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* Posts by Pete 2

2317 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

Brits turned off by Smart TVs

Pete 2
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Replacement cycles

> we own fewer Smart TVs than folk in other major European economies

Presumably a lot of brits bought "high definition" or at least HD-ready tellies for the last time a british sports team got somewhere close to a final (wasn't there some sort of football thing a few years ago?). If so, they're not really going to upgrade the box they bought then. Not until someone throws a games controller at the screen or the CCFLs finally die and the repair costs exceed the replacement price.

Plus, we shouldn't forget that a great deal of the content on TV today is either repeats of old, old stuff, or daft reality/talent shows - for which internet connectivity or even HD is irrelevant. Added to which, there's always the disincentive with all things televisual that the box will turn out to be smarter than its owner. Maybe a rename from "smart TV" is in order?

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Paul Allen proposes new space launcher

Pete 2
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How will this puppy abort a launch?

Taking a wild leap, I'd assume this aircraft is designed to take off with rocket and land ONLY without it's payload. That means that each flight/launch has got to be successful. No last minute holds or delays. Once the aircraft's wheels leave the ground, that rocket's either going into orbit or into the ocean.

Now that sort of dependency is probably OK for a mature launch vehicle: one that's had, what? several dozen successful lunches - but to assume that from day#1 the number of "ooops-es" will be low enough to not have customers running back to conventional players is quite a lot to ask for.

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Higgs boson hunters have god particle in their sights

Pete 2
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Gives mass to other particles?

So how can a 126GeV boson impart mass to an electron with a rest mass of 0.51MeV?

Do you need to get lots of electrons together into some sort of timeshare - where they each get 2 weeks of the boson every year (actually, with that provisional energy, it would be more like 2 minutes per year, than 2 weeks).

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Jimbo Wales ponders Wikipedia blackout

Pete 2
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A dangerous course

> Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales is contemplating taking [it] down – temporarily

Apart from having to face the uncomfortable truth that very few people (leaving aside those who define their personalities by controlling their own little wiki fiefdoms) might notice - or care, there's a bigger issue to consider.

What gives this guy the right to say "OK this whole mess will be closed for X number of days"? While it is traditionally his "baby", he effectively gifted it to the world. If he's going to spit his dummy and take it back just because of a little local politics in one small part (the USA is only 5% of the world's population) of the internet, that doesn't bode well for how he'd react if the Wiki mafia (i.e. the editors) decided to go in a direction that he, personally, disagreed with.

If the guy genuinely believed in freedom he'd find another way to demonstrate his political leanings. Causing (some small) inconveniences to other people who have may not have even heard of SOPA, probably have no understanding of it, definitely have no influence over it's passing and ultimately have bigger things to worry about, strikes me as a childish act - and one that could set a precedent with some unintended consequences.

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iPad 3 out in March/April say part maker moles

Pete 2
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I'll be waiting

> The new tablet's key feature is expected to be a 2048 x 1536 display

Not for the iPad but for the new generation of lappies that (hopefully) it will spawn. All with decent resolution screens to match the marketing spec that the iPad3 will set. Even if you need a magnifying glass to get the full benefit from them.

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God particle may be within our grasp

Pete 2
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And then what?

Once CERN does announce its discovery of the Higgs - either soon or at some time in the future, what do all the researchers do after that?

Do all the physicists just pack up their bags, have the Big Bang of all leaving parties and wend their various ways, or do they scramble to come up with a new theory in order to secure future funding to keep themselves and their teams in employment.

Discovering a new fundamental particle is all very nice: don't get me wrong. But this seems to be the final part of the Standard Model. After it's been caught I can just imagine all the non particle-physicists saying "OK, they'd got THE ANSWER, now we need loads of megabucks to continue our work in our field, since these guys have now finished doing their stuff."

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Lovefilm dumps Flash, BLINDS Linux fans with Silverlight

Pete 2
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Lock the catflap, but leave the door open

I can appreciate the film industry doesn't want people making illicit copies of it's sequels, prequels, remakes, derivative works and any actual original films that it may make. However, surely the biggest hole in the "we mustn't let customers copy films" strategy is letting people have the DVDs and Bluray discs in their houses, while never knowing what other media copying equipment they may have?

