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* Posts by Kevin McMurtrie

654 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

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Nikon stretches Coolpix focal-range beyond belief

Kevin McMurtrie
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Meh

Hazy shade of gray

Nikon omits the aperture from their product specifications but "1:3-5.9" is on the barrel in their product views. I have lens that's f/5.6 at 300mm and I don't think this will work. f/5.9 isn't going to produce much sensor illumination for anything that isn't in unfiltered sunlight. The sensor will be running at maximum ISO and that won't produce a clear enough image to compensate for the large amounts of atmospheric haze to be expected at such a high zoom level.

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Ex-Apple engineer emits Zevo ZFS for Mac OS

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Mac OS X = Terminal

I see LOTS of developers using MacOS X. That catch is that they're writing, executing, and debugging platform independent code to eventually be deployed elsewhere. Mac OS X is like a modern day terminal - it's a human interface to large systems running other Unix variants. It was never a good fit for data and processing clusters and Apple has declared that it shouldn't be. It's odd that somebody would bring ZFS to Mac OS now, especially when 10.7's user-experience features consume resources like it owned the whole box. It better run a lot faster than HFS+ because bandwidth is all MacOS X needs.

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Two million-degree matter from SLAC laser

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

Anybody not wearing 2 million sunblock...

It's going to get messy when a military mounts this on a truck (or shark). IR lasers waste a lot of energy cutting a hole past the surface of targets. An x-ray laser would cook deeply through targets without needing power for melting or vaporization.

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Yahoo! cofounder! Jerry! Yang! quits!

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

No stranger to blacklists

Yahoo stopped being serious about their own spammers. Yahoo is easy for spammers to exploit yet nearly impossible for victims file a complaint. The rest of the world has responded by tuning Yahoo's spam scoring high into the false-positive range. Yahoo's attempts to expand beyond simple portal services can only fail because they can't reliably send e-mail anymore.

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Ferguson Hill FH009 home theatre system

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Engineering nightmare gets 80%

Fail 1: Acrylic turns cloudy and shatters when it absorbs oils. Touch those horns and the'll be destroyed in two years.

Fail 2: 65W with a thump and a hum? It sounds like they used the reference schematic for a cheap 5-pin amplifier chip. Both of those failures are caused by grossly asymmetric circuits and/or multiple signal grounds. Even in high school I could make a 100W amp that was perfectly hum-free and thump-free. It doesn't require muting or filtering - just a decently balanced circuit with a single audio ground.

Fail 3: How much copper for a measly 65W? Power semiconductors are fine running very hot. Keep them thermally isolated from the more sensitive components and you need very little cooling metal for 65W.

Fail 4: 50Hz cut-off? Was that an attempt to lessen the amp's line hum? That won't do for music, movies, or video games. I'm sure it sounds awesome with Skype.

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Apple's TV killer 'on shelves by summer 2012'

Kevin McMurtrie
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Meh

Direct to surplus

The original Macintosh TV was released when Apple was trying to maintain outrageous profit margins while having no justifying technical innovations. A TV hack was added to the "Performa" series of Macintoshes which, despite the clever name, was probably the poorest performing computer series that you could throw a heavy wad of cash at. As was then, Mr. Jobs is not leading Apple and here comes a rumor of another TV product. Surplus stores are probably freeing up shelf space right now.

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Another Alliance pushes into White Space

Kevin McMurtrie
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WTF?

Please send your answer to 'Old Pink'

Who uses these long range WiFi slots? The two or three local microwave ISPs are hardly crowding the airwaves. It doesn't seem that cellphone providers have run out of places to put antennas. Individuals rarely need to send WiFi long distances because there's no fat pipe for the upstream. ATSC TV channels are ~19Mbps - hardly exciting for public Internet connections. I see nothing but lawsuits and ownership battles over useless RF gaps coming from this. Leave it for TV.

