* Posts by ilmari

229 posts • joined 18 Oct 2012


'Say hello to my little vacuum cleaner!' US drug squad puts spycams in cleaner's kit


For some reason my reading comprehension failed when I read the headline, and I was expecting to find that they have e stuck a chemical analyzer to a vacuum cleaner, looking for for traces of drugs.

New era for Japan, familiar problems: Microsoft withdraws crash-tastic patches


Re: People should stop using calendars...

How long would float as time_t work before milliseconds, centiseconds, deciseconds, and finally seconds stopped ticking over?

I think python already has Unix time as a floating point number...

Dawn of the dead: NASA space probe runs out of gas in asteroid belt after 6.4 billion-mile trip


Re: This seems like a good argument for ion drives

Dawn had ion engine for trajectory changes.

What I'm curious about is whether it also has reaction wheels or similar for attitude control, whether those had also failed.

It would also be interesting to know what kind of spool-up spool-down delays, if any, ion drives have, and how much efficiency is lost during that time.. and if they could be made small enough to be used for attitude control. You'd need 8-16 of them.

Goodnight Kepler! NASA scientists lay the exoplanet expert to rest as it runs out of fuel


Re: But why were the transmitters shut down?

If dead probes weren't shut down, you'd eventually have no frequencies left for new probes to transmit on. So they shut it off, while it's antennas were still pointing close enough towards earth to be able to receive commands.

A US navy navigation satellite launched in 1964 still wakes up occasionally when it gets sunlight on its panels, and transmits telemetry. At its job of navigation satellite it failed 2 months after launch.

Sensor failure led to Soyuz launch failure, says Roscosmos


Iirc, Apollo era fault detection, and probably Soyuz too, consists of a long piece of wire that runs up and down the length of the rocket. If the rocket goes boom, the wire is broken, which triggers abort.

Then it's a question of how fast explosive bolts and the abort motor light up after being lit up. Hopefully fast enough that the fireball shockwave still hasn't reached the crew.

BlackBerry KEY2 LE: The first budget Android QWERTY for years


Maybe y7 can type daater ok no. Capacitive touch keyboard, but 2-@5# the poibt wjeb y97 spend nor3 time fixing ty09#?


Maybe you can type faster on capacitive keyboard, but what's the point when you spend more time fixing typos?

Or at least, despite efforts I still can't type better than the above on touchscreen. Mind, I held out with qwerty until 2014 or so, so I've only had 4 years practice time..

Probably for the best: Apple makes sure eSIMs won't nuke the operators


Re: eSIMs make so much sense

My operator used to have a service like this, for 3.90 Euro a month I got 5 extra SIM cards, all with the same phone number. All phones rang at the same time, but SMS only arrived on the main phone.

Apparently this was too good of a serviy, because they only sold it for a few months. I used it for about 8 years before my level of geekiness dropped to having only one phone.

Nokia reinstates 'hide the Notch' a day after 'Google required' feature kill


Um, clueless user of a notch less Xiaomi phone here, but

Surely the OS knows not to put things in the not visible area taken up by speaker/sensor/camera ? Surely?

It may be poor man's Photoshop, but GIMP casts a Long Shadow with latest update


Re: Forget the geeky stuff, sort out the user experience.

From my observations of random people trying gimp, they can't find anything because the buttons are all in windows floating around, sometimes with scrollbars, sometimes not.

Then, eventually, they try close gimp, except most of the time they close all the toolboxes before closing whichever window that makes gimp actually close. On next start, all the toolbox windows are gone, and user wonders where everything went, or concludes that maybe he/she misremembered and that gimp actually has no features.

Boffins: Mixed-signal silicon can SCREAM your secrets to all



I struggle to make Bluetooth work for deliberate communication at point blank range, and these guys sniff unintended leaks at 10 metres? That's like black magic squared!

No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?


Re: Phone reviews

Get her a OnePlus one or a Xiaomi A1. Even at lowest volume setting my eardrums bleed.

Could anyone give hints on a phone with decent vibrate? The before mentioned vibrate so meekly I can't tell the difference between phone vibrating and my bones creaking.

Intel confirms it’ll release GPUs in 2020


Oh, like MXM?

Boffins bash out bonkers boost for batteries


Re: Good news, everyone!

Hand a laptop or phone manufacturer a battery twice as good as their current batteries, and their next device will have a battery half the size of their previous device. Marketing will be hyping the thin sleek design, and everyone will still be whining about how battery technology isn't keeping up.

Elon Musk's latest Tesla Model 3 delivery promise: 6,000... a week


Re: Replacing the batteries.

