* Posts by Andy 73

181 posts • joined 9 Jul 2009

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Sneaky brown dwarf gives us a bright flash and astroboffins are confused

Andy 73

Slowly, the almost-sun..

..tapped out it's morse code message...

I

AM

ALIVE

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Brexit? Cutting the old-school ties would do more for Brit tech world

Andy 73

Politics

TLDR: You're leaving the UK because it's not left wing enough?

Oh, and you're still blaming us for our great great grandparent's colonialism.

Sorry.

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Adobe launches Spark: Amateur graphical fun!

Andy 73

Re: Spark

And not to be confused with Apache Spark either..

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Siri's maker finally unveils dev-tastic universal AI interface Viv

Andy 73

Ah, I love the smell of patents in the morning!

Colour me cynical (it's my favourite colour, after British summertime pink and grumpy bastard grey), but haven't we had software that converts a general query into an series of execution steps for a while now? Only this morning I ran a Hive query on a Hadoop cluster that took a general query and a set of metadata describing the domain and deployed and ran a long (oh Lord, it was long) series of software components across a cluster in order to give an answer back.

On the plus side, a developer who does a live speech recognition demo asking for tulips for his mother deserves either kudos or a wide berth.

1
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Hey, YouTube: Pay your 'workers' properly and get with the times

Andy 73

Re: The good times are over

@A Ghost

I really think the problem here is that the 'new technology' has introduced a generation gap that actually separates the young guns from the guys who know what they're doing. The result is that the new kids don't have anyone they're brushing up against that challenges what they do, that shows them 'better'. For a moment, just managing to produce a half decent 'tube video from your back bedroom is enough (seriously, search 'how to vlog').

I don't believe youtube has to die (but "do no evil" Google really should stop pissing in people's cornflakes). What I'd like to see happen is that the not so new medium starts to mature and people move beyond good enough and go back to trying to out do each other, learning from each other and building on what's gone before. The audience is certainly beginning to mature, and as tastes change, so will the content. I'm not sure we've experienced such a globally synchronising event since the early days of pop.

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Andy 73

Re: The good times are over

Ah yes, we demand free, because *some spurious reason* and we're too thick to realise that free stuff is not necessarily the same quality as paid.

Oh yes, and the fact that some uniquely talented individuals got obscenely rich from being uniquely talented apparently offends us, so we're going to prevent anyone from accidentally being successful and rewarded for being uniquely talented.

And we'll point to a novelty act and pretend that they're an example of why people shouldn't get rewarded for dumb luck and a bit of self-promotion. Because it's clearly unfair if you have people with enough dumb luck to be famous.

Then we'll celebrate! The good times are over. Now we've destroyed the incentive for those rare talents to hone their art, develop and evolve. Because we've got cat videos and an infinite supply of unthreatening teenagers singing in their back bedrooms (with a touching back story), so clearly there's nothing ****ing wrong with this picture.

Bill Hicks would have a field day with the retards who think that just because 'the man' is no longer wearing a suit, they've somehow got one over on the world. Well done you, enjoy sitting in your puddle.

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Andy 73

Re: They're going to milk what they can squeeze.

The problem is that there is a near endless supply of artists starting out their careers and happy to vlog, hype and sell every last drop of their early experiences.

The argument is that we end up with an infinite supply of 'debut albums' (which feeds the Google machine and undemanding viewers), but then reality kicks in and those artists realise they need to get a proper job that actually pays.

The effect is subtle (and I believe felt in the software world too) - we don't get a reduction in quantity, but we don't get deeper, more sophisticated content. There are fewer 'second albums', more software remains in perpetual beta, all that potential for something bigger and better is lost because the next step, where you learn from your craft and do it better is not economical.

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Docker hired private detectives to pursue woman engineer's rape, death threat trolls

Andy 73

Utterly unacceptable

It is quite simply unacceptable to behave in this manner, hiding behind anonymity is beyond pathetic.

What part of our education system fails to teach basic social skills?

