* Posts by juice

263 posts • joined 16 Nov 2010

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

juice

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!

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juice

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!

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juice

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!

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

juice

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!

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

juice

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.

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

juice

> 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)!

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Plusnet customers peeped others' deets during system upgrade

juice

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.

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

juice

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.

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

juice

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

Pardon?

*twiddles hearing aid*

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

juice

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...

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juice

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!

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

juice

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...

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HPE supercomputer is still crunching numbers in space after 340 days

juice

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!)

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Official: The shape of the smartphone is changing forever

juice
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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juice

Re: Wouldn't it be nice ..

> As for becoming taller and narrower, this is again the consumer optinion being shaped to maximized profits - the less square the screen, the fewer pixels there are for any given diagonal size. Fewer pixels means higher yealds, which means lower cost and greater profit margins

Screens aren't becoming narrower: instead, they're becoming taller. E.g.

Samsung S7: 2.74" wide with a 16:9 screen (4.4" * 2.5")

Samsung S8: 2.68" wide with a 18.5:9 screen (5.2" * 2.5")

LG G5: 2.91" wide with a 16.9 screen (4.6" * 2.6")

LG G6: 2.83" wide with a 18.9 screen (5.1" * 2.5")

LG G7: 2.83" wide with a 19.5:9 screen (5.5" * 2.6")

I.e. the screen width has stayed constant at 2.5 inches, while the *handset* width has dropped slightly, but that's due to the ongoing drive to trim bezels down to a micron's thickness.

Equally, pixel density has stayed fairly constant for the above handsets at ~570 ppi. So the screens are both physically bigger than the old screens and have higher overall pixel counts, which would negatively impact yields.

And to round it off: the main reason why manufacturers are extending the screen height? Virtual buttons. Moving from 16:9 to 18:9 (or beyond) gives them a nice space at the bottom of the screen where the virtual buttons can sit and not get in the way. And as an added bonus, it contributes to reducing bezel sizes and increasing the screen-to-body ratio; both of which are great for marketing.

Overall, it's time to step away from the tin foil - there's no need for a shiny hat today!

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LG G7 ThinkQ: Ropey AI, but a feast for sore eyes and ears

juice

The V range was available in the UK

I bought my V30 from Carphone warehouse!

One question about the G7: from what I saw in the initial reviews, the wideangle lens has a narrower FOV than the V30 (which in turn has a narrower FOV than the G6). Is this definitely the case? And what's the FOV on the standard lens?

Perhaps ironically (or even deliberately, to make the wideangle look better), the V30's standard lens has a FOV which is perceptibly narrower than on my previous phone, the Samsung S7. I have to keep either taking a step back or switching to the lower-resolution wideangle lens to get the shots I want.

Suppose I can go down to CW to try and compare them, but barring any highly unfortunate accidents, I'll be sticking with the V30 for the foreseeable future; if anything does happen, I might even pick up a G6!

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BT's Patterson keeps his £1.3m wheelbarrow of bonus cash after all

juice

Re: try further out then...

I did wonder if someone would pipe up about Uber's subsidising ;) And yes, a black cab would probably be about a fiver, while a dial-a-cab would fall somewhere inbetween. Or I could even walk![*]

The bus is still ridiculously overpriced though - it seems like 2 quid is pretty much the lowest-price ticket available since a recent "levelling" revamp. Prior to that, the same journey would have been a quid!

Then too, I actually work in the city centre, so have three choices: I can walk into work, which takes 35-40 minutes. I can take the bus, which takes 25-40 minutes[**]. Or I can drive, which takes under ten minutes - I'm on flexitime, so meander back and forth outside the peak rush hours.

Cost of the bus: 2 quid each way. Cost of driving: about 30p in fuel and a fiver in a local carpark.

So once again, the bus has priced itself out of usefulness; for just over a quid more, I can save up to an hours travel time!

