* Posts by Charlie Clark

4303 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant

Charlie Clark
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This make me ask: why does the person who committed the code still have commit rights?

Maybe it's debatable as to how possible compiler optimisations are reflected in source code. I've always thought it was the compiler's job to figure this out using minimal sugar in the source. But this kind of debate is obviously misplaced in the kernel and probably indicative of other issues: maybe it's time to part ways.

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Charlie Clark
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80 character lines is not bullshit, it is still relevant today. More text than that on one line is not as legible

That's not quite true. Line lengths of about 120 chars are fine which is why paperbacks use them. But 80 chars is generally enough for most lines.

The 80 chars come from the terminals used in the 1970s and the practice of distributing patches via e-mail where additional line breaks could cause problems. It's stayed around because readable diffs are so important.

80 chars isn't a hard limit in Python and I don't know any people who use something like lint to enforce it. PEP 8 is the main set of rules, wisely reminding us that "foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of tiny minds".

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Deutsche Bank to axe 'excessively complex' IT, slash 9,000 jobs

Charlie Clark
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Re: Colin Computer Scientist comes crawling from Uni.

You obviously have no idea about large systems.

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Europe fails to ban web 'fast lanes' – what now for Euro net neutrality?

Charlie Clark
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Good article

So much of El Reg is either slap-dash or PR for some vested interest, so it's nice to see articles like these.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Free roaming isn't all that either

So this is a success for the telecos u der the auspicious stewardship of H-dot.

Actually no. The whole thing is running under Ansip's remit, Oettinger's got his fingers in other pies.

As Kieren rightly points out the law is a typical fudge: roaming and net neutrality have nothing to do with each other and, therefore, shouldn't be on the same bill. But it was cooked up as a compromise to suit the nation states, who are more or less beholden to the telcos (though less in Germany than in France or the UK). Both the European Commission and the European Parliament have historically been much more pro-consumer in this field (Viviane Reding wanted to eliminate roaming charges over ten years ago!).

The key to all the EU's regulation is making sure than a healthy wholesale market exists. For ISPs, this means LLU and occasionally inspecting peering agreements between the companies that provide the physical infrastructure of the internet. Without proper supervision some companies could, at least in theory, start offering their own private interwebs and thus ensuring exclusivity. Imagine one of the behemoths buying a film or TV studio.

For mobile, this means the ability to choose a separate company to provide roaming services. I'm already in my second year of no roaming charges for calls, and this is on a German PAYG card. When visiting the UK I already have a dedicated SIM for data only, but wouldn't it be even easier to use my existing one but choose the same UK provider? On modern infrastructure phone calls have negligible marginal cost for providers, which is why they were so loathe to lose the free money they were making on roaming, but data may remain a permanent bottleneck (we'll always want to watch films using more bandwidth than is available on any particular cell). This would restrict investment because of the promise of negative returns without some kind of a cap. A wholesale market provides space for third parties to provide additional capacity. Got a low-data UK PAYG and visiting France? Why not buy 2GB for 1 week for 1 Euro directly from Orange France as opposed to whatever gouging your own provider has to offer? Arbitrage should lead to prices consolidating around a sustainable level over time.

Net neutrality has been a largely hysterical sideshow, though it did raise some important issues. But, at the end of the day, does it really come down to being encouraged to use the streaming service of your ISP over something like Watchever?

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SatNad failure as Lumia income drops over 50% at Microsoft

Charlie Clark
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Re: Sail away, sail away

David Gray tune…

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Charlie Clark
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What is this about?

But the revenue figure is uncontested, and real revenue is what counts.

Not really. Income is what really matters. Lots of the phone makers can waive impressive revenue numbers around but few have any profits worth speaking of.

I haven't viewed the numbers but it looks to me like the beginning of the end of WP: going nowhere in the high-end, withdrawing from the low-end and the licensing deal seems as popular as leprosy.

The update cycle is a farce. It's like the worst combination of Android an IOS: you can only get updates from MS but they come once in a blue moon and, by Mr Orlowski's account, seem to be following the ITunes development strategy of adding crap and removing useful bits.

There are lots of things to admire in Windows Phone and the devices are generally very impressive builds for their price (I'm a sucker for OLED which rarely comes so cheap) but Office and Cortana on Android an IOS may already be making more real moolah for MS than WP ever will.

And whether you like MS or not, we should all recognise that they didn't get where they did with marketing alone: they have some great technology and some good tools. It would be nice to see them entering new markets with them.

