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Comment Re:Huffman alternative (Score 4, Informative) 135

This isn't about restoring a JPEG file back into its original RAW format. The information lost from converting RAW to JPEG is gone. There is no way to get that back.

This is about storing JPEG files more efficiently. DropBox is in the business of providing cloud storage, and it is in their best interest to keep their costs as low as possible. The more they can compress data for their customers, the more efficiently they use their infrastructure. Some files such as text documents are easy to compress. Some files such as JPEG files are difficult to compress, especially with lossless algorithms.

For DropBox, this allows them to store the LEP representation of a JPEG file instead of the actual JPEG file. This saves them approximately 22% of their storage needs. They can then decompress it on the fly whenever a user tries to read the original JPEG file, essentially trading savings in storage costs for a bit of extra CPU demand. As long as the compression is lossless and the user sees acceptable performance, there is no user impact.

Depending on the cost of extra CPU cycles vs. the cost of reduced storage, and the relative mix of JPEG files vs. other data files, this could save DropBox quite a bit of money.

Comment Re:Getting away with it? (Score 1) 410

Yes, they do.

I bought a used XBox 360 that unbeknownst to me had been repaired by the previous owner (they did some kind of RROD fix involving washers instead of the X-Brace that holds the heat sink in).

After a few months, it eventually developed the RROD, so I sent it to Microsoft for repair. Prior to sending it to Microsoft, I could play a game for a couple of minutes before the console died and gave me the RRoD.

After they received it, they quickly flagged my work order as an exception for hardware tampering. I was surprised to learn of this, since the seal was intact. Microsoft then sent it back to me, except that now it wasn't even bootable. When I turned it on, the lights would alternate between red and green (half red, half green). The screen showed an E49 error. Basically, it was bricked for being modified.

I don't know what happened while Microsoft had it, but I'm figuring it was one of the following.
* The only tampering done to my box was the RRoD repair. Nevertheless, Microsoft plays it safe by nuking any boxes where they detect tampering, as it's possible the DRM has been defeated using an undiscovered new method. Maybe their policy is to nuke boxes whenever they detect tampering?
* Possibly my XBox actually had been modded to play pirated games. Somehow it survived several console updates without a console ban, but maybe that was coming eventually. Microsoft nuked it.

In any case, when I explained the situation to them, that I had sent a semi-working XBox 360 to them and got a dead one back, they politely told me to pound sand.

Comment Re:Not doomed (Score 2) 159

This would be much simpler than using a GeoIP database and trying to play whack-a-mole with VPN providers. I'd be surprised if Netflix hasn't already considered this and decided against it. Usually if a company is not using a technically obvious and simple solution, it is because there is a business reason in the way.

It's possible that content providers want the content controlled by viewing location, rather than the subscriber's billing address. Today, if you are a US subscriber and you visit Canada, Netflix will only show you its Canadian content while you're traveling. Similarly, if your DSL modem's IP address changes and the new one is incorrectly listed as being in the UK, you will see content from the UK instead of the US (ask me how I know this! :) )

If your account were tied to your billing address, it would be very easy to swap your login with friends in other countries to get around the content locks. To prevent this, Netflix would have to make your account work only in your home country, making it impossible to travel with Netflix. That becomes a customer satisfaction issue.

In any case, I don't think Netflix believes there's a foolproof way to prevent content from being viewed outside of its authorized regions, because anybody who understands the problem knows it's impossible to be perfect. However, it's reasonable to make a good faith effort to try, as this is probably required by their licensing agreements. I think that's what Netflix is trying to do here.

Comment Re:Downloading the intertubes, Daily (Score 2) 264

You are speaking my language. We've got two teenagers at home that basically live off streaming video and game downloads. The general rule is that when they're awake and home, video is streaming.

On a typical school day, we use about 10 GB of bandwidth. Some days, we use much more -- 20 GB in one day isn't unusual. Our high score is about 35GB in one day.

As for how we use that bandwidth, kids do the darndest things.

Sometimes they'll turn on Netflix for background noise, while they download a game from Steam or XBox Live. To pass the time while that game is downloading, they'll start watching YouTube on their iPad.

Sometimes, they'll listen to a YouTube music video while they shower. Teenagers know nothing of quick showers.

Sometimes they'll watch a YouTube video at bedtime, then fall asleep with it playing. Thanks to YouTube's autoplay feature, they automatically stream YouTube all night. Netflix has something similar, but at least you can disable it on an account-wide basis. I haven't yet found a way to do this on YouTube (especially the XBox 360 or iPad apps).

Once in a while, I download a new Linux distro, VM appliance, or OS update, but compared to our streaming video usage, that's probably a rounding error.

