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Comment Re:All I know is... (Score 1) 72

My cassettes all migrated to CD's, and then from there to digital audio.

So extrapolating from that it seems the end game for all evolution is becoming beings of pure energy, DRM optional.

Not trying to do the "one up" thing here, but IMHO, the end game for evolution would be to become beings of pure information. Energy and matter are merely vehicles to store and transfer information content. We would probably get equally frustrated with the limitations of existing as energy beings as we currently do with the flaccid biological bags that we exist in.

And your DRM comment is indeed something to ponder on - the artificial copy protection mechanisms that we have slapped on top of our existence - not just at physical levels but even in our minds.

Comment Re:I am at awed at their low cost ... (Score 2) 73

PS. To my Indian friends, can you please share with us how you guys can keep the budget so low?

duh, they obviously outsourced the work to ind-uhh... that is a good question.

Heh, that was quite funny!

There's very little I know about ISRO. But there are a few things that work well in India (as a government run entity) and ISRO is definitely one of them. You have to understand that for several decades, Indian organzations like ISRO had to innovate and invent even basic engineering stuff largely in isolation. The homegrown Param supercomputer was also a repsonse to this - because most high technology items (even basic things like CPUs and interconnects) could not be imported as they were banned by the US.

As such, the frugality of organizations like ISRO is more of a byproduct of the severely constrained environment in which they grew up in. So they learnt to make do with what they had, learnt to develop workarounds and become really innovative. Plus, some early successes enabled ISRO to acquire pride of place even in the mind-numbingly inefficient and corrupt bureaucracy. Due to this, they were able to largely avoid a lot of red tape that is endemic to any Indian government organization. They were able to get reasonable amounts of funding and were also able to attract some reasonable levels of talent.

In terms of talent, the situation is still quite sad as most scientists who work in ISRO either do it because of a true calling or because of patriotism or both. They still know they get paid peanuts compared to their American or Chinese counterparts. It is a near miracle that organizations like ISRO survived and even thrived in the morass that is the Indian Administration Service - an ignoble legacy of the Brits, but something that was made a hundred times worse by the Indians themselves.

Comment Re:Cool (Score 1) 130

Why the needlessly stringent power draw? You can get passively cooled discrete GPUs or low-noise active cooling which would give you a major bump in performance. APUs won't be able to do 4K for a loooong time for anything but video.

You make a valid point - and I don't know *all* the options that exist.
It would actually be a very interesting exercise to do this kind of a comparison. Say, take some HTPC like constraints such as space and heat, identify the options available - both CPU+discrete graphics and CPU+GPU integrated, and compare the options using price and performance.

Back to your point, it is not just power draw - space and cooling are also factors. A reasonably strong integrated CPU+GPU system lets you build a cabinet that can be very slim - say, something that resembles a compact blue ray player.

I would also imagine that an integrated solution like this will allow better airflow.

Finally there's price. Undoubtedly discrete graphics will always have the performance crown. However, if you think of Moore's law, CPUs have already reached the point of diminishing returns in terms of size of individual cores or even number of cores in a chip. From now on, IMHO, Moore's law will be all about integrating as much of the motherboard as possible into a single chip or package. And GPU is the most obvious starting point.

To put it another way, in terms of price-performance-heat, discrete GPUs will not be able to compete with a highly integrated solution - over time. They will keep getting pushed into smaller and smaller niches. An integrated solution will generally be cheaper and cooler for equivalent performance. It wasn't a viable solution in many cases until now only because the performance was sub-par - but Kaveri is the first viable chip that gives you enough horsepower to play last gen games at full HD with reasonable frame rates. In two years, Kaveri will be at 2 teraflops - the same as a PS4.

Comment Re:Cool (Score 5, Insightful) 130

So if I buy an AMD CPU, I can play games with low frame-rates at low detail settings (yeah, I know it says 'medium', but when almost all games now go at least up to 'ultra', 'medium' is the new 'low').

Or I could just buy a better CPU and a decent graphics card and play them properly.

Yes, but could you do that in a compact HTPC cabinet (breadbox sized or smaller) and have your total system draw less than 100W or so?

I'm really excited by this news - because it allows traditional desktops to reinvent themselves.

