* Posts by Martin an gof

291 posts • joined 27 Jan 2010

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In-flight movies via BYOD? Just what I always wan... argh no we’re all going to die!

Martin an gof
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Happy

Re: "All they have to do is ensure the Wi-Fi is secure enough to stop Reg readers from...........

Actually, I didn't think Red Dwarf X was too bad, and my boys, who were introduced to RD when they were perhaps 10 and 12, quite enjoyed it, though I think their favourite episodes all come from series II to V, with the notable exception of the "Rimmer Experience" scene from - erm - series VII?

Put it this way, we are all looking forward to series XI and XII :-)

M.

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Surface Book nightmare: Microsoft won't fix 'Sleep of Death' bug

Martin an gof
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Re: Still copying Apple

Wary of this turning into a Monty Python sketch but...

...my 85 year-old dad, who had never so much as picked up a (computer) mouse in his life, was so motivated by FlightRadar24 (he's a bit of a planespotter) that on his birthday this year he started learning. He has a wireless keyboard with touchpad (which isn't the easiest of things to use) and a computer running OpenSuse connected to his TV which by default loads up with Firefox full screen, homepage set to FR24. Every now and then I go over for a coffee and introduce him to something new - tap-to-drag or pinch-to-zoom or the BBC News website or the fact that it's networked to the printer upstairs* so he can print pictures of aeroplanes off. Maybe email next?

Old dogs can learn new tricks.

M.

*Mum's a couple of years younger and has had computers since the 1990s, starting with an Acorn A3010 and graduating onto a PPC Mac with OS9, then a MacMini with OSX, then another. Tired of Apple abandoning OSX I'll probably shift her to OpenSuse too in a couple of years when the MacMini needs replacing.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy

In around 3 years of using MacBooks I can only recall one time the MacBook hasn't resumed successfully.

Do MacBooks tend to sleep or hibernate on lid close?

I have to say that I have had problems with OSX devices, both losing monitor configurations (e.g. "forgetting" that there's an external monitor attached, or re-setting resolutions, commonly defaulting to 800x600) and losing WiFi. Getting WiFi back usually just involves turning WiFi "off", waiting a bit, then turning it back on again (and re-registering if it's a public network). Getting an external monitor back often requires a log-out, log-in or even a reboot.

What I have not had with a MacBook is a machine that won't wake up at all.

Perhaps it's this "it works fine for me so there can't really be a problem" attitude that is afflicting Microsoft. Perhaps with the sheer volume of complaints they will now acknowledge that something needs to be done.

MS will lose Surface customers to Apple

Maybe, when Apple catches up with the form-factor, and iPads can run Outlook and Office ;-)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Sleep is used by many!

Before I start, I am not a Microsoft apologist and I only use Windows because I have to at work. I have never had a Windows machine at home, and even at work my main "work" machine dual-boots Windows and OpenSuse. However...

Sleep and Hibernate have always been iffy (also @Zoot)

While sleep really, really should work on a $3,000 laptop, and it really, really doesn't seem to be a problem on anywhere near this scale on other hardware, you are both correct. Sleep has never been 100% reliable, ever. Hibernate has been better, but I've had problems with both on scores of machines with dozens of different configurations from oodles of different vendors (including many self-built) using chipsets from Intel, AMD and others and motherboards (for this may actually be a BIOS issue?) from goodness knows how many manufacturers.

Guess what, it can also be a problem on the Linuxes I use (Mint, OpenSuse*) and on OSX and (possibly) iOS, as well as Windows (not a user of 10 or 8, but I have had problems on both 7 and XP - before XP came along, sleep and hibernate were simply not worth using at all). I have even had what I can only describe as a sleep-related problem on my Android phone where just occasionally if it has been to "sleep" for a very long time, it reboots when you try to wake it up.

Putting a device to "sleep" (whatever that really means) will often cause it to forget network connections, particularly WiFi (requiring a disable, re-enable of the adapter), sometimes cause it to forget display configurations, occasionally cause desktop or application crashes and I've recently even seen it disable Wake on LAN functions (though to be fair, this latter problem also manifests on a "proper" shutdown, and the computers in question shouldn't ever enter sleep anyway).

So, Zoot, I feel for your downvotes and I accept I'll probably get a few myself.

But to go back to the start. While this is a long-standing occasional problem almost everywhere, it should not be something that happens almost every time! Someone at Microsoft needs to find out what is happening and sort it, or if they find it's a hardware issue that can't be mitigated in software they need to give Intel a kick up the backside and issue a recall / replacement / repair notice.

M.

*Both my OpenSuse machines desktop machines will "crash" in quite significant ways if you try to put them to sleep, but both come back from hibernate pretty well. The OpenSuse laptop has issues with startup and shutdown (it can sometimes take 2 or 3 minutes to shutdown), but sleep seems to work ok.

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Citrix bakes up Raspberry Pi client boxes

Martin an gof
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I suspect both options are not quite ready for mainstream yet to run as dual large screen. And may be a drain on resources making other stuff slow

As both options use the GPU they do not stress the processor, but they do increase contention for the shared memory, so this may well slow things down. Quite how much, I couldn't tell you as I've never tried it.

