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* Posts by Sean Timarco Baggaley

912 posts • joined 8 May 2009

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Europe: Apple could NOT care less about kids' in-app cash sprees

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: The problem is the advertising/description

"In the Apple App Store, apps with in-app purchases are still marked as free. "

And also marked with the phrase Offers In-App Purchases directly under the "Download" button when opened in iTunes, or the iOS App Store. (Note that you cannot install the app except from inside iTunes or the iOS App Store. The link takes you to the 'shop window' page, but you can only view in iTunes or the iOS App Store. You can't download from there.)

You'll also note the list of "Top In-App Purchases" in both locations. It's rather hard to miss. Note, too, that the full description is required by Apple to state very clearly that in-app purchases are offered. This is non-negotiable.

Seriously, what more do people want? iOS 7 already makes it bastard hard to 'accidentally' make an in-app purchase. Even in earlier versions, iOS would ask you for your password after 15 minutes or so.

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Amazon's Spotify-for-books: THE TRUTH

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Support your local library by using it

@phil dude:

"The problem is we are all living in a post-scarcity era"

Last time I checked, the number of actual authors able to make a bloody living from writing was still relatively low. All that's happened is that the 'scarcity' has shifted to the content creators, rather than the content itself.

Authors aren't "gouging" anyone. Hell, Amazon actually offer a very good deal for authors who publish directly through them, or one of their in-house imprints.

Not only that, but they make it astonishingly easy to do. Compared to some of their rivals, publishing through Amazon directly is an absolute dream. They really do *grok* good design in the same way Apple do. And they don't limit the process solely to their customer-facing components either. Authors get the same attention to detail, and get published *within hours*, whereas a Big Publisher will sit on a manuscript for anywhere up to 18 *months* before publishing it.

I can do my own PR and marketing—Big Publishing only do a big splash if you're already a big name; I can hire a freelance editor myself; I don't need a massive advance that may, or may not, actually be paid...

... and I don't need to decipher some of the world's most creative accounting to work out why my "#1 New York Times Bestseller" has apparently not turned a penny in profit for me, while netting my publisher hundreds of thousands. Amazon, Apple and their peers pay *much* better than any of the traditional publishers. And they won't try and fleece you through onerous contracts that effectively assign your copyright to them for life.

It's Big Publishing who are screwing up on a massive scale. Simon & Shyster, Hatchet, and their ilk, can get stuffed. All of them. They dropped the ball many years ago and they're just flailing about in desperation now.

As for Amazon's dominance: it would *really* help if people stopped treating design like the unwanted ginger stepchild of software development. Anyone who's ever fought their way through Kobo's system will welcome Amazon's far easier system with open arms. Kobo's site is truly, truly awful. I'm sure they mean well, but it's easy to see why they've struggled to make any kind of impact.

It's a shame Steve Jobs' 'smoking gun' email caused Apple so much damage as they're Amazon's only real competition here. And for the same reason: they go out of their way to make extracting cash from customers as simple, easy and painless as possible. Their rivals seem to be hell-bent on making it as hard as possible for anyone to buy their products, or sell products through their marketplaces.

Amazon and Apple got where they are today by offering people what they wanted. Their rivals have had their clear, obvious lessons right in front of their faces for well over a decade now, so they have only themselves to blame for their own failure to learn from them.

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NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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"O Romeo! Romeo! Wherefore art thou, Romeo?"

"In jail charged with pedophilia, 'cos you're only 13 years old!"

Even William "How should I spell my surname this time?" Shakespeare was at it. Operation Yewtree clearly doesn't go far enough back in time.

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MYSTERIOUS Siberia CRATER: ALIENS or METEOR not involved, officials insist

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Pfft! Facts!

You can prove anything with facts!

I find your lack of faith in the competence of national governments to maintain alien conspiracies for generations... well, not really all that disturbing, now that I think of it.

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Apple 5S still best-selling smartphone 8 months after launch

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Apple couldn't give a toss about the general smartphone market. They're only interested in the high-margin markets. I.e. the high end. The people with the moolah. The people with dosh to slosh.

That's the only market worth chasing if you want to make a big, fat, profit. It's very much old-school business practice. And there's a good reason for that: Apple weren't born in the 21st century, or even in the 1990s. They were founded in the 1970s, when flared trousers and "Shaft" were both cool.

Apple are as old-school as you can get without being called either Microsoft or IBM. They're interested in making money, not viral videos, social networks, or bad photography.

Business is all about making a profit for the owner(s). That's the whole point of a business.

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UK Parliament rubber-stamps EMERGENCY data grab 'n' keep bill

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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@Peter Gathercole (was: Re: @Robert Long 1)

And yet, the Swiss manage to do precisely what you say is impossible. How? By realising that democracy – in any meaningful sense – doesn't scale well. Why are voter turnouts so low? Because, in a country of well over 60 million people, having one sixty-millionth of a say is tantamount to having no say at all.

In Switzerland, the bulk of the power is in the Cantons, not the central government. The latter is kept deliberately small and has very little power compared to its counterparts in neighbouring countries. Yet they still manage to get things done. It works precisely because people are fundamentally tribal. By focusing the democratic processes on local and regional politics, which is, frankly what most people actually care about, the national tier can concentrate primarily on harmonising legislation that has to work across Cantonal borders, as well as the occasional bit of foreign diplomacy.

Another point to note is that the Swiss system relies much more heavily on referendums. The St. Gotthard Base Tunnel (and its siblings) wouldn't have happened without one, for example.

(Incidentally, US readers might like to note that the Swiss Constitution was deliberately based very closely the US one. What you see in Switzerland is arguably much, much closer to what the US Constitution's signatories had in mind.)

At the very least, such an approach makes warmongering rather more difficult to do. It also means that most politics would be local and regional rather than national, so of more interest to those it affects.

Switzerland got it right, and did so back in the 1870s (around the same time as Italy's reunification), without the benefit of electronic communications, so it is certainly possible.

