713 posts • joined 24 Jul 2009
Good idea, though I wouldn't bet on the average airport Wifi deployment having been designed to support even local high-bandwidth transfers of the sort that this would involve (assuming 700-1500MB per film and a user uptake of >1 user per 30-minute period).
Same, only more so, goes for using terminal wifi to get a film from iTunes (unless the airport has some sort of amazing backbone plugged straight into an Apple datacentre).
DRM for rentals? well, alright.
For purchased files? At $15 a go? You're having a %^&*ing laugh, especially given that most larger airports (of the sort where this scheme is likely to be feasible) will have tax-free shops with an HMV/Zavvi or whatever where you can probably get an optical-media copy of the same film for the same price or less.
Once again, a good idea ballsed up by moronic industry thinking. *sigh*
I've got of the order of 300 films on DVD, and at least another 250-odd TV shows on DVD.
Even if we're generous and assume that the $2/disc thing would apply to TV shows (HAH! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! *wipes tear from eye*), that would still put me in a position of paying $1100 (or, let's be realistic, £1100 if the service arrives in the UK) for the "privilege" of a licence to stream-only SD versions of my films and tv shows when I've already paid for them.
Given the amount of time involved in ripping all of these discs, I could *almost* be convinced to spend *some* money on doing this. But at that kind of price, for a time-limited streaming licence? %^&* that and %^&* them.
Re: @AC 12:19
I would've thought the answer to that was perfectly obvious, but *I* do. And so does anyone else who realises that for $0 and marginally more effort than taking part in this UV program, they can rip their own DRM-free digital copies at home, which remain usable for as long as they retain the data.
I've got no objection to charging for an upsell (eg if you've got the DVD, a $5 to get a digital version of the HD version seems ok) - but I want to own the %^&*ing thing. Not a limited licence controlled by them, full control of the file. If they don't want to give it to me, fine. I'll stick to buying discs and go from there.
Re: @AC 12:19
"Most people don't care" when a *SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE* is encrypted, because the point of a SUBSCRIPTION SERVICE is that you SUBSCRIBE. Are you getting a bit of a clue here about where the problem might be, given that the punter in question starts out with a product that they OWN?
Hint: when you OWN something, you pay *once*. When you SUBSCRIBE, you pay *repeatedly*.
Hence my point that, if they want me to trust them and get on board with this scheme, I need to be able to believe that my one-off purchase of a licence based on my media will neither have a calendar-based expiration date nor any non-optional upgrade requirements. (ie "Oh, we're no longer offering access to the SD/720p/1080p versions now because the NEW STANDARD is 50BAJILLIONp. Click here to begin the wallet-fisting process of giving us all your money^W^W^W^W^W upgrading your licence" nonsense).
Yes, I sound condescending here, but to be fair you've gone out of your way to not understand the point we're making and pretend that the industry concerned somehow *doesnt* have a substantial number of greedy bastards attached to it...
Re: At last!
The upsell to HD (assuming you've got a full-HD screen and HTPC for playback) could, maybe, be an advantage of this, and is at least a sign of some clever thinking ("Try and do *this* with your DVD copy!"). But it's still the ownership>licence transition that's the problem. Who, really, is going to trust the UV licence holders to not start bolting on non-optional "upgrade fees" or licence expiration dates once they've got people tied in? That's what they've always done with the hardware in the past, and now that hardware doesn't have to be a limitation I totally expect them to try and recreate it in software.
Therefore, %^&* 'em. Time will tell if they're playing the same game of silly buggers or not, but most of the companies behind UV have taken far longer than they should have done to move with the times, so if they want my trust and confidence they can earn it.
(Compare this, for example, to the likes of Valve and Steam - where providing game progress syncrhonisation across multiple platforms, or providing platform-independent multiplayer and access to out-of-print games are used to provide customers with reasons to use the service, despite the downside of no longer having physical media for the game itself...)
Goddamnit. I was trying to work out the downside to this scheme
And then, as usual, it turned out to be %^&*ing DRM.
