106 posts • joined 30 Jun 2009
Re: I wonder
Or any star system for that matter. The chances of two stars colliding during a galaxy merger are very small as galaxies are mostly empty space. I once heard it described as being similar to letting two moths loose in a football stadium and having them collide mid-air by accident.
The stars have large differences in velocity and gravity is weak over long distances. Since the stars don't spend a lot of time in close proximity (due to the aforementioned empty space plus the high closing speeds of those that do happen to get near to each other), you can't rely on gravity to pull them together. Instead you have to get very (un)lucky, a bit like shooting two rifle bullets at each other from a long distance apart - pretty hard to make them collide unless you set up the perfect starting conditions.
Most of what happens is similar to the picture in the article - lots of gas and dust gets perturbed due to the gravitational interaction between the two galaxies and there will be one or more bursts of star formation as gas and dust is compressed together, various interesting tails will form as gas, dust and stars are dragged out of their orbits around the galaxy centre, etc. But very few actual collisions.
Re: put an Aakash in the hands of every school kid in the country in 5-7 years
"How do you figure that?"
If there are conservatively 100M users of the thing in a massive market like India then there will be browsers and applications written for it, most probably by existing and newly minted Indian software developers, and huge amounts of content developed to suit the capabilities of the installed device base. They won't particularly care if it doesn't run the latest and greatest 3D Angry Candyville game that is taking the EU and US by storm.
A lot of the comments on this article are taking a very west-o-centric view of the world, as if somehow India needs us to hand down the tablets of wisdom. Africa is quite successfully bringing banking and payment services to the people of that continent using GSM mobile phones the like of which most of us haven't seen in years. As ever it is about the useful application of appropriate technology to improve people's lives, not technology for technology's sake. At least the Indian government seems to get that point, even if we don't.
Well my money would be on them starting with the "Yes" campaign sites in Scotland, as early as possible in 2014, because that would be well within the typical Tory backbencher's view of 'Extremist'. Not Scottish by the way, just a good example of where this could go if it is allowed to continue.
I think the original article did a pretty good job of that. Would you also like me to explain how to read?
"From an analysis of the remains scientists have concluded that fractures in the meteorite (formed from an impact with another space rock) left veins of silicates running throughout its body, making it much more likely to break up in the friction with our atmosphere."
Move far enough to the country so that it costs more to drive to the nearest supermarket than the delivery charge. Do your shopping online. Lie in bed on a Saturday morning until some minimum-wage-o-naut has done your shopping for you and brought it to your front door.
Bonus upside is that you aren't tempted to buy 30 quid's worth of extraneous crap that you don't actually need. Minor downside is that you get the odd unsuitable substitution. Major downsides are you are reliant on your countryside broadband connection and may starve to death due to the length of time it takes to navigate the shopping site.
Re: Right with you there
Or come to think of it, could have been from any space launch near the sea really. No reason why the diatom-infested crap has to shake loose inside the atmosphere at all. Could have been released in to LEO during staging or when the payload faring is removed, etc.. Give it a few years of minuscule atmospheric drag and it's going to de-orbit eventually.
I think my bird crap theory is infinitely more plausible than their totally crap theory.
(Spelled 'Orifices' wrong above, so sorry for that).
Right with you there
How about the fact that there were rocket launches on 25th and 27th July (well within the six day window in the paper? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_in_spaceflight#July One of those was from Kourou, which is a km or two from the sea.
You know, the big wet place where diatoms live. The big wet place where seabirds eat stuff from. Stuff that probably has diatoms trapped in various orifaces, not to mention being covered in diatomy seawater. Seabirds that like to crap all over other stuff left in the open. Stuff like giant space rockets a couple of km from the sea.
Occam's razor my arse.
Re: We need more documentaries like this
Yep, if you haven't worked for someone like that, you are them.
Four page article on cassette tapes..
and not one mention of the ubiquitous plastic biro?
Yes and that's the attraction
There comes a time in the life of most males where youth is a fading memory and the prospect of being able to afford to retire is receding even faster than the old hairline. If one can't afford a motorbike / Ferrari / extra curricular activities plus resultant divorce settlement, all that is left is the weather station and winging.
The only crumb of comfort left is confirmation that you are not the only poor sod in the same situation, and I for one look forward to the next instalment.
"More useful would have been be what proportion of internet users (or better still facebook users) have had their data requested by a government agency."