While the DSI option is relatively new, the VGA adapter has been around for some time so if you are interested you can probably find quite a lot of discussion online. In fact the articles I linked above would be a good place to start.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: > "The Pi has HDMI and composite video outputs but they are exclusive"

AFAIK this is so for Pi 3

Just to clarify, before Pi 2 there was a 3.5mm stereo tip-ring-sleve (TRS) jack for audio, and a separate RCA, "phono" socket for composite video. The Pi 2 dropped the phono and moved the composite video to the additional ring of a tip-ring-ring-sleeve (TRRS) jack which also carries the stereo audio. This is a standard connector as found in many other devices. Yes, the same connector is used on the Pi 3.

M.

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Martin an gof
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HDMI and composite will output the same image, but you wouldn't want composite for a computer monitor if you could possibly avoid it anyway. The Pi has other options for attaching additional displays. I believe that two-screen output using the GPU for both screens is possible using either one of these or one of these so if it were a make-or-break feature for a small network client, it wouldn't be beyond a company like Citrix to make it work.

M.

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The ‘Vaping Crackdown’ starts today. This is what you need to know

Martin an gof
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Re: About time

I'm tired of seeing vapers flaunt their filthy addiction in public. It's a disgusting habit as is smoking.

While I don't agree with your tone of voice, I'm sympathetic to the sentiment. I rejoiced when smoking in a public place was banned, and I'd quite like to see the same happen to vaping, and yes, I do understand that it is "not as harmful as" smoking. If a smoker can transfer to e-cigs and gradually wean themselves off the addiction, that can only be a good thing.

However, if anything, vaping in a public place is more antisocial than smoking because the cloud seems to hang around longer and vapers have no qualms about blowing the stuff in the face of every passer-by. And with the sheer variety of "flavours" around, the mix of smells can be quite nasty.

Living in Wales, I might get my wish.

And don't get me started on people vaping or smoking while driving (should there be a hands-free law?), with the window down, in slow moving traffic, right in front of or beside my car. The number of times I've had to close the windows and turn on the re-circ.

At least vapers don't chuck their butts out of the window. More than once I've had one of those, still lit with half an inch of tobacco left, lodge itself under some part of my bonnet and cause noxious fumes to enter the air intake.

M.

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Nokia offers up 10 Gbps HFC demo

Martin an gof
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Re: "Symmetrical"

Backing up your SMB's files to a cloud provider

I have often wondered how "cloud backup" was viable for SMBs, or even domestic users with a lot of media to protect, simply from the point of view of time to upload (though assuming incrementals this is less of a problem than it might be), and then time to download the whole lot in the case of an emergency full restore.

At home I have ADSL2+ with sync speeds around 8Mb/s down, 1Mb/s up (not bad for a distant semi-rural exchange, though throughput is less) and at the moment just over 1TB of data that's worth saving. Saving that to a remote server would be rather slow.

It does begin to become viable at network speeds of 50Mbit/s and over, I suppose. In the UK even the much-maligned BT offers "up to" 76 / 19 for £40 per month on its "business Infinity" product (a fibre-to-the-cabinet product). Similar packages are available from third parties, for example The Phone Co-Op, which is a reseller.

M.

(linked to TPC not because I'm a customer - though I am - but because the website is much "cleaner" than the BT one)

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Label your cables: A cautionary tale from the server room

Martin an gof
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Re: It was Working Yesterday.....

1. Of Course it was working yesterday, otherwise you would have called me yesterday - you moron.

Really? It was already "broken" ... since a week or two, but...

Not just computers. I used to work at a radio station and once got a call about 10pm from the guy whose show was just starting, "half the desk isn't working". He flat refused to transfer to another studio, so I had to go in and try to fix it "live".

Turned out that the twit on air before him had tipped half a pint of cider in the desk, but had soldiered-on rather than calling me out when it happened. Yes, there was a very strict no-food-or-drink policy, yes, it was that person's last live show before leaving.

As it happened, that was the very newest desk in the station and the control surface was just a control surface - a pot, a couple of switches, a fader and a connector. No electronics. All the electronics were in a rack, well away from the cider, which had flowed through the faders and switches, out of the drain holes and all over the "talent"'s trousers.

Conductive plastic faders wash very well under the tap, and I only had to replace a few wipers.

Back on topic, labelling was paramount at the radio station, helped by the copious use of multicore cables that were numbered and coloured as manufactured. I have brought that culture of labelling with me and I rarely travel anywhere without a marker pen :-)

M.

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Spaniard live streams 195km/h burn-up

Martin an gof
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Re: I found...

are you going to stop mate? Are you? Press your brakes! Don't hit me after I've just avoided the accident in front of me!

Doesn't even have to be that. I was stopped at traffic lights on a 40mph road. Handbrake on, about a car length gap to the car in front - maybe a bit more. Bog standard safe. Two kids in the back.

Car behind was stopped.

Car behind that was stopped.

Car behind that, didn't.

Last car hit the next car, hit the next car, hit me. My car went forward by about a foot, no more. The two cars in the middle had been stopped, too close together and with handbrake off. I don't think the lady at the back had been speeding, but she certainly wasn't concentrating, and as for the two dolts in the middle...

M.

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Microsoft: Why we tore handy Store block out of Windows 10 Pro PCs

Martin an gof
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Re: You now see where the revenue stream is

I've called them Apps ever since using Risc OS in the early 90s.

They weren't "Apps", they were "Applications". Altogether more sensible and substantial :-)

We've just had an interesting discussion on the Living With Technology mailing list about the semantic and practical differences between "programs", "applications" and "apps". It probably depends on your own background what each word means to you.

M.

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Intel loses its ARM wrestling match, kicks out Atom mobe chips

Martin an gof
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Is it the 1970s again?

