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* Posts by ThomH

1912 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Apple plans to prune iPhone 3GS price

ThomH
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@Jolyon

I think some people can be oversensitive, given how often Flash support is used as a proxy by those that determine in advance that they want to say something negative for its own sake and only subsequently pick through the feature list to find something specific to say.

I also don't think the comment deserved any down votes.

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Brits lose out as iTunes prices jump

ThomH
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Allowing for VAT...

... UK prices are actually cheaper. 69p - VAT = 57.5p. 57.5p converted to USD is 92 cents. The 99 cents doesn't include sales tax because there is no national US tax; if you live in a state that collects tax on digital downloads then it'll be added to the $0.99.

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Amazon's anti-iPad arises 'in October'

ThomH
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Not sure where the £120 comes from...

... but you can upload e-books from any source to your Kindle, subject to file format restrictions. Its most native format is mobi, not the more common epub, with plain text and PDF support also available, though panning and zooming on a PDF is very, very painful due to screen response times so you ideally want one formatted for A5 or smaller.

It'll confirm everything you secretly suspected about open source user interface design, but Calibre (and others I've forgotten the names of) can do conversions for you if you have any suitably non-DRMd epubs about. Project Gutenberg will give you mobi files directly, but that's generally unnecessary since Amazon seem to have grabbed them all and put them into their shop already. Though you often have to navigate thirty chancers who have opportunistically uploaded the same content with a price tag.

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Bug-Byte Manic Miner

ThomH
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Piracy! Someone call FAST!

You know, because another way of obtaining Manic Miner is to connect your Spectrum up to the headphone socket of your computer and play the YouTube video you've helpfully embedded. Ummm, unless the usual psychoacoustics have stripped too much. The Kansas City Standard, as on the Electron and BBC, used 1200 and 2400 Hz near-sinal waves but switching between them digitally to give quite a complicated DCT. Not sure what the Spectrum ROMs did in exact frequency terms, but it was a digital output with serialisation and de-serialisation handled on the CPU if I recall correctly (ie, it was the exact same circuits as the 48k sound output), so probably that loses even more in MP3s.

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W3C moves to snuff Apple web patents

ThomH
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Not such a great plan

In that it would create unpredictability for every other party wanting to use HTML5 that has played properly and hence doesn't have patents to trade with W3C.

But, yes, I support the sentiment that Apple's hand should be forced somehow.

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One per cent of world's web browsing happens on iPad

ThomH
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Wishful thinking

Android devices have been on the market for about 75% as long as iOS devices, Android phones outsell iPhones in several major markets, yet they manage only about 50% as much traffic per this article. And that's seemingly discounting the iPod Touch.

My feeling is that because Android is flexible and open, a lot of people are getting Android phones with expensive data plans, and in terms of quantities shipped it's still primarily a phone operating system. So there's no real one versus the other conclusion to be drawn, other than - as I say in my title - claiming pretty impressive market share based on little time in the wild doesn't add up.

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Hackers pierce network with jerry-rigged mouse

ThomH
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My guess...

... they probably had someone much cheaper doing the ordinary "social networks, telephones and other social-engineering vectors" testing, or already had them done. Or the point was to prove to somebody that those aren't the exclusive points of attack rather than that the system is safe.

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Apple's next iPhone planned for September, says report

ThomH
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To be fair though...

... Android has probably just reached its stable share, having reached it very quickly because growth was so incredible last year. Apple will obviously want to try to chip away at that because gain from anyone is good for them, but it's not a fight to the death. Markets can contain more than one leading brand and market share generally doesn't operate like a game of Risk. While we're talking the realities of the real world, is it also safe to point out that open versus closed ideologies are basically a fringe debate?

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ThomH
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@AC: you're arguing a different point

The contentious statement was "People have been opting for android because of apple and the company ethos", which even you don't agree with, instead citing considerations about the actual product. The other posters have similarly supplied a bunch of reasons that people — including well educated people with no other motivations — choose an Android handset over the iPhone. To try to boil this conversation down into Apple fanboys versus the world requires incredible blinkers.

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iPhone 5 gets iPad 2 chip and souped-up snapper

ThomH
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Pretty safe guesses then?

Bits I could have figured out for myself:

(1) Apple will launch a new iPhone this year;

(2) it'll be faster than the old iPhone.

Adding a higher resolution camera is something I might not have guessed, though that's because I don't see the point; photos I take on my phone tend to be imperfect for a bunch of non-pixel resolution related reasons, and as good as anything I get from any other point and shoot camera.

I guess the form has more or less settled down again.

