Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Apple Working on 20.5-Inch All-Screen Foldable Notebook for 2025


it is still hard for me to get excited about tablet computers.  This is described as a notebook, so does that make it a laptop replacement?  If so, why would I need a laptop with no keyboard?

Sunday, January 29, 2023

BUY The M2 Mac mini! (It's basically a $599 Mac Pro...)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXHxY2i9w9Y

I'm a little frustrated. The $600 price is good, but the slower SSD, inadequate memory and storage are like a slap in the face. The excessive cost of upgrading is an insult. If they think that I am going to pay $200 for an additional 8 gigs of RAM or $200 for an additional 256 gigs of SDD, well count me out.
For the cost of the computer with upgrades, say an additional $400, I could get a really nice PC with more memory and storage.  
As good as the computer may be, I feel that it makes Apple look uncompetitive. In the year 2023 and beyond, having only 8 gigs of RAM or 256 gigs of storage are not valid options, unless you are just a basic computer user, in which case why are you buying an M2 chip? This mismatch between power, storage and memory is a paradoxical attempt to get you to spend more money.

Friday, December 16, 2022

The Current State of Windows on ARM-Architecture (& Its Promising Future)

The industry is moving toward efficient ARM processors, in an effort to catch up to Apple.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psbucvxF-UU&t=468s

This video is talking about a future processor.  I saw another video claiming that Microsoft's current ARM-based devices fall way short of what Apple's M-series chips can do.

Although the video claims that there is no problem running X86 programs on ARM processors using emulation (https://youtu.be/psbucvxF-UU?t=195), reportedly many videogames have difficulty or don't work at all under emulation.  However, if we are moving toward two competing hardware architectures, I hope that many software makers will compile their software to work on both platforms.  For video games, it can be more complicated because the GPU hardware can be different.

I don't think that Intel will stand still as their processors get out-competed.  All they would need to do is come up with more powerful processors to recapture the market.  They also are planning to come out with 3-nanometer chips in a couple of years.

However, ARM's main strength is power efficiency, so it will remain popular on portable devices.

According to one video, the industry is moving away from PCs as we know them today, and toward System on a Chip devices like what Apple has done.  Although these tend to be more efficient, you can't change the hardware configuration, like the memory size, after you buy them.



Sunday, November 20, 2022

iPad Pro M2: What Does "Pro" Even Mean?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_WbmIIy4vk

If you have a good smartphone, a tablet feels unnecessary.

The last thing I need is a tablet that is 2.5 times faster than my desktop computer.  This is the kind of power you want on a laptop or a desktop.

The M1 is only 7% slower than the M2.  

A couple of years ago, I bought the Amazon Fire tablet on Black Friday for $80, which is not a powerful tablet, but it works just fine as a portable Internet and streaming device.

4K Gamer Pro Review

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL9U6n4IixQ

I did some experimenting on my computer by playing video games and videos at resolutions from 720P up to 5K. With my eyesight, which is about 20/30, on a 27-inch screen, I could not tell a difference between 1080P and higher. We are talking about levels of detail that are hard to perceive. I personally like 1440P, not that it was really an improvement over 1080P. It is maybe for me more psychological that I think that 1440P is better.

Even if you have 20/20 vision and a 60-inch screen, you are going to be sitting further back, whereas I sit very close to my 27-inch screen. Can people really tell a difference with 4K on a big-screen TV?

Many years ago somebody made a video about how 4K was unnecessary because the resolution of the human eye was not going to tell the difference. If it is unnecessary on a 55-inch TV, then it is probably unnecessary on a smartphone. I bought an iPhone 10R, which has a sub-1080P resolution, yet I never notice the resolution being too coarse.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Sprites



The word "sprite" is interesting. It means elf, fairy, or ghost, although it can also refer to flashes of different color lights in clouds caused by lightning. The word originated in the middle ages from the word "spirit". When I hear the word, I think of the Disney character Tinkerbell.

In computers and video games, a sprite is an image that can move on top of a background. Usually, these are 2D objects moving on top of a 2D background, although a game like the original Doom had 2D objects moving on top of a 3D background. The mouse pointer on a computer screen is technically a sprite.

