2286 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009
Re: Hawking for Sky are we?
> UK drama is compressed and concentrated, giving quality over quantity.
So are OXO cubes, but you wouldn't want to eat them out of the packet. The problem with british dramas is that they don't give themselves the space to develop interesting characters. By only having a small amount of time to fit in all the exposition, development, twists and conclusion british writers tend to skim over the bits that make a story interesting. It's a bit like reading a Cliff's Notes of a classic text, rather than reading the original yourself. You get the basic story, but none of the nuances and depth that make it enjoyable.
Oddly, a lot of films manage to squeeze in more dimensionality in a couple of hours - but that might be because they apply more bodies and more skill (as well as more money) into getting the whole package presented to a viewer - or it might be because they focus tightly on what's important, rather than indulging the writer's whims, meanderings and biases.
More stuff, quickly
> BBC or ITV doesn’t spend enough
In recent years the pattern for british drama has been one of short-run series: maybe 3 * 1 hour episodes. That has two big problems. The first is that setting up a TV series is expensive. Before you start filming you have to assemble the "team", make all the props, get studio space/locations, create the basis for CGI and budget for the show's eventual promotion and advertising. A lot of those costs are more-or-less constant whether you make 3 episodes or 20. However, if you only make a few, then those costs have to be amortized across the small number of episodes, making each one appear more expensive - the opposite of an economy of scale.
The other basic problem is that with gazillions of TV channels, there's a need for LOTS of stuff to fill the empty voids between advertisements. 3 episodes just won't hack it - and is difficult for the schedulers to fit in to a format that's designed around "seasons" of 10 or 20 episodes - and therefore difficult to sell to them.
A big reason for these issues is the way that british dramas are written and produced. Over here we tend to treat them as hand-crafted works of art. Great when they succeed, but an expensive and inaccessible mess when they don't. Other places tend to productionise the writing - with a team of scribblers who contribute a part to each episode - which gives them depth and variety, rather than the monoculture and superficial characterisations that our lone-writers don't have the time (or ability) to incorporate.
It could be that the biggest technological boost we could give to TV drama production is to find ways to enable a group of writers to work together (assuming you can get past the diva effect). You'd think that with all the tools available for softies to write code in a collective and collaborative way, that there'd be solutions for authors, too. Maybe they are just too stuck in their own ways to look over the parapet - or maybe they just like being the queen bee.
Can't tell their ASA from their elbow
> we considered that consumers would understand ...
What they really meant is that customers understand that ALL advertisements for broadband are universally false, misleading and that none of the claims can stand up to any level of scrutiny. Customers also understand that as a watchdog, the ASA does just that: watches. It doesn't act.
(Not a) Daft question
> it seems to me that you are buying a computer without the hard drive and OS
What you get is a naked "motherboard". You have to provide the following:
USB Keyboard (the £2.50 ASDA jobbie works OK)
USB Mouse (as does their cheap mouse)
Display, usually an HDMI TV and a connecting cable
SD card that you download an OS for and then need to use a PC to copy the OS to the card
Network cable to plug into your home router
Something non-metallic to put all this stuff on. The 'Pi doesn't have any mounting holes and is quite small and lightweight, so stopping it from dragging when you move a cable is not easy.
And since the 'Pi only has 2 USB ports, you might need a USB hub - though since the 'Pi's ability to use peripherals is strictly limited (none of the 4 different types of webcam I've tried have worked on it) there may not be much scope for this.
Can't happen soon enough
> Now TV isn't an addition to its satellite service, in the long term it’s a replacement for it
The fixed-fee "all you can eat" model for TV really does need sorting out. It rewards TV companies that fill their channels with cheap dross and repeats of cheap dross while making "quality" TV (i.e. programmes I like) marginalised and an endangered species.
If TV became truly PPV, so that a punter had to shell out before watching any particular programme, there would be a direct link between the programme maker and the viewer. Better yet, if a series tanked the makers would have an immediate and tangible motivation to improve it (rather than as some BBC writers are known to do: bleat about how the audience is "wrong" and blame the viewers).
The TV channel would merely become the delivery medium, much like UPS and the Royal Mail - they don't charge you £20 a month on the offchance there's a package you might want to order. By closing the gap between programme makers and programme consumers the industry can become far more response and efficient: no more cartels deciding for us what we'll be permitted to choose from, or when it's convenient for their schedules to show a particular programme.