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'Bring back xHamster', North Carolina smut watchers grumble

Andy 73

Re: Detail?

> Can you dumb it down a bit? Just a little.

I think the 'Mericans had done that for us already?

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Brit teen bags $250,000 in first World Drone Prix

Andy 73

Susceptible to optimisation

Looks to me from the video that there's probably a lot of optimisation that can be done to make a drone particularly suitable for that sort of course, and to implement various 'pilot aids' that would reduce errors.

A bit like Robot Wars - early series are about pilot skill, then people start to figure out the tech that will give them the edge.

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Tech biz bosses tell El Reg a Brexit will lead to a UK Techxit

Andy 73

Re: Freedom of movement.

> You mean under the control of the incompetent buffoons in Westminster. I doubt very much the control will extend to the rest of us.

Very true, but I'd rather the incompetent buffoons be local ones who you might occasionally look in the eye. There's no evidence that their European equivalents are any less incompetent or self-serving.

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Andy 73

Re: Freedom of movement.

As an 'out-er' I don't feel the issue of immigration is about 'stopping foreigners', and those that characterise the debate that way are only doing so to make a complex issue seem reassuringly simple.

The case for coming out seems to me about one of self determination and the democratic process. Under our own control, we would be in a position to decide how immigration should work in our specific case. I would hope that the democratic outcome would still allow for compassionate treatment of disposed people, and expect that it would also positively encourage immigration by much needed skilled workers.

The point here is that 'out' is not about pulling up the drawbridge or some xenophobic reaction to foreign nations. Britain outside the EU would still have the same deeply multicultural and broad political mix of people, and a democratically elected government that on the whole reflects the population. The discussion is not (and should not) be treated as though it were magically politically polarised.

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Andy 73

But neither does it emulate California whilst in the EU. The UK's interests are not the EU's interests as the derisory renegotiations have shown. However, being part of the EU means that being an agile business partner is made more difficult by the increased regulatory burden imposed by Brussels.

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Bill Gates can’t give it away... Still crazy rich after all these years

Andy 73

You could argue..

..that anyone smart and self-possessed enough to accumulate a >$10bn personal cash pile would be smart enough to not want anything to do with the current political system.

Much more interesting are the opportunities to genuinely alter the future course of mankind - eliminate disease, get us to Mars, better energy sources. It's reassuring that tech wealth seems to bring along a certain amount of visionary spirit.

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ADpocalypse NOW: Three raises the stakes

Andy 73

Oh dear

I know this'll be downvoted into the ground, but wow, the smug guys with the "What, you losers see adverts?" comments are pretty much the reason ads are about the only revenue model available to most web sites. These are the same guys who would rather spend a day figuring out how to get their precious content for free than pay less than a few minutes' income for that content. The sense of entitlement and the certainty of their judgement ("I would never pay for content on any but my favoured site") is deeply depressing.

I get the moral argument that you shouldn't be paying to have adverts served up to you. I get that Three want to offer a 'better' service to their customers (and get them used to the idea that the Network knows best). What I don't get is the determination of some people to erode the perceived value of content and to negate any business model that pays (very poorly) for that content. Adverts are certainly a pain, but it's the resistance of most users to actually pay anything at all for their precious content that pushes the advertisers to ever more extremes.

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When asked 'What's a .CNT file?' there's a polite way to answer

Andy 73

Heh

I was working on the booth of a games company a long, long time ago, surrounded by teenagers, when an elderly and slightly confused looking gentleman dug his way through the crowd.

"Do you have Magic Pockets?" he asked (a game produced by a rival firm).

"No Sir, it's just the way I walk".

That response kept me amused for... about two decades so far.

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NOTHING trumps extra pizza on IT projects. Not even more people

Andy 73

Re: DevOps

Whilst it's easy to mock, there are plenty of big 'experienced' IT companies who still cling to the separation of techops and developers, to the point where neither side actually understands what the other side has done to break something.

There are more than a few admins who take pride in very deep, but silo-ed knowledge that allows them to tune a server farm down to the bare metal, but doesn't allow them to predict that the next deploy is going to hammer the network into the ground.

