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* Posts by sandman

348 posts • joined 8 Jul 2009

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Innovation creates instability, you say? BLASPHEMY, you SCUM

sandman

Meretricious marketing mumbling

Go to virtually any software/services company website and you'll get to read plenty about innovation and change and how the product/services will solve all your company's problems/create world peace and cure cancer. What you won't find is actually what they do or wan to sell to you. I know, I've worked for a few of them and in some cases even I couldn't figure out what we did from the website

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IBM Hursley Park: Where Big Blue buries the past, polishes family jewels

sandman

Great Place

I visited there a few times when working with one of their Virtual Reality guys back in the 90s - very cutting edge at the time. Mostly of course down in a basement. What is it with IT and basements?

The VR itself was amazing - try an "escaping from a burning oil rig" simulation. I seem to remember the sweary, Scottish voice of the forman yelling instructions and actually forgetting that I was in a nice room in a posh mansion with a fat pair of goggles on.

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Right, Turkey – elections are over. You can use Twitter again

sandman

Two different Turkeys

To generalise, Erdogan's support base is amongst the working class and those who'd like a more religious constitution, not the middle-class, secularist, urban twitterati. The gap between the two visions for Turkey's future looks like becoming more profound.

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Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

sandman

Re: Causes cancer, prevents cancer...

Speak for yourself earthling!

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Newsnight goes sour on Tech City miracle

sandman

Plenty of other Roundabouts

Hoxton is probably fine for a media orientated startup, but bugger all use when you try and scale. If you want to grow a company (rather than just try and flog some IP to Google) you need space, reasonable rates and parking. You'll find successful British IT companies in all sorts of odd places - often on edge of town business parks in places like Guildford, Ealing, etc, etc. There are usually roundabouts involved, particularly if you're based near Basingstoke...

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Putin and pals dump Apple's iPads for Samsung slabs... over security concerns

sandman

Re: At least one US President

Damn, uncovered at last :-(

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sandman

Re: At least one US President

Great idea - given the quality of my handwriting I'd feel really sorry for any spook who tried to read it - six months on even I can't read what I wrote ;-)

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Original iPhone dev team was 'shockingly small' - Apple engineer

sandman

Couldn't agree more with most of the comments so far. One of the reasons for the success of the iPhone was that it didn't look like it was designed by a committee. Small, focused and well lead teams are the way to go. We're very lucky where I work, we do have a small team, a VP who sees his role as setting us tasks and tough but achievable deadlines and then making sure nobody else interferes with our progress - almost work bliss ;-)

5
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British trolls to face 'tougher penalties' over online abuse

sandman

Serendipitous

Just as we're meant to clearing room in our prisons by stopping jailing BBC licence fee payers we can fill those vacant slots with trolls. That's what I call joined-up policy ;-)

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Intel reinvents the PC as giant 'Black Brook' fondleslab

sandman

Tray

Why not use it as a handy tray? To be fair, we do carry our Sony all-in-one around like that and now have bulging arm muscles.

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BuzzGasm: 9 Incredible Things You Never Knew About PLIERS!

sandman

Re: Missed opportunity here

Have +5 internet points for the first time I've seen "cladogram" used outside a serious discussion of evolutionary biology :-)

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Barclays warns freelance techies of DOUBLE DIGIT rate cut

sandman

Short-sighted

As a contractor you know you have little or no protection against rate cuts, etc. If you feel strongly about it you just find a better contract (this works best when times are good obviously). The problem for the company is that the more experienced contractors (those in most demand) leave and are replaced by less experienced ones. This causes delays and other problems while the new guys get up to speed. It's not a great way to ensure critical projects are finished on time and to a high enough quality or that the infrastructure continues working smoothly.

This kind of myopic short-termism isn't a great incentive to go and work for Barclays.

4
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Google picks five teams to share $6 MEEELLION funding in Lunar X Prize

sandman

Re: Phase two - Robot Wars ON THE MOON please

You're encouraging armed robots to evolve? We all know how well that turns out for us ;-)

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Retiring greybeards force firms to retrain Java, .NET bods as mainframe sysadmins

sandman

Building from the ground up

As Chris says, it would most likely involve building from the ground up. Many of these systems are more patched than Frankenstein. Over the years (most likely decades) functionality has been added to the basic systems, often programmed in different languages by people who left long ago.

It is a genuine nightmare for many of the larger institutions.

