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* Posts by Charles 9

3472 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

CURSE you, EINSTEIN! Humanity still chained in relativistic PRISON

Charles 9
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Re: Stupid question

Imagine if you will the venerable Saturn V rocket on the verge of takeoff. The rockets at the bottom fire and start pushing up the bottom of the rocket. However, the top of the rocket does not react momentarily. For that instant, the rocket compresses and propagates up the height of the rocket until the top start moving.

A similar thing can be observed with the humble Slinky. There is an El Reg article about a Slinky experiment that discusses the phenomenon at length.

Basically put, nothing in the universe is perfectly rigid. Apply a force at one end of the rod and, instead of the whole rod moving at once, the rod will compress at that end, and a compression wave will run down the length of the rod at subuminar speed. The other end won't react immediately because of this.

Incidentally, this compression phenomenon exists regardless of friction, as it can also occur in space where friction is as close to zero as we can get it.

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White House backs US web sales tax - eBay hits panic alarm

Charles 9
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Re: Nightmare.

"In all seriousnous, I don't see the calculations as insurmountable. And from the sound of it some businesses should be doing this anyway for non-internet sales. Awkward yes, and the complexity even if it was only a state level must be... well quite complex - I've forgotten how to do combinations and factorials. But should be possible to code a cheapish app for the job, the trick would be getting the underlying tax rates and locations without paying for access to other people's databases."

The problem is that there are further complications. Consider tax exemptions. For example, Virginia does not tax medicines, but the definition of medicine isn't entirely clear. A bottle of aspirin is generally a yes while an energy shot (also in the medicine aisle) is generally a no, but what about a non-pharmaceutical pain reliever? Then you have tax holidays, which can shift from year to year and may not apply from one year to the next, and they usually have item qualifications of their own.

So how can one make a concrete set of rules for taxation when it's not even clear what is subject to taxation? And as for the feds, there's a strong push against a federal sales/consumption tax of any sort (they considered it a century ago and rejected it--too much subversion potential)--a VAT would be considered a consumption tax, which most people are against.

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Charles 9
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Except the federal government isn't interested in a unified sales or consumption tax. They talked about a century ago and determined it's too prone to corruption and subversion. Some of the problems with sales taxes involve preventing black markets appearing that don't keep records. Value-Added Taxing tends to prevent this because the taxing occurs at wholesale levels rather than at retail but it has its own foibles.

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Charles 9
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I would think your multiple-company would be construed as subsidiaries and they would go after the company behind them all. OR, if one folds and another rises, they could say the new company assumes the tax liabilities of the old (a common condition of acquiring a going concern), so they accumulate regardless.

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Charles 9
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Re: God I hate politicians...

The balance between sales and income taxes generally depends on the type of business that is predominant in a state.

For examples, states with high levels of tourism or other "imported" customers (think Florida, Tenessee, and Nevada--both have no income tax but high sales tax) tend to favor sales taxes and the like over income taxes because they're better at capturing money from the out-of-state tourists who don't work there (and therefore don't make income they can tax).

OTOH, states with a high concentration of business (like Delaware) will tend to favor income taxes over sales taxes. Low or no sales taxes (Delaware has no sales tax) lower the cost of living and attract people to work in their state, where they make the income they can then tax; it works for them because brick-and-mortar businesses and hubs are more difficult to relocate.

New York is a very interesting case. It's one of the few places that has BOTH tourism and big business, so it has some of the highest sales AND income taxes in the country (not to mention some of the most coveted land in the country in Manhattan--high demand and low supply spikes prices). California (similar) comes in second.

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Charles 9
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Re: God I hate politicians...@Charles 9

@FutureShock999

We've tried that system before in the US. We called ours Service Merchandise. They had showrooms and everything, but ALL orders went by their terminals which they affectionately called "Silent Sam". You then went to the pickup counters to get your products. It went under in the late 90's, a victim of the dot-com boom and the big-boxes.

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Charles 9
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Re: Sales Tax

But that gives an edge to states like Oregon, Montana, Delaware, and New Hampshire (maybe not Alaska--too far away). These states have NO sales tax (they get their revenues other ways).

