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  • Network transfer speeds in reality
    a Linksys WRT54G router an Intel Pro 1000MT Gigabit network card in one computer and a Powerbook with Airport Extreme and built in Gigabit The wired tests were done using a crossover cable without a switch or hub Wireless tests were done on an empty channel with the router 3 feet away from the Powerbook To measure real world speed I did a real world task copying a single 664 MB file from the Powerbook to the desktop using standard Windows file sharing I chose that direction so the Powerbook s slower hard drive wouldn t be a bottleneck First the wireless results Encryption Transfer time Actual speed 256 bit WPA 13 mins 43 secs 6 4 Mbit s 64 bit WEP 6 mins 49 secs 13 0 Mbit s None 6 mins 41 secs 13 3 Mbit s While the router didn t mind the weaker WEP encryption the strong WPA slaughtered transfer times None of these are even close to the advertised 54 Mbit s speed and the computer is sitting right next to the router How about wired networks Advertised speed Transfer time Actual speed 100 Mbit s 1 min 21 secs 65 6 Mbit s Gigabit

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/127 (2016-04-30)
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  • Dish Network and the DVR-522
    any two channels simultaneously The installation was excellent two guys came over and stuck the dish next to my building ran wires inside routed them neatly along my walls hooked up the receiver and even programmed the universal remotes to work with my TV Nice touch So what s it like to actually use the service and the DVR 522 The service quality is acceptable but not perfect Like all satellite services the signal can occasionally drop This is incredibly annoying when it happens during the last 15 minutes of Lost or similarly intense moments And of course you can t record what you re missing if the signal drops so you re just out of luck Or you can download the episode online and get sued for 150 000 Recordings have acceptable quality for casual viewing but they occasionally have visible compression artifacts I imagine they re using a very low MPEG 2 bitrate Sometimes the audio will drop out for a second in a recording I have no idea why And the playback system is buggy Sometimes after watching something it won t let me delete it The file is currently in use Try again later No it s not in use I just pressed Stop and now I m pressing Delete This happens approximately one out of four times I try to delete a show after watching it Sometimes a recorded show will be named 0 and consist of 30 minutes of nothing Sometimes the DVR 522 will completely refuse to play a particular show no matter what I do kicking me back to the menu or freezing completely for a minute or two About a month after I got the DVR 522 it decided that its hard drive had fatal errors and that it had to

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/126 (2016-04-30)
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  • Finding your second apartment
    any noise with their windows open when I m trying to sleep When I look for my second apartment instead of simply counting windows I think I might try to use them The first floor I m on the first floor I thought this was a fantastic idea Moving large furniture into the apartment is much easier if you don t need to use a stairwell It s also convenient when carrying groceries My other windows Unfortunately being on the first floor means being extremely visible from the outside The rest of my windows face the building s garbage cans so my entire apartment is at eye level with everyone whenever they take out their trash A lot of people have been very startled to see me when they think they re quietly doing a chore alone then they notice that I m standing 10 feet away in my dining room Maybe the second floor is a worthwhile compromise Laundry My building has a coin operated washer and dryer I assumed that this would be sufficient since I had lived in dorms with coin operated laundry in college and I was fine with it The Speed Queen But there are a few critical differences The dorms had many washers and dryers and my building has one of each Not only does this increase the waiting time when they re in use and increase the time it takes to do my laundry but it also puts the entire building at the mercy of one machine of each type The dryer doesn t work very well but there s nothing we can do about it because it s the only dryer The college dorm machines were also only 50 cents each My building s washer is 1 75 the half working dryer

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/125 (2016-04-30)
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  • The Future: Speech Recognition
    there aren t enough atoms in the universe to store the information required to compute the perfect answer We rarely recategorize a problem from hard to easy and we ve known about most hard problems for at least 40 years For most hard problems we ve invented relatively easy ways to generate approximate answers They re not perfect but they re acceptable in many applications Speech recognition is a hard problem but we ve had speech to text software for over a decade It has never been perfect but the best software can achieve approximately 90 95 accuracy during dictation Easy right And if a 100 MHz Pentium could be 90 accurate in 1996 a 3 6 GHz Pentium 4 in 2005 should manage 100 right Unfortunately this isn t the case Speech recognition software can do one thing well distinguish between a limited set of commands Many annoying phone center menus now request that you speak commands or numbers But it s a lot easier to tell the difference between support and sales than to distinguish between every word in a language when they re strung together into long sentences without pauses between words That s how we speak We haven t made any significant progress in the last 10 years for a few key reasons We re not stressing existing hardware at all Hardware is not the limiting factor We haven t made any progress in algorithm development We re still using the same recognition methods and getting the same results There s very little demand in the market to improve the existing products If all three of these remain true I don t see any way that we d see noticeable change 20 years from now It s easy to project that the first two probably won

