* Posts by Martin an gof

1426 posts • joined 27 Jan 2010

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So you really didn't touch the settings at all, huh? Well, this print-out from my secret backup says otherwise

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: It went wrong all by itself

Never heard of E-PAL, but I've always been interested in that sort of thing. PAL has quite a lot of variants, do you have a simple reference you can point me to?

The nearest thing I have heard of is PAL Plus which attempted to make a "compatible" signal that normal PAL receivers could use, but which would be "better" (in various optional ways) on a PAL Plus-aware receiver. On a technical level though, much like the squarial was "better" (in some ways) than an ordinary dish aerial, D(2)-MAC was better than either PAL or PAL Plus. It was just expensive and late to the party, and Murdoch cashed in with cheap, existing technology.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: It went wrong all by itself

the Squareial was consigned to the dustbin of "what were they thinking"

The thing was actually quite a neat theoretical solution, but took a lot of engineering to make it work. Now that the hard slog has been done (and the computing power to make the calculations is trivially available), similar products are plentiful if you just look around. The Squarial may have contributed to BSB's woes, but I don't think it was the only, nor even the major, contributor to them failing.

I earned a few quid pocket money in those days fixing failed PSUs in the built-to-a-price Amstrad receivers used by Murdoch's Sky for friends and friends-of-friends. CPC used to sell kits of parts - ring them up with the model number of the receiver and a couple of days later a little bag of resistors, capacitors, maybe an inductor or a semiconductor part would turn up. Wave the magic soldering iron about for 10 minutes (the simpler ones) or 30 (particularly if there was a multi-leg IC involved) and everything was back to normal.

M.

5G mast set aflame in leafy Liverpool district, half an hour's walk from Penny Lane

Martin an gof Silver badge

Digital literacy

If you haven't grown up with the internet, it's often difficult to distinguish fact from fiction online

I think it's more complex than that. Growing up with the internet doesn't make you any less likely to believe fictions in my experience, it's "life experience" in general.

My mum was recently taken in by a "here's how to protect yourself" chain e-mail because it came from someone she knows. Seeing that name in the "From:" header, she disengaged critical thinking that she would have applied had the same thing been printed in the local rag.

But I've known much, much younger people do exactly the same thing. In some cases, obviously rubbish information gets "retweeted" or whatever, without any thought, simply because such a lot of trash appears minute-by-minute.

So far (crossed fingers) my children are working out ok - they have not been exposed to social media from birth and (yes, I know it's not the same thing, but read on) have had to live with NoScript for almost as long as I've been running Firefox. If nothing else, NoScript causes them to pause and think online - "why does this website need to run Javascript from fifteen different sources?" - and they bring that skepticism to daily life. It's quite heartening hearing their reactions to Boris or Donald's latest verbal outpouring if they happen to catch the news!

Perhaps Twitter needs something to make people pause before re-tweeting? "Retweeting this will associate your name with the views in the post. Are you sure you want to do this?"

M.

If you don't LARP, you'll cry: Armed fun police swoop to disarm knight-errant spotted patrolling Welsh parkland

Martin an gof Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: IT Angle?

Just in case someone comes to this late, some spoilsport has now corrected the "Bust Stop"...

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: IT Angle?

For anyone disbelieving, here's the map.

The lake in question is near the bottom of that map near the railway, and the roads near the top in the pink-coloured industrial area. The names show up as viewed in my web browser, but you may need to zoom in a bit if they don't.

Actually, do try zooming in, to the bit where Fountain Lane joins Fortran Road and... no, tell you what, I'll do it for you. Openstreetmap, eh?

M.

Mind your language: Microsoft set to swing the axe on 27 languages in iOS Outlook

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: You vill parle Amrecianish Da!

I'd like to see you explain that to the people living in the Gaeltacht

Check my posts - as a speaker of Welsh, known to use it occasionally in day-to-day life (including at work), and living and working among people who live as much of their lives as possible through Welsh, I agree with what you are saying.

There is some kind of logic to dropping minority languages however, particularly if you are not yourself a user of those languages, and posters here (and elsewhere) regularly prove the point - as I see someone has done a little down the thread.

A lack or otherwise of truly "monoglot" speakers (you'd be hard pushed to find monoglot speakers of any language, in many countries other than England) nor indeed of the total number of people who are either capable of using the language or actually do use it regularly should not be a criterion for sidelining any particular language.

I posted because the Urdu thing was actually mentioned in the article. Urdu can hardly be described as a minority language, yet it's still on the drop list. Why?

One possible reason is lack of professional translators. Yes, most fluent speakers of two languages could make a good stab at translation, and indeed many open source projects rely on such people, but "a good stab" isn't good enough for something people are paying for and in some circumstances there are actually rules about this sort of thing.

For example, my wife has been a BSL user since childhood, has worked her entire career with deaf children, holds a "level 3" qualification in the language and has been known to interpret on a non-professional basis. Interpretation, much like translation, when done professionally has to be done correctly, particularly where absolute clarity and accuracy is required. It's one thing for my wife to interpret a church service for any BSL users who turn up, but she would never dream of standing in for a professional interpreter at (say) a court hearing or a medical consultation.

