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* Posts by Flocke Kroes

1338 posts • joined 19 Oct 2007

Red supergiant Betelgeuse heads for SMACKDOWN with 'dust bar'

Flocke Kroes
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Straw that will break the cammel's back

Betelgeuse was expected to go supernova within a million years before we saw the dust cloud.

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Raytheon to build low-orbit, disposable satellites for DARPA

Flocke Kroes
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SEEME

Space Extra Expensive for Military Engagements

Spy satelites - looking for the next war to justify their existence.

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Another new asteroid-mining firm: 'First commercial space fleet'

Flocke Kroes
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Re: JMC

Wouldn't you rather contract out to Weyland Yutani?

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Microsoft's ARM blunder: 7 reasons why Windows RT was DOA

Flocke Kroes
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BHP's measure ability in dollars

If you only charge 1%, that is how much your opinion would count. To get listened to, you need to charge double.

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LIVE TODAY: Windows 8 licensing - Speak your brains, believe your eyes

Flocke Kroes
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Serious question

Does using a licensed copy of Windows 8 permit FACT to do a software license audit raid on your home and office?

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Brits' privates furtled in TWO-THIRDS of UK fraud cases

Flocke Kroes
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Businesses have to prove their identity to customers too

I kind lady with an Indian accent phone me and asked the same questions my bank asks to confirm my identity. She was unable to demonstrate the she worked for a company I had recently purchased from. When I called that company, they had no way to confirm my identity now that I was confident I was talking to the right person.

Which slug brained nitwit selected this easily exploitable procedure?

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Lenovo offers Chrome OS ThinkPad for well-heeled schools

Flocke Kroes
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The bigger story

A major Microsoft customer is openly selling a laptop without Microsoft tax. A year ago, a laptop manufacturer might have shown (and withdrawn) a theoretical Linux box to negotiate a better price for Windows. Here is an actual product for sale (to schools and universities placing large orders). That is a hefty dent in Microsoft's control of OEMs. I thought news like this was still years away. I would like to say a big thankyou to everyone at Microsoft who contributed to the user interface design for Windows 8. Their determined efforts have brought a choice of operating systems a big step closer to customers.

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Big spike in Euro patents - but 63% were filed from outside Europe

Flocke Kroes
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Filing patents has nothing to do with innovation

Patents are for established companies who want stop block competition so they can scrap their R&D department and for trolls.

Good news everybody - the government has given us the patent box scheme: Tax cuts for patent trolls. Now all we need is a new Texas style court for resolving all patent disputes by fining the innovators into bankruptcy.

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Scientists spin carbon nanotube threads on industrial scale

Flocke Kroes
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Full circle

Power the CO2 to nanotube conversion with shale gas. That would provide an overabundance of concentrated source material. The atmosphere is only 0.035% CO2 and the concentration step requires energy.

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Why mergers LOSE money, but are GOOD for the economy

Flocke Kroes
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Modern solution: Slow and violent death

When a company is clearly doomed, the modern thing to do is sue everybody for patent infringement. While the company's products were selling, cross-licensing was the sensible choice to avoid an injunction. As soon as an injunction is not a threat it is time to sue suppliers, partners, customers and anyone else who might have money.

The other tell-tale signs of an immanent self destruction are getting your products mandated by governments and whining that the new companies eating your lunch are breaking all the rules you used to break.

The old law about mandatory archery practice was to ensure continued sales of bows despite competition from arquebuses. The modern equivalent would be to get the government to buy an extra licence for all the pre-installed software on computers used in schools even if the schools are buying Pi's.

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New tool jailbreaks Microsoft Surface slabs in 20 SECONDS

Flocke Kroes
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Re: @Zaphod

Time taken to hack also depends on the competition: there is plenty of other kit that is just as good, cheaper and does not require any serious effort to get root access. I do not expect to see good surface hacks until after the tablet sells at fire sale prices.

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Nokia decrypts browser traffic, assures public not to worry

Flocke Kroes
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Re: none of the traffic is visible to any of its staff

I assume that means many non-staff members have full access to the traffic but staff members have to use a text to speech converter.

