* Posts by Peter H. Coffin

231 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Aug 2007


Valve shows Linux love with SteamOS for gamers

Peter H. Coffin

Re: In addition to Steam it's also Linux

>> "Norton, McAfee, Kaspersky and all of the other $100B/yr parasitic " - I take it you haven't looked at Android store lately

> Android isn't Linux - it uses a (modified) Linux kernel, but the App layers are completely different. So I'm not sure of the relevance of that.

Android's linux, for most reasons that matter. But the issue is 100% not about "whether antivirus has been written" and IS 100% about whether it's actually needful. I could write antivir for OpenBSD or System i too, and probably find a few morons to buy it, but is it going to protect anything really vulnerable from anything common enough to be an appreciable hazard? No.

Xbox One users will have to pay extra for Skype and gamer-gratifying DVR

Peter H. Coffin

"But Kinect 2 is far more powerful than anything the PS4 has in that space"

However true, that's somewhat like telling me I should buy a Civic instead of a Mondeo because it has better vacuum attachments for one's driving pleasure.

Senators: You - Cook. Apple guy. Get in here and bring your tax books

Peter H. Coffin

Re: The US are special that way

Only on the income earned in excess of a certain amount (something in excess of US$90000, which is what? £60000?), and not spent on certain kinds of housing. Essentially, $900000 + what you spend on housing becomes a deduction on your income for purposes of figuring what US tax you owe. If your income is less than that, you owe the US government *nothing*. If you earn $125000 worldwide, it'll come to a few hundred dollars of tax. In short, If you've earning enough for it even to become more than a nuisance, the amount of sympathy from normal wage-earners with average incomes is going to be ... somewhat limited.

Alleged CIA spook cuffed by Russians: US Gmail 'spycraft' revealed

Peter H. Coffin

The only thing that lends a shred of credibility to this at all is that he had a backpack full of cash. Presumably more than he made in any legitimate enterprise.

Quid-a-day nosh challenge hack in bullet-hard chickpea drama

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Last all week?

Hell, if you're willing to add water and re-boil it at least daily before eating, it can stay in the lidded pot and never get moved into refrigeration at all. You can probably even just add half a quid's worth of other food to it daily and keep the thing going quite a long time. (My personal record for a stew is just under four weeks. Only quit because I was headed out on a holiday and wouldn't be around to maintain it.)

As an aside, 10kg of rice is often only about 5-6 times the cost of 1kg of rice. The real trick to getting people into a state where they're able to manage poverty is to make sure they live indoors with cooking facilities and storage space, and have a lump of cash to initially acquire cookware and set up the pantry, mostly because dry staples (flour, dry milk, sugar, rice, oats, salt) cost so much less in substantial quantities. Dry staples, a supply of eggs, and some vitamin supplements and your diet is monotonous but sustaining.

Can't find your motor? Apple patents solve car park conundrums

Peter H. Coffin

Even more fun, in the US, Verizon *has already been selling this*, as an add-on accessory. Look for Verizon Vehicle Diagnostics by Delphi.

Peter H. Coffin

Re: A pen anyone

which lasts until you're parked someplace where the ticket must be pre-paid and placed someplace visible to prove you've paid to park there. That is, any place that doesn't number the actual spaces which depend on idiots (that is, other people) to remember a three-digit number for whole minutes.

Student falsely IDed by Reddit as Boston bomber found dead

Peter H. Coffin

Re: I'll get my baseball bat

Were there mobs? Runs on hardware stores for pitchforks? Any confirmed instances of even would-be gumshoe actually putting foot to pavement in search of Tripathi as result of the accusation?

I'm not asking as to say that citizen action is never wrong, but rather that this kind of action, the armchair analysis, doesn't so much seem to become wrong. Where vigilante mobs seem to happen is where "everybody knows" even beforehand who they think their target is, and are all fired up to *take action*, not all fired up *to critically think about what actually happened*. If anything, I'd expect the opposite effect: vigilante analysis taking some of the pressure away from vigilante action because it's a way to vent the need to DO SOMETHING in a way that's at worst useless. Probably even better than that if the crowd tends to incite people to argue their point rather than run down to the hardware store....

