408 posts • joined Thursday 9th July 2009 18:31 GMT
"Spinning platters will soon seem as quaint as recorded music being distributed on shellac; flash prices will fall and capacities increase."
I notice you didn't bother to mention anything about reliability here.
When I can put all my data on an SSD that is large, cheap *and* won't shit its pants every few months because the number of write cycles was too much for it to handle, we can start talking about how quaint spinning platters are.
That said, SSD makes sense as a laptop main drive for most purposes. If you really need mega capacity and heavy write activity (editing video has just those requirements) add an external unit with those "old-fashioned" spinning platters.
As for the optical drive, that's no big loss at least based on my own personal experience. I can barely remember the last time I had to use optical media for anything other than installing an OS on a "clean slate" machine, that could not have been done just as well from a net-enabled installer file. If my ancient laptop could boot from USB or firewire I would have no need at all for a built-in optical drive. More battery capacity on the other hand *is* something I could use all the time.
Re: Found my password
My old password was in there. And by "old" I mean one of the 2 or 3 I used to use absolutely everywhere before the idiots over at Gawker Media got pwned. I doubt anyone else had this particular password.
Luckily the Gawker leak was my "don't use the same password everywhere no matter how good you think it is" moment, so I've already made sure I don't have to hunt down all my assorted accounts for a password change, ever again.
I wonder if part of the problem is accessibility.
At age 10 I experienced writing my first ever programs in BASIC on an Atari 800XL. They had one hour to catch our interest and in my case they did, big time. Did they make us insert and select data from an array, or crunch numbers, or write a letter in a word processor? Nope, they knew their target audience; they had us write something not far off Hello World, but with rainbow coloured text and sound playing behind it.
I. Was. Hooked. A real "WOW!" moment, if you will. The path of a life changed inside an hour and a few dozen lines of BASIC. I got a Spectrum that Christmas and tore into the manual like a kid possessed. Within an hour or two I was making the computer BEEP and DRAW lines on the screen. I was making the computer do cool interesting stuff. Me! Making cool stuff happen! Holy crap!
That simple accessibility is missing from modern day systems. Back then, if I wanted to draw a red circle on screen I would power the computer up, type something like CIRCLE INK 2; 100,100,50 and BAM, a freakin' circle. Middle C for one second? BEEP 1,0. Job done, curious kid entertained, another baby step toward a future programming career. I soon learned about DATA structures so that I could create user-defined graphics, or play a musical scale. Another step.
Today, I'd have to install an interpreter or compiler or IDE (possibly paying money for it), maybe install an additional 3rd party library for the graphics operations, dig through the weighty API documentation to find out how to instantiate a surface to draw into and a window to put the surface in, initialize a 1-pixel wide red pen object, call a method to draw the circle in the bitmap surface using the pen object, update the window display with the bitmap surface..........all that in an INTERPRETED scripting language FFS. Christ almighty, I get antsy thinking about it and I DO THAT STUFF FOR A LIVING NOW!! Can you imagine how quickly a pre-teen kid would get bored of wading through it all and decide that this programming thing isn't their cup of tea and that it's more fun to just play X-Box games instead?
I'll be the first to say that BASIC taught me a lot of bad habits, but it also got me to a point where I knew the important programming concepts inside out and could understand why INCLUDEs and APIs were useful additions to my repertoire. Being able to do cool stuff really quickly and easily on demand meant I didn't get disillusioned before I reached that point.
Re: @ Pierre Err...
Also, while I was busy in university learning how to wait for my printouts, a couple of friends were in a "university degree equivalent" course at the local technical college being taught that you had to turn the wordprocessor on with your thumb because of static electricity, and that typing too fast would cause the computer to get "stuck" (you know, like a mechanical typewriter).
Re: @ Pierre Err...
Late 1980s-early 1990s my computer science teachers were:
A geography teacher who...I'm not sure why she was chosen. Maybe she had a computer at home and space in her teaching schedule.
A maths teacher who, I guess, was chosen because "maths and programming are similar, right"?
A languages teacher who had done some computer programming in university. When punch cards and batch jobs were the way things were done. Made for some entertaining and enlightening stories though and helped set me up for year 1 of university where...they still were running programs overnight and leaving your printed output in a slot with your name on it. In 1994 (my university IT education turned out to be almost useless in the real world, but that's a different rant).
