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Comment: Re:So what's next (Score 1) 255

by itsdapead (#48653685) Attached to: Amazon "Suppresses" Book With Too Many Hyphens

Amazon decided to pull a book because of punctuation.

No, as a dozen people have posted before you, they decided to pull a book because of a technical typesetting error (Unicode minus signs in place of hyphens) that would screw up page formatting (hyphens are significant to text-wrapping and auto-hyphenation algorithms) and text-to-speech (or should I say 'textminustominusspeech'?)

I guess next time it sentence structure, or maybe using certain words too many times.

That's exactly what a decent copy editor would look at (as well as knowing when to use an m-dash, a minus sign or a hyphen) and would be a valuable service to self-publishing authors. Bring it on.

And words in sentences lead to ideas,

...and words in sentences communicate ideas more effectively when they are properly spelled, punctuated and typeset. That doesn't affect the message.

Comment: Assess demand? (Score 1) 133

by itsdapead (#48640995) Attached to: Tesla About To Start Battery-Swap Pilot Program

and assess demand" for a swapping service.

Not sure how you can "assess demand" for something like this with a limited trial. The "demand" would be for a substantial network of swap stations that allowed people to treat EVs like gas cars and not have to plan long trips around meal breaks at superchargers. They might expand the market to customers who have currently rejected EVs because of the charging problem: if you already have a Tesla you probably looked into the charging situation and decided that it fits your motoring needs, so you're not going to be falling over yourself to pay for a battery swap instead.

Then, the battery replacement needs to be integrated with some sort of lease scheme whereby you don't actually own the battery which (some EVs use this approach anyway) which would make sense in many ways, but if you've already bought your car, complete with battery, are you going to want to swap it out?

The other issue is the long-term scalability of the "free supercharge" model - its fine with the current level of Tesla ownership, but if EVs go mainstream provision will have to ramp up dramatically (think: whole parking lots wired up for charging) or it will be common to turn up at a station and find all the bays occupied by fully-charged cars waiting for their owners to drift back from their leisurely lunches and shopping trips. A battery-swap system might be the only way to turn round enough customers. "Free charging" certainly isn't going to be long-term sustainable - but while its there, its going to be hard to persuade people to pay for battery-swaps.

Comment: Re:Good Decision (Score 1) 191

by itsdapead (#48613027) Attached to: Apple Wins iTunes DRM Case

The decision was good. Apple did not have a monopoly. People could choose not to use Apple products and still listen to music.

What's more, people could choose not to use Apple's iTunes music store and still listen to music on their iPod. Reports of this case always seem to airbrush over the fact that the "lock out" only ever affected competing DRM formats: there was no problem with playing unprotected MP3 or AAC files from any source.

Comment: Re:hum (Score 1) 440

by itsdapead (#48609567) Attached to: Federal Court Nixes Weeks of Warrantless Video Surveillance

So let me get this straight, so people with visas and greencards can be deported for many reasons including petty crimes or mistakes on applications, which has happened, but this illegal immigrant is complaining that his rights have been violated?

People with visas etc. sign away their right to contest deportation when they fill in their landing card (or click "I agree" on the new electronic system) - along with declaring that they're not a drug dealer, convicted felon, terrorist or war criminal (so, if you turn out to be any of those, they can book you for giving false information whether or not you've actually committed any other crime in the US).

Comment: Re:Last few fish in a small pond... (Score 1) 433

by itsdapead (#48608747) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

For example, a steam engine can use any heat source as fuel, so it may be useful if you can easily get wood or coal, but not diesel or electricity.

...and if you can't get wood or coal, a horse is better than a steam engine. That doesn't make a wood-powered steam car a viable alternative for the daily commute (it might be carbon neutral but it sure as hell ain't smog neutral).

IIRC, a film camera can operate at lower temperatures than a digital one.

Until you use up your 36 exposures and have to change the film wearing thick gloves. Probably why they went digital with Rosetta and all those Mars probes - not many 1 hour photo shops out there.

You're kinda repeating my point, though: you can often find a niche market for which an old technology is a perfect fit, in which case that technology will stay around for ages. That doesn't mean that it is "better" for the vast majority of uses, though.

Comment: Re:clarity - wrong assumption (Score 1) 433

by itsdapead (#48595351) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Vinyl being analog by limitation of the medium can't contain this tracking information.

For the signal to survive being compressed to MP3, it would pretty much have to be encoded as a modulated audio signal that the encoder would treat as part of the music, and there's no technical reason why you couldn't include 'secret data' on a vinyl LP using the same technique... However, since thousands of copies are stamped out from each master (that applies to vinyl *and* CD) it wouldn't be much good as a way of tracing who made the copy.

Plus, it could interfere with the messages from Satan that you hear when you play your heavy metal LPs backwards, and He really wouldn't like that.

Comment: Last few fish in a small pond... (Score 1) 433

by itsdapead (#48594595) Attached to: Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

In other news, the last surviving makers of wax cylinders and shellac 78s are probably doing quite well from their own perspective. I'm sure that camera film will continue to be available for enthusiasts and specialist purposes for many years - just not in a high street near you. Since people still ride horses, I assume that there are still a few blacksmiths going strong. Then, a couple of years back, those people build a brand new steam locomotive... That doesn't mean that film cameras, Edison phonographs, horses or steam trains are coming back, or are better than their modern replacements.

I'd be quite unsurprised if "new" vinyl LPs end up being more widely available than "new" Audio CDs. Not because they're better, but they're more iconic and the machines that make them will be easier to keep running without huge economies of scale.

