1564 posts • joined Wednesday 10th June 2009 11:28 GMT
Re: How did it win? Simple drug-dealer's economics
The first hit is free and you pay for the rest of your life.
Win 3.1 was almost free, as was the version of MS Office that ran on it.
After a majority of businesses had tied themselves into closed file formats ( "addicted") they started raising the price, justifying it with features that most users would have paid to have removed. But, hey, no way out, and no way not to "upgrade" to a more expensive fix.
They were also ruthless with the competition. Drugs dealers kill rivals. So did Microsoft (metaphorically speaking). It blatantly abused its position to put competitors out of business. Sometimes it ended up in court, but win or lose, it knew its competitors were not coming back from the corporate grave.
Re: Trying to hack the experts?
I wonder if we'll get to find out who has the upper hand in this arms race? I'm not convinced that it's possible for even a state to catch a clued-up and paranoid hacker who is merely launching DoS attacks on an internet address from bots. (The real spy-secret kit is doubtless a much harder target, heavily firewalled and hardened or entirely off-net).
Re: Luckily BBS software still exists...
There are a few new things since BBSs first appeared.. There are broadband satellites, for example. Presumably Iranians have friends overseas who can pay for a subscription? So old-style BBSs with small bandwidth requirements could still be connected to the internet in near realtime. Also with a wireless connection to the Iranian net, it would be pretty hard for the authorities to catch someone in the act of operating the router.
The dissenters could even play them at their own game and set up their own open network of ad-hoc peer to peer routers. Sounds like a good use for loads of cheap Rasberry Pi boards. Deploy and forget. Pringles-tube directional antennae to make it hard for the authorities to locate them, if they aren't in the know. With friends in adjacent countries it could even jump the borders. Some time ago I read about battlefield networking using golfball-sized nodes just scattered out of aeroplanes or missiles. A demilitarised version ought to be do-able for £50/node and falling. Maybe something the a news networks should develop, for places like Syria today, and a horribly likely future Iran.
"Interesting times". Is it actually possible to take a whole country off the internet? Ghadaffi tried it in the dying days of his rule, and failed. Now Iran is about to try. I hope they also fail.
Re: Not paying attention
Indeed. It was sheer dumb luck that the Costa Concordia was not a tragedy to match the Titanic. (Luck, or an "outstanding piece of seamanship" on the part of the captain who'd steered his ship onto the rocks in the first place).
What you're after is a brown dwarf - something larger than Jupiter but smaller than a red dwarf star, where nuclear fusion in the core generates just enough heat that the outer layers are the right temperature for liquid hydrogen oxide. Such a place might harbour life long after all normal stars have burned out and the universe has gone dark.
A long time ago I spotted the opportunity to replace four complex multiplications (24 floating ops) by three integer adds, one table lookup, and one complex multiply.
On a VAX CPU of the early 1980s that was a big win.
On today's, it's probably a big lose, because DRAM access is so slow compared to registers. Although, if the entire lookup table would fit into the CPU cache and be accessed many times from cache, maybe not.
And as for implementing it in a GPU ... I don't do this sort of coding any more. One thing for sure, a compiler isn't going to help. You may well have to go all the way back to the maths and choose a different algorithm.
Re: Just a heads-up
You forgot to mention that's only a sixth of the galaxy. The other five-sixths is something wierd that we're calling "dark matter" until we can work out how to get a better look at it.
And there are nearly as many galaxies in the (observable) universe as there are stars in this one.
And that lot, including the dark matter, is only about a quarter of the whole. The other three-quarters is somerthing even wierder than dark matter that we're calling "dark energy".
Now, do we have a volunteer to stick his head into the total perspective vortex?
Re: So any explanation offered...
A star dies by imploding, once it's internal nuclear reactions can no longer make enough heat to fight gravity.
If it started as a completely symmetric sphere it would collapse to a singular point, but stars are not completely symmetric. The evidence (fron observations of Betelgeuse) is that stars about to explode get pretty warty! The implosion will therefore go faster from some directions than others, and the faster-moving bits will slam through the centre and out the other side.
Something like that, anyway. Magnetohydrodynamics with nuclear processes being driven by the moving medium depending on its temperature and pressure would make for a VERY tough modelling problem.
