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Comment: Re:the androidness of it all (Score 2) 303

by radoni (#46076535) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Life After N900?

Settled on a Huawei U8686 (T-Mobile Prism II / Android 4.1.1) for $70usd new. What I've learned compared to the N900, follows.

Similar:
- survive with screen protector a drop to concrete from pocket
- small hi-res screen is unnoticeable size in pocket
- replaceable battery
- wifi / bluetooth / GPS
- microSD storage expansion
- standard SIM card

N900 is better:
- Camera autofocus and flash with excellent optics quality (affects usefulness as 2D barcode scanner)
- Keyboard and Resistive touchscreen work always even in rainy weather
- Cellular carrier sees N900 as a "dumb phone" and no problem to use on cheap unlimited data plan ; Carrier forces upsell to new data plan if using Android OS
- Already have one and don't want to buy another device
- Most apps are free as in freedom with open source code and free software license
- 16GB or 32GB storage internal comparable with most high-end phones to date

U8686 is better:
- Make and receive calls consistently with instant and foolproof UI response
- Integration with T-Mobile wifi hotspot call routing ; use this one a lot at home where there is Internet but no cellular coverage
- Pinch/pull to zoom makes Firefox Mobile much more useful
- On screen keyboard works smoothly with easy to configure text prediction
- Majority OS marketshare at its release with Android
- No moving parts

Not sure about:
- Google Android manager allows to track your misplaced phone ; Admittedly this is both a great benefit and privacy concern
- Low signal-to-noise App marketplace promoting a non-libre and advertising supported shit storm of apps that are diminishing in usefulness
- U8686 bootloader is locked by default. Huawei honors requests for bootloader unlock code via a recently-discovered form letter. Alternative Android OS builds for this device by community are not yet available.
- Where is wireless charging? Aftermarket product makers of either device, hello?

Summary: An improvement over the N900 should cost *less* than you paid originally for your N900, and to be a true improvement (at the same price) there would be *zero* binary blobs and proprietary softwares required. Can you make a truly libre phone OS run on cheap ($100) Android phone hardware?

Comment: Re:If you want CD-quality audio, buy CDs (Score 1) 550

by radoni (#35471894) Attached to: Why We Should Buy Music In FLAC

A few refurb SanDisk Sansa Fuze or Clip players and an assortment of 2GB to 8GB uSD cards fills the need to enjoy FLAC based CD-quality music on-the-go. No, you don't need Rockbox (alternative firmware). Native vendor firmware plays 44KHz/16-bit/2-channel FLAC without issue. Labeling uSD cards is a little tricky, and for that task I'll cut an Avery 6737 label in half and write using an ultra-fine (0.5mm) tip pen. After a few insertion cycles of the storage card, the label settles enough that it does not bind on the socket. All of my music is stored and labeled this way and fits in an Altoids tin. Duplicity encrypted backups are stored offline on 1TB or 2TB rotational platter drives. The upfront cost of this setup is about equal or less than what I paid in the 1990's for a used portable CD player, NiCad batteries, and CD case storage.

What I would like to see (as a consumer) is the wider adoption of 96KHz/24-bit FLAC playback capability on portable devices. CD quality isn't good enough for me to justify paying more than the cost of a local live show for it. I can barely notice the difference between CD-quality and a higher resolution signal, but I -do- notice the difference. I.e most people do not notice when they crank up the volume of a player beyond the line input level of a stereo system, and I do know this, it is grating to my hearing and detrimental to enjoying music. Worst yet about our economy today of buying and selling music, most of this music is damaged by the compression methods to the point where not many people can tell the difference anymore. It all sounds like shit at playback no matter what you do to it.

Comment: Re:PF Alternative, anyone ? (Score 1) 409

by radoni (#34761028) Attached to: Pink Floyd Give In To Digital Downloads

Try:

The Gathering
Mono (instrumental group from Japan)
Captain Beefheart
Frank Zappa
Nathan Fake
Mew / And the glass handed kites (album)
Muse
Radiohead
ELP

and there's always Brian Eno / Mike Oldfield, but honestly I haven't got the patience for it.

To be fair you should probably give Sonic Youth a listen; Musically brilliant and "recent", though not anything similar to Pink Floyd.

