* Posts by David Pollard

1146 posts • joined 29 May 2007

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Putin's internet guru says 'nyet' to Windows, 'da' to desktop Linux

David Pollard
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systemd?

Might this end up providing those who don't want systemd with a well-maintained version of Linux that doesn't use it?

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Met Police wants to keep billions of number plate scans after cutoff date

David Pollard
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Re: Actually, it makes some sense …

keep only the appropriate data

Initially when the DNA database was introduced, parliament had stipulated that records weren't to be stored and that it wasn't to be used for speculative trawls. It was not long before a weasel clause was added, in a Bill which few MPs would have understood and which made only a slight modification to the statute. This allowed records to be maintained indefinitely "for statistical purposes".

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David Pollard
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Waste of taxpayers' money

In the case of my girlfriend/partner's murder, the massive search that ensued for the driver of a white or light coloured Morris Traveller was completely misdirected. The supposed sighting on which it was based had been, as best I can tell, at the wrong place and the wrong time. Neither of these details fitted properly with the facts as I know them.

Given the number of wrongful convictions that occur it seems to me that opportunities for armchair detection trawls need stringent oversight. Something like the precautionary principle is needed here, that the easier it is to use a technology to get a conviction the more tightly it should be controlled.

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David Pollard
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Re: ANPR FOI

My own experience of FoI in another area is that the police are generally unwilling to provide any information at all to members of the public; and that a range of 'acceptable' excuses for denial is available, more or less as boiler-plate text.

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Crims unleashed IRS-stabbing malware in bid to rob 464,000 people

David Pollard
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Send for IDS

There's an urgent need for full investigation at the highest level of the ways in which crooks and villains are manipulating new technologies in order to get their hands on government pay-outs. The underlying problem is clearly international and he may need to spend quite some time away from the UK in order to gain a thorough understanding of the complete picture.

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How one of the poorest districts in the US pipes Wi-Fi to families – using school buses

David Pollard
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Re: On the Bus

I assume that the router install base will suffer some 'shrinkage' over time.

One of the positive aspects of community involvement is that vandalism tends to diminish. When local people, including the young ones, are directly involved in the way that their local environment looks and functions then to an extent it becomes self-policing.

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Reports: First death from meteorite impact recorded in India

David Pollard
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Filming on Lambeth bridge?

With details of the film being made of a bus exploding on Lambeth bridge streaming onto the intertubes, this is just the sort of story the viral marketers would be likely put out. There would be an interesting research project for somebody to chart the content of and links to sites that provide 'news' about the 'meteorite'.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35516697

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David Pollard
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Spores from space?

Many will be awaiting with eager anticipation the latest conjectures from Chandra Wickramasinghe and Milton Wainwright.

http://miltonwainwright.com/panspermia-life-in-space/

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Did you know ... Stephen Fry has founded a tech startup?

David Pollard
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Re: More words - the show must go on?

It is also fascinating to read Simon Gray's book, Fat Chance: 'Stephen Fry Quits' Drama. which is about the time Fry walked out on the cast of the play "Cell Mates".

A reviewer on Amazon rightly commends Gray's "perspicacity and humour, even if the latter was sometimes of the dark, almost gallows type."

In this book Gray explains "[t]he devastating effects on all the rest of the cast, including all those who are employed both front of house and in the production, that one actor can have due to his actions... It is a fascinating inside look at what happens within a play and its performances when one actor reneges on a commitment not just to a contract, but also to the other people in the play."

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David Pollard
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Compare and contrast

Perhaps I can go some way towards explaining my objections by suggesting that the equivalent to Pindex in literature would be similar to an expectation that a series of precocious spelling bee competitions will imbue an appreciation of Shakespeare, Auden and Tennyson in the participants.

Although he comes from an earlier era, there are numerous videos of Richard Feynman on YouTube which convey an impression of what real scientific understanding is about.

Here, for example, is Feynman giving us a few clues about science, similar clips being easy to find:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cj4y0EUlU-Y

And here are the Spooky Men's Chorale giving their insights into one of Tennyson's works:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQqyfoeVhq4

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David Pollard
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"... a fair resource ...?

