* Posts by ChrisC

373 posts • joined 2 Jul 2009

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Hotter than the Sun: JET – Earth’s biggest fusion reactor, in Culham

ChrisC

“Nothing,” says Cave-Ayland. “You’re too big an impurity.”

Ouch... Given its scope for reminding people of their place in the universe, if this whole fusion power business doesn't work out as planned, they could always adapt the designs into the first prototype Total Perspective Vortex instead.

7
0

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

ChrisC

Re: Compare like with like

"Or you could just pay the <big evil vendor> and get a solution that works out of the box"

Provided that the <big evil vendor> solution works exactly the way you'd like it to work... Count me in as another fan of the old Windows Mobile devices - my first three smartphones all ran various iterations of WM, and I absolutely loved how open the OS was to allowing the end user to tweak stuff to their hearts content if the default way of doing things wasn't quite to their liking.

As someone who suffers from somewhat iffy colour vision, having the ability to knock up a custom colour scheme which was then respected by pretty much every part of the OS and third party apps, as opposed to the rather feeble lip-service usually paid to this sort of thing by many other OSs (and depressingly growing ever more feeble across ever more OSs as times goes on - don't get me started on how hostile "modern" UI design can be to people with less than perfect vision...) was an absolute godsend, and something I've missed ever since moving away from WM into the Android world. And that was just one of the countless things you could do with WM if you so desired.

So whilst I'll readily admit that WM wasn't a brilliant choice for the average user who just wanted a simple to use smartphone, and whilst the early iPhones genuinely did shake up the market in terms of making smartphones accessible from the moment you took them out of the box, it does frustrate me at the number of people who seem to equate "needs to be customised for your own personal preferences" with "can't do any of this stuff at all".

5
0

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

ChrisC

It might not have any 3D styling, but it does critically provide a very high level of contrast between it and its surrounding page area, making it absurdly simply to find and identify as something that can probably be clicked on, hovered over or otherwise interacted with in some way.

Let's not get too hung up over "flat" here - whilst the move to the more minimalistic flat styling was a bit of a shake-up after decades of 3D-styled UIs, at least those early flat UIs still provided clear delineation between their elements. The problem is *now* that UI design has progressed even further down the road of minimalisation, stripping away pretty much anything that lets you know which part of the UI does what. In some cases the designers didn't even stop there, and continued on to remove *every* visual hint as to where the active parts of the UI were in the expanse of seemingly anonymous whitespace they so graciously decided to dump in front of our eyeballs.

So I think when people are, quite rightly IMO, complaining about "flat" UI design today, many of us are really complaining about minimalistic UI design which is still promoted by some as "flat" design, if only because those few bits of UI styling which do still exist *are* just as flat as they were in the early days of "flat" UI design...

7
0
ChrisC

Re: Mr Nielsen

"Oooh, lovely text only interface."

Yes, it is quite lovely actually. Clean, simple, no nonsense, allowing the visitor to find the information they want with the minimum of effort.

And why go delving into the web archives for this particular iteration of his site anyway? If you want to criticise his current views on UI design, it feels a bit like clutching at straws to use a 5 year old version of his site instead of the current verson, the UI for which looks nothing like the old one...

9
0
ChrisC

Re: Mr Nielsen

Ideally a UI would both look good AND be useable, but if one of those two has to suffer then let it be looks, because whilst users can learn to ignore something that looks a bit iffy if it's supremely easy to use, they'll almost certainly never learn to love something which looks gorgeous but constantly hinders them from doing whatever it is they're trying to do.

You're right, good design is invisible, the user should never need to think about it. Flat UI design however seems to fall more onto the conspicuously absent side of the fence - taking away pretty much every bit of visual guidance to show users where to click, drag, type etc. and leaving them to guess at which parts of the UI do what really isn't good *UI* design, even though a static snapshot of the UI might look like really good graphic design.

12
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Official: Windows for Workstations returns in Fall Creators Update

ChrisC

Re: What about auto-updates?

"i5-4440, 12GB RAM, SSD etc"

Just what sort of business sector do you work in if you think that's a low/mid-spec PC???

Since having W10 foisted on us at work here, there have been several instances where I've switched my PC on in the morning, and half an hour later it's still not finished chuntering through whatever the hell it's decided to update this time...

And random reboots, oh yes, those too. Despite having my active hours set such that Windows shouldn't be doing anything during the times when I'm in the office, I recently left the PC running a data capture session while I popped out to grab some lunch. Half an hour later I got back to the office to find the bloody thing had done an update & reboot about 5 minutes after I walked out the door. There were a few barely concealed expletives hurled in the direction of the W10 development team at that point.

19
4

USA to screen tablets,
e-readers and handheld games before they fly

ChrisC

Re: Pre-registration?

