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* Posts by Captain Underpants

716 posts • joined 24 Jul 2009

Door creaks and girl farts: computing in the real world

Captain Underpants
Unhappy

There's an awful lot of bellendery going on here that basically amounts to "I reckon Solution A is so awesome for all circumstances that I have no problem with Solution B being deprecated despite still being useful and having a different use case".

Providing the option of a laptop or desktop with no integrated optical drive is one thing, insisting on its absence in the latest model for no real reason another thing entirely ("Oh, it's thinner" is not a feckin' compelling reason on a 15" laptop, especially one whose chassis design was already at the lightweight end of the spectrum). I'm amazed at the people suggesting that those who need them "just buy/use dongles" - the entire point of wanting integrated components is to not have to carry a load of annoying peripherals around! I'm not sure what's so hard about this.

Oh, and for that matter - if the laptop costs the best part of two grand and has deprecated an onboard option that every other bloody vendor still has as an onboard option, then too %^&*ing right the vendor should throw it in as a freebie. Trying to go for the Ryanair "no-frills" sales pitch doesn't work when you're charging premium prices.

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Captain Underpants

Re: RE: what else do you want - parallel printer ports?

Yeah, I work in a research department where the lab kit in use has an actual operational lifespan at least 5 times longer than the average machine that will be used to interface with it. The software & hardware requirements make for interesting (to say the least!) support offerings, but it at least keeps the job from being dull.

Of course, there are cretins on here for whom "computing" means "operating a web browser and office productivity software", so of course they don't see the loss of hardware connectivity options as a bad thing...

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Forget Ultrabooks and Win 8 - only fondleslabs can save us now

Captain Underpants

Yes, the problem is definitely that people aren't buying Brand New Stuff they don't need/ can't afford, and it's absolutely definitely not down to a financial model that assumes that hardware sales can consistently grow regardless of financial conditions.

I can't help but wonder if analysis of those companies selling both hardware and decent after-sales support services have prospects quite as grim as are being suggested here...

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YouView: The long march to... er, where exactly?

Captain Underpants
WTF?

There's something very creepy about a piece written by Andrew "business model is a bullshit term used by nobody" Orlowski which features the phrase "technology only disrupts briefly and temporarily". It's like chatting to your nan and having her casually mention that the current batch of disco-biscuits doing the rounds are of a surprisingly high quality.

*shudder*

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Did your iPhone 'just stop working' - or did you drop it in your BEER?

Captain Underpants

The water exposure test has been around for yonks, hence the popularised "stick a blob of tippex on the end of a biro and cover the thing that's gone red, then pray to god they don't pay much attention when checking it" approach that crops up in various places around the web as a response to "Help I dropped my iPhone down the bog!".

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Microsoft sets the price for a Windows 8 upgrade at $40

Captain Underpants
Thumb Up

Re: @Captain Underpants

Actually, yeah - the big gotcha with WHS 2011 will be graphics support. Given the limited support for decent resolutions on external monitors with laptop-integrated GPUs it's not a given it'll work, though IME if you've got a dedicated GPU in there (even a feeble one) you'll be fine.

That said, I replaced an old Dell laptop with a Proliant Microserver and dropped in a cheap PCIE graphics card, then stuck WHS 2011 on it so it works as a combination NAS and HTPC, so it's not like I've tested it. Mind you, WHS 2011 is based on Server 2008 R2 so you could always download the trial of that, stick it on the hardware and see how you go.

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Captain Underpants
Meh

Re: @dogged

@h4rm0ny:

The thing is, I use a bunch of different packages on my machines, varying from some which are in near-daily-use and pinned to the taskbar to the ones that see use maybe once or twice a month. What I've found is that installing them to the Metro UI gives me either a condensed menu largely populated with stuff I don't want (seriously, I ended up with shortcuts to bloody Windows runtimes in there but not stuff I specifically want to use! That's just stupid, and if it's happening with MS' own runtimes there's hardly reason to believe everyone else will do better, is there?) or a full menu so bloody big and full of stuff I don't need and won't use that I'm typing more to narrow down to the selection I wanted than it would take even a slowpoke to move the mouse to the right place. Yes, I could "fix" the start page, but if the big selling point for a new OS is a redesigned UI where I'm going to keep having to correct for the UI's bloody awful method for selecting what bits of software it thinks I want to use then I'm not interested. As for the "start typing to find it" - I already do that for certain bits of software, but for a number of them even the better-than-Vista indexing in 7 doesn't correctly find at least half the stuff I want (thinking instead I want to call up the installation package that I have stashed somewhere, or any of dozens of vaguely-similarly-named media files etc) so that's not a goer either.

