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Comment Re:Visicalc changed everything (Score 3, Insightful) 231

The Apple II was dominant in terms of income, if not sales units. If you're referring to Jeremy Reimer's article you'll read that in 1980 Apple's turnover was $200 million, Radio Shacks was $175 million and Commodore's was $40 million. It might not have sold as many individual units but they made Apple a lot more money.

Sales figures for the PET weren't kept, but it is interesting that in 1982 Commodore sold more Vic 20s in 6 months than Apple sold Apple IIs in 5 years.

Figures are here:

Comment Subjective audio comparisons are useless (Score 2) 277

It is impossible to judge audio codecs through subjective tests.
Companies that manufacture loudspeakers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on audio quality research- not in order to make their speakers better, but to understand the psychology behind the sounds that make people choose speaker A over speaker B in a showroom. They have discovered all sorts of quirks in human psychology and perception that they exploit to boost their sales, and they have little to do with overall 'quality'. Decades of expensive, meticulous, scientifically valid studies are responsible for the range of speakers you find at the average hifi shop, and even when several identical speakers are demonstrated (but the listener is told they are all different) most people will say that speaker number 2 sounds the best.
The same applies to audio codecs. Even if you eliminate all sorts of hardware variables, then just listening to clip A, then B, then C and subjectively deciding which one sounds 'best' is totally unreliable. The results of this type of testing are completely useless. At the very least you would need to set up a triangle test, and to do this properly with 6 codecs in a controlled environment would take a very long time and the results still wouldn't correlate with true 'quality' unless it was repeated many times with different hardware setups.
Ignoring the psychological weaknesses in these types of tests, the playback hardware would colour the sound enough as to make the underlying test - the codec - invalid. The choice of music, the amplifier, the speakers or headphones, and the volume used for playback will all contribute their own distinctive characteristics to the audio so that person A will not be hearing the same test as person B.
Forget codec wars. Just buy a decent pair of earphones.

Comment Re:Look at the DroboPro (Score 1) 609

I own an original Drobo and am quite happy with it... but I don't think it's right for your needs.

I looked around for a while and there's nothing else that does exactly what the Drobo does - they fill a niche very well. But they're relatively slow and can be noisy. They're fine as a backup device or for low-bandwidth applications but I wouldn't recommend one to play media files from- the 4-drive model that I have is simply not fast enough. Perhaps the newer models are significantly faster, and although I think they're too loud for a bedroom they're probably no louder than any other multi-drive enclosure, so YMMV.

There are a few stories on the net from people who have had disastrous problems with theirs. I looked at these very closely before I bought mine. Mostly they're from individuals who make a lot of noise in order to get attention, some of whom had done really stupid things to cause their own problems (eg if you have a 4-drive raid, and one drive fails, don't update the firmware on the other drives while the raid is rebuilding...) Some of the other stories were the results of Seagate firmware issues that affected many products and manufactures, not just Drobo. Having worked in video production for almost 15 years with all sorts of RAIDS, NAS and SANs, the Drobo is no worse than anything else out there and seems to have lots of happy customers.

But the older models are really quite slow.

Comment Windows' biggest challenge is its size (Score 5, Insightful) 269

The biggest challenge facing Windows is its size and hardware requirements - as phones get smarter and netbooks become more popular then people will become accustomed to having a 'proper' computer on them at all time- for many people with an iPhone this is already happening. Even Miyamoto (the Nintendo guy) was talking today about broadening the range of applications available for the DS so that gamers begin to take them everywhere and use them for everything. It doesn't really matter whether it's a Nintendo DS, an Apple iPhone, a Palm Pre, a Blackberry or a netbook running Android- the key is portability. Portability is The Next Big Thing and in this market Windows does not seem to have a very attractive offering - Windows Mobile only makes headlines when it's market share is overtaken by something else.
So personally I don't see Android as a specific challenge to Windows, I see Windows being challenged by a fundamental shift in computing - from the desktop to personal - and Windows biggest challenge in this area is probably itself and it's own bloated history.

Comment Re:Relativity also matters for GPS (Score 4, Interesting) 146

Yes you're absolutely correct. The current GPS system has to incorporate aspects of both special and general relativity in order to be accurate to the meter. Special Relativity predicts that time slows down proportional to speed and therefore the speed of the satellites becomes a critical aspect of calculating their own "time". Additionally, General Relativity predicts that time slows down as a body is influenced by gravity, and because the GPS satellites do not have circular orbits the influence of the Earth's gravity changes with their position (they move closer and further away from the Earth as they orbit) and this also needs to be taken into account. The overall effect of "relativistic time slowing" is tiny and is in the nano-second ballpark, however when calculating positions using GPS a few nano-seconds can mean a few meters...

Comment Re:Innovation pays (Score 5, Insightful) 269

I always felt like most of the hype around the iPhone's launch missed the point. The hype was deserved, but everyone was hyping the wrong part.
What I saw was Apple not launching a cell-phone, they were launching a new mobile computing platform that could also be used as a cell-phone. It's a fundamental paradigm shift. Even now when I read rumours of Apple launching a netbook I think to myself that they've already done it- the iPhone. Back then journalists scoffed at the price and laughed at suggestions that Apple might worry giants like Nokia but they simply didn't get it. The iPhone isn't simply a phone, it's the first of the next-generation in mobile computing.
Comparing Apple's market share to Nokia's or other established phone manufacturers misses the point, because they are simply making phones. Even RIM just makes phones - call them smart phones if you prefer, but the basic way in which RIM have approached the Blackberry is the same as the way Nokia approaches the design of their phones. They do different things in different ways, but they are, first and foremost, phones. The parent poster is spot on when he refers to a new phone simply being the old phone but 20% faster etc etc etc. It's like car manufacturing, where many of today's cars are just the result of decades of incremental improvements on an old and outdated design.
In some ways the iPhone is a technical trojan horse but with a sophistication beyond Sony using the PS3 to get BluRay players into living rooms. The iPhone is getting real mobile computers into people's hands, with the 'real' internet (ignoring the Flash issue), and a real operating system. If people think it's just a phone that can play games, or a combination of a phone and an iPod then fine- Apple have done their job. They've made a mobile computer that is so easy to use people take it for granted...
I always thought that the iPhone deserved every bit of hype it received when it was launched, but not for the glossy interface or slick design. It was taking on industry giants such as Nokia and instantly making their corporate model obsolete, and offering instead a new paradigm in regards to mobile personal computers.

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