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126  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Getting Things Done revisited on: April 29, 2013, 10:17:22 AM
Task management software works best as a simple resource to remind the user of what he/she wants to do, not as a traffic cop laying out a schedule and enforcing it. To my way of thinking, one of the most useful features of any task management software is floating events, which simply roll over to the next day, keeping all of their settings, if not completed when originally scheduled.

The original Palm organizer remains the (mostly unmatched) benchmark for today’s PIM software. Pimlico Software’s Datebook, which Handspring included in the Treo, the model for today’s smartphones, added floating events among other enhancements to the Palm organizer. Pimlical for Android and PC, from the same author, includes floating events, as does DTG. but few other task managers do.

A huge advantage of Android smartphones over the iPhone, IMO, is the availability of home screen widgets.  I have both DTG’s widget and Agenda Widget Plus on the home screen of my Android phone.  While Agenda Widget Plus can also display DTG tasks, I prefer to keep tasks and schedule separate. Whenever I look at my phone, which is many times a day, I have everything I need right there to remind me of what I need to do, and when.
127  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: You Want Targeted Ads! on: April 20, 2013, 09:05:37 PM
This so-called "Poll" provides a textbook example of how to frame questions to get answers you can use to prove whatever you want.

Of course, it comes from Zogby, long known in the survey research field for phony polling. ABC News, among others, has a policy against quoting Zogby polls in news articles because they are not credible.

This clip from the British TV series Yes Prime Minister provides a very funny example of how this is done.
128  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Nose on: April 01, 2013, 10:17:36 PM
Google has several other April Fool's jokes today.

My favorite is GMail Blue, a not so subtle jab at Microsoft.

There is also YouTube's announcement that the entire 8 years it has been in existence was a giant contest to pick the best video, and that the deadline is this night at midnight, after which YouTube will shut down to spend the next decade picking the winner.

At this moment, they are streaming a live reading of "submitted entries" which I guess will go offline tonight.
129  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Pirate Vinyl Records! :D on: March 31, 2013, 03:40:36 PM
Classical music, and to a lesser extent, Jazz, provide a better test of recording techniques.

Classical recordings are generally pretty dreadful - especially when soloists are involved. The only place to hear classical music as it should sound is in the concert hall. On recordings the balance of instruments is always wildly different - and usually REALLY unbalanced.


I have to disagree with that.  I have attended many hundreds of live concerts over more than 50 years.  I'd guess about 75% classical, 20% Jazz and 5% popular music. I consider the concert experience to be almost always better overall, but the actual sound of the music often is not.

Sound balance varies tremendously within a venue, and what musicians hear on stage is not what you hear in the audience. And what those in the back row hear is not what those in front or in the balcony hear.  In orchestral concerts, soloists are often hard to hear in the middle of the hall, although they may stand out to those listening on the stage.  That doesn't mean that a recording where you can hear the soloist above the orchestra is out of balance - just that the balance is not the same as what you heard from where you were seated in the hall.

Carnegie Hall in New York is considered one of the finest for classical music. From personal experience, I have found that the best place to listen to a piano recital is nose-bleed territory in the top balcony, whereas the best sound for a full orchestral concert is in the parterre, but you won't hear the soloist as well there.  A good recording -- and many have been made in Carnegie Hall -- allows you to hear it all.

The biggest problem with most recordings is dynamic compression. For LPs, that was required by limitations of pressing and playback devices, although the actual range on the original tapes may have been much greater.  It is not as necessary for CDs, but is usually done because most people don't have playback equipment capable of handling wide dynamic ranges.
130  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Pirate Vinyl Records! :D on: March 31, 2013, 01:44:03 PM
I don’t even consider rock and pop music when talking about the accuracy of sound reproduction, because most of the original sound is electronically generated in the first place. Even the sounds of drums and vocals, which are acoustically produced, are almost always electronically enhanced in performance, as well as in recordings.  Classical music, and to a lesser extent, Jazz, provide a better test of recording techniques.