Beyond that, though...I think it's an exceptionally stupid idea to take a Windows UI that already has problems when it comes to certain configuration functions being hard-to-find, and incorporate several active corners that aren't labelled in any way. I'm not opposed to change that improves workflow, but I haven't seen any improvements to my workflow from what I've seen of Win8.

As for boot times...TBH I mostly use hibernation anyway, so cold-boot times are much less of an issue for me than they may be for some. I see them as kind of irrelevant these days anyway, because the best thing you can do to get a faster boot time is to use an SSD as your primary drive...

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Captain Underpants

@myarse

TBH you'd probably be as well off looking for Windows Home Server if it's HTPC work you're after. OEM copies can be had for cheap (as in, ~£40) and I can't imagine it being more resource-heavy than Vista.

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Captain Underpants
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@dogged

The thing is....

I've used it for about a week, week and a half and...I don't see any benefit from the Metro UI. It gets in my way. I don't want to have to be searching constantly in the UI's menu to find what would previously have already been neatly organised, I don't want to have to use a mouse to clumsily shift around an interface that would quite probably be great if I had a touch interface, and I haven't seen anything else that's enough of an improvement from Win7 to bother switching.

The UI can't be the only change, but I've not seen anything else that makes upgrading on existing hardware worthwhile. If I was buying a new, touch-enabled computer, hands down Win8 would be on there. As is, on my existing machines, I don't think I want to go anywhere near it.

In saying that, I remember this happening with XP too - the first year it was released it was a horrible Fisher-Price looking unstable load of wang, without any compelling benefits over Win2k. Once SP1 landed and sorted the stability issues (not to mention making USB2 properly native, along with a couple of other things) the upgrade path started to look clearer.

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Do you work in IT at RBS? Or at the next place to get hit ...?

Captain Underpants

Re: Help your manager look good?

@Anon:

Bear in mind that one way to "help your manager look good" is to help him show that he's on top of what his hard-working team are doing to help fix the problem.

I agree that helping your manager look good without also making yourself look good at the same time is silly and downright dangerous, but TBH given that the thinking going on here will be giving relatively little weight to issues like "actual technical competence" means that dealing with corporate insanity is the order of the day. So in that regard, same as it ever was...

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Breaking: Megaupload seizures illegal says NZ High Court

Captain Underpants
Thumb Up

Re: Its and it's (who gives a shit)

@edge_e

Don't get me wrong, I've no problem with not being able but I do have a problem with being proud of not being able.

Agreed. Reminds me of the Chris Rock "Niggas vs black people" skit, bemoaning the existence of people who "love to not know" - "I don't know that shit, I'm keepin' it REAL!"

Given the number and range of things that it is possible to know, not knowing any given thing is reasonable enough. Being proud or boastful about it is not.

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Apple users get pricier hotel options from Orbitz

Captain Underpants

Re: Not that big of a deal

I put a fairly high value on my time too, tbh - I just also accept that the state of play of technology *generally* is that some of it, especially for some of the more interesting stuff, *doesn't always work*.

My issue with the people you describe is that the ones I've met have mostly tended to be the sort of bellend who doesn't accept "Yep, it's knackered and will be until they fix it", and insists on a fix that they've just been told doesn't exist. Which is fine, unless they've already bought Toy A for Function B which relies on Poorly Written Software C, and no actual roadmap for delivery of Better Written/Tested Version Of Software D. Then they become a massive arseache, all because some self-important twit refuses to accept that technology, generally, just ain't as bloody shiny as the adverts claim.

And before anyone thinks of saying this doesn't happen with Macs, my workplace is an increasingly Fruitmachine-laden one where Mac users alternate between being normal human beings, smug tossers a la Apple adverts, and complaining about whatever's not working properly, like Time Machine (falling over non-trivially for no apparent reason for a number of people) or iCal (won't work with our organisational calendaring system sometimes, for no discernible reason) or Apple's crap turnaround on hardware support (1 week CAR if you're lucky, 2 weeks CAR if not, compared to NBD onsite from every other vendor we use). Or complaining that their onboard SSD is too small and how Apple have the audacity to not let them replace it with a third party one without losing warranty cover. Or complaining about the state of our network when what they mean to complain about is Apple's senseless option to provide wired ethernet for the MBA only via a USB dongle. (Even when I make them buy 2, one for travel and one for office, so that the office one always stays put...)

