385 posts • joined 26 Jun 2007
Re: Weird dates?
Yes, it's currently Heisei 26.
Re: That's one ugly sculpture!!
Exactly what I was thinking: it's what Bill Gates has always wanted!
Re: Laser beams
Or alien death ray strike, if I remember _The Lathe of Heaven_ correctly...
Re: LOHAN Airfix kit...
That panic button sounds like a useful gadget. May have to get myself one of those.
I'd expect an El-Reg-branded one to take me to the BOFH archive, of course.
T-shirt I'd like
I'd love to have a T-shirt featuring this "geek" comment icon, with size and placement similar to the large logo in the survey. Because people around me could use the warning...
Naming patent trolls
Great article, but I have a nit to pick with: "When I was first involved in this sort of thing, it didn’t have a name."
I recently read a book from 1934* which makes reference to "the special vehicle for exploiting patent monopolies", which seems to be about the same thing as a patent troll. Only briefly, though, apparently expecting the contemporary reader to be fully aware of the issues involved.
The same book also bewails what's now called a patent thicket (they don't seem to have had a specific term for it at the time), mentioning for instance a mechanical loom which had to license 80 different patents.
*Technics and Civilization, by Lewis Mumford
...here's a report that HMRC is blocked:
I'd've thought he'd fit right in in Toronto.
Re: The Goons, really?
Wow. Thanks for the link.
The only way this could have been even cooler is if the TV adaptation of "The Canal" had had the same cast as the radio episode it was based on-- which included guest star Valentine Dyall, the future Black Guardian!
The Goons, really?
Is the massed mainstream media all incorrect in reporting that the program bracketing Who's initial slot along with Grandstand was something called Juke Box Jury?
The idea of Doctor Who scheduled right next to Telegoons is too wonderful for my mind to comprehend.
Re: Why is this a surprise?
"Genes don't record who raped who."
...unless they're in mitochondria or Y chromosomes.
Re: Modern Europeans weren't...
Argh, I mean "...headed EAST for new lands across Beringia...". Muphry's Law [sic] strikes again.
Modern Europeans weren't...
...at the time. Keep in mind that the ancestors of most of today's Indo-European-speaking European inhabitants didn't actually arrive in Europe until at most 3-4000 years ago. What we're talking about here is a population where one part headed west for new lands across Beringia, and another part just kept bouncing around inner Asia for the next several thousand years.
Robots of renown
"No robot in TV history has enjoyed such renown as K-9"
I dunno, if you can remember K-9's heyday then you can also remember KITT, and there were way more people watching Knight Rider back in the day.
K-9 is probably more recognizable to today's young 'uns, though...
Re: Lack of ambition
The episode count was typically 4 episodes in the Tom Baker and later eras, but typically 6 before that.
I do remember watching movie-style edits of some Baker stories, with opening credits only at the beginning, and closing credits only at the end, on my local PBS station-- they'd run individual episodes on weekdays and then the movie versions Friday or Saturday nights. IIRC, when BBC America first came into being, part of their programming was a seemingly random rotation of the movie edits.
The Claws of Axos
Simply because it contains my favorite Delgado bit ever: Having finally schemed his way into capturing the Doctor's TARDIS for his own use, the Master looks over the decrepit equipment and the state of the Doctor's haphazard attempts to get it working again, and finally mutters, "Might as well try flying a secondhand gas stove!"
Indeed, there's no way to reconcile those movies with the series...
OTOH, when I say I like "all the classic Doctors", I do include Richard Hurndall and Michael Jayston.
Re: Your first doctor is YOUR doctor
Yeah, you're always going to have a special place in your heart for whichever Doctor got you to keep watching.
I was 5 when the local PBS station started airing it, and the very first episode I saw was the start of "Robot". I didn't fully understand what was going on, but it looked like fun...
Least favorite classic doctor: I don't like the McCoy era as much as the rest, but I don't have any problems with McCoy's portrayal, more with the writing during that time.
Fandom was not so nascent
I can't tell if the "nascent" fandom is supposed to mean DW fandom specifically or Australian science fiction fandom in general. If the latter, Australia had hosted its first World Science Fiction Convention, which requires a well-established and organized local fan community, in 1975.
It hadn't occurred to me that Tegan would be one of the top scorers, especially, in comparison to the much less stressful lives of her contemporaries! No wonder she eventually ran off saying "I've had enough!"
