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Comment Re:So tablets at PCs now? (Score 1) 577

I generally agree on your definition, but this is about sales, and so we can't go around and count how many people did or are going to put a programming language on their tablet or phone. (And how was anybody to know if I was going to put a programming language on that heap of parts I got from NewEgg last week?) I'd consider whether it was reasonably feasible for a programmer to put a programming language on a computer, rather than what it is when it ships.

As somebody who used to pay a good deal of money for compilers for his personal computers, I'm going to argue that having to spend a few hundred dollars to program on something doesn't make it not a PC. Therefore, I consider the iPad to be as much a PC as my Nexus 7, because the capability is there.

And Apple does not forbid iDevices from doing things. Apple forbids certain things from the App Store. If you jailbreak your iDevice or get a developer's license (and a Mac if you don't already have one), you can do lots of things on it that Apple didn't intend.

Comment Re:What PC should mean. (Score 1) 577

Those devices weren't cutting edge technology as far as computers in general were. When I got my TRS-80, I was programming a CDC Cyber at work. I could (if I could have afforded it) bought a personal minicomputer from DEC, also lots more powerful. Nowadays, of course, a high-end Intel/AMD CPU is cutting edge by any standard.

So, you can either think that we're talking about cutting edge for the form factor (and the Z80 in my TRS-80 was that), and then the ARM chips in modern tablets are cutting edge, or you can talk about cutting edge for the industry as a whole, and consider nothing a PC before the obsolescence of minicomputers.

Now tell me what I could do on my TRS-80 that I can't do on my Nexus 7. I can put Python on the 7, and that beats Level II BASIC by a big margin. I can do as much word processing, particularly if I get me a bluetooth keyboard. I can work with much more powerful spreadsheets than early Visicalc, and responding to an email is easier than calling up with the old acoustic coupler. Assuming I do get a bluetooth keyboard, in what way was my TRS-80 better?

Comment Re:iTrinkets refuse to run these application class (Score 1) 577

No, they aren't specialized to refuse to run certain categories of apps. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from getting the SDK and developer's license (and a Mac if you don't already have one), and putting those apps on. I've had personal computers that didn't come with free development environments, and this is the same thing.

What Apple permits on the App Store has nothing to do with what the device is capable of.

Comment Re:So tablets at PCs now? (Score 1) 577

'General purpose computer' is the key statement there. General purpose implies programable BY THE USER.

I rather like this definition. I'd extend it to mean that the user can, given knowledge, skill, and reasonable outlay, program the device on itself. (If it can't be programming on, it isn't general purpose.)

Without the "reasonable outlay", you're excluding the earlier Macintoshes. To program them, you bought Macintosh Programmer's Workshop from Apple. (Even when MPW was free, most people would lay out cash for Metrowerks Codewarrior.) I'd consider "has a Mac and is willing to spend $99 on a developer's license" reasonable considering what I've spent for hobby compilers in the past. Moreover, an increasing number of people already have Macs.

You could easily throw a Python interpreter onto a modern tablet or smartphone, connect it to a text editor, and it'd be general purpose. (For iOS, it costs a bit more. I don't think Apple will let such a system into the App Store, so you'd have to have a Mac and a developer's license to do that.) It might be a pain to use, but I never did get used to MPW.

I'm not at all sure you could do that on a game console. AFAIK, they tend not to pass out SDKs to just anybody. Similarly, the Nook Tablet isn't a PC because Barnes & Noble requires you to apply for a development kit, and show experience in app development.

Comment Re:Only over my dead body (Score 1) 240

I suspect Antivirus/anti-spyware companies (smaller ones, foreign ones) will provide methods of de-installing the spyware.

That's what I would have thought before the Sony rootkit. AFAIK, nobody's anti-malware software caught it, and that was deliberate on the part of the AV people. (In other words, they screwed the cash customers.) Currently, I'm not nearly so sure.

Comment Re:Obvious, Novel, and Prior Art aren't just digit (Score 1) 240

Um, no. The idea of a digital shopping cart is obvious, but the implementation is very different. Since a patent is supposed to cover implementations rather than general ideas (in theory, anyway), a shopping cart implementation is potentially patentable.

Nor are things not patentable if somebody's going to do it sometime. Lots of things are inevitable, but the first to do it gets the patent.

And, yes, patenting an entire store concept isn't what patents are supposed to be about. That is a problem with the current patent system.

Comment Re:GW solution (Score 1) 264

No, because we're talking about a planetary scale here. When we make ice, we're using energy to suck heat out of the water, and that heat has to go somewhere. Making ice warms the planet, net. It's possible to make ice in one place, make that place hotter, and dump ice next to a reactor intake. The only way that would work would be if we could get ice from space - conceivable, but the execution would be real tricky.

Comment Re:Simply put... No. (Score 2) 589

They had another V1/V2 countermeasure.

The Germans had no direct way of knowing where each missile hit. They could rely on their calculations, which were not going to be reliable in predicting the impact site, or gather information on impacts from what intelligence they could access.

Therefore, by working with the newspapers, reporting V-weapon attacks, they reported impact zones significantly different from the real ones, to pull German aim from London to the countryside.

Comment Re:iterative innovation (Score 1) 417

The transistor was a fundamental invention, okay, but in the 1960s the visible impact was small radios. Sure, computers used ICs, but computers weren't all that important to daily living. They were commercial infrastructure and research tools, nothing more.

The laser was a fundamental invention. For quite a few years, it was a lab instrument only, useful in doing some research. Holograms were a neat thing, and if you could get access to the right sort of lab you could see one yourself.

There have been a fair number of things invented recently that have no current commercial use. That doesn't mean none of them will be seen as groundbreaking around 2030 or so.

It's also possible to create new things without fundamental inventions. There's a device in my shirt pocket that really has nothing fundamentally new in it (materials are better, the battery is a new sort but still just a battery, some of the manufacturing techniques are revolutionary, that's all), and it accesses a system that's a scaled-up version of stuff we had decades ago. It gives me fast access to a tremendous amount of the world's knowledge, and that is a fundamental change.

Comment Re:The USPTO is holding roundtables (Score 1) 211

Sure, you can express any program mathematically. In doing so, you're going to lose concerns like performance (in other than the O() notation; and that doesn't necessarily hold; expressing a program as a Turing machine can increase the time complexity noticeably), maintainability, reliability, accuracy, and other things. Moreover, a program is easier to understand as a program than the equivalent mathematics.

Similarly, you can express a machine with the laws of physics. In doing so, you lose concerns like ease of manufacture, reliability, accuracy, etc. It's also easier to understand one as a machine than as laws of physics.

Software is to computer science as machines are to physics.

Comment Re:Great.... (Score 1) 272

You do realize that at least 99.99% of potential customers would have absolutely no use for that information, I hope. Is it your contention that Apple store employees should be able to answer any product question that could come up out of ten or a hundred thousand customers? Or are you simply saying that your questions are more important than those of the other 9,999 or more customers? I a geek, and I know what most of your questions mean (I'm really fuzzy about this "audio driver impedance" thing), but I don't care about any of them.

There are several things you can do. You can see if you can find specs on Apple's website. You can probably ask questions on an Apple support site. You can hit Google and see if any other person has found out the information, because the Net in general and Google in specific are very good at allowing one-in-a-millions to get together. You can bring your own headphones and ask to listen to the audio output. If you can't judge the audio from listening to it, it really can't make that much difference.

You are going to be disappointed if you think that the world should wrap itself around you, or your point of view. Accept that you have unusual information needs that don't concern anybody else who's been in that Apple store this year, and don't expect people to know exactly what you want them to.

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