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* Posts by Brangdon

153 posts • joined 15 Sep 2008

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Hey frumious Reg gamers: BANG-or-SNATCH? We look at Second Son and Thief

Brangdon

Re: Thief

Story is weak, and the game really isn't as good as the review implies. You can only jump or climb if the game has decided those actions make sense there, and you can only use rope arrows in marked places. It's frustrating how often plausible routes turn out not to have been thought of by the designers.

On the other hand, it's better than some other reviews. Dishonored is more fun, but at least Thief is a genuine sneaker. Dishonored devotes too much of the UI and game-play to combat.

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Facebook Oculus VR buyout: IT WANTS your EYEBALLS

Brangdon

Re: wow

Why repay? The Kickstarter folk were promised an early dev kit, which they were given, and that's the end of their involvement. People confuse funding via Kickstarter with buying shares. Kickstarter is used by companies that want money and don't want to give up their shares or control to get it.

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No Notch niche: Minecraft man in rift with Oculus after Facebook gobble

Brangdon

Sony have already said theirs won't be available in 2014, and Microsoft seem even further away.

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Revealed: What the US taxman really thinks of crypto-cash Bitcoin

Brangdon

When you buy bitcoin from a reputable exchange, it will be subject to Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering laws, so the coins are known to belong to you. Every transaction afterwards is published in the block-chain, which anyone can access. So bitcoin is actually very traceable, at least compared to cash. Whether anyone will bother is another matter, but if you get audited the data trail exists and can be used, either for you or against you.

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

Brangdon

And adverts. Don't forget the adverts.

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O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Friday is Pi Day

Brangdon

Re: Like so many other web stories, this only applies to America.

Teach the controversy!

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I NEVER DONE BITCOIN, says bloke fingered by new Newsweek

Brangdon

Re: This is interesting

The Bitcoin protocol does not have any notion of "stolen", and nor does it have any central authority that could label coins as such. (Such an authority would have enormous power, and power corrupts; Bitcoin was invented as a distributed mechanism precisely to avoid such centralised power). Hence coins which one person claims are stolen, can still be freely traded under the Bitcoin protocol.

In theory you might try to reclaim stolen coins using conventional legal means. That would require identifying who currently possesses the coins so they can be reclaimed. That can be tricky because the coins are stored in (effectively) a numbered account and there is no registry that maps account numbers to real-world names and addresses. So for example, if the thief uses stolen coins to order a pizza, you might be able to discover the address the pizza was delivered to. That would require the cooperation of the pizza vendor; and if the thief holds onto the coins for 10 years without spending them there is little you can do for that long. Alternatively, you might be able to discover the IP address the coins were acquired through. Generally, there are things you can try, but there are also things the thief can do to defeat you. Identifying a Bitcoin thief requires technical know-how and resources (or a stupid thief).

In addition to technical challenges, you would have to prove the coins were stolen in some court that has jurisdiction. Lots of legal issues there. Arguably if the thief did not have good legal title to the coins, they couldn't pass good title to the pizza vendor, and you could reclaim the coins from him (much as you could reclaim a stolen car even if the current possessor had bought it in good faith; it would still be your car and your bitcoins). However, it's not clear Bitcoin works like that; cash doesn't, and Bitcoin was intended to work as cash, with transactions being irreversible.

Some of the sums involved in recent thefts are large enough that I would expect all legal and technical avenues to be pursued in recovering them. So maybe MtGox will get its coins back. It won't be quick, though.

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Brit Bitcoin dev: I lost 'over £200k' when MtGox popped its socks

Brangdon

Re: Suck It Berkshire Hathaway

You can already get insured storage of bitcoin. Eg https://www.elliptic.co/. They charge 2%/year. Presumably the rates will improve as they gain confidence with their security, and competition grows.

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Bitcoin value plunges as Mt.Gox halts withdrawals and Russia says 'nyet'

Brangdon
Boffin

Re: Aren't transactions rather slow?

You can verify that a transaction has valid input and outputs, that the inputs contain the money specified, and that the signatures are correct so it is the owner of the coin that is spending them. You can do that yourself, locally, and it takes almost no time.

What that quick verification doesn't protect you from is double-spending. If the punter has a mate in a different country who tries to spend the same coin at the same time, only one of them will succeed, and it may not be the one who spent first (because "first" depends on network delays). Waiting 10 minutes mitigates that risk, and waiting for 6*10 minute confirmations generally makes it negligible. For small transactions, the risk of double-spending is low because the benefit is low, and its tricky to set up and you risk the wrong transaction winning anyway, and if it succeeds you probably won't be allowed in the pub again, so you might as well just do a runner instead.

