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Comment Re:Apple Tried This Before... (Score 1) 524

I credit Apple with killing the floppy drive

Oh, puh-leez, not this mouldy old chestnut.

The 3.5" floppy format was already inconveniently small for most uses by the late 90s- the typical PC hard drive around that time was several gigabytes- and any viable replacement was likely to take off as soon as it reached a comparable price, regardless of what Apple did.

Flash pen drives didn't get to that point until several years later, and even writable optical drives which- while getting rapidly cheaper by the late 90s- still cost enough more than the read-only equivalent that the first-generation iMac only included a CD-ROM.

The idea that everyone would share files entirely using the Internet in the days when that meant dial-up and it was far enough from universal that relying on it to exchange files with others would be a problem? Not practical in the real world.

Simple fact is that Apple did the easy part of ditching the floppy, but *didn't* bother to include a proper replacement because they knew damn well it couldn't be done without increasing the price. Why do you think virtually every first-generation iMac you saw had a colour-matched external floppy drive hanging off the side?!

So, no. I don't think they deserve credit for killing the floppy at all. It died when it would have done, regardless.

Comment Re:Preferred him in "The Adventures of Quik & (Score 1) 45

Neither of those games feature Sonic or were created by anyone who had anything to do with Sonic.

Aside from the fact my original comment was very obviously tongue-in-cheek- no, I don't seriously consider those to be "Sonic" games(!)- it's still quite clear in both cases that the character is meant to be Sonic.

The first one is an official Sega release and it looks *really* like him, the second obviously isn't, but- as the video points out- given the ripping off of other mascots, it's quite clear that they've copied Sonic. (Granted, he doesn't move much like the real Sonic, but it's quite possible they hadn't even seen the original game at that point).

FWIW, the video is undeniably padded and a bit longer than it should be- as, to be fair, a lot of YouTube videos are- but it's still an interesting piece of video game history. (The background stuff on the company and game development is (ironically) probably more interesting to those of us who had an Amiga than Mega Drive owners).

Comment Re:Writers decide who a character is (Score 1) 354

You are confusing actors with writers. Writers decide who a character is and what they are about. Actors implement the writer's vision, actors communicate that vision through their performance.

It's true that actors don't "own" the character and often get too much credit for work on the part of the writers.

Still, your vision and understanding of actors as being mere conduits for the writer's work suggests an overly literal view of this sort of thing as an engineering-style process, rather than one with the blurred lines which often exist in reality.

Blurred lines such as the actor feeding back aspects of his performance and opinion to the writers and directors (#), longstanding actors' portrayal forming how the character develops, and so on.

(#) Famous geek example; Rutger Hauer's "Time to die" speech in Blade Runner.

Comment Re:Sulu is George's character (Score 2) 354

George is NOT Sulu. The creator of Star Trek created Sulu. Just because George played a great Sulu, he does not define the character. Strange how a homosexual character doesn't want his seemingly open homosexual character portrayed as such.

The point is that Sulu *wasn't* portrayed as homosexual until now; quite the opposite, as Takei says, he was portrayed as heterosexual.

I'm sure the move to make him gay was well intended, and even originally a tribute to Takei, but that's the problem. My first thought was, "Oh, they're making Sulu gay because Takei happened to be gay". It was just too obvious.

This falls into the longstanding trap of equating the actor's sexuality with that of the character. No-one assumes that Anthony Hopkins is a flesh-eating serial killer even though he portrayed one on film. Granted, being able to be openly gay at all is an improvement on the Bad Old Days when it would have destroyed someone's career, but it's still artificially limiting to suggest that gay actor => gay character.

Also, heterosexual characters often don't have a deal made of their sexuality if it's not part of the plot; the same should apply to those that aren't.

I don't think that Takei has a monopoly on Sulu merely because he originally played him, but he was involved with Roddenberry, and is still strongly associated with the character. The fact is that they originally tried to get him involved- even if it's likely they expected his approval- so one can't complain that Takei doesn't have the right to speak here.

Comment Re:of course (Score 1) 251

Yes, he's been broadcasting for years and years and he's always been annoying.

