* Posts by Captain Underpants

716 posts • joined 24 Jul 2009

Microsoft: You want Office for Mac, fanboi? You'll pay Windows prices

Captain Underpants

@Test Man

I disagree, because there's something important the article misses out: Previously, Office 2011 Home And Student could be had in a retail box 3-licence, 3-machine pack for ~$140/£100. These licences involve activation, as I understand it, but should still work because each pack comes with 3 keys, and each key allows for installation on one desktop and one laptop as long as there is no concurrent use. There was a similar setup with 2 licences for the Home & Business edition, which is required if the software is being used for non-personal (ie commercial) purposes.

For home users, you could previously get up to 6 machines set up for the same price that Microsoft will now charge for 1 machine, and if they follow the logic they're imposing with Office 2013, those will be node-locked licences too.

I figure people who realise what's going on and belatedly realise they need Office 2011 as there won't be an Office 2014 will first look in the retail channel to try and find the 3-licence box sets, and then consider whether the software's really worth the money without first at least evaluating LibreOffice or whatever other alternatives they want to try out.

It's not a smart move IMO, and speaks volumes as to how much faith MS actually have in Office 365 as a compelling proposition in its own right - if they're having to hobble their own competing products to make it seem an attractive proposition, that's a bad sign.

8
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Australian Parliament issues summons to Apple, Microsoft, Adobe

Captain Underpants

Re: Munich doesn't pay more. It uses Linux and open source

@Nuke:

Agreed. A lot of this nonsense is predicated on treating people like complete morons and thus teaching them to behave thusly. Treat them like intelligent humans who can learn, give them resources for when they get stuck, and then encourage them to GTF on with their jobs. Those who refuse to engage are a liability regardless of software platform.

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Captain Underpants
Joke

Re: @AC 08.32 Listen

@0h4FS: A 4.25 litre galleon? That's not going to be of use to any bugger!

0
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Björk gives up trying to Kickstart Android music app

Captain Underpants
Meh

I'm kind of disappointed to see nobody point out what, to me, is the single biggest reason this project failed:

[i]You can get Biophilia as a normal album now, and have been able to do so for ages[/i]. When it was first out, it was in App form. Then came the conventional releases; I got my copy from eMusic.

It would be one thing if the album were, up until now, an iOS-exclusive experience. But given the choice of contributing to Kickstarter to maybe get an Android version eventually, or spending less than a tenner on a CD copy (I got it via eMusic for about a fiver, I think), it's no surprise that she didn't reach her goal.

0
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The business mullet: Cool or tool?

Captain Underpants

Re: Not cool, definitely tool

There's some value to personal presentation, but if you're dealing with people who decide entirely based on personal presentation then you're going to have problems. (Though this does, to some extent, assume that you can differentiate yourself from the competition on purely technical grounds...)

0
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Oracle blocks security hole with quick, hot 'n' premature Java update

Captain Underpants

Re: Anyone else get a 'invalid certificate' fail on trying to install this update?

@DAM

Yeah, it's an utter ballache. Hypothetically it should silently install when invoked with /s, but that fails more often than not, usually with no helpful indication as to why in the logfile.

I'm at the point now where I grab the MSI file from %TEMP% and batch up a silent install routine that uses the GUID of previous versions to ensure that old versions don't remain in place. They claim that as of Update 11 the /STANDALONE switch will render this unnecessary, but I'll believe that when I see have repeatedly tested it.

(I'd be happy to get rid of the bastard thing altogether at this point, given that I got hit by the vuln over Christmas courtesy of a compromised advertising network serving ads on a forum I frequent - hours of misery trying to clean it up for experimental purposes, prior to giving up and restoring from a known clean image - , but happily for me we've just rolled out a new service which requires Java at the client. Deep joy...)

1
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Apple blocks Java on the Mac over security concerns

Captain Underpants

Re: Fixable by editing XProtect.meta.plist

@chriswhocodes

Ta muchly, got it sorted with that fix. Cheers!

1
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'Silent but deadly' Java security update breaks legacy apps - dev

Captain Underpants
Thumb Up

Re: D'oh indeed!

@DJM

I *knew* I'd seen mention of this somewhere; my first reaction on reading this item was "hang on, isn't this feature mentioned explicitly in the JRE docs?"

Aside from which, if you've got an application (or are selling an application) which has explicitly defined version dependencies for runtimes, you should be telling your support team/customer base that this is important and explain why this means that they can't just patch to the latest release without testing or customising the install procedure.

I understand this makes life difficult for some folks (particularly smaller businesses), but its occurence demonstrates a failure in their processes. Given that the workaround is *gasp* reinstall the required JRE, I think that volubly complaining about a problem that only manifests due to either badly-documented software version dependencies or a support process that ignores said dependencies won't do anyone any favours. Certainly if I were a customer of a developer who did this, I'd be giving them the hairy eyeball and reconsidering future support agreements...

1
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BBC: What YOU spent on our lawyers in Secret Climate 28 debacle

Captain Underpants

@ChilliKwok

Control of the media? Really?