I've heard Coldplay is similar to Pink Floyd, just kidding.

Comment: Re:Ohh I was right! (Score 1) 409

by radoni (#34760652) Attached to: Pink Floyd Give In To Digital Downloads

Nick, ever the rational one, the only member to be with the band through its entire career, said "Hey You, It's One of My Turns to speak right now, and Let There Be More Light on this subject. Remember, Childhood's End, and we're at Chapter 24 of our careers. If only you would overcome your Flaming temper, we could Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun and watch our sales go into Interstellar Overdrive. Remember a Day before today when we were young and were the Masters of Rock? When we shone like the sun? Today's market is The Thin Ice, or to put it in other words, The Narrow Way, and if we don't let them sell online, you may as well plant us now six feet under in Granchester Meadows."

[x] Apply memes

A) ...as the prince of Bel-Air.

B) I see what you did there.

C) It's over 9000

Comment: Re:Anedcotial experience with laser beamers. (Score 2, Informative) 189

by radoni (#28120009) Attached to: A Widescreen Laser Projector In Your Pocket

I do work at a cinema. Your "friend" is talking fantasy. The standard for years past and years to come is and will continue to be Film. Who would have access to a full color movie-capable scanning laser projection system? I can find no evidence to support the claim that any audience in cinematic history has had their faces BURNED from laser projection, not even to say that this has ever existed in a cinema.
For those curious about what the !@#$ top poster is going on about and how the Microvision scanning laser projection technology relates to cinema...
Maintaining a cinema projector lamp house light source is MUCH LESS expensive for equal hours in operation than the light source for a consumer LCD or DLP projector. It's also much more incredibly bright than anything on the consumer market. Theaters will not be interested in the Microvision technology for showing their movies, because it will not be bright enough and you would inherit all the annoying problems of having a digital print anyways.
Film is preferred over Digital because you can pick up a film in a multiplex and move it between booths and platter systems quite readily. Being able to readily move a print around is how you maximize profits... are there really any kids awake at a 9pm showing to go see the latest Disney movie about talking cats and superhero hamsters? Adding lasers into the picture doesn't offer anything lucrative even at a Theater set up for digital projection.
Theaters using film projectors often use a consumer projector for on-screen advertising, and so the Microvision technology looks pretty good for this if it is bright enough to fill the screen (from a pretty long throw distance). It doesn't have to be high definition or anything, just watchable and cost less than the existing gear to maintain. Digital equipped theaters would still use their cinema projectors to display advertising because it is cheaper to do so.
The Microvision technology will primarily appeal to the home theater market segment, where enthusiasts are paying much higher costs than real cinemas to maintain their projection system light source. After the SHOW WX gains momentum as a first generation product, expect to see this technology compete with consumer projection systems, and to become invasive just as the camera has on cell phones and media devices.

Comment: Re:Problems..... (Score 1) 313

by radoni (#27874219) Attached to: Theora Ahead of H.264 In Objective PSNR Quality

With a simple firmware update to the latest and greatest from SanDisk, your Sansa Fuze and/or Sansa Clip get manufacturer sanctioned support for ReplayGain-capable FLAC and Vorbis.

I've owned a Clip, and now a Fuze. These are my "go to" devices, I confidently recommend them for the minority of portable media player consumers who don't want an iPod.

If you don't like the firmware on the Clip or Fuze, you can be a nerd and compile and use a work-in-progress version of Rockbox alternative firmware. It works quite well on the Fuze, and I'm not sure about the Clip. I think the SanDisk firmware is equivalent-or-better than a mostly-functioning Rockbox build. Fanatics insist that Rockbox will work on their portable media player purchase... okay choice is nice, but I am happy with the vendor firmware support of FLAC and Ogg Vorbis.

I consider Vorbis to be dead-on-arrival codec for music sales. The way storage prices go, and Sansa player compatibility, I've shifted toward buying CDs for archival as FLAC/cue. What's the point of buying music in Vorbis format?

The real strength of Vorbis is in games development. Avoiding a license fee by using a free format like Vorbis is a huge win for Rockstar Games in example, where Ogg Vorbis is used for all the game music... or at least that's how I remember it.

