* Posts by Annihilator

3742 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Doom developer John Carmack thinks artificial general intelligence is doable by 2030


Re: AGI says no

"See you Next Tuesday!"

You did that deliberately, right?... :D


"LLMs are a product of limited hardware resources"

In otherwords, if we throw more and more monkeys at the problem, then as we approach infinite monkeys eventually we'll get Shakespeare.

"he has a long history of getting a lot out of not much"

I mis-read that as "he has a long history of not getting out much", which is probably true as well.

How TCP's congestion control saved the internet


Re: Ah, ATM

Weird, I came here to post the same thing anecdote but my lecture reference was around 2001. Don't suppose you went to Edinburgh University with Gordon Brebner as the lecturer?...

No, no, no! Disco joke hit bum note in the rehab center


Re: poor taste

Cutting Crew - I Just Died In Your Arms Tonight

The Verve - The Drugs Don't Work


Re: So the system didn't cut the ringtone when the phone was picked up

I'd imagine it was a skeuomorphism. In old-skool phones, picking up the phone didn't result in instant silence, the literal bell continued to be heard reverberating. Similarly if I think back to the DTMF touch tone ones that replaced them continued to play the whole ring after the phone was picked up. Either for simplistic design, or because an interrupted ring sounded discombobulating.

BT confirms it's switching off 3G in UK from Jan next year


Vodafone 5G premium

"Switching 3G off to make room for 5G". The implication being if you live in a 3G only service area, it will be replaced with a nice shiny 5G service.

Thankfully, Vodafone will charge you an extra 10% for an equivalent 5G compatible contract (£30 a month SIM only for "Unlimited", £33 a month for "Unlimited Max" which is the same plan but "includes 5G at no extra cost"... except for the £3).

Best I can tell, the rest don't charge more for 5G.

Scared of flying? Good news! Software glitches keep aircraft on the ground


Re: At least three systems are required

It meets *a* spec. Just not yours.

Apple races to patch the latest zero-day iPhone exploit


Re: This was patched yesterday

Not to be that other guy...

"Apple moved swiftly, assigning two CVEs to the exploit chain – CVE-2023-41064 and CVE-2023-41061 – and issuing updates for iOS and iPadOS"

"As for the latest exploits, the advice is to update your iOS and iPadOS devices immediately"

And despite all that, it was a zero-day exploit discovered in the wild. So still newsworthy, and a prompt reminder to patch. Despite having auto-updates on, mine hadn't done it yet - just done it manually.

We all scream for ice cream – so why are McDonald's machines always broken?


I think that's the same with everything though. I had caused to repair my dishwasher (new heater) and washing machine (drain pump) in the last month and sourced the appropriate spare parts. The heater was only £30, and the drain pump £58, so both economical repairs, but at some point it won't be. If I were to build either machine using entirely spare parts, it would be more than double the cost of the same machine at retail.

The whole "right to repair" movement is a great step for the IT industry, but I think it's going to be shocking what the prices being charged for components will be. A new hinge for a laptop being £30 for example.


Just found the original.. Basically, McDonalds have locked the franchise owners into a single contract for repairs that are crippling high. They even stamped down on a company that was selling a tool (Kytch) to franchise owners to troubleshoot and fix the machines on their own. The whole story is pretty dark.



Yeah from memory of the original deep dive into the investigation of it, the same machine is used at other companies (Wendy's I think) and they don't have that problem. The suggest was that McDonalds don't clean or service their machines as rigorously as others might...

Farewell WordPad, we hardly knew ye


Re: slow transformation

I think it's fair to call that an exploitation of a bug. Or at least an unintended feature that MS have (so far) chosen not to close.

Every guide I've found to doing it doesn't come from Microsoft anyway, so it's fair to say it's unofficial.


Re: WordPad

You sir, have just reminded me of my only use case for WordPad. Bravo.

Computer graphics pioneer John Warnock dies at 82


On the plus side, I bet his obituary looks incredible across all platforms.

