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Comment Re:Thank god we have Ted Cruz (Score 1) 255

"Environmental issues" being the code word for pork. Specifically, most of the money from the sale of helium not going to the National Park Service is going to fund a continuation of the Secure Rural Schools Act. The SRSA itself is essentially a hand-out program for dying, rural counties that ran into budget problems after logging and other natural resource extraction activities were significantly scaled back, which had left those counties with no other significant economic activity to tax for income (and the voters, already hurting, always shoot down income/property tax hikes).

This is one of the bigs reason for why Congress has been raiding the helium reserve, despite the fact that they've cratered prices in the process, as helium is seen as one of the few natural resources and/or assets under exclusive Federal control that can be quickly sold off to raise much needed revenue. Which doesn't really solve the issue - we'll run out of helium eventually - but it at least kicks the can down the way for a while longer.

Comment Re:Nintendo's taking a lot of flak for this... (Score 1) 156


The 3D screen, while being a fun gimmick, is expensive to produce. At the same time it imposes a heavy hit to battery life due to both the energy costs of running the parallax barrier and the energy costs of the more powerful backlight needed to send enough light through that barrier. That's a big reason the original 3DS, despite its relatively puny SoC, only gets 3-5 hours on a single charge (typically closer to the former). So producing a model without the 3D screen, along with solving their unsafe-for-children problem, scratches an itch in the market for a version of the console without the 3D screen and its drawbacks.

The issue however is as you note: the rest of the design. I for one was hoping for a 3DS sans the 3D screen and that's it; maintain the size and the clamshell, just ditch the 3D screen. Instead we have something that looks like the bastard son of a tablet and a 3DS. Given the market Nintendo is going for (the under 7 crowd) this may make all the sense in the world for as far as I know; Nintendo does do their research before going ahead with their spacier ideas. But I'll freely admit it's not the 2DS I was wanting.

Comment Re:Call me old fashion (Score 1) 156

Modern SSDs so a lot of compression and de-duplication to reduce the amount of data they write.

That is only true for SandForce based drives as the tech behind it is LSI's "secret sauce". Samsung, Marvell, and Toshiba do not do any kind of compression or dedupe; they write out on a 1:1 basis.

The latter group could probably create their own compression and dedupe tech if they really desired to, but it's a performance tradeoff rather than something that has clear and consistent gains. SandForce performance is more bursty than 1:1 writing, since the content matters.

Comment Re:seems the Mac premium is disappearing (Score 4, Insightful) 224

For the base model. Just don't select any upgrades. Especially don't select RAM upgrades. Apple charges $100 to upgrade from 4GB to 8GB of RAM... so effectively $100 for 4GB. You can get 8GB of brand name (Corsair, G.Skill, Crucial...) laptop ram at RETAIL for less than $70.

Note that the Airs have their DDR3L memory soldered directly onto the motherboard to save space. You can't buy aftermarket memory for those models, so this advice is out of date at best.

Comment Re:Why? (Score 1) 300

The answer to both questions is the same: because subscription revenue alone no longer covers the costs of content and distribution. Advertising is why XBL is $50/year for all of the services they provide instead of $200 for fewer services. Or to use a cable TV example, it's why every channel producing scripted content isn't $15/month like HBO.

Which is not to say it's a great outcome, but the public has shown time and time again that they'll accept advertising in exchange for staving off service cost increases. As MS has found out, all of that content that makes users flock to XBL (and hopefully flock to XB1) is expensive.

Comment Keyword: Beta Driver (Score 5, Informative) 251

The submitter is reading too much into this. The drivers linked are beta drivers - this is not the first time AMD hasn't published an XP version of a beta driver, due to the relatively low number of XP users on 5000/6000/7000 series video cards (all of which are post-Win7). XP is supported by the current WHQL certified driver (13.4) and I expect the next certified driver will support XP, too. If and when AMD does drop XP support they'll announce it a couple of versions ahead of time, just as they did for Win9x and Win2K.

Comment Will make them angry? (Score 4, Interesting) 403

Undoubtedly it will make the some people angry.

But for anyone that does Windows graphics development and knows something about the underlying system, it's not a big deal. We've known that adding some of these features to Direct3D would require making some changes to the underlying display driver stack (WDDM), which is why D3D 11.2 requires WDDM 1.3 drivers, and WDDM 1.3 requires Windows 8.1. Unless of course you want Microsoft backporting a new version of the display driver stack and breaking your old OSes...

TL;DR: D3D 11.2 requiring Win8.1 can't be helped

Comment Re:Resolution (Score 2, Informative) 397

That would be with XP style scaling. On WinVista and later that mode can only be used with scaling levels less than or equal to 125%. After 125% you get Vista style scaling, which depending on how well behaved an application is will result in one of two things.

If the application is flagged as being DPI scaling aware (Office, web browsers, etc) then the application will take care of scaling on its own, and hopefully render a suitably large image natively. If an application isn't flagged as being DPI scaling aware, then Vista reverts to "fractional scaling", where it simply does a bilinear upscale of the application window, resulting in a blurry, god-awful mess where nothing was rendered natively.

Apple does something similar here, but their innovation was that instead of resorting to fractional scaling on non-aware applications they do integer scaling, which is far cleaner in practice. Furthermore all of Apple's drawing APIs were retina aware, so applications that weren't fully retina aware themselves could still have their text drawn natively, whereas Vista would always have to upscale the resulting Window.

The worst case scenario then for Mac OS X (a non-aware application not using Apple's drawing APIs) is that at the default 2x setting (backing scale factor 2.0) every element will simply be scaled up by a factor of 4:1; every 1 pixel now occupies 4 pixels. This means that there aren't any benefits gained from using the retina display, but using integer scaling means that this doesn't introduce any fractional interpolation artifacts that hurt the text quality, since every original text pixel maps cleanly to 4 display pixels.

Right now the expectation is that Microsoft will be introducing something similar in Win8.1. There's only so much they can do without breaking backwards compatibility, but if they follow Apple's "render big then scale down" philosophy rather than Vista's "render small and scale up" philosophy, then results should be much cleaner.

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