* Posts by Charlie Clark

3628 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

What can't sell Galaxy S6s and keeps going down on you? Samsung and its profits

Charlie Clark
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They thought people would like the phone but more would buy the cheaper model. Turns out that the Edge appeals to more people than they expected so they've sold more of the higher margin version. Total sales may be down a bit but a profit is a profit. I know a couple with the Edge and they love it.

At the moment, however, profits for any company with large sales in Europe around 15% down to to the Dollar/Euro exchange rate.

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Record-breaking $502m in sales, BIG LOSSES – OF COURSE IT'S TWITTER

Charlie Clark
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Re: AMD

Below cost? I don't believe a word of it. For the last few months now I've been avoiding Amazon and finding other places to buy stuff ... and reputable, long standing small companies are coming in cheaper than Amazon.

The appeal of Amazon appears to be convenience and laziness. You've always been able to find cheaper/better products elsewhere but, like a supermarket, Amazon appears to offer everything in one place. Doesn't work for me but obviously does for many others and this, along with questionable employment and accounting practices, is slowly driving the competition out of business.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Twitter is the next Amazon

Just imagine if the two got together? A marriage made in heaven!

Actually, that's a bit unfair on Amazon. Bezos has always been clear about spending any money the company makes on new stuff. Shareholders have so far been content to accept an increasing share price instead of dividends and Amazon does have things to show: AWS, Kindle, etc. I fully expect the shop and warehouse business to be split off at some point.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Sales?

And, perhaps more worringly, too whom? Hands up anyone with a company who's spent money advertising on Twitter?

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Debian Project holds Sparc port's hand, switches off life support

Charlie Clark
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Re: Alternatives?

And there is OpenSolaris in its various guises. Wonder if Linux was ever really popular on SPARC.

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Got an Android phone? SMASH IT with a hammer – and do it NOW

Charlie Clark
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Carriers monkey with the OS/apps, then the carriers should fix them. It is high time that the law treats this sort of thing as a fault to be fixed for, say, 5 years after last sale. For everyone, so no supplier can wriggle out and not have to pony up to fix the damn software.

Five years is excessive. I'm not sure if the length of the warranty is really the problem. As you point out there are a lot of parties involved in any rollout. The law should be used to streamline the distribution of security patches. The threat of legal action backed up with stiff penalties can work wonders.

This might be good in getting the carriers out of the mix, to which they add so little. Manufacturers might also be forced to pool resources for development or otherwise face a levy to a statutory body.

Some thought would be need to given to older hardware which is no longer able to support the latest version of an OS. Backporting will only work so for so long. Might have to introduce official restrictions on older hardware. It's not really that different to phasing out things like analogue mobile phones. Carriers should be able to enforce this.

Just some ideas.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Meep.

With them you're getting updates for a 4 year old device, but in world of premium android you seem to get a "gentleman's agreement" on 2 years, and then you're on your own.

That's the legal requirement in the EU. Some of this stuff simply needs challenging in the courts.

Things are often complicated by carriers running their own shit on top of the manufacturers' shit making which makes development and test take a lot longer. But some court rulings could really help in establishing the various degrees of liability.

Apple's support is great as far as it goes. Anecdotally, however, I've been told that after about 3 years performance on the latest IOS seems to be so poor that new hardware is best solution. And app devs on IOS seem to march in lockstep with the IOS versions, meaning that OS upgrades are often required if you want to use the latest version of an app.

There's less variance in phone hardware than there is on your average PC

That simply isn't true. The lack of an ISA (industry standard architecture) has led to a raft of proprietary SoC's that all do things differently.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Tightwads

How much, in your opinion, should they have paid? Should we really be encouraging a market for the reporting of bugs?

It is very important for companies like Google to reward such contributions appropriately. But the incentives need to be correctly aligned.

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Hurrah! Windfarms produce whopping ONE PER CENT of EU energy

Charlie Clark
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Re: Why's this a story?

To the "let's all go nucular!" folks: How many years ago did France buy much electricity from Grumpenland (Solar, in winter!) because their reactors had to stop as the rivers were frozen?

To be fair France tends to buy more from Germany in hot, dry summers as the rivers get hotter and are less effective at cooling the nuclear plants. It generally exports to Germany in Winter when it is colder and darker.

Nuclear is a _transitional_ technology, as remarked by A. Merkel (btw. she is a physicist IIRC).

