* Posts by DrBobK

167 posts • joined 17 May 2011

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Version 7 of WINE is better than ever at running Windows apps where they shouldn't

DrBobK

Is there a native M1 Mac version?

The nub of the issue: Has your ThinkPad's TrackPoint gone TITSUP*? You aren't alone

DrBobK

Re: Lenovos Nipple....

One of my female colleagues refers to the Trackpoint as the Cursor Linked Input Tracker.

NASA picks spot at Moon's South Pole to perform first ice-drilling experiment

DrBobK

PR1ME and Nova

Prime and Nova. Let's hope NASA aren't using these as the compute power for their new mission. I mean I liked the Data General Nova-3 I worked on in the 1970s, but even if they were reliable they are a bit old-tech now. I never got to use a PR1ME - too business oriented.

While the iPhone's repairability is in the toilet, at least the Apple Watch 7 is as fixable as the previous model

DrBobK

Re: Confusing

Exactly. I tried to buy a display for a series 5 watch. Not one to be found anywhere. Not even flea-bay.

These Rapoo webcams won't blow your mind, but they also won't break the bank

DrBobK

50 MegaPix madness at the other extreme...

I hooked up a Canon 5DS SLR as a webcam during serious serious lockdown. It was just something to do to while away the time. A bit excessive, but you could control DOF and focal length. The image was very good, much better than my webcam, even when downscaled to 720.

Samsung is planning to reverse-engineer the human brain on to a chip

DrBobK
Headmaster

Human Brain Project

The 1+ Billion Euro 10-year EU Human Brain Project, which has similar aims and much, much more academic input, has not, by most accounts, been a glittering success. As lots of other people have said, we really know very little in detail about how interactions between neurons in the brain give rise to useful information processing. We don't know which properties need to be simulated and which are irrelevant. There is certainly a great deal of analog computation involved. Some of this is likely intra-cellular. There are lots of cell types which are not neurons but which may play some role. I am not optimistic. (Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience by trade)

'Nobody in their right mind would build a naval base here today': Navigating in and out of Devonport

DrBobK

Dazzle camo?

Is that dazzle camouflage on the Severn? I hope so!

How long till some drunkard puts a foot through one of BT's 'iconic, digital smart city communication hubs'?

DrBobK

Why not a K6?

Surely they could have put all of that stuff inside a Giles Gilbert Scott K6 phone box? If they'd done that then the public's view of BT might have improved a bit.

Beige Against the Machine: The IBM PC turns 40

DrBobK
Headmaster

I still have a 5150, Mono, 64K with original keyboard and monitor sitting on top of a filing cabinet in my office. It is an incredible thing. You could drive a truck over it and it would be unscathed. Also came with a manual containing the assembly source for the BIOS which was super useful for my job at the time which involved researching user interface design by mucking around with the cursor as a status indicator. We got a FORTAN compiler for it at some point, so I programmed it in FORTRAN with all the real stuff in MASM (I think - long time ago).

Apple responds to critics of CSAM scan plan with FAQs, says it'd block governments subverting its system

DrBobK

No one mentions US legal requirements to identify CSAM on cloud servers.

To quote Forbes: "By law, American companies have to report child abuse and exploitation imagery on their servers to NCMEC, which then works with law enforcement on an investigation. Other tech giants do the same when emails or messages are sent over their platforms. That includes Google, Microsoft and Facebook."

Lenovo says it’s crammed a workstation into a litre of space – less than three cans of beer

DrBobK

Re: There's no such thing as a workstation

My good old Sun 3/60 was definitly a workstation.

Boffins boast of 'slidetronics' breakthrough enabling binary switch just two atoms thick

DrBobK

Logic or memory?

Is is a switch that can control flow of some other signal or is it a memory element which once set to one of two states remains in that state?

Revealed: Why Windows Task Manager took a cuddlier approach to (process) death and destruction

DrBobK

-9

They never exposed the real nasty though...

kill -9 == with extreme prejudice.

Hubble’s cosmic science is mind-blowing, but its soul celebrates something surprising about us

DrBobK

Pale Blue Dot.

You mentioned Earthrise and the Blue Marble, but the other image that bright a lump to my throat is Pale Blue Dot.

BTW, I have no knowledge of these things, but I imagine the NSA could have many reasons to doing a bit of spectroscopy with a telescope aimed downwards.

A hotline to His Billness? Or a guard having a bit of a giggle?

