* Posts by Eddie Edwards

978 posts • joined 16 Oct 2007

Microsoft raises 'state of the art' son of NTFS

Eddie Edwards

I believe alpha-blended clocks are a different department to bleeding-edge kernel file systems. Although it could all just be Billy G doing a lot of late nights :)

Wikipedia to shut down Wednesday in SOPA protest

Eddie Edwards

Are you going to take an unpaid day off work, or are you pro-SOPA too?

Xbox 720 to double-up as a DVR

Eddie Edwards
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Point of order: America operates on the "first to invent" basis, rather than the "first to file" basis, so Sony's release of a product one year after filing *is* relevant; they were working on it back in 1995.

PayPal dispute ends in 'violin destruction'

Eddie Edwards

Your latter sentence resonates with me. Twice over Christmas I was told by online services that items delivered had been signed for by Edwards. My girlfriend signed for one (surname not Edwards) and my neighbour took another one (surname not Edwards either). In the latter case I spent an hour on the phone and an hour trawling the street to find the bloody thing.

So I wouldn't take a delivery company saying something was signed for by me as proof that it was actually delivered.

That Brit-built £22 computer: Yours for just £1,900 or more

Eddie Edwards

Oh the irony

Another typical mistake engineers make is to assume that people involved in a venture who are about to release product must be idiots that don't know what they're doing, on the basis of a few trivial insights they have into manufacture which no one else could possibly grasp, and without even seeing the *quotes* which these guys have no doubt been mulling over for months.

The £35 price tag does seem unlikely, yes, but since it's the whole point of the project, I would assume the management is just a little bit further along in their thinking than a schoolchild who doesn't know the difference between ordering in 1000s and 100,000s.

Arcade emulator MAME slips under Apple radar

Eddie Edwards
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Well if it got through the approval process despite being, you know, *MAME*, then maybe Apple are tolerating this kind of thing now.

AFAICT from the contract, as long as it doesn't allow you to download ROMs, but only copy them in (which can be done using iTunes, BTW) then it should be OKish, apart from the obvious "incitement to copyright infringement" thing.

Interesting because I have a GTA Radio player which I'd like to put up but this would rely on the same basic mechanism - copy the files from the GTA disc to the phone using iTunes, in technical violation of copyright. Hmm, Christmas project? :)

Anyway, thanks for the heads up. Downloading iMAME right now ...

Latest El Reg project: Rise of the Robot Sheep

Eddie Edwards
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Can't you take a roomba and add some kind of internal blade thingy to make it cut grass?

Gov unveils plans to make tax-funded research freely accessible

Eddie Edwards
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Publication *where* is the issue; I don't know how much research you do online but the dreaded pay gate rears its head a lot. Taxpayer-funded research should be available to all for free.

Secondly, it's my understanding that most of these spin-off companies begin by patenting the methods which the taxpayer paid to develop. The opportunities to exploit research which the taxpayer funded should be open to all. You and I should be able to compete using the same basic research.

I'm not sure of the exact situation in the UK since most of the interesting research comes <ahem> from the US where the situation is very different. I might be talking balls.

Nissan Leaf battery powered electric car

Eddie Edwards
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Interesting figures

Interesting figures. It all seems to break down as follows:

1 kWh of household gas = 1 unit of price

1 kWh of household electricity = 3 units of price (gas electricity generators are 33% efficient)

1 kWh of petrol = 3 units of price (1 unit of raw material cost, 2 units of tax)

So an electric car seems to match with a petrol-driven car on price only because petrol is heavily taxed and household electricity is not. Any difference is marginal so a better petrol engine might beat a worse electric engine, or vice versa, as you say.

Now let's look at CO2 production (roughly):

1 kWh of household gas = 1 unit

1 kWh of household electricity = 3 units (33% efficiency on burning gas)

1 kWh of petrol = 1 unit

So if you want to use a lot of energy (e.g. by driving) then an electric car is 3x worse for the environment than a petrol car.