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LOHAN fires up sizzling thruster

Kevin McMurtrie
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Need space for more thrust

That tiny jet of exhaust is probably creating a vacuum over the nozzle, like a venturi pump would. Since the nozzle cap has more surface area being sucked on than the jet has area being pushed on, atmospheric pressure is not in your favor. This rocket could chemically perform worse in space yet end up producing more thrust.

Pedantic science nazi: Why put the rocket in a sliding holder for a bathroom scale? Surely you could get the difference in measurements from before and during the test when the whole apparatus is on the scale. How much is a gram in space?

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Anti-piracy laws will smash internet, US constitution - legal eagles

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

Like the death of dialup

That should free up all of those TCP ports being used to slowly trickle data through American last-mile internet. Everybody wants the same data so lots of people with slow connections consume more resources than lots of people with fast connections. Sorry, I meant "series of tubes."

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2011's Best... DSLRs

Kevin McMurtrie
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The real dirt

I've been using DSLRs for a while and it doesn't matter whether the camera body is made of plastic or metal. For well made cameras, both body materials with outlast the digital technology by 10 years. The real longevity issue is with how well the camera is protected from dust. Any lens that changes size during use is inhaling and exhaling air from somewhere. Dust coming with that air can cause glare in the lens, confuse focus sensors, and wear away mechanical parts.

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FCC (finally) cracks down on BLARING! TV! ADS!

Kevin McMurtrie
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AC-3 audio

Between the encoded amplitude and the Dialnorm metadata, this should be quite confusing to enforce.

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World's biggest music streaming service launches - for tech idiots

Kevin McMurtrie
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Thumb Up

Artist:____ Album:_____ Track:____

I already have the music I like so I'm looking for music that I don't know about; I need a replacement for pathetic FM radio stations. That's where I found Spotify to be frustrating. The first thing it did when launched was ask me what song to play. I could pick a familiar song and have it play it at an inferior bitrate with no EQ. Then I had to pick another song to end the silence. It was boring and tedious after 30 minutes. It's nice to tell a service what you like and have it make some educated guesses. I'm using Pandora now and would welcome other options.

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UltraViolet: Hollywood's giant digital gamble is here

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Got wrong which part was wrong

The music industry eventually got it right when they ditched DRM. History is full of DRM scams that quit working because hardware changed, a database was abandoned, or a rights manager went out of business. I won't touch DRM unless the media is so cheap that I'm fine with it playing only once.

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NASA confirms first Earth candidate in habitable zone

Kevin McMurtrie
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Paris Hilton

Big blue dip

It's Monday and my head is foggy, but how exactly do artists crank out these conceptual images from star illumination dips? Can I write a program that turns coordinates, star charts, and illumination dip data into a money making planet painter?

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Happy birthday, Apple QuickTime

Kevin McMurtrie
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Mushroom

No streaming

Let me say that the QuickTime/MPEG4 container sucks. It has scalability problems because the structural and informational data atom 'moov' and the codec data atom 'mdat' can not be interleaved. A compressor must write to separate moov and mdat files until the end of the audio/video is reached, append the mdat atom to the moov atom, then re-index the moov atom to reflect the new data offsets in the mdat atom. Alternatively, the compressor can pre-allocate some space for a moov atom and hope it doesn't run out before compression finishes. A decompressor must buffer all moov atom before it can play anything from the mdat atom. In other words, it's not actually streaming. It's a total pain in the ass. This is why video cameras producing MPEG4 files are limited to a few minutes of operation at a time. This is why phones have trouble playing long QuickTime movies even if they have hardware acceleration.

The real kick in the nuts is QuickTime X. It was Apple's chance to drop all of the legacy baggage but the first step was using the ancient QuickTime container. There's nowhere for it to go now. It can't properly support streaming files like MPEG2 or AVCHD.

