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* Posts by Alan Brown

2773 posts • joined 8 Feb 2008

Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email

Alan Brown
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Re: PR BS

".. then that admin has in many countries broken the law by accessing client data without authorisation"

You should reread the contract you have with your freemail provider. Any assumption of privacy is hot air.

In any case:

Postmaster double bounces are one example (and how such stuff came to my attention, as I was the postmaster - we didn't allow client storage _at all_)

Finding material whilst walking customers through helpdesk stuff is another (the most regular way, by all accounts - it used to be more common when people had small quotas)

Being unintentionally sent stuff is a 3rd way (I've seen a couple of cases where this happened).

Attracting mailbombs and the subsequent cleanup

etc etc

Noone (other than google) sets out to find objectionable material. Apart from anything else it's a major administrative headache if something turns up.

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Alan Brown
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Re: PR BS

If an admin runs across obviously illegal material during routine work (especially stuff like kiddy porn) and fails to report it, that admin runs a risk of being charged as an accessory after the fact.

The simple fact is that once such material is discovered (for whatever reason), it MUST be reported.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Interesting?

It won't be for Google. They'd already made it clear that they comply with US court orders - mainly because they can't guarantee the location of any given data or that it will stay outside of US data centres.

If the US gov prevails (and all they need to do is invoke PATRIOT in any case) then the effect will be that offshore datacentres belonging to US subsidiaries will be cleaved off from the mothership entirely.

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Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?

Alan Brown
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Re: The real issues.

"Internal North to South migration due to lack of regional economic development. Weakly controlled immigration from outside EU, uncontrolled immigration from within EU. "

You hit the problem on the head with the first point.

The 2nd and 3rd points don't even come close to matching internal economic migration

(a large chunk of immigration is to areas outside the SE of england - the main reason people go on about foreigners is because they're more visible and it's easy to blame the diffferent-looking one when times are tough. In some areas if it wasn't for immigrants, local economies would have collapsed)

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Alan Brown
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Re: So where does the infrastrucure come from

"I have had some up close experience with the management of council houses in the old days and a couple of South London councils actually were able to maintain their houses well and turn a modest profit which had to be reinvested in the stock. "

The problem with the Thatcher-forced sell off was that councils were _prevented_ from reinvesting in housing stock. This was a deliberate, calculated move aimed at gutting labour-dominated councils whilst recruiting more tory voters.

The greenbelt is an utterly shambolic solution to a problem which never really existed - there is a lot of publicly-accessible greenspace in urban areas (parks, reserves, etc, etc) whereas most of the greenbelt spaces are locked off from the public and only the rich get to enjoy them.

Even if the greenbelts were abolished tomorrow, there are a lot of areas which are protected from development.

As for the Chilterns, the sooner that area is urbanised, the better... :)

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Alan Brown
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Re: Build council houses

"The supermarkets have massive land banks."

Yes and Tesco recently announced it's going to start builing housing on a lot of the land it's currently banking.

At which point all the NIMBY objections will start being raised by people whose property values will be affected by a loosening of the supply.

ANYONE who buys into deals based on artificial scarcity should be sweating, but perpetuating an artificial shortage is causing substantial economic damage which only the very rich actually get to proft from.

If house prices fall, you'll have your mortgage, but if you want to "step up", the price for that property will have fallen too. As with house price rises, falls don't overly matter if you're actually on the property ladder, it's just an issue when getting on/off.

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Alan Brown
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Re: If the problem is too many people, how many should we have?

"It is standard ranting to say "The UK has too many people, so we must do <horrible thing>", and a quick trip to a Godwin. "

The UK is one of the EU countries with the smallest population growth figures. Things are mostly crowded in the SE due to decades of economic policy which has resulted in a lot of intra-country migration - hence why there are areas in the north where you can't GIVE housing away because there are more houses than people.

There's a lot to be said in favour of encouraging economic growth elsewhere, but england's schitzophrenic political/planning structure precludes proper transport infrastructure being built and the existing stuff is all centred on London. Companies find they can do OK up to a certain size outside London and then they HAVE to move there or face rising costs.

(One way of encouraging growth would be to push ahead with HS2 as a Birmingham-centric process. Whilst all the planning isues are being nutted out down south the lines could easily be built northwards and economies of the areas would benefit once it's completed - even if never built down to London.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: On the topic of 'land in Surrey devoted to housing'...

Most of the golf courses in Surrey are built on fairly poor quality land from an agricultural point of view.

For that matter, most of the "greenbelts" are too. The T&C planning act was intended to stop the entire south of england turning into strip suburbia and give ciutydwellers access to greenepaces - but all the greenbelt land is effectively fenced off from City Dwellers.

