* Posts by deshepherd

252 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Jun 2009


Retro Microlympics concludes with possible reopening dates for UK computer museums


Re: Elite

The main limitations of Elite wasn't just the 100kB floppy (actually, most people played the game off casettes) but that the BBC model B "only" had 32kB of memory (actually, that was huge at the time) shared between program and the mem for the display. The highest resolution "mode0" graphics (640 x 256 B&W only) wanted for the front view window used 20kB of this so with other overheads in the RAM left not enough space for the program .... so they progammed a timer to generate an interrupt as the display process got half way through the screen and on the fly reprogrammed the graphics controller to switch to mode5 (160x256 4 colours) to have a coloured control panel/scanner - and as this mode used 10kB for a full screen the combination used 15kB (10kB for half a mode0 screen and 5kB for half a mode5 screen) which enabled the program code to have an extra 5kB! (Its incredible to remember quite how small the RAM was back then ... and how wasteful modern programming is able to be as it can assume that a PC has 8+GB of RAM and TBs of SSD/HDD!)


Re: Elite

I'm in the same boat/krait having reached Elite status but only getting the Deadly badge. IIRC there was a deadline for requesting the badge (application via post in those pre-internet days) and I ran out of time to get as far as Elite by the date. I also seem to recall that once getting to Elite things got a bit "samey" in the game ... I eventually hyperjumped through all 8 galaxies and returned to Sol and was a bit disappointed to find that this didn't trigger any special event! Anyway, by then I think Revs was beckoning

What bugs me the most? World+dog just accepts crap software resilience


Re: Sage

Think the same applies to all the major banks computing systems .... lots of decades old systems patched to add new features/cope with merging other banks after takeovers/etc which it seems only persist becuase of the very public examples of what happens when anyone tries to make any sigificant upgrade.

You must be yolking: English pub to launch eggstravagent Yorkshire pudding


I'm sure Cadbury's will be after them for patent infringement ... after all, they have prior art for surrounding the contents of a creme egg with a material that isn't Dairy Milk chocolate.

10 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10


Re: My tuppence

"Who counts chip cycles nowadays?"

Well, us proicessor designers are sadly still obsessed by the number of cycles in a Dhrystone loop


Re: Still got my ZX-81 and fire it up occasionally for old times sake.

Same happened to me a couple of years back when I was a Scout Leader and we decided to have a computer games night and my demo of historical computer gaing on the BBC B ended in a suitably dramatic "pop" and white smoke halfway through the evening!


Re: BBC Basic

I suspect upper case may have been a BBC requirement as they wanted it to look like other Basic's of the day.Had it not been for then I think "Acorn Basic" was going to ditch line numbers and use labels which would only be needed for GOTO/GOSUB targets.


Re: 3D Monster Maze

... and looks like a sucessor of Minotaur for Acorn Atom - which according to the interwebs is a game wot I wrote. I worked at Acorn in the year before University and I think this was one of the items I ended up as author because I was the last person to work on them. Think on this I took what was an exisitng 3d maze program and added the "move the gold bars to the safe while being chased by the minotaur" bit. Anyway, it appears I may need to add "inventor of the 3D FPS game genre" to my CV!

Boring. The phone business has lost the plot and Google is making it worse


"Boring. The phone business has lost the plot and Google is making it worse"

.... don't give Elon Muisk any ideas - otherwise he'll advertise "The Boring Phone form the Boring Company" and doubtless sell 1000s of bog-standard android phones for iphone prices!

PDP-10 enthusiasts resurrect ancient MIT operating system


Re: PDP-10, PDP-11

Went to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View in October and opposite the PDP-11 exhibit I saw there was a Data General Nova and I suffered a wave of nostalgia (first computer I used - we had one at school) ... had to resist the strong temptation to play with the front panel switches - at one time I knew the bootstrap code form memory ... though the full trip down memory lane would need several shelves of fanfold paper tape needed to for a OS reintsall onto the amazing large (?5MB) Diablo disk drive

Sinclair fans rejoice: ZX Spectrum Vega+ to launch October 20


Re: Hmmmm...

Elite, Eliter, Elitest?

