* Posts by Andy Dent

26 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Mar 2007

Interference knocks Vodafone NZ into court

Andy Dent

Wonder if it's the geography

After a stunning holiday in NZ South Island last year I wonder if the problem is due to geography - there is very little room between those mountains. It will be very interesting to see where they claim the interference occurs.

My physics isn't good enough to know if the presence of the mountains, of various rock types, could cause interference between bands that are normally safely mixed in wide-open spaces.

There are very few places in Australia that come close to matching the NZ geography. Maybe if we stretched NZ out to the same size as Oz it would be as flat.

Deadfish iPhones send users into deep freeze

Andy Dent

External Silicon the problem?

I've noticed the iPod Touch get warm depending on what I'm playing but I don't have a wrapper on mine. I wonder if there is any correlation between external case design and the problems?

Apple preps netbook 10-inch touch screen thingy

Andy Dent

cop a ...?

Surely the larger version of an iPod Touch is an iPod Feel?

Mine's the one with the fake left arm that leaves me one hand free...

Universal thaws out The Thing

Andy Dent

How about a decent Starship Troopers?

c'mon, someone, please before I die make a movie that R.A.H wouldn't have sneered at.

Failing which, John Ringo's "A Hymn Before Battle" would be a very nice substitute to avoid treading on IP which is sadly still locked up.

'Miracle' plane crash was no miracle

Andy Dent

Lasers are the answer

Lasers everywhere, poised to disintegrate geese in midflight.

That yields a tidy "civilian" fleet which can deployed to take on the incoming ICBMS, neatly solving the problem of rapid response.

Mine's the one with the dalek-melting souped-up "pointer" in the left pocket.

Apple wants to swipe your iPhone

Andy Dent

Seems unique to me

As a long-standing fan of gestural interfaces and devices, a quick read of this patent leaves me thinking it is pretty specific and unique.

1) It's about swipes in the "virtual keyboard area" compared to all the prior art I can think of being in a general drawing area.

2) The gesture is independent of the start or end area being a specific location. That rules out the IBM Shark and the Palm swipes in or out of the Graffiti areas.

That doesn't mean I agree with this kind of patent being a good thing in general but it reads like Apple have some minor improvements on entry on the iPhone virtual keyboard that they want to lock down with a patent.

ITU plots third dimension

Andy Dent

Third approach - 2D + Depth

A very lean third approach for transmitting 3D is to send a 2D movie plus a "depth map" which is used to render the 3D version. This has the advantage of being able to switch off 3D at any time and see an original resolution movie plus being able to choose a range of 3D render styles and depth scaling.

I wrote the Quicktime plugins for Dynamic Digital Depth to do this, which are sadly no longer available. They have concentrated since on other delivery formats - see http://www.ddd.com/about/News/newsarticle_pr_0102.html for a discussion of the conversion and packing process.

Times: US about to deploy Space Marines

Andy Dent
Paris Hilton

Cheaper to have Marines holiday all over

Seems to me, given the cost of something like this hardware, it would be vastly cheaper to go through a massive expansion of personnel and keep them "deployed" by holidaying all over the globe.

That should also do wonders for recruiting and provide a nice rotation out of the sandbox.

Paris 'cos she knows how to have a good time all over and is in the hotel business.

BTW if you want a really good update on Starship Troopers, read John Ringo's Posleen war series, the first two of which are free at Baen - http://www.webscription.net/c-1-free-library.aspx - "A Hymn Before Battle" and "Gust Front"

IBM tries its hand in the lawn sprinkler biz

Andy Dent

Prior Art - Aussie Imagine Cup 2008

This sounds a lot like the winning project for the Imagine Cup 2008 - Project SOAK



"Oz-dream team’s SOAK (Smart Operational Agriculture toolkit) is a combination of hardware and software designed to help drought-affected farmers better manage their limited water resources. It uses sensors around a farm that measure everything from dam depth to soil moisture, adds external data such as weather forecasts and combines it with crop lifecycle information to create a highly sophisticated watering system. It controls farm sprinklers and prioritises water use to where and when it’s really needed. "

David Blaine tw*tdangle ends in controversy

Andy Dent

Sustained or Suspended?