To me it looks to be another ghastly collection of "interesting facts", which for those who can remember them will become a simulacrum of knowledge.

As Mr Fry so ably demonstrates from time to time, scientific understanding is considerably deeper than the ability to recite a collection of factual details.

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Lights out for Space Vehicle Number 23: UK smacked when US sat threw GPS out of whack

David Pollard
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Joke

Blasted technocrats ...

... as bad a the auditors, always moving things around. Why can't they leave Greenwich where it's always been?

(Icon to ward off pedants.)

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US government's $6bn super firewall doesn't even monitor web traffic

David Pollard
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Re: You're missing the point

Sadly A/C seems not so far wrong. Here's the xkcd money chart:

https://www.xkcd.com/980/

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David Pollard
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Joke

"... six per cent coverage ... for $6bn"

Obviously they need an increase of funding to $100bn to achieve 100% coverage.

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Dutch cops train anti-drone eagle squadron

David Pollard
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Guided Water Rocket

In another Reg article today is a report of a near miss between an Airbus 321 at 1500 feet and what was presumed to be a water rocket. It is astounding that the world record altitude for this type of device is 825 m.

Something on similar lines has the potential to be an ideal countermeasure against drones, when fitted with a lightweight control system (R Pi?) and ground-based guidance. On its return to Earth a two litre plastic bottle would do little damage to people or property.

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Zuck's bucks are now the world's 6th-largest cash pile

David Pollard
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Oblig xkcd

http://xkcd.com/980/

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Medical data experiment goes horribly wrong: 950,000 records lost

David Pollard
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NHS Care Data?

If anyone reading is involved with the NHS medical records systems, can you please use this leak as yet another example and try to point out to those in charge that the creation of a large central database which holds personal data isn't a terribly good idea

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Come on kids, let's go play in the abandoned nuclear power station

David Pollard
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... use up the waste plutonium ...

Unfortunately there seem to be one or two among the powers that be who think it would be a good idea to hang on to it, just in case it's needed at some stage in the future.

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Show us the code! You should be able to peek inside the gadgets you buy – FTC commish

David Pollard
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Re: fat chance

As an example, there seem to be a bunch of manufacturers who do rather well selling routers which run open source software, such as DD-WRT. I would have thought that in areas such as home and environmental control a similar approach would also pay off.

It takes a certain confidence to be up-front and open. While this is not of itself a guarantee of quality, it goes some way towards it.

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That one weird trick fails: Google binned 780 million ads last year

David Pollard
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"binned some 12.5 million pharmaceutical ads"?

A Google search [site:nhs.uk paypal viagra] brings up several pages with many obviously dodgy links. Also there are usually a large number of similar offers for counterfeit goods of various sorts apparently on the NHS site. I don't know how the hacks are achieved or exactly how they benefit the miscreants, but it's been a couple of years since this misuse of nhs.uk was first mentioned on El Reg. And Google itself has supposedly been tackling the issue for about a year now.

It's not just that the ads are dodgy, the perpetrators are using the NHS internet presence fraudulently too. Must try harder.

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The next Cuban gristle crisis: US Navy warship powered by beef fat

David Pollard
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Megaphone

Obig xkcd

https://xkcd.com/1338/

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Why does herbal cough syrup work so well? It may be full of morphine

David Pollard
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eucalyptus oil for emphysema

The commercial product 'Olbas Oil', available at most supermarket pharmacies, contains a mixture of plant oils such as peppermint along with eucalyptus and is efficacious for me with few side effects; though it is quite strong and stings a bit if you get it on a sensitive area of skin.

N-acetyl-cysteine also seems to help me cope with emphysema. I learned about it here:

http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/band81/b81-2.html

It's sad that Bandolier is no longer in existence, for they did good reviews on somewhat similar lines to Cochrane in the search for evidence based medicine. Their commentaries on a range off alternative medicines, included in the overall index under the heading 'Complementary', seems to me to be as good as you can get. There do seem to have been a few medics who were neither in thrall to Big Pharma nor to quackery.

http://www.medicine.ox.ac.uk/bandolier/knowledge.html

I wonder how much the NHS would save and how much overall health might benefit if work similar to theirs were to be extended and made easily available.

