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Behind the Scenes With the Star Trek Fan Reboot

Dogtanian Re:people still watch that crap? (57 comments)

TOS was a bunch of LSD lights and kirk visiting stupid copies of earth

Hahaha.... I'm sure someone will point out that Kirk only went to a "stupid copy of earth" twice and LSD lights in space didn't feature that often... yet somehow you've managed to distill and exaggerate an already selective general perception into something that *sounds* like you hit the nail on the head. :-)

TNG a bunch of technobabble and reengineering the ship to solve the problem of the week

True... but you forgot the overuse of the holodeck, which, if you were to exaggerate it the same way you did TOS, would have every third episode involving Data dressing up as Holmes and chasing Moriarty who'd somehow overridden the safety settings. :-)

(Disclaimer: Still my favourite ST series).

never got into Voyager

Saw some of it, nowhere near as bad as some people claimed, but came across as too much like a rerun of TNG with weaker characters.

(And the TNG-style episodic "reset button" formula was more obviously contrived when there was an end goal (i.e. to get home) that had to be put back out of reach).

2 hours ago
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The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the 50-Year Copyright Itch

Dogtanian Re:Separate Marginal Tax Rates for IP (118 comments)

Listen here SmartAss®, It is for...

Er, yeah, I think we all know what you meant. You yourself understand that the guy was being a "SmartAss®" (i.e. he knew what you meant but deliberately misinterpreted it), so not sure why you bothered re-explaining the bit in bold!

10 hours ago
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Blade Runner 2 Script Done, Harrison Ford Says "the Best Ever"

Dogtanian Re:Doubt it (298 comments)

In the sequel, the story will have to be much more powerful because the world is already introduced. From what I see in Wikipedia, it's not going to do it (which is not surprising, because it is by a different author).

That's a story from a series of Blade Runner books. Not the plot of Blade Runner 2, the movie.

Yeah... I suspect the film's still going to be written by a different author though. Well, unless there have been significant improvements in ouija board technology I wasn't aware of...

about a week ago
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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Dogtanian Re:Sounds Better? (433 comments)

I will admit there are some moments on audio records that weren't effectively replicated by replacement CDs. For example, the swelling of a brass section in a jazz big band, and a dramatic piano entrance with loud, stacatto notes (I can just picture the pianists' hands repeatedly dropping 10 inches). Not at all dramatic on the CD, but maybe with today's higher bit mastering that could be improved.

Isn't this a problem with the (already mentioned) audio range compression- AKA "loudness war" where the quiet bits are made louder and hence the (already as loud as they can be) loud bits don't sound as much louder by comparison.

I noticed this with one song on a Vangelis compilation I got from a shop that- compared with the vinyl version- lacks "punch" when the expected increase in volume should come in.

about a week ago
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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Dogtanian Re:not lossless (433 comments)

Vinyl is the only consumer playback format we have that's fully analog and fully lossless

The article itself gives plenty of examples why vinyl isn't lossless, and it's easy to name a few more.

This comes across as a second-hand, simplistic interpretation of something that was a fallacy to begin with. This is a fallacy that's either explicitly or implicitly used as the (flawed) basis of arguments, even on Slashdot.

The fallacy is that because "analogue" as a *purely abstract* concept can in theory have infinite precision- as opposed to digital (which by definition has a clearly-defined level of precision)- then an analogue medium like vinyl records must inherently be able to hold more detail than a digital one like (e.g.) compact discs.

Problem is, that argument could then be applied to any analogue medium (not just vinyl), so that e.g. a cheap, worn-out audio cassette recording made on a portable recorder in the early 70s must also be inherently superior to a CD, or even to a 24-bit, 96KHz digital master(!!!)

This makes the flaw in the argument more obvious, but it's still a flaw when applied to vinyl. The problem is that we're talking about actual, real-world examples of analogue media, not the abstract concept. In real life, no analogue medium can have infinite bandwidth, so they quite obviously *do* have inherent limits of precision and quality- just not as clearly delineated as those of digital. (*)

Of course, you might argue that we could engineer our analogue media to higher standards... but similarly, we could (theoretically) engineer a higher resolution and sampling rate into digital media, so there is no inherent argument in that either way.

