188 posts • joined Wednesday 19th August 2009 02:12 GMT
Not a bad idea, but not a magic bullet either
David Cameron's remit, as PM, is to grow the UK economy. So from that angle I have no problem with him inviting top talent to live and work in the UK, just like the UK would for a leading research scientist. The US has a system like this (the O1A visa, IIRC) and it works very well (and the standard is extremely high: this is *not* a backdoor for the underpaid IT contractor to get in. More like a system for people who have been on the cover of Time to get in. In fact, recognised global acclaim is one of the criteria.)
Having said that, top talent is fought over by employers and countries alike. So getting your superstar into your country is only a small part of the story. The bigger question is whether the environment they come in to helps. Are their good schools for their kids to go to? Is there a health care system? Is there ready access to sources of capital, not just money but land, people and machinery? Is the market fair and does it protect property? Will their success be celebrated, or sniped at (superstars have egos after all)? Are their cultural barriers (for example if the superstar would be in an ethnic or linguistic minority group within the host country)?
No one country scores highly in all categories, but the US, for all its faults, beats all the other major economies of the world hands down. I'm no superstar, but I left the UK for the US a decade ago, and it has been game-changing in terms of the opportunities I've had.
There's old hardware, and there's good, old hardware
I'll upvote you for the monitor (like a light saber, an elegant device from a simpler time) and the tablet (curiosity) but the printer surely should be relegated to the dustbin of history. As should pretty much all soho inkjet printers, with a special place in hell for Windows GDI printers.
As for the IBM mechanical keyboards, they were a classic. Any records of it being used as a weapon? Maybe near IBM Greenock? Begbie characters and a 10lb keyboard = "tha's a greet bat, ya hoor".
Re: And this beats Glacier...how?
Because it's your data on your hardware. Not your data on rented space in a colo where the NSA, the Chinese government and AWS miner bots can play with it all day.
I'm liking the idea of this unit for SMBs. For those guys, having your shop burn down is the kind of thing that happens all too often, and very few businesses survive it.
Nice to see an article about computing in the real world, where people have budgets and PR doesn't count for squat.
Not sure what the IT landscape is like chez Mr 12 but you mustn't forget the longstanding Windows bias of schools. My Mr 12 dual boots Ubuntu and Win 7: we've got nearly everything playing nicely on the former but every so often the school system will do something like mandate an online textbook with plugins that work only on Windows. It's becoming less of an issue as the years go by, because (personal theory) most content is now web based, and the publishers know they must deal with asizable and vocal minority of Mac users, but it still happens.
One option I did not see mentioned in the event that you need to but something new might be (draws a deep breath) a Surface2? In my part of the world they are heavily discounted, but they actually work pretty well. They might not be as price competitive as a lappy though.
If only it was that easy to keep the OS drive and user files separate on C: and D: in Windows-land. No matter how hard I try, Windows and application developers continue to insist on spraying crap all over the C: drive. Sometimes things show up in C:\, sometimes in \users\xx\, sometimes in Documents, and most insidiously, in deep locations in hidden folders like appdata\Roaming\Microsot\OnlyOnWednesdays\Adobe\foo\1234. And don't get me started on the Registry.
If Microsoft were Jimmy Savile (the wish granter, not the creepy perv) I would say, Dear Microsoft, please can you fix it for me to put my OS on a read-only C drive, my apps on a read-only D drive, global app and OS settings in one hierarchy, and per-user data in another. And please electrocute anyone who tries to break the rules.
Re: Don't like the competition...
Exactly. The more news about mass surveillance is reported, the less attractive storing your life in the cloud becomes and the less valuable FB, Google and so on are. Add the slowly dawning realization that FB etc have to mine your data to stay in business, and people will start to drift away. I can't wait.
State sponsored (where's a black helicopter icon when you need one?)
If I was a state actor, or a serious industrial espionage outfit, it would be very sensible to target software packages that are dominant in narrow markets. The fact that AutoCAD files might also contain jolly juicy info about new designs and technology is very enticing.
By the same logic, Siemens' SCADA stuff for industrial process automation would be exciting. Oh, wait.
Of course, it depends on the market domain of the software. I'm told that InDesign replaced QuarkExpress as the leading professional magazine layout application, but presumably the Chinese/Americans/Russians don't feel the need to know what's in next month's issue of People magazine.
