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Comment: Re:That's a great plan... (Score 2) 197

by toejam13 (#46325711) Attached to: US Carriers Said To Have Rejected Kill Switch Technology Last Year

Agreed. A carrier should never be allowed to brick your phone.

However, they should be required to participate in blacklisting phones reported as missing or stolen. At a minimum, it should be a national registry. Preferably, it should be international.

I have seen a number of Verizon branded phones on Craigslist that have been supposedly reflashed for use with Cricket. I wonder how many of those phones have unclean serials. Same goes for AT&T branded phones for use with Rogers.

Second, if a stolen phone attaches to the cellular network, the carrier should be required to contact the police with location information. If a missing phone does the same, the carrier should be required to contact the owner (charge a finder fee if lost, contact the police if stolen).

Comment: Re:Give me a petrofuel range extender (Score 1) 357

by toejam13 (#46143277) Attached to: Tesla Touts Cross-Country Trip, Aims For World Record

Most hybrids have the petrol engine attached to the drivetrain. Those engines are still relatively large, and there is a deal of complexity having two engines attached to the drivetrain. A turbine engine can be quite small as it is very efficient. Driving only a generator, it greatly reduces complexity (read: weight).

And there is a problem with the current concept. Batteries just don't recharge fast enough to allow for quick refueling. And there aren't enough locations to refuel when away from home. That'll change in the future, but what about today? I like the idea of having a little insurance under the hood, even if it adds 50lbs to the vehicle's weight.

Comment: Re:Qui Bono? (Score 1) 437

by toejam13 (#46030961) Attached to: You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

Looking at the smartphone market as a historical indicator, people may just publish cracks for free.

The first question is, does a consumer modified ECM violate the whole warranty for the car? If a side mirror falls off, does the manufacturer have to replace it? What if you modify the tuning of the engine and it throws a rod? There are a number of laws out there regarding aftermarket products for automobiles, but they tend to vary by locale.

Next question is, if you unlock a feature and bring the vehicle into a dealership for service, can the manufacturer sue you under a statute like the DMCA? Can they cancel your warranty? Can they do anything?

Last question is, how will they know? I might unlock a feature, reset it when I take it to the dealer, then unlock it again when I get home. Will cars start calling home via cellular networks? If so, will disabling or jamming the cellular modem be grounds for revoking your warranty?

I really dislike the trend of buying products but being restricted in how we can modify them. When warranties are involved, the manufacturer should have some say to prevent you from wrecking your car. But when they start throwing DMCA suits against you, that's when you know when it has gone too far.

Comment: Re:There's nothing that makes winamp great or uniq (Score 4, Interesting) 188

by toejam13 (#45960175) Attached to: Winamp Purchased By Radionomy

There was a time when Winamp mattered. There was no decent media players

And now there are dozens, with some that focus on audio, some that focus on video, some that handle both: Foobar2000, Songbird, VLC, Media Player Classic, XBMC, Windows Media Center, etc... You even have image viewers like XnView turning into video players. The lines have completely blurred as viewers and players have turned into multimedia centers.

The question is, which niche would Winamp try to fill? How could they differentiate themselves? The interface? Cataloging? Container support? Codec support? Streaming support? Subtitle support? Time shifting? Post processing? Song recognition? Speed? Size? Cross-platform support?

Comment: Re:No. (Score 3, Insightful) 213

by toejam13 (#45757039) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Can Commercial Hardware Routers Be Trusted?

If you are really concerned about security, you might very well want to roll your own machine, and certainly should run a fresh, clean linux install off a CD every time you start up, to reduce the chances your machine is compromised.

The next question is, what motherboard and network card firmwares can you trust? Running trusted code at the OS level and higher does reduce your risks, but until you can audit the code running your hardware, there is still a threat.

Obviously, one can ask if most companies are a big enough fish to worry about this. Firmware hacks are fairly sophisticated, which makes me believe that they'd mostly be used to spearfish data from specific companies. So unless there is hidden backdoor in every network card manufactured by Popular Company X, should we be worried?

Comment: Re:Mind blowing (Score 1) 179

by toejam13 (#45655317) Attached to: The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128

And while I did agree that a C65-like machine would have filled a gap in the market, that isn't what you were claiming originally; you were saying that a C65 would have rendered the low-end Amigas unnecessary.

Let me clarify: it might have reducing the pricing pressure that resulted in the low-end Amiga models that we actually received. The A500 and A600 would no longer have been Commodore's entry level computer models. And as such, with more upward flexibility in pricing, they could have had better specifications. In particular, the A600 might have come with a faster processor, more memory and a full keyboard.

But I doubt that it would have been as good as the Amiga if it had morphed, piece-by-piece into a 16-bit system, and I doubt that system would have worked out any cheaper than the Amiga 500 by the end of the decade if it was comparable in power to the latter.

Perhaps. But one reason why such a series would remain successful would due to software momentum. Remember, Commodore's super-budget computers were really popular in places like central Europe. If the Amiga doesn't have a large base of software written in Hungarian, but the 8-bit series did, do you think that they'd be more apt to purchase a used A500 or a new C512?

Remember, the PC-DOS market didn't survive because it was the best platform. It survived because it had a lot of programs you couldn't run on anything else.

Comment: Re:Mind blowing (Score 1) 179

by toejam13 (#45652223) Attached to: The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128

Having a vastly improved higher-end 8-bit machine would have been good in the mid-80s, but it would still have been utterly misguided to rely on it as a replacement for a mass-market 16/32-bit machine; they'd have been hammered at the end of the decade as people moved towards true 16-bit models.