Stop being silly and maybe we can seriously converse about this.

My point was that the existence of odd pockets here and there of private-sector news organisations or production companies that produce stuff of calibre comparable to the Beeb does not equate to "Screw 'm, let the free market decide!". The free market wants Eastenders, Strictly Ballbags Come Dancing, Big Brother, TOWIE and Made Of FailIn Chelsea. The free market, in that context, can suck it.

Oh, and pointing at the likes of HBO, AMC, or FX because each of them have a couple of shows is disingenuous - each one of those cable subscriptions will cost you at least as much as your Beeb tax annually, especially if you're having to switch provider to get access to them. Also - for every Sopranos or Mad Men there's a Sex & The City, so let's not pretend that US Cable television is some sort of nirvana of consistently astonishing entertainment.

I notice you've carefully ignored Channel 4 and Film 4, the two UK arms of what I'd consider genuine innovation in both delivery strategies and content diversity - between Film4 providing streaming rentals that actually work and have reasonably recent releases, and Channel 4 being smart enough to make huge swathes of their back catalogue available on demand, they're the best demonstration of the kind of innovation the free market allegedly fosters. The problem is that next to them we've got ITV (who are at least as surprised as everyone else that Downton Abbey is actually popular), Channel 5 (who can best be summarised as "that channel who wanted to get Big Brother because after 10 years of scraping the bottom of the barrel it's still more popular than the rest of the crap they air) and a smorgasbord of Freeview channels mostly aimed at people too bored or braindead to realise they're watching reruns of a programme they don't even like.

(If I had my way, the Beeb would substantially cut down the crowd-pleasing cruft like Eastenders and, well, almost all of its daytime tripe. More travel & history documentaries, more in-depth news, and stuff where you might actually learn something would be the order of the day. It'll never happen, of course, but it's nice to dream sometimes...)

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Captain Underpants
Meh

Andrew, I agree that there are issues with how parts of the BBC operate. I'd really like to see the Trust getting a better grip on internal management issues to prevent this sort of silliness from happening.

What I would really like is for you to show me a quantified example of a similar-sized broadcaster who operates in a free-market for-profit fashion who produces or directly commissions for broadcast a comparable amount of content, across the same spectrum of media, formats and genres, at the same point-of-use cost to the consumer as the Beeb does for UK citizens and residents, ideally doing so in the US to show that such an operation is not only possible but can scale to larger population sizes.

You frequently bring up this idea that having the Beeb funded by what amounts to a tax is somehow Wrong or Against The Natural Order, but I've not yet seen any convincing evidence that what the Beeb does either is done or even can be done by a private sector equivalent outfit. Channel 4 & Film 4 have some good stuff, but without running the numbers I wouldn't want to assume that the scale of their operations and output is comparable.

9
2

Wii-U boat torpedoes Nintendo's '¥20bn profit' into ¥20bn loss

Captain Underpants
Meh

Comparing the 3DS with the smartphone market rather than eg the PS Vita or PSP? *shakes head*

Expressing shock that Wii sales are down between 2011 and 2012, when that was the 6th year in which the console was available and crucially the Window during which it was replaced by the Wii U?

*shakes head*

Spouting nonsense about Mario not having had an outing on Nintendo consoles for 16 years? (Hello, Super Mario Sunshine/Galaxy/Galaxy 2/New Super Mario Bros Wii) *laughs, shakes head*

I don't doubt that Nintendo are facing problems right now from the casual-gaming market, but the failed attempts at using data in this article make its claims suspect at best.

1
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Have Brits fallen for Netflix, or do they still LoveFilm?

Captain Underpants

Re: Loveflim disks by post is the killer

If you want stuff by post, then yes.

If you don't, then it's not a killer feature, it's a waste of space. (For instance, I've no interest in disks by post because of the delay involved - I want streaming or not at all, and do not have or want a Full-HD-capable TV, so Blu-ray via post is not compelling for me).

That said, I think it's good that someone's offering the option - a wider range of services benefits all of us.

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Pope: Catholics, go forth and multiply... your Twitter followers

Captain Underpants
Devil

I like that he admits that excessive information makes one less likely to go anywhere near Catholicism :D

Not sure how he thinks that "the gentle voice of reason" is the one that has less information available, but then again, this is the man in charge of an institution that has repeatedly protected serial child molesters, so being capable of doublethink is hardly surprising..

5
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Swartz suicide won't change computer crime policy, says prosecutor

Captain Underpants
Thumb Down

Re: point #3

@Tom 13

Any time you take special actions to access a service, YOU KNOW you are breaking the law or at least policy. So do the police. He was guilty and needed to deal with it.

I agree this far.

