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* Posts by Charles 9

3554 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

USB reversible cables could become standard sooner than you think

Charles 9
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It's extremely difficult to make a coaxial plug electrically safe. You can get away with a headphone jack due to the low power involved. One of the design aspects of USB is that earth is always the first to connect.

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Windows XP is finally DEAD, right? Er, not quite. Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

Charles 9
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Re: Here's what to do if you're stuck with it

The problem ISN'T fear of malware and such. THAT can be alleviated with a backup regimen.

The REAL problem is EOL'd hardware support. The example I gave noted that XP was the last Microsoft OS to support the ISA. The firm isn't worried about a bug; they're worried the ISA controller gives up the ghost since it can no longer be replaced. If that board goes, the entire CnC (which is a specialist machine full of proprietary trade secrets; therefore, nothing about it is public) would have to be replaced just because of that one controller. Because no machine beyond XP supports ISA, and since the controller is proprietary, it can't be virtualized, so just replacing the computer is not an option.

Thing is, IT lifecycles and industrial machine lifecycles differ by scale of about 10:1. Industrial machines typically run for decades, but the computers and software that control them aren't designed to work that long--their industry moves too fast to allow for building something with a 30-year working life. Another thing is that these industrial machines are expensive. It's their long working lives that make the investments worth it since the cost can be amortized over that long period. Short-lived controller computers are rapidly becoming weak links in industry.

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Microsoft: We've got HUNDREDS of patents on Android tech

Charles 9
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Re: I assume ...

First, isn't exFAT considered SEP because it's part of the SDXC spec, meaning all SDXC cards you buy come in that format?

Second, doesn't UDF have a big memory overhead?

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The Great Hash Bakeoff: Infosec bods cook up next-gen crypto

Charles 9
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Re: Having a cracking time

Given the repeated findings that people give up their own passwords under the flimsiest of pretexts, the ideal system would contain features unknown to the very people to whom the credentials do in fact belong.

Which kind of puts you in a dead end since a credential has to be presented in order to be used as a credential. How can someone present a credential they don't even know about?

Plus, as I've previously mentioned, who authenticates the authenticator?

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VAT's all folks: Telecoms and services tax to be set at consumer's homeland rate

Charles 9
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Re: Makes sense

The US doesn't have a sales tax. That's assessed at the state level and depends on the state. Oregon, for example, doesn't have a sales tax (Oregon's more of a "settle down" state, so they get you with the income tax and other fees instead), while New York and Florida have historically high sales taxes (due to high levels of tourism and/or visiting traffic--you can nail out-of-staters with a sales tax).

Besides, one key difference between sales tax and VAT is the point of application. VAT is applied at the wholesaler level (it's the retailer and any middlemen that are charged the tax--they just pass the cost down). Sales taxes are applied at the retail level (the customer gets hits for the tax and the retailer has to report and pay that tax to the government). I've noted that one advantage to a VAT is that it encourages honesty since anyone trying to evade the tax is likely to get reported by the next higher link (lest they get caught up in it).

PS. As of present, states lack the authority to force a business to charge a sales tax for its residents unless the business has a brick-and-mortar presence in that state, as that runs into the Commerce Clause, meaning they can't do it without authorization at the federal level. Congress has yet to pass an act providing such authorization, and they're pressured by e-tailers like Amazon to not pass one. Some states like New York can pressure some firms like Amazon by targeting affiliations established within the state, but not every state can use that angle.

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Technology is murdering customer service - legally

Charles 9
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If nothing else at least legal teams seem to have a little more sense but it shouldn't have to come to that to get the most basic of service.

Unfortunately, it's only when the legal team (very expensive) gets involved that the cost outruns the benefit of ignoring you. Any other situation, they could probably leave you high and dry 24/7/365.25 and they'd still turn a profit from the terminally stupid.

IOW, they make a killing selling you the stuff but would get killed the moment they have to support it. Now imagine this being status quo through a whole industry.

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Charles 9
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Re: Frightening

42 languages of user manual that's mostly disclaimers or warning about incorrect battery insertion (they ignore the excellent battery manufacturer's app notes on how to design battery compartments so batteries CAN'T be inserted wrongly!).

