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Comment popular in northern eu (Score 3, Insightful) 35

I think they just re-invented geo-caching, only with books.

(and PockemonGo itself is just virtual geo-caching, only leveraging Nintendo's brand recognition to bring it to the masses, Apple-style.)

in north-european countries, anonymous book exchanges seem quite popukar. there was a book-shelf in the middle of a small plaza near where i was living back in Germany. each day I passed in front of it, the contents seemed to change.

this Belgian teacher has mainly managed to make it popular with the kids by leveraging the PockemonGo craze. nice job!

Comment Multimode (Score 1) 385

Isn't OPUS mainly developed for speech applications in mind?

It was mainly developed for *internet* in mind.
(main key-points where extremely low latency, and possibility to deploy everywhere due to lack of patents).

1 of the (lower bandwidth) algorithm available to OPUS is more voice optimized.
OPUS can smoothly switch between available algorithms based on available bandwidth.
There are tuning parameters that can optimize more for human voice, or more generic sound.

At high bandwidth (>192kbps according to some ABXing done at Hydrogen audio) OPUS "sounds lossless" for complex music, etc. (not only human speach).
OPUS still caps at 20kHz sounds by filtering, so it's useless for dogs or bats (but perfectly enough for humans).

Meaning, it's not lossless either and behaves much like aptX.

The common point with aptX:
- extremely low latency

The differences are:
- OPUS is an open standard, aptX is proprietary and patented
(- OPUS also scales better at lower bitrate, it could be still perfectly usable for speech as a low bandwidth headset)

For lossless, there's FLAC.

Yup. In the "best of the world", upcoming Bluetooth 5.0 should mandate for a special mode where FLAC is used to compress most of the audio, but could optionnally degrade to lossy high bandwidth OPUS, whenever FLAC exceeds maximal allowed bandwidth. (just the way aptX works now, but with free and open standards).

Or an OPUS 2.0 could feature an extra "lossless" algorithm in its sleeve (with basically most of FLAC rolled in).

Comment Chatbot (Score 1) 84

But in theory you could combine with other indicators.
Group togher with all the other "Depression could be predicted based on your behaviour on XyZ social network" studies that have been mentioned here on /. lately.
Then you can have an even smaller cohort of "potentially depressed social netowrk users".

And you could target them for prevention.
Instead of displaying ads, you could display public service announcement (about services that exist to support depressed people, etc.)
You could actively contact them (either through real human operator, or even chatbot. Or maybe FB/Instagram/etc. could send a trigger to the phone's on board Siri/OkGoogle/Cortana/etc. assistant) - there are short series of question that can reliably assess depression and pin point those who should be encouraged to seek professional care.

Or, because the thing is happening in the US, you could data mine the shit out of this.
You could bombard the user with fuck-tons of ads for fluoxetine (Prozac (tm) ).
The health insurance company could take the opportunity to kick their client before they get to costly.
The boss can fire the employee before they get too unproductive, but right after they've lost any will to fight back.
Databases will get hacked/leaked/doxed in attempt to blackmail the people.
Violent religious extremist organisations could leverage leaked database to try to find potentially suicidal people to whom quickly to sell a flag right before the person acts so the organisation can acknowledge the suicide.
And the NSA can spy on all of the above, just because they can.

Comment Mozilla Firefox (Score 1) 38

Mozilla has their own password manager as part of their sync service.

And if you don't trust them, you can even sync using your own home server (I think I remember that you need WebDAV for that.)

And that one works *also* on Linux.

And in addition to a password manager, you should enable 2 factors on anything critical: Your banks, e-mail address that you use for password recovery, OAuth and OpenID providers that you use to log elsewehere (like Google or Facebook), etc.

Comment Solutions (Score 1) 385

This seems perfectly sensible to somebody making a media player, but for smartphones it means you have to come up with something else to do with your UI tones and notifications and whatnot (because you can't mix them into the mp3 stream without decoding and re-encoding, defeating the purpose of mp3 passthrough).