The USA does, however, provide us with a crystal clear illustration of how such a system can go very, very wrong.

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'Green' Apple: We've smudged a bit off our carbon footprint

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Dear Jasper Hamill

Can you tell us how a company that is famous for only refreshing each of its (very small) product lines roughly once a year, can be described thus:

"With a product refresh rate that sees it chomp through natural resources like a chubby child demolishing a Mars bar, it's difficult to see Apple as a particularly environmentally friendly organisation."

If Apple are "a chubby child demolishing a Mars bar", what the hell does that make Samsung, Dell, or LG? A massive swarm of locusts, devouring acres of crops in a few hours?

I suggest sir gets a sense of perspective. Or a life. Either would suit me, as long as neither involves writing ever more ridiculous click-bait pieces like this worthless shite. If I wanted to read this kind of ill-informed bollocks, The Motley Fool has no shortage of it.

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'Apple is TERRIFIED of women’s bodies and women’s pleasure' – fresh tech sex storm

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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"Whilst I hate censorship, and clit should obviously be allowed,"

It's not "censorship". Last time I checked, Apple were not a country with a seat at the UN. Censorship is perfectly legal if you're a private entity. The media does it all the bloody time and nobody bangs on about them 'censoring' whenever they bleep out bits of Frankie Boyle's jokes.

Apple have an image they're trying to present to the public—an almost Disney-like one that tries to portray a 'squeaky clean' company and ethic. Apple is also a business. Businesses are explicitly allowed to refuse to do work for a customer if they don't want to, if they feel it would make their employees uncomfortable, or even if they just feel it would violate their core precepts, such as their brand image.

(Note: You're also free to sue said businesses into oblivion if you genuinely believe they denied service to you on grounds of racism, sexism, or some other legally-covered "-ism". But that's entirely your own decision.)

Chances are, their filtering policy is based on how a nation's media treats such words: If they're routinely bleeped out on TV and radio, it'll probably be added to the filter. "Dick" and "penis" are rarely bleeped in the UK or US, and arguably aren't even considered swear words. "Clit" and "cunt", on the other hand, certainly are.

There's a good reason why Roger's Profanisaurus (PBUV*) has been so popular, and is so filled with inventive euphemisms: rather than fight the media's self-censorship, it's easier—and a hell of a lot more fun—to just work around it.

* "Praise Be Unto Viz". Let's see if El Reg are happy with this.

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Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Feminists are angry...

Do you seriously believe Tim Cook is personally responsible for the website's filter code?

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You 'posted' a 'letter' with Outlook... No, NO, that's the MONITOR

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: The summer heat brings them out...

"To be fair I'd suggest this was as much a fail on the MacOS interface design team "

This was done for a very good reason: to stop users ejecting a disk while it's being written to!

As for the "drag to the Trashcan icon": the Trashcan icon changes to an Eject icon when you start dragging. So I call bullshit there. Also, there's a perfectly obvious "Eject" command in the File menu, and an equally obvious keyboard shortcut too: CMD+E. (Or just press the "Eject" button right there on the bloody keyboard!)

It seems there are so-called "experts" commenting right here on these very forums who feel a 40-minute 'group shout' at a hapless user is a perfectly valid way to convince them to eject a floppy disk. And yet it's the user who is considered the clueless idiot in that story? Hypocrites, much?

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Luxembourg patent troll suing world+dog

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: I have an idea.

@Dazed and Confused:

Apple have been the *targets* of the world's biggest patent trolls for years.

Apple do also *protect their own patents*, like every other business*, but unlike a patent troll, Apple make actual products. Patent trolls, by definition, do not.

(I'm also sure someone's thinking about cracking the tiresome "rectangles with rounded corners" bollocks. Please don't. In fact, I strongly suggest you read up on the legal concept of Trade Dress. It's the same reason why you can't call your soft drink "Kooky-Kola" and slavishly duplicate Coca-Cola's own swirly font style and colours. So every time anyone cracks that non-joke, all they're doing is displaying their ignorance.)

* (The law requires businesses do their own policing. The government doesn't do it for you. Naturally, lawyers love to litigate as that's how they get paid, so don't expect this to change any time soon.)

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WORLD CUP SHOCK: England declared winner in 2-1 defeat to Italy

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: No matter how hard you try

"Football may be dull, but at least its only 90 minutes of dull rather than 5 days."

Last time I checked, the World Cup was going to be dominating every bloody medium known to humanity for *thirty-two* days. Test Series cricket matches tend to be self-contained competitions; the same two teams might not play each other again for another six years. There's none of this "Group A", "Group B" with quarter-finals, semi-finals and whatnot, where it's not uncommon for two teams to play each other multiple times, before a disappointing final won on penalties brings the whole, pointless charade to an end.

At least you know that, when that Progress Bar of Zen reaches the end (after the blatant lie that is "One minute remaining..."), you know you've actually achieved something, even if that 'something' is merely "Installing an application".

All sports competitions, without exception, have an implied Great Big Reset Button, which is pressed at the end of every competition. So nothing is actually achieved. Mitchell & Webb explained it best.

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Angelina Jolie 2.0 NOT an inspiration for Huawei phones, says exec

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: So no "jubs as buttons" on the phone then?

"Think my fellow commentards have missed the main point to be derived from Huawei's briefing."

Hard to say. The article merely told us about some chap giving a presentation about everything he's learned from "The Great Big Pop-up Book of Design Clichés".

I'm not sure why this is news. Anyone can take an industrial design course and learn about this stuff.

Will we be seeing articles about CEOs who've just learned how the Internet is this big thing that's full of pipes that all the cool kids are using these days?

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PICS ON GROUND: Cabbies PARALYZE London in Uber rebellion

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Exploit loophole; profit.

"I am not saying Uber is a bad idea, just that the playing field must be level."

Then the London-specific legislation that created the 'closed shop' Black Cab sector should be deleted. The London Black Cab regulations tip the playing field heavily in the Black Cabs' favour, not Uber's.

