* Posts by A. Lewis

324 posts • joined 3 May 2007

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Ho, ho, HOLY CR*P, ebuyer! Etailer rates staff on returns REJECTED

A. Lewis

Humbug!

This reinforces my desire to avoid ebuyer. I've only ever had bad service from them.

But still, in this season of goodwill, Merry Christmas to all, including them, and hopefully yuletide cheer will make them accept some returns!

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Graphical front ends for PowerShell? Here's a couple for you

A. Lewis

Bah, say I!

The whole beauty of powershell is that it's dripping with CLI speed and flexibility? Why fire up ADU&C/Exchange, scroll or search through to find the object, double click, go to the tab, edit what I need, OK it, etc, etc - when I can just type a line of powershell? Oh, you want to do the same edit to another object? Press up to bring it back and edit the name? To a whole group? No problem.

I unashamedly <3 powershell...

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Furious Stephen Fry blasts 'evil' Reg and 'TW*T' Orlowski

A. Lewis
Meh

'"And I'm proud to have a few more followers on Twitter than you, Mr Orlowski," he concluded.'

Ah, the ol' 'quantity of twits following you' measure of self-worth.

I'm entirely unsurprised that Mr Fry subscribes to this particular method. My respect for him declines with everything I see him do. Well, the things that aren't scripted by someone else, anyway.

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$1bn for Instagram? Knock yourself out, Facebook - UK watchdog

A. Lewis

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Really? A billion dollars. Well I guess it is the world's première collection of sepia-toned photos of salads and sunsets.

But come on. A billion? They know that's more than a million?

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Goldeneye

A. Lewis

Another fondly-remembered classic

Goldeneye was one of those games that just worked. A good single-player with lots of scope for replay to unlock all the difficulties, and of course the cheats you could earn! That was an excellent feature that's been copied by surprisingly few games.

And of course the multi-player was incredibly good, and rightfully has a place in my teenage-years nostalgia.

Top stuff!

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Microsoft sets October date for Windows 8 release

A. Lewis
Meh

The end of October?

I guess it's going to be as Ghoulish as my first thoughts, then.

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Ten... Star Wars videogame classics

A. Lewis
Thumb Up

X-wing!

*nerdgasm*

I loved that game. I think it was my first proper gaming addiction. Sure, other games had caught my interest and made me play them to death, but x-wing was the first game that occupied my mind whenever I wasn't playing it.

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Apple drops 'thermonuclear' patent bombshell

A. Lewis
Happy

Oh, you!

You nearly got me...

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Tesco blunder prices 64GB 4G iPad at 50 quid

A. Lewis

Re: Mistake....

^This.

It's an obvious marketing ploy, and a good one. I personally wouldn't have thought to look in tesco if I wanted an ipad.

I mean, I don't want one, but you know: if I ever suffered a lapse of judgement or an excess of cash.

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Workers can't escape Windows 8 Metro - Microsoft COO

A. Lewis
Linux

What a bunch of houzi de pegu

I've only. just started playing with Win8. But my initial reaction has been the same as when I first tried WinPho7: "what the (bleep) were they thinking".

Well thanks to Mr Turner at least I know. They're not thinking.

What a load of marketing-fluff rubbish. Looks like the 'skip every other version' maxim will hold true.

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Dumb salesmen are hurting us – Nokia CEO

A. Lewis

I've never seen any roaming free.

The only thing I've seen close to a WinPho7 marketing was a stand in Manchester station, going back a couple of years. Peppy young people were grabbing passers-by and offering them a play with some of their collection of demo handsets. This was before Nokia went in that direction though, and it was an MS promotion.

What surprised me most was at a recent training day at Microsoft's Reading campus, WinPho7 was mentioned a couple of times by speakers, and was generally used as a point of humour, received with derisive laughter by the audience.

Personally I think not getting the techies is a mistake for a smartphone platform. As another article on El Reg pointed out, smartphones today are pretty much portable computers. So the most, and most quickly, enthusiastic segment of the market is always going to be the geeks. If you manage to raise some enthusiasm in that area, it'll spill over a little to the general public. I know people ('civvies') have asked me before for smartphone buying tips: and I didn't recommend they get a Windows Phone.

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Russia and NASA plan to COLONISE the Moon

A. Lewis
Go

About bloomin' time.

