* Posts by ThomH

2175 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Ad networks promise to do something about the awful adverts you're all blocking, like, real soon

ThomH

There is a genuine belief amongst advertisers that people love adverts that are sufficiently well-made; and that if the subject of an advert is something the person actually wants then they'll be grateful for having seen it. I'm not sure those claims are universally true.

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Devs ask Microsoft for real .NET universal apps: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

ThomH

Re: Terrible idea @Dan 55

It's a bit of a hassle that Android's C++ support puts you into the realm of the NDK though, especially as that's probably the most used consumer OS by volume. 64-bit ARM is evidence, if it were needed, that there's not the desire to retain binary backwards compatibility that characterised the desktop. Most (all?) of those CPUs can also run 32-bit code as a transitional move but Android is supposed to work independently of the instruction set so if it becomes possible to save some pennies by not doing that, it probably won't last for long.

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ThomH

Libraries like Qt make a lot of sense to us technical people but rarely produce especially native-looking applications. They're therefore a source of friction for users.

Qt specifically also produces developer hassle via its C++ language extensions, which are problematic for many of the more popular IDEs — they'll inhibit highlighting, indexing, etc.

So versus the alternative of writing it once per platform, Qt is often a better solution but not always.

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After Burner: Sega’s jet-fighting, puke-inducing arcade marvel

ThomH

Re: Rose tinted

Think yourself lucky, all we had was the "Totally Awesome!" Codemasters budget equivalent, Mig 29. Which my memory tells me was fun, but I daren't check.

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Drunk driver live-streams her slow journey home

ThomH

Re: I'll give you my steering wheel...

In true NRA fashion I think that the best way to limit drunk driving is to increase the level of drunkenness in total, so that if anyone sees a drunk driver they somehow think they should charge in and get involved.

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BT to shoot 'up to 330Mbps' G.fast into 2,000 Gosforth homes

ThomH

Re: Standard kneejerk response @AC

Rotherhithe Residents Call for Better Internet Speeds: "Never mind the ‘cyber highway’, Rotherhithe is stuck in the cyber slow-lane, after a new study confirmed that it was home to some of the slowest broadband speeds in the capital. [...] As the News reported last June, there is a better broadband connection on the moon than in Rotherhithe"

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ThomH

Re: Copper's last hurrah

Copper definitely won't outlive CISC processors. Then we can have the year of the Linux desktop. While enjoying a good new Sonic the Hedgehog game, if the genuine peril in Doctor Who doesn't keep us awake. Having finally resolved the EU question with a referendum so that everybody from then on is in complete harmony will free up the time necessary to lay the fibre optics.

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ThomH

Standard kneejerk response

Any hope of a reliable 3mbps in the Docklands? Or just more blah blah blah about the difficulties of upgrading historically non-residential wiring?

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Apple borks Apple News ad-blocking app due to 'privacy concerns'

ThomH

Apple explicitly allows apps to provide root certificates. That's the mechanism this app was taking advantage of. The OS segues to an OS-provided set of dialogues requiring the user explicitly to confirm the installation. There's nothing surreptitious, no silent or drive-by install. Which puts Apple on the other side of the debate about what informed users should be allowed to do than it usually sits but no doubt is required by some big corporate user somewhere.

For this app it sounds like they offer a VPN that fishes through everything you request in order to remove advertising. The certificate is then necessary explicitly so that they can be the man-in-the-middle for HTTPS traffic like Google and Facebook.

I think it's not something I'd want on my phone but it sounds like a third party is being punished for Apple's attempts to support business while providing its own brand of consumer protection?

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: Email keyword sniffing? We'd NEVER do that!

ThomH

Nice if true, but most people won't pay for privacy

... at least that seems to be the thesis of today's El Reg BlackBerry article, and sounds compelling to me. I therefore don't think this is much of a sales point, regardless of its motivation. Being very important to you and me doesn't make it the basis on which one sells hundreds of millions of handsets.

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Five things that doomed the big and brilliant BlackBerry 10

ThomH

QNX underpins all of the current-generation Ford consoles; it replaced the relevant Windows CE offshoot last year so was sufficiently good to persuade at least one manufacturer to throw their existing stack away.

I think QNX also already has good reference implementations of Android Auto and Apple's CarPlay, so will probably continue to gain licensees even if the market trends towards allowing the mobile companies to define the product.

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Apple CEO: We've hoovered up your cash faster than ever before

ThomH

But why?

I'm typing this on an iPhone, in my opinion the iPhone is amongst the top tier of devices but: what's the difference between this year and last? Who has been won over that wasn't before?

