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* Posts by Peter Gathercole

1732 posts • joined 15 Jun 2007

Your mouse may actually be a RAT in disguise

Peter Gathercole
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@dgharmon

Uh, yeah! That's what the Pedantic grammar nazi alert icon was for.

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Peter Gathercole
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Headmaster

Re: @ AC 1226 target at AC 15:45

Your retarded what?

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: @AC 12:26

In fact, looking into it, it may be possible to get Pidgin to talk to a "Prescence" server, because it look like it is based around the XMMP STANDARD.

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Peter Gathercole
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@AC 12:26

Cisco "presence" could very easily be ported to Linux or any UNIX. After all, it's available on MacOS X. All it would need is for Cisco to do the port.

The reason it is not available for Linux or UNIX is that they have decided not to do it (although I'll lay a bet on there being a skunk-works version for Linux somewhere within Cisco), rather than any technical reason.

This makes your comment rather spurious.

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Peter Gathercole
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Boffin

Re: The reason *nix based OSes don't have a problem...

I actually disagree. There is more scope for this type of event handler to affect UNIX and Linux systems, at least as long as they run a GUI that uses X11.

Part of X11 allows a suitably written program with the correct permissions (and this is NOT superuser in this case, but the user's own credential set) to re-parent a window, or indeed to insert itself anywhere in the window hierarchy. As a result, all graphic and input events destined for a window go through said program before actually being sent to the application running the window.

This allows such things as all key-press events to be captured by said program, and mouse events to be used to trigger specific actions. This is by design, and is how an X11 Window Manager works, by inserting itself between the root window and all applications. This is also how programs like xscope work.

The credentials required are such things as Magic Cookies, which for systems where the client and server programs run on the same system are often stored in protected files in the user's home directory (there are other more sophisticated methods of protection [using such things as Kerberos and SSH tunnels with SSH agent], but cryptographically signed cookies are still the most common).

This means that if a user can be persuaded to run such a program on the machine with these credentials available, they are at risk of leaking significant amounts of information. There is no requirement to become a privileged user. This is why it is important on UNIX and Linux to keep a firm control of the programs that users are allowed to run. But this often comes down to being a social engineering attack, like so many other ways of bypassing security. If you can make a user run an arbitrary program, then all bets are off regarding the security of that user, regardless of which OS they are using.

Please note that unless the cookies are leaked, this mechanism will not allow one user on a multi-user system to access another user's session on the same machine. Not that this happens very much in these days of single user Linux systems.

I don't think that many people using UNIX or Linux nowadays actually understand the way that X11 authentication works any more, and that is why the icon.

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Apple turns off Siri’s potty mouth

Peter Gathercole
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Facepalm

Re: Asimov did infer sexually capable robots

Ah. Wikipedia to the rescue.

It's called "Satisfaction Guaranteed", and is in the collection "The Rest of the Robots".

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Peter Gathercole
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Heinlein as well

He had sentient computers. I think his first was Mike (Holmes IV) in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress", although it appears in some of his later rather bizarre crossover books as well.

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Peter Gathercole
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Asimov did infer sexually capable robots

I can't remember for certain, but I think that it was in one of the short stories contained in the collection "The Bicentennial Man" (in the UK, it may well be in other collections as well and in the original magazine it was written for). It is inferred that a humainform robot acting as a companion to a woman was capable of sexual acts. When I get home, I'll look it up.

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Windows 8: An awful lot of change for a single release

Peter Gathercole
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Re: @GrahamsTenPenneth

When you installed your Vista system, did it come with a driver CD? If it did, then you are comparing apples with oranges. Try using your camera or MP3 player without installing the driver. They would work about the same as on Linux, or maybe slightly worse.

I would be surprised if any modern camera or MP3 player (iPods excepted) did not configure as a storage device that would allow you to browse the media. And with an iPod (admittedly I've not tried with anything later than a 5.5G iPod Video) as long as it was first used with a Windows PC or you have the HFS+ filesystem added to your Linux system, you should still be able to browse the filesystem. Won't do you much good, however, as iPods have their own database that obfuscates the track names, making it difficult to identify the files.

If you have something like Rhythmbox or Amarok installed, there is a good chance that they will handle even the iPod database.

The fault you are blaming Linux for is actually a problem with the vendor of the media device, not Linux or the Linux community.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Of Ghosts and Bathwater @ FrankAlphaXII

In this context, there is no such thing as truth, merely observed behaviours, and these are conditioned by your perspective. I don't regard you as a heretic, more like a hardened Windows user who dabbles with Linux and believes that they know how all Linux advocates think.