Because what you describe is impossible. At least some small but significant percentage of the help calls will be for people, in the sheer depths of stupidity, who somehow managed to cram a battery the wrong way into a compartment only designed to accept the battery one way.

"A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools." - Douglas Adams

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Charles 9
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Re: nine times out of 10, it’s explicitly meant to keep you from talking to a human being

At least most of them are toll-free now. Imagine if you had no choice but to put up with this on a toll number. And since it's likely a vendor in a captive market, the only alternative to give the vendor the finger would be to walk away with nothing at all.

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Too late, Blighty! Samsung boffins claim breakthrough graphene manufacturing success

Charles 9
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Re: Photosynthesis, solar, ...

Believe me when I say I was not attempting to push a green agenda. I was simply seeking some kind of comparison between them (and I did have low expectations for both photosynthesis and photovoltaic--I was more interested in the scale of the difference).

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Charles 9
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Re: The real difference

What you're seeing are "defensive" patents, taken out on things they're currently inventing to make sure no one beats them to the punch. Defensive patents are prevalent in many industries, particularly pharmaceuticals where companies can't risk BEEELION-dollar-plus investments on new drugs on being stolen by the competition. So they take out patents on new drugs before they're ever made. Because of the time limit on patents, this puts the drug companies on the clock. To maximize their profit potential, they need to get the drug to market ASAP. However, they have to get past the testing the regulatory stages first. On average, by the time a drug actually gets to market, the patent clock only has a few years remaining on it.

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Charles 9
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Re: How hard it is to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere

Interesting discussion. Perhaps you can enlighten us with a related discussion. Compare what you've just described to photosynthesis: the energies, inputs, outputs, and efficiencies in comparison to the raw C from CO2 discussion you've just given.

Another possible discussion would be attempting to do what you described using non-grid sources like photovoltaic cells. Instead of money, perhaps time would be a good measurement to see just what it would take to crack CO2.

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BEHOLD the HOLY GRAIL of TECH: The REVERSIBLE USB plug

Charles 9
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FireWire isn't THAT asymmetric. I've has my share of having plugs upside-down.

I think the main problem is that it's hard to be very asymmetric when one of your dimensions (in this case, height) is very limited. No matter how much you try, it's hard to make something of Micro's size other than something relatively flat on both sides. KISS principle would dictate that if one can't make the two sides easy to distinguish (which you really can't with a necessarily-flat plug), the next best choice is to design it so that it shouldn't matter which way you do it (that's what Lightning does and what Type C will do).

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Charles 9
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Re: What about On-The-Go?

*Facepalm* 10 as in 10 (decimal) Gbit/sec raw throughput. Future iterations could then use its maximum raw throughput as its identifier. Does a twofer: differentiates versions and tells you right off how far one can take a particular version.

PS. Remember, we're talking a spec that lay people have to understand, so it's best to stick to good ol' decimal.

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Charles 9
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What about On-The-Go?

I have one big beef about USB On-The-Go: using it prevents charging. I would like the IF to, while they're at it, modify the OTG standard such that a charging pigtail can be standardized, allowing users to do OTG and still keep their phone topped up (which can actually be important if the device being attached is a high-draw device like a portable hard drive--say you keep your video collection on it but you face a dilemma--it draws too much to be practical, and charging means you can't use the drive).

PS. As for a spec, perhaps it's time to stop using adjective names and start using numbers. USB 10 sounds like a good starting point, in any event.

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Charles 9
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Re: Re:Linux running most of the world's servers

I had trouble finding the actual thread. I see, so it's also custom hardware. At this stage, it's only "good enough" until it's "not good enough anymore". It isn't broke now, but it will break eventually, at which point one's lost the paddle needed to stay out of Crap Creek. A similar thing happens when a piece of hardware goes to EOL because a key component is no longer manufactured. It happens in every industry sooner or later. About the only thing that can probably be done is to start putting aside for some sort of migration plan while there is still revenue being generated.