Although The Knowledge requires drivers to learn every single road and point of interest it covers, that coverage is actually only a 6-mile radius around Charing Cross (technically, a statue at the southern end of Trafalgar Square – the point from which London's distances are measured).

Last time I checked, London is rather more than 12 miles across.

The Knowledge test therefore doesn't cover most London's suburbia in any great detail. It only requires knowledge of the major trunk roads, for example. Nor are points of interest covers much outside that central core.

This explains the tourist-centric approach of so many Black Cab drivers: their much-vaunted knowledge only makes them useful to people visiting the centre of London. If you want a Black Cab to take you from Heathrow to a south London suburb, their "Knowledge" will be of negligible benefit.

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EU privacy A-Team tells Google: Get a grip and obey OUR laws

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Oh Thank You Rubbish EU

@Richard Jones 1:

"That ECJ ruling means individuals can request the removal of old and out of date links that are not in the public interest from web search engine results pages."

Which part of that sentence did you not understand? (Hint: I've highlighted the bit you appear to have missed.)

So, no, if you've been convicted of medical malpractice and banned from ever performing surgery again, you do NOT get to demand that information be wiped out. Because it is in the "public interest" for it to be available. This is something Mr. Wales also appears to have misunderstood.

It's not about offering a blanket "Oh! Me! Me! Forget me!" form to fill in. Google can't rely entirely on automation for checking such requests. If they're doing just that and deleting links that should not have been deleted, that's Google's fault, not the EU's.

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First iOS, now Android to get fondleslab Office ahead of Windows

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Of course, there's also the fact that the Android and iOS touch interfaces aren't that dissimilar, so it's probably easier for them to do.

As others have pointed out, Windows Surface Pro tablets already have full-fat Office, while Windows Surface RT tablets have a slightly cut-down one. Both tablets are often bundled with a keyboard+trackpad cover, so the touch-screen element is moot: any Office power user will be using keyboard shortcuts all the time anyway. A touch UI for these platforms is a nice-to-have. For the likes of the iPad and Galaxy Notes, a touch UI is an absolute necessity.

And no, Google Apps, Libre/OpenOffice, and their ilk, barely compete with the late, unlamented and unloved Microsoft Works suite. They're not even close to feature parity with the full Microsoft Office suite. The latter is also a complete development platform. Its customisability and extensibility are so far beyond those other applications that it's actually a stretch to even refer to them as "competition".

If Google Apps is good enough for your needs, you were never in Microsoft's target market for Office in the first place. Why would you even buy an Office 365 subscription?

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Oi, ebook price fixer. Yes, you, Apple – stop whinging and get your chequebook out

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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The "swipe to unlock" and "rounded corners" issues were *design* patents, relating to the Apple design 'language'. (Yes, that's a thing. Go look it up.)

Take a look at how Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 (and Windows 8) lock screens work. Yes, you "swipe to unlock", but—here's the kicker—they're NOT covered by that patent, which is very, very specific. Which is why Apple aren't chasing them for money. Samsung, on the other hand, *slavishly* ripped the Apple design off. Not just a little bit, but *completely*. Granted, they learned their lesson in later products, but if you look at those early Android v1.x and v2.x devices, you can see how sincere Samsung were being with their 'flattery'.

The argument—specious as it is—that such features are "obvious" falls at the first hurdle: if it's so bloody obvious, *why didn't anyone else do it first?* NOBODY had anything remotely like the iPhone when that device was launched.

If we're allowed to copyright implementations of ideas in the form of the written word, or music, or film and video, why the hell is it so wrong to apply similar protection to the *implementation* of a user interface? Those are bloody hard to get right too. (Just ask Microsoft.)

Not that I think Apple are saints. Steve Jobs' own emails blew the foot off their ebook publishing case the article refers to. While what Apple did was wrong on a technical point of law, it's hard to see how a company with a mere 10% market share of ebook sales at best was the dangerous one in breach of anti-trust regulations, while Amazon—who have over 90%—were not. Something's clearly not right here. But Apple's lawyers must have been aware that the DoJ are obliged to uphold the law as it is, not how Apple (and others) might want it to be. That law is clearly in need of updating given the rise of digital monopsonies.

But even I think Apple need to admit they screwed this one up. Sometimes, even Steve Jobs got it very, very wrong.

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How to strip pesky copyright watermarks from photos ... says a FACEBOOK photo bod

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Wait a minute

"I don't think it does a bit of harm and I don't think it changes the issues of copyright at all. It's not "theft" because anyone who's going to do this is probably either too cheap or too poor/in debt to buy the photographs anyway."

No, it's not theft. It's counterfeiting and it's wrong for exactly the same f*cking reason you're not allowed to just print off your own banknotes or mint your own coins. You are devaluing the product. THAT is why there IS a victim here: the copyright owner. Every time a photographer, or artist, or some other creator, produces something protected by copyright, that work has value. (If it didn't, why would you even want to copy it to begin with?)

You copy that work and suddenly, the original creator is faced with having to compete with hundreds of freeloaders offering that copyrighted work for free.

You are devaluing the work. Claiming that a counterfeiter wouldn't have paid anyway is irrelevance: they're still devaluing that work by making more copies of it available for free, thus undermining the creator's right to the fruits of their own labour.

Without decent copyright protection, not even the FOSS community would survive, because you can't have copyleft without copyright.

The correct term for this crime—and it is a crime—is counterfeiting. Not "piracy". Not "theft". Counterfeiting. There is no escaping from that definition. It's very well defined in law.

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The British are coming! The British are coming! And they're buying Surface fondleslabs

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Sony

Unfortunately, Sony's slab comes with free theft of my personal data courtesy of Google.

I'd be able to understand if Google were actually paying *us* a slice of the pie every time they sold our data on, but they're not. They're taking something I've created without recompense. (Android itself is just a loss-leader for them. Compared to everything else they do, the cost of maintaining and updating Android is a rounding error in their annual budget.)