Equipment was a small lab with networked BBC micros (about one for every two students, which we had access to for one or two periods a week) and later a dedicated classroom with almost one RM Nimbus 286 machine per student which were almost, but not quite, compatible with actual PCs running DOS.
Don't get me wrong, they did the best job they could, really. Back then they knew this IT thing was important somehow, but they were still feeling their way around how to teach it. I did more than one case study on how a bank ATM works, for example. The focus was on learning how computers work (by that I mean actual computing fundamentals, as opposed to "press the power button to turn it on") and how to program them. But I didn't really learn anything new that I could carry into my career as a developer that I hadn't already learned 5 years earlier by hacking around in BASIC on a Spectrum. Maybe half the students wanted to learn but entered the classroom knowing more than they would ever be taught and the other half had opted for CS thinking that they'd get to play games for several hours a week!
What was kind of neat was that we had complete free reign in what we did for our A-level project. They hadn't nationalized the curriculum to some lowest common denominator yet. Out of our crop of projects we had several games (mine even used the mouse and bitmapped graphics, which...er, well, we were never taught, but I did convince the teachers to let me look at the full documentation for RM Pascal and figured it out from there) and some which were more traditional data-munching tasks.
HTML+CSS by themselves aren't "programming" any more than putting printer control codes into a wordprocessor document in the pre-WYSIWYG days was.
You don't even have to write properly-formed HTML and CSS! It might well be unique in that the "garbage in garbage out" rule doesn't always apply. Feed crap into an interpreter or compiler (or a printer or a Jaquard loom) and you *will* get errors, or crap, out the other end. Feed crap into a web browser and you may very well get acceptable output (where "acceptable" means it looks the way you expected it to in your web browser).
Re: Ah, happy days.
My +3 floppies were still completely intact at least as recently as 2004. Unlike the 3" floppy drive I needed to be able to copy data off them, which required a makeshift drive belt repair as the original belt had disintegrated from age.
They might still be readable for all I know, but they're in a box that's MIA somewhere in my apartment, the +3 itself can't put a display on any TV or monitor I own without modifications and the original 3" floppy is in pieces in a box on the other side of the Atlantic anyway!
Re: Great piece, but wrong on the attributes... But wait, there's more...
The 128k BASIC lost the keyword shortcuts but 48k mode retained them right through the entire life of the Spectrum, including the +2A/+3.
The Sinclair 128k machines still had the shortcuts printed on the keycaps. The Amstrad Spectrums dispensed with those, aside from LOAD and RUN which were still printed on the L and R keys.
I never missed them on my +3, because I never had any reason to program in 48k BASIC and only used 48k mode for compatibility with older games.
Re: Custom Speccy anyone ?
There were a few issues I ran into with the +3 having compatibility troubles with 128k software, though it happened surprisingly few times in the 5 years I was actively using the +3.
One was the different syntax for RAMdisk use in BASIC. The 128k used something like LOAD! (or !LOAD) while the +3 treated it as drive "M:". I think the "128k Music Box" software was one which I had to go through and manually edit the code to run on the +3. I also recall modifying a couple of programs so that the "save to microdrive" option saved to disk instead.
The other was that RAM page 7 on the 128k was used only for the second screen area, but PLUS3DOS used it as a temporary store and for some system variables and any program which wrote into it could cause major problems.
There were differences in ROM and RAM paging as well because of the extra 32K of ROM needed to house the DOS. No problem if the older code pages ROM and RAM properly, but like the keyboard reading problems on issue 3 Spectrums, I suspect some programming shortcuts could lead to the wrong ROM or RAM pages being in place.
I recall there being a software hack which set up RAM in the full 64k address space and loaded a straight copy of the original Spectrum 48k ROM in the bottom 16k, allowing some otherwise totally incompatible programs which wouldn't even load in 48k mode to work.
Last of the rubber key Spectrums
My first computer at Christmas 1984 was one of the last rubber-keyed 48k machines. The Spectrum+ was already on the shelves at this point (I seem to have a knack for this, later ending up with one of the slightly oddball Amiga 500 machines with 1.3 Kickstart but an A500+ style case).
