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Grand Ayatollah Says High Speed Internet Is "Against Moral Standards"

RalphBNumbers And the lord said unto them... (542 comments)

64kb/s ought to be enough for anybody.

about 5 months ago

NVIDIA Challenges Apple's iPad Benchmarks

RalphBNumbers Apple's numbers make sense (198 comments)

We recently saw a graphics benchmark of the A5 vs the Tegra3 posted to /., and the A5 beat the Tegra in real-world-ish benchmarks, and more than doubled it's score in fill rate.

The A5X is basically just the A5 with twice as many GPU cores, and graphics problems tend to be embarrassingly parallel, so unless it scales up really poorly with those extra cores (due to shared bandwidth limitations, or poor geometry scaling) it should have no problem beating the Tegra 3 by 2x, especially in terms of fill rate.

And when you quadruple the number of pixels on your screen, as Apple just did, which measurement matters? Fill rate.

more than 2 years ago

Google Heads Up Display Coming By the End of the Year

RalphBNumbers Re:Lenses (177 comments)

Heck you could even possibly replace the lenses themselves with a modified display that uses a camera and alters the image to your prescription.

Nope, sorry, optics don't work like that. At least not with the kinds of displays we have now (I suppose we might eventually have some sort of light-field display, to be used with a light field camera, that could recreate all of the incoming rays of light, rather than one or several flat images).

However an uncorrected conventional display may work fine for nearsighted people simply because it would be close to their eye.

more than 2 years ago

The Weight of an e-Book

RalphBNumbers That doesn't sound right. (243 comments)

Is he assuming that when a book isn't present all the flash cells are set to zero? Because that isn't generally the case.

more than 3 years ago

Are Consumer Hard Drives Headed Into History?

RalphBNumbers Are you looking at the wrong metric? (681 comments)

Hard drives may still be much cheaper in terms of $/GB, but that is only the important number for geeks who actually care about big drives.

The important number for the mass market is the minimum price for a new drive of minimally usable size (call it 32-64 GB for now, it's drifting up, but not terribly quickly by the standards of exponential tech progression). And I suspect that SSDs will surpass HDDs in that metric fairly soon. A hard drive has a certain amount of unavoidable manufacturing complexity and materials requirements, no matter what the capacity, whereas a SSD is basically just chips and can be made almost arbitrarily cheap as fabrication technology leads to fewer and smaller chips being required for the same capacity and performance.

In a five years or so, I expect the "drive" on most new computers to be just another $10 chip on the motherboard.

more than 4 years ago

German Military Braces For Peak Oil

RalphBNumbers Re:Well I don't think it'll be a problem like that (764 comments)

Adaptation may be the solution in the medium-long term, but it is also the problem in the short term.

Building new power plants and alternative fuel cars (and alternative-binder-asphalt roads to drive them on) and such takes time and money and politicking. If the falloff in oil supply is rapid, there will inevitably be shortfalls in the transition. And even if the transition to other energy sources can keep up with oil's falloff rate, the transition itself will cause massive shifts in required job skills. Some new jobs will be filled by the new generation, and some current generation workers will take the trouble to get trained for new positions, but what about all the workers who can't or won't get qualified for a new job to replace their old one in a dying industry? Even if you're hard hearted enough not to care about them personally, imagine the damage that huge numbers of newly unemployable people could do to society (especially if they line up with the retirements of the baby boomers as closely as they would now).

These sorts of concerns are why we need to start adapting asap, before oil prices go through the roof. The more we can decrease the rate of transition, by stretching it out across more time, the less disruptive it will be at any given time. When real trouble arrives, more plants will already be built, more alternative technologies will already be developed into marketable products, and more people will already have secure post-peak-oil jobs and the skills that come with them (including the ability to pass those skills on to others).

Simple supply/demand curves need to be made a trailing indicator rather than a leading indicator in this case for the good of civilization.

more than 4 years ago

OLPC's XO-1.75 Laptop To Have a Multitouch Screen

RalphBNumbers Re:Patent Problems? (171 comments)

Steve Jobs at one point offered to donate MacOSX licenses for every OLPC, and was turned down because the project's leadership at the time was dead set on free as in FSF software.
It'd be interesting to see if he'd do the same with iOS and all it's associated multitouch patents, but somehow I think that the OLPC project's visionary potential may have faded too far to attract such an offer again (even as their arrogance may have faded too far to reject such an offer again).

more than 4 years ago

Google to Open Source the VP8 Codec

RalphBNumbers Re:Yeah, but... (501 comments)

I expect there are some programable components, but adding whole a new codec to existing hardware decoders may be asking a bit much.

