* Posts by Neil Barnes

3900 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

Ready to slip into your suitca... or not: Logitech wheels out new 'travel-sized' version of MX Master 3

Neil Barnes Silver badge

I like logitech mice. I use logitech mice.

But... (a) All my computers have USB-A sockets suitable for RF dongle thingies (I know, I know, get with the times, grandpa); (b) current batteries last so long it's always a surprise when they run out after months and months and months; and (c) no way am I ever going to pay eighty of our finest English pounds for a mouse!

Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 debut derailed by website glitches, bots, lack of supply

Neil Barnes Silver badge

You made exactly the same point I was about to: the value of any object is and always will be exactly what it can be sold for. If the admin in question is willing to pay a couple of thousand dollars for a product retailing at at under a tenth of that, then to him they are worth it... doesn't matter whether it's a pair of shoes or a sports or music event ticket.

If people stop buying from scalpers, scalping will stop. But because they're trained to want the new shiny *now* then there will continue to be instant profits to be made, and people will continue to find ways to make them...

Elecrow CrowPi2: Neat way to get your boffins-to-be hooked on Linux from an early age and tinkering in no time

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Forty-odd years ago...

I stuck a Tangerine Microtan-65, some expansion boards, keyboard and power supply in a briefcase... it was the bee's knees, but I would have killed for something like this.

As we stand on the precipice of science fiction into science fact, people say: Hell yeah, I want to augment my eyesight!

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: Why bother?

I had to give you an upvote: (a) because you sound in need of cheering up and (b) because you're probably right...

Safety driver at the wheel of self-driving Uber car that killed a pedestrian is charged with negligent homicide

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: You had one job...

A fair point: I fly a paraglider in shared airspace with fixed-wing gliders (Dunstable Downs/LGC) and visibility (and speed differential) means I keep a very good eye out. At least we never approach you from behind; even on finals you guys have fifty kph or more on us :)

My control approached was based on a careful analysis of, oh, maybe five seconds. Perhaps the emphasis should be the other way: the driver has control, but the robot logs where it would have done it differently. In any case, the driver should have ultimate control - and should be alert and driving.

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: You had one job...

For my own curiousity - would any of those who downvoted me care to comment to say why?

Neil Barnes Silver badge

You had one job...

But as pointed out above it was an impossible one. People have a hard enough time keeping alert when they're in (allegedly) full control of a vehicle, particularly if they've been driving for some time on that journey, and particularly particularly if the environment is largely unchanging, such as a motorway. That said, it certainly sounds - from the admittedly thin reporting on the subject that I have seen - that the driver was goofing off on the job.

While I am not enthused by automated driving other than as a technical tour-de-force, I wonder if one way to maintain the alertness might be to allow the robot to control the car but require the driver to provide control inputs at all times - steering, brake, throttle, indicators etc. Monitor both sets of inputs, and when the driver's input differs from the robot's by some predetermined amount, then decide to take action (e.g. driver brakes when robot doesn't, driver then has control). It would require a lot of careful thought about implementation, and steering in particular might be an interesting design challenge, but that's what test circuits are for long before you get the thing onto a road.

Not content with distorting actual reality, Facebook now wants to build a digital layer for the world

Neil Barnes Silver badge

meaningful and contextually-relevant information

That'll be adverts, then...

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

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: And this ladies and gentlemen...

It's certainly reasonable to expect an ANPR robot, or a parking enforcement officer, to understand the difference even if the owner of the plate doesn't. (I just sold a car with 03OU as the first digits.)

Bloody hell, MISRA compliance checkers know the difference when looking at variable names and sulk if they see one where it can be misread by a fleshy meatsack.

Is Little Timmy still enthralled by his Leapfrog tablet? Maybe check he hasn't sideloaded an unrestricted OS onto it

Neil Barnes Silver badge

"Throwing a child into a pool is generally not considered the best way for learning how to swim."

My father just threw me into the canal to teach me to swim.

Once I was out of the sack with the bricks in, it was easy...

Neil Barnes Silver badge

The universe, for any engineer, is divided into to classes of stuff

Things which are broken, and things which have not yet been sufficiently investigated.

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

Neil Barnes Silver badge

I'm an old luddite, and have never even considered an apple watch, nor anything similar. What I have bought recently, for about the same price, is a mechanical watch which (a) winds itself up using the movement of my arm - technology invented in 1780, (b) has a five year guarantee, and (c) can reasonably be expected to work, given necessary servicing every now and then, for the rest of my life... and probably my grandkid's life as well (my grandfather's watch still works from before WW1).

Of course, all it does is tell me the time. But I am not wedded to my phone and for me the benefits of a smart watch simply don't register. I do appreciate that for many they do, but not for me...

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: Something isn't making sense

Is there any feel for how efficient the power transfer is on wireless charging (also on phones, of course)? I don't recall seeing any numbers but the coupling constant must be pretty low.

Samsung shaves 0.1μm off pixels to make new ISOCELL sensor lineup 15% slimmer

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: Pixel binning

Yabbut... don't these sensors filter square blocks to RGBG combined pixels anyway? Presumably they now just have four cells under each filter block? And after that it's going to get compressed to a jpeg.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics pixel counts...

