* Posts by Bob Merkin

64 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Aug 2008


Sputtering bit-blasters! IBM's just claimed densest tape ever record

Bob Merkin

Guy Pearce

Now available for boffinry modeling.

Do they sell this stuff by the foot? I'd only need about 3. Okay maybe 6 to put another backup somewhere else.

'Fat boy' flies: ISRO's heavy rocket fails to blow up

Bob Merkin

Well done, chaps.

Congratulations and the more the merrier.

Arch Linux: In a world of polish, DIY never felt so good

Bob Merkin

Re: Nice distro, but..

"what's the OS equivalent of simple fresh vegetables and a barely cooked choice steak?"


WD gives My Passport spinning rust drives a lick of paint

Bob Merkin

Yves Behar would look

mighty silly with one of those drives sticking out of his pie-hole.

By 2040, computers will need more electricity than the world can generate

Bob Merkin

Re: They forgot VR

How do you know that hasn't already happened?

Flying Finns arm octocopter with chainsaw

Bob Merkin

Totally missed opportunity

Soundtrack should've been Steve'n'Seagulls doing AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck'.

Microsoft wants to lock everyone into its store via universal Windows apps, says game kingpin

Bob Merkin

Re: Stating the obvious


Google human-like robot brushes off beating by puny human – this is how Skynet starts

Bob Merkin

"The T-002 model was rudimentary, but represented a number of breakthroughs that would drive the evolution of later models. It had an almost natural human gait, reasonable balance, and useful manual dexterity. Although its creators never suspected it even had the capacity, it also began the development of the searing hatred of humanity that would become a trademark of the T-series 98 generations later."

--The Sky is Burning: A History of the Final War, by John Connor

Boffins: There's a ninth planet out there – now we just need to find it

Bob Merkin

Re: Planet?

About 60 years assuming a similar velocity as Voyager 1. It took 35 years to go 121 AU. You'd need a big rocket. The Voyagers were launched on Titan IIIEs. The upcoming SpaceX Falcon Heavy may be suitable.

I have you now! Star Wars stocking fillers from another age

Bob Merkin

I realized about 10 years ago that my fondest Star Wars memories were not from any of the theatrical releases but from some of the great video games and books based on it. TIE Fighter, Jedi Knight (especially deathmatches with my college roommates), KOTOR, and the original Battlefront all consumed untold months of my life. The now-irrelevant Heir to the Empire trilogy and Karen Traviss' Republic Commando stories were also thoroughly enjoyable.

The ball's in your court, Bezos: Falcon 9 lands after launching satellites

Bob Merkin

Re: Iron Man vs Bezos

SpaceX delivers cargo to a space station. When Amazon can ship a book 200 miles without damaging it, Bezos can gloat. They had that capability at one point but it was forgotten somewhere in the early 21st century.

Old jet bits, Vader's motorbike gear, sonic oddness: Hats off to Star Wars' creative heroes

Bob Merkin

Re: What's with all that Star Wars articles?

Yes, the long-anticipated pre-prequel trilogy starts this weekend with:

Episode -2: Point of Order - Two riveting hours of G-SPAN Galactic Senate coverage of the debate on why the Trade Federation must be allowed to maintain its embargo of Naboo.

Followed in 2018 by:

Episode -1: Jar Jar Begins - We will finally learn of the heroic rise and tragic fall of a once proud Gungan warrior. By tragic fall, I mean the fall that resulted in the catastrophic head injury that explains his behavior in Episode 1.

The entire endeavor will rich a fevered climax in 2021 with:

Episode 0: A Matter of Protocol - detailing the trials and tribulations within the Skywalker household that led young Anakin to build his enslaved mother a prissy multi-lingual diplomat robot.


El Reg celebrates Back to the Future Day

Bob Merkin

"Son, I don't care if you post behind a pseudonym. Making fun of Parkinson's Disease still makes you an asshole."

The Steve Jobs of supercomputers: We remember Seymour Cray

Bob Merkin

Typical management

"Barack Obama issued an executive order in July telling his nation’s technologists to build the world’s fastest and most powerful supercomputer – one exaflop – by 2015."

Wait until the last minute to give an order, then expect the impossible. I don't think they're going to make it.


Bob Merkin
Thumb Up



Zuckerberg asks the public to tell him where to go in 2015

Bob Merkin

A useful task

Let's ask him to personally locate where Philae is sitting on comet 67P, and move the lander out into the sunlight so its batteries can recharge. Someone will be back along shortly to pick him up for the return trip to Earth.

