376 posts • joined Tuesday 28th July 2009 11:45 GMT
Re: Mute swan
""Mute" swan is definitely misnamed,"
According to the anyone-can-edit "encyclopedia", the Mute Swan is so named because it is *less* vocal than other swans, not because it is silent.
"Can someone at Orange please explain to me how it is possible to receive that much data on a phone through their network in a month"
I'm not *at* Orange, but I am *on* Orange, and I routinely (except when I'm inside the office where I work or on the Metro) can get the full 7Mbps of HSDPA+ (?sp), which gives close to 1MBps. On that basis, 1GB of data would take less than an hour.
'Course, it's Orange France, not Orange UK, but there you are.
We have reached the future...
Enough said. We have reached the future, and it is cool.
Re: Does anybody use jif's any more?
"I thought people used p'nungs instead these days"
I see a lot of PENGs on the Internet myself. Or maybe pee-enjees, depending on how whimsical I'm feeling.
Re: nah mate
"I am pretty sure Red Hat used this as a sound card test file back in the day."
It did. I remember playing it to, um, test the sound setup on my Red Hat boxes, a frighteningly long time ago.
""Graphics" has a hard G, therefore so does the acronym."
As an indicator of acronym pronunciation, the original pronunciation of the letters that form the acronym is not reliable. Consider "laser", commonly pronounced as if spelled "laZer". If you look back at the origins and apply your logic ("Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation"), it should be pronounced as it is spelled, with a soft "s" sound in the middle, but that produces an anomalous pronunciation pattern - a single "s" sandwiched between vowels is normally pronounced as if it is a "z". Oh, and the "a" should be pronounced short like in "hat" - this sounds like the "a" at the beginning of "amplification" .
So by your rule "laser" should be pronounced as if it is spelled more like "lasser"
The conventional pronunciation of a sequence "gi" at the beginning of a word is as if it is "ji", although "git" is one of a number of exceptions. ("Gi" for the angry white pajamas worn by martial artists is merely a loanword whose spelling hasn't been anglicised.)
Re: Balmer is safe because...
My cynical guess for one reason that Bill G has been backing Monkey Boy is that he is afraid that if Ballmer goes, the board (and others) would push for him (Gates) to take back control, and I'd guess he doesn't want to do that anymore. I'm not saying it would be a bad thing for Microsoft if he did take back control, just that he doesn't want it.
[citation not provided] This is opinion, not fact.
"True, but as I understand it, HS2 terminates at Euston, and HS1 at St Pancras. Unless they're building a stretch to connect the two that freight trains can cut through, then presumably there will need to be an intermodal hub to lift European cargo from HS1, load it onto trucks or conventional trains and then transfer back to HS2."
As I understand it from information that's most likely out of date, HS1 and HS2 will be linked by a stretch that passes north of London, but...
... that link will, in typically British fashion, NOT be HS-capable. Yes, trains running on the HS1-HS2 link will be limited to non-HS speeds. They will be able to pass between the two lines, but slowly. (It still, however, allows the possibility of extending the record for the longest non-stop passenger train journey - currently held by a Eurostar that ran from London to Marseille as a promotion for the Davinci Code film.)
re: evidence that someone didn't read the article
Read the article more carefully: it clearly states that messaging data, like positions etc., was not available to the reporters. The data that was available (and now is not) was things like last-login, which reveals interesting things, up to a point, and certainly gives them an insider advantage on both news publication and potentially other things.
Re: Which scientists
"David Braben and Ian Bell by any chance?"
Actually, the article made me think of the Activision Call To Power series, where one of the things you could build late in the game was the "Beef Vat", which caused pollution but prevented starvation in the host city...
Re: Oh Noooooooes Only 4 *billion* years left.
"Don't worry, in two billion years, the Earth will be experiencing 20% greater thermal input from the sun and evolution will be a moot point."
Don't worry, in no more than about ONE billion years, the rise in the Sun's luminosity will have boiled off all the Earth's oceans.
"The best thing about this test is that it uses cheap-ish fuel, that is available at most airports"
I think you'll find very few airports that can provide JP-7, and all of them will actually be US Air Force bases. JP-7 is the moderately exotic fuel used in the moderately exotic operating conditions of the SR-71, and now in the X-51... As you said, though, the thing about JP-7 is that like all other hydrocarbon fuels, it has a much higher energy-per-volume density(*) than liquid hydrogen, and doesn't require cryogenic storage.
