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* Posts by Nick Ryan

1115 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

UK Ministry of Defence eyes GPS patent payoff

Nick Ryan
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Facepalm

Re: Commentards, commentards...

Just got that :)

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Lenovo U300s Ultrabook

Nick Ryan
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Finally... the designers at Lenovo have put the Fn key in the correct place and not hijacked the Ctrl key the very rarely used Fn key. Might be able to type on a Lenovo and move to another laptop without having to glare at the keyboad layout from now on!

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Windows Phone 7 'not fit for big biz ... unlike Android, iOS'

Nick Ryan
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Re: Is Windows Phone 7 fit for anything?

A little unfair, they could do something with it. Force the interface onto desktop PCs, for example?

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Basic instinct: how we used to code

Nick Ryan
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Re: If I can type through these misty eyes... @ Mike Richards

Ha! I can understand that, I certainly didn't mean "sophisiticated" by way of feaures, more by the implementation method. The lack of any form of graphics or sound functions in the language on the C64 was a permanent pain and the reason that assembly was so used (other than speed of course).

I don't think it would have been on a few extra pennies per machine, the constraint of the 8k basic ROM block probably had a big factor - IIRC there weren't much more than a few extra bytes spare, certainly not enough to introduce graphics and sound functions. Fitting a larger ROM would have doubtless caused all kinds of design issues.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: If I can type through these misty eyes...

The neat thing about the speccy basic was that it cut out the tokenisation process through having the user enter the token direct as the keyboard simply produced the token as the scan code.

Other (more sophisticated systems) such as the BBC and Commodore 64 had to parse the line text and tokenise it at that point. While this was less efficient as it introduced another step, it did allow the hacking of basic on the Commodore 64 through the trick of copying the current ROM into the underlying RAM bank under it, changing the tokens (IIRC they were terminated with bit 7 being set in the ASCII string) and the token index was then used with a jump table to execute the functionality. Reverse engineering this to hack it taught me a lot about how the basic interpreter worked and good usage of subroutines, including adding my own basic commands and using the underlying standard BASIC subroutines to help process them.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Ughh... Still shudder when I recall those days

There was always JSR as well (and on some processors, conditional JSRs as well). Certainly on the 8 bit systems the use of JSR taught you well the value in stack management (very limited stack space for return points) and how to deal with passing values into these subroutines.

And just when you thought you were getting a handle on it all you then got into the ball-ache abortion mess that's x86 assembly code and were forced to waste more clock cycles juggling registers and stack pointers than doing anything that was actually useful. Unfortunately modern x86 code isn't often much better, it's just that the processors are considerably faster.

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UK biz needs fattening up on gov IT contracts, says No10 bod

Nick Ryan
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Powerpoint

"PowerPoint can be used creatively". Unfortunately it's mostly used instead of a presentation.

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HTC to produce exclusive Facebook smartphone, bitch

Nick Ryan
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Alternatively they could just fix the shitty facebook apps so they actually work. Why is FB so much easier and faster to use using a web browser on a phone than the official app?

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Hanging's too good for 'em - so what do you suggest?

Nick Ryan
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They should be forced to become politicians. It'll cut out the needless middling around before they're convicted of something if they're convicted at the start.

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Nick Ryan
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or...

For the really heinous crimes, made to debate UK military spending with Lewis Page...

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Panasonic DMP-BDT320 3D Blu-ray player

Nick Ryan
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"The player sucked in a Java heavy copy of Goldfinger and had the 007 menu onscreen in a respectable 52 seconds. A less complicated platter reached its menu in just 31s."

And an HD ripped version of Goldfinger starts to play immediately and without all the crap and fancy effects and menus that nobody really cares for much. Oh, and you also don't have to sit and admire the "Piracy is copyright theft" lies screens as well (there is such thing as "copyright violation", but not "theft"), and in the case of much Disney tat, the unskippable trailers.

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Microsoft unveils Windows 8 'release preview' for June

Nick Ryan
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I wonder if they'll have made it usable by then?

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EU-US name-swap deal actually gives passengers MORE privacy

Nick Ryan
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WTF?

Re: Unsure...

Doubt it.

It'll only be "fair" when all EU states receive lists, including all irrelevant personal details, of all US terrorists (i.e. everybody who happens to fly from or through the US) and are allowed to store and process these records as they feel fit. US terrorists / citizens should, of course, be allowed to apply to each individual state to ensure that their details are correct.

