"exists merely to be nasty."
Poor Mr. Frie.
Did you know Stephen Fry has just founded a tech startup called Pindex? It’s a “Pinterest for Learning” that he wants teachers to use. That’s a fact. Did you know Stephen Fry wants to restore our faith in “an online world that seems to centre around trolling, bullying, hating, trivialising and belittling”? He does. It says so …
'Playback Rewards intercepted TV broadcasts, time-shifted them, and then injected Playback’s advertisements into them? It’s hard to believe! But yes, it did.'
Playback Rewards? Sure you don't mean 'Dave'? There's probably an episode of QI on in a minute (just after Top Gear).
As a Yank didn't even know who Mr. Fry was until El Reg readers tore into his pseudo science explanations of everyday tech that were so funny I still follow discussions about him though I still have never seen him. Seems he is as big an Apple fluffer as Mossberg here in the states though from what I gather.
FWIW asdf, it could be worth your time to check out some of the productions featuring Mr Fry. His characters in Black Adder always bring a smile to my face and his antics together with Hugh Laurie in various shows can also be quite amusing at times. My wife hates sketch shows, but was quite fond of Laurie and Fry's stuff.
I still don't have a clue beyond I've seen that face somewhere. Popular culture is mostly a miss here. But reading that he was in Blackadder is far more helpful. I've only seen bits of that but I do have the complete collection around here somewhere. [Before you ask, giving me video of any sort is pretty much a waste of time. I prefer the written word.]
>[Before you ask, giving me video of any sort is pretty much a waste of time. I prefer the written word.]
Stephen Fry was a columnist, novelist and screenwriter. His acting and television presenting followed from that.
Paperweight', a collection of his columns, makes a good book to dip into whilst on the porcelain throne. 'Making History' is an alternative history jaunt, playing on the old 'kill Hitler with time machine' trope, but with its own message. Worth a read, certainly more fun than a Philip Roth alternate history novel!
"Stephen Fry was a columnist, novelist and screenwriter. His acting and television presenting followed from that."
Not sure how you got that impression, he started comedy acting at university and got into TV almost immediately after graduating. The columns, novels and screenplays followed from that.
To me it looks to be another ghastly collection of "interesting facts", which for those who can remember them will become a simulacrum of knowledge.
As Mr Fry so ably demonstrates from time to time, scientific understanding is considerably deeper than the ability to recite a collection of factual details.
>To me it looks to be another ghastly collection of "interesting facts"
Would you care to suggest alternate sites, so that we may compare and contrast?
I scrolled through quickly, but the format of tests interspersing the videos is in keeping with retaining information. The diagrams about latent heat (just the section I clicked on) would impart knowledge and understanding, not 'facts'.
Maybe you have a different learning style?
Perhaps I can go some way towards explaining my objections by suggesting that the equivalent to Pindex in literature would be similar to an expectation that a series of precocious spelling bee competitions will imbue an appreciation of Shakespeare, Auden and Tennyson in the participants.
Although he comes from an earlier era, there are numerous videos of Richard Feynman on YouTube which convey an impression of what real scientific understanding is about.
Here, for example, is Feynman giving us a few clues about science, similar clips being easy to find:
And here are the Spooky Men's Chorale giving their insights into one of Tennyson's works:
>an expectation that a series of precocious spelling bee competitions will imbue an appreciation of Shakespeare, Auden and Tennyson in the participants.
I used to read Spot the Dog, and take spelling tests... doing so has not dented my later appreciation of literate. In fact, learning to read was a positive aid to my enjoyment of books. Did your analogy come across as you intended?
[Strange choice of examples from Mr Pollard: they are all playwrights and poets, whose works can be performed aloud and so be appreciated even by people who can't read. ]
Sure he's interested in tech, and he always seems to be so enthusiastic and optimistic, but like many commentors, always posts before checking his facts.
I'd expect better from someone who has actually had books printed, I can only assume he was not paying attention during the proofreading and editing stages...
As to the startup investments, plenty of people have had 'lightbulb' moments while listening to Wagner, a lot of them seemed like good ideas at the time...
You might not want to be accidentally quoting Julie Birchill, she's only a couple of steps down from Katie Hopkins. Fry (I've met him) is a nice bloke. He doesn't consider himself a genius, or even particularly clever, but he does find all kinds of stuff fascinating. He finds it rather amusing that, as the presenter of a programme about Quite Interesting stuff, people think he must know it all or think he does. He loves shiny Apple stuff that's true, but then a lot of people do. And he's (brutally) honest about his own demons, and really quite a compassionate chap. I think he took the Reg stuff a bit too much to heart but, he doesn't cope well with personal criticism due to struggling with depression and feelings of worthlessness. I'm just sorry he didn't manage to make it to the comments where many of us were supporting him.
So what if he gets stuff wrong sometimes? I'm sure he's not the only one - I've come out with some right old cobblers on occaisions!
All that AC said.
His books are good, too. And fascinating to read in the context of his own story of self acceptance.
> He loves shiny Apple stuff that's true, but then a lot of people do.
As did his late friend, Douglas Noel Adams (of Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy fame). Between them, the pair bought the first two Apple Macs in Europe in 1984. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Adams#Technology_and_innovation
It is also fascinating to read Simon Gray's book, Fat Chance: 'Stephen Fry Quits' Drama. which is about the time Fry walked out on the cast of the play "Cell Mates".
A reviewer on Amazon rightly commends Gray's "perspicacity and humour, even if the latter was sometimes of the dark, almost gallows type."
In this book Gray explains "[t]he devastating effects on all the rest of the cast, including all those who are employed both front of house and in the production, that one actor can have due to his actions... It is a fascinating inside look at what happens within a play and its performances when one actor reneges on a commitment not just to a contract, but also to the other people in the play."
I got quite annoyed by the article to be honest. You need to let it go Orlo - last time was mildly amusing, and Fry's reply (while fairly accurate) basically misunderstood the tone of el reg. It's sarcastic, witty, occasionally bitter commentary on our industry, with the odd non-IT bootnote thrown in.
Having seen this maybe he was right about the tone though - this article basically amounts to bullying, and isn't even that funny. It's very low hanging fruit too - I've no personal opinion on Fry other than I liked some of his characters in 80s / 90s, and I hate the class he stands for. But he is an actor / narrator / writer - he's not a techy. Liking tech and knowing about tech are two different things, and considering his area of expertise and his age I'd say he's doing alright for himself. He's backing projects he likes the sound of - if that decision isn't the best then fine, it's not the first time and it won't be the last. In this case it's education related too, which I thought would have been a positive thing - even if it isn't going to take off.
I've seen actual tech-literate "pioneers" back massive flops and projects of dubious morality - barely a mention on el reg. But Fry took offence to some directed mocking on el reg once, even daring to mention the author, he's now having everything he does mocked - as a headline article no less. It's the largest headline on this mornings banner - we've got so much other stuff going on in our industry and this is headline news. Are we the Sun / Mirror / Daily Mail of the tech world now?!
He suffers from depression too - but hey, he didn't quite grasp the details on how GPS works, so lets burn him some more.
One could argue that those who place themselves in the public eye are asking to be trolled and bullied.
One could argue it's OK to ridicule generally successful people when they fail as they deserve it.
One could even argue that pointing out facts is never trolling or bullying because, well, it's just facts.
One could also argue Andrew Orlowski is a bully and a troll (fact, see points one, two and three) but I'd never do that.
Andrew, you invited comments in the body of the article, at least have the decency to publish them all. Censorship puts you on a par with Donald Trump, and rejecting comments you disagree with just reinforces the portrayal of El Reg as "evil" and "nasty".
As for Mr Fry, no, I doubt he's done the due diligence. But publicity is publicity dahlings!
Mr Fry, although deserving of respect just for showing that being a geek doesn't mean you can't be witty, popular and famous, is often wrong when it comes to anything IT.
It's sad, but true. He's the equivalent of "my son that does a bit of computers". Useful to most people, for silly things. But sadly lacking if you stuck him in a datacenter and expected him to get stuff to work.
Though he has more of a handle of IT that most people, he also has more of a handle of science than most people, and still occasionally adlibs unscripted and absolute nonsense even on shows that undergo editing like QI. Just watch the episode where he tries to talk to Brian Cox. He has only a bare psuedo-grasp of what he's trying to say, and fills in with buzzwords in the area and nonsense.
Same for IT. I wouldn't invest in anything on Fry's say-so, even though I love the guy.
