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Comment: Re:Somewhat cheap - Sounds fine. (Score 1) 249

by gordguide (#49030133) Attached to: How good is your audio equipment?

I spent the most that I felt needed to sound 'fine' to me. What's with the pairing of subjective terms? What I spent could be seen as a lot (to someone who's never bought audio equipment) or a super-budget (to an audiophile).

  • Onkyo TX-8255 receiver - $120
  • Pioneer SP-BS22-LR Bookshelf speakers - $126
  • Audio Technica AT-LP60 - $100

I've also got an audio interface separate from the built-in one for my laptop, but I only use it for recording.

You could certainly go cheaper (laptop -> active speakers or cheapo turntable with speaker built into them) or way way more expensive (audiophile-quality).

Your choices ARE "audiophile quality" because you chose wisely (although I would have spent a bit more on the TT, say a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon). Price does not (and never has) = value. The point to take away, though, is your baseline is good enough that you could now evaluate a more expensive component and know whether it's an improvement or not, again regardless of the asking price. Another option would be TEAC who have a nice stereo receiver with phono for $180 with 100w/ch versus the Onkyo's 50w @ $120.

Comment: Re:Cheap and sounds great! (Score 1) 249

by gordguide (#49029737) Attached to: How good is your audio equipment?
Certainly there are good values available with used equipment and I recommend anyone interested in good sound to explore that option; typical savings over original MSRP with quality gear is more (sometimes much more) than 50%. However, there are certain areas where buying new pays dividends ... #1 is loudspeakers. Of all the areas of HiFi, there have been more advancements in loudspeaker technology than any other area, and I highly recommend buying new, regardless of budget (which could be as little as $150/pair; even at that price level you are looking at a few models that outclass what you would have had to spend $300 to get 5 years ago). The improvements cover the spectrum ... cabinet construction, crossover technology and the drivers themselves. I have been either following the industry or actively employed in it since the 70's ... there has never been more choice in the marketplace than there is today, and there is no need to spend megabucks to get truly great sound. But, as always, there is plenty of mediocre product out there as well. Use your own judgement.

Comment: Re:Sony thought ... (Score 1) 391

by gordguide (#48754899) Attached to: Sony Thinks You'll Pay $1200 For a Digital Walkman
VHS was licensed by JVC to anyone who asked, while SONY refused to license BetaMAX. So inertia built on the VHS format because everyone would sell you a VHS deck, even off-brand units at Wall-Mart. Then the *other* studios started dropping their BetaMAX releases. SONY did eventually decide to license their format, but once the software supply narrowed, it was just a matter of time. I'm not sure "marketing" had much to do with it, but even so, SONY's well-known propensity for exclusive formats was the real killer.

Comment: Re: Clearly (Score 2) 391

by gordguide (#48754385) Attached to: Sony Thinks You'll Pay $1200 For a Digital Walkman
When surveyed, people claim their #1 Priority criteria for headphones is "sound quality". And then they buy "Beats by Dr. Dre", which do not sound terrible, but have never won a direct comparison versus the brands that have been building 'phones for Pro's for 60+ years. The premium headphone market ($100+) is worth about $1.6 Billion annually; "Beats" sells about $1.5 Billion annually. This SONY seems to be trying to compete with the ASTELL & KERN products, such as the $2500 AK240, which sells in small volumes but does sell. As for $ six-figure+ sound systems being "off the shelf", well, no, they're not. They are a fixed specification, but sales figures like "5" or "2" are not unheard of. Lexicon, a fairly well known Home Theatre manufacturer, indicated in print it expected to sell "about 30" copies of it's flagship BLU-Ray player, for example.

Comment: Make Them Pay (Score 1) 401

by gordguide (#47465485) Attached to: Comcast Customer Service Rep Just Won't Take No For an Answer
I had a little hassle with my Cable Company over cancelling my service, so I just hung up and redialed. The second call was to "remove the cable drop" because the "house was being demolished". They actually gave me a little grief over this, so I said "either you remove it or I will, and I won't be careful". This costs them (around here) about $200 because they contract this to a third party company. Don't worry if you want cable again in the future, they will happily re-install the drop. Costs them ANOTHER $200). You can do this any number of times you want. They will always remove and reinstall at their expense.