I seem to remember that they have their own CPU design, which looks remarkably like a re-invention (or copy) of the old Digital Alpha architecture. (IMO, FWIW, that was the best CPU ever designed, but in its glory days Digital could bever get near Intel on the fabrication front, and shortly afterwards Digital the company destroyed itself).
In a sense they've also got TSMC (Taiwan semiconductor) which is one of the few outfits that has state-of-the-art fabrication tech.
Wait and watch. The "inscrutable Chinese" stereotype has more than a grain of truth to it.
If I've got my sums right
Energy density of a 100T field in a vacuum = 4 x 10^3 MJ/m^3 (air pretty much the same)
For comparison, energy density of gasoline = 34 x 10^3 MJ/m^3, less than 9x higher
Energy density of a magnet field goes as the field strength squared. This may give some insight into the self-destructive tendency!
Re: You don't need new laws
Here in the UK, yes, and even more so in the EU. It's a USA story.
Tales of the unexpected
Anyone else remembering the one where the company isn't happy just to interview the husband for a top-level promotion, but insists on interviewing his wife as well in a social setting?
She comprehensively blows his chances.
Which is exactly what they want, because he's using his job to steal from the company!
Re: I would have thought the simple answer is...
Possible, even probable, grounds for dismissal if they later find out that you lied to them.
I *really* don't have a Facebook account.
I still don't get it.
I still don't get it. Why do people feel a need to store every embarassing detail of their private lives in a huge database owned by a for-profit corporation, and then expect to keep it private?
As an old proverb says,
"Don't make love by the garden gate / Love is blind, but the neighbours ain't!"
I've always wondered why they didn't make Opterons with many Hyperchannel links many years ago, so that system-builders could take Hyperchannels through a little buffer chip between boards, or fruther using optical technology. Why did they stop at three, while they watched people building clusters using slower and less integrated technologies?
Only obvious with hindsight?
Indeed. I wonder if he knows what an F1 hybrid is?
It's my favorite way of upsetting educated racists. To get (say) plants with big red flowers, you selectively breed for such, in several completely separate groups. The trouble is in-breeding. The flowers get bigger and redder, but other recessives make the plants become weak and disease-prone. Then you mix up the groups. The bad recessives are different, and recede. What they all have in common is big and red, and they grow strong and healthy and much bigger and redder than any of their parents.
How does that annoy racists? It's setting the trap. You now get them to agree that in the past, humanity lived in small villages and rarely married outside even a 10-mile radius. (The inbred village idiot was commonplace).
Then you get them to agree that humans with free will direct their own breeding through their choice of partner. What are they choosing for? Strength, beauty. Intelligence? Probably all of those. Universal choices? Also probable. Weak Stupid offspring don't have great chances in the world. (I'll pass on ugly: beauty is in the eye of the beholder).
And once you get them to agree that every village was selecting these traits, offset by inevitable inbreeding, you point out that the industrial revolution increased 10 miles to 100, and that air travel has increased it to span the globe. Interracial marriages are creating human F1 hybrid children. Strong, beautiful, intelligent people.
I can't prove it, but it's far more plausible than the opposite. And racists? the inbred village idiots are still with us. They seek each other out!
Re: Wait, what?
Not how I read it in that context. 4 letters starting with C. No, not the usual C-word. Definitely racist.
Murderers often get 15 years, rapists can get less than five. Is murder only 100 times worse? Is rape only 30x worse?
It's not to say he's anything less than a horrible person, but as the proverb says "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me". If we can't bring back a day in the stocks (limited to squishy projectiles), community service would have sufficed.
Re: they can try
Blocked by a granite wall - are you sure? I've sent ordinary Wireless-G Ethernet 30 metres sideways and down through a reinforced concrete floor. Didn't even need directional antennae. Only got 5Mbps out of it, but it worked. How many Mbps does one need to read a meter?
Re: Rise Of The Socialists
Actually, no. If the abuse of power got that bad, then everyone would do what the criminal classes do already: an insulation-displacement bypass between the streetside of the meter and the house.
It's called theft at present, not protest.
Re: Why be part of a bad health experiment in your own home?
"Do some people become ill around certain common electrical devices? Also undoubtedly true."
Cite proof, please. A double-blind test.