Well yes, but don't forget that at the bottom of the registration form will be the question "Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a terrorist organisation", so that'll stop the bad guys in their tracks right there. Won't it?

12
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OnePlus cash equals 5: Rebel flagship joins upmarket Android crew

ChrisC

Quite. I'd always been in the "must have a SD slot" camp, but as time has gone by I've now found myself (not entirely willingly) moving over to the "must has as much onboard storage as affordable" camp instead.

I'd *love* it if Android actually did support SD cards as if they were nothing more than a second partition onto which you could do anything that it lets you do with the default internal partition, but since Android either continues to treat SD cards a a second-class citizen (by default) or as a fully tied-in part of the storage scheme (via adoptable storage), I'm finding that on my phone at least the benefits of having even a moderately large SD card are diminished by the inability to use the spare capacity on it to augment the rather more limited internal memory - how many times have I cursed the Android devs whenever the "insufficient memory to install this app" message pops up, when there's more free space on the SD card than the phone would be able to provide even if the entire internal memory was wiped clean... And don't get me started on how little love I had for them when they rolled out whichever version of Android it was that messed around with the SD access permissions for third-party apps.

I can't even remember the last time I pulled the card out of my phone, so other than the continued somewhat obscene markup on buying additional storage space internally vs how much the same capacity would cost in a decent quality SD card, it might as well just all be internal...

5
1

TfL, WTH is my bus? London looks up from its mobile

ChrisC

Re: There, there children. Sorry your pacifier is b0rken.

For the routes the OH works on, there are two types of timekeeping employed - reporting points and headways.

On routes using reporting points, there are a handful of places along the route (typically the start and end points plus a few selected stops at regular intervals) at which the bus is expected to turn up at a specific time. At other points along the route, *including any bus stops not designated as reporting points*, the bus is free to arrive/depart at any time as required in order to ensure it arrives at the next reporting point as close to the required time as possible.

On headway routes, buses are instead expected to maintain a fixed time offset to the bus ahead of them, so that whilst the exact time of arrival at any given stop isn't defined, the interval between buses at each stop ought to be consistent.

Bus operating companies take this quite seriously, and drivers can and do get hauled up in front of their line management if they're regularly seen to be ignoring the reporting point or headway timings without a damn good reason (e.g. emergency roadworks throwing the whole schedule into disarray). The amount of monitoring of London bus and driver performance that goes on is quite something to see if you're still of the belief that buses are these antiquated means of getting from A to B, little more than giant tin boxes on wheels still pottering around in blissful ignorance of the march of technology all around them - realtime position tracking to enable the onboard stop announcements and remote monitoring of timings/headways back at the control centre, onboard acceleration/braking/cornering force logging (which are also used as a way of beating up the drivers if they're seen to be driving in a manner not in keeping with whatever policy their company has - e.g. driving for maximum passenger comfort, driving to maximise fuel economy etc), multi-camera interior and exterior CCTV setups, system diagnostics/fault logging (particularly so on the hybrids/other alternative fuel buses)...

So if a London bus doesn't arrive within the time interval stated on the bus stop, it generally means something has gone wrong further up the route, and only rarely will it mean that the bus is being driven by someone who really doesn't care about maintaining correct timings. There certainly are some drivers like that, they just tend not to last very long in the job these days given how quickly their employer will come down on them like a large quantity of rectangular fired clay building blocks - most drivers are only too keen to avoid the risk of disciplinary action, so do attempt to maintain the required timings if possible.

10
0

Researchers blind autonomous cars by tricking LIDAR

ChrisC

Re: Er ?

You asked: "Where did they get that 55 metres at 60 mph from and what is it meant stand for ?"

Article said: "As per the data from UK Department for Transport, 55m is the braking distance for a car driving at 60mph."

You asked: "Is that meant to be a reaction time or a stopping distance ?"

Article said: "Because the braking distance is the distance required solely for braking,"

See also the braking distance chart at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/559afb11ed915d1595000017/the-highway-code-typical-stopping-distances.pdf

1
0

Tesco Online IT meltdown: Fails to deliver thousands of grocery orders

ChrisC

However did we survive before electricity, mains water, the internal combustion engine, written and spoken language...

It's not that people are generally unable to survive without something which didn't exist x years ago, more that once the value of x starts to get large enough, that something has probably now become such an integral part of their lifestyle that to lose access to it, particularly with no warning at all, can cause significant problems.

8
0

Samsung releases 49-inch desktop monitor with 32:9 aspect ratio

ChrisC

Re: Optional

Another disadvantage is that with a monitor like this, you've put all your display eggs into a single basket. When that monitor fails, and sooner or later it will, what do you do then?

Meanwhile, those of us with just as much overall desktop real estate composed from physically independent monitors sat side by side, top to bottom, or whatever particular combination floats our boats, will just have to cope with a fraction of that real estate being out of action for however long it take a replacement to arrive, whilst still being able to continue working with what's left in the meantime.

