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Comment Features are Becoming More Abstract (Score 3, Insightful) 453

I think that your comment illustrates a large part of the problem. Non technical people cannot imagine what features a program could have, since the features are becoming more and more abstracted from real-life metaphors.

With older alarms, there were either 1 or a fixed number of alarms. You could see them and interact with them. With the newer alarm app, you can have an infinite number of alarms, and they don't exist until you tell the program to create them.

You aren't "setting the alarm", you are creating an instruction for the program to behave like an alarm. This is a concept that is very foreign to someone used to being able to relate to computer concepts to physical objects.

Submission + - Lasers to replace sparkplugs in engines? ( 2

An anonymous reader writes: For more than 150 years, spark plugs have powered internal combustion engines. Automakers are now getting close to being able to replace this long-standing technology with laser igniters, which should enable cleaner, more efficient, and more economical vehicles. Price and size have been issues holding up such an advance, but a Japanese team is set to announce they've overcome those hurdles.

Submission + - Robot Throws First Pitch At Phillies Game (

RedEaredSlider writes: The first ball at the Phillies-Brewers game will get thrown by a robot — but Roy Halladay's job is still safe.

As part of an outreach program and the Phillies' "Science Day At The Ballpark," the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science is showcasing a robot made from a Segway and featuring an arm that acts more like a human throwing than an ordinary pitching machine.

A pitching machine functions more like a gun, firing a baseball in what amounts to a straight line. But the robot has an armature connected to a hand that was specifically designed for throwing. Another thing the robot can do is identify the strike zone.

Comment Re:This explains the political process (Score 1) 824

Do you want to pay ten times as much for a routine medical procedure as someone that has insurance?

Whenever I an invoice from a medical provider, they list the normal price and the insurance-negotiated price. It is usually about 10x more if you don't have insurance.

The system is broken. People cannot shop around for medical care like they do with other goods and services, because the prices aren't known ahead of time and often the consumer doesn't have time or a state of mind to do a comparison anyway.

There needs to be some regulation to keep costs reasonable. With that in place, your desire to pay for your own expenses might work.

Comment Re:Can a nettop that can run media centre software (Score 1) 213

I also have the AspireRevo 1600.

It generally works great with XBMC, but if you are going to play a lot of 1080p content, you might be better off getting a dual-core atom. 1080p videos play fine, but there can be some stuttering if you have background processes running (like sabnzbd), or if you need to do any audio processing (like software mixing).

Since the AR1600 comes with windows XP, I first tried XBMC for Windows, but it didn't have hardware accelerated playback, even with the latest nVidia drivers. I installed an ion-optimized version of the XMBC live cd (based on Ubuntu Linux) produced by XBMCFreak.

The AR1600 also doesn't have any digital audio outputs, other than HDMI. This means that if you want surround sound and your receiver doesn't support hdmi audio, your tv needs to do digital audio pass-through.

Comment Re:Maybe try treating customers better? (Score 1) 278

The last digital album I bought on Amazon only allowed each file to be downloaded once. Even worse, I was using the Amazon music download utility. I put my laptop to sleep before it was completed and when I woke it, the download session had expired, and it would not let me finish downloading the tracks. A quick message to Amazon tech support through their website resulted in them granting me an additional download of each track in the album. It took them approximately 12 hours to respond.

The upshot is that the way Amazon handles digital downloads is not perfect.

Artificial intelligence has the same relation to intelligence as artificial flowers have to flowers. -- David Parnas