* Posts by DrBobK

212 publicly visible posts • joined 17 May 2011

Page:

Apple Vision Pro units returned as folks just can't see themselves using it

DrBobK

Re: So, even Apple can't get it right

The first iteration of the iPhone was a bit crap. I've heard they sell quite well now.

Damn Small Linux returns after a 12-year gap

DrBobK
Headmaster

Re: Small?

Indeed. I ran a very small RT-11 setup on a hand-me-down 11-73 that was somewhat resource limited. Enough for me to learn DECUS C on and to use to control experimental hardware and log data using a hand-me-down CED card with digital and analog I/O. No GUI though :-)

Apple has botched 3D for decades. So good luck with the Vision Pro, Tim

DrBobK

Also every new version of Unity breaks something in my existing code.

At last: The BBC Micro you always wanted, in Mastodon form

DrBobK

My computing experience started with a job teaching undergraduate psychology students BBC BASIC on a room full of Model Bs. It was one of those, 'read the book so you stay a week ahead of the students' gigs for me, but it meant I learned the ins and outs of BBC BASIC quite thoroughly. A year or so later I was writing fairly complex programs in 6502 assembler on BBC Model Bs (with re-entrant interrupt routines, linked lists, reading data and controlling external hardware). I then learned C (on a PDP-11/73 - there was no complete C implementation on the BBC micro) and never looked back (apart from an odd interlude updating some ancient code in FORTAN-2). I ow it all (well, not all), to The BBC Micro.

Another airline finds loose bolts in Boeing 737-9 during post-blowout fleet inspections

DrBobK

Re: I hope they also covered

'The Comet' was, and still is, a slightly downmarket hotel. Its across the road from the Hatfield Galleria (a shopping mall built over the A1). I remember seeing the red model aeroplane at the front of the hotel when I was a kid. Many years later I used to stay there when I was external examiner at Hatfield. I quite like it - faded glory and all that. The red aeroplane is still there.

Swarms of laser-flown bots visiting a planet light years away – and more NASA-funded projects revealed

DrBobK
Headmaster

The Moon and Massachusetts

> sensors powered by nuclear batteries that generate electric power from radioactive decay to be used on the Moon, and Massachusetts

I read that as 'the Moon and Massachusetts' and started to wonder what catastrophe had left Massachusetts without the ability to generate electricity or get it from other states. Very likely an experiment going horribly wrong, conducted in secret by those pesky, meddling, left-wing, pinko boffins at MIT and Harvard.

War of the workstations: How the lowest bidders shaped today's tech landscape

DrBobK

Re: Instant Mutability of Software Systems

It became CenterLine and then ObjectWorks. There some good screenshots at:

https://www.softwarepreservation.org/projects/interactive_c/saberc/saberc

DrBobK

Re: Instant Mutability of Software Systems

A long time ago (Sun3 era) I had a C++ environment called Sabre C++ (there was a name change at some point, I can't remember the newer name). It was very expensive, but worth it. You could compile your C++ in a debugger, set breakpoints and so on, but when you reached a breakpoint you could set the system to switch to its C++ interpreter, which, of course, allowed you to modify not only variables, but also code on the fly. You could step through like this until you reached a point where you resumed the compiled code. All quite amazing. I've never seen anything like it again. I think it died of expense and people buying cheap hardware and software.

Japanese brewery using generative AI to dream up new beverages

DrBobK
Pint

Re: Humans are still worse than AI

Many years ago I was told (so this might not be true, but it was my Dad who told me, and he'd just done some consulting work for Guinness) that in some African countries Guinness was usually mixed with condensed milk to make a sweeter and more dense drink. Guinness made a special variant to suit this market - small bottles of very alcoholic Guinness (9% I think). There must be some truth in this because I have drunk one of those bottles of super-Guinness (without condensed milk). It was good, but sadly not available in the UK.

Veteran editors Notepad++ and Geany hit milestone versions

DrBobK
Headmaster

Re: EMACS or death

KED or EDT from PDP-11 days. I can't remember if EDT was available for the RT-11 OS, which was what I mainly used a long time ago. Then I got a Sun and it was EMACS from then on.

