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* Posts by Quentin North

29 posts • joined 30 Nov 2007

YES, new Office for OS X is COMING, says German Microsoft bod

Quentin North

Outlook is the MS USP

Today I use Outlook 2010 on a Mac with Parallels. I do this because as a desktop organiser it is one of the best and Mac Outlook 2011 falls woefully short of the desired functionality and reliability. Sure, the Mac has separate Mail and Calendar clients which are fine, but for serious business use Outlook 2010 trumps the lot. The key USP for Outlook 2010 for me is the combined Inbox, with folder tree left sidebar and upcoming appointments and tasks on the right side bar in a single window. You can't beat that at a glance integrated view. The "My Day" app on Mac is shite. A case of too much adherence to Mac UI guidelines which say everything should be in a separate window. Usability wise, it does not work. Bring Outlook 2010 to Mac for 2014!

Word, Powerpoint and Excel? They are convenient I could live without them. I would like to see MS Project back on the Mac. I had this on a Mac under OS/9 and OS/7 in both 68K and PPC forms, so the code is around somewhere.I would also lie to see Sharepoint WebDAV support Macs too. In this day-and-age I find it incredible that you can't have a filename that starts with a "." or contains special characters, and the total path string length must be less that 255 characters. What year is this, 1984?

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Barclays warns freelance techies of DOUBLE DIGIT rate cut

Quentin North
Go

Banks don't understand IT staff

In my experience, IT contractors with Banking experience are always in demand and IT staff are generally quite intransigent on principle. if there is sufficient rage IT staff will just quit to spite the organisation that chose not to recognise their value. Could be a difficult time for Barclays IT systems ahead with the result that Barclays will have to spend money on attracting new contractors and probably offer higher rates to attract them.

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Virgin Media's flaky broadband network turns Bolton off

Quentin North

EE/Orange/T-mob is just as bad

In Brighton the EE/Orange/T-Mobile gsm network has been broken for about 2-3 weeks now and the problem is spreading. You can't even report the problem because the you can't phone support and the only other way of reporting a problem to EE is to write a letter by post, no web form or email support. When will these companies employ competent engineers and provide decent service?

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Apple plans to waggle iNormous 4½-incher in fanbois' faces

Quentin North

Stupid

Im a self confessed fanbois, i have been an Apple owner since 1979, but if Apple do this I think they are losing their way (but not of the first time).

Apple's USP, if you like, is not that it follows market demand (thats what Lenovo, Samsung, HTC etc do) but that they create market demand. The iPod and the iPhone show this. Sure there were similar products before hand, but the market exploded when Apple led the market to them. The same could be said of WIMP interface on computers. Before the Lisa and Mac, nobody knew they wanted one.

To start to become consumer led is to lose your lead, and that, for Apple, is a dead end. They will never compete on price and they are not commodity mass market producers. I foresee a repeat of the Scully 90's coming up, with failed attempts to licence products or services to OEMs and little innovation from Apple themselves. Sell your stock now.

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IBM's Watson-as-a-cloud: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's another mainframe

Quentin North

The ultimate jeopardy answer to life the universe and everything.

42.

Now, Watson, what is the question?

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ten tech treats from yesteryear

Quentin North

Simple smartphone in 1983 based on a PC1500

IN about 1983 me and a friend put together a Sharp PC1500, serial interface, home-brew CUTS modulator and a VHF Amateur radio to build in software and hardware what we would today call a simple smartphone. THe software allowed you to view diary entries and read simple messages (email was not a common term back then). The modulator and Radio communicated back to a base station made up of an Apple II plus another CUTS interface, two VHF radios (for voice duplex) and a Hays compatible modem card supporting 1200/75 Prestel standard. The modem had been hacked so the Apple could switch the audio input and out of the modem to the radios. This allowed the PC1500 to have data communications with the Apple II for the purposes of exchanging messages and calendar events with other users and also route voice via radio to a telephone line to allow for voice calls which could be set up by the PC1500 or using the DTMF keypad on the VHF Radio (a Yeasu FT208 for the interested).

At the time I thought it was pretty neat and showed it to some people who then introduced me to some folks from BT Labs and they showed me something called a cellular telephone in a car. Shortly after that I gave up on my little homebrew efforts as clearly real people were way ahead of anything I was going to achieve.

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If you want an IT job you'll need more than a degree, say top techies

Quentin North

Re: The first hurdle....

Head of IT for a medium sized organisation with 5000 staff here.

First don't ever lie on a CV about qualifications, HR (the automated systems that are used for recruitment nowadays) always ask for an official transcript before appointing. Second, when I do recruit I always say "degree or equivalent such as demonstrable progression within the field of work". THis allows my recruiting managers to be more interpretive of the evidence presented by the applicant. Finally, keep your skills current; IT is a rapidly changing and complex industry, working on the internet in the 90's and being a top dog with Perl, gopher, WAIS and the like is about a useful to me as a horse and cart. Doing a part time degree or post graduate course in your 40's will show commitment to your work related personal development and update your skills.

