* Posts by Neil Charles

122 posts • joined 7 Nov 2007

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Buy Your Own Device: No more shiny-shiny work mobe for you

Neil Charles

Not so sure about this one

Work phones are partly for making calls but more importantly for sending and receiving email. At my office, when you connect your mobile phone to exchange (or Office 365 or whatever the service is called now), it demands remote admin rights over your phone for the owner of the exchange server. They can remotely factory reset it if they like.

That's fine for a work device and you can choose to do it on your own tablet or phone too if you want. But your employer demanding admin rights over your personal phone as the only option for work calls? Not for me.

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CEO Tim Cook sweeps Apple's inconvenient truths under a solar panel

Neil Charles

The only reason to run an ad like this...

... is that you've run out of new products to talk about.

The meetings that end with these sorts of ads being made, start with wondering what the hell the marketing team is going to spend multi-millions of dollars on, when the company has nothing new to say. These are the sorts of people that Steve Jobs asked to kindly leave his meetings.

"I don’t think we need you in this meeting, Lorrie. Thanks"

It's a "brand" advert and it's not even a particularly good one. You run brand ads when your product isn't differentiated on quality and you're trying to persuade people that it is.

3
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Defamation expert: New '1 year after publication' rule means EASY LIFE for UK libel judges

Neil Charles

Re: "corrections and clarifications"

I've always thought it would be a good idea not to force the paper to apologise using its own choice of language, in its own choice of location, but to give the equivalent space to whoever was defamed as a 'right to reply'.

Tabloids would think much harder about what they wrote if the consequences of a front page defamation were losing a front page to whoever you wronged, where they could write whatever they like.

3
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Moto sets out plans for crafty snap-together PODULAR PHONES

Neil Charles

Spot on

My first thought was that this could extend well beyond phones. Or bring phones into new areas, whichever way you want to look at it.

As an example, the free flying community (Hang gliders etc.) use free software called XCSoar on Android for maps and airspace avoidance. Swap in proper altimeter and variometer modules and you're properly in business with a real flight instrument. It would be too big to be a regular phone then but who cares? That's not the point. There must be hundreds of specialist fields where a smartphone almost but not quite does the job you want.

This could be more versatile than a Raspberry Pi and without all the wires hanging out and Heath Robinson cases. Really hope they can get it to market.

1
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LOHAN slowly strips lens caps off hi-def imaging arsenal

Neil Charles

Batteries

Feedback from the paragliding community says that the Gopro Hero 3 battery life leaves something to be desired compared to earlier versions. If it's the cold and we're noticing it at only a few thousand metres up, then LOHAN might cause some issues!

Awesome bit of kit though. I still want one.

0
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Facebook strips away a bit more of your privacy – but won't say why

Neil Charles

Hang on...

I'm not a lawyer but this can't hold up, surely?

"If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to the terms of this section (and the use of your name, profile picture, content, and information) on your behalf."

So you, personally, can't legally accept these terms because you're too young, but you are able to confirm that somebody who can legally accept them has done so.

That's got "Facebook's next appointment in court" written all over it.

49
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Punter strikes back at cold callers - by charging THEM to call HIM

Neil Charles
Thumb Up

Re: Be a yes man instead.

Like it!

The cold calls are annoying if you're busy but if you're not, it can be a fun diversion to see how long they'll stay on the phone.

I had one PPI chap for the best part of half an hour. Answered initial questions and then very inconveniently developed a bad line when it came to giving my address.

Sure, it's 3... ley... ro... cf... Are you still there? Hang on...

Put the phone down and made dinner, talking more rubbish at 5 minute intervals. Took him ages to give up.

1
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ISPs scramble to explain mouse-sniffing tool

Neil Charles

Re: Lies, damned lies and metrics

You can't explain Microsoft away that easily.

Only MS could take research showing that people don't use the command bar in explorer and conclude that means they should put more stuff on it and make it bigger.

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2011/08/29/improvements-in-windows-explorer.aspx

Nothing wrong with the data. The management interpretation on the other hand...

2
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'But we like 1 Direction!' Rock gods The Who fend off teen Twitter hate mob

Neil Charles

Re: Not just The Who

That's not fair, Tenacious D's wasn't the Best Song Ever.

