Archives for: "December 2007"

HD DVD won? Blu-ray sales lagging behind massively

HD DVD sales that have been slowly growing faster than Blu-ray in the last 3 or 4 months have in the post-Christmas sales seen a huge acceleration.

At the moment on Amazon this is how the top 25 film (DVD) sales look:

DVD is winning with 15 titles.
HD DVD is second with 9 titles in the top 25.
Blu-ray is last with only a single title in the top 25.

HD DVD is sat on the top four spots, while the highest ranking Blu-ray title is only at number 19.

Expanding to the top 50, and we find another 7 HD DVD titles, and only 3 Blu-ray titles.

Inside or outside the Labour Party and Marxism-Leninism today

I was invited to attend the Yeovil Trades Council meeting yesterday. I was pleased to see the discussion was very open and it sparked a debate about being in or out of the Labour Party, one I've had with myself prior to joining for many years.

I wasn't able to get all of my thoughts out at the meeting on this, so here they are.

A couple of comrades brought up the point that because the Labour government was carrying out a neo-liberal agenda, which is perfectly true, such as moving the postal service in the direction of privitisation etc, they shouldn't have our support and we should attempt to form a new party.

Lenin said the Labour Party was a bourgeois-workers party, so we shouldn't be surprised that the leadership is carrying out a bourgeois program, with some concessions that is after all what they have been doing since it was founded.

It is a valid point to say that New Labour is far worse, and that Brown is even more right-wing than Blair. So we should look for an explanation why, I believe one possible candidate would be the state of socialists within the party. I believe thanks to all the people saying work outside the party, or attempting splits it has allowed the leadership to get away with far too much.

The state of the Labour Party is the way it is firstly because of the purges during the 1980s which weakened the left, largely thanks to the help of the media, Thatcher and the Labour leaders and their "longest suicide note in history" crap, and later because of so many people calling on their comrades to abandon the party.

If we lose the Labour Party, we lose the political wing of the working class. Instead of having the couple of dozen socialists in parliament we have nobody, 2.5 business parties sitting opposite each other. In effect handing the bourgeoisie total control of the parliament.

The fight for Labour isn't over, the next few years I think will be crucial, as a few comrades mentioned the possibility of losing the next election is something we need to be aware of, the polls are grim reading. But will an election defeat strengthen New Labour? Of course not it probably destroy it, it will end the one thing they've had going for them with all the moderates inside the party "we can win elections" doesn't amount to much when you lose an election.

Marxism-Leninism also cropped up, and how that the USSR and China are bad, oppressive and so on and so forth, Dave (Bridgewater TUC). How that has any relevance is beyond me, if anything it seemed more like an ad hominem against Ken (sorry I forgot your last name) from the Communist Party of Britain.

By the same logic one would attack democracy because George Bush declares he is for democracy - or any number of things. Marxists should not hand over our words just because Stalinist and Maoist revisionists like to use them.

Marxism-Leninism, or Bolshevism is important for the working class, the Labour Party is not capable of revolution, its a mass party of the working class, but still bourgeois which we should use to win progressive advancements for the working class. However when the time comes and the labour leadership are brought off on the edge of revolution, we need a revolutionary party to finish the job.

First Internet Explorer 8 news - nails Acid2 test

Other than the small news item that Internet Explorer 8 is under development, the IE team today announced the first real details, they've said the current build of IE8 in standards mode successfully renders the Acid2 test.

This means that it is more standards compliant than both Firefox and Safari.

Hopefully Microsoft can find away to ensure both good standards support, as well as solid backwards compatibility and hopefully a beta version isn't too far out.

nVidia you're a joke

I will not be buying, nor recommending that anybody buys any more products from this company.

No doubt many of my readers are aware of my long running battles with the GeForce 5 series on Windows Vista, which eventually made me so fed up I blew £1600 on a new Tablet PC (without any nVidia junk in I might add). nVidia right up to the launch of Windows Vista said they would support the GeForce 5 series on Windows Vista. Then around launch time they quietly retract and say it is no longer supported.

Now these guys have hit me again, with the nForce3 chipset. Unsurprisingly they pulled the exact same stunt, saying all through development and right up to launch that they will support Windows Vista, and then a month after launch, they pull all statements of support from their website. What a joke.

So anyway as I saw Socket 939 dual core chips were going pretty cheap so I replaced the Athlon 64 3200+ in one of my machines with a Athlon 64 X2 4200+, not only would it be a bit faster, with a Manchester core dual channel memory would work too, bargain. Everything worked fine until I arrived on the desktop, noticing the video card was in 2D basic mode. Windows was kind enough to inform me that where was a problem with the hardware and it couldn't start the drivers for my Radeon X850XT.

So I try a few things with no luck and then hit Google. It seems that the nForce3 doesn't work with ATI graphics cards in the AGP slot when using a dual core CPU. Great. So I disable one of the cores and everything works fine. Now this issue goes back to the launch on Windows Vista, the Socket 939 chipsets of the time all used a hack to get dual core CPUs to work, they'd remap the memory address of the AGP card into PCI, this is how they function on Windows XP. SiS and VIA both addressed the problem on their same-generation chipsets within a couple of weeks of the launch of Windows Vista by releasing an updated AGP driver.

Not nVidia though, they recommend you buy an nVidia graphics card or upgrade your motherboard! What a rip, worse still is their lack of support isn't advertised anywhere, boards with nForce3 chipsets are sold claiming compatibility for Windows Vista.

nVidia, get your act together release a damn AGP driver which works properly. No other company kills support for their products so quickly.

Opera: unbundle IE - utter madness

This has got to be the dumbest thing I've heard in years. Opera, the company behind the web browser Opera have filed a complaint with the European Commission, regarding Microsoft's evil web browser Internet Explorer, and how it is bundled with Windows, and as such how it hinders free choice in the browser market, something about this rings a bell.

Mr Jon von Tetzchner, CEO of Opera doesn't seem to have any brains in his head what-so-ever. Do I have to remind people what it was like in the early and mid 1990s?

So if Europe requires Microsoft to remove Internet Explorer, this is what happens to Joe Public when they get a new shiny computer home.

"Where's the internet" says Joe.

Joe then proceeds to look in Help and Support and finds that you need to download a web browser from the internet.

"How the bloody hell can I do that without a web browser?"

Oh look there's more, in Help and Support it has a list of addresses and phone numbers of company's who make web browsers, if you send some of them a cheque for shipping and handling you'll receive some CDs with a web browser on in 6 to 8 weeks.

Or if you're somebody like me, spend 2 weeks turning the house inside out looking for an old CD with IE3 or IE4 on, only to discover them won't install on a modern version of Windows. Perfect.

Mr Jon von Tetzchner, and friends. You're a disgrace to the computer industry. Why don't you stop trying to make everybody's lives 50 times more complicated and actually develop a decent browser, one which people will want to install themselves.

This is far more retarded than even Sun were being over Microsoft bundling their Java VM with Windows. Look how much hassle that caused everybody, all these Java websites and applications just stop working and Joe Public doesn't know what to do. Sun of course knew exactly what they were doing forcing everybody to go to their website, wasting time to download Java so they can bolster the Java brand - what a joke.

We're trying to make computing more user friendly, you aren't helping guys.

Urge to play WoW rising

Not played World of WarCraft since March, it is starting to get to me.

World of WarCraft patcher

I'm getting it patched up to date, just in case I cannot resist any longer. I'll have to play with Dudeanov, as my new main character (can't remember his name) is married to Catlyn, and he isn't allowed to go out without her.

Microsoft trying to finish off PlaysForSure?

According to Microsoft's website, PlaysForSure is being re-branded to Certified for Windows Vista.

Now PlaysForSure was created so you could see if devices would be compatible between different music stores and so on, both have the logo on and they both work together. Simple, it avoided as much lock-in as possible for a DRM system. It was a breath of fresh air from how extreme Apple are, everything of which they do is to lock you into them, and them alone.

Microsoft however when launching the Zune, decided to emulate how the iPod handles DRM, in that you are locked into the Zune Marketplace and so on.

So PlaysForSure is turning into Certified for Windows Vista, however the Zune is also Certified for Windows Vista, but not that Certified for Windows Vista. So how on Earth are they going to try and maintain compatibility? What I'd love to see is the Zune become compatible with PlaysForSure, but this strikes me more as a move to kill PlaysForSure.

Sceptics needed - Yeovil Psychic Society stumbled upon

Incredible, just tonight I stumbled upon the Yeovil Psychic Society's website. These people claim they are "Challenging the Accepted". Apparently these guys have been around for 30 years now. I wish they came upon my radar sooner.

I say we get some rational people together and found a Yeovil Sceptic Society, we can claim we're "Challenging the Bullshit".

Just a few things they've got wrong as I quickly went through their latest newsletter.

Earth is the only planet not named after a pagan God.

You forget Earth's other name, its Latin name, like all the other planets have. Terra, the Roman goddess of farmland, pregnancy and earthquakes.

Venus is the only planet that rotates clockwise.

...[From the North poles]. So does Uranus.

It's filled with astrology nonsense, and worse still (from a population health standpoint) pseudo-medical mumbo jumbo like the already well debunked slight of hand magic tricks, psychic surgery. The Turin Shroud makes an appearance too. Jeez, can't these people get something new, something that wasn't already shown to be a forgery?

Come on give us something fresh! Saying that though, that's the trouble with people who are closed minded to the possibility of being wrong.

So why not come along to our next meeting, you are guaranteed a warm welcome!

I doubt that.

Only using 10% of our brain, psychics and Father Christmas

So I ran into this nonsense again, someone saying that we only use 10% of our brain. *Sigh*.

To anybody who actually sits down and thinks about it for a while, it is obviously false. For example, how many times have you heard of somebody having a stroke, in the part of the brain they don't use and therefore being unaffected, or how many times have you heard of somebody having a brain injury, but being unaffected by it. If what they say is true, then we should hear of people stabbed in the head which caused severe damage to their brain but they suffer from no retardation. Of course in reality, typically such a wound is fatal, and even if it is not, it does cause some loss of brain function.

We use our entire brain, we can measure activity in the brain using tools like an MRI scanner, and the whole thing gets used at least some of the time.

The brain consists of about 2% of our body mass, yet it consumes, by various estimates from blood flow etc, about 20% of the body's energy. The brain is an extremely expensive organ and if 90% of it was unused, evolutionary pressures would trim it down to size.

Unfortunately over the years this has embedded itself in the public concious, I know the first time I ever heard of it was when I was a child watching the film Flight of the Navigator, every now and then I catch it said on the TV.

What really bugs me however is how it gets used by the woo woo crowd.

They use this 10% thing to support anything they want. For example...

We only 10% of our brains, therefore the other 90% is used for psychic power/talking to god/ESP/telekinesis/{insert personal belief here}

This doesn't work for two reasons.

1) Argument from ignorance, we don't know what this 90% is used for therefore it must be {insert personal belief}, without any evidence to support that position.

2) The argument is built upon a false premise, in that the 10% thing is actually false anyway.

I stumbled upon which seems to be a haven of nonsense over on Yahoo! Answers. Here we see somebody called Milly ask:

If we really do only use 10% of our brain, is it potentially possible that someone can be genuinely psychic?

Well to start off with, no we don't. You don't really need to go any further, but I will anyway.

Yes it is possible that somebody could be psychic.

So let's speculate on a method for this to work, I'll assume by psychic, one means being able to read other people's minds (ones who are alive) as the term psychic is very broad.

Nature gives us four forces to work with, we can dismiss the nuclear forces as they only apply at the atomic level, we can also dismiss gravity, which correlates with mass as our brain isn't that massive, and even if it were, there would be no way to reasonably alter the mass to be able to send data. That leaves us with the electro-magnetic force, specifically the EM spectrum.

Due to the size of our heads, one can rule out the longer radio wavelengths, to be realistic we'd have to start somewhere near the microwave area of the spectrum, once we get to the infra-red it becomes hard for us to control the signal without our body heat getting in the way, by the time we reach visible, it gets worse, can you imagine how bright a light you'd need to shine through your skull? You'd have to spend all day eating to stand a hope in hell of generating so much energy, by the time we're at these frequencies the brain would simply cook itself, touching your head would be like touching a 1000 watt light bulb, then of course if it were visible, we'd be able to see it with our eyes, I don't remember the last time I saw somebody with a glowing head.

So if we were to communicate using the EM spectrum, it would probably be around microwave wavelengths, this is the same frequencies that mobile phones, and 802.11 devices use.

As our brain does have an electrical current, it also generates an electro-magnetic field, however this is a by-product of the electrons whizzing around in our heads, and cannot encode any information. Also it is extremely weak, and we need sensors on the skull itself to stand much hope of even measuring it. So I believe we can rule this out going forward.

OK, so let's say we use microwaves, what we'd need is some form of transmitter in our brains, which can vary the microwave signal so we can encode our thoughts along with it. Also the psychics would need a receiver in their heads.

So yes Milly, it is possible. You don't have to break the laws of nature to do it.

However. From an evolutionary prospective it would be an expensive system to develop, the energy required to send out a constant stream of thoughts would drastically increase the amount of energy our brain uses. We also have ways to communicate which cost very little, we can send information through sound waves by banging things, or by changing the pitch of sounds using our vocal system.

Of course, these alone don't rule it out they just make it less likely to develop.

We could be generous and grant psychics the use of an undiscovered force, which costs very little energy and doesn't require much in the way of transmitters or receivers.

However still, they fall flat on their faces. We've been doing experiments with psychics for over a hundred years now, and nothing, nothing at all, negative, no effect.

Why? It's an easy experiment to do, it costs very little it is something that could be done in every secondary school in the world. We don't need to spend $8 billion building 20km particle accelerators to do it. It is cheap and easy to do.

I believe the reason they fall flat on their faces is because there is no effect going on.

However it seems some of the people answering Milly's question, seem to have an inability to think critically.

Personally, I am not ready or willing to write something completely off, like psychic abilities, because there is no definitive proof of it.

Right? So the fact that it is for starters implausible, and the fact they've failed every study done has no impact on you at all?

There is no way to prove psychic abilities without a doubt

Of course there is, do the studies and show there is an effect. If somebody could accurately read, for example images somebody else was being shown 70% or 80% of the time and if those studies were replicated in other centres, with everything doubled blinded and sound methodology. That would prove that person has the ability to see what somebody else is seeing, it would prove something is going on.

So don't give me that wishy washy nonsense.

but since it can't be disproved either, I think the only responsible thing is to be (at the very least) open to the possibility of it.

You cannot disprove a negative. That is unfairly placing the burden of evidence.

To illustrate my point. To prove Father Christmas exists, all one would need to do is grab the bugger as he's crawling down the chimney and see if there's a flying sleigh above your roof.

To disprove Father Christmas we could for example stay up Christmas Eve and see if he crawls down the chimney. If he doesn't does that disprove Father Christmas? No. Maybe he didn't visit our house this year because we were naughty. So then what would we need to do? Grab every person on the planet, lock them up, or put a camera monitoring them all to see if any of them is Father Christmas? No, maybe he's hiding, OK so we search every building, cave, swamp and igloo on the planet, does that disprove him? No. Maybe he's invisible, and so on.

You get my point, proving Father Christmas exists is relatively simple. Disproving him beyond all doubt is impossible, not only does it require a planetary study, heck even that isn't enough maybe he lives on the Moon, or Mars, and so on and so on. This is the same reason one cannot disprove a divine all-powerful being.

If psychics think there's a real effect going on PROVE IT, the burden of evidence is on YOU.

The default position any thinking person should take would be...

1) Implausible, therefore my position is doubtful.

Lots of studies get done and then...

2) No effect detected with plenty of good solid studies, therefore it doesn't exist.

You should be open to the possibility, but never so open minded that your brain falls out. If you base your opinions on the evidence then you have nothing to worry about, nobody will laugh at you and say you were wrong if new evidence comes in and you update your opinions. Because that is the rational, and intelligent thing to do, base your opinions on such matters on the data.

However if you stick to your guns and say hmm there's something going on, or maybe there's something going on, ignoring all the evidence you deserved to be laughed at. You'd be nothing but a crank, like so many so-called psychics...

Creeping around, spouting nonsense and woo woo thinking, avoiding scientists or rational people and making money off innocent people all at the same time. Can anybody say fraud and jail time?

To sum up...

1) We need and use all of our brain, the 10% thing is nonsense, spread by the likes of the media and psychics out to prove whatever nonsense they want.

2) Psychics = con artists.

3) I cannot disprove the existence of Father Christmas, that doesn't mean he exists.

Shuttle Atlantis launch next year

Thanks to faulty sensors in the external fuel tank the launch of the Space Shuttle Atlantis has been postponed again right back until the 2nd of January.

It's mission is to carry the European Space Agency's Columbus lab to the International Space Station.

However it, along with the Space Station will still be visible from the UK, the bad news is in the morning instead of the early evening. Unless of course it gets put back another three or four weeks.

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