Then there's the question over how well it'll fit on your desk compared with two side by side monitors where you've got the ability to adjust the angle between them as required to get them both tucked neatly into whatever free space is available. And then is the curvature of this one big screen just right for your personal preferences, or would you really have liked it to be a little bit flatter/more curved?

I mean, yes, I can see the appeal of having a single seamless display which is presumably nicely colour/brightness/sharpness/etc matched across the whole area, as opposed to a bunch of display areas seperated by bezels of varying widths, and where consistency can't even be assumed if you're using multiple identical monitors all bought from the same batch, let alone if you've cobbled together a multi-monitor setup in a more piecemeal fashion. And having just one physical display would also stop Windows from randomly deciding to reallocate your primary and secondary screens on startup. Oh how I laugh when that happens, how I giggle with mirth at the jolly prank the MS coders have just pulled on me...

But I just couldn't see myself feeling happy about spending that much money (particularly in comparison to how much it'd cost to get two identical 1920x1080 monitors of comparable quality to this behemoth) on something which, whilst stunning to look at, also brings with it a bunch of compromises of its own.

And as others have mentioned, at the end of the day it's only a 1080 display, no matter how many pixels are available in total... Given the abundance of 16:9 1080 panels available due to their use in LCD TVs, I can understand why it's now so difficult to find a 16:10 1200 monitor, but for a screen like this I'm not sure that explanation holds much water.

1
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I still haven't found what I'm malloc()ing for: U2 tops poll of music today's devs code to

ChrisC

Mostly a mix of foreign language artists - Rammstein, Megaherz, Skalmold and Terasbetoni for when I just want a wall of noise to block out everything else to let me focus on the code in front of me, or Ruslana, Clannad, Mor ve Otesi and a handful of one-off tracks from some other performers if I just want to keep my ears entertained without simulating the speech processing parts of my brain - and instrumental/orchestral/soundtrack for times when I'm in a more relaxed mood but still want something that can be played loud.

0
0

Intel gives the world a Core i9 desktop CPU to play with

ChrisC

Re: At 140 Watts...

A really nice hot cup of tea, excellent. Now, where did I put my Bambleweeny 57...

7
0
ChrisC

Re: But I don't want more cores!

Start up your PC and let it boot into the OS. Now, without manually starting up *any* apps, games or whatever else you might use your PC for, open up the task manager and see just how much stuff is already running in the background...

Your favourite game might be so badly coded that it genuinely can only use a single core, but even then your gaming experience will be enhanced by having additional cores available to handle all the other crap that a modern PC will want to be running at the same time. Oh sure, for each specific workload there'll always be a question over whether x cores at y GHz vs (n*x) cores at (y / m) GHz gives the best performance, but the long term trend seems to be heading straight down the road signposted "More Cores Please".

Personally speaking, I can't wait to see these multi-core beasts hit the market, so long as the renewed level of competition between Intel and AMD keeps prices at a sane level - I could really do with refreshing my desktop system at some point in the next year...

5
1

Nest leaves competition in the dust with new smart camera

ChrisC

"Most usefully, the camera is able to pan and tilt, following someone around the room – something that is done through the software rather than moving the camera physically."

Hmm... Not really what I'd call panning/tilting, particularly given the limitations it places on where you can physically locate the cameras whilst still providing the fields of view required.

1
0

London City airport swaps control tower for digital cameras

ChrisC

Re: Extra redundancy would have meant windows

"They are landing planes..problaby with a 100ms lag...that is unacceptable."

Umm, you do realise that the controllers in the tower (real or virtual) don't actually *control* the aircraft, and if it gets to the point where having a fraction of a second of lag in the virtual view leads to an incident, then things had already gone pretty badly wrong some time ago...

Now, I'm not saying I don't have some reservations about this idea, however aircraft can and do land and take off quite safely without any assistance from the tower controllers, and there will already be procedures in place to cope with loss of comms with a locally situated tower. So if things were to go completely T.I.T.S.U.P. with the virtual tower then it might make for an interesting few minutes elsewhere in Swanwick as the area controllers shuffle stuff around to cope with the diversions away from City, but it isn't going to cause aircraft on final approach to suddenly drop out of the sky.

3
0

Giant spawn hammer on Antarctica map. Thanks, Google Waze

ChrisC

"Others have also vandalised Antarctica in Waze, it appears"

Given the lack of real roads or motorists in that part of the world, it's a handy location for running tests on how the map editing tools and/or route calculations behave, so I suspect that most of what you think is vandalism down there is anything but.

The subject of this article OTOH... And from a level 4 editor too, who really ought to know better - wouldn't surprise me if their editing rights end up being a bit curtailed as a result of this.

0
1

NASA nixes Trump's moonshot plan

ChrisC

Re: What's the problem

In which case, he needs to have a chat with the occupants of 62 West Wallaby Street, as the whole design and test process for their successful cheesemoon landing and return to Earth was documented for posterity some years ago...

13
0

Microsoft touts next Windows 10 Creators Update: It's set for a Fall

ChrisC

“I don't want anyone to think that the next version of Windows has a dramatic look and feel difference,” said Gallo.

Meh :-(

That said, right now I'd happily put up with the continued eye-gougingly bad UI if they'd at least let us control exactly when updates got installed and, more importantly, when the resultant reboot then occurred. It's now got to the point at work where I've had to leave one of my personal Win7 laptops permanently in the lab just so I've got access to a PC that I know won't decide to spontaneously restart itself overnight, at the weekend, or, from time to time even during the middle of the working day, and which therefore is suitable to use as part of a long-ish duration data capture test.

Someone drag me away from the keyboard before I get onto the hardware compatibility issues with some esoteric (and not so esoteric) development kit which was absolutely rock-solid on the same PC running Win7, but which either now doesn't work at all, or does so at a level of flakiness that risks it being reclassified as an item of chocolate-based confectionary and stuck into a big dollop of ice cream...

To then have MS rub salt into the wound by labelling these latest builds of 10 as "Creators Updates" is really taking the proverbial. For at least some people who use (or try to use) their Win10 PCs to create stuff, each update to the OS takes us ever further away from the point we'd like the OS to be, and where we quite happily would have remained if only corporate IT hadn't decreed that we all needed to switch over to 10 from whatever older but wonderfully reliable versions of Windows we happened to be using.

4
0

Broadband providers almost double prices after deals end

ChrisC

Enjoy it whilst it lasts... in my experience over the last decade it seems like insurers are happy to dish out competitive renewal quotes for a couple of years, but then sooner or later will whack you with a quote that's so far out of the ballpark it should be taken as a clear sign that they really, genuinely, no longer want your business.

0
0

Boeing 737 turns 50

ChrisC

Re: I always feel safer in Boeings than Airbus.

In the context of your reply to the earlier poster, then you're right - the A340 has yet to suffer a fatal accident. It isn't however accident-free...

1
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ChrisC

Re: The 737 will likely be operated for 100 years

Even more remarkable than the longevity of the 737 family is that of another Boeing creation, the B-52 Stratofortress. At present the USAF is still expecting to be flying these for another 20-odd years, which will not only take it up to near on 100 years since the maiden flight, but will also mean that the last flying examples will be around 80 years old by the time they retire - unlike the 737 story where its longevity is being helped along by newly built airframes, the last B-52 airframes were produced in the early 1960's...

4
0
ChrisC

Re: I always feel safer in Boeings than Airbus.

If you think Airbus should be avoided due to their earliest design being unable to withstand abuse from the pilots, then presumably you also think Boeing should be avoided due to the 737 (yes, the darling of this very article) having had a rudder design flaw of its own which caused two of them (United 585 and USAir 427) to crash without the pilots needing to do anything, let alone anything like repeatedly mashing the rudder pedals back and forth for 20 seconds, which is actually quite a long period of time in this context.

As much as I admire Airbus for having achieved so much success as they have in the cut-throat airliner business, and for being a pan-European collaboration we (at least those of us on the right side of the pond) ought to generally be proud of, I also see much to admire in long and distinguished history of Boeing. They both make mistakes, but they also both produce some truly world-class pieces of aviation engineering that I personally am only too happy to trust my life to.

So whenever I then hear stuff like this, or the TL:DR "if it ain't Boeing I ain't going" variant, it makes me think the person saying it really doesn't have a clue what they're talking about.

13
0

Microsoft's new hardware: eight x86 cores, 40 GPU cores

ChrisC

Re: Multiprocessing

"what are they good for?"

Cores, what are they good for, absolutely nothing...

...unless you're running a whole bunch of different things that can make use of all the available thread processing power at hand ;-)

1
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OK... Red wire or black... *Clickety* You've emailed the schematic? Yes, got it! It's opening. And... WHAT? NO!

ChrisC

Re: What is considered an acceptable bandwidth ?

"I can download a film 10x faster than it takes to watch it."

You might be happy watching stuff with an average encoded bitrate of 170Kbps, but some of us have slightly higher standards than that ;-)

In all seriousness though, who defines what "normal" requirements are? One person might only ever use t'internet for the occasional email or spot of online shopping, whereas another person might live their entire life online, taking full advantage of all the services available (streaming media, VOIP telephony/video calling, cloud storage/applications etc. etc). Both sets of user requirements may well be entirely "normal" from the perspective of anyone else who has a similar lifestyle to the users in question, but would seem completely abnormal to pretty much anyone else.

