* Posts by Charlie Clark

4584 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

London's 'automatic' Tube trains suffered 750 computer failures last year

Charlie Clark
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I wonder if it's because it never comes up in Mornington Crescent so no one knows where it is?

Mine's the one with the Humphrey Lyttelton biography in the pocket, thanks.

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Breaking 350 million: What's next for Windows 10?

Charlie Clark
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Re: It's not all bad

For a year all new machines have come with Windows 10 and I think most people would agree with you, though a sizeable minority may well have opted to "downgrade" to Windows 7. But, the market for PCs is in a possibly fatal decline.

The problems are with the more or less force-feeding of Windows 10 onto people who didn't really want it. This combined the "who moved my cheese" problem of GUI changes with compatibility problems in a way that was entirely avoidable and has definitely tarnished the brand. Lots of work for Microsoft to do to rebuild that brand and get the other 700 or 800 million machines onto the new OS.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Another lazy hardware bod looking for someone else to do his job

In sum, it's badly written, badly argued, and badly researched.

Can't really argue with that. From the article:

Shot memory and dated processors in your gear meant you were unlikely to get Win 10 running on that old PC.

Sounds good but I wonder what "shot memory" is supposed to be? The baseline for Windows 10 is supposed to be any PC that was supplied with Windows 7. There might be a higher minimum on the memory but the processor shouldn't really matter much because Windows 10 is supposed to contain lots of improvements over Windows 7, which itself digested a lot of the Vista bloat (XML for a GUI, WTF!)

I wonder how many of those 350 million include the many VMs that downloaded, because download by default, Windows 10 but never installed or even could install it? For a year all new consumer PCs came with Windows 10, some of which allowed you to "downgrade" to Windows 7 and they still only got 350 million downloads for a "free" OS upgrade.

The thing is that Windows 7 is a pretty good OS, as long as you don't want the command line (Powershell fans excepted). If only MS had used that as the baselines for a subscription based OS, as they have with Office. Yes, there'd be howls of protest from a few, but I'm sure most would have happily played along. Apple had already done the groundbreaking with free, annual OS releases which selectively disable older hardware.

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Charlie Clark
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Manufacturers will go wherever there is a chance of a profit. That won't be Linux/BSD and probably not Chrome, unless blessed by a Google release.

RemixOS – which will let people run their phone apps – could be worth a bet.

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BBC detector vans are back to spy on your home Wi-Fi – if you can believe it

Charlie Clark
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Packet inspection of somebody else's wifi?

Sounds like the Telegraph spreading FUD again. It's not as if it has a long standing agenda.

Listening to someone else's wifi is not going to get you very far. What is probably a lot easier is to check for wifi at the address of a known non-payer and see if you can correlate the ip address (via request to ISP) with one currently streaming IPlayer.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: BBC Viewers

The licence fee is not a tax.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Hounded

Riddle me this though, in an age of digital media, where's the pay wall? Both boardcast television and online can sit behind paywalls

You might want to read the BBC's charter and look up the legal definitions of things like "conditional access".

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ARM's top brass land £54m Softbank windfall

Charlie Clark
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Re: Wow.

Almost certainly: the deal is debt-funded and Softbank is already heavily leveraged. There will be some restrictions on when people will fully be able to cash in but when they do, you can expect those who can afford it to leave "to take on new challenges".

At the minimum there will be financial restructuring to increase the cashflow. But, depending on how things go, the pressure to do things like selling and leasing back the patents might become irresistible. As for more money for new projects: don't hold your breath.

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Sealed with an XSS: Popular vulnerabilities probed

Charlie Clark
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SQL Injection - escaping is never enough

Passing parameters is far more important than trying to escape them: if your setup doesn't let you do this, change it.

Wrap all queries in views and only accept http-post queries with CSRF tokens.

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Samsung Note 7: Probably the best phone in the world. Yeah – you heard right

Charlie Clark
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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

I dont really see any real world usefulness …

In learning how to spell and punctuate?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

given the common use of these devices as video players…

Almost never used my phone for watching videos as the ergonomics are dead against it: to get the most out of it you have to hold the phone close enough to strain your eyes.