It was just a tribute.

13
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Patch Tuesday: And EVERY version of IE needs fixing AGAIN

Neil Charles

Surely the important question is...

After it's been patched, will it still have the lowest power consumption?

And how many otters/polar bears/giant redwoods will be burned in the patching process?

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Chrome and Firefox are planet-wreckers, IE cuddles dolphins

Neil Charles

Re: I'm not surprised

Yep, a set time period seems like a thoroughly unfair test to me.

“We then measured the average power draw over one-second intervals for a six-minute period with each of the individual browsers open"

If I open IE on my work machine (which is the only time I open it), it huffs and puffs for a good while before it finally sorts itself out and loads the local intranet homepage.

A fairer test might be the total power draw over the time it takes to open the browser, load gmail, open and read a message, load YouTube, play one video and close again.

Never mind the power stats, I reckon IE on anything but a box fresh laptop would lose by about three minutes.

2
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What freetard are you: Justified, transgressor or just honest?

Neil Charles

Kantar

"It is possible somebody at Kantar Media, which conducted the study for Ofcom, or at the watchdog itself, aspires to higher things: perhaps a gig at a large advertising agency"

Kantar is owned by WPP (world's largest advertising group). They're already bang in the middle of gigs with large advertising agencies.

http://www.wpp.com/wpp/companies/kantar/

3
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Your Flying Car? Delayed again, but you WILL get it, says Terrafugia

Neil Charles

Re: Trouble is ...

The great unwashed already have access to 'your' airspace. I was flying about in it last week on my paraglider* and climbed a big hill carrying a 20kg pack to do it. Definitely needed a shower after that.

* No qualification legally required, but training is highly recommended!

5
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Google's Schmidt calls for 'DELETE from INTERWEBS' button

Neil Charles

A delete button would only be practicable

If there were a very small number of companies indexing, caching and even hosting content. Preferably just one, otherwise who would the delete button notify?

I'm sure that never crossed his mind.

5
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Clap Google, Amazon in irons to end tax shenanigans - MPs

Neil Charles
FAIL

Re: But what about muh socialism?

Can I try that excuse?

"I didn't pay any income tax, but I contribute to the economy by paying VAT your honour."

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OEMs and sellers must pay refunds on software faults - OFT

Neil Charles

30 days is ok, but...

What about on-going updates? I'd like to see a clearer definition of who is responsible when a service is withdrawn, or an update bricks your gadget.

Two very recent examples:

Logitech have retired Squeezebox and although they're saying they'll play nicely and continue to support the mysqueezebox.com site that it needs to work, as far as I know they don't have to?

Sony's fancy new PS3 store has screwed up my console's ability to download and install... well, anything. It seems like I'm not the only one. It used to work, then the update and now it doesn't - you get an error during install every time. Sony don't seem interested in helping.

So if I buy something that relies on a remote service for some of its functionality, how long is the company obliged to keep that service running? Or fix it if they break it?

2
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Optical Express 'ruined my life' gripe site lives on

Neil Charles

Optical Express needed four goes to get my address right

And their biggest selling point for laser eye surgery is that it's cheap.

No thanks.

If I trusted them, I'd pay a lot more than they're charging, but I don't.

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Rampant fake Facebook ad clicks riddle hits dead end

Neil Charles

Re: ""browsers that didn't have JavaScript enabled - something unheard of in this day and age"

I did some (very) back of a fag packet guesstimates a while ago and got to adblock penetration of only around 5%

http://www.wallpaperingfog.co.uk/2012/03/adblock-penetration-has-doubled-in.html

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What happens when Facebook follows MySpace?

Neil Charles

Re: I keep my photos on my own drive...

Yup, that's the way to do it. Facebook's lack of permanence is only a problem if you try to use it as a permanent solution. I store full res copies at home and back them up, then chuck whatever needs sharing at Picasa in default quality.

If you've got the images stored at home then who cares if your social network of choice disappears overnight? You can upload them somewhere else in the morning.

