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* Posts by ThomH

1912 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Apple to ditch Intel – report

ThomH
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I guess it's always possible that when those "people familiar with the company's research" say that Apple is "exploring ways" to use its own silicon in future Macs what's actually being proposed is the consolidation of every non-CPU function into a single chip, keeping the Intel processor and moving to a [pretty much] two-chip design? They're already doing soldered RAM and SSD, the iPad designs are triple-sandwiched CPU+GPU+RAM chips and peering at the current Macbook Pro motherboard on Google images appears to show tens of chips across the board.

They're already using the on-board GPUs but I guess that building RAM+SSD into a single unit would be a good saving? It doesn't feel like something that's likely to come onto the market from anyone else.

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ThomH
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@AC

I think that the most popular use for BootCamp, Parallels, VMWare, etc is probably to play games. They're still routinely released for Windows but not for the Mac. Having a quick glance at the current Amazon charts, if you exclude Windows 8 then the first thing not available for the Mac is "Honestech VHS to DVD 5.0 Deluxe" at number 24 (though, in fairness, I think not all variations of Quicken are available).

That said, per NetApplications Apple had 4% marketshare before it switched to Intel; more than six years later that's moved up to 7.2%. Linux has remained just below 1% across the entire period. There's basically no chance of Linux overtaking the Mac even if Apple were to make any sort of drastically unpopular change — there seems to be a glass ceiling Linux can't break through while the Mac has managed to endure regardless of mismanagement.

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Apple iPad Mini 8in tablet review

ThomH
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Re: Sheltered Life

While I agree that the iPad's unique selling proposition isn't related to the specifications and disagree that it's merely slaving brand devotion, I've also found the Nexus 7 to be pretty good. The one I used was fast and felt robust and well constructed. While metal's nice to the touch, the big dent in the back of my (perfectly functional) iPad 1 does prove that it has downsides too; I'm pretty sure that the slightly rubberised Nexus 7 would have survived the same drop with no lasting effect whatsoever.

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Underdone iTunes put back in oven for another month

ThomH
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Re: No surprise

People have been criticising the Windows port of iTunes with good justification for nearly a decade, so many have definitely not been listening. What surprises me is that the push back against Safari had a very quick effect — it speedily switched from Apple's custom font and window rendering to fitting in properly via Windows' native controls and text — but iTunes has clung on.

I'm going to imagine, despite having no real evidence, that the current iTunes is the last resting place of Carbon, which is probably less distantly descended from QuickTime for Windows than you'd hope. In my fantasy world the new release will sweep that aside, preferring whatever technological basis seems to work for Safari and dumping the heft. I'm happy in my world.

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Hmm, I think I'll order an iPad Mini on Amazon ... Oh no I won't

ThomH
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Ummm, I think MaFt was making the point that feature comparison charts from biased sources are usually a little ridiculous by supplying some absurd suggestions. He doesn't deserve the negative votes.

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ThomH
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Not particularly accurately, though

Is it really taking the high ground to state that a screen larger than 720p — and about 77% as many pixels as what Amazon calls 'HD' — is "standard definition" and to imply that the iPad has no Wifi? I'm also unclear how they arrive at the claim that the iPad can't be used for viewing HD movies or TV in the sense that the Kindle can.

If I were Amazon I'd have pushed the pixel density (for tick box feature completists) and price (for normal people) issues harder, ignored the more tenuous claims and put an icon for whatever maps application Amazon ships into the screenshot as a dog whistle. Since it's a Kindle-branded product, boasting about the Amazon digital book library versus the iBooks storefront would probably also have been appropriate.

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Samsung posts record profits as Galaxy sales crush Apple

ThomH
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Re: Samsung more successful than Apple? Apple throwing it's toys out of the pram in the UK Court

Hasn't Samsung always been more successful than Apple? Per the Internet Samsung usurped HP to become the number one technology company when measuring by sales back in 2009.

I think the story is more interesting in terms of trends — Apple's numbers appear more or less stagnant (albeit quite healthy) while Samsung's are growing quickly.