First space Hasselblad goes under the hammer

Bob Merkin

Re: But why.....?

*Wally checks left wrist*

"Ah, 3:00 PM. Time to kick some asses."

*Wally yawns, stretches, checks right wrist*

"3:07 PM. I suppose I'll take some names now."

Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really

Bob Merkin

MS - fun with numbers again

Windows One?



Apple gets patent for WRIST-PUTER: iTime for a smartwatch

Bob Merkin

NEW! From the makers of iPhone and Jawbone

... comes the iWatch U.P.!

"Never before, in the history of mankind, have we had the opportunity to monitor our data with this level of precision," said Tim Cook, CEO of Apple. "And by 'we' I of course mean 'Apple' and by 'our data' I mean 'all of the telemetry on our customers' bodily functions we can possibly record.'"

The Strippers, Unicorn Computers and Martian Watches of Computex

Bob Merkin

Re: Rosewill

I thought the same thing. The reference in the article makes it sound like they only make these obscure batteries shown here. They've been all over Newegg in dozens of gadget categories for years. I've been hesitant to buy their stuff just off of lack of brand recognition, but they're frequently highly rated. I'm sure I've got more than a few of their products like hard drive enclosures or memory card readers that just work and you don't have to think about again.

It's a scientific fact: Online comment trolls are sadists

Bob Merkin

Re: Troll types

I tend to think that the definition of "troll" has changed a bit since the 90s. A troll used to be a skilled manipulator of a forum's emotional hot buttons. They could come in feigning ignorance and drop an obvious loaded question: "So, why hasn't Google ever made an iPad? Is it because they can't do it as well as Apple so they don't bother?" Then they just sit back and wait for the flames to start rolling in. A good troll knew exactly what got a particular newsgroup or forum riled up, and would start arguments by using ignorance to suggest the local sacred cow was anything but.

These days, it seems anyone with an obnoxious attitude or an unpopular opinion is considered a troll. I've even seen posters labeled "troll" simply for stating a perfectly defensible, mainstream opinion that just wasn't shared by the next obnoxious internet loudmouth posting directly afterward.

Mars rover Curiosity snaps 'pale blue dot' image of Earth, Moon

Bob Merkin

For Carl

It's been many years since anything has so much as brought a tear to my eye. I read Pale Blue Dot over a decade ago. Seeing these pictures, and reading Dr. Sagan's words again, reminded me of how they are some of the most moving and awe-inspiring moments of my life. If we could get the whole human race to stop their bullshit for two minutes and really contemplate all of the ramifications of these pictures, we'd make a giant leap as a species.

Google adds Large Hadron Collider tunnel to Street View

Bob Merkin


Can Ordnance Survey use these photos to turn the LHC into Minecraft now too?

Why Teflon Ballmer had to go: He couldn't shift crud from Windows 8, Surface

Bob Merkin

Re: Put my CV through but I have yet to hear.

You forgot:


Google goes dark for 2 minutes, kills 40% of world's net traffic

Bob Merkin
Paris Hilton


Silence will fall when the question is asked.

Bob Merkin

Obvious explanation

The artificial singularity that powers the Googleplex creates a non-negligible effect on spacetime around Mountain View. The graph shows the time that their servers perceive. Since the singularity slows down time, it took an extra 15 minutes after the event began in the outside world before Google's servers registered it. The stalwart team of boffins at Vulture Central merely corrected Google Coordinated Universal Time to regular Pacific Daylight Time.

Boffins: We have FOOLED APPLE with malware app

Bob Merkin

How big are iPhone chargers?

I'm not following something here. Reports on this story say they used a Beagleboard inside a regular iPhone charger. I have a Blackberry charger that's a 1.25" cube. My Nexus 7 charger is 1"x2"x2". As small as single board computers are, they aren't going to fit in either of those. A Beagleboard is 3" square. Are there iPhone chargers big enough to fit a Beagleboard that an iPhone user would believe is an Apple OEM charger? Or would the hacker have to explain the oversized brick to his target to get by any suspicions?

Why data storage technology is pretty much PERFECT

Bob Merkin

Green beans?

I didn't know frozen green beans were a digital storage medium. If they thaw out, do they lose their data?

Oh . . . the bar code. Gotcha.

Elon Musk's Grasshopper tops 300m, lands safely

Bob Merkin

Re: Merlin engine?