Eventually vendors will probably be able to get insurance against double-spending, and we may even get "green-listed" bitcoin addresses which some trusted entity promises will not double-spend. There is still a role for banks, insurance companies and credit card companies in bitcoin, if/when they want to get involved.

(I don't know what that pub actually does.)

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Facebook app now reads your smartphone's text messages? THE TRUTH

Brangdon

Re: One does not have to be on Zuck-book

I'm not there either. I still have a Facebook app pre-loaded on my phone, which I can't uninstall. Now it repeatedly asks for updates, which I repeatedly refuse. The nagging is annoying.

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Feds to flog off $28m in Bitcoin from Silk Road drug souk seizure

Brangdon

Re: This is just the first barrage aimed at the Bitcoin system.

This is not aimed at Bitcoin. It's aimed at illegal uses of Bitcoin. These coins are being treated no different to any other asset of a criminal enterprise. They're probably auctioning the server hardware too.

The Feds like Bitcoin. Check out the Senate hearing. They can see the benefits as well as anyone.

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Pay-by-bonk on the blink: O2 loses Wallet

Brangdon

Re: Wallet crippled by lack of NFC.

I want Pay By Bonk on my watch. It doesn't belong in a phone, because getting a phone out of you pocket isn't any easier than getting your wallet out. (By all means use the phone as a UI for the watch, though.)

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Ross Ulbricht: 'Oi! Give me back my $34m in Silk Road Bitcoin booty'

Brangdon

Re: strange...

@Mike Moyle: he said "many of them", not "all of them", so a few exceptions don't refute his point. And although gold etc has been used in the past, more recent history shows that many currencies moved off the gold standards because it is problematic. (Although not because gold has intrinsic value, but because governments found themselves unable to regulate its supply. They really want inflation to run at 2%/year or so, which is easy to arrange by printing more money but hard to arrange by mining more gold.)

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XBOX ONE owners rage as HDMI SNAFU 'judders' Brit and Euro tellies

Brangdon

Re: Tellies can handle 60Hz input

That's my understanding too. (I don't have an XBox to check.) Apparently the juddering is most noticeable when the TV is outputting smoothly scrolling text, and when the 50Hz TV input is snapped alongside a 60Hz game. The XBox repeats every 5th frame, which some people notice and others don't.

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Twitter announces it's going public, via Twitter

Brangdon
Facepalm

Re: And that's the end of Twitter

It's been going for long enough to show you were wrong to dismiss it as a fad. And of course it won't improve your life if you don't use it. It improves my life by providing news and entertainment.

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Anatomy of a killer bug: How just 5 characters can murder iPhone, Mac apps

Brangdon
Boffin

Re: Signed lengths

Unsigned integers are best avoided in C (and C-derived languages like C++ and Objective-C) because they are contagious. For example, (1u - 2) is not -1 as you might expect, but some huge number.

It's also useful to have -1 available to represent "no such number"; for example, the length of a file that doesn't exist. Use 0 would be wrong because it's a legitimate value. More generally, having invalid representations adds redundancy which can help error checking.

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TiVo dives into pile of cash, steely eyed investors don't blink

Brangdon
FAIL

The TiVo software feels ancient

For me it's a bit bizarre how well TiVo are doing, given how archaic their platform is for the user. The UI is unbelievably slow. 9 seconds to redraw a screen. Scrolling through menus, it can't keep up with button clicks. It's also flakey; roughly one time in four the EPG won't give programme details are allow me to request a new recording. Some of the UI is in HD and some isn't. TiVo has its own app platform, but they live in a separate ghetto off the main menu which is rarely visited, and they don't integrate into the TV experience.

This standard may have been acceptable 11 years ago when I got my Series 1, but is shocking if you compare it to the experience from a modern smartphone. (Speaking of which, they've been promising us an Android app for years, but it's still not available.) Now we see the XBox One can snap its apps over the TV feed, it just rubs in how far TiVo is from what it could be.

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Snowden journo's boyfriend 'had crypto key for thumb-drive files written down' - cops

Brangdon

Guardian learning?

They apparently didn't learn anything from the last time. It was a Guardian journalist who published the password to 250,000 unredacted US government cables.

Admittedly he didn't know the password for his file would unlock the "insurance" file, and WikiLeaks are at fault for reusing passwords (another basic fail), but he shouldn't have published the password anyway. Just knowing the general form that WikiLeaks uses (eg, that it contained a date in verbose format), would help someone trying to crack other WikiLeaks files. (See http://www.wikileaks.org/Guardian-journalist-negligently.html.)

