* Posts by Peter Kay

647 publicly visible posts • joined 7 Feb 2007


IBM insider: How I caught my wife while bug-hunting on OS/2

Peter Kay
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Ah.. OS/2 :)

It was a lovely OS, despite its flaws. I used it both personally and professionally from 1993-1999 encompassing 2.0->4.5, plus forays into 1.3 (and bits of 1.1/1.2). The WPS was fantastic, the API lovely and clean, the documentation splendid, REXX very useful includings its infinite precision arithmetic and there was some unique and quirky software available for it, plus a welcoming and easy to access community.

Unfortunately it also got a lot wrong. The chief flaw was IBM's pursuit of OS/2 PPC/Taligent - if they hadn't bothered with that and had re-engineered OS/2 x86 it might still be a viable force in the OS world. I have to give Microsoft credit here - NT managed to create a decent design whilst maintaining compatibility with the horror that was 16 bit Windows. Till the end OS/2 was not a 32 bit clean system - the kernel has a lot of 16 bit code, 2.0 had a 16 bit GDI (fixed in a servicepack), windowing was 16 bit until Warp 3 and 32 bit graphics (GRADD) came in a service pack for Warp 3. DASD drivers I can't remeber - 32 bit came around Warp 3 too I think. OS/2 never fixed the Synchronous (*not* 'single') input queue problem although it was largely mitigated by Warp 3 FP17. Most users of OS/2 never got to use the 32 bit networking stack, either, and IPV6 support doesn't exist.

Still, let's talk more about what it got right - the generally splendid multimedia subsystem, the amazing X Server from Holger Veit, the sterling efforts of Stardock Systems with their productivity and games software (to this day I still play Galactic Civilisations 2 for OS/2 occasionally) and I must also give credit to Innotek who continued supporting OS/2 long beyond the point where they should have given up.. the pervasive multithreading, unparalleled V86 OS support (not just DOS - you could run other 16 bit OSes too..) but not by any means a) the progress bars that went backwards or b) the damned parrot video

I still have a heavily upgraded OS/2 Warp 4 system here, although it doesn't get much use and runs on fast Pentium 1 era hardware. Perhaps I'll migrate it over to Xen though, should be able to get it running on that..

Lesser-spotted Raspberry Pi FINALLY dished up

Peter Kay

Re: "The joys of weird connectors and the need to find SoG monitors."

I decided not to go for an Octane based on the fact it uses lots of power and sounds like a jet engine when in use, not that the O2 boxes are actually particularly quiet. At least the O2 uses a standard HD15 so I just needed to use an appropriate monitor..

If I had to get something better than an O2, I'd probably go for a Fuel, even if it isn't as fast as a full spec Octane and doesn't have quite the same sturdiness or design chic.

Peter Kay

Re: Turbo-Pascal Swearing

No one uses it. It's a horrid language that's completely unusable in its ISO standardised form, and useful but non standardised in its other forms. I don't care if it's fast - so is assembly...

For children a scripting language with decent libraries would be better, or some form of VM base Java/.NET language. I'd rather throw Logo in their direction than Pascal - at least Logo is fun to use, can actually write basic programs and creates pretty pictures too.

Peter Kay

Re: The 11 Euro Alternative

@cantennas - sorry, but no

I'd note, owning far too much Old Crap myself, it is MUCH more fun to use modern kit or a VM the vast majority of the time unless the old kit has specific custom hardware (like the SGI O2 I have, or the legacy DOS games PC with an AWE32, Voodoo2 and Roland sound modules). Even open source systems follow the progress of time - support for older hardware and processors is dropped, operating systems become larger despite cutdown distributions, and compiling the latest version of software is a pain in the arse.

Examples of the delights of owning old kit :

Noise, power. This is why the sparcstation 10 is in my loft, gathering dust.

Hardware that goes foom, especially power supplies. The price of a decent new power supply is considerably more than a second hand PC or a Raspberry Pi, and owing to the change in ATX specs between 1.3 and 2.x, you can't put a low power 2.x ATX PSU on a 1.x system, because the rail loading is different.

