92 posts • joined Monday 28th September 2009 10:45 GMT
The problem with real-world currencies is not governments
It's banks. Banks create money when they create loans, and they now create the vast majority of money (estimates range from 95-98%). Unless you are prepared to have 100% reserve banking, preventing banks from creating money, you cannot base an economy on BitCoin without completely debasing the currency. There are many sources for this, here's one: http://www.webofdebt.com/articles/dollar-deception.php
The fact is, fixed currency standards don't work; they cannot scale to the level of growth in the economy without increasingly mining an ever greater amount of whatever commodity you pegged it to, and having to store it. Gold was useful here because it doesn't obviously degrade, and has few uses (its use in electronics, of providing a tarnish-free and reasonably conductive coating to ensure good contact for connections made and broken repeatedly, was decades away when we went off the gold standard). Failing to keep up with economic growth causes deflation, which is generally considered a bad thing: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/02/why-is-deflation-bad/
Fiat currency allows the supply of money to approximately match the aggregate demand of the economy, without uselessly mining a resource that you're not going to use. Central banks can wield a few levers to try to keep the supply slightly ahead of demand, in order to get a little inflation, which helps devalue debts as well as savings. The problem we've had for a decade or so is that the economy is very imbalanced, with consumer electronics largely in deflation, cancelling out some very high inflation in house prices (not measured in the favoured 'consumer price inflation' metric) and other commodities.
Really, money is just a medium of exchange: something that has wide acceptance in exchange for other things. It's just our IOUs to each other: I owe you a day of software development, you owe me an Xbox. By assigning numbers to these IOUs, I can transfer your IOUs so that Samsung owe me a TV. You have to think of money's value being in terms of what it can buy. Instead of thinking that a sandwich costs £2.50, you say that a pound is worth 4/10ths of a sandwich.
The major problem for government is that politicians do not understand how money is created, and how differently it behaves under a fiat currency system compared to a pegged system ('gold standard'). Too many economists - and, unfortunately, the ones that the politicians are listening to - still make their predictions based on ideas from the gold standard era - that there is a finite amount of money.
Re: What doesn't help with Adobe..
Apparently there is a way to bundle third-party applications in a way that WSUS can consume: see http://wsuspackagepublisher.codeplex.com/
Microsoft have not bothered to make it possible to update third-party applications through Windows Update because the vendors all want to have control over the updating experience, and won't produce proper MSI installers that actually use Windows Installer properly (rather than just wrapping a script, for example). Windows Update does support driver updates, but when did you last see a timely update for your graphics card on WU? Never, because nVidia and ATI insist on shovelling additional control panels and other shovelware along with the driver, and don't package the install properly.
Adobe get kickbacks from Intel for bundling McAfee AntiVirus with Flash, Oracle get kickbacks from Ask for bundling their toolbar. I'm sure one of them tries to bundle Chrome as well. If Ninite are allowed to install without offering the prompt, Adobe and Oracle don't get their kickbacks.
Re: Thought it said Free Software Foundation on the door
No, it's simpler than that. Any DRM system *must* have the decryption key on the user's system as well as the encrypted content. The only way that the key can be protected is by some form of obfuscation. Even if protected by other system or application keys, the application has to be able to unbundle the key.
Open source software can never be certified for implementing a DRM system, because there is no way to hide the system for hiding the key, without massively obfuscating the code for doing so - something that would simply not get checked into the system. There would somewhere have to be a binary blob implementing the DRM, but that is not compatible with the GPL. It is compatible with *other* open source licences, but the FSF's purpose is to promote GPL.
So we have an impasse. Hollywood won't release its content officially without DRM, but GPL software cannot implement DRM, and it offends the sensibilities of other contributors to the W3C.
Re: RE: thus proving taxation systems are broken
Don't see why corporate taxes should not be assessed on revenues rather than profits. My income tax is assessed on, well, my income, less a personal allowance. In fact my personal allowance is slightly *reduced* because my employer pays for private health insurance - which I don't expect to use, but haven't opted out of.
I'd have no problem with allowing a 'corporate allowance' of something like number of employees registered in PAYE, multiplied by some reasonable wage level, to ensure that the company can always pay its employees.
Re: "introduction of a new rendering engine can have significant implications for the web"
The problem is that standards are very difficult to specify precisely using English. The specifications for HTML 4, CSS level 1 and CSS level 2 have not changed in 15 years. They were sufficiently ambiguous that even though browser manufacturers were doing their best to test to the specifications - even Microsoft for IE 6.0 - there were incompatibilities between the results. There were no rigorous, shared, conformance tests for any of those until really the last couple of years, so the required behaviour was not nailed down - still isn't, really. Even different versions of WebKit - that is, current builds of Chrome and Safari - could, and do, produce different behaviour.
CSS level 2 was found to be so ambiguous, and have so many underspecified features, that it led to a revision 2.1 which nailed more stuff down and removed a lot of the underspecified stuff.
A lot of the effort in the HTML5 and HTML v.Next, and related, specifications has gone into nailing down precisely what was actually meant in earlier versions. There's now a serious effort to write shared conformance tests, and to actually run them automatically for each browser build, checking for regressions. IE has quite a lead in the official conformance tests, because Microsoft have been submitting the most tests to the suite - not without debate as to whether the test actually tests the behaviour it claims to test, and whether it comes up with the right answer.
Re: thus proving taxation systems are broken
The source of these problems is actually very simple: countries have agreed to write their tax systems so that multinational companies are not taxed twice on the same profit - called 'double taxation'. This is supposed to be fairer to the company.