I think I'll stick to ripping my discs at home then. If you're going to charge me for the privilege, I expect full control, not a licence. Especially not a licence that some greedy gimboid can rescind in future for no real reason other than "we'd quite like you to pay us again for that film, please". (Same major fail underpinning the "digital copies" provided with DVDs - the only film I own that came with one was Predators, and the small print advises me that my licence for that film will expire 2 years after I validate it...)
Re: Actually this is a big problem...
Surely the simple solution there is to require someone to attend a $TELCO store in person and present ID before being given the replacement SIM? Especially if it's a business phone.
I mean, yes, there are problems here, but mainly of the "Humans durr da durr durr" variety rather than the more-exciting-sounding-but-less-probable "ZOMG! THE TECHNOLOGY, IT HAS GONE EEEEEEEEVIL!" variety...
Re: Oh get over it!
No, mate, that's so far from how it works you'd be best off measuring the distance in astronomical units.
You're conflating two things:
1) the assertion on the part of the submitter/creator that they are in fact either the originator of the piece or the holder of the salient rights, and
2) the provision of a licence to the charity to exploit these images.
For the purposes of the charity, a non-exclusive licence to re-use the material (with attribution of the creator) would be perfectly suitable. The only reason this *doesn't* happen is if someone started with a private purchase contract template, wherein buying exclusive control of all rights would be the norm to maximise the exploitation potential for the material created.
The old saying about attributing malicious motives to stupidity comes to mind, though knowing some folks and some of the schemes claiming to be charities it could equally be both.
Re: Been failing for 15 years +
I agree, to a certain extent. The existence of a parallel economy for second hand games isn't a bad thing in itself (though it has been rendered largely irrelevant by digital distribution platforms) - the problem was that various retailers decided that, because the margins can be better in second-hand games, they should focus on second hand games. At which point it was only a matter of time before the publishers decided that the retailers may have fired the first shot in the war, but those who make the content would fire the last one...
Not that it'll make you feel any better, but games *arent* the only industry you get this shit in. Try comics if you feel like you've got some sanity going spare - all the issues that afflict videogames are present, and the same moronic mentalities are present from all parties concerned. Just try getting a rational explanation for why 20-odd pages of comics cost north of £2.50 (even with adverts in the issue), why the digital editions mostly cost the same as the print editions, or why the collected editions cost as much as the single issues (even if they're reprinting material ages old that has clearly covered its creative costs waaaaaaaaaaaay back). And that's before you get to the numpties who'll tell you that if you don't feel a moral obligation to support retailers still clinging to a business model from the stone age, you're a bastard who's killing the entire medium...
Re: Sad times for staff.
Yeah, I do feel sorry for the staff. It's unlikely that the staff from any particular branch are responsible (or even able to influence) the kind of knobheaded thinkinging (or lack of thinking) that's put GAME in this position.
Re: Of course there is
Heh, you've reminded me of the local game shop I used to frequent as a teenager. Not only did they have demo units set up, they also offered rentals and best of all, they had an arcade-style setup in the basement with a load of tvs and several of each of the current home consoles installed, where you could play any title they had in stock for cheap (I think they charged based on 15-minute increments, but it was a nifty way of trying out games that you weren't too sure about).
Quite why the brick & mortar retailers haven't, in the 7 or 8 years that Steam has been a going concern, figured out how to monetise their spaces in ways that are unique to meatspace is beyond me, but the nature of the market is such that they'll only get so many chances to try.
I suspect GAME's current decline is in part down to game publishers having decided that retailers can shove off if they're going to continue trying to exploit a parallel economy as their core revenue source...(see Penny Arcade for insight & lulz - http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/8/25/)
The best power-up bar none was clearly the Electro-Bastard Ray, as much for the name as its effect :D
The BBFC were sadly too po-faced to realise that Carmageddon was basically an OTT game version of the 1975 "classic" Death Race 2000. I remember getting the Christmas-themed demo and later, the complete game, and being impressed at the work that went into the physics engine for allowing damage to the cars as well as the "drive anywhere you want" world design.
