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* Posts by Nick Ryan

1380 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this

Nick Ryan
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Even with a common wireless interface, successfully updating all of them and verifying that the updates have all been applied to each of them isn't going to be a fun task. Having worked with mass update devices (admittedly the last production devices was a rather badly designed IR update process, the next gen were wireless or wired), there are always some devices that just fail to update and identifying and tracking down these devices makes for a tedious day.

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Nick Ryan
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While you are essentially correct in that these could have been modelled in software, and doubtless the initial basic programming was, it is only through creating the physical devices and letting them roam that all of the foibles, annoyances and damn stupid gotchas really come out. This real learning is then fed back into the software model which can be refined and then (typically) pushed out to the physical devices for the next tests. Upgrading the software on a few devices is usually annoying, 1k of them very much so.

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FEAST YOUR EYES: Samsung's Galaxy Alpha has an 'entirely new appearance'

Nick Ryan
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Re: is that what ElReg sarcasm looks like

I don't know why anyone even bothers selling devices with reflective screens in Aus. They ain't going to beat the sun.

By reflective I presume you mean shiny screens? These are brighter than matt screens - just the fact that a screen is matt blocks out some of the light.

Far better for daylight is to have a genuinely reflective display such as e-ink rather than a transmissive (light emitting) display such as the usual OLED / LED displays. However reflective displays are not so useful in the dark and colour accuracy depends entirely on the light source you are lighting it with. Now if somebody could create a display that could switch from transmissive to reflective as required...

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No Apple fanbois here: Man United BANS iPads from Old Trafford

Nick Ryan
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Re: Terrorism

Hell yeah. What short story is this from? Where the spectators* were given mirrored match day programs.

* I vaguely remember that the spectators were generally all police / military as well.

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Hollywood star Robin Williams dies of 'suspected suicide' at 63

Nick Ryan
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Happy

One of the great things about this thread is that here, on El Reg, various commentards, many long established, are (relatively) publicly revealing the pain they have been through with depression, either with themselves or somebody close to them.

If just one person reads these posts and takes positive action to turn their life around then that's an amazing, positive thing. Even more so on a sarcastic, often blunt, forum on an technical Internet news site.

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Nick Ryan
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Not sure where that line comes from, but here's an analysis of the phrase and a shameless plug for an organisation that can help: http://www.suicide.org/permanent-solution-to-a-temporary-problem.html.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Mork Calling Orson

"Sad news. When will we take mental health seriously?"

Where shall we begin? Help begins with family, friends and professional counsellors who are trained how to help people get out of their mental ruts / holes / whatever... the sufferer is the only one that can stop the depression but they often need the help of others and may often be unwilling to ask for help or even to accept the problem, particularly men. Except in rather rare cases, prescribing drugs for depression is not the way forward, however it is the way that far too many (substandard) GPs treat it. Along with antibiotics for colds.

The really sad part is the statement "Williams' publicist Mara Buxbaum said the actor had battled severe depression in recent months". Where was the help?

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Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner: Capital is top target for computer thieves, say police

Nick Ryan
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Re: People just don't get it....

It's worse than just that, it's the way many people (mainly women) have open bags with such multi-hundred pound devices lying around on top, along with purse, keys, travel cards and anything else they may need at a moment's notice. For pickpockets (more "pick-bags"?) it's probably like shooting fish in a barrel, one quick brush past and a palm off to an accomplice (who also masks the act from sight of others) and they're done.

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Why hackers won't be able to hijack your next flight - the facts

Nick Ryan
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Re: The communication system sounds similar to CAN-BUS

I was keeping with the terminology in use in other posts (which wasn't especially a good idea), but you are correct - there are many senders. There is only one active "master" allowed though.

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Nick Ryan
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The communication system sounds similar to CAN-BUS

The communication system sounds similar to CAN-BUS - a relatively sane system designed to operate in (signal) noisy environments, originally automotive but now a lot of industrial. Similarly you have only have one active "sender" on the network, devices are communicated with using a time-sliced / QoS communications scheme and much of the communications is uni-directional, including asynchronous, synchronous or watchdog communications. Devices (nodes) can be configured to communicate with each other automatically and nodes can be configured to only publish the very limited interfaces that you want or need to publish. Restricting such communications to very clearly defined, tight interfaces makes the things very hard to hack and this is true of any communications system between devices or systems.

