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Comment: Smallest boards (Score 1) 176

by jkonrath (#47327233) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is It Feasible To Revive an Old Linux PC Setup?

You won't be able to get away with an ARM system like RasPi as others have mentioned, but you might find a few semi-small x86 options.

Minnowboard has a 4.2" square board based on the Atom 640, but no IDE, and it's maybe $200. (http://www.minnowboard.org/technical-features/)

The best combination of cheap/small is probably Mini-ITX, at 6.7" square. An average mboard is maybe $50, plus a processor, RAM, power, and everything else. But you also won't have IDE, and you'll run into all of the usual driver support issues.

There are Nano, Pico, and Mobile-ITX, but you're going to raise the price almost exponentially with each jump down. Pico-ITX boards are at least $200-300.

Comment: Re:Kinesis Advantage Keyboard (Score 1) 702

by jkonrath (#46791231) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Tech Products Were Built To Last?

It's a Toyota/BMW comparison. The Advantage is a mechanical keyboard, with Cherry Brown switches, while the Microsoft is membrane switches. There's a lot more tactile feel to the switches, and they keys themselves don't wear and fade like the MS one. It's slightly louder, but it's also not as mushy. It's fairly easy to take apart and clean, too.

The one big thing about the Advantage is that aside from the two key banks being completely split from each other, they are in "wells" that curve inward, and some of the most-used non-alpha keys (space, modifiers, enter, backspace) are on banks under your thumbs. It's a learning curve, and if you don't touch-type, it's a steep one. But it's a huge comfort difference.

I used to swear by the MS Naturals, and would burn through one a year. I switched to the Kinesis four years ago, and it still looks and feels almost brand new.

Comment: Worth noting (Score 5, Interesting) 93

by jkonrath (#46789075) Attached to: Samsung's Position On Tizen May Hurt Developer Recruitment

It's most likely that the three different platforms mentioned were developed and evangelized by three different teams at Samsung that never talked to each other. Each team probably thinks their solution is *the* solution.

When I worked at Samsung, divisions were heavily siloed, and often the first time you heard about what they were doing was when you saw it on a news site. Even within the same platform, teams were heavily divided. Our software dev outreach teams didn't even have a way to talk to the hardware design teams.

Comment: Remember the 486SX? (Score 1) 70

by jkonrath (#46357811) Attached to: Project Ara: Inside Google's Modular Smartphones

Does anyone remember when 486SX computers came and it was a big deal that you could later upgrade the processor to a 486DX computer, making them totally modular and cool, and then like ten seconds later, Intel came out with the Pentium with a completely different bus and the entire system was obsolete? That's about what this sounds like. The second you get in your hands the all-updatable 64-bit system, every phone moves to 128-bit chips and you're stuck with half as many pins on your plugs just to get your phone up to current technology.

Comment: Re:The New New York is Screw York (Score 2) 237

by jkonrath (#45188155) Attached to: New York City Considers Articulated Subway Cars

They have conductors so people won't get stuck in the doors and dragged to their deaths.

They could make the doors automatic, and re-open when someone or one of their body parts is in the way of a door closing, which they do now, but without the conductor there to yell at people to get the hell in or out of the car, the trains would never, ever leave the station. There will always be that one last person trying to get in.

Comment: Re:$20B the value of Steve Ballmer leaving (Score 1) 357

by jkonrath (#44700143) Attached to: Steve Ballmer's Big-Time Error: Not Resigning Years Ago

MSFT stock went from 56.125 on 1/14/00 (the day Ballmer took charge) to 49.125 on 1/28/00, and has not broken the 40s since then.

AAPL was at 381.82 the week (9/30/11) before Jobs' death ( on 10/5/11) and went as low as 369.80 two days after his death, before jumping back up to 422.00 by 10/14/11. Aside from the 11/25/11 363.57 price, it has remained above the price it was at his death since then.

Comment: Re:More buck for the bang? (Score 5, Informative) 323

by jkonrath (#44525563) Attached to: Have eBooks Peaked?

From http://journal.bookfinder.com/2009/03/breakdown-of-book-costs.html (Slightly old)...
Based on a list price of $27.95
- $3.55 - Pre-preduction - This amount covers editors, graphic designers, and the like
- $2.83 - Printing - Ink, glue, paper, etc
- $2.00 - Marketing - Book tour, NYT Book Review ad, printing and shipping galleys to journalists
- $2.80 - Wholesaler - The take of the middlemen who handle distribution for publishers
- $4.19 - Author Royalties - A bestseller like Grisham will net about 15% in royalties, lesser known authors get less. Subtract the author's agent fees and self-employment taxes from that, too.
- $12.58 - profit for the retailer.

In the case of an ebook, you're removing the $2.83 in printing.

You might be removing some of the wholesaling cost, but you might be using Ingram to do your wholesaling if you're a big company. If you're self-publishing, you might be using something like BookBaby or Smashwords. Yes, you can go to KDP and register your own book yourself, but if you're selling in multiple places or selling multiple books, you're going to use a middle-man to handle cataloging, recordkeeping, and listing things in multiple places. If it's more than $2.80 in headaches, you use a distributor.

Marketing, pre-production, royalties all don't change. (Or they get squeezed, and you get exactly what's going on right now, which is authors complaining "they don't pay us or market us or do a good job editing us like the good old days.")

As for that $12.58 of supposed profit, here's the interesting thing - Amazon doesn't sell books at list price. John Grisham's new book, The Racketeer, is an example. List price: $28.95. Yours for only $19.81 in paper.

I'm not saying that ebook prices should be equal to the price of a printed book, but removing the printing doesn't suddenly make a book cost a dollar or even five dollars.

Comment: Why they don't fix bugs. (Score 1) 238

by jkonrath (#44458583) Attached to: How Did My Stratosphere Ever Get Shipped?

I can't see how the manufacturer is making any money off of the bugs I ran into

They make money by making new phones. Period. If you're holding the phone in your hand, the only way they can make more money from you is to get you to buy another phone.

Yes, I know there are other ways through services, selling apps, customer loyalty, blah blah blah. But the real way is to sell you another phone.

I worked at Samsung. They gave out insanely large bonuses to workers in Korea on phone teams every time a phone shipped. They did not give out bonuses when you did a carrier update. Number of phones shipped is a huge metric, and one they wanted to always raise. Selling the most phones in X region for Y period is a big deal. Fixing bugs in a phone that already shipped isn't.

To add to this problem, workers are paid overtime for hours above a given amount in Korea; they don't have the same concept as the US of a salaried worker that makes a set wage if they work banker's hours or are in startup mode. And when told they need to ship a phone in a year with a team of a hundred, they take great pride in saying they can do it in in 9 months with 50 people. But then everyone works 80 hours a week, and racks up huge amounts of overtime, plus gets that big bonus. And the extra hours and added stress are why you'll find so many bone-headed mistakes in their phones.

Games

The Murky Origins of Zork's Name 70

Posted by Soulskill
from the murky-enough-for-a-grue dept.
mjn writes "Computational media researcher Nick Montfort traces the murky origins of Zork's name. It's well known that the word was used in MIT hacker jargon around that time, but how did it get there? Candidates are the term 'zorch' from late 1950s DIY electronics slang, the use of the term as a placeholder in some early 1970s textbooks, the typo a QWERTY user would get if he typed 'work' on an AZERTY keyboard, and several uses in obscure sci-fi. No solid answers so far, though, as there are problems with many of the possible explanations that would have made MIT hackers unlikely to have run across them at the right time."

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