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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

Shirley Marquez Re:Only the US (141 comments)

Symbian can't really be said to have ever dominated the smartphone market, despite its large market share. Most of the Symbian devices were never used in a way that we would recognize as smartphone use; there was little use of apps at all and users never installed any additional apps.

3 days ago
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

Shirley Marquez Re:Newsflash: mobile doesn't actually matter. (141 comments)

Netbooks were a passing fad because they weren't quite good enough, and part of the reason they weren't quite good enough is that Microsoft imposed artificial restrictions on their hardware (display size and resolution, RAM) in an attempt to protect their main Windows business. The new crop of low cost Windows laptops will be good enough, because now they have competition from Chromebooks and they have to match the competition. It's likely that some of them will BE Chromebooks with a different keyboard and software load; I expect to see an Acer W720 soon (with either a hard drive or a larger SSD) though they might not call it that.

3 days ago
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Ballmer Leaves Microsoft Board

Shirley Marquez Re:Oh really... (141 comments)

EC2 has also suffered significant outages. All online services will have one somewhere along the way.

3 days ago
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Microsoft Considered Renaming Internet Explorer To Escape Its Reputation

Shirley Marquez A debate that shouldn't exist (413 comments)

I have had no sympathy for IE ever since Microsoft used their then-monopoly power in operating systems to destroy Netscape. I believe that the correct government response to Microsoft's actions would have been to require them to withdraw IE from the market (stop development, stop including it in future versions of Windows, and modify microsoft.com to refuse connections from it).

5 days ago
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Microsoft Surface Drowning?

Shirley Marquez Re:Confusing the issue (337 comments)

They really couldn't allow WP7-WP8 upgrades because the WP7 devices didn't have enough computing power. Notably, WP7 only supported a single processor core so none of the phones on the market included a dual or quad core CPU.

The people I feel really got shafted were buyers of WP7.5 phones. That came out very shortly before WP8, so people with phones less than a year old were out in the cold. What I think Microsoft should have done is given a free WP8 phone to everybody who bought a WP7.5 phone; there were so few sold that MS could have easily afforded it and it would have bought them some much needed market credibility.

about two weeks ago
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Google Will Give a Search Edge To Websites That Use Encryption

Shirley Marquez HTTPS doesn't make sense for all sites (148 comments)

Some web sites are strictly informational and gather no PII (personally identifiable information) or no information at all. There is no good reason for such a site to use HTTPS - there are no security issues associated with its use. Punishing the search rank of such a site for not using HTTPS is unfair.

about two weeks ago
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T-Mobile Smartphones Outlast Competitors' Identical Models

Shirley Marquez Re:I thought they were different tech (127 comments)

The amount of the T-Mobile network that does 3G on the 1700MHz AWS band is dropping with time. In markets where T-Mobile has introduced LTE, they have moved 3G HSPA+ coverage to the 1900MHz band and refarmed the AWS band for LTE. This unfortunately means lower data speeds for the owners of non-LTE phones in some cases, because they had HSPA+ 42 on the AWS band but only HSPA+ 21 on 1900MHz (T-Mobile owns less 1900MHz spectrum so they are unable to deploy HSPA+ 42 there), but it does improve compatibility for people who bring AT&T phones over to T-Mobile service.

about two weeks ago
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T-Mobile Smartphones Outlast Competitors' Identical Models

Shirley Marquez Technology differences matter... (127 comments)

T-Mobile and AT&T are ahead of Verizon and Sprint in battery life because of their use of GSM. GSM is a widely used global standard while CDMA is mostly found in North America, so power efficiency of the GSM radio probably gets more attention. GSM reception is also less computationally intensive; the spread spectrum methods used by CDMA take more work to decode. This all has some impact even if you never talk on the phone, because it is using power to maintain its connection on the network.

Talk time is a more complex equation. Both standards use power control, so battery life is lower in weak signal areas. A CDMA radio has more stringent signal linearity requirements - it must maintain constant power and constant signal delay across the entire spread spectrum - that make it less efficient than a GSM radio.

Then there is data power consumption. That is a complex calculus of amounts of data, bands and modes used for data communication, and network congestion. AT&T and T-Mobile have a mix of LTE, HSPA+, and HSDPA, and heaven forbid, EDGE in remote areas. (T-Mobile had HSPA+ 42 in some areas though they no longer offer that speed in areas with LTE coverage; AT&T topped out at HSPA+ 21.) Verizon and Sprint mix LTE with 1xEV-DO and 1xRTT; their non-LTE networks are much slower, so any data transmission on those networks takes longer and uses more power.

about two weeks ago
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Sony Tosses the Sony Reader On the Scrap Heap

Shirley Marquez Re:Sony has been dead since the 90's (172 comments)

Sony is hardly going to disappear; their huge presence as a media company (movies and music) will guarantee that. And they have pockets of excellence in hardware. Their still and video cameras have been very nice ever since they started supporting standard SD cards in addition to MemoryStick. Their phone division has stepped up its game and is building some excellent Android devices. Their home audio equipment is also good, though that's not a growth market. The PS4 is doing OK. And they make outstanding 4K projectors for theater use.

But the company is doing badly in a lot of markets that used to be strong points for them. They have abandoned desktop and laptop computers, and now e-readers. They are nearly irrelevant in portable audio. Television was once their flagship product, but they are now nearly invisible in the TV market except for the ultra-high-end niche.

