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* Posts by Kristian Walsh

910 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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Samsung slams door on OLED TVs, makes QUANTUM dot LEAP

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Random TV question: 'juddering' in fast pans

My own thought is that, now that cinema presentation is mostly digital, there's no need to stick with the same frame-rate all through the feature. Certain types of action, particularly close combat, would definitely benefit from a higher frame rate, but that doesn't mean that the rest of the feature should be similarly high-rate. (Cinema projectors project each 24fps frame multiple times as it is, because this minimises the perception of flickering)

I just wonder if it's possible to do this change of display-rate in a way that won't provoke jarring changes in a viewer's perception.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Random TV question: 'juddering' in fast pans

The answer is that cinema features are filmed at twenty-four frames per second. That's enough for the illusion of movement, but not for smooth panning. Cinematographers and directors go to great lengths to distract the viewer from this phenomenon when tracking their subjects.

The reason you're seeing it on the F1 Now feeds is different, and could be display-rate mismatches between the source stream (50fps if it's a British broadcaster) and your tablet's display (60fps, as most display LCDs are) - you'll get a kind of "6:5 pulldown" - six displayed frames fed by 5 frames of input material: one is doubled. The streaming server could also be dropping alternate frames to save bandwidth, thus reducing the time resolution to 25 images per second.

The rest of this is long and a little rambly, so you can stop reading here.

This low frame rate is a legacy of the technology that was available in the 1930s. At that time, the available mechanisms could not pull a new frame into the camera any faster without tearing or slipping. (24 frames a second isn't fast, but remember that the new frame is pulled up into position in the tiny fraction of a second that the projector's shutter closes, so the mechanism needs to be much faster).

Raising the frame-rate of cinema presentations is possible (has been since the early 1970s), but experiments with the viewing public showed that audiences do not like the effect of high frame rate cinema: it looks less "real" than the slower rate, and the reason has nothing to do with technology:

Traditionally, lower-budget TV drama was either broadcast live or captured on videotape, because video is far, far cheaper than film production (not least because videotape is reusable and takes can be reviewed instantly). Video did have one advantage over film, however, which is that it has a time resolution of 50 or 60 fields-per-second, which makes motion, and especially panning, much smoother. Higher-budget TV shows were still filmed on 16mm or 35mm cinema stock, at 24fps, because this allowed exterior and interior shooting (cheap drama was studio-bound; video cameras were too at first) and it got around the issues of selling your programming to a station with an incompatible video system. A desirable side effect is that these telecine presentations looked like "a real film" rather than "a TV show".

But, thanks to the historic use of video for cheap TV drama, a high frame rate is now almost indelibly associated in the audience's mind with low-budget videotaped TV shows or live events. Simply displaying a film feature at a high frame rate will suggests the same low-budget, "unrealistic" experience to cinema viewers, or will make it seem like they're watching a live broadcast - by making it look like the actors are "right there", it also makes it look more like they're "just actors", thereby destroying some of the suspension of disbelief.

The recent release of Peter Jackson's"The Hobbit" was offered at both 48 and 24 fps, but audiences responded that the 24 fps showing was "grander" and more "epic" than the 48. The 48fps was reported by contrast as being "like watching TV", and "fake". The 48 fps presentation was either dropped for its sequel, or very few cinema owners took it on.

If you've got a TV with motion interpolation, as most modern LCDs do, watch a BluRay source of a big blockbuster film first at its native 24fps, and then with all of the motion gubbins turned on. The latter might look more "real" but it also looks less "cinematic".

And in the same effect from the opposite side: pretty much all TV productions are now filmed digitally, and broadcast at 50/60 fps, but big-budget drama is either shot natively at 25 or 30 fps or is de-interlaced down to a 25/24 frame-rate in post production to a achieve a "filmic" look.

Like it or not, 24 frames per second is considered as a sign of "quality" by the viewing public.

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Kristian Walsh
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The screen, without TV

Video gamers spend more time in front of "a TV" than most TV viewers. In this market, the immersiveness of a bigger display panel will beat any colour or contrast benefits of a tablet.

I wouldn't put much store by Colour reproduction as a deal-breaker either: bear in mind that 8% of males (and 0.5% of females) have colour-deficient vision - about 40% of these aren't even aware that they have such a condition until tested.

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What kind of generation doesn't stick it to the Man, but to Taylor Swift instead?

Kristian Walsh
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Feel free to swap your IT industry salary for the matching percentile on the scale of what songwriters earn.

I definitely wouldn't.

