPs and other companies offering email services already participate in an internet blocking scheme, known as spam blacklist IP blocking, which in simple terms prevents email sent from blacklisted IP addresses (whether the email is bona fide or not) arriving in your inbox.
There's an app for that...
My favourite saying, which I find applicable in a good proportion of cases:
There's an app for that... it's called a web browser
The Spanish Inquisition sketch
I want a TV for the main purpose of watching TV programmes...
... and watching films I rent on DVD from my Blockbusters shop,
OK I want a TV for two purposes, to watch TV programmes and to watch films I rent on DVD from my Blockbusters shop...
...and to exercise to that keep fit DVD I've got.
OK I want a TV for three purposes, to watch TV programmes, to watch films I rent on DVD from my Blockbusters shop, and to exercise to that keep fit DVD I've got...
and to play that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire DVD game we got at Christmas when we have friends around.
OK, amongst my reasons for wanting a TV are diverse elements like watching TV programmes, watching the films I rent on DVD from my Blockbusters shop, exercising to that keep fit DVD I've got, and playing that Who Wants To Be A Millionaire DVD game we got at Christmas when we have friends around.
... and so on, and I haven't even mentioned the TV programme menu, viewing digital photo albums, viewing home camcorder footage, playing console games, etc. Smart TV is merely opening up the TV to similar or more uses, similar uses that we currently put traditional TVs to (but with more of an online element), and other uses too.
Not just for TVs
"I want my TV to remain a dumb display terminal"
It is possible to keep it simple with your TV but still make use of Samsung's Internet@TV technology. Just get a Samsung Blu-ray player with Internet@TV built in. It is a bit of a misnomer, but the Smart TV platform definitely isn't confined to TVs, it is also available in blu-ray players, and it is possiby the cheaper blu-ray players that will make this technology more mainstream.
Going the Blu-ray route is the most cost-effective way of accessing this technology, and it also makes sense to have the internet connectivity in your blu-ray for other things like BD-Live, part of the Blu-ray profile 2.0 which requires an internet connection.
The other benefit of having an internet connected device is that it makes firmware upgrades easier to do, if you choose to accept a firmware upgrade (e.g. if you are experiencing particular problems that only a firmware upgrade will resolve).
So, if you want to get YouTube on your TV, and perhaps other apps too (viewers for your online photo albums, viewers for your favourite social networking site, etc), it is possible to do this with an £89 Samsung Internet@TV Blu-ray player.
Low end too
"this is aimed at hig end tellys"
The Samsung Internet@TV platform is not just for the high end tellys, it is also available on the lower end Blu-ray players. The Samsung BD-C5500 is available now on Amazon and Dixons for £89 which puts it in the price category of being cheaper than a iPod Touch, a decent Android device, a Wii, XBox, PS3 etc. (the BD-C5500 has an ethernet port for internet connectivity to your router, it is possible to add a USB wifi dongle too but that is a separate purchase, more expensive models have wifi built in)
"robots racing rather sedately though mazes."
The Samsung EU contest has 3 separate target market contests: UK, Germany, France. The contest is open to the whole EU, and out of the 19 submissions to the UK contest, only 7 were from UK-based developers! So my company is one of the few companies representing the UK in this European challenge, even for the UK contest. It's a bit like Eurovision, but for apps not songs! (The public vote is only one small part of the contest, the main parts of the contest are judged by a judging panel.)
I must say that for now, the killer app for these devices for me is the Youtube app, which comes as standard with the device. And having this does remove the need for a lot of the other video based apps. But saying that, having the Safari browser on the iPhone removes the need for many iPhone apps too, a favourite saying of mine is "I have an app for that, it is called the browser".
As for non-video apps, like simple games, I do hope there is also a market for the casual game, the fun family or friends together casual game, or simple interactive games for children.
"what privacy is there when you're hosting a public website anyway?"
Website visitor statistics and monitoring.
