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* Posts by John 62

913 posts • joined 15 Jun 2009

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Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray

John 62
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Re: Four words ...

Call me an heretic if you want, but here's my JMJ opinion:

Oxygene is a good album, more listenable overall than Equinox, but I really only want to listen to movement IV. Equinox on the other hand has three movements that are really worth listening to: IV, V and VI. I think every computer game music composer of the 80s must have listened to Equinox at some point!

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IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels

John 62
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Re: Skeletons in the closet

I don't think there were many companies from the time that are still around that have a whiter than white record.

The past really is the past. We have to learn from it and move on.

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Amazon buys Comixology for content crossover capers

John 62
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"comics are a cheap-ish R&D lab for character development"

The studios want this to be true, but they spoil it all by developing pretty much all-new characters for the movies anyway, such that it seems the only similarity to the comic is the name or perhaps the colour of the costume.

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Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style

John 62
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Re: And from an actual user of the S5...

Key-clicks are the first thing I turn off on a phone. Like the Apple 'gloop' when changing volume and 'Start Navigation' sound on Windows.

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Samsung unveils fourth-generation Galaxy Tabs

John 62
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16:10!

1280x800 sounds good. Not the highest res, obviously, but on a 10" device, it's pretty good. You know the best thing? It's 16:10!

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IBM PCjr STRIPPED BARE: We tear down the machine Big Blue would rather you forgot

John 62
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Re: Need to send a cricket ball...

According to my web researches it was the Gaelic Athletic Association that first codified Rounders. Baseball's US founders modified the GAA's Rounders rules to make Baseball.

Slightly less well-researched: I also heard on the TV once that a south pacific chief was unimpressed by cricket until he decided both batsmen should play at the same time, and said they should have a bowler coming in from each end.

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Oxfam, you're full of FAIL. Leave economics to sensible bods

John 62
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The problem is often liquidity, not inequality

I think the problem is liquidity rather than inequality. You might have lots of shares, property, etc, but they don't mean much in your bank account when you need dosh at short notice. Likewise property often attracts lots of costs (e.g. maintenance, security, etc). Plus, owning an house only puts you at a wealth advantage if you can dispose of it for less than it would cost to house you for the rest of your life.

I recently joined the ranks of the negatively wealthy by buying an house with the help of a mortgage. I have some savings and an income so we can live comfortably right now, but we could theoretically be turfed out by the bank if it wants its share of our house's equity.

Inequality isn't a big problem so long as the bell curve of wealth is wide enough and people can live comfortably.

Magna Carta happened because no one person was powerful enough to dictate things. We celebrate it because of the philosophical value, but the reality was that it mostly affected the barons who owned lots of land. They were the ones who had most to lose if the king arrested them without due cause. The peasants' lot was most improved by the forest charter, which was also signed at the time of Magna Carta.

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Blighty goes retro with 12-sided pound coin

John 62
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Re: Public competition?

The design is nice, but there are no numerals on the coins! Hardly tourist friendly.

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Star Wars movie to start shooting in UK this summer

John 62
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Re: Star Wars is a remake of The Dambusters!

Maybe Guns of Navarone?

Force 10 From Navarone which came out the year after Star Wars perhaps stole the Star Wars idea of destroying the enemy's superweapon, but also stole Harrison Ford (instead of Mark Hammill)

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Samsung and Apple BEWARE: Huawei is coming to eat your lunch

John 62
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Pronunciation

Matsushita named its consumer division Panansonic, but then most English speakers would have problems with the 'tsu' syllable.

I don't think Huawei should really be 'wah - way', which is like the BBC pronunciation unit telling reporters to call the ex-Cote d'Ivoire president bag-bo instead of gba-gbo. Disregarding the tonal aspect, Huawei should probably be more like 'hwa - way'.

Huawei really came out of nowhere in backend telecoms kit, too. They ate Nortel's lunch in more than one market and I'm sure along with ZTE, they were responsible for Siemens exiting the sector and for Alcatel-Lucent posting similar numbers to Nortel for a couple of years before Nortel died. Alcatel-Lucent is probably only being held up by French and US patriotism.

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Google's SECRET contracts: Android lock-in REVEALED!

