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1  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Lead free solder on: Today at 07:16:01 pm
RoSH is but one example of stupid EU law made by ignorant  in the UK we have had to suffer from them for years.
Some of what I see leads me to believe the EU actually has more sense than they're often given credit for.  They tend to take baby steps that, while upsetting lots of folks along the way, do seem to be focused on trying to prevent death by a thousand papercuts.  (Individually small problems that add up to formidable trouble.)

There are always side effects, and many variables too complex to take into account without seeing how things play out over time.  Lead-free solder definitely has its issues, but the industry wouldn't have made that jump voluntarily.  Now, there's incentive to figure out how to make it work.  Not quickly, not painlessly, but when there's sufficient incentive (like... well... it being the law) a solution will be found.

Ultimately, will it help or hurt?  Hard to say, but I respect the effort.  In America, we would just go on with the cheap and easy way until it killed us.

Other stupid examples are the new power restrictions on vacume cleaners, hair dryers and electric kettles. This is in order to save power. Well you just have to have these devices on longer so there is no saving.
There was a healthy debate going on over this one at EEVBlog.  I can't say I feel much sympathy for all the poor EUers. smiley-wink  Everyone seems to feel like there will be no end of trouble now that vacuums are limited to <2kW.  Well, we've been subject to that limitation for a long time on account that our standard wall outlets can't provide any more than that anyway.  We do just fine.

Similarly with kettles.  I make tea in a single-cup boiler that takes I think 1400W, and does its job in about one minute.  Now, if you're making oatmeal for a small army, yeah it's going to slow you down.  But I assume you're still allowed to have stoves for when you need the extra muscle?

Anyway, the most interesting aspect of those proposals is this:  Not only does the EU wish to restrain the (ever-climbing) power requirements of ordinary appliances, but also to set goals for efficiency, performance, and durability.  AND require that information to be posted on the product the way heating and laundry appliances do.  The net result of this is that efficiency is now a tangible figure the consumer can use to make decisions, instead of being impressed by the sheer ability of the thing to consume power -- whether it provides any real benefit or not.

Low hanging fruit?  Big picture thinking?  Willingness to piss off an entire industry for the greater good?  I'll tell ya Mike -- I'll trade my government's faults for yours.  smiley-grin

Also the now repealed law stating that you could not advertise bottled water as being rehydrating.
My hope is there's more to it than that, because I agree:  That just sounds stupid.
2  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Who hasn't accidentally touched a mains voltage once or twice? on: Today at 02:55:05 pm
Recipient being you or them?  If them, they were not seeing that voltage, the telco's equipment was seeing it.  I actually wonder how the telco protects their equipment from that sort of thing (and lightening too).  Zeners, maybe...

Recipient being this guy.  This was mid-90s, but I suspect even then the calling party and I were separated by a digital trunk.

Not a whole lot has changed in line interfaces, AWOL.  I'm not on "that" side of the house, but a lot of the equipment still hails from the mid to late century.  We have racks of giant brown switching boxes here.  One night during after-hours maintenance, I wandered around to see what there was to see.  Came across a NOISY cabinet.  On closer inspection, I found it was a hard disk drive about two feet wide and four feet long!  I had seen one removed and sitting off to the side before, and just assumed it had been there since its glory days and never trashed.  I was shocked to find that one was still in operation!  (Now whether it is doing anything is another matter.  Wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that it was still running because no one bothered to power it down after an upgrade in 1987.)
3  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Scotland Reveals Currency Plan on: Today at 02:45:18 pm
What??  No obstructionism?  That's un-American!
4  Community / Bar Sport / Re: 60 capacitors? on: September 18, 2014, 06:56:23 pm
I don't suppose it would matter if all three decoders used a reference implementation -- or even the same library?  After all, all those $1k power cords use the same cheap 12/3 back to the breaker panel...
5  Community / Bar Sport / Re: 60 capacitors? on: September 18, 2014, 03:47:02 pm
Heh, yeah well.  I did it for a few reasons.

One, I don't want to say something is impossible without good reason for believing it really is.  After all, lossless might just mean "mostly" lossless.  Who would miss a few bits here and there?  CD audio is not perfectly flawless, for example.  Defects on the disc might lead the player to generate interpolated samples.  Usually, you would never notice it happening -- and CD-ROM drives doesn't always tell software when this is happening.  That's why good ripping software reads sectors more than once and compares the output, and then generates checksums that can be compared with online databases.

