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Comment: Tick (1.8 sec), TICK (1.8 sec), tick (1.8 sec) (Score 5, Insightful) 433

by dpbsmith (#48595067) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Different technologies have different characteristics, and I guess one has to use one's personal weighting function. I had a pretty good system (AR turntable, top-of-the-line Shure cartridge, electrostatic earphones) and I love digital audio and honestly don't know how anyone can stand vinyl.

I used a dust bug, I used a DiscWasher, I treated my records very carefully, but there always came the dreaded moment when I would hear: "tick." And at that point, I'd always tense up, and only relax 1.8 seconds later if I didn't hear a second "tick." Three consecutive "ticks" 1.8 seconds apart would seriously interfere with my enjoyment of the sound. My success rate on removing them by cleaning was very low--more often then not, the cleaning attempt (even with the best D4 fluid etc.) would simply add a very delicate, light background crackle.

And I am not even talking about tape hiss, surface noise, warp wow, rumble, and a little trace of 60 Hz hum that I never could quite get rid of. And ugh, getting to the end of a symphony and having the big loud glorious coda come up in the inner groove (vinyl was pretty good at the outer edge, but no-kidding-obvious-problems in the slower-moving inner grooves).

And taking the occasional bad pressing back to the record store and arguing with the store clerk about exchanging it.

And changing the darn record every 20-30 minutes... and feeling guilty if I left it unattended and came back later to find it had been playing the end-groove for hours.

Even with a good tonearm and lightweight cartridge, vinyl does not sound as good on the tenth playing as it did on the first.

Digital audio may have its faults and if people enjoy the characteristics of vinyl, there can be no dispute about tastes. But to me the positives outweigh the negatives--by about a factor of ten.

Comment: Re:Slashdot built Wikipedia? (Score 1) 167

by dpbsmith (#48510831) Attached to: Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

I assume it's a loose reference to overlap between techies interested in open-source products.

In the very early days techies were among the earliest editors, and the content was heavily weighted toward software and computers. My personal introduction to Wikipedia occurred when I was Googling for information some technical details on ASCII--specifically, to confirm my suspicion that both DEC operating systems and CP/M ERRONEOUSLY had used CTRL-Z where CTRL-Y should have been used, confirming that CP/M got some of its ideas from DEC operating systems.

Anyway, by far the best article that came up in the search was Wikipedia's article on ASCII. It was the first time I'd seen Wikipedia, and of course I kept thinking it had something to do with Wiccans etc.

Comment: A Citizendium for news? (Score 2, Interesting) 167

by dpbsmith (#48510765) Attached to: Is a "Wikipedia For News" Feasible?

It seems as if there is some historical revisionism going on. My understanding is that Larry Sanger was a guiding light behind NuPedia, a web encyclopedia that was to be written by experts and vetted by authorities--and that after several years of work, only a few hundred articles were completed.

Wikipedia was started as a side-project and rapidly outpaced NuPedia. Sanger acknowledged its success but regretted Wikipedia's failure to value expertise, and proceeded to launch a new project, Citizendium, which has struggled and sputtered and currently survives with about 20,000 articles and relatively little prominence.

While Jimmy Wales acknowledges Sanger as a co-founder of Wikipedia, and has said that Sanger created many of the policies that to which Wales credits Wikipedia's success, nevertheless it seems a little disingenuous for Sanger to emphasize "Wikipedia."

Comment: Deja vu... (Score 5, Informative) 203

by dpbsmith (#48079489) Attached to: A Production-Ready Flying Car Is Coming This Month

Googling on 'site:slashdot.org "flying car"' turns up numerous references to flying cars, ALL in very advanced stages of development and ready for production, flying your way soon.

Terrafugia... "Flying Car Passes First Flight Test..."

PAL-V One, "Finally, a flying car for the masses" made its first maiden flight...

M400 flying car "more economical than SUV"...

"the SkyCar, an invention by Moller International" was to be "Ready by end of year." And that year was 1999.

Comment: Leaving the name to stand for... what? (Score 1) 1

by dpbsmith (#48011357) Attached to: Yahoo Shutters Its Yahoo Directory

Yahoo! was originally an acronym for "Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle."

If it doesn't stand for that any more, then it must stand for Jonathan Swift's fictional Yahoos, creatures that were "filthy and with unpleasant habits, resembling human beings far too closely for the liking of protagonist Lemuel Gulliver.... The Yahoos are primitive creatures obsessed with 'pretty stones'they find by digging in mud, thus representing the distasteful materialism and ignorant elitism Swift encountered in Britain. Hence the term 'yahoo' has come to mean 'a crude, brutish or obscenely coarse person."

