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Via jovino, this BART driver's view of passing through the transbay tunnel caught my geeky interest. ('Course, on the trains in Kuala Lumpur, you can see a comparable - but not subterranean - view yourself at any time, as it's a driverless system. Longest such in the world, as I recall)

Two pics by sockscatt, entries for Koinup's current SL photography competition; "Giving thanks to the sun" and "Moab Twilight drop".

I'm quite interested in what Apple's motivations might be in the company's recent acquisition of PA Semi, a CPU design house. They're based in IBM's POWER architectures, with a view to energy-efficient PowerPC (something of a close relative of POWER, born of the original AIM - Apple, IBM, Motorola - alliance) compatibles. Apparently, PA Semi were once in the running to be a processor supplier for Apple, but Intel won out; not such a surprise, perhaps, given their offerings were fairly thin on the ground, and comparatively unproven, not to mention the competitive benefits of offering Intel - just drop Parallels or VMware on, and you can have any other OS as well, their windows sharing the same desktop as OS X's, everything running at full native speed. Still, $278m would suggest they're after more than the people involved (and there's definitely some top-tier talent involved, including ex-DEC Alpha people, and the guy who oversaw Apple's transition from 68k to PPC) - if it were only talent they're after, it'd be far cheaper just to go headhunting. ARM-based SoC design? Possible, but I'd have thought they'd be wasted on something of that scale. A PPC competitor to ARM, maybe? Freescale's focus is more traditional embedded applications, and IBM's perfectly happy turning out millions of console and server processors - and superb as ARM's architecture is, they're also not very interested in the high performance end (1GHz+), which seems to be the way the iPhone will head. This would seem to be confirmed by reports that the negotiations were handled on the Apple side by His Steveness and Anthony Fadell, SVP of the iPod Division.

"A goods train in southern France has been attacked by robbers who made off with cushions bearing the Playboy logo."

s30e2 "Fires of Pompeii" - excellent. And I even approached it with caution, not generally being given to historical episodes, but the quality of the supporting cast shone through, coupled to a script that caught a fine balance between levity and tragedy. (Why, yes, I am a little behind with the show =:)

s30s3 "Planet of the Ood" - mixed, but good overall. I'd been interested to see what might come of learning more of the Ood, but hadn't quite expected what was revealed. Whilst the middle of the episode flagged somewhat as it turned into a gunfest, the ending was quite wonderful.

@whee! Just hooked up the radio eval board to the CPU eval board (which in turn hooks to a peripheral chip's eval board, and that to one component on our actual device) - and the two parts of the puzzle are talking to each other! The hacked up creation's transmitting over a 2.4GHz link (courtesy of a single chip that handles everything from serial data I/O to pushing out the final RF signal) to one of our devices, which is receiving and decoding the data stream. It's quite magical, seeing the logic analyzer traces showing the various bit clocks, SPI data streams, chip selects, and interrupt assertions all meshing so perfectly, all acting in a sequential flow, meshed in nanosecond perfection.

And a few weeks ago, I hadn't even heard of SPI. =:D The coworker deserves a great deal of the credit, but still, I think we make a good team. ^_^

And what better note to collapse conclude with than an ode to a cup of brown joy, as discovered by sphelx? =:9
Ood TF. Plus Reverse Illithids! They have extra brains come out of their mouths. <3
Oh, yes! Definitely can't forget the TF. =:D Quite nicely done, too, in a time when so many productions would just fake it entirely with a bit of CG, or just a basic morph job.

I wonder how they eat? Somewhat like Dr Zoidberg, I'm guessing..

Now, we've seen rhino-like characters, and the feline nuns - surely there's space in the universe for some lapine aliens? ^_^ (Quozl!)

Buying up PA Semi does indeed make a lot of sense to apple. Apple slowly lost it's chip-design talent and capacity, as computer designs shifted and the only unique part of Apple hardware became EFI. But now that Apple's big revenue base has shifted to the small embedded systems like the iPod and iPhone, they're dependant on custom designed hardware again. This leaves Apple tied to a lot of third party designers, and that's a long term risk.

There's a reason that Apple retail is much more like a car show room than a PC World. Apple model themselves along the same lines as sports car makers. And they well know if you take someone else's car designs, and only do the styling yourself, the car designers will eventually go into business on their own and probably do better than you.

