75 posts • joined 29 May 2012
The problem won't be solved by political pressure, but by economic pressure. Nobody gives a crap about my privacy... but there are hundreds of billions of dollars at stake even in the short term - and orders of magnitude more, in the long term, globally. As Schneier has rightly pointed out, our economy runs on trust, and the NSA has rather foolishly destroyed almost all of it.
If I was Satya Nadella, I'd immediately announce that Microsoft was going to bat against the US government's security policies, throwing at the problem just as much money, and as many lobbyists, as it takes. Same for the heads of Google, Apple, AT&T and every other big US corporation. They have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. If they don't do it, some other nation will - their big IT companies will get together with the government and establish procedures to build user-verifiable trust. Once that happens, Silicon Valley will never again be the center of the digital world.
Wouldn't it be hilarious if it was Russia that did it first?
You're not helping
"Yet that would mark the end of Nintendo as an innovator and originator of hardware. We all saw how well that went for Sega."
Sega is doing just fine. It could be doing much better, if it hadn't gutted itself financially by fielding two totally unwanted hardware platforms (Dreamcast, Saturn).
Mike - you blame Nintendo for being deceived by the success of the Wii, yet you unquestioningly accept the more fundamental error, dating back to the NES and SNES, of thinking that Nintendo ever was or ever will be a hardware company. Nintendo brings only negative value to hardware. They've never made money on hardware. They've created hardware, as needed, to sell their great GAMES. That's a risky proposition, but workable. Making hardware when it's NOT needed is madness. Attempting to "innovate" in hardware -- when you're fundamentally a software company -- is suicide.
Hardware is expensive, risky and only marginally profitable. It's a business for experts like Samsung... maybe even Sony, on a good day. (Walkman, yes; PS4, no.) These companies can be efficient enough and expert enough to survive on thin margins. They're big enough to gamble billions on risky product choices. (And even then, they can fail spectacularly.) Nintendo is beyond stupid to get into that meat grinder. (As is Microsoft, for another example.)
If instead of building the Game Cube (never mind the Wii), Nintendo had aimed its next wave of franchise titles at readily available hardware -- Xbox, PS, PC and mobile -- they'd be rolling in profits now. Instead, they're stretched too thin to even produce more great games. They're going to go down in flames... by attempting to innovate in hardware.
Great software will ALWAYS be more important -- and more profitable -- than the hardware it runs on.
Seems to me the image enhancement worked just as it should. But in any case, thanks very much for the link to the full-size pic. It should have been included in the original article. I am constantly amazed how little use news sites make of the linking abilities of the Web. Are they afraid we'll find something more interesting and never come back?
Absolutely right about Apple - it's Google that's winning the race, and doing so because it's offering the virtues that used to be Microsoft's, such as (relative) openness and responsiveness.
There once was a unified vision at Microsoft: to deliver the hottest technology to the user, faster and cheaper than anyone else. There are many examples. Support for the 386 processor. Protected-mode multitasking. Big memory and 64-bit processing. The Windows PC succeeded because it offered more horsepower, sooner and cheaper than the competition. It was never the sexiest, but it was always the best overall value. Now Ballmer has become dazzled by overpriced consumer devices, forgetting that it was power, not pizzazz, that made Microsoft successful.
Ballmer's tenure at the helm has been dubbed "Microsoft's lost decade". An unflattering term that is misused by many who blithely ignore that Ballmer's tenure still saw Microsoft grow profits by an average of over 15 per cent per year to a company with a net income of $23bn. We should all hope to fail so well.
Baloney. Ballmer reaped those profits by allowing the company to coast on momentum. Now the momentum is gone, and competitors who kept their foot on the gas are far ahead. Ballmer allowed Windows and Office to languish, while turning a huge lead in mobile devices (including both handhelds and tablets) into a total disaster. That's not the kind of FAIL anyone should aspire to.
Re: Microsoft market share not growing?
fishman said: "So the growth of Windows Phone has been at the expense of Windows Mobile."
Exactly right. And at the expense of BlackBerry. Have you ever met anyone who would even contemplate giving up their iPhone for a WinPhone?? It is to laugh.
