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Comment Re:Microsoft...why couldn't they do this? (Score 1) 218

Yep. Apple is much worse in this respect. My 2006 Mac Pro had processing power and memory that is still on par, or better than, the current Mac mini once you upgrade the video card. But Apple stopped supporting new OS versions on it, which quickly renders the whole Apple ecosystem defunct. You can't update iTunes, so then you can't sync a new iPhone, for example. And finding compatible browsers starts to be an issue too, as new software for OSX tends to just not run on older OSes. I had to resort to end-user hacks to load the modern OS on it, but when I did, it worked very nicely.

The irony is that the most straightforward solution to the iTunes problem is to install Windows on it. Even Windows 10 is perfectly fine with the older hardware, and happily runs the newest version of iTunes.


Comment Re: CueCat all over again (Score 2) 191

Caller id is simple and just works. And when it fails, it just says unknown number and you have to pick up the call to find out who it is or let it go to voice mail. Home automation is a rube-goldberg machine that is a lot of fun if you like building and maintaining rube goldberg machines -- but its not practical and it frequently fails in pretty spectacular ways.

I've had a Z-wave HA system going for around 8 years. It is like caller ID - if the controller fails, I revert to using the wall switches. Z-wave can be a bit finicky to set up initially but the only real failure modes I've had are dead switches, which I've had actually more of with my bath fan timers that are not part of the HA system. I've had zero problems with door locks. They're great not because I can "unlock it with my phone", but because it makes managing the entry codes easy (example: give a temporary code to a contractor), and because they can alert you when someone punches in a code.

I will say having lighting control is on the overrated side. I find that's mostly only valuable when switches aren't convenient to reach. The one I use most often is the back patio light, because I generally don't notice I've left it on until I'm upstairs and about ready to go to bed, and the dog has finally settled down, etc.

HA made my in-ground hot tub experience a whole lot better. There's a filter pump, a heater, and light, and a water filler valve. The controls for all of these things were in separate and very hard to reach places, and the old mechanical timer used to "conflict" with the heater when I wanted to heat it during its normal filter schedule. Now they're all lined up on one page on my smartphone. And now that I've connected my system to HomeKit via HomeBridge, I can even ask Siri to turn the light on hands free if I'm in the tub and it gets dark out.

I haven't seen a "spectacular" HA failure since the old X10 days, when noise in your power line might trigger every HA-connected light switch to turn on. :)

Comment Re:We're all programming in Machine Code (Score 1) 286

I beg to differ: it IS bad. Because when you read a+b, you have NO idea what may be happening

I beg to differ with you!

If you see the function add(a, b), you have NO idea what may be happening. And this applies to ALL the functions. In C++ a+b simply means operator+ IOW it's a function with a funny syntax just like any other.

Not true. In C, if I see "a+b", I generally know that I'm getting the time-tested and well understood behavior of the compiler adding two numbers together. If I see "add(a,b)", I know that something more complex may be happening, and that if I need to know more, I should go look up the source or documentation for the add(x, y) function.

I understand the potential readability benefit of operator overloading, but I've never liked the cost of making known compiler behavior ambiguous.

Comment Re:I always thought (Score 3, Interesting) 112

> Apple watch was a solution looking for a problem that doesn't exist.
> Now, if the device was truly stand alone, that's one thing, but needing to pair it up with an iPhone makes it far less interesting.

Its primary benefit is reducing the amount of times you need to pull your phone out of your pocket. If you don't care about the phone integration there are a lot of regular watches that do "being a watch" better. I never wore a regular watch, though. I have no need for it.

I bought my Apple Watch primarily because I'm at the gym doing fitness classes a lot. My phone is usually away from me in my gym bag. I would sometimes be unreachable for 1-2 hours at a time. The watch solves that problem for me nicely.

Comment Re:Networked light bulbs are useless and stupid (Score 2) 50

Old fashioned dimmers required a dimmer switch. Making a dimmer switch that could use some sort of powerline comms to send 3 integers (RGB) from switch to bulb to control hue and brightness would be utterly trivial. No new cabling required, just install a new dimmer switch and the bulb and you're done.

Have you ever used X10 / Insteon? PLC sounds good until you try to use it. Half the house is on different phases so you have trouble getting everything on the network. Then you also get issues with power strips consuming the signals, things generating interference, etc.

I'm really not a big fan of wireless either, but in practice Z-wave works a lot better.

Comment Re:BlueTooth to 3.5mm converter (Score 1) 761

The AirPods are a product similar to the PowerBeats bluetooth earbuds, which are not cheap either. They have little to do with the removal of the 3.5mm jack. "Regular" earpods with a lightning connector are included. A 3.5mm to lightning adapter is also included.