Whether this justifies the interference with the press is another matter.

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Xbox 180: Microsoft scraps mandatory Kinect policy

Brangdon

The PS4 has a more powerful GPU, with capacity to spare for non-graphics tasks. It has faster memory, with more of it available to games. Its internal hard-disk can be upgraded by the user. It's $100 cheaper. There's probably more that I forget.

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Xbox One users will have to pay extra for Skype and gamer-gratifying DVR

Brangdon

@But Kinect 2 is far more powerful than anything the PS4 has in that space

But is it powerful enough? Few of us have had a chance to use it. John Carmack says it is (a) laggy; (b) like using a no-button mouse. I gather it can track arm positions, but not fingers, so no good way to "click" at a point. I hope it turns out to be better than it sounds, but currently it does not appear to be an asset worth paying the extra money for even if you liked that kind of thing.

Sony have always responded to the problem by, in effect, cheating and solving an easier problem. Their old Eye controller had a big sphere on it, so the camera could recognise it from any angle and deduce distance from its size. The new controller has bar light on it with known shape and colour, to similarly make life easier for the system. PS4 may be "less powerful", but if it works more effectively in real living rooms, it could be the better option.

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Surface RT: A plan worthy of the South Park Underpants Gnomes

Brangdon

Re: x86 binaries...

It would have helped if they'd not locked down the desktop. I work for a software house. If we could have got our apps running on RT by just by recompiling them for ARM, we'd have seriously considered it. If it meant tweaking the UI to make it more finger-friendly, that might have been worth the effort too. Porting to a whole new API is much more work, and correspondingly harder to justify.

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Worldwide smartwatch shipments predicted to top 5 million next year

Brangdon

It's for RFID

Using your phone for RFID payments is pointless because it's in your pocket, and if you have to get it out of your pocket you might as well get your wallet out instead. RFID belongs in a watch, so you can just push your hand close to the sensor until it vibrates to let you know it worked.

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Microsoft's next device could be a Surface Watch

Brangdon
Go

Re: Do people really want a smart watch?

I want one. For me the killer feature will be using it to pay for small transactions with RFID. This requires a watch with RFID, secure enough to use for money, plus a nation-wide infrastructure of vendors accepting such payments, and the apps and agreements in-place for the watch. Many of the current smart watches don't have RFID at all. Sony's does, but it's not much use to me without the trusted apps and infrastructure.

Other necessary features include long battery life, and/or wireless charging; and things like unlocking my phone automatically when it is within inches of the watch, and sounding an alarm if it gets more than a few feet away.

It'll come. It's just not here yet, and until it is, smart watches will only sell to a few early adopters.

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Snowden: 'Hey, Assange, any more room on Ecuador's sofa?'

Brangdon

He's accused of having sex with an unconscious woman, knowing she wouldn't have consented had she been awake. A British judge has reviewed the case and agreed this would be considered rape under UK law. It's not just "some bad translation".

Had he remained in Sweden after being told they wanted to question him a second time, it probably would have blown over quickly. Instead he fled Sweden to here, and then jumped bail here. That's why there's been a big reaction. Entirely because of his actions.

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My bleak tech reality: You can't trust anyone or anything, anymore

Brangdon

DropBox?

What's wrong with using an open-source offline password manager (such as KeePass) with the password database protected with a long pass-phrase, plus a file synchronisation service (such as DropBox) to replicate it across all the devices you need it on?

You can verify that KeePass never talks to the network, and DropBox never sees unencrypted passwords. The worst that DropBox can do is give your encrypted database to the Feds, but if you have used a long enough pass-phrase they won't be able to break it. One long pass-phrase is easier to remember than dozens of shorter ones.

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Microsoft brings back Windows watch after Apple seeks 'flexible' bod

Brangdon

Re: Compelling reasons for a smart watch?

For me the compelling feature is likely to be NFC. Having to get your phone out to buy stuff is not much easier than having to get your wallet out, but your watch is already out.

Your list of drawbacks are just pessimistic assumptions. There is no more need for a smart watch to blank its display than for a normal (digital) watch. Blanking it does not save much power.

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Brangdon

The Pebble watch has minimal features and only lasts a week. It also adds drain to your phone battery. Mostly from keeping the Bluetooth connection alive at both ends.

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Gartner: RIP PCs - tablets will CRUSH you this year

Brangdon

Re: makes sense

Plus perhaps a console, for more serious game playing. For many home users, it's the desire to play demanding games that drives the purchase, or upgrade, of a new PC every few years. Next year we'll have a new generation of consoles, and I'd expect those to eat into home PCs even more. (Admittedly some people will always prefer keyboard and mouse over hand-held controller.)

