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* Posts by ThomH

1749 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Samsung Galaxy Nexus Android smartphone

ThomH
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@Giles Jones (cf: @Arctic Fox, @fandom)

The world isn't actually divided into one group of people that say only positive things about Google and negative things about Apple and another that do only the opposite. So trying to suggest that because you heard people complain about the fixed storage size of the iPhone and now you're hearing people say it's really not a problem concerning an Android then anyone who isn't critical of Android must be a hypocrite is unsupportable. All it means is that some people think fixed storage is a problem and some people don't.

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ThomH
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Don't mention the other company!

Though, seriously, I don't think the 16gb limit is much of a problem — if anything it's a win for the consumer if it removes the distinction between internal and removable storage, making app management that little bit easier. I'll bet that most people don't use their phones for watching video that they've stored locally and 16gb is more than sufficient for a decent amount of music and photos with enough spare to take a few photos and videos while out and about.

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How Apple beat IBM in Steve Jobs' first retail war

ThomH
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@Simon Noble

It's revisionist to factor Commodore into the same market as IBM and Apple, and in any case Commodore isn't relevant to the story presented.

The article is entitled "How Apple beat IBM in Steve Jobs' first retail war". It's a story about Apple versus IBM. It's framed like that because the two big beasts in the business computing market at the time were IBM and Apple. You have to rewrite history to pretend that the home and business markets were joined in 1984 — that wouldn't happen until the death of the proprietary home computers in the late 80s and early 90s.

The article is also written from the point of view of a computer specialist retailer. Apple dominated computer retail profits, the Apple II being the first computer to produce over $1bn in revenue in a year. The home suppliers, like Commodore in the US, piled them high and sold them cheap through general retailers like Sears. They didn't invest much in their sales presence in terms of aisle ends or literature since those costs would have to be passed on, which makes them even further irrelevant to this specific story.

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Need for Speed: The Run

ThomH
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You have more patience than I do

I switched off at Need for Speed 3. The first had a really impressive feel, with weight to the physics and a tangible sustained tension. I guess the tie-up with US magazine Car & Driver and the 3DO demographics made them aim for a mature audience.

The sequel was more of the same, probably even the same code base, but by the third they seem to have decided to go mass market. It's all tunnels through lava-filled mountains and Ridge Racer-style handling.

It's almost impossible to believe now but the only subsequent title I can think of that comes close to the first Need For Speed for tension is the original BurnOut, which thrived on 20-minute races through panoramic vistas and despite including the nonsense of a boost bar had things set up so that you pretty much never get to use it. The ten-metre visibility and desire to throw 'awesome' graphics effects at the camera don't turn up until later.

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Fragged, fragged and thrice fragged! 20 years of id Software’s Doom

ThomH
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@AdamWill

Technically it was prototyped on NeXT machines. They got it all written once then rewrote the hard stuff in x86 assembler.

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ThomH
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Then maybe even a flag waver for open source?

In that most of the weirder ports are a result of the source code release in 1997. Though it made it to pretty much every console from the SNES onwards through standard commercial channels.

Of those I've played: the PlayStation, Jaguar and Gameboy Advance versions are very good, the Saturn version is passable, the 32X and 3DO versions are pretty bad and the politest thing I can think of to say about the SNES port is that it's a technical achievement.

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ThomH
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The PC coming into its own

I guess we must have bought our first PC somewhere around 1992 and prior to seeing Doom I don't recall anything being obviously much better than what we'd had on the ZX Spectrum that preceded it, other than loading quickly and being more capable with colours. And although it's not particularly subtle, I still think it plays better than most other games.

Quite a lot of my professional life has ended up focussed on computer graphics and, more recently, computer vision. The sudden leap forwards of Doom is the reason.

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Apple MacBook Pro 13in Core i5 laptop

ThomH
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Not a very persuasive argument

"It performs worse with Windows, this is probably a driver issue, therefore Apple did it on purpose because they hate me and have no respect for the marketplace"

Does the same conspiracy logic apply to every supplier that produces flawed driver software? It's just that the evidence of iTunes and of Apple's direction generally would appear to make it much more likely that they're just not very good at producing code for Windows.

