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* Posts by Nick Ryan

1115 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

Say WHAT? ATVOD claims 44k Brit primary school kids look at smut online each month

Nick Ryan
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Re: And yet....

..countries such as France and Holland that have easier access to "smut" and have far more relaxed attitudes to sex in general have lower teenage pregnancies.

Go figure...

Yes, but pandering to parents that don't parent and to pretend that sex and nudity do not have a place in a modern, upstanding society is a wonderful way to appeal to idiots. Or "voters" as the politicians like to refer to them.

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Raised £350bn in crowdsourced funding? Tell me about it (not)

Nick Ryan
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Re: FruitExpert Launches Free* Online course in lemon see-sawing!

- Yougurt Weaving

I nearly applied for this course but then you made a classic marketing mistake - you outsourced your spell checking... possibly to Nigerians, which reminds me - a lost relative of mine seems to have passed away but there are difficulties in releasing his money...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: I'm sure you were railing against something

I think the rather pleasing lady was there to demonstrate that some people do have bends... and even use them. She is not a nobend.

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Windows 8 BREAKS ITSELF after system restores

Nick Ryan
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If you think the System Restore is bad, wait until you get a handle on the ball-ache mess that is "winsxs". It has to be on your system drive, will happily chew through gigabytes of valuable SSD space and there is very little sensible that can be done about it. In general it tends to always grow in size and never reduces.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Stay with Win7

I'm with you on the usability - it's hopeless on anything other than a (handheld) touchscreen device and even then not great due to the frequent reverts into desktop mode which just doesn't quite work on a handheld device...

However when it comes to reliability, I've always found it to be pretty reliable, especially since 8.1 which removed some annoying problems with settings being occasionally forgotten.

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Revealed: What the US taxman really thinks of crypto-cash Bitcoin

Nick Ryan
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Re: @Nick Ryan - @ bigtimehustler Taxing Income is Immoral and counter productive.

True. VAT is not on food yet, but it is creeping that way.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: @ bigtimehustler Taxing Income is Immoral and counter productive.

@ Graham Marsden

When you describe it like that, consumption taxes really do look bad. I'd never thought of it like that.

On the other hand, should the goods and services that a company produces not be taxable? This is what it would require to remove consumption taxes and in order to keep the same "tax income" for a government, income would have to be taxed at an extremely high rate.

Of course, we get taxed on our income, taxed when we spend, pay additional taxes for services, taxed when we save and finally taxed when we die.

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The plot to kill Google cloud: We'll rename Windows Azure to MICROSOFT Azure

Nick Ryan
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Re: Hey Satya, free tip..

True. My opinion is that they'd do much better sticking with just "Azure".

Not that sense and marketing go hand in hand with Microsoft - they had "hotmail" as a strong brand, so fucked around with the name repeatedly until now nobody is entirely sure what Microsoft call it, just that it's "not as good as it used to be" (probably through confusion rather than anything else).

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Attempting to give a damn...

Guru Meditation (error)?

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The Reg's desert XP-ocalypse aversion plan revealed

Nick Ryan
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AudioGrabber - it might be old, but it's stable and does just what is needed to rip CDs.

AgentRansack - a great way to search for, or in, files without a resource hungry indexing service. One of the few tools other than 7zip and (a restricted) Notepad++ that I routinely deploy on servers.

Picasa - works well on low powered systems and does a good job of all the basic photo manipulations you might need. You don't need to connect it online.

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It's 2014 and you can pwn a PC by opening a .RTF in Word, Outlook

Nick Ryan
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RTF allows embedding of images and Microsoft regularly get their image parsers broken allowing embedded code execution. Most likely it is this rather than the parsing of text as executable code needs to be stored and a binary (ish) image blob is ideal for this.

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Nick Ryan
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RTF is a Microsoft format created by Microsoft, for Microsoft. I believe it was introduced at some point between the Mac and DOS versions to allow them to actually exchange files as the .doc format was (surprise surprise) a bastardised binary stream mess that was changed as regularly as possible and in insane ways to ensure that competing packages couldn't use .doc files properly (and when they make a mess of them, they get the blame).