To put it another way - in the context of the original article, Apple have for the last decade positioned themselves as a premium consumer electronics vendor. It's hardly surprising that other retailers or middlemen will, when realising their customer is an Apple customer (and therefore evidently willing to spend extra for premium products), also highlight their premium offerings to them rather than start out offering them the cheap crap stuff.

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Captain Underpants
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Re: Not that big of a deal

The logic you're espousing, Dave 126, is that Apple computers don't piss those people off because Apple has convinced them that buying a new shiny computer every 2 years is normal and to be expected. I'm pretty sure if you spend equivalent cash on non-Apple hardware with eg Windows 7 pro or whatever installed, it wouldn't piss you off much either...

Wanting devices that work well doesn't have to equate to spunking a load of chase for $Brand_name. Apple's gear is very good in some respects, but their marketing would have you believe that buying an iDevice cures cancer and comes with complementary head from Scarlett Johansson and a few of her bestest friends...

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Captain Underpants
Meh

There's a problem here?

The article suggests that the only problem here is the average site user's intrinsic unwillingness to spend more than a few seconds looking for a suitable option. And, well, if that's the case then tough, really. Assuming that a business is automatically looking after your interests to its own detriment is a pretty stupid approach to take.

I'm not the biggest fan of profiling by platform or user agent, but given the incessant carping from certain subsets of the Apple userbase about how anyone who doesn't spunk cash on Apple gear just doesn't understand the concept of paying good money to get a worthwhile product, I don't see where the problem is in a company doing what Orbitz have done.

Perhaps someone could explain to me where the actual problem lies?

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Amount of meat we eat will barely affect future climate change

Captain Underpants
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Re: Only one number that really matters

@AC 12:20

No, I think what Gareth is on board with is understanding the concept of limited resources and not contributing to potential overpopulation, on a purely personal basis.

How you get from there to "immoral" is beyond me, given that you've mentioned no contextual framework for such a judgement to be made.

Don't let that stop you from being a total bellend, though. I mean, it hasn't thus far, right?

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Captain Underpants
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Hmm.

"We conclude that future improvements in agricultural efficiency, especially in the livestock sector, could make a decisive contribution to tackling climate change, but this would be maximised if the global trend towards more meat intensive diets can be reversed."

Given that there's a good amount of research showing that high-meat-intake diets have negative implications (increased probability of bowel cancer, etc) for people generally, I think that Lewis' dismissal of this research is a bit silly (but not particularly unexpected).

It's also worth noting the bit that he seems to have ignored:

"We find that there is only room for dedicated bio-energy crops if there is a marked increase in the efficiency of food production (sustained annual yield growth of 1%, shifts towards more efficient animals like pigs and poultry, and increased recycling of wastes and residues)."

That seems compatible with the general idea that changing our eating habits particularly away from beef.

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Sony slams Nintendo Wii U functionality

Captain Underpants
Thumb Down

Yeah yeah

This from the same company that spent five years crapping all over the Wii's motion-based control system, only to eventually release what amounted to a Wiimote knockoff with a glowing ball on the end.

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Apple 15in MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Captain Underpants

Re: As a mac user I won't be buying one

@Snapper

How about you stop being a tool instead?

A number of issues are highlighted here, including:

1) AppleCare doesn't provide on-site support for laptops so anything that requires Apple Support for installation (eg RAM/SSD upgrade, assuming they'll even offer them, and battery replacement) involves non-trivial travel

2) Apple's pricing on SSDs remains firmly in the realm of Mass Urine Transportation, and the same is true of their pricing on RAM. I appreciate they need decent margins, but they've outdone themselves in those areas.

3) If you're using a machine like this for professional purposes, chances are you want warranty cover. Which means no third-party upgrades (Apple aren't the only firm who'll try to use the "unauthorised system modification" line to invalidate your warranty, but they're pioneers in deploying new hardware configurations where replacing memory or the primary system drive is no longer a user-serviceable option).

It's luscious hardware in certain respects, but to dismiss someone's issues because they don't apply to you is one of many hallmarks of a cretin.

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Captain Underpants
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YEAH!

I mean, why do I have to have Firewire, Thunderbolt, *and* USB ports on my 2011-era 15" MacBook Pro!? WHY SHOULD I HAVE TO PAY FOR CONNECTIVITY THAT SOME OTHER BASTARD WANTS THAT I WON'T USE??!?!?!ELEVENTYZILLION!

Oh, wait, now that my momentary attack of being retarded has passed, I realise that this is the sensible way of doing it (having the connectors on the motherboard so they're available when necessary). Having them as dongles is less good, but given the price of the thing would still be acceptable - or are you seriously trying to suggest that someone willing to drop £1800 on a machine like this is going to balk when they discover that ~£20 of the price tag is for a dongle they may not need to use on a daily basis?