Google's a parasitical business model of the worst kind. For all the invective aimed at the likes of Apple and Microsoft, at least the product they're selling isn't *me*.

Privacy is a precious thing: once you've lost it, it's damned hard to get it back.

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Tesla's TOP SECRET gigafactories: Lithium to power world's vehicles? Let's do the sums

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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"Meanwhile, given the amount of crust that exists to process, the sooner we start, the sooner we have something that we just need to retool to allow for said next big thing."

All this talk of crusts makes me wonder if there isn't a book to be written about this: "Fray Bentos Economics: Why All The World Is Just A Great Big Pie".

All we need to do is dig through the Earth's flaky pastry crust and extract all the tasty meat* we need. Anything else is just gravy.

And, yes, I really did write all that just for that last punchline. Weak, wasn't it? Time to stop procrastinating.

* (Might not contain actual meat.)

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A budget phablet, what a curious thing: Reg puts claws to the Lumia 1320

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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I've had one for a couple of weeks now...

... and it's pretty damned good.

My only quibbles with it are:

1. The flip-cover case I bought for it is rubbish (and actually makes it overheat at times)

2. The 8GB built-in storage is too little. Luckily, it works just fine with a 64GB µSD card.

3. Point 2 makes installing the preview version of Windows Phone 8.1 a must. (Good thing that's free and easy to do. It includes support for installing apps on the SD card.)

The screen is excellent. Although two-hundred-and-something PPI doesn't sound like much, it's easy to forget that this is similar to what an iPad Air offers. I certainly haven't had any issues with it, though as the main reason for my giving away my old iPhone 4 and getting this is the decreasing quality of my eyesight, my opinion on this aspect probably isn't worth much. It looks plenty sharp enough to me, and it's even visible in bright sunlight too.

If I'd had the money—Italian operators don't like subsidising unless you're willing to commit to a usurious contract over a ridiculously long period—I'd have gone with the 1520 for the increased storage and future proofing, but I don't. That said, I've not regretted the purchase.

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Watch: Kids slam Apple as 'BORING, the whole thing is BORING'

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: "Computers? Beep beep beep. Does not compute! What use are they?"

^

This.

Kids are *born* wanting to learn. Our education systems beat that desire out of them, because most teachers are mediocre at best and fall back on telling, not guiding. Guiding is harder, but a lot more rewarding.

The world's education systems are still fundamentally based on precepts invented by the Victorians. This really, really needs to change, but it will require major upheavals.

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Sean Timarco Baggaley
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"What they didn't have any difficulty doing was speaking on camera, proving this writer's suspicion that Americans are trained to act on telly from the minute they emerge from the womb"

Actually, I suspect this has more to do with the US education system. I don't remember ever being asked to do a "Show and Tell" session in class at school when I were a lad, but these—and other public speaking / presentation skills—seem to be much more commonly taught in the US.

In the UK, even into the 1980s, the underlying philosophy in education was that the public education system was primarily intended to train up good, obedient little worker drones who knew their place. The managers, politicians, etc., came mainly from the Eton and Oxbridge set.

The upshot of which is that British school-leavers tended not to have quite as much self-confidence as their US counterparts.

This situation does appear to have improved since my school days, but I think the US is still way ahead on this.

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Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: How things have changed

Myth 1: Xerox did not sue Apple until much later, and that suit was mainly an attempt to settle primacy in aspects of GUI design at a time when patenting in IT was still a very new idea. Apple PAID for access to the PARC research. In shares. Shares that would be worth staggering sums of money today.

Myth 2: PARC's GUI was lovely and polished and ready to roll into a (relatively) low-cost consumer / corporate desktop computer. Not true: It was actually very crude and certainly not ready for a consumer or business desktop computer. The first Xerox Star machines cost an absolute mint—even more than Apple's own Lisa range.

A hell of a lot of additional work was needed. Guess who ended up doing that work? Hint: people who used to work at PARC and moved to Apple. (Drag and drop*? That was invented at Apple, along with overlapping windows and a number of other features we take for granted today.)

Myth 3: The WIMP GUI concept was some kind of closely-guarded secret. Utter bollocks: it was already a well known idea—see other replies in this forum—and the PARC people sure as hell didn't invent it.

What PARC *did* do was create a working implementation that could be *seen in action*. THAT is what gave Steve Jobs (and, later, Bill Gates) their moments of epiphany: it's all very well *reading* about graphical user interfaces, but it's a lot easier to understand the concept when you actually see one in action and play around with it.

* (not object linking and embedding, which was implemented first at PARC, but the 'drag an object with the mouse and drop it onto something else' user interface itself. As I said, the original Star environment was nowhere near as complete and polished as people seem to think it was.)

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Chuh. Heavy, dude: HP ZBook 17 mobile workstation

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Like or not, a Pro machine by the (ancient) book.

Except...

The 17" screen is a mediocre 1920 x 1080 model. (Yes, there's a 10-bit-per-pixel version, but that's *extra*, and it's STILL the same crap resolution.) Even worse, there's this quote from the review:

"There are 15-inch and 14-inch versions too, the former available with a 3200 x 1800-pixel option [...]"

Why the hell isn't the 17" model available with that resolution?

As for the Blu-ray drive: remove it and re-jig the interior slightly so that you can have three drives: one boot drive (SSD), and two additional drives in a RAID 0 or 1 arrangement (according to need).

If you really need to use BD for archival purposes, get a proper auto-loader / writer unit and plug it into a cheap PC back at the office. When you return there, just dump the data you want to archive onto that PC and let it create the archive disks overnight. Job done, and you don't need to cart around sufficient blank Blu-ray disks (plus spares for the inevitable coaster) with you when you're out and about.

If you're truly paranoid, you can get an external drive or two as well and plug one in to backup your RAIDed drives whenever you want. Chances are, this will still weigh less than the BD drive + bunch of blank disks.

