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* Posts by Dave Bell

1661 posts • joined 14 Sep 2007

Amazon says Hachette should lower ebook prices, pay authors more

Dave Bell
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We pay Hachette for their good judgement

The traditional publisher and the author do a lot of work together that ends up giving us a better book. I am not sure that Amazon deserves a similar share for the work it does to deliver an ebook.

Hachette, and all the other traditional publishers. know they are taking risks, and giving us a better text, filtering the drivel-storm, is something they have to do to limit their risk.

Amazon doesn't do any filtering with the Kindle Direct model, and, believe me, you can see it. All you have to do is buy a few cheap ebooks and you will see it. There is a filter that comes from forcing the author to deal with the US tax system. but that's no effort for them.

It's a waste of my time to try to sell my writing through Amazon. I get better filtering from giving my stories away on fan-fiction sites. The Kindle is a nice enough tool, and Amazon run a decent, wide-ranging, internet retail operation, but no way are they a publishing company.

Dare I post a link, even a weird one? What's the point? The problem is finding stories that you like. I think that Google might matter more to authors than Amazon ever can.

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LOHAN's stirring motto: Ad Astra Tabernamque

Dave Bell
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A Bicycle Built for Brew

Poul Anderson wrote the seminal beer-in-space story, published in 1958.

A Bicycle Built for Brew

It was his collaborator Gordy Dickson who wrote the seminal bear-in-space stories. Don't confuse them.

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Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins

Dave Bell
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A Prediction

You seem to be covering everything.

My prediction: you'll see this math in a proprietary video streaming service using UDP packets.

(I don't think it is tech yet. One of those little boxes plugged into your TV, something new, rather than replacing a huge installed base, that's when it will be tech.)

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Say goodbye to the noughties: Yesterday’s hi-fi biz is BUSTED, bro

Dave Bell
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Re: hi-res audio bullshit

Valve or solid state, the problem when they're in the mass-market is poor design, and some elements of that aren't the same as cheap design. And since the speakers add far more bad things than a good amplifier does, that's the place that rewards careful thought.

Some things, like soundbars, can be an easy upgrade. The speakers built into a TV can, for various reasons, be not very good. There are better answers. Much better.

There's a bit too much fashion in some of the stuff people are swooning over, there always has been.There's a place for a Bluetooth connection, but some things sound more than a little silly. It's fashion.

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Dave Bell
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Re: The benefit of being slightly tone deaf?

I'm inclined to agree, though I put my limits down to age and Massey-Ferguson. But a decent amp and speakers makes a difference I can still hear, and that is what matters. I don't want to throw money at the problems without thinking, but I can hear the difference spending a few quid more on the speakers can make.

Some of the stuff they're selling these days is a rip-off. Like everything, the bottom end of the price range has to be almost zero-cost to cover the sales and distribution cost and leave a profit. I'd like some of my money to be spent on my ears.

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UK's emergency data slurp: IT giants panicked over 'legal uncertainty'

Dave Bell
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Re: Hasty ?? @ Titus Technophobe

The whole thing is looking a bit odd, but I'll concede the need for some legislation. I'm not lawyer enough to be sure whether RIPA provides any real protection for anyone. I don't have much confidence in the current government and their intentions. If there's a way to screw us, they'll use it.

But I do know you're missing one thing. This law will operate until 2016, and then it stops working. That's a good idea for this sort of emergency law. That doesn't mean we have to live with it until then. The next parliament could replace it before then, no legal problem at all. We need to watch they don't amend away the sunset clause, but whoever wins the election could start work on the long-term replacement as soon as they take over. And I hope we elect a government that is willing to listen to us, as well as the Americans.

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Beer in SPAAAACE! London Pride soars to 28,000m

Dave Bell
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Re: Legonaut!?!?

I hope that your trusty Playmonaut is now demanding unionisation?

He'll only fly if he isn't charged.

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TalkTalk talks itself into trouble with budget broadband package fibs

Dave Bell
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I used to be a Talk-Talk customer.

