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* Posts by Charlie Clark

2501 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Microsoft's SQL Server 2014 early code: First look

Charlie Clark
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Re: Nice summary of my main thoughts @SVV

> How [postgres] reaaly fares as transactional demands on it increase against Oracle and DB2 is something that I've never had enough concrete information on.

Entreprise DB who promote their flavour of Postgres as a drop-in replacement for Oracle have been remarkably frank about this in the past. Many of their customers' requirements have driven the 9.x series which seen serious performance improvements across the board (raw speed but also scalability). Don't know if Postgres is quite there yet. As usual, however, getting the most out of any of these systems is as much about having a good DBA who knows what to tweak as anything else.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Nice summary of my main thoughts @SVV

@BlueGreen

The logging of a RDBMS is a real overhead. If I can disable that I get a real boost…

Sure, so you just disable logging and possibly even transactions or integrity checks (eg. UNIQUE) as desirable. And you run it on a RAM disk if you can't configure cache to be big enough. This has been standard practice for years and presumably possible with MS SQL. One would expect the "in memory" database to bring something more to the party. Presumably for temporary tables as part of expensive queries.

The quip that the next version will dramatically increase the size of such databases is worth reflection. It suggests to me that what is being released now isn't really finished or is dependent upon other components which are also still "work in progress".

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Google hit by Monday morning blues: Talk, Hangouts, Sheets crash

Charlie Clark
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Re: Monolithic?

Thanks for the reply.

From the stuff I've heard Google places a lot of emphasis on properly developing and testing its code, which means loosely coupling components. This doesn't in any way preclude the kind of rollout of the plumbing you refer to and associated incidents that integration testing didn't pick up.

Delegating the plumbing (say cache management or replication) for the key applications to standard services is much smarter than reinventing the wheel in each application which I think any developer will have experienced at least once. But this doesn't make it monolithic.

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Charlie Clark
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Monolithic?

Where does that come from? I've never heard that before. Are Hangouts, Search, Docs, etc. in running on the same server?

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What kid uses wires? FCC supremo angry that US classrooms are filled with unused RJ45 ports

Charlie Clark
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Re: Wires...

As noted above, doing it properly for a whole building like a school means passing every room with cable for backhaul. Whether a room has two (you'll have at least two networks) RJ-45s or twenty isn't that relevant for costs. You then want to be able to have standardised access points that with (for teachers and staff at least) zero setup that can be plugged in to the cable and provide reasonably safe connections that play nicely across the building. AFAIK German universities have such setups which means visiting students simply signup with their existing credentials.

There are different ways to approach doing the actual work - it could be farmed off to a local ISP or network provider - but the equipment and planning are never going to be cheap.

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Microsoft slaps LTE mobe broadband into Surface 2 slabs (Yeah, take that, iPad)

Charlie Clark
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Re: If it's not unlocked, I'm not interested

That looks a lot like s slot to take a SIM of your choice…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: HOW MUCH?!

To be fair, the article notes this is the same premium that Apple charges for the same feature. Not sure how clever it is to do this. Having the same price point with LTE as the I-Pad without allows more competitive advertising. But it seems that Microsoft hasn't given up on positioning the device as an equal competitor to the I-Pad and in some ways it is (the hardware is top notch and for all the complaints the bundled software is impressive, storage - OS is still an issue). This won't matter to some people (who will find the device is exactly what they want) but is hardly the way to sell in volume.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Begs the question....

As it's unlikely that the relevant OEM didn't already have the SoC you've got software (device driver) and regulatory (FCC) approval to contend with. If it was the software then it doesn't bode well for the future of the Windows-RT platform.

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Crap turnover, sucky margins: TV is a 'terrible business' – Steve Jobs

Charlie Clark
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Margins

The margins on TV hardware are low and going lower. 4K might sell where 3D so obviously wouldn't, assuming content providers come up with the goods. Interesting to see Amazon trying to get in early there.

The hardware Apple TV is still a hobby for for Apple. It's cheap enough to sell and fits in nicely with the emerging eco-system of streaming to it from other devices (disintermediating by removing the remote control) but it's still niche. Apple desperately wants to be able to brand something to make a premium product out of it. This is more difficult with mass media than it is with high volume but still marginal hardware products.