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PC addict RM finally quits its building habit, plans to axe 300 jobs

Quentin North

Re: Maybe they could learn something from the Raspberry Pi back-to-basics approach

You had a Pet 2001?! Such luxury, I had an ICL 1904 and punch cards when I was at school. It used to take a week to get back a printout that said "Syntax error in line 10"

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Royal Mail FAIL as web brokerage Hargreaves Lansdown struggles with investor demand

Quentin North
FAIL

"loss-making postal service"?

In your text you state "government prepares to privatise the loss-making postal service. " This is incorrect. According to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-24294745 "Ministers are privatising the business when it is making over £400m in profits"

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'WTF! MORONS!' Yahoo! Groups! redesign! traumatises! users!

Quentin North
Facepalm

Yahoo may be crap, but it was reliably crap. Now its broken crap.

Ive stuck with Yahoo for mail, notepad and groups since, oh I dunno, about 2001. The classic interface (read: ancient) was crap, but here is the rub: it worked reliably even when you were on a pentium PC connected to the internet via a satellite link running from a generator. As I happened to find myself in that sort of situation fairly often that was its great advantage. it did not use much javascript, did not do anything cleverly in the background, would work just fine on a WAP phone over GPRS (remember them?), and handled mail and notes just fine. Sure, I am probably not a regular consumer, but the "web app" approach of Gmail and the new Yahoo just sucks as soon as you are on low or delayed bandwidth, so much that they are unusable most of the time. Its a shame they didn't keep a "Classic" option and the drive to a dynamic interface seems to be entirely about advertising and marketing metrics rather than better service. If there was a basic web mail left somewhere on the web I would probably go with that now. Now there's a thought, perhaps I shall build it and some may come...

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Google chap reverse engineers Sinclair Scientific Calculator

Quentin North

Divide by zero

Pleased to see that the emulator has the divide by zero bug, although does not emulate it correctly. Divide by zero was possible on the Sinclair scientific resulting in the display of a count down or general numerical iteration. From memory this never stopped until you powered off, but the emulator seems to reach an input state after a short series of iterations.

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Vietnamese city drinks the smart city kool aid

Quentin North

Good for offshoring

A while back I visited Vietnam looking at the country's IT Services sector and I was pretty impressed. There is a strong service sector providing everything from IT development and operations outsourcing through to complete business process outsourcing. Vietnam has a young population who are all well educated, and the country is focusing on growing this sector. Most speak good business English and the IT skills are very high. Certainly this is a good alternative to Philippines and India for outsourcing, with lower labour costs and arguably better quality.

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Asperger's and IT

Quentin North
Trollface

Ironic

Of course, the description from the Wikipedia article is not quite correct. The symptoms it describes include physical clumsiness which is a product of a similar condition called dyspraxia. Also, Asperger's Syndrome is no longer a recognised diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders version 5 (DSM 5, the latest version).

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Goblinproofing One's Chicken Coop hailed oddest book title

Quentin North
WTF?

this is nothing compared to last years winner

The brilliantly titled Cooking with Poo

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17560468

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Truly these are the GOLDEN YEARS of Storage

Quentin North
WTF?

Core!

I remember when all application data was stored in non-volatile memory for processing. Back then it was called a Core Store. Perhaps someone will re-invent backing store sometime soon.Drums anyone?

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Einstein almost tagged dark energy in the early 1920s

Quentin North

Dark energy

There is some real dark energy in that tag, dude!

Tags: Erwin SchröDinger

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Microsoft bod dreams up 'Star Trek holodeck' games console

Quentin North

But what about the Windows?

How would this system cope with Windows? I mean the see-through type that cant easily be projected on. Of course, it could be a BSOD.

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Lords call for the end of TV transmissions

Quentin North

Who pays?

Setting aside the technical and capacity issues possibly arising from using what is, essentially, a point to point communications channel for broadcast purposes, the key issue with this for me is who pays for delivery?

In TV over the air broadcast, setting aside the UK licence fee as a contributor to cost, the broadcaster pays for delivery through contracting transmission services. In the current model of either cable TV or internet provision the customer pays for delivery through cable on ISP fees. It would seem to me that such a shift to wired provision only would end up transferring the cost of delivery to customers and away from producers. This seems like a bad idea to me as a consumer of TV, and an especially bad idea for people with low incomes, such as pensioners, who currently get TV delivery free of any charge. Even if there was a universal service requirement this would not be without a significant cost per home which must be met somewhere whilst with over the air delivery it is negligible.