Looking at the Lovefilm rental offerings, it seems that the average punter still has far greater access to the physical media than they do to downloaded material (3 discs per month, compared to 2 hours of download time) and therefore this represents a much bigger threat/opportunity for naughty people to indulge in a spot of copying than trying to secure the online viewing process?

But then again, this is the film industry we're talking about so it's futile to expect rational thought or a considered strategy from them.

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China gets 64 quid Android 4.0 tablet

Pete 2
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alibaba and friends

People who frequent the chinese online bazaars and exporters will have seen many instances of Android tablets available to UK buyers for < 100 USD (plus whatever VAT/import duty you get dinged with)

Just how you'd deal with a warranty claim could be a show-stopper and they don't seem to be A4, but you can definitely get 'em shipped here for not very much, if low prices are your biggest motivation.

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Voyager probe reaches edge of Solar System's 'bubble'

Pete 2
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And what do you find there?

When you get to the edge of the 'bubble' is there a large sign saying "You are now leaving the Solar System. Only space probes travelling to other stars may go beyond this point. Please have your papers ready for security. You are not permitted to carry the following items ..."

More interesting: what language is it written in?

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Man gets £12,500 after girlfriend probes his medical data

Pete 2
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So, nothing for the illegal access?

The article explains that the sums awarded were for the losses the victim sustained as a result of the access to his records - but no mention is made of any award as a consequence of the unauthorised access itself.

So if you or I had our medical records downloaded (by a partner, stalker, nosey bugger or just randomly), but we didn't suffer any losses as a result, this story doesn't sound like we'd be eligible for any remuneration.

It would be interesting to know if the person who accessed this information has been prosecuted and punished for their acts.

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Just who are you and why does it matter?

Pete 2
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One vital piece of information

> questioning more than 5,000

As well as knowing how many people they *did* survey, we need to be told how many declined to take part. If they had to approach (say) 50,000 to get their self-selecting sample that tells us that 90% of people are more guarded and careful about their personal information than want to discuss it with researchers - or potential scammers: there's little to distinguish them when they're "n the field".

That would tend to put a more conservative slant on the results - though by how much is impossible to say. But possibly enough to make a lot of the results less, or very, insignificant as a result. Without that information we can't form an opinion on their results.

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Crack GCHQ's code and become the next James Bond

Pete 2
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In response:

57 20 66 68 20 67 72 6f 6e 70 66 68 20 72 67 76

66 27 6e 20 51 20 46 42 72 20 72 6b 68 70 6e 67

79 6f 2c 72 71 20 72 62 61 66 67 27 7a 20 6e 72

20 61 67 76 6a 20 79 76 20 79 68 65 0a 61 00 00

ha ha!

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James Bond savages the Kardashians

Pete 2
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Though you have to ask ...

Who's the bigger idiot, the one who puts their life on TV or the one who watches it?

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Best Buy fires parting shot at Dixons with closing down sale

Pete 2
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The theory and the practice

While there's no doubt that in law, at least, you may well still have rights - the exercising of those rights becomes harder when your local sales outlet has closed down.

Instead of just being able to haul your malfunctioning goodies along to the place from whence it came, walking up to the service desk and saying "fit it" or "gimme my monkey back", you now have a disinterested voice in a call centre somewhere in the world who will tell you something like:

"Yes we'll pick it up. No we can't say when. No we can't say how long it'll take to replace. No I don't know if you can get a refund ..." and all the other things that call centres say instead of the ideal: "certainly sir, I'll personally bring round a wad of tenners and take the old crap away. See you in 5 minutes" that we can only dream about.

So in terms of a warranty, sure: it's still there - at least in theory. But instead of invoking that warranty at a time and place of your choosing you are now doomed to wait at home for an indeterminate number of days, fearful that if you even step outside to drop some rubbish in the wheelie bin you'll return to a card on the hall floor: "Sorry we missed you" and will have to restart the whole hellish call centre process all over again. No thanks!

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Pete 2
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Knickers on coat hangers

> retail rival Dixons upping its game.

So that's what it was!

I recently had cause to visit a copy of PC World (aka Dixons) to return an item I'd bought online that didn't meet the description on its website. After getting my refund I had a wander round the store to see if they actually stocked the item I thought I'd been buying (they didn't, but the one I'd bought online was there - for 50% more than the website was charging).