It might be tempting to get into content production - say joint venture with Disney or buy HBO - but the history of such conglomerates has not been good (Sony, et al.). But some kind of OTT Apple premium service is conceivable.

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Europe approves common charger standard for mobe-makers

Charlie Clark
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From personal experience I'd say that the barrel connectors were too susceptible to physical damage both of the plug being bent and more serious of the socket.

My personal preference would be for a connector that supports abrupt movement without damage (connection breaks rather than a component) such as the old Ericsson connectors or the mag-safe stuff from Apple. Connectors should be either reversible (mini euro) or obviously usable in one orientation (British mains plug).

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Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

Re: Suck it, Apple.

So every laptop charger, no matter how small the laptop, should come with a charger capable of charging the largest, power hungry laptop?

Why not? Every wall has a standard socket for you to plug your device in? More seriously, what is most important is electro-mechanical compatibility. One of the reasons why PCs were successful was the use of ISA (industry standard architecture) including the plug. The plug in the back of portable radios is also standardised. Why can't this be possible for notebooks et al.? So that you could drive a big 17" notebook from your netbook's charger? This would still allow bigger dedicated power bricks (for faster charging or gaming, say) but keeping cables common would reduce costs.

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Windows hits the skids, Mac OS X on the rise

Charlie Clark
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Re: Perhaps missing the point?

Have to scroll to page three to find someone who actually takes issue with the core claim? Wow, that is bad even for El Reg.

The headline did its work as clickbait it would seem and nearly everyone was happy to jump in and have flame wars about OSes.

The trend over the last few years is not between "desktop" OSes but the move to mobile browsing, which can only be a proxy for installed OSes. El Reg will know this from its own statistics and could have improved the article considerably by using them to give additional context. Sigh.

As for all those remarks re. script/ad-blockers: it is relatively easy to see how much these are in used by carefully comparing server logs with script generated traffic. My understanding is that the proportion of users using them is still small, although large enough in some countries like Germany for some companies (United Internet) to try and take action against users. In any case it can be controlled for and reflected in the statistics.

A greater problem with these statistics is how they are obtained and particularly which sites use them. Sites such as The Register don't, for example. Again, it would have made sense to compare El Reg's statistics with those of StatCounter and NetApplications.

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Slash tuition fees for STEM students, biz boss body begs UK.gov

Charlie Clark
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Re: All bullshit

While I agree with the main thrust of your argument, it isn't that simple. Of course, the CBI wants to be able to employ Elbonians at a pittance to do the job and will argue with the skills shortage in order to get this. Wonder what solution UKIP will come up with?

Nevertheless, it is also true that labour markets are not entirely elastic: you can't just move people around with higher/lower wages (families, assets, etc. add inertia) or train them to do XYZ. If there is an aggregate demand that exceeds easily available resources then raising the price will not help much. The net result might be to force companies in the sector out of business - this might be because they are uncompetitive (for various reasons) in the area - not wanting to get into a debate about that simply to highlight that it's not always that straightforward.

Business is perfectly right to lobby for its interest but also able to dust off some of the old style cooperations with colleges that used to work well and still appears* to work reasonably well in places like Germany.

* apprenticeships routinely go in and out of fashion depending upon other macroeconomic factors. 10 years ago school leavers couldn't get an apprenticeship for love nor money, now even though competition at university is higher than it used to be, companies can't find enough apprentices. In 1990s it became fashionable to farm off older employers for early retirement…

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YES, new Office for OS X is COMING, says German Microsoft bod

Charlie Clark
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Although I generally use LibreOffice I think MS Office for Mac is a reasonable product. The Mac team at Microsoft has a history of overdelivering in detail (yes, I know there's stuff it can't or doesn't do).

Though compatibility has come on leaps and bounds there are still things where MS Office excels. I know that quite a few people prefer Powerpoint to Keynote - personally I find Keynote much better - and a lot of people seem to love Outlook.

It's looking good that, over time, Microsoft will have to support ODF properly. This could lead to a genuine competition about tools. Plenty of people would be happy to pay, presumably somewhat less than they currently do, for an MS product that guaranteed interoperability in documents but provided an edge when working with them. Who knows, maybe they'll give up the monster that is OOXML and embrace ODF for their own stuff. I'm sure their own programmers would thank them and they could retire the army of unproductive bods associated with the standardisation. Well, one can dream they might, anyway! ;-)

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EU Parliament rubber-stamps 'irreversible' data protection reforms

Charlie Clark
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She's right

Same law across the EU for everyone and the European Commission with enough powers to enforce. The national governments won't try and dilute this much further. But there will be attempts to do so via the secretive TTIP,

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Satisfy my scroll: El Reg gets claws on Windows 8.1 spring update

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: As if this will make people happy!

WIMP GUIs have always been designed to provide neophytes a way to discover functionality for themselves and learn the keyboard shortcuts as they do so.

So, we should be using vi for everything then?

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Charlie Clark
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Good review.

Windows 8' schizophrenia is so disorientating that it makes me wonder whether anyone at Microsoft is actually using the shit on a daily basis!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I'll wait until Windows 9 before considering an up/down grade from win7

Vista didn't really hurt MS - they carried on selling XP and then they had massive uptake on W7 afterwards

Complete bollocks. Vista really and persistently damaged the image that Microsoft had carefully cultivated with XP (the merger of the DOS bastards and NT). It had huge hardware demands and, although intrinsically more secure, it managed to have application permissions so confusing that most people looked for the "Michael Rimmer" switch to disable it!

Vista was supposed to completely replace XP but, once PC makers found that they couldn't sell it, Microsoft extended XP's lifetime so that they could at least sell that. It put corporate customers off upgrades they might otherwise well have done and entrenched Microsoft's reputation as a purveyor of shoddy browsers with a synthetic restriction on which OSes get which browser.

Because they make so much money from Office and the volume licensing that they have the damage to the bottom line didn't show up immediately. But Vista killed Silverlight and a host of other technologies that Microsoft was hoping to force down the world's throat.

Windows 7 is a fine OS in the XP tradition - I primarily use MacOS and am not a huge fan of Windows - but everyone I know is reasonably happy with 7: it's stable, has all the apps and drivers you could ever want and you know where things are.

Windows 8 was a clownish attempt to tell the market what it wanted. It proved to be both Sinofsky's and Ballmer's (and who knows who else's?) exit pass. And it still doesn't work. Now that the PC/tablet inflexion point has been passed, Microsoft's bottom line is much more susceptible. It's managed to come up with a strategy that satisfies neither touch nor desktop users. Microsoft has massive traction in the installed base and is still managing to lose market share.

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Twittapocalypse! Twitter implodes, locked out tweeps around the world

Charlie Clark
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Pity it's not permanent

NFT

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Blurred lines: Android e-ink mobe claims TWO-WEEK battery life

Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

Page turning to save power

Well, maybe but primarily because it's because the media is paged anyway and useful for the TOC and index and also because the eye copes much better with page turning than it does with scrolling. We only suffer with on web browsers because too few manufacturers have got round to implementing paged media extensions and have been pissing around with things like CSS regions instead!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Look to wifi and mobile data for power saving

Disabling GPS when you're not using it is another good way to save power.

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Does Apple's iOS 7 make you physically SICK? Try swallowing version 7.1

Charlie Clark
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CL Tools update as well

Looks like some of the "goodness" requires an update of the toolchain. Version 5.1 of "Command Line Developer Tools" has also been released.

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PM Cameron leaps aboard Internet of Thingies

Charlie Clark
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Re: A fridge that can order you milk when it notices you are getting low

As for asking the Germans to do the engineering, well with all the IT successes…

I dunno, we've had our fair share of expensive IT balls up here as well, you know. The motorway toll collection system has to go down as one of the most expensive failures. Course, they kept throwing money at it till it worked and then renewed the contract without putting it out to tender.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Roll those eyes

Yep, just as Mr O. points out: local services stand to benefit from improvements in yields and productivity. 'bout time to when consider how extraordinarily inefficient the current internet-based purchasing model is.