Intel sees growth in making computer memories,

It's always worth getting back to your roots. Not exactly high margin though, is it?

M.

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Tokyo rebrands 2020 Olympics

Martin an gof
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Re: The whalesong is deafening where I work...

Try sending it a white page

Funnily enough, that's almost what I'm doing to a different screen which doesn't have quite such bad burn-in problems - problems which were caused by showing bright images on a black background; it's possible to see where the edges were as a difference in colour rendition / brightness.

It has now been showing pictures on a white background for about three months, and it's not really a lot better. This set of images has a while to go then it'll be something else, at which point we'll see for sure what it's like.

On a similar-sounding subject, no it isn't possible to "kick" dead/stuck DLP pixels back into action by sending cleverly-crafted images or sequences. I've tried.

:-)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Old Logo

The thing is that while I can see the "T" and the "L" being relevant to the theatre, I'm not sure what the "L" part means in the context of the Olympics in Tokyo. It certainly doesn't say "Olympics" to me. That's what the interlocking circles are for, as someone up there ^ somewhere has already pointed out.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: The whalesong is deafening where I work...

Personally I'd just love the channels to have discrete, unobtrusive and above all static brand logos in the corner (if they must have them at all).

While I completely and utterly agree with your comment (though personally I'd rather they were banned altogether, or at least banished except for the first 30 seconds of a programme), I offer you the thought, "screen burn". LCD screens may not suffer to the same extent that plasmas did (do*) but they do still suffer, and an animated logo stands slightly less chance of completely wrecking your screen as does a static one, though anything vaguely static (the animations are generally very short and confined to the same corner of the screen) will eventually cause differential ageing. I believe the jury is still out on screen burn and OLED TVs, but my money is on them being closer to plasma than LCD.

Oh, and if BBC1 and BBC2 and ITV can manage to broadcast without DOGs, why do BBC4 and CBBC and ITV2, 3, 4 need them? As someone else pointed out, crumbs, if I've forgotten which channel I'm on and can't wait for an ad break to find out, my remote has an "info" button that instantly puts that information on screen in such a way that I can instantly get rid of it too. It also has a button that (almost) instantly switches the blasted box off.

M.

(*)We have a large plasma screen at work that was used for three months to play a video game. Nearly four years later and having played "normal" video or slideshows for very nearly all of the intervening time, it is still possible to see blurred score digits and character logos in certain parts of the screen.

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BOFH: Thermo-electric funeral

Martin an gof
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Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

magnetic "cards" the size of the old computer punch cards but plastic with a mag coating on

What, Language Master? Can't say I've ever seen these used for computers, but I don't see why they shouldn't be.

Which calculator was it that used teeny versions of these for program storage?

An HP 65?

M.

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Hands up, who prayed for AMD? Well, it worked

Martin an gof
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I have just built an Athlon-based computer for my dad (4 core 2GHz) for around £250 all-in (except monitor). Having had that fun, I wondered how cheaply I could build a "usable" computer, and came up with a workable (where "workable" means not frustratingly slow for common tasks) AMD solution for just over £100 (inc. VAT), or a "one up from the bottom" solution for just under £150. This was all from one supplier and I'm sure if I shopped around a bit I could get a solid workable machine put together for under £100 (those systems excluded keyboard & mouse). One big saving was the case - I found one case with PSU included for £18.

All of which is very interesting if you consider that a usable Raspberry Pi solution is going to be somewhere around £60 by the time you've bought a case, power supply and SD card, and more if you need to add an external HDD for storage.

The other interesting thing was that as I didn't need oodles of storage, all three x86 systems featured SSDs rather than HDDs.

Then I looked at doing the same thing with Intel, and it is possible. There is a difference in cost of motherboards, with the cheapest Intel boards being about £10 more than the cheapest AMD.

The CPU is the other variable. The cheapest system pitched a 1.45GHz dual-core Sempron for £22 against a 2.7GHz dual-core Celeron for £28 and, unsurprisingly, cpubenchmark.net reckons that the latter is about three times as fast as the former and has twice the TDP (55W Intel, 25W AMD).

The £150 system pitched a 2GHz four-core Sempron for £32 against a 2.8GHz dual-core Celeron for £36 and this time CPU performance is much closer. I'm ignoring the inbuilt graphics here as I suspect both will be fine for desktop use, the AMD may be fractionally more efficient for HD video and games aren't in question. I'm also ignoring "integrated CPU" solutions.

So my conclusion was that you can build a cheap Intel system. The very cheapest Intel systems will probably be £20 or so more than the very cheapest AMD systems (which on a £100 computer is 20%!) but will have more powerful processors. If you up-spec the AMD systems to match computing performance the price difference almost disappears.

M.

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BOFH: If you liked it then you should've put the internet in it

Martin an gof
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the 'off' button on any video projectors in the building

Many projectors these days - if networked - respond to PJLink (PDF). Unless your admin has been particularly careful and enabled the security feature, this very simple protocol can be extremely useful. Of course, many projectors also have web interfaces, but these are often clunky and buggy and best avoided, and the less said about proprietary systems such as Crestron RoomView, the better.

I speak here as someone looking after a fleet of 30-ish mainly Panasonic projectors that are all started and stopped automatically each day.

M.

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Microsoft drives an Edge between Adobe and the web: Flash ads blocked

Martin an gof
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Re: BBC

Two things really - really - annoy me about the BBC News website:

1: the "breaking news" pop-up that can't be prevented from popping up at the foot of every tab that happens to be open

2: the "autoplay next video" feature that can't be permanently disabled

M.

