* Posts by juice

299 posts • joined 16 Nov 2010

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Apple hardware priced so high that no one wants to buy it? It's 1983 all over again

juice Bronze badge

Re: Expansion slots. Meh.

> PC XT and PC AT buyers laughed at Apple for not having expansion slots. The Lisa and all the Macs came with audio and mouse built in.

To be fair, the PC was a business machine and was meant to be used for serious activities, such as spreadsheets and document processing. Company accountants saw things like audio cards as frivolous and unnecessary expenses - and back in the day, employees could face disciplinary action if caught playing games in the office.

(such sweet innocent days, long before Minecraft and Solitare decimated office productivity - and before the Internet gave people the opportunity to find more adult-orientated distractions, at least until companies began to install website filters..)

Then too, those expansion ports played a major part in the PC's rise to dominance.

As per above, it was very much targeted at businesses, who have a lot more purchasing power than private individuals - and thanks to asset-deprecation rules, new hardware can effectively cost nothing, as you just write it off against your taxes over a few years, aided and abetted by generous loan schemes from the manufacturers.

So. You get economies of scale from the large install base, which together with it's modular and (mostly) open architecture encourages the growth of an eco-system around it. And the competition within this eco-system drives innovation and cost reduction, which in turn grows the install base and brings more people flocking to the eco-system...

And so, the PC was simply able to evolve at a much faster rate than would be possible for any single-source hardware - companies such as Apple, Atari and Commodore may have had tens or hundreds of engineers, but the PC eco-system had /thousands/ queuing up for a piece of the pie.

Then too, after a few years (thanks in no small part to the tax write-offs), you got a healthy second-hand market, offering hardware at prices much easier for private individuals to afford - and the vast variety of hardware on offer made it ideal for enthusiasts to dive into.

Especially when we got into the early days of 3D video games (Doom!) and the internet - the PC's architecture may have been clumsy when compared to it's rivals, but it also had a lot more brute-force power to throw at these activities and enthusiasts became obsessed with picking the "best" components and fine-tuning the timings on their overclocked kit.

In many ways, that's what's happening now in the mobile phone world: companies such as Nokia, Blackberry and Apple may have been king at one point, but Android has rolled over them, for similar economies-of-scale/eco-system reasons.

And to my mind, that's what this article should have highlighted: the Lisa - and the Mac - may have been advanced and sophisticated for the time, but the PC was both cheaper and able to evolve far more quickly.

(To be fair, Apple's fully aware of this, and is throwing an insane amount of money at R&D ($10 billion a year!) to try and keep up with the chaotically frenzied eco-system driving Android's evolution...)

juice Bronze badge

Re: A reminder of how crap Apple products are

> 386 dx could go to 40 mhz or is my memory playing tricks - it was long time ago !

Intel's 386 chips topped out at 33mhz - and they were quite happy to sit on this for several years, as they'd stopped licencing their IP to other manufacturers, giving them a nice (not so) little monopoly with no real incentive for any further innovation or improvements.

However, AMD eventually won a legal battle against them, which allowed AMD to produce a 40mhz i386 compatible. Cyrix also produced their own variants, including an "i486-lite" which could be dropped into an i386 board - again, following some legal battles with Intel which eventually led to some cross-licencing agreements.

Either way, we've come a long way since then!

juice Bronze badge

Re: A reminder of how crap Apple products are

I remember getting a hand-me-down 486 DX-33 in 1998, which I duly set about upgrading with whatever bits of kit I could find kicking around the various used-hardware stores and computer fairs of the time.

I did eventually get it upgraded to a DX2-50, but it sadly suffered from overheating when I tried to push it further[*] - the original DX-33 didn't even have a heatsink, and trying to source a heatsink and/or fan for a computer back in those pre-Internet days was a tricky business!

I do recall sitting pints of milk and tins of chilled beer atop it though, to try and keep it from melting during my sessions on X-com :D

[*] possibly to a DX4-75, but the memories have steeped in a lot of beer since then; I do recall that it was very difficult to get hold of the 33mhz variants such as a DX2-66 or DX4-100

juice Bronze badge

As much as I like to diss Apple...

I'm not sure what the point of this article was.

Back then, the Lisa was built using absolute cutting edge technology and attempted to introduce some new concepts into the consumer market - the mouse, the GUI, virtual memory, hard-drive storage, etc.

These days, Apple is letting their "Mac" technology stagnate, and while their iPhone hardware is still arguably cutting edge, the technological improvements are incremental/evolutionary, not revolutionary.

So yeah: apples and pears, chalk and cheese.

juice Bronze badge

Re: A reminder of how crap Apple products are

I'm guessing one or t'other of those specifications is incorrect ;)

The i386 was launched in 1985, maxed out at 33mhz and was unlikely to be bundled with more than 4mb of RAM.

Conversely, the iMac G3 came out in 1998, and the base model had a 233mhz PowerPC CPU and 32mb of RAM.

