430 posts • joined 22 Oct 2009
"Not a saint"
While I sincerely applaud the philanthropic work that BillG has been doing through BMGF for the past 13 years, I still have a bad taste in my mouth about the way he operated for the 25 years before that. Having been personally burned by some of his shady business practices, I'm going to be holding my applause for a while...
Lecturing the Chinese
I occasionally drop into some of the conversations about democracy on Weibo. These days, "Look how well democracy is working in America" is one of the strongest counter-arguments in favour of 中国特色社会主义 (Chinese Socialism).
One hardly expects the Commissioner who ordered reexamination of the "stick" patent (subsequently resulting in the cancellation of all claims) to order reexamination of any Apple patents.
Of *course* the headline is deliberately provocative
This is El Reg, after all. Martin is just trying to wind up the fanbois... :-)
Twitter as "bully pulpit"?
Given that a bully pulpit as commonly understood is a "position sufficiently conspicuous to provide an opportunity to speak out and be listened to", how does a private Twitter account qualify? The position of POTUS is a bully pulpit. Eric Schmidt may have a bully pulpit as executive chairman of Google. But I can't see how Kim Dotcom is in a conspicuous enough position so that anyone other than those following his Twitter feed will hear what he has to say.
Yep. Read the article in The Economist that digs into the reasons for Kodak's woes and Fujifilm's revitalisation.
But "productive" for what?
Sure, the Surface RT may be great for consumption of media content. But how does that translate to being a productive educational tool for university students? More likely it'll simply get used for watching pr0n, while the laptop continues to be used for real work.
Yes, of course in a limited sense the computer is a tool even if it's only used to run Microsoft Office. But saying that you know how to use a computer on the basis of your clerical skills is exactly like claiming that you know how to cook because you can peel the cover off a frozen dinner and pop it in the microwave.
For office workers, the limited ability to use Microsoft Office may be enough. For accountants, competency with Excel and tax codes may be adequate. But people who claim to know how to use a computer (a fundamental skill for technical specialists, I would assert) need to show that they can use their computers for general purpose problem solving.
Re: MS Learning Fail
This is the 21st century, and anyone in technical fields or with a smattering of interest about computers ought to be encouraged to learn how to make computers do what *they* want, not just being taught how to operate Microsoft Office. Even your accountant is being ripped off if he pays for a "computer education" class and instead is only taught how to use Excel.
When it comes to electronics engineers (the only college graduates I generally have to vet and hire), if they can't describe how they'd go about automating their design verification tasks, or perform simple optimisation of a mathematical system model, or quickly assemble a tool to analyse their 100MB data sets, they're going to be shown the door with a polite "it's been nice talking to you". I don't care if it's Visual Basic, or Perl, or Java, or ..., but in the modern world, if they aren't familiar with some programming language, they simply can't effectively do their hardware engineering job.
I'd buy one in a heartbeat...
...if it wasn't locked down with UEFI Secure Boot to keep me from installing *my* choice of OS.
Re: MS Learning Fail
At the risk of being tarred with the same brush as Eadon ;-), I have to agree with him on the disturbing extent to which Microsoft and Apple have already undermined computer education. I have been hiring engineers for some 30 years now, and I am alarmed at way their "computer literacy" has *declined* during that time. Today's MSEE/MEng graduates are often completely incapable of using their computer as a toolbox for general problem solving, instead regarding it primarily as an appliance which can be used to run pre-packaged proprietary applications.
Microsoft is the worst offender in this regard, as their OS and applications alike are proprietary; Apple is somewhat better (it even comes with a compiler and development environment), but of course their applications and display manager are still proprietary. The problem here is that proprietary software is fundamentally incompatible with computer education — users are simply passive consumers in their interactions with Windows, and are legally forbidden from adapting the software to solve a particular problem, or from satisfying an intellectual curiosity by examining its source code. An education using the power of computers should be a means to freedom and empowerment, not an avenue for one corporation or another to instill its monopoly through indoctrination.
Erm, right. And just how would that work?
One can say that the PR departments were unaware of PRISM, but of course that was by design.
