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* Posts by ThomH

1751 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

... time machine. Iranian Dr Who claims he invented a ...

ThomH
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Re: If they had a time machine...

Here's what else all the rogue nations have in common: they know that man didn't really land on the moon, that Jackie shot JFK, that the Titanic was an insurance scam, that Prince Philip crashed Diana's car, that September the 11th was designed to give the US more oil, that Tesla shot Archduke Ferdinand, that Hitler invented the CAT scanner, that Castro really had over seventeen legs and that Roswell caused the middle ages.

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ThomH
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Re: Skegness got there first!

Iran wishes it were big?

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Judge scolds Apple, Motorola for using court as 'business strategy'

ThomH
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Re: Is it snowing in hell?

I don't think courts have ever liked this sort of mucking about; look at the Woolf reforms here in the UK for evidence that, when acting as a body, legal professionals like the rules to be clear, costs to be proportional to the dispute, reasonable parties to be rewarded and, ideally, people not to have to go to court in the first place — whether due to alternative dispute resolution or as a result of summary judgment.

The problem is partly that even in countries modelled on the English system court-made law is long out of fashion in deference to elected legislators (as they've more of a mandate), but probably more that we've waded into uncharted waters. These sorts of action are broadly unprecedented and the law has yet to figure out how to deal with these things equitably.

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News Corp prez threatens to pull Fox TV off the air

ThomH
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That's called confirmation bias. There's a risk that the programming on a network that shares a brand with a deeply conservative news channel might become less easy to obtain. Of those comments that are politically motivated, which side of the spectrum are they likely to come from?

You might also benefit from looking up the contrapositive.

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Get lost, drivers: Google Maps is not for you – US judge

ThomH
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Re: I always use my phone for Google's GPS when I'm in California @(Andy Prough)

Oh, I live in San Francisco right now so I'm fully aware of the California freeways — my favourite is when there's a central lane that divides without any discontinuity so that if you head to the left you're on one freeway and if you head to the right then you're on another. Naturally that divide often happens just after the crest of a hill, and quite a lot of the time it isn't even a real hill but just an artefact of the way that elevated portion of road was built. I can't think of anywhere in the UK where the same lane just suddenly divides like that, without one road explicitly being a junction off the other.

And that's just the junction-by-junction stuff, the overall layout is a nightmare in itself. While driving to Pacifica this weekend I naturally had to go 101 south, 380 west, 280 north then 1 south, making four freeways for a 25-ish minute journey to a reasonably popular destination.

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ThomH
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Re: I always use my phone for Google's GPS when I'm in California

I guess that's an imperfect solution if your phone doesn't do turn-by-turn directions (as then it also won't correct itself if you miss a turning), and it's similarly possible you'll be caught using the phone for GPS if you've no way of routing the audio through your car speakers or if you just can't hear the instructions because it's California so obviously you've got a convertible.

Since the judge explicitly cited using your hands on the phone as the distraction, I guess mounting it within eyesight would be acceptable.

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Android's US market share continues to slip

ThomH
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Re: Son tired of unstableness

I think that not only is Sony a minority player in the Android market but that your son has discovered why. The 'problem' with Android is that each manufacturer can add whatever layers of code they like — see also non-removable Facebook apps, carrier-specific app stores and the rest. So you can easily acquire an Android phone with a horrible user interface and a habit of crashing just by buying the wrong model from a lesser manufacturer.

Of course this is only a problem if you don't do some research and is a natural side effect of freedom and choice. Given that accepting the carrier-specific applications usually gets you more of a subsidy you might even do your research and then decide that going with the more afflicted handset is a better fit for your priorities.

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ThomH
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Re: Missed the point of the OS chart

The entire market continues to skyrocket; given that the real story implied by the numbers seems to be "no monumental changes", you'd expect Android's numbers to go up accordingly.

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ThomH
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Re: It would be passing strange

But then surely the interesting thing is the year-on-year trend? We're very close to 6 months in to the iPhone 5 now and were almost six months in to the 4S at the same time a year ago as both were October launches. The S4 is coming only about 11 months after the S3 but the S2 was twelve months before that so Sansung is essentially puts the Samsung on an annual cycle too.

For my money the iPhone trend is real but essentially insignificant because the change is small and appears to be limited to one market.

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60-inch Apple iTV to be controlled by iRing remote?

ThomH
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Re: yea

That's a common misconception — the more proper version would be that Apple will always charge a premium where the market supports it. For example, yhere was never more than about £15 difference between a ~£200 iPod and the relevant Creative competitor and the Apple TV is exactly the same price as the equivalently specified Roku.

