* Posts by Steve Todd

2572 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

Apple takes another swing at Epic, says Unreal Engine could be a 'trojan horse' threatening security

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Premeditated Software Development?

The Unreal Engine is developed under a different account than Epic’s games. I don’t even think it is provided as signed binary to other developers. It isn’t in the store as an item that can be downloaded. The risk from a developer point of view is that it will become unsupported and increasingly stale (I.e.not tracking changes in iOS).

Who cares what Apple's about to announce? It owes us a macOS x86 virtual appliance for non-Mac computers

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Do what?

But the point about it being extortionate to get 28 cores stands, It’s a $9000 option on the Mac Pro. It’s a Workstation class CPU and is priced accordingly. Desktop is already inside the performance range of the A13. A Workstation class A series CPU will be along in due course.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Do what?

Who told you that you can buy a 28 Core Intel CPU? You might be able to find a Xeon with 28 cores, at an extortionate price, but no desktop equivalent. The best desktop Intel have to offer is the 10 core Core i9-10900, and the 11th gen models stop at 4 cores.

Intel Core i5 CPUs were outclassed by last years A13 (heck, the A13 with just 2+4 cores (2 big, 4 small) gave the 12 core Ryzen 7 3900X a run for its money). This years A14 is expected to be the first CPU on 5nm, and should be faster yet. Desktop power budgets also mean they can have more cores for the non-mobile versions.

That long-awaited, super-hyped Apple launch: Watches, iPads... and one more thing. Oh, actually that's it

Steve Todd Silver badge

If you ONLY want the time then may I suggest the Citizen Skyhawk AT rather than a mechanical watch. Charges it’s self via a built-in solar panel, checks against long wave atomic clock signals for accuracy (and can handle the switch to/from daylight savings time automatically because of that), needs little to no servicing and is cheaper than a good mechanical chronograph.

Having said that, i find myself using the Apple Watch most of the time because of all the extra things it can do that a normal watch can’t. Pay for items or mass transit. Tell me the weather forecast (am I going to get rained on). Control the music I’m listening to. Tell me who’s calling my phone (and even answer or make calls if needed) without having to fish the phone out of my pocket etc. It’s surprising just how much you end up using it.

Vinyl sales top CDs for the first time in decades in America, streaming rules

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: But surely ...

No, ripping to FLAC, then selling the original media is breach of copyright.

Either deleting the FLAC before selling or keeping/destroying the original means the artist is paid for the number of copies in circulation (you are buying a license to listen to your copy). Selling the original media transfers that licence, so the artist makes no extra money but has been paid for all copies in use.

Apple to Epic: Sue me? No, sue you, pal!

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Microsoft Has anyone else noticed...

Not according to Kantar

https://www.kantarworldpanel.com/global/smartphone-os-market-share/#

Roughly 45% at the moment according to them. Also Europe as a whole has a much lower iOS uptake than the UK (which seems to be an outlier). Germany is at about 25%, while Italy is at around 16%

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Microsoft Has anyone else noticed...

Not sure where you dredged that idea up from. Microsoft are constrained because they DO have a monopoly on desktop operating systems (around 90% of the market when I last looked).

Apple on the other hand have about a 20% market share for mobile phones. That's not a monopoly. The argument that they have a monopoly of Apple phones doesn't fly as that has been tried and found wanting in other product areas. Unless a company holds monopoly control of a market for a class of product (e.g. mobile phones), and use that position to prevent other competition from joining the market (looking at you Qualcomm) then there's no problem.

Microsoft held a monopoly in desktop operating systems, and tried to use it to prevent others from joining the market (DRDOS, Linux etc), which got them into trouble, and they've been careful ever since.

The Honor MagicBook Pro looks nice, runs like a dream, and isn't too expensive either. What more could you want?

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: "What more could you want?"

Erm, if you haven’t read the article then the review is of a Ryzen 4600U based machine with integrated VEGA graphics. Full AMD stack, not an Intel or nVidia part in sight.

You're stuck inside, gaming's getting you through, and you've $1,500 to burn. Check out Nvidia's latest GPUs

Steve Todd Silver badge

Given that there’s very little out there that makes use of all that RAM, and software houses are going to write code such that it fits on current mid to high end hardware, then ONLY 10GB isn’t going to be a problem.

The only reason the 2080 had 11GB is because it was a multiple of the memory bus width. The faster GDDR6 in this uses a narrower memory bus, but still gets more throughput because of the newer memory type.

