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Comment Re: FRost (Score 1) 632

The problem here is people going along with the flow and stampeding into fields which are either fashionable at the time, or else subject to big public messages around skills shortages. Those inevitably result in over-supply by the time the people who are choosing their educational path at the time actually make it into the job market.

A couple of decades ago, when I was making the educational choices that would largely define my career route, the accepted wisdom was that if you wanted the high-income middle-class lifestyle, you should become a lawyer. Go around my sixth-form classes (note for non-Brits - sixth-form is the usual term for the 16-18 slice of our educational system) and pretty much half of the class would have said they wanted to be lawyers. 20 years later, large tracts of the legal profession have been hit by a combination of massive over-supply and growing automation. It turned out to be anything but a pathway to riches for most.

This can happen with any field. STEM is not immune. Specific sub-sets of STEM, such as video-game design (which is the trendy pick of choice for modern teenagers), are critically over-supplied (and have been for a decade or more) to the extent that pay can be kept rock-bottom and staff treated like dirt.

There's no hard and fast secret to avoiding finding yourself in a similar situation, but as a general rule, keeping your skills sufficiently flexible to allow for a bit of direction-change and doing what you can to avoid lemming-rushes will generally help manage your risks.

Comment Re:Moore's Law (Score 2) 51

To some extent, that's going to depend on the size of your screen. Larger screens will show up a lack of anti-aliasing a lot more harshly than smaller ones. I suspect a lot of people still gaming at 1080p don't have massive screens (though of course there will be plenty of exceptions).

Comment Re:Moore's Law (Score 1) 51

The 1080 Ti isn't really pitched at people still playing games at 1080p. The 970, which is a few years old now, is still a pretty solid choice for 1080p gaming and its direct successor, the 1070, is overkill (and just fine for 1440p in many cases). Hell, running a lot of games on a 1080 Ti at 1080p, you will probably only see a modest improvement in performance over older cards before you hit CPU-constraints anyway.

The 1080 Ti is really designed for two things; 4K gaming and VR (and, to some degree, people wanting to do 1080p or 1440p gaming at 120Hz). Both of these make much better use of its capabilities. The rapid growth in affordable 4K monitors around 18-24 months ago was a bit of a shock to the system for a lot of people. Running games at 4K requires a huge escalation in resources compared to 1080p, which had been the de facto standard for a long, long time. The 970 and 980 both choked on 4K. The 980 Ti could manage it acceptably (and with a few image quality compromises) in some games, but was still overall more of a 1440p card. Even the 1080 wasn't really up to scratch. The benchmarks seen so far for the 1080 Ti show something that looks much more like an actual single-card 4K gaming solution (even though getting there fully will probably have to wait for Volta).

Then there's VR, which benefits from being able to hold very high framerates (while outputting more than one image) to counter-act motion sickness.

Comment Re:WTF ? (Score 1) 51

I... rather suspect that you are mixing up which card you have. Either that, or you have an "Nvidya G-Forks 1080Ti" with a suspicious amount of Chinese script on the packaging and curiously disappointing performance.

The GTX 1080 was launched in May 2016. The Titan X (Pascal) in August 2016. You might also be thinking of the lower-end GTX 1050 Ti, which launched in October 2016.

Comment Faster than the Titan... (Score 5, Interesting) 51

The "faster than a Titan" thing has been causing a bit of angst. The early reviews and benchmarks do indeed show that the 1080 Ti outperforms the Titan X (Pascal) in many cases. It's not universal; some games and benchmarks still favour the Titan by a tiny margin, but those are a minority.

But the sheer price of the Titan X (which was unprecedented in the Pascal series) has driven a lot of extra discontent this time around, especially as the 1080 Ti came out with a lower price than a lot of observers had been expecting (there were confident predictions from usually-reliable sources that it would be $200 north of where it actually landed). If you need a bit more salt in your diet, take a look at some of the threads over on the Nvidia forums today from disgruntled Titan X owners.

This is, however, pretty much par for the course in the high-end PC game and it's not as though Nvidia haven't slipped into a predictable cycle over their last few generations (at least since the 700-series) that makes clear how things work. If you want to buy a card that is "top of the range", you've basically got three options:

1) Buy the *80 card that arrives with the first wave of consumer cards in each generation. You will get a few months at the top of the tree, until the release of the (massively more expensive) Titan. This is always the cheapest of the three options, but also the most time-limited.

2) Buy the Titan that comes out a few months after the *80. This will have an absurd price tag - often twice that of the *80. It will be the fastest thing around for, in general, 6-9 months, and even then, the next card may only match it rather than beating it.

