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* Posts by Paul Shirley

1336 posts • joined 19 Jun 2009

Google Nexus 7 2013: Fondledroids, THE 7-inch slab has arrived

Paul Shirley
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Re: I don't know why Google is allergic to storage expansion

They botched the storage architecture so badly that external SD tends to get used for things that should not be taken offline - like app storage. Yank the SD and "bad things" happen. Google applied their usual lazy response to problems, don't fix the problem, remove it by removing the feature.

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Canadian family gives up modern tech to live like it's 1986

Paul Shirley
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Re: Re:80's?

I still remember the pain being online on dialup brought to my phone bill every month and the rapidly building stack of computers I already owned in 1986, I'd already given away my Oric just to clear space.

Was the Reg told 1976 and heard 1986? That would just miss the 1st wave of all in one computers like the CBM PET and Apple II (both 1977). Even then there were computers in homes in 1976 (Apple 1 for instance).

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Xbox One launch date REVEALED - and it's on the 360's birthday

Paul Shirley
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"People not wanting to take the step forward into the digital age has put us back 10 years"

This utter horseshit needs to die today. There was never any need for so restrictive an online policy to implement the ill defined and unexplained 'digital age' features, despite the whining of the fans.

Don't believe me? Microsoft just announced the return of the first group of those supposedly lost features!

There was no legitimate reason for the compulsion for anyone not using the features. There was never an excuse for needing a connection just to play any arbitrary game. And Microsoft finally got round to admitting it can all be done voluntarily with a hell of a lot less intrusive and potentially experience wrecking connection requirement.

Time to STFU

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Paul Shirley
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@Atonnis re: fanbois

Fanbois are definitely the issue, pro fanbois can be relied on to facilitate launch sell outs with only minimal effort. That means launch day sales aren't reliable indications of anything - unless of course even the fanbois boycott the product OR you have enough stock to cover massive walk-up sales.

Selling out on pre-order pretty much excludes any non-fan sales, ordinary uncommitted buyers just don't do it. Xbox 180 was well on the way to pissing off enough XB fanbois to cause a problem though, hence the desperate u-turns. XB 180 is firmly in that 'no-one knows what it means' part of the graph. Back in the real world XB 360 is where the new games are and most owners aren't feeling any pressure to upgrade.

Me? I might throw £200 at a better-than-XB180/PS4 GPU and some more RAM for my PC. Cheaper games on a better box they already own seems to be interesting many of the console owners I've talked to as well.

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China, India the key to Micr-okia's fate says IDC

Paul Shirley
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Re: Lumia already run on "low-end" hardware - and how many apps one needs?

It's a fair claim that no number of available apps you don't want to use matters. That all that matters is if the ones you do want exist. Fair but incomplete.

A strong market does matter. It increases the chance that rare niche app only you and a 100 others want exists. It gives you a decent choice of competing apps where there is duplication - despite coming with built in browser, calendar, media player and clock apps I currently use better 3rd party versions on my phone.

If nothing else if spurs the platform holder to try harder with their own built in apps. Lack of a strong app environment is a sign of a weak platform in many different ways and affects even users that claim not to use downloaded apps.

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But it's only wafer thin: Skinniest keyboard EVER is designed by Camby biz

Paul Shirley
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Re: If they make it cheap enough

The big problem is lots of keyboards of all sorts of form factor have been offered to the market and (apart from BlackBerry) the market consistently said 'meh'.

I think there are 2 issues:

1: Most people just see no need, once they learn how to thumbtype SMS and email on a touchscreen they see no advantage to physical keyboards on small devices. TBH after typing on an iPad I can't see much need for anything better for what I'm going to use and despite loving the hard keys on my old G1 I can type just as fast on my newer 4" device touchscreen.

2: most of them are so poor to use in practice. And you're going to need to prop up or otherwise support the screen somehow, maybe cart around a stand and have severe constraints on positioning - just holding the device in a comfortable viewing position can feel easier and have better ergonomics. If you're going to inflict a flat, feedback free keyboard you might as well just use the flat version on screen, especially as the onscreen versions get smarter. The ergonomic issues make this a hard sell.