(*) Per-volume is a useful measure of energy density for aircraft, but for rocketry, you also have to consider per-mass energy density, where hydrogen wins.
"It's one thing to have that happen in an SR-71"
Bill Weaver can tell you all about surviving the Mach 3+ disintegration of an SR-71. Ejecting wasn't an option, as the plane went from flying in good condition to a cloud of fragments in a couple of seconds, leaving the crew to take the scenic route to the ground... http://roadrunnersinternationale.com/weaver_sr71_bailout.html
"EXIF ownership info comes from the system that was put in place for photographic pictures for journalism, about the time that fax was invented"
No, I don't think so, except by hyperbolic analogy. The fax was invented in the 19th century(*), a few decades before EXIF...
(*) FFS, there was a commercial telefax service between Paris and Lyon in *1865*!
Re: "Jackal" eat your heart out.
"Sniper rifles can already hit people over a Km away"
"increasing that range to maybe 3km"
Well, given that the record for sniper hits is documented at 2815m, increasing the range to 3km doesn't sound like much of an achievement.
It's also worth noting that the article tries to make a distinction between .50 cal weapons and sniper rifles. All but one of the sniper hits beyond 2km listed in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest_recorded_sniper_kills were made with .50 cal weapons, either specialist sniping weapons or in one case an M2 machine gun.
For real (?) fun...
Back in about 2000 I installed a copy of Win95 OSR2 on a machine for purposes that remain obscure, probably invalid, and definitely irrelevant here. This was the build that included IE3.
So off I went to www.microsoft.com to look for a more recent build of IE. The server wouldn't let me in, because IE3 requested HTTP/0.9...
Re: What is "the puzzle"?
"If the money seems to have value, it's only speculation and eventually it will have zero value."
I hate(*) to be a killjoy and shattermyth, but all modern money is like that. Read very carefully about "fiat currency", bearing in mind that all modern currencies are fiat. Nobody backs money with real objects (gold, silver, land, seashells, blocks of salt, future tax revenues etc.) anymore, not since the "Nixon Shock" of 1971 when the US ended the fixed-rate convertibility between US dollars and gold.
(*) Actually, that's just a saying. I get a sort of grim satisfaction from pointing out to someone that they've said something more or less spectacularly silly.
"Optimized ... source."
Also good at buzzword bingo...
"going to school with a flask of hot soup "
Don't forget what happened at the time I was in primary school, around 1975. The NUT(*) decided that all their members would go on work-to-rule during term-time. Among the "bonus" duties that teachers did that weren't in their "to-rule" job descriptions was keeping order in the queues at lunch. This meant that we only got school dinners one week in three (in rotation), and the other two weeks we had to bring sandwiches from home or go hungry.
(*) For the non-British in the audience, the NUT is the National Union of Teachers, at the time a wretched hive of left-wing pinko-ness, with all the oddities that implies. I have never seen a more appropriate abbreviation for any phrase, and I have no idea what convinced them it was a good idea to call themselves that.
And I remember around that time sitting in a living room illuminated by an oil lamp (brighter and less of a fire hazard than candles...) because of the rolling power cuts.
Re: Decimated? Decimated!?
"the use of this word in it's historical sense"
While it is historically correct to use "decimate" for "one in ten suffers" rather than the more common modern use of "large scale slaughter", it is not historically correct to use it unless the one in ten who suffered have been killed.
A span of time in Sophos's employ in the late 90s(*) left me with definite opinions about the people who manage the company, but I would never accuse them of mass murder of their staff.
(*) Curiously, at that time, Sophos employed less people than the 150 who are being restructured...
Re: "there's a reasonable possibility that...
"What you're thinking about is photons."
It's worse than that, actually. Even if we were considering wires rather than fibres, it wouldn't be Grand Crossing's wires that passed the electrons that go into my PC. If you actually dig into it a bit, you discover that in ordinary applications, the electrons themselves only wander along wires at a rate of a few millimetres a second. So the electrons that delivered the packets to my PC in fact delivered them only during the last small-fraction-of-an-inch, and certainly haven't seen the inside of either of the two firewalls under my desk.
