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* Posts by ThomH

1832 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

'Apple is not going to change,' new boss says

ThomH
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News just in...

"Man who wants to make Apple sound uninventive only able to supply short list of Apple inventions"

I think Apple are more innovative than the market average but so are several others. In that list I'd include some of their direct competitors, such as Google and Microsoft.

If I had to think of a quality that makes Apple unique I'd be much more likely to pick uncompromising. I think that's the quality that makes their products either brilliant or worthless, depending on which side of the debate you're on.

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Samsung's iOS rival gets multitasking and HTML5

ThomH
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The SDK is awful though

For those that haven't experienced it, it's Eclipse based but available for Windows only, everything is done in C++ using vendor-specific memory management rules, an an odd proprietary alternative to STL (so you're supposed to use Samsung's custom classes for strings, arrays, hash maps, etc) and some weird usage conventions, such as two-stage constructors (ie, you're not meant to use the normal C++ constructor to do any construction, because someone at Samsung has decreed that exceptions are too costly to the processor).

The backstory, that Bada was designed and used purely internally for phones from 2004 onward, then opened up as best as it could be, is very credible.

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Apple wins (another) Samsung Android injunction in EU

ThomH
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@AC: check the article

"A Dutch court has warmed the hearts of Apple's patent Nazis, issuing a preliminary injunction against the sale of three Samsung Android phones"

This is a preliminary decision, just like that in the Galaxy Tab case. So the decisions made here are preliminary, exactly as in the Galaxy Tab case.

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ThomH
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@EyeCU: overstating your case

I think that in any argument like this, the concept of an invention becomes so debatable that you end up thinking nobody invented anything at any point.

For example, it's fact that Apple designed the Firewire port. But that's clearly just a development of the SCSI line of thought. Though on the other side, USB conceptually looks a lot like ADB, so should we award Apple credit for that?

How about the canvas tag? OpenCL? Pull-down menus? The modern laptop form? The Clang compiler front end? The scroll wheel?

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ThomH
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I disagree, but only slightly

If Apple were innovative, they would worry about things like this because patents exist to allow people who innovate to realise the benefit of their new methods, ideas or products.

The issues here are more whether the type of ideas in this particular case should be ownable and, if so, whether Apple owns them.

I end up being a moderate. The iPad's look shouldn't be a protectable form factor. Similarly, rounded icons are not some attempt at passing off. But some of the concepts that FingerWorks spent real money and time developing should be protectable (by Apple now by way of purchase) in a suitably constrained short term that I accept may already have passed.

Quickest way to spot a troll: look for anyone asserting simultaneously that Apple shouldn't have the patents because they've "stolen" all their ideas and Samsung should be in the clear because they haven't "stolen" anything.

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ThomH
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@AC: not quite that simple

It's pretty much a matter of record that Android's general format was heavily inspired by iOS, comparing the handsets demoed and photographed before the iPhone was announced and those afterwards.

That said, Google's position has almost always one contrary to restrictions on intellectual property so the fact that you can draw a line from the iPhone to Android for some features isn't an issue. There's no "well what about Google?" line to be taken here. I think the poster's point is that it is hypocritical for Apple simultaneously to borrow ideas from the competition and to try legally to block the competition from borrowing anything in return. Conversely it is not hypocritical for Google to borrow ideas from the competition and then not to kick up a fuss if ideas are borrowed back.

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ThomH
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They weren't thrown out

This is an interim judgment; the full case still has to be decided on the merits, so all of Apple's original claims are still part of the suit and will still be argued in front of the court.

To put it another way: the court hasn't told Apple that they're wrong, just that they're not sufficiently obviously right and that they'll return to the topic in the future.

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Steve Jobs resigns as Apple CEO

ThomH
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But he was forced out last time

So, last time, someone was determined to do something quite distinct from Jobs' ideas. This time I'd expect the company to try to continue to pursue exactly what Steve would have pursued.

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Just how will Apple restrict device-ID snooping in iOS 5?