Even though you state that you use Fedora and KDE, yours is a very coloured view of Linux, and IMHO is out of date. If you install Fedora yourself, you will know that it is easy, and, by contrast, Windows (from scratch) is difficult. Windows drivers are hell, especially if you don't have all those shiny round driver disks that you end up needing. Much of modern Linux distributions running on modern systems works out-of-the-box.

Please examine 'ordinary' users for a while. I think that you will find that they will be running a browser, and possibly an email client. They will launch applications that would run just as well on top of any modern OS if they are available. That's about it. There is very little that most of them do (outside of the vendor application lock in) which could not be done on any modern OS (and the adoption of iOS on iPads demonstrates this).

For a majority of users, the Gnome or KDE interface (or even Unity) is all they need to launch their browser, play their media etc. It's point, select and click, and that is all they need. I admit that to get the maximum out of Linux, it may sometimes (but very rarely) be necessary to resort to a shell, but then you need to jump into the registry in Windows once in a while as well. The only thing that Windows users benefit from in Windows is familiarity, and Win8 may break this.

I mentioned the vendor application lock in. This is the real crux of the matter. If you exchange information with someone else, then the fact that MS Office is so prevalent will mean that there will be problems. And when purchasing media, it's Apple who are not interested in making an iTunes client for Linux. Same for Sky, Netflix, LoveFilm etc. It's not a Linux fault, nor should it be the communities responsibility to make up for the fact that vendors (who often have irons in the OS fire) or strict DRM requirements that will always be difficult to handle in OpenSource software, are not prepared to work in the Linux space.

But this is not a Linux problem, it's that Microsoft and other vendors have been allowed to dominate areas of the application landscape.

In the reality that I see, there is no technical reason why users cannot be trained to use any UI. There are commercial reasons, but that is not what you claim.

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Android, heal thyself

Peter Gathercole
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Re: will be improved by users upgrading to newer versions

The whole application deployment model of Android and iOS is different from UNIX, and seriously alters the security model.

With UNIX, you have the concept of a superuser, which is responsible for the installation of applications which are then used by non-privileged users.

Android does away with the requirement to use superuser to install applications. Instead, Google have invented an application deployment framework that sits above the OS and runs as a single non-privileged user, which handles all application installation and execution, as well as making it the guardian of user data. As a result, the traditional UNIX security model is not involved.

In many cases, it is not the Android OS per-se that is compromised by the security vulnerabilities. It is the application and/or the users data. This is a fault in the execution environment (Dalvik?), not in the underlying OS.

Please don't confuse the two.

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Operators turn UK bonking consortium into Google-killer

Peter Gathercole
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Unhappy

Re: Not So Smart Phones Anymore?

The only thing is that the service you are getting at the moment might get a lot more expensive if there was no advertising.

Whilst I agree that most of this is to try to maximise profits, at least some of the advertising will be helping to pay for the technology. Just think that if Google did not have healthy advertising revenues, we probably would not have Android at all. Maybe we would have had Meego or WebOS as alternatives still, but I would not want to guarantee it.

Ad funded services are annoying, but without them we would either have poorer choice or more expensive services. In some ways, this is a lose-lose scenario for consumers.

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N00bs vs Windows 8: We lock six people in a room with new OS

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Now I hate Win 8 as much as the next man @AC 08:53

Like or dislike of Unity is subjective, I might as well downvote you because you do or don't like Marmite.

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Sky staffer plundered database to benefit naughty false firms

Peter Gathercole
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Re: I get regular calls

I get similar. My Sky HD box, which I purchased new from a well known auction site, was never under a Sky warranty, and was purchased at least five years ago. About two months ago, I got a stream of calls from more than one maintenance company wanting to sell an extended warranty because my warranty had just 'run out'. I normally verbally abuse them down the 'phone. This is not normally in my nature, but I think that someone cold-calling me with incorrect information attempting to sell me something has no right to expect not to be abused, especially as I am on the TPS. They claimed that they had obtained my information from Sky, and thus it was not a cold call. Now I understand why it was happening. I'm still unrepentant about the verbal abuse, though.

In truth, I probably could have used an extended warranty. I believe that the reason why I could by a Sky HD box at half of the then Sky HD upgrade price was because it is a first generation Thomson box that is now known to have power supply and tuner problems. I think Thomson dumped them on the open market when Sky switched manufacturer. So far, I've rebuilt the power supply twice (blown capacitors each time), and had to replace the hard disk, as well as cleaning the dust and crap out because it causes it to overheat.