That said, the lesson of the 2007 iPhone launch is that they do sometimes grossly misjudge the price the market is willing to pay so it's definitely possible they'll launch very high before having to about face.

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Steve Jobs' 'spaceship' threatened by massive cost overruns

ThomH
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Re: The cost doesn't matter (@Andy Prough)

That'd be only if the cost didn't matter _and_ the prestige of having a fancy building didn't matter. What's going on here is that the latter has been judged hugely to outweigh the former.

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ThomH
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Re: The cost doesn't matter

Indeed the opposite is true: the more money Apple disperse to building contractors and suppliers that would otherwise have stayed inert in a bank somewhere, the more money ends up in the tax pot. So given Apple's cash reserves I also think they should build as complicated a building as possible.

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Microsoft gives away Windows 8 to Mac devs

ThomH
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So then what's missing from the VMs available for free download?

i.e. those on http://www.modern.ie/en-US/virtualization-tools, which seem to include an option to grab 'IE10 - Win8'. Is the bundled Windows 8 in there limited in some means that the one on the USB stick wasn't?

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Steve Jobs to supervise iPhone 6 FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE

ThomH
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Re: Wow so he knew about all the chip roadmaps..... (@Snake)

A search for 'genius salesman' (no quotes) returns 'Apple - Jobs at Apple - Retail (us)' as the first hit. So maybe they are looking to get a more direct Steve replacement after all?

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Security damn well IS a dirty word, actually

ThomH
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With about one sixth the number of users as 'does it really qualify for the list?' Safari, Opera is not a major browser (sources: StatCounter, W3Counter, NetApplications). Which is a shame.

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The Lynx effect: The story of Camputers' mighty micro

ThomH
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Re: All I Can Say Is........

Some technical autopsies wouldn't go unappreciated either.

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ThomH
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Re: Pretty nice machine

I've now carried out a little research; there was a ROM call to write a single byte to any other RAM page, which is reported to take about 25µs. So slow.

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ThomH
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Re: Pretty nice machine

The z80 has a 17-bit address range if you include port IO; maybe the solution was as simple as being able to IN and OUT to at least some portion of the RAM that wasn't paged in? Then you could set up a landing area for paging and pass packets back and forth?

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ThomH
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Re: CP/M

I'm just guessing but if the screen display took 32kb of 48kb, maybe the calculation was that there was no point shipping CP/M until they had enough space to give the more normal close-to-64kb of memory to CP/M + application? So it had to wait until the video display could be paged out; the other CP/M micros were using maybe 1kb for a text mode display, or just shipping all that stuff out to a terminal.

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Stop excluding vulnerable Brits from digital agenda - MPs

ThomH
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Re: vulnerable

So what we need is to get tough on use of 'vulnerable' and a common sense crackdown on 'tackle'?

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BlackBerry CEO: iPhone past its prime

ThomH
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While the BlackBerry man obviously has his own commercial interests, I think he's got an indirect point in that the iPhone is no longer particularly exciting. Most of its one-time advantages are now commodity features; an expressive touch interface is the norm and 95% of most people's use is probably texting, using the browser or using apps for services that are also accessible in the browser. They can do that on more or less any handset out there.

Even if you take Apple's case at its strongest — that the iPhone is the best phone in its class — it's now just one in a pretty big class.

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Samsung's new Galaxy S 4: iPhone assassin or Android also-ran?

ThomH
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Re: Not sure I'll bother

I feel like what Samsung is saying is 'this is the flagship phone; we're going to throw every idea we have at it and see what sticks' — some people are going to find some of the new features useful, nobody is going to be at a disadvantage because of them and Samsung can gauge reactions to figure out what to port to next year's midrange handsets.

I guess it's a more market-driven approach to figuring out where to go next, rather than dictating simplicity from the centre.

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Google sidelines Maps bloke, shifts him from 'A' to 'X'

ThomH
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Re: Neither phish nor phowle

I guess it's another way of dealing with that tricky œ? Wiktionary has an entry 'manouvre' as 'a common misspelling' so presumably it's an easy one to get wrong.

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Infinite loop: the Sinclair ZX Microdrive story

ThomH
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Re: The real sinclair story... (@AC)

The difference between the C64 and Spectrum graphics are decent hardwired graphics semantics with a weak CPU versus a cheap-to-manipulate frame buffer with limited colour resolution and a speedy CPU. Trying to reduce it to one being definitively better than the other isn't really constructive. Both have been pushed much further now by enthusiasts without budget limits but for every Creatures there's a Knight Lore, for every Revs there's a Hard Drivin'.