The problem is, the providers of the services which he misused didn't want to pursue this. Carmen Ortiz did, and in doing so exercised the same (lack of) thinking that US prosecutions of computer misuse have seen since it's been possible to mount such prosecutions; if anything her idiotic pronouncements about how "stealing is stealing" suggest that she fails utterly to understand either the nature of the issue at hand - that tax-funded research is being moved behind a for-profit paywall without any oversight mechanism or explicit approval of the tax-paying public as a whole - or Swartz's actions - becauseretrieving millions of articles via an automated system to which he had legitimate access via Harvard University is a policy issue, and does not become "theft" until he's actually deprived someone else of access to something, or actively attempted to redistribute all those files in a manner that deprives the rightful owner of the ability to profit from them. Which would likely trigger an awkward discussion about whether research groups allocated funding sourced from taxpayer contributions are assigned the ability to transfer all intellectual property rights to their research barring acknowledgement of authorship to privately-owned journals who charge for access.

As a sysadmin anyone attempting to misuse systems for naughtyness deserves a slap. I disagree that copyright infringement constitutes a serious computer crime simply because it's done with a computer - that's kind of like saying that hitting someone with a laptop is a computer crime, IMO.

I would argue that sustained efforts at coercion towards a known sufferer of depression would put at least some responsibility on the shoulders of Ortiz and her office. Ultimately, I doubt we'll get an answer either way. The best we might get out of this is more attention for the case of reforming academic publishing strategies (and ideally a subsequent review of the publication strategy for privately-funded research, since the current method is exceptionally wasteful) and a bit more consideration prior to action on the part of US Attorneys pursuing crimes involving computer misuse.

5
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Captain Underpants
Facepalm

Re: 4 Simple Points.

@Turtle

You missed the bit where JSTOR was a repository of research funded by the taxpayer but which, as part of the convoluted mess that is academic publishing & peer review, had seen the IP relating to publication handed over to for-profit journals, with the authors being expected to pay a charge if they want to make their research available through Open Access channels.

Threatening a 5-decade sentence and then offering a 6-month plea bargain only if he cops to the crimes in such a way that he never gets a trial (which is more accurate than your description), would probably be constituted as bullying by most people - using the threat of an undesirable outcome to force someone into doing something.

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Security audit finds dev OUTSOURCED his JOB to China to goof off at work

Captain Underpants

Re: I don't see the problem

@Piro:

No, seriously. He's just being an extremely efficient manager - delegating work out, freeing up his time, providing excellent results.

In that respect, he's better than a good number of managers.

I applaud this effort.

You're assuming that:

1) he adequately security-vetted the outfit to whom he outsourced the work to ensure that they weren't a risk, and had suitable measures in place should a security issue arise.

2) he ensured that the code produced by the outsourced team was entirely their work and that they had the legal right to sell it to him under work-for-hire no-rights-reserved terms.

3) he ensured that the outsourced team did not make use of any data or infrastructure access provided by him to get up to Naughty Business

4) he performed quality-assurance on the code provided to ensure it was up to scratch and would not cause any problems within the explected deployment environment.

In the absence of proof that he did all this, and especially in the context of "freeing up his time to dick around on the internet", I thoroughly reject your assertion that this is laudable. I mean, yeah, in a pragmatic sense he allegedly got away with it for a while (assuming this isn't a bollocks PR narrative selling us the idea of Verizon's contribution to improved network security), but...well, screw this notion. If he'd done this to get otherwise-unmanageable amounts of work done in the face of a management structure that refused to properly locally resource their teams it'd be one thing. The character depicted in this story exhibits lazy parasitic bellendery and the fact that it's being applauded by a bunch of short-sighted twits is, sadly, about what I'd expect from at least some commentards.

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Captain Underpants

No way, unless all their policies are crap written by incompetent morons and enforced/applied by incompetent morons.

What you say is well and good until you've got a job or client with any kind of risk of industrial espionage (or, worse, a government contract with security implications). I've no doubt that such morons might simply blunder onwards through the contracts, answering erroneously or outright lying if necessary; the point being that they would then not only be running a vulnerable network that's open to exploitation or attack by malicious individuals and/or business rivals, but they would also be open to litigation of the "level all buildings to rubble and salt the earth beneath for good measure" variety.

Remember, we're talking about a story existing solely on the internet: which means it's complete and utter danglies until conclusively proven otherwise - which means the company needs to be named (the individual too, optionally) and the story needs to be covered in major news services over the course of several days. Unless that happens I'm assuming it's a promo for how Verizon can help your business be more efficient (And even help find hitherto-unnoticed security issues).

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Captain Underpants
Thumb Down

It's a funny story with more than a whiff of bovine residue to it.

There's no way Bob would simply be let go after an incident like that; unless the company were utterly worthless (in which case why the audit?) they would now have to review all access to their network and audit all code. They would likely also have to at least consider dropping anything particularly clever done by Bob's subcontractors, since Bob's contract won't have allowed him to commission the work on a work for hire basis and he is unable to determine whether company code has been sold to other chinese firms as a result of his actions. He's also exposed their network to substantial risk which would also need to be audited.

(i know, I know, overthinking it etc. But if all the shortsighted capitalism-at-all-costs "good on him" remarks are valid then so is mine...)

2
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Belgian watchdog barks at Apple: Take care when you flog that warranty

Captain Underpants
Facepalm

@AC 15.36

I notice you don't mention whether you'd paid for Apple+ on the iPhone you dropped (or whether your friend had done), since the industry standard across the board is that accidental damage isn't covered under normal warranty.

