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Submission + - Using Apple's Metal Compute Shaders for Parallel Processing in iOS

An anonymous reader writes: Apple's Metal is a new technology that gives developers low overhead access to the GPU via a C++ style language. As well as the commonly used vertex and fragment shaders, Metal supports compute shaders for parallel processing.

In a series of two blog posts (here and here), Simon Gladman demonstrates how to implement Metal compute shaders under Swift and then run a reaction diffusion model using cellular automata on an iPhone.

Comment Re:Conflict of Interest May Be Simple FUD (Score 1) 269

You may have more current info than I do; I'm not trying to be manipulative. I'll admit I have a bit of trouble keeping up but I think there are close to 35 known tablets announced for ARM Based, Atom Based, Ivy Bridge Based, and Haswell Based tablets.

* Windows RT Tablets based on ARM chips - downside: zero backward compatibility

* Windows 8 Atom Based tablets - downside: used today in low cost / low performance mobile products

* Windows 8 Ivy Bridge Core i5 Based tablets released in Preview already to developers - downside: high performance but eats power and has required active cooling.

* Windows 8 Pro Haswell Based tablets - downside: won't be ready until approximately 90 days after October 26 release of other Win 8 products.

The disastrous situation for Intel is if people give up on Windows 8 before Haswell is on the market in products like Microsoft's Windows 8 prototypical Surface Pro product. Lowering expectations of the market that "Yes, there are bugs in this software" and "No, it may not be completely intuitive to transition to."

It does seem Otellini might be trying to alter people's Win 8 expectations with FUD. Not to "sabotage" Windows 8 reception (on Intel chips at least), but to give it some breathing room until they can bring their A-game to market.

But I must admit, I have a hard time keeping up with the half-announcements and turnabout-changes to the announced products, prices, and schedules of release.

Comment Conflict of Interest May Be Simple FUD (Score 1, Interesting) 269

Windows 8 Tablets with Intel processors will not arrive this year, unlike the ARM-based RT tablets due to surface before this year's holiday purchase season.

The marketing fire for Windows 8 will hotly blaze but most of the focus will be its advantage as a touch based tablet interface. You won't see the Today show demoing a mouse based computer for the masses.

Perhaps Otellini doesn't want market interest to be piqued until Intel tablets can benefit? Perhaps he's just positioning any teething pains of moving to this new OS to be blamed on the ARM cores? Certainly Intel doesn't lose the business of folks who choose to stick with mouse based Windows while biding their time.

I have no doubt there will be plenty of teething pains with Windows 8 (a major GUI inert ace change affects both user expectations and code integrity), but just remember that Intel has gains to be made by casting FUD around the early, non-Intel tablet release of Windows 8, too.

Comment Recover phones or Track criminals? (Score 1) 155

Is the goal to get your cell phone back, or is it to make a database of criminals to track?

"Find my iPhone" led to big drug busts sometimes when stupid thieves nicked an iPad. Now that we can't use gps tracking devices on suspects, how can a big brother keep track of criminals efficiently.

My expectation: phone recoveries will not go up, but phone thefts will go down. The IQ of thieves arrested for phone theft will go down as well.

Comment Humor Helps (Score 1) 714

Only one time have I ever been asked directly "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ?" to which I replied, "Yes, and I think he's just told me this job is the wrong fit for me." (No, I don't have a relationship with Jesus nor would I be comfortable working in an office where it was expected).

But other than that one time, Questions about my religion and sex life aren't things which are directly asked. But they do come up indirectly. I'm sometimes asked questions about "what do you do to relax away from the office?" I actually think this is a valid line of questioning since folks who have no lives outside of work may be better or worse suited for certain types of job pressures.

So I don't get offended when asked "how do you spend your Sundays?" But I respond with a (hopefully slightly uncomfortable) answer like "perusing the Vestal virgins of ancient Rome, or whatever ebook I happen to be plowing through this week." in other words humorously pointing out that the question is out of line.

