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Comment Plastic optical fiber (Score 1) 157 157

In addition to the "use ethernet over power line" (PLC = PowerLine Communication) as mentionned by the other,
there's also the solution of using optical fiber.

Recently there's been development in plain plastic optical fibers (POF) - the same cheap one that you use to carry digital audio, not the expensive glass ones (GOF).
(Though as they are only permeable to red light, and not so much to infra-red, you need a pair of them).

It's just a pair of fibers, so it much easier and more space saving than pulling Cat6 cables.

Latest generation of devices can carry gigabits link up to 25m with the cheapest plastic (PMMA) or even longer distance with newer plastics (perfluorinated polymers - which are also permeable to infrared, by the way).

Termination is super easy: there's none, you just plug the end of the fiber into a mecanical receptor. It's as complicated as plugging copper wires into a speaker.

Random example of constructor of gigabit transciever.

It has better an more stable signal than PLC, and wwaaaaayyyyyyyy better signal than wireless, though you still need to run cables through your wall.
It's much easier to run thourgh walls than ehternet Cat6, it's closer to running a pair of small coper wires for analog phones.

But if you can't even run a fiber, then go for PLC. Forget about Wifi for anything but the mobile devies that only have wireless (phones, tablets).
That will give you much stable connection overall, and leave much free bandwidth for the mobile devices.

Comment Other way around. (Score 2) 170 170

They announced an app for XBox One that lets you stream you PC games to your console.

Huh, no. It's the other way around.

- The thing anounced, that's coming is a way to stream games from the Xbox to windows 10 powered devices like tablets, laptops and/or desktops.

- The reverse direction PC tower streaming to living-room console (the same as stream) doesn't exist yet. It's not even being really developed yet.

Microsoft's head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, has revealed he likes the idea, and when we put the concept to a Microsoft representative at the Windows 10 launch, we were told that, while there is no release date, such an app is "in the pipeline."

For those who haven't been around for the last ~3 decades, that's usually MS-marketing speak for "We didn't see that one comming, but we'll pretend we're consider to evaluate public interest for that. Let's pretend that we'll make one to see if we can catch back the lost attention. If press and general interest seem to catch on, tell everyone that we actually did develop it and that we're about to publish it, any time soon.".

Comment "Don't buy it yet" strategy (Score 4, Insightful) 170 170

Somebody at Microsoft trying to breed a FUD strategy ("Don't buy SteamBoxes now, there's better 'planned in Microsoft's pipeline', it's gonna be much better: you'll see once it's there (eventually) you won't regret this, you're going to like it !).

Hmm..... I'm sure I've heard such stratgies before....
Where did it come from last time? Oh, yeah, from microsoft!

Comment PalmOS (Score 5, Informative) 171 171

However, current operating systems and programming techniques aren't up to this yet. It will take a long time.

PalmOS has been 100% RAM-only from the original Palm Pilot all the way up to Palm Thungsten III (Palm T5 with Flash, and Palm Live with a micro drive where the first to actually have a permanent main storage).
Everything is in-RAM, everything is stored in in-RAM databases. Data saving is immediate, etc.

(Also, although not so extreme:
lots of embed system, usually Linux-based, only have a minimal amount of ROM as sole storage and mainly work using RAM. Though they aren't completely in-RAM oriented and still use the concept of "files" and "storage", and thus make use of ramdisk (usually tmpfs) to hold files.
Still, that also machine which mainly count on RAM storage).

Comment Vorbis in video games, etc. (Score 1) 184 184

Now if you convinced Netflix, Google, Apple, Microsoft etc. to replace all their codecs with Xiph codecs, you would see patent lawsuits rolling in.

Because they are BSD licensed, various Xiph codecs like Vorbis are popular for storing soundtracks of video games.

FLAC is a popular audio codec in high-end HD-based digital autio players aimed at audiophiles.

Google did provide Thoera variants at some point in time (I don't know if they still do).

Nobody ever lost money following suit due on thr gound of these codecs.


The reason that Theora isn't that popular, is that currently H264 does provide a better image quality for a given bandwith and as most of the target audience already have a hardware chip supporting decoding (e.g.: in the tablet they use to watch Netflix) licensing doesn't matter much for them.

By asking for more money, H265 / HEVC is losing part of its attractiveness to H264. It compresses video better / gives more quality for the same compression. BUT costs more money.

On the long term all these are argument in favour of Daala : not only will it eventually produce even better compression (simply on the ground of being based on technology even more advanced), but is not covered by patents.

