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Comments

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Nintendo Posts Yet Another Loss, Despite Mario Kart 8

Dogtanian Re:Here's an idea! (175 comments)

Don't compare the ZX Specturm with 16KB to the C64.

Why not? For the purposes of the argument being made with respect to the UK market, they were both in the same boat.

Besides which, there were two versions of the Spectrum when originally released; the aforementioned 16K model, and an otherwise identical 48K model. The 16K spec was rendered increasingly irrelevant as time went on and the 48K version became the de facto "base model" required for Spectrum games.

Still wasn't as good a machine overall as the C64 (BASIC and faster CPU aside), but that's neither here nor there.

1 hour ago
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Nintendo Posts Yet Another Loss, Despite Mario Kart 8

Dogtanian Re:Here's an idea! (175 comments)

Shame so many of them chose death over sharing, isn't it? Even if they still die, their platform could live on indefinitely.

Assuming a company's only aim is to make money, then whatever happens to their products after they die is essentially irrelevant in that respect. (*)

Of course, I'm sure that there are those working within a company (more likely to be in engineering and development) that feel otherwise. But ultimately this will be overridden by those in sales, marketing et al, unless it offers a clear benefit to the company.

Yes, some companies will offer well-backed guarantees or promises about what happens with respect to various things should they go under (e.g. release of source code). But even that is ultimately a means to attract more paying customers- by providing a level of certainty that is valuable to them- while the company is still in existence.

(*) Unless, of course, those in power have a conflict of interest and something to gain from the company's demise.

2 hours ago
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PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification

Dogtanian Re:A clean break is needed, like "Visual Fred" (147 comments)

Which would significantly reduce the appeal of the "new language" and probably result in people continuing to use the old version- with masses of support, extensions, accumulated wisdom, and software already built on it- probably forking it at some point if the current owners tried to force the change through.

Let's be honest; VB.Net was a good example of one that *didn't* succeed. It was very different to VB6, effectively a whole new environment and tech tied together with a similarly-syntaxed language, and it never achieved the popularity of its predecessor.

Yes, MS may have forced many to move to .Net by making clear that VB6 and its related infrastructure was obsolescent, but that translated to C# use, not VB. Presumably people either remained with VB6 and those who used .Net were either newcomers who had no need of a legacy language (*) or VB6 users who decided that C# was a more sensible choice (since it was clearly MS's favoured language for .Net, and wasn't hobbled by syntax that was effectively a comfort-blanket holdover from 8-bit home computer BASICs).

(*) I'm guessing that classic VB gained its userbase from the generation (and group) who started with "old school" 8-bit BASICs, and found its syntax accessible, then were able to grow while their "BASIC" grew in capability. Thing is, if you didn't start or grow with VB, then what it became is no simpler or easier to learn than C-influenced syntax like C# (and I'm speaking as someone who *did* use old-school BASIC as my first language, but not VB, and I'd much rather use a C-style language).

yesterday
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London Police Placing Anti-Piracy Warning Ads On Illegal Sites

Dogtanian Re:pre-crime (159 comments)

No idea what happened there, sorry; suspect I copied my work to a second window for replying then accidentally submitted the first as well.

yesterday
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PHP Finally Getting a Formal Specification

Dogtanian Re:Formal specifications are pretty useless for th (147 comments)

Besides, not having a specification is what led to PHP being such an ad-hoc mess in the first place.

Yeah, but unfortunately it's *way* to late in the day to avoid having to retain (and, ironically, formalise) the ad-hoc mess without breaking countless existing programs.

The most notorious example being one of the simplest, but also the most obviously naff; the fact that the ternary "?:" operator has incorrect precedence in PHP (compared to every other C-derived-syntax language). This quite obviously *was* a fsck-up early on (IIRC they said as much), but will always have to be kept in, an unwelcome reminder of PHP's amateur, ad-hoc origins that'll look bad to anyone learning the language, regardless of how well it improves in other areas.

yesterday
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London Police Placing Anti-Piracy Warning Ads On Illegal Sites

Dogtanian Re:pre-crime (159 comments)

This police bunch, it is worth noting, is the police force of the "square mile"

Indeed. This is specifically the police force of the City of London "square mile", i.e. the historic, tiny core of London, long-dominated by financial businesses, and not the police force of London as a whole.