Not the way you were expecting
"Technology is supposed to be destroying the traditional media, but tech gurus can't seem to keep their mitts off the sector."
I for one am willing to believe that this is much more likely to be the death of traditional media than any other mechanism yet proposed.
Re: Time Lords as foes?
"[T]he other time lords aren't enemies except that the Doctor stole the Tardis"
...well, other than the Rani... and the War Chief... and Omega... and Borusa that one time...
(Unless this all got retconned in the new series, which i've never watched.)
Re: No programming required
Isn't it the approach in most college subjects to start from the beginning, as though the kids have learned nothing in their previous decade-plus of schooling? (Bitter comment about the quality of schooling in your home country left as an exercise for the reader.)
Anyway, assuming that no programming had been learned beforehand was certainly reasonable with most of my college classmates (US, late '90s).
Closing scene of "The Hand of Fear"
IIRC, Sarah Jane's remarks in that scene made it pretty clear at the time that it wasn't Croydon. (Though the information about exactly where it was did come much later.)
Don't forget the book
The reporter on the scene later wrote his autobiography and gave the whale top billing:
And if you think the state of Oregon learned its lesson about trying to get rid of large beach debris by blowing it up, look up the tale of the New Carissa.
But what about...
Totally with you on "Inferno"; that's the first thing I thought of when reading the introduction. It's also got one of the best commentaries of any of the classic Who DVD releases.
But some days I'd say "Warriors' Gate" is the best Doctor Who story ever. (Other days, I think it isn't possible to pick one.) The depiction of the slavers, some of whom might even be decent guys in other contexts but who have completely lost all sight of the fact that their cargo consists of sentient beings... the chief villain done in entirely by his own actions... the glimpse of the Tharil empire and the turnabout it's suffered. And sure, you can tell the effects were done on a '70s TV budget but IMHO they still hold up surprisingly well.
I think I'd put that in place of "The Pyramids of Mars" or "Robots of Death" and replace the other with "Mawdryn Undead". Partly that's because I'm a sucker for any story where they bring back an old favorite like the Brigadier, but partly also the sleight-of-hand involved in setting up the mystery of how two groups of people can be in the same place but can't find each other.
Biting the hand that feeds IT
Indeed! The strongest of all human emotions is the urge to *not make a fuss*. It's a useful one-- human civilization couldn't exist without it-- but it can be used against you. One of the basics of resisting any form of social control is being able to be the jerk sometimes.
What about the TARDIS itself?
I mean, in "The Edge of Destruction", a stuck switch has it hurtling back to the Big Bang to be obliterated, and the only way it's able to communicate this error condition is to show cryptic images on the video screen and induce psychosis in the passengers. What Gallifreyan BOFH came up with that interface??
From great pain comes great art
Without the Morris Worm, we'd never have had _A Fire Upon the Deep_, easily one of the best books ever to win the Hugo Award.
Four floors full of drunk people, surrounded in all directions by water... gosh, I can't think of any liability concerns there, especially at US levels of litigiousness.
Re: Only 11 actors?
Not to mention... John Hurt? I don't even watch the new series and I know about him.
Re: "So what do you suggest, Mr Clever Clogs?"
"I'm concious that I was once a young boy, and that these points would benefit from someone who was once a young girl:"
All right then, here I am! Actually, I don't think there are many differences in how to get young boys and young girls interested in programming. The big one is that with young girls you have to work against enormous cultural pressure steering them away from geekdom. I count myself very lucky that I first encountered home computers in a time before media depictions of programmers were common.
I was told repeatedly in primary school that girls weren't supposed to be good at math, but luckily I hated that school and everyone associated with it, so I didn't listen.
Being able to see how stuff is put together and works certainly helps stimulate interest. For me it was Zoids and Capsela and occasionally Heathkit.
I think there's something to be learned from the popularity of the steampunk movement. I've long thought that it's partly from a reaction to all our gadgets evolving into shiny slabs with no moving parts. If you could get at what still fascinates people about gears and steam and bring it into the classroom somehow...
"Pretty much one in one, we'd say, given a police force using simple four-figure numbers and with 1337 or more constables in it."
Given that it's a common practice to skip everything with leading 0s, I'd think the minimum force size in many cases is 338.
For a few years after playing it, I would insult it by saying it played like someone threw it together in Hypercard.