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New design flaw found in crypto's TLS: Pretend to be a victim online

Charlie Clark
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This is why

it's good to pay for research out of the public purse.

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Windows XP market share GROWS AGAIN, outstrips Win 8.1 surge

Charlie Clark
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Re: Piss poor data?

Yep, but when has a Reg journo let something like facts get in the way of an eyeball-grabbing headline?

I mean, El Reg could actually run a comparison of different aggregators (Net Applications, StatCounter, Akamai, et al.) But that would be work and require thinking.

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GNU security library GnuTLS fails on cert checks: Patch now

Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

As is noted on this Hacker News thread, alternative security libraries such as OpenSSL are available and packages can be compiled against OpenSSL rather than GnuTLS. However, as a result of license incompatibilities, plenty of packages default to GnuTLS.

Of course, if the FSF could get of its high horse then we could all work together to avoid bugs like this being around for so long.

As it stands I've just updated my ports and got the new version of the library. Thanks to those who spotted, fixed it and pushed the changes to the various repositories.

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Murdoch dumps Microsoft, prepares to Hangout with Google

Charlie Clark
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Re: Rent a managed server ..

Inasmuch as they are effectively buying managed servers my guess is that it is not cheaper. I doubt very much whether one person can provide 24/7 support all year round. Then there are the licences and software rollout costs.

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Booze and bacon sarnies: A recipe for immortality?

Charlie Clark
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Re: I'm game

"Pint of stout, Sinbad, and no egg in it!"

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Charlie Clark
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Re: 20g of "processed meat"

Fresh meat - straight from the carcass is usually fine. And, if you can overcome your inhibitions damn tasty (the palate is hard-wired to respond positively to raw protein). There are exceptions, of course, but in general you can eat anything freshly killed.

Our propensity for cooking stuff has as much to do with using fossil fuels to do some of the work of digestion as any safety considerations. Boiling water is another matter.

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Apple's Windows XP moment: OS X Snow Leopard left to DIE

Charlie Clark
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Re: What are we waiting for?

It would be okay if the hardware restrictions were less draconian. I have a MacMini as a backup machine and although it's Intel (Core 2 Duo) it's not able to use anything more recent than Lion.

Snow Leopard itself was a bit of a brown bag release with the most important fixes pushed into Lion.

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New radio tech could HALVE mobe operators' bandwidth needs

Charlie Clark
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Re: So let me ask this then....

I too am a little sceptical of this working in the real world, or at least working well enough to be useful.

We've probably still got quite a bit more to squeeze out of compression and even finer spectrum and time slicing.

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Github brews text editor for developers

Charlie Clark
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Re: I'll stick with sh & vi, thank you.

The choice of editor is a very personal thing. Personally, I've never got on with vi's way of doing things but I know people who love it because of the way it works. Great if it works for you.

What this thing seems to have going for it is the ability to use the internal JS runtime for working, presumably primarily with Node.js, with Javascript. And previewing generated content. That might make debugging a little easier.

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T-Mobile US: Our dump-your-network drive is doing SO WELL (PS: We lost $20m last quarter)

Charlie Clark
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Go

Numbers

Losses of less than $ 50 million a quarter? No wonder no one's really interested in buying T-Mobile. Twitter, Groupon et al are able to do much better than that!

And the ARPU is still over $ 50? I'm sure there are many telco CEOs in Europe who'd be more than happy with less than half that! Shows you just how far there is to go in the US market.

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Tab for Xmas, Mr Consumer? Yes please. And Mr Busin... NOPE

Charlie Clark
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Joke

It's a terrible number but, given the numbers sold in 2012, it can have some great spin put on it: something thine 1000000 % growth!

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Linux-friendly Munich: Ja, we'll take open source collab cloud

Charlie Clark
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Re: Lucky

There is some sweet irony in that Microsoft Germany is based closed to Munich!

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Software needs meaty cores, not thin, stringy ARMs, says Intel

Charlie Clark
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Re: Power law

Maybe per Watt per dollar? Intel keeps on going on about performance mainly for the reason of cost. Even Atoms and ARMs are converging around performance per Watt, you can still get an ARMful of ARMs for the price of one Atom. That means more memory, networking, etc. or even margin for the system developer.