As far as that 150% growth... that's mathematically inevitable for any product that's starting from scratch. (Growth from zero market share to 0.01% is literally infinite, but completely meaningless) In reality, Microsoft is spending billions to subsidize its meager 3.6%, while Apple is making a juicy profit off its 12.1%. The two are much further apart than the high-level statistics suggest.
Microsoft's mistake was even thinking about competing with Apple, when Google is the big, fat target. And the one taking business that should have been Microsoft's, based on qualities like (relative) openness and friendliness with third-party hardware OEMs. If Microsoft had smoothly evolved Windows Mobile, perhaps making it play nicer with Windows proper, today it would BE Android.
Re: Silly squabling
"And yet they are priced at a fraction of the cost and remain the standard news games are developed for..."
Let me stop you right there.
First, you need to own TWO feeble, nearly-identical systems in order to own "the standard(s) new games are developed for." Otherwise, you will miss exactly half the exclusive titles. Second, in order to get the full experience (e.g. multiplayer, or Netflix) you have to play for online access - for the entire life of the system. Third, you WILL need to upgrade the internal storage almost immediately. Add that all up, and a nice mid-range PC starts too look like a pretty good bargain.
Moreover, with 65 million users, Steam is a comparable market to either the Xbox 360 or PS4, and therefor just as important a "standard" for game development - and literally INFINITELY more attractive to developers right now than either the Xbone or PS4, which are starting with an installed base of roughly ZERO. If those new gizmos don't sell like hotcakes this Christmas, everyone who does buy one is going to be a very sad little kiddy next year.
Re: Silly squabling
I find it hilarious that people are rushing out to buy two consoles that are not only internally identical to (feeble) PCs, but internally identical to each other! While remaining totally incompatible with each other, with the PC, and even with their own previous generations. ROFLMAO was never a more appropriate acronym.
Sure, there are (very) minor differences (cache memory). And there is some (minor) benefit to faster memory access (offset by the meagre 8GB allocation of unified memory - my PC has 18, and it's trailing edge). But the fact remains, the Xbone and PS4 COULD have been released as competing OSes running on stock PC hardware. Of course, nobody would have given them a second look. As pieces of laughably inadequate, completely redundant hardware, they're a litmus test for the gullibility of the gaming fan.
Re: a solution is required
"The point is, Minecraft is a one-in-a-million occurance where a developer hit it big first time."
Minecraft is far from the only example. It's just the most over-the-top lucrative one, so far.
"How many great games that we know today would not have existed had the studios that made them not gained any revenue from prior titles?"
Nobody is arguing against software creators getting paid. But history does not guarantee immortality to any one business model. The old model where you could sell exactly one product to one consumer broke when the 'cost of manufacture' and 'cost of distribution' dropped to zero. That world is gone, and DRM won't bring it back. The only option is to move forward and evolve new business models. Crippling new, transformative technologies has never worked.
Hey, Steve... it's MicroSOFT, not MicroPHONE...
If I owned a cash cow like Windows, I'd certainly take better care of it and pay it more attention. Instead of always looking for some other pet project to play with...
@ge said: "So before anyone starts countering your argument I think they should keep this in mind as well; with consoles you can't be sure that the thing you bought will continue working as you expected it to."
When Microsoft 'upgraded' us to Windows Genuine Advantage, I turned off all auto-updates on my PC. I've never regretted it, and frequently congratulated myself on the horrors that have passed me by. On a console, alas, this is not an option.
Darth Vader said: "I am altering our deal. Pray I do not alter it any further."
Regarding Steam - it's all about trust. Unlike other vendors, Valve has actually given people a fair deal, and slowly built up their trust that the system will not be abused. That's not a defense... just an observation.
No, you don't (quite) own your Steam games. But you do often get a better price, if you wait for the frequent and very dramatic sales. Games are NOT locked to a particular piece of hardware. On the contrary, you get the ability to install the game as often as you like, wherever you like, on PC, Mac or Linux. You do get the ability to play the game (almost?) indefinitely offline, once you've initially validated it onilne. Horrible corrupting malware is NOT installed on your computer. In fact, game installation is easier, more reliable and less intrusive than with a disc-based copy. (DRM is not even mandatory... Steam simply makes it available to each publisher.)