No drivers. In *theory*, e.g. the AMD Geode GX1 is supported by X, unfortunately it rotted in the X->Xorg transition and no longer works. No one can be arsed to fix Pentium 1 era hardware (never mind 486, and 386 support has dropped even from NetBSD now). Hell, no-one could be arsed to fix my 975X (Core 2) boot hanging problem on a specific but not too rare motherboard for OpenBSD! (yes, I may fix it sometime. Currently I also have other priorities).

Horrifically long compilation time. My how I enjoy spending an entire week waiting for a usable X environment to build on an SGI O2 or AMD Geode system. Cross-compilation can work, but is yet more hassle.

The joys of weird connectors and the need to find SoG monitors.

Security. You can't stick an old system on the net because it has vulnerabilities, but the new release of the OS either doesn't support the hardware, is hideously slow or uses too much memory. Backporting security/application fixes is Not Fun.

Web browsing. Many websites are now utterly unusable due to the heavy use of javascript.

A low power system, that uses a generally reliable brick PSU, with a reasonably fast CPU, half decent graphics hardware and ONE configuration (no thousands of motherboards to handle) and features a warranty is immensely more appealing than any of the old stuff out there.

Add in to this the likelihood of the power supply failing (high), the cost of PAT testing, the possibility of there being hard drive failures, motherboard faults or similar and it's completely uneconomic. When it fails, they need to pay commercial disposal costs.. Fine for individual users with plenty of time - not for businesses or schools.

Comet 'sold 94,000 pirate Windows CDs', claims Microsoft

Peter Kay

I think, Vic, Robert may have been laughing with you rather than at you..

Peter Kay

No, because OEM is tied to the motherboard

OEM licences are defined quite clearly if you read the Microsoft EULA - the only issue is that a variety of people don't like what it says.

OEM licences can be bought by anyone, business or otherwise, they *should* (but no-one will know if you don't) be installed using a scripted install/re-sealed install over an existing image, are tied to the motherboard and are non transferable between users (I would have to re-read the EULA to be certain if this permits re-selling a second user system with an already installed copy of OEM Windows. No-one is going to know, but I don't think it's allowed)

Therefore, even though I don't much like the practice of recovery disks, I can understand why because OEM licences are explicitly tied to the motherboard. If the motherboard dies, it should be replaced with the same model. The telephone based OEM license activators may decide to be kind/cant be arsed arguing if you swap it out for something different but it's definitely not on to change up to a higher spec motherboard.

If you want a transferable licence (transferable once only), able to be moved between different hardware, buy the retail edition. That's the difference from OEM.

It's also worth knowing that very large customers (Dell), get a copy of Windows that is BIOS locked, not motherboard locked. There's a special table in the version of Windows and the BIOS that allows it to be installed without activation. This makes life easier for the hardware vendor and Microsoft, and is also the reason it's possible to find BIOS hacks to make your system pretend to be a Dell/HP/etc.

Of course pricing and most probably licensing in Dell etc levels of order quantity is a special deal. I don't know what conditions are attached to such deals. This is yet another reason why a standard Windows disk is not supplied. It's penny pinching not to provide a DVD, though.

Santa's Xmas Caper

Peter Kay

Hyper Princess Pitch is what you want

From here : http://www.tigsource.com/2011/12/01/hyper-princess-pitch/ - it runs under Windows/WINE, is definitely xmas oriented with an annoyingly addictive soundtrack and old school operation : carnage gameplay. Worth a look - free!

Sonic Generations

Peter Kay

You haven't tried the best 3D Sonic

Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast are splendid Sonic games. Not perfect - there are sections of the game where you can fall off and the 3D could be better, but the gameplay and visuals are generally excellent. SA2 started to get rather tricky in the freeway level though; haven't finished it yet..