Or, the sound server/mixer in the phone could switch from MP3/AAC passthrough to mix-and-reecode whenever there are multiple streams, and switch back to passthrough once the music is the only remaining sound.

(As far as I know, pulse audio should be able to do it. It's already able to do with sample (only resampling and mixing audio if multiple channels, otherwise switching back to the music's sample rate if supported by the hardware), and is already used in several lesser known smartphone OS: as far back as the openmoko, and more recently in Palm/HP's webOS, and currently in Sailfish OS and Ubuntu Phone.
I suspect that Windows' sound mixing service should in theory be able to do it too...)

SBC was the first implemented because it's computationally trivial and royalty-free.

Speaking of which, FLAC and OPUS are royalty-free nowadays, and OPUS is even a IETF standard. Bluetooth should consider introducing them to Bluetooth...

I'm not sure it would have been practical to encode mp3 in real-time on a featurephone in 2004.

Trivially possible, but it would have required a MP3 *codec* core, instead of a purely MP3 decoding hardware core as done back then, which would have risen the cost of the SoC and thus of the feature phone. So nobody did it to stay competitive.

Anyway, the limiting factor of BT audio quality is the codec, not the radio. AptX is ~384Kbps for 16-bit stereo, and BT4.0 has a raw capacity on the order of 25Mpbs.

Correct me, if I'm wrong, but 25Mpbs figure is basically using AMP - Alternative MAC/PHY. Or in other words, using Bluetooth over a 802.11 transport (i.e.: over a Wifi transport).
That means the headset needs to have a more energy consuming "+HS" variant of bluetooth 3.0 that also features this "over Wifi" part.
(The same way that the low energy of Bluetooth 4.0 LE is bluetooth over WiBee)

This could mean shorter battery life on the wireless headsets.

Comment Batteries are expensive (Score 2) 173

It's not abnormal
The battery, not the motor, is the most expensive part in an electric car.

There are electric car makers who sell you only an empty car, and rent you the battery.
e.g.: Renault's Zoé
These cars are rather cheap.
(And in case of the Zoé, Renault have stated that:
- they DON'T do remote kills, even if they technically own the battery
- in fact they don't do any DRM on the battery
- you could in theory stop paying the battery, bring it back, and refit the car with something else (yup, they are open to the idea of 3rd party battery market that is eventually going to appear as e-cars get more popular) )
(Disclaimer: there are Zoé in pool of cars at the local car-sharing company that I often drive).

To over-simplify to the point of carricature :

In a gaz-powered car:
- The motor is a horribly complex high-precision mechanical piece with thousands of precise components, gearbox and transmission system, etc...
- The tank is basically a huge jerrycan, with a simple cap at one end to top up, and a glorified faucet at the other end to bring fuel into the car.
(Yup I'm over simplifying but you got the picture).

In an electical car:
- The motor is basically just a huge coil almost directly connected to the wheel (well, not quite. There's a fixed ratio gearbox), and that's about it. It just spins faster or slower depending on needs, no complex transmission in play.
- The energy storage is an awfully complex beast: complex (and explosive) chemistry in the battery that requires either custom parts or in Tesla's case a complex grid of thousands of simple common off-the-shelf 18650 elements, with a very complex battery manager to charge and top up the energy storage while keeping the longevity of the battery, and a high power circuit to convert the battery output into what high AC current is precisely needed at the time by the motor.

So yeah, take the energy storage out of the equation, and the rest of the electric car is cheap.

Or in a different perspective: adding 10% more energy to the storage is a complex task, that is going to cost a lot if you pay the battery upfront (like in Teslas)
It's not like extending the range 10% in a gaz powered car (where it's basically about increasing the the "glorified jerrycan" about ~10%)
It's more like extending the power or efficiency of a gaz powered car (where it would need an entirely new and better mottor, which is also going to cost a lot).