Back in the days when computers and video games were 8-bit and 16-bit, it was helpful to have hardware support for sprites, which allowed graphical objects to move around independently of the background. The reason this was helpful was that it was more taxing for the old slow computers without hardware sprites to manipulate the graphics on the screen. When I was writing games for the Timex Sinclair 2068 and Atari ST computers, I had to write software to make all the graphics move because there was no hardware support for sprites, which makes the task more technically challenging.

The early arcade video games used hardware sprites and so did all early home video game consoles. The sprites on the Atari 2600 are extremely primitive and very difficult to program, but the programmers knew how to make them work.

Many people have touted the Commodore 64 as the best 8-bit computer because it had hardware support for eight 8x8 sprites, although this is not very many compared to the Nintendo Entertainment System that came out later. I think that the Atari 8-bit computer had better graphical capabilities overall.

Once we had 32-bit processors, there was no longer a need for hardware sprites. These systems were powerful enough that it was not a huge challenge to manipulate graphics on a screen. Also, with 32-bit systems, there was a greater emphasis on 3D graphics instead of 2D graphics.

--
Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Fire Tablets

Right now Amazon is selling some of their Fire Tablets at half price. Although they are budget tablets, not nearly as powerful as iPads, I am pretty impressed with the value for the price.
I have argued that if you have a good smartphone then you might not need a tablet, but I have enjoyed my Fire Tablet while traveling. They are more useful if you subscribe to Amazon Prime.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Facebook and Craigslist scams

I have noticed that a few people have created new Facebook accounts because they said that their old account was hacked or there is a problem with it. In some cases, people say that they can no longer access their old accounts.

This can get confusing because there are also fake accounts that look like the original accounts. All of this is part of scams, for example, I had a 'friend' ask to borrow money. It is always strange when you get friend requests from people who are already friends, meaning that these new friend requests are likely from fake accounts. And if they are not fake accounts then you need to verify that these people are who they say they are.

So today I encountered a scam. One of the hacked accounts had been talking to me briefly for a few days making small talk. At first, I was fooled thinking that I was talking to my friend in Salt Lake City. Then today the account tried to pull a scam that went like this:

He said that he was trying to install Facebook on his phone, but he needed a code number to finish the installation. He said that Facebook required that the code be sent to a second phone number, which makes no sense, and asked if he could use my phone number. I had already inadvertently given this person my phone number because I had asked him to give me a call so that we could chat.

I was immediately suspicious. I have seen many scams as a seller on Craigslist that will claim that they want to verify your identity with a code number and that you have to message the code number back to them. What they are actually trying to accomplish is to do a password reset on your account, which requires a code verification, so if you give them the code then they will be able to change your Craiglist password and take over your account. Then they can use your account to scam other people.

So I realized this Facebook scammer was doing the same thing trying to take over my Facebook account. I contacted my friend on his new account and he verified that this other account was not him. However, I took this one step further. I told him that I didn't know which account was the real one, the old or the new, so I asked for his phone number so that I could call him and verify his identity. As soon as he answered the phone, I knew that I was talking to the real person.
I blocked the bad account and reported it to Facebook as someone impersonating a friend.

Never give a code number (or password) to a person in a message or email. It is a scam.

--
Best wishes,

John Coffey

http://www.entertainmentjourney.com

Monday, September 19, 2022

New iPhone

My new iPhone came with a USB-C type lighting cable, but no charger.  Those bastards.

All my old lightning cables and chargers are USB-A.  I almost ordered a USB-C charger, but why bother just to be able to use the cable that came in the box?

I'm having trouble setting up the new iPhone, so I will have to finish tonight.  However, FACE-ID works and I think that this is awesome.  The fingerprint system never worked for me.

--

Sunday, September 18, 2022

New iPhone and screen resolution

Recently, I cracked my iPhone 6s+ screen for the third time. I should be getting a new iPhone in the mail tomorrow.

The 10R is an ultra cheap version of the iPhone 10. I'm going from a 5.5 inch 1080P screen to a 6.1 inch 828P screen. Apple claims that this is a Retina Display, but it is only barely so. I was a bit annoyed when they came out with this phone four years ago, because it was inconceivable to me that Apple would go less than 1080P.

I've been arguing for a while that screen resolution is overrated. This will put my claim to the test.