Army of 'socialbots' steal gigabytes of Facebook user data

Peter Kay

Social engineering

You're on Facebook, bored and single. Suddenly a hot man/woman/horse (delete according to taste) in your area asks to friend you.

Personally I'm not a fan of using Facebook as a dating tool and don't add anyone I've not met in real life, but you can see why other people might..

Peter Kay

Trusted IP addresses?

I wasn't aware that criminals went around with special naughty IP addresses. Obviously if they were stealing someone's personal details in real life they'd be easy to spot because of the black and white striped top and the large bag marked with 'SWAG'..

It's time to end the Windows Wait

Peter Kay

Less drugs for the article author

Starts off about NAND memory which, yes, may transform operating systems when it arrives.

Sadly then the halluciogenics kick in and Mellor turns into an imbecile. Clue : spinning disks are non volatile too. Applications save to them because the rest of the hardware is deemed to be less reliable than the storage. From what I can see after wading through the marketing guff, the Macbook Air does *not* have NAND memory. Programs don't run from it, and it attaches to the SATA port - it's storage, not memory.

Then there's the guff about resume. It's no surprise that laptops resume faster than desktops as they have a UPS build into them.. This is a deliberate design decision.

SSDs will be lovely at some point, but you can't buy 2TB of SSD for 80 quid.

Frankly disks aren't that slow in any case. I'm not so desperate that I can't wait 5-10s for Windows 7 to resume from suspend.. (it takes longer for my CRT monitor to warm up than the hardware to respond, and no - I don't want to buy a particularly expensive TFT when my existing monitors are working fine)

BioWare Baldur's Gate

Peter Kay

You've not played BG2, have you?

If you think BG is big, then BG2 is positively immense.. Icewind Dale 2 is pretty damn big too (that's one I still haven't got around to finishing).

Neither BG or BG2 do everything right, but their sheer size, flexibility and character banter make them decent games. Planescape:Torment remains the best Infinity Engine game, however.

Apple cofounder Steve Jobs is dead at 56

Peter Kay


I'm not a huge Apple fan despite the old Powermac under my desk. I don't like the way they do business, doubt they really have consumers' best interests at heart and am heartily sick of Windows bashing when Apple uses a predefined hardware configuration and doesn't have the necessity to maintain backwards compatibility.

Still, 56 is far too young to die, neither the operating system or mobile phone market would be in the state they currently are now without competition (from all sides, including Apple) and Steve Jobs had admirable marketing and business skills. For that he deserves to be remembered.

Facebook 'personal' news feed gets algorithm rejig

Peter Kay

You can fix it, but it's annoying

Click the little pencil icon to the left of news feed, then for each and every contact modify the updates to view to 'all' and optionally deselect useless updates (such as games).

Took me about 10 minutes to wade through all my contacts, but at least I can see everything now.

iRobot Roomba 780 automated vacuum cleaner

Peter Kay


How does it cope with pet hair? Not very well I imagine..

For under 300 quid it's possible to purchase a particularly good vac with top of the line filters, pet hair removal and usually some attempt at carpet washing too i.e. Sebo or Miele.

I'm not a great fan of housework but it really does only take a few minutes each week unless you're very particular (in which case a Roomba isn't any good anyway). Plus it'll be able to vacuum furniture (necessary after pets have moulted again..).

There's a lot of things I could justify 500 quid of disposable income on before I reach a Roomba.

Ten... outdoor gadgets

Peter Kay


The US and Canada feature wild bears and it seems like most of Australia is prepared to have a go at shortening your lifespan.. The most dangerous thing you're likely to run into in the UK is a bull in a farm unless unlucky enough to step on an pissed off adder that's desperately trying to get out of your way, or perhaps a deer in certain areas.

Having said that, I'd presume the survival list is for summer hiking. For winter I'd forego one of the items for an ice axe.

Peter Kay

It's for outdoors, not a walk in the park..

The watch is intended for serious runners. The last thing you want is something that's heavy, has limited battery life, not particularly rugged and difficult to operate with gloves. Smartphones also aren't known to feature heart rate monitors.