The problem that occurs is small jurisdictions that don't need a lot of revenue - in absolute terms - set their tax rates very low - in percentage terms. (Or places that set corporate taxes to zero for overseas corporations and raise all their revenue from residents.) Through assigning some income to such tax havens, or exaggerating the costs of some required resource, whose supply is routed through the tax haven, the corporation can reduce their tax bill in the high-tax countries that are actually providing the revenue. This is referred to as 'double-non-taxation'.
Google, I believe, has assigned the copyright to its logos to a subsidiary in a tax haven, then that subsidiary charges a ridiculously large amount to each national subsidiary for use of those logos. Starbucks did something similar, and also routed all buying of coffee beans via Switzerland, for which the Swiss subsidiary extracted very high management fees, so each national subsidiary is paying far more than open market price for coffee.
Amazon UK's servers are actually hosted in Luxembourg, and all purchases from amazon.co.uk are therefore reported as being made in Luxembourg, meaning they pay Luxembourg's very low rate of VAT rather than the UK's much higher rate. VAT-bearing goods were formerly routed via Guernsey - as in, shipped from a UK warehouse to a Guernsey subsidiary, and back to the customer in the UK - in order to avoid VAT, but HMRC have closed that one (Low Value Consignment Relief was a special feature for the Channel Islands, intended for small businesses actually based on the Islands selling small amounts of stuff to the UK, but it was abused, and so small Guernsey businesses don't get the relief any more.)
Microsoft have set up their patent licensing subsidiary Microsoft Open Technologies Inc in a tax haven, and Microsoft Corp will pay MOT Inc royalties for use of those patents. (You didn't think it was really about making the interoperability groups arms-length from Redmond, did you?)
The answer is also quite simple. Strike out the double taxation rules. All revenue raised in the country that the end customer lives in is taxed at the prevailing rate in that country. Multinationals are then playing by the same rules as corporations that do business solely in one jurisdiction.
However, that is considered bad for business, so the suggestion from the Tax Justice Network is to employ country-by-country reporting. That is, change the global accounting standards so that multinationals are forced to report accurately how much revenue was raised from each country. The group profits are then apportioned to each country according to the proportion of revenue, and tax assessed in each country according to the corresponding part of the profit.
Re: Internet Explorer 6 staggers on?
Microsoft's own upgrade-from-IE6 website http://www.ie6countdown.com/ (which uses statistics from http://netmarketshare.com/ ) indicates that the Far East is really the only outpost left where IE6 has significant usage share on the open web. Well, let's be honest: China. In the UK it's well below 1%.
NetMarketShare weight their statistics - gathered from tracking bugs on websites using HitsLink, I believe - by overall internet traffic from each country, to rebalance the distribution of users of their customers' websites. StatCounter do not do this. It does mean there could be big sampling errors if relatively few users from China are browsing sites that use HitsLink.
I'm still not sure how well these companies deal with Network Address Translation, having multiple computers behind a single public IP address. The Far East notoriously also has very few public IPv4 addresses, with NATs being widely deployed. If the counter cannot see through the NAT, it will record a count of 1 for each browser used behind the NAT regardless of whether there is one instance or a million, heavily distorting the results.
Re: TV is in the way
Apparently I can't subtract today. Three have 2x15 MHz at 2.1 GHz. They would still have to turn off some 3G to get some 4G in this band, if any phones even support LTE in this band.
TV is in the way
'Three' cannot launch their LTE service yet because they only got 2x5 MHz in the auction, and they got the lowest-frequency block, which will still be occupied by TV services in some parts of the country until the end of July. Their only other licensed spectrum is 2x5 MHz in the 2.1 GHz band (well, and 1x5 MHz intended for time-division duplexing, which has never been used). That spectrum is used for their UMTS (3G) services, and UMTS cells would, I think, have to be turned off to repurpose them for LTE.
"I like the free open standard better than the H.264, thanks."
@Mikel: You have that backwards. H.264 is the open standard, developed by the Motion Picture Expert Group under the joint auspices of ISO, IEC and ITU. H.264 is the ITU-R project number - it is also known as MPEG-4 Part 10 Advanced Video Coding, and published as ISO/IEC 14496-10. In order to be published by these organizations, contributors have to sign up to the organizations' patent policy, which says that patents covering the specification must be available on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms - but it does not define what those words actually mean. Due to the wide membership of MPEG and of the standards organizations, it should be less likely that someone later claims that their patent is essential to implementation, and that they can hold implementers hostage, because they haven't signed up to FRAND terms.
US courts have prevented Qualcomm from blocking Broadcom's use of Qualcomm-patented technology in an implementation of H.264, because Qualcomm signed up to the patent policy.
MPEG LA's role is that some of those patent holders have employed MPEG LA to look after their interests, regarding patents considered essential to various MPEG standards. MPEG LA extracts an administration fee before divvying up the royalties among the various patent holders. MPEG LA would *like* to be a one-stop shop for licensing all patents essential to H.264 (and MPEG-2 Visual, and a number of others) but there is no compulsion for other patent holders to join. When they talked about 'forming a patent pool' they were inviting patent holders to make similar arrangements.
VP8's *reference implementation* is published under an open source licence. The *specification* is published on the WebM project's website, and Google provide a royalty-free license all patents that Google owns, or has obtained the authority to sub-licence. Google have recently agreed such authority with MPEG LA for some patents that are part of MPEG LA's other patent pools (and MPEG LA have agreed to stop trying to form a pool for VP8). However, *other* companies could still hold VP8 implementers hostage if they have patents essential to VP8 implementation.
