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1  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: I'd like to get a Windows Tablet: help me decide. on: July 23, 2014, 04:24:48 PM
Hmm, yes, this seems to be the case for me.  I want a larger screen for reading, like paper size.  I was testing some pdf's on a surface this weekend...I don't know about you, but i liked it a lot better than android.  It's just so fast and snappy.  I also like the fact that i can use my software like pdf xchange etc, which i prefer over my android reader (ezpdf).  we'll see, i think i'll like it a lot barring any hardware bugs.  of course, that's what i said about the windows phone 8, and it sucked.
I tried ezpdf on one of my Android tablets and quickly removed it because it was slow and choppy.

What I use most often for pdf on Android these days is Mantano Reader Premium, which is primarily an ePub reader, but also an excellent pdf reader, much faster and smoother at rendering than even Adobe Reader for Android.  Mantano excels in both document and library navigation.  I also use Moon+ Reader Pro (also primarily an ePub reader that supports pdf), and Repligo, a full featured reader that many prefer to ezpdf but that seems to have been mysteriously discontinued last month.

While I do use PDFXchange on Windows, I can't imagine using it on a tablet because the menu and toolbar interface would be a nightmare on a touchscreen, even with a stylus.

I use two different Android tablets for reading, depending on the document.  For ePub books, which can reflow and resize text, I mostly use a Nexus 7 (2013), which has 1920x1080 resolution and is very light and feels like a light paperback when held in the hand. For larger documents, like 8.5x11 pdf papers, as well as heavily illustrated books, I use a Nexus 10, which has a 2560x1600 screen resolution. Both of these tablets have magnetic covers that turn the display off when you close them, making the reading experience feel even more like a book.  Also, both the Kindle and Nook for Android apps have now improved to the point where they provide a much superior reading experience than the Windows versions, when you are reading books purchased from those sources.

I have tried using the Android tablets for serious work with a keyboard and mouse and, while it can be done in a pinch, it doesn't compare to a Windows notebook.  I've looked at the Surface Pro and it is a really nice Windows notebook, but seriously limited and overpriced for what it is.  If money were no object, I'd buy one just for the fun of it, but I can't see it ever being either my primary working notebook computer or my primary reading device.
2  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: I'd like to get a Windows Tablet: help me decide. on: July 22, 2014, 09:13:09 PM
I don't miss anything in my workflow by not using a tablet, except recently for one thing...reading.  So I want the SP3 basically to use as a reader.  Lol, i know it's overkill (aren't you guys used to me by now?). 

Anyway...I'm getting it this week.  Cool
I wouldn't call that overkill, I'd call it misapprehension.

I use my Android tablets mostly for reading and one reason I do is that the reading apps available on Android tablets are far better than anything equivalent on Windows.

There are a lot of very good reasons to get a Windows 8.1 tablet. Reading is NOT one of them.
3  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: I'd like to get a Windows Tablet: help me decide. on: July 22, 2014, 07:34:04 AM
See my earlier post for my initial reaction to acquiring Lenovo's entry level 8 inch Miix 2 Windows 8.1 tablet.

Four months later, I remain very impressed with the potential of the Windows tablet, and also frustrated by the real world limitations of the environment.  If you need an actual keyboard and mouse to work -- and in most cases, you do -- you lose many of the advantages of a tablet. Also, the Windows desktop does not have the built-in capability of Android and iOS to resize or zoom the screen, which can make it difficult to read, at least for my aging eyes.

I consider the 8 inch form factor ideal for carrying around at all times, but the limitations of the Windows desktop display make it unsuitable for almost any purpose I would use it for. A ten inch or larger tablet is better, but you lose portability and still don't get much in return because of the way the Windows desktop handles screen resolutions. The Metro environment is utterly unusable under any circumstances, IMHO.