According to Sky, I am now one of the last few customers using a Thomson Sky HD box, and it is causing me problems as it won't run the Anytime+ on-demand service. I think I've managed to negotiate a reasonably priced replacement direct from Sky (the free replacement period has now expired, but all they want to charge is a standard installation - even though I have a quad LNB and a Sky HD box already so installation is just plugging it in and switching the registered box on the account), but if I take it up, I'm tied to them for another year. For all it's reported problems, I wish Virgin would cable our area so we had a choice, but I suspect that will never happen now.

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Sanitary towel firm's 'CEO' sets traumatised man straight

Peter Gathercole
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Headmaster

Re: Genius

As we appear to be in nit-picky mood at the moment, it is significantly less than half who could use the products once you take into account the pre-pubescent and post-menopausal females.

Given that a woman only menstruates for 40 years or so (Wikipedia) out of a an average life expectancy of 80 for women (stat. from the 2011 CIA yearbook again via Wikipedia), I would guess that it is no more than about 30% of the population, once you factor in the higher life expectancy of women.

He's a statistics teacher, obviously!

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Virgin Media's blighted SuperHub NOW comes with extra squeal (oink)

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Hum

It's interesting. Large transformers for dropping AC voltage do hum to a greater or lesser extent, especially if they are rectangular in shape (it's the way that the core is laminated). But this can be significantly reduced by careful design, or almost completely eliminated using toroidal transformers.

But this should be irrelevant in these days of switch-mode power supplies which do not use transformers to step down the voltage. All electrical power supplies should really be switch-mode supplies nowadays, because they are significantly more efficient.

I know it would technically invalidate the guarantee, but if it was bothering me, I would probably buy a better quality stabilised switch-mode supply from any number of suppliers, and use that in place of the one provided.

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'Stop-gap' way to get Linux on Windows 8 machines to be issued

Peter Gathercole
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WTF?

Eh?

"Microsoft key"? UEFI is not owned or controlled by Microsoft, so why should they certify it? Something's gone desperately wrong if Microsoft have control of Secure Boot certificates other than their own.

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Ubuntu 12.10: More to Um Bongo Linux than Amazon ads

Peter Gathercole
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@James Hughes 1

I don't always switch distros, and I did standardise on Ubuntu back at Dapper, but eventually, even LTS releases stop being patched and you have to upgrade or be left behind.

I only switched from Hardy to Lucid when the patches stopped, and it is the switch from Lucid to Precise and the likely necessity to either accept Unity, or deviate from the mainstream that I am not looking forward to.

I switched from Redhat 9.1 to Dapper to Hardy to Lucid because they fell out of support. Other versions of many different distros have been played with on test boxes just to see what is going on.

My current learning bandwidth is mainly being taken up with an IBM PERCS HPC cluster, xCAT, GPFS and all of the other things that make up such systems, both hardware and software (my job is fairly unique). I assure you that that is MUCH more bandwidth consuming than learning Unity!

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Peter Gathercole
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Unhappy

Re: morons @AC 16:30

Well. What can I say. If you don't care, you wouldn't have commented. If you don't want to hear other peoples views, don't read the comments.

I know that my past usage of UIs is of no real relevance, but I was using it to counter the "helpdesk monkey" label of the original AC. I know I play the "I've been around a long time" too much in these forums, it's a personality flaw I have, but I find it difficult to counter an accusation of no breadth of experience without providing some background, and boy, do I have a lot.

I know, and I have said several times, that Unity will suit some (maybe a lot of) people, but it does not me. I know that it's a personal choice, but I get as annoyed by people who say "Unity is THE way forward for everyone", when it's clearly not. I try to never push my views on other people, I just comment on the way I feel. And I feel that Canonical are doing exactly what I don't with their push to Unity. If they had installed Gnome still, and given you the option of switching (something that you can do yourself I know) I would be far less critical. After all, it's not as if modern systems are short of disk space, and much of Gnome is actually already installed. But they didn't.

Having switched distro's several times since I first used Linux (damn, there I go again), I know that I can do so again, so I have no problems there.

