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Microsoft Flight Simulator Is Making A Comeback

GreatDrok Is it still unrealistic? (1 comments)

When I was training for my pilot's license, we had a flight sim set up with Xplane and MS FS. I was awesome on FS but found Xplane much harder and much more like my real experience in the Cessna I was training in.

about a week ago

Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

GreatDrok Games were the death of programming (110 comments)

While early computers had very limited graphics and usually no sound, the arrival of colour and sound (er beeps) resulted in a large number of games and kids at the time clamoured to get a spectrum, C64 or whatever because it was a games machine and nothing else to them. Sure, you could program them but very few did. I started on a Commodore Pet (horrible BASIC) and went through the Sinclairs, the BBC Micro and then onto UNIX machines skipping PCs entirely (at least until Linux came along) and what I appreciated about all these was the ability to program them (same goes for Linux) but I was a minority.

The sad thing is once you got to PCs and GUIs, programming was largely a thing of the past. My son just got interested in computers and asked me to teach him to program so I pulled my actual Spectrum out and gave it to him. Sadly, age hasn't been kind to the hardware so the modulator failed and wouldn't display a picture. I bypassed that and got composite video out but in the process the keyboard membrane cracked so I had to order a new replacement (yay for retro computer fans) and it works again. He's getting on well and hasn't really shown interest in games on it. I did load up Manic Miner for a laugh but it was awful. I forgot how precise you had to be.

I just wish this was a real Spectrum with a keyboard. As it stands, meh. Emulators are also hard work without the real keyboard.

about two weeks ago

Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar"

GreatDrok Confession - I didn't like Interstellar (289 comments)

I can't be alone in not liking this film. It wasn't the science (there was obviously a lot of work done there) that bothered me, and besides which with Sci Fi you always get a 'gimme' or two (warp drive, transporters, technobabble etc) but I really didn't feel anything with the story. It didn't draw me in, it just dragged. This wasn't what I was expecting as I had been looking forward to this film since I saw the first teaser. I see so many people going on about who great this film was but I can't help but wonder what it was that I missed?

about three weeks ago

Linux Foundation Comments On Microsoft's Increasing Love of Linux

GreatDrok Re:Step one. (162 comments)

"Oh look, MS is embracing open source. Isn't that wonderful?"

Maybe open source is embracing MS? That would put the cat amongst the pigeons to say the least. Just who gets extinguished in that scenario?

about a month ago

Netflix To Charge More For 4K Video

GreatDrok Re:4k is twice the resolution, not 4x (158 comments)

4K does not have 4x the resolution. I don't care what sounds sexier, there's truth in advertising and 4K is only twice as sharp. You want 4x sharper, you need 8K and don't worry, once you've spent a good chunk of cash on the 4K set, they'll be there telling you it is obsolete and you need to upgrade again to 8K because, because, oh whatever, give us more money you peasant!

about 2 months ago

Netflix To Charge More For 4K Video

GreatDrok 4k is twice the resolution, not 4x (158 comments)

You have twice as many pixels on each axis, so 4x as many pixels on screen but resolution is only 2x higher.

about 2 months ago

What To Expect With Windows 9

GreatDrok Re:A non-UNIX OS in a UNIX world? (545 comments)

"MS says they have 75% market share for x86 servers (I've no idea if that is a legit statistic). Macs are barely a blip in desktop/laptop market share. Win 8 and Win 8.1, which according to comments in posts like this is the worst OS since Win ME, each has greater market share than all versions of Mac OS combined."

I can believe that MS has 75% market share for x86 servers simply because you can replace a whole host of Windows servers with a single Linux box - I know, I've done it multiple times. When it takes several machines to do what a single *nix box can do then sure, you're going to get high market share but that doesn't necessarily mean you're doing a good job. This is similar to their claims for IIS when it is just hosting parked domains.

MS has a bigger problem than that though because they're failing to break out of the jail of desktop in any serious way. Xbox cost a fortune and while the 360 did OK, the One is struggling badly compared with the PS4. The Windows phones are a joke, as are their tablets. The desktop may not be going anywhere soon but people have so widely embraced other technologies like Android and iOS that the desktop has little leverage any more. They simply can't use it to control the world and stop people leaving. Windows 8 was their attempt and it is an abject failure. 9 may be a decent version of Windows but really they've got no growth left in them. MS needs to get away from the idea of owning the platform and focus on developing software because they don't have the leverage to succeed the way they did back in the 90's and 00's. The sad fact is, the software they make which isn't supported by their OS isn't really all that good. Can they write good software without the tie in to the OS? I don't know but the signs aren't good.

