For All Mankind season 2

A full trailer for For All Mankind Season 2 has been published. Looks as if the rest of the world is set to watch the Cold War playing out a quarter of a million miles away.

Given where season 1 left off this was probably always going to be the sort of storyline they gave us in season 2, but I hope that we’ll look back on this in later seasons1 as the difficult transitional season that we had to get through to get to the real story.2

[Via Geektown]

  1. Yes, this assumes that the show gets several more seasons but let’s be optimistic here. In theory Apple have the money to fund this for as long as the story needs, but how long the producers get for this show on this streaming platform is another question entirely. 
  2. Interesting to see that the IMDB cast information for the episodes – which admittedly, is pretty thin once you get beyond season 2 episode 1 – doesn’t list returning cast members like Joel Kinnaman or Jodi Balfour past that first episode. Nothing against the returning cast members, but wouldn’t it be interesting to see the story transitioning to a different main cast by the end. Against that, some returning actors we see or hear from in the new season’s trailer don’t even appear listed against season 2 episode 1 so it may just be that the IMDB’s list is, to put it mildly, a work in progress. 


I’d completely missed that earlier this year Paul Cornell wrote a couple of short followups to the Human Nature/The Family of Blood two-parter from back in the day.

Interesting to see the difference a couple of regenerations made to the Doctor’s attitude to a defeated foe.

(Context, for the weak.)

[Via Cultbox]

COBOL (still) rules

Clive Thompson on the stranglehold that COBOL code has on the older/bigger end of the finance business:

In fact, these days, when the phone rings in the house [retired COBOL wizard] Thomas retired to — in a small town outside of Toronto — it will occasionally be someone from the bank. Hey, they’ll say,_ can you, uh, help… update your code? Maybe add some new features to it?_Because, as it turns out, the bank no longer employs anyone who understands COBOL as well as Thomas does, who can dive in and tweak it to perform a new task. Nearly all the COBOL veterans, the punch-card jockeys who built the bank’s crucial systems way back when, who know COBOL inside and out — they’ve retired. They’ve left the building, just like Thomas. And few young coders have any interest in learning a dusty, 50-year-old computer language. They’re much more excited by buzzier new fields, like Toronto’s booming artificial-intelligence scene. They’re learning fresh new coding languages.

It seems amazing that this situation has dragged on this long. Is it just that the small number of coders who understand COBOL code well enough to step in when banks absolutely need to tweak their COBOL codebase are making out like bandits because they can demand vast rewards for their services from an industry that didn’t understand it was creating this situation and is now willing, if it must, to pay top dollar when it must keep basic functionality running at scale? Or is it more that when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of balancing the books banks feel little pressure to rip out the plumbing and rebuild their systems so there’s really much less demand for changes to existing COBOL codebases than you’d expect?

[Via Ongoing]

Evil geniuses

Contemplating the new year, I was just thinking that it was about time I pruned the list of streaming media services I’m subscribed to.1 I hadn’t watched a show on NowTV regularly since I drifted away from Lovecraft Country halfway through the season, I thought. I meant to quit NowTV once Game of Thrones finished, I thought to myself, but I didn’t. Then I got sucked into the Nolan/Joy reboot of Westworld so I let the NowTV subscription live. More recently, NowTV brought me both Succession and an opportunity to see a show I couldn’t see when it was originally broadcast, The Newsroom2, so again that kept me paying them that monthly fee for a while.

Let me just take a quick look in case there’s anything popped up recently that I’ve missed, I thought. And then I found that since last I looked they’re now showing Fringe, a show that I couldn’t watch at the time but which I’ve always wanted to catch up on, what with it having an excellent reputation as an X Files substitute.


So, NowTV is safe for however long it takes me to work my way through Fringe, and I have further evidence that I am a weak-willed puppet of a massive media giant.

One day HBO are going to take the UK market seriously instead of letting NowTV have first refusal on UK streaming rights to most of their dramatic content, and I suspect I’ll be adding another media streaming service to my subscription list.3

  1. I’m not kidding myself that this was a New Year Resolution, because I know from long experience that, for me, those don’t stick. I was just sitting here contemplating a day off work and how best I could use it. 
  2. I know Aaron Sorkin’s show got a terrible reception and it probably deserved much of it, but it also had enough of the good stuff that it was worth a look, IMHO. Looked back on towards the end of the Trump era, we should all be a bit less certain that a bunch of well-meaning white liberal men can be counted on to fix the world’s problems (indeed, we can be pretty certain that they can’t) but that’s a topic for a different post. This post is about how NowTV keep pulling me back in every time I’m tempted to drop my subscription, so let’s stay on-topic. 
  3. Of course, I recognise that another way of looking at it, one that NowTV’s current owners might endorse, is that NowTV have built a business over the years based on their knowing what UK customers of a certain age and type want and giving it to them. Yeah, I could believe that. Not sure I do. 
, 1 January 2021. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .


Reading stories about Amazon omitting order details in emails, apparently in order to stop other suppliers from scraping the email content, a few months ago I wondered:

The mystery isn’t about why Amazon are doing this: I’m just wondering why I seem to have missed out?

Yesterday I placed my first Amazon UK order in ages requiring delivery of physical goods and my order confirmation email contained a truncated version of my order, just like everyone else has apparently been getting for a while now.

I feel seen.1

  1. OK, seen by a vast, dispassionate, automated commercial enterprise that simply wants as much of my disposable income as possible to pass through Amazon’s systems and doesn’t know or care whether what I’m buying is making my life better, but still… 

Coming soon

Note to readers: do not, under any circumstances, be consuming drinks while you read this tweet.

There I was casually sipping a Diet Coke and scrolling through my Twitter feed, and then my brain processed the content of that message. Cue rapid exhalation of the Coke – much of it through my nose – followed by fifteen minutes of hysterical giggling while trying to remember to breathe occasionally at the notion of Ewan McGregor returning to the Star Wars universe to play "ponytail Derek."

US Space Force

Slacktivist, on the branding for the US’s Space Force:

I don’t know who came up with this stuff, but these are not the people I want representing the rest of us at First Contact.

I realise this isn’t going to be anywhere remotely near the top of the Biden administration’s list of Trump-era decisions that need fixing, but someone really needs to have another go at this before it gets a chance to get entrenched in the public mind as the name of that branch of the US military.

, 24 December 2020. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: , .


Further to this earlier post about how Microsoft planned to have Microsoft 365 track user productivity, Microsoft issued a graceful apology, very likely delivered through gritted teeth for that feature that someone sneaked into the software they were planning on selling to businesses everywhere they could:

Jeffrey Snover, a veteran Microsoft engineer and CTO of the company’s “modern workforce transformation” unit, praised the change and thanked Wolfie Christl, the Austrian privacy activist who first raised alarm about the feature, for the feedback.

“The thing I love most about Microsoft is that when we screw up, we acknowledge the error and fix it,” Snover tweeted. “10,000 thanks to Wolfie Christl and others for the feedback which led to this change!”

Shameless. Quite shameless. Be interesting to see what portions of that functionality remain even after this.

[Via Michael Tsai]

, 17 December 2020. Category: Uncategorized. Tagged: .