3) Buy the *80 Ti that comes out 6-9 months after the Titan. This will generally give you framerates in most games in the +/- 3% range of the Titan, but for a price much closer to the *80. This will hold its place at the top for anywhere from 9 to 15 months, until the release of the next generation of cards. In the next generation, the *80 will outperform the last generation *80 Ti and the *70 will offer broadly comparable (maybe slightly better) performance for around half the price.

I've been going for the *80 Ti route for a while now, on the grounds that the price/performance ratio tends to hold up better over time. I'm seeing complaints at the moment from people who bought a Titan within the last few weeks, which is just bizarre. The 1080 Ti has been known to be close to release since January, so why anybody would take the plunge on a Titan at $1200 under those circumstances is beyond me.

I'm working from home today and waiting for my 1080 Ti to be delivered. I wish I could say I'm not bouncing up and down in my chair going "SQUEEEEEE!!!" like a 12 year old girl at a One Direction concert, but I'm not sure how convincingly I could make that case.

Comment Re:Dead pixels normal... in 2001. (Score 5, Informative) 241

I bought a Switch at launch, more out of curiousity than anything else. The story of the platform across the board is "handful of nice ideas let down by corner-cutting and failure to comprehend basic design lessons".

I haven't personally experienced the most serious issues with the device. That's to say, I have no dead pixels. I do not, under normal circumstances, have the wireless interference problems that is causing the joycons (particularly the left one) to lose synchronisation (though I can replicate them if I try, by switching on more devices). Nor have I yet scratched the screen putting the thing into and out of its dock.

That said, there are some design decisions around the Switch that scream "cheap", some which scream "incompetent" and some which scream both. For a relatively pricey piece of hardware, that's not really acceptable. Let's leave aside for the moment the crap Bluetooth transmission from the joycons and the dead pixels; here are some of the smaller quality-of-life issues with the Switch that should not be an issue in 2017:

- The size of the joycon controllers is way too small for the average Western hand (and certainly for a good proportion of adult males). The shape of the thing provides relatively little support to the hand and, whether it is held on its own or in the grip, encourages a cramped hand posture. This is really, really bad for your hands.

- When the unit is used in handheld mode with the joycons attached, the impacts on hand posture are arguably even worse. The device is reasonably large and, while I wouldn't describe it as heavy, nor is it particularly light. Your hands are supporting a noticeable degree of weight here. But the design of the joycons and the manner in which they attach to the main unit means that you end up crabbing your hands if you want to both hold the unit up and reach the control inputs. Unlike the Wii-U Gamepad and the Vita (both of which were by no means perfect in this respect), there is no grip at the back to allow you to distribute some of the weight more evenly around your hands or improve hand posture. It's worst for your right hand, where the location of the right analogue stick at the bottom of the unit means that you are essentially going to end up holding up that end of the unit by "pinching" it near the bottom.

- The layout of buttons on the joycons is terrible. The + and - buttons are located, for some bizarre reason, "above" the analogue sticks. This means you need a large thumb movement to reach them, which is both uncomfortable and likely to result in an accidental button-press or analogue stick input.

- The charging point's location on the bottom of the main unit means that it is awkward to support the weight of the unit on a table while using it in handheld mode. It also means you can't charge it while using the built-in stand.

- The built-in stand is a cheap, nasty and fragile plastic flap, barely capable of staying upright. Many people are already reporting this has snapped off or failed.

- The cartridge slot cover feels flimsy and fragile. I haven't yet seen reports of these snapping off, but I wouldn't be surprised to. The Vita had the same problem here.

- The dock unit you use to connect the thing to the TV has a cheap and nasty plastic feel. There are numerous reports that the version of the dock shipped with retail units is lower than that which was seen on preview units used for demonstrations and sent out for review purposes (though I haven't seen a preview unit myself yet, so cannot confirm this). Certainly, it is a loose and wobbly fit for the console on retail units and there are many reports of the dock scratching the main-unit's screen.

- The process of attaching/detaching the joycons is a bit fiddlier, and requires a bit more force, than had commonly been assumed.

- It is easily possible to put the joycons on the grip unit the wrong way around. What is rather less possible is getting them off again (at least without a very large degree of force) after you've done so.

- The console only ships with one mains charger. When the console is docked, this needs to be routed through the dock. When it's detached, it needs to go into the bottom of the console. Removing the charger from the dock unit requires, for no good reason that anybody can discern, opening a flap on the back of the dock, which is a pain and, depending on positioning, potentially involves tangling in your Big Mess Of Cables behind the TV more than is convenient. It feels like a ploy to sell the "official" extra charger, which is sold with a huge mark-up. People have had mixed results with third party chargers.

In short, there are a huge mass of ergonomic, design and convenience problems with the unit, mostly stemming from problems that everybody else has long since solved by 2017.

