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Comment Is it above marginal cost? (Score 1) 218

If the RIAA shrinks down to a minimal number of middlemen from lack of money (I guess those people would go to work in regular finance or something their skills would apply for), is this enough to keep the world's musicians able to make new songs and live in modest comfort?

How many people does it actually take to record a decent sounding album? I had the impression, from my friends with their amateur semi-pro bands, that it just takes a few. You need the musicians, some instruments, and a booth in a place with cheap rent that has good mics and that special stuff in the walls. Then a computer and a few thousand bucks worth of gear (including the mics) to convert the sound to digital, and a (usually pirated) copy of that software that lets you mix the tracks.

1 billion from youtube, plus a few more billion from direct sales and from the movie industry does sound like it ought to keep a few thousand artists in business. Enough to make more new songs than we can ever individually or collectively listen to. Am I right?

Comment Re:Plasma (Score 1) 103

Ok, sure, but it's still $1500 for something that I won't be able to use in a few years because of bad color balance.

When LED backlit computer monitors get dimmer, you can just turn up the brightness to compensate (since you run them at about 50% of their maximum potential brightness generally at the beginning). You can't do this forever - but the lifespan is probably 100k total hours which is 20 years if nothing else fails.

Comment Re:Plasma (Score 4, Informative) 103

What things are those? The only ones I know of (that prevented me from buying an OLED black Friday) were:

1. Cost. Thousands of dollars, LCD equivalents are now $600 for 55-65" 4k set
2. Input lag. While the physical panel is near instant, for whatever reason, the chipsets the current OLED manufacturers are using have more input lag than low input lag LCDs. Unacceptable.
3. Longevity. The LCD backlights are down to 80% brightness at 25,000 hours and will probably remain usable displays for perhaps 100k hours, give or take. (most like a capacitor will fail before the backlight does). At 25k hours the oled dyes age at different rates and the blue will be shot at that point.
4. Maximum brightness - harder to make the thin layer glow as hard than it is to throw in bigger backlights behind an LCD.

Comment Misleading title on TFA (Score 3, Informative) 68

Summary of the TFA : the actual method of brain signaling is primarily all or nothing electrical impulses. The timing is analog - THEORETICALLY a difference in an electrical impulse arriving down to the planck-second could have an effect.

This research does not change any of this. The brain is still analog at the individual synapse level, it just follows certain patterns that are related to binary math for setting up arrays of neural circuitry.

In practice, like any analog system, true resolution is finite because there is noise. So the system merely needs to be quantized down to the level of resolution of noise and you can replicate it's behavior exactly in a digital equivalent. Remember analog PIDs and other simple analog computers, the ones that used vacuum tubes and were used from ww2 and a few decades after? Those systems also had finite effective resolution even though analog systems theoretically have infinite resolution. That was because of all the various forms of noise in the actual physical equipment. In practice if you replace an analog system with a digital system you can get BETTER resolution because all the intermediate processing steps do not introduce additional noise. (while each vacuum tube op amp you solder in picks up extra noise that is added to the signal)

Comment Re:Neural modeling made easy (Score 1) 68

Yeah I think that is also what it is saying. We should be able to upgrade our neural network models to use this method of organization and get more performance. We should also be able to mimic any single subsystem of the human brain in the relatively near future*. Mimicking a full brain - what we think of as a general purpose artificial intelligence - is still immensely harder because of all the complex relationships between subsystems and the vast amount of memory and hardware we'll need. Even the massive GPU/ASIC clusters Google is using are nowhere close to the scale of a full human brain. It really partially is just a matter of hardware.

* I mean in terms of utility, not in terms of being an exact copy of neural hardware.

Comment Re:No surprise at all, just abuse vs hope (Score 2) 119

Amazon product search is bad? To be fair I sometimes have trouble with it - especially if use the wrong search terms - and the sponsored products can be annoying - but it generally works. It lets you know what most people buy, what most people give good reviews to, and the review system is...better than nothing. When/if they fix the bribed review system it'll be pretty good. Also the "other products people bought" is good, so the "frequently bought together".

All in all it's better than newegg or ebay or going to the store in person. It's not bad.

Comment Re:Sigh. How many major standards wars is this? (Score 1) 72

Yeah that would be easier, wouldn't it. Requiring both high and low current chargers and high and low current cables to populate every conductor means the low current cables would have a long lifespan from having more total conductors than they need. So in your version, you'd make the low current cable have a thinner cable portion while the high current cable would have much thicker copper wires and even tubes for coolant water? (the coolant would be supplied by the charger)

High current cable might also need temperature sensors embedded along the main conductor to detect hot spots.

Comment Re:Sigh. How many major standards wars is this? (Score 1) 72

Wouldn't mind, I'm sure they are way more complex. I was just thinking an all in one plug needs to support earlier cars with slower max charging rates and the cord/plug needs to be cheaper, saving you the weight and expense of several extra kilograms of copper that the high amperage cord would need.

Comment Sigh. How many major standards wars is this? (Score 4, Insightful) 72

Why do tech companies even do this? Why can't everyone just agree on a standard and stick with it from the start instead of having a war that means us consumers who buy gear from the wrong side will suffer. No doubt there will be large dongle adapters between charging standards, but I bet an adapter that can handle 100+ kilowatts is pretty darn expensive.

I mean, the basic requirements for a plug are that it be mechanically sound and inexpensive to manufacture. It ought to have several conductor pins, filled in by order of amperage, so a 2 pin plug is 50 amp and a 4 pin plug is 100 amp and so on. The plugs for lower amperage would be the same size plastic mold, just missing the conductors for higher amperage. Not that hard to get right. It needs a data pin to do handshaking with the destination.

It's not worth fighting a war to get royalties, every electric car manufacturer has an incentive to use the standard used by the majority so everyone's vehicles can charge more places.

Comment This makes several Mars mission plans feasible (Score 3, Interesting) 113

Prior to this, the assumption was that the moisture percentage in the soil was only a few percent. This meant that to get water for a large greenhouse or to electrolyze to hydrogen to fuel a methane ascent rocket, you'd need a bulldozer and a large oven and rock crusher. Heavy stuff and hardly worth sending to Mars unless you were doing missions on a large scale (easier to just send the water you need and liquid hydrogen as payload on the lander).

If there really is a massive frozen lake of mostly water just a few feet down, you could land on a spot where the soil is thin and drill down. Maybe evaporate the water by sending hot CO2 down the hole or something, and collecting the moisture in the steam that rises back up. (you get the CO2 by compressing martian atmosphere and then heating it)

This seems a lot more feasible, though doing it using a purely robotic lander would still be very hard.

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