On a more significant basis, I understand that we all make choices based on the data available, but two anecdotes are almost as far away from statistically valid samples as you can get (with the furthest away being no anecdotes). As a sysadmin in a small team supporting a couple of hundred people between us with a mixture of predominantly Dell & Apple hardware (with a few Toshibas and Samsungs thrown in) my experience over about 5 years and probably over 1000 machine purchases in total is that Apple's phone service is very good, but the level of service they offer for hardware issues simply doesn't compare to that offered on business-class products by other companies. NBD Onsite Support for at least 3 years is the standard here, and Apple fall far short of it with their "Drag it into the nearest shop, or go for 1-2 week Collect and Return" offering. Fine for consumers who are willing to accept that, shoddy for anyone who expects business class service for the business-class prices charged by Apple.

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Captain Underpants
FAIL

Re: the worst for customer service

@AC 16.01

You do realise that Dell offer 5-year on-site NBD service for their business-class laptops, as well as a "have the OS configured before it's delivered" option?

Dell's consumer support is quite crufty at times, but for their business machines the service is damn good.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Here we go again

No, the level of protection offered by EU warranty is different.

The whole point of a 2-year EU warranty is to cut down the 1-year churn on devices where no care is taken during their production to ensure they can run for a reasonable lifespan when they can't usefully be recycled. The problem is that Apple wants to claim that the EU warranty only applies for design-type faults (eg "oh look the Nvidia GPU in your machine is defective by design, we have to replace it") while the general interpretation is that it covers you for any fault developing within 2 years of purchase so long as you haven't misused it (including accidental damage, etc). To put it another way - Apple want to interpret the EU ruling as being equivalent to the Sale of goods act (which is the bane of everyone who's ever bought an electronic device, because it only offers protection if you can somehow prove that there's a flaw in the design; no protection whatsoever if it turns out that the use of cheap solder or crap caps means that after a small fraction of its expected life the thing goes bang and won't turn on, unless you've got access to the blueprints or an exceptionally honest engineer from the manufacturer in question).

Apple's terms on the 1-year warranty may be "better" than the terms on the 2-year EU-mandated warranty. I am confident in saying that for the majority of consumers, duration is the single highest concern for their mandatory warranty cover. Better terms on a shorter warranty are of use to no bugger except Apple, because it helps promote the 3-year lifespan they seem to have in mind for all their products.

I agree that there should be no barrier to Apple offering improved service offerings at a premium - in fact, I wish they would. I would be much happier dealing with them at work if they'd offer a paid-for NBD on-site hardware support service (ideally incorporating the idea of certain components being CRUs rather than FRUs) with 3-5 year durations. But they don't seem in any way interested in doing this, instead routing everything through a 1-2 week CAR operation (or worse, asking you to "just pop into your nearest Apple Store" - a tedious waste of time with a laptop, and a tedius massive ballache of a waste of time with yet another dodgy Thunderbolt Display).

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Amazon-bashed HMV calls in administrators, seeks buyer

Captain Underpants
Thumb Down

Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

@Greg

That's great, until you start using any wholly or partially tax-funded infrastructure. Like, I dunno, roads. Or any transport sector which is wholly or partially tax-funded. Or any resource distribution service (water, power, sewage) which is wholly or partially tax-funded. Or (and this is the bugger) you start dealing with any company or individual who relies on said infrastructure or service that is wholly or partially tax-funded.

The problem with your assertion that government are crap at doing stuff is that we've also seen, to some extent, the private sector be crap at doing stuff. The fact that it's theoretically possible to compete doesn't prevent World Class Bellends (Category: Felonious) like Capita from bidding on, being awarded, and subsequently hugely ballsing up large-scale projects.

I posit to you the alternative assertion that you claim you want to minimise your tax burden while being entirely willing to parasitically make use of infrastructure and services funded by those of us who don't have a problem with contributing via taxation to the society in which we live. In which case, I'm primarily wondering why you haven't moved to the USA, their particular brand of "freedom" and economic policy would appear to be entirely in keeping with your philosophy.

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Disney World slaps pay-by-bonk stalker cuffs on grown-ups

Captain Underpants

@Greg:

I haven't been to a UK theme park in 5 years, and it's more like 9 years since I went to one in the US - but while I'd broadly agree with the suggestion that US theme parks handle queues better, I would argue that Disney is not the best example. I found Busch Gardens to be a more enjoyable experience across the board than Disneyworld, particularly when it came to queue handling (but also because they weren't spending such a ludicrously high percentage of their time trying to flog me overpriced tat in gift shop).

I would expect that Disney will try very hard to justify linking the information gathered in this system to your credit card and home mailing address, in order to start pushing hard sells of the "Pluto misses you because it's N months since you last came to visit. Why not come and give us more money have fun at Disneyland again?" variety. Or worse, sending those to younger family members and getting them to put the screws on mum & dad...

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Sir James Dyson slams gov's 'obsession' with Silicon Roundabout

Captain Underpants

Re: We have a more fundamental problem to address

@HBT

You've got some reliable documented numbers concerning the relative population of professional benefit cheats, have you?

