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Comment Re:Congratulations Sony! (Score 1) 60

Most of the consoles on that list reached end-of-life some time ago. The PS4 is still in the middle of its lifespan and, with the PS4 Pro just launched, is likely to remain live for quite some time.

In terms of sales trajectory, which makes for better comparisons, the PS4 was tracking broadly equal with the Wii (the previous record holder at the 3-year point, though it also flatlined not long after that) until Sony announced the PS4 Pro earlier in the year. That dropped their trajectory a bit, as people who had been planning to buy a PS4 over the summer deferred their purchase until the Pro was available.

There's still every chance that the PS4 will eventually hold the number 1 spot. Cheaper hardware and a larger (and cheaper) games library means that console sales traditionally hold strong through the mid and late parts of the cycle. At the 3 year point, the PS2 was still at 70 million sales and, as recorded by your own link, it would eventually go on to sell around 155 million.

Comment Bit of fact checking needed here (Score 4, Insightful) 114

The quotation in the CNBC report here is just a little bit disingenuous. "The Xbox and PS2 were two of the most popular consoles ever" is 50% true; with an estimated 155m units sold, the PS2 does indeed sit at the top of the pile for home-consoles (though the Nintendo DS handheld roughly level-pegs it). The Xbox, however, with sales in around the 24 million range, is very much in "also ran" territory.

It wasn't a failure by any means. It was a toe in the door for Microsoft and it did eventually beat out the Gamecube in the battle for second-place on units sold among the 6th generation consoles. But attempting to lend credibility to an argument by claiming that views are from one of the creators of "one of the most successful consoles ever" when said console was the original Xbox is simply misleading.

And as for the content of TFA... the case for VR in gaming is not yet proven. Sales of consumer VR units are ok but not spectacular and are showing some signs of diminishing now the launch-hype is over. Perhaps more importantly, there has yet to be a game that really makes the case for VR as anything other than a tech demo. A range of factors, including problems with using the headsets for an extended period and, most importantly, control problems mean that nobody has yet produced a really great VR game (Elite: Dangerous is almost certainly the most successful, but that's a fairly niche product). For the most part, VR experiences to date have fallen into one of three categories:

a) the pretty but shallow glorified tech-demo
b) the cut-down version of an existing game (e.g. Driveclub VR)
c) The existing pre-VR game which has had VR support added

Last generation's fad, motion controls, eventually faltered after people realised that they just weren't as good as regular controls for actually playing games. Nobody was ever going to be chosing to play through a Dragon Age or a Call of Duty using motion controls and, after the novelty wore off, people went back to their controllers or mouse/keyboard combos. If VR is to avoid the same trap, its best hope comes from my category c) above; but so far, that's only been made to even remotely work in the driving and space-combat genres, both of which are niche.

Comment Twitter's format is a big part of the problem (Score 5, Interesting) 427

Twitter itself is a huge part of the problem in the coarsening of political debate. The emphasis on short, snappy "soundbite" statements and the e-peen benefits of being retweeted serve as powerful incentives for people to forgo civility and mean that the most extreme voices, whatever their persuasion, get the most prominence.

When you are trying to fit your thoughts into a character limit, what kind of clauses are you going to cut? How about:

"I see your point, but have you considered..."
"I understand why some people are attracted to that argument, but..."
"I know there are exceptions to this rule..."
"I might be oversimplifying here..."
"This is purely anecdotal, but..."

Twitter is a remarkably effective tool for stripping conversations of all of the little niceties, qualifications and acknowledgements that keep things civil. It's a platform for thumping certainties, hysterical over-reactions and wanton attention-seeking. I've known rational, well-spoken people, often well-regarded in their professional fields, who turn into flaming morons on Twitter.

It's not a problem of Twitter's moderation policies or editorial stances, but rather a fundamental problem with the medium. Being mischievous, maybe 140 characters should be the minimum rather than the limit.

Comment Re:Ita about time! (Score 1) 230

For those not familiar with the UK context, I'd point out that an Employment Tribunal is a first-line body. I would eat my hat if this decision isn't appealed and the higher courts do have a long track record of overturning Employment Tribunal decisions.

Don't assume this one is settled.

Comment Re:What with this size thing Sony? (Score 1) 71

The Wii was an odd beast and I suspect the wider industry is right not to emulate it. At the time of its launch, the Wii was supported by a particular press and publicity zeitgeist that gave it a big advantage over two rivals who appeared desperate to shoot themselves in their feet (MS with the RROD fiasco, Sony with the PS3's price-tag). It also had a quickly-grasped concept that appealed to a lot of people who didn't usually play games.