The different range options on a Tesla actually uses the same physical battery, the software limitations are just different. Now then, why does it cost more to be allowed to use more of the battery's capacity? Because using less makes it last longer and lowers Tesla's warranty repair costs.

When it comes to phones, the phone manufacturers crank the settings all the way to the "maximum capacity, some explosions, short life" end of the scale. And sometimes a bit too far.

OK, this time it's for real: The last available IPv4 address block has gone


Re: @boxplayer - "Nobody uses it..."

How did we ever manage to migrate from IPX to TCP?

Don’t fight automation software for control, just turn it off. FAST


The autopilot isnt (on this aircraft) hooked up to the same controls as the pilots mechanical yoke.

As if a car had both front and rear wheel steering, and the autopilot could steer the rear wheels and the steering wheel is connected to the front wheels.

Fog off! No more misty eyes for self-driving cars, declare MIT boffins


From a northerly Scandinavian perspective, the bicyclist was out in the dark without wearing reflectors on her person, her bike was lacking basic side reflectors, and the legally mandated front light was not present or working at the required level. Crossing that road seems dubious at best, and I wonder how the bicyclist didn't notice the uber's headlights when, presumably, looking to both sides and listening for cars before crossing the road. The road could use fencing in the middle to prevent crossing by moose and pedestrians, except for designated moose and/or pedestrian crossings.

The driver was distracted by presumably a phone, and speeding.

Fine them both, improve the road, case closed?

Rant launches Eric Raymond's next project: open-source the UPS


Re: UPSs lack the kind of sensor information that protected car batteries, Raymond wrote

The only cars I've seen have 14.5V regulated alternator, that if you're lucky is temperature compensated. Low voltage protection doesn't exist, but sometimes happens accidentally because the starter solenoid just drops out when voltage collapses. Some fancier fuel burning heaters with timers do have low voltage cutoffs, though.


Re: Where are you?

Except really cheap LED bulbs which just have a bunch of LEDs in series straight on AC with perhaps a resistor or current limiting capacitor.

The retrofits that have a tiny lag in between flicking the switch and turning on, you can be sure has some sort of actual driver circuit..


Re: Lack of clue

It's somewhat alright if the battery is maintained at 80% full, alows down the wear and tear.

What did we say about Tesla's self-driving tech? SpaceX Roadster skips Mars, steers to asteroids


Re: It was never going anywhere NEAR Mars

How does the inclination of elon's roadster line up with the inclination of mars?

Cool disk drive actuator pillar, Seagate – how about two of them?



So.. Am I missing something, or does Seagates's split actuator thing perform the same as two half-sized drives in striped raid-0?


I thought harddrives were more like optical drives these days, that they actually track the position of a track, so that it allows for the disc/platter to even spin slightly off-centre.

We translated Intel's crap attempt to spin its way out of CPU security bug PR nightmare


Re: Mixed signals on CPU's

So basically every CPU since the Pentium Pro / Pentium II?

Get a CPU older than 20 years and you'll be fine.

Kernel-memory-leaking Intel processor design flaw forces Linux, Windows redesign


Re: Handbrake users beware

Funny, I thought video conversion would be minimally hit, as it consists mostly of:

read(very many bytes); process (very long cpu intensive code); write(very many bytes)

Where, if the read and write are implemented as sending big requests to the kernel, should be minimally affected. The processing portion of it is surely 99% of the whole processing time anyway?

I could believe things like a database would slow down, when it's hopping all over the place on disk looking for/writing data. I could believe facebook slows down alot, because browsers are doing lots of itsy bitsy tiny reads and writes to both disk and net, and lots of small updates of the screen to animate all the gifs and what not.


Re: Lots of testing work to be done then?

It's the move to and from kernel that is penalized, time spent inside kernel and time spent outside kernel isn't penalized. Of course, hardly any system monitoring programs will tell you how many syscalls or context switches different programs cause.

That was fast... unlike old iPhones: Apple sued for slowing down mobes


Re: "To provide a better experience to customers"

What's preferable, phone unexpectedly shutting down without warning, or phone slowing down to avoid sudden shutdown?

The big issue is of course that the user wasn't notified in either case, on any brand of phone (androids also suffer from thus when their battery gets old, sudden shutdowns despite having 30% left).

On the other hand, it's not an easy problem to solve. Unexpected shutdown means unexpected, even if there was an algorithm trying to collect data about the operating state of the cpu and all its peripherals, and recording battery voltages, when unexpected shutdown hits you lose the data. The hardware shuts down to protect both the battery (since they become unstable from operating at low voltage) and the CPU, ram and storage from corrupting data due to insufficient voltage.