It's a sad fact that languages with small numbers of users have even smaller numbers of people with sufficiently high level knowledge of the language to undertake professional translation work.

Welsh is privileged in that since the mid 20th century there has been a revival in a language that up until then was being actively suppressed. As a result, there are now more speakers than (probably) there have ever been and use in the formerly dwindling heartlands is still relatively strong.

On the whole.

Where half the houses in the village haven't been bought as holiday homes by residents of Birmingham.

So Welsh has a small but steady supply of professional-grade translators, but they are in great demand. There are probably ten times as many Welsh speakers in Wales as Irish Gaelic speakers in Ireland.

Sorry, rambling.

Companies and public bodies should do everything they can to support these languages but particularly with companies there often comes a point where they can't or won't or simply are a bit thick about how bi- or multilingualism works. It's a matter for debate how these companies should be dealt with.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: You vill parle Amrecianish Da!

While I sympathise with the plight of Irish, I can (sort of) see the logic of stopping support for a language withe low use levels and for which it must be difficult to find competent translators. Welsh is usually in a much better position but still suffers these things. I not Welsh is not on the list. Does that mean it isn't supported anyway, or it has survived the chop?

As for Urdu, the article specifically mentions it!

M.

Sky Broadband is not the UK's cheapest, growls ad watchdog

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: B4RN....?

Wondered whether You'd explain more re.B4RN,, please?

Sorry, I know it's a few days late, but quite literally five seconds on DuckDuckGo.

M.

Wanna force granny to take down that family photo from the internet? No problem. Europe's GDPR to the rescue

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: GDPR is a joke....

The thing is that organisations such as Ancestry.com are actually built on the base of decades of work - transcriptions of parish records for example - done by people like my mother, entirely without payment, entirely on the understanding that others would be able to make use of the data, either for free or for a payment to the benefit of one of the local history societies that had organised the work.

Somebody's profiting.

M.

Hooray! It's IT Day! Let's hear it for the lukewarm mugs of dirty water that everyone seems to like so much

Martin an gof Silver badge

The East India Company?

No, everyone knows that tea was introduced to Britain in Roman times by Asterix.

M.

Windows invokes Sgrîn Las Marwolaeth upon Newport

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Llundain

Oh did you have to?

Not even worthy of a downvote.

Definitely worthy of a late-night ramble :-)

Here, have another silly factoid. In much the same way that English didn't always have a word for "orange" (hence the Robin is "red"), Welsh didn't always have a separate word for green. Instead the word "glas", which these days is mostly used to mean "blue", did double duty. It confuses learners when people talk of "porfa las" - no, they probably don't mean "blue pasture", they are more likely intending "verdant".

M.

P.S. There is quite a lot of evidence that bi- or multi-lingualism conveys cognitive benefits above and beyond the simple fact of having two languages. It does, however, have to be full bilingualism rather than the sort of second language teaching most schools in the UK practice. And it's not just the obvious candidates such as Canada where this sort of thing happens, I recently came across bilingual schools in Australia of all places. Wales is interesting because of its schools which teach through the medium of the Welsh language, even where the children attending come from English-speaking homes. You may argue that learning Mandarin or German would be more globally useful than Welsh, but the cognitive benefits accrue no matter which language is spoken.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Newport is not all that

I visit Newport station on a fairly regular basis and used to before the new terminal. The new building is cold and draughty at the best of times, let alone the platforms themselves. To be honest, I preferred the old layout, but the worst part with the new layout? There are no short-term parking bays around the back. The car park at the rear is large (well, not at the moment but that's another story) and easily accessible if you know which road to go down but it's long-term pay-and-display only, except for a couple of drop-off bays.

The free short-term bays are around the "front", so if I'm picking someone up I can pull in and wait for up to 20 minutes, even smile nicely at the person on the gate and help carry bags, but the front is in the middle of a 20mph one-way system and while from my direction getting in is almost as easy as getting to the back, getting back out again involves about a half a mile around the one-way system, crossing the same two pedestrian crossings twice (once in each direction) and navigating a roundabout where you have to stay hard right to get where I need to go, but the lane markings don't make that at all obvious, so there are always traffic conflicts, cars ending up in the bus lane, or unintentionally heading for a car park.

And you don't get to walk into the station past the slightly unusual sculpture.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Did they miss a station?

Nah, despite Oliver Postgate's distinctly "valleys" accents, the M&LRTCLtd was based in "the top left-hand corner of Wales" IIRC.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Lost stations

Bassaleg, pronounced locally as "Baze-lig". Never quite understood why.

The line is in occasional use for a quarry, but the remainder of the line, which ran from Newport to Caerphilly and Brecon was closed some time ago, with the last section - which ran to the mine and coke plant at Bedwas - turned into a cycle track.

There are some tentative plans to re-open the line, possibly as light rail, which would make commuting from Caerphilly to Newport an awful lot easier, might make commuting to Cardiff easier (via the new Cardiff Parkway station) and would certainly help if the thousands of houses being planned, are actually built to the East of Caerphilly.

