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Comment Re:No sympathy for the black cabs (Score 2) 106

Hell, try getting a cab to Waterloo or London Bridge (two of London's biggest rail stations, both of them just south of the Thames) during the rush hour. I've been refused multiple times on both of those, because the driver didn't want the hassle of the traffic over the bridges. This is despite the fact that the conditions under which they are granted their monopoly on the pick-up trade stipulate that a taxi driver must:

- Accept any hiring up to 12 miles or up to one hour duration, if the destination is in Greater London
- Accept any hiring up to 20 miles if starting at Heathrow Airport

I don't like Uber's business model of "break the local laws until Government gives in and changes them", but the black cabs were a monopoly in need of breaking.


Microsoft Blames Layoffs For Drop In Female Employees (cio.com) 174

itwbennett writes: This year, women made up 26.8 percent of Microsoft's total workforce, down from 29 percent in 2014, the company reported Monday. In a blog post discussing the numbers, Gwen Houston, Microsoft's general manager of diversity and inclusion, pointed the finger at the thousands of layoffs the company made to restructure its phone hardware business: 'The workforce reductions resulting from the restructure of our phone hardware business ... impacted factory and production facilities outside the U.S. that produce handsets and hardware, and a higher percentage of those jobs were held by women,' she said.

Comment Re:Awwww thats so cute (Score 1) 313

I actually still have one of the BT/yahoo email accounts I mentioned in my GP post (even though BT haven't been my ISP for a decade now, I pay a small fee to keep the email account because of the faff associated with changing all the accounts linked to it). I can confirm that it does indeed have advertising if you aren't running an adblocker, though for the time being at least, it raises no objections to me using Adblock Plus when I log in.

There was a fair old bit of fuss some years back, when BT migrated its users from the bespoke email service it had been providing onto the reskinned Yahoo accounts. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, BT and Yahoo just decided to tolerate that "bit of fuss" and carried on regardless.

Comment Re:Awwww thats so cute (Score 4, Informative) 313

Yahoo provides email services for quite a number of big ISPs. Certainly, the email services for BT (which is still, I think, the UK's largest ISP) are provided by Yahoo and just given a light BT-specific reskinning.

So there might be quite a lot more people out there using Yahoo mail accounts than you would suspect. Some of them probably don't realise it themselves.

Comment Re:Is Windows10 a thing? (Score 1) 194

Usual caveats apply, but the latest stats I can find have Windows 10 on around 8% market share. Its rise seems to have been accompanied by a significant fall in Windows 8 market share, which I'm guessing indicates that a lot of the people who bought a PC that came bundled with Windows 8 have made the jump.

I've made the switch myself on two machines; one updated from Windows 7 and one new-build which I stuck straight onto Windows 10. There is a bit of faff required to turn off the telemetry nastiness, but once that's out of the way, I generally prefer it to Windows 7. There are some good UI improvements, plus there will be directx 12 support down the line. That said, I've noticed occasional odd behaviour on the updated machine (and disappointing results from fastboot); it seems that clean installs really are the way to go and, if I cared enough, I would do that.

That said, when my parents tried to update their aging laptop from Win7 to Win10, it locked the machine in an infinite reboot cycle, requiring me to make a 400 mile round-trip to fix it and (eventually) get it back to Win7. Turns out that Win10 doesn't like some old laptop integrated graphics setups. Would be nice if the compatibility checker tool had actually picked this up. It doesn't actually seem to do much compatibility checking, but rather just to push people towards the update.

And no, people under 30 aren't just using phones and tablets. Cousin's daughter tried to go the "iPad only" route when she started university last year and gave up and bought a PC after a couple of weeks. Tablets and phones are pretty toys and are fine for web-browsing and watching youtube, but you can't yet turn them into a credible substitute for a laptop or desktop.

Comment In all honesty... (Score 1) 373

Go with "which platform has more of your friends using it" and "which controller do you prefer".

The irony with this generation of the console wars is that the fanboy bitterness is greater than ever, but the differences between the rival platforms have never been smaller. Yes, there are some minor spec differences, but for the most part, you need a magnifying glass to spot them. And single-platform exclusives are in decline; the cost of making games these days means that most games are multiplatform.

My first preference would be to recommend "just get a gaming PC", but I'm guessing that's not an option for one reason or another, or that you already have one, but want a console to go with it.

If you want to split hairs, then the PS4 tends to be better than the XB1 for running multiplatform games, but the XB1 currently has a very slightly better lineup of exclusives. The only real "stand out" exclusive on the PS4 right now is Bloodborne, which, judging from your post, isn't really what you're after (though it is an excellent game). That said, Japanese developers favour Sony platforms and if you like Japanese RPGs and the like, the PS4 is already slightly ahead in that category and its lead will grow. But the XB1 has clearly had a better holiday season for exclusives; Forza 6, Halo 5, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears of War Remastered, vs just the Uncharted Collection on the PS4.