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Field technicians want to grab my tool and probe my things

Martin an gof
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Re: Printer ink

have you seen the price of that ink?

They are not really printers designed for domestic use, though I do have one at home ;-)

The ink is entirely comparable, print-per-print, with domestic inkjet and laser toner prices, though the latter have come down quite a lot in the last few years. Doesn't mean it's not stupidly expensive, but it is no more stupidly expensive than the other options.

Yes, the ink has to be kept warm even in standby. It's a lot more than the <1W standby of a typical inkjet, but it's not a huge, vast figure on my model. I did measure it once, can't remember the figure offhand, but IIRC it averaged something under 50W, though this was very "spiky".

M.

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Martin an gof
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Printer ink

I’ve always hated the way printers force me to replace toner and ink cartridges that aren’t quite depleted

I'll just put a word in here for the Xerox solid ink Phaser printers. They do have their own downsides, but the little wax crayons come in tiny plastic yoghurt pots and can be added any time, even in the middle of a print run.

Solid Ink

M.

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Brits rattle tin for 'revolutionary' hydrogen-powered car

Martin an gof
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Re: Scam

Yet another magic car scam being foistered on the taxpayer and public

What no-one seems to have pointed out, neither to this article nor to the previous one (nor indeed to the politicians involved in helping) is that this company has been pushing this car for quite some time. As for being "Wales-based", they are probably only here because they managed to get some kind of grant to move from Ludlow, where they were just as enthusiastic about the project seven years ago, then again six years ago, then announcing their first order, which was probably cancelled because soon afterwards they announced a trial.

The move to Wales happened almost a year ago, oiled with a £3.5m grant.

A mate of mine works for a company that designs and builds the sort of in-wheel motors this car is said to use. The motors bring almost as many problems (unsprung mass) as they solve (fewer transmission components) and he wasn't actually aware of Riversimple when I asked him about the project back in February.

Don't get me wrong; I think fuel-cells are a great idea, and the thing about marrying them to supercapacitors seems to solve the fixed-power-output problem, but other - more established manufacturers are already looking at the technology, with much pore practical and pretty designs. James May drove one, as did Vicki Butlet-Henderson.

If you want something really weird from Wales, how about the Mouse Car which once achieved over 500mpg from a Diesel engine. It's on show at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea.

M.

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Apple Fools: Times the House of Jobs went horribly awry

Martin an gof
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I still miss !Pluto for email

Always been a Messenger shop, mine. In fact I have the server version, which serves email to all the other computers in the house... though Claws (the preferred client on Raspbian) doesn't talk nicely to Messenger, and while Thunderbird worked fine on the other Linux machine (I now use Kmail), on the Mac it sometimes fails to open mails with attachments.

That said, a 200MHz StongARM with 80MB RAM isn't the world's fastest email server, and it does find it difficult to cope with larger email attachments, so my next step is probably going to be migrating the function either to another Pi, or possibly to a jail on my FreeNAS box.

Never let it be said that I'm an impulsive sort ;-)

M.

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Martin an gof
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Way to go Acorn, we miss ya!

My RiscPC is still in daily use, albeit almost exclusively for email and the occasional use of Impression. I'm about to start looking seriously at RiscOS on the Pi, too, for various reasons...

By the way, have you all seen this post by ARM? The image at the bottom of the page is rather beautiful.

M.

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Which keys should I press to enable the CockUp feature?

Martin an gof
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Re: Optical mouse mat

At my polytechnic they used to keep the optical mouse mats locked away in a cupboard because they were pretty reasonable mats for ordinary mice too and used to go missing(*). These were on (IIRC) bog standard '286 machines running some kind of CAD software though, not Sun workstations, and the mice would not work without the mats.

The Poly as a whole was VAX / VT220 with a very small number of Apollo workstations for the graphics stuff. From memory the engineering department had one room of original PCs (8086) for general use, one room of XTs for teaching, the aforementioned room of 286es (all running DOS) and all other work was expected to be done on the flock of VAXen via the terminals and printed out on the line printer. Special forms had to be signed in order to use the laser printer...

M.

(*)Not guilty. At the time I was running RiscOS at home on an Archimedes, which was light years ahead of the PCs in the usability stakes. Around that time I also bought my own laser printer. My traditional mouse ran very nicely on a 3M "precise mousing surface" mat which seemed to have a surface made from teeny translucent pyramids, meaning that not only was it quite "grippy" on the ball, but it tended to clean the ball as you worked. Every now and then a quick wipe-down of the surface ensured continued pleasant mousing.

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When Steve Jobs was away, Apple's designers snuck out a penis-shaped remote control

Martin an gof
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Re: One of the things that doomed Kodak..

I'll give you Disc and APS (though the latter wasn't exclusively Kodak I believe?) but PhotoCD certainly filled a niche. Disc was an abomination but APS might have had a chance if it had been invented ten years earlier.

As for PhotoCD, at a time when digital publishing was beginning to be within reach of the many rather than the few, digital cameras didn't really exist and film scanners were somewhat expensive, getting photos at a half decent quality in a digital format was tricky for those on a low-ish budget.

At (IIRC) something like £5 for the disc and 40p per frame, PhotoCD returned your positives or negatives within a fortnight, professionally cleaned and scanned at a range of resolutions perfectly suited to desktop publishing (top end was 6Mpix?). Each disc held around 100 images (99?) and was "multisession" so you could add to it over time. Yes, CD drives in computers were still fairly expensive, but they had additional uses that made them a good investment and very quickly dropped in price. Overall for small run magazines, self-employed designers etc., PhotoCD worked well.

