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* Posts by Charlie Clark

2575 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

BT Tower to be replaced by 3D printed BT Tower

Charlie Clark
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Nevertheless, Prime Minister Cameron hailed the 3D printed BT Tower as a symbol of "the second industrial revolution, in which the UK is proudly leading the way".

That probably isn't even made up! Except it's missing the bit about the printers being used weren't developed in Britain!

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Newsnight goes sour on Tech City miracle

Charlie Clark
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Re: Silicon Valley just IS...

Hollywood is a good comparison: the initial reason to move from New York to there was the cheap land (and lax labour and heath and safety regulations). Of course, the area soon proved to offer other advantages.

In a sense it's an even more globalised industry than electronics but at least the money is still very much focussed in Hollywood, despite the billions in subsidies (Louisiana currently leads the list, I believe) available around the world - and just like the many wannabe Silicon Valleys, very little of the money stays in the area providing the subsidies.

Bollywood and the Lagos film industry are perhaps testimony both to the success of model (critical mass of talent and money) and to the need for differentiation in order to be able to compete.

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Charlie Clark
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The emperor's new offices?

So, it looks like the world has discovered that Tech City doesn't work. I most recently read about this in a Guardian piece which pointed out some of the flaws in the model, especially the role of ever-increasing rents play in destroying the informal "economies" (for want of a better term) that post-industrial creative destruction seems to require.

Silicon Valley is waved as the poster-child for start-up creation when it is, in fact, a difficult to repeat combination of lots and lots of venture capital and a flexible and highly educated labour pool.

Urban regeneration (in East London) seems to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Viz. this rather prescient, pre-Nathan Barley article about Hoxton from 2000.

PS. quibble: is the lady called Burbridge or Burbank

PPS. posting something on Twitter and thinking it won't get made public? tsk ;-)

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Facebook Oculus VR buyout: IT WANTS your EYEBALLS

Charlie Clark
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Integration

This commentary complete ignores the idea of integrating Oculus with the rest of the stuff. The other purchases extend Facebook's offering. If I was an investor in Facebook I'd want a more convincing justification for the purchase than that offered so far. The deal might work or it might just be another AQuantive.

In any case, I wonder when Facebook is going to get around to writing down (let's be charitable) these investments.

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ECCENTRIC, PINK DWARF dubbed 'Biden' by saucy astronomers

Charlie Clark
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WTF?

Re: Fahrenheit .... in space?

I thought it was some oblique reference to a hitherto unknown sequel to Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451".

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Microsoft frisks yet another Android gear maker for patent dosh

Charlie Clark
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Re: Microsoft's influence within a private Dell?

The settlements are mainly PR - any money changing hands is likely to be related to discounts for Windows licences - so that Microsoft can distract attention from its dismal performance in mobile space.

It would be nice to see one of these agreements challenged in the courts. Google might have done it had it held onto Motorola. Lenovo is still in bed with Microsoft, though I wouldn't expect any of the Chinese makers to bother much. No, it'll have to be a larger company that has little other business dealings with Microsoft. Might take a while for anyone to take that risk.

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Amazon HALVES cloud storage prices after Google's shock slash

Charlie Clark
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Shaky analysis

Reader and Wave were never part of Google's core business so closing them didn't affect it. In terms of money spent the work on Android dwarves all the side projects.

Amazon's marketplace business has margins so low it's been desperately looking for alternative uses of its expensive hardware - thus AWS. As for commitment the customer I've never seen any evidence for that.

Nevertheless, we'll now start to see whether there really is a functioning market for computer services. It's been touted for years but yet to really develop. The competition so far has been inhouse or dedicated hosting. If it becomes possible for companies to move their services quickly and easily between providers and there are provisions for failures (not just technical) then the market may well have arrived.

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Facebook swallows Oculus VR goggle-geeks. Did that really happen?