This is all on the plus side. The potential downside is not completely erased. We can't know what might happen if Valve were to go bust. But I think you'll find that some 50 million users are fairly convinced that if Valve ever does go out of business, it will unlock all the games before it 'turns out the lights.'
This highlights a key fact about DRM. It is not only wrong in principle... it's typically ALSO executed unbelievably badly. 'DRM done right' would have been accepted by the public without a murmur. Steam is one of the few examples. Ironically, we won't be able to make a final judgment on Steam until it does someday disappear.
Thanks, LoCatus! After 200+ comments, at last the perfect response.
Re: Microsoft had sold 100 million licenses of Windows 8
Not even the most desperate Windows 8 booster can claim that Win8 has been any kind of stimulus to the market. Windows 8 isn't helping to sell PCs, and it certainly isn't helping to sell Windows tablets, or Windows Phones.
Microsoft could survive this kind of 'wet firecracker' release back when it really did have the world by the throat. But today, it's under the gun. PC sales are sliding, and companies like Apple are picking up the slack. At this point, 'good enough' just isn't good enough.
Microsoft really needed to 'hit one out of the park' with Win8. Instead, it has failed to motivate droves of PC upgraders, failed to carve out a significant niche in mobile devices.... while at the same time alienating corporate customers and droves of die-hard fans. Just how much more epic could the fail have been?
Re: Quantum, eh?
As far as I can see, the findings presented in the article simply show an unrelated confirmation of Relativity, rather than a specific refutation of the possibility of Collapsar travel. Moreover, there remains a great deal we do not understand - such as why 95% of the Universe remains unaccounted-for, or why Relativity and Quantum Mechanics can't be reconciled. For starters. Milk and sugar in mine, thanks.
First, while Man is obviously dangerous to Man, it is the height of hubris to think the Universe is losing sleep over our popguns and petty bickering. Second, Man is no more violent than, say, bacteria. Or my cats, which fight constantly, for no apparent reason. Third, eternity is a very long time, and there is a great deal we still do not know.
You're on to something, Eradicate, but I think preventing people using the patented concept is still too much power. I prefer Martin's elaboration: use it or lose it. All 'IP' law should work that way. If nothing else, it would eliminate the 'copyright limbo' that now imprisons so many creative works.
Still wouldn't stop Apple from patenting the rectangle, though. That needs real reform in the patent process.
1 Rafayal: "And you can do the same in Word 2007 upwards."
Do what - customise the toolbar? I hope you're not referring to that miserable handful of squinty little icons you can add, incongruously, to the title bar of the window...?
Whether or not you assemble it yourself, the important thing is NOT to buy a packaged PC from any of the brand-name vendors. These companies use commodity components purchased at rock-bottom prices, in order to fatten their slim profit margins. When you spec out a rig yourself, you can cherry-pick top-notch brand-name components, for only a little more money. This makes a vast difference in performance, and more importantly, reliability.
Too many PC purchasers don't realize that having a trusted logo on each component is far better than having one familiar logo on the outside of a box full of no-name rubbish. I think it's a big reason that PC sales have slumped - too many consumers have been burned by junkpile brand-name PCs.
Re: A few comments
Ironclad said: "Plus joypads suck, keyboards and mice for teh win."
This is the key, and belongs up top, way ahead of clock speeds, cores, or polygon capacity. The 'console' as we know it is defined by a painfully 'low-bandwidth' user interface, the ubiquitous gamepad. This feeble device is the chief constraint on console gaming. It offers basic four-way directional control, and a minimal number of buttons, thereby severely restricting the human-game interaction. Witness the Sony PS4 launch, where we saw nearly photo-realistic characters jerking around like insanely detailed 3D versions of Pac-Man. Rendering just doesn't matter - there is simply no way the player can move their onscreen avatar with anything resembling real-life fluidity.
There's another point, equally important. Gamepads have the wrong TYPE of control. They control velocity, not position. Rotation, not angle. (It's a first-derivative thing, if you recall any high-school calculus). This is simply NOT the way humans think and move. When I turn to my friend, I'm rotating to THIS angle... not STARTING rotation, waiting, then STOPPING rotation. Similarly, if I aim a weapon, I don't START sweeping to the right, then STOP. I turn a few degrees right. I turn TO a given location, not AT a given rate.