What, like the second half of my post above, where I said "Similarly, the top ten requestors per 100,000 Facebook accounts/users are:...." ?
In future I suggest you read the entire post before flaming it, otherwise you just end up looking stupid.
Interesting, but slightly more meaningful if combined with demographic data,, e.g. the top ten requestors per 100,000 head of population are:
Malta 23.7 accounts requested per 100,000 head of population
United States 6.5
United Kingdom 3.7
New Zealand 2.8
Similarly, the top ten requestors per 100,000 Facebook accounts/users are:
Malta 44.7 accounts requested per 100,000 Facebook users/accounts
United States 12.3
United Kingdom 7.0
New Zealand 5.3
Find arse with both hands?
"After using a theodolite to measure the horizontal and vertical location of the objects, the astronomers decided they definitely belonged to the former category."
Must be the worst professional astronomers in the world if they need to use anything other than their eyes and the most basic ephemeris to positively identify either of the two brightest planets. Frankly most amateur astronomers could have done so via a short telephone conversation with the idiots concerned.
Re: And the effect is ?
"ASA remains a paper tiger, wasting taxpayers's money."
The ASA is funded by advertisers, who are in turn funded by the people who buy their products. Given that you have to pay VAT on pretty much everything worth advertising (except maybe potatoes), those people are indeed taxpayers, but I don't think that was the thrust of your argument.
Re: Nominet jumps the gun
Not jumping the gun at all. She's been there 3 or 4 months and so has very few employment rights. Provided the dismissal was not due to one of the 'Discriminations' she can be sacked with no legal comeback for Nominet whatsoever.
All they have to weigh up is the risk of reputational damage for letting her go now (if it turns out she was stitched up by the CQC or whatever) vs the risk of waiting for all the facts to emerge, things turning out to be true and then having to sack her anyway. By that time she might have been there long enough to have some employment rights and Nominet would then have to deal with the inevitable employment tribunal claim (or more likely paying for a compromise agreement to avoid it).
I think any sane Board or CEO looking at the current media shitstorm would have made the same choice in those circumstances.
These are not the nerds...
...you are looking for.
Re: Here be a FLAME
If you are going to get on your high horse about grammatical niceties, perhaps you should first make yourself aware that when discussing inanimate objects, we refer to gender rather than sex. Sex refers to biological characteristics, gender refers to social or cultural differences, and grammatical gender refers to the various systems of noun classification present in about a quarter of languages.
""parking structure", or “car park” for anyone not fluent in Cupertinian."
Much as it pains me to defend anything Apple, Parking Structure is just another example of two nations divided by a common language rather than another laughable attempt make simple things seem complex. Parking Structure = Multi-Storey Car Park, Parking Garage = Underground Car Park (or sometimes M-S CP inside a larger building), Parking Lot = Car Park.
I remember when this was all fields...
..text fields that is.
This is about moral responsibility not technology!
The need to keep a human in the loop is not about the 'micro' issue of having some (slim) chance of preventing deaths of non-combatants. Innocent bystanders get killed (accidentally and deliberately) every day by knives, guns, gung-ho pilots, predator drones operated from the other side of the world, etc. The technology is irelevent to some extente, but in all cases, there is either an individual (or at least a chain of command) that can be held accountable for their actions.
It is about the 'macro' issue of who is accountable for unleashing completely autonomous killing machines in to the wild. The machine doesn't have intelligence, just autonomy, so it is not morally responsible. The designer and builder of the system isn't accountable; how many innocent victims have sucessfully taken action against an arms manufacturer or dealer for their injuries or loss of a loved one? The only people who can be held accountable are those in the military and political chain of command who decided to unleash the weapons in to the arena of battle. If it is internationally acceptable for them to be used, then they are also off the hook. That is why such systems need to be banned under international law, otherwise our leaders will have even more freedom wreak havoc in 'rogue' states in pursuit of oil and treasure.
About the only thing this does that sticking your head out of the window doesn't achieve is the air quality stuff:
a) Why obsess about CO2 in the house? Unless you live in a hermetically sealed pod, it is highly unlikely that you will be generating CO2 over 1,000ppm for extended periods of time and thus would not notice any effects. If your location is sealed well enough to allow such a build up from your cooker or boiler, then I'd reckong you'd be dead from CO long before you could care about the CO2.
b) The external air quality stuff is utterly useless. What they don't tell you on the glossy product web site is that there are only about ten CITEAIR monitoring stations in the UK, some of which don't appear to to be working and most major cities in the UK are not even covered. You can check the information yourself at http://www.airqualitynow.eu/ if you are interested.
