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Comment: Re:USB DACs (Score 5, Interesting) 330

A USB audio interface also lies outside the electrically noisy interior of a PC chassis.

Strong caution with USB audio. There is a metric buttload of cheap USB adapters, While they technically work, they typically lack analog filtering that gets rid of higher harmonics. If you look at the output on an oscilloscope, instead of a smooth wave, you see the actual steps. Better audio hardware should have filters to smooth this stuff out.

Another MAJOR thing is inducing noise into the output. This is not just for USB cards, but all audio solutions. You need some pretty good filtering between the digital and analog power domains -- yet another area where cheap sound can skimp. Hey, let's shave $0.05 off by dropping this capacitor and inductor!

The original article really touches on two separate areas:
1) Audio processing
2) Higher quality audio circuitry

SoundBlaster (and other gaming-oriented cards) typically do both. However, do you really NEED both? The audio processing stuff is supposed to provide an API that games can use to make thing sound more realistic, or offload audio processing from software to hardware, or both. It can typically decode various dolby flavors, and do some other fancy DSP-ish type stuff. Do you really NEED all of that? If so, then maybe a gaming card is for you.

However, what if you want the best sound possible, the lowest noise possible, and don't really game or use the various audio enhancements? You just want a plain-vanilla sound card, but with the highest quality audio. Where to do? Skip the computer store, but go to your local MUSIC store (not the ones that sell CD's, the ones that sell GUITARS). Those cards skip all of the DSP bells and whistles, but have the best-quality DACs and filtering that you can find. You can find some really good USB solutions that will blow on-board audio out of the water for about $100 or so. Of course, you can go crazy and spend $500 or more if you want. If it is good enough for a music producer to use in a studio (who makes his or her living off of the sound), it is probably good enough for YOUR music and movies.

Comment: Re:Unions. (Score 2) 308

by harrkev (#47300811) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

In union there is strength, a lesson the geek never seems to learn. How else do you suppose a day laborer can out-match the billionaire in politics?

Yes, and "union" is nearly as useful as "struct."

Geek humor aside, I am not actually against unions, but I am against making union membership mandatory. In an ideal world, labor vs. management would be a perfect balance. However, bad things happen when one side gets more power over the other. If management is too powerful, poor working conditions and poor wages may result. If unions become too powerful, then the actual competitiveness of the company can be impacted.

True story:

I used to work for a company who is currently known for making a cell phone spy tower named after a flat marine animal. This was well over a decade ago. I had helped design an electronic module used to help test a fighter aircraft. I debugged this card. I touched it, hooked it up to test equipment, had test wires soldered to it, and had an intimate understanding of how it functioned.

Fast forward to when the cards are debugged, so I help deliver this stuff to the customer (big airplane company in Seattle). The technicians were all unionized, which is fine. However, as a part of the union contract, the engineers were not even allowed to TOUCH the equipment. So, I handled this stuff extensively back in Florida, but suddenly I am not allowed to even plug in a cable in Washington. This means that working extra hours to get the job done was NOT an option, since the tech was not approved for overtime.

Sorry, but that SUCKED! Tech deserve to be paid fairly, and they are cheaper than engineers, so it makes sense to use them when they can do the job. But, to say that engineers cannot even touch the equipment that they design is completely asinine, and it means that even if the test setup only needs to be changed every hour or two, the company still needed to pay a technician to be there (extra money), or you have to wait for one to show up (slowing down testing). That is the kind of crap that leaves a bad taste in my mouth when it comes to unions. Fair pay and benefits are one thing. Aggressively protecting your job function to the detriment of the company is another.

Should I even mention the union rules that I have broken by moving my own computer and changing the height of my own cube tables? I am sure that I am going to hell for that one.

Comment: Unions. (Score 5, Insightful) 308

by harrkev (#47298383) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Lawrence Lessig About His Mayday PAC

I was just wondering if you were also concerned about money from unions? To me, a millionaire donating is own money is somehow less problematic than unions taking money from their members to donate. Keep in mind that in many states, union membership is required in order to get the job. Therefore, many union members may find their money being used to support candidates that they do not support.

Comment: Re:This will hugely backfire... (Score 2) 422

by harrkev (#47232053) Attached to: GOP Voters To Be Targeted By Data Scientists

I agree with this completely. I am a rather moderate conservative. And I am against illegal immigration.

Hypothetical question. You are the ruler of a country and you want to have more citizens. Who do you choose to offer citizenship to:

1) Person who goes to an embassy, fills out the required paperwork, and tried to do things the right way.

2) Person who decides that they want in, and ignores the law and smuggles themselves in, making their first act in the country breaking the law.

To me, it seem that #1 has already proven that they can obey the law, while #2 has already proven that they do not mind breaking it.