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Charles 9
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Re: @Kevin 6..

"If we want to make everything a level field maybe they should also make all brick & mortar shops box everything, charge you shipping, and make you wait a few days before you can have your item."

They already do. It's called a SPECIAL ORDER.

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Charles 9
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Re: God I hate politicians...

I believe that is THE EXACT IDEA. They want people to shop more on Main Street than e-Street: support LOCAL businesses instead.

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Guess who PC-slaying tablets are killing next? Keyboard biz Logitech

Charles 9
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Re: Don't mention Squeezebox or Ultimate Ears

I have a K400 myself, and I move it around from place to place. It works well for PCs and for my Samsung Smart TV. When it comes to the Pi, though, it's hit or miss. I suspect this is more to do with power constraints. I'll give it a try against a self-powered hub and see if it works better. AFAICT, any problems with the device stem more from compatibility issues than the device itself.

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Black-eyed Pies reel from BeagleBoard's $45 Linux micro blow

Charles 9
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Re: I'll see your ARM core and raise you a SATA port. ;-)

Point taken, but at the same time using the CPU as a gatekeeper helps to block potential memory exploits. FireWire has better throughput because of Direct Memory Access, but it also opens the door to potential memory exploits (and since FireWare was two-way you had to allow two-way access to the memory). Looks like a hard one to solve: place a gatekeeper and you lose the speed and efficiency advantages; don't and you risk memory exploits.

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Charles 9
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I suspect voltage incompatibilities play into this. A good number of PoE setups use splitters at the device end in any event. Either device could employ PoE with help from a splitter.

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Charles 9
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"There are also a LOT of very cheap Android stick / boxes powered by the likes of the Allwinner A10, A20, A31. Since XBMC is on Android now, there is a chance that these could be viable platforms for people who want to play media. What would be lacking is the community support."

I've given Android XBMC a try. Last I checked, its graphics support needs work. It was chugging on my Galaxy Tab 7.0+ (no slouch--1.2GHz dual-core Exynos and Mali 400MP GPU).

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Charles 9
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Re: Wonder if it will fit in an altoids tin?

If the Pi is anything to go by, it's probably just a bit too big (too wide, mainly--an Altoid tin by my reckoning measures only about 2" even).

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Peak Apple: First 'profit slip' in a decade - and, boy, it's gonna be BIG

Charles 9
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That's how the article and myself put it. Apple suffered a rare thing for it: it "misfired," as I put it. It's GOING to have a setback as a result, no doubt. Now the big question is if Apple can recover from the setback. The next iPhone needs to be really, REALLY good to get a full rebound. Otherwise, with Samsung on the verge of releasing the Galaxy SIV with tons of goodies (But beware of the steep price tag!), it's more likely to be a slog.

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Securing the Internet of Things - or how light bulbs can spy on you

Charles 9
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Re: ahem

I'm wondering if he's referring to a WhisperNet as used by the classic Kindle line. It was tolerated because they didn't use a whole lot of data, so Amazon footed the bill. Thing is, cell coverage is not universal and more limited in indoor settings, plus so many devices may leave cell providers scratching their heads.

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Google tells Microsoft IE shops: We can help you with those 'legacy apps'

Charles 9
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Uh, what about running the legacy browser from a VC which can then be given additional hardening from the hypervisor level? Is something preventing this like cost considerations and/or resource constraints?

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Eerie satnav boffinry claims it can predict THE FUTURE

Charles 9
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Re: Yet another one of those systems

People must be really dead-set about their cars if they insist on driving there instead of parking outside, opting to avoid town centers ALTOGETHER. I mean, it's understandable if you're going to a big-box with intent to buy a lot (the big concern is getting everything home), but I don't think that's the norm for places like this.

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Charles 9
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Re: So in your worldview, anyone with a nice car is an arse

"I drive a Ford Focus, and it's an ok car, not good though. The design is way to "SUV" like. The hight to the window is at least 5 cm too high. A way for car makers to make you feel more secure, the less you see of the road close to you the more secure you feel, you don't get the feeling of what speed you actually drive. The height to the roof is 5-10 cm too high."