Binaural sound is a great in theory, not so much in practice, unless you usually attend concerts encased in a concrete block so you cannot move your head.  In practice, we move our heads and ears to adjust both sights and sounds when we listen to music, and that affects what we hear.  And yes, even though it sounds counter-intuitive, what we see affects what we hear, because what the brain perceives as sound is reconstructed from signals received from the ear, and that reconstruction process is affected by other stimuli as well.
131  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Pirate Vinyl Records! :D on: March 31, 2013, 10:20:40 AM
I generally use a flat EQ with no effects. Why mess with what the band and recording engineers intended? Sometimes I'll put up the bass for some music, but in general, I listen to it flat.

Because there is a difference between what is heard in a studio with studio monitors and what comes out of, even expensive, domestic audio equipment.

The difference is because of the location, not the speakers.  You can put the same exact speakers in your living room that are used in a recording studio, but the sound will not be the same because of a different acoustic environment.  The best sound in any given room will be obtained by matching the capabilities of the speakers to the characteristics of the room, and also to where listeners will be positioned.

Sound is the result of complex interactions of pressure waves and it varies as you move around a room, or how many people are in that room.  Newer home audio equipment can do a pretty good job of emulating the ambiance of different concert halls, and the effect can sometimes sound more "natural" than straight reproduction, but neither is more "accurate" than the other.
132  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Pirate Vinyl Records! :D on: March 31, 2013, 09:22:18 AM
I still prefer vinyl for the more organic ambiance and softness of the sound. But that's what I grew up with so that probably has a lot to do with how I feel about it. It's what I learned sounded "right" - and the preference is now linked too deeply in the neurons processing sound for me to feel differently.

Those who go back to vinyl may remember a company that did half-speed vinyl mastering. They were called Mobile Fidelity. An album by them went for about $15 when a regular LP cost about $5-$8. If you had a really good cartridge in your turntable and a decent stereo amp and quality speakers, the difference was like night and day. No warble, hiss, clicks or pops!

Mobile Fidelity is still around, issuing both LPs and CDs in superior sound.

But there are plenty of others now producing superior quality CDs today. There is a much better understanding of digital sound and how to get it right today than there was in the first couple of decades of the CD era (1980-2000).  Among other things,  even though all CDs still play at a 16bit 44.1K sample rate, the quality of the perceived sound is greatly improved by mastering at higher bit depth and sampling rates. This used to require very expensive equipment, but can now be done by anyone on a $500 PC.

The best sound you will find today is from DSD recordings issued on SACD discs, but just listening to the CD tracks on hybrid SACDs mastered by firms like Analogue Productions in the US and PentaTone in the UK will give you an idea of how good a properly mastered CD can sound.

133  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Good for Nick D'Aloisio!! on: March 26, 2013, 12:22:01 PM
Quote
it's essentially a PR stunt,

Sounds right to me.  my radar went up when i saw Salon.com had an article about this.. written by... Marissa Mayer.  So essentially salon.com is now just a stenographer of press releases masquerading as journalism?  Give me a break.
That Salon article was NOT written by Marissa Mayer - it's an AP story that mentions her.  My guess is that someone at Salon meant to tag the article and stuck her name in the byline slot by mistake.

134  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Good for Nick D'Aloisio!! on: March 26, 2013, 10:11:03 AM
Read the article and what it says he is being paid millions for.
Makes no sense to me.  Must be something more to what he is being paid for.
Then again, very little in this world regarding money makes sense to me so..
You are not alone: The NY Times reporter also clearly had no clue as to what D'Aloisio was being paid for, even though the article links to Kara Swisher's article in All Things D which has more to say on the matter.

