2329 posts • joined Thursday 18th June 2009 09:56 GMT
I think you'll find that the moon is not low-hanging fruit. It's low-hanging cheese...
Can somebody remind me: why do Yahoo! exist again?
The world has not yet reached peak punctuation. While punchy punctuation production continues to thrive, there will always be a need for an exclamation mark buyer of last resort. Yahoo! clearly fill that niche.
These changes are an important step to building a more modern and personalised Yahoo!
It could be that they will soon exist to ruthlessly track and exploit their users' data... As that appears to be the standard Web 2.0 meaning of the word personalised... Or are we up to Web 3.0 yet?
Sheepish admission time:
I saw various headlines online about revelations that General Alexander the head of NASA had built himself a 'Star Trek bridge' and this proved he was some sort of maniacal digital cowboy, trying to take over the world. I found this somewhat confusing, especially as I didn't think he was in charge of NASA. Until I finally took a close look at one, and realised that it read NSA.
I'm a bear of very little brain...
Re: One Chip to Rule Them All
Ze beatings will continue until morale improves!
Also, you say that you cannot change the laws of physics. However, after a few hours with me and this cattle-prod, you will be singing a very different tune. Soon, all will be resolved, and I'll have you providing unicorn steaks for the canteen as well.
Oddly enough, I couldn't get anyone to agree to do that when I was putting in the business travel miles, ten years ago. We had offices in 2 major European cities. It was a ten hour drive or a €700 flight. Until Ryanair gave Lufthansa the shafting they so richly deserved for their gouging... But, there was a sleeper service on the train. Leave at about 11pm, get in at 7am, only €150 for a double room to yourself, and of course, no need for hotels. I couldn't persuade anyone to do it. I never had a meeting there, so never got to do the trip.
I bet the miserable buggers would have even refused to go by airship too!
Re: Fingerprint scanner?
That's a good point. As I understand it the Apple sensor isn't scanning the surface of the finger, although I don't recall reading what process they're actually using. So theirs is supposedly not subject to damage and paper cuts interfering with the print. Which leads to the question of how their biometric compares with the actual fingerprint found on the incriminating evidence / gun / cattle-prod / whipped cream can in question.
I had a laptop with a fingerprint scanner a few years back. I played with it for a bit, but I don't think I ever got more than 50% accuracy out of it, so gave up. I don't know if that means I've got unreadable fingerprints and can go on a killing spree with impunity, or if it just means the technology was crap.
Hmmm, airships as buses. Now I have this vision of getting up early, and commuting to work on a combined airship/bus/cafe. Hey man, I'm living in the future! Where's my silver jumpsuit? Now pass me the bacon sarnie and tea.
Even better would be if the bus station was some sort of giant tower with a lift to get up to the top and a slide to get down.
Clearly this isn't going to happen for us normal peasants. But maybe Google will do it? They already have free buses with Wi-Fi to their offices, cafes and a tendency to go mad with slides and cushions when decorating. Plus a huge surface on which to run adverts in the sky, what's not to like?
Re: Nokia's real fall
@ I ain't Spartacus
We can argue all day about the small data, but you cannot ignore the freefall in Nokia smartphone market share immediately after the burning platforms memo.
Dear Mr Anonymouse,
You're right, Elop drove Symbian sales off a cliff with the burning platforms thing. Presumably deliberately. Although also presumably not expecting it to be as rapid as it actually tuned out. However, Symbian sales and profits were already on the way down, and as we've seen from Blackberry's market share, and the sudden rise of both iPhone and Android - this is a rapidly changing market. So I suspect that Symbian was already well advanced into rolling over that cliff, and not much to be done about it.