A pity that they are doing this. As time goes on and SEO gets cleverer and cleverer, I find that Google's searches are becoming less and less good, and it would seem that a human-generated directory would start to become useful once again.

Comment: They must be playing musical chairs quickly... (Score 1) 352

by dpbsmith (#47884613) Attached to: Microsoft Killing Off Windows Phone Brand Name In Favor of Just Windows

These days Microsoft is changing their branding around faster than a huckster playing the shell game. No end-user knows what the implied promise of any of their brands is, and none of their brands are stable for long enough to figure out whether the implied promise is kept.

I'm guessing this is a reflection of inner turmoil, and that whenever some internal group gets a new manager, that manager gets to pick new names for everything.

Microsoft, like some other companies, doesn't quite get it that perception is only part of the reality, the reality is also part of the reality. You can't solve the problem of inconsistent user interfaces just by calling it all "Windows."

Comment: Why is this better than simulation? (Score 2) 56

by dpbsmith (#47674505) Attached to: A Thousand Kilobots Self-Assemble Into Complex Shapes

It's sort of cool, I guess, but I don't see the benefit of actually building physical robots rather than running a simulation. What has been achieved in the real world doesn't seem to have any practical application, even as an advertising gimmick or a work of sculpture.

I can't imagine sending out 100,000 of these gadget to do the half-time show at a football game, for example.

I didn't sense that this was just the beginning and that the same devices that self-assemble predetermined shapes could, with more advance software, harvest wheat or perform laser surgery.

When they reach the point where the simulated behavior actually has some real-world utility, THEN it makes sense to build them.

Comment: Does the binary multiplier I built in 1961 count? (Score 1) 391

by dpbsmith (#47613327) Attached to: How long ago did you last assemble a computer?

The one I built out of several dozen 12 volt DPDT relays I bought on Cortland Street? To be honest, it had no memory and no stored program, all it could do was multiply 5 bits by 5 bits... but I called it a "computer." I had the devil of a time powering it because my 12V DC HO-gauge train transformer couldn't supply enough current. Thank heaven for #6 ignition cells.

Comment: Circularity-"reliable sources" trusting Wikipedia (Score 3, Interesting) 189

by dpbsmith (#47570449) Attached to: An Accidental Wikipedia Hoax

It's a real problem, because Wikipedia's trustworthiness depends on its verifiability policy. Everything in Wikipedia is supposed to be traceable to a reliable source. Unfortunately, Wikipedia itself has become so trustworthy that supposedly trustworthy sources are becoming too uncritical about trusting Wikipedia.

Back circa 2004-2005 a respected editor added a statement to an article saying that Rutgers had been originally been invited to join the Ivy League but had declined. This interesting, plausible, and credible statement was in the article for a while, but was eventually challenged.

The editor originally had trouble providing a good source, but eventually came up with a newspaper article in a New Jersey newspaper, one that would usually be considered a reliable source. Other editors were inclined to accept, this, until one of them realized it was a fairly recent article, contacted the reporter, and asked for the reporter's source.

The reporter replied that he had read it in Wikipedia and used it (without attribution).

Now, it's not clear whether or not the statement is true. The last I knew, the editor said he had gotten it from an old issue of the "Targum," the Rutgers University newspaper, which would probably have qualified as a reliable source, but since he was unable to provide volume, issue, date, or page numbers, the statement was not verifiable at that time and was removed.

But it is an clear example of circular reference--an unverifiable statement almost being kept in Wikipedia, based on support from a "reliable" source that had gotten it from Wikipedia.

Comment: The "Your mileage may vary" problem (Score 1) 550

by dpbsmith (#47524885) Attached to: Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

Bodies vary. No two surgical procedures are the same.

People are always saying something like "a hernia repair is nothing," when what they mean is "MY hernia repair was nothing."

Even if YOUR LASIK went well... ...even if MOST LASIKs so well... ...even if ALMOST ALL LASIKs go well... ...you have to multiply the probability by the consequences.

First, start thinking about what a 1% chance means. For example, I've had blood drawn literally hundreds of times, and donated blood dozens of times. The phlebotomists always tell me I have "beautiful veins." It's nothing. Nothing at all. Then one day, for absolutely no reason I could tell, I was having a blood draw for some tests, didn't hurt, didn't feel clumsy... and ten minutes later there was a big black and blue lump that didn't go away for days and hurt enough to be annoying. That was probably an example of a "less than 1% chance" where the risk showed up.

The thing is, a 1% chance of getting an annoying bruise is no big deal. But a 1% chance of lousing up one of your eyes is.

Given a refractive error that can be completely corrected a) without surgery (i.e. a lens) or b) with surgery, one should be cautious about choosing surgery. It is, after all, UNNECESSARY surgery.

The absent ones are always at fault.

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