* Posts by marschw

14 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Jun 2009

Nintendo 3DS bothers Brits about blinkers


The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Yes, but it asked you at every boot whether you wanted to disable it.

The cost of beating Apple's shrewd screws? £2



People used to make slotted Torx screwdrivers by heating up the tail end of a cheap ballpoint pen until it started to melt, then pressing it against the head of the screw until it cooled. I assume this still works with Pentalobe.

Gates, Woz, and the last 2,000 years of computing


Went there yesterday

I went to the exhibit yesterday, and it was pretty good. The most striking point for me was how many huge bundles of hand-done wiring were in a lot of the old systems. It seems failure-prone and virtually impossible to debug.

For example, the computer-guidance system of an early guided missile was on display, and it had great swathes of (perhaps 24ga) wire connected to what looked like punch-down blocks, of all things. There was a brown goop spread across the top of the punch-downs which would prevent the wire from coming all the way out, but would do nothing to prevent a punch from getting loose. And in an embedded system that's supposed to fly through the air, strapped to a rocket?? Something tells me vibration would be a major issue.

They also had a CPU module from the CRAY-3, which was a handsome piece of metalwork, with a similar abomination of loose wire sagging all over the place.

Seeing the pieces in person really helps you notice interesting little details. For instance, the SAGE missile defense systems had built-in cigarette lighters and ashtrays, presumably because the people tasked with worrying all day about Soviet ICBM attacks did a lot of smoking.

Unfortunately, the exhibit had a substantial emphasis on mechanical calculation devices, and early mechanical computers (abacuses to IBM punch card sorters, for example). Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not what I'm particularly interested in.

The section on video game consoles was particularly disappointing. There were some interesting early artifacts (e.g. a development prototype of the Atari VCS), but the things on display from about 1980 onward seemed like they had been selected more or less randomly. Does a copy of "Ready 2 Rumble Boxing" really belong in a museum, as one of the four game cases on display to represent the first PlayStation?

All in all, there seemed to be no concern about the significance or lessons to be learned from the consoles that they had on display. They had a TurboGrafx-16, but not the much more historically significant PC-Engine CD. They had no 3DO, no CD-I, no Virtual Boy, etc., etc., but they did have a gold-colored Bandai Pippin (why?). And the text alongside the exhibits in this section didn't do a good job of explaining the significance of what they did have on display.

The section on supercomputers and business workstations looked promising (e.g. they had the physical teapot that was used for all sorts of 3d demos), but the museum closed at 5, and I had run out of time.

I couldn't figure out the lobby tiles. They're not on a grid, so it seemed like a tape measure would be necessary to figure out how many bits and blanks there were in any given spot. And what do you do when the data is covered by one of the kiosks?

LOST Vulture One PARIS spaceplane FOUND!!!



I heard they faked the recovery on a sound stage. On Mars.

Angry Birds tweet fury at Redmond


Buying phones based on app availability

For those of you pointing out that your friend's friend's former roomate bought a phone because of app availability... The comment in the article about how customers don't generally buy phones based on app availability was probably a reference to this article:


Maybe the text should've been a link to it.

Mafia II


I'm guessing...

Those empty, pointless, but pretty parts of the city are probably for DLC missions. I'm guessing they made a full sandbox game, then pulled out all the side-quests in order to sell them separately. Otherwise, why would they have bothered to model such large navigable-but-unused parts of the city? (Instead of, say, putting a lake there). It might become a proper sandbox game after its price again in add-ons. I guess I'll have to wait and see.

That said, they really did do a great job with the ambiance -- it really felt like the times/places in question, for a variety of reasons: The music, especially (and the news reports that play from time to time on the radio, describing things like the progress of the war), as well as the clothing, the buildings, the voice acting, the slowness of the cars, etc.

Apple antenna guru 'warned Steve Jobs' over Judas Phone



Somebody should make an app that uses sudden signal degradation as a "button press". That is, you now have an extra button on the side of the phone. Let's make lemonade out of this, people!

BBC grabs stock photo of own building



I'm not sure if I remember right, but isn't the Getty text only in the unlicensed sample version of the photo? That is, once you pay for it, they give you a version that doesn't have that "GETTY IMAGES" across the bottom (thus, the photo in the screenshot wasn't licensed)?

That could also explain why it's changed now.

Google open sources $124.6m video codec


But is it any good...

Here's a pretty in-depth and lukewarm review of vp8, saying that its spec is basically a scaled-down h264, and the reference code is pretty amateur: http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=377

Of course, it's from someone who's spent a lot of time developing an h264 implementation, so take it with a grain of salt, but much of it does appear rather damning.

Aussie smoko-proofing drug prevents ill effects of cigs

Thumb Up

Bravo, Mr. Page

'Then all the mice were given "the equivalent of nine cigarettes of smoke each day for four days".

At the end of the test every single mouse was dead. However, this was simply because the boffins had killed them in order to examine their lungs.'

Some of the writing that makes me read the Reg.

Google Buzz bug exposes user geo location



"[...]and there are no indications the flaw has been exploited, he said."

Except, I assume it was exploited by TrainReq in order to report the vulnerability, so it's been exploited at least once. I mean, you need to know that it actually happens before you report it. So, in other words, there is a vulnerability, and Google thinks it hasn't been exploited, even though it has.

Sony to bring Risk to the big screen


@Gary 23

Don't forget Street Fighter: The Movie: The Game.


Samsung Story Station 1TB external HDD



Hmm, I like the idea of a knob on an external drive, but having a continuously variable LED is not the most productive use. How about having it control the accoustic/performance managment? That would be a differentiation that an actual hard drive manufacturer could make with an external drive (as opposed to a commodity peripherals manufacturer).

Microsoft bribes Oz to ditch Firefox


Apparently it works on lynx

So, uh, I guess text-mode browsers work too: http://marcusschwartz.com/ausie8.png