* Posts by Michael H.F. Wilkinson

3044 posts • joined 24 Apr 2007

BOFH: Thermo-electric funeral

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: as if owning IT antiquity was one of those positive character traits

Antique? I have still got an 8" floppy disk lying around, with a whole 128 kB of storage (CP/M 2.0 from Digital Research is on it, according to the label).

128MB USB stick antique! Youth these days

Erm, .... has anybody got an 8" floppy drive with USB interface lying around?

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Storage with the speed of memory? XPoint, XPoint, that's our plan

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: NVDIMM

If 3D XPOINT is a lot cheaper than the DRAM + NAND backup solution it does become interesting, even if its speed isn't quite as high. Not sure it is, however.

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Kent Police handed domestic abuse victim's data to alleged abuser – a Kent cop

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Sir

"...

What were they thinking?"

There are two option:

a) Not a lot. This assumes no malice in the perpetrator

b) They thought they could get away with it. That implies malice

In the first case the person may not be suitable for working at the police.

In the second place the person is certainly not suitable for working at the police

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FBI's PRISM slurping is 'unconstitutional' – and America's secret spy court is OK with that

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

"US govt was required to retain any data that may be evidence of a crime"?

Well, anything could be evidence of a crime, couldn't it? Every humorous video of a kitten might have hidden information concerning some heinous terrorist plot. Storing only part of the information on the interwebs is really not enough! We should demand that the US government retain ALL data generated anywhere. There might be a slight storage problem, of course ......

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HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Meh

Hmm

Not sure I will upgrade my M8 just yet. I rather like its 2 day battery life (even after 2 years) under my usage conditions, and more importantly, using it in the kitchen to blare out Rammstein, Blue Oyster Cult, System of a Down, Rory Gallagher, or Rush. Clears the kitchen in no time, so I can cook in peace. Very soothing ....

Should it give up the ghost any time soon, I will turn elsewhere, it would seem. Pity, I always liked my HTCs (starting from the old Desire)

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Utah declares 'war on smut'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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FAIL

"Public health emergency"???

And here I was thinking that it was less likely to contract an STD from watching porn than from actually having sex (especially if you haven't educated kids properly).

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Re: War on Drink

Have you seen liquor stores in Utah? I have seen a couple that look like prisons from the outside. $DEITY forbid you would want to go in there.

Doesn't work of course. People still like to raise a glass

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EU: We're splashing out €6.7bn on a giant scientific cloud

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Certainly not novel, there are similar efforts in the US (also amongst scientists). It's just that we do not necessarily want to have our scientific data on US-owned clouds. Commercial clouds are geared to particular classes of (business) problems, which are very suitable for distributed computing (often embarrassingly parallel). Scientists often have different requirements for which commercial clouds are not that suitable (I have a couple), so scientists may come up with different technical solutions. These solutions may well be of use to industry. My data? Less so, I would say

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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This could be very useful. I collaborate with many fellow researchers, mainly in the EU, on various projects increasingly involving massive data sets. A platform that would allow more efficient sharing and processing of data could certainly help in many such projects. We will see how this pans out

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Academic network Janet clobbered with DDoS attacks – again

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Valid excuse?

That, or they weren't invited to join in. Alternatively, the MUDs were hogging too much CPU time and that got in the way of the sysadmin's MUDs

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US anti-encryption law is so 'braindead' it will outlaw file compression

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Maths v the Law

Following on from the spirit of this Bill, I think they should declare Pi=3. It would save all the hassle of trying to work out all the other digits.

(Yes I know it's been tried once, but the technology wasn't as advanced back then.)

Just call in Bergholt Stutley Johnson!

Might even get the mail sorted before it was sent

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Joke

Re: Just a point of clarification...

I think you are all being unfair to congressmen: They can think, for a given value of "think". The problem is they appear to be thinking about themselves mostly, rather than the real world out there

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Chilling evidence emerges of Kilocat weapon

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Very nice indeed!