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Apple's 13-inch Retina MacBook torn asunder for your pleasure

ThomH
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Re: Really disappointed

Assuming we're talking just amongst retinas, I can easily see your point of view. Take the stock 13", add the build-to-order 256Gb storage upgrade to give it storage parity with the stock 15" and you're only $200 away. But for moving up you get a quad core CPU rather than a dual core and a discrete GPU, no doubt more than making up for the 0.2Ghz drop in CPU clock speed.

Relative to the price of the machine as a whole, that's a bargain.

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EC: Microsoft didn't honour browser-choice commitment

ThomH
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Re: Just wish

Then the correct conclusion is that you don't know what anticompetitive is.

Microsoft were selling one kind of product, very successfully. Netscape came along and started selling a separate kind of product, very successfully. Microsoft used the money and resources from the one kind of product to force Netscape from the market. In short they used a dominant position in one market to distort competition in another. Actual damage was done to real consumers.

Apple doesn't have a dominant position to abuse. It hasn't used resources in one market to force anyone out of another. The competition for everything it does is very healthy. If you, as a consumer, don't like the way Apple is working then there are lots of other options with similar market clout. The free market is functioning.

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Apple unsheathes MacBook 13-incher

ThomH
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Re: The only snag...

While that's a valid criticism, there's something of a chicken and egg situation backing it up — the Mac rarely gets triple A titles at the same time as other platforms, giving it an ability to lag in GPU power. Of the current Mac App Store top 10, the [budget] ports of the Grand Theft Auto 3 series are probably the most GPU taxing. Widening the net to the top 25 brings a couple of Call of Duty titles into consideration but neither a more recent initial release than 2010.

So there's empirical evidence that the GPU is more than good enough for the majority of Apple's customers, even though it's not about to attract any serious gamers.

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Apple adds Fusion Drive IO to iMac

ThomH
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Re: very easy to do on other hardware

Intel's solution is to use SSD as cache; Apple appears to be talking about actually locating files on the SSD _instead of_ on the hard disk. So it's not a matter of one physical address being made faster, it's a matter of data being moved from one address range to another.

Assuming Apple's comments today were more than mere marketing puff, the system sees the two things as two drives and then manages that all for you. Analysis I've now seen elsewhere suggests that 10.7's CoreStorage acts to make a single virtual address space for all drives and the OS then shuffles the physical mapping based on whatever metrics it thinks are relevant. But the software makes two hardware things look like one rather than the one hardware thing secretly being more complicated inside.

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ThomH
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So two physical drives are merged at the same mount point?

That'd require some significant rewiring within HFS+, wouldn't it? I mean it's obviously trivial to have, say, /Applications on the SSD and /users on the platter but from the announcements it sounds like they're talking about moving individual files between them but still having them appear to software to be in the same place?

Probably I'm relying on faulty information.

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Apple unveils iPad mini, upgrades its big brother

ThomH
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Re: Nonexistent Nexus?

Indeed, my main thoughts have been 'is $100 extra over the Nexus worth it for a 40+% bigger screen?' — I wonder if we're about to see an inversion of the usual squabbling over whether screen sizes matter above all else?

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Google shares dive as profits reported down 20%

ThomH
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In 2011 96% of Google's income came from advertising (source: http://venturebeat.com/2012/01/29/google-advertising/). Even if Android were the only other one of Google's income streams, it would still be insignificant in comparison in terms of revenue and in any case I think that trying to close it up and squeeze more money by that route would be counterproductive. It's certainly not in itself going to lead to the sort of growth that is going to offset advertising losses.

So I'm confident that Android is safe exactly as it is.

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A lesser-known new feature in iOS 6: It's tracking you everywhere

ThomH
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Re: This is ridiculous (as is the usual drivel coming out Business Insider)

The full framework documentation is at http://developer.apple.com/library/ios/#documentation/DeviceInformation/Reference/AdSupport_Framework/_index.html — if an advertiser wants explicitly to post a location then the app will have to request and be approved for location updates. Otherwise all they're getting is the "alphanumeric string unique to each device, used only for serving advertisements. [...] the same value is returned to all vendors. This identifier may change—for example, if the user erases the device—so you should not cache it."

