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* Posts by Charlie Clark

2564 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

What's up with that WhatsApp $19bn price tag? Answer: Voice calls

Charlie Clark
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Re: Skype is doing thef for ages... what's new?

Technologically the WhatsApp deal is not interesting. Skype's been out there for a while, I find the voice / video in Google Hangout's very good, which has the added "bonus" of already working with WebRTC, and there are now even open source solutions out there. However, scaling VOIP up and providing a reliable service for hundreds of millions isn't for the faint-hearted. As many have pointed out: the networks can easily play nastily unless the get cut in.

The money isn't real money - it's mainly a stock deal albeit plus a handsome pay-off for the VCs. Not sure if any of them are on Facebook's board. If so there might be a conflict of interest, except you can't have one for a private company so it would be down to shareholders getting off their butts and taking action (not going to happen as presumably the big ones are in on the pay-off).

No, the deal for Facebook was always about closing down the competition: there shall be one social network and Facebook is its name. Here, money doesn't matter and costs are usually offset against tax anyway (investors will accept lower profits in exchange for higher shareprices because of the favourable treatment of capital gains) and the long term expectation that market domination will lead to monetisation. Personally, I think Rakuten's valuation of Viber was probably close to the money.

Microsoft still thinks it's going to make money from Skype/Lync in the corporate world. One of my clients is big on Microsoft but they're currently rolling out Cisco kit which links into Lync and BBM still dominates the messaging space. But, who knows? Maybe corporates will get worried about the future of BlackBerry and turn to Microsoft.

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Samsung brandishes quad-core Galaxy S5, hopes nobody wants high specs

Charlie Clark
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Re: Brilliant

No, Samsung is differentiating.

There is a market for whatever bling Apple produces (I don't believe anyone is buying the Iphone 5s because it's 64-bit) just as there is a market for the biggest screen around, the loudest phone or the bestest (sic) camera. The S5 is more of a gradual improvement on the S4 than anything revolutionary but comes with all kinds of goodies (waterproofing is important to a lot of people) to encourage existing S3 and S2 owners to go for it (or, presumably the mini version when it becomes available).

When it comes to 64-bit wouldn't be surprised to see Samsung and others release a phone once a 64-bit version of Android is available, but as I said above, it's hardly what the market is crying out for.

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Sina rumoured to be prepping Weibo for $500m US-based IPO

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

$500m pah!

It ticks all the boxes: app, internet, chat, social, emerging markets, growth. Got to be valued at around $20 - $30bn and IPO accordingly!

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Nokia launches Android range: X marks the growing low-cost spot

Charlie Clark
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Go

The gateway drug

And this will help them sell Windows Phone because…?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Heh

I guess you must have missed that Windows Phone is at over 10% market share in a number of countries now including the UK…

No, we didn't. We called the Kantar figures bullshit at the time and IDC backed us up.

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UK citizens to Microsoft: Oi. We WANT ODF as our doc standard

Charlie Clark
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Re: This all boils down to:

It should actually be pretty easy for Microsoft to use ODF keep a dominant position in the market by making the best software around. OpenOffice and LibreOffice are okay for many things but I have more crashes with either of them than I ever have with MS Office.

Going ODF would mean Microsoft could drop the army of people associated with maintaining and implementing its own very unwieldy (yes, I've worked with it) standard. They've sort of shown they can do this with the more recent versions of Internet Explorer but you can just see how they still haven't understood that providing tools and services are more important than sabotaging data formats.

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Collective SSL FAIL a symptom of software's cultural malaise

Charlie Clark
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Re: So what's the solution?

Two wrongs don't make a right: software can always have bugs. Open source has the advantage of peer review and the chance to learn from each other's mistakes.

Apple already makes extensive use of open source software in the stack but it doesn't really embrace it. No, this doesn't mean that they should suddenly open source all their stuff immediately but that they can contribute more actively to making key libraries better for everyone. Doing this properly would mean Apple developers could spend time reinventing and retesting the wheel.

Currently, if you buy a Mac your POSIX stack will stay frozen until Apple release a new version of the OS (Apple's openssl on my machine seems to be 0.9.8y, MacPorts is on 1.0.1f). It would be a cinch for them to adopt any of the ports projects and integrate into the OS and lever their own sophisticated QA so that we all get better components.

