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Comment Just avoid the cinema... (Score 1) 279

The approach I take is to not bother going to the overpriced, customer-hostile and noisy cinema. There are very few films that are so amazing that I can't wait a few months until they come out on DVD/Netflix/Amazon etc.

The bottom line is, the media companies have an over-inflated opinion of their product. I'm happy to wait a bit and then watch it in the comfort of my own home. And if this means that the cinema industry dies, then so be it. Cinemas need to attract customers, not treat them as potential criminals.

Meanwhile, I'll get on with doing lots of other non-cinema leisure activities.

Comment Would love a modern NeXTstep (Score 4, Interesting) 165

I'd love to see a desktop OS that builds on what NeXT did. I know Mac OS X is that to some degree, but I'm thinking of something more like the original NeXTstep GUI.

It's somewhat ironic that when GNUstep first started, one of the reasons why it didn't get much traction was the use of the "non-standard" Objective-C. As a result, effort was instead spent on KDE and then GNOME. If GNUstep became the standard, it could have changed Linux on the desktop as porting Mac OS X apps over would have been much easier. Of course, no-one knew that then.

Comment Microsoft Office needs a competitor (Score 1) 254

While LibreOffice is undoubtedly a very capable suite, Microsoft Office has also moved on in the last 15 years. To compete (certainly in the workplace) would need a decent Outlook competitor and even additional products like Visio (I know Draw goes some way to fill that gap), OneNote (to which there is no feature equivalent application in Linux to my knowledge) and Project.

Something like LibreOffice is needed though. Having read the [lack of] new features in the upcoming Office 16 shows how Microsoft has slowed down with no competitors.

Comment They've already been doing it anyway (Score 1) 278

A couple of decades ago there was a special forces unit, 14 Intelligence Company, who did undercover operations, primarily in Northern Ireland. I've read a couple of books about it (this is a good one: and they all mention how operatives were given training in advanced driving.

In one instance, they were pulled over by police during training, but when they provided a code word they were allowed to continue.

So I guess they've always been doing this, but now it's just been formalised.

Submission + - Save Technet! (

tfl writes: Microsoft is attempting to shut down their popular TechNet subscription service. The service provides for the download of just about every key product MIcrosoft makes, all for a reasonable annual fee. This software, which is NOT for use in production, is highly valuable to a range of IT Pros around the industry. The software allows you to build sample solutions and keep them running for a while (unlike the proposed replacement of evaluation software).

The cynical way the news was released is another slap in the face to the industry, An unsigned email was sent out, along with an anonymous blog post, announcing the closure in what is best described as polished PR-speak (no truth but lots of innuendo). It was released late on July 1st, just as key folks in Redmond are off for their 4th of July holidays, and just before key execs were out of the office attending WPC and MGX. There was an assumption that we'd just sit down and take it.

Several IT pros have say NO. We've setup a web blog; Http:// and are looking for support. So please come on over and comment on the blog.

We have also setup an online petition at Change.Org. The URL to the petition is:

PLEASE — sign the petition and ask Redmond to do the right thing

Comment Re:Settle that damn dream sequence, please! (Score 2) 215

The dream was covered in volume 3 of the B5 scripts books. To paraphrase what it says there:

Ivanova with a raven on her shoulder: A symbol for Ivanova being the voice of the resistance, the bird being a reference to Norse mythology where they brought news. The "Do you know who I am" refers to her being a latent telepath.

The "man in between" refers to Sheridan himself, described by Lorien as being "in-between" (life and death).

However, in one of the other books, there is a scan of some of JMS' notes and next to "man in between" is the handwritten question "raised by Vorlons?". This suggests that at one point JMS was considering other possibilities.

My favourite bit though is (to quote):

"As for the dove on Garibaldi's shoulder... that doesn't mean anything. I just liked the idea of making Jerry Doyle have to stand around the set all day with a bird on his shoulder"

Comment B5 universe unresolved plots... (Score 2) 215

Is there any chance that B5 fans will ever get insight into what you actually had planned with Crusade after the Drakh plague was cured? I know it was something to do with Earth wanting left over Shadow technology, but did you have anything specific in mind? Did you have an outline for each year?

And similarly, will we ever find out who or what The Hand were about (in Legend of the Rangers)?

And, not a question, but a big "thank you" for B5. I'm taking a friend through it for the first time and we're currently mid-way through season four. She's now totally hooked and has borrowed my season one DVD box set to see it again now she understands some of where it's going.

Submission + - Elite:Dangerous Kickstarter gathers momentum (

jregel writes: "Following an initially shaky start, the ambitious follow-up to the granddaddy of all space games, Elite:Dangerous, has raised over £871,000 out of a target of £1250000 with 14 days to go. Promising a procedurally generated galaxy and an open universe in which to trade, fight and explore, Elite:Dangerous now has a teaser trailer, development diaries, a concept video and podcast interview available. In a generous move, Chris Roberts, creator of Wing Commander, who has recently been successful in financing another space game, Star Citizen, and has encouraged his backers to also back Elite:Dangerous."

Comment Exciting! (Score 4, Interesting) 109

Elite was a huge consumer of my time during my teenage years. I'd originally tried it on the 8bit Acorn Electron (the BBC Micro's baby brother), but was a bit too young to really get it and was hopeless at playing the game. But when I got my first PC, I was able to really get into it, spending hours playing when I should have probably been studying for my GCSEs, eventually getting the missions and the coveted Elite status.

All this was done on the CGA version, low resolution in four colours. On loading, a menu would allow me to select wireframe graphics only, or if the PC was really fast (6Mhz 286 or greater I seem to recall...), then you could select solid filled polygons. I had a 20Mhz 286 so could enjoy the enhanced version. Didn't matter though, because the imagination filled in the gaps.

When Frontier:Elite 2 came out, I was amazed at all the things we wanted to do in the original could now be done (landing on planets with a seamless transition between space and atmosphere, different ships that could be bought and equipped, more missions). But the flight model was a bit too complicated and lacked the immediacy of the original. I was never really taken with the "Star Dreamer" time acceleration feature either as it was too easy to skip through things (like docking).

Never played Frontier: First Encounters as I think I had moved onto girls by then, but having read that it was released by the publisher in an unfinished state, it sounds like I've not missed that much.

But Elite:Dangerous sounds like the sort of game I really want to play! A huge universe as a playground? Flying through the clouds of a gas giant? Mining asteroids? Teaming up with friends to complete missions? Yes please!

So far I've pledged a little, with the expectation I'll pledge more before the Kickstarter finishes. As a [very] occasional gamer these days, this is something I want to spend my evenings playing.

You've been Berkeley'ed!