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IBM PCjr STRIPPED BARE: We tear down the machine Big Blue would rather you forgot

Nick Ryan
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Re: Floppy drives

The 3.5" drives were mostly either 720K or 1.44M. The Mac version used variable-speed rotation to squeeze 800K on an otherwise 720K disk, which made the older disks incompatible with newer drives. We ran into that when we got our first iMac--the 800K floppies for Civilization wouldn't work with any USB drives.

IIRC technically the 3'5" disks were either 1M or 2M, however the necessary formatting and index structures reduced this down somewhat. PCs were the worst for this, getting only 720k from a disk. Macs were a pain with the drives that had variable spin speeds depending on where over the surface the head was - while sounding odd this did make some sense regarding controlling the amount of data in each sector. The Amiga was pioneering in that it could interface with pretty much anything due to a commendable and open DOS (Disk Operating System) that from the start allowed different file systems, or even paramaterised file systems, to be added as long as they complied with the defined API. I vaguely remember hearing about 960K formatted disks however these had to be good quality disks or had even less reliability than normal disks. Atari STs used a largely standard 1M PC disk format.

For an exercise in enterprising programming though, the floppy drive unit for the Commodore 64 features the same processor as the Commodore 64 itself and it could be programmed to execute remote code.

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TEN THINGS Google believes you believe about Glassholes and wishes you didn't

Nick Ryan
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Re: Myth 6

Cheers for the heads up on one of the alternatives - somehow never come across these before.

While the BT-100 do have an element of cool about them... the BT-200 definitely don't. Google's Glass easily has the BT-200 beaten on looks - the lack of cable and monstrous arms helps a bit.

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Move over Microsoft: RealNetworks has a GOOGLE problem

Nick Ryan
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Re: Wow, RealPlayer.

Too true. RealPlayer has been irrelevant for a long time now.

To to add insult to injury, RealPlayer itself when embedded in IE causes all manner of problems that are strangely all solved by uninstalling RealPlayer. :) Other than the lack of crashing, does the end user notice the lack of RealPlayer? No.

When diagnosing this problem it was probably the first time that I had launched the RealPlayer application for a very long time - probably about 10 years. It doesn't seem to have improved much.

It must be hard for a business that was the size of Real to find themselves irrelevant with no real direction to head into.

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Microsoft's SQL Server 2014 early code: First look

Nick Ryan
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Re: @Nick Ryan

> Maybe even reducing some of the annoying as hell language restrictions in T-SQL?

could you clarify? am curious.

It's the inconsistencies that are annoying... such as having to explicitly define parameter vars before being able to pass values to a function rather than performing inline calculations in the call itself. In T-SQL There's a whole host of missing of annoyingly limited string manipulating functions requiring slow workarounds (string manipulation in T-SQL defines a new kind of epic slow more accurately measured on a glacial cycle), even down to there's LTRIM() and RTRIM(), but no TRIM() and my "favourite" is the 4k char limit on PRINT (yes, dumping 100k chars out of the terminal might be stupid, but let me do it if I need to please).

When you've developed in as many languages as I have, it's these kind of stupid things in any one of them really annoy!

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Nick Ryan
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I've been wondering what was coming up next in MS-SQL land... but really couldn't summon the self-loathing to look it up.

So... in-memory databases where you can't use some very common SQL statements / operators. Thanks for that Microsoft... play catch up with other RDMSs and just fail to implement anything useful, that just sounds rather too typical.

More stuff for MS-Cloud... not exactly a surprise. Easy backup or sync to MS-Cloud would be useful, except for the pending legal and ethical minefield of exporting data outside of the EU. Would be nice if MS could make features such as these vendor neutral, but we know that will never happen as all they exist for these days is to push everybody onto MS subscription services.

So MS, instead how about actually fully supporting SQL standards, such as those from 1999? Maybe even reducing some of the annoying as hell language restrictions in T-SQL? Maybe even adjusting the management interface so it is easy to find useful information rather than trawling through three or four otherwise unrelated windows full of unsorted and otherwise impossible to filter options? Improving the performance through optimising the software would be nice too: new hardware <> optimisation.

