* Posts by saundby

75 publicly visible posts • joined 30 Mar 2011


Parents blame brats' slipping school grades on crap internet speeds


Online Test/Homework Systems Make This a Thing

There are a lot of online systems used for testing and homework here that are notoriously heavy on the network, the client, and presumably the crap servers as well. Since homework assignments are now only given as 'log in to see what you've got' on systems that drop users like a leaf-shedding maple in fall, it wasn't unusual here to spend the entire family's evening trying to post results by midnight for automated grading.

Being rural didn't help--anything better than smoke signals or tty is 'broadband' out here.

BlackBerry axes 200 jobs – including a third of its HQ staff


Hire Someone to Curate the Worst Crap Out of BBW

They should take action to clean ip Blackberry World, their app shop. I usually go there to look for something first, but it's filled with apps that are not only dodgy and spammy, but pay-for. Contrariwise, on Google Play (via Snap) or the Amazon Appstore, I can get many selections that don't immediately appear to be death in a bottle, and for free.

Couple this with poor & limited user settings (can't turn off camera shutter sound without silencing phone, can't turn off low battery audible alarm, etc.) a plain-jane Android phone would look really good if I could get a good physical keyboard on it. Hatred of soft keyboards is what brought me to Blackberry for my most recent phone.

Vintage Ask toolbar is malware – and we'll kill Jeeves, says Microsoft


It's a good start...

but I won't be satisfied until they send over folks from Corporate Security with crowbars, automatic weapons and flamethrowers to settle Ask's hash.

Dossiers on US spies, military snatched in 'SECOND govt data leak'


Re: I wonder if they'll let us know how far back?

Yes, you filled out this form as part of your request for a clearance. I've been through it several times as a contractor myself. It gets longer every time, adding new sections for the fear of the day.

GOOAALLL! Back of the net! 'Millions of dollars' score .football gTLD


And the Companion Site


Horizon finds new potential in the sci-fi staple deepsleep tale


E.C. Tubb's Dumarest series ("travelling Low"), Niven's slowboats ("suspended animation".)

Dead pilot named in tragic Virgin Galactic spaceship crash


Not Necessarily the Engine

Everyone online seems to be saying engine at this point, but so far as I can tell from 3rd party photos it could have been airframe failure, or any of a number of things. I don't see evidence of an explosion (frequently cited), just escaping nitrous oxide. Just because it was a rocket test doesn't make it a rocket failure.

(And yes, I have professional experience in precisely this area, though no specific knowledge of this vehicle.)

NOT OK GOOGLE: Android images can conceal code


Many phones and low-end tablets can't be upgraded or are dependent on a vendor that will never post an update.

Proprietary OS source code LEAKED to web – from 40 years ago

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I'm still using CP/M around here. An Ampro Little Board Plus SCSI with 88MB of hard disk and an Osborne 1 with all the extras (video upgrade, disk upgrades, etc.) are my most-used systems. But I've also got Big Board I and II systems and several Kaypros plus a homebrew.

CP/M calms me when all the 'modern' OSes tick me off. ;)

REVEALED: Google's proposed indie music-killing contract terms


Meanwhile, they'll be competing against their own material on Youtube, with someone else getting paid for uploading it there.

How about printing your electricity?


Wrong HP 1000?

Dang, I was hoping the story involved an HP 1000 =computer=. Or at least a 21MX of some sort. ;)


Watch: Kids slam Apple as 'BORING, the whole thing is BORING'


When I was teaching, till last year, I'd take in an Osborne 1 each year. The kids were fascinated, they loved it. I took in magazines from the day showing the buzz it generated, explained why it and it's price were exciting at the time, then turned to the hardware. After a tour of the bits and ports, drawing analogies to hardware they're familiar with, I'd let them take turns operating it with different programs. The floppy disks often ended up being the star of the show, the kids loved the Steampunk quality of them, craning for looks into the slots to watch them start & stop, and the head movement.

The proof of things came not when I was standing there, but later. Many went home to tell their parents about it & start conversations with their parents about old computers. One was given an old XT from the garage to put in his room, another started a father-son project to restore an old Kaypro, another came back to tell me my Osborne was crap because grandad had given him a Pet. Other parents remarked frequently about talking to their kids about the bad old days of computers. Often old systems were pulled out of closets & old software fired up again. One young lady with an interest in art discovered Deluxe Paint, for example.