She also infamously compared it to baking once…

The knee-jerk response post-Fukushima was as politically astute as it was economically inept. It came hard on the heels of extensions to nuclear plant lifetimes with attendant contracts that are now being used in the courts to assess compensation. That volte-face may turn out to have saved her career as six months previously she had ignored Röttgen's advice not to go back to nuclear.

Of course, since then she's had her foot firmly on the brake when it comes to lower vehicle emissions.

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Charlie Clark
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Spoilsport! ;-)

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Charlie Clark
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Re: your forgot a bit

Well, I hear the Saudis are pumping like crazy to keep the price down (for not entirely clear reasons.

They're pumping to keep market share. The basic logic is to try and force American shale oil out of the business. Hasn't worked so far.

I am slightly worried about what they might do to prevent sanctions against Iran from being lifted as everything now points to fat pipelines from Iran to Europe, China and India.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: dealing with waste from nuclear power

New reactor designs are slated to totally eliminate waste storage by milking existing nuclear waste for all it's got.

1980 called and wants its headline back.

Nuclear has been over-promising and under-delivering from the start. In the process it's hoovered up more subsidies than the renewable lobby will ever do. Is that Finnish plant online yet? Did the UK government really have to promise a fixed profit level for its next plant?

Renewables are doing just fine. The problem is a lack of storage that can be replace backup generation capacity.

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So what the BLINKING BONKERS has gone wrong in the eurozone?

Charlie Clark
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Re: The 1930s

I await your detailed takedown so I can assess it.

I kind of walked into that one. Well, I won't give you one mainly because this is mainly a tech site, but I also don't have time for the details.

Suffice it to say that economics is far more politics than it is science, and a "dismal science" at that. My politics are profoundly different to Mr Worstall's: I'm a proud European and he's an insular (ex-pat, I believe). So we are bound to start from different positions and come to different conclusions. I can live with a difference of opinion but do get annoyed by the populist oversimplifications.

Germany didn't bail out its banks more than Britain. You can see the scale of the UK bailout in the public deficit after the financial crisis. Any comparison of the economies should have a baseline in 2008. From 2008 to 2012 Britain managed to shrink its economy and keep inflation above target, leading to a decline in the real standard of living. It's okay though, because nominal asset values were maintained.

When it comes to bullying other economies. Well, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. The UK applied enormous pressure to Ireland to bailout its banks and thus avoid British banks taken the hit of the bad loans. It then applied anti-terrorist legislation to seize Icelandic assets from banks that had been correctly licensed in the UK. The hawkish head of the FCA has just been told that his contract won't be renewed so it looks like a return to "light-touch", risk-on regulation. Given that the finance sector was contributing around 25% of GDP before the crash, you can see where the incentive to do this might be coming from.

Germany was one of the fastest countries to be fiscally expansive with the stupid-but-popular cash-for-clunkers scheme. State-subsidised shorter working hours were also hugely popular and are again with Opel recently applying for them now that the Russian market has collapsed. German banks were certainly complicit in stoking Greece's insolvency and the arms manufacturers certainly did a roaring trade, but no more so than any other country.

Translating "Ordnungspolitik" with ordoliberalism is fashionable but wrong. The German post-War political order was largely imposed by the allies so any thoughts of peculiar German traits are misplaced. It is the government's job to create the relevant institutions to manage the various sectors. Afterwards the government is legally prevented from meddling. This is one of the reasons why the Bundesbank is more independent than the Federal Reserve, the other being that the Federal Reserve is as beholden to the commercial banks as it is to the US government.

The hyperinflation of the 1920s is not etched in some kind of collective memory but it did illustrate the futility of getting the central bank to monetise government debt by printing money. This is why there is little desire or understanding in Germany for money printing as a solution. Whether QE has been a success or not can only properly be assessed once the central banks have managed to shrink their balance sheets. Little evidence of that at the moment.

Austerity is much misused word. In the early 2000s Germany certainly engaged in restraint across government and business in order to regain competitive advantage lost by the 1:1 exchange rate of unification. The labour market was significantly liberalised and wage restraint was exercised with annual pay increases well below the rate of inflation the norm for about 10 years. Similar adjustments were, of course, practised by the Baltic countries after-2008 as they strove to join the Euro.

Some of the consequences of this were the nearly disastrous falls in productivity in other Eurozone countries and the export of German savings into high-risk, high-return investments such as American CDOs and Greek bonds. Other consequences such as underfunding of healthcare and pensions will take time to show.