Comment Vorbis vs. Licensing terms of WMA (Score 5, Informative) 184 184

Flash the US device with the European ROM (which involved tricking the ROM installation program by switching ROM files after it did its check and before it did the install) and just like that the US device could play Vorbis. How MS bullied or bribed the manufacturer to omit Vorbis from the US ROM I don't know.

The bullying was done as part of the PlaysForSure program.

That was microsoft's attempt to counter music stores like iTunes and co. They had a platform for selling DRM-ed music in WMA format. OEMs had to undergo a certification to be able to advertise "Microsoft PlaysForSure". That mandated certain formats (support for DRM, support for WMA). It was worded in such a way that it basically forbid manufacturer to put any other codec on the device (see the "Criticisms" section. According to MS that was due to a junior employee who wrote it. Yeah. Sure.). It think the controversy was talked about back then here on /.

My opinion is that this probably started as an attempt to initially close loop-hole to avoid consumer playing non DRM-ed / unlicensed music (i.e.: pirated), but at the hand of MS executive quickly evolved as a way to attempt crushing competition.

That severly limited the spreading of non-WMA formats (free like Vorbis or FLAC. Or alternative licenses like Sony's ATRAC, etc.) because OEMs probably feared that including extra formats would exclude them from WMA certification and they would lose market share to manufacturer who didn't.
(Specially since back then, Vorbis didn't have any markets, it was mostly used for higher quality home rips. Whereas WMA had Microsoft's store and OEMs were hoping to have something against the iTunes behemoth).

Or mostly so in the US.

The rest of the world didn't give a damn fuck about microsoft's market (was is even available outside US ?) nor play for sure. People wanted mainly MP3 because that was the most widespread format, and adding extra formats was a way for OEM to put more tick box on their feature list. As such adding Vorbis was a win-win: it doesn't cost anything (and even had a BSD licensed integer implementation for embed available for free) and was one extra feature that they'll advertise to gain attraction. Every single asian no-name manufacturer did add it.

In Europe nearly every player I've seen in store did have Vorbis support.

That explains the dual ROM:
- one ROM to placate microsoft to get access to PlaysForSure in the US market.
- one ROM with as many features as possible cramed in to gain visibility everywhere else.

Comment More than one way.... (Score 1) 184 184

More than one way to do thing with compression.

But when you're designing your codec with one hand tied behind your back, it's not going to work as efficiently.

Yup, your hand is tied behind your back, but just as you try to work anyway, standing in another corner there's this other guy with an hindu name asking you if you need a hand. or six.

It might not work as efficiently if you try to achieve the exact same thing but are restricted in the methods you use*. But you can obtain very efficient result if you try something completely different. Then the patents won't even matter.

The realm of DCT it a patent mine field? Try something else.

Dirac/Schroedinger by BBC has show that you can use wavelets instead.

Daala by Xiph is on the way of showing that lapped transforms + perceptual vectors + range coding work too.

*:And even then in that situation, there might be efficient way to do the same thing while doing it differently enough to not be patented.
On2/Google/Xiph have repeatedly shown that with the various VPn codecs being close to the MPEG/H26x, with the patended bit swapped out.

Comment Xiph and lawsuits (Score 5, Informative) 184 184

Like that ever stopped patent lawyers.

Total number of lawsuits lost by Xiph for Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, Tarkin, Theora, etc.: 0

Yes, lawyer won't stop simply because it's different. They would dream to lawsuit Xiph into the ground. But so far they haven't found anything on any of the other technologies developed or taken over by Xiph.

The people at Xiph know their shit and if they say that a codec is using a non patented alternative technique, it is non patented.

Comment Complex question (Score 5, Informative) 312 312

I thought the narrative was that race doesn't exist? That we're all the same race?

Yup. We're all the same specie. "Race" is just an arbitrary label used to make convenient distinction among a group of individual that would other wise mate together : e.g.: breeds of dogs, etc.

How then is is possible that one can determine so called race by examining the genetic profile of a person?
Is it possible we were lied to and that race is indeed something that can be determined as a composition of genes and other genetic data?

Short answer: Nope, it's not possible.

Not so short answer: Well depend on what you define as "races" i.e.: you'll need to constantly redefine your arbitrary "race" label along as the set of gene that you try to use to map it. With that definition of "race" drifting farther and farther away from what biggots with an agenda would like it to be.