Perhaps, just maybe, criticizing Dell because it doesn't have your favorite distro or because you want to get a cheap shot off at Windows 8 is like telling your five-year old that they are stupid because they can't tie their shoelaces perfectly. Very big of you, I'm sure.
It takes big companies a immense amount of work to get a product out of the door. Were you there when some true Linux enthusiast pitched the idea to Dell's management? Did you take the bullets when the N-Series Optiplex failed? And did you pick yourself up off the floor and try again?
No? Then stop the snark. Buy one or don't buy one, but don't be a smart-ass about it.
where to start? Oh yes, Cesil is NSFW!
My curiosity piqued by the reference to Cesil, I made the mistake of googling it. Don't. Especially not the image search.
Nubility aside, my fondest memories of RM were the Nimbus machines. There was some demoware that came with it that played a Bach fugue and me and my mates spent far too long trying to get the ten machines in the room to all play it at the same time. Somehow our teacher, who was years ahead of his time, managed to get copies of Turbo Pascal and Zortech C. (Thankyou Mr Balls). I never forgot one kid in my class. We were all producing reasonable stuff, like graphing programs and text editors, to show off our understanding of algorithms and data structures, and then he comes in one day and shows us the C compiler he had written. Total, jaw-dropping mastery of the subject.
My least fond memory, and I cringe to recall it, is interviewing at RM straight out of college. Panel interview with three old guys and one, er, Cesil. She started asking questions about networking and it became immediately apparent that I was the stupidest muppet to ever darken their doors. Truly cringeworthy.
Support is coming out in the next release, apparently. I wouldn't hold your breath.
Mis-priced the stock, then
"Twitter and its financial advisors will be patting themselves on the back and counting their bucks after the firm's first day on the stock exchange saw its perceived value rise 73 per cent at the close of trading"
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where the bubble starts. Let's see. The Twits paid Goldman $59m to raise as much moolah on the open market as possible. So Goldman's best will have pored over the books, talked to investors, done their research, and priced in the hype-factor when setting the price of the stock. Which leads me to the last point. Goldman either thought the right price was what they opened at, and were caught unawares (the Muppet Defense) when the stock shot up; or they deliberately priced low to get a boost (voila, the Bubble starts here).
Go on, it would be comedy gold.
I'm totally with BillG here
BillG is right. Yes, 'net access is a wonderful thing. Yes, it will lift many millions of people out of poverty over the long haul. But the breathless wonder in which plans to net-connect the planet through balloons or solar powered muppets or whatever it is this week is intensely grating when you know there are millions of people who do not have food, clean water and sanitation.
We went down this path in the 1960s. A bright-eyed NGO would show up to some unfortunate village with a truck full of machinery (courtesy of the US, or the Soviets) and dole them out exclaiming how wonderful it was that now they can industrialize. A few years later the machines are in pieces and bits are acting as someone's roof. Lazy Africans? No. They simply took what they had and solved the more pressing need.
Delivering Facebook and YouTube to people without sanitation is in the same vein. Come to think of it, Facebook is full of the brown stuff anyway so you are just dumping sh** on people who already have enough.
If that's a cup size, you'd barely be able to see over the top. Google Glass would be the least of your worries.
Re: Name, Address and Signature
that was my initial reaction: "El Reg, have you lost your mind?" But look closer: the addy is that of the court and the sig is illegible (and we have the perp's name from the story anyway). so all cool here, nothing to see, move on.
Bit weird...and by no means out of the woods
This boils down to Cisco offering source code to their implementation of H.264, and somehow tracking every time someone builds it into a binary blob so that they can pay MPEG-LA. Otherwise, the lawyers at MPEG-LA would be gearing up for a licensing fight with Cisco, surely?
With my tinfoil hat on, it occurs to me that making Cisco's implementation of H.264 the defacto standard across a bazillion devices is probably rather good business for Cisco.
Re: Nokia saves another MS OS?
Citation needed, if you are claiming that Windows on MS tablets has architectural advantages over the competition. Otherwise this could simply be that too few people have them to make them an attack target.
We really need a metric like the transport industry has, like crashes per million miles. Vulnerabilities discovered per year per million compute hours or something.
Re: file type reassignment?
