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Comment Netbooks are more popular than ever now! (Score 2, Interesting) 336

The conceptual purpose of a netbook is to be an extremely portable computer with good battery life that's primarily used for web browsing and media consumption, with just enough internal storage to serve as a local cache of data from the internet. They exploded in popularity when Steve Jobs figured out that touchscreens were better input devices than keyboards for that use case.

Comment 3D movies were never more than a Trojan horse (Score 5, Interesting) 436

...to force theaters to switch to digital projectors, and pay for it themselves. Digital distribution is orders of magnitude cheaper than 35mm film distribution, which is why the studios wanted the change. They could say to small independent theaters, "We're not sending you 35mm prints any more, so you better switch or you'll go out of business." But the MPAA needs the big chains like AMC and Regal as much as AMC and Regal need the MPAA. If AMC stops showing Universal's movies, AMC goes out of business, but so does Universal. There were originally negotiations about sharing the cost of the equipment rollout, but no agreement was ever reached. So the studios started making boatloads of 3D movies and hyping them to death so audiences would demand the change. Audiences are starting to catch on that it's just a gimmick, but it's done its job. Most theaters are digital now and the last few exceptions will be switching within the next year or so. And the studios didn't have to contribute a dime.

Comment Re:Green Party (Score 1) 707

A hell of a lot of Obama's broken promises are due to the most obstructionist Congress in history. But the ACA was passed when Democrats had a majority in both houses, Congress has very little say in the DEA's policies and none in their priorities, and there was never any attempt to close Gitmo for Congress or the DOD to obstruct. Those three things really are Obama's fault. As is the fact that FOIA compliance is even worse than it was under Bush. As is the deliberate decision not to prosecute the literal criminals who caused the financial collapse or the literal traitors who started a war with Iraq on false pretenses. As is the fact that he has never acknowledged the existence of the Occupy movement. As is the fact that every response to whitehouse.gov petitions has been blind support of the status quo. As is the circle-the-wagons, shoot-the-messenger response to Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Wikileaks.

I live in Ohio, so I still voted for him without hesitation, but the image he presented of himself four years ago as a once in a generation world changing reformer was an outright lie. Not something he honestly but unrealistically aspired to be, a lie as deliberate and calculated as any of Romney's various contradictory versions of himself. The moderate left's defense of him is almost as delusionally counterfactual as the far right's criticism of him. He's a competent but unremarkable business as usual centrist.

Comment Zermelo-Fraenkel-Cthulhu set theory (Score 5, Interesting) 179

Back in college, a friend and I were trying to figure out what could possibly make people go mad from the mere sight of Cthulhu. We decided it must have uncountably infinitely many tentacles. A mere countable infinity of tentacles could be visually comprehensible, so long as each one is half the size of its predecessor, or if they were arranged in a fractal tree structure of tentacles upon tentacles. But uncountably many tentacles would drive you insane at first sight.

Comment Re:whereas... (Score 2, Informative) 119

He faced a situation where he judged the consequences of breaking his oath to be less onerous than the consequences of keeping it. That's not relativism (as opposed to absolutism), it's act utilitarianism (as opposed to rule utilitarianism).

If you are defending rule utilitarianism, you are defending the Nazi soldiers who were just following orders when they murdered six million Jewish civilians.

If you are defending rule utilitarianism, you are condemning every whistleblower who has ever broken an oath, violated an NDA, or betrayed the trust of a personal friend to blow the whistle--which is all of them.

Comment It's the karaoke version of theatre (Score 2) 197

Instead of unrehearsed singing for your own entertainment, you're writing and acting out an unrehearsed dramatic or comedic story for your own entertainment. The DM is the director, the players are actors, and they all collaborate as writers.

But rather than explaining what it is to someone, just have them tag along. Bring a book in case they get bored, but they might just want to join in next time.

Comment Re:Ugh. (Score 1) 301

Given that the test included only 44 beers and the article lists a number of megacorporation-owned large-batch beers, all of which are lagers rather than ales, I would guess that it was exclusively a test OF megacorporation-owned large-batch lagers. While I can personally verify that Europe's cheapo macrobrews are much better than our American cheapo macrobrews, it's still a bit of a stretch to call the winner of that competition "one of the best beers in Europe." Hell, calling it the 44th-worst beer is probably closer to accurate.

Comment Re:Also (Score 1) 865

The MPAA can bully small independent theaters like that. I'd be surprised if they weren't. But too much of their revenue comes from AMC, Regal, Century, and the other megachains for them to make changes that big and expensive by fiat. It'd be like a wholesaler trying to make demands of Walmart. Their realistic choices were to help pay for the transition (which was discussed, but I don't know to what extent it's actually happening) or to create audience demand.

Comment Re:Also (Score 5, Informative) 865

I'm a projectionist at a 24-screen theater that's about half 35mm, half digital. What I'm about to say, I know first-hand to be factual:

The industry's push for 3D is the ONLY reason you have the choice of 2D digital projection at all. Digital projectors are orders of magnitude more expensive, less reliable, and more labor-intensive to operate and maintain than 35mm projectors--even in areas where a single theater chain's monopoly means they don't have to be replaced with newer models every few years. But the studios love them because it is cheaper to ship 5-pound USB hard drives than 50-pound 35mm prints to theaters.

So, the MPAA announced about seven or eight years ago that they were going to start making a lot of 3D films, meaning theaters had to install digital projectors capable of playing them. For the first few years, until approximately 2007, most theaters only had one or two digital projectors, so 3D films were only released at a rate of one every four to six months. The rest of the time, those few digital projectors showed 2D movies. Once it was clear that audiences would actually pay for 3D, the MPAA started ramping up production and speeding up the release cycle to force theaters to convert more and more auditoriums to digital. Today, there are always at least two or three different 3D movies in wide release at a time. So if the theaters near you don't have very many digital screens, most of them will be taken up by 3D films most of the time. I'm sure this is the source of your misconception--a higher percentage of digital showtimes were 2D in the early days of digital, so it's perfectly reasonable to guess that 2D digital is being displaced by the 3D fad. But the phenomenon is really nothing more than an accidental side-effect of theaters trying to stay a step ahead of audience and studio demand for 3D.

In ten years or so, digital will be dominant enough that studios will be able to stop 35mm distribution entirely. No longer needing 3D to be a Trojan horse for cheap digital distribution, the fad will simply die down with no fanfare or public explanation, and you'll have your ubiquitous digital 2D. But make no mistake--if not for the 3D push, digital projectors would be a novelty item, only in huge, popular multiplexes in NYC and LA, and even there only on one or two screens.

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