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Comment FairPhone 2 (Score 2) 109

I'm hoping tablet and laptop versions soon follow so I can mix and match more modules over time. and I'll get multiples of them, too. it just makes sense to be able to repair them year after year, instead of buying another bloatware crap machine.

You should definitely check out the FairPhone 2.

Ease of repair has been one of the main argument for FairPhone 1 & 2.
For the second model, they are currently going to a a modular design to make it even more easy to fix, and to give the possibility to swap module in the future for added features.

Comment FairPhone2 (Score 1) 109

And yet, the Fairphone 2 has been designed is currently pre-selling. The prototypes are working, they are just gathering money to ramp up production.

- Where is consumer demand for such a device? Consumers are becoming dumber; they are flat out finding a power button, let alone selecting complex modules for a phone. This makes it a niche market device, thus low volume, thus expensive.

Modular design, means easier to repair just by swapping modules. (And ease to repair is one of the main argument for FairPhone 1 & 2).

- Connectors in any design are one of the common fail points. In this design you have lots of them.

As opposed to the ribbon connector of which you're going to have plenty in modern smart phone ?
At least the interconnects of module phone currently being produced tend to be sturdy.

Comment Not double blind (Score 1) 586

So we provide him with a fake Faraday cage, that doesn't keep anything out.

For the study to be double blind you (the person building the 2 cages both the real and the true, and deciding on which day the child uses which one) must keep the information isolated.
The person handing/seting up the cage in the morning should NOT know whether the fake or an actual cage was handed out.
And only reveal the fake after the child has had a significant number of session using each.

It's a child. Children *can* be very sensitive to body language. The child could be suspicious of the smirk on your face when handing the fake cage.

Comment Precision (Score 1) 157

Actually, Apple neatly solved the whole problem in 2007 by doing away with the need for an ignorant stylus altogether.

Earlier PDA *could* also be operated with fingers. Resistive touch screen doesn't *require* a stylus. (Early Tomtom GPS were entirely finger operated resistive touch screens - no stylus available at all).

The stylus is simply an option for when you need more precision.
(To draw more precisely sketches, or operate smaller parts of UI).

What Apple did is doing away with the *precision*. (Hence the "on/off" sliders they've introduced in iOS. Much easier to operate than check boxes when using big fingers on a small screen).

A capacitive screen is a lot more coarse. You can't draw accurate sketches by finger painting. Apple's action have been a step back for PDA, making iPhone / iPodTouch a lot less good e.g. at taking notes during university lectures.
That made perfect sense for Apple (all they wanted is simply making phones / music players. Their main competitor wasn't Palm PDAs, it was candy bar phones & MP3 players. You didn't need a pen to operate a phone or an older iPod, why suddenly would you need one once they switched to touch screens ?).
But that's a big loss for PDA (they're the electronic descendent of paper note pads, personal organisers. i.e.: objects on which you write a lot. Stylus simply felt as the natural descendent of pens).

Samsung is simply trying to find a way to reintroduce the functionality in modern smart-phones. Give back the note taking ability of former PDAs. Thus they wanted to add the option for a stylus. They just went for way too much bling (flush to the body, complex ejection mechanics, etc.)

Comment and solved last century already (Score 4, Insightful) 157

This is a perfect example of over-engineering; designing something for flash rather than functionality. {...} What is wrong with a simple slot for the pen? Why do you need an ejection mechanism? All that does is add unnecessary parts and over complicate the design.

And even last century, when Palm launched its first PDA, it featured a notch on the side (imitating the pocket-clip that actual pen have) making it physically impossible to insert it the wrong way, and making easy to extract the pen without any physical retention mechanism (no need for complex mechanism. Just push the notch that protrudes out of the PDA body).

It's funny how more or less 20 years ago, the first PDA makers more or less got everything right.

And suddenly, since Apple's introduction of iPhone, everyone seems to have gone stupid and needs to re-solve the same problems.

It reminds me of the Tesla and people getting locked out of their cars because someone thought it would be a good idea to have retracting door handles (complete with all the moving parts that can break down).

And even, in the case of Tesla, that's still semi-justified. As it is a car, and needs to optimise for drag to increase effciency and fuel (or in this specific case: battery) consumption.
Car manufacturers have gone as far as making the 2 side mirrors differing in lenght a few milimeters, just to optimise for drag thus compensating the typically assymetric weight balance inside the car and shaving a few liters down per 100km.
Compared to that having door handles retracting flush doesn't seem far fetched at all.

(Tesla only need enough redundancy to be able to open it: if the retractable door handle mechanism fails, you still have several wireless way to open it - app or remote. Or if all the fancy electronics have failed - passive RRFID. In the case of electric failure in the car, the system still have a backup 12v battery to operate the doors. And in case of 12v failure, you can still charge/boost from the outside. At that point if even that fails, the event is so rare that smashing a window in an emergency [the "baby got stuck inside during a heat wave" scenario] seems acceptable)

Meanwhile, you don't really need flush body for a smart-phone - elevating its theoretical terminal velocity doesn't serve any sane purpose. And a backup solutions whould have been completely doable (either the notch as in Palm PDAs, or having a pin hole at the opposite side to push the stylus out).
But still, Samsung managed to create a useless feature, with no backup plan in case of failure.

