* Posts by Mage

6389 posts • joined 23 Nov 2007

Say Hello to my little friend: Nest blasts IoT world with doorbell, home security gear

Mage
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Toy security

Only wired sensors are viable.

Wireless ones are a false installation time economy (they actually cost more).

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Programming in the Middle Ages: Docker makes a lovely pair of trousers

Mage
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Re: QUBAL : teletypes?

Even later doing Fortran we used hand printing on coding forms. Trusted students doing Fortran could punch their own cards using a machine with not very many keys, or a slower but quicker to master giant dymo style punch with an alphanumeric punch. But that was later and not QUB.

The only QUB teletype I ever used was at an Expo thing in the Botanic Gardens (or near it) and running a poker dice program. I never got near a teletype till my first job, and didn't use it there either. My first real time computer access was on a Z80 development board and also an Apple II with a Z80 card (Why did it get written as Apple ][ ?). I should have bought an S100 machine.

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Mage
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Re: OPC

Named Pipes

The example didn't work because it assumed a nul security descriptor was a nil pointer. It's not, it's a pointer to a security token that says "this thing isn't bothering with user accounts".

NT Security is much misunderstood.

EVENTUALLY, I figured how to use a named pipe from a DOS program (DOS with MS TCP/IP!) to an NT Server creating Named Pipes.

Also you can create Named pipes on any version of NT Workstation*, but not on Win32s on Win3.x, or Win9x, or ME (they can only be clients like DOS) proving that they are rubbish.

[*Win2K, XP, Vista, Win7, Win8.x Win10]

Unix/Linux has a mechanism similar to Named Pipes, also for local or network use.

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Mage
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Re: QUBAL

Precursor to pascal (so I'm told). Queens University Belfast Algorithmic Language (maybe).

Tony Hoare supposedly worked on it, then Pascal. Wirth went on to Modula-2 and Oberon, Hoare was involved with Occam and I never heard what Jensen did after Pascal, or what the QUB and ETH connection was.

All too long ago. I write novels now instead of programs. It was sad seeing UL using Modula-2 as Pascal and not explaining Modules, Procedure types, anonymous vs explicit types, virtual functions, dynamic arrays and co-routines and all the other stuff that Modula-2 has that Pascal hasn't. Pascal, like BASIC (Beginners cut down Fortran, clue in acronym) was only intended for teaching. Then they switched to C and Java. Meh, might be useful in the market place, but is it computer science?

I can write ForTran or Modula-2 programs in nearly any language.

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Mage
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I'd suspected this for years.

The image is Verity's granddaughter/grandniece.

Now if she worked on development of Qubal, she's older than me.

Lovely piece, good to see her back on form. Reminds me a little of JP's Chaos Manor column at its heyday, though it was a HW abuser's perspective.

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'All-screen display'? But surely every display is all-screen... or is a screen not a display?

Mage
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Re: Sony and Ericsson parted ways in 2012

It's an old phone and still goes fine.

Honest, it says Sony Ericsson on the front and Xperia on the back. It's a Z1, but I do see the Z1 on wikipedia only says Sony on the front. Maybe for Ireland / UK markets they were slow to change the branding.

I think mine is just a little younger than my iPhone 4s. Both got S/H. €50 for the Sony and free for the iPhone 4s.

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Mage
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Re: it's quite ordinary display screen

Of course Edit expired and it's its.

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Mage
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Boffin

Re: Why do we need bezels ?

"because of the need for backlighting"

No. Three reasons:

1) The connections to the panel are dodgy if not past the edge of the panel.

2) LCD needs a seal on all four edges. EL and OLED and true LED can go close to the edge.

3) Protection of the edge of the display / edge of top glass, or fingers from getting cut.

Nothing to do with backlights unless the cheap edge type.

Any display can have a top layer that goes to edge of phone. Then that has to be glued in and have no sharp edges. It's more vulnerable when dropped. Note the Apple active screen/display area is not up to the edge.

A bezel allows for a more robust and safer design, with easier to replace panel.

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Mage
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Facepalm

Re: Playing with fire, Dabbsy?

