* Posts by Dave 126

5548 posts • joined 21 Jul 2010

I have you now! Star Wars stocking fillers from another age

Dave 126
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Episode 1 Racer (N64, PC, Dreamcast)

It wasn't bad! Not an all out classic like WipEout, but it was fun.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Episode_I:_Racer

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Apple introduces new regime, hands more control to investors

Dave 126
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Re: Likewise...

Maybe. But it can't hurt that Tim Cook was bloody good at his job as COO. Jobs knew his days at Apple might be numbered, and his ways of doing thing may be reflected by the people he left behind there.

Certainly the times are uncertain... whilst Apple are as well placed as any company (what with having mountains of cash to buy start-ups and talent, and having a carefully managed, consumer-friendly image) to get a lead in The Next Big Thing*, we know that incumbent companies can often let their position go to waste**. Apple are at least aware of this, and have demonstrated some agility in the past.

*I don't know what that might be. Anyone here who thinks they do will be busy with NDAs and research, and won't be daft enough to post their ideas here.

**Easy example: Sony could have made an iPod-like device before Apple, if only they had seen which way the wind was blowing. They had years of research into suitable UIs and portable audio to draw upon.

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Dave 126
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Re: Bye, bye Apple...it was good (well, maybe) knowin' ya!

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switched_reluctance_motor

A 'digital' motor requires a good control system to operate, which in this day and age means solid state electronics.

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Getting metal hunks into orbit used to cost a bomb. Then SpaceX's Falcon 9 landed

Dave 126
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Re: Why the unnecessary snark?

Not jealousy, but thinking that if we were mega-rich we would prefer a couple of days in orbit instead of a few minutes in free-fall.

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Dave 126
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Re: Real numbers would be interesting

@Credas

Yes, the first stage will require more fuel, but fuel is only a tiny part of the cost of the launch. I was amazed when I learnt how little of the launch cost is fuel. Musk's approach is neatly outlined by this:

Musk reiterated the origin of the SpaceX production model, saying fuel is only 0.3 percent of the total cost of a rocket, with construction materials accounting for no more than 2 percent of the total cost, which for the Falcon 9 is about $60 million.

So, the obvious cost savings are to be made by i, making the vehicle more cheaply, and ii, reusing it.

Musk has made the vehicle cheaper to build by:

-using the same propellant in the upper and lower stages means that operationally, you only need to have one set of fuel tanks. If you can imagine a situation where you have a kerosene first stage, hydrogen upper stage, and solid rocket side boosters, you’ve just tripled your cost right there.

- the upper stage of a Falcon 9 is simply a short version of the first stage. That may seem pretty obvious, but nobody else does that. They tend to create upper stage in a totally different way than they create the first stage.

- The Merlin engine — we used it on the upper stage of Falcon 9, on the main stage of Falcon 9 and on the first stage of Falcon 1. So we get economies of scale in use of the Merlin engine.

-Our tanks are friction stir welded, [aluminum] skin and stringer designed as opposed to machined aluminum, [giving us] a 20 fold advantage in the cost of materials, and our stage ends up being lighter …because geometrically, we can have deeper stringers.

- https://www.pehub.com/2010/06/elon-musk-on-why-his-rockets-are-faster-cheaper-and-lighter-than-what-youve-seen-before/

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Dave 126
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Re: Very much agreed

Speaking of XKCD, after Bezos' Shepard landing, Elon musk tweeted a link to Mr Munroe's website:

- "Congrats to Jeff Bezos and the BO team for achieving VTOL on their booster"

- "It is, however, important to clear up the difference between "space" and "orbit", as described well by https://what-if.xkcd.com/58/ "

[ https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/669129347555430400 ]

He wasn't snarky, either.

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Surface Pro 4: Will you go the F**K to SLEEP?

Dave 126
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>How many mainstream laptops have 2k screens?

