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Comment Re:Not on the list: time for getting new client (Score 1) 42

I've been doing the contracting thing, where the client hires me to extend their on-site team. Recruitment agencies call me, I have an intake over the phone with the client and then meet them face-to-face. So I don't recognize the things mentioned like "fixed-price contract", I just have an hourly rate. You can spend anything from a couple of months to a couple of years working for the same client.

In other words, you're contracting involves a "body for hire", which is a perfectly reasonable way to do contracting.

Another form of contracting is a traditional contract - you have to do X and produce Y deliverables in preferably a Z timeframe, which is more project oriented Traditional engineering companies typically do these - customer needs a product that does XYZ and with deliverables and milestones. Which can involve freelance work as well - you need to produce a document, say.

In these, there are "fixed price" contracts where you do the work and get $X for it. Then there's "Time and Materials" where you're compensated for time and expenses to get things done. The former is riskier on the company so they usually have higher margins (if the company thinks they can do it in 1 month, they'd bid 3 months for contingency), while the latter is lower risk, and thus lower margins.

If you're extending teams, that's just one form of work, but freelancing typically involves completed parcels of work.

Comment Re:Devs continue to develop for these gimped thing (Score 2) 94

So apparently there was some sort of software/firmware that restricted the hardware preventing it from utilizing everything available? Why develop for this shit in the first place?

I don't know, maybe the billions of dollars in revenue that comes along with developing AAA titles for consoles?

Exactly. The "PC Master Race" seems to forget that piracy has really killed games on PC, at least the AAA titles. Indies are huge on PC (as they are on mobile), so that's all left.

Most AAA gave development money is headed towards consoles where the DRM keeps piracy low (under 10% typically) and there's a good chance to make back the money. So consoles get the first release to make back the development money, then after everyone's made their money, they port it to PC with the hopes the PC port pays for the porting effort. To help with this, they reduce the price (out of necessity since the game has been out 6 months to a year already).

The few PC games that get same time releases generally are online games where the server can enforce DRM (your Call of Duty or Battlefield games). Very rarely do you get something like a Fallout 4 where there's a PC release at the same time as console with no online component.

Heck, while there are a few stubbornly PC only developers, many former PC only developers branched out to consoles - Activision-Blizzard,and Valve being notable ones.

It's called follow the money. Otherwise why else would developers subject themselves to content approvals and all sorts of other things when they can release on PC for free.

Comment Re:Why were they storing these? (Score 4, Interesting) 38

This corporate culture of "store everything" needs to go away. At least in the past, we had storage limitations that made this infeasible. But dammit, as a software engineer, if the system requirements tell me to store something that would be bad if it was released, then I'm not storing it unless there is a damned good reason AND it is well encrypted.

Not to mention with child privacy laws, this sort of thing has to be well kept.

For an example - take a look at Nintendo - we lambast them for "friend codes" and awkward DRM. But you realize that the intersection of various child privacy laws worldwide mean Nintendo basically cannot ask for any information - no name, no email address or anything.

And by doing this, they just have to associate a hardware serial number (anonymous!) with purchases (also anonymous!). If you transfer to another console, it's moving the purchases to a new serial number.

But this means you also cannot create an account and re-download stuff (because Nintendo doesn't know who you are), and if your console breaks, you have to bring it back to Nintendo (so they can move the stuff to a new serial number).

Sure today you can create a "Nintendo Network" account that tries to associate your purchases with an ID, but that's optional and you still suffer the same limitations.

it's the only way Nintendo could guarantee even if they were hacked, that there was no private data to take, and legally they couldn't collect any information.

Comment Re:Yes, exactly. (Score 4, Informative) 131

The "many small batteries" approach is what makes it possible to get a decent charge in a Tesla in around 20 minutes... instead of 80+ hours.

If you charge 7,000 small batteries in parallel you'll do it roughly 1000 times faster than charging seven huge batteries with the same total capacity.

