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Comment: Re:The Reuse Methodology Manual (Score 1) 88

by randomlogin (#39818059) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Sources For Firmware and Hardware Books?
Only 10 years old? My first edition copy of the book is from 1998! The toolchains may have improved in the intervening years, but the advice on HDL coding style is still relevant. There may be more recent books around that are a better introduction, but I've never had cause to read them and so can't comment.

Comment: The Reuse Methodology Manual (Score 2) 88

by randomlogin (#39811233) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Sources For Firmware and Hardware Books?
Both VHDL and Verilog provide you with 1001 ways of designing crappy circuits which don't work. This book tells you precisely which language constructs to use to get good synthesis results which will work equally well with FPGA and ASIC. For most experienced designers this is considered 'obvious' stuff, but if you're new to HDL design, this is a must read on the way to becoming an expert.

Comment: Re:Give JavaFX a go (Score 1) 278

by randomlogin (#39108035) Attached to: Best Language For Experimental GUI Demo Projects?
No mod points, so I'll second this. The 2.0 release of JavaFX is a huge step forward from Swing. A few of the things that would be useful in this context are:
* Declarative approach to UI construction using FXML so you can rapidly prototype the UI without needing to implement any of the application code.
* CSS support so you can easily 'skin' the UI.
* Uses underlying hardware acceleration for 3G.
* It's now a standard Java library, so you can also use it with other supported JVM based languages like Groovy.

Comment: Square is the big security fail here... (Score 3, Insightful) 273

by randomlogin (#38866701) Attached to: Shmoocon Demo Shows Easy, Wireless Credit Card Fraud
The fact that you can make a payment via Square without any form of authentication is the biggest failure here. At least with the RFID payment you've got a cryptographically strong authentication method which is pretty hard to fake. The sooner the credit card companies get rid of the magstripe the better...

Comment: Re:jigsaw (Score 4, Interesting) 157

by randomlogin (#38716042) Attached to: Oracle and the Java Ecosystem

Modularization is what java applications (well, backend servers powering too complex enterprisey-apps) need, and that should be achieved through the means of easy to use osgi tools instead of yet another (sun|oracle) screwup mimicking an "oss standard".

I think you're missing one of the main points of Jigsaw - which is modularizing the platform, not the application. This is especially important if Java is to get back into the embedded space, where JavaME and CDC are so antiquated it's just not funny any more. Having a range of well defined platform profiles which span everything from headless embedded devices up to a full enterprise stack (while using the same underlying codebase) would be a major step forward. Personally, I don't care what the implementation details are - the changes aren't going to stop anyone from using OSGi to modularize their applications if they want to.

Comment: Re:Nice idea but... (Score 1) 273

by randomlogin (#38663834) Attached to: British Schoolchildren To Get Programming Lessons

It's a great idea, but the execution is the only thing that matters and I just don't see them pulling it off. Who is going to teach these kids programming?

The kids can teach themselves. That may seem like a rather flippant comment, but I was impressed that Gove was aware of and referenced Scratch. One of the nice things about Scratch is that it comes with a whole bunch of 'self directed' learning materials which encourage hands on learning. It means you don't need a teacher with a C.S. degree to run an introductory programming course, just one who is sufficiently technically literate to get to grips with Scratch themselves.

Comment: Re:what do your customers need? (Score 1) 325

by randomlogin (#38341232) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Open Vs. Closed-Source For a Start-Up

The best choice would be if you could incorporate those algorithms into your hardware. Can you add a small DSP do the hardware? That doesn't just protect your code, it actually may also make your hardware easier to use (fewer software dependencies). On the other hand, that way, you won't get any improvement from the community.

I agree with this 100% - to the extent that it's the approach I've decided to take with my own startup. If your 'secret sauce' would benefit from real-time performance or hardware acceleration (FPGA or DSP), then proprietary firmware plus an open source host application stack is a great combination. The open source benefits wouldn't come from other people hacking on the core algorithms anyway - the main justification is to make it as easy as possible for other people to adapt and extend the technology to meet their own needs.

Comment: It's now officially a patent bubble... (Score 2) 78

by randomlogin (#37645192) Attached to: Patents Google Bought From IBM Are "Weak"

When I read this article I had flashbacks to the spurious crap that people used in ye olde Internet bubble. Or maybe the CDO credit bubble. In short, making arbitrary valuations by looking at second or third order artifacts and completely ignoring the value of the underlying thing.

