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* Posts by ql

315 posts • joined 22 Jul 2009

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Bash bug flung against NAS boxes

ql
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Smoke, yes, but is there a fire?

I don't want to belittle this issue, but a lot of reports from security firms have spoken about "actively exploiting" but what does that mean? Is it that they have seen network traffic or honeypot attacks, or that the attacks have succeeded? It still seems to me that while the potential for shellshock to be severe is great, the actual typical implementations of how bash is used reduces that potential significantly.

Definitely not belittling the issue, but it would be interesting to see info on successful attacks rather than traffic attempts, and interesting to see data from relatively dispassionate security researchers rather than companies with magic bullets to flog.

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So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code

ql
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Re: Back in a time where...

> I lived the day,

Yeah, I'm also feeling my age... In its heyday, Lotus123 WAS personal computing. I eventually ceased to be amazed to find beancounters writing their letters in 123, using rows as lines, all done because 123 was their universe. You messed with this at your peril, and 2.1 was the absolute pinnacle, with reasonable memory demands and a wealth of add-ins. I recall the wonder of seeing for the first time the rows and columns populated from an Oracle database running on a Sequent, a miracle of integration at that time.

Then came the dog that was version 3. A half hearted attempt to be graphical, a memory hog and oh, so slow.

It was also a time when others were trying to get in on the act. There was a brilliant shareware clone of 123 called "As East As" which was equally fast, used less memory at a time when every byte of the 640 in the machines was important. But it didn't say "Lotus 123" so was unacceptable. Borland tried with Quattro, again, technically superior, in my opinion, but Lotus could do little wrong, so the users rejected these.

We were heavily invested in 123, but then we thought that Windows was looking like the future. My boss and I set up meetings with Lotus development and Microsoft to develop our own strategic approaches - this in the days when mere users really could set up meetings with software companies. We came away from those meetings with the understanding that Lotus was going to wait to see how things panned out, and had no real Windows strategy, while Microsoft said "Yes, we know we need to catch up, but here's what our plans are." To a large extent, they did what they said they would do. Lotus simply thought they'd be able to control the future and dropped the ball. After those meetings, we went to Excel and Word in spite of a very shaky start, and really never bothered with Lotus after that.

The one exception was Lotus Agenda. It's still available for download. It was a hard-to-describe piece of brilliant personal management software which Lotus thought they'd put into Notes, but never did.

I miss my youth....

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Canberra drone team dances a samba in Outback Challenge

ql
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Should have been given a disk, not a grid, to search....

Is it true that they modelled the water drop algorithms by studying the accuracy of FourEcksian dropbears?

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Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week

ql
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If there's been an outbreak of truthiness, and as the last one was such a dog, how about

Windows K9

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Apple 'Genius': iPhone 6? We've had NO COMPLAINTS about our BENDY iThing

ql
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Happy

> Mostly women from my informal survey.

Did the judge believe you?

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MOM: CHEAP Mars ship got it right first time. Nice one, India

ql
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Re: Excellent job!!!!

As it happens I was re-watching Michael Wood's excellent programmes on Indian history last night. This seems to be the latest in a very long line of amazing ideas coming from that area. Much respect.

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Microsoft vs the long arm of US law: Straight outta Dublin

ql
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Failed Business/IT model

Given all this and the other cases we know about, the obvious way to route around it is to give "the cloud" a miss. We all know it's mere marketing-speak for rented services anyway, and nothing that cannot be pulled in-house. Unfortunately, it's not until a non-US company gets bitten on the bum and it's a demonstrable risk that the average corporate suit will take any heed to this.

Meanwhile, I pity the many universities where students are forced to use US managed services like outlook. This ruling stifles any research where sources need protection, and I'm sure other use cases with similar jeopardy will occur.

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THE DEATH OF ECONOMICS: Aircraft design vs flat-lining financial models

ql
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FAIL

One factor left out - The System

> it doesn’t matter who wins the next election

The reason why it doesn't matter who wins the next election, and why economic issues are not going to be any different, is that we are now cottoning on to the fact that it doesn't matter what colour is in charge, because their ideologies are exactly the same. The king is dead, long live the king. What's worse. the article left out one significant positive feedback loop - that the gap between rich and poor is growing and that more of us are on the poor side of that gap.