Taken together, the limitations of the gamepad result in dumbed-down games. Good console games are built around those limitations, so players may not notice what's been done. But the richness and depth of a PC game like ArmA, or Flight Simulator, or Civilization, or even Battlefield, is simply not on the menu. (It's easy to think of other examples.)
Add the openness of the PC ecosystem, and the gap widens still further. The new 'social' features of the PS4 emphasize this gap, rather than narrowing it. Yes, you can press "Share." On the PC, you can connect to multiple services simultaneously. You can count on developers finding new ways to deliver games, sell games, tie games into resources that don't even exist yet. You can count on a 'mod' community inventing anything the developers miss. (And in turn spurring commercial development to new achievements.) This vibrant ecosystem will always produce faster evolution than a console monoculture.
To go back to the car analogy, it's more like the difference between a train and a helicopter. The train can switch tracks, at pre-determined points. It can go faster or slower. The helicopter can wander freely in three-space. The train is constrained by a cumbersome switching system, operated by a very limited number of corporate bodies. The helicopter can be privately owned, and hence upgraded or modified, taken 'off the grid,' to locations not served by the rail network.
Of course, even that strained comparison falls short of capturing the actual gulf we're talking about. A gulf that will continue to widen, given that the growing power of the PC will not be constrained by the human interface, while the advancing clock cycles of a PS4 or even PS5 will be increasingly wasted, as far as gameplay potential.
Re: I'd rather own it.
Thus spake MachDiamond: "...how many times have OS upgrades been released only to find some massive bugs when it is used in the real world?"
It's actually worse than that - not just a question of bugs, but of actual malice. When Microsoft foisted WGA on Windows users as a "software update," I turned off auto-updates on all my software. And have never looked back. There is no way I'm going to give any company the authority to modify software on my computer - simple as that.
The article does hit the high points, but some of the choices are impossible to justify. Close Encounters??? It's barely SF at all, and surely one of the dumbest, most tedious, insipid films of all time, in any genre. Star Trek?? A great franchise, to be sure, and a fairly noble intent in this first big-screen adaptation. But NOT a good movie. Planet of the Apes? Allegory, yes. Fun, yes. Science...? Hardly!
Meanwhile, lots of truly important films are omitted, that offer much more in the way of both SF ideas and cinematic merits. Here are a few suggestions: Metropolis, Island of Lost Souls, Destination Moon, Timecrimes, The Andromeda Strain, The Man in the White Suit, The Man from Earth, Colossus: The Forbin Project, 2010, Things to Come...
A few others have been mentioned in previous posts, but I'm sticking to 'hard' SF that works well as film. I do have a high regard for Primer, but it seems more surreal than scientific, to me. Frankenstein Unbound, at the opposite extreme, is another close call... a very under-rated film, but a bit more allegorical than scientific. A better case could be made for Alien, which has a strong SF basis, despite its horror trappings...
Re: leading down a sinkhole
Couldn't agree more. Shuttleworth is deliberately muddying the waters here. It's not the *idea* of a more-commercial Ubuntu that people object to, but the specific way Shuttleworth is doing it... by adding spyware, or building a UI that's needlessly unfamiliar.
Listening to the core audience does NOT make a company weak. There's a difference between leadership and sheer bloody-mindedness.
"Hate" is the wrong word. Try "disappointment," "disillusionment" or "dismay." Ubuntu has long been the de facto standard-bearer for Linux on the desktop. It's a blow to see it going off the rails in some key ways. Too many once-great companies have self-destructed over the years, with the first symptom being an arrogant belief that they no longer needed to listen to their core customer base.
Re: A lot of work...
Anonymous Coward grunted: "For example, it's also illegal in Finland, Canada and Australia."
Slight clarification... In Canada, 'bypassing digital locks' is illegal, but owning (or downloading) the tools to do so is not. No Canadian has ever been 'done' for watching a DVD in Linux, and under the newly-revised copyright law, there's essentially no chance that anyone ever will.
Robert E Harvey sez: "I've not forgotten what carp WM6 & 6.5 were..."
