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Ask Slashdot: Best Headphones, Earbuds, Earphones?

cowbutt Re:20 dollar sonies (448 comments)

I got some of those HA-FX67s for about £12 from a supermarket. I wasn't expecting much, but I think they're pretty darned good compared with the Sennheisers at a similar price point I've sworn by in the past. I mostly listen to rock and metal, and with a bit of scooped EQ, they sound pretty good. I suspect they'd work quite well for electronic/dance stuff too.

I picked up a pair of Goldring DR-150s for a bargain price of just under £30 a few years back; they're pretty good for at-home listening, but being open-backed are too anti-social to use whilst commuting etc.

more than 2 years ago

Sandy Bridge-E CPUs Too Hot For Intel?

cowbutt Re:Warranty (244 comments)

The Sandy Bridge-E models are "enthusiast" CPUs, with the top version priced at $1000. Pretty sure the motivation here is that few enthusiasts use the stock cooler, so they figured they could omit it from expensive enthusiast-only CPUs without anybody raising much of a fuss. The money customers spend on a separate HSF is almost certainly going to go to companies like Thermaltake who build overclocker-style HSFs, not Intel.

I agree; that sounds like the most likely explanation, combined with a bit of obscuring inflation (in the same way food manufacturers are cutting package sizes/weights rather than increasing prices).

Incidentally, I've always used the stock Intel cooler that comes with their boxed CPUs and found them to be reliable and to cool the CPU completely adequately, even in a non-air-conditioned domestic environment. The only things that would drive me to third-party heatsinks would be if I wanted to overclock (I don't - I prefer a machine that I can rely upon to perform to specification at all times) or if I was building a completely silent/fanless machine (even my MythTV box has at least four fans in it, which I really don't notice, given the solidity of the Antec case).

more than 3 years ago

'Retro Programming' Teaches Using 1980s Machines

cowbutt Re:They'll just use them to play Elite all day (426 comments)

Emulation would have disadvantages compared with teaching on the actual hardware, but it also has advantages too; it's almost trivial for an emulator to provide In Circuit Emulation-like features, such as being able to snoop on IO, CPU register contents, pause execution etc. Back in the day, devices like the Multiface were the closest thing most people had to debug at the very lowest levels (though some of the POKEs hackers had access to rather more advanced semi-custom built kit).

about 4 years ago

Mobile Phones vs. Supercomputers of the Past

cowbutt Re:Things like this... (247 comments)

Since 1972, we've developed the technology to be able to build autonomous robots to do our exploring for us and sent them to Mars and other bodies in the solar system, which is both cheaper and safer than sending fragile humans.

At least, that's what I tell myself to avoid feeling the doubt in progress that you apparently do. :-)

more than 4 years ago

Why Are Digital Hearing Aids So Expensive?

cowbutt Economics (727 comments)

Specifically size, economies of scale/competition, and subjective value (people value restoration of their hearing more than having a teensy weensy computer they can Facebook on).

more than 4 years ago

Ask the UK Pirate Party's Andrew Robinson About the Issues

cowbutt Re:Forcing authors to lose rights over work (391 comments)

How does the GPL help you gain access to the (trade secret, unpublished) source code for a proprietary application so you can fix a bug or enhance it?

By spotting that they've linked against or included GPL-licensed code, forcing them to stop distributing their binaries, re-write using GPL-free code, or release their own source code. Or, simply by setting an example and creating a community that they feel like contributing to and working with.

I don't propose to solve the issue of proprietary source, just that the Open Source/Free Software movement would still be known as the Public Domain movement if our laws weren't so screwed.

Sure, but by focussing on fair-use of binaries and eliminating copyright protection of GPL and similar licenses makes it possible for proprietary creators to incorporate GPLed code with impunity (which in turn will probably erode the community that developers Free software), whilst not enabling users of proprietary binaries to obtain the source for the applications they use and make use of them in the ways they wish. In other words, it'll make the current situation worse not better. Thankfully, PPUK leadership seem to understand this, these days, but it doesn't stop some of their supporters focussing solely on getting their warez without the risk of prosecution.

more than 4 years ago

Ask the UK Pirate Party's Andrew Robinson About the Issues

cowbutt Re:Forcing authors to lose rights over work (391 comments)

How do "realistic fair use" provisions in copyright law and practice help you gain access to the (trade secret, unpublished) source code for a proprietary application so you can fix a bug or enhance it?

more than 4 years ago

Newspaper "Hacks Into" Aussie Gov't Website By Guessing URL

cowbutt Re:Lock, what lock? (271 comments)

The affected government minister said that the website was accessed 3,727 times, and that this is 'akin to a single attempt to turn the doorknob of an insecure office and kindly accept the 3,727 highly confidential documents that the receptionist hands to you.'

