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Comment: Re:China-based threat actors (Score 5, Informative) 92

They are probably using Windows XP Embedded (XPe), which is a customizable version of the OS. Customers can strip the OS down to only the components they need, significantly reducing the footprint of the OS.

XPe benefits from being able to use standard XP hardware drivers. Sometimes a driver simply isn't available for Linux, QNX, VxWorks or other embedded OSes. That's one reason that OS/2 based ATMs are disappearing - not because of security, but because drivers for newer card readers don't exist.

Lastly, you'd be surprised at what a modern scanner looks like. It doesn't just read barcodes and go beep. My workplace uses scanners for inventory tracking, and they come with a full GUI where we can associate new parts with a chassis, report drives being shredded, and just about anything you can think of inventory related.

Comment: Re:You're much better off investing in speakers (Score 1) 490

As somebody who has been using an external DAC since the late 1990s, I'm getting a kick out of this response.

I'm actually surprised that inexpensive modern motherboards still include a DAC. You'd think it would all be coaxial SPDIF and HDMI output at this point. The freebie headsets I get when enrolling in online classes are all USB these days. Less and less seems to rely on analog outputs.

Comment: Re:another language shoved down your throat (Score 2) 412

by toejam13 (#47410695) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Java is also nice in that it was part of the C syntax family. If you know Java, it is trivial to switch to C# and moderately easy to switch to C++. C is different enough to cause grief, but people do catch on to functional languages and memory pointers.

I learned Visual BASIC during an early CS class. Wasn't really able to make much from that and apply it towards other languages. Also learned Perl during an early CS class. It was so alien from other C syntax languages (and most other languages in general) that I also couldn't apply it toward other languages. They were interesting languages to learn and I did pick up some knowledge regarding general programming, but I think I gained a lot less than had Java been one of my first CS course languages.

Comment: Re:The world... (Score 1) 236

by toejam13 (#47230723) Attached to: Are the Glory Days of Analog Engineering Over?

Digital TV goes all to hell if the signal is disturbed in even the slightest way.

Except that it doesn't. Digital TV can handle a fair amount of interference before you go over the digital cliff. I can look at the S/N meter on my receiver on a sunny day and a stormy day and see a big drop. But the channels still come in.

Want to make the channels even more resilient to noise? Use smaller quantization steps (4VSB or 16QAM instead of 8VSB or 64QAM) or add more error correcting codes.

Comment: They exist, but double check (Score 1) 1

by toejam13 (#47152973) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Do 4G World Phones Exist?

Most of the late model flagship phones from AT&T and T-Mobile support European bands for voice and data. Outside of Blackberries, almost none of the Verizon phones do. But you do need to do some research.

GSM (2G) in Europe traditionally operates at 900 and 1800 MHz. But there is also UMTS (3G) that traditionally operates at 2100 MHz. And LTE (4G) is being rolled out at 800, 900, 1800 and 2600 MHz. They're all mutually incompatible systems. But new phones are able to talk to all three of them. *

The catch is that some phones use different chips and/or different amplifiers under the hood for each system. And they don't always make it so that all three systems can talk using a given frequency. So a phone it might say that it can talk at 900 MHz, but that might only be for GSM and not UMTS or LTE.

The Galaxy S4 (SGH-I337 and SGH-M919) as well as the Sony Xperia Z1 (C6906, but not the C6916) are good choices for world-wide roaming on 3G and 4G. The Galaxy S3 and Sony Xperia Z will mostly be limited to 3G. Not sure about the HTC One models.

Of course, this all assumes that you want to buy a phone that she can bring back to the States when she's done. You could just buy the latest European/World model of the GS4, Z1 or the like and sell it when you're done. Most of them can roam on American 2G and 3G networks when she flies home to visit.


/ * - not unlike the late '90s where you had dual system phones that talked AMPS + DAMPS/TDMA or AMPS + CDMA.

Comment: Re:First to 64-bit (Score 1) 345

by toejam13 (#47020517) Attached to: AMD Preparing To Give Intel a Run For Its Money

While the Itanium ISA may be dying, a lot of the redundancy, error detection and error handling from Itanium has made its way into the Xeon line.

And x86-64 isn't holding all of us back. Different processor architectures excel in different places. ARM is good for mobile and clusters. x86-64 is good for desktop and big iron.

Comment: Re:My CD collection (Score 1) 329

by toejam13 (#47000119) Attached to: Your Old CD Collection Is Dying

While the article specifically discusses audio CDs, I see the lifespan and preservation of data CDs being an issue too. And unlike audio CDs, many data CDs include copy protection that hinders easy archival.

To my understanding, you generally can't strip the copy protection of data CDs the way you can video DVDs. The copy protection comes along. Either you use a virtual optical drive program like Daemon Tools or Alcohol 120 that can emulate the protection or you need a fancy burner that can reproduce the protection on the new disc.

Comment: LaserDiscs too (Score 2) 329

by toejam13 (#46999739) Attached to: Your Old CD Collection Is Dying

People with LaserDisc movies started learning about disc rot the hard way about a decade earlier than people with audio CDs. LaserDisc movies store video using an analog PWM scheme, so any defect in the pits and lands of a disc show up as snow in the video.

Audio CDs, being a digital format with error correction, have the benefit of the digital cliff effect to mask minor defects. So it takes more significant rotting of the reflective layer before the player exhibits playback errors.

Luckily, audio CDs can be ripped to lossless formats such as FLAC, WavPack, Monkey and the like, so making an exact archival copy is possible. Ripping tools such as Exact Audio Copy assist in that effort by examining the quality of your rip (drives can mask error when ripping audio CDs) against a database.

I'm sure that DVDs will also start to show disc rot in time. Tools such as CloneDVD can make an exact ISO image that you can archive as well.

But LaserDiscs don't have that ability. At best, you can capture an exact copy of the PCM digital audio via the SPDIF output, but the video will always be a best effort when captured from composite or Y/C component. And with so many discs showing rot these days, it is probably too late to save them.

Comment: Re:If they programmed it correctly (Score 1) 329

by toejam13 (#46980983) Attached to: EA Ending Online Support For Dozens of Games

ok, so I'm wrong about the rsync whatever; migrating a server shouldn't take long and you know it.

Actually, it does take a while in a commercial data center environment. Chances are, they're not drop-lifting the old servers because the hardware and OS are end-of-life. So now you have to:

  • forecast utilization and growth in order to properly size your hardware
  • find open grids for your hardware
  • ensure that the grid has enough available power
  • physically install and cable your servers (redundant power, network, console or kvm)
  • configure the network switch settings, firewall ACLs, load-balancer VIPs, DNS hostnames (public and private), intrusion detection
  • install the new OS and/or hypervisor on that server
  • configure the OS, network settings, user auth (AD, LDAP, etc), alarm/logging/monitoring settings, OS hardening and patching
  • install the server software and configure as needed
  • validate that the OS and server software are operating as expected

At your typical mega corp, much of that work is handled by separate teams. It can take a couple weeks for all of them to execute their work. It isn't fast, easy or cheap.

Comment: Re:At least there's hope . . . (Score 1) 210

Oh and be glad to use svideo because dvi, hdmi, display port are all out and enjoy that less than full 480p resolution.

LaserDisc is actually a composite format. So with modern televisions, you'd actually want to use the composite video output from your LD player since your television's comb filter is superior to the one in the LD player.

The reason that every major university maintains a department of mathematics is that it's cheaper than institutionalizing all those people.