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Comment: Re:No. (Score 1) 479

Even then, the signal-to-noise ratios of onboard has been good enough for years now. Sure, you might notice a slight difference with a good pair of headphones, but in practice, not so much.

My previous computer was a Q6600 with a SoundBlaster. The sound card did have better sound than the integration audio. For the most part it sounded okay, but the onboard did have a small buzz which was noticeable at higher volumes. It also did not support as many channels, so a small amount of the time some sounds in games would cut out. The SoundBlaster card did not have any buzz, supported more channels, and generally sounded slightly better. But I admit the difference was minor.

When I put together my Ivy Bridge i7 system a year and a half ago, I again compared the state of a (then) brand new integrated chip (RealTek something or other) with the SoundBlaster. No difference. No buzzing either way, and the integrated sound supports plenty of channels. So I agree, but some people in this thread have mentioned the time was 10-15 years ago when I think it is half that long. Regardless of how we got to this point, this is where we are at now.

Comment: Personal Hub (Score 4, Interesting) 56

by Simon Brooke (#47422709) Attached to: The Future of Wearables: Standalone, Unobtrusive, and Everywhere

Probably the future of wearables is the personal hub.

The problem with wearables is that a radio capable of sustaining a connection to the outside world - be it 4g or wifi - needs a fair bit of power and consequently quite a lot of battery. So devices have to be fairly chunky, or else have to be recharged more often than you'd like. But your bluetooth mouse probably goes months on one charge - mine certainly does. So the solutions is to have a device mounted discreetly on your belt or in your handbag, or carried in a pocket, which just acts as a personal hub/firewall, doing backhaul for your wearables. It doesn't need a screen. It doesn't need apps. But once it's paired with your wearables, you can use a device which has no backhaul capability to make phone calls or to access any service on the Internet.

This is an extension of how Google Glass or your Pebble watch already uses your smartphone. The smartphone acts as a personal hub. But if the display you actually use is the one on your Glass or the one on your Pebble, you don't need the big, fragile, power-hungry screen on your smartphone any more; so the personal hub can be cheaper and much more durable than any smartphone.

Once you've got that concept, there are other services that a personal hub can supply to your wearables, for example storage.

Comment: Re:Modern Day Anti-Evolutionists (Score 3, Insightful) 428

by Simon Brooke (#47414851) Attached to: Climate Change Skeptic Group Must Pay Damages To UVA, Michael Mann

Ain't going to happen, sadly. As the temperate zone moves closer to the world's poles, and the regions we're currently growing cereal crops on become progressively more arid, there is simply less area of land (square miles or kilometres or however you want to measure it) on which crops can be grown - and that's ignoring the costs of clearing and draining that land, and all the effects of ecocide.

At the same time as this is happening, of course, all our critical infrastructure will become unusable unless we make huge new investments in flood walls. For example, I work for a major international bank, which, obviously, has its critical data infrastructure replicated in seven cities across the globe. Only one problem: in six of those seven cities, our data centres are within ten metres of current sea level. Most major financial centres are old port cities, and all old port cities are on the coast. So over the next fifty years we have to either all relocate our trading infrastructure, or else abandon it. What I expect will happen is that we'll delay and dawdle until it's too late, and then our whole civilisation will collapse under the combined pressures of hunger, refugees, and rising water levels.

We're already past the point where there's any hope of the planet being able to support even half its current population in 100 years time. The real policy question is how we now radically reduce the population without war, pestilence, famine and death.

Comment: Re:Come now. (Score 1) 102

by Dogtanian (#47414185) Attached to: How Japan Lost Track of 640kg of Plutonium

According to another post [] this plutonium could not be used to make a bomb, and the explanation makes sense to me. So even if they change the constitution they won't be making any bombs, at least not with this plutonium.

This story rang some bells with me, and yes, it does appear to be the same case already reported on Slashdot (the figure given in the linked article there was also 640kg).

That time, however, the slant was on the Chinese being concerned that the Japanese may have been "stockpiling" this missing plutonium for weapons.

Which begs the question as to why, if it couldn't be used to make an atomic bomb?

Comment: BOOM! Take that ye scurvy bilgerats! (Score 1) 203

my old $500 epson is not as fast as a $50 cannon, but it renders images better

To be fair, I wouldn't expect a cannon to render *any* images very well. On the other hand, it probably does better than an Epson in defending ships against pirate vessels. (Well, perhaps not a $50 model...)

Comment: Re:Why is it cheaper in China? (Score 4, Insightful) 526

by JanneM (#47404693) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

But an assembly line manned by robots? Why should that be cheaper in China? Is capital that much cheaper?

Even if wages and other costs were equal, the location advantage is substantial. It's not that it's cheaper in China, but that it's cheaper in the huge manufacturing hubs. You have suppliers and manufacturers for just about every single component you need without long-distance shipping, and a deep pool of design and manufacturing expertise working in the area.

That's not to say you can't manufacture efficiently elsewhere (we have plenty of recent examples such as the Raspberry Pi), but that the advantages has as much to do with the concentration of resources as with the cost of labour and regulations. And of course, as this inudstry becomes ever more automated, it no longer matters much for jobs where it happens any longer.

Comment: Re:Boards or ROM's (Score 2) 133

When I was about 15, there was a Laundromat down the street with an old Asteroids game where the vector monitor worked fine except that the beam never turned off, so you could see how it sat dead center in the screen most of the time, then drew a line from one asteroid to the next, to the next, etc. as it rendered a frame.

Let me guess... eventually it burned a hole all the way through the centre of the screen until one day it got through and (a) blasted the woman whose job it was to collect the change from the machines' head off or (b) lasered her, segment-by-segment- via an early-80s pseudo-computer-effect- into the Asteroids machine itself where she was forced to play life and death computer games and interact with anthropomorphic, sentient realisations of abstract computer concepts, while finding some way to prove that she *was* due the five hours overtime they'd refused to pay her?

Comment: Re:But the Tokyo area is so crowded (Score 2) 133

Secondly, even in Tokyo proper if you travel to any point in the city that is more than a 10-15 minute walk from a station(and there are plenty of them) you will find plenty of run-down and abandoned buildings. Property in Tokyo seems to follow an inverse square law, the value is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the closest station.

Which begs the question- would it be worth someone's time to buy some of these unwanted out-of-the-way buildings and then fund (possibly fully) the construction of a line and station covering that area?

That quite obviously wouldn't be cheap- to put it mildly- but given the ludicrous value of some buildings and land in Tokyo, the returns could be huge.

I took a fish head to the movies and I didn't have to pay. -- Fish Heads, Saturday Night Live, 1977.