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Comments

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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

BLKMGK Re: Astronomy, and general poor night-time results (547 comments)

That's very possible. I will admit that once I was able to get my surgery and had it done that I haven't kept up. I knew that they had enlarged the area of the cut for my procedure and I also knew that they had begun mapping. I knew about the cut because a Dr warned me about it after mine had been done and told me that if I had further corrections (I had one correction and a flap lift to clean out dead cells prior) they would likely cut further out. Later I was told about the surface mapping and a Dr even mapped out the one eye I have that's not as good as I might like - my dominant eye no less! However since my vision is so damned much better than it was and I'm not a big fan of taking risks I've held off. I should probably spend some time and learn about the options

to be clear - the option I skipped was the cutting of slits in the lens to adjust vision (how it was described). the option I went with required a cutting of a flap and laser ablation of the material underneath done right after that was approved. I'd consider surface ablation now I think...

about a week ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

BLKMGK Re: Astronomy, and general poor night-time resu (547 comments)

The sad ting is that was a number thrown at me when I was in high school. My eyes continued to change for sometime after that but Drs really didn't seem to want to talk about it when I asked, just assured me that it was correctable. My first real clue was the day they had to special order contacts for me. Then one day I asked if I would be considered legally blind without correction, my Dr burst out a giggle and said of course I would! I have to admit that was pretty damned scary. At least one Dr talked to me about PRK where they could do slits in my lens to try and get it to correct but I was told that it would really ruin my night vision and the thought of someone cutting into my eyes scared the crap out of me! Lasik was on the horizon shortly afterwards and Drs were telling me about it. I was still resistant until I was told I could no longer wear contacts and eye glasses were working out "poorly" to say the least. The surgery really helped out my quality of life for sure. Losing your towel and stuff at the beach because the current pushed you down and you can't see well enough to recognize them without help SUCKS!

about a week ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

BLKMGK Re: Astronomy, and general poor night-time resu (547 comments)

Actually you're right, that was a typo. Try 20:700 20:900!

Without correction I could literally not see any part of the eye chart on the wall. First car at a red light? Without correction I couldn't see the stoplight much less what color it was!

One day my dr told me it would be a week or two before my contacts would be in because they had to manufacture them. Puzzled I asked why and was told that there was little enough demand that they didn't keep any in the shelf. I then asked how much stronger I could go before they didn't make anything stronger. My dr told me they made a few stronger but not to worry because we could switch manufacturers and find some even stronger! That day scared the crap out of me because I realized I might really be getting to a point where correction became very difficult. It was probably an additional 4+ years before LASIK came along, thankfully I never needed a stronger prescription. I'm still supposed to get dilated yearly so they can check inside, a detached retina is apparently a very real possibility since my eye is so "long". They dilate me because otherwise it's like trying to look into a room thru a peephole - their words not mine.

The prospect of losing ones vision is damned scary to say the least :-(

about a week ago
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Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

BLKMGK Re: this is great news! (94 comments)

Including menus? All of the java? I know VLC will do DVD but BD is what I want although I still want them compressed too. If that's the case I wonder why XBMC has gotten this functionality because it sure would be handy.

about a week ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

BLKMGK Re: Uncertainty/fear? (547 comments)

That would depend on the prescription, obviously you aren't wearing a strong one. Wait until they're thick as bottle ends and your contacts must be special ordered and then tell me what a picnic it is. For a real party glance over your shoulder in traffic to switch lanes in broad daylight, accidenty look out the side of the glasses thus getting no correction, and miss the vehicle in your blind spot - literally. Been there, done that. Wear contacts long enough and your eyes do bad things, glasses while cheap are no panacea...

about a week ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

BLKMGK Re: Uncertainty/fear? (547 comments)

Yeah, back then they didn't track your eye and would shut the laser off if your eye moved. In my first surgery they also wanted me to keep both eyes open which really sucked when they were working on the second eye. The flap was held down with a small marble at first too which I found weird. The tracking of the eye is a huge improvement as they cannot keep that flap lifted too long before things start to dry out so they didn't like stopping - you can guess how I know!

about a week ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

BLKMGK Re: Astronomy, and general poor night-time results (547 comments)

PRK also has a much higher incidence of starbursts and halos. In my case I was to,d that if I were to have that done I'd never be able to drive again at night. My case was pretty extreme but its very much a side effect of PRK in even milder corrections.

about a week ago
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Laser Eye Surgery, Revisited 10 Years Later

BLKMGK Re: Astronomy, and general poor night-time result (547 comments)

PRK was what resulted in halos and starbursts. Early LASIK didn't have a large enough flap cut so in extreme darkness a pupil could dilate out past the corrected area. I don't think they cut as often now and instead use ablative procedures that remove material from the surface after first mapping the eye's surface. After the surgery you could have some dryness that can take some time to go away, use drops.