As of now, I see the Windows 8.x tablet as mostly an extremely portable CPU that can be hooked into a monitor, keyboard and mouse when needed.  Windows simply does not work as well as Android or iOS for tablet functions like reading, listening to music, viewing video and quick access to a variety of ad hoc utilities.  That means that I still need two devices when I really want just one that can do it all.

But I remain hopeful.

In any event, I would not buy a Windows tablet today that did not have both USB 3.0 and either HDMI or Displayport.
4  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / The Web Never Forgets on: July 22, 2014, 06:24:27 AM
If you value your privacy online, this paper from researchers at Princeton and Leuven universities will be deeply depressing.

One of the reasons I don't use the Chrome browser is that I've always assumed that Google had built persistent tracking mechanisms into it. -- Don't do evil! Don't make me laugh! -- But it now looks like no browser is safe from the relentless efforts of those who make a living by selling your eyeballs to paying customers.
5  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Facebook plays with your mind on: July 07, 2014, 05:30:23 PM
The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a formal complaint today with the Federal Trade Commission over Facebook's "experiment."
6  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Android malware on: July 02, 2014, 05:16:19 PM
I received an email alert today from a credit union where I have an account warning me about a new variant of Android malware called Svpeng that seems to have the US banking industry very worried.

You can read details about Svpeng on the Kaspersky blog.

While I do use online banking, I have always avoided using any bank's Android apps, for a number of reasons, not least of which is that I don't trust any of them to enforce either privacy or security competently.  That now seems to be a wise approach.
7  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Programmers: What size monitors do you guys prefer? on: June 22, 2014, 10:02:36 AM
About a month ago, I went from a 24ā€ 1920x1080 monitor to a 27ā€ 2560x1440 monitor. 

While I greatly appreciate the larger work space, I had to increase the default Windows text size from Medium to Larger in order to be able to read much of what is on the screen.  This has made me acutely aware that support for large fonts is really inconsistent in a lot of software.  All too often, text in dialog boxes is cut off or nearly unreadable.  Iā€™d guess this problem would be worse on a 4K monitor.
8  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: Android: (Wired) File Transfers from PC on: June 13, 2014, 03:06:54 PM
Another option, if the USB port on your device supports OTG (USB On The Go), is an OTG flash drive like this one.  It has a micro USB male plug in addition to the regular USB A plug and supports USB 3.0 on the PC side.  You can also buy OTG cables for less than $10 that allow you to plug any USB flash drive into the Android device.
You will also need an app like Stickmount (requires root) or Nexus Media Importer to read from the flash drive on the Android side.
9  Main Area and Open Discussion / Non-Windows Software / Re: Android: (Wired) File Transfers from PC on: June 12, 2014, 09:26:50 PM
Wired transfers are a real PITA with most of the newer Android phones because Google does not want users to be able to access the file system from outside Android.  Wireless transfers are much easier because there are many Android file managers that allow you to browse a Windows network and transfer files in either direction.

Most of the time, I use the X-plore File Manager to transfer files to my Android devices.  

If I want to move a lot of files in or out, or back things up, I will load an ftp server on the Android device -  there are a number of them, but the one I've settled on is built into File Expert, another file manager.  Then I can access the ftp server from a PC and transfer files -- I usually use Beyond Compare for this.
10  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Call to arms on net neutrailty on: June 05, 2014, 02:13:09 PM
So many people tried to post comments on the FCC Web site after watching John Oliver's very funny rant on net neutrality a few days ago that the site crashed.