I'd be surprised if you were still running a 386 at that time, and even more surprised if a machine clocked anywhere up to ten times faster (with a different architecture, admittedly) and eight times the ram couldn't keep up.

Personally, around 98/99, I was using a Celeron 300A overclocked to 450mhz. Them were the days!

Most munificent Apple killed itself with kindness. Oh. Really?

juice Bronze badge

Re: Battery

"If I had my way, I would require every device with a battery -- whether it is a phone or laptop or tablet or whatever -- to include instructions on how the user can change the battery"

While I'm in general agreement with this rule, I would note that this could cause havoc with waterproofing (and/or increase the size and weight of devices). A better rule - if somewhat more open to abuse and harder to enforce - would be that all companies have to provide a facility to replace batteries for a given period, and that they can only charge costs.

juice Bronze badge

Re: Depends...

Yeah - I've been more than happy with the V30.

It's just on the edge of what I consider to be an acceptable size for a phone (esp. once a protective case has been added), but the battery life is decent, the performance is more than acceptable, the photo quality is measurably better than on the S7 and the video recording software is pretty good.

The only real niggle I've had is that the FOV on the "standard" camera is narrower than on the S7, presumably to make the wide-angle lens look even wider by comparison. However, the upshot is that I often have to take a step further back or switch to the wide-angle lens to get the desired framing for a snap.

Can't really comment about the DAC - I do most of my musical listening via headphones plugged into an iPod Classic - it's more convenient, it saves on phone battery life and - as much as I hate to admit it - iTunes has so far proven to be the least-worst of all possible options when it comes to the way I handle my musical collection.

(That, and Android music players don't generally support "rating" tunes, which makes it a lot harder to curate my playlists...)

But yeah: good camera(s), good battery life, a headphone socket, a micro-sd reader, a highly rated DAC and 64GB of internal storage. The V30 was value for money when I bought it for £600 from CW a year ago; it's now an absolute steal, especially second hand...

juice Bronze badge

Depends...

If we're just talking mobile devices (i.e. PDAs, mobile phones), traditionally, I tended to buy a replacement about once every 12 months, as Moore's Law kept bumping up the specs and lowering the prices.

However, Moore's Law has now peaked, even for mobile devices.

I kept my last phone (Samsung S7) for two years, and the LG V30 which replaced it has been going strong for around a year. I /might/ upgrade to the Samsung S10 later this year /if/ the camera upgrades look worth it, but if not, then I'll probably hang onto it for another year or two.

IBM insists it's not deliberately axing older staff. Internal secret docs state otherwise...

juice Bronze badge

Older staff, or staff with long tenures?

I don't really understand what's the drive for IBM to get rid of older staff.

On the one hand, I'm guessing they may carry higher healthcare costs, but on the other hand, they generally have a lot more experience and they're much less likely to take their training and depart after a couple of years to find greener grass elsewhere.

The only thing I can think of is that it's tied into tenure and/or pensions, as per UK companies such as BT, which are frantically trying to find ways to reduce the financial black hole in their final-salary schemes...

Peak Apple: This time it's SERIOUS, Tim

juice Bronze badge

Still don't agree that

"partly because it has done the right thing and failed to honour the cynical tradition of built-in obsolescence"

Eh? As per the thread where this idea was originally proposed, Apple products are essentially sealed black boxes that can only be replaced (or can only be repaired by Apple).

Which to my mind is a perfect continuation of the "cynical tradition of built-in obsolescence".

For instance, they were recently caught out by the revelation that older iPhones were automatically downclocking their CPUs to offset diminishing battery capacities.

This naturally caused outrage among the owners of iPhones, who were horrified to discover that their luxury item was underperforming. Apple's response: offer a short-term low-cost battery-replacement programme (which ended in December), and then went back to BAU once the storm had died down.

Apple may occasionally do "the right thing", but only where it aligns with their business model of producing - and marketing - high-end luxury products.

Bish, Bash... gosh! Good ol' Bourne Again Shell takes a bow as it reaches version five-point-zero

juice Bronze badge

Re: Bourne Again Shell (Bash – geddit?)

Back in a past life, i used to extensively use ksh on SGI and Sun kit, mostly because you could enable vi commands (i.e. ksh -o vi). Which in turn meant that you could search and repeat/edit past commands with ease.

(It's also worth bearing in mind that these were the days when keyboard translations between systems could often be flaky - telnetting to a server and pressing left or right on a standard PC would often produce some on-screen garbage such as ~#^04c-. Using ksh meant that I didn't have to go digging around to figure out how to fix this for each of the servers I used to bounce around...)

These days everything I work on runs linux, and the built-in bash facitilies (crtl-r to search, ctrl-left and ctrl-right to jump back and forward by a "word") are good enough that I don't really need anything more advanced.

Excuse me, sir. You can't store your things there. Those 7 gigabytes are reserved for Windows 10

juice Bronze badge

So much for competing with Google..

