* Posts by Myself

36 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Mar 2007

Happy birthday, Linux: From a bedroom project to billions of devices in 30 years


Re: Things have changed

> Slashdot still exists? Who knew‽

Slashdot is why I'm here right now! I have my Slashdot homepage configured to show the recent Reg headlines in the sidebar, along with a few other addins.

It's not what it once was, but it's still Slashdot.

Stealthy Linux backdoor malware spotted after three years of minding your business


The lack of detection is the scandal here.

So what happens to files submitted to VT, then? I thought they were made available for AV researchers to study.

This had been submitted several times over the years. Did nobody find it suspicious? Or, were they told to keep it off their detection lists?

Linux 5.11 dominated by descriptors for new AMD silicon


Xen or Zen?

Looks like a typo on the CPU side, although the hypervisor is right.

A little bit of TLC: How IBM squeezes 16,000 write-erase cycles from QLC flash


The very last line in the article, about the cost of characterizing the devices, seems wrong. I thought the point of the invention was that the controller does the characterization autonomously, early on in the device's service life. So it's not taking up time during manufacturing, and thus not incurring cost in the usual sense. Did I misunderstand?

Flying priests crop-dust Russian citizens with holy water to make them stop boozing and bonking


Turns out this practice has been widespread in other parts of the world for years! You perform the prayer service and sprinkle the stuff into the clouds as they form, so the precipitation all contains a titration of holy water. And it eradicates vampires wholesale.

That's why all the vampire stories are from eastern Europe -- somebody already blessed the rains down in Africa!

Wake me up before you Gogo ... so I can jump out: Kenyan MP takes on aeroplane flatulence


And here I thought Gogo Inflight was just concerned with the wifi!

Possibly the best name for an MP who takes an interest in things happening in the air...

Non-volatile MRAM coming to servers in early 2017


Black boxes, video recorders, and the like, need this badly.

32 megabytes is several seconds of video at reasonable resolution. Something with this modest capacity, but non-volatile with virtually-infinite write endurance, would be perfect as a circular buffer for event-recorder data.

Smack a trigger button to save-off the recent clip to bulk flash storage, sure. Post the funny stuff on your blog later. But if a literal crash happens and the system just stops mid-frame, the last little bit in the MRAM buffer would tell investigators what happened.

I'll buy a dashboard camera with this, if it ever comes out!

Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet goes on sale


Anyone remember the IBM 2125, the original ThinkPad?

1992 called, they want their concept, and their name, back.

Asus lights up 1TB SSD Lamborghini laptop


TB or TiB? More storage space!

When you said "more storage space than the real thing", I thought you were referring to the fact that flash memory is measured in TiB and rotating disks in TsuckB, and therefore the SSD is more capacious than a "1TB" drive.

Vendor punts laptop-as-server behemoth


What, no PCIe slots?

Laaame. My ten-year-old Fieldworks had comparable specs for its day, plus three ISA and three PCI slots. And yes, the "integral UPS" (FW's euphemism for the battery) was specced to maintain the thing for a ten-minute shuffle between outlets.

G.hn-ing for gigabit


I understand how people get confused by this stuff.

I consider myself pretty damn technical, but my eyes glazed over at this article. Gave me a new appreciation for gobbledygook and inconsequential details!

DisplayPort revision to get mini connector, stereo 3D

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Enough freakin' connectors, guys?

So, for about 15 years, all anybody used was VGA on a 15-pin DE-size connector. The oddballs were too marginal to worry about. (Sun's DB13W3 thing, Apple and their DA-15, etc).

Then along comes DVI and all hell breaks loose. Inside of a decade, we've got DVI in three variants that don't always plug into each other, mini DVI, micro DVI, HDMI, mini HDMI, micro HDMI, DisplayPort, micro DisplayPort, and most of those little connectors look so similar you can't describe them to someone over the phone.

I used to carry a $5 DA-15-to-VGA adapter, to help out the mactards who'd come ill-prepared to conferences and be unable to plug into the projector. Today, carrrying a full set of adapters would set me back more than a week's pay. Bite me, Apple. Your users are on their own!

Digicam gift card launched


Taking pictures in the store...

Last time I took a picture inside my local Target store (with my Polaroid, to prove a pricing mistake to the manager), I was thrown out and told never to return. How things change!

(Epilogue: The rabid manager responsible has since been sacked, and I'm a regular customer at the store again.)

Tomy, Zink launch camera with built-in printer

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Been there, done that...

Polaroid had a long, good run. There've already been digital cameras that would let you snap a pic and then, at your leisure, commit it to emulsion via the integrated Polaroid photo printer. Thus:


Zink's "inkless printing" is just Polaroid film all over again, except with heat instead of light to set the image. And with a much smaller market, so you can bet it'll be more expensive, and discontinued sooner.