The fact that the hardware is being sold at what looks like a large mark-up (with every possible corner cut on cost) implies that contrary to their rhetoric, Nintendo do not expect a significant third-party ecosystem. This is a console targeting direct profit from sales, not the licensing fees that make up a large portion of the income for Sony and MS's gaming divisions (and almost all of Valve's).

Comment Re:waste of money (Score 1) 117

The Gamecube controller was absolutely awful. The right analogue stick was an abortion... a hideous shrivelled nipple which was of no use whatsoever in-game.

I kinda get what they were going for, with the face buttons. Until the PS2/Gamecube/Xbox generation, there tended to be one controller button that was used more than the others, so why not make it bigger. Unfortunately, they did that just as console games were getting more sophisticated and button usage was getting more evenly spread. So they ended up with a godawful controller where accidental button presses were the norm.

Also, the cable was about 3 inches long. They had this weird, fucked up idea that people played console games sat in a ring on the floor around the TV. The cable just wasn't long enough to reach to the average sofa.

I would personally rate the Gamecube controller as one of the worst ever made. The N64 and Dreamcast ones also had their woes, but the Cube one was just nasty.

Comment Re:waste of money (Score 2, Informative) 117

Meh, it's a bit of a mixed bag. I've found a few things to like about it; the screen is good quality (first time for that on a Nintendo handheld device). The UI is pleasant and functional (compare and contrast with the XB1's). Plus, Nintendo finally step into the 21st century by abandoning region locks and the whole "multi region account switching" thing is pretty easy, which is nice.

But there is also a lot wrong with it, and I'd be lying if I said I don't have a bit of buyer's remorse. The ergonomics are bloody awful unless you have the pro controller. The joycons are so tiddly they must have been designed for toddlers or Trump. The locations of buttons on them, particularly the + and - buttons, makes accidental inputs inevitable. Worse, when holding the thing in handheld mode with the joycons attached, the shape and layout puts stress on all the wrong parts of your hands. In the long term, this thing is an express ticket to RSI-town. Nintendo have forgotten or ignored some basic design and ergonomic principles that everybody else has known about for years.

The pro controller is mostly fine, other than the lack of analogue shoulder triggers, which will screw things up a bit for certain genres (particularly driving games). It's expensive, though, and given the low quality of the joycons, it really should have been a pack-in.

There are a few other niggles with the hardware as well. The little stand on the back for use when the thing is undocked is nasty and flimsy, The cover for the cartridge slot feels like it is going to be very easy to snap off (also a problem with the Vita). The location of the charger port on both the unit itself and the docking station seems to have been designed for maximum inconvenience. Oh, and the undocked battery life is absolutely terrible.

I haven't experienced the joycon sync issues that have been plaguing some people during normal use, but I can replicate them if I switch on a couple of my other consoles and create a bit of wireless interference.

I'm also now seeing reports that the build quality of the docking station and its "fit" with the main console unit is of lower quality than in the pre-release demonstration units. Not sure whether that's true - although it is definitely true that the fit is loose and wobbly on mine - but if it is, it feels like pretty sharp practice.

Comment Re:This card is basically their former 1199$ card (Score 3, Interesting) 151

Everything about this screams "rob Vega of its momentum". Judging by the price and specs, this is probably only slightly above "loss leader" territory.

Another example of competition being good for the end-users. The first round of high-end Pascal cards (1070/1080/Titan) frankly looked a bit over-priced relative to their performance increase over the previous generation, but then AMD just didn't have a viable high-end offering at the time. I'd struggle to persuade myself to buy an AMD card after previous driver woes with them, but I'm relieved to see them looking like they're about to get back into the game.

Comment Re:$700 GTFO (Score 4, Insightful) 151

I'll be buying one. First in the queue.

But then I'm a well-paid professional whose main hobby is gaming and who can afford to splash out on something like this once in a while, while still paying the mortgage, racking up savings etc. I like having all the latest bells and whistles. If I'm going to spend a good chunk of my leisure time doing something, I'd like to do it well.

Gaming can be an expensive hobby, sure. But so can lots of other hobbies. Guy I've known since my late teens is seriously into mountaineering. He got pretty rich during his 20s (combination of being smart, hardworking and in the right place at the right time) then downshifted into a job with an employer who was fine with him taking big chunks of time off. In previous years, he's vanished for 2-3 month chunks of time to Alaska and the Andes. Later this year, he'll be doing his first Himalayan trip. All-inclusive cost for that trip alone is close to $100k (which, given he's British like me, is rather more money than it used to be since Brexit). All of which is to spend a few months cold and miserable in a tent, with no guarantee of a successful summit and a non-trivial chance of dying. Not my cup of tea at all. But that's what he likes to do and he has the money to do it, so frankly it's his business (and his stories are fun, in a hair-raising way).

