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Comment: And done elsewhere (Score 1) 237

by Sycraft-fu (#47440405) Attached to: Texas Town Turns To Treated Sewage For Drinking Water

In Tucson 10%ish of the drinking water comes from reclaimed water (aka filtered sewage). Makes sense in an area with not a lot of fresh water resources. Also in those areas you can have different kinds. You can purchase a non-potable (not for consumption) water source for irrigation. Again, reclaimed water, but it undergoes less filtering and thus is cheaper. Plenty of larger places get a hookup to keep their watering costs down.

It is a very sensible way of doing things and you actually have more control of purity than water that comes out of the ground.

Comment: That and DACs aren't the issue anyhow (Score 2) 491

It is easy to make good DACs these days. Basically any DAC, barring a messed up implementation, is likely to sound sonically transparent to any other in a normal system. When you look at the other limiting factors (amp, noise in the room, speaker response, room reflections, etc) you find that their noise and distortion are just way below audibility. Ya, maybe if you have a really nice setup with a quiet treated room, good amps, and have it set for reference (105dB peak) levels you start to need something better than normal, but that isn't very common. Even then you usually don't have to go that high up the chain to get something where again the DAC is way better than other components.

Now that said, there can be a reason to get a soundcard given certain uses. For example you don't always want to go to an external unit, maybe you use headphones. In that case, having a good headphone amp matters and onboard sound is often remiss in that respect (then again, so are some soundcards). Also even if you do use an external setup, you might wish to have the soundcard do processing of some kind. Not so useful these days, but some games like to have hardware accelerated OpenAL.

Regardless, not a big deal in most cases. Certainly not the first thing to spend money on. If you have $50 speakers, don't go and buy a $100 soundcard. If you have a $5000 setup, ok maybe a soundcard could be useful, but only in certain circumstances.

As a side note, the noise in a PC isn't a big issue. Properly grounding/shielding the card deals with it. A simple example is the professional LynxTWO, which is all internal yet has top notch specs, even by today's standards.

Comment: They don't care about the cards (Score 1) 351

by Sycraft-fu (#47409003) Attached to: Here Comes the Panopticon: Insurance Companies

They track you using your credit card. The cards are because people want them these days. Albertsons finally knuckled under and started offering them. Not because they needed them for tracking, like I said they already did that, but because customers whined they weren't getting a "good deal". So they raised their prices, and introduced a card.

Comment: Also (Score 1) 110

by Sycraft-fu (#47408593) Attached to: YouTube Issuing "Report Cards" On Carriers' Streaming Speeds

It doesn't take in to account the net speeds that people have. So you might well have a provider who has no problem doing HD video from Youtube all day every day, on lines that can handle it. However they sell slower lines and some customers have that, so that skews things.

Like say a phone company offers ADSL and IDSL for customers who are way out in the boonies, but VDSL for people in the city. Well those slow connections will bring down their stats, even if their network is quite fast and makes them look bad, despite them actually being the only option for some people.

A somewhat similar deal with cable companies can be people using old hardware. DOCSIS 2 cable modems only use one channel per segment, and those can get saturated these days. Well cable providers tend to be DOCSIS 3 to deal with that... but not everyone has a new modem. The cable company can recommend they get one, but if it is your equipment they can't make you (I guess other than cutting you off but they don't wanna do that).

Comment: No shit (Score 5, Insightful) 203

Slashdot needs to knock it off with these "Child genius is going to totally upstage all those stupid companies and make something amazing!" stories they run some time. The thing is, they are essentially never true and we as geeks should know better.

Smart kids often have the problem of thinking they know everything. They have the brains to be well above their peers at pretty much everything, and so have a confidence in their knowledge and intelligence, but lack the experience to understand the limitations of both in the larger world. Hence they'll think that they have found an "obvious" solution to a problem in the world that nobody else has managed to think of. I'm sure most of us felt like that at one time or another as children.