Now as to whether pushing the accelerator was a mistake, I can't say. On the one hand, once the sales guys were pushing the new Lumias with the telcos it was all going to come out anyway. And when they started laying off all the R&D people for other platforms, that would have been a smidgeon of a clue too. It's all pretty complicated, and comes down to the fact that it ain't as simple as some people like to make out. Nokia had to cut costs because its current smartphone offering was dated, hard to write apps for and had an uncertain development path. Lots of infighting within Nokia had left them with Maemo/Meego and 2 or 3 versions of Symbian. As I understand it none of those could come to market any faster than a move to Android or Windows. Under those circumstances he chose to take a big fat marketing kick-back from Microsoft and bet on that, rather than betting that Nokia could beat Samsung as the only manufacturer currently able to make profits out of Android. Or going with Nokia's internal process that had failed them for the last 5 years.
In those circumstances going the MS route was probably the least risky. Particularly as MS were desperate for success in phones. Maybe not desperate enough to commit the resources and effort to make it all work properly first time, but desperate enough not to be willing to accept failure - and hence buy Nokia's phone division if it all went pear shaped. Much better than betting on one of the other options, failing and then having to pay the costs of closing that division of the company. If they'd gone Android, they'd probably have had to sell twice as many 'droids as they've sold Lumias - as you have to pay Google for their apps (Android isn't really free), and they'd not have had the MS cash. Plus Win Pho 7 and 8 use cheaper processors and less memory than equivalent (ish) 'droids, so you can either sell cheaper, or make bigger margins.
Sticking with Symbian would have been a gamble that they could come up with something new and awesome before the decline in Symbian sales meant making a loss on every handset - and then hoping that new thing could take off fast enough to get the economies of scale to take you back into profit. With no ecosystem of apps, and no support from a third party company.
I've just installed FlashBlock
Something on this site brought Firefox to a crawl again this morning. I'm not sure what, as I opened a couple of tabs and then it wasn't working enough to find out which tab was the problem. I forced the Flash process to shut down and regained control of my browser - read and closed the tabs, then installed FlashBlock. I've no idea if this was the O2 ads again, but I was under the impression they were now working.
It's a shame, as most of your ads seem to be Flash based, so I'm effectively blocking your ads, which is something I didn't want to do. I don't know if that matters, as I don't know whether the advertisers know that I'm not seeing them, but for the last week or so Firefox has been unusable at least 5 times, and I've had to force close it, and that doesn't count the times I've looked at this site with Chrome (not my first choice browser). Anyway it's only your site that keeps crashing things, and today I don't think it was the 02 ad (though it isn't possible to be certain). Anyway given you're an ad-funded site, I think this is something you need to take a serious look at.
It's not a great advert for Adobe or Firefox either, admittedly...
That watchphone is so classy. I must have one now! I will be the envy of all my friends, if only I can get hold of one.
I'm sure the gold colour on the bracelet won't come off on my arm, and that it'll work perfectly, giving me trouble-free service for years.
Re: Good design?
I agree with you about Nokia's original UI getting more and more stuff added on to it, until their candybar phones of recent years had hideously messy menus. Although back in the green screen days, I'd argue they had the simplest menus of the phones I used (Sendo, Motorola, Siemens and Nokia).
But to argue that Motorola's appalling mess of a menu system was ever better than Nokia's is laughable. My first mobile was a Moto MicroTac - excellent for the time, but confusing. My favourite ever phone, the one I still wish I had was the Razr V3. Ergonomically brilliant. Software by Torquemada...
Re: @AC12:16 Nokia's real fall
Besides, what is the alternative to Elop being the worst CEO ever, that he is the best Microsoft mole ever? Because it is either one of the other, there is no other way to explain the "burning platforms" memo and all the following decisions.
What a load of bollocks. Of course there are. There are several possible explanations. Elop was right and it was the best option available, out of several crap ones. Elop was wrong, but picked a reasonable one of several available options when the required information simply wasn't available.
Gerald Ratner half destroyed his company with one crap joke at a city dinner. So Elop can't be a worse CEO than him surely...
Anyway no. Your binary view of the world is foolish. Elop may not be any good, in which case the board at Nokia are also equally crap, as they both appointed and supported him. As they were also in charge in the years before his appointment, they're also partly responsible for the clusterfuck that was Nokia's future product pipeline. Turning some of the finest R&D in the industry into a wasteland of failed products and never-launched ones.