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Charles 9
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Re: Possible solution for your client

In this case, it's still an option since the CnC is communicating via a network protocol. As long as the protocol can pass through the virtual network adapter, it should be fine. It's when you get to a direct-hardware controller (or other things that simply can't be virtualized) that things get dicey.

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Charles 9
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Re: Have you tried a Virtual Machine

Proprietary PC hardware is going to come to a head no matter what simply because the hardware and its maker will eventually run out of time. In a situation like that, the only option is to start saving up ahead of time since the day of reckoning is a question of "WHEN", not "IF".

The idea of using the VM is pretty sound in this case since it means the machine can be upgraded (as needed) without having to lose the XP functionality. It's something that should at least be considered and perhaps planned for by, say, imaging the current machine in a known-good state and recording important details such as IPs and MACs. It at least opens a migration path that is not possible directly, and the good news is that it's not something that has to be done right away or in one go. Get the machine at some point, start putting things together bit by bit so that it becomes a useful redundancy in case the actual controller PC does fall over.

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Crashed NORKS drones discovered by South Korea

Charles 9
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"North Korea is increasingly turning out to be the short tempered, retarded cousin of the international community."

Problem is this retarded cousin still managed to wrap himself with dynamite and grip a detonator switch. Meaning we don't want to tick him off since if he hits that switch, regardless of the circumstances, things are bound to get mighty ugly.

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BlackBerry ditches T-Mobile US after iPhone advert spat

Charles 9
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Re: Hypothermia

"What they could have done is pushed the reasons why the customer should stick with a Blackberry on T-Mob and not be tempted by the iPhone; instead they cut off their nose to spite their face."

I think the logic is that they'll concentrate on AT&T and start touting, "You want a Blackberry? Go with AT&T!" IOW, Blackberry loyalists (and it has a history because of its enterprise focus) may start defecting from T-Mobile as they change models, assuming they are on T-Mobile.

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Charles 9
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Re: Hypothermia

Without looking, who was the Captain of the Mary Rose? Ok, who was the captain of the #23 Hudson Auto Ferry? Don't look at me, I don't fucking know. But the Captain of the Mary Rose went down with his ship and the Captain of the #23 Hudson River Ferry got to shore. Guess which one got future job offers and became extremely desirable because he had successfully navigated (Ha!) a very dangerous situation? Here's a hint: It wasn't the dead guy.

You assume the captain of the Mary Rose had the CHANCE to get to shore. Truth is, we don't know for certain just why she sank. All we can conjecture by the remains was that she sank very rapidly: probably too rapidly to make any difference. Also, the Mary Rose was engaged in battle, meaning it was under a different operating procedure. Put it this way, whatever befell the Mary Rose would probably be considered "unsurvivable" regardless of who was at the helm at the time.

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CERN team uses GPUs to discover if antimatter falls up, not down

Charles 9
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Re: Puzzled...I am

To correlate, if anti-matter has mass (and it should given it's composed of the same kinds of sub-sub-atomic particles as regular matter, just arranged differently, then it should react to gravity in the same way. We're just being sure in this case.

According to prevailing theory, negative matter would fall up, but the same theory holds that negative matter has negative mass and can never exist in our universe just as our matter cannot exist in a universe of negative matter (either would break a large number of fundamental scientific laws if it occurred: conservation of energy, for one thing).

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No, Minister. You CAN'T de-Kindle your eBooks!

Charles 9
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Re: Allowing copying while preventing piracy

But what if you're just starting out, trying to scrape buy, and need every honest buck you can get in a dishonest world? Being blase may seem like a move toward loyalty, but in the end, does it really pay the bills? There seem to be concrete examples at both ends of the spectrum (as the developer of World of Goo, for example).

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Samsung Galaxy S5 in El Reg's claws: This time the 'S' is for 'sensible'

Charles 9
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Re: Oh Gawd

The hint is that you can't buy a phone that has BOTH Qi charging AND a removeable battery at the same time. Reason being the QI coil has to be near the back to be effective and needs a decent amount of surface area: enough that fixing it in place would block battery placement. Even now, all the Qi chargers for S4 and up have to be placed ON TOP of the battery, requiring them to be removeable. That makes for some fiddly stuff, so save them for people who know what's involved.

