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* Posts by Dr. Mouse

1116 posts • joined 22 May 2007

The more science you know, the less worried you are about climate

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Skepticism does not mean doubt

In many ways I have to agree that this seems the most plausible explanation: Those of a scientific mindset understand things and express themselves in different ways to those without.

For example, to take your deity example, a non-scientific person may say they think there is absolutely no chance of a deity existing. A person with a science background would think about it and say that they think there is a negligible chance of a deity existing.

To a lay-person these would sound the same, but the "scientist" is leaving the door open to the chance, even though they don't think the chance is large enough to make any difference.

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Google in the clear on Oracle patents

Dr. Mouse
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Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

Rather than just downvoting me for this, could someone please explain what I have got wrong?

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: The BBC as ever has got wrong

Unless I have missed something, Google HAS been found guilty of copright infringement by the jury over the APIs.

The caveat, of course, is that;

a) the jury could not decide whether they amount to fair use, and

b) the judge still needs to decide whether the copyright is valid (i.e. whether you can copright APIs).

So, technically, the BBC is correct. The descision could be overruled by the judge, though. Even if APIs are found to be copyrightable, Google will go for a mistrial (or something, IANAL) because they need an answer to whether the infringement was fair use.

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SpaceX does what it HASN'T done before: Dragon in close ISS flyby

Dr. Mouse
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Well done SpaceX!

There's still a long way to go, but they have made remarkable progress. Kudos!

But WRT:

"Such a launch abort capability is regarded as essential for manned flight, given the nature of launch rocket stacks (essentially huge lightweight towers packed with volatile explosive fuels, which will be set on fire and subjected to enormous stresses, heat and vibration)."

It often amuses me that, although we have come so far in terms of technology, we are launching things & people into space using basically the same technology as Chinese 10th-century fireworks: A lightweight tube filled with fuel and set alight. I know it's a lot more complex than that, but we send our astronauts into space using a huge firework.

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'Dated and cheesy' Aero ripped from Windows 8

Dr. Mouse
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Microsoft: Please U-turn!

I was at a recent tech expo and a bloke from MS previewed a load of their up-comming technologies. For a start, I was very surprised that they worked, and worked well, even though they were all in preview state.

Beyond that, I thought they were great ideas, even though they had all been done before (in other OS's etc), with one exception: Metro. It is great on a "slate" or anything with a touch interface. Using it with a mouse feels clunky and awkward, a bit like using Windows without a mouse attached. I could see the benefit of a single interface accross all their consumer platforms (phone, "slate" and PC), but this is not the way to do it.

I for one will be giving Win8 a miss till touch screen monitors for PCs come down to a reasonable price (and I've tried it out to make sure it's not too awkward).

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Button batteries BURN KIDS FROM INSIDE

Dr. Mouse
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Joke

"The incidents are no laughing matter"

I have to disagree, I nearly wet myself reading this article.

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Solving traffic jams with maths

Dr. Mouse
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Just within the surrounding cities I've seen light timings changed to unexpected values to cause idiots who think they are above the law or who don't watch where they are going to break the law

There, fixed it for you.

Although I will agree that road planner seem to spend more money trying to generate revenue than making an efficient transport network. They also seem to try to cause you to stop as often as possible, wasting fuel and generating more revenue for the exchequer.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Exactly

"I would caveat that one, no idea if sensors can pick up bicycles etc"

I'm sure some can. Most, however, cannot even pick up a motorcycle. I would know, the number of times I've been stuck at a red light for an extended (i.e. abnormal, much longer than I have ever waited in a car) period of time, to have the lights change a few seconds after a car pulls up behind me.

I now avoid such junctions on the bike when I know about them.

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Grab your L-plates, flying cars of sci-fi dreams have landed

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Power requirements

"The cost of buying and operating one of these things mean that they're only going to benefit the rich; so only a very small proportion of the population and no solution to urban congestion."

I'm sure a similar argument was made against cars in the early days. "They are too expensive, so they will only benefit the rich."

Except, as more rich people buy them, more are produced, production techniques improve and economies of scale start to have an effect. Soon (although it could be decades) people on "middle" incomes get to benefit, and eventually even the "poor" can afford a second hand one.