The long-term storage discussion is interesting and does raise an issue though. Techies will transfer their pics as they go along, but a lot of people take photos via their phone and over 4-5 upgrades many of those will get lost. Everybody's granny has a box stashed somewhere, full of old pics but I'm not sure our generation will have the equivalent. We'll have a pile of old phones we can't charge or access and forgotten image libraries scattered across a variety of yesterday's social networks.

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New lightest-ever material: Ideal power for electric car

Neil Charles

Re: Maybe...but...

Impractical yes, but so is petrol.

My point was not so much that we should do it right now, as that it "could" be done. You'd definitely need a battery standard. I like 15' long AAs myself.

Seriously, as batteries get lighter and smaller it could happen. They don't need 30 second recharge times, if they're small and light enough to be swapped.

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Neil Charles

Re: Maybe...but...

Why is it always assumed that you have to recharge car batteries? Why not drive onto a garage forecourt and your flat battery can be swapped for a fresh one? The garage charges up the old one at their leisure and somebody else inherits it.

Yes it would be difficult, but is it really so much harder than extracting black goop from deep underground, piping it for miles, refining it, transporting the refined goop to petrol stations and then pumping it into cars? Batteries are big and heavy so you'd need machinery to swap them, but seriously, why not?

If petrol had never existed and we'd only just invented electric powered cars, there'd be some serious work going on to create that infrastructure, guaranteed.

3
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Behold: First look at Office 2013, with screenshots

Neil Charles
FAIL

There really is nobody at Microsoft...

...Who thinks about ease of use for the UI, is there?

Or maybe there's one guy - in a basement room - with a prototype copy of Office where the ribbon never happened and using keyboard shortcuts to draw a pivot table doesn't pop up the old 2003 menu, while clicking the ribbon buttons shows a different one.

If that guy does exist he must be very, very depressed.

In the grand scheme of things, capitalising the menu bar is a small change, but road sign designers have known since the 50s that mixed case text is easiest to read quickly. James May covered it on Top Gear. Wikipedia knows too en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FHWA_Series_fonts

Microsoft desperately need to stop guessing, employ somebody aggressive who has studied how people process information and then give him authority over the people who design the Office UI.

1
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Google Nexus 7 Android tablet

Neil Charles

Competition?

"That said, it doesn't compete with the iPad, but it's not meant to. Instead Google has come up with a tablet that's ideal for the morning commute, most flights or as a second screen device for the home."

I'd say that puts it bang into the iPad's territory. Just because the iPad is capable of much more, doesn't mean most of them ever actually do that much more. Anecdotal evidence says most are sofa surfing, email and photo gallery machines. The Nexus should do those things fine.

There hasn't been an alternative to the iPad yet that is a safe bet to buy for a non-techy family member. There are alternative tablets that will do a perfectly good job, but it takes some research to find out which ones (otherwise you might end up with a Playbook.) My partner's mother got an iPad for her 60th birthday. Guarantee she'd have got one of these instead if it had been this year. And maybe a weekend away somewhere nice with the price difference.

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Android Firefox: Screaming, awesome, you'll go blind etc

Neil Charles

Re: Dolphin's great

Yes, I know exactly how it's financed.

The way I look at it is that the only way I've ever clicked a mobile ad is by accident, so adblock stops Google billing advertisers for clicks that are worthless.

The other way I look at it is Android is what there is (unless I buy an iPhone, which I won't). I'd pay to remove ads, but i can't do that so I'll block them until there's an alternative.

The other way I look at it is I don't give a sh*t how it's financed and am completely happy with free-riding off people who haven't worked out how to use adblock yet. Call it a stupidity tax.

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Neil Charles

Dolphin's great

And I use it on my phone, but my Android tablet's had Firefox on it for a while. Only one reason: it's got adblock. Early Android Firefox was rubbish, but the latest versions have been pretty good and adblock tipped the balance.

Have to see what this new one's like, but fingers crossed. I do hate them ads.

3
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No one watches TV, Nielsen, and you know it

Neil Charles
FAIL

Linear TV watching is dropping

Because you say it is? As opposed to Nielsen, whose job it is to, you know, measure it.

No, the TV viewing figures aren't perfect but they're a damn sight better than 'social' alternatives. Say you build a multimillion dollar project to measure TV through Facebook. Facebook growth is slowing down (for sure) and may turn into decline (we can only hope). What then? Brand new audience methodology every five years based on the latest social fad?

