Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Comment Re:Audiophiles (Score 2) 468

Basing it on money is not a good guideline in any industry that basis most of it's product on marketing and exploiting urban myths.

You can assume for the purposes of the conversation that by "$150", I mean "the best speakers that can be obtained for $150". *Some* of the industry exists through marketing and other gimmicks, but exactly what proportion is up for debate. Again, engineer-geek style audiophiles like myself are generally not so easily manipulated.

I could build a 50 dollar speaker that will sound as good, if not better, the many 5000 dollar speaker.

[citation needed] Even if I were to stipulate that you could build a competitive speaker for $50 in parts (and I don't believe you, for the record), the speaker is still worth way more than that since a person would be paying for your time, expertise, and potentially any shipping or payment processing that was required. Furthermore, there is a raw cost of materials that makes pretty standard thresholds in pricing tiers. For instance, in order to minimize resonance, you have to have sufficient enclosure rigidity. This requires raw materials that will be a not-insignificant proportion of cost of the speaker, and in some cases (for larger speakers) set you back more than $50 alone (for a large quantity of decent quality MDF).

no. They are what people ignorant of the actual engineering say. They are also used because they are an 'opinion'

Seriously, this is just stupid. Just because a word is imprecise doesn't mean that it is used by ignorant people. Sometimes a certain amount of imprecision is desirable and expedient for the purposes of conversation. For instance, I am a software engineer. In some cases, we will look at a piece of software and claim that it is "buggy", or that the code is "messy", or that performance is "scalable". These are all very imprecise terms, but they are useful for providing a quite overview of the situation. More detail can always be used later (like the exact number of unresolved bugs, or the performance benefit from doubling the number of CPU cores), but for a quick overview, the imprecise terms does quite nicely. Likewise, though a term like "muddy" is imprecise, it has a widely understood meaning (described in my previous post) that is helpful when communicating with audiophiles or especially with audio engineers.

Spoken like someone who doesn't like his statements to be testable.

Don't take my sentence out of context. In many cases, engineer audiophiles will provide graphs to show a variety of things, especially frequency response. However, textually describing such things is a huge pain in the ass. Let's say you're listening to some new speakers, and you notice a gigantic hump in the frequency response (5dB in amplitude) starting around 250Hz and ending around 400Hz. (just 50Hz past the bass-midrange crossover). According to you, why the fuck can't we just call it "muddy"?

Comment Re:Audiophiles (Score 1) 468

Way to generalize. Audiophiles come in all breeds - for instance, I am an engineer/scientist audiophile. Don't lump us all together.

No, you can't hear a difference between this $5000 speaker and this $150 speaker.

Yes, frequently you can. It's ironic that you picked speakers as your example since they are one of the few pieces of audio gear that *will* make an appreciable difference, even to the layman, There is a law of diminishing returns, of course. Additionally, there comes a point at which the sound cannot be said to be "better" or "worse", but is merely "different". BTW, $150 is pretty cheap. Depending on the kind of speakers you're trying to buy, there will probably be a noticeable step between there and $500, let alone $5000.

It is worth noting that the above does not apply to amplifiers in my experience. Well built amps tend to have a pretty small variance, other than the amount of power that they can output or the features that they include (such as decoding for popular surround formats or multi-zone control).

No, these cables don't sound "warm".

Audiophiles of my type (engineer/scientist geek) do often dismiss the high-end cable market as hokum. This is not because there isn't a difference in the electrical characteristics of the cable (there is a difference). However, I am not aware of a legitimate double-blind study which shows an appreciable auditory difference created by cables. Most audiophiles of my type will provide the same (or similar) reasoning. That being said, there is a certain level of cable investment that I feel is justified. For instance, one can possibly use a coat-hanger as a short run speaker-cable without any noticeable difference. However, using that same hanger would probably yield problems if used as a low-level analog interconnect between some source (e.g. a computer) and an amplifier. Because the hanger isn't shielded and that signal is then amplified, the relatively small amounts of interference acting upon the hanger can become quite noticeable. This is especially problematic with long runs of analog video cables. In those cases, poor shielding *will* result in a noticeable degradation of video quality. Generally, I just buy my cables from Monoprice (cheap, consistent).

