It certainly induces strange feelings of disorientation.
<---- fortunately there is a treatment!
2108 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008
It certainly induces strange feelings of disorientation.
<---- fortunately there is a treatment!
Some of us worry about some fairly fundamental issues surrounding the use of all these cloudy services:
1) Availability - things drop off the net; Google, MS etc. are no different.
2) All our eggs in one basket - clouds are a big juicy target for hackers, industrial espionage etc. If a cloud gets breached the consequences could be monumental.
3) Privacy - why should another company have the right or even the technical ability to trawl through my company's private stuff?
All these things really should matter to a company. A failure in any one of those categories can easily kill a company, so why risk it? Worse still a company can be exposed to legal responsibilities in jurisdictions where it has no actual business connections whatsoever. That can get really nasty these days.
Sure, it may cost more to do it yourself, but what is that compared to loss of the entire business? At least you can assess the risks your company is taking on, implement a plan B and get IT designs reviewed. Basing IT exclusively in a cloud sounds like a sure fire way of not being able to have a plan B at all. Maybe that's where MS's option might work - presumably Office365 interacts quite nicely with existing Exchange servers, etc.
Complete reliance on a cloud seems odd - I doubt that there is any guarantees given in their terms and conditions. Are Google going to recompense their customers' shareholders if it turns out that Google had been leaking their company data? No, of course not.
"Our software ran for weeks of uptime easily which back then seemed pretty good!"
Not bad, but the Sun/Solaris servers/workstations I was using back then had up times measured in years... Admittedly we did have some NT servers too that pretty much just sat there doing their job with not much trouble. Still are for all I know.
Question is, do they have beer of any sort on the space station? I'm not holding out much hope that they've got anything that CAMRA would approve of.
Hang on, hasn't the US courts already decided that they're identical in every conceivable way? That would mean there's no market for such a skin...
By definition you can't 'copy' something that does not exist. Apple have released no images, details or anything whatsoever about any putative iPhone 5, so there is absolutely nothing to copy. For Apple to successfully uphold a complaint they would have to prove industrial espionage had occurred, and that's going to be veeeeery difficult. Otherwise it's just hard luck.
Indeed Apple themselves would more likely to be on the receiving end of a successful legal complaint from Goophone, especially in China!
There is some precedent for a situation like Apple's being un-resolvable in Europe too. Rover (the now extinct British car manufacturer) completely by chance chose a style of radiator grill design that was uncannily similar to that which Audi had also chosen. Rover got to market first. Audi did actually make some very quiet public complaints, but there was nothing they could do. Rover theoretically could have made a formal complaint against Audi, but did the sensible thing and made nothing of it themselves. Commonsense prevailed (and Rover went bust anyway).
Yodobashi Akihabara these days seems to be full of Chinese visitors spending a lot of money on TVs, etc. I would imagine that quite a lot of what they're buying is made in China....Astonishing how times have changed.
I miss the old Akihabara, it really was geek heaven.
I visit reasonably often, and it is interesting to chart the history of 3D TVs. I can remember when they first came out Yodobashi was full of them, with very prominent displays of many different 3D TV sets. It wasn't long before that changed. Nowadays they are still there, but it definitely isn't a selling point.
The only reason BBM works well is because of certain specific things in BlackBerry hardware and the OS (push, their security model, etc). Take those away (e.g move BBM over to Android) and you'd end up with something as rubbish as WhatsUp.
"Wonder why the kids love it then?"
Because the neat way RIM do push notifications makes it very cheap on data and the battery lasts longer. All good things if you're paying for it out of your pocket money and are stuck in school all day with no access to a mains socket for charging.
@Hamsternet, just goes to show how little you know about how RIM do push notifications and security (ie the things that make BBM work really well). Android, WinPhone and iOS just don't provide the right facilities.
Putting BBM on anything else would be like trying to get a petrol car to run on diesel blended with stale cat's pies.