My pet theories mostly revolve around Apple getting something from Samsung's regression to the mean, the economy being a little better and the slow death in the US of the 24-month contract making some of these not newly acquired customers but merely customers of increased frequency. For all of which I have no direct empirical evidence whatsoever, obviously.

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XcodeGhost attack tapped into dev distaste for Apple's Gatekeeper

ThomH

The problem with App Store submissions is that you cannot "install it [yourself] through the normal user route". You could resign it for local install — which is what you'd do to hand it off to QA — but it's always possible they found some way to detect the difference.

Otherwise I would assume it was a timed thing: probably something very basic like maliciously inserted code checks build date of binary, doesn't do anything if it's within 30 days, possibly there's a REST call "I'm this app ID, this build number, should I do anything?" with a remote database being manually updated only after someone has confirmed the build is in the App Store but I don't know how worried the authors would have been about somebody running through a proxy as part of the QA process (e.g. to make sure that your ordinary calls are occurring sensibly).

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iOS 9 update set to bork 'hundreds of thousands of EU businesses'

ThomH

Re: Not the only app having Bluetooth problems

Same thing with my LifeTrak fitness watch; there's clearly been some sort of regression in the Bluetooth stack somewhere between the OS and a large body of apps — though whether it's because Apple fixed something or broke something I don't know; hopefully the latter because then we can expect a fix from the centre. However you can never rule out the former. Who here has never had a colleague who, rather than reading documentation, just tried to figure things out empirically? And who therefore ended up writing code entirely reliant on non-guaranteed behaviour, which later changed?

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Hats off to Nintendo’s platform supremo Super Mario Bros at 30

ThomH

There's no save in Super Mario 3

Some pedantic ass had to say it. Warp whistles, etc: reward the player's dedication by having them eventually learn how to skip ahead.

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Photoshop for 40 quid: Affinity Photo pushes pixels further than most

ThomH

Re: Let me know when it works on computers. @Arnaut the less

Serif, like the team behind Pixelmator, is based in the UK. I feel like I used to pass an office somewhere in Hampshire; the website says Nottingham now though. So if market research was of the US only then that'll have been as a result of other research.

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Apple: Hey TV people, wanna be in the same place Samsung phones are these days?

ThomH

Re: not setting the bar very high

Hulu just added some great FX content — I finished Fargo (the series) yesterday. What's potentially interesting is the Showtime deal: you can get that content, including new episodes the day after transmission, if you pay an extra subscription. So it's possible they're trying to shift to being a lot more like a traditional cable or satellite service, though presumably without the arbitrary bundling.

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Apple goes to crapple in stock plunge kerfaffle: $113bn wiped off in days

ThomH

Re: Don't Buy, Sell

There was a report within the last few days that the supplier of Apple Watch internals had a low estimate of expected shipments but is surprised not even to have reached the break-even point. Which I think flows into the suspicion that maybe Apple doesn't know what it can do to sustain growth.

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ThomH
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Mac fans! Don't run any old guff from the web: Malware spotted exploiting OS X root bug

ThomH

Is it accurate to describe it as a zero-day exploit?

I almost feel we should be shaming these companies a little more; by now this is at least a minus-fourteen-day exploit.

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Re/code apologizes for Holocaust 'joke' tweet

ThomH

Re: There's plenty of good holocaust jokes

On the contrary, the tasteless school of humour is nowhere near the majority of jokes — there are puns, there's observation humour, there's absurdism and non sequiturs, satire, wit, sarcasm, and probably about a million more.

It's also not something that anywhere near everyone finds funny, as reassuring as that fiction might be to some. If you enjoy it then good for you, but keep some objectivity.

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Time for a brutal TELLY-OFF: Android TV versus Firefox OS

ThomH

Re: Smart TVs must die

I don't know; having Netflix directly inside my TV is effectively the same as having an extra free HDMI socket. Also if the set already has the processing in it — because the off-the-shelf parts you need just to run a modern decoder give you it for free — then why not spend the extra 50p there to add a network connection?

I can answer my own question: because TV manufacturers, like car manufacturers and so many others, are terrible as user interface design and appear to let these efforts be led primarily by the marketing department, whose primary motivation isn't usability but revenue generation. So partner of the month gets the huge button and everyone else is buried three clicks further than they need to be, helpful extra content suggestions (i.e. adverts) proliferate and third-party services are all [re]written to yet another little manufacturer-specific API and tested about a twentieth as much as they would be were there not twenty different manufacturers to work with.