I'm sure HMRC would be fascinated and grateful to receive them along with the research methodology you used to obtain them - pass them along and we'll all benefit.

Oh, what you mean is you're talking hand-wavey generalities and throwing some class-warfare-garbed eugenics-type rubbish in there for good measure?

That's a shame.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Web fads and video games

@Yet Another Anonymous coward

The problem with what you're suggesting is that it's very far from being even remotely sustainable.

In the UK, the higher education sector is trying very hard to ensure that foreign students continue to come here to study - students want to come here for the quality (or at least perception thereof) of education offered, the universities want them because non-EU students pay exorbitant rates compared to everyone else (between £16K and £35K depending on circumstances, which is exorbitant here but kind of unsurprising in the US). Unless there are more design/R&D jobs in the UK than can be filled by UK graduates in the relevant disciplines, this means that the UK higher education sector is a net exporter of graduates in those disciplines.

Over time, this means that the R&D/design work gets farmed out to people outside the UK as well because if your work has no physical aspect to it, you can work remotely with nary a problem - and that means they can hire someone from whatever country has the lowest costs at the time with no difficulty.

Compared to moving physical production and fabbing work, moving "knowledge work" is trivial. So tethering your entire government approach to economic development to non-physical-product creative industries who will see a clear economic incentive to move elsewhere as soon as they get a chance is not, IMO, a long-term approach.

The counter-argument is that it doesn't need to be a long term approach as long as it can help foment growth for a while, at which point I suppose we'd need hard facts and numbers before we could draw any conclusions.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Web fads and video games

@Some Beggar

Well said. It's generally frustrating to read the sorts of comments attributed here to Dyson when they come from people whose manufacturing work happens elsewhere.

What he seems to be doing is throwing a strop that his company isn't being given special treatment as The Template For Britain's Future. And, well, I suspect part of that is because he's shown that he's willing to move production elsewhere to save money - not the wisest template for UK.gov to follow for trying to grow the economy.

3
1

Adobe offers free trip to PowerPC era

Captain Underpants

Re: "Why not pirate the current version?!"

So they're running an ancient Mac and were waiting for CS2 to be available "legitimately" (except not) for free before grabbing it? Seems unlikely they'd have waited for this to happen rather than just pirating it to begin with.

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Captain Underpants

I suspect they've cocked that aspect up, though: according to the update at CNET here, Adobe "has cancelled its CS2 license management servers, so for those with existing licenses it is now offering downloads that do not require contact with the licensing servers. This service is only going to be available for those with existing Adobe CS2 licenses, which will be verified when creating the Adobe account to download the software."

Which means that the version of the software available was different and effectively matched what you'd get with a cracked copy ie no activation built-in. It also means that the serial numbers weren't intended for mass distribution and that grabbing a copy of the installer and the serial number without already having a valid licence still makes you a filthy pirate, as far as Adobe are concerned. Which is pretty much what I thought would be the case.

It would've been nice to think of them suddenly being smart enough to see their older software releases as a good tool that, released as a free-of-charge download, might start people using their generally-good-but-also-expensive software. I'm guessing that the team trying to push the Adobe Cloud stuff is unhappy at the idea though, for obvious reasons...

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Captain Underpants

On a general note:

If you do something as heinous as access Adobe's publicly-accessible FTP site, you can download almost every version of their software installers. See ftp://ftp.adobe.com/pub/adobe/photoshop/win/ for example, for install media for all the Windows versions of Photoshop.

You still need a serial number, of course, and from memory the usual stance is that installing without a serial number gets you a 30-day trial.

So I'm not sure that download access to the install media is the big smoking gun it's being presented as; however, removing the post-install activation requirement does mean that anyone who can find a serial number generator can get the software at no financial cost, though quite why someone willing to go to those lengths wouldn't just go one step further and pirate the current version is beyond me. You're already going to be at risk of all kinds of dodgy infections etc by seeking out the serial number generators, so it's not like pirating the current release would be a greater risk, and both options are equally naughty from a licensing perspective.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Gimp Schmimp

@Dan 55

If you've used Photoshop, GimpShop is actually pretty good. Most of the work is in recontextualising GIMP's UI so that it's more familiar to those who know their way around PS. It's also about not having a single application run in half a dozen windows (each of which is recognized as its own executable) which is what I found last time I tried to use GIMP. (You can imagine how much fun it is trying to use alt-tab in that context).

I am grateful for the hard work that has been put in by those who create tools like GIMP, or Paint.NET, or Inkscape and subsequently distribute them with no usage charge attached, but to suggest that any of them are drop-in replacements for a professional-standard tool like Photoshop is to be both ignorant of the capacities of the tool in question and dismissive of the knowledge and skills of those working in the field.

3
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Chinese man pleads guilty to $100m piracy scam

Captain Underpants

*sigh*

Let's say I'm a procurement bod for Underpants Aeronautical Engineering PLC. I know that we're dealing with a ~$100M project, which requires some complex software. I know that the market rate for this software is ~$100K-$500K.