Similarly, there are plenty of developers who 'fire and forget', assuming that the magic servers will cope with whatever lunacy they've come up with.

If the sum total of your big and expensive deploy is half a dozen webapps on a handful of load balanced servers, that might not matter so much. Let's be honest, its surprising what scale of business that sort of platform is capable of supporting.

On the other hand, if you're using disparate integrated systems, want to have a testing environment that vaguely resembles your production environment and are keen to buy into the continuous deployment process, then having people who are able to cross the line and get their hands dirty on both code and metal is probably a good thing. Give 'em a name so we can identify them as not being a generic undertrained IT guy.

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I love you. I will kill you! I want to make love to you: The evolution of AI in pop culture

Andy 73

GLaDOS

How could you say there haven't been stories about AIs without at least mentioning GLaDOS?

7
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Back to the Future's DeLorean is coming back to the future

Andy 73

Undeservingly poor reputation

It's a pity the DeLorean has such a poor reputation with armchair experts.

For a first product from an entirely new car company, it had about the number of problems you'd expect. Funnily enough Tesla has also had it's fair share of issues with new cars. Luckily for them they're significantly better financed and have been able to develop their product to the point where they're gaining serious respect.

DeLorean was very unlucky (and you could argue how much of that bad luck was self-induced), but the core of the car had potential - a big input from Lotus and a desire to try out new techniques and technologies. If it had been developed further, it could have been quite interesting.

This relaunch could resolve a lot of the early issues (though let's face it, the company is running on a budget that would barely develop a wheel nut), so it could be quite a fun car to own. I wish 'em luck. Without mavericks willing to try something different, we'd all be driving Volvos.. *shudder*

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Bringing discipline to development, without causing pain

Andy 73

So...

Article sponsored by Perforce says free software repackaged by Perforce is good?

Colour me surprised.

My experience of large, complex and geographically distributed enterprise development is that repository management is far less an issue than the integration of CI and testing environments. (Unless no-one wants to actually trust devs with a tool that tracks and can revert every change they make.) Discipline around who can see what is less important than the ability of teams at many different stages of the development cycle to independently commit, test and release changes.

Expensive management tooling on top of otherwise free tools does not solve these issues.

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IT contractors raise alarm over HMRC mulling 'one-month' nudge onto payrolls

Andy 73

BBC

The justification for all this of course is 'loopholes', but the effect could be disastrous as it is likely to reduce the mobility of the workforce - which at the moment is key to global competitiveness. Contractors telling tales of woe are unlikely to gather much sympathy (particularly when they exaggerate their claims), but this sort of change will affect employers and permanent employees as well, as it's encouraging a further shift in the relationship between business and staff.

On a lighter note, I gather that a lot of the BBC staff work on contracts that would normally look a lot like employment. Maybe they'll be encouraged to take a critical look at the proposals.

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'T-shaped' developers are the new normal

Andy 73

|Hmmm... click bait

Agile: Still misused in the majority of companies that 'practice' it.

Scala: A nice way to identify developers who chase the shiny. Tooling still weak, maintenance hard.

Java 8: Late, but not late enough to let scala mature.

Lean: We want more results with less effort. Or pay. Or organisation.

Dev Ops: Vital now that we have an ecosystem that resists attempts to achieve stability.

T-shaped: You may want it, but HR will just apply the buzzword checklist at random and screen out the guys who can help.

Cynical: me.

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El Reg celebrates Back to the Future Day

Andy 73

You think this is weird? The Ghostbusters are all women!

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An Internet of Things music thingy? What, you’ve already got one?

Andy 73

You have a phone with an HDMI output that costs less than £30? Wow, well done.

Personally I have no problem with Google knowing I watch Danger Mouse on catchup. If I want privacy, I probably won't be browsing YouTube or iPlayer.

Nice tinfoil hat by the way.

