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Comment: Re:verizon, comcast? (Score 3) 53

I was stuck on Comcast when I upgraded from Dialup. Due to the games with non working services, I jumped ship as soon as Qwest offered DSL. Skype, VOIP via SIP, Google Voice/Talk, etc all working fine. I feel for those without the option. Comcast has been trying to win me back, but I'll take the slower DSL speed for everything working properly anyday.

Comment: Re:No. (Score 3, Interesting) 353

Many of the earlier SB cards were known for a fixed clock, regardless of what the software was set for. This limited clock rate was the issue of many complaints of those looking for full 20-20K without artifacts. Once this reputation was cast, the line was considered as consumer grade and not better. Same applied to bit depth. The driver would accept many settings beyond the 16 bit DAC. Other cards had higher clocks and bits, and testing for the card performance showed the true limits.

Link below shows some of the real testing on this card beyond just golden ears. Look at the frequency output of noise and note what is NOT reproduced. Then scroll down a look at the extended frequency response of the cards in the test. SB hit a wall way before the competition.

Comment: D/A is good enoug, but.. (Score 1) 353

Onboard D/A for WAV, MP3, Movies, etc are generally good enough if the noise level is low enough. The biggest difference is in the on board synth. Playing games uses MIDI and the sound card produces the sounds. There are 2 versions. Hardware and software.

Hardware had an on board synth. It can be as simple as an 8 bit video game or as complex as full wavetable sampled sounds. An onboard hardware synth will sound the same on Linux or Windows. If the wavetable synth is XG compatible or similar, the sound is great. If a cheap synth is used it will sound like a casio entry level keyboard or 8 bit videogame.

Some cards use soft synth's with soundfonts. These can be very good sounding with inexpensive hardware as the synth runs in the OS and just sends the bitstream to the card for repoduction. This uses some system resources and requires installing the proper driver to include the synth and soundfont. This can mean great game sound in WIndows, but no sound or missing sound in Linux for games, unless you load a soft synth on Linux, install a soundfont, and enable it through Jack. While the combo does sound great, it is a resource drain.

Now, which is better? Mixed bag here. Some on board sound come in either variety. Same with add on boards.

Comment: Re:GPS on Mars (Score 1) 104

by JWSmythe (#47405685) Attached to: ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers

I'd love to see something like that functional. It could really change what we're doing there. quadcopter or quadcopter/fixed wing hybrids, could do really well exploring the surface of Mars. It's not like there's a rush to get anywhere. They could lay out with solar panels extended for weeks to charge, and then fly for miles. It wouldn't be practical for moving lots of equipment, but it could grab samples and bring them back to the rover/base.

They'd need to take into consideration those pesky sandstorms though. It's not a great place for an aircraft, unless they can automatically secure it. Like have a screw anchor it to the ground (like a tent screw or dog tiedown), and a cover to extend over it and secure itself. Then there's the matter of digging itself out after the storm without killing the batteries.

Comment: Re:GPS on Mars (Score 2) 104

by JWSmythe (#47405405) Attached to: ESA Shows Off Quadcopter Landing Concept For Mars Rovers

That would be a cool trick. I think it will be a long long time before we see that.

GPS, and GLONASS have 24 satellites for global coverage. Galileo has 27. Beidou has 10 right now, but has limited coverage. It will have 35 when it's fully operational.

Most (all?) require ground stations to keep them updated, so it isn't just a matter of throwing some satellites up and having GPS on another planet. As I recall, GPS satellite service will degrade to unusable somewhere between 90 to 180 days. [insert obligatory apocalypse reference]

Theoretically with GPS, you can lock with 3, but that assumes a highly clock on the receiver. Our phones and GPS receivers aren't that accurate, so we require 4 satellites.

But I believe this was dumbed down for the casual reader, so they said "GPS". Using the known location of the orbital vehicle, gravitational center of mars, magnetic poles, and stars optically with a sextant, and using inertial sensors, they could put it down on a precise target.

They might use GPS for test flights here, since we have the luxury on this rock. They aren't accounting for other things with their tests right now. Like the Mars average ground level air pressure is 0.087psi. The summit of Mount Everest is 4.89psi. The highest surface air pressure they'll get on Marswould be Hellas Planitia at 0.168psi.

They're going to need some *huge* propellers on their quadcopter. Flying on Mars is like flying at just over 100,000 feet on Earth. The record for any propeller aircraft is the Boeing Condor UAV with no payload, at 67,028 feet.