Intempo Rebel DJ and ad-zapping FM radio


RDS for track names?

Of course, some stations encode useless junk into their RDS streams, but others are pretty good about naming the track currently playing. It baffles me that this gizmo doesn't tap that data stream to tag the tracks it records.

I, too, would like a "remove the top 40 and save #41-200" option.

Camera gets camcorder, MP3 player features and more


Been done at least six years ago.

Six or seven years ago, I bought a Samsung cheapie digicam (the "Digimax 35") with mp3 player functionality. It sucked, and the proprietary headphone jack was infuriating, but the concept was there. Nothing new here.

I've been using my Canon Powershot S2's audio recording feature, which is stereo no less, quite a bit lately. Again, nothing new. Heck, with CHDK firmware it gains text file reading functionality, too. Will the CHDK folks add mp3? I'd laugh... but I wouldn't be surprised.

Disintegrating wind turbine caught on camera


@Tim, Niall, some basic wind facts

Tim Spence: The energy in the wind scales as the cube of the wind speed, so you wouldn't just need to go from 1 generator to 2 to 3, but from 1 to 4 to 9 and so on. The hub and gearbox to handle 9 generators worth of torque would be so bulky and have so much resistance that at normal (1 generator) wind speed, they'd eat your efficiency. Wind machines are designed for a specific range of speeds. Below that, there's not enough energy in the wind for them to bother with, and above that, there's so much it's nearly impossible to capture.

Niall: Vertical axis wind turbines have a tougher time than horizontal-axis machines, for one simple reason: On each revolution, every blade goes from facing into the wind, to facing against it, to facing away from it, to facing against it, and back into it again. This creates oscillating stresses on each blade, which are much harder to withstand than the constant stress experienced by the blades of a horizontal-axis turbine.

And yes, the force of gravity does technically oscillate, relative to the blades of a horizontal axis turbine, but gravity is minor compared to the other forces at play in such a machine. Proponents of vertical-axis machines seem convinced that a giant conspiracy, not the laws of physics, is to blame for the thousand-year dominance of horizontal-axis turbines.

Venturi Mini in-car FM music streamer


So, the RDS then...

Does AVRCP or A2DP provide the name of the content being played, and does the gizmo then forward that over RDS to the head unit? Or did they use an RDS-capable transmitter solely so they could say "Hello Venturi"?

Philips AAA battery handset

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About damn time!

I've been working on a AA-battery module for my old Motorola for months! The batteries fit in the space under the extended-battery caseback, but their 2.4v output doesn't meet with the phone's 3.6v expectation, so I'm trying to build a small boost converter. Except I'm not very good at it, nor am I very diligent.

Ham radios have come with AA-battery auxiliary cases for years, because we all know you don't always have a charger handy. It's almost criminally stupid that cellphones, which the majority of the population now rely on for emergency calls while traveling, don't offer a similar option. Well, I guess they do now!

Asian vendors tout tiny Bluetooth adaptor at Eee PC


Not as snag-proof as the Mogo Dapter

Check out the Newton Peripherals Mogo Dapter, which sports a similar size but smoother shape. I'm a bigger fan of that than their more famous products, which are mice that store in (and charge from) your PCMCIA or ExpressCard slot.

Bed maker constructs cot for gadget lovers

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Could be much cooler.

Now, if this thing had some over-the-bed suspension like an Office Organix workstation, I'd be impressed. Hell, even an Easy Desk Aluminum would be an improvement. But a bed with speakers at the corners and a server buried inside? Weak.

Netgear extends next-gen Wi-Fi into 5GHz band

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802.11a compatible?

No mention of whether it works with, or stomps on, or is bothered by, existing 5GHz gear. C'mon, guys!

Mio intros 'true' 3D GPS


So make 'em translucent or something.

It's definitely nice to be able to navigate by landmark, but if only notable buildings are included, it's still nearly useless. I need the corner stores, the big trees, the details that actually go by as I drive around. Someone with a big Street View mapping project would be in good shape to start on such a feature...

'Heavy' handset challenges all comers to prove its mettle


for Dave B: Submersibles and more...

Head on over to PenComputing.com to find all sorts of fun rugged hardware. A few months back they did a review of a waterproof PDA, by donning SCUBA gear and taking it for a dive. The video is hilarious. Rugged phones are nothing new.

US FCC gets to play with PS3's DualShock 3 controller


"In addition to" operating in 2.4GHz?

Pray tell, El Reg, what band does *your* Bluetooth operate in?

Sat Navs


Buy or rent, for a 2-week visit?

