* Posts by Charlie Clark

3284 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Bloodthirsty Microsoft prepares for imminent 'major' job cuts

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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Apple Watch sales in death dive after mega launch, claims study

Charlie Clark
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Re: Life Buoy.

I don't think it really matters (and I'm no fan of theses devices). If Apple has managed to sell a couple of million then it's mission accomplished: all the R&D costs recouped and market leader in the segment. But it's definitely worth waiting for some official figures.

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Pluto probe brain OVERLOAD: Titsup New Horizons explained

Charlie Clark
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Re: This is proper engineering

Well, yes, by that definition even the edge of the universe is still inside of earth's gravity.

Gravity well != gravity. There are other massive bodies out there, you know.

Once outside the gravity well of a particular planet then a spacecraft will not fall back into it due to gravity alone.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: This is proper engineering

Not to dismiss this accomplishment, but we haven't had a man outside Earth's gravity well for over four decades now which is pretty sad considering how fast things were moving in the 60s.

Do you happen to remember the size of NASA's budget in the 1960s? It was 3-4% of GDP during the Apollo programme and has been less than 1% for most of the time since. And the Apollo programme had pretty much only one aim: get a man on the moon. NASA has since had to spread the cash around: space shuttle, space stations, Hubble, etc.

Even then manned spaceflight took up a disproportionate part of the budget as launching people means launching bigger spacecraft to accommodate them and the life support systems. So, the space shuttle continued to divert resources away from research throughout. But it's okay, because the budget has been cut since it was retired.

Of course, once in orbit you can go pretty much anywhere, as the Voyager probes have amply demonstrated. But it's a matter of diminishing returns for various reasons: firstly, it takes a very long time to get anywhere; secondly, even when you do get somewhere, Shannon's law and power supplies severely limit how much research can be done and how much data can be communicated; thirdly, space is a very hostile environment viz. the number of failed launches or deployments (Venus and Mars have been particularly cruel). The last is one of the reasons why older but more reliable computer hardware is used. Missions routinely launch with technology which was outdated at launch, but can reasonably be expected to still be working at the end of the mission. I remember hardware from the early 1990s and it was not particularly fast. We all have mobile phones with more oomph.

So, given everything stacked against it, I think space exploration continues to make extraordinary strides. Rosetta, this probe and, Spirt, Opportunity and Curiosity continue to impress.

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Awoogah: Get ready to patch 'severe' bug in OpenSSL this Thursday

Charlie Clark
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It doesn't look the availability of source code helped OpenSSL much, very few eyes could read and fully understand that code, and spot bugs.

And your point is? Peer review is the great potential advantage of open source. While OpenSSL's codebase has correctly been roundly criticised in a number of places, it also has to be noted that it has been notoriously underfunded for years. OTOH Microsoft can hardly blame lack of cash for all the bugs that keep cropping up in its software.

There is now more cash for development and review, as evinced by this announcement, though whether it is ever going to be possible to properly clean up the codebase is a matter of some debate.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: LibreSSL?

Indeed. Cross-referencing CVEs in the change logs makes interesting reading: LibreSSL has so far managed to avoid some, but not all, bugs by pre-emptively removing OpenSSL code.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Older version safe?

Better to stick with the 0.9.8 series and patch any flaws found…

You seriously want to manually patch OpenSSL code? You're a braver man than me, Gungadin. The difficulty of doing this is one of the main drivers behind the LibreSSL project.

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Kobo Glo HD vs Amazon Kindle Paperwhite: Which one's best?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Well from my experience

WiFi on my Kobo Glo is permanently disabled. I've bought a couple of books from the Kobo store (price was fine) but most of my content gets uploaded via Calibre, though you can just do it via USB.

See comments above about PDF. It's effectively a restriction of the file format. The best thing would probably to run the PDF through a printer filter on a computer to create a PDF using a page size of your device.

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Charlie Clark
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Kobo's backend is just as flexible as Amazon's. My books come from a variety of sources so I have to manage any replication by hand.

For me, the ergonomics and device handling are paramount and the Kindle doesn't come close to the Kobo in that respect.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: PIty. Most of the stuff I'm interested in is in PDF

PDF is simply compressed Postscript, a language designed for the printed page. Going from A4 to a particular reader size is tricky. It's easiest to simply scale down but this means zooming in and out and scrolling. Reflowing can otherwise be tried but will always involve compromises.

The Sony readers used to contained software from Adobe that did an excellent job of reflowing PDFs to the device's size.