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Former Apple chief John Sculley says Steve Jobs 'never forgave him'

Kristian Walsh
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Re: ...Yeah, but Steve Jobs Learned An Important Lesson

Just to clarify: I wasn't working at Apple in the Jobs/Scully era, and I wasn't in California - I'm too young and too Irish for that. All of those stories are other people's, and you can read them at the folklore.org site if you've an interest in the PC boom times of the 1980s or Apple in particular.

I did experience the slow death-spiral of Apple of the 1990s, the return of Steve Jobs, and the effect that it had on the company, and in my particular case, the in-sourcing of all tech jobs to Cupertino that resulted in what a friend had already described as "being made offer I could most definitely refuse".

I'd also note that the Apple that was dying on its feet was actually a fun place to work; and unlike today's industry-dominating behemoth, when you went home after work, you weren't still at the beck and call of sleep-deprived stress junkie in Cupertino who's forgotten what timezones are.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: John Who??

As far as I can tell, he's not saying he would locate in Ireland, but rather if he had a global business that was looking for a headquarters, then the choice would be between Ireland and Singapore.

In Scully's own words, he felt his biggest mistake was not that he fired Jobs, but rather in directing Apple to transition to Motorola/IBM's PowerPC RISC architecture, rather than spending the same effort to adopt Intel's CPUs instead. In hindsight, and considering that Apple eventually moved to Intel ten years later, it's probably true, but at the time, I remember everyone saying that RISC was the future, and Apple was going to speed ahead of Microsoft by jumping early. As we know, Windows 95, the explosion of commodity PC chipset suppliers, and the poor performance of Apple's emulated 68k software on PPC gave the lie to those predictions, but at the time you could see why Scully made the decision he did.

I think Scully was right to fire Jobs. Yes, the Macintosh became a success, but it was a Macintosh line whose development spending was under strict control of Scully. Had Jobs been still in charge, I do feel that the product's costs would have spiralled out of control in a search for an impossible "perfection" just like Lisa had.

http://www.folklore.org is a great site for the inside story of Apple during the first Jobs reign. You get a feel for a Jobs who was admired and feared by those he worked for, but also a man whose ambition was not yet tempered by failure. By firing Jobs, Scully could take some credit for Apple's later success when Jobs was hired back by the underrated Gil Amelio.

After Scully, Spindler did nothing to address the reality: that the WinTel duopoly driving down prices was killing Apple's business while the company's R&D was draining away into a hole named Copland, whose ship date was slipping by about 5 weeks every month. Amelio shored up the holes, killed the money-pit projects, and chose to bring in the only person who could herd the various gangs of cats that actually did things at Apple, and that person was... Jean-Louis Gass—no, it was Jobs, of course. (Although we all thought Gassée's BeOS, not NeXTStep was going to be the shoo-in as the replacement for Copland).

(Still, Amelio's description of standing on the bridge of a crashing supertanker where the captain's wheel does nothing is a perfect summary of how bad Apple's internal management structures were - although I shouldn't complain too much, as I was hired at this time as part of a major group expansion that was done without the knowledge of anyone outside the building)

In his first stint in charge, Jobs had always spoken of a mythical factory where "sand goes in one end, and computers come out the other", but it says a lot about his later, more mature, approach that Jobs's most successful products, iPod and iPhone, were outsourced as much as was possible. Do what you're good at; leave others to do what they're good at.

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BEHOLD Apple's BENEVOLENCE! iMessage txt BLACK HOLE finally fixed

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Was that so hard?

"stupidity and laziness on the typical end users part"

There is such a thing as user stupidity, but it's very rare. Mostly, problems are down to developer stupidity in assuming that everyone who will ever use your software actually gives a shit about software, or computers. They pay money to developers precisely because they don't want to give a shit about this stuff.

To you and me, it's obvious that you need to explicitly disconnect the iMessage service, because you and I understand how it's likely to work, and can then ask ourselves "what would happen if my number is still in the lookup tables when I no longer have this phone?".

Apple's software should have automatically de-registered the device from iMessage when the holder of that device does a system wipe, or when the SIM in the device changes (I suspect it does the latter already, so why not the former?). Then, somewhere in Cupertino, a database process would spot that a given subscriber number no longer has any iDevice UIDs attached to it, and thus delete the iMessage record. That would be the simple, obvious and transparent process. Personally, I'd also age the records used to determine if a number is still in the service, so that a UID mapping for a device that hasn't checked in in a long time would be suspended until it reappears: that would [eventually] fix the problem of a phone falling overboard.

