* Posts by Michael Strorm

441 posts • joined 11 Feb 2008

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Rejoice! Thousands more kids flock to computing A-level

Michael Strorm

Re: Fundamentals of IT

@Herring`; I didn't mean to imply that (strictly speaking) it was a structural engineering matter. However, it was close enough to make the point that even in a life-or-death matter of construction, then yes- you *can* still get such worthless, ill-informed, self-serving people weighing in on the decision. With even more serious consequences than you get with the typical IT fuck-up.

"I'm not sure that we'll ever get to the bottom of who should actually carry the can for that one."

If we don't, then that's the most damning thing of all; that a decision on the fundamental safety of building materials can be made with no-one knowing who's responsible- or no-one *having* to be responsible- for approving the decision and its safety. (The aforementioned Tory councillors made the decision- and have blood on their hands for the results- but they should *not* have been in the position of being able to get it through without that happening).

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Michael Strorm

Re: Fundamentals of IT

@ Herring`; I wouldn't be so sure about that. What about the decision to swap fireproof panels for flammable ones purely to save money made by councillors on the Tory-run Kensington and Chelsea council for Grenfell Tower?

(Speaking of which, ever notice that it's conveniently slipping by unnoticed that *still* no-one has been held properly accountable for that decision? You'd have thought that in any fit-for-the-twenty-first-century building code that there would be a requirement for someone who knew what they were doing to legally "sign off"- and be responsible for- a decision like that. (#) Then again, it turns out that the Tories were pushing to *loosen* building codes shortly before the Grenfell fire.)

(#) Regardless of what a bunch of odious Tories (whose only interest was the purely cosmetic improvement of an aesthetically-unpleasing sign of The Poors in the middle of their well-off burgh) thought of it.

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ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator

Michael Strorm

Re: What's in a name...

In their defence, they probably hadn't been planning on selling it on the early-17th-century Swedish market anyway.

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Time to party like it's 2005! Palm is coming BAAAA-ACK

Michael Strorm

@Boothy; I agree. I've said more than once that if the PDA market hadn't been in decline for several years before the iPhone came out, it's possible that something like the post-Apple smartphone would have evolved from that direction instead- or at least it would have been marketed as such, rather than as a "phone".

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The age of hard drives is over as Samsung cranks out consumer QLC SSDs

Michael Strorm

Re: QLC? It's not the one for me

> Everything is analogue if you go down far enough

...and if you go down further than that, it's all digital/quantised again! (^_^)

(Disclaimer; yes, I know some phycisist will probably come along and point out that this is misleading, inaccurate or oversimplified).

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ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

Michael Strorm

Re: Z80 was a more sophisticated processor

> The Raspberry Pi is supposed to be the modern take on BBC Micro (6502).

In the sense that it's educationally-oriented, possibly. On the other hand, the Raspberry Pi is very cheap, which- for all that I liked them- was *never* something you could say about the BBC Micro.

The 1981 launch prices of £235 and £335 for the Model A and B respectively are equivalent to £940 and £1340 in today's money. And that was *without* disk drives or the obligatory Microvitec Cub monitor...!

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Michael Strorm

Re: What we need

> cream wobbly; "The C64 also benefited from the SID audio synth-on-a-chip. Unlike "chip music" from other 8-bit micros which typically waggled a DAC around to make PWM noise"

(Edit:- @ThomH; If I'd refreshed the page before posting this, I'd have seen that you'd already made much the same point in your reply!)

That's true as far as the original (pre-128K) Spectrum goes- along with some other machines (IIRC the Apple II and Dragon 32). However, it's far from accurate to imply that DAC waggling was "typical" of the majority of 8-bit computers.

Many had separate sound chips:-

- The Atari 800 (which came out in 1979) had a four-channel custom chip called POKEY.

- Several 8-bit computers used the Yamaha AY-3-8912 sound chip, including the Amstrad CPC, the Spectrum 128 (though admittedly that came later on), the Oric-1 and Atmos, and MSX.

