* Posts by Charlie Clark

3938 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

You've seen things people wouldn't believe – so tell us your programming horrors

Charlie Clark
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I'd be tempted to say that about all PHP code…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The risks of cut&paste...

Have a BOFH award!

(Don't understand the downvotes)

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Can't upgrade, won't upgrade: Windows Mobile's user problem

Charlie Clark
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Numbers

Windows Phone’s market share peaked at 12 per cent in August 2013, a month before Microsoft’s acquisition of the phones unit was announced.

That 12 % is cherry-picked from sales in particular markets. Worldwide and Windows Phone has never been above 5 %, which is why Nokia thew the towel in.

The numbers quoted about the most popular Lumias would appear to back this up: people are either sticking with what they've got or are moving to Android or IOS. You might expect the typical two-year contract and phone renewal to work in Microsoft's favour: switch to new phone with new OS (Windows 10). But it obviously isn't. Here the lack of compelling new phones, no doubt due to pink slips and lack of investment since the takeover, is going to cause problems.

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Former tech PR Jeremy Hunt MP ordered by judge to delete tweet

Charlie Clark
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Re: Jeremy Hunt

Well, we've always known he was a cunt. Now we have proof that he's also a twat.

This is so close to contempt of court that he should actually resign.

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Come on kids, let's go play in the abandoned nuclear power station

Charlie Clark
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Re: Fàilte gu na Dúnrath etc

It's in Caithness which, along with Sutherland, was for a long time part of Norway. That's why the local dialect sounds more like Scandiwegian than Scots.

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Uber driver 'pulls handgun' on passenger

Charlie Clark
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Re: Interesting

Redneck logic – you've got to love it. Or run from it!

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Safe Harbor 2.0: US-Europe talks on privacy go down to the wire

Charlie Clark
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Re: posturing aside

After all, if Cletus J Shitkicker the 3rd can't have those rights why would they give them to any dodgy foreigners?

You forget: the US does give extra rights to US citizens which makes spying on them technically illegal and is one of the main reasons why GCHQ is so damned big: it is effectively outsourced spying.

Foreigners (let's not bother to call them citizens because in US law they don't have any rights) are fair game all the time.

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Charlie Clark
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Well, what will happen when the deadline is reached and no new agreement has been made?

It's likely the floodgates for civil suits will open because precedent has been established. The ECJ has declared the agreement void and the DPAs will have little choice but to enforce it. Otherwise, as Schrems has demonstrated, the courts can be used to enforce it.

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Charlie Clark
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It won't happen on time

Any new agreement will have to be ratified by every member state and that certainly can't happen in time.

So any noises from the negotiators are just PR showing us how hard they are working. Until the fundamental problem is resolve – the EU requires judicial oversight, which the US rejects – then this is going nowhere.

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Twitter boss ‘personally’ grateful as five Twitter execs walk

Charlie Clark
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Re: Flawed Business Model

However if you can get something trending it might force a company to do something rather than endure the negative publicity.

So, you're stuck at airport-in-the-middle-of-nowhere venting your spleen about the delay on the interwebs. And this helps how exactly? The vague hope that company X, for reasons of PR, will notice and try and placate you by giving the local staff a kick up the backside? Dream on. Me, I prefer to speak softly to local representatives with the firm threat of legal action if statutory obligations are not fulfilled.

As long as customer service can be considered optional, companies will try to avoid it.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Flawed Business Model @charlie Clark

The public nature of social media along with the ratings and medals awarded by the platforms for speed of response make it something companies endevour to act on more quickly than something like email.

When my flight is delayed I don't give a flying fuck about ratings and medals on <insert-platform-here/>, I want to be looked after properly at the airport. It's a fundamental error to confuse PR on social media with customer service.

Thank god we have obligatory minimum standards for delayed flights in Europe!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Flawed Business Model

Twitter has its uses. Once when my flight was delayed it was the fastest and easiest way to get a hold of customer services.

Doesn't that read like an indictment of the airlines customer services? What about those who hadn't shared their flight details with Twitter or didn't have a data connection or even a phone?

Twitter gets lots of praise for its scalability but it's really quite pathetic when put up against what the Telco's SMS-Cs pump 24/7.

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Charlie Clark
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I wonder what the severance terms were? Don't normal employees just get a damp handshake and asked to clear their desks? But I'm sure it's a bit more if you make it to exec. Suggestions, please.