All we'd have to do next would be to get the music industry to adopt the same model and get their fat-cats out of the way so we can get music directly from the bands and musicians, themselves.
This one needs fingers and toes
Errrm - hang on a sec. There are 168 hours in a week. So if your staff work _about_ 40 hours per, that means (FX: takes off shoes and socks ... starts doing maths) you need 4 shifts, not 3. Maybe the G4 people did the calculations your way and that's where it went wrong?
Playing to the crowd
Well of course the rent-a-minister is going to say how wonderful and inspirational ham radio is when he/she/it is
lying talking to the RADIO Society of GB. However IMHO (from experience) the internet took over all the interesting aspects of amateur radio.
Also, I'm sure the minister will be eating, nay: wolfing down, his words when someone whispers in his ear about all the cases of RFI that rigs can cause, especially in high-density housing estates and when surrounded by cheaply made and largely unshielded domestic electronics.
A bigger hammer?
Instead of relying on a single Copperhead, is it possible to insert (say) three into the propellant and fire them all at the same time.
Re: Study shows that...
I see. So the real problem is that I'm 4 feet too short?
There's more to life than death
This study is all very well, but it doesn't take into account quality of life.
I'm sure it's a great consolation to the "blobs" that they will live as long as ordinary-sized people. But what will their lives be like? Will the enjoyment factor be the same for someone who is able to lead an active life: kicking a football with their kids/grandchildren, as it is for those who can only sit on the sofa and watch TV?
Similarly, if it takes you 10 minutes to recover from walking upstairs, will you have the same optimistic, happy, positive attitude as a slimline version of you who bounds up them; two at a time?
So while life expectancy may well be the obvious factor in the fat vs. thin debate, the ability to enjoy your allotted time is just as important.
> Proponents reckon it'll lead to greater democracy, as politicians are always answerable to those who fund them
Gets my vote for the most cynical justification of a new means of taking money from the credulous and dim-witted.
you don't want that do you?
Err, YES! All this home automation malarkey becomes utterly useless the moment it requires human intervention at any stage of the process. Once a person's presence is called for - filling the kettle, washing up a dirty coffee mug, getting the teabag out - then you might as well do the whole thing yourself. I would hazard a guess that is the main reason it's failed to take off.
I do remember my old gran having a "teasmade" in the 1960's. Essentially, you filled a pot with cold water and at a predetermined time, instead of the built-in alarmclock waking you, it started up a heater that fizzed and bubbled and eventually woke you with a cup-o-char. From the little I've seen of commercial "home automation" there's been little or no progress in the past half-century.
Watch and learn
> China – which produces 90 per cent of the world’s supply ... now has just 30 per cent of the world’s reserves
It seems to me they've been reading up on the history of OPEC and realised that there is a long (if not honourable) history of leveraging the supply and demand equation for their
environmental reasons national profit.
Luckily for the chinese, it appears they are immune to the fate that befalls other countries who get in the way of " ... US workers and manufacturers [desire for] access to raw materials". I just wouldn't like to be in the shoes of whoever is sitting on top of the other 70% or the world's reserves.
Productivity != Creativity
Most office workers produce very little of any actual worth. Unless you count as useful sending numerous emails to hordes of people about things they don't care about (and probably won't read, anyway).
Far better than spending your travel time on the administrative equivalent of a hamster's wheel is to sit back, clear your mind and use the opportunity for some blue-sky thinking. All it would take would be one really good idea from one talented individual to recoup the whole cost of this new train-set.
> what kind of wanker messes around shooting at 1am anyway?
The kind who didn't buy enough beer to drink himself into a stupor, perhaps?
Better than the alternative
I always assumed the country was run by a handful of tax-exiles, the popular press, some civil service mandarins and Simon Cowell.
Be careful what you wish for
So, presuming that CERN have spotted the Higgs. What's next?
In the popular mind the only reason for the billions spent on the LHC was to find the Higgs (before the yanks did). If it turns out that the scientists there have achieved that goal, how will they justify to the public spending oodles more euros?