- Several more used the Texas Instruments SN76489, including their own TI-99/4A, the BBC Micro and the Coleco Adam (and the ColecoVision console it was based on)

Others had sound generation integrated into multi-function custom chips:-

- Commodore's own VIC 20 (i.e. the direct predecessor to the C64) already included tone generation facilities as part of the VIC chip

- Similarly, the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 included tone generation within the TED chip

- Even the relatively primitive Atari VCS (admittedly not a personal computer) had two-channel audio generation as part of the TIA chip.

The point here isn't whether or not these were up to the standard of SID. It's that they were separate sound generation facilities that- like the C64's- freed the CPU to do other things.

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Michael Strorm

Re: What we need

> "Obviously emacs is better than vi."

Well, it's certainly more fully-featured. About the only thing it lacks is a decent text editor...

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Michael Strorm

Re: Looks excellent!

> I'm really looking forward to the Vega QL+

I'd buy that for a dollar!

No, really, that's all I'd risk on it at this point.

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Michael Strorm

Re: What we need

I should also add that- although I'm far less familiar with the C64 than the Atari 800- as far as I'm aware, the former also benefits from custom hardware scrolling, hardware sprites and character-based graphics that allow it to outperform (e.g.) the Spectrum on most games despite its slower CPU.

Unless it's a CPU intensive game that doesn't benefit from such features (e.g. 3D games) in which case it'll suffer.

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Michael Strorm

Re: What we need

I should also add that the 6809 was apparently superior to both... but unfortunately let down by being paired with uninspiring supporting hardware in its most famous applications. (The Tandy CoCo and its near-clone, the Dragon 32 both featured the same dated graphics chip as the Acorn Atom and the sound was similarly limited.)

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Michael Strorm

Re: What we need

As far as I'm aware, for a 6502 of given clock speed, you could expect broadly equivalent performance from a Z80 clocked at double that speed or slightly more.

In other words, the Atari 800's 1.79 MHz 6502 would have been roughtly equivalent to the Spectrum's 3.5 GHz Z80 (#), the BBC Micro's 2 MHz 6502 a little faster... and the C64's 1 MHz 6502 was still on the slow side.

(#) Though the Atari's custom graphics hardware (including hardware scrolling, hardware sprites and multicolour character-based modes) meant that it didn't have to inefficiently use CPU cycles on certain things that the simpler Spectrum would have needed to.

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I feel a plead... a plead for speed: FastMail naps amid network blunder

Michael Strorm

"I feel a plead... a plead for speed"

Thank you, Richard Speed(!)

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Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep

Michael Strorm

"killing off all 72 developers at once"

You inadvertently killed 72 techies by improperly shutting down their VMs?! That's one badly-designed system...

Did the consoles explode in a shower of electrical sparks a la Star Trek?

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Fukushima reactors lend exotic nuclear finish to California's wines

Michael Strorm

> If you eat a single banana, you'd get more radiation exposure

It's true that the level of radiation being discussed in this story is tiny, and nothing to worry about.

That said, since we're discussing the banana equivalent dose, I'd point out that it's misleading. It rests upon the fact that bananas contain potassium, of which a very small percentage (in nature) is the radioactive isotope potassium-40.

However, your body doesn't retain potassium much beyond the amount it needs; anything in excess will be secreted via the usual channels. (#) Thus, unless you were deficient to begin with, eating a banana isn't going to noticeably increase the amount of potassium- and hence radioactive potassium-40- in your body, which will remain fairly constant. (Hence, in turn, the (incredibly low) level of radiation that it exposes you to should also remain constant.)

In short, the radioactive potassium from bananas doesn't "build up" inside your body if you eat more of them, in contrast to other radioactive substances that can accumulate in your bones et al.

(#) It doesn't really matter whether the potassium it got rid of is the existing or "new" stuff, as it has a half-life of just over a billion years.

