Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! ×

Comment Re: Try an Antenna (Score 1) 140

The OTA channels generally look better than they did on DirecTV, except when there's lightning. I'm pretty sure our local CW, Fox, and ABC affiliates are broadcasting GOPs that are *way* longer than 15 frames (IBBPBBPBBPBBPBB), because noise bursts (like nearby lightning) seem to derail them and make the picture & audio fall apart for at *least* a second or two.

What ATSC *should* do is keep the same 8vsb transport layer, but allow broadcasters to use their 19.2mbps link budget to send a primary MPEG-2 stream (compatible with current standards), but use their remaining bits for one or more h.265 streams (with faster error-recovery than we have now). That way, they could launch it with a single SD h.265 stream at the tail end of each data chunk, then drop the primary stream's bitrate to 6-8mbps (using the balance for the new h.265 stream), then move the subchannels from MPEG-2 to h.265, and finally drop the legacy MPEG-2 primary stream down to SD bitrate & reallocate the bits to the primary h.265 stream (enabling 1080p60, 1536p30, 2160p24, etc... maybe even native 24, 25, 48, 50, 72, or even 100fps streams, if they can get TVs to handle on-the-fly mode changes like ATSC was *supposed* to (but apparently doesn't, since NO OTA station I'm aware of changes modes on the fly today). It would be kind of nice to be able to watch British TV shows at 720p50 or 1080p25 without telecine judder like we have now, and 720p100 is a *visible* step up from 720p60(*) (at least, when viewed side by side, 720p100 is clearly smoother).

(*) 120fps is visually indistinguishable from 100fps... the next visible step up from 100fps requires 150fps for high-contrast motion, and 200-300fps to see a difference with lower-contrast content. Since 100fps is as good as 120, we might as well go with 100 & make everyone's lives easier going forward).

Comment Re: Try an Antenna (Score 1) 140

I don't know about Houston, but in Miami/Ft. Lauderdale, the subchannels are all so compressed and blocky, watching them will make your eyes feel like they're going to bleed. And most of them are religious channels, Spanish channels, or shopping/infomercial channels. As of a few days ago, we only have EIGHT English-language OTA HD channels... and *maybe* 5-8 unwatchably-pixelated subchannels that aren't religious, Spanish, or home shopping.

Comment Re: No patent (Score 1) 242

Technically, they can. Licensing rights aren't recursive. If I buy some product that uses a licensed, patented part, then use that part to make something else, I could still be sued for infringement. Arguing that someone else already licensed it would get me nowhere.

Courts have ruled that it's not necessarily infringement to repair a broken item, but IS infringement if the repair improves it beyond its original design. I think the key case involved a knife whose handle was prone to breakage long before the blade itself. Someone bought broken knives (and eventually, brand new ones), replaced the handles, resold them, and got sued for infringement because the new handles were substantially better than the original ones.

Comment Re: Liability (Score 1) 491

Why aren't tractors from China that aren't encumbered by Deere IP available? What does "Deere Do" that Chinese tractors don't? Have tractors really come SO FAR in ~18 years that there's no viable US market for tractors that are built entirely from designs whose patents all expired?

I mean, do Deere tractors have some kind of semi-autonomous operation, so they can run in perfectly straight lines at precise distances and do something in 300 minutes and 40 passes that might otherwise have taken 500 minutes and 60 overlapping passes? Does their holy software provide some kind of real value to users (besides "allowing them to operate"), or is it literally just DRM?

Comment Re:Good (Score 1) 320

> Microsoft and manufacturers deliberately refuse to make drivers work with windows

The problem wasn't that they deliberately broke drivers. The problem was that Microsoft didn't follow the NT HAL paradigm with TWAIN.

When NT4 came out, Microsoft had a SERIOUS problem with lack of driver support for anything that resembled an imaging device. If you wanted imaging hardware that supported NT, you were stuck paying enterprise-level prices for it. The mainstream industry basically told Microsoft, "find a way to make TWAIN work on NT, or we aren't going to support NT."

Microsoft knew manufacturers would eventually come around if they abolished non-NT Windows... but they also knew there was a chance the strategy could fail if Win2k had an imaging-driver problem as bad as NT4's, and consumers were to dig in and refuse to adopt XP. And in fact, much of the early "stuff doesn't work on Win2k" was a lingering artifact of that problem.

So, Microsoft wrapped Twain in a shell of duct tape, and made it (sort of) able to limp along under NT architecture. Basically, they made it so the vendor could re-wrap their old source in a new binary wrapper specific to a version of Windows whenever a new version of Windows came out. The problem was, only someone with the original sourcecode could do it... and lots of manufacturers either went tits-up during the first dotcom crash, or were acquired by other companies with zero interest in making even the slightest effort to support older hardware.

As a result, lots of scanners that initially didn't support NT4 or Win2k AT ALL eventually DID support Win2k. A few even got later drivers to support XP.

WDM (since Vista) has slowly brought a degree of sanity to Windows imaging drivers, but once again broke backwards compatibility as badly as before. Many scanner drivers ignored WDM (or released really, really buggy WDM drivers) and supported only TWAIN. Those are the scanners that worked under Vista, but broke under Windows 7 (which made TWAIN strictly a front-end for back-end drivers)

Now, we (finally) have vendor-supplied miniport drivers that work kind of like a SANE back-end. We're still (mostly) stuck with TWAIN as a version-specific front end, the key difference is that NOW, Microsoft releases THEIR OWN generic TWAIN driver that uses the miniport-implemented scanner driver, so old scanner drivers can at least continue to work (albeit, often with reduced functionality) under newer versions of Windows.