Much more useful is the Defra site, which has UK-wide coverage in both urban and rural locations, again for free at http://uk-air.defra.gov.uk/interactive-map.
Really not sure what you'd do with the information anyway to be honest. Lock yourself in your positive-pressure isolation chamber in the basement on bad days? Move house?
Wot no SGI?
Can't beleive you're including stuff like the PS3 (just another black box under the TV alongside everything else with a Sony badge on it) and not including SGI gems like the Indigo, Indy, Onyx, etc. In a time still dominated by the beige box, they were anything but.
I especially liked the Indy, since the case split and opened along the main diagonal slice. It was form and function in harmony vs. the usual process of asking a collague to kneel on a cheap pressed steel case so that you could align the screw-holes and put it back together.
Re: Boo hoo
"Saying that something is "in the public interest" is an easy and lazy defence that can be applied to pretty much any newspaper article. It's also completely unprovable - and attributing increased sales is the worst possible rationalisation for "public interest"."
You are confusing 'in the public interest' with 'of interest to the public'. Simple example for you (although it is already explained perfectly well in the article):
Public interest: Newspaper obtains evidence by phone hacking about a government minister making fraudulent expense claims to fund a crash pad for his bit on the side.
Of interest to the public: Newspaper obtains evidence by phone hacking about minor celebrity using his own money to fund a crash pad for his bit on the side.
The courts are perfectly capable of determining these things; sometimes the balance can be a fine one, but that is why you have the seemingly endless appeals process. That is all going to be swept away now, and decisions about what you get to hear will be made by an unelected quango subject to all sorts of hidden special interests. And don't think it will all be after the event either; serious investigative journalists (of which a few do remain) will have to think long and hard about who and what they take on in the future. That certainly isn't 'in the public interest'.
Celebrity now happy since he can keep his illicit shagging quiet (but he could have anyway if existing laws were actually enforced). Dodgy politician even happier, since he too can keep his illicit shagging and criminal activity quiet, which he previously could not have done despite the journalist having broken the law.
You tell me who emerges the winner in all this? It ain't you or me, that's for sure.
Re: Makes no sense to me
On the one hand, yes. The Southern Ocean is a graveyard for sailors precisely because there are none of those pesky mountains, trees, skyscrapers or any other crap to prevent the wind from going round the planet.
On the other hand, there is no such thing as a free lunch, so if you want to get x Terawatts of power from the wind, it follows that there is less wind (in the short term at least). That energy didn't appear by magic, it came from turning kinetic energy in the atmosphere in to electrical energy.
On the third hand, that energy has to go somewhere, and as a previous poster has pointed out, our energy harnessing, storage and usage systems are pretty good at turning useful energy in to heat (some by way of useful work, a lot by way of inefficiency).
Most of it gets radiated back in to space where it came from (if it didn't, we'd be living on Venus and reading this with rapidly melting eyeballs). Along the way, some of it causes convection in the atmosphere, creating wind!
Lot of money to spend on donuts and coffee then isn't it?
"Pinterest has yet to make any profit or even any revenue, but on the upside, it doesn't really have any costs either."
If it has no costs, why does it need $2.5Bn in funding? Let's say they spend half the investment on their 100 staff, and be generous at an average salary of $80K per year, and the rest on office space, servers, coffee and donuts, etc. That would be enough money to keep them up and running for the next 156 years.
So clearly they are planning to spend that money on something. More staff, gold plated executive wash rooms, new features and functionality, expense account lunches for analysts and journos? Or perhaps they will go on a spree and acquire a whole bunch of other non-profit-making startups with equally pointless web properties, no valuable IP and no business model?
Given that that the main use case that got the predecessor service shut down was sharing big content's precious assets, it is reasonable to assume that is the main use case of the all new service. If it isn't why so much effort aimed at saying to the law "we don't know what's in the files"?
So you can guarantee a high level of de-dupe efficiency because everybody is uploading the same stuff and knowing what it is, or you can hope for some lesser degree of de-dupe based on a chunk/block level process and remaining ignorant. A smart person would go for the latter, but the thrust of the article is how incredibly naive/dumb/reckless these guys are (no password recovery process, really?). It wouldn't be much of a stretch to think they may be doing something far stupider that does allow one to de-dupe based on the unencrypted content in the interests of saving costs to pay the bail money.