Revival of Medley/Interlisp: Elegant weapon for a more civilized age sharpened up again

DrBobK
Headmaster

Re: BBC Micro -Lisp

I learned to program on a BBC Micro. First BASIC (which, as a PhD student, I was teaching to university undergrads - I was one or two weeks ahead of them), then 6502 assembler (because I had a couple of psychology research projects involving control and data collection from multiple units of custom hardware which couldn't be run any other way - I have written thousands of lines of assembler), then LISP (for fun, but I learned enough to get it to do useful things and *it made me change the way I thought about programming*).

I only learned C after all of those, and it seems to me that that was a good order for learning languages. I wrote a lot of things in C, but I suspect with quite a bit of LISP inspiration. After that I did some maintenance on some code written in FORTRAN-2, some newer stuff written in FORTRAN-IV (no chance of any style in either of these), quite a lot of C++ (neural network simulations), some C# (as the language you had to use with Unity), and tons and tons of MATLAB (we had equipment which only came with libraries for MATLAB). BTW, I'm not a programmer, I'm a University Professor, and this journey through programming started when I was a PhD student over 40 years ago - BBC LISP definitely played an important role, even though I never really used it in anger).

Pope tempted by Python! Signs off on coding scheme for kids

DrBobK

Sixty hours to learn just the *basics* of python!

Down and out: Barclays Bank takes unplanned digital detox, customers not invited

DrBobK

Re: Customers of the bank, whose values include "Excellence" and "Service"...

I get an alert on my phone every time I pay for something from my Barclays account (not including standing orders and direct debits). I can't remember when they started doing this, but is has been like this for at least two years I think. It may not work for cheques, but I haven't used one of them for years. I'm not being a Barclay's fan, just a point of information in case anyone is interested.

Getting to the bottom of BMW's pay-as-you-toast subscription failure

DrBobK

Re: don't forget - 2CV spark-plugs and *proper* BMWs

Changing the 2CV's spark plugs was a bit of a nightmare though - nowhere near enough room to get a normal plug-spanner between the plug and the bodywork. I never attempted anything that might have needed taking the cylinder heads off. The curse of putting a boxer engine in a car. Boxer engines are much easier to work on when they are in a *proper* BMW. My last proper BMW was an R90S.

Google rebrands 'android' as 'Android' to remove any doubt about its affiliations

DrBobK
Gimp

Pinhead

I thought the one on the right was PinheadAndroid from Hellraiser...

University cuts itself off from internet after mystery security snafu

DrBobK
Headmaster

MTS

They’d have been fine if they’d still been running MTS.

Airbus to help with International Space Station replacement

DrBobK

2001

I'm hoping it will be a big, rotating, circular space station with a Hilton hotel in it (and video phone booths).

A room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductor? Take a closer look

DrBobK
Headmaster

Grauniad Science... a superb howler

There was a beautiful correction to a science article in the Grauniad the other day. From memory it went something like "An earlier version of this article reported that there were about 1057 molecules in the sun, rather than 10^57."

Lamborghini's last remaining pure gas guzzlers are all spoken for

DrBobK

My Harley (1992 Fatboy) has an aftermarket exhaust and some engine mods. It always gets a warning note on the MOT about noise levels.

One year after Roe v Wade overturned and 'uterus surveillance' looks grim

DrBobK

Re: The USSA police state

> Name 3 Jewish people who consider "being Jewish as being part of a race".

Me, for one. Not religious at all, but I know where I would have ended up if I'd lived where my grandparents did and had been born 30 years earlier.

The return of the classic Flying Toasters screensaver

DrBobK
Mushroom

Re: Bonus points ...

I bought "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland", a live album by The Jefferson Airplane, sometime in the 1970s. It has superb flying toasters on the cover (they sued Berkeley systems over copyright but lost because no-one at Berkeley systems had seen the album - philistines). The title "Thirty Seconds Over Winterland" is, of course, a riff on the 1944 film "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" which was about a bombing raid on Tokyo led by Gen. Jimmy Doolittle. I claim my bonus points, and my certified old hippie status.