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Amazon's Android-friendly Kindle Fire splutters

ThomH
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In what sense has the iPhone steadily ceded ground?

iPhone sales volumes have monotonically increased since its introduction. Android sales volumes have also monotonically increased, but much more quickly. Android has something like two and a half times as much share of the current smartphone market but, in terms of sales volume, not at the expense of the iPhone. I expect the same story to repeat in the tablet world, but probably with the Kindle Fire doing the work of all the Android mobiles added together.

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

ThomH
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Most of those 'many people' are wrong

If Apple won brand loyalty only through advertising and PR and if advertising and PR were sufficient in and of themselves then the Mac wouldn't be stuck at 5% marketshare worldwide, and if the difference were just consumers versus businesses then you'd expect the Mac to be a hot target for the consumer-focussed sectors of the market. However, things like games usually don't get ported and, if they do, turn up months after the marketplace buzz about the product has long since subsided.

In summary: there's clearly some other distinction between Apple's mobiles and tablets versus the competition than merely the brand name and the advertising as both of those distinctions also apple to the computers but the former manage to rack up commanding market shares whereas the latter don't.

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Does tech suffer blurred vision on 3D future?

ThomH
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A story of greed and optimism?

Most 3d movies are shot in 2d and post processed into 3d, which gives the cardboard cut-out effect that people either assume to be a limitation of the technology or figure must mean that they're in whatever percentage it is that the 3d effect doesn't work on. When the benefits of the technology are so underwhelming there's no point making a special effort for it — such as paying more to sit through a darker film while wearing oversize cheap plastic glasses or extending an effort to get it into their own home.

In addition, the majority of television watching is people putting it on in the background while they do something more interesting. About a third of most programme time is advertisements and television programmes are competently aimed at the lowest common denominator, and nowadays there's usually a laptop or a tablet nearby. So even if you have the TV on for several hours, showing programmes you enjoy, it's probably still not the main thing you're doing with your eyes.

The idea that if they all told us we really wanted 3d then obviously we'd buy it was ridiculously optimistic.

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Five... great network games for iOS

ThomH
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@AC

Actually, the Android version has about one seventh the texture detail. Either that or I'm trying to make some point about pulling random numbers out of thin air.

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ThomH
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Or, for those of us without irrational prejudices...

... Shadowgun is identical between Android and iOS.

From a personal point of view, it's also shallow and boring. It's one for the self-proclaimed "real gamers" mainly.

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Reg man the most-flamed recruiter in the UK?

ThomH
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In retrospect

Maybe posting an article that states that anyone reading it is either illiterate or stupid was the main source of offence?

Either that or it was an excellent idea for the amusing feedback.

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Google serves up Ice Cream Sandwich code

ThomH
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Great news, but perhaps the timing isn't brilliant?

Some stories have previously linked Google's hoarding of the tablet versions of Android to a spat with Amazon, Amazon having decided to ship a tablet that takes advantage of Google's software engineering without connecting to any of Google's services, substituting Amazon services and branding, and also being the first high profile company to try to obtain a serious foothold in Android app provision (ie, so as to displace Google).

Google have released this code exactly on the Kindle Fire's launch day. It's a fantastic gift for anybody that wants to believe in an Amazon/Google spat.

Of course, it's also a fantastic gift for anyone that likes open software. So kudos to Google.

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Harry Potter director takes on Doctor Who movie

ThomH
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Have you considered opening a Dr Who desk?

This seems to be your third Who story in a week or so. Kudos.

Like many above, Hugh Laurie would be my default choice, especially as I think there was pretty serious talk of House ending at the end of this year, making him available. Otherwise, maybe Ben Whishaw? He seems to be pretty good at just about everything. If they could get Eccleston back, even to play the character in a completely different way, I'd be very happy indeed.

I can't think of any Americans that are suitable for the part, though I think that may just be that modern American film writing doesn't allow for a hero that's also the smartest person in the room. That'd be too elitist, right?