What we are seeing now is Sony reconfiguring itself to be a company that can survive. Getting out of markets where they can no longer be competitive is part of that. It is true that they COULD have been strong in some of those markets had they made better products and not insisted on over-controlling DRM. But Sony is a long way from dead, unlike Radio Shack. (Radio Shack is doing the right things now - lessening their dependence on postpaid phones while staying big in prepaid, and making a push for the maker market - but it's probably five years too late; they no longer have the necessary financial reserves to execute their current plan.)

about two weeks ago
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The XBMC Project Will Now Be Called Kodi

Shirley Marquez Re:This naming trend has to stop (188 comments)

To be fair, SQL isn't an end user tool; it's meant for software developers and system administrators. Those people will be familiar with that rather standard bit of industry jargon. The objection is more valid for the other things on your list.

about three weeks ago
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AMD Launches New Higher-End Kaveri APUs A10-7800 and A6-7400K

Shirley Marquez Re:And unsurprisingly (117 comments)

Hardware video acceleration only helps you if you are using codecs that existed before the chip was manufactured. Widespread use of next-generation codecs such as H.265 is coming soon along with 4K content, so the ability to decode new video formats in software (possibly OpenCL GPU-assisted software) will matter. The extra power consumption for software decoding is death in a mobile environment because of the battery life hit, but using a few extra watts isn't that big a deal on a system that is plugged in.

about three weeks ago
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OKCupid Experiments on Users Too

Shirley Marquez Apples and oranges (161 comments)

OK Cupid's experiments don't bother me as much as Facebook's do because online dating is already a big social experiment.

about three weeks ago
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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

Shirley Marquez Re:Virtual gamepad problems (544 comments)

What ultra portable laptop? Macbook Air, Surface Pro, Chromebooks, Ultrabooks. The category is alive and well.

about three weeks ago
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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

Shirley Marquez Re:NO, all candy bar (544 comments)

They don't? What about all that texting?

about three weeks ago
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Lots Of People Really Want Slideout-Keyboard Phones: Where Are They?

Shirley Marquez Re:Just get a case (544 comments)

Voice recognition is a non-starter in many situations; either there is too much background noise for it to work reliably (using the phone in a club or in the subway) or talking is socially unacceptable (sitting in a restaurant, checking email during a meeting).

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

Shirley Marquez Re:Yep, how the music industry was killed... (192 comments)

In the past, you made an album as a musician and you got $1 or $2. After you paid out your advances, and the accounting game was rigged to make it very difficult to do that. Now you make the album yourself, and you actually make $10 when you sell a copy of it at your gig. Or you put your songs on iTunes and make 50 cents per song sale. (This is all assuming you DON'T have a major label contract.)

about a month ago
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Mozilla Doubles Down on JPEG Encoding with mozjpeg 2.0

Shirley Marquez Re:Hard to get excited. (129 comments)

One fundamental difference. Improving the JPEG encoding used by Facebook would reduce their bandwidth use without requiring users or browser developers to do anything. Moving to H.265 or VP9 video encoding requires two things: that browsers add support for those video formats (some have already done that), and users upgrade to browser versions that include the support.

Most likely, Facebook would not transcode existing images; unless they saved the originally uploaded files (rather than the transcoded ones they made when they were uploaded) that would involve generation loss and thus a degradation of image quality. They would use the new encoder when they transcode new uploads. YouTube DOES retain the original uploads (though they did not in the early days which is why many older videos are only available in 240p or 144p) so they have been able to re-encode videos as new formats become available.

about a month ago
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New Raspberry Pi Model B+

Shirley Marquez Re:Much better board layout (202 comments)

If you're willing to look beyond the Pi, the BeagleBone Black might be a good alternative. It has a significantly faster processor (1 GHz ARMv7 vs. 700MHz ARMv6, about twice the performance typically and even more if your application can take advantage of new SIMD instructions) and more I/O. Add the Audio Cape (24/96 capable TLV320AIC3104 codec, $30) and you're set. The combination won't quite reach your price point (the new 4GB version of the BB Black is about $55) but you could get to $150 for receive-only or $200 for RXTX, not too bad.

about a month ago
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O3b Launches Four More Satellites To Bring Internet To 'Other 3 Billion'

Shirley Marquez Re:Because of course (80 comments)

O3b's business plan isn't currently about selling satellite dishes to individual subscribers. They plan to offer their service mostly to local internet providers, who would in turn provide local service using other technologies. I don't think it's likely that the local providers will have much interest in doing wired infrastructure; 3G or 4G wireless, or WiFi for smaller areas, are more likely.

about a month ago
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Ode To Sound Blaster: Are Discrete Audio Cards Still Worth the Investment?

Shirley Marquez Now a niche market but not completely dead (502 comments)

Most people won't need a separate sound card or external interface for playback of music, movies, or game sounds. Audiophiles with high quality speakers or headphones can still benefit from a good DAC (digital to analog converter). People who want to play surround sound from a laptop may also benefit if they are using a receiver or speaker system that only has analog surround inputs, or if they have an older laptop with no HDMI port.

In a current home theater setup you're likely to be sending sound to the receiver via HDMI. In that setup a separate sound card will give you no quality benefit, because the DAC is in the receiver rather than the computer. HDMI also eliminates the need for multichannel analog audio outputs, which laptops rarely have.

Recording is another matter entirely. Laptops typically only have a mono microphone input. Desktop systems usually have a stereo line in, but even that is not enough channels for many recording scenarios. Onboard ADCs (analog to digital converter) are usually low quality and suffer from high levels of noise, in part because of having to exist inside the electrically noisy computer enclosure. A quality recording interface will let you make much better recordings. The best ones are found in music stores (either brick and mortar or online) or from specialty manufacturers online, not in computer stores, though a Sound Blaster is significantly better than most onboard audio. Special audiophile motherboards may be an exception; those use better converters and pay attention to filtering and shielding.

about a month and a half ago

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