Think Steam Machines, think HTPC that lets you do full HD and 4k in the future, think HTPC that also lets you do light-weight or mid-level gaming.
Think of a replacement to consoles - a computing device that gives you 90% of the convenience of a dedicated console, but gives you full freedom to download and play from the app store of your choice (Steam or anything else), gives you better control of your hardware, and lets you mix and match controllers (Steam Controller, keyboard and mouse, or something else that someone invents a year down the line).

I'm long on AMD for this reason. Maybe I'm a sucker. But there is a chance that desktops can find a place in your living room instead of your basement. And I'm quite excited about that.

Comment Re: WTF (Score 1) 377

Electricity is the relative flow of electrical charge so storing electricity is an absurd notion. You can store electrical charge however.

The cost of the plant works out to about 30k per home which leads to some very interesting ideas.

Every home could have footed the bill as incremental construction cost. Considering how much we pay for electricity, the initial cost would pay itself off in about 20 years which is actually not bad.

For this cost, every house could have fitted high efficiency solar panels - although I have no clue if it would be the same equivalent thing.

The govt should be investing in smart grids that encourage people to contribute to the grid efficiently, not subsidizing solar power plants.

Just some thoughts. I'm not an expert though.

Comment Re:4 years too old (Score 1) 81

No, but a shit ton of them died. Indian famines and starvations are on a large scale, well into the millions of people dead. Putting 2.2% of their GDP to prevent this, sounds like a wise investment.

A noble thought, and one that is bandied around by the ruling party as well (the Congress). The problem is the extent of corruption. Rajiv Gandhi, ironically the ruler of the same party, said that for every rupee spent on social welfare, only 10 paise (a tenth) reaches the poor.

That was a couple of decades ago, and arguably, corruption in India has increased 10 fold.

So the problem you state is very real. However, the solution (i.e. money spent on social welfare) is farcical.
Most of the money comes back to the senior members of the ruling party so it is in their self interest to put even more money in social welfare.

Comment Re:I think they plan to compete on the premium end (Score 1) 348

Please clarify 'premium'. Marketing bullshitters have made it totally meaningless.

I know little of the Neo Geo, but I vaguely recall it was expensive.

Agree that they'll probably last a while. Valve's been going strong for a while now, and if anyone can leverage the existing world of PC gaming to make a 'console', it's them. I wonder what the uptake rate will be like.

Marketing speak aside, I would expect
- a good Steam Machine (Steam Engine?) to play current gen games at 1080p with high details settings

- a mid level Steam Machine to either play current gen games at 720p or play them at 1080p with dialed down details
I would also expect a mid level machine to play last gen games reasonably well at 1080p

- an entry level Steam Machine to play last gen games at 720p with mid to high level details

I'm not much of a game freak (well, I was, but I have a baby now), but I would totally buy an entry level or even mid level machine that would run Steam on top of Linux, and would let me play Counter Strike and a bunch of other games fairly well. Especially if I can get the thing up and running in a minute or so, so I can realistically play a game in an half hour time window - those precious windows of time. Maybe I will spend less time on the pot reading my tablet.

Huge bonus points if I can run this as an audio server/player when I am not gaming - run Logitech Media Server and/or Foobar or provide some other mechanism to play high bitrate mp3s, FLACs, and WAVs (and do optical/coax out). I know most people will say HTPC instead of media server but I actually think Roku does a stellar job and I find myself streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix or Amazon Prime on Roku and that's sufficient for me. Don't really need terabytes of space and the whole HTPC thing. But I guess I might be a minority.

Actually, it would be really nice if Valve made this more like a Roku - an easy to use and navigate OS that would run Steam but would also let you play other apps (say, for audio and HTPC).

Comment Re:This actually looks really unusable (Score 5, Insightful) 317

If my experience with trackpad controls on phone games is anything to go by, I think it's a very bad idea.

where those phone games, "built around a new generation of super-precise haptic feedback, employing dual linear resonant actuators"?

no? then your experience is invalid.

honestly, i look at it this way. It might work. It might suck. either way, it's just a controller. i already have a system to use it with it. So, pending some horrible hands on reviews, i'll probably just pick one up and see for myself.

Thank you! For finally bringing some perspective into this conversation.

The trend nowadays seems to be to first trash and ridicule anything new or innovative that anyone does. Or better still, list out the 10 reasons why something like this should never have been built in the first place. Jeez man, maybe we should just send some people over to work in the patent office - maybe, we can harness all the negativity to solve the "stupid patent" problem.