Sure, from a scientific perspective, this is just one step down the path to enlightenment - but for yer avrige tabloid reader, how can they be sold the idea that there's still a lot more work to be done.
Unlike the moon landings where public interest dwindled after the "been there, done that" box got ticked, I hope that CERN soon manage to discover another great problem that needs even more billions, or the supercooled LHC could become the world's fastest ice-rink. Whetever CERN do propose for ongoing research, they're going to have their work cut out trying to get a catchier (if equally spurious) name than The God Particle.
For the most monumental screwups ...
don't focus on the sysadmins (competent, incompetent, overworked, lazy or malicious). Instead look at the system designers. Ultimately they are the ones who make the biggest, most expensive, longest lasting cockups imaginable - and some that extend a long, long way beyond what anyone thought was the limit of human stupidity.
The problem with trying to point the finger at the designers is that by the time the scale of their errors is known, it's all far too late. The systems go live, despite everyone knowing that they're utterly doomed. The processes needed to use and maintain them are complicated, error prone, people-intensive and unreliable. However the blame is never passed to those who created the shambles, it's always attributed to the person who pressed the badly designed button.
Re: how would you tell the difference
Simple. The fish on the screensaver aren't holding a sign to the webcam saying
Buy a new filter QUICK!
> instead of giving them crap... give them all the future stuff... then in 5 years they can be my boss
And the first they'll do is kick you into touch and bring in new, younger (than them) replacements as you won't have any relevant technical skills left.
Your first (some would say only) allegiance is to yourself, not to some newbie trainee. As such it's your responsibility to keep yourself current, in technical terms. Bringing in a subordinate is the ideal - possibly the only - way to free up enough of your time to learn a new language, or technique. It also helps the young 'un by giving them background in the stuff the operation is currently running on. Better; they have someone there to ask about things they don't understand, rather then being dropped in head-first if they'd simply been recruited as your replacement.
Sadly, nobody coming into IT these days has any sort of career path expectation. So it's unlikely that you'll be able to give your apprentoid a (manly) hug and say "someday, my son, all this will be yours" as in all likelihood it'll be shipped off to the far-east within a few years and both you and your protoges will be plodding the streets, wondering where it all went wrong. Yhat's the reason young people don't go into IT - lack of prospects, not because of dull work.
Talking the piss?
> Not only do we want to turn some heads and get people talking
Hopefully the heads won't be turned while "in full stream". It could get messy.
I'm just waiting for the first lawsuit claiming electrocution from a faulty unit.
Pain In The Orifice?
> "I don't want this to be PITO ..." said May.
And yet, it almost certainly will be. Although this body is being set up to reduce costs, in practice it's just another layer of administration, waste and confusion. I'm not convinced that anything the government does to centralise services ever results in a cost saving - it just results in more civil servants.
Put it in perspective
The article quotes government figures for the costs of this compliance. They bandy around £1m here and £53m there, as if we're supposed to throw up our hands in horror. What they keep very close and don't tell us is what these figures are as a proportion of everyday business costs across the whole country.
I realise that businesses don't like the idea of people actually having to give consent before they squirrel away terabytes of our personal information - just so they can pester us with adverts for stuff we don't want. However given the costs and turnover of british industry, even £147m in additional expenditure (or "jobs", as the traditionalists would have it) seems like a tiny drop in a very large ocean.
An equal and opposite reaction
It's hard to see how this will, in the long term, be anything other than a smokescreen. Assume for the sake of argument that the bill-payer in your household says "yes, filter me". How long will it take for workarounds to be developed, promoted and sold? Will there then be another law to make the circumvention of "active choice" illegal? [ This initiative sounds like it's capable of knocking "unlimited" off the top spot as the most abused word or phrase in internet parlance ]
Who will decide which sites become subject to
censorship "choice". If you only want to block nasty smut, but let "good" smut through, will there be a half-choice, or the possibility of choosing "choice" only after certain times?
The biggest question though, is who will get to see what you've chosen. Will the information be made available to a police check? Will the register of choosers, or non-choosers be published for all to see? Can people who've chosen not to choose "choice" be employed to look after children? Will your employer, or prospective employer, get wind of your choices?
It seems to me that until the details have been bedded-in and a few test cases run through the courts, the only sensible solution is to fall in line with the sheep, choose choice and quietly explore the chinks in the choices.
