* Posts by ThomH

2004 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

The STEALTH Plug-in Hybrid: Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

ThomH
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Re: What happens to the grid ...

In the worst case what happens is: no benefit for the environment. But it buys the ability for the environmental problem to be fixed centrally. So if cold fusion were discovered tomorrow then they could just plug a couple of those into the grid. Or maybe they'll come around to the idea that new fission stations are the thing environmentally? Renewables don't exactly have a lock on being a better solution if we're optimising for that.

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It's nearly 2015 – and your Windows PC can still be owned by a Visual Basic script

ThomH
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It's nearly 2015. What Windows PC?

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Google pushes 'go' on Android Studio

ThomH
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I'd rate Android Studio as about a million times as good as Eclipse, and I've also used RubyMine at work so I understand the value of the JetBrains IDE as a transferrable skill. But...

IntelliJ is built in Java. So to use it you have to expose your machine to Oracle's vision of a runtime. Ironically for a just-in-time compiler, it seems to have absolutely no concept of just-in-time launching. Let your machine be forever burdened with Java overhead at boot regardless of what you intended to do that day.

It's also quite visibly not native software. It makes a pretty good stab at hitting a middleground between the OSes and is nowhere near Swing-level awfulness but expect normal cues to be absent and to go ignored. Git integration is one of the obvious examples: you may have your machine set up with an SSH key and all your other appropriate configuration but Android Studio comes with its own embedded version of Git that'll ignore all of that and insist you supply Google's software with your username and password. Presumably just using the Git you already have proved to be an issue across targets.

Then there's the real blight: that emulator. The default is painful and only a computer nerd could love the labyrinth of third-party options and associated manual configuration. Guess what? Being a developer doesn't automatically mean loving configuration. For me HAXM is a default install and lots of people love Genymotion but it feels like an issue is that the first-party tool just isn't up to snuff.

Other grab bag complaints: gradle wants a network connection before you can build anything. There's still no nexus between the IDE and the package manager; the one can know that you're trying to use API 21 and the other can know that API 21 is available but you're the agent that has to transfer the knowledge.

But I think Google can advance in leaps and bounds when it wants. Android 1.6 was awful. Even 2.x retained significant issues, both technical (no accelerated drawing) and in the user interface (that menu button that nobody ever spotted). So probably the future's bright.

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Wheels fall off bid to sue Apple over iTunes anti-piracy shenanigans

ThomH
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Re: how long? @circuitguy

I don't think Apple had much left in its witness buying off fund this month, since it overspent on helping to cover up the faked moon landings, sheltering the person that really shot JFK and pretending that Obama was born in the US.

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LA schools math quiz: $500 Chromebooks or $700 iPads for students?

ThomH
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Re: The schools will "choose"

I understand that it's the school's budget but that even iPads were considered justified because the third alternative is textbooks, which are even more expensive. California, like the other states I'm aware of, requires that textbooks be approved before schools can purchase them, which creates something of a captive audience for the publishers and gives them significant extra costs to defray (especially in terms of risk).

Which seems to be similar to the process for hardware but I guess the fact that Chromebooks and iPads have a huge external audience limits price jacking.

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Ten Mac freeware apps for your new Apple baby

ThomH
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Re: You should try pressing ctrl in addition to cmd+shift+4 @JDX

Command+shift+control+4 and select an area.

Open Preview and the command+n File menu will have become "New from Clipboard". So select that or hit command+n for an atomic create+paste.

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First in line to order a Nexus 6? AT&T has a BRICK for you

ThomH
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To me it sounded more like AT&T's "value adding" Android customisations may not be functioning correctly; meanwhile the demo units usually run a completely different software configuration full of tutorials and guides.

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Windows Phone will snatch biz No 2 spot from Android – analyst

ThomH
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Chromebooks accounted for 35% of US B2B laptop purchases during the first five months of 2014 per NPD. So Microsoft has been losing its grip on businesses at an unprecedented rate. If Microsoft is focussing effort on trying to segue its business computer hegemony into phone success then it might be better advised not to take so much for granted or it may end up without dominance anywhere. And, yes, I feel old just being able to type that. Things change, I guess.

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Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop

ThomH
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Re: android

I use mine rarely because I use it for relatively limited things — web, email, Netflix, Hulu and application development — so I'm in the habit of turning it all the way off when I'm finished. That being an accepted difference between you and I, it's still speedy and working perfectly.

I'm a very casual developer so haven't tried the Lollipop beta and am still running ordinary 4.4 but I'll probably accept the over-the-air upgrade without compunction when it becomes available. My experience from owning an iPad is that these kinds of complaint tend to be very much about edge cases; I can think of uncountable iOS updates that reportedly had users up in arms but which were completely uncontroversial from my subjective point of view.