Even leaving the more extreme hobbies aside, lots of people still sink sums into fairly normal activities that are not out of line with what I spend on gaming. My dad's a golfer and, between membership fees, trips, new clubs, training sessions and all of the assorted gadgets that seem to go with the sport, he likely racks up more on that than I do on gaming. But that's fine; he can afford it without making stupid compromises elsewhere in his life

Cars? I'm friends with a petrolhead at work who spends a fortune on them (his own estimate to me was £10,000 per annum on average, albeit with peaks and troughs), despite the fact that other than a track day every couple of months, his latest road-going rally-monster spends most of its time on supermarket runs. Good god, I know cyclists (the pedal kind, not the motorised kind) who spend more on their bikes than I spend on my PC.

Short version; what adults do with their own disposable income is their own business, provided they aren't inconveniencing anybody else with it. Different things will appeal to different people.

Comment Re:Professional accoutant (Score 1) 369

Are you kidding?

I'm already seeing junior-level accountant positions replaced by software. The sophistication isn't quite there yet to take out the next step up in the food-chain, but it's probably only a matter of a year or two at most. Now, accountancy is a broad profession and there are undoubtedly sub-sets which will hold out for considerably longer, but I'd have put accountancy right at the top of the list of white-collar professions at risk from automation.

Lawyers are probably second placed. Forget the courtroom dramas; an awful lot of what your average lawyer does on a day to day basis is highly subject to automation.

Comment Are Denuvo really that bad? (Score 2, Interesting) 77

Denuvo have become a popular company to hate recently. There are long-standing complaints that their DRM "harms performance" in the games that use it. The time-to-crack on some of the more recent Denuvo-protected releases has been down to around a week or so, which is a big reduction from the "several months" they could boast a year ago. They can also come over as a bit cocky in their public messaging at times.

And yet... are they really that bad? The war against DRM in PC gaming at the conceptual level was lost years ago, the moment consumers (self included) decided that the convenience of Steam and its equivalents (and the general reduction in game prices that came with them) outweighed concerns about ownership and digital rights. There have been battles since then, to be sure, but those have generally been over the extent to which DRM inconveniences legitimate consumers.

So we had (fairly successful) protests against Spore, which limited the number of installs possible from a single key (a practice which is more or less dead now). There is continuing pushback over the inclusion of always-on DRM in games which don't require it, which looks like it still has some way to run. We've had outcries, again generally successful, against DRM schemes which compromise the security of PCs they are run on (see the recent additional of such DRM to Street Fighter V and its subsequent removal).

But Denuvo doesn't really do any of these things. From the end-users point of view, provided they have a legitimate copy of the game, it is pretty much invisible. The rumours of it having a performance impact persist, but when credible sources like Eurogamer's Digital Foundry have investigated, they've never been able to substantiate them. In many cases, Denuvo appear to have become the scapegoat for poorly optimised PC ports.

PC gaming is actually in quite a good place right now. Most major releases find their way to PC; considerably more than did so 5 or even 10 years ago. Previously console-only developers have realised that they can expand their market for relatively little effort by producing a PC port. This has gone hand-in-hand with a general improvement in the quality of DRM, which appears (though I'll admit the link is not validated) to have deterred at least casual pirates (accepting that the hardcore will likely never be deterred). If DRM is here to stay, I would much prefer Denuvo to some of the alternatives.

Comment Re:Always assumed (Score 2) 45

I don't think that's likely to be the case with the PS4. You can already remove the hard drive from the machine pretty easily (and replacing the hard drive is an officially authorised modification that doesn't void your warranty). PS4 hard drives, like PS3 hard drives before them, use an encrypted structure that locks content to the console in question. I'm guessing there will be a requirement to format any external hard drives used in the same way.

This, incidentally, means it is really important to keep backups (cloud or USB stick) of your PS3/PS4 saves. If your console fails, you will not just be able to stick the drive from it into a replacement console or a PC and get the data off it. Happened to me with my old PS3. Lost five years worth of savegame data.

Comment Re:I'd agree (Score 4, Informative) 231

Same here, to be honest. AVG became unusable due to bloat a couple of years ago. Avast can have some serious issues when presented with a combination of Windows 10 with Anniversary Update and a Skylake CPU. The remainder all seem to be as bad as much of the malware they ostensibly protect you from.

I confess I spent a while feeling paranoid after I finally gave in and uninstalled Avast, but a few months on, I've had no problems with a combination of Windows Defender and a weekly Malwarebytes scan.

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