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Comment Developers Developers Developers Developers (Score 4, Insightful) 154

You hit the nail on the head - it's all about the app ecosystem. What killer Windows phone apps ever made any waves? None. Even BlackBerry got the message about Android apps though far too late to save them. If the developers aren't there, the apps won't be there and the customers won't use your platform.

Comment Doctor says I can't lift my hands above my head (Score 1) 278

I'm sorry sir, but I don't want to destroy my shoulder joints which have been injured during years of manual labor and could cause an immediate medical event. Please make sure that you pat me down instead. Thank you. What are they supposed to do at that point? Risk a federal lawsuit for discriminating against disabled individuals?

Comment Retaining core competency = retaining value (Score 1) 181

Who the hell is going to derive any value from this scheme for their company? You can't build core competencies around ongoing development with a la carte development unless your product is just that cookie cutter simple, in which case you're probably already too late to the game.

It's crap like this that to me sounds like the beginning of the end for Dotcom bubble 2.0. People think that outsourcing grunt work is some new thing and that it will solve all problems.

Comment Winbook 7" Win8 Tablet for $60-$80 + Linux (Score 1) 508

Microcenter has these for $60, $80 on Amazon. Quad core Bay Trail with built-in display, full Windows 8, Office 365 for a year, microSD slot and microHDMI out. Don't like Win8? Nuke it and put a Linux distro on there. It won't get much easier or cheaper than that from a practical perspective.

Comment Re:Verilog (Score 3, Insightful) 93

I think VHDL is better than Verilog to learn HDLs for two main reasons:

1. VHDL is based on ADA, which is a concurrent systems language that is verbose and relatively easy to read versus Verilog's C-based syntax that is more terse, which leads me to...
2. Verilog, being C-based, can reinforce procedural language thinking rather than concurrent system thinking where inherent timing-independent parallelism is the norm in an HDL (e.g. multiple clock domains, or even *shudder* asynchronous feedback).

That said, VHDL has its own problems, such as its relative lack of use in the workplace like the United States, packages and library dependency being a bit clunky, and lack of efficiency in some situations versus Verilog where equivalent Verilog is just less typing and IMO much easier to read a netlist for a standard-cell design.

For a $25 package, it's really hard to go wrong with this and I hope it will take off. I only wish there were better tools to reinforce the principles of timing and design pipelining, especially a tool for static timing analysis. Then again, I suspect nobody was expecting to get a copy of Synopsys PrimeTime with this package either!

Comment HLS will win if DASH is patented (Score 1) 66

HLS already dominates by streamed hours of content, is implemented in every connected device stack, is patent free due t using MPEG Transport Streams and M3U8 playlists, and is much simpler to implement than DASH. If the MPEG-LA and the DASH-IF wants DASH to fail, they should take a good look at why they're trying to grab for more money.

Comment Sick and tired of the political correctness (Score 4, Insightful) 185

Why is Tim Cook even wading into this discussion? Mainly because the SJWs are shaming companies such as Apple and Intel to do something about what they perceive to be an epidemic of gender skew in technology professions. Funny how they're nowhere to be found when it comes to nursing or other female-dominated professions, nor all the factory positions in China where men are worked to the death. Yet all the idiot CEOs take the bait and run with it.

What they all fail to realize is that equal opportunity does not mean equal outcome. Nobody gets me out of bed in the morning, brushes my teeth, forces me to do a particular job or anything else, so it's up to me to do that. Same with careers. If you have a specific problem, there are LOTS of legal protections to prevent this kind of thing - lawsuits, DoL complaints, and so on.

Ask any person of any identifiable group whether they feel good about being hired not because they were the best candidate, but because of some identifiable characteristic. You'll get two groups of answers - the majority who would feel awful about it, and the minority who would feel proud and entitled because of it. As long as that difference exists, this nonsense will continue.

Comment Reddit, like Digg, is eating itself... (Score 5, Interesting) 474

Reddit has an outrageously smug user community with a chaotic moderation system. I've been on Slashdot since the 90s, and I can at least say that it's a somewhat sane place to discuss tech-related and nerd-related topics (other than the typical political/religious commentary nonsense). The metamod system alone is a great balance, as is limiting the number of votes and randomizing who gets the votes prevents upvote and downvote brigading. It's pretty rare for factually-incorrect information to get upvoted or factually-correct information buried. Even when mods approve some article that looks like an advertisement, Slashdot users spot it and bring those comments to the top.