Unless I am *very very stupid indeed* I am not going to then purchase a TOTALLY LEGIT, GUV, SWEAR TO GOD version from crackedlikeyomama.tk for a cost of 1-2% of market rate. The vanishingly small probability of it actually being legitimate is not worth the substantial risk to the project and the company's professional reputation.

The targets for these kinds of operations are those people who can be described in Venn diagram terms at the intersection of the following sets:

1) Vaguely interested, for personal or professional reasons, in the software

2) Unwilling or unable to purchase legitimate copies at market rate

3) Unwilling or unable to use time- or function-limited trial copies for their purposes

4) Unaware of how to obtain cracked copies of the software at no cost

All of which means that while the individuals concerned should clearly be prosecuted for their actions, the actual economic damage caused by their actions is unlikely to amount to $100M. In real terms, it is not obvious to me that the absence of their operation would have netted $100M or even $10M for the rightsholders. There again, as far as I'm concerned, for-profit copyright infringement like this deserves the Enormous Stompy Boot of Legal Doom so screw 'em.

1
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Microsoft says Google trying to undermine Windows Phone

Captain Underpants

Re: Meh, They may be better off without it.

@Craigness:

You've missed something fairly fundamental about why the AZERTY and DVORAK keyboard layouts are known by those names, haven't you? ;)

(Yes, there are minor regional variations in the QWERTY layout for access to non-alphanumeric characters or in some cases to allow for the presence of additional alphabetic characters such as ñ, but 9 times out of 10 stick someone who knows the UK QWERTY layout in front of a US QWERTY layout keyboard and they'll be fine, barring the occasional 'Why am I getting @ when I want "?' sorts of issues, which are minor)

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Captain Underpants

Re: Be careful who you engage with anti-competitive allegations

"If they have these patents, they should be able to charge for them."

Yeah, but the issue is more that they're insisting they have these patents but refusing to clarify how exactly Android infringes and trying to do the "You wouldn't want to end up in court discussing this, would you?" sales pitch for the settlement.

It's especially dubious when Microsoft is trying to promote its own competing OS in partnership with a rival company to those whom it is threatening with litigation. It may be innocent, but MS have a fine track history in corporate-level felonious bellendery so I wouldn't want to jump to conclusions either way...

29
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Thunderbolt interface strikes YOUR PC: What's the damage?

Captain Underpants

Re: USB 2.0

@Fuzz:

USB 2.0 doesn't fare well compared to either variation of FW for sizeable file transfers (especially not when individual files are large as well) unless there are FW-specific bottlenecks, because USB 2.0 is based on bursting whereas FW is based on sustainable transfer rates.

As far as Apple's Thunderbolt displays go, they are very nice - when they work. We've had two go become unusable due to regular (but intermittent) issues where they go to sleep and fail to wake up until you physically disconnect and reconnect them, which is tedious - and in both cases I've had Apple claim that it might be related to power management kexts in Mountain Lion while the approved 3rd party warranty repair service who eventually looked at the hardware (after being made to jump through over 2 months worth of "Have you tried this?" type nonsense with Apple support) and said pretty much "yeah, this is a known issue with the OS, we'll replace the hardware but there's no guarantee it'll fix the problem". Which is just what you want to hear when you're dealing with displays which, while shiny, cost at least 2.5x as much as similarly-sized displays from other vendors on our approved supplier list. (Though, of course, one of the reasons people want the TB displays is that there haven't been any TB hubs available elsewhere so far...)

I suspect TB is at risk of going the same route as Firewire - great for those people who might specifically benefit from it, but not sufficiently better than USB 3.0 for most people's real-world use cases to make it worth the upgrade cost. Which is a shame, because TB is the best option so far to allow adding an external GPU to portable device when needed.

6
0

The 'Digital Economy' in 2012: A big noisy hole where money should be

Captain Underpants

Re: Missing the problem

@Christian

I'm not sure that a tax on IP is necessarily the right way to go. Personally I'd like to see copyright terms for creative works shortened - because, frankly, at the moment the big issue with copyright (especially outside of the US) is that it takes so long for anything to fall into the public domain that we've effectively got nothing there. There are many films which are damn near 100 years old which remain inaccessible to most people unless they happen to be critically acclaimed enough to merit a careful, lengthy and expensive restoration and release on DVD & Blu-Ray (with Metropolis and The Passion Of Joan Of Arc being two examples released in restored form during 2012). These are films which hold an important place in the cultural history of humanity; I appreciate the work and effort that goes into the restoration and have no problem with the restored version being treated as a new work, but I would also like to see transfers of the originals made legitimately available for free. Ditto with works of prose, poetry, and music of a similar age. And that idea should apply beyond the stuff that is clearly the best of our cultural output - if it's not worth someone bothering to release a DVD transfer of some 100 year old silent B&W film, there can't be any actual financial harm derived from allowing it to be seen for free. Doing so might actually generate enough interest to justify a restoration project which would, by virtue of being a new version, be more likely to bring in profits. (If nothing else, I'd at least like to see some sort of general non-commercial derivative works rights be granted, even if they came under the proviso of the original rightholder having first say on whether to pursue commercial exploitation of the new work, on the basis that most of the time remix culture isn't about someone wanting to make money by fiddling with an idea so much as it's about self-expression).

