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Comment Re:They aren't dead, they're on life support (Score 1) 191

I assume that they are concerned that this would make it too easy on hackintosh or something; but if they are going to ignore the segment, it'd be nice if Apple would just offer some sort of license that blesses a VM to run OSX.

I've had to deal with a few of the 'put a mac mini in because we need a little bit of OSX' situations; and it just kind of sucks. They aren't as magnificently unrackable as the "pro"(is anything?); but are otherwise more or less wholly unsuitable. We would have happily paid Apple as much for the right to just spin up a VM as we did for the 'server' mini; to avoid dealing with the little zero-redundancy hardware oddball; rather than having another VM that is already compatible with all the management, backup, storage, etc. set up for the assorted VMs in place for other functions.

Comment Re:Hope... (Score 2) 191

It sounds like you may have identified one reason why Apple isn't too motivated to get the mini into shape.

As the cheapest thing that runs OSX, they are an obvious cannibalization risk to any product further up the chain that either isn't a terribly good value; or is a good value for what it offers; but doesn't offer what buyers actually want(eg. the iMac is actually pretty reasonable when you compare it to other all-in-ones; it can be tricky to even find alternatives with screens that nice; but you really have to want exactly the features it offers for the price tag to not hurt).

Back before iOS was a big thing, the mini helped justify it's existence by being the gateway drug to Apple; a drop in upgrade for the monitor and peripherals you already have; cheap enough to fill out computer labs, that sort of thing. Now, it's fairly clear that iphones and ipads are intended as the entry-level option; which makes an actually competent(ie. not that one with 4GB of non-upgradeable RAM) versions of the mini look more like threats to better, but not necessarily better enough to justify their price tag, Apple products; rather than a shot across the bow of the assorted shoddy wintels of the world.

Comment Re: All the above (Score 1) 302

I didn't do it at the graduate level, true; but at the undergraduate level these tended to involve either programming or using a markup language for typesetting mathematical symbols. The programming was, for obvious reasons, a case of programming; while the typesetting was reasonably touchy about syntax; but (in principle; I don't know of any implementation that actually does the job) seemed more amenable to, say, a handwriting recognition mechanism that actually worked: my handwriting is substantially slower than my typing for alphanumeric plus a few basic symbols; while I can hand write more complex formulas and such faster than I can write the markup; but my handwriting is far too awful for anything formal.

Is it different at the graduate level, or are you just pointing out that I didn't include the LaTeX case?

Comment Re:All the above (Score 3, Insightful) 302

It seems like there are two(for broad simplification purposes, there are definitely more or at least cases that mix elements of both) 'styles' of use; one of which is fairly hard to imagine replacing keyboards in; the other much more amenable(already partially done in some cases).

There are the tasks that involve relatively precise symbol manipulation. Programming is probably the most extreme case(human readers might be disgusted by your spelling, grammer, and atrocious taste in formatting; but they are likely to understand what you meant than the compiler or interpreter is); spreadsheet data munging, word processing, and the like are the other big ones. You can substitute something for a keyboard in these cases; but it is generally pretty clunky and you really need a reason to bother. Speech-to-text, say, works; and can be a valuable assistive technology for those who can't type for one reason or another; but it isn't actually all that impressive compared to typing if you have the option of either(both because it is somewhat error prone; because some operations have extremely terse expressions on the keyboard "move right one cell" is expressed with one touch of an arrow key, which is far faster than saying it, and certainly at least as fast as even a specially defined codeword of some sort; and because people, without substantial practice, aren't terribly good at speaking the way they want to write; pauses, 'umm', etc.)

Then there are tasks that can be done by manipulating symbols; but are really about snapping together some primitives the system is already familiar with in one of a reasonably limited number of ways according to what is basically a template provided by the system. Creating a calendar event or starting a phone call are probably reasonably good examples: For a calendar event; you are snapping together one or more items from your contacts(if it's a 'reminder', it just contains you; if it's a meeting or something, it will have additional participants), a date/time, and a location(sometimes just a human-readable description intended for the participants, in company settings often a conference room or the like that is also a specialized type of contact that is known to the system so that room availability tracking works). Placing a phone call is an even simpler case: you are specifying a contact and a known operation to perform against that contact(and possibly an additional detail if the contact has a work, home, and mobile number or the like, in which case the command has to be 'call X at work').

This set of tasks is inherently somewhat limited, because (barring markedly more expert expert systems than we yet enjoy) you can really only perform them if the system already has a template defined; but many of the common cases are really, really common; so it isn't prohibitive to enumerate and support those cases; which reduces the ambiguity involved and makes it easier for a relatively imperfect input mechanism to assemble the correct answer (or at least recognize that it needs to ask you to repeat yourself) because the context automatically excludes the vast majority of possible inputs.

If your plan involves a grim future where computers are basically just for scheduling meetings and asking Alexa to buy things; it becomes much easier to imagine replacing the keyboard; but that is much less about improvements in speech to text or other new input mechanisms than it is about defining down the list of possible activities until you no longer need precision, general purpose input, or other things your alternative input mechanism is bad at.

Comment Re:All the above (Score 1) 302

There might be more enthusiasm for getting rid of keyboards in places that don't use languages built around small alphabets, since they have always relied on a (sometimes fairly dodgy) software layer munging their input into characters; but for anyone using latin, cyrillic, or similarly-sized alphabets, the ability to provide the entire alphabet plus numbers and a bunch of common symbols with just two hands and one modifier key(if you want to do it with one hand, the modifiers get a little more complex, though it is an option) on a piece of hardware that starts at ~$5 if you don't care about quality is pretty hard to beat.