You've just drawn my attention to that car. See, my problem is the opposite. I'm TOO TALL, so unless I'm in a bigger vehicle like an SUV, my head is constantly against the ceiling, and I prefer driving upright because that raises my attention (leaning back tends to lull me).

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Charles 9
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I don't know. I don't think any vehicle with two wheels would have much hope against a vehicle with EIGHTEEN wheels.

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Charles 9
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Re: Flaw in theory...

"- There's no such thing as a safe electric shock that's large enough to be felt, especially STRAIGHT ACROSS YOUR HEART, from hand to hand. Hell hath no fury like the deluge of lawsuits sparked by (relatives of) people with and without pacemakers who would die / have a heart episode caused by one of the shocks..."

Actually, there are scientific measurements of the effects of electric current on people. It takes about 1mA of current for us to even sense its presence (the point where we start to feel the tingle). As long as the current stays below 5mA, you can feel the shock and it can hurt, but little would come of it. There are actually toys that deliver these levels of shock. Start to climb a bit higher (say, to the 10-20mA range), and you get to tazer levels. They hurt, and they'll cause you to spasm, but since the shock is delivered to the exterior muscles, the heart generally gets bypassed (the current will follow the outer skeletal muscles instead). It's only when you climb above 30mA that you start getting into serious life-threatening shocks.

As for pacemakers, the outer cases are usually metal and act as a shield, so a shock will tend to wrap around it (it's designed this way to be able to take the shock from a defibrillator).

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Charles 9
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Re: Flaw in theory...

And how would the current be delivered, given the average car seat is nonmetallic, as are the layers of clothing around said privates? I don't think anyone would be interested in a car seat with taser prongs built into it...unless you were of the kinky type that actually got off on that kind of stuff (another potential problem).

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Charles 9
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Re: Data mining

1. The car does know who you are, not only by way of things like transponder keys but also by the GPS record of your driving (and the car MUST have GPS to perform navigation), which other boffins have shown to be as distinctive as fingerprints given enough data.

2. The car and the phone talk to each other. That's how its pedestrian guidance works, via an app.

3. ANYTHING for an edge in a competitive neighborhood or industry. Just watch.

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Charles 9
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Re: 10 seconds???

The problem with the two second rule is that's more than a vehicle length. What inevitably happens is that someone else slips into the gap, forcing you to establish a NEW two-second gap...which in turn gets filled by another car, and so on.

I honestly think that's the main reason people don't obey the two-second rule--they're afraid of other cars cutting in.

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US House of Representatives passes CISPA by 288-127

Charles 9
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At least the vote isn't veto-proof.

The vote as taken is two shy of the 2/3 majority needed to enact CISPA over a presidential veto. Let's see where the Senate goes on this first. If the Senate does not pass CISPA as written by the House, the conference committee will kick in which will forge a compromise bill that will require a revote.

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Smart metering will disrupt weather forecasts, warns Met Office

Charles 9
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Re: No, no, no! 'Smart Meter' are not, they are RFI bombs!

Umm, do you faraday cage your residence as well, given the ubiquity of radio transmissions that, by your terms, are RFI pollution as well? Even if you don't employ them, they're still there. Then there are the transmission lines, which are also known to emit EM radiation (natural byproduct of running electricity down a metal wire). Then going down to the internal wiring in your residence, which would be hard to block since they're the source of power for your internal appliances.

I mean, if we really WERE that sensitive to EMI/RFI, then we'd become a blubbering mess every time the Sun decided to belch our way.

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Charles 9
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Re: Alternative

The trouble is that while it may be YOUR house, it's THEIR power and THEIR meter. Their rules IOW unless you want to go off the grid.

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Logitech launches MEGA-PRICEY 15-in-1 remote

Charles 9
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Re: Really?

Thankfully, the Harmony line is very broad and has a huge range of remotes ranging from very basic ones for three devices on up. I personally own a couple of four-function ones. The one on display here is likely just their new top-end. I've also seen the Harmony Hub and gave it a pass as overkill for my needs.

