34 posts • joined 20 Jun 2011
PCs are now workstations?
The days of the PC as a consumer device are gone. It will live on as a workstation though, both in business and in the home, especially if we count serious PC gaming as a form of work-level usage, rather than just something purely casual. For all the casual stuff, the phones, tablets and consoles can do and are happily doing the job.
Other than a single drop out I've had no issues. Restarted modem and router and all has been fine since.
I don't think Plusnet are any better or worse than any other provider - most times their customers have no problems, occasionally they're struggling. How is that different to BT, TalkTalk, Virgin, etc.?
Admittedly the router I had supplied to me is pretty basic and probably not up to making many connections (i.e., more than a couple or three wireless connections at once), but it works for most usage scenarios. In the case of needing lots of wireless connections, it's up to the user to look into their usage patterns and find something after-market that works for them. How is that different than any other provider?
Only way to be sure...
...of security/privacy is not to let your data out of your own hands. Even encryption isn't necessarily a guarantee that your data won't be visible to someone, somewhere as a result of spying and malicious back doors. I can't even be sure that a personal cloud server on my own internet connection isn't susceptible to hacking.
Of course, it's all a matter of degrees. There will be some data that isn't sensitive and it doesn't really matter who sees it, but there will be other times when the data is in need of care about where it goes. I might be willing to put a music file or two on a cloud share, but not a CV (too much risk of identity theft). I might be willing to put game saves in the cloud, but not my medical records.
A Truly Secure System?
The only way I can think I'd be happy with my medical information being in an online DB would be for it to be in its own 'black box' - effectively its own little database program that only I and my doctor can have direct access to. Anyone else can only ask a simple question that can only have one of three answers: true; false; and null (or in more common parlance: yes; no; unknown).
In that way, if any medical search for a particular condition is needed, then all the 'black boxes' can be asked a question. For example: does the patient smoke? They get answers from the boxes of either yes, no, or unknown. Those that answer yes can be told to alert 'their' doctor accordingly and the matter can be followed up face-to-face with the actual patient. I suppose this in essence is like the black box being a medical avatar for the patient.
Of course, I don't expect any company or government department would even have a clue what I'm talking about (least of all the NHS in the UK :( ).
This is old news. Back in 2006-07, I was involved on a project for an NGO that was doing 'small, innovative and a bit risky' that was welcomed by the users, until the powers that be decided to outsource everything to Indian-offshored big I.T. suppliers. Apparently the users hated the result of that offshoring because all the responsive work we were doing at our small scale was effectively killed off by the bureaucracy of the outsourcers. Oh, and while I'm at it, we were also doing three month release cycles back then too. Funny that Google and Mozilla decided to 'follow our lead' ;)
Personally I think that to get Windows to have the level of hardware control desired would require Windows to have direct access to that hardware. So my answer would be for either a dual boot arrangement, or to have two separate machines. If finances allow for that much memory and Xeon processors, then money for more than one machine can't be out of the question.
Mr Dimbleby Take Note...
...at least the scorpion has eight legs.
Site Selective Image (and Video) Blocking
The Pleasantdale drive sounds from the specs like it's suitable for (and maybe even designed for) being a repository of information to be read, but not written back to very often, if at all. A website storage drive maybe? Perhaps a place to put non-writable VMs?
A bit of a shame..
I switched to Winamp from WMP quite a few years ago now (pre Vista's release I think) due to changes in WMP that I didn't like. Winamp came up trumps as an alternative enough that I bought the Pro version and I've been happy with it most of the time ever since, with just the minor niggle or two.
I've downloaded the latest release, and will keep on using it as long as I can. I even have older computers I can keep running (or get a VM going with Win 7 or XP) which will allow me to carry on as long as those computers keep working.
I will probably eventually have to change to something else, just like I have to change mobile phones eventually (for ones with no removable battery or storage :( ). Life does move on, even when sometimes we don't want it to.
It's not just the lightbulbs...