It took those few years for me to find out how it had actually been developed...
"Still, many gamers found Myst's approach too slow, and its puzzles too opaque."
"Straightforward, yes? Well no, because achieving both requires a high degree of lateral thinking or, to be honest, plenty of inspiration. Clues are opaque. A couple of times, I found myself resorting to the internet and, when learning the answer, accepting there was no way I would have thought of the solution."
Did we play the same game? I remember something so pathetically simple and with so little interactivity that I finished it in two sittings.
I loved the adventure-game genre for as long as Infocom kept churning out devilishly complicated stories that could keep me engrossed for session after session on a timespan of weeks and weeks. Myst and the stampede of imitations it inspired are what killed the genre for me.
Never trust a single-subject study...
...especially with fMRI. Sadly, the brilliant Science News article on fMRI a few years ago has vanished behind a paywall.
The next step...
"That power can, according to the Google Blog, answer questions such as ... 'what are my plans for tomorrow?'"
The next step, I presume, is a function that decides for you what your plans for tomorrow should be.
Not even all this part of the world
I was raised on Strunk & White, myself.
But what were their chocolate habits before winning? Did they eat more than was typical for their cohort then? Or is chocoholism a side effect of winning a major scientific prize?
Re: Recently watched Quatermass II on DVD
There's some excellent science fiction* being produced in anime, an increasing amount of which is available to the UK (Free! Legally!) via Crunchyroll. My current top recommendation is Space Brothers, which is practically the definition of a show that Hollywood and the BBC could never make. If that's too low-key for you, try From the New World or Steins Gate.
North American readers should also go over to Hulu and check out Tiger & Bunny, which despite the title is a Watchmen for our day and age.
* And plenty of crap, per Sturgeon's Law. But seriously, there is some really, really good stuff out there.
Smalltalk: We've heard of it
I graduated in 2000, and I heard about Smalltalk and its use in the banking industry at school. In fact, I took a class in it! So some of us younger 'uns do know what it is.
(Note that I do not claim I *know* Smalltalk: the guy teaching the class was clearly enthusiastic about the language and made most of his living doing contract work in it, but he was hopeless at actually communicating any of his knowledge or making the language look in any way useful. For instance, he would demonstrate examples by hopping around between a dozen scratchpad windows, highlighting random sections of code and "inspecting" (running) them to make something happen. One day a classmate tried to ask him how to make a standalone program, and after several iterations it became clear that he just could not conceive of doing such a thing.)
Re: Worth reading...
Very interesting! Still, even if it might be on the wane already, I'm really curious about how badly it's been distorting economic modelling over the past several years.
Market signals: Do they really exist anymore?
Here's what I've been wondering ever since learning about how common HFT has become: Company stock prices, individually and in aggregate, are seen as a very important piece of economic information that carries a signal about how well a company or an economy is doing. Given how much market activity these days consists of algorithms chasing each other around, is there any point in still seeing stock prices as an indicator of anything regarding the economy outside the stock exchange? If not, what indicator(s) do we replace them with?
I'll see that and raise you an entire year's worth of requirements in Prolog.
OTOH, this same degree required a course in statistical analysis, because it was being offered by an engineering department and statistics was a blanket requirement. It's been way more useful to me than the year of calculus everyone makes you take.
Re: Magna Carta
"The US constitution was the first such document upon which a brand new nation was formed."
The US was formed with the Articles of Confederation. The Constitution as we know and love it today came along later, after everyone agreed that maybe giving the federal government *some* power might be a good idea after all.
It's worse than that
Well said, but I wish to argue with the assertion that this sort of thing has only been going on for 30 years. See the Church Committee report: http://aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports.htm
Indeed, I'm sad to see this has been missed by every major obituarist. D&D drew far more from Vance than it ever did from Tolkien.
And for you Zork fans, The Dying Earth also appears to be the source of the grue.
Re: Cook says:-
"He's also never heard of sunglasses..."
Or, for that matter, Harry Potter fandom!
Any publicity is good publicity?
One thing that's not clear from any of the linked stories is whether those are total mentions or if there's some attempt to distinguish positive and negative ones. I mean, Doraemon would probably look pretty popular even if you just counted comments saying "OMG why is a fossil like Doraemon still taking up airtime when it could be given to my favorite interesting new show that just got cancelled".
If you want to be strictly accurate...
...it's Anak Krakatau now.
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