In fact, the rest of London is served by the Metropolitan Police Service. Why would the City need its own special police force? Hmm...

which is pretty much run by private corporations, making this essentially a private police force in government-backed livery. It is not strange that it would be acting "proactive" and "innovative" and whatnot in furtherance of private corporate goals.

This article may also be of interest.

3 days ago
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London Police Placing Anti-Piracy Warning Ads On Illegal Sites

Dogtanian Re:pre-crime (159 comments)

This police bunch, it is worth noting, is the police force of the "square mile"

Indeed. To clarify, this is specifically the police force of the small area confusingly titled the "City of London" (AKA the "square mile"), i.e. the historic, tiny core of London, long-dominated by financial businesses, and not the police force of London as a whole.

In fact, the rest of London is served by the Metropolitan Police Service. Why would The City need its own special police force? Hmm...

which is pretty much run by private corporations, making this essentially a private police force in government-backed livery. It is not strange that it would be acting "proactive" and "innovative" and whatnot in furtherance of private corporate goals.

This article may also be of interest.

3 days ago
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Raspberry Pi Gameboy

Dogtanian Re:Now I wish.... (60 comments)

The point that he is a humorless old bastard? Yeah, we all got that point. There was nothing wrong with your original comment. Some people just hang here that are not really nerds.

Not sure how you come to that conclusion. If anything, I'd expect nerds to be the ones more likely to care that the underlying tech was the authentic original, beyond its external appearance.

Or perhaps this is one of the differentiators between a "nerd" and a "geek".

Either way, whatever one thinks of this sort of thing, it isn't really a story. People have been shoving small-form factor PCs inside old computer cases for years now, leading to stupid headlines like "upgraded Commodore 64 runs 10,000 times faster" when it should say "midrange Micro-ATX PC shoved inside gutted and mutilated Commodore 64 case (with holes cut for ports and slimline DVD drive) runs at its usual speed, supports C64 emulator like every other PC, doesn't even use the original keyboard".

I doubt this is even the first time something like this has been done with a Raspberry Pi. I'm not attacking this submitter in particular, and I don't dislike it as much as I would had he destroyed a much rarer retro device for such purposes, but it's still not news.

about a week ago
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Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

Dogtanian Re:Too long (161 comments)

Kinect was bought from PrimeSense.

That rings a bell; I think someone made that point the last time I referenced that article- as I mentioned, that post above is mostly just an unmodified cut-and-paste of the original one I made years back, but still pretty relevant. I should have updated that part, but as I said I'm at work just now. :-)

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft's Missed Opportunities: Memo From 1997

Dogtanian Re:Too long (161 comments)

Myhrvold's role was essentially to be the futurist at Microsoft. He was their forward thinker and gave them the geeky excitement that allowed them to make many of the right choices throughout the '80s and '90s. Ignoring him and concentrating instead of the business and litigation-driven path resulted in the gradual slide to the barely relevant, spiteful and fading dinosaur, shedding workers and market share we're saddled with today.

I'm at work, so haven't had the time to properly read the articles et al. However, it's been known for years that MS *have* been doing a lot of serious research with talented people- the research they needed to avoid the position they're now in. The problem is that the vast majority never made its way out for short-term business and political reasons, and they're reaping that failure now. Here's a post I originally made in early 2012 in turn referencing someone else's *very* informative comment (itself dating back to 2010):-

"It's been commented on for *years* that Microsoft have labs stuffed full of very clever and innovative people, yet still seem to end up churning out mediocre, uninspiring crap. One explanation is that internal politics are responsible- this article comment from someone who claims to have worked at Microsoft (click link for full version) is informative:-

There have been many instances at Microsoft where genuine innovations have sat on the shelf or been half-heartedly brought to market [.. In 2002 MS had..] a prototype smartphone that had (essentially) all the useability features of an iPhone, including a trick interface, accelerometer and multi-touch. It was cobbled together and not very pretty, but as a proof of concept, it worked. Yet it never saw the light of day. Why?

Brass’s tablet project was well advanced in the labs too, but somehow never got the traction it deserved internally. [..]