However, it turns out that smart kids become smart adults, and those smart adults get job making the thing we use, solving the problems we have, and so on. So, usually if there's something that hasn't been solved, the reason is that there is NOT a simple solution. There isn't something that a kid will just say "Oh look, here's a better way to do it." Rather it is a complex problem and thus the solutions are complex.

So Slashdot needs to quit with stories on shit like this unless there' something to back it up. A printer actually gets released based on this kids design? Ok that's a story. Some kid says he can do way better than anyone else? That's not a story. That is, to quote the Reapers, "A confidence borne of ignorance." It's not news.

Comment: It's also a public health issue (Score 1) 196

by Sycraft-fu (#47344903) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

No, really. So a big problem these days is people damaging their hearing from listening at excessive volumes on their portable devices. This is a real issue and is going to have some nasty effects as people age.

Part of the problem is just people wanting to listen too loud, but part of the problem is shitty earbuds. If you have shitty earbuds, that don't seal off outside noise well, don't sound good, and have poor power handling, it is more likely you drive them too loud to compensate. Also, the poor power handling means that when you do drive them, they start to clip and distort, which raises high frequency harmonics, which causes more damage.

Given what a big presence Apple has in the portable music market, their shitty earbuds are a real issue. It would go a ways to helping the situation if they'd include some earbuds that weren't worthless. They don't need to be great, just not worthless, properly designed.

Comment: Youtube isn't for TV (Score 1) 157

by Sycraft-fu (#47341143) Attached to: YouTube Introduces 60fps Video Support

There is lots on there. A big bit of content that'll do 60fps no problem is video games. Lots of channels that feature games in various forms. So they'll be able to show content at 60fps no issue.

Also many AVCHD cameras do 60fps these days. It is part of the AVCHD 2.0 spec, but some like Panasonic did it before the spec update. So a lot of individuals have cameras that'll shoot 60fps no issue, and if Youtube will take it, they can upload it as is.

Comment: Or, on the PC (Score 2) 178

by Sycraft-fu (#47314575) Attached to: The Rise and Fall of the Cheat Code

We get to have cheat codes whenever we want and you can go shove your DLC up your ass. Just fire up a memory editor/debugger, CheatEngine being a free purpose designed one, and you are good to go.

The whole "selling cheat codes" thing is just so scummy. Particularly since I think it can lead to the "pay2win" mentality of "Maybe we should make this harder, so people need to give us money for cheats!"

Comment: Re:That's a risk you take investing (Score 1) 120

Only if there's some kind of spec guarantee. If we have a contract where I promise to deliver a system of X spec to you for Y dollars then yes, I have to do that, or refund your money. However if I say "I'm trying to make a new system, here's the specs we are aiming for, want to invest?" You can't then get mad if it falls short, not everything ends up being the same from design to implementation (ask Intel with regards to NetBurst).

Comment: That's a risk you take investing (Score 1) 120

Ever have a look at your bank's investment notices? "Investment and insurance products: Are Not FDIC Insured, Are Not Bank Guaranteed, May Lose Value, Are Not Deposits, Are Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency, Are Not a Condition to Any Banking Service or Activity." Investment carries a risk of lack of return. When you invest you may lose your money, including your principal.

Now, the people you invest with have a duty to do what they say, they can't just take your money and spend it on hookers and blow. However if they make a good faith effort and fail, well then sucks to be you. That is the risk you take. You can't get angry and sue them because they should have done it better.

So if you invested in bitcoin mining hardware and the company did indeed deliver said hardware, it just didn't end up being as good as you or they hoped, well you really don't have a case.

Comment: Not quite that simple (Score 3, Insightful) 547

The big spoiler that makes models a bit more difficult is water vapor. It is both more prevalent than CO2 in the atmosphere and more variable in the amount (CO2 is pretty uniform, water vapour varies a lot based on location, time of year, etc). Also when you look at the absorption spectra, water vapour absorbs larger bands of IR than CO2, particularly in the thermal IR region.