Something that Google has been keen to find out as much as possible about in the past, what with monitoring clicks on its search engine, adsense on websites, offering google analytics to websites, offering the google toolbar to users, offering the Chrome browser to users, etc - all of which help google monitor who is visiting what website. That's the privacy area that is worth checking with this new release of code.
No direct website thumbnails?
I was hoping to see small website thumbnails directly in the results like www.exalead.com/search but I guess that Google have well and truly shot themselves in the foot and made it difficult for them to implement this because of their introduction of the already bandwidth heavy Google Instant.
Bing should see this as an opportunity, and avoid a google instant approach like the plague, but go down the more visual results route with website thumbnails directly in the results.
Mouse tracking patent
Moving your mouse over to the magnifying glass icon in the search results, in order to get a website preview, also makes more sense of Google's recent mouse monitoring search/ads patent:
Office Live website builder too?
If Microsoft are forcing their Live spaces blog users to move over to Wordpress.com, it makes sense to me that they will also close their free website builder Office Live in the future too, since Wordpress.com should be able to do what the Office Live sitebuilder does. Wordpress isn't just for posting blog posts, it allows normal websites with normal web pages to be built too, so wordpress.com is a hosted website builder as much as it is a blogging platform too. Those users that have a Microsoft Office Live website with a Live Spaces blogging section linked within the website, will probably realise this Wordpress.com can do both once they move their blogging over.
It is better than most mobile phones on the market, in that it includes a real ink pen - very useful.
Thanks Giles for that great review, it is nice to see products used in anger in reviews.
You clearly went to a lot of effort to do that review (I guess that could be classed as an exhaustive review) and I appreciate that. I'm particularly interested to see how such video cameras cope with fast moving backgrounds in sports video shots (which are more difficult to digitally compress), and the sample videos give some good indication of this.
The shots you got were pretty good too.
One of many 3D metaphor projects
3D interfaces, 3D desktop metaphors, have been investigated in the past by quite a few of the big players, including Sun (Project Looking Glass), Microsoft (e.g. Task Gallery), and Apple (e.g. Multi-dimensional desktop). When you then include smaller companies, there are a hell of a lot more companies who have tried to come up with a useful 3D interface too. Even my small company, Abstract Worlds Ltd, toyed with the idea with some back-burner projects in the late 90s and early 00s with our PC and Java phone 3D engines, but we were unable to create anything useful at that time, pretty yes, useful no.
With mobile phones of various screen sizes, developing in 3D does have benefits even if you present a mainly 2D interface, because it means you are not hardcoding to particular screen sizes. We found this benefit especially useful with our Java phone game in 2002 Strangemaze 3D since one version would work on various phones various screen sizes.
It also makes sense that if you are limited by small screen sizes, as you are with mobile phones, then if you cannot expand x or y then make use of the virtual z axis. However you can expand x and y, it is called panning or scrolling, and that along with zoom, can make the z axis redundant even though you are giving the user the impression of going backwards or forwards depthwise with zoom. Perhaps the most useful application of this kind of 3D to date is the iPhone's multi-touch drag and zoom, which isn't 3D at all.
But who says you have to use full 3D at all (one of the mistakes of VRML which was full 3D) to give the user a type of 3D experience (the original raycasted 2.5D Wolfenstein or Doom anyone? 360 panoramic images, etc)
I thought that phone manufacturers like Nokia, and other software vendors that shipped Java, traditionally signed licensing agreements with Sun in order to get permission to do so (not just for copyright issues but other isues like intellectual property, patents, trademarks, etc).
I can understand why Apple wisely steered clear of including Java in their iPhone and iPads.
As a developer who used to develop Java games for mobile phones, I was a bit disappointed about Apple not including Java, but I had pulled out of that market well before then, so not so disappointed.
Google Chrome Frame in reverse?
Here is a thought and a potential workaround solution.