It's not the internet connection to the lightbulb, it's the connection the lightbulb has to a home automation server. If the lightbulb's connection could be hacked (if the lightbulb is wireless that is) then the internal network can be hacked. Also, it's not just lightbulbs. Any kind of 'internet of things' will most likely eventually get some kind of standard for the connections between them, so any device connected to a network potentially has the chance of becoming a route to hack into a network. PCs and such like have firewalls - it's highly unlikely a lightbulb or other 'innocuous' simple device would ever have a firewall.
Best bet is for all such devices to have a single encrypted connection to a trusted network as their only comms channel, and not allowing any other connections at all.
Keep It Going
Personally I'd like to see BB survive, but with a focus back on business-like mobile devices and services for all sizes of enterprise. The biggest problem with Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's WinPho devices is they are far too consumer- and cloud-centric and in being so, they're moving too far away from what a business phone needs to be - independent and secure (IMO).
Not Quite Cloud...
I recently set up my own ClearOS server for email, with SOGo for groupware. It all works, kind of, but of course it's not a proper cloud service in that it doesn't have apps that can be downloaded to phones, etc. But it did finally get me away from Microsoft's Outlook (I now use eM Client instead as it can handle the CalDAV and CardDAV that SOGo uses) and having my email hosted. But running my own server does need a decent internet connection (which I have) and the cost of the electricity to keep running the server 24/7 needs to be included, though it isn't much.
I'm sure there are easier and probably better home cloud solutions out there, like the NASs mentioned already, but what I would say is that I am much happier now that I'm not locked in to any cloud service provider's offerings.
Hmm. Personally I'd be thinking along the lines of:
HTML5 for the front end interface with Apache & PHP on a web server;
Postgres or MariaDB for a back end database storage. RDBMS for most uses is fine, though a JSON implementation might make life easier depending on what kind of data is being stored.
By going HTML5 based, you won't have so much to worry about with different clients being used to access the system, and also if you change your client computers at a later date, the core logic is not platform specific to the client, being kept away on a server that would probably be running Linux or Unix.
I once had a contract where my immediate boss (a woman, I might add, and a very nice one too on all accounts) realised that the best way to get the best out of me was to work with me and support me, not pressure and stress me. That was one of the better contracts I did, simply because I wanted to go in and do the job, rather than feeling that I had no choice but to go in.
So, for employers, hear this: it pays to be positive and supportive to your staff, particularly your Aspies, because we'll put in the extra mile to get the job done!
Re: Noise pollution
This is the first time I've heard someone mention an issue something like I've got - I find it very difficult to make out different strands of conversation when in a group, especially with other noises around, like say in a pub. It's like I can hear the sounds but can't interpret them.
I far prefer to be in a quieter environment and with fewer people talking at once so that I can actually make out what is being said.
"You don't need to adjust, others do."
Hmm, and pigs might fly. The day when all the NTs are able to understand the non-NTs is a very long way off.
While I haven't been diagnosed with Aspergers, or even 'tested' for it, I certainly can identify with some of the symptoms that I've seen described here and elsewhere. I feel I sit somewhere between NT and Aspergers on the Autism scale, meaning I'm in neither camp. Certainly I get frustrated with NTs, but I also get frustrated with anyone who is a 'bit too focussed'. I don't get on with anyone easily at all. I'm not sure how to deal with that.
While I'm not a scientist, I do think that visualizing the idea as 'slow motion' is wrong. I think it's more like a difference in frame or sample rates.
At about 24fps, we humans see no flicker in a series of related images (aka a film ;) ) but a 12fps we can see the flicker. The slower the fps, the more we miss from the time between frames. Flies (and by extension most if not all creatures smaller than us) perceive and process 'images' so fast that they 'know' far more about what's going on in their immediate surroundings, such that they are able to get out of the way of that moving hand.
This also might explain why as children we don't hear or see adults moving in slow motion but they do seem to take such a long time to get things done, while as adults children always seem to be rushing around and getting bored when there's not much happening.
"ICANN has previously said it wants to "unleash the global human imagination" by extending the number of top level domains in operation."
More like unleash a way to make money...
I am of the belief that, as mentioned in a previous post, it's better to let a message be available to world+dog and encrypt it, than try to hide the whole line of communication.
My rule is: always encrypt at the client using a public key published by and for your recipient, then send to recipient.