My only beef is the need to register and connect to program the remote, but then again, this is what keeps their control database updated so easily (a common beef with universals as new devices come in).

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Netflix plotting move to HTML5 video - but only if DRM works

Charles 9
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Re: anti-piracy ads

"You wouldn't download a car would you?".

No, but what if I REPLICATE it instead? How do you answer that, copyright cops?

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Charles 9
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Maybe it's because I have NoScript installed, but I haven't seen a site that blocks the right button. I wonder if sites will begin trying to detect the presence of NoScript or forcing a bypass by incorporating the click-block into a block of essential-to-the-site scripts you have to allow to function.

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Charles 9
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Re: We want to BUT....

Adding a non-free program blob is considered tainting the disto, so you can't install it unless a conscious direct choice is made to install it (like the checkbox you make for the non-free codecs or the configuration option to install non-free video drivers).

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Charles 9
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Re: the one thing that we are doing right now, which is to go global.

So why not just get an overreaching global license directly from the content creators, going over the heads of the individual regional licensees, unless you're saying each licensee's contract includes an exclusivity clause?

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Charles 9
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Re: @Tom 7

And even that isn't guaranteed, given the propensity of shill accounts and the continual development of stego/watermark manglers.

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Bitcoins: A GIANT BUBBLE? Maybe, but currency could still be worthwhile

Charles 9
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Re: Worthwhile for Whom?

How would this proceed when Bitcoin has no "headquarters" to speak of and transactions can easily take place outside government reach, thanks to its built in anonymity measures?

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Charles 9
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Bitcoin uses the same algorithms governments use to keep state secrets and the like. Trust me, if they break the algorithms behind Bitcoin, they'll have much better uses for the information. As for hacking Mt. Gox and the like, this is more like a bank robbery or the hack of a real bank. It can happen anywhere, with any currency. Bitcoin just gets the press because it's not tied to a government.

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Charles 9
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Re: A finite calculable resource [like] gold/precious metals -- NOT

You can say the same things about a nonmetallic brick. Value is in the eye of the beholder, and intangible things can have value. What is the value of a secret state document, for example? Or a company's private encryption key? Or even the bank notes in your wallet right now (nearly all currencies worth mentioning are fiat and not tied to anything physical)?

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Half of US smartphone owners have no idea which mobe to buy next

Charles 9
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Re: What's the motivation?

It depends. If your phone is starting to get a bit long in the tooth (as is mine), then you start to make considerations. I'm currently trending towards the Galaxy S IV, but I won't commit without some more data and preferably some hands-on time on the device. I also want to see if other makers will respond to this with comparable devices (sorry, HTC, but no removable battery is a deal-breaker for me for the One).

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News Corp prez threatens to pull Fox TV off the air

Charles 9
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Re: Of course.....

It's a trade-off. If they don't charge the cable companies, then they can COMPEL the cable companies to carry their stations (the "Must-Carry" rule). That rule can't be used if they insist on a carry agreement (the kind that cable companies have to pay).

As for the cable box, most of them are built by big names (think Motorola), and I'm pretty sure the Big Boys put pressure on them NOT to add aerial ports (Digital Satellite Boxes originally HAD to have them because there wasn't bandwidth enough for all the local stations; once the room was made, out went the aerial port).

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Netbooks projected to become EXTINCT by 2015

Charles 9
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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

Correction: Only the NETBOOK could handle the external hard drives.

PS. El Reg, PLEASE consider an Edit button.

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Charles 9
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Re: I'm Surprised They Lasted This Long

On a recent trip, I had both and found the netbook more useful than the tablet. For one thing, only the tablet could handle the external hard drives (which were TrueCrypted, so the tablet couldn't read them). Even when it came to videos, it was just easier to handle. It was unbeatable for web browsing. Plus it had a switchable battery, so I kitted it with a triple-capacity battery, so it had plenty of legs even in places where outlets were few and far between.

Oh, it had one key advantage over a full-fat laptop. You didn't have to take it out at the security checkpoints.

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Winklevoss twins claim to have enormo $11m Bitcoin stash

Charles 9
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Re: You cant eat or drink..