Actually, WM was a great OS, for its time. Powerful. UI a bit limited, but easily upgraded. Tons of superb apps (we called it 'software,' back then). MS should have evolved WM into the niche now usurped by the bizarro WP. Instead, it threw away backward compatibility (previously a company hallmark), and threw a sizable population of WM users under the bus. A couple of years from now, they'll probably do the same to everyone who swallows the current WP pitch.
Re: Who would have thought?
spazinvader sez: "Ha ha. Please come back and post here once you have actually started using Windows 8."
Been there, done that. And yes, you really do get thrown back to the "same old crufty desktop" for a lot of 'real work. For instance, how about file copy? I think that qualifies as 'real work.' Or making configuration settings that are inexplicably not available from the Charms bar? Pretty real. Or how about running Office - even the very latest version? Yep, still on the desktop, and cruftier than ever.
Re: ELOP FAIL
Anonymous coward theorized: "Actually the latest Gartner figures show that WP phone sales are still climbing steeply and that they just went over 3% of market share....Whilst it hass taken a long time, they are on course to gain a substantial chunk of the market..."
Your "on course" assertion is a unwarranted and highly optimistic extrapolation from a very small data set. Looking through the other end of the telescope, 3% has to be seen as a puny achievement. It shows that WinPhone has entirely failed to set the market on fire. And at this point in history, nothing less will suffice.
Getting from, say, 1% to 3% required nothing more than sweeping up a few adventurous geeks and die-hard fanbois. Making a serious dent in Apple or Google's 30-40% shares is quite a different matter. It would mean wooing strongly-committed customers away from platforms they already know they like.
The various comparisons to Zune in this thread are apt. The fact that Zune wasn't a terrible product is exactly the point. As with WinPhone, Microsoft was very late to the party, and offered very little new benefit to shift customers who'd already had time to establish strong allegiances. And on top of all that, Microsoft did a terrible job building the ecosystem, demonstrated monumental ineptitude in its marketing, and generally confused and alienated everyone.
Not 'smart' enough!
Obviously, TV is all about the content. But 'smart' TV does make sense. The problem is, no one has done (or is about to do) it right. A fragmented market of proprietary TV ecosystems and user interfaces is a nightmare, not a benefit to the consumer.
'Smart' TV today is simply not smart enough to be worth the effort.
On the other hand, an Android-enabled TV would make perfect sense. Then the controls would be standard, and the selection of apps would be big enough to be interesting. Integration with tablets or smartphones would be easy... Eventually, I'd have a tablet (or other Android device) on my coffee table as a remote. When the main TV was occupied with content, the tablet screen would let someone browse the channel guide, or maybe watch something else. (A programmable tablet controller would also neatly solved the insane problem of proliferating remotes, over which the AV industry should feel constant shame.)
All easy to do, no new technology required. Unfortunately, no one is doing it.
Even the Google TV fails, by trying to build some new dumbed-down interface, and a new, restricted app ecosystem. Still, the potential is evident. When I was trying out Sony's Google TV box, I found myself wishing it could play content from my local SMB network shares. Even with the miserable selection of apps specifically approved for Google TV, I was able to find an audio/video player app that did exactly what I wanted. This brought the whole concept to life. Wow - TV that can expand to do whatever I want! (Video calling? Download a Skype app. Don't like the built-in browser? Grab Dolphin, or Firefox.) If 'Google TV simply gave me unrestricted access to the entire Google Play library, under the familiar Android UI - plus transparent integration with other Android devices - I wouldn't want to be without it.
Bottom line, 'smart' TV should be about enabling familiar and desirable capabilities. Not larding on individual, proprietary features that no one asked for, and which make TV harder to use.
Unfortunately, AV manufacturers have no idea how to deliver that future - partly because they're congenitally unable to cooperate, and partly because software is a world they deeply fail to understand. I've long ago given up on Microsoft, which itself has closed, propriety products on the brain nowadays. But Google could step up, and I can't understand why Google TV has been such a feeble effort. The doomsday scenario is that Apple will walk in with a closed, infuriatingly limited - yet moderately usable - product and take over. As they did in phones. For some reason, the TV industry seems unable to learn from that historical precedent.