Here we are in the year 2012, and nary a moonbase to be seen! Sci-fi writes throughout the 20th Century must've been tutting over mankind's sluggishness in this oft-predicted area.

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The next Steve Jobs is: Kanye West

A. Lewis
Headmaster

Hummph

I'm fairly sure Mr Jobs, whatever failings he may have had, was at least literate.

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Stephen Hawking seeks geek to maintain his unique wheelchair

A. Lewis
Boffin

The salary seems rather low. Considering they seem to be asking for a PA, academic assistant, support technician (on critical and bespoke electronic, digital and electric systems) and automotive engineer all rolled into one!

I guess they're hoping that someone will want to do it for the chance to work with a brilliant and celebrated physicist.

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Nokia lightens Dark Knight with Batman blower

A. Lewis
Meh

"don the famed batsuit and blubber heroic cheese incoherently for two hours or so"

Well said! I was thinking I was the only one that didn't really get the appeal of batman. I saw 'the dark knight' at t'cinema, and thought it was a well-made enough film, but nothing really special.

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Woz's key to success: Burn the tie, wear T-shirts to work

A. Lewis
Megaphone

What pretentious rubbish.

"I'm a different and unique rebel" - spoken in chorus by one million iPhone owners.

Mr Wozniak is so proud of his 'counterculture' culture, that he does the same as so many other fashionistas and fails to see that all he's doing is conforming to another standard.

Having structure, discipline or a corporate dress standard doesn't stifle creativity any more than the act of wearing a t-shirt enhances it. Idiotic.

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Rainbow Islands

A. Lewis
Happy

Joining the herd...

I clicked comment to say this, but I see others beat me to it: Rainbow Islands was good, but Bubble Bobble was better. Even if only for that insanely catchy music!

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Canonical releases first alpha of Ubuntu 12.04

A. Lewis
Linux

They missed a trick there.

They were trying to think of an animal whose name began with P, to name a linux distribution, and they only managed 'pangolin'?

Surely it should've been "Perceptive Polar-bear"!

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Smartphone-shot movie guns for cinema release

A. Lewis

Am I just an old cynic, or does this smell like a Nokia Viral marketing campaign?

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Hands on with Star Wars: The Old Republic

A. Lewis
Pint

Good review. I was quite impressed myself. It's an interesting mix of the familiar MMO elements, and some strong story-based gameplay.

Though I have to disagree about the controls: I found them awful. As a reasonably seasoned PC gamer, I'm use to the ol' "WASD to move/strafe, mouse to look" combination that has worked well for so many games. But SWOTOR ditches this in favour of using W/S to move, A/D to turn, and Q/E to strafe. The only way to aim with the mouse is by holding down RMB, something which sounds small but had my hand cramping after a while of constantly holding down the button. So I spent most of my game running around facing slightly the wrong way.

It sounds like I'm making a big deal of this, but for me it was the only thing that spoiled the game. 'Steering' with the keys feels very clunky and inaccurate, it was reminiscent of playing Doom (surely a classic, but not right for a modern game). It was a jarring experience, I could only feel immersed by imagining that my character had some sort of deficiency that kept him from being able to face the right way!

I can understand why the makers would want to distance themselves from 'normal' PC games, because it is in many ways not a normal game. But it'd be nice at least to have the option to control our characters in a way that works.

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Apple MacBook Pro 13in Core i5 laptop

A. Lewis
Gimp

And half the quality?

I never wanted to be a mac fanboy, really. As a teenager, I thought macs were terrible: fanciful, oversimple - for idiots. But then as a 'proper grown up', undertaking a fair amount of laptop repair, I came to realise it: macbooks are the best built laptops you can buy. They really are rock solid. Whereas the vast majority of the PC laptops I've ever repaired have been plasticky things full of parts included for their low cost rather than their quality or durability.

Yes some of the 'apple fee' is partly a premium on a 'trendy' product. But the rest of it is due to the fact that you're getting some top-notch hardware.

(Written from my macbook - running xubuntu, naturally!) ;-)

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Slip of a lad to play James Bond's Q

A. Lewis
Thumb Down

Engage grumpy old man mode.

I liked the fact that Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (to a lesser extent) eschewed the traits of earlier films. Gone were Q and the silly gadgets. Gone was the slapstick and the wise-cracking 007. I liked these because I really like the books, and the first two films were a lot closer to those classics.

I just hope them having cast a Q doesn't signal a return to the cheesy Moore-day bond films.