As for the rest of your argument, andvancement of technology would eventually improve the performance and power requirements. This is also likely to be decades away, but none of your arguments are good enough to say "Why not do something usefull" to those developing these vehicles.

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Germans hail Vulture 1 spaceplane

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Erm...

Yep, I had to have a bit of a chuckle at that. No offense meant, Lester, but you guys are not scientists. More like drunk reporters having a larf (Ang on, lads, we could make a paper aeroplane and send it into space! That'd be so cool! So who's round is it?)

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Princeton solar researchers take leaf from plants’ book

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Rough and Smooth

"covering the cell in a thin coat of transparent material"

I'm not certain, but I think that would cancel out at least some of the effects. From what I understand, the "roughenning" improves efficiency at least in part because it stops as much light being reflected due to it arriving at the wrong angle. If you add a layer of transparent meterial over the top, that light will be reflected still.

I have not read enough about this to know 100% if I am right, but it makes sense to me from this article. If I'm wrong, I'm happy for someone to let me know :)

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GCSE, A-level science exams ARE dumbed down - watchdog

Dr. Mouse
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Re: telling ?

"lets just approximate that 1.8 millions A level students per year... What is the statistical chance that from one year to the next enough of those 1.8 million are that much smarter than the year before. Statistically extremely unlikely."

That is why I said over 10 years. Maybe longer would be more accurate, but I was taking about a long enough timeframe that it would be possible for a significant shift in "ability".

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Dr. Mouse
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I'm gobsmacked! Over 25% get an A at A-level?!

Of course that only represents half the story. If the proportion of kid taking A-levels had reduced, so only the top 40% of those who used to were taking them, then this picture would add up to similar standards. However, I would suspect it has gone the other way, which is even more telling.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: The Bell Curve

I agree, to a point.

The problem is that this doesn't lead to equivalency in grading. If, over the course of 10 years, the ability of the students increases, it means an A grade is worth more. Similarly if the abilty goes down it is worth less.

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UK plc 'needs a chief engineer' - also a chief trick-cyclist

Dr. Mouse
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Re: There should be a cynic in the house of Lords

"12 people in compulsory employment to oversee government decisions. 3 months employment at a time, with people randomly selected from a list of registered voters"

I couldn't agree more with this.

I would consider it like jury service: Just pick a load of citizens, preferably from different backgrounds and areas of expertise, and have them oversee govt descisions for a few months at a time.

As for the article, I would say it was a step in the right direction. I would actually say that the Commons should not be the ones planning long term projects. They are only elected for a few years at a time, so the projects are viewed in terms of that. The Lords is the perfect place to have these long term projects dealt with, and would be the perfect place to have senior engineers/scientists etc sitting. They can take a long term view and plan things properly.

I think our current system has this fundamental flaw in that all plans must be made by the commons (who cannot see past the next election). Divide the labor between the two according to which is the most suitable place for it.

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Standing NEXT to an HTML coder is like standing NEXT TO GOD

Dr. Mouse
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LOL!

That's got to be one of the funniest articles I've ever read on the Registry! It even puts some of the BOFH stories to shame. Kudos!

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TV Now was too good, and that was its downfall

Dr. Mouse
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FAIL

I think this is absurd

I have set up this kind of service at home. Basically, I had a MythTV box, and all recordings were then available to me on any device (through a little custom jiggerypokery).

From what I have seen, they were providing this service but hosted in the "cloud". How can this be illegal? They may have added features the majority wouldn't have had access to, but that is just a feature of their site. In no way do I see that this is any more than providing a service which allows an individual to record something for their own personal use and play it back on the device of their choice.

If the law currently prohibits this, the law needs changing.

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Crytek: Schemes to strike second-hand games biz 'awesome'

Dr. Mouse
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Re: @Dr. Mouse I'm sorry

"You have mixed physical goods and the "intellectual" property crap all in one pot and are confused as the result."

Nope. I'm not confused about that. I am confused about all the downvotes I got.

