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Comment: Better than WHICH integrated audio? (Score 1) 296

Which integrated audio is it comparing to?

Let's use Realtek as an example, because they're a very common one. They have a variety of chips, ranging from the ALC231 to the ALC1150,

The ALC231 is rubbish. Four output channels (two stereo outputs), four input channels, and a 97dB SNR on output. But even that is probably enough for most users.

A good "middle-end" chip is the ALC861. That brings you up to 7.1 audio out, and a pile of sound-processing features (EAX, A3D, all that - including Creative's own standards). You still only have a 90dB SNR, but on a clean line that's tolerable. And it's cheap enough to be seen on sub-$150 motherboards.

Their top-end ALC1150 is basically the same, adding a few more output channels for some reason, a second ADC, and a 115dB SNR. That puts you above the low-end SoundBlasters, and within spitting distance of the high-end ones. On an integrated chipset. For anyone not doing professional audio work, that's probably enough. And you can find it on motherboards that cost less than this discrete card alone - sometimes even with advanced features like swappable op-amps.

It gets worse, because the main advantage of a discrete card is the SNR. Problem is, S/PDIF over TOSLINK is becoming a more common feature. And that means your computer's DAC doesn't matter - it's done on the sound system itself. Line noise isn't an issue, because it's fiber-optic. Every single Realtek chip I looked at supported this - probably not every implementation does, but it's something that doesn't cost the manufacturer any more than the cost of the connectors. That's another blow against them.

This isn't like video cards, where integrated can handle light users but any remotely intensive task requires at least a low-end discrete card. Probably not even one in a thousand users will need a discrete sound card - the ones who need more than the low-end integrated chips, like gamers, will be buying mobos that already have a higher-end audio chip.

Comment: Possible, yes, but feasible? (Score 2) 104

by gman003 (#47403887) Attached to: ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers

Helicopters work well on Earth for several reasons - first, our oxygen-bearing atmosphere means we don't have to carry our own oxidizer, just fuel, which makes it far more mass-efficient. Then our thick atmosphere means you get a lot more lift for a given amount of airspeed.

I have no doubt that you could get a rotorcraft to work on Mars. It's a question of whether it will work better than alternatives - such as the rockets used by Curiosity. But in essence this will have to be a rocket-powered rotorcraft as well - either rocket-like gas generators, or electric motors would be needed to work in the oxygenless environment, and I don't see electric being feasible in this situation. It then comes down to "is it more efficient to use the fuel+oxidizer to turn a rotor at supersonic speeds, or use it as a rocket?"

I'm no rocket scientist, but it seems to me that the simple extra mass of the rotor is a big strike against it being a good alternative to rockets, never mind the thinner atmosphere.

Comment: Re:What's wrong with reselling? (Score 3, Insightful) 131

by gman003 (#47396939) Attached to: Oculus Suspends Oculus Rift Dev Kit Sales In China

The problem is that this is not a consumer product - it's a development kit. It isn't ready for consumers yet, and is intended only for use by developers so they can have something ready when the retail version is available.

Reselling to non-developers might give Oculus a bad rep because they're being judged by an incomplete product that wasn't supposed to be used by such people. So I can see why Oculus is trying to avoid this happening.

Comment: Re:I dont see a problem here (Score 1) 146

by gman003 (#47388107) Attached to: NASA Approves Production of Most Powerful Rocket Ever

My problem with SLS is that it's a rocket built almost entirely on existing tech, and it's still taking them this long to develop it. You're taking existing engines, existing boosters, and (in some configurations) existing upper stages, and yet you still have nothing to show after three years and millions of dollars? Not to mention all the design work you could reuse from almost identical programs that got scrapped - I'm sure there's work from Ares V that could be reused.

Comment: Re:Step 1 (Score 1) 196

by gman003 (#47343255) Attached to: How Apple Can Take Its Headphones To the Next Level

I'd like to know where you're finding them for $15, because I can't find any for less than $30 or so in stores around here. They'd be perfectly fine earbuds for $15. The problem is that stores are selling those $15 for at least twice that.

I use cheap $15 earbuds myself - after spending $80 on a headset that broke repeatedly and didn't even sound that good, I swore off expensive headphones in favor of something I could regularly throw into a river and still spend less.