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Ubuntu savaged by rivals infected with fondleslab fever

A. Lewis
Linux

Have you tried xubuntu? It's the ubuntu you know and love with an efficient and customisable XFCE desktop...

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Facebook phone rises from the dead, again

A. Lewis
Thumb Down

Even without the Facebook 'app', most HTC android phones can still post status updates directly from the home screen, show friends' updates in a scrollable feed, and upload pictures directly from the camera.

How much more intregrated could it get? Unless of course, as some have suggested, it will automatically tell all your facebook friends where you are and what you're doing. Perhaps it will automatically poke any other facebook phones you pass? This could be scary indeed...

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HP unwraps Ultrabook

A. Lewis
Meh

Meh

"Ultrabooks". This seems to me to be such an unnecessary new buzzword. As far as I can tell, it means "laptop designed out of macbook air envy".

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a mac fanboy deriding such imitation. I just think it's stupid to try and foist a new buzzword onto the already saturated laptop market.

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Go back to the future with Red Dwarf

A. Lewis
Thumb Down

*sigh*

"From the pen of Doug Naylor".

So like Series 7 and 8 then. And like the abysmal Corrie crossover special?

And not at all like series 1 - 6, which were actually good?

I am probably just a fanboy. But for me, once Rob Grant left the writing team, the show was over. You've only got to read his and Naylor's separate novels to see which was the one with the comedic talent.

Can't they just leave my fond memories of the early, funny, Red Dwarf, alone?

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Angry Birds to hit shop shelves this month

A. Lewis
Thumb Up

Although of course you can already play Angry Birds on your PC/Mac. If you're using Chrome, you can download an in-browser version for free.

I wonder if this freebie will disappear once it goes retail?

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Nokia Lumia 800

A. Lewis
Meh

Strange...

At the start of this review I saw the score, and the bold statement that WP7 is now better than Android, and I thought that maybe my view of WP7 could be wrong. This is a view that was formed from my experience with test handsets by HTC back when the OS was first released, and is in essence that the OS is clunky, confusing and inflexible. I've not read anything since then to change that view.

However there were so many little irksome points mentioned throughout the review that I wonder at how such a high score was arrived? For most of those niggles I found myself thinking "well, that doesn't happen" or "you can change that behaviour" in comparison with Android. Or even with IOS in some cases.

The review gives me the impression that progress has been made, but it still doesn't inspire me to change my disinclination to recommend WP7 to anyone, technical or not. As so often seems to be the case with Microsoft products: I think I'll wait for the next service pack.

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Scantily clad spambot vixens make blokes shun security

A. Lewis
Headmaster

gr8 dis iz a wicked sick language well av in d future innit lol

The English literary greats of the past would be proud, I'm sure.

I'm not, in fact, protesting the change of language. New words, new sentence constructs, new abbreviations can all be good things, and of course are required for us to express new ideas, or talk about things in new ways. I fail to see though how we are progressing the language when a word that has a specific, scientific, meaning, is given a new and vague meaning that fails to convey the subtleties of the myriad alternatives which already exist.

Or, to put that another way: why describe so many things as 'random'? This reduces various situations or descriptions to a single nondescript word; when you could instead use 'unexpected', 'unusual',, 'assorted', 'odd', 'eclectic', 'diverse', 'rare', 'weird', 'bizarre', 'eccentric', 'varied', or any of the catalogue of synonyms.

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A. Lewis
Headmaster

"from randoms"?! What are you, a 17-year-old girl?

From Merriam-Webster. Random (n): a haphazard course.

This is a word in modern misuse that annoys me particularly. Random as an adjective should by rights means statistically so, chosen by a random-number-generator. A person may be odd, eclectic, surprising or just plain weird. They cannot be 'random'. They cannot be 'a random'. The English language is full of wonderful and varied words (which El Reg are normally quite good at employing). Why not use one of these, rather than forcing a word to do their job just because it's popular?

Language rant over.

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Why GNOME refugees love Xfce

A. Lewis
Thumb Up

XFCE is a very nice desktop.

I've been using it for a while. I started with Xubuntu on my first laptot, which worked nicely on the small, 800x480 screen. I stuck with it on my main laptop because it always felt faster than Gnome or KDE. Since Unity was introduced I've swapped my desktop to Xubuntu, too.

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Lemmings

A. Lewis
Thumb Up

Hoorah!