As with elsewhere in the country, re-opened lines seem to be very much in demand. The Ebbw Vale branch, which rather inconveniently can't send trains to Newport until a junction is upgraded, has been open since shortly after the steel plant closed and has seen far higher use than initially anticipated.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Llundain

I thought "Londinium" was Roman :-)

In terms of use, placenames in Welsh are interesting because of mutations. "Llundain" might be the full name, but as part of a sentence the "Ll" often mutates into "L", thus "I am going to London" --> "'dw i'n mynd i Lundain". Similarly "I come from [I'm coming from] Newport" (Welsh - Casnewydd) turns into "'dw i'n dod o Gasnewydd".

Or even more confusingly "I live in Newport" mutates in a different way, "'dw i'n byw yng Nghasnewydd".

Don'cha love it?

One lady does.

Of course, half term week should be the week of the Urdd Eisteddfod. Traditionally the organisation sends a "message of peace and goodwill" around the world at the same time. This year's is a little different to the usual:

BBC News story

Adnoddau.

Resources in 57 languages.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Request stop only, last time I looked, but easily accessible and great for family photographs standing under the sign :-)

M.

India’s contact-tracing app unleashes KaiOS on feature phones

Martin an gof Silver badge

Just in case you're serious, three of these phones run KaiOS and are available worldwide, not just in India.

M.

Huge if true... Trump explodes as he learns open source could erode China tech ban

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Spitting Image

Whatever you think of the man himself, Charlie Brooker had a good stab at the satire last week.

The News Quiz used to be good at this sort of thing, but it's suffering both with a "work from home" production model and a less-than-stellar guest presenter.

Have I Got News For You is faring a bit better under lockdown than The News Quiz, and The Now Show didn't do too badly either.

M.

Behold: The ghastly, preening, lesser-spotted Incredible Bullsh*tting Customer

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

When there are thousands of schools, each one effectively independent of and even competing with the rest, and these days no longer under the control of local authorities

We're in Wales, where this isn't quite the case. Things are a little calmer here.

The BBC explains it here.

Wales Online explains it here, though that website is an utter mess of third party Javascript.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

My wife is a teacher of the Deaf and works closely with S&L therapists, currently in the paediatric cochlear implant programme of a large teaching hospital. We have this kind of conversation from time to time :-)

She thought she was going to be re-assigned to a nursing auxiliary type role, but it turns out that at the moment (and hopefully permanently if the current fall in cases continues) she is more valuable continuing to follow-up and support implanted children and their parents. They are waiting for the day they can re-start the implant programme because delays in language acquisition lead to delays in learning for years to come.

ToDs and support workers in schools are going to have to re-learn things that have become less important in recent years, now that the majority of deaf children are implanted in the first months of life. They are going to have a bubble of children through the system in the next few years who haven't had the benefit of "hearing" as early as their slightly older peers.

As for spelling, what you say is certainly true of the way I spell and the word I have most trouble with is one which caused me a little trouble aged about 7 or 8 and I was forced to learn it by rote, by a teacher. I still can't type it fluently. It isn't a word I use a lot.

Then again, should anyone ask me to spell a word for them I usually have to say "wuh, o, rrrrr, d' " rather than "double-you, oh, arr, dee". I'd have been useless at one of those "spelling bees".

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Ok, point taken, but I could easily turn it around and say that, like the people who are most likely to turn up to your coffee mornings, the people who are most likely to read and understand the notes - and crucially have a clue about how to act on them - are ironically the people who least need the help. I don't have an answer and I know it is frustrating - I have been out of the profession for a long time now but - once upon a time I did teach at primary level.

What I would say is that particularly in primary schools it is very likely that teachers have an excellent idea of the children whose parents might need a bit of encouragement and just as good an idea of the children whose parents don't. Sending blanket "advice" to everyone is likely to be counterproductive to both sets, though you might find a willing ear with some of the "struggling but trying our best" in the middle.

Ok. Here's another one. No, two. This time from the secondary school.

First came a very simple one. Something along the lines of "your child will soon be leaving school and moving on to university or an apprenticeship. Now would be an ideal time to ensure they learn essential skills such as how to cook a simple meal and how to sort the laundry". I mean, really? That's all the life advice they have to offer after seven (well, six and a half) years of schooling?

The most perplexing one however came a couple of Fridays ago; "why not wear red, white and green today instead of your school uniform, in aid of <worthy cause>?"

At first glance this looked like a simple passing-on-without-thinking of a press release by said worthy cause, presumably prepared before schools closed. I went to the appropriate website and read their fundraising media and nowhere was "instead of your school uniform" mentioned. In fact, while the campaign is real, nothing on the website had similar wording to the note sent by school.

Surely the only conclusion can't be that school is expecting pupils to wear school uniform at home while completing the two or three hours of schoolwork they are sent each day, can it?

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Talking used to come naturally to most people, but it seems that it doesn't any more. Teachers are complaining that children enter nursery not even able to hold a simple converation. Schools send home patronising notes about talking to your children. Is it because parents have their noses buried in Twitface these days? Is it because children get their first phone aged about 2 and no longer have to negotiate with siblings when they want to play a game?

We have a running joke at home since one such note came home from school some years ago. If ever conversation dries up at the dinner table (aside - it seems we are unusual in insisting as far as possible on at least one sit-down family meal each day), someone will pipe up with "so, who do you think is going to win The Voice this year?"

