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Comment Re: Why not just forgo paid content? (Score 1) 43 43

If you don't want a crippled DRM stick? Then accept you are gonna need an HTPC. You can get one of the Chinese ARM boxes but I find they are rather limited on the amount of software you can run on 'em, a better choice IMHO would be to get one of the AMD Socket AM1 chips which is what I've been using at the shop. Crazy low power (average around 8w-12w according to kill-a-watt), GPU powerful enough to do 1080P with no sweat or lagging, and if you don't want to spend $$$ on an OS you can slap on OpenELEC and have a 10 foot UI OOTB.

But if all you want is the cheap stick? You are gonna have to accept they are nothing but DRM delivery medium, your only real choices are the cheapo Chinese ARM nettops (which again severely limited on apps, no OS updates make them vulnerable to hack, limited playback and media options) or go with a full blown HTPC. Considering that HDMI makes everything plug and play, the AM1 makes an APU powerful enough and ULV while being cheap easy to come by, and the sheer amount of options an HTPC gives you from serving media to your entire house by slapping a multi TB drive and having your entire media library always accessible to streaming and casual gaming makes the HTPC a no brainer IMHO. I know a lot of my HTPC customers start with the sticks then quickly get tired of the limitations and want to "trade up" to something with more options.

Try one, I bet you'll find it does all you want it to do.

Comment Mishandling handles (Score 1) 57 57

I once contracted with a shop that had a process that generated garbled output data rows. It appeared to be extra stuff that didn't affect (over-write) the intended rows. The shop had added an extra processing step to filter out the garbage rows and eventually just worked around the glitch.

They had asked me to try to track it down, among other projects, because they were newbie programmers. I couldn't figure it out either because it never appeared in my intermediate trace statements. I put a trace (print) statement before every "write" in the program. None of the prints showed the garbage, yet garbage ended up in the output file. Head-scratcher galore. I was supposed to be "the expert", and thus feeling a bit deflated.

On I think the last day of my contract, I was running a test copy of the code with some changes to perform speed tests. I went to try a certain speed tweak, and I suddenly spotted the error: the file handle variable was re-used for another non-handle purpose, something like this:

fhandle = openFileForWrite(fileName);
writeToFile(fhandle, someData);
fhandle = countX + countY - 7;

The actual handle name was something like "qhand". But a regular variable, "quantity on hand" ended up "qhand" also, the same name as the file handle.

When it dawned on me what happened, I started screaming like a wildman and the others popped out of their cubicles to see what was going down. They took my coffee away :-)

As far as the link on goofy video game bugs, I remember somebody discovered that if you don't put a game cartridge in all the way, certain characters dance and spin randomly and rapidly in the sky.

It created an Internet meme, and spoofs started appearing all over, typically using stop-motion with live actors. I forgot the nickname of the meme, but I found it hilarious. It took my mind off the handle bug.

Comment Re:First autonomous murder? (Score 1) 229 229

sure we can, all you need to know is their IMEI, GSM encryption has been horribly broken since forever. ennough semtex to ensure a kill would certainly fit on a drone. not exactly a hobbiest project but any suitably funded terrorist group or government should be able to whip one up quick

Comment use much lower resolution data (Score 1) 54 54

so why not set a sequence of battery states rather than actual %. "excellent" "ok" "poor" "critical" with 'excellent' being defined as ok to use as much resources as the application would like, 'ok' would be a request to minimize unnecessary utilization 'poor' being an enforced power restriction mode and 'critical' being an explicit warning that failure is imminent and data being handled may be lost instead of saved. The thresholds themselves will vary based on device and user settings. for example my blackberry cuts off radio signal below about 7% battery and so should export 'critical' around 10% shortly before it ceases communication and it refuses to turn on the camera light below around 17% (exact % point varies i think the actual decision is based on current battery voltage data not exposed to the user) so around there should trigger poor. there should be a setting of when to request lower intensity web pages on the power or browser settings that would tweak the excellent/ok point, and of course on a charger would put the device into excellent.

Comment Re:Obama should do a fact check... (Score 5, Informative) 136 136

For all the fear mongering, the oceans haven't risen,

Yes, they have.

the weather is fine,

Is that a joke?

and life has been carrying on.

Well, except for the mass extinction.

If AGW supporters are correct

AKA "PhD scientists studying this for the last few decades".

then the changes being proposed won't change the outcome by enough to matter.

There is no one grand solution to AGW. There are a lot of smaller steps that added together might make a difference. Failing to do any of them certainly will not help.

Comment Re:Sustainable? (Score 1) 291 291

Turkey fat is industrial waste, putting it in cars and milkshakes would be more environmentally sustainable than continuing to ignore the reality.

Well, I don't know how you got onto turkeys in particular, but Tyson Chicken (the world's largest producer of waste animal fat) has a chicken-fat-to-biodiesel plant...

Comment Re:Smart (Score 1) 269 269

So Tesla rigged the gauge when they did the swap? That's a bold claim.

What I'm saying is that the available evidence supports that idea at least as much as the idea that they're actually doing swaps. If they're actually doing swaps, why is definitive evidence so hard to come by?

Would you accept that his car didn't run out of energy while driving after the swap?

Yep. Would you accept that the vehicle actually behaved differently, but he didn't notice? If you chopped 5% of the performance off completely linearly, nobody would even notice.

Comment Hindsight and lessons. (Score 1) 234 234

I don't blame Google for trying. There are too many variables to say what will work and won't. Social networking is too big of an industry to not bother making a play for. Honda started out a successful motorbike company, and successfully pushed into automobiles even though that industry was full of established players.

However, I do blame Google for forcing their services to be or act like a social networking site, where private info magically showed up elsewhere in unexpected ways. That's just desperation and/or forceful denial in play, ticking off your user base. They forgot "Don't Be Evil". Obsession made them stupid.

I hope Google goes back to what it does well: lots of specialized little services that can OPTIONALLY share info between each other as the user sees fit.

Comment Tales of Customs (Score 1) 59 59

cut the cables between the two boards [of a TRS-80] and send them separately to avoid getting caught in customs.

Reminds me of the story of Richard Garriott's Sputnik 1. It's an actual spare probe prepared by the Soviets in the 1950's as a backup.

When Russia was having a hard time transitioning away from Soviet rule in the 90's, Soviet space stuff was being auctioned for ridiculously low prices.

Richard snapped up the spare Sputnik for a bargain, and disassembled it to get it past customs. His team unscrewed the metal sphere into two halves and presented them as "new-age salad bowls" to customs officials.


Never invest your money in anything that eats or needs repainting. -- Billy Rose