That said: stereo front speakers are great if you've got them. But looking at HTC's sales, it doesn't look like they're the biggest argument for most people.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Still doesn't have front facing speakers..

Obviously the most important criterium for any phone…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Got a Note 3 at launch...

so either their battery tech isn't advancing as quickly as might be hoped

It isn't advancing at all. Which is why Tesla is spending so much money on a factory for Li-Ion batteries in the expectation that nothing significantly better is going to come along any time soon.

I think Samsung also understands that more and more people are extending their replacement cycles. This favours its approach of continual improvement and integration over Apple's more tick-tock ones, which is why it's moving towards flagship releases every six months or so (first Galaxy then the Note). This is typical for consumer electronics where people can be expected to replace model X with model Y at some point, even if it isn't every two years.

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HPE CEO Meg Whitman endorses Hillary Clinton, dumps on Trump

Charlie Clark
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Re: Better the criminal you know?!

And now at a point where Hillary should by all rights, if not be sat in a jail cell

For which particular crime?

Meanwhile the lawsuits against Trump over his "university" continue to mount up and could lead to a fraud investigation. By the way, where are those tax receipts?

Neither Sanders nor Trump were ever really outsiders, they just played that card.

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Charlie Clark
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the US technology community usually comes out mostly pro-Democrat

This isn't true: John Chambers is a notable Republican. There are some headline Democrats in Silicon Valley but, like the banks, they donate heavily to both parties so that they can best influence legislation. And, historically at least, HP largely kept out of politics. Fiorina was a disastrous aberration, but also an outsider.

But nearly all CEOs are free-traders which is why it's not so surprising to see them being sceptical about Trump. What is perhaps noteworthy is the vehemence with which they've come out, more or less coordinated against Trump. Warren Buffet was particularly scathing and when it comes to willy-waving about how to make money, he has Trump (inherited most of his money, hasn't made much himself) hands down.

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Charlie Clark
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Stop

As can Trump. As is every member of Congress. Your point is?

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Loss-making data-viz biz to investors: You know what our problem is? We did too well

Charlie Clark
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Re: Am I being thick?

Not necessarily, and not in start-up land. Many companies run loss-leading sales campaigns where the costs of initial acquisition are higher than annual revenue. The business model hopes that in time both scale and renewals will more than offset the initial costs.

Tableau has certainly managed to position itself as the premier visualisation toy. Only time will tell if the product provides real benefits to customers.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update: This design needs a dictator

Charlie Clark
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Hopefully by this time next year, the challenge of integrating tablet and desktop UIs in a way that doesn’t suck will finally have been addressed.

I don't think we'll be holding our breath for that.

Good review but one has to ask the question: why not do all the under-the-hood works with the Windows 7 (& Metro for the couple of touch users) GUI. Pissing around with the OS and the GUI never works well.

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Windows 10: Happy with Anniversary Update?

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Headline news

Other new Edge features include a tree view for Favorites, a warning if you try to exit the browser when a download is in progress…

What year is it? Folders for bookmarks? Even when Opera stupidly removed bookmarks when moving to Blink they reintroduced them, with folders, faster than MS added them to Edge.

Whatever next? The ability to print pages no doubt.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: You can put lipstick on a pig

Windows path handling (due to the DOS/VMS/POS/ETC heritage) is so shit it's worth a book.

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Windows 10 grabs 22 per cent desktop market share in a year

Charlie Clark
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Missing link

The data from US government websites. the high percentage of IOS indicates how skewed the set is:

https://analytics.usa.gov

Akamai also provides worldwide numbers: https://www.akamai.com/de/de/solutions/intelligent-platform/visualizing-akamai/internet-observatory/internet-observatory-explore-data.jsp

El Reg routinely ignores this resource. It has MS Edge, which is a reasonable proxy for Windows 10, at around 6 %

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Windows 10 still free, even the Anniversary Update, if you're crass

Charlie Clark
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Re: desktop OS's will be the minority by 2020 (?)