(I spent a few years working with CAN-Open, which is effectively the same as CAN and very similar to many other industrial or signal-noisy control systems.)

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Can't touch this! Microsoft joins OpenGL 3D graphics group

Nick Ryan
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Re: Microsoft on security.. Pot calling kettle black...

To be fair, there are and have been a lot of genuine security concerns regarding OpenGL generally because of the programmability extensions and how these interact rather too directly with the hardware from the security point of view. 3D graphics programmability was never built with security in mind, doubtless because being a local task running on a local machine the system's security was in trouble anyway and adding security checks does slow things down a lot which is generally the exact opposite of 3D graphics programming aims.

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Nick Ryan
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Eek.

Before we know it... Microsoft will release Internet Explorer for Android...

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Crypto Daddy Phil Zimmerman says surveillance society is DOOMED

Nick Ryan
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Re: Defeat of slavery

To add a few quick points that are almost always neglected regarding slavery, most important of which was that slavery was not a racial based process of the "evil white men" enslaving all the "poor black men".

  • There were more "white" slaves than "black" slaves.
  • The European slaving nations - England, Spain, The Netherlands etc, did not go into Africa and enslave the locals. They bought the locals from other locals who were more than willing to sell different castes, ethinicities, religious adherents, the unwanted, the poor or pretty much anybody else who couldn't argue strongly enough.
  • The abolition of the (largely) trans-atlantic slave trade did not stop the slave trade, unfortunately it only stopped what had become one of its largest markets at that time.
  • Most slaves were not mistreated, many regions had very strong slave protection laws which ensured an adequate level of care for slaves. While this was partly financially motivated, it's important not to forget that the many of the slave owners in "the new world" were strongly religious and while this might not mean seeing slaves as equals, it did promote compassionate care. However I have read that "black" slaves were considered harder working or more valuable than "white" slaves, and were therefore treated better.
  • Many slaves were volunteers, opting for slavery over starvation and death. While not a great choice, it was choosing life over almost certain death.

Not to condone slavery at all, but so much seems to be commonly omitted. Not least, that there are more slaves in the world now than there ever have been at any other time in history.

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Microsoft throws old versions of Internet Explorer under the bus

Nick Ryan
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Re: Best Browser

Sorry but total fail to any IT professional recommending Chrome.

I know. They should be using Lynx instead.

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Stalwart hatchback gets a plug-in: Volkswagen e-Golf

Nick Ryan
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Re: Maybe not the whole car....

Reliability aside, the heated windscreens do work well. Although initially I habitually found that I had focussed my eyes on the wires rather than the road....

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London cops cuff 20-year-old man for unblocking blocked websites

Nick Ryan
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Re: Sometimes we need to download to watch the film

Disney are one of the worst as they abuse the "you may not skip this" DVD functionality to foist trailers on the viewers. One of the great things about DVDs compared to the old VHS tapes was that you didn't have to fast forward through 30m of crap just to get to the film, however Disney reintroduced this by abusing the DVD standard.

I have a pile of unopened Disney DVDs and just watch downloaded copies instead as a result.

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Nick Ryan
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"Commenting on the arrest, FACT Director Kieron Sharp argues that these proxy sites and services are just as illegal as the blocked sites themselves. "

Which, translating from legal weaselese is a statement of nothing at all:

  • If the blocked sites themselves are legal then these proxy sites are also legal.
  • If the blocked sites themselves are of questionable legality then these proxy sites are also of questionable legality.
  • If the blocked sites themselves are illegal then these proxy sites are also illegal.

AFAIK the sites themselves are not strictly illegal, however they have been blocked by civil orders anyway.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: What law has been broken.

You can't - Copyright isn't a document or some other tangible object that you have lying around anywhere therefore it is impossible to steal Copyright. Copyright violation... well that's quite a different matter but doesn't make for the right sounding propaganda.