When asked about what would be involved in relocating my family for the job (which I suspect was a way to fish out the answer about whether I was single, married, gay, etc) I responded "Oh, do you have Queen sized cubicles?" after a brief laugh, I suggested we stick to the subject of deciding whether I was right for the job and the job was right for me before pulling in any more complications.

In general, I think humorously pointing out that the question is out of line leaves both of us comfortable enough to keep going with the interview.

Comment Upcoming consequences (Score 3, Interesting) 139

As an American, I'm glad to see foreign courts aren't completely acquiescing to the same "moral imperatives" our politicians and intellectual property owners demand we submit to.

As an epileptic, I'm dreading all the "clever" headline puns describing Kim Dotcom's "seizure disorder".

As a geek, I can't wait to debate whether the it should have instead been ruled NIL, as well as NULL and VOID.

Comment Re:You've been played by Apple and Foxconn (Score 1) 326

Listen to the whole episode. They clearly do NOT give Apple a pass due to Mike Daisey's lies. The entire third part of the episode is an interview with one of the New York Times reporters who did the Apple unfair labor practices exposé. They talk about things being in two buckets:

Bucket 1: the common 60 hours per work week violation which some employees voluntarily try to break (to get more money) yet some feel coerced to take (feeling that they might be fired).

Bucket 2: the very infrequent but incredibly disasterous situations (the n-hexane poisoning, the aluminum dust explosions).

Mike's worst problem was lying to make it sound as if "bucket 2" problems were everyday events you could see as a businessman tourist on a three day visit. Fixing the out-of-the-ordinary problems requires redesigning the process and owning up to the consequences of the mistakes when the disasters happen. These small-scale by hugely disasterous problems were already getting some attention without Mike Daisey's spotlight pretending he'd run into workers with claw like hands or uncontrollably shaking workers.

But fixing the common over-hours "bucket 1" problems are where the most good would be done for the most people most quickly. and in many was Mike takes the focus off of that problem. Indeed, even though it's a settled question over here in America, some Americans wish they could work extra hours at their work to get more money, and see these arbitrary "no more than x hours work per week" as arbitrary as long as the labor is voluntary. It's not nearly as resonant as lying that you've found a 13-year-old working in a plant watched by gun toting guards.

The story tries to decide whether you should feel guilty about having an iPhone or not. (they don't come to a decision).

But they end with a more fundamental question: when America decided using "bucket 1" labor practices were immoral enough to outlaw here, are we Americans wrong to export those problems to other labor markets who have not drawn the same conclusion about bucket 1 problems?

It doesn't draw a conclusion but when I heard it, I came away thinking if any company in the world could even start to address the largely ignored bucket 1 problems, the richest and biggest one should be leading the way.

Comment Re:Isn't That Defamation? (Score 1) 326

A defamation lawsuit against Mike Daisey is unlikely to happen. Mike doesn't have enough money to make it worthwhile. He's been exposed as lacking journalistic credibility. And any moral response to the China labor problem is already being addressed through Tim Cook's third party audits. There's nothing more for Apple to gain, the only thing that could happen is that Apple could look like a bully.

This American Life or Public Radio International is more likely to sue, but that would likely be based on whatever contract they signed with Mike Daisey rather than on defamation.

Comment You may disagree... (Score 1) 326

But having listened to the episode, I think This American Life did a very good job with their retraction.

Foremost, they took blame for letting it on the air when one big red flag should have stopped them (my translator's name is actually Anna, and I can't reach her anymore).

Second, they presented the facts that the translator said didn't happen and the Marketplace reporter said were extremely unlikely to happen, but they never said outright "these are lies". They said "we no longer believe him and we are fully retracting our most popular episode, but you can draw your own conclusions".

Third, they interviewed Mr. Daisey and his long pauses, nervous voice, and double-speak make me feel very sure that whatever definition of truth he uses doesn't match my definition of truth. All the personality of the big problems he found (workers with hands shaking so bad they couldn't hold a glass, 13year olds speaking English, workers at gunpoint, claw-hand man saying the iPad is magic) is bullshit. And since it wasa his examples that humanized the story for me, that is why I am so pissed at Mr. Daisey.