A few, from Lenovo and Toshiba amongst others. However, the Surface, and the Surface Book, have 3:2 aspect ratios which for some will be reason enough to buy them over the near ubiquitous 16:9. The only other option is 16:10 from Apple. Again, if I am wrong here, please pretty please post a link to a non 16:9 laptop!! Thanks!

Windows was a bit behind OSX in the way it dealt with UI scaling on very high res screens, but apparently it's good now. The issue is that some 3rd party software for Windows isn't fully civilised yet (Photoshop, I'm looking at you). This chicken and egg situation (why buy a pricey high res laptop if the software isn't ready, why rework the software if there are few customers) might explain why high-res Windows laptops aren't yet common.

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Dave 126
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Re: I'll pass

I can understand how those of you who write software or manage massive storage systems are dubious about things like the Surface Tablet. However, my car mechanic has been using touch-screen PCs since WinXP Tablet Edition. A lot of the automotive diagnostic software has had the option of a touchscreen interface for years.

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Death Stars are a waste of time – here's the best way to take over the galaxy

Dave 126
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Re: Ships building ships

I've read 'em. I still choose the 'Orbital' variant of the concept because the topic was a reason to rearrange the mass of a planet.

A Ringworld is roughly described by the orbit of the Earth, and provides about 300 million times the habitable surface area.

An Orbital doesn't encircle a sun, and provides around a 100 times the habitable surface of the planet whilst using less matter.

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Dave 126
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Re: Confused

You then instruct the 'missiles' to arrange themselves into a habitat of the shape and location of your choosing. That is, of course, if the 'command and control' systems haven't been borked in a copying error (mutation) over thousands of generations.

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Dave 126
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Re: Ships building ships

And Banks alludes to what can happen if those self-repair mechanisms go wrong (like cancer) - resulting in pesky swarms of tiny machines that would if left unchecked turn all available matter into replicas of themselves. The culture assign some ships to 'pest control' duties.

As others have noted, he didn't originate the concept.

In Star Wars, people live on planets. In the Culture books, the matter of a planet would support far more life if it were re-arranged into a ring-shaped Orbital habitat.

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Dave 126
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Are we talking about...

...Self Hemogenizing Swarms, as Iain M. Banks dubbed them? He also used the word 'Smatter' (Smart Matter, IIRC). Other people have used the terms 'Grey Goo', or 'Von Neumann Machines'.

I confess, I didn't read the article - I haven't seen the Force Awakens movie yet, and was scared off by the spoiler warning.

To others who haven't seen the movie, you should avoid Wired.com, since they have spoilers in their headlines.

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Hillary Clinton says for crypto 'maybe the back door is the wrong door'

Dave 126
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Alert

Dear fellow commentards...

... let's take five minutes and imagine a near future, a speculative fiction. Let us imagine a near-future in which the whole idea of encryption is irrelevant.

A future in which encryption doesn't matter because so much cctv and drone video footage is collected that the location and behaviour of every citizen is known in real time. In such a scenario the authorities would learn very little from reading (broken) encrypted messages over what they already knew by observing subjects directly.

If this fictional authority has a MagicTechnolgyMachine that stopped all bombs from exploding or guns from firing, it wouldn't need to read the emails of any potential terrorist.

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Dave 126
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Go

>*ANY* door is a problem, since the effect is the same. A door is a door. It doesn't matter if it's a back door, side door or front door.

Eh? What Vimes has just described is indistinguishable from running over your computer with a steam roller then throwing the remains into a volcano. There has to be *one* door, otherwise you are deleting your data instead of encrypting it. Perhaps you mean you just want a single door, but a door to which only you or your intended correspondent have the key?

I say that in a friendly way. If I come across as pedantic, it because the people who are against back-doors ( i.e. broken encryption) largely have facts and accuracy on their side - especially when compared to politicians!

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Newspaper kills 'what was fake' column as pointless in internet age

Dave 126
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Re: Pot Meet Kettle

Arm yourself with a working grasp of statistics, and read newspapers from different parts of the political spectrum, as well as more specialised publications (farming, engineering, science, sociology etc). Go to the pub and listen to people of different walks of life in various trades and professions. Remember that not everyone can afford to go the pub.

