93 posts • joined 8 Jul 2009
OK, so the place could have been off and on habitable for 4 billion years. That's lots of time for civilizations to rise and fall. Maybe the galaxy is full of earth-origin "aliens"!
(Yes, I know, current belief is that there were lots of asteroid hits for a long time, etc. etc. but we need to come up with some good bases for science fiction stories here.)
Won't lose books
If you have all of your purchased Kindle books on your Kindle (and any other devices you use to read them), you will not lose them if Amazon goes under and disappears. The books on my Kindle are in the flash memory of the Kindle - they do not depend on Amazon to continue to be there. And no, they don't go away if the device doesn't ping Amazon every now and then. My Kindle normally has its WiFi turned off to preserve battery - it has gone for months with no contact.
So, quit giving out false information on products/systems you don't happen to like.
I too will take this with lots of grains of salt until it is proved out a lot more. However, I would like to contribute another reactionless drive scheme for you all. :-)
Make a smallish particle accellerator. Accellerate particles from one end to about the half-way point. Then decellerate the particles. Reverse, and send the particles back. Keep them going back and forth. No resulting momentum is imparted to the structure of the chamber because it all cancels out. But, make the thing strong enough to accellerate the particles to close to the speed of light in the middle. Now you get a mass increase in the particles. Still no big deal.
Now use two different waveforms - one to accellerate and one to decellerate, such that the particles spend different amounts of time at different near-speed-of-light speeds. Do both phases contribute the same momentum to the the chamber's structure? We would assume so, but I'm not good enough at math to actually do the calculations to prove it.
If its not balanced, you have a reaction-less drive. If this actually works, some theory as to why it works would be needed, and this "quantum vacuum virtual plasma" stuff doesn't seem to be involved.
(I first had this thought in my undergrad days, which is a loooong time ago.)
Search: "programmable keyboard"
A quick search on Google very strongly suggests that it is the keyboard itself that is being programmed, and not just OS keytables that are modified. For example, a Windows programming utility that uses a datafile to program the keyboard, and then you can be using a KVM switch to flip over to a Linux box and used the programmed keyboard.
Writing to keyboards
I'm pretty sure that USB keyboards *can* be written to. I have small hands, so always switch CAPSLOCK and CTRL so I can readily reach CTRL. The LED for capslock is software controlled by the OS, and it toggles when I press the key physically labelled as "Ctrl". So, the OS is writing to the keyboard, if for no other reason than turning the LEDs on and off. Also, aren't there keyboards that allow you to program sequences into special keys?
Make them not writeable
Seems like the simple and sure-fire fix is to make the firmware not writeable. It can't be that hard to get the software right, and I've never heard of a need for in-the-field firmware upgrades on simple USB devices. Even if it is cheaper to use flash than a non-writeable ROM for the firmware, stick one of those tiny fuseable links in the write line, and blow that as the final step of soldering it all together. Might add a tiny bit to the cost.
Target C & P fine in Canuckland
Just bought some printer paper at the new local Target here. They have been equipped with Chip & Pin readers (which also do swipes, but not bonks) since they opened. They replaced most of the old Zellers stores.
USB port cover only
@ DougS: My reading of the article is that the cover in question is one over the USB port - not the back cover of the phone itself.
The only time I took the back cover off my S4 is when I put the SD card in. I plug in the charger cable quite a bit more often than that. Sounds like S5 owners would want to try to get the wireless charging stuff - article doesn't mention that. As far as I've seen, I would have to insert some non-standard stuff (receiver coil) beside the battery to make it work for my S4.
A different perspective
Since I'm in a position to do so, I thought I would give a different perspective here. I've been a Linux user ever since moving up from my Amigas. I'm currently on KUbuntu because I didn't want to go with Unity. A few months ago, I decided to buy a laptop, to take to some meetings and to try to get my software running on (Cygwin made it trivial!). The machine (a low-end from HP) came with Windows 8, which I upgraded to 8.1 when it became available.
