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* Posts by Dave 126

4136 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

Inside Microsoft's Autopilot: Nadella's secret cloud weapon

Dave 126
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> "the keys to a multi-billion dollar car."

My first thoughts on reading that were of the car that Homer Simpson designed:

http://laughingsquid.com/the-homer-car-a-real-life-version-of-homer-simpsons-dream-car/

(I didn't know some crazy soul had built a real life version of it until I went looking for an image a moment ago! Heck!)

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Think wearables are the next tech boom? Cisco's numbers beg to differ

Dave 126
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Re: Too much smoke

Fair points, and you cover the costs / benefits of wearable tech.

The 'costs' (compromises) of wearable tech are fairly clear: small displays, less scope for user input, limited battery life, aesthetic concerns, size/weight constraints...

The benefits of wearable tech - taking my wristwatch as a model - is that it is always with me (should my phone run out of batteries, or I haven't taken with on the canoe trip / music festival); I can still tell the time. It is more accessible than my phone - which usually requires fumbling in my pocket to retrieve.

An added advantage, which is relevant to our population that is getting both older and fatter, is that wearble tech can be in constant contact with the body... so potentially could be used for monitering the heart rate, blood pressure, or maybe even blood sugar levels (for diabetics). It's worth noting that Sony are getting into healthcare, and Apple might be (they bought a hearing company, but maybe they bought it for IP applicable to phones, I don't know)

A piece of wearble tech has to sit in a niche (if such a niche exists) where the benefits to the user outweigh the costs. A monitoring / data logging device, for example, doesn't require a display (or traditional user input at all), so those two 'costs' can be potentially struck off the list in that context.

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Dave 126
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>In other words, the wearables market is going to be characterised by a small handful of devices with a reasonable per-unit return (like Glass), counterbalanced by a mass of very low-value, low-margin products.

Possibly - many people had experience of early low-end touch-screen phones, and found them annoying to use compared to their previous dumb phone with buttons. I suspect that the early generations of low end 'wearables' might be so compromised as to be unusable.

>Telcos barracked for the smartphone revolution, and helped it happen in the form of handset subsidies. But with the slimmest-of-slim margins available and barely detectable user traffic, there's no reason for them to join the wearable “revolution”.

It depends on what the device does. It's not completely implausible that health insurance companies might take the place of the Telcos by subsidising heart rate loggers, for example. Of course, the economics of such a scheme means it would only applicable to a smaller market than that for smartphones.

There is small trend for people buying their smartphones outright- in part because a £300 Nexus 5 offers much the same performance and features as a £600 flagship phone from last year. This offers the user flexibility in their phone tariff, and as a bonus they are covered by the Sales of Goods Act should the unit develop a fault ("Give me a replacement or a full refund right now - don't give me any of your 'two weeks to repair' spiel or I'll report you to Trading Standards")

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STRIPPED DOWN and EXPOSED: Business kit from the good old days

Dave 126
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>So for now at least it appears that after 25 years programming I've not yet been superseded.

Well, at least the density of human neurons hasn't doubled every eighteen months since AndrueC left the fab, and his architects were smart enough not to specify him with EPROMs.

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Dave 126
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Until about ten years ago, a member of my family used an Imperial typewriter, c1930, for typing out invoices on carbon paper. This was eventually replaced by an Epsom dot-matrix printer, under the control of Sage on XP (don't know about their migration plans!) The typewriter looked like this one: http://gallery.nen.gov.uk/assets/0802/0000/0143/ict_equipment16_mid.jpg

Bits of kit I've found in a new workplace: a large data tape machine (not cassette) shoved under the desk of a NHS mailroom.

In another workplace, a box of compact cassettes with Dyno labels, marking them out as containing instructions for a CNC machine.

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How many keys can one keyboard have? Do I hear 200? 300? More?

Dave 126
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>How does it justify a US$90 price tag?

Specialist control surfaces often cost more. The price is determined by the unit cost (a function of quantity sold) and by how much people will pay (which is a function of how much time they think it will save them).

