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* Posts by Flocke Kroes

1272 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

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KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer

Flocke Kroes
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Is there any evidence that Wayland is an improvement?

There have been dozens of attempts to replace X11 with something more streamlined, without the network overhead. In the past, these projects have fizzled when the developers discovered the slowness came from the biggest applications that used X. X dates back to 1985, so it had to be efficient to run on the computers of the day. It has been optimised for decades. Wayland developers will have difficulty beating that, and if they do, their hard work will be hidden by every ground sloth application that requires 128GB on a 32 core 8GHz liquid helium cooled gamer's rig to run as fast as an anaesthetised ant.

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Flocke Kroes
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Lies, damned lies and messing with popcon data

A couple of decades ago, about 60% of Linux developers used KDE, and about 60% used Gnome [Note to Windows users - switching to a different desktop environment in Linux usually requires about three mouse clicks, or you can run several at once and change which one controls the display/keyboard/mouse with <CTRL><ALT><Function Key>]. I was curious about what the current figures are, so downloaded some popcon results, which you can see below. Before that, here are some of the reasons why my results are thoroughly bogus:

1) Only machines with Debian installed report to Debian Popcon. I am sure plenty of people use Unity on Ubuntu, but only one Debian Popcon user uses Unity.

2) Popcon is optional. Lots of people do not install it, or they disable it.

3) A Debian package gets a vote if one of its executables is executed in the last month. (Some votes are missed because the executable is on a file system mounted ro or noatime.)

4) I have picked a package as a proxy for desktop environment use. I may not have selected the most appropriate package.

5) Multi-user computers get one vote per environment used, no matter how many users use each environment.

perl-base 152772

xserver-xorg-core 66660

gnome-panel 19654

xfce4-panel 11163

plasma-desktop 8990

openbox 4488

lxde-common 3407

mate-polkit 1884

fluxbox 855

fbi 313

cinnamon 247

ratpoison 105

kdelibs4c2a-trinity 98

unity 1

perl-base got the most votes. It is a proxy for the number of computers reporting to Debian Popcon.

xserver-xorg-core is an attempt to count desktop/laptop machines, missing out servers.

fbi is an attempt to count the number of people using Linux virtual consoles instead of Xorg.

kdelibs4c2a-trinity is Trinity (fork of KDE 3 from before the KDE developers started shitting on their users)

My attempt at getting modern figures shows 29% use Gnome, 17% use XFCE, 13% use KDE (plasma-desktop) and 43% use Xorg without Gnome or KDE. The only conclusions I trust from these figures are that both Gnome and KDE developers are good at driving their users away, but KDE developers are slightly better at it. KDE developers should not win a prize until we can find a way to compare them to TIFKAM developers.

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Russia sends SEX-CRAZED GECKOS to SPAAAAACE!

Flocke Kroes
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Orbital gecko porn studio was fixed yesterday

http://arstechnica.com/science/2014/07/all-systems-go-as-control-restored-to-beleagured-sex-gecko-satellite/

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Don't put that duffel bag full of cash in the hotel room safe

Flocke Kroes
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If everyone has their own number ...

I like to start early and get things done before people arrive and ask for help. On my last day, I had to wait for someone else to arrive because my number had already been deleted. As you would expect, he had forgotten his number because he never had to use it before. There we were with the bungler alarm screaming waiting for someone else to turn up and cancel the alarm. Just on the off-chance, I tried 1066 and the alarm turned off. Given enough people, someone will pick 1066 if they are not allowed to use 1234.

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British cops cuff 660 suspected paedophiles

Flocke Kroes
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It means all videos get a unique id

When a video is identified as child abuse, Google and Microsoft can remove it from any server they control and remove it from search results.

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Running the Gauntlet: Atari's classic ... now and then

Flocke Kroes
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For me, the game changed when someone said ...

"Wizard now has ... extra fart power!"

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Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot

Flocke Kroes
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There has to be a maximum password length ...

... or someone will test the site to see what it does with 1MB passwords.