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Captain Underpants
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Re: which seems like a lot for a relatively modest upgrade, but that's SSD pricing for you.

Yeah, I was thinking that - sure even Orlowski wrote an article about this same machine the other day pointing out that Apple are charging around 3x the market price for some of the SSD uplift options.

No surprises there, it's long been something you have to accept - they'll give you nicely-integrated leading-edge tech but you'll most definitely pay more for it from Apple than from anywhere else. It'd be nice to see it honestly acknowledged though, rather than hidden behind some FUD based on SSD pricing trends from about 3 years ago...

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Captain Underpants

Re: iFixit teardown

Yeah, "sour grapes", that must be what it is.

Even if you *do* give it back to Apple, any actual raw material recycling is going to struggle if the point is that aluminium fused to glass can't be usefully processed with current processes. With Apple (and other tech firms) apparently steering their entire product line towards "magic box status" (ie nothing inside it that a user is able or allowed to tinker with), this is a non-trivial issue.

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Captain Underpants

Re: No Thanks...

@h4rm0ny:

Helpful to some extent, but not if you'd like any kind of warranty coverage. Which, of course, will be exactly what Apple were aiming for...frontload the purchasing costs and provide an additional "incentive" to buy new machines ("More RAM? You'll have to buy a new one for that").

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Captain Underpants

It's a lovely screen and the hardware specs are amazing, but the inability to even upgrade the onboard RAM, the loss of onboard ethernet (because God knows we love the opportunity to pay an extra £25 for an adapter to restore access to something that even £150 netbooks have as standard :S), the lack of an onboard optical drive, and the enormous Apple tax on the SSD upgrade pricing have me a bit concerned.

I will say it's great to see someone finally push for vertical resolutions of substantially more than 1000 pixels on a laptop, but I'm not convinced that any of us actually need (or will benefit, particularly) 220ppi displays...there again, talk of "need" is going to be considered inappropriate when discussing a machine like this.

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Kogan 'taxes' IE7 users

Captain Underpants

Re: Ignoring the reality

@Christian:

If you want an affordable version of Windows Server you can get Home Server 2011 (which is basically a rebadged and somewhat cut-down version of Server 2008 R2) for pretty cheap. You should probably look into whether it does what you need it to do before buying, though...

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10m years ago there was less CO2 - but the Earth was WARMER

Captain Underpants
Meh

Yeah, it's a genius approach Lewis has adopted, isn't it? Link to a paper that's behind a paywall, misrepresent it and claim that it backs your assertions, wave big stick at all current theories regarding possible links between human industrial activity and temperature fluctuations.

It's the factual veracity equivalent of that old chestnut about sincerity - facts are the key. Once you can ignore (or misrepresent those) you've got it made...

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You only want me for my BYOD

Captain Underpants
Meh

Re: BYOD - for the lucky few @AC 14:43

1: One purpose of centralised IS provision is to consolidate services to a standard ensuring that one set of services meets all needs.

2: Another purpose of centralised IS provision is to have a single point of reference and contact for problem-solving.

BYOD, compared to a well-implemented corporate device provision policy, will by definition involve a wider range of devices and configurations. This will have two impacts:

With regard to 1) it means that consolidation of services requires more effort because, despite the actual tasks being the same, the tools used to complete the tasks are more diverse. Being able to support 10 applications requires more work than being able to support 5, even if just at the "how do I?" level, but especially at the patching/distributing/licence-tracking level.

With regard to 2) it means that you're spending more money on spare parts and loaner machines (because consumer devices mostly don't have NBD on-site support, and when someone's MBP needs a new motherboard telling them they've got no machine for a fortnight doesn't work out well, and that's aside from the way that the BYOD usage model doesn't tend to involve people putting their data onto shared storage where they can access it from another machine easily...)

So - you're requiring a potentially substantial increase in knowledge (ie training resource) from your support staff, and an increase in work required to keep up the standard maintenance work. And that's before you discuss the cost of implementing proper network segregation if you don't already have it.

At this point, the onus is on you to prove that this will still work out to be cheaper or in some other way beneficial to the organisation than using the standard corporate model. You've not done that yet. I agree that discussing it rationally with actual numbers/reasoning is the best way forward, but short of throwing the exact sort of strop that you claim anti-BYOD types of throwing, you've not really presented your case very well...

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Captain Underpants

BYOD is arse because the entire point of consolidated and structured support is to reduce diversity of supported platforms so as to minimise overheads and maximise centralised system management efficiency.