Re: Duped by the clueless and the media
Anonymous coward sez: "It's always comical to read the opinions of those who think by passing some legislation that the ills of society will suddenly be resolved. Nothing could be further from the truth."
No... what is truly comical (not to mention frightening) is how you can ignore the excellent empirical evidence that proves you wrong. Countries that have passed moderate gun-control legislation have seen dramatic declines in gun-related deaths, and in mass-shooting incidents. There are quite a few good examples... Australia, for one. There's no need to theorize: legislation does work, and need not be draconian.
If you see modest, reasonable gun-control laws as an unbearable infringement on your liberties, you clearly have no idea what civilization looks like.
The original text works
Only a total idiot would think it's okay to pull a phrase out of context when interpreting a legal document. Taken in context, the term "the people" is clearly intended in the collective sense. Had the founders intended to arm paranoid hicks, they'd have said "citizens" or even "individual citizens" instead.
A similar problem comes up with patent and copyright law. The IP industry conveniently ignores the beginning of the relevant clause: "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts..." Which renders unconstitutional any laws that demonstrably do NOT "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts."
Unfortunately, even the most clever language is useless when interpretation is left to rogues and fools.
Good piece - it's rare to see such unintended irony. But of course, you could do a similar study about any profession and come up with the same, equally ludicrous result.
Obviously, everyone thinks they're the "organizational conscience." In practice, however, it turns out that everyone's morals are tempered by pragmatism, expedience and the herd instinct. Most of us do the best we can in an imperfect world. Some do better than others.
I've known a surprising number of PR people who were honest and hard-working, who made a strenuous effort to pick clients who let them be that way. And I've known masses of journalists who were happy to go with the flow, to write what they were supposed to write, and, above all, to believe what they were supposed to believe. It's relatively rare to hear an editor flat out say: if you write this, you're history. But it's commonplace to see journalists just sort of accidentally not get promoted, for trying too hard to be the "organizational conscience" - espousing unpopular points of view, or speaking out just a little too frankly about an advertiser's product. Most journalism, is, after all, paid for by advertising. In fact, most of us earn a living, maybe indirectly, by flogging a 'product.'
Bill Hicks certainly wasn't wrong to rail against "marketing and advertising." But PR didn't create the idea of self-serving dishonesty; PR was created by a civilization that values honesty far less than ambition and profitability. The worst excesses of PR truly have been ludicrous. It's useful to ridicule such obvious failings of other professions. As long as we don't forget to be embarrassed at the frequently low standards of our own.
I think it's really clever of Sony to issue this unique pro-copyright album in such tiny quantities... ensuring that the only way 99.9% of Dylan fans will ever hear it is to pirate it. Brilliant!! Sony, you've certainly struck a blow for copyright... right to the back of your own cranium.
Re: Mint FTW
Number6 said: "it's just that they're listening to users a bit better and are producing what people want rather than the "we know best" approach pioneered by Microsoft and taken up by Canonical/Ubuntu."
You nailed it. Disregard of user privacy is a secondary problem. The deeper issue here is that Canonical, like too many other development organizations today, have stopped listening to their user base. In fact, they're acting as though it is somehow 'macho' to ignore any preferences expressed by the customer. I hope they enjoy eating their own dog food, because company's not coming...
"Apple has always been FAR more evil than Microsoft (and I own about 7 or 8 Apple products)."
It doesn't bother you that you knowingly ENABLED them to be far more evil? At least they did it for billions in earnings. You sold your soul just for the sake of having "7 or 8" shiny new toys.
"Basically put, with the EU standard you can be sure the wire from your charger will plug into the port on your device. Can you actually be sure the charger will charge your device?"
Yes, I can be sure, because the standard would make me free to select any decent-quality high-amp charger.
The point of the standard clearly isn't to guarantee that every charger will work with every device, day one. The point is to ensure that consumers are ABLE to buy a single charger that will work with all their devices. Since chargers are already tending to offer the highest amperage needed by current devices, the overall effect would be that most halfway-decent chargers would indeed handle any device.
But that's looking at it backwards anyway. The real point here is that there's simply no reason to have more than one type of connector - except to create an undeserved consumer lock-in. Governments are right to regulate this sort of corporate behavior... given that some consumers will always be idiots enough not to shun it.