Even if it is de-dupe after encryption, any decent forensic investigator would be able to join the dots by looking at patterns of usage of shared folders/keys stitched together with IP address logs to track the *really* popular stuff being uploaded, downloaded and re-uploaded again. I suspect it would not take too long to provide sufficient evidence for the big content lawyers to have a once-more-round the block with this guy.
Really, the whole thing is the cloudified equivalent of a two-year old covering their eyes and thinking they are invisible because they can't see you. It'd be funny if it wasn't so tragic. No wait, it is just funny.
Re: Town and city centres
No, because there is no tax money to pay for it. Personal tax is being chewed up by the deficit and essential (and not so essential) public services. If the shift to online shopping with offshore companies continues (which it will), there will be fare fewer UK businesses left paying corporation tax and business rates, so who would fund these things?
I suspect that town centres will become much more residential (it has been happening in some of the bigger cities for years already). Depressed property market or not, there is a growing need (if not market with the money to pay for it yet) for housing, and there are a lot of commercial landlords sat on town centre property that is not going to generate much of a return in the foreseeable future.
We'll all be trekking to the out of town shopping centres for a bit of recreational retail therapy but doing most serious purchasing on line.
WHSmith will survive, maybe not on the high street but certainly at stations, airports, etc. By stocking a range of stuff needed immediately by the traveller they have access to a market that is harder to dent (though I will admit that eBooks and magazines are probably eroding that market over time.
P@H have vets in store; good example of innovation to better serve the needs of the customer. If you need pet food today or a new widget because Fido ate the last one you can't wait for delivery (kids, and parents with kids, are a big market and not that organised, trust me!)
Similarly Wickes and B&Q have a market in the DIYer. For one thing unless you are an expert builder or plumber, you really need to get widget A and flange B in your mitts at the same time to be sure they will fit together, and you always run out of left-handed screws halfway through a weekend job.
Have to agree about Homebase though, most useless shop ever. Not a proper DIY place, has so little of what you might need. Crap garden centres compared to even B&Q and a whole range of useless furniture and stuff that you never see anyone browsing, still less buying. Pretty sure they will be gone in a couple or three years.
Re: wait isn't Apophis...
Astronomers generally name solar system bodies after mythical deities, creatures, etc. dreamed up by ancient civilisations.
Science fiction writers generally name characters after mythical deities, creatures, etc. dreamed up by ancient civilisations.
Re: Anyone remember archie?
Yes, that and Gopher, and WAIS and a spiral bound notebook full of IP addresses scrawled in Biro. I remember when all this was fields.. text fields that is.
Re: C++ put me off programming
"Yes, I grew up in an era of what is now referred to as procedural programming (it was called functional programming back in my day, but that's been subverted for something now related to mathematics more than programming, but I think that both "procedural" and "functional" were originally an accurate description."
I grew up in that era too (well did my Comp Sci degree in 1986-88, not entirely sure that counts as growing up though). IIRC from lectures, procedural and functional programming are two different paradigms. Simply put, procedural programming is a flat-pack furniture assembly instructions approach to programming, i.e. "Take Tab A and insert into Slot B. Now bend over, look between your legs and tighten Screw C". Functional programming is an approach in which you write the code as a series of nested functions, and is NOT the same thing as procedural programming.
A spreadsheet (e.g. Excel) is actually a good example of a functional programming language, provided you don't use any VBA or Macros in it. Any cell may contain a value, in which case it is implicitly a function which returns the value, or it may contain an "= somefunction()". Any function may have further functions nested within it (including references to cells which main contain either values or further "= somefunction()", etc. The spreadsheet simply keeps evaluating nested functions to the lowest level until it produces the desired result.
ISTRC it can be mathematically proven that any functional program can be expressed as a procedural program and vice-versa (and empirically it is obvious that this is the case; the only means by which functional programming languages can be executed is by compiling them to machine code, which is a form of procedural programming).
Functional programming languages are not widely used for software development (though vast hordes of spreadsheet monkeys use them every day without realising it). You can figure out why if you try to code in a procedural programming language by creating user defined functions which consist of a single line which returns a value calculated using only using assignment, operators and other in-built and user-defined functions (which in turn can only consist of a single line). So no sequences of lines of code, no iteration, no control structures, etc.