Comment What business ?! (Score 1) 76

I don't think you can call it patent trolling when Android is a direct competitor to a line of business they've continuously had for a couple of decades

Microsoft didn't as much had "competitors" and they didn't "had a business line for a couple of decades", as much as they've "continuously struggled, trying unsuccessfully to get a foot in a market that they don't even properly understand".

Nowadays, when Microsoft tries to do something out of their Windows 10 Phone, they've in practice lost to iOS and Android.
Back then, in the Windows Mobile era, Nokia's Symbian and Blackberry were the dominant platforms.
Back before, in the Windows CE era, Palm's PalmOS was the better platform.

They never actually owned the market.

And somebody who :
- is abusing their patent portfolio to get a share of the dominant in a marker that they can't conquest
- for something as trivial as exFAT (hey, it's just like fat, except with an allocation bitmap instead) or LFN (hey, lets invent filenames that are longer than 8.3, and call them something like VFAT)
- which is actually mandatory for some industry standard (SDXC is simply SDHC with mandatory exFAT. Other wise you can trivially plug a 256 GB SDXC card into a "up 32 GB only SDHC" reader as long as you either install a FUSE driver for exFAT or reformat the card into something that your OS can read - like UDF - but there is no physical difference between SDXC and SDHC (unlike the older plain SD))
that qualifies as a patent troll in my book.

Comment Depends on your referential (Score 1) 189

You're missing the fact that Apple does a really good job on some things, like interfaces.

I'm not missing it. I'm simply not considering them the best at doing efficient interface.
They are good at making them nice looking.
They are very good at making them skeumorphic so user don't seem lost to new functionality.
But they are not that good at UI in general. They usually need to dumb things down to an abyssimal level, just so to make things understandable to joe-6-pack. (which is enough to sell tons of shit, so why try harder ?)
As opposed to make an interface that can also be picked quite quickly by joe 6 pack, but don't stand in the way of more advanced users.

The iPhone didn't do as much as previous smartphones, but it was a lot easier to get it to do what it did.

Depends on your point of reference.

- Microsoft Windows CE/Mobile, whatever it was called back then had an absolute craptastic interface. So yeah, there's no way that Apple could NOT do better with iOS.

- PalmOS was already a much older interface for PDA (and smartphones, starting with some Handsrping Visors and later Palm Centro), that already had everything iPhone had on offer, except for multitouch scrooling/zooming (its touch screen wasn't *capacitive*, so no 2-finger gestures) and for virtual keyboard only as a 2ndary input method (main input method was "Graffiti": scribling special gestures. kind of simplified alphabet. keyboard was an alternative mode) (later centro model featured a physical keyboard, which was caried over to webOS devices py Palm/HP).

It did feature a main launch screen with apps, supported 3rd party apps, had standard tools for the era (calendar, address book, notes taking, etc.)

iOS looked no more than a rehash of what already existed on the better devices.

The smartphone market is completely dominated by the iPhone and Androids, and Google copied a lot of Apple UI for Android.

Except for some limited gestures introduced by Apple, both are quite similar to what was already available in PalmOS, or before that in Apple's own Newton, or before that on EPOC (symbian's grandpa). Or the first GNU/Linux attempts on PDA back then (Zaurus). etc.

In fact, Apple failed to innovate badly.

There are OS contemporary to iOS like Palm's own webOS, which at least tried to innovate and make multitasking easy to use (their stack of cards metaphor, with gestures).

Comment Huge difference (Score 1) 189

Market dominance snowballs in this kind of situations, as we regrettably know from the Windows story.

There's a key difference.
Android's source are available for anyone to use. (Only the Google-branded experience is protected).

And as a consequence of the above, it's possible to find solutions to run Android apps on other platforms too.
(Though it helps to have a Linux kernel, as Microsoft failed attemps at Android on Windows Phone (that morphed into WSL) has shown.
So Android apps on iOS might by a tiny bit more complicated than Android apps on Sailfish OS)

Comment Not exactly (Score 1) 189

The first iPhone wasn't even designed with possibility to run 3rd party Apps.
And though the kernel was multi-tasking, it wasn't doing multi-tasking with apps. More starting/stoping them as needed like PalmOS did decades before.

On the other hand, Android was an over inflated clone of the typical Java middleware found on most feature phones at the time which all had the possibility to install crappy 3rd party Java ME apps and games as a key feature.
Android just managed to :
- distanciate themself from the Java scene (both to avoid potential suits down the line, and to avoid the (justified) "crappy apps" reputation of JavaME)
- make the end product suck A LOT LESS than any of the Java ME crap.

(Yes I hate Java ME. I had a PalmOS PDA. You could *really* se the difference in quality of native PalmOS games and apps, and the average crap available on my PDA's IBM Java ME implementation).

Comment iOS : Nope, not the first. (Score 2) 189

The original iPhone in 2007 was the first true smartphone.

Nope, there was already a budding PDAs (personnal digital assistant) market going for years.

Since the 90s there has been things like Psion (running EPOC, grand father of Symbian)
Or later things like Palm (managing to reach success, born out of the massive flop of Apple's Newton).

Some (as early as Handsrping's also-running-PalmOS Visor - which eventually got bought by Palm and gave the Centro line) where also featuring phone functionnality.

(Though Psion could get modems or wifi Compact cards, I haven't heard of any of their digital assistant being usable as a phone.
The closest to it being Communicator by Nokia. Basically a Psion-like-ish clam-shell design, with a nokia phone bolted on the outside. You could use the phone to call, the PDA could see and use the phone like a modem, but both were separate devices sharing the same shell.
Handspring were really visionary with their Visor).

iPhone was simply Apple's finally successive attempt at doing the same, (after their previous fiasco with the Newton).
Their only advantage being simply the same as the iPod:
- nothing new, even a technological set-back (the capacitive "fingers only, no stylus needed" touch screen being the only novelty)
- huge logistics and production chains
- massive marketing campaign with deep pockets for budget
- and consequence of the previous one, managing to explain to everyone's grandma why they definitely need a pocket computer.
- and a huge fan base that is going to buy it, on the only ground there's an Apple logo on it, even before thinking if it's useful to them. (That helps spreading something new before it really catches on)

Comment Photoshop on the phone : Think further... (Score 1) 189

Photoshop? Are you sober? Can you see anyone... a.n.y.o.n.e. doing image editing on a phone?

On the phone screen? No. Nope nobody.

But using the phone once docked to a screen + mouse + keyboard setup ?
(Using anything like MHL's microUSB-to-HDMI and/or Display port over USB3 on the USB-C connector and/or plain normal bluetooth wireless for the input devices ?)
Sure, it's a possible use.

Or connecting the tablet to a keyboard?
(either dock-style keyboard, like asus transformer and microsoft sufrace, or simply USB OTG or bluetooth)
again it's possible.

Lite laptops connected to data servers are the way, with phones for all the convenience of phones.

And that lite laptop could as weel be a tablet docked to a keyboard or a phone connecter to a bigger screen.

People want reliable first and then cheap.

I regret to inform you that *geeks* want reliable first and then cheap.
Random Joe 6-pack wants as cheap as possible, and then loudly comply about the quality he got (he got what he paid for). That explains the popularity of cheap chines noName tablets.

  Its like writing software on a phone or writing a term paper on a phone. It's as easy to do as cooking a turkey in a microwave oven. No one does it because that's not the best use of the device. Photoshop on a phone. Lite laptops connected to data servers are the way, with phones for all the convenience of phones. People want reliable first and then cheap. If its not reliable, then they let the phone face get smashed or drop the phone in the toilet. No loss. After that they want cheap. Microsoft failed miserably on the first, Apple failed on the second (sometimes the phone really does accidentally fall in the toilet and gorilla glass doesn't last forever: when you need a new phone and you are looking at the same features for hundreds less, hundreds less wins).

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