The soundtrack was also excellent - instrumental versions of a bunch of metal/industrial songs of the time including several tracks from Fear Factory's Demanufacture, IIRC. I have Carmageddon to thank for exposing me to FF, as it happens :)
Oddly enough, the more recent Carmageddon: TDR 2000 was in most senses a more refined or polished game but , to me at least, lacked to goofy charm of the original.
Bit of doublethink there, surely?
So they object to ePad which is different to iPad but "similar", because "iPad is such a well-known brand"?
If it's so well known (and it's hard to argue otherwise), then surely there could be no confusion amongst the target audience unless a product marketed under the ePad name were to have the same appearance and smug marketing gimmick as the iPad?
Or am I being overly simplistic here?
Re: @Captain Underpants: Or you could try some original thinking:
How does replacing one group of policymakers with lots of groups of policymakers help? I mean, within a given country you'll still have boundaries for policy enforcement and the more differing regional policies you have the greater effort you spend on defining what the boundaries are and how to deal with edge cases.
Re: Placebo effect.
@Robinson - the placebo effect *is* powerful, but it's also complex and, as you might expect given the number of interacting complex systems that make up the average mammalian organism, difficult to predict without an awful lot of information. So let's not go and pretend that we can just toss out armchair judgements with any useful sort of accuracy, yeah?
Also - if you don't want actual scientists helping to frame policy, who do you prefer? Given the choice between someone with expertise in the area and someone without, I'll take the expert every time even if they tell me something I don't like. Better to hear it now than eg in ten years time when the policy in question is a colossal failure and an embarrassment for everyone attached to it, surely.
(I'm not saying the Climate Change policy is a great idea, but I suspect it's a great case of "good intentions, %^&* implementation")
Re: Education does not equate to Knowledge
@David Kelly - are you seriously trying to suggest that ignorance is a better alternative?
In a world where there are an awful lot of interesting & complicated things that interact with other interesting and complicated things in interesting & yet more complicated ways, we've got pretty much two options in terms of how we approach centralised governance:
1) Central governance appeals to specific individuals with specific expertise in particular areas, and heeds their advice on how to achieve particular goals relating to those areas, or
2) Central governance decides that it knows best about all topics in all areas, and makes %^&* up as it goes, occasionally having an unpleasant case of insight whereupon it realises (for mercifully brief periods of time) that it might not actually know best.
It may be difficult to rationalise, for example, a "tough on drug crime" social policy when evidence tends to suggest that the criminal penalties for drug possession are not proportionate to the measurable individual or social harm associated with their usage, but on the other hand a social policy based on scientifically validated research concerning those drugs is less likely to be an embarrassing failure a few years down the line. (Of course, such a principle also makes it harder to continue levying ever higher taxes upon the consumption of two noxiously harmful but socially accepted intoxicants....)
Individual scientists (or even groups of scientists) can balls things up and/or act the bellend. The scientific method as a whole, however, ensures that no crap science can escape detection. (Where "crap science" is of course a moving target, but let's not get distracted).
Anyway : TL,DR version is "shove off bellend, science FTW".
Re: Shame on you ASA
I know, it's almost like the ASA are a toothless waste of %$^&ing space, isn't it?
Wait, drop the "almost" there and replace it with "exactly". *sigh*
It's still less exploitative than the scumbags who were posting RasPis on eBay for £50 a go yesterday. (Though the bellends who bought them deserve to have the money taken off them for dealing with scalpers, frankly. Possibly some sort of Bellend Tax?)
Re: Re: Unequal extradition?
If there's anything that would make me oppose the idea of that bellend going on trial in the US, it's the possibility of him getting the death penalty and subsequently becoming a martyr. That way we'd never stop hearing about him, and %^&* that for a game of soldiers.
Actually, you *did* get the announcement that Raspberry Pi promised you which is strictly speaking the reason for which you set your alarm.