The Commodore 64 was still selling well into the late '80s outside of Canada and the US. The Amiga 500 and its peripherals were simply too expensive for many people. So there was definitely a market for a cheap, entry-level home computer below the Amiga.

And there is a good chance that the Commodore 8-bit series, if it kept going, would have morphed into an 8/16-bit system like the Apple II series did with the IIgs. The 65816 definitely held its own against the 68000, with the '816 having more compact code and being more cycle efficient than the '000. Supposedly one reason Apple released the IIgs with only a 2.8MHz clock speed is because they didn't want it to undercut Macintosh sales. People who dropped an accelerator card into their IIgs reported that their systems would run circles around a stock Mac costing twice as much.

Comment: Re:Mind blowing (Score 1) 179

by toejam13 (#45651579) Attached to: The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128

the C64 itself had become the de facto successor to the Vic 20 anyway

In the US, Canada and Western Europe, yes. But the C16 did best in less affluent countries (did well in Mexico). The C116 was even able to penetrate the Iron Curtain, reportedly selling decently in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

Supposedly the C16 bombed in the United States and Canada, but I'm curious if Commodore just tried selling it side-by-side with the C64 or if they made any effort to focus sales in less affluent provinces, states and counties via discount retailers?

C64 compatibility *would* have ensured its success

And would have raised its BOM costs. Remember that TED in the C16 was like the VIC-I in that it handled both grfx and sfx. Also, both the C16 and Plus/4 lacked a CIA chip.

Comment: Re:This quote is great (Score 1) 179

by toejam13 (#45647975) Attached to: The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128

One theory behind the lack of C128 software was that the machine could run C64 software and that developers didn't bother writing software that most people couldn't run. Why write C128 software when you can write C64 software that can run on both new and old machines.

I'd argue that the main reason is that the C128 really didn't differentiate itself enough from the C64 to warrant its own custom port of an application. Outside of terminal emulators, word processors and some other business applications that took advantage of the VDC's new 80 column mode, it was basically a C64 with a built-in REU.

Keep in mind that the 8563 VDC was really meant for stuff like VT terminals and Unix servers (like the Commodore 900), not home computers. Commodore did a knee jerk and tried to turn the C128 into a computer for small offices.

Since most of the programs for the C64 were games, and since the C128 really didn't bring anything new to the table for game software, why bother?

Comment: Re:Mind blowing (Score 1) 179

by toejam13 (#45647635) Attached to: The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128

As others have mentioned, the Commodore 65 was not really feasible in 1985. In some ways, it was more advanced that the first generation of Amiga computers.

It would have been nice if the C128 was a bit more like the Apple IIgs, though. It came out a year after the C128 and was a nice little machine. The 65816 in the IIgs was a lot easier to program than the 8502 in the C128, both because it fixed many of the 6502/8502's quirks and because it made dealing with large amounts of memory easier.

It also would have been nice if the C128 actually came with a linear successor to the VIC-II. The 8563 was an alien bolt on chip in comparison to the VIC-II. Instead, bring in the 121 color palette from the 7360 TED, keep the VIC-II's sprite capabilities, quadruple the number of colors for each screen mode (16 for 160x200, 8 for 320x200) and then add a 640x200 mode. Bingo, 1985 edition of the VIC-III.

Lastly, they never should have included the Z80 chip. It just raised the BOM price too much. Would have been smarter to have released a separate Z80 add-on cartridge. Or better, a Z8000 add-on cartridge. Pop it in and boot up Coherent.

Comment: Re:Megahertz myth and the 6502 (Score 2) 179

by toejam13 (#45647359) Attached to: The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128

So that and the cost of it meant a lot of hobbyists used 6502s including one little company named after a fruit.

It appears that the architects of the 6502 wanted to design something cheap enough for embedded use, but powerful enough to get its foot into the door of the emerging microcomputer market. In fact, the 6502 had a lot of room for forward growth in the way that the opcodes were laid out.

The problem was that management at MOS (Commodore) really didn't seem to want to develop the 6502. So Bill Mench ran off and founded Western Design Center, which released a number of bugfixed and enhanced 6502 processors such as the 65C02 and 65816. Commodore just kept kicking the same design down the road.

Commodore finally released a redesign of the 6502 in the early '90s with the 65CE02. It fixed almost every problem with the 6502 - no penalties for crossing page boundaries, no page wraps, dead cycles were eliminated, could relocate the zero page and stack page, 16-bit relative jumps, and so on. It was a really, really good chip in many ways. But it was overkill for the embedded market and was underpowered for the microcomputer market. Had it come a few years earlier and had it come with a wider data and address bus like the WDC65816, it might have cleaned up in the entry microcomputer market.

Comment: Re:Mind blowing (Score 1) 179

by toejam13 (#45647251) Attached to: The Real Story of Hacking Together the Commodore C128

While they probably did too many overlapping things at once, it's only fair to point out that the apparently pointless introduction of a new, C64-incompatible architecture for the C16, C116 and Plus/4 family did supposedly start out for sensible reasons. According to the WP article [wikipedia.org], Jack Tramiel was paranoid that (as they'd done in many other industries), the Japanese would swoop in and undercut everyone with ultra-cheap consumer-oriented machines.

The C16 family was a good idea gone bad. Ideally, they should have released the C16 as a compatible successor to the VIC20. The Plus/4, being too close to the C64 in specs, never should have been released. And the C116 should have been restricted to emerging overseas markets (read: Eastern Europe, South America).

Sometimes having too many choices can be a bad thing. Apple learned that in the mid '90s with the Macintosh. They just had too many models with none really standing out.

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