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Comment Re:Upgrading CPUs? (Score 1) 240

I upgraded an entire engineering computer lab's worth of CPUs once... in 1996. lol. Those Pentiums swapped out pretty easily and Cyrix P166+ processors fit nicely into the same slots as old Pentium 60s (though even then, the motherboards were a bit of a bottleneck at times). A roughly 2.5 x jump in cpu speed back then meant a lot for NT4 boxes running AutoCAD and other engineering software.

Today... I can't imagine why anyone would bother (though maybe it's my lack of imagination's fault).

CPUs aren't usually the bottleneck for performance. Moving to an SSD and a better graphics card tend to make the biggest difference (used to be a RAM upgrade would do the trick, but now most machines come with an adequate amount of RAM and Win10 has gotten much better about memory management).

These days, most people have a laptop instead of a desktop... same story -- upgrade to an SSD, upgrade the RAM if necessary... but... many can't upgrade the GPU. So, the laptop gets tossed for a new laptop. Hopefully Thunderbolt 3 / USB C will change that somewhat with external GPUs, but I'm skeptical.

Anyway... I haven't swapped out a CPU for anyone in over 20 years. Even though it's partially due to the slot changes, even if it were possible to fit the newest, latest & greatest CPU into some of my older boxes, the CPUs would be crippled by the lack of features from the motherboards. It wouldn't make any sense to do it. Sure. Put that Core i7 into my 10 year old board w/ DDR2 and PCIe 1x and a voltage regulator that won't let it ramp up to full speed or work with power stepping properly... and I'd need a new heat sink.

The real reason they don't bother keeping the same slots is b/c features change and most people keep their computers for 7+ years now anyway. I have 2 that are over 10 years old and still play Netflix and Youtube streaming vids just fine -- even some 1080p h.265 videos without a hiccup (though would play more if I had a decent video card so they'd use the vid card instead of the cpu for h.265) They're my backup and testing machines as I've moved on to gaming laptops... current one is 4 years old & I am only now considering buying a gaming PC -- to replace the laptop for gaming purposes (I want 3 monitors and streaming/video capture), but the gaming laptop will still be used for all sorts of multimedia and gaming.

But, back to the topic, what's really a reasonable time frame to keep the same slot? I'd say only so long as it's practical -- which would mean for every new cpu feature that required a change to the motherboard to enable, get a new slot.

The great part of this is that the OLD motherboards and CPUs will get a price reduction as vendors try to clear their inventory. I'll be on the lookout for great deals! Still... I'll probably get a Ryzen7 or Threadripper... b/c maybe by Christmas the prices will be more sane and will be even better price/performance compared to Intel.

Comment Re:wrong direction (Score 2) 159

I'm waiting to see how this all plays out before I make any judgments, and I'm curious how devices are going to identify and select the proper use for the same USB cable. For instance, I'm used to having USB for I/O and HDMI for one-way A/V. If I connect 2 devices that both previously had HDMI out ports AND HDMI in ports (for video capture) as well as USB ports for I/O, how will they know what I want them to do if there's a single port on both and I connect them together? Will they both think I want to open a file from the other device? Will they both try to cast video and audio to the other device or expect A/V back or are we relying on software to negotiate what gets cast to what?

Will there be separate USB C ports for each use, (A/V in, A/V out, Data I/O) and if so, how will I be able to tell them apart on an unfamiliar device?

It seems separate ports would be wise -- one for power, one for A/V import, another for A/V export.... possibly another for data as that can set a device into a different mode when plugged in. I dunno. *shrugs*

I'm glad that I might be able to cut down my cable collection, but I'm not sure yet how we're going to use the same shape port and same type cable for so many things -- especially combining typically one-directional A/V communications with standard bi-directional USB communications between devices.

Comment Re:I dread Jan 1, 2021 (Score 2) 154

Will there really, though? By then, just about every Windows OS except Windows 10 will be End of Life, and the majority of people browse the web with Chrome which has flash built-in. By then, I suspect Firefox will mostly be gone and most will be on either Chrome or Edge -- both with built-in flash... which they'll simply disable permanently. Neither Android nor iOS support flash directly, and most browsers already have warnings for it and have content disabled by default -- with plans to remove the functionality altogether probably before then.

It's the broken websites that I worry for -- like my stupid Charter Spectrum streaming TV website that requires both flash and silverlight of all things. But... they'll get the message rather quickly when it all stops working at once.

I just really don't see people going back to Internet Explorer compatibility mode to get flash to work properly... or switching to Pale Moon or some other browser that hasn't ditched flash before then.

Comment Re:Surprise: some medicines DO expire. (Score 1) 316

Yes. Antibiotics often should be kept in the refrigerator to prolong their effectiveness. Same for any medication in liquid form.

The article is slim on details and admits many are "almost as effective" as when first made. Well... almost isn't necessarily good enough since medications depend on concentration. What exactly is "almost?" 85%? 90%? Taking the wrong dose thinking it's the full dose can make things worse -- especially for antibiotics or when figuring out drug interactions.

Lots of doctors stockpile old drugs (especially samples and returned pills) knowing they'll still work beyond their expiration date & give them to their poorer patients -- especially antivirals. The elderly often have stockpiles of their own from being given vague instructions like "take 1 to 3 per day as needed for up to x days/weeks until feeling better"

I imagine much of the waste is in the unused pills in elderly patients' medicine cabinets -- things never used and/or eventually discarded because there's no method to safely return and inspect surplus from patients to redistribute.

Comment Re:Sell! Sell! Sell! (Score 1) 116

I think he's saying that their willingness to go into debt to produce quality content is an indicator that they're confident in the long term results, and that the more often you see this negative cash flow, the better of an indicator (to a degree) it is of their confidence in their growth and future prosperity.

To use your factory analogy, the more factories they build with money from debt, the greater the indicator of their confidence in future success... and while they're building out, they're gaining more customers which add to those cash flows in the future.

Still, it's a risk -- though he says their debt to market cap is really low, so it's not as big of a risk as one might think.

As an actual MBA, I can tell you that negative cash flows is one of many indicators we look at, but blips for expenditures on investments generally aren't a bad thing. However, I have seen more than one very prosperous company over-extend expansion and collapse from bankruptcy because of their high debt level and negative cash flows. I mean perfectly great (usually small, fast-growing) companies that built too many locations, hired too many people, produced too much product all on debt... and then couldn't make the payments on the debt in a timely manner -- even though they had customers lined up. If they'd deployed slower with less use of debt, they'd have prospered. That doesn't seem to be the case with Netflix. Netflix is expanding globally, producing quality content, and is taking advantage of their low debt ratio to take on more debt to expand faster than they could have otherwise.

It's the smart thing to do, and once their strategy is factored into the valuations of the company, the negative cash flows won't cause any issues with the stock price unless the debt ratio gets too high.

I'm still a bit surprised a big player like HBO, Comcast, or Amazon hasn't tried to snap up Netflix. I doubt any regulatory agency under this presidency would stop them. Comcast got most of Hulu, HBO made HBO Go (and contracts to work through Hulu), and Amazon is kind of sitting on its streaming service as a bundle for Amazon Prime. Sooner or later, Netflix will be a big enough competitor to become an issue, and if they can't strangle it by raising licensing terms through studios, they'll have to try to acquire it. My bet is if/when Netflix has its own Game of Thrones - level programming (beyond Orange is the New Black or House of Cards fame), HBO will make an offer Netflix can't refuse.

Comment Re:What is the target for these? (Score 4, Informative) 114

They're also useful for video encoding, animation, multimedia production, simulation, and AI.

Have you ever tried to transcode MPEG2 video to x.265 or VP9 on a desktop PC? 2 hrs of VHS-quality video can turn into 10 hours of transcoding easily on a 4core/8thread PC. Transcoding 1080p or 4K from MPEG2 or MPEG4 to HEVC can take even longer. Lots of art school students use animation on their home laptops, plenty of people work with video encoding and online streaming at home, too.

Gaming is mostly a GPU-bound task, but these also have a lot of PCIe lanes to help with that, and lots of games are being compiled for multi-cpu now.

That's great if you can do everything you need with what you have. I'd say that's the case for most people. I know some who do everything they need at home on their cell phones and/or tablets, but other people have different use-cases.

Comment Re:What kind of Software Development Work on Lapto (Score 1) 141

My cousin owns his own software company that largely creates middleware solutions, and while I'm not sure what he has at home, he always has his laptop with him so he can work anywhere in nearly any environment. In the car, at a hotel, in an airplane, in a hospital waiting room, a coffee shop, etc.... He can take calls, open a project on his laptop and edit code and issue patches. He's often travelling.

There's really no other solution for someone who lives on-the-go so much.

Another friend is a programmer working for a large software company. He works almost exclusively on his Apple laptop in either OS X or Linux. I'm not sure what he's working on these days, though. He used to mostly work with systems integration and web page back-end scripting, but he's proficient in many areas and languages. System speed and compile time aren't always as important as other factors -- especially if one has more than one machine to work with or more than one project to work on simultaneously... and since the changes go to a development server anyway, there's usually no rush if a project is planned properly.

Comment Re:I use Edge for Netflix and nothing else (Score 1) 172

As an update, I fixed my Netflix App issue. Uninstalled, Re-installed... then noticed the app would still open, but remain minimized. It was trying to display on a monitor that didn't exist. I told the computer to display to 1 monitor only... and that didn't work. Then, I reversed the monitor display settings (monitor 1, monitor 2 to monitor 2, monitor 1 instead) , and the app suddenly appeared where I could move it to where I needed it... then I swapped the monitors back.

So... the app is stupid assuming secondary monitors will always be there and no option to display on the only monitor existing on the PC. My guess is that it suffers from the same issues many of the Win10 apps have trouble with -- understanding that it's not running on a tablet and that monitor connections can change and other applications want to be displayed as well. *shrugs*

Comment Re:Moore's Fork (Score 1) 95

I'm very interested in H.265 video capabilities in machines. My old Nexus 7 2013 model doesn't handle HEVC well at all, but newer ARM chips have H.265 decoding built-in. Same for Intel and AMD chips -- I have an old dual-core laptop that struggles to play HEVC (nearly 100% CPU usage, but it pulls it off assuming no background processes trip it up), yet newer laptops can play HEVC without much CPU usage at all with the new instruction set for it.

I've been eyeing ARM - based boards like the raspberry, orange, and banana pi boards and other manufacturers waiting for the right price point and RAM, HDMI, HEVC, and Ethernet specs to make a decent streaming box.

I also find myself toying around with virtualization building potential web servers for a future business endeavor, and I agree multi-core and virtualization extensions are also things to look for in my next major pc purchase. Encryption as well -- especially for portable devices. Should they be stolen, I don't want anyone snooping around to get into my bank account or social media accounts... or tax documents, etc.

I think once we finally hit as small as we can go with silicon, we'll open a new age of computing as we try out different nanotech, different compounds to replace silicon, new paradigms of computing methods... but especially in creating new extensions for specific uses... like we have with MMX, SSE, and H.264 H.265, etc. The x86_64 architecture is so general-purpose that I'm sure we can do better -- especially in streamlining specific purpose instructions for encoding/decoding media -- perhaps even some specific circuits just for AI machine-learning algorithms in the near future.

Comment Re:Chrome Plugin Saves Time (Score 1) 172

I tend to agree that 720p is fine for most uses. I watch Netflix on a Linux machine in 720p, but it has a 24" monitor. For the size and the distance from the screen, I really can't tell if the stream is 720 or 1080p on the 24" screen. But, my TV is 60", and I can usually tell the difference between 1080p and 720p, though not always. I've heard of the speed modifiers before, and while that's very interesting, I don't find myself needing to speed through shows. I watch them for leisure and often pause them while I do other things.

I imagine my next upgrade will be to 4K or beyond, and assuming broadband speeds and compression allow streams of that quality when I purchase a new TV, I wouldn't want to be relegated to 720p -- the difference between 4K and 720 is quite noticeable.

Comment Re:Question (Score 1) 172

Because I have a laptop with a really long HDMI cable connected to a 60" TV that I regularly use for gaming, multimedia streaming, and watching my cable TV streaming from without a cable box. (Spectrum TV's browser based streaming is actually a LOT better than their coax-based tv without a box, and it's faster switching channels and searching than the HDTV box) So, basically the laptop is already connected to the TV, so opening a browser to watch Netflix is trivial. I used to use the SmartTV's Netflix app, but I noticed the Edge browser's Netflix interface is easier to use, faster, and appears to be higher quality streaming.

I'm considering getting an Amazon Fire TV box or something similar... but, really I don't need to spend $40 to $100 for a device that doesn't do anything for me that my current setup doesn't.

Comment Re:I use Edge for Netflix and nothing else (Score 1) 172

Thanks for the tip... but, my issue is entirely different.

If I run the Netflix App at all (without even logging into the Netflix App), it will crash. Sometimes it will let me play one movie, then refuse to go back to the browse screen... and then freeze/lock up. I assume the app itself is corrupt and/or it's not playing well with video drivers.

It's the strangest thing as I have no issues with any other software on that laptop. I think I made some attempts at googling fixes for it, but didn't find anything helpful at the time... so, I just ignore the app and use Edge. I really don't care for Windows 10 apps anyway.

Comment Re:I use Edge for Netflix and nothing else (Score 2) 172

I tend to agree... but, it's their official reason.

I don't think Netflix really cares about piracy -- they dominate the online streaming market & they're about to surpass any cable company in terms of subscriptions in the USA alone (assuming they haven't already). Why would they care if anyone pirates Orange is the New Black when almost everyone has a subscription and can watch it for free (with paid subscription) whenever they like anyway. Watching a pirate version just means you aren't using Netflix's bandwidth when you watch if you're already a subscriber. (and Netflix is now allowing downloaded content to various devices as they know this is true.)

They have to pay lip service to piracy prevention for content creators, though -- and I'm sure the content creators are also dictating what platforms they can do what on. Edge uses a different security model than other Windows browsers, so I'm sure that's the real difference... for now.

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What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928