Not getting a guaranteed order for one of the first 10K units is a different matter, but then if both RS and Farnell have seen their sites falling over under the load I'm guessing there were >>10K people wanting one of those first 10K units, so plenty of folks walk away disappointed.
Don't get me wrong, I think you make some good points (well, I disagree with 5, because $%^& 'em - if RS or Farnell didn't want to be dealing with this, they shouldn't have agreed to carry the fscking thing. It's nobody's fault but their own if they totally failed to correctly plan for demand on a highly-anticipated product). But this is, fundamentally, a first-wave release of a gadget. Nobody was holding any guns to anyone's head, so let's park the disappointment and the entitlement issues and act like mature human beings. (YEah, I know, that's not what the internet is for, etc...)
Re: Re: so much whining
Heh, I've been resigned to waiting a while because I want half a dozen. One for my nephew to see if it gets him interested in tinkering (he's at the right age where something like this could bite him with the geek bug), and the other five for myself to build a tiny dev/learning network and learn how to break/fix DNS/DHCP/NIS/etc as implemented in Fedora...
So Peak Oil is dead because we've gotten a bit better at extracting the still by-definition limited fuels in question from underground? I'm all for human ingenuity as a solution to the problem, but I'd much prefer a renewable option, eg those clever folk in California working on genetically-modified bacteria that can photosynthesize hydrocarbons.
I think you and I have different ideas of what the point of Peak Oil actually *was*, Andrew.
Interesting story, but it would have been nice if Joyce's stance on the link between downloading copyrighted content and theft had, you know, *anything* to do with the story. (Was he trying to "liberate" someone else's drinks when the scuffle kicked off? Or was it just that sticking Freetard in the headline was likely to attract more clicks?)
I could be wrong, but....
...is this not just Flash storage, like all other technology ever invented, has limitations dictated by the physical properties of the materials used in their manufacture?
The mascots aren't the problem, and neither are the franchises
The problem Nintendo has is in moving past its comfort zone for gaming types.
Take New Super Mario Bros on the Wii at least - sure, it's got gimmicky controls (which quickly get tiresome). But the actual game is basically a remix of the NES Mario games, and whatever nostalgia I had for them having played them the first time around was insufficient to make me really want to play it all the way through. Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine and Super Mario Galaxy show a good progression of new gameplay ideas to at least keep you engaged.
Blazing Angels is amazing in that it's one of the earliest Wii releases and yet one of the best demonstrations of an innovative control system that really adds to the game. Similarly House of the Dead and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories make use of the controls in ways that add to the game.
So the main issue here is that Nintendo's in-house franchise games didn't innovate anywhere near as much as they should have done. You've only got to look at the complete cackhandling on Metroid Other M to see this demonstrated. It might be good, the control scheme ensured that I didn't get more than 15 minutes into it before deciding I couldn't be arsed.
It doesn't help that Nintendo's approach to downloadable content and games is straight out of 1995. There are some great games on whatever they call the Wii shop interface, but there's no effort to promote it whatsoever. Even the VC, a great way to turn emulator-playing freetards into legal customers, isn't promoted much.
Of course, what we're really talking about is a large and occasionally very successful Japanese company being slow to innovate, and there are management issues at root there. If you disagree, you may want to read up about the numerous instances of dickery where Nintendo of Japan screws over Nintendo of America (or more commonly Nintendo Europe) just to make clear who's boss.
I hope they don't, but if they go the way of Sega they'll only have themselves to blame...
Re: Re: HAH!
I must look like I was born yesterday if you think I believe that the source of all the ills was The Big Nasty Scary Boogeyman Known As The R'egh-ooo-laytor.
I've no doubt that there was bellendery of epic proportions from regulatory bodies (possibly well-intentioned, just to add to the misery/comedy), but mobile operators have for years managed to be, if not their own worst enemies, then at least up there in the top 3. When we look at the ongoing "here, we'll give you the latest shiny shiny handset at only 3x the cost over the contract period - and with crap, carrier-restricted software to boot - if you renew your contract" nonsense, or the amount of time and money they spent trying to pretend that MMS was a viable and useful solution rather than just an attempt to reinvent the unexpectedly profitable SMS concept for the data-enabled phone (and shooting themselves in the foot by making most if not all MMS-capable phones also email-capable, providing punters with an easy way of using a service that was both cheaper than MMS and more robust/familiar....).