But Ubuntu was, and still is, a distro with a large and well maintained repository. This is one of the reasons I liked it and I have suggested in the past to anybody and everybody that they try Ubuntu as it could have been the dominant distro, something that is needed to achieve the critical mass required to get Linux accepted. But I will probably never suggest to someone looking for a different experience that they install a current Ubuntu ever again, because I will either not be using it myself, or will using a different GUI. Maybe that is a loss to the Ubuntu community, maybe not. I have no pretensions about being influential in my professional life, let alone my personal one (I work with real UNIX most of the time still - Linux is just what I use at home).

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Peter Gathercole
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Linux

Re: morons

I think it is you that needs to take a chill pill. 1995 was a long time ago, and even Windows 95 was new/still in beta. UNIX-like OS's were using CDE or Motif, neither of which resembles Gnome 2, or simple window managers like FVWM.

But you appear to be advocating change for changes sake, merely to keep a product moving. Yes, there are people who will like Unity. And there will be people who (like myself) would like to keep a patched working OS going with as little change as possible, because change costs time and money, and I have too little of either free to adjust the way I work. Is it too much to ask for a system that will still be patched (even LTS releases stop being patched) without having to alter their habits.

I have tried every Ubuntu since Unity was released, and I still find that it does not do what I need it to do without serious effort. I generally run with the desktop completely covered up with many windows, so anything put there is no good to me at all. I can use Dash from the side panel, but it appears to me to take longer to find things than static menus. I cannot customise the side panel as easily as with Gnome (may be a learning curve, but I think not), and applications opening full screen are unnecessary. Mixing mouse and keyboard actions in a single operation is in-efficient, and relying on keyboard short-cuts (even to an emacs user) leads complexity that takes time to learn.

I only have so much learning bandwidth. Much of what I have is taken up by my quite challenging work, changing phones, adopting a tablet, and learning to use whatever new consumer device has ended up with a complex UI. There will be the inevitable application changes with 12.04 (LTS release - see above), and the last thing I need to do is learn a new desktop UI as well. This will be true even if I switch to Gnome 3 after installing Precise Pangolin.

Oh, and by the way, I am a valued and well paid (comments about cost notwithstanding) IT professional working supporting complex HPC systems, not as you put it a 'helpdesk monkey'". I have been a strong Ubuntu advocate since Dapper Drake, but have nearly reached the end of what I can put up with. I cannot tell who you are because of your use of AC, but I strongly suspect that I was working with UNIX systems and GUIs (such as SunView, AT&T Blit, Layers) , early Windows, GEM, Arthur, and even Lisa a little, while you were still in nappies!

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Unity... @Chimp

I'm not arguing there.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: What if... @Nigel

If you look at your Linux history, you will find that RedHat 9.1 was made available before either Centos or Scientific Linux were available. I have been using Ubuntu since Dapper (from about when RedHat stopped patching RH9.1), and stick to LTS releases, as the normal Ubuntu releases and Fedora moves too fast for my liking. My day-to-day systems are to use, and the less time I need to spend maintaining them, the better.

I have been using Linux since RH 4.1, and UNIX a lot longer than that, so I do know my way around.

And if you read what I said, I got something out of it other than the knowledge that I was helping RedHat, in that I did not have to download the iso images over a modem....

I actually have little sympathy for the "must be completely free of cost" Linux brigade. If someone wants to create some software which has real value, and wishes to get some remuneration for the work, let them. Provided that they abide with the GPL and/or LGPL, then Linux should be a platform that they can use.

I am getting a little jaded with the Open Source model. We are now getting to the point where very useful parts of the Open Source landscape are becoming abandonware, with the original maintainer moving on to other things, and no-one else picking up the baton. Other projects go the other way, and get managed by large groups, who then argue about direction causing fragmentation. Gnome and KDE and even the XFree86/Xorg groups have been guilty of this in the past.

What it means is that there is no continuity, with new releases of distributions changing the tools used by default. For example, for ripping CDs, I've been through so many different ripping tools, all of which work in different ways, store the tracks in different directories, tag the files differently, use different profiles for the back-end decoders, and generally leave their detritus all over the . files in my home directory (I keep my home directory when I upgrade distributions). I would have been absolutely happy sticking with Grip, which was small, efficient, and suited me perfectly. I could have asked to become the maintainer, but I have too little time to do what I need to, let alone taking on a software project.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Does no one realize...

Unity is a personal thing. I've noticed that younger people often are happy with running one application at a time, full screen. These people can cope with Unity quite well.

Everybody else, especially those used to *lots* of windows, Unity is a distraction, and not only is the change unwelcome, but the way of working is foreign.