John 62
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Re: Sooooo

While I think DrPizza/Mr Bright's example of in-app-purchasing as a tool of Google lock-in was misguided, I think his point still stands: Microsoft is being encouraged from all sides to fork Android and use an hypothetical Micro-Droid OS to replace Windows Phone OS, but because of the way Google is developing Android, Android as a base OS is becoming less and less relevant. i.e. all the Google bits that are interesting to Android users (Maps, email, Play Store, Drive, etc) are Google exclusive and MS would have to replace them. Granted MS has Bing Maps, outlook.com, a Windows Phone App Store, OneDrive etc, so it has an advantage over other players, but it won't magically get millions of apps to fill out the Windows Phone App Store, because developers will have to target different APIs for the Google Play Store and Windows Micro-Droid Store, as well as getting apps accepted on two different stores.

Behold, BlackBerry did something similar, instead of forking Android, they bought in a seriously engineered OS, but whither the apps!? So they noted that a lot of Android apps just need the Dalvik VM and don't even necessarily need the Google-proprietary APIs, so they implemented the Dalvik VM for BlackBerry OS 10. That worked so well for BlackBerry that they exited the consumer market.

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The perfect fantasy flick for the online Valentine you've never met: Her

John 62
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Jonathan Galecki

Is it just me or does the star of Her look like Darlene's boyfriend with a moustache? Is that supposed to be a deliberate reference to the geekiness of Big Bang Theory?

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Rotten to the core: Apple’s 10 greatest FAILS

John 62
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Serious question:

what's wrong with it?

Perhaps the multi-tasking vs Springboard dichotomy is a bit disjointed (better than touch-wiz's identical-looking widgets vs applications screens though) and the little chevrons for the notification shade and control centre aren't quite in line with the Helvetica Light look, but seriously, please share your thoughts.

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John 62
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Antennagate affects everyone, not just apple

http://dontholditwrong.tumblr.com/

All phones suffer if their antenna is blocked by a microwave-absorbing material, like human flesh.

Apple had one particular problem with signal-dropping if and only if the user's hand was slightly moist and they held the phone in such a way that it would bridge two of the antennas (thus detuning them significantly). Granted Apple was a bit arrogant at first (the "Don't hold it wrong" email surely didn't pass the PR dept's reviewers), but they were also rather unfairly treated by the press when competitors' phones had demonstrably similar characteristics.

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Woz he talking about? Apple co-founder wants iPhones to run Android

John 62
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Re: Ha!

Like Google's walled garden?

http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/02/neither-microsoft-nokia-nor-anyone-else-should-fork-android-its-unforkable/

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NASA quandary: Should Curiosity channel Fast and Furious for Martian dune-buggy jump?

John 62
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The thing is, although the speed seems gung-ho, on earth, you really do need to drive fast enough to maintain momentum over the surface to avoid the wheels getting bogged down.

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Facebook turns 10: Big Brother isn't Mark Zuckerberg. It's YOU

John 62
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Mr Orlowski's Facebook experience is obviously different from mine

I have friends of all types.

Anyway, for me Facebook's real value was when it became a good-enough, free, photo album with no upload limits. Sure, it compresses images into crap sometimes, but it was pretty easy to use and let you share photos of a fun time you had with your friends, without having to go and get them developed.

However, I will concede that Facebook does not know me that well, since it chose a pretty poor selection of items for the movie it made of my life since I joined (though it was hilarious to see them).

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Duracell powers into cloud storage market

John 62
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I know I'm responding to an Onion quote, but stay with me!

Gillette didn't stick with 3 blades an aloe strip, they put a AAA battery in the razor handle and a motor that did nothing useful except make the handle heavier and threaten to give you vibration white finger.

Then they bought the company that made 4 bladed razors. Yes. Wilkinson Sword, Gillette's main rival is owned by Gillette now!

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HELLO LENOVO. Do you really, really want to make smartphones?

John 62
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Re: Lenovo's Plans

But Lenovo is already selling _lots_ of smartphones in China. Why would they want Motorola, except to get a foothold in the US market? Lenovo is arguably scared of Huawei as much as Samsung.

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ESA's Sentinel-1 earth-gazing satellite will be flung aloft later this year

John 62
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the sentinels with protect us from the X-Men

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Amateurs find the 'HOLY GRAIL' supernova – right on our doorstep

John 62
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well, considering a neutrino has a very, very small mass, it can be accelerated up to pretty close to the speed of light. From guess at the amount of energy available in a supernova, I'd say the neutrinos are all accelerated up to their maximum speed. The interesting thing is that although neutrinos have mass and hence have to travel a little slower than photons, they don't interact much with anything and travel in pretty straight lines, so photons while photons get deflected by gravity along the way and suffer from slow downs due to changes in permitivity, neutrinos can arrive sooner than photons from the same event.