Software bug halts Curiosity: Nuke lab bot in safe mode

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Can you imagine the stress...

"IPL Type D" comes to mind...

Damn... I though I'd recycled those braincells.

So everyone's piling into PCIe flash: Here's a who's who guide

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Business, meh.

'zactly. Desktops are lucky to have two, and even luckier if the case and cooling configuration actually allow both to be used with the massive size of today's video cards.

First rigid airship since the Hindenburg enters trials

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Airships vs Helicopters

Airships are also incredibly useful for situations where the need to spend a LOT of time in the area is paramount. Their speeds are enough that they can keep station in almost any weather, they're fairly quiet as flying things go, and they can get in close to places because they can move very slowly. And once there, they can hang around for DAYS, not mere hours. You might not even need to land that surgical suite; just winch up patients, treat, and winch them back down for post-op care where they are and move the suite on to the next site.

Peter H. Coffin

Re: 'rare and expensive helium'

It's rare down here at the bottom of a gravity well full of other gasses and water and monkeys and things. Hydrogen we can at least extract from the water, which is already down here with us. Helium doesn't hook up with other things, so it's not something we can extract from other stuff that's around, and once we let it leak away, it goes up to the top of the atmosphere and stays there until something blows it off.

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Old idea?

"The Great Gas Bag Race" story, published as part of the Mad Scientists Club series, by Bertrand R. Brinley. I loved that series....

File-sharing mom begs US Supremes to void bloated RIAA fine

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Piracy just isn't fair

Interestingly, the state have mostly set the penalties for writing a fraudulent cheque to be "pay it back, plus three times the amount punitively to the state". That's be an perfectly reasonable fine, IMHO, and probably something that most people could afford for the even hundreds of tracks they're accused of sharing, but it's enough to make people actually consider how "free" the downloading actually is.

I don't think the recording industry will think that's worth the attorney's time, though.

Facebook ditches mobile HTML with native Android app

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Twice as fast?

It's faster than visiting the regular site on a mobile browser in my limited experience. It's also more often sized appropriately for the device; it actually looks (on a tablet) that it was actually written with a tablet in mind.

Long-distance robot makes landfall in Oz

Peter H. Coffin

Oh no!

Java-coded robot at sea for over a year without an update! How are they EVER going to get that ask.com toolbar installed??

Peter H. Coffin

Basically, you have a floaty bit, and a sunken bit attached by some something solid or at least inelastic. The floaty bit bobs on waves bigger than it is long. So it rides up and down. The sunken bit isn't affected much by the wave, but since it's attached, it gets dragged up and down through the water. If you attach some flappy planes or wings to the sunken bit, arranged so that they can swivel some through horizontal on an offset pivot, that up-and-down gets vectored into a small amount of thrust in the direction that the pivot is offset, which shoves the sunken bit forward, dragging the floaty bit along with it. It's not much thrust, each wave, but it's essentially free, and if you coat the floaty bit with enough solar cells (and/or attach generation equipment to your flappy planes), you make a robot boat out of it that will go where the robot brain says to, eventually,

Twenty years of text messages: We've reached Peak SMS

Peter H. Coffin

Perhaps part of it is that people are slowly coming to realize how tremendously expensive the things are, and that they are exactly 100% pure unadulterated profit to the providers. There is literally no incremental cost of the thing -- it's using an unused data channel in the signal and broadcasts on that on an "as available" basis, so it costs literally nothing to send or receive.

Hotel blames burglaries on hacked Onity card locks

Peter H. Coffin

Re: All eggs in one basket

Real keys put you right into a different basket of problems: that there will exist only a small number of keys for each room, that keys become expensive to replace instead of cheap, and it becomes impractical to change the locks every time a guest leaves. The early part of the Arthur Hailey novel "Hotel" (and his character Julius "Keycase" Milne) is recommended as an example of how hotel burglaries were ROUTINELY a problem in the "real key" era.