I'm hoping this "W1" chip has better sound quality and lower audio latency than Bluetooth audio. You cannot play games with the PowerBeats earbuds, and the standard bluetooth audio codecs have atrocious quality.

Comment Re:Well duh. (Score 1) 67

It's nice to be able to scroll through your contacts and dial someone on the car's UI as opposed to having to use voice dialing or look at the phone's screen (especially for names that voice recognition has trouble getting right). I agree though, it's all more complicated than it needs to be.

A lot of cars don't support using the voice input function of the phone (e.g. Siri). So they need your contacts for the voice dialing via the car's recognition capability. Once Siri hit the mainstream, I found it amusing how auto manufacturers were touting "Siri support", as if they had to do anything other than support the basic bluetooth action button, which could activate Siri on my most ancient bluetooth headset.

Comment Re:Not News (Score 2) 72

This is true even of over the air digital TV. A digital signal has to buffer to the next I-Frame before it will start playing, and will never change as fast as an old analog TV. TWC might have worse delay than usual depending on their multicast / unicast setup and whether they are using D servers for quick channel change and where those D servers are located.

You should check out AT&T U-verse IPTV (sometime before it goes away completely in favor of the DirecTV). They somehow figured out a way to do digital channel changing that's nearly as fast as analog cable. The picture quality wasn't the greatest due to bandwidth limitations, but the channel changing speed was surprisingly impressive, especially since it was having to join multicast streams from external servers.

Comment Re:Facebook (Score 1) 26

> Facebook messenger app - why the fuck is that separate?
> Literally, it's quicker and easier to load up Chrome on my phone and do Facebook from there.

I used to feel the same, but I think you just answered your own question. By keeping Facebook Messenger as it's own independent thing, people can more easily use it as their primary "chatting" platform without a lot of bloat. Need to send a message? The icon to take you there can be right on your phone's home screen, and you don't need to wade through FB's "news feed" while trying to get there. As a separate app it's barely more work than using the phone's built in SMS tool.

Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 137

Why would someone let your employer monitor YOUR iphone? I could see if they supplied it but not if it is mine.

Typically because you want access to email and meeting schedules, but don't want to carry around two devices. At least at the last 3 big companies I worked for, they allow you to bring your own device, but the email gateways require you to allow the company to manage the phone so your email is protected by their security policies.


Comment Re:The greatest W95 legacy is spread of medicority (Score 4, Insightful) 354

That's exactly what I don't miss. Regular people aren't power users. They just want things to work. If the included feature set is so deficient that they have to rely on third party software, it's more stuff they have to learn, and more work for those who help them to support.

In the DOS days I used to use Norton Commander. I felt blind without it. I'd go to work and my boss would ask to look at something on his machine, and he was an XTreeProGold guy. OK, it's a great program too, but it's like we spoke different languages. To use someone else's machine, there was always some learning curve to figure out THEIR "bag of tricks". These days I can get most everything done with the tools included with Windows. I don't want to have to rely on some "vibrant marketplace", everything I really need is consistently included on any Windows machine I touch.

Power users are a different breed. Linux seems to offer exactly that "vibrant", choice-filled competitive atmosphere you're looking for. Seems like an OS that would fit you better.

Comment Re: 15? (Score 4, Informative) 354

The key difference is that Windows 95 did not use DOS to access the hard drive. It had its own 32 bit disk manager. DOS's file access provisions went dormant once the system booted as long as an appropriate driver was available. If no driver was available, you'd have an exclamation point in control panel, and very bad performance. Fraxinus is spot on - DOS was still there, but was relegated to being a bootloader and recovery console.

Comment Re:The problem... (Score 4, Interesting) 195

My new car has exactly that feature. If a car ahead of me stops abruptly, it flashes a red car on the HUD well in advance. The timing is the key, the couple of times it has happened, the car "saw" the obstacle VERY early, giving me plenty of time to stop. It happens very rarely, such that if that warning is up, you know it's important to be alert. It's pretty intuitive and really doesn't distract as it's complementary to what I've hopefully already been looking at. It's also small and low in your field of view, so it doesn't block your view of traffic. The car will also apply the brakes itself to avoid a crash.

TFA shows a red car with a green arrow directing the driver to go around. I can definitely see how that might be too much in an emergency situation, particularly if you aren't trained on how to interpret and respond to that alert. My "red car icon" is more of a "HEY! WAKE UP!" and mostly leaves the avoidance decisions up to me. I could see more complex HUD alerts like in the TFA also being beneficial, but requiring training, so less time is needed to understand and react to the alert.

I don't think TFA's controlled tests are representative enough of how mature drivers drive. We practically drive on auto-pilot most of the time. The alerts are really helpful at getting you to focus when you need to, if your mind wanders a bit because you're making the same drive you've driven hundreds times before.

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