Plagiarism-sniffing Turnitin tries to find AI writing by students – with mixed grades

DrBobK
Headmaster

ChatGPT isn't good enough yet

My experience, from asking chatGPT to generate answers to various exam questions I have set, is that chatGPT answers would get 2ii marks at best, and that it is pretty obvious that they were not written by a human, or at least someone with a good grasp of structuring an argument and use of evidence. I've also tried software intended to detect machine generated text. It always classified the chatGPT output as more the 97% likely to be machine generated. If, however, I rewrote the first two or three sentences (so a very small portion of the essay) the ratings changed to 2 or 3% likely to be machine generated (this wasn't Turinitin, but it was meant to be the best chatGPT detector at the time). Personally, I think if students want to use chatGPT they should be allowed to. They'd have to do so much work editing the chatGPT output that a good answer would still demonstrate a student's understanding of a topic and their use and knowledge of appropriate evidence in supporting an argument. Yours truly, an old Professor.

This US national lab turned to AI to hunt rogue nukes

DrBobK

Gadget - I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds...

Love the use of the term 'gadget' at the end of the second paragraph. The first plutonium bomb with an implosion design (rather than the simpler but more constrained and less efficient gun design) was referred to as 'the gadget'.

Scientists speak their brains: Please don’t call us boffins

DrBobK
Headmaster

I'm a professor in a science department at an old university with old buildings (and some new). I am a man with very long hair and a beard. I love being called a boffin, but my female colleagues are as boffiny as me and therefore deserve to be referred to as boffins too.

Transmission FOSS BitTorrent client hits version 4.0

DrBobK

Re: Still torrenting

A friend of mine (cough cough) torrents TV shows that he has access to through various streaming services that he has paid accounts on because there are fewer glitches watching the torrented file than when watching the stream.

Oh, 07734! Internet Archive debuts vintage calculator emulator

DrBobK
Headmaster

Ti-51...

I still have three or four working Ti-SR-51s of various versions sitting in a draw (good for stats) so I am in no need of mere emulators (followed by evil 'ha ha ha' laugh)!

Theranos' Sunny Balwani gets longer sentence than Elizabeth Holmes

DrBobK

If the only victims had been Larry Ellison, Betsy DeVos, Rupert Murdoch, and the Walton family then Holmes and Balwani could have been noble heroes - unfortunately many, many other people suffered because of the Theranos fraud.

Z-Library operators arrested, charged with criminal copyright infringement

DrBobK

Is it still on Tor?

If you think 5G is overhyped, wait till you meet 5.5G

DrBobK

In the large University where I work we too have an extensive 0G service. Even outside. Even on the top of a hill with no obstructions.

India's Mars Orbiter Mission loses contact, burns all fuel, deemed 'non-recoverable'

DrBobK
Angel

From the image it captured it appears to have missed Mars altogether and instead is heading towards a giant space Yorkshire pudding.

The crime against humanity that is the modern OS desktop, and how to kill it

DrBobK

System 7 - the horror, the horror.

I used to use, and program for, System 7. You'd be lucky if it stayed up for a whole day - it just crashed on me for no apparent reason even when just using it for word processing. SunOS3.5, on the other hand, stayed solid for months despite my imposing all sorts of horrible 'optimisations' on it using bits of 68K assembler I barely understood, embedded in C. Moral of the story - simple UI good, stable OS better.

General Motors charges mandatory $1,500 fee for three years of optional car features

DrBobK

Re: Other car manufacturers are available.

BMW are pretty good at supporting their products. A few years ago, when I had a 1974 BMW R90S, BMW still had all the parts available new together with all the manuals. After I bought it I got it serviced at a BMW dealership and they replaced worn components of the braking systems with new parts. I think the bike must have been about 40 years old at the time. Slightly off topic, but compare that to support for phones!

This is the military – you can't just delete your history like you're 15

DrBobK
Headmaster

Written reports on pron.

As a junior academic, but with some IT skills, I was once given the task of determining whether our senior IT technician, who had been caught 'red-handed' watching porn, had downloaded or viewed any illegal material. This was a very strange task, but the strangest, and hardest (not intended as ooh-err-missus) part was that I was expected to write a report for the Head of Department describing exactly what sort of things he had been watching even if they were not illegal. A rather tricky assignment, and I was never quite clear why the non-illegal material had to be desired in detail!

CAPSTONE mission is Moon-bound, after less rocketry than expected

DrBobK

Luna

Why 'Luna' and not 'the moon'?

Look to insects if you want to build tiny AI robots that are actually smart

DrBobK

The largest multicellular organisms on earth.

"The six-legged creatures are the largest and most diverse multi-cellular organisms on Earth."

I, for one, welcome our new (old) insect overlords.

