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Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Are Headphone Cables Designed To Fail Within Weeks Of Purchase? 3

dryriver writes: I'm a heavy headphone user. It doesn't matter what headphones I buy — Sony, Philips, Logitech you name it — the headphones typically fail to work properly within a few weeks of purchase. It is never the headphones/earbuds themselves that fail. It is always the part of the headphone cable where the small wires connect to the almost indestructible 3.5mm metal headphone jack. Result? Either the left or right ear audio cuts out and you need new headphones. Putting 1/2 a cent worth of extra rubber/plastic/metal around that part of the cable to strengthen it would likely fix the problem very effectively. The headphones would last for a year or even longer. But almost no manufacturer seems to do this. I keep trying new models and brands, and they all have the same "cable goes bad" problem — earbuds that came with a Sony MP3 player I bought developed the problem within 15 minutes of first use. My question to Slashdot: Do headphone manufacturers do this deliberately? Do they think "We'll sell 40% more headphones each year if the average pair doesn't last beyond 3 months of normal use" and engineer a deliberate weakness into the headphone cable? How can these major brands with all their product engineers not be able to strengthen the most obviously failure-prone part of the headphone cable a bit?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What Is The Best Place To Suggest A New Open Source Software? 1

dryriver writes: Somebody I know has been searching up and down the internet for an open source software that can apply GPU pixel shaders (HLSL/GLSL/Cg/SweetFX) to a video and save the result out to a video file. He came up with nothing. So I said "Why not petition the open source community to create such a tool?" His reply was "Where exactly does one go to ask for a new open source software?" So that is my question: Where on the internet can one best go to request that a new open source software tool that does not exist yet be developed? Or do open source tools only come into existence when someone — a coder — starts to build a software, opens the source, and invites other coders to join the fray?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: What Is Your View On 'Software As A Service' or SAAS?

dryriver writes: A lot of content creators or "digital creatives" using professional 3D, Video, Image Manipulation, VFX type software have recently been forced into accepting a mandatory SAAS or "Software As A Service" licensing model. What is SAAS? Basically, you cannot buy a perpetual license for software you use or a "Boxed Product" with install discs anymore. You can only "rent" the software on a monthly or yearly basis. The software goes online regularly to check whether you have "paid your rent for this month". The minute you stop paying, the software shuts itself off and refuses to run. When this happens, you cannot even open or view your old project files anymore. To open old files your created back in 2012, you need to re-rent the software. Software made by Autodesk and Adobe currently forces this SAAS model on all customers. You simply cannot buy professional DCC software like 3D Studio, Maya, Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects anymore. You can only "rent it". The software also doesn't run offline anymore. It needs to connect to internet servers regularly to perform a "license check". What is your view of "forced SAAS" licensing? Isn't it the equivalent of saying "Sorry, but you simply cannot buy or own a car/house anymore. You can only rent one from us for X dollars a month. When you stop paying your rent? Well, we just take the car/house away from you."?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why Did 3D TVs And Stereoscopic 3D Television Broadcasting Fail? 2

dryriver writes: Just a few years ago the future seemed bright for 3D TVs. The 3D film Avatar smashed all box office records. Every Hollywood Studio wanted to make big 3D films. The major TV set manufacturers from LG to Phillips to Panasonic all wanted in on the 3D TV action. A 3D disc format called BluRay 3D was agreed on. Sony went as far as putting free 3D TVs in popular Pubs in London to show Brits how cool watching Football ("Soccer" in the U.S.) in Stereo 3D is. Tens of millions of dollars of 3D TV related ads ran on TV stations across the world. 3D Televisions and 3D content was, simply put, the biggest show in town for a while as far as consumer electronics goes. Then the whole circus gradually collapsed — 3D TVs failed to sell well and create the multi-Billion Dollar profits anticipated. 3D@home failed to catch on with consumers. Shooting genuine Stereo 3D films (not "post conversions") proved to be expensive and technically challenging. BluRay 3D was only modestly successful. Even Nvidia's Stereo 3D solutions for PC gamers failed. What, in your opinion, went wrong? Were early 3D TV sets too highly priced? Were there too few 3D films and 3D TV stations available to watch (aka "The Content Problem")? Did people hate wearing active/passive plastic 3D glasses in the living room? Was the price of BluRay 3D films and BluRay 3D players set too high? Was there something wrong with the Stereo 3D effect the industry tried to popularize? Did too many people suffer 3D viewing related "headaches", "dizzyness", "eyesight problems" and similar? Was the then still quite new 1080HD 2D Television simply "good enough" for the average TV viewer? Another related question: If things went so wrong with 3D TVs, what guarantee is there that the new 3D VR/AR trend won't collapse along similar lines as well?