That's not the only extra bit of complexity, but it is one that confounds the situation.

Now before you fly off the handle and start screaming and ranting: I'm not challenging the validity of the theory here, I'm just saying you are oversimplifying things. Going after people for being stupid, but then showing ignorance of the complexity of the issue is rather silly.

The problem is that it is complex. If it were a simple system, we'd likely have a very accurate model for it. The complexity is precisely why despite general agreement on the theoretical mechanism of action there are such wide error bars on the predictions.

Comment: China isn't called China either (Score 2) 192

by Sycraft-fu (#47299161) Attached to: China Builds Artificial Islands In South China Sea

The proper name is "Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo" or People's Republic of China in English. Of course then there's also "Zhonghu Minguo" aka The Republic of China aka Taiwan.

Then there's the fact that not everyone calls it the "South China Sea". Vietnam calls it "Bien Dong" aka East Sea. In fact China calls it "Nan Hai" meaning South Sea.

My point being simply that a name doesn't imply ownership under any reasonable standard. The USA is widely just called "America" but that doesn't mean that it owns the Americas. The PRC is widely called China but that doesn't mean it owns the South China Sea.

Comment: The learning new trends is big (Score 3, Insightful) 370

by Sycraft-fu (#47292637) Attached to: Age Discrimination In the Tech Industry

The biggest problem I notice with older tech workers (IT in my case) is lack of flexibility and lack of knowledge of how things are done currently. I work for a university so we have a good mix of ages. We have student workers that are 18-22ish, we have staff that are in their 20s, 30s (I'm 34), 40s, 50s, 60, and even 70s. We have pretty good employment stability, being a state institution.

Now you see good and bad workers in all age groups. It isn't like all the young people are good (we get some dopey students sometimes) and the old people are bad. However what I notice is that when an older employee is not as good as they should be, it is often related to being behind the times.

We have a guy who's retiring, thankfully, that is like that. He's a good guy and he's not an idiot, but he's real stuck in his ways, and his ways are about 20 years out of date. He does not deal with new technology and methods very well. He wants to do everything how he did it in the 80s-90s, which just doesn't work so well now. I imagine he would have real trouble finding another job if he tried because of that.

So staying up to date on new trends is a really valuable thing. Doesn't mean you need to jump in to everything with both feet right away, but be up on what is happening, and learn it/use it if it is in demand. If you have the attitude of "this is the way we've always done it and there's no reason to change," then it won't be surprising if you can't find many positions.

Comment: Same shit as the Chinese Longsoon processor (Score 3, Insightful) 340

by Sycraft-fu (#47287861) Attached to: Russia Wants To Replace US Computer Chips With Local Processors

This isn't something serious, just nationalism and/or cronyism. A real domestic processor project? It wouldn't be "dozens of millions of dollars" it would be tens of billions. Intel spent $10 billion on R&D... in 2013 alone. TSMC, who's just a fab not a designer, spent $1.4 billion in 2013.

Semiconductor manufacture is EXPENSIVE. A single modern fab easily tops a billion dollars to build, more like $3 billion. That's just to build it, running it and upgrading it can easily cost that much again over a few years. That is projected to grow to about $15 billion for a high end fab in 2020. All that, and you only have the ability to make chips, you don't actually have any chips to make.

Designing chips is again expensive. You need a bunch of smart, skilled, and experienced engineers and they need to put in a ton of work. It takes years. Companies that do fast design revisions have multiple teams that trade off working on chips, one team will be working on the next gen chip, another team on the gen after that, so that there is enough time to get the designs done.

So if Russia really wanted their own chips, like their own design, their own production, and all that, and wanted said chips to be on the same level as modern chips from Intel, IBM, etc, well they'd have to spend a ton of money, and a good amount of time.

This is, as you say, posturing. License an existing core design (made by Western nations), build an older technology fab, and produce some low end chips that aren't really that useful.

A large number of installed systems work by fiat. That is, they work by being declared to work. -- Anatol Holt