Have you ever considered sending this stuff to a scientific journal? Like Annals of Improbable Research? Fits right in with classics like "Feline Reactions to Bearded Men"

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Canny Canadian PM schools snarky hack on quantum computing

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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That pleasantness makes the political debate sound so much more grown-up than the childish bickering so many other politicians go in for, in particular when they disagree with someone, purely because he is member of another party, even when that person is proposing the very same policy the other said he were backing. I find that such puerile behaviour (not limited to a single country, alas).

Well done to these Canadians for showing politicians can be polite.

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Linux command line mistake 'nukes web boss'S biz'

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

I thought everybody knew

that "rm" stands for "remark".

Our sysadmin told us so

His name is Simon, I think

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Flying Spaghetti Monster is not God, rules mortal judge

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Too slow -- again

Just playing the Devil's advocate: People might argue that parody implies humour. Scientology might be funny, but I don't see any humorous side to it.

Still worth a shot, of course. Anything to trip up Scientologists has my blessing

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

HERESY!!!!

May the Flying Spagheti Monster strike Judge Gerard down with long thin strands of pasta!

Well, that would prove the judge wrong, wouldn't it

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Prof Hawking to mail postage-stamp space craft to Alpha Centauri using frickin' lasers

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Alien

Re: Lasers on earth?

I have just the moon you need

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Tricky!

They might impact on the local planning office in Alpha Centauri. Still, they might also find information on any demolition plans

More seriously, simply dust along the way could seriously damage a craft flying at that speed, even if cosmic rays miss it. Still a fascinating project. We need people doing weird science, and hey, it's got frickin' lasers involved. All we need is sharks

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HTC 10: Flagship goes full Google – but the hardware's top notch

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: I have a question....

My HTC One M8 normally lasts two days on a full charge (it is two years old now, still works fine). No complaints there. By contrast, my wife's Samsung seems to be dead after (way) less then a day most of the time, by comparison (the kids' Samsung seem to last longer). I would hope the new M10 has similar battery life to the M8 (no guarantees of course). The Sonys have a good rep on that count. I might well consider one when I upgrade

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Russian boffins want to nuke asteroids

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

A modest proposal

Could we send the politicians to the asteroid, concentrate them on one side, and let the emanations of hot air deflect the asteroid gently?

Tell them they are going to make history, and will get an unrivalled degree of visibility amongst the electorate.

Regrettably, a return journey is impossible due to budget cuts they proposed (information on this will only be divulged on a need-to-know basis).

Win-win situation in my book

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Europe's biggest radiotelescope in fast-burst-finding upgrade

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Boffin

Title?

The title is somewhat misleading, it had me thinking this was an upgrade to LOFAR, which is the biggest radio telescope in Europe. The first paragraph puts things straight however. LOFAR and WSRT (among others) are FAR bigger, fully steerable scopes, but they are not single dishes. LOFAR does beam forming digitally (it is a huge phased array), whereas WSRT consists of 14 steerable dishes, which have recently been upgraded with an array antenna at the focus of each dish, similar to the Effelsberg upgrade. Surveys can be done much faster now. We live in fascinating times.

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'Fart detector' wins Chinese Physics prize

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Sounds like a contender for

an Ig Nobel prize!

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Watch: SpaceX finally lands Falcon rocket on robo-barge in one piece

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Pint

Brings back part of the excitement of the Apollo days. Well done to all at SpaceX

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Read America's insane draft crypto-borking law that no one's willing to admit they wrote

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

If that souns like too much work

Just send the random numbers (any source of physical random noise will provide that, like thermal noise in a webcam), and let them decrypt that.

Sit back and have some popcorn

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BOFH: Sure, I could make your cheapo printer perform miracles

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Pint

Brilliant episode. Really cheered up a rainy day here in the Netherlands (It has its merits: 1 hour closer to beer o'clock than the UK ;-))

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Bavarian town rescinds Hitler's honorary citizenship

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Drove through this town many a time on my way to Austria, whilst avoiding traffic jams on the Autobahn. Let us hope it was mere oversight, and someone found only recently that the late, but hardly lamented AH was still in the books as a lovely guy

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There's oil in that thar … Chinese space probe?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: Another idea.

Alternatively, send up the politician and "forget" to retrieve the mission

We dropped the payload in the Mariana Trench.

