* Posts by Ommerson

112 posts • joined 10 Mar 2011

Amazon-bashed HMV calls in administrators, seeks buyer

Ommerson
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Re: Wonder how much tax HMV paid

Amazon was avoiding pay corporation tax. This is a tax on PROFIT. HMV's problem is that it was nowhere near having any in the first place.

What Amazon *was* doing, was exploiting small consignment relief on imports of media supplied from the Channel Islands. For all I know, perhaps HMV was doing this as well for mail order? Just about everybody else was at the time. This loophole was closed earlier in the year, and that's done nothing for HMV.

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Twin brothers nabbed for scrap over sex with 'shared' girlfriend

Ommerson
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would....

...having sex with both of them simultaneously constitute incest?

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Microsoft to Moto: We'll give you $1m a year for your patents

Ommerson

It is a requirement for any participant in a formal standardisation process to declare any patents they hold on the technology and agree to FRAND license. In the case of MPEG - so presumably H.264 - there is a patent pool arrangement in place.

The 802.11 standards are also formal standards.

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Hotel blames burglaries on hacked Onity card locks

Ommerson
FAIL

Broken design

THe security of these locks is fundamentally broken, and if the hacker's paper is to be believed, the design is at best negligent, with all the hallmarks 'we know best' security practice - in particular the DIY crypto algorithm.

Onity's statement disingenuous: the hack is hardly complex - it involves little more than a lost cost micro-controller, a battery and a few passives - probably about $5 of parts. Schematics and full source-code are readily available. The report elsewhere that a pen-size lock-pick has been made is not at all surprising.

What surprises me is that this isn't already heading towards a class-action law-suit state-side - especially if the reports here that Onity is charging hotels for new lock components.

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BlackBerry 10: AWESOME. If the hardware matches it, RIM jobs are safe

Ommerson
FAIL

Re: One-trick pony

You seem to be falling into the trap that many others are doing, This statement is simply not true. Lots of QNX in embedded applications (also a lot of Linux and VxWorks too FWIW).

Whilst BB10 might be build with QNX at its core, you definitely not assume that devices using QNX have anything of the extra stuff that BB10 brings to the party, or that there is suddenly any kind of interoperability.

Your assertion is about as useful as saying that because Android is based on a Linux kernel, a Linux server must therefore have similarities or capabilities of Android.

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Samsung brews half-asleep OCTO CORE phone brain MONSTER

Ommerson
FAIL

Re: RE: code in C++

You *think* wrong.

If you'd ever tried debugging application in Android you'd know just how quickly java method calls find their way into native C++. Sure, there are performance critical things that you are better not implementing in Java, and which there are no C++ APIs for. A very small proportion of the software running on a Android phone is actually running in the VM.

Rather, the problems with Android have traditionally been a lack of coherent use of hardware acceleration and lack of bad behaviour of apps - in part due to the lack the strong-arm policy controlling what apps can and cannot do that Apple imposes, and Microsoft has copied for Windows RT.

For the sake of completion - it's worth pointing out that Objective-C is garbage collected and there isn't a direct C++ API for the GUI in iOS either (although ObjectiveC and C or C++ are toll-free bridged, and plenty of the APIs are in fact C).

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Post-defenestration Microsoft: It's the APIs, stupid. And Metro

Ommerson

Re: WP8

Porting an well designed and portable kernel to a new platform is a new CPU architecture such that it is functional is relatively straightforward. There is very little platform-specific code in a modern operating system. Go and look at the Linux or *BSD source trees to confirm this.

What will have been a lot of work is cracking the problem of power management - particularly as WIndows 8 is targeted at mobile devices. MS has achieved this for no fewer than 3 ARM SoC platforms - no small achievement.

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Ommerson
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Re: WP8

Whilst the the very core of the NT kernel certainly has leanings towards being a Microkernel - particularly in terms of modularity - it's about as monolithic as they come.

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Ommerson
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Re: If Ballmer and Microsoft think any professional would ever use Metro they are on crack

out of curiosity, have you actually *used* it?

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English Defence League website 'defaced, pwned' by hacktivists

Ommerson
FAIL

He who fights monsters....

ZHC seem to have more in common with the EDL than they have differences. This seems to be a case Islamic fascism going after common-a-garden fascism.

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Analyst: There are LOADS of iPhone 5s, Apple is keeping them back

Ommerson
FAIL

The Anal-lyst strikes again

More pontificating from a professional speculator who - without breaking insider trading laws - has about the same insight as the rest of us.

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US condom rules 'will cause nasty RED RINGS on porn stars' todgers'

Ommerson
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Re: Not that readily

Asking for bigger ones is a lot less embarrassing than asking for smaller ones.