The entire clusterf* has been mismanaged from the start and amounts to an unwritten farming subsidy (greenbelt land pricing is substantially depressed from prices outside the greenbelts.). It'd be better to create parks, reserves, flood control areas and let the rest be used for whatever purposes come to mind.

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Alan Brown
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"The reason rent control is attractive is that it discourages investment-buying of second and third houses."

Except that's not what happens. Rent control leads to situations like Rigby's Rising Damp. People will still buy 2nd and 3rd hourses, but in order to maintain income from then, they won't invest in maintenance/repairs.

Rent control is the path to the rise of the Slumlord. In any case, the SE of the UK is short at least 100,000 dwellings and no amounyt of rent control is going to build new dwellings in the numbers actually required.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Economists solving the problems the last one caused

> Yes, there is a reason and it is the same reason for every market imbalance in which the price is completely inflated: "Artificial Scarcity"

And of course the people who can abolish this are the same people in a position to profit the most from the status quo.

I live in surrey. The hypocrisy about "saving our village" (most of which is 1930s era housing) lumbers on and on and on - and the most fundamental objection raised to allowing new housing is that "it lowers property values"

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Google has spaffed more cash on lobbying this year than Big Cable

Alan Brown
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Hardly surprising

Google is trying to undo _decades_ of lobbying on IP which has seen copyright laws taken to ridiculous extremes, as well as a US patent system which is manifestly unfit for purpose.

There are good arguments for pulling back to the levels of Berne convention. The current situation has everybody beholden to companies which Google could actually buy with pocket change (I'm surprised they haven't gone down this path, like Sony did)

On the telco side, there are also decades of damage to undo. The Divesture of Ma Bell has been folllowed by borg-like reassembly of the monopolies _without_ that pesky universal service requirement. Every step along the way has been accompanied by promises to regulators that service levels to customers would improve and every time those improvement programs have been dropped shortly after the regulators approved mergers and/or enhanced monopolies - without the regulators blinking, or raising serious questions next time the telcos came calling. (It's pretty clear the people concerned at state-level are bought and paid for by the telcos).

The federal government's increasingly frantic attempts to stay on a war-footing(*) since the fall of the Berlin Wall have left them wrong-footed on dealing with internal matters which have the potential to seriously destabilise US society.

(*) Once the feds step down from a continual state of war-readiness, they are required to divest power back to individual states, which runs contrary to the last 60-years of federal power grab. Federal agencies employ a _lot_ of people and they're all going to resist being made redundant, even if the end result is a marked improvement in the USA economy - what the feds seem to have forgotten (but China has not) is that "War sells, but peace expands markets"

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HP: NORKS' cyber spying efforts actually a credible cyberthreat

Alan Brown
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Misdirection

"Instead, many regime-sponsored attacks are launched from cells based in China, US, South Asia, Europe, and even South Korea.

Such "cells" are likely to be the zombie army at work. It's far easier to run through anonymising botnets than it is to risk your people being caught on the ground.

It's funny how they assume physical presence is required to be a threat.

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Google on Gmail child abuse trawl: We're NOT looking for other crimes

Alan Brown
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"In the same way that the post office doesn't open letters and parcels unless a warrant has been received concerning the recipient or sender,"

If a parcel is split and the contents turn out to be illegal (or it passes through customs and they find illegal material whilst inspecting) then they are required to call in the police.

Admins sometimes have to eyeball stuff. Even metadata might be enough to raise suspicions to the point where the police are called in (Directories or filenames relating to kiddy porn, forinstance - and yes, people ARE that dumb.)

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Alan Brown
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Re: slippery slope or lawsuit magnet?

"If you're a witness to a crime, you are not necessarily required by law to report it, but that doesn't mean it's wrong for you to report it."

Depending on the crime and the jurisdiction (france is far more strict for instance), failure to report a major crime is a criminal act in itself.

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Alan Brown
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The problem with hashes

Is that simply twiddling the LSBs will vastly change the hash without noticeably altering the image.

This is a difficult area to work in. I ran across a couple of such images 20 years ago and was pretty nauseated (the other overwhelming urge was murderous). Thankfully the cops were pretty good when it was reported and the person responsible was hauled in very quickly (as far as I know he's still in jail).

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Alan Brown
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Re: Um ... did you read the story just before this one ?

The guys concerned _didn't_ report it. That's why they got whacked.

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Virgin Media blocks 'wankers' from permissible passwords

Alan Brown
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Wot a bunch of onanists.

And seriously, if passwords are held in plaintext, there are a few bollox which need chopping off.

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Google flushes out users of old browsers by serving up CLUNKY, AGED version of search

Alan Brown
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Re: Obnoxious

Mozilla is fine, but it leaks memory like a sieve.

I've finally given up on it until they fix that.

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NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away

Alan Brown
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Re: Dust removal

"As for wipers I suspect they didn't want to scratch the cell surfaces which is what wipers in a dry dusty environment will inevitably do."