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Apple's cloud music service 'WIPES your iPHONE'

ThomH
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It's not dependant on cloud services

The [flawed, tedious] process is:

(1) pay Apple $24.99

(2) get iTunes to identify all of your music to the cloud

(3) wipe your iPod/iPhone

(4) download such of your music as you want from the cloud; download the rest at any other time, wipe your original copies of the music if you really want, they'll still be available from the cloud

There's no need for ongoing connectivity to listen to your music. However, if you have any serious amount of music then it sounds like it's going to take absolutely hours to move to iTunes Match and serious impact your bandwidth and whatever data caps you may have.

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Eleven - if you will - rocktastic music movies

ThomH
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@Marvin

Per wikipedia, it's "a rock musical about a fictional rock and roll band". Similarly, IMDB describe it as being the story of a "transexual punk rock girl from East Berlin [who] tours the US with her rock band".

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ThomH
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And, you know, if Jack Black's on the list...

... then being funny isn't a requirement. Since he appears twice, you could even argue that being unapologetically unfunny was an advantage.

I vote for Tommy. Killing Bono was also as good as some of the films already on the list. But I guess Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an acquired taste?

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Happy 40th birthday, Intel 4004!

ThomH
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The 6502's not so bad

You've just got to think of it as a load/store architecture, with the zero page acting like the register bank in other machines and accesses everywhere else being expensive. You end up doing most of your business logic with the two-or-three cycle instructions acting on the zero page and occasionally wander into the elaborate four-upward cycle instructions to fetch tabular data. Oh, and I guess you have to get used to the slightly weird one's complement subtraction but it ends up just being a carry inversion since all arithmetic is with carry.

I prefer the Z80 but I think that's just because I know them only through the home computers and the popular 6502s always had to confuse the issue on video circuitry, the 6502's relatively poor random memory access speeds seemingly making people want to back away from just giving it a framebuffer in a sensible order.

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Computers are so middle class – Mark E Smith

ThomH
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In summary...

They put electrodes in your brain, and you're never the same.

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Kindle Fire ignites blazing developer interest

ThomH
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To add slightly to Joe Earl's comments

Amazon's App store, and an app to access it if you want, can be installed on any Android handset unless the network has specifically taken steps to prevent it. I wasn't able to use it on a prepaid AT&T SIM but I think the 'prepaid' (ie, pay-as-you-go in American) bit was probably determinative.

The store itself is actually very good. It's curated, like Apple's, but only to ensure that apps match the functionality that they're advertised with and don't otherwise attempt to do damaging things. Developers pay for access and nominate a list price, with Amazon then acting in much the same way as they do with books. So they can use your app as a loss leader if they want but you're still getting the list price. Which gives them a great lever for attracting customers and organising the thing generally.

If you're in the US you can also preview the apps directly in your desktop web browser, via an Android emulator, which is really quite fantastic.

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ThomH
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Because they're betting on the future?

Nokia have a market capitalisation of $25bn and are betting the house on Windows Phone 7. Subjectively speaking — and nobody can be more surprised about this than I was — it's a really nice user experience and very easy to get on board with the narrative that it's just not had a fair shot at the big time. Microsoft's royalty gathering from Android licensees has eroded WP7's cost disadvantage. Google's sudden transition to a closed source model will be a concern to Samsung and HTC, since it somewhat focusses the mind on the single component supplier problem.

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New claim: iPhone 5 was a goer until Jobs bottled it

ThomH
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If so then he did the right thing

The difference between 3.5" and 4" is so little that I don't think it's worth the fragmentation — at least when you're the only actor making the devices. I can understand the push to bigger in the Android world because the market is much more competitive and bigger numbers look better but I honestly don't think whatever competitive edge Apple have in the market as a whole is very closely connected to the screen size.

In any case, anything with worse battery life than current smartphones (including but not limited to the iPhone) would be pretty much unusable.