Put a person who claims to be electro-sensitive in a screened room (Faraday cage) with a concealed wireless router, cellphone, whatever. Neither the experimental subject nor the person telling them what to do is allowed to know beforehand whether it is turned on or not. Ask them how they feel BEFORE finding that out. Repeat until a statistically significant body of evidence is gathered.
In a less kind and possibly unethical variant on this experiment, let the subjects know where the router is concealed (say, above a ceiling tile) but don't tell them about the spycam recording their every move and the *other* concealed router permanently turned on. I'd bet 9/10 "electrosensitive" subjects would feel the need to sneak a look at the router (and then report back that they're fine when they see it's turned off, despite the fact that the other one should be making them feel ill.
Might the point be that some people actually like to listen to their music in high fidelity? Which is quite definitely not what you get with a lossy-compressed download.
Re: Just a rumour
How does that differ from a personals ad "Chrissy Wayne, happy 21st from Ducky" or (approximate Heinlein quote) "James N, make your will. You have 27 days to live".
Both select prearranged messages: "Chrissy Ducky" or "N 27". As old as the hills, and less breakable.
Re: I nominate
Half a dozen power cables. Still perfectly OK, except that the EU has legislated that every piece of new equipment must be shipped with a new power flex. It's cheaper to recycle the old ones and to bin the new ones, because the old ones already have inventory and test record stickers attached and have already passed their PAT test.
Half a dozen Ethernet cables mangled and tangled to such an extent that the nearest bin beckons.
A pair of fetid trainers and/or socks
A Windows ME "Upgrade" kit
A charger with a wierd connector, possibly for a long-defunct mobile.
A dead mouse (the sort with a ball. Less often, the sort with two).
Re: Also a language issue
What characters are used in Welsh that aren't in the Roman alphabet? I just Googled "Welsh Alphabet" and didn't find such, just different pronunciations for things like w and dd. (Also scripts in which d g t and some other letters are written rather differently, but isn't that a font not an encoding issue? )
Solar (PV or thermal)
It's not economically competitive yet against burning fossil fuel(*), but if those fuels were not available it could certainly take over the planet's electricity generation and maintain a technological civilisation.
(*) Had just about got there in Arizona, but then the gas industry worked out how to extract tight gas by fraccing, and now there's a natural gas glut in the USA.
Re: People still buy HP printers?
If you don't want the extra software, then just ignore the CD that comes with the printer and download the minimum driver from HP's website. You'll find something like "HP Officejet Pro Enterprise Driver - IT Professional Use Only" (at least for the OJP range - dunno about the cheap deskjets).
Re: Can we have
If Robert Hooke hasn't yet featured on a banknote, he should be at or near the front of the queue.
Isaac Newton was a towering scientific genius but a fairly frightful man. He did all he could to bury Hooke's accomplishments, and took the credit for several things that Hooke should rightfully have been credited with.
Newton was also master of the Royal Mint, which is why is woud be such a good thing to honour Hooke with a place on a banknote!
Hawking isn't dead, and the tradition is that this rules him out. People are honoured with memorials after they are no longer alive.
Officejet Pro rocks
You're wrong about inkjets. HP's Officejet Pros routinely last well for tens of thousands of pages around here (university departments), and the cost of replacing them is a small fraction of the cost of the ink they've eaten. As for that ink cost, they are cheaper to run (including replacement cost) than most Laser printers costing the same or £100 more. Plus, they print colour. In short, HP's adverts for these are true.
Obviously running cost does depend on what one prints. I'm assuming text with the occasional splash of colour on a plain paper background, rather than A4 photographs or big blocky colour graphics. This is as printed by my users - research staff, not undergraduates. Your mileage may vary.
Colour quality of any colour laser printer isn't a patch on even the crappiest (but not knackered) ink-jet. HP OJPros are not intended for photo-quality printing, but they make a much better stab at it than a laser.
As for a big fast bomb-proof mono laser printer/ photocopier / Allin1, I'd vote for a Minolta BizHub (though on a sample size of just two).
Re: Fire ALL those involved in the design, manufacture, and service of HP printers.
How many of the other makes have you got and do they fare any better? There's not a printer in the world that can survive certain types of (ab)user for long. They do to printers as the BOFH does to managers. I mean, how do you get *coffee grounds* inside a printer? Anyway, it's the cost per page including both consumables and replacement printers that matters.
I'd rate Officejets and Laserjets in the £60 - £300 range highly (about 40 of them, various models). The cheapest ones are bad value (ink too expensive) unless you realy don't ever print more than a few hundred pages. The big expensive ones I just don't have experience with. Unique(?) selling point: they work like a charm with Linux via hplip (open-source but HP-supported).
OMG. OMG. OMG.
Apart from the target customer base (=everyone that uses computers!), what is there in common between a PC and a printer? Nothing.
When you put a crappy product division together with an excellent product division, what do you usually get? Crap all over the formerly good products.
I fear I'm soon going to have to start looking for a replacement default printer manufacturer. Especially if the first thing that the PC division (Microsoft-indoctrinated? ) does is to interfere with the hplip open-source linux-driver project. That's the reason that right now I don't even look at the competition: their linux support is so dreadful in comparison.
HP, don't put the printers in the crapper. De-merge the printers division if you must!
Re: Lord Of The Rizzzzzz
If you couldn't stand the books you won't like the films. If you absolutely loved the books then the films will inevitably disappoint. But worst movie of all time ... come on, have you really considered all of the above posts and decided RotK was worse than any of them?
Re: The Fermi paradox.
Large moons around gas giants seem common. (Several in our Solar system). Gas giants in the habitable zone seem common (many such exoplanets detected).
Surely the deduction is that ET is more likely to be living on a large moon than a small planet.
Also there's no problem I can think of with life evolving on (or in) a suitably warm gas-giant. It's thought that Earth's original atmosphere was much like Jupiter's is today. It's even possible that some day we'll discover high-pressure-tolerant life under Jupiter's clouds (Jupiter gets warmer the deeper you go). Speculating, I'd agree that it might be hard for such life to attain technology, for lack of anything solid to lay its (presumably non-existent) hands on.
When there was a great company called Pilkington that made glass for every application you could imagine and some you couldn't, they ran a corporate-image advert featuring a large iron nail being hammered into wood with a hammer made of glass. And at the end of the advert, the same nail being removed with the glass claw on the other end of the glass hammer.
If Apple made hammers ....
I'm no fanboi, but Apple at least knows how to make things pretty. Also that the right interface for an iPhone is not the same as the one for an iMac.
"Worst" is the superlative of "bad". "Bad" is the opposite of "good". The word is neutral, colourless: not shocking, not disgusting, not instantly forgettable nor horribly unforgettable.
On that basis it has to be "Battlefield Earth", doesn't it?
Madonna can't do movies.
If you are a producer and have to choose between Madonna and a house-brick for your actress, go with the brick.
Despite or because of this, "Desperately Seeking Susan" was fun. The filmographies have Madonna down as a supporting role, but in the pre-release publicity it was very clear she thought she was the lead. Rosanna Arquette completely, comprehensively and absolutely stole the film. Madonna playing a brick (or possibly herself) worked quite well as a foil for Rosanna's talent.
Re: John Carpenter's Dark Star
It was complete genius. Sure, the special effects, er, weren't. But it was made on a budget that wasn't so much a shoestring as a single thread of silk too short to make anything with. Except that he did. Sure, you have to turn the spacehopper into an alien in your imagination, but that's not so hard.
The whole thing was a pitch for a chance at a big budget, that worked. Except, I prefer "Dark Star"!
It was a can-do culture back then. People didn't take "no" for an answer, and the engineers were in charge. Try - fix the failures - try again - repeat until you are pretty sure you have reached the limit of the possible. It normally only happens in war-time. Well, it pretty much was war-time, but mercifully the nukes were never actually loosed.
In peacetime, zombies take over. They have no concept of experimentation and honorable failure. They demand an assurance of complete success in advance. When something works, they take all the credit (and the pay-rises). When something fails, they shoot the messenger (and often the whole engineering team, for good measure). Ultimately they redefine success as successfully causing increasingly untrue or meaningless words to be assembled on sheets of paper, while running any and all actual hardware into the ground. And of course, they are forever breeding more of their own kind, until there are so many zombies that society completely collapses.
For zombies, read bureaucrats, if you don't already think the two synonymous. And in the USSR, "shoot" wasn't always hyperbole.
Vacuum survivability = a few minutes?
I thought human survivability in vacuum was minutes, not "under a second". Anyone know if it's been animal-tested? I'd have thought it must have been.
One would have to exhale as pressure was reduced, and would normally black out from lack of oxygen maybe 15 seconds later. Death from lack of oxygen takes 3-4 minutes. By hyper-ventilating in advance, one might remain conscious for longer.
The other problem is that water at blood temperature will boil in vacuum. However, a body's membranes are quite tough and will maintain the small fraction of an atmosphere needed to prevent this for some time. My guess is that lack of oxygen would be fatal before embolisms.
Explosive decompression presents greater hazards.
The real problem
The real problem is that time itself in a mystery. How do we know that ten seconds measured today (accurate to 14 decimal places) is the same amount of whatever time might be, as ten seconds measured yesterday? Or last century? Or in the age of the dinosaurs? Or "seconds" after the start of the universe?
We don't. We know only that multiple clocks involving different vibrating entities that agreed on a number yesterday, also do so today, within their individual limits of accuracy (whatever that means). We can't take today's clock back to double-check yesterday's measurement. Time goes forwards only.
IT angle: in a computer or other clocked logic, the exact frequency or regularity of the clock is fairly unimportant. The presence or absence of skew between the clock here and the clock there is critical to the correct operation of the whole thing. A wild speculation: the universe ends when it expands so far that "clock skew" prevents it from working.
Prior art from the 19th century?
Go right back to the earliest days of photography! A photographer put a ground glass plate into his camera and ducked under the hood to adjust the focus, aperture, framing etc. That's a preview! Then he replaced the ground glass screen with a photographic plate, and waited until it was exposed (which for the earliest photographs, was minutes or even hours, not milliseconds).
Atolls do sink
It was actually Charles Darwin who first worked out how coral atolls form around a volcano which starts sinking back into the earth once it becomes extinct. From its shape, you can deduce that this one is indeed in the last stages of sinking beneath the ocean. Most of what was once a circular reef has already sunk beneath the waves.
How much of what they are seeing is sea-level rsing and how much is rock-level sinking is probably unanswerable. Regardless, the islander's plight is very real!
Unless, of course, the industry definition of areal density is simply the number of bits stored on a platter divided by (pi times radius squared). It doesn't necessarily make sense to exclude the hole in the middle, since its necessary size may be part of a complex design trade-off. Thinks ... a smaller hole means a narrower spindle which will be less rigid and vibrate more, meaning you have to put the tracks further apart to allow for that. So there's definitely an optimum to be sought.
Re: $35 million but can't afford an iPad?
"Freakonomics"? No, just check out our own industry's major players. "The first hit is free" (90 day free trial software) but after you've used it for a while, you'll be locked in for life. Where do you think they got their business model from?
Robot Kangaroo anyone?
My guess is that they'd find kangaroo-style running easier. Why? Because kangaroos have a less evolved brain than other mammals. Also because tripedal stability is easier than quadrapedal.
I'll be worried when it can carry its own power supply and run on grass. (At that point I'll start having nightmares about the Beast in "Farenheit 451").
Re: "Sensitive Personal Data"
You or I may not regard our name, phone numbers and permanent address as sensitive. If you were being pursued by an unbalanced or outright homicidal ex-partner or stalker, you might feel very differently. Especially after s/he had obtained that information by accessing the USA copy of your PNR, and visited you with a gun / knife / bottle of acid.
You might also find that if you were in that situation, it's highly probable that an intelligence agency's automated passenger record filtering system might decide that you were of greater interest than the average traveller. They don't know *why* you've changed your address three times in the past year, and your bank account five times, but they have noticed that you have done so.
Re: No touchscreen, very painful learning curve
Why on earth can't it just detect its display hardware and default appropriately? Touchscreen hardware, default to touch interface. Non-touch screen plus keyboard, default to desktop mode. (I'd suggest a what-do-you-want screen if it finds touch-screen with a connected keyboard, or non-touch-screen without a keyboard).
And put a visible start button back in the Desktop mode before it's too late and gets damned like Vista. Invisible buttons go with invisible clothes, and we all know about the Emperor's new clothes.
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