Regarding some of the colorful adjectives that you often see audiophiles using (e.g. "warm", "bright", "muddy", "tinny", "deep", "full"): they are often shorthand for a particular frequency characteristic. For instance, "muddy" usually refers to an excess of sound in a relatively unpleasant frequency range (mid-bass) between perhaps 150Hz and 300Hz. Describing each sound you hear with meticulous frequency ranges and amplitudes gets old pretty fast, so it's way easier to have a short hand. Some audiophiles go too far and try to use these adjectives creatively - this is not generally helpful, since a good descriptor should be understood by all. Haphazardly using the same BS terms one uses to describe an acting performance (e.g. "luminescent") doesn't help anybody. Audiophiles of my type don't do that. We use precise language to describe sound, equipment, music, and most everything else (it's a trait that's common among engineers and scientists who rely on precision).

So, in conclusion, those who make uninformed, inaccurate generalizations are the dumbest group of people ever. Yes, that includes you (I mean, did your name ever leave any doubt?).

Comment Re:Stallman and FOSS (Score 1) 1452

It's interesting that persons promoting freedom want to restrict what other people do.

It's almost as crazy as suggesting that constitutional democracies were more free than unlimited dictatorships.

While I disagree with just about all of the grandparent's post, his point on licenses may actually have merit. BSD style licenses are truly free. GPL is a very strange license, and in at least one sense, is actually restrictive. It makes fairly specific demands on how implementers and extenders of GPL technologies need to handle propogation of the technology (among other things). Yes, this is done with the intention of making the software free and open in perpetuity. However, it doesn't change the fact that GPL has many strings attached.

I'm an info-anarchist, so in my perfect world, everything would be automatically BSD licensed. However, given what I consider to be a flawed system of patents, copyrights, and other "intellectual property", GPL is a solution that uses rules and restrictions to explicitly enforce a level of software openness that I appreciate.

Comment Re:Great no-hype article on techdirt about Jobs (Score 1) 1452

And in many respects, Jobs was just another scam artist.

I agree with, and am impressed by Stallman's statement. However, I don't agree with yours [above]. The brilliance of Steve Jobs is that he gave people exactly what they wanted. The product simply can't be a scam when the public specifically asked for it. People apparently want a product that sacrifices freedom for conformity, beauty, and a modicum of security. This shouldn't be surprising. We've made the same sacrifice across the globe as our governments take away our freedoms in exchange for the flimsy promise that we won't be antagonized by the forces of communism, Islam, or the current boogieman de jour. Even according to Judeo-Christian tradition, the Israelites begged God for a king to rule them so they could be like all the other nations: and God granted their request.

You don't have to be a scam artist when you're king.

Comment Re:Dear Mr Stallman (Score 5, Insightful) 1452

Interesting indeed: I was, by contrast, quite proud of Stallman for this statement. I thought it was concise, respectful, yet completely honest. That takes a lot of guts, especially when public opinion is swinging a very different way. To give a point by point rundown Stallman does the following in this statement:
  • Acknowledge the tragedy of Jobs' death
  • Acknowledge the tragedy of death in general
  • Acknowledge the success of Jobs' in the marketplace
  • Acknowledge Jobs' as a pioneer in computing
  • States that Jobs created a proprietary ecosystem that ultimately deprived users of computing freedom

With which, other than the last, do you have a problem? And with the last point, do you honestly disagree? Or do you just think that people shouldn't speak honestly about the faults of a man after his death?

Comment Re:Legalise drug trade (Score 2) 627

I completely agree, but the real magic is that Mexico wouldn't have to dump more money into their policing if they legalize. Legal drug trade wouldn't generate any more violence than legal bubble gum trade. The people who are currently hanging bloggers up on bridges would simply starve to death alone after legalization. None of their skills adequately prepare them to conduct profitable legal business, and all of their connections and power are derived from their massive income. It's so ridiculous that these drugs are illegal in both the US and Mexico, and I can't figure out why first world countries have consistently failed to change their policy in their regard. In fact, I've always vaguely suspected that the drug cartels themselves are stuffing the ballots in favor of continued anti-drug legislation and politicians who support such legislation.

Comment Re:Prices and locked down? (Score 1) 154

Excellent, succinct assessment. I truly wish I had mod points for you. This needs to be said. In fact, because Luddites like the grandparent keep posting and getting modded up, this apparently needs to be said over and over again. A few additional points:
  • *Of course* there is a market for this. Why would people want to carry multiple tools around with them when one will do, especially when those tools share almost all the same components?
  • If you are playing games so much that you can't make a 911 call for your mom, maybe you should learn some self control and not play until your battery is dead every time.
  • You can get bigger (both in size and capacity) batteries for almost every interesting smartphone. I'm sure this will be no exception.
  • The current market has shown that games don't have to have "even halfway decent graphics" to be fun or popular. I'll bet strongly that Sony tries to push into the casual game market with this device.
  • Battery technology is getting better little by little. At some point, the size of phones will stabilize (if it hasn't already), and the improvement in battery technology will seen directly in our phone's uptime.
  • It is possible to play games on a phone while it is connected to power (though perhaps inadvisable since batteries are more likely to explode while charging).

Comment Re:Phone-y (Score 2, Insightful) 124

Why do people keep saying this? And why does it get modded up each time? Can we acknowledge that there are Luddites in the world and not have to broadcast their viewpoints every time?

Let me give a contrasting view - just about the only thing that I don't want my phone to be is a phone. I hate blocking, synchronous communication - it is wasteful and inappropriate for the large majority of communications that I do. Generally, if I want to engage in such communication, I will attempt to do so in person.

Additionally, I am excited about the prospect of Android actually getting decent games for a change. Even if this phone is a fake (as the vast majority of Slashdot patrons believe it to be), I think great things are ahead for Android gaming. Frankly, I would love an Android handset with a fold-out gamepad, and the fact that this [fake?] phone is getting press is an indication that I am not alone.

Seriously dude, buy a Nokia 3310 and stop bothering us with your anti-technology sentiments. This a site for geeks, and we by-and-large like powerful personal electronics - most of us has been wanting communicator badges, tricorders, and PADDs since we first saw Star Trek, so how much more would we like something that combines all of those?

Moreover, even if we didn't have a fascination with such things, why in the world would we want to carry around 5 separate devices? Do you really want to lug around a phone, a Gameboy, a cassette Walkman, and portable TV, and a PDA everywhere you go? Are you that guy who hates Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and DVD-ROM drives because "you like your computers to be computers" and "your TVs to be TVs"?

Comment Re:Who's technically literate at PC-Pro? (Score 1) 702

You posed three separate questions:

Do you think everyone should be able to build a computer form [sic] components

Most people who use computers should at least be vaguely familiar with the inside of theirs. They don't necessarily have to be able to build one from scratch, but they should at least be able to add some memory to it. In this same way, I think that anybody who owns a car ought to be able to change their oil or put on a spare tire, even if they inevitably get somebody else to do it. It's about understanding the tools you use everyday.

Do you think everyone should be able to ... write a simple program

Yes. At the very least, people should be able to create a simple web script. In many ways, it goes a long way to understanding what's actually happening when they use the web, and can often make them significantly more savvy, secure and successful on the web. Keep in mind that back in the day (the 80s), most computer users were at the very least familiar with the programming environments.

Do you think everyone should be able to ... debug a make files

No. The minutiae of refining programs or build processes is too esoteric. That would be analogous to me trying to fix odd wind resistance patters in my car. Debugging make files simply isn't essential to understanding the computer and why it runs.

It wouldn't take me long in looking at your life to find something you are not literate at. Being a Linux geek type, I'd look at cooking first

Of course, there are things about which I am not literate. However, I try to understand the tools and processes that I count on every day. Because of this, I maintain that people should know how to cook. I do. My engineer friends all do. In fact, some of the best cooks I know are engineers. As with cars and computers, people should feel free to end up not doing it (get married to somebody who likes it more, or just eat at restaurants). However, all people should understand the basics of cooking because we all eat.

Most people are good at the areas they need to be, and the areas that interest them.