What about programmes that don't register on Facebook? There are lots that Nielsen can't register properly, even by actually logging what's shown on TVs. Is there a multi-thousand person discussion going on about those shows on Facebook? I doubt it.

In conclusion, anyone involved in social media shouldn't be let anywhere near TV viewing figures. Sort your own field out and leave TV alone. It's fine.

1
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Microsoft set to 'do a Nexus' with its Surface tablet

Neil Charles

Re: I'm no Apple fanboi but

Fair enough and Windows 7's not bad. My work laptop is still prone to the odd wobble though and it had a clean install a couple of months ago.

In general, I mean that MS need to fight their own history as well as whatever the competition puts out. As a quick example, I tried to share my laptop net connection via wifi recently. Windows 7 can do that apparently, which is brilliant. But you turn on the sharing via the dos prompt. And then it didn't work.

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Neil Charles

Re: Who's excited?

Speaking from limited experience, the Microsoft employee culture is a serious problem. Their employees are evangelical fans of MS kit to the point of not seeing where other companies' products are better.

It's great to have belief in your own product, but not to the extent where you don't fix it because you can't see that it's got serious issues. Microsoft could do worse than to flood their buildings with Apple, HTC and Samsung tablets and phones, get the staff to play with them and then ask they think. Anyone who can't see any advantages at all over what they build themselves, gets fired.

1
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Neil Charles
FAIL

I'm no Apple fanboi but

Could you imagine that happening to Steve Jobs as he demo'd an iThing?

Biggest problem Windows 8 has got in winning tablet customers? Windows 1-7. A lot of customers will see a choice between a slick tablet, or one that locks up occasionally, like their desktop does.

I'd love a tablet with a stylus that can run Windows programs, but I saw that video and thought, 'yep, pretty much as expected. IE is still shit.'

8
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Top bosses admit: Tweets, Facebook Likes influence decisions

Neil Charles
FAIL

Anybody who takes a bit of survey data

And uses it to create the monstrosity of an infographic that's linked at the top of the article, can't be trusted with Big Data. Or Medium Sized Data. Or Any Data At All.

If you want useful analytics, or advice on how to get useful analytics, steer well clear of anybody who says "big data". Those are marketing people. Go and find somebody who's been doing big data for ages and just calls it "analysis".

1
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Asus-made Google pad set for June debut

Neil Charles

Re: 7" tablets are brilliant

Smart phones are growing but it's a trend I can see going the other way in the near future for a fair number of users. I've got an HTC Desire HD but having picked up the Flyer tablet, next time around it's getting swapped for something phone sized.

Pocket sized phone that can share its connection + 7" tablet and you've got a nice travel bundle. I'm not sure huge phones are the best of both worlds.

No problem with any size of gadget though, I was just disputing the idea that 7" tablets aren't a really useful size.

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Neil Charles

7" tablets are brilliant

10" for the sofa, fine, but for travelling and office use my 7" HTC Flyer is perfect. Big enough for websites to be useable, to take notes and for emails to be readable, but not so big that it's awkward to carry around.

Hopefully this tablet will have a similar effect to the Nexus phone. It's not about Google selling millions of the things, it's about setting a benchmark, which other manufacturers of Android tablets will have to match or exceed. Google will be saying to Samsung, Dell, HTC and others, "oh, ffs, do it like this..." and then standing back to watch the iPad's market share take a battering.

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Virgin Media site goes titsup in Pirate Bay payback attack

Neil Charles
Joke

"TalkTalk hadn't immediately returned our request for comment at time of writing."

Ah, so it's not just their customer service number then.

2
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Samsung shows 'designed for humans' handset

Neil Charles

Abandoning oversized phones

My HTC Desire HD has been great, but I won't be getting another huge phone next time around as there's a better way to go.

4.8" is an awkward lump to stick in your pocket and then you've got to worry about protecting that screen from your keys etc. Screen protectors are ok but it seems a shame to stick a (quickly scuffed) bit of plastic over your lovely crisp screen. Proper cases make it even bigger! If you're carrying a bag - which you probably will be if you're using it for work - then you might as well take a tablet.

