* Posts by Charlie Clark

3283 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

BT's Openreach plots G.fast end-user trials

Charlie Clark
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Costs of digging up the road to individual premises are fine, when you're not doing a whole street at once.

Actually, the way to do it is dig up a whole street at once and combine it with whatever other utility work is required. Individual access invariably means expensive resurfacing down the line. While you can't expect private companies to pay for this*, the state can quite easily and it's better use of capital than giving it to the banks. It can also afford to calculate an ROI over a longer term which means lower rentals. Higher take-up could conceivably lead to higher productivity, or at least higher market activity.

* Well that was until the central banks started to hold interests rates down artificially. Correctly pitched (reasonable annual return, say 5%) and this could be attractive to pension funds who are starting to get worried about cashflow. "Correctly pitched" means: not as fecking stupid as the promised returns on the proposed new nuclear power station. The state would also have to sweeten the deal for more remote areas where the sums otherwise won't add up.

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Spamquake subsides: less than half of email is now processed pork

Charlie Clark
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Re: I wish ...

Yep, I'm not seeing much change. Spamassassin on the server and a learning filter on the client (are you listening Microsoft?) mean it's a low level nuisance: about 10 spams a day get through spamassassin, the mail client recognises 80% of them.

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STARS SNUFFED in massive galactic whodunit

Charlie Clark
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Re: Mere mortals, they are not.

For the life of me I cannot imagine that Dark Matter exists.

It's a weird name for an observable phenomenon (the way galaxies rotate) that cannot be explained by anything else, including your suggestions.

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Facebook's React Native is exciting devs. Or is it, really?

Charlie Clark
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And it's a welcome return to champion PR man, Matt Asay… Namedropping and "boosting" his friends' stuff is what he's best at.

Meanwhile, the performance of ReactJS has recently been questioned: https://aerotwist.com/blog/react-plus-performance-equals-what/

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Minister for Fun opens consultation on future of the BBC

Charlie Clark
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I can't quite say the same for Bargain Hunt, Homes under the Hammer, and other such useless crap. All these programs do is let other people know how rich/poor those on the show are, compared to the host.

My mum loves them all, even admits to being slightly addicted to them, but not for that reason. She loves the stories about the antiques and likes to see how the houses are redecorated. When it comes to sneering about other people she's olympic material, but she virtually never makes negative comments about what she says.

Property and possessions and the trade of them are bourgeois obsessions, just like technology is for us geeks.

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Charlie Clark
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A wide remit is required

The original BBC Charter was successful because it gave the Corporation sufficient leeway to try things out, without fear of government interference. This has allowed the BBC to try things out and be one of the pioneers of new technologies. And it does this throughout its history in radio, television and more recently in the internet. Does this lead to mission creep? Absolutely, which is why periodic review, both by its governing body, and when the Charter is up for renewal, is important.

The licence fee provides a backstop so that ratings chasing is important but not the categorical imperative. It's not just about entertainment, though the principle of universal access is inshrined in this, but also about informing and educating the public. In a competitive environment the BBC both leads by example, and may help create new markets as it does so, as well as a follower of trends (I'm thinking here more of commissions for Dennis Potter, et al. than yet another celebrity show, though they too have their place). It's also a talent factory.

It must establish and stick to its own definitions of quality. The dumbing down of news production in favour of emotion since Greg Dyke makes me weep. I used to read a lot of new on the website but do so less and less and it becomes just another peddler or rumour and PR. I really don't give a fuck what someone says on Twitter; I may want to know why they said it. Less speculation, more facts and analysis: I can live with well-argued editorials from experienced journalists. Reanimate Brian Redhead and drop the confrontational interview style: if someone is stonewalling, take control back. If they won't answer the real question, let them say nothing and make sure everyone knows.

Oh, and I want to be able to listen to TMS all over the world, though Guerilla Cricket is proving a worthy substitute.

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Feel like you're being herded onto Windows 10? Well, you should

Charlie Clark
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What CIOs say

But CIOs tell The Reg that if they do a desktop refresh, they'll move from Windows XP to Windows 7

I can't believe there are that many corporates still on XP. Those that are left are probably paying for extended support or praying that their security procedures are adequate.

But for many companies Windows 7 is there to stay. No one will be migrating this year that isn't getting a helping hand from Microsoft. Most CIOs will give it at least a year to see how the "public beta" works and what the market thinks of it. Any large scale migration will then be at least a year in the planning and another in the execution, giving Microsoft more time to fix issues. This is just how things worked with the move from XP to 7. Vista and 8 were the "thanks, but no thanks" versions.

New versions of Office on the other hand should do quite well.

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Charlie Clark
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IE 8 is required for stuff that was written explicitly for IE 6. Migrating some of that shit is sometimes very expensive and difficult: the source code may not be available.

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Reddit scrubs up: Child abuse? Gone. Drugs? Cool. RACISM? FINE

Charlie Clark
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I think reddit is heading fast into MySpace and yahoo! territory.

The numbers seem to indicate otherwise, but it might be harder to monetise them. I've not used Reddit but I can imagine that the market for this kind of very hands-off approach is pretty big. This is one of the reasons I stick with El Reg: we have a large degree of freedom in our comments.

Facebook and, particularly Twitter, have had to kowtow not least because they've embraced by mainstream media.

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Your security is just dandy, Apple Pay, but here comes Android

Charlie Clark
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Lastly If margins are lower for Apple for Apple Pay transactions in the UK, so what? They aren't doing it for the per transaction margin, which whilst nice is not a big business for them. They are doing it to sell phones.

Whilst Apple can indeed ignore the margin, it isn't really adding the feature to cell more phones but to bind its customers to it even more – it gets to mine all the sales data.

However, the market will be determined as much by the merchants as by the customers. Merchants will favour anything that reduces the time of the transaction and avoids cash. Something that gets used for buying a pack of chewing gum is more important than a credit card replacement (outside the US, because in the US you can buy a pack of chewing gum with a credit card, I've even bought a stamp with one).

Personally, I'm still waiting for something that is more convenient and useful than cash which is universal and also helps me budget.

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Charlie Clark
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Good article

Independent IT security consultant Paul Moore (one such critic) noted: "I'd rather de-couple my payment card from a mobile device. It's safer IMO. ‪#ApplePay‬ doesn't solve a problem I don't have."

Can't really argue with that.

Interoperability is key and payment systems are fairly well regulated in Europe, hence the far lower margins.

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ARM servers look to have legs as OVH boots up Cavium cloud

Charlie Clark
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Re: 2x1600W PSU?!?!?!

True, but you shouldn't be comparing with Xeon. These servers will excel if they can do more per U than Xeon, but only if the jobs don't need the x86 single-threaded oomph. Proxies, webservers, etc.

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Intel beats earnings estimates (because nobody expected it to earn much)

Charlie Clark
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Profits are still healthy

Even worse, Client Computing's margins appear to be growing ever tighter. The unit's total operating income for the quarter was just $1.60bn

So, it still accounts for 50% of turnover and more than 50% of profits. And even if they are reduced, those margins are still mouth-watering when compared with the competition.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: C'mon Intel, go ARM

The problem for Intel is how could they go ARM and maintain the profit margins? Things might be different if they'd kept their StrongARM stuff, but if you see how much money they made with x86 since they sold it, you can hardly blame them.

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Mozilla's ‘Great or Dead’ philosophy may save bloated blimp Firefox

Charlie Clark
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Re: Chrome sleek and fast, Firefox bloated and slow

With Chrome you have to count the memory used by all the processes. For a while now most of the browsers have been employing very aggressive caching strategies which means keeping as much stuff in memory as possible. This is a sensible strategy on devices with enough memory, which is generally the case with desktops.

Unfortunately they all tend to favour resource pre-fetching which assumes a fast network connection. On a machine with not much memory and low bandwidth you're probably better off with a browser (except for anything that uses a lot of Javascript) that's a few years old because it makes different assumptions. Or use a compressing proxy like Opera's turbo.

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Peak Google? Chocolate Factory cuts costs amid dwindling growth

Charlie Clark
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The strong dollar is starting to affect earnings across US business: expectations are of 4-5% less for Q2 YoY (source The Economist). Expect more belt-tightening and financial experiments across the board.

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Adobe: We REALLY are taking Flash security seriously – honest

Charlie Clark
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> Why not Windows or even Linux?

I just wondered that too... considering the close POSIX similarities between the two.

What do you think POSIX has to do with it? If it's using QT then its probably reasonably portable, but if they're using MacOS' own libraries then it's much less so.

The Linux market for paid for desktop apps remains tiny. See if you can get a Kickstarter for the $500,000 mentioned.

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Charlie Clark
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Choices...choices... A never-ending subscription for Photoshop, or an excellent alternative for a one-off payment of £30?

Great to hear that Serif have finally started developing for MacOS! Been using PagePlus off and on for over 20 years.

