* Posts by Neil Barnes

2100 posts • joined 18 Apr 2007

Lenovo: We SWEAR we're done with bloatware, adware and scumware

Neil Barnes
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Re: Not just Lenovo

Y'know, I bought a computer. I didn't buy all the crap that came with it; I didn't ask for it; I don't want it.

Any computer you buy - and I mean *any*, I don't care what name is on the front - should be restorable to a bare-bones install of the OS and nothing else.

It is absolutely inexcusable that maker supplied software should be doing anything like the crap that Lenovo's crapware did.

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Assemblers were once people: My aunt did it for NASA

Neil Barnes
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Re: Damn!

Usenet: alt.folklore.computers (it's google groups now).

Where people like Dennis Ritchie used to hang out. It was always fun watching some new member arguing about some obscure point of C, and DRM would say his piece, and when asked what he knew about it would politely point out that he wrote it.

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Don't pay for the BBC? Then no Doctor Who for you, I'm afraid

Neil Barnes
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And yet you happily pay the fortune in advertising revenue that is levied on each and every purchase you make, whether or not you actually watch the bloody programme or use the products advertised?

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Telly Tax exit stage right!!

Indeed, but that's actually the biggest philosophical change. Previously the licence was for the reception of broadcasts (originally radio, then TV); it was never for owning the equipment. Also, the licence fee does *not* go to the BBC; it goes to central government funds who every three years agree a grant to the BBC which, by coincidence, closely tracks the licence revenue.

Charging to watch catchup - which has been a huge hole in the system - is effectively charging per device (or at least, per household).

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Neil Barnes
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If we can get rid of the crap

i.e. all the stuff made for the CDE group who allegedly don't watch it, it might be worth a subscription to keep BBC2, BBC4 and Radio 4 (with a little Radio 2 for seasoning).

But the presence of a conditional access system is fine if you already have one (e.g. cable or satellite) but not if half the population or more have to get the hardware - and of course the cost of a CA is a net drain as well.

A hypothecated tax - which is effectively what we have now - is surely the simplest method.

I wonder what happens to my pension if the BBC runs out of money?

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Intel's Atoms gain new (cosmetic) X-Factor

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

Premium, mainstream, value...

Remind me of the order of those in price and/or performance? 'Premium' is such a variable word.

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Bad dog! PrivDog chews HTTPS, hurls clear text

Neil Barnes
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Re: Personally

And anything with 'ad' in it, too...

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Google's Softcard hookup: Never mind Apple Pay ... it's about beating the networks

Neil Barnes
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Re: What you do, right...

Agreed - it's not always convenient. But there are also existing electronic payment schemes (e.g. debit and credit cards) and (still!) cheques for larger amounts.

My point, though, is that I feel a damn sight safer carrying around sufficient cash for the day than potentially all my life savings attached to a device which not only tracks my movements and activites but is also a target for both remote criminals and a prize for local theft too.

Money is fungible. When you start applying it to hardware, it becomes less so.

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Neil Barnes
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Holmes

What you do, right...

is you print some rectangular pieces of paper with the queen's head on one side, and a number representing a nominal 'value'. The client is issued these on demand by a 'bank' which debits his 'account', and places them in a 'wallet' to keep them safe. At the point of purchase, the client opens the 'wallet' and extracts sufficient pieces of paper to cover the required 'payment'. The retailer then aggregates all the pieces of paper which have been 'paid' through the day and takes them to the 'bank' which credits his account with their 'value'.

Let's see: it allows one to pay for anything, with good security. No one supplier can tell what else you have purchased, or which shop windows you looked in before arriving at their emporium. The exchange medium is light-weight and easy to transport; in the event of loss because it represents only a small fraction of the customer's actual worth it's annoying but does not require a complete new identity to be created, and if the customer buys a new wallet it's easy to transfer the pieces of paper without having to inform the wallet supplier, the bank, or anyone else.

What could possibly go wrong?

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SSL-busting adware: US cyber-plod open fire on Comodo's PrivDog

Neil Barnes
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Flame

Irrespective of any MITM issues

What on earth persuaded the makers that software to interrupt your browsing to insert advertisments was a good idea?

(Yes, this is my rant of the month.)

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'Utterly unusable' MS Word dumped by SciFi author Charles Stross

Neil Barnes
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And yet not one mention of LyX

That'll probably be because LyX is quite emphatic about the difference between presentation and content, so people think it's *hard*?

What Word has done is trained a generation of users who have never learned the difference between the two. Although it has had for years the capability of requiring the use of a style it does not have the ability to mandate it. Further, it is a program which I strongly suspect most people are never taught; instead, they're sat in front of it and told to get on with it... which is never going to end well.

