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Comment: Good grief.... (Score 1) 6

by GreatDrok (#49145031) Attached to: Slashdot site redesign

OK, so the post, moderate etc buttons are green text on a green background, and the stories list on the home page doesn't have the old 'more' button but instead has 'days' which frankly don't work because I'm in a country that is a day ahead of the US so 'today' is yesterday and I have to read thursday to get friday etc. Bring back the more button. Don't get me started on how messed up the layout is in Safari - I'm having to use Chrome just to get the thing to be legible.

Comment: Obligatory Red Dwarf quote (Score 4, Funny) 506

by GreatDrok (#49140033) Attached to: Machine Intelligence and Religion

Dave Lister: Sometimes I think it's cruel giving machines a personality. My mate Petersen once brought a pair of shoes with artificial intelligence. Smart Shoes, they were called. It was a neat idea. No matter how blind drunk you were, they would always get you home. Then he got ratted one night in Oslo, and woke up the next morning in Burma. See, the shoes got bored just going from his local to the flat. They wanted to see the world, man, y'know? He had a helluva job getting rid of them. No matter who he sold them to, they'd show up again the next day! He tried to shut them out, but they just kicked the door down, y'know?

Arnold Rimmer: Is this true?

Dave Lister: Yeah! Last thing he heard, they'd sort of, erm, robbed a car and drove it into a canal. They couldn't steer, y'see.

Arnold Rimmer: Really?!

Dave Lister: Yeah. Petersen was really, really blown away by it. He went to see a priest. The priest told him, he said, it was alright, and all that, and the shoes were happy, and they'd gone to heaven. Y'see, it turns out shoes have soles.

Comment: Re:Realistic (Score 1) 356

by GreatDrok (#49129831) Attached to: The Groups Behind Making Distributed Solar Power Harder To Adopt

Here (NZ), we use a lot of hydro power. In fact the electricity company I use is 100% renewables. The benefit of hydro is you can also use it as a battery and use excess generation from houses with rooftop solar to pump water back up into the reservoir storing the energy for use at night when solar doesn't work. Here we've also been having a series of dry spells which have caused issues with the reservoirs emptying too quickly and running the risk of blackouts, and again having distributed solar on houses will help a great deal to conserve the energy stored in the hydro lakes.

I've just taken out a loan to reroof my house and put solar up and I will be selling the excess energy back to the supplier - the savings will cover my usual electricity bill and offset the cost of the extra debt but then again I had to get a new roof anyway as the current one is leaking so why not put solar up at the same time? Sure, I'll still have to pay for the connection but in the end it is a win win. More to the point, next year I plan on getting a fully electric car to replace the current petrol model (we rarely do more than 50Km a day so it will be ample) and that will also be charged off the roof so I'll save a good chunk of money there. Most of our electricity use is during the day anyway because that is when we run our AC units mostly. A bit of thought and we can be rid of fossil fuels.

Comment: Programming or 'computer skills' training? (Score 4, Insightful) 120

by GreatDrok (#49022891) Attached to: Arkansas Declares a High School CS Education State of Emergency

When I was a school (many many years ago) computers were metal boxes with black and white (or green) screens and a flashing cursor. That's it. We were taught logic, binary and all that stuff. In school. We learned structured programming, some minor graphics but mostly it was how to do calculations, and make decisions etc. That set me up to pick up multiple programming languages over the years, and I moved from 8 bit through to 64 bit computers with ease. A decade or so after I had finished, schools were focussing on teaching computer skills which pretty much focussed on how to do 'things' in Windows or on a Mac and no-one knew jack about how the computer worked, especially the teachers. The result has been a generation of people who really know nothing about computers or computer science. If we taught other sciences like this we would still be thinking of elements like 'air' and 'fire' etc. Students need to know what is going on rather than skipping all that and focussing on making powerpoints.