Two out of four ain't bad: It's been a weekend of mixed emotions for rocket fanciers

Steve Todd Silver badge

Um, yes. Throwing away 9 rocket engines after only one use is kind of expensive. The Falcon 9 has been tweaked to require the minimum amount of refurb work as well as to land after launch.

The old space shuttle required a huge amount of work between launches and so much was replaced that it wasn’t a practical proposition. The F9 can be turned around in (from memory) 6 weeks and at a low enough cost that SpaceX offer a discount for using a previously flown model. It’s also cheap enough for SpaceX to loft 10 batches of Starlink satellites themselves (so far), while providing cheap ride shares to their partners at the same time.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a 56-year-old satellite burning up in the sky spotted by sharp school kids

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: "retired in 1971"

A quick check shows that the original launch was to an elliptical orbit with apogee of approximately 150,000km and a perigee of 280km. Not that easy to work the numbers out for time to decay.

Modern missions are expected to include a plan to either expend fuel to burn up, or move to a graveyard orbit out of the way when their useful life is over.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: "retired in 1971"

It depends on the original orbit. Satellites placed in geostationary orbit are going to be up there basically indefinitely. LEO sats placed around 300km are going to burn up in a couple of years without thrusters to keep them up. That number only gives you a clue as to the initial orbit.

What would you prefer: Satellite-streamed cat GIFs – or a decent early warning of an asteroid apocalypse?

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Poor Countries?

More expensive than mobile BB? Only if you think in terms of 1 or a couple of users for a base station. One base station coupled to a wifi Hotspot could provide for a whole village. Also there are large lumps of the US where even 3G isn’t available, how much have the US companies spent on rolling out their service so far?

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Asteroid hunting doesn’t use the same type of ‘scope

The cost of optics is exponentially proportional to their diameter. A space based mirror can be much smaller for the same effective light gathering capacity (no atmosphere to dim and distort the image). As someone pointed out earlier in the thread, the Hubble telescope is only 2.4M, but is still able to look further into space than the largest, most powerful land based devices.

Again, to spot asteroids the main requirement is to cover a lot of space, not maximum magnification. The latest ground based wide-field scope that I’m aware of has a budget of about $28M. It’s not a big step from there to a space based device.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Poor Countries?

Deploying fibre in rural areas is vastly expensive, and mobile data is still expensive while proving much less bandwidth. Even in the first world (rural USA for example) then sparsely populated areas have little or no (ground based) connectivity. There are large parts of the world where this kind of connectivity would be a godsend.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Asteroid hunting doesn’t use the same type of ‘scope

What they are after is a wide field observation and the comparison of images between different timed shots. Some of the Earth-based versions use standard camera lenses. The mirrors therefore don’t need to be huge, and given a cheap launch it doesn’t need to be vastly more expensive than a ground based model given that they can use smaller mirrors in space.

Microsoft sides with Epic over Apple developer ban, supports motion for temporary restraining order

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Cynical

By “Fairly Recent” you do realise that means from about 2012 to 2015 (depending on the model in question)? Between 5 and 8 years old isn’t recent in the Wintel space either.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Cynical

Erm, Apple’s XCode IDE is also free, and can create code for both the the Mac and iOS platforms. You can write and deploy code to Mac and your own/company iPhone/iPad devices for free. You pay $99/year for individual programmers or $299 for companies if you want to deploy via the App Store. Android is cheaper, but not free (a one-off $25) if you want to use the Play store.

This PDP-11/70 was due to predict an election outcome – but no one could predict it falling over

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: "People nowadays have no idea how sensitive electronics used to be."

4 or more layer circuit boards with dedicated ground and power layers also helps a lot.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: The elevator did it

I know someone who, for their B.Sc. project, took audio sample data and converted it to music notation, this on a BBC Model B. THAT took some skill on that hardware.

Apple hits back at Epic, says Fortnite crew wants a 'free ride' on fees: Let the app store death match commence

Steve Todd Silver badge

Debit cards are charged as a flat fee. Credit cards charge a percentage of the transaction. From the consumer point of view they aren’t the same though. Purchases by credit card become the CC companies liability if there’s a problem (if, for example, you book a holiday and pay via credit card then the company going bust or there being a similar problem, it becomes the credit card companies problem and they have to refund you), debit cards are like paying cash, and the problem is yours.