Re: Too true
I think that most American citizens realise that their government is uncomfortably cozy with big money, but the secret (indeed, the devil) is in the details. My cynical assertion is simply that it is naive to imagine that Lincoln's words 150 years ago, "of the people, by the people, for the people", have any true meaning in 21st century American government.
Assange may indeed be a bit of a conspiracy theorist. But you don't have to be a nutter to appreciate the intimate connection between economic power and political power. This is especially true of the modern US government, which exists primarily to serve the interests of commercial interests with the most money. But it is also true of nearly all modern governments elsewhere in the world and, indeed, throughout history; and only a naive idealist would suggest otherwise. Since politicians and corporations alike want to expand this profitable relationship while keeping it as quiet as possible, unpleasant people like Assange are valuable: until the extent of the problem is exposed, it won't even get discussed, let alone reformed.
No, no, use the correct El Reg terminology! Eadon isn't a Fanboi, he's a Freetard ;-)
@Agree with Obama
It's clear from his record that the *last* thing Obama wants is a public, democratic debate on surveillance programs. I voted for him and supported his campaign in the first term, but there's no denying that he has authorised a sharp increase in government surveillance while in office.
As former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden notes, "Obama expanded the surveillance programs in volume...NSA is actually empowered to do more things than I was empowered to do under President Bush's special authorisation".
"cybersecurity [is] now really at the centre of the relationship"
Apparently so... now that the US has authorised offensive cyber attacks on economic grounds*.
[*] However,"operations that are likely to result in... major economic impact... require Presidential approval". So that's OK then.
"capacity to anticipate and prevent possible terrorist activity"?
Go on, name *one* example where that's worked out for you.
Indeed. Since this is Apple, the available tracks (as in iTunes) are going to be those "authorised for play in your country", which largely defeats the purpose of Internet radio. And advertising...?! Nope, iYawn it is.
Re: they can't win
They could have.
I believe that if Microsoft had accepted the DOJ's 2000 breakup "remedy" instead of coming to the rather dubious "settlement" that they did, they'd be in better shape for profitability for the next decade than they are now, caught in the headlights of the rapid changes in the personal computing environment. Instead, by enshrining in MS culture the inviolable linkage between WIndows and Office, I rather suspect that they've written their own obituary.
Re: Special cable
The problem with that "solution" is that in order to get an Apple device to recognise your charger, you have to provide the correct resistive voltage dividers on both DM and DP pins. If you leave the data pins open, it will simply tell you that "Charging is not supported with this accessory" and refuse to charge.
Naw... Eadon can be a total tit, but there are certain topics at El Reg which (however rationally argued) inevitably receive a certain number of downvotes and technically-shallow rebuttals (mostly AC).
Re: Secure compared to Windows
I'm sure that Eadon will get heavily downvoted for his inevitable dig at Windows, but (as usual) there's more than a bit of truth in what he says. Most El Reg commentards are IT professionals who deal with computer end users on a regular basis, and most will recognise that the ubiquitous Windows PC is the security benchmark for most non-computer-literate users. Never mind that for most of us, the necessity for anti-virus software and malware scanners is an indication of an underlying security failure; for most users this is accepted as a normal and acceptable part of personal computing.
The Jaguar E-type is a lovely car...
But the Tesla S accelerates better than anything but the series 3, and handles better than anything Jaguar has ever built. I had a chance to drive a model S lately, and if Elon Musk can come through on his promises about the network of high-speed recharging stations, the model S is a shoe-in for my next car.
Why "should" Microsoft learn to give the users what they want?
Unless your stock portfolio or income depends upon Microsoft's financial success, why worry?
Microsoft never gave the users what they wanted in the past, but for a variety of reasons their products became widespread in office and consumer environments, and users lived with what they were given. Now that users have more choices on their new devices, let *them* decide. It's hard to imagine that many users or IT professionals will be shedding tears over Microsoft's failure to dominate the personal computing market the way they did a decade ago.
You mean when AOL finally decided to join the Internet?
Many of us on El Reg have been using Internet email since the mid-80s, and adherence to RFC 822 et alii has made delivery across the network very dependable -- until the past few years, when companies like *erm* Microsoft have begun to Balkanise email as they introduce proprietary barriers to open delivery to the email systems they control.