The fact that probably ninety-five percent of the users never use more than a tiny fraction of its capabilities no doubt adds to the mess.

And of course, what Word does, Libre/Free Office also have to do, because people expect similar functionality instead of sensibly looking at what they (the users) actually do and finding a program that just does that.

As M0rt demonstrates above, Word in an immensely complex program with dozens of ways of achieving the result, many of which are either surprising then next time you use them or just plain wrong.

So yes, I'm with Charlie - a plague on all their houses!

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AMD's new Carrizo: The x86 notebook processor that thinks it's a GPU

Neil Barnes
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I'm guessing

they're looking at the tablet/chromebook market here?

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: El Reg eggs Benedict

Neil Barnes
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Re: Just for clarification?

Thanks guys - just had a 'doh' moment and realised its cornmeal.

As you say, in the UK polenta seems to arrive in a slab. I already use semolina as a non-stick for some breads.

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Neil Barnes
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Just for clarification?

Is what you refer to as 'polenta' that which in the UK is available as 'semolina'? It looks very similar.

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Superfish: Lenovo? More like Lolnono – until they get real on privacy

Neil Barnes
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An acceptable balance between privacy, security, advertising and so forth

And there's the rub: there isn't one.

There is no way that any person with any understanding of the issues will ever accept any compromise on any of these points. Eroding privacy and security for the mindless drivel of advertising is never acceptable, under any circumstance.

Problem is, Joe Public doesn't know the issues. He's happy to run a browser that lets external parties log his browsing activities, that pops up down and sideways with advertising, that holds records of his activities which are accessible to other external parties. He runs operating systems that allow the automatic installation of programs designed to do either direct harm to him, or which allow the remote control of his computer by unfriendly parties. He visits sites which have themselves been polluted by unfriendly parties, collecting viruses and trojans along the way. He installs software and updates without thinking, because that's what you do, and doesn't really care about the other stuff they install on the fly. He answers yes to 'are you sure' because he has no way of deciding any better. If he's smarter, he accepts the reduction in speed and utility caused by necessary anti-virus programs (but he still doesn't really know what a virus is).

And none of this can be cured. You can't expect Joe Public to understand the whys and wherefores of computer operation any more than you can expect him to understand how an engine works, just because he can drive. Computer systems are an order of magnitude more complex than any other single object with which we deal on an everyday basis, but we expect them to be simple to use and infallible.

Even for the experts, we can't trust a shiny new out of the box computer: for example, is there something on the hard drive controller logic that's lying to us? I don't see an easy way to avoid that, because everything reads the first few blocks of the disc to get started and there's no guarantee that what is on the disc is what is delivered to you. Worse, is there something in the BIOS, something that sits there watching for input on bottom level ports - keyboard, mouse, the disk interfaces and so on? We'd never know...

The whole issue is one of trust, and at the moment, there just isn't any. Even products which you may have trusted for years (and incidentally been told that you *must* upgrade regularly, probably best to leave the automatic upgrade on, eh?) are sold to other companies who have their own idea about how to monetise their new acquisition and start adding little bits here and there.

There is a need for a guaranteed clean installation: bios, hardware, operating system. You'd still have to take things on trust, of course, but you'd reduce the threat surface immeasurably by simply requiring, as a legal requirement, that any computing product be supplied with a clean operating system with no third party addenda. No trial run software, no useful browser bars, no free-for-a-month. Nothing. Note that this need not be part of the out-of-the-box build (except for the hardware); it need only be available when the box is opened on a physical media which can be used as often as necessary.

Someone pointed out upthread that people will complain that they are paying for less. They are mistaken; they are paying for security - even if they don't realise it.

It's time people realised that there are other ways of funding things than endless chains of advertisers' clickbait. The bottom-feeding scum that are advertisers need to learn that their endless attempts to steal our most limited resource - time - are not acceptable. And perhaps get an honest job.

</rant>

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For pity's sake, you FOOL! DON'T UPGRADE it will make it WORSE

Neil Barnes
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My flabber is ghasted

Not that the imbeciles actually implemented this steaming pile of poo, but that they didn't consider the needs of their primary users at the earliest possible time - when they first started thinking about it. Y'know, where all the project management books say things like 'stakeholder' and 'consultation' and 'specification'... idiots.

Though of course the problem goes a lot further back than that: if there were, say, a standard mechanism for transferring something as simple as text transparently between different systems and that works for all scripts/languages? Wait, UTF-8 or -16, that'll do the job.