I actually preferred the rubber key version, though that might just have been through familiarity. I could hammer out program code and text at a pretty rapid pace on that thing. The very nice ring-bound manual was much better than the sorry excuse for a booklet that my + owning friends got, and effectively taught me to program over the course of a couple of weeks.
Turned out I had little choice but to go through the manual, as my old 1970's era tape recorder wasn't up to the task of loading anything from tape. I finally got to play Chequered Flag, Horace Goes Skiing, the Horizons tape and so on several weeks later, by which time I'd worked through the manual cover-to-cover including all the exercises. Right around then I was introduced to INPUT magazine and continued my growing love of programming.
Upgraded to a +3 later on and spent so much time using it that I wore the textured plastic smooth where my palms rested! It ended up with custom ROMs downloaded from the Internet burned onto a pair of EPROMs and a small hard drive in place of the old 3" drive. I also hacked up an interface cable to connect an Amiga external 3.5" floppy drive to it. My 48K also has a custom EPROM, a 32KB chip with a copy of the stock ROM in the bottom half and a 3rd party ROM in the upper 32K with a toggle switch on the back to select which one to use. If I can get it to display properly on NTSC tellies I'll be all set for some proper retro programming fun all over again!
Modern computers are so much more capable, yet they bore the crap out of me compared to the old Speccy and its 8-bit peers.
Re: They appear to have fixed it
Funny you should bring that up. I had a much-loved Speccy at home, but always lusted after the graphics capabilities of the BBC Micro, with high resolution MODE 0 and colourful MODE 2, and played a bit with some of the listings from INPUT magazine during lunch period at school.
But when I finally got my hands on a BBC B around 2002 or so along with the ubiquitous Microvitec CUB monitor to go with it and started hacking around with it properly, I quickly found out that 32KB of RAM minus 20+KB of screen memory equals not much by way of room for BASIC, or anything much for that matter.
Pixel-level colour loses its appeal remarkably quickly when you realize that you have to revert to a 4 or even 2-colour mode (or code up interrupt drive mid-frame mode changes) to have any hope of doing much useful with the display. Annoying as colour clash could be, as a price vs capabilities compromise I think Sinclair made the best choice at the time.
I guess I was spoiled by all those years of having more free memory available for my use than the BBC B had total memory. I'll take colour clash over "Out of Memory" errors every stinkin' time! ;-)
With hindsight I should have looked for a Master 128k on Ebay instead of a B...
Good to see that something of historical significance in the software world has been preserved. I'm sure my happiness has bugger all to do with the many happy hours spent playing PoP when I should have been paying attention in CS classes...
Re: So, er, what about selling the signs?
Jolly good point.
Virginia Beach has these signs up which denote "no swearing". I've never seen anything like them elsewhere. Many of the beachfront tat stores sell replicas of the sign. I briefly considered buying one.
Might not work, but might be worth a try at least.
Brought to you by the same people responsible for credit ratings like AAAA, AAA, AA+, AA, Aa, A++, A+, A, AB+ and so on.
Because god forbid we have ratings which even vaguely resemble a failing grade.
My first Windows encounter
Was 3.1. I got very good at wrangling the underlying DOS to fix problems for our poor users, some of whom had just had old dumb terminals replaced by not much smarter PCs. Going home to AmigaOS reminded me daily just how primitive the Windows boxes really were.
How I wish we could go back to having Word 2, with just the stuff needed to write a neatly formatted document. We installed the first 6 Pentium systems in the office back when 100MHz was the 'nads and it actually scrolled uncontrollably fast!
Taking offense on the Internet
Given that it is very easy to say something on the Internet that will cause offense to someone, somewhere, the only way to not fall foul of this is to not post anything ever.
Since it's obviously unconstitutional, I wouldn't expect it to survive for long.
Just a thought here. Isn't the whole point of posting photos online to get them to the widest possible audience? And didn't the potential audience for a photo posted to Instagram just about double overnight?
This is a *bad* thing? I guess it's not really about the photography after all, and is just about being able to pretend they're better than everyone else. How sad.
Waaa Waaah Waaaah!
Seriously? The iWotsit users aren't exactly making themselves look good here. FFS grow up.
You want claustrophobic? Flickr makes Instagram look like wide open space.
Re: You don't need new laws
The logical conclusion of which is that in an ideal world you wouldn't need *any* laws or law enforcement because people would be capable of behaving reasonably without being legally forced to do so.