I remember one fellow lamenting that he'd gone looking in grandmother's garage for an Osborne, but she'd only turned up an Amiga, darn it all. Should he let her foist it off on him? I let him know he'd hit the jackpot, offering to provide him with software for it, if needed. He got it home, then had occasion to brag about his Video Toaster and Lightwave system to friends--apparently grandmother had been in video production, and was mentoring him on her old system. He'd set up scenes and animations, which she then transferred to more modern hardware for rapid rendering.

Every year this happened, from one class period with an Osborne. It was one of the best lessons in the class.

Facebook exec: I HATE the INTERNET and I REALLY hate journalism


I'd pay for a premium account on FB if it included the ability to filter all images with overlaid text.

Wolfenstein: The New Order ... BLAM-BLAM! That guard did Nazi that coming


There are two b's in 'instagibbing'.

IBM accidentally invents new class of polymers


Self healing skin for Terminators. Just in time.

Volvo tries to KILL SHOPPING with to-your-car Roam Delivery


Combines the disadvantages of online shopping with those of brick and mortar, while putting the security of computer applications into your car locks. This may be latest chilli chutney sandwich service, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Self-forming liquid metal just like a TERMINATOR emerges from China lab


The sphere thing makes it sound like they've built a small T-1000 version of Rover, and they're hoping to make it large enough to stop an escaping Number 6.

Ancient carving of 'first human-built holy place' = Primitive Vulture Central


The second vulture head looks to be where we put Lyra The Lyre, or Harp) now. And the disk above the first's wing is about where today's Vulpecula is (the Little Fox).

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign


Re: Got the Cambridge, but not this.

I give it one 9V battery about every six months. It's the pregnant programmable Cambridge.


Got the Cambridge, but not this.

I never saw one of these, but with a Cambridge Programmable in hand I wouldn't have been tempted. It's still in my desk drawer, stored in a case that outlived the TI-30 it came with. I sacrifice a pair of batteries to it each year for old time's sake.

Sail HO! Look out Bay Area - it's the Google Galleon


Open the pod bay doors please, BAL

Sueballs lobbed at Tosh, Samsung and LG over 'optical disk cartel'


Goldstar cheaper, not necessarily bad

My two Goldstar amber mono/HGA monitors are still working to this day, long after the overpriced Princeton and IBM displays packed it in. =Why= I'm still using two HGA displays is beside the point. ;)

DON'T BREW THAT CUPPA! Your kettle could be a SPAMBOT


Standard Equipment

Irons regularly contain a small microcontroller in them these days with a tip sensor, as part of the safety design. It's there to keep you from pulling a 'Lucy' if you leave it sitting for too long. Low end uC's like tinyAVR and the smaller PICs are common, usually with OTP memory.

Carmack blows 'crazy money' on hibernating Armadillo


It's too bad his team went with the NASA/Boeing approach of trying to shave grams by spending multiples of the prior cost of materials. The way they started, I was hoping they'd latch on to the Truax approach. Maybe a time with no money will help them rethink things.

Nothing so impressed me as having access to the Sea Dragon materials while I was at Aerojet. I went through them using modern analysis tools and methods, and it still looks like the thing would work as advertised, though some facilities costs would likely be higher than originally envisioned. But the darn thing is made out of steel, not even aluminum or composites, and the engines are pressure-fed. Thinking about it has always helped keep me from chasing new materials or processes too far down the costs rabbit hole.

PORNAGEDDON: Sexy bloggrs stung by Tumblr smut smackdown


The Likely Decision Process

Yahoo from Yahoo!: What's your bandwidth usage look like?

Techie from Tumblr: About half cats, half porn.

Y from Y!: What are the CTRs for each?

T from T: About 4 for cats, 0.5 for porn.

Y from Y!: Meh, delist the porn. It's a waste of bandwidth. Give the old 'family values' excuse.

"No comment" on Alex Salmond Seaside Shenanigans Ravings?


If there's going to be a forum link with an article, it should go straight to the associated thread. Getting dumped at the top of the forums is a waste of time.

What's the difference between GEEKS and NERDS?


Rather than consult one expert,

let's harness the ignorance of thousands, and call it knowledge.

ESO says dwarf planet Makemake lacks atmosphere


Re: Let me be the first to say that it's a space station

It's the home of our Pak Protector, of course.

Autonomy to HP: bollocks

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Re: Good Test Equipment

When they had a "name the new company" deal going at HP before it was split off, I turned in a sheet reading "Hewlett-Packard". They asked me, and I told them just what you would have. FWIW.