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Zuck: Web drones, not balloons (cough, cough Google) are way forward

Charles 9
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Re: FB & Google...

I think Bill's missing a bit of a trick here. When people in a remote village come down with something, it would help a lot if the local clinic was able to get Internet access, look up the symptoms, and come up with a possible treatment.

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Stop skiving: Computers can SEE THROUGH your FAKE PAIN

Charles 9
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Putting a stone or pin in your show, even the old biting your tongue trick might throw it off.

I was wondering about that. People might go to the lengths of actually self-inflicting intense but brief sessions of actual pain so as to "fake out" the computer.

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RISE of the LIVING CHAIR: Boffins recruit E coli to build futuristic materials

Charles 9
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Re: "Imagine having a chair where you sit on it for a long time...

We could really do with more watch-eyes pointed at our decision-makers (since they are so keen on recording our every movement for future use, it's obvious they need careful watching for the inevitable other signs of delusion and meglomania).

Trouble was, people already saw a problem with that approach, thus the question, "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?" (or "Who watches the watchers?"). For anyone set as a watcher, who watches her, and then you have to wonder who watches that watcher and so on.

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IBM PCjr STRIPPED BARE: We tear down the machine Big Blue would rather you forgot

Charles 9
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Re: Floppy drives

The 3.5" drives were mostly either 720K or 1.44M. The Mac version used variable-speed rotation to squeeze 800K on an otherwise 720K disk, which made the older disks incompatible with newer drives. We ran into that when we got our first iMac--the 800K floppies for Civilization wouldn't work with any USB drives.

I recall that the floppy drives on Commodore Amiga computers were powered by a programmable controller. In its normal mode an 3.5" Amiga disk could hold some 800KB, but since the controller was programmable, you could do some peculiar formats if you dared. This not only allowed for exotic formats but also for rather unique forms of copy protection.

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Charles 9
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Re: Floppy drives

Other way.

A 5/14" floppy disk provided up to 180KB of data per side. A double-sided disk had the potential to store up to 360KB per disk. I remember the days when I routinely had to handle them on a 486, and I recalled their formatted capacity to be in the ~350KB range. This is also consistent with other computers of the time like the Commodore. A single-side-formatted Commodore disk reported 664 256-byte blocks free, which equals 169984 bytes.

If you're thinking a DSDD floppy has 720KB on it, you're thinking of 3 1/2" floppies, which did indeed have that capacity rating in MFM formatting.

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Charles 9
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Re: still have one of these

That was something I wanted to bring up. IBM may have flopped with the PCjr, yet Tandy was able to get on the map with the 1000, basically a clone of the jr. It gained enough traction that the sound and graphics systems it uses, again the same as the PCjr, tended to be identified as Tandy graphics and sound rather than PCjr graphics and sound.

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They want me to install CCTV to see what YOU did in the TOILET

Charles 9
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Re: The cameras are out of arm's reach

Vandals are good at throwing things. Arm's reach is irrelevant.

It still is relevant since how else do you blind the camera without getting yourself in its eye? Laser pointers only work temporarily, plus you normally have to get in the camera's eye to get a good line of sight. Throwing things only work on exposed cameras. How do you blind a shielded/domed camera without getting in its eye? Plus like I said, good camera arrangement covers the blind spots so that in trying to avoid one camera, you usually end up in another camera's view.

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Charles 9
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"Besides, the proliferation of CCTV tends to encourage vandalism: specifically, people will try to vandalise the CCTV cameras. This means you’d need a second CCTV system with cameras pointing at the first CCTV system, and a second set of bored security guards to watch live video feeds of motionless video cameras."

I always thought that was part of the art of CCTV arrangement.You tried to position cameras with two ideas in mind:

1. The cameras are out of arm's reach (since spray paint isn't effective much beyond that). That way, any attempt to paint the camera involved a climb or other endeavor which inevitably meant significant face time (defeating the purpose of painting the camera).

