* Posts by Charlie Clark

4283 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Ireland's tech sector fears fallout of Brexit 'Yes' vote

Charlie Clark
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Re: @ disgustedoftunbridgewells

There is a lot of desperation to keep us in the EU.

It's more like exasperation: "what the fuck are they on about?"

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Charlie Clark
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That assessment misses the pressure applied by the UK banks and government on Ireland to nationalise its failing banks rather than letting them fail, which would have made the bailouts for UK banks even bigger.

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Charlie Clark
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Nonsense.

While the UK leaving would be politically disruptive and this, in turn, could severely impair trade for lots of countries, the facts are that the UK is far more dependent upon the EU for trade than the other way round. Not that trade would cease but access to the single market would be more important to the UK than access to the UK for the EU. And, guess what? The rules for trading with the single market will be the same in two years as they are now, except that the UK won't be involved in setting those rules. There's also no room for bilateral trade deals.

As for the currency: well, much to my own personal annoyance, the ECB is doing its level best to keep the Euro down.

Both campaigns in this sordid and rather pointless referendum are very poor. I think Mervyn King put this point very well in his interview with Richard Quest on CNN: where are the arguments.

As a UK citizen living and working in Germany I'm proud to be both English and European and I will be voting for the UK to stay in the EU.

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Amazon's AWS cash machine embiggens, breezes past $2bn-a-quarter mark

Charlie Clark
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Simple lesson

Drop the tat bazaar and go digital.

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Windows 10 handcuffs Cortana web search to Bing and Edge browser

Charlie Clark
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Re: Cue the EU competition watchdog...

Yes, shouldn't take much to get the European Commission to investigate.

Microsoft: do the smart thing and make Cortana something that people want to use because it gives them the best results; this is what Google where it is. This will involve taking Edge outside and being humane.

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Getty on Google: It’s all about traffic, duh

Charlie Clark
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Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

Do you use Google Analytics or any other service on your site?

No. Next question.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: 60 million images I won't be buying or looking at

What's wrong with paying for images? I'm not saying you should do it all the time but the web isn't about everything being FREE.

As to Getty's proposed solution: It’s an embedded widget that tracks use, and ensures the photographer is credited.

Sorry, that won't work. I will happily embed metadata in an image or provide attribution via caption or whatever but I won't let you spy on my visitors.

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Batten down the hatches! OpenSSL preps fix for high impact vuln

Charlie Clark
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Those vulnerabilities have a silver lining, that now OpenSSL is able to do changes that would have pissed a lot of people in the past.

You can't have your cake and eat it – compatibility for insecure protocols and security which is what you seem to be arguing for.

An aggressive versions policy is okay if it's properly communicated and for the right reasons.

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Charlie Clark
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I guess we won't know until there is a release. Just checked the LibreSSL site. Interesting in the release notes from January about which OpenSSL CVEs did not affect LibreSSL and OpenBSD Journal saying that DROWN didn't apply because SSL v2 support had been dropped. Unfortunately, the public mailing list doesn't seem to be mirrored anywhere.

One defence seems to be a fairly aggressive dropping of older versions.

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Samsung chuckles, swerves around Apple's Q1 phone sales crash

Charlie Clark
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Re: Reg article leaves out vital information

Well, yes this really isn't like-for-like: Samsung releases a new phone and see sales rise. Nevertheless, given that the market seems to have topped out, any growth is impressive.

The real story behind Apple's numbers is that it is reaching the plateau that everyone else reached two years ago: expanding into China was very good business for Apple. And even with declining sales it's still trousering most of the industry's profits.

But you do have to wonder whether they have any new tricks up their sleeve. The IPhone SE is pretty underwhelming and Apple is nothing like as well prepared to deal with the multi-tier consumer market as others are. Both the IPad Pro and the watch have failed to take off and where are the new Macs?

There's already a lot of hype about an IPhone 7 in the autumn but that could end up being like Samsung's 5 – an impressive phone in itself (I like mine a lot) – but not really good enough for lots of new sales. It's a big ask.

In the meantime Samsung and Huawei and others are ramping up the development cycle in response to the ever improving competition from the low end.

Is Apple also ready to crank things up? How about some ARM-based Macbooks? I'd buy one unseen. Or are they going to continue to play it safe?

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Neo4j CEO: We're at 'a huge inflection point for graph databases'

Charlie Clark
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At the end of the day you can trade flexibility for performance. The relational model specifically tries to separate the logical from the physical and this leaves room for specific optimisations.

RDBMS excel at consistency because this is the most valuable (corrupt data is worthless) and expensive. There are use cases where consistency is less relevant and, as in graph databases, you're more interested in the metadata (relationships) than the data itself. As JSONB shows: you can happily use relational tools to manage this.

Frequent schema changes shouldn't really be the problem they are. But this is really a problem of tooling and not of the relational model.

I guess the NoSQL world has highlighted the pain points for some of the use cases at scale. They've been a wake-up call to some fairly complacent RDBMS vendors (Oracle does some amazing stuff but at a price). It's great to see Postgres being the focus for much of the development: FDW, JSONB, Column Stores, parallel queries, etc.

Back to the article: guy seems quite pretty switched on. While we all love our open source tools, the corporate environment sees risks other than the cost of licensing: support, further development, documentation, etc. So, it's nice to see corporates engaging with open source projects that 10 years ago they might have avoided.

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Ex-Apple gurus' elusive Android phone coming to UK next month

Charlie Clark
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Re: Lollipop?

Marshmallow was released 6 months ago. If this small shoppe can't offer the latest OS on their new phone what are the chances that updates are ever coming?

Because it's Cyanogenmod which isn't plain Google. I've had CM on Android 6 since January but I think general release was only fairly recently. OTOH devices which run CM can usually expect many years of updates.

The smart thing here is that Obi is contracting with CM to provide the updates rather than trying to wing it with an undersized and unexperienced team inhouse.

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Another failed merger, Carly? Ted Cruz to bring in ex-HP boss Fiorina as running mate

Charlie Clark
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Re: Carly is a natural for the job!

Caribou Barbie is still available...so yes, I guess we could.

Palin is just crazy. Fiorina is insane, sociopathic and downright scary.

Of course, the VP is a purely ceremonial role. No chance of anything happen to the sprightly young septuagenarian (which is what he'll be if he takes office)…

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Mozilla slings Firefox patches at flaw found by GCHQ's infosec arm

Charlie Clark
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Re: Comma placement

Yes. Better still would be to lead with the new version and say that along with whatever new UI fuckery there a patches for.

As 45 is also the new ESR release but 38 is still in use, let's hope that they also get the patches.

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Germans stick traffic lights in pavements for addicts who can't take their eyes off phones

Charlie Clark
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Re: Hollow Man meets Iron Man

"Get out of the way you fat fuck!"

Only joking, here's a beer token. Can I have my teeth back?

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Charlie Clark
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Smombies

Not heard it yet. Sounds like it was made up for the article.

"bean counter" is a fine translation for Erbsenzähler, even if it places less emphasis on pedantry. Basically someone who likes to split hairs or can't see the wood for the trees. Korinthenkacker is a nice synonym.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I'm conflicted

There's also the drivers to think of: most drivers involved in machine + idiot incidents tend to leave service.

The trams here all have bells on them indicating when they're about to set off, very important in pedestrian areas, and some of the busier crossings also have both acoustic and visual warnings. But if people don't always follow the dictum of "stop, look and listen" then you're going to have accidents.

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Charlie Clark
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Yes, you'd have thought some kind of proximity warning on the phone would make more sense. But have to be careful not to interrupt the important "breathe in, breathe out" instructions…

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Honestly though, Twitter can't do anything right

Charlie Clark
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WhatsApp is a totally different thing, it is just a replacement for SMS.

And Twitter isn't?

FWIW companies like Deutsche Bahn are now actively using WhatsApp to inform customers about delays. While this is initially just a replacement for SMS, it's also an easy way into the "bot-based" customer service that's being hyped at the moment. And here Twitter seems to have missed the, er, Bahn. Again.

What's left for Twitter? The "I'm on the bus" crowd is moving to the messengers. There's Snapchat for selfies and possibly celebrity gossip. Pretty much leaves the closed loop of the media talking about the media: "Sack of rice falls over in Umberland".; "Our thoughts are with those in Umberland"; "#SackOfRice Disgrace in Umberland"; "Rice the most popular topic on social media"… Hard to see much money in that.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Still a loss making utiliy.

I use Twitter: It is a very convenient 'sorter' of the websites I am interested in if they can be bothered to post. It is more up to date than re-visiting them through Favourites or keeping open tabs for them.

RSS is even easier and cuts out the middle man.

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Charlie Clark
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Do you reckon? Even at the current price Google could easily buy it if wanted. The reorganisation last year

seemed to indicate a move away from buying into more Silicon Valley bubbles.

Anyway, how "social" is Twitter in comparison with Snapchat or WhatsApp?

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Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

That's in spite of Twitter's claim, during its earnings call on Periscope, that a dollar spent on Twitter generates $6 in ROI for marketers.

ROFL. If that were anywhere near being true then they'd have to beat advertisers off.

There's no doubt that Twitter has reach – it's the goto platform for the me too outpouring of synthetic emotion and pithy one-liners – it's just lacking a business model. The yoof seems to have moved on to Snapchat and WhatsApp.

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What do you call an old, unpatched and easily hacked PC? An ATM

Charlie Clark
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It will be interesting to see how the ATMs evolve.

Become extinct if the banks have their way: cash is expensive to move around. Electronic cash also pushes more of the risk to the consumer, oh and it makes it easier for central banks to punish savers…

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Charlie Clark
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And this is news because?

Most of the computers we deal with in public places have either USB or serial ports for maintenance purposes. Guess what – get access to those and you pretty much own the machine.

However, the favourite method of cash extraction at the moment seems to be good old safe-cracking: blow the machine up or tow it away: low tech usually has the lowest opportunity cost.

Software hacks targeting the clearing system – recently in Bangladesh and elsewhere – are far more lucrative and alarming.

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Game of P0wns: Malvertising menace strikes Pirate Bay season six downloads

Charlie Clark
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Is it just me or is this article largely incomprehensible? Yes, I understand that malfeasants are placing nasty scripts on torrent sites that, if successful, can encrypt machines and demand ransoms. Was there anything else in all the rambling?

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Thunderbird is GO: Mozilla prepares to jettison mail client

Charlie Clark
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Re: Best Thing For Thunderbird

At least now Thunderbird has the chance to fly. Look at what happened to OpenOffice when it was split and LibreOffice was born.

What an explosion of new features and bugs?

I understand why LibreOffice was started but, to be honest, I am not impressed by the work so far. On OS X I find OpenOffice far more reliable.

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The web is DOOM'd: Average page now as big as id's DOS classic

Charlie Clark
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Re: Lazy Devs

My own company site (which is getting an overhaul anyway and will be optimised to the eyeballs) renders in around 640ms yet weights in at 670kbs.

Under what conditions does it load and render in 640ms?

The golden rule is to have all relevant content in HTML. But this doesn't mean that you can't add stuff once something has loaded that people can read / look at. That said, "one page" sites are almost always a nightmare to maintain.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: pre-scaling web images to avoid bandwidth bloat

how about Image Magick's 'convert' on the server side?

Bit of a sledgehammer for a walnut really and too slow for constant use – don't forget you're going to have manage names.

But everything is available as mod_pagespeed (exists fro Apache, Nginx, IIS), which can handle caching and has some heuristics for content-negotiation / bandwidth, because you may well want at least four different versions of the same image for mobile, desktop, hi-res, JPEG, WEBP, etc.

In my view, the complexity associated with getting this right takes it outside the web "coders" responsibility and into infrastructure. Nearly all the attempts of web developers to solve these problems have led to, at best, half-baked solutions.

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Charlie Clark
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That leaves about 300K for text and ... not sure. Even with markup, 300K of text is a lot. Are people pulling in 290K of CSS for every page?

