Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment Re:Older Car Radios... (Score 1) 210 210

Well...it *might* be that your radio used an IF (intermediate frequency) to decode the AM or FM encoding...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

This signal is sufficiently high in frequency that it actually 'leaks' outside the radio - and, I suppose, might be picked up by a radio in a nearby car. But the IF's frequency isn't close to where you're tuning...so I'm not sure this completely explains the story.

(In Britain, there is a television licence you're supposed to pay to operate a TV receiver - and at one time the government used "Television Detector Vans" that drove around to houses that didn't have a TV license and picked up the IF frequencies that televisions inadvertently send out...allegedly, they could tell which room the TV was in - AND which channel you were watching - so the IF frequency must be different for different radio channels.)

I dunno - this is one of those stories that sounds kinda OK in theory - but I really doubt it would work in practice.

Comment Re:brute force the unlock code on car stereo (Score 2) 210 210

I heard you could fix that issue by putting the stereo into the freezer for a while. Allegedly this takes the memory chip down below it's minimum operating temperature and erases it so the stereo boots up with factory defaults. Never tried it myself, but it's a trick that car stereo thieves are known to use.

Comment Paperclip saves fairground ride. (Score 5, Funny) 210 210

I was working on one of those gigantic 'motion theatre' fairground rides:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

This was back in the era of 286 PC's - running DOS. The software was suffering timing issues and we really needed a hardware timer interrupt - but DOS already stole all but one of them - and we simply didn't have enough.

I needed a *roughly* 1kHz interrupt to monitor some ride function or other (I forget exactly what) - so I came up with the idea of putting a bent paperclip between the RxD and TxD lines of the RS232 port and using the serial port interrupt. I'd send a character out through the serial port - and at 9600 baud, with one stop bit and one start bit the character took ~1/960'th of a second to arrive back in the serial port chip...at which point it triggered an interrupt - and I could send another byte out to make it happen again.

We used paperclips on a couple of machines as an emergency hack - but later versions used a 'dongle' plug that went into the RS232 port with a wire soldered across those two pins)...this plug was named the HPE..."Hardware Paperclip Emulator".

Comment It's their business model. (Score 3, Informative) 311 311

When you expect to get most of your revenue from selling apps in the iStore - it's essential that people are unable to get apps for free via fancy web pages.

Hence, iPhone doesn't support WebGL for doing fancy 3D graphics on a web page - if it did, people would write cool games in HTML/JavaScript/WebGL and monetize them directly without having Apple take 30% of the revenue and "approve" their product.

Is this because Apple can't support WebGL? Hell no! The browser actually DOES contain code for WebGL, but it's disabled...UNLESS your web site signs up to display Apple-provided advertising banners...in which case, WebGL works great!

Safari uses the exact same core rending software ("WebKit") as Chrome - so it can trivially support everything that Chrome supports - it's really just a matter of Apple deciding to deliberately cripple the browser to prevent people from providing apps for free.

Comment Because it should never happen. (Score 1) 1067 1067

Whenever you divide by zero, the problem ISN'T the division - it's the previous code that either assumes that dividing by this number will produce a valid result, or is doing something wrong in turn.

Checking - and somehow kludging - a divide by zero does nobody any good. You have to ask WHY you're dividing by zero and what it should mean.

I *want* divide by zero errors because they inform me that I'm doing something wrong elsewhere.

(And even if you wanted to kludge it - returning a very large number would be a better choice than zero...but don't do that).

Bottom line - if you're doing lots of div0 tests then you're doing something wrong in many other places!

    -- Steve

Comment Re:did the tech exist in 2010-12? (Score 1) 122 122

HMD's have been around since LONG before there were 3D graphics on the PC at all. They'd been used (for example) on military flight simulator back when you'd need a million dollars of mainframe hardware to generate a 3D image. I very much doubt that any of this tech is actually new. Probably someone like Evans & Sutherland were the first to do it - and they had 3D graphics back in the late 1970's. I doubt that much of the general concept is still patentable - so this argument is probably over some kind of small feature.

Comment An infinite number of possible answers (Score 1) 496 496

Consider this...suppose you are just over a mile from the SOUTH pole. You walk a mile south - and now you're maybe a hundred feet from the South pole. Then you turn west and start walking...around and around in a tiny 100 foot radius circle centered on the pole. When you've finally clocked up a mile - you turn and head North again...where do you end up?

Well, the answer depends on the exact circumference of the circle that you walked around. Generally, you'll end up someplace very different from your starting point...BUT if that circle is an EXACT sub-multiple of a mile - then you'll end up precisely where you started.

So...the North pole is clearly NOT a unique answer.

Furthermore - the north pole is only ONE answer. My approach reveals an infinite number of possible answers:

1) You could have started ANYWHERE that's at the exact right distance from the pole - so anywhere on that circle will do...an infinite number of starting points will work.

