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Comment: Re:to apple fan boys (Score 1) 437

by Dixie_Flatline (#48927921) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Yeah, the specs don't really tell the whole story. When you go through the benchmarks, the A7/A8 chips really clean the floor with the Snapdragons, and they do it at a lower clock (and a lower voltage; performance per watt on the A7/A8 is much better). The cameras on the iPhone is of a comparable or higher quality in all those cases (keeping in mind that megapixels is perhaps the worst way to rate a digital camera; my 12.1MP Nikon D3s will crush any phone camera without any effort).

My screen isn't as high DPI, but I'd be hard pressed to tell any difference without a microscope. Numbers being bigger for the sake of being bigger doesn't impress me. Also, it chews up a lot more battery.

I get TouchID, an implementation of biometric access that currently isn't well matched on the Android side. (I've heard Huawei has a good implementation? They're not a very prolific brand in NA, so I haven't read anything except occasional offhand remarks.)

The only thing that the Android phones tend to have is more RAM, but by virtue of a completely different multitasking model and garbage collection scheme, additional RAM is less relevant to iOS. (The lone exception being webpage reloading, which I'll cop to as being an annoyance.)

So yeah, my iPhone 6 runs faster than basically anything else on the market (http://www.anandtech.com/show/8554/the-iphone-6-review/5) and will have the legs to take me to 4 years, even if it'll feel pretty dated by then. I don't really think you can legitimately claim that just because the specs of a few phones were *higher* that they were meaningfully *better*.

Oh, and I don't have to talk to my carrier about my phone, like, ever. That alone is a virtue that's hard to pass up because fuck those guys. :)

Comment: Re:to apple fan boys (Score 1) 437

by Dixie_Flatline (#48925807) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

To a certain extent, I DO like these announcements merely because they really tweak the noses of the people that have been beating the 'Apple is Doomed' drum for a while. So yeah, there's a small bit of enjoyment that I get that Apple's numbers are so astronomical--I'll cop to that. That's the same thing that's happening with Daring Fireball. Gruber is obviously an Apple partisan, but he complains about as much as anyone I've heard about quality and direction.

But Apple has a good brand and it's drawn customers in. It's what every company hopes to do, really.

But there are lots of other examples of this. Ford vs. Chevy (or Ford vs. Holden, if you're in Oz) is a good one. People become partisan over all sorts of things.

Comment: Re:to apple fan boys (Score 1) 437

by Dixie_Flatline (#48923947) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

I don't know why you think I'm getting ripped off. I paid $600 for a phone that will get software updates for four years. The hardware will last for four years. My last iPhone did.

The reason why those profit margins are a good thing are because it means Apple isn't concerned with me buying a new phone from them every 18 months to stay afloat. They don't have to track my personal data or advertise to me to make money. Apple making money means that I can be sure that when I want to buy another phone in 4 years, they'll have something good for me to buy and they'll still be around for me to buy it from.

Contrast that with Android phones. They only promise support for 18 months, even on Nexus devices (though they MAY support them longer than that). There are dozens of phones that have fallen by the wayside. Sure, I can buy a new $150 Motorola every year or two, and it would be a good phone, but I could also just buy my top-of-the-line iPhone and keep it a little longer, and it means that I get a really exemplary phone every once in a while.

I understand the decisions that lead you to chose Android devices, but it's not wrong to chose Apple even BECAUSE they're making money. It's a short term pain that has (for me) been a long-term win.

Comment: Re:18B on 75B (Score 1) 437

by Dixie_Flatline (#48923897) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Well, clearly it's what the market will bear. By definition, it's not overpriced. Overpriced items don't sell.

That is, 75 million phone buyers have decided that the phone price aligns with its value in their hands, whatever that value entails.

In my case, I buy phones to last for four years. That's what I did with my iPhone 4, and that's what I'm planning with my iPhone 6. The $600 I paid is a mere $150 when amortised over that time. And I can rely on there being 4 years of software updates and support from Apple. I can count on the hardware lasting that long, because it's really solid hardware. In what universe is that not good value for money?

My $600 pocket computer is only overpriced if you consider it far more disposable than it actually is.

Comment: Re:18B on 75B (Score 1) 437

by Dixie_Flatline (#48923869) Attached to: Apple Posts $18B Quarterly Profit, the Highest By Any Company, Ever

Given that Apple's OSes are free, I don't know that you can claim that. They basically have a 0% margin on most of their software. They underwrite their software development with hardware sales. Basically, when you buy an Apple product, they're selling you both at the same time. I'm sure if you work in the R&D and the software costs, the margins come down.