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Microsoft to pay new bounties for identity services holes

Michael Strorm

It's a bug bounty, which I assume is one of the poorer-selling variants.

Personally, I prefer the milk chocolate one.

(Ironically, your comment reminded me I had half a Bounty beside my desk, which I ate as I typed that out...)

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Official: The shape of the smartphone is changing forever

Michael Strorm

Re: 18:9

"Because 18:9 sounds much better than 16:9"

That's because it *is* better. But it's still not as good as the 180:9 screen I have on my upcoming smartphone which is obviously *ten* times better than even that. I call this a "Ludicrously Widescreen (TM)" display.

It comes in 7" and 10" versions. But remember, that's 7" and 10" Ludicrously Widescreen (TM), so it's much better than Apple and Samsungs'.

(I know there are people out there who probably *would* buy this "impressive" sounding device on spec... and I'd like to see their faces when they realised what "180:9" actually implied in the context of a 10" display. They'd soon understand why I'd chosen to name my phone... the Sumshite Stykk.)

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Michael Strorm

Re: "Traditional"

The standalone pocket/handheld TV market is all but dead, and as far as I can tell it's as much to do with the switch to digital terrestrial.

There's a video on YouTube, "Whatever happened to handheld TVs?" that looks at a handheld television made by some no-name company designed for regular DVB-T (the terrestrial TV standard in Europe and some other parts of the world) and it's... less than impressive. It might simply be that the device is shite, but given my experience with other portable aerials, it's more likely that DVB-T just isn't suited to portable use.

That- along possibly with the need for decoding by low-powered devices- would explain why they created the separate DVB-H standard for handheld devices. However, that was around a decade ago and as far as I can tell, it never got past the trial stage in the UK, and flopped elsewhere.

Even if handheld digital TV had taken off, I suspect it's something that would have been integrated into smartphones by now, rather than being sold as a standalone device. As things are, most people are just going to watch "TV" over their phone's standard TCP/IP connection.

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US drug cops snared crooks with pre-cracked BlackBerry mobes – and that's just the start

Michael Strorm

Re: Warrants

@Anonymous Coward; "You can hardly go wrong"

Well, not unless you take into account the fact that any entity large enough to invade the US- even after an incident like that- is going to have to (a) be a nation state and (b) obviously identifiable.

And that even if that nation wasn't identifiable as the source of the attack beforehand, it's going to be treated as such as soon as it tries to invade and likely subject to retaliatory action from the US's own nuclear weapons.

But, yeah. Apart from that "you can hardly go wrong".

Of course, we can get into nitpicking wankery and it's true that- as you possibly intended- it's theoretically possible that the invading country had nothing to do with the original nuclear attack and were merely taking advantage of it.

But then, given that they'd need to "just happen" to have been in a position to mount a full-scale invasion of the US in the wake of the attack, how much benefit of the doubt do you really think a freshly-nuked US would cut them?

And frankly, do you think the US would care? Even if the invaders *did* provably have nothing to do with original nuclear attack, how likely do you think it is that a completely vulnerable US would let them take advantage of it without responding against the invading country with their own nuclear weapons anyway? Particularly as it's likely to be the only option left to them.

All assuming people would be calmly sitting down and considering such academic smartasseries under such circumstances. How likely do you think that is? (Spoiler; not remotely).

That aside, it's a great idea whose flaws were only spotted by the massed ranks^w rank of one other random guy on the Internet spending a minute thinking about it.

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Did you know? The word 'Taiwan' would crash iOS thanks to a buggy filter for the Chinese govt

Michael Strorm

Re: 蒂姆,我们告诉你谨慎!

I'm pretty sure the makers of Alphabetti Spaghetti never intended anyone to do *that* with it.

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'Plane Hacker' Roberts: I put a network sniffer on my truck to see what it was sharing. Holy crap!

Michael Strorm

Re: happens around 1:10

@PhilipN; What a bizarre non-sequiteur, but well spotted anyway!

