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Comment Digital Plastic Surgery (Score 3, Funny) 62

I'm waiting for inexpensive applications for home PCs where you can easily change your appearance, sort of like digital plastic surgery. Want to see what you'd look like with a nose job? How about as the other sex? I would assume something like that would be a heck of a lot more complex than mapping somebody face onto somebody else's head.

Comment Television is dying (Score 2) 839

This comic sums it up nicely.

Regardless of the method of transmission, television is dying, and the culprit is dumb content. People have more entertainment choices than ever before and television just can't keep up.

One major problem is that television content is dumbed down. Advertisers know that their commercials have less effect on intelligent people who are better at critical analysis, so they instead target kids, teens, seniors and the unwashed masses. Broadcast networks need content that will pull in those demographics. Make your content too complex and nuanced and you'll lose your targeted demographics. The result is a partnership between networks and advertisers that aim for the lowest common denominator sitting in front of the screen.

For a few decades, we had niche programming channels that offered something that wasn't stupid, but those channels have mostly been bought out by networks that have discovered that the LCD model is more profitable. Now those stations are content deserts, filled with little else besides reality shows about midgets, vagina clown cars, crabs and motorcycles. PBS is still around, but their programming is a niche within a niche. So we get this downward spiral where smart people are turned off by television, content gets dumber, more mainstream people are turned off by television, content gets dumber, and the IQ bar keeps falling.

The other major problem is that the way we receive content is dumb. Intelligent people have been buying gadgets for years that give us on-demand access to information. As the price has come down and those systems became more mainstream, everyday people got used to it as well. But television content mostly comes from unintelligent sources. On-demand IPTV might change that, but the content owners are fighting it. It is why streaming sites like Hulu and Netflix, as well as cable TV on-demand systems are hodge-podge patchworks of content.

I can't count the number of times that I have been frustrated because of the distribution methods of media. Netflix will have a series available for streaming, but then you hit one episode that is available only via disc rental. Hello, Bittorrent. Hulu will have content for streaming, but then you missed the cutoff for how long a new episode remains up. Hello, Bittorrent. I'll want to record two shows to my DVR that play the same time/night, but I only have one tuner card in my PVR. Know where I'm going by now?

The last problem is more of an issue limited to North America, but our OTA DTV system just doesn't play well with small, portable devices. We have too many channels that broadcast on VHF bands that require large antenna. The ATSC standard doesn't work well in areas bombarded with multipath interference or with moving devices (although it has gotten much better). Granted, the VSB standard was picked because it is more efficient over large areas, but it would be nice if any ATSC extensions would add OFDM as well. Large cities could have a low power UHF OFDM SFN (single frequency network) mesh for mobile handsets and apartment dwellers, while suburban and rural areas would still receive the main transmitter on the VHF-Hi VSB bands with their roof mounted aerials. Too bad that DTV for the VHF-Lo bands sucks and that the military occupies the area right above channel 13 on the VHF-Hi band.

Comment Re:let's see DRM, high cost of HDD's get in the wa (Score 1) 371

BD movies would fill a tb drive in 20-40 movies. That's bad, but not crippling.

You can easily double that capacity by recoding both the video and audio streams at lower bitrates.

For my own Blu-ray archival, I convert all of the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio tracks to AAC 5.1-channel 640kbps or 2-channel 224kbps using eac3to. Next, I convert all of the H.262, H.264 and VC1 video tracks to H.264 using a constant quality value of "16" and the "slower" encoder preset using x264. Lastly, I convert the graphical PGS subtitles to text SRT using SupRip. For a two hour 1080p movie, I average around 11GB.

There are a few dark grainy movies where I had to use a higher CRF value of 14 or 15, but the resulting file is still smaller than the original M2TS file.

Maybe in six or seven years when 6TB and 8TB drives are the norm and I've upgrade my 42" 1080p plasma, I'll go back and grab the original streams. Until then, I'm fine watching the recodes.

Comment Re:Analog vs digital, maybe (Score 3, Informative) 381

The video from a good quality DE-15 VGA cable of reasonable length is nearly indistinguishable from that of a lossless digital connection such as DVI when using sane resolutions. It is mainly when you are utilizing substandard cables, unusually long lengths or very high resolutions (the kind that workstation GPUs push out) that the cable becomes an impairment. KVMs are also major signal killers.

Digital panels also introduce benefits and drawbacks regarding analog inputs. Many flat panels operate with 60Hz refresh rates, so the bandwidth required to transmit the signal is lower than in the days of CRTs when you often had refresh rates in excess of 85Hz. That means that you can get away with a cheaper cable for the same resolutions. On the other hand, you're now reliant on the quality of the A/D converter in the flat panel monitor. You're also reliant on the quality of the monitor calibration software. I find that many monitors suck on the second task unless you use anything other than a background of alternating black and white pixels (like the default X background).

As for the article itself, they are correct in claiming that it is outright BS. I have to go all the back to my old S3 Trio64 discrete video card before I find something that can't drive my flat panel at its native 1680Ã--1050 resolution at 32bpp. Every discrete video card and integrated onboard chipset I've had in the past decade can do it. Heck, both the Geforce FX5500 and Radeon 8500 AGP cards I have for my old K6/500 system drive my HD plasma in its native 1080p.