I curse whenever I use the machine. But, the main curse is for the laptop keyboard with its poor feel, changed layout and narrower spacing. I cannot type reliably on it. Now that I always plug in a USB mouse, I can avoid the detestable trackpad thingy. That leaves my next curse being for not being able to set it up so that windows select when the cursor is over them, but *do not raise*. Anyone know how to make Windows do that?
Going from 8.0 to 8.1 simply meant that I've told it to start in the usual desktop mode instead of the Start Screen mode. I never use the Start Screen mode, and I dislike the model of applications taking up the whole screen. I use LibreOffice on it (didn't come with MS Office), and I loaded FoxIt for PDF's to avoid the full-screen-only PDF reader app.
I have a horrible time finding settings, but I expect I would on any Windows machine. I also am quite frustrated by the lengthy update process (especially for HP stuff), compared to what I am used to on Linux. So, for me, the fact that it is a laptop and not a real computer is the biggest problem. The second is that it is the very unfamiliar Windows instead of Linux. The fact that it is Window 8.1 is actually fairly minor after those.
My Roomba doesn't get used anywhere near enough. Once every month or two isn't really enough, and I have 3 separate areas that I restrict it to with the "invisible walls". I don't run it in the area I'm in now unless I supervise, since there are too many loose wires around.
What I really need is something that can dust. Can't afford a French maid.
Hmm. Canada seems to be a bit ahead of the US in terms of this particular "investment". The local news said late last week that a company was putting a pair of Bitcoin ATMs into the west side of Edmonton, because there weren't any there yet - the others were in the east side. If I happened to see a machine, I might plunk a bit of money into it just for fun.
@ Anonymous first poster:
Have you noticed how the charge time and range have been steadily improving over the last few years? Do you have a reason to believe they will not continue to do that?
Have you also noticed that hydrogen storage is difficult/expensive/dangerous (pick 2)?
Yes, battieries can be difficult/expensive/dangerous as well, but why switch away from a technology that lots of people are working furiously on to a technology that not so many people are working on? Note also that typical hydrogen production is a less-than-perfect use of electricity, and so your hybrid is less efficient overall?
Only 500 cycles for a cell phone? Don't some folks use their smart-phones enough that they have to charge them every day? That means less than 2 years of life. Not so good if you want to get your money out of the thing.
Now that is the correct way to use a monitor!
Minor niggle: white text on a black background (gee, like this El Reg page!) is too hard on they eyes for long-term use. Go with something like a tan background.
I would be fine with DRM in browsers if I could be sure that the DRM code did nothing else but prevent me from viewing the video (or whatever) outside of the authorized context. What I don't like is secret code blobs running inside the browser, having access to all of the stuff I might choose to give to the browser. It's very similar to a smartphone, especially Android - I am fine with running magic stuff, but clearly Google has not, and never will, properly protect the information I have in the phone. So, I'm left with looking at the permissions an app wants, and don't download those that want more than I'm willing to give. (I'll ignore the fact that you can't use anything from Google unless you give it access to basically everything!)
Another oldy here
"Pine" is retro? I use it for reading email, and sending anything with an attachment. If I send something without an attachment, I use /bin/mail. Way faster than messing around with a mouse and a GUI thing. When I got this system, I tried switching to a GUI email client to go "modern", but it wouldn't let me use an external editor (emacsclient), so I quickly reverted to the tools that work for me.
Turn off WiFi
My home Wifi router blocks nearly everything inbound. That seems to be why this didn't work for me when WiFi was on in the phone. It worked when I tried again with WiFi off. It *might* also work if I had unplugged or turned off my router - I don't want to try that.
Some good reading
I've definitely had some good reading from Frederick Pohl over the years. I just went and checked, finding 15 Science Fiction Book Club hardcovers on my shelves. No easy way to tell how many paperpacks of his I used to have!
