Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?

Comment: Re:danger vs taste (Score 1) 504

by Dogtanian (#49563277) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame

Sales of diet Pepsi are falling because half of them are buying Pepsi Max instead. Not sure how it differs from the diet option. They both taste equally bad to me.

Depends which one you mean- apparently there's a "Pepsi Max" (nee "Diet Pepsi Max") on the US market which has more caffeine than regular Diet Pepsi. The "Pepsi Max" sold in the UK since the early 90s is really just... Diet Pepsi marketed towards men instead of women.

About 15 years ago, I tasted some (UK market) Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max side by side just out of curiosity- the difference was minor at best.

The reason for having the two was- I assumed- more to do with marketing. Diet Pepsi and diet drinks in general were marketed and perceived as "girl" drinks, which probably put off male consumers. Pepsi Max launched with (very) 90s male-oriented advertising. (*)

What surprises me is that Coca Cola took around 15 years to do the same marketing trick with Coke Zero. That- at least- has the excuse of being a clearly different product from Diet Coke. (It sucks because it follow's Diet Pepsi and Pepsi Max's nasty over-intense "sweetness" rather than Diet Coke's less intense but more unpleasantly "hollow" sensation (**)).

On the other hand, it means that some men (e.g. my boss) might still have a legitimate reason to buy Diet Coke instead of Coke Zero, which he doesn't like.

Personally, I think almost all diet soft drinks are horrible, except Sugar Free Irn Bru because it's one of the very few- if not the only one- that avoids both the above pitfalls if it's properly chilled. Plus, it's not over-sweet, it's got caffeine in it, and IT'S SCOTTISH! (^_^)

(*) What's weirder; the fact that with the wonder of the modern Internet YouTube (cough) I can find obscure twenty-year-old adverts in under a minute, or the fact that that advert still seems familiar to me after all that time. (I remembered the annoying "ooh" at the end even before watching it).

(**) You might recognise this as "my mouth thinks this is sweet, but some part of my reptilian brain knows damn well this is carbohydrate-free chemical-flavoured water and is refusing to give me any sense of satisfaction in drinking it").

Comment: Re:Will probably be used for VR applications. (Score 1) 152

by Dogtanian (#49473727) Attached to: Sharp Announces 4K Smartphone Display

But the same thing could happen to VR one day. We've got a limited view of what VR is and what it can do right now. What happens within a decade or two might be so different that you'll be writing a similar comment about VR.

You're missing the point I was making. It's not that people 20 years ago would have had a limited idea of what the "phone" could do.

It's that a lot of what we now associate with the smart-"phone" was never really a consequence of the phone- or the phone functionality- itself. Rather, it's a result of the fact that they were driven by *computers* that allowed the introduction of useful but secondary functionality (like calculators, snake, et al) of ever-increasing sophistication. It's the evolution of that to the point that it is more important than the "phone" itself- yet the device retains its vestigial name.

Of course, expensive proto-smartphones had been around since the late 90s (e.g. Nokia 9000 Communicator), but even those were never designed solely as "phones".

Smartphones are as much the successors of portable computers and PDAs as they are of phones, and would be seen as such by someone from the 80s. If you'd asked someone then where (e.g.) the early Psion Organisers might lead us in 30 years time, you would probably have got more insight than asking them questions about "phones".

The only thing such people could be "blamed" for would be not foreseeing that we'd get there via the mobile phone rather than via the PDA/pocket-computer route.

Comment: Re:Will probably be used for VR applications. (Score 1) 152

by Dogtanian (#49472755) Attached to: Sharp Announces 4K Smartphone Display

Two decades ago, nobody thought the "portable phones" market would ever overtake the laptops market.

That's misleading. Two decades ago a phone was just a phone, and people back then would assume that's what was meant.

Today's smartphones are effectively portable computers and communications devices that happen to include a phone as part of their functionality- the "smartphone" name is more a legacy of the direction they evolved from (i.e. the phone market) than a reflection of what they are now. If the concept had been invented out of the blue in a world of traditional "dumb" phones (mobile or otherwise), they almost certainly wouldn't be referred to as such.

Arguably they're more akin to a continuation of the concept of a PDA. The fact that they aren't- again- has more to do with where they evolved from and the fact that the market for PDAs (as they were then) had declined quite seriously in the years immediately preceding the iPhone.

Comment: Re:What they are probably meaning: (Score 2) 169

by Dogtanian (#49364147) Attached to: Graphene Light Bulbs Coming To Stores Soon

The writer of the original article should be shot, hung, shot, and then boiled.

Ah, Slashdot. "I don't like what this guy said! Kill him!" (Applause and upmods)

Good grief. Any normal person would recognise it's more likely that the OP was indulging in deliberate hyperbole to indicate his displeasure with the writer, rather than a psychopath who genuinely meant it literally. Especially given the repetition of "shot"(!)