You're right: 300 kB would be a lot. But the average (for all HTML including stuff from iFrames) is only 66 kB for markup and content (and this is usually compressed). CSS isn't much more at around 76 kB. But more and more sites are using custom fonts (up to 50%). These are pretty evil because they are large and delay rendering. But getting more popular by the month.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: from three 'double u's to one single 'm'

We still have one locally.

FTFY: the govt has advisers who thing that Amazon is good replacement for local libraries…

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Come get your free Opera VPN (and bring along something to read)

Charlie Clark
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Re: Just a reworking of Opera Turbo?

No, Opera bought a complete multi-home VPN service and added it to the browser a while back. You can use it any time but free traffic is limited.

In the new version from the developer channel it looks like the PoPs which you can use are limited: I can only see Germany, Canada and the US. Guess it's back to using Hola…

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Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods

Charlie Clark
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Re: Bull

But do they?

No, because the consent must be both explicit and informed. So, websites cannot assume that consent has been given but must explicitly inform users and obtain their explicit agreement. NB. there explicit exemptions for things like session cookies. The law isn't some Luddite attempt to break the web but it does make spying on users a little more difficult.

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Stalled cloud growth, software flatlining, hated Lumias unsold... It's all fine, says Microsoft CEO

Charlie Clark
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Re: Bankruptcy?

Windows & Office are easily offsetting those and they're still profitable.

Not really, especially Office sales Y-o-Y are disappointing considering a major new release last year. Only time will tell if the shift to Subscription Office will work as well.

And, for all the noise about Windows 10, it should also have driven sales of some new gear: I suspect numbers for both MS and PC makes would have been even worse without it.

Microsoft still has enough cash to cease trading and continue as Sonomish Hathaway. I suppose we can expect to see the phone division wound up or sold for a dollar to Foxconn. But where is the new growth coming from? Azure's headline numbers are impressive but starting from a very low base.

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Larry Ellison's Brit consortium in 'advanced talks' to buy Aston Villa

Charlie Clark
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Re: Pity the Villa fans

Do you think they will have to pay for every seat in the stadium, as it is possbile for them to sit in any one of them?

Sitting costs extra…

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Charlie Clark
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I'm a United fan, and the lowest point in my football watching life was probably getting knocked out of the champions league by Rosenberg, or somebody.

Relegation in 1974 was pretty hard to swallow but, more recently, surely having to take down the "35 years" banners was the worst thing to happen?

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Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

ah, the Toon Army's delusions of grandeur…

Even when the Bitters were in the old Third Division they were getting MASSIVE crowds of up 30,000 a game for which they still hold the record. Compare and contrast this Newcastle's attendances when not in the top flight: often less than 20,000.

They might talk a good talk up on the Tyne but they don't do the walk.

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HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for?

Charlie Clark
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Re: UI design

Have another upvote.

Also, I'd like to add that of the current three UI sets for mobile: Google's Material, Apple's Flat and Windows Metro, Material is by far the most completely thought through. It was itself obviously inspired by the things in Metro that Microsoft got right (it really isn't bad on small devices), and itself inspired the volte-face that Apple did from skeuomorphic to flat, which looks like what it is: a copy of Material Design.

It is an excellent pragmatic and utilitarian UI framework and the developer guidelines are excellent, too.

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Chrome lives in dog years: It's seven years old but just turned 50

Charlie Clark
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Re: Those damn poorly coded sites

Depends on the HTML. Historically websites served up lots of incorrect HTML and browsers developed all kinds of workarounds so that you would at least see something rather than rejecting everything that couldn't be validated. The workarounds add complexity and thus vulnerability. Add to this Javascript which could have a routine that uses up all the memory. But the plugin architecture is probably the biggest vulnerability for browsers and where Google has done the most work: isolated processes and a better plugin API where they're still needed, while working on "native" HTML5 features to render plugins largely irrelevant.

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Intel literally decimates workforce: 12,000 will be axed, CFO shifts to sales

Charlie Clark
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Re: Makes one wonder...

Sure it is ... with 98% of the server market and about 100% of the fastest growing "consumption device" sector there is : "premium ultramobile" AKA "convertibles". All done with a 62% gross margin.