If you really do have a lot of PDFs that you want on a reader then Sony's DPTS1 is the dog bollocks: http://pro.sony.com/bbsc/ssr/product-DPTS1/?PID=I:digitalpaper:digitalpaperproductpage

I think this is kind of device that any of us with lots of technical documentation would like to have.

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'I am so TIRED of your bullsh*t...' Sprint boss flips lid at T-Mobile US CEO

Charlie Clark
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Where's the news?

I only see some fluff round some fairly random Twitter quotes. In general: if it's on Twitter, it ain't news.

Legère has shown how to use Twitter for good PR. Journalism 101: PR isn't news.

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Apple's Swift creeps up dev language survey – but it's bad news for VB

Charlie Clark
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Languages which make your head hurt and have sub-par online documentation will be significantly ahead of stuff that "just works".

Actually, that's not my experience. Stackoverflow is full of people with no idea asking stuff because they're too lazy to read the docs or try stuff out. That said, there are also some very knowledgeable people on there about particular areas.

Github suffers more from the programming fads and fashions. A lot of bit C++ stuff is never going to be on there and that's even the open source stuff.

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Windows 7 and 8.1 market share surge, XP falls behind OS X

Charlie Clark
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Re: Error Margins

The statistical flaws in this monthly meta-analysis (more a "poll of polls" and ask Peter Kellner about how reliable those are) are almost without limit. Variation with the margin of error is probably the least.

The main ones:

  • no description of the sample set – see Christian's post
  • failure to corroborate with El Reg's own data
  • failure to corroborate with source like Akamai's non-JS data. This would involve real work, not just copy & paste.
  • failure to account for a general shift to mobile affecting not just the sample size, but what's left in it
  • failure to account for the number of working days in any particular month (work days favour Windows and IE in general)

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Apple gets around to fixing those 77 security holes in OS X Yosemite

Charlie Clark
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Re: for Mac Pro owners

They will however continue to update iTunes until the end of time. Can never have too much bloat in an online store.

Bloat is one thing, the constant changes in how things are organised is another! Every new update seems to include a UI redesign.

I guess my problem is that I use it for my own music and not to buy from Apple.

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Revive the Nathan Barley Quango – former Downing Street wonk

Charlie Clark
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It's totally spurious. Everything the BBC, ITV, Sky, Channel's 4 & 5 produce is "digital". And then there's BT. If what BT and Sky just agreed to spunk on football for the the next three years isn't significant investment, then I don't know what is.

Netflix makes much less sense in the UK than in the US because the cable companies don't have such a stranglehold on people's wallets. Moan if you like about the licence fee but you get much better telly for much less than all the 400 shopping and astrology channels you forced to buy in the states.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Scandal-mag-cum-style-sheet

I think "cum", Latin for "with"

It is. Nevertheless, I am reliably informed that it is also p0rn spelling for come…

<nostalgia>

Staring wistfully at my M21 coffee mug and chintz Chorlton coster:

Chorlton hasn't really been "-cum-Hardy" since my long dead aunt Sis was young, when it was Chorlton-cum-Hardy, near Manchester. Hardy essentially became post-war estate on the "other" side of the park… Alas Cosgrove Hall's studio behind the baths has been turned into retirement homes. And the place has been invaded by BBC people working at Media City.

</nostalgia>

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Made a wrong turning somewhere

I should have just learned to speak gobble da dick

FTFY

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EUROPEAN PURGE on hated mobile roaming charges

Charlie Clark
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It's possible to discriminate against foreigners, for example, by requiring presentation of a type of national ID that they can't easily get.

Not come across that anywhere and I can't imagine it surviving a challenge.

Existing rules already make unbundling when roaming possible. So there should soon be third parties offering deals to the minority who have "above average" requirements: single telephone number but calls and data can be handled by other partners when travelling.

The telco's are eking out charges as long as possible but the increasing ubiquity (I'm not sure if that's an oxymoron) of wireless when travelling is really eating into their margins. Worth noting that this generally affects the operators in holiday countries more than the travellers.

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Why SpaceX will sort out Sunday's snafu faster than NASA ever could

Charlie Clark
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Re: NASA inefficiency: The hint is in the name

SpaceX is building upon the years of experience of launching rockets into space. This is where most of the innovation is coming from. I'm not knocking it. There is a clear vision being well-executed. But it's not like sending a probe to Venus or a man to the moon for the first time.