There are three exchange rates of interest when changing currency. Let's start with the main headline rate that is quoted by financial news outlets like Bloomberg or BFM Business(1). That is what I call the "centre rate", upon which all other rates for exchange between those currencies are based. The centre rate is the rate paid by forex traders who often deal in nine or ten figure sums per transaction.
So, the other two rates? They are the "buy" and "sell" rates. Let's talk about exchanging between dollars and Euros, since that's the sort of forex transaction I'm most likely to have in my everyday life. The "buy" rate is the rate I pay when I buy dollars with euros, and the "sell" rate is the rate I pay when I sell dollars for euros. These rates, in effect, are the centre rate modified by a notional commission rate in favour of the bank / bureau de change / Marks & Spencer(2). (This is the origin of the name "centre rate", since it lies in between the buy and sell rates. A bureau de change in a Eurozone country will normally fix their buy and sell rates for, say, Euros-vs-USDollars as the centre rate minus(buy) or plus(sell) some number of USD-cents per Euro.)
A lot of credit and debit cards will quote the centre rate when converting a transaction quoted in a foreign currency, and then add in an exchange fee. My (French) bank does this, and the fee is (a) small and (b) dependent on the amount of the transaction. I'd say that 11 quid is a bit steep by my standards, unless your DLL was priced somewhere over $1000.
The alternative is that they charge a "buy" rate, but that causes all sorts of problems, since some fraction of the less knowledgeable customers will see a discrepancy between the centre rate and the rate on their bill and kick up an unholy fuss.
(1) BFM Business is a French business/financial news organisation, available in various formats. It is similar in coverage to Bloomberg's news offerings, but with a French slant. BFM originally stood for "Business FM".
(2) I don't know about now, but up to 2009 (during which year I left the UK, and haven't been back since), M&S was the cheapest way to just buy/sell foreign currency against pounds, since their "spread" (difference between the buy/sell rates) was smaller than anyone else's. It was amusing watching Thomas Cook staff in the queue at the M&S exchange counter, as if they could get a better rate there than any putative staff discount...
Re: We need a relay
"It's been snowing all f*cking day. In f*cking April, for f*cking f*cks sake!"
I remember a picture on the front page of a British newspaper in 1978 or so, of a snow-covered cricket ground somewhere in England the day before. The date on the newspaper? Some time in July. The day's play was, of course, cancelled.
Re: "There is no mainstream party [...] which offers to dismantle these crippling stealth taxes"
"<-- Mushroom cloud, because we need more nuclear."
According to my last electricity bill, *my* electricity is 85% (OK, 84.7%, fuss, fuss) from nuclear reactors.
For the inattentive: I live in France, where nuclear has been the majority source for some time.
Re: BBC for the headlines @Ledswinger
"It's not rocket surgery, is it?"
No, and neither is it brain science...
Curious conundrum: most of the stuff we call rocket science is actually engineering.
Re: When I was a wee sprat
"he brought home a circuit board that he had been told was part of a Leo."
In the late 70s, my parents' house gained the *best* loft flooring. A group of late-model LEO IIIs was being decommissioned, and the aluminium honeycomb panels from the sides of the racks made their way up into our loft. They were strong enough to walk on, but light as anything.
Then again, my mother worked at Lyons as a programmer in the early 60s...
Re: Coming to a wallet near you...
"That's a "store card". Loads of places do them.
Basically it's an in-house HP agreement, but you only have to do the paperwork once up front."
It passes the "duck" test for a credit card. It's a sliver of plastic that I can hand over in a shop (ok, only one brand of shop, which is why you think it's only a store card) to make payments on "instant" pre-approved credit. And I get monthly bills with the option of paying any amount between an arbitrarily-calculated[*] minimum and the full owing balance. That sounds like a credit card to me, even if it can only be used in one brand of shop. Sure, it isn't a general-purpose credit card, usable at almost any outlet anywhere, but it is still a credit card.
Another point to bear in mind is that some store cards are charge cards, like the classic green/gold/platinum Amex cards, where you have to clear the balance every month. The Sears card I had wasn't like that.