From a tiny base and growth is not big enough to compensate for the decline in the PC business.

While phone and tablet markets are stagnant.

But much, much bigger and with a faster replacement rate. Intel has repeatedly tried and failed to get into this business which is why it's now hidden in another category.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Another FPU bug, this time in executives brains?

I understand a company may want to act fast - but isn't Intel just panicking?

Not really, probably reacting to sliding orders from PC manufacturers. The costs of maintaining Moore's law need to be offset by future sales: costs for better process are rising and future sales of the high-margin chips look to be stable at best.

Intel has had a near-monopoly in the PC business for years which has meant for very high margins. Unfortunately, the PC business is now in decline so retrenchment (less R&D and slower development cycle) is required to avoid having lots of chips and the related, and very expensive, manufacturing capacity that no one wants any more.

Data centres are still doing very well but growth seems to be topping out. The IoT market gets lots of hype but is at best nascent. If it ever does take off, margins will be much smaller and the competition fiercer.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Newer chips?

I'm on an even older machine.

That said: I can think of some workloads (compiling / CI) where a beefier processor would make a noticeable difference. And you can never have enough RAM. But such workloads are rare enough not common enough to warrant a new machine, even though I can offset the costs as a business expense. Indeed priority for my next machine is better mobility: I'm getting sick of lugging around over 2 kg a machine when travelling.

I suspect many people are in a similar situation which makes it harder for vendors.

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Are bearded blokes more sexist?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Back-to-front logic

If I let my beard grow, do I am become more sexist?

It might improve your coherence.

hah! fat chance of that. "death to sense!" as Herbert Prefabs would say.

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Charlie Clark
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The majority faith in India is Hinduism not Islam…

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Charlie Clark
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Back-to-front logic

Consequently, men in different cultures and traditions cease shaving

This supposes that shaving is the natural order. It isn't: growing a beard is natural; shaving is an act of denial of this. Shaving arose originally, as far as I know, as a symbol of status.

If I let my beard grow, do I am become more sexist?

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All-Python malware nasty bites Windows victims in Poland

Charlie Clark
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Re: Fail

It's easy to add some obfuscation to the final package that will make detection a lot harder. This is standard for much malware.

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Obama to admit Moon landing was faked?

Charlie Clark
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Thumb Up

Indeed, bookmaking is an excellent example of applied statistics: the bookies nearly always win. The odds reflect the potential cost to the bookie. So the odds, at the start of the season, of Leicester winning the league were longer than some of the bets purely because nobody had placed a bet. Long odds are also designed to attract speculative bets which can in turn bring in more business.

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Apple assumes you'll toss the Watch after three years

Charlie Clark
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Re: Four years?!?!

I've got a 2010 MacBook Pro… but that doesn't make me average. Businesses will probably have a higher turnover due to accounting rules and I suspect they'll make up the majority of purchases: including stuff being bought by employees. As Apple kit usually has higher resale values a lot of kit goes on to find new owners.

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Intel takes aim at Arduino with US$15 breadboard

Charlie Clark
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Re: Still does not compete on price

Well, an RPi 0 isn't a microcontroller and will probably use more power than the Quark.

That said there are oodles of ARM M series chips you can use which will do more, for less.

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Charlie Clark
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Microbit?

Free and can run off a watch battery.

As Intel knows only too well: it won't really be the chip or the board that decides this but the surrounding eco-system of devices. Like the Rapsberry Pi, the Arduino profits from being the first to the market in significant volumes.

As for cost: Intel cannot afford to undercut the cheapest Chinese ARM chips, which keep getting better and better.

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Apple is rolling WebRTC video-chat into Safari iOS, OS X browsers

Charlie Clark
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When the walled garden isn't working

Apple's strategy with webkit has been very clear: make it good enough to work as the frontend for the app store. Once you have enough users inside the garden you can sod interoperability.

Now that messenger apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are drawing users, interoperability with them for things like Facetime suddenly become interesting if Apple's want to keep users from switching to a different platform. WebRTC guarantees interoperability and, as Google's Hangout app (I've heard different things about the browser version) demonstrates, it also works to scale.

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