Also I suggest you check up on the FIPs security rating of Android and iOS before saying that they're as good as BB OS.
"BBM is just an application, it could be rewritten for any platform."
Hmmm, seems that you know nothing of the inner workings of BlackBerry... To exactly replicate BBM on another mobile platform you'd have to replicate their push, identity, and encryption systems. That would be exceedingly difficult on any other platform. Oh, and it's not just BBM that uses these things; they underpin pretty much everything else that's good on a blackberry, especially the push notifications for email, twitter, Facebook, skype, etc.
The reason why these things are battery killers and data slurpers on other mobile platforms is because they can't do push properly.
"Why single out Apple for selling computers with DVD drives that fail? Of course Apple doesn't make their own optical drives--they use the same drives as any PC manufacturer. Typically the DVD drive is the first thing to fail in my PCs too."
It is worth singling out Apple on this. They make machines that are hard to repair, charge a very high price, give the stingiest warranty possible (sometimes worse than local laws demand, e.g. in Italy) and you end up with something that doesn't have a correspondingly higher build quality. Poor value for money.
At least a PC and most PC laptops it is quite straightforward, cheap and effective to repair them when something goes wrong.
Beyond that I don't care whether a Mac has an optical drive or not - I'd never buy one these days.
@ DrXym: "It's not a five minute job."
Sorry, I know, I was being flippant... But the fact that an Android app can be ported instead of having to completely rewrite it is something I think sets a good example for the rest of the handset manufacturers.
Of course, it is probably far more important to RIM in these times of corporate strife to be semi-compatible with another ecosystem (they chose Android). I very much doubt that Google or Apple consider it vital to be compatible with RIM! However, imagine how nice it would be if there was a common execution run time environment available on Android, iOS, RIM and Win8. Shame that commercial interests at Apple, Google and MS mean that they hide from competition in their walled gardens. AFAIK only RIM provide the standard Java runtime.
" It can tether to a Blackberry or it can use WiFi, that's it."
Blackberry Bridge used to have a 'Bridge Browser' - essentially the phone's web browser somehow remoted to the Playbook. It meant you could use the phone as the 3G connection without incurring any tethering charges, so there really was no need to have 3G in the playbook.
However it didn't work so well in my experience but the idea was sound. Shame that they took it out in OS2.0 instead of fixing it properly.
"That isn't necessarily a bad thing as the old tablet is rather good although it's not android which is its biggest problem."
I agree - their tablet is pretty slick, I have one and prefer it to Androids and iPads. Whilst it *isn't* Android, there are a lot of Android apps being ported to the Playbook (it's a five minute job, RIM have been clever there) and are turning up on the app store. So, not Android, but does that actually matter if you can run Android apps?
"The writing was on the wall for RIM the day Microsoft announce Exchange Activesync; it removed their entire USP."
Hardly. Exchange Activesync is yet another email/calendar protocol that relies on an open and live tcp network connection in order for the server to notify the client that something has changed. Fine on a desktop, eye-wateringly bad on a mobile with limited battery life and eats into data allowances.
In contrast RIM's push notification system was designed for and is very good for mobile platforms (no continually live connection needed). That's good for battery life and data allowances (especially important when abroad). Furthermore their push system is not limited to just email and calendar. Any application developer can take advantage of it (e.g. Facebook or Twitter client apps, or even something bespoke you've written yourself). All in all it works very well.
I point my own BB at Hotmail. In practise this is results in RIM's servers talking to Hotmail using Exchange Activesync, and RIM's email infrastructure does the rest. I also point Outlook at the same account using MS's Hotmail Connector, which also uses Exchange Activesync. Email consistently turns up on my BB faster than it does on Outlook. Go work that one out, I can't, though RIM are clearly doing a good job of it.