[*] Yes, the calculation of the minimum payment is arbitrary, in the sense that there is no particular virtue in the percentage-of-full being any specific value so the card issuer selects an interesting value, subject to any consumer credit rules and/or Visa/MC network rules. Making the value higher tends to decrease the utility of the card - the largest balance limit I can possibly afford is determined by the minimum-payment fraction and my ability to afford a monthly payment. (In reality, a sane person would say he could only afford X amount less than that, in order to have some level of margin, but we all know that sanity is a bit scarce when we are talking about consumer credit.) Making the value lower attracts more of the more reckless spenders that we, in an ideal world, would not want our bank giving credit to, and if the value is low enough, the cardholder can get stuck with an unreasonably long repayment time if he stops buying with the card but doesn't pay more than the minimum...
Re: Coming to a wallet near you...
"Also, a company can't just issue credit cards, can it?"
Yes, of course it can. For some years when I lived in the US, I had a Sears credit card. Upside, it was easy to get, and Sears sells a lot of useful stuff. Downsides (1) it only worked in Sears, (2) it was subject to per-state credit rules based on which state the cardholder lived in, so moving to certain states induced eyewatering interest rates.
It was a real credit card with all the usual minimum-payment claptrap, not an Amex-style "charge card" where you have to clear the balance every month.
The main restriction on a company that wishes to issue such a card is that it must usually have some sort of banking / credit-issuer license, so it's not something you do lightly.
Re: Low hanging fruit?
"the skirts were very short to begin with"
Upskirt pics are entirely feasible even with knee-length skirts. I was riding an escalator and got the chance to see how it is done - the guy ahead of me reached down and forward to get his phone under the skirt of the woman in front of him. Nobody would have been the wiser if he hadn't been right in front of me doing it.
And in the context of teenaged schoolboys ogling bits of young female teachers - we had one at my secondary school, back in about 1979. She was a student teacher and she had the interesting habit of wearing low-neck sweaters. This was, of course, made more interesting by her habit of leaning forward to see what was going on, thus revealing all to anyone in front of her...
Re: My suspicion...
"to combat their nemesis steam"
This is odd - I play one Ubisoft game on a daily basis because there really isn't an equivalent anywhere else.
It's called Rocksmith, and it's on Steam.
(For the skeptical: Rocksmith reveals the true purpose of USB sockets. Where else are you going to connect the Rocksmith cable?)
Re: A few comments
I'll confuse the issue somewhat by mentioning a genre of game where NEITHER a keyboard+mouse NOR a gamepad is the correct choice - the racing game. No, I don't mean one of the myriad knock-offs of Mario Kart (itself arguably a knock-off of F-Zero, but never mind that), but GT, Forza, Dirt, etc.
I have one of the XBox360 controllers-for-Windows (XBCFW), and while it's great for playing e.g. Portal 2 (for which I bought it), it sucks balls for playing Dirt 3. Why?
In Portal 2, I have access on the XBCFW to *all* the necessary controls for actual gameplay (save, load, and quit are not part of actual gameplay, so they don't have to be on the controller). The XBCFW suits the size and shape of my hands nicely, and Portal 2 exploits the force-feedback to e.g. make the controller kick in my hands as Chel completes a long jump. Yes, it's silly having to use a speed-by-deflection analogue stick to turn, but running with it is reasonable, because when running, you set a speed, not a position.
In Dirt 3, however, when using the XBCFW I have to steer with an analogue stick and accelerate / decelerate with analogue trigger buttons. That stick is now actually serving the purpose specified above by other commentators - X amount of deflection means X' amount of rate of steering or (for the trigger buttons) rate of movement/braking (a good thing). The end-to-end throw of an XBCFW analogue stick is less than an inch, and all the steering response must fit into that inch (a bad thing). Dirt 3 does have (buried in the advanced controls somewhere) linearity settings, but the steering is still extremely twitchy on centre. (That said, it's amusing to hear the navigator telling me to "Reste concentré" as I roll the car over and attempt to fell a tree with it, which is all too easy when racing with twitchy steering on gravel surfaces. Never have I heard a fellow occupant of a car with so much sang-froid.)
A wheel controller, on the other hand, is utterly useless for Portal 2 because it doesn't have enough axes fitted, and the movement model isn't suited to a steering wheel and foot pedals. Dirt 3, however, comes alive (even on the bottom-priced wheel I bought) because the input model (wheel, brake, accelerator) matches the input model for a real car, and that murderous twitchiness just vanishes because the wheel throws much further to each side than the stick does.