If you need to watch, or master, Blu-ray disks, an external unit is a better option anyway: they're not exactly the most reliable things ever made, so you might as well get one that won't require you to open up the machine to replace it when it inevitably dies on you just when you need it most.

So, no, I'm not impressed by this offering. It's only a "pro" unit if you define a professional as someone who requires everything, including the kitchen sink. For the life of me, I can't think of *any* profession for which this unit actually makes any sense. Especially at that price point and with such a low-res* screen.

* (Yes, "low-res". I've owned *CRT* monitors that had higher resolutions. Come back, Iiyama, all is forgiven!)

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Tech that we want (but they never seem to give us)

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Can anything be on my Christmas list?

"Apple, for some reason, seem to be getting away with it. I can't remember a micro USB adapter being included with any of my recent devices."

Did your non-Apple device not come with a suitable USB-to-micro-USB cable?

Apple's chargers all have a standard USB socket. There's nothing non-standard about them. You can plug any USB cable you want into the things and they'll charge it just fine.

The Apple-specific component is the separate USB-to-Lightning cable, which is only a problem if you have multiple devices to charge including some non-Apple ones. Is having to unplug one cable and plug in another really such a painful ordeal, given that you'll be doing that at the other end of the cable anyway? Do your pretentious hipster neighbours keep you awake all night with their incessant pointing and laughing? Oh, the humanity! Heaven forfend! How will you survive?

Of course, you could always just buy one of those third-party chargers with multiple USB sockets instead. There: problem solved.

Now, if you'll all please stop interrupting me, I'd like to get back to work on world peace.

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Sean Timarco Baggaley
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"You missed out the best reason for getting one. It's not from Apple."

Because Google are such paragons of virtue: They'd never, ever, consider reselling your personal information to other companies, despite that being their core business!

I sometimes wonder why Snowden bothered.

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Microsoft Surface 3 Pro: Flip me over, fondle me up

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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"Surface ***3***. i.e. this is our 3rd attempt after 2 dismal failures"

Oh?

And which was the first version of Windows to start selling in large numbers?

Oh, right: it was Windows 3.1.

Microsoft are very good at iterating. They don't give up after just one go; if they think the concept has legs, they'll keep trying and trying until they get it right.

And it's not just Microsoft either; the Mac was Apple's *second* attempt at producing a GUI-based desktop computer. Similarly, the iPhone and iPad were predated by Apple's own Newton by some years.

It's extremely rare to get it right first time.

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Comcast exec says wired broadband customers should pay-as-they-go

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Lets say what this really is about

^ This.

TV as we know it is going through a massive upheaval. Netflix was one of the first to disrupt the old guard of broadcast TV.

In 5-10 years' time, many TV broadcasters will be staggering against the ropes and ready to collapse, while the few who saw the writing on the wall (e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, the BBC*, etc.) will have made the shift to Internet-based distribution.

* (No, seriously: Look closely at what they've been doing with their 'iPlayer' technology. And their recent announcement about their "BBC 3" channel going online-only is likely to be the first of many over the next few years. The only issue is how it'll all be funded in future, but there are all sorts of options for that too.)

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Survey: Patent litigation skyrocketing, trolls top 10 sueball chuckers

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Still missing the point

If you don't like the rules of the game, either change the rules, or change the game. You don't get to just whinge about it and demand that "somebody" does something on your behalf. You ARE that "somebody".

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Feature-phones aren't dead, Moto – oldsters still need them

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Buttons

Ironically, the recent Nokia Lumia smartphones actually have touch screens that can be operated with gloves on. And the displays are good in sunlight as well. I do hope Microsoft are aware of the Lumia team's strengths and ensure they keep them up.

Using any electronic device in the rain is a bad idea, but that's what Bluetooth earpieces and headsets are for.

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Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Physical buttons FTW!

Or... you can just hold down the big, tactile "Home" button on an iPhone and just *tell* it what you want it to do. ("Call wife", "Send message to [CONTACT]", etc.) The dictation works very well now too. Apple's "Siri" feature has been around since late 2011 now, and the technology itself predates even that.

You can do this on Android devices too, as well as on Windows Phone 8.1 (when that comes out next month; I have the beta installed on my new Nokia 1320.)

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China 'in discussions' about high-speed rail lines to London, Germany – and the US

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: "Monorail, monorail, monorail!"

Who the hell bases their entire knowledge of a technology from a single episode of a bloody cartoon?

Besides, that episode was not about the merits or otherwise of the specific technology chosen – they had to pick *something* to focus on and monorails just pulled the short straw. It could have been anything – high-speed rail, a new airport, a tunnelled urban metro, Zeppelins, you name it.

The POINT was the wilful ignorance of the townsfolk and their utter failure to think for themselves. This was a common thread back then, and still is: pretty much anyone can win over the town if they have sufficient charm and the gift of the gab. The monorail was merely the McGuffin. (Ironically, given the visual punchline in that episode, selling a used monorail system is actually not that unusual.)

Go visit Japan, China and other part of Asia – hell, even some places in Germany – and you'll find "monorails" (a rather vague term, but "prefabricated modular guideway system" is a bit of a mouthful) in regular, everyday public transit use. There's nothing inherently wrong with the technology.

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Nintendo says sorry, but there will be NO gay marriage in Tomodachi Life ... EVER

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: They have learned actually

What about non-equality?

We really *are* all different. Women can conceive and give birth; men (currently) cannot. Some of us are left-handed. Some of us have different skin pigmentation. Some of us grew up multi-lingual, while others might never, ever understand what it means to be able to see the world from multiple points of view. Some of us are born into poverty, or into great wealth, or into dysfunctional families, or into loving families. And so on and endlessly on.

True equality isn't possible, short of a global, massive – and very intrusive – government-mandated genetic programme, coupled with family and childcare standardisation, all on a level that would make the 2-metre-high docs for ITIL look like a short story.