Looks like he's performing at The Cresset, which is apparently a venue in Peterborough (which ties in with this video coming from Cambridgeshire Police). (#) Unfortunately, you've missed the show on Feb 17th, 2017, but he's apparently doing another in October this year.

If you'd have told me thirty years ago I'd have been able to look up this sort of thing online from a barely legible poster I'd also seen online, I'd have been utterly gobsmacked!

(Also, I was surprised to find out that Wilde is almost 80, but then, he was famous in the late 1950s which is sixty(!) years ago).

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No lie-in this morning? Thank the Moon's gravitational pull

Michael Strorm

Re: Are you sure?

@TechnicalBen; I rephrased my comment slightly after posting, so I apologise if (as I assume) you were replying to what I'd originally said.

And yes, you're correct- the Slate article (the second link) makes clear that indeed the moon *would* be tidally broken (which I should have added myself), "So we wouldn’t even have a Moon; we’d have a thick debris ring composed of ex-Moon. That would be cool to see, too, except for the whole everyone being dead thing."

Which is also nice.

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Michael Strorm

Re: How large of a tide would that have been?

@DougS; This video is an artist's impression of what it would look like even closer than *that*- specifically, if the surface of the moon was at the distance from earth of the International Space Station (circa 400km, which would require the moon's centre to be at a distance of 2158km).

Except that- as you already realised- in reality, it wouldn't because- leaving aside the fact the video is slightly speeded up (the moon would take more like five minutes to cross the sky)- the tsunamis generated by the tidal forces at *that* distance would have waves literally kilometres high and running for your life probably wouldn't do much good.

Not to mention that- as also spotted by Brewster's Angle Grinder- the earth would be stretched, leading to huge earthquakes and increased heating resulting in volcanism that would probably boil the oceans away anyway, so you'd probably die due to lava rather than flood.

Which is nice.

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'Clive, help us,' say empty-handed ZX Spectrum reboot buyers

Michael Strorm

Re: Microdrives.

@RancidRodent; Yes, I heard that the Microdrives were quite good once they got the flaws ironed out, but I assume that by then their reputation had already been sealed.

Unfortunately, Sinclair has no-one to blame for that but themselves for rushing the QL out way, *way* before it was ready. (Prompted, no doubt, by the fact that when it was launched and they started taking orders- for claimed delivery within "28 days"- they apparently didn't even have a complete working prototype(!)).

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10 social networks ignored UK government consultations

Michael Strorm

Bebooh To Be Ah

@Teiwaz; "I wasn't even aware Bebo was still going?"

Years ago- it must have been before the 2013 bankruptcy- someone I worked with used Bebo and even *then* I was like "are people still using that?!"

But the original Bebo has been dead and gone for several years now. After the company went bankrupt it was sold back to the original founders (#) who shut down the original site and relaunched the company as a designer of social apps that doesn't even call itself a social network any more (##).

Regardless, it's obviously irrelevant nowadays. Involving them in this would be like parliament in 1991 demanding the remnants of Kajagoogoo answer questions about those newfangled illegal acid house raves.

(#) $1m, compared to the $850m (of which $595m was theirs) they apparently sold it for in the first place.

(##) Wikipedia states that "Bebo [..] now describes itself as "a company that dreams up ideas for fun social apps;" Grant Denholm, the man behind the Bebo relaunch, has confirmed that the site will not be returning as a social network but as a company that makes social apps."

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What's up with that ZX Spectrum reboot? Still no console

Michael Strorm

Re: This is a trivial design...

@martinusher; It wasn't *even* going to be an FPGA-based recreation anyway! (#) All that was ever intended was an emulator running on some arbitrary device- i.e. a long-solved problem. See here and here.

But- as you correctly note- this is all irrelevant as the problems are blatantly the result of managerial, legal and interpersonal issues within the company, not technical.

(#) If that's what you're after, the far more interesting-looking Spectrum Next- from a totally unrelated team/company- aims to do just that.