What makes a good patent is the exact opposite of what these guys suggest. The membership of a patent 'thicket' that they regard as indicating patent quality is really an artifact of the way in which a single potential invention now gets salimi sliced into the maximum number of applications. This allows the corporation which owns the patents to brag about the size of its patent pile, it allows the employees who wrote the patents to maximize the number of patent bonuses they get and it obviously results in the greatest number of billable hours for the patent lawyers. In short, it's a win-win-win!

In reality, the most valuable patents should be ones that are as unrelated as possible to anything that went before and which stand completely on their own merits. Patents where any expert would look at and say 'I've never seen anything quite like that before'. However, making that judgment call requires that you actually analyze every patent in the portfolio in detail. Just as I'm sure the bankers carried out a detailed analysis of every underlying debt when they were trading CDOs...

Comment: Re:And Symbian S40? (Score 1) 163

by randomlogin (#37609912) Attached to: Why Linux Is Good For Low-End Smartphones

Concept-wise Symbian is a great system, but frankly, the SDK is a pain in the ass.

Spot on - I wonder how many developers they lost to Apple/Android just because they couldn't get their act together with the development environment.

I guess they did this already for a low footprint kernel (N900, N850, N770,...)

I wouldn't really class Maemo/Meego as low footprint - more like a full Linux workstation in your pocket. There is a big gap in capabilities between the deeply embedded open source OS platforms like eCos and something like Linux. There are proprietary solutions which fill this gap, but Symbian was probably the most promising open source option - especially if SymbeOSE had taken off.

Nokia does invest time and money in open source. It was Nokia which put Qt from GPL to LGPL and still invested a lot of effort in further developing it, embracing others to use this framework.

Historically that has been true, but I'm not confident that's a reliable predictor of the future! On the upside, I've just found the Sourceforge dump of the last EPL Symbian release, so as an open source project it's not quite dead yet...

Comment: Re:And Symbian S40? (Score 1) 163

by randomlogin (#37603654) Attached to: Why Linux Is Good For Low-End Smartphones

Thanks for pointing that out - my post was a bit ambiguous. I meant to say 'Migrating to Symbian is still a much better option', which is what a lot of people pre-Elop assumed was the obvious upgrade path.

So either way, using Linux or Symbian, the OS needs to be adapted to the S40 hardware. Also, e.g. with RT-Linux it should be also possible to run the protocol stack on the same CPU.

I think we can safely say that any new hardware will be adapted to the OS, rather than the other way round. I'm also coming round to the idea of Nokia spending a whole bunch of cash on building a commercial quality, low footprint Linux distribution with proper real time support. I could use one of those myself - and thanks to the GPL, the source code will have to remain open this time.

Comment: Re:And Symbian S40? (Score 3, Informative) 163

by randomlogin (#37592904) Attached to: Why Linux Is Good For Low-End Smartphones

Why not just keep updating/upgrading S40?

Short answer - because Nokia senior management have now completely lost the plot. Symbian is still a much better option at the low end because underneath all the shiny stuff is an RTOS designed specifically to run on resource constrained devices. Proper real time capabilities were baked into the current Symbian kernel specifically so that a single processor could be used for both the protocol stack and the applications. As someone pointed out earlier, other vendors pay good money to use proprietary RTOS platforms like Nucleus for their low end phones because they deliver the same benefits.

Putting a full Linux workstation in your pocket in the form of the N950 is cool - and I wish they'd let me buy one. But this is a different market, and it's not one where using Linux makes a hell of a lot of sense.

Comment: Re:Really? Vigilantes? (Score 1) 482

by randomlogin (#37041618) Attached to: The London Riots and Facial Recognition Technology

a Londoner when asked by a television reporter: Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"

The TV reporter from Britain's ITV had no response. So the young man pressed his advantage. "Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you."

I guess they must have been marching on Scotland Yard to protest at the lack of policing in their area and that the police were taking too much of a 'softly softly' approach on gun and gang crime, then. Because the net effect of the riots and the media coverage is going to be an increased police presence, possible increases in police powers and wide support in the general population for the 'robust' use of those powers. I'm sure that's what he and his fellow 'demonstrators' would have wanted.

Comment: Re:Assholes Stifling Advertising (Score 1) 204

by randomlogin (#35696930) Attached to: CD Ripper 'Incites Law Breaking,' Says British Regulator

The ASA acts if someone complains. Maybe nobody complained about Apple.

Maybe nobody complained about Apple because there wasn't much advantage in it, whereas now there just happens to be review of UK IP law on the cards, in order to promote UK technology innovation. And maybe we can all now point to a UK technology company which is being put at a disadvantage by the arse-backwards UK copyright laws. And maybe somebody has been playing the ASA in order to highlight this stupid situation at just the right time. Just a thought...

Innovation is hard to schedule. -- Dan Fylstra