I picked up a wireless only HTC Flyer for £200 on Amazon not long ago and just use the phone as a wifi hotspot when I need to. Would much rather carry a sensible sized phone with good battery life and share the connection now.

I can see there being a market for big phones but when you can get a decent tablet for £200, long term I think it will be a niche within the niche of people who want a high-end Android gadget.

0
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Glider pilot 'swallowed camera memory' say plunge tragedy cops

Neil Charles

Re: As a paraglider pilot...

Best guess on risk (stats on free flying accidents aren't very good) is that motorbikes and paragliders have fairly similar accident rates. Depends a lot on your approach to either though - flying in rough conditions and acrobatics are a choice, just like dodgy overtakes and trying for knee down on country roads. I fly and ride and reckon I've had a similar (small) number of close calls doing both.

Being called Neil isn't mandatory, but it does mean you thermal better.

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Neil Charles

Re: As a paraglider pilot...

As another paraglider pilot...

It's a horrible irony that we see spikes in interest for the sport when it's in the news for all the wrong reasons. People discover the joy of free flight through an accident.

Paragliding's the one with wings that look like big parachutes. Hang gliding is the one with triangular 'delta' shaped wings. Most people paraglide now because although hangies have much higher performance, they're a comparative pain in the a**e to carry up a hill and assemble.

If you're in the UK, start here!

http://www.bhpa.co.uk/bhpa/learn-to-fly/

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Behind Facebook's $1bn Instagram antitrust dodge

Neil Charles
WTF?

For my next $1bn

I can't see how spending $1bn on Instagram shows Facebook to be a better investment. Yes, it's killed one potential competitor, but it cost a billion dollars to acquire a two year old upstart that has only a handful of employees.

Is a couple of billion a year for killing little startups costed into Facebook's projections? Or do Facebook really expect investors to believe that Instagram was the last one and it's easy street from here?

0
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Moody's downgrades Nokia to near-junk status

Neil Charles

Re: People don't seem to get it

"The ability to sync and share information seamlessly between Desktop / Laptop and the smartphone will propel them ahead of Android"

If it worked then it might help them to catch up. The words 'Microsoft' and 'Sync' don't inspire confidence though.

Anyway, Android (and I assume iPhone) already instantly syncs everything you would reasonably want to appear on your phone. My calendar's synced across a laptop, two phones and a tablet and unlike any experience with Windows syncing has never given me a minute's trouble.

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Smartphone owners demand bigger screens

Neil Charles

Re: I'm with you, thesykes

That's exactly my next plan. I've got a Desire HD at the moment and it's great, but too small to use as a proper tool at work and big enough to be a nuisance on a night out.

Android tablet with some decent productivity apps and a stylus for under £300 please. And a cheapish pocket sized phone to go with it.

0
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Apple to Google Maps: ‘Get lost’

Neil Charles

Re: Shot across the bow

Youtube's just better known would be my guess.

I like Vimeo the way it is - without all the garbage and txt spk comments that clutter up Youtube. People who search for a better solution than Youtube find Vimeo and they also tend to be the sorts of people who take more care over what they upload.

Vimeo's like a good restaurant at the moment, which not everybody in town knows is there. Don't tell them or it will fill up with noisy kids and they'll ruin it.

3
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Belkin LiveAction Camera Grip

Neil Charles
FAIL

Forty five quid?

You could buy an acceptable little digital camera for that! Well, a better one than you get in a phone anyway.

What do they say about fanbois and their money?

1
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Regulator reckons telly advert caps are just peachy

Neil Charles

Because they only have to average nine minutes

That's why whatever programme is on after the X Factor or Coronation Street will have much less advertising. ITV stick as many breaks as they can in their highest rating programmes and then have to re-balance the schedule later in the evening to get back to their nine minute average again.

0
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Infographic: The road to desktop virtualisation

Neil Charles

I didn't think you were replacing the articles

But I'd stand by the argument that infographics aren't useful.

Most infographics aren't single tables or pictures - which can communicate data and ideas very quickly - they're almost always several different graphs, tables and pictures mashed together in one poster sized image with a background, so that you have to work to find out what they've got to tell you.