My mouse had an RRP of £90, though I waited a few years to get it for half that in a sale. It's worth it for me.

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Dave 126
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Re: A dedicated keyboard for a single app?

>Recording studios have big desks too.

Yeah , though for sliders and knobs. Not only is an array of sliders an input method, it also offers visual feedback on the current state, i.e, you can see the position of the slider at a glance.

That said, the video colour ocrrecvtion suite 'DaVinci' has its own dedicated control surface:

http://www.blackmagicdesign.com/uk/products/davinciresolve

For Photoshop, placing the commands on a tablet makes more sense in my opinion. Not all commands are applicable in all circumstance, so it has to be dynamic.

Also, the solution shown seems to give equal weight tyo all commands, whereas in reality some commands are very often used, and others rarely.

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Fujitsu launches lappie for oldies

Dave 126
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Re: There Always Has To Be One

>The article is titled, "Fujitsu launches lappie for oldies."

Jake has been on The Reg long enough to know that a Reg headlione does not always reflect the marketing message of the company in question.

The bulk of the article discussed the actual features of the laptop.

Tha said, I know a lot of crap is marketed at oldr people - just look at Telegraph 'Reader Offers'.

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Dave 126
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Re: Here's the specs

>Why the numerical keypad? I never use it and I don't think granny is heavy on data entry either. It's useless and just clutters the design.

If a bigger screen is easier to read, and there is room for it, a numerical keyboard is good. FFS, it is easier to type any number (telephone number, credit card number) on a numerical keypad than it is by whipping your hand from left to right above the Q to P keys. If you have limited dexterity and arm strength, this is even more important.

Have you even thought this through?

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Dave 126
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Re: There Always Has To Be One

Jake's use of the term 'lusers' neatly sums up his attitude to people.

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Dave 126
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Re: @AC (was: Here in Sonoma, Californa ...)

Does that mean manufacturers of hearing aids are ageist?

Does that mean BMW are ageist for implementing softer floors in their factories for the benefit of an ageing German workforce?

I don't get why you object to a product being designed to mitigate the effects that aging has on many people's bodies. Nobody is saying that all older people have arthritis or poor eye-sight, but some do.

FFS, this is Japan, where the birth rate is so low that much of their research into robots is aimed at caring for their older population.

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NASA quandary: Should Curiosity channel Fast and Furious for Martian dune-buggy jump?

Dave 126
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Re: Question...

The engineers aren't overly worried about the wheels getting a bit dog-eared because the torque is so high that even square wheels would allow the rover to travel about.

And yeah, and Holtsmark has noted, a combination of aluminium wheels, adhesive and a rubber-like material would introduce far more variables than just aluminium alone.

Your question has made me wonder "Why aluminium and titanium?". Though I can't find a quote from a JPL engineer on the internet, the answers given on the internet are plausible... for example, forming aluminium is a very mature technology, and denser (and thus thinner) titanium wheels would be more prone to point stress.

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Apple's nonexistent iWatch to bag $17.5 BEEELION in first year alone – analyst

Dave 126
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Re: Can't wait to not buy this one!

>As for "flash and expensive", I doubt you would even recognise an expensive watch, and that would put you firmly in the majority group!

It's pretty easy: If it is being worn by a Russian politician, it is likely to be a very expensive watch.

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Dave 126
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Re: Can't wait to not buy this one!

>It's getting rare to see a guy wearing a watch who's not some kind of suit trying to look important.

Your statement suggests you work in an office environment. Many people do not.

Offices tend to feature clocks on walls and in the corner of every computer screen. Many other work places do not.

Clear?

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Dave 126
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Re: Tell me who

>Who actually wears a watch these days?

Anyone who wants to know the time without fumbling in a pocket or bag. Watches are waterproof, easy to carry, and have a battery life measured in years - as opposed to the mere hours that phones last.

