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Beer for the day: Bath Ales' "Wild Hare", an organic golden pale ale, with a calculated sharpness of hops, but not lacking the essential maltiness - here from wheat and barley - of a good ale. Ratebeer page here.

sockscatt pointed out this video of MIT's "Whiteboard", demonstrating a cart drawn on it; the program understands that the wheels will carry it down the slope, and animates the consequences.

If you ever heard The Firm's "Star Trekkin'", you'll remember it.. and here's the video (FLV download). Boldly going forwards, 'cause we can't find reverse

Or, for a classic bit of 80s synth: Visage - Fade to Grey (FLV).

And speaking of YouTube, you've probably noticed that it's been confirmed: Google's buying them for $1.65b in stock. No word yet as to whether the founders have called Mark Cuban to say "nyah nyah nya-nyaaah nyah".

Good Amiga interview here. But only five people working on OS5? That's not a large team for an application, let alone an OS; but, if they can pull a hare out of their hat, I'll be watching.

If you're within reach of Cardiff, Nov 19 sees a Doctor Who concert at the Millennium Stadium: "Composer Murray Gold and the Doctor Who team are working together with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the BBC National Chorus of Wales to stage the show. The star-studded concert, which will take place at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, will feature the BBC National Orchestra of Wales performing selections of Murray's celebrated incidental score, accompanied by a host of stunning visuals from Doctor Who.

The audience can also expect live appearances from some of The Doctor's greatest enemies including the Daleks and Cybermen. David Tennant has confirmed that he will be on hand to take part in a question and answer session alongside Russell T Davies and Murray Gold." (And four days later, the Scissor Sisters are in town =:)

shep_shepherd noticed Germany is being kept safe through vigilance: 'A large area near the town of Halle was cordoned off after a "flabby red, orange and green substance" was found by the road, Reuters reported. Fire officers in protective suits spent two hours inspecting the substance before concluding it was jelly.'

An interesting article on Archer Daniels Midland, one of the US' largest agricultural corporations, examining their recent promotion of ethanol as a fuel. (Coke lovers have them to thank for high fructose corn syrup, too)

So, Tower Records is/are history. They've been sold to a bidder that intends to liquidate the company, for $150m.

For the Bay Area folks: two CompUSA stores (3201 20th Ave, SF and 3149 Stevens Creek, SJ) are closing, with 30-60% off most stuff, and "at least 15%" off computers.

Word comes down from Studio Ghibli that Miyazaki himself is embarking on another project, for mid-2008 - but no other details have been revealed as yet. (His son is directing the studio's next release; they're not entirely in accord, with the father apparently expressing his artistic objections via another studio director)

Rather cool photo taken by deffox of lightning around wind turbines.

And sphelx noticed the quite wonderful auto bird turd emergency kit from Grumpy Girl.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ah. I've only just realised that Ron Grainer (composer of the Doctor Who theme itself) died some 25 years ago. I suspect he'd be happy to see his work enjoying such popularity.

And five people is actually not too bad a team for an OS. Provided it's faily small scale. For Windows or Linux it'd be impossible, but for an embedded application, I suspect we could get away with five coders.
He certainly came up with some exceptionally memorable compositions - The Prisoner also comes to mind. It's a little disappointing, though, that the Radiophonic Workshop - and Delia Derbyshire in particular - aren't credited, as she was *cough* instrumental in bringing the very nature of the theme's sound into being, through fairly incredibly laborious means. (If you've not seen The Alchemists of Sound, it's well worth the time) RG himself acknowledged that fully, to his credit.

Which is not to dismiss Murray Gold's contributions to the show - I'm a big fan of the new theme arrangement. (Which makes it all the more painful when the continuity announcers, as per orders, proceed to babble on top of it. I'd happily support legislation to outlaw such thematic interference, at least with regard to the BBC - let ITV do what it will, given they're in a mire of their own making)

I admit, I'm very tempted to try making it along to that concert - some very good music, performed live by a full orchestra, and an ad lib Mr Tennant.. doesn't sound like such a bad evening. ^_^

I'd still consider five rather small, even for something tightly focused like QNX, especially once you broaden the scope to cover multimedia - he's claiming it to be a superior offering to OS X, after all. That covers a great deal of ground - it'd be like transforming RISC OS into OS X. Still, it'll be very interesting to see what does emerge, and whether they can manage to secure mass manufacturing acceptance to sustain the project's viability. Perhaps they could manage to crack the tablet market, which remains an extremely slender niche for now?
I'm starting to suspect you are not exactly one person, porsupah. I don't believe any one person could be quite so transatlantic as you are :)

Yes, I suppose if you're trying to do a fully-featured OS, then you DO need a bigger team. However, for our FADECs, the OS consists of just a handful of main areas; power-up checks, box management, hardware interface etc. Technically speaking, it's a very simple system with just a very thin OS.
Sounds like a fascinating line of programming! Don't suppose you could use an extra set of paws around the place, either on a contractual or long-term basis?

Indeed, for something of that nature, keeping things as simple as possible would seem like a wise, if not essential, strategy, lest one descend into the crawling horrors of Ada.