I know that you can set up multiple windows, and 'pane' them, but the way of controlling the positioning is not as easy as in Gnome.

On my eeePC 701, I found Unity unusable, mainly because it did not like the small screen, but also because of the lack of graphics power leading to severe lag in updating Dash.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: What if...

Yes, but only if they also had an option to not install Unity in the first place as well!

I actually have no problem in paying a reasonable amount for useful software, but the definition of reasonable is flexible. I would not mind paying, say, a tenner per download of Ubuntu, especially if it allowed Cannonical to include licenses for patent encumbered components (think H.264, which is free for personal use, but needs a volume license for Cannonical to install as part of the OS install - it's a volume thing).

In the past, I did pay for an official Redhat 9.1 (no, not Fedora or RHEL) box set, because I wanted to support Redhat in their continuing efforts (and downloading 6 CDs over a V90 modem was going to take a while, not to mention finding the disk space to store it and the effort of burning the disks).

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Why is solid-state storage so flimsy?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: HD failure

... and to put it into context, where I am working, we lose at least 2-3 drives a month.

But I suppose that is because the systems I look after have more than 8000 drives in them, all either RAIDed or mirrored, and half of those will be spun down for the last time in the next month or so.

Mind you, you begin to get a bit worried about data integrity when you lose a second disk in an 8+2 RAID5 set within a few days (the organisation has a policy of no disk replacements done at the weekend, and have had two disks failing in a the same set over one weekend on more than one occasion).

On the other hand, the first system for which I was a sysadmin had 32MB CDC SMD removable pack disk drives which were the size of a desk pedestal, and the first machine I had a login for had a couple of 2.5MB RK05 removable disk cartridge drives, and that served a community of about 30 people!

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Boffins baffled: HUGE EYEBALL washes up on Florida beach

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Obvious really...

Of course, the graphic novel, not the film!

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Sites can slurp browser history right out of Firefox 16

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Circle of Life as we know it, captain

I know that this is off topic, but the AC@13:13 made me think.

What we need now IMHO is a lightweight fast browser, without all of the historical cruft.

... wait a minute...

Wasn't that the primary reason Firefox was introduced back then as a response to Netscape Communicator?

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Sony suspends slate sales

Peter Gathercole
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@Bodhi

If they had said it is water resistant when it wasn't, and had done nothing, they would have been subject to a Trading Standards enquiry about false claims in the UK. That would have been damaging to the brand.

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Happy 20th Birthday, IBM/Lenovo ThinkPad

Peter Gathercole
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Been through many, a lot still work.

I started buying second hand Thinkpads about 14 years ago, starting with a 365XD, which had a 100MHz Pentium 1 and a 1.2GB disk. Since then, I've bought 360, T20, T23, A30, T30 (and T42/43s for friends and family) systems, and have used as work laptops T60 and T400 (my current work laptop).

I recently dumped 2 365s and a 360D, as I could not think of any good uses for them. Apart from a broken screen (someone jumped on one - the 365's had plastic covers), I think that they all still worked. All of the T series machines still do, and the A30 is running the firewall for the house. All of the T20 and later systems still work (although there have been some remedial fixes for T30s, it's true).

I think that the T20 to T23 systems were the nicest to use (although far too slow nowadays to be used for anything other than basic Web, and even then you have to block Flash). They were robust, compact, had optical drives (the X series Thinkpads generally don't), the keyboard was not recessed like newer ones, and just feel good to use. My T30, which is still MY (personal rather than my work) primary laptop was a real downward step, being larger, heavier, and it turns out, having a design flaw with the memory sockets. The T40 and later series use low-profile optical drives that can be difficult to source, and recessed keyboards that don't feel quite right. And the very latest T530s have 'Island' keyboards in a new layout which is just wrong. And of course, all have my pet hate, a 16x9 or 16x10 'wide' aspect ratio screen.

I have to do something about my T30 before it completely dies, but now that I discover that the Pentium M processor used in the T4X series do not support PAE, and current Ubuntu releases don't run without messing around. It looks like I will have to go for a T60, and live with the fact that I won't be able to swap my IDE drive into the new machine.

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Top admen beg Microsoft to switch off 'Do Not Track' in IE 10

Peter Gathercole
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Re: Hey ANA -- define THIS!

What they are attempting to say in a clumsy way is that some ad-funded websites may disappear if they lose the higher payment for targeted click through advert referrals that such tracking may enable. This may reduce choice, or may cause some sites to become subscriber only.