Now if only some well-known company hadn't built a wordmangler processor that couldn't tell the difference between content and presentation, and taught an entire generation of users that they should change the style of each and every bloody character, and as a result produced huge and incomprehensibly incompatible file formats...

Not mentioning any names, but *that's* where the problem is. After thirty years you'd have think we'd have sorted out inter-system compatibility.

</rant>

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Want a MEEELLION-year data storage? Use DNA of course

Neil Barnes
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And once it's in a suitable carrier

You could graft it onto, say, a human genome?

Could be a bit embarrassing if in a few years, someone did a genome scan and found the copyright notice.

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Ads! People! love! ads! in! their! apps! Please! use! ours! cries! Yahoo!

Neil Barnes
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Stop

No! Possible! Comment!

Except, no, actually.

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So long, Lenovo, and no thanks for all the super-creepy Superfish

Neil Barnes
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Stop

What is it with advertisers?

They seem to have acquired the mindset that anything I buy, anything I use, anything I watch, anything I even look at should be a channel for advertising.

For things I don't need, want, or have any intention of buying.

It's not difficult, boys. Advertising *doesn't* work; if it did, there'd be nothing on the shelves and we'd all have six cars. So stop buggering about trying to attract my attention because I don't have one.

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Expired router cache sends Google Cloud Engine TITSUP

Neil Barnes
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Remind me again

about 100% uptime and availability, and why I should move to the cloud?

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TV Idol star's keyboard upstart idolizes our gear too much – BlackBerry

Neil Barnes
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WTF?

Question is - why is this a patent case?

Copyright, trademark, look'n'feel, yes - but are Blackberry suggesting that a keyboard is a patentable device? They've obviously persuaded the US patent office, but I'm sure there's plenty of prior art.

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IT knowledge is as important as Maths, says UK.gov

Neil Barnes
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FAIL

Re: It does seem rather wonderful

@launcap

Indeed. There's a difference between learning to drive, learning how to operate the machines that make a car, knowing the metalurgy to deal with what a car is made of, knowing the regulations under which a car should operate, and indeed learning to strip an engine and replace the main bearings.

I strongly suspect that what is being touted as 'IT skills' is firmly in the 'learning to drive' class and to be honest that should be in the learning to write and spell, and maths at the 'adds, takeaways, timeses, and guzintas' level. Though looking at current GCSE, that's where they are coming *out* of secondary school, while I can't help feeling it should be what they know on the way *in*.

Anyone else notice the 'hinderance' (sic) from the Head of GDS User Research's tweet on the GOV.UK. thread?

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Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

It does seem rather wonderful

that there is no definition in the reports I have heard and seen saying just what 'IT' means...

I'm old enough to remember being offered (and turning down) 'Computing' lessons at school which would have been more properly entitled 'Data Entry Clerk' lessons.

These days the equivalent seems to still be Data Entry Clerk except that instead of a VT102, it's all Excel and Word (other office suites are available, but need not apply).

Whereas IT skills covers everything from basic physics/electronics through to network topology and queueing theory, RF distribution models, IC design, schematic capture and layout design, construction methods, logic, interface design, knowledge of a whole bunch of protocols and programming languages, formal proof, database management, distributed systems, intrusion detection *and* microsoft solitaire. Seems a bit mean to expect kids to learn all that at the same time they're failing to learn English and Maths.

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PENGUINS are just TASTELESS, say boffins

Neil Barnes
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Linux

Believe me

If I had to eat what penguins eat I wouldn't want to be able to taste it, either!

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Game of Moans: Sky coughs to BORKED set top box BALLS-UP

Neil Barnes
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FAIL

Which bit is broken?

The 39% owned by Rupert, or the remaining 61%?

Just curious...

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Boffins baffled by the glowing 'plumes' of MARS

Neil Barnes
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Boffin

Slightly baffled by aurora comments

Doesn't that require a magnetic field (which Mars doesn't have much of, if any) and a big burp from the sun, which would have been observed?

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It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Neil Barnes
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Re: Comment isn't free

People simply do not make rational choices in terms of 'the market'. The market exists not to provide goods at the lowest possible price but the highest price at which the marketeer can get away with... i.e. the point at which increasing the price would reduce the profit.

Proof? People buy on intangibles; on perceived values; on brand image; on status: why do I prefer a Breguet watch (which I can't afford) to a ticka-ticka-Timex? They both do the same thing (and a five pound electronic movement will probably do it *better* than a mechanical watch).

The job of the marketeer is not to sell widgets but to persuade people that they need a different widget with a higher profit component.

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Neil Barnes
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Re: Let me get this right:

This is the classic economists' answer: what is the value of your time?