Finally, those selective figures you link to didn't mention profitability. I forgot to mention it in my post above. But from my memory of checking the figures a while back Symbian profit per handset was dropping, including during the period when sales went up just as Elop was joining. So they were selling more, but being pushed down the food-chain as Samsung and Apple started to hoover-up all the profits in the entire market. That, along with the cheap £100 Androids, was something that Nokia urgently had to address, and didn't seem to have an answer for. At the low-end they were still nearly 2 years away from Asha! And at the high end they had what that was ready for market?
I'm no cheerleader for Elop, but I get very tired of the childish crap that I keep reading about this subject. Hence the odd long and grumpy post.
Re: 007 watch!
I hate you both! And that Dabbs as well!
I had to persuade my Mum to go from buying supermarket own brand crisps for school lunch to walkers, or Smiths or whoever it was. Then slowly eat our way through them until there were enough vouchers for both me and my brother. Then when we sent them off with our cash, we got a letter back saying they were out of stock! No James Bond watch for me. If it hadn't been for you 3, there would have been enough left, and I too could have been the proud owner of an Octopussy watch. Sniff, sob, sniff, sob, sniff... [weeps pathetically]
Think: Is Octopussy Watch a show with Bill Oddie and Kate Humble on the Playboy channel?
I've just reported you to the police and your employer. Using language like that suggests you're a dangerous fucking anarchist!
Re: Nokia's real fall
Those figures are meaningless. They only compare a good 2 quarter period of improvement after the Symbian relative decline had already begun, with the time after a CEO had publicly declared a massive strategic change. They also fail to analyse what would have happened in the market had Elop not made that change, or what his other options were. To be fair that can only be speculation. But they also fail to take into account the competition, which is known. Such as the growth of Chinese dumb phone sales in developing markets, and the new low-cost Android phones. Plus Samsung, who have done rather well at this competition malarkey, and have gone into quite a few industries in the last 20 years and trashed large numbers of their rivals.
It's possible that Elop is to blame for the dumb phone loss of competitiveness. Nokia had held off competition from companies with cheaper labour costs for ages with excellent sales and logistics, plus huge economies of scale, I've no way of knowing, but those sort of sea-changes in relative competitiveness often happen over longer periods.
Finally, this guy writes as if everything at Nokia was rosy, then along came that nasty Mr Elop and spoiled it for everyone. Well if that's true, how come the board appointed someone as crap as Elop? Then compounded the error by sitting back and letting him implement his burning platforms strategy? Then left him in place as it continued? Why, it's almost as if they agreed with his strategy themselves!
Also how come they had about 4 competing and incompatible operating systems? All unfinished after millions in R&D cash had been lavished on them? Nothing finished, nothing even seemingly determined as the one to go with. And this 3 years after iPhone had shown the massive flaws in Symbian! Sure Symbian did more, with huge efficiency, but Apple were taking market share off it anyway, because iPhones were actually nice to use... Even it one disagrees, and thinks Symbian was better, the market and the profits say otherwise. None of that was Elop's fault, it all happened under the watchful eyes of the board that appointed him.
Even if I believed Ballmer and Elop were competent enough to execute a Manchurian Candidate conspiracy, it was still the Nokia board that oversaw the years of internal chaos. They still appointed Elop. One assumes they asked him what he planned to do... They approved his strategy change. They continued to support him as Symbian collapsed. They agreed this sale to Microsoft. So even if you believe Nokia were pushed - they'd already jumped by that point.
weird. I've never encountered it being downloaded with anything else. Fucking Adobe trys to infect my machine with Macfee every few weeks, but I've never seen anything try to give me chrome.