The NASA culture stems from too much government and military interference which inevitably leads to feature creep and being beholden to the cost-plus military industrial complex that has a vested interest in delay and budget overrun.

AFAIK, and I'm happy to be corrected, but SpaceX launches are not yet significantly cheaper than say Ariane. Competition should hopefully lead to better, safer and cheaper launches.

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Google harms consumers and strangles the open web, says study

Charlie Clark
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Flawed study

Interesting to see Andrew touting a study by someone who came up with the term "net neutrality", which he's rightly criticised at times.

Google's value as an advertiser is heavily based on its value as a search engine. If I start getting the feeling that I'm poorly served by Google I'll be off to another search engine just like happened back in the day.

If I want to do price comparison I usually don't use Google directly. I use Google to find different price comparison sites which I then generally bookmark. Google often gives a good, but insufficient, indication of the market.

Where Google, just like Apple (and Amazon), is gaining an unfair advantage is in the add-ons to Android. Google Now, though I haven't used it very much, is very, very good at putting two and two together and getting four. It cuts out the search completely, so no competition case to answer, and may well become indispensable to many.

The solution, for both Google and Apple, will be to prevent the vertical integration they're currently building. At the moment, however, there's no doubt that Apple is far more anti-competitive.

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Android's sun sets on Eclipse

Charlie Clark
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Re: Eclipse is part of what has rendered me so cynical

Would you care to support your opinion with facts or are you just spouting?

IDEs tend to elicit strong opinions – see any vi versus emacs debate.

My own main development is mainly in Python. I've tried Eclipse with the PyDev plugin and, like Thom, completely failed to understand it and moved on to something else. This might be the plug-in, it could be my incompetence. Doesn't really matter. Having had to help someone else setup a Windows machine I know how frustrating this can be and how such impressions colour our judgement. Having said that, sitting next to me was someone happily using Eclipse on Mac.

I've also tried PyCharm, which I believe is based on IntelliJ, and while it's got that usual, "unusual" Java look and feel I could get projects set up and run tests. I managed to disable some of the most annoying default settings so I can get it to work. However, I find I spend most of my time either in a dedicated (and paid for) Python IDE called WingIDE or one of a number of text editors with better support for other syntax and tools.

Of the novices I've come across I'd say that most that use an IDE prefer IntelliJ over Eclipse. I suspect this is due to things like those I mentioned above and an apparently lack of QA around plugins. IntelliJ has the Apple advantage of being able to decide what goes in and what doesn't. And I think Google felt the same about the studio.

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Charlie Clark
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Where's the NIH stuff? It's using IntelliJ instead of Eclipse.

Eclipse may have its fans but so does IntellJ and from I've seen of them both, I much prefer IntelliJ.

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Microsoft's magic hurts: Nadella signals 'tough choices' on the way

Charlie Clark
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Re: Apps

And the masses make the sales and profit.

Actually, that's rarely the case. Volume sales are usually in low-margin markets. This is Microsoft's (but also HTC's, Sony's, and to a lesser extent Samsung's) problem.

Apple has traditionally done very well with low-volume, higher margin sales. The I-phone, and the I-pod before it, is unusual. The Apple eco-system does come with a certain degree of lock-in, which vastly reduces the size of the premium market for everyone else.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Old rant...

I find Libre/Open Office fail to handle many documents I throw at them. I suspect it's more Word doing some crazy method to achieve a particular layout, because if I correct the document in LL/OO, it loads back into Word fine.

I suspect that's because there's "more than one way of doing things" not just in Word but also in the file formats. Done correctly things should be largely unambiguous… The emphasis there is definitely on "should".

I mainly use OO, having had LO crash just one time too many on me. Currently, on Mac OS it is not as fluid as MS Office. I think it gets a lot of things right in the UI but I can sympathise with users who prefer Microsoft's stuff.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: WinPho not doing better than before?

I thought Windows Phone was actually picking up market share?

Where? If it is, it's not enough to matter. The costs of standing still are high, especially in the consumer market.

There's certainly a demand for phones with a high-degree of integration in the Windows world. But that doesn't mean the phone has to run Windows. At some point Microsoft will have enough installs of Office for Android and IOS to be able to forecast how much money it can make from subscriptions. My guess is that this will be somewhat more than they're currently making from Windows phone.

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Cambridge boffins: STOP the rush to 5G. We just don't need it

Charlie Clark
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Re: Why does 5G have to be faster?