More importantly, the 7000 little batteries actually make the system more efficient than 7 large ones. Because of the massive amount of power the motors have (50+ kW), using more cells in series means higher voltages. And higher voltages means lowered currents which mean less wasted power in IIR losses. Double the voltage, halve the current, one-quarter the loss. It's why transmission lines are high voltage, why data centers usually get 208V or higher (besides three-phase) at the racks, etc.

7 lithium batteries only gets you 28V. If we use 56kW, that's nearly 2000A you have to draw - you probably will have to use the chassis split down the middle to carry that kind of current. 7000 lithium batteries as 7x1000 (4000V) series packs means drawing 14A from each pack, or 98A total. Of course, no one runs that high a pack voltage - safety reasons - it's usually closer to 480V or so, which is a large current but still manageable.

Comment Re:I'm going for the Pi... (Score 1) 121

The big reason to go with the Pi is just like going with the Arduino - community.

Community support is essential, and even more than that, continual community support. It's one thing to make a cheap board, another one to make a cheap board and get a community going around it. And quite another if you want that community to not die out after a couple of years.

The RPi community looks to be an ongoing community - even this new board is supposed to look similar to the old boards so support should be ongoing.

Comment Re:What scares me here (Score 1) 37

is that reading and exploiting data that's a mere 25 years old requires almost archeological-like recovery and reconstruction techniques. Compare that to a thousand year old book that's usually pretty much readily readable today.

it's called bit-rot and it takes place in two ways.

First is the media rots - and 25 years is a really long time - most magnetic media, and even pressed optical media (CDs) have already started failing inside of 10 years. Especially finicky things like floppies. Basically the media degrades such that it is no longer readable.

Next is format rot. Where format is both physical and logical. Physical format rot happens when the technology used to access the media is gone - working units either are unavailable or they are all broken because some critical part is gone. There's lots of these - Zip, SyQuest, MO, and many others where the drives are getting increasingly scarcer, and many tape drives are obsolete.

Logical rot happens when the file formats are obsolete and no program other than the original can read or write the file. This too is a big one, and unless it's a common format, there's a good chance it too can be obsolete very quickly - usually well under a decade.

Comment Re:WD Black the 3rd most broken item (Score 1) 105

What strikes me as far more interesting is that people bother with retailers when it comes to WD RMA. WD has maybe the most hassle-free RMA service in the industry, the last thing I'd want to go through with them is the usual "take it to the retailer, wait 4-6 weeks for replacement" spiel.

Not really. Seagate used to have the best - for $10 you not only get an advanced shipment drive, but you also get a label to return the old one - which I always used because $10 is less than half what return shipping is. And Seagate's RMA tracking worked.

With WD, I tried advanced shipping once - and a month later, they still haven't updated their RMA system with the fact that the drive is there. I emailed them proof of shipment (I used FedEx and had tracking and everything), they manually marked it as returned as the drive did arrive and was signed for. Three months later, I get an email saying they got the drive. WTF? And maybe it was a one off, but no, I had another drive fail, returned it (regular RMA this time). Again, nothing - until I started calling them and gave them again all the shipping information. This time a couple of weeks later they shipped the drive, and a month later, they "found" the drive I sent in.

I wish both would just offer an RMA system that works and allow you to buy a label from them - Seagate for me worked the best for RMA because they always got it shortly after it arrives and for $10, I didn't really care about that since the return shipping would cost me $25 normally, so I'd save $15, and the drive would be processed quickly. Alas, I'm told those days are gone.

Comment Re:Will Apple be able to spec/source a good OLED? (Score 3) 225

Perhaps that's why Apple isn't going OLED until 2018 - OLEDs have/had issues and Apple believes in 2018 they can get good ones.

Sure Apple doesn't implement the latest and greatest all the time - they often wait for technology to mature to the point where it meets existing quality. OLED displays are like that - they're bright and vibrant, but their color accuracy is often crap because the gamut is exaggerated on one end. And they're nice and people love the oversaturated look, but again, not accurate.

Then there's the whole RGB pixel versus PenTile displays which cause all sorts of resolution issues and color issues.