Sad times. I remember struggling through my dissertation laying it out in LaTex to generate a .ps version to submit (it was a Comp Sci degree, and part of the assignment detail). While it was an utter pain in the A to mark it up that way, I must admit that it looked beautiful once compiled.

Judge denies HP's plea to throw out all-in-one printer lockdown lawsuit


Re: I ditched HP printers

I had that for a while, but I got disillusioned by them for a couple of reasons:

1) I originally bought the printer because it came with "2 years of Instant Ink". What it actually came with was credit to a certain value, and then a year later they hiked the price of Instant Ink to the point the credit only lasted 15 months. So I threw my toys out the pram and stopped using it after that.

2) Their ink cartridges have a phenomenal habit of drying up and smearing to the point of not being usable, but the printer still shows it as having ink in it, so they won't replace the cartridge. It sort of died in that state in the end.


Re: I ditched HP printers

Similar approach to HP printers and Gilette razors - it's the continuing costs they're interested in and so they sell the actual products at a loss. Blink cameras (now part of Amazon) are exactly the same.


Re: I ditched HP printers

But... but... but.. then you won't be able to print from the internet!!

Granted, I've never fathomed a use case where I would ever need to do that, but hey... HP think there's one...


Yes but faxes on AIO devices are often done from a host PC which can receive a digital confirmation. And none of the standalone fax machines I've used in the last century refused to fax due to an inability to print a confirmation report - they've just queued the reports until they were ready.

The choice: Pay BT megabucks, or do something a bit illegal. OK, that’s no choice


"Another reader, who we’ll call “Brad”, told us about the time he was given just the weekend to migrate data from one datacenter to another in a adjacent building. We thought and thought but couldn't really come up with a good way to do this, until one of our engineers suggested we run fibre between the two buildings – through the parking garage that linked the two?”

I'm thinking a bunch of disks and a sneakernet might have been simpler and with similar bandwidth (but not necessarily the same levels of latency)


Re: 100m goes a long way

" It did take a few attempts of swinging the bob to reach some fireplaces because of oddly shaped flues but they got there in the end."

Poor Bob...


Prices of gallium and germanium rise as China export controls loom


Indeed. Almost as if trade wars have operated in this manner for decades.

Linux lover consumed a quarter of the network


Re: Wi-Fi to the rescue or not

I remember when irDA was similarly used as a terrific way to share stuff between Thinkpads and Nokia 8310s - from memory it was 50-100Kbps between devices which was good enough. I even remember "free" (but slow as hell) data over GPRS because the mobile companies hadn't really figured out how to monetise it or prevent what was effectively pairing.

Microsoft promises to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for next decade. Sony believes it


Re: Choice..

Cool, an interesting point of view I hadn't considered and I genuinely appreciate you sharing it :-)

I guess I just have an inherit distrust of Microsoft having seen them screw things up time and again. Just today, they moved the nav-pane on Outlook at work and moving it back was not the most obvious or straightforward thing to do - and made my think it was a temporary reprieve. I'm sure they have their reasons, but on my screen it created a load of vertical white space. And this is the least of their transgressions.



"Microsoft, however, disagreed and claimed the acquisition would give players more choice"

I'm... not sure I follow the logic of that statement.

Someone just blew over $190k on a 4GB first-gen iPhone


I don't think anyone would doubt that. It was a sales pitch and demo, and remember it was beaming live to the large screens behind him, before iPhones were capable of doing that (from memory anyway). We've seen what happens when you trust "live" kit:



Re: I don’t think they understand

I suspect it would cost more than $190k to recommission the fab plants that created such an iPhone and reactivate the supply chains, so arguably this is a bargain from that perspective. And to be clear, it still wouldn't be an original iPhone.

Most rare items could easily be manufactured again. Star Wars toys, original Apple 1s, stamps, coins, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta. It wouldn't make the collections out there any more or less valuable.

Europe's Euclid telescope launches to figure out dark energy, the universe, and everything


Re: L2?

