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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Shirley Marquez Re:Vinyl is pointless for most current music (431 comments)

The tube amp still COULD sound better. (I say could, not does, that's a matter of taste.) An important difference in the situations is that the final power amp is the only large signal amplifier in the listening chain. There are important differences between small and large signal amplification; for starters, small signal amplifiers are almost always run in class A, whereas except for a few designs for fanatic audiophiles, large signal amplifiers run in some other class. (For a long time that was a push-pull design in class AB; now we also see classes G and H as well as the digital class D.

Large signal amplifiers usually add much more coloration to sound than small signal amplifiers do; we can build nearly perfect small signal amps but the large signal ones are another matter. That means that differences in the sound of the final amplification stage can overwhelm many of the effects of earlier stages - not to mention that variations in loudspeakers can overwhelm both.

Tube and transistor large signal amplifiers certainly do sound different. Tubes have a lower slew rate; that tends to soften transients, for better or for worse. Tubes have lower inherent levels of harmonic distortion, so tube amplifiers tend to need less negative feedback. Most tube designs include output transformers, which have their own effect on sound. Capacitors are imperfect devices that some audiophiles believe have an effect on sound; the high voltage caps used in a tube amplifier could sound different from the low voltage ones used in transistor designs. Tube amplifiers usually have a higher output impedance; the impedance of speakers typically varies with frequency, and that means that they will interact differently with tube amps.

Another important distinction is that the sonic damage of amplifiers is all pretty much the same KIND of thing, it's just a matter of degree. The damage done by digital conversion, to whatever extent it exists, is damage of a fundamentally DIFFERENT kind. Some digital damage is easily observed, like the effects of low bit rate MP3 encoding, and no further processing of the music will undo what the MP3 encoding did. (In a different realm, the effects of JPEG encoding on pictures and MPEG encoding on movies is easily seen with the right source materials, and again remains even after additional image processing.) The effects of PCM encoding at sufficiently high bit rates is certainly more subtle if it exists at all. Badly done PCM encoding is another matter; nearly everybody agrees that some early CDs sound terrible.

yesterday
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Job Postings Offer Clues to Future of Google Fiber

Shirley Marquez Re:I can explain the telecommute... (38 comments)

I suspect that they want people who live locally and are familiar with the location for all the jobs. The distinction isn't where you live, it's whether Google has an office there or plans to open one. If they have an office it's considered a local job, if they don't it's a telecommute job.

Google already has an Atlanta office, San Jose is close enough to the Googleplex for that person to be based there. Another post suggested that they will have to open in Portland for legal reasons. That leaves only Phoenix, and that's a likely location for a new Google office. Not sure why they're not considering opening an office in the Research Triangle; the other two southern cities are not prime locations for them. San Antonio is a bit too far from their office in Austin to want to base that person there.

2 days ago
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Forbes Blasts Latests Windows 7 Patch as Malware

Shirley Marquez Re:Can do this without logging off (228 comments)

Yanking the cord on a laptop is ineffective unless you also remove the battery. On some recent laptops and tablets you can't even do that unless you take the machine apart.

2 days ago
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Forbes Blasts Latests Windows 7 Patch as Malware

Shirley Marquez Re:Short sighted (228 comments)

If only it were just the one bad patch. Microsoft has had a number of flawed patches recently.

2 days ago
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Shirley Marquez Re:Wrong conclusion (265 comments)

I'm not a fan of iTunes either. But some people like it, especially Mac owners. (The Windows version has always been a bloated piece of crap and I don't think anybody likes it; at best it's something they put up with because they like their iDevices.) The lack of iTunes integration is a drawback for them.

You own iTunes music in the sense that it is now sold without DRM, and you can back it up, burn it on discs, store it on multiple devices, play it with non-Apple devices and software, and so on without any restrictions. (That is not true of other iTunes content such as books and movies; those still use DRM, and the books only work on iDevices. It was also not true of early songs from iTunes. Apple gave people the opportunity to upgrade some, but not all, of those earlier songs to versions without DRM.) You do not own iTunes music completely, however, because you cannot legally lend it out or resell it.

2 days ago
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Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever"

Shirley Marquez Re:Why does this need a sequel? (294 comments)

Dick's work is notoriously difficult to film; most of the adaptations of his books and stories have not worked well. Ambiguity is key to Dick, and it's hard to capture in film which is a literal medium. The original film version of Total Recall is a good example of that problem; though it is a fun film on many levels, it fails to leave the audience with the existential question of whether the end point of the film is real or yet another layer of implanted memory.