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New open-source ad-blocking web browser emerges from brain of ex-Mozilla boss Eich

David Pollard
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Virtualisation + handover container

A while ago I've wondered about a scheme where holders of supermarket loyalty cards could swap them so as to confuse the data picture that was being compiled.

What would be fun is a browser on similar lines, designed to be packed and handed from one user to another. Perhaps the number of swaps could be listed in a manner similar to playing conkers, thus adding value. Then users could boast about the camouflage rating of their latest browser. E.g. "I'm currently using a 23-swap Firefox with 58,000 adsite hits listed."

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Apple backs down from barring widow her dead husband's passwords

David Pollard
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Re: Just write it down

USB stick? I wouldn't like to trust a single one of these to retain important information for any length of time.

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Server retired after 18 years and ten months – beat that, readers!

David Pollard
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Re: Fan lasting 5 years +

I set up a large fan

That's the thing. A decade or so ago desktop fans used to be 5", now the trend has been to 3.5" or smaller, less efficient, faster running and generally more noisy.

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Beware the terrorist drones! For they are coming! Pass new laws!

David Pollard
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Re: Every excuse is good...

... and someone noticed that, as reported the other day in El Reg, "instead of being a program ... worth only US$4 million in 2010, the asteroid-detection budget has expanded to $50 million for fiscal year 2016."

Paranoia pays plentifully.

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Investigatory Powers Bill: A force for good – if done right?

David Pollard
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Can this "be done right"?

An article in today's Guardian (12/01/15) presents a much stronger line. Under the headline, "Privacy watchdog attacks snooper's charter over encryption", it presents the Information Commissioner's warning that encryption ‘is vital’ for personal security.

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jan/12/privacy-watchdog-attacks-snoopers-charter-encryption

Lord Strasburger reckons, "To some extent, the current draft of the Bill achieves [the] laudable goal [of transparency." To me it doesn't look like that.

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Planet-bonking rock hunt armed with humanity's cruellest weapon: bureaucracy

David Pollard
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Joke

Re: How do we know?

The cost of finding one will increase as more and more are discovered and fewer undiscovered ones remain. The relationship will be approximately logarithmic, hence it will be possible to extrapolate both the slope and the total number from the published discoveries and annual cost.

From personal observations of bureaucracies I'd expect the 90% level to be reached when there has been a further increase in costs of somewhere between 20- and 200-fold, though there might be attempts to fudge the lower limit on size before this so as to increase the total number.

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Lovelace at 200: Celebrating the High Priestess to Babbage's machines

David Pollard
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Re: And .........

Aspects of your questions have been discussed by John Conway and Simon Kochen, who argue that if we have free will then so too in some measure do elementary particles.

The Free Will Theorem:

http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0604079

The Strong Free Will Theorem:

http://arxiv.org/abs/0807.3286

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UK energy minister rejects 'waste of money' smart meters claim

David Pollard
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Re: I think it *will* be a ghastly mess

I can think of better, more sensible ways to spend £19bn....

Two or three Generation III+ nuclear power stations for a start.

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Swiss try to wind up Apple with $25k dumb-watch

David Pollard
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Time for an Antikythera Mechanism replica?

There might well be scope for a limited edition range as an alternative to GPS. The mechanism is truly wondrous.

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You ain't nothing but a porn dog, prying all the time: Cyber-hound sniffs out hard drives for cops

David Pollard
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Re: Sounds Expensive

Got any evidence that such abuse has ever happened?

Albeit that this involved a horse rather than a dog, the case of Clever Hans shows how subtle communication by unconsciously delivered cues can be.

http://news.discovery.com/history/smartest-horse-hans-120107.htm

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El Reg picked a pack of ace pic-titlers

David Pollard
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Who put glue in my deodorant?

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Software bug sets free thousands of US prisoners too early

David Pollard
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Cruel and unusual?

Would it not be a cruel and unusual punishment to send a convict on their way, telling them they are free to go, then some while later to collar them for a further term of imprisonment?

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Juniper's VPN security hole is proof that govt backdoors are bonkers

David Pollard
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"Green points out that this is a classic example ..."