Apple's solution is a kludge, but its one that benefits them by making the problem look like it's not theirs ("Hey I can't believe your crappy LG/Lumia/Samsung can't even receive SMS - look at these I sent you yesterday, and you never got any of them. Man, you should have stayed with Apple")

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Aereo-no! Streaming telly biz axes staff, shuts down operations

Kristian Walsh
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Re: But that's not how it worked

It doesn't matter how it worked technically. Network TV broadcasts are provided under the condition that unauthorised rebroadcasting of the content you receive is prohibited.

Aereo was a system for rebroadcasting of network TV. (And, yes, parallel set of unicast streams is a broadcast)

It was a service based on the old saying that forgiveness is easier to obtain than permission. What that saying neglects to mention is that forgiveness is only one of the options you'll receive after your offending actions, and there's no guarantee you won't get punishment instead.

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All but full-fat MS Office to be had on iPads, Droidenslabben for NOWT

Kristian Walsh
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Using Xamarin would allow them to write the iOS, Android and upcoming Windows Modern apps in C#.

I suspect those Windows versions will arrive at the same time as the next Office release for Windows. Office 16 is due in Spring 2015.

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Microsoft: OK, we'll TRY indirect sales for Surface Pro 3 in Japan

Kristian Walsh
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Re: You may choose more EVIL now, or nothing

Run lots of applications, and starve the bastard of CPU time...

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Languages don't breed bugs, PEOPLE breed bugs, say boffins

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Definition of "bug".....or definition of "defect"?

You've hit on the Achilles' Heel of FOSS projects. There usually isn't a business requirement to meet, so the code is free to go wherever its devs want it to. That's both good and bad, depending on whether you're a developer or a user...

The other problem I have with this is that using github as a source will over-represent the work of very inexperienced programmers. These days, everyone's "first code project" ends up on github. If the developer's own inexperience is the major limiting factor, how can you accurately judge the effect of the language they've chosen on the code quality?

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The late 2014 Apple Mac Mini: The best (and worst) of both worlds

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Just what were you running exactly???

I use both OSX and Windows, and have to say Windows is now far less RAM-hungry than OS X is.

I can understand the reviewer's mistaken comment about OS X being "leaner" than Windows, because once upon a time this was indeed the case (10.5/10.6 versus Vista). It's just that since then, Apple's middle-aged-spread has coincided with Microsoft's serious performance improvements in Windows 7 and 8.

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Having a Web Summit? Get some decent Wi-Fi!

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Who would have thought it...

I don't think any reasonably-priced infrastructure could deal with the sudden influx of 50,000+ devices (a modest average of 2.5 per attender; it's probably more like 3.5) all opening twenty or thirty connections to various HTTP-borne services.

And, because this is the Web Summit, I suspect many of the cries of "network is down" are really "network is up, just slow, and I'm too impatient to let the sessions establish"

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Microsoft's Bing hopes to bag market share with ... search apps

Kristian Walsh
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Translation...

... is one area where Bing definitely exceeds Google. Google Translate looks like it's been abandoned, and still has a nasty habit of randomly inverting the sense of German sentences that use "es sei denn" (="unless" in English), or simply transliterating Japanese hiragana rather than translating the words written in them.

Google has a very good index, but that doesn't mean that everything else they do is equally good.

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Russians hear Tim Cook is gay, pull dead Steve Jobs' enormous erection

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Love and Hate @dan1980

"Much if not most of the blame for it lies with the West and that is a subject of another discussion."

Bullshit. Blame lies with Putin and his band of crooks who have stolen Russia from its people. The Russian people don't realise that the root of their problems is not gays or Ukranians, and that Russia was already a great nation, is actually respected as such abroad, and doesn't need a circus strongman running the show to "prove" it. Putin is the abusive husband who convinces his victim that only he really loves them, and that they're worthless without him. The electorate really think that he's defending Russia.. but from whom? The only people oppressing Russians are their own leaders.

"The West" would rather see Russia run as a stable, democratic nation with a functioning economy. For the security and happiness of its people, and also "ours".

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Microsoft: How to run Internet Explorer 11 on ANDROID, iOS, OS X

Kristian Walsh
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Didn't you hear? When you can deploy instantly, you don't need to test anymore. Just unit-test your scripts, and fix bugs as users report them.

A friend works for a company making and selling a class of online software engineering tool (I won't say what class of tool, but it's not testing), and they do not formally test any of their web backend code. My friend, who does mobile client dev, thought they were joking with him when they said this, but no, they just run the backend in constant firefighting mode.

And then, when the backend fix breaks the iOS client, they don't understand why users are annoyed that they've no service for a week while Apple approves the updated client...