Which brings us back (in a roundabout way) to subsidies and public utilities, as per BT's origins in ye olde Royal Mail. But it's probably worth saving all of that until pint'o'clock comes around on the morrow...

[*] But... it's all uphill. Literally: there's two flights of steps within the train station and *then* 180 steps from the back of the station to the /bottom/ of the hill which I live on. At least I'll never get flooded out!

[**] Thanks to the winding route it takes and the fact that they often do a driver changeover... where the new driver is nowhere to be found. Oh, and the buses often bunch up, so you'll get nothing for 15 minutes, then three will turn up in a nice wee convoy. Oh, how we laugh as the queues build up at the bus stop!

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juice

Re: try further out then...

> round these parts they're pretty well run with wireless payments, multiple ticket choices, leather seat bedecked hybrid rides with on-board WIFI

Same round here. Though the price has also shot up as a result.

From the train station to my house is 0.8 miles. Uphill. So when I got back from a long trip dahn saff, I decided to grab a bus.

Turns out this involved a 10 minute wait and a 2 quid charge.

An uber would have cost around 3 quid, taken less time to arrive, had a shorter travel time and would have dropped me straight outside my front door. And there wouldn't be any risk of drunk people, screaming babies, highly fragrant individuals or any of the other things you occasionally get on public transport in a major city.

But hey - I got to pay by credit card, and there's a shiny screen at the front of the bus to tell me where to get off!

At this point though, while the cost delta would rapidly add up for a daily return journey, for a one-off journey, the cost delta between public transport and a taxi is low enough to make the latter the default option.

And that's a great shame.

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Sysadmin cracked military PC’s security by reading the manual

juice

Fun with Android...

I recently bought a phone from Ebay (boxed and complete with all original accessories, so not freshly acquired by a teenager on a moped), only to discover that there's a new security feature on some Android phones: after a factory reset, you have to log in with the old account to verify that the phone hasn't been stolen.

Sadly, the seller had done the factory reset, but hadn't followed up with the verification, and completely failed to respond to my queries; I ended up raising a refund/return request, and still only got an automated "you can return it now" response on the very last day before Ebay would have auto-refunded me.

Thankfully, a bit of searching around threw up a solution. I can't remember the exact details, but it was something along the lines of: open the keyboard's accessibility options and click through things until you got to a help page where you could trigger the Youtube app, from which you could get into the phone's settings and trigger a full credential reset.

Then it turned out that the phone was locked to the wrong network. Fortunately, there's people selling unlock codes on Ebay for 99p, so I just bought one of those - far cheaper than the high street or dedicated unlock websites, and I'd pretty much given up on trying to get anything else at all from the seller!

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The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought

juice

And as a result...

>Bezel's have almost been eliminated from modern TV's. People want a large TV screen not a large TV with a small screen in the middle of a fat bezel that seems to be there for no reason. It used to be where the screen illumination was housed. As technical advances allowed the bezel to shrink towards nothing people chose models with little or no bezel.

The move to thin, bezel-free TVs resulted in the creation of a new market: the soundbar. Because it's very hard to get good sound out of something which is as thin and borderless as a modern TV. So arguably, they've actually lost functionality as a result of the drive for form over function.

Plus, there's a fundamental difference between a TV and a mobile phone. The former sits on a cabinet (or hangs on a wall); the other has to be held to be used. With large, capacitive triggering sausage fingers.

As such, with modern thin bezels, it's becoming increasingly easy to confuse the phone by touching multiple points on the screen.

My last phone was the Samsung S7 Edge with it's effectively bezel-free sides. I ended up putting it in a case - mostly for protection, but also because it was very difficult to hold it in both hands for photography: if your fingers touched the edges, it would refuse to recognise touches on the shutter button.

My current phone is an LG V30, and while it's not as bad for this, all too often the phone decides that I wanted to change the zoom level rather than take the photo.

So yeah: thinner bezels look nice, but please let sanity prevail!