The school had sent a note home encouraging parents to talk to their children, with suggestions for interesting topics that would engage youngsters. Most of them were irrelevant, but this one particularly so since we have always actively avoided that kind of LCD "reality" show. In fact, if ever anyone wants to interrupt a conversation that might be getting out of hand, "so, who do you think is going to win The Voice this year?" is excellent at killing the atmosphere.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

Not just reading, language in general is often considered as a collection of words, people are encouraged to "expand their vocabulary" and comprehension tests are based on lists of words, but I have long had what I call my "cliche" theory of language, that - pretty much as you say, we don't actually learn individual words, instead we learn short phrases, concepts etc. So much so that we often mis-hear what someone says because our brains think, from hearing the beginning of a sentence, that they are going to say one thing, when they actually say another.

Later in life we begin to learn that some complex words are actually made up of shorter word-parts, and so even without an academic grounding in etymology or semantics we can make good stabs at the meanings of new (to us) words by reference to context and words (or word-parts) that we already know.

Phonics - as regards reading and writing, and as I have peripherally experienced it - seems to me to offer precisely what you say - a way of sounding out words that makes it seem as if you are reading, but without giving any tools to real understanding. I feel the same way about times tables to be honest, but about 20 years ago the teaching of maths worked this out and a lot of emphasis was given to using maths and relationships between numbers rather than just learning tables by rote, hence children working on "number bonds", for example. Language teaching should look and learn.

Even English does have some rules, but I offer "ghoti" as an example of where is all goes horribly, horribly wrong.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Yes the users are bad

Might be looking for an ISP before too long. Just went to visit Zen's website, but it's one of those where unless I agree to all the cookies - including the tracking and analytics cookies - it keeps an intrusive pop-up on the screen. I'm sure this isn't correct behaviour. Some websites seem to get it right - even ElReg's recent updated cookie policy allows me to stop all except "essential" cookies.

Zen has just fallen down my list of possibles :-(

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

decades of evidence that "Phonics" is not how we actually read

How many upvotes would you like?

Fortunately my children worked that out fairly early on and the particular scheme used in their school soon became known among them as "Read, Write, Stink".

Reminded me rather forcefully of my own early education. My parents (and my grandfather in particular, who moved to live with us shortly before I started school) made the mistake of letting me learn how to read before I went to school. Since reading was about 75% of what that school did with its early years classes, I found myself bored to tears at the back of the class, having completed the reading scheme (why did the red lorry have to go up the hill?) independently.

I was tasked with running errands during reading lessons - collecting dinner numbers, that sort of thing.

It all came to a head when the school made the mistake of bringing my mother in as a supply teacher to a reception class. She had been trained at the Montessori school in London and was not only displeased with the curriculum, but thoroughly outraged to see me - aged about 6 - up on the stage in the school hall, reading a poem or something and being held up by the head as "an example to all you bigger children who are about to go to secondary school but still can't read this well".

Or somesuch.

My father had always been an advocate of education through the medium of the Welsh language, but my mother was wary of it and had insisted I go to the local English school as neither she nor my father were fluent in Welsh. After that incident, however, she moved me to the local Welsh school saying something along the lines of, well, he won't be able to sit at the back of the class there!

Teaching reading is an emotive subject because everyone has pet theories. Mine? Get the children interested in the content of books (by reading to them) and they will soon want - and learn - to read for themselves. Of course there can be problems such as dyslexia to get around, but personally I don't think phonics is the be-all and end-all that government has seemed to think it is for the last 10+ years, certainly not for more than very, very basic English (I think it teaches bad habits which are difficult to shake off), though it has to be said that other languages (and I only have particular experience of Welsh) are much more amenable to phonetic decoding than English.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: There should be an IT Driving Test

I looked at one when they first came out, and laughed. I imagine the same is true of other qualifications. For example, I have an IPAF licence. It qualifies me to operate certain types of access equipment (cherry pickers, scissor lifts). I've taken the test several times, the first in 2000.

After a hiatus of six or seven years and a couple of job changes, my new job needed me to re-qualify. The test consists of a written (mostly multiple-choice) exam paper and a practical test. I've re-taken it twice since, and each time the examiner (a different one each time) likes to make you take the paper before you've done the study, find out where weaknesses are and make sure you know the answers before taking it "for real".

I can't remember my scores back in 2000 (can't remember any problems), but on that unprepared first-take after a 7 year break? 100%. And 100% in the for-real paper, and 100% and 100% five years later, and (oh dear) 98% (one missed question) and 100% five years after that. I've never been a straight-A student, mostly Bs and Cs...

M.

Total Eclipse to depart: Open-source software foundation is hopping the pond to Europe

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: A long time coming

Don’t get me started on not allowing a normal 24h clock

Our printer has a clock on the panel display. It can be set to 12h or 24h.

In 12h, ten past two in the afternoon displays as 2:10pm

In 24h, ten past two in the afternoon displays as 02:10pm

Wut?

M.

The iMac at 22: How the computer 'too odd to succeed' changed everything ... for Apple, at least

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: The full-blown Apple formula

I think the early mice did indeed only have one button. Context menus could (still can) be brought up by <ctrl>-clicking (or whatever passes for ctrl on a Mac keyboard...