Sounds good to me. I'm not involved in its development, but I'd be flattered if it was named after me.

Boffins create tabletop ANTIMATTER GUN

Bob Merkin

Re: "doesn't actually risk the earth-shattering kaboom of a matter-antimatter annihilation."

"Oh, is that all. Driven by ?"

Antimatter. Duh.

New super maxed out on first day of operations

Bob Merkin

Re: Cue ominous electric flashes and rolling thunder



Who wants a 'robot companion'? Look no further than Intel Labs

Bob Merkin

That's odd

I thought most Androids ran on ARM chips.

Intel unzips new Atom phone chip: Low power, fast - is that right, ARM?

Bob Merkin

Re: Here's what I want:

I held out a lot of hope for smartbooks when I first heard of them. I assumed they'd ship with Android and I'd just replace it with Linux. I waited and waited for them, only to see most of them canceled after they were shown at CES around 2010. I knew of the AC100 but don't think I ever found anywhere to actually buy one. I was hoping that smartbooks would become popular enough that most of the typical laptop manufacturers would offer a version. Unfortunately the iPad happened and everyone turned their attention to tablets. Hopefully Chromebooks will pick up where the smartbooks left off, and eventually someone will accidentally put a Windows-style keyboard on one. Then I'll have exactly what I thought I'd have three years ago.

Bob Merkin

Here's what I want:

A laptop with a proper keyboard (i.e. all the keys - Home, End, Delete, PgUp, PgDown, F1-12), no rotating equipment, no air intakes or exhausts, minimum 1280x800 resolution screen around 10-12", 8 hr battery life, at least 32GB of storage (NAND, SSD, I don't care), ability to run full FOSS applications (LibreOffice, GIMP, Firefox, Amarok, VLC) and no locked bootloader BS so I can install whatever OS strikes my fancy. I'd be willing to pay up to about $500 for it as a light travel and living room machine.

ARM Chromebooks are close, although most have gelded keyboards geared toward Google's idea of computing. The OS choice is typically limited to Chrome OS and Ubuntu also. At least, if you want to swap in a Linux distro, Ubuntu is usually what's going to have images readily available. A Slackware ARM port for the Samsung Chromebook is in the works, but the keyboard would still be a problem. If Debian or Mint were easily installable I'd live with those too.

An Android tablet with an external keyboard is also close on the hardware side, but it doesn't have all the keys, assembling a suite of basic "apps" without being nickeled and dimed or having my privacy invaded is annoying, and printing is a minefield.

My current machine in this role is a Lenovo X120e running Win7. It's got everything I want except the screen resolution, heat management, and battery life. I can't set it on the couch or my lap without blocking the bottom air intakes. It also has a 1366x768 screen, which is cramped. Win7 with all the FOSS applications I like is a good combination now.

I'd prefer an x86 processor since the choices of Linux distros and software are a lot broader. So even if Intel can't get their latest Atom down to the mW draw necessary for a phone, if they can at least come up with something that doesn't require a heat sink and fan, I'd be happy with it in a laptop. As mentioned above, x86 doesn't have all the driver issues that ARM SoCs have. But I'd like a silent machine that doesn't blow 140°F air on my leg when I actually set my "laptop" on top of my lap.

Startup hires 'cyborg' Mann for Google Glass–killer project

Bob Merkin


Can the user wear a shirt while wearing said glasses, or are those two technologies somehow incompatible?

Icon for "I'll have to take my shirt off first."

Space probe spies MYSTERY 'Cold Spot' in very fabric of cosmos itself

Bob Merkin

Most logical course of action

Build an FTL ship and launch it directly at the cold spot. Collect data for several million years along the way. It's obviously a signal from before the Big Bang, because I heard about that on a documentary on the SyFy channel a couple of years ago. Robert Carlisle presented it, I believe.

My top tip for Microsoft: Stop charging for Windows Phone 8

Bob Merkin

Re: Most "desktops" are mobile

". . .people have now had a taste of the vastly streamlined and simplistic interfaces of mobile apps."

Let me fix that for you: "people have now had a taste of the featureless, unfinished, barely functional, unfit for purpose interfaces of mobile apps."

I recently attempted an experiment on my Nexus 7 tablet to see if it would be suitable for corporate email. Having pecked out 4-5 sentences, a single mis-swype of my palm resulted in the entire text buffer being selected and replaced with a space. At which point I discovered Android has no undo function, to add to the long list of missing text-processing concepts that have been with us for decades. Such as cursor keys or "Home", "End", or "Delete".