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Adobe's future is controlling what you watch, not delivering it

ThomH
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The article is slightly misleading

If you go to YouTube, 4OD content won't appear because of the lack of DRM on delivery. That's in contrast to devices with Flash and explains the niche that the author argues Adobe are now pursuing.

However, you can watch as much 4OD content as you like on your iOS device through the 4OD app.

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Eurozone crisis: We're all dooomed! Here's why

ThomH
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Per some of the sources, it was simply a side effect of the decade long Blair v Brown spat. Brown found a lever over a crucial national policy that was unambiguously Chancellor stuff and dedicated himself to being contrary. Meanwhile the public position became entrenched of its own accord.

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ThomH
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I'm not sure that's fair

UKIP may say some very peculiar and some outright offensive things but I think the majority of UKIP's voters don't spot that stuff and are primarily interested in smaller government by whatever means. Most people don't read manifestos, they just vote on the general message and the general message that UKIP are perceived to push is "let's remove a tier of government and a source of bureaucracy". The BNP are who you vote for if you're looking for fascism.

Since the article's author was good enough to state his bias, I'll state mine: I would never, ever vote UKIP as I think their policies are reactionary, often absurd and sometimes racist, and that they would be detrimental to the country as a whole.

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Amazon's Kindle Fire burns iPad momentum

ThomH
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It's not going to win the developers though

Barnes and Noble operate in the US only. Amazon operate worldwide, making it a reasonable bet that at some point the Kindle Fire will become available worldwide. Even for those developers that are willing to import hardware, the sales figures alone are likely to become a compelling reason to put greater effort into making your app run well on the Kindle than on the Nook.

That's even before considering how far Amazon's fork of Android may end up straying from Barnes and Noble's.

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Smartphones rocket past consoles for mobile game sales

ThomH
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Figures seem to be about total sales revenues though

So a 99p game needs to outsell a £30 game by more than 30 times in order to swing the cited statistics in its favour.

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Lemmings

ThomH
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If we're playing that game

The Atari Lynx port is fantastic and runs in just 160x102.

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ThomH
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An apocryphal story, maybe?

A story you sometimes here is that the development of Windows 3.1 was delayed when all the programmers became addicted to the Archimedes version of Lemmings on a machine they'd imported.

As I'm unable to find any sort of source for it beyond other people that think they've heard it too, It's probably not a true story.

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ThomH
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But sadly...

... Lemmings and Prince of Persia almost alone aren't enough to sustain a machine, no matter how cute its little feet.

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Apple: No Siri for old iPhone owners. Well, not from us

ThomH
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My knee-jerk response...

... was to make some sort of joke about already having 100% of the utility of Siri on not only my iPhone 4 but on every single object I own, including hawks, horses, robes, etc.

That said, Siri isn't voice recognition. It's artificial intelligence with a voice recognition interface, just like Safari isn't a touch screen but rather a browser with a touch screen interface. Bog standard command-driven voice recognition is a long-standing feature of the iPhone, like it is of every other major platform.

I think the popular confusion shows just how interested anybody really is in voice recognition, especially on a device they primarily use in front of people, in noisy environments. Even if it could recognise and understand everything I said perfectly, I've no interest in announcing every single thing I email or look up to everybody nearby. Besides anything else I'm sure they'd prefer not to have to listen if given the choice.

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Adobe confirms mobile Flash Player's race is run

ThomH
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It's about browser adoption, probably

Mobile phones have a fast turnover rate and you can be pretty confident people are using something close to the latest browser. Flash has also failed to gain any momentum for mobile sites owing to the quality and availability of the plug-in.

Conversely, Internet Explorer's older and extremely non-compliant versions have held the rate of development on the desktop back and will continue to account for a significant proportion of users.

You also tend to see mobile sites and desktop sites developed almost separately anyway, owing to the big difference between how they'll be consumed. Plus the disparity whereby mobile users seem to like dedicated apps (per the AIR route) but desktop types are much happier doing everything in the browser. The history of non-existent or extremely lax sandboxing on the desktop combined with certain OSs that entrust all uninstallation tasks to the software being installed probably contributes.

