Feeds

* Posts by ThomH

1964 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Sord drawn: The story of the M5 micro

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: "an impressive (for the time) 3.6MHz"

3ish Mhz was the norm but I guess you can claim some credit for the Sord based on its video chip.

The ZX80/81 famously use the processor for screen painting — if memory serves then to paint the display it runs through a series of NOP instructions, which gives a reliable deterministic rate for the z80-generated refresh signal and when the video circuits spot a NOP in ROM they make a note to use the next thing on the bus, which is the value the RAM kicks out on account of the refresh cycle, for video output. The RAM doesn't actually need a real refresh cycle because it's static. But the net effect is that the CPU is occupied for the entire pixel region, doing work that otherwise produces nothing.

The Spectrum has a ULA that can generate addressed and read cycles all of its own volition but shares the same memory (at least, the lower 16kb) between CPU and ULA so the CPU has to wait if accessing that area when the ULA needs it. It's also a fully bitmapped display so the CPU has to write every byte of a graphic for it to appear or move.

Conversely the TMS9929A has 16kb all of its own that operates entirely separately from the CPU's memory pool. You write to it via port IO and there are still some wait cycles involved but the whole setup is designed around the idea that most of the time you don't write much data. It's sprites and a tile map, so for text and most games you spend time uploading the block graphic set and then the drawing isn't much more than updating the map and possibly a few sprite registers, so you get almost all of that 3.6Mhz free.

Games are still likely to work better on the Spectrum though as the TMS9929A completely overlooks scrolling. You can do the block scroll alluded to in the article by rewriting the entire map but that's almost the end of it as you don't have time to rewrite every pixel. The MSX 1 and the ColecoVision have the same chip and the same problem.

1
0

Spectre of Steve Jobs in one last outing at WWDC

ThomH
Silver badge

Sorry, share in which market is meant to be bleeding?

Steve Jobs died in October 2011. According to StatCounter iOS had 23.48% worldwide market share then. It's now April 2013. According to StatCounter iOS has 26.65% worldwide market share. Market share is up since Jobs died.

Maybe if we limit the numbers to Europe? Then we're talking 38.86% now versus 42.29% then but that's hardly a bleed. North America goes the other way with 41.03% then turning into 51.79% now.

Okay, what about the Mac? Worldwide share was 7.18% in October 2011 and is 7.04% now; in Europe that's a transition from 6.79% to 7.53%, in North America it's from 13.91% to 11.6%. So the continents are reversed in their trends versus iOS but in neither case is the change particularly massive.

Check out http://gs.statcounter.com/ to try any combination you like — the objective reality is that Apple's marketshare hasn't bled since Jobs died.

0
0

UK gov's troll-finder general says he's hanging up his axe

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Hmmm (@The Jase)

The statement is defamation if it's communicated to a third party by the person making it (rather than merely a private insult), and would cause a person's standing in society to be seriously affected, or would cause the individual to be shunned or avoided.

So the legal protection is on reputation, not on feelings.

1
0

Apple fanbois' accidental bonking ruled too obvious by watchdog

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Call me paranoid

Not only are some of Apple's patents much more obvious but have been ruled so and are now similarly invalid. E.g. last month the US Patent & Trademark Office invalidated Apple's rubber banding patents — there was a preliminary ruling last October that I can find an El Reg reporting of at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/10/23/uspto_apple_patent/ and a final one that many other sites reported at the beginning of this month (though that's final only in the sense of 'we've finalised our initial ruling on the problem, bring on the appeals').

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

January's ITC ruling in favour of Motorola and against Apple re: '430, '828 and '607 would suggest otherwise.

1
0

AMD pins future growth to embedded marketplace

ThomH
Silver badge

There are two ways that 5% of something can turn into 20%

While I hope they achieve their target the good way, I think the sceptics are probably right on x86 in tablets and phones — there's too much NDK stuff out there for many Android-using manufacturers to make the switch and a lot of them, along with Apple, are now used to being able to license embeddable components and design their own silicon. It's not that the architecture is always going to be behind in speed or power, just that the ship has already sailed.

1
0

Who's a Siri boy, then? Apple hoards your voices for TWO years

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Now i hate apple....

Apple don't say that if you discontinue Siri then they will delete all your data, only that they'll delete the non-anonymised stuff. The article even has the relevant bit in bold:

If you turn off Siri, Apple will delete your user data, as well as your recent voice input data. Older voice input data that has been disassociated from you may be retained for a period of time to generally improve Siri and other Apple products and services.