Re: Tousers of time
@JassMan: You are the winner here, except that you overlooked the problem of getting your hand in far enough *under* the waistband. The fly on modern jeans is shorter mostly because the waistband is closer to the crotch (rather than because the bottom of the fly is higher up, although it might be). Because there is less space between the button at the top and the stitching at the bottom, you have less room (indeed, in some cases blatantly not enough) to get your hand in to hunt the trouser snake, so you have to undo the button and so it goes.
Re: I Am Filled With Dread
Re: FB ads.
I go on FB a couple of times a week, mostly to check what new stuff my favorite manga shop has received that week. I, like you, haven't given much information (where I live, when I was born, and that I'm a bloke), and I get mostly ads for "meet women in your area" "services", featuring pictures of (admittedly attractive) women young enough to be my daughters. Maybe if I told FB that I'm married this would change...
Re: Wait!!! After all this time...
"Did you miss the 90's?"
No, I just didn't bother with a mobile until 2000. Around that time they were less grotesquely expensive than they had been previously, so it seemed like a reasonable thing to do.
Wait!!! After all this time...
After all this time, we are back where I began on mobes. My very first mobe was an Alcatel OneTouch View db that I bought back in 2000. It had a 96x64 screen(*). Thirteen years later, we have a new-release phone with the same resolution.
Truly, what goes around, comes around...
(*) Source: http://www.gsmarena.com/alcatel_ot_view_db-28.php
And someone's got to do it...
Re: Yeah, I feel it to bro.
I expect it won't be different at all, except for the fact I'm not on dialup anymore. I fully expect Ubuntu's installer will *still* require Internet access *during*the*install*, but now that always-on broadband Internet access is widespread (even I have it), it *doesn't*matter*anymore*. But at the time, that last part wasn't true, and I couldn't even finish the installation.
If it had left this as a post-install step, some sort of "Click here to search for updates" button, that would have been fine, but no, they insisted on doing it before finishing the installation, and on not providing an obvious way to skip the step. The worst part was that there was no easily visible way to have configured dialup access on a modem earlier in the install, so not only would the upgrade-packages step have been diabolically long, but there wasn't any hope of doing it except via Ethernet, and I didn't have a convenient spare machine that could route/NAT to the Internet for it.
"older one preparing for exams (SATs) "
This derailed my brain a bit. To me, the SATs are something that you take when you are 18. I took mine in 1984, in Endicott, NY. So either you have an exceptionally gifted 11 year old child, or you are talking about something different.
(Yes, I'm a Welsh-speaking Englishman in France, but I spent almost the whole of the 80s in the US.)
Re: Yeah, I feel it to bro.
"I've not found in my [general computing] background a wired network adapter that does not work with a basic linux install - sort out the rest after intenet is connected."
I have. It was a cheap-and-nasty PCMCIA NE2000 clone that just worked with Windows 98SE. The Linux kernel took one look and gave me the big finger because the chip was buggier than shit, but nevertheless Windows 98SE had no operational problems.
You might say, with some justice, that it was my fault for buying such a cheap and nasty card, but when one OS says, "OK, I'm cool with that," and just gets on with it, and the other says, "Ewwww, that's gross," and refuses to do anything with it, I'm not sure that it's automatically my fault. I looked at the driver code, and there was specific code to reject that card.
And my experience with Ubuntu (7-8 years ago) was that the install **refused*to*finish** unless it had Internet access to download updated versions of all the installed packages. At the time I had ordinary 56K dialup, and the machine in question didn't have access even via that modem, so bye-bye Ubuntu.
Re: Beth wyt ti'n meddwl?
Doeddwn i ddim yn disgwyl gweld y hen iaith ar El Reg. +1. (Dim ond Sais ydw i.)
Re: How to burn someone's house down using TCP/IP
"software control will inevitably be cheaper"
In the case of Therac-25, of course, the cost of pure-software control was three patients killed. Small price to pay to save a few cents per unit by not having hardware interlocks. And that case didn't involve network hacks either.