If you're prescription is stable I HIGHLY recommend the procedure. I went from 20:70 20:90 to 20:20 20:30 - I was legally blind without correction and my Dr laughed when I asked that. I got the surgery the January following the initial FDA approval in the United States. I was no longer able to wear contacts as my eyes had begun to starve for oxygen and the blind spots that glasses have nearly got me killed in traffic - literally. I went from losing my towel on the beach and not being able to read the alarm in the morning to being able to read an alarm across the bedroom - I could read that distant alarm 2 hours after surgery. I was terrified prior to the surgery, a near miss driving with glasses solved that damn quick.

When my surgery was done procedures were cruder, the FDA limited what they could do (to my detriment), and they didn't know about the pupil dilation yet. I wouldn't trade it back for the world! The difference this made in my life has been incredible. I've suffered no side effects other than some dryness which can cause Chelazians in my eye lids if I'm not careful. My vision remains pretty good, I'll need reading glasses before too long I suspect. I could have a tune up done to sharpen things but considering what I lived with before I'm not sweating it. My night vision remains good but age has taken its toll in that dept, I don't mind as it beats being blind.

I should admit, I've run into one or two people with horror stories and I'd never do mono vision unless I never had stereo vision to begin with (I know someone like that). The number of success stories I've encountered is far far higher. It's still surgery, not to be taken lightly, but its a damned miracle for some of us...

about a week ago
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Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

BLKMGK Re: this is great news! (94 comments)

Then you have to find software that will play it, nothing to this point except Windows software has been capable and many of those player packages required tricks to get them to work. All of my HTPC front-ends are Linux based XBMC and the hassle of mounting ISO and using Windows isn't something I'm interested in. ISO are indeed "larger" - about 3x bigger! Disk space is cheaper sure but not so cheap that I'm willing to triple my storage needs. Compression is the way to go!

about two weeks ago
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Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

BLKMGK Re:this is great news! (94 comments)

This. This. This!

Media makes sense for many of us including me. It's higher fidelity, it's MINE so long as I possesses it, and I can transcode it to whatever format. Lend it? Sure! Borrow it? Yup! Watch it (nearly) right away? Can do! Yes, I hate the ads, the forced BS, but I can still watch it - media has value to me any many others. Being able to use the menus and gain access to the extra content and alternate versions of a movie without having to rip it multiple times would be awesome!

This is good news :-)

about two weeks ago
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Open-Source Blu-Ray Library Now Supports BD-J Java

BLKMGK Re:this is great news! (94 comments)

I own lots of them - all of them have been ripped to my server, compressed, and put into MKV containers. However by doing this I cannot get the "branching" that many BluRay have for alternate endings etc. and any additional content on the disk is pretty much wasted too - sometimes I like that stuff. With DVD I rip to ISO and have full access to that stuff!

Now that this is moving forward, finally, if someone can come up with a way to compress the content but allow access to menus, alternate endings, blah blah, I'll happily re-rip to a format or container that allows for that playback. Yeah, this is a BIG deal for many of us.

Mind you, MKV supports "branching" on it's own, it even supports menus! Now, try finding mature tools that can create MKV with the branching properly or tools to create MKV menus. I've seen ONE tool to create the branching files (years ago and I lost track of it's development) but I've yet to see that format supported in my player of choice - XBMC. I think VLC *might* support it but I'm not sure - I'm told Anime files sometimes use this but I'm not a consumer of that.

If the stars align the XBMC folks will take these changes to the BD library and leverage them. Then maybe the community will create tools to support ripping that will play this back. That would be cool - we'll see. People have been working just to get this support for YEARS so this is a pretty decent feat IMO.

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

BLKMGK Re: The issue is big publishing (192 comments)

I would bet that putting indy author's wares on display would lead to some backlash by big publishers if they found out, not seeing indy publishers who've made a name for themselves on bookshelves doesn't surprise me. As someone who reads books exclusively electronically I've likely lost some touch but the sense I have is that paper is slowly going away and that e-books are now selling well enough that having paper copies produced isn't a "must" in order to make a living. An author's goals play into their choices I think - do they want to see their book in bright lights or do they want to make a living? If you want fame then e-publishing is probably not going to get you to that same level. If you want to be able to support yourself, drop the second job, and not have to travel all over promoting then e-publishing isn't a bad path if you've got talent.