L2 is a very precise point where the gravity of earth and the sun cancel out. Problem is that point varies over time due to the tiny effects of the rest of the orbital systems (the moon, jupiter, mars, etc), so nothing stays *at* the L2 point, they orbit it. The orbits are also unstable and need station-keeping to ensure they stay there.

James Webb's L2 orbit varies by half a million kilometres for example. Gaia is also there, as was Herschel and a few others - the decommissioned ones get placed into a heliocentric orbit, however if they were to fail they would eventually fall back to Earth, but would take a number of years to do that.

There's a cool animated gif that shows the gravity wells and where you're balancing an object that demonstrates how unstable it is.


Now Apple takes a bite out of encryption-bypassing 'spy clause' in UK internet law


PGP exports

Ah, remember the crazy times in the 90s when exporting PGP was seen as a federal crime and Phil Zimmerman had to print the source code as a book to get around it? I'm glad those days are behind us...

Vodafone offers '5G Ultra' to users of very specific phones in very specific locations


I'd imagine that realistically it means that 4 people near each other can all get 50Mbps on a phone...

Or more realistically, that a hypothetical users in a test lab can get 200Mbps inside a faraday cage with a cell tower inside it.

US export ban drives prices of Nvidia's latest GPUs sky high in China


Re: the best bits of a tennis match

If $weather=="rain" then








BepiColombo probe turns to the dark side … of Mercury


"at night"

Given they're visiting the darkside of Mercury, I'm hoping that the boffins at the ESA turn to the hilarious postcards I remember seeing in the 80s/90s in various British holiday towns which were entirely black with the caption "Scarborough at night". What a merry jape.

It’s official: Vodafone and Three to tie the knot in the UK


Re: Will it really improve coverage?

I would say that I’ve had some real success with the new range of legal mast repeaters - one antennae on the roof, powered booster box and a mini mast inside the house. Absolute game changer for me.

Can noise-cancelling buds beat headphones? We spent 20 hours flying to find out


Re: How about

I've had it explained similarly, that the damage you've got in that frequency has resulted in your brain turning up the gain in that frequency to maximum as it can't believe there is nothing there.

I assumed losing hearing would be broadly just things getting quieter. I'm horrified to discover that it's actually a case of your imaginary background noise becoming too loud to hear things over.


Key observation

"I reminded myself that noise-canceling kit is poorly named – it really smears out some background noise, rather than canceling it entirely."

This sums up the industry in a nutshell. I don't seem to have much joy with noise cancelling, and I've used both the earbud and headphone version of Sony's XM4s which were generally deemed to be best in class a year or so ago. I was underwhelmed with both. They seem "ok" with static background noise, but introduce any dynamic sound and they collapse.

In a relatively quiet office, I found that the over-ear ones would actually enhance the sound of someone talking on the phone 3 desks away, to the point that I'd switch noise-cancelling off if there was anyone talking in the vicinity.

Caltech claims to have beamed energy to Earth from satellite


Re: I'm sure I'm missing something.

Your £5 solar panel only works in day time for a start.


Broadly speaking

If I point a torch at my solar powered calculator, can I claim the same experimental success? Because I did that in the 80s.

Cheapest, oldest, slowest part fixed very modern Mac


Re: Its always the simple things

There was a bit of a viral fact/video recently that started saying "the numbers on a toaster correspond to the number of minutes!" which wasn't entirely true. But the fact it wasn't true meant many people took that to mean "the dial isn't a timer". The scale isn't in minutes (it isn't anything really) and because it's a potentiometer/capacitor/transistor timer circuit, it's probably not entirely linear either. So it got a bit vague and confused recently.


Re: Its always the simple things

Toasters are rather ingenious actually. There isn't actually a latch as such, pulling the lever down energises an electromagnet that keeps the lever pulled down, along with the heating elements and some sort of timer. When the timer goes up, the power is interrupted, disengaging the electromagnet. No mechanical action involved (other than the spring).

So yes, probably not enough power getting to the toaster while the lights are on. Or worse, a miswired circuit that is returning a hot leg to the neutral of the toaster (giving 0v potential) - I've seen it happening on weird boiler installations and it's frightening.