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Stray SMS leads to aborted landing

Nick Ryan
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Re: Well handled

There's a reason that some transportation systems are better covered.

When something goes wrong and you're flying, there's a very high chance that you'll hit the ground hard.

When something goes wrong and you're in a bus, there's a very high chance that the bus will stop and you can get off it.

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Zuckerberg blew $1bn on Instagram 'without telling Facebook board'

Nick Ryan
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Agreed - good summary. However you missed one point:

The CEO of instragram did a fantastic job of selling his largely worthless* company for a ludicrous amount of money - we really have to give him credit for that.

*as in no income - the real value is really what somebody is willing to pay for it.

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EA confirms Crysis 3 release

Nick Ryan
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EA release (yet another) sequel? Shirley not?

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Microsoft to bake Windows 8 in three flavours

Nick Ryan
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Re: Still not getting it, are you Microsoft?

He's not describing using it using remote desktop - it's the tedious updates and other management and configuration changes that are periodically required that you need a keyboard and mouse for.

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Bacteria isolated for four million years beat newest antibiotic

Nick Ryan
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Re: Every one is an expert..

Wondered that myself in the past as well. It's an interesting question and as it's common across multiple separate locations and diverse species there's likely to be at least one common reason.

Not producing skin pigmentation is probably a good answer, as with no need to do it for mating display or protection from harsh radiation (sunlight) it's likely to cease to be a selection factor. Instead selection would favour those best able to make do in these marginal environments and if a paler specimen needs less energy and nutrients it is likely to be better able to survive and reproduce compared to others.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Evolution - learn some science

A lot of antibiotics are derived from non-bacterial sources as well. Many plants (and animals) produce natural antibiotics - don't forget that one of the most famous antibiotics is derived from a fungus - Penicillin comes from the Penicillium fungi.

It's all part of ongoing battles between species - one organism produces a defence mechanism against another, the other then changes slightly to work around this and then the process starts again. The process is made considerably more "interesting" (as in complex as hell) when it involves multiple competing organisms...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: So is it like this?

b) It's a little wider in scope than just "These bacteria have reproduced for millennia, using humans and other species as breeding grounds"

Bacteria as a whole do not rely on humans or other animals, or more correctly just other forms of life, as breeding grounds - that's what viruses do. In broad terms bacteria can reproduce on their own, viruses use other organisms to reproduce however like all things there are various varieties that tend to bend these rules. Bacteria may happen to inhabit animals but are to be found lurking pretty much everywhere, it's just that animals produce a lot of waste of all forms and therefore can harbour quite nice environments for many bacteria to live.

This is aside from a lot of symbiotic relationships that have developed between bacteria and higher forms of life - for example humans can't survive without any bacteria and some of those that live in or on us are so specialised that they're largely unique to humans. This doesn't necessarily mean that they rely on us to survive just that we're their preferred environment - after all they need to be able to survive outside their animal environment hosts to spread.

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Softphones strangled by smartphone battery life

Nick Ryan
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Alternatively...

Just put a damn IP phone handset on the desk. You then don't need to bother with separate phone and network cabling and to make it easier many IP phones have network "passthrough" - as in they have an internal mini network switch to reduce the cabling substantially. You still need a separate power socket to power the phone unless you run PoE though.

The result? A phone on your desk that looks and works like a phone without the pain of a headset and you don't need to dick around with soft phone applications that as a horrible generalisation are pretty awful.

* PC turned off or crashed (again)? No problem, phone still works.

* Wireless dodgy (like it always is), doesn't use it.

* User acceptance? Looks and feels like a phone therefore instant familiarity even with typical office technophobes.

Usually applications can be loaded onto a PC to allow better integration with applications as well but the key point is that these aren't required for use.

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Nokia drops Lumia 900 price to $0 in response to bug outrage

Nick Ryan
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Ouch. At least they fessed up though and immediately tried to fix the problem.

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Shuttle Discovery to buzz Washington DC at 1,500 feet

Nick Ryan
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Even more impressive is just what was done in the Space Race era, with moon landings and more without the sophisticated computing power and manufacturing and materials available today. Those buggers were planned and launched with just valves and transistors.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Those stats sum up how shuttles never lived up to the sales pitch

"nor allowed by law, to carry commercial satellites"

Didn't realise that! Typical from a government perspective but just seems short sighted - of course it wouldn't recoup its costs if it can't make any money at all...