I'm an American and my parents are visiting the UK in a few weeks. I'm greatly enamored of DeLorme Street Atlas USA, but as the name suggests, the maps are country-specific. I don't know whether to buy them a unit before they go (so they can practice with it on familiar ground), or just suggest that they rent a car with a satnav unit included.

I'm looking to you, Reg readers, for advice. I know most of these units are available with US maps too, so should I look for a UK unit that I can add US maps to for training (and for use at home after the trip), or a US unit that I can add UK maps to for visiting? Do the menus and dialogs use dialect-specific terms that might confuse already-flustered fiftysomething travelers? Are there other options? Or is the rental car company just the most sensible choice?

Slotload DVD drives and half-size discs


You should keep an adapter on hand.

I don't even own a slotloading drive, but I picked up an adapter when the store had it on clearance because I'm one of those "prepared packrat" types. It was something like $3. The term seems to be "CD single adapter".

Samsung shows SIM-squared mobile


It's about time. Nextel botched this.

When I first got a Nextel from work many years back, I was excited that it was "two-line capable", and eagerly called customer service to see about putting a personal account on the same phone, so I could keep work and personal calls separate, and have my own data plan.

No can do, they said. The two lines have to be on the same account.

What the hell would the point of that be? Lame. It's nice to see someone finally, finally tackling the bat-belt syndrome.

Surge protection for Powerline Ethernet products?


Just avoid those with noise filters.

The Tripp-Lite Isobar series, for instance, feature inductive chokes and capacitors that clamp down on noise traveling the powerline, which is precisely what your adapter relies on.

The cheapest of plugstrips should work fine. Those with MOVs for surge protection should work fine. Those with MOVs, inductors, and filter caps will definitely eat the signal.

Belkin, SanDisk launch charity kit


The larger donation is to the CEO's pockets...

So we're supposed to pay $10 above street price so $4 can go to charity? Just give separately, folks!

Denon cues up USB DJ kit


Heat output, what?

Why would it get any hotter than a keyboard or a mouse? It's an I/O device, no motors, no incandescent lamps, not even a big watt-sucking processor. If it powers itself from USB, that limits it to 2.5 watts, which wouldn't heat a device of this size up enough to notice.

Logitech plugs in 'world's smallest' cordless mouse dongle


but Bluetooth is built in...

I'd hoped the proprietary RF mouse standards would die after the introduction of Bluetooth, but I guess we're not so lucky. Why have yet another dongle sticking out of the machine, when Bluetooth is usually built in, and if not, it costs less than lunch to add it?

The only possible advantage that a proprietary RF dongle could have is security, because a flaw in a bluetooth stack has more potential to do nasty stuff to the OS. That's not to say that the proprietary USB dongles aren't exploitable, just that they're a low-profile target and enjoy the obscurity that comes with that.

Belkin unveils Wireless USB hub


Been there, done that. Why's this superior?

USB device servers are nothing new, with products from Silex and Keyspan, among others. They work over regular Ethernet, which means your integrated wifi is just fine as one hop in the network. But because of Ethernet's timing uncertainty, they work only with control, interrupt, and bulk transfers (USB message types), not the isochronous transfers required by audio and video devices.

Which is to say, you can move pictures off a connected camera's memory card, since that's a bulk transfer, but you can't run a webcam or a USB headset from a device server.

WUSB should fix that. I stress "should". Without confirmation that this gaping limitation has been surmounted, all further product plugs are useless copypastes of useless press releases.

Samsung punches out 64GB SDDs


Wear leveling makes it possible.

That's called "wear leveling" and it's been a feature of flash controller chips for many years. Read http://www.dansdata.com/flashswap.htm for some perspective.

Bluetooth speaker set slices all wires


So is there a delay?

I wonder if they're able to do this directly with the original transmission from the host device, or if one speaker has to receive both channels and the send one to the other speaker? If that secondary transmission is analog, it's susceptible to noise, and if it's also digital, it introduces additional delay.

Personally, I'll be impressed when I can get a bluetooth speaker and mic in separate hardware, and pair them to a phone to work as a single handsfree unit. (Retro candlestick phone, here I come!)

Hit the DECT: cordless phones on test


But DECT = interoperability?

So wait, you had a world-class assortment of DECT hardware to play with, and didn't answer the big questions haunting every potential DECT customer? To wit: Can handset X pair with base station Y? Can the user transfer calls betwixt and among different handsets in a heterogeneous environment? Can any consumer hardware work as range extenders, wirelessly repeating the signal of a wired base station? Commercial-grade DECT gear is widely touted for that exact feature, but I can find no information suggesting that consumer-grade kit can do the same.

Put simply: I'd love to spend a week in your test lab. ;)