May 27, 2003

Interuptus Maximus

Thanks to my brother who pointed out my lack of a link to the story about tax cuts. I think that entry took me nearly an hour to write due to all the interuptions. I'm surprised that was the only thing I missed. Anyways, the entry is fixed plus the link is above. Have fun reading.

Posted by queue at 09:11 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Information

I'll Break Your Tax

My brother recently used an analogy about a music service that said the rich pay less taxes than the poor. He did qualify by saying he didn't understand how taxes work. This is a very common misperception.

On the surface, taxes are fairly simple. Based on the amount of money you make, you can look up the percentage of your pay you must pay in taxes. What makes the system complex are all the deductions and tax breaks a person can get. When you read the tax laws, you realize that 99.99% percent of the laws deal with the exceptions, the deductions, and the tax breaks. Rest assured that even though rich people tend to be able to get more deductions and breaks than a lower income person, they are still paying significantly more, dollar-wise, than those lower income people.

This story provides a little insight into the why people feel cheated when the rich get a larger tax break than the poor. I have no idea who the original author is, but this site has published a condensed version of it that gets the point across nicely.

Posted by queue at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | Category: Political

May 13, 2003

Eh? I Can't Hear You!

My brother brought up some interesting thoughts about the new ACC format for music. You can read my comment at his site if you like. But right now, I have a different point to make about music file formats.

I work with a variety of engineers, computer scientists, and techs. Our particular branch deals specifically with acoustic measurements and thus, we have several acoustic engineers on our staff. These are people who have dedicated their life to everything dealing with sound. I know guys that can tell you the exact frequency of a tone just by listening to it.

Based on my discussions with these people, I've come to the conclusion that in general, the average person cannot tell the difference between 128 kbps MP3s and a CD. A person with a good ear can't tell the difference between 192 kbps MP3s and a CD. Granted, most of what a person can tell has more to do with the system it is being played on, but we'll assume a "perfect" system for this argument.

I've watched people who claim to be able to tell a difference fail at detecting the difference when put to a test. The human ear has limitations and a variety of equipment from the recording equipment used, to the instruments, to the device playing it back, can affect the way music sounds. Even if you had a sample rate in the megabits, your ear just wouldn't benefit.

If you don't believe me, that's fine. You go out and buy your $10,000 stereo and your terabyte hard drive system for storing music. I'll save my money for a nicer computer and a good pair of Bose headphones.

Posted by queue at 05:30 AM | Comments (1) | Category: Punditry

May 06, 2003

DDE Hell

If you've ever tried to use DDE to communicate with an application, you might recall how tedious it can be to setup. It doesn't help that Microsoft keeps changing the way it works. It also doesn't help that the company that makes the software I'm trying to communicate with keeps changing their interface as well. This basically leaves me with some OS/Software combinations that work and some that don't.

The sad part is that many times, I have no choice because Microsoft won't solve the issues that Excel has with graphing large amounts of data. If you're not aware, Excel has a limitation of 255 columns of data. When you're dealing with over 3000 points with thousands of curves, this presents a problem.

The good news for me is that I've got tens of thousands of dollars to fix and update our software over the next year or so. I may have to stick with DDE, but at least I can update my interfaces to it.

Posted by queue at 07:45 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Rant

May 05, 2003

Funky Combos

I finally found something I don't really care for on my Samsung DVD/VCR Combo device. The rewind and fast forward for the DVD have to be held down to work. If you press one of the buttons and release immediately, it jumps tracks. This is really dumb since there is a separate button for jumping tracks. Oh well, if that's the only problem I find, I'd say I'm pretty lucky.

Posted by queue at 07:51 PM | Comments (0) | Category: Technology

Return From The Void

I am finally done with my trip to D.C. What a trip that was. I wish I'd had more time to visit some more of the museums, but I guess that will wait until the next time I go out there. I had a great time at the Air And Space Museum. I even took the time to see the Space 3D IMAX movie which I have to say was REALLY good.

I have to admit that I didn't believe my brother when he said, "Look for the Star Trek Enterprise Model in the basement of the museum." I believed that as much as I believe there's a basement in the Alamo. So when I got there, just to make sure, I checked the booklet. Of course, nothing. Then, at the end of the day, I was doing some shopping in the store when I came across a somewhat obscure sign pointing down some stairs. On the sign was listed, "More Souvenirs", "Star Trek", and a few other things I can't remember. I went down and sure enough, there it was! I got a picture of it; I'll put it online when I get around to putting all the others online. And, as it turns out, the downstairs store had all the good t-shirts. So I'm glad I found it. Thanks Lee!

Posted by queue at 07:47 PM | Comments (1) | Category: Information