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Comment: Re:I'm an OK violinist (Score 5, Informative) 469

"Few multiples" of $10K won't buy you much in the range of around half the orchestral instruments. You'd be flat out trying to pay $30K for a pair of Clarinets or a trumpet, but the less popular instruments can get very, very pricey. As a bassoonist, many of our top of the line instruments are rather expensive. A good Fox or Heckel will be around $30K - 50K USD before custom keywork is factored in (can add up to $10K to the base price). My Fox Contra was, 10 years ago USD $30K so it would be significantly more than that to replace it now. If I was to purchase the same instruments here in Oz about triple that price in AUD.

Double basses and 'cellos also are upwards of $50K in the USA for good ones. Harpsichords also up over $30K for a reasonable one that wasn't assembled from a kit (lots in kit form for $15-20K). Harps also waaay up there in price. That's just from instruments I'm personally familiar with that I either play or someone in my family plays.

Comment: Re:Don't they have an fiber to the node cable netw (Score 1) 229

by Mithrandir (#45613457) Attached to: Australia's $44B Broadband Network May Settle For Fiber Near the Home

Friend of mine just moved into a new house that has NBN on it in NW Sydney. Fibre goes all the way to a termination box inside the garage and then he has standard cat6 ethernet ports connected to the fibre modem. No ability to have a fibre switch in there according to him.

Comment: Re:Downgrade rights (Score 1) 671

by Mithrandir (#40955135) Attached to: CowboyNeal Weighs In On the Windows 8 "Metro" GUI

Major problem there is the same as the mobile market - you have to write very fundamentally different code for a mobile and desktop. Some fascinating figures came out of this year's Siggraph. On the desktop you typically have up to 300W of power dedicated to graphics hardware. On a mobile device you have at most 1W (phone) or 5W (tablet). Those numbers will _never_ go up because anything more than that starts to fry your pocket or hand. So, the optimisation techniques that one uses to write a desktop app or game are extremely different to those written for a mobile device. There's just no getting around that at all.

One of the other interesting factors is that from a developer and graphics perspective now, except for the desktop gaming market, D3D is all but gone. I saw one mention of D3D at Siggraph this year, and that was because the chair of the panel was from MS. All those tablet/phone game writers were way over in the OpenGL ES camp. MS is trying to force the issue again like it's 1999 and now allowing OpenGL drivers on Win8, so you'll see how quickly the game studios will react to that - Even Valve were demoing OpenGL games this year that had better performance on Linux than on Windows on the same hardware according to their statements at one talk. Apart from business desktops, I don't see much more future market for the Microsoft and PCs. The games of interest are now appearing on mobiles and those developers are definitely not in the MS camp.

Summed up, it's a failed strategy and will do more to make people move away from MS than towards it.

Comment: Re:Maybe they did it wrong... (Score 1) 395

by Mithrandir (#34119226) Attached to: A Decade of Agile Programming — Has It Delivered?

You'd be surprised at how often point #2 cannot be assumed to be true. There are some personality types that just cannot see big picture stuff, despite how much you work on training them to see it. These are the detailed-oriented people who become fixated on minutae that they can't see big picture stuff.

Comment: Re:most people arent wired for math (Score 1) 427

by Mithrandir (#31619018) Attached to: BC Prof Suggests Young Children Need Less Formal Math, Not More

I'm wondering what that might make room for in the pre-7th curriculum.

Suggestions?

Have a look at what the Motesorri style of teaching does. I have a few relatives that are teachers (active and retired) in traditional schools and the younger ones are sending their kids there, rather than through the traditional system.

The Matrix

How The Matrix Online Went Wrong 144

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-like-this dept.
As the July 31st deadline for The Matrix Online's closure looms, Gamer Limit is running a story discussing the game's shortcomings, as well as some of the decisions that led to its failure. Quoting: "I honestly thought the writers must have absolutely hated the remaining cast of The Matrix Trilogy or something, because they constantly seemed to go out of their way to phase out existing characters in favor of newer ones. The cast overall basically made me, as a player, feel distant from the main storyline and made the entire game feel like a Matrix side story instead of the continuation it was meant to be. ... When MxO first launched there was an entire team dedicated to playing the game as Agents and other key characters as a means to further in-game events and directly interact with players, giving players the feeling that they truly were making a difference. After the SOE buyout of the game the LESIG team was reduced to playing minor characters before eventually being phased out and replaced with a Live Event Team (LET) comprised purely of volunteers."
Moon