Sideshow Bob: "Do they give out Nobel prizes for attempted chemistry?"
Re: Oh, how the ghost of you clings
Of course there are reasons why comics "got darker and edgier and complex." But there is a downside. The kind of light entertainment that comics provided from the 1940s through the early 1990s has now essentially vanished. Too many comics today, even some of the better ones, are too much *work* to read. Maus is a great example... I honestly don't *want* to experience the Holocaust as re-enacted by rodents. (Call me shallow if you like.)
Yes, I did very much enjoy 'Y The Last Man.' I see this series as a real ray of hope. Vaughan knows how to spin an entertaining yarn, even while dealing with darker themes. Previously, I was equally impressed with Bendis' 'Alias,' a series that managed to be adult while dealing with superheroes (in the Marvel Universe, no less), and entertaining while working through reasonably mature storylines.
But what I really miss is my monthly fix of Nexus or Zot!. The Lee/Ditko Spider-Man (which still holds up as fiction, amazingly enough). Fun, superhero stuff, with good art and a bit of brains. Today's comics are what the movie business would look like if it consisted entirely of formulaic Twilight films on the one hand, and turgid Angst Lee drah-mas on the other. You need a few James Camerons, Peter Jacksons, John Carpenters, Roland Emmerichs... creators who can churn out fast-paced entertainment that hangs together well enough to keep the brain from shutting down entirely.
It can't be just an either-or choice between Sergei Eisenstein or Uwe Boll.
Re: Dandy, Beano, 2000 AD to Mad Magazine
I've long been a huge fan of the 1960s Fleetway pocket-size comics. Brilliant storytelling. Art rather standardized, but often surprisingly good. Writing always strong. The later stuff you mention was great too, of course - but I found even 200AD pretentious compared to those unassuming, uniquely British books, that wanted nothing more than to provide solid entertainment and a bit of moral uplift. I treasure the few issues I still have - I fear that not many now survive.
When comics became 'collectible,' it was the beginning of the end. When some guy reached past me to grab the *entire rack* of the current Spider-Man issue, because it had a hologram on the cover, I knew it was over.
Most of the fans I've known over the past decade or two have been all too happy to grab the latest wad of tripe just because they thought it would increase in value. I tried to explain that garbage never ages well. That the comics of the 1960s acquired huge value because they were a) intrinsically good, and b) in short supply on account of not having been preserved in large numbers. And that neither factor applied to anything they were buying. Nobody listened.
A 'comic book' used to be 10 cents' worth of disposable entertainment. I used to scribble on them, pick up the best panels with Silly Putty, lend them to friends, lose the covers, keep them piled them two feet high, and sit on them in the back of my parents' car. Now I have them sequentially arranged in hermetically-sealed plastic bags... to remind me of how great things used to be.
Re: Totally agree
Ditto. I really miss 'comic books.' Never imagined a future in which they'd cease to exist, replaced by bloated, over-priced, collectable brochures.
By the way, the article neglects to mention the great work of the 1980s-1990s independents: Nexus, Zot!, Dalgoda, Elric, and many others, plus the whole Jim Shooter Valiant universe. Shooter was the last publisher who actually understood that comics were about fast-paced *storytelling*. And that period - the heyday of publishers like First, Eclipse, Kitchen Sink and Pacific - was just about the last hurrah for comics as pure narrative entertainment.
Re: Can't be long now can it?
No technical reason, but lots of legal ones. The TV industry doesn't want consumers to have real control, and it has the legal resources to enforce its will. Manufacturers could go to war, but so far have preferred to offer piecemeal solutions that won't rock the boat too much.
Re: A smart TV
Excellent point, Neil. Smarts belong in an outboard box.
Re: It's almost depressing...
Apple's solution to building a better software ecosystem is a lot like Mussolini's approach to making the trains run on time. Not worth the trade-offs.
You're right that the TV market is ripe for a takeover, comparable to what Apple did with cell phones. But Apple's tightly-closed approach will always prevent it from being a total solution. (As it has with AirPlay, for example.)