Now let's look at taxation (with heavy rounding):

1 kWh of household gas = 0.1

1 kWh of household electricity = 0.3

1 kWh of petrol = 2

So electric cars manage to increase CO2 output by three times while slashing fuel tax revenues by 6 times. Brilliant outcome!

(Yes, I'm aware that I am assuming that electricity is generated by burning gas. This may not be 100% true for all electricity, but it is 100% true for the *extra* electricity needed for powering extra things like electric cars, as there is no spare renewable capacity.)

Nvidia ditches homegrown C/C++ compiler for LLVM

Eddie Edwards
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No, Gupta gets it. You don't.

The GNU compiler collection is a monolithic POS. The new LLVM paradigm is different, maybe not from a strict computer science point of view, but from a practical point of view it's like night and day.

Clang is a nicely-written C/C++/ObjC compiler, written in a modern language, using modern techniques. There are detailed instructions for adding your own keywords. If you've tried to modify gcc you'll know that gcc is ... not like that.

LLVM is a very cool piece of middleware that takes a universal IL and either interprets, JITs or compiles it, onto a wide variety of platforms. There are directions for retargetting it. Once again, doing the same kind of job in gcc is a lot harder. Even though in principle gcc has the same kind of flexible architecture, in practice it's highly monolithic.

Also, Clang outperforms gcc by 3x (compile-time), and LLVM outperforms gcc by 10-20% (runtime).

The GNU toolchain is on its way out, and for good reason. All hail nVidia for speeding up the process.

(PS: Hand-massaging assembler is neither cost-effective nor maintainable. I can't remember the last time I saw someone tweak the assembler output of a tool - maybe 1995? There is some assembler coding going on still, but pros are mostly optimizing things at the memory heirarchy level because the compilers have been good enough at the instruction level since gcc 4, and saving a cycle to lose it again on a stalled cache read is a non-win. I haven't written or modified any assembler for years, despite working directly in the low-level code optimization space.)

Jedi light-sabre beats Taser in Oregon parking-lot fracas

Eddie Edwards

Resisting being tasered is not the same as resisting arrest.

Grand Theft Auto 3 fires towards fondleslabs

Eddie Edwards

Does anyone play these?

I'd drop £3 for the novelty value, but I'd never finish the game with those controls. Does anyone here actually play through games like this on iPhone? How do you avoid dropping the iPhone the whole time while holding it and using both thumbs? Am I just an old codger who doesn't get it? (I used to get it, but then "it" changed, and what I got wasn't "it" any more.)

How to get a top 10 iOS app: a Wednesday launch in Italy

Eddie Edwards
Paris Hilton

Iron Maiden

Reminds me of when Iron Maiden released "Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter" the week after Xmas and hit number 1 since no one bought singles the week after Xmas.

They were trumped by Enigma two weeks later and never returned to #1.

(Paris, because she's no maiden and I doubt she can iron.)

Microsoft adds iPhones to SkyDrive party guest list

Eddie Edwards


So is there an API for this so apps can load/save to Skydrive or is it just an app to let you browse files with no hope of using them? Couldn't get much from the links. The former makes it at least interesting. Anyone know, or even have a link to the iOS SDK download?

The moment a computer crash nearly caused my car crash

Eddie Edwards

How do you normally drive?!

"That computer has legitimately saved my life on more than one occasion."

I wonder how many other lives your traction control has saved. My computer's allowed me to avoid a low-speed shunt on a couple of occasions, but if it ever saved my life I'd be taking a cold hard look at the way I drive.

Dermandar Panorama

Eddie Edwards
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Surprised at 80%

Given the poor quality of the produced panoramas (discontinuous kerb slopes, blurring of bricks and windows) I'm surprised this gets 80%. It seems to me that the devs are using the gyroscope as a hack to help them fix a poor-quality seaming algorithm. Considering what could be done with a proper understanding of the mapping from pixel to ray and using the gyroscope and accelerometer data to improve the matching process (i.e. SLAM), this seems like more of a novelty item.

There are dozens of panorama apps on the iPhone which achieve similar quality, and most of them are free.

