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* Posts by Dave 126

3887 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

It's JUST possible, but Apple MIGHT not make an iWatch in 2013

Dave 126
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Hiya Dana- where do you live, very very roughly? Just curious if one's country has a bearing on wristwatch use. Watches are still pretty popular here in the UK, though not universal- it's far easier to pull at your sleeve than it is to fumble in your pocket!

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Dave 126
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Re: Called me old fashioned

Taste... more people commented positively about a chunky stainless steel analogue G-Shock I wore than they do about a slimmer, rather charming 1969 Omega Chronostop with the original mesh bracelet (that my dad bought in a pub in 1970) I wear. Oh well.

Curiously, on website forums in the past, I have read comments like "Who wears a watch these days?" from people who have gone to identify themselves as living in the USA, whereas European commentards were more supportive of wristwatches. Anecdotal, I know... though analysis of crowd photographs might give something more resembling 'hard data'.

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Dave 126
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Re: About time

>It's all about the brand it seems.

Well yeah, if you compare a £5 Casio Quartz with a Rolex or Panerai, the Casio is more accurate and has more features. Obviously if you are a deep sea diver an Arctic explorer or work in very high magnetic fields (Rolex Milgauss), the modest Casio (or Lorus, or Seiko) might not cut it, but I'm sure that doesn't account for most of Rolex's sales.

The existing product that seems most comparable to this rumoured device is the Sony watch that acts as a companion to Android phones... MKI was said to be very buggy, and that alone is enough to stop many people from looking at the MKII.

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Dave 126
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Re: Been done before

> a) a wrist is a stupid place to put either a phone or an mp3 player since it is impractical in either role, b) they need charging almost as much as a phone does and c) the screen is so fiddly small it doesn't offer much functionality.

a, agreed, but is a reasonable place to put media controls

b, probably yes, but it might be possible to design a very efficient SOC that just does some basic functionality, or develop a hassle way of charging, or of getting energy from elsewhere. It is also possible the the functions on the watch are passive (eg, pushing a button changes the RF resonance of the watch)

c, Disagree- my Android phone can communicate quite a bit with just a single notification pixel (blinks green for email, blue for a text, red for low battery, constant light shows charging status etc. )

Lets say for the fun of the discussion that Apple do make such watch... they have a history preferring to omit functions rather than implement them to the detriment of battery life.

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Dave 126
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Re: Consistent

>I don't buy this rumour.

Good point, the original iPhone forewent 3G in order to make the battery last a reasonable amount of time. I can't see Apple releasing something with really poor battery life.

That said, I am finding it fun to imagine how that problem might, hypothetically, be mitigated. Also, just how much power is required for function X and function Y etc?

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Dave 126
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Re: Actually quite a clever move

Onanism aside, I would be interested in some rough calculations /references to how much power is generated by a, normal movements of the wrist as used to power automatic mechanical watches, and b, exaggerated wrist movements performed for the sole purpose of generating power, a la that torch you mention (I had one, it was a bit poor).

Another form of human power would be piezo-electric crystals under the buttons, as used in some cigarette lighters. That can certainly generate enough power for a small spark.

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Dave 126
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Re: Been done - using Android..

>a "receive only" device: it's great to be able to consult a live calendar on the device, but there is no way it makes for a device where you can ENTER such data.

And conversely, a watch would make a better Dictaphone-like device than it would an MP3 player. In this example, Input is easier than Output. Depends on the form of the data being collected/given out. : D

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Dave 126
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Meh

Re: Pass

You do raise valid points about it needing to be charged- the form factor of course is too small for a sizeable battery. This, as well as ergonomic and aesthetic concerns, is why this sort of device hasn't caught on in the past. However, either this is a constraint that defines the function of this (hypothetical) device (how much power is required to receive a signal from a phone and then display a notification? LED? E-Ink? How much power is required to send a bluetooth signal to the phone for Call End / Volume Up, Track Skip etc?) or maybe an easier way to charge the phone has been developed... wireless charging? Does this mean the user has to sit within a radius of the charger... perhaps at their desktop, or whilst in their car? Solar? Mechanical?

Maybe, some bright spark has developed a way for the watch to work without a battery... maybe buttons change the passive RF resonance of the watch that the phone can actively detect? Or maybe piezo crystals under the buttons could generate enough power for a signal the phone can pick on? Maybe rotating the bezel generates ultrasonic clicks that can be 'heard' by the phone?

