* Posts by /dev/null

362 publicly visible posts • joined 11 Jun 2009


Don't say Pentium or Celeron anymore, it's just Processor now, says Intel


Re: This isn't surprising

I always considered “x64” to be shorthand for “{AMD,Intel }64”. Come to think of it, do Intel still call their AMD64 homage “Intel 64”, or do they have a new name for that too?

Not just deprecated, but deleted: Google finally strips File Transfer Protocol code from Chrome browser


50 years ago?

Internet FTP, ie. FTP over TCP, was first defined in RFC765, published June 1980. The first RFC describing a file transfer protocol was RFC114, which was indeed about 50 years ago. However that was an ARPANET protocol and really quite different to the protocol described in RFC765.

Sir Clive Sinclair: Personal computing pioneer missed out on being Britain's Steve Jobs


Bye-bye Uncle Clive.

Another one of the ZX Spectrum generation here. A ZX Spectrum 48K was my Xmas pressie in 1983, followed by an Alphacom 32 printer the following year, then a ZX Expansion System (Microdrive bundle), then a QL (after Amstrad reduced them to get rid of them). Knew of Sinclair some time before that though - my dad had previously bought an Oxford calculator (also reduced to clear, ISTR). One of the LED segments died, and when he sent it off to get fixed he got a Sinclair Enterprise as a replacement (which I still have). Three years after unboxing that Spectrum I had decided to study computer science at uni. Still not sure if that was a good move ;-)

The Spectrum was definitely a product in the right place at the right time - just enough capability for decently playable games, and significantly cheaper than the competition.

I suppose Clive's approach to product development could be summed up as an obsession with cutting corners, bending rules and taking unorthodox approaches (e.g the ZX Printer, Microdrives, weird keyboards, right-angled CRTs...), all to cut costs to achieve attractive price points. For instance, the serial ports on the QL are an astonishing feat of bodgery, just to avoid using conventional UARTs.

Of course, in the fast-moving days of the 1980s, sometimes the mainstream technologies would catch up pricewise by the time Clive's alternatives hit the streets...

The Register just found 300-odd Itanium CPUs on eBay



Not sure why the author starts off talking about minicomputers - the minicomputer architectures of Prime, DG etc were already old hat by the mid-90s - what Intel was trying to kill with Itanium were the proprietary *microprocessor* architectures of the Unix workstation/server vendors like Sun (SPARC), SGI (MIPS), DEC/Compaq (Alpha) and IBM (POWER). These were not “minicomputers”. To some extent, then, it was a success, as it did indeed kill off MIPS (as a mainstream architecture, it of course lived on in the embedded world) and Alpha. Even Sun and IBM hedged their bets at one point with OS ports to Itanium.

Microsoft takes us to 2004 with new Windows 10 so you don't mistake it for Server 2003


"Windows 10.n" where n is a monotonically-increasing positive integer works for me, and would avoid this silly ambiguity nonsense. But proper understandable version numbers seem to be out of fashion at Microsoft.

Beware the trainee with time on his hands and an Acorn manual on his desk


Re: Ah the good old days

Don't forget Tangerine either.

Boffins blow hot and cold over li-ion battery that can cut leccy car recharging to '10 mins'


"1 litre of petrol is equivalent to 10kWh. So that means the petrol pump is equivalent to a 30MW supply. That is the same capacity as 10,000 UK domestic 13A plugs."

It's interesting to compare the effective energy transfer rate of petrol pumps with EV chargers, but it has to be remembered that electric motors are maybe around 3 times more efficient than ICEs, so that has to be factored in too.

Of course the inefficiency of an ICE comes in very handy in the middle of winter where a continuous blast of "free" hot air out of the dashboard as you drive can be very welcome...

Orford Ness: Military secrets and unique wildlife on the remote Suffolk coast



Never seen it called that - more usually called NIVO ("Night Invisible Varnish Orfordness"). And it wasn't the RFC's original standard camouflage colour - that was P.C.10 (although whether that was actually green or brown has been debated...)