So, yes, the world would be better with HTML5 everywhere but as a web developer you're cutting off a significant chunk of your audience if you assume it right now. I imagine Adobe will wind down desktop Flash eventually but don't feel that the time is right.

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Google's legal boss is fed up with patent warfare

ThomH
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I'm both...

...a qualified lawyer and a software engineer, and I largely agree. Patents are granted monopolies and, statistically speaking, monopolies correlate with periods of stagnation. Furthermore most patents are written in appalling legalese and a lot of tech patents from the relevant period appear to have been granted improperly. We are seeing serious distractions as a result.

There's insufficient evidence to indict either a majority of lawyers or a majority of patents, but plenty that significant errors have been made and are proving very expensive for the industry.

Serious reform is needed - the risk of lazy patent officers needs to be counterbalanced by an extremely cheap or free way of invalidating patents, by anyone. The way to solve this problem is to enable organisations analogous to the EFF that goes after problem patents. It even feels like something you could get politicians on board with.

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The Great Smartphone OS Shoot-out

ThomH
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Same here

Indeed, it's probably smart for owners of all types of phone to connect via Google Sync's Exchange route rather than IMAP since it gets you push email.

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Crime-fighting Seattle superhero unmasked, fired

ThomH
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You're looking at it the wrong way around. This guy allegedly assaulted several innocent people.

I appreciate what you're saying: that because his only motivation was to help, the cumulative total of his positive effects should be weighed against the cumulative total of his negative effects. Or, in short, he made a simple honest mistake — he acted without malice so he isn't morally culpable.

I don't go along with that because I don't think it's a sustainable piece of logic. Assuming he did the alleged act, he intended to perform an assault and he performed an assault. So he performed a crime because he thought it was of social benefit.

So you're endorsing individuals deciding that they have earned the moral right for the law not to apply to them.

I see no distinction between him and, say, someone who (genuinely, not just as a lazy excuse) justifies benefit fraud on the basis that they deserve to get something back because the government bailed out the banks and they've supported themselves and paid appropriate taxes for the twenty preceding years.

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ThomH
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@Chad H

It's clear from the earlier reporting that he wasn't beating up criminals, just random people that he thought looked a bit threatening.

I'm also for keeping anyone that thinks they have the absolute right to decide who is and who isn't a criminal away from children. He's a poster-boy for the David Blunkett school of Daily Mail appeasement essentially; forget habeas corpus, innocent until proven guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, etc, let's just empower some guys to do whatever they want.

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Nokia CEO talks up Windows 8 tablet 'opportunity'

ThomH
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OS X Lion isn't so bad

You know, unless you actually like knowing where you are in a document. Though people can finally stop complaining that there's no 'maximise' button, especially as Apple ramp up the 13" laptop production.

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EU to quiz Apple and Samsung on Frand deals

ThomH
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I don't think so

If it's an anti-competition probe it'll be looking at whether Samsung have agreed to licence these things under FRAND terms and then either declined to do so or else put up unfair barriers. So the decision will either be that Samsung did something wrong or that they didn't — this investigation sounds like it doesn't have the ability to find against Apple, and a finding that Samsung didn't act anti-competitively doesn't necessarily mean the court considering patents and the like will find against Apple.

In summary: I think it's just a precautionary thing. Someone in the office read that there's some dispute over whether Samsung are playing by the FRAND rules and thought they'd better ask for some additional facts.

I doubt this will go anywhere much.

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Duke Nukem Forever dev slams unfair reviews

ThomH
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Sadly it was profitable

Sales were very disappointing but it still managed to make a profit for the publishers, Take-Two Interactive, per their earnings call. So I guess they'd fund a sequel since it couldn't possibly cost as much to make as this one must have.

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Apple iOS 5's hidden 3D revealed

ThomH
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It's more likely to be about control

Apple are big supporters of WebGL but the technology is hard to get right from a security point of view as per the comments of Microsoft. iAd content is HTML based but Apple get to vet it before sending it out. So enabling WebGL only for iAds gives them an opportunity to test their implementation in a controlled fashion.