Interesting concept. How's my theoretical phone of the near future going to handle being asked to run something like Fallout4 ?

It probably won't be able to. But what about Fallout VR running either from a console or over a network and streaming to a fairly dumb viewer? This is at least the theory behind one of nVidia's products. By 2020 flash memory will be have all but replaced the magnetic stuff and Samsung's already pimping next-gen (hi-density, fast I/O) parts. Hi-end phones in 2020 might easily come with 256 GB storage or more and 16 GB RAM.

As noted above I said that the PC will no longer be the dominant hardware platform in 2020, but PCs will still exist. However, I don't think it will be long before we see game development budgets moving towards the mobile devices: Pokemon gives an idea of the potential size of the market (yes, I know it doesn't need anything like the processing power of Fallout). Here, it's led to a bridge being closed to traffic so that people can hunt.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: desktop OS's will be the minority by 2020 (?)

However I doubt my phone will ever have 4 usb ports, or parts I can swap out in 3 mins at £20 a pop.

Firstly, I said dominant. Notebooks overtook desktop PCs (the ones with replaceable parts) a few years ago. Nowadays you can only really swap the drive and RAM. But in a couple of years it may be really hard to find anything with replaceable parts.

Most phones will happily run a USB hub via an OTG cable

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Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

Re: desktop OS's will be the minority by 2020 (?)

More recent phone sales statistics tend to suggest that smartphones. like slabs, have had their "bubble".

The stats only show that growth has peaked: 3.5 million per day seems to be the limit. Meanwhile PC sales are in terminal decline and are lucky to get 20 million a month, with lower margins.

High-end smartphones are now as powerful as desktops from a couple years ago and catching up fast (Intel has better process but ARMs need less silicon): adding keyboards and extra screens is easy. Convergence is going to happen, just not necessarily the way Microsoft would like.

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Charlie Clark
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Windows XP was EOL'd in accordance with the policy that MS announced.

Windows 7 will be fully supported until 2020. The "free upgrade" offer is MS' desperate attempt to bring this forward because of all the resources it has to devote to securing the browser built into the operating system. But they're basically pissing in the wind: desktop OS's will be the minority by 2020.

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Tablet sales remain bitter, but Nougat tipped to sweeten the market

Charlie Clark
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Re: Business oriented Android tablets

What about Office for Android and IOS? Might not be acceptable to the quants but may well satisfy others.

Android already multitasks, what Android N brings is multiple windows. While Samsung has something like this already, it will probably improve once it's in the core OS. However, I expect tablets to remain primarily devices of media consumption.

Apple's tie up with IBM, and others, has yet to yield any real gains as evinced by falling sales of all but the top end I-Pads. But it still has sufficient market share to allow for niche products. Elsewhere Android is becoming the first platform to be developed for (corporates with IOS investments are also planning Android rollouts).

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Uber rips off Chinese arm, swaps it for share in successful rival – reports

Charlie Clark
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Re: At least they were honest about it..

You only moan about human rights when you can't get a monopoly. After all that's what "disruption" is all about, isn't it?

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Milk IN the teapot: Innovation or abomination?

Charlie Clark
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Tea with milk in it is a abomination anyway, a complete act of sacrilege.

The black tea drunk in Britain is not particularly aromatic and requires something to temper the tannin. Try drinking a mug of neat strong black tea – it's almost bound to make you sick because tannin is powerful stuff, which you'd know if you ever saw leather being made.

I'm not sure of the chemistry (what oxidises what) but the citric acid in lemon juice can help here. Early Grey isn't anything like as strong as the normal stuff.

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Windows 10 pain: Reg man has 75 per cent upgrade failure rate

Charlie Clark
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The power of suggestion

Windows 7 is a fine operating system and will be supported until 2020. Windows 10 has very few new APIs and none that are currently compelling: an upgrade is quite simply not required and may in some cases be counterproductive.

But Microsoft dangled the carrot of a "free" upgrade to Windows 10 in front of everyone and although you probably thought you wouldn't do it, the idea of taking advantage of "free" lured into this experiment. The science behind this is well understood and used to drive up prices for many time sensitive events.