2 days ago
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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Shirley Marquez Vinyl is pointless for most current music (431 comments)

What is really remarkable to me is that some people insist that vinyl sounds better - even when the original recording was made digitally. It is possible but unlikely that digital audio has artifacts that some people can perceive, but if the music was recorded and mixed digitally, whatever damage the format might cause has already been done and will simply be reproduced on the vinyl.

If you like records because they are cool objects or because you get a full size album jacket, fine. Just don't make impossible claims about the sound.

2 days ago
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Shirley Marquez Re:Ignored Niches (265 comments)

That's two MICRO SDXC slots, not two of the standard size ones. So 256GB is the limit for now. That's twice as much as the two lesser FiiO models, which only have a single Micro SDXC slot. X3 owner here - I got one when B&H had it on sale for $130.

3 days ago
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Shirley Marquez Re:Wrong conclusion (265 comments)

128GB MicroSD cards are now available. They cost a bit over $100. Check your player's compatibility; not all older devices can handle cards larger than 32GB.

3 days ago
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Shirley Marquez Re:Wrong conclusion (265 comments)

Actually not. The Cowon devices are high quality media players. But they never sold well in the US, possibly in part because the brand name sounds too much like those cheap knockoff companies.

FiiO is another company making excellent music players, and their latest model, the X1, costs a mere $100 (with no storage but it has a MicroSD slot that accepts cards up to 128GB). American customers are likely to find the manuals offputting, as the version of English used in them bears only a passing resemblance to the standard language. The FiiO players use audiophile-quality DACs that play lossless audio up to 24/192, and the two more expensive models (X3 and X5) also play DSD64 files.

Disclosure: I recently bought a FiiO X3. With high quality music it sounds amazing - far better than any Apple player. (The UI, on the other hand, is merely adequate.) The X1 is a slight step down in quality from my X3 but still blows all iPods out of the water, and it has a better UI with a scrollwheel.

3 days ago
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Shirley Marquez Re: Wrong conclusion (265 comments)

Why would the Classic be allowed, but not the Nano or Shuffle? I would think the security risk of any of them would be identical. Non-Apple players like the Sansa series are slightly higher risks because they are easier to use as general purpose USB storage devices.

3 days ago
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Shirley Marquez Re:Wrong conclusion (265 comments)

Archos used to make players like that. They all seem to be discontinued now; the company's current product line is mostly Android tablets and smartphones, and they still make some flash-based MP3 players that aren't sold in the US. Their hard disk based players never sold in anything like the quantities of the iPod; size, weight, and battery life are all problems. (2.5" hard drives are much higher power devices than the 1.8" drive that was used in the iPod classic.) Now that you can get SSDs and SD cards in reasonable capacities, it would be feasible to build a high capacity media player that used one or both of those; that doesn't get you up to 2TB (or 8TB!) like a rotating 2.5" drive would but it's enough for most uses.

3 days ago
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Apple's iPod Classic Refuses To Die

Shirley Marquez Re:Wrong conclusion (265 comments)

Apple could make a music player with a large amount of flash memory and sell it at a reasonable price. But they can't do it without breaking the price model they have been using for the iPhone and iPad with larger amounts of flash. To preserve that model they would have to sell a 128GB Classic replacement for at least $500, and the market would be very limited at that price point.

Others will step in, and perhaps eventually force Apple to respond. For example, you can buy a FiiO X1 for $100 and add a 128GB MicroSD card for a bit over another $100. That will give you a player with nearly as much storage (a bit over 3/4) at a slightly lower price than what the Classic cost before it was discontinued. It also sounds better, especially if you play lossless audio files. But you don't get iTunes integration.

3 days ago
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$35 Quad-core Hacker SBC Offers Raspberry Pi-like Size and I/O

Shirley Marquez Re:Can it run Flash? (138 comments)

Sure I would, after installing Linux on it. If I wanted to stay with Windows I would try installing the Windows 10 Technical Preview on it, but that might or might not work depending on the hardware in the old system.

