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* Posts by ThomH

2504 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

ThomH
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Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law. @pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

So your argument is: Google's alleged placing of terms into its contract to effect penalties if the other side ships anything that competes with a Google products is not "clearly" anticompetitive? And that the main reason anybody here might think a legally-enforceable contractual term that prohibited competition was anticompetitive... is pro-EU bias?

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Re: what about Apple?

Because none of that is contrary to competition law.

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Re: Fining someone for 'breaking' unclear law.

Per the article, Google to phone manufacturers: "if you try to market even a single FireOS phone, we will withdraw your licence to ship fully-functioning Android phones".

Your definition of what is and isn't "clearly a violation of anti-trust rules" must vary from mine.

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@Julian 8

Show us where Microsoft is threatening to withdraw the availability of Windows to any manufacturer that dares to ship a Chromebook and it'll be equivalent behaviour.

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Re: Choice on Apple? @tiggity

Competition law protects markets from distortion, for the benefit of consumers.

So a company with only a small slice of a market can do whatever it wants, because it does not strongly influence market.

When the company with 90% of a market prevents manufacturers from considering diversification, that's textbook anticompetitive behaviour, and it should be obvious why that's a substantial detriment to consumers.

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Re: Meh ... (@David 164)

From the article, Vestager said:

[Google] dominates licensable mobile operating systems ("over 95 per cent"), app stores ("over 90 per cent") and mobile search ("over 90 per cent in most European countries").

iOS is relevant to exactly one of those categories, and 90% is the correct number if you're factoring in iOS. Further:

The commission objected to three practices in particular: the requirement to preinstall Google Search and Chrome, payments to phone makers to make Google Search the default, and restrictions on creating "forks" of Android.

...

[Vestager] said manufacturers were interested in licensing Amazon's FireOS Android. But by making even one FireOS phone, the OEM would have lost the ability to include Google Play Store on its other devices.

The allegation is that Google's 90+% of phones mean that the anticompetitive terms it imposes on other companies — e.g. barring them from including Google Play if they offer any product featuring FireOS — is an illegal distortion of the market.

Do despite the appeal of bad-guys-on-both-sides whataboutism, I really think Apple's contribution has already been factored in here.

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I think the objective — realistic or otherwise — is more to replace an ecosystem controlled by Google with two ecosystems that are only half the size, one controlled by Google and one by Amazon, each working to try to persuade users to switch camps.

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Apple gives MacBook Pro keyboard rubber pants

ThomH
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Re: Maybe so

Yeah, it seems odd to me to focus on the SSD. The trend in soldered batteries is more a concern to me; that's the only part of a laptop I've ever replaced.

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They grow up so fast: Spam magnet Hotmail turned 22 today

ThomH
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Re: Useful in a willy waggling competition

I've got both <myrealname>@gmail.com and <myrealname>@outlook.com; you'd be amazed at how many other people think they do also. Most recently: one of my Irish namesakes filed their Form 12 tax return, apparently.

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Relive your misspent, 8-bit youth on the BBC's reopened Micro archive

ThomH
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Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs was still one of the favoured introductory textbooks when I got to university at the turn of the millennium. I took a Scala course a few years ago and thought I was doing really well until I realised that all of the problem questions were just direct adaptations of SICP originals so I'm not sure I was coming up with solutions so much as regurgitating them from some deep recess of my memory with different syntax.

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Re: Coding inspiration

... and it took me a while to find but Elite's source was transcribed to C and made available for then-modern platforms back at the turn of the millennium by Christian Pinder, but then taken down at the request of Elite's other coauthor, David Braben.

Nevertheless, that conversion remains available thanks to the persistence of anything ever put onto the internet, and Github. It's probably easier to digest than the original assembly though the games library it relies on to access the display, read the keyboard, etc, has introduced significant breaking changes in the interim. It shouldn't be a big job to replace though.

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Re: Coding inspiration

Ian Bell, Elite's coauthor, has been offering the source for download for years, along with what was produced as to ship designs for a putative sequel.

If memory serves, they used the assembler built into the BBC's BASIC. So it's a few different files that when run produce parts of the whole.

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US Supreme Court blocks internet's escape from state sales taxes

ThomH
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It's still really hard to complain

It's a bit more likely I'll bother to go somewhere physical, I guess, but the sales taxes here really aren't that much.