I would point out that Konrath seems to take issue with that 40% figure. He has made far more than 40% and one of his biggest points seems to be that he will continue making money on that book pretty much forever. He has complete control of pricing and availability, something he certainly wouldn't have with a big publisher and 100% wouldn't have if the book were printed. Take a hard look at how long a print book gets shelf space and print runs, if it doesn't take off it's dropped BUT the publisher retains rights a very long time. The publisher can kill your ability to make any money simply by stopping the presses - not so with e-books.

You have to read fairly deeply into his blog but there was a time when Konrath was fighting to get rights back for some of his books that were languishing. He has also made a great deal out of the fact that many of the books he was rejected on have made him a great deal of money as e-books. Certainly he has anger against the big publishers both because of this and because of some truly stupid marketing decisions they've made for him. Mind you, I've not read any of his books as the genre has zero interest to me but I find his blog to have some pretty fascinating insights into publishing.

I won't disagree that there are almost certainly some really bad books out there. Reviews help weed those out and Amazon often allows you to read small portions of a book you're considering. I'm okay with the existence of bad books out there since big publishing houses seem to cull a great deal of wheat with the chaff when they make their publishing decisions. The few authors I know seem to want to go the traditional publishing route, they seem to feel it's somehow "safe" and it's a norm they know vs an unknown leap. As a result they've only dabbled with e-books (if nothing it's a way to get me to read their stuff). If any of them became half as successful as Konrath at it they could be doing what they love full-time. IMO the path to that is e-publishing, the big publishing houses are too greedy and their terms too lopsided. If I were talented enough to author a book I'd have zero interest in the print houses

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

BLKMGK Re: The issue is big publishing (192 comments)

Read the blog I linked above. He self publishes on multiple platforms, Amazon doesn't stop him from doing that and in fact he has offered free downloads on his own site for some of the same content he sells on Amazon. If you told him that big publishing did all of those things he would laugh at you. Most of that can be outsourced and if you think the big publishing houses really do much promotion I've got a bridge you might be interested in. Certainly some authors get promoted but only a very select few. Considering the cost of their services no way would I consider any of the big houses. The worst thing is that when it goes out of print they still own rights, you cannot make money on it and they are now locking in ebook rights too. Ebooks on the other hand have no fee to be stocked and are always available. Read what he and others have had to say about wrestling with big publishing houses to get back their rights. Read about the ridiculous pricing and hugs cuts those same publishers take from authors. Also read about the freelance editors and artists he and others have employed. The guy writes books I'd hate to read but sells them like crazy, publishes his sales numbers, and helps out other authors. He also seems to really hate the big publishing houses and explains why in pretty good detail IMO. Yes, Amazon has gotten big and the big publishers want everyone to assume they will one day start ripping everyone off, maybe they will, but it's a sure thing the big publishing houses are ripping people off NOW. I'd stick with Amazon personally....

about two weeks ago
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Amazon Isn't Killing Writing, the Market Is

BLKMGK The issue is big publishing (192 comments)

Amazon has done a TON for indy authors and they've shared their profits. When the big publishers tried to force higher prices on Amazon I stopped buying. You would think these asshats would've learned from the music industry - especially since their wares are so much smaller when downloaded and lose no fidelity at all. Now they've all had to settle for big fines but do you think that this will bring readers back into the fold? I doubt it.

This guy has some interesting information about what's going on with out the big publisher bias - other than the fact that his bias is he hates big publishing lol

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/

about two weeks ago
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Your Old CD Collection Is Dying

BLKMGK Re:Grammar (329 comments)

That layer of oxide is normally not present in CDs because they're sealed in plastic. Let air get in there and you see all sorts of funky things. I have some CDs from the 80s and I can see some sort of almost mold looking stuff creeping in from the edges on a few of them. Last I ripped them they all still played fine but I don't expect that will continue forever. Disbelieve if you wish but this is real and I see it occurring with my media as of a few years ago - haven't cracked the box to look since but I doubt it's gotten better. This isn't a plastic issue, it's the aluminum itself oxidizing aka "rusting", you can treat the plastic or polish it and the creeping crud is still there.

about 3 months ago
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How Dumb Policies Scare Tech Giants Away From Federal Projects

BLKMGK Re: Why not have an in House IT for the work? (143 comments)

