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Comment The best camera is the one you have with you (Score 1) 174

For family snapshots, you're probably better off with a new phone with a good camera than a dedicated camera like a powershot these days. The image quality is getting surprisingly close, and the availability difference inherent in having your phone's camera in arms reach all day every day will likely lead to capturing more interesting moments. The latest iPhones are a safe bet, and some androids are getting pretty good these days as well, but you'll want to research the exact model you're getting to make sure it's one of the good ones.

If you're really interested in quality, you can supplement your phone with a DSLR for events when you know you're going to be taking pictures. Or for special events you could rent equipment from your local camera shop, or hire a photographer.

There are interesting things coming down the pipe in terms of multi-lens and light-field cameras, but if you're thinking in terms of saving things for posterity, you might want to be conservative about that sort of thing until they become a bit more mainstream and standardized. Remember, they had 3D cameras back when you were a kid too, but when's the last time you looked at an old stereo-photo?

I'd also recommend you read up on shot composition, lighting, depth of field, speed, aperture, etc... And mabe take a photography class. Understanding how to take a good photo makes the difference between boring and beautiful.

Comment Re:Map apps should integrate with civic bike share (Score 2) 100

Lots of apps do it, that's not what I'm asking for. I want it integrated so that it's just automatically there in every app that uses a map. So, for instance, I can look up a restaurant in Yelp, and see where I should drop off a bike nearby without switching apps and finding the place again.

Comment Map apps should integrate with civic bike shares (Score 1) 100

Citi Bike in New York, Divvy in Chicago, Bixi in Montreal, etc...
Civic bike share systems are becoming a big deal in a lot of cities these days, and it would really be helpful if Google Maps, Apple Maps, MS/Bing Maps, Nokia Maps, etc... would start integrating with them as a first class utility like other public transit options (available in all apps, considered in routing, etc...) rather than relegating each city's system to it's own app.

Comment Apple's numbers make sense (Score 5, Insightful) 198

We recently saw a graphics benchmark of the A5 vs the Tegra3 posted to /., and the A5 beat the Tegra in real-world-ish benchmarks, and more than doubled it's score in fill rate.

The A5X is basically just the A5 with twice as many GPU cores, and graphics problems tend to be embarrassingly parallel, so unless it scales up really poorly with those extra cores (due to shared bandwidth limitations, or poor geometry scaling) it should have no problem beating the Tegra 3 by 2x, especially in terms of fill rate.

And when you quadruple the number of pixels on your screen, as Apple just did, which measurement matters? Fill rate.

Comment Re:Lenses (Score 1) 177

Heck you could even possibly replace the lenses themselves with a modified display that uses a camera and alters the image to your prescription.

Nope, sorry, optics don't work like that. At least not with the kinds of displays we have now (I suppose we might eventually have some sort of light-field display, to be used with a light field camera, that could recreate all of the incoming rays of light, rather than one or several flat images).

However an uncorrected conventional display may work fine for nearsighted people simply because it would be close to their eye.

Comment Are you looking at the wrong metric? (Score 1) 681

Hard drives may still be much cheaper in terms of $/GB, but that is only the important number for geeks who actually care about big drives.

The important number for the mass market is the minimum price for a new drive of minimally usable size (call it 32-64 GB for now, it's drifting up, but not terribly quickly by the standards of exponential tech progression). And I suspect that SSDs will surpass HDDs in that metric fairly soon. A hard drive has a certain amount of unavoidable manufacturing complexity and materials requirements, no matter what the capacity, whereas a SSD is basically just chips and can be made almost arbitrarily cheap as fabrication technology leads to fewer and smaller chips being required for the same capacity and performance.

In a five years or so, I expect the "drive" on most new computers to be just another $10 chip on the motherboard.

Comment Re:Well I don't think it'll be a problem like that (Score 1) 764

Adaptation may be the solution in the medium-long term, but it is also the problem in the short term.

