* Posts by Simon Harris

2694 posts • joined 1 Mar 2007

0ops. 1,OOO-plus parking fine refunds ordered after drivers typed 'O' instead of '0'

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: And this ladies and gentlemen...

although there is in ‘registration plate’

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: And this ladies and gentlemen...

Are Braille bumper stickers available?

“If you can feel this, you’re driving too close”

'Work is an activity not a place' got tired on LinkedIn about three months ago, but Citrix just based its new logo on the idea

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A dot over the X?

That sounds a bit derivative.

Tesco self-service separates innocent Reg reader from beer after collapsing into heap of Windows dialog boxes

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Pint

Re: Self service check outs

And why did the one in Sainsbury’s insist on me waiting for a grown-up to appear and give me the once-over when I was buying zero-alcohol beer* ?

* not for me, I really was ‘buying for a friend’.

I AM ERROR: Tired of chewing up your RAM? Razer tells gamers where to stick its special gum for the RGB crowd

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When I saw gum and RAM in the headline...

I thought it was going to be about Sinclair RAM Packs.

ZX Spectrum reboot promising – steady now – 28MHz of sizzling Speccy speed now boasts improved Wi-Fi

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An exercise in ‘what if?’

I think the beauty of things like this and some of the high performance 6502 upgrades I’ve seen in an Acorn Facebook group is that they answer the ‘what if?’ question.

Back in the early 80s when consumer home computers were maxing out at a 4MHz Z80 or a 2MHz 6502, RAM was 32-48K and you had a floppy drive if you were a rich kid, I would think everybody at some point asked ‘what if my computer could run 10x faster, had loads of RAM, had instant program loading?’

With a Z80 core in a gate array running at 28MHz or higher, or a 14MHz WDC 65C02, and memory that costs pennies per MB, to my mind being able to build physical hardware gives a more tangible answer to ‘what if?’ than a virtual machine in an emulator.

Nothing against software emulators - they’re fun too, but I grew up in a time when a soldering iron was an acceptable PC accessory.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: i've chipped in

"If an FPGA is defined as emulation, then the original spectrum was one too as it had a ULA at its heart (and the +2, +3 various different gate arrays). The only difference is the modern chips are programmable."

It seems to be much in the spirit that the Western Design Center can either sell you a physical 65C02 CPU in a 40-pin dip or other package style, or a Verilog model of the 65C02 core that you can incorporate into your own design. While the FPGA version is not physically the original chip, it's still running equivalent logic directly.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: These retro computers are fun - and that's the point

“The C64 and the Next”

I read that as “The C64 and the NeXT”

If you could flash the FPGA to emulate a NeXT, I’d be impressed - I might even put a primitive web server on it!

Apple's at it again: Things go pear-shaped for meal planner app after iGiant opposes logo

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Coat

Recipe sharing

Does the app let you share recipes over a Pear-to-Pear network?

Mine’s the greengrocer’s white coat —->

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Headmaster

Re: Apple at odds with reality

But PreAcorn doesn't have the same puntastic appeal as PrePear.

El Reg - shouldn't you be suing them for muscling in on your pun racket?

Simon Harris Silver badge
Joke

Re: Assholes...

UK readers who are old enough may remember Boots the Chemist once had a kitchenware department branded Cookshop. I think they disappeared sometime in the 90s, but obviously a time-travelling trademark infringing play on Apple Store.

Simon Harris Silver badge

I stopped reading at 'I'm using a dildo'

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Apple at odds with reality

'right angled leaf'

Apple's case should therefore be thrown out immediately as their leaf is at an angle of 45 degrees to the fruit's axis.

Cornish drinkers catch a different kind of buzz as pub installs electric fence at bar

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Re: Puntastic

Excellent battery of puns in this news coulomb.

Apple: Don't close MacBooks with a webcam cover on, you might damage the display

Simon Harris Silver badge

Vinyl overlays.

I've seen various people selling vinyl overlays for MacBook keyboards and touchpads - some just to make it look pretty, some with the keyboard commands for things like Photoshop.

That's got to bugger up the 0.1mm tolerance!

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: 0.1mm

"Bet your Land Rover Defender doesn't break if someone puts 0.2mm of plastic over a random point on the dash."

Maybe if that random point on the dash happens to be over the oil indicator light :)

Campaign groups warn GCHQ can re-identify UK's phones from COVID-19 contact-tracing app data

Simon Harris Silver badge
Joke

Re: Thank you

Judging by the contents of my workshop, I should get a job with GCHQ.

It's full of crap I should have thrown away years ago, but 'might come in handy' one day.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Thank you

As I suggested elsewhere it probably can’t tell either if you are within 2m of a virus carrier, but safely separated by a wall.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Numpties!

Is NHSX the new format of the NHS?

NHSX is to NHS as DOCX is to DOC.

Windows Terminal hits the big 1.0: Fit for production?

Simon Harris Silver badge

When I saw the name Windows Terminal, I was sure it was going to be an updated version of HyperTerminal that came with Windows 98.