Given that in 1984 (when I could most readily find prices via Google) a C64 cost £195.95 and Spectrum was £129, I don't think it's fair to make the blanket statement that Sir Clive's lot were optimising incorrectly.

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Study: Megaupload closure boosted Hollywood sales 10%

ThomH
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And how long did the change last?

If I have a car and one day it breaks down, I'm likely to accept the inconvenience of two or three buses. If there were no such thing as cars then I would have put more effort into arranging my life so that I didn't have to catch two or three buses to get to work.

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Google, MPEG LA kiss and make up in WebM patent spat

ThomH
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Re: What is MPEG-LA's take-away?

It's always possible that Google paid for a simple perpetual licence, especially if the patents the MPEG LA found didn't add up to a particularly strong collection. VP8 was bought and open sourced so it doesn't seem too much of a stretch to think Google might just say 'okay, so it'll have cost us slightly more than we thought' .

Alternatively, maybe Google's counter-attack patent collection twisted the MPEG LA's arm? They've got a commercial interest in keeping their H.264 patent pool customers happy.

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ThomH
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"one next-generation VPx video codec" is the most important part

Bringing VP8 to market years after H.264, without adequate hardware acceleration and so as to cause uncertain legal liabilities for implementors doomed it. Google's only hope is to trump H.265 before it sees wide adoption, though even then chances are unlikely because it's pretty much a guarantee that H.265 will be used for 4k and 8k transmission standards so it's more or less guaranteed to be easy to find silicon for.

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Torvalds asks 'Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more?'

ThomH
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Re: Disagreed

There's a Nyquist element to it; the lower the resolution the lower the frequency of signal an image can contain — in layman's terms, lower density = less contrast. You can antialias so that the pixels aren't obvious but there's a physical limit to the amount of information you can present. When you step up to a display that includes all that extra information you probably still can't see the individual pixels but you can tell that edges are sharper and more lifelike, on text, on images and everywhere else, and you can then perceive a certain lack of sharp focus when you go back to the old display.

So it's really nothing to do with whether you can see the individual pixels or not, it's about how much information (in the digital signal processing sense) can be packed into an area and therefore how close an approximation a screen can be to actual printed text.

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First C compiler pops up on Github

ThomH
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Allow me

The compiler can be found at https://github.com/mortdeus/legacy-cc ; the oddest bit to my eyes is the apparent need explicitly to declare storage e.g. as at the bottom of https://github.com/mortdeus/legacy-cc/blob/master/last1120c/c00.c — my experience goes only a little back beyond C89 so it's possible I'm completely misreading what's going on but it looks like the equivalent of an assembler's defb or equivalent, with extern being used in functions to import globals (so maybe scope wasn't well established yet?). Can anyone enlighten me?

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Gnome cofounder: Desktop Linux is a CHERNOBYL of FAIL

ThomH
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This remains one of the Mac's best selling points

It has a BSD layer and an optional X server; it's very comfortable for UNIX users — throw in VM Ware or Parallels and it's the only type of computer that allows you to run X, Microsoft Windows and OS X applications together on the same desktop.

So, yes, the perfect platform but for the cost, the limited hardware range and, for a lot of people, the company the money goes to.

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iPhone 5S and lower-cost sibling coming this summer?

ThomH
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Re: Still with the tincy-wincy liddle screen? (re: JDX)

In terms of points-per-inch* Apple currently supports exactly two sizes — 163 and 132. The iPad Mini is the old iPad resolution at the iPod/iPhone density. So I guess it'd be within the established parameters for a larger iPhone to go the other way; take the current 163 and turn it into a 132 for an almost 25% increase in size, going from a 4" screen to a 5".

There's an argument that'd be no further fragmentation as Apple already mostly recommends the same point size of widgets for both devices.

* given that Apple maintain a distinction between points and pixels, so that retina and non-retina code looks identical.

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ThomH
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Re: Still with the tincy-wincy liddle screen?

Not to take anything from the joy of the squirming but the assertion that Apple's software is totally unprepared for fragmentation is inaccurate. iOS 6 introduced auto layout — which amounts to setting a bunch of arbitrary constraints on view size and placement relative to anything else you like — thereby fully preparing iOS for fragmentation.

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ThomH
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Re: Yawn...

You're yawning inappropriately. I think what you meant to yawn about was another year, another stream of rumours months in advance about a bunch of potential incremental improvements, many of which probably aren't accurate anyway.