Eventually you work out that what they've got to tell you, is something you could have written in a couple of paragraphs or less. I'd stick to inserting clean, simple graphs in the articles - it's much clearer.

2
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Neil Charles
FAIL

Infographics

Please don't do any more.

The marketing world is awash with them, Twitter loves the damn things and The Guardian's doing its very best to pretend that infographics are journalism. They're never, ever useful. If you want to communicate a small amount of information, more slowly than you could by just writing in an article the old fashioned way, then infographics are the way to go.

The Register is a refuge of (usually) well thought out and well written articles; please don't follow the herd. I'm genuinely a little bit sad to find one here.

3
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iPhone 4S owners love Siri, hate the battery life

Neil Charles
FAIL

Slapped wrist for the Reg

I wondered about that 13% too, so I went looking for the original survey

http://www.changewaveresearch.com/articles/2011/iphone4s_20111201.html

The actual question was "What do you like best about your iPhone 4s?", with multiple responses allowed.

So saying Siri is the feature that punters like best is ok.

Saying third party apps and iCloud "Appeal" to only 13% and 19% respectively is not ok; it's misleading.

If you ask me what I like best about my phone and give me an open choice, I'll probably pick the ability to make calls and that it fits in my pocket. It doesn't mean it's not stuffed to bursting with third party apps.

2
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Think your CV is crap? Your interview skills are worse

Neil Charles

Tips for recruitment consultants

Please can we have a follow up article of tips for recruitment consultants? This piece is better than "Why your tech CV sucks" but it's only fair to give hiring managers and interviewees the right to reply.

If nobody else wants to do it, I'll write it. Actually, after one too many calls from recruiters a couple of years ago, I already did.

http://wallpapering-fog.blogspot.com/2009/10/this-needs-to-be-said.html

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Why your tech CV sucks

Neil Charles

Please don't teach bad people to write good CVs

I like bad CVs. It's so much quicker to bin a CV with spelling mistakes in it, than to invite somebody in for a 45 minute interview before you find out that you don't want to hire them.

I used to be quite lenient about CVs and think that people might be ok - despite a weak CV - as they've worked for good companies. After a lot of wasted interview time, I'm not any more. Good people write good CVs. If you're not genuinely excited about interviewing somebody after reading their two sides of A4 (not more. Ever.) then just don't interview them - it's a waste of your own time.

Thanks for the article though. I particularly enjoyed "You are a waste of space", coming from a recruitment consultant. Linkedin and a competent HR department for me, please.

9
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Colossal dead black neo-sphere approaching Earth

Neil Charles
Joke

Definitely not a meteor

How do you know?

Well... er... it's slowing down.

2
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Web czar: 'Drag your nan online'

Neil Charles
Happy

You're right there

It takes a lot more than an hour and you forget how much about PCs we take for granted.

My 80 year old nan struggled for a while with the idea that moving the mouse forward and back made the pointer on the screen go up and down. It sounds funny, but it was a totally alien control method to her, having got as far as early electric typewriters and then stopped.

She's online now though and problem solving for herself. We got my grandparents a photo printer for Christmas and they love it - it's got a bridge straight to the camera with no pc involved and if you forget about the fact that my nan prints out everything on the camera each time she prints, then it works fine.

I sent her some holiday snaps by email (which she loves to get) and she wanted to show them to a friend. The printer's not attached to the PC, but she can print straight from the camera. So the pictures were paged through, one at a time on the monitor, and photographed. Then printed direct from the camera.

Bless.

2
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Ballmer disses Android as cheap and complex

Neil Charles
FAIL

One of Microsoft's biggest problems

Is that they sit in their ivory tower, slinging sh*t at successful competitor products, without asking themselves honestly what it is that's causing people to buy them.

I'm reliably told that nobody working at MS would dream of owning a PS3, or an Android phone, or an iPhone. The best product is the Microsoft product, because it's the Microsoft product, so that's what they all use.

I'm all for using what you build, but this isolationism really doesn't help. Ballmer should get his management teams into a room, give them an iPhone or a high-end Android phone each and then tell them that's all they're allowed to use for the next three months. Anyone who comes back after three months and says they still don't understand why people buy those instead of Windows Phones, gets fired.

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