He seemed to be reasonably likeable in his early career; first as the presenter of The Big Breakfast in the early 1990s, followed by the short-lived Don't Forget Your Toothbrush.

But something happened between "Toothbrush" and TFI Friday because he seemed to become very dislikeable to me at that point. Hard to say why, but I think there was a subtle but obvious shift from him giving the impression that he was having fun and doing indulgent things for the viewer's (vicarious) enjoyment to giving the impression that the whole thing revolved around Him.

This was shortly before his reputation for egotistical and diva-like behaviour (e.g. not bothering to turn up for presenting duties on his radio show, getting other people to do TFI, etc. etc.) started getting into the press.

To be fair, not everything I've heard about him has been bad, and some reports in recent years have led me to revise my opinion. OTOH, some of the news reports about Top Gear suggest the egocentric, diva-like behaviour is still in play. Though to be fair, he at least came across quite well when he announced his resignation.

Comment Re:of course (Score 0) 251

And there is a reason why pretty much nobody remembers the last two.

Really? Yeah, I'm sure there are quite a few people who don't "remember" them and that's because it was 15+ years ago and a lot of the current fanboys wouldn't have been old enough to even be even watching then.

Anyone who actually watched Top Gear at the time would certainly remember Quentin Wilson and Tiff Needell.

(Pre-emption of snide comments about all three viewers or something; as I commented elsewhere at its peak in the mid-to-late 90s it was a very popular programme by ordinary standards- to the extent it got its own spin-off magazine- and made Clarkson into a well-known personality).

Comment Re:of course (Score 0) 251

One other thing- in hindsight it's also clear that Clarkson was more palatable on the old Top Gear because you got him in smaller doses. He was just one of a team of presenters and didn't appear on every bloody item; much better balanced. It wasn't All Clarkson, All The Time. It wasn't *about* Professional MegaBoor Clarkson (TM) And His Laddish Chums.

But then, as I said above, despite the similarity in name and nominal subject matter, the two incarnations are fundmentally different, so it's probably meaningless to compare them.

(#) Footnote that I meant to include in parent comment; Yes, I do give a lot of credit to this. I've seen clips of some early Top Gear from the late-1970s with Noel Edmonds (FFS) and it's needlessly slow, dry and tedious. Being factual doesn't mean you have to be *that* boring.

Comment Re:of course (Score 2, Interesting) 251

Clarkson,Wilson and Needell. But that was when it was about cars.


It's easy to forget now, but the "old" Top Gear was itself pretty successful in its 90s heyday. Not to the extent that people banged on and on and on and on about it to the tedious extent they do with the post-2003 version. But still a well-known touchstone of 1990s television that was responsible for making Clarkson popular in the first place and strongly associated with him.

It feels strange to say in hindsight (given that nowadays it's clear that Clarkson is the epitome of the boorish, tedious, right-wing, middle-aged, Middle English tosser), but I actually enjoyed him during his time on the original show, possibly because he was actually doing his ******* job of reviewing cars in an entertaining manner. In fact, he was a good presenter on the other stuff I saw him in (admittedly car-related shows he'd obviously got because of his Top Gear fame). I'd even say Top Gear lost something when he left. (Along with some other changes, I clearly remember enjoying it less in the year or two running up to its cancellation).

Problem was that by the time he'd come back for the 2003 relaunch, he'd gone from being a presenter who said non-PC things that were often pretty amusing- such as the infamous "good enough to snap knicker elastic at 50 paces" description of one car- to someone whose defining characteristic was Professional Non-PC Merchant. Not in the service of being amusing, but for its own sake. And Clarkson was famous enough by this point that it was now about him; you can't watch him as a presenter any more because he isn't.

This brings me to the most fundamental difference in the relaunched show (even more so than the format change). Old Top Gear was a factual magazine show about cars that was presented in an entertaining manner. (#) The new Top Gear was- and is- an entertainment show that happens to revolve around cars, quite happy to sideline or twist any secondary factual aspects if it gets in the way of some stuffed shirt getting vicarious thrills or amusement through The Clarkson and His Two Mates in Car Porn Hijinks Show before he returns to work in his Vauxhall Astra the following day.