The problem is, while the Wii made some super-profits in the first 2-3 years, its success turned out not to be sustainable. The second half of its active lifespan was pretty miserable for Nintendo, as hardware sales fell and game sales plummeted. The company fell to its first ever annual losses in the second half of the Wii's lifespan. The Wii's successor, the Wii-U, was a dead-duck pretty much from the moment it left the door and has only managed around 13 million units sold, making it Nintendo's lowest selling home console ever by quite some way. Poor hardware played a big role in that; people didn't want to jump to a new console that only really offered comparable performance with the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 at a time when those consoles were almost ready to be replaced.

Besides, Sony did ok out of the "we have bigger numbers" game with the PS4. Up to the point where the PS4 Pro was announced, which obviously impacted sales of the current hardware, they'd shipped more than 40 million consoles in just three and a half years on sale. That's decent going and those sales seem to have resumed again with the PS4 Pro available.

That said, I still don't disagree that the emphasis on specs is a bit of an own-goal in the longer term. Oddly, they've actually played somewhat into the revival of PC gaming; if you make the marketing battle all about specs, resolutions and framerates, then a console is only ever going to be able to take second place behind PC, and PC game-sales have revived sharply over the last few years, eating into the console manufacturer's revenue bases (the license fees from game sales, not hardware sales, are where the real profit is). I suspect the PS4 Pro and Xbox Scorpio are at least in part a reaction to that.

Comment Re:Fascinating .... (Score 1) 315

Or alternatively, Ecuador simply decided that Assange's political beliefs and ambitions no longer align with their own. Whatever you may think about Trump, he is not exactly preaching love and peace towards that particular part of the world.

If a regime offers you sanctuary because you are politically convenient for them, you really should ask yourself what happens the moment you become politically inconvenient.

Comment Re:Correlation to age (Score 2) 326

Sorry, I might not have been clear enough about what this scheme was and who was on it. To be clear, this was not "a few hours temporary work" for "experienced and qualified professionals". This was full time work, on a 6 month contract, for young people from "disadvantaged" backgrounds. What "disadvantaged" meant was "school drop-outs with chaotic lives and, in most cases, some incidences of minor criminal activity (though no theft or fraud)". The work paid reasonably well for entry-level work (as much as some of my graduate friends had in their first jobs).

It was, if I recall, 75% funded by the taxpayer; so effectively, 75% of the direct and indirect employment costs were not picked up by my employer. We met the remaining costs and, as part of the deal, agreed to offer permanent appointments to a reasonable number of people who had a satisfactory record at the end of their 6 months. We were participating in this in good faith and in the year I was acting as a mentor, we had a target to get a 50% retention rate.

In reality, across all three years, the retention rate was 0%. Not one person successfully completed 6 months and almost half didn't finish the first week. When they deigned to come into the office, they would generally describe their career aspirations as "professional footballer" or "rapper". A couple of the more honest ones would say "benefits", as this was in the days when you could more or less permanently stay on quite generous unemployment benefits in the UK (it's much harder these days). In so far as this was a distraction for looking for a "real job", the "real job" they were after was unemployment.

The Government funding for this particular scheme largely dried up before the 2010 election (as finding firms to participate got harder and harder).

Comment Correlation to age (Score 4, Interesting) 326

This is purely anecdotal, but my experience is that there isn't so much a generational correlation to work ethic as there is an age-based one. Which is to say, a person's work ethic can vary significantly over the course of their adult life.

What I've seen in my own workplace is new entrants (whether at graduate or non-graduate level) entering the organisation but generally (and of course there are outliers) without making a full commitment to it and, particularly in the case of graduate entrants, trying to keep their student lifestyle running for a few more years. Over time, usually by the late 20s, this transitions into a much stronger work ethic; more time spent in the office and more "commitment" to the organisation. Eventually, somewhere usually in the 50s, this lapses into a degree of burnout. Now, all of the above is a huge generalisation and based on personal experiences only, but I've seen a couple of generations go through that cycle now.

Of course, there's a far bigger correlation between work ethic and social class. Behaviours liked to worth ethic, such as the ability to focus on deferred reward have a strong hereditary component, whether based on biology, culture or both. Again, there are exceptions, but this is where I've seen the strongest correlation. In the mid-2000s (at the height of the UK's New Labour touchy-feely period) I worked for an employer which took part in a Government-subsidised scheme to give placements to "disadvantaged" young people. This was actually a pretty cushy detail; the pay for those brought in through the scheme wasn't huge, but it was significantly above the minimum wage (almost £10/hour) and the work was white-collar administrative. Moreover, there was an expectation in place that if you did well, you would be able to turn it into a full-time job (this was in the land of silly-money before the big crash, when the UK economy appeared to be in full boom). Hell, there wasn't even much of a dress code beyond "use your common sense and don't wear anything that would actively harm our reputation".