Comment Energy bottleneck (Score 1) 105

Usually, the bottleneck associated with bigger brain isn't lifespan, but energy expenditure.

Bigger brain eat up more energy and that must be balanced regarding cost/benefit.
- How much more food would an animal X find with the bigger brain vs. how much more food would the animal need to eat to sustain this brain ?

"bigger brain" mutation don't happen that much in the wild, and usually are being done by labs partly for this reason:
because lab mice are guaranteed to receive suffisient food and not starve.

humans are a bit of an exception in the animal kingdom:
we have co-evolved our brains together with our tool-usage and society and civilisation.
in modern civilisation we have access to much more food (too much if you look at the obesity tendency in the western world).
to the point that the bottleneck isn't the energy anymore.

Thus, contrary to other animals, and thanks to agriculture, crops growing, food preservation techniques, cooking, etc.. human can afford having a brain whose gluttonous baseline energy consumption is around 20% of the whole body.

Comment Same counter example (Score 1) 314

For instance, 0.25 hours * 300 employees * â10 per hour = â750 per day that they're spending on conversion. And that assumes the average wage is â10/hour; I would guess it's more.

And using the same counter example, that also means that - by my burping and farting example - burps and farts cost the government a whopping EUR 350 per days!!!
Let's outlaw burping and farting for employee in all branches of government, that will save the Greek economy!!!

In practice EUR 350 in a 100'000-big company is a drop of water in a bucket. Nobody with their right would buy your argument. Even thinking about your argument costs more money than the argument solves.


Same with EUR 750 for a 300-small company, that's probably in the same ball-park that they're going to save if they switch to different different brands for various office supplies.
Keep in mind that the total budget for all the 300 salaries for the same 8-hour day would be EUR 24k. It completely dwarfs the EUR 750 you mention.

So unless Microsoft caves in and gives them a good rebate on the Microsoft Office license (which they could do, and apparently did in this case) it's not really worth considering.
And even including such a cheap license, the overall impact on the company will probably the small.

It's a ridiculously small price to pay.
Because overall, it's only about 15min per workday.

Comment Depends... (Score 3, Interesting) 244

Human brain activity starts at ~12 weeks

And yet, some higher functionality, like the frontal lobe, only get fully developed and fully functional only *AFTER* birth.
(For some obvious space-saving reasons that got selected by evolution once we start to try walking upright).
That's why some toys are inappropriate for kids under 36 months old. The part of the brain that prevents them for choking on anything coming nearby their mouth isn't there yet.

The brain isn't a magical machine which a switch that suddenly get turned on at a set point in time.

It's a horrendously complicated machine that only gets to working very progressively and slowly over time, some parts finishing getting wired and myelinated (=electrically insulated) only after on the other side of the birth cannal, when size restrictions matter less.

At 12 weeks, even if a few neurons starts firing, you're far away from the complexity and awarerness of a full grown kids brain.
For fuck's sake, the baby won't have enough brain activity for such simple tasks as preventing itself to choke, and you expect a bunch of neural cells which have barely started to fire to be anything more intelligent than a cockroach ?!

Comment Absolute vs. relative (Score 2) 314

The same productivity loss as firing ten people.

Which, on the scale of the mentioned 300 people is barely above 3%.

You probably lose more than 3% of your time when you go peeing in the toilets or have a coffee break.

In most European jurisdictions, you can lose more than 3% productivity to sickness without even needing to justify it.


By the same logic, you probably lose 1 sec a day burping and farting.

In a company of 100'000 (like some big branches of the State), that's nearly 30 man hours lost per day. That's nearly one week. The same productivity loss as firing five people.

Thus one needs to outlaw burping and farting for anyone working for the Government !!!!

I mean, dude, do you even math?

Dude, proportions, do you even ?

Comment Re:Virtual Memory AND Flat memory model (Score 1) 231

But is this really any different from how 386 did things?

Yes, it is. 386 added a VMU. Means that the memory address you're manipulating and the actual position of the buffer on a memory chip or harddisk swapfile can freely varry.

Which, together with the larger address space offered by the 32bit architecture, offers the possibility to do "flat" memory model.
Where you allocate 4GiB worth of address and let the processes access wherever it wants.

Means that the typical DOS protected mode game saw simply the whole address range, including RAM and including the address range used by the GFX card. All at the same time.

A pointer to memory address can be thought of as consisting of two parts: a segment identifier and an offset within that segment. 386 and later simply uses lots of small, fixed-size segments called pages sized and arranged so that segment identifiers and offsets can be interpreted as contiguous numeric ranges, streamlining management and programming.