I mean, I can see the reasoning: having a large lump of space makes it much easier for the internal maintenance/upgrade processes to do their thing. But even so...

At a glance, PC World is currently selling the following:

* 16 laptops with 32GB storage

* 4 laptops with 64GB storage

* 37 laptops with 128GB storage

Admittedly, some of these laptops are just colour variants, but the point remains: there's a lot of low-end laptops for sale with very limited storage.

I very much doubt the 32GB models have enough room to allocate 7GB (or even a subset thereof), and even the 64GB and 128GB models are liable to struggle.

And while you generally can slap in a micro-SD card or USB thumbstick, making efficient use of this additional storage tends to require a bit of technical knowledge. And you still can't use them for Windows system files.

Meanwhile, as far as I'm aware, the Chrome OS is restricted to a 4GB partition...

You were told to clean up our systems, not delete 8,000 crucial files

juice Bronze badge

I suspect you're thinking of 1989, not 1998 ;)

By 1998/1999, even budget HDDs were in the GB range.

In fact, someone with far more time on their hands than I have did some research (https://www.jcmit.net/diskprice.htm), and the cheapest 3.5" drive they could find in 1999 was a 6GB unit at $160 (which probably would have been around £160, given the usual 1:1 exchange rate for technology pricing).

(I would have done a bit more of a dig on archive.org, but their year filter seems a bit b0rked...)

So by 1999, the manufacturers would have long since stopped making 540mb drives, though there was probably still some floating around the channels...

juice Bronze badge

The household's first PC was a P100 with a whopping 8mb of ram, running Win95. Iirc, we purchased it in December 1995, and it came with an 850mb hard drive - which the manufacturer (AST?) had kindly stuffed full of low-resolution tutorial videos.

It's worth bearing in mind that there's been quite a few hardware limits on how big a HDD could be, as detailed here:

https://www.tldp.org/HOWTO/Large-Disk-HOWTO-4.html

When Win95 came out, using more than 540mb (528 after formatting) was still problematic - in 1996, I had huge issues getting a 1GB drive working with a hand-me-down 486, and getting anything over 2GB working was a nightmare for a year or two after that.

Racing at the speed of light, Sage superhero bursts through the door...

juice Bronze badge

Re: Not me...

A friend once relayed a similar tale, when they were working for a large telecomms company with several layers of management, some of whom had a tendency to ferociously guard their rank and territory.

They'd been doing some physical work at a remote location, and were being berated by a local manager for being dishevelled/disorderly, when their manager walked in.

"Why are you berating these people? What management level are you?"

"Level 3"

"Well, I'm level 2, so I outrank you. Go get me and my staff tea and sandwiches..."

Truly a thing of beauty!

The Palm Palm: The Derringer of smartphones

juice Bronze badge

Sorry, but no

As much as I can see potential uses of a phone with a small form-factor, the lack of battery life completely kills the utility of this particular example.

(And TBH, do you really need or want a fully fledged Android experience on a handset this small? Far better to run something with lower overheads, and reduce the battery drain at the same time)

Pork pulled: Plug jerked out of beacon of bacon delight

juice Bronze badge

Re: 404: Bacon Not Found

There's several videos on Youtube from various "How do they do it" shows, detailing how US bacon is made.

E.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAqIynamBMY

It really does put the word "processed" into processed meat...

Dixons Carphone smarting from £440m loss as it writes down goodwill on mobile biz

juice Bronze badge

Re: hate it. use it

> Hence planned obsolescence, welded-in batteries and short support cycles. No persuasion is now necessary.

So... sales are dropping because the manufacturers have come together in a conspiracy to make our old handsets unusable?

I have to say, that plan doesn't seem to be working too well, so far...

Super Micro says audit found no trace of Chinese spy chips on its boards

juice Bronze badge

Get your tin-foil hats ready...

IIRC, the article claimed that it was a small number of motherboards which were affected, and that they were delivered to specific companies.

So if the perpetrators withdrew and covered their tracks, there'd be nothing at the "manufacturing" side to see.

OTOH, at this point, I would have expected Bloomberg to have produced some physical evidence - even a single demonstrably hacked motherboard would be enough to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Either way, may the best conspiracy theory win!

Doom at 25: The FPS that wowed players, gummed up servers, and enraged admins

juice Bronze badge

Re: Quake vs Doom

> You're not wrong, although Quake 2 is the one that really drove accelerator sales as it wouldn't work without one. Comparatively few people downloaded GLQuake, Tomb Raider probably did more on that behalf as it was re-released and bundled with various cards that supported it (from Glide through to S3)

Aye - Quake definitely got the ball rolling though - I can remember when a friend bought a 3dfx card for his PC. I was relatively unimpressed at the time; to my inexperienced eyes, it just seemed to tweak the lighting effects and make the textures blurrier ;)

And yeah, as you said, games like Tombraider and Wipeout 2097 helped to make 3d acceleration more mainstream. As well as some other applications - I can remember bedazzling a friend by running UltraHLE (N64 emulator) on a 3d Labs Permidia graphics card, thanks to an OpenGL -> Glide wrapper...