The real question is whether the Garmin 410 is worth the massive premium over the 405, or if you're not training seriously, a basic Timex runners watch!

Specialised GPS vs a smartphone is a harder question, provided you already have the phone. Obviously a ruggedised and waterproof case will be necessary, but the software and maps are quite cheap. The question is whether the battery life is up to snuff for more serious hikes.

BOFH: Beer, shinies, death by fire, rats IN THAT ORDER

Peter Kay

I have four..

To be perfectly honest, two screens is the greatest productivity gain. Three screens are not as necessary unless working on something requiring plenty of reference (i.e. screen for code, screen for reference, screen for program under test). Four doesn't add a lot extra - it's useful for displaying status or devoting to remote desktop/X/virtual machines.

For general productivity more than two is overkill, imo. I do like having two CRT and two TFT though, and will miss the scaling ability and fast response of CRT when they finally die (perhaps not the desk space used though)

Beyond four screens you'll have to get inventive about vertical orientation, as your eyes don't scan far enough horizontally.

Mozilla strokes coders with Firefox 6

Peter Kay

Have they fixed the bugs yet?

Too late : switched to Chrome at work and mostly using SRWare Iron at home.

Firefox is too prone to hanging and being a general sloth, particularly on older machines with less memory. That doesn't apply to Chrome.

Wake me up when they do something different, or bother to support 64 bit Windows by default.

Rogue character space tripped Scottish exam results

Peter Kay

Excel is a horrid liability

It's far, far too easy for Excel to interpret numbers in ways you didn't expect, for users not to understand that what is displayed and what is stored are two different things, and crucially the fact that some of the functions are prone to introduce errors.

I would bring especial ire to the filtering functions, which look very useful until you try to use a formula as an input. It's very easy to create results which look reasonable but are in fact entirely incorrect.

In the future I'm going to be looking at either R, or a proper programming language.

Gamer claims complete console collection

Peter Kay

Nope, not complete

There is a SMS if you study the other pages (http://www.elotrolado.net/hilo_colecci-n-sergiokillo_1382821_s40), but it's still not complete :

Possibly no Atari 5200 (not listed, can't see if it's in the Ataris), no Vectrex, no Tapwave Zodiac and no CD32. The absence of the Vectrex and CD32 are especially disappointing.

Still, that's a damned impressive collection in decent condition.

Adobe releases lengthy list of Apple Lion woes

Peter Kay

No sympathy

One day companies will actually test whilst the operating system or service pack is in beta, instead of sticking their head in the sand and waiting till release. Some companies manage, but far too few frankly..

The only sympathy I'd have is when there's a sizable change between the last release and GA, although the one notable instance I can remember of that happening (Enforcing per thread initialisation between OS/2 Warp 4 Gamma to GA) was something developers should have been doing as per the years old clearly indicated documentation..

Nokia ‘giving away phones at cost’

Peter Kay

I loved my E51 until I tried to run apps on it..

The 6200 before then was a favourite of mine - lovely foldout keyboard. Following that the E51 is a fine phone provided you only use the built in apps and accept the web browser is a bit flaky.

So far as some third party apps go, some are fine (Opera mini), whilst others eat battery and require the phone to do a reboot every few days (Socially app). It has to interface at such a low level I don't believe Symbian is a decent platform for running more complex apps.

Android isn't perfect either, but Symbian has been around for years.

Apprentice runner-up becomes Greggs bigshot

Peter Kay

Amstrad were actually pretty good in the eighties

I can't speak about the audio and visual products, because I never touched them, but 80s Amstrad was pretty damn hot.

The PCW was a competent all in one word processor that was not only easy to use but also featured CP/M with a particularly powerful BASIC and a whole host of third party products. Compare it to a PC with a legit copy of Wordperfect costing as much as an entire PCW, featuring less WYSIWYG and being less easy to use..