I occasionally read Reddit, but I get very frustrated watching completely factual information get downvoted or subreddits banned because it doesn't fit users' or moderators' view of the world. Between this and the Ellen Pao controversy, sites like voat might actually have a chance of doing to reddit what reddit did to digg. In fact, voat is doing the exact same thing to reddit that reddit did to digg when reddit posted the infamous shovel logo to welcome disgruntled digg users by welcoming the "fatpeoplehate" refugees. Oh how fickle the social media world has become...

Comment Not a match - here's why (Score 4, Informative) 108

The Intel-Altera deal, while beneficial for Altera shareholders, is not any kind of huge win for Intel. Intel was already Altera's fab partner, and there's very little incremental revenue compared to the cost. $2B/year for a $17B acquisition, even at a modest discount rate, is a questionable ROI.

The reason is that this deal is questionable is that system design considerations vary considerably, and a fat CPU like an Intel Xeon is not always the best match for a networking application with an FPGA that close. Most of these server-side applications are, in any event, I/O bound in a server environment. That means fast backplane technologies for interfacing the various physical layer devices for networking and storage. Integration of programmable logic rather than putting it on a daughter card with a dedicated interface defeats the purpose of the flexibility that the FPGA provides in this environment, and that's to be able to bridge new and emerging standards while standard products eventually come in and take up the slack. Too little programmable logic and you have to replace the entire part. Too much, and you're killing your margins even now that gates are supposedly "free". Why would a system architect bother taking the risk on that without substantial advantages over the lifetime of their rack-mount beast? And this is essentially true whether or not the die is integrated or put in an multi-chip module or 3D die stack. Even if we consider other applications such as artificial intelligence and image processing, there are already alternatives out there including dedicated processors and GPUs that are doing much of this today, and they're off-the-shelf parts without dependency on the host CPU which - again - would be an I/O bound operation that you wouldn't necessarily want to involve the CPU in directly.

Bringing this to Xilinx, AMD - as the article suggests - has even less presence in server. More importantly, AMD is always 1-2 generations behind in process technology versus Intel, which translates to even greater sensitivity to how much FPGA one devotes to the die. There is no Xilinx fab relationship with AMD since it's effectively fabless. Xilinx and Altera also play in other spaces where x86 is either not relevant or insufficiently so to justify integration (e.g. automotive, broadcast). All of the above points for Intel-Altera apply even more for AMD-Xilinx.

Even in 2015, we're still dealing with external GPUs and Ethernet PHYs on small motherboards. Unless an application reaches true ubiquity and the cost-benefit is clear, integration for integration's sake is a losing cause. If Xilinx and AMD merge, it may very well hurt both companies. Stay tuned.

Comment Back doors = Security Weaknesses (Score 4, Insightful) 108

No matter how well intentioned the government may be in requesting a crypto back door, all it does is open up a hole for potential criminals and state actors to steal information from individuals and corporations alike. Unless the government was somehow able to indemnify and protect all parties involved, there should be no back doors. End of story.

Comment This is NOT new, and there are other problems... (Score 2) 105

Not too long after Windows 8 launched with the AC-3 and E-AC-3 codecs, Internet Explorer has had the capability to decode these audio formats. It recognizes the FourCC codes in the ISO Base Media File Format container as well as the MIME tags.

Part of the problem, however, is the perceived shift in both audio loudness and the perceived location of speech. All AC-3 and E-AC-3 content, when properly measured, should play dialog back at -31dB relative to full digital scale. Unfortunately, this makes the codec inherently quieter unless the decoder is set to something called RF mode, which boosts the loudness to -20dB and compresses the audio more heavily. Such control for loudness is not typically found in HTML5-based apps, though the W3C has a committee working on this issue. The loudness can be a particular problem on the Windows 8 tablet devices out there, as many programs in AAC format come pre-normalized to somewhere around -23dB to -24dB relative to full scale. Unless all content is pre-normalized to the same consistent playback level - which AAC ads will definitely not be, and probably not AAC stereo content - there will be an inconsistency of experience.

All of this also presupposes that you have either a proper surround virtualizer or a discrete 5.1 speaker system such as is found in a properly set up home theater. Considering that less than a third of homes have any kind of surround sound in them, and given the loudness issues, I'm not certain what the benefits will be here. But it gets even worse, as dialog in multichannel AC-3 and E-AC-3 is steered to the center channel in most programs, whereas in stereo content it is mixed into left and right without regard to position. This can result in disturbance to the listener. Furthermore, any channel configuration changes to an audio-video receiver will typically cause muting when switching modes between stereo output and multichannel output, potentially interrupting the experience for the listener.