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It's not just incredibly hard, it's really quite pretty: Dark Souls II

Nick Ryan
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Re: I'm a crap gamer and sore loser..

I tried it for a bit and was more likely to fling the gamepad controller through the screen rather than anything else. Is it available on PC and has the irritating as hell control method been fixed? (Why review anything and not say what platform's it's available on or the RRP?) While you can get used to it after a while, the gamepad controller always felt entirely deficient.

While it's undoubtedly very pretty, I found in general that it felt very linear and forced. Yes, it may look like a forest but it's no different to a cave just with different wall textures, although if there's a chance of dying stupidly you won't often find invisible barriers to bounce against. Much of the time there didn't feel that there was any more depth than many much older adventure games, just a graphical skin on top of it all. A good looking graphical skin though that didn't detract from the game with ridiculous particle and glow effects.

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App.net 'not just a way for nerds to talk to each other', boss tells nerds

Nick Ryan
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Re: In before

Don't worry - I will use it if paid in naked women and gold products.

Suddenly I feel very cheap.

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Behold, the TITCHY T-REX that prowled the warm Arctic of long ago

Nick Ryan
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Re: Lets clone it.

Yes, but how noisy is the critter? It must somehow live in a quiet cul-de-sac...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Scientists & Marketing

It's Biomedical then Engineering(*) and then "others". Between Biomedical and Engineering the rest of the funding is little more than a rounding error.

* Engineering includes topics such as carbon nanotubes and graphene.

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That NSA denial in full: As of right now, we're not pretending to be Facebook or Twitter

Nick Ryan
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Re: lol

Not sure about the large red nose. How about a nose that, for some utterly inexplicable reason, appears to regularly get longer?

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FANBOIS' EYES ONLY: United Airlines offers FREE MOVIES on iOS kit

Nick Ryan
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Re: Android

Anyway, United is a terrible airline. Got an "upgrade" last year and honestly can't say what the difference was between that and cattle class.

The difference is that you paid more for it? Erm, nope - can't honestly say I saw a difference either. Although at one point a dirty curtain is pulled to separate you from those that didn't pay for it. If you could tell the difference...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Android #fail

Didn't it say that they had to download and use the UA app for this? If so, what has this got to do with the OS features and Android having to have an App?

There are plenty of cross platform streaming libraries out there for precisely this kind of purpose and to ensure that device OS coverage is as wide as possible.

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SATANIC 'HELL DIAMOND' tells of sunless subterranean sea

Nick Ryan
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Re: Flour

That was a close call there. For one moment I thought you were about to mention... no wait... dammit, I nearly did it myself.

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BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

Nick Ryan
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Re: Never 6ft away from pliers

Being within 6ft of pliers is all very well. It's being able to reach the bastards after you're dropped them, for the second time, down a chute which you have to disassemble to retrieve them. Usually you'll require pliers to disassemble this chute...

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UK's CASH POINTS to MISS Windows XP withdrawal date

Nick Ryan
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As big spending customers they have too much leverage for M.S. to piss them off.

It's more fundamental than that. The banks have Microsoft's money...

Nice bank balance you have there, it would be a shame if anything were to happen to it...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Applying business logic

That was exactly my thought when it comes to the updates. Technically they are compliant.

Also:

* It's not as if Windows XP will suddenly become more vulnerable than it is now.

* These systems run a modularised version of Windows XP with as much of the crud as is possible uninstalled or, in the worst cases, disabled. I have configured and deployed Windows XP like this as it is rock solid and the number of vectors for external attack is minimal. For example, you're vulnerable on the fundamental IP networking stack and your own application listening on this.

* These systems are individually firewalled to control the incoming and outgoing routes of data.

As for why XP? Because of the ease of development and the advantages a "mature" OS brings when it comes to the level and depth of device drivers. While a more restrictive OS would generally provide more security, given that there could be dozens of printer variants to support, dozens of card readers, dozens of screens and so on, separating the application and the device through the OS is the right way to go.