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Two white dwarfs and superdense star. Yup, IDEAL for gravity lab in the sky - boffins

John 62
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Re: how? (@Nigel 11)

Your asterisk is almost right.

Bosons are things like photons, things that can pass through each other without interacting (i.e. two or more bosons can occupy the same space).

Electrons, protons and neutrons are all fermions, things that interact with each other and cannot pass through each other (i.e. two or more fermions cannot occupy the same space).

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ALIEN WORLD Beta Pictoris snapped by Earth's Gemini 'scope

John 62
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Re: I Saw this Coming 20 Years Ago!!!

sadly that's so bad it's good

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Rogue Android: We show you how BlackBerry's pain can be your gain

John 62
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Shocked and appalled!

I am shocked and appalled that no-one has commented to complain!

QNX is NOT a UNIX-derivative!

Both have POSIX functionality (which even Windows NT had for a while).

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Ten classic electronic calculators from the 1970s and 1980s

John 62
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Sharp EL-531GH Represent

Direct Algebraic Logic was awesome. Type in a trig function and use brackets the same as the equation was written!

Our secondary school sold them when we started in 1st year. None of the shops have Sharps anymore, but I was relieved to see Sharp still sells new and updated versions that are the same colour as your iPhone 5C!

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That Google ARM love-in: They want it for their own s*** and they don't want Bing having it

John 62
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Re: Spurring Intel on

x86 compatibility, while not negligible, is becoming more and more irrelevant in a CPU's power and performance characteristics. Smaller, more efficient transistors means that the x86 translation layer will take up proportionately less space and use up proportionately less power as CPUs and overall systems become more capable.

For the sake of argument, let's say that the x86 translation layer takes 100000 (10^5) transistors. In a processor die with 10000000 (10^7) transistors, that's significant. In a processor die the same size with 1000000000 (10^9), the cost is much less significant.

The same goes for cache: Intel can generally afford a larger on-die cache because its transistors are smaller and use less power.

What will be more significant will be what your software toolchain is. Is it optimised for x86 or ARM? your 3rd party libraries available for x86 or ARM? Are your peripheral drivers available for x86 or ARM?

Plus, the question of your overall system? Does using Intel or ARM limit your choice of GPU? Does it limit your choice of WiFi chip? etc...

Then there's the real performance gain Intel has over most ARM implementations on the market: Out of Order Execution. The thing is OoOE takes up large amounts of silicon (and hence uses lots of power). The reason why Intel's Atom didn't initially have OoOE was that it would use too much power. ARM has recently started to add OoOE. Intel has a few design wins in mobile devices and is pushing hard there, but it doesn't want ARM gaining a foothold in the server space, where they had been facing stiff competition from AMD for a while.

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Inside IBM's vomit-inducing, noise-free future chip lab

John 62
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Re: Survivalist avec Aluminum Chapeau?

Being Swiss, then, there is a very real possibility that there are guns and ammo.

If it's not the case now, then the change only came recently, that all citizens in Switzerland must have access to a bunker capable of surviving nuclear holocaust, and all men must serve in the militia and have access to an assault rifle during that time.

I met a Swiss guy a few years ago who was incredibly patriotic.

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Tales from an expert witness: Lasers, guns and singing Santas

John 62
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Re: Does the expert witness have to get his facts right?

Actually, I didn't get the impression that the author thinks he's always right, more that he think he's better because he didn't play sports and has a different vocabulary from a 5-year-old.

I'm not going to justify all premier league footballers. Some act like thoroughly horrible people, but then there are thoroughly horrible people everywhere, not just in football. But let's remember Paul said that different people have different abilities. Not all are suited to football and not all are suited to in-depth technical analysis. 'Orses for courses, innit! Not all footballers are of limited academic ability and those that do not have much academic ability have likely spent as long as, or even longer training to play football than the author spent with his books. Some sportsmen seem to simply have innate ability, but the best really do properly discipline themselves to hone their skills.

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Former Nokia boss Ollila: Stephen Elop was second-choice CEO

John 62
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Re: Uhhh... and even now he doesn't get it.