I can't believe I'm the first to read that article and think "wow - suspended from only a drinking straw and a catheter". Take that, Stelarc!

Mine's the one with the full body-harness and stuntman wire attached...

Tiny tots trial touchscreen tech

Andy Dent

Upper body development

OK-Cancel said it all, when they saw Minority Report


I have a (painful) dim memory of working with HP touchscreens back in the mid-80's where the infrared-based screen was quickly rejected in favour of using a conventional mouse due to executives pains in neck.

Analysts slam iPhone security and battery life

Andy Dent

@Camera Phones

Why? White boards.

I would estimate about 80% of the meetings I've been where anything useful has been worked out on the whiteboard have resulted in someone taking a photo with a camera, even when printing is available.

It's a lot easier to email a photo around or put it up on a wiki than to do something with crap thermal-printed paper which is probably only black and white.

The return of Killer Chlorine

Andy Dent

Bike Helmets, Compulsion and Benefits to Society

As an Aussie with compulsory bike helmet laws and an argumentative brother in the UK, I actually went and looked up the BMA article when he raised the issue.

The BMA studied the effects of introducing compulsory helmet laws into Perth, Western Australia. Yes, we were the source of stats for our former colonial masters' quacks.

As an overall health isssue - the general population suffered because wearing helmets was a factor discouraging a large number of adults from riding who failed to take up an alternative form of exercise. This is a good example of how individual traumatic incidents total up to cost less than the overall health cost of a decreasingly fit population.

However, bike helmets here are light-weight and relatively cheap due to being compulsory. I'm not sure where the arguments about them contributing to accidents come from but am reminded of all those cases of people who would have been saved by being thrown from the car, that were cited when seatbelts were being made compulsory.

Adobe swings out Acrobat 9

Andy Dent

Have to accept that embedded 3D valuable for some users

I used to work with a bunch of modeling scientists who were very happy with the 3D facilities in Acrobat 8. There was no other way (*) for them to create content that could be easily published and distributed for such visualisations as are allowed by the time-varying 3D movies Acrobat provided.

Australia to restrict laser-pointers - Minister

Andy Dent

It was coordinated

There's a good series of comments from Aussies on http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/04/02/2205452.htm including this one

"Whilst I have not been targetted by this sort of rubbish myself, I have several collegues that have, and it is very serious.

Were not talking about the little toy lasers that the teacher uses in yr 10 english, these things are industrial type lasers. They are capable of brightly illuminating an aircraft cockpit at 6000ft, sufficient to seriously impede night vision (at the least). I am told that directly looking at these types of lasers can also temporarily blind and even cause long term sight problems.

Dont ban them with a knee-jerk reaction..... the boofheads will find a way to get hold of them regardless, and it will only end up hurting the legitimate users. Make that little bit of extra effort and catch them in the act."

Minister defends National ID Register security

Andy Dent

Simple Financial way to assure data safety

For every breach the ministers responsible, (all of them from day 1 of the project), and top 3 tiers of management are fined 10% of their pension/superannuation and 10% of their gross income for the current financial year.

I am *certain* such an agreement would lead to

a) vastly better security than ever before

b) a cost blow-out when they start getting realistic about security and managing individual access.

Gmail exploit aids domain hijack

Andy Dent
Thumb Up

Praise for GoDaddy

I just wanted to chime in and say I've been very happy with GoDaddy support turnaround and their services both hosting and their basic domain redirection.

I've not had any spam problems traceable to them.

Is Apple coding Leopard to run Windows apps natively?

Andy Dent

drawing parallels

"Parallels in particular tries to allow Mac users to run Windows apps as if they were native applcations rather than apps running on Windows running in a Mac OS X window."

Umm, why Parallels in particular?

The Unity mode in VMWare Fusion seems to do a pretty good job to me of making the Windows apps in my Dock just run as another app.