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FT sticks it to Apple

ThomH
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Pros and cons though

While I'd prefer to keep myself insulated from News International, The Telegraph Group, etc, and Apple already have my details, I'm quite against Apple for imposing the price match condition. Fair enough if they want to impose a 30% charge on subscriptions, if that's what they've calculated the market will tolerate then good luck to them, but to then say that even if the iOS App Store isn't the most cost effective way to deliver to consumers then the extra costs can't be passed on puts far too much of a burden on producers.

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Microsoft fingered for Nokia's bleak future

ThomH
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Disagree on a bunch of points, but by no means all

Specifically:

(c) and (h): these extra features tend to be things that people don't actually care about, outside of a tech blog niche, and in any case can generally be found on Android phones too — with similarly few people particularly interested.

(e): I attended a Nokia development day recently, where we were given free phones and lots of information, and told about the latest cash prize development competitions. The Nokia employees were very nice and are clearly trying very hard.

(g): actually, I think quite a lot of people can tell you that Nokia phones come with Carl Zeiss lenses. They just also (very erroneously) think that it's a made-up brand ala Matsui. So this hits the (c)/(h) point of people not being particularly interested. On screens they're not really any better. The iPhone still has the leading DPI, and I think that Samsung's AMOLED screens provide the best overall colour. I have the feeling Nokia use a similar OLED technology at the top of the range, but they're definitely not ahead on that front.

On the purely technical/internals front (which I think people definitely don't care about at all, whereas I accept that some people do care about whether they can connect up via HDMI), Nokia are almost alone in being yet to produce an ARMv7 phone, and tend to go with the less powerful Broadcom GPUs rather than the good PowerVR stuff. So I wouldn't say they're technically brilliant.

That said, you're completely right that they do the phone stuff brilliantly. I used a Nokia phone up until 2008 and was very often the only person able to get a signal, especially when I lived in Cumbria. However, I find the OS a bit confused and inconsistent (eg, on the N8, just talking about built-in apps, some scroll areas require you to touch and pull a scroll bar, some are direct manipulation with no inertia, some have inertia but it varies from app to app), have never understood their holy devotion to having just one slightly peculiar font — especially as it makes web pages look really awful.

So, ummm, conclusion: hardware very good in some areas, good enough in all others, software definitely needed a change.

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Sony unveils PlayStation telly

ThomH
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@Jolyon

It'd just look like the TV is constantly halfway between a fade from one to the other, surely?

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Mac OS X Lion debuts in July as $29.99 upgrade

ThomH
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@AC

If it follows the normal App Store rules, then you can have unlimited downloads for as long as the product is available. Which, I appreciate, answers only one of your very minor concerns, but there you go.

Might be smart to do a completely clean install, grab a Time Machine backup right then, and any time you want to refresh just chose 'restore from Time Machine backup' via the recovery disk that came with your machine (which was also the OS disk, at least up until now).

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Ten... Core i5 laptops

ThomH
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Who are you talking about?

You seem to have some sort of confirmation bias. Scroll up the screen and look at the comments posted before the 31st of May at 13:28 and there's nothing like a flock of anyone in particular, and almost no whining.

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'Dodgy Android apps are breaking our phones' - Motorola

ThomH
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It's 70% of those returned

Since the overall proportion returned is probably, I don't know, 10% at the absolute worst, the average smartphone punter isn't imputed at all. What they're probably trying to do is put pressure on Google by stating publicly that Marketplace policies have given them a dramatic increase in returns.

Like you, I suspect that this isn't much of a problem at all to most people.

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Windows 8: Microsoft’s high-stakes .NET tablet gamble

ThomH
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Fingers crossed for new development tools

Javascript isn't very nice, but quite a few people are working on that without any need to change the infrastructure underneath. The specific examples may not be to your liking, but e.g. Objective-J and CoffeeScript are both languages that attempt to improve on and compile down to Javascript.

Microsoft do some of the best development tools in the world and have in-house language design expertise. They've also got a pretty good HTML engine nowadays. So if they decide to go with HTML+CSS+Javascript as a replacement for native code, I'm optimistic they'll be able to deliver a fantastic toolset that isn't in any way limited by the semantics of Javascript, and retain good end-user performance.

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Apple strikes back with update blocking new scareware

ThomH
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You're probably quite safe

Demographic differences are the most relevant thing I think - amongst the Mac demographic is a significant group of people with no technical grounding. A desktop Linux user is unlikely to believe that there's some magical piece of antivirus software installed that they didn't know about, and weirdly never saw before becoming 'infected', or alternatively that you can virus scan from within a browser, and is very unlikely to act without secondary confirmation (by manual inspection of the filing, possibly) and without first checking the web for suitable open source tools.