I'm sure external influences have also been a problem for mobile operators, but a substantial amount of their business thinking appears to have been done with someone's arse instead of the conventional headmeat. Not to mention that at least some of them have the kind of government mates who can help eliminate tax bills of the order of hundreds of millions of pounds even in the middle of government-mandated austerity economic policies...
Does this Analysys Mason paper suggest the idea of not participating in an unsustainable race to be the cheapest* provider as part of its ways of making a profit? Or is that too obvious/un-exploitable-via-commercial-software an idea?
I'm not 100% convinced about your English comprehension skills, actually :P It sounds like what you *actually* got was one of VM's regular attempts to get you onto a higher service (with corresponding higher tarrif) and failed to notice that the "Free" stuff in question was a carrot being dangled as part of the upsell. If you upgrade to getting some of the SD non-free package (which would not typically include the HD channels) and they then decide, as part of that transaction to give you those HD channels at no additional cost, you would get those channels for free.
The fact that your total expenditure is non-zero does not mean that you did not get a defined product or service at no cost.
(No, I don't work for 'em, I'm a subscriber and get regular adverts from them and TBH I've yet to see one that was any more misleading than the average advert...)
I suspect there's a strong case to be made for the theory that all parties involved have, to some extent, been dicks in terms of patent trolling.
Having been on the receiving end of patent-troll bellendery doesn't excuse Apple from initiating more patent-troll bellendery of their own (though no doubt they'd argue that their particular brand of patent-troll bellendery was intuitive and a new paradigm in bellendery design and manufacturing).
Oh, it is to laugh :)
Trevor, I want to one day live in a world where I can get the beancounters and management to sign off on the money/time required to give the people I support *the tools they want in a way that works*.
I know the dream is to have an awesome, simple, well-documented setup - but that's not always possible. Try working support in academia some time, and see how far you get when you're providing support for a senior academic who "knows" how to use computers and therefore does not accept anything you say about computing or IS which doesn't fit their personal paradigm of computing (in which, I should add, the role of the sysadmin is basically a sort of digital sweepie, because of course if the sysadmins had any brains at all they wouldn't be sysadmins, they'd be academics!).
"Don't get in your own way" is great advice, but it applies to far more people than just sysadmins.
Agreed. Can't help but suspect a lot of this is the Jobsian mandate of a nuclear war on Android.
Load of nonsense, anyway. It's sad that a whole load of money will be wasted on these sort of legal spats before either:
1) shareholders point out that the money pissed away in legal squabbles is approaching or greater than the amount a settlement would have cost, without satisfactorily resolving the issue or
2) government body/bodies point out that this is not the intention of patent laws and that they need to cop the %^&* on or risk losing their patents (Oh, how I wish there were an icicle's chance in hell of this actually happening...)
Feckin' kids today, etc.
Let's remember, for a moment, that we're talking about the name under which a corporation sells us a piece of frigging confectionery here. The choice of name, really, has about as much weight as a mousefart in the greater scheme of things. Those of you claiming otherwise are basically waving your canes around and muttering "Well, back when I were a lad mumble mumble" *snore* "AAAAGH! THE KAISER'S OUT TO GET ME!"
The options you get re: recommendations seem to vary based on the device you use. On the Wii I only get the choice to rate stuff I've seen or that they recommend, but on the website interface there's a "not interested" option. I've been making a point of spending 10 or 15 minutes now and again going through their library to tell them about stuff I've liked or disliked, just to try and get the recommendations up to snuff.
What's your broadband like? I'm on a 50MB Virgin Media cable service and the limiting factor for display quality is either the playback device (when using it on the Wii) or the screen (my home TV is 720p-only, desktop PC can do full HD).