The funny thing is I remember reading back in '97 that the whole world would ditch UNIX and switch to NT over the following few years. Without Linux, maybe that would have happened but now the spawn of Linus has really spoiled their day, especially Android despite their bogus patent claims. I agree with the other poster, if they had been broken up back in 2000 I suspect the world would have seen a lot more innovation and maybe Apple wouldn't have had the chance to grab the lion's share of the profit and overtake MS in the value stakes.

about 3 months ago

What To Expect With Windows 9

GreatDrok A non-UNIX OS in a UNIX world? (545 comments)

I find it funny that MS is now the only major OS vendor that isn't running on a UNIX base. Seems like an uphill struggle as the world passes them by. They should do an Apple and virtualise the old Windows code in a classic environment and switch to a UNIX base. Or just stop trying to make operating systems altogether and focus on software.

about 3 months ago

Quickflix Wants Netflix To Drop Australian VPN Users

GreatDrok Quickflix sucks (172 comments)

There are a few similar services starting up down here. I had a look at Quickflix because they have a client for my smartTV and TiVo but all they have to offer are old BBC shows which I already own on DVD and their movie selection is woeful even compared with what we can get on AppleTV. Worse, the compression is too high so what they do have looks terrible. If they had the vast array of stuff that Netflix has then they might have a chance but without it they're going nowhere. I don't subscribe to Netflix as I've taken the approach of buying or renting what I want to see but if it was legitimately offered here I would be interested.

about 3 months ago

Apple Outrages Users By Automatically Installing U2's Album On Their Devices

GreatDrok Oh noes, I haz been hacked! (610 comments)

Seriously, not only are they whining about being 'hacked', even when they find out what really happened and that they got an album for free they're still not happy and are still indignant. It is pathetic. I made a point of giving the album a listen and you know what? I like it. I was pleased to get it and I've played it a few times. The media are fanning the flames for all they're worth too. Definitely time to go back to dumb phones for dumb users.

about 3 months ago

Linux 3.17-rc2 Release Marks 23 Years of the Linux Kernel

GreatDrok Re:So, 23 years ago he was trolling (106 comments)

"Wow, time flies! Soon it will be the 20th anniversary of Linux on the Desktop Year."

You think you're funny but I first had Linux as my desktop in 1995 and shortly after I was one of the founding members of our university Linux User Group.

about 4 months ago

Professor Steve Ballmer Will Teach At Two Universities This Year

GreatDrok Re:Those who can't... (179 comments)

"It's been said many times - Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

I prefer "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach, and those who can't teach, manage"

In Ballmer's case he seems to be going around in circles, rather like Microsoft who can't choose a direction and stick with it.

about 4 months ago

Microsoft Considered Renaming Internet Explorer To Escape Its Reputation

GreatDrok Re:Well, I wouldn't be surprised if that worked (426 comments)

"I mean it worked for Windows Vista. (I'll always wonder if they didn't have to rename it would we have gotten what became Windows 7 as a service pack.)"

Indeed, I have Windows 7 64 bit home premium on my home PC and a spare copy of Vista 64 bit Ultimate on my MacBook Pro in VMWare so I use both relatively regularly. The main visible difference is the change to the task bar and honestly, I prefer the Vista version to what they did with Windows 7. Other than that, modern hardware zips along running Vista just fine and if it wasn't for the fact that I can see the different task bar I would be hard pressed to tell the difference in actual use.

Mind you, run 7 for any length of time and it soon starts to decay with the classic MS bit-rot and it still suffers from frequent reboots whenever it updates because it can't replace files that are being used. There's really very little different about 7 other than dropping the Vista name and little that couldn't have simply been a service pack because Vista today doesn't bog down anything like as much as it did when it first came out. Vista and 7 are still way more bloated than XP and that was a fat pig compared with 2K (my personal favourite Windows, gone too soon)

about 4 months ago

Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly

GreatDrok Re:Who has the market share? (336 comments)

"Mac remains the desktop fashion accessory for those who care about style over function"

This is a very myopic view of the Mac. In some fields, particularly scientific fields, Macs are a better solution than Linux and have gained considerable support. It isn't because it is a fashion accessory, it is because it is a fully fledged UNIX with all the same open source tools as Linux, plus a bunch of commercial software that Linux lacks, all on hardware that is well specified, long lasting and well designed. I've had my share of PC hardware cobbled together to get Linux on my desktop but in the end a Mac is more cost effective and a better solution. Our site's Linux fanboy admin even bought a MacBook Air for his own use and now won't spec anything non-Apple for our users regardless of the OS they choose because we've had such bad experience of poorly made PCs.