Obviously that's not the case.
I do agree that if something is covered by an existing law, AND it is clearly covered, AND it is enforced (or there is established legal precedent) then there is no need for yet another new law on the books. But one way or another, someone needs to make it very clear that it's a legal no-go area otherwise employers will continue to take these liberties.
Re: Fidelity issues?
One of the sad ironies of life: when you're old enough to be able to afford really really good hi-fi gear, you may be too old to appreciate the difference.
Re: Retina Display?
Which sounds about right really. It'll be all MODE 2 looking if you get close enough, but it's not designed for close-up viewing at all.
An iWotsit display will look grainy too if you examine it through a 10x magnifier instead of just using it at the normal viewing distance of a foot or two.
And there I was thinking I was the badness having my Speccy (with its Dk'Tronics joystick interface) hooked up to a 24" RGB monitor which looked like it might have once lived in an airport terminal. Paid 30 quid for it and after the seller hauled it across town on a trailer had to figure out which bare wire hanging out the back was for what signal.
Re: Try this one on for size...
The answer is, indeed "take a hike".
After long enough in employment some of us have figured out that the level of salary offered isn't always the most important factor in deciding whether a job is "good" or not. There are some jobs and employers where there isn't enough money in existence to make it attractive.
@law Re: Surely this is illegal
Regardless of whether I have anything to hide or be embarrassed about on my Facebook account (or any other account of any sort) - and I really don't, because I assume that it isn't necessarily as private as some think - my login details are absolutely none of their goddamn business and this *would* be grounds for me terminating the interview and moving on.
In flight calling?
"The regulator has already paved the way for in-flight mobile telephones, creating a technical framework within which in-flight calling is safe and leaving it to the airlines to decide if it's worth offering the service."
Please God let them decide it's not worth the hassle. It's bad enough being trapped in a sealed tube full of other people for several hours, without having to listen to one half of their bloody phone conversations. It's the one remaining redeeming feature of air travel that the annoying morons have to turn their phones off.
Re: I am disappointed
Why stop at 2 dimensions anyway? Surely there must be some way to bake a pie in the shape of a dodecahedron?
I don't need a special day for pie.
Reckless consumerism, Facebook style
Lottie Cash checked into: Downtown Shopping Paradise Mall.
Lottie Cash has achieved the following social media awards this week!
* Runway Star
* Queen of Diamonds (and other shiny trinkets)
Lottie Cash earned a +1 bonus on her GULLIBLE RUBE skill in CitiVille.
Lottie Cash has achieved the following social media awards this week!
* Silver Merit Badge of Financial Recklessness.
* Double Platinum Badge of Shallow Consumerism.
Lottie Cash needs help paying off her credit card debt in CitiVille. Come and join the fun!
Lottie Cash changed her name to Lottie Unpaid-Bills.
Lottie Unpaid-Bills has achieved the following social media awards this week!
* Gold Star Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Global Economic Crisis
Lottie Unpaid-Bills has changed her address to: my car.
Lottie Unpaid-Bills is in a relationship: being stalked by Bob the Debt Collector.
Lottie Unpaid-Bills posted a status update: Looking for someone to help me store all the stuff I bought, my new digs under the railway bridge don't have a walk-in closet. Lucky for me I was able to grab it all before my car got towed away by the repo-depot truck! Yay me!
Lottie Unpaid-Bills posted a status update: fucking wanker banker just pissed on my cardboard box and told me to get a job. Then he waved a big wad of money at me and laughed.
Hardly a first. Sadly this seems to be the cost of attracting large corporations to your locality. Not sure it's a good way to guarantee a long term commitment though.
ISTR Ireland gave generous tax breaks to companies which set up, operated for a decade or so and then buggered off elsewhere when the tax breaks expired and someone else offered a sweeter deal.
Then again, those are 3,600+ jobs which aren't being outsourced to East Buttfuckistan for the time being. Should put a lot more than $21m back into the local economy.
So the judge, in effect, just reminded Apple that the same rules apply to them as everyone else and that they aren't above the law.
About bloody time someone did.
Re: Arsehole ... (rhymes with dumb troll)
That is the stupidest argument in favour of theft I ever saw!