Also many iPhones are used in Hifi or speaker docks, like security radio and DECT phones, the dock is a better charger interface than a wireless pad, which needs correct placement and a wire to a power supply. Obviously only needed for people that can't manage the apple connector (how many kinds since iPhone 4?) or a Micro USB plug. I liked the 3mm approx and smaller coax power jacks. Easy to do in the dark. They should have kept both on phones/tablets so you can plug in a USB device. Also a direct cable works when phone is in your hand.

The so called "wireless" charging are essentially transformers, inductive not radio coupling, so fails when you lift phone. For poseurs and not so good for travelling.

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Mage
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Happy

I wondered what Apple meant.

I'm still baffled by the all screen display, or is it an all display screen?

Thanks, Dabbsy.

The latest XKCD phone has some nice features. I'll stick with my Sony Ericsson Xperia Z1 and it's quite ordinary display screen. Thought it had a bezel a little too small at the sides. So I don't have Icons at the edge of the screen.

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Sacre bleu! Apple's high price, marginal gain iPhone strategy leaves it stuck in the mud

Mage
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Devil

Expensive Contract phones

The operator "free" with contract has to stop.

It's dishonest, limits competition and means that many customers are subsiding other customers.

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Mage
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Original success

"The iPhone was unique because it could do one or two things (web and maps, but not much else) much better than the competition at the time. "

No. It was the operator contracts with big or no data caps. Till then only rich people or corporate users could afford mobile data.

The other major factor was the better interface, because they didn't care about annotation or handwriting recognition, both need the higher resolution resistive screen. Capacitive screens were nearly 20 years old. It was the idea of having the phone as primarily a consumer's data browsing device, not a corporate data entry device that was a winning shift.

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Apple’s facial recognition: Well, it is more secure for the, er, sleeping user

Mage
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Facepalm

Biometrics

Repeat after me:

Biometrics do not replace passwords. Because when (not if) the item is replicated or system hacked you can't change your fingerprints/retina/face structure/<random biometric item>

Biometrics to use as a key or purchase verification is NEVER going to be a good idea.

P.S. I know how to defeat this

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Boffins fear we might be running out of ideas

Mage
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Re: multiple cores per die were the new idea once

Yes, about 1960s. It was a while before mainframes were miniaturised enough. See also 1980s Transputer and mother boards with up to 4 CPUs.

Problem is programming multiple cores, unless your OS is a server running many programs for many people. For a single ordinary application, single user and shared memory little improvement past 2 and very little past 4 cores. High performance multiple CPU systems have generous per core/CPU ram.

Serious bottleneck on ARM and x86-64 multicore cpus.

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Mage
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Re: basic everyday "magic" was sorted by the end of the 20th C

And all envisaged by 1906!

Electronic TV proposal was then. It took nearly 30 years to figure out how to have a decent electronic camera. Overnight, Baird's Victorian Era mechanical image scanner was dead.

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Mage
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electromagnetism or quantum mechanics

Batteries 1799

Maxwell 1855 (start)

Quantum Mechanics: Cathode Rays 1838, Boltzmann states energy states can be discrete 1877. Quantum hypothesis of Max Planck in 1900.

Very Victorian.

Also Victorian: Fax, telephone, electric hearing aids, typewriter, ballpen, lead acid & Nickel Iron batteries, Diesel, petrol, steam and electric cars competed. Punched cards for data sorting. CRT (though regular valves / tubes from 1905) and Electric light (in early Sherlock Holmes stories). Radio transmission. Plastics (inc Viscose) and Aluminium. Stencil duplicating machines.

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Mage
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Moore's law

It was an observation. Originally 12 months, then 18 months. In real terms in 2D devices per square millimetre it's not as much 2 years except maybe a few devices. It also says little about function or speed.

Really it was simply an Intel process technology goal and very little to do with new idea or research, just fairly obvious incremental improvements in process technology.

It's important not to confuse actual science with implementation, product development and refining application of technology. Babbage improved machine tools, using newer ones to make better ones. That wasn't where his real genius lay. He also did a good book on Economics. While his "engines" were ambitious for the time, the machine tools gave the UK a massive world lead and made a lot of money for some other people.