An additional benefit was the ability to have over 600MB of digital images available "on the shelf" and not taking up space on your HDD (or Zip / SyQuest / whatever) at a time when gigabyte capacity HDDs were only just beginning to become affordable.

I had two PhotoCDs myself and their images (ImageMagick will read them) still compare very favourably to those from my digital SLR (my 35mm camera was an Olympus OM1n). They compare even better with my self-scanned images, probably mainly due to the way the lab was able to prepare the originals before scanning.

I have only two PhotoCDs because processing labs started offering to scan films as they were processed for only £1 or £2 extra. I used the Jessops service mainly, but the scans were only (again, IIRC) 3 or 4Mpix and JPEG compressed. Perfectly sufficient for my then and subsequent uses, but probably wouldn't have suited more professional users. I never tried the Kodak PhotoDisk system - a whole film of images on a single floppy disc.

And that was the end of PhotoCD. It was good while it lasted, but it only lasted a few years, technology moved on and Kodak didn't keep up. I held out for a while, continuing to use film, but eventually bought my digital SLR in 2009.

Back in 1996 / 1997 I created a website using those images from PhotoCD. The thing was hand-crafted on an Acorn RiscPC using Acorn's PhotoCD reading software, Creator, Translator or ChangeFSI to produce JPEGs and Edit or StrongEd for the HTML. It was hosted by Demon, and disappeared when I moved ISPs, but the Wayback Machine managed to grab a copy:

Please don't laugh!

M.

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Elon Musk takes wraps off planet-saving Model 3 vapourmobile

Martin an gof
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Re: @Martin

I could (at non-trivial cost) get a dedicated 16A socket installed at home

Speaking as a former self-employed domestic electrician, it shouldn't cost a vast amount of money to install a 16A "commando" style socket. I believe these cars don't need any intelligence in the socket, so a bog standard socket with switch should do. Just about every domestic installation in the UK and probably Europe (not making any assumption about your location) should have capacity for an additional 16A circuit without any problem. In the UK (I really don't know about Europe) most installations should have capacity for an additional 32A circuit.

You know, this sort or this sort of socket.

On the subject of the UK, our "3 pin" sockets are rated 13A, not 10A and can therefore supply around 3kW without problem.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Gotta start somewhere

I saw a guy at our local recycling dump taking bottles out of the 'bonnet' of a funny looking Jag, I realised it was a Tesla S

We have seen a couple of Teslas at the charging point we host at my place of work. We see more Leafs, to be fair, but a good point was made early on in this discussion; leaving aside "range extended" cars, Tesla is the only company that is offering a 200+ mile (quoted) range, and I think it is this that will be the turning point. Once a car is in the £20,000-ish bracket, it starts to become affordable for many people, but when the quoted range is a mere 100 miles (I think the Leaf is 120 miles at the moment?*), "range anxiety" becomes a big issue, as does the fact that you simply can't take such a car on holiday.

My daily commute is a round trip of about 90 miles, and I know people who travel much further. No, it is not viable by rail nor bus. A "120 mile" car seems to have a real-world range of perhaps as low as half that, on the motorway in the winter with the lights on, the wipers on and the heaters demisting. Yes, it would probably get me to work, but as we only have two charging points I couldn't guarantee being able to charge up before coming home. A "200 mile" car would probably do the trick.

200 miles would also allow me to travel to visit family 150 miles away in one hop. With a 120-mile car the options are:

  • start very early in the morning and allow a minimum 4-hour stop for recharging
  • travel half way then stay somewhere overnight to recharge (hotel prices)
  • use a hire car (kinda defeats the object)
  • keep a second car(**)

M.

(*)Just looked it up, 120 miles with the standard battery, 155 miles with an optional bigger battery. Doesn't change my conclusions significantly though. Oh, and the 4-hour wait is to charge the standard battery using the optional "fast" charger. The standard charger takes twice as long.

(**)Actually we are a two-car household already, but they are two small cars and when we travel as a family we have to take both cars; we worked out quite early on that it wasn't actually much more expensive to take two small cars than one larger car, and for the 95% of the time when we don't need all those seats in one car, the larger car was a waste. So if I were to buy a 120-mile EV, we would also have to swap out the second, small, hydrocarbon-powered car for a bigger one.

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Martin an gof
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Gridwatch

in the UK, you are using about 8% coal, 20% nuclear, 45% gas and 10% wind and then a combination of Pumped storage, hydro, biomass, solar and some imported electricity

Just in case people here haven't met it:

Gridwatch.

M.

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Web ads are reading my keystrokes and I can’t even spel propperlie

Martin an gof
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Re: Amazon

do they have a "If you see it advertised anywhere for less, we'll refund the difference" policy

Not sure about Amazon, but Richer Sounds does, and they do price match with themselves, as I proved a few months ago buying an amp and speakers, kicking myself when RS was doing them cheaper a week later, sending what I thought was a cheeky email and getting a cheque almost by return of post.

M.

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Nest: It's no longer all about you. Now it can recognize your kids, too

Martin an gof
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Re: What is the obsession

Using the local control the house would be cold when I got home and take several hours to properly warm through

Ok, perhaps not a clockwork timer but the electronic ones (£20 upwards) all have "holiday" settings and "setback" temperatures. I bet even your lifestyle is more predictable than you imply - when you are going to be away for a few days you probably know which day you will be back. As you are collecting your things together you hit the "holiday" button for 2, 3, 4 (or whatever) days and the thing goes to "setback" and ignores the usual schedule for the period specified.