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Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash

ThomH
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Re: Why Flash?

Netflix is now available via the HTML5 premium video extensions — most controversially the encrypted media extensions which either (a) seek to corrupt the aim of open standards to allow consumption anywhere; or (b) accept that DRM is the trade-off for some content access and try to make it less vendor-dependant. Depending on where you sit.

If you're accessing Netflix through a browser and your browser isn't IE11/Windows 8.1 or Safari/OS X v10.10 then, yes, it's still Silverlight powered.

But I think a huge proportion of access is now probably tablets, TVs with native clients, set-top boxes, video game consoles, etc, etc, etc. Not Silverlight places.

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Countdown contestant pays homage to IT Crowd's Moss

ThomH
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Re: "Not available in your country. Sorry."

Haven't you noticed the increasing number of articles from El Reg's San Francisco office, full of American spellings and terms? I don't think there's any intention to be a British publication for British people.

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LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball

ThomH
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Re: Secret mode? @Dave 126

Xenon 2, naturally.

Actually, I didn't know the cheat. But how many games were really famed for their music before the PC could keep up?

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Anonymous ‪hacks the Ku Klux Klan after Ferguson‬ threats

ThomH
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Re: "Hacking"?

If I were asked to guess the KKK's password then I'd be happy those text boxes usually don't let anybody else see what you're typing.

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The Nokia ENIGMA THING and its SECRET, TERRIBLE purpose

ThomH
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Re: 5. A marijuana vaporizer

You could sell geographic distribution information to kebab vans?

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Microsoft .NET released from its Windows chains... but what ABOUT MONO?

ThomH
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Re: Licence

The repository is up at https://github.com/microsoft/dotnet and says:

.NET open source projects typically use either the MIT or Apache 2 licenses for code. Some projects license documentation and other forms of content under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0. See specific projects to understand the license used.

.NET Core uses the MIT licence. The .NET Compiler Platform remains Apache 2.0. For comparison, Mono components are primarily licensed via one of the GPL, LGPL or MIT X11 licences.

So I think that's one barrier to trust overcome.

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ThomH
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Re: The last throw of the dice? (@asdf)

What's wrong with managed code? Is it virtual machines in general or just Microsoft's approach?

I think the Android switch from Dalvik to ART is interesting: Google is switching from just-in-time to ahead-of-time compilation, compiling on the device at the point of app installation a lot like a traditional make install but from an intermediary byte code rather than from source. It's being promoted as a performance win, eliminating any remaining user-noticeable distinction between 'managed' (in Microsoft parlance) and 'unmanaged' code.

I've seen it argued that such an approach should ultimately prevail everywhere because it resolves the same security issues as an MMU without requiring all those expensive context switches every time a system call is made. That is, given the semantics involved, a proper compiler can generate code that is guaranteed safe to run as ring 0. I have no independent opinion on that other than that it sounds reasonable at a brief parsing to someone who doesn't do anything closely related for a living.

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Vodafone: For Pete's sake! Apple’s 'soft' SIM's JUST AN EE SIM

ThomH
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Re: Sounds like Vodafone is unhappy @BristolBachelor

You're not a huge distance from arguing that a CD player could not be more consumer friendly. The simple fact is that — with a hypothetical perfect software SIM — it would be more consumer friendly not to have to carry multiple if these things around, not to have to try to obtain them in foreign languages when you have better things to do with your only seven days in the country, to have the cross-network pricing options clearly tabulated free of marketing puff, etc.

Of course, what Apple supplies is nowhere near the hypothetical perfection. Not even close.

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ThomH
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Re: Sounds like Vodafone is unhappy (@Dan 55)

In theory, what's good for the consumer is good for the manufacturer. It is in Apple's interest to create a smoother experience for potential customers because then potential customers are more likely to become actual customers.

Apple would argue it has attempted to do that by creating the soft SIM: it's trying to eliminate that bit where you have to obtain a physical thing and put it into a slot. Which is especially helpful if you're on holiday or one of those people that just travels a lot. Also it'd be one less cause of consumer inertia in picking carriers even in their own home, were the idea fully adopted.

I've no idea whether there's a subsidy involved but even if so that doesn't mean Apple hasn't done good for the consumer. In the US you get three options when starting up, one of which locks the SIM forever but the other two of which can be switched between at will depending on the latest pricing. All pricing is the same as obtaining a physical SIM. So the overall experience is better for the consumer.

Of course an even more neutral SIM would be even better, and would probably be even better for Apple too.