I'm much more interested in the French philosophy: Vive la différence! Stop trying to homogenise humanity and just grow the f*ck up. Everyone is different, but that's a good thing. Because being different can be a strength.

What we need far more of are policies that level the playing field. We cannot do anything to change our own differences, but we can change our environment to ensure those differences can become advantages rather than obstacles.

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The verdict is in: Samsung to pay Apple $120m chump change, but gets tiny rebate

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Wait a minute...

"Quick links and Slide to Unlock (frivolous features) >100 million"

Hindsight always has 20/20 vision. It's also easy to forget that this lawsuit has been rumbling on for years and predates the 3.x and 4.x Android releases. It's mainly concerned with older Android v1.x and v2.x devices.

Nevertheless, you don't get to blame Apple for the collective failures of their rivals to come up with a successful multi-touch UI for smartphones (and, later, tablets). None of the hardware that appeared in the first iPhone was new; Nokia, SonyEricsson, Samsung, HTC, etc. all had their chance to nail it first. That they did not is entirely their own damned fault.

Furthermore, Microsoft have clearly shown that you don't have to slavishly copy iOS to create a good multi-touch UI. So Samsung cannot play the "But... you HAVE to do it that way!" card either. Which is exactly what they were implying back in the v1.x and v2.x Android era.

(Incidentally, the "Slide to Unlock" patent is very specific. It doesn't apply to the method used on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 / Windows 8 devices, for example.)

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Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: $119.6m

Strange how many allegedly intelligent people forget that protecting patents is a legal obligation for an entity like Apple. Same goes for Samsung, Microsoft, Nokia, and so on. These companies have no choice but to hurl sue-balls at each other with tiresome regularity.

This is what happens when you let the very lawyers who benefit from such a system enter politics. They're hardly going to do their friends and colleagues out of a job, are they? (A similar situation exists with accounting, banking and finance. Guess how many politicians are involved in those fields too.)

What you're whining about is a symptom. For the underlying cause, go look in a mirror.

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Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: "Beloved products like the iPhone..."

Have you ever heard of a TV programme called "Top Gear"?

People have been treating inanimate objects like this since prehistoric times.

We often view anything that has complex behaviours as being capable of independent thought and action. (Especially if the thing in question also exhibits unpredictable, "chaotic" behaviour, though only up to a point.) This is why some worship deities, while others worship cars, ships, steam locomotives, or smartphones.

Believe it or not, designers are well aware of this human trait. The good ones will deliberately exploit it. And it's not just product design either. Good marketing people can also use this to their advantage when it comes to branding. After all, Apple and Samsung are also complex entities with more than a hint of the unpredictable.

And if that sounds like the formula for a cliché romantic comedy, there's a very good reason: Design patterns are everywhere and Homo Sapiens is no exception.

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A real pot-boiler kicks off Reg man's quid-a-day nosh challenge

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: What's the point?

"So the homeless / hungry kinds of challenge are different because someone is putting themselves in the particular situation they are campaigning about - and then telling you what it's like."

I suspect most people are already well aware of exactly "what it's like". Turns out it sucks. And is often quite death-y.

This particular "awareness" stunt is about malaria, not starvation. I'm not sure how picking an arbitrary weekly amount to spend on food helps either. £5 is more than a month's average salary in some particularly poverty-stricken countries – and spending said money in Spain and the UK, where the cost of living is actually quite high, doesn't signify anything of value either. So far, all I've learned is that you can buy 2 kg. of rice in the UK for less than it costs in Spain. Never mind that you have to get it back to Spain as well.

We know malaria isn't nice. It's called "malaria" – a name that literally translates as "bad air". There's a clue right there. And that nice Mrs. Gates and her feckless wastrel of a husband have actually been doing something rather more concrete about it than trying to live off £5 of egg butties and a bit of risotto for a week.

I'm all for doing good deeds, but I genuinely don't understand what the point is of "raising awareness" about something most educated people already know plenty about. Despite the increasing link-bait, this is The Register, not FOX News.

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Awkward? Elop now answers to ex-junior Nadella as Microsoft closes Nokia buyout

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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"...grand turnaround plan from Elop that was supposed to save Nokia."

Last time I checked, Nokia still exists: it's just changed its focus. Nokia have done this before: its ancestors used to manufacture comms cables and rubber products. (Similarly, Nintendo originally made playing cards.) Today's Nokia is focusing on other things, like telecoms infrastructure. It's still going. It's not dead. Even the name continues.

Shareholders don't give a toss how a business makes its profits, so long as it makes some.

Nokia's mobile phone teams were in a huge mess. The writing was on the wall for Symbian as far back as 2003: they just let it rest on its laurels. Then Apple caught Nokia with their strategic management team's pants down and their hand dipping into a nearly empty box of tissues.

Similarly, System 40 was trundling away nicely at the low end, but landfill Android devices appeared quickly and started banging nails into that coffin too. Nokia bought in their "Asha" platform, but this is still a very limited OS and unlikely to stick around for much longer now that Microsoft are calling the shots.

What's important here is that Nokia managed all that before Elop came along. By the time Elop turned up, his only option was to find a buyer for this increasingly irrelevant branch of Nokia... but who's going to buy a mobile devices department that's still buggering about with not one, but two increasingly obsolete operating systems that few people are interested in?

Hence Windows. Elop came from Microsoft, so he not only knew what MS were working on, but it's also simply what he knows. Android would have turned Nokia into yet another "me too" company, forced to fight behemoths like Samsung and Sony – the company wouldn't have stood a chance.

Windows Phone across the board seems the most likely future for Microsoft's new acquisition. Keeping one or two Android-based devices on the market has some advantages even for Microsoft: they've recently released a very good version of their Office suite for the iOS platform; there's no reason to assume they're not considering something similar for Android too. And now that Microsoft also have an own-brand Android device that looks like a Windows Phone 8 one, they can bundle MS Office with it for free.