Well done to the marketing department of Microsoft. Mind you, I expect that there will be plenty more "limited offers".

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Avoiding Liverpool was the aim: All aboard the world's ONLY moving aqueduct

Charlie Clark
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Re: How has it come to thus?

Concentration of power in London, and in particular Westminster, certainly didn't help.

In its heyday Manchester was making more money than London but the City of London soon took steps to put an end to that. Once the power passed to the bankers then industrial decline was more or less inevitable. Politics went from trying to pick winners – the disastrous nationalisations of Labour in the 1960s – to Maggie's closing down sales of steel, coal, cars, etc. (because she worked out she didn't need the votes).

Employers have also done their part by favouring deregulation and cheap labour over skilled labour. Cottonopolis even got its own form of capitalism: Manchester capitalism where pretty much anything except workers rights was possible. While the rest of Europe was skilling up, the UK was dumbing down, aiming to compete with China over wages on a level playing field. That could soon be mission accomplished.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Disappointed...

soon to be three, massive span bridges that Merseyside can boast

Where's the latest one been nicked from then? ;-)

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Charlie Clark
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It's good question: the railways made it almost obsolete by the time it was built. But it did significantly improve the negotiating position of importers re. the Port of Liverpool. History is full of similar instances where a direct cost / benefit analysis would indicate fail but benefits to the overall economy were definitely positive.

It also helped stabilise the water table in Manchester: floods in the basin in the city centre in what was called "Little Ireland" were not uncommon before the ship canal.

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Charlie Clark
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Please accept our apologies: we hope you weren't too disappointed!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Rate this article: 5/5

Presumably some scousers had tried to nick the wheels…

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Ditch your Macs, Dell tells EMC staff

Charlie Clark
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Re: The screen is another story...

I didn't know you could run Keynote on Linux… the requirement seems largely to affect sales and marketing people. Last time I checked these weren't likely to want to use Linux on a PC.

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Google, er, Alphabet takes on 10,000 more staff, banks more and more billions from ads

Charlie Clark
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The opinion was shared by Buzz Lapdance of Transcendental Research who also noted that "Google's continued focus on products and services was against market trends of fostering unicorns and fairy dust".

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Google tells Android's Linux kernel to toughen up and fight off those horrible hacker bullies

Charlie Clark
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Re: Patching speed is probably the issue

The risks of Android are routinely overblown – not to say that they don't exist – but the attack vectors are usually outside normal use patterns. This doesn't, however, excuse manufacturers from improving their woeful update practices.

What you suggest simply isn't possible at the moment because the kernel on each phone is owned by the manufacturer and any kind of OTA is going to rely on their keys, or you open the door to drive-by hacks of the kernel.

The only way things will change is if cases, such as the one currently winding its way through the Dutch courts, decide that manufacturers are at fault and impose sanctions / requirements. I'm not holding my breath on that one as the software industry has a dreadful record of providing security updates.

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Here WeGo! Google Maps rival drops Maps branding

Charlie Clark
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Horses for courses: I have both Osmand and Here. If you're driving then good turn-by-turn navigation with optional traffic information is a godsend. I know OSM does navigation, but I don't think it compares well to the big boys.

On the other hand, if you're in the middle of nowhere on your bike and want to get to the next road, then something that knows all the footpaths is just what the doctor ordered. You can also load up GPX.

Both apps let you store the relevant maps on an SD card so the world is pretty much your lobster.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Too much whalesong

Personally I think the new name is fine. They obviously want to get away from "maps" which, at least on Android, is most associated with Google.

"Here Maps" was never a brilliant name and doesn't really suggest navigation – one thing Andrew didn't mention is that Here also does offline turn-by-turn navigation as good as TomTom in my limited experience – talking to non-native English speakers about "the navigation app called Here" is a bit like Abbott & Costello meeting "the artist formerly known as symbol": blank stares and exasperation.

