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Comment: Re: Only things left cost more to do than you'd ma (Score 1) 421

by pruss (#48730035) Attached to: What Isn't There an App For?

Most of the apps I make are based on something that I want. I make it largely for myself, and then it turns out other people want it, too.
There are plenty of things that need to be done, at least on Android.
For instance:
A night vision preserving red/green screen mode app for astronomers and others who like to use phones in the dark (chainfire had one but last I checked it stopped working with Android 4.0; I made one that worked with some Galaxy phones, but it doesn't work with recent ones).
An ebook reader app aimed at serious scholarly text study that supports large corpora with fast indexed boolean search and automatic alternate spellings (I like to work with 17th century French texts :-) ).
An astronomy app with fully expandable object databases and integration with sky survey photography.

Comment: Re: Claim is BS. (Score 1) 155

by pruss (#48119351) Attached to: Liking Analog Meters Doesn't Make You a Luddite (Video)

The LCD version also has the advantage of not having parallax problems when reading. Different heights of drivers look at the dials from different angles and if the needles are, say, a millimeter in front of the backing, different readings result. The fuel gauge when close to empty is one case where this can make a difference.
(Personally I prefer numerical gauges: I all faster with numbers than interpolation, and I prefer to look at speed on the GPS than the dashboard.)

Comment: List the STL? Seriously? (Score 5, Interesting) 479

by pruss (#47976409) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Finding a Job After Completing Computer Science Ph.D?

I've conducted a lot of interviews (in an academic setting in the humanities), and I can say that it's risky guessing what exactly the interviewer is trying to accomplish with a question. Sometimes a question is asked neither to see if someone knows the answer to the question nor to see the content of the interviewee's answer, but to see how the person handles being asked such a question. I could see someone deliberately asking a question that he know the candidate not to know the answer to just for such a purpose, though personally I would avoid doing it as it's neither nice nor useful to stress out the interviewee even more (but I might do it in a mock interview preparing someone for a real interview).

So the interviewer might be interested to see if the interviewee honestly, humbly and politely says: "Would you like me to tell you the container classes I use the most? The others I have to look up when I need them", or if the person pretends to know the answer, or rudely bristles, or tries to weasel out of the question by changing the topic (of course it might be a bonus if the interviewee actually has a great memory and knows all the container classes; but then another question might need to be asked to gauge character).

Comment: Losing rights to Linux kernel? (Score 1) 349

by pruss (#47387971) Attached to: Qualcomm Takes Down 100+ GitHub Repositories With DMCA Notice

IANAL, but I wonder if a case couldn't be made that by limiting the distribution of parts of their Linux kernel source code, they've violated clause 6 of the GPL2 in every product of theirs that uses a Linux kernel with that code, and therefore every other Linux kernel developer is in a position to sue them for copyright violation, or at least file DMCA notices with anybody distributing their stuff. I am assuming they ship products using that kernel code.

Comment: Re:More money does not always buy better things. (Score 1) 288

by pruss (#46804835) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

As I recall from looking at the Consumer Reports reviews of countertop materials, laminate (e.g., Formica) and quartz provide what looked to me to be on balance the best functionality (at least for my mental weighting of the categories). Laminate looked better than granite to me. Quartz was a little better than laminate functionally, but laminate is quite a bit less expensive. I can't remember the specific ratings for the categories.

As for heat resistance, here is some anecdotal information. We lived in a house that was scheduled to be demolished right after we moved out, so for the last couple of months I did not take any precautions with the laminate countertops, since they'd all be smashed up soon. I would take a pot straight off the stove and put it right on the countertop (it felt wrong!). Visible results: none. I don't know the variety of laminate, I am afraid.

Comment: Judgment shouldn't matter (Score 2) 54

by pruss (#46335217) Attached to: Copyright Ruling On Publishing Calculated Results: Common Sense Breaks Out

I'm a bit concerned by the implicit suggestion that if a lot of individual judgment went into producing the averages, then perhaps they might be copyrightable. IANAL, but it's my understanding that ideas, facts, opinions and judgments are not copyrightable. Only their expressions are, and only when there is creativity in the expression of the idea, fact, opinion or judgment. Whether there was creativity in coming up with the idea, fact, opinion or judgment should be completely irrelevant. Thus, when the judgment is that some number is 3.95%, then an expression of that judgment as "3.95%" is not copyrightable, being quite uncreative, but expressing it as "just a shade under four tenths of a tenth, where a shade is a twentieth of a tenth of a tenth" might be creative enough to be copyrightable.

It may, though, be that the judge is just doing a two-prong attack here: neither is the expression creative nor are the ideas creative either.

Comment: Re:Devil's advocate (Score 1) 526

by pruss (#46209733) Attached to: Customer: Dell Denies Speaker Repair Under Warranty, Blames VLC

I am not a sound engineer, but here's my impression of the issue. The maximum volume in the hardware is presumably set against typically expected waveforms. For instance, normally, if you watch a movie, there is no sustained high level sound. When there is no sound at all, the speaker coils and amp can cool off; during speech the background music is quiet or nonexistent and the pauses between words and variations in loudness will allow for further cooling; and so on.

The waveform compression in the volume boost reduces the differences between quieter and louder sounds, and thereby decreases the opportunities for cooling. This is going to be particularly true in the case of sustained playback of music.

If one sets the maximum volume in the hardware or firmware so that the speakers can survive sustained compressed sound, then the result will be that the speakers will be terrible for hearing speech in movies and radio. Granted, this could be fixed with higher quality speakers and better heat sinks, but that would increase cost and the audio system may need to be physically larger, while people like their laptops small and thin.

I guess temperature sensors in the speakers and the amp might help, and/or smart firmware that not only controls the maximum output but reduces output when high volume is sustained.

Another solution is honesty and user education: just explain to users that built-in speakers can be worn out with sustained compressed audio, and leave it to the users to decide how to balance audibility with risks to hardware.

(Like I said, I am not an engineer, but I do make a sound boost open source app for Android, which works by using the equalizer API to do presumably the same thing that VLC does. I put very obvious warnings about possibilities of damage to hearing and hardware in the app, but nonetheless the app was useful for movies and audio books. But using it for sustained loud music would be a bad idea. As of 4.2.1, Google patched the OS not to allow boost sound above default maxima. This protects speakers but is paternalistic and makes movies nearly unwatchable on some devices, I expect. Tradeoffs...)

Comment: Re:"So you buy the filaments from us...." (Score 1) 155

by pruss (#46083567) Attached to: $499 3-D Printer Drew Plenty of Attention at CES (Video)

And both models can make sense to a buyer. I think I do about 98% of my printing on a b+w laser printer with low page costs. Occasionally I have something to print out something in color, typically for the kids. It makes sense to buy a color printer with low up-front costs for such rare use.

Is your job running? You'd better go catch it!