It turns out that the store, a fairly large one, had undergone a revamp since my last visit a year or two ago. While the in-store personnel are still as unwilling as ever to make eye-contact, in case you try to ask them something, the store itself was vastly different. It was now much more themed towards the glossy end of the market: with greater emphasis on big TVs, lappies, and shiny things than their previous rather drab piles of stuff in half-opened boxes. It did seem to me that the actual number of products per running foot of shelf space had taken a drop. Gone were the rows and rows of identical products - with 3 different price stickers (all wrong) at various places on the shelf edge. Instead the displays were much more "boutique" and sparse. With individual items tastefully presented and widely spaced - often with just a single product up for grabs.

It was still the same old stuff that they'd been flogging before, but the presentation (if not the availability) seems to have had a makeover. The carpets seemed cleaner, too.

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Ubuntu penguins build Linux TV challenge

Pete 2
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Just missing one feature ...

... it doesn't appear to contain a TV tuner.

Though I suppose if someone was to go into pedant mode (on El Reg, surely not) and analyse the Latin root of the phrase the ability to receive TV signals could be argued to be superfluous. Having said that, both my (real) TV and my DM run on Linux - so calling this tablet/media-player a TV is rather misleading

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Car safety agency sparks e-car battery probe

Pete 2
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Meanwhile, Hollywood breathes a sigh of relief

Electric cars could mark the end of one of the film industries most over-used cliches. Can you imagine a car chase (in electric cars !!! ) or gunfight where one (or preferably all) the vehicles involved don't catch fire or explode at the slightest provocation?

At least this will save the FX people from having to come up with an even more unlikely source for artificial excitement and story-rescuing spectacular scenes. Though it may mean some script rewriting if the resultant explosions (and now they can introduce sparks and lightning and maybe even electrocutions too) don't happen until a day or two after the event.

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UK.gov to build child army of software coders

Pete 2
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First: teach the teachers

Fine words indeed: let's just train a new generation of softies - why didn't anyone think of that before?

However, in order to train all these new games programmers 'n' all you first have to provide some qualified teaching staff. That would tend to imply that some people somewhere will have to be trained in the dark arts of writing software (and the darker arts of writing software that works properly).

BUT THEN you have to persuade these newly qualified and eminently employable people to not dash off and themselves take all the jobs that their freshly qualified pupils were meant to fill. Jobs that pay lots more than they'd get as teachers. Tricky.

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Global warming much less serious than thought - new science

Pete 2
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It's still only guesswork

And now we have another guess.

From what I've read about CC in general, people take some data, guess what that meant, guess again about what caused it, guess whether the same thing will happen in the future, guess whether mankind did/could/will (or not) have any input into the circumstances and then finally extrapolate those guesses into what should (or not) be done.

Now, I do believe that the UK is, on the whole, seeing some more extreme weather than we're used to. And I am receptive to the idea that this is caused by more energy in the atmosphere and oceans. However, since nobody seems to have a model of the atmosphere and oceans that can estimate next week's weather to any degree of accuracy better than a coin-toss, I am not willing to believe that they can translate their guesses about what it all means into any solid, actionable and reliable plan - or tell us if one's needed.

<This is the point where "climate" people pile in and say that their science is not meteorology. Which is a bit like saying biology is not chemistry. They deal with the same basic elements, but at different levels. However to understand the former you *do* need to have a pretty clear understanding of how the latter works and the basic laws it obeys.>

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Shock: Council dumps data wad - doesn't break any laws

Pete 2
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A website for the non-googlers

OK. This site agglomerates a bunch of stuff about Surrey. Where the schools are, the few roads that the council can't weasel out of not gritting, and which parts of the county are really inner-city hell-holes and not the nice leafy 'burbs we all think of as Surrey.

Fair enough - except ISTM most or maybe all of this information is generally available already. Either from surrey.gov.uk - without the "i" -(which already has a helpful "moving to Surrey" section) or the various organisations that provide these services (we're not in 1995 any more - everyone's got a website). The only feature that this idea has is to bring it all into one (more) place, rather than having to search for it yourself, piecemeal.

So if this is all to help people who are less proficient at searching to find stuff then I suppose the question is: how will they find out about this new service?