Do they drive them well? Picture quality wise, they're no different than the latest Nv or AMD card around. However, they do tend to chug a bit. The Radeon 8500 is especially bad under Windows 7 since I'm using hacked Vista drivers since it isn't a DX9 card, which is a requirement for Win7 (I'm sure the K6 doesn't help). But that isn't what the picture at Dell's site is showing.

Comment Re:Where was FCC when Bing did? (Score 2) 139

Android-based smartphones from Verizon also use Bing as the default search provider. So it appears that Google will allow carriers to customize that aspect of the phone.

The main questions are: did Verizon have to put up a fight with Google over the change, or did Google not really care? Is there much interest from the carriers in changing the default search engine? Are any other carriers even making this change (like Chinese carriers using Baidu as opposed to western search engines)?

Comment Re:Common sense here... (Score 1) 140

Hotmail could go one step further. As opposed to just checking against a blacklist of common passwords, they could use a whitelist of acceptable password types. Must be 8 or more characters in length, must be mixed case and must contain one or more digits. Then you run that against the blacklist to weed out people picking "Passw0rd" or "t1nkerB3ll".

Comment Emulators are often better than the real thing (Score 1) 422

While I still own a Commodore 128 and an Amiga 3000, I find that I rarely boot up the original systems anymore.

It is a heck of a lot easier to simply use emulators. If you're trying to revisit an old arcade game, it is often better to get the game for MAME since ports to home computers were often subpar. If you're trying to revisit games specifically for the home, it is better to get whatever system was considered the best at the time. For the earlier years, that'd be an Amiga emulator like WinUAE. For anything post 1990, that'd be a PC emulator like DOSBox. C64 and Atari 8-bit emulators tie for stuff that is ancient.

Comment Re:Not a moment too soon! (Score 1) 315

I generally agree with your statement, but there are a few variables that can make it false. If you don't operate the computer for long periods of time or if your utility rates are low or nil, then the long-term power savings may not be worth it, especially if the legacy hardware was incredibly inexpensive or free.

Then you have the minority of people who like their computer to be a space heater. Any reduction in radiated heat from their PC will be countered by a ceramic space heater. A story a few years back noted how natural gas use in Canada was up because so many people switched to CFL and the central heating systems had to compensate.

Comment Re:Not a moment too soon! (Score 2) 315

You see this a bit more in the mainframe and server world. Releases see very long support cycles, often exceeding a decade. However, updates are usually limited to break/fix and security patches as opposed to feature enhancements. Much of that comes from the conservative nature of those environments. The premium pricing of product and support contracts reflects that environment.

For desktop and workstation markets, a decade is a long time. Microsoft is well within its rights to reallocate those resources from the XP team for other projects. Sure, many applications still work under Windows XP. But the same argument could be made about Windows 2K. Heck, the majority of my productivity applications run under NT4SP6 with a few tweaks. Doesn't mean that I should still be running NT4.

Having said that, I do have a double standard about being able to use old stuff. While I believe that people should be upgrading their software, I do believe that people should be able to keep their older hardware (within reason). Keeping that stuff out of landfills is a good thing, and many people with limited budgets are more than happy to have it.

I wish that Microsoft would have released a consumer version of its Windows 7 Thin Client Edition. Windows 7 Home Edition will work with something as old as a Pentium-II/266 or K6/266 (you need an ACPI compliant motherboard, a DirectX 9 video card and enough memory), but it chugs a bit (I wouldn't recommend anything less than 500MHz). Having a version where the compiler is tuned for older procs and smaller memory footprints, while having non-essential programs and services disabled would help. I assume they don't do it because people that cheap would refuse to pay for an OS, and I assume Microsoft wouldn't discount their OS enough for them to bite.

Comment Re:And so the downward spiral continues (Score 1) 67

An Android Java applet should be able to run on any processor that Android has been ported to, may it be ARM, x86-64 or any other proc series.

Having said that, Java does allows you to load an external library via the System.loadLibrary() method, which could be a native binary. There are several examples on the web of how to use this for Android applets.

I could see situations where you wanted to use native Advanced Vector Extension (AVX) ops in a program for an embedded x86-64 processor because those ops were either not supported or poorly supported by the native Java bytecode interpreter. You lose portability in exchange for performance or other efficiencies.

Comment Re:Well yeah (Score 4, Insightful) 118

It goes beyond this.

Television content today is increasingly targeting dumb viewers. Advertisers are aware that intelligent viewers are not swayed by their advertising. To keep impressionable viewers watching, you need the kind of dumb content that draws them in. As a result, intelligent content is being pushed to the few premium providers that forgo traditional advertising.

It is something of a downward spiral. Content is stupid. Methods to access much of that content are still stupid. Savvy viewers quickly become frustrated with the fragmented paywalls, delayed releases and other obstacles, so they either pirate the content they want or simply go without. Why wait several months for the next season of Big Love to be released for streaming on Netflix when you can grab an HD MP4 of it from the Usenet or a Torrent site the day after it airs?

And the mini-sat and cable companies don't help things with their fucked up channel packages. To watch the handful of shows I still like, I'd have to subscribe to over $70/mo worth of channels. 98% of the content shown is little more than visual tripe. Why bother?

When the Boomers start dying off, traditional television as we know it will probably die with them. Maybe then we'll see a Renaissance in the television world. Until then, the people who came up with Retarded Guido TV, My Vagina is a Clown Car, Laugh at the Midgets Show and Lifestyles of Retarded Alaskan Politicians can all DIAF. So can the shitheads who watch it, too.

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