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Canon reaches for stars with DSLR refresh

Nick Ryan
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Holmes

Re: Damn that is expensive even by Canon's standards

If our (make believe) astrologer friends like this, I wonder how astronomers feel about it?

:p (and it's not even a Friday)

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Nick Ryan
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"heightened hydrogen-alpha sensitivity"

Oh dear, initially it sounds like some marketing drones from cosmetic companies have found a new job at Canon spouting pseudo-science...

However hydrogen-alpha is a specific frequency of the spectrum - point this at the sun with some appropriate filters and you could get some interesting photos.

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Nature ISN'T fragile nor a bossy mother-in-law - top eco boffin

Nick Ryan
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The green movement did more damage to environmental causes with their rabid, blinkered hatred of everything nuclear than any other damage. How? Because in place of nuclear power stations, coal and oil ones were built which are much more damaging to the environment.

As a result many countries, including the UK, are facing impending energy shortages and have no viable plan to ramp up energy production to keep up with demand.

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Ten... ADF-based inkjet all-in-one printers

Nick Ryan
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So... can these devices print the entire surface of a sheet of paper (i.e. without non-printing margins)? The (photoshopped) imagery for most of them appears to imply that they can.

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Apple to take shine off glossy iMacs, say moles

Nick Ryan
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Good - never did understand the idiotic "shinier than hell" screen tech fad. Admittedly, colours can look more vibrant on these screens... but only on the rare occasions that the damn thing isn't working like a mirror and reflecting the lights from windows, lights, clothing or just other systems (also as a rule, useless outdoors, but so are many displays).

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RIM to exit the consumer phone market

Nick Ryan
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Will be interesting to see what happens to RIM now, with more and more corporates supporting Android and iThings and both of these systems steadily becoming a little more corporate friendly. Nothing yet compared to how friendly BB devices are for corporates but with the consumer backing of these already very strong their continued move into the corporate environment is inevitable.

Maybe RIM will just go back to throwing patent based lawsuits around...

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Angry Birds Space

Nick Ryan
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So far it is quite enjoyable and different while keeping the quality of the originals while adding a bit more polish. Yes, the same old game tends to get tiresome after a while but taken into context of being a casual game that you can play for a few minutes at a time it works well.

Interplanetary billiards using flying birds and pigs and bubbles? Just why smartphones were invented...

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Actively cooled rocket primed for easy re-entry

Nick Ryan
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Re: Elite

The Micro-G-Free Flyer REX certainly has a lot of similarities to the Elite ASP II.

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Female Chinese astronauts must have no scars, straight teeth

Nick Ryan
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Re: Flight conditions

If I remember correctly, the pressure is kept intentionally somewhat lower than normal atmospheric sea level - as in they then need less air (= less weight) and the capsule doesn't need to be so strong in the opposite direction to when in the atmosphere (again, less weight).

Apparently the extended stay in low pressure can cause fillings to erupt due to pockets of much denser air in cavities in the teeth. No idea whether this ever really happened or not, but I'd also read somewhere that prospective US astronauts had any fillings they did have drilled out and refilled very carefully to reduce this risk.

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Braben sticks knife into secondhand games market

Nick Ryan
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Price...

"the price of new games would have come down a long time ago if the industry was getting a share of the revenue from used game sales"

or alternatively:

...more games would have been sold if they hadn't been such greedy b'stards in the first place and priced the games at a more sensible price. Falling revenue is rarely countered effectively by upping the sales price.

...if the games actually had replay value then gamers might keep the games and not return them after completing them in 6 hours

...95% of the budget wasn't be spent on visual effects, instead producing games that a gamer might want to play for longer as once you've watched a movie you tend not to need to watch it again. (similar to the above point admittedly)

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Samsung opens up the Ice Cream Sandwich

Nick Ryan
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Re: What use are updates if you can't install them?

All parts of Samsung Kies should be removed, formatted, wiped out of memory - both your computer and yours. It's rare that I come across software that's so gob-smackingly awful that you're left in a gibbering state wondering just what the **** were the developers thinking?