I can see other input methods (voice is nearly there) completely supplanting these clumsy hacks.

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HDMI 2.0 spec arrives ... 1.0 years late

Paul Shirley
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Re: Cat 2 Cables

600Mhz, right on top of Freeview C37. Let's hope all those cheap cat2 cables are all up to spec, not cheap knockoffs with barely functional shielding.

Though I doubt anyone using a 4K rig is going to be watching low bitrate, low res crap on Freeview to notice ;)

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Microsoft's $7.1bn Nokia gobble: Why you should expect the unexpected

Paul Shirley
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So:

MS fail to negotiate a Nokia buyout around 2 months back

Last week or so we discover Lenovo failed to negotiate a buyout

Today MS rush into a buyout

Tempting to think someone just shafted MS before Elop could destroy enough value, using Lenovo to panic them into hasty action. Wouldn't want them talking to Google or Samsung and buggering up the plan. Helped by Ballmer quitting, any trojan horse plan would need finishing in a hurry while people that knew about it were still employed - there won't be a paper trail.

If true, just how little is Nokia really worth right now if $7.2bil is assumed more than it's worth?

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Returning Acronis CEO plans Parallels universe

Paul Shirley
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They lost me after making no effort at all to get TI2012 to work on Win8 and an upgrade window to TI2013 that gave some users less than 4 months support. I got lucky with around 6month but it leaves a really bad taste.

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Storage vendors: You're next over the cliff after the server salesmen

Paul Shirley
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Re: Who sells storage to the cloud storage providers?

People forced to negotiate steeper bulk discounts ;)

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Microsoft: YES Windows 8.1 is finished, but NO you can't have it

Paul Shirley
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Given how buggy I find Win8 I struggle to see how 8.1 could make things worse, especially since they didn't touch anything in desktop mode where I'm daily confronted by glitchy shit. A 'let's block Start Menu workrounds' button is insignificant.

The strong suspicion has to be another last minute hack is about to be perpetrated on 8.1 to further discourage use of desktop mode, just like they yanked the actual menu code out of 8 RTM days before release. If they can delay fixes and break Classic Start Menu/Startisback etc. for even a week, that's a couple of users that might fall in love with Metro.

Except of course users installed those work rounds because they already rejected Metro, so hardly likely to work.

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Silicon daddy: Moore's Law about to be repealed, but don't blame physics

Paul Shirley
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Re: No improvements in chip architecture for economic reasons?

There's a 2nd economic force at work, the demand for more power is all but over in significant parts of the market. Not only is it getting more expensive to ramp up performance, the value of that extra performance to buyers is falling - once your PC is fast enough 95% of the time that next 5% isn't worth paying a lot for.

It's the same effect that's driving the move to lower power tablet and mobile devices, laptops before that and the massive slow down in PC replacement. Concentrating computing resources in data centres can keep the quest for more performance alive a while but we're heading for a world without a driving force behind extremely costly measures to keep Moores law going.

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Intel ships high-powered C++ compiler for native Android apps

Paul Shirley
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If you use NDK there's no other option but compiling for each target. NDK is there for raw speed and any platform you fall back to Java for (or rely on Intel's ARM->x86 translator layer) is crippled.

As I said up the page, with no x86 competition to monkey wrench there's no obvious downside to using Intels compiler. Apart from the insanely restrictive platforms it runs on. TBH though there's also not much point using it over gcc, there's so much variance in performance across Android devices losing a few percent hardly matters.

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Paul Shirley
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Outstandingly good at optimising *for genuine Intel* silicon. There have been consistent, believable claims of dirty tricks in the Intel compilers. Not just generating code poorly optimised for rival silicon, claims that extra code is inserted specifically to slow them down.

As a result Intel's compilers should be avoided unless you know the programmes will run on Intel silicon.

Luckily there doesn't seem much scope for fun&games on the Android version, with no hint any other x86 CPUs will ever be inflicted on it. There is the slim niche of Android on PC, it would be interesting seeing if the compiler messes with AMD machines even without any real reason to do it.