All of this has nothing to do with a caffeine-infused development culture which I think is irrelevant here. Companies still focus on features over quality. Someone took a decision here not to implement code review, static code analysis, pen-testing, etc and all likelihood that wasn't some kid hunched over a keyboard a 3 in the morning.

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Microsoft courts mobe-makers, tweaks Windows 8 for WIMPs

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Race to the bottom?

Is this an admission that Microsoft has lost the high-end. high-margin game and is now preparing to slug it out with a free OS at the bottom just to get some good sales numbers? This might have been a strategy a couple of years ago before the Chinese nonames got their teeth into Android but now it feels like too little too late, especially since Google has started optimising Android for smaller machines. Though, Mr Orlowski contends that Windows Phone has always been better on shittier hardware.

Also note on the sales figures: which ones are being quoted? I thought IDC poured some pretty cold water on Windows Phones sales in 2013.

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Groupon plans MORE losses next quarter: Will lob wads of cash down marketing's maw

Charlie Clark
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Re: Losses why?

At first I thought you were trying to be ironic but then I realised that you really don't seems to get it. Explains some of your other posts perhaps.

Groupon's model is because its business model involves encouraging the customers of its customers to be disloyal. It's hardly surprising that this makes it hard to keep customers which means it needs continually new customers which is acquires not from the internet but from a good old-fashioned sales force. It's closer to Tupperware or Avon than it is to an internet-based service or even classic voucher services which seek to spread the cost of promotion between manufacturers and retailers. It doesn't scale well which is why its expansion has just led to higher costs. This might be okay if it had a business model that wasn't so parasitic. Other businesses with similar requirements (people on the ground) are doing better either because they cover new markets (AirBnB) or improve yields (Opentable). Maybe the "pull" approach as has legs.

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Steelie Neelie 'shocked' that EU tourists turn mobes off when abroad

Charlie Clark
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Calm down! calm down!

Some of the restrictions or charges have some justification: Skype uses more bandwidth than an equivalent voice call; roaming does incur some charges (billing mainly) and does require telcos in the land visited to invest in sufficient infrastructure to cope with visitors: think of popular holiday destinations - a surcharge of some kind might be reasonable.

Ten years ago both the EC and the European Parliament proposed abandoning roaming altogether but the the national governments wouldn't have it but did accept the phasing out over time that we're seeing. The telcos resistance to change and shows how important their massive short-term profits are too them. They could have killed OTT services by simply reducing prices but preferred to charge more and complain. If international calls only cost, say, 25 % more than national ones, Skype would never have had a chance. Ditto texts and WhatsApp - SMS used to be free because billing it was more expensive than the cost of transmission…

The big bang is yet to come when you get to choose your roaming partner. This will be too fiddly for most consumers but should revolutionise the whole market (both roaming and national) within a couple of years.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Once again the EU makes a good call.

The media and the government need a whipping boy and the civil service and bureaucracy of the European Commission make excellent ones.

Anything that is unpopular is blamed on them, whereas anything that turns out to be popular is usually spun as hard-won by the government. Business always finds a way to defend gouging as necessary for investment (the Ryanair twat about compensation payments, the telcos about roaming, etc.) The Commission is always on the defensive in such situations and most of the "journalists" covering the issue spend more time drinking with Farage and his buddies than they do reading the, admittedly often tedious, documents related to the single market.

Now, if only the UK would get on with unbundling the UK's energy markets as the EU requires…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: It's not phone calls, it's data

There has been a cap of € 50 per month for roaming charges in the EU for some years now that you have to explicitly ask to be remove. So, if anyone is being hit wit hundreds then it's most likely their own fault.

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IT'S ALIVE! China's Jade Rabbit rover RETURNS from the DEAD

Charlie Clark
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Re: "mechanical control abnormality"

It may have had a dust up with the rogue cooker that patrols the moon…

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Elitist approach still paying off for Apple in mobile market

Charlie Clark
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So what does Kantar say now?

IDC says Windows Phone managed very small growth in 2013 to about 3 %. Kantar has for months been banging on about Windows Phone gaining 10 % and more in key markets. Hm, who to believe?

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Charlie Clark
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The daftness of the quote underlines the daftness of the conclusion: you can't have a sum of the parts being more than the whole.

Sure, Apple and Samsung are profiting most from the business but that does not mean everyone else is making a loss.