DrBobK

Again, nowhere in the same league, but something that surprised me nevertheless. I was a very junior postdoc in the UK doing some programming on a project in vision science on a new Mac II. I was having trouble manipulating colour tables in the vertical retrace interrupt which didn't seem to behave in the way they were described in 'Inside Macintosh' so I posted a question to the appropriate usenet new group (including my academic affiliation, address and phone number). The next day I received a phone call from someone who said they were with Apple and would like to try and help with my problem. The phone line wasn't great and was getting worse so I offered to call back after about quarter of an hour - they bloke on the other end said not to try unless I could get free international calls as he was calling from Cupertino. I was bowled over. Also we sorted out my problem.

Roger Waters tells Facebook CEO to Zuck off after 'huge' song rights request

DrBobK

El Bobbo

El Bobbo is a mysterious enigma within a deep but incomprehensible poem. He probably allowed Starbucks to use a song because the shade of green in their logo reminded him of the guitar owned by some legendary bluesman whose name no one knows and of whom no songs were ever recorded and where none remain alive who heard him play. [ Married to a Dylan fan, so I know of that about which I speak. ]

Desktop renaissance? Nope, rebound of hefty PCs is just because there's notebook shortage – analysts

DrBobK

Is this Intel/AMD specific?

Is there an M1 MacBook or iMac shortage? Genuinely just interested to know whether this CPU availability shortage is Intel/AMD specific (and whether it is having a greater impact on mobile vs desktop CPUs).

‘Staggering’ cost of vintage Sun workstations sees OpenSolaris-fork Illumos drop SPARC support

DrBobK

Old stuff

I've got a DEC AlphaStation 500 and an IBM PC (the original with twin floppies, from about 1982) in my office - are they actually valuable? They both still work.

Google proposes Logica data language for building more manageable SQL code

DrBobK

Re: 4GL

Probably the first code I wrote that was used by people other than me was in Fortran and Rapide - the query language for the Logica Rapport database. Easier to understand than Google's new thing.

And the Turing Award for best compilation goes to... Jeffrey Ullman and Alfred Aho

DrBobK

I'm an academic psychologist, not a computer scientist, but I read the dragon book years ago because I wanted to understand more about how computers work. It is a marvellous piece of work.

Mac OS X at 20: A rocky start, but it got the fundamentals right for a macOS future

DrBobK

System 7 was so bad that I switched to windows. By Vista I switched back to macOS and I'm still there (although I have to have windows and linux machines for specific projects). Nothing on the horizon seems to be pointing me away from macOS anytime soon.

It's wild the lengths Facebook engineers will go to find new ways to show you inane ads about tat: This time, AR...

DrBobK

Re: Some science for a change...

This conference paper is ridiculously cool, and the optical sensor they use (with great success), a MAX30105 only costs about a tenner (I've just ordered one to play with for integrating into VR with Unity).

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S240589631932631X

DrBobK

Re: Some science for a change...

Here's the link:

https://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/20/9/2467

DrBobK
Headmaster

Some science for a change...

If you are interested in the state of the art in finger tracking from forearm and wrist surface sensors here is a review of 65 research papers from the last five years or so. This looks like a genuinely practical UI method to me.

End is nigh for iMac Pro as Apple stops offering custom configs of high-spec desktop

DrBobK

M1x, discrete graphics, expandable memory - maybe not.

Isn't the performance of the M1 predicated on tight, SoC, coupling between its various components - CPUs, GPU, Memory, NN thing, etc.? My (not very educated) guess would be that this means an Mx supporting discrete graphics etc. is a bit unlikely. They could up the ante on the built in graphics, or the built in memory, but you aren't going to add more yourself and maintain performance.

What's that, Lassie? Dogs show signs of self-awareness according to peer-reviewed academic study?

DrBobK
Headmaster

Comparative Psychology is hard.

Just as a point of interesting information, a paper was published fairly recently that demonstrated that a species of fish (a cleaner wrasse) could pass a fish-oriented version of the mirror self-recognition test https://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.3000021. Now this may, or may not, demonstrate that fish have a sense of self. What it does do, is cause one to question exactly what the mirror self-recognition test itself demonstrates. Maybe one has to think a little more carefully about the means by which one might test whether an animal (or an infant) is self-aware.

One might also think about this issue when deciding whether all of the "I've seen my dog do xyz so it is obvious that it has some human-like mental world" are actually worth paying any attention to. One of the founders of comparative psychology in the 19th century, George Romanes, tried to develop a theory of comparative intelligence by collecting and collating such anecdotes - it was an abject failure. I wrote some lectures about this decades ago that were posted on the web by other academic sites (with my permission) - not sure if they're still up...

DrBobK
Headmaster

God there are a lot of the "I think xyz is true so it must be" brigade out today. The idea in science is that we test hypotheses in order to assess their validity. But I see I'm wrong here - all we need to do is have an opinion.

ps I think this will be downvoted by exactly the same group of people who believe opinion trumps science. Did you see what I did there?