The example here was that Epic tried to sneak in a major change as a slipstream update. The idea that minor updates don’t need the same scrutiny is thus disproved.

The other point you seem to have missed is that it’s Apple’s platform, which they are entitled to make a profit from. Epic don’t charge for their games and make their money via in app purchases. If Epic take that in house then where’s Apple’s share comming from?

Steve Todd Silver badge
Stop

"You can buy Xbox and Playstation games from many different retailers as you can with Windows and also directfrom teh developers.Yes there are fees for Xbox and PS (games are often $/£10 more than PC."

Erm, you CAN'T publish a game for free for the Xbox or Playstation. You have to agree to Microsoft/ Sony's terms and conditions, pay for the SDKs and development tools, plus pay a royalty for each copy sold. AFTER you have done that then you have to give retailers their own cut to sell it for you. If you want to sell downloads only then you have to sell via the manufacturers own online store.

Steve Todd Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: A few pertinent questions....

They are actually making more money out of the deal. On the App Store they get charged $3 on a $10 purchase. If you buy direct then they charge you $8 for the same thing, so unless their transaction cost is more than $0.99 (unlikely, CC companies charge circa 2-3%) they get more in their pocket.

Meanwhile Apple also support purchases by gift card (so they need to give stores a cut), customer refunds (remember the scandal when kids were purchasing using their parents linked credit cards) and curation. It's not all gravy like Epic seem to claim.

We've heard some made-up stories but this is ridiculous: Microsoft Flight Simulator, Bing erect huge skyscraper out of bad data

Steve Todd Silver badge

I’ve managed to land a Rallye 110ST and turn off onto the taxiway In less than 50 feet, so yes it’s doable, but you need an aircraft designed for short field work.

Ex-Apple engineer lifts lid on Uncle Sam's top-secret plan to turn customized iPod into 'Geiger counter'

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Apple should launch this for the public.

Yes, the terrorists choice of champions is ANFO, Ammonia Nitrate (a common fertiliser) mixed with fuel oil, which incidentally was used by the US as the biggest non-nuclear bomb in history for a blast effect test (see https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/35418/this-was-the-largest-conventional-explosion-america-ever-set-off)

Huawei Matebook X Pro 2020: Nothing too crazy but at least it's more fixable and cheaper than comparable Apple wares

Steve Todd Silver badge

Wrong competition

4000 series Ryzen mobile CPUs give the 10th gen Intel mobiles a good run for their money in the productivity space (they are a smidgen slower in gaming, but these are not gaming machines), last longer on the same amount of power and are cheaper for a similar config. This Huawei really doesn’t seem to have any advantages over, say, a HP ProBook 445 which can be configured with discrete graphics, 16GB of RAM, 512GB NVMe SSD, Ryzen 7 4750U 8 core CPU and 14” full HD display (Ok, so this is 16:9 rather than 3:2) for $1099, which even gives you change for the $399 Thunderbolt dock with audio conferencing.

Steve Wozniak at 70: Here's to the bloke behind Apple who wasn't a complete... turtleneck

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: There’s a quote:

That was a heck of a sale, the original list on that lot was north of $4500.

Actually I started with BASIC on a UNIVAC 1110, then MS BASiC on a PET, 6502 Assembler, moved over to Z80 systems, learned Pascal under CPM, added FORTRAN 77 on Boroughs machines, since when I’ve made my way through a stack of languages and currently make a living from C#, SQL and a handful of supporting languages. I’ve no problem with whatever route people came to the field via, I just object to them talking a particular system down without understanding how it compared in context (some machines failed because they sucked compared to the competition. Some succeeded even though they sucked because of software support on them. Some failed even though they were good compared to the competition because the software support was poor).

The Apple II was early to the game, had good software and hardware support, and was competitively priced. For those reasons it deserves some respect.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: There’s a quote:

The H11 had the same 64K memory limit, and at the time 64K was prohibitively expensive. The machines of the day were restricted in their capabilities mainly by what you could afford (and this tended to lead to some very creative programming to get around).

Sure, the IBM (and clones) broke that limit, but it wasn’t around at the time so whatever companies had available to them was necessarily limited.

It wasn’t until the late 80’s that network hardware and hard disks became at all affordable and running an office around PCs became reasonably practical.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Apple

When they were released they were under warranty, so were repaired or replaced if faulty. Many other machines of the period had a high failure rate (a friend at the time went through 11 Sinclair Spectrum machines under warranty). Your point was?