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Steelie Neelie: ICANN think of more 'credible' rules for internet. (Cough *NSA* cough)

Charlie Clark
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Windows

Re: Old Neelie is good for a laugh!

downvotes from those immune to truth and rational thought

Have we got ourselves a new Eadon?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Excuse me but is this Torygraph?

electorate's reason for voting boils down to which pair of loons they prefer as PM and Chancellor.

The constituency system actually is not about that at all. Maybe if the rule suggested were brought back in it would mean MPs standing up more for their voters rather than their party.

That's a side issue. On democratic accountability the EC remains considerably more so than many of the appointed members of cabinet (is Warsi still in it?) and especially of th QUANGOs governments love to circumvent parliamentary accountability. Hand's length has its place, of course but since the 1980s the QUANGO has been the vehicle of choice for enforcing, or not as in the case of most of the regulators (OFGEN, OFCOM, OFGAS, …), the laws passed by parliament.

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Charlie Clark
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Excuse me but is this Torygraph?

unelected digital czar

What's with the sensationalism? All the members of the European Commission are bureaucrats, though they're technically more accountable than say members of the British civil service and are as elected as say the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to his position. They are chosen, albeit in a bout of severe horse-trading by the elected heads of government of the member states and approved by the elected members of the European parliament. The process is due to change for the next commission with the parliament getting more power over individual members.

Not that I'm holding out my breath for a significantly better commission. Only if we can reduce the horse-trading by having fewer ex-politicians and more proper technocrats will we really get anywhere.

But, hey, facts are boring, right?

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Microsoft, Oracle name the date to consummate Azure deal

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: "Please use us!"

Microsoft already ported their latest kernel - it runs under ARM on Windows Phone 8 and Windows RT. Simply a matter of there being market demand and Microsoft can click the compile button on the rest of the toolset for a server edition....

ROTFL If it was anything like that easy then Windows RT might have had a chance. How many apps have been ported to RT? Oh, and have they ported VBA to RT as well? What, you mean that managed code can't simply be ported to a new hardware architecture because it actually depends on machine instructions?

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Charlie Clark
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"Please use us!"

So, while the rest of the world is getting on discovering that they can very well do without Oracle databases, Java application servers and Microsoft operating systems, these two companies have started to notice the lack of new business. Putting stuff on a cloud isn't going to be enough: they are going to have to change their business models and lower their prices. Oh, and port their crown jewels to ARM.

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Bad luck, n00bs: Mozilla to splurge ADS inside empty Firefox tiles

Charlie Clark
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Copying Opera Discover?

Opera 15 (the Chrome based version) added something similar called "Discover". First thing I did was find out how to disable this "feature" which includes prefetching content which someone thinks I may be interested in.

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Virgin Media's flaky broadband network turns Bolton off

Charlie Clark
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The road to hell…

If you live at the end of the A666, what do you expect? ;-)

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Twitter shares plummet as first-ever earnings show weak growth

Charlie Clark
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Are you sure your bank or pension fund didn't lose money for you?

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Asus unveils dirt-cheap Chromebox desktops with Haswell chips

Charlie Clark
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XBMC runs fine on a Pi. No need for hot and hungry Intel hardware.

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Indian press focuses on Satya Nadella's love of cricket

Charlie Clark
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Coat

Windows 9 as the doosra release?

Mine's the one with the copy of The Cricketer in the pocket.

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Life support's ABOUT to be switched off, but XP's suddenly COOL again

Charlie Clark
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A simpler explanation

Net Applications numbers are based on browsers so pretty suspect in any case. However, you always see a surge in IE in January as people return to corporate environments after the holidays. I'd hazard a guess that the majority of household computers have already moved to Windows 7 not least because they don't have access to enterprise install disks.

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ARM posts sterling revenue growth, but moneymen spank it anyway

Charlie Clark
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Re: Laser-focused money men

The margins have always been like that, It may even be the reason so many companies do business with them. Unlike Intel who still demand absurdly large margins.

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Yet ANOTHER Brit MOBE tower BORG: Three and EE ink network-sharing deal

Charlie Clark
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Not necessarily. This is simply a logical progression of consolidation of inefficient assets: vying for mast space usually serves to drive up costs. In any one notional cell there will be only one or two optimum places for towers. Cabinets, power supplies and backhaul will have to be duplicated where shared resources would technically suffice.

