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Microsoft

MS Design Lets You Put Batteries In Any Way You Want 453

jangel writes "While its strategy for mobile devices might be a mess, Microsoft has announced something we'll all benefit from. The company's patented design for battery contacts will allow users of portable devices — digital cameras, flashlights, remote controls, toys, you name it — to insert their batteries in any direction. Compatible with AA and AAA cells, among others, the 'InstaLoad' technology does not require special electronics or circuitry, the company claims."

Comment Re:Uh, no (Score 1) 104

I can't believe I'm responding to such an obvious childish troll, but the hell with it, I'll bite this time :) With a car analogy no less!

I don't build my own cars. I don't have the tech, time, and general wherewithal to do so, especially to modern North American standards.

What I _DO_ do however, is learn how to use the features of the car and know how to drive it defensively, as opposed to thinking I should be able to snooze at the wheel.

That's the point the GP was making, making the whooshing sound as it passed you by.

Comment Re:Use your phone lines (Score 1) 438

No, no, and no.
Unless you _want_ to eventually toast your amp (or in rare cases, your entire house) you do not want to use long lengths of 20/22 ga. unsheilded pairs (that have been daisy-chained God knows how many times) for audio power. Nevermind the likely impedance mis-match. You _also_ do not want unbalanced line level signals going over unsheilded wire, lest you love hearing 60 Hz hum, AM/CB/HAM radio, and AC switching 'pops' over your music. And the pot idea may work well for line level, but definitely not on power signals.

Telephone cables work well for telephones/RS-422/etc... For any other uses they are generally garbage.
Just say no to 'recycled' phone lines.

Comment Re:Deliver the audio via FM-radio (Score 1) 438

I doubt any of these will auto-level like you suggest, but often the computer will do that anyways (see ReplayGain and the like). So set up your audio library to normalize to the same audio level.

As for finding a clear frequency, yeah, I never thought of that one ;P Rural areas should have no problems; high density metro areas might be... and your idea of odd spacing is a good one, but many 'digital' radio these days are designed to frequency step at 200kHz. Remember, YMMV :)

Comment Deliver the audio via FM-radio (Score 5, Interesting) 438

A serious solution that is neither expensive nor foolishly complex? Try connecting an FM-band microtransmitter to your server's audio output and using a remote control system via an HTTP-based system.

Any internet connected machine will control the audio programming, and any old FM-radio will do the trick of receiving the signal. Simple. Effective. _AND_ Wife-Friendly(TM) (at least, according to my wife ;)

Because of FM-modulation, this technique is not hi-fi. But a decent transmitter does an admirable job in retaining audio quality.

Comment Re: say exactly what my bosses wanted to hear (Score 1) 675

Which is _exactly_ the problem in Western business nowadays. That's the point. We're putting all of our eggs in the wrong baskets. We overvalue the wrong skills and traits. Folks who operate on par with whores and mobsters should not be the pillars of an economy.

Really. That's the whole fucking point! We value all the wrong things...

Comment Re:Erm.... Labs? (Score 1) 165

Heh. You see, for those who are forced to take certain subjects in their first year simply because it's a "requirement", the labs in these courses may very well seem trivial.

Sure, gravity works. But that's not the purpose of the lab. Rather, it's the analytical method that is being explored, as well as the strong links between the pure math and the physical world. And sure, those first year labs are rather dull. (My first uni chem lab was making a solution from Kool-aid. No joke.)

But even by 2nd/3rd year chem/physics courses, you were doing some neat stuff. Like using real radioisotopes and Geiger counters to measure the half-life (and hence determine the isotope itself) of an unknown element.

Think Timmy's chem set will include some radioactive Cesium?

But again, this is speaking from a "hard physical sciences" point of view. CS "labs" are really more "assigned time in your schedule to do assignments". Same for Math. Indeed, YMMV :)

Comment Re:Erm.... Labs? (Score 1) 165

While I agree with your point (I stayed at university long enough to get a PhD, so I'm naturally biased towards believing that it is beneficial), a university is not the only way of getting that kind of education. My stepfather is a good counterexample. He never went to university, but instead spent several years backpacking around the world (picking fruit and doing similar jobs to earn enough to make the next leg of the journey). He met all sorts of interesting people doing that, and read whatever was available wherever he was staying, so got a very broad education along the way.

Which kind of proves the original point: your father never attended a "real" uni per se, but he sure as hell didn't say home "discovering" the world at his couch via an internet connection. Indeed, his "university" was quite possibly one of the best for those who are best suited for it.

And while you weren't the one to mention it, but seeing as I'm posting here, being a student of the physical sciences myself (physics/chem) has shown me what REAL labs are like: the equipment required, the safety concerns that must be met, and the general stock of gear and chemicals.... "shipping a chemistry set"? That made me laugh....

Comment Re:5,000 pictures in your pocket (Score 1) 399

Ah! Therein lies part of the rub... a film photo was 'permanent'. Sure you could destroy the negative, etc. afterwards, but once taken the picture was forever.

Now you can 'delete' that history with a push of a button.

Mind you, both formats have their benefits, and the practicality of digital is hard to beat. But I propose this philosophical question:

If a picture is worth deleting, was it not worth the effort to snap in the first place? As a bit of an amateur photog myself (using both formats), if I make the effort to frame a shot then I will want a permanent copy of it.

Now, perhaps because digital is so convenient folks have taken to hitting the shutter release before thinking 'enough light? in focus? proper framing?' But that's another topic...

Communications

Cisco Demos Public Rooms For Telepresence 65

CWmike writes "Matt Hamblen reports that Cisco Systems Inc. has announced the first telepresence videoconferencing rooms available for public use. It demonstrated the technology simultaneously in four locations in India, the US and the UK Three of the four demonstration sites were retrofitted rooms in Taj Hotels in London, Bangalore, India and Boston. The luxury hotel chain will build the videoconferencing rooms for business and guest use at rates starting at $400 an hour in the Boston location. Cisco said prices will vary from $299 to $899 an hour at various locations globally, depending on the number of users. The rooms can accommodate from one to 18 people."

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