Microsoft announces a new Office for offline fans, slashes support, hikes the price

DrBobK

Re: I say, goddamn...

You know, I've seen a lot of people walkin' 'round

With tombstones in their eyes...

Housekeeping and kernel upgrades do not always make for happy bedfellows

DrBobK
Headmaster

Re: I feel for "Aapt"'s pain

I had a Sun 3/60 many years ago. One thing I think I remember about SunOS 3.2 and 3.5, but my memory might be faulty, was that they had a partition scheme in which stuff you really shouldn't mess with was mounted read-only. I think it saved me, an academic not a proper sysadmin, on more than one occasion. This was around the same time that one of my colleagues decided to remove all the unused files in /dev on the departmental server (another Sun box) - enough remained in memory to rescue the system from the command line. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man (me) is King.

Looking for the perfect Valentine's gift? How about a week of retro gaming BBC Microlympics?

DrBobK
Headmaster

I taught programming to university students on the BBC Micro - their work was 'saved' on cassettes. Got some disc drives later and so could play Elite while they struggled with the exercises. I was quite amazed at the 3D feel of Elite and how immersed you got, even if it was all green lines. The game I remember being even more impressed with was the free flight simulator (not really simulator, not realistic, just fun) on the first Archimedes. There was also a flight sim game on SGI workstations around then (maybe even a bit later) and the Archimedes one was just as good apart from the fact that you could network the SGIs if you happened to have a few Indigos or Irises lying around.

Machine-learning model creates creepiest Doctor Who images yet – by scanning the brain of a super fan

DrBobK
Headmaster

Re: Someone with access to an MRI machine has misunderstood machine learning again...

I heard the Rob Newman radio show in question. He is a very funny comedian. He is not a neuroscientist. He appeared to seriously misunderstand what is going on in analyses of fMRI signals which aim at stimulus decoding. There are some freely available papers by Niko Kriegskorte that explain it. Here is a good one (I think this one is now free) https://www.pnas.org/content/103/10/3863. [ BTW I am a neuroscientist. I was working information processing in neural networks, artificial and real, in the late 1980s, although I do more work with neuropsychologial patients these days. I don't know as much about this stuff now as people like Kreigskorte, who I have heard talk and who I am very impressed by. ]

Someone tried to poison a Florida city by hijacking its water treatment plant via TeamViewer, says sheriff

DrBobK

Lye?

I know what sodium hydroxide is and I know what caustic soda is, but I had no idea what 'lye' was until this article helpfully informed me. Is 'lye' a term favoured by Americans?

Smartphones are becoming like white goods, says analyst, with users only upgrading when their handsets break

DrBobK

Batteries

I'm surprised there are so many comments suggesting people change their phone when the battery dies. I have got another 18 months to 2 years out of replacement batteries which cost a fraction of a new phone. I bought smartphones in 2008, 2014, and 2019. The first two had 3rd party battery replacements (1st one done by me, second one done by a bloke in a tiny shop) that extended their lives by said 18 month to a couple of years. All iPhones if you care. Apple have, finally, come out with a new feature that tempts me - a small size option. I'll still probably wait, do the battery replacement for the XS in a year or two and get a new phone in 2024 though.

Linux developers get ready to wield the secateurs against elderly microprocessors

DrBobK

Re: Dear me

I have a working original IBM PC from about 1982 with original monitor in my office at work.

Apple's M1: the fastest and bestest ever silicon = revolution? Nah, there's far more interesting stuff happening in tech that matters to everyone

DrBobK

...leads to extinction when that ecosystem changes.

This is the company that switched from Motorola 680x0 to PowerPC to Intel to Apple's own take on ARM pretty painlessly*. They seem quite good at dealing with major changes to me. Pretty ridiculous article if you ask me.

* I'm not counting the 6502 - switching from that also involved the user switching to a quite different OS/Interface.

Rocket Lab to equip 'Return to Sender' with parachutes amid plans to catch an Electron booster with a helicopter

DrBobK

Saturn V catcher

I just loved reading the page on the Hiller concept 'copter designed (?) to catch a Saturn V Stage 1 in mid-air and fly it hundreds of km/miles home!

BBC makes switch to AWS, serverless for new website architecture, observers grumble about the HTML

DrBobK

Re: Does this change explain

I think the new font is the BBC's very own new 'Reith' font. It was, at one point available to download in case you were going to create any content for the BBC. It is horrible. I can't understand why on earth they thought they needed their own font, let alone one as ugly as this. They were planning to move everything over to 'Reith' in the future.