"Here We Go" isn't brilliant but it is catchy (and less cringy than something like "WhatsApp") so well done whoever came up with it. In a couple of months we won't care. Maybe they'll even rebrand it again to just "We go!" or "Let's go!". As long as they have sufficient promotional advertising it'll work fine.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Had a look, but...

Doesn't bother me: I'm on Cyanogenmod so it only gets the permissions I give it.

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Why Agile is like flossing and regular sex

Charlie Clark
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Re: Charlie Clark Just one side

If you employ someone with a clue you will get both good requirements plus a contractual financial penalty for the galloping goalposts that agile encourages.

Yes, because all of those massive waterfall projects always get the requirements right and never produce overruns.

Once of the biggest fiddles in software development is to draft a seemingly complete specification based on what the customer thinks they want and then force the customer to sign-off on increasingly expensive change requests as it turns out that the specification wasn't actually what they need.

Any contract that doesn't include some degree of iteration is just as doomed to fail as one that is based on unlimited iteration.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Just one side

but if you dont know what you want you end up with a brittle unclean solution.

I think this applies whatever methodology you follow and is true of most projects.

You won't know all the requirements at the start so a regular release, test, feedback approach is inevitable. Good project managers will be the ones who can spot bottlenecks, blind alleys and fucking stupid ideas early on. And, of course, how to compromise when key aims (features, timeline) are in conflict.

Communication is important but mustn't get in the way and needs to be between the relevant people. Meetings should be constrained by the size of the teapot: 4 or 5 mugs at most; brown jenny on special occasions.

This could all be called common sense programming™ but without a fancy name, gurus and expensive certification courses it'll never take off.

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Plenty of fish in the C, IEEE finds in language popularity contest

Charlie Clark
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Re: HTML?

HTML definitely isn't a programming language: it's an SGML dialect.

SQL, as you rightly point out, is a Turing-complete programming language even if I think the chosen semantics are extremely unsuited to the domain.

Getting these two wrong tells us a lot about this language beauty contest.

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Twitter: $602m into -$107m

Charlie Clark
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Re: Remind me again

Ah yes. But that's usually a sure fire money maker. What are they doing wrong I wonder?

They forgot to charge.

I hope Twitter ends up as the poster child for the limits of the network effect. Even with ten times the users I think it would struggle with its current business model which is why it's thrashing around to come up with new ones: like live sports that aren't exclusive.

As much as I hate Facebook, I think it's obvious that Zuckerberg and his team realise that there isn't a huge amount of money in just looking over people's shoulders while they rant.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The best thing about Twitter...

Server costs really shouldn't be that high but office rental is crazy in SF.

But I think one of the main costs is related to equity given to staff.

I think I'm right in that this quarter doesn't include any of their expensive streaming deals which could make current losses look like chicken feed. Or they could work out and Twitter could break even.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Remind me again

They stroke and massage people's vanity.

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Did the Russians really hack the DNC or is this another Sony Pictures moment? You decide

Charlie Clark
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Re: It's funny

Featured prominently in the Panama leaks. See https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/apr/03/panama-papers-money-hidden-offshore

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Charlie Clark
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Re: It's funny

Hell, I'd vote for Putin over Hillary. At least he's an honest bastard.

I'm not sure you'd say that if you'd spent any time in Putin's Russia. Corruption is endemic in Russian politics and Putin isn't immune: he's squirrelled billions away himself.

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Osram's Lightify smart bulbs blow a security fuse – isn't anything code audited anymore?

Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

isn't anything code audited anymore?

Surely that's just a rhetorical question. Was code ever audited?

Time to market is everything in this business. The gets developed by people on work experience using whatever examples they can find and gets shipped as soon as the prototype works.

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What's losing steam at Apple? Pretty much everything

Charlie Clark
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That's still a lot of money

Yes, Apple confirms what we all knew: it's not immune to the laws of gravity.

People still love their I-Phones but their just not desperate to buy new ones. Given the state of the PC market in general and the fact that Apple have yet to update their notebook line I'd say their sales are holding up incredibly well. Shit, I'm sounding like a fanboi! The bottom line is that the bottom line is still very health. It's just that the growth has stopped. Where are the new products?

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