Part of this is the add-on nature of AC-3 and E-AC-3 to Windows and an inherent failure to integrate stereo AAC and HE AAC playback behavior with that of stereo and multichannel AC-3 and E-AC-3. Until then, this will be more of a curiosity than anything substantially improving the consumer's experience, and developers should take note if they believe that HTML5/CSS/Javascript development of their apps can really unify their experience across devices yet.

Comment The last, lagging symptom of inflation (Score 3, Insightful) 1094

I'm normally pretty libertarian when it comes to issues like this, but it doesn't surprise me especially in a state like California where the cost of most things has become overinflated. Wages are typically the last thing to rise...but something is different here...

The government's "basket of goods" used to calculate inflation is blatantly false and misleading, as are its unemployment numbers (look at U3, not the cooked statistics you hear on the news that were called out by Gallup's top guy). Particularly in a state like California where most of the population lives in a few densely-populated areas with horrible traffic and ever-rising rents and house prices, inflation has already greatly impacted individuals. The federal government has already encouraged this by making the FHA loan conforming limit different for high-priced California areas. Between this and speculators buying and sitting on houses as investments, the average slug has zero change of owning a home and struggles even to rent due to the growing techie population.

The difference is that the gap in overinflated places like California has been extended beyond any reasonable means by expansion of debt. It's all about the monthly payment for a good, not the total amount out of your pocket for that good irrespective of repairs and devaluation. Between the large bank failures and the constant pumping of the money supply, it appears that the debtors will win and the savers will lose at the expense of substantial amounts of inflation simply because compensation for productivity has to be based on something somewhat tangible, even if it's intellectual property. That underpinning simply isn't there. This is a giant souffle that will be hardened into place from the top and pull the bottom up with it.

So yes, raise the minimum wage if you will. But those prices will be passed along to consumers. Those in LA and the rest of California and like places should get used to $9-$10 McDonald's meals and $2 cans of soda and $2.50 for a basic pack of gum. Other than austerity and contraction (which may cycle multiple times between inflation before all is said and done), this was the only possible outcome whose chickens appear now to be coming home to roost. Welcome to the new normal, with effectively no consolation for the minimum wage earners.

Comment A poorly-run "platform" just like Android/Play/etc (Score 0) 45

I don't know what it is about Google-run platforms that makes them so awful, but they seem to shovel on tons of features with a corporate agenda but without the ability to really understand the underlying user experience. I'm not an Apple fan myself, but at least their app store for a non-jailbroken iOS device is much much cleaner from a malware perspective than the equivalent Android app stores. We aren't even talking about the ever-present developer inconsistencies version-to-version in the Android platform, especially for DRM and media playback, which make life hell for developers.

In the desktop browser environment where average users have no idea what the root of trust really is other than "oh it's Google so it's ok", the potential for malware intrusion is huge and there's no excuse for this nonsense. Google's leadership needs to crack their whip at their product management and get things back on track so they not only test add-ons but randomly audit code for backdoors on the Play store and for Chrome add-ons if they want to retain customers' trust.

Comment Act decisively according to project goals & sk (Score 4, Interesting) 255

I know that many folks in the FOSS community feel more comfortable behind a keyboard than they do in front of others, but none of us live in a vacuum away from others. As such, these are golden opportunities to assert the type of leadership and expand skills necessary for personal as well as professional growth.

More fundamentally, every project needs to have clearly defined goals as to what they want to accomplish. The schedule of such projects, by the generally voluntary nature of FOSS contribution, may slip, but the cohesion required to achieve these project milestones is only possible in the presence of relatively strong leadership. Strong leadership should also recognize the skill inventory available to the project on a per-contributor basis and encourage those with particular strengths to be used in needed areas modulo personal goals (e.g. growth in coding skills, UI/UX, etc.). Leadership also needs to set down ground rules like mutual respect and positive communication style.

Therefore, project leaders need to manage the relationships between contributors, recognize political and personal differences, and reconcile them reasonably but quickly for the betterment of the project. If that includes terminating the relationship of one or more contributors to said project, then it needs to be done. But before all that happens, project leadership has to set the base of the building correctly before building subsequent floors, as it were.

There's an old saying that says "the fish rots from the head down" and it applies here too: if things are getting out of hand with a project, deal with it but make sure all of the rules were set and the relevant parameters understood prior to drastic action such as terminating a relationship.

Comment Good for the goose, good for the gander (Score 5, Insightful) 77

The exact same arguments Yelp makes in effectively extorting businesses by deleting positive reviews unless they pay up are the same ones that RevLeap is trying to counterbalance and the same ones that SEO companies use to boost their Google rankings. I see neither a moral nor a legal argument that could favor Yelp in this case given their prior behavior, and I hope they pay RevLeap's costs in the end when they lose.

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