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* Posts by Richard 12

1541 posts • joined 16 Jun 2009

Is world's first space tourist Dennis Tito planning a trip to Mars?

Richard 12
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Re: Private sector needs to show the public sector how it is done

Minor correction - human crewed, not piloted.

Computers have flown all spacecraft with the exception of Apollo 11's LEM*, Apollo 13* and the shuttle during the landing.

Launch and in-space manoeuvring is something humans just can't do - the timings and precision needed are too tight, and we simply can't do the observations either.

Any spaceflight is quite simply pre-calculate and let the computer burn the engines.

Humans can do the last bit of landing, but balancing on a tongue of flame is best left to a computer.

* 'cos it broke.

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PSF warns on angry trademark attacks: Python coders, this is not our way

Richard 12
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Re: Lesson learned?

Erm, the trademark had not been granted, and almost certainly won't be.

That's what the "call to send examples" is about - ensuring that Verber cannot be granted the mark by proving its already in common use in that sphere.

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Microsoft legal beagle calls for patent reform cooperation

Richard 12
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Re: Should be plaintiff pays all bills until he wins.

It would also mean that big companies can infringe small companys' patents without any fear of prosecution because they wouldn't be able to afford the legal action.

Loser pays works because you don't start the action unless you're pretty sure of winning.

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Samsung under fire over copy-paste bricking

Richard 12
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Re: Android/Samsung foibles

Interesting, as my iPhone 4S has this exact problem.

It regularly takes over an hour* to realise it's no longer buried in an underground lair or down the Tube and thus there is a usable signal, if it would only look for it.

I've taken to dropping it into "Airplane" mode and back out again to force it to look and connect.

Drives me potty.

Admittedly, that's only iOS 6.0, 6.1 and 6.1.1, it's intermittent and I haven't had 6.1.2 long enough to really see if it's the same.

* Yes, really! Left in my pocket, wandering above ground for an hour or more, blinking in the sunshine, and then looking at it to see no signal. "Airplane" on/off and suddenly a host of missed-call texts.

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Oklahoma cops rake ashes of 'spontaneous combustion' victim

Richard 12
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Flame

Nope.

That he passed out after drinking and dropped his ciggy.

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So you won a 4G licence. The Freeview interference squad wants a word

Richard 12
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Unhappy

£10,000 is a maximum.

Fitting a Freesat dish and replacing all the Freeview boxes could hit a few grand easily - £500 for the dish & fitting, £500 each Freesat box (equivalent spec to the FreeView they just killed)

The worst case will be places they can't fit a dish - national parks, listed buildings etc - and "have" to build scaffold (even if a picker is cheaper and better) to reach the masthead amp/antenna.

That could easily max them out - especially as the scaffold companies now know the budget in advance(!)

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Android 4.2.2 slides up skirt slightly, reveals a slip of fishnet

Richard 12
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X10 controllers are SCR

A Solid-State Relay is just a hard-fired SCR/triac.

Most CFLs and LEDs hate them and die, pretty much the same as if you tried to dim them.

You need an actual relay - best is a latching/pulse relay so it's a pulse of power to turn on, another pulse to turn off - more efficient!

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Brand-new black hole found in supernova remnant

Richard 12
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Re: Why does there have to be anything left

Thought experiment - take an onion and consider what happens if one of the layers explodes.

Some onion is under the layer, some above. So some material is forced inwards, which the rest outwards.

Then consider gravity which pulls it all back together - the explosion must be big enough to push all the material faster than the star's escape velocity.

Therefore, to move everything away, the star-shattering kaboom has to be extremely asymmetrical.

Not very likely.

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Obama says patent trolls 'extort money', pledges reform

Richard 12
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Abject comprehension fail there, sorry

To start with, you're using an invalid term - it is legally impossible to commit "theft" of any form of intellectual property.

By definition, IP cannot be stolen - only infringed.

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Richard 12
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Or we could try to fix it

Yes, patents are necessary.

However software patents are provably unnecessary and almost certainly damaging.

Fairly simply:

Mathematics is not patentable as it cannot be invented, only discovered.

Algorithms are mathematics.

Software is algorithms.

Software (and the source for it) should only be protected by copyright, because it's a specific expression of ideas.

Expression, not invention.

On top of that, many patents are being granted that are not only extremely obvious, but are massive land grabs by making extremely wide claims - in some cases, not even merely obvious, but the only apparent way to do a particular task.

Otherwise we might as well patent "Reality TV" - it makes just as much sense, and might result in less of it...