MS phones may very well have a lot of the same functionality as a BB phone, but neither MS or anyone else have RIM's push system. RIM's QNX is also significantly better than the brain dead NT kernel that is the foundation of Win8, and is arguably better (on a mobile platform) than the Unix/Linux bases of iOS and Android. RIM have the superior technical foundations, but are struggling at the moment to turn those into a must-have overall offering.
"Now anytime any vendor issues any statement of support for a company or their products they have to assume that they will be committing themselves to supporting that product forever under any circumstances."
Yes indeed, and especially where HP is concerned. If they make this stick then no-one will ever want to support anything on HP kit ever again. The rest of the Itanic software community (who are they?) must be shitting bricks right now. This ultimately would be very damaging for HP.
It's not even as if Itanium is any good anymore anyway. It wasn't that good when it was brand new. It's almost as if HP are kidding themselves that this dying platform has a future; it hasn't.
"The court might be able to force Oracle to support Itanium, but they can't make them do it well."
Quite right. Or at least I desperately hope you're right; the alternative is too mad to contemplate. If Oracle ultimately lose they are surely going to put as little effort into Itanic as possible. All HP have achieved in doing is sending their customers a message that Oracle on other platforms is going to be significantly better than it will be on Itanic. It's almost free advertising for HP's rivals.
"Conversely, as you say in the article, most Linux distros include libdvdcss or libdvdcss2. You can download those for free from the repos anyway."
That is going to be an interesting one...
AKAIK you're not supposed to even lend a music CD to a friend in Japan. That is an existing law, not this new one. Kinda explains Sony's unbelievable attitude to the rest of the world (rootkits on CDs, no Linux on PS3, etc etc). And given that the Japanese government is easily influenced by big business it is not surprising to see the laws being extended so.
Jeez, this is a long chain of replies, but I'll shove my tuppence in anyway.
If you've got a corporate email system, shared calendars / address books anything else is woefully inadequate.
"Firstly, it's really not possible to rank the different OSes in the way you have and present it as fact."
Yes it is, I just did! And as if to to prove my point you go on to say "Everyone has their own list".
Android's record on security is comparatively poor. Most people would like their personal data safeguarded, and updates are central to that in this day and age. Not having any personal data on a smartphone at all seems counterintuitive - what's it for otherwise!? So in whose best interests does Google act? Seemingly not its Android users.
Note - this is just about the upgradeability of the OSes, not the quality and usefulness of the devices themselves.
By standardising the hardware platform MS has created a good ecosystem into which they can push updates. They can do so rapidly and uniformly so that everyone gets the latest. Hopefully they won't spoil it by letting the mobile network operators get in the way. If they choose to crack on with the job they could rapidly catch up with the others. Early days yet, and might establish a reliable track record.
Having their own hardware platform has allowed Apple to put out updates fairly regularly. They lose points though in having botched it a few times, and in artificially disabling new features on old handsets. It is disappointing to see the jail breakers getting them going without too much difficulty, exposing Apple's naked exploitation of their market.
Being in a similar position to Apple they have the same opportunities though haven't actually made all that much of it. Upgrades seem to be dependent on the network operators too. Plus there is the big question as to whether they'll be around long enough to make anything of this. A shame, their offering would be fantastic if they could respond quicker.
And last. The fragmentation of Android has ruined any prospect of a controlled update strategy. This has driven the homebrew sector, but clearly this isn't workable for the majority of handset owners. Clearly this strategy is remarkably successful for the manufacturers, and disguises a naked market exploitation even more cynical than Apple's.
By market share:
4th, 2nd, 3rd, 1st. Not quite a complete reversal, but it goes to show how easy it is to persuade people to buy something inferior and then sell them another that's only slightly better. Samsung must be laughing all the way to the bank. They get the profit from selling phones, Google get the blame if there's bugs, and Samsung can sell another phone to fix the bug!
Iran, on Independence day? Surely not. Most likely to be the Brits don't you think?
Forget computers, it's photocopiers that I don't get on with. It wasn't so bad ten years ago, pressing the wrong button would waste only a few hundred sides of paper. Now the damn things are so fast they spit out thousands and thousands of wasted sheets in the blink of an eye, all neatly collated and stapled.