I don't so much live anywhere as occupy a spatial probability eigenfunction. =:)
So we can never know exactly where you are if we know how fast you're moving?

"Can you come to the phone?"
    "I'm 90% sure I can within the next ten seconds."
"Is that 'yes?'"
    "Ask me ten seconds from now."
I do like the idea of negligible rest mass, too. ("Does this spectrum make me look fat?")
lest one descend into the crawling horrors of Ada.

Too Late.

We used to use an in-house language called LUCOL that was basically macros connecting blocks of assembly. So no compiling, a 1:1 relationship between source and object code. But RR decided that Ada was the new and funky way to go. Now we have situations like the fact that the code is so optimised (gcc -O2) that the decomplier (objcopy) can't line up source and object any more. You'll get a block that basically says "These 50 lines of source code are somewhere in this three-page block of assembler."
Well, as long as you're well covered for the psychotherapy bills Ada typically results in, I suppose life's not too bad. Why the need for optimisation in the compiler?

Ugh, yes.. I've seen that kind of "it's in here somewhere, honest!" disassembly. Something of a pain, but it's usually easy enough to get used to, particularly if you're familiar with the processor in question and what the code's hoping to accomplish. Ah, the joy of hand-crafted assembly.. being able to fully utilise the CPU's execution units, despatching as fully as possible, avoiding cache misses with appropriate prefetching, analysing execution simulation traces to determine where improvements can most effectively be made.. now there's fun. ^_^
Why the need for optimisation in the compiler?

Ah, that's an amusing tale in itself.

There's too much going on. Our software uses a fixed priority scheduler with a 25ms iteration. If a watchdog isn't serviced every 25ms, the unit is reset and execution begins again. Of course that means that if the code can't get it's execution done within 25ms, you have continuous reset.

RR were worried that the latest version of software wouldn't meet the 25ms deadline, so required -O2 optimisation to speed things up enough.

What I don't understand is why we don't just crank up the speed of the processor (which is rated for something like 4 times the speed it's running at).
Erk! Okay, that's just (Michael Bentine's) potty time. I suppose the processor would be rather warmer at that clock speed, but unless they're fast desktop devices, that's hardly going to be noticeable - even a PPC750fx at 300MHz runs barely warm to the touch, as the original iBook family showed well, lacking any fan at all. Anything ARM-based probably doesn't even know what a heatsink is.

25mS? Egad, that's an eternity! I decompressed entire 288x320 16bpp video frames in that time. Of course, I didn't need to execute in any specific amount of time, although it was quite simple to calculate the worst case (four soft-coded 8x8 subcells within each 16x16 block) - I designed the decoder to simply never take longer than 33ms per frame, allowing also for the other threads' overheads, such as grabbing data off the CD, and doling it out to the appropriate handler (video, audio, script, etc), but they were quite low impact operations, with most of the bulk work done by DMA, and with as little relocation of data as possible. An exceptionally fun project for what was, at the time, an exceptionally cool company.

Couldn't someone demonstrate it's impossible for the code to exceed its timeslot sans optimisation? Sounds as if they're imposing their guidelines, unable to accept that your code is indeed up to the task. Bad enough to interfere with a relatively modest development issue like compiler optimisation (where, of course, you're then having to trust the compiler to make the right decisions, as what is being executed isn't specifically what you wrote - fine in most situations, but not a decision I'd make for a mission critical system), but to force development into Ada? Certainly, I appreciate the theoretical considerations of the utility of strong typing, but still.. :-/
25ms, rather. Brain fart. Case is significant in many places, SI units most definitely included. ^_^
The processor is the Hi-Core processor, again in-house (it used to be the Lucas Aerospace Lae2000). But it's not much different to the '020 it replaces, except that it's on an ASIC. It'd certainly cope with the heat and electrical noise of bieng strapped to a Jet Engine even at 50Mhz (I think we use 25Mhz).

As for timing, that's one of the functions we do for verification, but it's hard enough proving that the formally built code meets its requirements (8 man months) without doing the same thing for an unoptimised build in parallel.

But, we do trust the complier. It's been certified for use on our product and our verification checks quite thoroughly that the complied code does what it should.

Oh, and it could've been worse. You could've said 25Ms. Which is about the length of human gestation.
Ratebeer

What does it say about me that I read that first as "Rabbiteer"? =:P
*giggle* The two would seem like an entirely satisfying combination. ^_^ (Not to be indulged so far, of course, that one begins seeing pink or tartan bunnies)
My, that lightning photo looks familiar. :-P

For CompUSA, isn't 30% off still higher than Newegg? I do find the store useful when I need something 'right now'.
Apparently, you've merged into one being in my subconscious. ^_^;

Oh, CompUSA's prices are often fairly horrible. But, as you say, they're handy on occasion - like when I wanted to see if the VisualDSP++ IDE would run happily under VirtualPC (and more importantly, the ICE driver), so we went out to the nearby CompUSA and picked up a copy, with remarkably satisfactory results. (Got to love the pricing - with XP Pro, it was something like $250, or naked, about $200)