I thoroughly agree that the maximum length should be printed in large friendly letters near the prompt, preferably with a list of allowed characters. Anyone tried 'パスワード'?

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Flocke Kroes
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@moiety: Try downloading the data sheet for a chip

Some manufacturers require that you create an account before you can download a data sheet. They really need your false name, fictitious address, name of your first pet and the premium rate phone number of your favourite charity. I keep a list of these things handy in case someone else has not already created an account for 'username@example.com' with password 'password'.

There are times when a simple common password is the best choice.

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UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill

Flocke Kroes
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there will be a list

The place to look for it is at www.theyworkforyou.com.

I just searched for "Data Retention and Investigatory Powers bill" and it shows as "upcoming business" for today. Give it a while, and you can find the list of MPs willing to put up some token resistance against the all-powerful GCHQ.

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LOHAN seeks stirring motto for spaceplane mission patch

Flocke Kroes
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A couple of entries in my sig file seem appropriate today

Cogito nimis ergo demens sum.

Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes.

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Flocke Kroes
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Per pigritiam ad planetas

Why does Google translate always pick one of the other meanings of a word when I translate back to English to check?

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Adobe Flash: The most INSECURE program on a UK user's PC

Flocke Kroes
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Flash on Linux

There is a free software implementation called gnash, so Linux users are not dependent on Adobe.

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That AMAZING Windows comeback: Wow – 0.5% growth in 2015

Flocke Kroes
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How to prefer XP to 7/8

XP machines were competitively priced. Wiping of XP and installing Debian is easy. Show me a modern Windows box for under £100 (excluding monitor, keyboard and mouse) that I can conveniently wipe and install Debian on.

Microsoft's insistence on 'secure' boot convinced me to keep old X86 hardware going until low priced ARM became fast enough. My last ex-XP machine will be retired next week and replaced by a faster 4 core 1GHz (Fanless!) A9 ARM (That is were the £100 price point came from).

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Gartner

I thought Gartner predictions were for sale, and if you didn't buy, they would predict growth for your biggest competitor at your expense.

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MPAA, meet the Streisand effect: Picture ass. slaps Reddit with takedown

Flocke Kroes
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Viral advertising

Some people will never pay for films, so advertising links to torrents causes no loss of revenue from them. Some people like to try before they buy, so Streisanding this corner of reddit increases revenue.

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Google adds 'data protection' WARNING to Euro search results

Flocke Kroes
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Just tried it

If I ask for google.com, I get redirected to google.co.uk. To go to google.com, I have to click on the link to it at the bottom of the google.co.uk page. For all I know, Google has worked liked this for ages. Anyone know for sure when this started?

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Ofcom to BT Openreach: From now on, you'd better kill 70% of gremlins within 2 days

Flocke Kroes
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Do they still charge for technical support calls?

Excellent revenue stream. 45 minutes minutes of dull music waiting for someone to answer the phone and tell me to call the other number. 45 more minutes waiting for someone to tell me to try the first number again. So Ofcom say they can only keep this up for two days. What is to stop them fixing the problem, waiting a day then breaking it again?

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Freeze, Glasshole! Stop spying on me at the ATM

Flocke Kroes
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I prefer the infra-red camera trick

After the victim has typed the PIN and taken away the hand used to hide what he was typing, take an infrared photo. The most recent key pressed glows brightest.

pic

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David Cameron wants mobe network roaming INSIDE the UK

Flocke Kroes
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Solved this last millennium

Get a channel islands SIM.

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If Google remembers whom it has forgotten, has it complied with the ECJ judgment?

Flocke Kroes
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Getting into orbit does not protect Google

If a government wants to fine orbital Google, they can add a Google tax on Earthlings who buy adverts.

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Google slings SSD persistent disks at huge 'n' hungry servers

Flocke Kroes
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Encrypted?

Why bother when Google have the key?

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Satellite 'net hype ignores realpolitik

Flocke Kroes
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Practise thinking evil

I am sure GCHQ will provide Google with a base stations all over the world.

