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Comment: Re:Well, no wonder Dr. Who is so big over there... (Score 2) 214

Except that, even if you don't care for the pantomime style, Doctor Who often rips the shit out of politicians, the military and religion. Plus, there are other British shows like Utopia, Black Mirror, Life on Mars/Ashes To Ashes and Orphan Black (OK - the latter is a US/BBC co-production) that 'do' conspiracies and social comment in ways that the traditional US TV networks wouldn't touch with a bargepole (looking forward to "Humans" although I understand that's a remake of a Scandinavian show). US viewers might not have seen them because they don't have 500 episodes and (with the exception of Who) tend to finish when the material is tapped out.

The US output has got vastly better in the last 20 years, but in the past they really couldn't touch the sort of dark, anti-establishment or morally ambiguous content of British shows like Quatermas, Blake's 7, Doomwatch (X-files without the aliens), UFO, Edge of Darkness (not the film!) or the non-SF 'House of Cards' (original British version). The sets may have wobbled (only UFO had state-of-the-art effects for the time), they all had good and bad episodes, but the stories didn't pull any punches. Yes, Star Trek had a strong social justice message, but it was mostly morally squeaky-clean and moralistic, with nice happy endings.

Comment: Journalism 101 (Score 4, Informative) 214

The headline:

Scotland Yard was worried that fans of shows like the X Files and Star Trek might run amok during the Millennium according to secret files.

The actual story:

'The documents show the police and security services were concerned about the export of some new religious movements concerning UFOs and aliens from the USA in the aftermath of the mass suicide by followers of the Heaven's Gate.'"

Slight difference...

Anyway, was this going to be the Star Trek Wars or the Star Wars Trek?

Comment: The Shopping Mall curriculum... (Score 1) 387

by itsdapead (#49725235) Attached to: Microsoft To Teachers: Using Pens and Paper Not Fair To Students

When was the last time you used a piece of chalk to express yourself

When was the last time this guy saw a piece of chalk in a classroom... or saw a classroom, for that matter?

Kids text.

Know what else kids do? Hang around in shopping malls looking miserable. Many will also drink alcohol if they can get hold of it, or jiggle around in darkened rooms to music that consists of some guy making misogynistic comments over a drum machine.

So perhaps we should turn all the schools into shopping malls with rave venues, and serve lots of alcopops? Kids would be much happier. Whether they'd actually learn anything is questionable, but at least they'd stay in school. Except: they wouldn't because any cool thing to do becomes uncool as soon as an educational institution tries to do it.

Seriously - school curricula do need to make better use of technology, but that entails a major shift in the curriculum and assessment, to stop training kids to do things that technology can do better, and start teaching them to use technology properly. You don't do that by throwing a lot of tablets at schools and using them to deliver powerpoint-ized versions of the old curriculum. Shading bubbles on screen is no better than filling bubbles on paper. Nor do you learn how to interact constructively with people or construct and defend an argument by "liking" a picture of someone in Japan lighting a fart ( didn't actually like it but all your mates 'liked' it so you went along in case anybody unfriended you).

Or, for any under-20s reading:


Comment: Re:They already have a paid version... (Score 1) 167

by itsdapead (#49675363) Attached to: How Spotify Can Become Profitable

It's not only too high, it doesn't account for the other use-cases people have for Spotify. Want to listen to an album before you buy it? Spotify free.

Yup - have to admit that's the way I often use it. At one point, they had some sort of hook-up with an online store so you could buy albums. Presumably, that didn't work out.

However, there's plenty of other albums/artists that I might get the urge to listen to occasionally but don't feel the need to own for perpetuity - I'd probably pay a couple of quid a month for ad-free access to a bottomless library, but not £10, which is far more than my average monthly music spend.

Even though a lot of people use Photoshop and Microsoft Office, a lot of others (me included) will never buy again because of the lack of a truly standalone product.

I'm not sure that compares - you're talking about being forced to 'rent' a single product, or small suite of products that, previously, you would have bought. Spotify is giving you access to a vast music library - even if you only count the genres of music that you actually like it is far more than you would ever have bought. Also, new music that people actually want is continually appearing - whereas Adobe and Microsoft's problem is that their flagship products became 'feature complete' a decade or two back - everything since then is bloat, and nobody in their right mind wants to upgrade unless forced.

Comment: They already have a paid version... (Score 1) 167

by itsdapead (#49672023) Attached to: How Spotify Can Become Profitable

You can already pay £10/month for ad-free, higher bitrate and the removal of a few other hurdles/restrictions on the free version. I think the problem is that's a bit too high a regular outgoing for light/infrequent users, or if you need more than one service. How about a 'pay as you go' option with x hours of listening for a few quid?

Also, selling advertising can't be working very well: the vast majority of the ads are for Spotify.

Comment: Re:Editorializing... (Score 1) 408

That's far far above the percentage for the general population.

Citation needed.

If we're relying on the "International Journal of What A Bloke in the Pub Said", 10% of drivers having experienced a minor accident (possibly non fault) in a year sounds about right.

Ah, here we go... - 8%.

Of course, none of these stats are any use without some indication of the mileage or type of driving involved. The only safe bet is that the mileage of a car being used to develop autonomous driving systems is anything but "average"!

Comment: Re:The first crappy language I encountered! (Score 1) 171

Basic was so bad, I learned assembler. And then PASCAL, and C, and many more.