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Nvidia quickly kills its AMD-screwing GeForce 'partner program' amid monopoly probe threat

Michael Strorm

I fought the law and the lawyers won....

I fought the law and the lawyers won.

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France building encrypted messaging app for politicians

Michael Strorm

@Mycho; "Meat Loaf approves of their efforts".

"Liberté, égalité, fraternité".... two out of three ain't bad?

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2001: A Space Odyssey has haunted pop culture with anxiety about rogue AIs for half a century

Michael Strorm

Re: Ah well, back to my PowerPoint slides

@jim parker; You haven't seen 2001 if you haven't seen it in the original Klingon.

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2001 set the standard for the next 50 years of hard (and some soft) sci-fi

Michael Strorm

Re: Forbidden Planet

"Are you being ironic, given what happened to Jupiter and Europa in 2010 or did you not read 2010 ?"

Yeah, but that's 2010- which was written around fifteen years later- and for various reasons it's open to question how legitimately one can back-read continuity and explanations between that and the film of 2001.

tl;dr - (i) 2010 was written years later, (ii) Kubrick wasn't involved in 2010 at all, (iii) both book and movie of 2010 reflected Clarke's more "literal" vision seen in the original novel which perhaps was never the intended spirit or interpretation of the film ending and (iv) the discrepancies between versions and sequels mean we can't assume one applies to the other.

The novel of 2010 was written by Arthur C. Clarke alone and follows the far more literal style of his original novel of 2001. *That* was written alongside the original film- rather than being a direct novelisation of it- and- along with the different "approach" and feel- varies somewhat in its depiction of specific events (e.g. the action takes place around Saturn, whose rings were deemed too difficult to acccurately depict for the film).

While it's often implied that the novel "explains" the post-Stargate ending of the film of 2001, the differences in what comes before means it can't be taken for granted that this is the case, or even what was intended. Given the aforementioned differences in approach, it's quite possible that- unlike the novel- the ending of the film was always *meant* to be open to interpretation and viewed as such, and that trying to shoehorn it into the excellent-but-different literal viewpoint of the novel both does it a disservice and misses the point.

Back to 2010... the original novel- which came out a couple of years before the 1984 film- follows very much the approach of Clarke's 2001 novel. (I first read them one after the other- before I'd seen either film- and enjoyed both very much- 2010 was a great sequel).

The film 2010 is based on the aforementioned Clarke sequel novel, and Kubrick was not involved at all. (#). That's why it's so different in feel and approach to Kubrick's original, and why I don't consider it the latter's direct spiritual successor. Yes, they've included elements from Kubrick's 2001- and even Clarke's 2010 novel altered the continuity to fit the original film rather than the original novel better- but the film is still essentially "Hollywood's movie version of Clarke's sequel to *his* original novel" and reflects the approach and style of the latter. (##)

There's also the question of whether one can apply the events of 2010 to 2001, since the latter were Clarke's alone and he possibly- indeed quite probably- hadn't thought them up when writing the original story.

(#) Indeed, when he saw it, he apparently complained that they'd "explained everything". Which might back up my view on trying to shoehorn the novel's "explanation" onto the ending of the original film.

(##) The film even "recaps" the line "My god, it's full of stars" from just before Bowman enters the Stargate in 2001. Except that was *never* in the original film- only Clarke's novel.

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Amazon warns you have 30 days before Music Storage files bloodbath

Michael Strorm

Re: Eh

@AC; "When I buy CDs from Amazon they also supply an MP3 rip [..] Not that I ever use them."

Same here. I was informed- without asking- that I had those, even for CDs I'd bought some years prior. (#) Never used them either; anything I wanted ripped, I'd already done so.

(#) It's also notable that some of the CDs they did this for had been bought- and given away- as presents for other people, so I'd have thought I wouldn't have the "right" to the rip anyway?!

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Huawei joins Android elite with pricey, nocturnal 40MP flagship

Michael Strorm

Re: Dear Hawei,

It's quite probable that this *is* part of a strategy to move the brand upmarket. Even if it doesn't itself sell in silly quantities, it might have a "halo" effect on their other, lower-end models and in turn let them get away with charging more for them.