Re: Good Test Equipment

Ah, that would be Agilent.

Today, I deposited the money they sent me for owning some of their stock. I own three times as much HP, but all I expect from that is some "shoft lavatory paper" at this rate.

Time to flush HPs board, at the very least.

PCs punch HP in the gut, servers knee it in the jewels


HP needs execution, execution, execution. Still.

Instruments and most components went out the door with Agilent, which frittered the advantages away for the most part.

HP would do well to try to actually *sell* their services. Marketing and sales for a lot of services was disconnected from those services over a year ago and the pipelines have finally run dry.

As to their laptops, yeah, the Playskool concept of design definitely rules here. The keyboards are the ten-fingered version of the great, thick pencils given to youngsters. Touch typing involves waving hands more than a Ouija board, and they're depressed into the base at an angle that makes extensive typing rough on the wrists.

They still have calculators, but other than the HP-35s there's nothing to see there, and the initiative in schools has been entirely lost to TI offerings that haven't changed much for a decade. It'd be theirs if they reached out for it, though. Heck, if they simply re-issued the calc line from 1987 with new make guts in them, they'd be way up in the market. If they put in media card slots, USB, and a modern display, but kept the old keyboards and cases, they'd be back at the top. Small change, but one good product line helps sell another.

More recently, there's Palm. Try again, this time with a tad more attention to hardware. I can't believe developing something new would be cost effective compared to bringing the OS back in new devices. Price them at the low end of Apple's price spectrum, and they'll sell--just not at the high end.

Slideshow: A History of Intel x86 in 20 CPUs

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I go back to the 4004, though I didn't build one myself until after I'd built an 8080A system. I did assemble and test 8008s for others, though I never owned one. I wouldn't really want to go back to any of those--multiple supply voltages, too many chips to implement the system core. I do, however, still use the 8085 for fun: saundby.com

Curiosity photographs evidence of ancient streams on Mars


Oh wait, that is sidewalk. And behind that rise...it's...it's...


Behold: China's robot noodle army!

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And the solar-powered version

will have a light on its chest that blinks when power is low.

Where did I leave my beta capsule?

Boffins pump hot, vivid fluid into squidgy robostarfish


The Hat Won't Save Him


The moment they take the tubes off that robot...straight for the brain.

HP to take one more stab at consumer tablets


They'd better hurry...

My last good portable HP device, an HP 200LX, is on its last legs!

Still cranking code on it.

Time to reconstitute the PPC group and let them do the design job rather than some white box manufacturer's sales rep.

Party like it's 1999: CDE Unix desktop REBORN


I remember using HP's VUE, which is a lot of what you'll come into contact with in CDE. At the time I thought it was a bloated pig, compared to OpenLook. By the time CDE came together, it was just about right, weight and power-wise on newer workstations. CDE had some nice features for users, but was still a mess underneath for sysadmins.

Curiosity success 'paves way for Man on Mars by 2030s'


Leadership, yeah. Like dropping Exomars from the budget, then trying to save face by taking $24M from the outer planets budget to "envision an architecture" for a 2018 or, maaaybe 2020 launch.

Yeah, that's leadership. Stand on the funding of your predecessors today, strangle tomorrow in its cradle.

And hope the voters forget yesterday:

"In essence, it is the end of the Mars program," said Phil Christensen, a Mars researcher at Arizona State University. It's like "we've just flown Apollo 10 and now we're going to cancel the Apollo program when we're one step from landing,"

Curiosity snapped mid-flight by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter


Re: Hydrazine. Icky stuff.

"$orkplace (a space lab) has an instrument recovered from the first Ariane 5 launch (the one which blew up).

After falling several miles to earth, being dug out from under 8 feet of swamp mud, washed multiple times and sitting on a shelf for 12 years, it still has enough traces of hydrazine on it to be considered a toxic hazard."

Toxic hazard for a certain standard of toxic hazard, I expect. The standard being what could be a problem with an impressionable jury rather than what will give you burns or cause lung problems.

It being an instrument, the extra caution may also be a result of possible reservoirs of material inside that could be opened up later.

Also, it may be UDMH which is considered a carcinogen, though I thought the Ariane V used MMH.

Anyway, hydrazine can be worked with, and can be relied on in ways that other propellants can't be. The level of what's considered an unreasonable hazard in the office is different than on a launch pad or test stand (one does not normally expect hydrazine burns in the office.) ;)

NASA's nuclear Mars tank prepares for high pucker-factor landing

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Star Trekkin' across the universe...