Hopefully Google will do something similar and the customer will benefit both from the on-device choice of carriers and from being able to pick their gatekeeper to that list. Or still being able to do the physical thing if they really want.

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SO LONELY: Woman DARED to get rid of her iPHONE - Apple DUMPED all her TXTS

ThomH
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Re: Oops!! @"if it doesn't send, then Apple could try SMS"

The multitude of people to have suggested that appear not to use the service. iMesages are more like Google Hangouts than text messages. If you own the connected phone then you can add a phone number as one of your addresses but after that you'll receive all messages sent to you via your phone, your iPad, your Mac, etc. It's multi-client instant chat. The issue is that your Apple friends end up sending you chat messages when they want to send you text messages, which makes a difference only once your phone can't receive them.

You most likely still receive them on your iPad, Mac, etc. They're still received. There are still receipts being returned.

Unlike the average tech blogger, normal people are perfectly happy to mix and match brands, including to wander in and out of iPhone ownership over the years.

An iPhone will resend as SMS if it can't send as an iMessage but that's mainly about non-data mobile connections still being more widely available than data connections per the frequencies at play. It's a failure-to-send fallback.

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ThomH
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Re: Oops!! (@Marketing Hack)

Apple doesn't "force customers to register to get something as basic to mobile telephony as SMS messages if they leave Apple". See my other message below. I'm a recent departee. I haven't registered. I still have other Apple devices which receive iMessages sent to my email account. I've had no interruption in texts from my Apple-owning friends.

Though with further hindsight I can only assume that's because I wiped the phone before handing it back (it was a work phone so will now be somebody else's; contrast with if I'd broken it and bought something else or just put it into a drawer). Otherwise how could Apple know?

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ThomH
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Re: I find this side of Apple extremely distasteful.

It'll look appropriately awful. But I think the issue may already be technically fixed. I switched away a couple of months ago and all of my Apple-toting friends' messages are now just arriving by regular text message. I didn't inform Apple, I still use some non-phone iMessage-enabled devices, I kept the same number with no discontinuity of service. I don't know what the applied logic is but I appeared not to lose anything in the switchover.

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ThomH
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Re: Oops!!

I don't think you've understood the issue. The suit is for failure to disclose a policy. That is, failure at the time you become a customer. That's when the actionable offence allegedly occurs. It's nothing whatsoever to do with how Apple acts after you're gone and everything to do with how it acts when you're entering.

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Microsoft to bring back beloved 1990s super-hit BATTLETOADS!?*

ThomH
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That hoverbike level!

Yes, you know the one. There are rumoured to be ten levels after it but nobody has ever seen them.

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Microsoft's TV product placement horror: CNN mistakes Surface tabs for iPAD STANDS

ThomH
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Re: Different types of product placement

Mostly correct, I'm sure, but if Apple never pays for "... celebrities to tweet 'I love my new iPhone'" then what was all that from the ghost of Joan Rivers?

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Microsoft: How to run Internet Explorer 11 on ANDROID, iOS, OS X

ThomH
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Whither cookies?

Using Microsoft Remote Desktop from a Mac to connect to the supplied IE11 test app, a quick trip to http://www.whatismybrowser.com/are-cookies-enabled confirms that cookies aren't enabled. Selecting 'Internet options' behind the gear icon does exactly nothing. If I go to Safety -> Webpage privacy policy... then I get a screen that confirms that cookies are disabled. Any attempt to enable cookies in the dialogue that sits below that has no effect.

I confirmed this behaviour by testing against standard, trusted sites like LinkedIn and Gmail.

So, ummm, not all that useful for testing actually, Microsoft.

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Got a spare $600k? Then an ancient Apple-1 could be yours

ThomH
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Re: U571

The spokesman doesn't say that at all. He said: "It all started with the Apple-1". If we're going to assume he meant something more than just "[Apple] all started with the Apple-1" then why stop at the entire digital world? Why not assume he meant that the Apple-1 ushered in the creation of the universe? I certainly can't personally vouch for anything definitely having existed prior to the early-'80s.

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ThomH
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Re: The machine that started the digital revolution?

If I dare suggest: the spokesman's comment that "when you see a child playing with an iPad or iPhone, not too many people know that it all started with the Apple-1" suggests that he just means that Apple, the noteworthy company, started with the Apple-1. Not the digital age. Not the home computer revolution. Just Apple.

Such other births as you may want to peg to the Apple-1 are entirely at your own discretion.

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Pixel mania: Apple 27-inch iMac with 5K Retina display

ThomH
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@Zot

Ars has an article — http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/10/the-retina-imac-and-its-5k-display-as-a-gaming-machine/2/ — in which they play the current Alien game at 4k with screenshots, benchmarks and subjective reactions.