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How El Reg predicted Google's sweetheart tax deal ... in 2013

Charlie Clark
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Very partial piece

If I understand the logic correctly, the argument is that there should be no tax on corporates because it acts as a drag on investment, payroll taxes should be enough. And Amazon is held up as a shining example?

So, let's look at Amazon: up to every legal trick in the book to its tax exposure. It's also up to every trick in the book to squeeze suppliers and employees. Minimum wage, we've heard of it. How does this encourage investment exactly. And then there is the not inconsiderable issue of preferential treatment of capital gains over income (share buybacks over dividends).

Now, I'm actually a big fan of Bezos' digital stuff but that does not mean I endorse his business practices.

Different forms of tax exist because no one form is particularly efficient.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Anyone actually heralding this a "success"?

And there are those that suggest it undermines the OECD's attempt to sort out international tax arrangements.

It's just not trying very hard, is it? ;-)

Deals like this, which are driven as much by the US FATCA legislation, as anything else will probably help establish any OECD policy.

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MariaDB hires new CEO with code daddy Monty in as CTO

Charlie Clark
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I have no love for Oracle but they have managed to get red of many of the bugs that have festered in MySQL for years.

Sure, they want an upgrade path from MySQL cheapskates to juicy Oracle customers ready to be milked but that's business.

In the meantime Monty and his friends can continue to make a shitty database worse. I don't think they even figure on Oracle's radar any more.

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Which tech stocks are suffering and – crucially – why?

Charlie Clark
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Re: The VC's will never learn

Au contraire: all of the companies are post-IPO so the VCs have already trousered enormous profits, even on Square which didn't quite make its 4 bn valuation on IPO.

As long as these companies can stop themselves from becoming penny stocks then they should be okay. The companies who really need to worry are those who are looking for more funding or were planning to IPO any time soon.

But the VCs have learned from 2000 and very few of them will feel any pain. If <insert-dorky-name-of-dodgy-service-here/> doesn't look like it's going to make much on IPO then it will either be sold to a) the competition; b) a tech behemoth still looking for a digital strategy like Microsoft, for example c) a clueless pension fund (and, trust me, there are enough of those around). The only ones who need to worry are employees who took stock options instead of pay. The VCs will be laughing all the way to their Porsche dealers!

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Waving Microsoft's Windows 10 stick won't help Intel's Gen 6 core

Charlie Clark
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Red Herring

Microsoft hasn’t exactly helped by giving Windows 10 away for free to download

We keep reading this without any numbers to back it up, Windows 10 is free because Microsoft is desperate to be able to drop support for legacy IE and the nightmares of ActiveX. It's free because Windows 8 annoyed people even more than Vista did (and that took some work) and it's free because Microsoft knows that people aren't going to buy new hardware just to run it.

Meanwhile Android and IOS continue to eat more and more of the shrinking IT budget. And Intel still isn't get much of that pie (sorry for the mixed metaphor). Hint for Intel: license ARM and release machines that will happily run x86 and ARM code in whichever way the user wants.

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Charlie Clark
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Yep, just been through one. It will depend upon the accounting but in some places once the hardware has been written off it costs more to keep it than replace it.

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Twitter goes titsup

Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

PIty it won't be permanent!

NFT

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Devs complain GitHub's become slow to fix bugs, is easily gamed

Charlie Clark
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I sometimes wonder what goes on in the heads of people using VC-funded services. Where does the sense of entitlement come from?

Github is currently making a very successful land grab (and gathering lots of valuable personal data at the same time). It will continue to do so as long as there is no real pushback with people prepared to switch to alternative vendors. It's not as if they're aren't alternatives.

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Nude tribute to Manet's Olympia ends in cuffing

Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

Re: Les Toits de Paris...

Where's the icon for dodgy puns? Normally I'd want to put you on the naughty step for the but in this case…

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Microsoft herds biz users to Windows 10 by denying support for Win 7 and 8 on new CPUs

Charlie Clark
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MS trying to boost PC sales?

That's certainly how I read this. Windows 10 was supposed to boost PC sales. But we all know how well that has worked.

So maybe introducing hardware incompatibilities is a way of helping both MS and the makers? Can't see enterprise customers being terribly keen on this and home users are switching in droves to cheap but perfectly functional tablets.

I wonder whether we'll start to see companies moving to Citrix on Android for legacy stuff? Again, MS is shooting itself in the foot by not making the Edge browser available for Windows 7 and 8. Windows 11 is pretty good but, with development now frozen, companies have even more reasons to install a second browser such as Firefox ESR.