I'll go away now, feeling old. :-)
RR3 - mirror to TV
I downloaded Real Racer 3 to try out - I've done a number of racing games on my PS2 in the past. Keep in mind that I'm very very bad at all video games, and always have been. I have no memory for things like course structure and controls sequences. Anyway, I was put off by the horrible license, which didn't fit on my S4's screen any which way. I eventually waded through it and started the game.
My problem was that I couldn't manage to steer and glance at the course overhead section at the same time. I did badly, spending lots of time off-track.
On my next try just now I hooked up the cord(s) that throw the phone's picture onto my TV. That made a huge difference in visibility. I went from 8th place to 1st place (most people would have been in 1st place immediately.)
Because I'm a stubborn old fart, I had both WiFi and mobile data off while playing. Not sure how much further I can go - one mode left and it was complaining about no connection.
I mostly wanted to see what kind of graphics the phone could do. Seems very similar to what the PS2 does.
Don't change TAB
Having gone through style discussions and committees far too often, I know better than to try to say much that is specific. But,
1) do not use the capabilities of your editor to change the meaning of a TAB. A TAB goes to an 8 character position. Never change that. If you do, you will be looking at some awful messes in the future if you start working with people who do things a bit differently. If you want, say, 4 character indents, then just tell your editor that. It's easy in things like the various emacs's and in vi/vim. Do not use a text editor that cannot do it.
2) as others have said, if there is a house style, use it. You will save yourself and your co-workers a lot of pain.
3) you should only have to type a single key (if any!) to move to the correct column for the next line of code. If you find yourself having to manually space and/or TAB over to the proper column, then get yourself a proper programming editor. The abovementioned emacses and vi/vim are free for all platforms.
4) @ Hungry Sean: never, ever hide control constructs in macros. Never. Use macros almost entirely for constants (including properly parenthesized constant expressions). Beyond that, and you are asking for trouble. See below.
In general, things that you might decide to do as a self-taught one-person programmer will often not work out at all in a programming team. So, on your first move to a team, be prepared to accept changes. If you don't, you should be fired.
Clearly they've spent effort on making the robot's movements during conversation human-like. This suggests a risk: if people become unhappy with dealing with the robot, they may take to abuse or destruction of it because they know it is a robot. Enough of that could build behaviour patterns that should definitely not be applied to other things that have human-like behaviours.
sounds right to me
"different regions of the university have subtly different laws of physics"
Hmm. That sounds right, based on my recollections of university. There were the Phys Ed laws, the Medicine laws, the Engineering laws, the Humanities laws, and of course the Sciences laws. Trying to mix them was asking for trouble.
This is a good place to mention this - I was having the "Mediaserver using battery" problem a while ago, and did some searching via Google. If you are not heavily into cloud use and all the various Googley services, go into the App Manager and disable nearly everything that has "sync" in its name. Use common sense of course! Your battery will thank you. I bought mine as a tech toy - have no real *need* for it. I expect I can now get nearly 4 days out of a charge. (I've got background data off, usually cell data off, GPS off, NFC off, and usually WiFi off. And "save battery" mode of course.)
You've blown it!
You've blown it now, ratfox! Next year they will just tell us it was between 1-1000 NSL's. There goes our huge information source.
Switched to Kubuntu
I got my new computer a couple of months ago, and didn't want to go with Unity. I probably could have, from what a friend says. I just want a blank desktop with a single task bar on the right hand side of my screen. Apparantly I *can* set it up that way. Anyway, I've ended up going with Kubuntu. I've never used KDE before, so there was a learning curve, but it seems to be going OK now. The biggest problem was that I spent a day or so getting sound to work. Turns out it was fine, but somehow my mixer (there's a mixer? Huh?) settings had all ended up as disabled, and the little red icons at the bottom of the various columns weren't jumping out at me.
My big problem with Unity is that it appears to force me to do a lot of stuff with the keyboard. I'm a touch typist, but I have a horrible memory - trying to remember all the funny key combos is quite difficult for me. Similarly, trying to remember the goofy names of many Linux tools is painful - having them readily available in a categorized menu is the way to go for me.
On TV too
I may have the details worng, but...