Doors closed by COVID-19, Brit retro tech museums need your help

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Devil

If a passerby can get to Wordpad or Notepad they might be able to knock out a bit of HTML and JavaScript to replicate their 1980s shenanigans.

ALGOL 60 at 60: The greatest computer language you've never used and grandaddy of the programming family tree

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: .. never used .. ?

When I was studying Electronic Engineering in the early 1980s, ALGOL was the first language we were formally taught - I remember the ALGOL-68R language guide was a Ministry of Defence book.

The Rise of The (Coffee) Machines: I need assistance. I think I'm running Windows. Send help

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: First person

I've even seen bus destination blinds that say 'I am out of service'

Giving a bus self awareness seems like a step too far.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Not quite Windows

I remember back in the 1970s when memory was tight Tiny BASIC had just three error messages:

What? for syntax errors.

How? for run time errors.

Sorry for out of memory errors.

Simon Harris Silver badge
Alert

Re: Not quite Windows

Certainly more informative that the errors that some software I've used throws up.

A dialogue box that contains just two items - the icon over there ---> and an OK button. Err- what exactly am I OKing there?

UK finds itself almost alone with centralized virus contact-tracing app that probably won't work well, asks for your location, may be illegal

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: False sense of security?

UK government figures for infections are just shy of 200,000. Multiply that by 10 and 2 million is only about 3% of the population. Just a little bit short of 55%

Simon Harris Silver badge

Mine's so old and knackered, the only contacts the app would find would be those within reach of a charger.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: It is your duty ^D^D^D^D obligation to install the app

"Not green on the app? Sorry, no public transport"

Or the simpler solution - just keep people in lock down for so long that they've forgotten where they've put their season tickets and work passes.

Simon Harris Silver badge

False sense of security?

Ignoring aspects of personal data security for now...

German science is suggesting that coronavirus infections may be 10 times higher than official figures (presumably based on those tested)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/german-covid-19-cases-may-be-10-times-higher-than-official-figures

If this is true and is also reflected in the UK population (may well be a higher ratio as Germany has a higher number of tests) then while the app may tell you if you've been near someone who's tested positive, it may well miss many more contacts with people who are positive, but haven't been tested (and if they are non- or mildly-symptomatic may never be tested) - surely this will give a false sense of security to the population as the false negatives in contact detection may overwhelm the true positives.

Or maybe I'm missing the point and the app and a false sense of security are really designed to extend the hypothetical 'herd immunity' rather than to isolate those infected.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: It will be voluntary, but not really.

This scenario of not having the app on your phone strikes me as triggering the same police overreach as 10 years ago or so when, although photography in a public place is completely legal (UK, anyway), they'd start being obstructive and threatening if you so much as got your camera out because "terrorism".

Simon Harris Silver badge

Can tell when you're within 6' of an infected person? Skeptical.

Both types use Bluetooth to detect other nearby phones also running the software. Thus, when someone catches the coronavirus, people can be warned if their phone was within 6ft of that patient's phone for more than a few minutes.

I'm somewhat skeptical of this, considering how our neighbours sometimes used to feed their music through our Bluetooth enabled TV soundbar (until I took it out of service!). Sure you can get an idea of distance from signal strength, but that's not going to be particularly accurate - depending on chipset, obstructions, reflections, antenna orientation, etc. Could a Bluetooth type system suggest that I might be infected simply because it's picking up my neighbour's phone from next door, even though we never get within several metres of each other outside (only an example - hopefully my neighbours are actually fit and healthy)?

From the Bluetooth consortium's own recommendations:

RSSI is Different for Different Radio Circuits

You may notice the variation of the RSSI value even on a fixed location or distance. One factor for the variation could be the hardware/radio platforms. For instance, on iOS devices where there aren’t many different chipsets, the RSSI value could accurately reflect the relationship to the distance. The RSSI value from iPhone A probably means the same strength value on an iPhone B. However, on Android devices where we have a large variation of devices and chipsets, the absolute value of RSSI won’t help you easily map to a location. The same RSSI value on two different Android phones with two different chipsets may mean two different signal strengths. However, the RSSI value could still be very helpful in the proximity applications if you use it to get the trend of the RSSI value change. That trend could give you meaningful data.

How Can I Use RSSI in a Proximity Aapplication?

Avoid using the absolute value of the RSSI—use the trend instead

Based on the fluctuation of radio signals, we can get a fairly accurate result of the RSSI trending. We can easily know if the signal is getting stronger or weaker, therefore, we will know if we are moving towards or away from the source. Even better, if we understand the specific mapping between the RSSI and the location of the specific receiving device, we could have a fairly accurate estimate of the distance.

https://www.bluetooth.com/blog/proximity-and-rssi/

Sure, you could use Bluetooth to tell if you moving towards or away from an infected person's phone, but I doubt that it would accurately tell you that you're 2 metres away.

Prank warning: You do know your smart speaker's paired with Spotify over the internet, don't you?

Simon Harris Silver badge
Devil

Rickrolling...

'Spotify, play "Never gonna give you up" on my mate's smart speakers!'

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: FFS.

A while ago SWMBO got a sound-bar for the TV with wired, optical and Bluetooth inputs.