Second, if lossless really means lossless, it should be relatively easy to prove the case.  It does and it was.  What shocked me was how, in the face of such evidence, there can still be some who staunchly contend they can hear otherwise.  And even then, I'll concede that playback software is not guaranteed to be bug-free.  But we're getting into murky waters there...
6  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Who hasn't accidentally touched a mains voltage once or twice? on: September 18, 2014, 03:39:18 pm
Ha!  Yeah, I added an extension to our home line once.  We got an incoming call while I was wrapping the wires around the set screw in a wall biscuit.  It's a bit less obvious than mains... took a second to notice I was feeling something, then realized my fingers were starting to hurt!  I heard later from the calling party that the line was doing "strange things".  (Yeah, like electrocuting the recipient!)
7  Community / Bar Sport / Re: A Casio power chord tale on: September 18, 2014, 02:59:23 pm
Dave of EEVBlog fame did an 80s era keyboard rework along these lines.  Same story.  Lots of soldered connections, lots and lots of screws, etc.  Devices back then were pretty simple, and labor was relatively cheap.  The economics have definitely shifted, giving rise to the designed-for-manufacture stuff you see now.

On a similar note (haha), I have a MIDI controller (keyboard with no onboard sounds) that would regularly glitch on power-up.  It would take a few attempts to get it to boot successfully, and more troubling, it would often lose -- or randomly change -- its configuration.  You never knew what mapping and velocity settings you would get.  Turns out, the boneheads designed a perfectly good keyboard, but felt it necessary to switch both sides of an LM7805 regulator.  smiley-confuse  The contact bounce would confuse the poor PIC micro.  So, I shorted the regulated side of the switch, only letting the switch break the input side instead.  Works like a charm now.

It's nice to have enough skill to perform your own minor repairs.  Sad that most people don't learn elementary electronics anymore.
8  Community / Bar Sport / Re: 60 capacitors? on: September 18, 2014, 02:47:42 pm
I thought it was strictly black Sharpie?  Yeah, I hang out in audio circles and there's no end to the lunacy.  $1000 power cords, special multi-hundred-dollar wall outlets, dedicated circuits for 50W average listening levels, putting amps on UPSes and signal conditioners, you name it someone claims it helps.

I just about lost it though when I got into a debate about which lossless audio compression format sounded best.  I even encoded a series of tracks in FLAC, wave, and ALAC ... then decoded them all back to raw PCM ... then used a binary comparison tool to check for differences.  Not one difference in a dozen test files.  Perfect bit-for-bit copies.

"I'm telling you, something sounded off with the FLAC version...  Even my wife noticed it!"  smiley-fat
9  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Scotland Reveals Currency Plan on: September 18, 2014, 02:41:56 pm
I'm just happy the hot topic on world news is not about US or ISIS for once.
10  Community / Bar Sport / Re: How to start an argument on internet on: September 17, 2014, 01:59:35 pm
C++ has some useful features that don't necessarily consume resources willy-nilly.  E.g., function overloading.  Things like that make it potentially worthwhile to compile your C code with a C++ compiler.

Of course you can use C++'s features to exhaust the meager resources of a microcontroller, but you do this using C (or any language) as well.  Living within constraints is the job of any engineer -- software, hardware, whatever.
11  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Strings or woodwinds? on: September 17, 2014, 01:55:04 pm
Its primary purpose is to prevent the trouble programmers get into when neglecting the terminating null, overflowing buffers, things like that.  It also makes it more like other data types that can be processed with various operators, whereas strings (lower-case 's') require function calls.

Pointers and terminating nulls are responsible for a great deal of software bugs.  Avoid those, and you eliminate a lot of opportunity for error.  (Although, you also miss out on some of the cool stuff that C lets you do.)
12  Community / Bar Sport / Re: 60 capacitors? on: September 17, 2014, 01:50:09 pm
In theory, lower ESR and higher ripple current rating.