Can we employ the same standards for our politicians?
Science is not a democracy
Just because the majority of the (uninformed and unqualified) public believe something to be true, doesn't make it so. The real world doesn't work like that - although I wouldn't be surprised to hear that most people think it should, and thus it shall be.
Just like we can't hold a referendum and vote away inflation, recession or other economic woes (and denying evolution doesn't make it stop - except among the deniers).
So it doesn't really matter what the majority of people think, hope or wish for. Science will still go on according to the Laws of Thermodynamics. The world will continue in its orbit as described by the Laws of Kepler and Einstein and politicians will still appeal to peoples' vanity by telling them that who they vote for will make a difference. All we can do is work out what the hell is ACTUALLY happening and use the best judgement of the small number of independent, yet qualified, souls to consider if anything can or should be done about it.
Que cera cera
> I suspect it's USB related
Could well be. My usually tame (if slow) Pi took an instant dislike to a cheap and nasty self-powered USB hub that I tried connecting to it. I didn't have to have anything plugged into the hub, it's mere presence on the USB was enough to turn the Pi into Crumble.
All the other hubs I've tried have been fine - just that one seem to cause problems.
A smuggler's dream?
Wow, an indetectably small, self-powered, autonomous vessel that can be programmed with a destination then just pushed off and it finds its own way there. Best of all, it's cheap. I wonder if the designer will be inundated with orders from exactly the sort of customers he doesn't want to deal with - but finds it impossible (or just unhealthy) to turn away.
That is, if it doesn't fall foul of the Gulf Stream and end up in Norway.
How long is a piece of string?
What seems to happen is that one set of vested interests in the USA calls in a favour that their financial backing of politicians elections bought they (at least their politicians are honest: once bought, they stay bought) and "remind" said
puppet lawmaker about all the goodness they've received - and now it's time for the quid pro quo.
Since the politician has nothing to gain from standing up for the little guy - he's a brit, so will never vote for an american politician - and a lot to lose from annoying his paymasters, so the extradition is demanded. The puppet strings are therefore extended across the Atlantic and the american government asks (a word that loses a lot in translation - "demands" is closer) for the warrant to be executed.
Again, the british Home Secretary has nothing to gain from annoying his/her/its puppet-master and a lot to lose from incurring their ire. So the form gets stamped and "justice" is done.
A guy gets shipped off to a foreign country. One where he cannot raise any sort of defence as the costs of flying witnesses over (at his expense), accommodating them until the trial calls them (again, he pays) and paying for an american defence team is crippling - even for british millionaires who've been shafted by this form of "justice". Hence he does what almost everyone else in his position does: makes a deal. Not only does that prove, in the eyes of their law, that he's guilty but it also justifies back to the HomSec that he/she/it was right in approving the extradition - "look, he pled guilty!"
In fact all that's happened is a commercial interest in one country has pulled the strings of a tame politician, who has yanked the chain of an emasculated and disinterested british minister. The level playing field of law then gets tilted massively in favour of the company and the defendant has no choice but to roll over, thus completing the circle and proving to all involved that the system works.
Re: RBS: "No evidence" this is connected to outsourcing
> This could/would have happened just as easily if it had been outsourced within the UK .... It is about the loss of experienced staff.
Yes, that's what I mean. And if it had happened with UK outsourced staff the topic of overall skill level would be openly discussed in the press. However, I get the impression that the silence (article in The Daily Mash notwithstanding) on the question is because people are too scared to broach the subject for fear of being labelled - even if they don't have a position on in; one way or the other.
Re: RBS: "No evidence" this is connected to outsourcing
Once is unlucky, twice is a coincidence. It's only after the third major crunch that someone would start asking questions.However, nobody in the bank would ever dare anything in public - there's too much hysteria about racism to open that particular can of worms
Though the important question would be: Can Natwest's customers survive another 2 outages?
It's also possible that the generation X's and Y's have experienced security problems (as the article says) and come to the conclusion that they're not that serious. Whereas the older users are more wary and consider that the internet is jam-packed full of scammers, con artists, viruses and phishing sites - all of which will suck your bank account dry (assuming the bank's online systems are working) as soon as you click on the site's link.