Over the past 30 years, those in government have shown they have a scant understanding of international law, let alone the complexities of the economy, and every hue of government has simply delivered more of the same. Douglas Adams was right - those who want to govern are the least capable of doing so. Maybe it's time we stopped playing their game, take our ball away (it is our ball after all) and played a game to our rules.

Anyone know of a political party with differing ideologies these days?

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Lumia rebrand begins: Nokia's new UK web home is Microsoft.com

ql
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Re: Finally

> If they advertise it right,

The current range of ads really is appalling, unless their target audience is the class of male, jaded, exhausted one-dimensional corporate bods, in which case, good work.

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JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!

ql
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IT Angle

IT angle?

I do have a vote tomorrow, and I do not believe I am alone in taking much of what the politicians on all sides are saying with a large pinch of salt. The most recent proof of that is the outrageous "vows" (their word) to do this, that or the other, which have already been the subject of "oh really?" comments by back-benchers.

But in the IT and business world, if you were, say, looking at outsourcing your entire IT or moving it to the cloud, you'd look at the nature of the business, the outcomes you believe you and the business wish to achieve, the short term risk factors and the longer term likely outcomes, amongst other things. Unless you're very inexperienced, you would not go to two vendors, and believe their salesdroids when they tell you why your business is the very thing that's tailor-made for their offering, how they're losing on the deal, but it's worth the prestige to them, and all the other marketing-speak that lasts right up to the moment you sign on the dotted line. You have your own standards and your own views about how best to deliver IT, and you choose the model to fit.

I would suggest that many people are using such an approach to the referendum. We really have been discussing this in day-to-day situations, amongst each other for 2 years or more. There's clear understanding here that the referendum is a fork in the road, not a short-term political choice, and all this with a backdrop of party political promises which have a long and nasty record of being empty, especially in the Scottish context such as the 1979 referendum on devolution.

The issue is one of aspiration, not one that's amenable to totting up the pro's and cons. There's nothing unique in two countries that once were together re-establishing themselves, the Czech Republic and Slovakia being the most obvious that spring to mind. There's also no way anyone can claim that Scotland is not a productive enough country, even a rich one. And I think there are few who would claim that on Friday, in the event of a Yes vote, things will suddenly be different. In other words, if this comes about, it's not a unique change, but will be an expression of the will of the people regarding how they wish to be governed, Simple democracy, that's all.

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SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn

ql
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Re: This announcement worries me

> Now I am *really* worried - does Micro Focus actually have any commitment to Linux

You have a point, and I suspect only time will tell. Poor SuSE does seem to have had a rough time with buyers not really getting what a Linux distro is and does, but on the whole it's not gone too badly. Novell started badly and ended not too badly, Attachmate realised quite early that SuSE should remain separate. MicroFocus should understand the mainframe/mini world and its specialisms, but may commit a marketing foul.

The mine canary will probably be MF's relationship with OpenSuSE. If it continues to allow autonomy for that project, but still support it, all should be well. Meanwhile, test your systems on Debian... Just a pennyworth of opinion.

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Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces

ql
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Happy

Re: There was a Programme on this

Is that the programme where they revealed that x-ray spectroscopy found the Greek letters "ZX-81" etched into the corroded metal?

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Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

ql
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Re: It will be business as usual.

Exactly so - the tl;dr of the article is "Political change is happening. Business doesn't like change not of its own choosing."

To my mind all the "issues" like the currency, oil, defence* and all the rest are current unknown in the UK let alone in an independent Scotland. So the issue comes down simply to governance, and I've not heard a single argument for why Scots should want to be governed by Westminster. To put it differently, if the referendum was for an independent Scotland /joining/ the UK, what would the aspirational reasons, not short-term political promises, be?

* - Remember when the Royal Navy wasn't able to get any surface crafts into the Moray Firth when a Russian Fleet sheltered there a few years back? It took more than 48 hours to get a ship into the area.

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Satellite weather forecast: Cloudy with a chance of p0wnage

ql
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Suomi NPP and exploitable flaws?

Brings a whole new meaning to Finnfisher....

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Forget silly privacy worries - help biometrics firms make MILLIONS

ql
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> Biometrics are usernames, not passwords.