However, being that it's advertised for audio use, the primary purpose is to give audiophiles something to be excited about.  "Look!  Instead of one capacitor, I use 60!  You should hear the improvement in spaciousness, tighter low-end, and effortless highs!"
13  Community / Bar Sport / Re: IE11 on: September 16, 2014, 09:00:20 pm
Corporate is another matter entirely, for sure, but it's a double-edged sword.  MS made their bed, and now they're being forced to lie in it.  All the crap they pulled trying to "differentiate their product" is coming back to bite them, as anything beyond IE7 doesn't work quite like IE7 (thankfully), and there's a lot of software out there using ActiveX, and Quirks mode, and user agent and CSS conditionals.

So, you have (expensive, proprietary, and critical) legacy applications that don't even work in browser "compatibility" mode, so IT is forced to block IE upgrades.  Meanwhile, the web has moved on, so it's becoming commonplace to have old IE for That One Big App, and Chrome / FF for everything else.

All while MS is trying to reinvent themselves and shed the baggage of their legacy.  Well, that's what you get for trying to dominate the market with vendor lock-in, and being about three years late with a follow-up to IE6.  Next time, don't do that.

I have no sympathy.  I've built websites when IE6 could not be ignored.  I've set policies in IT when users had competing demands for compatibility with intranet applications and Web 2.0 applications.  IE made life difficult for everybody, for years, so it can fade painfully into obsolescence for all I care.  No amount of rebranding is going to change that.

As for securing third-party browsers, there's a lot they could do to enhance the Group Policy infrastructure and make third-party applications more manageable, but again, they were so busy trying to make IE (or whatever their offering) the de-facto choice, that they essentially missed that boat too.  Now, Active Directory and Exchange are about the only things keeping Windows relevant ... and Google has their cross-hairs squarely on Exchange.
14  Community / Bar Sport / Re: Strings or woodwinds? on: September 16, 2014, 08:47:14 pm
I feel like you should avoid ambiguity when possible, but also be willing to glean from context when you can.

People refer to "strings" as in, a "string of characters".  Or, Strings as an object of type String.  Not everyone gets the capitalization correct, but you can generally tell.  If I talk about "char name[]" as a string, you know what I mean.  Stopping a conversation to point out that it is in fact an array of char is just pointlessly anal, unless there is a real chance the offender doesn't understand the difference and might appreciate being made aware.

Same goes for other abbreviations.  You don't talk about file sizes in megabits, so a 10mb file is clearly 10 megabytes.  My cable modem connection is 20mb -- that is, megabits, because that's the convention for bandwidth.  If I wanted to be correct (and I usually do), I would write Mb or MB, but I won't derail a thread to point out an inconsistency when I know darn well what someone meant.  (And I definitely won't hassle someone over whether it should've been MiB or Mib instead.  The difference rarely matters in typical context.  When it does, clarify.)

Someone on another forum posted a reply to point out that a "tick every xx uS" is improper, as ticks are not expressed in micro-Siemens, nor micro-Samples, but micro-seconds.  Good for you.  Can we get on with the topic now? smiley-roll

In short, try to be clear.  Likewise, try to be tolerant.  If you genuinely can't tell -- ask.  (Unless you write technical documentation.  Then, it's your job -- you should try to get it right.)
15  Community / Bar Sport / Re: IE11 on: September 12, 2014, 03:13:30 pm
Just had my computer upgraded to IE11 with corporate autoloader - took just over an hour with at least 3 restarts.

First sign that MS still has a lot to learn about the modern market.  These days, you shouldn't need to restart except maybe once in a blue moon to really get out of a FUBAR.  Install should be a brief progress bar on next re-launch, after it downloaded the necessary fixes while you were reading your favorite news site.  Version numbers are pretty much irrelevant.  Platform is pretty much irrelevant.  Content is the only thing that matters, and getting to it with the least fuss possible.  If you aren't aware of your OS, it's doing its job properly.

The recent IE developer's IAMA was interesting, and the devs were both humble and positive.  But I feel bad for those guys.  Too little too late.  For most people, IE is merely a browser pre-installation environment.  The competition is too good, the results too similar (unless they're not, which is worse), that it comes down to things like aesthetics, and that constant %$@^$%# navigation clicking sound that seems to come back from the dead after I disable it. ><
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