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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.

Comment Re:I haven't run into this issue either, but ... (Score 1) 133

There are also any number of issues with the new taskbar. In particular, the taskbar now has a habit of refusing to go away (even if you click the box to auto-hide it) on top of programs running in borderless-windowed fullscreen mode. Doesn't happen all the time, but seems to trigger and then go away again almost at random for me.

Comment No good-guys here (Score 3, Interesting) 467

Really, nobody comes out of this one looking particularly well.

No Man's Sky is a mediocre, so-so-ish game. If it had been a $25 indie title that slipped out quietly, it would probably have had a pretty decent reception. But it was hyped, by a developer who appears to want to be the second coming of late-career Peter Molyneux, to be a game that was both fundamentally different to and better than the game that was actually released.

But the people asking for refunds after putting a serious amount of time into the game are also kinda jerks. Digital-purchase refunds have come on a long way in the last couple of years. Weirdly, we have EA to thank for this, as they were the first major party to take the plunge on it, via Origin (hey, credit where it's due). But refund policies set sensible limits. If you've put double-digit hours into a game before deciding you want a refund, you are probably doing something wrong. What's more, the gap between expectations and reality with No Man's Sky was widely known within 24 hours of release. If you got stung because you pre-ordered... then for the love of all that is holy, stop pre-ordering.

And a special de-merit here for much of the gaming media. Quite a few outlets have put more time into defending Hello Games, because gamers are angry with them (boo! hiss! angry gamers! they must all be sexists!) than they have taking them to task for some seriously deceptive marketing.

I did buy it myself. A week or so after launch (so I knew full well what it was like), I managed to get a fairly cheap PC code via cdkeys.com. At the greatly discounted price I paid, the game is more or less worth the money. I put 12 hours or so into it before I got bored and moved on. Mods might add some value to it in time. But I don't feel the need for a refund.

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"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982