While Samsung _can_ make everything, they don't. They use a lot of Qualcomm CPUs and have even got into Atom-based tablets. They make (or at least made) Windows Phone handsets as well. Samsung's Galaxy SII just happened to be just right for a lot of people, who then went on to the SIII or their friends got an SIII because of the SII experience. HTC, while in early, never had quite the brand presence of Samsung who made a lot of other things people have around the house and LG has never had quite that je ne sais quoi that Samsung seemed to have.

Nokia could certainly have built a competing platform. They have a very mature maps infrastructure so there's no reason they couldn't have extended that into cloud storage or partnered with DropBox. But all these things are hard. Remember, Sony (as Sony Ericsson) was also a Symbian licensee and it had a few mis-steps until only now getting to a mature Android range.

Apple, while brilliant at many things has no divine right to do so well in the phone/tablet space. They don't yet make everything themselves. They rely on Samsung for CPU manufacture. Siri's functionality depends to a large degree on a partnership with Nuance.

Samsung has options if it ever falls out with Google, but they can't yet simply use Tizen and their S-branded services as a drop-in replacement.

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MEGA ASTEROID could 'BLOW UP EARTH' - Russian space boss

John 62
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Re: Don't worry!

"Of course I watch the documentaries and there are always a couple fragments that end up in the Eiffel tower and the Big Ben."

Leaving aside the naming of Elizabeth Tower (ne the Clock Tower*), are those the ones in Las Vegas or Europe?

* TIL the name St Stephen's Tower was erroneously applied to the Clock Tower at the Houses of Parliament

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Wait for it, waaiiit for it: We update an Atom tablet to Windows 8.1 Pro

John 62
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The last screenshoot looked awfully like Windows 95 with that wonderful desktop colour

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OAR-some! 18ft SEA SERPENT discovered off US coast

John 62
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Re: what to do with a giant fish?

Only 400 potatoes? Might not need a truck of salt unless you're planning to dry it and cure it. Table salt could be evaporated from the sea while you're cooking. More important would be the vinegar and tomato ketchup.

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Wikipedia Foundation exec: Yes, we've been wasting your money

John 62
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Re: Yeah, wasting money paying you too...

I tried to edit a Wikipedia article once and ran away, screaming in terror because of the horrific user interface.

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Wheels literally FALL OFF solar race contender

John 62
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Re: Loose Wheel?

Brilliant film. Peter Falk was great in it and it launched 2 classic children's cartoons.

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British support for fracking largely unmoved by knowledge of downsides

John 62
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I've read that some water sources in the US are naturally contaminated with methane, which sucks if you're not expecting it and you light a match below the faucet, but I expect it could be easily worked around with a bit of extra plumbing help disperse any gases leaking out.

Anyway, the geology of the UK is such that methane contamination of water supplies won't be such a concern as in the US.

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John 62
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Re: Oh, well...

To be honest, I hadn't thought about the fissures staying open after the fracturing has finished and allowing stuff to leak out. However, once the pressure is reduced, isn't leakage less likely? Regarding the water table: aren't UK aquifers that are used for drinking water at very different depths from where the fracking will occur? Plus, most UK fracking sites will be in the north, where there is much less pressure on water resources than the south and most drinking water can be obtained from surface collection.

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Down with Unicode! Why 16 bits per character is a right pain in the ASCII

John 62
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Re: Make 'em pay

Well, it's China's own fault for using a writing system with an entropy that demands 3 bytes all on its own, without help from other scripts.

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Techno-thriller author and gaming franchise Tom Clancy dies at 66

John 62
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RIP

Teenage me revelled in his massive tomes containing glorious descriptions of (mostly) US derring do.

Adult me decided to read The Bear and The Dragon. Oh dear - a teen idol knocked from its totem pole. I mostly agree with Clancy on politics and economics, but 600 pages of glib neo-conservativism was too much for me and left a bad taste in the mouth even though the final 300 pages was a mostly terrific description of military logistics only let down by some poor writing about the actual fighting.

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John 62
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Re: Technowibble

The US trojan program sent into the Chinese politburo's computers in The Bear And The Dragon was a rather low point, but at least in that book there was a reasonably good description of a rushed software upgrade to some rather critical aiming software in a rather critical defence system, and the upgrade introduced a bug, which although it was only one bug was pretty realistic nonetheless!

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John 62
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Re: Clancy and Dolby

overnight reads? I thought his shortest book was about 600 pages!

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Thorium and inefficient solar power? That's good enough for me

John 62
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Re: Transmission is key

There is an energy-information equivalence. Entropy affects information just as much as it affects energy.