Allowlist, not whitelist. Blocklist, not blacklist. Goodbye, wtf. Microsoft scans Chromium code, lops off offensive words


I wonder...

I wonder if the function die_you_gravy_sucking_pig_dog() in shutdown.c from 4.3BSD-Reno onwards (and still there in FreeBSD today!) would pass this purity test or not?

IBM hears the RISC-V kids partying next door, decides it will make its Power CPU ISA free, too


"it's a RISC-like architecture that grew out of PowerPC"

No, PowerPC grew out of POWER.

First POWER implementation (POWER1) hit the market in 1990. First PowerPC systems (PowerPC 601) were released in 1993. The two have had a complex and intertwangled history since then though.

Another rewrite for 737 Max software as cosmic bit-flipping tests glitch out systems – report


Re: They probably wont all be called 737-8200....

The 737-8200 (aka 737 MAX 200) is indeed a custom high-capacity version of the 737 MAX 8 for Ryanair.

The boring non-marketing designations used in official documentation for the 737 MAX series have always been 737-7, 737-8, 737-9 and 737-10 (not to be confused with the previous-generation 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900 of course...).

Hell hath no fury like a radar engineer scorned


Re: 2.5MW

What the IWM page doesn't tell you is that the AN/APS-20 radars (developed during WW2) were passed on in British service from Skyraider to Gannet to Shackleton, and were still being used right up to the retirement of the Shackleton AEW.2 in 1991!

Intel to finally scatter remaining ashes of Itanium to the wind in 2021: Final call for doomed server CPU line


"DEC/HP were merging and in the process killing of PA/RISC and Alpha development"

Um, no, Compaq (remember them?) decided to can Alpha in favour of Itanium before they merged with HP.

HP started the VLIW research project intended to produce a follow-on to PA-RISC in 1989. That later became Itanium, after they partnered up with Intel.

Apple hardware priced so high that no one wants to buy it? It's 1983 all over again


Re: What about the NeXT?

Actually, the NeXT Computer was launched less than six years after the Lisa. I suppose six years was a long time in the computer business back then...

Say what you will about self-driving cars – the security is looking 'OK'


Re: "Audi’s forthcoming computer-controlled motor"

No electric Audis? I'm afraid your informant is sadly misinformed. See here.


Re: Entertainment systems...

But generally, nowadays, cars have integrated infotainment systems, which do.

Heads up: Fujitsu tips its hand to reveal exascale Arm supercomputer processor – the A64FX


Re: Why no ARM servers?

Common boot framework? You mean like ARM's Server Base Boot Requirements spec?

ZX Spectrum Vega+ blows a FUSE: It runs open-source emulator


Every game bundled ... appears to have been written by one Jonathan Cauldwell...

And he didn't start writing Speccy games until 1989, when the ZX Spectrum was verging on "retro" already...

ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball


Re: What we need

It's a long time ago now, but, IIRC, one big difference between the 6502 and Z80 was that the 6502 was pipelined, but the Z80 wasn't, so even a NOP took four clock cycles on the Z80.

Uh-oh-oh-oh-oh. Now hounds of storage are hunting – run if you know what's good for ya


Nice Kate Bush reference there in the title, on the day after her 60th(!) birthday.

Sysadmin sank IBM mainframe by going one VM too deep


Octothorpe / pound sign / hash / chess checkmate symbol etc etc...

Not to mention "medical shorthand symbol for a fracture".

Chrome sends old Macs on permanent Safari: Browser bricks itself


Switched to Safari

I switched to Safari on my MacBook some time ago after I got pissed off at the main Chrome process (not one of the worker processes) persistently burning lots of CPU time for no good reason. Conveniently, I found a script to reopen current Chrome tabs in Safari, which avoided manually recreating the dozens of tabs over half-a-dozen windows I perpetually have open :-). Only things I really miss are favicons and being able to pin tabs in one window only (not in every window as Safari does).