Funny thing is, the exclusives tend to more or less balance each other out anyway. Gears of War vs Killzone. Halo vs Uncharted. Forza vs Gran Turismo. Though I will say that Forza has been much, much better than Gran Turismo for several iterations now.

As for non-gaming functions, the features are more or less parallel now. Both consoles have been patched with DNLA support, though the PS4's interface for it is rather better. That said, the XB1 can act as a throughput device for your cable-box, if you are short of HDMI ports on your TV. So it's kind of even there as well.

tl;dr version - it doesn't really matter. Neither is quite as good as a decent gaming PC, but both are fine in their own right. Which platform gives you a larger friends-list and which controller you prefer are the biggest factors.

Comment Games from discs (Score 2, Interesting) 150

The big unanswered question is whether Sony will allow users to play PS2 games from their original discs. On the basis of what we've seen so far, there would appear to be no reason why this isn't feasible.

The worry, however, is that Sony wants restrict the system to online purchases made via a PS4, so that people who want to play PS2 games on a PS4 need to purchase the titles again, even if they own the original discs (and with probably only a tiny portion of the PS2's library being available for purchase).


The War On Campus Sexual Assault Goes Digital 399

HughPickens.com writes: According to a recent study of 27 schools, about one-quarter of female undergraduates said they had experienced nonconsensual sex or touching since entering college, but most of the students said they did not report it to school officials or support services. Now Natasha Singer reports at the NYT that in an effort to give students additional options — and to provide schools with more concrete data — a nonprofit software start-up in San Francisco called Sexual Health Innovations has developed an online reporting system for campus sexual violence. One of the most interesting features of Callisto is a matching system — in which a student can ask the site to store information about an assault in escrow and forward it to the school only if someone else reports another attack identifying the same assailant. The point is not just to discover possible repeat offenders. In college communities, where many survivors of sexual assault know their assailants, the idea of the information escrow is to reduce students' fears that the first person to make an accusation could face undue repercussions.

"It's this last option that makes Callisto unique," writes Olga Khazan. "Most rapes are committed by repeat offenders, yet most victims know their attackers. Some victims are reluctant to report assaults because they aren't sure whether a crime occurred, or they write it off as a one-time incident. Knowing about other victims might be the final straw that puts an end to their hesitation—or their benefit of the doubt. Callisto's creators claim that if they could stop perpetrators after their second victim, 60 percent of campus rapes could be prevented." This kind of system is based partly on a Michigan Law Review article about "information escrows," or systems that allow for the transmitting of sensitive information in ways that reduce "first-mover disadvantage" also known to economists as the "hungry penguin problem". As game theorist Michael Chwe points out, the fact that each person creates her report independently makes it less likely they'll later be accused of submitting copycat reports, if there are similarities between the incidents.

Comment Not touching this one (Score 4, Insightful) 126

It's a multiplayer only game (ok, ok, you can play against bots, but that doesn't count), selling for a price that is, if anything, slightly higher than the average, where the developers have been quite open to quickly divide the community between those who are willing to pay an extra large sum on top of that for the DLC/season pass, and those peasants who just want to pay for the basic game.

In a game with a proper single-player campaign and a season pass for multiplayer content (eg. Tomb Raider, Call of Duty), I can happily ignore the season pass. In a game with a proper single-player campaign and a season pass for single-player content (eg. Fallout 4, The Witcher 3), I can make a situational call on whether to pay extra for the additional content, knowing that the original game isn't diluted if I don't want to splash out. But in a multiplayer-only game, I know that if I don't spend extra for the season pass (or buy each piece of DLC piecemeal), I'm going to get rapidly shunted into an online ghetto.

Battlefront's season pass is a particularly expensive one.

The game is pretty but looks like a rip-off. The better reviews have all highlighted that while fun for a short period of time, there is little depth to the gameplay and it gets old very fast. There have been a huge number of quality releases in the last few weeks that I have barely scratched the surface of (StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Disgaea 5, the expansions for Witcher 3 and Bloodborne and, flawed though it is, Fallout 4). On that basis, I am happy to pass up this particular rip-off.

Comment Re:Back in the old days (Score 2) 393

I'd say that in the UK at least, there's a twist on this.

Our graduate numbers have soared since the early 1990s, as a result of the policies of successive Governments (most notably the closure/rebranding of the vocational-focussed polytechnics and the Blairite policy of 50% of teens going to university). Alongside that, the average quality of graduate employment and the size of the average "graduate premium" on salaries has fallen sharply.