Whoops, butterfingers

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We bet your firm doesn't stick to half of these 10 top IT admin tips

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: I recently received a phishing attempt

Those request are common indeed. Most of them get blocked by now

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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I recently received a phishing attempt

They claimed there had been a remote access to my account blah blah, etc would I log in to this URL to reset my password otherwise my account would be blocked.

As most fishing attempts are filtered, I forwarded this to our IT people, remarking this was a new phishing attempt not filtered by the system. I got a prompt (automated) reply, that "ticket blah blah had been resolved". The phishing attempt came through the filter because it had emanated from the IT guys themselves to educate users. Clearly I am a suspicious enough blighter to pass this rather trivial test, but apparently it is necessary to carry out these tests, because many users apparently fall for it.

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Happy

Re: On point 3

No! No! No!

The standard procedure is to stick the locked filing cabinet inside a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying "Beware of the Leopard".

Said lavatory should be in the basement.

Be sure to remove the lights ...

... and the stairs

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'Panama papers' came from email server hack at Mossack Fonseca

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Coat

"Bent" springs to mind

as in Mavolio Bent

OK, I'll be going. The one with "Making Money" in the pocket, please

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Panama canal

We used to DREAM about having thruppence in farthings! People with piggy banks were considered right toffs when I were a lad!

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Three MEELLION satellite snaps now free for all

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Nice!

Just checked, the resolution is not that high (15m at best) so a swath should be about 4000 pixels wide. Still, some extra multi-band data for extending our algorithms to that domain is always welcome

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Nice!

Me, and many other scientists can really use a huge database of images to test our algorithms for seriously big images. We are now moving from "mere" gigapixel images to tens and hundreds of gigapixel (per image), and hope to breach the terapixel level soon. More (free) data to test stuff is very, very welcome.

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French mobe repair shop chaps trash customer's phone

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Facepalm

Re: Doh

Not quite Darwin Award material. We might want to create the "Double Facepalm Award" for cases like these.

Imagine the acceptance speeches (extreme rarity in the case of the Darwin Award):

"I would first like to thank my complete lack of self control ....."

Icon, because, well, there is no double facepalm icon

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Your pointy-haired boss 'bought a cloud' with his credit card. Now what?

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Happy

Re: (Unnamed Body)

Hi Simon

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'Planet nine' theory boosted by Kuiper Belt Object with odd orbit

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Re: Given the Pluto/P.anet 9 problem...

Alternatively, if you want to call it a "dwarf planet" give it a proper dwarf name.

Like Glod

OK, OK, I should be going. The one with "Thud" in the pocket, please

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: The problem with trowing things at a dart board...

As ever, we need more data. Finding a couple of KBOs with an orbit suggesting some large object is "shepherding" them is interesting, but not proof. Finding another object in an orbit that might be consistent with it is also interesting, but not proof. What it does mean is that we have reason to look for more data. At some point we might get a sufficient excess of KBOs in compatible orbits to prove it is unlikely that it is caused by chance. Finding the planet itself would of course clinch it.

Time will tell (soon I hope)

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Furious English villagers force council climbdown over Satan's stone booty

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Coat

Did the driver claim ...

"The devil made me do it"

Alternatively, he was "on a mission from God" (or Glod, of course)

I'll get me coat

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Oz uni in right royal 'indigenous' lingo rumpus

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

TV programmes on bush tucker would be very different

"lightly sauté the grubs with some garlick...."

I doubt the seafood could be improved by the French, however. The seafood I had down-under was every bit as good as anything I have had in France, Italy, or Greece.

Doffs hat (the roo-leather Barmah most appropriately today) to Aussie cuisine

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Lord Vetinari insists

we call Captain Cook a "trespasser", in the best traditions of Ankh-Morpork's Trespassers' Society

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Microsoft's bigoted teen bot flirts with illegali-Tay in brief comeback

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

GPP feature?

has perhaps developed a pain in all the diodes down its left side?