Obviously, the points raised here are generic, and not Apple-specific.

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Dave 126
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Re: Pass

>Is there anyone reading this that would ever find such a thing useful?

What, being able to check call notifications without having to reach into your pocket, or use media controls when the phone is docked on the other side of the room and acting as a media player?

Essential? No. But useful? Yes, of course. Same as the IR remote controller for your television, in essence: useful, but not essential.

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Dave 126
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Re: @ andreas koch

>Never saw the eye-phone episode before, but just found a clip of it.

"... you can download a porno on a crowded train, or check your email as you get run over by a train..."

Brilliant. P'raps more applicable to Google's Project Glass, though!

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Dave 126
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Happy

Re: Doesn't sound right though

>here's hoping for it being round, like a proper watch

The Heuer Monaco isn't a 'proper watch'? : D

D'ya remember that Motorola Aura phone with a circular display?

(Smiley Face icon - circular display of happiness)

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Dave 126
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Re: Hoooooboy!

>Just wait for all the fanboys to conveniently forget about all the previous watchphones

Er, those are watch phones. I think the reason you don't people wearing them very often is because ergonomically they don't (can't) work well- mic and speakers are in the wrong place, not enough space for a reasonable battery). That is why people forget about them, and no wilful amnesia is required on the part of 'fanbois'. Anyway, there are some interesting comments on this thread than the oh-so-tired unoriginal form you've opted for.

Apple aren't going to try and make a 'watch phone', but making a watch that controls a phone in some limited manner is an easier trick to pull off - All it would really take is an iPod Nano with a Bluetooth chip. The consensus on Sony's efforts seems to be that MKI was buggy and MKII too pricey. If Apple can nail the problem of power consumption / recharging, they might be on to a winner.

(It may not be coincidence that Sony hail from a land where public transport can be so crowded as to make pulling a phone from your pocket inconvenient, and where watches are a thriving industry (think (Grand) Seiko, Citizen, Casio, and numerous fashion watches that disguise the time in the form of a puzzle))

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Dave 126
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Re: Not going to be much use really

@SuccessCase

Thank you for some interesting ideas. Obviously the main issue with Google Glasses is power consumption for the display and the CPU. I wear glasses, and it easy to imagine some far simpler ways of using them to display information to me. Even just three pixels mounted at the top of the lenses would be enough to, for example, act as navigational aid or digital compass, and my Android phone currently uses a single pixel (well, the composite LED) to denote and differentiate between texts, emails, missed calls, charging status and low battery warnings. I am assuming the simpler the device, the lower the power consumption (the current issue with Google Glass, and with 'smart watches'). KISS.

In the mean time, you might want to look at the snowboarding goggles that integrate an HUD, GPS etc... a more obscure brand has been doing them for a couple of years, but now Oakly have picked up the idea (though they were, AFAIK, the first to integrate an MP3 player into some sunglasses... why, I don't know)

I have commented before with the idea of a watch (or even a ring) with a Subscriber Identification Module in it... it could be made so that any device you pick up becomes 'yours' for the period that you are holding it (of course, this would have a impact on the business model of selling everybody a phone, so it is probably unrealistic). This wouldn't require the watch or ring to have its own power supply. The line of thought that got me there was an extension of "simple dumbphone with 3G>WiFi, used with tablet when required" as being a good solution for those who find small screens fiddly.

In the wake of recent tragic news, I have come across some Youtube vids of US gun owners who have had RFID chips implanted in their hands so they can open locked gun boxes quickly, without risk of children playing with them.

I'm still waiting for those glasses that turn opaque at the first sign of a threatening situation, so that I don't see anything that might worry me. Anyway, happy new year everyone, and hope you're not feeling like someone has wrapped a slice of lemon around a gold sledgehammer and bashed your brain with it. ; D

(need icon for Obligatory Douglas (Noel) Adams Reference... if it was DNA it could do double duty in biotech article comments)

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Dave 126
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Re: "Wouldn't it be self winding"

Hmmm...

I'm not an Apple user, but they interest me because they have control over both their OSs and hardware and so are in a position to unilaterally bring devices to market and better integrate them to each other.

For this reason, I'm sometimes surprised that there hasn't been tighter integration of iPads and Macs- using the iPad as a control surface for a Mac, for example (though iOS devices have had MIDI support from the get-go), or as a place to keep your Photoshop tool palettes. I would have assumed that Apple would have an easier job of doing things like than rivals who use somebody else's OS.

