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Comment: Re:Performance (Score 1) 183

Want to kill off the desktops? Find something with better display and user input.

How about the same display and user input. Have you not heard of USB and HDMI? A laptop can be easily connected to an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor. I do this all the time! Since even a relatively low-end computer is more than good enough for most tasks, there is really little down-side to this approach. The extra expense is justified because you can carry it with you.

Comment: Re:Not a barrier (Score 4, Insightful) 183

Hmmm.. I remember the Atari 1020ST was sold as the first computer ever to be under $1 per Kilobyte. It is true that $0.50 / gigabyte is nothing magical from a tech standpoint, but this is not about tech, it is about psychology. Human beings are not entirely logical, and emotions play a large part in decisions.

Comment: Re:Performance (Score 3, Insightful) 183

Bingo. Laptop users. Laptops are on the way up, desktops are dying. And since the higher-end laptops (ultrabooks) are even ditching optical drives to save size and weight, what do you think are the odds that they will make space for a 2nd drive. In fact, I would not be surprised of the 2.5" drive bays went away entirely in the next three years, to be replaced by slots (probably PCIe or something similar). Unless you are going for a larger device -- gaming or workstation laptop, you are not going to have the luxury of two drive bays.

Medicine

WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak An International Emergency 183

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we're-all-gonna-die dept.
mdsolar (1045926) writes with news that, with the Ebola outbreak growing out of control, the WHO has declared an international health emergency. From the article: With cases rapidly mounting in four West African countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) today declared the Ebola outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), a designation that allows the agency to issue recommendations for travel restrictions but also sends a strong message that more resources need to be mobilized to bring the viral disease under control. ... This is only the third time the health agency has issued a PHEIC declaration since the new International Health Regulations (IHR), a global agreement on the control of diseases, were adopted in 2005. The previous two instances were in 2009, for the H1N1 influenza pandemic, and in May for the resurgence of polio.

Comment: Re:while nice... (Score 2) 136

by harrkev (#47626717) Attached to: Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

Well, I can see a use for this. If you HAVE an existing FPGA, you could throw a processor on there for free. Some FPGAs have a CPU built-in (such as an ARM), but those parts cost more. With this, if you need some processor, this is not a bad choice. You could go for something like an 8051, but more options are nice to have. This also apparently has a nice software chain (compilers, interpreters, etc.).

If you really need a well-supported embedded soft processor, your choices are OpenRISC, 8051, Z80, 6502, or this (off of the top of my head, let me know if I missed something). Xilinx makes a MicroBlaze, but they charge money to unlock it.

Comment: Re:Open FPGA? (Score 1) 136

by harrkev (#47626645) Attached to: Parallax Completes Open Hardware Vision With Open Source CPU

A few years ago we finally started to use VHDL '93 at the moment we expecting to be able to use VHDL2008 in 2028 and this is not a joke, that date is realistic based on historic glacial movement of the hardware industry.

Seriously? You have my condolences for using VHDL. You have my deepest sympathy. Second, why the glacial pace? SystemVerilog is supported by all major sim makers (at least to the extent needed to support UVM). Even synthesis tools are starting to support the SystemVerilog constructs that make sense in hardware (structs, unions, etc.).

Really, unless you are stuck using some specific tools that you can't upgrade or update, there is no reason that you can't switch to SystemVerilog today! Although, I admit that SV does not bring nearly as much to synthesis as it does to Simulation.

BTW: I come from the custom silicon world. I don't really use FPGAs much, so SystemVerilog may be beyond the capabilities of the free tools.

Comment: Re:Tek smeck (Score 3, Insightful) 273

by harrkev (#47615417) Attached to: Hack an Oscilloscope, Get a DMCA Take-Down Notice From Tektronix

You could say that offering all options at a discount costs them nothing. You could also argue that it does deprive them of revenues. There are arguments both ways.

It is sort of like Windows 7 home vs Windows 7 pro vs. WIndows Server. They all pretty much share the same code base (maybe less so for the Server version). The only difference is a switch or two.

If you argue that turning on the FFT and serial protocols costs them nothing, you are right! Once the scope is in your hands, it costs Agilent and Tek next to nothing to enable that feature. For Agilent, it is an unlock code. For Tek, it is a module that costs them only a buck or two to make.

On the other hand, it actually DID cost something to include those features. A lot of serial decode stuff is done hardware and software. The software costs a lot of money to develop and test. The hardware part adds some cost to every single unit sold, plus the cost to develop that test that. So, imagine that all of these extra features (FFT, serial decode, etc.) were included standard with every scope. This means that the price would have to be raised to cover all of the NRE costs. So, the price of the scope rises for everybody. For those that need the extra features, they are getting a great bargain. For everybody else, they are paying more for something that they don't need.

So, by locking features that need to be unlocked, you piss off the people who feel like the features are already there, and they are being artificially prevented from doing something that they ought to be able to do. If you unlock everything, you raise the price for the very budget-conscious customers. There is no perfect answer.

Comment: Re:Tek smeck (Score 5, Informative) 273

by harrkev (#47613755) Attached to: Hack an Oscilloscope, Get a DMCA Take-Down Notice From Tektronix

In all fairness (and as a former Agilent employee), you would not believe the amount of work that goes into those things that you don't get with cheap PC-based scopes and low-end stand-along scopes. They do a LOT of work making sure that the front end (analog stuff between BNC and A/D converters) is correct. Also, lots of DSP-ish type stuff right after the A/D too. I am a digital designer, and I worked on some of the oscilloscope chips, and I don't even understand a lot of that of that stuff.