Scratching the surfaces wouldn't matter that much, but moondust is amazingly sticky (attempts to wipe it off suits simply didn't work) and the assumption was that mars dust was the same, so it wouldn't work.

Some kind of brush/puffer might work (assuming a compressor can be fitted into the robot chassis that won't itself be clogged up with dust) but the bigger problem is mechanical endurance in such a hostile environment - the failed wheel motors and ripped tyres being good examples of this.

Given the beetle shape of the rovers, I was minded to suggest that the panels could pivot to vertical and shiver slightly, but that's another level of mechanical complexity.

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RIP MSN Messenger, kthxbai. Microsoft finally flicks on KILL SWITCH in China

Alan Brown
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Re: Skype, QQ is good alternative

"QQ seems to be one"

For those interested - "wechat" is a very decent android QQ app which seems to have a low footprint

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Alan Brown
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Re: Ok I'll bite....

Skype was improving until MS bought it up.

Ever since then it's been downhill, starting with stripping out all the useful extensions which used to exist.

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Community chest: Storage firms need to pay open-source debts

Alan Brown
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Re: Real coding!

" An ext4-formatted USB stick, though? Most thieves wouldn't be able to make heads or tails of it."

Funnily enough most of my usb sticks _are_ ext4, but I don't have to worry about that pesky windows thing.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Real coding!

Nexenta charge like wounded bull elephants. There are other alternatives (TrueNAS are nore operating in the EU. Yay!)

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Alan Brown
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Re: It's just the way it is...

"About the only people who have made money out of this are Microsoft through gouging "Android tax" and alleging that my code infringes copyright (a claim from which they subsequently backed down)."

If they've been collecting money on your behalf, you should claw it back... :)

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Ice cream headache as black hat hacks sack Dairy Queen

Alan Brown
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Cashing out locally

Not a new tactic at all.

Gangs have been using money mules to cash out locally and shift money to other accounts for at least 10 years. In some cases they've got people _in_ bank branches too.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Is it just me…

"Who on earth uses anything other than cash to buy low-cost items like icecreams?"

Debit cards are routinely used here (UK) for sub $5 transactions - and they use the same network as credit cards for authorization.

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Racing Post escapes ICO fine after leaking info of 677K punters

Alan Brown
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Rule in all gambling:

There's only one winner - the House.

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Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws

Alan Brown
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Re: Why do coders fail to code for input validation

35 years ago I was writing input validation routines for my programs - and most people around me couldn't understand why I wasted memory and cpu doing so.

Fast forward to today and those same people are the elder gods of coding, passing their arcane knowledge to the new generations.

Couple that with managerial tendencies to grab what's been knocked up in an hour to see if something is viable and push that forward as the finished product and you have a recipe for badness.

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EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz

Alan Brown
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Lasing things

Might work.... but the greatest danger is from the little stuff. Can that be tracked and zapped?

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PCI Council wants YOU to give it things to DO

Alan Brown
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Re: stop pushing contactless cards on the unsuspecting public

In the meantime, if you slice about 10mm into any side of the card you should break the antenna loop and disable the paywave part.

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Galileo can't do the fandango: Two Euro GPS nav sats sent into WRONG ORBIT

Alan Brown
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Re: Que?

If they don't get the constellation working, the chinese Beidou-2 system (formerly known as COMPASS) will take the frequencies, which would cause more delays as systems would then need rejigging.

There are 2 fully working GPS systems up there (navstar, glonass) 2 being built (galilleo, beidou-2) , at least 2 more planned (France, Japan) and 2 regional ones already in place (inrss, beidou-1)

The Indians may yet expand INRSS to a full GPS setup, but they're concentrating on their own backyard in the first instance.

What's surprising is despite the "competition" between the various systems (there's a hell of a lot of "flag waving" going on), there's also a good degree of cooperation in terms of both standardisation of data streams and transmission frequencies and collaboration between design teams - what that means is that an appropriately setup GPS receiver will be able to listen to all systems without having to run over-complex multiple-RF setups and that problems encountered by one consortium will be solved amongst all of them.

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Galileo! Galileo. Galileo! Galileo frigged-LEO: Easy come, easy go. Little high, little low

Alan Brown
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Re: what is their current orbit?

"shortened life" is relative.

If the orbit can be circularised, at 24,000 miles up they will take several thousand years to come down.

The main issue is not wasting too much fuel (needed for stationkeeping and solar pointing), although these do have ion thrusters.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Not surprising since they accelerated the lunch schedules

This was a test launch. The rest of the birds are going up on Ariane 5s

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EE accused of silencing customer gripes on social media pages

Alan Brown
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Re: One as bad as another

"They're still trying to charge me for the service even though I told them to terminate it when they broke it. Can't wait for my next call with them to explain that I won't pay for a service thay they're not providing."