Apart from the fact that TV UIs suck, there are way too many of them. What we really need is common UI platform that ALL manufacturers can implement - and add value to, differentiating their products while keeping to a familiar layout. Apple could never provide that; it would insist on being in the driver's seat, and the TV industry has already (understandably) refused to go along with that scenario.
Microsoft could have offered a solution, but it's too busy trying to become Apple. (And its recent approach to UI design sucks almost as badly as what TVs have now.) What we really need is a third party software developer who's competent, willing to be flexible and credible enough to rally support from the entire TV manufacturing community. I had high hopes for Google, but they seem to have blown Google TV so badly that no one will ever want it. If some group like Boxee or XBMC build support for a common spec, that would be ideal.
Re: WDTV live has a nice UI, regular updates
I have a WDTV, but prefer to use my Boxee Box instead. It's got a vastly better UI, plus the option to create named shortcuts to commonly used LAN locations. Which means my wife can actually navigate around my multiple NAS servers.
To be sure, the WDTV can create a media 'library,' but it then absolutely INSISTS on indexing everything. A ludicrous waste of processing power, network bandwidth and wear and tear on my drives. (Same problem with DLNA. What IS this fetish about indexing everything??) The Boxee just uses Samba shares. When I need to see what's on a server, no need to update an index - it just gets a directory listing.
The Boxee is also tops when it comes to ease of access to Internet programming. Not perfect, but better than anything else I've seen. (I'm sure Boxee software running on a PC would be even better, but I like the simplicity of a small, self-contained media box.)
Re: Just like PC's
Whitter said: " It seems to be an industry with no UI skills at all."
That's exactly right. TV manufacturing is an industry historically focused on hardware. Now that TVs include software, the UI is left in charge of the same old team of hardware engineers, who are reluctant to admit they're totally out of their depth. Good UI design is a craft unto itself, and needs a very different mindset to hardware design. You see the same thing in most hardware categories: phones, printers, scanners, AV gear... hardware companies make lousy software.
Apple is one of very few companies that understands software UI design, which is a big reason for its massive dominance these days. Unfortunately, Apple values its control of the user even more highly than the user's control of the device, which explains why its dominance is never complete.
Re: Is he going to take Ribbon with him?
With two women in charge, I'm expecting Windows to have Ribbons, Bows and Unicorns everywhere...
You lost me with the first sentence. Halo? Call of Duty?? These are the two series that more than any others have brought the FPS to an all-time low, and only seem acceptable because of the abysmal standards on consoles. (I played the original Halo all the way through on Windows, and could NOT believe anyone had made a fuss about it. Boring, repetitive, with uninteresting enemies and a dreary choice of weaponry...)
Also, your reservation about not including FPS games with RPG elements should have applied to Bioshock just as much as to Deus Ex. And when it comes to multiplayer, you lump together simple deathmatch games with more complex team-based ones like Battlefield. Tastes may be subjective, but clarity and consistency are not.
Re: Still fingering the tsunami
"...many Japanese have realized that... there is no other option."
Simply not true. For starters, inherently unstable Fusushima-style plants can be phased out in favor of newer and safer types. This is an obvious move that should be supported by everyone, regardless of their feelings about nuclear power in the long term.
"Renewable energy is for countries that don't have heavy industries."
A ridiculously simplistic view. Renewables may not be a total solution at present, but there's simply no reason not to include them in any national energy strategy. They're economically viable now (especially if you discount the massive hidden subsidies for nuclear and fossil fuels), and can only become more attractive as the technologies evolve.
Re: During the meanwhile ...
Again, that same tired old misconception. The real danger in an event like the Fukushima disaster is NOT the direct release of radiation, which is local and brief. It's the spread of long-lived radioactive contaminants, which persist in the soil and poison the biosphere for decades, if not centuries. And which are next to impossible to clean up, one fly-speck at a time.
It's also annoying to see the focus constantly placed on the probable death toll. This number always tends to sound acceptable - as long as you're not one of the people it includes. It's also based on vague probabilities, and hence subject to endless debate. A much better yardstick is economic. The evacuation and possible re-settlement of hundreds of thousands of people around Fukushima carries a massive price tag. Large enough to make even the cheeriest optimist question the economic viability of today's nuclear technology.
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