Arthur C Clarke award won by Adrian Tchaikovsky


Re: Talking spiders in Rama sequels

Was thinking the same .... the spiders are mainly in the later books of the series where ACC was a co-author - Rendez-vous with Rama is a good read, next one is ok as well but series definitely tails off towards the end. I read the whole series after buying it as a bundle for my Kindle and towards the end it defintely felt like reading was a case of "I've started so I'll finish" ... I'm currently feeling much the same reading the last book in Game of Thrones ... with the added incentive that if I finish before book 6 comes out then maybe I won't feel "obliged" to read it.

Viscous liquid oozing down the walls? You must have hives


IT angle

Were they running BeOS?

We're calling it: World hits peak Namey McNameface


Maybe time to revert to usenet and move discussions to alt.boaty.mcboatface.die.die.die

Wasps force two passenger jets into emergency landings


One of my sons is an avid watcher of "Air crash investigation" on NatGeo ... and I'm pretty sure one of the episodes he was watching involved a fatal crash where eventually they found the cause was incorrect air speed readings due to something like this.

It's World IP Day! Celebrate by making money from a dead teenager


Re: Absurd(™)

Your comment is almost as absurd as the Lego catalog from a few years ago when they were majoring on Star Wars sets and it seemed almost every word (and all character names ... apart from, for some reason, Han Solo) were adorned by a ™ symbol. Left a big question as why uniquely it seemed LucasFilms had either chosen not to or more likely had been unable to trademark "Han Solo"

Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods


Current loads of sites have a "we use cookies to improve your browsing experience - if you continue using this site the you agree that we can do this" and then they can add a cookie to say that you've agreed. Can't they just chnage this to "we use cookies and may examine you settings to improve your browising experience - if you continue to use this site you agree we can do this" and then they can add a cookie to say that you agree at which point they can then look at your settings. So, they probably can't block you on your first page visit.

However, there's a further twist I've just thought of - if sites rely on a cookie to say whether you've agreed to cookies then can they now legally ask if you've got that cookie because if you haven't agreed and don't have they cookie then they aren't allowed to ask. Hence its possibly illegal for a web site to ask if you've agreed to cookie (unless they store the info themselves which leads to a whole extra level of tracking)

NASA saves Kepler space 'scope by turning it off and on again


Re: If cycling power doesn't work...

As opposed to the Acorn Atom where the rule was take the back off and push all the chips back in - Atom was single board with keyboard on one side and all chips hanging from sockets underneath and could slowly work loose as you typed. The Atom also came as a "Build-yourself" kit and one of the computer mags at the time printed a set of helpful tips for people doing this which included "if you are finding it hard to push the chips into sockets try loosening the socket first with a pin" .... sadly some people rather overdid this - had no problems putting chips in sockets but when they finished and turned the board over they'd all fall out!

Google HQ evacuated


Re: Obligatory...

Law enforcement added that there were too many search results to investigate so, on advice from a retired cop in LA, they'd asked Google if they were feeling lucky

Going on a thin client diet


Re: I remember terminal emulators... the mother of all "thin clients"...

"and I remember terminals themselves ... :-p"

terminals - luxury - I remember teletypes (and front panel switches!)

Google risks everything if it doesn’t grab Android round the throat


Re: So why did it sell Motorola?

"Amusingly coincidental timing - my Motorola G (2nd gen, so at least one HW rev behind) got 6.0 update yesterday."

The real test is if you also start getting the monthly security updates.

Cache-astrophic: Why Valve's Steam store spewed players' private profiles to strangers


Re: Good idea.

"I'm glad it wasn't just me. I got a nice shiny XB1 off the Missus and it took me about 90 mins to download the patches and fixes for the 2 games I'd asked for! "

Worsefor me ... my son's Xbox came with FIFA16 via download + XB1 upgrades + Battlefront upgrade and to cap it all we couldn't get wired network to work so had to revert to the marginal Wifi connection (which is why I switched it to powerline for the games console some time ago). Result was son + friends got bored of waiting and connected PS3 up again! Discovered later that a cheap ethernet switch that was on the part of our LAN that connects to the powerline part of the network had chosed Christmas day to die .... fortunately I had a spare available plus an excuse to upgrade that bit to gigabit!

Remember Windows 1.0? It's been 30 years (and you're officially old)


> Well, I've only seen pictures of Windows 1.0 - So I feel young this morning.

