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* Posts by Charlie Clark

2709 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

European Commission plans net neutrality push

Charlie Clark
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Re: Of course it isn't explained

Actually, both Finland and Sweden demonstrate the importance of both in driving their own, different tech business clusters: cheap communications are very important in high-wage economies.

As for no startups in the telco market I suspect it may depend upon your definition but I think the plans to encourage wholesale and simplify market entry will favour expansion of companies like Iliad, which has successfully disrupted the French telco market. Communications are extremely fungible which should encourage new entrants to the market.

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Charlie Clark
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@HollyHopDrive

Who won't last long, exactly? Barroso? No, his term won't be renewed and a good thing to as he has been a very poor president of the European Commission. Neelie Kroes is continuing both her own relatively good work as Trade Commissioner before she moved to the current brief, and her predecessor's Viviane Reding who gave us the roaming caps.

The Commission continues to do a lot for pretty much everyone by rolling back subsidies (Olympic, Alitalia and more recently Renault), protecting consumer rights (even against arseholes like O'Leary) and making cross-border trade easier. But that's all boring stuff that doesn't make good headlines like: "Brussels wants all cows to be the same colour."

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You thought NFC tags were Not For Consumers? Well, they're in Maplin's

Charlie Clark
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Looking forward to mine

Samsung ran a promotion at the end of last month with all new NFC phones: everyone gets a carkit, some covers and a "tec tile" - RFC sticker to do with as you please. Not sure if I move around enough to want a profile switch but I'm looking forward to seeing what is possible. Personally, I like the idea of an NFC and code -based lock system (something you have and something you know) for things like car-sharing.

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Apple’s iOS 64-bit iUpgrade: Don't expect a 2x performance leap

Charlie Clark
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Re: It'll be interesting to see how this is handled on Android when the time comes...

@IHateWearingATie

Okay, I'll bite - fragmentation has been a red herring for a while on Android. It was initially a big problem as new 1.x releases introduced extensive new APIs that often required hardware support which a lot of the first phones didn't provided. This was exacerbated by manufacturers and networks not having the right kind of resources to manage and distribute updates of the OS together with their own stuff.

The hardware API has been pretty stable since about Android 2.2 which is why you see stuff in the store saying that devices with less than 2.2 won't be supported. Over the last 18 months the major manufacturers have got much better (though there is still some way to go) at managing OS updates and taking advantage of the reference Nexus models to road-test the hardware / software combination.

So, I have a two-year old Galaxy 8.9 with Android 4.0, an X-Cover 2 with 4.1 an S4 Mini with 4.2 all happily running the same apps except for a couple that are tablet only. Interestingly the S4 Mini and X-Cover 2 are good examples of how well Android handles different screen resolutions: the screens are roughly the same size but the mini has significantly greater pixel density, obvious when comparing say map applications but icon sizes are physically almost identical which makes them both equally easy to operate. Compare and contrast with Apple's own rule-breaking I-Pad mini.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: iOS-based laptops?

Maybe not IOS-based but potentially ARM64-based MacBook Airs. There is a lot to be gained by consolidating the tool chain for the underlying OS which is what Apple has been doing in the last two releases of MacOS with Mavericks presumably due to go further.

Of course, for users the move to 64-bit is just another ratchet to buy a new handset as more and more apps require 64-bitted IOS 7.

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New iPhones: C certainly DOESN'T stand for 'Cheap'

Charlie Clark
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Re: Sorry apple, you are just too slow to innovate and lack imagination.

S versions never make massive changes, arguably this one does so more than other S versions have.

Remind us again of the major changes that the 5 made over the 4s? Oh, yes it was a bit longer.

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Sony unveils Tap 11, the world's SLIMMEST tablet PC (for now)

Charlie Clark
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A modest proposal

@Sony &Toshiba

Try making Android combos patents $200 cheaper (no windows tax and no Intel tax) and you might be surprised at how many you sell.

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The REAL winner of Microsoft's Nokia buy: GOOGLE

Charlie Clark
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Spare me a dime

re. money

The $15 is not real money but often part of licensing. I think we would see it challenged if it wasn't approaching expiry.

re. Nokia's patents

Microsoft only has 10 years access to them; the patents are staying with Nokia. another spectacular bit of negotiating from Microsoft.