In many workplaces it is not a good idea to check the time on your phone - some middle manager might assume you're faffing around on FaceBook or whatever - so a watch avoids the misunderstanding.

Beyond the conventional use of telling the time, watches are in contact with the skin; fitness aids aren't uncommon today. With our ageing population in the developed world, there is scope for wrist-worn medical devices. If having a week's log of heart-rate data helps doctors prevent heart attacks, insurance companies might subsidise these devices.

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Duracell powers into cloud storage market

Dave 126
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Re AC

Amazon.co.uk: Customer Reviews: Veet for Men Hair Removal Gel ...

http://www.amazon.co.uk/product-reviews/B000KKNQBK

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Dave 126
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Try the King of Shaves Azor razors... they typically work out at less than a quid a blade, but I find they work better for me than Gillette.

Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened—the bastards went to four blades. Now we're standing around with our cocks in our hands, selling three blades and a strip. Moisture or no, suddenly we're the chumps. Well, fuck it. We're going to five blades.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades,11056/

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Dave 126
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Re: How much for 2TB?

>Nor are we sure just how Duracell will deliver on a claim that it is “ 250-1000 times faster than most cloud storage providers” as the site is silent on how Duracell pulls off that trick.

If I had to guess, the small-print might read: " * 250 times faster for backups after the initial upload" i.e it might be using some ZFS-style magic to only backup to the cloud the blocks that have changed.

But yeah, either that or homing bunnies with HDDs strapped to their backs.

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Apple marks '1984' anniversary with iPhone-produced un-commercial

Dave 126
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Re: Nokia must feel sick

I suspect you're correct Frank Bough, but I can't see for myself: clicking the link was the first time in months I've been reminded I uninstalled QT a year ago.

The trouble with Windows 7 is that when QT or Java or whatever wants updating, the Win7 taskbar comes out of hiding and obscures the lowermost status/toolbar of whatever application you are using- and won't disappear again until you've told the offending 'notification' to sod off. An annoyance.

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Dave 126
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Re: Company of the people?

A 'computer for the people' should be both affordable for the average Joe and usable by the average Joe. Most of us here, using a computer to post on The Reg, could afford a Mac if we wanted one, i.e if we saw that we could make enough use of its features for it to be fair value for us personally. Also, most of here would have no trouble chasing down driver updates or whatever else it takes to smooth off the rough edges of whatever machine we're using - i.e we don't necessarily represent the average Joe.

A good number of people in this world would struggle to afford a Raspberry Pi, let alone a a cheap n cheerful Windows / Linux netbook.

I'm not saying that Macs are the last word in usability, but they are made with less technically-literate people in mind. The difference is less pronounced today, but in the nineties DOS/ Win 3x / 95 machines did require a bit more from their users than Macs did.

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Dave 126
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Too many variables

If it was a one-off failure, it's hard to generalise about one make of gear over another. We've all had kit not talk to other kit - of any flavour - either because its playing silly buggers (not completely unknown on Windows machines) or just because we can't find the right cable on the night.

If you were making a more general point about how most Windows laptops have either VGA or HDMI or both, just as most projectors - then fair enough, but do just say so.

You said previous presentation played from a USB stick- perhaps it was a file format issue that prevented the same approach being used for the Macs. Again, you leave us none the wiser.

What we can learn from your anecdote is that it's usually best, when performing iin front of an audience, to stick with a combination of gear you know works. That might, as in your case, mean a PC, but in other scenarios it could well mean a Mac.

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This THREESOME is a HANDFUL: It’s the Asus Transformer Book Trio

Dave 126
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Re: Linux

>Seriously, corporate whores are the only people left using Windows.

That's 'serious'?

There's mechanical engineers running some flavours of CAD, and people using the likes of Adobe's offerings (if they aren't using OSX). Oh, and small business using Sage and its 3rd-party plugins for tax, payroll, and stock keeping. Not forgetting people using niche workshop hardware that is controlled using Windows software. And PC gamers, whose desire for more graphics power has lowered the cost of GPUs for the rest of us...