My specific problem with the phone comms (and not alone in this) was that Kies recognised the phone when the device was in USB mass storage mode. Switch the device into Kies mode and Kies just refused to recognise that it exists.

Solution? Use some of the rather good 3rd party tools to update the device. Google for ODIN and you should find some good guides and links.

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London Mayor Boris grilled on Virgin's Underground penetration

Nick Ryan
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Re: @Nick Ryan

Well there is that... but not intended :)

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Don't mention the Olympics

Try reading the official rules, terms and conditions on the London 2012 website and you'll see the true extent of the lunacy. Specific new *laws* put in place in the UK to give over rights and create "new" offences relating to the use of the London 2012 marks (logos and shit), general branding and words.

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So, what IS the worst film ever made?

Nick Ryan
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* Impossible Mission 1, 2, etc (bugger all relation to the series)

* Gor - 1 and 2, somehow the 2nd was worse, not sure how - must have been through just reusing clips from the first film. So bad they're almost good.

* Star Wars Episode I, II and III.

* Twighlight (1, 2 and 3) - just used "special power" crutches for plot and 2 and 3 are nothing more than remakes of number 1 with pretty much the same "plot"

* Animals United - a host of "stars" were utterly unable to rescue this

* Titanic - it sinks, end of film, done with the whiny singing and wooden acting yet?

* Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus - shits'n'giggles it's so bad with green lights and lockers to simulate a bridge on a ship / sub / etc.

* The Chronicles of Riddick - at least Pitch Black made a little bit of sense, but this one was just conan remade in space. Badly.

* Fast & Furious (all of them). They remade this? Why? But then could generally include anything starring Vin Diesel in this list...

* The Patriot - but again, pretty much anything with Segal in it could be in this list as well

* Stargate (1994) - dull, dull and just dumb. The series was better though

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New NASA snap of game developer's electric cart FOUND ON MOON

Nick Ryan
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Re: Why keep electronics warm?

Not all electrical components appreciate being very cold and can exhibit wildly different electrical characteristics as a result. These lunar bots didn't feature integrated circuits, they were made up of thick boards of large caps, resistors and transistors and the rest and these can greatly suffer with different temperatures and as a result the circuits themselves will operate differently (and generally in unwanted ways). Running a modern IC chip very cold isn't actually running it very cold as such, it's instead dumping the heat faster (through the increased temp. gradient) and preventing the thing from burning out as a result.

I'm sure somebody who specialises in electronics can give better detail than this but this is the general principle.

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Virgin Media snags London Underground Wi-Fi monopoly

Nick Ryan
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Re: Paris...

Errr... depth has nothing to do with it. Mobile signals will have a tough time going through a couple of metres of earth / rock / concrete - so the additional depth of the tube over the Paris metro is meaningless.

The Paris metro is covered by picocell devices (although there may be various others depending on the branding the manufacturer decides on a whim to apply to their kit).

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Windows 8: Thrown into a multi-tasking mosh pit

Nick Ryan
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Re: Stealing focus...

MS did attempt to fix this. They then wrote work-arounds in their own bloody apps to steal the focus anyway... and what MS Office does, other apps copy.

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2 in 3 Android anti-malware scanners not up to the job

Nick Ryan
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...and 3/3 of them make a balls up of the system, introducing more instability and unreliability than there ever was before.

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Why on Earth would you build a closed Android phone?

Nick Ryan
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Same here - looks to be a well thought out product that's well targeted.

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Windows 8: Sugar coating on Microsoft's hard-to-swallow tablet

Nick Ryan
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Unintuitive

Unintuitive - that pretty much sums it up so far.

Aside from it being ugly as sin - yes, I know that some do love it, but design wise I find that it's just foul and akin to a kids v-tech interface. Ugly colour scheme, meaningless icons and an overriding mindset of jumbled and cluttered all the while with lots of empty space. Good use of space is critical to good design, but somehow they've even managed to get this bit wrong.

As for usability, that fails spectacularly. "Mystery meat" navigation is pathetic - a user shouldn't "know" (somehow or other) that do perform a certain function they should move a mouse to an arbitrary corner of an interface (a real bitch when running in a windowed VM and likewise remote desktop) or having to poke a finger on a blank but specific point on a screen is just as retarded.