I'm pretty much oblivious to adverts now, and don't even block them. As a result, whether I am tracked for adverts or not is not a big thing (although for other purposes clearly is). The only thing that really makes me cross is the adverts that suck the life out of your machine with flash and javascript animations so that browsing on older or even newer low-power systems (like tablets and phones) becomes impossible. I refuse to upgrade my systems merely so that I can be advertised to. So, I run Flashblock and Noscript, but keep the adverts in.

Even without those controls, for most purposes my 8 year old Thinkpad running Linux on a 2GHz Mobile Pentium 4is fine, until I hit a site that has such adverts.

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Nominet mulls killing off the .co from .co.uk

Peter Gathercole
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Re: They decided on .co.uk etc. because...

Unfortunately, there was nobody policing the names, so anybody whether they were a company or not, was allowed to register a .co.uk address. I had a long email exchange with Nominet about what I regarded as a cyber-squatter who had registered a name that matched a company I owned (beating me to it by a matter of hours which was suspicious as I had used a 'free' service to check it was available before I tried to registered it myself), and who didn't use it, or even have a real name-server serving it for several years.

Even though mine was a limited company, which was set up specifically to be clever and have synergy with a domain name, and the person who had registered the name I wanted did *not* represent a company and was not using it, Nominet would not allow me to start an appeal.

It is partly my fault for being slow in registering the name myself, but it was amazing that as soon as I made an attempt to check it was available (and it was), it suddenly became unavailable. Oh well. All ancient history now, as is my company (I got fed up with the bureaucracy of running a company in the UK).

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Now LG Display smacks Samsung with patent lawsuit over OLED

Peter Gathercole
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Hmm. Clarification wanted.

LG is talking about patents.

Samsung is talking about trade secrets.

I wonder what happens if you obtain a trade secret from somebody, and then file a patent on it. Because the original was a trade secret, the originator could not claim prior art because there is a real possibility that someone else could have developed the technology in isolation. They would have to prove some form of industrial espionage and get the patent re-assigned, but I'm not even sure whether industrial espionage is a chargeable offence.

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Linux-based Tizen mobile platform lives!

Peter Gathercole
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@RaumKraut re: Need Apps

It is unlikely that a phone will implement full X11, more likely it will use Qt to provide hardware abstraction from the graphics hardware.

If it does use Qt, it will mean that there will definitely be some software immediatly, but not as much as is available across all Linux.

It looks to me like they are probably using the Android system specifications as the target for this. If that is the case, there is a very good chance that it would work on many different handsets and possibly even tablets with fairly minimal changes. I like my Android tablet, but putting a real Linux on it would be much better.

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Brit turns Comp Sci coursework into $100k glad-rags search biz

Peter Gathercole
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If it was an MSc at a UK University...

...then you should be able to look at the project write up at the research library of the University. Many will also sell copies if you ask them.

I would suggest that if it is a trade secret, there must be more in the product than was in the final year project, or else anybody would be able to see it. A trade secret that becomes known via a legitimate means then has no further protection in law.

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Most biofuels fail green test: study

Peter Gathercole
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@Charles 9

From your post, I don't know which side of this argument you are actually on, but the things that you have ignored in the proposed Luddite way of the world is that you would have to actually have a much smaller population, people would have to leave the cities and return to the land (including working it), and that there is insufficient energy in many environments to even boil the water for ale or safe drinking and would generate pollution. Open fires are significantly more polluting per joule of usable energy than anything we do for power at the moment.

On food, preserving with salt assumes you have a local source of salt, something that was not the case in most of Europe before transport. Jerking and smoking assumes that you have heat sources (I know that you can use waste heat from your inefficient open fires), or good sunlight. And people actually knew more about the effects of food poisoning from first hand experience in those days. Whether this was a good or bad thing, the bulk of the population were poorly nourished much of the time. Life expectancy was worse with no good medical services and medicines.

I'm sure it would be possible to design a way of working that was sustainable and local, but I would expect that it would degenerate to the way people actually lived in the middle-ages without some form of non-local engineering and manufacturing capability.

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Fans revolt over Amazon 'adware' in Ubuntu desktop search results

Peter Gathercole
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Angel

'Couple of decades'

I think you will find (pun intended) that it's over 40 years!

It appears in the UNIX Edition 1 man pages, a scan of which are still available on Dennis' home page at Alcatel Lucent http://cm.bell-labs.com/cm/cs/who/dmr/1stEdman.html. These man pages are dated 11/3/71 (probably American), so November 1971. I first used it on UNIX Version/Edition 6 in 1978.