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GPU fairy visits Huawei owners, leaves graphics boost under phones

juice

So...

A company shipped hardware with features turned off, pending on the rollout of software which could use said hardware?

I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked. After all, we've never heard of that happening in the industry before!

No, wait, we have. Sometimes (e.g. Intel CPU microcode updates), they even turn existing features off; other times, they never get around to turning the feature on.

Case in point: my ancient Nokia N800 table. Fitted with a 400mhz CPU and a PowerVR GPU. Originally, the CPU was clocked at at 330mhz (allegedly due to some DSP issue, though information is thin on the ground); this was then bumped up to 400mhz in a later OS release.

Sadly, official drivers for the PowerVR GPU were never released - I've never dug into the details, but there was a half-hearted attempt by the community to produce some drivers which never made it out of alpha. As such, the N800 presumably just fell back to using the GPU as a basic framebuffer, leaving it to the CPU and DSPs to handle video codecs and UI composition.

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Automated payment machines do NOT work the same all over the world – as I found out

juice

Re: Might be the compass

> Sounds like your phone is upside down? Are you in Australia?

Everything does go a bit topsy-turvey after a few pints, it must be said...

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juice

Re: Cash, always

> Buying foreign cash in the UK before you leave is far, far, more expensive than using a debit card abroad.

Not entirely sure I believe that one - at least with HSBC, you have a service charge as well as the exchange rate. As ever, shopping around is your best bet.

One major con when paying for things in another currency (and/or withdrawing cash from the ATM) is the option to be billed in the local currency. It may sound logical and sensible, but the system will apply it's own price-gouging exchange rate to the transaction - when I was in Berlin, I think at least one ATM was offering less than one euro to the pound!

Personally, I tend to weekend stays, so I generally don't spend enough money to worry too much about the exchange rate! However, these days, I've switched to using Revolut - there's no service charge, so the overall cost of conversion is slightly lower than with my debit card.

Though TBH, the main draw is that it's essentially disposable - having had my credit card cloned at a hotel in London, I'm very much a fan of paying for things/withdrawing cash with something which I top-up at the point of usage; the rest of the time, at most it only has a couple of quid on it.

Good luck buying several hundred quids worth of teeth-whitening gear with that, freeloaders! Though I am grateful to Barclaycard for spotting the transaction and flagging it to me :)

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juice

Might be the compass

I've discovered that the one on my phone (and the one before it - LG and Samsung, respectively) has a nasty tendency to point 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Thankfully, you can fix this by rotating the phone around all three axis - and at the weekend, Android did pop up a warning that the blue-dot accuracy was pants. But it's still caught me out a couple of times...

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juice

Re: Similar experience in the USA (and France!)

My first ever attempt at a solo European road trip involved disembarking from the ferry at Calais and bumbling out onto the autoroutes around 3am in the morning. After an hour or so, I pulled over at a petrol station, only to discover that the pumps weren't working.

After some comedic attempts to communicate with the staff, it turned out that they would only supply fuel if you prepaid at the till - presumably, they get a lot of people driving off without paying in the wee hours of the morning.

I had been hoping to fill the tank to the brim, but had to settle for choosing a "safe" amount that I could pay by card, and which would get me a reasonable distance - I'd literally just bought the car a week or so earlier, so hadn't yet got a comfortable grasp on how accurate the fuel-tank gauge and MPG calculations were...

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Drug cops stopped techie's upgrade to question him for hours. About everything

juice

Re: Sheffield had a water-fountain/sculpture thing...

As an increasingly decrepit ex-Boltonian, I can vaguely remember the two water features in the town hall square - basically giant octagonal concrete paddling pools with a couple of water jets in the middle, and I can remember splashing around in them as a wee nipper.

(in fact... http://www.bolton.org.uk/fountains.html)

Saldy (?), they've long since been demolished, though the stepped-pyramid fountains either side of the town hall are still present. And in searching for photos of the old water features, the second link in the search results indicates that people are still very much behaving as they ever did...

http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/15238897.Pranksters_fill_town_centre_fountain_with_bubbles/

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juice

Sheffield had a water-fountain/sculpture thing...

