November 29, 2005
Daleks aren't gentlemen...
...or are they?
Genocidal mutant lumps of pure bubbling hatred they may be, but it seems the Daleks do draw the line somewhere: "It's outrageous to think of them touching up naked women -- Daleks just don’t behave like that."
Presumably the next step is for the Daleks to teleport into the P G Wodehouse universe and exterminate Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright for bandying a woman's name.
Obedience or death
Mash hurls his dice into the bush when they continue to roll 11s despite repeated warnings. housemonkey is impressed but is regaled with tales of yet more violent punishments for recalcitrant dice. A non-gamer comments, "This is why you people scare the general populace."
November 20, 2005
Joel Spolsky:"The reason the music recording industry wants different prices has nothing to do with making a premium on the best songs. What they really want is a system they can manipulate to send signals about what songs are worth, and thus what songs you should buy."
The problem with Joel's analysis is that the music industry has had differential pricing for ages, and it doesn't work the way he says it does. Differential pricing is essentially time-based: new albums appear at an introductory price, then rise to full price as they go into the back catalogue, then either get deleted or are re-issued at "mid" price. (Except for the Beatles, and even they have started turning up on "special offer" increasingly often.)
In fact, for new albums, differential pricing works exactly opposite to the way Joel says it does. Chart albums -- which, by extension, means any album the record company wants to be perceived as a chart contender and to be positioned at the front of the record store -- are actually priced cheaper than non-chart, non-promoted albums. Compare the week-of-release prices of the new Madonna album and the latest 77-minute Norwegian death metal opus. In the UK, with supermarket discounting, front-of-store records would typically be at least one-third cheaper in the week of release than records that went straight to the main racks.
Joel's theory that the record industry wants differential pricing as a means of leverage doesn't hold water either. When a musician gets uppity, all the recording industry has to do is threaten to release their next album with no promotion. No plugging on the radio, no video, no adverts in the music rags, no interviews, no purchasing of front-of-store space, no in-store displays. That may kill it stone dead. Threatening musicians with promotional discounts? Er, I don't think so.
At last, an explanation for 'Web 2.0'
Paul Graham: "The 'trends' we're seeing now are simply the inherent nature of the web emerging from under the broken models that got imposed on it during the Bubble."
November 13, 2005
A MIT team investigates the effectiveness of tinfoil hats (via Bruce Schneier): "Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals."
First, back in my day, the secret world government used to beam signals into our heads using orbital mind control lasers, not boring old radio signals. I suppose tinfoil hats would be a pretty effective defence against lasers -- any OMCL poowerful enough to penetrate a tinfoil hat would probably burn a hole in the paranoid's cranium -- so maybe that's why the government abandoned them, but I have to say I consider this a step down for nefarious conspiracies everywhere.
Second, I'm impressed by the sheer blatancy with which researchers now covet Ig Nobel prizes.
November 11, 2005
So much for "intelligent design" as a scientific hypothesis rather than Christian creationism in disguise: "A US Christian evangelist has told a Pennsylvania town not to ask for God's help if disaster strikes after it voted against teaching intelligent design."
November 02, 2005
Oracle 10 has a free edition. The press say it's "a counter to... open-source databases like MySQL." But, a less fashionable threat though it be, the real enemy might just conceivably be a certain other equally Express database with an equally commercial intent...
Happy World Usability Day
Wow, the BBC noticed: "A company's 'brand' does not just mean their logo or icon, but the gut feeling a customer gets from their products. This gut feeling is communicated by many elements including what the company says about itself, its advertising and, of course, the ease of use of its products."
And, in the true Beeb tradition of doing their very best to find another side to every story, a sort-of dissenting opinion: "It's not that I don't think usability is a good idea - of course it is... My worry is that the world has so far to go in making technology usable that I fear that celebrating usability is premature and conceals just how much hassle we put up with on a daily basis."
And I trust the Wellington UPA will be out in force tomorrow, protesting outside Dymocks about the confusing layout of the fiction sections, presenting a petition at the Beehive about poor signage on the revolving doors and, obviously, putting the quislings at Gamesman to the sword. Right?