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Submission + - Under the Smogberry Trees: Kickstarter aims for Dr. Demento Documentary (

Mr Z writes: A favorite of geeks, nerds and quirky folk everywhere, Dr. Demento has been a fixture since 1975, bringing funny, demented music to us all. Dr. Demento both inspired and helped launch many artists, including such diverse talents as Weird Al Yankovic and Richard Cheese.

The group at Meep Morp Studio are working to put together a documentary about both the good Dr. himself as well as his alter ego, the globally respected musicologist and historian Barret Hansen.

The catch? They have a a Kickstarter here that still has 40% to go in the next 5 days. That's a pretty tight deadline. But, if even a small fraction of Slashdotters that have enjoyed Dr. Demento over the years pitch in a nice dinner's worth of dollars each, this documentary will get made.

Comment Re:22nm vs the rest of the industry (Score 1) 73

You can see the Antutu benchmark of the Clovertrail+ Atom chip that is in the process of being launched.
Clovertrail+ gets a benchmark score of 25k. To put this in perspective, Galaxy S3 gets a score of 16k, and a decent mid-level phone like the HTC One S gets a score of 10k, and Tegra3 in the HTC One X gets 14k.

Galaxy S4 might beat the Clovertrail+ (it is supposed to be 28k), but not by much. They are pretty much head to head, and in both cases, you are talking about the latest and greatest from Intel and ARM.


Caveat: This is quite obviously not a comprehensive review done by a website with a solid reputation like Anandtech. Nonetheless, it looks reasonable to me.

Comment Re:Missing Option (Score 1) 135

You either needed a PEB + Editor/Assembler (which I didn't have), or you could by the Mini Memory cartridge which comes with the Line-by-Line Assembler (which I did have) that left you 768 bytes free to program at location >7D00 (out of 4K total battery-backed memory)

You certainly could not, however, program assembly code on an unexpanded TI-99/4A. You needed at least the Mini Memory cartridge.

TI Extended BASIC didn't have PEEK and POKE in the same sense as other Microsoft BASICs. In other computers, you could literally read and write any location. TI Extended BASIC let you PEEK certain locations, but not really POKE anywhere.

The Mini-Memory did add a PEEKV and POKEV that let you manipulate VDP RAM, but again, that required the Mini Memory cartridge. (I don't know if E/A also provided anything like that; I didn't have E/A.) And if Mini Memory's plugged in, you don't get TI Extended BASIC.

Comment Re:Depends on the bitrate (Score 5, Informative) 749

In my humble opinion, this old hoary debate will always remain a debate for several reasons. As you right mentioned, the reproduction environment in most cases is woeful at best. Most speakers are not even full-range to begin with, their cabinets resonate, their drivers cannot often keep up in complex multi-layered music, their passive crossovers do a half-assed job in distributing the sound to the various drivers, and so on. Then, the amps are weak so they start bottoming out and start clipping when the speaker impedance and phase dips sharply in certain frequency bands. Then the electronics, especially the capacitors and power supply cannot keep up. Then the cables are not fat enough or are not shielded enough so they load up the power amp even more. Then the pre-amp adds its own coloration to the already feeble signal coming from the source. Then the DAC does its own thing and further colors or degrades the source signal even more. Then the source adds its own share of noise and jitter to the audio signal that screws up not just the signal quality (bad enough) but even the timing of the music.

On top of it, the room comes into play. The room adds its own coloration and effect that is often a far bigger factor that the audio system itself - boosting certain frequencies while muddying and deadening others, and even adding echoes, reflections, etc.

Then there is the human being at the end of the chain. I personally can't even listen above 16KHz, and I have average ears. I suspect many people are like me too, at either end of our audible spectrum. On top of it, we humans hear music very differently - while our audio range may be fairly similar (20hz to 20khz by popular definition), our sensitivity to *variations* in tone and timing varies drastically - many often have off the charts sensitivity to even slightly off-key music (I do) or slightly off-beat music (I do not at all).

All in all, a decent headphone setup is far far more revealing than a decent audio setup. At a thousand dollars, you can probably assemble a decent headphone, but an audio system will sound atrocious, unless you are willing to spend a whole lot more effort and research in second hand discrete gear OR are willing to do serious DIY.

Anyway - I also wanted to say one thing - the thing that gets neglected the most in all this is actually the quality of the source recording - or what people call "mastering".

Most people who say something like "SACDs sound far better than redbook CD" or "vinyl sounds far better than CD" are most likely saying this because a whole lot more care went into recording the SACD or vinyl compared to the cheaper mass market CD or mp3.

If I look back at all the albums I have purchased or listened to (in whatever format), the one thing that stands out to me personally is that I have found less than 10% of them to be "recorded with care". And I'm not even being picky! Across the board, I can say that recording quality sucks when it comes to rock (which is what I listen to most often) - and I mean all kinds of rock.

If Neil Young's initiative (and even his Pono device) and Dave Grohl's initiatives are successful in improving the audio quality of music in general, I strongly suspect it will be because recording quality will be done with greater care, not because they decided to use a fancier digital format or use higher number of bits and samples to store their music. While everything becomes a factor by the time the music reaches your ears (heck, by the time it is processed by your brain, you even have to factor in psychoacoustics and gear bias and the "burn-in" syndrome) - the recording quality in general needs to improve (except for the jazz and classical pieces that audiophiles love to love, and are hence recorded with care), and this improvement will arguably make the biggest difference in audio quality.

Comment Re:You're a contractor. Your "secrets" are yours (Score 2) 292

There are a lot of good points in this thread. It's worth noting that there's no direct replacement for experience. You bring N years of experience to the job, and the only thing that can bring you N years of experience is N years of doing the job. While you can teach some the broad lessons (and, I would say, teach them specifically in the context of this app; you're not a professor and you're not teaching a class), there's no replacement for experience.