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Microsoft unveils Windows Phone 7 8

ThomH
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At a guess...

... they'll adapt the x86 emulation code they bought with Virtual PC and deploy on the XBox 360 when running XBox games. Obviously it'll need some work because the target processor is ARM rather than PowerPC but it's probably easier than starting from nothing.

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ThomH
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Quite the opposite

Per the Bloomberg article you link to: "Microsoft, the world’s largest software maker, will showcase the interface running on hardware with an Nvidia Corp. (NVDA) Tegra chip, the people said last week, declining to be identified because the plans are confidential."

So that would make it sound like they're interested in doing tablets with ARM and ARM only.

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Nokia: When pigeons fly home to roast

ThomH
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One more difference

Apple got out of its funk by abandoning the existing software platform, bringing in external management and merging in an external development team, then segueing into a brand new market and then several other new markets.

Nokia already switched management and are outsourcing a large part of the software stack. But they're effectively ceding a significant part of their destiny, something Apple have always managed to avoid.

That said, I agree with the article. Nokia's nothing like finished, its old strategy was on a crash course long before Elop turned up, and the platform switch gamble is the only workable way forwards. You can argue about the decision to use Windows Mobile versus other comers, but its hardly the most significant of his decisions.

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Wave of Trojans breaks over Android

ThomH
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There's a difference in approach though

Apple assume everything to be malevolent until they've discovered it to be otherwise. Google assume everything to be benign until they've discovered it to be otherwise. And that's without getting into the tests each applies to determine what they think shouldn't be made available to customers.

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ThomH
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They're trojans though

So OS security doesn't really come into it. That's the whole point of the trojan horse — the security is sufficiently onerous that you just get someone trusted to let you in.

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MIPS enters Android Honeycomb tablet race

ThomH
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Slight problem versus the NDK, presumably?

And I was under the impression that the only way to compile C code is via NDK, bypassing Android's virtual machine, giving a lazy option to EA, Epic, etc when porting their engines. I guess it'll be fine though — I'll bet that 99% of applications are purely Dalvik based.

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Apple ships removal tool for Mac-menacing malware

ThomH
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@Rich 30

... or you could just copy and paste the file URL from the 'Activity' window to the 'Downloads' window. No need to include bit.ly or anything similar, whatever happens. Or install the ClickToFlash extension (from about halfway down the page you go to if you click 'Get Extensions'), right click on the youtube video and select 'Download Video'.

Then go back to doing whatever you were really browsing for in whatever browser you like.

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ThomH
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@xyz

The inclusion of an anti-malware tool with versions of the OS since 2009 — per the article — would appear to make your comment a little late.

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Official: Apple to float iCloud on 6 June

ThomH
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@Levente

You're accusing iTards of ad hominem attacks? Surely some sort of satire?

I'm of the opinion that the 'i' has outlived its welcome, but I guess it makes it very easy to come up with brand names that are legally protectable and which associate new products with a person's existing perceptions of Apple.

I was sort of hoping that MobileMe indicated a move away from iEverything, with the iPad getting the name because the similarity to iPod was just too alluring, but I guess that wasn't the case. Oh well, they're just names.

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Apple sues teenager for white iPhone conversion kits

ThomH
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@AC

From the article, Apple's complaints — and my guesses at the reasoning behind them are:

"infringed upon patents and violated its trademark", i.e. manufactured (if he was painting them himself as other commenters allege) and sold equipment with the Apple logo on without permission.

"using deceptive practices in the creation and sale of the product", presumably by making some sort of claim that these were authentic Apple parts for genuine white iPhones rather than genuine black parts, repainted.

Though it's ironic that Apple appear to be using (amongst others) laws with the purpose of allowing a company to protect is reputation to sue a 17-year old who through significant initiative managed to fill a gap they'd created when they failed to ship a simple product for an extended period of time. I think they're being really stupid on this one.

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Google Chrome OS: Too secure to need security?

ThomH
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@Cameron Colley

The "rabid fanboi" of your imagination doesn't exist. It's just a cheap caricature, calculated to inflame, that you've conveniently picked upon to be a scapegoat.

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New Mac scareware variant installs without password

ThomH
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See above

The default user is an Administrator in OS X parlance. Such privilege is not the same as and is significantly less than root.

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ThomH
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@Brian

Safari defines 'safe files' as: movies, pictures, sounds, PDF and text documents, and disk images and other archives. It doesn't include executable files. Having read some other sites on this issue today, it seems that the program comes as an installable application archive. So the OS launches the standard package installer, prompting the user to click onward to install the app. They have a few screens to click through, including one where they select a target drive and then confirm the installation location.