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Apple crushes High Street in UK web shopping stakes

Pete 2
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Only in hits, not in sales

from the report:

"But the launch of the iPhone 4S twinned with the sad passing of Steve Jobs saw Apple’s web traffic increase five-fold this quarter"

So it's not really that important, as far as surveys go.

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What should a sci-fi spaceship REALLY look like?

Pete 2
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General Products

A #3 sounds like the best bet as a #4 hull could be a little difficult to park (but you wouldn't have to worry about dings and dents)

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Hero dev writes the CODE that COULD SAVE THE WORLD

Pete 2
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Lots of little objects

> Because then you have *lots* of NEOs and they may still be capable of causing havoc.

But that's not really a "destroy", is it. More like a fork() or a split().

Although that could explain why so much code is so flaky - that destroying an object leaves behind lots of little memory fragments that nobody knows anything about.

Note to NASA; Make sure the garbage collector is running.

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Pete 2
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Methods in the madness

OK, so you have a Near Earth Object that you want to destroy:

How about neo.Destroy;

depending on the language you prefer to save the world, but you get the gist of it.

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Facebook 'shrinks' six degrees of separation theory

Pete 2
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This only works until you try to use it.

So what can the average FB-er do with this information? Not a lot, I would suggest.

These people we only know through "friending" aren't real friends. They never call, they never pop round to see you if you're ill, they never buy you a beer, and would drop you like a hot lump of plutonium if you were ever foolish enough to ask them to inconvenience themselves on your behalf - as you or I would if they asked. (And if they do agree to, that's an even better reason to make sure they never, ever find out where you live.)

As it is, most of these degrees of connectedness go through a proportionally speaking, absolutely tiny number of hyper-connected individuals. People (if they are in fact people) who don't know you exist, apart from being a number among their thousands of followers. So the chances of sending them a message along the lines of "since we've been friends now for 6 months, how about a ....." and getting a meaningful reply are infinitesimally small, to the point of making the whole thing pointless.

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Market watcher ayes claim iPad 3 to sport 1536 x 2048 screen

Pete 2
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One heavy iPad

Yeah, and the batteries will be a b@....d

Maybe Apple will be giving away (stop! What was I thinking? that should be SELLING) shopping trolleys to lug it all around in - you never know, they might even be Apple Carts (and patented, too)

Though I have to say, if Apple did come up with an iPad with this sort of resolution (I miss my 2560 x 1920 CRT ) and a half-decent size - say 28inch - display and a keyboard/mouse then I might buy one.

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UK nuclear: Walking into darkness with eyes screwed shut

Pete 2
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The wrong sort of argument

Lewis, Lewis, Lewis!

While I admire your passion and you may even be right, you won't win any arguments. The problem is that to get public opinion in favour of an idea, that public has to lose something they value. It's no good promising "jam tomorrow" or "a bad thing might/will happen". The various financial crises we've been enduring for the past 3 years shows that nobody is prepared to suffer now for advantages later. Not us, not the greeks: nobody.

if we are going to blame the government (and to be fair, it's parties on all sides, colours, beliefs and abilities) for short-term policies, bowing to NIMBY-ism, prevarications or even carelessness it's because these are the politicians that we have decided to give power to. They reflect us.

Sadly the only way to get some action on energy security is for the country to experience its loss. Not to have the price screwed forever upwards like the mythically boiled frog. It needs a SHOCK to kick-start a new initiative, not a gradual phasing in or gradual price increases. However when that shock happens, just like it did for the economy it will (no doubt) be unexpected, severe and blaming all the wrong people for it's causes (and therefore looking at all the wrong remedies for its solution).

When that happens you may well have a schadenfreude moment, for all the good it will do. Though I'd advise you to have all your evidence printed out and a torch handy, as the lights will be off and the computers won't work.

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Chief rabbi: Steve Jobs' Apple lust spreads misery, despair

Pete 2
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@Vic: Me, my Internet and I

> repeated "i" in Apple product names does indeed have exactly the effect

I did see this coming and hoped I'd avoided this thread with reference to the English language. If the effect the Rabbi was referring to was restricted to the English speaking world then he may have had a point. But consumerism and i<products> are both global phenomena - with the vast majority of consumers having no linguistic connection between "I/me" and i<product> names, so the connection fails on that basis.