Use the assoc and ftype commands in a Command Prompt window typically does it for me with no fuss.
Re: I would like to point out...
Noddy Holder seemed to think so. It's the only explanation for Cum On Feel The Noyze.
Re: core components of the service, such as networking, remain critically unstable
I'd modulate that comment to "it just has to be good enough...and improving enough". This is the lesson from Microsoft's history: a bit weak to begin with but improving continually until its perfectly serviceable. You can do the rapid improvement only if you have the freedom to develop rapidly. O/S has to tread *incredibly* carefully here - it's very easy to succumb to Second System effect, or have the pace of development squeezed out of it by all the founding members' interests. We shall see.
Re: Psst, big biz, want an all-flash Windows Server box?
The 90s called, they want their OS jihad back.
I'd like any kind of decent server running entirely in memory. The fact that it's Microsoft, or Windows, is irrelevant. WinServer is actually pretty frickin' good. Not likely to tempt me away from my Linux and BSD farms, but if SQL Server or Oracle was my business, you bet I would be checking this out. All the OS and the data in RAM, all the time? Hell yeah.
Re: "they have no ability to procure a warrant"
Ah, Richard Stilgoe. "Statutory Right of Entry to your home". Go google it.
All power to 'em and all, but... why?
All power to Aereo for sticking one to the man, and such, but isn't this like a monk with a marker pen saying, "I can draw those pretty books you have much faster, Abbot" when nice Herr Gutenberg is already cranking out bibles?
OK, so that's a tortured analogy. But supposing we could get free-to-air TV on any device, at any time, from any market. Would there actually be anything worth watching? I find there is less and less programming of any sort on any kind of TV-like service that I want to watch, and of that that I do, it's all consumed online.
Smells like http://xkcd.com/927/ to me.
C? Python? Oh god no
"If old Google was like C, Hummingbird is like Python or Ruby."
Come back C, all is forgiven.
I think your optimism may be misplaced. Fan or no fan, BB's new overlords bought it for one reason: to make money from the business. If they find a way to make BB relevant in technology again, lovely, but they'll be just as happy if the future of BB is as a maker of plastic hamster wheels.
Re: Xbox/PS question for the room
1. Games really ought to get rid of auto-lock/auto-focus.
2. Firing a gun, accurately, is hard.
3. Teaching people that firearms need to be handled with respect to get the intended result, and failure to obey has consequences, might just carry over into the real world.
Reconstruct, don't just restore
Your backup administrator fundamentally needs to decide whether they are backing up state or reconstruct-ability. There are many tools to backup state, but they tend to evolve into fragile silos: you have your database backup, say, and then your web server farm, each has its own backup tools and saved-backup format, and you can't say that service is back until all parts of all silos have been restored. And thrice woe unto you if you missed out something that should have gone into your silo at the time of the last backup. (You mean the special sauce config wasn't in the Registry? And the app doesn't start without it? Err.....)
Reconstructability is a different approach. Supposing your systems died and your backup tapes vaporized. How would you rebuild everything? Maybe you would extract data from a payroll system, or your web designer's CMS, massage it, and then squirt it into a database. These are the steps that need to be documented and automated. How will you rebuild the database in the first place? Maybe you'll use Chef or cfengine or somesuch. The point is not to attempt to capture state but to actually recreate what you need to get up and running.
There probably isn't a 100% correct answer for all scenarios, but over the years I have become more convinced that reconstructability is much more important than state backup, and has many positive benefits outside of backup/recovery besides.
Oh my, aren't we all smartasses today
It's so easy to stand on the sidelines and throw rocks at someone who has tried, however imperfectly, to make things better. Especially when the group is a government agency and especially in triplicate when it's law enforcement.
But get this: smartphone theft is a pain in the ass for the cops as much as it is for the victim. If it's not your smartphone, you see a loss of a few hundred dollars. If on the other hand you are the victim you see your digital identity, which is extremely valuable, disappearing down the street. So the cops have to reconcile the victim's perception of the severity of the incident with what they know objectively about the the chances of getting it back.
Now we have technology that allows a user to remotely wipe the device, reducing the impact of the crime to normal-but-annoying levels. Isn;t that worth publicising?
I would love to see cops handing out flyers saying, "FFS, Windows XP users, get off yo' asses and upgrade already. And lay off the email attachments". But sadly, I think I will have to wait.