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BILLION DOLLAR BALLMER: Microsoft chief makes $1bn simply by quitting

Paul Shirley
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Re: Give the guy a break.

He did do us the massive favour of easing Sinovsky out before freeing up the job. If you think it's been bad with monkey boy in charge, Ballmer is just ramming bad product down throats, Sinovsky actually believes there's nothing wrong with it.

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Paul Shirley
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WOW!

Only 12 months till Microsoft can start digging themselves out of the shit.

Leave sooner Steve, there's another $bil in it for you...

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Ballmer's emotional farewell to Redmond: I LOVE THIS COMPANY

Paul Shirley
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@El Andy

Typical users don't drive any office software mass adoption, beyond using whatever crapware's preinstalled on their PC. Paying support fees for Linux software in business is much more likely though if there weren't so many obstacles along the way.

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Lenovo to ship all new PCs with Start Menu replacement

Paul Shirley
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http://uxstyle.com/ for the theming engine. Puts back about half what MS ripped out going W7->W8

http://xxinightxx.deviantart.com/art/Royale-8-337121007 will restore some XP/W7 polish to the window chrome

There are fixes for some of the remaining rough edges (like rounding off title bars properly) I haven't bothered with.

And 1 tip: don't touch the Win8 theming options once you add the above. If you do, uninstall/reinstall seems to be the only reliable way to restore the hacks.

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Acorn’s would-be ZX Spectrum killer, the Electron, is 30

Paul Shirley
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Re: 64KB claim of the Commodore 64 was a swizz

Not quite. BASIC probably did copy the 4K character ROM into RAM at the same mapped address (not going to find the manual to check). Everything else was simple bank switching, the RAM was still writable and usable for graphics even banked behind ROM.

The default memory map had 40K of contiguous user RAM, 38K available to BASIC and another 4K high block for direct access before doing anything tricky. Any graphics was on top of that, not taken from it. I had little problem using 60K of the RAM for games.

Was fairly similar on the other machines of the time, only the Electron and BBC seemed to have such crippling hard limits. I remember the painful explanations our BBC porting guy gave about squeezing games onto the Electron, requiring slicing the graphics then reassembling mirrored and rotated pieces in realtime. Further sapping performance.

Even lowly machines like the Oric were fully capable of paging large amounts of RAM into a simple, >32K memory space. Have to wonder what they were thinking at Acorn.

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Nokia's PHAB-ULOUS comeback attempt: Huge WinPho 8 mobe rumoured

Paul Shirley
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"I prefer to be different and not become borged"

...and that's why I'm not even considering IOS or WP and checking each Android device for strong customisation support, both stock and 3rd party replacement.

I'll be sticking to the market with a wild jungle of competition built over a core of compatibility. I choose what my device does and get a damn wide set of choices to make but still get to run all the apps.

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Paul Shirley
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Re: Stick an Atom processor in there and ship Windows

Sounds great.... perhaps bundle it with a stylus to make desktop mode software usable (why else would you need full Win8). Maybe add some letters to let people know its a super duper new version. How does Win8CE sound?

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Paul Shirley
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"strength continues to lie in its cheaper models"

Now remember that sales only crept upward when Lumia prices shot down with multiple budget builds. Nokia already played the 'budget' card and it's moved them from 'totally insignificant' to 'insignificant' in the smartphone market.

At some point it's time to give up pretending Nokia can compensate for the buyer repelling use of Winphone with better hardware and lower prices. It's visibly not working for them.

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Google cursed its own phones with wacked Wi-Fi, say Nexus users

Paul Shirley
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Re: but that application fills me with rage

Yes but is it any worse than it's ever been? Was bloody awful long before Android 4.anything.

I suppose Google pulled an Youtube on Microsoft and sabotaged the app. Remember you read it here first.

