* Posts by John Latham

362 posts • joined 4 Sep 2006

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Man asks internet for $1k for pebbles. INTERNET SAYS YES

John Latham

Thermodynamics fail

Ice works because it changes phase. Rocks don't.

A cleverer idea would be 92% filling the inside of a hollow metal (e.g. silver) sphere with water and leaving the rest as vacuum to deal with the expansion. Then you'd have high conductivity, phase change and no dilution. Maybe use an internal matrix structure to help conductivity and add strength, allowing the walls to be thinner.

It's so obvious that I assume someone's done it already and probably patented it.

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Piketty-Poketty-Poo: Some people are JUST ITCHING to up tax to capital ...

John Latham

If r>g then...?

I'm confused, perhaps the coffee hasn't kicked in yet.

In your Forbes contribution from April...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2014/04/24/a-problem-with-thomas-pikettys-wealth-tax-solution-to-r-g/

...you advocate land taxes but not "wealth" taxes. Land is a form of capital, capital is a form of wealth. Income and capital are fungible (since one can extract income from capital appreciation and invest income in new capital).

From my reading (I haven't finished CI21C, obviously) Piketty's most stimulating point is that capital/wealth concentrates until war destroys it. If we want to create a society without war we must find other ways to constantly redistribute capital/wealth or else bad things.

In most of the commentary about CI21C, commentators/ards mix labour income with wealth/return on wealth. Piketty seems mostly relaxed about unequal returns on labour (e.g. nurses vs seven figure bankers). It's not about our salaries, it's about our stuff.

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Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol

John Latham

@Lee D

"The reason that paracetamol is prescribed is because it tends not to conflict with other things you're taking."

That's one reason. Another is that's it's fairly benign on the GI system compared to the alternatives.

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Freeze, Glasshole! Stop spying on me at the ATM

John Latham

Re: I prefer the infra-red camera trick

Or wear gloves.

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100% driverless Wonka-wagon toy cars? Oh Google, you're having a laugh

John Latham

Re: Use case

"It sounds like heaven and should be a piece of piss. It is basically a driver-less taxi that I lease (so much cheaper) and I don't have to engage in small-talk with"

ftalphaville have covered this extensively. The idea is that (for urban use cases at least) you don't need to own one at all, and it can run on leccy for various reasons, e.g. long charging time inconveniences no-one, it just lowers utilisation; batteries do better when being regularly and precisely cycled; replacing and re-processing batteries is easier to manage if you own a fleet.

Using trains for longer distances also becomes more convenient if you can rely on cheap Johnnycabs at the destination.

If anyone should be concerned it's taxi drivers.

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Faster Macbook Air pops out: What, a NEW Apple thing and ZERO fanfare?

John Latham

Re: Just for completeness

I'm fairly sure the mid-2013 13" MBA had a PCIe SSD.

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iFixit boss: Apple has 'done everything it can to put repair guys out of business'

John Latham

Anecdote

I live in Dublin (IE) where there are no Apple stores.

I recently busted my Retina MBP screen and had it repaired FOC by one "authorised service centre" in less than 48 hours (they needed to order a part) - dropped it in late on Sunday and got the call on Tues afternoon. Another branch of the same company (city centre) wanted it for "up to five days" to assess due to backlog and didn't seem to care what I did in the meantime. So speed and attitude vary.

TBH with the amount I've spent on Apple gear (lots) I should expect 24 hour on-site repair or replace, but I don't think it's an option so we just keep old kit around a bit longer as spares.

Regarding the iFixit stuff, whatever. Once you've sold your soul to the devil there's no asking for a refund.

0
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Google and Apple in DRAG RACE: It's fanboi Mercs VS fandroid Audis

John Latham

"There's nothing wrong with the dashboard now"

I have a 2008 Citroen C5. It has the most confusing, distracting and down right obstructive button-based UI imaginable.

Any attempt to locate and use the horn or hazard light buttons whilst driving are most likely to cause an accident. I suspect infiltration by Nokia engineers.

Fortunately the car mostly lives in the garage having expensive work done on leaky struts, pollution control systems, the dual mass flywheel, air con, remote tyre pressure sensors...