"So what if I've taken your current supply"
Because that supply cost something to produce. Land, raw materials (the vines, stuff to help make the vines grow), harvesting, production (grapes don't squeeze themselves you know), marketing, shipping...
The grapes may, literally, grow on vines. But without all the other things (which cost time and money) they won't be becoming wine any time soon.
In the meantime, while I wait for those grapes to grow back, what am I going to do about the supply which I paid to create and which I'm not going to get any income from because you stole it? Well, your skin is renewable too, maybe I can peel you and use it as fertilizer. Don't worry, it'll only be a minor inconvenience, it'll grow right back and you haven't lost anything really.
Never played the first one, but I do recall seeing posters advertising it stuck up on a wall right at the start of the M1 out of Belfast. "So many pedestrians. So little time." This was before I finally gave in and built a Wintel PC though, so PC-only games weren't really on my radar.
Played the crap out of Carma 2, which was zombies and green blood out of the box, of course applied the patches to revert it back to having real people and blood. Great fun in multiplayer LAN mode! Still should have the CD somewhere, and a Windows 98 kicking around. Perhaps I need to make my W7 box dual boot with 98 so I can play this again. I have the third one too, which looked better but somehow didn't have the same charm.
Re: the rudder did it
And the moral of the story is: don't believe everything you see on TV.
Keeping a safe distance, staying in lane and being in control of your vehicle enough to maintain a reasonable speed are fundamental skills no driver should need help with.
Sure, we all have some bad habits behind the wheel but if you're so distracted or incompetent that you routinely need an app on a smartphone (or in-car safety helpers) to help you with any of the most basic aspects of driving, you have no business being behind the wheel at all.
Perhaps this app *can* be used to help people understand when they're driving badly, but I'd suspect it'll be one more distraction they don't need, or used as an excuse to be even more sloppy (the safety devices will save me!)
Solve the problem by educating drivers properly and making sure those who are apparently beyond educating don't drive.
"Windows 8 will help people work harder, faster and better"
No it just means they'll have full-screen Wikipedia, Amazon, eBay or *cough* El Reg comments open instead of whatever it is they're supposed to be doing.
I get all my best work done when the internet is down.
Re: It won't change anything
The issue is that he used his nationally broadcast radio show as a platform from which to repeatedly, over the course of several days, repeatedly insult, demean, harass and *slander* someone who disagreed with the views he's paid to represent. Not for the first time either. He only backed down with a poor excuse for an apology when his sponsors started to walk out.
Sure he's entitled to express his opinion. It's his 1st Amendment right in fact.
But what he may be about to learn is that freedom of speech doesn't confer freedom of consequences from what you say in public. A long overdue lesson in my opinion. Free speech carries great responsibility and Limbaugh has a long track record of being irresponsible with his words. Until now, he's been able to sidestep the consequences.
If an average office worker were to express those same opinions about a colleague, they'd be escorted out of the building on grounds of sexual harassment, First Amendment regardless.
Yes, a boycott can make a difference. Money talks, far more loudly than any other form of protest. Advertisers *will* leave him if their clients and customers threaten to leave *them* because the whole point of advertising is to gain business, not lose it. Enough advertisers leave and the radio stations which carry his show will have serious pause for thought on whether to continue his contract.
Good move, Citrix. But why did it take so long?
"These customers have expressed their growing concern that some of his recent comments seem inconsistent with the core values Citrix has always stood for – humility, integrity and respect."
I applaud Citrix for dropping their sponsorship of that toxic sack of crap.
But I do have to wonder why, if they're concerned with humility, integrity and respect they ever advertised on his show in the first place. He doesn't know the meaning of any of those 3 words (among others) and never has. Anyone who's ever listened to his shock jock show for more than a couple of minutes would have that figured out long ago.
"Recent comments" "*seem* inconsistent"? He's been an incendiary, arrogant asshat for his entire career, people. It *IS* his career, frankly. This is just the first time he's truly been called out and been hurt by it. It wouldn't surprise me to find that when he says he's "sorry" he really means "I'm sorry my sponsors are leaving me, maybe this insincere apology will help".
No, it won't. I'll be very sure not to do business with anyone stupid enough to keep advertising with him.
I'm a renter not a criminal!
"The industry fears these services not simply because they generate far less revenue for it, but because it encourages, it believes, a 'rent and rip' culture."