Otherwise, just keep your jumper on for an hour. Saves even more gas.

If working from home, toddle up to the unit and push the temperature up for a bit (the unit I linked can over-ride either until the next programmed time, for a specified length of time or indefinitely). We have our timer set as if we were out at work all day but there's often one of us at home due to working part-time. I can remember maybe two or three occasions since 2016 started when I've felt the need to add heat during the day. Once the sun's up the house very rarely gets below 16 or 17C and I don't tend to be sat, freezing, at the computer; if I'm home I'm usually running about doing "things". I also own jumpers.

Setback temperatures are great, but you probably know that. Much better than pure "off", you can set them as you see fit and they won't let the house get below the set temperature during the "off" period. This helps avoid freezing pipes if your house is prone to that sort of thing. When I lived on my own I had it set to 12C and the heating only ever came on on the very coldest nights - and this in a very badly built 1980s ex-council house. Nowadays the setback is set to 16C and makes a difference on some freezing nights in our not-quite-as-badly-built-and-soon-to-be-demolished 1960s house.

Look, I'm no luddite and I do like the occasional gadget, but I really, really don't see how most of this stuff is going to make our lives better in the short term nor even, really, in the long term given the likelihood of obsolescence by being abandoned. A cheap programmable 'stat could easily last 20 years or more and costs a set of AAs to run every couple of years. I would bet good money that in 20 years the Nest or Hive that is bought today will have long since had to have been "upgraded".

M.

5
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Solus: A welcome ground-up break from the Linux herd

Martin an gof
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Re: Just what the world needed...

wise up and look at the sprawling mess that is Linux desktop distros through the eyes of business and "non-hobbyist" users

Disclosure - there isn't a single Windows-based machine at home. We have OSX, OpenSuse, Mint, Raspbian, FreeBSD (ok, well FreeNAS) and even RiscOS...

...but for some reason, the aparent "fragmentation" of Linux doesn't half remind me of the holy grail of computing 30-odd years ago, the MSX system.

Nothing really to be frightened of, but yer "average user" is scared witless by the apparent anarchy and retreats to something much more controlled.

M.

1
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Knackered Euro server turns Panasonic smart TVs into dumb TVs

Martin an gof
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tell everyone to get a dumb tv and a smart box.

Good advice, but as others have pointed out this is becoming more and more difficult. I would have done so myself but for two things:

1: dumb TVs (or computer monitors) tend to be smaller than soon-to-be-dumb TVs, which isn't necessarily a problem unless you are looking for something over 40"

2: I have children who have a number of 3D films in their collection. I could not find a dumb TV anywhere that was capable of 3D.

So I have a smart TV, and I can't honestly say I've ever used the smart functions. I have a satellite box that's now around seven years old, a BluRay player that I have never used the smart functions on, a nice AV amplifier that I have never used the smart functions on and even a venerable Laserdisc player.

It looks like the sat box might be the next thing needing replacing as the one "smart" thing that we do use occasionally is BBC iPlayer and apparently the BBC is about to drop support for the version accessible by this box. The box, although made by a well-regarded and currently trading manufacturer, hasn't had a software update for about five years and I have no confidence at all that it will have an update for iPlayer. Or I could just stick a bigger HDD in it and be more careful about not missing recording a programme.

Ho hum.

My children aren't glued to the TV either, they are more than capable of running around outside or digging out the Cluedo or Monopoly if for some reason the school hasn't sent three hours of homework home tonight.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Re: Panasonic: Sony's younger idiot brother

Panasonic got added to my 'Sony' list, and there they remain.

And yet Panasonic is a gigantic company and you really can't tar the whole thing with the same brush. I use Panasonic projectors almost exclusively at work because they are far and away the best things I've seen. Yes, some of the newer ones are getting "smarter" (in the sense that they can do HDMI over ethernet, split screen and the like) but they also - even the flashiest models - talk "PJLINK", which is a very simple network-carried control protocol, and have real, geniune serial ports if your control system prefers.

Not cheap compared with some, but well worth the money. At least, the "fixed installation" range that I buy from. Can't say anything about the "home / portable" range...

M.

0
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Clive Sinclair Vega+ tin-rattle hits £300,000

Martin an gof
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Mine (a tesco cheapie about 10 years old) doesn't.

On the other hand, scart includes a composite port

I count SCART. The SCART minimal specification requires a composite and audio input, so if you have SCART then the TV has composite, whether or not it also has a little RCA (phono) socket too.

To re-iterate then, I can't honestly say I've yet seen a telly for sale without a composite input.

M.

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Martin an gof
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Composite (and SCART) is getting harder to find on TV's these days.

SCART I'll grant you - at the cheaper end of the spectrum (no pun intended) anyway, but I can't honestly say I've yet seen a telly for sale without a composite input. Monitors, yes, plenty, but not tellies.

I suppose it depends how this thing works internally. If it physically recreates the video circuitry of the Spectrum (for ultimate compatibility), then maybe it has to output composite. Composite to HDMI conversion would be a large part of the cost of the device for no benefit at all.

If on the other hand it is entirely emulation, then outputting to HDMI may not be so expensive, depending on the chip used.

M.

5
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Everything bad in the world can be traced to crap Wi-Fi

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: WiFi

My students all have Apple MBA and if they don't reboot their laptops when they come into the building then they get no internet connection

I have found that rather than rebooting, it's often enough with Apple kit to disable WiFi, wait 10 or 20 seconds and then re-enable it.