Third event in 3 months, Apple. There better be some Arm-powered Macs this time

DrBobK

Re: Date, what date?

Replying to my own comment after a quick google - the 10th of November.

DrBobK

Date, what date?

So Apple have set a data for this thing and announced it, but you are keeping it secret?

NHS COVID-19 launch: Risk-scoring algorithm criticised, the downloads, plus public told to 'upgrade their phones'

DrBobK

Re: At this time, what's the point?

Quarantine in response to notification from the app is voluntary, so you will not be fined if you ignore it (although you will likely be an idiot). Quarantine in response to a call from Serco's track and trace is not voluntary and you may be fined if you ignore the instruction.

Classy move: C++ 20 wins final approval in ISO technical ballot, formal publication expected by end of year

DrBobK

I'd upvote this 100 times if I could. So many loonies. They may know tons of stuff about programming, but still clearly loonies.

Apple to Epic: Sue me? No, sue you, pal!

DrBobK
Holmes

Sosumi - missed opportunity.

Surely you could have worked Sosumi into the headline somehow for all the Apple historians out there?

US Air Force shows off latest all-electric flying car, says it 'might seem straight out of a Hollywood movie'

DrBobK
Paris Hilton

Skateboarders

Barrett said back when the project was launched, "but by partnering today with stakeholders across industries and agencies, we can set up the United States for this aerospace phenomenon."

I read this as "but by partnering today with SKATEBOARDERS across industries and agencies..."

I think they might have more success if they did partner with skateboarders for this one.

Smoke on the Tyne: Blaze at BT exchange causes major outages across North East England

DrBobK

I'm in Durham City on BT and have had no issues. Durham exchange is 21CN so I suspect we are not dependent on Newcastle (Hadrian House?).

When a deleted primary device file only takes 20 mins out of your maintenance window, but a whole year off your lifespan

DrBobK
Headmaster

/dev

A friend of mine who was doing his PhD and programming PCs in Prolog to do something to do with analysing people's understanding of skin diseases (shades of The Singing Detective) took it on himself to 'tidy up' a sparcstation 2 that was about to replace something ancient we'd been using as a fileserver and host for some early experiments in website design (this is 1990 or so). For some reason he decided (as root) to delete /dev as it seemed to be full of lots of useless empty files. Not a good idea.The machine was connected to a network and the console was running the SunOS 4.1 GUI with a terminal open. I did not know much more than my friend, but I did have my own Sun 3/60 and I'd been on a short course for scientists who had to deal with new-fangled workstation things. I have forgotten how I did it, but armed with my trusty SERC 'how to be a unix system admin' manual that came with the two day course I'd done, I managed to retrieve everything. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

After 84 years, Japan's Olympus shutters its camera biz, flogs it to private equity – smartphones are just too good

DrBobK

If you have deepish pockets in both literal and metaphorical senses then the RX1R II wins the best image quality in jacket pocket stakes hands-down. Full frame sensor, good Zeiss lens specifically designed for a small package. Amazing camera (I own a second-hand one).

If Fairphone can support a 5-year-old handset, the other vendors could too. Right?

DrBobK

I expect that I will be downvoted...

You didn't mention that the latest software updates for iPhones (13.5.1) apply to phones back to the 6S - a 2015 phone. Looks as if Apple provide long term support too.

Adobe about to pull the plug on Creative Cloud freebie 'at-home' access for students

DrBobK
Headmaster

Autodesk

Just a quick thanks to Autodesk who (in contrast to Adobe) are really good to users in education. I've had free Maya and Arnold licences from them when I needed them (for research purposes, not commercial ones). Good on them!

Only true boffins will be able to grasp Blighty's new legal definitions of the humble metre and kilogram

DrBobK
Headmaster

Candela

What is the new full definition of the Candela? It is an interesting SI unit because it is not defined wholly in physical terms. It is a psychophysical unit in that it takes into account the function relating the sensitivity of the human visual system to lights of different wavelengths (V(lambda)). There should only be one wavelength where the candela can be defined wholly physically, for every other wavelength that value (in watts per steradian - that's where you can get the caesium atom transitions and fractions of the speed of light in) there must be multiplication by V(lambda). Someone just has to measure that (V(lambda)) with real people by asking them to make judgements about the relative brightness of lights of different colours (wavelengths). How is that bit (measurement of V(lambda)) now defined?

25 years of PHP: The personal web tools that ended up everywhere

DrBobK

Ancient history

The article makes a good point about the need for PHP at the time (25 years ago). I wrote CGI code in C when we had Mosaic as a browser and HTTPd as an HTTP server in about 1994. Although I love C, it wasn't really ideal for spitting out HTML (1.0) - PHP was much easier.

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