The 'watch like' iPod Nano seemed notable because it didn't integrate with the iPhone. Call alerts would be an obvious application, as would audio playback controls when an iPhone is in a dock on the other side of the room.

Another observation: on one tech site about an e-ink watch, I was surprised by the number of comments about "Who wears a watch these days?", but anecdotally, it appeared that more Europeans wear watches than our US cousins. Not only that, but Sony- who do have a phone-connected watch on the market, are Japanese. Why is that relevant? Because some Japanese cities are notorious for having over-crowded public transport systems, overcrowded to the point where reaching into ones pocket for a phone to check a call can be inconvenient (there are some hard figures on the net that support this reputation crowded subways).

Obviously, a watch is not in a good position for either making phone calls or for plugging earphones into. It is, however, in a good position for operating other devices. Rotating the scroll wheel bezel of my watch to make a note of when my my parking ticket expires is so much quicker, easier and less fiddly than setting a reminder on my phone.

The issue with an Apple watch would be aesthetic- watches come in all shapes, sizes and colours, and making a 'one watch to suit everybody' would be tricky- the exception being the £5 Casio F91W 'terrorist' watch, but it is tiny. At least the common watch materials of stainless steel, glass and sapphire wouldn't break from Apple's current choice of materials.

Another issue is power consumption, and charging. Charging every couple days is not ideal. Wireless charging would partially mitigate this issue, but Apple haven't embraced it yet- though they are certainly giving it thought. One of their patents describes a method of selecting the priority in which desktop peripherals receive power wirelessly, but obviously for the watch to be charged this way the wearer would have to sit at their desk for an hour every other day. That said, if the watch is limited in functionality (e-ink call/text alert, call/call end control), the battery could be eeked out for some time. There is also the possibility that if the watch were simple enough, the phone itself could supply the power required for a display state-change, through resonance.

Can anyone here comment on how much power watches like the Seiko Kinetic can generate? My uninformed guess would be 'not enough'.

Watch controls could be completely mechanical- imagine a bezel mechanism that when rotated produced ultrasonic clicks that could be heard by a phone.

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The amazing magical LED: Has it really been fifty years already?

Dave 126
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Blue LEDs as ornaments

And Jeebus, I walked my dog past some houses the other day, and couldn't help but notice that people had decorated their indoor Christmas trees with blue LEDs. I can't stand the things, but it seems some people like them. These weren't the sort of houses that are enthusiastically covered in plastic reindeer and inflatable snowmen, either.

Bad design: Yesterday I bought a car cigarette-lighter >USB power adaptor from a garage... it was fitted with a blue power indicator that was so bright it would distract any driver. Not good. Still, it was easily fixed with the Duck-tape that is kept in the car.

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Dave 126
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Re: Every one already?

>anywhere I can verify that from?

If you Google it, the articles that appear in the results would appear to support the assertion, if not address it directly. For example: "Federal transportation officials have been pushing local governments for several years to switch to brighter, more energy-efficient LED traffic signals." -2010,

http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/local/led-traffic-lights-may-not-be-as-safe-as-expecte-1/nNDTb/

This little article that mentions a real-world issue:

Because LEDs generate so little heat, they can be obscured by packed snow and ice, a problem in northern states. In April of last year, a truck driver ran a red light covered in snow at an intersection in a Chicago suburb and killed a 34-year-old woman turning left and injured four of her passengers.

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Dave 126
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Re: LED lighting instead of fluorescent 'haz mat'

>I *like* the cooler, more natural white light of good LED lamps, much better than the sickly yellow light produced >by incandescent lamps. Guess people just don't like daylight, preferring instead something that is basically an >industrial artifact from a time when proper light wasn't practical.

The power-efficient LEDs do not replicate the shape of natural daylight perfectly, they have their own bias. What people 'prefer' depends upon the time of day and the task in hand, and our circadian rhythms.The effect of different colour temperatures upon us is still being researched, but we know that, for example, fitting a 24 hour police control room boosts the concentration of the officers in the early hours of the morning. We also know that working night shifts under artificial lighting has been linked to rises in some cancers.