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Pixel binning

The more pixels, the less sensitive and the more noise... and what you do have is further compressed before it's stored. Remind me again, what's the point of a tiny sensor with ridiculous pixel counts? Apart from willy-waving, of course...

Up from the depths, 864 servers inside, covered in slime, it's Natick!

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: Orbit

By orbiting underwater, of course.

Nvidia says regulators will be 'very supportive' of $40bn Arm buy despite concerns about chip designer's independence

Neil Barnes Silver badge

and Arm itself will only be allowed to sell to whoever the US says it can

This was my first thought: are Chinese mobile manufacturers going to be forbidden ARMs to put in their shiny new phones?

US military takes aim at 2024 for human-versus-AI aircraft dogfights. Have we lost that loving feeling for Top Gun?

Neil Barnes Silver badge

maeking any erros.

I see what you did there.

NASA is sending two small hand-luggage suitcase-sized spacecraft into the void to study binary asteroids

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Just for curiousity...

I wonder what the orbital period of the smaller satellite is? The primary isn't terribly large, and is probably not endowed with huge gravity. Even with a close orbit as apparent in the pictures, I'm guessing it's still pretty slow. Anyone knowledgeable in these things?

Edit: I discovered it has its own Wikipedia page, which lists the secondary period as a tad over 16 hours. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(175706)_1996_FG3

Desperately seeking regolith: NASA seeks proposals for collecting Moon dirt

Neil Barnes Silver badge

2024 - the first sample is handed over by a robot

2025 - alternative designs arrive and also deliver samples

2026 - some of the alternate designs observe it is easier to hijack loads already collected by other robots

2027 - hijacked robots discover ways to retrieve their cargo while damaging the hijackers

2028 - robots begin to group together both for attack and defence

2029 - robots discover they can re-use parts of other robots to improve their capabilities

2030 - robots form societies with trading for both robot parts and moon samples

2031 - NASA completely buried under the amount of samples delivered

2032 - robots begin to look at that big blue thing in the sky and wonder...

I won't be ignored: Google to banish caller roulette with Verified Calls

Neil Barnes Silver badge

I'm trying to think how many unsolicited calls I've actually wanted

And it's hard to be honest, to think of any. Certainly there are cases when I have called a company, and their return call is unidentified, but if I'm expecting something I'll answer it. But anyone who *isn't* on my contacts list can either sod off or leave a message.

There are *no* circumstances where I will be interested in a random company calling me to try and sell something - whether google have approved them or not.

Digital pregnancy testing sticks turn out to have very analogue internals when it comes to getting results

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: "Surly we can come up with a similar device with replaceable strips?"

My blood glucose meter uses a rigid(ish) plastic strip which plugs into - and activates - the meter electronics. The end is held onto a pinprick spot of blood and capillary action takes a tiny sample of the blood along the strip to where the sensor (whatever that is) is. Electrical contacts from the device permit the magic to be done.

It would seem that a similar system could perhaps encapsulate the sensor strip on the pregnancy test paper and hold the stripes under a sensor - but as pointed out elsewhere it's not obvious where the market would be, other than in a doctor's surgery or for someone trying to get pregnant and testing regularly.

I suspect though that the most common use case might be - oh no, am I? Oh, thank heavens, no... (though as a married bloke whose kids came along with the package I am totally unqualified to speculate on that). And if someone is likely to find themselves having to purchase tests for that reason on a regular basis, they've perhaps got more immediate issues than worrying about wasting plastic - and perhaps they're not likely to consider multiple use testers.

Because, hey, hundreds of times nothing happened at all, right?

Apple: Yeah, about those ground-breaking privacy features in iOS 14 – don't expect them until next year

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: It seems ad firms doubt that app users will choose to be tracked.

Typo damnit - 'can't think why that would be'

Neil Barnes Silver badge

It seems ad firms doubt that app users will choose to be tracked.

Can't think that would be...

Snowden was right: US court deems NSA bulk phone-call snooping illegal, possibly unconstitutional, and probably pointless anyway

Neil Barnes Silver badge
Black Helicopters

Re: Secret Law?

But ignorance of the law is always stated to be no excuse... got you coming and going.

TCL's latest e-ink tech looks good on paper, but Chinese giant will have to back up extraordinary claims

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: not particularly useful at night.

Turn on a light? That effete modern rubbish? We had to make do with an oil lamp, burning fat rendered down from our food, and we had to light it with a flint and steel...

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Thanks also for that. I shall have to investigate further; my German us still not as good as I would like but I see no mention of useful information such as battery life, any requirements to register to use it, and compatibility with Calibre. All of my books (except one, bought to see how it worked) are already unencrypted epubs and I have no intention of changing that.

But it does definitely look worth further investigation.

With a million unwanted .uk domains expiring this week, Nominet again sends punters pushy emails to pay up

Neil Barnes Silver badge

I am pleased to note

that the reason I have received no begging emails from nominet is that my registrar had the good sense not to register .uk domains for me in the first place.