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MYSTERY of Guardian mobos and graphics cards which 'held Snowden files'

Paul Shirley
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Re: @AC 21st August 2013 11:48 GMT)

I'm pretty sure I could squeeze in an encryption key into the BIOS flash on my graphics card without too much trouble, already have tools able to edit it. Perhaps a key good for 400Gb of assorted data...

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Paul Shirley
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Re: Symbolism

The spooks are also allowed to think their orders are idiotic and conterproductive. They might not be able to tell the idiots ordering stupidity that with any effect, can't refuse to obey, but don't have to go beyond symbolism or make any attempt to make an action look less cretinous. After all, their names won't go public.

And unlike the police, they're usually smart enough to know when what they're doing makes no sense.

So yes, theatre. Perhaps not the theatre the politicians wanted though.

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YouTube Wars: Microsoft cries foul as Windows Phone app pulled again

Paul Shirley
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The licensing issue that screwed them is the problem: they have a choice of 2 licenses to provide YouTube (or 3 if you include handing the job off to the users browser), instead of picking 1 and complying with it's conditions, they've used the permissions of one and the obligations of the other.

They invented their own licence in effect. They either need to get fully compliant with a real licence on offer or stay blocked. Tweaking just parts of the non-compliant behaviour doesn't fix that. But Microsoft aren't in a mood to ignore any excuse to throw more shit at Google so this farce continues.

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Paul Shirley
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Re: Some toy throwing going on here.

"Whether Google are within their rights to subsequently block anything with a Redmond whiff knocking at their API... "

Their licence is for accessing YouTube data. How they do it and then use that data is controlled by the licence. How they got the api doesn't matter even if it was protectable. It's all about the data, which definitely is protectable.

BTW The oracle v Google judgement did not say all APIs aren't protectable. It explicitly states the ruling is specific to that one case, not a general precedent.

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Paul Shirley
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Wake up. Microsoft is evil and they couldn't get much worse.

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Starwing: Nintendo, Argonaut's Brit boffinry and the Super FX chip

Paul Shirley
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the MegaCD, FAIL all the way through

It's hard to understate just how mind numbingly bad the MegaCD was, little more than a bare CD drive with no useful firmware or tools, most annoyingly no file system - you had to write your own ISO driver and file system builder. Acceleration functions barely faster than using the 68K CPU, probably unavoidable in a system without direct frame buffer access.

A system doomed for failure, painful to work with and I was very glad when the project I'd been working on got cancelled.

The FX chip had a big advantage, even sitting on the wrong side of a cartridge, it had more direct access to memory, instead of injecting graphics through a narrow write port. Hardly surprising it did the job so much better. If they really did pull out of Playstation because MegaCD failed, that's really unfortunate, it should have performed much better.

Still, we did get the Sony version out of that withdrawal.

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Google: Cloud users have 'no legitimate expectation of privacy'

Paul Shirley
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sadly it's the nature of email transmission

email is the equivalent of sending a postcard, you hope no-one bothers reading it but that's all it is - hope. Anyone the data transits through can intercept your mail, always been that way and until we get a universal secure delivery system it will continue that way.

Want privacy, put it in an envelope, encrypt your mail end to end. Disappointing but that's the ongoing reality of email.

Even more disappointing that new users only discover that when a shock headline appears, though quite how anyone could miss the constant warnings that Google do this is a mystery. Microsoft alone seem to have a whole PR operation endlessly grinding out reminders about it.

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Make or break: Microsoft sets date for CRUCIAL Win 8.1 launch

Paul Shirley
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Re: Once computers are the desk

...the lawsuits for neck pain will start rolling in. Staring at where you hands comfortably sit on a desk is not something anyone should do all day.

When will people finally accept that touch is a solution to specific problems (like tiny devices with nowhere to put any other input), not something worth chasing for it's own sake and definitely not something to force into all use cases regardless of common sense. Allowing it everywhere for occasional, optional use makes sense, enforcing it everywhere never will.

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Does Gmail's tarted-up tab makeover bust anti-spam laws?

Paul Shirley
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Re: Promotions tab?

Since it appears to default to off they didn't really have an argument to negate!