We cannot know whether there are such patents. The national patent offices simply do not organize their patent databases in a way that you can properly search, and there is a disincentive to searching: in the USA, you can get triple damages awarded if you have 'wilfully' infringed, and wilful infringement has been decided if the implementer read the patent and decided that it didn't apply. The exact wording of the patent will only be interpreted in a court case, and courts have frequently applied the widest possible interpretation of the wording. For example, Toyota have to pay Paice Technologies royalties on the Prius and other hybrid cars, even though the patent in question specifically mentions how their implementation is different from the mechanical design used in the Prius, itself taken from an expired TRW patent; the claims were read so widely as to apply to any car that combines a petrol engine and an AC motor, AC provided by inversion from a battery.
However, we do know that Nokia believe they hold such patents, essential to implementing VP8, and therefore the IETF cannot publish the RFC as Nokia refuse to licence them.
I'm not defending patents as they currently stand. I think the issues we see largely represent a failure of imagination of the patent office staff, that they are granting the most obvious patents, combining known techniques in a not-particularly-novel way, and one that would be or was discovered totally independently, with no real exposure to the original implementation. The patent *system* makes it unbelievably difficult to actually find out if the problem you're facing *has* already been solved - if we could look up a solution and know it's going to cost us a dollar per device, rather than spending years on finding a solution, we might pay it. What's galling is when you do spend those years finding the solution, only to have someone say 'no, we invented that - pay $$$ per device' when they actually contributed *nothing* to your solution.
Re: heavily weighted towards Labour MPs
The faces presenting the policies may change with an election, but the people writing the policies don't. "Yes, Minister" is heavily fact-based: ministers 'go native' with alarming speed, though perhaps not surprisingly considering they usually have no knowledge or experience in the portfolio they have been assigned, and also no experience in managing staff.
Microsoft's Support Lifecycle policy for Windows is to support a service pack (or the original release if there has only been one service pack) for two years after the release of the following service pack. The actual end date is aligned to the next Patch Tuesday (second Tuesday of the month), which is 9 April. Future updates will only be installable on Windows 7 SP1 as a baseline.
All this means is that if you reinstall Windows 7 from a disc or image without SP1 applied, Windows Update will first offer all the security and critical updates from RTM to this month, then it will offer SP1, then any updates released after SP1.
Windows 7 *itself* is in mainstream support until 13 January 2015, and extended support until 14 January 2020. In the mainstream support period, you can call up for paid support, you can use any free incidents that you got when buying the product, you can get non-security hotfixes and if you really want to, you can make change requests. In extended support you still get paid support but the free incidents are no longer valid; you still get security hotfixes but other fixes require an extended support contract, which you have to take out within 90 days of the end of mainstream support; warranty claims and design change requests are no longer accepted.
There is no incentive if the technology is mandated
Firstly, there are six national multiplexes, not five. There are five SD multiplexes and one HD. At the moment. Ofcom are running a competitive process to launch two new ones.
The idea of the incentive pricing is to encourage the spectrum to be used efficiently. However, there is no point applying an additional tax if the broadcasters' hands are tied on becoming more 'efficient'. The spectrum plan and technology for Freeview was set in stone by government: the public service broadcasters had to achieve 98.5% population coverage, the BBC had to free up its second multiplex to convert it to HD mode, the majority of viewers had to be able to use existing aerials fitted for analogue reception, and we had to fit into the internationally-co-ordinated frequency plans. That really meant a requirement to use the 64QAM, FEC 2/3, 1/32 guard interval mode that the BBC and ITV/C4 are using. If they change that mode, to get more capacity and become more efficient, coverage will be reduced. The limits of what can be crammed into the 24 Mbps available have been pretty much reached, without reducing quality any further. There are already criticisms from many viewers that many channels are unacceptably low-quality, running 16:9 broadcasts at a resolution intended only for 4:3 pictures (544 x 576 pixels) and at a low enough bitrate to prevent the normal smoothing of macroblock edges to work properly.
The HD technology - DVB-T2 and AVC/H.264 encoding - can also be used for SD services, but are only viewable on Freeview HD receivers. The majority of viewers don't have one. The two new multiplexes - to run in this mode, and give four or five extra HD channels on each - are intended as an additional incentive for viewers to go and buy a new receiver. If a majority of viewers haven't done that, it won't be politically acceptable to turn off DVB-T/MPEG-2 support, and that will make the release of 700 MHz very difficult as there really isn't space for six national multiplexes in what remains. Viewers will be seriously angry if they lose services due to this - as it is, there are many people upset by the fact that they can't get three of those multiplexes if their local relay is PSB-only.
It won't be politically acceptable as people will expect the government to fund replacement equipment. For switchover, enough people had voluntarily switched that the government could get away with only subsidising equipment for pensioners over 75, the disabled, and other groups on long-term welfare. It was funded by increasing and top-slicing the TV licence fee, but only by a small amount as so few people were covered.
Meanwhile, the mobile phone networks are now running three generations of technology concurrently, with no end date for 2G announced or even considered. Phone still rely heavily on the 2G network for basic communications, as the promises of 3G coverage were broken and eventually the coverage requirements have been removed. O2's block of 800 MHz spectrum comes with coverage obligations - 90% of the population, if I recall - but the rest of the recent 4G auction has no obligations attached at all. It's still unclear if Voice-over-LTE even works, making voice services still dependent on 2G in much of the country.
Re: Whinging Cambridge
Cambridge's local TV service has had a frequency reserved for it which will not be available to white space devices. It is still considered a 'white space' because it isn't used to cover Cambridge from current TV services, but isn't available to run a full-power service as it would interfere. Cambridge is normally covered, for TV services, by the Sandy Heath transmitter in Bedfordshire: the local TV service will come from the Maddingley site formerly used by Channel 5, on UHF Channel 40. This frequency is, or soon will be, used by the Welwyn relay and three relays near High Wycombe, so is unavailable at Sandy Heath.