I must admit that I do have a lot of sympathy for youths who were brought over here with their parents. They did not have much choice in the matter. If there is anyone deserving of amnesty, it is this class. However, the parents should return to where they came from, and fill out the proper paperwork to return here.

Comment: Re:It's not really a myth anymore (Score 4, Interesting) 222

by harrkev (#47182369) Attached to: The Sci-Fi Myth of Killer Machines

The problem is not who controls the strings, it is what happens when the strings are no longer needed.

A.I. will present little danger (except A.I. the movie, which is so bad it ought to be banned as a WMD) as long as a human can pull the plug. Two decades ago, the Internet was a novelty. Now, the economic consequences would be catastrophic if the Internet suddenly went dark. Similarly if/when A.I. actually arrives, it will be useful and helpful. It will become more and more critical such that a decade or two after it arrives, the act of unplugging it would have catastrophic consequences. So, if Skynet goes bad, then bad things will happen whether you unplug it or not.

To me, what it all comes down to is will. Can an artificial personality actually have a will? Can it become afraid of its own demise? Even if it is theoretically possible, can our researchers and programmers achieve it? Will it be able to reach outside its own programming and decide to eliminate humans? Maybe, maybe not.

On the other hand, once A.I. becomes common, can a rogue state task the A.I. with eliminating all humans on a certain continent? Almost certainly. What happens then is simply a battle of A.I. agents. Who can outsmart the other?

Just my opinion, and worth every penny that you paid for it.

Comment: Re:A boon for CAD, hopefully (Score 2) 207

by harrkev (#47129283) Attached to: 4K Displays Ready For Prime Time

I often work on fancy PCB designs and can always use more resolution and a bigger screen, within limits. There's no point in having a screen so wide that my head is always moving like at a tennis match.

But more resolution makes editing quicker and easier.

Bah. You PC board wusses. Try doing physical design on a custom ASIC (note my sig).

More pixels definitely helps. I have been using a 30" 2560x1600 (Dell for about $1200), but more pixels for half the money seems like a great deal! The down side is less glass itself, so the pixels are smaller. My old eyes would probably have a hard time staring at text at that resolution. Yes, I know that I can change fonts, but I am a strong believer in more monitors in general. You can have the layout on the big glass, and terminal and/or EMACS windows on the side monitors. Now THAT is a productivity boost. The problem is that with your side monitors having a significantly different pixel density from the main monitor make having an ideal font size impossible. Either too big on the side monitors or too small on the big, central monitor.

Comment: Re:What! (Score 2) 566

by harrkev (#47113759) Attached to: TrueCrypt Website Says To Switch To BitLocker

So, assuming that this IS real, any suggestions on FOSS encryption for those without access to BitLocker?

On a side-note, how could TrueCrypt be actually broken? Even if the encryption is broken, that can be fixed in a later release. There is a LOT of stuff in TC (boot manager, GUI, etc.), and you cannot tell me that ALL of it is bad.

Comment: Re:What the f*$# is wrong with us? (Score 3, Insightful) 1198

by harrkev (#47112247) Attached to: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

The best trolls are indistinguishable from serious comments.

No, not trolling. Sorry, but there IS a grain of truth in geek misogyny. This toon is a humorous example:

Also, when was the last time that you saw a woman depicted in a video game that was less than a "C" cup? Sorry, but if you were to go back a few centuries and give a woman a sword and armor, I am pretty sure that the armor would cover more than about six square inches of her body. Sorry, but in video games, women are sex objects (Metroid is the one notable exception that I can think of). Even as protagonists, they will dress scantily, while standing next to a male character that is so covered in so much armor that you can only see his eyes.

Perhaps part of it is that women are, in general, under-represented in geek culture. Guys are attracted to girls, but there are damn few of them floating around in geek circles. So, they go from being "people" to becoming something closer to a "trophy."

Comment: Re:Killowatts are power, not energy (Score 0) 262

by harrkev (#47058967) Attached to: The Brakes That Stop a 1,000 MPH Bloodhound SSC

At hundreds of miles per hour, the car aerodynamics would probably be closer to an aircraft. Why not use some sort of air brake -- little flaps that stick out causing wind resistance? Once you get down to, say, 300 MPH, there are certainly commercial car brakes that can handle that -- NASCAR does it every day.

Comment: Re:No 3D printing? (Score 1) 138

by harrkev (#46969283) Attached to: A 32-bit Development System For $2

FYI: Atmel does have ARM processors too, along with all the usual goodies (ADC, DAC, timers, UARTs, etc.). Prices for their ARM stuff starts below $2.00 also.

However, the one thing that Atmel does *NOT* have is a DIP package, which, IMHO, is kind of a big deal. A dip package is probably one of the best things that you can do to be hobbyist-friendly. The other things that hobbyists like are a free tool chain and a low-cost programmer. Atmel does those OK.

Disclaimer: I work for Atmel.

If this is timesharing, give me my share right now.