I think I saw a Surface on the show "Mentalist". And, Window 8 screens on "Hawaii Five-O". It was all just props of course, not actually doing anything. Looked strange to me, but then I'm a Linux guy.
Is there a RAM issue with running newer versions of Android on old devices? Do 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 all run nicely on a device with only 512 Meg? Updating to get new features is nice, but not so much if the update makes the device slow, or have failing apps all the time.
Aha! A solution to global warming. All we have to do is have everyone turn their backyards into mini peat bogs, and we'll be saved.
Hmm. How do I do a peat bog on a 5-foot wide concrete balcony?
There has got to be precedent for that before 2000.
If the patent holds, then lots of things are in trouble. I'm running an ancient Ubuntu 10.04, and on the bar I've got on the right side are live-updating icons for system load, network activity, disk activity, weather/temperature, CPU clock speed, ... Having that stuff there is why I run Gnome2 instead of something even simpler like TWM. Even under that, or way back under SunOs, the system load things were small tile-looking entities that continuously updated.
Gah! - still not gone
Annoyingly, I had just checked the comments here again, and went to send an email, when the phone rings. They're still out there. Different name. The first guy's accent was so bad that I couldn't really understand what he wanted. He was looking for the Windows key on the keyboard. Well, my keyboard is an old USB Sun keyboard, and so I suggested I try the key with the diamond on it. He passed me off to his supervisor at that point. The supervisor wanted me to find the key with the "four flags" on it. I told him it didn't have one, and mentioned Sun again. I had already told the other guy that I am running Linux, but I don't think he understood the concept. :-)
Mr. supervisor thanked me and hung up. That's about the best I have the patience for. :-)
"Windows Technical Support"
See title - that's what they usually called themselves (I'm in Canada). It sometimes got so bad that I was getting multiple calls per day. I'm glad they have been slowed down, at least for a bit.
I've never had the patience to string them along - got things to do, don't 'cha know!
I've never had a problem here in Edmonton, but it was a problem at my parents' house over in B.C. They had bird feeders there, and I don't here. The other thing was that they had windows on two walls of the same room, and we theorized that the birds were looking through the two windows and seeing familiar stuff beyond, and just taking a different route to it. Or so they thought.
What is OTT? Over The ???
Also, to answer one question, the reason to do everything with HTTP is that many corporate firewalls block nearly all protocols except HTTP. This is for "security", even though everyone knows that there are programs that wrap other protocols up into HTTP messages.
I guess eventually firewalls will start examining HTTP packets in more detail, and then be able to block based on the nature of those packets. Then another level of wrapping will be needed. And so it goes....
To answer the questions: yes!
The free Kindle app allows you to read ebooks from Amazon on your desktop, Apple or Android devices. That's what the article explained.
Similarly, you can transfer simple epubs to your Kindle via USB connection or email, as explained by another poster.
Kindles also natively support PDF, for document viewing (a bit restricted in scaling, etc.) And, Android devices have a quite nice Acrobat reader.
I use my Kobo VOX as a small Android tablet, so could read my Amazon ebooks on it if I wanted to (I prefer the e-Ink Kindle, however), but I also did the trick of using Calibre to convert an ebook I bought from El Reg and read that there. You have lots of choices, no matter which way you go.
Offered in Canada
I just checked the Kobo page, and the readers are offered. Looks like Canadian prices:
Mini - $80, Glo - $130, Touch - $100, ARC - $200
All are "Coming Soon", except the Touch, which had a "Buy Now" button.
ARC pages say 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 1280x800, 2 Megapixel camera, 1 Gig RAM, Android 4, 8 or 16 GB models, 10hrs reading, 2+ weeks standby, uses Google Play. No mention of an SD slot (the VOX has one).
That 2+ weeks in standby would be the biggest benefit over the VOX, which only has a couple days of standby.
I'm lazy, so instead of trying to do my own research on what's going on, I'm just going to ask, and hope someone will answer me. :-)
All well and good (except perhaps the auto-update), but have they made it stop dropping those damn "C:\nppdf32Log\debuglog.txt" files all over the place? The last update didn't.