You absolutely CAN write any program that you could write in procedural (or Object Oriented) manner within these constraints, but would you want to, and even if you did, what would happen if you tried to maintain it as requirements change, or re-use your code?
Re: How does this "audit" even work...?
If you're a business customer who has procured licensing through any sort of Microsoft volume agreement, you'll find that it contains clauses allowing Microsoft to conduct audits. It is legally possible because you, the customer, have agreed to it. Most license agreements with businesses contain similar provisions, other than perhaps low-value/box-product type licenses.
The usual tactic is that the sales people will come in first and offer to help you against the nasty audit department, "over which they have no control and if we don't reach some kind of agreement you'll be audited and pay up to three times the value of missing licenses". Had exactly that tactic from IBM last year due to a previous manager (and the reseller) screwing up changes to legacy notes licensing in a bid to save money.
They claimed we owed up to £170K, we did our homework and managed to get it down to the £30K that we actually owed, and got a discount from the reseller on that £30K as the screw-up was at least 50% their fault and they had no paperwork to prove otherwise.
Have also been on the receiving end of two Microsoft 'SAM' engagements (i.e. reseller audits you for a fee before Microsoft goons kick the door in). Similar scenarios, "You're drastically underlicensed, this is going to cost six figures", "No we're not, turns out we owe maybe £10K and the discrepancy is well within the limits allowed by the Enterprise Agreement".
Moral: Do your homework, keep digging and don't be FUD-ed in to paying a fortune to make the problem go away. (Unless you are deliberately under-licensed by some huge amount, in which case you deserve everything they throw at you).
Problem is that people either don't do the basic maths, or if they can do the basic maths they don't have the cash available to go down the unlocked/SIM only route. E.g.
Google Nexus 4 through O2, 24 month contract, £80 up front, £27 per month = £728 total.
Google Nexus 4 unlocked £279, O2 SIM with same minutes, texts data, £16.50 = £675 total for 24 months.
Depending on the number of minutes you require, texts, data, or your (in)ability to pay something up front, the difference TCO can be even greater. This becomes even more marked at the end of the contract if you are suckered in to upgrading to the next great phone, whereas buying unlocked you can just carry on with your SIM-only deal for as long as you are happy.
Personally I am still running my first-gen HTC Desire, cost me £400 quid plus £15 per month SIM only deal and have been running it for 31 months already. Just about ready to replace it now, but I reckon I am a good couple of hundred quid better off than if I'd gone for a carrier-provided handset deal.
The point is that they *have* automated that part of the 'work' since it is non-value adding. In ye olden days (WordPerfect 5.1 generally counts as ye olden days in law firm tech circles), you'd have been paying £££'s per hour for some assistant solicitor to slog through drafts red-lining all the changes that the other law firm had sent over. Any serious contract would go through multiple drafts (even dozens) so the bills quickly mounted up.
These days, the job is done by someone in a back-office person in about 0.01 seconds using software. And they'll be working for low pay somewhere cheap, like Manila or Belfast, not in a shiny office in the City where all the Partners meet their clients. Nobody likes paying legal bills, and believe me that big clients are very good at beating up laywers on costs and ensuring they only pay for value-add work, not donkey work.
Oldest trick in the book. Any semi-competent lawyer would never rely on tracked changes during the revision process. New draft arrives, all changes are accepted and the resulting document run through a specialist comparison tool (e.g. Workshare) to generate your own change mark up, can even deal with comparing multiple drafts of documents to track back to earlier revisions or to deal with multiple parties drafting changes simultaneously.
So stick the snotty/greasy little buggers in the washing machine and save the price of the cloth. Where exactly do they sew the care label on kids anyway?
@frank ly "I understand your point, at a 'technical' level."
The point I am trying to make is not an emotive one, or a 'technical' one, it is a legal one. Property rights are established in law, they are not some fundamental underlying law of the universe. In the beginning, if you had the biggest pointy stick, you got to decide what was your property and what was not. More recently, the state (local warlord, monarch, democratic parliament, revolutionary council, dictatorship, whatever system currently prevails where you are) has the biggest stick and formalises property rights through the rule of law. In other words you have certain rights over both tangible and intangible things because the law says that you do, and for no other reason unless you want to go back to warfare as the primary means of dealing with property disputes. As we all know nation states and revolutionaries/terrorists (depending on your viewpoint) still do use violence as a means of resolving property disputes.