Regarding white space devices, a BBC/Arqiva joint report for Ofcom basically says that the TV spectrum is so densely used that only about a quarter of UK households could use a white space networking device. This will drop to only 3% if the 700 MHz band is reallocated to mobile phone networks and the TV spectrum is replanned, which Ofcom seem keen on doing in around 2018. See http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/uhf-strategy/statement/BBC_Arqiva_preliminary.pdf for the report. I'm counting scenario 3 - where the 600 MHz band is used by two new TV multiplexes from 25 sites - as this is the model Ofcom subsequently chose from that consultation.
Re: Bands not used for existing broadcasts locally?
The BBC were required to get BBC Alba onto Freeview in Scotland, but weren't given any extra money to do so, nor allocated any more spectrum. That meant having to carry it on their SD multiplex, the second multiplex having switched to the incompatible second-generation DVB-T2 standard to make enough space for four or five HD services. (The BBC are required to carry STV HD and 4hd, and it was expected they would have to carry Channel 5 HD as well, until C5 pulled out yet again.)
So the choice was basically make picture quality terrible on all SD services while BBC Alba is running, or turn off the radio stations.
The local TV services have been granted a multiplex of their own, on frequencies that are generally close enough to the existing multiplexes that existing aerials should pick the up. The multiplex has space for the local TV service, and one or two extra slots that will be sold nationally by the multiplex operator Comux.
Re: Why no bigger cities?
Those cities were part of phase 1, a programme supplier has already been selected, and they are due to launch over the next year. This is phase 2.
Re: Yer not strange
You need to get a Windows Phone. Settings > Website preference > desktop version in WP8. That changes the User-Agent from:
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows Phone 8.0; Trident/6.0; IEMobile/10.0; ARM; Touch; <manufacturer>; <model>)
Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; MSIE 10.0; Windows NT 6.2; Trident/6.0; ARM; Touch; WPDesktop)
The only difference between that and a Windows RT tablet is the 'WPDesktop' token.
Re: hmmm...what's the real story here
Rubbish. The 4G auction was structured in the same way as the 3G one. It didn't raise as much money as we're in the depths of a recession (not triple-dip, in my book we haven't had enough sustained growth to ever have been considered out of it), rather than at the peak of a tech bubble and with ludicrous expectations of video calling.
The UK auction actually raised 33% less money than the Treasury had put into their books for this financial year, a whole £1.16bn short.
"they had to concede defeat that flash is still more popular than Silverlight"
Silverlight is completely blocked in IE10 on Windows 8, 'immersive' (TIFKAM), and in both environments on Windows RT. Not even Microsoft websites are allowed to use Silverlight. So that argument really doesn't fly. The IE team's blog post's comments are full of people complaining about Silverlight not being available.
The reason for supporting Flash is exactly as stated: because many websites simply do not work without it. The trend is to provide an "HTML5" website for iOS, that usually doesn't work on anything else, but particularly not on IE 9 or 10.
Re: What is MPEG-LA's take-away?
It means that Google have acknowledged that it *does* (potentially) infringe on a number of patents that MPEG-LA administer for their respective holders, and that they have agreed a royalty to be paid by Google for all copies. The patent owners aren't going to give it away for free, and I imagine MPEG LA have inserted themselves in between Google and the patent owners and will get administration fees.
The bit about 'MPEG LA will discontinue its effort to form a VP8 patent pool' just means that they have agreed that Google will manage the licensing of these patents. MPEG LA try to be a one-stop shop for patents for other video- and audio-encoding technologies, but there is no guarantee that they have signed up all holders of patents essential to those technologies, and no guarantee that Google will manage it for VP8 either.
The WebM project site license is very careful to state that it only grants a royalty-free licence to Google's patents, and patents acquired by Google, that are licensable by Google. There is still a possibility that someone else out there, not a company whose patents are managed by MPEG LA, will claim that a patent of theirs is infringed by VP8. As, indeed, Google are doing with H.264.
Because VP8 is not a product of a large standards organization, patents are not required to be licensed on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory terms. IEC, ISO and ITU's patent policies require that any contributor to a standard licences any patents on FRAND terms, though the meaning of FRAND is left undefined. W3C has a stronger requirement, that all patents covering a W3C specification must be royalty-free. That leaves them with a conundrum: they can't mandate support for any video encoding in HTML5 because no-one contributing to the standard will - or can - make that guarantee.
Re: Confused about the bars diagram
Shorter is better - less time taken. The latest versions of Safari still outperform IE 10 on this particular microbenchmark. Microsoft continue to claim that this microbenchmark is not really representative of anything much, and that they focus their optimization efforts more on whole scenarios than on these microbenchmarks.
Re: Am I missing something about the price of RT devices
Yes, it is real, actual Office. The following are missing according to http://blogs.office.com/b/office-next/archive/2012/09/13/building-office-for-windows-rt.aspx :
•Macros, add-ins, and features that rely on ActiveX controls or 3rd party code such as the PowerPoint Slide Library ActiveX control and Flash Video Playback
•Certain legacy features such as playing older media formats in PowerPoint (upgrade to modern formats and they will play) and editing equations written in Equation Editor 3.0, which was used in older versions of Office (viewing works fine)
•Certain email sending features, since Windows RT does not support Outlook or other desktop mail applications (opening a mail app, such as the mail app that comes with Windows RT devices, and inserting your Office content works fine)
•Creating a Data Model in Excel 2013 RT (PivotTables, QueryTables, Pivot Charts work fine)
•Recording narrations in PowerPoint 2013 RT
•Searching embedded audio/video files, recording audio/video notes, and importing from an attached scanner with OneNote 2013 RT (inserting audio/video notes or scanned images from another program works fine)
That's compared to the x86 version of Office Home & Student 2013. The common theme is largely code that was written in x86 assembly - VBA macros had to be cut from Office:Mac x86 originally, for exactly this reason. See http://www.schwieb.com/blog/2006/08/08/saying-goodbye-to-visual-basic/ for more on that and the technical challenges they faced. I would anticipate that, just as happened on the Mac, VBA will be back in a later release of Office RT.