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'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

sandman

Re: @Oliver Mayes

Oh good lord yes, we introduced change control to a company that had never used it before and requests went down from around 200 (seriously) to about 3 a week. Suddenly projects got completed on time and to budget. The company eventually went bust when they put a director in charge of the company's biggest and most critical project who refused to use any form of change control. After calling endless meetings (one a day, minimum) to discuss why the project wasn't up to date and micro managing every single detail, the project foundered, as did the company.

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Apple plans to waggle iNormous 4½-incher in fanbois' faces

sandman

Phablet

Phablet, Phablet, Phablet, Phablet, etc...

5
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Walking while texting can – OUCH! – end badly, say boffins

sandman

Anecdotal Evidence

Yep, it is bleeding obvious to anyone who walks down the street. So was the "fact" that the sun went round the earth every 24 hours. Then some bright spark decided that the opposite was true (despite being persecuted by Popes and possibly sylvan dwelling/defacating ursines). Once proven everyone went "oh yeah, that was obvious, dunno why that Galileo bloke wasted his time".

Now we know that our anecdotal evidence is correct and why, so we're straight into the "oh yeah, that was bleeding obvious" stage ;-)

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Samsung Nexus S beats Galaxy S III – at detecting GAMMA RAYS

sandman
Mushroom

Totally equipped

Excellent - now I've got a useful warning device to go with my tinfoil hat, lead-lined boxers and iodine tablets ;-)

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Pesky protesters FORCE GOOGLE STAFF INTO THE SEA

sandman

Re: Shalmaneser when?

Damn you for mentioning Shalmaneser, now I'm going to have to waste a couple of days reading the book again ;-)

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Enraged by lengthy Sky broadband outage? Blame BT Openreach cable thieves

sandman

Re: A simple suggestion

Ah, the smell of roast long pig.

9
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Los Angeles' weather is just like MORDOR, says Brit climate prof

sandman

Only one little problem

Nice to have the model - only testing it against "real world" data might prove a little tricky. Oh, and did the eruption of Mount Doom reduce the global warming caused by Saruman's industrial revolution?

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If you want an IT job you'll need more than a degree, say top techies

sandman

Random degrees

Quite a few of us stumbled into IT by accident. My first degree is in archaeology as was my career, but as technology developed I found myself learning CAD, then 3D CAD, then web design/editing and eLearning. Since I could use one of those new-fangled Babbage engines, I involuntarily ended up doing unofficial support, network design, etc, etc. Then I found out that the salaries in IT were double what I was earning as a senior(ish) archaeologist, so switched careers so fast I left scorch marks on the exit .

I've since met a whole bunch of folk in various roles and positions in IT with degrees in everything else but computing - most learned on the job or as a hobby. I did later do an MSc in It, but it wasn't sufficiently advanced to really bother with, it was hard to create curricula to keep up with the advances being made in the 90s.

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NASA invites you to sleepover: Stay up and watch 'FIREBALL RICH' Geminid shower

sandman

Dark sky

Excellent - I'll be in Lanzarote (and not in a big resort either) so for just once I might be able to get a decent view….

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Inside Steve Ballmer’s fondleslab rear-guard action

sandman

Re: No, Liam, I won't be using a fondleslab as my primary computer.

Too right, as I sit here with two high end laptops and three screens, creating interactive lessons, editing audio and video, I wonder how easy it would be to do on a slab. No, really, I don't :-) I've been knocking out stuff for people to consume for a couple of decades (or so). It doesn't really matter what on, dead trees, no problem, big screens, got that covered, slabs and phones, hell yes.

I'm not sure that it will be possible in the near future to do all this via a slab using cloud/server-based software and storage, there's a little too much latency and unreliability involved for my taste. I believe (so will probably be wrong given my prognostication record) that there will still be a market for desktops/laptops, just a much smaller and more professional one.

Basically, consumers and many professions don't need the traditional computer, as they don't actually "compute" - we still do.

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Digital GIANTS in BLOODY battle to put your EYEBALLS in a JAR

sandman

Oh lucky us

Great, we get to choose from such a restricted set of rapacious capitalist bastards (allegedly, your honour). It's a pity about FAGAMe, FAGIN would work much better ;-)

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Best budget Android smartphone there is? Must be the Moto G

sandman

Nice

If I didn't like my phone so much (and I couldn't do without Here Maps and their downloadable maps) I'd definitely give this a whirl, sounds great for the price. My favourite dumb phone was the tiny Motorola Pebble, so only have good memories of the company - missed out on the "bad" phones ;-)

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PS4 with Black Friday underway: TOUGH, you CAN'T HAVE ONE!

sandman

Sadly...

...I'm betting that there will be a good number of people who will… "Borrow the £350 necessary to buy a PS4 and you'll only have to stump up £108.31 in fees and interest if you pay it back within 29 days."