 

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Why Are Some Great Games Panned And Some Inferior Games Praised? (soldnersecretwars.de) 2

dryriver writes: A few years ago I bought a multiplayer war game called Soldner that I had never heard of before. (The game is entirely community maintained now and free to download and play at www.soldnersecretwars.de) The professional reviews completely and utterly destroyed Soldner — buggy, bad gameplay, no singleplayer mode, disappointing graphics, server problems and so on. For me and many other players who did give it a chance beyond the first 30 minutes, Soldner turned out to be THE most fun, addictive, varied, sattisfying and multi-featured multiplayer war game ever. It had innovative features that AAA titles like Battlefield and COD did not have at all at the time — fully destructible terrain, walls and buildings, cool physics on everything from jeeps flying off mountaintops to Apache helicopters crashing into Hercules transport aircraft, to dozens of trees being blown down by explosions and then blocking an incoming tank's way. Soldner took a patch or three to become fully stable, but then was just fun, fun, fun to play. So much freedom, so much cool stuff you can do in-game, so many options and gadgets you can play with. By contrast, the far, far simpler — but better looking — Battlefield, COD, Medal Of Honor, CounterStrike war games got all the critical praise, made the tens of millions in profit per release, became longstanding franchises and are, to this day, not half the fun to play that Soldner is. How does this happen? How does a title like Soldner that tried to do more new stuff than the other war games combined get trashed by every reviewer, and then far less innovative and fun to play war games like BF, COD, CS sell tens of millions of copies per release and get rave reviews all around?

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: Is Computing As Cool And Fun As It Once Was? 1

dryriver writes: I got together with old computer nerd friends the other day. All of us have been at it since the 8-bit / 1980s days of Amstrad, Atari, Commodore 64 type home computers. Everybody at the meeting agreed on one thing — computing is just not as cool and as much fun as it once was. One person lamented that computer games nowadays are tied to internet DRM like Steam, that some crucial DCC software is available to rent only now (e.g. Photoshop) and that many"basic freedoms" of the old-school computer nerd are increasingly disappearing. Another said that Windows 10's spyware aspects made him give up on his beloved PC platform and that he will use Linux and Android devices only from now on, using consoles to game on instead of a PC because of this. A third complained about zero privacy online, internet advertising, viruses, ransomware, hacking, crapware. I lamented that the hardware industry still hasn't given us anything resembling photorealistic realtime 3D graphics, and that the current VR trend arrived a full decade later than it should have. A point of general agreement was that big tech companies in particular don't treat computer users with enough respect anymore. What do Slashdotters think? Is computing still as cool and fun as it once was, or has something "become irreversibly lost" as computing evolved into a multi billion dollar global business?

Comment As Someone Actually In Turkey (Score 5, Informative) 83

Turkey is very far along on the way to becoming both a non-Democracy and a repressive Theocracy. After the ruling AK party forcibly turned about 90% of the country's mainstream media outlets into its mouthpieces over the years, tens of millions of secular Turks flocked to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to be able to talk to each other, to be able to get "unfiltered news", to be able to express themselves freely and to also openly criticize the direction the country is being dragged in. Now THAT too is being cracked down on. VPNs are currently non-functional in Turkey. If a website is blocked, you're not gonna find a way to access it anymore. Well known websites get blocked or slowed down all the time (last week Youtube and Twitter were quite often slow or inacessible). This, unfortunately, is what Turkey's future looks like. Few rights for people, very little self expression allowed (at least not without consequences), many bans on the internet, ideological pressure on all media outlets and citizens. That is the overall picture in Turkey, and it doesn't look like it will change anytime soon.

Submission + - Creepy Website IknowWhatYouDownload Makes Your Torrenting History Open To All (iknowwhatyoudownload.com) 2

dryriver writes: The highly invasive and possibly Russian owned and operated website http://iknowwhatyoudownload.co... immediately shows the bittorent download history for your IP address when you land on it. What's more, it also shows the torrenting history of any specific IP address you enter, and also of IP addresses similar to your's, so you can see what others near you — perhaps the nice neighbours in the house next door — have downloaded when they thought nobody was looking. Upon clicking on somebody else's IP link in my range, for example, I found that the person had downloaded a tremendous amount of Porn content of a certain rather embarrassing type in what they thought was the privacy of their own home. The website highlights XXX content in bright red on its download list, a feature that appears explicitly designed to embarrass people who torrent porn. There is also a nasty little "Track Downloads" feature that lets you send a "trick URL" to somebody else. When they click on the URL — thinking its something cool on Facebook, Twitter or the general internet — THEY see what they URL promised, but YOU get sent their entire torrenting history, including anything embarrassing or otherwise compromising content they may have downloaded in private. A website this malicious and invasive can only have been built by the big content producers to deter people from downloading piratedcontent methinks. The website appears to offer an API, customized download reports and more to interested parties in the hopes of generating big cash from making other people's torrenting activities public. I wonder how long it takes before some teenager commits suicide or similar because his school friends sent him a "trick URL" from this site that outed him/her as downloading gay porn or similar.