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What do we do about a problem like Uber? Tom Slee speaks his brains

Charlie Clark
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Hit the nail on the head

Most of their innovation is in the way they deal with regulation, rather than technology advances.Uber can only be successful in places where regulation is failing. The reason for taxis and private hire vehicles being regulated separately in the UK is historical and no longer really relevant. There's no such distinction here in Germany and the taxi companies already have their own app: MyTaxi. As a result Uber isn't really interesting to passengers.

Using geolocation to improve efficiency and registration to facilitate payment is a win-win for passenger and driver.

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Huffing and puffing Intel needs new diet of chips if it's to stay in shape

Charlie Clark
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Re: IoT

What IoT systems do you know have passwords longer than 8 characters? ;-)

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Charlie Clark
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Gartner gets it right?

Milk the data centre market for all its worth until the IoT market somehow develops just as Intel needs it? Even for Gartner that's a bit simplistic.

Sure the data centre market has higher margins but is it going to continue the way it has for the next five years? Will there really be no serious competition?

"Next year will be the year of ARM servers" may have been the call for a while now but the 64-bit chips are finally starting to appear and, even if Intel now has silicon for some of the low-grunt tasks that ARM is particularly suited to, it will still have to compete there on price. Something it doesn't have to do as much in the x86 area. Sure, recompiling for ARM does add a bit of a hurdle for some systems but, outside the GUI world, there is little software that can't be compiled on ARM.

As for IoT, well ARM is already pretty well-established in many manufacturers so Intel has a lot of work to convince people that it's worth paying more for their silicon. OTOH there might be more value in providing a reliable eco-system for developers.

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The Day Netflix Blocked My VPN is the world's new most-hated show

Charlie Clark
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Re: Whelp...

Isn't this something the EU have said they want to stop though, so people don't have to put up with Geo-blocking?

Yes, but that will be for the EU only.

Netflix is being pushed to this by the rights holders. It just has to come up with something that looks to be doing a good enough job. But to be honest trying to play whack-a-mole with commercial VPN proxy services, who have a financial incentive to stay one step ahead, looks pretty unwinnable. Digital content is eminently fungible and the internet has been well designed to work around blocks. At some point this is going to put an end to exclusive licences.

However, my biggest gripe with all the new streaming services is: why do I have to register to be able to see the catalogue?

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Aircraft now so automated pilots have forgotten how to fly

Charlie Clark
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Re: Pilots?

Works for me. I'm happy to fly in a plane completely controlled by the computer. Or even the dog!

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Microsoft wants you, yes you, to write bits of Windows 10. For free

Charlie Clark
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The Reg imagines a great many open source enthusiasts would balk at the idea of contributing code that might end up in Windows, no matter Microsoft's radical attitude adjustment in recent years.

Which just goes to show how little you know.

Open source is about peer-review and thus, at least ideally, a two-way street. MS is making the source available – you can use it in your own projects if you so wish – very much in this spirit. I suspect that this will be welcomed by many in the .NET arena. But less so outside of it.

As soon as open source (any encumbrance on the licence) becomes about politics then it's no longer about the code.

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Charlie Clark
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It was never borrowed: it was used as intended.

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Server retired after 18 years and ten months – beat that, readers!

Charlie Clark
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Devil

Re: The drive's a Seagate...

Yep, SCSI drives were built to much higher standards than consumer IDE drives.

As for running 20 years without stopping. Well, that does sound like par for the course for FreeBSD: devil icon because there's no daemon!

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Learn you Func Prog on five minute quick!

Charlie Clark
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I'm sorry, but no CPU on the planet works internally with abstract objects, methods, or any other cobblers you want to invent. All OO did was to help revive the textbook printing industry, since everything you needed to know about procedural programming had already been written by the end of the 1980s.

So we should convert our abstractions of the world into machine code?

First of all there is no dichotomy between OO and procedural programming. OO is merely a different way to express the procedures. Functional programming shouldn't be excluded either. It's just another tool in the box.

Secondly, what's wrong with letting a compiler convert whatever high-level code into machine code? For a while now it's been known that compilers can produce better machine code than people can. They can also do it a lot faster, too. And CPU cycles are cheaper than people, too.

Sure, there are situations, especially where memory is extremely limited where you need to program as close to the machine as possible. But you know what's even better than writing machine code? Creating hardware that's optimised for your code. All hail FPGAs and hardware acceleration.