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Ommerson
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Re: UK/US

Larger sizes are readily available, even on the high street. For obvious marketing reasons condoms are not sold as 'small'. 'medium' and 'large', even though buying the correct size is of great benefit to those with diminutive tools.

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Mobile operators have another go at killing IM and Skype

Ommerson
WTF?

This looks like a solution (and late, and not terribly interesting one at that) looking for a problem. Why on earth would customers be interested in this when there are already plenty of really good alternatives?

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Analyst warns BlackBerry 10 won't be out until March

Ommerson
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The fine line...

... between market analysis and insider trading.

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'It's not a post-PC world: Just a post Windows one, maybe'

Ommerson
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What the Steve Brazier actually means is that's an era in which the cost of software is plummeting, sold direct and in which the channel has no part. Whilst Microsoft has successfully dumped a lot of legacy cruft (at last), it's definitely here to stay in the form of W8.

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RIM begs devs: Build for BlackBerry 10, we'll bung you $10K

Ommerson
FAIL

s/sensible/desperate/

$10k doesn't buy you very much developer time, and getting $1k of sales might be quite difficult as well.

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Apple, Samsung whip out mobe sales in patent trial showdown

Ommerson

Re: Could still be bad for Apple

I doubt it. The carriers are far more defendant on apple than vice-versa. The carrier that sticks its neck out can expect a pummeling from their investors.

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HSBC brands EVERY Apple iPhone 'an insecure PC'

Ommerson
FAIL

Active-X

First direct (HSBC's internet banking offshoot) also makes some perverse choices.

They offer a downloadable money manager app to accompany their accounts. Windows Only. For security reasons it's implemented in Active-X. Other platforms apparently not good enough.

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RIM, Samsung thrash Apple in UK fondleslab sales growth

Ommerson
FAIL

meanwhile...

... Apple thrashes all competition on sales volumes.

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RIM doses PlayBook with 4G super serum

Ommerson
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Lack of clue...

....being demonstrated the comment above.

QNX is a real-time embedded operating system - with a micro-kernel at its core, and POSIX-like layers around it. Which is pretty much same architectural choice as MacOSX/iOS's use of the Mach microkernel. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that MacOSX/iOS are both very solid and fit for purpose.

What really matters for a mobile phone OS are the user-space, user-interface and middleware layers. QNX has very little to offer here, so this is all coming from RIM - and which they are having difficulty delivering in time. At the time of writing, these are an unknown quantity.

Just about the only things of UNIX origin in iOS are low level system libraries providing POSIX APIs, and some parts of the kernel.

There's probably a similar amount 'UNIX' in an Android phone too.

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Pure Stream takes on AirPlay

Ommerson

An Apple TV costs £99 and does video too. A no-brainer if you already have iDevices.

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Google plants rainbow flag in anti-gay countries

Ommerson
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More than use lip-service.

If the numbers of Google employees in the parade at Pride London last weekend was anything to go by, this is not a marketing exercise.

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UK is first class for train Wi-Fi in Europe

Ommerson
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Better than EMT

The Wifi on ECML is actually quite reliable compared to the East Midlands Trains between London and Nottingham. Rubbish 3G as well along the line of route, so I guess we know how they're back hauling it.

The good news is that GSM-R is getting rapidly rolled out along the rail network for signalling and train control purposes. It's perfectly possible to use the spare capacity for mobile data.

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BT to fibre up another 98 exchanges, puffs 'FTTP on demand' offer

Ommerson
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Re: Openwound strike again!

By all accounts, NIMBYism is a big issue preventing rollout in some areas.

There's at least once case in London where there has been so much that BT has just given up - and I don't blame them for it. It might focus some minds and could just result in punishment for incumbent councillors at the ballot box.

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Iran: Our nuke facilities still under attack by US, Israelis 'and MI6'

Ommerson
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Re: Hey Iran...

Probably also a good idea to have direct manufacturer's support for your SCADA system - a situation that is definitely not going to arise when the the system is bought through a 3rd country (due to sanctions) and components are possibly pirated.

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Tesco grabs Peter Gabriel's musical streamer

Ommerson
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Re: Self-service checkouts

As far as I know, it's a far more ancient WIndow NT-based system in use on these checkouts! And in fact the EPOS application appears to be running on Terminal services with the checkouts themselves being a thin (and slooooow) client. Hence the irritating recorded messages sometimes appearing several seconds after you've scanned the next item.

They all appear to be produced by the same manufacturer, and all shining examples poor software usability, Also apparent is that nobody at the supermarkets or manufacturer actually cares about this either.

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16GB BlackBerry PlayBook flushed away by RIM

Ommerson
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What's the odds...

Possible that RIM aren't actually manufacturing ANY models and just slowly disposing of warehouses full of devices?