The next step, and in reality, this is already happening is to have the equipment manufacturers actually own and operate the sites and rent them out to operators. This is much the same model as is supposed to happen with other utilities: electricity, power, water. The key to preventing cartels is making sure that the operators of the infrastructure do not favour one party. The key to ensuring good coverage is in the terms under which the spectrum is awarded.

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Anonymous means NO identifying element left behind – EU handbook

Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

Re: "Data are anonymised ..."

Data is / data are - both are in common use and, therefore, okay and in the dictionary. Personally, I much prefer "data is" with a partial noun "bits of data" when I want to be specific as this fits the pattern of other "uncountables": milk, spaghetti.

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HELLO LENOVO. Do you really, really want to make smartphones?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Stock Android

Having used both I actually prefer the Samsung UI to stock Android

With you on that. The Samsung camera app is pretty impressive. Been running CyanogenMod for a couple of weeks on one my phones but will go back to a Samsung build, not least because of better battery life. But the device will stay rooted so I can get rid of the bundled stuff I don't want and that normal users are not allowed to remove.

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What can Microsoft learn from 'discontinued operations' at Nokia?

Charlie Clark
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Stats

Nokia has clawed its way back to 10 per cent or more in some markets largely thanks to the Lumia 520

I thought that Nokia's figures pretty much disproved this claim.

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Language-mangling Germans fling open Handygate to selfie-snapping whistleblowers

Charlie Clark
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Re: "Handy" - WTF

Well, I smiled.

But I guess the rest of the world needs to know that the Jormans have been taught to pronounce "a" as "e" so it's "hendy" which is even weirder. Other strange things "u" gets pronounced as "a" and "g" as "k". So, in the local news they're often talking about "blocking about the apdates to WatsEpp on the hendy".

Even though I've lived here for years it's still the linguistic equivalent of fingernails being scraped on the blackboard.

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Charlie Clark
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Headmaster

Good job you got the spelling wrong on that one!

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UK picks Open Document Format for all government files

Charlie Clark
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Re: Important change

The _current_ OOXML is actually very nice.

Speaking as someone who actually works on a library that tries to read and write OOXML I can tell you that OOXML still is not very nice: it is overly verbose and inconsistent.

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Ditch IE7 and we'll give you a FREE COMPUTER, says incautious US firm

Charlie Clark
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To be fair, and I dislike IE < 9 pretty intensely, IE 6, 7, 8 were in their own way standards compliant. Unfortunately, they supported a standard box model that was subsequently changed. This is the biggest problem when working with them but it's a biggie because of the way we do sites in a post-table-layout, pre-flexbox world. Add to that the real bugs they do have and supporting them does become a real problem. And, then there is Microsoft's intransigence in welding the browser to the OS.

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ARM lays down law to end Wild West of chip design: New standard for server SoCs touted

Charlie Clark
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Re: Color me unconvinced

Well, apart from being "new" architectures the two are very different: IA64 was completely new, ARM isn't new - lots of the software already exists for ARM-32 and moving it to ARM-64 won't be difficult; IA64 was only ever going to come from Intel meaning they could dictate prices and roadmap, ARM for servers is going to come from at least 4 (AMD, nVidia, Samsung and Qualcomm); price, competition and the small size of the chips (meaning higher yields from wafers) will keep prices at a fraction of those of Intel. Together these are a very different value proposition. Whereas going IA64 or, before that Alpha, was such a daunting prospect that HP effectively had to strong arm customers (and software vendors) into adoption and even then it remained a niche market. ARM boxes will fit neatly into existing infrastructure and, depending on the workload, and allow a gradual migration as older boxes come up for retirement.

The market is different: IA64 was left targeting large servers with custom installs, ARM is commodity targeting IAAS data centres rather than telcos and banks. The big problem is going to be: are the margins sufficient for vendors to make it worth their while? Though, given the ubiquity of the architecture and, therefore, the ease of getting into the market, they may not have a choice as customers will buy boxes that cost a tenth or less of equivalent Intel ones.

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Charlie Clark
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Time to short Intel

If this actually gets out the door then it will be an enormous boost for ARM servers. They'll be cheap as chips, tiny so you can put loads of them into units and have low power draw.

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Facebook's dying? HA! Get ready for another DECADE of us – Zuck

Charlie Clark
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Re: Yahoo!

The history of American companies suggests that only one of those companies will still be in business in 10 years.