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Charlie Clark
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re. But wait

IDC has a reputation for being very enthusiastic when it comes to Microsoft. with the right team and determination they might well pull off a surprise (personally I can't see that happening without breaking the company up, but what do I know?). But those recent stats for Mexico seemed to show feature phone to Android more than anything else. Android now has the eco-system around both hardware and software that Microsoft and Intel used to have: Samsung et al. now have even more reason to invest in it.

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Punter strikes back at cold callers - by charging THEM to call HIM

Charlie Clark
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Bogus assertion

but mostly it’s the price we pay for the collapse in the cost of communications…

This is utter nonsense. Deregulation and accompanying drops in charges has happened across the EU without the same increase in calls.

Cold calls are an unsolicited invasion of privacy and as such illegal. The infrastructure is already in place to clamp down on the offenders whether they are based in the UK or not. The problem is a regulator lacking both the teeth and balls to enforce the law.

Ofcom should be working to make it easy for people to report offenders and lobbying for fines that will deter companies from risking being reported: not necessarily the company making the call but whichever network facilitates the call. This was the logic behind the changes in the law in Germany last year which drastically increased the fines for cold callers. They also made it illegal to charge customers on waiting to speak to an operator.

My advice to anyone receiving cold calls is to note the name of the company making the call and inform them that you will report them. If you are receiving a lot of abuse then contact your provider and get them to enable tracing (yes, it's already active for GCHQ but you have to pay for it) and get them to do their job in pursuing the offending network. Any costs incurred can probably be reclaimed in legal action and threatening small claims should probably end any discussion. A report to your MP and Ofcom at the end.

If people actually start doing something about the menace then there is a higher chance of the regulator taking notice and possibly even doing their job.

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Look out ARM, Intel, here comes MIPS – again

Charlie Clark
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Re: No publicly available PowerVR documentation

Talk about missing the point… has the lack of docs on the Power VR chips hindered the sales to Apple? Do the lockdowns on the Qualcomm and Broadcom chips stop them finding their way into our gadgets?

Anyway open source OS on MIPS does have a long and successful history and long may it continue.

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Do not adjust your eyes: This Kobo ten-incher has a 2560 x 1600 resolution

Charlie Clark
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I don't know that I agree with you. I love both my Kobo Glo (2012) and Galaxy 8.9 (2011). Both are small and light enough to be taken on longer trips, with the tablet rather effectively replacing my notebook when I don't expect to be able to do any more work than some research and e-mail but you can't use a tablet in the sunshine.

I would love something like the ill-fate Que for all my technical documentation. The Glo is fantastic for standard books but some tech stuff just seems to demand more space. The AuraHD is tempting is but not big enough.

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Three axes data-roaming fees in SEVEN countries

Charlie Clark
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Re: Yeah, it's surprising...

The EU Commission found them guilty of price fixing - the savings made by roaming on sister networks led to fatter profits not lower charges for customers - which led to the price caps set by the Commission.

It looks like Three is one of the first to take advantage of the new wholesale pricing that the Commission mandated. If the other networks don't follow then we can expect MVNOs to give it a shot. My money would be on companies like Free in France trying to come up with similar offers.

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Why Teflon Ballmer had to go: He couldn't shift crud from Windows 8, Surface

Charlie Clark
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Re: there were those of us commentards who were saying he wouldn't last the year

When you've been saying that for the last 5 years it doesn't sound quite as prophetic ;)

Good job I haven't then.

The reality is that Ballmer has been asked to go by the same people who until recently were backing him unconditionally. Yet another example of poor corporate governance.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Bad bosses adn failures

Windows 7 and Server 2008 were both in response to the market going "no, thanks" to Vista.

The bottom line is that even with the failures Microsoft was still making enough cash to keep everyone more or less happy. Then along comes Windows 8 in all its terrible flavours and suddenly everyone realises that there is no real plan for tomorrow. What happened to the business market with Vista "give us XP or we're leaving" happened with 8 only more so as the OEM realised that they were being asked to invest heavily in kit people don't want. 8.1 isn't going to fix that and the competition gets more viable everyday.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Pretty much says it all

Buzz is not revenue.