Could they be any more out of touch with reality?
I pay my monthly sub to Netflix for their DVD-only service and rent what I want to watch. Technically I'm quite capable of ripping the content but I really can't be arsed. Why spend the time, storage space and blank media to copy something I can turn around, shove right back on the top of my queue and have in my hands within a couple of days at worst?
Maybe I'm an outlier, but most movies and TV shows I have no desire to see more than once. The few that I might re-watch later I can re-rent when I want to. The very few indeed that I might want to keep around, I'll be damned if I'll trust that to some cloud service or a DRM-adulterated file on my computer. Or any file on my computer, actually.
I expect most people renting from Netflix (or anywhere else) don't know where to start even if they did want to rip a DVD.
Besides, if rentals were such a bad deal for the industry they wouldn't exist at all.
Re: Re: Correction - firefox on MS's rubbish OS's
I can see how that would be the case for an extension, which could (I assume) be installed per-user without admin privileges.
For a browser component though? Are those installable at a per-user level at all? Seems like that should be something requiring root privileges. Just curious...
Yep, my wife recalls watching this movie at the cinema and the seats shaking.
Mind you she lived in southern California at the time so it's not out of the question that there was an actual earthquake going on. But she's pretty sure it was the seats.
Can they aim for the cable connecting Nigeria to the rest of the world? Pretty please?
Facebook not as important as it might seem
"Social media sites have become the internet for many people. Corporate presence on Facebook is the be-all and end-all of corporate discoverability to a certain segment of the population. Even if you have your own webpage, they'll only ever find that page if it is linked to in some fashion through Facebook."
“There was a lot of anticipation that Facebook would turn into a new destination, a store, a place where people would shop ... But it was like trying to sell stuff to people while they’re hanging out with their friends at the bar.”
People just don't use social media the way marketers think they do. In fact I'd hazard a guess that most people on social media sites have no interest in doing anything besides talking at people about what they're doing.
And I can say for sure that while I know people who have Facebook as their default home page and spend much of their online time there, I know NOBODY of any age group or demographic who *only* uses social networking sites.
Re: Re: Re: @Paul
"Uh, uh. Not really. Their first duty is to their customers. Screw this up too much and they won't see my cash again."
No. As a publicly traded corporation their first duty really is to their shareholders. Apple happen to have been providing great shareholder value by among other things providing great products and making customers happy. I'd hate to see them screw with that, but they could *if* it made business sense. It does occur to me though that given the degree of love their userbase has for them, they stand to lose badly by messing too much with that userbase. They won't push it too hard for that reason alone, I reckon.
Sadly not all corporations do it that way, which is why when I call my cable provider to report a problem I have to descend through the seven levels of hell that is their voice response system, then listen to excruciatingly bad muzak for 45 minutes or more until I can have a rep who barely speaks English walk through a checklist of really obvious crap I already tried in the vain hope I could avoid having to call in the first place. But it costs them less to do it that way, thereby increasing shareholder value. After a few times through that experience you get a good sense of how much duty a corporation really has to you as a customer...
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pick your garden now while you can still see the alternatives...
"Indeed I'm not a paid apple rep. Are the anons shouting wolf Microsoft employees? Probably not, but since we're playing conspiracies today, lets pretend they are."
My point was that the only opinion I'm willing to accept as canon on this would be that of someone at Apple who knows the long-term roadmap, who is speaking off the record and actually being truthful.
You can guess how likely *that* is to happen. :)
If they do this right and don't do what the "fearmongers" and "conspiracy theorists" believe they will (that is, lock it all down in draconian fashion, piece by piece, until they are the sole arbiters of what may be developed for their OS based on whatever rules they make up as they go along), it would be a good thing, overall.
Just keep in mind that Apple's first duty is to Apple (or more specifically, their shareholders). If there's a good business case for locking OSX down a-la the mobile devices and they believe it can be done without causing too much push-back from users and developers, you'd better believe they've at least *considered* the possibility.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pick your garden now while you can still see the alternatives...
"Really all this conspiracy theory nonsense is just making you all look silly."
As silly as it would make me look, I really hope you're right.
But somehow, I don't think you're a paid Apple representative with an inside track on their future plans...
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- OHM MY GOD! Move over graphene, here comes '100% PERFECT' stanene