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Dave 126
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Re: In unrelated news...

It's a device to administer electroshock therapy to shell-shocked (post traumatic stress disorder) soldiers in World War One. Other doctors at the time advocated more discipline, or tried placing lit cigarettes on the restrained patient's tongue. Others doctors did try 'talking therapies'.

Today, we have more former servicemen in prison or who have committed suicide than the national average. Promising treatments for PTSD include gardening, and also the use of MDMA ('Ecstasy'), both combined with talking.

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Dave 126
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Re: "fake news has taken on a much more unpleasant tone...

Yep, the old 'echo chamber' effect. It can happen anywhere, even on the Reg at times.

I once had a thought pop into my head - a 'Siamese twin' of a newspaper, with two editors (one of a Guardian persuasion, for example, the other more Daily Mail) and two versions of each story, side by side. By being 'joined at the hip', contested issues *might* be thrashed out more intelligently. Maybe. Just an idle idea.

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Dave 126
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Re: There will be a re-adjustment (hopefully)

>A white list experience, will probably be the future for many users. With only accredited, script free sites getting onto the list, or perhaps, a heavily censured portal.

"a heavily censured portal." - effectively this describes paid magazine apps, especially on Apple platforms. I haven't been keeping abreast of how well this working financially for publishers.

Generally, the paying consumer gets less trash, but this is by no means guarenteed - 'paid for' dead-tree newspapers like the Telegraph have been naughty in letting their content be influenced by wider business concerns. What is my source for this accusation? Why, Private Eye, a 'paid for' dead tree-only magazine.

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How to build a real lightsabre

Dave 126
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Loved the mini-Lightsabre in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy film:

.... it's about 7" long, and slices bread from a loaf whilst simultaneously toasting it!

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Dave 126
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The light sabre effect is fairly easy to achieve using desktop-class hardware and software these days.

Get a broom handle and glue a table-tennis ball to the end as reference a reference point...

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Microsoft beats Apple's tablet sales, apologises for Surface 4 flaws

Dave 126
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Re: Peak Apple

That's a moot point, because the figures in the article are up to October and the iPad Pro was only sold from mid-November.

For digitiser sketching on the move, the only options are Wacom, MS or Apple... none are exactly cheap.

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Motorola’s X Force awakens a seemingly ‘shatterproof’ future

Dave 126
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The Z3 is a good phone but the official Sony case is rubbish and expensive - it doesnt protect one whole edge of the screen if you drop it when open.

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Dave 126
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Re: Broken iphone screens...

plastic screens scratch very easily, making the screen difficult to read in sunlight.

best current solution is probably to use an aftermarket - and user replaceable - mineral glass screen protector instead of the common plastic film protectors.

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Apple finally publishes El Capitan Darwin source

Dave 126
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'Darwin' underpins OSX, and Apple have always made it open source. However, it doesn't include lots of Apple's propriety OSX gubbins, such as the GUI elements, so it cannot run OSX applications.

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Google says its quantum computer is 100 million times faster than PC

Dave 126
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Re: Annealing???

Absolutely.

This technique's name is inspired by the metallurgic process of annealing to remove stress.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simulated_annealing

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Dave 126
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Re: sorry, not a geek but

@ WillbeIT

> sorry, not a geek

Don't worry! Quantum physics in general has confused and upset our greatest physicists - though real quantum effects have been used in what is now everyday technology. The jury has been out on this D-Wave machine for a little while, because of the difficulty in proving, or devising tests to prove, that it is faster than the 'classical computers' we use everyday. What D-Wave have never claimed is that their machine can perform Shor's Algorithm.... And this is important. Let's pause here a moment.

Quantum systems can exist such that all their particles are both ON and OFF at the same time ( I'm grossly oversimplifying here), so if it has enough 'quantum bits' (qbits) it could calculate every possible answer to a question at the same time, instead of trying one answer at a time like a normal computer would. The implications for breaking encryption are huge.