Ten technology FAILS

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Video CD.

Nope, all of my Laserdiscs are still in good shape.

One week left before US faces clamp down on piracy

Peter H. Coffin

Re: These companies can blow themselves

Infrastructure is OLD and DISTANT. There is a lot of territory to cover.

Facebook proposes killing off user voting on policy changes

Peter H. Coffin

Re: subset of message

I have a suspicion that they simply cannot manage their data well enough to get a coherent and stable set of "everything" , that they have many many database servers, each if which have inconsistent copies, and the majority of the early problems with "not seeing everything" were completely technical problems, which have now been institutionalized and and the bandage fixes have been monetized and will therefore NEVER EVER get fixed.

Brits swallow Google Nexus 4 supply 'in 30 minutes'

Peter H. Coffin

Re: What proof of Artificial limiting of supply?

30k phones at one Apple Store? Hardly. Pretend a box with a phone in is is 15cm x 10 x 5. stack phone retail boxes in cases, probably 30 per box. 12 cases per row on a pallet, probably no more than 5 rows high. That's 1500 phones per pallet, roughly. You can NOT convince me that a typical Apple Store has stock space to store 20 pallets. They MIGHT be able to handle 2. They wouldn't be able to run credit cards and offer overpriced service contracts fast enough to get 3000 phones out the door in 12 hours.

FTC shuts down five US robocall operations

Peter H. Coffin

Re: About fucking time.

Today's call is completely different. If was from "Jennifer" instead.

Dry martini, shaken not stirred: Cracking the physics of Bond's martini

Peter H. Coffin

Re: So much nonsense

It is true that tasting (and more generally perception) is the important thing. However, the parts that are bullshit are still bullshit even though they're trying to explain something noticed by tasting. It's as rational as saying "A wizard did it.". Complex hydrocarbons change back and forth between many things when you are dealing with factors such as two very different solvents (water, alcohol), one of which is right at the phase change point, and you're throwing different kinds of agitation into the picture, especially if you end up with even a little sugars into the mix, such as would be likely to ride in on a barreled spirit, a vermouth, etc.

New I-hate-my-neighbour stickers to protect Brits' packages

Peter H. Coffin

posted stickers

One thought occurs: having the stickers delivered means one can't loot the stack of them, and put them up at all the neighbors' so as to not be bothered with other people's packages.

Google's Nexus 7 tabs 'can't perform' if flash RAM crammed

Peter H. Coffin

Re: You say false advertising, I say lack of understanding of technology.

Or, for that matter, that their 1TB hard drive only has 931GB on it once the formatting and marketing has chalked up "TB" drives that hold 1000 "GB", that are 1000 "MB" each, made up of 1000 "KB" per, instead of powers of two like the engineers intended.

The real problem isn't the amount of storage on the devices -- users know they're not going to get the full measure there. The problem is how poorly the device handles nearing the capacity. If the gizmo requires a reserve, then it shouldn't show the reserve space as free. Proper OSs don't let mere mortals use ALLLLL the disk space either, reserving what they need to operate. Automobiles show "E" on the fuel gauge well before the fuel runs out as well. Why not this thing as well?

'This lawsuit is not about patents or money, it's about values'

Peter H. Coffin

Re: (**) Jokes really don't work when you explain then, do they?

Even if it doesn't get the guffaw, an explained joke can still be appreciated for its artfulness. Which is better than being left to wonder if this is some Wodehousian mystery left unread...

AT&T defends FaceTime price gouge

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Isn't it more like

The issue is that AT&T already has various means of capping data, and applies those. So the amount of data that FaceTime specifically uses isn't really part of the discussion -- that problem is already provided for. That one can use OTHER video call apps to get around the tariff points out clearly that AT&T wants to charge users extra money to use FaceTime because it's FaceTime, not because it's a bandwidth hog, or because it slows down their network or any other reason.

SurfTheChannel Brit movie pirate gets 4 YEARS' PORRIDGE

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Evil pirates of the high seas!