Copyright is one of those rather unusual property rights that is (largely) agreed upon on a global basis, if not implemented and enforced uniformly by those states that have agreed to it. Ultimately if I create something and have the copyright on it, it is my choice as to whether I sell it now, later or not at all. If the state, commerce or others can arbitrarily decide that I no longer have those rights, how exactly is that different than stealing someone's beer? If Cameron/Clegg decided to build a motorway through your house and not compensate you for the loss of your property and the inconvenience, would that be okay?
The argument that I have not lost some monetary value is spurious. Under our system of law, property rights are not about whether something has monetary value or not, they are about the right of the individual (or legal entity) to own something and to decide what they will or will not do with it, which includes making money out if it if they so wish. Hence my attempt to contrast the rather woolly thinking that stealing someone's IP is fine but stealing someone's beer is not.
Re: Two questions...
"When you say "The rather turgid patent in question describes...", are you sure you weren't aiming for something more like... turbid?"
(of a liquid) Cloudy, opaque, or thick with suspended matter: "the turbid estuary".
1. Swollen and distended or congested: "a turgid and fast-moving river".
2. (of language or style) Tediously pompous or bombastic: "some turgid verses on the death of Prince Albert".
In a word, no.
"Same should go for copyright - if the work is not made available to purchase, if falls into the public domain."
Really? So you fundamentally disapprove of the concept of property and the rights of the owner of that property to do with it what they will? In which case you won't mind if I pop round to your house, sit on your sofa, drink your beer and invite everyone passing by to do the same because you haven't offered to sell it to us?
If it looks too good to be true..
Judging from the general thrust of comments on one of the blogs linked in the article, a job as a rater doesn't seem to be much different than the "work from home" horror stories of yesteryear. The ones where poor/desperate people get sucked in to investing time and money in 'home assembling ballpoint pens' or 'stuffing envelopes for marketing companies", only to find they either make no money for a lot of effort or in fact lose money due to up front investment in time that could be spent more productively, purchasing materials or paying for compulsory 'training'.
Prospective raters appear to be required to take an initial simple test based on the instruction manual (probably to weed out those that can't actually read). After this they are then required to take a 140+ question 'test' evaluating actual sites. What is interesting is that a lot of the posters appear to have to "wait" until some test data is available (why aren't they using a bank of standardised tests?), and when they inevitably fail they are either immediately hit with a request to re-take the test with new data (some several times) or after a long period of begging they are suddenly 'allowed' to re-take it (also presumably reflecting that there may be a load of actual work at that time or they have to wait until more becomes available). Of course they don't get paid for any of this testing!
A suspicious person might conclude that most of the 'testing' is unpaid processing of new test data supplied by actual customers in a bid to keep overheads down and profits up. After all they already have a basic ability to weight the candidate's findings based on the short initial test, and since they don't have to pay these chumps they are probably amalgamating the results across a whole bunch of them plus those of them a small number of paid testers whom they have already found to be reliable, classic crowdsourcing with a twist.
There are a few really positive comments that reek of astroturfing, and a few more genuine-looking ones from people who are getting paid, most claiming they book 8 or 9 hours of work a week, but that they have to invest significantly more than that in the research side of the evaluation which they cannot book. One guy claims the going rate is 9 Euros an hour (i.e. about a quid more than UK minimum wage), plus one suspects the 'contractor' is responsible for all tax, NI or other equivalents plus 30-60 days payment terms. Factor in the non-paid research overheads and you'd probably be better off getting a paper round.
Re: Portable Consoles, maybe..
Don't forget the target market here. You'll hardly find a kid between the ages of 7 and 11 who hasn't got (or wants) a DS/3DS, whereas far fewer of them will have an iOS/Android device. Playground peer pressure is one factor on Nintendo's side, and parental control is another.
Most parents do not want their younger offspring having uncontrolled access to the internet, app stores, text messaging and phone services. It is a damn sight easier to control what little Johnny plays on his Nintendo handheld than on any mobile/tablet device.
Okay there was that recent survey that said most under-tens want an iOS device, but then most over 45's want a Ferrari and there's bugger all chance of that happening either. Nintendo have got plenty of breathing space left, and as the saying goes ""Give me the child, and I will mould the man." Maybe this time they can build some lasting brand loyalty; the WiiU definitely seems to be trying to extend to a more grown-up demographic this time round.
Look! Up there...