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Satisfy my scroll: El Reg gets claws on Windows 8.1 spring update

Nick Ryan
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Re: As if this will make people happy!

There is nothing "new" for you to jump through in Windows 8 if you've actually bothered to learn the keyboard shortcuts. Which is, incidentally, what you're supposed to do. (Mice are the biggest cause of RSI, not keyboards. You really aren't supposed to use them all the time.)

This may be an ideal, however MS have been steadily hiding keyboard shortcuts in windows and their applications, making them less obvious and often removing them entirely.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: As if this will make people happy!

Not really. It would cost £2K per processor I wanted to run it on and I'd have to re-pay yearly or they'd sue me.

You forgot the bit about the documentation being extra, the product being obsolete and unsupported after a year leaving a system with serious functional and security holes. And you'll still be expected to pay per processor, or even per core, for this until you paid for an upgrade and continued again. Just with higher costs.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: As if this will make people happy!

(and part 2)

If you kept shooting down all these arguments eventually you'd get to the nicely indefinable ones as people got more defensive. Such as "context switching is disorientating". Oh, grow a brain! You can handle the Start Menu but the Start Screen appearing causes you context disorientation?

See the above point about good user interfaces allowing a user to maintain their point of reference within an interface. Break this and you break the interface. It's not about "growing a brain", it's about producing a good interface in the first place. So it's not about the start screen causing disorientation in itself, it's about where you wind up afterwards in an entirely separate and dysfunctional interface.

I'm not a genius and I seem to manage it fine.

Please don't... I'm struggling right now with this invitation :)

Or "it looks like a child's toy". Well you can't argue against taste so that's fine, but you can set all the panels to grey if you want. It's not a functional argument as to why 8 is objectively worse.

I will admit that its appalling appearance is a subjective point. However the poor design's impact on usability can be objectively measured with time taken for users to find what they want and an aggregate survey of their subjective opinions.

Oh and lets not forget the video of some chap struggling to launch IE because his son didn't tell him the very basic fact that you can get the Start Screen from clicking in the lower left - something that Windows tells you the first time you start up. Never mind that the moment he was shown this he was fine. Never mind that I could find someone who would struggle with a Fischer-Price toy and video them if I wanted to. This apparently became evidence of how flawed Windows 8 was.

It is good evidence of a single instance of a serious flaw. A good interface should be obvious and consistent. There is no such thing as purely obvious when it comes to user interface design, however "adheres to expectations" is the closest we can get to. These are expectations such as a "button" indicates an action (not a hidden arbitrary section of a screen or a mouse right click) and that triggering these gives an indication of success (a poor design will leave the user wondering if the button they pressed worked). Consistency is where you learn something non-obvious but apply it throughout, for example you love the function of the Windows Key (I do too), however if this was removed in a later version of Windows, subverted in certain applications or drastically turned around (e.g. "Windows key now launches Internet Explorer, your portal for everything") would you be happy and appreciate this? Similarly a button with a green tick on it indicates acceptance, a button with a red cross on it indicates rejection. Simple things but without consistency they become worthless.

I feel deeply sorry for the MS engineers. They produced something that was well-thought out, objectively improved in many areas, still had the same capabilities of its predecessors, and when it was unveiled, a large section of the IT community (who should be open to change as much as anyone), did nothing but pour hate and abuse at what they'd worked on.

Some of the MS engineers did a great job. As in those that worked on the stability and reliability of the core Operating System, a chunk of this I suspect was removal of support for archaic hardware (VM installs of earlier versions of Windows that do not have this legacy crud are also more stable and run and boot considerably faster). Unfortunately those ultimately responsible for the User Interface (User Experience) should be taken to a dark alley and shot as a favour to humanity.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: As if this will make people happy!

Let's deal with this step by step: Apologies for the length, but I'd rather tackle everything...

