Re: The Xenon-verse
You meant "odder than we thought".
16 posts • joined 29 Apr 2015
In the 1980s, I was writing software for Alpha Micro computers. These were inexpensive multi-user systems designed for small offices, with hard drives and multiple RS-232 ports. Because standard computer tape drives would have been prohibitively expensive, you could buy an adapter card that would allow you to use an ordinary consumer-grade VCR as backup storage.
These video recorders had a pretty high error rate: if you're watching a movie, you'll never notice a few dropped bits in a video frame. The software got around all the errors by massive redundancy. Each block was recorded 16 or 32 times. You could take a hole puncher and punch half a dozen holes in a backup tape, and it wouldn't care. If the tape broke, just trim it back an inch and use a splice kit. The missing data would be repeated later on the tape, so it didn't matter.
Even if you don't use computer translation, you can get in trouble. Consider the Welsh municipality that emailed their staff translator to find out how to say "No entry for heavy goods vehicles". The answer came back promptly — "Nid wyf yn y swyddfa ar hyn o bryd" — so that's what they painted on the new road sign.
Unfortunately, that Welsh phrase wasn't their translation; it was an automated response that means "I am not in the office at the moment".
There seems to be some confusion between key fobs (which attach to the key ring) and key transponders (which are built into the key).
Fobs transmit a signal to lock or unlock the doors. They certainly require a battery, which can go for years before it needs to be replaced.
Key transponders do not have a battery. They are powered by induction, and transmit a code while they are near (within a few cm) of the ignition lock. When away from the car, they have no power and don't transmit anything.
Nope, it was Solaris, which had been released a year or two before the the SPARCstation 5 came out. (And then some marketing genius decided that they didn't like the name SunOS, so they retroactively called SunOS 4.1 "Solaris 1" and Solaris "Solaris 2". Fortunately nobody paid attention to that idea).
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