Still, while I haven't got any actual sales-figures for the time, I'd guess that GLQuake increased the relative 3d-accelerator market size from 1 to 100, and in doing so paved the way for these later games to push things up to 1000; it was that initial hundred-fold boost (combined with a drop in memory prices) which set up the economies of scale needed to further increase the market ten-fold.

juice Bronze badge

Scorched Earth? Howzabout...

Deathtank!

Same principle, but on the Sega Saturn, which meant that you could get a large group of mates around a huge (for the time) 32" CRT for some explosive action.

Better yet, it supported the Saturn multi-tap, which meant you could have up to 8 players, each with their own pad.

And to forge another link back to this article: Deathtank was an easter egg buried on the Duke Nukem game: and to unlock it, you had to have a Quake savegame stored on your Saturn...

juice Bronze badge

Re: Patience

Back in uni around 1995, and some students had managed to get a bunch of games into a hidden directory on the network, including Doom.

A friend stumbled across this somehow, and so we ended up sat in one of the computer rooms one evening, frantically zooming through Doom in cooperative mode.

Well. Semi-cooperative; we spent more time shooting each other than the enemies. But it all worked reasonably well, until we got to the Cyberdemon and exhausted all the rockets on each other.

At which point, we were left with an angry Cyberdemon and no way to take him down.

Eventually, I think we plinked him to death with our handguns - you got a free clip of ammo every time you respawned. But one of my funniest moments in video gaming came when my friend ran out of ammo and decided to leg it up to the cyberdemon and started punching it's knee.

At the time, it was merrily blasting away at me; when I ran out of bullets, it turned around, noticed this little thing buzzing around its knees, and lowered it's rocket launcher. And shortly, little bits of Doom Guy softly pattered down from the sky.

A proper cartoon-comedy moment :)

One other (and rarely mentioned) feature of Doom was that if an enemy was hit by a stray round from another enemy, the two enemies would then fight to the death, until/unless they saw you.

IIRC, Doom II had a fun level, which was essentially just a room with a Cyberdemon in it, surrounded by Barons. When you stuck your head around the door, the Cyberdemon would take a pot shot at you and hit the barons, which would then trigger a massive brawl; all you had to do was sit and watch while they tore each other to shreds...

So something of a precursor to the "Mass battle simulator" game on steam...

juice Bronze badge

Quake vs Doom

"Doom [...] allowed players to modify their levels and to build new ones. This [...] coupled with networked deathmatches, helped to build a loyal – some might say obsessive – fan base that inspired people to acquire some important technology skills."

Allegedly (I'd have to hunt to dig the forum posts out), iD initially pushed back on people producing mods, until they realised how much of a selling point it was.

TBH, I'd guess that it was the success of Wolfenstein's *secondary* revenue streams (expansion packs, sequels (Spear of Destiny) and engine licencing (Blake Stone)) which convinced iD to completely separate code from content when it came to producing Doom; engine licencing in particular was very lucrative for them, all the way up to the Doom 3 era.

The fact that this approach naturally lent itself to amateur mod-making was a fortuitous coincidence.

(You also have to wonder how much of Doom's design philosophy was an artefact of the platform it was designed for; if nothing else, Doom was also one of the first games to expose "tuning" options to end-users, to account for that fact that PCs at the time had a wide range of memory, CPU, video and audio options; later, Quake took things a step further by offering a built-in console to allow direct manipulation of the game engine)

"Doom's developers released the follow-up Quake franchise [...] While it outsold Doom many times over – in part due to the mass adoption of PCs in the home [...] it never quite had the impact of the original."

True to a degree - Doom is perhaps just as much of a cultural icon as Pacman or Mario. But Quake arguably had a much bigger indirect impact on both computer technology and the games industry; it drove the early adoption of 3D accelerators and internet-based multiplayer games. And its realistic physics engine gave birth to some other interesting developments, such as rocket-jumps. And it begat a little game called Half Life, too...

Either way, they're both iconic games, and iD has definitely earnt it's place in video game history.

juice Bronze badge

Re: Flickering fluorescent lights

I'm fairly sure it's a stock sample - I've heard it in several movies and tv-shows, and IIRC, the original X-com/UFO game used it too, at least in the intro movie

juice Bronze badge

All credit to iD games...

But hardware advances were a key driver of the improvements between the two games.

W3d would (grudgingly) run on a 286 with just 640k of ram; Doom's official minimum spec was a 486 with 4mb of ram, though it would judder along on a 386 if you were desperate.

Moore's law was very much the game developer's frenemy back then - it gave you more memory and CPU cycles to play with, but if you misjudged your release window, then your game would be either unusably sluggish or woefully primitive as compared to the competition.