There may be trends in some areas away from Windows (Rhino 3D on OSX, games on ValveOS, applications running in web-browsers a la ChromeOS, office applications on mobile OSs like Android) but a Windows-free computing life is not yet here for a lot of us. Though we might respect the principles of Open Source Software - and be frustrated by aspects of propriety software caused by commercial thinking - sometimes paying people to write applications results in better products.

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Unmanned, autonomous ROBOT TRUCK CONVOY 'drives though town'

Dave 126
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Re: Military?

>The fallout should be interesting. Roadside diners will tumbleweed away.

We've seen this before, in the UK. Staging Inns, placed along routes to provide fresh horses for coaches suffered as railways were developed.

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Dave 126
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Coat

Re: I want robotic cars.

The steering wheel in the top of my pants drives me nuts.

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Dave 126
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Re: Sir

>supply trains for any enemy clever enough to push the on switch on a GPS spoofer

There aretechniques for coping with that situation. Basically, the system uses GPS or GLONASS, but as it does so it builds an 'atlas' of other radio (across a range of frequencies) sources, such as civilian broadcast towers which it can fall back on should someone try and spoof the GPS.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/07/02/bae_navsop/

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EVE Online erects mashed-up memorial to biggest space fight in history

Dave 126
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>I've no idea how it really works but I am choosing to picture this battle as being like something from an Iain M. Banks novel

That's how it comes across to me. Banks always fleshed out his 'Culture' universe with alliances, hierarchies (Matter), political shenanigans (Look To Windward), mercenaries (Consider Phlebas), dirty tricks and lots and lots of big feck-off spaceships (Excession). I won't knock the complexity of Eve, but my personal taste in gaming is usually a quick bout of shooting an alien (or a homephobic American teenager) in the face - though the only game I played in 2013 was 'Worms'.

Having said that, 'Halo' and 'Mass Effect' also remind me of Banks. RIP.

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Wheee GDUNK! Panasonic's latest Toughpads ready to hit the streets

Dave 126
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Re: woo hoo...

My mechanic has been using toughened Windows laptops with touch-screens for years, for the purpose of running engine diagnostic software.

>Using pinkies only, making choices from drop-down menus was a challenge, and will no doubt be a toe-curling experience for field workers.

And the software he uses is designed to be touch-screen friendly.

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MAC TO THE FUTURE: 30 years of hindsight and smart-arsery

Dave 126
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Confused:

>Worse, Apple opted for hard disk technology while every other manufacturer believed solid-state storage was the ideal portable storage.

>It duly signed up the only supplier of miniature hard disks that would fit the iPod form-factor and locked them into an exclusivity contract, in return guaranteeing that it would purchase its entire stock regardless.

That meant no one else could make hard disk MP3 players, even if they had wanted to. Don'tcha just love the free market?

So on the one hand, you're suggesting that nobody else wanted to make HDD-based players, but also saying that nobody else could make HDD-based players?

It was very hard to get hold of those little Toshiba HDDs... The only way I could hold of one to fix my iRiver H320 was to dissect an iPod with a broken screen. I chose the iRiver over the iPod because of wider Codec support, drag-n-drop support, USB-host support, line in and microphone recording, and supposed audio quality... oh, and it was slightly cheaper. I later found out that Rockbox let my play Doom on it (a pointless exercise really, but cool) and Gameboy classics.

It was frustrating a year or two later to be unable to buy a non-iPod HDD player.

Nor did the iPod introduce the 'scroll wheel' to portable audio- I had one on my Sharp minidisc player/recorder, though it wasn't used for track select - instead it was for jogging through tracks, and for entering text.

The pre-iPod HDD players were often a bit shit, though. The Creative that looked like a portable CD player was a silly form factor, and the later Creative Nomad was unreliable (the audio-out jack was soldered directly to the PCB, and so was unforgiving of longer audio jacks)

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Google helps out utterly underexposed Lego brand with Chrome toy

Dave 126
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Is WebGL still a security risk?