Comment: Huh? (Score 1) 211

by Black Parrot (#48920405) Attached to: Gamma-ray Bursts May Explain Fermi's Paradox

GRBs clearly haven't prevented life in *our* galaxy, so the Fermi Paradox still stands.

The caluculations probably rule out life in the core of our galaxy, but systems further out would be exposed even less often than ours is. And even though GRBs can periodically sterilize a planet, their directionality means that one burst would not likely sterilize all the planets in an intercellar civilization simultaneously.

So, to modify what someone said above, we can add another term to the Drake equation, but this doesn't do much to answer Fermi.

Comment: Re:Hear Hear! (Score 2) 378

by Rei (#48917379) Attached to: "Mammoth Snow Storm" Underwhelms

Ah, Americans and their "mammoth snowstorms" - try living on a rock in the middle of the North Atlantic. You know what we call a snowstorm with gale-force winds and copious precipitation? Tuesday ;) Our last one was... let's see, all weekend. The northwest gets hit by another gale-force storm tomorrow. The southeast is predicted to get hurricane-force winds on Thursday morning.

Here's what the job of someone dispatched to maintain antennae for air traffic control services has to deal with here. ;) (those are guy wires)

Comment: Re:Visible from Earth? (Score 1) 122

by Rei (#48915031) Attached to: Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

A sun-like star is about 1 1/2 million kilometers in diameter. To blot out all light from such a star that's 10 light years away, a 0,75 kilometer diameter disc could be no more than 1/200.000th of a light year, or around 50 million kilometers (1/3rd the distance between the earth and the sun).

The brightest star in the sky is Sirius A. It has a diameter of 2,4 million km and a distance of 8.6 light years. This means your shade could be no more than 25 million kilometers away.

The sun and the moon both take up about the same amount of arc in the night sky so would be about equally difficult to block; let's go with the sun for a nice supervillian-ish approach. 1,4m km diameter, 150m km distance means it'd be able to block the sun at 800km away. Such an object could probably be kept in a stable orbit at half that altitude, so yeah, you could most definitely block out stars with the thing - including our sun!

Comment: Re:keeping station behind it? (Score 1) 122

by Rei (#48914773) Attached to: Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

It makes sense. We can radiate individual photons for thrust if so desired. We can move individual electrons from one position in a spacecraft to another for tiny adjustments of angle and position if so desired. It seems you're going to be much more limited by your ability to precisely track your target than by your ability to make fine adjustments.

I think a much bigger problem is going to be isolating standing waves from within the shielding material from distorting its perfect rim (with a shield that big and thin, there *will* be oscillations from even the slightest thrust inputs). You need to isolate the rim from the shielding. And you also need to make sure that you can have a rim that can be coiled up for launch but uncoil to such perfection in space.

Tough task... but technically, it should be possible.

Comment: Re:No (Score 3, Insightful) 122

by Rei (#48914527) Attached to: Proposed Space Telescope Uses Huge Opaque Disk To Surpass Hubble

I would presume that the bulk material in the inside has no need for accuracy, only the very rim. The question is more of whether you can have a coiled material that when uncoiled (deployment) can return to a shape with that level of accuracy. I would think it possible, but I really don't know.

I would forsee a super-precise rim with just a small bit of light shielding on its inside, deployed via uncoiling, and then attached to a much stronger, less precise uncoiled ring to which the bulk shielding material (and stationkeeping ion thrusters) are attached. The attachment between the two would need to provide for vibration and tension isolation (even the slowest adjustments in angle of such a huge, thin shield are going to set in motion relevant vibrations, you've got almost no damping - you want the structural ring to deal with those and not transfer them through to the precision ring). Not to mention that your shield will be acting as a solar sail whether you like it or not (unless you're at L2... but then your craft better be nuclear powered).

Your telescope behind it is going to need to do some real precision stationkeeping (either extreme precision on the whole spacecraft positioning, or merely "good" positioning of the whole spacecraft plus extreme precision adjustment of the optics within) . This means long development times and costs to demonstrate that you can pull it off before you actually build the shield. But I would think that also possible - just very difficult. If they take the latter route they could probably demonstrate that here on Earth, which would be a big cost-saver.

Comment: Re:We Really Don't (Score 1) 152

by Black Parrot (#48910827) Attached to: How Do We Know the Timeline of the Universe?

Sorry... I was going for the joke and didn't pitch it very well. My actual views are more like yours.

As for the reality of the subject matter, I would borrow the concept of "probably approximately correct" from machine learning, and give it a 90-95% chance of being ~80% correct. (The 80% is lower to allow room for some more big discoveries like inflation.)

Unfortunately, people will be (hopefully) studying this for thousands of years on top of the <100 we have so far, and none of us will live to see how it turns out in the long term.

Gravity is a myth, the Earth sucks.

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