When I was fresh out of college, I could write programs that did very interesting and useful things. Now it's *mumblety* years later, and I know for a fact I would write my programs far differently now, with generally much better outcomes in maintainability, scalability and flexibility. Much of that was learned through trial and error—ie. experience. That only comes with time and practice.

Comment Re:couldn't that be done with books, too? (Score 1) 126

I learned a ton on my own as a kid by reading random articles out of an encyclopedia, and some of those "How Things Work" series of books. I imagine kids in India could do so, too— except that they don't have access to such books. So it seems overall more a matter of access to knowledge, in any form, than of something new and magical about technology-based learning as a specific form.

I am a kid from India and did exactly the same things. I wasn't dirt poor or anything but I used to buy books for a couple of rupees (old books that were destined to be recycled). In India, people will pay you money for old newspapers and books that they will recycle later and many of them will sell these old books and magazines to others as a side business.

I used to buy tons of business magazines and stray volumes of encyclopaedia, mainly because I was bored and loved knowing anything about anything.

Children will figure out a way to learn if they want to. Access to information is sometimes the least of the problems, most often it is inspiring them with that sense of awe and wonder.


Spinning Black Hole's Edge Rotates At Nearly the Speed of Light 227

astroengine writes "Astronomers have directly measured the spin of a black hole for the first time by detecting the mind-bending relativistic effects that warp space-time at the very edge of its event horizon. By monitoring X-ray emissions from iron ions (iron atoms with some electrons missing) trapped in the black hole's accretion disk, the rapidly-rotating inner edge of the disk of hot material has provided direct information about how fast the black hole is spinning. Astronomers used NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) — that was launched into Earth orbit in June 2012 — and the European observatory XMM-Newton measured X-ray radiation as a tool to directly infer the spin of NGC 1365's black hole. 'What excites me is the fact that we are able to do this for the very massive black holes at the centers of galaxies but we can also make the same measurement for black holes in our galaxy ... black holes that resulted from the explosion of a star ... The fact we can extend this from billions of solar masses to 10 solar masses is pretty cool,' Fiona Harrison, professor of physics and astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., and principal investigator of the NuSTAR mission, told Discovery News."

Comment Re:Can't Go Backwards (Score 5, Insightful) 736

To put it another way, it is impossible to make an accurate progress bar because it is impossible to predict the future. That's all.

You can make assumptions, extrapolation, use past performance,etc but you are never going to get it accurate.

This is like getting pissed at your GPS because it told you you will reach in 22 mins when it actually took you 35.

It is either a dumbass expectation from the user or a dumbass design decision. You might have as well used an hourglass so the user could spend their time shaking it trying to get the sand to fall faster.

Comment Re:CMOS (Score 1) 126

Sure, very little current flows through the transistor's gate. But, the transistors themselves are imperfect switches, and so you get some current flowing from Vdd to Vss all the time anyway. For the products I tend to work on, around half or more of the power consumption comes from leakage, amazingly.

For the uninitiated: CMOS gates consist of a pair of complementary switches. One set connects Vdd (the positive voltage indicating a logic '1') to the output node, and the other set connects Vss or GND (the zero voltage indicating a logic '0') to the output node. The way CMOS works, there should only be one path from either Vdd or Vss to the output node. All other paths must be open.

The simplest example is an inverter. It has two switches. The switch from Vdd to output opens with the input is 1 and closes when the input is 0. The switch from Vss to output does the opposite: Closes when the input is 1 and opens when the input is 0.

CMOS burns power two main ways. The first and most obvious way is through switching, also called dynamic power. When the output goes to '1', the gate outputs a high voltage. This voltage then charges all of the gates connected to that output. Even if the gates don't leak, they still end up taking on a certain amount of charge due to their capacitance. The total charge taken on is V*C, where V is the voltage and C is the total capacitance of all the inputs this gate drives. Later, when the gate's output switches to 0, all that charge flows back out to ground. The more often you switch an output from 1 to 0, the more charge you ratchet from Vdd to Vss. Furthermore, while you're switching, there's often a very brief period when the two switches are both slightly closed. You can get some current racing directly from Vdd to Vss at this time.

The second, perhaps less obvious way CMOS burns power is through leakage. Modern transistors are far from perfect switches. When they're closed, they conduct, and when they're open they also conduct, just not as well. This leads to a phenomenon known as leakage. That is, even when the gates aren't switching, there's a constant current from Vdd to Vss, because the transistors haven't completely cut off the current flow. You can sometimes address this by lowering the input voltage or using transistors with different threshold voltages, but that trades off speed for leakage.

So, while the promise of CMOS is that no current flows when gates don't switch, the actuality is that tiny transistors in modern processes aren't as good at holding up to that ideal.

Comment Re:Black white or grey (Score 1) 242

How about some data? 3Q11 saw around 750K units world wide for plasma and LCD public displays according to this link., whereas the North American and Chinese LCD and plasma TV market for 3Q12 was closer to 54M units, according to this link from the same source.

And before you cry foul because I picked different years, please note I picked the same quarter, and the peak quarter for the year for both years. You can also look at the Y/Y growth and extrapolate the 2011 numbers from 2012. The Y/Y growth numbers were negative, meaning it fell slightly, and yet TVs are about 2 orders of magnitude larger than public displays.

So, yeah, I was off a bit. It's 2 orders of magnitude. Still, that drives a lot more economies of scale in the TV market.

That's the total market for public displays. Now what proportion of these public displays are actually appropriate for e-Ink? And how does that compare to consumer uses, such as e-readers for volume?

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