We associate red light with full bellies, sat around the embers of a camp fire, soon time to sleep zzz. I use a piece of freeware called 'f.lux', which changes the white balance of my monitor according to the time of day (by world location and calender, of course) so that 'white' on my monitor closer resembles a sheet of white paper that is held next to it- bluer during daylight hours, warmer when the room is artificially lit.

A local publican has replaced the hideous 12v halogen down-lighters above his bar (hideous because halogen bulbs were never designed to sit in enclosed spaces for thermal reasons... they prefer being suspended in space between two LV cables) with RGB LED units, which can cycle through a range of colours. Curiously, under their impression of an incandescent bulb, I can't tell a blue Rizla packet from a green one.

Second product plug: Tescos have a home-branded 2xAA flashlight with a CREE LED for £10. Brighter than anyone needs to walk to the pub across the fields, its fits in your pocket, and you can be more philosophical about losing it than you would a pricier branded model. I wish more cyclists on a budget would use them in place of the flashing white LED units that project next-to-no light and make it harder for a motorist to judge their speed and distance (the movement of a constant cone is easier to judge than that of an intermittent point light, duh). I use them with nickel metal hydride batteries, which are so much better than rechargeables were when I was a child.

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NYC mayor pins crime rate spike on iPhone, iPad theft

Dave 126
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Re: Just ban Apple products

>Just ban Apple products... so crime will go down again. Simple.

Aw, FFS. It used to be care stereos that were stolen. They stopped bothering after almost every car came with a reasonable stereo- there was not much of a market any more.

Sat nav units have been a popular target, but again, they have dropped in price.

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Dave 126
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Re: We used to have the same problem

It has been a good few years since I read in New Scientist that the IMEI blacklist had been extended to operators across Europe, so that thieves couldn't simply pass on stolen phones to their cousins in other countries.

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Steve Bong's 3D printing special Xmas showcase

Dave 126
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Re: Fimo

>Industrial quality 3D printing is useful for prototypes

And sometimes for end-use parts, too. Choosing between any manufacturing processes usually depends on how many you want to make.

Generally, aerospace and some high-end motorsport parts aren't made in large quantities, so are a candidate for 'additive manufacturing'. With processes such as Selective Laser Sintering (for materials including titanium), you can make parts with 'property gradients', should you choose.

I agree though- there is a lot of hype. How many people do you know own a 'Dremel' -like tool? A few, maybe, but not household. I can't think of a 'killer application' that would require everyone to own a 3D printer, though the wider availability of 3D scanning (or its pseudo cousin: clever software tricks on a series of 2D photos) by 'Kinect'-like devices might open it up to a wider group of people.

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Christmas ruined for 2,100 sex offenders booted off online games

Dave 126
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Re: Dangerous lines

> being a sex offender does not automatically mean they are a pedophile.

No, not if a teenage girl can be considered a sex offender by the law for daftly sending pictures of herself to her boyfriend. However, there maybe be studies as to how well (or not) the more dangerous individuals are able to control their urges...

In an ideal world, there would be two online gaming environments- one for children, one for adults. The main advantage would be that adults can play without encountering racist, homophobic 15 year-old 'squeakers'. Protecting said 'squeakers' from predatory adults would be a bonus.

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The LINUX TABLET IS THE FUTURE - and it always will be

Dave 126
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Re: the tablet shall perish

I was reading a recent interesting article on Tom's Hardware the other day... comparing Intel's new Atom chip to ARM competitors... the gist is that "In general, our analysis suggests that the ARM-based CPU core is excellent at doing nothing, but starts to require considerably more power during computationally-intensive workloads.

"The secret of Atom’s power efficiency is simple. The CPU's handicap at idle is overcome under load, when work is actually being performed, and by a more efficient memory subsystem that is always active. Although Intel continues to use branding many enthusiasts associate with underpowered computing and graphics in cheap netbooks, the Z2760 is a different chip than the N450 so many of us remember."

- http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/atom-z2760-power-consumption-arm,review-32593-5.html

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Dave 126
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Re: It's best

Troll. That said, if one uses Windows for their productivity apps and general faffing around on the internet, than it's not a bad idea to have a Linux installed for online banking and purchases- there would just be fewer opportunities for it to contract a nasty, regardless of any security advantages it might have. And of course, you can use it as a recovery environment for your Windows installation too.

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Dave 126
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Re: *nix philosophy?

