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ARM's 30th birthday

Today is the 30th birthday of the ARM1 processor which powered up and worked first time, all the way back in 1985 - the year I started boarding school (and don't I feel old now!).
Supplied as a co-processor for the BBC Master, it helped to give birth to the Archimedes range of computers and to the Arthur operating system (which became RISC OS). The ARM itself was a marvel of minimalist design, using around 25,000 transistors. By comparison, the Intel 80386 was also released in 1985 and that began with a mere 275,000 transistors.
No ARM1 processors were ever used in release computers, they were first released with the ARM2 (a revised version). This led on to the ARM3 with a cache in the A4/A5000. Then came the ARM6/ARM7 as used in the RiscPC; and DEC took this design in a different direction with the StrongARM (SA110). At this point Acorn's history finishes, but already the ARM had found numerous applications in other spheres, the ARM7500 was used in set top boxes, early PDAs, and such. Acorn, the original developers of the ARM, may have faltered but the ARM has gone from strength to strength, to now be the heart of the majority of smartphones and tablets, the controller inside every SD card...I used to maintain a list of ARM devices on my website, but now I just don't bother. It is probably easier to list the devices that contain x86 or MIPs or... ☺
A write-up on this is available at


Some random photos

Not quite as old as the ARM, but with a good quarter century of legacy behind it is Masamune Shirow's masterpiece "Ghost In The Shell". Although the new "Arise" series reimagines "the Major" to be something rather different to before, this series essentially defined cyberpunk before the word was even commonplace. It is amusing when people who see this think it is ripping off The Matrix. I tend to point them at the film, from 1995, which actually contained a version of the infamous "digital rain" in the opening credits. Never one to shy away from philosophy or the unholy melding of human and synthetic (and the consequences of such - back to philosophy), the series has offered far more than its Japanese title (translating as "Mobile Armored Riot Police"!) would imply. Indeed, the series title "Ghost In The Shell" should give a clue, and once you have watched the stunning first film (moreso given its age and how advanced it was for early CG and cel drawn animation). Long live Ghost In The Shell; though purists should be aware that going into filming soon (for a planned Spring 2017 release) is a live action version of the film starring Scarlett Johansson. I have nothing against Scarlett. I would, however, struggle to find any Asian film that the US has remade and not cocked up. Although, remembering Mostly Martha/No Reservations, I should probably say "any foreign language film that has not been cocked up"...
Happy quarter century Ghost In The Shell!

Hailing from the 8th of April (yes, I probably should have posted this earlier) is this year's Sakura, or cherry blossom. Helped along by an unseasonably warm spell that was much appreciated after a miserable long miserable (did I mention it was miserable?) winter.

Talking of warm spells, while it isn't exactly the south of France here, it has been warm enough for one rice plant to poke its head out of the ground. I have transplanted the basil to an outdoor container as all of the seedlings came up - and the sunflowers are already wanting to burst out of the propagator! Into the spaceship grow dome thingy I have planted some more rice. This is kept inside on my window sill, so maybe it will be a little warmer to convince another plant or two to sprout?

Now two things that are slightly mind blowing. The first is that I'm rather pleased that my lemon tart contains 100% lemon tart. I mean, what else would it be? 95% lemon tart and some polystyrene?

Secondly, I can't believe that somebody opened up a pot noodle to see what was inside. This is all kinds of stupid.

In a vide grenier, mom found herself an M&S wordsearch book (yes, that M&S, and in English). Since I am not so bad at word searches, but I get frustrated by the French ones always wanting the spare letters to spell some sort of phrase, I decided to see if my mobile phone could help out.
In a word, yes.
This app, called 5735 Word Search offers word searches in a bunch of different languages. I tend to do word searches by pattern matching instead of actually paying attention to the words. So I can handle the Japanese despite not actually being able to read it. It takes me around 2½-4½ minutes to do one of these, it can be harder if there is a lot of kanji. I think this one took about 3¼ minutes.

I commented on how awful (I used stronger language) the "new" Livebox firmware was about eight months ago. Since then, Orange has fixed many of the bugs and rolled out a firmware that actually works. I can't say what its behaviour is like with respect to streaming media, but at least this one has the NAT configuration working and it is able to tell you what devices are actually connected. I'm so pleased that Orange decided to inflict its horrible badly tested rubbish on us before doing it properly; though I wonder if it was a rushed update to work around a known vulnerability such as HeartBleed? At any rate, we seem to have something better now. And - breaking news! You are still stuck with the administration username "admin" but finally, all these years later, the default administration password is the first eight digits of the default WiFi security key. It used to be "admin" which meant that security was pretty poor if you could get as far as connecting into the box, logging in as admin/admin would make you...admin. Now it's a little bit harder.

And now, to finish with, tell me what is wrong with this product:


Give up?

Well let's say "Changements Climatiques" needs little in the way of translation. Swap the word order around, you basically have "Climate Change" said in a Frenchy accent.
So this product is introducing children to the intense bollocks that passes for pseudo-science by the name of "Climate Change" (formerly known as "Global Warming" until people realised the real effects of dumping loads of glacier bits into the northern oceans). Okay, it is Climate Change. We burn fossil fuels, we die. We burn nuclear, we glow and then we die. We put up wind turbines, birds die but that's okay 'cos it isn't us. Or something like that.
But, wait, what's this little insert? Découvre la raison de la disparition des dinosaures!. What? Are you kidding me?
Okay. Okay. Granted, a big ass lump of rock smashing into the Earth could have raised temperatures sharply followed by intense cooling due to the raising of a cloud of dust that behaves like a nuclear winter and choked most life on the planet in an extinction event that has been suggested could possibly be measured in hours (link to PDF Survival in the first hours of the Cenozoic) could perhaps be described as a sort of climate change, if one is mad and wants to make some sort of perverse correlation between a global extinction event and our supposedly self-induced climatic change.
That said, it is worth noting that Wiki says "At the peak of the Mesozoic, there were no polar ice caps, and sea levels are estimated to have been from 100 to 250 meters (300 to 800 ft) higher than they are today. The planet's temperature was also much more uniform, with only 25 C (45 F) separating average polar temperatures from those at the equator. On average, atmospheric temperatures were also much higher; the poles, for example, were 50 C (90 F) warmer than today.", with two references to those inclined to want to follow up assertions made on Wikipedia... At any rate, it suggests that the climate has been dramatically different to that which we experience today. Maybe the truth is that the climate that we are wanting to cling on to is in fact an aberration? Or maybe stuff just goes in cycles and the Quaternary period is soon to change to something else?
Or, alternatively, one should remember that the Holocene epoch (covering the last ~11,000 years and the entirety of modern human (homo sapien) evolution and history is actually an interglacial warm period following the epic ice age yoyoing of the Pleistocene epoch.
There is much evidence that the Earth's climate has changed dramatically long before humans and their cars and factories and farting cows were ever considered. So to link climate change in its modern sense with the death of the dinosaurs is just woeful.



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