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Kiwi cops to buy 6,500 iPhones, 3,900 iPads

Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: Apple Lock-In

until your hardware gets so old it is no longer supported by the latest and greatest

Which doesn't take long at all - the iPhone 3G (July 2008) didn't take iOS 4.3 (March 2011).

That's less than three years - so the "same OS level" argument is clearly tosh as it's not going to be possible.

Conversely, it is possible to have every Android device (including those not yet made) running the same OS level (although not the same images), as you're able to "roll your own" images. Which could both be a good idea (easy to prevent installation of any non-approved apps) and a bad idea as it means doing the work to roll their own.

However, locking yourself into a single supplier "for all time" is a fairly standard idiocy of Government and large organisations.

The real question is "What's the exit strategy?" How do they transition to another supplier of hardware and software in ten years time?

I'm practically certain this hasn't even been considered and they may well be locked into Apple forever - although the other end is more likely.

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Richard 12
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Re: Seems sensible to have quick lookup

More that the resale value of a stolen iPad is higher than a paper pad.

And while the "Find my iPad" app appears to work reasonably well, it's reliant on the Apple maps...

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Any storm in a port

Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: USB ports - why not invert every other one?

Some do.

It makes life even worse, as when you flip the connector over you'll move slightly and now try to put it in the next one - upside down.

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Richard 12
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GU10

First, check it's a GU10 and not an MR16.

The GU10 lamp has "top-hat" prongs, MR16 has straight pins.

Now look at the socket and note the four holes.

Two are round - ignore them, they are screws.

Two are elongated, these are the two to jam your top hat prongs into.

Align roughly with the fatter end of the elongated holes, insert, wiggle slightly and twist clockwise to engage.

Easy!

If they're actually MR16 then the bigger holes are the screws, so you line the pins up with the two tiny holes and push.

In both cases the lamp will probably light up before you've inserted it all the way, burning your hand.

- Top safety tip - turn the damn thing off first. You can tell if its off because the lamp that doesn't work is off when it's off, and off when it's on.

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Get up, shake off the hangover: These 57 Microsoft holes won't fix themselves

Richard 12
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Re: There's vigilance, and there's paranoia

Sorry, I should clarify.

No matter what you do or how much money you throw at security companies, as long as you have users or are connected to the Internet there will still be ways for malware to get in.

You can't sit on your laurels.

Excellent start, however constant vigilance is still required.

Vigilance, not just A N Other security tool.

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Richard 12
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Re: Are you that concerned?

There is an addendum you missed:

we have had 0 issues with being hit with malware/viruses since about 2002... that you know of.

It's plausible that some are zombies but you haven't spotted them yet - if their traffic patterns aren't too far away from normal and the end user hasn't complained, how would you know?

The average end user won't complain until the computer is "running really slow", so could be devoting an entire CPU core to malware without noticing.

I recall doing a Malwarebytes sweep and finding half of Sales with possibly bad things installed.

(And nobody in technical roles, but that's self-selection for you)

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Journo says Elon Musk apologized for Tesla battery fiasco

Richard 12
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Re: While we're on the Tesla topic,...

Electric handbrake seems pretty common over there.

My last US hire car had it, and that was a big-standard petrol.

I'm guessing its due to the prevalence of automatics, and idiots forgetting to put the brake on when parked.

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iOS 6.1 KNACKERED our mobile phone networks, claim Vodafone, Three

Richard 12
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Re: code of connection

But do Apple actually test the updates against all networks?

Or just the original firmware bundles?

Or neither, because Apple are completely in charge of both development and release of iOS?

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Big Dell shareholder says LBO is 'woefully inadequate'

Richard 12
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Why do you want WIntel to fail?

It's the reason we've got cheap computing hardware at all, take away the x86 platform and you're stuck in the mire of widely variant hardware - costing more and much harder to code for.

Heck, mobile and tablet is the first wave of "impossible to really code for" - you can write software for them but not on them, and having done so you must supplicate at the feet of Apple, Google, Amazon etc before you can sell it to anyone else. Even for free.

The death of WIntel is also the death of Linux and BSD - they need each other. Ok, Windows can afford to lose a lot of market share - but not all of it.

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Superbowl blackout was a stuff-up, not Anonymous

Richard 12
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Re: Variable Relays

Plus it's equally common to have a faulty ACB anyway.

A few years ago I blew one three times before the EC figured out it was faulty and not set wrong.

Brought up the building, and after about half an hour one corner went dark. So we reset and tried again...

- They don't half go with a bang when they trip.

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Ebook price-fixing: Macmillan settles with DoJ, Apple fights on

Richard 12
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@peladon - that's not the point.

When the eBook edition costs the same or more than the paperback, something is wrong.