"Remember, the claimed "up to 3Mbps" is for everyone connected to the same switch."
No. The advertised rates are the ATM line rate negotiated for your link to the hardware in your phone exchange (Multi-Service Access Node, MSAN).
Upstream from the MSAN, ISPs rent backhaul capacity from BT on a VPN link to their internal network, handing over at a Core Node. Physically, BT have to install enough backhaul capacity to handle the total rented capacity from all ISPs from that exchange, up to its parent exchange, and so on aggregating up to the Core Nodes.
Your download speeds from any given website depend thereafter on your ISPs peering capacity at Internet Exchange nodes, the capacity of those nodes, the website's ISP's peering capacity, and the amount of capacity that the website is renting from their ISP.
The article author's problem is that there is too much noise on his line, or devices multiplexing the line to multiple properties, meaning that the higher frequencies needed by ADSL are filtered off. Assuming that the problem is reproducible when all extension wiring is disconnected, he needs a new fully independent cable installed. However, I think BT's Universal Service Obligation only requires that a speed of 28.8 kbit/s is achievable for the Fundamental Internet Access requirement (last reviewed by Ofcom in 2006).
Christian Berger is talking about satellite, where each version of BBC One is a full-time independent stream simulcast on the same transponder, not Freeview, where each transmitter only transmits one variant of BBC One.
My understanding of the reason for simulcasting is simply that the BBC want to remain compatible with as much free-to-air satellite equipment as possible, and many do not support the idea of switching streams on and off and redirecting to a different PID. You have to have the peak capacity available anyway, there isn't something else that can be switched off when local news comes on, so it's a trade-off between having the streams on constantly and sending megabytes of NULL packets.
You could argue that you could use better compression for the regional content, to pack all the regional services into the space used by the single sustaining stream, but a five-fold compression ratio would be unwatchable (the BBC run four or five versions of BBC One per transponder, mixed in with other non-regional services or versions of BBC Two).
Not a jailbreak
Come on, you have to connect with the kernel debugger and insert code to modify a byte to remove the certificate check? That's really not a practical jailbreak. In order to attach a kernel debugger, you have to boot into a kernel-debugging mode anyway. Microsoft's support threads say that you have to contact your 'ecosystem program manager' to do it on RT - Windows RT is not available to OEMs generally - as you can't modify the boot configuration data to enable kernel debugging. I'd be interested to know how he managed to enable kernel debugging in the first place!
Microsoft common controls patent
Microsoft *did* patent the common controls introduced in 1995, and they're among the patents MS are successfully enforcing against Android device makers. Here's one, related to tab controls, cited in the case against Barnes & Noble's Nook reader: http://www.google.com/patents/US5889522
Re: Perhaps this is a bit mad but
A malicious attacker can construct a file that causes an overflow in the font parser. It's nothing about fixing known fonts. This is a security vulnerability.
You *should* install this patch
The issue is that someone malicious could create a specially structured OpenType font file (using Adobe Compact Font Format [CFF or Type 2] font outlines - OTF can contain either CFF or TrueType outlines), presumably where some field indicates a larger size than it should. They can then use that file from a web page, for example with Web Open Font Format (WOFF) download. It doesn't have to be a genuine font, it could be used for one letter on the page, all that matters is that the browser tries to render it.
Because this only affects the Adobe CFF parser, any bugs won't affect most fonts on most people's systems - the Windows- and Office-supplied fonts are either TrueType or OpenType using TrueType outlines. However, most graphics professionals use one or more OpenType fonts, for their advanced features. The fonts using advanced OpenType features usually use CFF outlines rather than TrueType.
Re: What does "support" mean though?
http://support.microsoft.com/lifecycle/ and click "Support Lifecycle Policy". Under "Consumer Hardware":
"Hardware repairs or replacements and parts are available throughout the support lifecycle. Services are free for products under warranty and available for a fee for products out of warranty
"Paid and Online Support: Available, fees may apply, see phone support and online support for options
"Software and Security Updates: Updates are available for the software/firmware and OS that is embedded into the hardware (except for Surface devices, which is covered by the support lifecycle policy for the Operating System on the device)"
"At the supported service pack level, Mainstream Support for software products includes:
•Incident support (no-charge incident support, paid incident support, support charged on an hourly basis, support for warranty claims)
•Security update support
•The ability to request non-security hotfixes
Please note:Enrollment in a maintenance program may be required to receive these benefits for certain products"
I would conclude that for the Surface, service packs to Windows RT are included, but that any future major operating system, such as Windows "9", wouldn't be incorporated free-of-charge. That's not to say that a paid upgrade is impossible, in fact I would expect it to be available. Microsoft have defined Windows RT based on existing PC industry specs: use of UEFI to boot, ACPI to describe the device's hardware, standard function drivers where possible, in order to get OEMs as much *out* of the loop as possible.
Count of patents in MPEG-LA H.264 pool
The current list of patents covered by MPEG-LA's H.264 licence agreement is at http://www.mpegla.com/main/programs/avc/Documents/avc-att1.pdf . It is 59 pages long with 35 patent numbers listed on the first page. That would put the number of covered patents at around 2,000 (I can't be bothered to count them all).
However, many patent numbers listed are likely to be the same claims, granted under different national patent systems. Just on the first page, Dolby list number 2,239,943 in Spain, Finland, France, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden, Slovakia and (over the page) Turkey. Fraunhofer list some under every EU member state. That might perhaps reduce the number of distinct patents to 200-300. Still, if every patent holder wanted 2% of the retail price as royalties, you've soon wiped out the entire purchase price.
