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Comment Re:funny and sad (Score 2) 331

It would be hard to argue that Apple's decision to leave out the floppy drive didn't cause the situation we had 5 years later.

It wouldn't be hard to argue that at all! (#)

As I said, CD writers were already getting cheaper by the late 90s, and Apple can hardly claim credit for hastening their adoption since they didn't even include one.

Yes, the 1.44MB floppy format's capacity was already outdated and starting to look badly out of sync with the sort of file sizes and uses common by the late 90s (cf. the rapidly-growing capacity of hard drives, and the amount of data already-widespread CD-ROMs could hold). The pressure for a replacement was already there in the PC market, the only problem was that no realistic alternative at a practical price had received universal adoption by then. Apple's abolition of the floppy didn't provide a solution at all, it only forced their users to buy external floppy drives.

At best, as the other guy suggested, Apple provide a marginal level of forward pressure to something that would have happened anyway.

If anything, what Apple *do* deserve some credit for is encouraging the adoption of USB, whose time had- or should have- arrived by then. And even that was available in PCs at the time- the one I bought 3 or 4 months before the iMac came out included USB, the problem was that it wasn't that well-supported, and there seemed to be no hurry to do so. So maybe they helped that- and it could be argued, indirectly helped the adoption of USB pen drives several years later- but even that was by forcing the issue (i.e. abolishing legacy ports), and I suspect that USB would have taken off eventually anyway. At least in that case they included a realistic alternative, unlike with the abolition of the floppy.

(#) I think your nickname gives away your slightly partisan nature :-)

Comment Re:funny and sad (Score 1) 331

Apple has always been doing stuff like this. I remember when they removed 3.5" floppy drive [..] Cue a lot of companies having to buy external floppy drives at ridiculous prices.

Don't know if you were thinking of the original late-90s iMac, which Apple made a big hurrah about not including a floppy drive. Except that- for all its archaicness- there was still no universal affordable alternative to the floppy (#), which is why almost every bondi blue iMac you saw had a external floppy (in matching colours) hanging off it anyway!! (Ironically far less tidy and aesthetically pleasing than having it built in like the CD reader would have been).

Had they done that five years later, yeah, it'd have been more sensible. Circa 1998, it was just a contrived anti-feature that gave Apple a "we're so futuristic" selling point anyway, one that fanboys still trumpet today.

(#) CD writers were starting to come down in price quite fast by the late-90s, but they still weren't cheap enough at that point to be included as a default option, which would explain why Apple didn't even include one! The Internet (which IIRC was one of their suggestions for transferring files) was still 56kbps dial-up even for most people that *did* have it, and far from everyone did back then (remember that the other person you wanted to exchange files with would *also* need Internet access). Pen drives weren't even around then- Wikipedia claims that the first ones came out in 2000- and would take quite a bit longer to reach dirt-cheap floppy-replacing affordability.

Comment Re:The usual suspects (Score 1) 103

Crap brands who bought the name of a previously respected company, e.g. Polaroid

Interestingly, the "Polaroid" camera listed there (the Polaroid 300 / Polaroid PIC-300) is actually just a *Fujifilm* Instax Mini 7 camera. That's right- the only camera Polaroid now sell that uses anything like the traditional Polaroid film technology is actually one made by Fujifilm (who licensed the patents from Polaroid)!

The current owners of the Polaroid brand *do* appear to be treating the instant photography line with a little more respect than the previous owners (who cancelled the original Polaroid film cameras- the only non-licensed thing they did, as even "their" digital cameras had simply been licensed-out rebrands). But outside that, they're still continuing the habit of whoring out the Polaroid name to random third parties for rebranding cheap tat no-name electronics, such as LCD televisions. In fact, in the UK, they're actually letting the supermarket chain Asda use it (in effect) as an own-brand for audiovisual products.

So, yeah, the Polaroid name *is* being used for random tat, but in this case, the "Polaroid 300" is actually just a rebranded Fujifilm model that gets decent reviews. Though I'd probably just go for the Fujifilm one myself anyway.