All that's needed to enable this to work more transparently on the existing email system is for there to be a replicated worldwide set of servers that hold public keys for given email addresses, and an email client 'add-on' that can look up the key and encrypt an email using it before sending the email.
The user of any given public key can update to the public key servers for the email-key pair as and when they need to.
Please somebody tell me this somewhat simple system already exists?
If I was still building database applications I would personally still prefer to use some form of stored procedures, with parameter inputs that don't use the names of fields or tables in the database. It really should be obvious to any database application engineer today that the engine of any database system (SQL or otherwise) should never be exposed to the wider world, and the names of any database's objects shouldn't be either.
Re: There are so many reasons...
1. I'm the only person in my company, so I suppose I could leak my info, but I'd have to sack myself if I did so...
2. The cloud only offers as much security as 'they' say it does - we don't actually know for sure how each provider of cloud-type services ensures that data doesn't get into the wrong hands. It's certainly true that it's in the providers' interests not to treat users' data badly, but that doesn't mean things can't go wrong. And as far as I'm concerned, better the dickhead I know in my company than the dickhead I don't know in someone else's.
3. My business isn't reliant on the internet - I can use my computers offline to get work done, which is pretty much impossible if the applications and data is all up in the cloud.
There are so many reasons...
...why cloud isn't a good idea that outweigh its one or two plus points. This kind of balls up is one of them.
Some of the others:
Lack of guaranteed privacy (just who else really can see my data, and that of my contacts and my calendar?)
Lack of truly robust security (there's no such thing, all it takes is one disgruntled insider and my data along with god knows how many others' is in a hacker's hands)
Reliability (not just of the cloud system, but the internet to it - what if my ISP has a problem, or my physical internet connection is in some way down?)
The only good use I can personally think of is as a place to put strongly encrypted backup files.
Speeling and Grandma
I know no-one here seems to like pedants, but this article is just a bit too far. I do try to be relaxed about the internet's generally poor English, but the writer needs to remember that while a good user of English can unpick the errors, those for whom English is a second (or even a first) language that is less well known are really going to struggle with some of the errors as the context can't easily allow the meaning to be understood.
As for the article's subject, I think the biggest let down with Kinect I've experienced is its lack of precision. Hopefully the higher resolution that's supposed to be in Kinect 2.0 will help.
Re: outside of a few Excel power users ...
The obvious follow on question is: what is a good (and I mean a good) alternative to Access for a single file, database application development application?
I've used Access for years, but with all the recent fails coming through from MS I'm now seriously looking to get away from MS based machines where that's possible.
Linux Mint seems to be the logical choice, but the reasons not all can go that way is that there is always some piece of hardware (either recent or legacy) that doesn't have anything other than Windows drivers, or a piece of software that only comes in a Windows flavour. Outlook was one, but I think I can probably live with Evolution (I prefer a one stop shop for email and PIM).
Minus One for W8, Plus One for Aero and W7
Just a comment to +1 on liking Aero too. I really can't comprehend just how f*cked up Microsoft's ideas are at the moment, it seems they've chosen to alienate their core customers, the businesses (big and small). First it was Windows Phone 7 with no proper business version and no local sync for Outlook or full Exchange intergration. Then Windows 8 with Metro getting in the way on the desktop and being practially useless when remoting in. Then also Metro on Server 2012 (WTF?!). Now it's flattening out the desktop UI, dropping everything that made W7 feel a delightful and dare I say it, 'pretty' UI to look at. I sincerely hope Ballmer and Sinofsky get the boot because of these stupid ideas, and are replaced with people with a few brain cells to knit together!
I also have difficulty understanding it, so I went off and read up the wikipedia entry here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NoSQL, with the obvious caution that is, after all, a wikipedia article.
From what I can gather, the main reasons for ditching an RDBMS are the CPU/Memory overhead involved in running said RDBMS (all the stuff that keeps data consistent, etc) for very simple data structures, and the problems involved in distributing a 'single' database across multiple systems where the amount of data is too large for any one system to handle.
