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Comment: Re:My favorite versioning plan (Score 1) 349

by ledow (#48029487) Attached to: Microsoft Announces Windows 10

And provides a real-world slap in the face.

I had to explain to a school once that we were still deploying Office 2003 to students who came into the school system in 2004.

That seemed to wake them up a bit, when they realised that the reason the kids found the IT stuff strange was that they weren't even BORN when it first came out, and was nothing like they were using at home.

When they ask what the difference is between 2003 and 2013, you can say - with a straight face - the same as the difference between the 80's and the 90's. When they realise their lesson plans and teaching are 10 YEARS out of date, it kind of shakes them up a bit.

Comment: Re:Sigh.... (Score 1) 349

by ledow (#48029435) Attached to: Microsoft Announces Windows 10

Fuck that, even.

Just give me a damn option. Who cares what silly nonsense the latest fad is to launch programs (and, sorry, Windows 8 Tiles = Windows 95 Active Desktop in all but name)? Just give me the option - if it's really THAT good, I'll switch to it. If not, I've lost nothing.

And the development time is literally in the "freeware utility" range so don't give me shit about how long it takes MS to manage two shell paradigms.

I've deployed Windows 8 - but wouldn't do it without Classic Shell and specifically its GPO settings. When I constantly ask myself WHY that's not part of Windows any more, it makes me question what I'm expecting from Windows in the future.

P.S. Microsoft - make it a fucking single setting in GPO to push Desktop Backgrounds, Logon Screens, Lock Screens, Colour Themes etc. to clients (and put AD pictures into Windows 8 User Icons on logon). While you're there, make it a free feature to put a corporate signature in Exchange without poncing about with transport rules and copying files down to clients. 20 years and we still don't have the SIMPLEST of things done right.

Comment: Re:Survivorship Bias (Score 1) 113

by ledow (#48015479) Attached to: Mystery Gamer Makes Millions Moving Markets In Japan

More directly, any sort of winning on a "bet" you make has to come from somewhere. Some guy loses out, or some stock exchange gives you money that it's inevitably getting from someone else as they lose.

Gambling, or trading, overall, is not a zero-sum game. Your earnings have come from someone else's loss - PLUS commission. The guys earning commission are raking it in with little or no loss. But the guys the other end - they are the ones "giving" you that money, one way or another. Maybe via third-parties, maybe from their own companies, maybe from their own mistakes, maybe just in allowing the stock exchange to balance out and be profitable to operate while you're winning on the other, but the money has come from somewhere. It didn't magic out of thin air.

Vegas and lotteries are the same. Yeah, you might win a million. The million came from some other MORE THAN ONE MILLION poor saps each spending one (of whatever currency) trying to win the million. And nothing is guaranteed. If you have a brain you stop once you've won big. To keep going is not only a sign of greed, but a sign of some stupidity. Before long, the tide will turn and if you're stupid you'll spend whatever you have left hoping that the next hand will fall your way.

So you only ever hear of people winning big - and then never hearing of them again, or winning big and then stopping playing. The "I pissed away millions" story just makes people think you're a stupid fucker, so it's not that those stories don't exist or aren't heard, it's that nobody has any sympathy for *that* guy.

Similarly for all those celebs who were earning millions and then have to declare themselves bankrupt. It's news both ends. But if you're wanting to make it big, you won't care about the second story because "you're not that stupid".

Comment: Re:not a solution at all (Score 1) 188

by ledow (#48009971) Attached to: NVIDIA Begins Requiring Signed GPU Firmware Images

It depends.

If the blob is only needed to control the thermal logic on the chips, then the vast majority of the open code that's required (interfacing with the buses, talking to the chips, converting and uploading primitives and textures to RAM etc.) is still under the control of the OS.

I see it as akin to the wireless devices where the region-specific allowed frequencies are used. The operation of the chip - it's loading order, it's interaction and security of RAM, it's performance, it being under the control of the OS, etc. is all there. But the one bit that nVidia can't take a chance on - the dangerous stuff that you shouldn't be playing with anyway if you're concerned about the integrity of the device - is in firmware. Would it be worse if that just existed on a ROM chip and you couldn't change it at all? Probably. At least this can be upgraded to new versions.