There, fixed that for you, Mr. Minister.

There, fixed that for you.

Having RTFA, I fixed that for you. Doesn't look like there was any brute-forcing of the URL involved, just surfing around retrieving pages and images.

more than 4 years ago

Which Math For Programmers?

cowbutt Depends on what kind of programming you want to do (466 comments)

The 'discreet structures with graph theory' course sounds like it'll be more use for things like systems programming, databases, compilers and the like, whilst the other sounds like it'll be more use if you want to go into graphics or scientific programming.

more than 4 years ago

Best Buy $39.95 "Optimization" At Best a Waste of Money

cowbutt Re:Friends (504 comments)

and rip them off...

Uh, read the article. Who's ripping who off?!

To me, the term 'rip off' implies some kind of intentional deceit. From reading the article, it appears that BB's "optimization technicians" are simply incompetent and unaware of it. Now that BB have been made aware of the poor results of their "optimization", I would hope they would withdraw the service and sell remaining pre-optimized stock without the optimization premium. To continue to do otherwise would indeed be a "rip off".

To "purchase" a product with the intent from the outset of using it to fulfil some short-term need then returning it is "ripping off" the vendor (unless they're naïve/customer-focussed enough to allow 'free trials' and evaluation periods).

more than 4 years ago

The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It

cowbutt Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (383 comments)

Sure; I used to run something like 680x276 on my 8852 monitor. No-one ever enjoyed using interlaced modes, though, even on PCs. The AA chipset also supported PC-like resolutions and there were even third-party graphics cards that mounted early PC accelerated VGA chipsets (e.g. Trident, Tseng, S3) on Zorro cards. That doesn't really change the point I was making as most people used Amigas most of the time in 320x256 (PAL), 320x200 (NTSC) with 32/64/HAM colour palettes, 640x256 (PAL) or 640x200 (NTSC) with a 4 colour palette which are all tiny resolutions by current standards; they were even kinda pokey by 1995 PC standards.

more than 4 years ago

Core i5 and i3 CPUs With On-Chip GPUs Launched

cowbutt Re:Intel branding considered harmful (235 comments)

Even worse than that, at least one model, the Q8300 Core2Quad both does and does not have VT, depending on the sSPEC code; SLB5W doesn't, SLGUR does. Good luck trying to buy one of those online and being sure of what you're gonna get!

more than 4 years ago

The Amiga, Circa 2010 — Dead and Loving It

cowbutt Re:A few great Amiga ideas I'm still waiting for (383 comments)

To shutdown the Amiga, you turned it off. There was no delay, no Start->Shutdown...wait possibly forever...

The Amiga didn't commit changes to disc synchronously, but it provided no sure-fire way to flush all pending write buffers.

Sliding screens. Why not give each application its own full screen and allow the user to pull down the top menu to slide between these screens.

That was a workaround for low resolution displays with small colour palettes. With 1920x1200, 24bpp displays being common place these days, it's easier to just have applications in windows. Remember that nearly 15 Amiga "hi-res" (640x256 for PAL) screens will fit in on a single desktop these days. And we have virtual desktops and multihead, if you need more than that.

Simple speech device. What could be easier than "LIST > speak:" to say a directory listing?

speechd claims to provide equivalent functionality

Bidirectional linked list filesystem. If you lose a sector or sector link, most of the file could be rebuilt by following links from both ends towards the bad sector. (Disk doctor)

On the other hand, we have RAID1(0), RAID scrubbing and SMART these days. If used correctly, you're less likely to lose a bad sector in the first place. Furthermore, Amiga floppy handling was particularly unsafe; writing a sector caused the whole track to be rewritten, without verification (unless you used TrackSalve to patch trackdisk.device, If you insist, you can always use the affs (Amiga FFS) filesystem under Linux. Thought I'm not a filesystem expert, I suspect that it's been superceded by more modern filesystems.