The younger users may well have encountered some of these "threats" and discovered that apart from some small inconvenience - such as having to run a cleaner, or fire up their AV suite - that nothing bad has actually happened: they didn't lose all their passwords, their bank accounts were left intact and nobody hacked their contact lists. Hence they're less scared of the consequences, having been there, experienced the actuality of an "attack" and come out smiling.
Alternatively, maybe the oldies just run Linux?
who can't subtract?
should read: ".... that 2½ inch loss ..."
Re: Who needs it?
> But those two pages are going to be pretty short pages
That's the problem. With my old 23 inch 4:3 CRT I got a vertical height of 13.8 inches (sorry for the archaic units). That was good enough to display an A4 document at full size, or a portrait-formatted web page, given the amount of screen space lost at the top of the page with toolbars, menus etc.
To get the same height with a 16:9 screen, you'd need a stonkin' great 28 inch display - a 23 incher providing a paltry 11.3 inches. That 1½ inch loss is more significant as the applications overheads are constant (say an inch for all their clutter, usually more, irrespective of screen size or ratio) so the smaller height directly impacts the stuff you want to see most.
Who needs it?
Leaving aside the obvious marketing benefit of "Bigger, Better, Faster, More", let's step back for a second and consider.
There seem to me to be two types of laptop user: those who primarily want to watch videos and everybody else. For the video-watchers, the 16:9 format is ideal but for everyone else it's terrible - especially for "business" users who deal mainly in A4-portrait format documents and people who surf a lot, as most websites are STILL designed for tall-thin, "page" form factor web content.
So we have a whole generation of laptops that are optimised for watching TV and films - oh and playing games maybe, to the detriment of everyone else. Now unless those media consumers are watching their shiny, glossy screens in perfect darkness the quality of what they see is always going to be compromised: by glare and reflected light.
So given all that, you have to ask: can yer average lappy user benefit from sooper-dooper screen technologies and resolutions that need an electron microscope to view adequately? Given that there's been no real drive to improve laptop screens since the early days (my 1996 vintage Olivetti sported a 1024x768 screen, I guess that would be "HD" by today's standards), I can only assume that the current crop of high resolutions is only being marketed on a "becauwe we can" basis as part of the BBFM principle.
What's more interesting than peoples' reticence to switch banks is their reluctance to have more than one current account. We know, some through experience and some through sage advice, that it's unwise to only have 1 front-door key or a single kidney. Sure, you can get by with just the one but having a spare is a good move. Come the day you really, really need that fallback, it's already too late to try to get one.
As the article says, changing banks is easy. So is opening a new account. Having access to two sources of money (and maybe two separate credit cards - wallets do get lost, handbags do get stolen) is just as sensible - and it's free.
Sure, you get double the amount of paperwork. But in these days of internet banking it's just another password, or security dongle, to keep track of. The upside is that you don't have all you eggs in the same basket. So a bit of "local difficulty" with one bank's inept IT doesn't turn an inconvenience into a crisis.
There's the problem - right there
> Twenty-year-old models which have suggested serious ice loss in the eastern Antarctic
Now if they'd used proper scientists instead of people who wander around on catwalks, maybe they'd have got some better data.
And to say that an Elephant Seal is better at doing climate surveys makes you wonder why we're spending so much money on obviously under-qualified scientists, too.
> Almost all of the people I know who studied arts and humanities degrees in the past few years are paying back their student loans at higher rate than they have to, much faster than my friends who studied IT or science at university as a matter of fact.
No, they're only doing that because they're not very good at maths.
A student loan is the cheapest source of capital an individual will ever get. The interest charged on it is guaranteed to NEVER exceed the rate of inflation (meaning that over time, it's value will decrease naturally). Therefore the best approach is to pay it back as slowly as the system allows and put any "surplus" earnings into a savings account to earn the ex-student a nice little slice of interest.
The 'art of the matter
> arts and social sciences students, according to the Chinese news site, which reported that many felt the "work experience" was irrelevant to their studies.
A "proper job" might be irrelevant to these students' studies, but it will provide invaluable experience for what they'll probably end up doing after they graduate. As for the wages and deductions they get, isn't that just par for the course?
Maybe the UK could ship some arts and SS industrial placement students out to Foxconn for a taste of real-world jobs, too.