Well, then it would just be 4G LTE…

5G is currently just marketing. The future is most likely going to be multimode – handing off to WLAN wherever it's available. This allows for a much more flexible deployment of infrastructure and will also support 4k cat videos most of the time. If the networks pursue 5G then they will risk losing out to disruptors such as Google's "Project Loon".

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We forget NOTHING, the Beeb thunders at Europe

Charlie Clark
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Re: Lawsuits inbound

Let's keep this in proportion.

The "right to forgotten" never applied to original articles, merely their representation in search results.

At most such pages may be required to contain a disclaimer that the information was subsequently shown to be incorrect.

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Google creates cloud code cache

Charlie Clark
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Re: WTF?

This looks like the basis of an enterprise service going after the lucrative CI market.

Hosting repositories and bug trackers is easy but there is little money it, despite GitHub's success in recent funding.

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Britain beats back Argies over Falklands online land grab

Charlie Clark
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Re: Outer Manchuria before the Falklands

Although it's hard to imagine countries actually going to war over TLDs, stranger things have happened.

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Charlie Clark
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FAIL

There are loads of overseas territories with TLDs.

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AMD: We're not splitting our gfx and servers biz, ignore all the rumours

Charlie Clark
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But where would be the RoI for such an investor? I guess Apple could do it to have everything in house (getting AMD's graphic chips would certainly be appealing, the dependency upon Intel is shrinking all the time). It's certainly got the cash and the margins. Apart from that it's difficult to see a definite business case.

If ARM ever makes it into the data centre in any volume then it's still possible that Intel would be allowed to do the takeover. Keeping AMD around just for the illusion of competition isn't fooling anyone.

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Vodafone splashes €2 BEEELLLION to kick German TV sideways

Charlie Clark
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Re: DVB-T is essentially dead in Germany anyhow

All reports of the demise of DVB-T in Germany are exaggerated. The number of channels certainly doesn't compare well to the UK, and satellite is more entrenched, but there are still a sizeable number of households for whom DVB-T is the only option. This is one of the reasons why RTL isn't abandoning ship as early as previously announced.

Mind you, given the generally awful quality of programming, the shift to online only is going pretty fast.

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Windows Phone is like religion – it gets people when they are down

Charlie Clark
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It's nice to read the number of people who are happy with their Windows phones. The hardware is good and if Microsoft can't get the Exchange integration working for business then you do have to worry for them. Still, I think the move to provide their services on both IOS and Android will bring Microsoft more in the long term.

I'm not trolling but I can't remember seeing a Nokia here in Germany this year. Meanwhile one of my corporate clients is switching from BlackBerry to Apple. That would be about 5 % of all the Windows phones sold in the UK in Q1 and with much fatter margins.

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JavaScript creator Eich's latest project: KILL JAVASCRIPT

Charlie Clark
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Been a while in coming

At last year's PyCon Gary Bernhardt gave an entertaining and informative talk on this kind of thing called The Birth and Death of Javascript. Basically, the combination of LLVM and modern hardware (lots of memory required) allow compiling from one language to another in near real-time.

Javascript was thrown together in a matter of days and has struggles with all kinds of things which could not really have been thought of at the time (yes, I know proper languages had already solved most of the problems correctly) considering its extremely limited domain. Personally, I hate trying to write anything in it but the web has made it ubiquitous. Hence, the desire to find reasonable solutions to the limitations without creating new, incompatible runtimes. Be interesting to see where this goes but I think it's got legs.

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Philae warms up nicely, sends home second burst of data

Charlie Clark
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Re: Bounce @Charlie Clark

@Sir Sham Cad

Thanks for the update. I hadn't heard about the thruster problem. So now we know that Philae was actually under engineered and the next one will need a backup solution in case of the same problem…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: It does seem as if its a bit of a hole

It was known back in November that it had landed in some kind of ravine. This was bad both for power and communications: little light gets in and the antennae are limited in where the can point. The current problem seems to be that the probe's radio beam seems to different than expected, so Rosetta has to adjust its orbit for a more effective fly-through. Given that the probe woke up because its getting warmer and is on a ball of ice and dust, it's hardly surprising that its position has shifted slightly as the environment around it warms up.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Bounce

Why spherical? Considering the extremely low gravity on a comet, the shape isn't really important but the one thing you don't want is something that can bounce well and thus escape the comet's gravity. Finding out why the various attempts to mitigate bouncing failed is more important.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Over engineered?