Your 'opt out' appears equivalent to the don't track HTTP flag in that the advertising agent gets told that you don't want to be tracked and is then merely honour bound (or possibly legally bound, depending on your country) to obey. No technical barrier is erected. At best I guess Apple may implement some sort of vetting system for app approval.

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ThomH
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Re: I hate sites / apps that bury settings like this

I'm not sure this is entirely true, but only on very slender grounds: I can never find anything in any reasonable amount of time within my iPhone's settings. The whole layout seems completely counterintuitive. As a result, I don't think we can assume malicious intent from the simple fact of a new setting being in a very strange place.

Obvious examples: why is Auto-Lock a 'general' setting but Brightness & Wallpaper a top-level setting? Why is iTunes Match under 'Music' rather than under 'iCloud'? How is asking the phone right now to check for a software update a setting at all?

They desperately need an OS X-style search bar, I think.

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Microsoft Surface: Designed to win, priced to fail

ThomH
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Re: And all Apple has to do ?

Unless they foolishly introduce an iPad Mini in the tiny gap between iPod Touch and iPad, of course. Then they've no real flexibility to drop the price of one thing without having to drop the price of the whole lot. If it's take a hit across the range from the lowest iPod up or wait and expect that Microsoft fails on its own merits I think it's likely they'll try the latter.

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ThomH
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What's wrong with Pages, Numbers and Keynote?

They're as good in isolation as most other word processors, spreadsheets and presentation software, and as compatible with Microsoft Office as most things that aren't Microsoft Office (ie, reasonably but less so since Microsoft started creating fonts specifically for its idiosyncratic kerning and declining to license them).

I like to imagine that Microsoft's belated entry has made a lot of people realise that Office-equivalent functionality will do, whether on iOS or Android, in much the same way that IBM compatible became an acceptable alternative to buying IBM — especially when they took forever to release a 386.

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AMD to decimate workforce several times over?

ThomH
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Re: Decimation or decim8shun?

Per the OED, decimate has had the meaning of 'devastate' since at least 1663; every single use of the word in the British National Corpus as maintained by Oxford University uses it in that sense, though they all seem to be from the 1990s or newer so that's not a fantastic argument.

It's the idea that it's being used incorrectly that's a modern invention. It's up there with the idea that the lack of a possessive apostrophe on 'its' is a special case* for false inventions that have somehow gripped the public imagination.

* it's not — check the other personal pronouns; 'one's' is the special case.

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13-inch 'Retina Display' MacBook Pro to uncloak next Tuesday?

ThomH
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Re: Epoch making?

I always thought the approximate birth of Christ (leaving the question of divinity explicitly aside), the accession of Richard the 1st, the French Revolution and possibly even January the 1st 1970 were fairly important dates. Little did I suspect that a new laptop was going to sweep our current era aside.

I have my fingers crossed for the sake of the original author that his words have suffered an unduly literal translation.

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Retailer leaks iPad Mini price list starting at £200

ThomH
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Surely the question is: if the alleged iPad Mini is £199 then who's going to bother with an iPod Touch? The Nano and the Shuffle are already there for jogging, living in the glove compartment, etc.

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ThomH
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Re: So, despite rest-of-world being utterly wrong (@GettinSada)

Aspect ratios aside, I'll bet the new device won't run existing apps but physically smaller.

My logic is that the result would be a user experience train wreck, Apple has put significant effort into how layouts resize under iOS 6 (struts and springs are gone; you now specify arbitrary constraints) and it would be very uncharacteristic not to arm twist the developer base into adopting the latest technologies.

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Google readying on-device malware scanner for Android

ThomH
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Re: ABOUT TIME!!! Really? (@AC 16:37)

If implemented correctly it should be imperceivable — so much effort has gone into engineering mobile phone software to be power efficient that spare processing capacity is available quite often.

We should be grateful that Google, with a vested interest in doing it well, is stepping up before manufactures start shovelling on their own solutions. Have a wander around PC World to see the worst possible outcome.

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Apple to drop chip-baking partnership with Samsung?