The one thing I have not been able to do reliably on Apple kit without rebooting is add an external monitor / projector. Very occasionally it "just works" but more often than not the computer needs a reboot before it'll even consider that there just might be something attached to its external monitor port, whatever flavour that is, and Apple does seem to have more flavours than anyone else.

M.

0
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Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: On the one hand...

assuming that all the kit works without having even a teeny run through

We often have external groups using our rooms, and despite a standard form that goes out with the booking saying things like "we can check your presentation if you send it a week in advance", "if your presentation relies on streaming video or a live website, send us the URL so we can make sure the WiFi passes it", "if you are bringing a Mac or an iPad please bring your own VGA adapter because we do not carry one of every variant", "presentations which rely on embedded video rarely work properly when transferred to one of our laptops so either send it in advance or bring your own laptop on which you have tested the video", "please remember to bring your mains adapter" etc. etc. despite all that, I'd say that probably a third to a half of all groups that use our rooms have problems of one sort or another which are very rarely anything to do with our systems, but of course we usually get the initial blame.

Until I or a colleague pops into the room, presses alt-f5 or plugs the lead in or whatever ;-)

As for the flaky WiFi itself, one of our biggest problems is iOS which often pops up a separate window with the "tick here to agree with the Ts&Cs" box, but this window is hidden by the browser the user wants to use and which is sitting there saying "no connection" because the gateway won't allow traffic until the box is ticked. OSX does a similar thing but it's usually more obvious. OSX also sometimes needs WiFi turning off and then on again before it will actually connect, even though it's sitting ten feet away from the AP, getting a full-strength signal and the thing shows at the top of the list of networks.

M.

27
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Raspberry Pi 3: Four days old and already flying

Martin an gof
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Re: hot water

I would agree - if you could force other commentards who obviously have affiliations they are not disclosing and related agendas they push to do the same. Can't be done, and if attempted would quickly turn into a bit of a mess.

James has never made a secret of his affiliations, and he has been a prolific poster for a very long time. He is one of that select band who actually posts under his real name, the same name he uses for posting in other places.

Granted some people are new in these parts and may not have come across him before, but it takes half a second to click and review his posting history.

I quite enjoy it when he starts "correcting" someone ;-)

M.

4
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Martin an gof
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Re: Sony "building nothing but Pi 3"

Arguably worse than the lie is the fact that they introduced a product knowing full well that they had no intentions of meeting demand for it

I don't think the RPF had any intention of lying about anything. They did try to anticipate demand for the Zero, but they had problems both with time and scaling production.

Eben gave a recorded interview (sorry I've no time to look for it now, but it's linked-to in the comments to one of their launch announcements on Monday) in which he said, if I remember correctly, that one of the reasons they weren't able to produce Zeros as quickly as they originally intended was that "a major manufacturer" of one of the components (he refused to say who or which component, but my impression was that it was something big like the memory - he did specifically say it was not Broadcom) were utterly incompetent and didn't supply what they had promised. In fact he got quite heated about it, while still refusing to name the company.

M.

2
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Mathletics promises security upgrades after parents' security gripes

Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Obligatory?

it seems like standard (and accepted) practice in the Education Software industry to produce sub-standard software, charge huge amounts for it, then provide poor support and development to the schools going forward

Whatever happened to the people that brought us the likes of Granny's Garden and the wonderful Podd?

Oh, goodness. Granny's Garden is still available!

M.

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Martin an gof
Bronze badge
Childcatcher

Re: Obligatory?

That would be an interesting argument if school says a child is obliged to use a site for homework that has flash.

It's not just the installation of Flash, it's the constant updating of it, with browsers "blocking" an out of date version (which the children can't update) and with one site our school uses the fact that between last year and this year the site has had an "upgrade" and now won't run reliably on our OSX 10.6 machine even if I have updated Flash.

I hate homework at the best of times, much of it seems to be "make-work" and often puts the children off a subject. This sort of automated (effectively) drill-and-practice stuff is just a low-maintenance way for the teacher to have some nice graphs at the end of the month to show how the children have "progressed".

Hurumph.

M.

1
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Institute of Directors: Make broadband speeds 1000x faster than today's puny 2020 target

Martin an gof
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Meh

10Gb to the home?

Forget getting it to the premises, is there actually any kit capable of 10Gbps suitable for the home yet? As far as I'm aware even at the cheap end of the market you are talking £200 - £300+ for a switch with a 10Gbps uplink port (and the SFP to fit it) and 1Gbps copper client ports. Netgear's new all-10G switches for SMBs are in the £600+ range. For the home market you need an 8-port switch in the £10 - £20 bracket, and what about 10G network adapters?

Even by 2030 this doesn't make a lot of sense. 1Gb to the premises is a more achievable goal and just as useful - 1Gbps will easily deliver (as a previous commentard noted) multiple (think, dozens of) simultaneous 4k video streams.

But to be honest just 10Mbps really will make a big difference to people if it actually has a reliable 10Mbps throughput and (the key thing) if it is universally available across the country. 100Mbps would be more than enough for most people so long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg.

M.

