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Comment Re:Atari (Score 4, Informative) 25

Like all 8-bit home computer vendors, they made their own audio and graphics ASIC chips. Sound programming consisted of variants of ADSR (Attack Decay Sustain Release) programming which was replaced with industry standard MIDI with the Atari ST. Graphics programming was based on different text and pixel video modes and player missile graphics/sprite programming. Text modes allowed characters of single/double/half character widths, and double/regular heights. Pixel modes were between 1, 2 and four bits per pixel. The added boost was with player-missile graphics which was an extension of the 2600 console and sprite programming (similar to the Commodore 64 and TI-99/4A). You programmed in little pixelmap images then set registers to position them. Add some extra code to automatically update their positions and you had animation with a very simply physics engine (velocity, acceleration, collision detection). Some video modes supported 16-colors (rainbow or various shades of a particular color). Some programmers developed an APAC mode (any pixel any color) where two video frames are used to pick two different standard colors for each pixel to make a new pixel color. - effectively 24-bit color).

De Re Atari was considered the holy book on programming.

They had their own trackball, light pen and graphics tablet controllers, but didn't include an RS232 interface - that came as an extra podule that plugged in through the serial bus. Other home computer systems had these as standard, so you could use generic dot-matrix printers, modems and frame grabbers.

This was a brief period of time in the industry where international standards/methods were too expensive silicon wise, so everyone tried clever hardware design techniques for IO, graphics and sound.

Comment Re:Might be easier to fix bees (Score 1) 130

In the UK, they were used for rape seed fields - giant fields full of bright yellow flowers. Just driving along the road, and the air would smell oily/greasy. Even back in the 1990's, farmers noticed that these fields would make the large bees slow and dozy as they flew along. On a double decker bus, I would seen them being squished on the windows. Sometimes I see them crawling along the ground. Never sure whether it was just old age, exhaustion or something parasitic - their wings would seem to be dark brown rather than clear transparent.

Comment Re:An experiment, can we agree on criteria? (Score 1) 723

If you are unemployed because of a lack of skills, then a maintenance wage which simply covers food and rent would be enough. You need more money to buy equipment, take retraining courses. Or even relocate - which can sometimes involve weeks in a hotel while you look for somewhere to rent.

Comment Re: A more basic question (Score 1) 723

That's the same situation in many countries including the UK. That's not simply the fault of the unemployed - they would do whatever it takes to earn the maximum amount of money. With the farm industry, we've got international workers willing to live full-time on on-site dormitories. They earn £15/hour but pay half that for a bunk bed. A local worker with a family want their own house. That requires at least £25/hour to pay for a car, utiities and heating. Home owners also want to keep the value of their homes up, so don't want massive housing developments that will fill up with neighbors-from-hell. That keeps the cost of housing up, so that a minimum wage job won't cover the cost of home ownership.

Comment Re:Backup and Syncing (Score 1) 29

When you upgrade your Firefox web browser, the old cache directories still remain there in .mozilla/firefox/*.defaulted.

Law enforcement have always been pushing for Internet usage and browser histories to be archived. Remember the fuss over various Windows media players sending back lists of movies watched.

Comment Re:They're missing the point. (Score 2) 75

The problem is that there are so many commuters traveling by train into and out of London that they try and get the load spread through off-peak hours through pricing. And people are commuting from outside of London because of the problems of gang crime and that housing in safe areas is unaffordable - much of the brownfield sites are having huge apartment developments which are simply sold off to international investors in the Far East and Russia

So if you try and take a train from Liverpool (West Coast) at 8am to Folkestone (East Coast, through London) at 3pm, they figure "oh, you are going through London at peak hours, we better charge you". They tried to charge me around £800 because my journey was at peak times and went through London. I did a ticket split and reduced the price down to just over £200 (which is more than a return ticket to New York in the USA).

In other parts of the country like Portsmouth, the train station is actually partially over water as it is right next to a ferry terminal. If you take the ferry to the train station, then there is exactly one ticket machine between the platforms and the ferry terminal exits. Sometimes there are only minutes between getting up the exit ramps and your train departing. There simply isn't time to wait 10 in line in a queue to book a ticket. A monthly season pass is the best bet.

At other stations the biggest holdup is the ticket inspectors who close the barriers at rush hour and try and inspect each ticket individually. On the Isle of Wight you can pay for a ticket while on the train. On the mainland it's a criminal offense not to have paid for a ticket before getting on board a train.

Comment Re:Maybe train the American kid first (Score 1) 660

It's true what you say about Windows 7 and 10 :) I've also had to dump various Linux distro's because the UI backgrounds were so annoying (hand draw crayon pictures don't feel "technical" enough for me). Tried installing the old SGI GUI system and it looks so dated now.

I remember the days of university reading BYTE magazine (1980's - 1990's) and 8-bit/16-bit home computers. Seeing what systems like Amiga and Atari could do (and all the others), while desktop PC's were stuck with CGA graphics. Though PC's did move forward with 16-color EGA, 256-color VGA, 24-bit color SVGA, SXVGA, pixblitter cards and Intel processors going from the 16-bit 8086 to the 80386, Pentium, 80486 (with a built in floating coprocessor), multimedia instructions. Around 2000, all the innovation started moving in graphics accelerator boards (or GPU's). First fully hardware accelerated graphics pipeline, programmable pipelines, high level shading languages. Around 2005, was the time PCI bus architecture changed, and it was time for everyone to buy new motherboards with SLI/Crossfire. Consumer CPU's were starting to go multi-core along with hyper-threading.

Now high-end gaming CPU's have 10 overclocked 4GHz cores, 3D monitors and 4K displays. But keyboards, mice, graphics tablets, monitors, hard disk drives, DVD/CD players are all the same as they were a decade ago. Vendors of motherboards like Supermicro and ASUS offer systems which have dual Xeon socket CPUs with quad Crossfire/SLI and hundreds of Gigabytes of RAM memory. But a quad-socket CPU like the Intel E5-4669 costs around $7000. Xeon Phi's and Knights Landing are slightly cheaper,

Comment Re:Maybe train the American kid first (Score 1) 660

Four years is way too long for a university course in computer technology. Just compare the technology between any four years in the past forty years. By the time you finish, the technology is completely different from when you started. Between 2002 and 2006, Crossfire/SLI systems appeared when the video bus slots changed. Then smartphones and tablets emerged. Now you can build what would be considered a supercomputer by 1990's standards from second hand parts.

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