Comment: Just some quiet lobbying for a done deal (Score 1) 164

Prime Minister Harper is determined to expand FT agreements worldwide. Last week the final touches on the FTA with the EU was finalized. They have eliminated the Canadian Wheat Board late in 2011 ... something that the US vigorously demanded in the original US-Canada FTA signed by George Bush Sr and PM Brian Mulroney and ratified by the two governments in 1988 ... and then equally vigorously demanded a second time when the Canada-US FTA was abandoned and NAFTA (adding Mexico) took it's place. He has also gone on record as saying he will dismantle any legislation that stands in the way of the Trans Pacific Partnership (there are Dairy and Poultry mechanisms that are also on the chopping block, and which the US is keen to exploit once they do).

Since he's already (twice) introduced the very legislation this story calls for over a number of years (due to political realities, like elections and minority governments they haven't yet been able to pass the legislation, but with a fresh mandate and a solid majority this time it won't be an issue) I very strongly suspect this is a planted comment asked for by Canadian diplomats and the US has complied. It's clearly designed to blunt some of the opposition to many aspects of the bill domestically (and which have been subjects on /. previously). The hard reality is he has the power to pass the law anytime over the next 3 years or so and he will.

I can imagine diplomats on both sides smiling at the success of the plant making Slashdot.

Comment: Re:multitasking (Score 1) 1003

by gordguide (#38391344) Attached to: Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

It's not like it's unheard of. To get a pilot's licence, you have to experience and recover from a stall ... a potentially fatal condition that causes many air fatalities. The thing is, they don't just talk about it ... they put you in the goddamn airplane, take off and fly in the air, put you at the controls, and then make you stall the goddamn plane, and make you recover from the stall. The instructor sometimes has to intervene to save your life, and his. You can expect to experience pretty much all of the other possible danger conditions, and have to show competency getting out of them, or you fail.

A bunch of mechanical stuff is on the written test ... you have to know about the various kinds of engines, propellers, brake systems, how they work, what to do if one fails, etc.

Having said all that, getting a pilot's license is not "hard". Any reasonably competent person can do it; including a few that shouldn't come within a hundred yards of a pilot's seat. I've flown with five pilots who are now dead, they were competent professionals but that's no guarantee all your problems will go away. They were all better pilots than some others I've flown with who are still alive and still incompetent.

So, it's not like more stringent license procedures would actually give us nothing but good drivers, but it would at least help a few people take it more seriously, and it might give us a slightly higher percentage of better drivers.

As long as people realize that a small improvement is all you're going to get out of it. It's not going to solve any "big picture" issues, which is what I think a lot of people who support it think is going to happen.

Comment: Re:Is it worth the risk? (Score 1) 1003

by gordguide (#38390964) Attached to: Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

I always like to keep in mind a headline from The Onion (a parody news magazine ... only mentioned because I have seen people take an Onion article seriously). But, like all parody, it works best when it reveals an underlying truth. Anyway ... the title:

"97% of Americans polled reveal they are in support of other people taking public transit."

Comment: Re:multitasking (Score 1) 1003

by gordguide (#38390804) Attached to: Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

It's pretty hard ... I'd say impossible, but perhaps there's some scenario one might imagine ... to use a manual transmission without anticipating traffic and executing your intentions deliberately and with planning. Nor is it all that easy to fiddle with a cellphone or drink coffee when both hands are needed to operate the vehicle.

If you look at cockpit videos of professional drivers, they have their right hand (North America) either on the wheel or on the shifter, and they don't rest their hand on the shifter; it goes to the wheel the moment it's not needed to operate the transmission.

I won't suggest the average manual driver has the same discipline or habits ... one hand on the wheel is common in every kind of car ... and the automatic transmission is hardly an evil thing, but it frees up an idle hand to create mischief, almost invitingly so.

I don't see anything wrong with a vehicle that requires two feet and two hands to operate; most people have all four and know how to use them.

Although I could be accused of commenting on the obvious, apparently it requires pointing out specifically ... you're there to drive the car. Using both your hands and both your feet to do so is hardly an intrusion; it's the only job you actually have at the moment.

Comment: It's an issue, regardless of this incident (Score 3, Informative) 1003

by gordguide (#38390088) Attached to: Why the NTSB Is Wrong About Cellphones

Can't comment on this particular accident.

