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Antarctic Ice Loss Big Enough To Cause Measurable Shift In Earth's Gravity

Dixie_Flatline Re:Ugh... (205 comments)

While we're at it, maybe you should share your sources so they can be cross-checked.

9 hours ago
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Google To Require As Many As 20 of Its Apps Preinstalled On Android Devices

Dixie_Flatline Re:What's in a name (413 comments)

Yes, yes I would. Geez, what's in a name? Do you really need it to be called something more aggressive and manly? It's a tool used for chatting with other people. I talk to my Google-employed friends using Hangouts. I chat to my Human-Rights-Lawyer friend using Hangouts. And if it were called "The Pink-Lace Chatroom App" and my friends preferred that, I'd use it. I don't care--my applications are there to get things done, not impress people with their branding.

Are you somehow concerned about the perception people will have of you if you use something to talk to people you know? I figure the only thing my apps say about me is that I know people and I like to talk to them. I'm only a few years away from 40 at this point--maybe it's just my age that makes it so wildly unimportant to me what the name of the application is.

Honestly, I think Hangouts is among the worst of my chat applications. It's among the least reliable, and has the fewest features. If they decided to make it 10 times better and give it the name 'My Little Pink Unicorn' as you suggested, I would 100% keep using it. What's wrong with pink unicorns anyway?

2 days ago
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Google To Require As Many As 20 of Its Apps Preinstalled On Android Devices

Dixie_Flatline Re:worse than crapware (413 comments)

Yes, heavens forfend that you use your communications device to communicate with people.

The things I use most are chat applications. I use iMessage, Hangouts and WhatsApp because that's what the people I want to talk with use. I like iMessage best for various reasons, but the whole point of my phone--by which I mean this little communications computer that I carry with me--is to stay in contact with people throughout the day. I also use it for social media because that's also about keeping in contact with people.

I understand everyone's use case is different, but slagging Hangouts as an app for teenage girls? C'mon.

2 days ago
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Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out For People's Climate March In New York City

Dixie_Flatline Re:Just in time for another record cold winter (200 comments)

It's the only meaningful definition, honestly.

Climate scientists are the ones actually doing the work. You have to listen to them. If I say something to you, I URGE you not to take my word for it until you've verified it against some actual science, or at least the work that I'm claiming to get it from.

Pundits and internet commentators are more often a source of noise than signal. I try to be honest and accurate with all of my claims, but at the end of the day, I can't think of a single reason why you'd trust me. Sometimes you develop a level of trust for a science writer and you can use that as a convenient short-hand for actually verifying the science yourself.

They're the ones working on the IPCC reports. Those reports are effectively what the scientists are saying, so they've said a lot, and they say it frequently. Some of those scientists also blog. If you haven't heard anything from them, it's because you haven't been looking. You can definitely see what they say if you want to.

about a week ago
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Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

Dixie_Flatline Re:Maybe (252 comments)

No, the decision makes sense for the iPhone 6+ when you consider the impact on developers. The iPhone 6 and 6+ are at resolutions that allow for very simple scaling; the multipliers are easy to work with. If you haven't updated your app, the system scales them up, and the math is super easy. Even still, the 6+ represents a 3x scaling target for developers, but then downsamples the render to fit the display, which actually has fewer pixels than the virtual target that the programmers are working with. It's a bit goofy, but it makes sense if what you're trying to do is balance between developer time and user experience.

If Apple had kept the scaling factor of the 6+ to the same as the 6, they would have been BELOW 300ppi, which obviously wouldn't fly.

Apple put the fewest number of pixels on the screen that they could get away with while still adhering to a few design and usability constraints. They didn't make the density any higher than that because it just burns battery with no advantage.

about a week ago
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Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

Dixie_Flatline This is something I've been noticing for a while (252 comments)

I keep coming back to this great bit of analysis from Anand when he was reviewing the iPhone 5s:

"In such a thermally constrained environment, going quad-core only makes sense if you can properly power gate/turbo up when some cores are idle. I have yet to see any mobile SoC vendor (with the exception of Intel with Bay Trail) do this properly, so until we hit that point the optimal target is likely two cores. You only need to look back at the evolution of the PC to come to the same conclusion. Before the arrival of Nehalem and Lynnfield, you always had to make a tradeoff between fewer faster cores and more of them. Gaming systems (and most users) tended to opt for the former, while those doing heavy multitasking went with the latter. Once we got architectures with good turbo, the 2 vs 4 discussion became one of cost and nothing more. I expect weÃ(TM)ll follow the same path in mobile.