If you stood far back enough and craned your neck up, it appeared to be two whale-tails sticking up into the sky.

Anyhow, being at the "budget shop" end of town, the water-fountain was generally covered by foot or so of bubbles, with an empty bottle of cheap shampoo floating somewhere underneath all the froth.

These days, it's been filled in and planted with various plants and bushes, which isn't quite as fun...

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What can you do when the pup of programming becomes the black dog of burnout? Dude, leave

juice

Re: Burnout isn't unknown in IT

> IMHO the problem is less the 'IT Hero' by choice, but by necessity - when the company won't pay for cover or extra staff to cover other duties.

And that's part of the reason why I stepped away from the keyboard and towards the kettle - rant levels were exceeding the Monday RDA ;)

Being in a culture which either glorifies or relies on the IT Hero principle is a major issue: it leads to people believing the hype, which in turn can lead to people pushing themselves too hard, leading to the aforementioned burnout.

And once infected with IT Hero, a small but statistically significant percentage of people are also prone to catching Insufferable Asshole syndrome, too...

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juice

Burnout isn't unknown in IT

The impact of "crunch time" on project work is well documented, especially in the gaming industry.

So I'm really not sure what great revelations this article is meant to be bringing to the table. If anything, the main thing it seems to be promoting is the equally destructive "IT Hero" mentality - aka a Single Point of Failure.

<Hi! I'm Clippy! You appear to have rant-lock on!>

Hmm.

*looks at tea mug*

Maybe I should absorb some caffeine before reading this sort of thing. Especially on a Monday...

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Tech rookie put decimal point in wrong place, cost insurer zillions

juice

>> Presumably this wasn't an RDBMS

> I can't see how you came to that assumption. SELECT * will include all columns that get added in the future. Many also have the misguided understanding that addressing a field by name is more expensive than by number. One of those premature optimisation consequences.

Doesn't even have to be a SELECT * - as per the manual page I just posted, many libraries have the option of indexing the "columns" of each individual record by numeric position or label. So for "SELECT a, b, c", you can refer to element c as either record[c] *or* record[2].

Personally, I tend to terminate such constructs with extreme prejudice when I come across them - unless there's a very good reason to minimise the code's footprint, readability (and hence maintainability) should always take priority.

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juice

>> Old code only referred to the fields by number, $row[0], $row[1], so a new column in the middle offset all the subsequent ones."

> There's your problem right there. It's an SQL system so nobody of any competence should do that. Had the code been adapted reused without changes from something older?

I've seen plenty of similar examples, written in the last decade or so. Sometimes it's because people aren't experienced developers, but it's also sometimes because people think they're being clever.

As the second comment here notes, in the legacy libraries used by PHP (and presumably, Perl, etc) indexing by the numeric column ID is measurably faster:

http://php.net/manual/en/function.mysql-fetch-array.php

(And it's probably still true today, but with modern hardware, I'm guessing the elapsed-time delta is significantly smaller. I've not had enough caffeine, nor do I have enough interest to knock up a test script!)

Personally, I value readability over "optimisations" like this - if you're reading and writing to a database, then disk and network I/O are the biggest factors when it comes to performance issues, usually by several orders of magnitude.

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Oddly enough, when a Tesla accelerates at a barrier, someone dies: Autopilot report lands

juice

"The way it is laid out (same as most similar places on a USA motorway) is criminal in its incompetence."

That may well be true, but Tesla is an american company, and as other comments have pointed out, this is in an area which has been heavily used for self-drive testing. So they should have been fully aware that this is a potential scenario, and their software/hardware should be configured to address it.

It's also worth noting that even in other countries, hatching and other visual indications may not always be there - on quieter roads, it may have worn away, or if they're doing roadworks, it may simply not have been repainted yet.