Comment Re:Pick one... (Score 3, Interesting) 20

So is it Britain or England? I'ts not 'rocket science' guys.

As the other guy said, Britain or England are both correct, since England is a part of Britain and despite their position quite some distance from the mainland, the Scilly Isles are still considered part of England.

As a nationalistic Scot, I dislike when "England" and "Britain" are used interchangeably, and the headline/summary discrepancy does smack of that being the reason- however, since it was still technically correct I wasn't going to make a deal of it until you made that comment.

(You can stop reading here if you don't want a confusingly-detailed breakdown of the various terms. Just at least do me a favour as long as I have to remain technically British and don't assume "English" and "British" are synonyms! )

FWIW, if one wants to start nitpicking, the term "Britain" on its own isn't really well-enough defined in modern usage to argue over- beyond the fact it definitely *isn't* synonymous with "England". Generally "Britain" tends to be used even by people here as synonymous with the political state of the United Kingdom (i.e. the "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland"). "Great Britain" is the geographic term for the main island including Scotland, England and Wales, but not Northern Ireland, hence the full name of the UK. Meanwhile, the "British Isles"- a geographic term- includes the island of Ireland (part of which is of course an entirely independent country), along with some others such as the Isle of Man and the aforementioned Scilly Isles. (Some people in the Irish Republic dislike the term "British Isles", which is understandable given the use of "British" above).

What's really going to bake your noodle is that whereas the Scilly Isles are considered part of England, the Isle of Man, despite being a British crown dependency roughly the same distance from the mainland, isn't even technically a part of the United Kingdom itself... :-/

Actually, now that I've looked into it, the Channel Islands (i.e. Guernsey and Jersey) are also considered a part of the "British Isles"- a nominally geographic term- despite the fact they're far closer to- and more obviously associated with- France. One might suspect they were only counted as part of the "British Isles" for political reasons, since they're British crown dependencies, albeit not a part of the UK itself (like the Isle of Man).

Comment Re:Blinders Much (Score 1) 103

TWX: "Betamax" probably encompasses more than simply the end-consumer tape. "SuperBeta" is a common commercial standard...

Farmer Tim: The format used in broadcast was called Betacam (replaced by Betacam SP, Digibeta, Betacam SX and HDCAM in the same physical format, all incompatible with Betamax)

Indeed... came here to say this, want to say it again in bold text as people keep getting it wrong anyway.


Ahem... thank you. :-)

Anyway, minor credit to the GP for at least not *quite* repeating this fallacy in its usual form, but yeah, he's still wrong in confusing Betacam with SuperBeta, a marginally-improved and mostly-compatible version of the consumer format.

TWX:much in the same way that "SuperVHS" was a common commercial standard


Jeez, I'm taking that "minor credit" back! ;-) SuperVHS was a consumer format... where did you get this (mis-)information?!

Apparently they tried creating a professional format called "M" which used the VHS cassette design but- like Betacam- had a much higher tape speed and entirely-incompatible recording format compared to its consumer sibling. Apparently it flopped and a later version called "MII" enjoyed moderate success at best.

Comment "Digital" (Score 3, Insightful) 80

the BBC's high-quality disc extras do not seem to have made the jump from disc to digital

"Disc to digital"? Are you comparing it to the releases on analogue formats such as Laserdisc and CED?

Or is this just another example of the stupid and lazy misappropriation of "digital" to mean synonymous with "online" or "download" and contrast with non-online formats such as "Digital Versatile Disc" or "Compact Disc Digital-F******-Audio"? (Yes, the fact that CD was digital was one of its major selling points).

That's kind of understandable (not forgivable, but understandable) on crappy mainstream sites written by and for people who neither know nor care as much about technology as they'd like to think. (#) OTOH, I don't think it even counts as nitpicking to expect better from a site like Slashdot which is supposed to cater- at least it used to- for actual geeks and not just boys toys' gadget fetishists who think they're geeks because it's cool now and they buy a new smartphone every 18 months.