The only way I've found so far to close most of the friggin' applications that I've opened so far has been to use Alt-F4 otherwise the damn things just linger there until you kill the system, which is far easier said than done as previously posters have already noted. Didn't spot this as I just suspended the VM.

At least Internet Explorer 10 makes a better stab at supporting HTML5 than IE 10 however two different versions with two different ways of operating them on one computer is just adding mindless confusion to the already messy experience.

Currently I'm far from taken with the entire experience but will continue pressing on as it's easy to dislike change for the sake of it and there's likely to be some good points in there somewhere.

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BBC iPlayer boss: smart TVs not sufficiently simple

Nick Ryan
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Sensible Friday?

Is this Sensible Friday or something?

Simplify consumer kit so it works easily and setup is quick? Pah! That's not the computer way. You should *require* a degree is something technical to be able to figure out which of the identical sockets you need to connect using cables that neither the TV manufacturer nor the Set Top Box manufacturer included in the package.

Next, it should be as hard as possible to do anything on the user interface other than watch streamed adverts. All users appreciate shiny flashy things trying to sell them stuff when all they want to do is something quite simple and specific, therefore these functions should be hidden and visually clouded as much as possible by advertising. All the better if the user can be given a cheap rectangular infra-red remote that barely works from 3' away and even then has a 1 second latency on anything happening in response to a button press. Old people? If they can't get with the times then they aren't worthy of modern TV and therefore shouldn't be permitted to use it.

</sarcasm>

Seriously though, most TV interfaces I've come across are terrible and while, being technical, I can cope with them (despite wanting to frequently throw the remote at the set), elderly people such as grand parents tend to have an awful time with them. It's not just the cheap freeview boxes than are like this either, many of the more pricey boxes confound all non-technical users.

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Ubuntu 12.04 hits beta, brings smooth Unity for marching masses

Nick Ryan
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Some bits of unity are OK, but there are glaring holes in the usabilty of the damn thing...

* Usability has fallen off the wrong end of the scale for a large chunk of the functionality. WTF do we need to remember arcane key presses or mouse locations just to do standard functions.

* Huge chunks of preferences have disappeared from the normal system. This makes doing basic configuration a bitch when it should be made easy. Yes, you can still access the old tools but you have to rummage around the file system or use the (not obvious at all) launcher.

* Windowing is a bitch. Windows are placed over the idiot launch bar, which periodically appears and hides as it feels fit. Move to click on a window button (i.e. close) and often you'll find you've just launched (or switched to) the app that happened to be in the same position on the bar that's just popped up. If the launch bar could be made to be there permanently and was separate to the windowing space for applications the system would be hugely more usable.

* Try using an idiotic "move mouse to X side of screen" in a virtual machine or remote session that's not running full screen on the local system. Yep, another interface fail.

* Applications - would be nice if it were actually possible to find the things after installing from the software centre (should it feel like working during this particular phase of the moon). Instead you have to do the ninja-fu keyboard shortcut, start typing the application name and then you can run it. Yes, you can pin it to the application bar but that's only after finding it. Whatever happened to browsing installed applications?

Not that it's all bad, but the usability failures and general level of frustration meant that I gave up after a month and switched to the classic interface instead which solved so many problems...

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UK will share passenger data with US in Euro deal

Nick Ryan
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Re: Reciprocity?

Doubt it.

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Microsoft tripped up by Blighty's techie skills gap

Nick Ryan
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Holmes

Schools don't teach Computer Science - they teach "Using Microsoft Office". The Universities have to follow on from this void of basic skills.

Microsoft win one way, but fail the other...

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Yahoo! threatens! Facebook! with! patent! spanking!

Nick Ryan
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Yahoo!

They're still going? After all they failed to keep up with Internet search, repeatedly butchered all attempts at delivering a portal site (and when it was partly working, butchered it again) and then murdered their webmail interface, repeatedly.

So what do Yahoo actually do now?

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Apple tells Siri rival Evi: Get a facelift and you can stay

Nick Ryan
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I'm trying to figure out if these voice controlled apps (including Siri) are better or worse than the non-native-speaking outsourced call centres I get lumbered with when attempting to contact what passes for an intelligent human when calling my bank, broadband technical support or some other faceless corporation.

The delay in response, lack of understanding of basic language (at least I don't have a strong regional accent) and inability to shift off script makes them seem worryingly similar at times.

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