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Latest casualties of Iraq fighting: Facebook and Twitter

Flocke Kroes
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If they are blocking porn sites...

It must mean the rebels are using porn sites to communicate. Clearly people at GCHQ should spend all their time at work looking at porn so they can decode these secret communications.

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Google in talks to nail Virgin as 'partner' in satellite internet plan

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Why?

The space plane launched from the big double plane is useless for satellites, but plan was that the big double plane could also carry a two-stage rocket. That rocket would take about 200kg of payload to LEO. The idea is sane, but I have very little idea how much progress Virgin have made with it.

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BOFH: On the contrary, we LOVE rebranding here at the IT dept

Flocke Kroes
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Signs on the reserved parking spaces:

Business Unit Manager

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207 thousand lights-out boxes are STILL hackable

Flocke Kroes
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Re: Maybe more wiring-related than protocol-related

The turnip-brained idea was that IPMI could share the only ethernet connector on the motherboard with the internet connection to save money and reduce the number of cables. Add to that the fact that you are dependent on the vendor for security updates and you can see the disaster train accelerating hard towards the cliff. It could have been worse... Imagine what would happen if firmware upgrades required a digital signature from the vendor.

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Google's URL-hiding 'origin chip' is 'backburnered'

Flocke Kroes
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Another possibility:

Something like

http::uk.co.theregister.forums/forum/1/2014/06/11/googles_urlhiding_origin_chip_is_backburnered/

It will never catch on because current fashion in user interface design is to remove every choice on the grounds that they confuse the users. By 2084, computers will show a continuous stream of targeted ads and have no controls at all - not even an off switch.

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Mobe-orists, beware: Stroking while driving could land you a £4k fine

Flocke Kroes
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The proposed lack of legal aid concerns me

The state would hire a qualified prosecutor. The clerk of the court has a legal qualification, but he cannot help as the magistrate is in charge and he does not require any proper qualifications at all. Much as I dislike the idea of my taxes going to pay for legal aid for some phone fondling driver, I would really hate to be in front of a magistrate with no barrister even though I do not even own a mobile phone.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: GPS?

I am sufficiently tall that I have to scrunch down to see the road ahead. Even then, a quarter of the windscreen gives me an excellent view of the bonnet. The GPS talks to me, so I have no reason to look at it while driving. The reason why I want it under the windscreen is so it gets a good signal from the satellites. The GPS does not talk to me about signal strength. For that, I would have to look at it. What wonderful laws we have.

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UK govt preps World War 2 energy rationing to keep the lights on

Flocke Kroes
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What to do with the waste

The Juno space probe to Jupiter is solar powered because of a shortage of nuclear waste.

One person's life time's lifetime supply of long term nuclear waste if using 100% nuclear power fits in a dinner plate.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could reprocess nuclear waste into fuel. (The terrorist threat in the link is a bit silly as there is a much bigger target in northern France that would cause the UK plenty of problems and calling Tony Blair pro-nuclear would have made me laugh out loud, but I am too busy paying for his windmills).

It would also be handy if we could build proper storage facilities.

There are plans to use the high neutron flux from fusion reactors to convert long term nuclear waste into short term nuclear waste that can be used to generate power. I am sure if such plans get close to construction the windmill lobby will make it illegal.

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Flocke Kroes
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@jason 7

Any 'competent' politician can tell you what you want to hear. Try to going to some tree-hugger event where this councillor is due to speak, and see if he sings a different tune.

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Flocke Kroes
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Dinorwig

Dinorwig does an excellent job of running kettles when the adverts come on. According to the wind lobby, if the wind isn't blowing in the UK, it is blowing somewhere else in Europe. According to weather records there are 3 to 5 days each winter when the whole of Europe has no wind. Pumped storage on that scale is insane (even more insane when it is unused 97% of the time). Take a look at the maps in sustainable energy without hot air. The book gives you the equations to calculate how much energy is used for different tasks, so you can pick places where economies can be made. It also gives you ways to calculate costs of energy production - including land (or sea) use. You can make your own energy policy and see how much of Scotland and Wales has to become pumped storage for wind powered UK. I like the big blotches in Libya for solar powered UK (have fun paying for a power cord - or putting even bigger blotches here).