That's no better! Going without harms the industry harms the industry as much as the piracy does! What possible justification can you have for doing without when it robs poor media producers from their deserved sales?

Success! Curiosity Mars lander arrives precisely on schedule

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Congrats to NASA

Yes, landing in the crater was the point. If there's anything interesting left on Mars (water, evidence of prior, maybe life, whatever), it's going to be in deep holes, shadowed places, protected areas.That's where the cool stuff is going to be

Valve to raise Steam for Ubuntu

Peter H. Coffin

Well, if you only open Steam (which updates every 8-12 weeks) twice a year to play Team Fortress 2 (which has an update about quarterly) then yes, it's going to need updating "Every. Sodding. Time." If you open it when you boot, and let the thing sit in the background sucking up its 0.2% CPU occasionally and squatting on 32MB of your 8 GB of memory, then everything's ready when you actually want to play.

The real point, IMHO, is Steam means that Valve games can be updated. Things get FIXED. Games get new material. New hardware with new drivers don't end up rendering your game permanently incompatible. Gosh, that's horrible.

Global warming: It's GOOD for the environment

Peter H. Coffin

Okay, let's just put out there and admire for a bit: When discussing effects and consequences, the whole question of "natural increase vs man-made" goes right out the window. It is moot. It does not matter. It is a specialised case of Godwin's Law, where no more useful information will be forthcoming from the conversation. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE ON THE QUESTION OF CONSEQUENCES because the same actions will (eventually) need to be taken and exactly the same things will or will not work.

Peter H. Coffin

100 year old record broken!

We're setting aside that the vast majority of the US doesn't even HAVE temperature recordings older much older than 100 years, often because it didn't have thermometers there then?

Door creaks and girl farts: computing in the real world

Peter H. Coffin

I consult. It is MY JOB to make things easier for clients. That means that yes, there is a USB DVD drive in my bag of kit. There's even a USB floppy drive in that bag of kit. Along with a couple USB 802.11a/b/g/n gizmos and a couple of spare card readers in case someone needs to show me something on a CF card. Instead of complaining about what modern hardware does without, I prepare to do with. Do I need that all the time? No. But when I do, I look like fasking GENIUS for having it along.

Atari turns 40: Pong, Pac-Man and a $500 gamble

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Apple I and II GUI? WTF?

280 by 192, and it was essentially 4 colors, with some funky tricks to overdrive it to six (or eight depending on your definition), with some rules about adjacent colors allowed. The waffling was that if you counted eight, there were two different blacks and two different whites.

FCC: Let's kill analogue early, fob diehards off with converter boxes

Peter H. Coffin

Re: If only you knew

Nope. It's great strides forward in error correction. The correctable errors get CORRECTED. It's a step back in error tolerance and compensation because a degraded but possibly useful signal is not passed on if it cannot be fully corrected, and since there's no facility for retransmission of uncorrectable data, nothing can be done but wait for the signal to get better enough to fall into the correctable range again.

Facebook joins Google in warning DNSChanger victims

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Presumably

So.... what's your answer? "What Google and Facebook are doing" has been doing for a non-trivial amount of time. Those that remain infected are so oblivious that it's not cleaning up more anymore. That's the whole point. These at the fist-thumpers you talk about but I don't see options other than forcing them to fix it on the pain of firing them as a customer. And no, you DON'T need every customer you can get because if they're too expensive to keep over this, they're costing you money in other ways already, that your management may or may not see as obvious, but will come out in the end. And, clearly, there's 360,000 of them spread all over the world, so they're obviously not all yours.

EU gives Google till July to offer fix for search dominance

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Really couldn't care less

One point here...

All your answers would be valued if the complaint from the EU had fuck all to do with browsers. It doesn't. It has to do with search engine sites.

You know what Google needs? Another Street View data-slurp probe

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Why MAC useful

Not to mention that MAC data is useful for laptops to locate themselves, and most of them don't have GPS hardware at all. That's what that little "browser wants to share your location data with application" popup DOES once you press Yes: it sends the relevant network information off to Google, Google says "This is where we think that WIFI thing is", and the widget announces that to the application. Usually that's good enough for several tens of metres of accuracy.