The 8086 PC clones may have been quirky and overly sensitive to static, but for the part were actually pretty usable. The only real stinker was the PPC series with a particularly unforgiving LCD screen. The 2xxx PC series arrived in 1989 and while it didn't initially do well Amstrad was a victim of a poor version of DOS (4.01 from Microsoft) and dodgy hard disk controllers (Seagate). Seagate and Microsoft are and were hardly fly by night operations.

The CPC home computer series were good at the time, and few can deny that Amstrad's revival of the Spectrum was an improvement. Perhaps the same could not be said about the QL, but nothing could save that.

Then there were the oddballs like the NC100 which was a decent product provided you required precisely the niche functionality it provided.

By the nineties there was too much competition and Amstrad was not nimble enough. The em@iler might have been a decent proposition - provided it came out five years earlier. Ditto the PcW16 and the GX4000..

Samsung Chromebook: The $499 Google thought experiment

Peter Kay

It's a reasonable idea but it doesn't include enough

This would sell shedloads if it was

1) 250 pounds or under

2) included at least 1GB of free Internet access per month for a year

3) featured local printing support via USB

The most important item is 2). A very cursory search shows it's possible to get 1GB/month for 8quid retail (or less).

It does less than a netbook, therefore they should provide more elsewhere.

Amazon can offer free 3G for life with the Kindle, and whilst that isn't the same market Google could learn from this. Where is the upselling in the Chromebook? The tablet market can maintain a marketplace; why can't a Chromebook?

It's not a suitable product for business, so it should meet other consumer expectations.

The Cube: Apple's daftest, strangest romance

Peter Kay

I still think it looks like a wastebin

Not a pretty wastebin, either. It was part of the horrid era when macs were plastic.

I have a PowerMac Digital Audio and still don't like the look.

On the other hand, if you mentioned the NeXT cube, or most of SGI's boxes I might be more interested.

Boffins triple battery life with metal foam

Peter Kay

Read it again yourself..

'that porosity allows for the battery to contain a significantly larger amount of the lithium compound'

Sounds to me like it will potentially weigh more depending on how dense the lithium compound and the aluminium foil are

Child of Eden

Peter Kay

Unlikely I would have thought..

On the bright side, do you know about Charlie's Games?


Dirt cheap, and quite fun.

I do like shmups, but still haven't finished some of the rather good Dreamcast shooters..

Apple's new Final Cut Pro X 'not actually for pros'

Peter Kay

Visual C++ 6 does work in Windows 7

It's fine on this system and has built projects without issue. The only problem I've found so far is when using the Intel compiler plugin (part of the project using VC6 uses the MS compiler, part uses Icc) when I tend to run the IDE as admin, because the ICC setup hasn't poked the necessary parts of the registry/whatever to enable the plugin option for all users.

The one problem I have found is that certain older projects have a dependence on an old SDK (in this case, the XP SP2 SDK). The latest version of the platform SDK drops a few features, and the XP SP2 CD is only obtainable via CD from Microsoft (it is not downloadable). If you still have it lying around, don't chuck it away..

LucasArts Day of the Tentacle

Peter Kay
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I do tend to think that whilst DOTT is very funny, the better adventure game is Fate of Atlantis - probably still my favourite adventure game.

Also, to nitpick, I suspect DOTT was actually released by Lucasfilm Games. If you attach an MT32 sound module to your system it displays 'Lucasfilm Games' on startup.

It's worth seeking out the original games and an MT32 (rev 2, with the 32 computer game samples) - the sound is an awful lot better than SoundBlaster FM music. Sadly the DOSBox emulation, the special version of SCUMM bundled with the Steam game versions and SCUMMVM aren't quite the same.

You should also go to www.scummvm.org to play the old SCUMM games cross platform and pick up some free games, mind.

I disagree that KOTOR isn't Star Warsy - personally I'm finding it to be excellent so far. Jedi Knight is probably the pinnacle of the Lucasarts FPS, although Dark Forces (with iMuse interactive music) and the much easier to get working Jedi Knight Outcast are also a lot of fun.