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Baby-kissers battle over what to do with White Spaces

Kevin McMurtrie
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Drooling telcos

Telcos buy more spectrum for overpriced services while competition to their overpriced cable TV services goes off the air. I'm all for going to purely IPTV, but not until the US has respectable Internet delivery. Comcast is the only combined TV/Internet service in town. Their contract is that you pay them lots of money and they guarantee nothing. You can upgrade to business-class service, pay them more, and they still guarantee nothing. It makes ADSL2+ and a rooftop antenna look pretty good.

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Does your smartphone run Carrier IQ? Find out here

Kevin McMurtrie
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Big Brother

Fortress for meh bunny rabbits

It can not be uninstalled. It can not be turned off. It can not be killed. It fakes it death in the service manager when manually stopped. Surely it's nothing important at all.

Dan Rosenberg is likely right but I'd like the option to kill it. Superfluous features are the first target of a hacker.

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BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps

Kevin McMurtrie
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Big Brother

All ur data is privates now

My Sprint Galaxy SII 4G pretends to let you kill the application but 'top' shows that it's still running. Nice trick. Maybe I'll have a chat with Sprint.

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Google researchers propose fix for ailing SSL system

Kevin McMurtrie
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Big Brother

Google to the rescue

Google proposes another technical solution that can only be implemented by Google hosting massive amounts of data for customers interact with in revealing ways. This one is even better than Google's whitespace WiFi solution, where all access points must query a database (Google & friends) for unused frequencies using their GPS coordinates.

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Future of computing crystal-balled by top chip boffins

Kevin McMurtrie
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Unhappy

Big hot throbbing x86 forever

Intel would rather battle the laws of physics than create a new instruction set? No wonder there's so much research using different CPUs, GPUs, and DSPs. The science behind low-level software must evolve too. One thing that's sorely lacking is executing parallel tasks with low latency. Researchers, compiler designers, and game developers could probably rattle off a dozen other areas where low-level software hasn't kept up.

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Ten... Monster tellies

Kevin McMurtrie
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10-1

No reception tests? Has the UK abandoned sending TV over the air? It was only a few years ago that most ATSC tuners were running buggy MPEG2 decoders downloaded off the 'net that would crash on a little multipath distortion.

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Samsung strokes big bulb that'll keep going for decades

Kevin McMurtrie
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WTF?

Dim one and bright zero

A digital technology LED lamp? The LEDs are analog and, in fact, much more efficient when they're getting less than 100% maximum current. The switching power supply is an analog computer that tunes the pulse width of an oscillator driving a low-pass filter.

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New 'plasma lamps' to replace fluorescent bulbs, LEDs

Kevin McMurtrie
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Zap!

This is interesting technology but I wonder about longevity. Plasma isn't known for being kind to its surroundings. Can they seal the the micro-cavities so well that a flaw doesn't result in a tiny moving burn that slowly consumes the panel? If so, I have a lot of unreliable CCFLs that I'd like to banish from my house.

Comparisons to LEDs are always a tricky topic because the efficiency drops rapidly as the input power is increased. For a required amount of light there's a tradeoff between adding more LEDs to reduce heating or adding more cooling to reduce the LEDs. 120+ lumens per watt would be trivial if the high cost of LEDs wasn't influencing that tradeoff.

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Cryptocard gobbles tasty, dead number puzzle startup

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

I guess 7683. I guess 7683. I guess 7683. Yeah!

Here I was thinking that I'd need a counter variable in my h4ck3rz script to iterate through all four digit passwords, but then I watched the video again. The password is single-use and changes every time. That means I can guess the SAME 4 digit password over and over and it will eventually be correct by luck. Win!

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Mysterious sat-pic China desert markings - EXPLAINED

Kevin McMurtrie
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Or not craters

The painter went around small rocks that were too big to pick up and sloppily covered the tops of larger rocks that could be walked on.

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Google will ignore your Wi-Fi router ... if you rename it

Kevin McMurtrie
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Big Brother

Mmmmm... Beacon

Set the 'Beacon Interval' to about 1000ms and the Googly snoops will have a hard time seeing idle access points from a moving vehicle. It saves battery power on WiFi-assisted cellphones too. The only downside is erratic packet latency.