As to your related point about whether voice data can really be anonymised, they could technically just be keeping the first-level stuff about pitches and rhythms that they extracted from the sound recording, which would identify you only in the same sense that written text with no associated author could identify you, but probably they just mean 'we won't store further user details with it'.

3
1

Google's Page drops the A-bomb: Google Glass runs Android

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: News?

I guess it's just about conceivable, given that Android and Chrome OS are distinct, that there would have been a third branded OS since Goggles are neither primarily interested in displaying HTML content or, as I understand it, intended to run full, largely discrete, self-contained applications.

1
0

More Brits ditch Apple tablets for Amazon, Google, Samsung kit

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: I am tempted away from the Apple to the Android but I like the idea of a closed shop

Can you provide any references? Apple doesn't expose an API for dialling numbers and, at least for me, Google can find no hits concerning any iOS application that has ever maliciously dialled a premium rate number (eg, via a backdoor or other unofficial API route).

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Jump through hoops, on IOS?

Taking music from an iPad to a computer is officially disallowed because Apple has a contractual relationship with the music industry that it wants to preserve.

You weren't expecting a technical reason were you?

0
0

Foxconn must pay Microsoft for EVERY Android thing it makes

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Mmmmmm...

Presumably Microsoft's thinking is that now they can go to all the people that don't make the current or future Xbox and say 'Foxconn are paying and they've got enough money for really good lawyers; why don't you just pay up and save us all some hassle?'

Even supposing Microsofts ends up paying its own royalties via Foxconn, that's a good piece of leverage over everybody else to have acquired for free.

0
0

Internet Explorer makes modest gains against Google Chrome

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Where can I get IE for Android?

Default on Android or not, StatCounter's statistics separately show iOS (iPod + iPhone) and Android both to be about equal, around the 30% mark — Android is slightly ahead (this is worldwide, after all, not just US) but if Chrome's showing in the overall chart were significantly attributable to Android then you'd expect Safari to be doing very well too.

Since Safari isn't doing anywhere near as well in the StatCounter chart, I don't think the mobile angle is influential.

1
0

Netbooks projected to become EXTINCT by 2015

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Netbooks are dead

The PC market as a whole is contracting a lot more quickly than Apple's computer sales — per that recent IDC report, worldwide computer shipments are down 14%, Apple's are down only 7.5%. Obviously you should frame that with the fact that Lenovo has managed to buck the trend entirely with 0% year-on-year difference but it seems to me that you could argue both that Apple is failing (sales down) or that it is succeeding (it's significantly outperforming the market average).

1
0

... time machine. Iranian Dr Who claims he invented a ...

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: If they had a time machine...

Here's what else all the rogue nations have in common: they know that man didn't really land on the moon, that Jackie shot JFK, that the Titanic was an insurance scam, that Prince Philip crashed Diana's car, that September the 11th was designed to give the US more oil, that Tesla shot Archduke Ferdinand, that Hitler invented the CAT scanner, that Castro really had over seventeen legs and that Roswell caused the middle ages.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Skegness got there first!

Iran wishes it were big?

0
0

Judge scolds Apple, Motorola for using court as 'business strategy'

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Is it snowing in hell?

I don't think courts have ever liked this sort of mucking about; look at the Woolf reforms here in the UK for evidence that, when acting as a body, legal professionals like the rules to be clear, costs to be proportional to the dispute, reasonable parties to be rewarded and, ideally, people not to have to go to court in the first place — whether due to alternative dispute resolution or as a result of summary judgment.

The problem is partly that even in countries modelled on the English system court-made law is long out of fashion in deference to elected legislators (as they've more of a mandate), but probably more that we've waded into uncharted waters. These sorts of action are broadly unprecedented and the law has yet to figure out how to deal with these things equitably.

1
0

News Corp prez threatens to pull Fox TV off the air

ThomH
Silver badge

That's called confirmation bias. There's a risk that the programming on a network that shares a brand with a deeply conservative news channel might become less easy to obtain. Of those comments that are politically motivated, which side of the spectrum are they likely to come from?

You might also benefit from looking up the contrapositive.

3
0

Get lost, drivers: Google Maps is not for you – US judge

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: I always use my phone for Google's GPS when I'm in California @(Andy Prough)

Oh, I live in San Francisco right now so I'm fully aware of the California freeways — my favourite is when there's a central lane that divides without any discontinuity so that if you head to the left you're on one freeway and if you head to the right then you're on another. Naturally that divide often happens just after the crest of a hill, and quite a lot of the time it isn't even a real hill but just an artefact of the way that elevated portion of road was built. I can't think of anywhere in the UK where the same lane just suddenly divides like that, without one road explicitly being a junction off the other.