...and when I tried turning it on, still no ads anyway.

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There she blows! Mid-October release date for Windows 8.1 sighted

Paul Shirley
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one last chance to hack more legacy support out?

Remembering that MS were yanking out desktop code just a week before Win8 RTM, it's hard not to wonder what last minute monkey wrenching they have planned this time.

Luckily, by installing into a 32Gb partition it looks like I can't actually apply this update without wasting a whole day resizing partitions. So no temptation to waste time on it.

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Larry Ellison: Google is ABSOLUTELY EVIL, but NSA is ESSENTIAL

Paul Shirley
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"I don't see how he thinks you can just copy someone else's stuff."

It's pretty simple Larry E:

1: hire lawyers to check the licences

2: follow their advice scrupulously about what is allowed under those licences

Ellisons problem is Google understands Oracles licences better than Oracle does. Not a big surprise someone like Larry E didn't understand the implications of permissive licences, even ones deliberately booby trapped like Java. As it is, having been alerted to just how screwed they are, Oracle are busy trying to find loopholes to make the licence rights less useful. Not working out well for him.

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Xbox 180: Microsoft scraps mandatory Kinect policy

Paul Shirley
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"Sony's consoles have been harder to develop for"

Meanwhile, those of us that were paying attention (or not being paid to post BS) noticed XBone and PS4 are all but identical. Same CPU, same GPU, same memory architecture, same RAM count. OGL and DX11 are almost interchangeable.

The differences: to help it's slower DDR3 keep up with the PS4s DDR5, XBone wasted transistors on extra cache and lots of RAM<->cache copy hardware. Transistors PS4 spent on 25% more GPU stream processors. Meaning XBone is both fundamentally slower AND harder to program this time round!

Of course you can just as easily put the equivalent hardware in a PC now. The one difference is only OpenGL added support for unified memory architectures as a core function, so PS4 games will be easier to port to those PCs. Can you guess which one developers are likely to gravitate towards?

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Paul Shirley
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It's still $100 cheaper and that $100 Kinect premium is now for a device many will never even plug in ;)

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Paul Shirley
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Re: " cloth to elegantly drape over the Kinect camera"

...which won't disable the 'sensitive microphone array' built into Kinect.

Arguably audio surveillance would be more worrying than grabbing video. Depending on exactly how sensitive that array is it could cover much more than the camera sees and it's more likely to disclose genuinely worrying stuff - your bank passwords, security question or details for example. Block video and no embarrassing YouTube posts, audio is where you're life will be fscked over for identity theft or blanket state spying.

The original XBone plan definitely left the microphone array permanently enabled...

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Waiting for a Windows Phone update? Let's talk again next year

Paul Shirley
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Re: Nokia Lumia 620 ...

...especially was the 2010 phone was at the budget end of midrange at launch!

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Apple wins Samsung import ban, loses 'Battle of Rounded Corners II'

Paul Shirley
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Re: Trade war

A Korean ban on component exports to America would be more effective.

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Xbox One users will have to pay extra for Skype and gamer-gratifying DVR

Paul Shirley
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Re: " its not hard to point it at a wall or put a duster over it"

...won't disable those oh-so-sensitive microphone arrays in the Kinect. The ones that listen for the 'on' command even with Kinect supposedly disabled. No chance of abusing that...

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Paul Shirley
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Re: 20$ for a mono headset?

The actual complaint was that users existing headsets wouldn't work with the new socket. I guess they decided pissing off 360 owners who'd bought better headsets wasn't important compared to throwing another freebie at new owners. So that's a whole pile of existing core gamers required to spend more money buying a headset plug adaptor and new owners that probably would have been happy with Kinect audio getting another reason not to use Kinect!

Demonstrating Microsofts infallible ability to hear feedback then do anything but address the problem. They just keep digging.

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Paul Shirley
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Re: @But Kinect 2 is far more powerful than anything the PS4 has in that space

Doesn't really matter how powerful it is if no one wants to use it. So far there's been almost no interest in the dev community and there's not even much sign of pressure from above to do interesting things with it. Just like Kinect on 360, it looks destined to be ignored by game developers.