The hard sell
I doubt that kids from any time in the past 20 years, brought up on a diet of MTV and more extreme, would be the slightest bit affected by this video. The "problem" only occurs because older people think (wrongly) that this will influence them. It's the same sort of patronising, or merely ignorant, attitude that some people have towards smut: "It doesn't affect ME, but I'm concerned about the effect it will have on others"
If the EU wants to get girls interested in science, they should get Adele to write a song about how sad it makes her feel. Or better yet, stop presenting science on TV (in fiction and in fact) as nerdy, geeky and only appropriate for social misfits
Re: I read that as an expired cat!
> Have you ever seen the damage that mice will do to the wiring under the floor of the server room?
Yeah, the USB ones are the worst.
Re: that's what happens
> of course "lessons will be learnt"
Generally the lesson that is learnt is that the bank in question can futz around for this, particular, length of time without anything bad happening to it's senior staffs' employment prospects, the bank's long-term reputation or in regard to shareholder backlash.
No doubt when RBS carry out a post-mortem, they won't actually find the root cause of the problem (it's the network, stoopid!) but will blame some third-party: either outsourced, software supplier or infrastructure. They will then issue a suitably
smug contrite press release about how they've "taken steps to make sure this never happens again", award themselves large bonuses for the successful cost-savings, take the regulator out for a very good lunch and prepare their CVs to move on and stick it to the next financial institution on the list.
> People should be free from the worry of some high-tech Peeping Tom technology
But isn't that exactly what all these american drones (UAVs, not people) do in all the countries they're currently bombing the crap out of? He should be glad that the likes of Apple and Google are only taking photographs.
A taste of things to come
> a one-off designed to boost Windows 8
Or maybe it's a toe in the water to see how successful a single-sourced combination of: hardware, O/S and walled-apps; can be? MS must have an envious eye on Apple who have managed to close off all competition to their devices by locking the hardware and O/S together and only allowing apps that pay them a tribute for the privilege of running on their machine.
The trick is to persuade punters that this isn't just a mix of Windows8, and a tablet - it's a SYSTEM. Integrated, easy to buy (with none of that pesky "installation") and easy to use. Given the margins Apple makes on it's "buy everything from us" systems, the only surprise is that MS didn't do this years ago.
If I was a PC maker, or not on the list of most-blessed suppliers for Surface, I'd be getting a bit worried that my business could simply evaporate if this is a success.
Re: Cause or effect?
> The fact is there's plenty of new stuff but creating new stuff requires risk. It is simply easier to resell your old stuff to people who haven't seen it yet:
Good point. And very long copyright terms rewards the endless promotion of non-risky old stuff over going out on a limb and creating something new. If copyright was limited to (say) a single generation - 20 or 30 years - then that would decrease the value of a product, but would incentivise people to create new ideas (or even to pick up the out-of-copyright "classics" in new ways). I reckon it would generate more new content, though the old stuff would still be available if people wanted it.
Still living the dream
> extending copyright terms beyond absurdity,
The reason that vested interests keep pushing (and winning) ever longer copyright terms is that these old, ancient, "properties" are still very successful. A pertinent question would be: why?
Surely in the past 20, 30, 50 even 80 years someone, somewhere - with all the technology, marketing and production techniques at their disposal - would have made Mickey Mouse (c) (tm) and friends obsolete. The sad fact that there is STILL so little material that can compare with its popularity speaks volumes for the lack of originality, imagination and willingness to try new things.
We see popular music reinvent itself every 10-ish years (although the old stuff remains popular with the generations that grew up with it). But for children of today to still get fed the same saccharin-sweet, superficial culture that hasn't changed in 2 or 3 generations of childhood makes me think something is very wrong.
Is it time for the cult of Disney to go through a "punk revolution"? Maybe bring back the original, unexpurgated versions of Grimm's Fairy Tales
The author doesn't need to [outline the process ...], the spokesperson is quoted as saying
We are well aware of the commercial value of the data,
So since they are already well aware of its value, all they had to do was ask for that amount. If Google declined, then it would seem that this value had been set unrealistically high.
I wonder if all the extra-curricular business fondling makes up for the time used during the working day on personal fondling? If so, it's just a time-shifting phenomenon, not extra work.
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