Example, the endless mantra that Windows 8 penalized mouse and keyboard users. Windows 8 was better for mouse and keyboard users. Any serious user should have already been in the habit of launching programs by tapping the Windows key (which is permanently a centimetre away from your left hand when using the keyboard) and typing the first few letters of what you want. Want Control Panel? Win-key + 'con'. I can literally launch it in under a second. And this search-launch function works faster in Windows 8 than in 7. Additionally, it includes documents and settings in the search. And people claim that it's all designed around Touch? What I've just described is faster than reaching for a display.

Windows 8, and in particular the Microsoft applications that come with it further devalue the keyboard and the mouse. Many keyboard shortcuts have silently removed. Only minor ones such as Ctrl-C, Ctrl-X and Ctrl-V. These no longer work and a user is forced to right click to copy, cut or paste text - admittedly this does favour the mouse but it requires a user to change hands and switch concentration to a different input device.

The mouse pointer is not a substitute for a touch interface, it is not possible to "fling" elements around in the same was as one can with a touch. The mouse scroll button does not scroll the UI elements that can only be scrolled by touch, using a largely hidden scroll bar that's too small or repeatedly clicking forward / back buttons (which are sometimes hidden until you guess the exact spot on screen).

A "normal" user does not operate a computer like a keyboard obsessed geek. A "normal" user tends to use a computer as a tool to perform the limited array of tasks they require. They don't give a monkey's what the name of the application they are looking for actually is (it is likely to also deal with their spelling mistakes), however they have learnt that the green "X" signifies Excel (or spreadsheets), the blue "W" signifies Word (or writing in some form) and the orange "O" signifies Outlook, but they'd prefer it was "E" for email. They also recognise "E" as "Internet", (another great mismatch). These normal users look for the visual clues that a visual user interface should be giving them - things like clear indications of their commonly used applications, what is a button and what is not and how to close an application or just shut down the computer.

And if for some reason you're too conditioned by older versions of Windows to adapt to using the keyboard and insist on launching something with the mouse.

The mouse was introduced to ease navigation in a graphical environment for average users. Yet you are already demonstrating crass stupidity in assuming that all users want to use the keyboard (searching for the letter to press each time) and would prefer this instead to clear functions being presented visually for them to choose from. Much like real life interactions - you look at a display of fruit on a stall and select from what is available, you'd be ****ed off if the display of fruit was hidden and you'd have to type on an unrelated the name of the fruit that you'd like without knowing what is available or sometimes even what the name might actually be. It's not a great example, but applicable enough as icon imagery is there to show a user what functions or options are available and the mouse is there to make it easier for the visual link between what you want and how to get it.

Well for those people who really struggle to adapt, mouse approach is also faster than in 7. In both cases [snip]more ranting about keyboard[/snip], you have to move the mouse to the lower left. This too is easier in Windows 8 because in Windows 7 you have to move it only so far and stop on the Start menu, so you must control your mouse movement. In 8 you just whip it to the lower left corner where it will stop by itself. Controlled movement is slower than uncontrolled movement and don't try to say that the extra few pixels travel offsets that because any honest person can try it right now (go ahead - see how fast you can move the mouse to the lower left corner compared to how fast you can move it to a small rectangle near but not at the lower left corner. And don't respond to this point until you've tried it).

So you are recommending that a user, as in a normal person, should somehow magically know that there is a hidden function in the bottom left hand corner of the screen, clicking on which will solve all of their problems? You are quite correct about the difference between constrained and unconstrained movement, but before attacking others and suggesting that they try it, you do realise that Windows 7 works exactly the same way? Yes, you can fling the mouse into the bottom left hand corner of the screen and click on the clear visual indicator. On the "constraint" of options being a very useful tool - a set of visual function indicators gives a neat, constrained list of options and is much better than a keyboard free type search of "everything". I actually like the ability to search everything with ease, but this should be seen as a useful tool and extension, not a crutch for a unusable user interface.