Brits turned off by Smart TVs

Eddie Edwards

Depends how smart

It depends how "smart" the TV is.

If it shows the entire C4 back catalogue, like the 4oD website does, then gimme. It's a mine of awesome comedy shows.

If it just shows a selection from the last few weeks, like my PS3 already does, then don't bother. I don't need to pay good money for another crippled piece of tech.

CERN: 'New physics starts now'

Eddie Edwards
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Very cool

Lovely explanation; now please do one for quantum computing :) The new chip is way more interesting than the fact that the Higgs boson still hasn't been discovered but it's still where they thought it was in the summer :)

As for the Standard Model, it's pretty much known to be incorrect. Not only does it exclude gravitons or any other form of gravity, it also fails to explain dark matter and/or dark energy. So finding the Higgs shows the SM is consistent, but not that it's correct :)

Strictly Come Dancing in 3D: the facts

Eddie Edwards

Shame you didn't answer my favourite question about BBC One HD, which is why the hell can't they show SD programs on the same channel where HD is unavailable, instead of making me switch back to BBC One (not HD)? Sky One HD manages this amazing technical feat quite well.

Learning about chip design from Silicon Roundabout

Eddie Edwards
IT Angle

Prince Andrew?

Prince Andrew? It looks more like Neil Tennant.

Love the Register's new gossip column.

2011's Best... Games

Eddie Edwards


I'm in two minds about this, and please bear in mind that I used to *work* at Naughty Dog, so any bias should be positive :)

The game is beautiful, and a joy to behold. But how much actual *gameplay* does it contain? Apart from the sporadic gunfights, and a bit of climbing, the puzzles are pretty much "find the right place to stand so the X icon appears, or failing that the help icon", and huge swathes of the game have no interaction at all other than the odd button press to keep things moving. Almost nowhere do you have the experience of failing to complete a mission first time (on "normal" difficulty) except later in the game the last few gunfights seem to suddenly get much harder.

Naughty Dog really have done a great job of merging a film and a video game - the characterization is better than many recent AAA movies, and the set pieces are incredible - but I do wish they'd add more gameplay back in to the whole thing.

Uncharted 2 seemed to be the pinnacle of this series, like you say - I don't remember feeling so much like I was watching a movie rather than playing a game. With UC3 it's like they focus-tested the challenge out.

Now, I'm very excited about Last of Us - an adult-oriented Naughty Dog game should be amazing - but I'm worried that it may contain too little real gameplay. I do hope they figure something out.

Bristol boffins bring qubit computing a tiny step closer

Eddie Edwards
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Better explanation?

So this, to me, is the kind of tech that makes quantum computing seem less like ivory tower bullshit and more like coming soon awesomeness.

But the field has moved far enough that the jargon used to simply explain what the hell this thing actually does is out of my league.

Has anyone found a nice article that goes further than reporting this, and tries to explain what exactly it can do; what all these various entangled qubit pairs and single mixed qubits are good for; and where the chip really places us w.r.t. the ability to construct a useful quantum computer that can, say, factorize a 4096-digit number?

I get the feeling this is kind of the "programmable logic cell" of quantum computing (like the 4-bit LUTs inside FPGAs). So it may be really straightforward to couple lots of these together and make something that works. But it would be awesome to get some detail on that and maybe a hint that the design rules from hereon might be simple enough for normal people (with math degrees) to grasp :)

Carol singers rejoice at pay-by-tap credit card donations

Eddie Edwards
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Plenty to gain

The customer may not gain anything, but the customers behind him in the queue will. Either time, since he's paying quicker, or his credit card details, if they have an NFC skimmer.

Next Dr Who game to leave Xboxers in the cold

Eddie Edwards
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Shame Sony snuck in and got the exclusive, but hey, we can't expect the BBC to favour license payers over commercial interests. Glad for my PS3 :) Although all we've seen is a hastily-constructed promo video, and it takes longer than a year to add "photo-real graphics and television-quality scenes" especially if you're a minor developer. Maybe in 2014, or maybe it will suck just like every other Dr Who game has. I smell a low budget, even if Sony are involved. Still, staying hopeful ...