Microsoft have decided not to include DVD decoding or MPEG-2 Visual decoding in Windows 8, to save on the patent royalties associated with those standards. Users who want those features must pay separately for a media pack (for Windows 8 Pro customers) or an upgrade to Windows 8 Pro with Media Pack (for Windows 8 not-Pro customers).
Re: Windows 7 supported touch
Indeed Windows 7 implements a full multi-touch API with gesture support (zoom, pan, etc). It has emulation support. Assuming the app passes WM_GESTURE messages to DefWindowProc correctly - as it should for *all* unknown window messages - Windows then converts the messages to 'legacy' messages, emulating a scroll bar message (vertical or horizontal) for panning, a right-click for press-and-hold or press-and-tap, and a mouse-wheel scroll with the CTRL key pressed for a pinch zoom. That tends to cause zoom to operate in discrete steps rather than smoothly.
There are numerous cases of applications *not* passing unrecognized messages to DefWindowProc, though, breaking all kinds of functionality that depends on this.
Marketing launch well after code-complete
"Sinofsky did not provide any explanation of why he’d suddenly left Microsoft midway through the Windows 8 launch: Windows 8 and Surface RT shipped in October "
No, Windows 8 RTM code shipped in August. It was only available in retail outlets from October, but it's been several months since code-complete. He didn't leave midway through the launch, he left after the marketing launch, long after the product was handed over to marketing, product support and sustained engineering. It's really the natural time to leave, before serious commitment to work on the next release starts.
Re: Shame really...
They have to save money on AM radio transmission in order to be able to use that money for other purposes. Your TV licence fee is frozen at the moment, and inflation is eating into how much content and distribution the collected licence money is able to buy. In addition, the government have top-sliced the licence fee to fund their pet local TV project and their rural broadband scheme, transferred paying for the World Service and BBC Monitoring to the licence fee (they were previously funded by the Foreign Office), and from 2013, the majority of S4C's funding.
The BBC estimated in 2010, when the freeze was announced, that it would amount to a 16% cut in funding over the six years to the end of the current Charter. I think inflation has actually been higher than the figures used for that projection, so there will be effectively a bigger shortfall.
Re: PA Touchscreen was not calibrated.
Well, yes. If it was *really* set up to register votes for Obama for Romney instead, then it would surely be more effective to do so WITHOUT BROADCASTING THE FACT TO THE VOTER.
And this is the point about electronic voting machines - the voter has absolutely no assurance that the machine has recorded his vote correctly. Paper audit trail doesn't do a darned thing - there's no guarantee that what is printed out is what it recorded internally, and the audit trail will only be actually checked if there is a close result. Not if there is a mysteriously different result to what polls were saying.
Because you can't trust the programmer of the machine to be honest (even if you have the source code to the voting software, you can't guarantee that it wasn't compiled by a compiler incorporating duplicitous code), you *have* to put the counting process in the hands of a group of humans who can be overseen by other humans, in the hope that it's harder for candidates, parties or other interests to subvert the whole group.
XNA is still available for apps targetting Windows Phone 7, and will still work on Windows Phone 8. XNA is just a wrapper over DirectX, and Direct3D can be used from a XAML+C# or VB application: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-US/library/windowsphone/develop/jj207012(v=vs.105).aspx .
XAML was the only way to declare the user interface for Windows Phone 7, so anyone already targetting it is familiar, though the syntax and object model are different due to the WinRT runtime rather than Silverlight. XAML is also the way that WPF user interfaces are declared (with another different object model, that Silverlight was derived from). Basically, every new Microsoft user interface technology since Windows Forms has used XAML.
On Windows Phone 8, you CAN use C# or VB to write an application, there is no requirement to use C++. The difference is that C++ is now possible on Windows Phone 8, which it wasn't on 7. HTML5 apps are only possible through PhoneGap or some other container that hosts a WebBrowser control; WinJS (from Windows 8) is not available.
Apart from that, you're completely correct...
Author has fundamentally misunderstood
"Microsoft also had to keep the Silverlight-based XAML - Microsoft’s XML-based language for defining a user interface – rather than replacing it with the native code XAML used by Windows 8, although the Silverlight name is no longer spoken."
No. Windows Phone 8's own 'native' environment is WinRT, the same as desktop Windows 8. A slightly subsetted and supersetted WinRT, but still the XAML syntax is the same and the object model is the same. Projects targetting Windows Phone 8 only will use the phone version of WinRT.
The Silverlight and XNA environments are still there for Windows Phone 7 compatibility ONLY. They are not enhanced. They will not be enhanced. It's likely that a future version of Windows Phone will drop support for them - but while a substantial WinPhone 7 installed base exists, developers may want to stick with something compatible, to increase their potential audience, if they don't want to produce two versions of their app.
Like iOS/OS X, Windows Phone 8 and Windows 8 are different OSs with the same kernel
n/t - see title
Re: It's BSkyB, not just TV
If you look at the <a href="http://corporate.sky.com/file.axd?pointerid=495797230af24663be7ae0cbafaa96d6">KPI summary</a>, you see that TV subscriptions grew by only 20,000 in the quarter. HD and multiroom are breakouts from the TV subscription counts.
Clip-on, not foldout
Microsoft Surface devices do not come with a keyboard. It's a costly extra, costing far more in fact than the proper keyswitch keyboard that I'm typing this on, for a crappy near-no-travel membrane design. The keyboard prices are 20-25% of the price of the tablet itself.
The main reason Microsoft are doing the Surface, though, is that they could not rely on their OEMs to actually build tablet-only devices at reasonable prices. Nearly all previous 'Tablet PCs' were convertibles, after the initial batch of slates failed in the market. Remember that Tablet PC originally required active-stylus input, not touch screen - touch support, and particularly multi-touch, came much, much later - and they were designed for handwriting input.