Also, since LCDs have hit 100% sRGB gamut, the next target is apparently AdobeRGB, where OLEDs are able to get 97%. Perhaps in 2018 Apple can make it 100% AdobeRGB, producing a wide gamut and accurate color.

OLEDs may have been on other phones for years, but that doesn't mean it's a technology that makes it "acceptable" to Apple - it's just a technology. Apple may be a latecomer, but when they do that, it usually means they've been waiting for the technology to mature and fulfill their requirements.

Comment Re: Don't pirate software (Score 1) 95

That's dumb. GPL covers the distribution rights, so if you're concerned about that, don't distribute GPL software. GPL places no restrictions on simply using the software.


AGPL certainly puts restrictions on just using it - if you use it, you have to make the source available even if you don't distribute it. (It's designed for web applications).

And you also have to be careful that the output is not GPL'd - compiler compilers like bison and yacc have special exceptions in their license because they emit code that was from GPL code - the exception being that the emitted code is NOT GPL.

Then there's GPLv3 code which is incompatible with GPLv2 code (v2-only). A lot of places are scared of the GPLv3 because of what it can do, so many places will grudgingly allow GPLv2, but GPLv3 is out of the question.

And yes, you can also "pirate" GPL open-source - we call those people "GPL Violators" instead of "pirates" though. (Piracy is copyright violation. Copyright violation happens because if you don't agree to the GPL, it falls under standard "all rights reserved" copyright. Since you didn't want to obey the GPL, the code is no longer GPL but standard copyright and distribution restricted.)

Comment Re:Let them lease, but not screw with sales (Score 2) 246

It's in the definition of the word SALE.
If I buy something I OWN it. That means I get to do with it what I want, barring government restrictions. The shcmuck that sold it to me does not have the right to say "HEY! You can't DO THAT!"

They gave up that right when they sold it to me.

When I sell you a house, I can't then complain and say "Now wait a second, I may have sold you that house, but it's still mine and I don't like that new garage you are building!"

Correct. The real reason we see this is twofold - first, because of manufacturing and second, because of fraud.

The use of adhesives in assembly should be obvious - adhesives make for quicker assembly, and when you're making millions of widgets, screws get in the way.

Warranty fraud is a huge issue, and it's one thing a site like iFixit conveniently ignore. What happens here is a user may get curious and want to take a peek inside their device, so they try to open it. Usually things go well and they put it back together successfully, but sometimes they break it. Then they go and try to claim "it just stopped working".

And I say iFixit ignore it because first of all, the manufacturer will then have to implement countermeasures to protect against this. But it also means if a site offers repair services, then they need to protect themselves as well - imagine selling repair services and now you have to fix someone's curiosity. There is no sane resolution - it'll be the user/customer vs. the repair shop.

Proprietary screws also help prevent this as if a user is willing to buy a screwdriver from iFixit, they're probably skilled enough to actually fix it. But the vast majority of users are not able to do this. And iFixit doesn't serve the general public - just the few people that care.

And that's the real problem.

Comment Re:What changes? (Score 1) 48

What changes is very little. If a telemarketer is honest he'll probably be playing by the rules already - however these people are scammers. They're not going to suddenly start changing the way they operate because the FTC said "stop, or we'll say stop again!". It's not like most of the marks these people are going after will even be aware of such changes.,

Well, you can easily run a PSA on "If someone asks you for money via Western Union/etc., it isn't legit, so just hang up".

And that's likely the point.Because those methods of payment are less trackable and the authorities are helpless to deal with victims because of it. But if you use a credit card, all of a sudden a lot more of the transaction is trackable.

So first, the marks have one more tool to help identify a scam, and should the scammers try to use a legitimate service, the tracking is a lot better.

Comment Re: Introduction (Score 4, Interesting) 207

I think you're underestimating the marketing opportunity of a recall. They're just going to put a wrench on the bolt, that costs nothing. Yeah, some minimal labor costs. BUT...who goes through the pain of taking their car to a dealership without getting everything else it needs serviced? Or just buying a whole new car, which isn't uncommon, especially if someone can afford the 80+k to buy one in the first place.