At last! Apple admits its MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards utterly suck, offers free replacements


To be pedantic, it was late 1983 before the ZX Interface 1 and ZX Microdrive started shipping, but I like your analogy.

Sysadmin hailed as hero for deleting data from the wrong disk drive


Re: Personal Tragedy

If you're using a proper camera with removable card storage, there is a simple way to do photo backups. When the card gets full, stick a new one in and put the old one somewhere safe. SD cards are cheap enough nowadays to consider them as write-once media and they certainly don't take up much space!

'I crashed AOL for 19 hours and messed up global email for a week'


Re: Dig

I still have a bag of cover-mount floppies and CDs from 1990s computer mags, mainly because I've never found a good way to recycle them. Alas, I have plenty real coasters and no need for bird-scarers,

Torvalds schedules Linux kernel 5.0, then maybe delays 'meaningless' release


Re: A new scheme?

That occurred to me back in the days when the Linux roadmap seemed to suggest that the version number would be stuck at 2.6.x forever. In that case, why not just drop the "2.6", just like GNU Emacs 13 or Java 5. But then, I didn't expect he'd come up with the genius idea of bumping the major version number for no good reason at all....

Google's not-Linux OS documentation cracks box open at last


Re: Operating sytems introducing new looping techique.

32-bit handles, not pointers. So a limitation of 2^32 objects, not bytes.

There are 10 types of people in the world, but there is only one Melvyn


Re: If you press litmus paper to Jim Al-Khalili, does it go blue?

And not forgetting the great stuff Neil MacGregor's done on R4 too (A History of the World in 100 Objects, Germany: Memories of a Nation etc).

It's Pi day: Care to stuff a brand new Raspberry one in your wallet?


Re: Dates

In fact, YYYY-MM-DD is so fabulous and sensible, it's enshrined in an ISO standard - ISO 8601 to be precise.

Apple's new 'spaceship' HQ brings the pane for unobservant workers



Finally, a use for all those little Apple logo stickers they ship with every product....

10 PRINT "ZX81 at 37" 20 GOTO 10


RAM pack wobble

I believe the root cause of the the dreaded wobble was that Sinclair re-used a RAM pack casing design intended for the ZX80 (which had a flat, vertical rear surface for the pack to butt up against) for the ZX81 (which didn't). See Rick Dickinson's sketch of his intended ZX81 RAM pack in his fascinating (if you're an old Sinclair nerd) Sinclair design archives on Flickr.

Good luck saying 'Sorry I'm late, I had to update my car's firmware'


"making sure failed updates are reversible but successful ones are not"

But what if your successful update has successfully updated your firmware to a version that doesn't work as well as the previous one and you want to revert?

Windows slithers on to Arm, legless?


Re: Suez?

Don't forget that Suez was a joint Franco-British-Israeli operation; it wasn't just a unilateral British intervention. It also led to France falling out with the USA and withdrawing military cooperation with NATO.

It's official: .corp, .home, .mail will never be top-level domains on the 'net


Re: .int

As do about 165 other organisations:

List of organizations with .int domain names


Never been a fan of made-up pseudo-TLDs for intranet purposes. One company I used to work for used intra.<company>.com as their intranet domain, where the "intra" subdomain only existed internally. Seemed to work quite well.

Ex-Chipzilla exec Arms biz to SoC it to Intel in the data centre


PCIe 3.0? USB 2.0? Showing its age there!

Ghost in the DCL shell: OpenVMS, touted as ultra reliable, had a local root hole for 30 years


Re: Wasn't VMS...

NT was certainly intended to be portable from the start, but the first architectures it ran on were Intel i860 and MIPS, using Microsoft home-brewed hardware, to avoid falling into x86-centric habits. x86 support came later, then Alpha.

F-35 flight tests are being delayed by onboard software snafus


Re: "restart the supersonic harrier programme.."

