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Comment: Re:Brian Krebs received one & posted it... (Score 1) 249

by hey! (#48605663) Attached to: Sony Demands Press Destroy Leaked Documents

The lawers' grasp of the rules of English capitalization does not inspire confidence:

“SPE does not consent to your possession, review, copying, dissemination, publication, uploading, downloading, or making any use of the Stolen information, and to request your cooperation in destroying the Stolen Information,”

It reads like a bad fantasy novel full of Portentous Capitalization.

Comment: Re:Doubt it (Score 1) 294

by hey! (#48596555) Attached to: Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever"

I thought what made the original Blade Runner so powerful was the way it depicted subjective experience as both precious and ephemeral. When you reach the stage of your life when you begin to confront your mortality, you're painfully aware that the most precious things you've accumulated are memories, and how one instant those memories will be here, and the next they'll be gone forever.

I expect the sequel won't be as good as the original, simply because of regression to the mean. The original was something special, and it's simply not possible to manufacture that. In Hollywood they try, they hire the smartest, most talented, most attractive people, make them work like hell and hope for a miracle. But we all know that model doesn't produce greatness, it produces adequacy, on an operatic scale.

Still, while it's a reasonably safe bet the sequel will fall short of the original, you can't be completely sure. Lighting does sometimes strike the same place twice. I agree the plot outlined doesn't look so promising, but you never know.

Comment: Re:Not really missing vinyl (Score 5, Insightful) 431

by hey! (#48594387) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

I grew up in an urban, blue collar neighborhood in the 60s; we didn't have much (any) exposure to live music. But my mom had that depression era better-yourself ethic, so she amassed a fairly complete record collection of classical "standards", and bought a pretty good component stereo to play them on. But I never saw her listen to any of them. Having these meant we were cultured people to her, but she was too busy getting things done to waste time sitting around listening to music.

I on the other hand had plenty of time, and listened to everything. When I was older I saved up my paper route money and bought a high end audio-technica cartridge, then began adding to the record collection.

When I was sixteen I got a job at the hospital which paid good money; 20 hours a week at $3.75/hr which was good money back in 1977. I took my new found wealth and bought my very first opera tickets. I remember sitting in the audience and being shocked when the music just came out of nowhere, without the preliminary low hissing and popping I associated with the start of music. But that was nothing to what followed.

The music had color, depth and dimension I'd never imagined music having. Even though by then I had a pretty good sound system, what came out of it was a washed-out echo of the real thing. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I can't describe it, except to say that if music coming off a vinyl record was a strong cup of coffee, then live music would be shooting cocaine directly into your veins.

That experienced killed my budding audiophile tendencies. To this day if I had a thousand dollars to spend on music, I'd spend it on performance tickets rather than upgrading my sound system.

As for CDs, they seem to be all over the place to me. Early on there were a lot of bad CDs because of bad engineering. Some were released with their vinyl oriented RIAA equalization intact, which is just plain dumb. People like to argue about technology, but I think recording engineering is an often overlooked factor in what comes out of your speakers. I have an MP3 album of the original cast recording of "Hair", and it sounds great over a good pair of earphones. It's not because of some kind of magical MP3 pixie dust, it's because the original recording was done so competently. If something is missing in the original master tapes, no amount of lossless encoding and copper-free speaker cables will conjure it back.

Comment: My experience with this kind of hardware (Score 4, Interesting) 109

by hey! (#48591731) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Software To Revive PocketPCs With Windows Mobile 5-6?

I had a pair of clients who were primate researchers. In late 2006 they went into the Tanzanian bush with a bunch of Dell Axim X5s, which we chose over the sleeker, more modern X50s because of the lower price and the availability at the time of a superb third party aluminum case. The differences between the X5 and X50 were mainly skin-deep; a chunkier PDA was actually a bit nicer to use in the field.