A lot of people obviously enjoy this- good for them. I don't have any time for it personally.

Comment Re:Not necessarily bad (Score 3, Interesting) 120

It could be an interesting idea in linguistics and data mining to identify potential workplace threats and troubled workers.

Being an "interesting" idea from an intellectual point of view says absolutely *nothing* about whether it's a good idea or not.

There shouldn't be an expectation of privacy in workplace emails. If you want that, use a private account to discuss things.

Okay; the fact you're expressing that pat response here suggests that you don't understand (or weren't paying attention to) the difference between this and the typical (straightforward) "employers are reading my workplace email" thread. I actually wonder whether you even got the point of the story at all.

This isn't spying on people directly expressing hostile or subversive thoughts against the company, this is using it on (potentially) superficially work-related and neutral email content to determine the underlying psychological attitude of the employee.

Given that the employee is probably *required* to use email in this manner as part of their job, and given that this isn't something they're likely to be consciously doing (else they'd avoid doing it, duh) it's not as if they have a choice in the matter.

Whether this is good or bad comes down to how you react to an alert.

The issue here- and the reason most people quite rightly expressed the (supposedly) "kneejerk" reaction you dismiss- is that they already know based on past experience how large corporations or similar entities- i.e. the people likely to be buying this technology- will probably use this sort of power.

For genuinely troubled employees, however, this might actually be useful if it leads to a confidential meeting with a third party or ombudsman who tries to help the employee.

Yeah, because large US-style corporations are well-known for protecting employees with problems and won't simply use this as an early warning on someone they can get rid of before they become a problem. Or might not have, but why take the chance?

I saw the example in the story. A nice, touchy-feely way to justify an intrusive technology, but let's get real here.

If it's used to actually help troubled employers who might not reach out for help on their own, it could actually help people while protecting the company. If used properly, it's a good thing.

The question is, how likely to you think it is to be used "properly" in your sense of the word?

Your problem is that you seem to view the technology in a purely abstract sense- i.e. one that could theoretically be used for good or bad. Well, theoretically it could be, yes.

However, your so-called "tinfoil hat crowd" knows damn well that such technologies don't exist in isolation, know what type of people it's been designed for, and the type of people and organisations it's likely to be sold to. Based on past experience, it's not unreasonable to draw such conclusions on how it's likely to be used.

So, you can keep expressing your (repeated) dismissal of its critics as "paranoid delusional", but that doesn't make your counter-argument any stronger.

Comment Re:Nougat - meh (Score 1) 115

I've never tried Hershey's chocolate, but I've heard a lot of people from the United Kingdom really don't like the flavour.

There are a number of explanations, most of which do involve butyric acid as Threni has already mentioned. Specifically:-

Another key difference between US and UK chocolate is that much US chocolate uses milk that has undergone lipolysis, a process that partially breaks down the fatty acids in milk. This is another historical anomaly in the evolution of chocolate production. In the early 20th century, the process of partially souring milk through lipolysis was used to stabilize milk chocolate, as the resulting milk chocolate could be stored for longer periods of time before its taste changed for the worse. [..] The advantage of the process is that further breakdown of fats in milk is slowed, and subsequent fermentation is reduced. The "milk" taste also lasts longer, before either fading or turning into bad-tasting compounds. The down-side is that the process releases butyric acid [my emphasis], one of the fatty acids present in milk. Butyric acid is the fat component responsible for the smell of parmesan cheese and baby vomit.

See also this article or Google American chocolate butyric.

In short, US production techniques improve the long life stability at the expense of producing compounds that- to those not used to them- smell like baby sick et al, but to those brought up on baby-sick-flavoured-"chocolate" since childhood probably seems normal.

I guess I was lucky when I tried some imported Reese's peanut butter "Christmas tree" confectionery, and the "chocolate" coating- can't even remember for sure if it was "chocolate" (by the US definition of the word!) or "chocolate flavor"- merely tasted like sweetened wax.

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