Yes, history repeats itself.... in fact the supersonic Harrier programme (P.1154) collapsed because it was meant to be both a fighter for the Navy and a bomber for the RAF (like the F-35) and they couldn't reconcile that. Of course, in those days the Navy had full-size carriers with steam catapults, so they went with the F-4 Phantom II instead (not the F-111, that was what was supposed to substitute for the TSR2), as did the RAF, with the subsonic Harrier as a consolation prize.

Once again, UK doesn't rule out buying F-35A fighter jets


Re: Sea Hornets

Sea Hornets would, I'm sure, be much cheaper, but who builds aircraft out of balsa and plywood these days...?


Why? Because F-35As can fly further, carry more ordnance, and are about $28m cheaper than an F-35B, since they don't have a lift fan and associated impedimenta. Given that F-35s of some description will be the de facto replacement for the RAF's Tornado GR.4s, in addition to their original task of replacing Joint Force Harrier (now just a distant memory), the F-35A is probably the most appropriate variant to do that, since no Tornado squadron has ever been expected to fly off an aircraft carrier.

Oh and in the good old days of the Sea Harrier, the RN only had three squadrons (and one of those was a land-based HQ/training squadron) for their fleet of three aircraft carriers...

Tom Baker returns to finish shelved Doctor Who episodes penned by Douglas Adams


Re: Stephen Mangan

Nah, the original Dirk Gently, Michael Bywater, was closer to the one I imagined....

Windows on ARM: It's nearly here (again)


Alpha, MIPS, PA RISC, and PowerPC

Don't recall an NT port to PA-RISC, at least not one that was publicly announced. OTOH there were Itanic releases of XP and Server 2003/2008.

Red Hat opens its ARMs to Enterprise Linux... er, wait, perhaps it's the other way round


Re: Meh.

This isn't just "ARM". In order to compete with Wintel in the server space, ARM have now defined (and are in fact still working on) various specs (SBSA, SBBR), which describe a common 64-bit ARM server system architecture in (hopefully) enough detail that OSs such as RHELSA will Just Work on a variety of different hardware vendors' offerings.

Unfortunately, this means the dreaded ACPI has now spread to ARM systems, but if that's what it takes, then...

Look, ma! No hands! Waymo to test true self-driving cars in US with Uber-style hailing app


"... instead, it's hoped, the code will take care of such situations automatically"

I think we need more than just hope here. What if it doesn't? Will it slam on the brakes wherever the car might be, say, in the outside lane of a busy motorway? Then what? Wait for someone to turn it off and turn it on again?

Subsidy-guzzling Tesla's Model 3 volumes a huge problem – Wall St man


Re: Musk, the new Jobs?

"I've had a Leaf for two years....... but it does what it says on the tin."

It leafs?

It leaves, surely?

Car insurers recoil in horror from paying auto autos' speeding fines


Re: Blimey people, it's just electricity. It's not exactly a new problem.

Yes, but it's how much electricity that's the problem. If you want to fully charge an electric car with a a range comparable to an ICE-powered car in, say, half an hour, (so, a power requirement on the order of 200kW) then that's equivalent to about 8 substantial houses all on the point of popping the master fuse on their mains supply. For one car.


The only emissions tests in an MoT test are for CO and hydrocarbons, there's nothing about CO2 or NOx.

Ghost in Musk's machines: Software bugs' autonomous joy ride


Can't see it ever happening...

...until you can trust a self-driving car not to say "you have control", when it decides it has no idea what is going on and you're 2 seconds away from colliding with something. And if you can't trust it not to do that, then you might as well drive the damn thing yourself.

Snap, crackle ... patch! Apple kicks out iOS 11.0.2 to tackle crappy calls, fix email glitches


If you look at the release history of iOS, patch releases a matter of days or weeks after a major feature release is very much par for the course. It's an Apple tradition now.

At last, someone's taking Apple to task for, uh, not turning on iPhone FM radio chips


Think of the marketing...

TBH, I can't imagine any smartphone marketing person getting very enthusiastic these days about a new feature that turns your super-retina displaying, 3D-face-recognizing, animoji-capable, machine-learning, augmented-reality-projecting smartphone into a pocket tranny from the 1950s.