I have no clue if this controller will really work well in real life or not. But we can definitely say

- This is indeed very innovative. For the first time, someone truly thought out of the box and redesigned a game controller from the ground up, instead of just adding more haptics. Well.. the Wii controller notwithstanding.

- Love the attempt at how they've translated the "keyboard WASD + mouse" way of navigation in an FPS to a controller. Might *just* work. More power to you, Valve!

- Sure, it will have a fairly steep learning curve and people will complain like hell, but hey, so does any other control mechanism.

- For me, the litmus test will be playing Counter Strike using these controllers. Or maybe I'm getting old, but it still remains the benchmark game for me as far as an FPS is concerned.

P.S. Isn't Steam Engine a better name than Steam Box?

Comment Re:Meh-be (Score 1) 151

The roomie I just moved in with was appalled when I discovered for her that her newly purchased notebook was actually a slower and worse-off computer than the laptop she was hoping to "upgrade" from. So we sent it back and now she has the credit and wants me to shop for her.

She kept mentioning the RT and liking it, but I warned her away and told her that tablets are still a developing technology, that it's in its awkward stages and next year she'll have something worth picking up. She said "okay, maybe next year it would be a good idea" but still seemed lost.

I'd like to say she has some good news when she gets home today, but the tablet isn't much better than the notebook. There's no removable media, not even a full-size SD slot?

I see these things as glorified palmtops. They're just slightly larger, but they fit the same niche -- something to pull out of your backpack or Euro-wallet at the airport or cafe and use within serious constraints on time and space. It's a useful gadget to complement a fully functioning PC at home, but IMHO it doesn't really qualify as a principal or "base" PC.

But oh, look: it's priced like a PC.

Scratching my head / not catching on.

Very interesting - the way you put it. If you read Anand and Brian's analysis of Baytrail / Silivermont performance, it pretty much lands up at half the CPU and a third of the GPU performance of a typical Core i5 that you would find in a slim notebook (Ultrabook). The crucial difference is of course that Baytrail consumes dramatically less power - about 2-3 watts (compared to 10-15 watts for a regular notebook CPU/GPU).

Reference: http://www.anandtech.com/show/7314/intel-baytrail-preview-intel-atom-z3770-tested/2

This power difference is crucial as it is low enough to be realistically used in a slate or iPad form factor. However, where it gets tricky is to determine if the performance tradeoff is worth it, especially if you are trying to do something meaningful - i.e. beyond simple surfing and answering emails.

There are two ways to look at this - firstly, Silvermont is about three times more powerful compared to the older Atom. So, if you are looking to replace an old Atom based Netbook, the answer is obvious - Silvermont will most certainly not suck in terms of netbook style usage, while still not heating up and keeping your family jewels safe. Personally, I think the best solution is a dual boot Silvermont that will boot Android and Windows 8.1 - it will let you use Android as a true tablet, and will let you use Windows 8.1 in a limited notebook way.

However, if you are looking at this as your primary computer replacement, I don't think Silvermont is going to cut it. You are better off with a Haswell. The dramatic power reduction in Haswell means that you can get a slim notebook that will still get you 8+ hours of battery life, almost rivaling an iPad. That is actually a game changer in itself if you think about it. This means that you can carry around a fairly lightweight and compact notebook with you and not bother lugging around chargers. In other words, you can carry it around like an iPad. Getting battery to last an entire work day or an entire school day is pretty cool! Something like the Macbook Air 13.

It would be super interesting if Intel came out with a version of Silvermont with beefier graphics (say, HD3000). I suspect that would be enough to support full HD meaningfully and to be a true viable notebook replacement.

Comment Re:at some point... (Score 3) 827

I don't get the part of the article, where the author is complaining about the spending on the Athletics??

I mean, the football programs like where I went to school, MORE than pay for themselves, they prop up all the other non-revenue generating sports.

It isn't like student tuition is going to college athletics, in fact from the schools I know. the athletics are subsidizing the rest of the school...

I grew up in the south, I'm talking about schools like U of AL, LSU, the schools in MS...etc.

Is that not the way it is in other school conferences?