I think it's safe to assume the measure is temporary, as per the faster Javascript engine that was rolled out across the OS only in small steps a few versions back.

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Fixing Android mobes costs telcos millions

ThomH
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So what would be expected?

Surely people buying handsets and finding them not to be equivalent to other handsets from the same manufacturer is par for the course and if Android's percentages are higher than those of Apple and RIM it's just because Android handsets are cheaper or free and therefore more likely to end in the hands of people who aren't really paying attention? That's not a derogatory comment about the handsets or the users, it's just that anybody is going to pay more attention if you get to the end of signing up for a new contract and the salesperson suddenly wants to take £150 from you.

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Steve Jobs named most influential game guy – ever

ThomH
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Good call!

Even now just look at all the post-Geometry Wars stuff; if that isn't a riff on the Tempest 2000 aesthetic then I don't know what is.

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ThomH
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@Hud

The Mac actually wasn't bad for games in 1991. It tended to get ports of a reasonable number of the PC hits but scaled up to work at then-high resolutions (as in, 640x480 sort of stuff rather than 320x200) and not always lazily. So it was like skipping ahead to SVGA. Compare and contrast the Mac and PC versions of Prince of Persia, Chuck Yeager's Air Combat, Wolfenstein 3d, etc.

That said, even then you usually got games late or not at all. And the window during which the Mac was technologically ahead for games was incredibly brief.

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ThomH
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Jobs isn't the only odd choice

The list seems generally to be misguided — cutting Jobs alone wouldn't redeem it. I'd keep Newell and Miyamoto but I'm not willing to give them much credit for getting two good choices onto a list of five.

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Another reason to jail-break your iPhone 4: You can get Siri

ThomH
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Not really dodgy action

Apple paid some money to acquire the rights to a product. As part of that the previous owners agreed to surrender their right to sell it. Apple then decided to charge the consumer for the product.

Google have pretty much killed any realistic prospect for competition law challenges to Apple, just as Microsoft did in the PC realm — the actionable offence is abuse of a monopoly position, i.e. taking advantage of your standing so as to manipulate the market. It's a protection for consumers, not for other companies. Because Google have a much larger share of the relevant market (I think it was 50% versus 21% worldwide during September), Apple's actions aren't sufficiently damaging for the market as a whole.

Personally I find it really difficult to be upset either way given that the product is rubbish. I think of it like one of those Ask Jeeves-style question-based search engines. In the 80s the idea may have sounded really attractive but the simple fact is that we're more efficient at just using a keyboard and typing our search terms in a Google-friendly way than at formulating a proper question, especially when keeping the sentence structure suitably simple and trying to focus on annunciation.

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Stallman: Did I say Jobs was evil? I meant really evil

ThomH
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@Bullseyed

That's such a trivial straw man argument that I have to wonder about your motives in citing it.

I argued that Jobs' actions were predicated on his belief that he was creating better products as a result.

You use the word 'con' which imports an idea of deception, i.e. you state that my argument is that Jobs was consciously trying to trick people into buying worse hardware.

The conclusion that you've deliberately misstated me is impossible to avoid and it's difficult to believe that the upvotes you've received come from anyone objective.

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ThomH
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I don't agree

On the basis that his micromanagement seems to have stemmed from a genuine personal belief that end-to-end control makes better products rather than a lust for profits, I don't agree that Jobs was evil. That's even though I accept that the walled garden locks consumers in and that monopolies are very bad for the consumer. And I'm not arguing that he was necessarily right, merely that his motivations don't justify 'evil'.

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As iPhone 4S battery suckage spreads, fixes appear

ThomH
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@Steve Evans

One of the handsets I've tried in the last year or so (having a professional interest) was the Nokia N8. The GPS was possibly a little slow but the battery life was excellent and I don't recall having a problem with any of the other hardware features. So I essentially disagree with you on the suggestion that Nokia's rudderless drifting had led to a general deterioration in hardware quality. But then again I never used an N97.

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