If you think the developers would be any closer than 8 levels if it were done in house you're deluding yourself. The process in place now would be just as bad with in house because everyone would want CYA "accountability" and that too means reams of paperwork and heaven forbid anyone talk face to face - it has to be "documented". That soul crushing red tape isn't going away when you try to do big systems in house. Try to fire a Govt worker who's screwed up, unless they were appointed and it was a public mess it's near impossible. Fire a contractor? Snap your fingers and they can be gone. Managers are put in areas they have no clue about to get them out of their "box" so hell yes they make mistakes. Want to get promoted? Gotta' spend big money on big projects boss!

about 3 months ago
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How Dumb Policies Scare Tech Giants Away From Federal Projects

BLKMGK Re:true, but partially because govt pays 10X too m (143 comments)

Or perhaps he actually has some experience with aircraft. Counterfeit bolts are a HUGE issue as is quite a few other things that are supposed to be specced properly and are built in China. Everything from bolts to beams for bridges have had problems - ask San Fran about the latter. It takes all of 5 seconds to find PLENTY of evidence that counterfeit bolts are a problem in multiple industries. Counterfeit electronics are also an issue and for the military this is 100% unacceptable unless you would like to find yourself in a jet fighter coming apart because of it. If you think that it all comes off of the same assembly line you've got a screw loose yourself...

http://www.choice-distribution...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P...

www.asminternational.org/pdf/Aug8-12.pdf

about 3 months ago
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Can You Buy a License To Speed In California?

BLKMGK Re:selective enforcement at it's finest. (325 comments)

Someone I know is a cop's wife. She has one of those "thin blue line" stickers on her car. I can tell you that it absolutely helps get her out of being pulled over let alone a ticket if she is. It really pisses me off but they just laugh about it...

about 4 months ago

Submissions

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Unique "Internet ID" for all Americans? It's real!

BLKMGK BLKMGK writes  |  more than 3 years ago

BLKMGK writes "There's not much detail but the idea selling this as "additional security" by reducing the "need to remember dozens of passwords online" smells an awful lot like they want a single ID upon which to track everyone. This is part of a policy dubbed "National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace". Apparently NSA and Homeland Security lost the lottery to run this turkey and the Department of Commerce will get the prize."
Link to Original Source

Journals

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My media center setup

BLKMGK BLKMGK writes  |  more than 2 years ago

I've been asked a few times about my media center setup and I've described it in disparate posts. I'm going to document it here and point folks to it to perhaps save some time and allow a place for comments to occur. I'll break this down into parts and try to put a heading on each - my first Journal entry so we'll see how that goes!

Storage:
I use and advocate unRAID from LimeTechnology. http://lime-technology.com/ My two unRAID servers are for the most part appliances. I do not run extra software on them although it's possible. I use them as NAS and I chose this software for a few reasons. 1) The filesystem on the disk is standard - ReiserFS which is a journaling filesystem. IF I need to recover from a disk issue having a standard filesystem improves my chances! 2) Because unRAID stores it's parity on ONE drive and doesn't span disks drives not being accessed can be spun down - less power, less noise, less heat. 3) The software isn't expensive, is mostly open source, it's fast enough for media serving and backups, and it boots from a USB with no O/S installed to the HDD. 4) I get to use drives of any size so long as they aren't larger than my parity. I can mix SATA, IDE, SCSI, of any size together. I can upgrade disks singly with larger ones. 5) It's fault tolerant. If a single disk fails (been there done that) I lose nothing and my array continues to work. I can pull that disk to recover it or swap in another easily - power cycle required. IF two disks fail I lose both of those disks worth of data and NOT an entire set of data. Remember, parity isn't striped and neither is the data. 6) Pretty hardware agnostic overall. I have upgraded mobo, drives, CPU, memory, it just keeps working. You have to be prudent and careful so far as keeping the setup straight but it's NOT hard.

My two unRAID have a combined capacity of over 19TB (not counting parity). One server is for movies and music exclusively, the other is for TV shows, backups, misc crap, photo backups, blah blah. Both are on GigE but the movie one is only synching 100meg for some odd reason I cannot figure out. Sucks for movie copies, doesn't hurt movie streaming.