Remember, MS are switching to a "devices and services" philosophy. Like Nokia, they're changing at a fundamental level, but you don't turn a company that size around in a few minutes. It'll be a few years yet before we'll know if this strategy has worked. This acquisition adds some of the final pieces to the puzzle.

What Apple have become to the consumer, MS are aiming to be for the enterprise. This is going to be a very interesting decade or so.

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Patch iOS, OS X now: PDFs, JPEGs, URLs, web pages can pwn your kit

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: Did they fix the bug where you can't use a Swype keyboard?

Have they fixed the bug where all your personal data are belong to Google?

Christ, most Android device manufacturers still can't be arsed to support any product that's more than about six picoseconds old.

As for Swype: why would I bother with a kludge like that when I can just dictate or connect to a proper keyboard over Bluetooth?

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WiLAN files appeal in Apple WiFi case

Sean Timarco Baggaley
Silver badge

Re: So a company with a real tech patent is bad

The "rounded corners" issue is purely a design language one related to "trade dress" laws. These issues are indeed protected by relevant IP laws. They're the reason you can't just go ripping-off the Coca-Cola swirly logo style on a red background for your own brand if you happen to be making carbonated soft drinks, even if you use a different name. The point is that that style is very recognisable: anyone who sees it on first glance will conflate your product with theirs. It's like slapping a "Sorny" label on a TV: Sony will come down on you like a ton of bricks. Guaranteed.

If you actually read the relevant documentation, you'd know that the "rounded corners" bit is just a very small part of the whole: Apple were pointing out that all their devices share a common 'design language', and that they believe this is covered under trade dress laws.

In most countries, they're right.

*

As for "slide to unlock": it's strange how everyone seems to think this is so "obvious", yet nobody thought it obvious enough to use it before Apple did. Not one company managed to nail the multi-touch smartphone / tablet GUI until Apple came along, because not one damned company other than Apple truly groks UX design. Not Samsung. Not LG, Motorola, Sony-Ericsson... Not even the once-mighty Nokia.

If it's so bloody obvious, show us the prior art. Show us the commercially available device that came anywhere near close to what Apple made.

You can't, can you? You can only point at feeble attempts like the P900, the Palm Pilot, the iPaq, and their ilk, most of which relied on a stylus. And none of which had a full multi-touch UI at all. Sure, you might be able to dredge up some niche product that cost two arms and four legs at launch, but that's like pointing at an F15 and claiming it's exactly the same as a commercial airliner.

(Surprisingly, Microsoft have actually learned from, and are genuinely competing with, Apple today. They needed a couple of years to get going, but, since the loss of WebOS, MS are pretty much the only game in town that is actually striking out on its own journey, rather than following the herd. Say what you like about its implementation in Windows 8, but ModernUI really is very good on mobile platforms.)

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CEO Tim Cook sweeps Apple's inconvenient truths under a solar panel

Sean Timarco Baggaley
Silver badge

Emissions from a new building that's made of concrete? Seriously? You do realise that buildings tend to last for quite a while, right? Take a look outside if you live anywhere near the centre of a major city (except Coventry or Dresden) and you'll see very few buildings that don't have a design life of at least 50 years, and typically much more. Apple's new building will also be expected to stand for at least as long. Many buildings have stood for centuries.

Yes, the bulldozers and concrete will have a small effect, but over the entire life of a building like this, it's a rounding error. Especially when you consider the reason why Apple is pushing for this project: their current multi-campus setup means a lot of energy is wasted just getting around 1 Infinite Loop.

Compare with wind farms: I'm pretty sure you need some pretty heavy plant to put those up, and they're not made of fairy dust either. But wind farms aren't just massive structures: they're also massive machines, with very large moving parts. It doesn't get much more environmentally expensive than that. These things currently have a design life cycle of just 20-25 years. (The turbines themselves last even less, according to some reports.)

Some things are genuinely worth worrying about, but the one-off, "environmental capital" expense of a building like Apple's new HQ is not one of them.

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Which sweaty exec dreamt up Office for iOS? Ballmer, Ballmer, Ballmer

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: What next?

Actually, even some of the most rabid Apple sites are saying that Office for iPad is pretty bloody good for a v1.0 release.

Yes, you need an Office 365 subscription to unlock the full feature-set. So what? Did you expect Microsoft to just give it away for free? And if the "Freemium" model is good enough for games, why shouldn't Microsoft be allowed to use it too?

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Torvalds rails at Linux developer: 'I'm f*cking tired of your code'

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: coding

I was raised bilingual, as are many others. Both of Linus' parents were Swedish and that language would most likely have predominated in the home, but Suomi would have been the language used in educational institutions, with a strong understanding of English required for most computer-related courses due to the Anglo-centric nature of most programming languages.

That said, Scandinavians typically learn multiple languages in school from an early age as a matter of course – typically from the UK equivalent of primary school and up, as the younger you are, the easier it is to learn new languages. Most will be taught their native language, plus two others, often including English, with German also popular.

For what it's worth, I've always considered programming as mere translation, nothing more. The trick is to understand how the target audience – i.e. the computer – 'thinks', and work within their frames of reference, but that's a given for any language. I used to get weird looks from colleagues when I told them I really could think in the programming languages I was using.

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Newsnight goes sour on Tech City miracle

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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I was wondering what happened to Demis Hassabis – a child prodigy whose name seemed to be everywhere for a while. "Theme Park" (Bullfrog) and "Republic: The Revolution" (Elixir) were some of the games he was responsible for.

Interesting that he's gotten into much the same field as Jeff Hawkins. Shame his company was bought up by Google as that only goes to support Orlowski's (and my) view of the "Silicon Roundabout" hype.

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Sticky Tahr-fy pudding: Ubuntu 14.04 slickest Linux desktop ever

Sean Timarco Baggaley
Silver badge

You know, what the world of IT really, really needs is for every OS to be based on the same, 40-year-old, UNIX design.

Because that's clearly the answer to every technical problem from yesterday, through today, and forever into the future. UNIX is perfect. All hail f*cking UNIX.