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What's up with that WhatsApp $19bn price tag? Answer: Voice calls

Charlie Clark
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Re: Skype is doing thef for ages... what's new?

Technologically the WhatsApp deal is not interesting. Skype's been out there for a while, I find the voice / video in Google Hangout's very good, which has the added "bonus" of already working with WebRTC, and there are now even open source solutions out there. However, scaling VOIP up and providing a reliable service for hundreds of millions isn't for the faint-hearted. As many have pointed out: the networks can easily play nastily unless the get cut in.

The money isn't real money - it's mainly a stock deal albeit plus a handsome pay-off for the VCs. Not sure if any of them are on Facebook's board. If so there might be a conflict of interest, except you can't have one for a private company so it would be down to shareholders getting off their butts and taking action (not going to happen as presumably the big ones are in on the pay-off).

No, the deal for Facebook was always about closing down the competition: there shall be one social network and Facebook is its name. Here, money doesn't matter and costs are usually offset against tax anyway (investors will accept lower profits in exchange for higher shareprices because of the favourable treatment of capital gains) and the long term expectation that market domination will lead to monetisation. Personally, I think Rakuten's valuation of Viber was probably close to the money.

Microsoft still thinks it's going to make money from Skype/Lync in the corporate world. One of my clients is big on Microsoft but they're currently rolling out Cisco kit which links into Lync and BBM still dominates the messaging space. But, who knows? Maybe corporates will get worried about the future of BlackBerry and turn to Microsoft.

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Samsung brandishes quad-core Galaxy S5, hopes nobody wants high specs

Charlie Clark
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Re: Brilliant

No, Samsung is differentiating.

There is a market for whatever bling Apple produces (I don't believe anyone is buying the Iphone 5s because it's 64-bit) just as there is a market for the biggest screen around, the loudest phone or the bestest (sic) camera. The S5 is more of a gradual improvement on the S4 than anything revolutionary but comes with all kinds of goodies (waterproofing is important to a lot of people) to encourage existing S3 and S2 owners to go for it (or, presumably the mini version when it becomes available).

When it comes to 64-bit wouldn't be surprised to see Samsung and others release a phone once a 64-bit version of Android is available, but as I said above, it's hardly what the market is crying out for.

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Sina rumoured to be prepping Weibo for $500m US-based IPO

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

$500m pah!

It ticks all the boxes: app, internet, chat, social, emerging markets, growth. Got to be valued at around $20 - $30bn and IPO accordingly!

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Nokia launches Android range: X marks the growing low-cost spot

Charlie Clark
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The gateway drug

And this will help them sell Windows Phone because…?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Heh

I guess you must have missed that Windows Phone is at over 10% market share in a number of countries now including the UK…

No, we didn't. We called the Kantar figures bullshit at the time and IDC backed us up.

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UK citizens to Microsoft: Oi. We WANT ODF as our doc standard

Charlie Clark
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Re: This all boils down to:

It should actually be pretty easy for Microsoft to use ODF keep a dominant position in the market by making the best software around. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are okay for many things but I have more crashes with either of them than I ever have with MS Office.

Going ODF would mean Microsoft could drop the army of people associated with maintaining and implementing its own very unwieldy (yes, I've worked with it) standard. They've sort of shown they can do this with the more recent versions of Internet Explorer but you can just see how they still haven't understood that providing tools and services are more important than sabotaging data formats.

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Collective SSL FAIL a symptom of software's cultural malaise

Charlie Clark
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Re: So what's the solution?

Two wrongs don't make a right: software can always have bugs. Open source has the advantage of peer review and the chance to learn from each other's mistakes.

Apple already makes extensive use of open source software in the stack but it doesn't really embrace it. No, this doesn't mean that they should suddenly open source all their stuff immediately but that they can contribute more actively to making key libraries better for everyone. Doing this properly would mean Apple developers could spend time reinventing and retesting the wheel.