In the absence of a fully-virtualised environment (and even then, how many crappy consumer cheapy laptops will boot from a VHD pushed out over the network and run it worth a damn?) this falls on its arse because instead of being able to have same-day/NBD onsite support for a limited range of platforms (even if this means buying and storing parts yourself) you have to wing it with a bunch of arsegravy-level hardware, not to mention putting up with supporting horrible home systems laden with personal data that make any support call a potential DPA-violating nightmare, dodgy software installs, OS installations missing every patch since the OS was released, and more.

Chances of that working out as cheaper than just providing a supported computer for those who need them? Slim to feckin' none, says I, and thus far none of the organisations who've measured the impact have provided numbers that suggest otherwise.

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I need to multitask, but Windows 8's Metro won't let me

Captain Underpants
Joke

I suppose if they've nicked the Dock idea and the App Store idea from Apple, it was only a matter of time before they nicked the idea of telling you to shut up and do what you're bloody told.

I dislike the Metro UI for much the same reason as Trevor. It seems a shame after finally introducing some decent keyboard-shortcut-based Window snapping functions in 7 (which combined with the Desktops add-in from Sysinternals makes 7 a very decent multitasking environment) they're ditching it in favour of Metro's "Giant Mobile Phone" approach. I've tried it repeatedly and frankly it can %^&* off.

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UK High Court split over Twitter airport bomb joke

Captain Underpants

Re: What a fool

Those of us paying taxes into the system maintaining the jail to which he is consigned for the Foul Crime of Making A Stupid (Yet Harmless) Joke won't think the overall situation's funny either.

Where's the benefit to society overall of taking someone who was working and paying tax and turning them into a convict over something this stupid? Surely a caution for Being Bloody Silly On The Internet would've been enough for this case.

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Captain Underpants
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Re: The consequences of....

Right, yes, because of course what will work for all of us in a truly pragmatic sense is to treat every word posted on the internet as being an entirely serious statement, without doing any work to check whether there's due reason to do so.

You do realise the same people enforcing this system you trust so much are also the stupid bastards who do things as important to our overall safety as (mis)using the Extreme Pornography sections of the Coroners & Justice Act to make life difficult for knock-off DVD sellers, or attempting to convict people for possession of child pornography based on the heinous possession of a book sold in high-street bookshops containing photos featured in a high-profile & well-received photography exhibition (despite not pursuing the book's publisher or the original exhibiting gallery), or letting the police force continue to treat the taking of a photograph as a potential crime on the basis of misunderstood anti-terrorist legislation, yes?

Explain to me how it's a benefit to society over all to add this guy (who, while a bit silly, was until this incident working and paying tax, and therefore a contributing member of society) to the ever-growing prison population? Nobody's demonstrated that he's a threat to anything except perhaps your utter terror of people Making Jokes About Things You Consider To Be Srs Bsns, so I'd say that's a textbook case of Legal Fuckupery With Bellendery Aforethought.

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Captain Underpants
Facepalm

Re: The consequences of....

@AC

Don't be a bellend. Treating a bad joke like a serious threat is about as sensible as the US Military using security-through-jailing-those-intruders-they-catch. It doesn't *actually* work to protect the infrastructure concerned from the threat you're dealing with - it just serves as a convenient web in which to snare other folks thrown into the spotlight more or less at random.

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Captain Underpants
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Re: Seriously

@MrZoolook:

That would have required them to take it seriously. Which, you know, they didn't. They took the eminently sensible approach of dismissing it as a silly comment in terms of airport operation (ie remained open and carried on operating as normal), yet tried to pull a DoubleThink when reporting it and claiming that it was a serious threat, etc.

Mentally-deficient thinking all the way, frankly - because if they think this is any use in terms of deterring those with actual intent, they're being silly. In the same way that a credible threat who seriously wants to harm the USA (or whatever other country you want to name) *wont* be the moron lining up in a turban & flowing pyjamas with a long beard and the "ISLAM 4 LIFE YO" t-shirt.

If the airport want to try the "it was a credible threat" defence I look forward to reaping the ancillary benefits - specifically, access to the time machine they'll need to build in order to go back to the original incident so that they can change their response and act like they cared.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Everybody sing!

@AC

Could always use "twunts" instead of your current choice. Not *quite* obscene (in the same way that "quim" isn't entirely obscene because lots of folks don't know what it means).

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Trekkie wants to build USS Enterprise … in twenty years

Captain Underpants

Re: A journey to Alpha Centauri

@Steven Roper:

In terms of the energy expenditure, we'd realistically need a space elevator before we could even consider most of the rest of this stuff.