But I suppose the same story's repeated in many retail sectors. I was just reading an article the other day about an independent bookseller that, faced with price competition from net.retailers, chose to modify his business fairly drastically, cutting stock greatly, and opening a cafe inside instead. Seems to have worked - people come in, browse books, and enjoy a pleasantly relaxed atmosphere in which to peruse them. Makes sense - you can't hang out in Amazon's cafe, after all; they're making better use of the fact they're a bricks & mortar store.
Apparently, you've merged into one being in my subconscious. ^_^;

*chuckles* :-)
This is my photo, and this is my Foxie's. We end up photographing a lot of the same things... :-)
It's when we're both in the same photo that you have to watch out. One never knows what to expect. ;-)
(Deleted comment)
Oh certainly. They aren't always the best.

They once had a penny shipping sale. I found out too late to order a case or something though.
Interesting lightning picture. Just the right size to use it for a desktop, too, if I ever feel like it. :)
Indeed - it crops down to 16:10 nicely, too, for Hyzenthlay.. but as good a photo as that is, it'll have a tough time displacing the orange bunny. ^_^
So sad about Tower Records. "The largest record store in the known world" is no more. Many a time in the early '70s I made the pilgrimage to the Sunset Bl. store to find imports that were available nowhere else. "The Butterfly Ball", "Lumpy Gravy" and "One Live Badger" were particularly memorable finds there...
For a big chain, they still managed to retain something of a personality about themselves - vastly moreso than, say, Sam Goody or the defunct Suncoast. They always had good selections of music and music video, as well as a good line in magazines (ahh, Skin Two! So ~shiny~) and knick-knacks, like a few metal Futurama propaganda style signs, or Powerpuff Girls foam figurine keychains. I used to go along to the one just across I-5 from me in San Diego fairly often, as well as the one near the Castro.

A sad end indeed, let alone the 3,000 or so people working there now having to scurry to find something else. And to think, that group won their bid by a single increment of $500k..


I too will mourn the death of Tower Records...

...By hitting all the local stores to see what's on sale!!
How old is that article you dug up, Porsy-Baby?
It says the closeout procedure will start "this Saturday".
Is that this week's Saturday? Oh boy oh boy!


"(Coke lovers have them to thank for high fructose corn syrup, too)"

Oh yeah, gee thanks! We really like it better than REAL sugar!
Oh golly! Yes, more please! Can't get enough of that corn syrup!
(Why yes, that IS sarcasm!)


Visage's "Fade To Grey", woohoo! I love that tune!
It's bilingual!
I downloaded the FLV, thanks!


Annoyingly, that article didn't have a date, and the Hollywood Reporter's article comes from last Saturday, saying the same thing - so, presumably, it does mean next Saturday. I almost wish I hadn't just picked up BT's "This Binary Universe", but this way I get it in my cute little paws in a day or two, for only slightly more. (Really looking forward to that - he's come out with some particularly good work in the past, but the associated visuals sold me on it)

It's strange, thinking that a body in charge of US sugar growers' interests would have such formidable power (hell, just ask Hawaii) - it's almost like something out of the middle ages, substituting for rare and exotic spices. (Still, with Bush already surpassing Saddam Hussein in the torture department, maybe there's more of that traditional wisdom in store)

I'd love to get hold of a high quality copy of the video for Fade to Grey. ^_^ Or even just the track. Ah, those breathy syntoms.. I must remember to include such influences if I can get off my tail and get playing with the keyboard. The video reminded me of the one for Ashes to Ashes in a few places - but then, that was one of the first "big budget" videos, inevitably helping set the stage for the next decade or so.

I wonder if YouTube discards the original submitted files? Would be cool to see the Google Video treatment applied to all their current offerings - GV goes for considerably better visual quality, preserves the aspect ratio, and preserves stereo audio. Wish they'd do away with that daft requirement to download it using their player, though, given a GVI's merely a lightly tweaked AVI - it'll play in VLC or mplayer fine, though the audio seems to stutter in the QuickTime Player, perhaps as a result of not being handled by the DivX or 3ivX plugins. If they can blend their superior file quality and aesthetics with YouTube's social networking aspects, the results could be very cool.
That whiteboard blows my mind. I'm a little confused on the hardware - is the whiteboard functioning as an input device that just happens to have the display projected on it?

I'm stealing that link by the way ;)
That's my understanding of it, yes - it's behaving like a projector-based giant Cintiq tablet. Mm, there's another nice toy.. ah, someday. I should first learn to make good use of my Intuos, though. ^_^

It's quite seriously cool, ne? That's the kind of underpinnings we'll need for real-world AIs - the ability to understand that if there's gravity, there'll be a certain effect on an object, particularly one equipped with wheels. So basic to human understanding, but it's those towers of inferred logic and implications that seem to've posed such great problems, let alone meaningful voice recognition, which we're only now really coming to terms with - at least with English. I'm not sure if IBM's research maps over easily to languages like Chinese, Thai, or Vietnamese.