Anyway. QE doesn't really transmit anything, energy, information or otherwise. Well, it does, but it doesn't do so usefully: i.e. while the spooky action at a distance does happen instantaneously as far as our clocks can measure, it does not transfer any information other than that you suddenly know that the other person's photon has the opposite state of your photon.

Someone here will probably educate me further on this, but my understanding is that QE works by entangling two things together, currently mostly photons are entangled. In this state, both photons will have all possible states, a superposition, i.e. (for for simplicity's sake) both will be spinning left and right simultaneously, but as you know that's absurd, so you look to see which one is spinning left and which is spinning right and you discover that as is right and proper, one is spinning left and one is spinning right, but which is which is entirely random. The fun thing is that photons will maintain their entanglement even if they are far apart and that by observing one of the photons, you find out what spin it has and the other photon instantaneously turns out to be spinning the opposite way, even though it is spatially far apart from it's previously entangled mate.

BUT as far as transmitting information via QE is concerned, you can't use the collapse of the superposition as a signalling mechanism because a signal has to be observed to be useful and the mere act of observation collapses the superposition. Hence Bob cannot wait for Alice to signal to him via QE (by collapsing the superposition and imposing a state on Bob's photon) because until Bob observes his photon he won't know whether Alice has sent the signal or not - and if Bob peeks to see what the state of his photon is, he'll break the superposition whether or not Alice has already done so.

Oh, you meant Quantitative Easing! Well, sorry, no-one can really help you there.

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SpaceX Falcon boosts to glory from Vandenberg space force base

John 62
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Re: What Spacex got right and what they learned. (roghly)

Note that Spacex's approach of using (nearly) every launch to find out more and use that to drive improvement is one that any LV mfg could used if they cared about improving their product. But as everyone else seems to depend on the customer buying upgrades they don't bother.

Trying something new costs money, both for the manufacturer, and for the guys hitching a ride. I don't know what the insurance is like, but I'm guessing an experimental SpaceX launch could attract high premiums.

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Circling the RIM: BB10 becomes chamber of horrors for BlackBerry

John 62
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QNX = Unix?

I thought QNX was a Unix in the same way Windows NT was a Unix, by having POSIX compliance

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John 62
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Happy

Re: Have a BB for work

satnag! Good one, I haven't heard that before

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F-16 fighter converted to drone

John 62
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I have no comment to make on how to fly a jet fighter plane, but the episode of Top Gear where Richard Hammond tried to drive a Formula 1 car was instructive. The aerodynamics meant you couldn't corner without going at what seemed like an insane speed and he couldn't wrap his brain around that.

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Boffins debate killing leap seconds to help sysadmins

John 62
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Re: The Time we Should Use

The principle of the leap second is that it's preferable to have one inserted every few years rather than adjust the length of the second, which would seem to be an incredibly difficult undertaking.

I'm not saying the leap second system is perfect, but I would prefer it to adjusting civil time. Currently the general populace doesn't have to care and only people who write date and time handling libraries have to.

Humanity copes reasonably well with the extra day added every 4 years (but not in a century year unless it is divisible by 400) despite the fact, that over a person's lifetime they probably wouldn't really notice if everyone ignored the leap year system and always had 365 year days. However, because we've had leap years for centuries so everyone has grown up learning about them in primary school and you have to make a leap year algorithm in maths or computing at secondary school. Leap seconds are relatively new, but if we start teaching people about them in secondary school, the concept will soon catch on.

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John 62
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Re: The UK's position

If the second was still derived from the earth's rotation, we'd be ok! But it's now derived from the speed of light.

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John 62
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Re: Bollocks presentation

That's only if your date and time handling code doesn't account for leap seconds. The point of leap seconds is that the system goes 58, 59, 60, 00, 01, etc. instead of 58, 59, 00, 01 as normal.

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Hiroshi Yamauchi, bizlord who gave the world Donkey Kong, dead at 85

John 62
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Indeed, interesting history here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argonaut_Games#History

Seems Argonaut commissioned the SuperFX chip because, as impressive as Argonaut's software skills were, even the SNES hardware wasn't up to the task.

[As an aside, while we're talking about add-on chips: Personally I would have preferred Virtua Racing for my MegaDrive, but my parents had already got me the hugely expensive Street Fighter II Special Champion Edition which had huge, for the time, ROM.]

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Angry Brazilian whacks NASA to put a stop to ... er, the NSA

John 62
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Hubble

Hubble is a repurposed spy satellite, so there is a connection!

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