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Plastic Logic shows off bendy 'leccy posters: Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

ThomH
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Re: 2p

You're talking voodoo [economics].

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White House comes out in favor of legal mobe unlocking

ThomH
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Re: If Mobes and fondleslabs (@David Cantrell, mutatedwombat )

If your phone is locked then you can't join another network, though plenty exist. If your console is locked then you can't buy games from another source, of which none exist. It's cause and effect but a real difference, at least when it comes to temporary purposive exceptions to existing laws.

Re: the PC model; I don't think the 3DO was the same thing at all. It was custom developed hardware with a single stationary target. So lack of subsidies was a real issue — compare and contrast with other consoles that typically cost quite a bit less than the hardware cost at launch, and with the PC that slowly gained steam as a gaming device over more than a decade.

I think that the problem with the PC now is simply that you can buy a very expensive one so some people do buy a very expensive one so that moves the centre of gravity for games. PC gaming is likely to remain more expensive than console gaming because nobody can put a foot down and say 'there is no choice for anybody; all must stick with the older technology in order to reduce cost for new owners and to keep things simple'. For people that game on PCs, that's probably a good thing as they retain the freedom to spend more on a better box if they want to.

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ThomH
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Re: If Mobes and fondleslabs

The difference is as you say — with mobile phones they're usually subsidised but you explicitly pay the subsidy back over the course of your contract. There's also often no technical barrier to using them on another network.

Conversely, with consoles you get a subsidy and you can't point at the exact date and payment that paid off the subsidy. There are also no other commercial entities that could offer you an alternative service.

I guess the 3DO is instructive example of why things work like that, being a console that wasn't subsidised with a specification that anyone could implement and no licensing costs for games; net result: a $700 console that nobody bought. The PC model just didn't work. Consumers had a choice and preferred a subsidised console with more expensive games, embracing the PlayStation instead, which was also from a newcomer, so established businesses versus upstarts wasn't really a factor.

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Canonical announces Mir display server to replace X Windows

ThomH
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Re: Oh FFS

Based on the spec at https://wiki.ubuntu.com/MirSpec the objective is to have Mir sitting underneath QT. So at least KDE should be in.

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Samsung's next smartphone to scroll by watching your eyes

ThomH
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Sounds good in theory, but...

The implementation will need to be very good.

The central contradiction as I imagine it is that normally you move your eyes to look at something. If moving your eyes also moves the thing then you're getting very unnatural feedback.

If they solve that by having the scrolling occur only when you look at certain areas of the screen — e.g. look at the bottom to scroll down, return your eyes to the main portion to stop — then you have to judge when to stop based on peripheral vision.

Supposing the people at Samsung have solved these problems then they deserve to be number one.

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Apple 'insider' explains why vid adapter hides ARM computer

ThomH
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Re: Can anyone explain why ...

I can explain the theory. By reducing what the connector does to 'a serial bidirectional stream of data' you turn all possible external connectors into mere software extensions. Whatever you want to output must already be data within the device, so you export that data over the connector and let the cable worry about reformatting it.

In this case that appears likely to have put some sort of video codec into the loop between device and cable and leaves the cable having to decompress video and run a framebuffer.

So what Apple has done, in contrast to the single-port Android phones, is made no concessions whatsoever to the two or three cables it's pretty obvious most people are going to use in real life right now. I guess the calculation was that the chips that have to go into the cables are going to be very cheap very soon and they need a connector that they can stick with for ten or more years in order to ensure accessory lock-in. There's probably also an argument that they've overreacted to the old connector having long disused pins for Firewire, still having what will very soon be obsolete pins for analogue video, etc, etc.

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Apple: OK, we tracked your every move... but let's call it a caching bug, m'kay?

ThomH
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Are you sure you're not being a bit vague about the difference between civil and criminal law? And possibly about the difference between disclosure (ie, when a party becomes aware that evidence exists) and inspection (ie, when you deliver that evidence that is already known to exist)?

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ThomH
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Re: Apple is refusing to hand over certain documents which might prove this one way or the other

Chad H and others above are correct. The point of the law is that people can't go to court and say 'I think The Ford Motor Company has been employing assassins to come round my house at night and move my bins; I demand they disclose appropriate paperwork on all contracts paid for in June so that I can check'. Such a system would quickly bring commerce to a halt as a million crackpots come out of the woodwork and insist on expansive document disclosure from every company they dislike.

Apple may be acting disingenuously — it's difficult to know without any idea what knowing the cost of documentary disclosure (eg, maybe the engineers emailed each other about it on and off for months; who's going to trawl through and find that stuff, and redact anything not related to the topic that happened to be in the same thread of conversation and is commercially sensitive?) — but the principle is solid.