There has been little new SCIENCE in Electronics since 1950s. More in Biology. ICs, LASER, single chip CPU etc are later implementations of known science and ideas. Even the 1948 transistor was a Victorian idea with 1930s maths and physics. The real problem was getting pure enough Germanium. Bell labs had no wartime stockpiles (used by the other labs working on transistors) and only ordered small batches which got purer each time.

Silicon transistors were delayed by figuring out a process to purify it.

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Monkey selfie case settles for a quarter of future royalties

Mage
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Pirate

Re: During the meanwhile ...

That's why Slater has made this deal. PETA's bully tactics and court case was ruining him. Money obtained by duress rather than morality or law.

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The new, new Psion is getting near production. Here's what it looks like

Mage
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Re: buy new Android phone with a builtin physical keyboard

Not easily. Certainly not QWERTY.

Zero in any major retail

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Mage
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Re: You can buy small Bluetooth keyboards for your existing phone

They go to sleep and miss first 3 to 5 characters.

Most seem horrid to type on.

Many don't support áéíóú € ÁÉÍÓÚ easily etc.

Many are US layout.

Getting a decent mini USB or BT keyboard is really hard.

I'd like a link?

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Mage
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Happy

Forget iPhoneX

My Sony Z1 is fine.

Forget stupid Win10 tablet-keyboard-netbooks like Linx 1010

I WANT ONE OF THESE. Debian too. Mmmm.

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Sci-Fi titan Jerry Pournelle passes,
aged 84

Mage
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Re: IT angle

PCs in the sense of a personal computer predated the IBM PC by about 5 years.

Minicomputers that sat on a desk with a CRT and keyboard rather than Teletype, maybe 10 years before an IBM PC. The 8088 in PC wasn't a true 16 CPU (only 64K per segment and no linear address mode). It was more like an 8bit CPU with built in paging. It had an 8 bit bus too. The 8086 had a 16 bit bus. The MSDOS/PCDOS was derived from a reverse engineered version of CP/M86, practically automatically built from 8080 / 8085/ Z80 bit CP/M using Intel's cross assembler, because the 8088/8086 was very like an 8080 /8085 with built in paging.

The 80286 IBM AT was first 16bit in that family sold as a "PC" able to to linear addressing. DOS used it as an 8086. You needed Xenix to use it as 16bit CPU. Real 16 bit CPUs existed not just before IBM AT and 80286, but before original IBM-PC.

Byte had the wonderful Chaos Manor column, best thing in Byte.

Byte started in 1975, shortly after the first personal computers appeared as kits advertised in the back of electronics magazines. The IBM PC US release was August 12, 1981, so OF COURSE, Jerry was using a wordprocessor on a CP/M based "PC" before then.

Deighton isn't credited with first to use a Wordprocessor on a general PC or Minicomputer. It was a dedicated Wordprocessor. Such things survived long past IBM PC arrival. Wang was of last makers if you don't count Brother typewriters with line editors. I'd not count the PCW8256, PCW8512 and PCW9512 as those could run CP/M instead of locoscript.

Probably someone wrote a book on a minicomputer that wasn't much bigger (but x10 price) than some 1976 CP/M based "PC" with "wordprocessing" software.

... WordMaster (1978) with similar features and support for the CP/M operating system. MicroPro began selling the product, now renamed WordStar, in June 1979

Wordstar must be the oldest "WELL KNOWN" real wordprocessor known. But maybe 10 years after minicomputers and dedicated IBM or Wang "Wordprocessors" (that had a golfball printer). It was ported to IBM PC at release (3 years after CP/M release) and was only supplanted by Wordperfect later.

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Google to relieve HTC of its phones biz – report

Mage
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Facepalm

Re: Motorola

Which is why Google resold the Moto phone brand.

I remember the cute swivel screen O2 XDA QWERTY smartphone from HTC that looked like it would break.

I can't see VR or AR headsets being a big market for HTC. Maybe they are really just packing it in now that Google has bought the phones, which sounds as sensible as MS buying Nokia's phones. MS and Nokia still exist, but the phones are gone.

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How alien civilizations deal with climate is a measure of how smart they are. Just sayin'...

Mage
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Pint

Good

The previous scheme is just EE "Doc" Smith SF from 1930s.

Those boffins deserve a beer.