The record altitude for a helicopter in Earth's atmosphere is 40,820 feet, and it also got the record for the longest autorotation when the helicopter stopped flying. :)

But other than navigation, and lack of atmospheric pressure, it could work fine. :)

Comment: Re: Land of the fee (Score 1) 675

by Technician (#47399815) Attached to: TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

I second that on the courts. I had to drop off a document for a child case. I stopped at the metal detector and told security I was here to drop of a document, not visit offices, so I had not emptied my pockets. Please call the office of ... to come pick up the document. They objected. I said they can scan the manilla envelope. They complied. I made it clear I had no intention of wasting time for a drop off. It would be much faster for them to step out of the office and accept the delivery.

Comment: Re:$15 LED 3 years ago, haven't bought any since (Score 1) 196

by Technician (#47372857) Attached to: The lightbulb I've most recently acquired ...

I've had mixed results with LED bulbs. They fall into 3 catagories.

1 Poor lumen maintenance.
They dim over time by a large amount. Most often seen in Christmas Lights. My daughter took a string of blue LED's and used them as a nightlight in her room. about 1/2 were totally dead in 6 months. The remainer were all over the map in brighness, but all were much dimmer compaired to a string stored for Christmas used for comparison. Failure rate of decreased brightness by 1/2 percieved brightness in 6 months is 100%. A couple of other low wattage night light bulbs in bathrooms did the same.

2 Infant Mortality
I have had an infant mortality rate on LED bulbs slightly higher than with CFL's. Both are higher failures than traditional name brand incandesceant.

3 Perform well.
Recently I have had more bulbs in this catagory from the name brands. Cheap import bulbs still suffer from the above two. To save energy where the energy cost is the highest, I have them in my Motorhome. To save bulbs where short cycling kill the other types, I have them in bathrooms and utility rooms. With some name brand bulbs, they are slowly creeping into the living areas that have lights on for long periods of time where failures were common. I always write the date installed on the bulbs I use to keep track of their life.

Comment: Re:Did you bother to read the story? (Score 1) 59

by JWSmythe (#47342639) Attached to: 2600 Distributor Withholds Money, Magazine's Future In Limbo

Unfortunately, it's a fairly standard business tactic.

Corp X has assets and debts. They sell the assets to Corp Y, which includes products, staff, equipment, etc. Corp X holds the debts. Wen they declare bankruptcy, there's no way to recover the debt, so it's gone.

Corp Y may be operating in the same office, with the same people at the same desks, doing the same jobs. The only real difference is that employee paychecks now say the new name, as does all new marketing materials and letterhead.

So what about the people owed money from Corp X? They get nothing. Or if they're lucky there's something left and they'll get pennies on the dollar.

Sometimes it's done for the right reasons, and they will work out deals with those owed. For examine (if I read the article right), 2600 is owed $100K. That may be broken up to $10K/mo over 10 months, or $1K/mo over 100 months. In the end, they get their money. Unfortunately when they already have high dollar events scheduled, it hurts.

Comment: Re:Uh, sure.. (Score 1) 358

I guess I'm weird. I use text editors.

On the server(s) or dev boxes, I use vim for anything.

When I'm on a Windows desktop, I use UltraEdit. I don't use most of the extra functionality, but the brace matching lines are nice. I could almost do just as well with notepad.

I have to pay more attention to what I'm doing, but I end up writing better code than I see churned out by a lot of people with overly helpful IDEs.

Comment: Recharging drones. (Score 1) 30

by JWSmythe (#47331275) Attached to: Automated Remote Charging for Your Flying Drones (Video)

A while back, I was thinking about how to to make an ultra-long range drone. Like something I could send off on a mission, and expect it to come back on it's own later on. One of the ideas, if it were battery powered, was to instruct it to land on or near power lines. That would have been a nightmare to figure out though.

To be stealthy, it would need to fly around 5K to 10K feet. It wouldn't be able to approach ground level, except in uninhabited areas. There's no way you'd get a map of all the high tension power lines in the world, and I don't know of any method of detecting them miles away. Well, other than Hollywood magic methods, which unfortunately don't translate well to the real world. :)

To land on power lines or on the connecting towers, it would have to hover, which is battery expensive. Automatically picking an arbitrary landing spot isn't exactly easy. Once you're parked close to the power lines (like on them, or on the towers) inductive loops could handle farming electricity without human intervention or needing to deploy charging mats.

In the end, I gave up on the idea. I don't really have a reason to make one. If I did, and it worked, I'd have all the lovely three-letter-agencies knocking on my door to have a chat over a nice cup of tea.

Maybe "nice" would be optional in their opinion, and cup of tea would be room temp water in an interrogation room. Either way.

"A mind is a terrible thing to have leaking out your ears." -- The League of Sadistic Telepaths