Then thereÃ(TM)s the frequency discussion. Brian and I have long been hinting at the sort of ridiculous frequency/voltage combinations mobile SoC vendors have been shipping at for nothing more than marketing purposes. I remember ARM telling me the ideal target for a Cortex A15 core in a smartphone was 1.2GHz. SamsungÃ(TM)s Exynos 5410 stuck four Cortex A15s in a phone with a max clock of 1.6GHz. The 5420 increases that to 1.7GHz. The problem with frequency scaling alone is that it typically comes at the price of higher voltage. ThereÃ(TM)s a quadratic relationship between voltage and power consumption, so itÃ(TM)s quite possibly one of the worst ways to get more performance. Brian even tweeted an image showing the frequency/voltage curve for a high-end mobile SoC. Note the huge increase in voltage required to deliver what amounts to another 100MHz in frequency."

In light of this sort of thinking, Apple's decisions continue to make a lot of sense. They can use less power, generate less heat, and still come out on top of most real-world tests and benchmarks. Anandtech's preliminary review of the iPhone 6es shows the A8 being far ahead on most relevant benchmarks, but falling behind on the physics simulation. Realistically, most people programming for mobile don't actually have problems that parallelize very well. My email client or podcasting app might need two threads or processes going on at once (one for foreground processing and another for background downloads, perhaps?) but it's unlikely that it'll need more. Physics simulations parallelize nicely by comparison, and the Android phones with more cores clearly stomp the 2-core A8. But how often do I run that sort of simulation on my phone? Nearly never, even with today's games.

about a week ago
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Apple Sells More Than 10 Million New iPhones In First 3 Days

Dixie_Flatline Re:How many are new Apple customers? (206 comments)

That's not a terribly meaningful observation. Early adopters are always going to be the people most enthusiastic about the company, and in this case, that's far more likely to be people that already own iPhones.

I just got a new iPhone 6 myself because I've been using an iPhone 4 since release, and it was important to me to keep my device on the latest OS. That's not terribly remarkable.

about a week ago
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Apple Sells More Than 10 Million New iPhones In First 3 Days

Dixie_Flatline Re:Sales figures are news now? (206 comments)

It's important insofar as it speaks to who makes money and who doesn't in this competitive space. Apple selling 10 million phones over a weekend means that there's money to be made selling high-end phones to people, and that contrary to consistent commentary that Apple is doomed because their percentage share of the market is decreasing, they can still maintain a robust business based on absolute numbers of people willing to pay for their devices.

Samsung is the only other player in mobile phones consistently turning a profit based on the hardware sales model. Everyone else gets soaked.

Now you've also got players like Xiaomi that make money by selling hardware at cost but setting up their own app stores and making money off of software.

The numbers game is still important, and Apple stands out from the crowd somewhat because they're the only player that so tightly controls both the hardware and software experience.

about a week ago
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Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out For People's Climate March In New York City

Dixie_Flatline Re:Just in time for another record cold winter (200 comments)

Alas. This is honestly something that I see very rarely, but it's worth noting that

a) other climate scientists disagreed with her claim, because at the time it was untrue; and
b) it *happened* to be true in the end (in the sense that climate change DOES seem to be responsible for the weird path of the jet stream). But that doesn't let her off the hook for saying it before there was actually peer reviewed research on the matter to back her up.

about two weeks ago
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Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out For People's Climate March In New York City

Dixie_Flatline Re:Just in time for another record cold winter (200 comments)

They also tend to forget that while it's cold where they are, it's hot where other people are. The winter may have seemed extra cold in North America last year, but they've had to add extra colours to the heat maps in Australia in the last couple of years to indicate just how blisteringly hot its getting now.

Climate is global, folks. Your local weather is not representative of what people around the world are experiencing.

about two weeks ago
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Hundreds of Thousands Turn Out For People's Climate March In New York City

Dixie_Flatline Re:Just in time for another record cold winter (200 comments)

Actually, I've yet to see that come from anyone that's actually in the field of climate science. Don't conflate internet commenters and assorted science writers with people that are actually studying the climate. Every time a big climate event happened, I saw a lot of hedging from climate scientists who were consistently pointing out that one event is impossible to extrapolate from.

If you'd care to provide an example of someone actually in research and not someone that you should probably be ignoring, I'd be interested to see it. (Really, I would--it would be a very unusual event.)

about two weeks ago
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Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

Dixie_Flatline Betteridge's law in effect (504 comments)

No.

My iPad 3 not only seems faster in most cases, the battery life is better. I got 11 hours of active use on 50% of the battery the other day. Even now, I'm looking at 98% battery after an hour of useâ"that used to be 6-10%.

But my iPhone 4 (which didn't get the update, obviously) was sluggish and was draining the battery much faster than usual for a week or two. I did a reboot and that fixed it. I know you just installed iOS 8 and have therefore rebooted recently, but I've had some problems with some applications not working properly after being restored or updated until the phone was rebooted. (Overcast, on my iPhone 6.)

about two weeks ago
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Why the iPhone 6 Has the Same Base Memory As the iPhone 5

Dixie_Flatline Re: Yes and yes... (262 comments)

There's no planned obsolescence in chargers. It was a better design and so that's what Apple went with. The Lightning port design is so good that the next revision of USB connectors is going to have a reversible connector as well. Are you going to whine about the upgraded port on your next android phone, too?