Of course, ensuring that prospective artists are taught about prudent fiscal planning rather than relying on ongoing residual income to fund their old age would be a good idea too. (Hell, it's a good idea for everyone to have such an education, but it particularly affects those in industries where there's a hope/expectation of being able to derive at least some ongoing income from a given piece of work).

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Captain Underpants

Interesting article, Andrew. I'm inclined to agree that, while copyright terms should be reined in, the orphan works ideas going around at the minute are the wrong way to approach the problem. If the only way you can strengthen the public domain is by putting people's work in there against their wishes, you've got a badly defined public domain.

That being said, i'm not sure Sky is the best choice of profit-making entity for comparison, since most people's subscription to Sky (or other similar services) involves paying for at least some stuff they don't want. Economies of scale may be the reason for this, but they don't make people any happier about eg having to pay for a sports channel sub they dont want or use.

2
0

Kickstarted mobe charger 'kicked to death by Apple'

Captain Underpants

Re: The Reg would never report the whole story would it...

@Nine Circles

Interesting development; got any links to verifiable or reputable accounts of this claim? Because otherwise you sound like someone defending Apple's bellendery with what amounts to" yeah, but the guy's totally a crook, someone down the pub said so".

4
4

OpenTV slaps Netflix with patent lawsuit

Captain Underpants
Thumb Down

Re: Analysis!?

@Turtle_Fan

Well, if technical details of the patents involved haven't been released and they cover handwavey ideas rather than specific implementations, technical analysis is difficult. And the political/business analysis is already there - though apparently you disagree with it, since you've ignored it.

5
0

Valve hauls down The War Z, offers refunds

Captain Underpants
Thumb Down

Re: Dead on arrival...

I can't imagine why, amongst gamers in particular, Valve might have decided to lock down the ability to smear shit all over the walls, figuratively speaking throw a tantrum in a manner unrelated to the process for requesting refunds.

I mean, it's not like open-access unmoderated communications systems have ever been shown to attract idiots and promote the kind of discourse that only a damaged brain would actively seek out, is it?

...

Oh, hang on a second...

0
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Wikipedia doesn't need your money - so why does it keep pestering you?

Captain Underpants

Re: one thing....

@System 10

Damn straight, if they can afford to pay canvassers they're doing charity wrong in my book. I make sure they don't get my money and redirect it to other charities actually doing research for worthy causes instead. (Oxfam are particularly bad in this regard, or at least they were last time I checked...)

6
0

Apple: What do our Maps need? Stalk-yer-buddies Foursquare tech, NATCH!

Captain Underpants

Re: What do they need?

@AC 10:47

Interesting point you raise, there. Historically cartographers have introduced minor errors into their maps deliberately as a legal resource (ie if a competitor copied them outright, including the listing of the non-existent Bellend Street, they could be taken to court and asked to show their evidence for including said street in the absence of proof it existed...). I wonder if persistent minor errors in any current mapping service might be there deliberately for similar purposes?

I've been caught out by depending on google maps before - foolishly relied on postcode-based search for my hotel and ended up traipsing all across Bristol only to discover the hotel was, in fact, 5 minutes walk around the corner from the train station...

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Captain Underpants
Meh

Re: What do they need?

@AC 16:43 - Yeah, I know, anecdotal evidence etc. I didn't mean to imply that was an across-the-board thing, merely to point out that I know at least one person for whom a loss of reliability in mapping software was enough of a problem that an OS upgrade would be put on hold until it was resolved.

A wider variety of services being available is a good thing, yes: but you're confusing "more than one mapping software provider working in the market" with "more than one mapping software provider specifically making an iOS app available". You could still use the web interface for Google or Bing maps (and possibly still others like mapquest, if they still exist). You could still use Google Maps on Android devices. You could still get dedicated satnav apps from the likes of Tomtom.

So, you know, I don't particularly agree that it's Apple's crap-at-launch-but-forced-on-users-anyway map that's suddenly going to force Google to up their game. Despite the RDF, Apple aren't the only source of competition in town, and until they've gotten their maps up to a decent standard it's disingenuous to treat them as a more relevant competitor than everyone else in the field just because of the fruit-shaped logo involved.

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Captain Underpants

Re: You just can't get the staff these days

@Pen-y-gors

You're missing the possibility of low level staff having friendly arrangements with journalists. Cleaning staff, security, general-pool secretaries. Wouldn't surprise me if it were a leaked story to try and get Foursquare fans on board, but I don't really buy that - aside from anything else, Foursquare split ways with Google earlier in the year for the OpenStreetMap project instead, so (lure of large bags of cash aside) it's hard to see how that would cohere with jumping into bed with Apple, whose maps are anything but crowdsourced...

0
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Captain Underpants
Meh

Re: What do they need?

@AC 16:20

You're right about competition being good, but wrong (IMO) about everything else.