The Reg suggested some time ago that WebGL was a security risk, and since it wasn't used much (at the time) it wasn't a bad idea to disable it.

I can't find any recent news on this topic, though.

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Dave 126
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Re: Lego is a toy! Meccano is proper engineering!

LEGO Technic encouraged my engineering side. Cranes, JCB diggers, cars with gear boxes and suspension, plus electric motors - all good things. Suspension, gearing, chain drives, pneumatics...

The LEGO Mindstorms kits (sensors, motors, programmable logic) look good, but a bit pricey.

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Man sues NASA: Mystery Mars rock is a UFO – an unidentified 'FUNGUS' object

Dave 126
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Re: Choral Pigs...

FFS!

You DO NOT teach pigs to sing.

What you do is select a few dozen pigs, and determine the natural pitch of squeel for each. Armed

with this data, you then get a MIDI keyboard, an Arduino, and as many relays, crocodile clips and step-up transformers as you have pigs...

Then it's just a case of "a bunch of German microphones, a very expensive British mixing desk and absolutely no EQ whatsoever - just as the good Lord intended".

- with apologies to Monty Python and Hayseed Dixie

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Dave 126
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Re: Backfiring Logic

'Foucalt's Pendulum' by Umberto Eco is an excellent treatise on conspiracy theorists and their desire to believe, presented in the form of a thriller. It's very readable, if a bit dense at times, and has an overarching structure that prevents the fatigue one can feel after successive plot twists a la Robert Anton Wilson's 'Schrodinger Cat Trilogy'.

However, you don't need to have read it to consider Dan Brown a prick.

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Boffins demo re-usable paper and waterjet printers

Dave 126
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Re: Easy fixed

I agree with Bronek Kozicki: I find it easier to proof read a document on paper, and then make changes on the computer. This sort-lived print-out scheme would be suitable for this, except I like to use a coloured pen to mark the required changes.

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Reg reader crafts 3-axis GoPro 'Stubilizer' for skull-mounted cameras

Dave 126
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Re: Design question - Waterproof

Re Waterproof.

If it won't be waterproof in its first version, has any thought been given at this early stage that will make waterproofing easier to implement at a later date? For example, concentric grooves or flanges could be added to the moulded parts for version 1.0, so that labyrinth seals can be more easily added for version 1.5.

Whilst waterproofing the design would add cost - especially the testing, if it is to be sold as waterproof - this decision does seem to limit the market considerably. [Anecdotal, I know: In my local pub (some distance from the coast) there are a couple of paragliding enthusiasts, a few motorcrossers, a couple of dozen mountain-bikers and maybe a dozen surfers. ]

I'd be interested to read of your experience of learning to use Solidworks, too, with respect to more common software: What did you make of the UI, for example, or did you find quite straight forward after you got the hang of the conventions (sketches > bodies > parts > assemblies, the feature tree etc)? Did you just play with it, or did you follow tutorials on YouTube and look at user forums?

Best of luck with this project.

And thanks to The Reg for publishing a story about people using IT in the real world.

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Snap! Nokia's gyro stabilised camera tech now on open market

Dave 126
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Re: Spin

Foucault (of pendulum fame) observed that if he placed a metal rod in the chuck of a lathe and hit it from above, it would vibrate up and down - as one would expect. What he found notable, however, was that if he then rotated the chuck of the lathe, the plane of vibration didn't change, i,e, he didn't observe the rod wobbling from side to side, it was still up and down.

MEMs gyros are based upon this same principle, but are constructed using techniques developed for silicon chips.

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Dave 126
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Re: Surely this is only a minor part of Nokia's special sauce.

The Nokia 1020 has the big sensor. The midrange Nokia 925 has a normal (for a phone) sized sensor and this gyro tech, and in reviews is said to be a "versatile if not amazing" camera.