2) Note that ANY exact sub-multiple of a mile will do - so with mathematical precision, there are an infinite number of sub-multiples of a mile - and hence an infinite number of distances from the pole where you could have started.

Truly - the "North Pole" example exhibits very little lateral thinking... if that was your answer then you **FAILED** the Musk test...which (I'm pretty sure) is the whole point here.

The original version of the story is that a hunter walk a mile south, a mile west, shoots a bear, then walks a mile north to return to his starting point. What color was the bear?

Since there are no bears at the south pole - and only polar bears live anywhere near the north pole - then the north pole is the right place and the correct answer is "WHITE!"....but Musk isn't asking *that* question...he's trying to trick people into jumping to a false conclusion without stopping to think about it.

    -- Steve Baker

Comment It is tough though. (Score 1) 353 353

I don't know about you - but there are two parts to my job...thinking and doing.

The doing part is easy enough to segregate...If I'm sitting at my desk at work "doing"...typing in code, debugging, documenting, etc - then clearly that belongs to my employer and I have no right to be "doing" anything that I'm going to have control over outside of work.

But thinking is near impossible to segregate. I may well be thinking about solutions to my employer's problems as I commute, or as I'm fritzing around with something else at home...and it's impossible not to have an idea for an outside-work project pop into your head while you're trying to come up with a solution to something that's work-related.

In my opinion, the inability to segregate work-thinking from home-thinking means that I shouldn't try. In my mind, I'm paid for the 'doing' part during office hours - and whatever 'thinking' is required in order to get the 'doing' done. 'Doing' that gets done on my own time is mine - as is whatever thinking went into making it happen. When I think of something that relates to my job - it belongs to them, even if I come up with it at 4am in a flash of dream-inspired wakefulness. And if I come up with something that would make a great off-time project while I'm waiting for my code to compile at work - then that's my idea and it's nobody's business when and where I came up with it.

The only requirement to make that work is a clean separation between the kinds of things I'm paid to do and the kinds of things I do for myself - but since "a change is as good as a rest", there is a natural tendency for me to do very different things in my off-time anyway. If you find that you have a fuzzy grey area in there - then you'd better lawyer-up and make sure everyone has a crystal clear idea of where the "doing" boundaries lie an that the "thinking" boundaries don't exist.

Comment Unity3d isn't exactly free. (Score 1) 125 125

There are a significant number of 'missing features' in the free version of Unity3d...for example, render-to-texture. That's a pretty serious omission for any kind of serious software development - so the $1500 (or $75/month with a 2 year commitment) is necessary if you are really serious about game development. In a typical game company, $1,500 is roughly the salary of one programmer for a week. So over the life of any reasonable commercial game, the cost of buying a full license for each worker is essentially negligible.

What the free versions do is to enable indie studios to grow to the point where they can afford to pay for a game engine - and to get amateur game developers to grow interest, loyalty and expertise in a particular free engine that will hopefully translate into sales of the professional version when they become paid game developers in the future. But there are enough annoying road blocks that even an amateur developer may be tempted into buying (or renting!) the full version after running into a few of them.

It's a good model, and I hope it grows and continues.

    -- Steve

Comment Like Voyager's golden record? (Score 2) 169 169

100 years isn't so long. They people who open the container will almost certainly be able to read instructions - and probably have reasonable technology to access the contents. But maybe they don't care enough to go to a lot of trouble to do it? It's very likely that the images you store will still be easily accessible in the future.

If you don't think they'll go to very much trouble - then you should provide them with the means to replay the data as well as the data itself. There are plenty of small video players (like a cheap digital camera or an MP3 player with video capability) - so long as you pack them appropriately and protect them from crazy temperature variations, they should last a long time in storage and still work at the end. Provide written instructions on what power requirements the machine has - and what buttons to push to access the content.

But quite honestly - there is unlikely to be anything in the data you provide that won't be accessible by then.

I would stick with physical objects that would be of historical interest, personal items - a snapshot of the times when the capsule was buried.

Maybe it would be worth trying to find people who've opened capsules like this - and ask them what was found to be most valuable from the contents?

    -- Steve

Comment Apple Watch vs Pebble Time? (Score 3, Informative) 529 529

I didn't catch the Apple announcement - but I wonder how the Apple Watch compares to the Pebble Time that's doing huge $$$ on Kickstarter right now?

From what I can see:

* Pebble is *way* cheaper.
* Pebble has a 7 day battery life (kinda beats 18 hours!)
* Pebble works with both iOS and Android, so if you ever want to change your phone, you won't have to change your watch.
* Pebble allows anyone to develop & ship apps without a fee.
* Both scheduled to ship about the same time.

I'm sure there is more to it than this than that...but why on earth would I buy the Apple watch?

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson

Working...