Griffin iTrip Dual Connect car kit for iPhone

Eddie Edwards

Sorry, it is at least plausible

A bit of Googling shows that Cambridge Audio do a digital audio interface on the dock connector so this is in fact possible, although still rather unlikely on a £40 ICE product that never mentions it in the marketing materials.

Shame the pinouts on the net don't show how this digital output is accessed. Anyone know, or is this MFi-confidential? ;)

Eddie Edwards

Digital audio out now on the iPhone? Really?

"Using the Dock connector means that iTrip handles the digital/audio conversion"

Er, does it? Are you sure you didn't just give a glowing review to a £40 device because it can perform the function of a £2 cable?

Is there any evidence that the *digital* audio output of the iPod is available on the dock connector, as opposed to the easily-grabbed line outs (which are not properly shielded)?

There's no mention of any built-in DAC in the website for this device http://store.griffintechnology.com/itrip-dualconnect.

Netflix set to make your video history public

Eddie Edwards


What, is she an android or something?

Carrier IQ VP: App on millions of phones not a privacy risk

Eddie Edwards

You don't think the ability for the operator to diagnose user problems benefits the consumer?

Geek seeks cash for Top Trumps-style CPU game

Eddie Edwards

Odd choice of CPUs

I would have thought he'd go for more nostalgia. It's mostly Intel and AMD x86 parts. No ARM done.

Still it does show that Kickstarter is an effective way to get pre-orders (and publicity!) He's well on the way in only 2 days.

Supermassive surprise: the biggest black holes EVER

Eddie Edwards

Actually El Reg is correct

So if someone says "a circle with the area of a pound coin" and someone else says "a circle with the radius of a pound coin", it's ambiguous how large the circle is? :p

It certainly isn't clear what Berkeley mean by "the solar system" though; El Reg is at least more precise.

Wolfram Alpha says the radius of the event horizon is 3x10^13 m (http://www.wolframalpha.com/input/?i=event+horizon+10000000000+solar+mass - isn't Alpha awesome?)

It says pluto's orbital radius is 6x10^12 m. So El Reg has got this EXACTLY CORRECT at five times the radius of pluto's orbit.

Incidentally, Wolfram also says that 10000000000 solar masses is the theoretical limit on the possible size of a black hole, which is interesting.

UK.gov to require you to opt out of data-sharing plan with drug firms

Eddie Edwards


No need to worry! The data is being anonymized! This means they will remove your name, but include your age and postcode (no shit).

Potential ALIEN LIFE habitats FOUND ON MOONS

Eddie Edwards
Eddie Edwards

Who defines life as that? There is no widely acknowledged shared definition of the term. Some people don't even define biological viruses as life, merely as replicators, so saying self-copying computer programs are alive seems to be a stretch to the point of romanticism. The mighty Wikipedia lists 7 characteristic of living things; only one or perhaps two are shared by computer viruses.

Voyager probe reaches edge of Solar System's 'bubble'

Eddie Edwards

Overblown much? :p

"For the past 22 years they have been not merely space probes but star probes"

That's like saying when I'm in my garden I'm visiting my neighbour's house. They're still WAY closer to the sun than to any other star.

Also, her 39-year mission? When launched in 1977? Someone needs a new calculator.

Still, it's amazing that the probe is still functioning after 34 years, and the timeline (Voyager was launched when I was 5, and I just celebrated my 40th birthday) really gives you a sense of how big space is, when it's not even out of the vicinity of the sun after all this time!

Dead at 13: Napster 1998-2011

Eddie Edwards
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The principle of copyright is, like it or not, hundreds of years old. It is more a part of our "culture" than whatever zeitgeisty pop rubbish 90% of people were using Napster to "share". People will look back at Napster and shake their heads sadly that the public took so much from the artists, and gave nothing in return, based on a whole slew of hokey self-serving excuses such as yours. Especially, people will look back at this time as the time that the word "sharing" ceased to mean giving up a part of what you have to benefit another, and began to mean redistributing stolen digital assets.