2. The cameras had overlapping coverage, meaning as well as covering various complementary areas, the cameras also covered each other's danger zones: places where another camera could be attacked, perhaps even from a distance (using say a paintball gun). That way, any attempt to attack a camera puts you in the view of another one. I know the quote mentions this, but I'm saying this "watch the watcher" doesn't necessarily have to mean you cover just that camera. A good field of view means you can see plenty else besides that camera.

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AT&T and Netflix get into very public spat over net neutrality

Charles 9
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Re: AT&T's internet service sucks anyway

Singapore has been providing their citizens wired Gigabit ethernet connectivity for years now. Why can't the rest of the world's nations follow suit?

Probably because the entirety of Singapore comprises a tiny little flyspeck island off the tip of the Malay Peninsula. Geography matters when it comes to wiring up a place. South Korea is relatively small in itself, thus their high-speed rollout didn't cost so much. OTOH, the United States is huge (one of the biggest countries in the world) with tons of rural area. In order for New York to be able to talk to Los Angeles at gigabit speeds, you needs a gigabit link all the way down, across two mountain ranges and more than a few rivers.

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Charles 9
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Re: There are plenty .......

Google already owns and operates a private network.

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Virtual reality? Two can play THAT GAME, says Sony: New headset revealed for the PS4

Charles 9
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It depends on the type of scene you're watching, particularly in terms of travel (motion in gross that is not dependent on head motion--for example, going forward). If travel is limited and the head tracking is good, the brain can usually cope, and you don't suffer ill effects. OTOH, if your travel is significant and unusual (such as experiencing a first-person roller-coaster ride), the senses get mixed up. Your eyes say you're twisting and turning, but your ears (which carry organs that help the brain sense orientation) don't agree, saying you're still upright and motionless. As a TV show once put it, the senses are "not singing from the same song sheet." Then you're probably going to start feeling simulation sickness.

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Charles 9
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Re: Today's gaming rigs aren't powerful enough

Actually, last I checked, the latest Occulus devices being shown match the Morpheus: 1920x1080 using 3D in side-by-side mode. So resolution-wise, the Occulus and the Morpheus are currently in the same boat.

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Charles 9
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Re: Correction

So the PS4 would output 3D in side-by-side mode and the Morpheus automatically accommodates this. I wonder if this means you could use the same device attached to any HDMI 3D output that can do side-by-side mode (given the specs, I wonder if the Morpheus attaches to an HDMI port)?

Perhaps not a game-changer, but it could be a way to get in on the ground floor and make 3D acceptance at least a little easier.

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Charles 9
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Re: A few problems with these things

They're working on those points.

a) The benchmark to compare this against will be the Occulus Rift.

b) Dual-1080p tech is already at the consumer level. Now, whether this is at 30 or 60fps, we don't know, but 60 is within the realm of possibility and feasability.

c) That's due to "simulation sickness", the perception of motion when you're not moving. Basically, airsickness in reverse. That's probably why such a big emphasis on head tracking. This will make the motions more natural and less nauseating.

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Planes fail to find 'credible' candidate for flight MH370 wreckage

Charles 9
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Re: what happens

Probably what happened to Helios Airways Flight 522. Once the engines lose power, it will continue to glide for a short period until airspeed falls below the minimum needed for gliding, at which point it will probably start losing altitude faster and faster until impact.

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Charles 9
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Re: Mobile phones don't have remotely enough range

I still don't understand why they had enough time to turn the jet but not enough to radio a distress. Mostly this makes more sense, however, than anything else I've heard so far.

Pilots are taught there are three priorities when it comes to flying a plane:

1. Aviate (Keep the plane flying)

2. Navigate (Keep the plane on course)

3. Communicate (Keep tabs with others)

It's quite possible that an event that knocked out everyone aboard (similar to Helios Airways Flight 522--note everyone was knocked out before (3) occurred here, too) occurred at the (1) or (2) stage but before (3) could be conducted.

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NASA: Earth JUST dodged comms-killing SOLAR BLAST in 2012

Charles 9
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Re: Why would a compass not read true during this nonsense

Also, odds are the air itself will ionize and start to hold a charge. The same thing happens when lightning strikes.

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Europe approves common charger standard for mobe-makers

Charles 9
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Re: Whatever happened to a multiple-port USB charging base...