For example, I tried playing videos and video games at various resolutions from 720P to a whopping 4K and 5K. Anything above 1080P is really hard for me to tell the difference. I like 1080P video the best, although 720P video is not terrible, but for a computer monitor I prefer 1440P. My 2017 iMac has a fantastic 5K display, but for a 27-inch screen this seems like overkill.

Best wishes,

John Coffey

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The best $589 you can spend at Apple

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CWTBzZcp_k

Apple silicon doesn't run the Windows programs that I use, at least not without using some sort of very elaborate emulation.  Still, it is over twice as fast as my 2017 iMac desktop.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Space Invaders: Atari Archive Episode 32

For those who have some interest in video games.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ad3TLYZOI-M

I can't emphasize enough how difficult it is to write programs on the Atari 2600, also called the Atari VCS.  Since the machine only had 128 bytes of RAM, there is no video memory at all.  Instead, as the raster draws the picture on the TV screen, the microprocessor has to constantly send information to the display as to which pixels to draw.  It is a miracle that it can display anything at all.  The code necessary to draw the screen is contained in the ROM cartridge.  Most of the microprocessor time is spent drawing the screen, and any game logic had to be done during the television vertical blank period, which is the period of time that the electron gun moves from the bottom of the screen back to the top of the screen to start the next frame.  The vertical blank happens for about 1330 microseconds, sixty times per second.

There were a few rare 2600 cartridges that would have extra chips on them to boost the memory or the capabilities of the machine.  These special cartridges only got made when the chips became cheaper, like in the late 1980s which was near the end of the life of the 2600 game system.

Some early primitive computers with limited memory, like the Sinclair ZX80, ZX81, and Timex-Sinclair 1000, also used the microprocessor to draw the display.  This didn't involve computer code like on the 2600, but a hardware trick to get the microprocessor to copy bytes from the memory to the display.   It is my understanding that the first McIntosh computer lost about 40% of its processor time driving its display.

Memory limitations would drive the graphics on all videogame systems and computers throughout the 1980s.  Instead of every pixel having its own unique memory location, which has been true since the mid-90s, the screen would be made up of tiles, or blocks, which are like the characters on a computer keyboard.  Each tile could be defined to whatever you want, usually with a limited number of colors.  When I was programming on the Super Nintendo, the artists would create the tiles, and the program would tell the tiles where to display on the screen.  Objects that move on the screen are called "Sprites", and the hardware displays these in front of the background tiles and they are made up of their own separate tiles.  Since the mid-1990s these kinds of display methods were no longer necessary because the chips were faster and the systems had more memory.



I’m tired of winning (and it's awesome)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTZuD4fVutc

The next generation of AMD CPUs coming this year has a big boost in CPU power, but not a big boost in integrated graphics.  I've been wanting a powerful APU, which has a CPU and powerful graphics on the same chip, saving the cost of a separate graphics card, like the custom chips that are on the XBOX Series X and the Sony PlayStation 5.  

The current generation AMD 5950x is a beast of a processor and can play games, but its graphics capability is very low compared to the videogame systems.

However, the next generation of AMD APUs is not coming out till next year or maybe the 4th quarter of this year as laptop processors.  If I want a powerful CPU and reasonably powerful graphics then either I would have to buy a new CPU and a graphics card, or settle for an upcoming laptop processor.  I think that 2023 should bring me some good options, although I was hoping to upgrade this year. 

My 2017 iMac can play games better than I expected.  It has a low-end graphics card like what would be found in a laptop.  However, the CPU power is unimpressive.  I have the option of upgrading the processor to an i7-7700K, at a cost of $350 to $400, but I would still be a few years out of date.  The better option is to wait for the next generation.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

iPhone unavailable

So I tried to activate Siri on my iPhone and I got the message, "iPhone unavailable. Please try again in 5 minutes." At first, I was puzzled, but then I remembered that this might be a passcode issue. So I figure that the screen was accidentally on, and the phone was in my pocket with my eyeglass case, and this somehow resulted in some incorrect button presses. Apparently, Apple temporarily locks you out if you incorrectly enter the passcode too many times. It is a security feature. This would be bad if there were an emergency, although during the lockout it gives you the option of making an emergency call.

--