Apple’s M2 chip isn’t a slam dunk, but it does point to the future

DrBobK

But it is the v small MBP, not the 14" or 16", which previously got Pro and Max variants of M1. I expect the larger MBPs will get M2Pro and M2Max when they appear.

Apple M1 chip contains hardware vulnerability that bypasses memory defense

DrBobK

ARM or Apple?

Is it an Apple issue or an ARM issue? Are there lots of ARM implementations out there based on ARM8.3 that have this pointer authentication issue or is it just the M1? BTW it sounds as if you are worse off with no pointer authentication than with pointer authentication that takes minutes to crack. I'm not an expert in such matters - just interested to know the answers.

The sad state of Linux desktop diversity: 21 environments, just 2 designs

DrBobK

Re: Why are they all the same? (Sun)

I was surprised that the author didn't include Sun's desktops in his or her survey. I really liked the Sun desktop that preceded Broken-Look (SunView that came with SunOS3.5, not the networking one). It was also fabulously easy to write applications for. All of the functions for creating and managing windows were varargs where the arguments were 'option' 'value' pairs. Any that you didn't specify had sensible defaults. You could actually see the event handling loop and so it was easy to insert a function (or functions) into it to trap events you wanted to deal with, everything else, again, was handled with sensible defaults.

DrBobK
Headmaster

Re: Why are they all the same? - Working for IBM.

I was one of those people paid by IBM in the early 80's to do some of these UI studies. We ran experiments where people used an editor where insert/overtype mode was either indicated by a change in the cursor (flashing block or flashing underline) or an indicator in a status bar which could be at various locations. We not only tested user reactions and editing speed, but we even eye-tracked them while they used the editor (pretty difficult at the time - the eye-tracker involved subjects wearing centre-less contact lenses with circular coils of wire embedded in them and much physics). The attention to details like this was really impressive.

Also, as the editor we used (ELM I think) was the (quite advanced for the time) standard on our University's MTS operating system, I could have fun replacing the standard ELM with one where the edit mode would change randomly with no indication, or the mode indicator would change but the mode wouldn't or both would change randomly, but independently. One of those great things where people begin to doubt their sanity. That wasn't strictly part of the project, but, as I said, mischevious fun. Anyway, thank you IBM for employing me (indirectly) for a year.

Meet Flamingo, Deepmind's latest open-ended AI

DrBobK

Off of. Really!

"Deepmind based Flamingo off of its own recently released 70-billion parameter Chinchilla language model, which was pre-trained."

Heresy: Hare programming language an alternative to C

DrBobK

Can someone explain the advantages in the language please?

I understand the advantage in reducing the likelihood of needing dependencies, but what are the advantages that the language itself offers over C (this isn't me being snidely or anything, I'm genuinely interested)?

RIP: Creators of the GIF and TRS-80

DrBobK

"He passed..."

Wow - he passed! I hope he doesn't die as well.

Saving a loved one from a document disaster

DrBobK

Re: Imperrfect

I wrote my thesis in WP4.2, but I chose the mad hybrid route of typesetting it in TeX (not LaTeX -that's for wimps), really just using WP as a nice editor (and it was nice compared to the other options - I'd used WordPlex on a DG Nova before - the horror, the horror).

UK.gov threatens to make adults give credit card details for access to Facebook or TikTok

DrBobK

Re: Idiocy

Sometimes sites used to require a US address. SomethingMadeUp Boulevard, Beverly Hills 90210 always worked well. It was the only zip code I knew.

Idea of downloading memories far-fetched say experts after Musk claim resurfaces in latest Neuralink development

DrBobK
Headmaster

I'm a cognitive neuropsychologist, but with a bit of a computational background (spent a summer at the Santa Fe Institute, refereed things about physics of computation, that sort of thing). Dr. Verstynen is right to draw an analogy with chaotic dynamics, but the brain situation is even worse. Typically, when one studies chaos the system is isolated - in brains new perturbations from the outside world keep bumping into it and the system never has the chance to settle into stable attractor dynamics - it is always on the way there - it never arrives (until we die). There are probably transient, sort of predictable, quasi-stable states induced by signals from outside world, but I don't think we have much of an idea at all about how these are formed and how they affect the rest of the brain. All a bit hand-wavy, but, at this stage that's probably all you're going to get. Elon is talking out of his hat.

Yrs truly, A Professor.

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.

Page: