Gatonegro's recent activity

  1. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    I've been wanting to learn to play the piano for a long time. I have a a low-end digital Yamaha keyboard. Every time I've tried to do anything with it, the stiff nature of the experience turns me...

    I've been wanting to learn to play the piano for a long time. I have a a low-end digital Yamaha keyboard. Every time I've tried to do anything with it, the stiff nature of the experience turns me off. It doesn't sound or feel anything like what I expect from a piano. My grandpa had an upright piano that I messed about with when I was very young, and the feeling of it was really something else.

    4 votes
  2. Comment on What does analog have that digital doesn't? in ~talk

    Gatonegro
    (edited )
    Link
    I miss the analogue experience more than anything. Digital is all about convenience, or so we are told. Music, movies and TV have reached the point where pretty much everything is just a search...

    I miss the analogue experience more than anything.

    Digital is all about convenience, or so we are told. Music, movies and TV have reached the point where pretty much everything is just a search away (if the Gods of Licensing and Rights Management permit), whether it's the newest show/movie/album, or a classic from 80 years ago. This is, by any reasonable metric, incredibly convenient. Think of something? It's right there! Or maybe it is but you can't have it because of geoblocking, or it's exclusive to a service you're not subscribed to. But for the vast majority of "things" that will not be a problem. The same deal applies to video games: if you have the money, you can get basically any game you want from the comfort of your PC, phone, or gaming console. Books? Yup, those too.

    It would be silly to try and deny that the way things are with digital everything are not more convenient. For the past year I've been building a playlist on Spotify, and I'm quite sure I would've never found 99% of the artists in it without a convenient digital service that looked at the music I was listening to, and went "Hey! You might like this similar thing!". I'm currently watching The X-Files on Prime Video. I didn't need to track down tapes or DVDs of it. One day I just felt like watching it from the beginning, and I did because it's on a digital service. I sometimes listen to an old radio show from the 90s and early 2000s, and I'm able to do it because someone kept digital copies of hundreds of episodes.

    This quasi-sci-fi level of convenience notwithstanding, I find myself missing analogue media quite often, and sometimes straight-up rejecting the digital alternatives. I simply can't deal with a digital book, for example. The experience of having a book in my hands and finding a comfortable spot to read for a few hours is not something I can duplicate with a phone, a tablet, or an e-reader. Feeling the weight of a big book, or a small one. Being able to tell, just by looking at the book, how much progress you've made. Its physical presence, the colour and design of the covers, the binding... The smell of a book, new or old, is unlike anything else. Staring at the screen of yet another electronic device (or the same bloody device that does everything) just doesn't cut it, no matter how many neat customisation options or how convenient an e-reader app might have.

    When it comes to music, the discussion seems to get stuck on the issue of fidelity, which to me is rather unimportant. In general, I care very little about quantifiable metrics like fidelity or resolution for audio and video. I knew a self-professed audiophile back in the day who refused to listen to anything that wasn't in FLAC, and thought even 320kbps MP3 was rubbish because it wasn't "pure and uncompressed". They listened to their collection of pure, uncompressed music on a set of thoroughly average speakers that made everything sound super boomy because the subwoofer was just insane, and they had to spend time messing around with the bass and treble controls to make the music not sound offensively bad.

    Even without the hilarious snobbery, obsessing over fidelity is a bit nonsensical since, for a lot of music, not even the mixing engineer is going to care about making the perfect mix, or have access to ultra top-quality audiophile gear. So there is quite literally no benefit to be had from high fidelity past a certain point.

    I feel the way we experience creative works in general has been negatively affected by the all-digital world. I made a comment in a different thread a while back, about the experience of listening to music on physical media. The act of listening to a CD, or a vinyl record, or a cassette, is a deliberate one, that requires a certain level of committment. While the record is inside the player, that's all there is. You don't have 50 other playlists demanding your attention. No ads are popping up between songs. You are engaging with the work because you chose to do it. You went to grab the album, open it, place it inside the player, press "Play". You hear the machine moving for a bit before the music starts to come out. You have the record sleeve, or the CD booklet in your hands while the music plays. You listen to the tracks in order, the way the artist decided to arrange them. Sometimes this doesn't really matter, but there are times where the album itself has a deliberate flow to it that's completely gone if you listen to just one track or have "shuffle" on. Track 6 skips a bit around 2 minutes because the disc got scratched once 10 years ago. The physical object itself tells you things about your own life: that shop where you bought the record 18 years ago, or that friend who gave it to you as a birthday present, or that day you heart one of the songs on the radio and rushed to the record shop as soon as you could to find the album. Hell, these days it'll remind you of that day you were just pissing about inside a thrift store and saw the CD case on a random shelf.

    Does anyone remember the first time they played any one song on Spotify? The day they added it to a playlist? The day they bought the digital album (does anyone still buy music?) while sitting on the toilet? I'll take the analogue experience, and the reduction in fidelity that comes with it, every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    This has turned into a mini essay, which was not my intention. I could go on about other forms of digital "things", but the argument would be pretty much the same. The digital, while more convenient and higher quality, lacks the personality of analogue media for me. It's cold, impersonal, abstract, and too perfect. It's there all the time, a couple clicks away, and so it demands nothing from me, which makes me feel less invested in it. It's like talking to someone in person vs texting. One requires your attention, the other is just one of the dozen things you're doing at any given time.

    I'm in a strange place when it comes to digital vs analogue. I'm a fan of technology, and the transition to a digital world has given me a lot of things. But I'll cling to the clunky, bulky, inconvenient world of analogue and physical media for as long as I can. Because, to me, it just feels better.

    13 votes
  3. Comment on First clinical trial confirms HIV vaccine using Moderna inoculation in ~science

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    Not a cure as such, but potentially a way to provide immunisation and prevent you from getting it in the first place. There's a similar push, for example, to develop a universal flu shot. Instead...

    Not a cure as such, but potentially a way to provide immunisation and prevent you from getting it in the first place. There's a similar push, for example, to develop a universal flu shot. Instead of getting a shot each year for whatever strain of influenza is doing the rounds, you get one that is able to neutralise the influenza virus, no matter what mutations it shows any given season.

    6 votes
  4. Comment on First clinical trial confirms HIV vaccine using Moderna inoculation in ~science

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    In theory, yes. Broadly neutralising antibodies are effective against fast-mutating viruses because they target parts of the viral structure that don't change much between the different strains....

    In theory, yes. Broadly neutralising antibodies are effective against fast-mutating viruses because they target parts of the viral structure that don't change much between the different strains. The technique being studied here could theoretically be applied to other viruses — influenza, for example — if it proves to be a reliable and safe way of boosting the production of these antibodies.

    3 votes
  5. Comment on First clinical trial confirms HIV vaccine using Moderna inoculation in ~science

  6. Comment on First clinical trial confirms HIV vaccine using Moderna inoculation in ~science

    Gatonegro
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    There's a type of antibodies called "broadly neutralizing antibodies", which are particulary well suited for neutralising fast-mutating viruses like HIV. The problem is that said antibodies are...
    • Exemplary

    There's a type of antibodies called "broadly neutralizing antibodies", which are particulary well suited for neutralising fast-mutating viruses like HIV. The problem is that said antibodies are only produced by specific immune cells that, under natural circumstances, can't produce enough antibodies to mount an effective defence. The type of vaccine being tested here seems to be capable of stimulating those cells to levels of antibody production high enough to actually counteract the infection.

    It's not an actual HIV vaccine, but it shows that parts of the immune system can be effectively stimulated to fight viruses like HIV.

    23 votes
  7. Comment on Found: Page 25 of the CIA’s Gateway Report on Astral Projection in ~misc

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    The whole astral projection/remote viewing stuff was really popular in conspiracy circles in the 90s and, as you'd probably expect after reading that sentence, it was full of con artists and...

    The whole astral projection/remote viewing stuff was really popular in conspiracy circles in the 90s and, as you'd probably expect after reading that sentence, it was full of con artists and kooks. People like Ed Dames, a US Army Major turned remote viewing consultant and peddler of books, seminars, and training videos, used the fact that government research into the subject did in fact happen, to give some sort of legitimacy to an entirely new branch of pseudoscience, and make a good chunk of money in the process.

    These self-proclaimed remote viewers like Ed Dames provided support for all sorts of whacky theories: they could "see" alien civilisations on Mars, knew that shadow beigns were in fact manifestations of remote viewers from other dimensions, and made predictions about world-altering (even -ending) cataclysms that would happen in the near future. Of course, they also had a speech reminding you that "remote viewing" wasn't an exact science, so a failed prediction didn't really mean anything. Maybe the remote viewer misinterpreted the vision, or maybe they were just viewing the wrong thing. The solution for this? Have more remote viewers focused on trying to see that specific target, so you could filter out the inaccurate predictions.

    The truth is that the US government in general, and the CIA in particular, did (do?) at least some amount of research into all sorts of bizarre areas. Mind control, astral projection, memory manipulation, basically nothing is too whacky. Why? If I had to guess, I'd say it's because were interested in quite literally anything that might provide some benefit to them, particularly back in the days of the Cold War. It might sound insane at face value, but what if remote viewing actually works and it lets you spy on the Soviets from a CIA basement? What if pumping folks full of synthetic drugs actually helps turn them into enhanced soldiers? There are lots of once-secret government projects ranging from the patently absurd to the downright sadistic. Most of them were dead ends. But, when the taxpayer is footing the bill, you can just shut those projects down and move onto the next weird idea.

    9 votes
  8. Comment on The things we do and do not say - Notes on the impossibility of talking online and rise of disinterpretation in ~life

    Gatonegro
    Link
    Haven't read the article yet, but this bit from the Twitter thread feels so familiar. This is one of the reasons why I avoid talking about anything even remotely contentious with strangers online.

    Haven't read the article yet, but this bit from the Twitter thread feels so familiar.

    Often it happens because positions don’t instantly appear to fit into classic left-right or liberal-left binaries.

    This is one of the reasons why I avoid talking about anything even remotely contentious with strangers online.

    6 votes
  9. Comment on Xbox is supporting old games, while Sony and Nintendo are leaving them behind in ~games

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    I might be completely off since I haven't paid close attention to anything Nintendo has done in the past 15 years, but it seems to me like "cash-in on nostalgia" is 80% of their business strategy....

    I might be completely off since I haven't paid close attention to anything Nintendo has done in the past 15 years, but it seems to me like "cash-in on nostalgia" is 80% of their business strategy. I'm fairly certain that everyone who's come in contact with video games in the past 3 decades has played at least one game from Nintendo's flagship series, so they basically coast on the recognition of Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, etc.

    Now, no one can fault them for playing it safe and sticking to their (hugely) successful franchises, but I haven't seen a single thing from them in years that strikes me as substantially different from the things I played back in the day. That works incredibly well for them, apparently. But I don't find it particularly innovative or interesting.

    4 votes
  10. Comment on Meet the developers who are about to lose their PlayStation Vita games forever in ~games

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    The PS3 in particular is notoriously difficult to emulate, though one could argue that, if hobbyists are doing it, Sony should be able to do it as well if they wanted to. Unless you plan on...

    If Sony were smart they would release emulation software for the ps3 and vita to run on pc.

    The PS3 in particular is notoriously difficult to emulate, though one could argue that, if hobbyists are doing it, Sony should be able to do it as well if they wanted to.

    there is no reason to oppose emulation.

    Unless you plan on rereleasing classic games from the previous generation as "remasters" and get some extra cash from an aging title. Even then, emulation is hardly a threat to official rereleases. It requires a somewhat capable system and some degree of technical skill (at least to deal with BIOS dumps, plugins, video settings, etc.), so odds are the majority of people who would be interested in playing a previous-gen title will go for a convenient current-gen release instead.

    I hate how entertainment media is treated like a throwaway commodity for the sake of benefitting shareholder wallets.

    Yup, I feel the same way. People don't generally think about preservation issues, and businesses in general have no reason to choose preservation over re-releases of their properties for new formats—buying movies on VHS/DVD/Blu-ray is one of the most obvious recent examples. And god help you if you were betting on Betamax or HD-DVD.

    5 votes
  11. Comment on YouTube experimenting with removal of public dislike count in ~tech

  12. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    Oddly enough, I'm not a Zelda fan either, or even a Nintendo fan in general. A Link to the Past for the SNES was the last Zelda game I played, and the NES was the only console I ever had. I messed...

    Oddly enough, I'm not a Zelda fan either, or even a Nintendo fan in general. A Link to the Past for the SNES was the last Zelda game I played, and the NES was the only console I ever had. I messed around with the SNES for a bit because one of my best friends at the time had one, then I played N64 and GameCube once or twice over the years.

    I certainly don't like games being obtuse about where to go next or what to do

    I've always liked games where you have to figure stuff out on your own, but I'd say there's a fine line between "figure stuff out yourself" and being deliberately obtuse. TLoZ sometimes falls into that second category, which can definitely be a turn-off for some folks.

    2 votes
  13. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    Save states and rewinding definitely make old games more accessible. If you don't have the time or the inclination to spend hours redoing a single level, you don't need to do that just to enjoy a...

    Save states and rewinding definitely make old games more accessible. If you don't have the time or the inclination to spend hours redoing a single level, you don't need to do that just to enjoy a retro game. Some might enjoy one style of playing over the other, but we have options for everyone.

    1 vote
  14. Comment on PS3, Vita, and PSP Stores to be permanently closed in a few months in ~games

    Gatonegro
    Link Parent
    I haven't kept up with P.T. specifically, but from a quick search it does look like Konami has gone out of its way to make sure people can't play it. So, unless you're willing to jump through...

    I haven't kept up with P.T. specifically, but from a quick search it does look like Konami has gone out of its way to make sure people can't play it. So, unless you're willing to jump through hoops to get it working on original hardware, playing P.T. is not really an option anymore. And, like I said, accessibility is one of the main goals of preservation. For the general public, P.T. is as good as gone.

    2 votes
  15. Comment on What games have you been playing, and what's your opinion on them? in ~games

    Gatonegro
    (edited )
    Link
    I've been playing The Legend of Zelda (yes, that one) these past few days. Or rather, replaying it for the first time in like 25 years. I'm like 70% through the game at this point, and a few...

    I've been playing The Legend of Zelda (yes, that one) these past few days. Or rather, replaying it for the first time in like 25 years. I'm like 70% through the game at this point, and a few things have stood up.

    The music

    It goes without saying that the tunes in this game are quite literally classics. But I was mildly worried about one thing when I started—for most of your playthrough, you're going to be listening to one of two 3-minute pieces on a loop. Of course, this was not at all surprising in the days of the NES, since cartridge space was really limited, but it's been quite a while since short, endlessly looping music was the norm, and I was fully expecting to get sick of the overworld/dungeon loops after a while. So far, it hasn't happened. I've spent about 10 hours in total playing the game, and I have zero problem with the music. Goes to show how good of a composer Koji Kondo actually is.

    Getting lost as a gameplay mechanic

    Games these days are incredibly hand-holdy. I won't go into whether that's a good or a bad thing, but they 100% are—tutorial levels, on-screen prompts, detailed maps, floating quest markers, etc. There are games that can be reduced to blindly chasing markers on your screen that tell you where to go, who to talk to, and who to kill. Developers conveniently mark every bit of content so you won't miss it. Thirty-something years ago, that was not the case at all.

    The Legend of Zelda throws you straight into the overworld, your only clue as to what's going on (aside from the game manual) being a blurb giving you a bit of the story, and a scrolling list of every item you'll find in the game. The entrance to the cave where the old man will give you your first weapon is right there in the first screen, so you probably won't miss it. But after that, you're on your own. The overworld is full of secret entrances to caves and tunnels and whatever, but the game won't even hint at them. Sometimes you need to place a bomb in some totally nondescript bit of rock, or set fire to a specific tree that looks like every other tree around it. You could complete the entire game without finding a single secret, and you wouldn't know it.

    One particular instance of getting lost was interesting. In the northwest bit of the map, I suddenly found myself on a looping screen. If you moved to the left, you left the area, but going up or down took you to the exact same place. This triggered something inside my brain. I knew there was a secret there, and I knew I'd found it decades ago, but I couldn't remember exactly what it was or how I found it. So I spent the next few minutes moving in different patterns inside the loop, until I stumbled upon the secret. For a moment it felt like when, back in those days, you'd hear rumours of secrets in a game from friends in school, and you sat there in front of the TV trying out all the different (and sometimes nonsensical) techniques that were supposed to trigger the secret.

    The difficulty

    Games have also become much, much easier. And our brains have changed because of that. I beat The Legend of Zelda back in the day, as did millions of others, with nothing but sheer stubbornness and a coin cell to save game data on the cartridge. I have no idea how long it took me to beat the game, though. Probably quite a while, since the level design and enemy placement becomes borderline sadistic towards the end. Enemies that can teleport around the screen, take multiple hits to die, and have a high-damage ranged attack with effectively no cooldown? Sure, lets throw a dozen of those into a single dungeon room. And if you manage to make your way past those, the dungeon boss can kill you in 3 or 4 hits while you try to figure out which weapon actually works against it. Then it's off to the initial screen with you. Try again.

    I must admit this is the aspect that has bothered me the most in my playthrough. I've muttered "fuck this game" a couple times in frustration after dying to a mob of damage sponges. But I also know that the difficulty served a purpose. The game itself is quite short, and the gameplay is super basic, so you need to make it difficult to make it last longer. Nintendo knew that it would take players a while to beat it, hence the inclusion of the battery-backed saves. I'm not sure if my brain is wired differently these days, or I just have no recollection of being frustrated by this game because that part wasn't fun, and I only remember the fun bits.


    This wasn't supposed to be a mini-essay on the game, but I kind of got carried away. In any case, would I recommend giving The Legend of Zelda a go in 2021? Absolutely. Whether you played it decades ago or were born well after it came out, it's a very intereting experience. And it's really easy to get your hands on it, be it on PC or a console. Definitely worth your time, even if you don't stick with it through the end.

    9 votes
  16. Comment on PS3, Vita, and PSP Stores to be permanently closed in a few months in ~games

    Gatonegro
    (edited )
    Link Parent
    Accessibility is (or should be) one of our main concerns when talking about this sort of thing, as it is in many other fields where preservation efforts exist. A rip of P.T. being available on a...

    The bigger problem is probably ensuring everything will be playable in the future

    Accessibility is (or should be) one of our main concerns when talking about this sort of thing, as it is in many other fields where preservation efforts exist. A rip of P.T. being available on a private tracker is great because it means the data is still available, but how accessible is it for the public? That should be the goal, because the files themselves don't really mean anything if people don't have easy access to them. And I'm not talking about the fact that they're on a private tracker.

    It's like if a group of film enthusiasts manages to snatch a print of a movie before every other copy of it is lost in a fire. It's great that they did it, and it's great that the film was not actually lost. But if the print is then kept inside a vault, where only a handful of people can see it every year, to the general public it may as well be considered lost.

    None of this is to say that the scene groups keeping this rip alive should be doing more or whatever. It's not on them, and scene groups in general contribute in a huge way to software preservation efforts, even if it's not their main goal. The problem is with the companies that treat their products as disposable commodities that can be relegated to oblivion once they're not making them enough money. The move towards more backwards compatibility, when it comes to consoles, gives me some hope, but I don't think everyone is on the same page just yet.

    3 votes
  17. Comment on Cassette history/trivia : A series of fortunate events in ~tech

    Gatonegro
    Link
    The recent passing of Dutch engineer Lou Ottens brought the cassette back into the limelight for a little bit. Ottens was credited as "the inventor" of the cassette tape, though he was never...

    The recent passing of Dutch engineer Lou Ottens brought the cassette back into the limelight for a little bit. Ottens was credited as "the inventor" of the cassette tape, though he was never comfortable with receiving sole credit for what was, effectively, a team effort. In this Techmoan video, Mat dives into the history of the Compact Cassette, its success, and the failures that preceded it.