Acorn's three-button mouse is still the best ;-)

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Don't forget...

Oh yes, the notch. I'd forgotten that. Even when third party USB devices did come out you needed a blasted adapter because standard USB plugs wouldn't fit into Apple's notched sockets. Talk about lock-in!

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge
Boffin

Re: So near, yet so far

And thanks to everyone for the EQ suggestions

If Susan isn't afraid of tech, personally I'd feed the sound into an external device and fiddle a few knobs. Either directly from the headphone socket or via a USB connection to an external interface or into a proper mixer with USB input:

Tiny mixer, bigger mixer.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: The full-blown Apple formula

People — the people for whom the iMac was designed, consumers — flocked to the iMac when it was introduced.

I never said that they didn't.

the machine ditched bad interfaces in favo[u]r of better ones. SCSI had never been anything but problematic on the Mac...

If that's the case then it was the fault of Apple, not of the standard. The way SCSI worked was pretty easily understood and seemed to work in other systems, most of the time. Terminator voodoo notwithstanding.

and ADB (the loss of which caused far more complaints in the Mac user base) was already well past simply "showing its age."

Does it really matter for a bus that essentially only had to deal with keyboard and mouse? By the time of the iMac, it would have cost Apple a very few cents to add an ADB connector to each machine and it would have made migrating existing users much less painful.

But it didn't fit with the "design-led" approach. And it wouldn't have enabled Apple to squeeze every last penny out of a buying public who were lustful for something that not only worked, but actually looked pretty.

I think my point is that while there were a lot of really good ideas in the iMac, it was its marketing that really won and Apple knew that with the correct marketing they could play as fast and loose as they liked with their existing customers. They didn't have to ditch every previous standard, particularly when:

third parties were selling USB to serial adapters within year

Given the sheer number of peripherals which relied on a serial connection, there should have been serial interfaces on day one. There should have been alternative keyboards and mice on day one, there should have been a portable information transfer medium on day one, but that didn't matter because by not providing those things, people were forced to accept Apple's own solutions. These days we forget what a sheer amount of hassle it was because whenever Apple changes the connector on an iPhone it doesn't take a year for third party devices to appear, they are out within a few weeks.

Still causes me hassle though, because every time Apple (or these days, Microsoft) changes the ports on a laptop I have to explain to the hip-and-trendy yet again, that our very nice projectors have standard HDMI and VGA interfaces and won't talk to their Air or Surface without an appropriate adapter. No I don't have one because up until now, no-one has needed one.

I've told the story here previously of a trade show we held where one exhibitor insisted on wired internet rather than our WiFi, and then complained when I presented her with an RJ45 as it was "the wrong type of plug". Her Macbook didn't have a standard network socket. I assume she left the adapter she normally used on the desk at work. Maybe she didn't realise it was an adapter.

Yes, of course, everyone with any kind of sense recognised even before the iMac came out that USB would eventually supplant pretty much all other low- and medium-speed interfaces and the fact that USB actually worked in the iMac when Windows struggled even to run a USB desk fan certainly helped. But in the early 2000s USB wasn't anywhere near being a replacement for external SCSI though of course, there was Firewire for that. Shame that even though it had been available for several years, very few devices had swapped from SCSI to Firewire. Perhaps if the PC market had taken it up a bit more enthusiastically :-)

Rambling, sorry.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: The full-blown Apple formula

In Yorkshire?

Seemed to be standard(ish) in South Yorks. Put it this way, when I married, my wife - a teacher in Doncaster and Rotherham - had never used a GUI other than Mac OS. The few primary schools that I knew well in the area all had Macs, I suspect there were at least some Windows machines in the secondary schools, but up until the early 2000s, Macs were favoured by the education authority.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: And that means Apple is now 44.

I just really wish Woz had won the argument.

Which particular argument?

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

The full-blown Apple formula

Make it "desirable" - this machine looked different, in a good way, to anything else on the market.

Make it familiar - it ran Apple's OS. In the 'states and in Yorkshire (oddly), Apple was standard in schools*

Give it some useful features that few other devices have - even in 1998, networking was an "extra" for Windows machines (certainly those destined for the home) - very few motherboards (did any?) came with a port as standard and consumer machines often didn't include the add-in card. Installing a network card on Windows was far from plug-and-play even once W98 was out but here it was, already built-in and working in the iMac.

After all the good stuff you then make it incompatible with previous and other systems in clever ways.

The machine had a CD drive, but IIRC it was read-only, not a writer, so the only way to get information out of the machine was by network or by "something" that plugged into a USB port. Of course, Apple had such devices ready.

Unceremoniously ditching the external SCSI bus and the Apple Desktop Bus meant that anyone already invested in the system had to buy new peripherals (they couldn't bring the keyboard from their old Mac with them), and with Windows's USB stack being somewhat fragile at that point (from what I remember) the market for third-party USB peripherals was quite small.

So Apple made a desirable machine, the buying of which was only the first part, and also made a lot of money from the add-ons.

It's a formula that worked for them for many years after that (as witnessed by the sheer variety of adapters I have to carry at work in order to be able to connect Apple machines to projectors), but seems to have fallen apart more recently, or maybe the PowerMac's monitor stand and case wheels are just someone trying to see how far they can push the punters.

