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Comment Re:chromebook (Score 4, Interesting) 193

I'm going to have to second this. I've gotten my older family members PCs in the past and it's always turned into a major headache for me. Your best bet is one of two solutions:

1) Apple everything: Macintosh based computers, Ipad tablets, iphones (if they are cellular users), and apple TV streaming devices. While many rip on apple (including me. I was a mac fan in the apple 2/ mac 2 era, but got burned in the shift to OS X) once your completely in everything just works. If they need help applecare or the apple stores are there to assist or you can use something like Teamviewer to log in remotely.

2) Google everything: Chrometop based computers and Chromebook laptops, Android tablets and phones, and finally Nexus players for TV's and stereos. Much like the apple ecosystem Google equipment works well together. Maybe not as much at the local level, but once you tie them to your Google account everything is tied nicely through web services. Unlike PC (and even apple equipment) Chromebooks and Chrometops are immune to viruses as each time you hard boot they get a fresh OS from ROM. Use their existing PC to push their music and photos to Google Music and Photos.

As for the printer get a networked hard wired multi-function printer. I've found issues with WiFi printers including poor sleep states and difficulty getting them to resync to the WiFi after a power event. A hard wired printer is more reliable. By hard wiring it you make sure everything is in one location. Cable modem, WiFi router, and printer. Tie it all into the same surge protector and if anything goes wrong your mom and dad just need to know to turn off the surge strip for a minute then kick it back on.

As for your dad's 3tb drive I'm not sure what he would be storing on that. In the Apple ecosystem he could either just attach it as a external to what ever mac he chooses to use, link it to his router and use it as network attached storage, or plug it into a real NAS box like a synology. On the Google ecosystem you are limited to just external storage. You probably could push the files to google docs if he wants to pay for more storage (unless it's all photos and music then the basic account would probably do) and just hang on to the 3TB drive as an emergency backup.

Hope this helps. While windows is the primary OS, I'm finding older relatives who are less technical are better served by other technologies. Especially since these "Indian tech support scams" are becoming more commonplace. I've had to remind all of my relatives that "Microsoft will never call you". The ones who have Macs and Chromebooks usually just hang up because they already understand that Microsoft wouldn't provide support for their device.

Comment Engineers wrote it, but I call bull$#!7 (Score 1) 479

So having worked at a number of car companies I can estimate why they said it was the product of a couple of engineers. Manager to Engineer 1) "We need you to set up a software routine to make sure than our new TDI is compliant with emissions standards. Make sure you tie it to a CANBUS flag that we can modify in testing to show that the software is working." Manager to Engineer 2) "I need you to write a routine to modify the state of this CANBUS flag. If all four wheels are in motion we want it off. If only the front wheels are in motion we want it on." I love how it always boils down to an engineer or two and not a business decision.

Comment Re:Matirx KVM Switch (Score 2) 128

BenFranske is correct. You're looking for a matrix switch for the video. They are sized by the number of video inputs and outputs. You're probably looking for a 6x2 ( inputs( pc1 screen 1, pc1 screen2, pc2 screen1, pc2 screen1, laptop screen1, laptop screen2) x outputs (screen 1, screen2). Remember these devices will not use a keyboard shortcut to direct sources to outputs. You'll either need to use the remote or rig something up with an arduino as most of these devices accept RS-232 commands that are fairly simple.
Something like this would work

As for inputs such as keyboard and mouse that would be something different. I used a USB switch and a hub to create this solution, but now this type of gear exists.

I believe this would solve your issue. Your other choice would be to get two 4 port HDMI KVMs each hooked up to a monitor. You only need to hook a keyboard and mouse up to one (say screen 1's kvm). The issue here is you'll have to use the remote or buttons to trigger Screen2's KVM as you won't be able to use a keyboard shortcut where as you can on Screen1.

Hope this helps!

Submission + - Use your smartphone as a virtual reality controller. (

mutherhacker writes: A group from Osaka University in Japan and McMaster University in Canada have presented a method to control a virtual 3D object using a smartphone [video]. The method was primarily designed for presentations but also applies to virtual reality using a head mounted display, gaming or even quadrocopter control. There is an open paper online as well as a git repository for both the client and the server. The client smartphone communicates with the main computer over the network with TUIO for touch and Google protocol buffers for orientation sensor data.

Submission + - Can The Martian give NASA's #JourneyToMars a Hollywood bump? (

Flash Modin writes: NASA has poured considerable time and resources into Ridley Scott's The Martian — perhaps more than any other movie in history — going so far as to time a Mars human landing site selection workshop to coincide with the film. Jim Green, NASA's head of planetary sciences, was one of the consultants, with other astronomers fact checking every aspect of the set and script. The rockets, modules, and space suits were built — and 3-D printed — with heavy guidance from NASA. The filmmakers even hired Rudi Schmidt, former project manager of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express spacecraft, to test the experiments done in the movie, including turning water into rocket fuel — which works. And, on the eve of The Martian's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this weekend, some of those scientists believe that this obsessive adherence to science fact will be enough to make NASA's Journey to Mars real for Americans. The space agency needs a Hail Mary because, in truth, the real program is nowhere near ready for prime time.