No, Windows 8 cannot use Windows Phone 7 apps
Windows 8 does not have the Silverlight environment for WP7 apps. Windows Phone 8 does.
Windows Phone 8 apps will be more readily portable to Windows 8, being based on a very similar Windows Phone Runtime (WinPRT) to Windows 8's Windows Runtime (WinRT), but they won't directly run as-is, as I understand it, even if the app only uses the common subset of WinRT and WinPRT.
Of course, Windows 8 (but not Windows RT) continues to support the vast majority of applications developed for Windows 7. They're just not in a single store.
Microsoft patent is not FRAND
My understanding is that the Microsoft patent at issue is the one on the Windows 95 Common Controls library. ListView, TreeView, spinner controls, date-time picker, etc. This is not part of any international standard and therefore is not subject to FRAND, even if you think (as I do) that it is a ridiculous patent.
Moving their patents to a subsidiary company is a tax dodge, not a royalties dodge. Again, I don't agree with it, but the aim is simply to move that revenue to a tax haven and play games with transfer mispricing to artificially increase the subsidiary's revenue, reducing the tax paid in the US.
As for licensing Motorola's H.264 patents, Microsoft does pay and participate in the MPEG-LA patent pool which pays many more patent holders, holding many more patents, at tiny fractions of the price Motorola want to charge.
Re: "If someone wants to propose a "ARM Desktop" standard"
Microsoft had the power to, and did, bash the SoC vendors' heads together and make them produce standard hardware, at least standard enough that the same Windows code can boot and run on all systems.
ARM systems for Windows RT (and Windows Phone 8) must support UEFI boot, and must support ACPI to describe the hardware in the system. They use a new 'Hardware-reduced' profile of ACPI 5.0 that doesn't include any of the legacy x86 interrupt handling and device routing, or PCI bus; they can use General Purpose I/O pins which are the more common way of interfacing to the SoC. The only other requirement is that the device implements the 'Multiprocessor Startup for ARM Platforms' specification, so that the OS can correctly control multi-core CPUs. (See http://www.acpica.org/download/MP%20Startup%20for%20ARM%20platforms.doc.)
Microsoft have also created new categories of Class Driver, for example extending the USB Human Interface Device specification for sensors (accelerometer, GPS, compass, biometrics, etc) via the USB Implementers' Forum. Class drivers are used with generic hardware to avoid the OEM having to write drivers (which, if they keep up to date at all, they tend to do badly.)
These requirements are why (in my estimation) Windows Phone 7 hardware cannot run Windows Phone 8 and won't be upgradable. The sensors probably aren't connected via USB, the boot loader isn't UEFI, it won't implement ACPI. The MP startup protocol is really about communication between the firmware layer and the OS, so assuming you're replacing the base firmware anyway.
Microsoft have done this deliberately to ensure that they can update the operating system through Windows Update, in exactly the same way that they do now for x86, x64 and (where supported) Itanium. No custom builds per manufacturer - while the NT Hardware Abstraction Layer technically still exists, on x86/x64 all systems must now use the multiprocessor, ACPI, APIC HAL. That applies to Windows Phone 8 as well, I believe. They are, I believe, concerned that the Windows Phone OEMs fail to deliver updates, particularly with the carriers having to approve many different updates, and see it as a key differentiator against Android.
In 3.5 GHz
UK Broadband are licensed to use 3480-3500 MHz paired with 3580-3600 MHz, and 3605-3689 MHz paired with 3925-4009 MHz. LTE does have bands in this range, band 22 (3410-3490 MHz paired with 3510-3590 MHz, frequency-division duplexing) and bands 42 and 43 (3400 MHz to 3600 MHz, 3600 to 3800 MHz, time-division duplexing). You won't find much consumer equipment operating in these bands; a recent review for Ofcom at http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/award-800mhz/statement/RW-lte.pdf mentioned only UK Broadband's own equipment.
It's certainly no use for mass-market mobile phones and tablets, which are expected to support probably 800 MHz, 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz (i.e. bands 20, 3 and 7). The Ofcom report details which bands are supported by equipment already on the market, and on manufacturer roadmaps.
Re: A snowballs chance in hell
"if MS would have allowed some phones to upgrade to WP7 to WP8..."
I don't think this is a policy issue. I think this is a technical issue.
Windows 8 sensors are expected to appear as Human Interface Devices connected via USB: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/24/supporting-sensors-in-windows-8.aspx
"Reducing the cost of developing and supporting drivers was another challenge. In order to make it simpler for sensor hardware manufacturers and PC makers, we wrote a single Microsoft-supplied driver that would work with all Windows-compatible sensor packages connected over USB and even lower power busses like I2C. This sensor class driver enables hardware companies to innovate with sensor hardware while ensuring that their hardware can be supported easily with drivers that ship with the Windows operating system.
"To help speed adoption of the class driver, Microsoft worked with industry partners to introduce the specification into public standards. In July 2011 the standard for sensors was introduced in the HID (Human Interface Device) specification of the USB-IF (HID spec version 1.12, introduced with review request #39). This standardization enables any sensor company to build a sensor package that is compatible with Windows 8 by following the public standard USB-IF specifications for compliant device firmware. This reduces the time and cost required to integrate sensor hardware with Windows 8 PCs. Other benefits include a lower support cost and more consistent hardware capabilities for Windows 8 PCs that are equipped with sensors."
My guess is that the built-in sensors in WP7 hardware do not appear like that, meaning the standard class driver can't be used. That then puts the onus on the OEM to write drivers that do work. Then we fall into the standard problem: OEMs never do a good job of upgrades.