Another good alternative to Photoshop for different platforms is Photoline: http://www.pl32.com/. However, it's difficult to dislodge Adobe from their perch. For many companies the cost of subscription is small compared to any possible loss of productivity that might accompany retraining.

Mind you, I don't think Adobe see Flash as anything like as important as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Wouldn't surprise me if they drop the runtime if they can get into the business of DRM for browsers. The development tools are the money spinner and can already produce HTML5 content. Flash is important for media rights management.

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Charlie Clark
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We need to be honest about this. Without seeing the code it's very difficult to tell about the quality of the code. Given the frequency, and severity, of exploits, there are obviously some problems. The ability to escalate an exploit in Flash to gain control of the machine is, however, as much a problem with the architecture of the OSes as it is with Flash. Of course, for certain things like video-conferencing access to hardware is required. But this is a key thing: is it possible to develop a restricted version of the software that does not need admin permissions to install?

Adobe doesn't just write Flash (based on a codebase that Macromedia developed). but a whole load of other programs. I note that their also using Coverity. Would be interesting to know if this includes Flash and what the reports come up with.

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Charlie Clark
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Stop

Amid the hyperbolae

If you don't want to outright uninstall or disable Flash (because you want to watch BBC iPlayer, non-HTML5 YouTube or Twitch.tv videos, or play poker online, or something like that) consider telling your browser to only run Flash files when you tell it to – "click to play" in other words.

Finally, some sensible advice. Flash is everywhere because it's useful, for varying definitions of usefulness. Nevertheless, the best thing is have it deactivated by default. Of course, the vast majority of users won't bother, just as they don't bother with most other security issues.

Disclaimer: I don't write Flash and am not a fan of it. But I know how difficult it is to do cross-platform video. Would we really be safer in a world of Windows Video, Quicktime, OpenVLC, an other plugins? And how are the media rights extensions working for you?

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FLASH MUST DIE, says Facebook security chief

Charlie Clark
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Stop

"Nobody takes the time to rewrite their tools and upgrade to HTML5 because they expect Flash forever. Need a date to drive it."

Policy by tweets… don't you just love it? :-/ And who's going to pay them to do this? Facebook perhaps?

Where's the cross-platform solution for media rights holders?

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Google makes new hires ONE pay offer. 'Negotiation'? What's that?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Money is not the ONLY dimension that matters

Google use very little off-the-shelf technology internally (most of it is highly proprietary, especially the high end stuff) and release practically none of it back to the world because it is what gives them their competitive advantage.

This would be pretty much the same position of every other software company. The primary duty of any business is to make money for the owners. In SaaS you have to keep some things back.

But I don't think it's fair to say that Google doesn't give back. It plays nicely in quite a lot of projects. Specifically, with regards to Hadoop, it was Google's research into MapReduce that got the project going. So, it doesn't release all its system management software, but it did release Golang, which it developed inhouse for systems work. And it did this early, with no strings attached.

It may be slightly less whalesong than 10 years ago (and a good thing to in many respects) but all the people I know at Google are still able and encouraged to contribute to open source projects.

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Charlie Clark
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That's standard in pretty much every contract.

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Apple snuggles closer to IPv6

Charlie Clark
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Re: IPSs who provide only IPv4

The article doesn't make it particularly clear as to whether the OS will manage its own tunnel even on an IPv4 only connection, it should be perfectly capable of doing this, but this does possibly open up new attack vectors. One of the advantages of being behind a wired router is that it's one more machine that needs to be hacked before people get to mine. A lot of routers also have reasonable firewall defaults.

But I don't want to be alarmist on this. I suspect that Apple is making the switch because IPv6 on LTE could have noticeably lower latency than on anything running IPv6 NAT. Then there is all that extra information to be read if privacy extensions aren't enabled. Practically no need for cookies with persistent IPv6 addresses.

Not really an issue for me as my router is dual-stack supplied by my ISP (Unitymedia). Privacy extensions enabled, of course.

ISPs that don't get their act together on IPv6 do not inspire confidence.

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Charlie Clark
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Boffin

Workaround for routers?

Most of the major operating systems have had pretty good support for IPv6 for a while now. Adoption has been hindered by ISPs, websites like El Reg, and routers. I suspect a large number of people have routers are only configured for IPv4 and that isn't likely to change anytime soon. Will this allow the computer to setup a tunnel through such routers? How will that affect the firewall function of the router?

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Flash HOLED AGAIN TWICE below waterline in fresh Hacking Team reveals

Charlie Clark
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Re: And folks wonder why I ripped it out years ago?

And aren't you the clever one?