In terms of far space exploration, energy & mineral resource constraints make it more likely that we'd fire off a tiny tin can containing some sort of solid-state system running a variation of emulated human consciousness (a la Stross' Accelerando), IMO.

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Google warns against ISPs hard on web filth

Captain Underpants
Meh

Someone from the Daily Mail making comments one would expect only from a complete & utter gobshite?

I AM SHOCKED. SHOCKED AND ASTOUNDED, I TELL YOU.

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UK's '£1.2bn software pirates' mostly 'blokes under 34'

Captain Underpants
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@Mr C Hill, & AC

Well if you don't like GIMP (and I'm not a fan of its UI, but then I came to it after becoming accustomed to various other ones) then use Gimpshop. Or Paint.NET. Or Inkscape. Or, I don't know, fucking look around for a bit and find something else.

As for Open/LibreOffice...from what I see, in at least 2/3 of cases it's effectively a drop-in replacement for what most people use MS Office for. Unless you actually use Sharepoint or need Outlook for Exchange-Flavoured Goodness, or you're using non-trivial macros in your spreadsheets, you're not as bound to MS Office as you'd think.

The point is, these alternatives are out there. Nobody said they'd be exactly what you want a $FUNCTION package to be, but at least you have a choice that allows you to spend £0 and get something that might do what you want/need to do.

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Captain Underpants

@AC 12:07

It's not always as simple as "Oh, personal use shouldn't matter".

Your graphic designer mate, for example, is probably actually allowed to use CS on his home machine using the same licence as is present on his work machine. The Adobe licences I've seen for work machines allow 1 non-concurrent-use installation on a personal machine. Not much use if you can't initially get work to pay for it, but better than nothing. If he's using a shonky copy at home, it's more than likely because he hasn't bothered checking the licence terms.

Similarly, you using a shonky copy of Vegas Pro for home faffery...well, if it took you time to learn how to use it, you could've just as easily spent that time learning to use VirtualDub or something else. Similarly, you could've tried a trial of the package whose licence cost was within your reach, instead of just deciding that you should jump for the full cracked version. (It's worth noting that in the past I've done the same thing, but about 5 years or so ago I realised, with some surprise, that not only could I afford licences for any commercial software I actually need to use - because I don't need much, and thus far the pro version of Manga Studio's the most expensive SW package I've bought - but that for a lot of what I do there are decent FOSS packages that I can use jsut as well. About the only thing I can say for having been passed a dodgy copy of Photoshop years ago is that it meant I learned how to use Photoshop rather than CorelDraw...)

As for the "lost productivity" argument - it only works if you were hired specifically to do advanced design work using Specific Tool X. Gimp or Paint.Net aren't drop-in replacements for Creative Suite. However, for the majority of uses of Microsoft Office in an SME environment (or even in non-regimented large environments, ie where Sharepoint etc isn't mandated) Open/LibreOffice is damn near a drop-in replacement. GIMP & Paint.NET are fine for people who need to tinker with the occasional image but aren't preparing weekly/monthly publications for print. Scribus is fine for basic layout work. There are a variety of free (some FOSS, others not) PCB & CAD tools that are commonly used in HE environments specifically because grant holders don't particularly *want* to pay an AutoDesk tax for CAD tools if they can help it.

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Captain Underpants

Re: Underpants

It means you haven't read enough Pratchett, is what it means :P

(More helpful answer: I first saw it used in one of the more recent Pratchett books but I couldn't tell you which one. However, it appears to be a mangled translation of a French expression that means something like "don't make me laugh".)

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Captain Underpants
Meh

@h4rm0ny

"As to your doubt that the figure is anywhere "remotely like" an extra $1.2bn, the estimate legal spend on software last year in the UK was over US$5.5bn, so is a 20% rate of infringement so unbelievable?"

If you pay attention to what I actually *said*, you'll realise that my point of contention was not the rate of infringement but the feasibility of converting those infringements into an extra 1.2 billion UK£ of software licencing spend. At a time when UK.gov is talking about "efficiency savings" and public sector bods are being raked over the coals for excessive spending on IT (not to mention having funding slashed) and efforts to help create/grow small business are being stepped up, do you seriously think there's going to be a concerted government sponsored effort to create a massive increase in spending on software licencing? Particularly on products where the vast majority of the profit will be a net flow of money *out* of the UK?

Oh, it is to laugh.