ThomH
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Slightly better than that

Screenshots on other rumour sites indicate that Apple's suggested replacement is to generate a UUID (aka a GUID or IID) and store that in the user defaults (Apple's anachronistically named store of user preferences, on account of their main purpose in NextStep being to specify the default parameters of new documents).

User defaults are synchronised across devices, so a developer gets to track a single ownership of their application across multiple devices.

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ThomH
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Each iPhone will still have a UDID, too

It's just that, like the ESN is now, at some point it won't be accessible to applications. So it can't be used for tracking. So that's a privacy advancement.

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Nervous Samsung seeks Android Plan F. Or G, H ....

ThomH
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Absolutely, with caveats

It's a preliminary / temporary injunction, awarded in Germany and prima facie restrained Samsung from sale everywhere in the EU apart from the Netherlands but questions of jurisdiction have led to it being enforceable only in Germany at least until the next court date.

I haven't read the judgment myself and have seen an incredible stream of inaccurate reporting — the one that most sticks in the memory being a blog that wondered why a Dusseldorf court would think it can rule for the entire EU when Germany doesn't even currently hold the EU presidency — but I think the issue of contention is that while most of the EU has signed up for various unified intellectual property measures that would allow a final judgment to be enforced via local courts, nobody's sure where that leaves preliminary injunctions.

Preliminary injunctions tend to be a matter of process with no real investigation into merits, so that's fair. If a claimant applies and the court decides that, supposing everything they allege is true (ie, they get the benefit of the doubt with no real investigation into the dispute) then they have a real prospect of winning the case, they'll grant interim relief. And the EU agreements seek to make rulings enforceable, rather than unifying procedure.

Assuming German courts use that sort of test then it's not surprising Apple were granted relief and it's a massive gamble. If they lose in court they would likely end up owing Samsung for all economic losses incurred.

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Coders breathe Android into dead HP fondleslab

ThomH
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I think the 'underpowered' label is a response to...

... the news that surfaced over the weekend, on The Next Web, that "HP tested webOS on an iPad. It ran over twice as fast as the TouchPad" and, in the same story:

"With a focus on web technologies, webOS could be deployed in the iPad’s Mobile Safari browser as a web-app; this produced similar results, with it running many times faster in the browser than it did on the TouchPad."

The story refers to a current generation iPad 2 and claims that HP had the TouchPad hardware fully designed before they bought Palm, so "the TouchPad was a two-year old piece of hardware that the webOS team equipped with their tablet-friendly platform".

The reference cited is only "a source close to the subject" and makes it clear that the don't know what sort of testing produced those metrics in an appended update. So the story should be taken with a pinch of salt, but if true then it would justify calling the TouchPad underpowered given that it was priced at the same sort of level as the iPad 2.

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Windows Phone may be cheaper than Android - Inq boss

ThomH
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Cutting FAT32 would be a problem

Assuming I've not fallen for mere trolling, one of the things vocal Android proponents like is being able to plug their phone into the computer and manually copy music, movies, etc to it. FAT32 is really the only filing system that makes that easy and realistic across pretty much every USB sporting computer out there.

That being said, given that they use FAT32, properly following the DCIM spec would be nice. It's a bit pointless using a non-free standard and then improperly implementing a free standard on top of it.

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iPhone 5 to include Japanese earthquake warning system

ThomH
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It is a fair comment, but...

... apps can't listen for SMSs because apps have no access to your SMS stream, Apple's decision being that customers don't want that and Apple's app store being such that they can block any applications that go through unofficial channels.

However, apps can listen for a message from an external server without being active and in the foreground, that being how things like Skype work. There are some restrictions on that which I won't bore you with in detail, but generally speaking you give app-by-app permission to alert you to notifications pushed by an external server and Apple will allow your app to respond if it fits into a permitted use case. Otherwise you just get the notification on screen, possibly with a sound effect, and the app doesn't get any CPU time whatsoever unless the user allows it.

I guess because your question leads to a discussion of the walled garden it was unfairly mistaken for a troll.