Dear Mr Anonymouse,
I've seen Chrome try to download itself with Java. It did with all new installs and updates - but that was about the time I started removing Java from PCs rather than installing it. Also I'm pretty sure it was an option on there last time I downloaded OpenOffice, I don't recall if the same was true of Libre Office though. Also Picassa and various other Google bits'n'bobs offer it by default.
I've seen quite a few PCs with both Safari and Chrome on even though the user had neither heard of, nor given permission to have them installed. Apple were obviously using iTunes as their trojan horse (which they've thankfully stopped), and Google a few more vectors. A few years ago, everyone gave you the Yahoo toolbar, if you weren't looking too closely, now it's Chrome.
Are you sure all those exclamation marks are at exactly 9°? If not, you're going to be in real trouble!
I used to work for a US multi-national. I needed to put our logo on a template document, and along with the logos received the 21 page document explaining how to use it. Along with all the rules about colours, borders and backgrounds the logo must always be at exactly 19° - it never said why...
Re: The new logo looks much more staid and corporate
Jeez! You guys are so un-hip, it's a wonder your bum's don't fall off!
Re: Holy Remind Me Of GeoCities Batman!
That's a busy page o' stuff. Not the fastest to load either, for some reason... I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We keep an old legacy BT email address, from before the company had a domain, and every so often I have to log into Yahoo Mail in order to unbreak it. Boy is that site a hideous ever-changing mess, where they seem to have pages and pages of news stories, half-dressed models and adverts, but hide the inbox button in ever smaller more out-of-the-way places. Actually a quick check shows they seem to have cleaned it up somewhat. So I assume that 6 months ago the Yahoo! main page must have been much worse too. Nice.
Now you've just exposed your lack of whimsy to the whole internet...
no mean feat when one considers Internet Explorer is installed on just about every PC sold and Chrome is nearly always a discretionary download.
No mean feat when one considers that the two leading versions of Windows have different browsers, so split the numbers and fall below Chrome in the charts - and Chrome is nearly always downloaded without your permission when you get something else online...
Or is that an overly harsh interpretation?
Certainly when I've helped friends with their PCs I've been amazed how many have Chrome installed. Often these are people who I couldn't persuade to dump IE for Firefox 5 years ago - it's hard enough just getting some people to understand that you're running software to run the internet, not just having it turn up on screen due to magic computer fairies. But now they have Chrome, so have they had a moment of enlightenment and started thinking about the software they use? Nope. They're just not paranoid enough about unticking boxes when downloading stuff - and basically got infected with, it like malware. Then you find the McAfee security scan software on there too, that got on the same way.
Not that I'm saying Chrome is malware. It's a perfectly fine browser. I dabble with it and IE, but I got used to Firefox, too lazy to move, and prefer the 'old fashioned' look. I like all the separate menus across the top. It's funny how loads of people complain about the Office ribbon, but no-one seems to mind losing all the nice buttons at the top of their browser and having to access all controls through one big menu.
Nokia are unlikely to re-enter the phone market, having only just got out of it - and hived off all their R&D, sales and logistics people to Accenture and MS. Plus the ones they laid off. I guess they've retained that option, but I doubt they've got very much expertise left in house, in order to do so. Unless they fancy building the business up from scratch. Obviously they're now profitable without the loss-making phone division, with $4 billion in the bank, and another $5bn coming from MS, plus a generous cheap line of credit. So they've got a nice cash-pile to play with. But only Samsung and Apple are really making money from the phone market now, and that's mostly from the expensive smartphone end - the margins on the volume end are dropping. Not a market I'd suggest that's worth re-joining.
Especially as they've got nice profits coming from their software side, and software doesn't need the huge setup costs in production and distribution required for a profitable move into volume manufacturing.
I suspect this is the actual reason for the merger. Not that MS can't get Nokia to cooperate with it, but that MS can't get MS to cooperate with Nokia. So by eating it, and bringing the Nokia CEO back in-house, they can try to get someone big enough to win in the MS upper-middle-management bunfight that seems to screw up half of any good work the company does.