What on earth do you mean by "over engineered"?

Space is dangerous and getting things anywhere particular is difficult. If you want an example of something cheap, cheerful and also a complete failure then look no further than the Beagle 2.

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Apple CORED: Boffins reveal password-killer 0-days for iOS and OS X

Charlie Clark
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That's why those who believe you can always fix a vuln in a few weeks are those who never worked on a complex piece of software, with a lot of other software beyond your control depending on it.

It's primarily a design issue that should have been picked up a long time ago. How do you think the liability should be handled if someone experiences harm as a result? Disclosure isn't really any different to finding defects in laptop batteries, or car accelerator pedals.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Keychain on iOS is secure

OSX has different holes....

FTFY…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Don't think Apple's got it where proper OS design is any more

It has rather gone downhill since Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopard has enough problems of its own due to the switch to 64-bit…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: SIx months??? Apple was lucky it wasn't Google to find them...

LOL! It's astounding how MS is evil, Apple and Google always right.

What a load of crap! Time to burn your strawman!

Apple is known to have a terrible record on security updates. That's why many of those who use Macs don't really on Apple for POSIX libraries. Interestingly, however, it looks like they have learned from the openssl debacle and are moving to libressl for the next version.

Google might well want everybody's data but does have a good track record when it comes to bug-fixing. This may come from having a pretty good open source culture within the company: they have long been good players in many projects. The proof will, of course, come when someone discovers a major flaw in something like Android that they want holding back.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: SIx months??? Apple was lucky it wasn't Google to find them...

So, the note about the Chromium team disabling the affected part escaped your notice?

You need bright light to find bugs. Delaying publication does not really improve security. Who's to say that other people (criminals, spies) haven't found the same vulnerabilities?

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Charlie Clark
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Journalism 101

The article is generally better than Mr Pauli's dashes but still contains some misleading and poorly expressed parts. For example,

They found "security-critical vulnerabilities" including cross-app resource-sharing mechanisms and communications channels such as keychain, WebSocket and Scheme.

In this context "security-critical vulnerabilities" should not be quoted because it is in the context of the report. If the author wants to emphasise that this is a claim made by the researchers that has yet to be confirmed then more explicit context can be added: "the researchers claim that there are security-critical vulnerabilities…"

Resource-sharing is essentially what an operating does for applications and is always "cross-app". However, this sounds more like it is related to resources being shared between apps.

"Scheme" is a programming language, LISP like as far as I know but I'm probably wrong. Further down in the report this is clarified as referring to the URL-scheme used and not the programming language. BID is thrown in later without explanation of the acronym.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: What are all these papers good for ?

True, but I'm not even sure if this that much about programming. It sounds a lot more like design, especially Apple's much flaunted app sandboxing that seems to have been undermined.

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Vodafone hikes prices to 37.5p/min – and lets angry customers flee

Charlie Clark
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FWIW in Germany all such call centres are no longer allowed to charge while you're in a holding pattern. They're now pretty much all single fee (understandable) affairs with an explanatory note at the start of the call.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Thanks El Reg

ah, I think you'll also find that that's the same lavatory where you go to vote in (next year's?) referendum!

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Would EU exit 'stuff' the UK? Tech policy boss gets diplomatic

Charlie Clark
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Greece in 2025 could be well on the way to being a solvent, independent, state building it's way back to prosperity.

Indeed it could. On the other hand, and the post-junta history would perhaps suggest this, it could still be a basket case. Greece's problem isn't its debt, which now has maturity dates that effectively are never never, but structural: non-extant land registry, ineffective tax system and inefficient labour market, etc.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Leaving the EU would be stupid.

The CAP is a mess, but you're right that the UK is a net contributor. However, it has increasingly little effect on prices.

If the UK were to leave the EU then there would be the following would happen:stuff that doesn't grow so well in the British climate would be harder to import and most probably more expensive (this would appreciably hit Spanish farms and British winter tables); it would be a lot harder to find cheap farm labourers from eastern Europe to work on British farms (this could push up prices and also reduce availability. In time, of course, new supplies could be found for both but the price could be higher.

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Intel inside: Six of the best affordable PC laptops

Charlie Clark
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Not tempted by this lot

Would pay a premium for a nice, light 13" that can take a lot of memory and docks nicely. Not too fussed about screen resolution as it's going to be docked most of the time, but I'd rather shave 500g off for when I do have to lug it around.

No? Looks like I'll be sticking with Apple…

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