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: My well-known gayness is 'a gift from GOD'

Kristian Walsh
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Gimp

Re: 2014 and

You consciously remember parts of Ayn Rand books? Wow... I managed to forget most of the one I read, but every so often, a little comes to the surface, like some kind of turd that won't flush down the toilet.

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Kristian Walsh
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Here's your lungs, don't you dare breathe!

The real sin is in using the words of someone who by all accounts was a decent enough guy, who said we shouldn't be hating and killing each other quite so much, to back up exactly the sort of hatred that he was so keen for us to quit engaging in.

The part of the Bible you're quoting also contains lots of other rules for life that nobody much cares to follow anymore: It's funny how that one passage that lets you hate people you don't know is The Genuine Incontrovertible Word of God, and the one about wearing mixed fabric, or not eating bacon butties are somehow only guidelines that are open to interpretation.

(I'm not gay, that's the luck of the draw, but I have a number of friends who are, and I've heard stories through them that would make you wonder about human nature.)

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Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Why, exactly ...

These are definitely not my thing, but the UV monitor sounds useful to this Celtic-skinned reader, mainly because UV index is the one thing that your body doesn't tell you ... until the damage is done.

(That said, I'm sure jake has trained himself to develop extented-spectrum vision, and can see from the 5Ghz band all the way to gamma rays, but for us mortals...)

Incidentally, it looks like the accompanying app is being launched on iOS and Android too, not just Windows Phone (http://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-band/en-us - about halfway down).

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: So, when can I have the one I need?

If you can find a way of measuring blood sugar without a pin (and the unstable, one-time-use enzyme that checks the blood), you should clear October from your calendar... you might need to go to Sweden to collect a medal.

The only thing preventing the development of an implantable insulin pump is that there is no suitable method to measure blood sugar.

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Even a broken watch is right twice a day: Not an un-charged Apple Watch

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Chinese

Not quite: you can always understand the meaning of written Chinese messages - this is as expressive as any other written language, and a lot more compact than many. The problems arise in verbal communication.

Mandaran Chinese has a very small repertoire of sounds, compared to other languages, so the number of homophones is very high: cases like the English "red" and "read" are much more commonplace. The fact that Mandarin is actually a second language for most of the population just adds to this confusion.

So when speaking face to face, it's not uncommon for Chinese to make a "writing" gesture of part of the word that they're saying, in order to disambiguate a word that sounds the same. On the phone, this option is not available.

Still, it sounds like someone at Apple inventing an application for this watch, rather than them inventing the watch to fill a need.

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NTT thinks it's defined the PERFECT AMPERE with a cunning trap

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Perfect Ampere

http://www.imdb.com/character/ch0027426/

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Lumia 830: Microsoft hopes to seduce with slim 'affordable' model

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Affordable flagship? Is that legal under the trade description act?

Did you not catch the bit about how people who make judgements based purely on specs without looking at the product are easily misled? The screen is superb, despite being 720p, and the phone does most things very quickly despite being on a "slow" System-on-chip.

The price quoted is SIM-free. What "flagship" mobile phone sells for £300 without contract or lock-in?

It's what it is: a good value mid-range phone whose performance is better than the spec-sheet numbers would suggest. Basically, the sort of "crap on paper, but really good in use" kind of phone that Nokia have always done well. The one thing they've never really done well was "flagship" phones...

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Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET

Kristian Walsh
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Re: rivals?

Rivals, yes, but not from other music stores. Today's big "casual music listener" demographic is still there, but they've grown up in an era where you just don't pay for music: YouTube has given them a free, personalised, All-Requests, All-the-Time version of MTV that means you never really need to buy that song they like.. just keep listening for free until you go off it.

Music fans - people who enjoy music as an art form, and will sit and do nothing but listen to music - will still pay, but they are a tiny part of the music market. The casual listenership has almost completely fallen away, leaving only the core of people who actively enjoy music.

On the other hand, there's still money in back-catalogue; particularly in classical and Jazz - but they're not really part of the same "Music Business" that the tech media are so obsessed with, despite often being the same companies.

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Sporty in all but name: Peugeot 308 e-THP 110

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Bah Humbug

"I am surprised this hasn't been married to a small electric drive. That's probably next year's iteration."

Pneumatic, actually. http://www.psa-peugeot-citroen.com/en/automotive-innovation/innovation-by-psa/hybrid-air-engine-full-hybrid-gasoline

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Happy 2nd birthday, Windows 8 and Surface: Anatomy of a disaster

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Windows 10

According to Microsoft's results , Surface is now a profitable business unit... considering the phenomenal writedown on the Surface RT last year, that indicates there's been a lot of interest in the much better 2nd generation and Pro3 models.