Mr Fry, a... is often wrong when it comes to anything IT.
Actually he is a living embodiment of the statement, suitably modified, that you can trust everything you read in the papers except the thing you actually know something about.
He's not that knowledgeable about anything, but has this insane desire to be seen to be, which is probably the root of his much published problems with depression.
I expect loads of downvotes, but I'm waiting for Sandi Toksvig to take over.
Fry has done very well with QI, I know he is a lot cleverer than I am, he will be a hard act to follow, but it's surely time to move on. Also is it just me or does Alan Davies seem increasingly like a parody of himself?
An upvote for Sandy, one of the most English sounding foreigners to ever exist, intelligent and funny to boot.
I also enjoy listening to Mr Fry even if he is a bit of an arse, so far I have yet to see a TV celeb who's advice I would take on any subject let alone anything IT.
I also found the article amusing, I like evil, nasty, sarcasm.
Before I stopped watching QI ( because If they can get the thing I know about wrong, what else is bollocks? ) I was sick of the comedians making cheap and lazy jokes.
Fine, be funny occasionally if you're actually going to be funny, but the programme is supposed to be mainly interesting.
...this isn't the same Stephen Fry who explained GPS thus?
"You send a signal from your GPS device. You've got to be at least three, usually four or five satellites – that receive your signal. And the difference in time it takes to get from one satellite to the other to the other, which is milliseconds, allows them to calculate your position to within 10 metres."
(Copyright: El Reg:
Andrew Orlowski does have a bit of a thing for having a pop at Stephen Fry but I can't say I've read anything by him that has a pop at Stephen Fry's well documented depression. That would be very bad form.
I quite like Mr Fry as a celebrity and will happily forgive his occasional foot in mouth moments, he's generally a force for good insofar as he bigs up science, technology and knowledge. Got nothing against Mr Orlowski either, although I don't always agree with him. I did find the whole GPS debacle quite amusing but it's surprising how many people I've heard fret about being 'tracked' by GPS (even amongst my esteemed comentards hereabouts IIRC).
And your point is? People with depression should have carte blanche to talk nonsense when they have a position of trust (as a National Treasure) but not the faintest clue what they're talking about?
Well, no, but you might what to consider reasoned criticism instead of badgering a known depressive who has shown suicidal tendencies in the past.
There's nothing wrong with criticising him for making mistakes, although one wonders about the newsworthiness of him getting an explanation of GPS wrong on an entertainment programme, but this reads like a small child poking someone repeatedly just to provoke a reaction.
@AC - not merely depression, (which is bad enough, I;ve had that) but bipolar disorder, which by all accounts is a whole lot worse. I've nothjing but respect for Mr Fry as an entertainer; that he gets his tech and science wrong at times I can forgive because at least he shows an interest and tries to learn about them - more than most seem to. That he took umbrage with El reg is just a crying shame, as I;ve seen plenty of wit and have learnt stuff from the pearls amidst the dross here.
I would be annoyed at Orlowski if he had indeed made fun of his depression. But an article search, easy to do, by Orlowski author with 'depress' or 'depression' shows nothing Fry-related on the Reg.
Sitting on the fence here. Bong or something more obviously satirical is a better venue than a normally fairly straight-up journalist to really dig at someone who is mostly guilty of a lack of techy acumen. But Mr Fry would probably be better off taking it in stride or ignoring it.
Upvote for pulling them up over their cavalier attitude to mental illness but I'd also downvote you if I could for saying:
> so yes the entire boot note is a pop at his mental illness
That is a ridiculous conclusion. The guy is bipolar,I'd also guess he's a pretty tough old cookie in many ways.
I would not have made that statement regarding an individual person, but Mr. Fry is a celebrity. As such, you will sometimes get badgered and quite unpleasantly so. That's just the way life is. Some celebrities will struggle with mental illness. Does that mean no one can criticize them, outside of making fun of their mental state?
Regardless of whether Orlowski was "right" or "wrong" in posting this, and previous, articles, it would seem that publicly ignoring it and not responding by calling him "frankly evil" would have been a better idea. That's generally a better coping and avoidance strategy than feeding creatures that live under bridges, especially when you are a public persona.
From the sounds of it, Mr. Fry's main mistake is not to employ a fact checker when doing science coverage. That could be easily remedied. In fact, I think his producers are remiss there. To the public and to Fry. These are not one man shows on a shoestring at the local county fair.
As many have said on this thread, they appreciate his interest in promoting science and he recognizes his own limitations. If he brings the enthusiasm and PR savvy, why not have someone doublecheck before releasing? Everyone comes out ahead.
This feud of theirs seems more silly as we go, but I still find the claim that Orlowski intentionally, or directly, made fun of his illness a stretch.
Unfortunately there are some human beings like that ... they are the saddest human beings of all ... they deserve help from human beings who have love and respect to give to others, because such an existence is a wasted existence.
i particularly remember
"Imagine a piano keyboard, eighty-eight keys, only eighty-eight and yet, and yet, new tunes, melodies, harmonies are being composed upon hundreds of keyboards every day in Dorset alone. Our language, Tiger, our language, hundreds of thousands of available words, frillions of possible legitimate new ideas, so that I can say this sentence and be confident it has never been uttered before in the history of human communication: "Hold the newsreader's nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers." One sentence, common words, but never before placed in that order. And yet, oh and yet, all of us spend our days saying the same things to each other, time after weary time, living by clichaic, learned response: "I love you", "Don't go in there", "You have no right to say that", "shut up", "I'm hungry", "that hurt", "why should I?", "it's not my fault", "help", "Marjorie is dead". You see? That surely is a thought to take out for a cream tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon."
Hugh looks at camera, opens mouth as if to speak, decides against it.
i wanted to go for
"So, in a sense, in a sense, in a sense, Duncan, we are left with those two. Two. None other. Nary another, not one other more. We have, on the one side of the divide, the gulf, the chasm, the DIVIDING LINE, if you please, we have the beauty of ideas, and on the other, the other side, oh, I don't know, the other term of the equation if that's nicer, we have the idea of beauty. Am I sensing through? Am I connecting?"
Hugh glances at the camera in friendly fashion....
but i would have had to post the entire set if i did that
Who cares, he's investing, that's what counts.
And I'm sure the money he's made from many of his other investments which have been overlooked allows him greater bragging rights on the smugness field than the author of this article, fact
I like that he's actually engaging in the world of tech - albeit perhaps a tad clumsily - I do have a sense that he is passionate about it and I have no desire to discourage anyone in our country from speculative investment in IT. Presumably you're also going to do a counterpoint where you brilliantly lambast the UK culture of stifling innovation in spite of being where so much basic science happens...
I know I know...asking you to say something constructive is a bit silly...
"I like that he's actually engaging in the world of tech - albeit perhaps a tad clumsily -"
His life has been spent seeking the approval of his engineer Dad, having been sent from home to boarding school at the age of 7. Poor chap, but he really has done quite well for himself.
* Did you know The Register recently invested in a new website?
* Did you know nowadays more people access the internet via mobile devices than desktop?
* Did you know The Register is an IT focused site and must be well aware of that?
* Did you know The Register's comments system requires users to write raw HTML, to add any formatting to comments?
* Did you know writing HTML on mobile device keyboards is incredibly unfriendly?
* Did you know each '<' or '>' takes three keystrokes to type?
* Did you know that, therefore it takes fourteen keystrokes to put '< i > ... < / i >' round some text on a mobile keyboard, where it would only take 4 to do the equivalent '* ... *' in markdown?
It's true that!
*[Hey! —this biting satire stuff is really easy to write]*
"Did you know writing HTML on mobile device keyboards is incredibly unfriendly?"
Yes, and it is very irritating, but the problem is with the keyboard design, not the requirement to write proper html.
Being able to do bold or italic easily is all very well but I like to be able to do
strike, superscript and subscript as well as slightly more complex hyperlinks. Only having to know one markup language is an advantage.
I still miss the BlackBerry keyboard,but it shouldn't be beyond the wit of designers to make it easier to type characters like < and >.
I use a "hackers keyboard" app on my droid when I need to do something remote and I've not got a more sensible option.
Has pretty much all the usual extra keys you need for most* shell commands and programming punctuation.
* I'm not positive off the top off my head it will do all
One of the "facts" discussed a couple of times on QI involves the so-called "half-life" of information, as-in After 10 years half of all the information you know will be wrong - but you don't know which half.
IIRC they have several times covered items from previous episodes that are now known to be wrong.
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