It's so old that, like dd, it does not completely adhere to the UNIX command arguments convention of having flags before arguments.

I do hope that Alcatel Lucent decide to keep Dennis' home page up as a homage to one of the Great People of IT.

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Peter Gathercole
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CDE. Really?

Unless you are tied in some way to CDE by the environment you work in, I can see no reason to put it on to a Linux machine.

I never liked it, although it has some interesting capabilities for cross-system RPCs built into the window manager itself. Unfortunately, it felt like a bloated version of Motif, designed by committee, and foundered because it was licensed software rather than freely available. I notice that CDE is now published under LGPL, but apparently, still requires Motif or a work-a-like in order to be used.

To tell you the truth, I must look into downloading the virtual desktop version of TWM called vtwm, which was about as lightweight as you could get! That was my preferred window manager on UNIX for many years.

When I first used Linux, I stared using FVWM, but it was not the same. I notice that there appears to be a project to keep it alive now, so that's my project for tonight! If I can get it working, that could well be what I will use to make Ubuntu 12.04 usable.

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Apple iPhone 5 review

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

@ac 19:04

You don't think that the fact that they were older technology, having been around for quite some time before the original iPhone or most touch screen feature phones might have something to do with why they were 'clunky'? I would have loved to have seen a Palm TX with a phone grafted on. That would have been a device that could have stood up to the original iPhone. The Treos were great, but they wasted too much space on the keyboard.

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Peter Gathercole
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Unhappy

Re: First sentence wound me up immediatly

@BorkedAgain

I've got some which do work to an extent. I'm using one now on an android tablet. Let me enter something with Graffiti without correcting it.

Ths quick beown fx jumpes over the lazy dog.,

'he quick brown .iox imizs over the lazy dog.

Tite quick .browU fox juaes ovclr the laz= dog.

Now with a finger.

The quick brown fox jumpes over the lazy dog.

Hmmm. Capacitive stylus not so good. And that is one of the better ones I have.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: First sentence wound me up immediatly

You have your opinion, but I have to disagree. Styli were there because at the time, not only were people used to using pens and pencils, but also the necessary technology for capacitive screens could not be overlayed on a screen at a price point and energy budget that made it suitable for hand-held devices. There was also the problem that of technological and cost necessity, the screens were much smaller (my Treo had a 360x360 screen that was about 2" in diagonal), so on-screen buttons were small and you would not have been able to use a finger for anything other than the broadest of selections.

I don't actually believe that there is a significant difference in UI design. I could scroll my Treo with a swipe of a suitable input device, but often it was just more convenient to use a scroll bar (it was the lack of processing and graphics power that made single large scrolls better than many small incremental scrolls rather than the input method). And what is it that makes a finger a better pointing device than a stylus, apart from convenience? It's certainly not more accurate! And I find that carrying around a polishing cloth all the time because of the grease marks a pain (I don't have olephobic coatings on my devices).

I have not actually used a Galaxy Note 10.1, but I have used Wacom graphics tablets (apparently the same technology). There is no comparison between using a finger (which a Note can also do), and using a device that allows you to rest your hand on the screen, have total confidence that what the stylus is pointing to is accurate, and allows multiple levels of pressure to emphasize what you want to do. I suspect that you've never come across a situation where a pressure sensitive input device is a real benefit.

On a Note, I would not use the stylus to play Angry Birds or select the next music track I wanted to listen to. But I may use it when browsing the Internet (too often do I select the wrong link with my index finger on my current tablet), and definitely would wherever I wanted to make notes, free-hand drawings or anything else that requires a high degree of accuracy.

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Peter Gathercole
Silver badge
WTF?

First sentence wound me up immediatly

WTF does using a finger or stylus have to do with a smartphone being a smartphone?

I assure you that in their time, Palm, Handspring, iPaq and many others were smart, and used stylii. They were smart because of what they could do, not how they did it. They still worked using rectangular icons arranged in a grid, with multiple pages and apps that used gestures rather than key presses. They could install software. They could do media, games, productivity applications, and they could interact with the outside world.

My Treo functioned perfectly well with a stylus (conveniently tucked into a slot, always available), a pen top, or even a finger nail (I play classical guitar so I have an advantage here), but if the on-screen buttons were designed properly to make them large enough, would also work with a blunt finger. I used Graffiti all the time in place of a on-screen keyboard or even the keyboard buttons, so I never had to peck at a keyboard with a stylus or fingers.