Auto-pilot mechanisms need to deal with *all* scenarios, not just the best-case ones.

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You should find out what's going on in that neural network. Y'know they're cheating now?

juice

Re: Gigo

Not really - the information provided to the neural net was correct, it was just overly limited.

Or to put it another way, a set of incorrect assumptions were generated due to the provision of limited information.

If there was more variety in the training data, this issue wouldn't have occurred.

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Mirror mirror on sea wall, spot those airships, make Kaiser bawl

juice

Re: It was....

From what I've read, "Bomber" Harris does seem to have been both resistant to change and overly obsessed with the theory that "strategic bombing" of industrial and political targets (read: cities filled with civilians) would bring Germany to it's knees, despite the fact that Germany had tried the exact same technique on the UK with very limited success.

"The Lancaster bankrupted Britain; you could say it was one of the factors in why Germany is now #1 country in Europe."

Really? I found some numbers (http://www.lancaster-archive.com/lanc_sortie_cost.htm) which are a bit odd ("5000 tons of aluminium" per plane sounds a tad dodgy, for starters!), but assuming the headline figures are accurate, it cost approx. £42,000 to buy a Lancaster and £13,000 to send it out for a sortie. Or approx. £1.9 million and £580,000 in 2018 prices.

Wikipedia then states that approx.7400 Lancs were built, and flew 156,000 sorties.

Using some basic beer-mat calculations, and assuming that a "sortie" is equivalent to one plane, the manufacturing costs were approx. £15,000 million and the overall running costs work out at about 90,500 million - or around 105 US billion in total

Finally, https://caseagainstbush.blogspot.com/2005/04/financial-cost-of-world-war-ii1u.html states that WW2 cost the UK the equivalent of £1,260,500,000,000 in 2005. Which works out at about £1,830,000,000,000 in 2018.

Phew.

So, while the Lancaster bombing sorties were expensive, they were only around half a percent of the total UK war cost.

The above doesn't take into account secondary costs, such as the training and salary costs for the crew and engineers, but I think it's fairly safe to say that if the Lancaster hadn't existed, those people would have been put to work elsewhere in the war effort (i.e. they'd still require training and paying), so it's somewhat moot in this context.

5
0
juice

Re: It was....

As the old saying goes, the prospect of being hung (or at least: invaded by a foreign army) does tend to concentrate the mind [*]. Though even then, the Dambusters book makes it clear that Barnes did still have to jump through a lot of hoops to get the bouncing bomb (and later, the tallboys and grandslams) into production.

As to the "one man invention": technology was considerably simpler and often relied on "brute force", though ironically, today's technology can often deliver far more of a bang for a much smaller buck - and with much greater reliability, to boot. E.g. compare a 1920s race car to a modern road car - both can do the same speed, but the modern car will be far more reliable, easier to drive and probably significantly more fuel efficient, to boot. It's also significantly more complex, and you're far less likely to be able to fix things with a bit of percussive maintenance.

Even then, and with all due respect for the people who came up with the initial idea, don't underestimate how much of their inventions relied on past discoveries and/or other people's work. For instance, Barnes' grandslams would have been useless without a new steel alloy which could stand up to the forces when ten tonnes of bombs at terminal velocity attempts to drill through a few dozen feet of concrete!

[*] And the same is true in most industries and scenarios. Code needs to go live tomorrow? Customer billing run failed? JFDI and sort out the paperwork later.

6
0

Foolish foodies duped into thinking Greggs salads are posh nosh

juice

I tried a deep fried mars bar in Edinburgh while wandering down the Royal mile, but neither my friend nor I were particularly impressed - it tasted like cardboard.

A chippy in Buxton does deep fried Cadburys Creme Eggs at Easter. Which is pretty much as gloriously disgusting as you might expect, especially since the egg comes out covered in a gnarled knot of batter - it looks like something you'd stumble across in a Alien film...

