* Posts by Kristian Walsh

1000 posts • joined 10 Apr 2007

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Apple Watch RIPPED APART, its GUTS EXPOSED to hungry Vultures

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Rolex

Most Rolex customers won't want a Patek. You need to know a little bit about watches to have heard of Patek Philippe, but very few people buying a new Rolex are doing so to initiate discussions about the art of watchmaking with their social circle.

Like the Rolex, Apple is pitching Watch as a status symbol - the only purpose of owning one is to show you're rich enough to own one (or that you're an iOS developer who's been railroaded into buying one by Apple's policies on app development for the thing). This month's British Vogue featured an insert catalogue for the thing, beside the ads for the £5,000 handbags, £10,000 dresses and £150,000 diamond rings.

One thing about showing off, though: the Apple Watch uses the same innards for every variant, with no difference in function or quality between the cheapest and dearest -only the casework is the differentiator. However, I'm sure someone has already started a small workshop electroplating the cheaper steel models (or the design-knockoff models) with enough gold to pass as the expensive ones.

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>Ring, ring< Hey Wall St. Yeah, it's Google. Yeah, bad news again, fellas

Kristian Walsh
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You've described roughly how the European Exchange Rate Mechanism used to operate - you price a thing (in your example a share; in the ERM, it was a national currency) within a band and defend that valuation with buy-backs and sell-offs.

While this sounds fine in principle, the weakness is in where you set the upper and lower thresholds. Unfortunately, a company's (or government's) estimation of their value is often wildly at odds with reality. Famously, in the early 1990s, the British insisted that the UK Pound should never be worth less than 2.70 Deutschmarks, a valuation whose only justification could have been "who won the bloody War anyway?", as balance of trade, inflation, employment and other real measures at the time said that the real value should be much, much lower (and the German Bundesbank, which as the largest ERM partner, would be obliged to defend the Pound as well, agreed)

By 1992, currency speculators, most prominently George Soros, decided to call the British Government's bluff. The result was known as "Black Wednesday": after a chaotic week of ever-increasing interest rate moves, the UK finally admitted defeat, withdrew from the ERM and de-valued the Pound to a value supported by reality.

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Google pulls plug on YouTube for older iPads, iPhones, smart TVs

Kristian Walsh
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Re: "Written in C"

I think you're missing the point. This isn't a language issue, it's the removal of support for the protocol that the clients use. This in turn exposes problems in how certain older devices receive updates, or don't.

Many of the client software makers could update their client software so that it talks to the new API, and it still wouldn't matter if that client was implemented using HTML or C or INTERCAL (although currently, System-on-chip support is admittedly somewhat limited for the more advanced features of INTERCAL).

The problem for the older iOS users is that it's not possible to publish apps into Apple's App Store that target an OS earlier than iOS6, so even though the fix is primarily a software one, it is impossible to deploy it to those users who need it on Apple's older platforms. (Jailbreaking is not an option for the majority of these users)

The problem for the TV owners is that many manufacturers still have an approach to software updates that can be summarised as: "support ends when the boxes leave the factory".

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Google guru: Android doesn't have malware, it has Potentially Harmful Applications™ instead

Kristian Walsh
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Re: When people start arguing terminology like this

A former employer of mine that sold AV software was threatened with a lawsuit by a spyware pusher because its AV scanner, reasonably enough, labelled that company's software as spyware.

You'd think they'd be told to go to hell, but no:

The spyware publisher's argument was that their software wasn't spyware, it was a way of providing the user with ads that might be of interest to them... and in order to determine what would be of interest, this software had to record search terms and browsing history. And, they continued, because this was all in the EULA, which the user had clicked through (in order to install Flash/Firefox/Acrobat/UnRAR or something else that they bundled themselves with), it was consented to, and so could not be spyware...

And thus, the term "Potentially Unwanted Program" was born...

I suppose Google has to be careful about clearly condemning companies that gather large amounts of a user's personal data under assumed consent, but it is not in any way in the customer's interests to allow these things to persist on Android. Yes, Google does a legal version of the same thing, but at least customers know who Google is, and have some limited form of redress against it if they find that it's stepped over a line. Not so with the shadier spyware pushers...

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The content business wants Netflix out of Australia

Kristian Walsh
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Re: No requirement for TRANSPORT security at all

It certainly would cause overhead at the Netflix side, where they may be encrypting tens of thousands of streams simultaneously;

Er, yes, that was my point. Client load is of no concern to Netflix as they don't have to buy the client hardware (it can be of concern for cable/satellite VOD services however, as the set-top-box is another operator cost) - only the server-side cost is relevant to a service like theirs.

Encryption is an expensive process. It's an order of magnitude more CPU intensive than simply copying a file to a socket (a task that is optimised to avoid ever needing to copying the data). The way that TLS is implemented as a userspace library in many webservers makes the situation worse: now encryption incurs at least two memory copies on top of the raw computational overhead of scrambling the bits.

Here's a paper describing what changes Netflix made in FreeBSD to get HTTPS serving performance to an acceptable level https://people.freebsd.org/~rrs/asiabsd_2015_tls.pdf but even this optimised server is still about half of what their non-https content server can do.

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Kristian Walsh
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No requirement for TRANSPORT security at all

The conditions of that contract can be satisfied by pre-encrypting the content, and using no link encryption at all. And that's what Netflix has been doing, in practice.

TLS is fine for remote browsing, where network latency can hide CPU load, but when you're sending the huge volumes of steady traffic that Netflix (or similar) does, the TLS overhead on each connection becomes very significant. Encryption is CPU-bound, and content servers have historically been configured with fast I/O, and enough CPU to do authorization and to make sure all the DMA pipes are kept full.

That said, although Netflix does not currently use HTTPS for content transport, it has completed a programme of infrastructure improvements that will allow it to roll out HTTPS in the very near future. (Overview here: http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/04/it-wasnt-easy-but-netflix-will-soon-use-https-to-secure-video-streams/ )

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Microsoft to open first flagship Store beyond North America

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Keep on hating......

You have to be new here, or you just haven't been paying attention... the only thing that The Reg's hack team "hates" is self-importance and bullshit. Marketing efforts, no matter who they stem from, fit both categories. (And you haven't been reading the Apple articles if you think that this article constitutes 'hatred'; the well-deserved derision that's regularly poured on Apple's ludicrous, hyperbolic claims makes this article look like a gentle ribbing)

I continue to read The Reg precisely because it's the only one where every fanboy commenters accuse it of being biased against their pet manufacturer. Nobody writing for this site is suckling on Google's or Apple's or Microsoft's or FSF's teat.

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Microsoft absorbs open-source internal startup MS Open Technology

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Spawn...

It'll be a cold day in Hell before I forget their track record.

Yes, it's always wise to base today's decisions on data from 20 years ago.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go back to my study notes - I'm leaning how to do calendar calculations in COBOL. There's enormous demand for it, what with the big Y2K problems coming up...

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What's that THUD sound? It's your Lumia's best feature after unflashing Windows 10

Kristian Walsh
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Re: There never was meant to be an upgrade path from Nokia

Hard to see what part of the article you're addressing in that comment.

This is not a customer update; it's a developer preview release, and you're expected to understand the risks involved with installing software onto your phone that hasn't been signed off as fit for release. (As you bring up iOS, you might consider what iOS 8.0.1, an allegedly QA'd and released build, did to customer phones: nobody's perfect)

Don't know where you get the idea that there's no upgrade to 10 for Lumia devices: 10 is effectively the same kernel as 8, just with new applications. (Desktop and Phone "Windows" OSes already share a kernel - it was making this change that dead-ended the Windows Phone 7.x series). If the phone has the CPU power to service those new applications, then 10 will go onto the phone. Simple as that.

I would never, ever put a preview OS build onto my primary device, be it a phone or a PC. I've been looking at the desktop 10 builds with a VM, and I'm thinking of buying a SIM-free 6xx to put the 10 builds onto, though, for testing purposes.

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Bonking with Apple is no fun 'cos it's too hard to pay, say punters

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Existing Standards

Nothing to do with patents. It's mainly because the Japanese system relies on other banking, authentication and payment infrastructure that is unique to Japan. To transport such a system to Europe or the USA would require such major changes that you may as well start afresh. The air interface and terminal is a very small part of any contactless payment scheme.

As for the "threat" of Japanese action against NFC, have a look at the membership list of the NFC Forum, it's here: http://nfc-forum.org/about-us/our-members/ Not only are there lots of Japanese names there, but Sony was one of the three founder members of NFC (with Nokia and Philips/NXP)

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Kristian Walsh
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Apple would prefer you to think that it's their own, exclusive, invention, but ApplePay is just one implementation of the industry-standard EMV Contactless payment protocol.

European customers have had contactless credit cards for over two years now, which, while not the same system (there's less intelligence in the cards), fill the same role as Apple's offering: speeding up low-value card purchases. These cards have the added advantage that you can use them when your phone battery is dead, or when you've lost your phone. There's a limit of around £20/€25/$30 on these transactions, but they're done with a simple tap of the credit card on the reader, much like a contactless subway/mass-transit card (although not as fast).

However, the USA is finally implementing EMV standards for credit card purchases, and it's very likely that merchants will go for terminals that do both Chip+PIN and Contactless. (In the USA, unlike many other countries, the merchant buys the card terminal outright - this is the reason for the delay in upgrading the country's payment infrastructure: the banks could not just swap out the rented terminals and make older systems obsolete like they did elsewhere).

ApplePay is never going to become a dominant player in a market where every credit-card will soon offer the same level of convenience: it'll just be a nice-to-have feature for iPhone users, not something that makes other buyers choose an iPhone (especially as both Android and Windows Phone will soon support contactless card payments too)

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Apple swears that NO FANBOI will queue for its new gumble

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Que?

Don't underestimate Ahrendts. She managed to drag Burberry back from a position of being despised by its customer base to become something that is selling well again. On the other hand, getting people to buy the Watch is going to be a serious challenge for her.

My take on the "no live displays" policy is that it's because the device's battery simply will not last a working day of being picked up and pawed by customers. If you come in at 3:30 pm and see a bench of devices that are all either completely dead, or just about to die, it really doesn't give you much confidence in the product, and it creates a bad-news story that customers will repeat ("I went to the Apple store after lunch yesterday - all the Watches were dead. Not so keen on it now")

Making an appointment is also a way of drawing the customer closer to purchasing, and being unable to make those appointments in-store is what shows this up as a sales trick. If a customer is in the shop, makes an appointment, and an assistant says "Sure, come back in 10 minutes and you can have a look at it", the customer is still in the "I just walked in for a look" mindset with little emotional investment in a purchase - out for a coffee or a look somewhere else, and then back to the Apple shop for a quick look-see.

But, if their appointment is only made online and is more than a day in the future, then the customer has invested much more into the product before they even open the door of the shop, and there is more obligation on that customer to buy, and "not be a time-waster" (you mightn't think this way, but playing on buyer insecurity is the main weapon of the premium goods seller)

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The coming of DAB+: Stereo eluded the radio star

Kristian Walsh
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@boltar

I was very careful to use the word "transmissions", rather than 'frequencies'.

You're entirely correct in what you say, but those inherent weaknesses regarding band choice are more than compensated for by the design of the signal coding and modulation.

My point was simply that the DAB coding scheme was designed to compensate for multipath reflection, FM was not. Taken as a whole, the chain of coding, modulation, transmission, reception, demodulation and decoding for delivery of a DAB programme is therefore less susceptable to interference than that of FM.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: If you have an old DAB,

The lack of dropouts on car FM is a testament to the receiver designers, not to any inherent suitability of the modulation scheme or frequency band to in-vehcile reception. DAB transmissions are less susceptible to doppler and multipath interference than FM.

I got a new car last year with a DAB-capable radio on board, and I was surprised to discover that we have a parallel DAB+ service here in Ireland already (although the coverage of DAB in general is tiny here). Because most channels are broadcast on both DAB and DAB+ it's easy easy to compare the effect of the different encodings on sound quality.

128k MP2 to 64k AAC is not an improvement in quality. The best I could say is that half-bitrate AAC is of "comparable" quality, but at the lower bit-rate I find the audio masking in AAC to be more noticeable than MP2's lack of dynamic range.

However, if you replaced 128kbit of MP2 with 128kbit of AAC you'd have a service that exceeds the quality of FM radio, as the original BBC DAB service at 224 kbit/sec also did.

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Microsoft update mayhem delays German basketball game, costs team dear

Kristian Walsh
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Re: So it's got to the stage....

The argument still stands. In the absence of a big-screen and laptop, could the home team not have just dragged in a flip-chart or hastily got a marker and forty sheets of A4 (0-9 x 4 = two two-digit scores) to show the score?

I suspect, though, that the teams at the time sportingly agreed to wait for the scoreboard without realising that the 15-minute rule would then apply; only after they lost did someone at the losing club got sour and press for it...

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Tim Cook: I'll give just a THIRD of what Gates gave to charity last year

Kristian Walsh
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Re: @Gordon 10

Tim Cook, the private citizen, has made a very generous gesture and should be applauded for it.

However, Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, could do a lot more to meet the social responsibilities of the corporation he leads*. Things have improved since Jobs died, and the company reversed his policy of never giving to charitable causes, but for the size of the company, the amount of corporate citizenship spending is pretty shameful.

* Okay, you can argue that a corporation has no legal duty to fund charitable causes, but it's also true that if I see someone standing on a bridge rail about to jump off, I have no legal duty to stop and try to talk them out of it...

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Force your hand: Apple 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Kristian Walsh
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@Norphy Re: no Ethernet

I think you've misunderstood how media access works on ethernet switches. Every client gets its own private, dedicated link to the switch, and the switch dynamically connects these links together as required.

Any half-decent 1000 Mbit Switch used in an office environment can maintain several parallel Gigabit transfers: the aggregate traffic through even a cheap a 24-port 1Gbit/s switch can be well over 20 Gbit/s. To a user, this means that your file transfer from Server A does not starve someone else's transfer from server B.

By contrast, Wifi makes every client share the same medium (even in 802.11n Multiple-In/Multiple-out networks you will have multiple clients accessing the same contended medium). Packet collision is common, and the aggregate throughput of the network is limited to the capacity of the shared medium. If you start to generate lots of traffic, then other users on the same accesspoint will suffer.

But it's not just performance: Wired networking is also inherently more secure than wireless, and that's the bigger reason for corporate IT managers preferring it.

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Kristian Walsh
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Personally I hated the way the "full screen" feature has been implemented in OS X - the animation lasts far too long, and is distracting in itself, but the real sin was putting it on a global hotkey (ctrl-Command-F) that clashes with so many applications' special-case "Find" functions. (Yes, the app's hotkey overrides the default, but only if its window is focussed: if the app you were looking at doesn't have keyboard focus, something else that you weren't looking at takes over your screen)

If this annoyed you as much as it did me, do this:

Open System Preferences › Keyboard. Click the Shortcuts tab, Select "App Shortcuts" entry in left-hand list. Press [+] to add a new application shortcut.

Choose "All Applications", and "Enter Full Screen" as the menu title. Then use any hard-to-press combination of modifiers and keys as the shortcut, and press "Add"

This technique also works for wresting the easily-hit Command-M away from the evil hands of "Window › Minimize"

(I wonder, has anyone ever deliberately minimised a window this way in OS X? Minimizing in OS X is a user-experience disaster that only exists because Steve Jobs wanted to show off how OS X allowed affine transforms on windows; hold down Shift while you click, and you'll see the "Slow-mo" animation is still there)

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Ford: Our latest car gizmo will CHOKE OFF your FUEL if you're speeding

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Drove a Ford 3 years ago with something similar

"One of the many reasons the English speaking think Europe is a bad idea (note the lack of national assignation)."

Apart from being ill-informed about both the presumption of innocence and jury trial under the Napoleonic legal systems, you're making another big sweep with that statement.

You don't have to travel far from England to find an English-speaking nation that has always been highly positive towards Europe, in the form of the Republic of Ireland. Even within the supposedly Euro-sceptic United Kingdom, Scotland and, to a lesser extent, that bit of England that was historically under the Danelaw (or "up North" in modern terms) tend to be pro-European. Only the South-East of England is home to strong anti-European views.

Further afield, Canada is quite a bit friendlier to the EU than the United States is, but neither are as suspicious of the EU as the average Southern English voter.

So, kindly don't label the rest of us with your own prejudices. Thanks.

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Kristian Walsh
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If it includes GPS, it'll know the difference between km/h zones and mph.

...except around the Northern Irish border, where the Republic's signage (km/h) and Northern Ireland's (mph) are so close to each other that they often share the same mounting poles.

As for reducing speed by cutting the fuel supply under software control, this isn't exactly new: it's how Cruise Control works on a car with electronic throttle control. All they're doing is limiting the user throttle input to that determined by the cruise set-speed (normally the pedal throttle setting overrides the value produced by the cruise-controller). Goods vehicles already have this system to limit them to 80 km/h or 100km/h (but there are many common ways to defeat it...)

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Hey, Woz. You've got $150m. You're kicking back in Australia. What's on your mind? Killer AI

Kristian Walsh
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Re: No wonder Apple won't talk to El Reg

Woz made a lot of money from Apple: about a quarter of a billion dollars by the time he "left" in the early 1980s. He then proceeded to spend as much of it as possible, on the logical grounds that he wasn't going to be able to use it when he was dead, and on the admirable grounds that dumping an un-earned fortune onto his kids would, on balance, be a gross dereliction of his duty as a parent.

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Windows 10 apps to rule them all – phones, slabs and PCs: Microsoft pulls out 'universal' tool

Kristian Walsh
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Re: The folly of a single user interface

(I meant "the ViewModel", of course. Great idea, confusing name... )

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: The folly of a single user interface

"Responsive UI" is just the same principle as "Responsive Web" - the top level container controls in your layout respond to the screen dimensions and lay their content out differently, so that the same "markup" produces a different UI (This already happens in Windows Phone versus "Metro" to a limited extent - "Hub" controls fit one column per screen on phone, but on tablet they're shown as a free-form multi-column layout).

Right now, you need to maintain separate layouts for Tablet and Phone, but with smarter container controls, it might be possible to use the same UI file. Personally, I think that'll only go as far as "get it to run" - for proper UI, you will always have to tweak each device's UI, but hopefully the bulk of the layouts will remain the same. As it is,the code that handles your app UI interaction (the ModelView) remains constant across all layouts (and all platforms, if you've thought ahead).

The other visual problem is of scale: put a touch app directly onto desktop and you'll see that every control is about double the height that it needs to be. However, "Metro"/"Phone" apps use a scaled co-ordinate system, so there is some scope for changing that scaling factor depending on whether you're using mouse or touch. Fix that, and they become fairly well navigable with mouse and scroll-wheel.

The devil, however, is in the details.

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Intel's cheap and Android's free: Not any more, says TAG Heuer

Kristian Walsh
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Fundamental mismatch...

... between the length of time people use watches for, and the length of time mobile phone APIs are supported for.

Some of the highest-priced watch models are more heirlooms than gadgets, but even a £100 watch will give you five to ten years of use. So, cast your mind back ten years in the mobile phone industry, and think of what "future-proof" OS choice a device maker would have made then. Now, go buy a phone running Blackberry, Symbian or Windows Mobile 6 today...

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German court slaps down Uber's ride-sharing app

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Innovation meet .... regulation or why Free enterprise is now a fairytale

Horseshit. If your "better mousetrap" involves exposing its users to higher risks so that you can make it cheaper, then you're not competing, you're cheating.

Taxis started out as unlicensed businesses in every part of the world. Why is it that nearly every part of the word imposes strict regulations on who can operate a taxi?

Predatory criminals haven't disappeared just because some super-entrepreneur has invented a JSON API or whatever techno-flimflam argument is put forward. Human nature is pretty much constant. Technology is only an enabler for what's already there.

Libertarianism is just as stupid an ideal as Communism. Both assume that people only act rationally, and in the best interests of society...

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Internet Explorer LIVES ON, cackle sneaky Microsoft engineers

Kristian Walsh
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Re: @ someone else

United States vs Microsoft Corporation was settled in 2001, three years after the case was brought. But lets stay in this century, shall we?

As the events of 2001 are so relevant now, let's run though what other things were news in 2001: well, beleaguered computer manufacturer Apple launched its portable music player "iPod", and the first release of OS X, its BSD-based replacement for MacOS 9, to very mixed reviews. Also the Linux kernel 2.4 was finally released. Windows had no releases that year, so you had "2000", "98" or "Me", as MS-DOS had only just been discontinued (last release in late 2000). Phone giant Nokia also launched the first phone to run their new Cross-platform OS, called Symbian.

Online, recent tech startup Google was continuing making a name for itself in search, with many predicting that even after just three years it might outdo AltaVista and Lycos in share of searches. Netscape continued its slow self-destruction - we'd still have to wait another two years for Firefox, the only good bit of the horrible Communicator package, to be made available.

For people who produced the stuff that hadn't yet been labelled "content", you could still get a GeoCities account back in 2001. There were no "blogs" by that name. YouTube's trip to the zoo wouldn't happen for another four years. Facebook was three years away, Twitter five. If you wanted to watch video online, you downloaded RealPlayer first. The Dot-com bust might have been over by then, but some players lingered on: If you lived in the selected metropolitan areas that it served, you could still buy your groceries from WebVan.com until the end of the year. If you were rich, you could get a T1 or ISDN Primary Rate line into your premises and reap 1.5 or 2.0 megabits of throughput. Mobile was GPRS at best, with most of the telcos too broke to roll out 3G after overspending for their operating licences.

So, lots there that's still relevant to today's computing industry, I'm sure you believe. Well, except that 2001 was also, like every year this century, the year when Linux on the Desktop was going to make it big.

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Angry Austrian could turn Europe against the US - thanks to data

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Whatever the outcome...

"David" has paved the way for an outstanding legal career!

I suspect this was always his goal. Rather than working with an Irish-based group, he absolutely insisted on being funded to go and live in Ireland for the duration of the action...

That's not to say I think his case is wrong...

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Should online pirates get the same sentences as offline ones?

Kristian Walsh
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GPL

You might read the actual text of the GPL licences sometime. It'll stop you accusing people of violation when all they've done is read, and followed, the conditions that are actually written in it, not the ones you imagine should be in it.

Curiously, your list of evildoers did not include Google, whose entire business is based on modified GPL software.

I'm not saying that Google is in violation of the licence terms, only that, just like those companies you don't like, they got a legal advisor to read the licence and tell them how they could remain compliant with it without needing to give their source-code away.

Personally, I would never release anything under GPL - the default clause of "or any later version" makes a mockery of the agreement, and allows for restrictions to be placed on the use of my works in future solely at the whim of whoever writes the next GPL.

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: The term "pirate" is a propaganda coup

Copying a song, book, or using a patented idea doesn't hurt the creator in any way whatsoever.

As an obvious expert on the concept, can you describe for me how a person goes from having an idea in their head to having a song, book or patent that is of use to other people? If you could identify the exact point in time at which the person gets some money to feed themselves during this process, that would be great, thanks.

You might also ask yourself how we ever got to the situation where you get to read a book that took its author two years of full-time writing to complete for less than the price of two shitty Starbucks coffees when it cost the author a hell of a lot more in lost wages to write it, even at minimum wage levels.

You wanted the work enough to obtain it, so why did you then make the conscious decision to obtain it in a way that gives its authors nothing in exchange?

And "exposure" comes under "nothing in exchange". There's no number big enough to turn zero cents per reader into a living wage.

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Apple Watch: Wait a minute! This puny wrist-puter costs 17 GRAND?!

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Need a bigger laptop bag

To be fair, it is innovative since nobody else has designed such a thin light laptop yet

This shows a shocking lack of knowledge of what the industry outside of Apple is doing.

Microsoft's like-priced Surface Pro3 is thinner, uses a more powerful CPU (Core M is optimised for low-power consumption), includes touch and is lighter if you attach a touch cover. Screen density is comparable, and personally I prefer the 1.5:1 ratio to 16:10 (Ideally, I'd prefer 4:3 for a work device, but nobody does that) If Apple are supposed to be the greatest hardware designers of our age, then why are they being outdone in "innovation" by what Microsoft did last year?

MS does stiff you for a keyboard accessory, but you do get a full-sized USB 3 port, and you can charge the thing, drive a display and use a peripheral at the same time without another easy-lose dongle. (If you think that's not important, you've never given a presentation - a major use-case for MacBook Airs, by what I see)

ASUS will do you a traditional laptop with a 1920x1080 screen display (not as sharp as the MacBook or Surface's 1440-line display), at the same thickness as the MacBook. ASUS mustn't have got the memo from Cupertino about what's possible on small metal enclosures either, because they also include multiple USB ports shave another millimetre off the thickness (12.3 vs 13.2 for Apple), and the whole thing comes in a US$699, or just a shade over half of the Apple product's price. [ Zenbook UX305 ]

I'm not telling you that you shouldn't be buying Apple - it is your money to spend, but do so knowing that what you're getting is not any better than anyone else's offering, just more expensive and less capable.

I currently use a MacBook Air for my laptop. I won't be considering this thing as a replacement for it. Had it offered three USB-C connectors, I could live with its other problems, but as shipped, this is nothing more than a $1200 Facebook receiver.

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HAPPY 20th Birthday MICROSOFT BOB

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Microsoft didn't understand the appeal of Program Manager...

I disagree: one of the things that I have found to be very handy about Windows Phone is the alphabetical listing of applications. Visual memory is easily confused by creating many identical "spaces" with different contents.

Maybe I'm just used to using terminals, but for stuff I don't use, it's a lot quicker to tap on a letter heading, choose the first letter of the app I want, and then launch it, rather than spasm through twenty screens of other crap to visually locate it*

I also launch applications by name in both Windows 8 (Windows-key then start typing its name), and in MacOS X by using a DragThing dock filled with the thirty-or-so things I'll ever use (DT supports type-to-select, and unlike Finder, its implementation is not brain-numbingly stupid).

(* Yes, I know iOS has a search-by-name function by swiping left from the app panel, but by the looks of it, I'm one of the few who does)

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Comic Sans

Comic Sans is of great use to me socially. If I meet someone who claims to be a graphic designer, I ask them what they think of it. Then I ask them about Helvetica.

If they claim Comic Sans is irredeemable while holding Helvetica up as the flawless pinnacle of type design, I change the subject entirely - life's too short to listen to second-hand dogma.

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Hackers' delight? New Apple wrist-puter gives securobods the FEAR

Kristian Walsh
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It'll have the Apple logo

Look at it again. There's no Apple logo visible anywhere on the Apple Watch

— which I think is its fatal weakness in terms of sales.

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Kristian Walsh
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"Given the fact that it is a high profile device which will have wide adoption, "

That's a pretty big claim to just take as a given. How many BYOD iPhone users could have spared the retail price for their current phone, up front? Only people with that disposable income are in the market for an iPhone accessory that costs the same as a high-end SIM-free phone.

(The claimed parallels with iPad are specious. iPad was and is a product that could exist independently of other Apple gear.. I know several people who own iPads and not one other Apple product)

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Storm in a K-Cup: My SHAME over the eco-monster I created, says coffee pod inventor

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Bah ... philistines

French press = one of these: http://www.brookstone.com/webassets/product_images/700x700/750746p.jpg

To use: 1. Boil water, then LET IT COOL for 2-3 minutes; 2. Pour water over coffee to cover grounds; let stand for 10~20 sec. (grounds should foam a little) 3. Fill to full level and stir. 3. attach plunger top and let stand for 1-2 minutes. 4. Push down plunger and DECANT the coffee into a flask or jug.

If you use boiling water at step one, you'll burn the coffee and it'll be bitter; if you don't decant it you'll stew the coffee and it'll be bitter.

Regarding plastic-pod espresso, I much prefer the Lavazza "a Modo Mio" pod system - they've got more coffee in each pod than the smaller Nespressos.

I also like the Aeropress - I've had coffee from one several times, but I don't own one (I've so much coffee gear it's hard to justify getting more). I'm also a fan of good-old fashioned pour-over with filter paper: Chemex make some beautiful jugs to go with their filter-paper system...

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Nokia boss smashes net neutrality activists

Kristian Walsh
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" ill-informed political activism"

Well-informed political activism is the exception, not the rule...

Personally, I support the engineers' view of Net Neutrality, the one that most pro-NN posters here espouse, where performance differentiation within a given service class is forbidden.

... but I'm against the kind of Net Neutrality we'd actually get, the one that most anti-NN posters here describe, where differentiation between service classes will be forbidden too.

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HTC One M9 hands on: Like a smart M8 in a sharp suit

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Android hardware is good....

No, with Apple you always get one update beyond what that the hardware is capable of running.

Whoever signed off iOS 8 as suitable for iPhone 4S was living in a dream world... or deliberately trying to force customers to ditch the 4S and buy the 6 instead.

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Kristian Walsh
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According to the usual factory hobby-photographers, there's also a larger M9 on its way. Also, not a hardware change, but it's been widely "leaked" that this phone will be sold in a version running Windows 10 Phone when that OS becomes available later this year.

Not surprised they didn't change much. First, HTC aren't exactly swimming in money, and second: M8 was already a beautiful phone - especially the design and engineering of the antenna and rear casing, which makes Apple's later efforts with the iPhone 6 look clumsy by comparison.

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Google deal means game over for mobile payments firm Softcard

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Wow...

Yes, there's a strong whiff of anti-trust about this one. Google just bought a direct competitor to Wallet and shut it down.

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Denmark tops European tech table, two other Scandis right behind

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Scandis

Scandinavia comprises the countries of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Historically, that included Denmark as one-time possessors of Skåne (roughly "skaw-neh") in Southern Sweden, the region after which the peninsula is named. That little "å" in the name Skåne is a good signifier: if your language uses it, you're Scandinavian; if not, you're not.

(Wikipedia tells me that by this rule, Bavaria is in Scandinavia, which goes to show you shouldn't try to reduce things down to single rules ;) )

Based only on the views of people I've met, the Finns do not consider themselves to be Scandinavian, although the large minority of ethnic Swedes in the country may differ in that view. Icelanders consider themselves of "Scandinavian descent" rather than being Scandinavian per se. I've never met anyone from the Faroe Islands to ask them.

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Bloody TECH GIANTS... all they do is WASTE investors' MONEY

Kristian Walsh
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Sadly, it doesn't really matter what you'd pay money for. The only people whose opinions matter in the phone business are Telefonica, Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone, Hutchison, Orange, etc...

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Redmond boffins build coffins for exploit kits

Kristian Walsh
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Re: This:

"So, at a stroke, their tool has been rendered useless even before it's been used...."

It's feasible to build a space elevator. It doesn't mean we've got one, or that it'll be cheap or easy or likely to get one.

As it says in the article, the tool works precisely because current malware authors do not extensively use polymorphic code. Modern malware is far more complex than the kind of 1980s viruses that used this technique, and unlike back then, virtually all malware is written in high-level languages, with little visibility of where the machine instructions lie in memory.

What this technique does is make the job of making malware unidentifiable an order of magnitude more difficult: re-packagers can no longer rely on a simple change of their delivery script's obfuscation technique. Making malicious acts very hard to perform is the essence of computer security.

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Apple forks out nearly $2bn for two ripe, green data centres

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Servicing that demand?

If you made a panel that could convert squally drizzle to energy, Ireland's the place for it, but solar? no...

Wind is the only readily available renewable/"green" in Ireland, and that's not stable enough for a data centre. Power to serve the facility's base-line load has to come from somewhere, so I'm curious about whether they'll surprise the world and have their contractors address this reality with a technical solution (there are a few storage options, but they're expensive and untested at this scale), or go with routine and deploy the usual eco-hogwash of compensatory planting, carbon credits and technology funding.

I also can't help but think that when you scale applications up to the point where they're burning a Terawatt-Hour of electrical power every year to run, there's scope for optimising software to conserve energy, not just time or storage.

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Kristian Walsh
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Servicing that demand?

I wonder where they're going to find the generating capacity for this centre. The projected consumption will be equivalent to the current domestic demand of the Greater Galway area (about 160,000 people).

Ireland does not have a lot of spare generating capacity, and despite what you might think if you've ever "enjoyed" a walk along the Cliffs of Moher, the wind doesn't blow 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, which rules out the most available "green" option in this country.

I expect Apple to be sold pretty much all of the little "green" energy that's produced here, while the providers buy in nuclear-generated power from France and UK to meet the resulting shortfall. (I have no issue with nuclear power, btw; just find it ironic that this will be the likely outcome).

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: WHAT Fields ?

The Liverpool supporters' song has different lyrics, and its chorus substitutes "Anfield Road" for "Athenry", so no...

However, you only need to assemble around ten Irish people at a sporting event involving Ireland before the probability of the original version of this song being sung reaches 1.

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Marconi: The West of England's very own Italian wireless pioneer

Kristian Walsh
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Re: Splendid ties

I suspect that's more to do with the description "Italian radio pioneer".

I still agree, though. The reverse-snobbery of the tech industry when it comes to personal appearance is depressing: reacting against the "corporate" suit-and-tie has just resulted in Technology becoming its mirror-image where anyone who looks after their appearance more than is "necessary" is judged to be shallow or incompetent.

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Raspberry Pi, meet face: You're probably NOT Blighty's biggest PC maker!

Kristian Walsh
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British manufacturer, or British-manufactured?

Raspberry Pi is a British company, whose computers are made in Wales, a country that is part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Amstrad is a British company, whose computers were manufactured in Taiwan, a country that is pa— um, actually, let it just suffice for me to say, "is not in the UK", rather than get into that particular minefield.

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Apple Watch 'didn't work on HAIRY FANBOIS, was stripped of sensor tech'

Kristian Walsh
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Re: People will still buy them

But it won't have an Apple logo

...You know that even the real Apple watch doesn't actually have an Apple logo on it?

I think this, not the price, and not the battery life, is the product's Achilles Heel. Without the conspicuous Apple logo, how is everyone else sitting in Starbucks going to know that you've got a real one?

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Kristian Walsh
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Re: Progression

That's who Apple seems to emulate on the conspicuous consumption spectrum.

Apple's marketing and retail owes much more of a debt to Chanel or Dior than to BMW.

Sadly, past experience tells me that I now have to explain that I don't mean this as a put-down: when it comes to marketing what is a fairly everyday product (again, relax - "smartphone" or "tablet" is an everyday product) and achieving a high retail price for it, there's nobody to touch the cosmetics business.

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Gov.UK begs Google 'n' U.S. tech pals: Forget Ireland, come to Blighty

Kristian Walsh
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It's not just tax...

The one thing the UK government could do to undermine Ireland's attractiveness to American companies would be to join the Euro.

It's not just a tax-wheeze that these companies are looking for. They want a base in a major trading zone, where people speak English, and there isn't so much veiled hostility towards the USA.

(That latter point was made to be more than once by American colleagues about why they didn't like travelling to the UK, but I'd say it counts for more than any amount of tax schemes...)

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