I ordinarily pay sales tax of about 7%. If I drive twenty minutes I can get to a shopping centre in an incentivised tax zone and pay just a bit more than 3%. If I drive for two hours I can get to a shopping centre in one of the states where the sales tax is 0%. And here in the US the petrol is less than 60p a litre*, even after all the hand wringing over recent rises, so it's really a time and boredom calculation.

At least that leaves lots of spare money to try to deal with the awful healthcare system?

* okay, it's a shade below $2.90/gallon.

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Atari accuses El Reg of professional trolling and making stuff up. Welp, here's the interview tape for you to decide...

ThomH
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Re: Oh how the might have fallen... @ Jack of Shadows

I don't think she did. GEM was available only for x86 and 68000 machines. Are you sure you're not thinking of the completely unrelated GEOS? Both start in 'GE' and inherit a lot from the original MacOS but are otherwise unrelated.

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What's all the C Plus Fuss? Bjarne Stroustrup warns of dangerous future plans for his C++

ThomH
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Re: Design by committee @parperback parper

I'd read that more as "if the element was found before reaching the end" rather than inflecting it with negatives, but I agree with your point in the main part. C++ is a lot of really useful stuff and good ideas, hiding behind syntax kludges.

SFINAE is possibly an even better example. If anybody here isn't already familiar, look up std::enable_if, then calculate the ratio between the amount of time it took you to understand the purpose and utility and the amount of time it took you to be able to produce the syntax.

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I think it's more like the explosion in new languages, resulting from the post-internet easier grouping of interested people, has led to a much faster turnover in new ideas and the established languages like to crib what they can.

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ThomH
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Re: Design by committee

I disagree; templates are the best bit — the syntax could be cleaner but being able to write std::find(container.begin(), container.end(), value) and that result in the compiler being able to generate the proper code to search any iterable container is a neat alternative to more traditional approaches towards the same objective like dynamic dispatch. Specialisation (i.e. providing special cases explicitly) is the icing on the cake.

It's just a shame that (i) it's helpful for the template system to be Turing complete; but (ii) the look-at-me-I'm-clever crowd think that barely-comprehensible template hoops are a fantastic way to advocate the language.

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Now Microsoft ports Windows 10, Linux to homegrown CPU design

ThomH
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Re: Computer says "No" @bombastic bob

Benchmarking is a fools' game, of course, but the ARM at introduction was sufficiently faster than the then high-end x86, the 386, that for a while Acorn sold it on an ISA card for use as a coprocessor.

The marketing puff is here; a PCW review is here, though it fails to come to a definitive conclusion on ARM v 386 it makes statements like "The 8MHz ARM processor is one of the fastest microprocessors available today" and "A fairer [price] comparison would perhaps be with other fast coprocessor boards for the IBM PC, such as the 80386, the 68020 and the Transputer boards" which certainly seems to bracket it with those others.

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Hello, 'Apple' here, and this dodgy third-party code is A-OK with us

ThomH
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Re: You're signing it wrong !

Sorry to ruin the joke but this attack doesn't fool any of the built-in OS-level security measures, just a bunch of third-party apps that check the signature on only the first architecture within a fat binary.

So the blame-claim would be: they're validating it wrong.

... though hopefully Apple will do something about whatever the APIs are to encourage correctness by default.

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Xiaomi the money? OK, here's a one beeeeellion dollar loss ahead of IPO

ThomH
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Put water in a pan, put rice in the pan, put the pan on top of any of: an Apple III, a G4 Cube, a G5 PowerMac.

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England's top judge lashes out at 'Science Museum' grade court IT

ThomH
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When you're standing up in court being confident that you can quickly find the piece of documentation you need, and see its contents, probably while also paying attention to what someone else is saying or while speaking yourself, is fairly important.

I can't speak as to the solicitors. They probably just like being able to work on the train?

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ThomH
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Re: Join the queue.

From the realm of Brexit, why not apply the max fac technology to court digitisation? All documents will magically be recorded by cameras at the court's door, even if inside containers, because you know, technology. Get the same guys to work on it who are behind the governmental push for secure encryption that allows contents to be inspected by an unapproved third party, they seem to be able to be good at this impossible requirement stuff.