Our encryption is based on the difficulty of factorising very big numbers, but an algorithm for doining so quickly using (theoretical) quantum computers to do so has existed for years, and it is called Shor's Algorithm.

What D-Wave claim, and what Google believe they have a use for, is that their machine can find optimisations in quadratic equations.

tl;dr A future quantum computer has the potential to massively upset our computer encryption, but not one based on this machine. There has been a lot of debate amongst academics as to what exactly this machine is doing, but Google - the customer- seem happy with it.

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Now you can tailor Swift – Apple open-sources the whole shebang

Dave 126
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>The decision is a move away from the typical Apple approach of tightly controlling all its products

It's hardly unprecedented:

Apple made Webkit, ResearchKit and Darwin OS open source. FireWire used patents owned by quite a few companies, so wasn't Apple's to give away, but was available to any hardware maker that wanted to include it for less than a dollar per device.

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So why exactly are IT investors so utterly clueless?

Dave 126
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If Mr Dabbs is in need of catharsis, he could do worse than to watch Mike Judge's Silicon Valley:

http://www.hooli.xyz/#inspiration

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Mobe-maker OnePlus 'fesses up to flouting USB-C spec

Dave 126
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Re: I watched CSI Cyber

So that's what Led Zep's Lemon Song is about!

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Dave 126
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>ice theory, but this 'ere really good quality Sony cable will not charge the wife's crackberry, while a skinny, fourpenny fleabay job plugged into the same PSU will.

Is the cheap fleabay cable wired for data? Some devices will charge faster if they spot that the data pins are shorted, i.e they will only draw 500mA if they spot a data cable, since this was the spec for computer USB sockets. The Sony cables will be data cables. The fleabay cable might be power only. Newer devices will happily draw 1-2 A over a data cable, if the power supply is up to it. (Phones power supplies are typically 1.2A - 1.5A, tablet PSs are usually 2A)

Whilst it can be hard to spot which cables are of a decent gauge, short cables are obviously easy to identify.

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Lights, power, action! Smartplugs with a twist

Dave 126
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Trojan Room Coffee Pot

Said to be the first webcam. Nothing to do with malware. Or Trojans.

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Dave 126
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Re: sigh

>IoT is the new cocaine, something for those with far too much disposable income to waste their money on

I'd say that 'IoT' is the new late-1970s home microcomputer. Not really productive, expensive, interesting for some to play with. Those who do play with it might have a head start when it becomes mre mainstream.

As a concept it is mature in industry, in the homes of the stupidly wealthy (the high-end propriety stuff) and even in our cars (sensors and actuators on doors and windows, etc). Okay, these applications often use CANBUS or whatever and not IP, you get the idea... it's still packet-based with addressable modules.

In our homes it is in its infancy - often insecure, and the preserve of hobbyists as denoted by a 'special' aisle in Maplins.

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Dave 126
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>Butters both sides of both slices of bread.

I reckon if I took my RepRap 3D printer apart, I could probably achieve a good bit of that with the components. Extrude (one stepper motor) butter on the toast in an X-Y grid pattern ( another 2 stepper motors), leaving me one stepper motor left over. The bed of the 3D printer is heated....

Hmmm.... I'll go away and have a think about this.

Or..... Ryobi make a mastic gun that takes a 18v battery*.... could be re-purposed to apply cold butter to bread, methinks. It wouldn't be automatic, but it would be fun.

* Not completely stupid.... applying a long thin bead of a stiff mastic like polyurethane can be tiring.... if it was a job I did a lot I might consider one.

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Dave 126
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What custard said - you can imagine a company being wary of selling plugs that a user has to wire themselves. I'm sure most of you here are competent at it (Earth wire longer and with more spare than blue, blue longer and more spare than brown etc) but before moulded plugs with new kit was the norm the Consumer Association randomly tested plugs that had been wired by employees of high street retailers.... the results were scary.