Comment: Some glitches but still good (Score 1) 2

by GreatDrok (#48851237) Attached to: Questions Raised About Apple Software Quality

I've got a couple of Macs along with the usual iPhone and iPad combination and while the upgrade to Yosemite had some issues for me these were entirely related to older software with incompatible kexts and resulting kernel panics on a regular basis. Once I found the offending item the panics stopped and the machine affected has been fine since. I was a beta tester on Yosemite and have used it as my primary OS since the start of the beta and all in all it has been way better than the likes of Tiger which was terrible when it came out (you could only open a shell once out of about five tries up until 10.4.7 which fixed it) so I don't think the quality is getting any lower in my experience.

Comment: Disk Utility (Score 1) 1

I've used the Mac's built in Disk Utility multiple times to image my HDs onto new SSDs and then they've been a simple drop in replacement but you're right, the activated commercial software may well refuse to run.

Adobe uses FLEXnet I believe and that does take a fingerprint of the hardware specifically to stop users from duping discs. The company I work for also uses FLEXnet and when a customer encounters this, their software won't work on the new drive and they have to reactivate on the internet with their original license key and often they run out of activations in which case they need to call our support line so we can identify the old dead activation from their old drive and release it for them.

Comment: Re:Quality vinyl pressings are still rare (Score 1) 278

by GreatDrok (#48723263) Attached to: Vinyl's Revival Is Now a Phenomenon On Both Sides of the Atlantic

I was buying CDs from 1986 and I certainly had discs which were 70 mins long even then so there certainly were discs longer than 45 mins. It was true that some discs threw the early players for six, but worse than that was the utterly terrible sound of both these early discs and early players. Without oversampling, the brick wall filters produced horrible audible artefacts, and there were real problems with the ADCs used in mastering the discs too. CDs sounded really rough throughout the 80's and it wasn't until the 90's that we started getting recordings on CD that were even close to audiophile quality, plus there were some nice players at that point which paid attention to the analogue components and PSU isolation to prevent electronic noise getting through to the speakers. I had a 16bit 16x oversampling, 8 DAC player at the time which was the first player I had heard that really did sound decent (Cambridge CD2) and compared to the usual CD players it was amazingly good. The whole digital is digital thing was wrong when it came to everything after the DAC, and even the DACs made a big difference. The first time I heard the oversampling players compared with my first gen Sony it was a revelation and the Sony got dumped shortly after with the Technics MASH unit, and then that got dumped for the Cambridge.

Comment: Re:Quality vinyl pressings are still rare (Score 1) 278

by GreatDrok (#48723241) Attached to: Vinyl's Revival Is Now a Phenomenon On Both Sides of the Atlantic

The main problem with the replay of vinyl in the future will be getting a working turntable because belts and other polymer components degrade over time just because. My current turntable is 25 years old and it still works fine but I worry about the drive belt and cartridge. However, the strong demand for vinyl suggests I'll still be able to source replacements for some time to come, just as I can easily replace the 6L6 valves in my amp (also 25 years old) whereas a transistor amp of that age would likely be junked if it failed. As for CDs that failed, I was a LaserDisc owner (still am, don't like to get rid of old formats) and laser rot was well known with those analogue discs and it also afflicts CDs where the aluminium oxidises and no longer reflects so the disc just stops playing. With LD it was obvious when it was happening because you got colour flecks on the screen, but with CD it should play fine until it doesn't.

Anyway, I'm preserving my old equipment and formats for the future as best I can. Sadly, it looks like my NAD cassette deck may have had it if I can't replace the capstan belt which literally fell to pieces when I tried it. Getting the transport apart and back together to put the replacement in is going to be an interesting exercise based on what I've seen having partially dismantled it. Like CDs, tapes don't have a long shelf life so vinyl may well be the best format for long term storage.