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Hey, Mac fanbois: Got $600,000 burning a hole in your pocket? Splash out on this rare Apple I

ThomH
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Re: On the plus side...

That's reassuring, given the replacement cost.

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Re: To be fair...

Of the trinity of 1977, the PET and TRS-80 are silent monochrome character-mapped devices which produce sparkles/snow if the programmer doesn't specifically avoid writing graphics during the active part of a frame, and the Apple II is a bitmapped device with a transparently-shared bus, some colour support and a toggle speaker.

That device was demonstrably better — the demonstration would be drawing some graphics or making a tone.

It was overtaken and undercut but I'd dispute that it wasn't better than its contemporaries.

Rule of thumb: if Woz was involved, the product was probably the best at something.

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Re: 'Computing revolution'?

On the one hand, and despite their gross overrepresentations, I accept that Apple were one of the companies that helped to bring huge groups of people into the home computer market.

On the other, it seems counterintuitive that a company could produce the computer that started the revolution... if there was already a 'Byte-Shop' to carry the product. That sounds a lot more like a revolution that had already begun.

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I guess that depends on how much further appreciation you foresee in the Apple I's future — in the noughties if you were lucky you could get one for 'only' $20,000. With hindsight that would have been a good investment.

I'm not expecting similar further growth but since the history of prices don't seem to follow any sort of rational pattern of growth, my expectations are clearly fallible.

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Five actually useful real-world things that came out at Apple's WWDC

ThomH
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Re: I thought browser fingerprint hiding deserved a mention.

So now I'm actually going to have to do the not-a-robot tests? Probably worth it.

If there is ever a robot uprising, all we need to do is drive at them in our cars. Apparently being able to tell which roads have cars on them proves you're not a robot.

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Re: macOS password management seems screwed anyway?

I think your method of questioning might be at fault; Safari stores all passwords in the keychain. Open Keychain Assistant, switch to passwords, enter any website name in the search field and there are the entries that correlate to my passwords. Double click one, tick the 'show password' box, enter my system password and there it is.

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@wolfetone

It's stored associated with only a randomised ID as metadata, and it loses that association after six months. It then survives untethered for the remaining eighteen.

I'd therefore posit that it's being used for Siri training, not for the sake of "acquiring personal behavioural data".

That is to answer your question literally. It doesn't make me a lot happier to know that my requests would be stored for two years even if they didn't have details attached that more explicitly identify me. That's partly why I don't use Siri, though my main justification is the same as for the other voice assistants: I'm unclear of any situation in which they'd be useful for me.

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Re: Damn it @CheesyTheClown

As a fellow MacBook Air 2011 owner, it's also a little sad for me that it will exit the list of Macs that receive the latest version of the OS with the next release, 10.14. Certainly if your issue is that you find Apple devices only talk well to other Apple devices then you might as well write that out of the set of mutually talkative devices in the near future; they don't explicit switch these things off but proprietary protocol rot takes its toll. My iOS 5 and iOS 9 iPads can still play video content from iTunes but the iOS 9 device that's supposed to sync with my iTunes Match now inexplicably offers only maybe a twentieth of my content.

That being said, I'll be back for a newer Mac and an iPhone update if and when my 6s becomes a burden; I'm not particularly interested in home automation, habitually rent movies through Amazon rather than iTunes, and my iPhone works flawlessly with my Garmin watch.

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The great wearables myth busted: Apps never, ever mattered

ThomH
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I bought my Garmin for run tracking. I have unexpectedly also found occasionally useful its display of notifications from my phone, but often more so the fact that it buzzes when it displays one so that even if my phone is somewhere deep in a coat pocket I don't tend to miss texts or emails from the few people I'd already told my phone it was okay to generate notifications for. That, with its week-and-a-bit battery life is plenty smart enough for me.

So, I think I'm arguing: not only was it bought it for a purpose, which it performs very well, but it's exceeded that usage. So I'm all for Garmins.

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President Trump broke US Constitution with Twitter bans – judge

ThomH
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Re: Actually, this decision doesn't matter anyway.

Agreed; also it feels like the real offence would be continuing the behaviour now that the law is clear. Not being able to see this outcome coming doesn't seem all that troubling.