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Further confusion at TalkTalk claims it was hit by 'sequential attack'

Charlie Clark
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Either that or the floggle-toggle. Some things never change.

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Is China dumping smartphones on world+dog?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Rightwards Ho

Quite right. Clickbait with a headline about how cheap Chinese phones are sweeping the planet and use it as a lever to talk unscientifically and simplistically about the collapse of the steel industry. As if it hasn't been collapsing since the 1980s.

I live in Germany and know damn well what I pay for electricity (€ 0.25 per kWh). I don't even mind paying more, well the extra we're going to pay to keep the Bavarians happy is annoying, but nevertheless I'm in general agreement with the policy. I also know that this is much more than what any of the many industrial factories pay for their power. I also realise that power in the US is even cheaper, though that particular advantage is somewhat by the current artificial exchange rates.

Steel isn't that fungible but with the current stupidly engineered oversupply some producers are desperate to get rid of it. I think WTO talks about US claims of dumping by the EU have only recently been resolved.

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Ireland moves to scrap 1 and 2 cent coins

Charlie Clark
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Re: EUROBYL: The catastrophe that just. keeps. on. giving.

The rounding has nothing to do with the tom-foolery and financial repression of money printing.

It is a reaction to the financial drag imposed by the highly effective "barrier pricing" of 0.99 or 0.49. Effective because research indicates that most people think that 0.99 is significantly less than 1.00 and, therefore, people buy something for *.99 because they think it is a big discount over *+1.99. This behaviour leads to sums at the checkout requiring the expensive to process small change. Outside of Germany, where it was studied and found that people do care (and this is largely why there are 1 and 2 cent pieces), it turns out that most people are more than happy with a round-up/round-down approach.

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You know when you spill your drink but keep on dancing anyway? That's totally Intel right now

Charlie Clark
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Re: Being strong is not enough

Also, that should the ARM architecture start making serious inroads, then it'll be Intel fabbing the best of them.

Maybe, but the prices and margins on ARM are much, much lower. As Intel has already found out in the tablet space.

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BLABBERGEDDON BEGINS! Twitter lays off 8% of its workforce

Charlie Clark
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Re: 4000 employees?

Fleecing venture capitalists?

No, they made their money back when it went public.

I can imagine some money being spent to get the feed by some media companies thinking it constitutes public opinion (it is opinion that is public but that is not the same thing) but that wouldn't be more than a couple of million a quarter.

But who the fuck is paying for sponsored tweets?

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Google's .bro file format changed to .br after gender bother

Charlie Clark
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WTF?

Video format?

I thought Brotli was mainly about improving compression over the network? Sure, as an alternative to deflate you can use it for files but why bother? There are other formats that crunch better (xz springs to mind) at the expense of being slower. For video all the magic is in the codec which notoriously doesn't compress much further.

As for the sexist bollocks - just seems like clickbait and most people seem to have swallowed it.

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BBC bypasses Linux kernel to make streaming videos flow

Charlie Clark
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Re: Didn't microsoft try that?

Moving video drivers out of the NT kernel and into user-space to speed things up?

IIRC it went the other way because of the speed of context switching on x86 chips and Microsoft needed a fast system to impress customers. Security? Well they already had the C2 (or whatever it was) certificate. Not that people really cared anyway.

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Top boffin Freeman Dyson on climate change, interstellar travel, fusion, and more

Charlie Clark
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Re: "China may in fact be able to develop shale gas on a big scale..."

Or both. The price for Russian gas goes down every day a pipeline to China doesn't exist. Pollution from coal is a huge problem in China but so is the amount of energy produced from coal. Hence current plans to increase generation from every other source: gas, renewable and nuclear.

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Smartmobe brain maker Qualcomm teases 64-bit ARM server chip secrets

Charlie Clark
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Emulators just aren't fast enough. But then again, the Windows data centre market is relatively small.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: What held back ARM so far...

Mellanox and FPGA and at ARM prices? You can see all kinds of engineering shops falling over themselves to get hold of some of these. It's an HPC wet dream!

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Charlie Clark
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Qualcomm traditionally has extremely good connections to the military so it's more than possible that they will kickstart the business with a huge data centre order that we'll never hear of but that will help them get the volume to get other business.

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Samsung forgets Galaxy worries, surprises analysts with big numbers

Charlie Clark
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Especially when it's not entirely true. I haven't seen any recent breakdowns but the summer numbers showed that the Edge was selling better than expected, so much so that supply couldn't meet demand, and the S6 less and this is was led to disappointing numbers.