ThomH
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Re: Painting themselves into a corner

If iOS is a copy of Android because it has lifted some good ideas (the notification area being the most obvious) then Android is a copy of iOS for the same reason (eg, pinch to zoom). Neither is inherently in the wrong, and I think it's really only ever cited as an issue because Apple insists on being so litigious.

OS X isn't built on BSD. It also isn't bug ridden.

History says Windows 8 won't bury Apple. Windows 95 and 98 were lightyears ahead of System 7 in a lot of important areas — preemptive multitasking and memory protection sound like tedious tech wedge issues but substantially improve the user experience. Regardless, Apple survived.

The Linux distros don't make OS X old fashioned any more than the Apple Magic Track Pad or whatever it's called makes mice look old fashioned. Simply being different isn't the test.

Hackintoshes are a solution for, what, the most technical 5% of people?

Samsung and Apple phones and tablets are basically indistinguishable. The fact that developing software for them is common now and that tech types like yourself therefore ascribe greater significance to brands hasn't much changed how people pick their devices; nobody outside Internet forum types thinks of either as a great satan. Ironically it's the people that most complain about Apple users slavishly following the company that most strongly define themselves by a brand — it just happens that they're defining themselves in opposition. In any case they're a tiny subset of society. Based on the value proposition Apple probably deserves some segment of the market — say 10% or maybe even 15% — and will probably end up profitably maintaining that segment.

Apple has almost $100bn in cash reserves. That's the biggest cash hoard in corporate America, and more than twice that of Microsoft. Even if nobody buys another Apple product or service ever again, they're going nowhere for a very long time.

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MYSTERIOUS GREEN GLOW seen on iPhone 5s

ThomH
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Re: ACTUALLY (@AC 17:06)

For the purposes of anecdotes, I've seen the purple fringe too, with a lot of light coming from the top of the frame but no light source in or near the shot.

Conversely, there's no green glow, the battery seems to last about twice as long as that in my 4S (though I'm comparing one after several months of development use, with the huge number of part charge cycles that result from plugging in and unplugging the device, to the other more or less straight) and if there are any other hardware complaints doing the rounds then I can't claim to have experienced them.

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Gavel fails to fall for Apple 1

ThomH
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Re: Too right, typical Apple

@Destroy All Monsters: The 68020 is definitely 32-bit, no matter which way you cut it — 32-bit instruction set architecture, 32-bit data bus, 32-bit address bus. The 68000 was considered 16-bit at the time because of the 16-bit data bus though I'm not sure it'd be classified that way now as it had the full 32-bit ISA.

@Gaius: the MultiFinder was released in 1987 as part of System 5. In performance terms the Mac had the edge as of the Mac II (also 1987) since the Amiga stayed at ~7Mhz on a 68000 until 1990, whereas Apple more than doubled that clock rate and switched to the 68020. For GUI tasks the original Mac also outpaces the Amiga because the CPU is slightly faster and the display used for the GUI — being limited to 1bpp — is a lot more compact, and hence faster to manipulate. So there's really no tenable argument about performance.

Apple weren't shy in charging very high prices and often lagged in features (like, you know, colour) but it's rewriting history to suggest that there was "no contest".

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ThomH
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Re: Was crap then and is still crap (@heyrick)

The Apple 2 came out a year after the Apple 1, from the same team, based directly on lessons learnt and using money earned, and was explicitly a direct replacement product. There's a direct causal nexus between the two — the Apple 2 exists because the Apple 1 existed.

Conversely things using an ARM today do not exist just because the Archimedes project existed. They'd all still exist, they'd just use a different processor architecture.

I'm also unclear why you assume that if a machine can't be written off as virtueless then it must be worth a lot of money.

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ThomH
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Re: Was crap then and is still crap

Surely another virtue is that it led to the Apple 2, the personal computer that ran VisiCalc and hence became the first to be popular in business? A lot of small and medium-sized businesses hadn't previously had any sort of computer at all.

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iPad Mini pics spied on Twitter

ThomH
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Re: A standard port?