I can see other problems: Windows 8 boots from UEFI but Windows CE used custom bootloaders; Windows 8 expects to find information about the system (such as RAM size) in ACPI tables, Windows CE requires the OEM to compile that into the image (or provide an implementation of an OEM Adaptation Layer API that discovers it). Much better to start from a hardware platform that mirrors Windows RT tablets than to try to upgrade from something that boots in a very different way.
The aim for Windows Phone 8 is to be much more like general Windows - a 99.99% Microsoft-provided OS, using MS class drivers where at all possible, hardware-vendor supplied drivers where not, with the ability for OEMs to add limited customization. That allows updates to be shipped from Windows Update, rather than getting the OEM to rebuild the ROM image. The reason, in my view, is security: any security updates required on Windows Phone right now have a long and torturous path to get to the end-user with plenty of roadblocks along the way. With phones becoming ever more important to their users, and ever more functional, there will be greater incentives for attack and MS need a fast path to provide updates. The permissions model limits what malware could do, but there can still be problems in the container model (e.g. JIT bugs in the CLR).
Re: Need a consultant?
Or configure the web server to send the X-UA-Compatibility header set to IE=EmulateIE7 ?
The error that Microsoft made was not to include an *IE6* compatibility mode in IE8, IE9 or IE10. Much of the problem comes from applications that weren't even upgraded to IE7 (not surprising, really, as when IE8 came out IE7 hadn't overtaken v6).
Re: Google are going to get royally screwed over this
"Also remember that H264 were proposing the get a patent pool together to crush WebM and spread enough FUD to make it a non-starter."
H.264 is a standard issued by the ITU, developed in the open, jointly with ISO/IEC who publish it as MPEG-4 Part 10 AVC (14496-10). 'H264' cannot propose anything commercial; the working group deals only with updates to the specification for a limited range of compatible extensions. They only get involved with patents to the extent that if anyone declares that they have a patent, and they're not willing to licence it on a free or FRAND basis, the working group must work around that patent's claims.
*MPEG LA*, who administer the patent pools for MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Visual and SMPTE VC-1 (aka Microsoft's Windows Media Video) as well as H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, proposed forming a pool for WebM. The patent pool allows anyone who wants to implement the standard to get a licence for all of the patents which are claimed to be essential from one place, rather than (as for H.264) separately negotiating with 29 different companies and organizations.
As WebM is not an open standard under an independent standards organization, there is no requirement for anyone to disclose what patents they might have that are essential to its implementation. The idea of forming a patent pool was again to create a one-stop-shop for licensing all necessary patents, with the fees (less a portion for MPEG LA's administration charges) going to the patent holders. The licence fee would be set by negotiation between the patent holders but I'd be surprised if it was far from the 20 cents per decoder for AVC or VC-1 (reducing to 10 cents after the first 5m units per year, capped at $6.5M per year for AVC/$5M for VC-1), 25 cents for MPEG-4 Visual, or $2 for MPEG-2. Is that enough to 'crush' WebM? Probably not, though Google's aim in buying it was to provide something that would be acceptable to W3C. W3C's patent policy requires royalty-free licensing, which is why H.264 is not acceptable to them as a mandatory codec.
Re: Google are going to get royally screwed over this
When any international standard under ISO, IEC or ITU is in the progress of development, contributing companies are asked to identify any patent that reads on essential parts of that standard. They have the choice of confirming that they intend to licence it on Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory terms, or confirming that they don't. In the latter case the working group will then attempt to work around the blocking patent.
Video encodings are, unusually, typically developed under the umbrella of both ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 and ITU - JTC1 covering the IT angles and ITU interested in broadcasting. MPEG is a working group of ISO/IEC JTC1. H.264 is the ITU's code for the standard, ISO/IEC calls it MPEG-4 Part 10 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) and published it as ISO/IEC 14496-10.
The ISO/IEC/ITU common patent policy is at http://www.itu.int/en/ITU-T/ipr/Pages/policy.aspx .
Can't afford the overheads
Small businesses can't afford to employ the legions of sales and legal staff necessary to comply with 'Best Value' tendering processes. The harder the government (or other large organization) works to ensure that it gets the best deal, the more expensive the deal is, because both sides have to massively lawyer up, and the client typically has to have at least as many staff to monitor the performance of the outsourced task as it would have taken to just do the task themselves.
The ideal is if each department or group within the larger organization is allowed to do their own purchasing up to a given budget. It means they get the equipment and software they need, when they need it. However, there would be 'waste' due to duplication of effort or being unable to negotiate per-unit costs down if there really is a need for an enterprise-wide licence.
Big companies want large organizations as customers because there is a lot of revenue there if you do get the deal. Small businesses don't want the hassle.
Resolving problems with patching .NET 2.0
See this blog post for a description of many of the problems with patching .NET 2.0:
and this KB article:
Usually, if a patch is trying to install itself repeatedly through Windows Update, it's sufficient to uninstall the patch from Control Panel, and then download the standalone patch from Microsoft's Download Center.
The list of affected package numbers goes back to last June, and I'm surprised that they're reappearing. The recent MS12-035 (http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/bulletin/MS12-035) includes packages that replace the three mentioned updates, so it's possible that the problem is actually that the new package has been installed, and the detection code for the three previous updates is not detecting this.
As I understand it, Microsoft offer free-at-point-of-use technical support for all security updates, so if you're experiencing this problem, CALL THEM.
- Review Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Proof the pen is mightier?
- Nuke plants to rely on PDP-11 code UNTIL 2050!
- Spin doctors brazenly fiddle with tiny bits in front of the neighbours
- Game Theory Out with a bang: The Last of Us lets PS3 exit with head held high
- That Microsoft-Nokia merger you've been predicting? It's no go