Hell, people still occasionally ask if $thing will run Crysis ;)

Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical

juice Bronze badge

Re: Ethical or accidental?

> If you start to disasemble your TV or use another repairer, your warranty is invalid, why should Apple be any different in this respect?

Eh? Warranties are a completely different subject, though I do at least partially agree: if I decide to pop the lid on something to fix and/or poke something, there's a reasonable case to be made for the manufacturer to invalidate the warranty.

(Though as ever, there are shades of grey - what if a component fails which is absolutely nothing to do with the thing I poked?)

Back to my original point, and as you've said, Apple effectively sell "turnkey" devices, and this pretty much mandates that the device in question should be a black box: it does what Apple designed it to, and only what Apple designed it to. If it goes wrong - or if you want different functionality - then you have to go back to Apple.

If you're happy enough to buy into that concept, then all is well and good. But it's hardly an ethical approach - instead, it's monopolistic, and potentially subject to abuse.

juice Bronze badge

Ethical or accidental?

The fact that Apple gear lasts longer/has a better resale value is a side-effect of their business model.

However, the fact that Apple gear is effectively unrepairable[*] is also a side-effect of their business model.

Do these things cancel out?

To be fair, Apple does make a number of ethical choices which could be praised (or reviled, depending on your point of view) - it's stance on data gathering, the handset security lockdowns and the decision to ban hate-speech from it's platforms.

And in many ways, their whole business model is ethical, insomuch as it revolves around producing - and supporting - the best end-user experience possible. So long as you're happy to pay the Apple tax *and* work to their rules.

But any wider ethical effects are secondary, not primary. And to my mind, that isn't necessarily worthy of praise.

[*] A combination of high component prices (Macbook 2013 15" screen: £200 from Ebay!), complex physical builds (e.g. glue, soldered components, non-standard screwheads) and physical security lockdowns which block the use of OEM parts (e.g. the infamous Error 53)

Huawei MateBook Pro X: PC makers look out, the phone guys are here

juice Bronze badge

Re: What's the point of 3:2

Eh? It's a 13.9" screen; in what world is that considered small? Looking at the specs, the dimensions are pretty much identical to the Macbook Pro, and the keyboard looks to be roughly the same dimensions/layout, too.

And having just scribbled on the back of a fag packet, if you crop it down to 16:9, the diagonal on a 13.9" 3:2 screen is roughly 13.7 inches. So you're 'losing' barely a third of an inch as compared to an equivalent 14" 16:9 display.

There's a few situations where 0.3" allegedly makes a significant difference, but the display on a laptop seems unlikely to be one of them ;)

Behold, the world's most popular programming language – and it is...wait, er, YAML?!?

juice Bronze badge

YAML my camel

When all is said and done, YAML and JSON are simply a serialised chunk of data: to use them, you feed said data through an interpreter to convert the stored data structures into something which is compatible with whatever system the interpreter is running on.

Does that make YAML a programming language? Not to my mind: it's certainly a language, but it's one you use to describe data, not the operations which will be performed on the data.

Is it Friday yet? This feels like it should be a pub discussion...

YouTube supremo says vid-streaming-slash-piracy giant can't afford EU's copyright overhaul

juice Bronze badge

Surely...

"Pointing to global music hit "Despacito," Wojcicki said the video has multiple copyrights, and while YouTube currently has deals in place to pay royalties, some of the rights holders aren't known to the company."

Surely at this point, you'd work with the content creator to identify and credit all the copyright owners. After all, it's barely two years old; it's not like they're trying to confirm ownershop of the various plays Homer is claimed to have written.

Hell, even Wikipedia has a stab at a credit list - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Despacito#Credits_and_personnel

I'm guessing that there's some aspect of their "safe harbour" defence which would be weakened if they were to work with content producers to sort out copyrights, but claiming it's outright impossible for a song which has racked up over 5 /billion/ views and earned it's creator some $10 million in revenue[*]? Disingenuous at best.

[*] https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-earnings-of-the-song-Despacito-on-YouTube-alone - presumably, that also means that Youtube has earned at least the same amount of revenue, if not significantly more.

Chinese teen braniacs are being trained to build new AI weapons

juice Bronze badge

So...

Some 18 year kids are going to university to study AI related topics. A field which is currently having enough money thrown at it to make Scrooge McDuck think about buying a second swimming pool; by the time they emerge from their chrysalis, anything they've learned will probably be obsolete.

It's a puff piece.

Or maybe it's not, and in a few years time, I'll be one of the many welcoming our new robotic overlords. Who knows?

Mything the point: The AI renaissance is simply expensive hardware and PR thrown at an old idea

juice Bronze badge

> I appreciate the debunking of hype, but there has been a genuine breakthrough in machine learning that has led to amazing results in image recognition, speech recognition, OCR, and translation.

I fully agree that there's been some amazing results in various fields, as a result of improvements in machine learning.