As this Business Insider article explains more fully, it's essentially a PR stunt, and it appears to be working. I have to give Marissa Mayer more credit than I had previously for knowing how to manipulate the mainstream media and dig herself out of a self-made hole.  Unfortunately, the NY Times reporting on tech matters is superficial, when it is not incompetent . Nothing new there -- it's been that way for at least 30 years and is not likely to change any time soon.
135  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Google data centers on: March 25, 2013, 09:44:47 AM
Today's Washington Post web site has a series of great photos of several Google data centers.

Gives a whole new understanding of the expression "Big Data."
136  News and Reviews / Mini-Reviews by Members / Re: Calibre - e-Book (Personal Library/Document) Management - Mini-Review on: March 24, 2013, 03:06:14 PM
I think wraith808 must be right about the downloaded data being in some other partition.  I've looked through the Nook folder structure in Explorer (with hidden files and folders displayed) and can only find a "Books" folder containing my sideloaded ePub files - no WiFi-downloaded files. The other folders contain .jpg files of the book covers, or annotation files.

The B&N website will put the WiFi-downloaded files into an online library. From there I can download them to a folder on my PC, and then import them into the Calibre library. In Calibre, the library will mark those files that are also on the reader, but since it can't see all of the books on the reader it doesn't mark all of them.

I've also tried using Adobe Digital Editions, and even the Nook desktop reader software. Neither of them show the WiFi-downloaded files.

Thanks to all for your ideas and suggestions!
On a Nook reader or tablet, there is indeed a separate partition for downloaded B&N content. You cannot access it unless you root the Nook device.

On a PC, any book you open to read in Nook for PC is downloaded to \My Documents\My Barnes & Noble eBooks\[Your_B&N_Login_Name].
137  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: image backups after OS reinstall with clean system on: March 24, 2013, 02:52:09 PM
I have made a practice of imaging every system I own on a regular basis for over twenty years (beginning with DOS-based Norton Ghost). I also restore frequently, so I am VERY careful about verifying every image I make, and I archive them, sometime for years.

I used Acronis for a while, but it had stability problems as they crammed in more "features" and I finally gave up on it.  I've also used Paragon's disk management products for about 15 years and have found them to be rock solid. For the past 5 years have relied on Paragon HD manager exclusively for my backup imaging.

Paragon has a whole slew of different utilities, some of which are free, including a version of their disk imaging program. Paragon HD Manager Pro ($99) includes nearly everything they offer and allows you to create a virtual machine from a backup image, which can be very useful if you no longer have the physical system you want to restore to.



138  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Average life expectancy of a Google product/service on: March 23, 2013, 07:40:34 AM
What made me smile was this comment:

"Those with a long memory may think that it looks a little familiar; that's because it is: Evernote offers a very similar service already (and has done since June 2008)"

Those with a longer memory will note that June 2008 was when Evernote moved to the cloud and dumped those who depended on their stand-alone product.

There is an old saying that if your data does not exist in three places, it does not exist at all.  Anyone who believes that a cloud service, be it Evernote, Google or any of the dozens of others, is the safest place to keep their data over the  long term has been smoking some really potent stuff.

The history of computing is nothing but a long list of programs that many people depended on until they had the plug pulled on them.  Smart users take this into account. The first thing I look for when I evaluate any program in which I expect to entrust data  is how it what the import and export capabilities are.

This whole "Can You Trust Google To Keep Your Information?" meme is looking more and more like a cleverly orchestrated PR campaign on behalf of Evernote.
139  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Keep note-taking app spotted on: March 21, 2013, 01:05:25 PM
This sounds a lot like the complaints heard in these precincts some years ago, after Evernote deep sixed its much beloved stand-alone version (2.2) and forced its users into the cloud, whether they liked it or not.

I only looked at Google Keep for a few minutes late last night, but at first glance, it's a lot more like the original Evernote (or Cintanotes) than what Evernote has evolved into.  I find that I hardly ever use Evernote any more. It's just too busy for quick note taking and not capable enough for serious content organization.

