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Comment Re:PCjr and the Crash (Score 2) 178

Doubt it. There were a handful of decent games provided on cartridge from Imagic and some games that took advantage of PCjr specific video or sound, like Kings Quest and MS Flight Simulator. That level of interest does not indicate an entire industry was hoodwinked.

Spinaker's educational games for pre-schoolers were terrible and they deserved to go out of business on their own merits. ;-0


Comment Re:Cell Failed (Score 3, Informative) 276

I don't remember hearing about low yield problems. Sony took delivery of quite a few chips ...

No, to be quite blunt a big part of the problem was a lack of vision. Without a roadmap nobody was going to use to product. IBM stumbled when it did not backup the roadmap with real dollars to fund the new chips and programming tools.

Comment Re:Cell Failed (Score 5, Interesting) 276

Disclaimer: I used to teach Cell programming classes for people who were looking to do HPC on the blades.

Cell failed. But the reasons behind the failure are more interesting.

The obvious answer is that it was hard to program. On a single chip you had the PowerPC processor and 8 SPUs. Communication was through mailboxes for small messages and DMA transfers for larger messages. To get the most out of a chip you had to juggle all 9 processor elements at the same time, try to vectorize all of your ops, and keep the memory moving while you were doing computation. That is the recipe for success for most architectures - keeping everything as utilized as possible. But it is also hard to do on most architectures, and the embedded nature of Cell made it that much more difficult.

There were better software tools in the works for people who didn't want to drop down to the SPU intrinsic level to program. There were better chips in the works too; more SPUs, stronger PowerPC cores, and better communications with main memory. Those things did not come to fruition because IBM was looking to cut expenses to keep profits high (instead of boosting revenue). The Cell project was killed when a new VP known for cost cutting came in. We finally had a good Cell blade to sell (QS22 - two chips, 32GB RAM, fully pipelined double precision, etc.) and that lasted four months before the project got whacked. And we lost a lot of good people as a result. (That VP, Bob Moffat, was part of the Galleon insider trading scandal.)

So yes, Cell failed. But not necessarily for the obvious reasons. IBM has been on a great cost cutting binge the past few years - it lets them meet their earnings per share targets. But it causes collateral damage.

Comment (Free)DOS can still be relevant ... (Score 5, Informative) 266

DOS and FreeDOS are still relevant in some niche areas:

- Turn-key and embedded hardware often use DOS
- Retro-computing: Some of us like dragging out our old hardware to play with it
- Learning to code closer to the metal; DOS gives you enough services to get you going, while giving you a feel for embedded programming

FreeDOS runs on almost everything from an original IBM PC (1981) to a virtual machine under VMWare and VirtualBox. People (hobbyists) are continuing to work on the utilities to keep it refreshed. For example, in the last year there was a new set of TCP/IP programs added, a utility for sharing folders with a VMWare host, and a new web browser based on Dillo.

It's not for everyone, but if you are curious check it out - it's pretty painless to run in a VM. (Or you can drag out your XT or Pentium 90 for the full effect.)


Feeling Upset? Look At Some Meat 155

Meshach writes "A study out of Canada claims that seeing meat actually calms a person down. From the article: 'Contrary to expectations, a McGill University researcher has discovered that seeing meat makes people significantly less aggressive. Frank Kachanoff, who studies evolution at the university’s department of psychology, had initially thought the presence of meat would provoke bloodlust, believing the response would have helped our primate ancestors hunt. But in fact, his research showed the reverse is true.'" I can see all the "Make Steak, Not War!" protest signs already.
The Military

Russian Army Upgrades Its Inflatable Weapons 197

jamax writes "According to the BBC: 'The Russian military has come up with an inventive way to deceive the enemy and save money at the same time: inflatable weapons. They look just like real ones: they are easy to transport and quick to deploy. You name it, the Russian army is blowing it up: from pretend tanks to entire radar stations.' But the interesting thing is these decoys are not dumb - actually they appear to be highly advanced for what I thought was a WWII-grade aerial photography countermeasures. Apparently they have heat signatures comparable with the military tech they represent, as well as the same radar signature."
The Internet

Destroy Entire Websites With Asteroids Bookmarklet 65

An anonymous reader writes "Have you ever visited a website and been so frustrated by the content, layout, or adverts that you'd love to destroy it? Well, now you can. If you head on over to the erkie GitHub page there's a JavaScript bookmarklet you can drag and add to your bookmarks toolbar. Then just visit any website and click the bookmarklet. An Asteroids-style ship should appear that you can move around with the arrow keys. Press space and it will start firing bullets which destroy page content."