The biggest drawback of NoSQL (as far as I can tell from the wiki) is the sheer number of different NoSQL database systems out there. There seem to be so many versions from different vendors, each with its own API that it would be pretty much impossible to know them all as a database developer. Each variation will have been devised to optimize to the extreme one form of data storage and retrieval such that no other system could hope to be as fast (which may be a good thing for fast, lean systems), but the problems to the development community of the fragmentation these NoSQL systems cause, and the headaches in supporting them all in the long run, do worry me.
Subscription and/or Adverts
What gets me, in this wizzo technological day and age, is that Sky seem intent on not doing something that might* get them more money - provide both a free advert version, and a subscription 'non-advert'** version of each channel. The programmes on the subscription version start later, and have adverts _between_ the programmes only, but this allows programmes on both versions to finish at the same time. This way, it's up to the viewer to decide whether they want the free ride with adverts getting in the way, or the pay form with the adverts out of the way of the programmes themselves.
As for ad-skipping, I have a Humax Freeview PVR (getting quite old now admittedly, it doesn't even have an HDMI output, only a scart!) that has time adjustable skipping settings that are accessed by buttons on the remote to skip forwards or backwards. So not exactly new, and certainly there seems to be no legal block on them in the UK. I don't know if the latest models still have them though.
One thing that doesn't seem to have been mentioned so far is that most broadcast advertising doesn't get people to buy a product, and this has been known for some time. It just raises awareness of the existence of products, and most people either don't remember the adverts, or skip or ignore them anyway. In the future, the only way advertising will really be workable is if it can be directed to those people specifically interested in a product at the time they are looking into it. The only current way that is done is with things like Gongle and Biog searches that have sponsored ads alongside the search results.
* I haven't done the maths, so don't know if they'd screw up their income or not
** OK, so there are adverts, but that's just to pad out the dead air between programmes
Outlook Sync Locally
Personally I'm still using a WM6.1 HTC Blackstone, because it allows me to sync my contacts, calendar and tasks from Outlook (NOT Outlook Express!!) directly to my phone without pissing around with that untrustable abomination that is 'The Cloud'. If any of the phone/OS manufacturers get off their asses and do a full and decent local sync app for Outlook AND remove the need for any form of Cloud account, then I'll use their phone, be it Apple, Google or Microsoft. Until then I'm stuck with WM6.1
How to get the dogsbody artists and workers paid?
Perhaps the biggest problem is how to get decent pay into the hands of the hard working lesser known majority of 'artist workers' - particulary in the case of movies, but also for the authors, composers, lyricists, etc, whose work is more easily digitized.
I know that many people hate the large corporations who make money at those artists' expense, hell, I'm one of them, and we need to limit copyright protection periods so that back catalogue cannot be the only stuff on offer, if only to encourage the creation of new material.
But I also realize that somewhere in the 'system' the artists need to be professionals, that is, making a living from their work. Without copyright, how do they protect their work? If it's given away for free, how do they make a living and so continue to produce their work? Advertising isn't cutting it, and I'm loathe to see a return to a time where the only money around is from rich people and corporations deigning to give grants to a chosen few. Also, what works in software such as a piece of software being 'free' for personal use but effectively subsidized by the corporate version, doesn't work in general media.
So how do the artists get paid?
Aliens! Everywhere! Not!
We simply don't know enough about the universe yet to even guess at what life may be in it. The fact that two theories exist that are polar opposites speaks volumes. We need to do much more research before we can entertain even the notion that there might be alien artifacts in our solar system to find.
As far as I understand it from a site I just read to gen up on this, LSO objects and all other means of storing information on the local machine to track a user's activity are covered by this law. As such the term 'Cookie' as applied to this law is misleading.
What's the point with IPv6 coming in a 'few' years time?
I've just read up a bit on this law, and one point raised in the FAQs on the site I used was the upcoming IPv6. As that will make it pretty much essential that each device has a unique and static IP address, then any tracking will use IPv6 address and be completely out of the user's control. Since IPv6 implementation will have to happen at some point in the not so distant future (arguably within 5-10 years) then this ill conceived and highly impractical to implement law is, at best, very short term from a legal perspective (most laws are around for centuries). IPv6 seems to make it a waste of time, money and effort.