I guess it's a bit like the idea that if the police can't prove you performed a crime then you shouldn't go to jail (although softer, because that's criminal and this is civil); the point is to prevent harassment by people (or authorities) on a fishing trip.

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Review: Livin' in the cloud with Google's new Chromebook Pixel

ThomH
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Re: Questions (@David Hicks)

Surely it depends how that SD card slot is wired up internally? It's normal for them to reside on the USB bus (just like the keyboard and trackpad, usually) so if a system is USB 2.0 only then the SD card slot is likely limited to that bandwidth.

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SimCity 2000

ThomH
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Re: @Flawless (@Sisk)

In this case Sim City 2000 remains on sale, via gog.com, for a grand total of $6. So regardless of the illegality of abandonware, ripping this game off has no moral justification either.

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Samsung Wallet slavishly copies inspired by Apple Passbook

ThomH
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@AC

More likely Samsung see the value in the idea and therefore think it's a useful* thing to add to their handsets. Because all it does is reproduce the well-established historical look of tickets on a digital screen they don't see any IP hurdle to including it.

I don't like the copying debate because it sort of endorses the idea that there's necessarily always something wrong in copying — that if any feature of your product has any close antecedent then you've no right to claim creativity. In this case it's clear that the Apple feature has inspired the Samsung but I don't see that there's anything wrong with that, especially if Samsung end up doing it better. On a technical level, Apple's implementation is very lacking as every app that wants to put something into the passbook has to push it there, which in most apps means making your booking then digging through submenus to find the 'put into Passbook' option. If I've booked something in a compatible app, the pass should just be there in the Passbook; I shouldn't have to think about whether it's pushed or pulled and I definitely shouldn't have to do anything manually.

* Freudian typo: sueful.

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New social network is for DEAD PEOPLE

ThomH
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"I think he would have liked that"

So now I can do it for him.

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That Firefox OS mobe: The sorta phone left behind after a mugging

ThomH
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I think Firefox OS could have a chance

FIrefox already has an established developer community so I don't think there's too much risk of early abandonment. Mozilla has shown no desire to sell parts of their software so I assume the licensing will be exactly like the browser — install the free package and there's no trade mark issues. That's unlike Android where you can't provide some components or use the name without paying a fee.

I therefore think the Firefox OS could make a play for the very low end; the area where unlicensed Android currently plays but with the advantage that if nothing underhand is going on then there's an opportunity for more legitimate companies to supply a more visible push.

It's not much of a chance but then I wouldn't have given Mozilla much of a chance in the early 2000s so I think it'd be foolish to write the thing off.

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Trekkies detect Spock's Vulcan homeworld ORBITING PLUTO

ThomH
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Re: Optional

That wasn't a vote, it was a write-in campaign, and I think it was pretty harmless considering the first USS Enterprise dates from 1775 and took part in the War of Independence.

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LG acquires webOS from HP – but not for mobile kit

ThomH
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Re: The best mobile OS in my view...

AmigaOS didn't even get a standard widget set until 1990 and never had protected memory. One therefore has to question the designation of 'best in class' when e.g. OS/2 supplied both in 1988.

Android, iOS and other handset OSes are designed so that the user never explicitly closes programs. That's why it isn't particularly intuitive on either of them — whether it's iOS's long press or Android's digging through the system settings. Thinking that you need to close programs is akin to a superstitious belief.

It is sad that people didn't want WebOS but it was pushed very heavily, with TV commercials featuring U2 and deliberate public spats with Apple (ending up in the USB Implementers Forum if memory serves) to get the bloggers on side. People simply didn't want it, because 'proper multitasking' actually isn't a feature they care about. The availability of Angry Birds, Temple Run, etc, is more interesting. Consumers are more interested in the total sum of what they can do with a device than with the technical way in which it is done.

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You've made an app for Android, iOS, Windows - what about the user interface?

ThomH
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Re: There are lots of cross-platform solutions

I think you're being seriously paranoid — proprietary toolkits are no more "designed to lock you into a particular platform" than cars are designed to pollute the air or houses are designed to reduce the amount of public space.

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Success for Einhorn: Judge blocks vote on Apple's Proposal 2

ThomH
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I think it's the combination of having $137bn in reserves and shares that are about a third down from their 52-week high that is probably bring people out of the woodwork. They probably feel either like they're owed a payout for loyalty or that it's worth chancing it anyway.

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