The magic words are "unfit for purpose for which it was sold" and "material breach of contract"

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Securobods warn of wide open backdoor in Netis/Netcore routers

Alan Brown
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This kind of thing

Is why so many attacks seem to come from china (or residential DSL in various countries)

If you think the blackhats haven't been (ab)using such backdoors for a while you're sorely mistaken.

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Finally, a practical use for 3D printing: Helping surgeons rehearse

Alan Brown
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Re: Useful stuff

"Alternatively, in some cases the plate itself could be directly 3D-printed, not just used to fit a conventionally-made plate "

Once you get to that stage you could use artificial bone instead of plastic, for even better results.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Goth friends

Bugger the goths. I want one.

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That 8TB Seagate MONSTER? It's HERE... (You'll have to squint, 'cos there are no specs)

Alan Brown
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Re: Now you can lose 8TB of data in one shot instead of just 4!

I have a pair of momentus XT - they aren't unreliable, just slow (but faster than comparable laptop drives)

Unfortunately the _only_ maker who doesn't have abysmal reliability stats is hitachi and they've been borged. Spinning disk will die quickly once flash gets large enough.

A 8Tb enormodisk would be best suited as one of the SSHD range. 7200rpm is likely to be too fast for these things to handle.

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The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal

Alan Brown
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Re: For the ass clowns who don't understand...

What about the promotion of terrorism by bombing innocent bystanders whose only "crime" was to be in the general area of some suspected terorrists?

Arbitrarily killing someone's family via a button push is the fastest way I can think of to turn a perfectly reasonable human being into a revenge seeking maniac.

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Judge nixes HP deal for director amnesty after $8.8bn Autonomy snafu

Alan Brown
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Buying HP

At the moment buying any HP product for critical services looks like a stupid idea. It's turned into a purveyor of unreliable overpriced tat, with what appears to be a shaky financial foundation.

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Alan Brown
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Shopping gene

It's easy to sell to men - just add "moah powah"

The gene is equally distributed, just differently targetted.

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Brit Sci-Fi author Alastair Reynolds says MS Word 'drives me to distraction'

Alan Brown
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Model Ms

"IBM Model M here too. Nothing better. Mine was built in April 1988 and is still going strong."

You can still buy them, if you're willing to pay through the nose.

You can also buy Cherry G80 keyboards (aka MX3000) for a much more reasonable figure and they have as good a feel (although slightly quieter)

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Alan Brown
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Re: So what is wrong with...

real men use COPY CON

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Alan Brown
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Re: "Amish tell me that using computers is a sin"

"If I was in charge at Microsoft, which of course I am not, I would put the Amish onto designing the features of Word. No bloat at all, every part perfectly functional, and designed never to be obsolete."

You'd be fired in short order. Feature creep is necessary to keep selling updated versions.

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Alan Brown
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" I have tested with DOC and DOCX and Libre Office is several times slower doing pretty much anything - especially loading and saving."

Something to dowith having to import it into Open Document format and then reexport back to Doc, I imagine.

Try comparing Opendoc opening/closing.

DOC/DOCX is not a standard, it's a set of proprietary moving targets.

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Alan Brown
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Re: the challenge is the downstream publishing process

"Excel allowed accountants, sales and managers (who control company money, remember...) to do what would have required add-ons and complex setups in Lotus 1-2-3, "

Nothing to do with DOS being specifically tweaked to NOT run Lotus 1-2-3 then?

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Alan Brown
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Re: the challenge is the downstream publishing process

"MS's dominance of the writer, spreadsheet, and power point market is probably an even more odious result of their OS monopoly than killing Netscape was"

MS make far more money from their office products than the OS. They could _give_ windows away and still turn a massive profit just on office sales.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Personally ...

> First: Look up "typewriter".

More than a few SF authors preferred to write - using a pen (or in some cases, a crayon)

Given the entire thing had to be reentered by typesetters anyway (typed or handwritten), it didn't make a lot of difference to the end product.

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Alan Brown
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Re: Personally ...

"But for a complex technical document with tables, illustrations, and captions, you may not have the time to faff around trying to remember the Latex directives. So it is Libre Office or Word. "

As soon as it goes for publication the first thing that will happen to your document is that it gets fed into LaTeX for reformatting - if you don't want your stuff being buggered around with, use the right markup editor in the first place (where "right" = "what the printing industry uses")

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Alan Brown
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Re: @ Khaptain (was: Personally ...)

nano is derived from pico, which was a purpose built mail editor.

The keybindings are the same ones used by tcsh and the bourne shell- the idea being that people who were comfortable in a shell environment didn't have to learn yet another set of command strokes.

FWIW: Joe uses wordstar bindings by default but can switch to _any_ of the common text editors commands - something which keeps the jed diehards here very happy.

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