So far as it being a joke is concerned, I hope he's got planning on making a living from it. I doubt that injecting that sort of bon mot into an otherwise serious piece would have added to it's credibility and I feel sure he could have come up with something better, given the long history of Jewish humour.

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Pete 2
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Someone needs a quiet word

It sounds like someone should tell this guy that the "i" is a reference to "internet", not the first person singular (and then, only in english). Also that "tablet" computer formats are not quite the same thing as the stone tablets of antiquity. Some things just shouldn't be taken literally, no matter how convenient that makes it ti draw the conclusions you've already decided on.

Alternatively, I (me) wouldn't be surprised if his wailing on about iPads is more to do with projecting his own desires that any sort of credible commentary about their affect on consumer society - which predates modern tech by hundreds of years.

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Gov web boss: Our sites look like bleak council estates

Pete 2
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Many attributes more important than a pretty website

My attitude to using government websites is very close to my attitude to shopping. It's a necessary evil and to be minimised. Therefore my approach to both is: get in, get my stuff, get out - with the minimum time spent, no "looking around" and avoiding things that are examples of form over function.

So if this guy is talking about aiding navigation, providing helpful shortcuts and sensible defaults then I'm all for it. But if what he really wants is a vanity site that he can show off to his friends, but takes overly long to load (especially when under stress; such as when the tax deadline looms, masks "the true path" with unnecessary eye-candy, or requires specific browsers/plugins/OS's to support the wizziness - then forget it.

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Hypersonic missile successfully hits Ronald Reagan

Pete 2
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Different name, same effect

So rather than being an ICBM, this is an Inter Continental Gliding Missile. I suppose that makes everything all right, then?

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Neutrinos still FASTER THAN LIGHT in second test

Pete 2
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Don't count your neutrinos 'til they're published

The paper has been submitted, but hasn't yet been peer reviewed or published, and you can bet that the scrutiny this experiment gets will be greater than pretty much anything that's gone before.

I'm happy to wait until it appears with the name of a prestigious journal to add credibility. I'll be even happier when someone comes up with a theoretical or (better) practical explanation. Until then, we've got nothing.

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Think your CV is crap? Your interview skills are worse

Pete 2
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It depends on the state of the job market.

Well, yes and no. I'm not suggesting you put the interviewer through the wringer - it's only on TV that "The Apprentice" style interviews and selection process would be tolerated. But it's not unreasonable to ask to meet the people you'll be working with, or to see the office conditions. You could even ask what a typical day's work actually involves (one place I was conducting group interviews, a candidate asked me "what did you do yesterday?" - not an easy Q to respond to _and_ make the place sound attractive at the same time).

Another theme that can provide some enlightenment is to inquire about how the vacancy arose: what's staff turnover like (but maybe be a bit more subtle in the approach), how long your prospective boss has been doing the job - essentially trying to find out if you'll be working for an idiot, since your immediate boss is usually the biggest factor in whether an IT position is good, bad or ugly.

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Pete 2
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"If you could be any animal, what animal would you be?"

It sounds like your interviewer had been on a course but slept through a lot of it. That's one part of a question sometimes used by psychometric testing people. The answer you give is not important. The follow-on is "give me a few words that describe <your animal>".

The insight (for want of a better term) is that the response you give will describe how you see yourself. Other questions probe: how you think other people see you and how you relate to others. The same kind of interviewers may also ask you to write something and then do a pop-psych analysis of your handwriting.

Whether you think there's anything in it, or it's down there with astrology probably doesn't matter (apart from telling yourself that you wouldn't work for a company that employed those sorts of techniques). However it can be a good way to pick up grils if you ever find yourself having to move the cooker. Nowadays there are far more scientific ways to discern a person's personality, such as looking on FB or seeing what forums they post comments on.

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Pete 2
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Well, that's ONE half of the process sorted

Interviews work both ways. if we were to believe the article (which we shouldn't) you would get the unmistakable impression that somehow the interview process was akin to winning the lottery. That somehow the interviewers were GIVING AWAY something of value, and that only the best, most worthy applicant should be allowed through to win the prize.