Likewise, if you then want to play a game, you add a joystick. Make music? Add a MIDI adaptor. Illustrate a document? Add a graphics tablet. Make an audit of your warehouse's stock? A barcode or RFID reader. Survey a construction site? A laser range-finder.

For many tasks, a computer with a keyboard is no more useful than a computer without a keyboard, if you don't have the input device you need. (Though of course many applications benefit from some kind of text entry, if only for changing file names or adding notes)

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Dave 126
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Re: Tablet vs laptop/desktop

>Fondleslabs consume content but _can_ be used for creative/productivity tasks, just not as conveniently.

Depends on the task... ideally, for content creation, I would like to see a tablet integrated with the desktop/laptop software- using the tablet to house desktop tool-bars would be a simple example of this, or using the tablet as a digitiser.

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8086 and All That. Revisited

Dave 126
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Re: Oh Yeah, Anglo Claptrap

>Jacquard is interesting in inventing the printer a century before the computer.

But did he invent printing consumables that were more expensive than thoroughbred Stallion seed, millilitre for millilitre?

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Dead Steve Jobs' mega yacht seized by testy Philippe Starck

Dave 126
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Re: iSore

As David Hockney said:

"Always live in the ugliest house on the street... that way, you don't have to look at it."

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It MUST be the END of the WORLD... El Reg man thanks commentards

Dave 126
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Re: What's more to the point is...

>Last I heard, the Google Corporation Inc had "invented" and "patented" that sort of topical/seasonal alteration to a website's livery

Nah, I remember Christmas Lemmings back in the Amiga days... and I'm sure it wasn't the first. Psygnosis became SCE and was broken up this year, so you're in the clear.

Have just wasted 5 minutes hunting down the Lemmings 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' MIDI file, to find that it just don't sound right on a wavetable synth... come back FM!

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Apple said to be testing 46, 55-inch big-screen TVs

Dave 126
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>regardless of what kind of crap is inside that case

'Obviously!' is generally ignorant. Inside the case of the iPhone 5 is one of the fastest ARM-based phone SOCs around.

Performance obviously depends on workload, but it's clear the iPhone 5 is a big step forward from the 4S and tends to outperform the latest ARM based Android smartphones. As the rest of the ARM based SoC players move to Cortex A15 designs they should be able to deliver faster devices in the first half of 2013.

-http://www.anandtech.com/show/6330/the-iphone-5-review/10

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Windows Vista woes killed MS Pinball

Dave 126
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Re: After Windows 8, was Vista's bad reputation REALLY deserved?

Re Bad Rep:

I didn't use Vista Pro, but Home Premium wouldn't allow you to turn off the 'feature' that automatically restarted the machine after downloading updates. This meant that you couldn't leave it running, say, some rendering or downloading, and be guaranteed to find everything running when you got back. Okay, I can see the argument for getting security updates installed when MS realised that many users weren't restarting their machines for weeks- but MS's solution would loose people any unsaved documents. (Yeah, I know, but...)

The UAC was fairly obtrusive, too.

Other than that, I found Vista stable (when attended!) and usable, though it was on a new machine. I was a bit miffed that I apparently didn't have the RAM to do things I had done on an older machine, though.

I think a lot of the upset over Vista was over misleading hardware requirements re existing machines, which understandably annoyed businesses, and I remember something about longer start-up times, too.

Ah well.

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PGP, TrueCrypt-encrypted files CRACKED by £300 tool

Dave 126
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Re: As Mr ChriZ said

>I find yellow sticky-notes are useful aides to remembering these sorts of tediously long numbers.

...whoever down-voted Bonkers for that has no sense of humour. G'dam, we should have requested a "Joke: missed" icon during the last commentard consultation.

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Dave 126
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Re: that reminds me...

You just embed a microSD card in a floorboard, wired to some dummy nails. To access it, you place the bare ends of USB cable (stripped to the inner cables) on the heads of the nails and weigh them down.

You don't have to be a criminal to think this way- I can't think of anything more mainstream and middle-class than musing on the details of 'perfect crimes', a la Sherlock Holmes, the creations of Agatha Christie or ITV's entire drama output.

What was that decades-old story about a code hidden in Braille in the frieze encircling a room?

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Dave 126
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Re: pull the power cord

I was investigating a discrepancy between [used+free space] and [total space] of roughly 8GB (his RAM size) as displayed by Explorer on my mate's Win7 computer the other day... first Google result suggested a hibernation file could be responsible. It was. He has never used hibernation, so is this file just reserve the space for OS feature, or does it actually contain RAM contents?