Something tells me Tesla will come ahead on this one.

Well, Tesla is quite different - you can buy an annual $600/year service plan that covers everything except tires, and for a bit more, you can have it that Tesla will come to you to service it.

The thing is, an ICE takes a lot of maintenance - between stuff like engine oil and other fluids, there's a bit of tuning to keep things in shape. An EV is different - there's actually very little in the power train that requires regular servicing - so much so that users may go for years between tune-ups (Tesla recommends users come in at least once a year to get service and replace consumables like brakes). Most ICE service schedules range from every 3 months to every 6 months.

And yes, Tesla will probably come out ahead - I mean, look at the other recalls out there - between Toyota's sudden acceleration, GM's ignition switch and many others, either the company didn't act until forced to, or they still don't act, even when there are multiple deaths attributed to the flaw.

So they get a lot of PR over it - "we're recalling every Tesla S to make sure the seatbelts are bolted on correctly, even though there was only one failure and everyone lived, and the government isn't making us do it, but we will because it's the right thing to do."

Comment Re:The life of a test pilot ... oh wait. (Score 1) 96

I was gonna say, "well, seeing what happens when you go too fast is part of a test pilot / driver's job", until the article mentioned bringing kids along. Ugh, that's reprehensible.

Well it depends, because part of the TGV tests in the final phase is public demonstration. It happened in Japan - their newest bullet train was running on test tracks, yet many people lined up to buy tickets to be the first to ride it (it can go over 500kph) because while it will take many years to build or upgrade the tracks to support the new trains, this is an opportunity see the future now.

So just because it's a test train on a test track doesn't mean it was being tested. Likely it was a public demonstration showing the future capabilities of the TGV that will take 20+ years to fully bear out. And the public loves this sort of thing - to be the first to see the future of the trains and to ride them. And likely the test demonstration is something well within the envelope of safe - you're not testing anything, but showing it off.

Of course, what it really shows is that humans are human and stupid mistakes still happen. And the new trains still lack proper warning equipment when autobrakes and speed limits are disabled or exceeded.

Comment Re:GM producers are shooting themselves in the foo (Score 1) 514

. Does the food that you purchase identify the conglomerate which entirely owns the folksy subsidiary whos name appears on the product?

That's because they're not required to. I presume most of the population would be shocked to find out that 99% of the stuff they buy at the supermarket comes from approximately 12 companies. All of them recognizable.

Companies behind the brands.

(That image was created as part of an Oxfam report, Behind the Brands).

Comment Re:Pure hype (Score 1) 67

It's a great story, but her invention was never used. It's really a huge stretch it really relates at all to current spread-spectrum technology. Even if you think it is related, spread-spectrum as developed did not base their ideas on her invention, and it's unlikely they were even aware of it.


Hedy Lamarr's spread spectrum, called Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum (FHSS) is used in Bluetooth and early WiFi (802.11, no "b") is the first known implementation. Basically, Hedy based it on a piano roll used by player pianos in order for the Navy to control torpedoes without them being jammed.

The other form of spread spectrum, Direct Sequence Spread Spectrum (DSSS) is much more modern - its patents are owned by our dear friend Qualcomm, who used it to create CDMA as an alternative to FDMA and TDMA mechanisms.

Qualcomm owns DSSS because they basically invented it, and they're quite recent.

FHSS is still spread spectrum, and it still accomplishes the goal of spreading the signal out and interference on a channel only affects the signal for a little while.

FHSS is easier to do if your communications are channelized and you can switch between channels easily (which is why it's older). DSSS requires more computation and initial acquisition of the stream is a lot harder since you're not entirely sure where in the chip code you are so you not only have to pick the right PRNG seed, but you need to advance the code until your correllator starts detecting a signal.

(The chip codes are carefully selected so the correllator only produces a noise output if the chip code is wrong).

Yes, we will be going to OSI, Mars, and Pluto, but not necessarily in that order. -- Jeffrey Honig