I regularly use a lot of different programs - far more than most. I counted them and the come to 27. My Start Screen has space for around fifty on the desktop machine, and around thirty-five on my old laptop. You know what that means? No navigating up and down menus carefully like the Start Menu. Which could pin a finite amount of things - I can't remember how many but it was less than the Start Screen on even my laptop. Again, it's faster and easier to whip the mouse to a large icon in the screen (and they're grouped by function too!) than it is to go to a menu option in the Start Menu, wait for the sub-menu to appear, move to the option you want, etc.

You have very succinctly proven you exact problem. You class yourself as a "power user". Guess what? 99.999% of Windows are not power users. They don't run 27 different applications, they don't care about such things. For most users a PC is a glorified typewriter that has the advantage that it comes with Internet and Email access.

But no, people clapped their hands over their ears and shouted "a UI designed for touch on a non-touch interface is stupid!" Never mind the facts, they'd found something to be angry about.

A UI designed on a non-touch interface is not stupid... it's mind bogglingly fuckwit stupid. I first developed touch interfaces over ten years ago and I can assure you, it is not extremely difficult to produce a combined interface that works well with both. It does introduce a lot of restrictions and in the end you either have a restricted interface (touch) or a much less restricted interface (mouse / keyboard). The chief difficulties are that a mouse is much more accurate as the hit point is more precise and a user does not have their hand / finger in the way and a mouse has two or three standard buttons allowing consistent selection / menu actions. Not that right click menus are exactly great from the UX point of view, however they are an established standard and are a good tool for providing additional control at the point of use compared to a user having to find the same control elsewhere in menus / buttons further away from the focus of interest. The point about them not being great for users is very pertinent when you realise than a great many users just don't know that right click menus exist...

The list of stupid objections was endless. The Start Screen would obscure what was on the page. Right - so you navigate the Start Menu without looking at it do you and without stopping from reading what you're reading in the main window? Of course you do...

I'll give you this point, but only on the very narrow aspect of looking at a modal interface (popup window) that either covers the screen or just prevents you from using the rest of the screen without disappearing. The poor thing about the new start screen is that it is a) ugly as sin (subjective of course, and it does depend on the content), b) is a poor way to locate what you want as it's invariably full of junk, which lead onto c) removes all of the useful features that have been built up in previous incarnations of windows. Such as Most Recently Used documents and applications, pinned items, sorted items, indicators for new items and so on. It's not that the old start menu was great, it's that the new one is a functional step backwards.

Or how about that opening a PDF would, by default, launch the Metro PDF reader causing the poor confused user into the Hell of Metro land where they would flounder helplessly. I heard that one loads of times. So switch the default app for PDFs, I'd say. It's just right-click on the file. But users wont know how to do that - they just want to read their PDF. Uh, you do know that Adobe Reader isn't part of Windows 7, right? That if the user just does it on Windows 7 it wont even open at all - just ask them if they want to install something that will read it? Uh, well, they respond. Some OEMs pre-installed Adobe Reader. Yeah, and they can do the same on Windows 8. Stop trying so hard to find things to struggle with.

Again you're thinking about a non-average user. An average user will just hate the mind jar switch to a deficient interface and the mind jar of how to get back to where they were previously (this is mind mapping allowing a user to visualise and refer to their position within an interface - it's a key user interface point and break it and you will confuse users).

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Does Apple's iOS 7 make you physically SICK? Try swallowing version 7.1

Nick Ryan
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Re: @Nick Ryan - "they do have a habit of stitching up the older devices"

@ Chairo - I was more thinking about the OS itself rather than the applications themselves. But it is down to the app developers as to what they support.

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Nick Ryan
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Finally, now that is a big improvement and hopefully something will carry through to the older iPads as well.

While a lot of people praise Apple for updating their own OS on their own Devices much faster than the often no-updates from of a Carrier updating their ghastly hacks on top of a Device Manufacturer's hacks on top of a common OS provided by another party... they do have a habit of stitching up the older devices. In marketing terms, it's the user's fault for not upgrading of course, and is therefore a prompt (stick) to upgrade for the new features in a new device (carrot).

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Projector on a smartphone? There's a chip for that

Nick Ryan
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Re: How do they propose to mount this on the head of a shark?