I'm all for creators being adequately rewarded, and the enablers and promoters that they may require being adequately rewarded as well, but starting off with a lie is not the right way to start these things.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Jolly good work.

This was the City of London cops. They're not "real" police, they are corporate police. Real policing in London is carried out by the Metropolitan Police although technically within the City of London's area the City of London cops are also responsible for real policing.

Good to see that in a "raid", a private individual from the Federation Against Copyright ViolationTheft, a private for-profit organisation funded by large studios, was invited along for the ride.

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Microsoft OneDrive tip-off leads to arrest over child abuse images

Nick Ryan
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Re: In the end...

Ouch, that's not a fun job but it is critical that a human is involved somewhere along the line as a sanity check. Some of the shit that the police do come across is pretty foul, and in just an average visit to a police station incident room you'll often see pictures that you'd rather forget.

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Brit kids match 45-year-old fogies' tech skill level by the age of 6

Nick Ryan
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"For years there has been a very stubborn resistance by the over 65s to accessing the internet," said James Thickett, research director at Ofcom. "In the last three years we have seen that change and we think that's down to tablets."

Could this perhaps be due to the passage of time? In other words, those at the top end of the age scale have a habit of dying, taking their lack of technological know-how with them, but with the progress of time, the under 65s (who are generally more tech savvy) are now joining the over 65s.

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It's WAR: Internet of Stuff firms butt heads over talking-fridge tech standards

Nick Ryan
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Re: Lactose larceny

Add green food dye to your milk. It tends to put the milk thieves off... :)

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Nick Ryan
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Numbers, numbers, numbers...

Gartner has predicted that the Internet of Odds and Ends market will add $1.9trn to the global economy by 2020

Other than Gartner coming up with an arbitrary number as usual ("making numbers up for whoever pays us since 1979" really ought to be their tagline), can somebody tell me just where this money will materialise from? "Services" is just a redistribution of money, Internet of Stuff won't create money, it will just create another avenue for redistributing it.

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What's that? A PHP SPECIFICATION? Surely you're joking, Facebook

Nick Ryan
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Re: PHP is like democracy

...except that PHP's (initial) implementation of Objects was created through a third hand inept description of what Objects are. The whole thing feels like "we've heard about Objects, but barely understood them, therefore we implemented them like this"... and then changed their minds a year later and bodged another layer on top of it all.

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Government's 'Google Review' copyright rules become law

Nick Ryan
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Re: I invent a cure for cancer.....

I knock up song about it in an afternoon. For that I get protection of death plus seventy years.

Well, your publisher does anyway...

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'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece

Nick Ryan
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Re: It'll be messy

IoT = the internet

IoT = M2M - Machine to Machine communications. It's just that the devices might happen to use the Internet to communicate - which is where the serious security fails come from...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Not surprised, but...

It's easier to understand what is going on and what can be done if you ignore the marketing rebrand that's basically all that IoT is. "Machine To Machine" (M2M), is much less marketing-tard friendly.

Hence one of the comments above about home automation not requiring Internet connections, just some form of communication medium in the home.

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SOULLESS machine-intelligence ROBOT cars to hit Blighty in 2015

Nick Ryan
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Re: Bastards

:)

Seriously though, it actually got me wondering at the level of routing abd control that will be offered. In a human controlled car, it's very easy to slow down to a crawl for whatever reason - whether it's "shopping in a red light district", enjoying the landscape / scenery (hopefully with nobody behind you) or just trying to arrive at the in-laws as late as possible, how easy will it be to control and specify this?

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Will these night time trucking lorries

Aha! That aerodynamic bow-wave and tail-wave explanation now sheds some understanding on why, on a three lane motorway with two lorries seemingly joined together across lanes one and two at a seemingly identical speed, there is inevitably a Nissan Micra (other manufacturers and models are available) stuck blocking the outside lane and unable to overtake the lorries or pull back in behind them.

Suddenly it all becomes clear... quite unlike the motorway.