No, usernames are usernames. Biometrics are a set of intrusions too far. Just last week there was an article in El Reg about how fingerprints are so yesterday. All that was said of fingerprints suddenly becomes less so when some new biometric device becomes available. I honestly can't see biometrics becoming the norm this "growth" firm seems to wish.

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Microsoft tells judge: Hold us in contempt of court, we're NOT giving user emails to US govt

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Re: Was everyone born yesterday?

> Or the original criminals for potentially having their email accounts read?

What criminals? If this is to do with a crime, then there are plenty of internationally acceptable ways of law enforcement agencies in the US to obtain these data from Ireland, many of which could be completed very quickly if time was of the essence. We do not know if criminals were involved in this or if crimes have even be committed, let alone who may have done them.

It's not unreasonable to wonder what is being staged here, as the snippets of information do appear to be about some larger issue than a criminal investigation. It's also not unreasonable for readers of a tech rag to wonder about a large tech company's motives

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Nokia Lumia 530: A Windows Phone... for under £50

ql
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Re: Genuine question

Thanks all

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ql
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Genuine question

Is it possible to use a winphone without an accompanying windows desktop? I mean fully use it, not just ignore some features.

The comment above re having to create playlists on a PC prompts the question, along with an expectation of constantly attempted lock-in from microsoft, but it is a genuine question, as I've not run a windows desktop for years. Judging by the tv ads, the assumption is that the phone is part of your windows "ecosystem" but maybe they're learning life's not like that any more.

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OwnCloud: Fiddly but secure host-from-home sync 'n' share

ql
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Server to server

Yes, this is an interesting development, especially as Owncloud runs rather sweetly on a Pi. I find that running php-pfm with lighttpd and postgresql as the database, the response is not much worse than running Owncloud on a more powerful machine. It's surely a matter of time until an SD card of Raspian with owncloud pre-installed is available, at which point the technical side of owncloud will be reduced. An ad arrived this morning for a 64G USB stick for £15 - a one-off cost of £50 for a Pi, SD card and 64G of storage seems a good deal.

But I wish they'd called in "woncloud" as that's what my fingers type more frequently than "owncloud".

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Boffins hunch over steaming cups of coffee to find HIDDEN SECRETS of caffeine

ql
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Re: That's confusing....

> African elephants or Indian elephants?

Dunno - can't see the coconuts from her.

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ql
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That's confusing....

"2.25 billion cups of the stuff are said to be consumed daily "

Can we have that in elephants per second, the correct standard in this case?

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Beer in SPAAAACE: Photographic PROOF

ql
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"Harviestoun or Caledonian"

My Christmas homebrew has just been double-dropped, an IPA. My beer is no good for space exploration though. The highest it will travel (I've measured) is 74.3cms, the distance between the table and my mouth.

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Go on, corporate drone, log in... We'd recognise your VEINS anywhere – Barclays

ql
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Wrong turn

First, fingerprint readers were the ideal of biometric verification, then iris scans, the voice prints, and now this. At hat point does some bright spark realise that biometrics are just as mcuh of an arms race as any other form of verification, but with the added advantage of an inability to withdraw or alter the factor?

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Work in the tech industry? The Ukraine WAR is coming to YOU

ql
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Re: Morals, ethics, principles...

"The Ukrainian conflict is rather complicated"

Quite. A friend in a neighbouring state was telling me last year that the protesters were paid $50 a day - dollars, not euro or roubles - to keep the protests going. The start of this was by no means spontaneous. And in the UK, great justification for more military spending. Would be good to hear one voice looking to de-escalate this complex issue.

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Tesla to add charging network in China

ql
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Go

Timing

Interesting development, as this morning, the "History in Pictures" twitter feed had a pic of an electric car being charged - in 1905.

https://twitter.com/HistoryInPics/status/506626328096149505/photo/1

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Redmond resists order to hand over overseas email

ql
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"there have been processes in place for getting this information legally for decades"

This is exactly what is particularly troubling about this case. It's almost as though the issue is US government control over technology providers and/or global data rather than a narcotics investigation. Makes you wish Groklaw was still active. I'm pretty sure PJ would have been able to find out whether MS had, in fact, pointed out in court that access to this info through the US wasn't part of the legal process that should have been followed.