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Apple, HTC trim phone forecasts as markets tank

ThomH
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@Steve: a good rant with some valid points, but ignores the facts

HTC and Apple have several years of experience of selling handsets that are much like the handsets of a year ago. They put in their initial component orders based on that experience. In the wake of financial market turmoil they've both suddenly reduced their component orders.

Since we're talking about the two companies having changed their orders suddenly, the economy is likely to be the sole factor.

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Googlola's closed source Android temptation

ThomH
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I hate to say it...

... but per the linked article, they defined 'platform' quite widely and seem to have opened the net to software strongly related to mobile platforms, hence compared Android to Eclipse, the Linux kernel, MeeGo, Firefox, Qt, Symbian (when it was open), and WebKit.

Why do I hate to say it? Because that imports a Google v Apple angle. Maybe if we keep that bit quiet we can still have a sensible discussion?

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David May, parallel processing pioneer

ThomH
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Any recommended reading?

The article shows 'A Tutorial Introduction to Occam Programming' — as someone who's naturally curious and likes books they can hold, is that a good book to learn about Transputer's approach to parallelism and the Occam language? If I'm going to buy just a single book, is there anything else better? I guess I'm asking for the Occam equivalent of the Smalltalk blue book.

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HP chief bows to Jobsian cult

ThomH
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Apotheker didn't purchase Palm

He's been CEO at GP since September last year, having moved over from SAP. Palm were acquired by HP in July last year.

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id Software Wolfenstein 3D

ThomH
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Insert obligatory Midi Maze reference here?

And Faceball 2000 was doing first person shooting on the Gameboy before Wolfenstein 3d came along — you can't get much more mainstream than that.

I think it's Wolfenstein that inspired most of the subsequent games though.

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Piles of unshiftable HP fondle-slabs choke Best Buy

ThomH
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Hopefully this isn't the end

Though I may be investing a little more hope than is realistic. It'd be interesting to read a postmortem if HP do either kill it or restrict it to being the fast boot option on laptops, a use I think they've hinted at before. I'm aware of negative stories about build quality, the iTunes syncing spat (which made both parties look bad in my opinion) and performance, but there's got to be more to the ongoing failure to find traction than those factors alone.

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Android app logs keystrokes using phone movements

ThomH
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@famousringo: iOS should be secure though

Since it allows multitasking only by a WebOS-inspired event-based model, with a program declaring itself to be within one of a few well-defined categories. Other programs put into the background are completely suspended.

In fact, I'd assume WebOS is safe too. But I'm not as up on that as iOS and Android.

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iPHONE 5 SHOCK! US Apple store 4G kit-fit snapped

ThomH
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Fibre to the cabinet is happening though

It's listed as "available in some areas" in the small town I grew up in, my London Zone 2 flat's exchange will be upgraded in March (which will be nice, as I currently get 3 Mbps, being more than 1.5km from the exchange), and I know they've done a similar thing in Manchester and Liverpool upgrading from the outside inward and are expecting to get to the centre of both during 2012.

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Angry S Koreans mass-sue Apple over iPhone tracking

ThomH
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@Kristian Walsh (and the story generally)

Re: the story's "Apple had stored their iPhones' location data" and your "Apple ... collected this information about the customer without permission; and ... did not take adequate precautions to prevent it being abused."

I think the sort of wording people are using is prone to give a false impression: Apple never had the data in their possession. Their OS collected it and it remained on your handset and in your iTunes backups, potentially exposing it to malicious third parties. Nobody alleges that Apple did this on purpose so far as I can make out, but by the same token if your new-build home fell down then you'd be able to sue the builders even if they didn't do it on purpose.

I'm all for devices being built with sufficient competence not to leak information about me to others so if that's the basis on which the court awarded damages then I'm in favour of it.

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Samsung's lovely illegal tablet: Why no one wants to know

ThomH
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@jarjarbinks: made up statistics prove nothing

The most recent survey from IDC of mobile developers - published less than two weeks ago - showed 91% "very interested" in writing iPhone apps versus 87% "very interested" in writing Android phone apps. In both cases, tablets were explicitly counted separately.