But the point of the article is that this machine learning isn't generating "intelligence": it's generating a tool (aka expert system) which is very good at a single job presented in a specific way. Change any of the parameters and the tool will shatter.

Personally, I think it's highly debatable as to whether the current approach to neural networks is ever going to be able to produce something more than a tool.

But in the meantime, there's a lot of money to be made from promising the earth, much as happened during the last few "Next Big Thing" waves (3D displays and VR, blockchain, etc).

Some people will get rich, some early adopters and angel investors will lose out and a few interesting things of actual use will emerge. And then the cycle will begin anew!

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

juice Bronze badge

Re: Electricity

Aye, they're lovely and only occasionally slightly angry chaps, who do an excellent job of highlighting social issues from the Victorian era inbetween their more comedic moments.

In fact, I'd say that they're one of the very few bands who actually put the punk into steampunk.

Friday pub, you say? Mine's the hat *without* the cogs on...

juice Bronze badge

Re: Electricity

TBH, I think this is one of the better tributes, courtesy of steampunk band The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYc9-OtxNE0

"A Tesla Coil

A Tesla Coil

My wife's been fitted with a Tesla Coil

If I get frisky in the marital bed

Sparks shoot down her leg"

Uncool: Google won't be setting up shop in disused Berlin electrical substation

juice Bronze badge

> The street view is interesting. Google clearly don't want you to see the building.

That won't be due to Google.

Germany and Berlin in particular are very keen on privacy. The last time I was there, I tried to take a picture of an interesting-looking building near State Park - just the building front, with no humans in shot. However, there was one of the aforementioned "alternative" bars on the ground floor, and a gentleman in full-blown traditional punk clothing popped out and barked angrily at me until I moved away...

If you look around Google Street View in Berlin, a lot of places are ghosted out, especially if they're near to any squats or "alternative" venues.

Similarly, (when last I checked) the last time that the Street View van trundled around Berlin was 2006 or so. There's been a *lot* of construction since then, so SV increasingly has very little resemblance to how it currently looks...

juice Bronze badge

Berlin is an odd place...

It was an isolated "outpost" during the Cold War - leading to things such as the Berlin blockage/airlift.

And I've been told that for at least some of that time, there was a policy whereby students could avoid national service by volunteering to live/study in Berlin [*].

So it's always had a left-wing student bent, and when the wall fell, the east side of Berlin had less industry and generally was in far worse condition. Cue lots of people shifting about, as people shifted from east-west for jobs and students shifted from west-east for cheap accommodation.

Fast forward to today, and you've still got some aspects of that hanging around. There's still a number of large "squats" and communes. It's amazingly dynamic, with throngs of international students and entrepreneurs; you'll hear people talking in English wherever you go. There's street markets, anarchistic bars with no windows, where photography is banned [**] - and large swathes of the city are blurred out on Google Streetview. It's incredibly cheap for a capital city: generally, it's closer in pricing to Sheffield than Manchester or London, you can have a good meal for under 20 quid and there's still a few bars where a 500ml bottle of beer costs just one euro.

OTOH, the city is flat broke, renting an apartment can be an absolute nightmare and the administration has been trying to sell off anything it can get it's hands on with few or no strings attached. So large scale construction has kicked off and is meeting some fairly stiff resistance from the various left-wing groups.

For better or worse, money is winning, and Berlin is slowly transforming into something closer to London.

[*] According to the bloke wot ran the street-art tour I went on. He also mentioned that where developers have tried to use famous street-art pieces as a selling point, the artists have often returned to paint over their own works in protest, such as the docks near Oberbaumbrücke.

Samsung Galaxy A9: Mid-range bruiser that takes the fight to Huawei

juice Bronze badge

Re: Mid-what?

£500+ definitely counts as high-end to me, but OTOH, the phone is unlikely to stay at that price point for long.

At launch 12 months ago, my V30 was £800; when I bought it from Carphone Warehouse around six months ago, it was £600. It's now £460 from CW.

Similarly, the Galaxy S8 was £640 when released in April 2017. It's now £377 new from Amazon.

Generally, the market is so competitive that if you're willing to wait 3-6 months after launch, you can pick up an Android handset for around a third less than the launch RRP. And waiting for a while isn't a bad idea anyway - it gives them time to shake out any manufacturing kinks and/or software issues!

Admittedly, that still puts this camera in the £300-400 price range, but it's definitely less of a hit to the wallet!

juice Bronze badge

Potentially dumb question...

This camera has a 24mp "main" camera, and a 10mp "2x" camera.

According to the table on https://nmsmithphotoshop1.weebly.com/image-resolution.html, the resolutions for these sensors are:

24mp is 6048 * 4032

10mp is 3872 * 2592

So if you crop the 24mp image down to 10mp, you effectively get a 1.5x zoom for free - and your photo will have been taken on a lens which presumably has better optics, stabilisation and sensor technology.