I was involved with this scheme for three consecutive years, once as a mentor and twice as one of the "lucky" managers "given" one of the apprentices (yes, there was a degree of corporate arm-twisting). Across all three years, with an intake of 8-10 people per year, not a single one stuck with it for more than 2 months. The simple basics of being expected to get into the office at a sane time (we had a flexitime-within-reason system), to come into the office every working day and to follow the instructions of a manager once in the office were too much for the participants.

Comment Re:Might as well break the ice (Score 2) 342

It depends on the film. If it's a big special effects blockbuster, like a new Star Wars film or something, then yes, going to the cinema can add something to the experience.

For almost anything else, however, home viewing is definitely preferable for me. All too often, there's a film I'd very much like to see but don't want to have to watch in a cinema. Then by the time it's available to watch at home, I've forgotten about it or just lost the inclination to see it.

If the Movie Theater chains are really confident that they offer something above and beyond the home viewing experience, then they should be a lot more relaxed about simultaneous releases.

Comment Re: I Lol'ed, did you? (Score 1) 62

Except... not really.

Our voting system is one that has developed incrementally over hundreds of years. We actually voted on whether to replace it a few years ago and chose, by a large margin, to stick with what we had.

But the point is that our voting system, whatever its flaws may be (and no system is perfect; STV, AV and proportional representation can all produce flawed outputs as well), is something that can be voted on and changed by popular consent if desired. That's actually perfectly democratic.

Don't forget that if the 2015 UK General Election had been fought on a proportional representation basis, the vote shares that were achieved would have resulted in a Conservative/UKIP/NI Unionists coalition. That would have given us a very socially-conservative (and economically protectionist) Government. FPTP's benefits in (mostly) keeping the fringe voices out of Government are not to be sniffed at.

Comment Re: I Lol'ed, did you? (Score 1) 62

I'd agree that the moderate Remain and Leave positions get very little traction in the press compared with the extremists. I know a couple of people I work with were fairly fanatical Remain and my Dad was pretty fanatical Leave, but almost everybody else I know was basically conflicted over the whole affair. I've got good friends who voted Leave and I've certainly not fallen out with any of them over it.

The problem is that angry people make better news. If you're doing vox pops on the street for the evening news, you don't want to show the clip of the guy who says "I voted Remain, but I've got real worries about the direction Europe is going" or "I voted Leave, but I know we're in for some economic pain now".

The swivel-eyed fanatics get more coverage because they make better news.

Comment Re: I Lol'ed, did you? (Score 2) 62

You're right. One of the problems with explaining the EU is that explaining where power actually sits is very hard.

That's not uncommon. Here in the UK, our "unwritten" constitution (which is in fact written, just in lots of places) vests a lot of power in the Prime Minister, even though his or her powers in law at first appear very limited (it is the power to appoint and sack Ministers that defines the role). The US has its own subtleties in the balance between different branches of Government.

The EU has institutions which look both democratic and powerful, but in reality a huge amount of power is vested in the Commission, which is, if you want to be kind, a technocracy, or if you want to be less kind, an aristocracy.

In the UK's recent referendum, I voted Remain, but held my nose while I did so. I was surprised but not devastated by the result. In the short to medium term, we will undoubtedly suffer economic pain and a fall in living standards. But in the longer term, we do get to step off a conveyor belt towards post-democratic Government.

Comment Accountancy (Score 1) 256

Doing my part to be a good corporate citizen, I recently agreed to be the "independent" member of a recruitment panel at my organisation, for some mid-ranking accountant positions. I'm not an accountant myself, but our HR rules dictate that one member of any recruitment panel must be from outside the area of the business that's hiring.

To be frank, I didn't really have the best idea of what accountants did with their days, but over the course of a week of interviews, I started to pick some of it up. And the first thing that crossed my mind as I did so was "oh wow, these jobs are going to be done by computers within a few years". So much of it wasn't much more than interaction with already highly automated software tools. It was clear that it would only take one more, fairly thin layer of automation on top of this, combined with a bit of automated business information gathering, for the human role at this grade to be eliminated.

We're generally a long way from the front of the automation curve (that's putting things mildly), so I'm sure things are much further along elsewhere. What's going to make this rough, though, is that these are jobs with a fairly high requirement in terms of education and professional qualification. Moreover, and I admit this may be a UK-specific problem, accountancy is a career that has long been seen as high status in some of our immigrant communities, particularly those from the Indian subcontinent and parts of the Middle East. So if the 20 or so applicants I saw for the posts we were hiring for are any indication (all bar one of whom were either Asian or Middle Eastern), the "costs" of this wave of automation are going to fall heavily on those communities.

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