However, On2 already offered VP6 video decoder hardware designs like this one: http://www.on2.com/index.php?549
And, as I understand it, one of the big factors in the VP8 codec design was correcting issues with VP7 that made it hard to implement efficiently in hardware (or parallel software for that matter). So, I would expect them to be working on VP8 hardware decoders.

more than 4 years ago

US Mobile Data Traffic Usage Exceeds Voice

RalphBNumbers Re:Voice data is relatively small... (71 comments)

Ok, first off, loading Yahoo takes about 900 kilobytes (kB), not kilobits (kb).
Your 10minute conversation at 15kbps works out to 9 Mb, which is only 1.125MB.

And in reality cell phone codecs only take even close to 15kbps when they're running at full quality (and cell carriers being what they are, it's my understanding that they almost always skimp on that quality by at least half).

Wikipedia says AMR (the codec used in GSM and UMTS) varies between 12.2kbps and 1.8kbps.
Even the full 12.2kbps works out to 915KB for a 10minute conversation, the 1.8kbps rate only uses 135KB.

Of course, I think those are single channel rates, and you'll normally send as well as receive and thus double the data transmitted.

Overall I wouldn't call the voice call's relative data size minuscule, but it could easily wind up being less than a large-ish page load requires.

But in this case, it might be more appropriate to compare bandwidth needs. And in that measure the voice call really could be minuscule in comparison, since it's load is spread out over minutes instead of seconds.

more than 4 years ago

Apple iPad Reviewed

RalphBNumbers Re:You almost had me going, but... (443 comments)

Yeah, all the other reviewers I saw who tried testing the battery life got more than the specified 10 hours (12:23 for Pogue, 11:28 for Mossberg).
Lets see some real reviews, not just the outlier /.!

more than 4 years ago

It's 2010; What's the Best E-Reader?

RalphBNumbers The Skiff looks nice, except for who controls it (684 comments)

The Skiff Reader has a flexible touchable screen with more viewable area and resolution than the Kindle DX, while still being thinner and lighter.
Unfortunately, it's still a bit vapor-ish, and I don't think the consortium of publishers backing it are the right people for the job. Online distribution needs a strong device maker and/or store manager to keep the old media types in line, otherwise they'll just keep raising prices and restrictions, trying to make sure there is no threat to their traditional businesses, until the new market is completely strangled.

The iPad is at the other end of the spectrum, it handles color and refreshes in miliseconds instead of seconds but it's also heavy and thick (what do you expect with a big glass covered IPS LCD screen and ~5x the battery capacity of any of it's competitors to power it). But it does have an extremely strong device/market centered backer, and I kind of expect it's descendants to prevail in the long run as low power and high power/contrast/speed/color display technologies converge.

more than 4 years ago

Mozilla Accepts Chinese CNNIC Root CA Certificate

RalphBNumbers Does anyone notable *not* support CNNIC? (256 comments)

I just checked, and both MacOS X and Windows 7 seem to trust the CNNIC root...

If this is really a problem, and I haven't the slightest idea if it is, then it extends way beyond firefox.

more than 4 years ago

Vimeo Also Introduces HTML5 Video Player

RalphBNumbers Branding over functionality... (369 comments)

It seems that both Youtube and Vimeo have both chosen to use their own custom controls, and disable the default controls native to the user's browser.

That wouldn't be such a big deal, except for the fact that full screen mode can currently only be entered using those default controls (making full screen mode available via a scripting api is considered a security risk, and thus discouraged by the HTML5 spec). So they're sacrificing that functionality at the alter of branding.

about 5 years ago

US FTC Sues Intel For Anti-Competitive Practices

RalphBNumbers Re:Read the FTC release (230 comments)

Ok, given the prices listed here, it looks like the un-discounted components of a common 1.6Ghz/945GSE Atom chipset are $44/$26/$13 for the processor/northbridge/southbridge, for a total of $83.

Intel doesn't seem to show bundle discounts anywhere I can find on their public site, so I can only guess at what exactly they are. If only the CPU received any discount at all, the discounted bundle bundle would cost $64, but if we assume the other components are discounted at the same rate needed to bring the Atom itself down to $25, that means the whole bundle would cost about $47. That's more than the $44 the Atom alone would cost but not by much, especially on the low end.

If my exact statement was untrue I apologize, but the core fact remains that Intel was using their processor pricing to undermine their chipset competitors.
That may be business as usual in some circumstances, but it's a problem if the business doing it is considered a monopoly, and even if they're not a monopoly it can be a problem if they're found to be dumping (ie, if the price of an Atom with a chipset bundle minus the price of an Atom alone is greater than the chipset's production costs, iirc).

more than 5 years ago

US FTC Sues Intel For Anti-Competitive Practices

RalphBNumbers Re:Read the FTC release (230 comments)

Would you care to provide evidence that Intel never sold an Atom alone for more than the price of the same Atom bundled with a chipset?