The White House Listed On Real Estate Website 123

Forget visiting the White House, if you have $10 million you can own it. At least that is the price for the president's home on the real estate website Redfin. From the article: "Obviously this is an error. It looks like Redfin software pulled an example listing from the website by mistake. That example listing was the White House. We have e-mailed Redfin for comment." I know it's historic but it still looks a bit on the high side according to the comparables in the area.
PlayStation (Games)

US Air Force To Suffer From PS3 Update 349

tlhIngan writes "The US Air Force, having purchased PS3s for supercomputing research, is now the latest victim of Sony's removal of the Install Other OS feature. It turns out that while their PS3s don't need the firmware update, it will be impossible to replace PS3s that fail. PS3s with the Other OS feature are no longer produced since the Slim was introduced, so replacements will have to come from the existing stock of used PS3s. However, as most gamers have probably updated their PS3s, that used stock is no longer suitable for the USAF's research. In addition, smaller educational clusters using PS3s will share the same fate — unable to replace machines that die in their clusters." In related news, Sony has been hit with two more lawsuits over this issue.
United States

State Senator Caught Looking At Porn On Senate Floor 574

Everyone knows how boring a debate on a controversial abortion bill can get on the Senate floor. So it's no wonder that Florida State Sen. Mike Bennett took the time to look at a little porn and a video of a dog running out of the water and shaking itself off. From the article: "Ironically, as Bennett is viewing the material, you can hear a Senator Dan Gelber's voice in the background debating a controversial abortion bill. 'I'm against this bill,' said Gelber, 'because it disrespects too many women in the state of Florida.' Bennett defended his actions, telling Sunshine State News it was an email sent to him by a woman 'who happens to be a former court administrator.'"
Open Source

Open Source Developer Knighted 101

unixfan writes "Georg Greve, developer of Open Document Format and active FOSS developer, has received a knighthood in Germany for his work. From the article: 'Some weeks ago I received news that the embassy in Berne had unsuccessfully been trying to contact me under FSFE's old office address in Zurich. This was a bit odd and unexpected. So you can probably understand my surprise to be told by the embassy upon contacting them that on 18 December 2009 I had been awarded the Cross of Merit on ribbon (Verdienstkreuz am Bande) by the Federal Republic of Germany. As you might expect, my first reaction was one of disbelief. I was, in fact, rather shaken. You could also say shocked. Quick Wikipedia research revealed this to be part of the orders of knighthood, making this a Knight's Cross.'"

College To Save Money By Switching Email Font 306

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has come up with an unusual way of saving money: changing their email font. The school expects to use 30% less ink by switching from Arial to Century Gothic. From the article: "Diane Blohowiak is the school's director of computing. She says the new font uses about 30 percent less ink than the previous one. That could add up to real savings, since the cost of printer ink works out to about $10,000 per gallon. Blohowiak says the decision is part of the school's five-year plan to go green. She tells Wisconsin Public Radio it's great that a change that's eco-friendly also saves money."

Mississippi Makes Caller ID Spoofing Illegal 258

marklyon writes "HB 872, recently signed into law by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, makes Caller ID spoofing illegal. The law covers alterations to the caller's name, telephone number, or name and telephone number that is shown to a recipient of a call or otherwise presented to the network. The law applies to PSTN, wireless and VoIP calls. Penalties for each violation can be up to $1,000 and one year in jail. Blocking of caller identification information is still permitted."

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