Full disclosure time: I've always been of the opinion that there's no such thing as a "fast enough" internet connection (*) - I switched from V.90 dialup to ADSL pretty much as soon as it became commercially available in the UK (and if it hadn't launched when it did, I was seriously considering getting a bonded ISDN connection instead), then switched to VM cable getting on for 12 years ago after moving house. My home connection is currently a VM 200Mb/12Mb link, and I'm awaiting further news of their 300Mbps rollout plans with eager anticipation... So from your perspective, I definitely don't have normal requirements, but from my perspective (and from that of many other people who live in highly-connected multi-user households and/or have jobs/hobbies which are made easier with a decent network connection) they seem quite normal.

(*) although if I could get a symmetric gigabit link to the outside world, I might concede that this would probably be good enough, for now at least...

4
0

It's 30 years ago: IBM's final battle with reality

ChrisC

Re: Interesting times

I have fond memories of Warp too - back then I was doing some research work on robotic equations of motion, which had eventually evolved into a hideously complex Matlab script to do all the hard work for me. I'd just define the system geometry parameters at the start, click Go, twiddle my thumbs for an hour or so, and then get a complete set of optimised motion equations out the other end.

Unfortunately this was all being done in the Win3.1 version of Matlab, and as bad as the co-operative multitasking was in 3.1 generally, it was a shining beacon of excellence compared to how it behaved once Matlab started up - I'm pretty sure the Matlab devteam must have misread the Windows documentation and thought it featured "un-cooperative multitasking", because once you let Matlab loose on a script it was game over as far as being able to do anything else on that PC was concerned.

As a hardcore Amiga user at the time, I knew that multitasking didn't have to be this godawful, and I was convinced that the PC I had in front of me, which at the time had roughly twice the raw processing power of the fastest Amiga in my collection, really ought to be able to multitask at least as well as the slowest Amiga in my collection...

I can't recall how I stumbled upon OS/2 as the solution, all I do remember is that having learned of its existence and its claimed abilities to do stuff that Windows could only dream of doing, I dashed into town and bought my own copy of Warp, and once I got over the hurdle of getting it installed as a multi-boot setup with my existing fine-tuned DOS/Win3.1 setup (having expended god knows how many hours tweaking it to run all my games nicely - yes, even those that expected to have almost all of the base memory available, but still also needed to have CDROM *and* mouse drivers shoe-horned in there somewhere too - I didn't want to mess that up) I fired it up, installed Matlab, and tentatively clicked Go... Umm, is it running? This can't be right, the OS is still perfectly responsive, I can launch other Win3.1 applications without any signs of hesitation, and yet my Matlab script really does claim to be churning its way through its calculations about as quickly as it did hogging Win3.1 all to itself.

From that day on, Warp became my go-to OS for anything work-related until the day I finally ditched Win3.1 and made the switch to 95.

So yes, count me in as another one of those people who, despite the problems OS/2 had (I'll readily admit that it could be a bit flakey or just a bit obtuse when trying to get it to do what you wanted it to do) will still quite happily wax lyrical about just how bloody amazing it was in comparison to a DOS/Win16 based setup for anyone wanting to unlock the true potential of the hardware in front of them. Even today I still don't think the Windows dev team *really* understand how multitasking ought to behave, and I do wonder just how much productivity is lost globally due to those annoying random slowdowns and temporary hangs which remain part and parcel of everyday life as a Windows user, despite the underlying hardware being orders of magnitude more powerful than anything we could dream of having sat on our desks back in the 90's.

16
0

Headphone batteries flame out mid-flight, ignite new Li-Ion fears

ChrisC

Re: I'm putting a bet....

One wonders if the residents of places like La Paz also suffer higher than average rates of battery fires, given their similarly lofty altitude...

4
0
ChrisC

Re: Rude awakening at 30,000ft

Since when have we been unable to take bottles of water onto an aircraft? I appreciate you were trying to make a funny out of the whole "no (*) liquids through security" thing, but it'd be a rare international airport that didn't either have airside shops selling water, or airside facilities for getting drinking water (water fountains, dedicated drinking water taps etc.) from which you could refill an empty bottle taken through security.

(*) certain exemptions aside, please read the small print for details before travelling, E&OE etc.

0
12

Intel's Atom C2000 chips are bricking products – and it's not just Cisco hit

ChrisC

It depends on when the clock is required by the system. We know it's definitely required when the system starts up, but it's less clear if it's also then still required once the system has started up and the other clock sources have been initialised OK.

So as Richard 12 suggests, *if* this failing clock is only being used to get the system off the ground from a restart, then the fault may well remain hidden for however long the system can remain up and running. And if this is the case, it'd then beg the question as to just how many of these Atoms have *already* gone into this knackered state without anyone being aware of it...