From that you conclude that Android is "way ahead" on developers? That strongly suggests a bias that it's impossible to ignore when reading the rest of your comments.

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ThomH
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@Robert Long: no it shouldn't

That'd just be one more setting to further complicate the relevant screen and for your less technical friends to change and then claim the device is broken because everything suddenly looks different and that they have no recollection of changing anything.

Being as honest about the device as possible and expecting web site vendors not to drive away their customers sounds like a better idea to me.

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Google's Moto move spells iPhone doom

ThomH
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I don't buy it

Despite the two competing and contradictory opinion pieces on El Reg today — claiming variously that Apple is finished or that Google wasted their money on irrelevant IP from a loss-making phone manufacturer — I think this is largely a sideshow.

The iPod showed that Apple can hold a direct-to-consumer market against a thousand competitors even when they organise under a common banner. They managed to create an aura of quality while being sufficiently competitive on price.

I think they're having a much harder time in mobile because selling to the consumer through networks is a lot more difficult when they don't want to give the networks any control. In that environment it's not surprising that manufacturers who are more willing to balance consumer experience against network demands have been able to sell in a lot more volume. Those volumes also become a benefit for all Android users, creating more interest in the top tier, unencumbered handsets.

That said, while the article is right that it's disingenuous to say that Apple are really winning the war with Android because they suck up so much of the profit in the handset arena, the fact that Google and others are also reaping significant funds doesn't seem to put Apple in a precarious position from where I'm sitting. Two segmented areas of profit are even less of a zero-sum game than most of the markets that the tech press likes to report as such.

I have to admit to still being uncertain exactly why Google have bought Motorola, given their unwillingness to get engaged in legal proceedings against their licensees to date, but I seriously doubt this spells doom for the iPhone. My expectation remains the same: that Apple will end up in more of a Mac situation than an iPod situation, profitably reaping a high-value niche.

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'Major' C++ revision receives standards blessing

ThomH
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Competing demands, that's all

C++'s complexity is a result of the desire to create a language that can automate everything that more extreme languages supply while making it all optional and without taking one step away from the language having as close as possible to no runtime.

It's a grand unification, even while the world shows a preference for niche languages.

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People don't want tablets, they want iPads

ThomH
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@DryBones

Apple's approach to applications — sandboxed and with very low permissions — should make it easy for suitable tools to spot any malware that comes along and basically prevent any propagation of trojans, which are the predominant threat everywhere nowadays. Apple have also started pushing OS updates on the desktop to eliminate malware where it crops up, suggesting they're at least taking the problem more seriously than they were.

I therefore don't expect serious malware problems on iOS.

I would imagine there may be more problems on Android because Google publish the code, meaning that you can determine what has been fixed from version to version and hence what vulnerabilities did exist previously, but a whole bunch of handset vendors then fail to pass the updates on to users. But if a real problem arises the market should be able to provide a solution because there's no walled garden, so I don't expect it'll have a major impact on Android's continuing fantastic adoption rate.

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ThomH
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Look to Amazon would be more appropriate

They are the only potential competitors with the content and the vertical integration to match Apple — they also have an incredible platform from which to launch. If they launch then I expect them to coast into second place almost immediately and then to put up a pretty decent fight.

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ThomH
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Not very sound reasoning

Your argument is: if you assume there's nothing wrong with the product then there's something wrong with the consumers.

I'm as surprised that Apple is staying ahead as anybody, but couldn't it just be that the glut of new tablets and the besmirching of Android's name by some very awful no-brand tablets are preventing decent tablets that make 'Android' a big part of the pitch from picking up momentum quickly?

I'll be more surprised than anyone if Apple's share still isn't significantly reduced a year from now.

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iPhone 5 less than a month away

ThomH
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I heard the Galaxy S2 was a Motorola DynaTAC copy

You know, making the phone bigger and all.

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ThomH
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When's the last time anyone launched an interesting phone?

