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Comment: Re:Car Jukebox.... (Score 1) 269

by djrobxx (#48591883) Attached to: Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

> Bluetooth works but it sucks for music quality and you only have rudimentary controls on the head unit.

I've seen bluetooth interfaces that support what looks like the full iPod interface (playlist selection, listing tracks within playlist). There are also bluetooth profiles that allow an iPod to just send an AAC stream to the head unit for decoding. So I think both of those concerns are mostly solved unless you need lossless quality audio.

There's actually a gizmo that almost provides a bluetooth-to-iPod interface with full playlist selection support and whatnot, and supposedly it uses one of the higher quality audio profiles

http://www.amazon.com/ViseeO-W...

Comment: Re:Great. More touchscreens. (Score 1) 233

by djrobxx (#48586297) Attached to: Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

well, there is one component that is pretty standard and easilly upgradable, the stereo. I just purchased a used car (2008 miata). The stereo came with a 30 pin ipod connector tucked in the glovebox. Ive outfitted it with the required lighting adapter to work with my phone, but i wouldn't mind having a modern stereo that can do bluetooth. The upgrade might be painless, but there's one big issue: THIEVES. The big selling point of the kind of crummy factory stereo is it's good enough and nobody is going to want to steal it.

There's an app, I mean, a product for that!

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/al...

And yes, you raise a great point about thieves. When I used to use aftermarket radios I was always stressed about them being stolen. These days I just use aftermarket speakers / amps with the factory head units.

Comment: Re:Great. More touchscreens. (Score 1) 233

by djrobxx (#48586233) Attached to: Ford Ditches Microsoft Partnership On Sync, Goes With QNX

Hey Detroit - stop trying. Give up. Let Apple/Android/[new startup] give me the tech I want. If you want to get fancy, give the phone a read-only API to the car's status.

You're right that the interface is probably better left to Apple and Google. Cars used to have standard din and "double-din" spots for radios. Thing is, Detroit isn't the only one dong a horrible job. The third party junk from the usual suspects (Sony, Pioneer, Kenwood, etc.) is even worse. Last year we bought a new Pioneer AVIC-X930BT for a 2004 truck. The online reviews on it were generally favorable but I'm blown away by how terrible it is compared to say, the basic system in a Chevy Cruze rent-a-car.

1) The device takes about 30 seconds to boot up when you start the truck. It's apparently based on Windows CE.
2) Once it boots, it then takes another 30 seconds or so for it to initialize bluetooth.
3) Once bluetooth is initialized and connected, it goes through another "connecting" process to connect to bluetooth audio, but it will not automatically start playing music. You have to manually press the play button after it "un-grays out". If you're driving on a short trip you're probably halfway to your destination now.
4) It supports USB sticks too. After the boot process it always re-scans the entire memory stick. If you have a lot of songs it takes about a minute before the music starts playing.

Seriously, does Pioneer not do any usability testing?

It has all kinds of other gimmickry, including "AppRadio" that's supposed to let you use your phone's interface as an app but it's so clunky we'd never, ever use it.

Comment: Re:Any one know? (Score 2) 222

by djrobxx (#48569225) Attached to: Dad Makes His Kid Play Through All Video Game History In Chronological Order

I'd like to know how the kid fared on E.T. for the Atari 2600.

It sounds like the Atari 2600 got mostly glossed over, which I think was an error on the Dad's part in the way he conducted his experiment. He started the kid off with "real" arcade games then tried to graduate to the 2600. While that's chronologically correct, it doesn't match the actual experience we had as kids. We only got to enjoy arcade games on a limited basis (when going out to arcades/pizza parlors). Arcade game plays were limited by quarters. The 2600 had woefully inferior versions of games, but could be played at any time.

Not too surprising that the kid wasn't interested in the 2600 when he had unlimited access to the "real" versions of the games. Would seem like a huge step down, unless he happened to have a supercharger with "Escape from the Mindmaster" or "Dragonstomper" :)

Comment: Re:Oh, really? (Score 4, Interesting) 222

by djrobxx (#48568997) Attached to: Dad Makes His Kid Play Through All Video Game History In Chronological Order

I haven't played it myself; but they say that Robot Odyssey will either break your pitiful hominid brain like reject before The Monolith, turn you into a hardcore programmer geek for life, or turn you against any computer game that isn't Medal of Halo Gears of Assault 3.

I played and beat Robot Odyssey when I was in 6th grade. It was in the bargain bin at Radio Shack. Mom thought it might be fun. The box said it was from The Learning Company, which was an instant turn off, but I gave it a shot anyway and am glad I did!

Crappy graphics but it was easily the best game I've ever played, and may ever play. The way the game let you "walk into" and wire up robots with logic gates was pure genius. There were some really tough problems, solving them was so rewarding. The Learning Company actually sent me a plaque for having completed it, I wish I had kept it.