However, we do have data in Canadian provinces regarding hand-held devices (cellphones, texting behaviour, etc) and driving.

In Saskatchewan (pop 1 million) fatal accidents known to have contributing factors of the driver either taking on a cellphone or texting while driving were 60 in 2010 (the last year data was available), with 8500 non-fatal accidents.

This compares to 69 fatalities attributed to impaired driving, with 760 injuries and only 1400 collisions.

Since impaired driving as a cause can be made with much more certainty (blood alcohol readings are taken from drivers either by breath analysis or blood tests at the hospital or by the coroner when road accidents are involved) it remains a possibility that talking/texting while driving has surpassed impaired driving (about 20%) as the major cause of road fatalities in that jurisdiction.

Comment: Not a Slashdot Story (Score 1) 374

by gordguide (#37878880) Attached to: Australia's Biggest Airline Grounds Its Entire Fleet

" ... Mistakes are often the stepping stones to utter failure. ..."

That was the Slashdot 'Quote of the day' displayed when I read this topic (and set out to grumble, which is what this comment is).

I actually don't really agree with the sentiment expressed ... mistakes are key to learning, and often lead us where our tunnel vision won't let us go. But you can't argue that all mistakes have some saintly outcome; some are just warnings that you should stop now and abandon your course. Maybe the random /. quote generator isn't so random.

On that note ...

Comment: Re:You mean that cell phone store? (Score 1) 413

by gordguide (#36272542) Attached to: RadioShack Trying To Return To Its DIY Roots

Somebody's going to post this link. It may as well be me. Even CEO Can't Figure Out How RadioShack Still In Business.

WOW! I don't think I've EVER seen that much truth in a CEO's statements. And he's right on, too. I have wondered what keeps RS going for years. ...

Ummm ... you do know that The Onion is a parody news site, right?

Comment: Re:You mean that cell phone store? (Score 5, Informative) 413

by gordguide (#36272458) Attached to: RadioShack Trying To Return To Its DIY Roots

the ones that have been rebranded 'The Source by Circuit City' in Canada still sell a modest range of components and miscellaneous useful adapters and cables and so on at decent prices. Nothing like as decent a range as Maplins in the UK, but better than the big box electronics stores.

Actually, they're neither Radio Shack or Circuit City operations in Canada.

They're owned by Bell Canada; Circuit City USA went bankrupt and in 2009 Bell bought the Canadian assets of The Source from Circuit City, which were still profitable and a viable operation, and operated by a Circuit City subsidiary, a company called InterTAN.

InterTAN was formed from the former Canadian operations of Tandy/Radio Shack ... don't know the exact date, but think 20 years or so, when Tandy USA spun off and sold them to Canadian investors. If you dig through your parts bin, you definitely have to go a long way back to find the Tandy Radio Shack name in the small print on the back of the package if you bought it in Canada; for many people, all they will have will be marked InterTAN instead, even if it says Radio Shack on the front.

There was a licensing agreement to use the Radio Shack name, however, as part of the deal. When Circuit City bought InterTAN in 2004, that licensing agreement was declared invalid (after a lawsuit, by Radio Shack USA, of course) in 2005. Thus the rename to "The Source by Circuit City".

Technically now they're called "The Source (Bell Electronics, Inc)". Some stores, however, to this day retain the old branding with the "The Source by Circuit City" name on the outside signage. You could probably chalk that up to Bell being cheap more than anything else.

InterTAN, which is still based in Barrie, Ontario, was created out of a big part of the "old" Radio Shack operation in Barrie, which was responsible for sourcing components offshore and commissioning the Radio Shack branded parts, like Archer, Realistic, etc, and warehousing and distributing stock for North America. It was sold by Radio Shack's parent company, I believe which is Tandy, and renamed InterTAN at that time.

So, there hasn't been a true Radio Shack in Canada for many years, and although the two companies have been independent for a very long time, there was some relationship that saw the same products in both stores, but also they differed with each offering unique products not available to the other. Although there is some relevance because there are similarities between the two national companies product mix and target customers, for the most part this /. submission has nothing to do with the Canadian situation.

Since they're now owned by one of Canada's largest cellular phone networks, it's hardly surprising that the phones are prominently marketed in the stores in Canada.

Have you ever noticed that the people who are always trying to tell you `there's a time for work and a time for play' never find the time for play?