Of course Elop failed to manage this at Nokia, which is why he junked all their myriad competing OSes and ideas, and went with an outside one (Win Pho). So I'm not sure this augurs well for the future of Win Phone.
After all Windows had a perfectly good phone OS with around 50% of smartphone market share. OK that was Windows Mobile 5, and it was getting very old and crappy by the end. But it competed perfectly adequately with Symbian back in 2005, which was also pretty ropey (in different ways). However, MS stopped caring and updating and got overtaken, then steamrollered, by the rest of the market. As did Symbian.
I don't understand why big corporations can't walk and chew gum at the same time. Surely the whole point of having different divisions is that while all the CEO's time is being spent on trying to rescue Longhorn/Vista, launch XBox, sort out the Software Assurance mess and the like, the divisional head of phones can happily beaver away improving Win Mobile. I'm sure you've got to convince the board to be allowed to re-write from scratch, but they didnt seem to do any development on it at all for years. Then lots of flailing. And they still appear to be in the flailing stage, just slower and in different ways. And I say that as someone who likes Win Pho 7 - and owned a Nokia Lumia 710.
Re: Campaign ends on September 19: In the meantime...
Thanks for the update. It's always nice to know what's going on, even if you can't fix it.
It's an interesting question as to whether it's reasonable for you to break your side of the contract, given that the problems with the ad don't directly affect The Register. Apart from damaging your reputation of course.
I would say that they've trashed O2's reputation as well, but I was once a customer of theirs, so that isn't really possible...
I got an email from Drewc saying my complaint on here had been forwarded to the backroom boys. But no further queries from them about what the problem was. So some attention is being paid at least.
I'm just wandering in from the old PC at home this morning, also Vista 32bit and FF 22.0 - and it seems to be working. So either the ads have been fixed, or there's something weird wrong with my office PC.
Or I suppose it's possible there's something weird wrong my home desktop meaning it doesn't display the bug even though it should...
Dear El Reg,
Surely you can get some spaceplane sponsorship cash out of the Ministry, with a CEO called Lohan Presencer?
Re: Rename it!
Ministry of Sausages?
I was too busy to install Flashblock, so hit the Chrome button, which allows me to visit the site again, without the browser grinding to a halt. But it seems that this O2 ad is running more now than it was last week, and it still hasn't been fixed. Which is going from the understandable cock-up of hosting other peoples' adverts into a level of being quite annoying.
Also the O2 advert is now appearing in the square section inside articles, as well as the banner. I don't think I've seen that version on its own (without banner) so have no way of checking if they're both buggering things up.
I've deliberately chosen not to go totally shields up - because I want sites like El Reg to get their fair share of advertising cash. But if I do, I very much doubt I can be bothered to craft different acceptance policies for each site - so please don't push me towards doing it.
I've noticed sites getting slower and more crashy of late, and I'm not sure if it's just web admins getting more lax/profligate on how many objects / how much data gets shoved on the front page - or if its just recent bugs in flash and browsers, or a trend in adverts. Bring back the days of <blink>, 32x32 bitmaps, and pages loading slowly over dial-up...
I don't think the ASA is completely toothless. Although I believe it's a voluntary code, which the industry joined in order to avoid regulation.
Anyway, Iooked this up the other day for some reason, and they normally start by telling people off a bit. If they can be bothered to wake up from their afternoon naps. Maybe a slappy-wristy-lettery-wettery-thingy.
But repeat offenders do eventually get put onto the naughty step. Which is that they have to have their adverts pre-vetted by the ASA. This happened to FCUK (the ones too stupid to spell fuck) a while back.
There is a final sanction, which I believe they have used - but probably not often. Where they tell the advertising networks that you are persona non grata, and then they won't carry your adverts any more. The ad sellers and networks are supposed to keep up with the ASA's list of banned adverts and people on the naughty step - and refuse to accept them.