Google Chrome Frame is a plug-in for IE, including IE6, which gets the Chrome browser to kick in for certain sites, and the Chrome Frame runs as a plug-in to IE so the user thinks they are still using IE.
Couldn't government use a solution like this, a plug in for IE6 where IE6 is used for the internal legacy websites, but the google chrome frame plug-in kicks in for more modern sites.
Alternatively, write a IE6 Frame plugin. Use a modern browser like Firefox (or Chrome), and write a plug-in which allows the IE6 web browser to kick in for certain legacy sites. Essentially Google Chrome frame in reverse.
New google search user interface coming?
This news, coupled with the recent extension of Google's images search result user interface (UI) to offer more information when the user mouseovers an image, does suggest that perhaps google might be changing its main search results UI to offer more information when the user mouseovers a result in the future.
That would be interesting if google are toying with the idea of changing the main results UI in this way, quite a different change to something that has been fairly static and lacking in the past in terms of a rich interactive user experience.
Although offering more information to mouseovers still ignores the touch screen phone and touch screen pad/tablet users where there are no mouseovers.
Monitoring mousedowns since Nov 2003
Google have been monitoring user mousedowns (mouse clicks on results) in their search results since Nov 2003, so taking this one step further by monitoring mousemoves isn't really anything new.
To see what Google have been doing with mousedowns since November 2003, search on Google for:
google click monitoring onmousedown return clk
and you will find some articles about this.
Whether monitoring mousemoves is useful or not is another story. How many people read with their finger, (or the mouse cursor equivalent), and what about the new touch devices like the iPad and tablet competitors, and the touch phones etc, all of which do not have the equivalent of a mouseover (at least not when the finger is not in contact with the touch surface, i.e. not dragging).
Opera Mini or Opera Mobile
I find it strange that Opera would be pushing their Java based Opera Mini browser, when a closer match would have simply been their Opera Mobile product, which already is a native application. I have downloaded and run Opera Mobile for Symbian Series 60 on my Nokia 5800 as an additional browser, and it works OK, although the Nokia 5800 built-in browser is good too and has some support for Flash (Flash Lite).
It would be nice if Apple would allow Opera Mobile into their app store, or even better an Opera Mobile with Adobe Flash support, but I can't see this happening anytime soon based on what Apple are saying about not wanting competing products, products with their own scripting, etc. It is possible to get Opera with some Flash (Flash Lite) on the Nintendo Wii, but the Opera for the Nintendo DS does not have Flash.
Expensive? It isn't as bad as it sounds...
It might sound expensive on a first glance of this review, i.e.
"£180 Sim-free or £0-50 (Contract)"
which gives the impression, as with most mobile phone purchases, that you either pay a lot up-front with no contract, or you pay little and get tied into a long contract, which might not suit occasional users.
But this is not the case. The Three site's contract can be as little as 1 month, more like PAYG (pay as you go), so for occasional users, you can pay £50 for the device outright, along with £15 for 1 month's PAYG 3GB data allowance. Then the next time you need it, say you are away from the office in a few month's time again, you then buy just another month's data allowance PAYG for that month.
Three call all of their plans for this device 'contracts', even just the 1 month plan, which most of us would class as PAYG.
Ad blocker anyone?
mobile browser freedom
It seems that the more open platforms for mobile browser freedom come from Nokia and Microsoft. I am reading and commenting on this page using a Nokia 5800 with Symbian Series 60 which has its own nice browser but I have also installed the Opera Mobile (not Mini) browser, which is also available on Windows Mobile.
IR35 affects more than just contractors
IR35's problem all along is that it affects more than just contractors. It affects any small business wanting to start up in the IT software or services sector.
With any small company startup, you try to minimise what you take out of the company, because the company needs that money for marketing, development, PR, advertising, running and expansion costs, etc. But along comes IR35 and it says NO, most of the money coming into your company has to go straight out again as personal income and tax (unless you come up with come convoluted client supplier agreement whose terms might end up putting your client off and losing you your client).
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