Keep looks promising and I may or may not end up using it, but one thing I would never do is put all my eggs in ANY tech company's basket.
140  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Probably the single most obvious reason why DRM doesn't (and can't) work on: March 20, 2013, 05:02:56 PM
You probably know the benefits of having an account with O'Reilly, but others may not.

Among them, the ability to add the ebook version of any of their titles you own in hard copy for an additional $4.99, and notification of updates to any of their titles you have registered with them.  Updates (e.g., from new printings) are free and new editions are typically 40%-50% off. Also, most of their titles are provided in epub, mobi and pdf format for a single purchase, so you can read them on any devices you own without jumping through hoops.

That said, I don't know that this model would work for the kind of books that people read once and discard, like popular fiction titles.
141  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Probably the single most obvious reason why DRM doesn't (and can't) work on: March 20, 2013, 12:43:51 PM
I remember reading an interview with Tim O'Reilly in which he made that claim, but I don't recall when or where it was.

But according to David Pogue, the NYTimes tech columnist, O'Reilly actually did a test with one of his titles and found that while removing DRM did increase piracy, it also increased sales of the book. 

In any case, there is no doubt that O'Reilly's anti-DRM policy has really paid off for them.  In the last year, they have picked up the distribution for ebooks from Microsoft Press and Wiley's Wrox and Dummies lines, among others.

142  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Probably the single most obvious reason why DRM doesn't (and can't) work on: March 20, 2013, 10:34:41 AM
There is in fact a good case to be made that piracy can actually increase sales. 

A recent study by the Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, a think tank that is part of the European Commission (can one get more establishment than that?), finds exactly that in the case of online music.

Also, Tim O'Reilly claims that removing DRM from their ebooks greatly increased sales.

Of course, this only works if what you are selling is something that people actually want to own.
143  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / VMware Workstation 15% off until March 22, 2013 on: March 19, 2013, 02:13:22 PM
VMware has a promotion for 15% off Workstation 9 (for Windows and Linux) and Fusion Pro (for Mac) until March 22, 2013, good for both new purchases and upgrades from earlier versions.   

Workstation licenses are good for both the Windows and Linux host versions. Although you can use your license on only one host at a time, you can transfer it between different hosts without restriction, which makes the high cost somewhat more palatable. You can also use the free (for personal non-commercial use) VMware Player to run stand-alone virtual machines created with Workstation on other hosts.  Player can create VMs, but not clone existing ones as Workstation can.

144  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Linkman 8.80 released on: March 15, 2013, 09:58:07 PM
I've never had any problems with Linkman, and have none with 8.80, but I do wish you would fix some longstanding irritations with the installer.

1) When updating an existing installation in a non-standard location, it should default to that location rather than always selecting C:\Program Files....

2) Installing Start Menu and Desktop links should be separate options, and if the Desktop option is selected, only a single icon placed there, not three.
145  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Amazon creepy ... on: March 09, 2013, 12:03:23 PM
How did they do that? And how do I stop it.

I know it is something to do with cookies but I didn't think all websites could access all your cookies or Google Search - but does Amazon actually have instant access to my Google seeach history!

There are many ways this can be done, but most likely you just have 3rd party cookies enabled. You need cookies enabled for most web sites to function, but in almost all cases, 3rd party cookies serve no useful purpose other than targeted selling.  You can disable 3rd party cookies without disabling all cookies in most browsers. Or install Ghostery, which can tell you who is using them and disable them selectively.

I use Opera for most of my general web browsing, but I use Firefox for online shopping, and clear cookies using Cookie Culler (My #1 add-on for FF) after nearly every session.  I sometimes use Chrome on my Android devices, but I don't have it installed on any PC, except in a VM.  When shopping on Amazon, I will often clear cookies several times during a single session, and always after making a purchase.  Amazon is simply amazing in the lengths to which they will go to track every customer--even more so than Google.

For a depressingly thorough look at the many ingenious ways advertisers track you online, I recommend Joseph Turow's book The Daily You.  Note that it may be somewhat too technical for many readers.