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Hey Lenovo, want to kill Apple? Look to Samsung hitman for tips

Flocke Kroes
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Segmentation and bundling

A high res-screen is a must-have feature for a certain segment of the market. That means manufacturers will bundle it with the most expensive pointless features they can find. The easiest way to bump the price is to insert an Intel CPU fast enough to do real time atomic bomb simulations with a leaf blower for cooling.

If you want high resolution is silence, buy something cheap and replace the LCD panel. That way you do not even suffer from a glossy screen.

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Flocke Kroes
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citation provided

http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/.a/6a00e0097e337c8833017d3f784e63970c-pi

(The final quarter is an estimate - ignore it if you agree with Mr Clarke or believe it if you agree with AC.)

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Segway daddy unveils DIY weight-loss stomach pump

Flocke Kroes
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Some people enjoy food more than exercise

Give them Baron Harkonnen's suspensor belt.

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Google to scan Chrome extensions, bans auto-install

Flocke Kroes
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What could Google get from being evil that they do not have already?

I bet 80% of the passwords for Google stuff are also used for online banking.

(Chrome is not for me, but that is because I am a Penguin with a huge choice of browsers.)

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Vatican shrugs off apocalypse, fiddles with accounts dept

Flocke Kroes
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You mean 292279025167 years

time_t is a signed 64 bit integer on a modern CPU, but we might switch to 128 bits before then.

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Google given a month to wriggle out of Euro antitrust smackdown

Flocke Kroes
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One thing Google could do ...

.. is to put the whiners' sites top of the list for a month for relevant searches. The sites will fall over because they cannot take the traffic. If the whiners do not upgrade their hardware, no-one will look at their sites again. If they do get their sites back up, no-one will look at them again because they are useless. The reason these sites are so low in the ranking is because they are crap. Putting them in the top ten will not fix that.

I use wakipedia for searches that I expect wakipedia to do well on. I started doing this because wakipedia was often the top result, and had the information I wanted. Next choice is duckduckgo - I would give them 9/10. I rate Google 9.9/10, but they are third choice because I like to support competition. I tried Bing for a laugh. I am a dyed in the wool Penguin, so their thoroughly Microsoft biased results are mostly useless to me.

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AFACT wants ushers to confront pirates

Flocke Kroes
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If fimlming in cinemas is such a problem ...

... they should sell DVDs.

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Shh! Proxima Centauri can hear us!

Flocke Kroes
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Take me to your ... Pope.

Transmitters getting smaller. The trend is towards a larger number of smaller transmitters.

There are plenty of numbers for radio transmitter power all over the internet. Most do not explain if they are quoting the power output of the electronics or the power that would be required to get the same signal strength from an omnidirectional antenna as is transmitted in the preferred direction of the installed directional antenna. Digital switch over in the UK reduced the power output by a factor of about 10. There were some really big short wave transmitters intended to bounce signals off the ionosphere. The Russians found that over about 1.25MW, the signal punched a hole through the ionosphere and went on into space instead.

The largest omnidirectional transmitter I could find (probably) still operating was Vatican Radio at 500MW (I could easily be very wrong. Health issues make Vatican Radio a prominent topic on the internet). I really hope that Vatican Radio is not the clearest signal sent from Earth.

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GRAIL orbiters make DEATH DIVE into lunar mountain

Flocke Kroes
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First Females in space took off in 1946

Some fruit flies went up in a V2. Mice have gone into space in Aerobee rockets, but I cannot find names or sexes for them until 1952: Mildred and Albert rode a rocket with two Phillipine monkeys named Patricia and Mike. Laika did not orbit until 1957, but rocket dogs Dezik and Tsygan made sub-orbital flights in 1951.

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Analyst offers cut-price fondleslab recipe

Flocke Kroes
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Small Cheap Computer^W Tablet

OEMs won't make small cheap computers because they would cut into sales of expensive computers. By all means tell them that expensive computers are not selling and watch them stuff their fingers in their ears and shout la-la-la. Why does this analyst think it will be any different with tablets? Surface 2 is on the way, and I will be shocked if it is only twice the price of an Android.

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GlobalFoundries CEO: Europe must 'wake up' and help industry

Flocke Kroes
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Could be worse

Imagine how bad it would have been if the European Commission had continued to focused their attention on manufacturing.