Comment: Re:I'm waiting to see who gets compromised first. (Score 1) 558

by djrobxx (#48241211) Attached to: Rite Aid and CVS Block Apple Pay and Google Wallet

Let's face it. With the exception of cash, there isn't an easy way to pay where you cannot become compromised. It seems like every week another retailer has their databases compromised. Do I really believe even for a moment that letting google, apple, or someone else manage my cards for me will stop that? Can you imagine a situation where one of these companies is compromised and not just one but maybe all of your accounts become compromised with it?

You're right to be skeptical, but the current method of credit card payments gives every retailer the data they need to go on a shopping-spree. The bar for security is currently very low anyway.

Apple already has a lot of people's credit cards in its database (think app store). What you're describing is one of the problems that Apple Pay (NFC payments) is trying to solve - handling credit card transactions with one-time tokens so it's less likely to be compromised by men in the middle. In theory, it eliminates the Home Depot/Target database breach issues as well as payment terminal skimming problems. Putting re-usable credit card information into less people's hands should reduce the attack surface a bit.

Comment: Re:What a wonderful article (Score 3, Informative) 296

by djrobxx (#48218659) Attached to: How Sony, Intel, and Unix Made Apple's Mac a PC Competitor

Iphone development in 2007 driving Mac sales? Probably not. iPhone didn't even get an app store until 2008.

Boot Camp was a feature specific to Intel-based macs. People using Parallels was more common though. Prior to the Intel Mac, nobody in their right mind depended on Virtual PC, it was way too slow.

I think being able to run Windows software at acceptable performance levels was the safety net a lot of people needed to invest in a Mac. That ability was also critical to Mac adoption in the workplace. I also think the increasing prevalence of Windows malware helped convert some folks who were bitten too many times.

Comment: Re: The real questions to ask (Score 1) 209

By denying you subsidized upgrades, Verizon has effectively increased the price of the unlimited data plan by about $18.75 per month. I come to this figure because you have lost the value of them being willing to kick in a ~$450 subsidy every two years.

So, if your wireless data rate plus around $20 per month is still better pricing than a limited data plan given your current usage, it's worth keeping unlimited.

I have unlimited data from AT&T still. They haven't gone down this road (yet). If they do, I'm going to have a hard time justifying keeping unlimited as I really don't use that much data usually, but I like not having to worry about it. They will be at a much higher risk of me defecting to another carrier, though.

Comment: Re:I dunno about LEDs, but CFLs don't last (Score 2) 602

by djrobxx (#48002833) Attached to: The Great Lightbulb Conspiracy

Further - no viable light bulb replacements will work with dimmer switches (Which my house has many).

Although I'm sure some must exist, I haven't seen an LED bulb that's NOT dimmable, even the newest cheapest ones. Their dimmability is one of their their best advantages over CFL. Dimmable CFLs do exist, but they don't work very well; they are usually quite bright at the lowest dim setting.

I put in around 20 recessed CREE (EcoSmart-branded) LEDs almost 4 years ago. All of them are on dimmer switches. None have burned out yet. I've since put in lots of others both indoors and out. I did have one landscape LED fail - it started blinking like a turn signal a few weeks after I installed it. I also had one screw-in bulb that failed within a week. In both cases I was able to exchange them at the store since they were early failures.

Comment: Re:Hey, great idea here, guys... (Score 1) 76

by djrobxx (#47733537) Attached to: Apple CarPlay Rollout Delayed By Some Carmakers

When was the last time you actually used Pioneer's audio gear? It's a pathetic joke. The included entertainment system in a Toyota Camry is better than that garbage.

Last year we bought a 2012 AVIC-X740BT which had a 4.5 out of 5 star rating on Crutchfield. It also has the "AppRadio" feature you mention. Checked out various reviews, they all suggested this was a decent unit. Using it very much reminds me of the crappy smartphones we had before Apple and Android took control of the cellular market.

1) The Windows-CE based unit takes forever to boot up, probably around 30 seconds.
2) The bluetooth pairing process does not start until after the unit has completely booted. So it takes almost 45 seconds to a minute before you can use bluetooth audio or make a call. Even my 2008 G37 pairs quickly after the car is started.
3) Bluetooth audio does not auto-play. You have to manually start the music on the device once it notifies you that the phone has connected. At this point you might be halfway to your destination if it's nearby.
4) USB mass storage devices are limited to a few hundred songs. It takes about 2 minutes to scan a USB stick full of music each time you start the car. The inter-track delay increases as you get further down the list of songs, too. Checking out various car audio forums, most everyone suggests buying an iPod because that's the only way you get a usable music playback interface for a decent size music library.
5) The touch screen is slow and it's hard to scroll through lists fluidly.
7) The app radio stuff is super slow and clunky. It's barely functional, just enough that the concept sounds appealing but something you'll probably never actually use in practice. It's way easier to just use Pandora, etc. through the bluetooth audio.

After seeing the AppRadio implementation on this unit, I can't even imagine having the "dumber" unit that only does AppRadio. Granted, things may have improved in the 2013 and 2014 models but I seriously doubt they've completely changed their ways.

I pretty much have to assume that CarPlay and its Android counterpart will be far superior what Pioneer is currently offering. Both Apple and Google have a much better understanding of how to implement intuitive consumer electronics than the big name aftermarket car audio guys ever will from what I've seen.
 

Comment: Re:Where's the new ROI calculator? (Score 3, Informative) 262

by djrobxx (#47267407) Attached to: Elon Musk's Solar City Is Ramping Up Solar Panel Production

Solar panels typically have a 20 year warranty, and are guaranteed to output 80% of their power at year 20 (these figures are required to be met in order for the systems to qualify for tax incentives, so they're pretty common amongst manufacturers). They'll most likely continue working after the warranty. I will, however, probably have to replace my inverter every 10 years or so. It looks like I can pick up a new one on ebay for around $2000 right now. I'm hoping the cost of these drops over time or the technology improves such that my next one is more reliable.

As for ROI, my break even was only 5-6 years. In Southern California we pay dearly for electricity (over 30 cents per kWh once you get past some scant "baseline"), but we have plenty of sunshine. It's been almost 3 years now. The estimated savings for my $15k investment was projected at $100k or so over 20 years. I feel they're using too high of a percentage year-over-year increase of utility power, but even if I only make half that, it's still a good investment.

I did opt to buy instead of a pre-paid lease. The salescritters promised that the leasing companies would effectively gift me the system for $0 at year 20 because it would be too costly to remove, and that the real money was in the accelerated depreciation in years 0-5. However, if I think of the solar panels as a money printing machine, it seems unlikely that the panels, even if they're 20 years old, would have a fair market value of $0. No business would give away something that they can get money for, so I have to assume that at year 20 they will do something to ensure they continue to get a profit from the system that they legally own on my roof. Forget that uncertainty, I decided to just buy it so there are no unknowns. I think it will be really fascinating to see what happens to all of these ultra-long leases in the 2032 time frame.

Comment: Re:Not just that (Score 1) 127

by djrobxx (#47194953) Attached to: Sony Overtakes Rival Nintendo In Console Sales

The Wii controller was a bit better than a gimmick. It re-introduced the light gun in a way that works on modern plasma and LCD TVs, and in a way that can be part of a more elaborate control system. People loved the Zapper on the NES, but the games were pretty shallow because all you could do is pull the trigger.

If you played Metroid Prime with the Gamecube, and then the remade Wii version with the Wii controller, you'll find the Wii controller version is unquestionably better for the gaming experience, because you can aim and shoot at the enemies, instead of fighting with an auto-targeting system. Of course, this is meaningless with the Wii-U's controller, which is a regular game pad with a screen, which is not a new concept - the Dreamcast had something similar. Fortunately games can still use the original Wii controllers.

I was excited to get a HD Nintendo console, but so far the experience ha fallen flat. The key Nintendo franchise games have not materialized. I have no interest in playing the old Wind Waker game again. I want a new Zelda or Metroid title.
 

Comment: Re:Not Really Passed... (Score 1) 432

by djrobxx (#47192045) Attached to: Turing Test Passed

> So this isn't really AI, it's a take on the Eliza program of the late 80s/early 90s that hides the computer better.

Although the site's being slashdotted at the moment, I saw some transcripts of Eugene chats, and I was disappointed that it didn't seem to be that great of an improvement over Eliza. It still uses a lot of the same sorts of very generic, pedantic responses to try and change the subject to fake not having a real answer. By now I'd expect to see some improvements in terms of keeping to a conversation's overall context. Perhaps try to bring up a related topic to something previously discussed. Instead we still have generic stuff like "I'm glad you agreed. Oh, what a fruitful conversation;-)" or "Even my grandpa would find your words strange."

Speaking of trascripts, here are some from chatbot batles:
http://www.square-bear.co.uk/c...

Comment: Re:Hell Yes! (Score 3, Informative) 251

by djrobxx (#47072005) Attached to: It's Time For the <em>Descent</em> Games Return

The original Descent and its sequel were open-sourced, there are Direct3D versions of it now that run on modern OSes. I used to use D2X, but there's

http://www.dxx-rebirth.com/

which seems to be popular now. Configuring an old game controller should be a non-issue, the game supports full configuration of whatever inputs your controller supports, and the USB/Game port adapters will map all of the available controls to DirectInput pretty cleanly. I played Descent with D2X using an Xbox controller and it worked great. Today's modern controllers with dual analog sticks and buttons galore are great for Descent. :)

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