4
0
juice

A local chippy does deep fried rolls of kebab meat. I bought one once as an experiment; I think my heart stuttered just from looking at it!

0
0

Dixons to shutter 92 UK Carphone Warehouse shops after profit warning

juice

Too many stores, too close together

Up in sunny Sheffield, there's seven CW stores within a 3 mile radius; if you stretch an extra half mile or so out to the Crystal Peaks shopping mall, the total goes up to ten. And at least two of these are little tiny breeze block boxes stuck in the far corner of a retail park, where there's little or no passing footfall; at best, you'll maybe get some travelling salesman nipping in to pick up a new bluetooth headset.

As such, I'm guessing it's the retail park outlets that are going to get the first swing of the axe - I genuinely find it hard to believe that they've ever turned a profit!

3
0

'Facebook takes data from my phone – but I don't have an account!'

juice

Re: however there are very few options

Sadly, I'm not convinced that wasting the time of some poor sod on minimum wage at a british high-street shop is going to achieve anything - it's not like they're going to immediately ring up the handset manufacturer or Facebook to report that someone's been behaving like a douchebag!

Back to the subject at hand, and I was mildly disappointed to see that my V30 (bought unlocked from CW on the aforementioned high street) came with Facebook pre-installed and un-uninstallable. As a business-orientated phone, I was rather hoping the built-in cruft would be kept to a minimum...

15
0

Xiaomi the way: Hyped Chinese giant begins its battle for Britain

juice

Re: Won't work in the UK...

To a degree that's true - but I'd expect that to be true in any country. Certainly, in an office with a fair percent of tekkies, there's one or two with showcase mobiles (e.g. iPhone X), but there's a fair mix of older models and "second-tier" brands - LG, etc. One person is even actively waiting for the OnePlus 6 launch tomorrow.

Personally, I think the biggest issue is that they're coming into a mature market where there's very little (from a consumer perspective) functional differences between manufacturers or models: barring brand-name bragging rights, pretty much the only two differentiators are "iOS or Android" and whatever camera-enhancement gimmick has been bolted on.

Then too, the second-hand market is flooded with older handsets which are more than fit for purpose - e.g. you can pick up a 2-year old Samsung S7 for around £200 if you shop around, and it's still a competitive all-rounder.

So good luck to Huawei - I think they're going to need it!

6
0

Huawei Honor 10: At £399, plenty of bang for buck – it's a pity about the snaps

juice

Re: Fail ?

Things are pretty impressive these days when it comes to mobile phone cameras - I've seen friends making professional-looking music videos on an iPhone, and I had a fairly friendly discussion with someone on here a few weeks ago, about the fact that mobile phone camera-quality is generally Good Enough to occasionally obviate the need for a DSLR camera.

Mind you, there's still plenty which can be done to improve things. The lens is small, the sensor is small, and for all the software tricks that people are throwing at the problem, there's limits to how much more you can enhance the output and compensate for low-light conditions - when it comes to the latter, I don't count things like the P20's "stand still for X seconds" approach to be a valid solution at all!

You can see this in the way that most of the manufacturers are throwing a second lens onto the back, either to provide optical zoom (Apple), wide-angle views (LG), and the variable-aperture mechanism on the Samsung S9.

Or in the extreme case, the 16(!) lenses on the back of the Light L16 (https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/4/10/17218758/light-l16-review-camera-photos)

Still, barring some breakthrough in physics, I'm guessing we're likely to only see incremental physical camera improvements in the next few - it's why Huawei, LG and others are starting to big up their post-processing "AI" software!

0
0
juice

Re: Phone or camera?

"Is it a phone or is it a camera or some mixed up intermediate object"

It's a PDA which has a camera, a phone and various other things bolted onto it. And it's been like that for the best part of a decade.

Be interesting to see if anyone's done any analysis on what people actually use their mobile phones for. Given the way that screen-sizes keep creeping up, it's pretty clear that "visual" activities (e.g. social media and photographs) generally take precedence over "audio-only" activities.