Either you have some form of autistic spectrum disorder (in which case, no offence, but that did need explained to you), you're stupid or you're just a would-be-smartass trying to score argumentative points by feigning misunderstanding and offence anyway.

Comment: Re: the AARP-files (Score 1) 166

by Dogtanian (#49332191) Attached to: The X-Files To Return

He is well before that TOS / Harrison Ford old man event horizon.

Is the "old man event horizon" caused by stars putting on a *lot* of weight as they age?

In which case, I think Harrison Ford will escape that fate and simply turn into a white dwarf.

Marlon Brando on the other hand- yes, he became supermassive in later years, and quite likely turned into a black hole. In fact, lots of people in the film industry were inadvertantly killed when they got too close. No-one noticed this because to outsiders they still appear to be hovering around the "Brando event horizon".

Comment: Re:Calculated risk (Score 1) 269

by Dogtanian (#49275409) Attached to: Fraud Rampant In Apple Pay

And then on top of that, when fraud is caught [the banks] just take the money back out of the merchant's account. In no way do they ever "pay it from their profits".

This. A hundred times this.

I don't know if it's changed recently, but from reading Internet discussions on credit card fraud etc., it was always clear that people thought that- despite a notoriously sloppy and too-lazy-to-fix-the-obvious-flaws attitude towards security, the party paying for the banks' apparent fecklessness was the banks themselves.

Except, it isn't- it's the merchants. If there's a fraud, the money gets yanked back from the merchant, and that's the last he'll see of it. (No, you *won't* get the money back- even if they catch the people involved, proving and prosecuting fraud is more hassle than it's worth for the police. And most of the time the police won't do anything even if they're presented with evidence of a blatant fraud setup presented to them on a plate (e.g. full address of a rented flat in London being used as the delivery address for goods bought (or attempted to be bought) with a known-stolen credit card).

So now you know why it's "too much work" for the banks to do something about your stolen and misused credit card in advance, until you've reported and cancelled it yourself. It's because there's nothing in it for them. I can guarantee that if *they* were paying, it would very quickly become doable.

This is why the banks don't give a t***; they don't have to, they're not the ones paying.

(Note; this describes the situation in the UK- we've had chip and pin for years, but it still doesn't stamp out misuse of credit cards, especially over the Internet).

Comment: Re:Became ARM (Score 1) 106

by Dogtanian (#49252211) Attached to: BBC Returns To Making Computers For Schools
Yeah, I heard they tried marketing it in the US, but it wasn't a major success. The BBC's main success here was in schools, and AFAIK the Apple II was one of the biggest sellers for that purpose over there; possibly it was already established by the time the BBC came out.

It should also be noted that the reverse is also true to some extent- while the Apple II was far from unknown over here (my Dad had one of the later ones at work), it was never (AFAICT) as prominent as it was in the US. Possibly because they waited a couple of years to launch it here and the PAL versions didn't have colour (Wozniak's method for generating colour was tied to NTSC timing). Also, computer markets were far more localised in the late-70s/early-80s.

Comment: Re:Became ARM (Score 1) 106

by Dogtanian (#49244275) Attached to: BBC Returns To Making Computers For Schools

the Model A was £235, the B £335 in 1981

The price rapidly went up to £400 for the Model B (as the Wikipedia page states, lower down) due to supply issues.

It's far more likely that the price was hiked because more people were buying it than expected.

What the Wikipedia article *actually* says is that the price increase was due to "due to increased costs", same as the contemporary referenced article claims. Since UK inflation was still high by modern standards- around 11 to 12%- circa 1981/82 (albeit steeply down from the eye-watering 18% it hit in 1980), it's quite possible that the increase was at least partly legitimate.

That aside, it's also worth remembering that most people's experience and memory of the BBC Micro will have been of the more common- but also more expensive (£335/£400)- Model B which became the de facto base model. (The Model A only included 16K RAM- not even enough to use the most demanding graphics modes- and omitted many of the interfaces, and despite its cheaper price never sold as well (*))

And *that* is just the base machine- it doesn't include the disk drives and RGB monitors that many of us remember using the computer with; (**) even at my most conservative (and generous) guesstimate, both those would probably have come close to doubling the cost of a BBC B system and made it around £2000 to £2500 in today's money.

Yes, even a "bare" Model A with a tape deck and plugged into a TV was still better than the ZX81, but it was three or four times the cost. I'll always have a soft spot for the BBC Micro, but it was never cheap, and the ZX81 can be forgiven because it *was* much cheaper and affordable to people who didn't have a chance in hell of buying a BBC.