Competition is good, but let's be honest - if Apple's core, ignore-everything-else-until-this-is-sorted, focus isn't on making Apple Maps at least as useful on a basic leve as Google Maps, then they're doing it wrong. The fact that the Google Maps App is back means that people will be installing the Google App and using it as their default mapping application - for example, I know at least 1 person who's held off the iOS 6 upgrade until the Google Maps app was available again, because they don't want to even try the Apple Maps version.

Social mapping might well be interesting, especially if Apple want to get Apple Maps into the location-advertising business. Working on that angle while their map application is so feeble that police forces in several areas have had to make public statements warning the public not to use or depend on it, and the average userbase relationship to the software is at best described as "hostile", is a combination of hubris and cart-before-horsemanship.

All of the above aside, Bing maps still exists and is a thing, as are the numerous dedicated GPS providers who work in this area. Not having an iOS application may be inconvenient, but it is not an indication of lack of competition - especially not since Apple has a veto over all app store listings, and demands a 30% cut of any profit made for sales through that channel.

6
1

Facebook to debut auto-play video ads in 2013

Captain Underpants

Re: One up for Windows Phone

Yeah, because it's not like those functions could be updated, or FB could put a block in place whereby accessing the service with a client that doesn't support the video ads just shows you a big frowny face and a "You need update your Facebook client" message.

I've got an Xperia Mini Pro with FB "baked into the OS" (which I dont use) and I still see updates for it.

1
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Captain Underpants

Re: Good luck with that

@The BigYin

I couldn't see it working. "Pay us to turn off the annoying crap we just introduced" works for nobody - users get annoyed at being expected to fork out cash for a service that only achieved its current size on the back of being free of ads and free to access at point of use (which, yes, was a very silly decision on the part of FB, but hey, it's a dotcom, silly decisions are par for the course), and advertisers paying to get their expensive videos shown on this hugely popular platform aren't going to be happy if the platform rolls out video ads at the same time as a "pay to not see video ads" option.

0
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Ten... tech stocking stuffers

Captain Underpants
Unhappy

Who at El Reg HQ seriously believes that as a last minute Christmas present, any of us is going to waste £180 on a monitor calibration tool just because it'll work on a FruitPhone? Or £260 for headphones, for that matter?

I mean, yes, I understand that these articles are at least 50% about the affiliate program clickthroughs, but still...had you offered stuff that people might even remotely be interested in picking up as impulse-buy last-minute gifts, it could've worked. I've no idea who this list is targeted at, only that they clearly have far more money than sense.

22
0

Coming soon to a theme park near you: Shocking ANTI-PIRACY NAG ADS

Captain Underpants

Re: Nagging

@silent_count

The problem is that at this point, the Naughty(TM) copies of new releases have all the stuff the best commercially available releases have.

So for example, if my OH wants to watch The Avengers again over Christmas, I can:

1) get the DVD with none of the stuff that US audiences got, which to me at least is more interesting than rewatching the film again, at a cost of £8-10

2) get a Naughty copy of same with the stuff US audiences got, at a cost of £0

3) Convince her to watch something else instead eg The Raid (my preferred solution, TBH).

(Before some smartarse says "Just buy the US Blu-Ray, it's region free" - I don't have or want a Blu-Ray player, and if I'm going to import films from another continent it'll be for something altogether better and more interesting than The Avengers...)

I've no problem with tiered releasing in terms of content - some films I want the multiple-disc "loads of extra stuff" edition, other films I just want the film and couldn't care less about extras. Where they're being stupid is in making certain editions available in some locations immediately, but not elsewhere, and then expressing surprise that people use the worldwide communications network to get around the stupid restriction. Fortunately, at worst all we've got to do is wait for the out-moded dinosaurs to die off, because all the people who replace them have grown up with this technology and don't have the same fear of it.

0
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Captain Underpants

Re: Academics vs businesspeople

@AC

Agreed. Personally I want to see more legislative measures designed to hit patent trolls in the nads - essentially expanding on FRANDy type ideas to get us to a point where, if someone can't prove they're working on bringing a patented idea to market, they have certain obligations to at least engage with other companies working in similar areas and discuss licensing etc. Otherwise you just get felonious bellendery.

6
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Copyright trolls, biz scum, freetards - it's NOT black and white

Captain Underpants
Thumb Down

Re: Not terribly impressive.

@Turtle

Do you not see the fairly substantial problem inherent in trying to foment an economy increasingly predicated on IP and its exploitation within a legislative framework where commonplace and in-practice-harmless actions such as ripping media for personal use is technically illegal? Such as the devaluation of laws intended to protect said IP and those business which depend on it in the eye of the average citizen, and a greater-than-desired tolerance for clearly-antisocial large-scale copyright infringement?

The fact that the police don't, right now, bust anyone who's ever downloaded DVD Shrink or Handbrake doesn't somehow invalidate the problem inherent in having laws under which actions are illegal despite the lack of desire of the government to spefically criminalise all instances of such actions nor the lack of interest of the CPS in pursuing the trial and conviction of individuals undertaking such actions.

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