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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.

Comment: Re:Meh (Score 1) 398

by pruss (#45154237) Attached to: Windows 8.1 Rolls Out Today

If you use Classic Shell, then you get an upgrade: the inflexible closed source feature that was standard to Windows for 17 years is replaced with a much more customizable open source feature. It would be nice if it was bundled with Windows, though. :-)

(To me it's not a change, as I've been using Classic Shell on Win7, too.)

Comment: Re: Technical selection? (Score 2) 108

by pruss (#44793251) Attached to: Ars Test Drives the "Netflix For Books"

The publishers wouldn't like it, but scholarly authors might well. Many of us care much more about being read than about making money off our books. I'd give all my books away for free if I could, but unfortunately professional reputation requires publishing with major possess and the presses won't allow it.

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