Let's assume that the full cost of licencing for the 1.2 billion licenses is accurate (just for lols). Let's also assume that it's all in business use (also for lols, and also something I'm not particularly prepared to believe). Larger businesses that need such products will tend to benefit from the equivalent of the MS Volume Licence agreement, so that's not full cost. They're also aware that they get scrutinised regularly so a majority of them *should* be smart enough to realise that getting busted for unlicensed software is more expensive than investing in sw management & audit systems. Same for public sector bods (at least in the current climate). So you're looking at SMEs. Given that they're currently being pimped as the key to solving the current economic woes here, any expectation that a sw supplier has of demanding full-whack licence costs for their software has to go out the window - because the response will be "Can't afford it, we're closing down/moving to FOSS" at which point the only likely input from UK.gov is "Well, the BSA needs to support growing UK businesses, how about you offer a goodwill discount?"

And that's for those organisations that don't hire someone smart enough to mention that, if you've got in-house support worth a damn, FOSS can often meet all the requirements with far less in the way of licencing issues. (GIMP/Paint.NET/Inkscape can do a good bit of graphics work if you know how to use 'em right, Scribus can do layout work a la InDesign, Open/LibreOffice will do your office productivity stuff, etc etc). Are they drop-in replacements? No. So you'll be looking at training for the new products. But then you had that with the office 2k3-2k7 transition anyway. And training on using FOSS is a one-time expense for the package, compared to the recurring licence fee for the equivalent.

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Captain Underpants
Meh

Out of curiosity, are they basing this number on anything other than the imaginary sum of money they really wish would materialise out of thin air into their pockets? Because, while I don't doubt that there are a good few infringements going on, I do have serious doubts that there's any effective way of converting them into anything even *remotely* like an extra 1.2 billion quid spent on software licences...

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Rovio flies away from Angry Birds for all-new puzzler

Captain Underpants

"this is the first game Rovio has taken under its wing that doesn't feature catapulted birds."

In fairness, they'd tried fifty one games before Angry Birds and they failed, commercially speaking, so wringing every possible penny out of Angry Birds does make sense of a sort. (Citation: http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2011/04/features/how-rovio-made-angry-birds-a-winner)

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Sony blames record $5.7bn loss on everything but Sony

Captain Underpants

Re: why the hate?

The thing is, though...

Sony Centre != Sony, but rather importantly they have paid for a licence to use Sony's logo and trademarks.

So if Sony Centre as a non-Sony company run a load of shops offering the kind of retail experience (in terms of shop layout, stock availability, and staff training/knowledge/professionalism) that you expect from a particularly bad Dixons (or, worse, Argos!), then while it's not doing Sony any harm directly (because their bottom line isn't directly affected) it's still massively harming the brand because it establishes/reinforces the idea that Sony are greedy gits providing poor value for money.

For Sony Centres to have a future, they need to be the Sony equivalent of an Apple store. Hell, Sony could learn a lot from Apple. (I don't like the Fruity Ones, particularly, but I acknowledge that they do a lot of things very well, one of them being keeping a tight reign on their product line to avoid bloat).

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Captain Underpants

Re: why the hate?

The problem is that Sony, as with most large corps, can be viewed as a mixture of Good Sony & Bad Sony.

Good Sony is, say, the Playstation - revolutionising console gaming at a time when the established players were either being arrogant bellends (Hello Nintendo!) or driving themselves into bankruptcy with about ten times as many hardware platforms in development as they could actually sell (Hi there, Sega!). Or the PS2. Or the Walkman. Or the Minidisc. Or Sony-Ericsson (early in its lifespan). Or even arguably the Betamax standard.

Bad Sony is Sony Music being involved enough in price-fixing that they were part of a settlement. Or the infamous rootkit debacle. Or pushing the Blu-Ray standard over HD-DVD (with the ugly prospect of problematic DRM rearing its head more and more). Or the excessive diversification of their mobile phone line (consider: they had 98 mobile phones either on sale or in support phase *after* completing an extensive overhaul and reduction of the line overall). Or the various forms of after-the-fact bellendery with the PS3 (removing OtherOS support with a firmware upgrade, going back on their stated intention to provide support via emulation for PS2 games). Or spending several years insisting that everything about the Wii was a big bag o' shite, only to eventually come up with the Move...which was basically a Wiimote with a glowing ball on the end. And of course the by-now-infamous PSN outage/hack.

For the last couple of years, Bad Sony has been in the ascendant, and I think that's what has hit them hard.

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Captain Underpants

Re: "poor consumer appetite for shiny gear"

@DrXym: You'd be surprised. Apple aren't great on after-sales support (even large HE organisations get CAR-type support on laptops, rather than the NBD that you get with vendors who understand how to deal with non-consumer usage requirements) but Sony are even worse. As far as I know they aren't allowed on approved supplier lists for plenty of UK universities because their support offerings aren't strong enough to meet sustainability requirements (which are managed just fine by the likes of Dell and Apple, so can't be *that* stringent).