At one of my client's which is a big MSFT customer they have Lync and Cisco telephones. Lync is still of the pre-Skype variety and already does everything necessary: chat and screenshare. It's supposed to do audio but the VPN seems to scupper that and, as they're already on VoIP, what's the point? I don't see room for new synergies. I have been using Skype for over 10 years but have dropped it from my mobile devices because it is no longer a simple chat client. As a user experience Google's Hangout is far superior in my view even if all the kids are on What's App. Where's Microsoft in all that?

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Charlie Clark
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Pretty much says it all

Ballmer also spent billions of dollars for no gain: $6.3bn on online ads publishing house aQuantive, written down by $6.2bn; $8.5bn on a loss-making VoIP biz called Skype; and nearly $1bn on parts for unsold Surface RT tablets, which are powered by an ARM port of Windows that can't run the gigantic library of x86 Windows apps.

That really is a staggering indictment of his tenure. But what was the board doing?

And while El Reg still thought in May that he could stick around there were those of us commentards who were saying he wouldn't last the year. Still I also said there wouldn't be an IE 11 but you can't win them all.

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Ballmer's emotional farewell to Redmond: I LOVE THIS COMPANY

Charlie Clark
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Re: Investors will be happy....

Yes, but that is why there is a board of directors to represent the shareholders. Seeing as they've been quiet so far they must have agreed with those actions, even if they did seem fairly bizarre to us outsiders at the time.

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BALLMER TO RETIRE FROM MICROSOFT

Charlie Clark
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Go

Probably worth a bet. Nokia could get absorbed and manage the hardware division - might actually improve things if their able to piss on the Windows team from inside the tent.

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Nokia's PHAB-ULOUS comeback attempt: Huge WinPho 8 mobe rumoured

Charlie Clark
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Flame

Re: Nokia Tablet

Android is not Linux. You are comparing apples with moonrocks.

If it's so compact why isn't Windows NT running on my television, my router or my Raspberry Pi? Because the Linux kernel although monolithic, incidentally just like NT since v 4 IIRC, can be stripped down and optimised for a particular hardware configuration. Why is Microsoft still peddling Windows CE for embedded devices if NT is a low memory solution.

Of course, Symbian stomps on both Android and WP when it comes to running a full multi-tasking OS in little memory. As does QNX when it comes to it.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Same old nonsense from dismissive journos.

It is also quite popular in India and Russia… Yes, the low margin System 40 phones are popular. What aren't selling so well, and this is visible in Nokia's bottom line, are the Lumias.

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Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: Nokia Tablet

And it's miles more secure, responsive and efficient than Android - and works better with low memory amounts...Well over 99% of WP apps and games will work even on the handsets with the smallest amount of RAM....

Oh do fuck off! NT scales no better than any other modern OS, it's not more secure and, as a kernel it uses more memory. Android can use more resources because it can put an app in a VM. This makes the whole system more secure but all systems are open to abuse.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Nokia Tablet

WP8's GUI probably won't scale to tablet just like Android's didn't initially. I've got so confused by Microsoft's strategy but I think that RT is WP8 for tablets (ARM architecture, all kinds of code and app restrictions).

Can't see Nokia funding a tablet themselves. But the "Surface 2" could be be badged and rebranded as Nokia as MS tries to get away from the tarnished image. In that case expect the OS to get a lick of paint at well and be either WP for tablets or some such, even if it is RT 8.1.

Wait and see, I guess. But it's going to be increasingly hard to catch up with Samsung's UI innovations on large phones / tablets: split screen is probably already patented.

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HP hammered in servers, storage, and PCs in fiscal Q3

Charlie Clark
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Re: HP still makes money...

Yes, but it would have made a lot of more money without those write downs.

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Charlie Clark
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What software sells

I've lost track of what HP bought in the last few years. After the Autonomy write-down we can assume it isn't driving sales, so what is?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: If Dell is making ProLiant machines now, HP is in worse trouble!

Yes, it's a bit of slip, though you could infer from the first sentence that ProLiant = industry standard.