Sadly not. It's one of Apple's new lightning ports. They're technically better because the meaning of the pins is configured by a chip in the cable, allowing it to support arbitrary connectors at the other end, but practically worse than a micro-USB or traditional iPod dock connector as an example of the usual arguments against proprietary ports.

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iOS 6 Alarms bug hits Australia

ThomH
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Re: Again

This would appear to be only a problem with that one widget, so it's a highly localised display bug. Given that the previous screw ups have been system wide issues related to comprehension of daylight savings transition days, this does technically count as an improvement...

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RIP Psion PLC: You're with Motorola now

ThomH
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I'm pretty sure they invented the PDA so that Hungry Horace could better schedule his skiing trips.

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Sharp punches out über-retina phone screen

ThomH
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Looks nice on my Fuji X-Pro1

The back screen is 3 inches, 4:3 (to include some metadata below the photo and to allow you to shoot 4:3 if you desire) and packs 1.23 megapixels. So by my arithmetic that's a resolution of 1280x960 with real screen dimensions of 2.4x1.8 inches. Or slightly more than 533 pixels per inch.

And, to make the point, the photos look like real photos, light emittance versus light reflectance aside.

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ThomH
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Re: 300dpi or...

That's not the same sort of DPI. On a screen 300DPI usually means 300 RGB triplets per inch, in printing it usually means 300 single coloured dots. That's why some people prefer PPI for pixels-per-inch.

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Network boffins say Terabit Ethernet is TOO FAST

ThomH
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Re: Not to mention...

Given that there's a world market for about five computers, networking hardly feels essential at all.

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Firefox's birthday present to us: Teaching tech titans about DIY upstarts

ThomH
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Re: Revisionism (@OsricTheGreat)

Your contention is that there's some ill-defined elite of Internet overlords that, behind closed doors, configure their machines to British English, download all the browsers, type 'color' into a text box and if no spelling correction hint occurs then allow the browser to succeed in the market?

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ThomH
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You could argue that, but on the other hand we'd not yet have had the smartphone revolution or any particularly usable tablets because it's only ARM's virtual ownership of that market that's made Intel chips even slightly suitable for low-power use.

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Microsoft: 'To fill 6,000 jobs, we'll pay $10K per visa'

ThomH
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Re: 6000

H1Bs are fairly easy to transfer; otherwise the problem that Microsoft (and everyone else in the article) identifies is very real. New H1Bs run out in April or May and come into effect in October; you can expect to have to offer at least a 50% greater salary to anyone you want to hire around October simply because the pool artificially contracts.

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Apple MacBook Air 13in review

ThomH
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Re: Next up...

Proprietary disk drive, proprietary joystick wiring and it _still_ doesn't do clash-free graphics? Not to mention the wallpaper operating system — we've had menus for years.

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Chip strip reveals 'handmade' Apple A6

ThomH
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Re: Samsung

Samsung would be foolish to cut Apple off. Apple wouldn't just go home and think 'well, that showed us!', they'd take the same amount of money and give it to a competitor. All Samsung would achieve would be to boost their own competition.

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iPhone 5 Lightning cables sticking in USB ports

ThomH
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Re: Usual Apple bashing

iPhones outsell Macs by about 7:1. Any notion that they sell exclusively to closed-minded sheltered people who buy nothing but Apple is demonstrably false. It's likely that the vast majority of iPhones are used with computers other than Macs, if they're used with computers at all.

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Apple weekend iPhone 5 sales miss forecasts

ThomH
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Re: analysts BS

It doesn't sound like artificial scarcity because, as a poster noted above, there are several places where it wasn't scarce.

It's also valid to compare the iPhone specifically to the GS3 because Samsung do so in their own advertising. It's only false to draw wider inferences.

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Apple iOS 6 review

ThomH
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If that's true it'll be because Microsoft will supply its OS to anyone that wants to buy it and bundle it onto a phone, exactly like Google. So if WP8 were to start picking up steam then the sales people at Microsoft will be chasing Google's immediate customers, which should manifest itself as a benefit to end customers through market competition and diversity, and lead to WP8 being in a similar price bracket to Android.

Conversely the marketing support for iOS is locked in.