Last time, we had the DRAM tax - a tax on DRAM not manufactured in the EU. Everyone in Europe suffered from high DRAM prices. The foundaries still closed. The was a lucrative market in 'second hand simms' - anything that looked like a memory module was marked as defective and shipped to the far east so it could be 'replaced' under guaranty without incurring import tax.

Whatever the government does, sane people hope they do it to someone else.

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File-sharing mom begs US Supremes to void bloated RIAA fine

Flocke Kroes
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Part of a swarm

If 1000 people use p2p to take a track, the RIAA can fine one for distributing 999 copies, then fine the next for distributing 999 copies and so on until they get paid for 999,000 copies when only 1000 were distributed. I could understand fining Jammie Thomas-Rasset for her part in the unauthorised distribution, but not for the actions of the entire swarm.

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Microsoft's Steve Ballmer named 'most improved tech CEO'

Flocke Kroes
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Easy way to improve

Fire 10% of the people who disapprove, promise to fire more next year if the rating do not improve and order some new chairs.

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Goldman Sachs: Windows' true market share is just 20%

Flocke Kroes
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Exhibit 1

In 2004, Other had 0% of the market, but in 2005, other had 29%. Who is 'Other', and how did they achieve more than Apple (5% to 21%) without hitting the news?

I could not find a new product that would explain Apple's leap in market share. The events I did find were Ubuntu's first release (October 2004) and Apple showing a profit - see the second graph at:

http://royal.pingdom.com/2010/04/09/the-money-made-by-microsoft-apple-and-google-1985-until-today/

Janet I. Tu asked a similar question, and got an answer:

http://seattletimes.com/html/microsoftpri0/2019853243_goldman_sachs_microsoft_os_has_gone_from_more_than.html

[Update 12:58 p.m.: I asked Goldman Sachs about what happened in the 2004-2005 time frame -- as seen in the above chart -- that made Apple's vendor share jump, Microsoft's share plummet and the "other" category to go from zero to 29 percent. Goldman Sachs replied that it has to do with more mainstream adoption of non-PC consumer computing devices but declined to elaborate beyond that.]

What were these non-PC consumer computing devices? The obvious candidates are mobile phones, TV, GPS, routers and NAS (OLPC and the small cheap computer came later). I cannot find products that explain the harsh jump. What would make a difference is perception: the devices were there already, but in 2005 IDC and Goldman Sachs put them in the same category as PC's. That still does not explain why it did not hit the news back then. I have tried to find similar graphs that were made at the time, but found nothing obvious.

The only guess I can make fit is that IDC/Goldman Sachs put other devices in with PCs recently, but only had good figures for other devices from 2005 onwards. The big changes on this graph are not sudden massive consumer revolts. They are IDC/Goldman Sachs deciding to publish a different perspective. I think this says far more about IDC/Goldman Sachs than consumers.

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Flocke Kroes
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Re: Ms hate

Software patents (not the only bad actor).

Secure boot (Luckily there are alternatives).

Dictating laptop specifications to OEMs (OEMs share some blame for temporarily blocking small cheap computers).

Damaging ISO badly enough to get OOXML approved as a 'standard'.

Anti-trust being 'over' is a strange idea. In the US, Microsoft got the judge changed, and liked the new sentence so much that they asked for (and got) more time to think up some extra punishments. In the EU, we got a browser choice screen and media player sold separately, but the price of IE still included in the price of the computer even if you never wanted it. The only things antitrust has achieved are some fines that provided extra tax revenue and active directory support in Samba (I use NFS).

Much of what irks me about Microsoft are actions in the past that still affect the present. What they are doing now is backfiring as much as it is peeving. I used to buy Windows laptops, wipe out Windows and install Linux. That means I am counted as part of the Microsoft market share. Thanks to secure boot, that is no longer true. OEMs are still clinging to the hope that I will buy a £599 laptop, but small cheap computers are out there from other sources, and the OEMs know they can either join the party or sulk alone.