(#) I'd be willing to bet that despite the man-on-the-street's apparent increased familiarity and comfort with digital and electronic devices compared with 30 to 40 years ago, most people still don't understand as much about the underlying technology as this would suggest, and probably still wouldn't be able to explain what "digital" means.

Comment Star Trek: Ghosts and Muderous Ship Designers (Score 1) 438

That's stupid. Lots of people are coming up with their own pitches, but in their heart everyone knows that the next Star Trek series should be more about ghosts:-

Should Star Trek be more about Ghosts? by Dervish ("Banned User" (!))

Maybe to revitalise the series it needs a more dark, ethereal spooky slant.

I have come up with three pitches for a sort of Trek meets X-files type show where Starfleet investigators delve into the supernatural.

Here are my first three ideas:

Some poossible stories to feature ghosts:

1) Starfleet Command is haunted by the wraith of a ship designer who is about to die but has projected his soul into the ship to make starships alive - Starfleet loves the new ships and the designer has to kill murderers and psycopaths to put their souls into battleships so he goes around murdering new people.

2) The Wormhole Aliens reveal to the Bajorans that all the Bajorans ever to have lived have their spirits in the Celestial Temple (wormhole) but are to be wiped out because the Prophets are cross with Bajor joining the Federation. Colonel Kira has to get Starfleets best scientists (Data, Bashir and Barclay) to send her spirit into the Temple to find Sisko and see what is going on.

3) Little Rene's gost can't find peace bercause of the horrible burning death he suffered in France. Picard, tormented by the ghosts pleas for help from his uncle, journeys back to France and discovers Rene and his famnily were murdered by Section 31 agents as part of a strange plot. Picard discovers the truth behind the reality of ghosts which has been hidden for millenia...

I think Star Trek should feature ghosts more heavily and these 3 ideas would be very exciting.

Disclaimer: No, I am not "Dervish". Fortunately. :-) I genuinely don't know if he/she is for real, but that's a strange thread. Shame that his "interesting" artist's impression of the ghost character (bad MS Paint on top of drawing of generic Star Trek ship deck, amusingly naff) is no longer on ImageShack.

I like this reply:-

Bizarre thread. It's a bit like asking whether Buffy the Vampire Slayer should be more about talking haddock - it could be, but it'd be a very different show.

Comment N1500 / VCR came out same year, wasn't skip field (Score 1) 92

To be fair, most "portable" video recording systems in the early 70's were skip frame.

I remember reading about the Cartrivision, and being willing to cut the limitations described some slack on the basis that it came out in 1972, which is *very* early on in terms of domestic videocassette recorders.

That was, until I'd remembered that the Philips N1500 also came out in 1972 and didn't have a lot of those limitations. It was the first model to support their flop "Video Cassette Recording (VCR)" format. In particular, it doesn't appear to have been skip frame. In fact, from what I've read, the N1500 appears to have been far closer in design and execution to later video formats like VHS and Betamax.

That's not to say it was perfect- apparently there were problems with the design of the reel-on-reel tape mechanism and feed, and later formats increased tape efficiency by removing the need for a guard band, amongst other improvements. Still, it looks to have been more advanced than Cartrivision.

Not only does the current article itself mention the N1500, but reading it more closely it actually makes basically the same points I made above about its technical superiority and closer resemblance to later machines!

In Cartrivision's defence, the OP's comment that it had "no rewind" is incorrect; the "no rewind" only applied to rental tapes used in domestic recorders; i.e. it was an anti-feature designed to ensure once-only viewing, but didn't apply to regular tapes.

Comment Re:Betteridge's law of headlines (Score 1) 264

According to Betteridge's law of headlines: No.

Yawn... years later, there are still oh-so-clever people kneejerk yelling "Betteridge" in response to every headline phrased as a question, not understanding what the original point of Betteridge's law actually was.

Hint; this isn't it, it's a (probably) legitimate question, and even if it was a crap attempt to kick-start a discussion by phrasing it in that form, it's still not an example of Betteridge.