And that's just the junction-by-junction stuff, the overall layout is a nightmare in itself. While driving to Pacifica this weekend I naturally had to go 101 south, 380 west, 280 north then 1 south, making four freeways for a 25-ish minute journey to a reasonably popular destination.

2
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: I always use my phone for Google's GPS when I'm in California

I guess that's an imperfect solution if your phone doesn't do turn-by-turn directions (as then it also won't correct itself if you miss a turning), and it's similarly possible you'll be caught using the phone for GPS if you've no way of routing the audio through your car speakers or if you just can't hear the instructions because it's California so obviously you've got a convertible.

Since the judge explicitly cited using your hands on the phone as the distraction, I guess mounting it within eyesight would be acceptable.

2
0

Android's US market share continues to slip

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Son tired of unstableness

I think that not only is Sony a minority player in the Android market but that your son has discovered why. The 'problem' with Android is that each manufacturer can add whatever layers of code they like — see also non-removable Facebook apps, carrier-specific app stores and the rest. So you can easily acquire an Android phone with a horrible user interface and a habit of crashing just by buying the wrong model from a lesser manufacturer.

Of course this is only a problem if you don't do some research and is a natural side effect of freedom and choice. Given that accepting the carrier-specific applications usually gets you more of a subsidy you might even do your research and then decide that going with the more afflicted handset is a better fit for your priorities.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Missed the point of the OS chart

The entire market continues to skyrocket; given that the real story implied by the numbers seems to be "no monumental changes", you'd expect Android's numbers to go up accordingly.

0
1
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: It would be passing strange

But then surely the interesting thing is the year-on-year trend? We're very close to 6 months in to the iPhone 5 now and were almost six months in to the 4S at the same time a year ago as both were October launches. The S4 is coming only about 11 months after the S3 but the S2 was twelve months before that so Sansung is essentially puts the Samsung on an annual cycle too.

For my money the iPhone trend is real but essentially insignificant because the change is small and appears to be limited to one market.

0
0

60-inch Apple iTV to be controlled by iRing remote?

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: yea

That's a common misconception — the more proper version would be that Apple will always charge a premium where the market supports it. For example, yhere was never more than about £15 difference between a ~£200 iPod and the relevant Creative competitor and the Apple TV is exactly the same price as the equivalently specified Roku.

That said, the lesson of the 2007 iPhone launch is that they do sometimes grossly misjudge the price the market is willing to pay so it's definitely possible they'll launch very high before having to about face.

2
0

Steve Jobs' 'spaceship' threatened by massive cost overruns

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: The cost doesn't matter (@Andy Prough)

That'd be only if the cost didn't matter _and_ the prestige of having a fancy building didn't matter. What's going on here is that the latter has been judged hugely to outweigh the former.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: The cost doesn't matter

Indeed the opposite is true: the more money Apple disperse to building contractors and suppliers that would otherwise have stayed inert in a bank somewhere, the more money ends up in the tax pot. So given Apple's cash reserves I also think they should build as complicated a building as possible.

9
1

Microsoft gives away Windows 8 to Mac devs

ThomH
Silver badge

So then what's missing from the VMs available for free download?

i.e. those on http://www.modern.ie/en-US/virtualization-tools, which seem to include an option to grab 'IE10 - Win8'. Is the bundled Windows 8 in there limited in some means that the one on the USB stick wasn't?

0
0

Steve Jobs to supervise iPhone 6 FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Wow so he knew about all the chip roadmaps..... (@Snake)

A search for 'genius salesman' (no quotes) returns 'Apple - Jobs at Apple - Retail (us)' as the first hit. So maybe they are looking to get a more direct Steve replacement after all?

0
0

Security damn well IS a dirty word, actually

ThomH
Silver badge

With about one sixth the number of users as 'does it really qualify for the list?' Safari, Opera is not a major browser (sources: StatCounter, W3Counter, NetApplications). Which is a shame.

1
0

The Lynx effect: The story of Camputers' mighty micro

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: All I Can Say Is........

