Category Archives: Hardware

Windows 365 – cloud-based

Perhaps for those with genuine high speed, affordable network connections Windows 365-cloud-based computing has value.

For those lacking such connections, this may not add value.

I am not yet seeing significant value for myself.

The advantages to this approach include lower maintenance costs, higher resistance to cyberattacks and malware, faster provisioning, less downtime for PC failures, easier patching, less disruptive, updates and far easier shifts to and from work-from-home. Also, you should be better able to share content collaboratively because you can build that sharing more aggressively into apps.

Among the disadvantages: additional costs (yet to be determined), more dependency on the network, higher latency (whichc ould adversely impact some types of work), and more aggravation due to the use of dual-factor authentication. (The latter will be critical to securing Windows 365.)

Source: Windows 365: The version of Windows that will change the PC world | Computerworld

Rather than buying a PC and some software, you’ll be expected to buy some hardware and then pay a monthly subscription fee forever.

If you stop paying the monthly fee, do you lose access to your data?

Chinese app publisher limits children’s use of games at night via facial recognition

Bad feeling about this – we seem to be gradually adopting all of these methods in the West, over time.

Tencent, the world’s largest Chinese video game publisher, has taken an extreme step to comply with its nation’s rules about limiting minors’ access to video games. As of this week, the publisher has added a facial recognition system, dubbed “Midnight Patrol,” to over 60 of its China-specific smartphone games, and it will disable gameplay in popular titles like Honor of Kings if users either decline the facial check or fail it.

In all affected games, once a gameplay session during the nation’s official gaming curfew hours (10 pm to 8 am) exceeds an unspecified amount of time, the game in question will be interrupted by a prompt to scan the player’s face.

Source: Dozens of Chinese phone games now require facial scans to play at night | Ars Technica

OnePlus phones throttle app performance

To reduce battery power demand, OnePlus phones are, without user permission, prohibiting hundreds of apps from running on the faster CPU cores.

The result is that many apps run up to 75% slower than expected.

But everyone—OnePlus included—seems to agree that OnePlus is taking control of app performance out of the hands of users and deciding what is and isn’t allowed to run at maximum speed on the user’s device.

Source: OnePlus admits to throttling 300 popular apps with recent update | Ars Technica

As noted, OnePlus effectively lowered performance of their phones via software updates AFTER the initial releases gave them good performance reviews.

Longer battery life is made possible by just a few functions:

Batteries with higher capacity

Reducing power of the device

Power can be reduced by disabling unneeded hardware, and reducing the speed of the CPU, when possible. Multi-core phones today also include both fast and slower cores – by moving apps, where possible, to a slower core, more power intensive cores can be throttled or powered off.

One of my patents is in the power management area (involving app level network protocols to reduce power demand). My thesis for my Master’s in software engineering is about the impacts of software algorithm design decisions on power management. The traditional view is the fastest algorithm uses the least amount of power – but that turns out not to be true. Ultimately, some algorithm choices use hardware features that increase power demand – and a seemingly less efficient algorithm can be more effective at reducing power without significantly impacting performance.

Because apps are compiled into byte codes, which in turn may be converted through Just-In-Time compilation into machine instructions – and there are different implementations of byte code interpreters and JIT – there may be variation across devices. Thus, there is no obvious way to predict how one algorithm may perform across different devices, which complicates the selection of algorithms from a power perspective. About all you can do is to measure actual power consumption on a device while the test app is running to determine real world power demand and effects of design choices.

AMD, Nvidia GPUs seeing price drops

Prices for graphic cards (GPUs) have skyrocketed this past year. The shortage of the cards appears to have been caused by their use in “bit coin mining” which requires massive calculations (and huge amounts of electricity).

This made it hard for game enthusiasts as cards became very expensive. Last year, Microsoft introduced Flight Simulator (2020) which also caused many gamers to try and upgrade their systems, also increasing demand.

Source: AMD, Nvidia GPUs Could Be More Affordable Real Soon | Tom’s Hardware

Lidar versus visual processing for automated driving

Lidar, or laser-based radar, is a key enabling technology for most auto makers’ self-driving cars. Lidar is good at identifying objects far down the road and determining speed. Unlike traditional cameras, the technology doesn’t get blinded coming out of tunnels or in other tough driving conditions. For example, the autonomous taxis that operate in Phoenix and Las Vegas are equipped with lidars, in addition to cameras and traditional radars.

Source: Lidar Needs to Get Cheaper and Better. Why This Stock Could Benefit. | Barron’s

Tesla has relied on visual processing systems rather than lidar. Lidar has, historically, been expensive.

I suspect the Lidar versus vision processing is going to be similar to what occurred in photography for automatic focus systems. In photography, much of the camera world went with phase detect auto focus while Olympus and Panasonic stayed with contrast detect auto focus, or Panasonic’s newer tech, Depth From Defocus (DfD). Indications are that eventually, most cameras will use phase detect technology (in addition to contrast detection).

I wonder if future self driving vehicles will end up using both lidar and image processing. I think that is where it is headed.

Did you know that RC model aircraft pilots must keep their instruction manuals with them while flying? I didn’t.

FAA regulations require that operating instruction manuals be kept on board aircraft when the aircraft is in operation. Pilots can refer to manuals in the event a problem develops during flight.

Because unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are defined as aircraft, legally speaking, the FAA rules require that the operating manuals for drones be kept on board the drone. This is a problem when the manual is larger than the drone! 🙂

The FAA has, for practical reasons, decided to interpret the rule as requiring the pilot of a UAV to keep the manuals at the point where the flight controls (Remote control unit) is located, rather than on board the aircraft.

Source: See – Rupprecht Law P.A.

(This is my go to source for legal and often other information, regarding aviation and RC model aircraft rules and regulations).

This FAA interpretation interesting for two reasons:

1. I did not know that the operating instructions are supposed to be kept at hand while flying my RC model aircraft. I do keep my own check lists with me, which I have distilled from the instruction sheets, but I have not kept the instruction sheets with me. I think I will put all of them in a manila filing folder now.

2. This illustrates the problem of turning over everything in life to bureaucrats who cannot foresee future changes in technology – and who fail to go back and review all existing rules to detect such conflicts.