If I was not working otherwise, I was not earning. The value of the time is zero.

To value 'free time' is a category error: all you can say for such a value is that you might prefer to do one free time activity than another during it. I like baking, I like paragliding, I like building cars and meeting friends and eating out. These are not mutually exclusive activities, and oddly enough I price none of them.

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Neil Barnes
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Let me get this right:

If I buy flour, grow a sourdough using natural airborne yeasts, and bake my own bread at 40p a loaf, versus buying a similar loaf for a couple of quid (I note that there is *no* valid comparison between my home-made loaf and the similarly priced 'value' load) then I'm getting poorer?

I don't think so...

Am I better off than my parents? Yes. Than my grandparents? Without a doubt. But the argument that individuals choosing to make their own products, when they have the skills, knowledge, resources, and above all desire to do so are making society poorer? No.

Market forces are often said to find the lowest price for a good. I think this is not the case; instead they seek to find the highest price at which they can get away with. The loaf of bread for two quid sells at two quid not because it costs two quid but because that's the price point at which the reseller thinks if he goes above, he's going to have stock left on the shelves at the end of the day. If the home maker at retail prices can do it for under forty pence, and the all in price for a value loaf including stocking, distribution and all the rest of it is around forty pence, then this 'artisan' loaf could be the same - but it obviously isn't.

That's an example, of course, where the ingredients, the process, and the ability are well known - and yet, we still see bakeries on the high street and in the supermarkets.

If I wanted to make my own smartphone, well, I probably have the skills to put the raw parts together, but I certainly couldn't even begin to design the components, nor construct them: that requires billion dollar plant. So building my own phone isn't going to be practical, and won't affect the market thereof - but I might put the parts together in a new and exciting way, and create my own market.

There will never be enough people doing their own thing to affect a bulk market; encouraging people so to do is no sin.

Though most of the Green policies are not things with which I would agree, I don't have a problem with this one.

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Want to find LOVE online? Make sure your name is high up in the alphabet

Neil Barnes
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Paris Hilton

Re: "Incidentally, women find a man more attractive when they see other women smiling at him "

It's not just other women; a new girlfriend many years ago became much more clingy (and highly amused) when a couple of guys tried to chat me up...

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W3C turns BROWSERS into VIBRATORS

Neil Barnes
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Coat

"And keep them clean, please."

Well, you'd have to, wouldn't you? I'd think it might be awfully unhygienic otherwise...

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UN negotiations menaced by THOUSANDS of TOPLESS LADIES with MAYONNAISE

Neil Barnes
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Topless ladies with mayonnaise?

Are these ladies available for parties, weddings, wakes, and other celebrations that might just need a little cheering up?

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Never mind, Samsung, GOOGLE will EAVESDROP as you browse on Chrome

Neil Barnes
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The trouble is

that things which should be processed locally aren't, or can't yet be, and are sent off into the ether without so much as a by-your-leave (other than the obligatory and confusing small print).

I don't like any 'helpful' service that does something without my explicit and timely consent. I don't like location services and keep it turned off (odd how the 'remember this answer' box is greyed out if you choose *not* to keep it turned on at all times!), I don't like contactless cash cards, and I don't like the thought of random chunks of conversation being transmitted either.

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Samsung: Our TVs? SPYING on you? HA HA! Whee! Just a JOKE of course

Neil Barnes
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Re: The Sneaky Samsung Plan

Count me amongst the Luddites, then.

All I want the TV to do is display pictures. Not even change channel from the external input, or mess around with the contrast/brightness/colour, after initial setup.

At the moment, the only control I use on the TV remote is the on-off.

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Hacker hijack 'threat': Your car's security is Adobe Flash-grade BAD

Neil Barnes
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WTF?

Re: Anyone else get the feeling...

Funnily enough, the entertainment stuff in my Fiat Bravo is by a well-known Redmond software company. And yes, every now and then I have to stop the car and start it again to make everything work (though I don't have to close all the windows).

I do rather prefer the 1995 Coupe Fiat I've had twenty years and am currently rebuilding; just three ECUs, and the one that matters I can get inside and read the assembly code if I have to (I hacked the comms protocols years ago).

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$10,000 Ethernet cable promises BONKERS MP3 audio experience

Neil Barnes
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Nope...

One idiot customer, and one cynical and rather smart provider.

Which is no doubt excellent business ethics, but I'm sure Churchill's observation applies: "We've already established what you are, Madam. We're just trying to agree a price."

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Neil Barnes
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Re: HiFi Power cords

Hum on an audio power supply says nothing about the input cable and everything about the power supply designer: he doesn't know how to design power supplies.