There have been some complaints from the usual suspects that Oliver doesn't understand net neutrality, but IMHO, he has done all of us a great favor by bringing the debate to the masses in a way that the masses can actually understand.
11  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage. on: May 30, 2014, 08:54:37 PM
In response to Secretary of State John Kerry's statement that Snowden is a traitor and a coward because he won't come back to the U.S. to face a fair trial, like Daniel Ellsberg did with the Pentagon papers, Daniel Ellsberg commented today that:
Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time, and he knows what I learned more than four decades ago: until the Espionage Act gets reformed, he can never come home safe and receive justice
12  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage. on: May 28, 2014, 04:56:38 PM
NBC News is supposed to air their interview with Snowden tonight.  In the meantime, the network has posted an excerpt in which he states that he was not a low level technician, but was in fact trained as a spy and did undercover work for the CIA and NSA.
13  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Nice guide to using a RAM disk on: May 27, 2014, 12:15:25 PM
TechARP has posted the RAM Disk Guide Rev. 2.0, a useful guide to when and how to use a ram disk under Windows.

14  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Our experiences with LED light bulb replacements on: May 21, 2014, 09:17:32 AM
The Philips "lollipop" (as 40Hz dubbed it) design is supposed to provide an internal channel to circulate heat away from the base, allowing for a smaller heat sink, and thus a lighter and cheaper bulb.
15  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Hey Mouser... you still drowning in student loan debt? on: May 20, 2014, 09:15:10 AM
Here's some current statistical information from Pew Research about student debt and its socio-economic effects.

Read it and weep.

16  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: How long do hard drives actually live for? on: May 20, 2014, 06:46:11 AM
Backblaze has a new report that shows absolutely no correlation between drive temperature and failure, based on  data they collected from 34,000 hard drives.

In other words, keeping drives cool does nothing to keep them running longer.
17  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Our experiences with LED light bulb replacements on: May 17, 2014, 09:25:12 PM
I have replaced most of the light bulbs in my house with LEDs.  I had been using CFLs whenever possible, but have now gotten rid of nearly all of them because I MUCH prefer the light quality of LEDs. 

LED Prices have come down dramatically in the past year, helped in my area (Massachusetts) by subsidies and rebates from the electric companies: For example, the Philips flat 60W equivalent bulbs Cranioscopical paid $12 for sell for $4.99 at my local Home Depot, as do the Cree 60W bulbs.  Philips A21 100W equivalent bulbs are selling there for $14.99.

3000K is the best color temperature for most LED lighting, IMHO, but it is hard to find in most sizes, 5000K is awful, except for a few situations like workbench lighting.  2700K is the standard for "warm white" incandescents and is fine for most indoor lighting and good for reading.  Most current LED bulbs have a color rendering index (CRI) in the mid 80's, but I have recently found some Feit PAR-20 LED bulbs with a CRI of 93, and the difference in quality is dramatic when they are used to replace LED or halogen bulbs that produce the same nominal light as measured in lumens.  I expect to seem more high CRI bulbs becoming available.

In general, I have found Feit bulbs to be the most reliable and to have the best dimming performance, but I have only seen them in a few sizes, and none above a 75W equivalent.  The Philips A21 75W and 100W equivalents give good light at full setting, but tend to shut themselves down when dimmed.  The 60W flat Philips are very good and I hope that design will find its way into brighter bulbs. I have generally found Cree bulbs to be inconsistent in light output and very poorly constructed.
18  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Need a free survey site on: May 13, 2014, 04:54:40 PM
SurveyGizmo and Qualtrics are the preferred tools for web surveys among many research professionals.  I've never used either myself.

SurveyGizmo has a free plan which is limited to 50 responses per month. I don't know if it has any limits on questions. They have a single user plan for $15/month and also offer a 14 day free trial.

One complaint about Qualtrics among researchers is that it is expensive,  but many university systems have licenses that allow people there to use the program for free, so you might check on that.
19  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: 4 (Maybe more) Absolute top go-to programs on: May 10, 2014, 06:56:39 PM
Anyway, I've never found a good client option.  I hate Outlook.  i don't much like thunderbird. What else is there?  the other options seem to either be really old and unsupported or too new and overly simple.
I personally use SeaMonkey for email. It's sort of like Thunderbird for grown-ups. Being based on the Mozilla code, it is kept up to date with Thunderbird (and Firefox), but the email UI is much simpler and more palatable to me.
20  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Atom - A new editor is born on: May 09, 2014, 01:37:13 PM
What I want in an editor:
Rectangular/column/block edit mode
Bookmark lines with a regex search and manipulate bookmarks (invert, blank lines, etc.)
Perform actions on bookmarked lines (copy, delete, move, etc)
Automatic incremental block fill (select block and fill/insert with 001, 002, 003, etc.)