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Here's a great idea: Let's make a gun that looks like a mobile phone

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Just a few facts

BTW, the above suggestion would not solve the problem of the horrendous death toll due to gun violence any time soon. Too many illegal firearms are out there. Criminals would find ways to acquire arms illegally. However, preventing known criminals and psychiatric cases from acquiring guns legally should not prevent responsible adults getting the guns they might need if there are indeed many criminals about with firearms. So in that sense nothing changes, both sides get guns.

What does change is that a licensing scheme means that criminals can be jailed without needing to prove they shot somebody with the gun, and that manufacturers may no longer sell their product legally to criminals. Why does that worry the NRA?

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Just a few facts

Good points. There is an arms race going on in the US, where people carry guns because criminals carry guns, whereupon criminals get more guns, etc. There is another point too: The police in the UK (or here in the Netherlands) do not have to prove you committed any crime other than carrying the illegal firearm. You can simply go to jail for owning it. If criminals could be put in jail simply for carrying an unlicensed one in the US, maybe the deadly arms race could be reversed.

One point I also do not quite get is that, given the NRA mantra of "the only thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun", why they oppose any measure merely designed to prevent bad guys getting guns. Surely the requirement that you can have a gun legally only if you do not have a criminal record and are not psychologically unstable makes sense. The vast majority of the people in the US see the sense in it. This should not infringe the right of good guys to carry guns.

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ExoMars probe narrowly avoids death, still in peril after rocket snafu

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Ouch!

How many people will be having their fingers crossed for 7 months? Let's hope for the best.

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Error checks? Eh? What could go wrong, really? (DoSing a US govt site)

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

Re: Moral on the -1 passed as array index?

Incidentally, I am reminded of a coding problem a student of mine encountered, when trying to implement a method found in a scientific article. The first part dealt with image representation using particular polynomials, the second with image or object recognition with the same type of polynomials.

This was a good student who first coded the first part, and when that worked well, coded the second bit using the same code for the polynomials as before. Result: Crashing code. He worked on this for several days, trying to find the bug. When I came to look, I suddenly noted an odd thing: In the pseudo-code in the paper, the first part indexed the arrays containing the polynomials from 0 to N-1, and the second part used a different convention: 1..N. Accessing element N caused the crashes. Ouch! Easy to sort, but really frustrating!

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Michael H.F. Wilkinson
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Re: Moral on the -1 passed as array index?

An array index of -1 can certainly be used, in languages like Pascal, or even Fortan, or, with care and documentation in languages like C(++). For some arrays it is natural to have an index range of e.g. -N to N. In Pascal-like language you just declare the array that way. It is not that difficult to get it right in C(++).

It seems to me that the key problem is the silent coercion of a signed int to an unsigned int. Strong typing would have trapped this error, I feel. If I already have element numbers 0, 1, and 2, and add element number -1 to a dynamically allocated array, I can do that by allocating a 4 element array, incrementing the pointer, and copying the data to the right elements. Of course, when freeing the array, you must first decrement the pointer accordingly. Writing a class to do this safely is not that hard, although there is every chance people get it wrong.

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Electronic Superhighway 2016-1966 – a retro: Texts, ar*se and ASCII rolls

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge
Joke

Re: Under-16s free

"I thought showing a naked woman's anything to a child now resulted in a mandatory 5 year prison sentence and life on the sex-offenders register?"

Bit hard to avoid when breastfeeding a baby

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Microsoft will rest its jackboot on Windows 7, 8.1's throat on new Intel CPUs in 2018 – not 2017

Michael H.F. Wilkinson
Silver badge

I run several machines on different OSs, and just use whatever runs the tools I need. Linux for most of the work stuff, but Win 7 or 8.1 for some data acquisition and processing programs for which I haven't (yet) found a solution under Linux. The kids and missus also work with the Win 7 or 8.1 boxes.

My only gripes with Win 10 have been the nagware and the spyware. The nagware (probably?) ceases when you install it, but the spyware then becomes an issue. If there is an easy solution to block that I might well install win 10. If I cannot find a solution, I will not upgrade. I know alternatives for the few Windows programs I need are currently being developed, so this is a viable option in a few years time. If a subscription-only revenue model for an OS is introduced, that OS is out.

MS is free to choose its revenue model. I am free to choose an alternative

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