Volunteers Recover Lunar Orbiter 1 Photographs 150

Posted by timothy
from the file-systems-are-important dept.
mikael writes "The LA Times is reporting on the efforts of a group of volunteers with funding from NASA to recover high resolution photographs of the Moon taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 in the 1960s. The collection of 2000 images is stored entirely on magnetic tape which can only be read by a $330,000 FR-900 Ampex magnetic tape reader. The team consisted of Nancy Evans, NASA's archivist who ensured that the 20-foot by 10-foot x 6-foot collection of magnetic tapes were never thrown out, Dennis Wingo, Keith Cowing of NASA Watch and Ken Zim who had experience of repairing video equipment. Two weeks ago, the second image, of the Copernicus Crater, was recovered."
Transportation

Boat Moves Without an Engine Or Sails 234

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-too-much-seaquest dept.
coondoggie writes "Researchers say technology they have developed would let boats or small aquatic robots glide through the water without the need for an engine, sails or paddles. A University of Pittsburgh research team has designed a propulsion system that uses the natural surface tension that is present on the water's surface and an electric pulse to move the boat or robot, researchers said. The Pitt system has no moving parts and the low-energy electrode that emits the pulse could be powered by batteries, radio waves, or solar power, researchers said in a statement."

Comment: Re:Edward Tufte, anyone? (Score 2, Interesting) 180

by Mithrandir (#26525097) Attached to: Visualizing Complex Data Sets?

Tufte's ideas are good for presenting simple information. He gets many things right (eg if the visualisation doesn't work in black and white, adding colour won't fix it). However, many in the infovis community are outright sceptical, if not dismissive of his ideas for analysing high dimensional datasets.

Where his ideas really work is once you have "the answer" that you want to present to someone else. However, the basic exploration of the data to find interesting keypoints, is not what he specialises in. There's whole communities devoted to techniques for datamining and presentation, principly infovis/Visual Analytics.

Comment: Try the InfoVis community (Score 5, Informative) 180

by Mithrandir (#26524509) Attached to: Visualizing Complex Data Sets?

The infovis community has been dealing with these subjects for years. There's many different visualisation techniques around. Here's a list of the past conferences and the papers:

http://conferences.computer.org/Infovis/

Plenty of good products out there, but the one that I like most is from Tableau Software (http://www.tableausoftware.com/).

Businesses

3 Firms Confess To Fixing LCD Prices, Agree To Pay $585M Fine 417

Posted by timothy
from the win-friends-and-influence-people dept.
Oldyeller89 writes "LG, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes pleaded guilty to charges of price fixing in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. They fixed the prices on LCD screens used not only in their products but also in other products such as Apple's iPods. The three companies agreed to pay $585 million in fines. Perhaps this will cause the price of our TVs to drop?" The New York Times also has a story on the outcome of this case.

Comment: Re:In all fairness, though (Score 1) 346

by Mithrandir (#25477399) Attached to: LucasArts, Bioware Announce Star Wars MMO

The one thing that my friends and I still talk about was the SWG crafting system. It's been the best of the lot. The whole concepts of materials having inconsistent quality and that the quality could allow you to produce good and bad lots of the same item, or optimise for one attribute over another really set them apart from anything before or after. It was the sort of thing that made a crafter playable as a long term character because there was so much variety and constantly having to stay on top of things, compared to the grind of combat characters.

The Military

Researchers To Build Underwater Airplane 263

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the journey-to-the-bottom-of-the-sea dept.
coondoggie writes to tell us that DARPA seems to still be having fun with their funding and continues to aim for the "far out." The latest program, a submersible airplane, seems to have been pulled directly from science fiction. Hopefully this voyage to the bottom of the sea is of the non-permanent variety. "According to DARPA: 'The difficulty with developing such a craft come from the diametrically opposed requirements that exist for an airplane and a submarine. While the primary goal for airplane designers is to try and minimize weight, a submarine must be extremely heavy in order to submerge underwater. In addition, the flow conditions and the systems designed to control a submarine and an airplane are radically different, due to the order of magnitude difference in the densities of air and water.'"

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