Re: I really liked my last Samsung
I agree, their UI was pretty rubbish. Although my one allowed you to select the most common functions and link to the 4-way navigation thingy, so I didn't often have to brave the menu. But then Nokia's original elegant simplicity was pretty crap by then. I had a work Nokia (in about 2008?), and by that point their menus were just as filled up and confusing as my old Motorola Razr, which also had crap software but a lovely form-factor.
I've got a good memory and some IT skills, so unintuitive software is bearable but annoying. Except trying to set my Mum's Mini up with Bluetooth, which is almost impossible (particularly as the instruction manual appeared to be wrong and I had to guess).
Re: Hershey giveaways
That can't be right though. As the Romans brought edible dormice and garum (which is a 'sauce' made from leaving fish guts to ferment in the sun) - and yet their empire lasted for hundreds of years, so everyone must have loved them.
Even worse, they apparently had a popular desert of pears poached in wine with custard. Yummy, but sadly it was fish sauce custard. For which the inventor should be burning in a very special hell.
Cheers for the correction. I know the US didn't recognise champagne back in the day, and didn't think that had changed. I guess the WTO have been beavering away on all this sort of stuff in the meantime.
I still notice Americans saying champagne when they mean sparkling wine, whereas people in Blighty are less likely to do the same, so the Frenchies may already have lost that cultural battle.
It'll probably turn out that Apple don't even have a plan to bring out a more blingy-goldy iPhone. And it's just more rumourgasm...
Re: WP in the UK
I really liked my last Samsung, a £40 slider about 4 phones back now. My last non-smartphone. I abandoned Nokia when they refused to make slidey/clamshells. Sadly Motorola stopped making nice RAZRs too. Although I did go back to Nokia for a Lumia 710 which was excellent at £130. All other smarties have been work ones, except my Sony Ericsson P800 back in 2003.
There's certainly an opportunity at the low-end though. Neither the phone shop salespeople, or the customers, seem to give a crap about what they sell/buy - so people end up with all sorts of inappropriate or just downright rubbish kit.
I had a go at my friend about this the other day. Admitting you know nothing about phones/computers is fine. Laudable in fact. Admitting that you can't be arsed to learn, but still complain when they don't do what you want isn't quite so clever though...
As I recall a good chunk of the growth has been in sales of iPhones 4 & 4S. Which is likely to be less release-time-sensitive than sales of the latest model. Although I don't think Apple break down the figures, so it's all analyst guesswork.
My suspicion is that quite a few customers who buy a cheapo Android as their first smartphone will have been a tad disappointed. My experience with sub-£200 'Droids has been pretty rubbish. Even a lot of the midrange ones haven't been that great, it's usually better to buy previous year's top-end ones on their way down the price list. Which might suggest people going cheaper iPhone as their second smartphone. Or it's the teens abandoning Blackberry?
No, it's just poncy interior designer talk for gold-ish.
Like all those other made-up colours you come across if you talk to designers (or women), such as ecru and mushroom and teal. If we know anything about Apple, it's that they're fully stocked with poncy designy types.
I'm not sure about international agreements. The protected status works inside the EU, but as I understand it the US refused to recognise the protected status of the term, and so any old Californian fizzy white will say Champagne on the label. No Cava for Cook, even if the Frenchies all refused to sell him any of their stuff.
I don't know about the status of champagne in the rest of the world though. But I'd imagine champagne was a 'generic' term long before most countries had trademark systems up and running.
Re: Lumia already run on "low-end" hardware - and how many apps one needs?
I barely use any apps on my phone, so before work gave me an iPhone 5, I was a very happy Win Pho 7 user. But even I was annoyed by some obvious missing stuff. For example, I tried every single free torch app that didn't have horrifically broad user-permission (about half wanted access to address book for example) - and none of them were much good - a good number were horrifically crap. I suppose £1.00 is a small price to pay to get a better one, assuming they were any better of course, but for something as simple as a torch app I really resent paying.