Furthermore, by definition, a "perfect" analogue copy would require infinite perfection in the duplication process (clearly impossible) and the ability to verify this to infinite levels of precision (ditto). So by definition *any* analogue copy will be imperfect.

This isn't to say that CD is better than vinyl, or that digital is better than analogue. Maybe vinyl *is* better... maybe not. What it *is* saying is that the "analogue is infinite and digital is limited" argument *in itself* is flawed, and not a valid basis for drawing a conclusion either way. One can make comparisons where either is the clear winner- a good quality analogue turntable setup (and LP) will quite obviously sound better than a grungy 4-bit digital sample "bit bashed" through a C64 or Atari 800 sound chip. But the aforementioned 24-bit, 96KHz digital master will blatantly knock spots off an analogue C90 cassette recorded in 1973.

(*) One may be scientifically able to calculate the meaningful upper limit of cassette bandwidth and the noise floor by (e.g.) looking at the maximum theoretical magnetisation possible, spacing of the grains, et al... both in theory and in practice. I can't tell you what those limits are, but I can be quite confident that they'll exist, and hence dictate the maximum sound quality.

about a week ago
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Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

Dogtanian Re:Benny Hill? (79 comments)

Given the standard of what ITV produces* this isn't surprising. I can't think of a single show that ITV managed to export before Downton Abbey.

What are you talking about? The company "ITV plc" (which has only existed since 2004) or the ITV network?

Remember that "ITV" was originally- and still is- the collective name given to the network of (once independent) regional franchisees for the main commercial TV station.

It was only after the franchisees were allowed to merge- starting in the 90s- that the two largest remaining companies merged to become "ITV plc" in 2004. Before that, there wasn't an ITV company, just a bunch of separate companies that generally cooperated. And there are still two companies (STV and UTV) that are on the ITV network but not part of "ITV plc".

So, yeah, there were plenty of "ITV" shows exported before 2004, but those were made by various different companies.

about a week ago
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Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

Dogtanian Re:When you try and leave . . . (79 comments)

Will a giant white ball chase you down?

Not unless they license that show, since it was made by ATV/ITC for the ITV network, not the BBC. (*)

Unless, of course, I misunderstood you, and you were referring to a bizarre episode of It's a Knockout. ;-)

(*) Ditto this post regarding the "all British TV programmes were made by the BBC" fallacy Americans and others seem to hold.

about a week ago
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Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

Dogtanian Re:Benny Hill? (79 comments)

The article does claim that he was on the BBC- albeit even then not exclusively- in his early career, but moved to Thames in the late 60s. Still, this is another example of how Americans(?) always assume that British Television = BBC.

Since his move occurred just before BBC1 and ITV started colour transmissions, it's safe to say that any "Benny Hill Shows" in colour weren't made by the BBC.

about a week ago
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Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

Dogtanian Re:RED DWARF (79 comments)

"RED DWARF"... "make it so"?!

Subtle troll is subtle. :-)

about a week ago
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Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

Dogtanian Re:But does it report artificially low ink levels? (270 comments)

Keurig lost a $120 sale and a continuous sale of K-Cups because they choose to screw me and the rest of the consumers. They lost out with me.

I'm pretty sure companies don't care about a single lost sale, and even a low number of lost sales to geeks caused by DRM et al (if they're aware of it) will be considered a minor tradeoff against the monetary benefit of being able to lock in and (profitably) screw over the large number of people who *will* still be buying it anyway.

(This is the same situation as with the PSP et al being locked down and a couple of geeks saying "you lost a sale". Big deal, they lost a sale to people who probably weren't going to buy lots of games (where they make the most profit) and retained the ability to milk the remaining 99.5% of people who were still going to buy it for lots more money).

The best way to hit them where it hurts is to spread the word about how lousy and hostile to the user Keurig's machines are, preferably in terms that the ordinary user will understand (i.e. you *can't* use generic pods, you *will* have to pay more because Keurig want your money, and if you can't get the official Keurig ones, tough).

Ultimately, giving them an abstract lecture about DRM will probably turn them off, explaining *why* this particular example of DRM is lousy for them is a preferential backdoor in propaganda terms. (Though I wouldn't shove the term DRM down their throats).

about two weeks ago
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Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

Dogtanian Re:The thing that made the Sinclairs popular ... (110 comments)

Yeah, we still have Spectrum fanboys on Slashdot claiming people in the UK bought them instead of 2600's/NES's because you could do homework on them because it was a "computer".

I said most people used them for games; that, as the other guy said, still leaves a small but significant percentage who *did* end up programming them. It's just that a lot more of them were basically bought for games playing. And I think the "word processing" thing is a bit of a strawman; the Spectrum never had a reputation as a home office or business machine anyway.

The VCS/2600 was around for five years before the Spectrum. Some people here did own it; it just wasn't as ubiquitous.I don't know when it launched in the UK, but I'm assuming that a combination of the fact it (as an imported machine and going by the rule of thumb) was probably more expensive here than in the US along with the fact that people in the UK had lower rates of income (and hence disposable income) to spend on a still relatively expensive machine contributed to most people not buying one- regardless of whether the Spectrum was out or not.

As for the original NES, yes, though it wasn't a flop here, it wasn't remotely as dominant as it was (apparently) in the US. It's known that- until well into the 90s- Nintendo didn't really take Europe that seriously or push as hard there. The Mastertronic-distributed Sega Master System outsold the NES here- possibly because Mastertronic was a UK company and more in tune with the UK market. Even so, the UK market remained far more home computer driven than the US until the Mega Drive/SNES started selling in large numbers circa 1992. Oddly, *their* cartridges weren't easily pirated, unlike Amiga games (which lost ground to the 16-bit consoles around this time); yet the consoles weren't so much better than the Amiga that they would have beaten it if piratability of games was the only factor.

about two weeks ago
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Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

Dogtanian Re:The thing that made the Sinclairs popular ... (110 comments)

The ZX81 didn't last as long, more because it had limitations compared to the Speccy.

All that is true, and I'm aware of it, but it misses the point. The point wasn't why the ZX81 didn't last long- that, of course, was because it was superseded.

The point I was making was why the Spectrum *did* last so much longer despite also being eclipsed in purely technical terms. That, as I mentioned, was because it was the first machine "good enough" for arcade games and "good enough" for its existing software base to have value. The mid-80s point circa the Amstrad buyout, when "serious" support started to fade was (I'm guessing) the point at which the non-gaming hobbyist/enthusiast market moved on to more advanced machines, and the point at which it probably would have faded if it was being purchased for the same reasons as the ZX81. It didn't- it lasted well the early 90s, i.e. past the start of the Mega Drive era!

Also, the original unexpanded ZX81 had a full 1KB; still a tiny amount by most standards, but not the almost unusable 256 bytes (i.e. "1/4k") that you suggest. The Atari VCS/2600 had an even tinier 128 bytes (plus one line of screen memory), but that was a much older machine and intended to run programs stored on external ROM, so the RAM there was "only" needed for keeping track of scoring players, etc. Still an incredibly small amount, though.

about two weeks ago
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Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

Dogtanian Just emulation anyway, not a reimplementation (110 comments)

Some of the emulators even allowed you to load directly from tape with a simple interface.

As far as I'm aware, the Vega *is* effectively just a cheap ARM-based computer running an emulator anyway (as opposed to a logic-level reimplementation of the original circuitry like the C64 Direct to TV was), supplied in a parodically cut-down mockery of the original Spectrum keyboard.

If I was a Spectrum fanatic, I'd want something that was either a "true" reimplementation of the original Spectrum and/or something that looked and could be used like the original Spectrum- possibly with additional features or connectivity, but retaining the original features.

This is- in some respects- better than Elite's "relaunch" of the ZX Spectrum (reported as such in many places) as a Bluetooth keyboard (i.e. they designed a Bluetooth keyboard that approximates the old Spectrum case and works with some crappy proprietary Android app). But that's a pretty low bar... the Vega is still just an emulator in a nostalgia-exploiting case that won't properly replicate the experience anyway, so why bother? I've no doubt it'll still sell, though.

about two weeks ago
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Spectrum Vega: A Blast From the Past

Dogtanian Re:The thing that made the Sinclairs popular ... (110 comments)

The thing that made the Sinclairs popular was that you could actually program them yourself. Not the games.

That may have been true of the ZX80 and ZX81 (since those weren't ideal for games anyway).

However, while the Spectrum may undoubtedly have attracted hobbyists in its early days, I suspect that long-term the vast majority were sold for playing games on (regardless of what schoolkids told their parents to get them to buy one!). Yeah, some of those kids did write games on them... most of them probably didn't!

The reason is almost certainly that the Spectrum was the first really cheap home computer on the UK market to feature high-resolution graphics (*), colour and "sound" (**) sufficient to render acceptably realistic approximations of early-80s arcade games.

It's obvious that the Spectrum- having got there first- benefitted from the "network effect" (***) I assume this is why- despite countless "me too" competitors released in the wake of the Spectrum's success- almost none gained significant market share, even when they may arguably have had better specs, or been cheaper. (****)

The Spectrum's established software base and continued support meant it continued to be popular for gaming for years, even when its limitations (e.g. "attribute clash", 8-colour palette, lack of hardware scrolling or sprites) became more obvious when trying to replicate newer arcade games with more detailed background graphics et al.

As I said earlier, I've no doubt that a significant number of early adopters were "serious" hobbyists, and it would still been a major success with them alone. However, it probably wouldn't have lasted as long; it's clear that they'd started to move on by the mid-80s as the Spectrum was superseded technically and the "never mind the limitations, check out the massive amount of very cheap games" younger gaming market remained.

To back this up, it's worth noting that after Amstrad bought out Sinclair's existing computer line in 1986, their marketing was almost entirely gaming-focused. It's also notable that by this point almost all the Spectrum magazines concentrated on games.

That's probably why the mainly-hobbyist ZX81 (for all its influence) had a much shorter lifespan- only around three years- yet the Spectrum continued to be sold for a decade until 1992(!!), by which point the Mega Drive (AKA Genesis) was quite popular.

(*) "High resolution" by the standards of the time, i.e. 256 x 192, as opposed to (e.g.) the ZX81's 64 x 48 character-based graphics
(**) Albeit via the very limited single-channel "beeper"
(***) i.e. people rushed out to buy the Spectrum, so many games were written for it, so many people more bought it because it had the most games, so more games were written for it... etc.
(****) Other 8-bits, such as the Commodore 64, BBC Micro and later Amstrad CPC enjoyed success in the UK, but those were aimed at distinctly different (higher) price points and market segments

about two weeks ago
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Chinese CEO Says "Free" Is the Right Price For Mobile Software

Dogtanian Re:When you're right, you're right. (133 comments)

[VHS] won because of p0rn

This is oft-quoted as fact, but I've seen it disputed often enough that I wouldn't take it at face value. From as early as 1996, this thread commented that:-

Um, my family was the first on the block, getting a Sony Betamax in September, 1977, and porn films were readily available as quickly in Beta as in VHS (faster actually, because at the start of sales/rental of pre-recorded video, there were far more Beta titles available than VHS). Trust me. I was a horny little 12 year old at just about the time they became available. I know.

Even if Sony prohibited porn from being copied in their own commercial duplications facilities (which, I assume, would have had much- if not most- of the capacity in the early days), this doesn't mean the lack of commercial porn would have been the reason for Beta's failure.

Maybe Betamax *did* fail because of a lack of porn. But I suspect the shorter running time in the early machines would have been a bigger problem.

Let's be honest, from what I've heard the picture quality was a *bit* better, and yeah, the cassettes were a bit smaller than the annoying bulky VHS ones. But if they couldn't record more than an hour, then that's a severe limitation for timeshifting films, longer dramas and sports games.

I know the story's meant to be that people went for quantity over quality with VHS, but if the improved quality meant it wasn't actually useful for a lot of what most people wanted then IMHO, it's a perfectly reasonable decision that doesn't make you a philistine. Video recorders were a means to an end, and I'm sure a lot of people knew Beta was better quality but preferred to be able to record a whole film and went for VHS.

There's also the Beta licensing/manufacturing issue, but this wasn't really meant as a "*why* VHS beat Beta" post. Point is that the "porn won the war for VHS" thing probably took the (supposed) lack of porn on Beta, assumed it *was* the reason Beta failed and the argument gained currency because it was "obvious" and catchy... not because it had been proven.

about two weeks ago
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Chinese CEO Says "Free" Is the Right Price For Mobile Software

Dogtanian Re:Profit? (133 comments)

How are they earning a profit? If the apps are free, where do they get the money?

Volume!

$0.0000000000 x 8,000,000,000 (inflated population of the world) = 0

Whoosh!

about two weeks ago
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The PlayStation Turns 20

Dogtanian Re:It increased gamers' average age (101 comments)

We played our video games with ONE JOYSTICK and ONE RED BUTTON!

You had a joystick *and* a button? Luxury! I used to *dream* of having a joystick. I only had a disconnected joystick cable and I'd control it by making the connections with my tongue.

And the button wire was missing. And I didn't have any games. Or a computer.

But you know, I were happy in those days, even though I was poor.

(FWIW, I was still using that type of one-button Atari-format joystick on my Amiga until the mid-90s when the Amiga died altogether as a mainstream format and I was losing interest in games anyway. That was probably the point at which the "classic" one-button 9-pin Atari stick died(?); I don't count the Mega Drive/Genesis controller, as that had three buttons even though it used the 9-pin Atari connector and was sort-of-compatible).

about two weeks ago
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Who Needs NASA? Exoplanet Detected Using a DSLR

Dogtanian Re:Ditch the DSLR (108 comments)

Seriously, a DSLR sensor is 35mm because the film it replaced is 35mm.

Mostly wrong. Only high-end professional-oriented DSLRs have 35mm-sized sensors, the majority use smaller APS-C sized sensors or something in that ballpark.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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Low-tech, out-of-date... is this Japan?

Dogtanian Dogtanian writes  |  more than 4 years ago

Dogtanian (588974) writes "Japan is often seen as the archetypal high-tech society, years ahead of the rest of the world and the first to adopt innovative new technology with gusto. Yet while every good Japanophile knows how this facade hides a very traditional and conservative society with roots going back centuries, it's less well known that this ultra-modern image also hides the fact that many aspects of Japan are far from high-tech- quite the opposite. Police stations with no computers, ancient tape-based answering machines, antiquated heating... and a very real danger that they've already missed the boat in several important technological areas. Is this really the same country as the Blade Runner-esque tech utopia of geek lore?"
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NASA Uncovers the Original Moon Landing Tapes

Dogtanian Dogtanian writes  |  more than 5 years ago

Dogtanian (588974) writes "Having been missing for almost forty years, the original video footage from the original 1969 moon landings has been uncovered, promising much higher quality images of the event. The low-quality, grainy images we're all used to were converted to NTSC, compressed for relay to the US, then archived by pointing a 16mm film camera at a monitor. Although the technology now exists to view the slow-scan source transmissions in much higher quality, unbelievably the tapes with the original recordings were misplaced and lost until recently. NASA was apparently hoping to keep a lid on this for the 40th anniversary, but I'm very happy to have heard about this sooner. [Note to editors: IIRC you might have covered the loss of the tapes previously]"
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