Depends upon where and when you're trying to pick it up. Details here:
Re: Just like inkjet printers...
+++Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++
Re: MSFT the Value Destroyer
But at least TheVogon/RICHTO/Eadon/ShagBag are couragous enough to post their opinions under their own identities -- in contrast to the ubiquitous astroturfers who invariably post as AC!
The only reason Google get any sales on their books?
While I agree with your comments about M$ competition, I don't believe that Google's position is as dire as you believe. The Google bookshop has nearly all of the titles that Amazon has, at competitive prices; and critically, with Google it is easy to download an ePub, strip out the DRM, and use that standard file on any device you like. Unlike Amazon, there is no need for specialised apps or devices to read Google books.
Funny, I read that as "endangering"...
A particularly relevant quotation from Life-Line...
Not sure why it got so many downvotes, unless El Reg has a lot of commentards who dislike Heinlein on principle. In America, particularly, corporations nowadays do seem to have a remarkably outsized sense of entitlement that dwarfs anything expressed by the individuals clinging to the shreds of America's modest social safety net.
Re: Powerpoint bug
2011 has a number of *new* bugs -- but still no fix for the Asian languages compatibility problem that's plagued Office since, well, forever.
(About half the time, whole chunks of Japanese, Chinese, or Korean documents created under Asian localisations of Windows look like line noise when read into Office for Mac or LIbreOffice. Apparently, even Office 2011 hasn't entirely abandoned "code pages". <Sigh>)
At least he's not a Microsoft shill hiding behind AC, who can be counted on to recycle disproven sales claims like "the Chinese can't get enough of the Lumias" every time a story like this comes up.
Sure, WP8 may be a great OS, but economics (per-phone licence cost), timing (three years late to the party), and consumer perception of Microsoft (who has no one to blame but itself) have led to dismal real-world sales numbers that are really pretty unsurprising.
To watch American broadcast television? The mind boggles.
You almost had me...
...until I looked at the date. Phew!
EPIC DOWNVOTE FAIL
While I frequently disagree with the extremes to which Eadon's opinions carry him, they at least involve more thought than the act of labelling him as an idiot simply because you disagree with him. Ad hominem attacks come across as nothing more than childish petulance (although your decision to not hide your rant behind AC saved it from a downvote).
Outlook and Taskline
I am obliged to make heavy use of Outlook 2007, and as you imply, its integrated calendar and scheduling features are pretty decent. But even Taskline isn't going to stop this bloated monstrosity from crashing twice a day, or fix its infamously broken line wrapping, or bring back RFC2822 email quoting that (mostly) worked until its editor was replaced with Word. So, as for so many other users, Outlook has been sidelined into a role as a glorified calendar, while I've switched to a more modern, well-behaved MUA for regular email.
MS paying Canonical to suck almost as badly as itself?
No, Mark Shuttleworth has demonstrated that he can do that quite well by himself, thank you very much.
I believe that the original idiom...
...serves as the semiofficial motto of El Reg writers:
Damn with faint praise, assent with civil leer,
And without sneering, teach the rest to sneer;
Willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike,
Just hint a fault, and hesitate dislike.
-- Alexander Pope (1734)
Asian language support in XP is superb?
That's got to be the most surreal thing I've heard today.
As someone who has had to switch between English, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean on my PC for many years now, I can assure you that Asian language support in XP was only acceptable if you were using the version localised for the specific language you were using. God help you (because Microsoft wasn't going to) if you want to use Chinese on a Japanese version of XP -- or *any* Asian language on a US or EU version.
Windows 7's mostly-complete UNICODE integration is a big step up; but applications (even Office) are still terribly inconsistent, often insisting on using a different language for menus than the desktop for instance. Unsurprisingly, OSX has long been better at multilanguage support -- but so is any modern distribution of Linux (*how* old was the Linux you were referring to, anyway?).
Random fishing expeditions?
Of course. And this is surprising... why?
Eric Schmidt doesn't give a damn about Internet users' privacy, and he's famously said so in as many words.
As a good American billionare, what bothers him about China is that it's the *government* trying to control the Internet and remove any expectation of privacy, whereas by rights it ought to be big *business* controlling the 'net and *monetising* user privacy, while allowing them to retain the illusion of privacy.