Put another way: even if the verdict stands and it definitely is true under US law that Trump's actions violated the First Amendment, do you think he was actually motivated by the desire to restrict people's legal freedom of speech? I feel like he's unwittingly stumbled into the non-obvious violation.

If someone is really crooked, get them for something that's really crooked.

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ThomH
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Re: Ha

The plaintiffs are seven people who were blocked and the Knight First Amendment Institute, which as the name suggests has the sole purpose of defending the First Amendment. The court's verdict was solely on the grounds of the Constitution and its case law.

Are you suggesting that the Constitution shouldn't apply to people who preferred the loser in an election? Or maybe that what the Constitution means or doesn't mean should be whatever the current government decides?

You're extremely naive if you've bought into the version of the world where everything that happens is entirely framed by partisan politics. The cause of the collision is: Trump is using social media in a completely unprecedented way, and the Constitution says a lot about freedom of speech. This has happened now because this is really the first time it could have happened.

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Re: First Amendment Violation?

I'm on the fence but I can understand the logic behind the conclusion.

The First Amendment speaks in absolute terms of making no incursions upon freedom of speech, and this case applies the usual sensible modification of that re: public forums. Any restriction is an incursion — that they could speak elsewhere (or elsewhere on Twitter) isn't a defence. The most controversial part of that to me seems to be in finding Trump's feed to be a relevant 'public forum'.

The court isn't compelling Trump to create a public forum, it merely found that he had already created one through use of his account for policy discussion. Having created one, his ability to exclude people is then subject to the law.

The difference between this and those kicked out of public meetings for being rowdy, obnoxious or rude is that the court was considering those excluded based on the content of their opinions, not their behaviour.

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ThomH
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Re: So... @BronetKozicki

I'm not sure about that; the issue here seems to be that Trump's tweets and their replies count as a public forum because of the policy nature of their content, and that banning users from seeing his tweets while logged in limits their ability to take part in that public forum. So the breach isn't the not talking to them, it's the limiting of their opportunity to reply. It's the prohibition on their speech that's problematic, not their hearing.

I might be misunderstanding of course.

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Re: So...

No, but if the next President had a press conference, then disallows people who have expressed contrary opinions from being able subsequently to discuss the content of his press conference then that too would be a violation of the Constitution.

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'Clive, help us,' say empty-handed ZX Spectrum reboot buyers

ThomH
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I guess people expected a better result because the same company had already managed to produce a Spectrum console with the same funding model, and a portable version really shouldn't be very hard.

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What's up with that ZX Spectrum reboot? Still no console

ThomH
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Re: Still no console

When two ROMs bump into each other on a data bus, their seemingly-immutable values become intertwined. Has some all-seeing force chip selected them both for a reason? Find out this summer, as these two realise: random access isn't something that only happens to other memories!

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"Donald Trump reckons $1 million is a small loan in fairness."

I suspect this is not the most substantial thing that most of us would disagree with Donald Trump about.

The Register is right to track the story regardless; it's primarily about the practicalities of crowdfunding — that those who responded to particularly-worded invitations so as to create a contract of sale aside, contributors more or less just have to trust that the recipients will actually do the thing they sought the money for. No transparency, little obvious recourse.

Indiegogo sending in receivers in order to protect their brand would be unprecedented. So that they're this close is newsworthy.

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Apple MacBook butterfly keyboards 'defective', 'prone to fail' – lawsuit

ThomH
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Re: It was all downhill from the Apple Extended Keyboard II

Call me a loser if necessary: I prefer the contemporaneous Apple Standard Keyboard. It's the same Alps keys, escape is in the right place, and control is still in the right place (i.e. where caps lock is nowadays), but the whole thing is much more compact — no F keys, no cluster between the main keyboard and the numeric keyboard. The cursor keys are in a row rather than a T but that took all of five minutes to acclimatise to, and I basically never use the del key. Also I feel like option+backspace was del at the time, rather than being delete a whole word as it is now, but it might have been some other combination.

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ThomH
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I'm a Model M owner who also has the original 2015 Retina MacBook, with the first generation of the new keyboard. Here's the level of praise I can muster: it's not terrible. I've typed on much worse; they beat long travel but spongey. They look a lot worse than they are — my visions of a ZX81 or, at best, a 48kb ZX Spectrum were way off the mark.

