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Comment Re: So you use Radio instead, eh? (Score 1) 48

True. The ping frequency is low though (hundreds of ms between pings) which limits the modulation sidelobes, and even the initial banging on of the carrier at the beginning of each ping is fairly well bandpass filtered by the high Q of the transmitter. You can't hear a tag click/chirp/whatever if you hold it against your ear.

But if seals can detect upwards of 180khz as you're saying... Yeah, that's a problem.

Comment Re:So you use Radio instead, eh? (Score 1) 48

Going higher than 69KHz reduces the range of the tags, as higher frequencies are attenuated more in water. This means you'll need a more powerful tag (with size/battery life implications) or more deployed receivers to make the system work at a higher frequency.

The tags do produce harmonics at 138KHz/207KHz/onwards, but there's no distortion mechanism present that should allow frequencies lower than 69KHz to be created. There's no modulation done on the 69KHz carrier, the carrier is on/off keyed with time differences from one ping to the next being used to encode the tag's unique ID.

Comment Re:So you use Radio instead, eh? (Score 3, Informative) 48

Radio waves don't travel well underwater. You need stupidly low frequencies like those used for submarine communication, and you won't be able to generate those frequencies from an object that's a few cm long which means you're stuck with acoustic methods. The tags in question operate at 69KHz, which as far as I know is outside the hearing range of seals - this article makes me wonder though, I've got it bookmarked and I'll give the underlying paper a good read when I've got the time.

I'm actually an engineer at the company that makes the tags in question. We're hardly a huge corporation (100 people) and we don't have the financial clout or even any obvious reason to bankroll corrupt science - we just make scientific gear that helps scientists do their science. I wouldn't consider us to be much different from a company that makes lab coats or glassware.

Comment Streisand effect! (Score 1) 273

Funny. Yesterday we had a couple of modules come in for our MDO3K series scopes, and a co-worker and I were hypothesizing about what's in the modules. We concluded they were probably using smartcard IC's, because after all you're selling these things to engineers - people who would be smart enough to break the system if you did something cheap like a TWI EEPROM.


Thanks to this DMCA takedown, and the attention it brought, we'll be breaking out the Bus Pirate. You won't need a smartcard connector or custom PCB - a half dozen pogo pins on protoboard will do the job just fine.

Comment Re:Modern audiophiles are no different. (Score 1) 469

Given selected music with characteristics that make a MP3 encoder generate artifacts, a good playback system, a set of headphones with good treble reproduction, and a quiet environment, I can consistently point out the difference between the uncompressed music and a 256kbps CBR MP3 made from it by carefully listening for specific artifacts.

With the majority of music in the majority of listening environments, well-encoded lossy audio content isn't noticeable. But on rare occasions it is - and I don't believe accepting that fact makes me a green-marker-in-hand audiophile.

Comment Re:Why not? (Score 1) 147

Why not?

- Requires extra machinery/infrastructure to be installed at the HD plant
- Expense of buying helium
- Expense of other drive changes required to support helium (better sealing, etc)
- Expense of licensing existing patents on helium filled drives and their manufacture.

Or perhaps they're just busy validating new drive models and their assembly line, and they'll be shipping helium filled drives shortly...

Comment Playin' a bunch of old games. (Score 1) 669

Lately I've been playing a bunch of old games, using new source ports/engines, eg:

- Duke Nukem 3D (using eduke3d engine + high resolution pack)
- Descent series (using DXX-Rebirth engine)
- Doom/Doom2 (using zdoom + high res texture pack)

I've got a never-ending fondness for these old games, and the new engines allow for an enjoyable gameplay experience - 320x200 on a 14" CRT back in the day was acceptable, not so much on a modern LCD. I can't give enough thanks to the people who run these projects.

Comment Re:A car refurbishment industry (Score 1) 368

My VW specialist mechanic buys older VWs, overhauls them, puts in modern engines and sells them for a nice profit. Eurovans/Wesfalias primarily, also MK1 Rabbits, MK2 golfs/jettas, caddies, etc. He can't keep up with demand.

Though, I do believe VW enthusiasts are more likely to go for such a thing - I can't see someone spending several $K getting their pontiac sunfire rebuilt.

Comment Re:Regulations a bit premature (Score 2) 1146

Don't buy your CFLs from a retail store. Find a local industrial supplier (eg, Grainger) that sells GE or Osram/Sylvania professional bulbs and go with them. Pick some part #s off the manufacturer websites to have ready when you walk in.

My house is full of GE FLE10HT2/2/827 CFLs, 40W equivalents that pull 10W. 2700K color temperature so their light output is easy on the eyes, and they've got a rated 12000 hour lifetime that I believe - I bought this house 6 years ago and bought a case of these bulbs to replace the existing incandescent bulbs, most of those bulbs are still in place. Indoors, they start up with about 1/4 second of lag and don't have any noticeable warmup period.

I swear by 'em. When LEDs come down to the same price I'll switch over, but I'll stick with CFLs for the time being.

Comment Things I've used them for.. (Score 1) 246

- SSH to serial converter. Plug a couple of USB-RS232 cables into the Pi, plug them into serial consoles on servers/industrial equipment/whatever, and you no longer have to crouch behind a rack with a laptop whenever you need to monitor/control stuff.
- Print server for a USB laser printer
- NAS/backup machine/torrent downloader/etc
- New guts for a broken NES.

I'm sure the closed-source GPU and ARM11 CPU offend some people, but hey, it gets the job done in places I've stuffed it.

Comment Re:Sounds Expensive (Score 1) 108

Even the highest end Virtex can't touch one of AMD/nVidia's ASICs for 3D rendering, but that isn't the target market for this design.

Here's an evaluation board for a low end FPGA chip, emulating a full 80186 PC including CPU, BIOS, keyboard controller, and VGA video:


The Cyclone II on that card is several years old, a modern equivalent of the FPGA is about $12. Now if you haul the x86 and everything else out, you've got plenty of room freed up to enhance up that VGA controller into something more modern. That's what they're going for here.

Comment This isn't "screw customers", this is "screw HDMI" (Score 5, Interesting) 256

If AMD put HDMI ports on their video card, they'd have to pay licensing/royalty fees to HDMI Licensing, LLC. By only putting DVI connectors on their video cards, ATI doesn't have to pay the fee. But for the small percentage of customers who *want* HDMI, they sell the adapter and pay for the licensing costs with that instead. Since they sell far fewer adapters than cards obviously, the overall license fees paid become much less.

Presumably the EEPROM is in there because the HDMI Licensing lawyers aren't complete idiots, and required the card to make sure the adapter is licensed. Tossing a 10-cent 24LC01 or something in there with a magic byte on it probably didn't break the bank.

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