Similar concerns about selling 'smart' power sockets to swap for the ones in your wall.

Selling a 'smart' kettle lead as a single unit would sidestep that concern....though it wouldn't make it any more useful.

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Dave 126
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Re: Utterly idiotic

Similar in spirit to Chondogu is the 1969 work by:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Carelman

The Book of Unfindable Objects.

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Outsourcer didn't press ON switch, so Reg reader flew 15 hours to do the job

Dave 126
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Re: Shirley...

Then the Zeroth Rule would be: Have you tried turning it on?

Also from the IT Crowd:

- So you want me to open your laptop for you?

- I would be beholden to you!

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What the world needs now is Pi, sweet $5 Raspberry Pi Zero

Dave 126
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Re: Interchangable micro-USB ports?

I don't know, but the nice big picture (link below) shows the PCB marked 'PWR IN' next to one microUSB port, and 'USB' next to the other. My guess is that PWR IN is only for power, but I'm not certain.

- http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2015-11/26/raspberry-pi-zero-launch

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Dave 126
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Re: Best of all it don't run windows

>"Charity as a business" is rarely as clear cut as finding some poor people and giving them some money,

You're right, I'm glad we agree. The Gates Foundation doesn't just dump money on existing charities - it has a very large lump of cash to begin with, so it can act more strategically. Take research into disease; often scientists don't know whether they will have funding one year to the next, so will be looking around for new jobs. If a research project has guaranteed funding for X years, as the Gates Foundation can provide, there is less turn-over of researchers.

I'm not saying it is perfect, or that it doesn't deserve to be criticised where appropriate, but it seems in general to be a good thing.

And yeah, MS products have caused me a silly amount of frustration over the years, through bugs and stupid decisions (and yeah, if I was a competitor to MS like Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net* who was shafted, I'd feel naffed off) but I'm in good health and mostly happy.

*http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net

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Dave 126
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Re: Best of all it don't run windows

You're correct, mea culpa, that should of course have been Gates' (possessive plural of Gates, i.e Bill and Melinda) not Gate's. I also made a couple of other typos, too. Ah well.

I was finished, but then I was asked a question, and gave an answer.

Anyway, my original point was merely that Bill Gates isn't going to lose sleep over the lack of Windows on the Pi Zero, as OP had suggested he might. I stand by that. Mine was clearly a comment about how he spends his time (objective), rather than his motives (subjective).

In any case, what is altruism? If one considers the wellbeing of one's children and grandchildren as being 'selfish' (survival of one's genes and all that), then acting to reduce disease and increase education globally is also selfish. It's just not stupid selfish.

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Dave 126
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Re: When I were a lad

>I looked forward to the floppy disk on Computer Shopper

-Oh we used to dream of a floppy disk! We had to to type in our games from the back of a magazine!

-Back of a magazine? Luxury! We had to punch our games into cards, and load them into the steam computer ten hours before we wanted to play, and then it would only run for two minutes before it crashed and burnt our house down.

-Aye, but if you try telling young people that today, they won't believe you.

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Dave 126
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The easy rule-of-thumb guide to whether a product is over priced is how much advertising they do. Gillette, and thus Gillette's customers, spend a shitload on TV advertising.

Of course, it is spread out over the number of customers....so say you see roughly the same number of glossy adverts for Ford Focus cars and for Alpha Romeos, yet on the road you see ten times as many Fords, you can estimate that a much larger chunk of the Alpha's price tag has been spent on marketing.

I use King of Shaves Azure blades (sadly discontinued and replaced by a much pricier version)- they work better than Gillette, yet are a 1/4 of the price, since they aren't advertised on television. I came to them because I had previously been impressed by King of Shaves shaving gel.

I wouldn't be surprised if Lidl or whoever offered some inexpensive yet just-as-good-as-Gillette razors - I'll have to try some out.

The onion knows it: http://www.theonion.com/blogpost/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades-11056

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.