M.

*I understand the point about the clones. Apple saw Microsoft and thought they could emulate them, completely forgetting that while Microsoft had always been purely a software company (that has failed time after time in hardware), Apple had always been a software *and* hardware company. What most people forget with the clone debacle though is that it introduced a lot more people to MacOS who would otherwise have ignored it on cost grounds alone. When the clone market was shuttered, these people had often already invested time and money in MacOS software and were either going to have to start from scratch with Windows or would be compelled to buy new Apple hardware. I would contend that while in the short run the clones were (very) bad for Apple, once Apple had blocked the clone makers, the larger userbase became an asset - people who would in future buy Apple hardware.

QUIC, dig in: Microsoft open-sources MsQuic, its implementation of Google-spawned TCP-killer QUIC

Martin an gof Silver badge
WTF?

Ok, I have to ask...

what is an "internal dogfood environment"? Sounds smelly.

M.

Happy birthday, ARM1. It is 35 years since Britain's Acorn RISC Machine chip sipped power for the first time

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: My Beloved Electron

I suppose it depends on what you think they need to know. I used to love tinkering with 6502 assembler on my BBC Micro, but apart from a few times when I used it to speed up some process that was taking far too long in BASIC, I stuck with BASIC.

When I started my first job I used some of my newfound wealth to buy a 6502, some static RAM, some EEPROM, address decoders, breadboard etc. and was intending to build my own computer for no reason other than I could*...

...the bits are still in a box in the attic somewhere, partly assembled.

These days my children have access to Raspberry Pi, Arduino and BBC Micro:Bit as well as more "normal" computers. I've just bought an "enviro" board for the micro:bit and using it is as easy as dragging the "Read Temperature in °C" block to the build area. I need a temperature sensor for another application on Arduino and there is a vast array of devices, all with lovely libraries which let you do something similar. When you read the data sheets, you understand why. Bit-banging the 1-wire protocol does not look like fun.

Question then - do children really need to be able to know how to communicate "raw" with a remote sensor, or is dragging the "Read Temperature" block enough, because it's the outcome of creating a temperature display that's the real goal?

I have a project of my own that needs a temperature sensor - doesn't need to be terribly accurate and doesn't need to be at all fast. I'm actually probably going to be using a device with an analogue output. It will be on the end of about 10m of cable, maybe more, and busses such as I²C can't cope with long wires.

M.

*I knew I could, because I'd spent a very happy "sandwich year" building from the ground up a series of MCS96-based electronic devices, prototyping them in wire-wrap. The development system (compiler) was way out of my domestic budget so at home I was intending to use the BBC Micro's compiler :-)

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Sophie Wilson post about early ARM history from 1988

That brings back memories. I remember someone posting it on the polytechnic's message board system (whatever it was called - the poly had a VAX8600 IIRC as well as a whole bunch of smaller ones). Must have been shortly after it was posted to usenet judging by that date - I didn't have usenet in those days.

I remember being terribly impressed by the poster - surely he must have had personal contact with Roger! Turns out not, but Jan Paxton had actually had a part in writing some commercial terminal software for the Archimedes, which I later went on to buy when I got my modem and was able to remote-in to the poly's computer in order to work on assignments from home, on mum & dad's phone bill :-)

It was Jan who introduced me to the Archimedes demo scene. I spent hours watching those things!

I also remember the time - not long afterwards - when I got *very* confused when someone insisted on referring to Sophie Wilson and assumed I knew who she was.

I still think the sale to Softbank was wrong...

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

My Risc PC still gets powered up every day

It does have a StrongARM but it started life with an ARM610. One day it'll retire, but not just yet.

Just playing with my first ARM-based "Arduino"-alike. The 48MHz Cortex M0 it uses could be compared with the 30MHz 610 originally in the RiscPC, though it uses a different instruction set (those condition codes were such a revelation) and would probably beat it in a head-to-head, though 32k RAM doesn't even come close :-)

M.

Work from home surge may work in Wi-Fi 6's favour, reckons analyst house

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: another Pink Elephant

For the remote home users (think aged parents etc.)

My plan is to have a NAS at ma & pa's, backing up their Mac simply using Time Machine, and one at ours which stores our media archive and network folders. Using OpenSuse I'm not that fussed about backing up the "OS" to be honest - all that's lost if the computer completely dies (or I decide to wipe it for other reasons) is local settings (home folders are still local), and sometimes it's good to have a clear-out.

I do have two NASes, but by the time I'd set up the backups and they'd completed over the LAN it was obvious I'd need to increase the storage in both pretty pronto and I've not (yet) got around to taking one to ma & pa's, "just in case" it's easier to rebuild it than expand it and re-synchronising 3TB over 1Mbit/s ADSL would take (I've just calculated it) about a year, assuming 80% of full-use is possible and no further data is added in that time :-)

Even just synchronising between the NASes when we've uploaded 50GB of holiday snaps and video would take about 5 days at 1Mbit/s - less than 6 hours at 20Mbit/s.