Comment Re: What is the energy efficiency? (Score 1) 130

If the laser does its damage in a fraction of a second, 58kW is within the capability of about 30-50 car batteries. If it needs up to 5 seconds, about 100 (200, if you don't want to destroy the batteries after one or two uses. 10-20 seconds is within the capabilities of a small generator with lots of big supercapacitors in parallel (but you might need 30-90+ seconds between shots). Assuming 58kW is the INPUT power, and not the OUTPUT power.

For comparison, a good car stereo draws 500-1000 watts (RMS), which is why good car stereo == the biggest mixed/deep-cycle battery you can physically fit + upgraded alternator.

Comment Re: hookers and blow (Score 1) 158

Qualcomm ships SoCs with the silicon necessary to use mobile phone networks, but charges substantial licensing fees for the radio modem FIRMWARE. And probably wouldn't allow a small company to license it anyway. Wifi, in contrast, can be implemented with a pre-certified module. The FCC test requirements for part A or B compliance are fairly tame... their requirements for "intentional generators" (like WiFi subsystems and cellular radio modems) are quite a bit more stringent & expensive to satisfy. Using a pre-certified module for a radio modem would make it too expensive AND probably too large to fit in the case.

Comment Re: Idiocy (Score 1) 158

Because Enterprise customers aren't satisfied with control over virtual machines or ONE of your device's potentially-multiple operating systems... they demand complete control so they can remotely wipe your whole device (including your personal files) without warning if they decide to lay off your entire team.

When you allow your company to install MDM software on your device, there's almost no technical limit to what they can do. They might *voluntarily* exercise restraint, but there's literally nothing to stop an evil company (or rogue admin... or malware running with an administrator's credentials) from doing their worst.

Comment Re: I'm hoping for students ... (Score 1) 158

I wish Android allowed you to use microSD as primary storage, but use the phone's (usually) much-faster internal flash as a delayed cache (always writing to internal flash & reading from it when possible, but periodically saving updates to microSD when the UI is inactive & the phone would otherwise be asleep... kind of like the way Intel allows you to do on a PC to cache your laptop's slow 2TB+ hard drive to a special partition on your mSATA SSD)

Comment Re: a real keyboard (Score 1) 158

It's REAL market is more likely to be, "people who want to use their phone (or at least, its case) for company email & groupware, but don't want to hand over control of what's literally their most intimate and private data, to their company's IT staff... or at least, compromise the functionality & performance of their own phone by installing invasive MDM software".

In other words, it's a sacrificial device to let your company's IT staff fuck up so you can spare your REAL one from the same fate.

Why iPhone? Because it's just about the only phone whose models sell enough identical-form devices AND has a market life longer than the 9-15 months typical for most Android devices. The Galaxy S3 was one of the very, very few Android phones that ever came close (re both total sales AND useful market life). The S8 might sell more in 6 months than the S3 sold in two years, but it'll probably be replaced by the S9 6-9 months after the S8's release, and officially discontinued the same day.

I can DEFINITELY see someone like Huawei or HTC making a future phone that's basically two independent Android devices sharing one battery. Samsung, probably not, because then they'd have to admit that consumers have legitimate complaints about Knox (complaints mostly due to later changes made at the demand of large enterprise customers... Knox infrastructure ITSELF is fairly benign, but the MDM software used to configure & administer it is as bad as any other MDM thanks to LATER demands imposed by large enterprise customers who insisted upon having complete control over the entire device, as opposed to settling for complete control over Knox's VM and virtual encrypted filesystem).

Comment Re: Open the floodgates (Score 1) 73

It's worse in Florida. ~25 years ago, the Florida utility regulators agreed to let BellSouth basically DOUBLE the cost of local phone service to finance laying fiber to ~80% of customers within 10 years. The deadline came & went, and circa 2010, someone in the state capital who examined AT&T's actual deployment discovered that 99% of the fiber laid by AT&T since ~2006 was serving (... drumroll ...) nothing but AT&T cell towers. AT&T was counting potential wireless customers within range of a fiber-connected tower as 'served by fiber', and filed documents claiming that U-verse was available in areas were there wasn't even a VRAD.

It was a scandal so brazen & outrageous, even for a state that has historically been anti-regulation, that what's left of the state public service commission was threatening to levy HUGE fines against AT&T (and possibly seek prosecution for actual fraud). At the last second, AT&T somehow convinced them it was an honest mistake, and got them to let them have 5 more years to make U-verse available in all the places where they'd claimed it existed all along.

There were also areas like MY neighborhood, where they claimed U-verse was 'available to __-thousand residents', but was *really* limited to a few hundred, because they were running it from a distant VRAD whose capacity had been maxed out for YEARS. I know, because when I bought my house, I made a POINT of verifying that DSL was available... then found out that I couldn't actually GET it unless someone else quit AND I got lucky enough to call them after the port became available, but before someone else took it (not even a formal waiting list... literally, random luck)).

In Florida, AT&T acts like it's benevolently giving the gift of fiber (to the curb, mostly), but the truth is, Floridians have been PAYING for BellSouth & AT&T's fiber-laying since the 90s, and somewhere along the line, they were allowed to forget that.

(in BellSouth's defense, THEY mostly kept their end of the bargain. The problems began after AT&T bought BellSouth and 're-aligned' their capital improvement priorities).

Comment Re: Still upside down from the 2006 & 2007 cha (Score 1) 228

Two timezones would suck, but three would make more sense... eastern = utc+4.5, central = utc+5.5, and Pacific=utc+7. Basically, splitting the difference for eastern & central, and making dst year-round in pacific. SoCal has ABSURDLY early sunrise & sunset compared to the east coast.

Slashdot Top Deals

New York... when civilization falls apart, remember, we were way ahead of you. - David Letterman