Microsoft has a Darwinian internal structure. Each business unit has to fight for scarce resources, - they compete with each other and only the strong survive. Succeeding in that environment involves more than just having a good (or even great) product or project. Unless you’re Office or Windows, you have to build symbiotic relationships with other business units (preferably the big guys) just to ensure your survival. You have to make their success (at least partially) dependent on yours

[..Secondly..] in its youth, Microsoft could afford to hire only the best and the brightest. Smart people are flexible and innovative in their approach and this reflects in the company’s culture. As the enormous growth of the late 90s took hold, we couldn’t keep up with the demand for more employees and as a consequence, the quality bar dropped. We started employing people who were merely good, not outstanding. These new people were less flexible, less able to handle organisational ambiguity and less passionate about what they were doing. They started to build bureaucracy as a safety-net and as a structure in which they were comfortable operating. Goodbye to dynamic decision-making and rapid market responses.

Anyway, bottom line; the "smart" people starting work there know (or must be really, *really* blinkered not to know) of this reputation, so why are they working there? Silly money?

I'll grant that they came up with Kinect recently, which was pretty innovative (albeit as a response to the Wii controller) and smacked of research turned into a workable product. But that was pretty recent (so couldn't have inspired any but the newest recruits) and probably benefitted from being an XBox product that was out of the way of the entrenched interests and politics of the main Windows-focussed divisions, and in an area where MS had more to gain than lose from innovation."

about two weeks ago
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How Japan Lost Track of 640kg of Plutonium

Dogtanian Re:Come now. (104 comments)

According to another post [slashdot.org] this plutonium could not be used to make a bomb, and the explanation makes sense to me. So even if they change the constitution they won't be making any bombs, at least not with this plutonium.

This story rang some bells with me, and yes, it does appear to be the same case already reported on Slashdot (the figure given in the linked article there was also 640kg).

That time, however, the slant was on the Chinese being concerned that the Japanese may have been "stockpiling" this missing plutonium for weapons.

Which begs the question as to why, if it couldn't be used to make an atomic bomb?

about three weeks ago
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15-Year-Old Developing a 3D Printer 10x Faster Than Anything On the Market

Dogtanian BOOM! Take that ye scurvy bilgerats! (203 comments)

my old $500 epson is not as fast as a $50 cannon, but it renders images better

To be fair, I wouldn't expect a cannon to render *any* images very well. On the other hand, it probably does better than an Epson in defending ships against pirate vessels. (Well, perhaps not a $50 model...)

about three weeks ago
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Russia Moves From Summer Time To Standard Time

Dogtanian Re:Slashdot fails at reporting. (158 comments)

"It forced tens of millions to travel to their jobs in pitch darkness during the winter."

I guess the Russians found out that under "Summer Time" the livin' wasn't...

(puts on sunglasses)

...so easy.

YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

about a month ago
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Grandmother Buys Old Building In Japan And Finds 55 Classic Arcade Cabinets

Dogtanian Re:But the Tokyo area is so crowded (133 comments)

Raises the question, not begs it.

Fair point, but I'll put that stupidity down to the fact I was on a five-minute break at work :-)

about a month ago
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Grandmother Buys Old Building In Japan And Finds 55 Classic Arcade Cabinets

Dogtanian Re:Boards or ROM's (133 comments)

When I was about 15, there was a Laundromat down the street with an old Asteroids game where the vector monitor worked fine except that the beam never turned off, so you could see how it sat dead center in the screen most of the time, then drew a line from one asteroid to the next, to the next, etc. as it rendered a frame.

Let me guess... eventually it burned a hole all the way through the centre of the screen until one day it got through and (a) blasted the woman whose job it was to collect the change from the machines' head off or (b) lasered her, segment-by-segment- via an early-80s pseudo-computer-effect- into the Asteroids machine itself where she was forced to play life and death computer games and interact with anthropomorphic, sentient realisations of abstract computer concepts, while finding some way to prove that she *was* due the five hours overtime they'd refused to pay her?

about 1 month ago
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Grandmother Buys Old Building In Japan And Finds 55 Classic Arcade Cabinets

Dogtanian Re:But the Tokyo area is so crowded (133 comments)

Secondly, even in Tokyo proper if you travel to any point in the city that is more than a 10-15 minute walk from a station(and there are plenty of them) you will find plenty of run-down and abandoned buildings. Property in Tokyo seems to follow an inverse square law, the value is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the closest station.