Only goin' forward 'cause we can't find reverse!

Nice little shout out. I've still got my copy on tape, though Star Dreck is on 45.

Microsoft hires former Hillary Clinton adviser as top strategist


Return Results on the Actual Search Phrase

not on ad phrases that might stretchily be made to fit.

Then you'll have a search engine that'll turn Google into the declining Yahoo of 12 years ago (business-wise, that is--results-wise Google has already got the Y!1999 emulation down pat.)

Revenue doesn't depend on ad matches nearly as much as it depends on getting eyes in the first place by giving them what they want.

Hiring this guy is just more failure in action. What they actually need is someone to preside over implementing what their own people are probably screaming for, and intercede as required with company political clout to keep it on track when threatened.

Gamer fails STAM roll, dies after 40-hour Diablo III stretch


Hey, you, get offa my cloud!

Tune in, turn on, log in, drop dead.

It a generational thing, baby. You wouldn't understand.

It costs $450 in marketing to make someone buy a $49 Nokia Lumia


All this limited ecosystem talk

has me worried about the viability of CP/M for smartphones.


More Steve Jobs iPad mini attacks from beyond the grave


Munkstar + Steve I

7.85in display && smaller bezel

66% of present screen area. Total device size ~6.5 x 5 in with a bit of bezel for the thumb, or 7 x 5.5 in. to make a 7 inch iPad. Same rez as current display so no new UI and close enough nobody cares (linear image size is still >80% height/width of full size iPad.)

E-Cat pitching cold fusion to Australians


Dick Smith

Does the eCat use any Z-80s?

Thought not.

Hams: We're good in a disaster – UK Radio Society boss

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Re: QSL Codes??

QSL cards on paper are becoming rare, as those hams and their supposed "aversion" to computers take up eQSL and similar services. ;)


No Aversion to Computers Around Here

Digital radio modes were a close second to phone (voice) contacts in our local group's "Field Day" outing this year (Amateur radio emergency preparedness exercise held each year.) The people running these stations look like they're using radios out of The Matrix (but with more colours than green.)

Those on voice were using computers to log and find contacts, and to monitor and manage the power systems (solar, battery, etc.)

There is plenty of white hair at the meetings, but a good cadre of 20- and 30-somethings, too. About half.

There are more licensed amateurs now than any prior time in my life, and the number of new licensees is growing each year.

Time to update your views on amateur radio. ;)

LOHAN fizzles forlornly in REHAB


How the Pros Do It

With the big ones, the igniter for a solid is basically a small motor that maintains both the temperature and pressure necessary to get the motor's reaction going. Normally it's at the fore end of the motor. If your motors can't accommodate a smaller, easier to light motor attached to the forward closure, putting one on the aft end with a bit of a gap between the two might do the trick. Mount it on the launch mechanism. What you're calling the igniter on the model motor does the job of our initiator (which lights our igniter.)

Going back to the sparking with liquid engines, yeah, the ones you see on the launch pads are for loose propellants. But in test, if we can't get the thing to light with its inbuilt ignition system we use other methods. Including duct taping a road flare to the aft end and opening up the propellant valves.

50 years in SPAAAAACE: Telstar celebrates half-century since launch


Clarke's Stations: Not Manned

Neither of Clarke's original papers refers to the radio relay stations being manned. It's possible you're misled by the term "Space Station", which we now use to refer to a manned satellite. At the time, the reference was to a radio station in space: space station.

While he didn't originally develop the idea of a space based communication satellite (he considered it such an obvious idea that someone else must have thought of it first, though this was true it wasn't as obvious as he considered it), his work on elaborating the idea did a lot to bring the idea to people to whom the idea of a space based radio relay wasn't obvious.

George O. Smith is documented as coming up with the idea for a radio relay in space before Clarke (being placed in a Trojan point with Venus to provide regular communications between Earth and Venus explorers in a science fiction story--Smith was also a radio engineer as well as an author). Hermann Oberth missed using radio, but suggested the idea of using an orbital mirror for signalling in 1923.

Clarke's work is how the idea of a communications satellite got out into the wild, so he deserves plenty of credit for both the basic communication satellite as well as the geostationary ones. The earlier people didn't get their voices heard.

Revealed at last: Universe's intergalactic dark matter skeleton


I thought planets and politicians were dark matter. MACHOS, in the old naming of dark matter types. They're not exotic dark matter, but dark matter all the same.