AMD have a "clock stretching" feature in some of their CPUs, if the voltage inside the CPU drops the frequency slows down. It's mostly meant to allow them to operate with lower voltages and save power by not needing as big "safety margin" in voltage. Would be interesting to see something similar in mobile SOCs!

It's kinda remarkable that battery meters are still so bad at tracking the capabilities of an aging battery. On one hand, it's a kinda neglected area where manufacturers choose the cheapest component. On the other hand, it's a difficult problem! Batteries aged in standard cycle testing behave differently to batteries aged in real life. Batteries in real life age differently depending on how they're used and charged.

What do I mean by aged differently? As is well known, a battery's voltage sags when you put a load on it. The bigger the load, the more the voltage drops. The amount of drop is, for most part, a linear function of the load. When the battery is new, the sag is so small it makes no difference. The amount of sag can be described as internal resistance. More internal resistance means more sag.

On a new battery, the internal resistance stays nearly constant regardless if the battery is 100% or 20% full. Towards empty it becomes a bit higher. With an ideally cycled and aged battery, the capacity is lower, and the internal resistance is higher, but the internal resistance is still around the same order of magnitude regardless the battery is full or empty.

With batteries aged in real life conditions, where the battery might've spent a lot of time at 100%, a lot of time at 0%, a lot of time in heat, etc, the results on internal resistance will be different. The internal resistance might sharply rise as the battery discharges. From the initial situation with a fresh battery having a flat internal resistance curve vs state of charge, to having a inclined straight line describing an increased resistance at empty, to having exponentially increasing resistance towards empty.

Why does this all matter? Because currently there's no battery meter chip that can take into account anything except the "internal resistance is the same regardless of how full battery is" situation. Most chips don't account for internal resistance at all.

So from an engineer's perspective, if Apple is actually tracking actual battery performance and managing to make their system adapt to having a smaller and smaller power budget, that's kinda impressive. Makes me glad someone is finally paying attention to adding more sophistication to battery management systems!

Of course, they could just have put in a battery twice as big and they wouldn't have had issues with shrinking power budget for the phone's "lifetime", and they wouldn't need to consider aging battery.

We have standards, says 3GPP as group starts to lay groundwork for 5G


Soon marketing will have made more radio Gs than the storage Gs on the device itself.

Yes, your old iPhone is slowing down: iOS hits brakes on CPUs as batteries wear out


Re: Battery shape?

It's more like, the more you focus on a battery's ability to deliver high peak power, then more you take away from its ability to to store energy. It's a tradeoff. Mobile phones very much favour capacity over power, Apple perhaps more so than the rest. Also keeping in mind that Apple has very powerful CPU while at the same time having "unremarkable" battery capacity, in remarkably small space, it pushes everything to the limit.

In this case they pushed it perhaps too far, when some batteries have aged a bit too fast.

Games-mart Steam halts Bitcoin payments


Re: $20 per transaction fee

I remember back in the day when some nerds were trying to explain the usefulness of bitcoin, they argued speed of transaction and cost of transactions as superior to regular banking. At the time I thought the argument was dubious at best, as bank transactions were on the order of minutes, and transactions usually included with other services anyway, costing nothing extra.

"But bitcoin isn't vulnerable to the whims of governments and central bankers!" - well sure, but is the whims of the collective speculative investor hivebrain any better?

Don't shame idiots about their idiotically weak passwords


I think the biggest issue is the sheer number of passwords required. The average person probably struggles to remember more than 2 "difficult" passwords. Add to that, that every little thing wants you to make a user account and password, so you end up with hundreds.

Tesla launches electric truck it guarantees won't break for a million miles


Re: Tesla semi?

The batteries should accept charge at the same rate as the stated acceleration, so 100 to 0 in 20 seconds. That seems like very aggressive braking under normal circumstances.

Likewise, if it can maintain a specific speed going up a hill, it can maintain the same speed going down the hill without the use of friction braking.

Two drones, two crashes in two months: MoD still won't say why


Laser altimeter is the kind of thing a hobbyist would use, since hobbyist radars make ofcom/FCC/etc annoyed. GPS and barometric sensors aren't that good for approaching the ground at a ensured survivable rate.

IETF mulls adding geoblock info to 'Bradbury's code'


So is this serious, or will it be as widely used as the evil bit on IP level?