I came to doubt their competence. In the last year or so of my time with them, while there was no throttling, is was clear that their total provision was inadequate. When everybody was home, data-rates delivered were derisory.

I switched to another ISP. The physical line suddenly delivered twice the capacity, and maintains that with real data delivered (There are small variations with time of day, but they are small). With the Rural Broadband rollout looming, I'm now not sure I will need it, but I am much more confident that the speed increase possible, on the local loop, will be matched by the ISP's network.

The Stock Market seems to like Tiscali. They don't seem to care whether an ISP actually delivers. They're just hunting short-term profit, and that has become the business Tiscali is in.

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Doctor Who season eight scripts leak online

Dave Bell
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There's something odd about the whole story. The staffer whose name is on the scripts which leaked night have been dropped in it by the people on the IT side. This might have been a how a script was passed on to a translator, in the past, without any problems. Why was it different this time?

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Dave Bell
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Re: It's for kids

You might be surprised how complicated some of the "for kids" stuff can be. In a culture where anyone under 18 is classed, in significant ways, as still a child, such sneers are misleading. How much drama even tried to deal with the issues of loss and aging which permeate a Doctor Who story such as "The Girl Who Waited"?

Yet you say it is "just for kids".

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Google de-listing of BBC article 'broke UK and Euro public interest laws' - So WHY do it?

Dave Bell
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It does seem odd that Google doesn't tell the BBC the relevant name, but that comes down to the reputation of the site. Some news sites have, for a long time, removed problematic comments, leaving a placeholder marker. And if a news site did that, shouldn't the commenter ask the news site first?

But if you might trust the BBC enough to talk to them first, that isn't a universal. What do you do about 4chan?

I'll venture that, when this settles down, reputable news sites might take down comments. But there will be a lot where your only chance is Google. And rich and poor alike will be prohibited from sleeping under the bridges of Paris.

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Royal Navy parks 470 double-decker buses on Queen Elizabeth

Dave Bell
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Re: I name this ship White Elephant.....

Carries sonar, carries anti-sub helicopters, carries a 4.5-inch gun, and some will carry Harpoon (why not all?), so it's not that useless. It's optimised for air-defence, and could end up with Tomahawk as well, but it does look as though paying for the carriers has compromised the outfitting of the Type 45 ships.

The carriers aren't quite tail wagging the dog, but add the plan for new Trident subs, and you wonder if the Admirals and Politicians are trying to compensate for certain anatomical defects.

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Booze in SPAAAACE! Brit rocket boffin preps bold stratobeer mission

Dave Bell
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It sounds as though Chris has his own copy of "Ignition" by John D. Clark.

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We need to talk about SPEAKERS: Sorry, 'audiophiles', only IT will break the sound barrier

Dave Bell
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Re: Bamboo pickup arm

My reaction to what you say is to suggest that what matters here is the distortion introduced by the loudspeaker. We can throw away frequency information—with my ears you can throw away a lot—but there are other elements in the signal, and the designers don't look at the whole picture. Loudspeakers are the place with the big distortions, and the fixes are the low-hanging fruit of audio technology.

My late father, who had terrible hearing, did get something from digital surround sound. It helped him distinguish the background sound from the speech. And sometimes the sound of footsteps had a direction which mattered, and which he could hear.

That just needed an amplifier and a bunch of ordinary speakers. but it was timing information that plain old stereo systems lose.

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NSA man says agency can track you through POWER LINES

Dave Bell
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It's possible that a battery-power device could pick up radiated mains hum from the surroundings, but blocking such interference is part of designing professional recording equipment, things like using a balanced line microphone lead.

But what will your digital recording module do to these very low strength signals that do get through the screening?

It may be that the Police still record on cassette tapes because they know it doesn't lose that background signal. And so they can give a court an assurance. Their recorded evidence can be tested with tests that are known to the court system. But how much does the digital recording technology already used by the news media fit in with those tests?

If I were a future Edward Snowden, I'd be worried more about whether the compressor program had been hacked. Can you trust the companies which make the hardware? Have we already forgotten the Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal?

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Microsoft's anti-malware crusade knackers '4 MILLION' No-IP users

Dave Bell
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There are things we don't know, like just what Microsoft was saying and doing before they went to court, and why US law-enforcement doesn't seem to be involved.

Also, proving something technical to the satisfaction of the judge could be a safeguard, but what does the judge know about computers in general?

We have a rather one-sided story here. I suspect from the article, though I am not sure, that I used to use this service. The example domain names are suggestive, but the operation I used cut off a whole bunch of cheap services. and since I didn't need that sort of service I didn't switch.

There's too many unknowns here.

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New research: Flash is DEAD. Yet resistance isn't futile - it's key

Dave Bell
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There have been similar Great White Hopes in the past. Not all have worked out.

I shall believe this when I see it in Lidl.

Well, maybe that is an exaggeration.

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BBC offers briefest of teasers for the next Doctor Who

Dave Bell
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That's more of August pinned down: World Science Fiction Convention, sleep, and wake in time for Doctor Who ( nearly a dead cert for a Hugo Award this year)

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We got behind the wheel of a Tesla S electric car. We didn't hate it

Dave Bell
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Re: Google maps? Really?

I've come across stories of real-time data effectively warning of such things as Police speed traps because of their effects on traffic flow.

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Dave Bell
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Re: A quick couple of points ...

There are two rival measures. It's either fuel/distance or distance/fuel, and we're used to miles per gallon.

Using the inverse, and plotting against vehicle weight, gives a straight-line graph. Getting that straight line needs a bit of clever math to get the best fit. but it's a simple end result. You can't get that simple result from miles per gallon.

I think the alternative used in Europe is liters per hundred kilometers. We buy our petrol in liters now, and if I wanted to figure out how much petrol I needed, calling 100km 60 miles would be near enough, with a margin. Since we don't buy petrol in gallons any more, and we don't measure distances in km, either way it's more complicated than it needs to be.

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Dave Bell
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All the practical reviews of electric, even the sometimes risible Top Gear report of a couple of years ago, seem to agree that recharging is the big problem. They made a joke out of Clarkson and Co. hanging around in Lincoln while the battery recharged, but it's a real problem.

Around 15 years ago there was some of the same problem with LPG, a cleaner alternative to petrol and diesel. It had already been around as an alternative for a long time, but getting filled up needed a bit of planning ahead.

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BBC: Bumpkins, hobbits need fairer coverage

Dave Bell
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Most people living in the countryside work in towns.

If I have a job in the countryside I might be working with a machine that is worth more than the house I live in, and spends most of the year in a shed.

I do get usable broadband, but the mobile coverage around here is getting patchy. I suspect the phone companies don't know that trees grow, and they are bigger than they were when the coverage was calculated.

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BOFH: You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR MACROS

Dave Bell
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I would venture that the bean-counter knows about as much about computer programming as the BOFH and PFY know about bookkeeping.

A spreadsheet is pretty close to a physical accounts book in appearance, It's not a dreadful general-purpose tool. But it's limited in scale. I wouldn't use Excel, but a spreadsheet for storing data such as the details of a video collection should work.

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27 Data-Slurping Facts BuzzFeed Doesn't Want You To Know!

Dave Bell
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Re: What's the problem?

I am inclining to the view that Amazon are a little crazy. After all, they're trying not to sell me books.

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EU copyright chief: We could SMASH these infinite copyright contracts... just wait

Dave Bell
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Re: How about some background?

That sort of distinction certainly used to exist in the UK. If you were a photographer was held by who owned the film. Not a perfect rule, but a simple enough distinction between a newspaper employee and a member of the public. In the age of digital cameras, the difference is less clear.

What matters most of the time is the licensing of the copyright. Why should a social media site need to own the copyright? All they need is a license to use the material?

Some of the stuff, on both sides of the arguments, seems to come from lawyers who know very little of what the technology does.

And at least some of these claims struggle to be consistent with statute law.

The details vary, but the same things keep on happening about different material. The US requirement to register copyright to get any protection ended in the 1970, but you still see cases of companies claiming your work isn't protected, (US registration adds to the protection: for one thing, it proves a date for the work)

And the "(c)" doesn't work. Use "©".

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Who needs a ride-on mower when a ROBOT will cut your grass

Dave Bell
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A scythe is cheaper, but people expect you to grin a lot and speak in small caps.

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It's a Doddle: Amazon inks train station parcel deal with Network Rail

Dave Bell
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Maybe good for commuters, not so good for the rest of us. Locally, the Amazon Locker sustem seems optimised for motorists, but it is not compulsory.

Mind you, I'm not sure I trust Amazon, not when they're using their search, sales, and stock system as a weapon in a dispute with a publisher. Amazon not wanting to sell books? What is the world coming to?

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DON’T add me to your social network, I have NO IDEA who you are

Dave Bell
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Re: Billy 'No Mates' here

Be like Dad, keep Mum.

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9 Dark Social Truths That Will Totally Blow Your Bowels!

Dave Bell
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You forgot the cluster of strange links at the end of the page, with those tempting but misleading headlines.

5 Ways to watch Eastenders on your mobile phone.

The Politician who thinks his family is an "Embellishment".

England Football team wins a matchstick game!

8 Surprising Ways to Delete Your Data!

The big solution to all your Windows problems, from Finland!

Amazon stops selling books!

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KA-BOOOM! Boffins blow up mountain to make way for telescope

Dave Bell
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Remember the wow-factor in even the first, flawed, Hubble images. I'm not sure that the "16-times-sharper" is the only important factor, but wow!

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PoW! Academics KO Bitcoin mining mammoths

Dave Bell
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Think about it

So it's not the Bitcoin technology that is the problem, it's the people using it?

Does this new trick really change anything?

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How practical is an electric car in London?

Dave Bell
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Re: @Rupert Fiennes

There's an argument that solar-electric is close to competing with coal. Whether you get the power when you want it is the big issue, and it hinges on some assumptions about future costs of fossil fuel. But all those cars recharging while parked up for the day would certainly ease some of the wrong-time problem, and the pollution benefit can be pretty big.

(OK, it's the Chinese. They've built something about four times as long as HS2 in under three years. They seem rather better at these big projects than we are, though I am not sure I would want to be getting in their way.)

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Tom Hanks NICKED my COPYRIGHTED PIC, claims Brit photog

Dave Bell
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The term "public domain" has several different meanings. And there is a distinct meaning in US copyright law which seems to confuse a lot of people elsewhere. In the UK, "in the public domain" means (mostly) that the work is widely known. It's nothing to do with copyright. It's about privacy and such.

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Women are too expensive to draw and code – Ubisoft

Dave Bell
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Re: A dev's p.o.v

Thanks for this summary.

I can go for bad planning being a part of this.

I write stuff. It's interesting to look at a character and wonder why I've inserted yet another default man, and often not too hard to change. But you've explained why that change is a huge amount of work in a computer game.

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Dave Bell
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Re: Understandable I guess

That particular game got ported over and released through some download channels, early this year. I don't recall seeing any mention of it until this row exploded into the open. Assassin's Creed: Liberation HD is the title.

I'm surprised it took this long. There's nothing in the genetic memory thing to justify it, and a heck of a lot of women want to play computer games.

Maybe they should check the office fridge?

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Dave Bell
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Re: "Add an extra mesh option with the same animation rigs, and job done"

There's plenty of modeling, for both games and comics, which leaves me with a feeling that people do their research from porn videos.

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Dave Bell
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Re: non story

Oh, it can all be made quite reasonable.

The trouble is that, especially when social media get involved, a great many people start putting out sexist insults. Ask why Ubisoft have done this, and you will be insulted, but only if you're using an apparently female identity.

There is an Assassin's Creed game which has a woman as protagonist. There have been women as recurring characters. So the argument isn't about doing something new. There's a suspicion that the people who made the decisions have a bias. And there is a lot of growing resentment, on both sides. There are people expressing opinions, and there are teenagers.