Which begs the question- would it be worth someone's time to buy some of these unwanted out-of-the-way buildings and then fund (possibly fully) the construction of a line and station covering that area?

That quite obviously wouldn't be cheap- to put it mildly- but given the ludicrous value of some buildings and land in Tokyo, the returns could be huge.

about 1 month ago
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Grandmother Buys Old Building In Japan And Finds 55 Classic Arcade Cabinets

Dogtanian ...and Software Written in Python (133 comments)

Nobody expects their neurosurgery to be done by an old video arcade machine.

Its four weapons are fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope... and the original version of Space Invaders. Its *five* weapons are...

about 1 month ago
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Intel To Offer Custom Xeons With Embedded FPGAs For the Data Center

Dogtanian Intel have done this before... and here's the snag (80 comments)

Intel has already come up with an Atom CPU with integrated FPGA, but only for the embedded market.

I'd already been thinking about the possibility of end-user-accessible, on-the-fly-reprogrammable FPGA functionality as part of a "regular" computer before I heard Intel had produced an integrated CPU/FPGA (though it's not clear how easily configurable the FPGA was there). I raised the issue in that previous thread and got a *very* interesting and informative response (thank you Tacvek) that pointed out some major problems with the concept of general access to such functionality.

The issues raised there explain why Intel are unlikely to be making an easily-reconfigurable hybrid product like this available to the general public any time soon, however smart and exciting the idea sounds.

about a month and a half ago
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Fish-Eating Spiders More Common Than Thought

Dogtanian Fish are vegetables too!!! (39 comments)

'Flesh Eating Spiders' would have made this story worth posting.

What do you think fish are made of, tofu?

One of these spiders was going around telling people "Actually, I'm a vegetarian."

When I pointed out that it was eating a fish, the spider replied "Oh yeah, I can eat fish, that doesn't count."

"Also, I'm permitted to eat Carrot Top."

about a month and a half ago
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Even In Digital Photography Age, High Schoolers Still Flock To the Darkroom

Dogtanian Re:BTW: Only way to prevent digital source-trackin (240 comments)

If you're implying the use of steganography, then you're a moron.

Given the existence of undocumented- and more seriously, undisclosed- yellow marks output by various laser printers which have in at least one case been proven to be steganographic markings *and* decoded, it's certainly not "moronic" to consider that a similar scheme could in theory exist hidden in some digital cameras.

Frankly, in the wake of the Snowden revelations I wouldn't even consider this possibility ludicrously paranoid any more. Of course, digital cameras can have giveaway signatures like naturally-occurring hot pixels (and other signs) anyway, so in a sense it's already there. I don't think it's plausible that a non-GPS-advertised device would have a hidden detector inside, or even any method (e.g. WiFi triangulation) of detecting its location if that wasn't already designed into it.

A camera on a GPS-enabled smartphone though? If my life depended on it, I wouldn't bet against the possibility.

about a month and a half ago

Submissions

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Low-tech, out-of-date... is this Japan?

Dogtanian Dogtanian writes  |  about 4 years ago

Dogtanian (588974) writes "Japan is often seen as the archetypal high-tech society, years ahead of the rest of the world and the first to adopt innovative new technology with gusto. Yet while every good Japanophile knows how this facade hides a very traditional and conservative society with roots going back centuries, it's less well known that this ultra-modern image also hides the fact that many aspects of Japan are far from high-tech- quite the opposite. Police stations with no computers, ancient tape-based answering machines, antiquated heating... and a very real danger that they've already missed the boat in several important technological areas. Is this really the same country as the Blade Runner-esque tech utopia of geek lore?"
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NASA Uncovers the Original Moon Landing Tapes

Dogtanian Dogtanian writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dogtanian (588974) writes "Having been missing for almost forty years, the original video footage from the original 1969 moon landings has been uncovered, promising much higher quality images of the event. The low-quality, grainy images we're all used to were converted to NTSC, compressed for relay to the US, then archived by pointing a 16mm film camera at a monitor. Although the technology now exists to view the slow-scan source transmissions in much higher quality, unbelievably the tapes with the original recordings were misplaced and lost until recently. NASA was apparently hoping to keep a lid on this for the 40th anniversary, but I'm very happy to have heard about this sooner. [Note to editors: IIRC you might have covered the loss of the tapes previously]"
Link to Original Source

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