All the historical comparisons with the Great Depression, Hitler's rise to power, etc. can be illuminating but are necessarily simplistic. The 1930s were extremely unstable across Europe which is why Ramsay MacDonald imposed a state of emergency in 1931. This is quite simply not the case today. Not that there isn't considerable hardship throughout Europe but the scale is very different.

Where I do agree is that the Euro is unfinished business. Since its introduction the member states largely turned inwards and tried to ignore the consequences of pooling sovereignty. France is the elephant in the room here with successive governments simply failing to start the same kind of dialogue with the population that Germany did in 2001. It simply is not enough to look covetously at the situation "outre-rhin" and expect some kind of a miracle.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Germany really doesn't believe the last 60 years

But ten years ago, while the French and Luxembourg shops all accepted Visa and Mastercard, German shops held steadfastly on to cash only.

It might interest you to know that the number of credit cards in Germany peaked about 10 years ago and has been decreasing since. Why? Because the transaction charges of around 4% are not negligible. Where credit card are accepted, it's not unusual to ask for or be offered a discount if you pay cash or use your EC card. Try it the next time you go shopping in Germany.

Credit cards are common in the travel industry but even then you may see surcharges for credit cards (increasingly common when booking flights).

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The 1930s

Is it just me or are Tim's articles getting really good these days? I've gone from being a bit dismissive to being very appreciative.

It's you. There's a bit more history in this one but it's still full of the usual strawmen and incomplete arguments.

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Ballmer's billion-dollar blunders: When he gambled Microsoft's money and lost

Charlie Clark
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ODF is the death knell of Microsoft. If Microsoft cannot hold its customers to Office format, then any office suite will do - and Libre Office is free and Open Source.

Bollocks to that. FWIW Office OpenXML is just as open as ODF. It may be shit but it is open.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Don't be scared to fail

This is something that the US seems to accept much more easily than in the UK

The bankruptcy laws have a lot to do with that. In the US if you fail bad there's little to stop you walking away from the debt and starting all over again. There are attendant tax-breaks for those lending the money so venture capital is far less risky than it might appear.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: In fairness to Ballmer

All good except for this:

Linux also brought a threat to the client end with a competent desktop which just needs an ecosystem.

It still ain't happening for Linux outside Android.

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Charlie Clark
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My guess is that Windows 8 itself probably didn't cost a great deal of revenue directly. In the consumer space the move towards handhelds was already underway. Enterprise customers had already generally said: no thanks, we're still busy with Windows 7. Yes, it was a PR fuckup, but if you look at the EBITDA since then it's been steady.

In much the same way that the Vista fiasco led to a concentration of minds and a thoroughly reasonable Windows 7, Windows 8 is leading towards Windows 10. The OS available on release date is probably less important than many of us imagine. More important is the general shift at Microsoft towards services and also acknowledging that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" with Office and Cortana for Android and IOS. Windows 10 may just end up being one way of getting those services into people's hands.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: To paraphrase Reagan...

Yeah, they're still sitting on the goodwill. Wonder when their "corrections" are coming. MS was bidding against itself for Skype!

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Google: Hey startups, want in on our patent gang? First hit's free

Charlie Clark
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Re: How is this protection against patent trolls?

Microsoft isn't a patent troll, not by the true definition

What is the true definition? I'd define a patent troll as anyone attempting to use patents to prevent innovation, which is the opposite of what they're supposed to be for. Unisys' waving of the LZW patent falls into this category along with Microsoft's always out-of-court settlements about FAT and Apple's "rubber band" patent.

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Charlie Clark
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Revenues of $500,000 would imply a workforce of less than 10 people. That seems a reasonable definition of a startup to me.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: How is this protection against patent trolls?

The protection against trolls works in two ways: firstly, the pool will be able to act for any member that is challenged (think of Microsoft's dubious cases about FAT); secondly, over time the patents of companies that join will not become available to trolls for future abuse because they're already cross-licensed.

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Take off, eh, you Uber: Ontario lobs $300m lawsuit at cab app biz

Charlie Clark
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Re: uber experiences....

They reviewed my previous trip and gave a refund so the later trip was the same cost as the former

Which is virtually admission of the charge of employment…

Uber seems to do well in America where local taxi services seem disorganised and rarely run in the interests of passengers. The solution there is to beat Uber at its own game and provide more convenience, capacity and flexibility. But it is wrong to assume that this is the case the world over.

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Antitrust this! EU Commish goes after HOLLYWOOD’s big guns

Charlie Clark
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Re: What's not to like?