I will say it again, I really don't like this turn of events, but how a product is sold and/or licensed is up to the person producing the product. Of course, if you get the game on a disc, you have the right to sell that disc. If the license prevents transfer of rights, you do not have the right to "sell" the license. Simples.

This happens in other areas of computer software. AutoCAD, for example: You pay, not to own the software, but for a license to use it. You are not buying a physical object. The same applies to many others. If the license states you cannot transfer it, you cannot transfer it.

If game co's want to go down this path, they are perfectly within their rights to do so. I, for one, will not be obliging them in this, and hope that the business model fails so they are forced back to "real" selling. It will actually make me more likely to pirate games, or not "buy" them in the first place. But it is still their right to use a different business/licensing model. Just because you and I do not like it doesn't remove their rights.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: I'm sorry

"What gives them the right to essentially ban second hand games?"

It's their product. They can sell/license it as they wish.

I'm not defending it, by the way. I dislike this as much as the rest, and I think it is a mistake.

However, if I make something, I have the right to determine how to sell/license it. How the market reacts to that descision will determine how successfull it is, but it's still my descision.

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Official: Britain staggers into double-dip recession doom

Dr. Mouse
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And you think the situation would have been better under Labour?

At the end of the day, everyone I know predicted that we would have shitty times for years after the last recession. This would have been the same no matter which govt was in power. Their economic policies were so similar (although they shouted differences, they were nearly identical when you looked at the figures) that they would have made virtually no difference.

What we actually need is for companies to start hiring. This would start an upward spiral as more people had more to spend. As things stand (and with media, politicians and my next-door-neighbour-and-his-dog scare-mongerring) things will be slow going because so many have no money to spend.

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Educating Rory: Are BBC reporters unteachable?

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Err...

"I would argue that HTML markup is exactly the sort of thing that makes a good start for teaching programming."

I have to disagree with you there.

HTML is nothing like programming, so doesn't even come close to giving an introduction. The best it does is say "on a computer, if your type some odd-looking words and symbols it changes what happens".

This is where BASIC is actually very good as an introduction. Type PRINT "Hello World" and it does so. Very immediate results, but it is actually programming. I don't like BASIC myself, but IMHO it is the best available tool to teach an introduction to programming (although I think that's all it should be used for, with a view to moving on very soon afterwards).

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Beefy Fedora could use a dash of miracle whip

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Unified File System Layout

Thanks for the historical info, you learn something new every day :)

However, there is still a case for keeping the "Linux" way of splitting / and /usr. I have used it for those reasons for years and would be very uncomfortable moving a server to a "unified" layout.

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Dr. Mouse
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Unified File System Layout

"new unified file system layout: that is, everything now lives under /usr. The plan is to get rid of the separation of /bin and /usr/bin, as well as /sbin and /usr/sbin and so on. All files from the top level directories will now be found under their /usr equivalent."

Does this not sound like a bad idea?

I thought part of the idea of having separate /s?bin and /usr/s?bin was that you could boot a system with just the root FS, not needing to mount /usr, and have the essential tools available. So, if tools are moved into /usr and the root-level directories contain only symlinks, this functionality is borked, and your system is screwed if it can't mount /usr.

This may not be a problem for most desktop systems, which generally seem to be installed in a single root partition (eurgh!), but for those of us who do things the "right way" would be just as vulnerable to /usr corruption as the rest.

Hope this "improvement" doesn't happen to Debian any time soon.

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Gemini outs trio of budget Android 4 tablets

Dr. Mouse
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"the cream of the bottom"

You owe me a new keyboard! LOL

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Compulsory coding in schools: The new Nerd Tourism

Dr. Mouse
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Re: optional

First off, ensure your operators are correct. Yours aren't.

Second, I have known people who were not good at maths and science, but made good programmers (and engineers). They had to work very hard when it came to the mathsy bits, but their immagination and logical thinking allowed them to produce fantastic code.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Missed the point? or did I?

"What in buggery has that got to do with 15 year olds learning HTML?"

I think everyone here agrees that when we are talking about teaching programming in schools, we are not talking about HTML.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: programming in schools is doomed by tick-box culture

Although I don't like it myself, what is wrong with this.

At the end of the day, this way of grading is about getting people to think rather than just do. So, if they have planned the project well, with good structure and style, but a couple of minor errors have stopped the programme from working, they should receive a good mark. In the real world the debugging would then begin.

With the woodworking example, they look to be teaching "measure twice cut once". Plan it well before hand. The planning and design is the real skill, implementation is just following this plan.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Teach thinking, not facts.

I both agree and disagree with you here.

In the workplace, it is often not necessary to hold all the information you require in your head at once. Some facts will be forgotten, and can be looked up. As an example, I often consult man pages and documentation while working to find an obscure syntax which I know exists, but I don't know exactly what it is. This is the same in every proffession and doesn't require the internet: an engineer can look up Laplace transforms in a book, for example.

The problem with this is that to work in this way, the person needs to know it in the first place, know that it exists. The best way to do this is to make those studying learn those facts. This embeds their use into the mindet of the person learning, allowing them to recall their existence year's later. If they have used them day-in day-out for 25 years, they will know them by heart. If they haven't touched them in 25 years, they will know they exist and be able to look up the facts in order to use them.

As for "the Professions become less and less relevant", pull the other one! "The Proffessions" are, in essence, people specialised in a particular field. We will always need this, and we will increasingly need such specialism as human knowledge grows. It doesn't matter that all the information is available at our fingertips: if we do not know it exists in the first place, how are we to find it when we need it?

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Dr. Mouse
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I agree... to a point.

The viewpoint in the article makes some excellent points, although it misses some too.

I believe that part of the reason our (UK) education system has been well regarded throughout the world is that it starts with a broad base but, through GCSE, A-Level and Degree becomes specialised very quickly.

IMHO, the way to introduce kids to programming is to start in primary school. Teach them all a very basic programming language to show them an introduction to coding. This just adds to the broad base of knowledge every kid is exposed to in primary education.

This can be expanded at the beginning of high school (probably as a small part of regular IT lessons). This will then allow those who are interested to take it further at GCSE level etc. This is how other subjects are taught, and it is a very good way to introduce subjects and encourage those with interest or skill in those areas.

Oh, and the courses need to distinguish between programming and ****ing HTML! That confusion winds me up no end!

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Lesser-spotted Raspberry Pi FINALLY dished up

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Pre-ordered boards

Same here with RS, however did the same with Farnell and have ordered one. Don't think it's going to be the first batch, though, but at least the order is placed.

Still trying to decide what to do with it though.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Its not just about programming

Yeah this is all true. Hopefully this will work and we'll end up with "IT" teachers who know something about computers (beyond how to use MS Word)

I remember being thrown out of a computer lesson once (this was using Archimedes, would be about 15-20 years ago). The teacher asked what a RAM disk was. I answered that it was a virtual disk emulated in the computer's RAM. Her reply?

"No, it's Random Access Memory."

When I argued, I was thrown out. From then I decided to keep my mouth shut, do the work, and learn the real stuff about computers on my own.

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Learning about computing

I have to agree.

The thing is, with school PCs they need to thoroughly lock down the OS (beyond even what you would see in a corporate environment) to stop kids (especially the clever ones) cocking it all up. I should know, I was one of those kids 15 years ago, and I was the one poking holes in the system until the IT tech realised and asked me (and my friends) to help close the holes (in return for more privileges etc).

So to encourage kids to do real stuff with computers, buy some of these (cheap as chips, if you'll excuse the pun) and let them do as they wish. If they screw it up, swap the SD card for a fresh install and it's working again, unless they have trashed the hardware, in which case they've lost £30 instead of £hundreds.

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WD lets loose ferocious 1TB VelociRaptor

Dr. Mouse
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Re: I still don't get it

"I mean harddisks, particulary such small ones, are only used on initial program load. After that you'll have all the code you need in RAM... It's fairly cheap to have 16 gigs of RAM now."

And what about that first load? Or cold boot? Or if you have more than 16GB of data you wish to deal with quickly.

IIRC it's about £60 for 16GB RAM. Yes, this is pretty cheap, but for around that you could get a 60GB SSD, allowing your OS & at least most programmes to be kept on it, improving both boot and initial programme load times.

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SATELLITE SMACKDOWN: Turnbull vs. Quigley

Dr. Mouse
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OK, stopped reading

when I got to the fourth paragraph and noticed the 2nd spelling mistake of one name.

Please, el'Reg, proof read your articles. If you can't be bothered to do this, I can't be bothered reading them (unless you are going to start paying me to report the mistakes!)

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Apple fights off ebook suit with anti-Amazon defence

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Apple needs a hammering

"Went to publishers and offered the Agency Model where the publisher could set any selling price in iTMS they desired on condition that Apple take 30% of sales and that no one else pays less than the remaining 70%."

AFAIK it was actually "noone else can sell at a lower price".

I may be wrong, but that's the gist I got from the Most Favoured Nation clause: Noone else is allowed to sell cheaper than Apple.

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US sues Apple, publishers over ebook pricing strategy

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Cos while people are daft enough to pay it

The problem, however, is exactly what the music and film industry have faced (although probably to a lesser degree): If people feel like they are getting ripped off, they will look for alternative methods of aquiring the content.

Films are now getting towards an acceptable model with Ultraviolet and physical-to-"digital" availability. I think we need this with books.

For myself, I have a fair collection of paperbacks which I read over and over again. Then I got a Kindle, and I am expected to purchase these books all over again, at a higher price, if I want them on my eReader. Now this is not going to happen.

I take a more moral than legal view on this. I own the book, and have paid for it. I therefore do not consider it wrong for me to find a torrent of this book and download it for my own use.

The problem is that this becomes a slippery slope. I started with this. Then, when I wanted a new book I found the paperback was cheaper than the Kindle version. So I bought the paperback and downloaded a torrent of the eBook. But then it gets you used to downloading the books for free, and I have had to use willpower to hold off just dling it all for free.

I really do think eBooks need to nip this in the bud now and start an ultraviolet-like system, with a paper-to-ebook sceme and automatic licenses, or else they will find everyone just pirates their content and they loose out.

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US ecosystems basically unaffected by global warming, studies show

Dr. Mouse
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Re: PNAS Review

"You choose not to accept that consensus because ... something vague and waffly about politics and bias for which you can give no material examples or specific explanation."

From http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/09/29/yamal_scandal/:

"From this we know that the Yamal data set uses just 12 trees from a larger set to produce its dramatic recent trend... In all there are 252 cores in the CRU Yamal data set, of which ten were alive 1990. All 12 cores selected show strong growth since the mid-19th century. The implication is clear: the dozen were cherry-picked."

OK, the Register is not a peer reviewed journal, but this is the sort of thing which puts doubts in people's heads (especially as this research was published in a peer reviewed journal, and many other researchers used it's results as a basis, which also made it through peer review). I have read about similar cherry picking in other research from both "sides" of the debate, and there have been other scandals too.

So, as an open-minded person, I have doubts as to the integrity of climate "scientists".

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Dr. Mouse
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Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

a) It is not random upper case, it was upper case used to emphasise certain words.

b) Politicians butting out was in reference to them commissioning research in such a way that one result is preferred, and will likely result in more research (and therefore money) for those involved if their preferred result is validated.

I agree, in science there is only one side: all scientists work towards finding the truth. However, in an issue such as this, there are 2 sides, as well as a large swathe in between the extreme views. Some supposed scientists and organisations do take a side and this distorts their results. I have seen evidence of both "sides" cherry-picking data to support their preferred results. If this is happenning, how can they be trusted? This applies equally to those denying or confirming man-made climate change.

I am not denying that man-made climate change is going on. I think it is obvious that man affects this planet in an enormous way, but this is not proof. What I would like is to be able to trust the people and organisations doing the research. What I would like is to be sure that those doing the research are scientists.

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Dr. Mouse
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Stop

Re: Selectively picking through the data to create "evidence"

BOTH SIDES work in this way. The argument is so political now that people doing REAL science are few and far between.