Why have so many outfits forgotten what an operating system is supposed to do? It's supposed to provide a given set of features and an environment in which applications can run ****with a minimum of overhead****, especially on battery powered devices.
Booting into HTML5 as the lowest possible API level is just madness. Even Google recognise this, for despite this being the general philosophy of the Chromebook they've gone and done NaCl too, which is another completely bizarre thing. Segment registers, good grief.
Firefox OS sounds like a completely bloated battery waster to me. Afterall, Firefox Browser doesn't have a reputation for being a sleek, reliable and efficient bit of software on the desktop...
Apple sort of had it right, native is the best way to go to maximise the batter life. Except that the API they expose to people writing native apps on iOS is hamstrung. Dunno about WinPhone.
Blackberry now do a *free* NDK for the Playbook, and if you squint only a little bit (no console I/O AFAIK - printfs end up in the debugger's console window, not on the device's screen) you'd think you're writing C/C++ on top of any old POSIX platform. It's quite refreshing, you could almost be writing for Linux. You're in fact writing for QNX, which is POSIX compliant :-) I'm fairly sure that it's free to put an app on their App Store too.
A neat example of this is the fact that Stellarium has recently pitched up on the BB App Store. Someone's gone and recompiled it seemingly with a minimum of fuss.
It's a bizarre situation. The 'free' Linux based mobile platform (Android) doesn't let you easily write in C/C++ against the POSIX API, where one of the most proprietary platforms out there does.
If you want to programme C/C++ on a mobile device, Playbook's not a bad place to be at the moment. I'm kind of hoping that they can survive their current difficulties, because I think they're offering one of the technically better platforms. It's just a shame that they're not fashionable. VHS vs Betamax?
Wooohooo, changing people's data behind there backs, now there's a way to piss people off!
In the UK the law says that a company must securely store data within the limits of the permissions given by the data owner, must correctly process the data and must ensure that the data is accurate. Changing recorded email addresses, especially in a database that distinctly isn't Facebook's (i.e. the address book on your phone) is breaking the law in several ways, all at once! Even if their T&Cs say they can that'd likely be judged to be an unreasonable condition.
Expect things to get worse than this foul up. Now that they've got angry shareholders to placate with profits and rising share price they're going to have to find every which way of extracting more data. Of course, the more they do this sort of thing the more likely it is that they'll lose members, just like MySpace did.
Trust me, it's definitely well worth the trip :-)
Well there's genius for you. You're suggesting that a firm that has a boring but effective enterprise offering ditches all that and becomes just another also-ran Android manufacturer? Blackberry messaging on top of Android cannot be the same as it is on RIM's own phones because Android is rubbish at security, and you can't have secure messaging if messages are vulnerable to uncontrolled malware on the mobile device. It would have substantially less appeal to enterprise users.
RIM's problem is that security is seen as boring, and it is. Right now there are companies out there being swayed by the BYOD promise of less costs and happier staff. However, they're doing so probably because some high up manager wants a flashy phone despite their IT manager's protests.
It is noteworthy that IBM has tried BYOD and then abruptly changed their mind (El Reg passum). Have they had a data accident? Anyway, most companies will likely perceive no problem with BYOD right up until they discover that their IPR and data have been nicked and their business is in serious trouble as a result.
BYOD may well be a passing phase after which companies painfully re-discover the need for corporate security. If RIM isn't there at that point in time offering something like they do now, I’m not sure there will be an equivalent alternative. Google depends on reading your Gmail. Apple don’t care and is becoming more like Google every day. MS don’t seem to have got it yet. Third party add-ons are not a good solution if the underlying OS doesn’t provide the right support (which Android, iOS, and WinPhone don’t really do). RIM need to think long term, but shareholders these days generally aren't in to long term thinking.
Yes indeed, I quite agree.