1
0

Streetmap loses appeal against Google Maps dominance judgement

ChrisC

I still remember the day someone at work discovered the terraserver site (around 1999-2000 IIRC) and the whole R&D team stopped work for about an hour as we all crowded round their PC looking at the fairly low-res black&white imagery available around Slough (no jokes please, it might not have been the most salubrious of places to live, but the sheer number of companies based there made it a damn good place to kick off my engineering career).

17 years later, and I find myself grumbling if the aerial imagery in Google Maps is more than a couple of years old, under/over exposed, or just slightly too blurry to be able to see the road markings clearly... how quickly we forget just how much of a revolution it is to freely have access to this (and so much more) data at our fingertips 24/7.

11
0
ChrisC

Going slightly off-topic here, but as Waze is something I have a particular interest in...

The Google buy-out of Waze was done in a way that maintained an arms-length seperation between the two companies. Other than the occasional traffic/incident alert appearing in Google Maps tagged with Waze as its source, and the slightly better integration of some Google products within the Waze environment, the two pretty much run independently of one another.

So yes, Google generate their own realtime traffic flow data via a combination of third party feeds where available, plus the location data returned from Android phones where such data hasn't been switched off by the user - its this latter data which gives Google Maps such good quality traffic flow data on side roads where the likes of Trafficmaster et al pay no attention.

However, Waze do pretty much the exact same thing. Every phone running the Waze app is sending back realtime data to the Waze servers, allowing them to build up the same sort of dynamic traffic flow picture as Google have. The main difference between Waze and Google here is that in the Waze app, traffic is generally only highlighted if it's moving slower than usual for that section of road at that time of day, so if Waze is showing no traffic highlights it doesn't mean the road ahead is clear, it only means the road ahead is flowing at least as well as Waze knows it usually flows. It could be completely stationary, but if that's normal for the time of day then it won't warrant a highlight...

Not the most human-friendly bit of UI design (something I've mentioned to the Waze devs on more than one occasion over the years), but from the perspective of the routing algorithms it does make sense, and if you're using Waze as the devs intend it to be used (i.e. always following a suggested route) then you do start to learn to trust that it's already taken all of the traffic it's aware of into account when deciding which route to offer you, and that if it still ends up directing you into the mother and father of all jams that wasn't shown onscreen then it's more likely that it really was the least worst option available, as opposed to it doing so because it really had no idea the jam was there.

1
0
ChrisC

"(and it can display on an OS 1:25,000 and 1:50,000 map)"

As can Bing Maps, with a rather more user-friendly UI... As with several other commenters, I was a big user of Streetmap back in the days when it was *the* go-to site for free detailed maps of the UK, but they've done themselves no favours at all by clinging onto their old-school UI design long after it ought to have been put out to pasture.

5
2

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas: Razer prototypes nicked

ChrisC

Re: Have you heard this one?

Indeed, multiple screens are increasingly the norm in those parts of the workplace where PCs are seen as more than just a means of getting access to your calendar and emails. Even with the higher resolution afforded by a 4K screen, it can be more convenient to simply have seperate screens for seperate windows, rather than trying to juggle multiple windows within the same effective viewport area on a single higher-resolution screen. And unless the single screen is also physically larger, then you're going to have trouble reading the contents of those windows given they now occupy a far smaller area of your retina assuming you're still sitting a comfortable distance away from the screen...

Whilst I don't have a personal need for a multi-screen laptop like this - I'm fortunate enough to work for an employer who still gets the concept of providing suitable desktop kit for desk-bound R&D employees rather than assuming everyone can do their jobs just with a bog standard corporate laptop - I can easily imagine quite a few engineers, designers and anyone else with a genuine need to be able to display lots of data at the same time, would be getting very excited at the prospect of a product like this making it to market.

2
0

Pharma hate figure Martin Shkreli suspended from Twitter

ChrisC

Re: Twitterati is lying

Naah, can't be - a) it's far too wordy for a trump from Trump, and b) it's only semi-controversial...

1
0

CERN also has a particle decelerator – and it’s trying to break physics

ChrisC

Re: Breaking physics

"Holy cow! I couldn't imagine anything worse than the Microtome used during LASIK until I read the description (and saw photos) of a Vitrectomy. I hope you were asleep."

Dunno about Dave, but during mine (as part of a retinal reattachment) I was quite happily wide awake (aside from the area around my right eye, that was well and truly under the control of whatever local anesthetic they use for this sort of procedure) and thoroughly enjoying every fascinating minute of it all - as someone with the typically inquisitive mind of an engineer, being able to experience something like that first hand was pretty amazing.

Especially since, being rather terrified of needles, there's probably no way in hell I'd be able to watch such a procedure in the third party, but when it's your own eye that's being worked on, the needles are conveniently out of sight... The follow up caratact removal op and laser clean up procedures a couple of years later were almost as much fun too.