Some technical autopsies wouldn't go unappreciated either.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Pretty nice machine

I've now carried out a little research; there was a ROM call to write a single byte to any other RAM page, which is reported to take about 25µs. So slow.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Pretty nice machine

The z80 has a 17-bit address range if you include port IO; maybe the solution was as simple as being able to IN and OUT to at least some portion of the RAM that wasn't paged in? Then you could set up a landing area for paging and pass packets back and forth?

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: CP/M

I'm just guessing but if the screen display took 32kb of 48kb, maybe the calculation was that there was no point shipping CP/M until they had enough space to give the more normal close-to-64kb of memory to CP/M + application? So it had to wait until the video display could be paged out; the other CP/M micros were using maybe 1kb for a text mode display, or just shipping all that stuff out to a terminal.

1
0

Stop excluding vulnerable Brits from digital agenda - MPs

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: vulnerable

So what we need is to get tough on use of 'vulnerable' and a common sense crackdown on 'tackle'?

1
0

BlackBerry CEO: iPhone past its prime

ThomH
Silver badge

While the BlackBerry man obviously has his own commercial interests, I think he's got an indirect point in that the iPhone is no longer particularly exciting. Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features; an expressive touch interface is the norm and 95% of most people's use is probably texting, using the browser or using apps for services that are also accessible in the browser. They can do that on more or less any handset out there.

Even if you take Apple's case at its strongest — that the iPhone is the best phone in its class — it's now just one in a pretty big class.

12
0

Samsung's new Galaxy S 4: iPhone assassin or Android also-ran?

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Not sure I'll bother

I feel like what Samsung is saying is 'this is the flagship phone; we're going to throw every idea we have at it and see what sticks' — some people are going to find some of the new features useful, nobody is going to be at a disadvantage because of them and Samsung can gauge reactions to figure out what to port to next year's midrange handsets.

I guess it's a more market-driven approach to figuring out where to go next, rather than dictating simplicity from the centre.

1
0

Google sidelines Maps bloke, shifts him from 'A' to 'X'

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Neither phish nor phowle

I guess it's another way of dealing with that tricky œ? Wiktionary has an entry 'manouvre' as 'a common misspelling' so presumably it's an easy one to get wrong.

0
0

Infinite loop: the Sinclair ZX Microdrive story

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: The real sinclair story... (@AC)

The difference between the C64 and Spectrum graphics are decent hardwired graphics semantics with a weak CPU versus a cheap-to-manipulate frame buffer with limited colour resolution and a speedy CPU. Trying to reduce it to one being definitively better than the other isn't really constructive. Both have been pushed much further now by enthusiasts without budget limits but for every Creatures there's a Knight Lore, for every Revs there's a Hard Drivin'.

Given that in 1984 (when I could most readily find prices via Google) a C64 cost £195.95 and Spectrum was £129, I don't think it's fair to make the blanket statement that Sir Clive's lot were optimising incorrectly.

1
0

Study: Megaupload closure boosted Hollywood sales 10%

ThomH
Silver badge

And how long did the change last?

If I have a car and one day it breaks down, I'm likely to accept the inconvenience of two or three buses. If there were no such thing as cars then I would have put more effort into arranging my life so that I didn't have to catch two or three buses to get to work.

2
0

Google, MPEG LA kiss and make up in WebM patent spat

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: What is MPEG-LA's take-away?

It's always possible that Google paid for a simple perpetual licence, especially if the patents the MPEG LA found didn't add up to a particularly strong collection. VP8 was bought and open sourced so it doesn't seem too much of a stretch to think Google might just say 'okay, so it'll have cost us slightly more than we thought' .

Alternatively, maybe Google's counter-attack patent collection twisted the MPEG LA's arm? They've got a commercial interest in keeping their H.264 patent pool customers happy.

1
0
ThomH
Silver badge

"one next-generation VPx video codec" is the most important part

Bringing VP8 to market years after H.264, without adequate hardware acceleration and so as to cause uncertain legal liabilities for implementors doomed it. Google's only hope is to trump H.265 before it sees wide adoption, though even then chances are unlikely because it's pretty much a guarantee that H.265 will be used for 4k and 8k transmission standards so it's more or less guaranteed to be easy to find silicon for.

1
0

Torvalds asks 'Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more?'

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Disagreed

There's a Nyquist element to it; the lower the resolution the lower the frequency of signal an image can contain — in layman's terms, lower density = less contrast. You can antialias so that the pixels aren't obvious but there's a physical limit to the amount of information you can present. When you step up to a display that includes all that extra information you probably still can't see the individual pixels but you can tell that edges are sharper and more lifelike, on text, on images and everywhere else, and you can then perceive a certain lack of sharp focus when you go back to the old display.