And the requirement for open-source is that the card can play nicely with other code - that it interacts with the OS and other drivers nicely without having to rewrite PCI drivers or hand over full control of DMA of any part of RAM to the device. That's the point of Noveau, that's WHY we want to avoid blobs. And this looks like a blob that doesn't actually matter. It could be on the card, and we wouldn't care. But if the PCI interaction logic or the DMA code that the OS has to execute is just on card ROM, then it's a whole lot harder to make the damn thing work for Linux, etc. instead of just the main market of Windows.

Similarly, the wifi debacle of a few years ago - no, we don't want to just be passing off random blobs whose "open" parts are to basically hand off complete DMA / USB access to the device and the blackbox of code makes it work. But if we have to have a firmware of just the essential, must not play with, vendor-supplied part that doesn't interfere with operation and we can revert it at any time - that's a tiny, tiny loss for a massive, massive gain: vendor support without fear of litigation if they somehow "approve" our code that might transmit on frequencies it's not allowed to, or fry our cards.

It's not perfect, but it's a damn sight better than some other companies offer at all. And there seems to be good reasoning behind it. And, in the end, it won't affect your use of the card for any of the primary goals you buy it for, nor will it break when you go to a Linux 3.6 kernel because they never updated the PCI code in the wrapper, or whatever.

Comment: 3D plotter (Score 2) 69

by ledow (#48006223) Attached to: How 3D Printers Went Mainstream After Decades In Obscurity

Still a long way to go - they are still just a toy.

Bought one for the school I work for, and it's cool to watch but it has a LOT of problems, not inherent to the implementation.

When people ask how it works, I explain to those old enough to remember pen-plotters that it's just one of those, with melted plastic and a vertically-moving surface. They nod and then realise that we could have done this decades ago with any number of other materials and got something similar. And we actually did, and have done.

The process has a long way to go - plastic is a nicer material than some home-brew thing could made, but it's still having problems. Cleaning supports and struts is a pain - I understand if you have a completely "floating" support that they are necessary but in, say, a teacup the whole thing is joined to every other point so there's no real reason to require supports. Moving up AND down a level and being able to orient the head would help a lot here and solve some other problems.

The layering produces obvious stripes. If you print circles, inevitably you have to adjust the print movement or else you end up with a "seam" where the head completes the circles and moves up a level. It's very hard to 3D print, say, a watertight object - even with the best preparation it's hard to guarantee the material will stick to the print-base, and that it will join to itself perfectly.

And print time is still atrocious. All things that will get better, I'm sure, but given that it's a plotter with a vertical base, you have to wonder why the speed isn't anywhere near the best plotters as were around 20-30 years ago.

Comment: Re:impressive! (Score 1) 88

It's not scary. It's pretty basic.

Genetic algorithms has a classic example where a GA evolved a chip design that could distinguish between two frequencies of an electrical input. It do so in a more efficient and smaller package than anything designed to do so. And it was so complex that (it was said, but people say a lot) nobody really understands how it works... but it does.

The problem is that it's also not intelligence of any kind. If anything, the opposite. Pigeons, for example, if you put them in an enclosed room and feed them at completely random times will pick up a "superstition" where they correlate something they were doing at the time the food was dispensed, and think that "brings food". So you'll get pigeons sitting there banging their head against the wall because the first time they did that, some food dropped at random. That's not intelligence, even if it's being displayed by a real animal.

This is the same thing. By sheer chance, a correlation is formed between "winning slightly more often" and a certain action and that action is reinforced every time it wins slightly more.

This isn't scary, and it's certainly not intelligence or AI, and it's miles over making the leap that real "intelligent" animals can make - "if I do this, this will happen, which will give me what I want", which is an entirely different abstraction from repeatedly trying something and has an intellectual "insight", which may help through situations that you've NEVER encountered before (instead of being repeatedly trained on the same situation until you happen to find the solution).

It's the difference between a point-and-click adventure where if you just point-and-click enough and in every combination, you'll "win", and a 3D FPS where you can use tactics and strategy that can outwit an opponent who's totally unpredictable through insight into the deeper situation.

Comment: Re:Proprietary (Score 1, Troll) 64

by ledow (#48005949) Attached to: Acer Launches First 4K Panel With NVIDIA G-Sync Technology On Board

Because the average persons care about business practices rather than, say, having the best product.

I can't convince friends that there are better alternatives to Apple, I sure as hell couldn't get them away from nVidia just because of their use of a proprietary "standard".

(And, to be honest, I'm with them - I don't really care at all about 4K, and would rather use the faster, more stable card / driver available).