Front-ends:
I use XBMC http://xbmc.org/ as my software of choice, yes this is what used to be run on hacked XBOX hardware years ago. It's now 1080P capable, runs on OSX, Windows, Ubuntu, and I believe IOS. It can be run on AppleTV, on the RaspberryPi, on MAC hardware, and on my choice of hardware - Intel ATOM\ION boxes. Prices on these vary, I have Zotac, Asrock, and ASUS prebuilt boxes. I have cheap SSD in some of mine, laptop drives in others. Video acceleration occurs on the video chip so the CPU loafs at maybe 15% total usage (4thread capable). I use a USB MCE remote control that's supported my Lirc. My OS of choice is Ubuntu 10.4 although I have tried several dedicated XBMC distro also. I like the full install mostly because I run code compiled from source. to keep my various box's libraries in synch I have a mySQL instance on my workstation desktop but may move that eventually. My front-ends are using wired ethernet but wireless works on them fine if I wanted. I have even lent spares to friends with a USB hard drive for storage. These connect to my LCD flat panels with HDMI via HDMI switching stereo receivers. I get 5.1 surround no problem! I think it's also possible to get DTS but I don't use it, whatever ALSA or Pulse supports XBMC does too! The AppleTV is probably your cheapest way to have a nice front-end but you have to jailbreak it and I'm not sure the new one is more than 720P capable - the older could do 1080 with a decoder card.

Media:
I use SlySoft AnyDVD-HD for media decryption. I rip DVD to ISO using DVDShrink but do not compress, I remove languages I do not speak. This retains menus and extras. For BluRay it's more complicated. I rip them using eac3to to MKV and raw audio files. I get chapters and subs this way too. I use the GUI front-end in meGUI for controlling eac3to - I've gotten lazy that way. Once ripped I compress using x.264 with either meGUI or HandBrake as my GUI front-end. Lately I've been leaning more towards HB's simpler interface and it's likely best for newbies. Once the video is compressed (it goes from say 20+gig to half or one third that) I mux the audio, video, and chapters with mkvmerge into a single MKV container. I do not downgrade the audio, be aware that lossless DTS audio can be over a gig itself. Subtitles I discard UNLESS there's a "forced" subtitle. For these I use BDsup2Sub to save off JUST the forced titles and to get them into a format that MKV can store. I track what I have in my library using DVDProfiler. Whew, movies done! Oh, note that it can take hours to compress video and I have a pretty damn fast system - it's worth it for the disk savings and no I do NOT notice a quality loss even on a 65inch screen.

TV shows - I download these via torrent, or pull them from my TiVO (I have TiVO HD upgraded with 1TB drives), or I use sabNZB\Sickbeard to pull from usenet. I use the Sickbeard software most often these days as the files are ready to go no muss no fuss and it's automated. But some shows I pull and process from my TiVO using KMTTG http://code.google.com/p/kmttg/ Processing this is just like processing a BluRay using HB except TV shows I knock down to 720P, I compress the audio, I edit out commercials using VideoRedo, and I don't have to mux since it's already all together. For oddball stuff and live TV the TiVO rocks and yes I could cut my cable cord and just download but I don't mind paying for content - I just want the content MY way is all!

Audio - I rip CDs to MP3 or FLAC using ExactAudioCopy. I manage tags and covers using MP3Tag http://www.mp3tag.de/en/ I purchase a great deal of MP3 from Amazon these days now that it's cheap and easy :-)

Some things to note:
XBMC can be controlled with Android and iPhone devices, I have Apple hardware. AirShare works with XBMC, I can watch video, show pictures, or listen to music streamed FROM my iPhone via wireless. It's possible to watch NetFlix, Amazon VOD, and a ton of other streaming sites on XBMC for Linux using a pay package named PlayOn Media Server running on a Windows desktop - my desktop is Win7. I can stream these to my iPhone by poking a hole in my firewall for it too (firewall on an Atom device running Linux too BTW). To manage metadata I use Ember http://ember.purplepig.net/ and I sometimes play with MediaCompanion Gen2 but it seems to choke on the numbers of files I have! :-D XBMC is pretty stable for me and it's been a wonderful software package, I'm a paying supporter.

Things to do:
Get my HDHomerun working with XBMC, I don't know why - maybe so I can try to direct it to my iPhone with PlayOn? Figure out how to setup a MythTV box, again I just want to. Get my DiNovo Mini working with one of my XBMC boxes again, it's a nice remote bluetooth remote. Move my SQL database to either one of my XBMC machines or to some other Atom box in the house - just get it off the hardware I use for gaming. Speaking of gaming, I want to get MaME working on my XBMC machines so I can play games! I've not yet figured out the controller issues, the database issues, or the art issues for doing this - I'm all ears!

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