I'm an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego). Been one for over 10 years. I'm a founding member of our local group, see web page here: <http://www.nalug.org> (warning - slow site).
Yes, you can buy individual pieces online from Lego (look for "Pick-a-brick"). However, since there are now so many piece types and colours, only a small subset are available there. Also, they are expensive - Lego seems to sell by weight, so rare stuff is the same price as common stuff.
Yes, you can still buy boxes of just bricks, etc. without instructions. Again, however, Lego is expensive, and that's not going to change - the material itself is costly.
Competitors like Megabloks have now got their quality close to Lego's. One remaining issue is that because they use a different material (which is why they are a lot cheaper), they don't last as long - bits of it flake off when you connect the pieces.
The Friends sets seem popular here - there are rarely much of them in the stores. I haven't bought any myself, but I mainly buy sets for parts to build my own stuff. I'll repeat the mention of the "Creator" line of sets - very worthwhile - each shows 3 different projects for the parts, just like the old Technic sets did.
I don't like the new style of "lift arm" Technic sets, so don't buy them. I find them simply too hard on my fingers in this dry climate, especially for disassembly.
Calibre fixed it! :-)
Running the book through Calibre did indeed fix it, although it shows up twice on the bookshelf, and it breaks if I try to delete one. Oh well - could be some setting in Calibre that I haven't looked at.
While experimenting, I turned on the Kobo Vox's Wi-Fi to see if some DRM thing required authentication. An update was available. I let it do its thing. With this new update, Kobo no longer has their own App Store - you now get "Google Play", and have to have a Google account to get apps, etc. I think on the whole this is a good thing - having their own store must have been a drain on their resources. However, this may mean they are getting out of the Android "tablet" business.
Doesn't work. :-(
Paid for the ePub. It arrived quickly in email. Copied it to my Kobo Vox. Imported it. Gets an error on opening. Sigh. Tried again. Same. I'll have to try running the book through Calibre to see if that helps. I chose the ePub for my VOX since it has a colour display, instead of the Kindle version - my Kindle is B&W.
I had a Sorcerer here in Canada for a year or two. I extended it with a huge external box with space for a pair of 8 inch floppy drives. I was always amused by the expansion slot devices, which were in 8-track tape cartridges. I remember a truly impressive Dr Who game that used the programmable character set to do a full-3D flying-through-space game, a bit like asteroids. No native sound output, however - I had an external one that did off/on via a pin on the parallel port.
Proper keyboard, upper and lower case, able to hook up floppy disks - excellent!
But, what is that switch in the middle of the bottom of the front? Mine didn't have one of those.
Not cheap anymore!
I've recently (last week) looked at some e-books for my Amazon Kindle. The prices, at least for new books, are nothing like cheap anymore. They are now higher than the price of a paperback. For example, I payed CDN $15.34 for Sanderson's "An Alloy of Law". I think I'm going to stick to older books on my Kindle for a while!
Worked here (Edmonton)
The pics are kind of cool. The video is a lot of ink-blot type stuff, but has Star Wars images sort of hidden in it.
I know some local fans that will likely want to go. Me, I like SF, but I'm not really a Star Wars *fan*.
"Thunderbirds, Stingray, Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90"
Didn't you miss the first one, Supercar? The world would have collapsed completely if MasterSpy had gotten his way...
Watched the YouTube clip - must admit I don't remember that one. What's "Dragon" got to do with a tentacled thing with a furnace? Or didn't I follow the comments properly? The "sound effects" seemed quite annoying.
Some random thoughts
Good reading Trevor, keep it up!
It seems in my narrow viewpoint, that El Reg's readership has more "climate change deniers" than other forums. Could there be a reason? Perhaps the reason is that El Reg is British, and so a majority of the readers/commentators are British. The British *ISLANDS* have a climate that is moderated by all the water around them, and so wouldn't show the drastic changes that climate in the middle of North America, Asia or Australia could show.
