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Comment It Doesn't Matter... (Score 1) 151

I think in a few years we'll all be having a good laugh about how Oculus doomed themselves with this move. I think there are enough people on this planet like me who are 100% distrustful of Facebook and anything they have to do with anything. I have long size made the vow that Facebook and its affiliates get zero dollars of my money and zero seconds of my attention.

We keep reading articles about how Facebook is on the way out, its core userbase of young hip twentysomethings is evaporating quickly, and soon its largest remaining userbase will be the octogenarian set, etc. The bubble is about ready to pop, and I predict (maybe we can have a good laugh at this in a year or two as well) that Facebook is very quickly going to go the way of Myspace, Livejournal, etc.: Namely, they still kinda-sorta exist but nobody save for a very small core few actually give a fuck, and neither of them are exactly cash cows.

Comment Good, But... (Score 4, Insightful) 217

Now slap a friggin' hardware keyboard on it and we'll talk. What's the point of yet another stupid buttonless bar phone? It's got a lot of pixels and a big fat processor so it has miserable battery life and absolutely zero usability improvement. It's like putting a solid gold screen door on a submarine, then. Put a Wacom style digitizer on the thing like the Galaxy Note while you're at it, please, so we can accurately poke at hilariously tiny controls and icons on the screen. I don't care if doing so makes the damn phone .0005" thicker or whatever.

Am I the only one who's noticed that our culture has seemingly started to revolve around SMS and Twitter yet somehow at the exact same time everybody started dropping keyboards off of phones? What's the deal with that?

I think it's a conspiracy. (Okay, okay, so the only 'conspiracy' is copycattingthe buttonless design popularized with -- but not invented by -- the iPhone. But still.)

Show some cojones! Have the courage to do something different for a change. I'd love a phone with a billion and three pixels available on the display, but I'd also like a phone that I can actually type on, select things, draw on it, etc. with all those pixels. If all you're doing is tapping and sliding and swiping and poking ineffectually at a million-pixel-wide but only physically 2-inches-across virtual keyboard the damn thing may as well be 320x240.

Comment Re:There is an old anecdote (Score 1) 354

That's a case of two American chamberings being kinda-sorta incompatible with each other, largely owing to the fact that the "military" 5.56x45 is in reality a modified version of the already existing civilian .223 Remington, beefed up with a hotter load and heavier bullet. The Russians didn't enter into this one, or anyone else's military -- Us Americans did it all to ourselves. The .223 was a pretty weedy cartridge for war use at the time of its adoption in Vietnam, so the designers cooked up a more powerful cartridge of the same size that'd fit in the same gun, and then modified the gun to handle the higher pressures and heavier bullets they used.

In reality, this was never intended to present a problem. The military "should" be using the hotter 5.56x45 loads in their rifles, and civilians "should" be using .223 Remington, but as things go they all got mixed up in the ammo chain and you can buy surplus (and commercial!) 5.56x45 and stick it in your .223 deer rifle and vise versa. Now you can buy guns with mil-spec receivers that are made to accept the mil-spec ammo, which leads to a couple of manufacturers selling mil-spec civilian equipment and others just touting up their stuff as if they wish it was mil-spec (and their customers wish it was mil-spec) but it isn't.

Again, the short version: Forget the whole thing and just buy something chambered in 6.8mm SPC instead.

Comment Re:There is an old anecdote (Score 1) 354

Both anecdotes are wrong, but both stem from an urban legend about the Japanese Arisaka rifle (WW2) which allegedly was deliberately chambered in .31 caliber so it could fire American .30 caliber munitions but the Japanese cartridge would not fit an American M1903. This legend is also false, but it endures, and every time there's a new generation of military rifles some dolt starts repeating it again for no discernible reason. I imagine you heard your story from one such dolt.

The American AR-15 and its variants (M-16, M-4, etc.) are chambered in 5.56x45, AKA .223 Remington. The Russian AK-47 and its equivalents (including the AKM, etc.) are chambered in 7.62x39, which is a completely different cartridge with a completely different size. The 5.56x45 is a much longer cartridge, for a start, and also thinner. If you dropped one in the chamber of an AK like a dummy the bolt wouldn't even close all the way. It would be impossible to fire the gun out of battery like that, but if you somehow managed it the casing of the 5.56 would surely explode because it is not contained by the walls of the chamber. You couldn't even begin to fit a 7.62 in an AR-15's chamber. The cartridge is too fat. I think you'd have trouble fitting it through the ejection port, and you can forget about jamming one in the magazine. It just ain't gonna happen.