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One EURO PATENT COURT ruling for all from 'early 2015'

Flocke Kroes
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We have had software patents for decades

They have been invalid for as long as they have existed, but plenty of EU patents offices will issue invalid software patents if you call them 'computer implemented inventions'. They are an expensive nuisance to defend against as some judges do not recognise unpatentable subjects even when the patents have the marker phrase 'computer implemented invention' all over them.

The plan was to take patent disputes away from the regional courts and have European patent court staffed with clerks and judges who were all patent professionals who would never find a patent invalid, no matter how obvious, old or mathematical. By the looks of it, the new plan is to keep disputes in regional courts. I am surprised that appeals are not automatic, as they fund holiday homes for patent lawyers.

Whenever I hear the word 'protection' in the same phrase as 'patent' I think of one of Edison's thugs with a baseball bat giving we the chance to pay for some 'protection', or something might 'happen' to my business. The only way it could get more silly would be if trolls got their own tax exemption... too late, already happened.

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Google to let Chromebookers take video content OFFLINE

Flocke Kroes
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Excellent

If future, ChromeDebianbooks will have plenty of internal flash.

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Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss

Flocke Kroes
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A new 80% tax on the rich would be a complete waste of time

They would just avoid it like they avoid the current taxes.

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VROOM! Intel revs Devil's Canyon monster 4x4 at 4GHz

Flocke Kroes
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Re: 16 lanes doesn't cut it

LGA 115[650] sockets only have enough contacts for 20 PCIe lanes (16 graphics, 4 everything else). That keeps the price down, and it is enough for a hefty chunk of the market. There are two obvious explanations for the lack of say LGA1600 with 30 PCIe lanes. Pick one:

A) Economies of scale: Dividing the market into two (LGA1150/LGA2011) reduced economies of scale. Dividing into three would reduce those economies still further, and increase prices for all except for people who want (fictional)LGA1600 but do not want to pay for LGA2011.

B) Segmentation. Although there are people who need a little over 20 lanes, the lack of an intermediate product forces those customers to pay for 40 lanes and a bunch of other features they will never use.

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Microsoft's NEW OS now runs on HALF of ALL desktop PCs

Flocke Kroes
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Netmarketshare's site selection really shows up on mobile

They gave iOS 48%

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FORGET OUR PAST, 12,000 Europeans implore Google

Flocke Kroes
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Has anyone done the slightest bit of thinking here?

Please send me proof of identity and a list of the most embarrassing web pages about you.

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Congressman pitches bill to disarm FCC in net neutrality warfare

Flocke Kroes
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Using a monopoly in one field to get a monopoly in another ...

... is supposed to be illegal.

With a two tier system, Netflix can either become Ne..t...fli........x.... or pay over all its profits until it becomes Telcoflix. Each profitable internet company in turn will be eaten by the Telcos. Whenever they get the full set of companies in one field, watch the prices soar and the service become intermittent and user hostile.

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Still watching DVDs? You're a PLANET-KILLING CARBON HOG!

Flocke Kroes
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Worth checking the source

The Register's link was broken, but after a few web searches I found the article.

The little picture in the Register's article compares 3.28 hours of streaming with 17.28 hours of DVD (50% mail delivered, 50% consumer delivered). That 50/50 split was a guess because the authors did not have any better numbers. The full sized oranges to oranges picture with separate columns for mail and consumer delivery is here.

By the study's numbers, streaming is only more environmentally friendly when consumer transport is included. Mail delivery is about as environmentally (un)friendly as streaming. If you use consumer delivery, you can divide the big pink rectangle if you watch a rental more than once, or if you rent more than one film per journey (I think the study assumes pick up and drop off in the same round trip journey of 17km). You can also squash or remove the pink box if you went to town for other reasons and bought more than one DVD while you were there. The idea of buying a boxed set of six for a TV series has been conveniently forgotten.