Nobody in the industry has done anything particularly interesting for such a long time that I'm having difficulty building up any enthusiasm whatsoever. My predictions: things that can be quantified will see an increase, probably with the exception of battery life. That's how everybody does it.

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The IBM PC is 30

ThomH
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Unicomp do!

Unicomp being the inheritors of the buckling spring. They still seem to be producing them, with USB variants, versions with modern Windows and Mac layouts and other arrangements.

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Amazon paints the Kindle cloudy

ThomH
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This is pretty good though...

... because it uses the new 'HTML5' database feature, so that all your interaction is entirely within the page itself and handled invisibly by the browser. There's no manual work involved and no need to have access to and an understanding of a traditional file system. You just pin the books you want to be able to read offline and everything is done for you.

I don't actually like reading on the iPad or on any similar light-in-your-face-with-visible-pixels device, but I appreciate what Amazon have done here.

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iPhone 4 prototype journo off the hook

ThomH
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Not so much of an ego trip

Property stolen from Apple (the theft having occurred at the moment the defendant decided not to return the thing) was sold at a profit. That's a crime. Asking the police to investigate a crime isn't an ego trip. The attitude of the defendant also seems sufficient to push the crime from a legal wrong to a moral wrong.

Busting gung-ho through an editor's door once it's become obvious that you're part of a high profile story potentially sounds like a bit of an ego excursion but there's not a shred of evidence to suggest Apple directed the police investigation. Chen was mistreated in my opinion, but you're far too quick to point the finger of blame.

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Google kills off app maker

ThomH
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To be fair...

... all of those except The Last One (if you give Smalltalk a pass as the basis of Objective-C) have been used for a bunch of useful, productive applications and are still being used today. The hype is always a bit ridiculous, but useful ideas have emerged.

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Apple blocks sale of Samsung's Android fondleslab across EU

ThomH
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I think you might be paranoid

There doesn't seem to be any cult connection in this article at all. It's Apple the company pursuing Samsung the company. I don't even see anybody coming out here to defend Apple, which is unsurprising given the circumstances.

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Xpress yourself: Quark sold to M&A outfit

ThomH
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Disregarding the "fan boys" did it for them

In 2002 Quark CEO Fred Ebrahimi declared that "publishing is dying" and suggested that those who were unhappy with Quark's then failure to update Xpress to run on OS X "switch to something else".

Meanwhile, Adobe had updated InDesign to OS X and declared that publishing was just breaking out of its print niche, shortly announcing the Creative Suite to tie print and digital tools together into a convincing package (well, compared to the competition).

I can't find a graph of market share for InDesign vs XPress since the launch of OS X, but I'm pretty confident I can guess what it looks like. My assessment would be that Ebrahimi did a Ratner.

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Linus Torvalds dubs GNOME 3 'unholy mess'

ThomH
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Depends on your definition of "taken"

Microsoft "took" from Apple in the sense that they had a contract with Apple that a court found to have given them access to the relevant intellectual property. Apple "took" from Xerox in the sense that they paid millions of dollars worth of shares in order to have access to the research centre.

In both cases, ideas migrated due to business transactions.

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ThomH
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@JEDDIDAH: what are you talking about?

OS X doesn't jail apps onto one desktop, and hasn't at any time since it gained virtual desktops. It's trivial to move them from desktop to desktop and there's no requirement for all the windows for a single app to be on the same desktop.

Moving from one desktop to another is achieved through drag and drop.

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Google claims 'bogus patent' conspiracy against Android

ThomH
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@Paul: it was more about Office

Microsoft invested a small amount of money but also reinvigorated Office development and promised to continue to support the platform for five years, whatever happens. Prior to the 1997 agreement, Office development for Mac was moribund, which was one of the things making the platform look stagnant at best. In return IE displaced Netscape as the default browser on the Mac, which it continued to be until OS X 10.3 debuted.

So Apple got to look a little more alive and Microsoft got to kick Netscape.

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

ThomH
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To be fair to them...

... you could ask why did they buy On2 if they think patents are bogus? The answer was: to put those patents under a perpetually free licence.