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Samsung hauls in chiefs for 'CRISIS awareness' confab – report

sandman

Re: So many Anonymous Cowards

"We're definitely in an incremental increase phase for mobile phones at the moment." Agreed, I made the same comment in another discussion a week or two ago. I really can't see where the next major development in phones is coming from. I like what Nokia are doing with their cameras and Sony with waterproofing, but nothing else recently has got my interest genes twitching.

It seems that phones are very much like PCs/Laptops now, a mature form factor where the differentiators boil down to a matter of favoured OS, build quality, price and taste (colour, size, etc).

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3D printing: 'Third industrial revolution' or a load of old cobblers?

sandman

Re: Right now I can see only specialist application

True, but there are a lot of specialist requirements out there. One use I can see is making obsolete components. Say for example your company still has a use for a dot matrix printer (true case). One tiny but vital part breaks and you can't get it fixed because nobody makes that little thing anymore. That's a trivial example, but there is a whole world of difficult to fix machinery out there.

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Antidote for poisonous Aussie Red-Back Spider venom DOESN'T WORK

sandman

Re: Placebo effect?

Absolutely true - the effects of stress on both the speed of transmission of venom around the body and of the mental state of the patient have been known for a long time. Even if bitten by a pretty venomous snake you are advised to keep calm (very, very difficult) and relax while help is (hopefully) on the way. You can get pretty near to frightening yourself to death. Oh, and knocking back the booze won't help much either :-(

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'PATHETIC' Galaxy Gear sales skewer smartwatch HYPE-O-GASM bubble

sandman

Got a watch

There's this lump of stainless steel on my wrist - tells the time and date. It's waterproof, doesn't mind being dropped and doesn't even have a battery. I find each one lasts a decade or more before getting lost/nicked or suffering some sort of major catastrophe.

Why in the name of Satan and all his little imps would anyone actually want something less functional, aesthetically pleasing, durable and reliable?

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MANUAL STIMULATION: Whack me with some proper documentation

sandman

Xara

Those nice people still send out paper manuals (at least for the Designer Pro software) - even when you purchase the download version :-)

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BIG, CURVY Apple models: Just right for SLAP AND TICKLE

sandman

Mature technology

It does seem if phones have now reached some sort of plateau of maturity. Most have a similar form factor, run for a reasonable (if not great) amount of time, have fairly mature OSs (and yes, I'm including Win and even Blackberry here) and are operated in roughly the same way.

There are plenty of incremental improvements that can be made, thumbs up to Sony for waterproofing for example and Nokia for trying something new in the camera department.

It's going to be more and more difficult for any company to claim that you must buy their phone because it has made a great leap forward, so attempts to differentiate with curves, tassels and bells are something we'll be putting up with for a while.

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Sail HO! Look out Bay Area - it's the GOOGLE GALLEON

sandman

Cape Fear River

If you're ever in Wilmington, take a boat trip up the river - it is a bit spooky, increased salinity in the river has caused many of the trees along the banks to die, so there are all these bleached skeletal trees there… (lots of them have nesting Ospreys, very cool, but distracts from the spookiness).

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'Tablet' no longer means 'iPad': Apple share PLUMMETS below 30%

sandman

Niche Product

iPads and iPhones should be regarded as niche products, not mass market. People buy what they can afford, or what they aspire to owning, and it's Apple's true genius to market their products as aspirational ones.

As the market for tablets grows Apple's market share should diminish, while numbers sold should carry on increasing, although more slowly. As long as they are perceived to be "the best", they will continue to be able to make a disproportionate profit. Not a bad position to be in.

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Dark matter: Good news, everyone! We've found ... NOTHING AT ALL

sandman

Don't be afraid of the dark

With apologies to Pink Floyd...

There is no dark matter really. Matter of fact it's all dark.

4
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Want to keep the users happy? Don't call them users for a start

sandman

All Users

Even the most experienced of us (that really doesn't mean me) are users to some other sysadmin/help desk jockey, etc, unless you know everything about every bit of technology/software that you use at work or at home.

So, be nice to your clients/customers/colleagues/whatever, or the wheel of karma will come full circle when you need support ;-)

3
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In a meeting with a woman? For pity's sake DON'T READ THIS

sandman

Re: Speaking of rudeness...

Or, if the management decide you must attend a meeting, even though you are in the departure hall of a really busy airport, so all they end up with is tannoy, static and children's screams.

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US aviation watchdog approves $75K balloon ride into SPAAAACE!

sandman

Never fly strictly sober!