Submission + - "The Alternative" Puts the Brakes on Bullets Fired From Police Sidearms (

Zothecula writes: Aiming for a leg or shooting a weapon from a criminal's hands may be an option for cops in the movies, but real police officers are trained to shoot for the center of mass, not necessarily to kill, but to stop – although the end result can often be one and the same. "The Alternative" is designed to give officers a less lethal option in the form of a clip-on "air bag" for semiautomatic pistols that reduces the velocity of a standard round to make it less lethal.

Submission + - 25 years ago, this meaning spawned WiFi

alphadogg writes: It was retail remodeling that spurred NCR, a venerable cash-register company, to find out how it could use newly opened frequencies to link registers and mainframes without wires. Its customers wanted to stop drilling new holes in their marble floors for cabling every time they changed a store layout. In 1985, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to leave large blocks of spectrum unlicensed and let vendors build any kind of network they wanted as long as they didn't keep anyone else from using the frequencies. NCR jumped at the chance to develop a wireless LAN, something that didn't exist at the time, according to Vic Hayes, a former engineer at the company who's been called the Father of Wi-Fi.

Comment The best option is: Forget it / Get a grant (Score 1) 508

I believe the best option out there currently would be a raspberry pi 2 (4 USB ports, faster processor, and still relatively inexpensive). It's easily serviced, stupidly simple to get set up, and finally easily unhooked and carried with the student. Any issues encountered can be resolved by re-flashing the SD card. Just make sure your students use a USB thumb drive for file storage. Unfortunately you are off in your cost estimate. You cannot assume that a monitor or television will be present in your student's home. Just the pi, mouse, keyboard, power supply, case, and SD card can run $70. A monitor can run $100 easily on average. Bulk USB thumb drives can be had for as little as $5.

Assuming a $170 cost at the US minimum wage of $7.25 you're looking at 23.44 hours to earn the money needed (3 days pay). That's an expense you cannot shift to your students because you want to get papers typed. Lets face it, this is your requirement. Knowledge transfer is just as applicable via hand writing as the typed word. As you stated internet access is a whole separate issue that you are not addressing.

In today's day and age $170 is really the bare minimum for what can be termed a PC. You can always keep an eye on Woot or Meh for tablets. Meh has a sale on a 9" android tablet for $33 + s&h. This would be without a physical keyboard though.

Your best bet here would be to round up to $200 per student, contact your local cable provider and find out the details on their low income internet program. Comcast has something like this in my area. Slow internet, but it is internet. Then apply for a grant to cover the expense.

Submission + - 3D Printed Supercar is Unveiled – 0-60 in 2.2 Seconds, 700 HP Motor, Comin (

ErnieKey writes: Divergent Microfactories is unveiling a revolutionary approach to car manufacturing, as evidenced by their supercar, the Blade. Using 3D printed aluminum 'nodes' in strategic manufacturing, they've created an automobile that weighs in at just 1,400 pounds, and can go from 0-60 MPH in only 2.2 seconds. DM will be producting 10,000 cars per year and also making technology available to any other companies interested.

Submission + - Is C++ The Right Tool? 8

ranton writes: I am about to start a personal project which I believe should be done in C/C++. The main reasons I have for this are the needs to manage memory usage and disk access at a very granular level and a desire to be cross-platform. Performance is also important but I am unlikely to spend enough time optimizing to be much faster than core libraries of higher level languages.

On the other hand, network access is also a critical part of the project and I am worried about the effort it takes to make cross platform code for both network and disk access. I have been working in the Java / C# world for the past decade and things like TCP/IP and SSL have just been done for me by core libraries. Do libraries like Boost or Asio do a good job of abstracting these aspects away? Or are there other options for doing granular memory and disk management with more high level languages that have better cross-platform library support? I am willing to brush up on my C/C++ skills if necessary but want to spend as much time as possible developing the unique and potentially innovative parts of my project. Thanks for any advice you can provide.

Submission + - Yes, androids do dream of electric sheep

hmckee writes: Thought this was a really interesting story from the Guardian: "Google sets up feedback loop in its image recognition neural network — which looks for patterns in pictures — creating hallucinatory images of animals, buildings and landscapes which veer from beautiful to terrifying"

Submission + - The rebirth of arcade racers - on Kickstarter (

An anonymous reader writes: While big budget racers like The Crew and Forza chase realism, in recent years we've also seen a return to the racers of old with checkpoints, a ticking countdown, little in the way of AI and banging chiptune soundtracks. As a new article points out though, they're not in the arcades any more though — they're on Kickstarter. The author tracks down the creators of three indie games that look to Daytona rather than Gran Turismo for inspiration, and find out why we're seeing a resurgence in power sliding.

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