For a hobbyist working with bandwidth-limited signals, and everything is 5V or less, the cheaper brands are probably fine. However, how do you tell if your scope is lying to you? Do you know aliasing when you see it? I have seen some PC-based scopes do the voltage offset (where you twist the little knob to move the waveform up and down) all in software, and seen the clipping in the A/D -- nasty stuff. You really need do to that in the analog front end You also have how many waveforms per second that you can display. If you have a glitch that happens only rarely, if you are capturing only 30 or 100 waveforms per seconds, you might not see the glitch. On the other hand, if your scope is capturing 50,000 waveform/second, you stand a MUCH greater chance of seeing it.

I do admit that scopes are a pricey purchase, and part of that is due to the low volumes involved and the high amount of R&D. But, if you need something that you can trust (you make your living off design work and are not just a hobbyist), you really need to get something professional from a reputable company.

Government

CIA Director Brennan Admits He Was Lying: CIA Really Did Spy On Congress 266

Posted by timothy
from the note-the-passive-voice-and-weasel-words dept.
Bruce66423 (1678196) writes with this story from the Guardian: The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, issued an extraordinary apology to leaders of the US Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, conceding that the agency employees spied on committee staff and reversing months of furious and public denials. Brennan acknowledged that an internal investigation had found agency security personnel transgressed a firewall set up on a CIA network, called RDINet, which allowed Senate committee investigators to review agency documents for their landmark inquiry into CIA torture." (Sen. Diane Feinstein was one of those vocally accusing the CIA of spying on Congress; Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised a similar question about the NSA.)
United States

Obama Administration Says the World's Servers Are Ours 749

Posted by samzenpus
from the all-your-data-are-belong-to-us dept.
An anonymous reader points out this story about the U.S. Justice Department's claim that companies served with valid warrants for data must produce that data even if the data is not stored in the U.S. Global governments, the tech sector, and scholars are closely following a legal flap in which the US Justice Department claims that Microsoft must hand over e-mail stored in Dublin, Ireland. In essence, President Barack Obama's administration claims that any company with operations in the United States must comply with valid warrants for data, even if the content is stored overseas. It's a position Microsoft and companies like Apple say is wrong, arguing that the enforcement of US law stops at the border. A magistrate judge has already sided with the government's position, ruling in April that "the basic principle that an entity lawfully obligated to produce information must do so regardless of the location of that information." Microsoft appealed to a federal judge, and the case is set to be heard on July 31.
United States

NSA Says Snowden Emails Exempt From Public Disclosure 231

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-our-eyes-only dept.
AHuxley (892839) writes "The Desk reports on a FOIA request covering "... all e-mails sent by Edward Snowden" and the NSA's refusal to release all documents. "The National Security Agency has acknowledged it retains a record of e-mail communications from former contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden, but says those records are exempt from public disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act. In a letter responding to a June 27 FOIA request from The Desk, the NSA’s chief FOIA officer Pamela Phillips wrote that while the agency has retained records related to Snowden’s employment as a contractor, they are being withheld from public examination because, among other things, releasing the records 'could interfere with law enforcement proceedings, could cause an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, could reveal the identities of confidential sources or would reveal law enforcement techniques and procedures.' Other records are being withheld because those documents were 'also found to be currently and properly classifiedand remains classified TOP SECRET, SECRET and CONFIDENTIAL.' The letter marks the first time the NSA has publicly acknowledged retaining communication and employment records related to Snowden’s time as a contractor."

Comment: Re:USB DACs (Score 1) 502

Personally, I use built-in audio. It really IS good enough for most purposes - I have never been dissatisfied with the quality of my laptop DAC.

My original point was that cheap USB audio (those under $10) are crap, and most people who just want to improve the sound, and CAN tell the difference, don't need the fancy DSP stuff.

I want to Sweetwater's web site. They have a bunch of brands of USB audio interfaces in the $100 range from such brands as Alesis, PreSonus, Yamaha, and M-Audio. Behringer even makes $30 ones, but reviews are mixed. Still, if you need line-in on a laptop, that is the cheapest way. If you ARE into sound and music, you can get even mixers with audio interfaces built-in. Alesis even makes some rather nice studio monitors (speakers) with a USB interface.

Comment: Re:Creepy (Score 1) 188

by harrkev (#47436269) Attached to: DARPA Successfully Demonstrates Self-Guiding Bullets

I don't think the materials science is there to deal with forming/deforming a projectile on the order of 300,000 rpm (presuming a 1:7 twist & 3,000 fps).

Piezo actuators should have no problems working at up high tens of KHz, and even up in the hundreds. Peizo elements are used in tweeters, where they have to react up to at least 20 KHz, in the right range for this project. Piezos do not have much distance that they can travel, but at that speed, you might not need much distance. All you really need is a little paddle that can stick out an slow the bullet down on one side.

Comment: Re:Alternate use for this technology (Score 1) 188

by harrkev (#47436233) Attached to: DARPA Successfully Demonstrates Self-Guiding Bullets

And here's a clue for you. NO one over there wants peace at all, ever.

Sorry, but many Muslims are taught to hate Jews from a very young age:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

There are other examples, but this is the most famous one that I could think of.

From what I understand (and I know many American Jews who have visited Israel), the Jews pretty much just want to be left alone.

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