So it makes sense for Apple to buy the talent and capacity to bring the designs of ipod and iphones back inhouse.
Wait, not subterranean? I was in KL a few months ago and was perched gleefully in the front car of the driverless Putra LRT train going underneath the city center, thinking: F*ck, we have a subway now.
For some reason, I found the KLCC stop particularly fascinating - emerge on the surface, and there you are, with this gigantic tower base right there. ^_^ Still one of my favorite pieces of modern architecture - the view from the walkway's as impressive as it would seem. (I really need to get that footage edited down, once I've retrieved the DVDs I prepared a while back, dumping the Hi-8 footage straight through a DV bridge and out as unedited files)

'Course, for underground exploration, London takes some beating. ^_^ A little confusing, of course, with all the various lines going in every direction, and annoyingly color coded..

Ah, to have warp tunnels between subway systems of the world.

It's relieving to know I'm not the only one with a strange obsession with rail transit ^^

Our own dear LRT is nowhere as impressive as the BART or pretty much any other light-rail system, but we do love it so. And speaking of which if you're interested, a driver's view of the entire trip from north to south, sped up, can be viewed here
Arg! I'll have to try remembering to watch that another time - YouTube's being dead slow for me at the moment. =:P How many lines does the system consist of? There's no shortage of simpler ones, after all - it's just places like London and Sydney that love showing off their spaghetti maps. ^_^ (Made all the more fun, as I discovered a few weeks ago, when you hit them on a weekend or other time they feel they can get away with maintenance, resulting in the station you want to reach, normally a couple stops away, being unreachable by the direct route. And that won't be apparent unless you take the time to check the service noticeboard.. after all, actually displaying that kind of info on the "next trains" message boards on the platforms would be making things easy!)

One thing to love about Sydney's setup is just how intermodal it is - not just trains and buses, but ferries too. And there's a catamaran route, too. ^_^ Now, if they only had a funicular too.. =:D (Actually, they almost could, given the gradient of the hill that's home to Taronga Park Zoo, a fine place to visit red pandas, and where my camcorder's battery decided to spare the ego of one of them, giving out immediately before he fell off a low branch =:)

Edmonton's LRT is just one line... it starts in Clareview, which is a huge suburb area north-east of the city core, and then it runs south, hitting the football and hockey stadiums along the way, then goes under ground where it runs through downtown, then across the river to the university campus. Although it's currently being extended further south. It's kinda useless for moving around downtown, since our downtown core is so tiny it's much easier just to walk everywhere, but for shuttling people to work and back or to school and back, it's invaluable.

However plans are being made to create a couple of lines that would branch off the main one... one is supposed to provide train access to Grant MacEwan and Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, the two other main post-secondary places in Edmonton, because buses to those areas are often so packed that some students can't use them! The other would run west to the West Edmonton Mall, which would be awesome, but that one's still up in the air.
Heya! Thanks for the mention! Hopefully, I'll get people to look in on the pics and give me a boost to help. It's fun playing with windlight, I hate to admit. Some of the presets are interesting, and it's fun to make the sun fly around the horizon willy nilly!
I hope so - the full size versions do, obviously, look much more impressive than the little thumbnails; I'd like to think at least some folks were sufficiently tempted.

I'm definitely going to have to get to playing with the finer details of Windlight's settings. So far, I've mostly just forced the sun to noon/sunset/midnight, and left the ambience to the environment, but there's so much more control possible, as you've seen.

Oh, that reminds me - there's a free official Iron Man av available, according to this posting. ^_^ And someone drew rather a cool lapine version, here. Wouldn't that make a superb av? =:D

(Natch, make a freebie available, and someone will use it in ways the PR guys might not have expected.. =:)

What I've found is you have to do more tinkering to get the cool effects. the last thing in the e-controls is a modify section, and in that screen you have an option for advanced settings. And it's in the advanced settings you can really mess with the universe.

I wanna make a video tracking the sun as I make it spin east to south to west to north....

Oh, and thanks for that heads up too about Iron Man, It'll be some time well invested to try to hit that one too.

Edited at 2008-04-30 10:20 pm (UTC)
When I read that Apple purchased PA Semi, the author of the story ended it with a "let the speculation begin".

It is hard to guess what their agenda is. Their PPC still consumes more power than the ARM chips, and it would be odd to change their computer lines so drastically again.

We'll probably find out the day they announce a new product for sale.
There's the key, I feel - there's some middle ground that isn't all that well addressed by anyone's CPU range at the moment. ARMs are fantastic for low power consumption, but the processing power tops out relatively early on, and Intel's worked wonders with moderate consumption and high throughput with the Core 2 family, making them an easy choice for laptops - but there's quite a bit of empty ground between them. Atom makes a good attempt, but it's still quite hungry per MHz compared to ARM.

As for what Apple might do with something sipping power at 1GHz, heh. That's anybody's guess. But the iPhone gives a pointer, I'd say - future models probably won't be standing still in their processor demands, and there's not much room to grow, if they stick with ARM.

so... what was in the cushions?