There's no doubt that Apple is still taking the lion's share of the profits but the S6 Edge seems to be doing a good job in establishing Samsung as not just an "also ran".

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Surface Book: Microsoft to turn unsuccessful tab into unsuccessful laptop

Charlie Clark
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The screen/tablet alone weighs 1.6lb, while the whole unit is a very portable 3.34lb, or 3.48lb with the extra GPU option.

Then the comparisons with a MacBook Air are way off the mark: people don't buy them because they're fast – though they're usually fast enough – but because they're extremely light and can last a working day without a charge. Storage is more of an issue which is why Apple knows to charge a premium for it.

This machine may be powerful but it's also heavy and you're paying a lot for a tablet part you might not use so much. Colour me sceptical but I don't see the demand for these devices coming close to that for Apple's fare.

Be interesting to see how good the sales for Apple's even lighter (and more crippled) MacBook have been.

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Silicon Valley now 'illegal' in Europe: Why Schrems vs Facebook is such a biggie

Charlie Clark
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Re: Missing the point

Well, Facebook will be the first test case. The ECJ has referred the matter back to the IPC in Ireland to check that it is satisfied with the handling of data.

The Microsoft test case is probably more important at the moment: can the US DoJ enforce extra-territoriality? If the US thinks it can then this would put a complete stop to transatlantic data processing for American companies because this would definitely contravene the ECJ's decision. Might see a boom in weird subsidiary and shell company set ups to try and work around this.

The US spooks should be careful what they wish for. They already have unparalleled access to personal data all over the place and they can normally get the rest with a formal court order. But if they continue to force the issue then they will be driving the data underground.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Simple solution..

Does FB have, as they claim, the right to use my image without my approval?

Depends on the law of the land: in some countries, such as Germany, there is a concept of "the right to one's own image". However, to know whether they're in breach or not you'll have to log on… Any initial defence will probably rest on an indemnification from your friend that no rights were being infringed.

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US tries one last time to sway EU court on data-slurping deal

Charlie Clark
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Re: Fair play to Max Schrems

The SWIFT agreement (no Feds, you can't read everyone's financial transactions all the time) is a precedent that says this will go against the US.

Most interesting will be whether the agreement is declared null and void immediately or what the grace period will be for a new agreement, presumably based on fast-track court orders.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: OT, (but hopefully of interest)

In this case, the US explaining to the EU that the EU understanding of EU law is flawed ?

That's just petitioning and fine in a court, though not much use in the ECJ.

The US position is flawed because any court approval would have to be by an EU court as in such matters a US court has no jurisdiction. This is similar to the SWIFT discussion about payments (and the current one about airplane passenger data) which led to a separate data centre being set up in Europe to which the Feds don't have automatic access. It's not as if they're aren't plenty of pliant governments and courts in the EU only to happy to give them access but such access could subsequently be challenged.

Getting court orders for this kind of stuff, Italy is a good example, is often ridiculously easy but it riles with American dreams of extra-territoriality.

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Charlie Clark
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We have no Microsoft, Google, Apple, Oracle…

They've all been busy building data centres in the EU and Microsoft is currently in a battle with the US authorities about whether access to the data can still be granted.

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Charlie Clark
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I dunno, there will be some fairly innocuous stuff caught as well: website analytics generally falls under the category.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: India

With all countries including India it works like this: either there is an fig-leaf agreement such as Safe Harbour or the data protections rules of the originating country apply. In practice getting bilateral agreements is hard work so companies usually agree to be bound by the law of the originating country.

So you can't use data protection arguments to prevent outsourcing for financial reasons. But the outsourcing company can be held liable in the originating country for breaches by subcontractors. And, indeed some of the SNAFUs have forced some companies to reconsider their practices. I think it took one of the larger breaches to realise how fucking stupid it is too outsource all their customer data.

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Boeing builds British Airways 787 Dreamliner in 4 minutes

Charlie Clark
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Re: If you are quick off the ball

As for flying through US Hub airports.... What are you silly?

Yes, the experience, especially for a foreigner, of transferring at a US airport is dreadful. There's the pointless but demeaning TSA stuff but even worse is having to take your luggage through customs again. So when flying from Europe, change there first.