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BILLION DOLLAR BALLMER: Microsoft chief makes $1bn simply by quitting

John Latham

Ballmer at Microsoft: an annotated shareprice

http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2013/08/23/1612263/ballmer-at-microsoft-an-annotated-shareprice/

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NSA chief leaks info on data sharing tech: It's SharePoint

John Latham

Re: The real letdown here...

No, I'm not suggesting that. Let me try a different tack.

In the 1940s we had Alan Turing and Colossus.

Seventy years later we have Steve Ballmer and Sharepoint.

Maybe this is a PSYOPs campaign designed to breed overconfidence in their enemies.

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John Latham

The real letdown here...

...is that our Matrix/Minority Report-style tech fantasies are brought down by the crushing realisation that twelve years after 2001 the spooks are using the same annoying point-and-click shite inflicted on the rest of us.

I haven't felt this demoralised since that woeful "THIS IS A UNIX SYSTEM" 3D file explorer in Jurassic Park.

Green screens, 3D gesture recognition or GTFO.

2
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Apple MacBook Air 13-inch 2013: All’s well that Haswell

John Latham

Re: Battery life

My 2010 Air has 87% capacity 5839mAh vs 6700mAh, as reported by the Battery Health app.

This is a machine that has been used for three years with a casual disregard for correct charging protocol (whatever that is) by several people.

I agree that 1400x900 is just a *little* low res for 13". I also don't understand why my 13" screen sits inside a lid with a 15" diagonal. I want less bezel and more pixels.

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Google brings Blink-powered Chrome to Windows and Mac OS X

John Latham

Smells like Microsoft

I realise there are all kinds of ways this is different, but the idea of one juggernaut of a company developing operating systems, browser engines, scripting languages and applications makes me nervous.

Sure, it's mostly free-as-in-beer, do no evil etc, and somewhat constrained by standards and licences for now, but it still smells bad.

Tell me I'm wrong.

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Curtain drops on Apple Store ahead of WWDC: What lies behind?

John Latham

Re: Beefed up Macbooks et al

I think you have to ship Steve Ballmer in for a proper song and dance.

Apple just do a long, dull, slideshow that some people make a fuss out of.

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John Latham

Re: On the absence of leaks

So far...

New MBAs with Haswell, better battery life and 802.11ac. Available "now".

New Mac Pro with PCIe flash, Thunderbolt 2, dual GPUs, 4k video support and added roundness. Available not yet.

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Paul Allen buys lovingly restored vintage V-2 Nazi ballistic missile

John Latham

Don't say I didn't warn you

Mega yacht + Nazi ICBM* technology = evil dictator.

* for small values of C.

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Android is a mess and needs sprucing up, admits chief

John Latham

"Android today is like Microsoft's Windows 3.1"

From the end user perspective, Android is more like desktop Linux would be if Windows suddenly ceased to exist.

Android and iOS represent starkly different world views. Let the market decide, it's all good. Well, apart from the evil stuff.

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Apple beats revenue estimates but margins are falling

John Latham

Re: Must stop commenting on Apple articles

"$400 a share is still a lot of money"

The shares are $400 because Apple rarely does stock splits (three times since 1980 AFAIK). It doesn't mean much in isolation.

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John Latham

ZIRP fail

Apple is funding the "capital return program" using debt because it doesn't want to pay tax on repatriated profits.

FFS.

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Apple share-price-off-a-cliff: Told you that would happen

John Latham

Re: Free investment advice from a recruitment consultant

I wouldn't pay a fund manager either, FWIW.

On topic: Apple is a massive cash generator. Nobody knows if they can sustain it.

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John Latham

Free investment advice from a recruitment consultant

Good luck with that.

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Review: HTC One

John Latham

No SD card slot, no removable battery

It's like they rifled through the iPhone spec sheet and picked the worst features to copy.

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First Samsung Galaxy S4 review leak: Stop FONDLING, start FINGERING

John Latham

Re: Is this the start of the post-iPhone era?

I think the wider issue is that all smartphone and tablet makers are struggling to develop anything genuinely game-changing at the hardware and OS level, as evidenced by the fuss about phablets being the next greatest thing (really?).