Comment: Re:the technology is amazing (Score 2) 131

by ledow (#47995413) Attached to: Euclideon Teases Photorealistic Voxel-Based Game Engine

Don't be fooled by the hype.

In that same way that some have taken hi-res scans of the Mona Lisa in every spectrum (visible, UV, etc.), there are companies capable of taking these laser scanners and doing just the same - without the voxel bollocks.

At no point is that engine rendering "hundreds" of voxels in between every point that the laser scanner scanned. What they've done is taken several laser scanned, merged them together to get an almost-3D representation (of the backs of objects the laser can't penetrate etc.) and then found a method (dozens of "I'd do it this way"'s spring to mind as I think of it) to merge them into a set of points, with colouration that a modern graphics workstation can render a static scene from. There are ALREADY people doing this with laser scanners and running the point data to get vectors that you can then plug straight into a conventional 3D engine.

They've just hyped up their way of doing with some voxel ("3D pixel") bollocks. Watch the demos - you can't manipulate or see a single 3D pixel - because it's not there. The 3D pixel data no doubt existed from the merged laser scanner data but it's just TOO LARGE to store, and they mention that themselves. All they did was do that, then cut out the hidden pixels (hidden surface removal - where have I heard that before?), and combined it with colour data from the laser scanners to provide some kind of "colour" to the pixel (i.e. a texture).

To then get that into streamable-from-a-hard-disk format, there's either an immense amount of cheating, or an immense amount of bullshit. My guess is that they just put it into a compact format without the unnecessary information and then plug that through a very high-end OpenGL workstation to render those shots. Because, at the end of the day, they haven't made their own graphics cards - they are still rendering data the same as everyone else. And if they are "cheating", they may well be unable to do this in anywhere near real-time and every single pixel change in the scene would require whole new data to be recompressed, optimsed, polygonned, stored and sent to the card.

There's more than a whiff of bullshit, more than the presenter silly voiceover even, about what they are claiming and what they are doing. They couldn't lie. Not legally. But they aren't telling you the truth.

And, whenever I saw the "infinite detail" demos, I always wondered why they stopped at about the resolution that a normal game stops. At that point, even when they show you it zoomed it, it looks blocky and you can see individual pixels - I suspect those are individual pixels on a texture on a vectorised surface generated from their data, but nobody but them can prove otherwise. And if that's the case - people have been doing this for decades. Almost any 3D scanner project has something like this - every computer vision student has knocked something similar up in their career. How to get a 3D vector interpretation from 2D pixel data from multiple angles... it's a classic.

The proof of the pudding, as all these things, is in the eating. If this is going to revolutionise games, check the reviews of the first game that uses it. If you're right, all you lost was a few days of pre-order on a game. If you're wrong, however, you've lost nothing except a bit of pride.

You can't buy this. You can't use this. You (probably) can't write a game in this engine. So why hype it? But, increasingly, why believe in the hype while those are true?

Too much fancy posturing and hype and not enough actually getting stuff done. A handful of static scenes aren't impressive - have you ever seen ray-traced Quake or similar evolutions of existing game engines? Looks stunning. Nothing ever came of it because it wasn't what you thought it actually was. By the time PC's were powerful enough, simple 3D graphics techniques were wiping the floor with it.

Comment: Re:I've got a better idea.. (Score 1) 405

by ledow (#47995127) Attached to: To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

Quite a bit, if he expects to be able to drive down a road to get to his house which passes the front of mine, and someone to maintain that road, and enforce the law on it so he doesn't have tankers going past all day breaking it up and requiring repairs (that he probably expects to happen too)? Or he expects to share an electrical / water / sewage / utility that the utility company would happily charge him a small fortune for a "personal" set of utilities for (similar to that asked for a leased line instead of a broadband connection).

Or if he expects the police to come running if someone breaks into his house (or mine next door, for that matter). Or if he expects some fire fighter or doctor to arrive at the scene. Or if he expects records to be kept of his property boundaries and entitlements. Or if he expects someone to come running if I build a 200ft Eiffel Tower overshadowing his garden or have a loud party disturbing him until 5am or someone parks across his drive. Or if he expects his son to be educated. Or if he expect paedophiles to be caught, to stand trial, to be jailed and/or (in countries with no concept of human rights) executed.

Sure, you can be a total fucknut and say "I'll handle those things personally"... in which case the guy living next to YOU will want all that shit, to guard from your actions.