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After Leveson: The UK gets an Orwellian Ministry of Truth for real

Brangdon
Unhappy

Re: Don't bring Lucy Meadows into this...

Whether or not she took her life because of the press is irrelevant. The press should not have hounded her. Having done so, they should not have got away with it. She made numerous complaints. It's an important example partly because it is so recent, and shows that even now the press aren't able to regulate themselves.

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Samsung: We're doing smart watches too

Brangdon
Go

Re: I have no idea what a smartwatch is meant to do

NFC belongs in a watch, not a phone. Paying for stuff by pushing your wrist against a sensor is easier than getting your wallet/phone out of your pocket. Unlike a card, it can beep/vibrate for every transaction so the money never goes out with out you knowing. The smart phone can do the rich UI (setting maximum transaction value without PIN, etc).

Other key uses include having your phone unlock automatically when it is held in your hand, and having the phone or watch alert if they become separated by more than a few feet.

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Curiosity succeeds – Mars was wet enough for life!

Brangdon
Unhappy

Re: What Are We Waiting For?

If you think a Mars government would be any better you need to look up "hydraulic despotism" in your history books.

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Redmond slashing Win8, Office OEM rates for small devices

Brangdon

Re: Dr Frankenstein

True. Are you saying that Dr Frankenstein looked good in a dress?

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Linus Torvalds in NSFW Red Hat rant

Brangdon

Re: Is this really Torvalds' position?

He's not changed his tune. What he's rejected in the thread is adding cruft to the kernel when it's not needed because, "What you mention we can already do, and we already do it *better*" via standard X.509

certificates.

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Singaporean men in naked web cam extortion scam

Brangdon
Angel

Re: So, the jist of the problem is...

I expect she'd chat with you for a few days first, so she wouldn't be a stranger by the time you got naked.

People have relationships online. Cybersex sometimes include video. Sometimes the fool is the one who is unable to trust.

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Brangdon
Unhappy

They'd only show your half of the conversation, and say you thought you were video chatting to a 14-year-old girl at the time. That's all it would take to get you pilloried by the internet as a paedophile.

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Dish boss on ad-skipping service: 'I don’t want to kill ads'

Brangdon

Re: Skipping ads used to be better

Tivo has a 30-second skip. To skip 2 minutes of ads, press the button 4 times. It's really not that hard to figure out.

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iPhones, tablets... Pah: By 2020, we'll froth over hot new SOFTWEAR

Brangdon

Re: How many shirts do you own?

It could be your watch. I wear the same watch whatever clothes I'm wearing.

It's limited because its display is small and it can't talk wirelessly other displays, and because it can't afford much battery power. Those things will change with NFC and wireless charging, and Moores Law.

I'd probably accept a somewhat thicker and heavier wrist band if it had more functionality. If, for example, it replaced my house and car keys with a secure wireless lock, and if it could be used to pay for stuff without me needing to get my wallet or phone out.

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Razzies set to torpedo pop minx Rihanna's Battleship

Brangdon

Re: I do not want to sound like

Retribution was rubbish - and I like more other films in the franchise. I didn't think Milla was especially bad in it, though. The plot was so poor and the characterisation so thin that the actors had no chance.

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Time has already run out for smart watches

Brangdon

Re: not done right

Charging should become less of an issue with decent wireless charging. Most people take their watch off when going to bed anyway, and whatever nightstand they dump it on should charge it, without them having to think about it or mess around with cables.

That said, the longer life the better, of course.

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Wireless charger posse smacks down rival in EXPLICIT video

Brangdon

Re: Underwhelmed!

Eventually docks will become wireless too. There's a critical point where both connectivity and charging can be done wirelessly and at a range of 40cm or so. Sit down at a desk, and the keyboard and monitor connect to your phone (or tablet) automagically. You can run CPU-intensive tasks (including the wireless connection itself) and not have to worry about the power that uses because of the wireless charging.

If someone gets all the bits sorted out and working nicely, I think it will be compelling. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple was the first to do it, as that sort of unified vision is what they do well. On the other hand, it is also the vision that led Microsoft to unify their mobile and desktop operating systems, and they potentially have a unique advantage there. (Obviously Windows 8 isn't there yet; this stuff needs up to 5 years more work.)

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Police use 24/7 power grid recordings to spot doctored audio

Brangdon

Re: Heard this one on R4 yesterday...