One thing Microsoft has managed to achieve – beyond all reasonable expectations – is to maintain a viable alternative to that ancient UNIX design. Granted, they often mess up the GUI design – Windows 1-3.0, anyone? Windows ME? Windows Vista? – but then, Canonical and GNOME don't exactly have an unblemished record in this field either. Even Apple make mistakes: their old "Dashboard Widgets" technology hasn't exactly taken the world by storm, for example.

Furthermore, WIMP GUIs are designed for new users. There is no excuse for claiming to be a professional or expert in IT and not knowing the keyboard shortcuts. Those shortcuts have NOT changed in Windows 8; it literally took me five minutes to learn the changes, and even then, Windows 8 has added new shortcuts, not taken away the old ones. Hell, it even comes with a tutorial. If you still can't work out that the Desktop mode is basically that from Windows 7 with flatter icons and better performance, the problem is with you, not the OS.

If there's one thing nobody working in technology should ever be afraid of, it's change.

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We dig into the GTech GDrive Mobile ... and watch WORST tear-down vid OF ALL TIME

Sean Timarco Baggaley
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Re: What I don't understand is why bother?

Thunderbolt does for PCI Express and DisplayPort buses what eSATA does for SATA: It's basically PCIe and DisplayPort on a wire, so you no longer need to provide space inside a computer's case for traditional expansion slots. (Hence the recent Mac Pro redesign.)

For external storage, PCIe offers another advantage: it operates entirely independently of the CPU. USB keeps its price low by making the CPU to do much of the heavy lifting, taking valuable processing power away from your applications.

What the benchmarks in the article don't show – and they should – is the additional processing overheads imposed by using USB. Yes: the raw speed looks identical, but if you're having to give up a CPU core to achieve it, it's going to brutally hammer the performance of any high-end video editing suite you're using at the same time. Even Aperture and Lightroom will be noticeably more sluggish.

Trust me: if you're working in a field where processing large lumps of media is a core activity, you will care about this. It's why Apple redesigned their Mac Pros the way they did: that machine has the equivalent of 18 PCIe expansion slots. (Or 15 + 3 x 4K displays if you prefer.) All that's changed is that those slots are now on the outside of the machine, allowing the engineers to optimise the hell out of the arrangement of the core components inside the case.

That is what Thunderbolt can do that USB cannot. USB isn't even playing the same game, let alone in the same league.

Thunderbolt comes into its own in the high-end professional markets, where the cost of the actual computer itself is tiny compared to all the storage and other peripherals you need to connect to it. No, most readers here won't need that level of power, but it most definitely has a market.

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Ancient telly, check. Sonos sound system, check. OMG WOAH

Sean Timarco Baggaley
Silver badge

Re: Snobby

"Call me a snob..."

Fine: You're a snob. Who also can't spell "bass".

The reviewer made it crystal clear that he was comparing the Sonos to an older TV. Given that's what most people will have, it's a perfectly valid comparison to make. And, yes, pretty much anything would beat that.

As for why anyone would pay £500+ for something like this: you do know that the UK has some of the smallest homes on Earth, right? Many of us can barely find space on the wall for the TV, let alone for a subwoofer, amplifier, and veritable multitude of speakers. (And let's not forget the wiring involved too.)

Yes, there are compromises made with these small form-factor designs, but they're still plenty good enough for the 99% of customers who don't still think they're so special that they can hear the difference between FLAC and high-quality MP4 audio files. (Despite all the research proving that practically nobody can actually do so.)

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Apple to switch HUMAN iPhone-juicer-fiddlers with ROBOTS – report

Sean Timarco Baggaley
Silver badge

Dear Jasper,

So, a Chinese manufacturer is going to make increasing use of automation on battery production line that produces iPhone batteries? Given that increasing automation is standard practice – and has been for years – among manufacturers, I'm not even sure why this is even considered news.

Also, last time I checked, Apple didn't own any factories in China, despite constant, ignorant media bollocks to the contrary. I expect such headlines from the BBC, Stephen Fry, or the Daily Mail, but not from a website that claims to be aimed at the Information Technology industry! If I wanted to read that kind of childishness, ignorance and FUD, I'd read your article comments.

Apple isn't "switching" a damned thing: Foxconn (and other Chinese suppliers) are.

Robots aren't new to the world; they're only new to China, which has, until very recently, been able to rely on a very cheap workforce instead. That China would have to adopt them eventually was always a given: it's the nature of a "developing" nation to aim to become a "developed" nation, but the price of doing so invariably includes losing your dirt-cheap workforce.

Please, for the love of Codd, stop heading down the plughole to click-baitism. The Register ought to be better than that.

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Is the World Wide Web for luvvies and VCs – or for all of us?

Sean Timarco Baggaley
Silver badge

Re: Berners-Lee and media luvvies?

@pacman7de:

The problem is that there are already plenty of Great Charters that are supposed to be protecting basic rights. The US even has a couple that are rather well known.

Like the endless flood of pointless new laws by knee-jerkist career politicians with no clue how the real world works, the hard part isn't telling people what they should and shouldn't do, but enforcing it.

And then there's the small matter of the Internet not being a public space. It's a network of mostly private networks, often connected by private infrastructure*. Freedom of Speech and all that jazz only apply to public spaces, not to private ones. There's a reason why an audience member can't just stand up in the middle of a stage play and start reciting bits of Shakespeare at the actors: their right to freedom of speech ended the moment they stepped into the theatre. Private property; their gaff, their rules. The Internet is no different.

Neither Facebook nor Google are doing anything wrong or evil. All their users have been notified, often repeatedly, that they are the product those companies are selling. If you don't like how they run their businesses, stop using them. It really is that simple.

* (No, you don't get to trot out the "British Telecom was once publicly owned!" cliché either: the GPO was privatised back in the early '80s. The GPO didn't have anything like the same infrastructure at the time of its privatisation.)

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