Another app I wanted, as Android have it, was something to adjust the screen brightness without having to trawl to the second page of the settings menu. This is because when you're out in bright sun, and the screen is too dim to read, you can't see the menu to find the control. But you can peck at the button you've placed on screen. Simple stuff like this, little widgets, should either be baked into the OS or easily available. Win Pho lets you pin some commands to the home screen, but for some weird reason not others.
Anyway I digress. My point is that many people want apps, and will pick their platform for them. Even total non-techies like my Mum have an iPad with 50-odd apps on - and if she wanted a smartphone it would be the same.
Apparently many people even use a Facebook app for Windows Phone. Despite that being built into the excellent People hub - and Facebook being horrible. But you need things like BBC iPlayer/Sky/catch-up telly, I guess the major newspaper apps, Twitter, Dropbox, Skype etc.
MS could take something like $50m out of the marketing budget and put it into app development. That would get them a lot of widgets, and quite a bit of work from people like the BBC as well - and fill their app store up nicely. Things may of course have improved in the last year - but even I was disappointed with the options, and I bought the phone knowing I didn't want many apps.
Re: A bit hard.
Indeed. They weren't hutting anyone, or causing any bothy. So I would lean-to the side of doing nothing. After all, people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones, and a criminal record is hard to shed. Whereas now they're in the doghouse, all because they got over-excited with a wood erection.
Hmmmm. Smiley face or coat? On balance I think the bad puns have it... Byeeee.
Re: Thanks for your visions.
Yes. Nighthorses are what bacon was invented for! And I must say, she probably could have been a horror writer if she'd wanted to. Telepathic beasties getting you to help them eat you is an excellent idea for a setting. Definitely a book to read in a small log cabin in the middle of nowhere...
She's obviously got a thing for horses, I believe she's done quite a bit of riding (or she's a brilliant researcher and bluffer) - and doing ancient military history will have helped. Her fantasy's worth a look, if you haven't already. Finisterre is I guess a bit of both. Fortress in the Eye of Time is much better than the (still good) sequels - and also has lots of horses, but I think her most interesting fantasy is the Celtic based stuff. Although I'm sure other people have done it, that was the first time I'd come across someone using the Celtic myths in that way. Plus she's just re-written her 3 Russian ones and sells them ebook only (www.closed-circle.net), as apparently they got buggered up in publishing production. I've read the first one, and it doesn't seem a whole lot different to what I remember from 10-15 years ago. But I think it was the other 2 that were less successful, and I've not got on to them yet.
But I'm mostly a fan of the science fiction, and so would like to get back to that. And it would be nice to know what those lovely gents of the ex-Company Fleet are up to nowadays. Or even something about what they were up to in the war, or which she's only written the beginning and end.
Re: Why now, why so sudden, and why for so little?
Ballmer has just announced he's leaving. The share price immediately went up. Clearly this has offended him. So he's bought half of Nokia, in order to give his successor a massive headache as soon as he joins the company... Trying to integrate 30,000 new staff from a totally different business culture should keep the bugger busy!
That way Ballmer's legacy is saved, and he can hope not to go down in history as Microsoft's worst CEO.
Alternatively MS are so pissed off with their hardware partners that they're going to turn themselves into Apple. Soon they'll buy a middling PC hardware company - or maybe just contract it all out, and they'll make PCs, laptops, tablets and phones. I guess Nokia can do the tablets, given that a tablet is just a bigger phone anyway. I'm sure they'll still license Windows, and they'll not bother with the corporate desktop and server markets, but having a consumer market from all-in-one home PCs, via tablets and XBoxes, to phones makes sense. However as they've got a corporate culture as innovation-stifling as Nokia at its worst, I can't see them managing to turn themselves into a nimble consumer brand.
Third option, the MS board have written a random policy generator. Possibly computerised, possibly with the use of post-it notes and a dart board. This, Metro and the purchase of Skype are the results.
Re: Thanks for your visions.
Sadly Cherryh's gone on a bit of a Foreigner series treadmill though, presumably because the publisher keeps asking for more. I keep hoping for something new and different to come along. Maybe she can sell enough ebooks to be able to completely please herself and self-publish? Still my favourite author of any genre though.