Some people have been getting verbose about Tomb Raider, and I think a part of the whole issue is that the technology is good enough for the game protagonists to pass as people. Recent instances of these long-running series are becoming quite movie-like, and we want something more than a string of action scenes. Stories matter.

In some of this I am reminded of such things as the Wing Commander series.

But go look at what's on TV. In many ways, something like GTA5, while it makes the criminals the protagonists, is a long way behind TV Drama. How long before we get something that does for games what Lynda La Plante did for TV crime drama?

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IPv4 addresses now EXHAUSTED in Latin America and the Caribbean

Dave Bell
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Re: IPv6 in LACNIC

The only way I can explain the no-apparent-plan attitude from ISPs over IPv6 is basic incompetence.

They should be supplying customers with compatible hardware. They should be installing compatible hardware. When I was still running Win XP, that had IPv6 as an option, which is the epitome of something not being new.

I used to use an ISP who didn't admit to knowing what IPv6 was

My current ISP supplied me with a router which I use. They do have a plan, but they don't need to implement it yet. They have done trials and give instructions for setting up the router. It still looks a bit hairy as an exercise, but it's one of the reasons I picked them.

Even without using IPv6, switching ISPs gave me vastly improved performance. IPv6 looks like a useful indicator for ISP competence.

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The Strippers, Unicorn Computers and Martian Watches of Computex

Dave Bell
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The whole sex-in-advertising thing is provoking commentary, and those pretty girls are part of it. Do we remember the girl or the product?

And why do people think we guys are going to fall for that trick again?

I can think of worse things, but it's a combination of visual noise and signals of a rather unpleasant attitude lurking within society.

What would Sheldon say?

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Boffin fights fire with EXPLOSIVES instead of water

Dave Bell
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Re: Hang on...

Red Adair certainly seemed to have ingenious uses for explosives, even figured out how to use them as a spanner. And the movie The Wages of Fear has explosives being delivered to the burning oil well.

This looks a little more like a WW2 German antiaircraft weapon intended to wreck a plane with the air-blast generated by a fuel-air explosion. They ended up with this sort of effect, but planes were not a good target.

I reckon that a bush fire is just too big.

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Titsup Russian rocket EXPLODES, destroys $275m telly satellite

Dave Bell
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Some satellites, booked for Proton launch, are going to be delayed.

It's not so easy to put a satellite on a different launcher, because of the physical structure that supports the satellite, and the control systems.

And who has launchers spare?

If somebody wants an extra Falcon launch after this, it will take time to build everything, and there is the problem of time on the pad.

There isn't going to be a sudden change.

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Google Maps adds all UK public transport timetables

Dave Bell
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Early days.

Google Maps updated. Check.

It isn't quite working here yet, and I have just used the bus service it doesn't know about. I can see the bus stop sign through the window.

Google Earth on my PC does show all the bus stops.

And, serious caution, there are timetable changes coming into effect this weekend.

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Scots team builds SONIC SCREWDRIVER to repair damaged nerves

Dave Bell
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This is no surprise

Is it even possible in Britain that a piece of boffinry like this would not be called a sonic screwdriver?

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Google ECJ case: No commish, it means we don't need right-to-be-forgotten rewrite

Dave Bell
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Re: Yes but

In English Law (I don't know about Scotland) there is the concept of the "spent conviction". After sufficient time a conviction ceases to be on public record.

It might still have been in a newspaper report. lost in microfilm records in a local archive or the newspaper office, but getting from you to the record is hard.

Now newspapers are being digitised, and you can read a newspaper in Australia over the internet. And then you find a story of the vicar in the village where your father grew up.

Maybe some Australian is reading about my father's one conviction, some fifty years ago. He'll find mention of a right troublesome family, who had a Council House within fifty yards of the local Police Constable.

It doesn't matter to me. It might matter to one of the other people mention by name in a newspaper report. But how can there be any controls if they do not apply to Google and their like?

Or should I have left the text, garbled by OCR of old newsprint. I and my father knew and remembered enough to clean it up. My father is dead now. but should I have let his stories die with him?

But what do I want to see published about me? And if Google can spew my life over the world, lets see all the tales of what those Bullindon laddies were doing.

I visited Oxford occasionally in those days. And friends said I was good at looming.

I think I might have done more than loom if I had run into that mob.

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NHS patient data storm: Govt lords SLAP DOWN privacy protections

Dave Bell
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Re: Talking to Patients

There's a tricky balance here. I've had letters come out of the blue asking for a blanket permission to share personal data with anyone.

It was the local council, not the NHS; they didn't even say it was the Social Services department wanting permission to pass on some info to an NHS clinic to support making an appointment.

And, while I know there can be administrative rules set which add restrictions, the law would allow a GP practice to register under the Data Protection Acts a blanket permission to pass on data for the purpose of providing medical care. It would need to be carefully worded but the Data Protection Acts are not rocket science: is it so hard for a manager to read them and be able to ask a lawyer a sensible question?

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Dave Bell
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Re: These peer fellows...

I was once in a queue with one of the local Hereditaries: we were both collecting parts for combine harvesters. We were both driving rather scruffy Land Rovers.

I can't imagine that ever happening with an elected MP. He has far more wealth than I do, but our worlds overlapped.

(Another near-neighbour once shot a Government Minister, but only by accident.)

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Copyright minister: Those missing TWO copyright exceptions? We're still on track

Dave Bell
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So who gets the money?

As an occasional producer of content; songs, images, and written works; I wonder a little how the income from a levy might be distributed. I am, I suppose, in the same long tail as almost everyone who self-publishes through Kindle. It wouldn't astonish me if a levy system never paid anyone but a few well-known names. Amazon publishes the mean income from ebook self publishing, which is arithmetically valid and statistically worthless as a measure.

We already have this problem with the fees charged for the "performing right", covering the radio or TV playing in an office, waiting room, or workshop. Were I to perform one of my own songs, the fee would become due, and I would not see a penny of it.

Woody Guthrie rightly sang that, "Some will rob you with a six-gun, and some with a fountain pen."

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ARM exec: Forget eight-core smartphone chips, just enjoy a SIX-PACK

Dave Bell
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I wonder when the 8-core Raspberry Pi becomes the standard.

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Norwegians trial Oculus Rift in tanks: The ultimate battlefield simulator

Dave Bell
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This is just a test

Consumer products are made down to a price, and the tech being used here is likely not tough enough to rely on in a battle. But showing what it can do is a good way to justify the development of the mil-spec hardware. I don't know how the Norwegians get on with cost control, things sometimes seem insane in British and American equipment procurement, but they might have made a good start.

The article mentions a standard PC. It's worth thinking about the cost difference between the machine on your office desk and a similar-performance Panasonic Toughbook (You can Google for that, it's not secret). You think an iPad is expensive? $2800 for a tablet computer?

But this shows you don't have to spend silly money to test the idea and see how much better visibility can be. What can Google Glass be used for? I've seen some very expensive trials for the future infantryman, and suddenly most of the tech to try things out is off the shelf. (or will be, next year)

Remember the parachute jump? Google Glass and GPS and you don't need to mark the drop zone. And you could test it pretty easily.

The big bucks are in the integrated systems, but this sort of work can tell you what the bad ideas are.

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EU: Let's cost financial traders $400m a day, because EVIL BANKERS. Right?

Dave Bell
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Re: It's not about the HFT - it's about tax revenues

That's an interesting way of thinking about such things. I know I have sometimes seen something as an essentially noisy signal, and have wondered if the HFT trading is down amongst the noise, profiting from a spread which is less than the noise, and from reversions to the short-term mean.

Remember, it is hard for any trader to beat random choice or (not quite the same thing) the indexes.

And if it is depending on the noise signal, how is anyone actually making money? It must be the spread, but where is the money coming from that they end up paying their bills with?

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