HP's up and coming memristor technology (which has many of the same characteristics to RRAM) apparently scales to 1 petabit / cm^2. Yes, that really is massively huge. Now obviously their very first device isn't going to be anything like that capacious, but the writing is on the wall for FLASH. I've not read too much about RRAM, but clearly that's only going to get better too.
When such devices do become available it will be very refreshing. No more wear levelling, thankfully, decent write / read times, no need to block erase (at least for memristor). That will make actually using these solid state storage technologies far simpler than FLASH. This in turn will bring about even greater performance.
I think that these advantages will place huge pressure on the manufacturers to build bulk storage devices. Using them merely as cache for FLASH bulk storage is just making things more complicated again; he who can sidestep all the complexity by losing the FLASH altogether will have a truly awesome product to sell.
Slight diversion: a chum did a quick sum, and reckoned that if HP really did do a 1 petabit / cm^2 device you'd need only 100 m^2 of them to have enough memory to fully describe every atom in a human body.
The difference is that drivel generated by machines does nothing the advertisers, whereas human generated drivel does. At the end of the day a human may be persuaded to part with cash and buy the advertised goods, whereas the machine is always going to ignore the ad. Unless there's a bug.
Perhaps this is where this is leading. We've had video recorders to watch TV programs that we've no intention of watching ourselves. We've now got PVRs to do the same thing, only digitally, and more than one at time. Now Apple are saying that we can have a machine to talk to other people for us on forums that we've no interest in. Perhaps that will evolve into their machine spending our money for us on goods that we have no interest in either, save us the hassle... Ker-ching!!!
"Well, hold on there chief. If you genuinely need actual real threads, maybe. But non-blocking IO can be done perfectly well using coroutines/greenlets/green threads/lightweight processes or whatever else you want to call em; chunks of non-parallel co-operatively multitasking code. "
My point really was that if there were very good reasons to use threads in Python then you're going to need something else too if you want to do blocking IO at the same time you want other threads to run. To have to resort to things like coroutines just to get round the issue of the GIL is crazy if all you want to do in a particular thread is read something from a socket whenever it cares to turn up. Makes writing something like a mult-theaded server unnecessarily painful.
To me it's just a symptom that the Python creators found solving the problem to be too hard (for exactly the reasons you outline about threads in general), so wisely didn't even try. By the by, I invite you to consider the relationship between NUMA, the pipe() function, and Intel's Quick Path Interconnect / AMD's HyperTransport. Once you understand that relationship threads become a *lot* easier, unless you're programming in Windows.
The point about C++ in the data centre is that if you're I/O bound then your CPU is too powerful for your needs so you're wasting electricity. It does mean that you can 'get away' with things like Python, Ruby, etc. which in turn may bring about genuine business benefits.
To get the best efficiency you want a CPU that's only just fast enough to keep your I/O fully utilised. And if you really optimise your code in C++ (hell, why not C?!) you can get away with a CPU that's just a little bit more modest. That makes a worthwhile difference to an electricity bill when you're the size of Google or Amazon. The trick I guess is to anticipate whether one's own data cente is ever going to have to scale that large and choose a language as appropriate at the right point in time; tricky.
I second all that. Plus the Global Interpreter Lock is a pretty poor construct these days. I mean, who's never heard of a thread blocking on I/O before?
Python has it's place, some fairly good things have been done in it pretty quickly. But for those who are planning on scaling up truly large it's worth looking at how others have done it.
Google and Amazon were C/C++ at their cores straight away. Facebook had to work out how to compile PHP in order to scale up (ironically by converting PHP to C++...). Twitter ran into scaling problems with Ruby and jumped ship (over a weekend apparently...) to SCALA, but they're only handling 140 characters at a time. NetFlix are C++ (AFAIK).