In any case, Dell also isn't making any money from the sales even if it is stealing market share from HP. This is one reason why it is taking itself private. PCs, servers, etc. have reached saturation point which is why there is no money in volume anymore. You have exceptional products, like Apple's, to get any decent margins. I've been looking at some of the newer notebook pondering a move from my MacBook but the cheap ones are all underspecced, particularly the screens and come with Windows 8 (no thank you), the high-end waste their time with touchscreens, and there seems to be no middle ground (good but not touch screen, > 4 GB RAM, light) for € 500. If things don't improve my next machine may well be another Apple.

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Delta Air Lines makes mass Windows Phone 8, Lumia 820 buy

Charlie Clark
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Ancillary sales

The news gets better for Redmond when one considers that its Dynamics ERP software sits behind the in-flight ordering app that will run on the smartmobes.

I suspect that the software is the real $$$$ purchase and the phones are the cheapest that will run with it. Doesn't really matter if it's 1000 or 20000 phones if the software is $ millions. Seeing as you want the GSM/UMTS radios of the devices switched off probably all the time this probably just another example of commodity phone hardware with custom software replacing custom hardware and software.

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Kim Kardashian's bosom pal in bling snatch Instagram unpleasantness

Charlie Clark
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Coat

Re: Wow, too bad...

Reminds me of the spate, or at least reported spate of muggings of I-Pods when the white headphones came out.

I'd have held his coat…

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Jolla's first Sailfish phone preorders 'fully booked'

Charlie Clark
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Re: Nokia submarines

If there is a hardware bootlock then removing it is illegal in many countries. Another thing we have to thank the DMCA for.

OTOH who's likely to find out? Unless you send it back for repair? Where they're just likely to tell you the guarantee is void.

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Battery-free e-ink screen grabs screenshots from smartphones

Charlie Clark
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Agreed the screenshot is just to demonstrate effectively random content. The principle will be of great use where you want autonomous devices with securely updatable display information.

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Barnes & Noble booked for running out of £29 Nooks

Charlie Clark
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Re: Surely Fire Sales Are Always Limited?

The rules for promoting sales are well-known to all retailers. It's consumer protection to prevent customers being hoodwinked by incredible bargains only to be told that "they have all sold out, but we do have XYZ", with XYZ being a different product that is not discounted.

However, this is more a matter for trading standards than the ASA. Quick word with them or threaten small claims usually does the trick.

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Green German gov battles to keep fossil powerplants running

Charlie Clark
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This "the possibility of synthesising transport fuel using renewable power is starting to look cost effective" will be one of the most important discoveries ever. Electricity + CO2 + H2O = O2 + fuel

Currently, it is not cost-effective because all the power produced by renewables can be sold on the market. Once renewables become competitive enough to have to compete then dealing with any surplus (unsold) production becomes economical. This might well start to happen before 2020 because LPG is likely to remain significantly cheaper than petrol.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: nuclear is not an option

@mmeier

A law to prevent the import of electricity generated by whatever means would contravene the Single Market and, therefore, never pass. However, what is increasingly likely is getting consumers to buy from utilities that do not buy, say power from French nuclear plants. This is much the same as labelling food as not being genetically modified.

Of course, there are scandals related to this such as hydro-power generated from water storage pushed uphill by nuclear plants. But, over time, the push-pull effect dumping cheap surplus renewables and refusing to buy surplus nuclear power is likely to have a significant effect on surrounding markets: the build-out of both solar and wind in France in the last couple of years is impressive as EDF realises it has to adapt, it is already buying German solar power in the summer which means it needs to worry less about the problems finding water to cool its nuclear stations.

Now that the row about solar panels has been solved with China we can expect continued expansion especially in the areas suitable for solar South of the river Main. By 2020 we could be looking at regular shutdowns of power stations in the summer months. though we will need more for those cold, dark, calm winter days.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: What I don't understand ..

The initial policy was well-intentioned and reasonably sane (the industry happily signed up to it). It was then sabotaged by the current government pandering to the industry only to have the same government rip the new agreement in a fit of populism months later, which will lead to massive payouts to the energy companies, independent of what kind of energy is produced. There has been a political stand-off about the future which may well not get resolved by the election in September. Whichever way that turns out, nuclear is off the agenda for the life of the current plants and given the time it takes to build new ones that means no new nuclear capacity before 2030 by which time Germany will have had to find another solution anyway.

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Charlie Clark
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The sad situation is that Germany must now import power that is much less green than before.

Yes, but this has been going on ever since energy became tradable across borders. You're also neglecting to say that on sunny, windy days Germany is exporting cheap, clean energy to its neighbours with similar consequences for the conventional fuel plants there.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Ramp up hydrogen creation

Electrolysis of water and CO2 is currently too expensive to be competitive with gas as gas, but more than competitive with petrol and diesel when sold as LPG because of the difference in tax treatment. Source, in German pp.5 Of course, tax treatment will change quickly if we all start switching to be LPG!

Also, if shale gas takes off in Europe, or even if the Americans get around to exporting it, the calculations will change again. But often, just the existence of other possibilities is enough to drive down prices: such has already been the effect of shale (and Norwegian) gas on long term contracts with Gazprom. These kind of changes are at the core of dispute of the power oligopoly in Germany: new technologies strongly favour smaller, decentralised production but their business models favour large, centralised production. Expect more propaganda from all sides as this rolls on.

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Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

The costs for nuclear plants always leave out the massive subsidies routinely given to the industry and largely ignore the costs of decommissioning and dealing with the waste. Even then they overrun massively and seeing as you cite Finland: how about the clusterfuck of the recent reactor build there?

The current noises coming from RWE, E.ON, et al. are timed to coincide with the German election and also as part of the ongoing fight about lost profits as a result of the current's government decision initially to extend the lifetime of nuclear power only to turn 180° within a year.

Renewable energy is far from a fairy tale; it is simply a requirement in countries without their own energy reserves. German industry is largely being shielded from price increases which are pushing consumers hard. Indeed some German companies are taking advantage of the situation to produce their own energy. German policy will no doubt be reformed after the election but nuclear is not an option. As retroactively adjusting feed-in tariffs would most likely be legal, electricity is going to continue to get more expensive (at € 0.25 / kWH it's already eye-watering) but plenty of adjustments can and will be made. Shale may well become an option in Europe but even without it, the possibility of synthesising transport fuel using renewable power is starting to look cost effective and would be a good way to handle the surplus production on windy, sunny days.

Furthermore, it's worth noting that even with such expensive electricity, inflation in Germany is significantly below that in the UK, where the chances of the lights going out are even higher despite the pro-nuclear lobby.

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Microsoft shoehorns Skype into Outlook.com - we quickly kick the tyres

Charlie Clark
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WebRTC

This looks like an attempt to sabotage WebRTC by keeping chat proprietary.

The use case is just bizarre. OTT communications like Skype work best as standalone apps on mobile devices - why is the call not from the seedy tattoo studio with the guy half-pissed? That is surely closer to reality!

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Microsoft announces execution date for failed QR code-killer

Charlie Clark
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Move along, please. Nothing to see here.

Just a PR stunt of a cartoon (monkey?) boy going under a bus.

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Does Gmail's tarted-up tab makeover bust anti-spam laws?

Charlie Clark
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Re: CAN-SPAM is toothless

Unfortunately, this is on a corporate mail server with Outlook as the client so I have no Bayesian learning filters. E-mails have been reported upstream as spam and, guess what, they still keep coming.

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Charlie Clark
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CAN-SPAM is toothless

I've been receiving e-mail from a US company (Grainger FWIW) for a while. Of course, I've unsubscribed but to no effect.

I read up on what I can do to stop it: the answer, as far as I can tell, is pretty much nothing. CAN-SPAM seems to be largely about running mail servers and little to do with consumer protection. Can't say I'm surprised.

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Peak Apple? HOGWASH! Apple is 'extremely undervalued,' says Icahn

Charlie Clark
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Talking to the board

I guess it's borderline. He is perfectly within his rights to demand more debt (and, therefore taxpayer)-funded share buybacks or anything else and to solicit support from others for this. But to suggest that you have special access to the board or are privy to future plans is naughty. I guess it comes down to interpretation: is here implying influence or are we inferring it? Icahn's no fool and has enough cash to pay lawyers to fight any possible case. Then, unfortunately, there are the facts: Apple is probably slightly undervalued based on the p/e ratio, and, it has more than enough cash in the bank to justify payouts either in the form of tax inefficient dividends (taxed as income) or buybacks (taxed as capital gains).

Apple will have to tread carefully on this. If Icahn can ally himself with another couple of investors he can force the board to consider his proposals officially. Even if a vote on the issue were rejected, the whole process would be highly disruptive as can be seen at Dell.

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Chipzilla Atomises fondleslabs with new reference designs

Charlie Clark
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Re: Biggest issue for Intel

I think having a fully-featured LLVM backend is more work than anyone is so far prepared to do. Of course, Intel has the resources to help make a difference but in doing so it would have to do work that would also benefit other architectures. And, of course, LLVM requires more memory on a device and isn't a win in every situation.

Anyway, for games isn't access to the graphics system more important than CPU? How compatible are Intel's graphics with Mali, et al.?

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Charlie Clark
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Not just power

Atom, a product they've mostly ignored today because its previous incarnations couldn't match ARM-derived rivals for power consumption

To be honest, Atom chips have been pretty close to ARM in power / performance for a while now but they are still significantly more expensive. In a tablet retailing for € 150 - 200 how much is actually available for the processor over say the screen, the radios and storage? And if the target market are developing economies then drop the retail price by € 100, even less budget for Intel's premium silicon.

Things might improve once Intel has SoC's but the competition isn't standing still: both Samsung and Mediatek are sampling 8-core ARM designs and Qualcomm, nVidia and TI can't be far off.

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Leaked photos of iPhone 5C parts portend ugly Google legal battle

Charlie Clark
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More like Mattel

Or whoever made the "Simon" toys with the same colours: coloured buttons that's got to be patentable.

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Waiting for a Windows Phone update? Let's talk again next year

Charlie Clark
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Re: Nokia's Fall from Glory

Just back from a week in blighty and I was surprised by the amount of Nokia ads on the telly. Must be costing a pretty packet. I think they've given up here in Jormany.

Nice kit but doomed.

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Charlie Clark
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Long tradition

Can we assume that, just like WP 7 phones, the current generation won't necessarily benefit from any update when it does come? Assuming things like multitasking are improved the hardware bar is likely to be lifted and some people might just be left holding "landfill Nokias" and wondering why they didn't just go with Android (landfill or not) in the first place.

Not that most people ever really want to update the OS on their telephone and, in a perfect world, they shouldn't really need to. But as this article points out Windows Phone is deficient in a number of areas.

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Microsoft loosens strings on Office 365, drops kimono on upgrade options

Charlie Clark
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Re: NO THANKS

Admittedly, I've not looked at Office 365 but it seems to me extremely ambitious to try and shift such a key component of many people's business software onto NSA sponsored servers. I can imagine companies might buy into their own hosted versions (give them more control and cut out file-servers) except that they won't trust MS to deliver anything usable in the browser if they've had previous experience of something like Sharepoint.

But at the moment I don't think the technology is really there for large scale browser apps that can also save to local file systems.

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Peter Capaldi named as 12th Doctor Who

Charlie Clark
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Good call

Adds some gravitas to the Doctor and gives Capaldi the chance to distance himself from Malcolm Tucker - a role in which he is fucking brilliant, but like all roles ultimately limited.

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Microsoft cuts Surface Pro price by $100

Charlie Clark
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Definitely not like Apple

This might be part of a cunning strategy to differentiate themselves from Apple.

When Apple has had unsuccessful product launches in the past it has just unceremoniously and silently buried them: the last Apple cube. They never discount and that's even without OEMs who might be pissed off by the competition.

By contrast, over the last couple of months Microsoft has managed to tarnish the Surface brand by keeping the RTs in the headlines. Yes, many of us think that they are still overpriced, but that's also because we think they're crippled. The impact on the "Surface" brand is worth a lot more than the write-off of the inventory not least because it can't be handled tax efficiently.

During this time OEMs who were either burned by the RT fiasco or, wisely, decided to sit it out have been launching interesting an competitive Windows 8 devices* at prices with reasonable margins. The market is still confused by Surface RT and Surface Pro and Microsoft comes along and after sticking the fire sale label on RT proceeds to do the same with Pro. This is immediately going to put downward pressure on prices and margins of other devices. Way to go, Microsoft!

* As I have to lug a Windows notebook around between docking stations I am truly interested in anything lighter.

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