I don't want to ruin it too much for you, but:

The 3840x1440 runs appeared visually smooth when I watched them complete, but the numbers tell a bit of a different tale. When I hopped into the game to actually play at that resolution, there was a noticeable amount of mouse lag. Indications are that a faster CPU would have helped considerably, but with the iMac, what you get is what you get.

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ThomH
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Re: Value for money?

The Dell you refer to is a TN panel with about 8.3 megapixels and a linear density of around 163 ppi. The same as a first-generation iPhone.

The iMac is an IPS panel with about 14.7 megapixels and a linear density of around of around 217 ppi. A shade above the Nexus 7.

It's a fatuous comparison.

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This is why we CAN have nice things: Samsung Galaxy Alpha

ThomH
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Re: Metal/Glass phones

There's no reason anybody should have noticed but Nokia phones still do that. The whole back comes off as a single piece and various after-market options are available, including ordinary replacements, more interesting colours, ones with built-in flip covers and probably more.

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Even a broken watch is right twice a day: Not an un-charged Apple Watch

ThomH
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Re: smart watch usage

It depends whether you lump health watches in with smart watches. If you do then mine does the following without two hands: monitors my heart rate, steps taken, skin temperature and perspiration level, all so as to determine periods in which I'm sleeping, running, walking or cycling, and therefore to comment on my general fitness.

Which are mostly things my phone doesn't do. Or I wouldn't have bought it.

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Apple's OS X Yosemite slurps UNSAVED docs into iCloud

ThomH
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Big Brother

Re: It Just Works

But who is it working for?

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Planning to fly? Pour out your shampoo, toss your scissors, RENAME TERRORIST WI-FI!

ThomH
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If I name my hotspot "United States Perfect Freedom Democracy Network", will I get a free upgrade to first class?

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SKYPE has the HOTS for my NAKED WIFE

ThomH
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Re: Poll

If anybody wants to know how to stop advertising from working on them then I know one weird old tip. Yours for a song.

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Speaking in Tech: Too fat for MARS!

ThomH
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If that's your position, didn't the BBC express an opinion you could agree with circa 1989?

I enjoy it, personally. But not on an intellectual level — it's popular, family viewing.

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Lollipop unwrapped: Chromium WebView will update via Google Play

ThomH
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If I dare suggest it: Google's vague, thin version of open source (we'll write it in private, according to our priorities, then show you when it's done: the cathedral model, but they'll sell the bibles over in the bazaar) served its purpose, of getting a certain kind of press for a certain audience when Android wasn't yet at critical mass, but is just no longer necessary. As the runaway winner in smartphones, with a mature and well-received product, Google no longer needs to play to that audience and doesn't otherwise desire to.

There's a bit of devil's advocacy to that statement; I'd love to hear the contrary viewpoint.

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ThomH
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PhoneGap and Cordova are the same thing

The former is the name of a distribution of the latter.

I'm not a fan.

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Hey Apple, we're gonna tailor Swift as open source – indie devs throw down gauntlet

ThomH
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Re: What exactly is the point ... @AC

My previous comment simply pointed out that you had misunderstood the Ars article. It's a technical discussion of how Swift works and why it was designed as it is. It is not an evaluation of Swift versus other languages. It is not an evaluation of LLVM versus other compilers.

Similarly my post claims only to be about what the Ars article is meant to convey. It does not at any point make the claim that I know anything more about compiler writing than what is stated in the contents of that article.

But what I'm enjoying is that I accused you of constructing straw men and you responded with:

"Can you explain how concatenating two strings of unknown size at compile-time, and storing the result in a third string, also of unknown size at compile-time, can be strength reduced to the native integer add case?", something neither I nor anybody else had claimed or come close to claiming, before segueing into: "Claiming that it is possible to apply strength reduction to an overloaded plus operator in such a way that it always reduces to the integer add case, and therefore only the integer add case ever needs to be emitted in machine code, is pure bullshit."

I am honestly unsure whether you're just a brilliant satirist. Kudos to you if so.

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ThomH
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Re: What exactly is the point ... @AC

You might want to reread that article.

The point of that section is: the language was designed by the compiler author. In this specific case he wanted to make sure the plus operator could be defined per class without adding any baggage to a normal integer add — adding nothing, in machine code, beyond what the C would generate — and he wanted to do it without creating a special case. To which a discussion of how a modern compiler works is relevant because it helps us understand the mindset behind the new language.

Not a single line of that piece claims "Apple Has Done It Again". You're erecting a straw man.