Building new power plants and alternative fuel cars (and alternative-binder-asphalt roads to drive them on) and such takes time and money and politicking. If the falloff in oil supply is rapid, there will inevitably be shortfalls in the transition. And even if the transition to other energy sources can keep up with oil's falloff rate, the transition itself will cause massive shifts in required job skills. Some new jobs will be filled by the new generation, and some current generation workers will take the trouble to get trained for new positions, but what about all the workers who can't or won't get qualified for a new job to replace their old one in a dying industry? Even if you're hard hearted enough not to care about them personally, imagine the damage that huge numbers of newly unemployable people could do to society (especially if they line up with the retirements of the baby boomers as closely as they would now).

These sorts of concerns are why we need to start adapting asap, before oil prices go through the roof. The more we can decrease the rate of transition, by stretching it out across more time, the less disruptive it will be at any given time. When real trouble arrives, more plants will already be built, more alternative technologies will already be developed into marketable products, and more people will already have secure post-peak-oil jobs and the skills that come with them (including the ability to pass those skills on to others).

Simple supply/demand curves need to be made a trailing indicator rather than a leading indicator in this case for the good of civilization.

Comment Re:Patent Problems? (Score 0, Troll) 171

Steve Jobs at one point offered to donate MacOSX licenses for every OLPC, and was turned down because the project's leadership at the time was dead set on free as in FSF software.
It'd be interesting to see if he'd do the same with iOS and all it's associated multitouch patents, but somehow I think that the OLPC project's visionary potential may have faded too far to attract such an offer again (even as their arrogance may have faded too far to reject such an offer again).

Comment Re:Yeah, but... (Score 4, Informative) 501

I expect there are some programable components, but adding whole a new codec to existing hardware decoders may be asking a bit much.

However, On2 already offered VP6 video decoder hardware designs like this one:
And, as I understand it, one of the big factors in the VP8 codec design was correcting issues with VP7 that made it hard to implement efficiently in hardware (or parallel software for that matter). So, I would expect them to be working on VP8 hardware decoders.

Comment Re:Voice data is relatively small... (Score 5, Interesting) 71

Ok, first off, loading Yahoo takes about 900 kilobytes (kB), not kilobits (kb).
Your 10minute conversation at 15kbps works out to 9 Mb, which is only 1.125MB.

And in reality cell phone codecs only take even close to 15kbps when they're running at full quality (and cell carriers being what they are, it's my understanding that they almost always skimp on that quality by at least half).

Wikipedia says AMR (the codec used in GSM and UMTS) varies between 12.2kbps and 1.8kbps.
Even the full 12.2kbps works out to 915KB for a 10minute conversation, the 1.8kbps rate only uses 135KB.

Of course, I think those are single channel rates, and you'll normally send as well as receive and thus double the data transmitted.

Overall I wouldn't call the voice call's relative data size minuscule, but it could easily wind up being less than a large-ish page load requires.

But in this case, it might be more appropriate to compare bandwidth needs. And in that measure the voice call really could be minuscule in comparison, since it's load is spread out over minutes instead of seconds.

Comment The Skiff looks nice, except for who controls it (Score 1) 684

The Skiff Reader has a flexible touchable screen with more viewable area and resolution than the Kindle DX, while still being thinner and lighter.
Unfortunately, it's still a bit vapor-ish, and I don't think the consortium of publishers backing it are the right people for the job. Online distribution needs a strong device maker and/or store manager to keep the old media types in line, otherwise they'll just keep raising prices and restrictions, trying to make sure there is no threat to their traditional businesses, until the new market is completely strangled.

The iPad is at the other end of the spectrum, it handles color and refreshes in miliseconds instead of seconds but it's also heavy and thick (what do you expect with a big glass covered IPS LCD screen and ~5x the battery capacity of any of it's competitors to power it). But it does have an extremely strong device/market centered backer, and I kind of expect it's descendants to prevail in the long run as low power and high power/contrast/speed/color display technologies converge.

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