Quantum computing comes closer as diamonds get spooky

Eddie Edwards

Not necessarily

This isn't necessarily possible. Firstly, it's not "any effect", it's that measurements on each particle have to be consistent with their entangled nature, which seems to imply some kind of FTL communication (or else hidden variables). However, it doesn't automatically provide a usable FTL communication channel; since you have no control over *how* the measurements come out.

iPhone 4S owners love Siri, hate the battery life

Eddie Edwards


"What do you like best about your iPhone 4S"

Total of all responses: 222%.

Shame the Reg missed out the next question on the survey. It's a corker:

"Do you trust statistics compiled from incoherent surveys?"

Yes: 80%

No: 80%

Not sure: 50%

Eddie Edwards

"third-party apps appeal to only 13 per cent of them."

That's the kind of figure that makes you think, "what were the questions, exactly?"

PROVEN: Violent video games mess with your head

Eddie Edwards

Rik is a troll and this story is stupid

What is this, the Daily Mail? The stupid, it hurts ...

Man uses CAT scanner to copy Stradivarius

Eddie Edwards

No, it's not.

The End of Free: Web 2.0 will squeeze punters rotten

Eddie Edwards

Web utopians

Of course, it's possible that the real "web utopians" are the people that think Facebook is so valuable that people will pay extra for it.

It's just possible that Facebook is free today because free is its actual value. I'm certainly not seeing anything about the concept of "price elasticity" in Orlowski's latest pro-corporate piece - the idea that once you start charging more, you lose customers. Price elasticity is generally considered as a function of price ratio, and guess what? A ratio of N:0 is infinite.

Of course, email and Facebook etc. *do* have value. That value can neatly be summed up, as it's the figure I'm already paying to my ISP, in return for which I can access them.

Another thing to think about is that Facebook is all user-generated content. So the day they start charging us to access the content is the day they're also going to have to start paying us for providing the content. Net result?

Best Buy fires parting shot at Dixons with closing down sale

Eddie Edwards

Important note

Don't buy the extended warranty :)

The BBC Micro turns 30

Eddie Edwards


Yes, indeed, I cut my teeth on the Dragon 32. It wasn't until years later I realized how awesome the 6809 was compared to the 6502, with it's actual 16-bit index registers.

What do you think of this part then:

"School playgrounds quickly polarised into BBC – or 'Beeb' – and Spectrum camps, with the odd folk with Dragon 32s, Oric 1s, Texas Instruments TI-949/4As, Commodore VIC-20s and, later, 64s, oscillating between the two groups."

For my money, the Dragon users knew the Spectrum was a POS and dreamed of having a BBC, but hey, trying to make the Dragon do things the BBC could do (like 4-channel music) was a great learning experience!

Don't suppose you ever played Space Trek did you? :)

The TARDIS through the ages

Eddie Edwards

Enormous flight deck

The enormous flight deck was introduced with Paul McGann's doctor (that Americanized single-episoder is still officially part of the mythos!). It's about the only part of that reimagining that stuck.

YaCy takes on Google with open source search engine

Eddie Edwards


"Users download the software and act as peers for search, ensuring that no content can be censored and no search results can be recorded and analyzed on central servers."

Yay, because that's exactly the features that corporations want on intranet search.


Moviemakers on a quest for their real-time 3D Holy Grail

Eddie Edwards
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Double workload?

Actually, it should triple the workload. You render the 3D eye-views (x2) then you render the 2D view.

Except, clearly you don't always. Arthur Christmas in 2D had these hideous jittering artifacts that I can only put down to coming from some fucked up reconstruction of the 2D movie from the 3D sources. Starts at frame #1, if you're on the lookout for it. I would have walked out if I wasn't there with 8-year-old in tow (who hates 3D - good taste).

Seriously, Hollywood, sort your shit out.

Psst, kid... Wanna learn how to hack?