"when do we draw the line about what is a casual gamer or not?" ... "Reminder, if the mobile platform does starting running AAA games, do expect the price of those games to match the current price, there is no way a developer will be willing to spend as much money on developing game and then sell it at US$ 0.99"
I think you have answered your own question.
"Casual Gaming" (vs. Living Room/Hardcore/Full Fat gaming, whatever..) is not defined by platform, it is defined by attention span. Casual games are those that can be picked up and put down at will, e.g for five minutes at a time, without the need to invest dozens of hours of concentrated play to get the full experience out of the game.
Hence the £/$0.99 price point; these are the kind of games that can be developed by a small team with a relatively small investment due to the emphasis on 'fun' and 'game-play', vs the £/$35+ 'hardcore' game which requires a distinctly cinematic budget to develop (and test) vast quantities of 'shock and awe' content and/or "depth and complexity" which the casual gamer will not benefit from due to not having the necessary time or inclination to invest the required effort.
The key to success in the casual sphere seems to be getting the 'hook' of the game play mechanics just right, and if you can combine that with some off-kilter visual aesthetics so much the better. Unsurprisingly, the hotbed of innovative low-cost games at the moment seems to be (it was ever thus) the PC! There is a tonne of stuff out there in the £/$5.99 to £/$9.99 bracket that is well worth the money, and I don't just mean last year's failed hits being remaindered/recycled to try and recoup some of their losses (or Farcebook 'social' gaming which is an entirely different type of con).
By comparison to PC indie games, most of the mobile/casual games I have tried or seen seem boring by comparison. There is no particular reason why that should be the case (unfortunate, because you can't fit a PC in your back pocket for when you have five minutes to kill). It just seems that the open/upgradeable nature and relatively low barriers to entry of the PC attracts the most creative (independent) minds, whereas Android/iPhone mobile gaming seems to be drowning in corporately spawned derivative tat chasing the 'mass market'. Maybe developers are put off because it is very hard to get noticed amongst hundreds of thousands of other apps, whereas a stand-out game in the PC arena is competing with one or two orders of magnitude fewer competing games.
On the other hand, consoles are a victim of their own 'success'. If you are a newbie who wants to develop for consoles, forget it, because it's a closed shop requiring SDKs and signing your life away on NDAs, royalty agreements, etc. You need to be a fairly serious game studio with financial backing (in turn requiring a track record) before you can even start. Hardly encourages creative thinking, small projects or talented new entrants, which is why all you'll generally get is (big) teamthink and predictable sequels for the highest price they think they can fleece you for, exactly the same no-risk business model as Hollywood movies. No thanks.
Face meet Mr Palm
"As I've argued recently, Microsoft's Office suite is no longer the primary means of creating valuable business data/content."
Yes, and as many of the commenters on that argument pointed out, that is an asinine statement that beggars belief. You argue against yourself further down this article when you say "Microsoft's Windows 8 already faces fierce headwinds, as IT executives continue to favour Windows 7."
There is good reason for that fierce headwind, and IT executives of profitable businesses** (especially information businesses) and their CFO's are not going to be 'ended-around' by Microsoft, Apple or anyone else. People need appropriate productivity tools to generate valuable business data/content, as opposed to merely consuming it. There is a space for the new breed of devices in the consumption side (i.e. willy-waving executives reading docs prepared by their minions using tablets and the like), but:
- The serious work of producing content cannot be done efficiently on a slab, even with some silly flat keyboard add-on.
- No serious business is going to take the vast productivity hit that will result from moving to the badly thought out Windows 8 Frankenstein desktop experience, hence everyone is waiting for 9 to come along, as per the Vista->7 debacle.
** Profitable as in generating wads of actual cash for owners/shareholders to take home and stuff under their bed, as opposed to the Web 2.0 definition of business value which is basically "Here hold this valuable bit of paper whilst I jump on my executive jet and sod off to the nearest tax haven before you realise you have been done over."
That's easy, just need the Greek Alpha and Omega symbols in the wrong order. Should cover all eventualities up to and including the universe reaching a state of maximum entropy.
Re: Love these lawyers
How about Morrison Foerster, commonly referred to in the trade as MoFo, which they so joyously embraced as befitting their self-image as a badass big law firm that their domain name is www.mofo.com.
Re: The title is too long!
The typical use case of the Arduino series of boards is 'industrial control', for definitions of industrial control that range from home automation through building a better mousetrap and flashing-light fluffy bunny toy for baby through semi-autonomous death robot.