(Pedant point: 'BASIC and Pascal' not 'Basic and PASCAL' - only one of them is an acronym).

Except that BASIC was an interpreted language that would fit into an 8K ROM with room to spare for a rudimentary OS, and happily run on a microcomputer with 4K of RAM and no disc drive. This was when a floppy disc drive and controller cost twice as much as the original computer. Try using a compiled language without a twin disc drive (possible, but no fun). Telling someone that they should be using Pascal on their ZX81 or Vic 20 is just plain stupid: Its like whaling on PHP without explaining how you get Tomcat, server-side Python or Haskell on Rails* running on your cheap/free shared web hosting package.

Anyhow, as soon as computers got more powerful, BASIC started to gain proper control structures, meaningful variable names, named procedures etc. and anybody with any aptitude started using them and/or other languages. The "BASIC is harmful" meme just means that BASIC made programming accessible and interesting to a far wider range of people who maybe weren't going to grow up to be master programmers.

And no, the true gem of really bad technology is bog-standard ISO Pascal - the one with no 'real time' screen/keyboard I/O, no defined way of associating a Pascal file with an actual file in any form of filing system apart from naming the file on the command line, and what was presumably a deliberate parody of the "goto" command (you can only jump to defined labels that have to be declared in advanced but which can only have numerical names...) There were, of course, decent, but nonstandard, implementations of Pascal - but I think C won because both K&R and ANSI specified a substantial library full of useful I/O and other stuff based on the Unix API.

(*I really hope that I just made that up)

Comment: Re:Joint IBM Microsoft Agreement .. (Score 3, Interesting) 171

It was the clone market that actually handed MS control of the IBM PC, neither of which parties could have foreseen.

"IBM recognizes that MS will be licensing the MS Product Offering 1.1 to third parties".

Methinks that whoever put that line in the contract had foreseen the clone market. Its very unlike the IBM of yore not to insist on exclusive control and it must have taken some effort to avoid that. If MS hadn't been able to license MS-DOS to the clone makers, they'd have had to license CP/M or clean-room their own DOS clone, which might have limited the clones' compatibility and certainly wouldn't have made money for Microsoft!

Comment: I think our namespace is getting too crowded... (Score 4, Funny) 153


Would that be named after the mobile broadband technology, the guitarist from U2 or Samsung's flagship smartphone? Why don't they give it a meaningful name that somehow relates to its function, like, er, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Mozilla, SeaMonkey... Oh, right. Failing that, why not the old, reliable pseudo Latin/Greek names: Webia, Browsium, internet startup names (MeWeb, WebBox, WeBrowse...) or even retro Unix names ('yawb', 'enie')?

Comment: Re:Restrictive workplace policy (Score 1) 267

by itsdapead (#49350351) Attached to: Generate Memorizable Passphrases That Even the NSA Can't Guess

only 3 incorrect attempts locks the account and requires a call to the outsourced IT in India

I think we can safely say that such a system will completely eliminate brute force password-guessing attacks. What's Hindi for "social engineering"?

Meanwhile, any suggestions for what to say to an IT department who, every time a phishing message comes round saying:

"Your account may have been compromised, please go to <a href=""></a> to confirm your security details."

...respond by sending round a message saying

"if you think you may be affected, please go to <a href="">;</a> to confirm your security details."

...because the people who fall for these know how to spot a dodgey hyperlink, right?

Comment: Re:Running only Windows on a Mac (Score 2) 209

by itsdapead (#49314701) Attached to: For Boot Camp Users, New Macs Require Windows 8 Or Newer

I've always been curious if there is ever going to be a clean way of running straight windows on a macbook air (ideally Windows 10).

Eh? "Bootcamp" is straight Windows. It isn't a virtualiser like VMWare or Parallels. Its just a point and drool wizard to set up a 'dual boot' system. If you want to do it manually I'm sure there are instructions out on the Interweb.

but still need the drivers..

Last time I looked, Bootcamp Assistant had an option to download the Windows drivers as a disc image.

Comment: Re:meanwhile (Score 1) 342

by itsdapead (#49284525) Attached to: UK Chancellor Confirms Introduction of 'Google Tax'

The typical libertarian who wants complete deregulation of *everything* but complains when Comcast is their only broadband choice.

Well, this is a UK law and I don't think we have Comcast here (unless some eejit has let them buy a stake in BT or Virgin Media).

Strangely, although the amount of regulation in the UK and EU is already enough to give a US libertarian complete apoplexy, we do mostly get something resembling choice when it comes to internet and phone service providers. Not brilliant, but the more I hear about the US mess, the more I appreciate what we have...

(Apologies to the good people of Kingston-on-Hull, of course).

Comment: Re:Impossible (Score 1) 286

by itsdapead (#49268583) Attached to: Elon Musk Pledges To End "Range Anxiety" For Tesla Model S

Because those who claim range anxiety want to have a "reason" for them thinking electric cars won't work

Nope, people who don't have range anxiety just have a use case where the range isn't an issue for them.

I'm not moaning about range because I don't want an electric car: I'm moaning about range because I would quite like an electric car, but paying 50-100% premium over a comparable ICE car (far more than you'd ever save in fuel costs) and then having to plan journeys around re-charges, or keep a second car or rent for long journeys just doesn't make sense.

Recent research has tended to show that the Abominable No-Man is being replaced by the Prohibitive Procrastinator. -- C.N. Parkinson