Anyway, 'execute' is the wrong verb. Safe files are opened. You can't throw arbitrary executable code onto a Mac using Safari's built in, designed behaviour.

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ThomH
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It doesn't mean what you think it means

All the stuff you would need administrator privileges to adjust on another UNIX requires the entry of the user's password in a default OS X install. However, write privileges to /Applications are gifted without password.

Acting as the default user, if you have to sudo to do it in Linux or BSD, you have to sudo to do it in OS X.

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ThomH
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@Paul_Murphy

Allow me: OS X contains a BSD layer, derived from BSD. Because it has a terminal, it also contains a bunch of open source components that you commonly see included in Linux distributions. WebKit is notably a fork from KHTML and KDE is generally closely associated with Linux distributions. There's even a rootless X11 manager if you want to use it (though I don't think it's a default install).

So, fine, technically it's not Linux-derived because its original development predates that of Linux and Linux is just a kernel, whereas OS X explicitly uses a completely distinct kernel. But it's quite accurate to say that it shares a large code footprint with what people idiomatically call 'Linux' and that at least some components were part of idiomatic Linux before they were part of OS X.

I'm sure that you could find a bunch of BSD, Linux or OS X people that would be angered by the statement, but hopefully not at as irreverent a site as this.

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ThomH
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As above, my guess is...

... downloading to another folder is achieved by supplying an archive with an absolute path, and one of the built-in extractors failing to validate that properly. bsdtar is safe, so I'll guess it's a zip problem. The default set up also doesn't allow users to write to absolutely anywhere on the system, but it does allow them to write to /Applications, so whatever they're doing probably doesn't allow a write to anywhere.

Yes, though, it's a big gaping hole.

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ThomH
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They were confused

"Administrator privileges" tends to be synonymous with unfettered access to anything on a computer. A default install of OS X will require a password be entered for a bunch of tasks, such as viewing things stored on the keychain, making changes to certain system preferences and some other things.

However, you're quite right because on a default install, and I'll wager on 99.9% of machines out there, the single user has a tick against 'Allow user to administer this computer' and can write whatever they want to /Applications, whenever they want. Combine that with Safari shipping with 'Open "safe" files after downloading' ticked by default and it's easy to see how this program installs itself, given that archives are considered safe and I guess one of the archive formats doesn't properly guard against absolute paths.

All of the proper, internal paths should be properly locked down by default, so in theory this program shouldn't be able to do anything to stop you from just dragging it to the trash and hence uninstalling it. That said, it should still be a major embarrassment that it can install itself in the first place.

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Dear Dell and Microsoft: You're not Apple

ThomH
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I agree and disagree

Agreed: the important asynchronous fetch parts behind AJAX originated at Microsoft, IE6 didn't hit standards very well but it was an era before anybody did and before most of the standards it ended up living alongside, Microsoft's enterprise software — whatever else you may say — sets a high bar of entry for competitors, Gates was preaching the tablet before anyone actually wanted one and before the form factor really worked for technological reasons.

Disagreed (but not refuted as these are just opinions): much of the Apple stuff. Innovation just means to make changes in something established, especially by introducing new methods, ideas, or products. So it's actually a really easy test to satisfy — taking a good idea from one field and transplanting it into another so as to change perceptions of the market would seem to be enough, so multitouch on phones will do. They also have some genuinely novel manufacturing processes that create very robust enclosures, and Thunderbolt is very interesting.

On CPUs they use the latest Intel parts in the computers and design their own ARM-based silicon for the tablets, phones and MP3 players. Pixel densities are lagging on computers, but if pixel density were the test then you'd have to give them innovation for the latest iPhone, having jumped at least 50% ahead of the competition at launch and still being ahead almost a year later.

The thing with consumer products is that it's artificial to separate hardware and software when trying to pinpoint innovation. Which is why comparing Apple to Dell and Microsoft separately is a little silly and I think that's part of the point the article was making.

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3D fad fades for Yanks

ThomH
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But on the other hand...

... the conclusion was drawn by comparing the proportion of people who saw the movie that watched it in 3d to the proportion of people who saw those other movies that watched them in 3d, to reach the conclusion that — amongst films with a large enough release and sufficient success — the proportion of people opting for 3d was lower than previously.

There are then a bunch of possible counterarguments about why the specific nature of the film didn't cause the drop, albeit that they're speculative.

So I don't think it's franchise sickness, since the comparison isn't to other films in the same franchise or to any numbers that may have been affected by the popularity or quality of other films in the franchise.

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Apple iPhone 5 to sport CRT-style screen

ThomH
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Or...

The phone manufacturer singular already producing them. Let's not take away from Samsung just because Apple are rumoured to have copied their idea.