Lowest common denominator
Sadly for the author of the article, the use of "lowest common denominator" in popular culture to refer to "the most basic, least sophisticated level of taste, sensibility, or opinion among a group of people" is older than he is, since it dates back to the early years of the 20th Century. The use in cross-platform UI work (the use discussed in the article) refers back to this meaning, not the mathematical one, and encapsulates the idea of a minimal set of features that work everywhere. The goal of building the maximal set of features that work everywhere is a noble one, but fraught with complexities and testing issues.
The actual valid maximal set of features will change from revision to revision of each target platform, and is therefore not something that sane organisations would target. Example: IOS 6 changed something in text-box handling, which broke a translation-dictionary app I have on my iPhone. It was evident that the problem was fixable in the app, because shortly afterward, the publisher released an update that addressed the problem. My best guess is that some app-level behaviour that was outside the strict spec of the control, but tolerated or accidentally functional, became outside the actual behaviour expected by the implemented control. This sort of thing makes the "highest common intersection" something to be avoided. Instead you develop for the smallest set of common UI functionality that is useful for your application / framework.
It's a delicate dance, since the "lowest common denominator" has to be tempered by the insertion of the word "useful", or you are likely to be left with a UI that consists entirely of simple pushbuttons.
Re: Oh god (@GrahamT)
Sorry Graham, but your execution of arithmetic is off today. The basic concept is sound, but the result should be more like 345.6MB (decimal). And it certainly shouldn't be the same as a CD - the CD uses a higher frequency (22050Hz versus 18000) for much longer (originally 74 minutes versus 40 for the LP). It looks like you tapped in one more *2 than you should have (345.6 * 2 == 691.2)
On the basis of this formula, a 74-minute CD contains 783.216MB(dec) of audio bits.
Re: Oh god
"Witness conversation with friends son"
This reminded me of a conversation I had with the 13-year old son of a neighbour here in France. The neighbour and her husband are both not technologists (euphemism), and I was there to administer first aid to an elderly WinXP box that had been too near to too many questionable web sites. Their son is technologically aware, but clearly has no concept of adults who know anything about computers, which was annoying for me - heck, I've only owned a PC (not the same one, duh) for a dozen years longer than he's been alive... A few "Oui, je sais"s waved in his direction put him in his place, though.
"you could get rid of the roads altogether and just build rail"
You could do that on the PC version that I played way back when, something like 1988 or so, with the godawful code paper that was impossible for humans to read, and almost impossible for photocopiers to read.
As I recall, if you built any roads at all, the jolly citizens complained bitterly about the traffic, and if you built no roads, they complained bitterly about the lack of roads.
Introducing a new definition of "a few"
"flash-memory-powered portable players with digital music files swept the Walkmans away after a few years"
The cassette-based Walkman was introduced in 1979, 18 years before the 1997 introduction of the first MP3-playing player, the Audible.com MobilePlayer. And Sony withdrew the cassette Walkman in 2010, thirteen years after that.
So "a few" apparently includes numbers up to 31.
((Source: Wikipedia. Accuracy unknown, except that 1979 sounds about right, as does 1997.))
"Downvoted for thinking it's clever to say 'simples'."
Sorry, but "simples" is a perfectly good word.
In French, where it is the plural form of the adjective "simple" (which can mean 'simple', but also, in the context of railway tickets, one-way, as opposed to "aller-retour"). So I might have one "billet simple" but if I have two, then they are "billets simples".
"more than 7 million citizens found to have never been online"
Re: Ship of Theseus for the modern age
"on progressive weeks, upgrade the motherboard, processor, memory, hard disk and video card, is it still the same computer five weeks later?"
Sounds like my old machine. I bought it in 97 with Win95 OSR2. Over the years I replaced every part of it - motherboard, RAM, video, sound, monitor, hard disks, OS (--> 98SE then --> 2K), CD-ROM drive, case, the keyboard, and eventually even the floppy drive (it was the longest-surviving of the original components, probably because it had the lowest rate of wear and tear).
Because I had already started this process when I first included it in a network, it got the host name "grandfathersaxe"...
Oh, and based on what I've read so far, all the comments and even the article suggest strongly that nobody remembers the OEM Windows licences, where you couldn't transfer them anywhere. Not to a new machine of yours, nor on the original machine to another person (along with the machine, duh). This Office 2013 thing isn't as bad as that.