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NASA to reformat Opportunity rover's memory from 125 million miles away

ql
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Lack of ambition...

Forget this proper technical stuff - they should watch more telly - that would tell them all they had to do was whizz over to Spirit, use the sampling arm to remove it's SSDs and magically simply slot them into place, bearing in mind that ANY component fits ANY slot in the movies. Yes, I know it's possible this may not work because at the last minute an actual human needs to take a hair pin from tasty sidekick to "create a bridge" (and why is it always "create a bridge"?) but it's got to be worth a try

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Ofcom will not probe lesbian lizard snog in new Dr Who series

ql
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Thumb Down

Six complaints

Six people with very little else on their minds... Mind you, on another topic, the Beeb reports that among the complaints regarding alleged (and hardly very likely) sabotage on a cooking show, there were demands to have the contestant arrested. There's a sparrow in the garden here with more brains and moral certitude than that.

Ref - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-28964737

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Raspberry Pi B+: PHWOAR, get a load of those pins

ql
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Re: The B got a memory memory in a previous rev

"which is cheap enough to consider throwing into a later Pi."

What I find fascinating about the Pi, along with the attendant commentary in tech rags, is that it challenges the assumptions that bigger, more, whatever superlative you wish to use, is intrinsically better. Sure, sometimes, as in the above comment, it may just be a wish rather than a critique of what the Pi's founders and its foundation intended and have achieved. It's almost like the pushback that occurred at the height of the Enlightenment, when the starkness of method was balanced by the rise of Romanticism. And the creative outpouring that has accompanied the Pi bears out that assertion quite well. The Pi says it need not be all about the philosophy of Improvement, but can be about what's within your grasp and within your capability. So it's appealing to people for whom mainstream technology would hold little interest, but still really is technology.

Having said that, I'm still doing traditional tech with one of mine, safely tucked away in an Austrian data centre, thanks to the generosity of free Pi hosting companies.

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Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can

ql
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Re: And about 2 years later ...

"I don't remember paying $99 for it though!"

No - Coherent cost £99 at that time. Linux was easiest to get via a book which came with a CD, then in the UK the Linux Emporium made access to cheap CDs simple. Dial-up downloads were pretty much unworkable in the days when per minute dial-up costs were high.

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ql
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Pint

Re: And about 2 years later ...

Interesting. I first installed linux when my boss refused to let me spend £99 on Coherent, and said I would have to negotiate the use of a licence with the service guys to use the expensive Sequent. I thought a unixy future to PC-style computing was likely and wanted to examine what it would look like; I didn't necessarily want to learn Korn on an expensive mini-computer. So I slowly started wrapping me head around it all in my own at home. I still remember the feeling of helplessness when I duly got an "X" on a graphical screen but didn't know what to do next - unixy layered thinking took a while to get through to my monolithically trained brain.

Two years after that, a startup for which I worked had a linux infrastructure.

Cheers, Linus.

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Bright lights, affordable motor: Ford puts LED headlights onto Mondeo

ql
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Fun factor

In the late 70s a mate had a little mini, and managed to get hold of an aircraft landing light, with a 100w bulb. He fitted this monstrosity to the centre of the bumper. and christened the car Cyclops. But when the car was idling, the draw on the generator (pre-alternator mini!) when he switched the light on actually stopped the engine. He used to terrorise oncoming drivers who had the temerity to wait too long before before dimming. Ah, youth....

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Brit Sci-Fi author Alastair Reynolds says MS Word 'drives me to distraction'

ql
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"Word has always been poor for any form of Long Documents. "

A few years ago, a few people starting their third new company (serial entrepreneurs) wanted their IT set up from scratch. We agreed in the infrastructure services required, and I started talking to them about Windows 7, but saying they'd need to find someone to support them. One of them stopped me and said "What do you use?" I showed them my Linux laptop running LibreOffice and they said "Right, that's what we'll use." A few months later I got an email to say that they had finalised their business plans, running into hundreds of pages, including spreadsheets, graphs and all the trimmings. They said it was the first time they had had no trouble at all generating large complex documents. It was also the only time that I have ever had an unsolicited positive response to technology.