No biggie, just curious.

[Edit: Ryan's comment below would suggest that it contains RAM contents]

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Wikipedia doesn't need your money - so why does it keep pestering you?

Dave 126
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Re: "so why does it keep pestering you"

>"As far as I can make out, anyone of importance on Wikipedia is either a d*ck or an ar*ehole."

>There's a larger underlying problem here, and Wikipedia is not alone in suffering from it.

Malcom Tucker: "You don't get in this room without bending the rules".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOiW4R2uNTs curiously, its Safe For Work.

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Dave 126
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I dunno, he made a post the other day that was almost comprehensible... I do hope he's alright.

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Little spider makes big-spider-puppet CLONE of itself out of dirt

Dave 126
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Re: So, presumably

That's an interesting example of 'artificial'* selection, if true! The opposite could also be true (that Samurai, like many warriors around the world, take their inspiration from animals), as could a combination of the two processes.

*(Used to denote selection by humans... but since we humans are the product of natural selection, some argue that our actions are natural, and thus should we ever colonise Mars, that life on Mars would also be natural. Bah, tis nowt but semantics!)

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Dave 126
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Headmaster

Processes akin to 'iterative engineering' perhaps, but not strictly 'engineers'. But hey, I'm loving your enthusiasm for it! : D

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Dave 126
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Re: Ichneumon wasp

@JDX

Have a read of this, mate:

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/library/gould_nonmoral.html

The whole ichneumon wasp subject benefits from knowing the context of the arguments at the time (people being threatened by a lack of 'morality' in nature), and in this Professor Gould comments upon the human reactions to it, before concluding:

[It is amusing in this context, or rather ironic since it is too serious to be amusing, that modern creationists accuse evolutionists of preaching a specific ethical doctrine called secular humanism and thereby demand equal time for their unscientific and discredited views.] If nature is nonmoral, then evolution cannot teach any ethical theory at all. The assumption that it can has abetted a panoply of social evils that ideologues falsely read into nature from their beliefs — eugenics and (misnamed) social Darwinism prominently among them. Not only did Darwin eschew any attempt to discover an antireligious ethic in nature, he also expressly stated his personal bewilderment about such deep issues as the problem of evil. Just a few sentences after invoking the ichneumons, and in words that express both the modesty of this splendid man and the compatibility, through lack of contact, between science and true religion, Darwin wrote to Asa Gray,

"I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for the human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton. Let each man hope and believe what he can."

[Stephen J Gould guest-stared in an episode of the Simpsons as himself, taking money money from Lisa to perform a test he then doesn't carry out, before running off laughing. He was not too proud to portray himself as a fraudster, when in fact he was far from it]

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Dave 126
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Re: IT connection

Another IT connection:

Some spiders can up the resolution of the eyes by introducing vibrations to them. Imagine you took a photo, and then shifted the camera to the left by half the diameter of each CCD receptor... and then shifted it up by the same. You would have three images that could be interpolated to resolve more detail than any one single image. Some engineers have built cameras based on this principle.

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Dave 126
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Re: IT connection

IT connection:

On the web, no one really knows what you really look like.

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Dave 126
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Re: So, presumably

Well spotted Hugo. The researches didn't mention it, but there are some advanced sexual behaviours in some species of spider. 'Dancing' on a web, for example... though it has been observed that some male spiders get it on with the female while their competitor is still showing off... all the gain for no pain (save being eaten alive by your mate). This is an example of biologists call 'sneaky fucker' behaviour. Please excuse the f-bomb, but seriously, that's what zoologists call it.

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Dave 126
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Re: I wonder if

...and the spiders are still awaiting a job offer from Jim Henson. The biologists didn't have the heart to tell the spiders that he is no longer with us.

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Dave 126
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Re: Brilliant

>I believe (and hope) that gravity will continue to work today and tomorrow.

Yep, 'belief' is a way of making information processing efficient enough for our brains to handle it. If I had to build everything up from a priori sensations every time I made a decision, I wouldn't get anything done. Actually, I probably wouldn't be dissimilar to a newborn baby.

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Dave 126
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Re: Are they going to side with us or the insects?

...in an insect nation!"