Hannspree Hannspad 10.1in Android tablet

Peter Kay
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*Yawn*. No 3.0, no app store.

Do you want a device that's obsolete on day one and designed for phones rather than tablets? Then go knock yourself out with this..

It doesn't include, and will not be upgradeable to Android 3.0. It doesn't feature the google marketplace..

I can see why other people are suggesting the Vega - why bother with this, when you can get that, or a netbook?

Logitech Z906 5.1 surround speakers kit

Peter Kay


After all this time I expected more from the successor to the Z5500 (which I've owned for years). It has more inputs, but the LCD display on the Z5500 was clearly far superior.

It's also a disappointment that the sub can't be more than 2.5M from the controller - the sub is absolutely huge and not always easy to place the requisite distance from anything electrical

There's no mention of compatibility with Dolby Prologic (which is old, true, but used by older game consoles and other devices - the Z5500 works fine with a Gamecube)

It's telling that every single review of the Z906 on Logitech's site is negative. To their credit, at least they've not taken them down..

Logitech, what were you smoking when you designed this?

Chicago lawyer deploys distractionary dumplings

Peter Kay

Smacks of desperation to me..

I find it unlikely that this is anything other than a diversionary tactic.

There are usually rules about how to dress in court and

I'm sure that doesn't include substantial amounts of cleavage

She just looks like a suitably dressed woman from the picture. Women have breasts,

many of them quite large - it's not exactly rare.

Even if she has an ample helping of devils dumplings, there's

this commonly used feat called 'self control' most of us have..

Boobs on display in Duke Nukem web game

Peter Kay

You say that, but in my experience queer women aren't much different

My experience is that boobs generally have the same effect on queer women - it's not restricted to men..

Northants cops blow up suspicious school play prop

Peter Kay


Still, this brings to mind the Doctor Who episode Remembrance of the Daleks

Amongst other things this features the rather fun Heavy Weapons Dalek - basically a squat Dalek with

a BFO gun on it which was used to destroy a reinforced iron gate.

The explosion was suitably impressive.

Unfortunately whilst filming this the Beeb forget to tell

anyone they'd be blowing up part of London and caused a

major terrorrism alert. Ooops.

Modern-day ninja in epic battle with riot police, robot

Peter Kay

Ninja skillz.. or something else?

'whose evident proficiency with a sword and ability to shrug off the effects of robots, gas and riot-gun projectiles could easily be ascribed to mastery of one or more exotic Oriental combat philosophy disciplines..'

Alternatively, perhaps he was as high as a kite on various illicit pharmaceuticals..

Natty Narwhal with Unity: Worst Ubuntu beta ever

Peter Kay

MS Mail was a big driver

Prior to Exchange Microsoft did not have a particularly viable mail product. Microsoft Mail was mostly client driven (using files on a file server, rather than being a client/server mail system).

However, to do various routing options required OS/2, hence the subsystem. There was also a version of OS/2 1.x PM available for NT as an add on, but I've never seen it in use.

I probably should point out that despite being a huge fan of OS/2 historically, it really wouldn't have lasted much longer if history hadn't been quite the same, without a substantial amount of re-engineering.

Microsoft should have no hold on the WPS code, and the SOM object model it depends upon. PM has some differences to both Win* and X that jar; the co-ordinate origin is at the bottom left of the viewspace, for instance.

Anyway, even when OS/2 wasn't doing too badly and Stardock released Object Desktop, they had problems despite the assistance of ex WPS developers. It'd be wiser to build on an existing system.

Peter Kay


Google 'bisexual flag'




Brown is simply for people without taste, or possibly those with leanings scatological..

Game stocks shops with Tesco 3DS consoles

Peter Kay

Have you actually used it?

I've now used two - one in GAME and one owned by a friend.