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2015's horror PC market dropped nine per cent

Charlie Clark
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Neither Gartner nor IDC could tablets as PCs. But let's have some fun and see what would happen if they did.

No, let's not. How about fixing up the data table instead? And while you're at it: create some nice table styling for El Reg.

It's unusual for me to agree with Gartner and IDC but I do on this. While tablets are increasingly replacing PCs and notebooks for web/e-mail/video it's still a separate market. Apple's still making a lot of money from it but not as much as it might: for the majority a 10" for £200 is more than enough. And I'm also seeing a dramatic fall in IPad web traffic from 2014 to 2015.

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Come in Internet Explorers, your time is up. Or not. Up to you

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

What kind of survey?

1000 users? Worse than useless. Not sure why you even bothered quoting the source. Haven't you got your own? What are the numbers for your own visitors? Or, visiting US government websites? Or from Akamai's data?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Rejoice! Rejoice!

I suspect you'll find that some out-of-support software is more verboten than other… Then again larger companies that know they have a problem that can't be solved with IE 11 enterprise mode are probably more than willing to pony up for extra support as it's probably a lot cheaper than getting the stuff rewritten.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Stuck with old IE?

And for how many years have you known about that situation and done nothing to mitigate it?

No reason to be smug. Yes, there are loads of "legacy" apps essentially written for Active X that should never have seen the light of day. While you might find sys admins on this list who have to manage such systems, you're unlikely to find the golf-playing fuckwits who took the decision to buy or commission such sites so many years ago. Most also didn't come with the source code so reimplementing them is more or less impossible. And actually running them in a special VM is probably the best solution until alternatives come around.

But there are also more legitimate cases. For example, US export restrictions on encryption meant that many countries (including US allies like South Korea) couldn't get a browser with more than 128-bit encryption without using a browser plugin. The American government actively restricting strong encryption. Now, who'd have thunk it?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: If

FWIW

At the time of launch Internet Explorer 6's interpretation of the box model did comply with the standard. It's just that the standard was subsequently changed. IE 6 also gave the world the XMLHttpResponse hook that we all now use to update pages without a complete refresh.

No, Microsoft's biggest mistake was in tying IE into the OS. This meant that what should have been fairly simple browser updates became OS updates. Hence, the oddity of IE 9 being kept around for Vista even thought its immediate successor, IE 10, is for the chop.

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Boozing is unsafe at ‘any level’, thunders chief UK.gov quack

Charlie Clark
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Re: New Rule?

What does this article and the related the report have to do with the EU?

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Charlie Clark
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Pint

Reminds me of Woody Allen

Repeated studies have shown that alcohol in moderation prolongs life: it reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes. In fact the benefits of alcohol in preventing strokes and heart disease are far clearer than the negatives of drinking.

See the film "Sleeper" talking about smoking and eating hamburgers.

I have a lot of time for Sally Hawkins and would side with her on the statement: "there is no safe level". But I think you can do this without being puritanical. Alcohol has strong physiological effects on pretty much all of our major systems and is known to be addictive and mood-changing: some of the worst damage is caused indirectly through injuries and alcohol-fuelled violence.

I also can't recall any studies that suggested that the chemical alcohol was in any way healthy. There are various benefits attributed to some of the byproducts of some of our tipples (red wine for hearts, pseudo-oestrogen for bones, etc.) but I don't think we'll ever see dispensaries of surgical alcohol.

But banning something rarely makes it go away. Health education is the key to helping people make more informed decisions. There is much in our lifestyle that increases the risk to health but as the Dutch say "geniet, maar met mate" – "all things in moderation". I'll drink to that.

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Windows 10 makes big gains at home, lags at work

Charlie Clark
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False precision

Netmarketshare had Windows 10 kicking up from 9.00 per cent in November to 9.96 per cent

If you must continue to trot out these reports then please stop trying presenting the numbers with scientific precision. Given that they are averages this is extremely misleading.

OTOH congratulations for finding another more credible source such as the stats for US government websites, though this is limited in geography.

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Was Android moving to OpenJDK really a Google gift to devs?

Charlie Clark
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Great comment. The article is largely FUD.

Anyway, isn't Google moving more and more away from Java to native code? It can easily afford to sit out the court case with Oracle, pay any damages in the unlikely result that is found against it, and carry on regardless. Oracle needs people wanting to work with Java more than Google needs any particular programming language.

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Say oops, UPSERT your head: PostgreSQL version 9.5 has landed

Charlie Clark
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Go

Three cheers!