A fine tribute to an excellent game.

No need for car-boot sales, I still have my old A600. Well, somewhere. I'm sure it'd look great on a modern HDTV. And I'm sure I've got a copy of the DOS version kicking around too.

Also I think mention should be made of the music. Amiga 8-bit synth-y versions of various classical or well-known ditties. They would inevitably get stuck in your head after an extended session of lemming-directing.

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Ubuntu republic riven by damaging civil wars

A. Lewis

Choice is good. Maybe Ubuntu needs to try and bring the rogue forks, K and X and L -buntu, back into the fold and brand them as just different flavours, but still Ubuntu at the core.

Personally, I'm one of the number that ditched Ubuntu when they moved to Unity, in favour of X'buntu. XFCE is good and speedy and meets my needs perfectly.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

A. Lewis
Thumb Up

Good stuff. I'm looking forward to my copy arriving.

This review raises a good point. I think it's perfectly alright for this game to re-tread well-trodden ground, if it's doing it so well. The question is of course when this stops becoming acceptable?

It's a completely different medium, but the general public, and me certainly, seem to be tiring of cinema's endless repeats, re-imaginings and (as the hateful term goes) 'reboots'.

When might this happen for games? Or specifically, this series?

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Google's legal boss is fed up with patent warfare

A. Lewis
Stop

Agreed

There are very many things in this world of which we should get rid, and software patents (or perhaps, the vague and litigation-inviting patents that seem to exist) are comparatively high up the list.

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Compact Disc death foretold for 2012

A. Lewis
Megaphone

I'll add my voice to the clamour of "well then I won't buy any music". I think I bought one MP3 track from amazon, once. But apart from that, all my music comes on CD.

There's just no replacing the tangibility, or the tantalisingly interesting look of a shelf of CDs. But then, I bet similar things were said by vinyl fans in response to predictions of that medium's death. Enthusiasts might've decried CD (or perhaps, tape) for its lacking the warm, rich, sometimes scratchy sound of a record. And of course vinyl is still, in a smaller way, with us.

The thing that strikes me though is that CDs have special value as a complement to a live performance. Every gig I've ever been to has had a merchandise stall. And they can't really sell downloads there, can they? Not to mention up-and-coming bands who may be able to strike a deal for a studio session, and a CD production run: for to flog from the back of a van in the pub car park after their gigs. I doubt many of these will see uploading their work to the itunes store, for a meagre pecentage of the pence per track it's sold for, as a good alternative.

And finally of course many CD purchases are made for gifting. It really wouldn't be the same to unwrap the paper and find a plastic gift card for an online download in there.

No I think there will always be a place for physical media. And since CD is so prevalent, and so widely accepted as a good format, why change it?

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Apple was OK to fire man for private Facebook comments

A. Lewis
Thumb Down

Unbelievable.

Contract or no, the crux of this is whether or not the facebook posts were private. I personally don't think that the fact that a so-called friend can repeat something makes it public. And therefore I don't see how a work contract can apply to it.

Another nail in the coffin of privacy, surely.

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Grand Theft Auto V trailer drives onto interweb

A. Lewis
Thumb Up

"It is not possible that GTA V is digital download only, ZERO probability."

Those sound remarkably like words that will come to be eaten...

I'm looking forward to the game. I think the series has generally gone from strength to strength.

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Bill Gates strangled Microsoft's 'tablet for creatives'

A. Lewis
Windows

Hmmm

Good point.

But I think there are two sides. This approach may have got Microsoft in their current position, with their current piles of cash. But surely it behooves companies like MS to use that cash to innovate in order to stay competitive and relevant?

Then again I'm rubbish at business, so maybe if it was me, I'd have run MS into the ground with my reckless projects. :)

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Minecraft upstages Portal 2 in arty game prize

A. Lewis
Thumb Up

Well said!

Though, minor point of correction: I think an initial, rudimentary version was made by Notch, but since then it has been developed by the small team of seven or eight at Mojang into its current form.

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A. Lewis

Because musical talent is equal to all other forms of creativity? I'm a CG artist, but the only way I could get music out of, say, a guitar; would be to use it to prod the Play button on a hi-fi. So is it in some way 'better' for me to stop doing what I enjoy and go and do something I'm terrible at? Ahh, I see now: it's "cooler", isn't it?