The 3D effect is quite impressive, although I did turn it up to maximum. Whether it's worth it depends on the game - I played Streetfighter 3D in GAME and I wouldn't buy it based on that - the 3D effect was excellent, but putting the game and the 3D on a screen that size made it a little too small.

On the other hand, the Augmented Reality features work quite well. It's a great idea to use the cameras and special cards to overlay images on reality. There was a bit of blurring on that one, explained by the fact it'd been configured for my friend.

Plus it'll run all the DS games.

I'm not sure if I'd buy one, but that's down to a lack of time and a preference for using a Kindle when I'm out and about, rather than a statement against the 3DS.

Google's 'clean' Linux headers: Are they really that dirty?

Peter Kay

Out of date

You're a bit out of date on those opinions - not all BSD are equal.

So far as blob support is concerned, none of the BSDs have a problem with proprietary firmware loads on startup, especially for NICs. Some BSDs do have a problem with blob drivers - OpenBSD does as the 'open' in its name suggests. FreeBSD is considerably more flexible with blob driver support.

The BSDs don't tend to be against forking kernels, as such - what some of the BSDs are against is taking attention and funding away from the parent project. Certainly in OpenBSD land, creating your own new shiny installer and graphical desktop with an OpenBSD base is frowned upon for this reason as the funding is then diverted to a group of people who are not doing most of the heavy lifting. I would have thought it'd be easier to contribute code to the BSD of choice or choose a BSD with loadable kernel modules (FreeBSD, NetBSD. OpenBSD in theory supports them, but no-one uses the functionality) or at a last resort supply source code patches/fork.

The GPL toolchain is currently required, but not for much longer. PCC is currently in beta, and will replace gcc. GPL code will slowly be replaced with code using licences more closely aligned to BSD.

UK is a closed source 'stronghold'

Peter Kay

It's about presentation, not technology

The lack of curiosity is nothing to do with software being proprietary or not - it is about society today.

Home computers circa 1980-1990 : shipped with a BASIC manual in addition to program loading instructions. Computer magazines frequently included listings as well as reviews.

IBM PC circa mid eighties to early 90s : Shipped with a BASIC manual, OS included programming language.

Mac, circa 80s to 90s : included Hypercard

With a completely closed source operating system (Windows) it is possible to download free closed source development environments (Visual Studio Express amongst others) and develop any closed or open source application of your choice. In *nix, the compilers can be/are installed, the source code is available, your application can be closed or open source as you choose.

End result : no real difference. The primary focus of a modern OS is to run applications. The development tools are far better. The documentation is (mostly) better. It's easier to perform high level tasks than it used to be. A great deal of hardware operations have been abstracted away. There's never been a better time to develop.

Nevertheless, the OS are aimed at consumption, not creation even given the mass of resources and reminders in some magazines of the facilities available.

Perhaps this is not helped by the sheer scale of the computing community, where it can sometimes seem difficult to contribute anything in the face of some extremely impressive amateur/free efforts. Alternatively, maybe the fact things have progressed from programming from scratch to starting using a nose bleedingly high level of technology to construct a mod for a popular game has changed things somewhat. Neither does it help that whilst the base level of technology is fantastic, there is at times an extreme gulf between what can be created with a small team, and what is created by a very large software house.

In any case, it's not about open and closed source.

Nintendo 3DS launch games

Peter Kay

It's cheaper online

230 quid if you buy in some stores perhaps, although I suspect there will be discounts and HMV at least are bundling a HMV voucher (20 quid? can't remember), effectively knocking the price of 3DS+game down a bit.

197 quid online at both GAME and HMV, 187 quid at Amazon..

There are other launch games too. If the Star Wars game works as well on the 3DS as Lego Batman works on the PC with a 3D monitor, it'll do very well.

Duke Nukem Forever DELAYED

Peter Kay

Depends until people actually play it

It's a given that this is not going to look absolutely bang up to date - its been through far too many development changes for that. It's also probable it will have gameplay similar to older games.