For a business client,

Had a similar situation at work a few years ago. We had a stash of (then) about ½TB of data (it's now considerably larger) that "central" IT doesn't want to know about and, in fact, ejected unceremoniously from their own systems without warning, fortunately just after we'd finished making a belt-and-braces backup onto external drive. We considered online solutions such as Amazon Glacier and the costs to store weren't dreadful, but we very quickly realised that getting at the backed-up data in the event of a total loss would be horribly slow and quite expensive. Instead we took that USB drive (and others, and local backups on local NASes) and "hid" them. One manager has it stored under his bed :-)

Since then, other departments with similar stashes of data that central IT were ignoring have managed to get together and a better, more accessible, more central solution is beginning to get off the ground (obviously with the help of IT) but it's been a very long, very hard slog.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Wired every time

Given your total cable run lengths are going to be sub 30m I expect your installation to support speeds significantly faster than 10GbE

Yeah, but even 10Gb kit is out of my (home) league at the moment and I'm struggling to think of a use case other than shortening the time it takes to transfer large video and photo files into and out of my NAS. Maybe in 5 years I could look at putting a 10Gb card in my NAS and another in my main computer and getting a switch with some 10GbE ports but at the moment that looks like a £1,000+ option so a second 1Gb card in the NAS and a bonded/trunked connection would ease the situation for nowhere near as much money - thirty quid for an Intel-based NIC and my cheap switch is already capable of (limited) port trunking :-)

That said, and I realise futurology only works if you're Harry Seldon, but in a domestic situation, even in 10 years' time I suspect that if 10Gb is widely adopted, it'll mainly be because manufacturers are just fitting the parts as standard, rather than for any practical reason.

I was going to write that 10 years is a long time in computing and that amazing things happen in quicker timescales, but I'm not so sure that's true any more. I bought my first stand-alone 100Mbit switch (i.e. as opposed to the one in the back of an ADSL modem) some 16 years ago and felt bad because a friend of mine had "saved money" by buying a 10Mbit hub. He saved about £15 over the cost of my switch. I bought my first 1Gbit switch perhaps 10 years ago for about the same price. 10Gbit switches - even those with just a few 10Gb ports - are still ten times that cost or more. By rights it should be possible to buy a 5 or 8 port desktop 10Gb switch for less than £50 by now.

Maybe it's the lack of a use case?

On a different subject, my last "main computer", based around an AMD A10, lasted seven years before I replaced it. It would have managed another one or two if it hadn't failed (processor died, probably because of dust-related stress) and the new machine keeps all the components other than the processor, motherboard & memory, and an indulgent NVMe SSD.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Wired every time

Mind you in the home, with sub-20M runs, I don't see the benefit of Cat 6 over Cat 5e

I thought that, but a friend offered me the end of a roll of Cat.6 he wasn't going to use, so I began to use that in our refurbishment before buying Cat.5e. I noticed two things:

1: the main benefit of 5e over 6 is that the former is cheaper (it's also easier to work with on a DIY-basis, but that's by-the-by), but many of the cheap 5e cables use CCA (Copper-clad Aluminium) rather than pure Copper, so if you are going to insist on Copper only, the price difference isn't as great as you might expect. I bought my own Cat.6 once my friend's reel was finished.

2: I ended up using a lot more cable than I was expecting. Partly this was down to asking the children to help pull and not supervising them (much), which meant that "leave a bit of slack at each end" seems to mean about 5 or 6m "spare" at each end of most of the runs. Partly it was simply down to the runs possible. It's not a huge house - "one and a half" storeys with the IT cupboard slap bang in the middle, but routing cables around all the other stuff in the place (the ventilation system takes up a lot of space and you wouldn't believe the amount of water and heating pipe we've installed) means that a run from the IT cupboard to the lounge - no more than 10m in a straight line - is close to 20m of cable from patch panel to wallplate.

Now I've no plans to use 10GbE, and I certainly can't afford the kit at the moment, but we're not intending to do any major work in the house for the next 30+ years so a bit of future-proofing seemed like a good idea.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Ok, well firstly you are using rather new and (relatively) expensive kit (ax) that very few people have at the moment, and a lot of "mesh" or "repeater" products are using older ac and n standards. Secondly I notice from the spec. that in order to achieve ~1Gbps link speed (which is effectively what you are claiming) it needs 160MHz of channel - at 2.4GHz that would take up the entire usable spectrum pretty much, and at 5Ghz it takes up a half of the total space available to properly DFS/TPC-equipped devices so I'd be interested to see what happens when all your neighbours decide to do the same.

Thirdly you imply that you don't actually have a mesh - you have what is effectively a single point-to-point wireless link (two devices). Using 160MHz channels you can get 1Gbps (ish) in one direction, but don't forget that as a shared medium you can't have two devices (actually) transmitting at the same time on the same frequency, so if you were doing simultaneous up- and down-loads I'd not be surprised to see them get about half that speed each, and adding further devices will reduce the rate further, though I note that ax is much more intelligent about sharing bandwidth and frequency re-use (where the radios and aerial configurations allow) than previous standards so is presumably much more efficient in typical "bursty" situations.

Wireless is (in my opinionated opinion) never the first answer for a connection problem. There are definitely circumstances where it is the best answer, but if it's possible to put a wire in, it's still usually a good idea to try that first :-)

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: another Pink Elephant

Ok, thanks.