Unfortunately, that bloody notch- which was stupid on the iPhone X in the first place- just makes it look like a wannabe.

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Exploit kit development has gone to sh$t... ever since Adobe Flash was kicked to the curb

Michael Strorm

"I think flash is great. It's easy to block, unlike multimedia in html5. [..] Flash has been 'click to run' for a long time now for me anyway"

Same here. Flash might have been used for some of the most obnoxious content, but that also made it easy to block that same obnoxious content by making it all click-to-play.

Not so simple since everyone started moving to HTML5.

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Michael Strorm

Won't be needing the carriage clock, then...

Perhaps that's what they meant anyway.

"Special police squads - Blade Runner Units - had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing replicant^w^w remaining Flash installations.

This was not called execution. It was called retirement."

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What a mesh: BT Whole Home Wi-Fi users moan over update

Michael Strorm

Well...

...that's another fine mesh they've got their customers into!

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UK watchdog finally gets search warrant for Cambridge Analytica's totally not empty offices

Michael Strorm

Re: Given the time it's take to get the warrant...

@DJV; "a pile of well used paper shredders"

I would *not* rely on a paper shredder alone- not even a cross-cut one- to protect me in a case as serious as this.

I'm pretty certain there must be software out there able to take arbitrary amounts of scanned pieces, figure out which bits are most likely to join together- using multiple heuristics- then reassemble most of the "destroyed" documents.

If you can scatter them far and wide enough before anyone is likely to get their hands on them, this might not be workable, but you have to get away with *that* as well.

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Recording Industry Ass. says vinyl and CD sales beat digital downloads

Michael Strorm

Re: MY CDs !!!!

"They are MIIIIINE !!!"

Am I the only person who read this in the voice of the False Rod Hull?

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Michael Strorm

Re: Availability

@AC; "I wish there was a simple system for paying the artists directly. Mind you, most of the ones I like are dead."

Has anyone developed a protocol for transferring money to the dead via a ouija board? In fact, I'm sure that could be generalised to a data layer that existing protocols could run over (though they'd probably be restricted by that lower layer in terms of speed, which might be a problem).

Might even be able to transfer bitcoin over it.

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We sent a vulture to find the relaunched Atari box – and all he got was this lousy baseball cap

Michael Strorm

Re: "It will do 4K video"

@ThomH; My apologies, I just looked up and nicked the specs from Wikipedia...! I know the broad principles of how the VCS works, but not all the fine details.

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Michael Strorm

Re: "It will do 4K video"

@ CrazyOldCatMan; That 128 bytes was for the main RAM as far as I'm aware.

As I noted in the comment above yours, the VCS doesn't even have bitmapped screen memory as such.

AFAICT, all it has are registers for (one-dimensional) playfield and sprite patterns (along with horizontal position and colour data) that need to be manually updated for successive scan lines if you want anything other than vertical stripes.

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Michael Strorm

Re: "It will do 4K video"

That'd be four times more video memory than the VCS.... no, it wouldn't. Actually, the VCS didn't even have anywhere near even *1KB* of video memory. (It only had 128 bytes of RAM for regular use!)

As far as I'm aware, it had enough to store *one* scanline's worth of screen memory. That's it.

No, really. There wasn't a "bitmapped" display as such- you had (from Wikipedia) "two bitmapped sprites, two 1-pixel "missile" sprites, a 1-pixel "ball," and a 40-pixel "playfield" [background graphic]" that you could set the patterns and position for.

To the best of my knowledge, you could set that and leave it to repeat over multiple scan lines, but unless you wanted a screenful of nothing but vertical patterned stripes (i.e. the same arrangement on every line)- which of course you bloody did!- you had to update these registers on the fly- at the appropriate time for successive scan lines- to give the illusion of a bitmapped display.