When it's the same or more than the hardback, something is very wrong.

That's the comparison - why is an otherwise-identical something that clearly has a near-zero reproduction and distribution cost sold for the same (or higher!) price as something that clearly has a relatively high reproduction and distribution cost?

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Electric cars stall in USA, Australia

Richard 12
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You what?

Never mind that induction charging is hopelessly inefficient, how much do you think it would cost to install that rail?

For an order-of-magnitude estimate, look up how much it costs per mile to electrify a section of the railway network. It's a lot more than that so add another zero, because you're digging up a road rather than stringing wires between poles.

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Richard 12
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Re: EVs are so impractical

Wrong metric - it's not % of journeys, it's % of calendar days.

For both hire and purchase you amortise the sunk costs over time, not journeys.

The only place you pay a hire car by distance is a taxi - except the meter still ticks if you're stationary, so not even then.

Personally, I need the long range for around 10 days a year, except I still need a vehicle at the other end which cranks it up to ~40 days. That's a lot of hire car charges!

Then there's the cost of the EV itself, which even with subsidy is higher than a new mid-sized people carrier - and unlike the people carrier the EV will be worth diddly-squat when I get rid of it, just like my laptop is worth nothing after a few years.

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Richard 12
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Yes, most of my driving is well inside the range

But a significant part of my annual mileage isn't.

So, I'd have to either buy and maintain two cars - one EV for commute, one diesel* for longer range - or hire a diesel* car every time I need the longer range.

At the moment, the EV simply costs far too much and depreciates too fast for either of those to be economically viable.

- I'm also very lucky in that I do have somewhere to charge an EV, most city dwellers don't so couldn't even consider it.

So my question is - where is the car that is both these things?

Plug-in EV for my daily commute, diesel genny for my occasional long journey?

How ****ing hard can it be if even Top Gear can cobble that together?

* For low-carbon long-range, diesel is the only choice.

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Richard 12
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Matt, you want Rape

The veg oil you see in the supermarket is Rapeseed oil, not corn oil.

Rape grows plentifully and is not a staple food of anybody (except possibly the Scottish), and it's dirt-cheap too boot.

Many parts of the UK countryside are wrapped in the wonderful yellow of rape already, and given that we're supposed to be cutting down on frying with it, driving on it instead sounds like a good idea to me.

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Ofcom: Fancy running a temporary HD Freeview TV channel?

Richard 12
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Hang on

Does this mean they intend to screw over PMSEs yet again?

We only just finished repurchasing all our kit as it became illegal to use after the Olympics (raising the cost of same by a fair bit), and this sounds like they're going to take those away yet again in another six years!

I'd say it was time to send in the clowns, but it looks like they're already here...

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Life after Cisco: I've got 99 problems but a switch ain't one

Richard 12
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Multicast and Spanning Tree at the same time?

We use multicast almost exclusively for realtime control, and something we have trouble with is the time it takes for the tree to reroute when a link is broken. We've had reports of it taking 10sec or more to get going again, which is frankly terrible and tends to trip failover responses.

- We don't need anything like the bandwidth of Gigabit most of the time (only when sharing with streaming audio/IPTV), so we have no need whatsoever for 10G - however latency and jitter are seriously important.

Secondly, how long do these take to boot - both from cold and warm restarts?

Moost of our customers are not networking types (usually no IT dept at all), so being able to deploy configs using a USB stick sounds very interesting - is this available on the smaller Dells?

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Socket to 'em: It's the HomeGrid vs HomePlug powerline prizefight

Richard 12
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Now for the fun bit!

The USA and other places with similar electrical codes are the only place you could use Neutral/CPC like this.

However, many local US jurisdictions now require 5mA GFCI (RCD) circuit breakers in domestic properties - which will definitely trip if a device did this!

(We use 30mA here)

In other words, the only place you could use this - you can't!

The diagram shown is indeed uniquely American. Most would call it bi-phase - the two Lives are 180 deg apart, each 120VAC to Neutral and thus 240VAC from each other. It's done with a centre-tapped transformer, usually very close to the house.

It's also common to have few domestic appliances using both phases - eg tumble driers, ovens.

There are more crazy things over there - "wild-leg" 3-phase is probably the most insane...

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Ten 3D printers for this year's modellers

Richard 12
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Except that's not a 3D printer in this sense.

It's a 2D printer that prints and glues a stack of paper together.

You then manually trim away the unglued paper using a sharp blade - a rather important step.

So still not safe in the "let the kids do it" sense - merely exchanging "might burn yourself if touch it when operating" for "might cut yourself if you slip".