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ThomH
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I don't agree with the second statement, based on the LLVM track record. It was first released in 2003. Chris Lattner was hired by Apple specifically to work on LLVM for them in 2005, where amongst other duties he has added to it technologies intended to make it easier to write efficient and safe software for iOS and Mac OS X: ARC being the most obvious one. Those are completely open source.

Apple has effectively owned LLVM for more than 80% of its life and hasn't made any attempt to close the source — which might have been legally possible (as the original author's ownership isn't subject to the licence he offers the rest of the world, but I don't know who else had contributed) but regardless could easily have been achieved in practice by having Lattner work on a new compiler that wasn't LLVM.

I'm willing to bet that Swift isn't open source because, as evidenced by Apple telling everyone that the exact final syntax is still up for grabs, the company doesn't want to commit to anything yet.

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Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook

ThomH
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Which CEO was it that delivered all the record quarters at Microsoft?

... and how has he been judged?

Golden ages are subjective.

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Apple flings iOS 8.1 at world+dog: Our AMAZEBALLS 9-step installation guide

ThomH
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Re: Meh.

Pssst... insider's tip: iOS 7 does panoramas. No need for you to upgrade!

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FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for

ThomH
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Re: Sigh

I wouldn't get too used to soldered RAM; it's clearly going to end up on the same physical silicon as the CPU before too long. Not for everyone, of course, in the same way that the compromises made to have the GPU on the same die isn't good for a lot of users — creatives and gamers, in particular — but I would dare imagine it'll be something Apple does everywhere except the Mac Pro.

I was pleasantly surprised that the 5k iMac still has RAM sockets. In a machine that size and that price I shouldn't have needed to be surprised at all.

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ThomH
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Re: Huh?

Using vanilla v10.10, the following is displayed every time I hit the spotlight icon:

In addition to searching your Mac, Spotlight now shows suggestions from the Internet, iTunes, App Store, locations nearby, and more. To make suggestions more relevant to you, Spotlight includes your approximate location with search requests to Apple.

You can change this in Preferences. Learn more…

... with that final bit being a link. So no intelligence required: just ordinary reading.

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ThomH
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All back to Quicksilver then?

It would appear they've continued updating it. Reinstalling it should give that pleasingly 10.3 feel to the day.

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iPad AIR 2 and iPad MINI 3, 5K iMac: World feels different today – and it IS

ThomH
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Re: 'quad-core Intel Core i5 processors running at 3GHz'

i5 is a brand name. It is not a model number. The i5 processors are on at least their third micro-architecture. Counting the cores and looking at the clock rate is fatuous.

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ThomH
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Re: 2GB GPU to drive a 5k display? @dogged

That would be the issue raised by someone who titled their post "Radeon 290X to drive a 5k display?"

As to heat though, I'll bet Apple has just underclocked it. The advertised fill rate for that GPU is 64 gigapixels per second; enough to fill every pixel on screen more than 4,340 times a second. Let's suppose they underclocked it by 50%, which they won't have, that's naively enough to paint every pixel 36 times at 60 frames per second. Or more than enough to paint every pixel once even when you factor in that advertised fill rates aren't really achievable and blur translucency costs quite a few samples*. And OS X does not repaint every pixel for every frame, it just reacts to the changes (yes, with some redundancy because it's a broad-phase test).

* but not as many as you think; per empirical investigation Apple is using a smart mix of mip map samples very closely to approximate a Gaussian in four or five samples.

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ThomH
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Re: BBC

Android launches occur all the time and Google's own hardware doesn't dominate the market. It's therefore less newsworthy.

As to your random accusation of bias? Let's check the historical record:

After launch, the newer Nexus 7 sold fewer than a million units a month: http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/11/11/why-isnt-googles-new-nexus-7-outselling-its-predec.aspx . The iPad Air sold more than five million units a month after its launch: http://www.wired.com/2014/04/apple-q2-earnings-2/

The BBC put both of the launches of the last two days on its front page (see https://web.archive.org/web/20141015182903/http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ ).

The difference is that the launch that's likely to interest more than five times as many people got one of the picture boxes rather than just a single line, giving it much greater prominence.

I'd suggest this is because the BBC reports based on likely reader interest. It's pretty much given that the iPads will massively outsell the tiny subset of new Android devices that was announced yesterday.

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ThomH
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Re: 2GB GPU to drive a 5k display?

The screen is 5120x2880 pixels — coming up to 15 megapixels. At 32bits per pixel, that requires a frame buffer of 56.25 megabytes. A 2gb GPU can therefore store more than 37 copies of the display before running out of space. So there's plentiful room for all of the things a GPU caches.

What do you imagine the issue to be?

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