The problem is that with this tech you're more likely to be bored to death by the powerpoint "presentation" delivered by the shark mounted laser projector than any time delayed (important to allow the chance of escape) groin dissecting high power laser that's strangely visible as a line in the air...

Death by powerpoint is a most foul, cruel and evil way to kill people but it could take a long time as most people are either immune to this by now (natural selection in action) or have adequate survival techniques already developed.

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Women! You too can be 'cool' and 'fun' if you work in tech!

Nick Ryan
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Re: Suspicious Savings Stats Spotted

My thoughts to. How can employing more people of a specific gender specifically save money?

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Nick Ryan
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Re: The bleedin' obvious reason...

Next: Campaigns bemoaning that fact that 100% of jobs are occupied by humans.

I'm very, very sure that they aren't. Not sure what species they are, but human they ain't.

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X marks the... They SAID there was a mystery planet there – NASA

Nick Ryan
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Re: 1.49597871 × 10^15m

How many brontosaurus's is that?

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/08/24/vulture_central_standards/

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Nick Ryan
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Re: 1.49597871 × 10^15m

Blah, blah blah... but what is that in Register Units? :)

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Get out your Allen keys: Facebook's cooked up flat-pack bit barns

Nick Ryan
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I find IKEA is a worthwhile place to look around but only if you can stand the forced routing around their stores without going on a killing rampage (particularly after the piped music in their car parks), however it's often better to look and then buy elsewhere. This isn't always the case though as IKEA do genuinely produce some gems, but you have to be careful as they also push a lot of junk.

However I avoid flat pack furniture as much as reasonably possible, preferring my furniture to have rigidity other than being retro fitted with stiffeners, additional glue and nails or attached to a wall. The last free standing bedroom furniture I bought was custom made to order from a local furniture maker - it cost only 20% more than the equivalent flat pack, was made to our specifications and is well built so you don't feel that everytime you put something in a drawer the front will either fall off or the drawer base will collapse.

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What do you mean there are no Surface Pros? HAND 'EM OVER, yell Microsoft resellers

Nick Ryan
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These things are a bit of an oddity...

Touch in windows 8 still sucks even though much of the user interface in Windows 8 (8.1) has been murdered to be "touch friendly", when configuring them you frequently have to head back to desktop applications so you can actually get some things properly configured. Such as networking... In essence, the entire Windows 8.1 shell feels and acts like yet another MS bodge job, massacred by clueless UX developers, further trounced by greedy, clueless marketing department drones and then rushed out half implemented.

It's not helped that, as noted by Steve Knox above, their specifications are just wrong for the price. For rather less money you can get a considerably more useful and powerful laptop which while this sounds daft, from experience most users want a keyboard with their Surface devices which basically means that they instantly turn into under powered, over priced laptops. The staggering inefficiency of the Windows OS and typical Windows applications really doesn't help them as the raw specifications and processing power does exceed competing tablets, but the final result just isn't the same.

As much as I hate the Windows 8 interface on a desktop PC, it does make sense in use on a touchscreen tablet as the interface conforms more to tablet expectations (which are rather different to desktop or server expectations). I'd like to be able to run windows, or at least some windows applications, in a tablet form factor and the business case of multiple users and easy access to files and documents makes a strong case for them compared to iPads (forget it) or Android tablets (much easier, but no corporate control). But again, even Microsoft's flagship application Office is awful on a tablet as the user interface has been massacred - except for the bits that they couldn't be bothered to update of course, these still popup with the same old desktop windows. The result is MS Office on a tablet feels like just another MS Office skin-refresh bodge job with restricted functionality and poor usability therefore users tend to use the desktop version and for that they require a keyboard and mouse. Touch does substitute for a mouse in a lot of situations but pair a keyboard with a tablet and what do you get? Yep, a laptop of sorts...

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Om Nom Nom Nom: AWS to eat Windows Server 2012 VMs

Nick Ryan
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Azure recently overtook AWS to become the largest cloud Windows Server hoster...

Really? Sources please.

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Why can’t I walk past Maplin without buying stuff I don’t need?