Currently, if you buy a Mac your POSIX stack will stay frozen until Apple release a new version of the OS (Apple's openssl on my machine seems to be 0.9.8y, MacPorts is on 1.0.1f). It would be a cinch for them to adopt any of the ports projects and integrate into the OS and lever their own sophisticated QA so that we all get better components.

All of this has nothing to do with a caffeine-infused development culture which I think is irrelevant here. Companies still focus on features over quality. Someone took a decision here not to implement code review, static code analysis, pen-testing, etc and all likelihood that wasn't some kid hunched over a keyboard a 3 in the morning.

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Microsoft courts mobe-makers, tweaks Windows 8 for WIMPs

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Race to the bottom?

Is this an admission that Microsoft has lost the high-end. high-margin game and is now preparing to slug it out with a free OS at the bottom just to get some good sales numbers? This might have been a strategy a couple of years ago before the Chinese nonames got their teeth into Android but now it feels like too little too late, especially since Google has started optimising Android for smaller machines. Though, Mr Orlowski contends that Windows Phone has always been better on shittier hardware.

Also note on the sales figures: which ones are being quoted? I thought IDC poured some pretty cold water on Windows Phones sales in 2013.

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Groupon plans MORE losses next quarter: Will lob wads of cash down marketing's maw

Charlie Clark
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Re: Losses why?

At first I thought you were trying to be ironic but then I realised that you really don't seems to get it. Explains some of your other posts perhaps.

Groupon's model is because its business model involves encouraging the customers of its customers to be disloyal. It's hardly surprising that this makes it hard to keep customers which means it needs continually new customers which is acquires not from the internet but from a good old-fashioned sales force. It's closer to Tupperware or Avon than it is to an internet-based service or even classic voucher services which seek to spread the cost of promotion between manufacturers and retailers. It doesn't scale well which is why its expansion has just led to higher costs. This might be okay if it had a business model that wasn't so parasitic. Other businesses with similar requirements (people on the ground) are doing better either because they cover new markets (AirBnB) or improve yields (Opentable). Maybe the "pull" approach as has legs.

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Steelie Neelie 'shocked' that EU tourists turn mobes off when abroad

Charlie Clark
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Calm down! calm down!

Some of the restrictions or charges have some justification: Skype uses more bandwidth than an equivalent voice call; roaming does incur some charges (billing mainly) and does require telcos in the land visited to invest in sufficient infrastructure to cope with visitors: think of popular holiday destinations - a surcharge of some kind might be reasonable.

Ten years ago both the EC and the European Parliament proposed abandoning roaming altogether but the the national governments wouldn't have it but did accept the phasing out over time that we're seeing. The telcos resistance to change and shows how important their massive short-term profits are too them. They could have killed OTT services by simply reducing prices but preferred to charge more and complain. If international calls only cost, say, 25 % more than national ones, Skype would never have had a chance. Ditto texts and WhatsApp - SMS used to be free because billing it was more expensive than the cost of transmission…

The big bang is yet to come when you get to choose your roaming partner. This will be too fiddly for most consumers but should revolutionise the whole market (both roaming and national) within a couple of years.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Once again the EU makes a good call.

The media and the government need a whipping boy and the civil service and bureaucracy of the European Commission make excellent ones.

Anything that is unpopular is blamed on them, whereas anything that turns out to be popular is usually spun as hard-won by the government. Business always finds a way to defend gouging as necessary for investment (the Ryanair twat about compensation payments, the telcos about roaming, etc.) The Commission is always on the defensive in such situations and most of the "journalists" covering the issue spend more time drinking with Farage and his buddies than they do reading the, admittedly often tedious, documents related to the single market.

Now, if only the UK would get on with unbundling the UK's energy markets as the EU requires…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: It's not phone calls, it's data

There has been a cap of € 50 per month for roaming charges in the EU for some years now that you have to explicitly ask to be remove. So, if anyone is being hit wit hundreds then it's most likely their own fault.

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IT'S ALIVE! China's Jade Rabbit rover RETURNS from the DEAD

Charlie Clark
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Re: "mechanical control abnormality"

It may have had a dust up with the rogue cooker that patrols the moon…

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