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Andy 73

Chromecast

I'd be the first to evangelise Google's offering - a fraction of the price of this and with very little effort I have my entire back catalogue of music on hand, with a slick interface for browsing and selecting stuff to play. Twice in the last week, I've been visited by the sort of people who this is aimed at (those not confident with technology), and both presented me with a CD (remember them?) and asked me if I could play it. Yes I could and if I cared to I could add it to my library to play again at will. It doesn't look like this Jukebox will play well with such external sources.

The price for this is awful, the business model is awful and the 'reward' to musicians is nice in theory but somewhat abstract in practise. If this were an Apple Keyboard, I'd give it 4 out of 5.

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Apple may face $900m bill after A7 CPU in iPhones, iPads ripped off university's patent

Andy 73

Re: Apple thieves - what a surprise

I wasn't suggesting the Apple case leant one way or the other, merely commenting on the idea of 'obviousness' and how that related to patentability.

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Andy 73

Re: Apple thieves - what a surprise

I'm sure there should be some distinction between innovation and application. In the example, the Dewar flask is the innovation, but deciding to keep coffee in it is a particular application. If I chose to deliver ice-cream in it, have I innovated?

Of course the subtleties of patent law make such trivial examples somewhat moot, but I'd argue the goal of patents should be the minimum legal structure possible to support investment in innovation - and no more. We can all agree that innovation is good, but artificial monopolies are bad.

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Doctor Who's Under the Lake splits Reg scribes: This Alien homage thing – good or bad?

Andy 73

Re: Miserable much?

Nice tail. The purple suits you.

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Andy 73

Miserable much?

You lot are miserable, we're rather enjoying this series. Some good dialogue, blink and you'll miss it references, Capaldi no longer worrying about whether he's allowed to be Doctor Who and at last stories long enough to catch breath.

Sure, it's not as good as a classic film with a million times the budget (let's just ignore how bad the rest of the Alien franchise got, and the dozens of other films of the time that tried and failed to go there), but it plays with some nice ideas and still brings the occasional surprise. Maybe I'm just not cynical/smug/self referential enough to see through this dumb kiddies programme, but on a Saturday evening, it goes down rather well.

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Only a CNUT would hold back the waves of the sharing economy

Andy 73

Re: You can buy a chainsaw for that.

You can... usually made very cheaply in China, which means increasingly unreliable start, questionable safety brake, poor ergonomics (which actually matters when you're holding a heavy, yet efficient cutting tool) and fragile materials.

The question is always - spend three times the price on one that should last three times as long, or go cheap? I went cheap.. and at this point the punchline should be that I'm typing this with my one remaining hand. However, I do need to buy a new chainsaw.

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Slander-as-a-service: Peeple app wants people to rate and review you – whether you like it or not

Andy 73

What is actually annoying

..is that those of us with the technical ability to create a decent X-as-a-service app/website/whaterver, and the self awareness and maturity to recognise the difference between a good idea and a very silly one are then faced with the challenge of getting press attention for our projects.

Yet a train-wreck like this can sail through everyone's sanity screens and land slap in the middle of a few international publications as a funded 'ongoing' (for the moment) business.

I appreciate that the ability to market an idea is a separate skill from the abilities to conceive or implement it, but it still grates.

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It's the white heat of the tech revolution, again!

Andy 73

White heat..

I believe you can trace the White Heat policies though to the Cambridge Phenomenon, which has begat a number of billion dollar companies. Not that I disagree with the general conclusions of the piece, but that indirect investment in centres of excellence... oh, hold on, those are universities aren't they?

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Cambridge University Hospitals rated 'inadequate' due to £200m IT fail

Andy 73

Re: Bah!

"Does the HL7 standard class as a "rich and immutable API"?"

.. I think it classes as 'just enough rope'.

Plus XML.

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Andy 73

Re: Bah!

I suspect you have misinterpreted the problems as being technical rather than political.

Certainly you could envisage a centralised core service that provides data store for patient information in an efficient and timely manner. You could imagine APIs that provide access, and means to extend the data and access methods as the use cases build up. I would imagine even the greenest developer could draw that on a whiteboard somewhere.