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Microsoft's Brit kid Cortana lands on UK WinPhone 8.1, but China's is the real cutie

Nick Ryan
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Is the combined US military tactical centre using her yet? What will happen when she goes sentient?

World War 3 brought to you by Clippy's descendent. "It looks like you want to topple an unfriendly regime. Would you like tactical nuclear help with that?"

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Android busted for carrying Fake ID: OS doesn't check who really made that 'Adobe' plugin

Nick Ryan
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Re: Patch cycle

That's weird, mine's been on 4.4.4 for a while now with a standard OTA patch. Didn't come through immediately the update was released as the devices are staggered but came through within a few days.

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Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations

Nick Ryan
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Re: Testing

Shouldn't even be specific server testing, it should be protocol testing where different versions of specific protocols are clearly defined, documented and proven to not interfere with each other. Ah. Clearly defined and documented? That'll be the problem here...

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Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?

Nick Ryan
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Re: Promises

This just leads to the next thought: What defines a person as Scottish? (from the nation point of view, not just a passport) Ignoring the obvious jokes (short arms, deep pockets), do you have to be born there, live there for a certain amount of time, eat a certain amount of haggis or porridge (which is more popular in England).

Bearing in mind that Highlanders tend to consider themselves separate to all Southerners, some held in more contempt than others, where does it end?

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Promises

Strangely not too dissimilar to any normal political statements.

Now where's the equivalent UK vote on whether we'd like Scotland to stay or go? It's not all about Scotland...

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Indian techies-in-training face down MAN-EATING LEOPARD - and WIN

Nick Ryan
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Re: Why wasn't there a sign on the door

The door was locked and in the basement so why bother with a sign?

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Microsoft bakes a bigger Pi to cook Windows slabs

Nick Ryan
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Re: Looks much like an ITX board only much dearer

My thoughts as well, I was playing around with small boards (ITX) years ago - even when adding a case, power supply, hard disk, memory, Operating System, and, often, a discrete graphics card, the things came out less that that price just for a board and "free" OS (if you have an ongoing subscription)

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BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff

Nick Ryan
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somebody keeps putting the dead ones back.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who suffers with that. One of the few times I appreciate the expense of the duracell batteries with the charge test strips on them.

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AWS hell no: Can Microsoft Azure sales beat Amazon's cloud?

Nick Ryan
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Re: Stifel Nicholaus?

Colour me confused, what exactly does "Stifel Nicholaus" have to do with a comparison of speculated revenues for MS Azure vs Amazon cloud?

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Australia floats website blocks and ISP liability to stop copyright thieves

Nick Ryan
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Re: And and and

You forgot to include prohibitions on the developers of development software as development software tools should be limited to prevent the creation of copyright violating theft applications. This is important as It was most certainly their original intent to allow criminals to write criminal tools that allow criminals to copy steal the content that the hard working, entirely honest and benevolent content production corporations created.

Not that I'm against the principle that the creators of content should be suitably rewarded, but so many things like this smack of laws such as the UK's 1865 "red flag act" that were pushed through by the panicking train industries to have a man with a red flag walk in front of every road vehicle that had multiple wagons (e.g. towed something).

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Nick Ryan
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Re: This is what happens when it's time to vote

There does seem to be a general sense of 'It's time for a change, so let's give the other lot a go, regardless of how far they fucked things up the last time they were in power'

It would be sad if this weren't so true in so many countries that like to claim to be democracies. It's almost as pathetic as the voters who always vote for the same political party "because I've always voted for them" - that's not democracy either, although technically it is as a voter is free to vote for who they like but it is not an intelligent use of democracy.

Those that are in power or vying for power know this and capitalise on it as much as possible as it's what gets or keeps them in a job.