Perhaps that's a positive sign of maturity and stability. The online world still hasn't totally adjusted to the death of the Windows-PC-as-primary-computing device yet. Many websites still don't work very well in a mobile browser, and there are banks (and the Irish revenue service) that still require Java to log in.

There have been many dead-ends in consumer electronics (my attic-crap-boxes are full of things like folding Palm keyboards and Xbox 360 HD-DVD players) but it seems like touch-based smartphones and tablets are here to stay.

Thumbs up for long-lived devices* and incremental improvement.

* unless your battery is glued

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Eric Schmidt trousers his monstrous package at Google

John Latham

P/E: 25.49. Dividends: 0.

Sometimes I wonder whether Facebook is an elaborate ruse to make Google shares look good value.

4
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Arise, Lord BONG

John Latham

"A doctor is just a very well trained flow chart"

Ah, the "how hard can it be?" fallacy.

I volunteer to conduct free brain surgery on this idiot, and I will accept any number of flowcharts to assist me in the procedure.

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Google takes Chromebook upmarket with touchy-feely Pixel

John Latham

ChrUbuntu?

http://blog.laptopmag.com/chrubuntu-transforms-199-acer-c7-chromebook-into-a-cheap-linux-laptop

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Facebook turns billion-dollar profit into tax refund

John Latham

Whatever about taxes...

...Facebook appear to have blown somewhere in the order of their entire profits on employee stock options.

Dividends, they've heard of them.

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India's most trusted brand Nokia hit with £1.5bn tax bill

John Latham

Contemptuous snort at "trusted brand"

Putting aside the historical meaning of torture-based cattle identification, "brand" is an entirely synthetic marketing concept developed by professional liars which deliberately separates meaningful things (products and companies) from each other.

A "brand" is essentially a substrate for growing lies, and every time a marketing droid uses the word God kills a kitten.

How anyone can trust a "brand" I have no idea.

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Comp Sci becomes 'fourth science' in English Baccalaureate

John Latham

Must this be hard?

I wonder whether CompSci might be easier to teach kids than software engineering or whatever, in the same way that F=ma is easier to teach than building a rocket.

I'd really rather see a physical Turing machine in the classroom than a Raspberry Pi.

This, for instance, is all kinds of cool....

http://www.legoturingmachine.org/

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Java open-source frameworks 'pose risk' to biz - report

John Latham

Re: Frameworks make life more complicated without any real advantage - IMHO

tldr version: you're doing it wrong.

Spring is a large framework and provides many nooses with which to hang yourself.

Taking one small part of your rant, the ORM bit, there are several programming models for querying within Spring/Hibernate, including Criteria queries, HQL, pure native SQL, and a sort of HQL-SQL hybrid which allows you to use entity syntax within an SQL query. Each of them has strengths and weaknesses.

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Brit 2.5-tonne nuke calculator is World's Oldest Working Computer

John Latham

Dekatron

Looked it up on Wikipedia. Want.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f7/Dekatron.gif

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Mobes, web filth 'PORNIFYING' our kids, warns top Labour MP

John Latham

Normalised homophobia is not a contemporary development

This is not a recent development.

Q: Are you a benny tied to a tree?

Y -> Hah! You're a benny!

N -> Hah! Benny on the loose!

British secondary school, circa 1980.

I must have missed the golden era of schoolboy tolerance and respect for diversity that Diane harks back to.

14
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Kill that Java plugin now! New 0-day exploit running wild online

John Latham

The Irish Revenue service requires Java

https://www.ros.ie/PublisherServlet/requirements

"ROS makes extensive use of Java applets in order to keep your data secure."

Oh, the irony.

2
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Drop that can of sweet pop and grab a coffee - for your sanity's sake

John Latham

Correlation != causation

That's all.

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'SHUT THE F**K UP!' The moment Linus Torvalds ruined a dev's year

John Latham

Linux audio...

....would turn Ghandi into a chair-throwing Ballmerite.

(in fairness I haven't used it for a few years, perhaps it's better now)

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Mark Zuckerberg doesn't know how to use HTML5

John Latham

Re: Shame it doesn't work

It's a proof of concept, not a complete app. They haven't attempted to implement the whole of Facebook.