We won't even discuss amplifiers which can't reject power supply noise...

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Neil Barnes
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Now Dan, *you* know that and *I* know that and most of the people who post here know that... but we are not the people at whom these products are aimed.

We, after all, are conditioned by 'the machine' to be unable to discern such fine musical details as presence, colour, and pace... technical knowledge, even if informed by, say, thirty years in the industry, is no substitute for golden ears.

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Smartphones don’t dumb you down, they DUMB you UP

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

where I art be ?

Alistair, I have no problem with you navigating by the intestines of kine, for I always knew you to be a smart lad, but for that egregious insult to the native tongue, you must sit in the corner and play with your dongs for the rest of the day!

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Ofcom can prise my telly spectrum from my COLD, DEAD... er, aerial

Neil Barnes
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Re: "Broadcast is efficient"

Well, the graph presented in the article suggests that there *is* rather a large number of people who want to receive the same thing at the same time - around 94% of the population of Europe who have a TV in the house.

So why not let DTT die; do away with a massively popular public good for the benefit of that tiny minority who can't wait for the next episode of the latest fad can clog the available bandwidth with multiple copies of the same data.

D-sat is an option - provided that the same data rate is provided to the receiver and that the viewer has both the ability and the permission to place a dish on his property. Which is by no means always the case.

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Still using Adobe Flash? Oh well, get updating: 15 hijack flaws patched

Neil Barnes
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Linux should update to Adobe Flash Player 11.2.202.442.

Hmmm. Mint threw a Flash update at me this morning (seems like it's been doing it every couple of days for a month) and now the Flash is 11.2.202.438... I guess I'm still one behind the curve.

Let's see what happens later today.

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Sony Android tellies get YouView makeover

Neil Barnes
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"picture search functionality will be popular in the home to view all kinds of erections."

I hate to ask...

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ALIENS are surely AMONG US: Average star has TWO potentially Earth-like worlds

Neil Barnes
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Re: It's a long way to the chemist...

Meh. As long as Lewis has his towel, he'll be fine.

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Zoinks! Is that Mystery Machine Apple's SELF-DRIVING FAMILY WAGON? You decide

Neil Barnes
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Paris Hilton

Whose maps will Apple use to navigate?

Theirs, Google's, or some third party's?

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Bluetooth-enabled miracle washing orbs? Are you kidding?

Neil Barnes
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Headmaster

Sir, Sir!

Lester's shrinking his water molecule clusters again, Sir! Tell him, Sir!

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Zimmermann slams Cameron’s ‘absurd’ plans for crypto ban

Neil Barnes
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Black Helicopters

Re: They are overlooking an opportunity

You forgot 'with keys in escrow'. Just in case.

Because of *course* the escrow holders can be trusted, right?

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BY JUPITER: The science behind Friday's Solar System light show

Neil Barnes
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Been a good month for planets

Venus is still the brightest thing around in the south-west an hour after sunset, Saturn just before sunrise; Mercury and Mars are hanging around somewhere close to Venus (though Mercury shifts like a scalded cat!) and Jupiter's been behaving too. All the five classical planets in one night.

Of course, there's a full moon (and not that far from Jupiter) tonight just to bugger everything up...

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: Sizzling sag aloo

Neil Barnes
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Pint

Re: Delicious

We had it for lunch today - along with the masala omelette - with a bloody great gammon joint.

Unconventional perhaps, but four thumbs up from four of us.

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You must have at least 8 inches for Windows 10 to go all the way

Neil Barnes
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I'm seeing nothing to persuade me to change back to windows

I run W7 at work and occasionally in a VM but *for my use cases* I don't see anything that would make me change back to Windows. W10 just doesn't seem to offer anything beyond a more complex UI.

Indeed, one of the questions I'm looking for in new hardware reviews (particularly for laptops) is whether, and how easily, Linux can be installed. It's just a bit annoying having to buy Windows just to throw it away.

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Super-cookie crumbles: Verizon vows to kill off hated zombie stalkers

Neil Barnes
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Re: Weasel words

Can we have an El Reg poll please?

1) I want to see random adverts, the bigger and flashier the better; there's nothing more attractive to me than a random clickbait site.

2) I want to see adverts based on the sites I've visited and previous purchases I've made; I just bought a fridge but hey, I could sure use another.

3) I can cope with the occasional subtle no-sound no-picture no-animation advert; it doesn't need to track me because I like surprises.

4) As above, but hey, track me. I hate surprises.

5) I came here for the content; I don't want to see adverts unless I search for them.

6) Advertisers are the spawn of the devil and should be cast to the bottomless depths of the ocean.

Inquiring minds want to know!

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