Comment Re:Chromebook is Intel, not ARM. (Score 1) 182

The fact that the inmates don't run the asylum when it comes to updates on the ChromeOS side is kind of refreshing. Compared to Android, support periods are relatively long and basically identical across vendors(so is the OS itself, given the lack of vendor shitware). Plus, despite being much more tightly standardized and controlled, the option to kick a device into dev mode is also standardized; no 'oh, the Verizon model has a locked bootloader' stuff.

I can see the argument that little more than browser isn't really enough to work with, hence the adoption of Android applications; but the competence and sanity of the OS part of things is a vast difference from the clusterfuck that is Android.

And, if Intel offends you, you can get one of the ARM-based Chromebooks(Samsung did some Exynos-based ones, more recently Rockchip seems to be the SoC of choice). They are largely indistinguishable in operation.

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 1) 337

My post was more two observations, one to cover capital costs and one to cover operating costs, in response to an argument about what Puerto Rico can or can't afford, rather than intended to add up to a thesis.

It is true that it will suck to try to raise the funds needed for a big capital project at reasonable rates; it is also true that their current infrastructure(in addition to whatever storm damage occurred) is both seriously aging and badly skewed toward oil, which has the unenviable distinction of being relatively dirty and relatively expensive.

Since, as you note, they don't really have the option of just continuing to use the current infrastructure, since it is broken and was heading toward EOL anyway, I'd be inclined to think that now would be a very good time for a push toward lower operating costs; but it seemed worth noting that their "change will pay for itself in X years" calculations are likely to be less good than usual because their interest rates will likely be higher, which will make the project more difficult.

Comment Re:Huh? (Score 5, Insightful) 337

I...wouldn't exactly...want to be Puerto Rico trying to float the bonds required to build that shiny new infrastructure; but it is worth noting that their current(or pre-getting-destroyed) grid was actually absurdly skewed toward expensive fuels.

Per EIA electricity production was almost 50% oil, 34% natural gas, 17% coal, 2% misc renewables.

That is a really, really, lousy set of numbers when you are already a poor island with relatively high transportation costs. Even if you don't give a damn about the environment, oil is silly expensive compared to coal as a base load option; and natural gas has always been quite versatile in terms of spinup/spindown and plant construction; plus it has gotten crazy cheap of late.

Aside from trying to get the anachronistic legal situation that ruins their transport costs sorted out; that's a generating situation ripe to be replaced by something cheaper; and a time when it already needs substantial repair and/or replacement is a convenient opportunity.

Comment I don't get it. (Score 4, Insightful) 69

Maybe I'm missing some sort of killer feature; but it looks like their power budget forced them to axe a pretty substantial percentage of the 'smart'; while still tying the watch to a phone(and the hope that it won't lose most of its utility if the company bleeds out and stops updating their little app) and keeping power draw high enough that you do at least sometimes have to worry about the battery, unlike non-smart watches which draw so little power that the solar ones usually run for the life of the device and the battery powered ones have battery lives in years rather than hours.

I could see the notification LED maybe being useful if you already have your phone's constant demands for attention pared down enough that a simple "$APP$ is bothering you" indicator, without room for displaying 'from', 'subject', or anything of that sort would actually be helpful; but my experience has been that 'social' apps are relentless about their notification spam because user engagement metrics are the stuff of which inflated valuations are built; and email notifications are hard to make helpful without at least knowing you the message is from; or that it has passed a particular set of filter rules; because most mailboxes get a constant torrent of low value chatter.

I, um, guess it's less silly looking than the rubbery-bracelet style activity trackers? And the advertising photos imply that it will make me a rugged outdoorsman enjoying an active lifestyle and adequate vitamin D? Plus, the advanced 'have your watch tell you if the sun has risen or set' feature!

Comment Re:Nobody believed me (Score 1) 121

I'm certainly not opposed to the idea of using ham operators; it's a proven technique; but what I found most surprising about the ARC calling for some is that it is happening in a context where satellite phones are (relatively) cheap; and work reasonably well; and the American Red Cross has had some rather disturbing reports out of the last few disasters of general incompetence and a more specific inability to turn their impressive fundraising capabilities into actually delivering what is needed where it is needed. They also got into a spat specifically with the ham radio people over their desire to do more intensive background checks(not just 'criminal record/should you be trusted near a bunch of displaced children' but credit reports, 'mode of living', etc. to which the ham response was "We volunteer to bring $$$ radio gear to your disaster zone; you think we'll be stealing your bottled water or something?"

If the ARC were all about plucky and heroic volunteers making it work on a shoestring; calling in the hams would be totally in character(and, again, it is a perfectly viable strategy; they have technology that works and know how to use it); but these days they are more of a fundraising powerhouse, operated by a 'brand' crazed former AT&T executive, with some genuinely unfortunate losses in their ability to coordinate much more than a photo-op and some disillusionment among their traditionally motivated volunteers; which seems much more like a situation where you would just turn cash into satellite phones and call it a day.

Comment Re:Hooray! (Score 1) 119

That it does(and that's one of the reasons why it would be my choice if I were in the market); but I suspect that Intel is more willing to sacrifice that feature vs. AMD than they are to render a pretty massive slice of single-socket Xeons either irrelevant or in need of a nontrivial price cut.

If AMD makes enough headway that the pain of losing marketshare to the other guy is greater than the pain of your cheap products cannibalizing your high-margin products; I would expect Intel to adjust their strategy; but they have little reason to start by doing that: cutting your margins sucks and if this strategy doesn't work, Intel doesn't really have an engineering problem on their hands; they just need to change some price tags in whatever areas are most seriously threatened. If this happens, the i9 series might well end up orphaned pretty quickly(it has pretty much zero reason to exist if Xeons are getting price cuts); but unlike the Netburst days, Intel isn't in the position of having to sell actually inferior products; but in the position of trying to command somewhat optimistic prices for otherwise competitive or superior products.

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