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Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all

Nick Ryan
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These reactions are largely Microsoft's fault - they are pushing a decidedly sub-standard consumer targetted interface where it is not appropriate. "Metro" on a server? Not useful at all. A "Metro" notification and monitoring application that runs on a remote device and can remotely monitor one or more servers, possibly quite useful because it's a substantially different usage protocol. I dread the next release of SQL Server where they'll doubtless Metro-ify the entire management interface on the server, dumbing it down to useless levels, removing all the sortable columns and filters that are useful and if current form is maintained, replacing all error messages with "something non-optimal has happened"...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: Simplicity

The overall concept isn't entirely awful, it's the implementation of the user interface, and the all too often lack of features or functionality that often requires reverting to "desktop mode" that savages the whole thing. The "not-metro" interface fails on so many basic, elementary user interface (now usually termed User eXperience) principles that it would be laughable if it weren't coming from Microsoft who in the past put a lot of good work into UX principles. They often ignored them in their own products, but that's a different problem.

One shouldn't have to randomly thumb areas of the screen in the hope that something, or anything, interesting happens. At the elemental level a user interface should be obvious, discoverable and consistent. Once "standards" are defined somehow, it is best to stick with them even if they are not the most optimal. For example, QWERTY has been proven to not be the most optimal keyboard layout for English language users, however it is an established standard. For mobile phones, pressing a home button is an accepted and expected method to wake up a device in order to use it, if there isn't such a button then the fallback is to press a button on the side, or at worst, top, edge of the device, this button will be a singular button on its own. On the other hand, pinch to zoom is not an obvious interaction method however it is an established standard interface and works very well and it's surprising how often even experienced users try it on devices or applications that don't support it.

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Nick Ryan
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Re: One OS

Shame I can't find any pics of it, but a long while ago I read a story about a horse that had learnt to drive a (heavily) modified flat back truck. It even had its own steering wheel contraption that it could turn with its teeth.

I'll have to ask some horsey friends if they know of the best way to mount a steering wheel onto a horse...

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Nick Ryan
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Re: The Plan

However Microsoft's marketing departments don't see any particular difference between OS and kernel. Luckily there is some remaining smart in there somewhere and while the shell and underlying OS / Kernel are often mercilessly interlinked, there is some semblance of separation.

Whatever happened to an API being consistent and the innards being implemented in whatever way was appropriate. An application may have to be recompiled for each API supporting system but in an ideal world (we are still a very long way from this on most systems), that should be it.

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Microsoft confirms secret Surface will never see the light of day

Nick Ryan
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Is this a Surface Pro (x86) device rather than a Surface (ARM) device? (They may as well have intentionally set out to confuse the problem).

If it's an x86 device then because much of the useful configuration is only possible under desktop mode and the real reason why many people want such a device is to run x86 windows applications on it and not "Metro" apps, then the thing will most likely be largely unusable in that form factor. A shame really, because I remember using an x86 full windows hand-held device sometime around 1997/8 and it was very, very useful even if you wouldn't want it as a main system or do anything much productive (creative) on it.

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Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?

Nick Ryan
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Re: Old news but still not fixed!

I too have a Nexus 7, and install apps on it rather than my phone for precisely this reason - no SMS, phone dialler, etc. really restricts what apps can do. I've deleted and purged quite a few apps where it turns out that they implement cretinous behaviour such as install system notification processes, reminding you to come back to play the game and other nonsense. It's ****ing game, why does it need to know when my device starts up?

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YES: Scotland declares independence ... from the dot co dot uk empire

Nick Ryan
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Great big hairy ones at that.

So far I've yet to see any evidence of interest anywhere across the capital. The only "interest" seems to comes from those that are trying to sell them.

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Nick Ryan
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Ah yes, the wonders of hollywood rewriting history.

More "Scots" fought against William Wallace than for him and overall more English fought than Scots.

As for tartan, AIUI, it's generally a rather modern invention particularly with the concept of different patterns being unique, protected or related to certain areas. Previously it was just a name for a woven wool fabric that was traditionally patterned in horizontal / vertical patterns because it made it look more interesting and the colour consistency was generally so poor that if you attempted a plain colour fabric it would show the imperfections in colouring.

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Nick Ryan
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By fuss do you mean "ignore the useless new suffix entirely"?

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Can it be true? That I hold here, in my mortal hand, a nugget of PUREST ... BLACK?

Nick Ryan
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Re: BMW

Would it make that much difference? You generally don't see them until they are one linguine behind your rear bumper.

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