And yes, the minecraft world may just be made of cubes, but they're hardly generated randomly. There are currently over a hundred different types of block, with more regularly added. Each block has its own rules about how it interacts with others, and where it is generated. The world is created according to a dizzying array of environmental rules. There are 13 different 'biomes', which have different rules for exactly what sorts of blocks appear in them, and how they are arranged. And there are more rules governing how and where the biomes are arranged in relation to eachother. Some blocks change over time, and grow. In a newly started game, there can be over 14 million blocks before the player even moves and explores the landscape. In a multiplayer game, this figure can run into the billions. It really isn't something you can sneer at for its simplicity unless you don't understand it at all.

As for the AI, yes it's basic rule-following based on where the player is, but that's about as good as it gets even in most 'Triple-A' FPS games.

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A. Lewis
Thumb Up

Good stuff.

Minecraft is an amazing gaming accomplishment. I'm not sure it's fair to rank it alongside Portal 2, though. They are both excellent games, but you get very different experiences out of them.

Also:

"a bleak satire on everyman's need to compensate for the unprepossessing nature of his organs of generation?"

That made me laugh out loud. Nicely put!

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A. Lewis
Stop

Amateurishly made?

Really? Have you played it? In terms of technical achievement, I'd say it's right up there. How many games can you name that generate and maintain a (pragmatically) infinite world, while filling it with other creatures and lots of things to do?

How boring you find it, is of course purely a matter of opinion. But I don't think you can rightly say it's poorly made.

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Boffins' PETMAN robot mimics human gym rats

A. Lewis
Alert

^This

The robo-apocalypse is coming!

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Windows XP and iPod: A tale of two birthdays

A. Lewis
Boffin

TL;DR for the Windows XP bit:

XP started out a bit ropey, got better, everyone liked it. Vista was a bag of spanners so no-one bothered with it.

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Web czar: 'Drag your nan online'

A. Lewis
Meh

Not very well done

I signed up for this a few weeks ago, and ticked all the 'send me info' boxes. I don't know anyone, myself, who is "not online". But I'm happy to donate my time if there's someone in my local area I could help.

But I've heard nothing at all from them. I suppose I could put up some flyers around the area, prostituting-- er, I mean offering for hire, my tech-training services. But I could've done this anyway, so why did I sign to be (as they cringe-inducingly labeled me upon registration) a 'digital champion' with this campaign?

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El Reg in SHOCK email address BLUNDER

A. Lewis

^This

My first thought was "where were you trying to send the list of names and e-mail addresses?"

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A. Lewis

Ouch.

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Win 8 haters are just scared of change, say MS bosses

A. Lewis
Thumb Down

My prediction.

I reckon the 'star trek' rule will come to apply to windows versions. That is; every (in this case) odd-numered sequel will be rubbish.

Win2K was good, then there was the OS-who-must-not-be-named, WinME. XP, as we know, bounced back and was great. Then came Vista, rightly-maligned. Windows 7 turned out to be alright, so following the pattern W8 will surely be a steaming pile of... code.

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Stallman: Jobs exerted 'malign influence' on computing

A. Lewis
FAIL

Attention-seeking trolling from a raving paranoid.

I'm no apple fanboi. I own a macbook, though I bought it cheap, repaired it and now it runs linux (I can't afford a new mac but I do like their build quality!) I own an ipod, because it happens to the best best music player in my (admittedly not vast) experience.

But this kind of apple-bashing that you see so often smacks of nerd jealousy of the cool kids. It's like someone standing outside a party shouting "you're not experiencing freedom when you're cooped up indoors!" They're completely missing the point.

Yes, the apple environment is locked-in. Yes it restricts technical 'freedom'. But it also offers a great computing experience. How many of the mac owners that Stallman is trying to 'defend' really care if their computer has restrictive licensing built-in? So long as it works, so long as they can get on the web, listen to music, download photos from their cameras etc. Why should they worry? Is it really impacting on their freedom if they can do everything they want to with their computer? I don't like the iphone personally because I find its interface very limited, but a lot of people don't care about such things and just want a smartphone that works and is easy to use. Who am I, or who is Stallman, to say they are wrong?

People like Stallman are too bogged down with the technical side of things, with the minutiae of 'what people should be able to do' that he doesn't realise that most people don't care about doing these things. Steve Jobs, on the other hand, knew all about what the average user wants, and how to give them a good experience; and he built a company around products focused on user experience.

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