In fact, as every half-decent candidate knows the interview should be as much about selling the company to the prospective employee (who should spend as much time looking for reasons why the company is / is not one they'd want to work for, as they do trying to sell themselves) and persuading them that they'd want to work there. While some people think the application and interview process is some form of courtship (yup, one or other could end up getting screwed), it's better to think of it as a chance to perform due diligence on your potential new provider of money. If they are unable or unwilling to go to the effort to make you feel they want you, personally, then you're probably just going to end up as a soon-forgotten cog in their faceless machine - and will be treated in employment just as the "asset" or "FTE" or "headcount" that you appear as during the interview - or to your current employer.

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US nuclear aircraft carrier George Bush crippled by toilet outages

Pete 2
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Too much bran in the diet?

423 dunnies for 5,000 people? That about 1 for every 12 crew, or 2 hours per day each. Even if they are reserved for different genders and ranks (mustn't see the officers with their trousers down!) that's still a great deal of porcelain.

One can only assume that the designers needed that amount of redundancy in the system to cope for "emergencies" (aircraft-carrier landings can be scary events) and the reported breakdowns. I wonder if the weapons systems, for all their extra complexity, are any more reliable?

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Stripper nicked for 'nicking knickers' with kids in tow

Pete 2
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The story or the surfing?

It would be interesting to know whether the story resulted in the surfing or if someone was "researching" pastie clubs (and here was me thinking Devon Savouries) and stumbled upon the story.

"Honest Mr. Editor, Sir - there's this reeeellllly IT relevant story ..... right here .... it's about, err, Oh hell, you got me. I was just looking for smut."

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Reg man the most-flamed recruiter in the UK?

Pete 2
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And now ...

comments to an article about the comments to an article

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US anti-hacking law turns computer users into criminals

Pete 2
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Only a lawyer would rant on like this

The whole point of legal precedent is to set the practical limits of what laws actually mean. Expecting a law to describe every possibility and all the limits and bounds to its effect is impractical. With computer related laws, it's often the case that the a lot of the situations that laws could be applied to don't exist when the law is enacted.

It comes down to common sense in the way the judges interpret the law which sets out who it will affect and under what circumstances. But you wouldn't expect a lawyer to admit to that.

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Facebook boss-lady is up the pole on the glass ceiling

Pete 2
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Ambition is a vector quantity

It has both magnitude and direction.

It's almost certainly wrong to claim that one gender or another has more or less ambition (and therefore creates a "gap") than the other. The big point is that different people want different things from life. It's not just gender related, but to assume that everyone wants to rise up within their organisation and be promoted (to just beyond the limits of their abilities, according to the Peter Principle (no relation)) is absurd.

I would suggest that for most people, who are not unbalanced, power-crazed or harbouring some deep-seated pathology the ultimate goal is to lead a happy and contented life. Not to try to earn a few gazillion more than the psycho in the next padded cell - or wood-panelled office. If a lot of people aim to achieve that through a family life, rather than their careers or "recognition" then more power to their elbows. Maybe the lack of women at the higher levels within companies is (in part at least) due to most of them not wishing to be there.

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Pass the wine, dear. Yes, that papier-mache thing

Pete 2
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Latest twist on "Wine in a box"

Nothing new here, except maybe some greenwash to stop the trendies turning their noses up at it.

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Asda tempts technophobes with cheap PCs and broadband

Pete 2
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Pump and dump?

> a customer base that probably doesn't have internet access at home

... so is unable to see all the excellent deals and discounts available online and will therefore think our prices are good value.

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Apple's iPad not so shiny once you get it home

Pete 2
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@James Howat

But to put it in perspective, lots of people have cars - a proportion don't use them every day.

All sales and marketing is hit and miss. You could argue that Apple's is highly (overly?) successful as they are able to sell their products to people who don't want them and don't use them. Maybe this just goes to add further evidence to the possibility that Apple is really a marketing company, not a computer company?

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Why your tech CV sucks

Pete 2
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@Spearchucker Jones - Why no mobile number

> Except that it has no mobile phone number.

> That's intentional.

Just like we all use disposable email addresses to "disappear" emails from people we no longer want cluttering up our lives (please don't tell me you only have 1 email address and you give it out to all and sundry!), you should be using a disposable mobile number.