146  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Recommendations for a Host OS? on: March 08, 2013, 08:11:21 AM
Does anyone know how to create a Windows VM (or anything) in Proxmox VE? The docs are basically non-existant, and the ones that show you how to mount an ISO are way out of date and not applicable to v2.
You are making my point more eloquently than I did.

When I say reliable, I don't mean problem free (although that's nice too). I mean that I can rely on what software does, and how it does it. That in turn means adequate documentation, but also maturity and a user base that can be mined for solutions to the inevitable problems.

As for running on bare metal rather than a host operating system, that's asking for trouble, IMHO. Hardware vendors develop drivers for the host OS, not the emulation hardware in the VM. The VM provides drivers for its internal environment, but passes the results to the host, which uses its own drivers to access the real hardware.

If you are a Google or an Amazon, it definitely pays to build your own host environment and optimize it with your own drivers.  For us jes plain folk, relying on what OEMs wrote for Windows, or what the OSS community has developed for Linux, is the smarter way to go.

147  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Recommendations for a Host OS? on: March 07, 2013, 12:52:24 PM
You really need to think about what you are asking for.  You want to run Windows and other proprietary software in a non-proprietary and open environment, but you want the reliability and support that comes with proprietary software.  TINSTAAFL !!!

I'm not a big fan of Microsoft or VMware as corporate entities, but they do provide the most reliable and flexible working environment, which means I can get my work done while wasting a minimal amount of time trying to get everything to work together.

VMware runs on Windows, Linux and Mac (Fusion) hosts, but Windows provides the best host environment.  VMware Workstation 9 is a quantum leap forward over previous versions because of its virtual networking, which makes it dead simple to run a local network of VMs on a single host or over a LAN.  The virtualization manager in Paragon HD Manager Pro makes it easy to create VMs from physical systems .

I could probably get much the same results from a mix of FOSS elements, but life is too short, and there are other things for me to do with my time.
148  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: MS Office 2013 Home/Business - non-transferable (1 PC p.person) - Caveat emptor. on: March 06, 2013, 03:05:34 PM
Microsoft has backtracked because of the furor aroused, "customer feedback" in MS-speak.

However, they are still trying to force everyone into a subscription model - $99 per year for home users and $150 for business users, with up to 5 "devices" allowed per user.
149  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / eWallet at BDJ today on: February 18, 2013, 07:06:03 AM
eWallet for Windows is on sale today at BitsduJour for $7.98.

eWallet is a secure database system with a deceptively simple interface that can be used to store just about any kind of text information and lets the user customize most aspects of how that information is displayed. You can have any number of independent databases, any of which can be synced individually with the Android and iOS versions over a WiFi network.

I've been using eWallet since my Treo PDA -- before what we now call smartphones existed at all.  I use it to keep not just passwords, but nearly any kind of sensitive or important information that I may need to look up quickly.

If your only use for a password manager is logging into web sites, you are probably better off with something like Roboform or Lastpass, but as a secure information manager, I have yet to see anything that works as well, or provides as much flexibility.
 
150  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Yet another reason why I often wish I lived in Massachusettes on: February 05, 2013, 01:13:39 PM
I'd guess that within a few years, that will be the case with all states that have sales taxes, as it should be.

Am I missing something here?

As I noted, sales taxes are among the most regressive forms of taxation, and I personally think that they should be replaced with more progressive forms of revenue, like income, or preferably, wealth taxes.

But if a state does impose a sales tax, it should do so equally for all applicable sales. 

In every state that I am aware of that has a sales tax, if you make purchases and the merchant does not collect state sales tax. you are supposed to report this and pay "use tax" on the purchase.  That nobody actually does so (except for things like automobiles, where it can be enforced by requiring proof of tax payment in order to register a vehicle) just means that merchants that do not collect state and local sales taxes are helping people violate their state laws.

The solution to bad laws is not to allow some people to get away with violating them, but to replace them with better laws.  The same goes for taxes.
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