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Dave 126
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Re: Best of all it don't run windows

>Altruist Bill is helping the poor?

That's a moot point AC, since the Mr Gates was only raised in this thread with regard to him being upset at Windows losing sales / market share.

But since you asked, the Gate's intention is give 95% of their wealth to good causes, and they have already donated £28 billion. Further more, the spending of this money can be planned for maximum impact, because unlike charities that ask for donation every year, there is already cash in the bank that be quickly mobilised in the event of a natural disaster.

>putting a sticking plaster on a wound stretching from head to toe is not the same as not wounding them in the first place.

Wow. So by your reasoning, helping millions of people be free of disease and malnutrition is a 'sticking plaster', and the damage to a few thousand engineers in rival software houses (plus frustration to millions of PC users) is a 'wound from head to toe'. Look, go in peace, read up, and reconsider your perspective.

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Dave 126
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Re: Overpriced

>Plus you have to add the cost of SD card, PSU, keyboard, mouse, USB hub, cables and cable adapters and most likely a WiFi module before you have anything really useful. So that's probably nearer £40 than £4

Informal Reg pole: How many of you here have these doodads already kicking around, taking up space in desk drawers and shoeboxes?

For those who don't, Pi are offering a pack containing a mini-HDMI to HDMI adaptor, micro-B USB to USB A female cable (OTG) and a 2x20 0.1" male GPIO header for a total of £4.

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Dave 126
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Re: Best of all it don't run windows

I don't think MS takes up much of Bill's time these days. He's spending his days looking at how to put his money to work improving the lives of people for whom even a $5 might be a bit of stretch.

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Dave 126
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Re: Pi vs Pie

A lot of headless hobbyist* applications are well served by Arduino boards of one flavour or another, whereas this is aimed at cheap coding - hence the HDMI.

I'm no expert, but trying to imagine the headless applications fpr the extra grunt the Pi provides over most Arduino boards.... object recognition for robots, maybe?

https://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/projects/raspberrypi/tutorials/robot/face_detection/

*headless hobbyist? His past-times included lion taming.

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Who's right on crypto: An American prosecutor or a Lebanese coder?

Dave 126
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Re: Bottom line is ...

>strong encryption exists, and is in the wild. There is absolutely nothing that worldwide.gov can do about it.

Hit you with spanners until you unlock it? (Apologies to XKCD)

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Suck it, Elon – Jeff Bezos' New Shepard space rocket blasts off, lands in one piece

Dave 126
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Re: Nouveau riche?

>I'd prefer to spend it on fast cars, booze, and fast women (

If you have billions of dollars, you'd struggle to spend it all that way, even if the cars were high class, the booze high performance, and the women triple-distilled.

You're correct that this didn't make orbit, but then it was never meant to. Still, baby steps and all that.

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Randall Munroe spoke to The Reg again. We're habit-forming that way

Dave 126
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No, pops, it's too risky! For all we know, there could be cubes in there the size of gorillas!

- The Simpson's Tree House of Horror, Homer3

Paralleling Mr Munroe's career path, a great number of The Simpson's writers hold maths or physics degrees: http://mathsci2.appstate.edu/~sjg/simpsonsmath/degrees.html

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Brit filmmaker plans 10hr+ Paint Drying epic

Dave 126
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Re: true suffering

>Most of the "drivers eye" "cab-view" films released on DVD for enthusiasts of such things are rated as what? Exempt? How does that work?

From the article:

"UK law ensures that, in effect, a film cannot be released in British cinemas without a BBFC certificate."

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How TV ads silently ping commands to phones: Sneaky SilverPush code reverse-engineered

Dave 126
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Re: Those frequencies are too high

NICAM was digital audio that accompanied analogue video broadcasts.

NICAM had an upper frequency limit of "15KHz due to anti-aliasing filters at the encoder" ( http://web.archive.org/web/20111017094248/http://stoneship.org.uk/~steve/nicam.html ), which might be where Richard got his figure from.

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