What percentage my neighbour should pay isn't fixed. Depends on a lot of things - some of the Scandi-wegian countries have 50% tax rates precisely because the services they get are so much better (education is fucking excellent over there, etc.). The UK has the NHS - no chances of dying because you couldn't afford a doctor's bill over here - you literally DO NOT PAY for surgical treatment at all and the most you can be asked to pay is a bit of your time and a maximum of a hundred-and-something pounds a year on your drugs (total... including everything... cancer drugs, the pill, I know someone on 46 different types of pill from a serious illness who pays just that maximum, once, per year). That's fucking worth paying for.

So long as we're paying the same percentage (or there's a sufficient reason why not - e.g. disability that stops you working), it's fair. Because when he breaks his legs and uses the doctor I paid for, I'll call the cops that he paid for, etc.

Taxation pays for all that shit you might complain about being inefficient but actually wouldn't want to live without. Without it, you literally have anarchy. And nobody - no how matter tough or how many weapons they have - would last a week in anarchy before some gang broke in and killed them for their possessions.

Comment: Re:Just don't update it that way. (Score 4, Informative) 203

by ledow (#47987251) Attached to: Apple Yanks iOS 8 Update

Then don't make your phone from that metal.

People put phones in pockets. People sit on phones. People drop phones.

I know, because I've done all the above. My phone basically lives in my pocket, sitting or standing, or running around. And I've never bent one yet.

Maybe it's just fashion-over-functionality, like most Apple products, but I'd prefer a very expensive phone not to bend because it's in your pocket.

P.S. My keys are metal. They don't bend. Car keyfobs don't bend, even the larger ones. You can make excuses all you like - other models and manufacturers DO NOT have this problem, to anywhere near the same extent. Seriously, one week after release - it's not a "repeated and prolonged" stress - it's you forgetting it's in your pocket ONCE and then bending a very expensive device.

Comment: Re:This happened to me for my FY2013 filing (Score 1) 405

by ledow (#47981325) Attached to: To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

Some countries have never relied on such numbers to authenticate you. The SS number (not American, but assume that's what you're talking about), for instance, is the most stupid use of a identifying number that I've ever seen.

Last time I filed tax online was a few years ago and, because I'm in the UK, only because I was self-employed. It required a digital certificate signed by the Government Gateway, which takes all kinds of information to get a login on. Impersonation of me to obtain a tax refund would require some enormous amount of government collusion, or extremely lax data security.

And yet, by not having this easy-to-skim-read magic number that I must never tell anyone, I don't seem to suffer at all.

As an aside, I know someone who went to the US and stayed there. Firstly, they were issued official ID with "illegal immigrant" status written on it in big letters. We found that hilarious. Secondly, they were working and when asked they just gave a made-up SSN to their employer that could not possibly have correlated with any name they gave (being British, they just gave their real name anyway). They were there for 10+ years and it was never queried or investigated.

They were once denied entry to the US when they came back from their home country, though. Being law-abiding to (a certain extent) they waited a year as asked to, went again, and the US authorities okayed their entry.

I don't know what kind of system you're running over there, but SSNs are an absolute joke. Not saying you couldn't live in other countries for a while by making up numbers and moving around, but this person literally worked in the same place for 10 years with a totally made-up SSN because they couldn't be bothered to apply for one, and an ID card that told everyone they were an illegal immigrant. Nothing was ever done about either that actually made any difference.

Presumably someone, somewhere, has an awful lot of money tied against their SSN that they are paying in some way for, and has no way to detect or combat that. Or maybe SSNs that are made up and don't actually exist cannot be detected?

Comment: Re:I've got a better idea.. (Score 1) 405

by ledow (#47981233) Attached to: To Fight $5.2B In Identity Theft, IRS May Need To Change the Way You File Taxes

That's great. For this year. What do you intend to do next year?

Unless you desire to live in anarchy with no public services, taxation is necessary. The most sensible, easy-to-understand form of taxation is "income" tax. Give X% of what you have earned to the state (in some countries, 50% is standard!). It's pretty fair, not earning = no pay and millionaires pay for. It's pretty huge amounts of money. It doesn't detract from everyday life.

The problem in the US is that you appear to want everyone to fill in a tax form when the vast majority of the population have official jobs and nothing else of note. In the UK, you don't fill out tax forms. Most people never see one. You work, you "pay-as-you-earn" (so your employer is responsible for working out and paying your tax on the money they are giving you), it's taxed right there at source, and what you end up taking home is yours.