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ql
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Linux

Re: @ Khaptain (was: Personally ...)

"There is nano these days."

Or joe, which uses Wordstar commands, just as nature intended....

Actually, it's now an automatic reaction on a new install to type "aptitude (or zypper) install mc joe"

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Lenovo posts an INCREASE in desktop PC and notebook sales

ql
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Re: Would be even better

how easily do BSD or Linux systems install on Lenovo machines?

Very easily, that's why I wanted a Lenovo.

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ql
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Would be even better

If they operated in a fully free market, or however you define success myth criteria. When I bought my Lenovo, it was available for £100 less in Germany and Austria because it was not sold with windows. Here I was told that it was not possible to buy it without windows. So the UK is still a stronghold of that intelligence-abusing "naked PC" nonsense that MS was trying on some years ago, and it seems is trying to revive. Makes you wonder what Lenovo could achieve without the millstone that MS has become.

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World's only flyable WWII Lancaster bombers meet in Lincs

ql
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Re: Eargasm...

Here on the north west Scottish coast, I looked up when I heard an unusual-sounding plane, spotted it flying towards Lochinver, and grabbed the binoculars. It was this Lancaster, but the sound was rather different to the BoBMF one. I can only surmise that they use different engine or prop settings for distance flying in comparison with that lovely sound you get when the BoBMF flies at low level.

Interesting this, as we had a long discussion about why, as far as we knew, the only Lanc flying was so far north, but it must have been the Canadian one.

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Russia, China could ban western tech if they want to live in the PAST

ql
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Re: Good luck enforcing those rules, Vladimir

"stopped by Customs"

Mmm, customs controls and tariffs are not really the issue here, but if you want to play that game, try taking a haggis, even tinned haggis, into those united states of america.

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/06/30/us-haggis-ban-scotland_n_5542595.html

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Who will kill power companies? TESLA, says Morgan Stanley

ql
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Re: Depends...

@Richard Jones 1

Others have answered the question, and the supposition that multiple circuits is to much hassle is spot on. So it's for convenience. But also, the 24v can vary quite markedly, and long wire runs will result in voltage drop, so you can't be sure what voltage you're dishing up. Finally, using an inverter means I can change to, say' 48v system, which I wish I had done in the first place, to reduce the amperage from the turbine and solar panels. You learn to be pragmatic getting your power this way.

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ql
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Depends...

The speculation that Morgan Stanley are talking this up may be right. The issue is the type of battery. In the same way that there is a difference between the construction of a lead-acid battery for starting a car (needs to deliver a massive amperage for a short time) and a golf-cart, milk-float , UPS or off-grid lead-acid battery., which needs to deliver a lesser amperage over a long period of time, it's not a given that an electric car style of battery is best for local energy storage. Arguably the best type of battery for such requirements is the 100+ year old Nickel-Iron battery, using an alkaline electrolyte rather than acid. Yet I understand only one company in the world, in China, still makes them.

Re AC's issue with efficiency, there are two issues. One is that there are energy losses in the grid, which arguably take the place of the inefficiencies of charging/discharging a battery bank locally. Some figures I have seen put these inefficiencies at as much as 25%, though that feels rather high. The other issue is that local energy production need not always be done for efficiency reasons, though if course any engineer would seek to maximise efficiency in design and implementation.

For anyone interested, I've written up our off-grid power supply here: http://www.tinslave.co.uk/blog/index.php?post/8/Our-off-grid-power-supply

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Factory-fresh delivery: Get your OpenSUSE fix daily

ql
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Re: So....

"Novell's dalliance with MS a few years ago may have done them no favours."

True, and it was only after SuSE* was sold that I had another look at OpenSuSE, and found that it was good. OpenSUSE remains a very Euro-centric distro, too, which helps.

* - I know that it's supposed to be fully capitalised, but I started with SuSE 5.1 and the origin of the name makes it hard to break the habit.

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ql
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So....

It sounds as though the "Factory" option is recent, which it isn't, as it's been the rolling release option for a while now. But if I understand this announcement correctly, the main development process will now start using Factory's rolling release mechanism as the format for the development of the milestone versions, which sounds good reduction in effort.