All those outfits are globally enourmous, and only Twitter seem to have avoided going to C++ one way or another. And it's obvious why. When one's datacentre(s) are vast and the energy costs sky high who wouldn't be prepared to spend a few $100k on programmers who can get you that extra few percent savings by going to the lowest level language that's viable?
"I'm not a hardware guy but my understanding is that open sourcing the drivers and securing the hardware secrets aren't mutually exclusive goals."
It depends. It's quite normal these days for the full functionality of a piece of hardware to depend on an OS driver uploading a piece of firmware. It makes developing the hardware a lot cheaper because you can fix 'hardware' problems by changing the firmware instead of blowing another few tens of million printing up another set of lithography masks.
Trouble is the firmware betrays quite a lot about the hardware design so it is understandable that manufacturers aren't too keen on people getting easy access to it. Whether this is NVidia's position or not I don't know, but it's a fair bet that the source code for their drivers/firmware would be very revealing about their technology.
If NVidia's choice were between keeping Linus happy (and opening up their intellectual property to all) and upsetting Linus (but keeping their secrets to themselves) they will always tell Linus to go **** himself. NVidia have shareholders to keep happy, and upset shareholders are much nastier to deal than an irate penguin. Remember that in the USA their laws on business practise and shareholder value are particularly harsh when it comes to punishments / jail time.
If Linus can't empathise with NVidia's point of view then that's likely to remain his problem, not theirs. I personally think that the level of driver support that NVidia has provided is actually quite generous; there's no law saying 'thou shalt do a Linux driver', and it's not likely to be bringing in any money. Linus might just have prompted NVidia to be less generous in the future, and no-one will benefit from that.
Hmm, it seems difficult to pin the problem on Adobe/Flash.
All seems to be working fine in Chrome, and that uses the very same plugin AFAIK. So if Chrome+Flash = OK, and Firefox+Flash = not OK, one would start looking at Firefox first I should think.
I think you're right though. I don't think any of that would have stopped that certain flash-basher dishing out an additional opportunistic bashing, despite the fact that no one seems to be saying about Safari+Flash which presumably means all is well there too.
Completely with you there, the Psion 5 keyboard was fantastically good for the size.
"radio 4 is brilliant you know, you can enjoy a show whilst doing something with you life). at least HIGNFY (which please god, somebody f*cking shoot in the head, whats it like now, series 1367 with the same f*cking jokes every episode) has a small visual element."
HIGNFY is old hat? Hardly, it's been going on for only 22 years. Even The News Quiz on R4 is only just settling in aged 35. Sky at Night, now that's a proper programme, 55 years and counting, all with dear ol' P Moore at the helm.
I suspect that a lot of US based readers have no idea what Radio4 is... To give them some idea, it is a steamy mix of sex (Charlotte Green), laughs (1830), despicable violence (Archers) and intellect (everything else). Most Britons are addicted to it.
Yes, iPlayer seems to work pretty well. Skype on Samsung's SmartTV works very well indeed, though you do have to get Samsung's webcam. To be honest, I think iPlayer and Skype, perhaps a bit of browsing, are the killer apps for a SmartTV. Samsing's SmartTV (and probably others) can also be turned into a PVR - just plug in some USB storage et voila!
I think that what these market figures show is that the manufacturers are pitching the level of sophistication just right. They doing it at a reasonably low cost, and doing just a few things well. That fits how most people purchase a TV. A buyer can justify the extra expense because it's not really that much extra, so it's worth the punt.
I think it should serve as a warning to the likes of Apple and Microsoft - if it's built in it has to be cheap. For example, consider if Apple sold a £500 telly with a £400 mark up for a fancy built in Apple computer. Come upgrade time one might be looking to get a bigger one, so perhaps that'll be £600 worth of telly with another £400 mark up for the Apple bit. And given that the new Apple bit isn't likely to do anything significantly new or revolutionary in comparison to the old one (play films, browse, Skype a bit), you'd just have put £400 in Apple's pocket to to have it built in. Quite a lot of customers wouldn't want to do that.