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The other end of the telescope: Intel’s Galileo developer board

Dave 126
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Re: Get out the stuffing

>(if you need all those peripherals: ethernet, micro-SD and what looks like an extremely dodgy sheild interface) then you really shouldn't be trying to do it with an Arduino

I'm a complete novice at Arduino and the like. My only experience is the custom Arduino board that runs my RepRap Ormerod 3D printer - I note that it has ethernet and a microSD slot, though.

EDIT: Link added. It's one of these:

http://blog.think3dprint3d.com/2013/12/Duet-Arduino-Due-compatible-3DPrinter-controller.html

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Volunteers slam plans to turn Bletchley Park into 'geeky Disneyland'

Dave 126
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Re: You know he's on the way...

Seriously though, Stephen Fry seems a natural fit to champion this cause. Though some might criticise him on points of detail, he a genuine interest in technology, gay rights, languages and German history - and has a larger profile amongst the wider population than The Reg does.

Don't forget that he was vocal in his support of Paul Chambers, the man who was prosecuted (and later acquitted) after he tweeted jokingly that he would 'blow up Robin Hood airport'.

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Dave 126
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Re: Time for The Register to weigh in methinks.

A damn good idea. And perhaps a popular public figure with a very large twitter following and an interest in history, gay rights and technology could be recruited to raise awareness of this campaign amongst the general population?

Oh wait, Mr Orlowski has other ideas. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/01/28/stephen_fry_says_kildall_was_cracked/

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Dave 126
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Re: Polish cryptographers!!

I liked the Interactive Display in Futurama's Luna Theme Park, telling the history of Luna exploration:

""[Singing] We're whalers on the Moon, we carry a harpoon. But there ain't no whales so we tell tall tales and sing our whaling tune""

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Behold the world's first full-colour 3D printer

Dave 126
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Re: HP?

HP dipped their toes in the pool, then pulled them out:

In January 2010, Stratasys signed an agreement with HP to manufacture HP-branded 3D printers. In August 2012, the HP manufacturing and distribution agreement was discontinued.

I don't know if HP are still pursuing 3D printing in any way.

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Dave 126
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Re: Market Target?

>3D printing seems to attract two kinds of people.

You seem to have forgotten professional product development engineers and designers.

But yeah, there is a lot of FOSS hype about. Let us all remember the horror of home produced, clip-art laden posters that were all about in the nineties, when philistines laid their hands on DTP software.

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Dave 126
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Re: to widen the discussion...

I agree with Don's gist.

On points of detail though, my take is that technology like 3D scanning and image recognition will allow 3D printers to compensate for user ineptness. E.g the printer will be able to 'see' that what it is laying down on the bed isn't what is desired, and so will adjust the parameters accordingly.

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Dave 126
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Haven't we been here before? I think I've made a Reg comment in jest before, about encoding the filament so that unauthorised consumables are rejected by the printer.

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Stephen Fry rewrites computer history again: This time it's serious

Dave 126
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Re: Why let truth get in the way...

>You know he's given the answers on the autocue or into his ear, right? You know HE KNOWS all these things, right?

Sod it, Jeremy Paxman knows everything (if his role on University Challenge is to believed) so let's just make him President of the World now and save some fuss.

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Dave 126
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Re: The thinking man's grandma

DNA in Cambridge before Watson and Crick.

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Dave 126
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Re: Why let truth get in the way...

You'll be next be suggesting that there aren't actually rules to the game we know as Mornington Crescent! What a ludicrous idea!

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Dave 126
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Hmm, IBM and ICBMs are very different things.

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Dave 126
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Re: Why let truth get in the way...

Since we are pointing out the bleedingly obvious, Alan Davies isn't actually ignorant. As the producers of the show found out in the first pilot for QI, having Alan just give the correct answers resulted in a boring show.

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Globe grabbin,’ sphere slammin’, orb-tossin’, pill poppin’... Speedball

Dave 126
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Re: Joystick Killer

Back in the days when joystick packaging proudly stated 'Microswitches' as a selling point!

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