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Ten... freeware gems for new PCs

Captain Underpants

A few more

CDBurnerXP - I prefer it to Imgburn, though both are good

Paint.NET - I find its menu structure more straightforward than GIMP, plus there's a good community developing plugins that extend functionality a lot

Audacity - best free sound editor going, IMO

Virtual Clone Drive - since Windows still can't do much with ISOs natively, this creates a virtual loopback device so you can mount & manipulate them

GSMART control - querying SMART data from installed drive

Acronis Drive Monitor - handy little drive monitoring tool

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BOFH: Siri, why do users lie?

Captain Underpants
Happy

YAY! New BOFH is always good.

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Judge: Big Five ISPs must block The Pirate Bay

Captain Underpants
Meh

It's a tricky one.

The only way that's going to usefully achieve anything like a viable "success" rate is also going to blatantly squash a whole bunch of other stuff on which the internet depends, because if it can be defeated by something like a filename change it's pointless. Ditto encryption. At which point a lot of the stuff that the 'net facilitates which is legal and contributes to legitimate business (online banking, digital media purchases, etc) suddenly become vulnerable and useless (if record label drones are given An Magic Box which lets them look at an encrypted data stream from my machine so that they can tell whether it's a Pirate Copy of Adobe CS5 or an online banking session, you can be absolutely certain I will neither be buying software packages via digital distribution systems nor using online banking or merchant services).

Which is a long way of saying - to a large extent I sympathise with those aggrieved by this, but it's going to be bloody hard to find a useful fix that doesn't also break a whole load more stuff along the way.

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Nintendo: PS3 rules Europe, Xbox tops US

Captain Underpants

Re: I'm confused

@toadwarrior

I agree the Wii's at the end of its life, and I do think it's a bit silly/disingenuous to try and dismiss first-party titles for it (a massive part of Nintendo's success is based on those titles, and it's not like they aren't any good). But, well, I don't have enough time to spend on gaming to have burned my way through every game in the back catalogue so the fact that the only game I listed above that's <6 months old is NFS: The Run doesn't really bother me.

Yeah, if I had 30+ hours a week to spend on gaming, had done so over the last 5 years and had the money to buy every game I wanted at full price, I might be in a different position. But, you know, that's kind of like saying that if I shat gold bricks I'd be rich - it might be true, but it's so vanishingly unlikely to actually happen that it's a pointless comparison.

I do think Nintendo missed a trick with WiiWare, I found a few great games on there but they let too many muppets put too much crap on there, delayed the availability of the demo function until far too late, and gave it no first-party support. As someone pointed out elsewhere, DLC for Wii Sports or even Wii Fit would've been a great way to boost awareness of the WiiWare channel.

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Captain Underpants
FAIL

Re: I'm confused

Nah, mate, not everything on the Wii sucks.

No More Heroes 1 & 2, Red Steel 1 & 2, Blazing Angels, the Shaun White games (World Stage, Road Trip & Skateboarding), Need For Speed: The Run, House Of The Dead: Overkill, Ghost Squad, Madworld....

That's 12 games off the top of my head which are all excellent rather than the kiddie fare you imagine. And not a Nintendo property amongst 'em.

I would imagine the same can be said of the PS3 or XBox 360. If you wanted to pick a fight with the Wii, you'd be better off arguing that it doesn't get anywhere near as many decent indie games on the store, though I think the range of games available on the virtual console goes some way to make up for that.

All platforms have good and sucky games. If you're going to be a mug and not look for the pearls, well, don't be surprised if you end up elbow-deep in pigshit.

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Captain Underpants
FAIL

Re: I'm confused

"Consoles are always loss leaders"

Well, yeah, except when they're not. The Wii's been profitable since day one, not to mention having a much wider appeal for most of its lifespan than other consoles (despite its blatant limitations compared to its rivals). Besides which, the whole "loss leader" thing relies on racking up enough sales to be able to get developers on board paying licence fees. If the Wii managed to get not only greater uptake than its rivals in its first five years on sale but also to turn a profit all the while, it would be a very very stupid idea indeed to not try and learn from how Nintendo achieved that while Sony achieved pretty much the opposite.

As for the PS3 being profitable - that appears to be on a per-unit basis. They're a long way away from having made up the enormous hole into which they dug themselves to try and make sure Blu-Ray became the new standard for optical media.

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