Ultrabooks: objects of desire but just too darn expensive

Peter H. Coffin

Re: ".....But if they stay priced above £800....."

Mostly because punters have *no reason* to spend a lot of money to upgrade a machine. The vast majority of people are doing things on laptops that laptops have done adequately well for a decade, and don't have much interest in upgrading at all. They're moving photos off of cameras, reading email, doing a bit of web surfing, watching videos and playing Solitare just like they always have, and that doesn't necessitate a new laptop every three years. It necessitates one when something important breaks or replacing the battery yet again gets more expensive than buying a new machine. And bottom-end laptops will do all of those things perfectly well.

Steve Jobs' Atari memo, Apple I to go under the hammer

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Such a shame

Heh. It's worth remembering that standard game controller for the Apple I, ][, and ][+ was a set of paddle knobs. It wasn't until the //e that joysticks (internally designed as two paddles at opposing axis and notable for NOT being 8-position hat controls like everyone else's joysticks) became typical enough to expect players to own them.

SpaceX Dragon chokes at the last second

Peter H. Coffin

Re: To quote Top Gear... How Hard Can It Be™

Building something with an 80% chance of working, getting to orbit and not blowing up unintentionally is easy. Trivial, even, if you have a couple million lying around. Building something with a 95% chance is a little harder, and 99% harder still. Shutdowns like this are part of the 99% "not blowing up" work, putting in a little gizmo that can say "Hmm, this might blow up and we can still stop it. Let's do so."

Researchers propose solution to ‘bufferbloat’

Peter H. Coffin

It's 1985 again

... and someone needs to invent Zmodem-over-IP. How quickly people forget about things like sliding-window packet handling...

Matt Groening reveals location of Simpsons' Springfield

Peter H. Coffin

Re: ALL comedy shows stop being funny after several series

I will certainly admit that "Friends" and "Seinfeld" were evenly funny from beginning to end. But I found them both tediously annoying from beginning to end rather than funny in an absolute sense.

Size DOES matter: Nokia snubs Apple's royalty-free nano-SIM

Peter H. Coffin

Re: SIMs?

The whole point of these things isn't about the size, it's about granting an effective carrier lock-in for a while. Change a standard but essential bit that's supposed to be interchangeable with the world, only tell your friends what the new thing looks like, and and the wondergizmo only works with the things that your friends have had time to produce. Any competitors don't have the other thing until they've had time to license the new thing, design their prototype, build production for it and add it to their distribution channels. For those months or years before the competition has production and distribution started, there's no "wander to the shop, get new provider" option.

Pair of double-As give you cheap, quick charge

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Progress :-(

They're *technically* user-removable. But with the amount of levering of delicate hidden clips and the lack of obvious catches that modern phones are equipped with, I doubt that the covers would survive even a hundred battery swaps without breaking somehow. It's nothing at all like how phones were built even ten years ago, when batteries were obvious, massive enough to last for weeks, and intended to be swapped in a second or two by any untrained orangutan.

Mass Effect 3

Peter H. Coffin

Sorry, the cute blue "bisexual" "female" aliens are designed for character and interesting story *as well as* fanservice.

SUNKEN LINER Titanic iceberg riddle answer FOUND ON MOON

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Common misconceptions

There's an interesting book written about that and flotsam in general called "Moby-Duck".

'Kill yourself now' - Torvalds throws openSUSE security tantrum

Peter H. Coffin

Re: Re: Re: Hmm

And, for that matter, since when has sudo and it's myriad possibilities for fine-grained access control over which bits can run with elevated privileges become poison? (There's lots of rants out there covering why sudo (configured to provide access to everything, often without demanding passwords) is bad,, but I've yet to hear of a credible reason for not using it sensibly configured.

(And, frankly, if you're going to send your own daughter off to school without the root password to her own laptop, you deserve all the support telephone calls you get. Didn't you teach her not to be an idiot, Linus?)