We might slag off BA but IMHO they do a pretty good job especially when compared with pretty well all US Carriers andthe likes of Air France

Well, while changing at CDG is never pleasant, I've found service on Air France to be pretty good. Unfortunately, the domestic services are marred by a stupid surcharge for checked luggage which just seems to encourage passengers to bring far too much hand luggage.

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Apple fixes iOS 9.0.2 passcode loophole, kills 101 OS X security bugs

Charlie Clark
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I'm not tech support, but it sounds to me that you have been fiddling with the dials a bit much and created some dud associations.

Good job you aren't tech support as I haven't been "fiddling with any dials".

Curiouser and curiouser: the bug only seems to affect bookmarks (all set by Apple) in the News folder.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: App Store is broken for me

You'll love the new Safari then

I'll never notice because I never use it. Just tried it and every time I tried to open a bookmark it asked me if I wanted to add the link to "sent links" and refused to open the site unless I do. It then fired up Thunderbird, which isn't my main mail client. What is going on?

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Charlie Clark
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App Store is broken for me

For a couple of weeks now: can't install upgrades for anything that requires a login including XCode and any free or paid apps. :-(

Spent about two hours on the phone with Apple Support last week including providing a system trace. No fix yet in sight.

Still Safari was able to update: woot! I feel so empowered!

As for El Capitan: it almost always pays to wait for the first patch release with anything Apple. And ITunes is like Apple's Internet Explorer: every new version of the OS seems to come with a worse version of it. Please Apple: learn from Microsoft's mistakes on this and stop trying to cram services into this overblown WebView toy.

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Microsoft and Google ink SECRET TREATY to end all their patent wars

Charlie Clark
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Re: VFAT extortion still alive?

Shouldn't that have been expired by now? The European patent info for EP0618540 B1 says

Thanks for the lookup. It may indeed have already expired in Europe, though enforceability of software patents here is doubtful

But MS has launched most of its actions in the US because not only do the courts look more favourably on ludicrous patents, but they can also be used effectively to hinder entrance to the global market. But even there the clock is ticking and, outside of East Texas, opinion about frivolous patents is changing.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Dear Microsoft

I will consider that you and Google have fully kissed and made up when you openly withdraw your allegations on the patents.

Can't see that happening because it would mean writing them down in the books which might piss off shareholders. Better to take some undisclosed amount of cash and or goodwill now and let the useless patents expire quietly.

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Charlie Clark
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It's even been said that Microsoft earns more money from Android than it does its own Windows Mobile operating system

No need to suggest it: Microsoft stopped charging for the licences leaving it with the costs of development, documentation and distribution and no revenue.

My guess is that any of the relevant patents, FAT springs to mind, only have a few years of life left and Google easily has enough cash to run things through all the courts, so continuing the battle promises diminishing returns. Nadella seems to have understood that if you can't beat 'em, you should join 'em and it's easier to get Office installed on phones when you're not trying to sue the manufacturers.

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BBC joins war against Flash, launches beta HTML5 iPlayer

Charlie Clark
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Re: About time...

I'll be very happy when I can use the BBC's websites using something other than a security hole propagation system.

And what makes you think that the various media players used by the browsers aren't full of different holes? Any good player will try and offload the decoding to the GPU and this means that privilege escalation is always possible.

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Herbie Goes Under Investigation: German prosecutors probe ex-VW CEO Winterkorn

Charlie Clark
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Re: After working with people on chipset driver software

Over 6 years and no fine tuning, they just build engines and the magic software reduces the contamination? Don't buy it.

Please don't take a look at any of the embedded software in any industrial devices as it is almost always entirely shit: cargo cult of the worst sort with no QA because it all "just has to work".

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Anonymous complaints

Don't forget Detroit: General Motors and Chrysler having been having a great time recently.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: he was unaware of the "defeat device"

He is the CEO, and ultimately the buck stops with him

Which is why he resigned. Too early in my opinion as, unless he was personally involved in a cover up, he'd be well-placed to lead an investigation. Playing musical chairs like they just have, doesn't really help.

However, legally I'm pretty certain that he is in the clear.

Seeing as other manufacturers have remarkably similar results I suspect it may only be a matter of time before similar discoveries are made elsewhere. Helluva a way to deflect criticism from General Motors recent failings.

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Axed-ya Nadella swings blade through the forest of Microsoft again

Charlie Clark
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Re: Technology Transfer in plain sight, must be obscured.

Keep your racism to yourself.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: More Personal Computing segment

Is this where MS products go to die?

Certainly looks like it.