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ThomH
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@cap'n

Apple puts live information into its notification area, not merely new messages. So, for example, the topmost thing by default is a five-day graphical weather forecast, which is updated live.

Apple's notification area also lists new information as per its Android inspiration but it goes further. It's not merely posting notifications for weather, stocks, etc.

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ThomH
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Apple prefers to put the information that it expects people might want into the notification area — so in there you get weather, stocks, a summary of your inbox, your Twitter activity, etc. Third party apps are restricted to posting text summaries but otherwise put whatever you want in there. So it's not that iOS still doesn't have them, it's that Apple has chosen to implement something else instead.

If you look at the history of widgets elsewhere — banished from Windows, ignored in OS X, the related clutter a driving force behind the average user's preference for search engines over web portals — you can sort of understand that position, even if you're part of the large group of people that don't agree with it.

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ThomH
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Re: Based on the bulk of the review,

There are a bunch of new APIs under the cover. None of it is earth shattering and significant parts of it are more to do with offering centralised and properly updated support for things you could have achieved by other means (eg, the Facebook integration, the helping hands for UI state preservation and the new constraints-based layout framework, the latter being no doubt to enable iPhone 5 support) but there's quite a lot there nevertheless.

In the world where Chrome is on version 21, Firefox is on version 15, etc, I don't per se see anything wrong with incrementing the version number just for significant internal changes but I think your main point is correct — if this is of interest to you at all will mainly hinge on what you think of the app updates.

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ThomH
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Re: Only for some though .....

The 3GS version of iOS 6 is an awful experience. Though arguing that you're better off not using it hardly seems to make up for the fact that you don't have a choice.

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Fans rap Apple's 'crap' Map app

ThomH
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Re: Native Google maps (@Spudbynight)

Microsoft got hit with an antitrust suit for using its monopoly position in one market to distort competition in another. Specifically it used its desktop monopoly to kill Netscape.

Apple doesn't have a monopoly position in the phone market. Apple's inclusion of a different mapping app isn't going to kill Google. Indeed Apple's market share in the maps market is going to remain minuscule compared to that of Google Maps.

For the record, Apple argues that the licence with Google ran out. It probably did but something tells me they didn't try very hard to negotiate an extension.

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Zuckerberg loses $8bn in Facebook IPO fiasco

ThomH
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Inflation helps those in debt because it decreases the burden of debt. You can therefore be confident that when governments are in heavy debt, inflation will increase one way or the other.

It's a double win for homeowners — those with the most burdensome debt most people will ever experience — since not only do their wages go up to make their mortgage repayments look smaller but the value of their house goes up so that not only does the bit they already own scale with inflation but they get the benefit of the inflation on the bit they don't own.

In summary: unusual increases in inflation is to redistribute wealth from lenders to borrowers.

So inflation is a short-term pain (wages being a trailing indicator, unlike the price of bread) and becomes a serious problem if it goes on long term (lenders factor it in, debt becomes harder to obtain, the economy slows down) but in the medium term it's good for debtors.

In the US — similarly to most western nations — more than two-thirds of properties are owned by the residents. That means that inflation, if controlled, is a good thing for the majority of people even if it doesn't immediately feel like one.

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HTML5 isn't Facebook's 'biggest mistake'

ThomH
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Objective-C is Java's primary influence (source: http://cs.gmu.edu/~sean/stuff/java-objc.html); while the syntax is reasonably different, switching from the one to the other isn't very tricky because the design patterns are generally very similar.

In six months I'd expect you could hire a Java developer and get him or her to learn Objective-C and write a pretty good iOS app, or vice versa.

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ThomH
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Re: iOS limitations

That feels like an unlikely theory. The new Javascript engine, available only in Safari, arrived in iOS 4.3. The old engine was shared by both Safari and standard web views prior to that, including when Facebook launched. Therefore it launched when there was no difference between in-app and mobile Javascript interpreters; whatever performance people got when browsing the web anywhere on the device was available to Facebook.

El Reg reported the difference as two times, by the way — http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/15/apple_ios_throttles_web_apps_on_home_screen/page2.html — though I guess the difference will likely have grown since then as Apple optimise the one while ignoring the other.

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