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Your security is just dandy, Apple Pay, but here comes Android

ThomH

Re: Security chip? @Roger B

We call it the Apple Watch because proper nouns are capitalised. Just like Battersea Power Station isn't capitalised because Battersea invented power stations, Tower Bridge isn't capitalised because the Tower invented bridges and the Watford Gap isn't capitalised because Watford invented gaps.

Otherwise, yeah, it seems problematic to me from a security point of view that the watch acquires some sort of trusted status whereby as long as it doesn't realise its been removed and the related phone is within range then it authorises payments without requiring any sort of password or fingerprint. Any sort of special trusted status makes me a little uneasy. But I'm sure the article's cited security experts have factored it in; mine is at best armchair punditry.

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Satoru Iwata, Nintendo chieftain and gamer titan, dies aged 55

ThomH

Re: You do not have much of a point @Bleu

Mobile titles seem to fall into one of two categories nowadays: those that you can't lose, so that the player will stay for a long time and see lots of adverts (ala Farmville) and those that you can't conveniently win, so that the payer will spend lots on micro-transactions (ala Candy Crush Saga). In both cases the game designer has something other than player enjoyment as the main goal.

Iwata, at least from the little I know about him as a very distant observer, really understood what it means for a player to engage with a title, and wanted to invite in as many players as possible. He was probably the best thing that could possibly have happened to video games.

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Did a SUPER RARE Sony-Nintendo PlayStation prototype just pop up online? Possibly, maybe

ThomH

Re: I call fake

Can you elaborate? Probably for most of us this merely sounds like an improbable thing, devoid of strong evidence in either direction.

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Android's sun sets on Eclipse

ThomH

Eclipse is part of what has rendered me so cynical

Nowadays if I see something described as:

• portable;

• highly configurable; and

• based on a plugin architecture.

I immediately think: oh, so it's a  tedious usability mess, doing basically nothing to fit in with <your OS here>?

Thanks, Eclipse.

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Yep, it's true: Android is the poor man's phone worldwide

ThomH

A quick summary of every post that will follow this story

I, the poster, consider it axiomatic that my judgment of the relative quality of Apple's and Google's products is objectively valid.

Ergo the empirically observed correlation between wealth and buying Apple means that <rich people don't optimise their spending/people buy Google only if they must> (delete as applicable).

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Scientists love MacBooks (true) – but what about you?

ThomH

"I really cut my teeth on computer networks in the early 90s. Right around the time Apple went mad ... [a]s such, I've typically dismissed anything an Apple fanperson has to say about computers"

I think this is 90% of the problem when it comes to discussing Apple rationally; the desire to partition certain people into groups and assign to all of them the same credibility as a tiny group had over twenty years ago. As often indulged by everybody, with every point of view.

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Apple brews new News news to peruse - screws news dudes

ThomH

iMovie, Keynote and GarageBand are optional installs

You're thinking of Game Centre, Photo Booth, Videos, FaceTime, Reminders, Podcasts, Tips, iBooks...

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Everything Apple touted at WWDC – step inside our no-hype-zone™

ThomH

Per a roundup elsewhere, you can finally develop and test software on your own iOS device without paying a developer subscription.

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Doom, Mario, Pac-Man level up to video gaming's Hall of Fame

ThomH

The clue is in the text: "Super Mario Bros was noted for its role in resurrecting the video game market in the late 1980s". So this is an explicitly America-centric list and therefore a console-oriented list. Probably correctly for an NYC-based museum (if you politely ignore the 'World' part in the title, of course).

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Crafty fingering could let Apple Watch thieves raid your bank account

ThomH

The scenario is far-fetched

... in that you need to find someone with an Apple Watch that actually uses Apple Pay. The best thing I can think of to say about the latter is that it's proof that Apple users won't use things just because they're told to.

"Eleven per cent of credit card-owning households and 66 per cent of iPhone 6 owners in the US have signed up for Apple Pay, four months after it was launched [...] However, issues like low repeat usage ... are hindrances in its success. [...] 48 per cent of users have paid with Apple Pay just one time" — Mobile World Live

"More than 95 percent of iPhone 6 and 6+ users who could have paid with Apple Pay on Black Friday didn’t [...] Five weeks after the launch of Apple’s revolutionary payment method more than 90 percent of these users hadn’t even given it a try." — Pymnts.com

"It’s no accident that numbers on actual Apple Pay usage are hard to come by. As a percentage of total sales it has to be inconsequential." — Forbes

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That EVIL TEXT that will CRASH your iPhone: We pop the hood

ThomH

Re: Shit happens. Hope they patch soon.