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Stuff the movement of celestial spheres, let's sit down and watch Bonnie Tyler on TV

Mage
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Excellent

I'm set up for the weekend.

Being without any useful Internet Cap and given the descent of Irish & UK TV to Italian level, I watch DVDs / BD if watching video at all.

Only a book lets be do less other things at the same time :)

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EC puts Qualcomm-NXP investigation on hold, slowing merger approval

Mage
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Re: For once

Agreed.

Qualcomm is absolutely an unsuitable owner.

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Sub plot subplot thickens: Madsen claims hatch fumble killed Swede journo Kim Wall

Mage
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Re: fifteen years old

Doesn't rule him out either. :(

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Mage
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On a serious note

They have re-opened investigation of other mutilated bodies found in the region.

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Microsoft extends free Windows 10 S to Win 10 Pro upgrade offer

Mage
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Devil

Re: Being forced to use Bing can easily scare any propesctive buyers

Google also spams results with their YouTube, their Books and sites that spend lots with Google / use Google Analytics / Adwords and other Google services.

They also think you want places you have been before over new results. I have a bookmark feature.

Google is MUCH poorer quality on search than they used to be and while many aspects of Android have improved, it's still a work in progress and seriously invasive of privacy. As is Chrome Browser and Chrome OS.

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Mage
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Headmaster

Re: school administrators who have migrated to Chrome

Maybe acceptable in USA, but is it moral that Google should know everything about the students.

Also completely dependent on serial points of failure.

May prove to be illegal in USA.

It's fashion and childminding, not education ;)

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It's official: Users navigate flat UI designs 22 per cent slower

Mage
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Smartphones of the time could not drive an Aero like 3D interface

However they could EASILY even in 2002 drive a decent Windows 3.1 / NT / Win98 /Windows 2000 interface. Aero is a mad trip to the other extreme. Best disabled.

I had 9100 and i9200 "smart phones".

Even a 320 x 240 four shade mono LCD with a Z80 can do a reasonable "3D" hinted effect for buttons, icons, scroll bars etc.

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Mage
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Headmaster

cannot make very nice shading with low-resolution 2-colour or 8-colour

You don't need shading or much extra space just a 1 pixel border with top & left pale and right and bottom dark. The windows 3.1 3D enhancement was fine on 16 colour EGA. Though some CGA displays might only have done 8 shades of the 16 colour CGA text mode. CGA graphics was only 4 colours or black and white (2 bit or 1 bit). Windows 1 to 3.1 only used the 1bit mono mode of CGA.

The next lowest depth wasn't 8, but black and white Hercules and CGA monochrome modes. Then the paler lines were dotted. However CGA and Hercules Windows was a curiosity, The minimum practical windows was 640 x 350 16 colour EGA.

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Mage
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Flame

Re: Personally

Black text on black buttons on a black panel. This stupidity started long ago for DNA to notice!

I have TV with dark grey over simple touch icons on black.

I have LOADS of LCD screens with a row of unlabelled buttons almost invisible under the front bezel.A nightmare to select inputs or change settings.

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Mage
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Devil

Re: Personally

It is a rubbish idea that just looks like a laser printed page. Fine for content and totally rubbish for menus, buttons, navigation or interaction. NNG have done other tests and been saying this for ages.

I've worked on GUI design since 1980s and it's definitely purely a presentation aesthetic, very poor for interaction. I still find Windows 10 "control panels" / "Forms" totally baffling in terms of what is informational and what is interactive/clickable.

Even Linux Mint with Mate desktop has some "flat" applications creeping in from Gnome3/Unity/Ubuntu.

People copying things because they LOOK clean is a curse, as is excessive glass/smoke/blur/shadow and Skeuomorphic. Simple clear obvious icons, text on a button (using language resource file if the function isn't super obvious. Very simple 3D effect of two bright lines and two dark lines.

People imitating the worst "koolaid" from MS, Apple or Wordpress themes is mental.

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15 'could it be aliens?' fast radio bursts observed in one night

Mage
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Alien

Re: It's not aliens

I agree, it's not aliens.

I have a longer explanation I've given before as to why Radio Telescopes are great for science but not going to receive Alien transmissions, unless the Alien starship is nearer than the nearest star. Otherwise, we'll spot possible alien life or even their industrial pollution via spectrographic analysis. The James Webb should be a good addition for that search.