Eddie Edwards
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Hobbyist machine, not a revolution, ffs

Come on people, this is 2011, not 1981. The "nightmare of frameworks and compilers" is what allows 90% of developers to earn a living programming. They neither need nor want to run "on the metal", or write "tight code". And neither should they; the democratisation of software authorship is predicated on machines having the power to run high-level systems and languages. This idea goes against that, and harks back to a time 30 years ago when only nerds programmed. It's a piece of nostalgia, plain and simple.

In case you guys haven't noticed, the marketability of low-level coding skills is diminishing year on year, and has been for over a decade. Sorry, but you don't expand the workforce to become coders by propagating an 80s myth about the level of elite skills required for the job, and going on about "coding to the metal" or how we did things when we were lads. Jesus. You may as well try to expand mining in this country by teaching kids to swing a pick-axe.

It's nice to have a cheap Linux board, but it's not exactly a revolutionary idea, and if cheap Linux boards are so desirable why weren't schools buying them in their millions at the £60 price point? We're being asked to believe this is a revolution, but the truth of that has to be based on there being this immense price sensitivity in the market, which doesn't seem likely given that the prices of bare-board systems have been dropping steadily for the last 10 years and they are still just hobbyist items. Is the next 50% discount really going to make them suddenly go mainstream?

I can't be the only person who thinks the hype around this is ridiculous, can I? Computers are all about SOFTWARE, it is software which makes them flexible, it is software where the cool stuff is happening that's relevant to a maturing market, and that software is becoming better because it leans on other software. And yet everyone creams their pants when a new piece of hardware comes out that is identical to a hundred other pieces of hardware, but at a somewhat lower price point. It's staggering.

Here's an idea - if you want kids to learn programming, demand they are given programming courses at school, on the existing kit. Create a demand for simpler development environments. And start by looking at what we already have - Javascript in the browser is an easy way for anyone to get started. You can begin simple and build up, it's a high-level language, it works, it's safe, it's sandboxed, it's fast compared to even the best 8-bit machines, it has its own sprite engine and lately its own 3D layer, and you don't have to buy any new hardware. Most importantly, it's a still-relevant skill, and will likely outlast the current generation of secondary school kids by some time.

Expecting to be downvoted for this, don't worry :) You do what you have to do :)

Climategate: A symptom of driving science off a cliff

Eddie Edwards
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Yes, yes, but climate change was first mooted in the 80s, and yet the group of people loudly complaining that it might not be true have only really started doing so since the science became politicized. The movement against is a reaction to the social consequences of the science, not the science itself (although it's an attempt to attack the root cause of those social consequences, which is of course the science).

So, on the one hand, we have a scientific theory which has become politicized, and on the other hand, an "against" movement which has been politicized from the outset.

So, AT VERY LEAST, let's not pretend that it's only the scientists that are embroiled in this "systemic failure" of yours, Andrew. It would be trivial to write this article with the completely opposite slant on whether or not climate change is real, focusing on the all-too-human motivations of those who don't want to end up paying more for energy today just because it *might* fuck the planet up for their kids, and how the beliefs of people are painted more by what they wish were true, rather than any ideal of evidence or fact, which is a psychological truth you're ignoring on only one side (and please note that scientists do actually receive some training in learning the difference between ideals and actualities).

Boffins find new 2012 glyph on 'secret' Mayan brick

Eddie Edwards

Hidden secret or typo?

"Reportedly the glyph in question is carved into the back of a brick found in ancient temple ruins - suggesting that it was a hidden secret, not meant to be seen"

So either (a) it was a hidden secret, only meant to be found by someone after thousands of years, or (b) it was a typo, hidden so people didn't notice one mason's "monumental" cock-up.

Graphene circuits from an inkjet printer

Eddie Edwards

Well quite

I understand you're making a joke, but this is how graphene was discovered. What are the limits on just drawing graphene circuits with pencils, and why didn't its amazing electrical effects ever get discovered before? (ISTR making a resistor from a pencil drawing way back ...)

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