Aside from that, the article was about 3D printers that make plastic articles, not paper ones.

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Google, Mozilla, show off in-browser video chat

Richard 12
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Re: It's good that Mozilla uses WebRTC...

There's also Superspeed and Ultra.

Now available with even less crashiness!

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BANG and the server's gone: Man gets 8 months for destroying work computers

Richard 12
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Re: What's wrong with this picture?

They'll actually get the £1000.

If the compensation was set too high he'd simply go bankrupt and his bank and the lawyers on both sides would take most (all?) the money.

In that case the company might well get nothing at all.

The high compensation payouts you hear about are paid by insurance companies or councils, generally on a "shut up and go away" basis rather than letting it go to court. Presumably the lawyers fees must be quite astronomical for this to be cheaper.

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Rent-seekers target school laptops in Oz election year

Richard 12
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You've made an unwarranted assumption

That the average voter both understands that they're paying for this in higher taxes and that there are more or equivalent number who pay more than they receive in these handouts.

Plus another more hidden assumption that taxes would be lower without this spending - which isn't necessarily true, as Governments also get money from borrowing and inflation.

Inflation hits the ones not getting handouts, borrowing hits your old age and your kids.

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Twitter clients stay signed in with pre-breach passwords

Richard 12
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There is a very clear risk

Once an app instance has been authenticated once, it's authorised forever.

So if a miscreant has your username and password, they can log in as you using one of these apps - and keep on tweeting as you even after you've changed your password.

That's rather foolish, don't you think?

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Space Shuttle Columbia disaster remembered 10 years on

Richard 12
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Boffin

Re: Why not?

A "rescue bubble" is quite easy:

Make a foil balloon (like the helium ones for kids) about the size and shape of a sleeping bag, wrapped in a few layers of suitable fabric to protect it from scrapes and micrometeorites and padded on the inside to protect it from the occupant.

Then inflate it with cabin air, and put a crewmember inside with a nose-clip style oxygen mask as used by the crew of commercial airliners (or some firefighters).

That will last them an hour or so*, during which they can be manhandled from A to B. Probably one-use-only, (crawl-in-and-glue-shut, then cut open,) so you'd need one for each crewmember plus spares.

Making a spacesuit that allows a man to do useful work is very difficult.

Merely surviving is simple - NASA did do some work on these, don't know what happened though.

* The biggest risk here is actually claustrophobia, as spending too long inside that kind of thing may cause panic.

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Richard 12
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FAIL

Re: Bah!

Humbug!

Spacecraft-to-spacecraft transfer does not require a 'tunnel', just a static line and enough spacesuits for the people you're transferring. Everybody has a spacesuit because they wear them during launch - and for a short time a simple bubble would suffice!

String a wire between the two airlocks using the existing safety line clips, and 'zip' along. Perhaps five minutes each, plus airlock cycle and suiting-up time. Last guy out is a bit more fiddly as you can't put NASA spacesuits on without help, but not insurmountable.

This does need an MMU to get the static line set up (and maybe dismantled), so send that in the rescue craft.

As they hadn't planned a spacewalk in the mission, presumably there weren't any MMUs on Columbia and thus the only way to look is sat on the end of the arm. Don't think that reaches underneath so would have to send a person rather than simple camera.

While that isn't the kind of thing you just "pop out" to do, they could have done it had NASA accepted the need to take a look.

I suspect the real reason they didn't look was indeed "What if we find something?"

A very human fright response, and the same reason lots of people don't go get tested for cancers when they first suspect, instead waiting until it's too late to do anything.

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Samsung mocks Apple lawsuit in SuperBowl teaser ad

Richard 12
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So if the next iPhone is utter rubbish

You'll still buy it anyway?

If Apple roll a turd in glitter and put it in an "iPad N" box, you'd buy that as well?

I doubt it, yet that's your argument here.

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Microsoft tries to sell home Office users on subscription pricing

Richard 12
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Re: Cloud storage? Not for me, or my company

Optional or Default?

Big difference.

How many UK or EU people here believe their management, right up to CEO and board know what SkyDrive is and therefore that using it may breach the DPA and EU Directives?

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Richard 12
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Re: It was very interesting reading about Word but ...

If you think Office 2003 to Open/Libre Office will be tough, then you are going to have loads of trouble with Office 2007 or later.

When we did that switch the whole company stopped "office" work for several weeks*, and many users still cannot cope now we're a few years down the line.

The Ribbon is a simply massive culture shock.

* To be honest it was somewhat refreshing to get quick info in emails rather than as attachments.

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Richard 12
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Re: Trial Version

So it's that old chestnut, eh?