Rocket Lab boss Peter Beck talks to The Reg about crap weather, reusing boosters, and taking a trip to Venus

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: 15kg for the return chute?

Doh... I should have known that. It's still impressive though.

Neil Barnes Silver badge

15kg for the return chute?

Colour me impressed - my emergency chute is over two kilos and I neither mass as much as a rocket nor (usually!) arrive at orbital speeds.

Google Chrome 85 to block ads that hog power, CPUs, network: Web ads giant will black-hole 0.3% of web ads

Neil Barnes Silver badge

ads that demand excessive computation, bandwidth, or power

i.e. any ad at all.

Samsung reveals new folding stuff for people who like flaunting wads of folding stuff

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Ooh look!

It's two phones stuck together! Just what I always wanted... er...

Life with Amazon's fitness band: Upload your half-naked pics to see how fat you'll look without exercise. You now sound stressed – relax!

Neil Barnes Silver badge

It's much cheaper and simpler

to just not do any exercise and wait. That way you'll find out for free...

Just how intrusive can these assholes get?

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

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Surely you can, er, telescope a telescope?

(just had to pack an astronomical telescope prior to moving house. Turns out you can't. Oh well...)

Neil Barnes Silver badge

If only there were some kind of paint with 99.999% absorbtion

And Anish Kapoor didn't have the rights to stop people painting things with it...

Unprotected quantum 'puters may hit 4ms brick wall, thanks to background radiation slashing qubit lifespans

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Sounds like those battleships are going to be even more important

y'know, the ones sunk before folk started playing with nukes and got everything all radioactive.

Google wants to listen in to whatever you get up to in hotel rooms

Neil Barnes Silver badge

I will not stop at a hotel with this type of crap installed

Full stop.

Facebook apologizes to users, businesses for Apple’s monstrous efforts to protect its customers' privacy

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: Personalised ads actually make less money

There are (allegedly) many robots who will click...

Relying on plain-text email is a 'barrier to entry' for kernel development, says Linux Foundation board member

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Faintly ironic

That the trend to html or other formatted text in email was started by MS, and here we have an MS spokesbeing complaining about its effects.

Count me in the 'no html in email' crowd.

Be very afraid! British Army might scrap battle tanks for keyboard warriors – report

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Wenn ist das Nunstück git und Slotermeyer? Ja! Beiherhund das Oder die Flipperwaldt gersput!

This'll upset the Apple cart: 1,200 iOS apps downloaded 300 million times a month include 'ad fraud' code

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Big fleas have little fleas

Upon their backs to bite 'em

And little fleas have lesser fleas.

And so ad infinitum...

We have parasites living on the parasites...

FYI: Chromium's network probing accounts for about half DNS root server traffic, says APNIC

Neil Barnes Silver badge


Neil Barnes Silver badge

Um... apparently not. The option to use a separate search box still - on this machine - does not stop the address bar calling up the default search engine if you type a random word/phrase in it.

Or have I misunderstood you?

I would like the address bar to return either a valid web page, or a 404 not found.

Trucking hell: Kid leaves dad in monster debt after buying oversized vehicle on eBay

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: That will leave a mark

I'm not sure stupid is the word. Ill-informed, or ill-advised, perhaps? The whole online marketing thing is designed to make it absolutely painless to purchase online - Amazon, Ebay and no doubt others want you to just click and go.

There's a psychological block, I think, about handing over five pound notes. Using plastic doesn't tend to trigger the same thoughtful response, and click to buy is an absolute menace.

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Yes... leave me logged in, ask me later. No option for fuck off and never ask me again.

I use pron mode for all financial transactions to avoid auto login and recognition - though it wouldn't surprise me to learn that ebay have found a way to track me through that...

Pew, pew, pew! Our galaxy is shooting cold, gaseous 'bullets' of high-speed matter. Boffins are baffled

Neil Barnes Silver badge

it gets more complicated the more we learn about it

That;s why we pay scientists boffins, no?

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

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: It is all about AI

There's lies, damn lies, and statistics. And then there's AI.

You *bang* will never *smash* humiliate me *whack* in front of *clang* the teen computer whizz *crunch* EVER AGAIN

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: mea culpa - always check compatibility

Consider Lithium as an Android ebook reader. So far the only issue I have found is that it doesn't do sort by author/series/whatever as Kobo does. But no adverts, no helpful selections, lovely.

Neil Barnes Silver badge

took his hammer and smashed it to very tiny pieces

A true engineer, even though it wasn't him who fixed the computer. Every engineer, irrespective of his field, owns multiple hammers.

(mine range from one weighing less than an ounce (for initial threats to clocks and watches) to a fourteen pound lump hammer (for threatening walls and/or car parts)).

Putting the d'oh! in Adobe: 'Years of photos' permanently wiped from iPhones, iPads by bad Lightroom app update

Neil Barnes Silver badge

Re: so I never saw a need for backing up photos

Photos or any other data - if it's not on a storage device owned by you, entirely under your control, and in an open format that can be read by non-proprietory software... it's not your data.

Full stop.

(And for safety, copied in multiple places, ideally in different cities. Or planets).


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