The Pro 3 in particular is a very nice computer, and I feel that my current MacBook Air will eventually be replaced by one...(I believe brand loyalty is for fools: I use mac, windows and linux for work, and already have a Surface 2RT for casual web browsing duties) I only use the macbook for mail, web, terminal and ssh,, so might be time to look into a linux VM, MinGW or Cywin (is that still alive?)

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Hey Apple, we're gonna tailor Swift as open source – indie devs throw down gauntlet

Kristian Walsh
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Re: not convinced

Here's one reason why gcc is losing mindshare:

*p++ = func(*p);

Guess when p is incremented?

... No, you'd think that, but apparently, because the C specification is silent on the matter, the super geniuses running gcc believe that gives them the freedom to generate this sequence:

++p;

result=func( *p );

*p=result;

Now, has anyone ever written code where that was the desired outcome? This kind of dumb pedantry is why clang is becoming popular. (This bug isn't mine, but I've been stung by similar gcc "technically correct, but bloody stupid" behaviour in the past)

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Kristian Walsh
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Apple and Open Source

Apple have a pretty good record in supporting OSS projects, although most of it dates to the OSX days, before iOS took over as the revenue earner, and when Apple was small enough to need to play nice with other systems. The CUPS printing system, zeroConf networking (Bonjour/Rendezvous), clang, WebKit, and lots of BSD improvements have all come from Apple.

What Apple do not do, however, is release under GPL, preferring the more permissive BSD licence, which may be why some of the more vociferous (and self-appointed) sections of the FOSS "community" are so negative towards the company.

Incidentally, to the earlier poster, Microsoft's attitude towards Mono has moved from benign neglect to active support (notably by open-sourcing all of the .NET documentation and API definitions) to ensure that Mono and .NET do not diverge in behaviour and function --- something that is in the interest of both parties.

It would be a good model for Apple to adopt if it wants people to care about its language. Right now, I certainly don't: What good is a language that I can only develop on 10% of the world's PCs, and deploy to 50% (and falling) of the world's portable devices? For all its typist-hostile syntax, at least Objective-C can seamlessly include C (or even C++) code.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: They may release Swift tools eventually

"like how they had the infrastructure for third party apps in iOS from day one, but didn't announce it as a feature they made available until iOS 2.0."

You will need to cite a source for a statement like that, because it doesn't agree with anything I heard from inside Apple at the time, and it reads like revisionism to shore up the narrative that Apple planned the mobile app revolution, when in truth it took them as much by surprise as anyone else.

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Preview redux: Microsoft ships new Windows 10 build with 7,000 changes

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Allegedly

Nothing to do with German, a lot to do with this bit of .NET loveliness that's probably been lurking in corporate internal software for about ten years:

if ( Environment.OSVersion.ToString().startsWith("Microsoft Windows 9") )

{ // running on 98, not supported.

}

Yes, the "real" version number is also present in that string (after the product name), but it's a lot harder to parse that out and compare it than it is to just look at the stem of the string. Lets ignore that the chances of that code ever running on 98 are slim anyway - there's lots of code that has an initialisation sequence that's just old cruft and boilerplate, and not just on Windows: look at a typical Linux automake config for an example...

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Microsoft to enter the STRUGGLE of the HUMAN WRIST

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Strap on time...ahem

Be nice, cite your sources: http://xkcd.com/612/

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Redmond top man Satya Nadella: 'Microsoft LOVES Linux'

Kristian Walsh
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Re: confused

It's down to accounting,

Cloud services are expenses, and thus can be directly offset agains this year's earnings.

Buying servers is capital expenditure which can only be offset as depreciation, and that takes several years.

In the meantime, you have staffing costs (and if your workload only needs half the time of an expert admin, you'll find you've either got to hire the full time of that expert, or make do with an inexpert admin), maintenance and repairs.

Servers are now a vital infrastructure for pretty much any kind of business, whether it be in the technology field or not. Companies no longer build their own offices*, so why build their own IT infrastructure?

None of this applies to businesses whose business is technology, but even then, cloud-hosting is a low-risk way to protoype or trial new products and services - if the idea isn't a goer, you're not left with a pile of servers you don't have a use for.

(* Yes, yes, Apple, donut, folly, overrun, moneypit)

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You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Know thy data

The Bible letter-counters are a very good analogy. If your goal is to prove your theory, you can always find the data to make that happen.