At the risk of coming over all Tim Worstall

Oh, I think you'll find he's got all the arguments in favour of discretional pricing and how it maximises value.

The fact is that Hollywood has for years been dumping content on poorer countries (and tolerating piracy) to get people used to their superior (well, it generally is) product so that they can raise prices in the future. For some content owners, I'm thinking of channels like HBO, however, this could be a boon as it could allow them to cut out the middlemen: sell to the whole of Europe via a single subsidiary in, say, Luxembourg or Ireland.

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Want longer battery life? Avoid the New York Times and The Grauniad

This post has been deleted by a moderator

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Charlie Clark
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Re: Ads? Flash? JavaScript animations?

Network connections being kept open to serve ads and track users mean that the phone's radios have to be kept on.

Still, it's a novel approach to website performance.

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Were the FIRST AMERICANS really FIRST? MYSTERY of vanished 'Population Y'

Charlie Clark
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Old news?

The term "paleoamerican" has been used for a while to distinguish some inhabitants of the Americas from what we now call "native Americans. See http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21602193-new-fossil-helps-understanding-about-how-americas-were-colonised-history for an example.

The more fossils and ancient DNA we find the more complex migration turns out to have been. But the size of the oceans, particularly the Pacific, did put limits on many journeys. With the right wind and currents a raft might conceivably make it but there was no way people could carry enough fresh water with them.

What it comes down to is largely politics on interpreting migration patterns. Do the Celts have any more right to the British Isles than the Anglo Saxons and Vikings? Not that this is any kind of apologist justification for past crimes: the treatment of the indigenous population by European settlers has routinely be dreadful.

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Embarrassed Amazon admits to actually MAKING MONEY as cloud biz blooms

Charlie Clark
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Split the company

Sell-off the moving of physical product and concentrate on the digital services and AWS.

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Get root on an OS X 10.10 Mac: The exploit is so trivial it fits in a tweet

Charlie Clark
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Re: Congratulations on repeating exploits before they can be fixed

Do you have evidence of that or are you just trying to adopt vox populi here?

Yes. Microsoft and Adobe come in for a lot of criticism including from me but they have both responded to recent 0-day attacks in less than a week. Oracle has also vastly improved its patch release speed. Apple has previously taken months to release upstream security fixes (to Java in the past, more recently to openssl) especially to Safari and then there this is clusterfuck of their very own making.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Congratulations on repeating exploits before they can be fixed

Len, time will tell; Apple didn’t fix CVE-2015-1130

Apple's record on fixing bugs is worse than Microsoft's, Adobe's, Google's and Oracle's. I guess it doesn't seem to matter if you can convince your customers to buy new hardware rather than sue you for negligence.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Congratulations on repeating exploits before they can be fixed

Congratulations on repeating exploits in detail before they can be fixed by anyone…

Someone pass me the clue hammer. Or maybe it's a troll trying to go for the record number of downvotes?

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Charlie Clark
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Well, next time I'm bored in the shopping centre I can have some fun in the apple store.

Why bother there? Proper malware gets installed onto boot images at the factory…

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MariaDB seeks home-grown CEO for Oracle bout

Charlie Clark
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The existing CEO is leaving because he's had a better offer and so now they need to find someone else? This is not usually the sound of success.

MariaDB has been stealing business from MySQL – among them Google – as companies fret about Oracle's control over the project and product.

Postgres has been stealing more and more valuable business. Oracle is doing a reasonable job of cleaning up some of the weirder shit in MySQL.

And with Postgres you can have mission critical, ie. must not get lost or corrupted data, with an optimised binary JSON store for the transient shit that fuels the interwebs.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Why do these primitive databases excite people so?

MongoDB has no relationship (pun intended!) to MongoDB

er, perhaps you think one of those Mongos should be a Maria? ;-)

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Google swears blind it doesn't give SEO advantage to new internet dot-words

Charlie Clark
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Conspiracy theory?

Don't believe Google – believe us!

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The French want to BAN .doc and .xls files from Le Gouvernement

Charlie Clark
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Re: Misleading

France has a history of genuinely favouring open source. By and large this has helped keep the French IT sector active and helped avoid some outsourcing.

Office 2016 will now ask you what format (OOXML / ODF) you want to use as standard. I spend a fair amount of time working my way through the OOXML specification and there are some maddening inconsistencies and errors in it. I can very much imagine many of the Microsoft developers jumping for joy they no longer have to work with it themselves. ODF is a far better specification though by no means perfect.