Comment: CAR ANALOGY, SUCKAS! (Score 2) 347

by gman003 (#47310765) Attached to: Evidence of a Correction To the Speed of Light

Okay, let's say you have two cars, a Porsche and an NSX (representing a photon and a neutrino, respectively). Both are limited by the same speed limit, which they always travel at (the speed of light).

Well, due to some weird quantum mechanics, every so often that Porsche splits into a pair of motorcycles, because apparently they got bought by Wayne Enterprises or something (in actuality, they split into an electron and anti-electron). They almost immediately join back together (forming a photon again), but while they're motorcycles, they are affected by wind (gravity). They still can't break the speed limit, but sometimes it slows them down just a bit.

When you're traveling almost literally between galaxies, that little bit of slowdown for tiny snippets of time can really make a difference. In this case, the NSX made it here a few hours earlier.

Comment: Missing the whole point (Score 2) 270

Net neutrality isn't about forbidding high-traffic companies from finding efficient ways to handle that traffic. Doing what Netflix usually does, having a local cache server hosted within the ISP, works because it reduces the amount of traffic leaving the ISP. As long as the ISP charges the same amount to everyone doing so (0 is a good amount - it's a benefit to them - but if they want to charge a nominal fee, fair enough), it's neutral.

Net neutrality is about not letting ISPs slow down traffic unless they get paid twice.

If the only difference between two sites is that one paid the danegeld and the other didn't, they aren't making one faster - they're making the other slower. Deliberately degrading the performance of everyone else is NOT neutral.

Comment: Re:Why don't we ever see these stories about... (Score 4, Informative) 28

by gman003 (#47288501) Attached to: SpaceX's Friday Launch Scrubbed

Er, Wallops is a launch site, like Canaveral. Pretty much anyone can launch from there - the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is located there. If you're referring to OSC, who are the major non-government users of Wallops, you're being needlessly confusing.

Also, OSC is good at cobbling together pieces. The Minotaurs are recycled ICBMs, either Peacekeepers or Minuteman missiles. The Antares uses Russian engines, a Ukrainian-designed first stage, then an off-the-shelf solid-fuel second stage. They do remarkably good work considering their limitations, but much of the work of "getting to space" was already done for them, they just had to make it work with their payloads and launch facilities.

SpaceX is doing everything from scratch - much more expensive, but it has the advantage of not making them reliant on anyone else. OSC is already in trouble because Russia is cutting off their supply of engines for Antares. They'll also be in trouble if the US military ever cuts off their supply of old missiles, either because they need them as missiles again, or because they've simply run out. OSC does good work, but they seem to be a dead-end in the long term.

Comment: Pointless mission (Score 0, Troll) 65

by gman003 (#47283545) Attached to: NASA Funds Projects For Asteroid-Capture Plan

What, exactly, does this mission get us?

The composition of asteroids is fairly well-known, both from the numerous meteorites we've recovered, and from the numerous spacecraft missions, including a sample return (Hayabusa). Unmanned probes can't do nearly the same scope of exploration as a manned mission, but asteroids are small. Does one even deserve a manned mission, much less several manned missions?

What is there to be gained from an asteroid capture and manned exploration? I'm all for manned exploration, but it seems like Mars or Titan or something might be a better target.

Comment: Re:DECwindows ;) (Score 1) 204

by gman003 (#47278213) Attached to: X Window System Turns 30 Years Old

That's why you lead with the definition when explaining it. You don't even have to agree with it, you just have to understand that that is why it's named the way it is.

"Client" being "user-facing computer" and "server" being "user-remote computer" is a different definition - just as valid a definition, and perhaps a more common one, but as long as you can explain the definition X uses you should be good.

Comment: What's the news? (Score 2) 398

by gman003 (#47264601) Attached to: Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks

It's been known for years now that Japan and Germany are "nuclear-capable" nations. They have everything they need to start a nuclear program, and could probably get there in a year if they wanted to.

Up to now, they haven't wanted to. Japan, however, is threatened by not one but two nuclear-armed nations. China is looking to expand everywhere, and is particularly ready to fight over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands (brief aside: if you look at them on a map, they're closest to Taiwan - let's give it to them and piss both China and Japan off, if they can't find a way to just share the oil). And then there's North Korea, which has practically made a cult out of hating America and Japan, and has been lobbing missiles towards Japan just to get attention. They haven't been stupid enough to actually attack them yet, but I certainly can't fault Japan for getting concerned about it.

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. -- A.H. Weiler