Rigorous investigators try to find the data that contradicts their theory; frauds only look for the data that confirms it. (e.g. every piece of "scientific" evidence used to bolster every single conspiracy theory)

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NO MORE DOUBLE IRISH, thunders Dublin. Erm, from 2020 that is

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Our governments should stop waiting for Ireland et al

In 2008, about 8 per cent of the UK's total personal income went to the top 1 per cent of earners. However, half that share, 4 per cent, went to the very top 0.1 per cent of earners.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom#High_income

People tend to confuse "income" with "wealth" in these arguments, which is probably why you're as surprised at the low share as I was. Many very wealthy people keep their income safely outside of the UK, and thus safe from tax, but by residing in the UK and thus out of the jurisdiction their earnings live in, they do a kind of personal 'Double London'...

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Our governments should stop waiting for Ireland et al

"worst of a bad lot" No, not by a long way. You need to go to sunnier climes to see the very worst.

The Netherlands (not just the Antilles) and especially Luxemboug also allow similar schemes, but they come under less criticism. Even the UK acts as a conduit for various tax dodges in the former Soviet Union.

Ireland DOES want to fix this issue, because it's damaging the country's reputation, and it's causing ill-informed people to label the country a "tax haven", when it's nothing of the sort. It's also very dangerous for any small nation to base its economic fortunes on a scheme that infuriates wealthier, more powerful nations: For example, the US could impose punitive fines on companies it deems to be exploiting the Double Irish and similar mechanisms. If that were to happen it would be a major disincentive for those companies to remain in Ireland.

The attraction of Ireland for US companies isn't the availability of some revenue stripping wheeze, it's a combination of lots of other factors, particularly: a stable and predictable corporate tax system that's oriented towards international trade, an educated workforce that speaks fluent English, close cultural similarities with the US/Canada, an efficient banking and finance system that's governed by stable rule of law, as well as Euro-zone membership and a guaranteed membership of the EU in the forseeable future. That latter one is a big deal for foreign investors, who want an English-speaking hub for their operations in the big European markets - the UK government's posturing on leaving the EU isn't winning them any points when it comes to foreign investment - but the UK thinks its economy is big enough to not need such investment.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Its ok

It's never 20% though. There are better rates if you're big enough or have enough friends in the right Party.

If I formed an IT company tomorrow here in Ireland, my profits would be taxed at 12.5% (ignoring the reliefs for new businesses), and I wouldn't have had to lobby anyone to get that rate. Compare with France or Germany where that new business would pay a greater percentage on its profits than an EDF or BASF would.

The EU probe into Apple is not about the Double Irish, but about whether Ireland gave Apple an even lower corporate tax rate: the kind of "sweetheart" tax deal (a form of direct state aid) that large German and French concerns have lobbied for, and got, from their respective governments for years.

I'm glad to see the loophole close. It has given the country a bad name, but now it'll be interesting to see if the US Government in particular addresses the loopholes in its tax laws that allow other forms of revenue stripping to be performed.

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Microsoft left red-faced after DMCAs dished out to Windows bloggers

Kristian Walsh
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Pirate product keys in comments

As I understand this, the takedown request was to have specific comments removed that contained information about obtaining pirate copies of Windows and/or contained cracked/stolen product keys, which seems like a legitimate request.

(If it doesn't seem legitimate to you, you might need to replace "Microsoft" and "Windows" with the name of a company and product that you like, and read it again)

Google decided to respond to this request by removing all of the videos, rather than the offending comments.

Why? Most likely incompetence by the low-paid intern who handles takedown requests, but I'm sure there'll be a conspiracy theory along any moment now...

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Ada Lovelace Day: Meet the 6 women who gave you the 'computer'

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Of course not...

I was talking about their offices, not their product (have been using git for years, thanks; I don't need to spend more money than my email seevice costs just for a clumsy UI on top)

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Of course not...

I certainly see the joke, but the joke is based on the problem.

If you say "computer programmer" to someone, that checklist is exactly the image that most people call to mind.

Your average adolescent male has no problem with any of those things. Your average adolescent female, well... she's a lot more fussy about personal hygiene and having a social life.

This "alpha nerd" image is what puts girls off careers in technology. My experience of mentoring/teaching at undergraduate level would suggest that it's certainly not ability (yes, the smartest 5% of your staff is more likely to be male, but so is the dumbest 5%; in the range of abilities needed to do pretty much any paying job, male and female are equally able).

The sad thing is that, as a job, most programming roles don't fit that image at all. Okay, there are exceptions in the case of places like Github, which seem designed for some kind of weird socially-retarded man-child who never leaves the office; but these are statistical outliers, and certainly not the mode.

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Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express

Kristian Walsh
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Re: ...

I think by "Donna-like", you mean "believable". Donna (Catherine Tate) remains one of my favourite characters from the new show, simply because she was written as a character who had real dreams, motivations, worries, and weaknesses.

The Clara character is none of these. There are some episodes where the disposable monster of the week is given more backstory.

Even without the plot-driven personality disorders, the Clara character has never been properly anchored anywhere, physically or emotionally; she's just "generic cute but sassy female supporting character", with no motives, no beliefs, no background, and most importantly, no flaws in that perfect character. Why should I care about this person? - they'll get on fine whether I care or not.

If this were some half-baked fan fiction (and I fear the gap is closing), you could say that she's a Mary Sue http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue

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Xiaomi boss snaps back at Jony Ive's iPhone rival 'theft' swipe

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Correction...

"everyone else can only copy" ?

Okay, you do an image search on the work of Dieter Rams. We'll wait.

Copying is part of art and design. Ive shouldn't be getting huffy when his own inspirations are so obvious to anyone with a memory that goes back before 2001.

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U2? 81 million Apple iThing-strokers know a place where the Beats have no shame

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Ignore Apple; get better for less (@Kristian)

Fair enough, so have an upvote... iTunes pricing has improved since I looked last time. It used to be around €9.99 an album, which was way too much for a sub-CD copy.

Lossless is still worth the extra for me, and not having to use the abomination that is iTunes is worth a couple of cents per album.

Agree that Roughtrade and other small-label sites can be a good place, and If your favourite band has a decent website, it's also worth checking there - often you can get lossless or high-bitrate releases there for lower prices, and they get a far bigger share of the sale than if it goes through iTunes etc.

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Kristian Walsh
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Ignore Apple; get better for less

qobuz.com is my current favourite music source. Legal, lossless, DRM-free CD-quality (or better) albums for around what iTunes asks for compressed AC3s, and you can keep copies wherever you want, or stream anything you've bought for free. (Some albums are available in high-bitrate remasters for a bit more cash, if that's your thing)

There's also a monthly streaming service at CD-quality (discounts for the MP3-only one; or if you only want access to their classical/Jazz collection)

I've no connection with them other than as a very happy customer, but theirs is the closest to my ideal music service (i.e., actually less restrictive than buying the CD and ripping it), so I'm happy to plug the service.

And you don't have to run iTunes to use it.

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Apple KILLS SUPER MARIO. And Zelda. And Sonic

Kristian Walsh
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Indeed (and upvoted). From a site that once employed a comment moderatrix, I would have expected better...

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Was Nokia's Elop history's worst CEO?

Kristian Walsh
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Re: It could have been so different

N9 is not MeeGo.

MeeGo was nothing like "production ready". That's why N9's UX and apps were hastily back-ported onto the existing Maemo platform. Abandoning their own mobile Linux development in favour of Intel and LinuxFoundation's LiMo to form MeeGo is one of the more stupid decisions Nokia made, and it was made before Elop. The other stupid decision was open-sourcing Symbian and the whole Symbian Foundation idea. A complete waste of effort to produce no increase in capability of the resulting OS

As for Tomi Ahonen, remember that he has an axe to grind. His views are not impartial on the matter of Nokia.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Um, no...

You're ignoring how mobile operators purchased phones. The orders were placed at least six months ahead of introduction, so reported sales are more to do with buyer sentiment six months previously, rather than right now (Nokia sold 99% of its product to mobile phone operators, not to users).

The drop in sales is down to the botched N8 introduction, not the Windows memo. I believe that the cause of the memo, and the failure of the N9 to secure distribution goes back a year to when Nokia repeatedly delayed N8, then released woefully un-finihsed software on what should have been a blockbuster device. (Remember that its originally-planned launch date predated the iPhone 4)

N8 burned a lot of operators: it was not just horribly late, but when it did arrive it had very high dissatisfaction rates and returns rates from customers. I had one, and I remember it being awful until the first ("Anna") software arrived eight months after I bought it. It only reached a par with Android/iOS with the "Belle" release in February 2012; a sixteen months after I bought the phone. (But realising that lots of users don't ever update their phone firmware, and lots of users change their phone more often than I do, you can see how badly this product damaged Nokia).

From a developer point of view, the story was equally confused: Qt wasn't fully capable on these phones until later in 2011, but realistically, it was only the Belle release in 2012 with Qt 4.8 that gave developers a painless way to write modern applications, but by then sales were already falling. N8 and 808 PureView made up 70% of my app sales (utilities, not photo related), but my sales dried up sharply in 2013 as those phones came up to contract renewal time, and there was no high-end Symbian device to take their place.

Had N8 been a success, operators would have leapt on N9, as it's a beautiful device, and the first phone to be "better than an iPhone" in terms of aesthetics (the gloss-white version in particular is a thing of beauty). But N8 was a disaster, and the operators were not willing to give Nokia another chance to sell them a pup (it didn't matter than N9 wasn't a pup in the end). Even then, there was a deeper problem to deal with: N9 was a stop-gap, because the "MeeGo" software was nothing like as ready as they let on - in the end N9 was Nokia's UI ported back to Nokia's old Maemo platform from the N900. Had N9 worked out, I suspect Nokia would have still told Intel/LinuxFoundation to get stuffed, and instead put their R&D money into bringing Maemo forward (probably eventually building it on AOSP's kernel)

But all that's "might have beens". The truth was that with no appreciable sales for N9 to pay for its completion (a couple of Australian and Central European operators took it up, but nothing like what it needed for success), Nokia needed something, fast, but their internal R&D could only deliver very, very slowly.

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APPLE still building fanbois CULT HQ in Cupertino, it seems

Kristian Walsh
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Re: @Kristian Walsh

Those Manhattan HQ's are leased, and the risks on their construction were borne by the property developer. The construction itself is usually quite standard, with the money being spent on internal finishing.

The difference with Apple's adventure is that they are both the property developer, and the sole tenant of the buildings. They're also combining a technically challenging structure with the extremely high-cost fitout. The overrun on this project will far exceed any imagined improvements in productivity (and if you know people in Apple, I'm sure they'll tell you that it's not the offices, but rather the amount of time they're expected to be in them, that is the issue).

This exactly the sort of "landmark" spending that big companies have engaged in in the past.. right before their terminal decline set in.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: @Kristian Walsh

Private investors, building solely for their own ego? Imagine if Larry Ellison had been the investor behind The Shard...

And you can't see that this is Steve Jobs's ego. The difference between Apple and those property investors: Apple is spending $5bn* constructing an overhead cost, whereas the investors sell or rent what they build in order to gain an income.

(* $5 billion is the estimate from Norman Foster, the lead architect; I've never known an architect's estimate to be MORE than the final build cost, and it's often far, far less).

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Totalitarian architecture...

"you can also go through the middle.."

Er, yes. That's the point. A circular structure will still maximises the average distance to a destination, because every possible destination is located on the perimeter. (And that's before you consider that there will be only a finite number of doors opening onto the inner court)

It also reduces the possibility of clustering, because offices are arranged on only one axis (rotational co-ordinate; radius is fixed) rather than two (east/west and north-south).

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Totalitarian architecture...

Another hair-trigger defence of even the slightest anti-Apple sentiment, but you are missing the point.

Yes, Apple need more space, but they should not be custom-making an office for themselves that pushes the boundaries of what's possible in the field when they have no experience in construction/real-estate management. This is a classic example of a corporation spending large amounts of money on a non-value-add activity that's outside of their competency - this never ends well. This project will overrun, and overrun badly, and while Apple may have a big ol' ball of money, most of it's offshore; it hasn't got very much in the USA unless it wants to repatriate it and finally pay some tax.

The campus at Infinite Loop was built at a time when Apple's headcount was far higher than 3,000. I was there frequently in the late 1990s, after the post-Scully retrenchments (when Apple's global headcount was still at about 10,000, incidentally) and there were great expanses of empty office space available back then. Apple also occupied (and under-utilised) a variety of buildings on nearby Mariani Ave and De Anza Blvd, including a vanity "office of the CEO" in a building later taken over by Texaco (I think).

But even still, do you really think that all of Apple's 80,000 global staff work in Cupertino? That figure includes retail managers and store staff, in-country distribution and marketing, customer service and support, manufacturing supervision and global logistics. This is the bulk of the payroll, and none of it is in Cupertino.

You are entirely wrong about point one. The capital of a publicly-traded corporation is the property of its shareholders. It's not me saying this, it's the law. The shareholders may tolerate the company blowing chunks of cash on vanity projects, so long as the price rises, but trust me: when that stock falls, questions will be asked about this. Right now, the management is able to appeal to the baser instincts of its shareholders, so proper corporate governance is taking a back seat.

Your second point is confusing correlation and cause. The HQ announcement and the share-price rise have the same common cause: Apple's prior success in selling their products at amazing margins: success that emanated from the "cramped" HQ with "low architectural merit" (I wonder have you actually been inside the Infinite Loop campus? Architecturally, it was very conducive to getting work done when I was there)

I understand that you're an Apple fan, but someone who wants to see the company do well should at least be concerned about how it uses its assets.

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