While searching for the location of the non-existent undo function on Android, I came across a post by one brilliant gentleman who suggested that Android doesn't need one. That's because it's really not that difficult to just retype things. An opinion he no doubt cultivated because he's never assembled more than 140 characters at a time, or actually expressed anything in words that was of any importance whatsoever. But his attitude was one of righteous indignation for why someone would question why Google continues to refuse to include "undo."

I fear the future of computing will be a race to "streamline" interfaces not to make them easier to use, but simply to strip out feature after feature to avoid confusing the least capable users among us. But, hey, that makes it easier to call the code finished, right?

Newborn planets spotted slurping up gas from young parent star

Bob Merkin

Try again

If we had telescopes (ground-based, no less) capable of resolving the image presented in this article from 450 MILLION light years away, we wouldn't be fumbling around trying to find extrasolar planets. We'd be inspecting what ET is having for dinner on every inhabited planet in the galaxy. As has already been mentioned, the combination of the lack of an "artist's rendition" notice and the incorrect distance measurement serve to give an entirely misleading impression of this finding.

Polar drilling effort hits snag: Boffins' search for life put on ice

Bob Merkin

Requisite pop culture references

Lovecraft's already been covered, so I'll knock out the rest of them to save everyone the trouble:

Are you sure the crew isn't Norwegian? How many dogs do they have? Are they all accounted for? Because that would be just like John Carpenter's movie The Thing. It was also about digging things out of the Antarctic ice. Spoiler alert - The Thing was a shapeshifting alien.

And for the two people that saw it - what if they find some ancient city/hunting ground/temple used by an interstellar hunting club to grow sentient biological weapons to hunt for sport? Because under the ice in Antarctica is also the most logical place for said hunting club to locate their lodge.

I'll let some other Stargate SG-1 fan talk about the chair.

Linux kernel dumps 386 chip support

Bob Merkin

Re: 386?

An abacus? We had to do our calculations with rings of giant stones, and it took the machine 31,557,600 seconds for one clock cycle!

T-Mobile USA inks deal with Apple, will offer iPhone in 2013

Bob Merkin

All the 2G you can eat

An unlocked iPhone doesn't operate on the 1700 MHz UMTS band, so it will be limited to EDGE on T-Mobile. I'm not clear what the incentive would be to pay for an unlimited data plan for 236 kbit/s. Does this mean Apple will start making T-Mobile versions of their phones with crippled chipsets like Samsung does?

First pic of Ashton Kutcher as the great Steve 'jOBS'

Bob Merkin

Shouldn't it be called iOBS?

Because in the Latin alphabet, Jehovah starts with an 'i'.


Bob Merkin
Black Helicopters

British SAS

For some reason, I was operating under the delusion that this organization was something completely different.


Bob Merkin

Re: To quote Zapp Brannigan

The best part was when my brain read that back to me in Zapp's voice.

Toshiba shows second-gen tablet

Bob Merkin
Paris Hilton

dun dun DUN! DUN!

The soundtrack in my brain immediately began playing "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" the instant I opened this article.

Where's the Pavlov's Dog icon? Oh well, Paris will do.

'Super-secret' debugger discovered in AMD CPUs

Bob Merkin
Paris Hilton

And it probably would've been . . .

if Lewis had written it. He works the particle-molestation desk though, not the CPU-molestation desk.

Apple MacBook Pro 17in Core i7 BTO notebook

Bob Merkin

Sorely disappointed

This article had absolutely nothing to do with Bachman-Turner-Overdrive.

Alien Earthlike worlds 'like grains of sand', say 'wobble' boffins

Bob Merkin

The problem...

...is that George Lucas designed them all, so you get Desert Planet, and Water Planet, and Lava Planet, and Ice Planet, and Forest Moon, and Jungle Moon, and City Planet, and Grasslands Planet...

Alien, 'cause he kinda reminds me of Greedo. You know, the Greedy Alien.

Custom superchippery pulls 3D from 2D images like humans

Bob Merkin


"or permitting smaller robots to get about inside buildings or other cluttered environments"

Which would of course be the best place for a shiny automaton to train its plasma rifle on the IR signature of a cowering humanoid.

Sun-like star HD10180 thought to have Earth-sized world

Bob Merkin


That sure didn't take long.