If the world is warming up, there are lots of bad consequences: coastal areas getting flooded, effects on plants and animals that humans depend on, thus potentially leading to economic problems, health problems, etc. What's the downside to trying to fix things? (Ignore the crazy ideas that have been suggested, that could cause more harm than good.) The downside is mostly economic - it costs a *lot* of money, and the benefits are very long term. That's lost potential (the cynic in me says: fewer toys) for possibly great stuff. If nothing else it would mean that all of us would be a bit "less rich". I'm not a gambler: I'll take that over even the possibility of the huge badness that might be avoided.
Let's say we have an old farmer, who lives 30 miles from any major population center. His father bought a thermometer 50 years ago and they have been recording temperatures every day since then. I'll believe that farmer's opinion on climate change over the opinions of economists and geologists!
Why are so many people so unwilling to believe in climate change? Be honest folks - scientific stuff either way isn't the real reason. The real reason is that everyone knows that doing anything significant would cost so much money that most people's standard of living would be hit. And nobody wants that, so lots of people are fine with being "climate change deniers". Did I mention that I'm cynical?
Carefull Richard, this article, written with the assumption of global warming, just about goes against The Register's editorial position. That was previously pushed hard by Andrew, and now we see Lewis jumping on it.
It would be a shame to see this being your last El Reg article - your articles are some of the most technically detailed and well researched on El Reg, and I for one would miss them.
In this particular article it is a bit disappointing to see the paper's authors concluding that the effect they see is anthropomorphic just because of its overall pattern - there could easily be other causes. Still, it is a worrying indication, as is the side note of observed southward species migration in Australia.
(Here in the supposedly frigid north, we actually did have a week of cold weather, but now we are back to 6-7 degrees above normal, making nearly 3 months of that this winter.)
Just some more fodder for the long-running flame-fest on El Reg:
Here in Edmonton, Alberta, we set a new high-temperature record 2 days ago. We beat the old high temperature by 3 degrees, with a temperature of +12C, 20C above the normal daytime high for this time of year. Lots of places in western Canada similarly broke records. Some forecasts indicate that 2 days from now might break records as well.
Now breaking records is not that big of a deal. This year we have almost no snow, and that increases the amount of warming from sunlight, thus melting more snow and ...
The thing that we are set to do that is totally unprecedented, however, deals with the number of consecutive days where we don't get below -10C. This long a stretch of very warm weather in December/January has never happened before, at least during the 100+ years that temperature measurements exist for.
This time of year is normally our coldest. The long range forecasts in the fall had said that we were going to have a unusually cold and snowy winter. Not so far...
I've had a Kobo Vox here in Canada since the day they became available. I just wanted an Android tablet to play around with. The Vox works fine for that. Most of my time with it has been spent playing games, like Angry Birds and Doodle Fit. I have yet to finish a book on it - I've got the 3G Kindle keyboard for book-reading. Once games are started, they play fine (one exception so far is Word Twist, which doesn't register touch positions properly - it may be a dumbed down version). Movies play fine as well.
On an upcoming holiday, I'll have WiFi available, so plan on taking the Vox along for web browsing, game playing, and watching some Star Trek episodes I've put on a micro-SD card.
Having the battery dead happens a lot. The solution is to turn it completely off when you aren't using it, rather than just putting it in standby. Cold booting takes longer, but at least you can use it afterwords. I have seen touch glitches, and lack of response with it. One suggestion: don't create folders for stuff - I'm told that Android in general doesn't handle them well.
RAM => Flash
Nice little article.
You should fix the references to RAM to be Flash as well - its a tad confusing as is. As any geek will tell you, RAM is the stuff that doesn't keep its data when you power it off.
The Fire has 8GB Flash, with apparantly about 2GB used for the OS and installed apps, leaving 6 GB for the owner's books, apps, music, videos, etc. About the same as the Kobo Vox, except you can expand the Vox with an additional 32GB via a micro SD card.
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