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Comment Tinfoil hat, blah blah... (Score 1) 164

Surely I'm not the only one who looks at the supercomputer in her pocket which is capable of speaker independent voice recognition, and often wonders whether encrypted text versions of *all* the conversations she's been having in its proximity are getting squirted off somewhere s33kr1t in the middle of the night, when no-one would notice a stray packet or two...

Comment Re:For Reference... (Score 1) 120

I call bullshit.

I've been recently been wiring my drumkit for recording and have been finding that actions that I consciously perform -- flams in particular -- are timed in the 2-10ms range. Hell, 150ms is rolling through four fingers on a surface less than twice a second. Pretty much everyone can do better than that.

Sure, the OP's figures above might apply to single-shot actions, as opposed to repeated or sequential actions, but 150ms is still a damn long time.

Comment Re:Brilliant! (Score 4, Informative) 275

what's the point of giving uber-hard math, where kids just drop off and don't give a shit anymore, and doesn't stop them from getting their diploma in the end anyway? I went to maybe 3 math classes in my last year, and still got my diploma with flying colours. It's not about making it easier, it's about making it useful.

Perhaps some of the point is, for once in the cess-pool that is the modern, utility and mediocrity obsessed tertiary education system, to attempt to provide broad-ranging bases of abstract knowledge to the students who actually want to learn, and are capable of doing so. That way we'll at least get some people who can work at the coal face of knowledge creation as opposed to just another batch of clueless, money-grabbing code monkeys?

The sort of useful you're talking about is concerned with places where all the interesting, hard problems have already been solved. Sounds dull as dishwater if you've got a brain in your head.

Comment Strangely, I'm finding Writer to be just fine. (Score 1) 467

I wrote a novel during Nanowrimo this year, and I've been using OpenOffice Writer to format the text into a nice looking book layout. I've previously been a Word 2003 user for about five years, and I have to say that I really don't find anything problematic with the transition.

I've got Writer on an Eee 1005HA-V with 2GB of RAM and it seems to load acceptibly quickly, and whilst the interface is a little different to Word 2003, there's nothing particularly missing or broken that I've encountered as yet: some features are actually better (multipage zoom out, for instance). Doing nice looking book layout is about the same level of hassle that it is in Word, and it seems to perform around about as fast for the task. When I run Writer on my quad-core desktop it screams along doubleplusfine.

On the basis of my experience, I'm really left kinda skeptical at the level of bad experience other people report with Writer. I previously tried OO version 2.x and discovered it sucked rather radically, but version 3+ seems a perfectly useable tool. Perhaps when I get to writing a technical document or textbook in Writer, I'll bump into problems, but I just don't see it for now.

I messed around with versions of Word past 2003 a few times in various workplaces, but none of them ever provided any functionality I really needed, and just shuffled the other stuff around in the interface to irritating effect.

Given these thoughts, I think Microsoft should certainly be worried: I'll probably never install Word again.


Sensor To Monitor TV Watchers Demoed At Cable Labs 302

An anonymous reader writes "Cable operators at the semi-annual CableLab's Innovation Showcase have informally voted as best new product a gizmo that can determine how many people are watching a TV. Developed by Israeli company PrimeSense, the product lets digital devices see a 3-D view of the world (the images look like something from thermal imaging). In other words, that cable set-top box will know whether three people are sitting on the sofa watching TV and how many are adults vs. children. Do we really need cable and/or video service operators knowing this? It all happens via a chip that resides in a camera that plugs into the set-top box."

How They Built the Software of Apollo 11 220

LinuxScribe tips a piece up at Linux.com with inside details on the design and construction of the Apollo 11 code. There are some analogies to open source development but they are slim. MIT drafted the code — to run on the Apollo Guidance Computer, a device with less grunt than an IBM XT — it had 2K of memory and a 1-MHz clock speed. It was an amazing machine for its time. NASA engineers tested, polished, simulated, and refined the code. "The software was programmed on IBM punch cards. They had 80-columns and were 'assembled' to instruction binary on mainframes... and it took hours. ... During the mission, most of the software code couldn't be changed because it was hard-coded into the hardware, like ROM today... But during pre-launch design simulations, problems that came up in the code could sometimes be finessed by... computer engineers using a small amount of erasable memory that was available for the programs. The software used a low-level assembly language and was controlled using pairs or segments of numbers entered into a square-shaped, numeric-only keyboard called a Display and Keyboard Unit... The two-digit codes stood for 'nouns' or 'verbs,' and were used to enter commands or data, such as spacecraft docking angles or time spans for operations." Reader Smark adds, "The Google Code Blog announced today that the Virtual AGC and AGS project has transcribed the Command Module and Lunar Excursion Module code used during the Apollo 11 moon landing. The code is viewable at the VirtualAGC Google Code Page."

Comment Custom firmware project? (Score 1) 263

In a lot of the above comments, the primary source of dissatisfaction seems to be the firmware. Given that Amazon is doing firmware updates over the air, writing custom firmware should be possible without even having to crack the device. Anyone have any data in this regard? What does the Amazon EULA have to say?

I'm always looking for a new idea that will be more productive than its cost. -- David Rockefeller