There's also talk that the improvements aren't in practice very useful. The oft repeated 'give commands to your team with finger gestures' example, someone with access to Kinect 2 claims it can't actually track fingers to do that!

We also know that the few attempts to make interesting Kinect games for core gamers were an absolute disaster, unreliable and laggy. No core gamer is going to willingly abandon low latency, reliable joypad control for 60ms of Kinect2 lag.

It's another feature that Microsoft needs but no one else does. It's going to be a great remote control for XBone as a media centre. And that's all it's ever going to be used for.

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ULTIMATE cuppa contenders prepare to go mug-to-mug

Paul Shirley
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Re: 12 Contenders - No, No only 11

Once you dump cow juice in the mug they'll taste the same anyway.

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Penguins, I give you: The SOLAR-POWERED Ubuntu laptop

Paul Shirley
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Re: bad bad bad design!

I'd guess the thinking was that a device designed for use off grid in rough conditions isn't something you'd casually leave lying in the sun when not using it. Leave it deliberately in charging configuration yes, otherwise keep it safely in its case. Still a serious oversight though.

Even better if they could safely build a backpack that exposed the panels while trekking, a very likely use.

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Can't agree on a coding style? Maybe the NEW YORK TIMES can help

Paul Shirley
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Re: 4 SPACES?!

"And why does an if need a block after it?"

Defensive programming. It stops you making an idiotic mistake later when adding a 2nd statement to the if. We've all made that mistake... not that I'm claiming I always do the bracing, it has however saved me a lot of debugging time since I got into the habit.

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Microsoft cuts Surface Pro price by $100

Paul Shirley
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Re: If your priorities are price and storage why are you considering a Surface pro?

That seems to be exactly the question potential buyers are asking themselves.... and not buying Surface.

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Win XP alive and kicking despite 2014 kill switch (Don't ask about Win 8)

Paul Shirley
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@danny: seamless migration of applications from XP

Epic Microsoft stupidity (or arrogance). Normal users face a choice of losing everything or sticking with XP. IT geeks install a dual boot so they can take time rescuing old data and apps.

I've had to drop back into my XP backup several times to fix Win8 problems or where it's easier than trying to reinstall and configure programs. The temptation to just switch back is strong and the lack-of-upgrade process just makes it easier. Of course during those sessions I went online, bumping that XP count an insignificant amount!

That must have been a frosty management meeting, where the engineers tried explaining why they couldn't make this a one way only update this time ;)

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Paul Shirley
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The extra long time between XP and Vista was not by choice. They couldn't get the product finished and I believe cancelled the 1st broken attempt, then rushed Vista out without much thought or user testing. MS would have tried killing XP on schedule otherwise. Vista meant they couldn't kill it even with a new product on sale.

The only significant difference with XP is they released free service packs that changed XP about as much as the 95 -> 98 -> ME upgrades changed 95.

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The O2 4G Lottery: Are YOU in one of the three LUCKY cities?

Paul Shirley
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Re: 98% of nothing

Remember, O2 had to be *forced* to honour their 3G coverage agreement. Even after several years frantically upgrading to keep the licence their service is still shite in large areas and they've done little to deal with congestion. So more coverage but it's still not actually usable in my local city centre.

So you're gambling the regulator will proactively coerce O2 into reaching those targets. That's not a bet I'd take.

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So, who here LURVES Windows Phone? Put your hands up, Brits

Paul Shirley
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Re: The basics

I believe you meant to type 'how fast it is to uninstall the Facebook crapp' ;)

By and large any recent smartphone is good enough at the 'things phones do' that it doesn't merit mentioning. It's no longer a differentiator.

Orlowski used to endlessly bang on about the supposed superiority of WP7's people hub/unified messaging (or whatever it's called). Even he's given up flogging that dead horse, WP wasn't first with the idea and some of us don't find the implementation or concept superior anyway. Where software's involved your idea of 'working well' may be radically different to mine.

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