As for the Linux support, I agree it's cack but calling a streaming service like Netflix or Lovefilm something you've "bought" is to misunderstand the nature of a rental service. And it's not exactly like they lied about having Linux support, not that this helps much.
Only if you're clever and make use of the ensuing publicity - I've not seen any statements from Bohemia about how the game in question is currently available (or part of a series whose most recent release is available in shops now for the low low price of $VALUE), nor have I even seen any official statement that they still make games!
Not to mention that after all the guff about whichever FPS it was last year that appeared to feature a "go on a killing spree as a terrorist killing innocents" (which is of course magically much worse than going on a legitimate "only killing evil terrorist types" killing spree), being the development house who made a game that ITV claimed was a depiction of IRA terrorist activities isn't necessarily the best advertising out there....
I see your point, sort of, but unfortunately it doesn't really hold water.
Bohemia would only be overjoyed at the publicity if there were any chance in hell that it would lead to greater revenues or sales for them.
I don't imagine that there's an enormous overlap between the two groups labelled "ITV documentary viewers" and "Potential FPS gamers eager to spend money on titles with which they are currently unfamiliar". So if there's no money for them to make, why would they give a mousefart about "the publicity"?
To put it another way - if copyright holders expect, fairly reasonably, to be compensated when someone makes use of their work in a commercial context, why should a broadcasters' in-house production company be exempt from that rule?
Bias? We've heard of it
Yeah, I'll believe how much Facebook is totally contributing to economic growth when we get figures from someone who's not being paid by Facebook.
I can sort of see how FB, Twitter ect can be integrated into a company's existing customer interaction processes, but on the other hand I've seen various companies who seem to think a Facebook page is an adequate substitute for a dedicated webpage, and most of the time the quality of information available (or usually not available) tells me everything I need to know to decide that they're not getting my business....
The thing about the ITIL standard is that it contains absolutely *nothing* that will prevent you from building an efficient and helpful structure with a helpdesk as the frontend.
But it's also possible to comply with a lot of the standard while still bodging up the implementation so that it's obscure, obtuse and bloody stupid. (This is why the current ITIL standard has an iterative refinement aspect and introduces the idea of the customer's experience being an important factor, I think.)
I generally find that a lot of the hatred aimed at ITIL around here is misdirected, and would be better aimed at the fools who insist that it's possible to set up an entire working support system and infrastructure over a weekend, with no resources, documentation or decision-making authority.
You would *hope* (possibly in vain) that they wouldn't be stupid enough to need El Reg to tell them about the infamous Ocean Marketing incident.
TBH, there's a good possibility that this wasn't a case of the entire company Being Evil, just one employee/team having been given crap advice internally (or a target to minimise refunds through any means necessary). The tried-and-tested protocol in such cases is:
1) Deal with normal support channel, documenting dates & times of contact along with promises made;
2) If this proves unsatisfactory, request escalation to a manager. You need to be sure that you've got a legitimate complaint and that you have described what you expect from the support team (and why you think it's reasonable).
3) If escalation doesn't resolve the issue (or is refused) go to complaints team first (copying the original support team on the complaints.
4) If complaints procedure fails, invoke Tactical Nuclear Vulture/Webcomic/Other High Traffic Site Of Your Choice.
Beer for El Reg because it sounds like you collectively deserve one for helping bring an end to Ms. Perry's misery.
@El RegAny chance of a follow-up article, given the circumstances described at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-16498261 and the substantial rise in Kodak stock valuation?
Yeah, that's what keeps getting me.
What kind of idiot thought that, having had problems for several years, letting the CEO continue working to a contract where making hundreds of millions of dollars of losses would be rewarded with millions of dollars?!
No doubt at the same time all the lower-down plebs were on salary freezes with bonuses a distant memory while "the company tightens its belt to find a viable future". Been there, done that (for a large multinational whose then CEO was later found guilty of embezzling funds, as it happens).