At least the Chinese government's actions derive from a (IMO misguided) patriarchal notion of what is best for Chinese society, while Schmidt can't even pretend that Google's privacy grab benefits anyone but advertisers and Google shareholders.
Having talked to plenty of mobile developers, I suspect that you're right. Windows XP was arguably Microsoft's high-water mark in terms of desktop OS stability, long-term support, and market acceptance -- and developers joined in droves. But (despite CE and 6.5) Microsoft has become the new kid in smartphone OS, and the UNIX-based kernels used by everybody else really look like the safe bet. WPx just doesn't bring enough to the table to be worth learning a completely new model of apps development.
I'm an OSS developer...
...but Microsoft's accelerated EOS strategy sounds more like a common-sense acknowledgement of the state of mobile OSes than anything else. I'm not interested in WP, but the planned obsolescence of previous versions seems sensible enough in a market dominated by IOS and Android. The RHEL 5 and Windows XP models of long-term support really have little validity in the land of smartphones with rapidly-evolving hardware and two-year contracts.
...VirnetX won a $368 million damages award against Apple last November in front of the same judge and using the same patent claims -- just a different jury -- as the Cisco case. This time around, the judge simply strategised a bit better, so the jury found VirnetX's secure networking patents to be valid, just that Cisco hadn't infringed on any of them. Small victory for troll hunters, really.
Windows is POSIX compliant?
Bzzt, take your seat. Not even Microsoft claims -- or cares -- about POSIX compliance any more.
Microsoft gave NT a partial POSIX subsystem, which just about nobody used, to get a rubber-stamp for sale into government accounts. (This led to a series of infamous court cases in the mid-90s in which the US Coast Guard was forced by the court to accept Windows on a contract that stipulated POSIX compliance, but then eventually led to an "unfit for purpose" lawsuit by the USG.) In any case, this applied only to the NT kernel when using the Microsoft Windows Services for UNIX. Windows CE, Windows Phone, etc., have never aspired to POSIX compliance.
Windows is *not* officially certified as POSIX-compliant, but only as partially compliant with POSIX when implemented through an extension compatibility (usually translation libraries) layer. Since NT4, the NT POSIX subsystem has been replaced a few times, and was crippled from the start. That's why everyone and their brother uses Cygwin, UnixUtils, or MinGW for porting Unix apps to Windows.
Re: Unity is worse than TIFKAM
Yes, but for desktop Linux installations it's a choice that can be avoided altogether, rather than simply being worked around, unlike the case with TIFKAM in Windows 8. With Ubuntu, there are many other window managers that you can choose at install time instead of Unity.
Unity and TIFKAM
No, neither Unity nor Metro are horrendous system-breakers, and both of them may be better user interfaces for certain sorts of devices and use models. But even their fans can't argue that either of them make desktop computing more productive -- yet they have served to alienate Linux and Windows desktop users because of the way they have been forced on them as the default UI.
It really seems that Mark is making the same mistake as Steven Sinofsky, in thinking that the same user interface was suitable for smartphones, tablets, and desktops alike. Say what you like about Apple, but Steve Jobs was always clear on the notion that the best way to interact with a tablet is not the same as with a desktop machine, despite the fact that the underlying OS core is likely the same.
Re: poor quality of FOSS?
I don't think that there's any objective evidence that open-source applications are of any poorer quality than the proprietary ones they replace. In my experience with Windows, for instance, I've been forced to use a lot of really terrible applications that someone actually paid money for. And the Linux kernel itself demonstrates the excellent quality of software that can be produced by non-corporate FOSS developers.
But don't get me started on documentation! I'm not sure why the online help provided with Windows and Mac applications is regarded as a benchmark for quality. It's almost invariably terrible, too shallow to explain anything more than the basic functionality of the menus. You nearly always have to Google to find out how to do something unusual or complicated in Word, for instance. Compare that to the exhaustive documentation, tips, examples, and configuration information provided with a cross-platform FOSS application like Lyx. Or the Linux kernel documentation. Yes, FOSS documentation is very inconsistent (the documentation for LibreOffice is as bad as MS Office), but IMO its average depth and completeness is as good as commodity commercial products.
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