Charlie Clark
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Stop

Re: @bazza

@DougS

Google has made a few boners…

I'm slightly worried where you're going with that!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: MONEY

Interestingly it was a stock deal - most of the cash was spunked on WhatsApp. Still, it's OPM - other people's money, quite possibly yours and mine via the usual vehicles such as pension funds.

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BOYCOTT FIREFOX, rage gay devs as Mozilla appoints JavaScript daddy as CEO

Charlie Clark
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Re: I'm boycotting FF too

This doesn't happen very often…

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Turkey's farcical Twitter ban leads to SPIKE in tweets

Charlie Clark
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Unhappy

If only they'd done it properly…

I might consider moving there just to get away from the "join the conversation" shit that seems to infect modern life.

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Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield

Charlie Clark
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Re: Enter the metric pole?

I remember being in a French market and people were asking for a livre of whatevers, and they've been metric for a couple of centuries.

It's common in Germany and the Netherlands to ask for fruit and veg in multiples of Pfund/Pond rather than fractions of a kilo. Everyone knows it's 500g so there's no problem. But somehow I just can't see it working in Tunbridge Wells…

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Move over Microsoft: RealNetworks has a GOOGLE problem

Charlie Clark
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To be fair: back at the end of the 1990s RealPlayer was the only way to do video on the web and it was pretty good at that - it took better hardware for Flash video to be able to take off. But if Real hadn't taken Microsoft to court and Adobe not had the money to improve Flash then we'd probably all be using WMP / Silverlight. Shudder.

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Nokia gobble: Microsoft can't get free of red-tape bondage 'til April

Charlie Clark
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While it's easy to sneer, that, and similar services, could be a significant advantage.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Why not just Borg the android runtimes?

Windows Phone could probably do it - there are already Android emulators on Windows - but it would mean beefing up the hardware requirements (RAM mainly) which would mitigate any putative advantage Windows Phone is supposed to have over Android.

Of course, it would be possible to do a BlackBerry and have a different kernel underneath Android. Microsoft does apparently have suitable OSes lying around but QNX has the not inconsiderable advantage of being tried and tested. And even then look at how long it's taken BlackBerry to get BBOS and Android running on QNX.

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Charlie Clark
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They'd better hurry up while there's still something left to buy!

Had a chat on Friday with the only person* I know who actively went out and bought a Nokia (the one with the good camera) who was pretty disappointed by the lack of apps. She's happy with with the phone, particularly with the camera, of course. But there was still that sense of possibly rueing the purchase.

Maybe MS should drop the OS side of things and pursue the MS services on Android approach. There's a nice irony to this as it would mirror the countless number of companies who tried to compete with Microsoft on Windows with their apps. Still, if MS can demonstrate it has better services than Google, this might work.

* So this is purely anecdotal.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: More cruelty to the English language.

What criteria do you have to meet in order to be able to adopt a market?

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QUIDOCALYPSE: Blighty braces for £100 MILLION cost of new £1 coin

Charlie Clark
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Happy

Alternative solution

Just get on with it and adopt the Euro. Think of all the money saved by being able to use second hand equipment from the continent!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: "it has 15 faces (12 bevels, obverse, reverse, outer edge)"

More importantly, where's the free model in order to be able to print your own?

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Intel reinvents the PC as giant 'Black Brook' fondleslab

Charlie Clark
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It's quite funny watching the actors carefully passing the demonstration object to each other.

I do suspect we're going to get connected screens on a range of devices as prices come down for embedding them - adding an electronic recipe book to a kitchen work surface for example - you certainly won't be lugging something big and heavy and not waterproof really doesn't appeal. Having screens in situ would mirror existing patterns of having radios around the place or more recently wifi connected sound systems. Intel will only be part of this if it is prepared to sell the components for a couple of cents.

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So. Farewell then Steelie Neelie: You were WORSE than USELESS

Charlie Clark
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@Steve Todd

I don't think Kroes has much to do with roaming. Most of the work was done by Viviane Reding when she was Telecoms and Media Commissioner. At least she kept a good position in the reshuffle and became Justice Commissioner.