That said, when you look at the detail, the situation has changed a lot less than you might think. We have a very distinct hierarchy of universities here in the UK, with, I would say, even sharper differences than the whole Ivy League thing in the US produces. At the top of the pyramid you have Oxford and Cambridge, the elite of the elite. Then you have a small number of other "elite" universities (including several of the London ones). Then you have the traditional "red brick" universities; good, but not elite. Then you have the "new" universities and former polytechnics. It's also worth noting that the difficulty of degrees varies massively between those institutions. A BA from Oxford or Cambridge may require 15-20 hours of lectures or supervisions per week, a similar quantity of reading time, plus, depending on subject, an essay, piece of translation work, small coding task or other such exercise per week, as well as a more substantial piece of project work over the course of a term or a year. Fail the exams at the end of any year and they generally throw you out, unless you were seriously ill. At the "new" universities, on the other hand, there may be a couple of lectures per week, an essay or two per term and virtually unlimited resits on offer for exams.

When an employer looks at a CV, the expectation these days is indeed "degree by default". So the first thing said employer looks at is which university awarded the degree (the hierarchy of universities is pretty much imprinted in the minds of the British professional classes). The second thing is the subject the degree is in (anything with "Studies" in the name is taken as a bad sign).

Once you apply those filters, you can see that the impact on the employment prospects and salary increments of those going to university today who would have gone to university under the standards of 30 years ago have not actually fallen all that much (if at all, at the top level). The only difference is that with more people going to university, the grants system is effectively dead, so they are graduating with a lot of debt they wouldn't have had 30 years ago. That said, student loan repayment terms in the UK are exceptionally generous. Meanwhile, those who would not have been able to go to university 30 years ago, who go to the "new" universities, in most cases are gaining next to no benefit to their employability (and in some cases an outright disadvantage as they are competing with their peers who didn't go to university and have been in the workforce getting experience for 3 years), but are saddled with a similar level of debt.

Submission + - Bring back MST3K Kickstarter Hits $2 Million Goal (lawrenceperson.com)

Nova Express writes: In a follow-up to the previous Slashdot story about the Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000 kickstarter, they have already hit their $2 million goal with 25 days left, which means they'll produce at least three new episodes. Now we'll see if they can make their $5.5 million stretch goal and produce a full 12 episodes.

Comment Enjoying anger (Score 4, Insightful) 119

I think a lot of this is driven by the fact that many people have realised, consciously or otherwise, that they enjoy being angry. That they get some sort of validation or self-worth from it.

A few months back, I dropped out of participation in a TV/movies forum I'd been a member of for years, largely due to a growing trend in "hate watching". This is where people would pick a show they hated, sometimes for artistic reasons but more commonly for political reasons, watch it all the way through and post in great acerbic detail about everything they hated about it. This, of course, led to people who liked that show jumping in to defend it and launching their own retaliatory "hate watches" and meant that more or less every thread broke down into a flamewar.

Previously, people had just not watched shows they didn't like beyond the first episode or two. Everything was a lot more live-and-let-live. Problem was, of course, the forum's moderators realised that the hate watch flamewars were producing masses and masses of page-views and therefore advertising views. So instead of trying to dampen things down, they did everything they could to encourage it.

This is part of the problem; the current financial model for most of the web (and social media in particular) is based around ad-views. As anger and outrage lead to lots of page-views, the financial incentive is to keep people in a state of perpetual quivering outrage.

That's just part of the explanation, of course. I'd look to colleges for most of the rest.

Comment Re:Game chat (Score 4, Interesting) 202

You do actually have a point. Trying out Metal Gear Online with a couple of friends a week ago, I found myself stopping to think about just how dodgy our conversation would sound taken out of context. Hell, I remember conversations from my Counter-Strike days about where best to plant the bomb and how quickly we should be aiming to rush to the nuke. If the NSA really are listening in on everything we do on a "keyword" basis, then the average online game must be a hilariously massive flood of false positives for them.


Explosions and Multiple Shootings In Paris, Possible Hostages (cnn.com) 965

An anonymous reader writes: Multiple sources are reporting that at least 18 people are dead across three shootings in central Paris. The Associated Press reports as many as 26, as of this writing. Some victims were at a restaurant, while others were at a nearby theater. Early reports indicate there may be a hostage situation with more people at that theater. Police have also confirmed an explosion at a bar near Stade de France stadium, where a football match was underway between France and Germany. There are reports of other explosions heard at the stadium as well, but no details yet. "The attack comes as France has heightened security measures ahead of a major global climate conference that starts in two weeks, out of fear of violent protests and potential terrorist attacks." The attacks occurred not far from where the Charlie Hebdo shooting happened in January. "French news media reported that Kalashnikov rifles had been involved in the shootings — a favored weapon of militants who have attacked targets in France — and that many rounds had been fired."

"For the love of phlegm...a stupid wall of death rays. How tacky can ya get?" - Post Brothers comics