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EU data protection chief: Snaffling all air traveller data goes too far

Charlie Clark
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Re: Compare and contrast

Banks have a vested interest in preventing fraud or money laundering: they can be held liable if they don't take "reasonable steps" to prevent. But they can do this without infringing on privacy – they are essentially checking financial transactions – until they have "reasonable grounds for suspicion" at which point the authorities can be informed and warrants issued if necessary.

The degree of surveillance and the conditions under which the authorities are informed are probably debatable but in no way comparable to the wholesale transfer of all data to them This turns everyone into a suspect, in the legal sense, which violates habeas corpus.

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Google's new squeeze: Brotli compression open-sourced

Charlie Clark
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Meh?

In tests … claimed Brotli running at 3.381:1 compression ratio could compress at 98.3 MB/s

Deflate could run at … 2.913:1 compression ratio was 93.5 MB/s.

Is it just me or do those numbers seem underwhelming to others, considering that compatibility is broken? Compression ratio goes up a respectable 30% and speed around 6%. I Would have thought dedicated silicon might deliver better results without changing the format.

The static dictionary sounds an interesting idea though I shudder to think what's in it!

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Alcatel Idol 3: Holding its own with a pretty decent 5.5 inches

Charlie Clark
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Re: Stick your 5.5"..

I think the sales numbers indicate otherwise. I'm no fan of "bigger is better" for its own sake but, depending on what you're doing, there can be advantages in making your pockets bulge.

Personally, although I've got small hands and fingers, I find that while a smaller screen fits them well, there are a lot of things which I find too fiddly: using any of the keyboards has to be number one. I don't use maps a lot but when I do I tend to find that you can't have enough screen. Battery life also seems better on the larger devices.

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Microsoft Office 2016 for Windows: The spirit of Clippy lives on

Charlie Clark
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Re: A few things are needed to make Office great again

(1) It needs to be faster. Why does every version take longer and longer to load? That is unacceptable.

I've not worked with Office 2013 but that certainly seems to be the case in comparison with Office 2010 for Windows and Office 2011 for Mac. However, memory use seems to be better. I have some huge Excel files which cause the older files considerable trouble, whereas Office 2016 seems okay once it's loaded.

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Adobe patches Flash dirty dozen, ignores 155 in Shockwave shocker

Charlie Clark
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Re: Removed.

Yes, because there obviously won't be any exploitable bugs in the browsers' media players…

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Microsoft starts to fix Start Menu in new Windows 10 preview

Charlie Clark
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Re: MS seems to be staning on the Poop Deck

Disingenuous of MS to say the start menu has a fix tile limit, because it's a fixed entry limit which means it affects TIFKAM apps and Win32 exes. There was a limit of 512 entries in the start menu and now there's a limit of 2048, which is still too close for comfort if you have an IDE or two installed along with Office.

Is it a global limit? If so that seriously is fucked up. Not sure why it should be a table at all apart from the Win9x disease of trying to Access for everything.

The worst thing is the silent failure. This obviously wasn't thought about very much and further evidence of a rush to release Windows 10. Then again maybe without a deadline it never would have been released and with all the problems it sounds like a step-up for Windows 8.x users.

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We are the Knights who code Ni!

Charlie Clark
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Re: The Ministry of Silly Languages

At least it makes a change from yet another fecking javascript framework!

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Charlie Clark
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Ain't he bold!

Go on then, let's have a varda at it.

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Shedload of security bugs squashed in iOS 9 – what the hell went wrong with iOS 8?

Charlie Clark
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Re: How is this any different than anyone else's OS?

Here's a question to ponder (I don't have the answer) Is a lengthy list of security fixes a good thing

Wrong question. They should be aiming to keep the list as short as possible but should be completely honest and open about it: errors happen and we're doing everything we can to reduce them.

Let's face it: with NextStep and MacOS they have a pretty good, tried and tested basis for the OS. Consequently, the number of low-level bugs is small compared to some of the stuff that crops up in Microsoft's list (because Internet Explorer is so tightly welded to the OS). But some of these errors are, a bit like some of the shit Google has done with Android, frankly alarming that they are not being picked up before release.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: straight question

The reason for the larger number could be that the fixes were more involved so they wanted to wait for 9.0…

Ever the apologist! Waiting means leaving paying customers potentially vulnerable to some pretty severe exploits. But you obviously seem happy both as a customer and, as you frequently remind us, as an investor. Ergo Apple must doing it right.

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