Admittedly, you'd have to drop all the way down to 6mp (3008*2000) to reach the equivalent on a 2x zoom, but the same point applies from a technological perspective.

Is there something about the 10mp lens which makes it measurably better than just throwing some digital zoom/cropping at the 24mp lens, or have the marketeers decreed that optical zoom is a must-have checkbox item, regardless?

Either way, it'll be interesting to see how "cropped" 24mp photos compare to 10mp shots!

juice Bronze badge

Re: Four cameras?

> what's for a low res "wide angle" camera? You need a lot of details in a wide-angle image, or it's just crap.

Eee, how times have changed. 8MP means that the images are 3264 * 2448. At 200dpi, that's comfortably good enough to print out at A4, possibly even A3! And you'll have to downsample it to view on anything below 4K.

(insert usual argument about how phone cameras aren't as good as dedicated camera. etc etc)

Then too, I suspect this lens generally isn't going to be used for panoramic shots. Instead, it'll be used selfies and group photos down the pub.

I'd actually guess that we're going to see more phones with wide-angle lenses, as I suspect that manufacturers are finding that their additional "optical zoom" lenses aren't as much of a draw as they'd hoped - as per above, when you've got a main 20MP+ lens, you can effectively "zoom" to around 4x without any significant visual loss of quality, especially since most photos are viewed on mobile devices and/or uploaded to social media where they get downscaled and resampled regardless.

(Though no doubt manufacturers will keep building in optical zoom lenses, since once something gets onto the standard marketing checklist, it's often hard to dislodge it!)

As per some of my previous waffles on here, I bought an LG V30 specifically for the (13MP) wide angle lens - I do a lot of street-art photography (jamie.mann.uk on Instagram, if anyone's bored enough), and a lot of pieces just aren't photographable even with a 25mm-equivalent lens, unless you want to switch to panoramic mode and let the camera stitch multiple images together.

Generally, I'm happy enough with the wide-angle lens - though ironically - as compared to my previous phone (S7 Edge), I keep finding that I have to take a step back when using the "normal" lens, and while it's brilliant for relatively static shots (and bloomin' good for video capture), it's not particularly great at dynamic photos.

For now, I'll wait and see what the S10 ends up with - the expectation is that it'll also have a wide-angle lens - but in the meantime, if I do accidentally flush my V30 down the loo, at least there's a potentially cheaper handset available to replace it!

Pentagon's JEDI mind tricks at odds with our 'values' says Google: Ad giant evaporates from $10bn cloud contract bid

juice Bronze badge

Re: Wait! What?

Sadly, I suspect that the risk of "employee dissent" would not cause a company to back away from a $10 billion contract.

Because, let's face it: $10 billion buys a lot of new employees - and a lot of positive PR - and Google is long since past the point where it needs (or, arguably, even wants) individual super-geniuses whose every whim must be satisfied. The dotcom era has been and gone, and if someone's not happy, welp, there's the door.

And if they were presented with that choice, 99% of the dissenting employees would sit back down again.

Instead, it's far more likely to be about the cost and timelines for getting and maintaining the required certification, combined with an assessment of how much of a PITA the actual contract itself is likely to be, as the Pentagon will almost certainly be doing their best to push all liabilities onto the supplier with some hefty penalty clauses attached.

So, what do you do in the above scenario? You back out while loudly proclaiming it's about values and quietly muttering about certification. Employees and pressure groups get to feel smug, Google gets some PR brownie points, and the company as a whole has dodged a potential poison chalice. Everyone wins!

I like BigGANs but their pics do lie, you other AIs can't deny

juice Bronze badge

Re: What are we actually talking about?

#metoo.

If we have an AI which is capable of generating a photo-realistic view of any scene we care to imagine, then I for one welcome our new and scarily capable overlords.

If on the other hand, the AI is just tweaking some existing photo and submitting that, then it's not quite yet time to call time on the human race.

Android Phones are 10: For once, Google won fair and square

juice Bronze badge

> Holds a £10 Android 7" tablet in his hands. Bought from brand-new. Works fine. Once bought a £20 Android kid's smartphone. Bought from brand-new.

A £10 Android tablet and a £20 smartphone?

I'd be intrigued to know where these came from; looking at dx.com (chinese exporter), the cheapest Android smartphone is £25 and the cheapest 7" tablet is £35.

So I'm guessing they were heavily subsidised (e.g. an EE second-phone offer) or on a really heavy discount at the time!

But yeah: generally, it's cheaper to buy a replacement device than to repair the existing one, which is a shame. It's not just the Apple eco-system where that's true though - replacing the screen on a Samsung Galaxy phone ranges from £140 - £240 for the a phone from the last 3 generations.

https://www.samsung.com/uk/support/mobile-devices/how-much-will-it-cost-to-repair-my-phone-screen/

As to whether it's worth the extra money - that's down to the individual, and the usual caveats (do you have transferrable data on there, do you need specific technology such as the camera/battery life/etc)!