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National Rail Enquiries

Ommerson
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Re: Switzerland.....

This 'National Rail' application is in fact produced for the Association of Train Operating Companies, which is a private company limited by Guarantee, whose members are UK train operators. It provides passenger information services to consumers, including the National Rail Enquiries phone service.

ATOC has a track record of trying to monetize these services (its other funding stream is from its member companies).

Does rather seem to be me like double dipping. You might like to write to your MP and Justine Greening (secretary of state for transport) - who is currently in the process refranchising a large proportion of UK rail services - asking why unfettered public access to this data is not a requirement of all future franchises.

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Facebook: Your boss asks for your password, we'll sue him! Maybe

Ommerson
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Re: Do what I'd do...

An employer coercing credentials out of a candidate and then using them against Facebook's terms of service may be committing a number of criminal offences.

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GiffGaff goes titsup again in 'leccy cable gaffe

Ommerson
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Sometimes...

Jobs such as these are perhaps best left to the professionals.

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The true, tragic cost of British wind power

Ommerson
FAIL

Omissions

To say these reports are biased in favour of Wind power (despite both coming out rather negatively against) them is a huge understatement.

Balancing capacity - as indicated in the article - is the real biggy here. The grid will need as much spare - and reliable - generating (or load shedding) capacity as it has wind generation for the days when there is no wind. This will most likely be provided be gas turbine plants.

So in effect, we'd need just as many of these plants as we'd need NOT building wind-turbines, but they would run far below designed load most of the time, yet cost just as much to build and maintain.

Wind energy is simply not a scalable or realistic renewable technology for bulk generation. Neither is PV Solar. Hydro and Tidal schemes on the other hand can work.

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FSF fandroids fight to 'free' Android from Google's forepaws

Ommerson
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Re: Replicant

You might recall that this was always Stallman's intention with a free replacement for desktop UN*X about 25 years ago. They started from the bottom upwards with shell utils and compilers.

The result of that process is essentially GNU/Hurd - which is not exactly ready for consumer use, and some parts (GCC for example) are suffering considerable code-rot and look likely to be superseded.

Obviously, in the mean-time, Linux came along, and computer architecture moved on, leaving a lot of the proprietary smarts in device firmware.

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Ommerson
FAIL

Not just from Google

The closed parts of these phones aren't just coming from Google - they also come from the chipset vendor.

There are often large of opaque code that interfaces with some highly proprietary features of Systems on Chips. This includes things such as hardware accelerated video for camera interfaces, face-recognition (used for autofocus on cameras), hardware accelerated media decode, and probably most crucially, OpenGLES graphics drivers.

Some vendors, such as TI publicly distribute the binaries (they're all done in user-space incidentally - to avoid issues with the GPL'd kernel) as black boxes. Others don't even do this. None of them release the source code, and you'll need an NDA for the documentation to build your own equivalent (and releasing any resulting source code would probably be a breach of the NDA).

WIthout these components, your open source phone is going to suck considerably - both in experience and on the battery.

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Brits trapped in confusing council website labyrinths - survey

Ommerson
FAIL

CMS Hell

I think all too often the, the CMS used to drive these sites is cause of poor usability.

Obviously, a CMS brings with it benefits to the organisation, such as devolved the creation of website content to the relevant departments, but this often leads to clunky pages as those writing them have little knowledge of usability and are constrained by the structure of the CMS.

My local council (London Borough of Islington) has brain damage such as 'to search planning applications click the 'planning' button on the toolbar on the left' - rather than providing a direct link in the content.

Saying that, the pages where this leads (https://www.islington.gov.uk/onlineplanning/apas/run/Wphappcriteria.showApplications?regfromdate=05-mar-2012&regtodate=05-mar-2012&DispResultsAs=wphappsresweek1) is clearly not within the CMS framework, and is a vanilla database driven query. It is piss-poor, being practically impossible to use unless you know the precise street address or planning application number, and looks poor as well. The 174 validation warnings for 1 page of content suggest there are several *per line* of HTML.

Their page for applying for a resident's parking permit is similar bad, and buggy as well. This is a service I struggle to use on an annual basis.

Pretty poor show - probably driven by an inability of the Council to hire good staff to build these sites.

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Avoid flying next to blubberbeasts with seatmate-finding site

Ommerson
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Re: Personal space?

I believe Ryan Air has already floated the idea already, and probably has the balls to try it too. Seems logical that after trying to eliminate baggage in the hold they should discourage on the passengers as well.

Naturally the disability/fatty's rights/elderly charities are going to complain bitterly about this. It may also already be illegal for discriminating indirectly against the disabled and certain ethnic groups with high prevalence of obesity - e.g. US citizens.