Comment: Re:Why does this need a sequel? (Score 1) 299

by itsdapead (#48594299) Attached to: Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever"

Deckard was not a replicant, according to both PKD and the screenwriter.

I don't think PKD's opinion counts, since the film was so hugely different from the book, and missed out lots of plot points like the "mood organ", the social pressure to own an animal (or an electric fake), the robot disc jockey and the whole Mercerist religion (which made the VK test look suspiciously like a test of religious dogma). Deckard was human and his memories hadn't been implanted, but everything he remembered and felt had, one way or another, been an artifice.

Comment: Re:Sound like... (Score 1) 80

by itsdapead (#48593267) Attached to: Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

It was a story about midwifes in the late fifties. One of the midwifes was a chain smoker and even smoked around children.

Yes - in the 1950s, nobody would have batted an eyelid at that (its probably a detail from the real-life memoirs the series was inspired by). My dad was in hospital with a lung infection in the 50s. They came round the ward with a cart handing out free cigarettes.

it does not in my opinion add anything to the story.

Really? It shows one aspect of how social practices and attitudes have changed in the last 50 years which is the whole bloody point of the show! Should they have quietly corrected all the now-discredited medical practices while they were at it? Perhaps they should have shown more women in senior positions instead type-casting them as midwifes and nurses?

Perhaps you should stick to watching Life on Mars instead - then you have a modern-day avatar to call the 1970s characters out on any behaviour which would not be acceptable in 2010, lest you thought the producers were endorsing it.

It is also a sell out to the smoking industry.

Just because they really are out to get you, it doesn't mean that you're not paranoid.

Comment: Re:Games were the death of programming (Score 2) 110

by itsdapead (#48546351) Attached to: Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

...and kids at the time clamoured to get a spectrum, C64 or whatever because it was a games machine and nothing else to them. Sure, you could program them but very few did.

You seem to be mourning an mythical alternate universe where 50% of kids pestered their parents for a Nascom, UK101 or a Kim 1 so that they could learn programming or digital electronics. Sorry - that was just a handful of us nerds, it never had mass appeal.

What the 1980s games boom did was create mass-market demand for computer hardware, which brought the prices down for everybody. Plus, for those of us who were interested in programming, it ensured that there was money to be made from knocking out simple games or handy utilities.

The "death of programming" came later, with increasing sophistication, when games started having the development (and marketing) budgets of a major movie instead of something you could bang out over a wet weekend, and the rise of consoles that you couldn't program yourself or sell software for...

Comment: Re:So who "did it right"? (Score 1) 368

by itsdapead (#48543427) Attached to: Overly Familiar Sci-Fi

I'm hearing lots of carping, but not a lot of citerefs of SF stories set in the far future that do honestly depict the impact advanced technology would have on society, culture, etc. at least in a way Mr. Stross would expect it to. Any /.ers have any in mind?

Well, there's the classics - both "The Time Machine" and "Brave New World" deal with societies dramatically transformed by technology, and deal with the storytelling challenges by contriving to have a contemporary narrator arrive on the scene via plot device.

Then, Asimov's Elijah Bailey sequence is really about two societies divided by their preparedness to embrace particular technologies. In fact... a society of people that are repulsed by actual physical proximity but think nothing of exposing themselves online... sound familiar? :-)

More recently, someone has already mention Iain M. Banks and The Culture... although its interesting to note that most of the actual stories just used the post-scarcity Culture as a backdrop to Special Circumstances agents interfering with more 20th-century-or-earlier-like civilisations (including 1970s Earth in "State of the Art").

Greg Egan has had a good go at tackling posthumans: most of the characters in Diaspora are intelligent software, and the remaining flesh-and-blood communities have diversified so much that different groups find it hard to communicate.

However, a lot of the "failures" pick their anachronistic societies for good dramatic reasons, not through lack of thought: I'd say that the (new) Battlestar Galactica quite deliberately made their society look like 1980s earth with spaceships. Firefly wasn't really a prediction that we'd all be wearing wild west costumes and talking cowboy in 500 years time: but that piece of whimsy saved a whole shedload of exposition about the structure of that society (also, if you're colonising, not only can horses make more horses out of grass, you can eat them if you have to: try doing that with high-tech a fusion-powered locomotion unit).

Comment: Re:This is impossible (Score 1) 37

by itsdapead (#48475461) Attached to: Edsac Goes Live, At UK's National Museum of Computing

Nah, space isn't for silly things like computers - it's for important things like non-stick frying pans and biros that write upside down*.

(The comms satellites, GPS, remote sensing and general coolness of landing robots on comets and stuff might count for something, too)

* Don't bother with the snopes links - I'm being silly.

Comment: Re:Contracts (Score 1) 307

by itsdapead (#48418123) Attached to: UK Hotel Adds Hefty Charge For Bad Reviews Online

Laws trump contracts pretty much everywhere and in every circumstance.

Yes, but the laws need to exist first. UK, EU, Australia etc. tend to have stronger consumer protection laws than the US (which, AFAIK, vary state by state) and often have authorities that enforce them rather than leaving it up to individuals to sue. You'll notice that big firms like Apple are often getting slapped by the authorities in these countries (e.g. for selling extended warranties that partly duplicate statutory rights) c.f. in the US (where they get hit with class-action lawsuits instead).

NB, looks like Trading Standards have had a little chat with the hotel in TFA.

You see but you do not observe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes"