108 posts • joined 16 Nov 2010
Interesting... though "nuggets" sounds a bit pants. Maybe they could call them... hmm... I dunno... bookmarks?
"with a few notable exceptions"
I shouldn't feed the troll, but...
WOS has managed to get permission from approx. 250 publishers, including notable companies such as Gremlin, Firebird and Hewson), and around 800 individual developers. And more people grant permission every month, as even a cursory glance at the What's New page will show.
Then too, where the copyright owner has stated that they don't grant permission (e.g. Ultimate, Codemasters), WOS removes the software from their website.
It's not perfect - the original developer may not own the copyright on their games, and for some titles, it's far from clear who the copyright owner is. And there is an argument to be made that if permission hasn't been explicitly granted, the software shouldn't be offered for download at all.
But equally, WOS (or at least the volunteers behind it) is making a proactive effort to track down copyright owners and obtain permission - and they've achieved this for a significant percentage of the gamebase. Dismissing that as "a few notable exceptions" is rude at best and trolling at worst.
As other people have pointed out...
There's already a "hardware" C64 emulator, which was embedded in a Quickshot-styled joystick that could be hooked straight into your TV - the Direct-to-TV thing Jason mentioned.
There's also a PC which is built into a "breadbin" case - see http://www.popgive.com/2011/04/commodore-64-is-back.html for details.
(A friend has one; it looks quite funky but is also prone to overheating...)
Overall, this guy is basically reinventing the commodore-shaped wheel...
Re: Yeah right
" It's the US that's gone massively for biofuels. They don;'t cause anyone to 'starve'. They've just dealt with the US surplus of maize."
Mmm. That's why there were riots in Mexico due to the rise in maize prices... which was due in part to crops being diverted for biofuel:
And don't forget the upcoming pig-apocalpyse, as herds are thinned out due to rising feed prices:
In both of the above, there's lots of other factors, both human (e.g. speculators) and natural (e.g. droughts). And there's a lot that could be done to address wastage in other areas, both at the point of production and consumption. But fundamentally, using maize to produce biofuels means that there's less maize for other things...
Wow. Is this article meant to be serious, or was it just a paid-for trolling piece?
A new draft of China's copyright law strengthens the rights of artists and writers who write anonymously - in other words, artists who create orphan works. "Many users have been avoiding payment by using works that are written anonymously or in pen name. The new draft will effectively end this practice,"
First: strictly speaking, I guess "anonoymous writing" are orphan works - after all, you can't identify the creator. At the same time though, this was a deliberate choice by the creator, rather than being due to the work having lost it's identifiers and/or having unclear ownership.
Equally, if the writer has chosen to be anonymous, then this pretty much means by definition that they didn't want to be associated with it or reimbursed for their efforts. Indeed, there may be legal and political reasons why they don't want to be identified as the creator of the work.
Beyond that, I'd point out that China is currently undergoing a lot of political change, and that the government is putting a lot of effort into managing and censoring discussion about this. The changes to the copyright law would seem to be part of this effort: barring the use of anonymous writings seriously limits the options for people to criticise the government and/or disseminate information.
Overall, trying to tie a law designed to stifle political debate into the argument about the reuse of IP seems more than a little disingenuous...
This would have been interesting a few years ago...
Y'know, when the Cell processor was still a relatively low-cost option for parallel processing research.
But now, there's so many low-cost and/or multi-core processors out there, you're almost certainly better off going for something which isn't subject to the whims of corporate imperatives
(e.g. http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=phoronix_effimass_cluster&num=1 - a 6-board, 12-core ARM cluster; each board has 1gb of ram and the entire ensemble uses just 30 watts and could probably be tucked into a phat-PS3's case with room to spare...)
"Overclockers have always puzzled me. The manufacturer knows exactly which are the critical pathways in the CPU. They can test and appropriately speed-grade their chips by exercising these pathways. Intel turbo-mode is supported, meaning that Intel has tested your CPU at the highest turbo speed they support. You'll get correct results, as long as you stay within the thermal envelope."
This isn't necessarily true: the manufacturer may choose to sell "underclocked" parts, as it's cheaper to produce everything on a single process rather than having multiple production lines. Also, their stress-tests are (presumably) based on relatively low thermal tolerances and assume that the customer is using standard voltages and a cheap OEM heatsink, rather than one of the mega-fancy liquid-cooled, silver-plated, multi-fan, mega-finned uber-heatsinks that your average overclocker likes to bolt atop their CPU.
So there's often a fair amount of milage to be had by going beyond the manufacturers recommended specs...
And in answer to "why overclock a Pi": why not?
Re: "How'd I do?"
"But what the hell - I agree with your tone. These buggers should focus on having a profitable business plan and not expect an already bankrupt system to make their lives any easier."
That's a bit simplistic. The key problem is that other countries - Canada and France, most notably - are already offering significant tax breaks, which has resulted in UK development being too expensive, which in turn leads to 1st/2nd party studios being shut down[*] and a brain-drain effect as developers are forced to leave the country. So establishing tax breaks in the UK is arguably just levelling the playing field.
(insert argument about protectionism here)
There's also other factors to consider: the economic benefits of the UK Film Tax Relief has been pretty impressive.
On a turnover of £3.4 billion, the core UK film industry directly contributed around £1.6 billion to UK GDP in 2009. This means that the core UK film industry contributed more than twice as much to GDP as the machine tools manufacturing industry [and] three times as much to the economy as the designer fashion sector.
without the UK Film Tax Relief in place, we estimate that its film production would be around 75% smaller, reducing UK GDP by around £1.4 billion a year and Exchequer revenues by about £400 million a year. Since the Film Tax Relief costs HM Treasury around £110 million a year, this means it generates about £13 in GDP for every £1 invested.
we estimate that around £1.9 billion of visitor spend a year might be attributable to UK films.
In 2009, this additional spending was estimated to be worth £950 million to UK GDP and £210 million to the Exchequer.
In other words, the Film Tax Relief has turned out to be a highly profitable investment for UK plc. And while the games industry arguably doesn't employ as many people and doesn't have quite the same potential for "visitor spend", there's a lot of potential for a higher ROI. For instance, Grand Theft Auto 4 (which, incidentally, was made in Scotland by Take Two Interactive) grossed nearly one billion pounds by itself - more than any of the individual Harry Potter films...
[*] Sony Liverpool - nee Psygnosis - are a very recent and visible victim - though this is arguably at least partly because Sony decided to have them doing little else other than pumping out Wipeout sequels for the last decade
It's worth bearing in mind that the original Ghostbusters game (for the C64) was rushed out in 6 weeks [*] - not quite as bad as the infamously short dev time for Atari's ET game, but still pretty bad.
Even so, it was surprisingly fun to play, though the gameplay was somewhat unbalanced - the driving/ghost-hoovering element quickly became repetitive and once you'd earned enough cash, you just had to sit and wait for the EP levels to reach maximum and trigger the end-game: you couldn't even go back to the shop to upgrade your equipment.
(though for Spectrum gamers (and possibly others - I haven't checked), there was a glitch/easter egg which could save you some cash during the initial game: entering "0" as the car-type gave you a solid black rectangle which was cheaper than the rest of the options!)
It's also worth noting that a nice person produced a remake of the Ghostbusters game - http://www.classic-retro-games.com/GhostBusters_193.html
Unfortunately, they then suffered a HDD failure and lost all of the source-code, which killed dead any chance of further updates and improvements...
[*] Wikipedia claims 8 months; David Crane states six weeks - http://www.edge-online.com/features/making-ghostbusters . Take yer pick ;)
Re: 3D Popularity
"3D itself is more popular than 10%. According to the MPAA statistics, 21% of box office sales in 2010 were 3d. That's up 91% from 2009."
It's worth bearing in mind that cinemas charge more for 3D showings, so they're always going to generate more sales revenue than the equivalent number of 2D showings.
Also, while I don't think it was the case in 2010, there's been a recent trend for films to only be shown in 3D - Underworld 4 and Ghostrider 2 were both only available in 3D at all of the local cinemas. It'd be interesting to find out if the additional per-ticket revenue is offsetting the potential drop in cinemagoers - anecdotally, my friends and family have started to actively avoid going to 3D showings thanks to the high prices and lack of benefits!
The question is...
How can a company which is infamous for making a profit on *every unit sold* (hardware and software) be making a loss? Where is all the money vanishing to?
It's not being pushed into new games - for all that Nintendo has a significant number of first/second party development houses on it's books, the number of releases they produce is tiny. Wikipedia's "Wii game list" page indicates that they only published 13 games in 2011 - and several were from publishing agreements with third-party developers (Arita, Artoon, etc).
And from memory, their half-year results indicated that only 50% of their expected losses came from currency issues; the rest came from sales failing to meet expectations. And even then, they'd managed to write off a significant chunk of their losses via some tax-law jiggery-pokery.
I dunno if elReg is interested, but I strongly suspect Retrogamer would like to take a look. And some photos for the WorldOfSpectrum bunch wouldn't go amiss, either ;)
It's not the cost of storing the tapes...
But the cost of the tapes themselves. Remember, this was all back in the 1960s:
"When videotape was introduced into the BBC back in the '60s it was very expensive. The machine to replay it on was the price of a very expensive Rolls Royce, and the tape itself cost the price of a Mini."
Another article suggests the tapes cost around £200 apiece, which in today's money is somewhere around £3500!
It's therefore not too surprising that they were taping over older, "lower-value" recordings - after all, you couldn't just nip to Staples to grab a ten-pack of blank tapes!
I wouldn't agree with that. It may not have had a huge direct impact on the German war effort (though it severely affected German agriculture), but it did have several important indirect effects:
1) It significantly boosted morale in the UK
2) It boosted the UK's standing among it's allies (America, Russia)
3) It showed that precision-bombing attacks could be effective (rather than just carpet bombing everything in the area)
4) It paved the way for Barnes Wallis to produce his tallboy/grand-slam bombs (the bouncing-bomb came about because he initially couldn't get anyone to sign-up to his "earthquake bomb" strategy) - and these arguably had a far bigger impact on the war, being used to take out railways, bridges, V2 bomb factories and the V3 site.
(for more details, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Chastise )
Y'know.. posting a link to 72 parlimentary submissions by various special interest groups isn't really providing a clear example of how strong copyright benefits benefit society and the economy. In fact, I'd suggest it's a breach of DeMyer's law (excessive quoting), which means you automatically lose the argument ;)
Beyond that, while I haven't read them all - I've no intention of performing your research for you - it's pretty clear that few - if any - are concerned with copyright extension. F'instance, the British Video association is only concerned with the impact of allowing format shifting and the British Beer and Pub association (which is a consumer, not a creator) is only interested in performance royalty management.
"So, to recap, no /money/ involved yet the money/mouth imbalance prevails ?"
I'm not sure if you're deliberately missing the point (and you've clearly decided to ignore all the other points I've provided rebuttals for), but to repeat: I believe that people should have the opportunity to profit from their works *and* that there is greater cultural and economic benefit from sharing creative works. Given that my work is generally low-value, I've therefore decided to freely give it away, in the hope that other people will then build on it to create new works of increased economic and cultural value.
(and if by a miracle, I do someday create a high-value work, I'll be happy to release it to the public domain once I've had my opportunity to profit from it. And that could even generate more revenue for me - releasing older works for free has worked really well for the authors over at Baen/webscriptions.net)
Now, they might not - and in truth, I'd be surprised if more than 0.1% of what I create gets reused. But at least the opportunity is there, which is more than could be said if I'd kept it all locked away!
Is that really so hard to understand?
One more time ;)
Your "category 1" is "people who have a vested interest in making money from the work of others"
How does reducing copyright help this? The main abusers of copyright are the corporations who buy up copyrights and then sue other people for infringement, as per the Men at Work example. Reducing copyright terms reduces their ability to do this and gives individual creators more freedom to create new works.
Your "category 2" is "proponent of freetardism because they have grown up with the internet in their bedroom and, like, everything is free on the web, isn't it ?"
Given that I've explicitly declared that I believe creators should have the opportunity to profit from their work, how do I fall into this category? The issue is that a blanket extension of copyright terms affects everyone and only benefits a few. I pay for my media, through amazon, emusic, play.com and more: my concern is absolutely not about "freetardism".
"unsubstantiated c'n'p facts": which facts are these? The Men at Work debacle is clearly documented; the British Library's study is freely available for review; the PRS figures came directly from the PRS. If you can point me to an unsubstantiated claim, I'll be happy to dig out the details for it. The only thing that comes close is my stated belief that relaxed copyright laws produce greater benefit for society and creators - and even then, I've provided examples (Keep Calm and Carry On, Northern Soul) of where limited copyright (and/or the bypassing of copyright) has led to cultural and economic benefit, both for society and the original creator.
And I can easily dig out several more: Charles Dickens was able to undertake several very highly profitable tours of the USA, thanks to piracy of his books. The American industrial revolution, the 18th century European printing revolution, the current growth of the Chinese economy: all of these were only possible due to people refusing to obey industrial trade secret and copyright laws.
Internet rules: I haven't invoked Godwin's law, I haven't breached Poe's Law, Rule 34 isn't in effect (though I'm sure I could find some photoshopped pictures of Cliff if you're really that interested); Skitts, Scopies, Danths... in fact, with the possible exception of DeMyers, I think I'm clear on all of those - and even then, I've provided references rather than block pasting quotations. Are you sure you've been debating online long?
The websites both revolved around defending copyright while the work is still in copyright. My concern is about the duration of copyright. These are related but different things - to (ab)use the usual car analogy, I'm talking about the extended 5-year warranty while they're talking about the annual servicing. If you want to change my mind, point me to a study which shows that extended copyright terms are actually better for the economy and society as a whole, rather than a small group of super-rich artists and the corporations which support them.
As to having a dog in this fight: yes, I do. I believe that extended copyright terms (and the potential for abuse that comes with them) is bad for society and the economy as a whole, and I believe it's important enough to be worth fighting for and debating. And while I'm sorry that you've chosen to disbelieve me, I've been fully open on my role in the creative industry: I freely admit it's a small one, but it's still there and I've put my money where my mouth is, in the shape of declaring all of my works to be CC:NC and/or open source under the GNU public licence.
Time to stop feeding the troll...
Well, not just yet ;)
1) "Because Google say it is". So, the British Library is being influenced by Google when they release a study indicating that up to 40% of all copyrighted material is in an orphaned state? For what it's worth, their study was released in September 2010 - two months before the government decided to quote Google as a factor in deciding to review copyright law.
2) "You work in IT and draw a salary. To coin a phrase: you don;t have a dog in this fight."
Wow. So: only people who *only* make money from creative works have any say? That would seem to exclude... oh, about 95% of people who produce creative works. Talk about elitist...
Very few people make a full time living from creative works - the PRS's own figures show that (as of the year 2000) over 50% of UK music artists made less than £100 per year from their works; less than 3% made what could be considered a living wage (i.e. over £25,000). (http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/3704/1)/Birkbeck_06_04_final.pdf)
(and there's also PRS fees (12.2%) and collection-agency fees (20% for royalties, up to 40% for further negotiations) to take into account. E.g. http://www.fidelitymusic.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=78&Itemid=90)
So: do none of those people have a say, either? Guess it's up to you and Cliff to decide how copyright should be managed - after all, I'm sure Cliff is interested in enriching and developing our national heritage and culture, not his bank account.
3) Stop43.com is a UK-centric campaign to better protect the individual's rights. It says nothing about copyright duration: instead, it's focused on how to protect works while they're still copyrighted. Useplus is about a better photo-tagging system, which would be used to better track copyright claims. It says nothing about copyright duration; instead, it's focused on identifying the owner of a given work.
All told, I'm not entire sure how those two websites are meant to leave me better informed...
(and arguably: a shorter copyright term would make it easier - and cheaper - to identify if a work is no longer copyrighted. Which would make it easier to identify and pay individuals for their still copyrighted work, thereby helping the cause of stop43...)
My entire point is that reducing copyright terms is good for society, good for the economy and good for creators as a whole. There will be fewer mega-rich people, instead the money will be more evenly distributed across the entire "creative" economy.
Conversely, extending copyright terms results in is a small number of rich people/corporations holding onto copyrighted materials for decades and using those copyrights to sue creative people: the Men at Work example I provided above is just one of the more gregarious examples - as per above, they were sued by a subsidiary of Sony BMG, who had bought up the rights to a 70-year old folk song *after* the original creator had died.
In truth, all they're doing in the long term is costing themselves - and everyone else - money: the only people who profit are the lawyers who handle the litigation; at best, you'll end up with something similar to the "patent warchest" system where major companies agree to not litigate against each other (screwing everyone else in the process)...
Hmm. Where to begin?
"No it does not. Copyright is either infringed or it is not. It's a binary thing, perception doesn't come into it. The method and ease/difficulty by which someone can be sued for infringement also remains unchanged."
In an ideal world, I'd agree with you. IN the real world, it's sadly easy to come up with examples of people being inappropriately sued for infringement. Such as:
1) the Australian band Men At Work were successfully sued in 2010 for using a flute-riff in their 1983 hit which sounded similar to that used by a folk song written in 1935. Better yet, the author of the folk-song had died in 1988; the lawsuit was brought by a company who bought the rights to the song in 1990. So: they wrote their song 48 years after the original folk song was written and were sued 17 years later by some industry middleman who had bought the song rights 15 years earlier.
2) Orion Pictures/James Cameron was sued by Harlan Ellison, as the 1984 film Terminator allegedly plagarised an episode of The Outer Limits (Soldier) he wrote in 1964. The two items take the "future soldiers travelling back through time" concept in radically different directions (Soldier does not involve robots, human extinction or the concept of using time travel as a weapon): Cameron is on record as calling Harlan an parasite.
(interestingly, T2 is far closer to the plot of Soldier, which makes me wonder if perhaps Cameron deliberately did this to extract a small measure of revenge - I'm assuming the settlement for Terminator was a one-off fixed sum!)
Fundamentally, there is only a limited number of plot devices: the longer copyright durations are, the greater the chance is that there will be a similar piece of prior art. And if your creation is profitable, the odds are good that someone will then try to sue you, even if there is a good chance they'll lose; as with patent trolls, people will often choose to settle rather than go through a costly court battle.
""works are being "orphaned" - i.e. the ownership is unclear"
No, works are not being orphaned and the acid test of ownership is simple. Is it mine ? No it's not therefore it belongs to someone else and I must do due diligence in finding out who that person is."
Funny - if it's so easy, then why does the UK and EU consider it to be such a major issue?
Fundamentally, if the ownership of a work is unclear (and if it's passed through several corporations, the ownership rights can be very muddled - computer games have proven especially vulnerable to this), the cost of confirmation can be excessive.
"Creating another layer of bureaucracy to handle so called orphan works - in many cases works which can be identified if some effort is applied - will serve only to distance creators from their works and the end user which will, in turn act as a disincentive to the creator."
Who wants to create another layer of bureaucracy? The entire point of reducing copyright periods is that there will be fewer orphan works (as the age of the work is a significant factor in how likely it is to be an orphan), which in turn reduces the amount of due-diligence activity which is needed.
"In my experience, and I have a fair bit, I haven't met one creative who's in favour of less protection for their work."
It depends what you mean by less protection: there's certainly lots of people who are happy to release their work under a Creative Commons licence. Many choose to do so with a "non commercial" tag, but there's still plenty who do freely give away their work for any use whatsoever.
(and I'd like to think I'm at least vaguely creative!)
"Every person I'm aware of who is in favour of relaxation in copyright falls into three camps:"
Sadly, I'm not in any of those camps. I have a full-time job in IT, and anything I create is released under a Creative Commons: Non Commercial licence. And when I've been asked for permission to use work in a low-value commercial context (video clips for DVDs, photos for magazines, etc), I've freely given permission with no strings - or royalty demands - attached.
Now, you can argue that I can do that because I'm effectively supported by my "real" job. But there's many people who give away their work and still make a living - Jonathan Cauldwell (Still Alive) is a good example.
"Tarring the vast majority of people working in the creative industries with the U2/Sting/Madonna brush is a classic straw man approach as the vast majority of people working in the creative industries don't earn anything like the amounts made by those people and as a result would like to hold on to every penny they can."
To quote the article: 72% of the money from this copyright extension will go to the record labels. 24% will go to major-name artists. Only 4% will go to the "vast majority" of creative people you mention.
In other words: they're getting virtually nothing, at a significant cost to the public, as well as the non-tangible impacts to the economy and culture. Is that really a system worth implementing?
"Much in the same way as most people don't just give away chunks of their salary every month to random passers by."
No... but they do give money to the government in the form of taxes, and this money is then (theoretically) used to benefit society as a whole: to a greater or lesser degree, it's used to maintain and develop transportation, health, education and infrastructure.
And that's pretty much how I see shorter copyright terms: by pushing works back into the public domain earlier, the cost of producing (and defending) new works is reduced, which in turn allows more work to be created. And for 99% of people (i.e. everyone who's not U2/Sting/Madonna), it's a very small sacrifice which ends up benefitting the economy and society as a whole. The end result is more money for more people.
Beyond that: there often seems to be a perception that once an item falls out of copyright, the original owner can no longer sell it. That's 100% not the case: they can still sell it - and they can add value to it (e.g. new mixes, remastered audio, extra media); it's just that other people can now sell it. For instance, it'd be interesting to see how much money Sony BMG are making on the Elvis albums which fell out of copyright back in 2007: I suspect they've seen little or no drop in sales, despite the increased competition...
Feel the negativity!
Wow. Some people are missing the point quite nicely.
Purlieu, El Presidente, Anonymous: this is nothing at all to do with the "Freetards" you're trying to mock: I don't think anyone disagrees that creators should have the opportunity to benefit from their creations - if nothing else, it acts as an incentive for them to then create more work. The issue here is (at least) fivefold:
1) New works are not going back into the creative commons for reuse by other people - and vast quantities of works are being "orphaned" - i.e. the ownership is unclear, but noone dares touch them in case they get sued.
2) The extended copyright terms are reducing the incentive to create new works
3) Very few creators benefit from the extended copyright terms - (ironically), it's generally only those which have already greatly profited from their creations
4) Managing the extended copyright terms creates layers of self-propagating bureaucracy which costs money and creates nothing of worth
5) Extended copyright terms make it easier for people to sue other people for perceived copyright infringement
Conversely, reducing copyright terms would have the following advantages:
1) Works could be reused while they're still culturally relevant, which could well benefit the original artist. For instance, the Northern Soul movement in the UK brought in new revenue for Motown artists who had failed to succeed in the USA; this happened because their records were basically treated as worthless and were being sold by weight from american warehouses. There's also the "keep calm and carry on" phenomena: millions of pounds of economic activity has been generated by a single, tatty, out-of-copyright poster found in a bookshop
2) It encourages the original creator to produce new works *and* enables new work of cultural and economic value from other creators who build on that work. Pride and Prejudice is a good example of this: people have added zombies to the plot, or set the story in India. Dracula is another example: the (copyright infringing) Nosferatu added the concept of daylight being deadly to vampires, and there's been literally thousands of books, TV series, comics and films which have leaned heavily on Dracula and Nosferatu
3) It actually leads to more creators receiving revenue, as it means there's a greater chance of their work being reused, in effect acting as free advertising. Again, see the Northern Soul phenomena
4) Reducing costs and bureaucracy means that consumers can spend more money on activities which directly benefit creators, rather than going on red tape.
5) It reduces costs for creators too, especially for complex projects such as songwriting, movies and TV shows, many of which often have to engage lawyers to fight off spurious copyright-infringement claims.
So, to recap: a shorter copyright term (e.g. 20 years) would have little or no negative impact to the vast majority of creators and would potentially have signficantly positive benefits for a large subset of creators - both the original creators and the people who can then build on their work.
Unfortunately, it's relatively easy for cynical corporations to hide behind rich, aging artists; it's even easier for them to drag out examples of impoverished aging artists (while simultaneously ignoring the fact that their creations obviously aren't returning any money at present; extending copyright terms isn't going to help that!). It's not as easy to sell the idea that more artists will actually earn more money if copyright terms are reduced...
Maemo. An open-source, mobile phone OS backed by a major telecomms company... and it flopped miserably.
Admittedly, it was something of a skunkworks project and Nokia was notoriously bad at OS development, but still: just because something's open source, it doesn't mean it's going to succeed.
(it's a shame though - my N800 is still the best ebook reader I've found: you can read it in the dark and with the backlight turned to minimum, it'll quite happily last for over 6 hours on a single charge...)
To me, $250 sounds quite expensive for a 7" tablet
A quick look on amazon.com (i.e. not amazon.co.uk) shows that the average price for a 7" Android tablet is around $180 (f'instance: http://www.amazon.com/Velocity-T301-7-Inch-Android-Tablet/dp/B004CFF6ZI/).
Now, given that Amazon has far better economies of scale for manufacturing and distribution, I'd expect them to be able to retail a similar piece of hardware at around $150 and still make a profit - even with the custom UI they've stuck atop Android. So why's it coming out at $250?
Plenty of negativity here...
Blimey: the government cuts bureaucracy and helps to fund employment, and people act like it's a bad thing...
Admittedly, there's almost certainly an element of unemployment-number-fiddling going on here, but at the same time, it's giving a reasonable chunk of young adults a chance to earn a bit of cash (more than being on the dole, judging by how much my younger brother is getting, now he's out of Uni and searching for a job) and gain some skills and experience; even if they're booted out of the scheme once the subsidies stop, they'll still be in a better position than they were when they started...
Y'know. 7 hours isn't really enough notice for a one-off show...
You get the feeling that someone forgot to promote this concert, given that it's only just popped up on places like el Reg and the Beeb (and over there, it's been dumped in the kiddies Newsbeat section, despite mostly involving games which are older than the average Newsbeat reader - http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/14738688)
If I'd found out about this a day or two earlier, I'd have been there!
Tablets are not toys...
They're just designed for online communication, media consumption and lightweight creation. You also need to bear in mind that "tablet" does not equal "Apple": their heavily-constrained iOS devices may currently be market leaders, but as per this very article, other systems are gaining traction - the Android tablets in particular offer many significant advantages (e.g. SD slots, USB ports).
So, to take each of your points and respond from a "generic" tablet viewpoint:
I'll fully agree that the "app" approach of Android and iOS is often constraining, but seriously: how many apps do you run on a portable laptop? How much of what you do is via the web-browser?
For me, the difference between 10 hours and 4 hours is the difference between recharging it weekly or every other day - and with their handy-dandy solid-state design and instant-on operating systems, it also means that I'm not as paranoid about firing the device up to quickly check something; booting up a laptop takes longer and drains more energy, as it fires up fans and spins up the HDD...
Horses for courses: a laptop is certainly better for "creation" tasks - typing, editing, etc. However, it's generally not usable in portrait mode (e.g. reading books or websites), they generally require a flat surface to sit on and they're usually at least double the weight of a tablet - for instance, the Thinkpad X1 is 1.7kg vs the 0.6kg of the iPad 2. I'd therefore argue that a tablet is more ergonomic in several situations: sitting on public transport, sprawled on the sofa, etc.
Laptops definitely have better connectivity, but Android tablets aren't too bad: many feature SD card slots and USB ports which can be used to plug in storage and input devices. As for tethering to your phone: Apple (and many phone companies) may have this locked down, but that's hardly a fault of the tablet. And I'd be intrigued to find out how your phone company will be able to detect the difference between a tablet and a laptop: the connection sharing system will be the same, regardless of the hardware.
As noted above, a tablet is generally at least half the weight of a laptop (if not a third or even a quarter); it's also physically substantially smaller, which means in turn that the bag carrying it can be smaller.
To an extent, this is debatable: many modern laptops are using SSDs to reduce weight and power consumption; they generally have more storage than a tablet, but it's a single-digit factor (e.g. 128gb instead of 32gb).
And one nice thing about laptops and non-Apple tablets is that you can easily slot more storage in via an SD card, at a far lower premium than the original manufacturer charges. Apple charges an extra £80 when you go from 32gb to 64gb; 32GB SDHC cards are now available for less than £30 - and you can easily carry half a dozen around if needed.
(And realistically: unless you want to take every single Star Trek episode with you, how much storage do you need to carry around?)
Personally, I agree: tablets are generally overpriced. But prices are dropping, even at retail; PC World is now selling the Advent Vega tablet for £199.99; Comet has a 10" tablet for £129.99 and Maplins have a 7" tablet for £99.
Last but not least: the advantage of a tablet is that I can easily carry it with me, as it's small and light. I can use it when standing on the train during the commuting rush-hour. I can watch movies in landscape mode or read books, comics and magazines, as they're intended to be viewed: held in one hand, in portrait mode. I can easily fire it up to check Facebook or search Google, and a single charge is enough to last me for a week of commuting.
It's very much horses for courses: a tablet isn't going to replace the laptop I use in the living room, or the quad-core monster sat upstairs which handles my video and photo processing activities. But for lightweight, portable consumption, a tablet is nigh-on perfect.
And one final, anecdotal point: I too own a Thinkpad - the touchscreen-enabled X41. Originally, I used to take this on the train with me (Sheffield to Leeds; 40 minutes on the train each way), but despite the fact that it's allegedly the lightest tablet PC ever made (1.2kg), it simply proved too heavy and bulky, so I switched to an iPad, which in turn allowed me to use a smaller, lighter bag rather than using a standard laptop bag. And in turn, this meant I felt a wee bit safer when walking through an inner-city area to get home, as it's no longer obvious that I have some potentially valuable hardware attached to my shoulder...
Ebay's current search isn't too bad...
It's actually surprisingly powerful, as it accepts a number of regex constructs. E.g.
1) "(blue,green) shirt" -- Find blue or green shirts
2) "pac* shirt" -- Find all shirts which mention "Pac" - e.g. Pacman, Pac-man, Pac Man, etc.
3) "pac* shirt -ghost" -- Find all "Pac*" shirts, but ignore those which mention "ghost"
It's not perfect - aside from anything else, adding these constructs often seems to remove valid results - but it's head and shoulders above the disaster which is Amazon's search system...
Have you checked the date?
The 3Ds price cut isn't due to take effect until August 12th... so it's not altogether surprising that sales have dropped!
(interestingly, second-hand sales in Japan have doubled, suggesting that people are trying to get one cheap so that they can get access to the free games Nintendo has promised to early adopters...)
I saw this...
"There is no mini-USB port, no mini-VGA, no HDMI and, incidentally, no SD card socket. As with Apple’s iPads, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is not designed to support user-upgradable/removable storage"
And that's when I stopped reading.
The lack of USB/VGA/HDMI isn't particularly problematic, but the lack of an SD-card slot is a complete failure, as it seriously limits what can be done with the device. For instance, a tablet this size is ideal for reviewing photos when away from home (even a 16gb card doesn't last too long when you're at a festival and mixing photos/video) - and if you're travelling long distances, it's nice being able to load up several cards with media to supplant the internal storage.
Though if I was feeling cynical (on a Friday? Never!), I could suggest that that's the point; Samsung get far more money if you buy a higher-specc'd model than if you just grab a cheap 32GB SDHC card off Ebay...
Bring on the Minigun...
Ah the joys of building up a mini-army of cyborgs and equipping them all with miniguns; it was like controlling your own Terminators...
From what I recall, Syndicate wasn't particularly hard to complete, but the American Revolt expansion pack didn't increase the difficulty: it flew it up to the top of Mount Everest and surrounded it with nuclear landmines. I can remember taking my squad of top-line, fully equipped enforcers into the first mission and watching them turn into a fine red mist about twenty seconds in...
Then there was Syndicate Wars, which I never really got into at the time (my PC wasn't powerful enough), though I recall it looked pretty stunning for a first-gen 3D game. I've got the PSX version sitting around somewhere... I'll have to slap it into the PS3 at some point!
That seems optimistic...
Sure, tablets are great for consuming media - but they make a lot of things very difficult. Tapping out a quick message on Facebook is easy enough, but I'd hate to try and use a full-blown word processor on a tablet. Similarly, reviewing and tweaking photos/video is a lot more difficult (and effectively impossible with the iPad, unless you spend more money on a SD card reader - and even then, the functionality is limited, especially when it comes to video codec support).
Music management is just as bad - I've not experimented much in Android, but the media player on the iPod Touch is completely reliant on a PC-hosted copy of iTunes; aside from the fact that you can only import songs via iTunes (barring any you buy via the iTunes app on the device), unless I've missed something, you can't create new playlists, edit existing playlists or delete songs.
And don't get me started on video processing - it's a bit of an edge case, but with 48 hours of footage going onto Youtube every minute of the day, there's a fair number of people waving video cameras around (myself included).
Sad to say though, Joseph is probably right in the long term: tablets are "good enough" for most people, and so will end up becoming dominant - it's notable that both Apple and Microsoft have made moves to make their desktop UIs look more like their handheld UIs - the WM7 interface has already been ported over to the Xbox 360's Dashboard, reducing it's functionality in the process. Quite why a UI designed for a small handheld screen is deemed appropriate for a device hooked up to a large 1080p screen is beyond me (albeit the screen resolutions are scarily similar). But I digress...
What happens in bad weather?
As I understand it, microwave links are affected by rain, snow and even high pollen counts; the latter may not be a huge problem in the highlands, but I'd expect rain and snow to make a fairly regular appearance, even if they're not accompanied by a Bohemian rhapsody of thunder and lightning...
Try something for me...
To an extent, I agree: strictly speaking, Web Browsers are not an operating system. But that's kinda missing the point: as with the hardware itself, these days the OS is becoming increasingly irrelevant.
So as an experiment, try unplugging your computer from the network. Go on, give it a go.
Now, what can you do with it? Bang goes media streaming (music/video/tv), access to server-configuration tools, music-downloading, web-browsing, email, instant messaging, online gaming, online apps (e.g. calendars, word processors), online storage, access to information sources (news, weather, search-engines, Wikipedia, etc) and several dozen other things besides.
Admittedly, ditching all of these is a great way of avoiding getting distracted. But at the same time, computers these days are generally used more as an access mechanism than as an actual tool; to pull out the obligatory car analogy, it's the difference between tinkering with the engine and driving to the shops.
And increasingly, we access online media and services via a single route: the web-browser. Even applications such as Steam and iTunes are little more than a wrapper to a browser-engine.
So yes: the browser is not the OS. But these days, does that really matter?
Those are big pockets...
I would have thought that height was more of a concern than width: the Dell Streak 7 is 200mm tall (7.9 inches). That's a pretty big pocket. And it also weighs 454g, or only slightly less than a 500ml bottle of pop. So your jacket will be heavily pulled down to one side. Unless you stick said bottle of pop into the pocket on the other side...
In any case, assuming that the height and weight aren't an issue, then according to my fag-packet calculations, Going to a 7", 4:3 screen would increase the width from 4.7 inches to around 5.7 inches (assuming the frame remains about the same) - or roughly the same size as an A5 piece of paper.
The pockets on the majority of jackets I own would be able to accommodate this - they comfortably take DVD cases and/or large paperbacks. As per above, I'd be more concerned about the fact that an inch or two of the unit would be sticking up out of the pocket, making it an easy target for damage and/or theft...
Fail on screen resolution...
In general, I prefer Android to iOS, but something Apple got right with the iPad was the decision to go for a 4:3 resolution display. At least in the West, it's significantly better for reading, as tablets tend to be held in "portait" mode and we read left-to-right. And most physical media (magazines/comics/newspapers/etc) are still presented in the 4:3 aspect, as are the majority of electronic documents (Word docs, PDFs, etc).
Give me an Android tablet with a 4:3 screen (and halfway decent battery life) and my iPad will be on Ebay quicker than you can say "SD card slot and no jailbreaking required"...
The problem here is...
That little phrase "With the iPhone propped up somehow".
It's always handy having a bit more flexibility when you're out and about, but unless you're able to carry some sort of stand about, this isn't going to be of too much use: the iPhone is not designed to stand vertically or horizontally.
Mind you, it's not the only one with this issue. I'd love to know which muppet designed the body for the Canon Ixus 300 HS: the underside is very narrow and curves upwards at the front, making it easily overbalanced when the lens is extended. On one occasion, a timed photo-shot failed in style, when a gust of wind overbalanced the camera and sent it tumbling off the concrete post and to the ground. Admittedly, the shots of the tarmac and the sky were amusing, but the scratches on the camera body weren't...
Rip Van Winkle called...
The X10 is still a decently specc'd phone - 1ghz, 384mb ram, 4" screen (854*480) - but really: the fact that it's taken over six months for Sony to bring out a firmware upgrade for their flagship phone model is nothing short of appalling.
Similar happened with the X10 mini - after several months of waiting for the upgrade from 1.6 to 2.1, I sold the phone and switched over to the LG Optimus, after which I wound up with a HTC Desire HD. The odds of my going back to a SE phone are fairly minimal...
Strum that plastic!
The problem for Guitar Hero was that Activision completely mis-read the market:
1) They saturated the market with too many variations and band-specific releases: Aerosmith, Metallica, Van Halen, DJ Hero, Band Hero, Warriors of Rock, etc
2) They insisted on keeping a cheesy vaudeville cartoon-band theme throughout the games
3) They focused on making the game attractive to "hardcore" gamers, with features such as locked content, a "story" mode and
4) Only a small subset of songs can be copied from individual game-disks to the HDD. As a result, you have to keep swapping discs (and waiting for the game to reload before re-configuring your band setup) to access all the songs
To be fair, Rock Band was guilty for most of these things too, but to a much lesser degree.
The question is: has Activision learned from it's mistakes, and will they actually put some effort into redeveloping the franchise? Or is this just an attempt to do a quick cash-grab in the hopes that people have forgiven and forgotten?
Sadly, I know which one I'm putting my money on...
A DX2-66? You were lucky...
I can't remember what the spec was of the PC I originally saw XCOM running on, but when I finally got hold of it, I played through both EU and TFTD on a 486 DX-33 with 8mb of ram. Which handled things surprisingly well - and in some ways gave me an advantage, as you could figure out how many aliens were left by timing how long the computer's turn took.
(I eventually had to give up on playing TFTD on that machine: it used the same game engine, but with Moore's law having marched on a bit, the developers (the game engine from EU was handed over to an in-house team while the Gollops worked on a more ambitious true sequel) made the levels much bigger and increased the number of aliens, thus increasing the AI-turn time to tea-brewing levels. I returned to it once I'd bought a DX2-50 a few months later. Them were t'days...)
Interestingly, X-com was also available on the Amiga, the CD32 and the Playstation - I've seen the Amiga one running and own both EU and TFTD on the Playstation :)
And there's some nice background history on the series here:
As regards the new game: it'll be interesting to see the new game, but it ain't X-com. Admittedly, if you squint a little at X-com Apocalypse, you can make something of a case for the 1950's setting being "canon", but I'd peg the main influences of XCOM as Dark Skies (alien invasion series, set in the 1960s), X-Files and Men in Black...
I've sometimes wondered...
about the possibility of using a Sterling engine to power a heatsink fan - after all, it'd be drawing it's power from the heat it needs to dissipate and the hotter the CPU got, the faster the engine would work. Unfortunately, it'd probably need a normal motor to get things moving until heat levels are high enough and there's probably several dozen other flaws I haven't thought of yet :)
Back to this device: dust getting into the airgap seems like a potential concern: there's plenty of stuff which can get into a 3-micron gap (http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/particle-sizes-d_934.html). I'm not sure weight is an issue though - if anything, I'd expect a "Sandia" cooler to be lighter than a standard "metal+fan" heatsink: as it's more efficient, less metal is needed for the same "cooling" capabilities and it also doesn't need the plastic frame and fanblades of the fan (though it still needs the motor). And I'd assume that the centrifugal forces would keep the airgap size consistent, regardless of the heatsink's angle relative to the planet's gravitational pull.
On the other hand, the electric motor has to spin a relatively heavy chunk of metal, rather than a set of lightweight plastic blades. So you'll need a more powerful motor; together with the high-precision needed to mill the two pieces for the airgap, it may be difficult for a Sandia cooler to be competitively priced against a traditional heatsink setup...
The original Speccy just had a simple beeper (much as with the early PC) and triggering it caused all other processing to halt. Ergo, no music while playing games. However, Matt figured out how to trigger the beeper via interrupts, allowing him to write a game engine which alternated between processing events and generating sound (i.e. move, beep, move, beep, etc).
As a result, as you lost lives (which were displayed at the bottom of the screen as animated characters), the less the Spectrum had to process inbetween beeps and the faster the music got...
The audio on Youtube is probably too compressed to be usable. However, there's been plenty of examples of people taking the audio from a TZX (tape image) file and dumping it into an MP3 player, which can then be plugged into a real Speccy...
It's all getting a bit manic...
Ah, the joys of pixel-perfect gaming ;)
If anyone's interested in a bit of history: Manic Miner was inspired by Miner 2049(er) and was developed on a Tandy computer by Matt Smith. A fall-out over royalty payments led to Matt and Bug-Byte falling out; Matt went on to found Software Projects and then created the ultimate British Surreal Platformer: Jet Set Willy. Which also included one of the first DRM systems: once loaded, you had to enter the 4-digit number from a colour code-card before the game would start...
[BTW: both Manic Miner and JSW are available on World of Spectrum - and WOS also offers the ability to play both games in your web-browser, via a Java Spectrum emulator...]
Unfortunately, Matt's newfound fame and fortune led to things getting a bit out of hand (hey, he was 17 when he wrote MM) and much of the money from his two games were ploughed back into Software Projects and various anti-piracy systems (the DRM system mentioned above and custom-made cassettes); these weren't particularly effective and other companies failed to show any significant interest in buying them. After a while, Matt faded into obscurity, broke and puttering around Europe squatting in communes and doing odd jobs.
In the meantime, the internet popped into being and people started asking "where is Matt Smith". Eventually he resurfaced (partly via an Italian documentary, of all things), appeared at retro-gaming conventions and started to earn royalties again - for instance, from the Elite iPhone Spectrum emulator package. So things have picked up for him a bit!
Anyhoo, here endeth the history lesson...
Warning: turbo-charged GPU needed...
It'll be interesting to see what happens if this goes ahead - doubling the dimensions quadruples the number of on-screen pixels, and at 1536 x 2048, you're starting to get to the point where even high-end PCs with their dedicated GPUs can feel a little strained.
F'instance, a quick look at Tom's Hardware shows that a budget-level GPU such as the Radeon 5570 struggled to push out 30fps at 1920*1200 (2.3 million pixels vs the 3.1 million pixels of the rumoured iPad 3 display). And that's despite the fact that it's backed by 512mb of dedicated RAM, paired with a 4-core 3ghz CPU and has a far higher power budget than a mobile device could ever hope to have - during playing sessions, the GPU alone drew 53 watts.
All told, the iPad 3 may well have a double-res display, but (much as with the Xbox 360), I wouldn't be surprised if it also included a hardware upscaler, so that games can be rendered at 1024*768 and then given some "free" anti aliasing via the upscaler...
There's certainly an iPhone/iPod Touch Facebook app...