Microsoft's death throws are going to be with us for a few more years, and they will involve patents and ever more desperate attempts to keep OOXML relevant. Microsoft are firmly on the path to being a legacy OS. Even the games makers are jumping ship. Watch the market share fall and the prices rise as the development costs are divided by a smaller customer base. Next up: Intel admit too late that they have to compete on price, but won't have the market share to sell a cheap profitable x86.

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Revealed: ITU's deep packet snooping standard leaks online

Flocke Kroes
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Do not need DPI to detect malicous content

http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3514.txt

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Adobe demands 7,000 years a day from humankind

Flocke Kroes
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I do read the terms and conditions

BSD is really short. GPL V2 is clear and simple. GPL V3 is longer and more complicated, but those three cover the vast majority of software I install. Years ago, clicking on a document activated a network install of Microsoft Office. I decided I was not authorised to agree to the terms on behalf of my employer, so I clicked the "Disagree" option. It installed and worked fine.

If you want some really good terms and conditions, try a porn site. If you accidently subscribe twice, you get charged double. To stop this can call the premium rate number and listen to the prerecorded message. I assume the message says something like "We got your money and we are keeping it". To unsubscribe, fill in the web form and wait for instructions to arrive by email. They should arrive within a decade.

The first place to look in a contract is how to end it. If that bit is missing or complicated, you know it is time to go elsewhere. The other fun clauses:

"If any conditions on this contract are not enforcible then the remainder of the contract will still remain in force." This means: "Many of these conditions are attempts to fool you into thinking you do not have statutory rights."

"This software [a C compiler] will work broadly in line with the printed instructions". The printed instructions were a small card explaining how to install the compiler. Started the installation in Friday morning, and it was still going on Monday morning. Nothing in the 'printed instructions' said installation would complete in under a year.

Free software: automatic no hassle money back guaranty. Proprietary software: If negligence or malice or our part causes your computer to explode and burn down you house or office, damages are limited to the cost of the software or a replacement CD.

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WANTED: Actual HELPFUL info on price-comparison websites

Flocke Kroes
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Other good phone number ...

I use the web site's customer complaints phone number. If I cannot find such a number then it is time to look for a different vendor.

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Google avoids tax with ‘Double Irish Dutch Sandwich’

Flocke Kroes
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Tax efficiency is required to stay in business

If Microsoft were not efficient about avoiding taxes then they would be less price competitive with Apple. If governments magically become competent at wording tax law and get the big search engines to pay more tax, then the price of advertising rises, the advertisers make a little less profit, pay a little less tax and pass some of the pain on to their costumers. The business customers make a little less profit, pay a little less tax and pass some of the pain on. Finally real people pay a bit more for their goods.

If you think Google paying more tax will reduce your tax bill will make you better off then you are living in a fantasy world. A government with increased revenue just finds more daft ways to waste it. I am sure politicians are well aware of this. All this talk about multinationals paying very little tax is just tactic to distract us from the latest expensive failed government initiatives.

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Microsoft dragging its feet on Linux Secure Boot fix

Flocke Kroes
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Not any non-Apple hardware

I have yet to see Windows for MIPS (I have three MIPS boxes). How about Windows for Raspberry Pi? (Windows RT requires a later generation of ARM CPU.) One of my other two ARM boxes could in theory run RT - but that would use all of the internal flash.

I have one Intel box left. When it dies, Microsoft have given me an excellent reason to replace it with an ARM - and I doubt the RT will be around that long.

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Ex-Nokians fish MeeGo out of bin, launch Sailfish OS

Flocke Kroes
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Cell phone bars

I thought the number of bars a cell phone displays was one more than on the nearest competitor's phone in the hope that it will influence a purchase decision. People claiming to know what they are talking about have posted some alternative theories:

http://ask.metafilter.com/60227/What-do-cell-phone-reception-bars-mean?

As far as I can make out, the bars could show useful information while a call is in progress, but unless their meaning gets standardised, don't bet on it.

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Apple: Sure, here's the HTC patent pact. WITH numbers blanked out

Flocke Kroes
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Samsung did come up with its own damn design without copying Apple

http://www.apple.com/uk/legal-judgement/

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Patent trolling to go under anti-trust spotlight

Flocke Kroes
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I am not a well funded company PR department

Innovation continues despite patents, not because of them. Getting a patent takes years and defending one in the courts takes at least £250,000. Startups do not have the time or money. What they do have is first mover advantage: by the time someone else has copied their product, the startup has released version 2.