Likewise, the modern Russian AK-74 and its variants are chambered in 5.45x39, which is superficially similar in concept to the American 5.56x45, but is still a completely different size. Again it is a shorter cartridge and this time with a smaller diameter bullet. A 5.56x45 cartridge will be too long to chamber in an AK-74, and too fat for the bullet to fit down the barrel. A Russian 5.45 round dropped in an AR-15 would just rattle around in the chamber. Again, if you managed to set it off somehow it would just explode in place, because the casing doesn't fit the chamber properly.

I think some of the confusion comes from the fact that you can modify an AR-15 variant rifle -- by way of a major parts swap consisting of replacing the barrel, chamber, bolt, and attached upper receiver assembly) to fire different calibers, up to and including Russian 7.62x39. The vast majority of upscaled AR-15's are actually chambered to accept .308 Winchester (AKA 7.62x51) which is again a totally different cartridge than 7.62x39 Russian. Don't get confused by the 7.62 in both of them: The .308 Winchester is longer and stouter than the AK cartridge, and plain old will not fit in an AK-47, and vise versa.

The only result of making your rifle's chamber half a mil bigger than the enemy's ammo so you can physically fit his cartridges but he can't fit yours has no effect other than allowing the enemy's ammo to explode in your gun's chamber. This has no practical advantage at the expense of making your gun woefully unsafe to fire with the wrong ammunition in it, which you purposely designed it to be able to accept.

TL;DR: Guns do not work that way. People are confused enough about firearms as it is, so don't contribute to the problem by perpetuating falsehoods like this. It only leads to some redneck dim bulb trying to shoot a 7.62 out of his .223 deer rifle, maiming himself, and therefore causing some politician to pass a law about it that makes life harder for the rest of us.

Comment Re:Art tablet (Score 3, Insightful) 453

This exists. Thinkpad X series tablets. End of discussion. Toshiba/Acer/Asus/Panasonic/Everybody/Their Dog also makes some version, or did in the past.

Mine has a Wacom Stylus, pressure sensitive, multiple buttons, actual keyboard, close(r) to 4:3 aspect ratio, (it's actually 16:10; 16:12 = 4:3), asinine long battery life, covered in USB ports, available with massive hard drive/RAM amounts, comes with a docking station, runs regular old Windows. (Also runs later versions of Ubuntu pretty good.) Mine is new enough to have a finger-touchable screen as well as the Wacom stylus. Physically punching the OK button on error dialogs is an experience that cannot be beat.

Used ones can be had with 4:3 screens, if you want to troll eBay for one. They're cheaper, too.

Comment Re:Integrated maps and... (Score 1) 453

I dunno, somehow sub-$50 standalone GPS navigation devices manage to do this just fine, and have done for many years now. I don't see why a tablet couldn't do that, or come with the software to do that, or have an add-on SD card or something with all that map data on it you can buy for a couple of bucks. (Hint: That already happened. You used to be able to buy map cards for oldschool PDA's that had an entire continents' worth of road data, addresses, and POI's. You can still do the same with update cards for fancier standalone GPS navigators.)

Actually, your knee-jerk sarcastic comment isn't as far off as you think. If you discount the pictures and videos, and/or downsample the images to something suitable for a phone or tablet screen, the entire text content of the English wikipedia is only a couple of gigs; Easily small enough to fit on whatever microSD card you most recently lost between the cushions of your couch.

Comment Re:One change (Score 2) 453

It also has a battery life best measured in seconds.

Almost all of the features in TFA are available one at a time spread across various tablets, but not all on the same device. Lenovo and Toshiba make tablets with full sized USB ports, most non-Apple and non-Nexus tablets have SD card slots, many have HDMI out. There is a map program that works pretty much as the author describes: NavFree is a free-to-use app that lets you preload maps on your machine that are pulled from the OpenStreetmap repositories to be used when you haven't got an internet connection available. It also has limited map editing tools built in to update/correct the repositories when you get back into wifi range.