Mind you, as regards call quality: there was this part of the article...

"The sound is surprisingly strong, with notifications and ringtones clear and loud

...

Call quality and radio reception, it is customary to report on a Huawei-made device, are first rate. Both SIM slots support LTE, and the Honor offers to keep your internet data going on one SIM while you talk on the other."

Admittedly, some more detail would be nice, but TBH, does any reviewer cover call quality in any depth these days? Wouldn't be that hard to throw together an app to poll for signal strength/location every X seconds, and then go for a wander through some terrain with various signal-blocking traits.

4
0

Fixing a printer ended with a dozen fire engines in the car park

juice

Re: Don't wear high vis

Up to a few years ago, Alton Towers had an annual winter "pirate" weekend at their water park/hotel complex; it basically worked out at 20 quid per person for an day in the water park and an overnight stay.

Since this coincided with a friend's birthday, a bunch of us headed to this.

Meanwhile, in the main bar (which has a pirate ship in the middle - we ended up doing a conga line around it), some of the staff/entertainers were also dressed as pirates.

And while a few of us made the effort to go the full cosplay hog, I just opted for a smiffys hat and a t-shirt with a "pirate shirt" print on it.

And I *still* got asked for directions etc from other attendees...

7
0

There will be blood: BT to axe 13,000 employees

juice

Do the numbers actually add up?

I have to wonder how useful their headcount-reduction numbers are, especially if they're looking to recruit more front-line staff at the same time. Potentially, if they carry through with their plan to hire 9,500 front-liners, their headcount is only going to drop by around 3,500 in the next 3 years.

Though this is likely to be scant consolation for the people being shown the door - and I'm guessing the newcomers will have lower wages and fewer financial benefits, to boot!

Anyway, since I had some time waiting on a server rebuild, I did some poking around. An article on the BBC (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8049276.stm) from 2009 states that their headcount was 162,000 in 2008; they'd lopped 15k from this in 2009 and were looking to drop another 15k in 2010.

However, according to BT's own annual reports[*], the employee headcount in 2009 was 110.6k and they actually /grew/ between 2007 and 2008.

In fact, it looks like BT's headcounts can be roughly divided into 5-year epochs:

1994: 156k employees

1995 - 2001: ~ 130k employees

2002 - 2007: ~ 105k employees

2008 - 2010: ~ 110k employees

2011 - 2016: ~ 90k employees

2017: 106k employees

I.e. they've had a couple of big bloodbaths in 1995, 2001 and 2011; the rest of the time, things are relatively stable - there's even the occasional uptick, presumably from acquisitions. E.g. in 2006, they picked up Plusnet, and in 2016, they picked up 12.8k employees from EE.

Though that said, the 2017 annual report indicates that the EE headcount had already dropped to 9.2k, so I'd guess ex-EE staff make for a relatively easy target for any beancounter looking to trim things down.

Equally, their 2017 annual report states that of their 106k employees, only 82,000 are in the UK. Given that the statement implies they're targeting UK staff, it'll be interesting[**] to see how well their processes handle a headcount reduction of ~15%, especially when they've been actively trimming headcount for the last 25 years; by now, they've long since stripped any fat and must be starting to catch the bone in places.

[*] Annoyingly unstandardised, but a bit of digging eventually cleared things up somewhat

[**] In the sense that a slow-motion car-crash is interesting, as long as you're not one of the people involved!

3
0

Huawei P20: Snappish snaps, but for £200 less than Pro, it’s Notch bad

juice

But as reader "juice" points out

Ooooo - I've been quoted! My 15 microseconds of fame have come at last!

I feel all faint and funny. Perhaps I should go for a lie down. Or, seeing as it's Friday, a medicinal beverage may be in order.

Beyond that, the photos all look decent enough - it's amazing how far we've come since the days of the webcam-quality cameras which were bolted onto the early handsets!