Patents are most valueable to established companies who do not innovate. They can use patents to keep startups out of the market.

Patents are supposed to increase the rate of technological progress by rewarding inventors with a monopoly in return for publishing details of how their inventions work. In the real world, people only read patents when they are threatened by lawyers. This is because:

*) Patents are written in patent language which is difficult for non-patent specialists to understand.

*) Reading a patent almost never helps you implement a product. This is most obvious with software patents because they do not include source code.

*) Thousands of new patents are awarded every month. It is impractical to search through all that junk for a useful patent.

*) Reading a patent leaves you open to triple damages for willful infringement.

As inventors no longer read patents, they entire reason for the patent system disappeared decades ago.

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Sun BELCHES twice, mighty plasma loops miss Earth - NASA vid

Flocke Kroes
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Wrong equation

If you start at the sun, pick a random direction and fire something tiny, like the moon then the chance of hitting the Earth are about 1 in 2 billion. Coronal mass ejections are big - similar to the size of the sun when they start. They spread out. I could not find an decisive figure for how much they spread out. The closest I could find to a useful number was 0.25au long. If we pretend that CME's are 0.25au wide when they pass Earth orbit (1au) then the chances of a hit are about 1 in 250.

If someone knows a vaguely sensible number for the diameter of a CME when gets 1au from the sun, please speak up. I have almost no confidence in that 0.25au guess.

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Brit retailers tell Amazon and Google to pay their taxes

Flocke Kroes
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If the public were angry, they would not buy from internet multinationals

This 'public anger' sounds like astro-turf to me. If the government wanted fairer taxes, they would not be giving tax relief to patent trolls:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/ct/forms-rates/claims/patent-box.htm

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Another Microsoft Trojan? Sinofsky might just want a RIM job

Flocke Kroes
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RIM are not the threat

When Elop joined Nokia, Nokia had the highest market share. They had more of the market than Apple and Samsung combined (no 2 and 3 at the time). Things are different now. For Sinofsky to do an Elop, he has to become CEO of Samsung.

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'You can say I'm paranoid about it, but they will kill me'

Flocke Kroes
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"We're not accusing you of being illegal, we're accusing you of being immoral"

Who much have these MPs claimed for expenses?

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Toshiba readies feature-pruned, profit-boosting Jelly Bean tablet

Flocke Kroes
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Does it have a service manual?

The post is required, and must contain letters - but I would prefer parcels.

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Sinofsky OFFSKI: Is Windows 9 now codenamed 'Defenestrate'?

Flocke Kroes
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Nokia has been dealt with

Do Microsoft need someone to run HTC into the ground?

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Industry in 'denial' as demand for pricey PCs plunges

Flocke Kroes
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The Pi's have it

Raspberry Pi gave a clear warning about the direction that the market wanted to go. Intel could make a Debian box twice the speed for twice the money and it would sell - but every sale would cost Intel the profit on something five times the price. PC World could distribute Debian boxes, but each one would cost them the profit on the sales of some antivirus software and Microsoft Office - not to mention crapware revenue.

The real shock to me was PC World distributing Chromebooks. I got the first one that my local PC World had seen (the only other source is Amazon). When the salesman read the sales script, the anger in his voice was clear: "We cannot sell you any software. It has to come from Google" (I got the impression he would have put less scorn into "Bailed out Bankers" than "Google"). I am sure the only reason PC World distribute Chromebooks is because Microsoft are doing their own App store.

In a couple of years, the masses will find computers between phones and cameras in the supermarket and you will find the traditional PC vendors rushing to follow Micro Anvika.

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Plastic screen outfit teams with Epson to offer screen on your plastic

Flocke Kroes
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Half way there

The other half is putting the key pad on the card. With the current system, a display you have no reason to trust tells you who will be paid and how much. You give your account details to a reader that might log them and type your pin on a key pad that could have a key logger attached. Whoever came up with that clearly put some thought into removing as much security as possible.