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Advertiser settles charges for use of Adobe Flash cookies

Kevin McMurtrie
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Flame

Welcome to bull 2.0

They will use the same trick as any filthy marketing company: rapidly rotating opt-outs. You opt-out of 'X', that confirms your account as active, and feature 'Y' debuts next week with you automatically opted-in. Only a firewall rule or a stronger lawsuit ends the cycle.

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5 SECONDS to bypass an iPad 2 password

Kevin McMurtrie
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iOS, MacOS X, and Android

The problem is that the lockout app launches when the device is awakened, not when the device becomes idle. That creates an opportunity for things to go wrong. I've had my Macbook Pro and Galaxy SII run for several seconds unprotected because the lockout application's launch was delayed by heavy filesystem I/O.

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Spamhaus and ISP spar over 'email DoS' blacklisting

Kevin McMurtrie
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Fixed it

A2B posted the full conversations with Spamhaus on their web site, along with their reports of criminal activity. I have to partially agree with A2B - It's not right for me to let Spamhaus choose whether or not A2B mail is blocked. I need a permanent blacklisting in my local deny list.

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Big Dane study finds no mobe cancer link

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

People who wear clothes no different from general population

"...and compared them against a sample of 3.2 million of the general population." What's the difference people who have phones and the general population? Probably not much today.

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LG LSM-100 Mouse Scanner

Kevin McMurtrie
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Facepalm

LG's Apple love & hate

Go to LG's product page and click on the FEATURES tab. I see an Apple keyboard, an old iMac, and a MacBook Pro demoing the product. Click on the SPECIFICATIONS tab. It requires Window XP/Vista/7.

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New RAM shunts data into flash in power cuts

Kevin McMurtrie
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Alert

ad/$x]72r NO CARRIER

What about the stream of garbage coming off the CPU as the power fades? What about partially completed operations? It seems like the motherboard will also need a bank of ultra-caps so it can tidy up the RAM to a state that can be understood when power is restored.

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Motorola sharpens smartphones with revamped Razr

Kevin McMurtrie
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Kevlar is UV sensitive and has a fleshy translucency. Both problems are commonly solved by making it black.

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ITU heralds ultra-high def TV progress

Kevin McMurtrie
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Compression

There are few conditions where you can get 7680 × 4320 sharp pixels through a lens. It's a tradeoff between depth of field, diffraction, and random noise. The director of the video is also manipulating image focus and detail to direct your point of attention. In the end there aren't very many high contrast moving pixels. It's possible that H.265 squeezes a decent looking 8K x 4K video into the 15Mbps stream used by MPEG2 now.

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Pumped-up radio telescope seeks new moniker

Kevin McMurtrie
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Coat

ELVAS has left the galaxy

Extremely Large Variable Array Sensor

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Cambridge Audio iD100 hi-fi dock

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

Composite video

Is analog video the new retro-tech that makes audiophile equipment sound better?

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'Angry Bird in the Sky' spotted by astronomers

Kevin McMurtrie
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Coat

Just ate chicken for dinner

http://www.pixelmemory.us/Misc/angry_bird_space.jpg

And it's coming for me.

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Netflix: How to completely screw up

Kevin McMurtrie
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What would you like to watch again?

It's studios, not the price hike that killed Netflix. Netflix's selection of new streaming releases has gone from slim to almost none this year. Browse the new release section on their home page to see how bad it is. The price hike for disc renters only concentrated an exodus that was inevitable. I never rented discs but I left for lack of there being anything new to watch.

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Google's Native Client goes live in Chrome

Kevin McMurtrie
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Cyanide

The C and C++ languages are not safe. It's their binding to low-level operations that lets them be fine tuned for performance. To suggest that a compiler can make C/C++ both safe and efficient is absurd. Lots of people would love to get their hands on such a piece of magic.

