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Comment Re:Excellent! (Score 4, Informative) 102

If it only worked that way. The real game they are playing is to file your taxes with a bunch of fake dependents, every dedication they can take, etc., in order to drive up a refund. They then send the refund to a bank account they own and run away with the money, usually several thousand dollars. This often happens without you knowing at all. When you try to submit your real tax return, the IRS bounces it because you already filed. You then have to go through all sorts of hoops to prove to the IRS you are filing your real taxes and you don't need to pay them back the refund they've already send "you".

It happened to one of my co-workers last year. He didn't get it cleaned up until nearly August -- and he had to spend several hundred hours on the phone, in court, at the IRS office, etc. to get everything straightened out.

Comment Re:Wasn't the C64 just a BASIC interpreter anyways (Score 1) 119

Same was true for the Apple ][ Basic (I grew up with an Apple IIc then we upgraded to a IIGS when the logic board failed).

I remember the AppleIIGS came with a manual with all the memory locations and what they did. It was trivial to do PEEK and POKE commands to get access to the mouse subsystem or the high-res graphics system (thank god they mapped the PLOT commands to be able to use the high-res graphics system.. it would have been brutal to POKE for every dot on the screen).

Being a bored kid in elementary school, I was able to write my own version of the Apple Finder with full mouse control. I also remember seeing Scored Earth running on one of the computers at the local community college and wrote my own version of that as well. Of course, back then you could find a "physics engine" for those types of games by rekeying functions found in BASIC programming magazines :)

Comment Re:Vampires (Score 1) 167

One thing you missed with all this is the encryption/decryption mechanism that both STBs provide. The content providers require, by contract, that the signal be encrypted end-to-end. STBs are pre-loaded with a decryption method (ones from Motorola claim that their encryption mechanism has never been broken). The CableCARD units were essentially just decryption units.

Almost every TV sold in the US has the ability to watch digital television (even over cable systems), as long as it is not encrypted. Systems that don't encrypt don't require a STB (this is how I've deployed my CATV system).

Digital Cable (QAM) is essentially Multicast video. It is either MPEG2-TS or MPEG4-TS, multi-program streams, just like IPTV. The only thing that makes it different is that it gets packed into 38MB/s streams for each "channel" (OTA digital TV does the same thing -- packs MPEG-2 streams into 19MB/s streams).

There are lots of companies that have been producing cheaper STBs for years -- but again, they won't always be compatible with the Cable Co's chosen encryption method. Blonder Tounge makes an HD/DVR tuner for about $140, without encryption. K-World makes a HD Tuner for about $80. New Motorola STBs start at about $180 for a HD unit, and $360 for a HD/DVR unit). These prices are without volume.

The big reason why CableCARDS failed was that the cable companies made them so hard to use. Even in their 'hayday', Comcast and TimeWarner didn't list them on their website, and if you called in for one, you had to know how to navigate their systems better than they did. Comcast, in most regions, blocked the EPG data from any non-motorola receiver (they did this by using some non-RFC additions to the EPG data to make it so it would be thrown out by compatible systems). When the TV manufactures realized that they weren't getting anywhere with the Cable CO's on the CableCARD front, they stopped putting the slots into their sets to save money.

Comment I think you guys are reading into this a bit much. (Score 1) 317

The president is proposing that students be able to take at least take a single course in CS. They aren't mandating that it becomes everybody's major. I think a bit of exposure to CS will do the world a huge favor. Maybe my kids will grow up in a world where the laptop is not known as the "hard drive", and a monitor is not known as a "computer". Maybe if people understand the basic underpinnings of the Internet, privacy won't written off as something nerds care about. Maybe, just maybe, if people are comfortable with even using the computer, we will actually experience that thing people keep referring to as "the year of Linux!" Heck, maybe this initiative will turn out some people who understand that coping a file takes 10 seconds, but building a new application takes longer.

All the kids of the US won't become C++ programmers in one class, but at least they will get some exposure into what programming even means. With any luck, this will inspire some kids who didn't have any exposure into the subject to learn more, and become programmers, or computer scientists, or computer engineers.

Comment Re:Its always someone else's problem (Score 2) 303

Except, the state took over the city because they passed a law saying their finances weren't in order. The governor (Snyder) appointed a "EFM" to manage the city. One of his decisions was to no longer purchase water from the metro Detroit system (rumor has it, that they wanted to punish Detroit and make it less financially solvent by removing one of the larger water purchasers), and use the very old connections to the Flint River. The EPA sent up red flags immediately, but it got tied up in court until a few months ago. In the mean time, FEMA, the Salvation Army and many others have been delivering bottled water to schools and other community centers so people wouldn't be poisoned by the water they were buying (and being provided by in the schools, etc).

The amount they saved switching to the Flint River was less than 1%.... but with this entire debacle, the city will owe so much more money because the acidic river (which, by the way was found to be heavily polluted due to run-off from neighboring cities), managed to eat many of their already crumbling infrastructure.

Comment Re:state regulators "never required" (Score 2) 303

Except the elected officials were taken out of power, by a law passed (repealed by vote of the people, then passed again in the middle of the night), and were replaced by an appointed official, responsible only to the Governor. The elected officials they had were unable to stop the switch, even though the EPA raised flags before the move happened. Everybody was ignored, but you know -- they think they were going to save a few bucks!

Comment Re:state regulators "never required" (Score 5, Insightful) 303

Except, the state, and it's republican government took over the city because they passed a law saying their finances weren't in order. The governor (Snyder) appointed a "EFM" to manage the city. One of his decisions was to no longer purchase water from the metro Detroit system (rumor has it, that they wanted to punish Detroit and make it less financially solvent by removing one of the larger water purchasers), and use the very old connections to the Flint River. The EPA sent up red flags immediately, but it got tied up in court until a few months ago. In the mean time, FEMA, the Salvation Army and many others have been delivering bottled water to schools and other community centers so people wouldn't be poisoned by the water they were buying (and being provided by in the schools, etc).

The amount they saved switching to the Flint River was less than 1%.... but with this entire debacle, the city will owe so much more money because the acidic river (which, by the way was found to be heavily polluted due to run-off from neighboring cities), managed to eat many of their already crumbling infrastructure.

But go ahead, play politics you don't know about and blame the democrats on this one. Hope it makes you feel better.

Comment Re:No, I'm really not (Score 1, Funny) 316

The thing is, I don't want to count on everyone having the latest version. I want to be able to test my site or app, and to know that if it works in testing and I push out to production, my users will enjoy the same fully working system I signed off. And they will still be able to enjoy the same fully working system tomorrow, and next week, and next month.

Then maybe you shouldn't be relying on clients that are not under your control. You may want to push out thick clients or apps that you control the versioning of so that you can dictate the version numbers of everything.

The thing with browsers is that you write to a loose standard. Everybody interperates that standard a bit differently, but mostly the same. Your goal is to make your site as compatible with the standards as possible so that it can be viewed by as many people as possible, and by a wide array of browsers. Most apps written for the browser stretch this limit to the point where they rely on quirks in the browsers, which break between version updates....

Comment Re:Is a JPEG at 0% compression a RAW image? (Score 1) 206

RAW files are a dump of the camera sensor. They generally require processing to produce something useful (although both Canon and Nikon RAW files now include a JPEG embedded into the file format for preview). The reason why you would want a dump of the camera sensor is so that you can do post-production work like adjusting the white balance, adjust the exposure, etc. JPEGs already have this data "baked" and product much poorer results when trying to do this post-production work.

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