But it's still not my favourite experience. Though it does still work after three years, no problems whatsoever. Whatever the failure rate is, high or not, I can vouch that it's certainly not 100%.

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ThomH
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Re: The only Mac I ever owned had the worst keyboard I've ever used

Was it a MacBook Air? The screens on every Mac are fantastic... other than the MacBook Air. Poor angles, poor colour — and the only ~100dpi screens left in the line-up. It's not even a case of Apple leaving another model out to pasture; the screens were noticeably worse than the others at launch.

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Commodore 64 owners rejoice: The 1541 is BACK

ThomH
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Re: Amiga disk drive

The Kryoflux arguably improves on the Catweasel by being a USB device with Mac and Linux support in addition to Windows but it's basically the same price at €99.95 and doesn't try to help with any other peripherals for anything.

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ThomH
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Re: "Taking over two minutes to load a 64 kilobyte into memory was maddening."

To add to that, the 1541 is also actually slower than the 1540 it replaces. They're physically the same device with a ROM swap, but both ended up oriented around bit-bashing the serial port at a rate that they could expect a busy-polling 6502 to be able to read. The C64 obtains the memory bandwidth necessary to double the Vic-20's output resolution by excluding the 6502 from the bus for one pixel line out of eight and buffering the tile map. So whereas the 6502 in the Vic-20 goes at a constant speed, the 6502 in the C64 suffers a line-length pause reasonably frequently. Therefore the data transmission rate had to be slowed to make sure the C64 wouldn't miss anything.

It's not a big difference but Vic-20 owners with a 1541 can obtain a mild speed-up by switching the drive into Vic-20 mode. In classic Commodore fashion, it's an arcane command that repurposes file transfer, a lot like $ being the file you load to get a BASIC listing that contains the disk catalogue.

Still nowhere near as fast as a turbo loader though; it's still one 6502 bit-bashing the two signals on the serial bus at a rate it knows isn't too fast for a listening 6502 to deal with but while maintaining the proper serial bus protocol in case the other end is ever upgraded with a race-condition-free incoming shift register.

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ThomH
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I'm the author of an ordinary software-in-your-computer 1541 emulator — the concept is nothing new, the chips are very well understood. Regardless of the article's comments about the 6522, doing it as a proper real-time process compatible with the original signalling is the interesting bit.

That being declared, I disagree with the reasoning for your guarantee. Emulating proper physical timing is pretty trivial, especially if you've a whole Ghz-level ARM at play.

To my mind the main obstacle is more likely to be the Commodore file formats: the most advanced one, G64, is a "raw bit stream" that permits multiple speed zones per track and atypical track lengths, with half-track positioning but all data within a speed zone is implicitly perfectly clocked and of perfect amplitude. So amongst other things, weak bits and fuzzy bits are not conveyed by G64.

Some of us have a full pretend PLL in our emulations; I'll wager that was omitted.

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Exclusive to all press: Atari launches world's best ever games console

ThomH
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The Atari 2600 Space Invaders is a 4kb cartridge. Close enough?

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Reg man straps on Facebook's new VR goggles, feels sullied by the experience

ThomH
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Re: For the majority of people

I'll up that: watching movies while flying economy.

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Supercycle to su-'meh'-cycle: Apple iPhone warehouses heave with unsold Notches

ThomH
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Re: iPhone 6 user here

As a 6s user, I think the only thing that'd motivate me to update any time soon would be a dramatic improvement in battery life. I'd be a lot happier if that were to happen for a reason other than my current device's battery ageing out*.

* still at 86% of maximum capacity per the battery health panel, but it doesn't seem to last the day any longer so I'm not sure I believe that. I'm probably going to hold out until December and then take part in the battery replacement programme while the price is still reduced.

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Press F to pay respects to the Windows 10 April Update casualties

ThomH
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Re: "Upgrading users should be able to ignore the viewer as before."

The other advantage of CHM files is binding the lifetime of the documentation to the lifetime of the application. Windows is supposed to be the platform that cares about backward compatibility; the push to server-based everything — including help files — strongly undercuts that.

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Bill Gates declined offer to serve as Donald Trump's science advisor

ThomH
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Surely being made to watch a box set of the Big Bang Theory would violate the US constitution's prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment?

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