Speculation elsewhere that this is in part because iOS inherits NextStep's UTF-16 internal encoding and inadvertently truncates one of the 32-bit Arabic characters halfway when trying to add an ellipsis where it calculates it needs to chop the text. The effect of the invalid UTF-16 data (yes, it was validated upon receipt, but then it was broken) is an infinite loop in the decoder, which overspills the end of memory, rather than the buffer ever having been mapped at zero.

Apple doesn't put user-space memory at 0x00 since neither C nor Objective-C has a formalised syntax for optional returns so 0x00 is used for return nil/NULL.

See also: Should UTF-16 be considered harmful? on programmers.stackexchange.com, though I expect most around here won't need to.

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Windows and OS X are malware, claims Richard Stallman

ThomH

Re: OS X & iOS Really?

Yeah, as someone who isn't particularly ideological my conclusion is this: on a Mac I can run OS X, X11 and Windows programs together on the same desktop. So I can use basically everything.

It'd therefore be interesting to know how specifically he's had to define 'shackled' to reach his conclusion.

I am aware of many negative effects of buying Apple; I don't think this is one of them.

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Oxford chaps solve problem in 1982 Sinclair Spectrum manual

ThomH

Re: Started a computer revolution?!

I've always assumed that the one-key keyword entry was to save them from having to include a tokeniser, whether due to ROM space or development time.

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ZX Spectrum 'Hobbit' revival sparks developer dispute

ThomH

Re: Extra graphical capabilities of the spectrum 128 ? @Lee D

Some of the 128s also allowed the video area to be paged, but I think only the Amstrad ones. That would technically buy you enhanced video capabilities because you could do a hardware double buffer.

In this project, being a text adventure, I guess they could have done a lot better and stored per-line attributes, locking the CPU into just pushing those as the video beam progresses before dealing with keyboard input in the retrace area. Like the ZX81 in slow mode, essentially, but with attributes. But then you're increasing the per-screen storage and probably having to do quite a bit more fundamental of a patch job.

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Apple announces 'Home' iOS 9 app to run the Internet of Stuff

ThomH

"Apple announces 'Home' iOS 9 app to run the Internet of Stuff"

... in the sense that one of the rumour sites published a story that Apple might announce a 'Home' iOS 9 app next month.

So Apple definitely hasn't announced a 'Home' app and may well never do so.

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Microsoft celebrates 25 years' SOLITARY SELF-PLEASURE with GROUP SESSION

ThomH

Re: Not exactly aces up Microsoft's sleeve @0765794e08

I'm fairly sure QBasic was supplied with all consumer versions of Windows until they switched to the NT kernel with XP. So that's only fourteen years ago.

It's absence is reasonably troubling, but not as bad as being chased by two simultaneous instances of the bird from the cage, at the same time as facing double ostriches. Or, worse, having to play the ZX Spectrum version with the messed-up physics.

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Dying to make time lapse videos? No? Well, Microsoft is doing it anyway!

ThomH

Yeah, it was doing a partial 3d reconstruction of the scene and smoothing camera motion through that, wasn't it? I guess optical image stabilisation isn't always sufficient for the sort of variation you see between shots a few seconds apart, especially over a prolonged period. So the trick is to impute the extra information from all the frames between, through scene reconstruction.

But I also saw the video only once, a long time ago, so who knows?

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That DRM support in Firefox you never asked for? It's here

ThomH

"Hello Mr. Consumer, if you are willing to use a browser with the DRM extension then we are willing to sell you access our video collection for $8/month". Seems like an acceptable deal to me.

The main problem with DRM for me is that it makes content unusable outside of a dictated scope. So 'ownership' is fleeting, ending once you exit the relevant walled garden.

With rented content I don't care that ownership is fleeting. That's pretty much the point.

On the innovation argument — that locking away data obstructs new ways of working with it — shifting DRM from plug-ins to an extension lowers the barrier. The proprietary bit is smaller than it was.

So I support this move.

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Amstrad founder Lord Sugar quits 'anti-enterprise' Labour party

ThomH

Re: Ha.... @AC

Fact check!

The deficit during the Thatcher years was never greater than £12.2bn. The surplus peaked at £4.2bn. The 92/93 recession took that to almost £51bn. By the time Labour took office the Conservatives had reduced it to less than £30bn.

Labour famously promised to stick to the Conservatives' spending plans for their first two years in office and ended those with a £0.7bn surplus. That continued to grow and peaked at a £16.7bn surplus, before going the other way and turning into a £42.6bn deficit in 2005. The deficit was then reducing, down to £32.2bn in 2006, when the financial crisis hit.