The "win" for the FLAC format is driven not by it being the most efficient. Its popularity is driven by being good enough, nearly first in availability, being stable and having few restrictions to implement (leading to wider user base). You can't say it sounds better than the competitors, it was in the right place at the right time.

Theora is late to the scene as a general video storage format. The encoder is not (yet) fine-tuned, and so it isn't good enough. There are few restrictions but development is on-going, which loses out to existing and stable "good enough" implementations of other standards (xvid, x264, flv container). There is no on-going format war because whatever DRM-free format Apple (as a consumer acceptance monopoly) chooses will be the new de facto portable media format. The only door that can be left open is if Apple rejects ALL non-DRM format playback, which hasn't happened yet.

Vorbis and Theora share the fate of being ignored or unwanted by the majority iPod-using crowd.

Behind the scenes, Dirac (a freely licensed non-Xiph video codec) is posing a huge win as a video archival format. Its use offers clear advantages to broadcasting operations. The demand is there for support on big-ticket editing equipment.

I observe that FLAC and Dirac are to be successful, while Vorbis and Theora reap gradual improvements along the way. Improvements in Theora encoding alone are not enough to make it a competitor to h264. You're just going to have to cheer along with everyone else who want a low to medium bandwidth video codec that is simply "good enough", but without the irksome licensing restrictions.

Embedded streaming audio and video playback on the "web" do offer opportunity for Theora and Vorbis ubiquity. It's the only market cornered by a standards body (W3C) that might actually enable player acceptance comparable to the size of the iPod user base.

Space

Einstein's Theory Passes Strict New Test 243

Posted by timothy
from the ha-ha-england-ha-ha dept.
FiReaNGeL writes with an excerpt from a story at e! Science News: "Taking advantage of a unique cosmic configuration, astronomers have measured an effect predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of General Relativity in the extremely strong gravity of a pair of superdense neutron stars. Essentially, the famed physicist's 93-year-old theory passed yet another test. Scientists at McGill University used the National Science Foundation's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) to do a four-year study of a double-star system unlike any other known in the Universe. The system is a pair of neutron stars, both of which are seen as pulsars that emit lighthouse-like beams of radio waves."
Medicine

What Is the Best Way To Disinfect Your Laptop? 545

Posted by timothy
from the use-a-nice-strong-antivirus dept.
akutz writes "I've had the flu since Tuesday afternoon. My wife picked me up from work with a temperature of 103.6 and it finally broke at 98.7 around 3am this morning. Yay. The problem is that I used my laptop during my periods of feverish deliriousness, contaminating my shiny 15" MacBook Pro with the icky influenza virus. I am asking my fellow Slashdotters if they have ever sought out a good way of disinfecting their lucky laptops after an illness. Do you use soap? A light acid bath? Just get the family dog to lick it until it looks clean?"
Security

Lt. Col. John Bircher Answers Your Questions 232

Posted by timothy
from the questions-that-dan-savage-won't-touch dept.
A few weeks ago, you asked questions of Lt. Col. John Bircher, head of an organization with a difficult-to-navigate name: the U.S. Army Computer Network Operations (CNO)-Electronic Warfare (EW) Proponent's Futures Branch. Lt. Col. Bircher has answered from his perspective, at length, not just the usual 10 questions, but several more besides. Read on for his take on cyberwar, jurisdiction, ethics, and more.
The Internet

Dial-Up Users "Don't Want Broadband" 593

Posted by timothy
from the get-spied-on-at-lower-speeds dept.
Barence writes "The majority of dial-up Internet users say they don't want to upgrade their connection to broadband, according to a new study in the US. The Pew Internet & American Life research found that 62% of dial-up users had no interest in upgrading to a high-speed connection." (CNN is carrying the AP's story on the study, too.)
Earth

Cheaper Energy From Caverns of Compressed Air 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the fine-until-the-earth-burps dept.
An anonymous reader writes "By using the Earth's vast underground caverns to store compressed air generated by wind farms at night, several U.S. municipalities will be 'going green' by using that stored energy to generate daytime electricity on the cheap. Engineers at a National Lab think compressed air stored in underground caverns could cut in half the cost of electricity."

Computers will not be perfected until they can compute how much more than the estimate the job will cost.

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