In practise though you discover that department A and department B want two different features delivered first, that department C wants to use a legacy system until they have the budget to replace it and department D will not sign off on anything until you can guarantee the system is a complete replacement for their entire patient record system. Not only that, but you must prove the entire project meets various bits of legislation around confidentiality and accuracy, but no-one knows which bits of legislation or can understand the legalese that they're written in. There are mutterings that new legislation is coming along shortly that will change things anyway. Worse still, that suits all the departments who have been relying on the vagueness of paper based records to 'work around' legal requirements. They will, of course expect your system to both meet the legal requirements and bend them to fit the existing processes at the same time.

Whilst all of this has been going on, some clever soul signs a three million pound contract to replace all the blood pressure monitors in the hospital with something that is completely incompatible with your data collection hardware. Despite the fact that another company provides a similar device that would work, you cannot amend the order as the manager in question doesn't want to loose face. In the mean time, the heart rate monitors you have planned to incorporate will not be available for another six months and the current equipment won't support the minimum requirements laid down by someone you've never heard of and cannot contact.

On top of all this, it turns out the provider of the tablets cannot support your APIs as they are, and due to restrictions on hardware procurement, you cannot simply go for a bog standard Android device and write your own client. You therefore have to write an entire translation layer that turns your realtime data collection into a series of web forms accessed through a third party database via SOAP calls. The project only takes a few weeks, but it's long enough for the company to go bust and the procurement process has to be restarted. When it is, the new requirement will be that the tablets must support the old manufacturer's obscure SOAP calls, preventing you from being able to ditch the unnecessary translation layer, and doubling the cost as the new manufacturer charges you to re-engineer their APIs.

Finally, in every meeting with the end users, you discuss workflows and current practices regarding data collection. In every meeting, they think of three new use cases, and outright contradict two of their previous descriptions. Like a good techie, you decide to make it all data driven so things can change in future, and you are told to embark on an expensive side-project to provide access and control over this meta-data so that the various stakeholders can feel in control. After six months of development it emerges that none of the stakeholders actually understands a thing about this project and that you will be solely responsible for collecting and maintaining the metadata anyway. And the users still can't actually agree what their workflow is.

Hell is other people.

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'A word processor so simple my PA could use it': Joyce turns 30

Andy 73

The story goes..

..that the reason for the layout of the drives next to the screen was that Amstrad found a large batch of cases manufactured for normal televisions being sold off cheaply when another manufacturer cancelled their order. So Alan Sugar bought them up for pennies and then had the machine designed to fit.

As with any of the many Alan Sugar legends, I've no idea quite how true it is though.

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WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Andy 73

You went to the lengths of hiring a real meerkat, but you're going to CGI the laptop in? I'm RADA trained, darling, of course I can type!

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Oh no, startup Massive Analytic unleashes 'artificial precognition'

Andy 73

Sorry..

.. my experience suggests that someone has been rather over zealous with the claims here.

The issue here is that most data collection simply doesn't have enough information to draw deep conclusions about end users, beyond simple 'people who like X also like Y' relationships. The problem is that most companies' views of users are restricted to browser sessions and occasional logins, and most interactions are of the form 'looked at X, bought Y'. The restriction here is that you don't know who is actually behind the keyboard at any given time, and inferring the reasons for their choices has to be based on extremely limited information.

Hence I visit Amazon regularly, buy items for niece and nephews' birthdays and occasional needs for my own wife and kids. In a recent list of 'recommended for you' I had a crochet kit and a hand axe besides each other - both utterly irrelevant and not reflecting the actual purpose of my visit that day or even the following year. Worse still, that's for a site that I visit (depressingly) regularly. Most sites suffer from customer loyalty that barely registers on the chart, meaning predictions have to be based on little more than the time of day and the location you logged in from.

Now undoubtedly you can improve the accuracy and timeliness of recommendations (the base level being random guesses from your marketing department), but the vision of precondition and overthrowing governments is far from the truth.