Oh, how the might have fallen, that they need a scam to get subscribers to their flagship product.

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Richard 12
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@croc - that's tosh

Watch TV adverts for a while.

Do you think every single company advertising on TV has a copy of Avid?

(Avid is the industry-standard video edit suite.)

I doubt any of them do - and even the TV Ad production companies don't, they usually hire them from studios (eg BBC Resources) as needed.

Go to a corporate shindig. Do they own the video projectors, screens, set, lighting and control hardware/software used?

Nope. They pay an events production company to provide the complete event, and they usually subcontract parts out - eg I can earn a fair wodge of cash by bringing myself, and hiring a fourth company's hardware and software.

So Company A is buying the output from Company B, who is buying my services, and I'm buying part of my services from Company C.

B is also buying services from a whole stack of other companies - one reason A didn't hire me directly.

This is normal in all creative industry.

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Richard 12
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Re: I'm still using Office 2000

Google Docs no longer exports the older MS Office formats. It still opens them.

However, that is of course the danger of both Office 365, Google Docs and any other "cloud" solution.

If they want to take a feature away, they can and there's nothing you can do about - not even sue!

Your only possible action is to stop renewing your subscription, and then what?

If you're running your Office application locally, that can't happen.

(That's not completely true of MS Office though, as Windows Update will automatically update it. I'm sure they won't cripple it intentionally.)

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Wii-U boat torpedoes Nintendo's '¥20bn profit' into ¥20bn loss

Richard 12
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The Wii was cheap

That's the number one reason it did well.

Cheaper than the competition, cheap enough to take a punt on.

Also, it launched at the right time in the economic cycle, but there isn't anything Nintendo can do about that for the Wii U.

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Yay for iOS 6.1, grey Wi-Fi iPhone bug is fix- AWW, SNAP

Richard 12
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They'll be roughly the same

You can tell because both companies are making money on them.

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Richard 12
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Unhappy

Re: "Out of warranty"?

Although Apple have been known to deliberately ignore this, and not all consumers are either certain enough of their rights, or well-connected enough to make enough noise for Apple to acknowledge it.

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Huddled immigrant masses face 'British values' quiz

Richard 12
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Mushroom

@ledswinger

Nah, Labour self-immolated and keep on relighting the match, the Lib Dems have had a rude awakening that "sometimes being in Government means making decisions" and the Conservatives are continuing their ongoing tradition of self-harm.

Nobody in their right mind could vote Labour next time - last time they were in power they killed the economy and created a benefits system that rewards refusing to work and having as many children as physically possible, and have continued to show that they no longer have any "core values" whatsoever, their opposition has been one bandwagon after another, interspersed with "we oppose that but wouldn't change it"

The Conservatives do at least have some core values left, so even if you disagree with them you can at least understand their goals. (Although it's rare that any Government policy of any flavour could actually achieve them!)

I rather think this is what happens when you get a "Political Class" - these days you'd be hard pressed to name more than ten of MPs who've had real jobs for any length of time. I think there are none at all in Labour, and very few in the other parties.

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Richard 12
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Happy

Re: British values?

You missed out both "Queueing" and "Getting Pissed".

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Richard 12
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It's a "can you read English" test, always was

Anybody who could read and memorise the handbook would pass, and the majority of people who did not read the handbook would fail.

You could simply take a course on English language instead of doing the "Life in the UK Test" - just to hammer in that it wasn't really about knowing anything about the UK.

The test has needed updating since original publication anyway - the old book had an error on the copyright page, and also contains several incorrect statements - eg legal age for smoking is not 16 as it said in the old Handbook.

Presumably this update is to force all future Governments to update it on coming to power - after all, the second largest party may well be UKIP next time, Labour having self-immolated.

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Why did your outsourced IT fall over? Cos you weren't on Twitter

Richard 12
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The Truth will out, it appears.

Given that the gears they drew would be hideously inefficient, jam up often and break or wear out extremely quickly.

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China may axe 13-year console ban, games OK for kids after all

Richard 12
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So it's like the gay marriage thing here?

As in, everyone who knows anyone in or getting a "civil partnership" is calling it being/getting married and it's only the legal document itself that says different.

(Which is why I'm confused by the fuss some backbenchers are making. Doesn't it make sense for the law to match reality?)

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Apple releases iOS 6.1, adds LTE carriers, tweaks security

Richard 12
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Re: I HATE THESE DAMN SECURITY QUESTIONS!

Maybe El Reg could run an article or two about these stupid "worst practices".

Then we'd have somewhere to point to when managers insist "but it's best practice".

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