High res daylight readable screens have been available for ages. I have one in my N900. The problem: You can't make them as thin as current tablet buyers for some reason demand. Personally, I'd be happy with a slightly thicker tablet with a metal alloy case that I can actually grip, and maybe not feel like I'm going to break in half if I breathe on it too hard. Having a sunlight readable screen bodged in there while we're at it would also be nice.

The Asus Transformer is another near-miss, as it has a card slot, HDMI, and you can get that groovy keyboard attachment that turns it into a mini-netbook (which even has a hinge on it so you can fold it flat). The tradeoff there? The machine itself costs $400, and the keyboard is not included -- That's an extra $149. Ouch.

Thus far, everything in this market is a game of tradeoffs. Eventually someone will get it right and include "all of the above" in a consumer device. It probably will not be cheap.

My solution for this is to just have two devices: I use a Galaxy Tab 2 (7.0) when I feel like being a media-consuming light-duty trendster. I have a Thinkpad X201T tablet when I want an outdoor-readable high powered machine encrusted with ports that I could use to kill a burglar if I hit him with it. I can fit my Galaxy Tab in the CD wallet section of my laptop bag.

If you can't stomach that multi-killobuck solution right now, then tough.

Comment What a Crock of Shit (Score 5, Insightful) 630

When I was in high school, I had sketchbooks that I filled to the brim with detailed drawings of planes, battlemechs, rockets, Warhammer dudes, and yes, lots and lots of weapons. Many of them attached to planes or in the form of swords and axes being held by fantasy roleplaying types, but also plain-old modern day guns. I think I turned out pretty well, and in my entire life I've never even so much murdered anybody. I was even still in school when the Columbine shootings went down, and even after that fact with all the paranoia swirling around, nobody cared about me or my notebook. Do you know why? Because it didn't fucking matter. It's what boys of that age tend to do, and back then people still managed to understand this.

This is knee-jerk paranoid reactionist ego-stroking BULLSHIT of the highest caliber. This poor kid's harassment and arrest is in no way, shape, or form designed to keep anyone safe or protect anybody from anything, but to intentionally scare people and stoke a bunch of "it could happen here" sensationalistic paranoia for the sake of inflating some school administrator's ego. The real intent of this, which is going to have real-world consequences of ruining this kids future -- Which, I hasten to point out, this superintendent and his cronies in no way care about or will show responsibility for -- is propaganda. To create the appearance that the school administration is "doing something!" and being "proactive and tough on violence!" to direct attention away from the fact that, back here in reality, this kid's school is undoubtedly zero percent safer today than it was last Friday.

This is why we are constantly blindsided by headline grabbing violence int his country: We are SO paranoid about not letting the imaginary "bad guy" in the front door that we're diverting all our attention to chasing shadows and tilting at these goddamned windmills. Meanwhile, the real enemy is free to sneak in the back door whenever he feels like it.

(Obligatory "that's what she said," by the way.)

The people who did this to that kid are the ones who need to be arrested -- every last one of them. Stripped of their ranks, stripped of their certifications, their badges taken away, and relegated to flipping burgers at McDonald's for the rest of their pathetic little lives, because people who straight-facedly make such poor decisions as these have NO BUSINESS BEING IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY, period.

Comment Day Late and a Dollar Short (Score 3, Interesting) 198

I remember back when the TI-83 "boom" was happening in public schools around here and math textbooks were starting to show up with content in them tailored to TI-83 calculators. Suddenly, it was required that students have "a graphing calculator" for math courses, on pain of automatic failure. I'm not sure how this happened but I imagine it involved large sums of money changing hands: Somehow, every single published textbook was chock full of key-by-key instructions on how to solve problems that applied ONLY to TI-8x series calculators, and none other. Never were the concepts behind the button presses explained, it was just a matter of "press this button, then this button, then enter your value, then press this button..." So, while the schools were not able to admit that what you really needed was a TI-83 calculator and none other without exception, that's really what this new policy meant. In the early days, most primary school teachers didn't have much experience working with these "newfangled" calculators and were not able to offer assistance or background explanation about any of these button-pressing procedures, so the lucky ducklings with non-TI calculators (like me!) were basically shit outta luck. I had, and still have, a Casio CFX-8950GB Plus, which was at the time and still is superior to the TI-83 line in every possible way. It also has a color screen, but owing to the times it can only do four colors. Even still.