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Google bods reform DEMOCRACY in coconut or vitamin water quandry

Andy 73

Re: No thanks

When it's being used for deciding what drinks to have in the office kitchen, your paranoia is perhaps unjustified. No-one is suggesting we ditch our current system of corrupt politicians, lobby groups and uninformed masses for the moment.

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FBI collars exec who allegedly tried to nick secrets of game fronted by babe Kate Upton

Andy 73

Why do they play?

Because a lot of people have been trained to think that these things aren't worth anything, so why pay for a game?

Because the traditional games developers have found it very hard to monetise social and mobile platforms, so they don't develop decent games for them.

Because the vast majority of gamers are casual players who don't want to invest in a 'real' game.

Because Kate Upton.

Because sadly we're all a bunch of slightly evolved apes and we don't place much value on quality entertainment over a quick fix.

1
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Lights out for Ada Initiative – women's group closing shop

Andy 73

Re: So, a hotbed of ideologists mixed with Wiki and Scientology

I heard it took a little longer... maybe a minute and a huff.

0
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Wanted: beta testers for El Reg’s Android app

Andy 73

So...

Just for a short while, my app has more regular users than the total download of the Reg's offering.

Pity I can't get any decent money from it.

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UK.gov wants to stop teenagers looking at tits online. No, really

Andy 73

Thanks, Internet

We seem to be importing US-style prurient outrage wholesale.

Still, it's so much easier to see the world in black and white terms than to actually talk about education, understanding, support, diversity and the human condition.

5
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Just ONE THOUSAND times BETTER than FLASH! Intel, Micron's amazing claim

Andy 73

Re: A MAJOR breakthrough,

El Reg regularly reports on research, and regularly research goes nowhere, or takes decades to reach the consumer. Much of the excited research announcements turn out to be impossible to turn into a product that can be manufactured reliably, at scale and at a sane cost (see all of the articles on new battery technologies over the last 15 years).

So, the companies that make the money aren't just taking ideas and pressing the magic 'sell one of these' button, but putting in immense product development effort to deliver them to end users.

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Puppet draws back the curtain on devops magic with funky gfx and UI

Andy 73

A picture paints a thousand words..

... so where's the picture in the article?

5
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Ford's parallel PARCing: Motor giant tries to craft new tech just like Xerox

Andy 73

Times they are a changing

Whilst the step to fully autonomous everything is clearly a step to far for many to contemplate, it makes sense that all the small improvements - from vehicle-aware cruise control to self-parking are steadily changing our relationship with cars. You can understand that we're not just going to wake up one morning and hand the keys over to our smartphone, but the little conveniences are going to accumulate until we only need to take control of the car for the interesting bits.

Keen drivers might baulk at this, but we have to recognise that most car journeys are dull - commuting, school runs and supermarket trips. Who hasn't set off on an unusual journey and automatically turned left to go to work out of sheer habit? Between Uber, car sharing and cars that can deliver themselves, these boring journeys are ripe for handing over to the machines.

Now, the important question is - how much of this work is being done in the UK? We do some class-leading engineering in the automotive sector, but vehicle IT is a new niche and we're historically more interested in the greasy bits than the wiring. The integrated solutions that are going to be needed will likely have to be developed holistically, so there's a real possibility that we could get locked out of the industry. I'm sure there will be universities looking into this, but are there manufacturers out there ready to move this from theory to practice? It sounds like a great area to be involved in.

5
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Are you a Tory-voting IT contractor? Congrats! Osborne is hiking your taxes

Andy 73

Add more complexity

Whilst the government bothered to engage with IPSE before the election, and then have delivered a budget that staunchly ignores every point they raised, the biggest disappointment is that the new proposals are unnecessarily complex.

It's taken a long time for many advisors to figure out what they changes are likely to mean, and even then we're left waiting for more clarity. How the various tax bands interact, what allowances will and won't be available and how contractors can efficiently deliver their services has become a mire of paperwork and fag packet maths. This is not a sign of an efficient taxation system, but one that is driven by political positioning.