I look forward to someone figuring out what FRBs actually are. Though we likely don't want such a generator nearby. Some sort of magnestar is my guess.

An advanced civilisation doesn't even need FRBs for navigation. Pulsars are good for that and can even be used to navigate within our own solar system or the whole galaxy. The missing ingredient is a "starship". A generation ship is feasible but doesn't get the TV ratings.

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Microsoft sets the date for Fall Creators Update

Mage
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Flame

Gaming vs Business

The ONLY major users now that need Windows are business users, mostly with legacy applications.

"The update will allow PC gamers to set the computer to max out the processor for smoother gameplay, and there'll be a bunch of new games as well."

This is as daft a focus as Win8 & Win10 phone interface.

The important things for majority of money spending customers are:

* Legacy compatibility

* Security

* Privacy

* Remote Administration

* Using ANY software source, not just Windows store.

* Decent GUI that offers clues where to click and follows good usability practices. See Norman Nielsen Group. Vista excessive eye candy and Win10 excess flat are two silly extremes. Windows 3.x, Win95, and any NT to Server 2003 are fine. Explorer desktop was a good idea if they fixed Explorer bugs and stupidity (copy, move or shortcut?).

Built in adverts and turning telemetry back on after updates is unacceptable.

Why are MS ignoring their captive and most important customers, chasing phones, tablets, cloud, VR, AR and games. They have an XBox and Cloud should be entirely optional.

Why are all the IoT services on by default?

Why does it take so long to shut down and restart after updates? It didn't use to be like that. Linux can do updates properly.

Why is there less GUI/Desktop customisation than in nearly 30 years?

Why the user data grab?

Why the lack of choice on updates? Feature and Security should be separate.

Why are you asked to confirm change from Edge to Firefox.

Why can't you "turn off" the Windows store entirely or remove unwanted apps/

Why are settings fragmented to five interfaces?

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SanDisk's little microSD card sucks up 400GB

Mage
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Re: And that's why you need to lock down ports..

Or a coin cell with innards removed and stored in a car key.

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Mage
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Happy

Re: 400 Gb on your little fingernail....

My first HDD was only 5 M Byte.

I forget what capacity the cake cover like Winchesters were. The drive system was stand alone and about the size of a desk height filing cabinet. OS was ISIS II. I think much smaller than 80 MByte. 1983.

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Samsung keeps the smartwatch alive. Just

Mage
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Re: hand-warming

That was the Intel smart watch.

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Bitcoin Foundation wants US Department of Justice investigated

Mage
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Western Union

It's not a currency, However it's been used for scams and money laundering due to lack of checking who is sending money (=buying & selling bitcoins) and inadequate checking of recipient who can vanish. Never buy on Internet or classified and pay with Western Union.

In EU they have implemented new regulations at offices taking money for WU.

The IBAN (used nearly everywhere except USA and rather more secure than WU or PayPal) is not a currency. It's a way to transfer money that can be in different currencies. Use requires a bank account. Creation of a bank account in most of EU is subject to strict anti-money laundering.

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LG teases us with svelte V30 but refuses to say if it's coming to Blighty

Mage
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Interesting

The main value though of 96 kHz recording is that expensive antialiasing filters aren't needed. There is no need at all to store the processed audio at more than 40KHz sample rate, so the regular 48KHz is fine.

I wish my laptop had that screen resolution, or indeed ANYTHING more than 1080 vertical.

"Key European markets"

Looks like UK is "crashing" out of those. Still, Amazon.de has an English language option. It translates well too. Useful already for people in Ireland as unlike UK, Ireland uses the Euro. The Amazon.ie still redirects to the Amazon.co.uk site.

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Western Digital has cloudified the NAS and shoved it in a trendy box

Mage
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But

Can it be 100% NEVER connected to the Internet?

Can I sync via ethernet, USB or WiFi WITHOUT the Internet? If you can only sync via the Internet it's a failure. If it needs a 3rd party server (=Cloud) to sync to your devices and/or a subscription it's a total failure.

Security, privacy, exact functionality seem vague?

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Microsoft's fix for web graphics going AWOL? Disable your antivirus

Mage
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Re: Untrusted Font?