I would love to see a card that shows who is getting paid and how much on a screen I can trust. Even better, add a keypad so I can be confident that no key logger will be sending my PIN to India. If they really want to go overboard, add an off switch so the card does not spew my ID to every RF-ID reader in a shopping centre.

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Samsung turns screws on Apple, hikes A6 processor price 20%

Flocke Kroes
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Only if you can find there was a first hoax and prove this is another

I have no evidence that Samsung threatened Apple with a lack of LCDs. What I saw were rumours that Apple were planning to reduce orders of Samsung LCDs:

http://www.idownloadblog.com/2012/11/07/apple-sharp-2b-investment/

At this rate, the only people who will trade with Apple are the ones who are really desperate.

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Intel plans Core i7 bare bones mini-PCs

Flocke Kroes
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Has a big advantage over a Pi

My local bus station has a blue screen of death display terminal. You cannot get anything like that with a Pi. For a proper authentic BSoD you need Intel and Microsoft. Surely that is worth an extra $300.

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Flocke Kroes
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Intel NUC: 65W, active cooling

Raspberry Pi: 3.5W passive cooling.

To be fair, I think that 65W includes power for 2 mini-PCIe cards and full power out of the USB connectors. It is not a in any way competitor with a Pi. If you really need PCIe and Windows 8 then a Pi wont fit, but Intel have a long way to go to get near Pi price, power and silence.

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Tech support blog removes Toshiba manuals after legal letter

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Streisand

I did not know that the maintenance manual for my old laptop was available for free download all over the internet. Thankyou Toshiba for pointing it out.

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The GPL self-destruct mechanism that is killing Linux

Flocke Kroes
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A few more lumps of confusion in the article

The Linux kernel has forked: Android. Android had design features that worked well on a mobile phone, but were not appropriate to a cluster. Google considered merging back with Linus's Linux to be sufficiently valuable that they have been recoding bits of Android to scale better. Some of the new code has been merged. Linux and Android are getting closer.

Forks are good in free software. If you are Microsoft, you have a few programmers. To achieve anything, you must pick a direction and herd your programmers that way. If you picked the right direction, all well and good. Celebrate and have a beer. If you guess wrong, you end up with Windows ME, Long Horn Vista or Winphone. Free software has many programmers. It is practical to let all of them code in different directions. The result is lots and lots of editors, toolkits, GUIs, and so on. Some of them are tripe. Some of them are not your cup of tea. Some are outstanding and there is almost always something that gets the job done.

Business friendly is a Microsoft term for code they can embrace extend and extinguish. They labelled the GPL as not business friendly because if they used it, they would not be able to keep their customers locked in. Any other business that actually reads the license finds that the GPL is really friendly.

The pipes are still there. Start an xterm/gterm/konsole/LXterminal, read man bash and info coreutils then pipe away to your heart's content.

You do not need a virtual machine to mix languages. GCC can mix C, C++, fortran pascal (and probably a few more) with a little effort. I write lots of things in python and replace bits with C if speed is a problem. The advantage of Java is you can write once and run on one of several well maintained virtual machines. The advantage of Mono is that if you make a profit Microsoft can change the license and sue you for patent infringement.

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Habitable HEAVY GRAVITY WORLD found just 42 light-years away

Flocke Kroes
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Several g is about 2g if HD40307g has the same density as Earth

Seven times the mass means seven times the gravity only if the plannet is the same radius as Earth. That would be impossible because even osmium - the densest element - is only about four times the density of the Earth. If we pretend the density is the same as Earth then the radius is ³√7 times that of Earth. Gravity decreases with the square of the radius. 7 / (³√7²) = ³√7 ≈ 2.

Chronic exposure (23 generations) to high gravity (2.5g) has been tested on chickens. See: "Great Mambo Chicken & the Transhuman Experience" by Ed Regis.

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Desperate broadband minister in Brussels cash splash dash

Flocke Kroes
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When is the pay-back?

Lend £500million of tax payers money to BT for fibre installation. BT rent access to the fibre to tax payers. BT use the rent to pay back the loan - oops, missed out that bit. BT keep the fibre and the rent and never pay back the loan. Lets hope Joaquin Almunia can explain Noddy's Guide to Business to Maria Miller.

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