While I am actually impressed by the speed at which Adobe is releasing patches for these bugs – faster than say Microsoft of Apple for similar issues – I'm not defending them. But the root cause for our vulnerability is a dependence upon browser plugins for features that browsers don't have but that we users want.

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The Empire Strikes Back: Disney tractor-beams StarWars.co.uk from Brit biz

Charlie Clark
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The trademark never lapsed, only the domain did. Sorry, but I think that Disney has the right to these domains, because it has the trademark.

Abscissa should have sold to Disney when they had the chance. Most trademark owners are normally more than happy to settle quickly and quietly. They're used to doing this in America after all, where having the trademark means nothing when it comes to domain names.

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China wants to build a 200km-long undersea tunnel to America

Charlie Clark
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Re: So,an invasion route ...

If there wasn't any oil there, they might…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Purpose

The scheme sounds a swindle, a lot like the current Nicaragua canal scheme.

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Want to be an unpaid SLAVE for Tim Cook? How to get the iOS 9, El Capitan public betas

Charlie Clark
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Since the switch to yearly releases for MacOS Apple avoids a lot of problems be doing incremental changes. It still manages to bugger up the odd thing, particularly ITunes, but otherwise there are generally few surprises for MacOS. It's usually a slew of new API calls and some tweaking of the UI. However, my experience has been not to upgrade until the first patch release is made: even the public beta-testing doesn't seem to catch many of the hardware issues .

IOS is, by all accounts, a different kettle of fish.

The Reg has covered previous betas in detail, especially the IOS fuckeries.

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Microsoft emits Office 2016 for Apple Macs (you'll need Office 365)

Charlie Clark
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Re: Rare time?

Yes, the GUIs are now very similar and okay. Particularly warty bits of the GUI like macros benefit the most from the makeover. I much prefer the GUI of Office 2011 for Mac over Office 2010 for Windows.

The new versions seem okay, though noticeably resource hungrier than 2011. Is anyone surprised?

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Feared OpenSSL vulnerability gets patched, forgery issue resolved

Charlie Clark
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Re: Wet firecracker

FWIW LibreSSL also did a patch release yesterday. Doesn't mention the CVE specifically but does refer to the BoringSSL code: http://ftp.openbsd.org/pub/OpenBSD/LibreSSL/libressl-2.2.1-relnotes.txt

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SatNad's purple haze could see Lumia 'killed'. Way to go, chief!

Charlie Clark
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I do wonder

What those 12,000 ex-Nokians are doing.

I think there's money in Microsoft for going after premium customers on IOS and Android. Apple's office suite is nice enough but pales in comparison to MS Office for most users. It would be a delicious irony if MS started making more money from SaaS on IOS than Apple. And think of the anti-competitive lawsuits it could afford to wage.

Conclusion: Go, Microsoft! Go!

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Greek PM Alexis Tsipras brings the EU to its knees

Charlie Clark
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Re: Can the Eurogroup count?

Some good ideas come out of Bruegel and there is no doubt that the IMF has been playing both ends against the middle. It's hardly owed anything now by Greece with most of the debt having been transferred to the ECB and the Eurozone. Still, not paying the money due to the IMF in June was a totally stupid decision. It has given the IMF the stick it wanted to beat Greece with.

Greece has had considerable debt relief in the form of a haircut of private creditors, artificially low interest rates, even a moratorium on repayment and very long maturities for debt. The latter two are a more politically acceptable equivalent of a debt write-off. And where have the reforms been? If Greece ever gets round to reforming its sclerotic state, relief will be easy to get. Otherwise it's going to be handouts only.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: "This live broadcast cock-up is a failure of democracy by the EU"

This is getting way off-topic but let's look at the facts.

I object to people being used as pawns and threatened in political games.

I do, too, for what it's worth. Doesn't stop it happening.

The proposal wasn't expired at the time the referendum was called.

But it was called for a time after the proposal would have expired. This is what made the referendum a farce. Clever politicking by Tsipras: "I'm doing what the people want me to do.", but a terrible way to negotiate.

There was a concerted effort by the EU to change the terms of the referendum from a vote on the proposal to a vote on whether or not to stay in the eurozone.

It was hardly concerted. I agree it was ill-advised but they were basically telling the truth: with the expiration of the bailout programme at the end of June, it would no longer be possible to offer such good terms again. Nevertheless, it would have been smarter to say nothing.

Merkel said that there would be no further talks until the referendum was over

She did the smart thing: wait for the result of the referendum and be seen not trying to affect the outcome of it.