In any case, I am not looking forward to the day Comcast rolls out bandwidth caps in our area. Whatever their cap is, we're going to blow it out of the water (unless we can change some habits!)

Comment Re:Strange terms? (Score 1) 226

This keeps them from closing the doors on Grooveshark, and then immediately starting some new service, say GrooveBarracuda (or selling their software, patents and IP to some other enterprise looking to do the same thing).

Since the record companies now own their IP, anybody who tries to resurrect Grooveshark using the old software would also face charges of patent infringement, trademark infringement, etc (unless they build everything from scratch, which would be a much larger investment).

For the record companies, this helps them avoid future legal battles, and lowers the threat of a similar service emerging.

For Grooveshark, maybe this gave them a better settlement (e.g. lower damages owed to the record labels).

Comment Re:Censorship? (Score 1) 420

They don't have to issue overt threats for this to be intimidation. It would be similar to them torching his car or leaving some other well-understood method of intimidation. Burning crosses come to mind.

In any case, whoever did this shown that they know where this person lives, and they're willing to break some laws / do property damage in order to silence him. By going after his "internet cable", they are clearly referencing his internet postings / blogging activity. Sure, this doe have the effect of censoring him (at least until the cable provider can fix it), but they're also sending a warning that next time, they might do something more severe.

What's extra nice is that by them not leaving a note, he has nothing to take to the police.

Comment Community reaction? (Score 1) 1374

"Then again, how do we know this wasn't purposely put out by an anti-gunner? I hate tossing conspiracy stuff out there, but there's no way to really know."

You're right. It could have been an anti-gun troll, or it could have actually been a pro-gun commenter. From one comment, we can't tell. You'd have to look at their other posts to get a better sense of their motives.

I'm more interested in the community reaction. Did they call him out for giving them a bad image or name? Or did they stay quiet... and if so, why?

Comment Re:evidence-based policy (Score 2) 1106

The IRS has a capital gains exemption for ordinary people selling their main / residential home (as opposed to investors in the business of flipping houses).

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc701.html

Basically, if you've lived in your home for at least two of the five years prior to the sale, you can claim a $250,000 capital gains exemption ($500,000 if you are married and file a joint return). In your example, the $100K capital gains would be tax free.

 

Comment Re:A few items (Score 1) 338

I remember there was a thick coax variant of ethernet too (I think called 10 base 5).

I've never used it, but I remember there were AUIs (attachment unit interface) with a vampire tap that would connect your station to the ethernet cable at specific points (where the standing wave from the carrier would be strongest). The points were marked with dots, and you had to be careful to cut the cable in the right places. The vampire tap would drill into the cable until it reached the inner conductor. Your workstation connected to the AUI tap by a DB-15 cable.

Kids these days have no idea what they're missing!

Comment Re:Fun prank of the week! (Score 1) 155

To be honest, I'm not sure how the LTE side works, or how closely it's integrated with the legacy CDMA2000 network (if at all)... if this means the carriers are implementing an EIR as part of their LTE rollouts, then yes, the newer LTE devices would be covered.

Older CDMA2000 subscribers wouldn't be covered (and right now, there are still millions of those, especially in areas where LTE is not yet available).

Comment Re:Fun prank of the week! (Score 1) 155

As long as the carrier knows the ESN / MEID of the CDMA phone is blacklisted, I assume they'd refuse to activate it.

The tricky part is sharing that blacklist across all carriers in some standard (so if a Verizon handset is marked as stolen, Sprint or another CDMA carrier would know not to activate it). With GSM, that shared database is already defined as a standard and widely implemented (though I'm not sure all GSM carriers actually use it).

Comment Re:Fun prank of the week! (Score 2) 155

WCDMA, and iDEN are basically variations of GSM. Traditional GSM phones run on a TDMA air interface... WCDMA is the use of a CDMA air interface to provide GSM service. It is *not* the same thing as CDMA2000, which is traditionally called "CDMA" here.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WCDMA#Deployment

The GSM standards define a database called the Equipment Identity Register (EIR), which is what carriers would use to blacklist stolen equipment. GSM network elements already know how to query an EIR to see if a handset is marked as stolen / etc.

CDMA2000 phones have something similar to an IMEI, called a MEID. Unfortunately, the standards used in CDMA2000 networks have no concept of an EIR, let alone any way of querying one. I have no idea how much is involved to retrofit CDMA2000 networks to support an EIR or what components need to be upgraded, but it would definitely include updates to standards, software changes across all equipment manufacturers, and then coordinated deployments across all carriers. It's technically feasible, but I don't see that happening quickly. Remember how long it took operators to adopt number portability in North America?

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