This does indeed show up really well the impossibility of simultaneous security and 'privileged' access in large systems such as the internet and communications. Could El Reg bring this example to the attention of some of the politicians promoting back-doors in encryption products and ask them (a) if they are aware of this fact of life; and (b) how they would propose to overcome it?

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Big Brother is born. And we find out 15 years too late to stop him

David Pollard
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Re: Ta Muchly

For the benefit of downvoters:

A 'secret' security system may at first glance seem better than one which is open to scrutiny. But like back-doors in encryption or proprietary blobs in open source code, when things do go wrong, and sooner or later some aspects will surely be compromised, then it's a devil of a job to get things straight again.

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David Pollard
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Pint

Ta Muchly

Thank you Mr Campbell for your continuing good work. National security is much improved when its methods are open to scrutiny.

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Let's shut down the internet: Republicans vacate their mind bowels

David Pollard
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Re: The GOP candidates weren't talking to you

If the GOP can get smarter people to not vote ...

There's nothing they won't do to improve the standard of apathy.

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Lettuce-nibbling veggies menace Mother Earth

David Pollard
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Re: This particular study is getting splashed all over.

Have another hamburger.

http://xkcd.com/1338/

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Microsoft releases Windows Live Writer as open source

David Pollard
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A plug for .NET?

Is this perhaps intended as a way to get .NET installed more widely on Mac and Linux boxes?

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Amazon's new drones powered by Jeremy Clarkson's sarcasm

David Pollard
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Obligatory xkcd

https://xkcd.com/1523/

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Shadow state? Scotland's IT independence creeps forth

David Pollard
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Reducing Youth Offending Generic National Solution?

This seems to have features resembling Deloite's RYOGENS scheme, which was briefly popular with the Blair, Blunkett and Straw version of hang'em and flog'em until an increasing number of parents began to recognise what it would entail.

http://databasemasterclass.blogspot.co.uk/2006/08/6-ryogens.html

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Big Bang left us with a perfect random number generator

David Pollard
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Re: Could this be faked

It's interesting that the authors include in the source of randomness, "interference from other sources of stellar radio noise". Could the entropy of the signal be reduced through the use of local transmitters?

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UK citizens will have to pay government to spy on them

David Pollard
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Are advertisers, trackers etc. to be stored too?

Will there be some means to screen out all the calls to additional addresses besides the page that the user has requested? ABP, Ghostery and NoScript suggest that there may be as many as ten or twenty additional requests for each page viewed.

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Einstein's brain to be picked by satellites

David Pollard
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'Predictions' are what they checked

... scientists on Earth can check Einstein's calculations.

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Facebook! You've got 48 hours to stop tracking people

David Pollard
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Re: You get the cookie if you click

The cookie is on your machine for 1 month.

Not here it isn't.

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Cryptowall 4.0: Update makes world's worst ransomware worse still

David Pollard
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Re: "Badly-Coded Ransomware Locks User Files and Throws Away Encryption Key"

... and test samples on separate hardware to check that the backup works.

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Stuxnet-style code signing of malware becomes darknet cottage industry

David Pollard
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As the man who gave up and went to care for elephants said

Just remember you have to trust some of the people some of the time in order to know who not to trust.

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US Military enlists radio hams to simulate fight with THE SUN

David Pollard
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Re: What would really happen...

The Huffpo article seems to be hardline advertorial where the author has found a nice little earner selling scare stories like revivalist religion. It looks to be on a par with Chris Busby's sales of so-called anti-radiation pills to children in Japan and other quackery.

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Finally, with W10, Microsoft’s device strategy makes sense

David Pollard
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Ergonomics?

The "unified experience across all screens" seems to me to neglect the important part of all equipment design, that of matching the interface to the human form. For reading and writing documents, something around A4 size is near optimal for human eyes. Pen and paper and full-size keyboards suit adult hands reasonably well. For mumbling sweet nothings, "I'm on the train ... love you," and so forth, a tiny, lightweight box with a few buttons may be rather more appropriate.

Readers will doubtless think of other examples where the singular Windows I/O paradigm is not optimal. What the world really needs is a simple, consistent and reliable operating system onto which appropriate interfaces can be grafted to match our hands, eyes and ears to the various new devices that are supposed to enhance our lives.

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