First ever 64-bit version of Windows rediscovered … and a C compiler for it too



Love reading the linked articles, particularly this one from 1999 (the first Itanic reference) which is describing how Athlon isn't a threat to Intel. From memory, it was shortly after then that AMD dominated with their Athlon then Athlon XP processors, while Intel churned out the Pentium 4 and Pentium D, power hungry gigahertz chasing beasts that set Intel back until they launched the Core 2 Duo range.

Microsoft cries foul over UK gaming deal blocker but it's hard to feel sorry for them


"The European regulators are looking into how bundling Teams and OneDrive as practically compulsory components of Office and Windows might be distorting the market"

No sht. I don't think you even need the word "practically" in there. Teams and OneDrive seemingly reappear on every single new Windows 11 release.

Mars Helicopter completes 50th flight, 45 more than NASA planned


Re: Cool.

True. The space agencies are damned both ways though - build it the way they have, they get accused of overengineering it. Build it to a lower MTBF and the number of failures goes up and they get slaughtered for the failures. :-|


Re: Cool.

I've commented this before in the past, but more likely:

"How do we design it to ensure it will *definitely* last 5 flights?"

"By designing it to probably last 50 flights."

Same for every mission or product that has to definitively last a set amount of time.

NASA fixes solar observation spacecraft by turning it off and turning it on again


Re: Does it involve a long paperclip?

It's presumably why they waited until "the craft's orbit reached its closest point to Earth".

I was slightly bemused by the thought of an "external reset" too.

Backup tech felt the need – the need for speed. And pastries and Tomb Raider


Re: Formatting DVDs?

Yeah very expensive, to the point I only ever used the one that came free (must say, I found it recently and 20 years later it was perfectly serviceable). They *should* have been compatible with every drive, but often their reflectiveness was slightly weaker and so some drives didn't cope very well. Similar to early CDRW discs wouldn't always play accurately in players (cars were often the most temperamental).

They also remained very slow. I never saw a faster disc than 2-3x speed.


Re: Formatting DVDs?

DVD-RAM discs/drives could exist in and outside of caddies (cartridges they were called), primarily to make them more rugged for appliances like camcorders etc. I remember them from the school library.


Re: Formatting DVDs?

DVD-RAM was a weird one. It definitely needed pre-formatting (have a look at the wiki page to see the “pattern” that identified a disc) and it was slooooow, but handily it presented itself like a normal hard drive.

I only came across them a few times (one was supplied with my early burners that supported all 5 formats - remember the -R +R -RW +RW format wars?). They were useful but from memory they don’t work particularly well in regular DVD drives.


To be fair, part of the process was verifying each disc after it was burned. Verifying next week was an additional measure.

NASA Geotail spacecraft's 30-year mission ends after last data recorder fails


Re: Say what you want about NASA's inefficiencies

It's more like "how do you guarantee something will *definitely* last 6 months?"

Answer: "by making it *probably* last 30 years"

I'd be more impressed if they could predictably make something last exactly 6 months.

Windows 10 paid downloads end but buyers need not fear ISO-lation


Re: Windows 7

Given it's a proper retail Windows 7 Pro key, it shouldn't be tied to a specific hardware spec, although it's unclear to me whether the associated Windows 10 "key" (is it a separate key?) is locked to the machine or whether the original key is now just recognised as a Win 10 key as well as Win 7. Microsoft are deliberately vague on the matter it seems.

:edit: having said that, this seems "official"..



Windows 7

From memory, my version of Windows 10 (pro) is using my old Windows 7 Pro licence key (that came with a physical dvd - imagine!) that Microsoft allowed me to upgrade. Haven't rebuilt that machine in quite some time, but it's really not clear to me whether it would still allow me to activate a fresh Win10 installation on using that key... Sadly/thankfully, Windows 11 isn't available as an upgrade, due to my machine not having access to TPM2 - mainly because I disabled it as a handy way of preventing Microsoft "accidentally" upgrading me.