Whilst I don't buy into their central claim that HTML5 is currently in a fit state to supplant native apps (just check out the recommended Android version), it's nice that they've gone to all this trouble to crawl along the bleeding edge and document (albeit subjectively) their findings. The code is open to inspection, at least on the client side.

The login screen hung (infinite spinner) on the HTC One X we have here in the office, but worked fine on the older Moto Defy+. YMMV.

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Falling slinky displays slow-motion causality

John Latham

Seems overcomplicated

The bottom doesn't move because it's being held in place by spring tension, which is only released when the adjacent coils collapse.

Nice slo-mo though.

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Flash makes servers go with a Bang, benchmarks show

John Latham

Graph fail

Unlabelled Y axis which doesn't start at zero.

Kill it with fire.

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Trolls and their ilk now file majority of patent suits

John Latham

I don't understand the specific problem with patent trolls

If software patents were a socially/economically useful thing then companies which exist solely to fully exploit those patents could not be a bad thing.

To kill the software patent troll we must kill software patents. All of them. Or at least match the patent lifespan to the speed of technology development so that all obvious crap will permanently expire within a handful of years.

I don't buy the story pedaled by Google et al that they're just victims of a broken system forced to fight against their will.

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Troll sues Apple for daring to plug headphones into iPhone

John Latham

Re: And still no overhaul of the patent system.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn965-wheel-patented-in-australia.html

1
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Apple manufacturers: ARRGH, pesky iThings are impossible to make

John Latham

Re: "Low yield rate"

Whether it's "shameful" or not rather depends on how low is "low", no?

FWIW there are some environmental ratings for the finished product here:

http://www.redmondpie.com/iphone-5-is-among-the-most-environmentally-friendly-devices-on-the-market/

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John Latham

"Low yield rate"

...is presumably manufacturing-speak for "we have to chuck most of them in the bin".

Can't be very environmentally sound. Out of sight...

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Japan firm offers mums-to-be 3D printed unborn infants

John Latham

Don't come crying...

...when you give birth to Magneto.

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Bradley Manning to speak in public for first time in two years

John Latham

Waterboarding? Suicide missions?

I thought he leaked a load of low-grade junk that hundreds of thousands of people had access to?

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Cambridge boffins fear 'Pandora's Unboxing' and RISE of the MACHINES

John Latham

Pandora's unboxing

Ho ho, very good.

I guess Raiders of the Lost Ark should now be retitled for YouTube "Ark Of The Covenant unboxing FAIL!".

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How spreadsheets (nearly) conquered and killed the financial industry

John Latham

Re: Agility requires robustness

My point was that the software engineering profession seems to have accepted that having a codebase that can be automatically proven to be no less broken than it was X days/weeks/months ago leads to a lower rate of defects AND greater development velocity, both initially and on a sustainable basis, therefore allowing the alpha finance types to trade, snort coke, shit on each others' desks or whatever else they do to earn their bonuses.

If there's some other approach that Excel hackers use to achieve the same pleasant outcomes, so be it.

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John Latham

Agility requires robustness

"Furthermore, the design and coding of a Java system is always significantly more involved than relatively simple Excel scripting"

Including the tests, right? You do have tests for your spreadsheet? Or do you prove it works by drinking Red Bull and thinking really hard?

...awaits the downvotes as a legion of Register spreadsheet programmers educate me about how to write unit tests for spreadsheets :-)

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Skyfall makers 3D printed Bond's DB5

John Latham

Fag-packet calculation

Apparently "The equipment costs $2.3 million with an annual operation cost, including depreciation, of $1.44 million". Based on 24x365 continuous operation, that's $164/hr.

Based on claimed speed of 75s per 300µm layer, I make that 69 hours to complete a full 1m-deep build, at the cost of $11-12k + markup.

You wouldn't want to balls up the 3D model.

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Omnishambles beats off mummy-porn, becomes English word of 2012

John Latham

'the verb "medal" (from the Olympics)'

Am I the only one to experience tightness of chest and breathing difficulty when reading that?

Getting that one in the dictionary would be a Big Ask.

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Naughty-step Apple buries court-ordered apology with JavaScript

John Latham

Come back <blink>, all is forgiven.

If ever there was a use case for 100px red flashing text on a web page, this is it.

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