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Diebold demos cloud-based ATM

Kevin McMurtrie
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WTF?

Go BIONIC

What hardware-intensive number crunching is being offloaded from an ATM? The part where it subtracts 200 from 5820.39?

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Google might shun Dutch gov certificates from DigiNotar

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Already there

A certificate authority that handles breaches slowly isn't much use.

MacOS:

Open the utility 'Keychain Access', click the padlock icon to authenticate as an admin, select the category 'Certificates', search for DigiNotar, select the certificate, and hit delete.

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Sony preps Luke Skywalker-style digital binoculars

Kevin McMurtrie
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Thumb Down

Does it record to Betamax or VHS tapes?

This proves that Sony is harnessing the power of time travel to design their products. Too bad they stole a prototype from 10 years ago. Next time they should try traveling forwards a bit so they have a product with proper stereo imaging, a microphone that aims forwards, magnification better than squinting, and something higher tech than an MPEG encoder. Where's the night vision? What about the pulsed laser trick that the military uses to find people looking back at you? How about compensating for atmospheric distortion?

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iPHONE 5 SHOCK! US Apple store 4G kit-fit snapped

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

Googorola and App-Mobile

Or Apple is buying T-Mobile because Google bought Motorola.

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IBM PC daddy: 'The PC era is over'

Kevin McMurtrie
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FAIL

Evolving, not dead

The big desktop computer isn't going anywhere but its form and uses will change. Socializing, communications, and information have been moving to small portable devices while desktops become more tools. There's ALWAYS a professional job that requires more power. There's ALWAYS a game that requires more power. There will ALWAYS be tasks where a tablet/laptop is not ergonomically matched for interaction. Even if telcos become saints and upgrade your stone-age wires, there will still be tasks where speed of light latency costs more than buying local computer. I wouldn't expect the desktop to lose its cables any time soon either. It could be decades before WiFi signals can be encoded in a way that is both fast and reliable.

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Apple eyes phallic iPhone, iPod charger

Kevin McMurtrie
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Thumb Down

iHassle

This can only work if the earbuds electrically touch the iThing. (If not, the field on the way out to the buds and on the way back to the jack match and cancel out). This is dumber and more cumbersome than simple designs that directly touch electric wires to a device.

Maybe you can wind and unwind the earbuds on the magno-pole a few dozen times while you're waiting for iTunes to stop hanging.

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Nearly everyone in SOUTH KOREA HACKED IN ONE GO

Kevin McMurtrie
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WTF?

Network registered to asdfasdf

Who hasn't received 35 million spams and hacking attempts from Korea's poorly maintained networks? Only a fool would think that there ever was any security there. There must be something political behind announcing a breach now.

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Head fed cyberspook resigns abruptly

Kevin McMurtrie
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Trollface

419

He just inherited $60 million from a Nigerian prince so there's no need for him to keep his day job.

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Energy scavenger eats leftover wireless signals

Kevin McMurtrie
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Facepalm

Tune higher

There are already devices that can turn a few hundred THz into a tiny amount of power - solar cells.

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Panasonic TX-P65VT30 65in plasma 3D TV

Kevin McMurtrie
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Facepalm

600 hurts my eyes

The 600Hz "sub-field drive" is the dithering rate that's an artifact of plasma technology. It's not a good thing to have, but a higher number reduces the likelihood of visible flickering on some shades and colors. At least in older models, the built-in Pandora viewer is one of those flickering shades.

You can photograph the sub fields using a sensitive DSLR camera. It's looks very strange.

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Apple iMac 27in

Kevin McMurtrie
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Keyboard

Yes, the keyboard is crap. I use one for my server but would never tolerate it's clumsy feel for daily use. If you accept that it's crap, you can now accept the solution to its wobble without cringing: Bend it. Yep. It's mostly aluminum and you can bend it to fit your desk.

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