Here's one to Bill Bailey! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2mmTDT6W7E

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Dave 126
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Re: ummm

Yeah, just to clarify: 'Mimicry' applied to 'hover-fly looks like wasp' is not the same as a child mimicking their parent's turns of phrase. Mimicry in that sense does in nature- Mynah birds, parrots and song birds being easy examples.

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Dave 126
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Re: So, presumably

Indeed, some countries have bird-eating spiders (though that is in part due to the small size of some birds in some parts of this ever-surprising world).

Hmm, it might not be that the predator is threatened by the big decoy 'spider', but rather chooses it as the bigger meal, giving the real spider a chance to escape.

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Dave 126
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Re: Brilliant

@AC

Nothing is proven. Even stuff you think is. For example, the internal angles of a triangle do not add up to 180º, but they add up to [180º] * [a function of the area of the triangle]. However the discrepancy between this theory and the actual sum of the angles is less than the diameter of a hydrogen atom if the sides of the triangle are a lightyear in length. Therefore, this discrepancy between Plato's idea and reality does not prevent it being a VERY useful theory.

Similarly in the case of natural selection, it gives biologists a theory of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, which in turn informs health policy. Not quite replicable and repeatable, but close enough to Occam's Razor and Leary's Reality Tunnels to be getting on with.

Personally, I believe the world was created 8 minutes ago, and memories I have of the world before then have been placed there by His noodley appendages. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_teapot

Next!

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Dave 126
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Re: So, presumably

@jai

Your girlfriend's instincts are good. Though here in the UK there are no spiders that can do us serious harm, that is not true of much of the world. She, like all of us, have ancestors that have lived amongst spiders since before we were small furry things.

Snakes, similarly- there are many species that can harm us if we threaten them, and our instincts 'know' this. In some people (Indiana Jones, for example) this fear is stronger, and harder for our concious minds to overcome.

I've heard it said that the sale of lion poo is prohibited in the UK after the poll tax riots when protesters used it to scare police horses. Horses might not have lived on the continents as lions for a few thousands of years, but their instincts tell them that this smell is associated with something to be avoided.

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Dave 126
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Re: So, presumably

The textbook example of this happening in short time scale is that of moths in England over the historical period known as the Industrial Revolution. Moths (nocturnal, so inactive during daylight) would rest against the bark of trees, appropriately camouflaged to the species of tree they preferred. Soot from the burning of coal ('dark satanic mills') darkened the appearance of trees in many areas, and this placed a strong 'selection pressure' on generations of moths- favouring those that exhibited a mutation that made them darker. Pale moths would be readily seen by birds and promptly eaten.

This happened in decades, if not years. Moths, like spiders, have many, many offspring.

If billions of years seems to short a time-scale, please do bear in mind that there are other mechanisms in place- not least sexual reproduction. Sex not only allows beneficial mutations to be shared around, but, in the case of this spider, could also accelerate the process: If a female exhibits a preference for a male spider that makes decoys, her offspring will not only have the genes for that preference, but also the genes for the subject of that preference.

Also, mutations don't have to create everything 'from scratch' every time... say for example, an animal population had colonised a perfectly cave system... there would no longer be a selection pressure to retain eyes. The genes for the eyes wouldn't be 'deleted', but rather they would no longer be preserved against random mutations- and over many generations the eyes would diminish and disappear. These mutations might be small, but would prevent the eyes from developing. An analogy would be changing a few bytes on your HDD's table of contents that would render it unreadable- but most of the HDD's data is still there. Should this blind animal population find itself in an environment with light, a few mutations over generations might reinstate eyes- the 'building blocks' are still there. By the same process, 'throwbacks' occasionally occur, such as humans with vestigial tails, or Julius Ceasar's five-toed war-horse.

A mutation might also be along the lines of changing 'Goto 10' to 'Goto 20', and thus place, say, an enzyme in the 'wrong' place. It is thought such a mutation replicated an enzyme found in the eye (to break down foreign substances) into the digestive tract of bovines, allowing them to break down cellulose and thus digest grass.

It is endlessly fascinating, and I would recommend Stephen J Gould over Richard Dawkins should you want to read more.

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US patent office: Nice try Apple, but pinch-to-zoom is NOT a new invention

Dave 126
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Re: Is it not an "obvious" thing anyway?

Well, here's the rub: The whole point of these phone UIs is to make the device usable to an average newcomer. Therefore, a good number of the UI elements should, almost by definition, be obvious.

(Though of course, many things are obvious in hindsight)

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