Submission + - Dinosaur Tail With Feathers Found Perfectly Preserved In Amber (bbc.com)

dryriver writes: The BBC reports: The tail of a feathered dinosaur has been found perfectly preserved in amber from Myanmar. The one-of-a-kind discovery helps put flesh on the bones of these extinct creatures, opening a new window on the biology of a group that dominated Earth for more than 160 million years. Examination of the specimen suggests the tail was chestnut brown on top and white on its underside. "This is the first time we've found dinosaur material preserved in amber," co-author Ryan McKellar, of the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Canada, told the BBC News website. Co-author Prof Mike Benton, from the University of Bristol, added: "It's amazing to see all the details of a dinosaur tail — the bones, flesh, skin, and feathers — and to imagine how this little fellow got his tail caught in the resin, and then presumably died because he could not wrestle free."

Submission + - Trump chooses Scott Pruitt, climate change denier, to head the EPA (theguardian.com)

Victor_0x53h writes: Scott Pruitt, attorney general of Oklahoma and a sceptic of climate science, has been chosen by Donald Trump as the next administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He is part of legal action waged by 28 states against the EPA to halt the Clean Power Plan, an effort by Barack Obama’s administration to curb greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and has sided with Exxon Mobil in investigations by the attorneys general in Massachusetts and New York over claims that it misled investors by covering up its knowledge of climate change.

Submission + - West Antarctic Ice Shelf Is Breaking Up From The Inside Out (phys.org)

dryriver writes: Phys.org reports: A key glacier in Antarctica is breaking apart from the inside out, suggesting that the ocean is weakening ice on the edges of the continent. The Pine Island Glacier, part of the ice shelf that bounds the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, is one of two glaciers that researchers believe are most likely to undergo rapid retreat, bringing more ice from the interior of the ice sheet to the ocean, where its melting would flood coastlines around the world. A nearly 225-square-mile iceberg broke off from the glacier in 2015, but it wasn't until Ohio State University researchers were testing some new image-processing software that they noticed something strange in satellite images taken before the event. "It's generally accepted that it's no longer a question of whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet will melt, it's a question of when," said study leader Ian Howat, associate professor of earth sciences at Ohio State. "This kind of rifting behavior provides another mechanism for rapid retreat of these glaciers, adding to the probability that we may see significant collapse of West Antarctica in our lifetimes."

Submission + - New PropOrNot Chrome Browser Extension Flags Russian Propaganda And Fake News (google.com)

dryriver writes: The website propornot.com (as in 'propaganda or not') has created an experimental Chrome browser extension that flags links on websites which originate from known Russian or pro-Russian-viewpoint propaganda or fake news sites with 3 red 'YYY' letters. The Chrome extension is a real eye opener — try installing it in Chrome, then browsing a website like rense.com, where the browser extension flags a massive number of news links with red YYYs. This, and similar digital tools, could be the beginning of internet browsers being able to warn users against propaganda and fake news content.

Submission + - NASA's Climate Research Is Set To Be Scrapped (theguardian.com)

dryriver writes: The Guardian reports: Donald Trump is poised to eliminate all climate change research conducted by Nasa as part of a crackdown on “politicized science”, his senior adviser on issues relating to the space agency has said. Nasa’s Earth science division is set to be stripped of funding in favor of exploration of deep space, with the president-elect having set a goal during the campaign to explore the entire solar system by the end of the century. This would mean the elimination of Nasa’s world-renowned research into temperature, ice, clouds and other climate phenomena. Kevin Trenberth, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, said as Nasa provides the scientific community with new instruments and techniques, the elimination of Earth sciences would be “a major setback if not devastating”.“It could put us back into the ‘dark ages’ of almost the pre-satellite era,” he said. “It would be extremely short sighted".

Submission + - Sony accused of censoring negative feedback on its Bravia TVs ahead of Black Fri (ibtimes.co.uk)

An anonymous reader writes: Disgruntled owners of Sony's Bravia televisions have accused the company of "censoring" its community forums by preventing users from reporting technical issues. Users on Reddit say the company has locked threads containing complaints about its 4K televisions to suppress negative feedback in the run-up to the high-spending season.

One of the threads removed by Sony contained 90 pages-worth of reports of input lag issues affecting its 2016 line of ultra-high definition (UHD) Bravia sets. The thread is titled, "Buyers beware, it looks almost the entire 4K 'HDR capable' TV line up from Sony are trash for 4K and HDR gaming" and clicking on the link now brings up an empty page with the error message: "the topic you are trying to access is not available."

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