I actually used (or tried to use) Windows 1 at work ... and remember the "novelty" of overlapping widnows in win2.

> I do remember having to replace DR-DOS 5 with MS-DOS 6 in order to try out Win 3.1.1

> while at college - and now I've made myself feel old again..

yes, also remember thinking I'd need to move from DRDOS6 to MSDOS if I wanted to use Win3 on my home machine ... but decided that due to this added cost I'd switch to OS/2 2.0 instead as "OS/2 was the future" (and to follow up someone else comment - I also have several stacks of 20+ floopies from, various versions of OS/2!).N.b. the DRDOS/Win3 incompatibility was the old-MS at its worst - refused to allow DR (as a rival) to have pre-release access to win3 and then used an undocumented response from some DOS command to cause it to crash on DRDOS - DR could fix this triviallty but couldn't report this until they were officially allowed to access win3 after launch - hence several weeks/months of "the new win3 looks great ... but not if you're running DRDOS" articles in the press.

Anywaym this means I'm definitely in the "feeling old" camp ... may even start reminiscing about loading bootstraps using front panel switches and stackes of fanfold paper tape if I'm not carefull!

Space fans eye launch of Lego Saturn V


Re: I'd have that

Glad I'm not the only person who immediately had nostaligic thoughts about the Airfix Saturn V ... I had two of them!

Bookworms' Weston mecca: The Oxford institution with a Swindon secret


Re: Very interesting.

Open to the public? You mean people who have not sworn an oath not to kindle fire (hmm wonder if the Bodlean should send a trademark dispute to Amazon!) in the library - I expect the library in Alexandria did the same and look what happened there

Boffins unveil open source GPU


Re: Kitten Kong?

That's because the BBC don't show repeats of "The Goodies" ... though, I think I heard Tim Brooke-Taylor saying once or twice that they are now available on DVDs (including the "infamous" Apartheight episode that was banned for rebroadcast in case it upset the South African authorities)

Citizens denied chance to vote in local-government IT cockup


Polling card is effectively just a reminder of where you are meant to vote and also gives you a number which (a) may make it quicker for them to find you on the list at the polling stations and (b) will make the party reps outside happy if it helps them tick off another one of "their votes" from their canvass reports and avoid them going to knock on your door later to make sure they've got their vote out! The only official statement of whether you have a vote is the roll that they cross your name off in the polling station.

WIN a RockBLOCK Mk2 Iridium sat comms unit



About time we got self-referential about all these names so time for

Yet Another Witty Name

Marconi: The West of England's very own Italian wireless pioneer


For old school wired communication then go to nearby Porthcurno - see the hut there where the cables from all over the empire came ashore in the UK and there is an interesting museum there as well (plus non techies can go to see the Minnack theatre at the same time!)

Also there used to be a visitor centre at Goonhilly to cover the wizzy new satelite comms which I remember occupying a wet day on a family holiday a few years ago but that subsequently closed.

Drunk on Friday night? Then YOU probably DIDN'T spot Facebook's privacy tweak


Re: Please, do explain

What photo? ... adblock is not just for ads!

Man trousers $15,000 domain name for $10.99 amid registry cockup


Is ifyoulikealotofchocolateonyourbiscuitjoina.club still available?

Fancy a .trust domain? How's $150,000 sound?


Re: The Lads from Lagos...

... but their bank account has been frozen so can someone please send them their bank account details as they can send payment via your account plus they'll leave an extra $150k in your account as a thank you

El Reg Redesign - leave your comment here.


Re: Some thoughts

> 3, Just put it back to the way it was before

or just addd www.theregister.co.uk/classic

Countdown contestant pays homage to IT Crowd's Moss


Re: Word rejected by Collins' dictionary

> Parsons Green - I think that's allowed isn't it?

Not when you're in nip (remember the paralllel diagonals)

There it is! Philae comet lander found in existing Rosetta PICS


Re: Next time, Gadget, next time!

Landing a failure? As you say the scientist seem to have got what they wanted (seems that it was planned that they would have enough time on battery power to do the important science stuff) ... and if it had landed better and got solar power to charge the batteries we doubtless end up with the opportunity style articles along the lines of "lander only designed to work for 60 hours still working after 3 months"

Official: Turing's Bombe better than a Concorde plane


Re: Great stuff.