Projects are more about the hardware interface side of things than the software. You have a really simple programming language (subset) that non-coders can learn by hacking around in the most appalling manner (remember learning BASIC on your ZX81 ), with the crutch of a bunch of libraries that just appear when you need them to interface to the various I/O connectors. As you run in to problems, you dig a bit deeper and learn a bit more.
Add in a wide variety of cheap off-the shelf daughter-boards that provide PWM motor control, stepper motor control, multi-relay boards, wireless communications between Arduinos, sensors, flashing lights and (probably) death dealing lasers, plus a community of people who hack around with electronics in an even less structured way than their dreadful approach to coding.
Give that lot to anyone technically inclined but not experienced in industrial control and you'll find it is another really great example of the 'learning by doing' approach to things that the Pi people are trying to push for the coding side. The fact that they have brought out a faster board with more memory and more connectors is great news for those of us with ambitions to build the ultimate death machine.
Re: Rule of Thumb
"...Apple maintains a view that a phone's display should be easily navigated with just one thumb..."
Yes, just been assaulted by the latest 'iPhone 5 - your thumb' TV advert, so they are definitely still peddling that line. For (allegedly) incredibly smart designers of products and UIs, that is one of the dumbest self-imposed constraints imaginable, same as the 'nobody wants a 7 inch tablet' thing, despite the fact that they are flying off the shelves and lots of people (without gorilla-sized hands and arm muscles) don't want to lug around a large tablet or take steroids to be able to hold it for more than five minutes.
Of course most users will want to be able to operate their Smartphone UI with a swipe of their thumb whilst on on the move without having to juggle it from hand to hand. But users have different sized hands; my 11 year old, my wife, me, a 7 foot tall basketball player, etc. One size does not fit all; my child's dinky HTC/android is the perfect size for her, too small for me to use comfortably, and vice-versa.
Of course users (many users I suspect since bigger is so obviously always better) would actually like a bigger display on their smartphone regardless of thumb reach. Some because they want to display more content, some because it's cheaper than buying a big car with a long bonnet, and some (like me) because we're getting old and have poor eyesight so would like a scalable UI on a bigger screen SO WE CAN READ EVERYTHING IN 1" HIGH LETTERS.
The answer is of course bleedin' obvious (and therefore despite being obvious and probably a load of prior art Apple will eventually cotton on and win yet another patent battle over things so obvious that they should not be patentable). The UI and the screen do not have to be the same size (gasp!). A simple 'thumb reach' calibration exercise could be performed and the parts of the UI that need to be one-thumb operable constrained to the area reachable by the current user (I'm thinking the important parts of the home/icon screens, dialler, etc).
Clearly such an approach would require Apple and App designers to think a bit differently about how they lay out their UI's, and not every App/UI element would be suit such an approach, but I'd contend that a lot of the problem areas would be things that you would be better off operating with two hands/thumbs anyway (e.g. pinch/zoom, game controls, etc.) It would probably also necessitate a move away from fixed-sized bitmap-type UI elements in the direction of a scalable vector system, but again with increasing processor and graphics subsystem horsepower now commonplace, that has to be the obvious way to go, otherwise every single app has to be re-written every time the screen DPI or size changes!
Oh and I guess whilst you're calibrating for thumb size, you could check whether the user is "holding the phone the wrong way" thus dealing with another design issue that has cropped up before.
Re: 3.3 TB?
"Given that a microsd card can store a day's worth of recordings,"
3GB = 10^9 Bytes, 3TB = 10^12 Bytes, so that would be 1,300 3GB Micro SD cards, which would still fit in the container, but to be honest you could probably manage with a cardboard box strapped to the luggage carrier on your bicycle.
"Upvote if you argee. Or, downvote if you argee."
I would, but unfortunately the forum system only permits either an upvote or a downvote, not both. I'd hate you to think I am argeeing when in fact I am argeeing.
Re: Am I the only one ...
No, just the usual web start-up approach to life, i.e. "Let's get the product launched quickly and cheaply, build a user base and worry about boring stuff like security later." To be fair, if you dig back not so many years you'll find plenty of (now) household names that were regularly exposed for schoolboy security errors for exactly the same reason.
Unfortunately (for this lot), it's harder to get away with it for very long these days, especially if your hubris has the potential to end up costing punters actual cash money as this case appears to demonstrate.
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