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/124 (2016-04-30)
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  • Cooking For Guys (Part III: Kitchen Safety)
    right So there s really no safe way to heat up water A There are ways to heat up water that don t involve putting metal in a microwave Q There are A Yes Can you think of any Q Perhaps we could dump the water out of the pot and heat up the puddle A Then how would you get the water out of the microwave Q A syringe I don t know My brain hurts Maybe we could microwave a plastic pot A Can you think of any way to heat up water that doesn t involve a microwave Q A campfire We could boil the water on a campfire A Very good But instead of a campfire we ll use a stove Many stoves are electric stoves Today however we ll use a gas stove Q Can I call it a Bunsen burner instead A Let s compromise and call it a heating element Q What should I do first A Turn the stove on Q I ll turn the Bunsen burner on Which of these dials should I turn Are they timers They look sort of like timers A They regulate the amount of gas released by the stove The higher you turn the dial the more gas is released Q So if I release a lot of gas I m probably a five or six A Something like that First turn the dial to ignite Q I get it We did something like this in our fraternity This one time one of the brothers had eaten like eight burritos for dinner and that night A I don t think I want to hear the story Q No it s really a great one The guy s name was McCue but we called him McBeans because

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/123 (2016-04-30)
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  • Cooking for Guys (Part II: Putting Things in a Pot)
    ingredients do we need to make water I know all about using my masculine foraging abilities to acquire ingredients from the previous lesson A You get water from the faucet Q Oh I thought we were cooking some kind of gourmet water du jour A Idiot Q Look just because I look beefy and masculine on the outside doesn t mean I m not squishy and tender on the inside It doesn t mean I don t have feelings and stuff A Huh Q All I m saying is you shouldn t call me an idiot I m really trying to learn here A Okay Sorry Why don t you put some water in the pot Q How much water A Put in two cups Q Okay One of them floats A What Q One of the cups is floating It s made of plastic The other one is a teacup It sank A We should probably start over A cup is a unit of measurement When you put a cup of water into the pot you don t actually put a cup in the pot Q Huh A Think of it like a handful Except it s a cupful Q That makes sense It s very difficult to hold water in your hand What size of cup should I use Cup size Get it I said cup size A Yes I get it Use a measuring cup It s a standard unit Q Measuring cup That doesn t sound very masculine I ll use this Big Gulp cup Two of them A Why don t you use half of a Nalgene instead Q That s not a cup A A 1 quart Nalgene holds 2 pints or 4 cups or 32 fluid ounces or 64 tablespoons or 192 teaspoons

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/122 (2016-04-30)
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  • Exclusive Longhorn screenshot
    By Marco on April 8 2005 While I cannot reveal my sources I have been granted the exclusive rights to reveal this screenshot from the upcoming version of Microsoft Windows codenamed Longhorn scheduled for release in 2017 Click for full

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/121 (2016-04-30)
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  • Cold Heat soldering iron
    blob barely sitting on some wires forming a large joint that falls apart easily The correct technique which results in stronger smaller more precise joints is to use the iron to heat the items being bonded then add a bit of solder so that it melts on contact Simply put Heat the work not the solder This is a huge pain because you have to sit there and hold the iron on a sensitive component for a little while so it can heat up to the solder melting temperature This makes computer nerds nervous since we don t want to burn anything expensive Plus you have to wait a while for the iron to heat up before you start using it and it s always a bit unsettling to have a hot iron sitting around for a while after you re done waiting to be knocked over The Cold Heat soldering iron advertises that it heats up instantly bonds a joint then cools down instantly Sounds impressive It even has a built in white LED to illuminate the work as you re soldering The commercial is so convincing that I almost ordered one immediately but instead I just got mine at Radio Shack Apparently it works by shorting out its own batteries in small increments Short circuits generate a lot of immediate heat The soldering tip is made from a material that loses heat quickly so when you release the button all of the heat dissipates in a few seconds The commercial makes the cold hot cold transitions look instantaneous Soldering is finally easy assuming that the Cold Heat works as advertised Of course it doesn t In reality it doesn t heat the work enough to melt the solder onto it it s incredibly difficult even to melt the

    Original URL path: http://articles.marco.org/120 (2016-04-30)
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