Concorde at Yeovilton is one of the two preproduction prototypes and as such the "passengers" would be likely to be merely engineers hence no need for anything more than a primitive interior!

Brace yourself for a 12-inch Apple maxiPAD – probably... maybe... ish


It's been way too long? Clearly apple are going to announce a new range of headphones ..... with shorter cables!

Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey


Re: No surprise here

Want to use the tube? I think back in the days of tickets then that would have had some comment about T&C's that applied. You probably have to tick a box to get an Oyster card but not sure how they do it in the brave new bonk to pay world!



Sound similar to the way that French bureaucracy scuppered James May's plans to fly a "toy" glider across the English channel.

Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE


Didn't apple patent a mechanisation to allow some form of location based disabling of phone cameras? Seem to recall this sort of situation was the example of when it could be used

Totes AMAZEBALLS! Side boob, binge-watch and clickbait added to Oxford Dictionary


Re: Eh?

Reminds me of one when I was in Germany I went to buy a train ticket and my attempt at German was clearly too good as I got a long question in German back. Turned out that it was asking if I was coming back that day (which was a Sunday) as if so I could get a


The German space character shortage continues!

Brit kids match 45-year-old fogies' tech skill level by the age of 6


6 year olds may have the same tech skills as a 45 year old but, from bitter experience, that doesn't mean they can understand that "Granny's TV doesn't have a pause button like ours does". Was a bit of a revelation to realise that our younger son who had grown up with TiVo had no comprehension of what " live TV" was!

Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade


Re: firefox ESR updated too

Hadn't heard of ESR before so looked it up. Seems like they are about to switch the ESR base version from v24 to v31 so when main version gets to v33 the ESR version will switch to the new UI ... prepare to be assimilated!

Google wearables: A solution looking for a rich nerd


Re: What's the big deal with charging every day?

Is charging every day really a deal breaker?

Depends how its done ... if you have to flick a rubber cover off a microUSB port and then plug in a connector (having remembered which way up to do it) etc then its a bit of a pain. If its just a matter of putting the device down on a wireless recharging pad overnight then its not. I've had a Nexus 5 since a few weeks after launch and I bought a Qi charging pad very quickly - sits by my bed and stick N5 on it each night and the full charge in the morning lasts me all the next day. I'm sure for a watch it will be simple to come up with a simple wireless charging device that you place the watch on every night. So in reality charging every day is probably not an issue - in reality if it last more than a day then its got to last almost indefinitely to avoid the unexpeted "out of power" events.

BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!


No mention of the "Giant flying pliers" that "menace West Bromwich" (hint, it's in the register)

Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?


Re: Two way adapters

What- you don't get "I haven't touched it." Even if if you saw her with it?

I just get the oh-so-helpful "well, I haven't thrown it out so it will be in the house somewhere"


There's a Simpsons quote for this

Homer: We'll search out every place a sick twisted solitary misfit might run to.

Lisa: I'll start with Radio Shack.

Massive new AIRSHIP to enter commercial service at British dirigible base


Had an item about this on R4 Today program last week. The person reporting it tried to describe the shape and how and how it didn't look like an old style "zeppelin" airship - he then interviewed Bruce Dickinson and Bruce started off pointing out that the best way to describe the shape to "someone of my age is that its basically Thunderbird 2"!

Nb discovered a few years ago that I was at school with Bruce Dickinson ... I studied hard and now work in electronics ... he got expelled so I assume he never achieved much!

Sandisk breaks 128GB barrier with new $199 MICROSD card


Re: Is it just me?

It is ever the case that the newest and biggest initially commands a premium price. There are those that just have to have it (or convince themselves that they do) and it is only after this market starts dying down that the price adjusts down to mass market levels.

Yes ... I bought a 16GB and then a 32GB uSD card at the point I felt they were "affordable" when they'd come down to the ~£30 mark since I felt I needed the extra space each time (alternatively since I couldn't be bothered to sort out what I could delete from my previous smaller uSD card!) but I did so knowing that a few months later that £30 uSD card would be ~£15 and some more months down the line it would be a £10 commodity item.