It's a good job there's a bar on board. The question is, can you drink enough in the climb and hang around phase to make you comatose for the "gravity powered screaming plunge of terror". (Thanks for that lovely mental image Pete).

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How to find OS X Mavericks' 43 hidden photogenic beauties

sandman

Re: It blows my mind

"Apple still has no need for a Patch Tuesday to ensure people get any work done in between the rebooting."

Bloody well does this time, several bits of our software that worked perfectly happily until Mavericks was installed just died.

Not proprietary software either, things like the corporate-wide VPN software and Adobe Captivate. Waiting for patch Tuesday now ;-)

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Reg mobile correspondent Bill Ray hangs up his Vulture hat

sandman

So long and have fun!

I hear there's a vacancy at Delphi for an Oracle ;-)

2
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How I BLEW my co-workers' HEADS OFF ... without going to jail

sandman

Indoor Cricket

Make a ball of parcel tape (requires a considerable amount). Any straight thing will do as a bat. Use one or two handed depending on length of straight thing. Devise rough rules and a rougher boundary. Play. Under no circumstances use a real cricket ball - unless company bust and you've all been laid off.

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Microsoft: Ha ha, my Wall Street friends - THIS time the victory is OURS

sandman

Re: You guys.....

How dare you sir! Don't you know that showing the slightest hint of the merest intention of possibly even faintly praising Microsoft is viewed as heresy here. Off to the stake with you!

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They've taken my storage hostage ... now what?

sandman

Re: Backups, backups, backups!

Yep, backups do work, whether for corporate data or personal machines. It's little things like installing a new OS version yesterday and finding it borks some vital software, even if the testers didn't spot it at the time. (I'm not naming names, because it can happen with any new OS).

How to repair, simples, you've got a backup, just find the last sane version and restore.

You haven't, oh deary, deary me.

Your New Jersey data center gets flooded - you have offsite backups somewhere a bit higher? Fantastic.

Despite ALL the warnings someone in PR downloads a famously virus-laden email and infects half the company (true story) - you have decent backups? Yes, excellent.

JFDI, it's not bloody rocket science.

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Locked into fixed-term mobile contract with variable prices? Not on our watch – Ofcom

sandman

Customer Retention

Is anyone else old enough to remember when companies used to reward loyal customers? You know, the longer you stayed with them the better deal you got? Insurance premiums on cars used to go down the longer you stayed with the insurer (assuming you didn't actually claim anything) for example. Now you have to switch every year to get a reasonable deal, yet they still complain about churn.

I've worked with a whole bunch of companies in the consumer sector, they all complain about churn, but then bring out policies that have customers fleeing in droves - very, very odd/

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Here comes Windows 8.1! Microsoft grits teeth, pushes upgrade to world

sandman

Four way split

I'm thinking (and given my reputation for getting every single trend totally wrong, caveat emptor) that the popular tech market is / is going to split into four sections.

1. Luxury/aspirational = Apple

2. Business (laptop, desktop and some server) = Mostly Microsoft with lots of Linux on the server side and some Apple on the laptop/desktop.

3. General Consumer = mostly Android, Apple where 1. applies and Microsoft where business compatibility affects buying decisions or for gaming or "creative" uses (where 1. doesn't apply).

4. High-end computing = Linux (lots and lots of it) Unix, Microsoft and various bespoke OSs, inc the IBM ones.

No one dominant company across the spectrum of computing and plenty of opportunity for competition

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Nokia, Indian upstart square up to Google's mighty mapping empire

sandman

Re: That's a lot of effort to go to

Free on all Windows phones - although the maps aren't sometimes as detailed as Google's splendid offering. The fact that you can download individual country maps and use them offline with GPS is a real bonus for driving (and sometimes hiking) abroad or when there ain't no signal in this country.

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Will you strap on a Google KitKat 4.4 smartwatch this month?

sandman

Re: Good efforts

That really is the point - we don't know which technology will be widely adopted. When tablets came out I just thought - meh, can't see a use for them - and how wrong was I? I didn't realise that most people don't need a "real" computer, just something to consume media on, play a few games and use as a comms tool.

Since I can't see the point of smart watches y'all might think of buying stock in any company making them ;-)

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Double-click? Oh how conventional of you, darling!

sandman

Training optional???

A quote from one of our salespeople.

"Our software is so intuitive, users won't need training".

Ha, ha, ha.

Oh, Hyundai Coupes have a nice trick, the indicators and wipers are on the opposite sides of the steering column to most other cars, hence occasional frantic wiper action when approaching a junction.... and then on holiday you hire a normal car - guess what happens.

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