That said, they'll get no sympathy from me either if they're trying to conjure up images of some sort of industry-wide conspiracy against them. It's nice to see someone from a big, trusted company going on the record about the lunacy of the US patent system though.

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Microsoft skewers Google's anti-Android conspiracy claim

ThomH
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Actually a pretty good defence

Google argue they needed the patents independently to allow them to be used as a shield, and the pattern of their bidding in the auction already suggested they didn't seriously think they were going to lose.

That said, if Microsoft are extracting money from companies like HTC then presumably Google are saying that if they'd been able to acquire the tools, they would start wading into those disputes? Just open licensing the patents they acquired wouldn't achieve protection for third parties.

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The curse of Google?: Android licensees fail to cash in

ThomH
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@ChrisC: my experience is the opposite

The number of people "actively, willingly, knowingly choosing to go the way of the 'droid rather than take a bit of the apple" is exactly the same as it always was, and comprised almost entirely of a whole bunch of angry Internet types.

The number of people buying an Android phone has surged because Android phones tend to be the best value proposition by a huge margin for a big majority of the market. You can get a big touch screen, a usable browser and access to apps for free on a cheap contract, often with unlimited data (per the industry's definition of unlimited). Nobody cares that it's an Android.

Sadly I think that's also why this report ends the way it does: the race to the bottom in price terms has squeezed profit, and manufacturers don't seem to have found effective ways to add value. What we've arguably got is a lot of people trying to pretend that phones aren't just commodities.

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ThomH
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@James Micallef: I'm not persuaded

I don't think most Nokia cheerleaders actually believe the hardware quality tag, it's just something they can cling to when an argument requires it. Nokia phones tend to contain older processors and GPUs, and the companies with the lowest reported malfunction rates for phones tend to be Motorola and Apple.

Nokia fans probably would have gone Nokia Android though — you're right about that. Unlike Motorola, HTC et al, Nokia did actually have a decent body of brand loyalists at one point.

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Apple iCloud pricing revealed

ThomH
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Other way round, isn't it?

Surely if they overcharge in the UK, it's to allow for the pound becoming worth less compared to the dollar?

That said, it's probably more about cost of doing business, taxation regimes, what they think the market will accept, etc.

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Skype arrives on fondleslab

ThomH
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Won't happen, sadly

The speaker is round the back, near the bottom, and there's no microphone. Trust Apple to take all the fun out of everything.

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Samsung-Apple Wars: Galaxy blocked Down Under

ThomH
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@AC

I downvoted for (i) the use of 'Crapple' and 'iFad'; (ii) the apparent assertion that if someone manufactures something, obviously they must have the intellectual rights to it; and (iii) the statement that Apple are somehow more culpable than everybody else for the current lawsuit frenzy.

All of the big tech beasts have worked in concert to put us in the stupid intellectual property position we're in now. To pull a single instance out of the many idiotic lawsuits going on and say "oh, well obviously that claimant is to blame" doesn't ring true. The first example of phone manufacturers suing each other on slightly flimsy patent grounds regarding current-or-near-enough phones that I can find is Nokia suing Apple, but I neither think that pins the blame for the whole thing on Nokia nor do I think it justifies Apple's lawyerlust.

Summary: downvote was because the post was wrong on the facts and written in a childish tongue. That I think the case being pursued by Apple shouldn't be actionable is neither here nor there.

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Nokia's cheapies strategy bombs

ThomH
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@James Hughes 1

It depends what you use your phone for - go on the tube, for example, and you'll spot that quite a few people use them for games. In that case, Nokia's obsession with cheap Broadcom GPUs and its failure to ship anything with an ARM7, even more than two years after the relevant Android and Apple handsets, is a problem.

The standard Symbian touch screen resolution of 640x360 has less than 38% the number of pixels of the iPhone 4, so even static images look significantly less sharp. 256mb of RAM as on the N8 is 50% of that in the iPhone 4 and several Android handsets, limiting third party app producers.

The N9 would address some of these issues but has yet to launch and isn't exactly intended for volume distribution.

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