Comment Awiiaboo? No thanks... (Score 1) 70

On the flip side, there are less serious gamers like myself (*) who might consider the buying the 3DS, but would be put off by the fact that to access certain hidden features- or, more seriously, advantages- in games *that you'd already paid for*, you then had to shell out more for these figures which you have no interest in, nor space in your house for.

If some people like that- good for them. But personally, if I'm expected to buy into this sort of thing to get full use out of a 3DS, I'm not even going to bother.

Probably Nintendo have done their sums and research and estimated that they'll make more from tying their consoles to the Amiibo than they'll lose. Maybe they got those sums right, and maybe they didn't- but even if they did, it's possibly not the 100% win that you think it is.

(*) Or rather, people who are *only* interested in the games- casually or otherwise. There are probably many "serious" gamers who have no interest in collecting "Sailor Moon" Happy Meal toys with embedded RFIDs either.

Comment Re:Who owns it? (Score 1) 46

I have a page where I put up a bunch of info about my experiments and memories of my Commodore systems. In the years that page has existed, the ownership of the C= logo/name/etc changed hands FIVE TIMES!

It's not just that, it's that- as far as I can tell- the rights to Commodore's various products and brands have not only been split up, but also sublicensed over the years to the point of being a confusing mess.

The company (*) that made the "Commodore 64x" around four years ago- you remember, the PC in a case that at least *looked* like a C64- also released the "Amiga 1000", "2000" and "3000". These had sod all to do with the original Amigas of those names. In fact they weren't even computers in their own right, but just home theatre PC cases, spuriously claiming to be "revivals" of the originals.

What makes this more stupid is that, at the same time, other companies were still making- under license- "real" Amigas. When I say "real", I mean they support the current version of the AmigaOS- also produced under license!- even though they aren't remotely low-level compatible with the original Amigas. (In fact, the only reason for having AmigaOS run on that overpriced, underpowered custom hardware, rather than commodity PCs seems to be as a means to subsidise AmigaOS via the very small- but incredibly diehard- remaining userbase).

Of course, these are two different things- the HTPC "Amiga" was an utterly second-rate, shameless attempt to exploit the nostalgia market with something that didn't even look like an Amiga, whereas the AmigaOne et al is aimed at the rabid diehards who are still using AmigaOS almost 20 years after it died as a mainstream proposition. But the point is that they were happy to whore out the Amiga name for two entirely different "Amigas" at the same time.

And then there's the fact that AmigaOS itself was the subject of a legal dispute. Or the fact that the current Amiga Inc. (the apparent owner/licensee of the Amiga rights) notably *isn't* the same company as the "Commodore" that owns the rights to *that* brand.

This isn't remotely complete, and doesn't even touch on the passing around and splitting of the rights in the wake of Commodore's demise. (Nostalgia-related exploitation of the brand goes back as far 1998- just four years after Commodore's demise- when the "Commodore 64" name was used on a crappy low-powered web PC). The point is that the rights are all over the place and have been whored out all over the shop.

It hardly matters if this latest b******t attempt to slap a "Commodore Pet" badge on a mediocre Android smartphone and claim it as a revival of the Pet (even though it was to come with Vic 20 and C64- not Pet!- emulators that any Android device could run) is "officially" endorsed or not. It's all crap, who gives a toss anyway?

(*) "Commodore USA", who were themselves just a company that had licensed the "Commodore" name from the rights holders and are now no more.

Comment Re:Almost (Score 5, Insightful) 263

Please excuse this off-topic queue-jumping reply to your comment, but there are times when someone makes a very insightful observation that really, really should have gone in a more prominent position.

Sneak preview; three virtually identical questions of the form "How Much [language x] Should You Know For an Entry-Level [language x] Job?" going to the Dice website and "submitted" by the same Slashdot employee in just over two weeks.

Bonus; OP linked above correctly predicted this week's story and even got the language right.

That's almost funny, except that it isn't. Admittedly, Slashdot has been "going down the tubes" almost since it launched, but this is particularly crap.

Stellar rays prove fibbing never pays. Embezzlement is another matter.