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Five ways Microsoft can rescue Windows Phone

Ommerson
FAIL

Had they done this, WinPho would have sucked just as much as WM6. The gulf between the two is huge.

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Sony nosedives into $2.8bn loss as Hirai grabs controls

Ommerson
FAIL

Lost in translation

Although not reported here, the management change takes place on 1st April.

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RIM: We topped December smartphone sales chart

Ommerson

Which tends to suggest that the next month's sales will be dire as the effect of xmas presents to teenagers are removed from the underlying sales performance. These won't have been terribly profitably sales either.

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DWP's Work Programme IT already broken at launch

Ommerson
FAIL

Looks like the perils of the waterfall development process strike again.

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Survey: Android set to beat iOS in battle for coder love

Ommerson

The issue is that Android provides a high-level audio API (both native and bridged into Java) that is fundamentally not designed for this kind of application.

The phone vendor (or more likely chipset vendor) decide how they implement this API - in some cases, it's a thin-shim onto ALSA, but it doesn't have to be. You'd be an unwise if you made assumptions here.

There's also a lack of MIDI support - iOS on the other hand has CoreMIDI, which works just as it does in MacOSX, and device drivers for class-compliant USB MIDI devices. It takes about half an hour to plumb this into an application.

Finally, any performance critical real-time app - for instance a soft synth - is going to need to be a native app. Whilst the NDK is much better than it was, it's not a great experience to develop with.

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Ommerson
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Music Apps

One area in which Android has nearly zero market penetration is music creation/performance applications (think sequencers, software sythnetisers and so on). iOS is awash with them, and they are invariable premium paid-for apps or have in-app purchase.

The reasons for this? Various, but lack of device support (and lack of uniformity between devices) , lack of SDK support, and Android architectural choices all figure, but it's basically a royal PITA to develop these types of apps for Android.

For Windows Phone 7 on the other hand, it's practically impossible.

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Redmond campaigns for gay marriage rights

Ommerson

The government is currently trying to finish the job off and make civil partnerships marriages. And yes, this is coming from the (generally younger) leadership of the centre-right Conservative Party- although there are plenty of party members bitterly opposed to it (and a few in the Labour Party too).

One pragmatic solution is to make all unions civil partnerships and allow couples of religious persuasion to dress it up as they see fit.

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Ommerson

More likely a function of the demographic who works at such companies: Devout belief in imaginary friends is not a common occurrence amongst scientists, software engineers and designers.

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Ommerson
Thumb Up

Or back to the dark-ages, which they seem to hanker for. No computers or Internet there, so no issues!

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Crossley cops two-year suspension

Ommerson
Thumb Up

Do you suppose he has much of a career has a solicitor (or indeed anything else?) ahead of him after this (after his suspension)? He's already financially ruined by all accounts.

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Cops seek clues to $1.7m tablet snatch

Ommerson
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Parallels

It strikes me that there are definite parallels between this theft and the Northern Bank raid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Bank_robbery) in Northern Ireland.

After the Northern Bank raid, the thieves were left with a van-load of cash that was practically worthless.

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Is Microsoft brewing a Win8, WinPho code merge?

Ommerson
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Seem

'because you couldn’t and wouldn’t want to fit a general purpose PC operating system core into a phone.'

Since the vast majority of the mobile phone market is doing precisely this, it's entirely reasonable - iOS is using the same Mach/BSP kernel a Mac OS X (and a fair chunk of the user-space layers as well) and Android is using the Linux kernel. Clearly in both cases, some features are compiled out, and some of the drivers are different.

Also bear in mind that MS is already committed to supporting a number of ARM SoC devices in W8, so it seems highly likely that the would avoid duplicating this (considerable) effort across the NT and Windows CE kernels.

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Apple stores getting close to overload

Ommerson
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Careful recruitment

I suspect, the customer service is also down to the type of person employed in an Apple Store - they are clearly recruited for team-fit, and for individuality rather than being a black-trousers-shirt-and-tie sales drone.

Slight edgy looks are clearly encouraged. This is just simple psychology - when the staff in the store appear to have the same kind of lifestyle and values as their many of the customer-base, it's no surprise that they seem approachable and relaxed.

If you want another example of this effect on the British high-street - pop into a branch of Waitrose to spot staff who really enjoy their jobs and want to be there, rather than just collecting their salary and sales bonus at the end of the month.

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Intel preps Thunderbolt docking tech for Ultrabooks

Ommerson
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No. Apple already have a elegant solution shipping in products.

Their solution envisages the display as the docking station. The cable splits into two with a Magsafe power adaptor and Thunderbolt cable on the end.

This is considerably smaller - the laptop in any case needs both the Mag-safe and Thunderbolt/Mini-display port, so it consumes no additional real-estate.

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