@Dr Paul Taylor
Yes, but it's one thing to have a search result for the term (which can presumably be justified by providing some of the sample data that Google have aggregated and processed to create the page ranking). It's another to suggest the term in an autocompleted field.
As I understand it the issue is with the autocomplete suggestion, not the search results themselves (though no doubt the firm would like to be shot of those results too if they could find a way to justify it...)
Google's autocomplete suggests phrases and combinations of search terms based on what you type so far.
So anyone searching for Lyonnaise de Garantie with autocomplete on will see the term come up in a drop-down list of options. Which isn't going to be encouraging.
I'm in two minds about this:
On the one hand, if the autocomplete suggestion is only there because there are substantial numbers of discussion threads/blog posts/websites making the allegation about Lyonnaise de Garantie, it's hardly Google's fault that a load of other people think the company's misbehaving.
On the other hand, autocomplete is one of those functions in Google that has long struck me as an answer to a problem nobody has - an extension beyond necessity of the ability to suggest alternative options for search queries containing typographical errors.
As someone else said above, though - I'm sure Google are quaking in their boots over a $65 fine, though I'm sure their lawyers are worried about the precedent this sets.
I think the point is that Android is in one sense built around the idea of datamining the individual and profiling them in such a way that Google can use the information to sell ads.
Whether or not there's another tablet-oriented version of Linux that is as easy to support (from a hardware manufacturer perspective) and with as good a selection of software for the goals pursued by the OLPC project is for someone other than me to say...
@Richard Taylor 2
Way to fail at Wikipedia, my good sir. Did you notice the link at the very top of the page you posted, labelled "Football (disambiguation"? Its at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Football_(disambiguation) in case you're curious, and starts off with the following line:
"Football refers to any of several similar team sports of similar origins that involve advancing a ball into a goal area in an attempt to score."
Perhaps this will help you get over the fact that, in the English language, there is more than one word that can be used to describe the sport in question and that the one you happen to prefer is more ambiguous than you care to admit.
It sounds like part of your problem was, originally, not being particularly well organised ("spend an hour hunting around for old mIRC"? Really? Once, maybe, but every time you set up a new machine? Fool me once etc).
That being said, if you've gone through 18 client machines in 7 years (presumably through choice rather than buggering the hardware up) and use several devices for connectivity, your setup starts to make sense.
What sort of security do you have for inbound connections? It sounds like you're set up for external access - is that right?
You need VMware Server - it's free, though now out of support and obsolete. It runs on various flavours of linux, though for version 2 Ubuntu seems to be the only non-enterpise version.
For the VM licensing it gets fiddly. If you run Ubuntu as your host OS but want to have 3 separate Windows XP VMs, the normal assumption is that you'd need 3 licences. If you won't ever run more than 2 at a time, you might get away with having 2 licences, but I wouldn't want to bet on it unless the terms of your license explicitly allow you to count licences in this way.
There are tutorials on setting up VMware Server for Ubuntu and Fedora at http://www.howtoforge.com/how-to-install-vmware-server-2-on-ubuntu-8.10 and http://www.howtoforge.com/how-to-install-vmware-server-2-on-a-fedora-9-desktop, and advice on creating virtual machines in VMware Server at http://www.virtuatopia.com/index.php/Creating_VMware_Server_2.0_Virtual_Machines.
It probably helps if you're using a decent router at home rather than one of the freebie pieces of cack that ISPs are so keen to give new subscribers...
Yes, but no.
If your usage scenario is correct, you still have a new endpoint that needs to be managed for updates, etc. Steam in particular is a fucker and will install half a dozen runtimes along with Direct X when you install your library, which will then need updates along with the usual stuff.
I can *sort* of see the idea having legs *if you can do everything in the VM*, but if gaming and other system intensive stuff is still done locally, all you're doing is creating extra systems that you need to maintain over time to save on the pain of the initial migration/setup process.
At which point, why aren't you looking at booting from VHDs or booting directly to a virtual machine? (Yes, non-trivial to set up, but if you're *that* terrified of migrating from machine A to machine B, surely it's worth it...)
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