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Charlie Clark
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Insert Commissioner here

I'm not if it's really fair to criticise Mrs Kroes in this way. The remit "digital agenda" is a bit stupid anyway and comes from the need to have as many commissioners as member states seeing as no one, not even the apparently so efficiency-minded Brits, is prepared to sacrifice one in the name of efficiency. So, in addition to some of the good commissioners and the usual fluff, we got some "job-fors". She was quite good as competition commissioner but got moved sideways to make way for Almuña - Spain being bigger than the Netherlands.

Then again, this is a bit of a storm in a teacup - she doesn't have much of a budget. You'll find more guff and waste in any quango. And criticising any policy "statements" made via Twitter seems a bit like scraping the barrel to me. Does anyone take anything posted on it, seriously?

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Eight hour cleansing to get all the 'faggots' and 'bitches' OUT of Github

Charlie Clark
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Legal redress

I think the core issue is the way these things are handled. Isn't abuse a criminal offence in the UK and elsewhere in Europe? whereas it usually leads to civil suits in the USA?

When abuse is illegal then it's a cut and dried affair and you don't need code of conducts and workshops to enforce it; of course, you'll still have to work hard in general to get it accepted. When it's only a civil matter it leads to them and people treading on egg shells trying not to offend anyone and still likely to be sued for harassment. As usual, only the lawyers win.

PyCon has had a fairly meaningless (no legal relevance) code of conduct the last few years. Of possibly greater import will be the decision to have approximately 50 % of the talks being given by women in Montreal next month and the chairman is woman. In general, I'm not a fan of positive discrimination but it will be interesting to see how it works out: they'll ructions if the quality suffers but otherwise I expect it to be welcomed. From admittedly limited experience I'd say that women worry more about things like childcare and being able to combine family and work than the amount of swearing. Not sure how much "ethical code" is going to help there.

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Microsoft's SQL Server 2014 early code: First look

Charlie Clark
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Happy

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

You can't disable logging on mssql.

What's there to say about that apart from facepalm?

What's a transaction check? And integrity checks tend to be cheap compared to logging.

I said transactions and integrity checks. Checks only for integrity. I didn't understand from the example why a heap of transactions would be required for what sounded like a materialised view. Much as I dislike them, MyASM temporary tables have always gone like shit off a shovel because they think ACID is a little tablet with a smiley on it!

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

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

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

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

@BlueGreen

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

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

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

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

Charlie Clark
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Re: Monolithic?

Thanks for the reply.

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

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

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Charlie Clark
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Monolithic?

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

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

Charlie Clark
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Re: Wires...

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

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

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

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

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

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Charlie Clark
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Re: HOW MUCH?!

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

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Begs the question....

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

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

Charlie Clark
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Margins

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

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

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

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Europe approves common charger standard for mobe-makers

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

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

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Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

Re: Suck it, Apple.

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

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

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Windows hits the skids, Mac OS X on the rise

Charlie Clark
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Re: Perhaps missing the point?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlie Clark
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Re: All bullshit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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EU Parliament rubber-stamps 'irreversible' data protection reforms

Charlie Clark
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She's right

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

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

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: As if this will make people happy!

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

So, we should be using vi for everything then?

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Charlie Clark
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Good review.

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

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Charlie Clark
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FAIL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Twittapocalypse! Twitter implodes, locked out tweeps around the world

Charlie Clark
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Pity it's not permanent

NFT

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

Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

Page turning to save power

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

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

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

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

Charlie Clark
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CL Tools update as well

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

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PM Cameron leaps aboard Internet of Thingies

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

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

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

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Charlie Clark
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Go

Re: Roll those eyes

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

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

Charlie Clark
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Go

This is why

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

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Windows XP market share GROWS AGAIN, outstrips Win 8.1 surge

Charlie Clark
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Re: Piss poor data?

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

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

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