And on a more practical note, the surgeon who did my original op did say they prefer if if people are able to go through the procedure with just local anaesthetic, as it makes the post-op recovery process easier when patients aren't needing to be brought back around from being under.

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Microsoft ends OEM sales of Windows 7 Pro and Windows 8.1

ChrisC

There are many words I could use to describe the Win10 UI, friendly not being one of them...

0
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Did Apple leak a photo of its new Macbook Pro in an OS update? Our survey says: Yes

ChrisC

Re: What about VI users!

"there's noting compelling manufacturers to make products nice for devs."

In general, perhaps. When your products are also being used by the devs to create the software you need in order to be able to flog your products to the masses, however...

0
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No shoes for little Timmy, Mama needs a new 10TB hard drive

ChrisC

Re: I'm gonna go ahead and...

Barring fubars in the respective R&D/manufacturing departments that give rise to genuine problems such as the legendary Deathstar family, or the SD1A firmware bug (you know a problem is serious when you can remember what it's called years after the fact despite it not having been given a catchy name like "Deathstar"...), most drive failures IME are either down to statistics biting your drive in the arse and causing a premature failure, or down to accelerated ageing due to the environmental conditions in which you're using the drive (e.g. in a poorly ventilated case, resulting in consistently higher than desirable temperatures).

So these days I tend not to worry about who's making the drive and just make my purchasing selection based on a combination of cost and compatibility with the host device/intended use cases. Which generally ends up with me buying the cheapest external drive I can find from a high-street supplier in the required capacity, adding the enclosure to my collection of potentially useful spare parts, and fitting the bare drive.

Since I gave up on returning dead drives years ago after realising the cost of shipping them back to the manufacturer using the required delivery method was often getting close to the cost of a replacement drive anyway, the voiding of any warranty I might have had on the external drive by tearing it apart really doesn't worry me. Being able to potentially get a replacement drive up and running in the host device in under an hour from the point at which I realise it needs a replacement, at a price that's rarely any higher than the best online price, and is often slightly/somewhat better, has far more appeal...

11
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Nissan reveals self-driving chair

ChrisC

I wonder if OK Go are planning a sequel to the "I Won't Let You Down" video...

0
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Obituary: Victor Scheinman, inventor of the 'Stanford Arm' factory robot

ChrisC

Likewise, 'twas on the university PUMA560 as a postgrad student that I started learning all about the joys of path planning, co-ordinated motion (IIRC - whatever it was called that defined whether or not the endpoint moved in a straight line between points A and B, or whether it moved along whatever path was defined by the joints moving the least amount in order to get there) etc. Not quite as glamorous as the big hulking orange beast of a Kuka sat next to it in the lab, but nice and easy to work with, and with rather less ability to tear up the lab if it all went a bit pearshaped...

The limitations of its controller were also responsible for the path my career has taken me - before I started working with the PUMA I'd never designed a PCB or written any embedded code (hadn't even written any C - the uni still taught its engineering students a mixture of Pascal and 68k asm), but when I realised I couldn't get the thing to move in quite the ways my research needed it to, I started designing my own custom joint control cards to replace the native ones. Ended up getting so engrossed in the hands-on engineering this side of my research required, I never quite got around to finishing off the more theoretical side required to get any sort of qualification out of it. OTOH, the hardware and firmware skills I taught myself went a long way to securing my first job in the real world of embedded systems development, and I haven't looked back since.

As soon as I saw the pic at the top of the article all those fond memories came flooding back to me, and then as I wrote the above text I realised for the first time just how pivotal the PUMA was in determining how my life has turned out. So definitely a +1 from me too.

6
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HP Inc's rinky-dink ink stink: Unofficial cartridges, official refills spurned by printer DRM

ChrisC

Re: Sometimes you get what you pay for

Quite, however in this case the original doesn't really sound all that expensive in comparison with the third-party alternative - I mean, sure, it's 50% more expensive, but relatively speaking that's peanuts compared with the 30-400% increase you can expect to pay for an original toner versus a third-party equivalent on some printers.

The cheapest price I've seen for an original toner cartridge for my little Samsung laser is around 45 quid, whereas the third-party cartridges I've been buying for the last 2 years have been consistently around the 10 quid mark, and I haven't noticed any degradation in performance. If I could get an original cart for 15 quid, or if the third-party carts were around 30 quid, I might think twice about using originals, particularly if I also had any concerns about third-party performance. But 10 quid against 45 quid with no concerns about quality... it's an easy decision to make.

3
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Microsoft redfaced after Bing translation cockup enrages Saudis

ChrisC

Re: @Dr Scrum Master

Not sure what exactly you'd consider fake/false/otherwise not-real about the OS maps provided via Bing... The OpenData site is certainly a useful addition to the online mapping resources we enjoy in the UK, but if you want free access to the Explorer/Landranger map data then the OS isn't the place to go.