Labour left office with a £156.3bn deficit. More than triple the 1993 deficit.

The deficit has reduced but for the 2013 fiscal year it was still £107.7bn. I'm unable to get numbers for what proportion of that is debt repayment (i.e. unambiguously inherited).

Compared to our major trading partners: the overall shape of the graph is basically identical to that of the US, and both are better than those for France (which doesn't seem to have run a surplus since the '70s, before the current relevant minister had been born). Italy also remains in deficit but — even proportionally to GDP — much less so. Though it seems to have growing debt so that may change as and when loans mature.

Germany seems to have returned to surplus in 2012, but that was the first in 45 years. Last year its surplus was the equivalent of around £13bn.

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ThomH

Re: Ha.... @AC

Yeah, it's not so much that Miliband and Balls were anti-business so much as just seemingly not particularly interested in it. The mansion tax and the 50p tax rate would have been bad for the rich but it feels to me like the two are separate issues; business topics should be promoting entrepreneurship, the inevitable "cutting red tape", transport and financial infrastructure, skills-based training, etc.

I guess stuff like the guaranteed jobs for unemployed young people started to sound a little too much like a state takeover of private business.

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ThomH

Re: Ha....

I don't know; seat totals aside Labour obtained a +1.4% swing over 2010. So if he wanted to stick it out then he'd have had a pretext. I imagine he stayed in not just to avoid becoming a story during the election (no doubt not just altruistically) but because had Labour returned to office then he could have done more inside than out.

That said, I don't see the benefit of walking away now and not just doing it quietly in a couple of years, unless he thinks that the slender majority means parliament may not go the full term and he could end up still being a party member for the next cycle.

But, yeah, you're probably right. Though if I were him I'd at least have waited to find out who the next leader is going to be.

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So what would the economic effect of leaving the EU be?

ThomH

Re: Harry @h4rm0ny

I've no independent knowledge; is Survation believed to be ideologically biased or merely highly adaptable based on paymaster?

Having reviewed my Survation source, it's actually heavily outdated. The story I found that linked to the poll was more recent than the YouGov figures but the poll itself is three years old. So I suggest it's not relevant on that factor alone.

The YouGov poll I was thinking of is from February and besides the headline figures shows quite a bit of volatility. So I think it's far from a foregone conclusion but wanted to make the point that: it's far from a foregone conclusion.

i.e. I think it's worth repeating that the idea that a majority of people definitely want out but that our national politicians are the obstacle has no compelling evidential basis.

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ThomH

Re: Harry

Re: the population being "fooled" into agreeing; the latest YouGov polling shows 45% would vote to stay in the EH and only 35% would vote to exit, and this is with only UKIP having done any substantial campaigning on the topic. A Survation poll has results just the other way: 51% for exit, 49% against but found most to be generally ignorant on the EU.

The UKIP fantasy that a majority wants exit doesn't seem to be evidenced by the polling; there's a lot of educating to do and shifts either way will probably be the result of that. Not of people who don't share your world view — or with mine — all being "fooled".

UKIP is never going to get what it wants because Scotland is 2:1 in favour of the EU so the UK probably wouldn't survive an exit.

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Inside the guts of Nano Server, Microsoft's tiny new Cloud OS

ThomH

"Nano Server's disk footprint today is just 400MB, Snover said, and it probably won't ever get much larger."

So you could make a 512mb USB flash drive of this — physical cost about £1 — and that'll apparently remain possible for all time. Definitely not a foolish prediction.

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Microsoft: Profit DECIMATED because you people aren't buying PCs

ThomH

The OED states that decimate can mean simply "[t]o destroy or remove a large proportion of; to subject to severe loss, slaughter, or mortality"; the pedants that complain about decimate when used not to mean 10% seem to have invented the cause of their distress in their own minds.

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Apple Watch: Exactly how many vids does it take to teach a fanboi to tell the time?

ThomH

Re: Look like Tag Heuer

I fear we'll be back in the iTunes land, of: you know that song, the one you already own and didn't buy from Apple? Sure, you can use it as a ringtone, for the low low price of 79p.

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Pre-order consumergasm will leave Apple Watches out of stock for months

ThomH

Re: I suppose @eSeM

Battery life is dreadful across the entire range of smartwatches. As is usefulness...

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ThomH

I had a sports watch that needed charging every four days so I say this with certainty that I mean it: a huge battery life improvement is what would be required for me even to consider a smart watch. Probably of several weeks. I don't need one more thing to think about, one more cable to take on holiday, etc, for such a fringe usage device.

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