Sometimes old designs are outdated and need to be fixed. Try not to take it personally.

about two weeks ago
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Canadian Regulator Threatens To Impose New Netflix Regulation

Dixie_Flatline Re:why does the CRTC need this list? (324 comments)

I'm not sure if anyone commenting on this story is actually Canadian, but the Canadian Content mandate has existed for years. It's not about favouring Canadian production companies so much as encouraging Canadian content for cultural reasons. Being so close to the USA leaves us vulnerable to sort of being swamped, culturally.

Radio stations are required to play a certain amount of Canadian music as well. It's not really anything new.

Personally, I like the idea of that. It encourages and funds a lot of Canadian artists that might otherwise get swamped out of the market by monied American interests.

about two weeks ago
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Apple Will No Longer Unlock Most iPhones, iPads For Police

Dixie_Flatline Re:So everything is protected by a 4 digit passcod (504 comments)

You don't have to enter the passcode every time if you've got a TouchID device. When my new phone shows up, I have a 13-digit code memorized from when I was a kid (long story). I'll input that once a day, and use the scanner to unlock the device the rest of the time.

Really you only need a 6-digit passcode to be exceptionally safe, but it's honestly easier for me to remember this particular code than something shorter.

about two weeks ago
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iOS 8 Review

Dixie_Flatline Re: no wonder apple dropped 16GB machines (216 comments)

Your conclusion doesn't necessarily follow from your set up. They may have decided not to implement it because it's a pain in the ass (as I've talked about in my other comments). It probably wasn't worth their time and money in a bunch of different ways, not least of which is that it may not give the user experience that they wanted out of it.

about two weeks ago
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iOS 8 Review

Dixie_Flatline Re:no wonder apple dropped 16GB machines (216 comments)

Look, you and I actually agree on this. Some of the steps that I had to go through were insane. We were working with a Kinect, so you had to trigger a save, dive for your XBox and yank out the network cable and the memory card at exactly the right time. At that point, you're TRYING to corrupt the data. But developers aren't just allowed to let bad things happen, even if it seems like it's the user's fault. Weak passwords and bad answers to security questions are ALSO technically the user's fault, but we can see how far it gets a company to blame users for those sorts of things.

But pathologically worst case behaviour aside, even normal behaviour can be a pain to handle. What if your app had some data saved on the card, but you removed it in the interim and now it needs it? Okay, you prompt for the data, but the user doesn't have it--they left it at home. Now what? Do you create new data? Refuse to progress?

Okay, you create new data. Now the user gets the card and puts it in, and you've got DUPLICATE data. Great. Merge? Throw away?

One storage device is a lot easier for the mobile paradigm, I feel. It's not the same as a desktop system--manipulating data is a lot easier on a desktop. Mobile systems should be lightweight and streamlined. But that's just my opinion.

about two weeks ago
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iOS 8 Review

Dixie_Flatline Re:Keyboard (216 comments)

*sniff* An anon doesn't like my opinion but has no ability to hold a conversation and discuss anything on their own merits. I'm so sad. :( :( :(

about two weeks ago
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iOS 8 Review

Dixie_Flatline Re:no wonder apple dropped 16GB machines (216 comments)

SD Cards are a whole other world of complexity; it's no wonder Android has started to clamp down on how they work somewhat. I worked on an XBox 360 game and I had to deal with the TCR requirements regarding removable storage. They're the worst. If someone removes the device during a save, you have to deal with that. If they remove it right before or right after a save, that's something else too. Basically, if anyone does anything with the removable storage at any time, you have to handle a bunch of exceptions, and then you also have to handle the case where the data is corrupted. It's awful.

Anyway, yes, you're probably right. I don't know what that kind of storage costs and what the economies of scale are, but I'm sure Apple could soak them up if they wanted to. But to a certain extent, that choice exists merely so people can feel like they HAVE a choice, and people like that. Even if zero people bought the 16GB version, it's there to make the other two options look better. But that's what the market will bear, I guess. Capitalism. What're you gonna do?

about two weeks ago
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iOS 8 Review

Dixie_Flatline Re:Keyboard (216 comments)

I type one handed all the time while walking on my iPhone. Autocorrect guesses correctly more often than not.

The new shift key is 100% garbage, though. You have to wonder which exec at Apple has made that their pet feature. That's the only possible way that such a wholly unintuitive thing still exists. I've yet to meet a single Apple user, no matter how partisan, claim that the iOS 7 shift key makes even the slightest bit of sense.

about two weeks ago

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