There are certainly articles like this one at Reuters saying it did.

more than 5 years ago

US FTC Sues Intel For Anti-Competitive Practices

RalphBNumbers Read the FTC release (230 comments)

The FTC press release says:

"To remedy the anticompetitive damage alleged in the complaint, the FTC is seeking an order which includes provisions that would prevent Intel from using threats, bundled prices, or other offers to encourage exclusive deals, hamper competition, or unfairly manipulate the prices of its CPU or GPU chips

That sounds like a pretty direct strike against Intel's moves in the graphics market lately. Selling an Atom alone for more than the price of the same Atom bundled with a chipset, trying to prevent Nvidia from making chipsets for their Nehalem CPUs, bundling their own GPU on the package of all of their low to mid range next generation CPUs, etc...

It should be interesting to see how Intel responds to this. It's probably too late to make any major changes to Clarkdale/Arrandale before they ship, so on-package GPUs are definitely coming. But imagine if Intel were required to sell bare dice at fair prices (surprisingly enough, packaging a die is one of the most expensive steps of chipmaking), so that others could do the same thing. Imagine an intel chip with an on-package Nvidia or AMD GPU...

Sometimes I wonder if computers will always be built around motherboards as we know them. As motherboards shrink, and we start seeing multiple dice on a single package even in low end consumer gear, could the motherboard eventually be replaced with one big multi-die package? It would certainly reduce size and bring part counts down, and I expect it would allow for lower power consumption and higher speeds as well (although, of course, it would make building your own as an enthusiast impractical).

more than 5 years ago

Android 2.0 — Competition Against the iPhone and the Rest

RalphBNumbers One problem killing the iPhone... (347 comments)

One problem killing the iPhone, is that most of the iPhone's weaknesses are one policy change away from disappearing.

Enough people want background apps? Well there they are.
Enough people want customizable lock screens? Alright, that's easy enough.
Enough people want shared file storage? There, done.
Enough people want post-hoc approval of apps, like Android? No problem, it'll save Apple time and money to boot.
Enough people want unsigned apps distributed outside the app store? Ok, here you go.
Enough people want Flash, or other browser plugins? Fine, Adobe has been clamoring to put Flash on iPhone since it's inception.
Enough people want root access? Fine, administration is their problem.

Apple keeps those measures of control because they help to protect their platform's image from incompetent or unscrupulous coders, and their negative impact on most users is relatively minor. If that balance ever shifts, either due to more competent coders (supposedly Flash 10.1 is heavily optimized) or more demanding users (with friends whose phones do some or all of the above), the rules can change in an instant.

more than 5 years ago

Netflix Coming To Sony PS3

RalphBNumbers Using BD-Live is the real story (145 comments)

The report on this this that I saw at ars technica said this is implemented using BD-Live. If that's right, then it means that any fully featured BluRay player could do it.

So Netflix will have effectively co-opted the next generation physical media installed base for their online distribution system. I think that's a pretty big deal compared semi-supporting one more console, don't you?

more than 5 years ago

Thieves Clear Out Apple Store In 31 Seconds

RalphBNumbers You're not kidding, check out CNN's take (459 comments)

Quoth CNN's article:

The magsafe cords detached instantly, offering no resistance and leaving power sockets undamaged.

Finally, the stiff unibody shells meant that the villains could grab the notebooks one-handed from a corner with no flexing, and no risk to the internal circuitry, the tough aluminum bodies resisting the jostling clanks inside the sacks.

And so we see that it is true that Apple really does design for the end-user, with small efficiencies that all add up. Thanks to Apple, the scoundrels managed to load up their booty 23 Macbook Pros, 14 iPhones and nine iPod Touches in just 31 seconds.

MacBooks: Laptops for a better class of criminal!

more than 5 years ago

Nokia Releases Linux Handset

RalphBNumbers Virtual memory on a phone's flash... (484 comments)

The product page says it has 256MB of physical RAM, and 1GB virtual...
Using virtual memory on a phone's flash storage strikes me as questionable. There have to be reasons that the iPhone/Pre/Android don't do that.

Isn't all the swapping going to wear out your flash pretty fast? And, assuming this thing only has one or two flash chips like most phones, and therefore can't bond a bunch of channels together with a fancy controller for speed like a SSD, isn't it going to be really slow?

Do the previous Mameo devices do this? If so, how does it work.

more than 5 years ago



AT&T now supports open access for 700Mhz band

RalphBNumbers RalphBNumbers writes  |  more than 7 years ago

RalphBNumbers (655475) writes "AT&T has reversed it's previous stance, and broken ranks with the other major cellular providers, by endorsing FCC chairman Kevin Martin's plan to require open access to 22Mhz of the 60Mhz to be auctioned by the FCC in the 700Mhz band. This statement prompted Verizon to reiterate their opposition to any open access requirements, and Google to state their wish that the entire 60Mhz be auctioned with open access requirements.
Open access rules would require the auction winner to allow any compatible device to connect to their networks on the effected spectrum."

Link to Original Source


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