Re: re: Why would we have known about it?
The IRA were indeed a bunch of turds. But the problem with the 1970s was that our own security forces had a nasty little habit of beating the crap out of the wrong people. Or imprisoning people for the unspeakable crime of being Irish on a train the day after a bombing (the Guildford Four spring to mind).
The day we can know, with 100% certainty, whodunnit, you can get the pliers out. But until then, I prefer the rule of law. History has a habit of proving that 100% one day looks like 95% the next and before you know it is down at rather-dubious.
Re: The way that Microsoft lost
+1 for the phrase "Instead users are using their mobiles to call in an air-lift." Brilliant.
Isn't it going to be the mother of all ironies if Microsoft/Nokia trip over their laces just as Apple get caught in the badlands of Un-Innovation (nothing new in iOS worth buying an iPhone for) and the world needs another alternative to Android.
Myst great. Riven, not so much. But all must bow to the Neverhood
Myst was great for the time, and my CDROM could just about keep up. Riven was unplayable - too many trips to the CDROM to retrieve another sodding bird squawk.
Since we're on the topic of antiques, I have to mention my all time fave - The Neverhood. Cmon Klayman!
Arrogance bordering on racism methinks
"There are a lot of datacenter-related issues already, such as the high cost of electricity, access to skills and even the temperature, which makes it expensive to run those facilities in Brazil," Bird said.
What does he think Brazil is? It's not a giant sinkhole of dimwits with a big forest out the back. I think that anyone giving even a moment's thought to what modern Brazil is like would surely realize that none of the above were really true.
- Electricity is cheap in the US because local pols throw money to attract data centers to their state. No reason why Brazil couldn't do the same (and, perhaps more creatively, you'd think having a bloody large river out the back might give someone some ideas about how to power or cool those servers).
- Access to skills is a strawman since Brazil is full of talented people just like the US is. There are, no doubt, also a large number of numpties, but that's not a uniquely Brazilian feature.
- The temperature. Really? REALLY? Because the US has such a jolly mild climate? C'mon. That is a feeble excuse.
Have aliens taken over El Reg?
Good lord...five pages of in-depth technical flim-flammery (I mean that in its most complimentary fashion)? It was like reading an old issue of Byte magazine. Remember those 'some assembly required' columns? You ended up building a disk controller out of a tin can and still haveing to program it yourself. In Z80 assembler.
Anyway, to get back on topic, my muso friend claims that whilst MIDI was jolly useful, it wasn't until they stuck a controller on the Atari ST that it really took off. From that moment any spotty yoof could sound like they knew what they were doing. Comments?
They're not done yet
Sorry, still confused.
Take Office 365. Is that an application or a cloud service? Isn't it both?
Take Windows virtualization/VM whatever. Is that an operating system or a cloud application? Isn't it both?
Take XBox One/online. Is that a game experience of a cloud application? Isn't it both?
If your customers can't tell immediately, without being told, which part of your organization is in charge of the thing they are interested in, you are doomed.
RIP Dr Nemeth
I loved the old red UNIX system admin book - written at a time when the UNIX Wars were in full swing and Nemeth, Snyder et al had to describe six different close variants of each action for whatever they were describing (and then write something completely different to cover AIX).
A sad way to go, but thanks for the contribution to my life, Dr. N.
One vote for Steven
Can I stick a vote in for Steven S? I see so much timidity in corporate life I really think that having the balls to rip up the win95-through-7 design book and try and out-innovate the UI is commended. yes, it was a failure. but let's have people try, fail and try again instead of sitting around from the sidelines complaining that no-one ever tries anything new.
Re: Allow me to reciprocate
It can be done. In fact, I used to run a business aimed at the S end of SME and installed hundreds of *nix systems whilst still giving the users enough function and eye candy to make them productive *and* happy.
There are different levels of nix-ness to take an SME customer to.
The simplest is to let them keep Windows on the desktop and replace the back end file servers and suchlike with a *nix. I used OpenBSD for firewalls and samba because it would run on ancient hardware without keeping me up all night worrying that it'd been hacked. You could do the same on Linux today. This is a good option for mom-n-pop businesses that buy their PCs through the retail channel (Dixons, Best Buy etc) and who do not want to have to think about anything complicated. Or you can cheat even more and buy one of those little Linux based NAS boxes like the Netgear Stora.