Kedit does all that, and then some, which is why I still use it more than any other editor, even though it hasn't been under active development for years.   The author has made some changes to keep it working under Win7 and Win8, but in doing so, he unfortunately changed it to use the registry for settings instead of the .ini file previously used.  A major mistake, IMHO!

Windows only, but known to run with WINE. Also, expensive.  Line oriented, so search targets cannot cross line endings.  If you are comfortable with REXX, you can make it do almost anything.
21  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: ADATA S102 64 GB USB 3.0 $5 promo ends May 1 on: May 02, 2014, 10:32:51 PM
PNY Turbo High Performance USB 3.0 Pen Drive (P-FD128TBOP-GE) seems to be the $/GB leader by a whisker: $48.95 for 128 GB at Amazon.com.
22  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: How to repair zip files? on: April 25, 2014, 10:13:27 AM
WinRAR can create RAR files with an internal recovery record that slightly increases the archive size, but lets you to recover the contents of damaged RAR archives when the corrupted or missing segment is no larger than the size of the recovery record.

However, according to the WinRAR help file, "ZIP archive format does not support the recovery record."
23  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Microsoft: All your data are belong to us. on: April 25, 2014, 09:59:55 AM
Here's a new revelation about how Microsoft treats users' data: It seems that Microsoft OneDrive for Business modifies files as it syncs without notification and without changing the file modification time stamp.

Just what is going on is not clear, and might be completely harmless, but it certainly reinforces concerns about privacy in the Microsoft cloud.
24  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind on: April 23, 2014, 03:15:13 PM
If an audiophile truly wants "as it was intended in the studio" sound, all they need to do is cruise eBay for some Yamaha NS-10s which were the most common studio near-field monitors for years.  That is, the speakers the engineers and producers listened to when doing recording, mixing and mastering.
That's not really true.  Yamaha NS-10 speakers have a harsh sound that tends to exaggerate sound defects.  That makes them useful for monitoring certain types of recordings because you're more likely to spot problems before committing them to the can.  But it's not necessarily what you want to listen to at home, particularly if you like classical and acoustic music.  They are also reasonably portable.

Bowers & Wilkins 800 series speakers have been the monitors of choice for many major recording studios (e.g., Abbey Road) for decades, because of their unmatched faithfulness and transparency.  Unfortunately, a matched pair of 802 studio monitors will cost you at least $25,000 and is not really suitable for a living room not capable of fitting a symphony orchestra, nor an amp rated at less than 400 w/channel.
25  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Once again, magically expensive items are only different in your mind on: April 23, 2014, 02:10:33 PM
But most of us save audio files in digital format. Some use FLAC, I prefer wav as do all of the engineers I work with. There is a reason programs like ExactAudioCopy use wav as the default copying format.
For working with digital audio, you definitely want to work with wav. For long term storage of anything except original recording masters, I consider flac the better choice.

flac is a lossless compression format that allows you to use musical contents without decompressing the entire file. Unlike MP3., AAC, etc., the source material is not changed, but if you work with it directly, there can be artifacts introduced by the interaction of codecs and sound processing software. However, if your conversion software does its job correctly, you should be able to convert a flac file back to wav format and the results should bit compare to the original.

If I were doing sound engineering today, I'd probably keep multiple copies of original masters in the original (wav) format simply to avoid any potential problems, but I would compress at least one archival copy using software with some kind of parity recovery to guard against corruption. flac does not have any recovery capability, but for anything that is not going to be used as a master for further processing, it works just fine and saves a lot of storage.

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