Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Tuesday Ramblings

It's been one of those days where I haven't been able to settle to doing any one thing.  A situation reflected in this post: there are myriad things I'd like to cover, but I just can't decide which is most important, or topical.  So, instead I'll just look briefly at a couple of things which have caught my attention today.  Firstly: the poor state of technology reporting these days.  You might have seen media stories today about how Google is supposedly updating its search algorithm to favour 'mobile friendly' sites and how this will result in lots of sites losing all their traffic because they aren't 'mobile friendly'.  I've read such reports both on the BBC news site and in The Guardian today, both taking this 'mobilegeddon' line and written by supposed 'tech experts'.  The only problem is that such reports are wholly inaccurate.  The change only affects Google searches made on mobile devices, which use Google's mobile index.  Desktop searches will be unaffected.  Moreover, 'mobile friendly' is simply one of numerous factors used to rank sites in mobile search results.  You can get all of this from Google's own press releases on the subject.  Which makes me wonder why the media reporting is so inaccurate - it isn't as if the so-called 'tech experts' in the media actually have to do much research on the subject.  To be sure, I don't believe everything Google says publicly and I certainly don't trust them, but in this case, it seems pretty logical that this change will affect only mobile search results.  (I have to say, on the evidence so far, this update appears to have changed absolutely nothing in traffic terms).

The second half of this post has nothing to do with tech: today I read that Robert Rietty (sometimes 'Rietti') had died at the age of 92.  You might not recognise his name but, unless you have never watched TV or gone to the cinema, you will have heard his voice.  Rietty was undoubtedly the greatest voice artist - certainly the most prolific - of the past fifty years or so, frequently re-voicing actors for English language versions of films. or providing non-English speaking actors in English-language films with a voice.  Sometimes he dubbed actors simply because directors, producers or distributors didn't like the actor's real voice.  Sometimes he'd redub actors when there were problems with their recorded soundtrack - if it was inaudible or damaged, for instance.  He was a frequent voice in James Bond movies (he dubbed Italian actor Adolfo Celi in Thunderball, for instance).  Sometimes he'd dub more than one actor in a single film.  Only a couple of weeks ago I was watching the 1974 version of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, where he provided the voices for Celi (again), Gert Frobe, Charles Aznavour and Alberto de Mendoza, effectively talking to himself in several scenes.  Perhaps even more bizarrely, I recall him dubbing Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger from Only Fools and Horses) playing a hitman in an episode of The Professionals. Presumably, Lloyd Pack's real voice wasn't considered suitable for a sinister international hired killer.  Rietty also, on occasion, dubbed well known actors, successfully mimicking their voices.  Orson Welles in the 1972 version of Treasure Island, for instance, allegedly had all of his dialogue redubbed by Rietty, whilst he provided Jack Hawkins (who had lost his voice following treatment for throat cancer) with a voice in 1970's Waterloo, (Charles Grey dubbed Hawkins' voice in several other films from the era).  More often than not, Rietty's work went uncredited, making him an unsung hero of cinema.  He might not have been a superstar, but many movies would certainly have sounded very different without him. 



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