* Posts by DrBobK

187 publicly visible posts • joined 17 May 2011

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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.

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.

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