Yes, but people need to be good at using the tools on which they rely everyday. If you go out looking for a home, it is insufficient to say "I'll leave the process to the experts" (assuming the home is a major expense for you, as it is for the overwhelming majority). Rather, you need to go out and make a budget (a good one). You need to research home prices, interest rates, financing options, escrow accounts, tax incentives (or lack thereof) and you might even need to talk to your boss and make sure that there isn't a large round of layoffs about to hit in 3 months. You simply have to know things, whether those things interest you or not.

For instance, I bought a house in the recent past. During the process, I researched everything so thoroughly that I could run all the numbers myself and didn't really need to rely on either my real estate agent or mortgage broker for any information whatsoever. Now, in the course of helping me get my house, they probably performed a lot of tasks that I was neither certified nor qualified nor capable to perform. However, when I finished, I thoroughly understood all the fundamentals of the process.

Comment Re:W00t (Score 5, Interesting) 302

Linux sound works perfectly for me now that Pulseaudio is stabilized.

It has certainly gotten better, but there are still plenty of issues with audio in Linux, at least out of the box. Some of them are driver related, some are still PA related, and some are related to poor default Alsa configurations. I can give several current (Ubuntu 10.04) examples of audio issues in Linux.

  • Some HDMI sinks tend to run at 48khz regardless of the source frequency (another poster here mentioned the 48khz madness). Moreover, Alsa doesn't seem to re-sample the audio properly by default in these cases, creating the chipmunk phenomenon. I'm fairly sure this is an Alsa-script fixable issue.
  • In certain situations, applications seem to lock the sound device causing all kinds of consternation. This shouldn't happen (software mixing ought to always kick in). This is most likely because those applications don't use Pulseaudio (which isn't yet appropriate for all tasks, and probably never will be). As with above, I'm sure this can be fixed with Alsa magic, but it shouldn't have to be
  • M-Audio 2496 internal audio card doesn't play well with Pulseaudio (to be fair, I last tried this with 9.10, never with 10.04). Apparently, it didn't have the kinds of Alsa controls that PA expected.
  • When plugging external speakers into my laptop (a TimelineX), the sound on the internal speakers would turn off, the but the external speakers would not get the sound. Eventually fixed by upgrading to 10.10 alpha.
  • As another poster mentioned, getting s/pdif to work properly is often non-trivial. Alsa is pretty good about offering raw access to the sound card controls, but it isn't always obvious what combination of control settings are compatible with digital audio out. In some cases, it is a single switch, but in other less fortunate cases, 3 or 4 controls need to be set properly before it will work. To make matters worse, there isn't a lot of documentation about what settings will work properly with a given audio interface. Usually, it's 15-20 minutes of forum reading before I can find some obscure reference to the information I need.

Comment Re:Gir's Analysis: Doom, Doom, Doom (Score 1) 298

Does it share anything with their desktop OS?

The Silverlight and .NET frameworks, for starters. Even if it didn't share anything with the desktop OS, there is likely still value in making people think it does.

At this point (especially on a phone), the Windows brand has negative value.

Certainly, the 'Windows Mobile' moniker on a phone is kind of like the 'Titanic' moniker for a boat or the 'Hindenburg' moniker for a dirigible. That being said, I don't think the 'Windows' brand as a whole has "negative value". It is the most widely deployed desktop OS in the world. As I said above, there is some utility in making people believe that it shares traits in common with the desktop OS. This might lead people to assume that, for instance, there will be strong integration with the Desktop (something most smartphone users appreciate). It might also lead people to assume that, as smartphones go, the device will have a shallower learning curve for those familiar with the Windows series of desktop OSes. As far as I can tell, this is false; but since when do marketing departments care about truth?

Comment Re:Gir's Analysis: Doom, Doom, Doom (Score 1) 298

Zune integration is 'killer' you say? That's going to do it, huh? Well, everybody who owns a Zune now has the option to integrate it. All five of them.

Hah, that reminds me of a quote from Chuck:

Chuck: "Morgan, hey, uh, buddy do we carry any Rush CDs in the store?"
Morgan: "No need, I got 'em all on my Zune"
Chuck: "You have a Zune?"
Morgan: "Are you kidding me? No, no, I'll grab my iPod"

Slashdot Top Deals

Ya'll hear about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and became a tangent ?

Working...