The keyboard garage. The 1985 Amiga 1000 keyboard tucked neatly under the computer where it didn't take up desk space, was hidden from children's fingers and was spill-proof.

USB rollable waterproof keyboards made out of rubber?

Tight integration of hardware with O.S. O.k. this works against everything we've been taught about abstracting everything but since the PC world has boiled down to little more than an O.S. monopoly, a hardware monopoly and a graphics card monopoly, why not eliminate some of the levels of abstraction that will never be used and make my 2Ghz PC perform every day tasks at least as well as my 7Mhz Amiga did?

And cement those monopolies further and make it hard to expand in the future (cf. the trouble Amigans had to go to to introduce support for 'chunky' graphics devices and 24bpp displays)? No thanks.

more than 4 years ago

Extended Warranty Purchases Up 10% This Year

cowbutt Re:Not worth the money? (253 comments)

Have you actually been able to save and locate receipts and warranty papers for some random device you bought 2 years ago? I can't find a receipt after 2 months. After 1 year the thermal receipts really begin to deteriorate

Simple solution: buy a cheap home file and use it, and photocopy or scan thermal receipts whilst they're still readable.

more than 4 years ago

Easing the Job of Family Tech Support?

cowbutt Re:just install linux the next time you reformat (932 comments)

Same here, but my 69 year old dad and CentOS. Firefox, Thunderbird,, gramps, get_iplayer, gcdmaster, k3b, pidgin and he's happy. As other posters have mentioned, I get a little flurry of problems and queries when I'm forced to upgrade him to the latest version of the distro, but after a month or so, I go months without hearing of any difficulties.

As for hardware support, he knows to ask me for recommendations before he buys anything, so I can check it's compatible.

If there's a task he wants to do, he just describes it, I research it and give him a recipe for using it.

For support, I keep sshd listening so I can fix stuff remotely most of the time. This really impresses him, and he likes not having to bother with patches and anti-virus updates.

more than 4 years ago

MythTV 0.22 Released

cowbutt Re:Is it still same config nightmare? (329 comments)

Admittedly, I've never tried it with Xming. But it's fine with a Linux/Xorg/openssh X server on a LAN. It's slow across ADSL/WAN, though.

more than 4 years ago

MythTV 0.22 Released

cowbutt Re:does anyone still use it? (329 comments)

I got sick of MythTV locking up, crashing, and the constant non-stop twiddling with my configuration because I could never get things quite right.

That doesn't chime with my experience of MythTV at all. It took about a day of solid fiddling to get core functionality working, and about a month of on-off work to get most of the other stuff working. It takes maybe half a day when I do a combined hard disc/distro/MythTV upgrade. The rest of the time, it JFWs. I run it on very modest hardware; a P4 2.53GHz (used to be a Celeron 1.7GHz), 768MB RAM and an nVidia 440MX video card. I use 3 physical DVB-T tuners which I multiplex to give 6 virtual tuners.

The only reliability issues I can report are a) /var filling up when I've borrowed space for non-MythTV tasks and forgotten to release it later (doh!) b) the frontend crashing sometimes when playing MP3s; I suspect marginally-corrupt files c) the backend having crashed inexplicably maybe once or twice in the three years I've been running it; quite possibly parsing data that's been broadcast as corrupt, or been corrupted by local RF noise.

more than 4 years ago

MythTV 0.22 Released

cowbutt Re:TV is shit (329 comments)

It may not have intelligent filtering, but MythTV's ability to easily schedule recordings using an EPG makes it trivial to speculatively record things that if one had to use discrete appliances one might not bother setting to record.

It's true that I'm watching more TV since I've had my MythTV box, but I'm pretty sure the quality of the TV I'm watching has improved. For a start, I've virtually eliminated my old habit of channel-surfing through hours and hours of the reality TV pap that's shown in peak hours and replaced it with watching movies, documentaries and quality comedy instead.

more than 4 years ago


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