The next biggest box is consumer equipment power. Old DVD players use the same amount of power when idle and when playing, and these make up a significant fraction of the 2011 US population. If I buy a second hand DVD player and leave it on continuously, then for every Joule it uses, 0.99 Joules are not used for central heating (the house is too hot for about 4 days per year). The same would be true of a streaming box, but in the study, streaming boxes use about half the energy of DVD players.

This leaves streaming with a great big green box for network transport energy that make it tower over the tiny grey and yellow boxes. Much of the big green box would be there anyway for an internet connection whether you use streaming or not. (The invisible brown sliver for mail delivery would still be there because the post lady delivers letters too.) The only box that survives is the grey box for the embodied energy (manufacturing costs) of the consumer devices. This is about the same for streaming and DVD.

The real conclusion should be: don't waste time worrying about the tiny speck of energy used by video. Concentrate of the things that matter: transport, central heating/cooling, and washing. Little things like switching to an efficient fridge and fluorescent lighting save you money, but even if everybody does those little things, then end result is a little change in the total amount of power used.

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Readers' choice: What every small-business sysadmin needs

Flocke Kroes
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IANAL

Apparently you can write such e-mails yourself as no-one will check.

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Watch: Kids slam Apple as 'BORING, the whole thing is BORING'

Flocke Kroes
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How things have changed

According to the subtitles, the Apple Lisa was the first (1983) personal computer with a GUI.

They were sued by Xerox for copying the look and feel of the Xerox Star (1981). Xerox lost - because you cannot own look and feel. Later Apple sued Microsoft for copying look at feel, and lost (Microsoft referred to the Xerox vs Apple decision). Thirtyish years later, we can see how things have changed: a rectangle with rounded corners, four rows of icons, glass to the edge of the device and the colour black.

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Ditching renewables will punch Aussies in the wallet – Bloomberg

Flocke Kroes
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If renewables can compete on price ...

... why are we subsidising them?

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Privacy International probes GCHQ's mouse fetish

Flocke Kroes
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Numbers printed on chips tell you what the number printed on the chip is

Fly over to Shenzen and tell people you are desperate for a thousand of a certain type of chip. The locals can find some obsolete kit with a part the right shape, unsolder those parts, clean them up, grind off the serial numbers and print on the right ones all ready for next day delivery.

It is a bit of a challenge to do anything with an inverter, but a USB keyboard or track pad chip is far too easy. Instead of the chip you were expecting, an over-funded bunch of spies can order a die stack with a USB hub, the keyboard controller, a USB flash controller and a flash chip. Even if the target OS does not automatically install any malware called 'AUTOEXEC.BAT', it probably 'trusts' that the file system does not have maliciously selected meta-data in unexpected locations. You can buy off-the-shelf rooting dongles that use such tricks to copy a victim's hard disk. Destroying the keyboard controller and track controller is - for most people - a bit paranoid, but not actually insane.

The strange thing is why did GCHQ send a couple of bored flunkies over to watch a Guardian employee destroy bits of one random computer. GCHQ and the NSA have demonstrated they can flout any inconvenient law with impunity. What does it matter if the whole world knows they are a bunch of criminals when the only courts they might ever be summoned to will preside in secret, not see any real evidence and rubber stamp them 'not guilty'. John le Carré came up with and excellent explanation for why spies' actions often make no sense:

If you have to choose between conspiracy or cock-up, my instinct is to go for the cock-up every time.

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Scientists capture DEATH STAR in VIOLENT EXPLOSION

Flocke Kroes
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Practical Supernova

Betelgeuse will go bang any time in the next million years. About 620 years later, neutrino detectors will warn us something is going on. For about a month, Betelgeuse will be as bright as the full moon. 100,000 years later, 21ˢᵗ century space ships will be grounded because of the high proton radiation.

IK Pegasi is only 150 light years away, but by the time it goes bang it will be too far away to cause fear an panic on Earth.