MH370 final report: Aussies still don’t know where it crashed or why


Re: planet is surrounded by spy satellites

I once found a submarine on Google Earth. It was just outside Tokyo bay. Always takes me awhile to find it again though.


The spy satellites are more concerned with photographing military targets. Even so, had they been tasked with photographing the ocean, you would've needed quite some luck to have taken a picture of the right area before the debris got scattered out blending in with all the other debris floating around.. Not to mention the manpower needed to sift through all those photos. There was a crowd sources effort to look through satellite photos, which turned up empty.

Essentially invisible: Android big-daddy Andy Rubin's hypetastic mobe 'flops in first month'


Was out shopping for a new phone for my elderly father. At some point he had wandered off into the shop of the third largest operator.

When I informed the shopkeeper that yes, that's exactly the phone for him (a Doro), we can't really buy it since we do need to use the competing operator for coverage concerbs.

The shopkeeper cheerfully said he's happy to sell the phone even if we put competitor's SIM in it.

Ah, good ol' Windows update cycles... Wait, before anything else, check your hardware


Re: Bah!

Now I understand why some 3D printers have SD card slot for storing the print while it's printing!


Re: I'm confused

64-bit mode removes some old backwards compatibility, and many new features are only available in 64-bit mode.

It's slowly moving towards being two entirely different CPUs, with 32-bit mode being left as it was, and 64-bit getting all the new features.

Anyone remember typing "go64" on a Commodore 128? :-)


Re: "platform of built-in solutions to optimize your Windows 10 investment"

On mine it "upgrades" the synaptics touchpad drivers to a version which turns the touchpad on and off rapidly. The blinking notification onscreen (at around 20 on/off cycles per second) is annoying enough, it also makes it harder to click things so I can roll back to the working version.

Mad scientist zaps himself to determine the power of electric eel shocks


The 46mA is actually impressively strong. It's in the potential death territory (but not certain death, far from it), if the shock went across a heart instead if through an arm.

Google to relieve HTC of its phones biz – report


Re: Competing with their own customers

I wonder if it's google saying "If you guys won't do it right and be responsible about security and updates, then we'll just do it ourselves."

Smart meters: 'Dog's breakfast' that'll only save you 'a tenner' – report


These tariffs are available elsewhere in Europe. Suppliers offer different "day-ahead market price + margin" tariffs, for example.

It works as long as a minority uses those tariffs, and as long as demand isn't too flexible (everyone choosing to use all their power at 3am to charge Tesla powerwall when it's cheapest).

Nest cracks out cheaper spin of its thermostat


Re: Not applicable in any place I lived...

There are battery powered electronic versions of that valve, including ones with wireless control through a central "router", and the facepalm quality mobile apps. I know one manufacturer already deprecated their first gen versions of this, leaving expensive systems vulnerable. I'm looking at you, Danfoss.


Re: Savings?

If you took an average sized UK dwelling, and installed good insulation, and subjected it to the mild UK climate, you'd only need the waste heat from the kettle to keep warm.


Re: Still not happening

Which requires that someone is constantly present and awake to monitor the temperatures, so that when the family returns from work/school the water pipes haven't frozen over.

VW engineer sent to the clink for three years for emissions-busting code


So obviously in this case they actually detected test conditions by some method (front wheels moving, rear wheels stationary, obd connected?), and switched engine to lower emissions...

I wonder what the outcome would've been if they instead had heavily optimized the engine to run the cleanest at exactly the test regime conditions, but provide increased power and higher emissions when the driver pushes the throttle and deviates from the teat conditions?

It would on one hand be a sort if cheat, but on the other hand one could argue that it would be reasonable for the test, that the authorities designed, to reflect the most common expected use, and that it made sense to optimize the engine for these conditions...

I myself tend to use the style which BMW (iirc) found to be most efficient, pedal to the floor, shift up before 2000rpm until in highest gear.

Batteries that don't burn at the drop of a Galaxy Note 7? We're listening


Re: Lithium batteries are last century's technology

There are phones with large batteries available. Hardly anyone buys them. Thus, battery capacity stays low on most other models. What's the point making phone with big battery when everyone is fine with 8hour life?

Core-blimey! Intel's Core i9 18-core monster – the numbers


Software video encoding typically produces superior quality for a set bitrate, whereas GPU video encoding is quick and dirty.

Repairable-by-design Fairphone runs out of spare parts


2 year life

According to the article, FP1 was still sold in 2015. It is now 2017, and the device is unsupported. If someone had bought it on a 2 year contract from an operator in late 2015, it might've entered unsupported status before the customer had even paid it off! Not to mention statutory warranty periods..


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