9
0

Doom and Super Mario could be a lot tougher now AI is building levels

juice

Garbage in, garbage out

I have to ask: how does the "discriminator" decide what counts as a good level? It's not exactly a "true/false" question, and the most important factor - "fun" - is the hardest to quantify.

Most likely, you'll just end up with levels which score highly by the computer but is completely unfun to play...

2
0

More Brits have access to 1Gbps speeds than those failing to muster 10Mbps – Ofcom report

juice

10Mbps

You can get fibre speeds in some parts of Sheffield - I got mine switched on around 3 years ago! And from where I'm sitting, I can see the train station...

Admittedly, Sheffield is something of a special case when it comes to fibre, thanks to the ill fated Digital Region initiative; the aftermath of that failure delayed the rollout for years.

And while BT has recently been making more of a push, they've allegedly hit issues with a failed sub-contractor (https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2017/10/south-yorkshire-broadband-rollout-hit-main-bt-subcontractor-collapse.html).

Either way, fibre is starting to appear in the city!

0
0

Can't log into your TSB account? Well, it's your own fault for trying

juice

> Surprisingly, perhaps, I can't ever recall a piece of software that was a waste of time. I've used good and bad, well-designed and pants, and plenty of painfully slow stuff – every version of Windows ever released, for example – but none of it has impacted on my longevity.

Dunno - all that sitting and watching the spinning hourglass isn't good for your health! Nor does it do your blood pressure any good to sit on hold while some poor tele-support person sits and waits for their computer to say No.

A couple of times in my career, I've reduced response times drastically for some big systems, via simple things like enabling gzip compression on the web-server, stripping down badly written templates or cleaning up badly written javascript.

In the most recent incident, the offending HTML/JS was sat on the main page of a CRM system in constant use by several hundred call-centre staff. Taking a chainsaw to this shaved several seconds off the load time, which then translated to several FTE per day in terms of time saved - and in the process, it made both staff and customers slightly happier as it had a measurable impact on call duration!

4
0

Motorola Z2 Force: This one's for the butterfingered Android lovers

juice

Re: I tried using mods with the LG G5

> I have a cousin with a CAT one who lives on a narrowboat and has been known to drop hers in the canal. Not sure there are many that can survive that.

A friend is a sound-engineer/roadie/stage manager, so he spends a lot of time in what can politely be described as a phone-hostile environment - crawling around under stages, clambering around rigging, etc. He's also a rocker and can often be found in physically challenging environments, such as a New Model Army mosh pit ;)

The last time I saw him, he was showing off his Cat S60 (the one with the built in predator-vision IR camera), by dunking it in his beer, hurling it at the floor/wall/bar and stomping on it with a pair of very large and heavy New Rock boots.

It survived completely unscathed.

Admittedly, he's recently posted on Facebook that he needs a new handset, so I'm guessing that he finally managed to find a way to kill it off. Still, if so, it still managed to survive active punishment for a good 18 months or so...

3
0
juice

I tried using mods with the LG G5

And it wasn't a particularly successful experience.

Admittedly, the Moto implementation has a significant advantage: you don't have to shut down the phone to swap mods. However, it still has two major issues:

1) With a mod on, it's too bulky/heavy to put in a pocket

2) You can't put a case on the phone when it has a mod attached

Not being able to use a case is the absolute killer for me. I made the mistake of believing the gorilla-glass hype when I bought an S7 Edge - I slapped plastic screen protectors on the front and back, kept it isolated in a trouser side-pocket and figured that'd be enough.

And it was, for a month or so, until I woke up after a trip to a nightclub, to discover that the back of the phone now resembled a very intricate cobweb. Still no idea how it happened - presumably it banged against a table corner or somesuch during the night.

I have insurance via my bank, but there's still a £100 excess. As such, I tend to order a case and screen protectors before the phone itself, and it's an automatic no-go for any phone where I'd have to faff with removing the case *or* not be able to use a case at all.

4
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