I'm not actually a huge sports fan myself, but c'mon if you're going to bitch, at least get the fact right on who is spending who's money where.

I agree it is atrocious what colleges are doing today...but let's be fair about the money accusations.

That's because everyone has forgotten the basic reason for colleges and universities. Places where people can go and learn, get an education, and/or research. Instead it has become a circus for sports - with its attendant media coverage, fan following, controversies, and what not.

I absolutely respect the need for entertainment and sports. I love it myself. But why the heck are colleges even involved in this racket? And it IS a racket. A racket that media houses and "the suits" that own sport franchises and clubs do extremely well.

So while you say sports should not be brought up in this discussion because it pays for itself, I say that is precisely the problem. Colleges now fancy themselves to be big businesses, sport franchises, media houses, and what not. And it should not be this way. And it is the students and their families that pay the price - literally.

Heck, this whole notion of profit and loss should not even be the primary point of discussion when you talk about colleges and hospitals. I'm an ardent believe in free markets and capitalism, but damn, these two things are so massively screwed up. If any organization's duty (in a capitalistic setup) is to its stakeholders, then these idiots needs to realize that when it comes to colleges and hospitals, their primary stakeholders are the people who patronize their services. Not frickin sport fans and beer bars.

Sorry for the rant. I'm terrified to think how horrible the system is going to be when my kid grows up.

Comment Re:pen and paper (Score 2) 217

Ummm... how am I supposed to take notes if I skip the class alltogether?

Take someone else's?
How about the teacher's? Surely you realize he already has notes and could make copies of all he is going to write to all students. As a matter of fact, a lot of teachers do it, it's called duplicated notes.

You must've missed the part where I talked about writing my notes. See, it's not reading them that ingrains the information, but writing it down for myself. Otherwise, yea, fuck paying for class, I'd just buy the teacher's edition of the book.

That makes no sense. Whatsoever.

I'm sorry, there is nothing I can do if you can't understand simple English.

Says the guy who completely misinterpreted my plainly written post. Pot, kettle.

Word of advice, dude - try to actually understand what people say in their responses, before you get all butthurt and reactive. Not everyone who replies to your posts is taking a shot at you.

I would mod you up if I had points. I completely agree with you (and I'm not even sure why the previous commenter even got pissed!).

The purpose of taking notes is to distil what we are reading or listening or observing, and then noting it down on paper in a way that makes sense to us. The act itself has merit as lack of speed (and even laziness) forces us to quickly assimilate what we are hearing or seeing, and write it down as efficiently and quickly as we can so we don't fall behind in a lecture. More importantly, it forces us to think through the topic and formally defining it in our own terms.

I even argue that the best note taking happens when we are constrained by limited amounts of note paper. If I have only one page for an hour long lecture, I will really try hard to note down what I think are the important bits or the bits I would most likely forget.

The point really is not to compress the content from say, a hundred pages into one page - I really see the act of note taking as the act of learning itself.

Sure, I'm sure others have different and probably better ways of learning. However, this works for me and I haven't discovered a better way.

Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 175

I Welched on my bet and it led to a Mexican standoff with another guy who was an Indian giver. In the end we settled it with a game of Russian Roulette. It was chaos, a real Polish Parliament. In the end, the gun didn't go off and we all felt like we were Gypped and the Canadians were sorry about the whole mess even though they were not involved at all.

That whole post was Double-Dutch to me. As confusing as a game of Chinese whispers.

That's because the game being played by the big boys is like Chicago style politics. They give you the illusion of choice but in reality, it is a Kansas City Shuffle. You work hard, you work the system, you work the work, if you catch my drift, and you feel like you have a leg up on everyone else. You hear everyone laughing, you laugh along making fun of the other suckers, but the reality is that you are the one that was getting conned all this time.

Comment Re:Ok.... (Score 1) 142

I know you're just saying that to screw with pedants... but I hate you anyway.

If you're going to talk about pedantry, I don't understand the experiment to begin with. My concern is probably naive, but consider the fact that over a hundred detectable earthquakes occur every days, and thousands more occur that are too mild to detect.

Aren't earthquakes introducing massive errors in this experiement - considering how long it has been running?
If this concern is valid, they should have used a good vibration isolation mechanism, and I'm not sure if they did.

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What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite. -- Bertrand Russell, "Skeptical Essays", 1928