However the heck this twisted situation came about, it meant that TI wound up with a near-monopoly on the graphing calculator market, considering the lion's share of that market is mandatory primary education, most of it in public schools (this is in the USA, mind you). So, they've been able to churn out basically the same calculator pretty much without change or improvement and charge the same price for it at retail. I'll bet you a nickel it's a shitton cheaper for TI to manufacture a TI-83 now, with it's tiny simple processor and chunky low-rez monochrome screen than it was back in the early '90's. I'll bet the damn thing prints money for them.

Meanwhile, the rest of the market (and the world) innovates, improves, and moves on. This move to stick a 320x240 screen and a "whopping" 21k of RAM would be a bold and exciting one if it happened 15 years ago. Somehow, I picture today's students failing to get excited about a machine that's considerably less capable than a low-end current smartphone. Hell, I have a first- or second-generaton PocketPC PDA that's more powerful than that.

I predict that this machine will cost just as much if not more than the old calculators, the old style calculators will stay on the market as a "budget" option for poor kids but their price will not drop much or at all (especially if the zooty color model costs considerably more than the current price point), and nobody who isn't forced to buy one as the particular calculator for a particular math course will care; From a functional standpoint, as opposed to your specific "press this button" classroom requirements, better tools are already available elsewhere and will continue to be.

Comment Re:Samsung? (Score 2) 288

That sounds good. Would it have an actual keyboard instead of some stupid on-screen BS? I thought we left that behind back in the PocketPC days, but surprise! Apple made a bad idea "trendy" again.

I could do without, thanks.

(Spoken by someone who STILL has a Nokia N900, because nobody has yet made anything better running a decent smartphone OS that has an actual damn keyboard.)

Comment Re:4k Monitor (Score 5, Insightful) 137

I concur. The killer thing is, you USED to be able to get normal-sized, high density computer displays and not pay a whole hell of a lot more for them versus similar sized LCD's. But then the HDTV thing happened and went mainstream, and now it's next to impossible to find a monitor that's any higher than 1920x1080, and a lot of the smaller 16:9 ones are much worse resolution that that, and lower resolutions than they were 4 or 5 years ago.

It truly, absolutely, makes no damn sense. Except that manufacturers just want to recycle cheap HDTV panels manufactured in bulk (often with lousy 6 or 7 bit color depth as well) and try to pass them off as "premium" computer monitors.

Comment Re:Streisand effect? (Score 1) 385

Check out the Kyocera Echo, then. It was sort of a flop, but it is a thing that exists pretty much exactly as you describe.

On the Apple vs. Samsung note, I went out and bought two Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's on the day of the verdict. The presence of that stupid-ass lawsuit did not have much impact on my eyeballing of a Samsung device -- Rather, that was more because Samsung currently has the best 7.0" device on the market -- But it did have plenty to do with my decision to go out, vote with my wallet, and spend that money right then.

My main gripe with Apple is that I would dearly desire both the company itself and all of its loser fanpeople to just shut the fuck up already. They have their iThings, and that's nice. I don't need to hear the marketing crap every four seconds about how Apple invented the smartphone (they didn't), the walled garden model (they didn't), the all-screen "slate" form factor (they didn't), and celebrations of the fact that the iDevices still do not have innovations like card slots, IR ports, USB host functionality, etc., etc. that have already existed for decades. I'm sure Apple will come along and "invent" all of those things later, in the iPhone 6, 7, 8, and 9. Don't even get me started on the goddamned "retina" display. Whoopy-doo, Apple made an iPhone with almost the same pixel density of my seriously unhip Dell Axim x50v, circa 2004. Maybe Dell could sue them for that.

Comment Re:ask a mechanic (Score 1) 672

You would think, but the Demon Cost Accounting sneaks up on you, there. Because it is a proven, off-the-shelf part that costs a manufacturer close to zero dollars, you can bet YOUR last dollar that if you are sitting in a car with a four speed blower control, it is driven by one of those multi-tapped four position varistors, virtually unchanged since the '50's or earlier. Even if the car is a brand spanking new 2012 model with the window stickers still on it. Because it's cheap to get out the door. It can blow up three years from now, what does the manufacturer care? You can drag it to their dealer shop to get it fixed for a boatload of cash, and even if you don't they already sold you the car and they already have your money.

No digital climate control? There's a resistor in there. My boss' 2011 Accord uses one...