Yes, there are / have been vulnerabilities exploited. More recently in some Adobe format than TTF files.

Also the issue of privacy. Fonts being used to track, because people are blocking the 3rd party cookies (browser setting), clear gifs, 3rd party scripts etc (NoScript). I only allow fonts from same domain as webpage. Also you can (on Linux anyway) download many of them so they don't need to be loaded from the 3rd party domains.

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Mage
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Devil

Re: Who'd be a web designer?

Well, fonts and fonts. Using a font for icons (especially not even on your own server) is stupid. If it's for an Icon, then use png and/or SVG. A font used for icons has no fall back. It's a stupid idea copying "Wingdings" on Windows which were convenient but stupid (emailed or LAN doc to someone else without the font. When it's a text font missing, you do usually get text. Unless it's Chinese etc and you have NO Chinese fonts but then you if you can read Chinese, you'd have some Chinese fonts.).

There are good web designs, and also rubbish ones with big animated images, gazillions of images/icons done by fonts, dark grey text on black or light grey on white, fixed layout (either to suit small phone or giant screen), totally flat with no hint as to links or menus etc. Or different versions for different clients (you can do ONE site that works on ANY size screen, the original reason that text flows and isn't like PDF. Imitating multiple sizes of PDF isn't smart. Or changing content according to OS detected (maybe I want to download MacOS or Windows program on my Android or Linux mint client).

Putting an embedded "Google Maps" but no address or phone number for a web site for a "Bricks & Mortar" only business. Or Contact us via Twitter/Facebook (A bot and spammer unfriendly contact page is trivial), even on big companies.

Most web sites seem to be badly designed.

Yes, MS approach to this is idiotic. It doesn't mean many web designers aren't clueless.

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Nest cracks out cheaper spin of its thermostat

Mage
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much easier to use than a traditional beige box

How?

My thermostat has a single knob calibrated with temperature. It takes no power, has no software vulnerabilities. It's a mechanical switch using a bimetallic strip to sense the ambient temperature. We use it to set the bedroom temperature. So it was was set about 18 years ago and hasn't needed to be changed.

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Terry Pratchett's unfinished works flattened by steamroller

Mage
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Re: IDE drives

It was only last month I dumped a load of MFM drives, controllers and mobos at the recycling centre. I have an actual IBM AT (though with VGA card and AST memory expansion) in the attic. It might still have MFM. I also dumped old "IDE" drives that used same parallel cable but not the regular IDE/PATA port. Also three kinds of SCSI drives.

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Well, debugger me. Microsoft's BSOD fixer is getting a makeover

Mage
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Re: Know your market

"some UI tweaks including the iconic ribbon"

One of the worst GUI ideas ever, up there with hiding [least recently used] icons and menu items. The infrequently used stuff must NEVER change location, not even on new versions, or else you can't find it!

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AMD agrees to drop $29.5m to make Llano go away once and for all

Mage
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Coat

Wasn't as good as promised.

Shareholders felt they had been misled.

Um, isn't this the case of MOST products, especially bleeding edge tech, hyped and over sold?

Magneto Optic Disks (Worked but too expensive and storage didn't increase enough).

Z8000

Apple Lisa and Pippin. Apple Newton handwriting recognition.

So called 3D TV (actually stereoscopic)

Sega Dreamcast?

Intel Xpoint memory

HP Memistors

IBM Watson

All Voice Assistants

Itanium

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Mage
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Alert

Re: Intel deliberately crippled all consumer chipsets

4G or 8G of RAM?

Actually many Atom chips (even the 64bit ones) can only address 2G of physical RAM. Presumably so these could be sold cheap to compete with AMD or ARM in Netbooks / tablets / setboxes / TVs / NAS etc without cannibalizing existing sales.

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Boffin rediscovers 1960s attempt to write fiction with computers

Mage
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Stuff like this

Some Hollywood company had a "plot generator" that worked a little like this, without a computer.

I've read about several similar attempts to this since. Most of the output is useless, but some variations can be used by a real writer to develop a real story.

The number of plausible variations output is more related to the amount of input than any cleverness in the program. In this case the point is not the "output" but the achievement of getting it to work at all.

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