Plusnet customers peeped others' deets during system upgrade

juice Bronze badge

Re: We've asked the Information Commissioner's Office to confirm it is aware of the issue. ®

> I am more concerned that account data is stored in a manner by which an off-by-one on the customer index just gives you all the access to that other data no matter who you are (i.e. poor permission control) and that there's no attempt to test that customer indexes match across tables (i.e. that you put in a "where this.index = that.index" kind of clause that would just return empty results if you mess up one of the indices.

I'm not disputing that building in mitigation against "off-by-one" issues is a good thing, but is there any evidence that this is actually what has happened here? I can't see anything from the article to suggest that this is what's caused billing data to be incorrectly displayed.

Dawn of The Planet of the Phablets in 2019 will see off smartphones

juice Bronze badge

Re: Health Risk?

I long since got into the habit of wearing industrial/cargo/work trousers (pick your preferred nomenclature) - the ones with flappy pouches atop the front pockets.

The flappy pouches are perfect for keeping a modern phone in: deep enough to avoid the risk of them falling out, and since they're only attached at the top, there's enough freedom of movement to minimise the risk of the phone getting damaged when you bend over/sit down/etc.

The thigh pockets are also useful, as it means I can carry various odds and sods around without needing a bag; when I'm at a festival or gig, they're also useful when it comes to taking battery packs or the occasional *hic* medicinal beverage in a hipflask.

Greybeard greebos do runner from care home to attend world's largest heavy metal fest Wacken

juice Bronze badge

Re: If it's too loud, you're too old

Pardon?

*twiddles hearing aid*

Sur-Pies! Google shocks world with sudden Android 9 Pixel push

juice Bronze badge

Re: Survey...

> onefang: bus routes

Back when I used to work at a technology park, there was one bus which trundled between the local town and the park. Said bus route had two large loops along the way, to service some large housing estates.

The bad thing about this was that it meant the average journey time was about 40 minutes. The good thing was that if you missed the bus, you could start walking back to town in a straight line and have a reasonable chance of catching it back up at the end of the first loop ;)

Ironically, having moved back to the big lights, things haven't changed - the quickest way to get home is to walk down to the main bus station and hop aboard there. Or for bonus comedy points, I can wave my bus-pass to get on one bus, hop off at the start of it's loop, walk down the hill and then catch the bus *before* the one I was just riding.

Time travel and UK bus schedules. It's all a bit wibbly-wobbly...

juice Bronze badge

Re: Survey...

Personally, I've generally found Google Maps to be pretty good - I travel to two or three cities a month for various things, and it's proven very useful for both getting me to the city and then navigating around via public transport.

Except in Sofia, where public transport timetables don't seem to have been added to Google Maps. Still, I got a lot of walking done that weekend ;)

One thing that's definitely improved over the last few years is the traffic-jam alerting; these days, I suspect it's more timely than the Highways Agency's system, and a big red mark on your route is a lot more useful than the standard "A1234 closed at junction 22b" roadside warnings which generally mean absolutely nothing to anyone who hasn't taken the time to memorise the whole of the UK's transport grid.

Though admittedly, the first thing I do when configuring a new phone is to turn the vocal guidance off!

You want to know which is the best smartphone this season? Tbh, it's tricky to tell 'em apart

juice Bronze badge

Would have been nice to see some LG V7 photos

... as I've still not been down to Carphone warehouse for a tinker ;)

AFAIK, it's the same hardware[*] and software as per the V30 I currently own, and anecdotally the image quality is measurably better than on the Samsung S7 which it replaced.

Not had a chance to compare it to any of the other current flagships, though.

[*] Give or take the ultra-wideangle lens; they've allegedly reduced the viewing angle somewhat. Be nice if they could restore it back to the same angle as the S6...

HPE supercomputer is still crunching numbers in space after 340 days

juice Bronze badge

Re: "SSDs fail at an alarming rate in space"

I think the point the original poster was trying to make is that it's pretty much all or nothing with SSDs - when they fail, it's generally without warning and there's little or no hope of recovery. Conversely, you usually get some warning with HDDs - SMART alerts, bad-sector alerts during scans, physical noises, etc.

(though from personal experience, SMART mointoring has been spectacularly useless when it comes to flagging up potential issues!)

Official: The shape of the smartphone is changing forever

juice Bronze badge
Paris Hilton

Re: 18:9

> Taller ratio allows manufacturers marketing departments to boast about bigger screens when in reality they are only increasing the diagonal while keeping the area the same.

Eh? As per my waffles above, over the last few generations phone screens have gotten taller while keeping the same width (~2.5 inches). So the screens are physically bigger - we've gone from a height of 5.1" to around 5.5" for a 2:1 ratio phone.

And as a certain socialite-icon would no doubt agree, an extra 0.4" can sometimes make all the difference...

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