The only time you see a tax form is if you're earning more than ~GBP4000 on top of that as earned income that you haven't declared. Basically, self-employed people and people earning from shares, etc. with the time and money to get an accountant to do their taxes for them. The only time I have ever had to file a tax form is when I was self-employed. I literally wrote my income in one box, could sign off a multitude of stuff in others if I so desired (my work was IT support work, so expenses were basically zero except for the occasional bus ticket), and then was taxed on the difference.

Although the tax laws were horrendously worded, filling out the forms once you knew where to put things was about 20 minutes of work. And you just kept your receipts and invoices for 4 years if you were self-employed so that you could be audited. I was never audited, despite earning a living wage for 10 years that way and never having any other job, before or during - but from what I can tell if I had been, I'd actually have been entitled to an awful lot of refunds because I didn't claim half what I could have. And now it's online so it's even quicker and easier.

Yet I hear my American friends complain at certain times of the year about how they have to all "do their taxes" and it seems quite a stressful time for them. I'm sure the accountants make a fortune during that period.

If taxation is that complex and difficult, you are losing more than you gain from taxation. If the system is struggling under the load, then simplify it. But, to be honest, in the UK your tax forms are normally due something like January, and it'll be Summer before you get anything back precisely because it takes that long to properly check even just the self-employed taxes. Trying to tax the whole country and check their records in a couple of months is a ridiculous proposition, especially when the entire "tax season" (which doesn't exist in the UK - you either never file any taxes at all, or, as a business, you use an accountant who has MONTHS to file stuff for you - finance directors in businesses might get tetchy around April but that's not a taxation cutoff so much as making sure the financial year is wrapped up) is stressful for everyone.

Honestly, I never hear UK people talk about having to do their taxes unless their self-employed. And I've been there. If you want, you can pay some accountant a few hundred, give him your paperwork, and that's the end of it. Even on a rush-job the day before the deadline. It's not stressful at all.

But I see posts from American friends on the Internet where they seem to be under far too much stress about it, every year.

Comment: Stop bundling. (Score 4, Insightful) 137

by ledow (#47975479) Attached to: Google Quietly Nixes Mandatory G+ Integration With Gmail

I have a social networking account already, thanks.
I have an email account already, thanks
I have a cloud storage account already, thanks.
I have a search engine already, thanks.
I have an instant messenger already, thanks.

When you try to do EVERYTHING, you believe that all your customers will drop everything they have years invested in and run to you. Doesn't work out that way. And if you get over-precious and try to force them to do it, well, that doesn't go down well either.

So run them as separate, independent services that I *can* join together if I want to (it's handy to be able to sign into Google Drive with my old GMail account, for example, but don't FORCE that upon me).

In the same way that if you sell me TV, phone, Internet, water, gas, electricity, burglar alarm and music lessons - and then try to "punish" me for not using one of them, or force me to use one in order to get another - chances are that I won't use any of them. Whereas if you just ran them all as separate services, I might well decide to lump in TV, phone and Internet into a single package for convenience. But you have to think about what happens when I'm perfectly happy with my Internet provider and DO NOT want to change. If your offerings are that inflexible that you won't let me use one without the others - even if the others are useless to me - then I'm likely to find yet-another-company that will do, say, my email without requiring me to sign up to their social network too.

This is exactly how I viewed things. I was one of the first GMail accounts, back when they were invite-only and nobody knew they existed. It took over from my Hotmail (primarily because my Hotmail account was trying to tie into my Windows Live account, and into my Microsoft account, etc. etc. etc.). And when G+ came along, I looked and deliberately decided against it. The more the pushed, to more I ignored.

It never got to the point where it became a hassle to opt-out, even when it did become annoying, so I'm still on GMail but not G+. Hence, it's not a shock to me that probably a lot of other people did exactly the same.

Just because you offer "your" Facebook, doesn't mean I'll immediately move everything off my Facebook to change to you. No matter how good you are.

Comment: Re:Well, that's how they faked them to begin with (Score 1) 275

by ledow (#47967771) Attached to: Nvidia Sinks Moon Landing Hoax Using Virtual Light

Problem is, technology fast enough to talk to a PCI-Express card wasn't generally available in the 60's. Or 70's. Or probably even 80's. Even with supercomputers of the age.

More likely, nVidia has a wormhole through which they took orders for images to fake, then sent them back into the past.

The only difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman is that the car salesman knows he's lying.

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