They carried the computers and PDAs along with a sophisticated solar-powered field biology lab to their research site via motorized canoe, then by native bearers -- just like in the old Tarzan movies. Then I didn't hear from for two and a half years, except for a message that bandits had stolen their stuff and could we send replacement hardware, which we did. I was very gratified to learn that the data backup procedures I recommended worked -- that the principal investigators always carry an SD card with an up-to-date backup of all the expedition data on their persons. Previous experience supporting field researchers in Africa suggested that anything not nailed down was bound to disappear over the course of two years.

When they returned in 2009, they were agog. They'd gone into the bush with the most advanced consumer technology available. When they came back nobody was carrying PDAs anymore, there were iPhones everywhere. The left before the iPhone was announced and returned after everybody had one, and when they saw the user interface, there were staggered. They were like Rip Van Winkle waking up in a strange new world.

As for the poster's question, as a geek I totally understand it, but from a perspective of someone who actually developed for the platform professionally, there's little attraction to working with these devices when you can get an 4.3 inch Android "tablet" for under fifty dollars, and its so much more easier and more enjoyable to develop for. There was some really nice hardware built to run pocketpc, but pocketpc itself was mediocre in the extreme. I certainly tried the Linux ports that were available, but there really wasn't a compelling reason to use them, however, other than the novelty of having Unix on the palmtop. But they didn't deliver a better handheld experience (as iOS and Android do).

I'd still consider old-school hardware for sending into the bush for several reasons. The first is a removable battery. You're in the middle of a series of observations that will make your career (this often happens in field research) and your battery goes dead. So you carry a spare, which is more convenient and cost effective. The second reason is the SD card. You finish those career-making observations and head back to camp, but you drop your device into a deep, rocky gorge. With an SD or microSD card you just pop the card with your data out and it's just a minor mishap. Third, something a little more bulky than a razor-thin smartphone is better when you're chasing a troop of chimps through the jungle, your device in hand ready to record an observation at any instant.

You can of course get android devices which have the virtues of old-school hardware, but they're not mainstream -- in other words they're pricey. Back when the X5 was being manufactured, it was being sold to people to keep their address books on. And it sold by the gazillions, which meant on a unit price basis it was a bargain. Scientists often have awesome tech, but it's because they absolutely need it. They don't have money to throw at inessentials. So it was really nice to be able to load our guys up with tons of bargain consumer tech. If they busted an X5 they could just grab a spare out of the crate. It was as close to my perfect world as I believe we'll ever be, where data is priceless but hardware is disposable.

I got boxes of tech like this in my attic: Apple Newtons, Dell Axim x5s and X51s, practically every generation of Palm Pilot, very early proto-smart phones that ran "Windows CE", a ruggedized Trimble pocket pc with high accuracy DGPS built in. They all work too. And if anyone could do something interesting with them, it'd be me, because I developed for all of these devices back in the day. But I'm not going to bother. Modern platforms are more capable, more fun, easier to share your results with others.

Hardware is like fresh fish. You should buy it just before you need it, then use it right away before it begins to stink.

Comment: Re:Fire all the officers? (Score 1) 512

by hey! (#48585821) Attached to: Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

Sure. My point is we've always had a certain number of bad cops. I think that the war on drugs and badly conceived "broken windows" policies have magnified their impact to the point where its intolerable in many places to the point where these individuals are threatening social order.

On the other hand, I believe that some day historians will look back at the advent of widespread cellphone video cameras as the greatest development in American civil liberties since the Voting Rights Movement.

Comment: Re: so let me get this straight... (Score 1) 157

by hey! (#48585675) Attached to: Google Closing Engineering Office In Russia

This is not whistleblowing. This is treason, pure and simple

People use that word, not because of what it means, but because of how something makes them feel. The word "treason" actually has a specific meaning. you can't bandy it around because you don't like something, or even because an act happened to aid the enemy. The perpetrator's intent is critical -- and it's not enough for that intent to be wildly misguided. If the perpetrator's intent was to support and defend the Constitution, or to prevent war crimes, it makes no difference whether you think that intent was misguided. It's his opinion that matters to the charge of treason, not yours.

If it's worth hacking on well, it's worth hacking on for money.