We went for the wired input, but from time to time we'd get blasts of Bulgarian music through it - it seems if it detects a Bluetooth connection it will automatically switch to that, and the neighbours would occasionally accidentally connect to it - it's one of those devices with a preset pairing code that really doesn't care what it connects to.

The sound bar is now relegated to a box somewhere and TV sound is piped through the purely analogue hifi amp.

RetroPie 4.6 brings forth an answer to 'What do I do with this Pi 4 I bought last year?'

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Jupiter Ace?

I can understand them using a Z80A as the basis for the Ace as the designers had previous worked on various Sinclair ZX development and I believe the external expansion was designed to be Sinclair compatible, but I would have loved to see a 6809 based 8-bit Forth machine - the dual stacks (system and user) would have made it a natural choice for implementing the language.

Happy birthday, ARM1. It is 35 years since Britain's Acorn RISC Machine chip sipped power for the first time

Simon Harris Silver badge

Wilson had created a simulation of the 32-bit mpu's instruction set in 808 lines of BBC BASIC

It was very forward thinking of Acorn to make their BASIC integers 32-bit right from the start (even before BBC-BASIC), rather than the 16-bit integers most other 8-bit BASICs used are the time. Just that feature must have helped facilitate simulating a 32-bit CPU in such a relatively small number of program lines.

A new El-Reg unit?

Simon Harris Silver badge
Boffin

A new El-Reg unit?

I just noticed this in today's Guardian Coronavirus/Politics blog:

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2020/apr/27/uk-coronavirus-live-news-boris-johnson-back-at-work-amid-talk-of-easing-lockdown

A foul clump of wet wipes and other unflushable items as heavy as a rottweiler has been dragged from a Thames Water sewer, as the number of blockages the company has to deal with has increased by 8% during lockdown.

The grim 40kg bundle had snarled up a temporary pipe in Maidenhead, Berkshire, where Thames Water, the UK’s largest water and wastewater company, has been repairing a collapsed sewer.

Should the Rottweiler be included in the official list of El-Reg weights and measures? - 1 Rottweiler = 40kg of foul stuff apparently.

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Light-powered nanocardboard robots dancing in the Martian sky searching for alien life

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Coat

Biochemical Analyser

If they were to look for Life On Mars by scanning samples for DNA fragments, it could be called the Gene Hunt.

I'd get my coat, but it's been in the closet for the last month ------>

We lost another good one: Mathematician John Conway loses Game of Life, taken by coronavirus at 82

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Two's company, infinity plus one is a crowd

That playlist definitely deserves an upvote.

Simon Harris Silver badge

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Boeing 787s must be turned off and on every 51 days to prevent 'misleading data' being shown to pilots

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Millisecond roll-over?

The ratio difference between 49.7 and 51 days is suspiciously close to 1.024 though.

One for the super rich fanbois: Ultra-rare functional Apple-1 computer goes on auction

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: How do they know it's real?

It is perfectly possible to build a replica that will fool a so-called "expert" using off the shelf components.

Could not the so called expert could commission The Woz to give an assessment on its authenticity? Would there be a better authority on such matters?

FYI: When Virgin Media said it leaked 'limited contact info', it meant p0rno filter requests, IP addresses, IMEIs as well as names, addresses and more

Simon Harris Silver badge

"records of whichever site they were visiting before arriving at the Virgin Media website"

The only times I ever visit the Virgin Media site are from a non-Virgin device to find out why my Virgin cable has gone down again.

It's only a game: Lara Croft won't save enterprise tech – but Jet Set Willy could

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Re: Arent' FPGAs only re-programmable a finite number of times?

"and Defender a 6809."

I always though Defender was two 6809s, but according to Wikipedia, it's a 6809 as the main processor, and a 6800 to do the sound effects.

Simon Harris Silver badge
Pint

FPGAs are cheating for legacy hardware...

making it out of individual transistors is the proper way to do things!

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/05/18/chaps_make_6502_by_hand/

Simon Harris Silver badge
Facepalm

Re: Striplights in a meeting have never dissolved a hangover for me

My problem is that a day of quiet hungover coding is then followed by two days of noisy expletive laden debugging.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: ZX Spectrum != Legacy corporate IT

"I'm.pretty sure Intel have developed CPUs with FPGA components on die for specific compute too."

The Intel Agilex SoC FPGA range have Quad-core 64 bit Arm Cortex-A53 CPUs on board - not sure if that's a case of a CPU with an FPGA on board, or an FPGA with a CPU on board.

Simon Harris Silver badge

Re: Arent' FPGAs only re-programmable a finite number of times?

For devices where the logic configuration is stored in non-volatile memory that is the case (at the extreme there are one-time-programmable devices), but for those using static RAM to store the configuration there is no reprogramming limit.

e.g.

https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/programmable/support/support-resources/knowledge-base/solutions/rd07022001_8599.html

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now: Brexit tea towel says it'll just be the gigabit broadband

Simon Harris Silver badge
Coat

The Internet of Hedgerows

It will be protected by Privet Key Encryption.

Mine's the one with the garden shears in the pocket --->

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