I realise because of the way it works that it wouldn't be possible to rebalance completely the other way (wouldn't want to anyway), but I thought the boundary was movable to an extent. Oh well. FTTP and similar technologies are years away here, and out of my (home) budget at the moment anyway, so it'll be interesting to see what difference we notice with FTTC.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: another Pink Elephant

The best solution in a crowded radio environment is still: move to the 5GHz band where there are many more channels than on the 2.4GHz band

In theory, yes, but in practice I note that most "consumer" gear (that is, typical access points) does not seem to implement the Dynamic Frequency Selection and Power Control necessary to operate on the "top" eight channels and is instead restricted to the first four, which makes the total availability of space pretty much the same as at 2.4GHz, albeit with fewer users at the moment.

I typically have ~20 concurrent remote RDS users using a 40/10 service and the uplink is showing the uplink only being loaded to 1~2Mbps, and none are complaining that things are slow etc.

That's interesting because I am occasionally remoting-in to certain key devices using RDP over bog standard ADSL and the 1Mbps uplink speed of the originating end is absolutely a bottleneck with complex screens taking perhaps three or four seconds to transmit and even moving a window on a simple static desktop needs patience. Using the same endpoints on the LAN makes for an almost seamless experience.

Edit to add: though it isn't the RDP thing that's interesting me in faster uplink at home, it's offsite backups :-)

M.

Cisco UCS servers slugged by 'This SSD will self-destruct in 40,000 hours' firmware farrago

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Kind of Hertz

Nah, the new mixer was specified as "the one the plumber actually has on the van" when the old one failed. The proper answer to too much pressure is not a cracked-open isolating valve, but a pressure regulating valve on each pipe, but a tap like yours will do it too... albeit at (I'd imagine) considerably more cost than a pair of basic quarter-turn taps.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Kind of Hertz

Heating water on demand does not deliver full mains pressure to the tap, particularly if it's done by an asthmatic "combi" boiler which will reduce the flow rate in order to maintain the set temperature. I should know - I've lived with plenty of the wastes-of-space over the years. Might be ok for handwashing, but filling a bath? Taking a shower while someone else is trying to do the washing up?

Of course it is possible to get mains pressure hot water from a cylinder, as fast as you like (until it runs out), but having a pressurised cylinder leads to slight complications with regard to inspection and testing making it a bit difficult to D-I-Y.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Thanks for that link - very informative.

The only Reds I've used have been 2.5" 1TB which are apparently all CMR and I've found them slightly "meh", not so much on performance, which has been fine, but on life where I've had one or two fail earlier than I would have hoped. Oh, no, actually I just realised we have some 3.5" 2TB Reds in a low-use NAS. SMR might explain why it's a very slow target for Time Machine :-/

We stopped using Blues at work in our public-facing machines when we realised that they go aggressively to sleep (after just eight seconds of inactivity) and take 2 or 3 seconds to wake up, meaning that a display can be working perfectly well on the "idle" screen, someone comes along and taps the screen and everything freezes for a couple of seconds while the drive spins up. Those machines don't need vast amounts of storage (Windows and a single application) so even small SSDs are more than sufficient, and cheap enough to be a no-brainer for replacing the Blues.

The biggest surprise for me though was seeing that 2.5" 1TB Blacks are shingled. Blacks have always been marketed as "performance" drives (7,200rpm, larger caches) and have had a slight price premium as a result. I even used a couple of the smaller ones in a NAS some years ago and found that they worked very well - those same drives are now in my main machine mirrored as a "scratch" working pair I use to hold the source files when editing home videos.

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Kind of Hertz

Separate taps. Mixer taps are an abomination on so many levels (mainly to do with their ridiculously complex innards which fail easily), but in the UK where we traditionally have utterly daft plumbing (high pressure cold, low pressure hot) they are even worse. We even have one at work which does not allow you to vary the flow - turn it beyond "off" and you get cold at full blast followed by a progression to hot at full blast. Not good in a small handwashing sink with both supplies pumped, the only way to avoid splashing everywhere was to crank the isolation valves underneath almost closed.

Just rejected a free sink from a neighbour for our refurbishment because it was single tap-hole. To be fair, he was of the same mind, which is why it was languishing in his garage :-)

As for SSDs, if this is a common problem to HPE and Cisco, presumably it's a reasonably standard device, not one manufactured specifically with custom firmware. In other words, what are the chances that similar drives are out there in commercial channels? I have HDDs with well over 40,000 hours runtime and as things gradually move to SSD it'd be nice to be able to avoid sudden loss of data.

M.

Elevating cost-cutting to a whole new level with million-dollar bar bills

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: CRT

The rest of us used to move speakers closer to CRTs for the pretty.

Obviously not our own CRTs :->

M.

Martin an gof Silver badge

Re: Climate control could only be set in the morning

What is all this talk of "line drivers" and fibre converters, when RS485 was designed for this task, has been around just about as long as RS232 and can actually be quite cheap? Neater solutions are available, but this would work as a quick fix, even on standard serial cable; proper RS485 cable is different, but if a system "nearly works" on RS232, converting to RS485 would probably do the job just fine.

M.

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