Another salutary lesson can be found back in the mists of time. Back when DVD players were pricey no one built one in to the telly, despite this perfectly possible. Same with BluRay today. So if Apple TV and whatever MS are thinking off is the 'DVD player of the Internet' then it's probably better off not being in the telly.
To be honest I use a Blackberry Playbook to do my Smart TV thing, remote control it from a Blackberry phone. Works pretty well, does iPlayer, browses very well, 1080p HDMI output, streams music, films, etc. Now if only there were a proper Skype client...
I've been wondering about MS's strategy for ARM for some time now. Here's some musings on the matter.
Win8 is a tablet OS, and there will be an ARM version. So perhaps the x64 version is just almost coincidental, just because it's comparatively easy to do having done Win8 ARM.
ARM is going to be very important to MS. They think so too; they bought a very expensive license from ARM, and it was something they didn't especially need just to do a tablet OS. I don't think that they're going to stop at Win8 ARM and tablets.
Both HP and Dell are beginning to sell ARM based servers. Currently they're Linux machines. That sort of machine could get a real foothold in the server market place. I think that's a real possibility because of their impressively low power consumption.
If MS hadn't got an ARM version of Windows Server they would be cut out of that market. I think they recognise that (they bought that ARM license after all), and are aiming on porting the whole Windows Server to ARM.
So is Win 8 ARM is just an initial stepping stone in that direction (with Win 8 x64 a simple spin off)? Are they just testing the water, see what's what? Or maybe this is the reasoning they'll use when Win8 x64 flops...
...and still can't stand it.
The ridiculousness of it is amply illustrated when you find that you can turn on the Administrative Programs tiles. Then it truly goes to pot. How on earth are you supposed to use that?!?!
Other crap - it is heavily biased towards being signed in with a Microsoft Account. How's that supposed to work in a company domain?
I'm not going to buy it, that's for sure.
Queue the music!
It will be interesting to see if they can make NFC work any better than things did in the film. Though by the sounds of it TfL have already seen the film and don't want to make it even a tiny bit real...
Yep, the entire SUICA setup does seem to work very well indeed. I've no idea why any other tech is even being considered elsewhere. And it's not just transport - load of shops, coffee stands, vending machines, etc. all use it.
In other words it really is a near universal system for small purchases, just like the West wants NFC to be. Except it's already been working for 5 years.
"Depends how you cook 'em."
Peking Penguin? Hmmmmm, I'd try it... Penguin a la orange doesn't sound so tasty though.
"Penguin, 'cos everyone knows what they're like."
Not as tasty as ducks?
Oh I dunno, doesn't it depend on how well fed the echidna is?
Great piece of work I thought, well done them!
I generally found that Windows 7 works better on any given hardware than XP. I've even got it running reasonably well on a 7 year old Dell laptop (and certainly better than xp sp3 on the same machine).
If you're ever going to have to upgrade OS you're probably want to get 7, not 8. I've no idea if MS are going to keep selling 7 once 8 is out...
Ah well, it's all fine and dandy to wait for the release, but many of us have been trying the consumer preview (myself included). It would be a significant surprise if the release turned out to be very different. Personally speaking I hate the metro interface on a desktop but I can see it working quite well on a tablet.
Two problems for Microsoft. First, there's a distinct lack of good PR resulting from the consumer preview. This might actually translate into bad PR once the mainstream press wake up. That's never good for a product launch.
Second, a platform depends on the developers to make it successful. Now developers are never going to use a tablet for this; they do too much typing and want several large screens. They want a good desktop OS, something that Win 8 really isn't. So if their life becomes too hard they might just go to a platform where life is easier. OS X springs to mind. The most talented individuals out there will certainly jump ship as soon as they get fed up.
The trouble is that there aren't enough devs to show up significantly in MS's usage statistics, yet in essence they are MS's most important customers. MS will ignore their views at their peril.