Postgres really has been coming along the last few years (i've been using it since version 7.1). I think UPSERT will really help it make new friends but some of the other tweaks may even lead to monkey dances: will the BRIN index makes Postgres suitable for time series work?

Still some things are never finished. What features are we missing from Postgres?

Personally, having recently being bitten by it, I'd love to see support for loose index scans be built into the optimiser.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Is it bad design

I don't think that's relevant. UPSERT is great because it allows you to replace possibly multiple queries (insert of new values, update of existing ones) with corresponding correlated subqueries with a declarative one: INSERT ON CONFLICT IGNORE; or, INSERT ON CONFLICT UPDATE which will respect existing constraints. UPSERT, by definition, is irrelevant for tables without unique constraints such as primary keys.

This is much, much easier for both man and machine to understand and has added the advantage of putting giving responsibility for optimising the correlated subqueries to the query optimiser.

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ANN-IE-LATION: Microsoft to axe support for older Internet Explorer next week

Charlie Clark
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Re: for whatever reason are still running Windows Vista...

May I recommend Xubuntu?

YMMV but I don't think that will work for most people. I haven't come across a single desktop Linux distro that hasn't fucked up.something major at some point.

If people only need e-mail and a browser then a tablet is probably the best thing to get them and bin the PC. A girlfriend of mine is now providing technical support on that to her own mother. But I still get to fix all the PC problems! ;-)

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Nice thoughts from them.. NOT.

IE 11 gets regular bug fixes. Not my favourite browser but everything > 9 is generally okay, if you discount the vestigial ActiveX support that so many enterprises still need.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: for whatever reason are still running Windows Vista...

one reason would be that it is the only supported version for which no Windows 10 nagware is force-installed.

Pretty poor reason considering all the rest of the nastiness in Vista.

However, I still don't understand why MS hasn't done the work to release IE 11 for Windows. Having IE 9 around for only one OS (let's ignore the servers at the moment) suits no one.

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Longing to bin Photoshop? Rock-solid GIMP a major leap forward

Charlie Clark
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Re: My (grumpy) prediction for 2016

It's a shame, because GIMP could be a flagship 'product' for FOSS on the desktop.

It couldn't because it is the GTK (Gimp Tool Kit) that hates the user: it's an abomination.

Anyway users will never really care about FOSS. They will care about free (as in beer) and they will care about the ability to get the job done. People who profess to care about FOSS aren't really users.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Tough Sell

There are now lots of very good Photoshop alternatives for around $50. Personally I use Photoline (excellent PSD support) but Serif's Affinity Photo has been getting a lot of fans.

Much as I support open source software, for many things like image editing it's worth paying a bit for convenience. A good UI that supports your workflow will quickly repay itself. This is why Adobe is still able to charge so much for something like Illustrator.

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BT and EE, O2 and Three: Are we in for a year of Euro telco mega-mergers?

Charlie Clark
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However, John Strand, a telecoms analyst, opposes this view. "There's no academic evidence to support the idea that greater competition leads to more investment," he says.

What the fuck is that guy smoking? Oh, he's on a retainer for one of the vested interests.

Competition is a key driver of innovation and investment. It was the combination of industry standards (GSMA) and regulated competition that drove the European telecoms market back at the turn of the millennium. Without it it's highly unlikely that 3G would ever have been deployed. The US has really only been playing catch up and network quality drops a lot as soon as you get outside the larger cities.

The rules for competition for all industries in Europe are pretty clear. Indeed it is these very rules which are facilitating the development of true cross-border services. The European Commission can intervene in national markets but only within clearly defined limits. But, let's face it, it will do a far better job of regulating telecoms in the UK than Ofcom has managed so far. Wholesale pricing and the phasing out of roaming charges will do more to strengthen competition than the number of national operators.

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Rumor mill in overdrive as Dell pumps up Perot price, Atos offers $4.3bn

Charlie Clark
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Nail: on head, hit

Dell needs to look like the kind of company that does a good deal, since the EMC merger is still subject to shareholder approval. A break-even sale of Perot Systems six years after purchasing it does not look great.

Especially with so much freshly printed money still sloshing around. If price is compared with the debt-fuelled premium that Dell paid for EMC then it looks even worse. Of course, this week's stockmarket jitters won't make it any easier to get the $ 5 bn, even though Atos should have no problems raising the cash (thanks Mario for offering to buy up any kind of shit).

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