Where I'm working, there is a serious shortage of skilled workers able to move company IT on to the new platforms and tools. On my team of 12 people, just two are British citizens and the company struggles to find people to expand the team further. This end of the workforce needs highly mobile, specialist workers who take the risks on behalf of the larger companies that bring in their skills and experience. However, the government treats the sector as being indistinguishable from day rate brick layers and offers us similar levels of support - i.e. none whatsoever.

Differences in attitude towards entrepreneurial and small businesses here and across the pond are highlighted by the startup and high tech scenes, but it appears that we're too busy counting the pennies to take lessons from more supportive regimes.

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Don't touch this! Seven types of open source to dance away from

Andy 73

Measure of 'goodness'

The trap this immediately falls into is making the assumption that being open source is some measure of the saintly measure of a project or company. You may as well check whether the owners have made charitable donations or take in sick animals (no, not developers).

The intent behind open sourcing a project, and the actual end effect doesn't sit on some single continuum between 'evil and cynical' and 'advancing the cause of mankind' any more than the actual software itself is purely saintly or nasty.

When you engage with any project, open source or otherwise, the question has to be whether doing so will meet your goals - and you must recognise that your goals and the owner's goals may be many and varied and wildly different. Not good or bad, just more or less aligned. A single corporate committer may be quite acceptable if you simply need their current release to perform a task in a nice stable environment. Equally, a project may be of no use if its' large and active community wish to introduce breaking changes or pursue new developments that don't sit with your specific use case. Some projects open source a component so small that it's useless in isolation - like a new type of bolt for building an oil rig. Others open source the entire world safe in the knowledge that the chances of you being able to replicate a functional environment is nil - like being given the plans for a steam train with a note saying that building the rail network is a task left up to the developer. None of these are necessarily signs of good or bad intent - just different ways projects may be run.

The only consistent warning sign I've come across are those projects where the owner is enthusiastic to point out that the project is good simply because it's open source. Suddenly I get the strong whiff of snake oil.

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Game of Thrones: Where to now for headless Nintendo?

Andy 73

Mindshare

As our boy (age 10) was pretty invested with the Wii, we eventually upgraded to the Wii U. The Gamepad is a boon - he plays on the large screen, then carries on playing on the pad when someone else wants to watch TV. The production values remain as high as ever (he's just rattled through Yoshi's Wooly World, which is beautifully realised).

The problem is that the Wii U is not seen as a success - it doesn't get talked about the way the PS4 and XBOne, or even tablets do. That's perhaps the effect of Nintendo's attitude to third party developers finally biting them on the backside. The massive number of throwaway games in browser or on tablets and phones only serve to highlight how few third parties develop for Nintendo. Whilst the quality benefits, it means there are only a handful of cheerleaders for the platform. Rovio and the like benefit from network effects that mean in certain circles you only hear about their preferred channels. Our son knows all about every variation on Angry Birds etc. and that keeps him coming back to the tablet for yet more throwaway games as much as he will spend hours on a single game on the Wii U. In our household, the two platforms have parity, but only because we cared to find out about Wii U titles.

On top of that, the positioning leaves people confused - it's neither cheap nor powerful. What are you actually getting for your money besides access to well known Nintendo IP? The other consoles still sell on the idea of 'new stuff' (whether that's genuinely the case or not), whereas Nintendo has fallen into 'same old stuff, but prettier'. The benefits of the gamepad are not obvious when you see it in the store, and they've failed to capitalise on the extra screen where every other platform has embraced 'two screen media'. Every game and tv show has a back channel these days, yet Nintendo fail to provide that on their own platform that's designed from the outset to have a second screen.

0
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The Great Barrier Relief – Inside London's heavy metal and concrete defence act

Andy 73

Re: Silly Question Time

Concrete sets through chemical reaction, not drying. It'll happily set under water.

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Google's new view of the world takes two pics to make 'DeepStereo' 3D

Andy 73

Microsoft Photosynth

I presume there are patents at battle here...

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