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How to choose the right screen size

ThomH
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Re: subtitles

You've probably got your DVD player or Freeview player or Sky+ box or whatever set to output a 4:3 picture, so it's letterboxing the 16:9 then putting subtitles on at the bottom. Probably things would improve if you set the box to 16:9, adjusting your TV's picture stretching setting accordingly.

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ThomH
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42" EDTV here

Yes, you know, the 480p sort. It was a hand-me-down gift. I probably sit about 3 or 4m away and can see the pixels on any high contrast objects. But I don't really care.

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New Mac fake-defenders similar to Windows scareware

ThomH
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@AC

You could post the counterexamples if you think evidence is important.

I think I generally agree with you though, as it stands to reason. Some manufacturers lower costs by accepting money to install the Norton Tools or whatever trial versions on their machines. Apple don't. So even if Apple and those manufacturers spent exactly as much on production and applied the same markup, the Apple machine would be more expensive. You don't have to allege that Apple are charging higher margins or in any other way pumping up prices to get to the conclusion that the Apple machine should cost more.

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ThomH
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No viruses yet...

... but a growing list of trojans. Platform security obviously helps prevent viruses (I'll bet the number for Windows 7 is tiny compared to Windows 95 when it was at the same level of adoption), but platform unpopularity is the only way to safeguard against trojans. I guess someone is dipping their toe in the water to test the viability of this sort of scam given Mac market share.

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Simply viewing Apple kit provokes religious euphoria

ThomH
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@E 2

Technically he's making that allegation only if you think the Linux box is a cheap imitation of an Apple box. And I don't even agree with him that markets prefer things that are cheaper and less efficient; generally they prefer cheaper and more efficient.

I'm of the opinion that desktop computers long ago became pretty generic, though I tend to buy Macs still because they have a small physical footprint, a tiny electrical footprint, operate silently and usually last a decent amount of time. I'm also quite familiar with the software stack. However, I accept that I'm putting myself into a straightjacket in terms of customisation and I'm not under the illusion that I couldn't get better benchmark results for less money, or that because I like the OS it must be objectively better.

The best computer is the one you like the most, and the competition is what keeps all the vendors on their toes.

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Microsoft calls Intel's Windows 8 comments 'inaccurate'

ThomH
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@JDX

Based on Microsoft's denial and the port to ARM, I'm optimistic that they're deprecating some legacy stuff by relegating it to a Windows 7 compatibility mode. So they wouldn't be re-jigging the underlying architecture, just trying to push everyone more forcibly towards the re-jigged stuff.

Would an all .NET Windows with all or most of Win16/32/64 in a sandboxed, legacy support environment really be a bad thing?

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ThomH
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@AC

Not quite true; if I recall correctly then a PowerPC version of Windows NT 4 shipped for the PReP platform in a few extremely obscure ThinkPads that could run Intel binaries through emulation. Or my memory might be fooling me, and the emulator may have been an add-on, though I'm pretty sure it worked at the system level, to emulate the binaries but forward the relevant system calls directly to the native NT implementations. Or I'm just very confused indeed.

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ThomH
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@The BigYin

I completely agree; binary compatibility for the Mac goes back a decade at the most and requires the installation of optional components to do so. Obviously you can argue some virtue in that from the perspective of bloat and support, but the benefits of full backward compatibility are so obvious as not to need arguing. Microsoft aren't always 100% on the nail, but it says a lot that I can remember the only two times I've had problems, and the first of those was running a Windows 2 version of PageMaker on 3.1...

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E Ink, Epson to build 'retina' display for e-book readers

ThomH
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@AC

Same thing here; I think part of it is that there's no gaps between the pixels, and they've selected fonts that are relatively aggressively fitted to pixel boundaries so there's limited need for anti-aliasing anyway. http://www.bit-101.com/blog/?p=2722 makes the point quite well, especially when you get to the 400x versus 375x zooms.

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Apple proposes even tinier SIMs for future iPhones, iPads

ThomH
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@AC

Given that the proposal is being submitted to an industry-controlled standards body for the scrutiny of the normal industry-controlled standardisation processes, it's probably safe to assume that if Apple don't know what a standard is then someone will tell them soon.

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ThomH
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@Carol Orlowski

The bluetooth criticisms are valid, the video criticism isn't. Both the QuickTime container and H.264 video are industry standards, being written into the BluRay spec amongst other things. My Android can play them, most £20 DVD players with USB slots can play them, VLC can play them.

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ThomH
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@AC

I think they already get a share of your subscription costs — that was the deal originally, at any rate. Hopefully competition from Android and others has eaten into that by emboldening networks.

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