Last and most importantly though, This American Life did not let Apple off the hook due to this mini-scandal. This modern Upton Sinclair was muckraking about problems he didn't actually find, but it has drawn legitimate attention to the problems which others (including Apple) say arer there. The last segment in the show is talking with a NYTimes reporter about what we know about Apple's China Labor abuses; there are clearly still reasons to be concerned. This American Life doesn't retract and apologize so profusely that they undermine the observation that Chinese labor is a concern. They responsibly say that we thought we had someone who could humanize what these labor abuses are like, and we were wrong. This is a real problem though, just not one in our domain of humanizing illustrative stories.

Hell, even Woz himself has now said that he appreciates Mike Daisey for opening his own eyes to the abuses even though they are fiction. The retraction episode of this American Life is definitely worth a listen for an example of a classy way to retract your sources without undermining the focus on the real problem (e.g. Dan Rather's memo over George Bush's "military" service record).

Comment CNet App Store (Score 1) 397

The sortware they are bundling is an updater / tracking installer right?

I'm guessing they saw the success of the OS bundled app store, and the rumors of the Windows 8 app store and realized the writing is on the wall for the "go to ad laden 3rd party website" download model they have.

Legally I think they completely messed up by adding these installer wrappers, but you can bet it will happen again and from download sites other than cnet. Time to nip this practice in the bud; it will grow like kudzu.

Comment Re:FUD redundant? (Score 1) 282

In the context of FUD, Uncertainty and Doubt to be the same thing, but aimed at different time periods. You are uncertain about the future, and you are Doubtful about what you've already invested in the past.

Example (completely made up): "Coming soon, Microsoft's new server software will cheaply make all your Linux server farms obsolete."

* You fear the consequences of making a wrong decision -- "Wake up! You have something to lose here!"

* You become uncertain about the assumptions you have made. -- "The future outlook is more cloudy than you thought! Don't keep doing what you've always done."

* You start doubting whether your previous decisions were correct -- "Was your past invenstment of time / money wisely spent? Prepare to cut your losses!"

I'm not sure the FSF's GPLv2 and GPLv3 stance qualifies as FUD; unlike computer equipment or software buying decisions, the world of legal precedents can change what you did in the past even if you didn't change anything. It's quasi-timeless in a way normal people don't intuitively understand. But if we were talking about buying a new copy of Windows for old hardware, then yes, it was said in a FUD like way.

Comment Re:Three Horse Race (Score 1) 269

Don't get me wrong. I have a Mac and use Lion (just as I have a Honeycomb tablet, Linux box, and Windows server; part of staying current in Tech is not being blind to trends and competition).

Lion could get iOS users to DEMAND Macs for the desktop either by improving the software (adapting iOS to the desktop) or by improving the hardware (getting touch input on the Mac itself). Neither of those seem likely to arrive in 6 months, but both are more likely after 1 or 2 years of refreshes.

Under the hood, Lion's API changes and deprecations are big evidence Apple wants iOS and OS X to become one. What isn't certain is whether the User Interface will ever be unified between mobile and desktop as Microsoft is doing. All that's certain is that Apple isn't happy with the current state of things.

Right now, I really love the three finger swiping with Mission Control, and the scroll bars don't bother me. But Lion still has a big mental burden for me that wasn't there in Snow Leopard (and isn't there in Ubuntu or Windows). That will either go away with practice on the my part, changes with the OS, or ergonomic changes to the hardware.

What would be bad would be if compromises come to iOS devices to accommodate unification with the desktop. An unlikely example would be some kind of folder based file system like Mac OS Finder on iOS. That's unlikely, but there are plenty of other compromises that would make iOS fundamentally worse. Features add complexity and there will need to be many features added for a unified platform.

I can't see where Apple is really headed, but this has potential to be a massive win for Apple's platforms or a disasterous choice. We'll see what happens in one or two years.

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