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Maplin shutdown sale prices still HIGHER than rivals

Michael Strorm

Re: Support from Maplin ?

@Alain; As Alien8n already noted, that *was* the OP's point... but you also seem to have missed the point of the story itself. The closing-down prices really aren't "low" at all (#); still more expensive than many online outlets and thus hardly "low enough to make the risk worthwhile"!!

(#) "Take the Western Digital 8TB My Cloud Home for example: it is being flogged by Maplin at £278.20 compared to £309 before the closing down sale began, but it is also available brand new from eBay for £254.99."

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10 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10

Michael Strorm

RUN HE IS BEHIND YOU

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OK, who is shooting at Apple staff buses in California? Knock it off

Michael Strorm

Re: Use the Trump solution

@Tom 7; "A pellet gun can easily kill someone"

Two-year-old boy killed after being shot in head with air gun.

(This is with something that was- presumably- legal in Scotland as well; I've no idea how our laws compare with the US on air/pellet guns, but I'd be gobsmacked if they were weaker).

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TVEyes blindsided: Fox News defeats search engine in copyright spat

Michael Strorm

Re: Ten minutes??

"I remember back in my youth that commercials were ONE minute long, and we could take breaks from TV watching to use the facilities. Now we have five second intros to YouTube videos that are all pretty short."

You're probably right that modern attention spans have shrunk horribly. However, I don't think that's the issue here.

It's more likely that they've found a five second non-skippable (but barely worth skipping anyway) advert that shows the product is more likely to be effective than a one-minute advert that's going to get skipped five seconds into the setup. (Or if the latter was non-skippable, is likely to be killed via the impatient user reloading it, or simply ignoring it in another tab until it's over).

Also, you seem to forget that- even in the TV days- ad breaks were never designed for your convenience, to "take breaks from TV watching to use the facilities"... even if many people *did* use them for that purpose!

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RIP... almost: Brit high street gadget shack Maplin Electronics

Michael Strorm

@Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese; "I only tend to use their bricks & mortar stores fairly infrequently [..] I don't necessarily make much use of them but I feel better for knowing that they're there."

Unfortunately, that's the problem. "Feeling better knowing that they're there" doesn't pay the bills any more than cliched nostalgic recollections of pick-n'-mix did when Woolies closed down (from people who hadn't been there in years), or endless reposts of Paul Simon lyrics when they stopped making Kodachrome (mostly from people I bet hadn't bought a roll in a decade).

Not that I'm defending Maplin; they *were* overpriced for components and too full of mediocre consumer tat the last time I was there (about five years ago- you see my point!) And it could be argued that the economics that forced them down that mass-market path were their own fault for choosing to open too many expensive-to-run "big box" stores in the first place. (Might be wrong, but this smacks of the kind of thing private equity owners would force them to do).

I'll note that I overheard the staff there speaking to someone else, and they did come across as genuinely enthusiastic, knowledgable and helpful, so I certainly wouldn't blame them personally.

Ultimately, it might be argued that a Maplin concentrating on components and parts is unsustainable in the eBay age (even if they *had* chosen to retain the focus on smaller and cheaper shops and even with the "Maker" revival in recent years).

No-one owes it to them to keep them in business, but on the flip side if we buy everything on eBay except an urgently-needed capacitor every couple of years, that's not sustainable- we can't have our cake and eat it.

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Microsoft reveals 'limitations of apps and experiences on Arm' – then deletes from view

Michael Strorm

@Terry 6; "But for most uses all people need is a reassurance that you will be back."

Is that you, Arnie?

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If you don't like what IBM is pitching, blame Watson: It's generating sales 'solutions' now

Michael Strorm

Re: Sales Pitch

Does this "sales pitch" incarnation of "Watson" even have much to do with the original anyway?

My understanding- from what I've heard elsewhere- is that IBM are simply rebranding any technology they have that can be passed off as "vaguely-AI-ish" as "Watson", effectively riding on the coattails of the publicity associated with the original system.

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