I think you are missing the difference between identifying the date and time from scratch, and verifying a date and time claimed by the witness. The latter is surely a lot easier as you are just comparing two signals for equality. Even if the witness time is approximate, you'll have a relatively small range of samples to compare against.

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Frack me! UK shale gas bonanza 'bigger than North Sea oil'

Brangdon

Re: there's still water coming out of my tap

Water is relatively easy to store. There's no good way to store electricity in bulk. The best is probably to pump water up a hill and let it flow down again later, but even that needs a supply of hills that you don't mind ruining with the big reservoir.

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PM demands media clean-up, not keen on doing much himself

Brangdon
Thumb Down

Re: Come on

Cable let it be known he opposed News Corp. Hunt let it be known he favoured them. Cable was sacked and replaced by Hunt. Both were known to be biased, but in opposite directions.

There's no evidence that Cable let his private views affect his decisions. There is some evidence that Hunt did; he appointed Michel and let him leak "absolutely illegal” material on the bid to News Corp. However, this is circumstantial. Hunt escaped because he had plausible deniability; his underling Michel took most of the blame.

Finally, it's worth noting that Cable was correct. Eventually the scandals meant News Corp had to withdraw. So Cable arguably was not prejudiced but had merely reached a judgement based on merit.

In a situation like this, the man at the top can avoid giving explicit orders. Michel knew the views of his boss Hunt. Hunt knew the views of his boss Cameron.

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Slideshow: A History of Horror in 20 Scary Games

Brangdon
Devil

Re: Someone needs to mention Thief

Have you played the third game? The game is supposed to be a first-person sneaker where darkness is your friend, and someone dropped a survival horror level into the middle of it. ("The Cradle".) Awesome.

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Bond's Walther PPK goes digital: A civilized gun updated

Brangdon

Re: Bond's options were limited.

That the 00 prefix represented a licence to kill, is mentioned in the book Goldfinger, in 1956.

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Salesforce CEO Benioff: Win 8 is 'the end of Windows'

Brangdon

Hence Windows RT

That kind of reasoning is why Microsoft have started targeting tablets, and why they won't let Windows RT fail. It may take them a few iterations to get it right, but they won't give up until they do. Otherwise Android will grow until it takes over the desktop as well as tablets - Google will add multi-tasking and multiple windows, and work on notebooks and laptops and desktops. Tablets (and to a lesser extent phones) are where Microsoft have chosen to make their stand.

Since Microsoft have chosen to do that, and shown themselves willing to compromise the desktop experience if it helps win on tablets, the articles predictions become moot. In the medium term, it could even be the death of Android, at least on higher-end devices.

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Microsoft Surface priced up for Blighty

Brangdon

I recently bought a 64Gig Asus Transformer Pad Infinity

No regrets yet. The Asus has a better screen, the keyboard dock is more worthwhile because it adds battery life and ports, and it currently has a better app ecosystem. My phone is Android too, which is convenient for sharing apps and their data. I do find Android 4.1 a bit limited on a device of this calibre, and I'd like the WinRT Snap-2-apps feature. (Hopefully Android will get it, in due course.) I'm not bothered about Office.

I'd rather have had a full desktop Windows 8, without giving up battery life, but the former won't be available for several more months and the latter could be years. With it just being Windows RT, and at that price, it's not very attractive to me. Maybe in a year or two's time, when/if the app store is more mature. I might have changed my phone by then too.

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Valve's Half-Life

Brangdon

Re: Half Life

Half Life 2 has better graphics, physics and modelling, but in the ways that matter Half Life 1 is better. HL2 level design suffers more from feeling linear. One cares about the characters less (to the point where I'd use squad members to set off traps because they were worth less than bullets). In HL1 one generally has sense of one's goal (eg, get to the surface); in HL2 you are just wandering around looking for the single exit.

Seriously. I've played both games many times and as long as you can put up with the poorer graphics, HL1 is better.

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Mozilla floats fondleslab-ready Firefox for Win 8

Brangdon
Devil

Apple get away with it

Apple don't have a monopoly; they've always been a high-prestige, low market share company. So they get a lot less legal scrutiny than Microsoft.

Microsoft do have a monopoly on desktop OS. They don't, and never had, a monopoly on browsing on Windows. They got caught in the past trying to use their desktop OS monopoly to gain an unfair advantage in browsers. Arguably they are doing the same thing now.

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Microsoft Research man: It all starts with touch

Brangdon
Thumb Up

Re: Sorry but

Kinect people flapping arms is because the shipped technology isn't good enough to track fingers, only arms. Once the device can recognise finger positions, you no longer will need the big movements. It will be able to read sign languages.

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