The next level is to talk them into replacing Office with LibreOffice. This is easier than it sounds for SMEs because the level of complexity in the way they use Office is minimal. For email, they can use a webmail provider.
Beyond that is the switch to a desktop *nix. I sold this under the banner of standardization, and typically with a gateway drug: there's always someone like "Bob" whose PC acts up a lot. Get them a liveCD and show them their PC working and they are hooked, because you just saved them $500 on a new PC. I used to do RedHat here because the support for customizing the install scripts and doing mass installs was the best; these days I would look into a 'buntu of some sort just for the eye candy. (Do not underestimate the importance to your project that Doris can customize her desktop colors six ways to Sunday; watercooler opinion counts for a hell of a lot when there are only 20 people in the office.)
An opportunity, but not a slam dunk
Operators certainly don't want to be paying the tax to Apple or Google, given that both platforms bite deeply into their traditional revenue streams (look at what iMessage has done to SMS revenues for example, and paying Google when Google are destroying the telco margin model is exquisitely painful for carriers).
However, the carriers are also quite capable of taking a platform and tripping all over it, negating all the benefits of the platform in the first place. The mozilla folks will have to tread very carefully here.
if that's your attitude, don't be surprised if you have no friends and no one to talk to
You must be trolling.
seriously the most important thing I learnt about party/social situations was that whatever I said really didn't matter. In the sense that even if I made some embarrassing conversational dud, they would not remember in 1 or 2 days time. People meet dozens of people per year, and most memories do not stick. So why worry about it. Kind of like the difference between how you fee everyone must be watching your embarrassment at age 14, and what you realize at age 34, which is that no one's looking and no-one gives a damn if your fly is undone/you have VPL/whatever.
Don;t worry, be happy.
It's a harder problem that you might think...
There are really two problems here, one is the problem of retrieval over a time span of about one human, say 80 years, and the other is about designing systems that permit information retrieval over really long spans, like 10,000 years.
We are barely getting to grips with the first one, but we have at least learnt some lessons. For example, binary blobs are really bad, whereas text formats are pretty good. Not perfect (how many people can still read EBCDIC?) but fairly trivially decodable.
The other problem fairly rapidly descends into a spiral argument even if you assume the existence of a long-lived storage medium. (Aside: clay tablets seem to do remarkably well!!) Let's say you write something in French or English. Who's to say in 10K years anyone will understand that language? And if you write a decoder, what do you write it in? There is a project called Rosetta (see the WP page) that tries to tackle this issue, but it's not easy.
Finally, and then I'll shut up: the quality *today* of content or items has no bearing of the importance in the *far future* of the same. Think how much we have learnt through archaeologists digging through middens (i.e. sh**-heaps) and turning up bits of junk that tell us so much. Whose to say that a future digital archaeologist won't unearth "Charlie Bit Me" and explain how late 20th century families worked?
Re: Out of the box
I'll bite. My son upgraded from win 7 to 8 and ended up dual-booting into Ubuntu after about a year of instability. Funnily enough it wasn't the metro UI that killed it for him, it was the slowdown.
Web browsers run like molasses. Chrome in particular could never decide if it wanted to run in Metro mode or Desktop mode but in any case ran like a dog no matter what we tried. IE was just as bad.
The memory management is...not completely ironed out. In Win 8 when you flip between apps the old app is put on ice and its memory freed up (a la Ctrl-Z/kill -STOP in *nix). But what we found was that the old apps would quietly slurp up memory until you really had run out of juice, whereupon everything ground to a halt. It was 1975 and System III UNIX all over again as far as I was concerned.
The task manager still (STILL!) doesn't tell you the truth. Or rather, by the time it does, it's too late. You log in, watch the hourglass, see your disk light futzing around, and you have no way to tell what is the cause because by the time you can get Task Manager to tell you anything the disk I/O has gone away. Why Windows still has this problem in 2013 I have no idea.
He liked the metro UI, and I thought it was OK. I find the new start button a dubious benefit. It reminds me of those incompetent people who spray files all over their desktop screen instead of using real folders and then wonder why it takes ten minutes to log in.
I'm going to be watching closely to see how often he needs to boot back into Windows.
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