Steve Todd Silver badge
Stop

Re: There’s a quote:

The H11 was $1295 for a kit comprising of just the CPU and 4K of RAM. You needed an external terminal and an IO card on top of that as a minimum to make it do anything.

The Apple II was the same price, but all you needed to make it work was a TV and a cassette player. For that reason it sold very well to hobbyists. Following the creation of VisiCalc on the II it’s sales to companies skyrocketed.

The H11 may have had an existing library of software (PDP11 code, on paper tape), but it was much more expensive and took more time and effort to get it to the point it could do useful work, and it didn’t support memory mapped video so was incapable of many of the things that the Apple II became famous for even though it had a more powerful CPU.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Apple

Pretty much ANY machine of the period needed to be recapped. The original Mac didn’t sell as well as Apple had hoped, but the Mac line continued to build momentum and the company did rather well from it (until management stuffed things up for them, like the ill fated move into licensing clones.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Apple

Also Apple put a LOT of work into developing the GUI into something usable (things like partially obscured windows redrawing themselves, standards for app design etc). The Apple manuals of the time were pretty much the bible For developers on how to design and build GUI systems.

Steve Todd Silver badge
Stop

There’s a quote:

An engineer is a person who can build for $1 what any damned fool can build for $5.

The genius of Woz is his ability to make something with the minimum number of parts and effort. There were others of the time who were hacking together machines, but Woz worked out how to give the public more for less.

Examples were generating NTSC colour video via deliberate artefacts in a mono picture, using the video system to generate refresh signals to DRAM and designing a floppy disk controller with 1/10th of the chips of then current designs (and that was just for the Apple II).

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: One Hundred Times, Thank You, Woz!

Youngsters these days!

10 FOR X = 1 TO 100

20 PRINT “Thank You, Woz!"

30 NEXT X

Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced techie is indistinguishable from magic

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: even before PFY

Ah, the days before a machine needed an active fan even for idling.

Intel were worried about cooling a CPU that drew 15W at full chat. These days a desktop PC will draw anything between about 65W and 135W and will pretty much fall over instantly if the heat sink is dislodged (stopped fans will take them a little longer).

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: a GUI in the office was a dim and distant dream.

I was running Ventura Publisher under Windows 2/386 GUI in 1988 (PS/2 Model 80, with a whole 6MB of RAM)

Just like when you 'game over' two seconds into a new level... Facebook launches Gaming app without games on iOS

Steve Todd Silver badge

Given that

Android outsells iOS in the mobile phone space by around 4:1 then its hard to make a case that Apple have a monopoly in other than iOS systems.

What got MS into trouble was that they had a monopoly in PC operating systems (roughly 90% of the market), and they tried to leverage that to force themselves into other markets (like browsers for example, with the much reviled Internet Explorer versions upto (from memory) 6).

Given that one of their USPs is that they do curate the App Store then it’s not wildly unreasonable that they do wield control over it and enforce restrictions on what may or may not be published.

China re-shapes its silicon industry to boost production

Steve Todd Silver badge

Smaller die sizes?

More likely smaller feature sizes. They want to get more transistors on a given sized chip, not make smaller chips.

Wrap it before you tap it? No, say Linux developers: 'GPL condom' for Nvidia driver is laughed out of the kernel

Steve Todd Silver badge

Many moons ago

the Polytechnic which owned the Univac 1110 that my 6th form had time shared access to was struggling with performance, so they bought an upgrade. The engineer turned up expecting to move some jumpers, thus enabling the extra capacity, only to find that someone had already done it. No more performance available.

IIRC they ended up replacing it with a cluster of Prime mini computers.

Amazon gets green-light to blow $10bn on 3,000+ internet satellites. All so Americans can shop more on Amazon

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Global Internet

The ISP in use has nothing to do with complying with EU rules. The fact that Amazon/Facebook/Google etc do business in the EU is what gives the EU courts power over them.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Kessler effect

Most LEO stuff has station keeping thrusters to stop them falling out of orbit due to natural decay (and incidentally give them a certain amount of manoeuvrability to avoid collisions). SpaceX plans to save some fuel/reaction mass to de-orbit their birds at end of life - hopefully Amazon have similar plans.

Steve Todd Silver badge
Stop

Re: Kessler effect

GPS birds are in a much higher orbit, so are unlikely to be effected.