I'm very disappointed with MS. When they first started talking about ARM I thought great, proper Windows on ARM, maybe Metro for mobiles, ARM servers just round the corner, etc. Looks like they've been lazy buggers and tried to do mobile on the cheap and ruined desktop at the same time, and no hint of them innovating in ARM servers.
"as Elon Musk's SpaceX decided to tweak the software one more time."
It sounds very late in the day to be tweaking the software. You don't just go into that sort of software, make a few changes, re compile and upload to the target system all within a couple of hours...
" you're already trusting your life to programmers and engineers every time you get into a car now"
Not really, at least not in the same sense, and not to the same extent. The mechanical design can be analytically proven to be safe. The car's electronics and software do not yet have total authority over the cars actions. The driver still has direct mechanical / hydraulic control of the car, with the electronics and software just there to help.
The exception is air bags. It is highly important that they do *not* go off until you crash. However, they sometimes do - it happened to friends of mine whilst they were driving along the motorway, nearly killed them. Big fail, Ford. Other exceptions thus far are I think the brake-by-wire system on some Mercedes, and perhaps adaptive cruise control, neither of which I believe are wholly reliable.
With Google's self drive car it's different. Google's line is that you can cede control of the car and relax, in which case the car is now in control, not the driver. But the fact that the driver will remain legally responsible means that not even Google really trust their own system. So why should the driver? After all it'll be their crash, not Googles.
To extend your comparison (if I may) with autopilots in planes, another key difference lies in what the two systems actually do.
Aircraft autopilots are performing relatively simple flight dynamics calculations to keep the plane in the sky. They're processing data from reliable sensors (air speed, altitude, attitude, GPS, etc). They operate in an environment where there's nothing to hit except other aircraft that are easily spotted (radar systems / transponders work really well). Also they are similarly controlled either by an autopilot or by a pilot following the rules of the sky. Missing the ground is generally straightforward provided everything is working. They're not artificial intelligences systems; their rules are actually quite straightforward. In short, the problem is well specified, bounded and comparatively easy to test.
This system of Google's has to make complex decisions based on data that is not wholly reliable (image recognition systems never are) in a complex and highly varied environment. How, for example, does it cope with rain, fog, a patch of smoke, debris in the road, etc? It is a classic artificial intelligence situation in that the rules are not tightly defined. In short the problem is not well specified, is poorly bounded and is a nightmare to exhaustively test. Not a good place to be if one is contemplating offering this to the general public…
Your point about Google's corporate culture is valid. They've not got a tradition of developing safety critical systems. I very much doubt that there's anything about the development of this system that an avionics engineer would recognise as being appropriate and sufficient given the scale of the problem. Personally I'd prefer to spend my driving time looking after what the car's doing myself. I'd rather not spend the time wondering if and when another of Google's bugs will occur.
"...I'm quite keen to see these become mandatory".
Well that'd be interesting, especially if its use (not just it being standard equipment) was mandatory.
If the local legislature were to consider such a move then it would also, provided it had an ounce of common sense, transfer liability for accidents caused by a system failure to the manufacturer (or possibly to itself). It would be highly unreasonable for drivers (passengers?) to be held responsible for failures in a system which they are obliged by law to use.
So if that were done, that would mean Google (for example) would be responsible for every single accident caused by their system failing. That would potentially be one hell of a liability; one trivial bug could cost many millions of dollars in pay outs / fixes / etc.
Still, if it evolved to the point where mandatory use was truly backed up by proven reliability, perhaps then it would also acceptable to allow it to drive us home from the pub when drunk!
"so can i drink and get driven home in this?"
No. The person sat in the driver's seat will still be responsible for the actions of the car. Basically it's a way for Google to say that the software is in beta, and any bugs and consequences arising from them are not their fault. So if the car has an accident because of a bug and you're pissed or on the phone it's your fault.
Personally I think it is madness. What's the point of all that tech if it can't drive you home from the boozer? And would you really trust Google's software with your life?
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