Nick Ryan
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He keeps a box of unnecessary cable extensions, adapters and gadgets under his desk at home, another in the garage and three more at work, despite the fact that half the contents are racing towards obsolescence while the other half is so old and pointless that they could be sold as collectors’ items.

Ah, erm. I think I may, just possibly, on a tiniest smidgin of an off-chance... have a similar affliction.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: RS?

(see icon). git.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Gotta' love Maplin

I presume you are implying that your shed has better decor... and if it's a proper man-shed, heating as well.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: The catalogue...

Oh hell yes, now I remember the resistor colour codes... in black and white. And other gems such as sample circuits that somehow got mirrored in printing or not-so-carefully (or was it a ploy to buy more) skipped power regulating components.

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Crack Euro banker team to probe whether virtual currencies should be regulated

Nick Ryan
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Re: Let's ask bankers

Yep, I see your point with the finite number of bitcoins, eventually they will start to be worth more and more. Particularly as time goes by, more will go out of circulation either through being lost or hoarded.

I didn't mean that money being created required actual money to be printed or minted, it's that in order to have growth the extra money must come from somewhere. The daft modern fixation with perpetual economic growth is impossible without the new money that this growth "creates" coming from somewhere otherwise there is in reality no growth as existing money is just be recirculated and through attrition gradually lost, in a very similar manner to the finite number of bitcoins. While the banks like to create money through loaning money that they don't actually have (yet), there is only one final result with this scheme and that is an economic collapse, one of which we have recently experienced when banks were lending each other the promise of money in a self-perpetuating circle and it caught up with them.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Let's ask bankers

When it comes to it, QE is nothing more than marketing speak for "create more money out of thin air". It's dressed up in various ways but this is all it is, there are no tangible assets behind it which just leaves promises to honour it.

As for the Bitcoin fans who keep banging on about inflation, Bitcoin has built-in deflation, which is worse. That certainly means it can never be a fully-fledged currency, as it makes proper banking pretty much impossible.

Bitcoins have no more "deflation", or perhaps more accurately "de-valuation" than any other currency and it probably has less and is also more open about it. In order to maintain the financial illusion that an economy is growing new money must be continually created - it used to be gold mines providing the scarce raw materials for the coinage but we no longer operate on a gold based economy. Think about it... if new money was not continually created then after a while the money would start to pool in the possession of the "rich" and there would be a scarcity of it at the "poor" end which doesn't really benefit anyone in the end as those with little money still need money to continue their "low value" transactions between each other. Taxation is one mechanism to force money back into circulation through the taxing organisation taking the money and redistributing it by spending it - which, incidentally, is where the theory of central government spending its way out of a recession comes into play as it stimulates the economy through the distribution of money to those who don't have so much of it. Importantly this tactic fails utterly when it's a case of distributing the money in such a way where it's impact to the wider populace is very low... such as the money leaving the country (this is why some countries historically had a prohibition on the export of money).

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Even HTTPS can leak your PRIVATE browsing

Nick Ryan
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So this is where an attacker profiles a target website, going through it and recording the document requests and the number and size of the data requests being returned. In other words something like "going to page X triggers Y separate requests of a particular size". The number and size of the resources requested are likely to differ between pages and the pattern of page progression will also indicate the page on the site, such as a user will typically follow a pattern of page visits because that is how the site is designed.

Clever enough stuff, but it does require that the site is already profiled, probably extensively and a few times... and no doubt regularly in case the site makes changes. This does limit the vector on this approach quite substantially.

The fix, of course, is to make either the page progression vary (pissing off users and making the website hard to use) or to vary the number and size of requests for each page in a site wide randomisation plan. If the website always produces, eg, 25 requests for each page and they are a consistent size then it'll be impossible to track the page progression.

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BT's IPv6 EXPIRED security certificate left to rot on its website

Nick Ryan
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Re: Implementation of IPv6 is a farce..

You wouldn't believe how many Internet projects I come across that have exactly the same kind of blind arrogance like this. It's enough to give the entire industry a bad name... :)

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