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 1) 672

The Hylux/Tundra had a generation run that was notorious for rusting out due to substandard undercoating. I don't have the details on hand, but apparently there was a fat class-action that resulted in Toyota (or Toyota America) buying a lot of trucks back. A neighbor of mine has an OLD Tundra (like, 1998) that was affected and just last month (here in 2012!) Toyota bought the thing back from him for more than 10k, a rather alarming amount given the age of the truck. Rust snapped the frame in half between the bed and the cab, and he had to drive it home one night folded up like a taco... He used the money as a fat down payment on a new (2011) one. I guess they're happy he didn't hurt himself or someone else and sue them.

Having done "simple" repair jobs on my Ford Focus like brakes and suspension replacements, I think the next metric isn't going to be "who makes a better car" but "who makes a car mere mortals can work on, without dealer-only tools." To replace a front strut, I had to remove the steering knuckle from the axle (there goes the alignment) and the axle nut is one time use, AND it's a dealer only part! And it costs more than $40! After I did that job, I sold the car straight away. There is a fine line between design flaws and apparent deliberate design stupidity, and I refuse to own something built of the latter. You should have seen the gymnastics I had to do to get the thermostat housing out, which some egghead deliberately designed out of plastic because "it's cheaper!" yet it bolts to an aluminum block and is expected to seal forever given the wildly different thermal expansions of both parts. (Hint: They fail about every 20k miles. Enjoy!) So you don't hand me this "but that's the price of the steady march of technology" crap, my Saturn from the very same model year (2002) has an aluminum housing that can be removed with a socket wrench and reinstalled inside of five minutes. Oh, and it was also a much cheaper car to begin with. Go figure.

Soon, things are going to be designed along the lines of, "To save on expensive metal and make the assembly cheaper, this critical part is designed such that the multi-jointed robot tool that installs it at the factory can reach the bolt, but you with your puny human hand and socket wrench can't. I guess you have to send it back to the factory for brakes/struts/gaskets/whatever!" Plenty of stuff is being designed that way already. Have any owners of post-2008 vehicles had a battery die in one of their wireless tire pressure sensors yet? I'm sure such a thing would cause you to fail inspection in plenty of states. Basically, the dingus attached to your tire stem needs a new watch battery put in it (or, more likely, you need to replace the dingus entirely). But even IF you have a tire mounting machine to get the tire off and the stem/pressure monitor out, now you need a proprietary tool to teach your car's computer the serial number of the replaced sensor so it doesn't freak out about it.

This is progress.

I think I lost my original train of thought. Maybe I'll just go back to riding my bicycle.

Comment Re:Hyperbole (Score 3, Insightful) 672

There are, will be, and always will be quality control issues as manufacturers try to race each other to the bottom on cutting corners and therefore costs. Recall, not long ago, that brand new Chevy Sonics were leaving the factory missing brake pads. (The Chevy Sonic itself, a rebadged second-generation Aveo/Daewoo Kalos that is already notorious for having a laughably flimsy "new, revolutionary!" type of paint job, and is also a proven unreliable engine and drivetrain platform.)

Until very recently, the Dodge Neon/PT Cruiser combo was probably the single lowest quality modern production automobile ever produced, and it is a boon to motorists everywhere that the entire platform finally aged enough that it got the ax. Now, at least, you are less likely to be behind one of these things when it decides to blow its head off into the stratosphere and grind to a shuddering halt on the road ten feet in front of you.

Lousy cars are still out there, even brand spanking new ones. The only problem is, so many platforms are changing, being reinvented, or dropped in favor of completely new ones coming out that we don't know where they all are yet. The manufacturers, of course, all have their glossy print marketing machines going full tilt to convince you how wonderful ALL of their shiny new cars are, with their fancy new technology and brand new engine designs and computers and whatnot. Yes, gone are the days of flooding engines and sawdust in the transmission and all that 1950's bullshit, but new cars with their new technology can and will develop new types of problems that people are only just starting to discover. That's the price you pay for driving a fabulously complicated mass-produced piece of equipment every day in all types of conditions. Stuff will break. Some stuff will have unforeseen flaws, and break frequently. The only difference between now and cars of yesteryear is the parts that will produce lemons will be different (I predict lots of electronics/electrical problems, transmission issues for the zooty new million-speed automatics and CVT's, and the sudden availability of turbochargers demonstrating to American numbskulls that such things are not maintenance-free), and every time some issue pops up somebody will try to sue somebody else over it.

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