about 4 months ago

Long-range Electric Car World Speed Record Broken By Australian Students

GreatDrok Why all the anti-electric rhetoric? (120 comments)

I've been reading through the comments and there seems to be so much vitriol aimed at electric vehicles. Sure, this isn't a practical car, but electric vehicles in general can be very practical. We have a petrol powered car at the moment but when it eventually dies (which won't be for some time given how reliable it is, go Mazda!) I would seriously consider an all electric simply because we rarely if ever do trips in our car that are longer than the range of the Nissan Leaf for instance. One tank of fuel lasts us about three weeks so we're averaging around 100 miles a week. We have a garage so we can keep an electric topped up (from roof mounted solar panels) and for the once or twice a year where we need the range of a petrol car I have no issue with nipping over to the nearest car rental place and grabbing whatever I fancy for the trip. The cost savings of switching to an electric will be substantial and we would never have to waste five minutes filling the car up every few weeks so that's a plus.

It only makes sense to make the switch when we're shopping for a new car but electrics have become easily practical for an every day car when you live in a city and the cost is dropping down to the affordable range. If we were in the country then I would more likely look to a hybrid but for our needs, lugging around a petrol motor just for the rare times we would have to travel more than 100 miles round trip makes no sense.

If none of the above applies to you and you tow your boat everywhere just in case, and you won't even start your vehicle unless you intend to do an 800 mile round trip, well then, buy a huge 4x4 and be happy with your choice.

about 5 months ago

Man Booted From Southwest Flight and Threatened With Arrest After Critical Tweet

GreatDrok Re:Customer service? (928 comments)

" I just pledged to avoid that airline in future... and later upgraded it to a blanket ban after the next time I used the airline (4 years later) a similar event happened where my connecting flight was cancelled and trapping me in the same airport."

US airlines are some of the worst I've ever had the displeasure of encountering. I just got back from some work in the US and had to fly United internally as that was what worked for the necessary connections. The flight was late by two hours but fortunately it didn't matter that time but I was still grumpy sitting in SF for five hours. The next flight was Delta which was OK and on time, and then I was on United again and the same thing happened, delayed by two hours due to weather (aka act of God) and I missed my international connecting flight which stranded me in LA for 22 hours until the next connection. United didn't offer a hotel having left me there at close to midnight. I paid for an hotel myself having confirmed my insurance would cover me but the lack of customer service skills was very apparent. The flights were also lousy with no in flight entertainment unless you put your hand in your pocket and the same goes for food or drink.

I won't fly United again. Consider this my 'tweet'.

about 5 months ago

EU's top court may define obesity as a disability

GreatDrok Not a disability (2 comments)

It is not a disability, it is self harming. I was fat and then I dieted and now I'm not. If I had a real disability could I fix it with a simple lifestyle change?

about 6 months ago

Physical Media: Down, But Maybe Not Out

GreatDrok Re:An extended rental... (116 comments)

"The problem with digital "sales" is that they aren't really a sale. They are effectively an extended rental. That rental can be revoked at any time and your entire collection can be made to go away."

This is exactly my problem. I've always bought discs but sometimes I get a free iTunes voucher so I redeem that. I've recently had a case where a movie from iTunes was showing in reverse colours and they swore blind that it was my fault. I tested it on every device I had an the thing was always the same, a file I downloaded was fine, the one they were now serving via iCloud was inverted. In the end I had to give up because they kept to the story that the issue was with my Mac, PC, iPad and iPhone rather than the file being the problem. If this file had been a purchase I would have been stuck. Fortunately, I rip all my DVDs and Blu rays since they are then fine and I can archive the discs. Discs are still the way to go.

about 6 months ago

Group Demonstrates 3,000 Km Electric Car Battery

GreatDrok Re:Read the Article! (363 comments)

"Sadly the killer for this, and all electric cars, is that assuming an internal combustion car uses 6l/100km of petrol the price of petrol would need to reach $5/litre before it became more expensive than the cost of battery or about a factor 4 higher than it currently is in Canada. Still give it a few more years of declining battery costs and increasing oil prices and we will finally be there!"

My relatively modern and efficient regular internal combustion car can do about 7l/100Km on a run (2.3 Mazda 6 wagon) but typically it gets nearer 10l/100Km for combined driving. Fuel at the moment costs $2.30 a litre for 95 octane super (required by the car because I've tried 91 and it pinks like mad) so the numbers here in NZ are getting pretty close.