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AMD tries to kickstart ARM-for-servers ecosystem

Charlie Clark
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Re: Software

Yes, but Christian's point about low-level stuff, ie. booting and drivers is still a challenge for ARM stuff.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: They'd first need to sort out the common platform problem

Don't you think that AMD is in a good position to do just that? Unlike, say Calxeda, it has all the necessary resources for the full-stack.

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Home-grown server kit saves Facebook 'a BEELLION dollars'

Charlie Clark
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And the taxbreaks?

They're surely pretty important, too. Otherwise why build data centres where they do?

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Android holds steady as iOS and Windows Phone slip in Kantar reports

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

With the usual pinch of salt

Nokia reports dismal sales which is why it dumped the handset business.

Kantar on the other hand, reports "stable" market share for Windows phone with numbers, at least in Germany, that do not in any way reflect casual observations - such observations are about as valid as Kantar's survey-based numbers.

The weird thing is that comTech, the parent company of Kantar, has access to pretty reasonable browser stats. Wonder when Mr Sunnebo is going to have to get a new job.

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US megalocorp AT&T: We're NOT swallowing Blighty's Vodafone

Charlie Clark
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Correction

and found itself out-manoeuvred in 1999 when Vodafone slurped Mannesmann itself along with Orange…

It wasn't really outmanoeuvred as outspent by a massive, unsanctioned rights issue. Clever shareholders cashed in (some making tenfold profits in a year) and left dupes (and taxpayers) to suffer the writedown of goodwill.

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Nokia waves goodbye to device biz as phone sales continue to spiral

Charlie Clark
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What does Kantar say

So, Nokia reports smartphone sales down on the last quarter although Kantar was recently gushing with Nokia's impressive growth everywhere. hm, who should we believe?

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Windows 8.1 update 'screenshots' leak: Metro apps popped into classic desktop taskbar

Charlie Clark
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Metro -> Retro?

That screenshot (colours, typography) reminds me eerily of OS/2 Warp's design.

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Walking while texting can – OUCH! – end badly, say boffins

Charlie Clark
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Re: No shit, sherlock!

Yes, it is from the department of the bleeding obvious but you do need the research if, for example, you're going to draw up rules on the use of devices while operating machinery.

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German frau reports for liver transplant clutching bottle of vodka

Charlie Clark
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puns'r'us

Deutscheinfraubetrunkenluder

The "i" is incorrect, you don't need both "Frau" (woman) and "Luder" (bitch, always female).

"Lebe(r) wohl!" which translates handily as "Live(r) well!"

I'm sure you can do something with "vod" as a German pronunciation of "what" as well.

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Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: With that habit, the hospital could have arranged for her a special

The threat of not being allowed to have the organ…

You are wrong on two counts: firstly, it is against medical ethics to threaten sanctions on patients; alcoholics are addicts and rarely able to control their behaviour.

George Best infamously continued to drink after a liver transplant. Of course, he died in the end but he got a few more years of life. Smokers and morbidly obese people get treatment for illnesses directly related to their habits. But the same is true for many sports injuries. In the case of smokers and drinkers this is in theory partially funded by the duty collected. In a similar way that policeman cannot become judges, doctors cannot become the arbiters of treatment.

The scandal in Germany has led to a dramatic drop in the numbers of people prepared to be organ donors in an opt-in system. But something positive might come out of this yet: a bit like the ban on embryonic stem cell research, it may spur more research into therapeutic cloning. Transplants undoubtedly save lives but they are fiendishly tricky, expensive and often require patients to take immunosuppressants to prevent rejection. It will be better for all concerned if we can just use "one we prepared earlier".

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VCs drop cash on DropBox, bestow $10 BEELLLION valuation

Charlie Clark
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you rely on them to have appropriate security arrangements…

You don't, you can create your own on a folder-by-folder basis and just them to store the encrypted data.

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Charlie Clark
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Storage is commodity. What Dropbox offers is convenience and incredible flexibility. I was in early because they made an offer at PyCon (lots of Python used internally) and have not looked back and gained a few GB here and since including > 40 GB from Samsung. Strong encryption is missing but, because you can mount file systems locally, you can add that yourself. Photo-synching is very convenient but not very granular - no albums and public but obscured by default. I miss more intelligent synching on Android but DropSync fills the gap pretty nicely. It's chuffing great for backing up private repositories.

The key for businesses is the lack of lock-in to any eco-system. Setting up an (encrypted) file-server is invitingly simple and allows companies to continue working as they always have done but scale down their own hardware assets.

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