I am currently trying to find a decent stylus for my capacitive-screened phone and tablet, because it is just so much more natural for someone who still writes with implements to use a stylus. I'm sure that there will come a time in the not too distant future when we will find people who have grown up without having to learn to write with a pen or pencil, who find that using a finger is more natural, but to date, everyone who has been through school will have learned to write in the traditional manner.

I look at the Galaxy Note 10.1 (not a phone, I know) with envious eyes, merely because of it's stylus. Looks like the best of all worlds, but is too expensive for me.

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Google's Nexus 7 tabs 'can't perform' if flash RAM crammed

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: You get what you pay for

Not always true. I have what looks like a Alibaba special branded by a small European start-up that is surprisingly good, and it's available for the same ball-park cost as the Nexus 7.

It's got a 1.2 GHz Cortex A8 processor, 9.7" 4x3 IPS screen and an 8000mA/h battery that gives ~8 hours of continuous use. It runs ICS 4.04, and can use Google Play. Before the Nexus 7 was available, I would say that it was highly recommended. Even now with Google selling the Nexus 7 at little or no profit, I would say that it or one of it's follow-up tablets is worth a punt if you want something with a 4x3 aspect ratio larger screen.

And I can almost guarantee you that you have never heard of the company's name.

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HTC's 4G patent beef could get iPhone 5 BANNED in US

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: PMSL :)

Since when is a UNIX derived system (OSX has UNIX branding by virtue of passing the test suite) a "Linux Clone"! Surely it's the other way round.

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Ten digital radios to suit all budgets

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

@AlbertH

I do deliberately turn off the muting. As I listen to non-music stations while driving (mainly Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra) I prefer to have some chance of hearing what is being said through the burbles rather than having it chop the audio right at the point of the punchline of a joke or a critical response to a well asked question.

I agree with the OP when he says that FM degrades more gracefully. In a poor reception area, I can make more sense of a poor FM signal than I can of a DAB one.

I would prefer to hear it all of course, and I find that DAB reception here in the heart of the Westcountry is diabolically bad, even close to the largest towns and cities in the region. Within 5 miles of Exeter, I can find completely dead spots where you cannot get DAB reception at all. That's not in the sticks, that should be like any suburban location.

On the subject of living out in the sticks, you can take a running jump. You are just jealous of the fresh air we breathe, the green spaces we have available on our doorsteps, and the spectacular sights that you have forgotten. Unlike the Internet where distance is a problem, radio is a medium that could and should be country wide.

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Hackers claim to have Mitt Romney's tax records

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: "PWC has said that as far as it is aware nothing is missing "

I'd spotted that, but I put it down to a bit of spin. It may be a completely true statement, but it is completely meaningless. It's probably designed to make it look to shallow thinkers as if PWC know what is going on, when in fact what it shows to anybody with half-a-brain that they clearly don't.

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Raspberry Pi production back in Blighty

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Get over it

My Rover 400 (bubble) did not rust significantly in it's 15 years of use (I pranged it on ice), and my Dad's 75 still looked pristine after 8 years when he sold it. It's the BL years that were the worst, and I am quite surprised to see anything on the roads from that era nowadays.

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Windows 7 passes XP, Mac OS X passes Vista

Peter Gathercole
Silver badge

Re: Net Applications? @Dave 15

What are you comparing to what?

PowerShell might have some advantages, but I can't imaging that you really mean that Command or CMD is better than bash or ksh (or even csh if you are really talking about batch files).

For goodness sake, even the OS/2 shell was better than the standard Windows command processors.

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: Mac OS9 --> OSX @MacroRodent

Microsoft bought (or at least licensed) Insignia Solutions' SoftPC to allow non-native code execution. The original plan was for NT on platforms other than 386/486 systems to use this technology to run binaries on other platforms. The facility was called Windows-on-Windows.

This capability disappeared without a trace when MS pulled support from these other platforms.

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So, just what is the ultimate bacon sarnie?

Peter Gathercole
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Re: The best ..

You have a female carpenter? And one who works in a maid costume?

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Peter Gathercole
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Re: you bastards

The true travesty is the Bacon McMuffin.

After a heavy team night out (they used to happen about twice a month), a colleague of mine used to bring in a big bag of them to work next morning and hand them out. I'll swear that most of the people must still have been drunk in order to eat them! Made worse by the Berocca that they also thought made them feel better.

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