Well, compared to one big entity you have a bunch of little entities, each of which backs up the system (each client keeps a copy of the block chain--the BtC version of the public ledger--as well as performs verifications on other people's transactions). So as long as there are plenty of players in the game, the currency can still hold.

As for other e-currencies joining in, so what? Dollars, Pounds Sterling, Yen, and Euros all coexist and are cross-traded. Why can't more than two or more e-currencies co-exist?

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Charles 9
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Re: You cant eat or drink..

Hey, you can't eat or drink REAL coins, either. And most of our coins are made of base metals, so it's not like they have any intrinsic value in them, either.

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WTF is... H.265 aka HEVC?

Charles 9
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Re: The ear is more fickle than the eye

But one needs to be careful because our eyes are more perceptive regarding matters of contrast. That's why even very brief flickers of images (Wasn't that military test in the neighborhood of 1/200th of a second?) register in our eyes if they contrast enough. Though IIRC the fundamental codecs and algorithms work off contrasts, so this may not be a tremendous issue.

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Charles 9
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Re: I've seen it working, and I liked it

Just out of curiosity, what was the content of that 2k x 2k video loop? Content has a significant effect on encode and eventual playback quality, so knowing what was playing will give us a better idea on just how well it's coming.

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Charles 9
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Re: hevc facts

That's probably why the hardware makers were part of the conversation. They know the portable market will be key to mass adoption (as it was for H.264). The emphasis on multicore processing shows they know where computing is going (more CPU cores and the mass parallelism of GPUs) and are taking that into consideration. I'll see where this goes as well as VP9 to see if it provides honest competition.

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Charles 9
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Re: H.264 and WebM

Maybe, but perhaps that was more because WebM was late to the game. This time around, Google has a chance to steal the march on H.265 by being first. Suppose, before H.265 is released, Google releases Android 5 KLP with built-in VP9 support, maybe even backports the support to JB and/or ICS. Suddenly, you got a mass of devices with support ready to go. These should also make all those VP8-encoded YouTube videos readily available to them. Now you've got some pressure.

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Charles 9
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Re: All those pretty words and not a single mention of WebM

VP8 was just too late into the game. By the time it came out, everyone had already settled on AVC. For Google to get VP9 into this generation's game, it needs to beat H.265 to the punch, probably by adding support for it into Android, and sooner rather than later (meaning rather than wait for Key Lime Pie, incorporate it as far back as possible, into Jelly Bean and maybe even ICS). Doing that will provide a mass of support that will get the content creators to support it more and get the embedded hardware makers on board.

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Oh S**T, here comes a ROBOT to take my JOB

Charles 9
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Re: made themselves unemployable, made poor decisions

It's like I said, a lottery. And many people have perfectly valid reasons for being unemployable. Move, you say? Great, what about your homebound mother who you're taking care of, has no other family, and refuses to move? Retrain? Fine...if I had the time and money to go back to school, which most people unceremoniously laid off DON'T since they were already at the paycheck-to-paycheck (if not day-to-day) level. And in every other place, it's an employer's market: full of desperate unemployed. And even there, more and more jobs are being taken up by cheap imports who willing work at starvation levels or by machines and computers who almost never "tire". Even the retail sector is feeling the effects with loading machines, automated ordering programs, and self-checkouts.

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Charles 9
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Childcatcher

Re: Patients?

But at the same time, what happens when global competition, increased efficiency, and so on simply results in there being no more jobs for the working people to fill? Businesses won't stand for the redundancy, but at the same time, families gotta eat. Plus, if anyone says leave them to their fate, they'll be immediately railed as inhumane. It's essentially a population control lottery. So you're caught between a rock and a hard place. Basic Income is unfair, but laissez-faire is inhumane.

It's like twelve survivors going after enough water for only six or so, and splitting the water won't help because then EVERYONE dehydrates.

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P2P badboys The Pirate Bay kicked out of Greenland: Took under 48 hours

Charles 9
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Re: Bay not Pirate

Um...you drop anchor at a port. A bay can be considered a natural place to put a port.

As for firing broadsides, they can be aimed at ports as well as other ships.

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