What really matters is if it is fun, for the Duke audience. It's unlikely to make the same splash as the original did either technologically, or in gameplay, but frankly in retrospect Duke 3D was good, but not one of the all time greats.

Then again, I could say the same about Quake. Fun at the time, impressive technically, but far too brown, lacking in storyline, humour and a coherent game world.

Peter Kay


It's either a marketing stunt, or a last ditch attempt to polish it up after less than wonderful reviews.

The real test will be whether they bother releasing a public demo or not..

Firefox 4 debuts: The last kitchen sink release

Peter Kay

Blame Adobe

I'm sure Microsoft would love to select the 64 bit version by default. The issue is that most plugins would stop working, and they're essential for many people these days.

By the time Windows 8 comes out, the 64 bit Flash plugin and others might be out of beta and usable.

Peter Kay

Here you go - no Windows x64, bye bye PPC

To answer my own question :


To summarise :

Linux 64 bit isn't officially supported, despite the fact a number of 64 bit Unix distributions include 64 bit Firefox/Iceweasel

Windows 64 bit isn't supported either, despite asking since 2008 because.. oh shut up and stop asking, will you?

PPC isn't supported because not as many people run OS X PPC and those that do, don't count (despite the fact Camino runs nicely on sub 1GHz PowerMacs, at least until Flash is added)

Parts of the DOM code run 20% faster on OS X x64-86, but hey, who needs 20%?

No worries though, it's not as if Firefox has any competition, is it? (and yes, Chrome/Iron doesn't have a 64 bit build easily available either. IE does, though).

Must also check if the internationalisation in Firefox Windows is still incredibly poor. I thought it could do with some work on IE8 until I discovered how much worse everything else was..

Peter Kay

Large data, and registers

64 bit will be faster if you're shifting around large amounts of data, but is not by its nature vastly faster.

On x86-64 Windows, however, there are two considerations :

32 bit Windows programs running under Windows x64-86 will typically encounter a small performance penalty (although it depends what they're doing. For accessing lots of memory they may be faster)

Under x86-64, more registers are available. With a decent compiler this can lead to a noticeable speedup (5% or so, IIRC).

Plus, it's good practice. 16 bit is now dead in x64-86 land and terminal in x32. One day x32 will follow.

You might as well ask why other platforms (Linux, etc) want 64 bit Firefox and 64 bit Flash. It's no different, except for the fact mozilla.com only provides a source level distribution, with binaries typically provided by Unix distribution repositories.

The location of an authorised *nix repository is generally known; the source for Windows software is typically the vendor's website.

Viewsonic 3DV5 HD 3D camera

Peter Kay

Limited, but fun

Most of those pictures are pretty good - they work a treat on a Zalman 3D monitor. Video is a bit more limited if that Youtube video in interlaced format is any indication; it does work, but I'd prefer somewhat more separation.

Paramount buries Dune remake

Peter Kay

You're not the only one

I loved it too. I don't remember the special effects as being /that/ bad, either. Must watch it again..

South West Trains puts squeeze on commuters

Peter Kay


Looks rather nice compared to the pile of shite Nothern Rail occasionally springs on the Blackpool North service. Not only is it the 3+2 configuration, but the seats are much less luxurious (no headrest, no space between seats). I'd estimate the Northern Trains as being significantly worse (There's also a 3x2 configuration with headrests but with inferior upholstery to the Southern trains)

Fortunately most of the commuting time it's a 2+2 configuration (heavily used by First TransPennine Express Manchester Airport<->Glasgow) which is quite comfy, but lacking a 4cm gap between seats. (I do wonder if they cycle the nice trains between services, as several days of 3+2 is rather annoying)

Still, I'd rate standing as considerably worse than any of these. 2x2 is lovely, 3x2 upholstered is just about adequate, 3x2 with bench seats is irritating.

This all pales into insignificance compared to 3+2 two carriage days, where the train has no seats left 7 stops before the destination..

I suggest a Kindle for sardine situations; you can read it one handed.