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Seize your moment, Microsoft: iPad is RUBBISH for enterprise

Quentin North
Go

iPads in the enterprise

We use iPads in the enterprise here, but they are used as an adjunct to desktop/laptops not a replacement. For example, at meetings we all bring iPads now and make notes on them and read documents on them. We also use iPads (and smartphone, a mix of iphone or android) for telephony using softphone clients.

I agree that an iPad will note be used for writing that 20 page tender document or for complex budget forecasting, but it is used to distribute the documents and viewing wherever and whenever needed.

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Insider cuts into Apple, peels off Intel Mac OS X port secrets

Quentin North
Thumb Up

Before PPC there was 68K

For those of you who go back far enough you will recall that the PPC to Intel migration was not the first time Apple had changed platform with minimal disruption. Prior to PPC being the processor of choice all Macs were based on the 68K chipset and when Apple introduced the PPC processor they included a pretty decent 68K layer in the os which allowed old applications to still run. In fact 68K support was still in Mac OS X right up to 10.4 if I recall correctly. The original term "fat binary" derived from having 68K and PPC in one application package, feature made possible by the use of the Mac OS resource fork file structure.

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Watchdog tells Greenpeace to stop 'encouraging anti-social behaviour'

Quentin North
FAIL

Just to be clear

The problem with nuclear fission is the waste produced and its storage. This accounts for the vast majority of the costs and risks of using nuclear and in the UK, at least, is currently paid for through government subsidy. The current UK cost for nuclear waste is estimated at £48bn. It is the waste production and management that Greenpeace are against when considering nuclear. Should fusion become viable, much of the waste problem goes away and it really does become a clean renewable.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-126360/High-cost-nuclear-waste.html

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Best and the Rest: ARM Mini PCs

Quentin North
Gimp

SheevaPlug/DreamPlug

Surprised you didnt mention the 1.2Ghz ARM based SheevaPlug and DreamPlug computers. I use these as servers running debian or ubuntu mostly, but they can make great little desktops too.

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Lesser-spotted Raspberry Pi FINALLY dished up

Quentin North

Re: Don't look too much at the past

Have you actually tried EVE? Like programming computers today as opposed to yesterday, its just bloody impossible to keep the whole thing in your head at once.

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Comp-sci boffin aims to REPROGRAM LIFE ITSELF

Quentin North
Stop

BSOD

I wonder if the BSOD will take a new, more literal, meaning in the future.

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Schoolkids learn coding at GCSE level in curriculum trial

Quentin North
Go

O level in Computer Studies

When I was at school in 1973 we all had to do a year of Computer Studies and then we could opt to continue to do in O-level (GCSE you would call it now, but as a written exam). At 11 we were taught a pseudo assembler called CESIL (Computer Education in Schools Instruction Language) and at 12 we started to program in BASIC. All this was done on coding forms that were sent off to the local polytechnic for punching and batch processing and we got the results back a week later. At 13 we were introduced to timesharing systems and at 14 we got FORTRAN and GINO-F (Graphical packages for plotted Input and Output).

Why they stopped doing these courses I do not know, but computer education in schools has a long history and is certainly not a new initiative.

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Teletext toddles off as licence taken

Quentin North
Thumb Up

Teletext nee Oracle

You might recall that the previous ITV Text licence holder was Oracle. Look what happened to them since they quit the TV Text business!

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What if computers went back to the '70s too?

Quentin North

DEC, HP, DG, etc minis still alive today!

If you have a fascination for how computing was in the 70s, or grew up with them as I did, you can get that retro experience with SIMH, a simulation platform for a variety of classic computers. I have both a VAX VMS and an HP2000 Access system running on my Mac (both OS are licensed for for free for hobbyist use). More info at http://simh.trailing-edge.com/

Incidentally, Essex ran MUD on a Dec System 10 and not a PDP-11. Oslo also had a copy IIRC. I recall BT PSS demo accounts were regularly traded for communications.

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7-year-old faces M&S Inquisition

Quentin North
Flame

HSBC do this also

HSBC asked to speak to my girlfriends 6 year old son to get his agreement that they could allow his mum to operate his account on his behalf. She put him on the phone, and predictably, he did not understand the question. The result was that they would not allow his mum to operate the account until she went in person to the account branch with various forms of id and completed a paper form filling exercise.

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Virgin downs 1and1 and Germany

Quentin North
Unhappy

VM adsl has gone down hill

When I joined Virgin.net on ADSL 3 years ago, the service was good and the product reliable. In the last 6 months I have suffered outages, reduced performance and deplorable customer service.

The latest is that I am required to prove that my boradband is not meeting the service level by using speedtester.bt.com, which itself does not reliably work and which consistently fails for me as it cannot verify the domain I am connecting from. VM wont accept that my ADSL is failing unless I do speedtests on this service which I cant because it causes an error each time. Catch-22.

The off shore call centre at 25p/minute does not help either, referring me to their online "chat" support which does not work on my Mac.

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