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Comment: Re:ummm (Score 2) 170

by Big_Breaker (#49529519) Attached to: Intel 'Compute Stick' PC-Over-HDMI Dongle Launched, Tested

Can run x86 binaries and uses Intel HD graphics, so no gfx driver issues. Roku or other ARM sticks can't run x86 binaries and you have to deal with their binary blob gfx drivers that generally don't play well with new kernels. ARM binaries are vary by core vintage and soft vs hard float. Then there is the variety of gpu cores: MALI, Vivante, PowerVR, Broadcom. By contrast Intel has open source options and Intel supplied binaries that get updated, especially because the desktop chips use the same gpu.

I tried upgrading my headless and slow single core ARM server to an IMX6 quad core. In theory it would have been great - in reality it never worked right and the gfx issues were a nightmare to sort out. I ended up with a J1900 board for not much more and it works like a dream.

Comment: More common that humans are turned into robots (Score 3, Interesting) 282

by Big_Breaker (#49518953) Attached to: Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers

Companies have gotten really good a simplifying human jobs so that new hires with few skills can be quickly trained up to replace underperforming or otherwise problematic workers. There are high paying management jobs (a few of them) for producing and optimizing employment manuals, procedures, performance targets and input kiosks so that the absolute lowest common denominator hire can quickly fill a void.

As an example McDonalds "upgraded" their order taking turrets from using words for each food item to pictures for each food item. That meant they could employ people who couldn't read, because I guess literacy was a limiting requirement in their hiring process. McDonalds employs over 400,000 people. Just a small "savings" across that employment base is worth millions. That millions of savings get's split between shareholders and the top tier of management who designs and implements these "process enhancements".

And the new thing is to order online from your smartphone and pick it up at the counter. That gets rid of the order taker entirely and you can staff with mostly "behind the scenes" worker bees that don't even have to speak English. That is until you can get a robot to make the food too.

Call centers have been doing this for years with average call time metrics, flow charts for addressing caller needs, etc... It's happening in lots and lots of industries now.

Comment: Re:QNAP TS-something-something with Linux (Score 1) 253

Some of the new NAS boxes are using Baytrail laptop chips that are much faster than the old single core Atoms. I don't know about real-time HD transcoding but they rip through par2 and unrar calculations. I think the GPU is still enabled, even on a NAS, in case GPU transcoding is an option.

Baytrail MBs are a great option if you want to "roll your own" server. ~10 watts of power before hard drives.

Comment: Bay Trail NUCs are lousy: Buyer beware (Score 3, Insightful) 51

My first D54250WYKH couldn't even get through the OS install. It had IO errors that were unrecoverable every time. The second NUC would consistently take a Kubuntu install but has intermittent kernel panics and reboots for seemingly no reason. And it near bricks using any kind of suspend mode in Linux - everyone is having that problem. You have to disassemble the whole NUC and pull the CMOS battery to get it to boot after any sort of suspend. Suspend is pretty important because these small cases use small, loud fans. Just a modern desktop, an idling modern desktop, is enough load on the GPU to throttle up the fan to full RPM.

I posted about my troubles on the NUC forums, along with many others. Intel says they don't officially support Linux so it's on you to fix. That's interesting because they sell the NUC with no OS. If it's intended to be windows only they should sell it with windows. Also in the firmware notes they talk about fixing a bug that was effecting Openelec, so obviously Linux is part of their testing.

Comment: Re:I like Turbine, and I expected a new MMORPG (Score 1) 50

by Big_Breaker (#48020667) Attached to: Infinite Crisis' Superhero Origins Story

Asheron's Call (the first one) was great. I really wish they hadn't wasted so much the time and so many resources on a sequel. AC had a good loot system, crafting, genuinely novel lore, real PKing, a full open world, in game guilds, in world housing, a functioning economy (ok sometimes money was worthless). I moved onto to WoW and it was much more polished but didn't have that wide-open, it's your world feel of AC. WoW felt like running around Disneyland. You could get lost in AC.

You haven't lived until you've done a Chakron's quest (including the run through the Direlands) or the Aerfalle quest to get your recall scroll. Morningthaw server here. Crowning achievement? Trading for one of the rare sets of PPGSA. That and getting a villa... good times

Comment: Re:Intel NUC (Score 1) 183

Celeron J1800 and J1900 boards are passively cooled, low power and cheap. Consider them as an alternative to a NUC

I bought this board:
http://www.supermicro.com/products/motherboard/celeron/X10/X10SBA.cfm

It's more expensive than the ASUS, Gigabyte, etc J1800 boards but mine does 12V dc-dc conversion on board and has many more SATA connections. That sames me a traditional PSU and SATA card/expander.

Comment: Re: So you can reuse the PC board? (Score 4, Informative) 122

by Big_Breaker (#47393451) Attached to: New Single Board Computer Lets You Swap Out the CPU and Memory

I built a baytrail server and its amazing for the cost and power budget. The Intel HD graphics aren't for gaming but it can serve and render media on a sip of power. The HDDs are by far the biggest power hog. I struggled with these ARM chips and their custom distros enough. The ability to be on x86 with well supported peripherals is well worth it - gpu especially. Need to run some wintel stuff now and again? Virtualbox works fine. On the other hand ARM chips always have their issues with proprietary gpus and their binary blob drivers rife with kernel compatibility problems. And you find yourself stuck in a back alley of "mostly" compatible software and patches.

You might hate sucking up to Intel but at least the drivers work. I might be burning 7 watts instead of 5 but that's nothing in the overall power budget. And baytrail is much much faster than IMX6.

Comment: Re:Digital is only digital if analog is right (Score 1) 236

by Big_Breaker (#47229581) Attached to: Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Totally true. A for effort!

But I'll say FPGAs are a niche technology. Many products have no FPGAs and effectively none have only an FPGA and no supporting circuits. Commonly FPGAs are used for ultra high bandwidth applications where a traditional microprocessor can't hang. All those high bandwidth buses and external I/O interfaces press right up against analog. Maybe you are using a stock dev board and programming the FPGA over USB. So congratulations - your analog issues have been abstracted away but someone made the dev board, and when your design doesn't work you'll be pulling out a o-scope that costs more than a car to debug. And I some point I promise you'll be analog scoping waveforms.

Comment: Digital is only digital if analog is right (Score 5, Insightful) 236

by Big_Breaker (#47228833) Attached to: Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Part of "Digital", the lowest level of digital, is a contract concerning how signalling between transistors occurs. This includes timing, rise and hold times, voltage thresholds and current. I'll include avoidance of race conditions, clock distribution, refresh cycles on DRAM and temperature effects as a side car. These are all design constraints that make sure the 1s and 0s working properly. It's only when you have a 99.99999999% solid digital contract that you can begin the digital side of the design.

All of this digital design is solidly analog and will NEVER go away.

I could make another whole post about the absurdity of traditional "analog" going away. All these mobile devices have some amazing RF design going on from the antenna down to the mixed signal SoC. Analog is everywhere and at the core of every electronic gadget.

Hacking's just another word for nothing left to kludge.

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