(*) Just guessing here, but since schools were a significant chunk of the BBC's sales- even the Model A was an expensive machine for home users- they may not have considered the Model A worth the saving given the loss of functionality. Especially if they were going to be adding the aforementioned expensive monitor and drives anyway.

(**) Again, often in schools.

Comment: Re:Write-only code. (Score 2) 757

by Dogtanian (#49229649) Attached to: Was Linus Torvalds Right About C++ Being So Wrong?

The more powerful the language, the more it's like a loaded gun: You can use it responsibly and do amazing things with it, or you can put a bullet through your foot with it. Choice is yours... and the closer you get to bare metal with the language, the greater the chance of lead meeting foot at high speed.

Oddly, that brings to mind the famous quote from Bjarne Stroustrup himself...

"C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot; C++ makes it harder, but when you do it blows your whole leg off"

I've only briefly looked at C++, but when I did, I understood what he meant. C++ lets you do some very complex, powerful and abstract things compared to C, but even in the small amounts I learned (and have since forgotten) you could see the potential for an overly confident smartass to misuse or fail to understand the subtleties of these features and have things go wrong in a manner that was far more convoluted, non-obvious and hard to debug in a sadistically high-level manner than simply overflowing some poxy buffer.

AFAIK (and IIRC!) Java- which came after C++- is in many respects *less* powerful and more constrained in terms of what you can do (or at least makes you do it more explicitly) and some criticised this as dumbing down for industry that wanted "quantity over quality" programmers. Maybe so, but would you want to deal with some horribly subtle bug that was ten levels of abstraction away, all because some naive just-out-of-college programmer did something a bit too clever for his own good when overloading an operator?

Now that I think about it, I remember reading criticism of C#'s increased flexibility in operator overloading (compared to the language it was mostly a clone of, Java) as being A Bad Thing for the same reason.

Comment: Re:"Haters" (Score 2) 196

by Dogtanian (#49158125) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

To be fair, the argument against calling Pluto a planet was really political more than scientific--it's hard to argue that there's some nonarbitrary scientific justification for removing Pluto's planet status.

I'm sure those on the other side of the debate would argue that it's just as political and arbitrary to claim that it *is* a planet, beyond pure inertia (i.e. because it had always been called a "planet" until then).

Two wrongs don't make a right


Anyway, they were Pluto-haters, or haters of the idea of smaller planets messing up their tidy worldview.

Now I think you're trying too hard to rationalise the "haters" label. As I said, you don't have to agree with their opinion, nor the way they went about getting the result they wanted.

But that doesn't change the fact that dismissing their opinions and actions purely as "haters" was quite silly.

If the argument had started to become too personal, then this sort of concerted attempt to justify that way of thinking simply makes it worse. As you said, two wrongs don't make a right.

Comment: "Haters" (Score 5, Insightful) 196

by Dogtanian (#49155849) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

The efforts of a very small clique of Pluto-haters within the International Astronomical Union (IAU) plutoed Pluto in 2006

Yeah, that's right. They were "Pluto-haters". Not just people who happened to hold a different opinion he doesn't agree with.

That's not to say that you have to agree with their position, nor the way they went about having Pluto stripped of its status. But to ascribe their actions to the fact they personally "hated" Pluto- rather than simply believing that it couldn't justify its status as a planet- is somewhat childish.

I don't know if he meant "haters" in present-day sense (i.e. with its "haters gonna hate" connotations et al), but I've always had contempt for that usage. It's a cheap and easy way to counter anyone you don't agree with, to depersonalise and dismiss them in as people who hate purely because they're "haters". To make it a personal beef and a partisan issue rather than one of simple disagreement on a particular matter- one which would require legitimately addressing what they're actually saying instead of trying to puff yourself up in the cod-macho bullshit "them versus us/me" manner of an adolescent who's either immature enough to see things in that light, or has nothing to say beyond the convenient "haters gonna hate".

Seriously, step away from the gangsta rap and stop acting like a f*****g fourteen-year-old.

Comment: Re: Just (Score 1) 163

by Dogtanian (#49151451) Attached to: Can the Guitar Games Market Be Resurrected?

Why not eat magic pills while running through a maze chased by ghosts?

It's called a rave.

A rave is running through a maze being chased by ghosts?!

Seriously, I'm assuming you were trying to rip off the now-famous Marcus Brigstocke joke, except you got lazy and didn't even bother to make sure that the (now mangled) version in your head made sense as a joke any more.

Or perhaps the joke is so overused and ingrained that retellings don't have to be correct or even make sense at this point... it's just an instinctive response that only requires the vague invocation of the two elements of pac man and raves that have somehow become funny because I heard a joke about that once but can't even be bothered repeating it correcty, etc. etc. etc.

"Joy is wealth and love is the legal tender of the soul." -- Robert G. Ingersoll