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Comment Re:Blackberry Enterprise (Score 1) 125

Blackberry Enterprise is one of those products that I really just have to scratch my head at. It has always seemed to me that encouraging users to treat as secure something which is easily lost, stolen, or damaged is a fundamentally flawed concept for a business model. Sure, there are users out there who have a genuine need for such a concept, but the problem that really needs to be addressed is user understanding of data security practices, not giving them technology that encourages continuing bad practices in ignorance.

Honestly, I've felt for a long time that Blackberry should have done a better job with their enterprise dominance - instead of doing this half assed job of trying to appeal to every market segment. A few years ago, almost all company issued phones were blackberries. Imagine if blackberry had focused on letting you do more with your blackberry - like teleconferencing, video conferencing, virtual workspaces, screensharing, collaboration etc. They had the software, the network, the hardware presence. Their competitors should always have been Cisco, Avaya, WebEx, Netmeeting, Sharepoint, gtalk, heck even Google hangout - *not* Apple and Samsung.

I see the same story with Intel and Microsoft. The amount of hubris these companies have shown - - just beggars the imagination. I mean, we're talking about common sense stuff, not some fancy "blue sky strategy" or whatever. I can understand that big behemoths like these can get blind-sided by other innovative products - stuff like the iPhone - but these companies have literally let it slide for not just a year or a couple of years, but for 5, 6, 7 years. It is ridiculous.

What is even more ridiculous is that the moment these guys come up with a big successful product, they stop innovating. It is all incremental feature creep from there on. I mean, look at even companies that are supposedly engineering driven as opposed to management driven. Look at yahoo messenger. They've been around for donkey's years, nailed chat, supported offline messages years ago when gtalk still doesn't, but just stopped innovating besides adding some silly emoticon crapware. I haven't used it in years, but I'm pretty sure that they still don't do video chat properly, especially video group chat. /rant

Comment Re:Yawn (Score 3, Insightful) 157

I think what's most important is now we have the mathematical models in place that allow us to simulate convincing sounds rather than "sample and include". For the creative types, this will save a ton of effort and money. It also has implications for games, e.g. with the given environment model, be able to produce convincing sounds in real-time rather than taking sound samples mixing them with reverb, attenuation, positioning, etc.

Yes, absolutely! I see it as analogous to vector graphics vs bitmapped graphics. Vector audio is THE holy grail of accurate sound reproduction.

If these guys can pull this off, it will be the literal (digital) equivalent of having your own live performance - every time! You will have software based models of various instruments that will play music for you by playing their respective instruments for you real-time. The possibilities of this are actually astounding. You would record or store music not as digital samples (lossy, lossless, notwithstanding) but in terms of *how* each instrument is played. You have now turned the problem on its head - you are constrained by the accuracy of your software/mathematical model of each instrument, and by how well you are able to control it to become more nuanced. At a hardware level, if you assume infinite processing power, the challenge would be to accurately play these software instruments. You could again take a completely different approach - you could for example have an array of speakers where each speaker is dedicated to playing a specific instrument, and all the speakers are fed separate audio signals.

Contrast this to the currently audio setup - which would be a 2.0 or 2.1 or 5.1 or 7.1 stereo/HT setup - where each speaker tries (and fails) to accurately reproduce the entire audible frequency spectrum, or you have a mish-mash setup where different speakers divvy up the frequency spectrum between themselves (think sub-woofer and satellite speakers) so they can do a marginally better half-assed job.

If you look at the entire chain in a traditional setup, you have the speaker driver's mechanicals, the speaker crossover electronics, the speaker wire, the power amp, the pre-amp, the DAC, the player, the source audio signal (mp3, flac, redbook CD etc.), the recording mike, and the recording room - all of these links in the chain distort the music in their own way.

What I mentioned above is only my interpretation of how this technique can be used -there are a huge number of other possibilities - software defined objects, such as in games, can now have their own (genuine) sound, and that will sound different depending on how you interact with them. You could also have virtual instruments, unconstrained by the laws of physics, define their own physics and their own unique sound. You could even program room acoustics and have the instruments play sounds as if it was being played in open space, a large hall, a studio, on a beach etc.


Comment Re:Equal rights (Score 1) 832

Even if this is discrimination, I'm also not clear that this is discrimination against fathers. It might well be discrimination against mothers. Fathers only have to spend eight weeks caring for the new baby. Mothers have to spend twelve.

After which you send it to the centralized child care facility, so the child is never a burden to either parent ever again?

I'm pretty sure both parents are on the hook for child care for as long as the child is a child. The issue is whether they're also on the hook for going to a job other than raising their child.

Comment Re:Equal rights (Score 1) 832

My high-tech employer only offers TWO weeks paid paternity leave. TWO. Not the generous eight that Yahoo! offers. That was probably considered progressive in the US in the 60s, but seems hopelessly behind the curve in high tech today. One of my coworkers took an extra two weeks out of his own vacation time to spend a total of four paid weeks with his newborn daughter.

I personally have 8 weeks of vacation time built up, because work keeps me busy enough that I never feel like I can take the time I'm entitled to off. I don't even feel like I can ask for the time off, and it's technically already mine. The culture works against it. We're a country of workaholics, and we're made to feel bad when we ask for a little space.

If we really wanted to do things "right" here in the US, I'd have to ensure I built up a big enough cushion that my wife and I could remain unemployed (and thus, unpaid) for a couple years. And then, hope I could find a job after 2 years out of high tech. Hmmm... yeah, seems unlikely. Or, at least, feels unlikely, even if perception doesn't match reality.

Ah, the American dream: To make enough money that you no longer have to work for a living. For the vast majority of us, it will always remain a dream.

Comment Re: Equal rights (Score 1) 832

Why it is that every time the moron politicians of the world reach for the cutting budget scissors they cut education, healthcare and social programs?

Hint: It's usually a rich politician whose family and friends wouldn't suffer the cuts directly. They sell it by painting the beneficiaries as slackers that are a drain on society, as opposed to the reality. These things solidify the very base of society.

Net result? An ever widening chasm between the haves and the have-nots. That chasm strains the very notion of society.

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."

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