One last comment on the degradation of records - what you were hearing was the mould release agent, basically like a grease layer to allow the pressing to be removed from the mother easily and each time you play the record you move that into the grooves where it picks up dust and also smothers the fine details. Remove that stuff with a solvent and you'll find the vinyl doesn't wear out and it will sound brand new. I've run many 'worn out' records through a solvent cleaner and they come out amazing. A good turntable (mine is an Opus 3 Continuo, in fact it is the prototype for that model) will not suffer from rumble and will also minimise surface noise such that many people couldn't even tell it wasn't a digital source due to the lack of background noise, especially on a cleaned and cared for LP.

Comment: Quality vinyl pressings are still rare (Score 3, Interesting) 278

by GreatDrok (#48719361) Attached to: Vinyl's Revival Is Now a Phenomenon On Both Sides of the Atlantic

I noticed our local JB hifi has got a whole section of vinyl so had a leaf through. Most of the albums I already have on LP from when they were new and they cost a lot but it is still nice to see. The real problem LPs had back in the late 80's was the quality of the pressings because they were so mass produced and the vinyl was thin plus they were trying to squeeze a CDs worth of music onto the LP so you got shallow grooves and crushed dynamics making them sound much worse than they could. Given the choice between CD and those terrible LPs from that period the CD is hands down the better choice. If these new pressings are done right, they should sound very good assuming the source material is good and I have a few direct to disc LPs which are incredible. I don't tend to use my turntable these days but I have still got it, plus my collection and hope to have the right space to set it up because the experience of listening to a record isn't just about the quality but rather you end up listening to the whole album as a complete piece of work where with CDs or MP3s you would focus more on tracks

Comment: Games were the death of programming (Score 4, Interesting) 110

by GreatDrok (#48544553) Attached to: Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

While early computers had very limited graphics and usually no sound, the arrival of colour and sound (er beeps) resulted in a large number of games and kids at the time clamoured to get a spectrum, C64 or whatever because it was a games machine and nothing else to them. Sure, you could program them but very few did. I started on a Commodore Pet (horrible BASIC) and went through the Sinclairs, the BBC Micro and then onto UNIX machines skipping PCs entirely (at least until Linux came along) and what I appreciated about all these was the ability to program them (same goes for Linux) but I was a minority.

The sad thing is once you got to PCs and GUIs, programming was largely a thing of the past. My son just got interested in computers and asked me to teach him to program so I pulled my actual Spectrum out and gave it to him. Sadly, age hasn't been kind to the hardware so the modulator failed and wouldn't display a picture. I bypassed that and got composite video out but in the process the keyboard membrane cracked so I had to order a new replacement (yay for retro computer fans) and it works again. He's getting on well and hasn't really shown interest in games on it. I did load up Manic Miner for a laugh but it was awful. I forgot how precise you had to be.

I just wish this was a real Spectrum with a keyboard. As it stands, meh. Emulators are also hard work without the real keyboard.

Comment: Confession - I didn't like Interstellar (Score 3, Insightful) 289

by GreatDrok (#48492213) Attached to: Physicist Kip Thorne On the Physics of "Interstellar"

I can't be alone in not liking this film. It wasn't the science (there was obviously a lot of work done there) that bothered me, and besides which with Sci Fi you always get a 'gimme' or two (warp drive, transporters, technobabble etc) but I really didn't feel anything with the story. It didn't draw me in, it just dragged. This wasn't what I was expecting as I had been looking forward to this film since I saw the first teaser. I see so many people going on about who great this film was but I can't help but wonder what it was that I missed?

Comment: Re:4k is twice the resolution, not 4x (Score 1) 158

by GreatDrok (#48138529) Attached to: Netflix To Charge More For 4K Video

4K does not have 4x the resolution. I don't care what sounds sexier, there's truth in advertising and 4K is only twice as sharp. You want 4x sharper, you need 8K and don't worry, once you've spent a good chunk of cash on the 4K set, they'll be there telling you it is obsolete and you need to upgrade again to 8K because, because, oh whatever, give us more money you peasant!

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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