Well, except that in the 386, the VMU is an entirely different additionnal layer that sits between the segmentation (still present) and the physical RAM / devices.

You're free to use both segmenting and VMU at the same time, though most environment did decide to go for a Flat memory model and more or less ignore the segmentation.

(DJGPP's DOS Extender was an example: it still used segmentation in its GFX drivers. Either using segments to point to whichever address range the PCI card is mapping the frame buffer (for modern PCI card with a linear frame buffer). Or pointing to an arbitrary region of the address space, which is then paginated using virtual memory to the video memory bank - for older cards with a banked frame buffer accessed at a fixed physical address, one bank at a time)

Also pages have several restriction that segments doesn't have (their are fixed size, aligned, non over-lapping, can be accessed across boundaries between two pages in a single 32bit read, etc.)
And have completely different attributes associated with them.


at that point, the comparison completely breaks. It's like saying that orange are basically the same as apples, except that their skin is different, the seeds are not alike and the fruit flesh is not the same (whereas the only things they have in common is that they are fruits).

Comment Oh, the horror~~~ (Score 4, Interesting) 314


Excel (various macros used on tens of files)

Tens of files ? Oh my god that is sooooo many.... Hercules himself would be needed to sort through all of them.

And from the /. summary:

The management estimates that every day roughly 300 employees had to spend up to 15 minutes each sorting out such issues.

15 minute per employee ? That's so horribly long, it's almost as long as their daily coffee pause! They have surely logged tons of overtime because of this! Unpaid overtime! The Italian economy is crumbling because of the daily 15minutes it takes to fix a malformet .docx import into OpenOffice.org !!!


I can't decide if this is a disguised parody.
Or if Microsoft have decided to advertise *how easy* it is to actually switch to even an out-dated alternative like OpenOffice.org (not to mention that LibreOffice.org is getting more development and much more bugfixes)

15 minutes per day ? and 10 Excel file needing fixing ? Common, sound's like it's actually even easier than a major upgrade of MS Office itself.

Comment More precisely (Score 3, Informative) 231

To be more precise:

- ZRAM create a block device that's compressed. A bit like a regular ramdisk, except that it is compressed with LZO on the flight.
It can be used for anything that a block device can be.
Traditionnaly that has been compress swap in-memory, but could be used for anything else (you could put a temporary file system on it).
Swap-on-ZRAM effectively doubles the amount of RAM: allocate 256MiB for ZRAM, get probably ~512MiB of swap on it. i.e.: you can hold extra 256MiB in-RAM.

The draw back is that swap has no concept of ZRAM and can't intelligently fallback to harddisk. You just give some swap partition on ZRAM and on HDD. All the swap are filled according to their priority.
Thus you can end-up with poorly compressible data on ZRAM, or with older data that's seldom using on ZRAM while the more used data is swapped to HDD.

- Zswap : puts an extra compression stage in the swap system between RAM and Swap. Instead of swapping out memory straigh to disk-based swap, swaped-out pages are first compressed and put in a compressed store in-RAM, then once this store is full, the least-used compressed pages are sent to disk. as the swapping system is fully aware of this (it's an actual extra layer in it) it will correctly elect to write to disk least recently used part of the compressed stage.

Another advantage is that Zswap can use any compression algorithm supported by the kernel. That includes LZ4 which is blinding fast and is usually IO-bound.
That means the CPU load doesn't suffer much, and in fact Swap-performance improves thanks to the saved bandwidth.

- Zcache : like Zswap. But instead of being an extra layer added only inside the swap-mecanism, Zcache can add similar intermediate store to other projects too (file cache, etc).

Comment Virtual Memory AND Flat memory model (Score 3, Informative) 231

this is a necessary step on any hardware that doesn't have virtual memory, regardless of operating system

That doesn't have virtual memory AND uses a flat memory model (i.e.: where there's a single huge continuous address space)
If the OS needs to move memory around (paging, etc.) the only solution is to change the pointer which need to point elsewhere in memory, hence the complicated handles and pointer on Mac's Classic System, on 68k PalmOS, etc.

Meanwhile, the PC's 286 also lacked a virtual memory (that did only came later with the 386), but used (and abused) the protected mode's segmented memory as a "poor's man virtual memory".
Protected mode memory was accessed through a segment: a "handle" pointing where the chunk actually stays in memory. (A bit more complex than the real mode segment of 8088/8086 which where just spead 16bytes appart).
The soft doesn't know much, it only uses the handle it was assigned to use. If the OS needs to move memory around, it just maps the segment to a different address space. The soft doesn't know and keeps using the same handle as before.

I'm not saying that the 286 architecture was better, just explaining a bit why Intel choose to stick with segments in protected mode.
(in fact the 68k architecture was better, being 32/16 bits hybrid and being able to handle pointer mapping any position in a flat memory representation, whereas the 286 was pure 16bits and required a mumbo-jumbo of segment to handle anything bigger than 64k)

The goal of science is to build better mousetraps. The goal of nature is to build better mice.