To their credit Microsoft has continued to publish the details of what are essentially proprietary extensions to OOXML and the extensions are generally a considerable improvement on the original, which looks like decompiled BIFF mixed in XML bullshit a lot of the time. Office 2013 will even let you save as "strict OOXML" with the disadvantage of this being the least interoperable version, largely because it uses different XML namespaces. The last time I checked it wasn't supported by LibreOffice or OpenOffice but that may have changed.

The big problem for LibreOffice and OpenOffice, and the opportunity for Microsoft, is that LO and OO are worse to use. I gave up on LO because it routinely crashed doing things like saving to PDF or loading a single page invoice with an embedded logo. OO is more stable and has the better UI but is getting little developer love. Microsoft has the money to pay developers and you can see this in the upcoming Office 2016 which has toned down the worst of the 2007 / 2010 distractions (I hate the ribbon) and particularly Excel has features which "power users", generally in the finance industry, are happy to pay for.

Microsoft has also, if somewhat belatedly, discovered the mobile market where OO and LO have yet to show. For things to really change then we're going to have work out ways of paying more developers to work on OO and LO (merging codebases at some point might be an idea).

Last but not least, I'll side with almost anyone agains the time-wasters at the FSF.

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SpaceX's blast shock delays world's MOST POWERFUL ROCKET

Charlie Clark
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There's no real doubt that a SpaceX alternative would be cheaper and probably better

I would say there is considerable doubt. As for the 1970s technology jibe: all rockets are 1940s technology.

Yes, the Space Alliance is beholden to the behemoths but that doesn't mean that they can't eventually come up with the goods: it's not as if they don't have damn good engineers. Part of the historic problem of cost-plus overrun was politician-driven mission creep. Though on some of the really pioneering work you can't really do anything other than go cost-plus, which is why DARPA still does it.

In any case, any discussion of launch vehicles really ought to include Ariane which continues to quietly go about the business of commercial satellite launch. But also as the space programmes in China and India progress we can expect to see even more fruits of "lean innovation" across the industry. Who's to say that the Chinese won't be offering 150 tonne launchers 10 years from now?

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Windows 10 Edge: Standards kinda suck yet better than Chrome?

Charlie Clark
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Vivaldi is also shit and highly crashy

Running so much of the UI in Javascript makes it a bit slow but the usability is coming along nicely. I haven't had it crash yet.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The king is dead !

The IE team has been much more engaged in standards than Apple over the last few years.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: wtf!

Actually, since IE9 the relevant developers have been working quite hard to implement web standards but were hamstrung by backwards compatibility due to the clusterfuck that is ActiveX. Edge is the result of the realisation by management that maintaining support for that kind of stuff, that they have been actively discouraging since Vista, was not compatible with actually updating the browser.

Where IE 8 is required it's easy enough to run a thin VM with IE 8.

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Microsoft: Hey, you. Done patching Windows this month? WRONG

Charlie Clark
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Re: Kernel mode fonts

then the GDI could be taken out of the kernel and brought back into userland without affecting compatibility.

Thanks for the detail!

Didn't Microsoft kill GDI in Vista? Certainly on any machine beefy enough to handle WPM the font-handling should be the responsibility of the graphics engine, hopefully running on the card.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Adobe crapware again?

Well, consider that font handling is a basic OS function (meaning it gets used all the time) AND that graphics drivers are in kernel space for performance reasons, how else are you going to get smooth and speedy font rendering without tons of time-wasting context switching?

I think this is the root cause: x86 is dreadful at context-switching which is why the decision was taken to put stuff that had deliberately been kept out of the kernel into it. I suspect it didn't make as much difference on the DEC Alphas that early on were given equal status to x86. Sigh, another instance of where the Wintel duopoly stifled innovation and quality.

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Here's why Whittingdale kicked a subscription BBC into the future

Charlie Clark
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Flawed comparison

The UK market has lagged behind other countries, using DVB-T/MPEG-2 for FreeView when the rest of Europe was implementing DVB-T/MPEG-4…

The UK was a pioneer with DVB-T, which is a niche player in countries like Germany (satellite dominates) or the Netherlands (cable): so much so that some of the private companies want to drop it completely. The switch from analogue to digital in Germany was also forced through much faster than in the UK but with fewer channels and none in HD.

However, I don't see what any of this has to do with the licence fee. In Germany it's a pro-household and includes PCs. No exceptions like the UK has. The fee is comparable, and just like the UK, about 50% of it goes towards sport. Want cheaper, universally accessible TV? Require more sports to be free to watch.

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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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