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Comment: A Question about Chromecast stream resolution (Score 1) 82

When I stream video from Netflix, the server chooses an encoding and resolution specific to the device running their client software. I assume that other video streaming servers behave in the same manner: why stream HD to a 320x800 display?

In the case of the Chromecast which is presumably displaying to a 1920x10820 display, is there some sort of passthrough signalling that will let the streaming device use a more appropriate resolution? Or do I only get the same resolution as the intermediate device?

On a related note, can somebody tell me why this device is desirable? I'm still struggling with the use case here. What is the benefit of Chromecast over something like teeny little wdtv box? It's smaller and cheaper but does a lot less.

Comment: Great! Cheaper junk. (Score 1) 322

by KeithH (#44445481) Attached to: Study Finds 3D Printers Pay For Themselves In Under a Year
This sounds like it is just what the world needs. Is this stuff economically recyclable? And is the material environmentally benign?

I find it depressing that everybody is so excited about cheaper plastic junk. I'd rather invest in an "unMakerBot" that consumed household clutter.

Now the printed trachea that saved that girls life: that's a worthwhile application of this technology!

Comment: Already the case for Queen's University Engineers (Score 1) 564

by KeithH (#44110909) Attached to: Why Engineering Freshmen Should Take Humanities Courses
When I was in engineering at Queen's University (Kingston, Ontario) in the mid-80s, it was already mandatory for students to take a humanities course each year (after the first). I took introductory Classics, Philosophy, and Religion. They weren't bird courses but they were a nice break from the applied maths and science courses that filled the rest of my life.

Of course, some engineers gamed the system by taking the Logic course from the Philosophy Department.

Comment: If you could automate solving IT problems (Score 1) 146

by KeithH (#43784917) Attached to: Immigration Reform May Spur Software Robotics

then why do we have the problems in the first place?

Seriously, if the problems are that easy to solve, then why aren't they pre-emptively detected and repaired by some of the bloatware installed on enterprise machines these days?

I strongly suspect that this will simply be slightly more sophisticated automated call routing with voice recognition - in otherwords, just a way of delaying the costly, but still inevitable, point where one needs to talk to a human with a clue (i.e. knows where to route the ticket).

As most of us are aware, the standard IT support strategy for the truly meaty problems is simply to delay, delay, delay, until the customer gives up and goes away. Certainly, that's how HP does it (using well-meaning Indian, Malaysian, Costa Rican, and Bulgarian staff who don't have the authority to actually investigate problems).

Comment: I've been blocking 3P cookies for years (Score 5, Insightful) 106

by KeithH (#43752719) Attached to: Mozilla Delays Default Third-Party Cookie Blocking In Firefox

and have never noticed a problem. This has always struck me as a no-brainer and it's annoyed the hell out of me that I have to modify the setting on every platform for each of my five family members.

I can't wait for them to change the default behaviour and I'll be very interested to see if they uncover any side effects that could conceivably be considered undesirable by the user.

My biggest worry is what the websites might do to circumvent the change.

Comment: The study results are very believable (Score 1) 262

by KeithH (#43599959) Attached to: Siri's Creator Challenges Texting-While-Driving Study
Talking on a phone is different from talking to the passenger beside you. When one talks to a remote person, the brain creates a remote environment and moves its attention to that space. I'm not sure what is going on neurologically but the effect is very strong and I don't see an easy way around the problem. Perhaps we need to create an avatar for the other party that sits beside the driver in the car.

Comment: It's about time (Score 1) 248

by KeithH (#43593105) Attached to: In Canada, a Government-Backed Electronic Currency
I'm fed up with banks, Paypal, Interac, and other middlemen taking a cut of every transaction. My governments have a legal right and a need to tax us but I didn't sign up for a 3% premium on all goods just to benefit the banks. I don't particularly trust my government but I don't distrust them as much as banks and other commercial enterprises.

Comment: The author is confusing intelligence with ability (Score 1) 629

by KeithH (#43561015) Attached to: Why We'll Never Meet Aliens

The author writes How would you change if you were twice as smart as you are now...Or whenever it is you'll think we'd have the technology to travel to another solar system

Having the technology to travel to another solar system does not necessarily require a super-human intelligence. The author's conclusion may be correct but not due to this very weak argument.

One might instead argue that a race that has the capability of travelling to another solar system would be strongly motivated to do so simply because they have nearly exhausted the mysteries of their own system.

Consider an extremely long-lived race with a very slow metabolism. Unlike humans, they might very well have the patience for such a long trip and and a biological advantage that makes the prospect less daunting.

And back on the topic of intelligence, my experience is that curiosity is strongly correlated with intelligence. Furthermore, what would be the imperative driving the development of such intelligence? It would most likely be either curiosity or a threat. In either case, migration/exploration is likely.

Comment: Why I still use Perl (Score 3, Informative) 379

by KeithH (#42727947) Attached to: Perl's Glory Days Are Behind It, But It Isn't Going Anywhere
In a nutshell, I still use Perl heavily because I get paid to produce software - mostly embedded realtime telecom s/w but also a lot of tools as well. Pragmatism dictates that I use the tools with which I am proficient and which are universally available. Twenty years ago, I had to use Bourne shell more than I liked because I could only count on the availability of /bin/sh. Now, I have the luxury of being able to expect /bin/perl (version 5 no less). This counts for a lot in an environment where my hundreds of colleagues and I use hundreds of different servers with different operating systems, distributions, versions, and architectures. Yes, there is a lot to complain about with Perl but at the end of the day, Perl is still an excellent tool for many many problems and won't disappear from industrial applications any time soon.

Comment: Being brilliant doesn't excuse crude behaviour (Score 1) 1223

by KeithH (#41478045) Attached to: Torvalds Uses Profanity To Lambaste Romney Remarks
His points may be correct but his coarse behaviour reflects poorly on him. I like Linux. I love Git. I think he's brilliant. But I don't think he's a particularly nice or admirable person. And, because he is a public figure, I think his comments reflect poorly on the community that he (in part) represents. Didn't his mom ever scold him for potty mouth? Or is that an unpalatable trait that he acquired to voice his arrogance?

Comment: Consider MSEE a "fix" for broken windows. (Score 1) 515

by KeithH (#41448321) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Actual Best-in-Show For Free Anti Virus?
An entire industry was spawned because Windows was conceived without security in mind. Now that Microsoft is redressing the oversight, I don't think many people outside the third-party AV industry will be crying foul. I'm no fan of Microsoft but I'm happy with MSSE and do not foresee an antitrust suit because of it.

Comment: It's all about the libraries (Score 1) 193

by KeithH (#40932095) Attached to: Will Online Learning Disrupt Programming Language Adoption?
It's more important to provide a rich suite of libraries such as "CPAN".

Students (and new-grads) aren't realistically going to have that great an influence in most business environments.

Most programmers will happily learn a new language for personal interest but before they start using it professionally, they need all manner of additional features such as support from third party libraries, code analysis tools, IDEs and SCMs, and debugging tools.

That is a steep barrier to entry.

E Pluribus Unix

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