3
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Galaxy S7 Active can't swim, claims site. But it can, vendor retorts

ChrisC

Haven't paid any attention to any S7 ads, but is 30 minutes at 5 feet depth *really* what Samsung are claiming for the Active? On its website, the claim smallprint actually says:

"Water-resistant in up to 5 feet of water for up to 30 minutes"

Which isn't quite the same thing at all... If it genuinely was able to withstand immersion at 5 feet for 30 minutes, there'd be no need to bother with the "up to's" in that statement - the presence of those suggests however that it's the specific combination of depth and duration that is important here, e.g. 30 minutes is OK if the phone is only *just* completely immersed in water, and 5 feet of immersion is OK if you fish it out straight away, but both together is a no-no.

3
3

This local council paid HOW MUCH for an SD card?!

ChrisC

Percentages are all well and good if you're comparing like for like. What isn't entirely clear here is whether or not this is actually the case. If the council did indeed buy a swish SD card because that's what was required by the piece of kit being used with the card, but on its passage through their accounting department the purchase ended up being registered simply as "X GB SD card - £Y", then a third-party onlooker with no understanding of *why* that purchase had been made might then think "OMFG, they spent *THAT* much on an X GB SD card, I can get those from eBay for waaaay less"...

And even if you are comparing like for like as far as the actual card specs themselves go, as others have pointed out, some/all of the markup may have been down to it being an emergency purchase that pushed up the total cost due to the use of the first supplier they could find who could provide the card there and then, but where the cost to the council of NOT spending the extra to get the card ASAP would have been even higher...

I mean, yes, it's more likely that it was a genuinely overpriced purchase made for no other reason than it's how the council always does this sort of thing, but let's not rule out the slender possibility that, just this once, the council really did get the best value for money they could in the specific circumstances.

4
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ChrisC

Leaving aside the perfectly valid reasons why a corporate-networked PC might be allowed to access SD cards (or indeed any other type of removable storage), who said it was being used with a PC in the first place?

4
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Computerised stock management? Nah, let’s use walkie-talkies

ChrisC

Re: the retailer

OTOH, if the shoes you're after are already stacked waiting for you in their "shop-floor stockrooms", then getting what you want is often no more taxing or time-consuming than grabbing a box, checking the contents match the label, and heading straight for the tills. That said, the way they then radio ahead to the security goons on the front door to let them know someone is about to walk out of the store with some paid-for stock does always make me wonder just what sort of pond-life they get shopping there such that their security needs to be warned about people *not* nicking stuff...

I can't in fact remember the last time I've ever had to ask an assistant to go fetch me a pair of shoes from out back, it's only when we're out getting shoes for the kids where this is still a requirement - though as we normally get their shoes from Clarks (where ye olde foot measuring gizmos have been replaced by some slightly absurd combination of tablet and measuring frame, just to keep a vague IT angle here...) the experience is rather more pleasant and well-organised than from the retailer we all know who we're talking about but dare not utter their name.

1
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Wi-Fi network named 'mobile detonation device' grounds plane

ChrisC

Re: Lolwut

"Also what was the guy that found this SSID doing with his phone turned on prior to take off.

Nawty, nawty."

Well, given that this flight was being operated by a Qantas plane featuring their new wi-fi based inflight entertainment service, and given that this service is advertised as being available "from the moment you board until you arrive at your destination" (see http://www.qantas.com./travel/airlines/wireless-inflight-entertainment/au/en#general), and given that the rules on switching stuff off completely have been significantly relaxed by many airlines in general, there really isn't anything naught naughty about it.

11
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Switch survives three hours of beer spray, fails after twelve

ChrisC

Re: A few splashes?

It's not unusual for the manufacturer of remotely monitored kit to pay at least as much attention (or, in some cases, significantly more) to the status information reported back by the kit as is paid to it by the customer who actually has the responsibility to monitor the kit and act on any alerts it generates.

If you can remotely access status info from customer kit without it affecting the ability of the customer themselves to access the kit, then every installation becomes a source of useful ongoing data to show how your kit performs out there in the real world, and so well worth keeping an eye on.

4
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ChrisC

Re: Sadly not beer

"How does one even get cooked spaghetti into a slot-loading drive?"

Cooked spaghetti is somewhat sticky and has a tendency to adhere quite nicely to pretty much anything it touches. It's therefore not entirely beyond the realms of belief to consider a scenario where some spaghetti ended up being spilled off the plate unnoticed (or, given the state of some student residences, simply ignored and forgotten about) and then at some later date a CD/DVD was chucked onto the table/floor/wherever said spaghetti was now residing, the spaghetti decided it fancied a change of scenery and so stuck itself to the underside of the disc, whereupon it then got transferred unnoticed into the drive...

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