So if any one knows of a 4-port USB hub that sits on the back of a mains plug and can concurrently charge 4 iPad's etc. ....

Don't think you can do that just yet. Power limitations. 2A@5V = 10W of power, and that's pretty much the standard for charging tablets and high-end phones (including those from Apple). Multiply that by 4 and you're likely getting into power ranges better suited for bulky dedicated bricks rather than svelte inline adapters. I'm suspecting 15W is about as much as they dare for an inline: enough for a 2A and a 1A port.

1. Not all mobile phones recognise them - I have particular problems with Samsung, but the Nokia sometimes objects - never had a problem with the HTC & Hudl.

I see that once in a while with my S4. I've come to realize it stops recognizing a charger if it's underpowered: that is, it doesn't feed it enough juice to outpace its drain.

The "cheapest" multi-port USB-A-Female charger which can charge anything I throw it at is the Cambironix Series8 - Which is a 350$ piece of kit.

No bloody wonder. 8 ports able to deliver a full 12W per port (2.4A@5V)...thing's built like a brick (as it should given its total power draw of ~100W) and full of air vents (to draw away the heat losses from all that power conversion).

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Charles 9
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Be fortunate it's the plug that breaks. That was part of the USB Micro design (that most of the wear and tear, like the springs, should occur at the easily-replaceable plug, not the socket that's usually built into the very-expensive phone/tablet, like it was in USB Mini).

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Charles 9
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Except the A plug is diverging, too, with USB 3.0. What's to stop that plug changing in future also?

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Shuttleworth: Firmware is the universal Trojan

Charles 9
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Re: End Of Life

There would probably be unintended consequences, but what if there was a policy that prescribed that "working life" periods were determined by someone other than the manufacturer? Of course, the obvious question becomes, "Who?" DTA mode again...

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Charles 9
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But the thing is, trade secrets and patents are protected by law. That's why industrial espionage is illegal. The blob shows intent to keep secret, sorta like the DMCA provision.

Also, hardware patents prevent people from rolling their own, so you're up the creek with a Hobson's choice.

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Charles 9
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Trojans are one problem, the other being their reluctance to allow third parties to redistribute their blobs, which of course is their way of controlling their blobs.

That's because those blobs represent trade secrets if not patents. The blobs represent a guard against industrial espionage by a rival firm, so there's a money angle for them meaning they won't give them up. Firm like this, if forced to open up, would probably pack up and go home instead, leaving no one to offer innovations.

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Charles 9
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Re: But then we'd need hardware standards

Basically, you wanna ban trade secrets. Never gonna happen since trade secrets are one of the valid business differentiators still legal under law. It's what allows for nVidia and AMD to keep trying to one-up each other. As long as there is a need to protect trade secrets or patents (and I mean honest hardware-based patents), then there will always be a need for obfuscated, proprietary hardware to guard against industrial espionage if nothing else.

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Charles 9
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Re: He's right... and wrong!

As for flashcards and wrong size reporting - if you find a way to tell the firmware of a hard disk to mark its allocated contents as bad blocks, you will find that that content is no longer touched, and that includes any wipe or delete routines. Worth thinking about..

Is this true even on the low level?

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Battery vendors push ultracapacitor wrappers to give Li-ions more bite

Charles 9
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Re: Bah!

He meant it was accidentally detonated. The AN was held in the ship in a fertilizer form (normally considered denatured), but the fire in the ship (exacerbated by fuel oil and some ammunition on board) combined with the confines of the ship destabilized the fertilizer, resulting in a spontaneous detonation.

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Google's Drive SLASH, secret 'big upgrade': Coincidence? HARDLY

Charles 9
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Re: 1TB of digital parking space has one other problem

And the big problem with North America and to a lesser extent continental Europe has simply been geography. To maintain high-speed rates from coast to coast in the US requires high-speed links all the way down, which means running them across vast rural areas, big rivers, and one or two significant mountain ranges. I recall Europe can have foibles of its own if data links have to cross places like the Alps. The obvious question: who foots the bill when the customer is price-sensitive?

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