Personally, I use a motorcycle which returns 4l/100Km in heavy traffic and doesn't get stuck behind the idiot in front for hours - 1.5 hours to cover 25Km in Auckland is madness but that is what people put up with, my bike does it in 35 mins. No way a car averaging 17Kph is getting anywhere near 10l/100Km, let alone 6. Then again, I don't think the fuel matters so much as the time it takes and to me when it takes longer to drive than to use a push bike then you're using the wrong mode of transport.

about 6 months ago

Valve In-Home Game Streaming Supports Windows, OS X & Linux

GreatDrok SteamBox just got really interesting (106 comments)

With this I can grab a little steambox for my TV in the living room and play all my steam games on that from the comfort of the sofa. No worries about having to only buy Linux compatible games as I already have a Windows PC purely for games anyway. I'll see how well this works tonight when I can stream a PC game to my Mac laptop but if it works well then I'm sold.

This is what Sony should have done with the PS4 - let users stream from their old PS3 to the PS4 rather than rely on the PSNow solution they're pushing but I guess they don't have the flexibility of a PC to do that sadly.

about 7 months ago


GreatDrok hasn't submitted any stories.



BBC sucking up to Bill Gates and co

GreatDrok GreatDrok writes  |  more than 7 years ago

Well, I watched the BBC Money Programme about the launch of Vista and a couple of things struck me. They tried to make out that they (the BBC) were being impartial, but in reality it was all rather sickly. The first thing that struck me is that all along they kept talking about competitors in the form of Google and 'other' internet companies but not once did they mention the source of most of their 'innovations', Apple. It was intriguing that the whole programme didn't mention Apple once in fact. Secondly, the whole 'WOW' thing with Vista got really old really quickly. The BBC tried to be cute by talking to potential customers at the end of the programme and asking if they would buy it and they all said that they wouldn't buy it because they didn't see what was wrong with XP. The general feeling was that they would get it with a new PC and not before. Fair enough. But when they told this couple of women that it cost MS $10 billion (that's $10 thousand million to us Brits) they did say "wow" to that. Personally, I am surprised that the number of lines of code only increased by 10 million over XP. Clearly they ripped a lot out and rewrote it, or didn't. Fact is, there isn't much new from the look of things. I have used Vista and found it confusing in many respects but maybe that is just me.

Anyway, wow? Not really. Yuck more like. And no mention of Apple, come on BBC. Something clearly went on behind the scenes to exclude such a prominent competitor. MS is obviously trying to ignore Apple and hope that none of their customers make the obvious comparison, that Vista is an old Toyota MR2 with a body kit trying to look like a Ferrari (don't laugh, there is one of those driving around where I live and it looks OK from a distance but up close..... no.)


Zero Emissions Vehicles

GreatDrok GreatDrok writes  |  about 8 years ago

All this talk of fuel efficiency and how difficult it is to be green prompts me to write about my daily use of a zero emissions vehicle. It requires no charging, now fueling, it simply works via man power and is capable of covering an easy 20 miles in an hour when the average speed of traffic in large cities is barely 10 MPH. The bicycle has been around for well over 100 years and I use mine daily to commute to work. I have got sufficiently fit now that I don't even break sweat and it only takes me 20 mins to cover the 5 miles or so even with traffic. I just don't know why so few people consider this as a viable way to travel. It costs virtually nothing to use. No insurance, no road tax, no fuel costs, very little repair costs (I had to buy a new chain recently) and it is amazing just watching people sit in traffic wasting money and getting fat.

Since I started cycling to work my car use has nearly halved, I cover roughly 2000 miles a year now and those are the 2000 miles which would be the most poluting and expensive since they are the town journeys.

Of course, the car drivers don't like cyclists which is odd. Would they prefer me to be in my car too? If all the cyclists used cars too the traffic would be much worse so they really should appreciate us and not try and run us off the road. Oh, and while I'm complaining about car drivers, you know it really isn't that impressive when you gun your engine and burn me off at the traffic lights. I'm on a bike, you're in a car, it really doesn't make you look tough or strong or anything, just wasteful.

Finally, the school run. It is amazing how clear the roads are when the schools are shut. These hulking great 4x4 things clogging the roads up for no good reason. Kids should walk to school, or take a bus. No-one got driven to school when I was a kid so what is different today? Well, I guess it is more dangerous to walk to school what with all the careless mums driving very large SUVs to carry one small child to school and parking wherever the heck they please. There really isn't any need for it.

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