For a 'practical' supernova, we are looking for a star within 30 light years when it goes bang. There could be some we haven't noticed yet, but you might have to wait anything up to 250 million years for supernova research to be practical for Earthlings. Humans would only be affected if someone makes a few to inhabit the future equivalent of Jurassic Park.

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More chance you came a cropper on a UK road than bought a Chromebook this year

Flocke Kroes
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Another hand up

I bought early when it was exclusively at Amazon and PCWorld. I should have brought a camera. It was clearly the salesman's first Chromebook sale. You should have seen his face when his computer told him he could not sell me Microsoft Office, Expensive Antivirus and whatever else would get him a decent commission. Sales through Amazon made some sense, but I could not see why PCWorld wanted the product at all. Perhaps they wanted to create a sales team dedicated to selling anything else.

I wanted an ssh client/X server that was so cheap I would not care much if it got stolen. Wiping off Chrome and installing Debian did the job.

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Kaspersky warns of IMPOSTER mobile security apps

Flocke Kroes
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Never underestimate the contents of /usr/share/dict/british-english-insane

An imposter is someone who determines customs duties on imports. Brent gets a point for 'thayt', which is so obscure that even british-english-insane does not have it. Perhaps he had difficulty typing þæt.

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Apple, Google: WE SURRENDER ... to each other in patent war truce

Flocke Kroes
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Didn't link to those later stories

Here is a handy trick Apple used to play, but cannot do now that their unit sales are a smaller proportion of the market. Revenue is a massively important figure, but not the only one.

I do not have handy figures for market share by revenue, but I will take your word for it that Apple are not falling behind by that metric. If you want to draw a distinction between smart phones used as smart phones and smart phones used as feature phones then fine, but see what happens if you don't. Apple's share of the money from smart phone (any usage) sales is increasing (or at least not falling) despite their falling market share by unit (any usage) sales. For that to happen, (iPhone price)/(Otherphone price) must be increasing. I agree that one of the reasons developers like iPhone is because iPhone users are better at spending money than Android users. Imagine what happens when iPhone users discover they can have the same smartness from a cheaper source. Some of them will stick with Apple as a status symbol, but plenty will go elsewhere. Apple considered this such a threat to their revenue stream that the sued Samsung and Googorola all over the world.

We disagree about whether Apple is seeking a smart phone tax or "simply that other phones not use it's patented (and non essential) features". Lets take a look at those features. I know it is not (just) a rectangle with rounded corners. There is also glass to the edge of the device, four rows of icons and the colour black. By all means, link to some court filings describing features Apple invented and prove Apple is not seeking a smart phone tax.

Apple have money and brains. They are perfectly capable of using those asserts to remain a dominant force for decades. They can also use those brains to move the money sideways to their own pockets without paying dividends to their investors. I see the new giant HQ, the global thermonuclear litigation and the PR cost of maintaining the reality distortion field as evidence of the latter, but they should be able to do both at once.

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Flocke Kroes
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Please link to those later stories

Has Judge Birss printed apologies in the newspapers for his ruling against Apple?

Perhaps you have Q2 2014 sales figures showing Apple's market share has gone back over 20%?

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So you reckon Nokia-wielding Microsoft can't beat off Apple?

Flocke Kroes
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Analysis missed the elephant

Nokia used to have the highest market share - double the second place player (Apple) and four times the third place player (Samsung). Elop set fire to that achievement with his burning platforms memo. He dissed the existing products (a classic Ratner), and promised that the next generation would be spectacular (a real Osbourne).

That move alone would have only gutted Nokia. The thorough nuking was done later by Ballmer when he purchased Skype. Purchasing Skype coincided with a sudden increase in the rate at which Nokia lost market share. The carriers lothe Skype. They hated Skype on Android because it took away call revenues. They only good thing the carriers saw in Skype was its financial problems could easily have caused it to implode. Then Microsoft stepped in with the money to keep Skype going indefinitely.

Skype carries 34% of international calls. The only way Microsoft could get the carriers to take their phones would be to leak a memo saying that Skype will be discontinued because it is a burning platform and Skype 2 will be really great when it is ready in 2016.

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