Since the referendum it's perfectly okay for the democratically elected representatives in other countries to express their opinion of it. Nobody should be surprised if patience is wearing thin. The Lithuanian president and the prime minister of Slovakia are no longer mincing their words.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Greek Parliament live streaming, on the other hand...

Thanks for the info. Pretty impressive but what do the cache stats refer to if not some kind of content federation?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: "This live broadcast cock-up is a failure of democracy by the EU"

Because Greece's referendum on an expired proposal is somehow more democratic than decisions of other member states? How exactly?

Tsipras knew that this would be the situation when he broke off negotiations and called a referendum in the first place.

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Charlie Clark
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Despite the huge amounts of money the parliament spends on its streaming service…

Numbers please.

Streaming video just eats bandwidth and should be handed off to specialised content delivery networks.

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Decision time: Uninstall Adobe Flash or install yet another critical patch

Charlie Clark
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Re: More Flash vunerabilites...

Jobs wanted rid of Flash for two reasons: better battery life and promoting his walled garden. Quicktime and Safari have both had more than their own fair share of bugs and Apple's speed at patching them is far from ideal.

Kudos to Adobe for getting these patches out so quickly. Flash remains far from ideal and we can thank Jobs for promoting the idea of avoiding Flash but we shouldn't be so foolish as to think the replacements are much better. If you want good performance on a device you normally want unhindered access to the hardware. This almost inevitably introduces security risks. As I'm sure we'll see ass we move from Flash and Silverlight-based to HTML DRM extensions.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: More Flash vunerabilites...

Use TuneIn or side-load the BBC iPlayer Radio apk like everyone else.

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Ditch crappy landlines and start reading Twitter, 999 call centres told

Charlie Clark
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Re: Fantastic

Don't forget the QoS that contacting the emergency services requires.

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Don't touch this! Seven types of open source to dance away from

Charlie Clark
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RedHat

As a company involved in numerous open source projects for more than 20 years, it’s safe to say that Red Hat does a fair bit of open source.

That's a very poor premise. RedHat's relationship with open source is not much better than other large companies. It talks a good talk but when it comes to walking the walk, well look at those licensing conditions.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: "Potemkin villages"

Yep, RedHat's commitment to open source is just as much lip service as anyone else's.

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Microsoft SLASHES 7,800 bods, BURNS $7.6bn off books in Nokia adjustment

Charlie Clark
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Re: And the geography?

He does in the form of the shares he still owns. He may have made a string of bad decisions but he still made a lot of money for the company and he is still the largest individual shareholder.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: That Reminds Me

It's not far from becoming Microsoft's next billion-dollar business unit.

I thought it already had the honour of being the first division to lose a billion?

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Charlie Clark
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Valuations, especially write-downs, are primarily accounting devices. Take a bet on an acquisition and it doesn't pan out then it's much smarter to write it off quickly otherwise you carry the inflated value of the assets on the books as goodwill for years.

A big hit in this quarter gets the bad news out of the door and will make next quarter look all the better. A big hit can also be nicely offset against profits to reduce the tax bill.

Interesting that Skype, which Microsoft outbid itself for, has yet to be written down.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I'm starting to lose track of this

So how's Windows going to be everywhere if anything they do with ARM turns to crap?

It'll still run on RasPis' – no risk there for Microsoft! ;-)

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Han Solo to get solo prequel flick in 2018, helmed by LEGO men

Charlie Clark
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hm,

In contrast to the generally dreadful prequels – any scene without Natalie Portman was a waste – I can imagine stories with less epic backdrops, such as a younger Han smuggling, working quite well. Lots of scope for risky double-dealing, problems with hardware, love affairs working quite well. Doesn't mean the films will be any good, but they might be.

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Bloodthirsty Microsoft prepares for imminent 'major' job cuts

Charlie Clark
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Re: Wasting cash

Well the profits are getting wiped out by these losses,

Great, this reduces the tax burden. Shareholders have been encouraged to care more about the share price: almost exactly the same as it was a year ago and nearly twice what it was 5 years ago.

they might as well have bought Greek sovereign debt.

Nope, no tangible assets to be got in the process.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Wasting cash

Because the Board, which represents the interests of shareholders let them. The share price has stayed up and profits have continued to roll in. Conclusion: the majority of shareholders were happy with what the company was doing.

Of course, another reason for the purchase was that the purchases were made with overseas profits which would have been wiped out if they had been repatriated. At least Microsoft got some tangible assets and some, but not much, IP with the money. And who knows, maybe some of those shareholders happy with the company had shares in the companies that were bought. Maybe they were happy because they got to cash in at a low tax rate?

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