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Comment Re:bad engineering? (Score 1) 526

I don't think you understand the difference between peak and average volume.

I certainly understand peak and average.

A solution which limited you from pushing peak all the time would decrease the overall quality of the product.

It has a low-wattage speaker mismatched with a high-wattage driver circuit. The driver circuit overpowers and damages the speaker when you play a high-average-amplitude sound file at full volume.

It's like a flashlight with low and high settings, where the high setting sends 6 volts to a 3 volt lightbulb. It will be extra bright for maybe two seconds while it destroys the lightbulb. Obviously if your max power output is 6 volts then you need to pair it with a 6 volt bulb.


Comment Re: Why invest so much money in this... (Score 2) 78

Have you tried Google lately for a complex search?

I believe that the presence of the words "information extraction" and "information retrieval" in the summary means that the search engine should be able to answer questions of the type "which kings were assassinated less then two years after their coronation?" by going through the facts available on the web, extracting them, and figuring stuff out. For any given random question, it's unlikely that someone already has it answered on the web, but the facts are all there anyway.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 4, Informative) 359

I did highschool physics in Europe with SI units...But oh, the horrors whenever, we saw a page from an American physics book :)
More than half the book was about unit translation... it's convenient have kilograms, meters match up with the gravitational constant.

I studied physics in the US -- both at high school and university level -- and I can tell you that nobody actually does physics using US units. Typically an introductory course will include an early segment on converting to and from metric, but the students can generally forget all about it because the coursework will all be in SI units.

I've seen a couple old textbooks where the authors seemed to get a kick out of forcing people to convert back and forth (exercises would include mixed units), but I've never seen a book or a class in the last 20 years that did that beyond some initial work on making sure that the students know how to convert between units.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 359

Oh, I don't disagree that doing science or engineering with imperial units is a bad idea. In reality, though, even in the U.S. everyone in the sciences uses metric in that context. I studied physics in the US, and I couldn't tell you the conversions or even the names of all the imperial units -- we don't use them either.

Apparently there are some engineering fields that actually do commonly use imperial units -- which I think is totally strange, and ought to change.

Comment Re:how pathetic is it... (Score 1) 140

Phones usually have Bluetooth, so they can easily work with keyboards and mice. Also, modern TVs can receive video signal from phones, using wireless, so output is also served. When you have all this, you can carry your desktop around just like with a USB stick computer, only you don't have to carry around the stick computer AND the phone. (Also, the stick computers usually don't have a phone module, so the phone has the advantage of being able to push your backups onto the network in the background. No hassle involved.)

Comment Re:increasingly inaccurate acronyms (Score 1) 140

and since x86 was not made to act as an abstraction layer (vs. Java bytecode, CLR instructions and python opcodes) this is costly and slow.

Actually, x86 already *is* an abstraction layer - a lousy one, admittedly, but still, most current CPUs have to perform all sorts of moderately complex computation to massage the x86 stream into something that can be executed quickly. So QEMU and the like are massaging it into something else. There's little technical reason for the ARM version of WINE to be slow, beyond the actual computational performance of a single ARM core.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 4, Insightful) 359

SI is better, but ease of unit conversions is at best a minor advantage. You know when the last time I had to convert between centimeters and kilometers was? Probably when I was in school, learning about using metric. I don't convert between inches and miles either -- there's just no point in most people's lives.

In fact, the only units that I have to convert between regularly are time units, and metric doesn't help you there.

Comment Re:bad engineering? (Score 1) 526

If your doing the sort of "compromise engineering" that results in the product self-destructing, then part of your "compromise" is the legal obligation to pay the warranty cost of repairing/replacing/refunding that product when it does self-destruct.

And if you are trying to push high volumes out of your laptop speaker, you probably should be carrying external speakers.

If I set the volume to full and I'm not satisfied with the sound level I get, sure, I'll go get external speakers. But using the laptop at full volume should never result in permanent damage. It should never self destruct just because I play a music file that happens to contain clipping.


Comment Re:Of Course you can use VLC for this. (Score 1) 526

Dell paired a high wattage amplifier with a low wattage speaker, which any engineer knows will result in speaker damage.

Should is the key here. And technically they should, but then if they did could they offer laptops at $200 a pop?

Dell had several choices. They could have spent a few cents more on a bigger speaker and sold a same-volume-laptop for $200.50, or they could have saved a few cents on a smaller amplifier circuit and sold a slightly-less-loud-laptop for $199.50.

What they can't do is sell a defective product that self-destructs and refuse to honor the repair warranty.

In some ways Dell purchasers are getting what they paid for.

Baloney. They paid for a product that was advertized as having certain capabilities, in specific including a working sound system. Further more they purchased a product that came with both a legal implied warranty of fitness-for-purpose, as well as an express warranty.

What they were given was a product that unexpectedly self-destructs when you play some sound files.
(The only way the software is relevant here is that the software causes common sound files to resemble those uncommon sound files which trigger the self-destruct effect, making the hardware defect more commonly visible.)

The only way "Dell purchasers are getting what they paid for" is in some loony radical libertarian ideology where you call it "getting what you paid for" when someone sells a hair drier with low-and-high settings which unexpectedly melts whenever you use the high setting.


Comment Re:A "clipped" audio signal is still a valid signa (Score 1) 526

You're missing something important here.

Lets say a recording has volume numbers 01210.
Amplifying (doubling) that would give you 02420.
If the maximum hardware volume is 2 then the software clips it to 02220. (The 4 gets reduced to 2.)
The important point here is that a music file could have had 02220 in the first place!

Most music files won't have 02220 because it sounds like crap. But a music file can have 02220, and there do exist music files that have 02220.

So this has absolutely nothing to do with the software - the issue is that the Dell speakers get damaged if you play certain sound files! A sound system that damages itself when you play certain music files is clearly defective hardware. The only way that the software is involved is that it makes "common" music files look like those "rare" types of music files which trigger the hardware problem.


Comment Re:1.5% according to this month's LXF (Score 1) 545

Except that there's no requirement for programming to be a social activity (as is not the case with many other things). There are no "alpha geeks" in your room if you don't let them in, and there's no "misogynistic BS" if you decide to simply sit down, write something useful, and push it onto GitHub.

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