Internet mostly runs over optical cables, only occasionally over satellite at the moment (the current active birds are geostationary (so at much lower risk anyway), but this causes high latency, so isn’t popular when cabled connection is possible.

TV and Telephone are mostly run over cable or terrestrial radio (although mobile phone base stations tend to use GPS for time synchronisation, so if GPS were effected then they would need modification).

These birds are all in LEO, so should fall from orbit in around 5-10 years.

Any other myths you’d like me to dispel?

Intel couldn't shrink to 7nm on time – but it was able to reduce one thing: Its chief engineer's employment

Steve Todd Silver badge
FAIL

Re: For now, it doesn't matter yet

Really? Here's a link to a picture and specs of the nVidia V100 card designed for the data centre, could you point out the (minimum of) two video ports please?

https://www.techpowerup.com/gpu-specs/tesla-v100-sxm2-32-gb.c3185

Steve Todd Silver badge
FAIL

Re: For now, it doesn't matter yet

The server targeted parts indeed lack video ports as they are intended for data center racks and will never see a monitor. What they are being used for is as a massively parallel vector co-processor, not as graphics engines like the consumer parts.

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: For now, it doesn't matter yet

Here’s the problem for Intel:

They don’t even come top of the table for SPEC performance. (that honour goes to a Fujitsu SPARC machine tested back in 2017, see https://www.spec.org/cpu2017/results/res2017q4/cpu2017-20171211-01435.html )

AMD are currently making CPUs that in 2 socket configuration need an 8 socket Xeon machine to beat them (see https://www.spec.org/cpu2017/results/res2020q2/cpu2017-20200525-22554.html ).

The Intel boxes are vastly more expensive to buy and to run (all those sockets need lots of power).

There is a limited market for “absolutely the fastest machine you can buy”, mostly companies want the best performance they can afford within their budget, or target a given performance level and then see how cheap they can buy it. Intel have a certain amount of inertia that they can rely on here, as it takes companies a while to test and qualify new hardware, but they are starting to come under fire as the AMD alternatives are looking increasingly attractive. They need to be cheaper and consume less power to compete, but to do so needs a smaller, more advanced process than 14nm, which they haven’t really got (even 10nm isn’t ready for server grade chips yet).

Nvidia may be mulling lopping Arm off Softbank: GPU goliath said to have shown interest in acquiring CPU design house

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Shame you have no grasp of the physics involved

Slight brain fart, that should be GaAs, not GeAs, otherwise all stands as is.

Steve Todd Silver badge
FAIL

Shame you have no grasp of the physics involved

A GeAs chip would have CMOS pairs 3-4 times larger at the same minimum feature size than the equivalent Si chip (because GeAs is not good for hole mobility the PMOS side needs to be 9 times larger than the NMOS, as opposed to 2:1 for Si). Even if the process technology were able to handle GeAs on the same scale as Si, the resulting chips would not have the space for the complex circuits of a modern CPU, and would lack much of the optimisations because of that.

Even if they could reach 60GHz, they would be nowhere near 10 times the speed of current designs, and certainly they wouldn’t be 128 bits wide.

€13bn wings its way back to Apple after Euro court rules Irish tax deal wasn't 'state aid'

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Good

So they are entitled then. It’s only by agreement of the governed over how much.

The problem here is that Ireland is part of a bigger union (just like the US states are part of a union), and they also have to follow EU rules when deciding tax numbers (there is, for example, a minimum rate of VAT that may be charged, and once levied on a good or service it may not be removed).

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Good

I think you’ll find that most governments have decided that they are entitled to a percentage of any money you make, private or not. The only question here is whether or not Ireland was following the rules over how much they decided that Apple owed them.

A volt from the blue: Samsung reportedly ditches wall-wart from future phones

Steve Todd Silver badge

Re: Transformer

Yes, Switch Mode PSUs have a small, high frequency transformer in them. Because the source AC voltage is first rectified to DC, then converted to a high frequency square wave, the transformer can be much smaller than the usual 50/60Hz mains transformers of linear PSUs, and you don’t get as much loss from the primary side (mostly due to core eddy currents and resistance of the many turns of wire needed for a 50/60Hz model). Because there is feedback from the output stage to the chopper circuit (that produces the square waves) there is little to no input to this transformer when there is no load on the output.

No, I don’t understand why people are downvoting you either. It seems they don’t understand the (common) technology, but aren’t prepared to put their mouth where their voting finger is by explaining why they think you are wrong.

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