But there isn't a native iPad app: instead, you have to run the iPhone version, with the "2x" upscaling enabled. Which looks pretty poor - and compared to the Android app, the functionality feels quite limited)
(you also have to ask: why has it taken Facebook so long to produce a native iPad version? The iPad was released over a year ago and has sold in very healthy numbers to the "young professional" demographic which *hearts* sites such as Facebook and Linkedin)
If there is a new iOS app coming out, hopefully they can improve on the functionality of the Android app. In my experience, the chat system is broken and it has a nasty habit of caching old page views - so when you get a notification that a comment's arrived, you can't actually see what the comment is! And I'd love to take a cluebat to whichever genius decided that on a device with potentially limited bandwidth (3G reception in Leeds and Sheffield is patchy at best), the app should load images before text...
A good craftsman...
can make anything with even the basest of tools ;)
To be fair, the N8 is pretty impressive and camera phones have come a long way; these days, I'm quite happy to snapshots random things on my Desire HD, tweak the results and punt the image over to Facebook.
But camera-phones are (currently) fundamentally limited by the physical restrictions of their design (no optical zoom, limited flash range, heavy drain on phone battery) and are a relatively expensive - and secondary - feature, so tend to be underspecc'd, in much the same way as PC manufacturers tend to skimp on memory and hard-drive space.
In many ways, the N8 is the exception - but it comes at a significant cost; 9 months after launch, it's still priced over £330 (Carphone have it on PAYG at £429). Meanwhile, my Canon Ixus 200 HS has equal or better specs (24mm lens, 5x optical zoom, 1080p video recording, etc) and started at £199 when it was launched in March; 4 months later, it's now down to £169 on Amazon.
To be fair, the day someone figures out how to cram optical zoom onto the back on a mobile phone, the pocket-compact camera days will be officially numbered. But we're a long way off that yet...
24mm lens, not 28mm. Wider-widescreen ;)
It's slightly out of the suggested price range [*]
But I can highly commend the Canon Ixus 220 HS - 5x optical zoom, 12 megapixels, 28mm lens and 1080p video at 25fps and a solid metal casing - it's quite happily sat in my pocket alongside house/car keys without taking damage. Like the 115 HS, it has the newfangled CMOS sensor; unlike the 115 HS, you can zoom while recording with audio enabled (though the camera does apply some sort of audio-noise filter while zooming; it's not particularly obtrusive, but can be noticable - e.g. when recording live music).
Oh, and on holiday, I managed to get over 400 photos and a few video clips from a single battery charge (and around 200 from the cheap 3rd party batteries I picked up from Ebay - you get what you pay for!). Admittedly, this was pretty much all daylight photography, so I wasn't using the flash much, but it's still pretty impressive!
[*] RRP is £200 - though Canon were doing a £20 rebate when I bought it (which arrived surprisingly quickly in the post); a quick look on Amazon shows it's available for £169 now - and probably less elsewhere...
Got another one!
This little thread just reminded me that I need a ticket for Judas Priest (hey, it's their last-ever world tour [*]). A quick search for an alternative to Ticketmaster threw up the following:
Ticket face value: £36.00
Booking fee: £4.50
Transaction fee: £5.25
(optional) "cancellation" insurance: £1.50
Total: £45.75 - or £47.25 if you opt for the insurance.
In other words, the surcharge is 27% of the ticket's face value (31% with the insurance)! And I'd love to know what the difference between a "booking" fee and a "transaction" fee is....
And interestingly, despite the fact that processing fees shouldn't be affected by the price of the ticket (same paper, same ink, same database, same stamps, same human resource), a quick look at cheaper tickets shows that the booking and transaction fees were significantly lower:
Ticket face value: £27.50
Booking fee: £2.75
Transaction fee: £2.00
In other words, the "fees" for this ticket are 4.75, or roughly 17.5% of the ticket's face value, rather than the 27% for the JP ticket.
[*] may be subject to change, if a band member needs a new Ferrari. To be fair, JP have been going for over 40 years and haven't got a history of claiming to be retired, so it's more likely to be true than with certain other comeback-kings...
Shoot the airline firms down in flames...
And then can someone please take a clue-bat to event-ticket companies? F'instance, I recently ordered a set of tickets for a show in Manchester, and was presented with three "delivery" options:
1) First class post: £3.25 (i.e. ticket + envelope + stamp + packing)
2) Collect at venue: £3.25 (i.e. ticket + an extra task for the bouncers on the door)
3) Self-print: £3.25 (i.e. nothing other than a few electrons and a handful of bytes in a database)
Now, to my admittedly simple mind, 3) should be cheaper than 2), which in turn should be cheaper than 1). But the Master of Tickets has decided to pass none of these savings onto the consumer.
So naturally, I either opt for 1) or try to buy tickets directly from the venue/local music-shop: if I have to pay a surcharge, I'd rather give it to the local community...
Sometimes, less is more...
This article feels like a troll, and I probably shouldn't throw some bait to it, but...
The problem with having multiple standards is that - much as with natural language - there's several costs incurred when converting and/or switching between them. The most obvious of which are time (i.e. the time needed to carry out the conversion) and accuracy (e.g. treating an inch as 2.5cm rather than 2.54cm).
In other words, there's a measurable cost associated with using multiple standards - and an equally measurable risk of mistakes being made. And as far as I can see, there's no real benefits to having multiple standards (unlike natural - and programming - languages, where it's often possible to express something in a clearer and/or more concise fashion in language A than in language B - and vice versa).
If someone can think of a genuinely good reason to have multiple standards, then I'll be all ears!
I absolutely agree...
There's been a gap in the market for years for a "psion" sized device which can be carried in a pocket but have a keyboard big enough for comfortable thumb-typing while travelling. I've tried a few of the swivel-clamshell phones (e.g. the O2 XDA) but the keyboards have simply been too small.
That said, there are a couple of devices with the right form-factor, which I saw when stumbling around China's electronic market the other week while on holiday. Casio do an electronic dictionary which is physically the right size, but is somewhat crippled on the OS/software side. There's a few MID devices with keyboards (Aigo do one with a slide-down keyboard similar to the Nokia N810/N900) , but the "flat" form factor isn't great and it's running some sort of custom OS. And there was also a smattering of "educational" ultra portables, similar to the Casio but with slightly more functionality - but they're designed for young chinese students (i.e. primary school age), so the functionality is a bit limited. Though one did have a lot of potential: the display sat inside a frame, so it could be flipped 180 degrees to turn the device into a tablet.
All told, if someone could get one of these devices and slap Android onto it, I'd buy one in a heartbeat...
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