I must say I've taken to OpenSuSE again over the last couple of years. Last week's Linux Weekly News (LWN) included a discussion flowing from someone suggesting OpenSuSE has little following, and the support for it was interesting.

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Fiat Panda Cross: 'Interesting-looking' Multipla spawn hits UK

ql
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Re: My god it's ugly

Not entirely so. We have a Panda and a Land Rover. We need the landie in winter where we live, but the Panda is half the cost to run.

Re the comments about power - I used to have a Land Rover 110 with a 2.25 diesel. It struggled to get to 60mph - no - it NEVER got to 60mph, but we went playing in Salisbury Plain once, and it left modern 4x4's standing going up impossible inclines etc. The reason is torque, which is far more important than power for those purposes. In fact, thinking about it, when I was a teenager elsewhere on the planet, I had a VW Beetle-based fibreglass beach buggy. The wisdom at the time was never to use the more powerful 1600 engine, because power simply spun the wheels, while the torque of the 1300 made it much more suitable for the purpose.

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Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers

ql
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Pint

Re: US Tech Companies

@Trevor_Pott - You really do articulate the issues involved in this well. It sounds as though you have had first hand experience of the intentional law of unintended consequences America's paranoia creates. So you're in an ideal position to continue to inform us and to describe the issues. You also seem to be providing details that confirm what I suspect is an instinctive reaction in many of us to these issues.

Thanks very much.

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PEAK LANDFILL: Why tablet gloom is good news for Windows users

ql
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Tablets are neither phones nor PCs

I suspect the numbers make sense. I really don't think people use tablets to replace other devices, so the netbook analogy, as an adjunct to "proper" tech, is probably accurate. The result is that of people have a tablet, it needs to work well enough, rather than there being any compelling need to upgrade every year. Of course, fans of particular brands may well upgrade on cue, but that group is not in the majority. Yes, people buying tablets now are buying much better kit than a few years ago, but they're also doing the same job, in much the same way, as a few years ago. You can still browse, check email, stream video or audio and play the odd game on a tablet a few years old, so there's little attraction to fork out more for the same.

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Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees

ql
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Re: No Surprise

" who are we laymen supposed to believe?"

Well, you have to tread carefully. After all, according to "They Work For You," Peter Lilley also works for oil companies, with their agenda in this regard - http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/10362/peter_lilley/hitchin_and_harpenden#register And Graham Strainger has been on a jolly to oil-producing Saudi Arabia - http://www.theyworkforyou.com/regmem/?p=10576

So while it's interesting that this committee does not appear qualified to make scientific statements based on only two members have a scientific background, as ever with something as mind-bogglingly complex as climate, there's more to this than meets the eye. Before the downvotes start, note I'm not taking sides, just pointing out other issues relevant to this debate.

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Russia: There is a SPACECRAFT full of LIZARDS in orbit above Earth and WE control it

ql
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Linux

Found this page when I opened by browser

It seems my OpenSUSE laptop automatically opens anything that has "gecko porn" Those tails don't curl by themselves, you know.

Tux, 'cos that's closest.

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UK.gov's Open Source switch WON'T get rid of Microsoft, y'know

ql
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Re: Of course it won't get rid of MS

Exactly so. Really, for a tech rag, this article smacks more like a Fry-based BBC analysis of the issue. I can't believe that anyone reasonably informed thinks that this is about removing Microsoft from the equation, but it is about ensuring that the tail does not wag the dog. The writer may be better advised to analyse the practical differences between OOXML and ODF in the context of the outcomes Maude was seeking to achieve rather than some tabloid non-issue.

This is to do with information interchange in document format, not about the choice of suppliers. The requirements for that go far beyond choosing Word or Writer. It may well lead to other questions about purchase strategies, but that's not the issue this announcement changes.

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Are you broke? Good with electronics? Build a better AC/DC box, get back in black with $1m

ql
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Re: All of this??

"Sounds like you need to be looking at the "marine" side of things"

Too expensive and too much hassle. This stuff is becoming off-the-shelf these days, rather than needing specialist suppliers. But yes, early learning was indeed on boats, and I have those ideas in mind when I set things up.

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Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network

ql
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Re: Not wanting to defend plod, but

But there's no law that requires traceability, is there?

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