I haven't yet found laptops in the trash that were worth having, but I may be looking in the wrong trash bins. I have found desktop systems that would be fine for occasional use. (Mostly they are from the Pentium 4 era, which means they are power hogs that I wouldn't recommend for server duty.) I'm typing this on a Core 2 Duo laptop that I bought for $75 earlier this year, mostly because I wanted a system with a PCMCIA slot. (Why, you ask? Because I own a pro audio box that connects that way.)

about a week ago
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Fraud Bots Cost Advertisers $6 Billion

Shirley Marquez Re:Not sure who to cheer for (190 comments)

Running a web site is an actual job, at least if it's a good site. People ruining the business model with fraud is not a good thing, and botnets clicking on ads is fraud.

about a week ago
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Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

Shirley Marquez What about the benefits? (291 comments)

Just about all the discussion here has been focused on the costs being pushed onto customers. But many Comcast customers also use those WiFi hotspots when they travel, and you only get full access to them if you are a customer. I suspect that for most people, the imposed costs of running the hotspot are less than the value they receive from being able to use other people's hotspots.

The possible exception: people who live near high traffic areas. They might find that a lot of their bandwidth is being consumed by people sitting in a nearby coffee shop or park. Comcast could at least partially fix that by not counting data for the hotspot as part of the speed limit of your service tier, but if you start running up against the speed limit of your cable modem or if the upstream bandwidth on your cable segment saturates because of heavy shared use that doesn't help.

about a week ago
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Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

Shirley Marquez Re:Comcast: Least popular company in the U.S. (291 comments)

By default, speedtest.net will use a Comcast server if you are on a Comcast connection, and they will choose one very close to you. Unsurprisingly, they have lots and lots of bandwidth to those and you will get very high speeds. When I tried it just now I got 99Mbps on speedtest.net, which is very close to the "up to 105Mbps" that is advertised for my level of service. And other people in my house might be using the other 5 Mbps. It's not so much that they're not reporting the data delivery rate; it's that they are reporting the rate to a particularly well placed server.

Servers that are more distant and servers that are not on Comcast's own network will give slower results. When I tried the DSL Reports test to a server in New Jersey I got 42Mbps. Still respectable, but less than half the speedtest.net result. Not as bad as the one-seventh that you report, but as with all things internet YMMV. I have seen downloads from major sites like Microsoft and Apple get above 10 megabytes per second (10 megabytes = 80 megabits), which means that they actually approach the full data delivery rate in some cases. Most likely those downloads are actually coming from local content delivery caches rather than directly from the corporate sites.

The SB6121 still seems to be available, but the SB6141 doesn't cost much more so people might as well buy it. The main difference is that the SB6121 has four channel bonding (theoretical maximum speed 160Mbps or thereabouts) and the SB6141 has eight channel bonding (320Mbps or so). Even if your tier of service doesn't exceed the 160Mbps maximum of the slower model, the additional channel capability might mean that you will get the advertised speed more often because the system will be able to distribute your data over more channels. My new SB6141 also runs much cooler than the two year old SB6121 it replaced, but it's possible that the hardware of the older model has been updated.

I'm not a fan of Comcast's customer service. Last night I actually had an acceptable experience with them (had to replace a failed SB6121 with a new SB6141), but other times have been nightmares. The service works pretty well once they actually get it set up, though, and I haven't had the billing hassles that others have had.

about a week ago
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Comcast Sued For Turning Home Wi-Fi Routers Into Public Hotspots

Shirley Marquez Re: Comcast Business Class (291 comments)

Comcast Business Class is theoretically a business to business service, not a consumer service. (Some non-business customers sign up for it anyway so they can get static IPs and permission to run servers.) Some consumer protections don't apply to B2B services, so the requirement to use a Comcast-provided modem is probably legal. They do allow you to use your own modem for their residential service.

about a week ago
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Google Releases Android Studio 1.0, the First Stable Version of Its IDE

Shirley Marquez Re:Looks pretty impressive... (114 comments)

If you don't have a Windows Phone, or an Android device for that matter, buy one for $50. If you're a software developer, that amount of money should be a rounding error compared to the amount you have spent on your other hardware.

about a week ago
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Orion Capsule Safely Recovered, Complete With 12-Year-Old Computer Guts

Shirley Marquez Re:Herp a derp fast computers DEEERRRPPP (197 comments)

In the current topsy turvy world of semiconductor pricing, a very low end microcontroller may actually be CHEAPER than the collection of transistors and passives you would need to make the LED blink. Certainly if you're doing much more than that, the microcontroller is very appealing.

about two weeks ago

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