2
1

Raspberry Pi celebrates fourth birthday with fruity version 3

Martin an gof
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Happy

Re: Still 100MBit Ethernet

browsers eat memory. their biggest weakness. run a browser for 3-4 weeks on a system that is up 24x7 and see how that memory lasts

I'm not denying that, but honestly, how hard is it to restart every now and then on a desktop machine? Keep it on all day, switch off at bedtime - perform updates as necessary - switch it on again in the morning. The Pi 1 could handle half a dozen tabs open on sites like BBC news, Hornby, a1steam, The Register, duckduckgo and still be (just about) usable. The Pi 2 has no problem at all.

Horses for courses, if you need to have 37 tabs open on multiple graphics- and script-heavy websites, a Pi is not the computer you need. Neither is an Atom-based notebook to be honest (I have an EeePC 901 with 2GB RAM) but crumbs, for £30 I can put up with a little bit of being sensible!

It's a flippin' long way up from saving files to cassette tape and AMX Pagemaker (later Stop Press) having to "page" strips of an A4 page to floppy disc every time you scrolled.

<insert usual "kids these days" gripe >

<grin>

M.

14
1
Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Still 100MBit Ethernet

i used till last year an ancient netbook with 1gb as my main system. web browsers need more

An Intel-based netbook running (presumably) some variant of Windows and Internet Explorer is a completely different beast to an ARM-based Pi running a reasonably optimised Linux (Debian - Raspbian) with a lightweight desktop (LXDE) and an efficient web browser.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, a Pi 1 with single-core processor and 512MB RAM was useable for many desktop tasks, and until I upgraded them to a Pi 2 my boys did most of their schoolwork on one. The Pi 2 is so much more usable with its quad-core processor and 1GB of RAM that nowadays they only use the "family" Mac Mini if a: they both need to use the computer at the same time or b: they need to access a website which uses Flash.

Albeit the Mac Mini is an old 32-bit Core Duo model, it often feels like treacle compared to the Pi 2.

I am 75% sure than when we finally have to retire the Mini I'll install a Pi 3 or two instead (maybe there'll be a slightly enhanced next model). The family is already storing most files on the file server rather than locally.

Yes, I do have another computer which is a bit more beefy for those things neither the Pi nor the Mac can handle such as video editing ;-)

M.

11
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Toaster cooks network and burns 'expert' user's credibility to a crisp

Martin an gof
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Re: We frequently used to get people plugging fan heaters into the "clean power" plugs

cut the plug off, strip the cable ends and poke them into the non-standard socket

Best of luck doing that with the Electrak - go on, take a look at the design and tell me you could do it without some kind of especially-made tool!

I first met these when I worked in local radio. My boss, the engineering director, had specified Electrak for the roadshow truck because previous experience had taught him that while running a PA capable of filling a car park, a mixer, CD players and some lights from a 2.5kVA generator was feasible, also running the kettle that the DJs brought along was asking a bit much.

M.

2
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Raspberry Pi 3 to sport Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE – first photos emerge

Martin an gof
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The March edition of CPC/Farnell Computer World catalogue has a page on Pi 3 with pictures and specs

Blimey, so it does! Thanks for pointing that out - the mag's been sitting on my hall table since this morning.

<fx - kicks self for being so stupid not to look>

M.

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Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: At the risk of 'banging on' again and again...

Likewise. Up until a couple of weeks ago my two secondary-school age boys used a Pi 1 for most general purpose tasks, i.e. mainly Libre Office writing essays, laying out information sheets and (ugh) designing presentations. They were even able to bring Scratch homework home. Web browsing was a little slow and you did have to manage memory a little carefully, but honestly that isn't a problem and it's good to learn a little of that kind of discipline. Printing to our network printer took a little longer than from the "family" computer, but only a little, and except at five-minutes-to-bus in the morning, it was never an issue.

For those tasks (perhaps the use of some school mandated Flash-heavy web site) the Pi couldn't handle well, the family computer filled in.

The Pi 2 the Boys use now still can't use Flash, but everything else is a deal quicker, and the extra memory really helps with web browsing and not having to be quite so careful to close "large" files before starting another.

I'd say the Pi is a viable desktop computer, even if it was never really meant to be that!

M.

5
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Martin an gof
Bronze badge

Re: Missing the point

I can see a market for some slightly more up-market boards with additional functionality. Not instead of the RPi as it stands, but as well. Not as cheap as the Pi itself, but similarly low-cost.

I did think something similar to start with, but the thing with the Pi is the Foundation which, as others have pointed out, has education as its primary goal. If I remember correctly, the spark that set Eben Upton off down the path of creating a cheap, hackable, almost disposable computer was that students were leaving school thinking that "programming" involved the ability to hack a web page together from templates and maybe a bit of manual HTML.

He seems to have succeeded - in no small part due to the community - and as a by-product it's a pretty useful desktop computer as well. Diversifying the product range might dilute the original goal.

Most of the examples you have given would have no bearing on that education goal at all, though they would be extremely interesting to some people. Note how successful the Compute Module seems (not) to have been...

A more useful desktop computer could be created with the addition of SATA (or, yes, M2), more memory, various other bits and bobs, but it really wouldn't add much to the goals of the foundation, especially if it costs £50 or £60 rather than £30 (there may be licensing issues with some of those additions?). I hardly thought twice about replacing the Boys' Pi 1 with a Pi 2 at £30, but at £60 I'd have had to have a good reason to do so.

On the other hand, if the MagPi image recently posted is genuine, it looks like the foundation might have pulled another one out of the hat. The question is whether the supposed Pi 3 replaces the Pi 2 (i.e. at the same price point) or is a "top end" addition to the range. Notice how they've effectively kept the Pi 1 in production - at reduced prices.

M.

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