Even better, there's no cash back if they chose to reject your domain - so tough luck if it only lasts a few days into the process. Also, where multiple companies have applied for the same one (say .book), they all had to pay ICANN. And for the potential winners, it's like Highlander, there can be only one. I wonder if ICANN will force them to settle disputes at sword-point? Then charge massive pay-per-view fees perhaps?
Finally, for extra yummyness - and this is in no way a conflict of interest or anything (honest!) - even if you didn't enter the process, you have to pay ICANN in order to raise an objection. So if you're an innocent bystander and someone tries to take over a generic word that also happens to be your company or industry name, then you'll have to fork out to ICANN to be allowed to complain. The only concession here, is that the governments are on the advisory board, so for example I think Brazil got to object to .amazon for free.
Re: Propaganda @Bumpy Cat
I'm struggling to think of one useful intervention in a war since World War 2. Perhaps you can tell me otherwise?
Well let's see, off the top of my head I can think of:
Korea, for starters. Didn't help the North, and was a bloody war, but the people of the South are probably extremely glad not to be starving at the moment. Given that the North lost an estimated 3-5 million in the 90s famine, that cancels out the war dead. Ignoring the ongoing deaths from famine and gulag.
In Africa recently we have Sierra Leone (started by our general on the ground without Blair's permission). He decided he could win the war on his own with not much more than 2 battalions, when he was only there to evacuate foreigners. And did. Shows how little force you sometimes need. Recently we also have Mali. It may not be all over, but the rebels are in disarray and no longer threatening to take over the country. Libya is a bit more contentious I know, but if Ghadaffi had stormed Bengazi it would have been a bloodbath. To be honest, I'm not sure if his army was up to it, as it was a piss poor show compared with say the Syrians. Egypt had a decently trained army, and they ended up kicking their dictator our and taking over from him, so Ghadaffi wasn't risking that. But Libya had decent equipment, and so probably could have managed it. Libya isn't now perfect, but it was much less perfect before, and was also destabilising the whole region.
On to the British empire. We have the Falklands. Killed just over 1,000 troops on both sides, from memory, about half the number of the population at the time. However it was undoubtedly moral to defend their freedom. And Argentina also benefited in the long run, in that the Junta collapsed. The Malaya emergency was a relatively low casualty campaign - although you might call it a colonial war rather than an intervention.
The military intervention in Yugoslavia worked pretty well. And would have saved more lives if done earlier. Serbia were acting relatively rationally, so force, or a convincing threat of it, got them to negotiate. While the peace is by no means perfect, it's far better than the alternative.
The no-fly zones in Iraq in the 90s saved (tens of?) thousands of lives, Kurds and Marsh Arabs. There's even a pretty good argument that the Iraq war cost fewer lives than Saddam would have if he was ruling. And when he died, or his sons took power and fucked everything up, there was going to be some kind of civil war anyway. Something that no Western intervention could stop. Rather like Syria. People talk about maintaining stability, as if these dictatorships are stable. Well in the short to medium term yes, but they do tend to build up massive tension in the system, which often leads to orgies of violence when the regimes inevitably collapse.
Is that enough of a list for you? Obviously we have many unsuccessful examples too. But then there are also many appalling examples of what doing nothing can result in. See Rwanda, maybe Syria, Yugoslavia, Congo. There's a good argument that the Rwanda situation started the Congolese civil war too, so that's nearly a million dead in Rwanda, plus 5 or 6 in Congo - and counting.
Re: What goes around..
My friend's older Sky box needs a good 2 minutes to warm up, before it will speak to him. My Mum's starts instantly, and works perfectly. Mine starts instantly but refuses to give me program details for about 10% of channels until it's got its breath back. For some bizarre reason it won't allow viewing of Dave ja vu for 10 minutes from boot, which affects no other channel. Not even Dave. Mostly it does BBC and sport, so no matter.
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