Everyone has an old phone lying around. Sure it probably can't send email and may not even be 3G. But for the sake of bunging a fiver in the general direction of ASDA and getting a second SIM, there's no reason for not giving people that number. You may not even make any calls from your "burn" phone but for the sake of not giving the recruiter a REASON TO REJECT YOU it's a worthwhile investment.

Taking a sharp left turn onto a different topic, the biggest mistake you can make on your CV is to let it be known you're over 40.

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'Indestructible' Moto Defy telly ad banned

Pete 2
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One simple test

Go to the shop, have the phone demonstrated, drop it on showroom floor from prescribed height. If it still works, do it again. If it *still* works buy it (or rather: another sample of the same model - which you "drop test" before walking out of the store).

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Why GNOME refugees love Xfce

Pete 2
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Here's me . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . here's my apps

All I want from a desktop (or O/S, for that matter) is to minimise the distance / fuss / time / delay / keystrokes / clicks / resource usage that comes between me, sitting at my screen and the stuff I really want to do: i.e. run some applications.

It makes little difference to me whether the underlying display is Gnome (2, 3 take your pick), XP, 3270, OSX, Xfce or Android. All I want to do is run my apps and, most importantly - GET STUFF DONE. Likewise I simply don't care what colour or picture is on my desktop, or for that matter whether the desk itself is made of wood, plastic, laminate, glass or an upturned beer crate. Just so long as it doesn't get between me and what I want to do, I'm happy. If it does put additional steps in my way, then it's become part of the problem: to be removed, rather than a benefit that I want.

So, to all the GUI wizards out there I say: stop rattling on about all these wizzy desktop features: docks, bars, configurable backgrounds, movable buttons and all the other malarky. If what you're doing doesn't help the user to run the programs they got their computers to do, then you're wasting your time. You may well be producing stuff that may well make yourself look oh-so clever in the eyes of your peers, but it is merely an unwelcome hindrance to those of us unlucky enough to have if included in the environment we choose (or have to) use.

In GUI design and implementation less is most definitely more and simplicity rules.

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Ofcom boss warns of low interest in 'superfast' broadband

Pete 2
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Killer apps are _so_ last century

This guy is talking about a commodity / utility (internet access), yet he is trying to fit its use in non-utility terms. Ones more suited to buying small electronic devices: iPods/Pads or the like.

Nobody talks about electricity supply in terms of a "killer app" (maybe we should all install aluminum smelters in our gardens) to drive consumption, or that food requires a "killer app" to make us eat more/less/healthily - though I suppose cooking or fire could be classed in those terms, but that makes it all sound a bit stone-age.

What is more likely is that increased bandwidth is an enabling technology. Once people have the means to stream 100MBit/s into their house, then we'll start to see software or hardware that either can use, or needs, streams of this size - or not. If those appliances turn out to be popular, they'll create demand outside the early-adopter group. However increased bandwidth on its own, like increased car ownership, is not necessarily a good thing. It's the benefits that this increase brings (and possibly the costs and problems it causes) which will define how far it goes.

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Gallery mulls 'damage' after cleaner scrubs modern art

Pete 2
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Can't tell the art from the elbow grease

Only in germany would you get such a conscientious cleaner. Shame we can't get some like that to do a number on our hospitals.

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Americans' right to hang fake balls on trucks left dangling

Pete 2
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Re: what is the thought process?

Overcompensation

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Disk prices double after flood - and could 'double again'

Pete 2
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Spec you later

We've seen earlier examples of natural disasters leading to component shortages. (Anyone remember many years ago when RAM prices shot up?). The good news is that shortages don't last, and when they do resolve, it usually leads to a glut from overproduction, when all the manufacturers respond to the high prices by increasing production.

However, these days shortages are also prime targets for speculators to make a quick wad. Sadly, by doing so they exacerbate the problem by buying up the scarce commodity, even though they have no intention of using it themselves. We also see bona-fide manufacturers placing multiple orders, as they realise that they will be rationed. So instead of simply ordering the 10,000 pieces they will expect to need, they order 20,000 in the knowledge that the suppliers will ration sales and only partly fulfill the orders they get.

Of course in the mean time, it's a brilliant excuse for retailers to jack up the price of techy toys, just in time for christmas.

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