Kindle ain't no e-book reader

Andy Dent

Free Wikipedia

Read about the device before slanging off based on this author's somewhat biased article!

One of the most significant things about the Kindle is the free access to Wikipedia. No connection charges, no volume charges...

What's to stop Project Gutenberg amalgamating and putting its content on Wikipedia?

BTW Baen books aren't free. Yes they have a sizeable free library but they also sell a lot of books ebooks. Thanks to them using Mobipocket format, these will be readable on the device.

When it comes to reading books on phones, laptops etc. - anything without e-ink is a non-starter for outdoor reading in brighter climates. The best device I have for outdoor reading currently is an old LCD Palm IIIxe.

California teen offers GPS challenge to speeding rap

Andy Dent

Cops clean up after speeding accidents!

I used to work in a startup where the CEO was an ex-copper.

Amongst his other harrowing tales was the description of the first accident scene he was called out to at the age of 19 - a "bucket job".

When you've had to pick small pieces of a young driver off the road, you might develop a more intolerant view of speed.

Mobiles give you brain cancer?

Andy Dent
Black Helicopters

Powerlines and Schools underneath - epidimiology and toxins?

Regarding the oft-raised stories of increased cancer rates from kids on schools built underneath Powerlines in the USA, the thought just occurred to me - I wonder if anyone did a deep analysis of what chemicals they may use when clearing the land for the powerline run?

I can even, donning conspiracy-theorist cap here, see a savvy lawyer for the power companies seeding the rumours about the powerlines themselves being the cause, knowing it's refutable, so as to divert attention (literally) away from the ground!

Interpol launches worldwide hunt for abuse pics man

Andy Dent

touchup legality

After working for one company which did image processing expected to end up in court, you have to be *VERY* careful about the chain of evidence and how your operations provide opportunities for the defence lawyers.

In this case, I could see them being able to justify a purely algorithmic unswirling but being on legally shaky ground if anyone were to "touch up" the photo to make it a little more intelligible.

Texas Instruments stands out with 3D TV

Andy Dent

Content, adjustable 3D etc

With regards to content, check out the conversion stuff at


These guys have 3D conversion down to something of similar effort to colourising old black and white movies.

As far as the low inter-ocular distance goes, the kind of 3D that DDD used to produce allowed for real-time adjustment - I wrote their OpticBoom QuickTime plugin which allowed you to switch the 3D on and off and adjust the "3D Depth". I assume similar stuff will be made available for viewing movies on this TV.

Howeer, if you thought the war over the remote control was bad, imagine the war over the 3D adjustment! Hopefully the condition is genetic and the whole family suffers (umm, hopefullly?).

Anyway, for me the single biggest limitation of most 3D viewing technology, especially the glasses-free displays, is that you can't watch them lying on your side on the couch! I think time-based differential stuff like this will still work but of course if the separation is horizontal, you lose the 3D effect depending on your head angle.

Carphone Warehouse salesman dies in car boot

Andy Dent

OZ Copper advice

From a friend

1) lock your keys in the boot, so there can be no accusation that you "just tossed them on the back seat when you saw me coming".

2) don't sleep in the driver's seat

3) make sure you aren't going to be committing a parking offence by the time you wake up.

Scientists shun Web 2.0

Andy Dent

Our scientists use wikis

There are thousands of scientists using wikis within CSIRO.

Or, to find examples closer to El Reg, try Googling

twiki ac.uk

Ohh, wait.

Scientists are refusing to PAY for wiki's etc. Guess the vendors haven't noticed people can actually get the job done using the open source products ;-)

Adobe edits the development cycle

Andy Dent

re: What about major re-arch work?

One way to apply the agile approach to a big rearchitecture is to base the initial development around writing tests and boxing parts of the existing architecture.

This allows you to get feedback on if you are dividing up the existing architecture appropriately - are you getting testable chunks and can you write new software to talk to the boxed parts?

It comes with a nice "shippable" side-effect - if you decide to avoid rewriting any existing chunks then they are already wrapped. It might just make more sense to use a screen-scraper to talk to a legacy program and put a web service wrapper around the whole thing.