So it's really nothing to do with whether you can see the individual pixels or not, it's about how much information (in the digital signal processing sense) can be packed into an area and therefore how close an approximation a screen can be to actual printed text.

3
0

First C compiler pops up on Github

ThomH
Silver badge

Allow me

The compiler can be found at https://github.com/mortdeus/legacy-cc ; the oddest bit to my eyes is the apparent need explicitly to declare storage e.g. as at the bottom of https://github.com/mortdeus/legacy-cc/blob/master/last1120c/c00.c — my experience goes only a little back beyond C89 so it's possible I'm completely misreading what's going on but it looks like the equivalent of an assembler's defb or equivalent, with extern being used in functions to import globals (so maybe scope wasn't well established yet?). Can anyone enlighten me?

2
0

Gnome cofounder: Desktop Linux is a CHERNOBYL of FAIL

ThomH
Silver badge

This remains one of the Mac's best selling points

It has a BSD layer and an optional X server; it's very comfortable for UNIX users — throw in VM Ware or Parallels and it's the only type of computer that allows you to run X, Microsoft Windows and OS X applications together on the same desktop.

So, yes, the perfect platform but for the cost, the limited hardware range and, for a lot of people, the company the money goes to.

13
4

iPhone 5S and lower-cost sibling coming this summer?

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Still with the tincy-wincy liddle screen? (re: JDX)

In terms of points-per-inch* Apple currently supports exactly two sizes — 163 and 132. The iPad Mini is the old iPad resolution at the iPod/iPhone density. So I guess it'd be within the established parameters for a larger iPhone to go the other way; take the current 163 and turn it into a 132 for an almost 25% increase in size, going from a 4" screen to a 5".

There's an argument that'd be no further fragmentation as Apple already mostly recommends the same point size of widgets for both devices.

* given that Apple maintain a distinction between points and pixels, so that retina and non-retina code looks identical.

0
0
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Still with the tincy-wincy liddle screen?

Not to take anything from the joy of the squirming but the assertion that Apple's software is totally unprepared for fragmentation is inaccurate. iOS 6 introduced auto layout — which amounts to setting a bunch of arbitrary constraints on view size and placement relative to anything else you like — thereby fully preparing iOS for fragmentation.

1
3
ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Yawn...

You're yawning inappropriately. I think what you meant to yawn about was another year, another stream of rumours months in advance about a bunch of potential incremental improvements, many of which probably aren't accurate anyway.

8
0

Plastic Logic shows off bendy 'leccy posters: Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: 2p

You're talking voodoo [economics].

0
0

White House comes out in favor of legal mobe unlocking

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: If Mobes and fondleslabs (@David Cantrell, mutatedwombat )

If your phone is locked then you can't join another network, though plenty exist. If your console is locked then you can't buy games from another source, of which none exist. It's cause and effect but a real difference, at least when it comes to temporary purposive exceptions to existing laws.

Re: the PC model; I don't think the 3DO was the same thing at all. It was custom developed hardware with a single stationary target. So lack of subsidies was a real issue — compare and contrast with other consoles that typically cost quite a bit less than the hardware cost at launch, and with the PC that slowly gained steam as a gaming device over more than a decade.

I think that the problem with the PC now is simply that you can buy a very expensive one so some people do buy a very expensive one so that moves the centre of gravity for games. PC gaming is likely to remain more expensive than console gaming because nobody can put a foot down and say 'there is no choice for anybody; all must stick with the older technology in order to reduce cost for new owners and to keep things simple'. For people that game on PCs, that's probably a good thing as they retain the freedom to spend more on a better box if they want to.

0
0

Canonical announces Mir display server to replace X Windows

ThomH
Silver badge

Re: Oh FFS

Based on the spec at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MirSpec the objective is to have Mir sitting underneath QT. So at least KDE should be in.

2
0

Samsung's next smartphone to scroll by watching your eyes

ThomH
Silver badge

Sounds good in theory, but...

The implementation will need to be very good.

The central contradiction as I imagine it is that normally you move your eyes to look at something. If moving your eyes also moves the thing then you're getting very unnatural feedback.

If they solve that by having the scrolling occur only when you look at certain areas of the screen — e.g. look at the bottom to scroll down, return your eyes to the main portion to stop — then you have to judge when to stop based on peripheral vision.

Supposing the people at Samsung have solved these problems then they deserve to be number one.

2
0