I am on neither side of the argument. I have seen evidence produced by both sides, but I am unable to trust the majority due to the political interference I see. What we need is for politicians, corporations and biased organisations to but out. We need real, unbiased research, utilising all available data (no cherry-picking, a technique used by BOTH sides) and analysing it in an open, honest way (open to scrutiny by all). That is science, and that is NOT what we have seen so far.

Well, I can dream. I think I will see a herd of swine migrating south first...

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Sky News admits two counts of computer hacking

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Just thinking

Well, that depends. I know several.

Maybe I should post this AC... Nah. Never have yet, if I don't want someone to know it's me posting, I don't post it.

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Dr. Mouse
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"dose that mean it's in the public interest for The Register to hack my adult hook-up website accounts to see who I'm banging?"

That depends. If you are banging a celeb or public figure, or are a celeb or public figure, the public would be interested. I wouldn't, but the "public" would be.

Personally, I don't think the public being interested is the same as "the public interest", but Sky News would probably agrue they mean the same.

By the way, which adult hook-up website? You've got me interested now. LOL

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Minecraft maker plots ultimate videogame for coders

Dr. Mouse
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Geektastic!!!

Can't wait!

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Ofcom calls for end to 0800 charges on mobiles

Dr. Mouse
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s/inside the company/inside the country/

I really should proof read before hitting "Submit"!

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Dr. Mouse
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"Why the reputable companies don't publish their geographic helpline number as well as the 08* non-geographic helpline number baffles me."

Doesn't baffle me: the companies get a share of revenue from 08 numbers. So essentially you are paying both the network and the company you are calling.

If you use the geo alternative they don't get paid. That's why they don't like you ringing their "international" number from inside the company.

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Google shows off Project Glass augmented reality specs

Dr. Mouse
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Re: Yes please!

"My wife thinks it's creepy but I'd seriously go whole hog and have "chipped" vision (c.f. Altered Carbon) with seamless audio and video integration to my perception."

Apple's next product: The eyePhone.

(NB: credit must be attributed to Futurama for this one)

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OCZ's new Vertex 4 SSD: Faster... and slower

Dr. Mouse
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Re: FFS

"Also, is it just me or is saying random IOPS redundant - aren't IOPS always assumed to be random where sequential is expressed in MBs?"

I know it is a minority of cases, but I have seen both measured in both units. i.e. I have seen random 4k reads measured in MB/s, and I am sure I have seen one where sequential performance has been measured in IOPS. I would prefer they continue to specify "random IOPS" (in fact my preference would be to include transfer size and queue depth), as this avoids the case where someone quotes 18 gazillion IOPS with "sequential 1bit reads" in the small print.

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SHOCK! FIFA 12 goalie does it doggy style with striker

Dr. Mouse
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Coat

Bit below the belt, if you ask me!

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Home Sec: Web snoop law will snare PAEDOS, TERRORISTS

Dr. Mouse
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"This would all seem to be deeply cynical and paranoid, except when you take into account history on various other laws ( RIPA, Terrorism Act, POCA etc etc...)"

Don't forget the extradition treaty changes with the US, which were brought in to streamline the extradition of terrorists, and is now used against anyone.

At the end of the day, this really does stink of 1984. Maybe Orwell was a prophet?

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Game of Thrones Blu-ray disc set

Dr. Mouse
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The best

I have to say that the books of A Song Of Ice And Fire are in my top 3 fantasy book series, the other 2 being Lord of the Rings and Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time. All three are excellent, although so different I cannot choose a favourite.

However, Game of Thrones is most definitely my favourite fantasy TV/Film. They have portrayed the world wonderfully, keeping in so much detail I haven't noticed anything missing yet (which is what spoiled the Lord of the Rings film for me), and yet it also hasn't spoiled my enjoyment of the books. Even better, my SWMBO likes it too, and has even started reading the books because of it!

I am seriously considerring buying a Blu Ray Player just for this. I can call it my Game of Thrones player, and it can sit in the corner until I want to revisit this fantastic Epic.

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What does the Titanic's sinking tell us about modern science?

Dr. Mouse
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Yes, the moral of the story of Titanic is:

"Don't hit an iceberg!"

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