Long answer: Remember that the only valid real barrier is *specie*. i.e.: between groups that *cannot* mate together. Inside that division, all individual can mate together. Humans are specially good at that "mating" (well, maybe except some basement dweller): because from our dawn we've been one of the most mobile specie, only bested by birds and some big aquatic animals. Humans do tend to get around a lot. As a result our specie is constantly under heavy genetic mixing.

You can put some arbitrary labels (hey, let's put together individual that have darker skin tone in one big arbitrary bunch and call them niggers!)
You can even find some labels that are actually convenient (statistically, people who typically come from Caucasian ancestry tend to have a bit higher probability for some disease and a bit lower for others).

But if you got into the details, it starts to get muddy, you'll find that some people that you put in one of your arbitrary categories come from completely different lineage that split quite some time before, whereas other that you wanted to put out of that label actually share much more recent ancestry.
(That white supremacist biggot over there ? He want to be put in a special category, aside "non whites" ? well on the surface it might look like some vague idea like correlating it with skin pigmentation. Except that among those non-white he'll probably put native american, but also african and north african. And his grand-dad happens to be from an italian immigrant family, and over the course of history southern european have had a lot of exchange with northern africa. See where I'm heading ?)

So, in short what works well to separate breeds of dogs (which are bred in very controlled manners and you can somewhat keep something like a breed more or less pure) absolutely doesn't work with human that fuck around a lot.

Same for the genetics.
You'll be able to spot a few marker (let's say: a gene that helps control the base amount of melanin in the skin). But once you start using this, you'll notice that a lot of the "wrong people" end in the "wrong category".

That specific list of markers you've assembled together, will consider some of the white supremacists as non white (because of the complex mixed ancestry most people have) while failing to cast aside one of their usual target.

An idealist (like me) would dream that this would help some of the biggots to realise that we aren't that much different under the skin, we're so much mixed that there's a high probability that the biggot has a bit in their blood what their usual target is.

Saddly, the reality will be that they'll be still endlessly tweaking around their genetic definition of "race", to constantly keep itt more or less matching their agenda. They'll never have a definite set of markers, they'll constantly need to patch them. And over time it will evolve to something that at the genetic level doesn't remotely look like what they pretend to be (by the time they manage to include all their friend and exclude all their targets, melanin-related gene probably won't be significant as much as some weird genetic disease that happen to be differently distributed between the groups they consider).

So overall, the the genetic make-up of the population doesn't conveniently split it into separate races. Due to the constant intermixing over time, it's more or less a complex continuum with a few blurry tendencies that you could make here and there. We do tend to fuck around a lot. We're not arbitrarily bred into separate breeds. (Well except maybe in some very isolated cases, like royal families. You could probably manage something to genetically sort royalty in a few categories. Probably based on the distribution of hemophilia :-D )

Cue in all the various genetics and statistic studies that get reported on slashdot about most recent common genetic ancestror, etc.

Something that can be determined as a composition of genes and other genetic data?

There are *other* things that can be determined using a composition of gene.

Using the kind of approach mentioned the slashdot entry, it would be possible to make a control code that only allows a category like "most of the people with anemia".

i.e.: you could use it as a way to filter people based on the few disease that have a very simple and very well known genetic composition. (some of the anemias, some of the hemophilia, some form pulmonary cystic fibrosis, most of dawn syndrome, etc.)
and guess what: these *are* routinely used as medical tests.

with enough work you could also design something that could detect the eyes of elisabeth taylor. as in the real eyes or the real cleopatra actress.
a genetic signature specially crafted around the genetic make up of a specific individual.

and then, even that will probably report a few positive match in complete random people spread across random places on the world (most of whom will propably have the same more or less general shade of blue), while still failing to detect a few people who have very similar eye, but have a different set of genes that happen to have mixed in a different way but ending up with the same shade in result.

eye colour are polygenic (lots of genes contribute to them) and complex. same situation for all the other characteristics that a biggot might want to split races. environmental factors are also in play.

You can't make a perfect "this is a nigger" or "lynch / do not lynch" genetic test. The whole idea doesn't make any sense.

Comment Responsibilities (Score 1) 193 193

No, the drivers are the cab companies. Uber is a dispatcher or facilitator.

And its realistic, in that scenario, to expect that Uber is dispatching to drivers who have the necessary license and are enough covered by insurances.

How would you react if, when asking a hotel to book you a taxi, the receptionist call a shady thing (the boss' cousin's neighbours who just happens to own a car) instead of a legit and recognized company ?
I would similarily expect Uber to do a minimal check to make sure that the driver is following local rules.

Five is a sufficiently close approximation to infinity. -- Robert Firth "One, two, five." -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail