262 posts • joined 25 Nov 2006
User Agent Switcher in Firefox easier than installing a VM :-)
I installed the User Agent Switcher extension in Firefox and set it to "Internet Explorer 6 (Windows XP)" and managed to get the "You ARE running Windows XP" on a CentOS 6 desktop running Firefox :-)
Of course, being a Microsoft site, there was no way in hell they were going to tell you that there were any other routes away from XP other than installing, er, Windows 8.1?!
CDs usually better value for money
I've found that CDs are often cheaper than equivalent MP3 downloads, but it should be noted that some online stores (iTunes, I'm looking at you) including "exclusive bonus tracks", which effectively make the CD less desirable.
What MP3 downloads did kill was the CD single - this used to be a great medium: 4 different tracks for 99p/1.99 pounds or 8 remixes for a similar price. Of course, this was far too much like value for money and the music industry destroyed CD singles by halving the max tracks allowed and often doubling the price.
The CD vs. MP3 situation isn't that much different from the e-books vs. hardbacks - you can often find the hardback the same or cheaper price than an e-book, which is scandalous overpricing for the electronic version (whilst usually including onerous DRM to cheese you off even futher).
I multi-boot *and* use VMs :-)
I've tended to always multi-boot (mainly between Linux and WIndows) and then use VMs (in Linux using VirtualBox) to try out new OS releases. My primary desktop is CentOS 6.5 and I boot into WIndows purely to play games, which is currently the only advantage Windows has compared to Linux really (though SteamOS/Steam boxes might make inroads into this).
Some obvious hardware tips: max out your motherboard RAM (usually 32GB is the limit), get a fast CPU (i7 or equiv) with at least 4 cores, get one or more large/fast SSDs (as well as fast 3TB or 4TB hard drives - I like Seagate's 3TB model myself) and one or more large monitors (I just went to 27" 2560x1440 for my main monitor).
Although you have to register for it, I can recommend the free Paragon Extfs for Windows at:
It's just about the only free software on Windows I've found that will handle ext2, ext3 and ext4 - very handy if you use any of those fs'es on Linux.
The next "exciting" OS release for me will be CentOS 7, although I've some trepidation about this because I don't really consider systemd, GRUB 2 or GNOME 3 as improvements compared to their predecessors.
98.2% of Android devices run old OS versions
The latest Android release is KitKat (4.4.X) and only 1.8% of devices run that, leaving 98.2% running "old OS versions". Hence a major WTF for the article title including the phrase "Not anymore".
Countering that, Google have managed to push updates to older OS'es without a version change, either by splitting previously core code into a Play store app (e.g. Google Keyboard) or by silently updating Google Play Services.
It's probably the only ways to work around the huge disincentive barriers there are for carriers to upgrade Android on their models (1. It costs them time and money to put their unwanted bloatware on top and have it go through certification and 2. They want to sell you new Android device every year, so if they upgrade old ones, people may keep the old device for another year or two, the horror of it).
My attitude to all of this is simple - only buy Nexus devices or devices that you can install a custom ROM (e.g. CyanogenMod) on - that way, you'll be quickly onto the latest release without having to wait many months or not see an upgrade at all (I'm looking at you Huawei, with your Ascend P1).
Freeview (HD) was last chance to intro subs
I was always surprised that smart card-capable hardware wasn't a pre-requisite for Freeview SD (and later on Freeview HD) set-top boxes. It was the last time that the concept of a subscription BBC could have been put in place.
Assuming that the BBC is still going to be delivered via terrestrial aerials, then surely every TV and set-top box in the country is going to have to be replaced with a smart card version? This probably means around 10-odd years before subscriptions could be introduced.
As far as I'm concerned, the current BBC output is mostly dire, having copycatted much of ITV's dross output in recent years. What I'd be *far* more interested in is a sub to the massive BBC archive that their employees have access to - now that is something worth subscribing to since much of it isn't available elsewhere (legally or not).
Lack of the Google Play Store makes it basically useless
I really cannot understand anyone releasing an Android games console that doesn't use the Google Play Store (and preferably a compatible controller too). Such a console has to not only create its own game store and try to woo the big names to appear on it, but it also misses out two obvious Google Play Store plusses:
1. If you bought a game on the Google Play Store for another device, you'd be able to play it without another purchase on a Play Store-compatible games console.
2. You can use Google Play Store gift cards to credit your account and avoid having to tie a credit/debit card to your account. This is a major advantage that is overlooked by a lot of reviewers of the Ouya.
This is exactly why, no matter how cheap the Ouya gets, I won't buy it. *Any* Android device without the Play Store is massively unattractive in my books.
RHEL (final release) isn't free
The current RHEL 7 beta is indeed a free ISO you can download and install but, like the final release (which requires a sub from day one), you can't do installs/updates to it without a subscription. I can't say I'm keen on the fact that RHEL subscriptions can't be split into updates vs. support (Oracle did the same "all or nothing" trick with its DB software many years ago), because firms with in-house tech support don't really need RHEL support (posting to the RHEL Bugzilla is free, even without a sub).
As for this "collaboration", it seems a bit like providing a scheme like Fedora Spins for CentOS with a bit of assistance from some RHEL folks. It could be interesting, particularly if it makes the horrible installation experience with OpenStack a lot better.
BTW, am I the only one who still can't work out why there are free clones of free clones like Scientific Linux out there? I keep thinking that the free clones should all merge into one free clone to rule them all, but maybe that's just too sensible and obvious.
Odd Commodore choice
Considering it's placed inbetween two programmable calculators in El Reg's list, picking the non-programmable 1976 F4146R instead of the far superior programmable 1977 PR-100 is a mystery to me. I had a PR-100 and it was a great calculator for its time (even the manual had some nifty programs you could type in, including one for showing which date Easter Day fell on, which until then I had no idea was based on an algorithm!).
The PR-100 may even be the last programmable calculator that Commodore made, if this page is to believed:
Less phone models and less customisation is the answer
A few years back, HTC were horrendously guilty of releasing new phone models every few weeks - they'd be slight variations on existing models and probably caused extreme customer confusion about which model to buy. It lead to an HTC culture of not providing many (if any) updates for a lot of their Android models, on the assumption that everyone would be getting a new HTC model once a year and nothing needed updating beyond that.
Eventually, HTC saw some sense and reduced the number of new models (I'd still argue there's too many!), but the "everyone updates annually" mentality is still there. It does surprise me that Google don't lay down some rules about this for everyone in the OHA:
* Minimum hardware specs. Nothing causes defections away from Android quicker than a lousy experience due to poor hardware. This issue is thankfully gradually fixing itself (e.g. Moto G for 100 quid at Tesco) - it would have been handier in the early Android years.
* Maximum elapsed period after Nexus devices get Android update for non-Nexus devices to update. If the manufacturer fails to provide a timely update, have a rolling points system where they can be thrown out of OHA if they exceed a certain total.
* Minimum update support period - Google has 2 years for Nexus devices, so why not other manufacturers? Again. failure to update for that minimum time would incur more penalty "licence points".
* Some sort of rules about the "bloatware" that manufacturers and carriers needlessly add. For example, nothing should be added that causes update testing to be extended beyond, say, a total of one month (again, with penalty points if this is exceeded). If this means dropping some of the bloat, than that's a good thing.
It's actually 40 pounds
It seems like pretty well no IT sites actually bothered to "pretend" to order one of these. The only place you can buy them is the Datawind site - add one to the basket, go to the checkout and there's a 10 quid postage fee. So the tablet is actually 40 pounds, not 30 - I've yet to see a single site mention this.
As for the tablet specs, they're so low that I suspect this will be a very nasty tablet experience (and the 3 hour battery life barely makes it portable!). It reminds me of those early Chinese import tablets that were priced half of anything else but were, again, not a nice experience (latest Chinese tablets now have good specs to match the good price though).
If you really want to buy this, get it as a second tablet as a reserve for your first (better) tablet or maybe as a "who cares if it's lost/broken/stolen" tablet for your kids. If it's your first experience of an Android tablet, it might sour you on Android though. No idea if CyanogenMod is or will be available for this tablet, but you suspect even CM couldn't rescue this woefully underpowered device.
Isn't CM11 the main nightly platform now?
It seems a bit strange to put this in CM 10.2 nightlies first, when CM 11 nightlies are out for many devices now. In fact, the link to the CyanogenMod download page in the article lists a *ton* of CM 11 nightly downloads and far fewer CM 10.2 nightlies!
Mind you, it would be nice if the CM team put back a lot of the CM 10.2 config options they seem to have dropped in CM 11 first before worrying about SMS encryption. I can't get rid of the pointless Google Search bar from my home screen in CM11, the home screen itself is barely customisible now, plus the separate percentage+icon battery indicator has gone from the status bar (replaced by a horrible tiny percentage encircled, which doesn't show any figure at all when it's at 100%!).
Not in the UK then....
I'm surprised this article didn't state that both HBO Go and the Chromecast itself actually aren't available in the UK. OK, you can pay 38.72 quid on Amazon UK (so much for the "25 quid" that IT sites foolishly branded around earlier this year) for what I suspect is a US import of the Chromecast anyway.
So, c'mon Google, when are we officially getting the Chromecast in the UK? Christmas is coming and you really need to launch it right now. It seems strange that virtually no UK IT sites - El Reg included - have bothered to hassle Google about the non-appearance of the Chromecast in the UK, especially since the actual Chromecast app has been in the UK Google Play store for months now!
grip on Linux does a nice job
I used grip on Linux myself to rip hundreds of my CDs - the config options are nice on it (e.g. I like my file naming layout (no spaces for easy wildcarding/copying!) to be Artist_Name/Album_Title/01-First_Track_Title.mp3 - I suspect not many ripping progs will be that flexible).
Worst thing is that the online track DB it uses often has wrong spellings, so I have to correct those. But when the track names are right, it's literally feed in, wait a few mins, auto-eject, feed in next one etc.
There's always Amazon with its Autorip - I got 39 CDs downloaded (had to use a Windows client to do them in bulk, WTF!) without having to put a CD anywhere near the PC.
I was hoping that Google Play Music would be a nice place to upload the ripped MP3s (20,000 tracks for free), but it was painful to get a CentOS Google Play Manager client working (had to use an old version) and it really screwed up pretty well all my Greatest Hits CDs by merging multiple GH CDs into one tree (arrgh!) - and yes, all my MP3s are properly tagged and in separate artist/album dirs. It couldn't even separate the excellent "Bedtime Stories" (David Baerwald) album from the not-so-good Madonna equivalent - both ended up in the same online directory :-(
UPS and radio control for the rest :-)
Two possible solutions here - one is to use a UPS (mine has four battery-backed sockets and cost under 70 quid) where possible and try and get radio-controlled devices for the rest (unlikely for an oven/microwave/central heating timer, even though they *should* really be readily available).
Wall clocks are certainly available radio controlled - my analogue one actually moves the hands many rotations to get the time right and it's amusing to watch and also listen to the chuck-chuck-chuck noise as it desperately tries to get the time right :-)
BTW, if your microwave doesn't do timer-based cooking (and very few do, yet it's an obvious feature to have), then a clock on the front is a total waste of electricity (it should go into standby and turn off the display after 2 mins of non-use in that case).
Things I have to change the time on because of daylight savings time twice a year: my central heating timer and my ancient Pansaonic alarm clock (hooked to a UPS). I ignore the clock on an old Toshiba microwave I have since it's pointless. Oh and yes, all my watches are radio-controlled too.
Real Racing 3 - great except for the awful grind (unless you're rich)
I really like Real Racing 3 and the fact they keep adding new content (the odd new circuit and cars - some new Shelby motors just turned up recently).
What I really, really hate is the awful grind they put you through unless you make seriously big in-app purchases. Repairs, new cars, upgrades and time to complete the aforementioned are all charged through the nose and the helmet coins are in particularly short supply. At the rate I progressed, I reckoned it would be *years* before I could actually buy and race all the cars available without spending any money.
In the end, sick of the horrendous grind that was completely destroying my enjoyment of the game, I resorted to, ahem, a method of gaining a large number of R$/coins that I was surprised the programmers hadn't protected against. Once I could buy and upgrade everything, the game became a lot more fun.
I'd have happily paid a few quid for this game to avoid the in-app purchases (i.e. have the cars/repairs etc. cost less R$ and "free instant delivery" instead of paying to deliver now), but the fact you'll have to spend a few hundred quid of real money to complete this made my "workaround" more guilt-free than it really should have been.
What about UK users?
As often happens, here's another El Reg story that's US-only without making that clear or stating the situation for UK users. It seems at the moment, there's no UK price, no UK pre-ordering and no UK release date.
Even tne dubious delay between the US and UK Nexus 7 2013 (has *any* UK site pressed Google on this to explain the reasons for this?) has been resolved and we now have UK pre-ordering, prices and release date. The Chromecast was released at the same time in the US, so why silence for this product?
Price is now $350
Price has jumped to $350 and the product isn't actually available to buy yet (so there's a chance the price will jump again). The specs claim 1080p graphics and then have a display res of 1366x768, hmm. Still an Ubuntu laptop that's "submersible" (!) with solar panels for $350 does sound interesting, though it'll be 350 quid if it ever gets sold to UK users of course.
Linux market share unknown....
Yet again, another article on the Net that quotes revenue as the market share decider (Linux vs. Windows server). We don't know Linux's market share in servers in actual physical numbers because many server purchases intended to run Linux are made with no OS (besides, have you *seen* Dell's prices for their various RHEL combos - cost several times more than the equivalent Windows server licences!).
A lot of smaller shops that don't need support will buy a no-OS server and put a free OS on it (e.g. CentOS, openSUSE, Ubuntu Server, Debian etc. - there's plenty to choose from). I wouldn't be surprised if there's more no-OS-shipped servers running Linux than there are ones shipped with Linux, but no-one knows exactly.
Even Netcraft's Web survey - which shows Apache miles ahead of IIS, suggesting that Linux is well ahead of Windows - only covers Web servers and the majority of those will be more than a year old, so it's a rolling trend at best.
Conclusion: quoting market share based on revenue is somewhat misleading, because it's likely (though unprovable) that more than half Linux servers were shipped with no OS and therefore aren't reported as Linux in the revenue market share figures.
Would love to see some battery progress
I've always been surprised at how slow battery tech is progressing compared to the seemingly much faster rate shown by the rest of the electronics industry. To the average punter, Li-Ion and Ni-Mh based batteries have been around for many years now and there's nothing come to the mass market yet to supersede them.
We haven't seen either a large increase in their capacity (for the same size), significantly longer life per charge, quicker charging or reduced prices. This might not too bad if we don't keep hearing about the "next big thing" in battery tech every few months, only for us to wait and wait with nothing ever coming to market even years after announcements.
I suspect most people reading battery tech news must be as jaded on the subject as I am. Better batteries are becoming increasingly important as the desktop PC market dwindles due to users switching to portable devices, so I'm hoping that we do some significant improvements in the next few years.
Boots quickly in VirtualBox...
Just tried it in VirtualBox with the vdi image on an SSD (and two virtual cores on my i7 plus 8GB RAM in the VM) and really does boot extremely quickly (3 seconds from Grub to graphical login).
Anaconda is still pointlessly shouty (lots of headings entirely in capitals for no good reason) and the custom disk partitioning is painful - no obvious option to use all remaining space on device for a partition. I ended up putting in a big size value and let it truncate it down, but that's not great. They're still annoyingly mixing size units (K, MB and GB all on the same screen) too :-(
Still no package size or description is displayed when the packages are being installed and the placement of the ever-changing banner during the package installs (at the bottom of the screen, leaving a lot of space above it) made it look like a rotating banner ad, which most people automatically tune out now. The banner should have been slap bang in the middle of the install screen (i.e. above the progress bar).
Am I the only one who actively dislikes those white/blue coloured multiple progress bars at the bottom of an otherwise black screen when Fedora boots (yes, the ones that tell you zero about what's going on)? You can press ESCAPE to get a textual boot, but if you're doing a (barely) "graphical" boot, I'm sure it couldn't take too much effort to produce a better booting screen.
When I first logged in, I got about a dozen file explorer windows open (this is a known bug that will be fixed, but it just looks sloppy, even for a beta). I also got an immediate SELinux balloon warning which is bad for a vanilla install, so I did the classic disabling of SELinux (though is there any GUI to do this?).
I do like the MATE Desktop in general though (it's good with Linux Mint 15 too) - refugees from Fedora 14/CentOS 6's GNOME 2 desktop will feel at home with MATE. I hope CentOS 7 comes with MATE, because without it, the GNOME 3 desktop experience is painful.
Hmmm...closing a bug they didn't fix...and shouldn't have closed either...
It seems to me that the main "fix" for the bug was the emergence of Android, which has nothing at all to do with Ubuntu, so I don't think we can heap any plaudits on Canonical at all for fixing this bug. The very first sentence mentions "the new desktop PC marketplace", which I would argue actually excludes most Android devices anyway (unless you want to get into hybrid tablet arguments I suppose) and hence Shuttleworth's on very thin ground indeed closing this bug.
It could even be argued that from the non-mobile point of view, we're in almost a bad a state as we were a decade or so ago. How many stores have you gone into (or even major online stores) with non-mobile machines running any Linux distro at all? I'd say it'd still be pretty close to zero after all these years. MS's grip on desktop and laptop OEMs is as strong as ever.
It's so bad, that I've switched away from the major OEMs and am buying from whitebox shifters now, who will let me customise both the hardware *and* the OS (in my case, no OS shipped at all). It still irks me that Dell are happy to sell their PowerEdge servers with no OS and yet, as far as I can tell, they've never sold a single laptop or desktop without an OS.
Yes, there's been the odd Dell device with Linux on it, but they don't put them in the main desktop/laptop sections and they refuse to ship them identically spec'ed to Windows equivalents in case we work out what the Windows licence actually costs them. In fact, it often works out cheaper to buy the Windows version (which gets discount offers that the Linux ones never seem to), wipe it and put Linux on it!
Sadly, it doesn't matter how easy it is install Linux (and it's close to trivial now) because the vast majority of people stick with the OS that the device was shipped with and only ever change their OS when they buy a new machine. Until the OEM strangehold is broken and Linux desktops/laptops can be bought right alongside Windows ones (not hidden somewhere else on their Web site), Windows will have a monopoly on desktops/laptops and in my mind, bug #1 should still be open.
Re: Seems a bit late
I tried GoDaddy for secure certs several years ago and one thing I thought was quite surprising is that they auto-renewed secure certs by default (with no renewal e-mail warning either!). And, yes, they insisted credit/debit card info was in the account to force through the renewal...
I thought that was a somewhat dubious practice (it's generally considered wise to change your CSR when doing a renewal, so that's another reason not to like it), so when I got the first auto-renewal (yes, for a secure cert I wasn't going to renew), I ditched them and went to Servertastic instead (seem to be the cheapest UK-based SSL vendor).
If you must use the cheapest US-based SSL issuer, I'd skip GoDaddy and try Namecheap with their PositiveSSL certs (less than 6 pounds!). They even have online chat people to assist you and will do a "file on the server" method of authentication if you don't control the e-mail for the SSL site's domain.
As for 2048-bit SSL certs, I've no idea why the article didn't mention that most CA's have been using 2048-bits for several years now and will refuse a CSR that's only 1024-bit. Hence, Google switching to 2048-bits is barely news - they're one of the last ones to do so I suspect (OK, that's news in itself, but again not alluded to in the article).
Vanilla Android is probably the best mobile OS out there at the moment
As far as i'm concerned, vanilla Android (i.e. a Nexus device or a rooted ROM like CyanogenMod) is the best mobile OS on the market at the moment. You can run it well with all the defaults, it has a ton of customisations (even more on CM) and you don't have to give all your money to Samsung either :-)
I now have 5 Android-running devices and all of them have been rooting/ROMmed (yes, even my Nexus devices) and they provide an excellent user experience. Sadly, only a few percent of the market go the Nexus and/or rooted ROM route - the 90%+ of the rest are suffering from carrier bloatware that I really wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
Even the very nice HTC One has bloaty rubbish on it that you can't uninstall (why not - bloatware is 50% more tolerable if you can uninstall it). Even Windows bloatware can be removed with some effort, so this is utterly appalling behaviour from the carriers/manufacturers.
It's laptops that need the capacity
Desktops don't really need a high capacity SSD because they have at least 2 drive bays - the economics of that are that you buy a small/fast SSD for your boot drive and the largest (still fast) HDD that works out the best bang for buck (probably 3TB Seagates at the moment).
However - and it's surprising the article didn't mention this - almost all laptops only have one drive bay, so if it's your only machine and you don't have a desktop or NAS back at home, then you're going to want to max out the size of the SSD in your laptop.
I'm now quite excited that a) we finally have HDD-sized consumer SSDs and b) they cost under 500 quid. Inevitably, other vendors will release 960GB consumer SSDs, so let the price wars begin! In the meantime, HDDs are actually stalled around the 4TB point and have plateaued their prices too. Now if only OEMs would include SSDs in all their desktops now - it's staggering that this still isn't the case in 2013.
"Something similar to Ubuntu's LTS but for Fedora"? Er, it's called CentOS :-) I use it on my home and work desktops and it's rock solid. Like Debian, don't expect to run the latest and greatest of anything unless you manually install it (e.g. Firefox, Thunderbird, LibreOffice, Oracle Java, Flash etc.).
Big advantages of CentOS are: 10 years of updates, GNOME 2, Grub 1 and System V init scripts - none of which you get with the latest Fedora or Ubuntu. The downer is that the forthcoming CentOS 7 will ditch the latter 3 and I suspect will be inferior to CentOS 6 because of that.
OK, so how is this rolled out?
The Google Play store app isn't listed on Google Play, so presumably the store app does a periodic check for an update (no idea if it notifies you or not if there's an update).
What about custom ROM users (e.g. CyanogenMod) ? I'm guessing they'll have to wait for a new gapps apk to turn up at some point.
To be honest, I've always found every incarnation of the store app to be hard to navigate - if you know the name of the app, then the search is fine. Otherwise, it's a complete pain. It needs Appbrain-style ways of sorting the apps, IMHO.
Fails for Commore and Sinclair machines
Most of these look reasonably well designed, but the Commodore 128 looks like a clackety old IBM PC keyboard with a case attached and the less said about the Sinclair machines the better (neither of them look good and the less said about the quality of the build materials, the better).
A bit surprised the fruitily coloured iMacs didn't make it in here - the all-in-ones with the striking colours is probably the sexiest design Apple have come up with (I'd have dropped the Cube myself).
Having said all that, I've never really cared about how my computers looked - for desktop PCs it's totally irrelevant to me because they spend their time on the floor under a computer desk!
Re: Androids are Instantly Obsolete
I think this argument fails if you do a bit of market research on Android updates before you splurge your cash. It's hopefully common knowledge (not seemingly in your case because you never mention it) that Nexus phones are the ones to buy if you never intend to root/ROM your phone. They get the latest Android release first and are indeed "non-obsolete". I think conveniently forgetting to mention Nexus phones does indeed mark you out as a bit of an iPhone fanbois!
Where Android scores heavily, IMHO, is its choice - you do indeed have the Nexus phones if you never want to hack anything, but then a myriad of alternatives if you do (though I'd steer clear of the Samsung Galaxy S3/S4's in this case). Most popular models of Android phones have custom ROMs and this is where, again, you do a bit of research.
http://wiki.cyanogenmod.org/ is a nice place to start - it has official and unofficial device ports sections so you can see which phone models can run CyanogenMod. Heck, I have Nexus 7 and 10 tablets which can run the very latest official JellyBean 4.2.2, but I still rooted/ROM'ed them to CyanogenMod because it gives me even more config options than the stock Android does.
iPhones are fine if you're not technically savvy, like being locked into Apple's ecosystem and have enough dosh to afford one, but there's a fair number of people who don't feel that way. Note that even C|Net (Apple fans the lot of them) has a new "prizefight" video between iOS 6 and Android Jellybean and, qute shockingly, Android actually (narrowly) wins!
Bit of a non-story this
The smartphone market in particular is like Wacky Races - Apple releases something and there's a very predictable sales bump and then Samsumg release their latest Galaxy phone and that does the same too.
The reason Samsung is slightly tailing off is that people are waiting for the S4 (and similarly a rise in Apple can be attributed to people being too impatient and wanting the shiny NOW and switching to the iPhone 5 - plus all the locked-in folk with Apple who are stuck on an upgrade treadmill that has no hardware competitors to tempt them away whilst being able to stay with iOS).
This has been happening for years, but the difference recently is that it's *Apple* playing catch up to Android (and yes, because of the single-vendor hardware for iOS, it is Apple vs. Android just as much as iOS vs. Android).
Chrome starting to fall behind
So the rendering engine Chrome will be using is changing - but what about their JS engine (V8)? I don't know if anyone's noticed recently, but Mozilla's latest JS efforts shown at http://www.arewefastyet.com/ are starting to get perilously close to the speed of V8 (and in some sub-tests, actually now beating it).
In fact, after a couple of years of having a lead in both speed and memory usage, Chrome is now starting to lose out to Firefox in both respects. Ironically, the most noticeable platform where this is happening is on Google's Android itself, where Firefox is now clearly superior to Chrome.
And I'll throw in a barb about Chrome 26+ dropping support for the world's #1 commercial Linux (RHEL - and by interfence its clones) as another reason to re-consider using Chrome.
Was doing OK until 'nsfw daemon'
A nice try, but spoiled half way through with the "nsfw daemon" - leave that out and the date-based company name was a lot more subtle.
The reason UEFI can be disabled for WIndows 8 and not for RT
I'm surprised no-one's mentioned the real reason Microsoft still allow secure boot to be turned off for Windows 8 Intel machines - it's *not* to allow Linux to be installed, it's to allow Windows 7 to be installed should the end-user "shockingly" decide that 7 is better than 8.
Proof of this? The ARM-based Windows RT has no predecessor to it in the Windows family, so that *does not* allow secure boot to be turned off. One suspects that once the supported Windows Intel family has all its keys available (by Windows 9?), then they will stop allowing secure boot to be turned off in future UEFI setups.
Nexus 10 32GB price jump is insane
We all know that Google like to subsidise the price of base devices and then make their profit on the larger storage sized versions of the devices and the Nexus 7 for example (40 pounds extra for 16GB more?) followed this trend.
The Nexus 10 is even worse - for some magical reason, the price of 16GB of extra storage is now an Apple-sized 70 pounds. Hence, you are not "clever" if you are going to spend that much on extra storage - I got a 16GB Nexus 10 and bought a USB OTG cable for under a quid for external USB storage. Mind you, I also have rooted it and put CM 10.1 on it, so that an app like Stickmount comes into play.
My option is to have a 10" tablet for use in the home and a 7" tablet when you're on the move. If you want a decent Android experience on a 10" tablet, especially if you haven't got a Nexus model, CyanogenMod 10.1 is the only way to go, IMHO of course. This particularly applies to any Nook or Amazon tablet (and yes, the 8.9 Fire HD has just launched in the UK - a day after this article came out!).
I mentioned a Windows installer because they do it for desktop Ubuntu
The reason I mentioned a Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet was several-fold. Firstly, there's probably just as many Windows users curious about Ubuntu Tablet than there are Ubuntu desktop users. Secondly, Ubuntu desktop already has an installer that can be run from Windows, so why on earth isn't there one for installing Ubuntu Tablet from Windows? Thirdly, a relatively idiot-proof Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet would knock out almost all of those multi-step bits you mentioned.
I know it's very early days, but if you want to bring in as many testers as possible, you really do need a Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet, IMHO. Plus the multiboot stuff I mentioned, since *everyone* is going back to Android after trying the current preview release. Without those two, Canonical won't get many "free" testers for their pre-releases, but it appears they've not even thought about either issue yet :-(
Early days...they need to do a few things soon though
It's very early days for this, so I think it's better to wait until they actually have some functionality in their releases. However, here's some early stuff they really should have done already:
1. Provide installation via Linuxes *other* than Ubuntu. Yes, I know they'd love you to install Ubuntu on your desktop, but I run CentOS 6 (the world's #1 commercial Linux desktop no less) and I don't see why I should switch to Ubuntu. On a similar note, provide an official installer for Windows too - a very obvious move missed there!
2. Once installed, this page is useful: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/ReleaseNotes
However, they really do make it harder by saying "the recommended way to get shell access to the device is through SSH" and then promptly *not* including openssh-server in the tablet image!
3. The biggest omission of the whole thing, though, is the lack of a bootloader to provide multiboot, so that you can retain your Android install and boot between it and Ubuntu Tablet. With the release being in chocolate fireguard mode at the moment, there's no way people will want to keep backing up and restoring Android countless times. This issue was solved quite a while ago (e.g. moboot on HP TouchPads to go between webOS and CM9 and there's a dual boot Ubuntu/Android tablet actually on sale - http://www.androidauthority.com/android-4-0-ubuntu-12-04-kite-nibbio-tablet-features-exynos-chip-costs-e309-147513/ ).
Cron job needed and, er, why didn't they renew the cert for longer?
OK, so this happened last year, presumably on the annual renewal date. It begs how incompetent Microsoft is:
1. Most secure cert registrars send out e-mail reminders (mine does with 90, 30 and 7 days to go) - did whoever they registered with not send such e-mails or did Microsoft just ignore them?
2. A simple cron job to check the cert and e-mail (to more than one person!) every day at least 7 days before expiry would have saved their bacon.
3. When they messed up last year, why didn't they renew the cert for more than one year? Surely Microsoft can afford a multi-year cert?!
Multiple levels of incompetence there - that's Microsoft for you.
Multi boot please
I personally think that Tablet Ubuntu needs a mult-boot setup as standard (not some third party hacky instructions that I've seen for the Nexus 7 + desktop Ubuntu). Until then, it'll be a real pain for anyone who wants to keep using Android whilst tinkering with Tablet Ubuntu.
This problem was solved way back on the HP TouichPad - add a recovery image, moboot and Cyanagenmod 9 and you can merrily boot between Android and webOS.
Some of the stuff I find handy...
* When ordering a Dell PowerEdge server, don't forget to buy the Enterprise DRAC and get it wired up. Provides a Web interface for the status of the machine, virtual media (yes, another way to install the OS without needing PXE boot) and, most importantly, a VNC terminal session to the main hardware (right from power up, BIOS, grub and the OS!).
* Install OMSA on PowerEdges, just for their "reboot recovery" option (if the kernel hangs, you can set it to wait so many seconds and then cold reboot the server).
* I like using rdist to keep customised system files synchronised across Linux servers and desktops. Think of it as a "networked make" utility and it's extremely handy once your server count gets into double figures.
* I use rsync to sync the system disk partition to another identical partition once a week via cron. In fact, it's a bit trickier than that (you have to change grub.conf and the copied /etc/fstab) so I've got a script to do it, but basically if I mess up the original system partition, I can boot into the second partition as an immediate rescue. Most useful if you run the sync script just before doing "yum update" (it allows you to roll back the update by rebooting into the pre-update partition).
* nagios for monitoring of course - install nrpe on the clients (yep, we rdist our custom config for nrpe) and then add the clients to the nagios server setup (we wrote a script for this part). With Dells that have OMSA installed, there's nagios modules to check OMSA info (e.g. temperature) and even some disk controller statuses.
* LDAP for authentication - quite tricky to setup, but useful when it's working properly. Don't forget to leave root as a local user in case the LDAP server goes titsup!
* amanda 3.X for tape (or even disk) backups. Amanda 2.X was dumb about autoloaders so we had to write a lot of custom wrapper scripts to check tape barcodes, load from autoloader, put back etc, but 3.X is actually good with autoloaders at long last. Now has (mostly) working Windows Amanda clients so we've even started backing up Windows clients too. Server-side encryption and compression are bonuses too (replace gzip with pigz in the Amanda server config if your tape server has many CPU cores).
* For VMs, we mostly use Proxmox VE in a clustered setup with KVM-based VMs (a mix of Windows and Linux clients). It's probably not as slick as VMware, but it's a *lot* cheaper! To be honest, I tried VMware a few years ago and couldn't believe it prompted you to rebuild kernel modules interactively as part of the boot sequence if you updated your kernel RPM and rebooted your VMware server. What if you didn't have console access at the time?! They've probably fixed this awfulness by now, but I couldn't believe how naff that was at the time.
IE10 scores much higher than IE9 on html5test.com
Maybe feature-wise, the end-user doesn't see much difference between IE9 and IE10, but at least Microsoft have finally broken the 300-point barrier (out of 500!) at html5test.com for the first time with IE10.
IE9 scores a wretched 138 out of 500 which is why many web developers still hate IE - at least IE10 manages a mildly respectable 320. It should be remembered, however, that most recent browsers have already exceeded or are about to exceed *400* points, so even IE10 has a lot of work to do to catch up.
We might see Windows 9 and IE11 catch up to where other browsers are now, but that's probably almost 3 years away! Essentially, IE remains the least HTML 5 compliant browser of all the major browsers and it's probably going to be that way for a very long time. It's still going to be cursed at by the vast majority of Web developers!
Now if you could replace the onboard OS on a Chromebook...
With netbooks pretty well dead, the closest cousin we have left is actually the horrible crippled Chromebook. Now if they did a high-end version of that with an OS that could be completely replaced internally (i.e. not booted off a slow SD card like the current Chromebook Linux hacks do), I'd be in the market for one. No way would I want to run Chrome OS though.
I guess one advantage of a Google bricks and mortar store - assuming they stick to the same prices as their Google Play store - is that you can pick a Nexus device up without paying the hefty 10 quid postage charge. Plus they might actually *have* stock unlike their online store (Nexus 4 only came in stock a few weeks ago after months of no stock and the 32GB Nexus 10 has been out of stock for a long time now).
Not a single mention of Linux anywhere
Sad to see that Linux isn't mentioned (or indeed benchmarked) here, even if it's just to suggest what the equivalent of Intel's SRT is for Linux. If you're building a new machine, I'd expect it to have SATA 3 because SATA 3 SSD prices are continuing to fall.
The only sensible combo, IMHO, is a Sata 3 SSD with 500MB+/sec read/write and a fast multi-terabyte HDD (I use Seagate 3TB's myself at 225Mbytes/sec read). Throw in a fast multi-core CPU and you're not far off 10 seconds boot time, meaning that multi-boot isn't tiresome any more.
I read the earlier (well off-topic) discussion about CMYK and Gimp a few pages ago - has anyone tried Separate+ as a plug-in:
Seems to offer at least basic CMYK capabilities, though for some reason the only binaries available are for Windows!
As for MS Office and its ribbon, am I the only one who couldn't find the basic File functions? It took me an age to realise that the ribbon itself didn't have any! The round Windows logo in the top left - that looks neither like the ribbon nor a menu - is actually clickable (I had no idea - there is no visual clue for this) and contains the File operations in there. Massively unintuitive and I defy anyone to claim it's obvious for a first-time user.
One thing that perplexes me is why people/organisations can't install both (LO and MS Office) and use whichever one works the best for them (which might vary between document types or even individual documents). The only argument I can see is support - having to handle issues from two Office suites rather than one. However, if either can be used to fix issues with documents, wouldn't the combination work correctly more often and result in *less* overall problems?
It's like Web browsers - one browser doesn't work with *all* sites...you usually have to have one or two backup browsers (plus it's nice for multiple sessions to the same site to run 2 or 3 different browsers at once).
I think one problem LO has is that it existed in many old versions (both OO and LO) that were not stellar at handling the common MS file formats. It's only since LibreOffice has picked up the dev pace and improved compatibility in the last 1-2 years that you can now be reasonably confident (not 100% yet sadly) that you can load in an MS Office document and it'll pretty true to the original.
Sadly, there's massive resistance from MS Office "lovers" until LO is 100% compatible with every MS Office document format produced from any version of MS Office since it existed. The likelihood of that being the case is very slim even 5 years from now - of course, such MS Office fans won't even acknowledge that compatibility between MS Office releases themselves falls short of 100% in quite a few cases, so any pleases to install LO alongside MS Office tend to fall on deaf ears :-(
Re: Idiots who pay for RHEL
It should be noted here that you don't need an RHEL subscription to lodge bug reports with RHEL. Just register on bugzilla.redhat.com and post up your bug. I've done it a few times myself, even though I run CentOS. Obviously, if it's not an RHEL issue but a CentOS one, you should post up to bugs.centos.org instead. And, yes, you can use the same Red Hat Bugzilla system to report bugs in Fedora too.
Well, that's Anaconda worse then
Just put F18 in a VirtualBox VM to try it out and it's still seems a bit half-baked to me.
Anaconda is *terrible* now. I mean seriously bad. It was buggy in F18 Alpha and those issues seemed to have been ironed out, but none of the usability problems have:
* EVERYTHING IS IN CAPITALS FOR NO GOOD REASON. As the El Reg screenshot shows, they title everything in shouty capitals rather than bolding it or something not so horrible.
* The review mentions MATE and Cinnamon, yet neither of these are offered as desktop options in Anaconda at all. Considering MATE is officially supported and installable via yum, this is quite a poor move.
* Talking of customising the package installs, any chance to refine it above some broad categories doesn't exist (probably hasn't for several Fedora releases anyway).
* The disk partitioning section is now actually far worse than the old (and not very good) Disk Druid-type section we've seen in earlier Fedoras. I always do custom partitioning and can't say I like the default of LVM, but at least I worked out how to change that to a standard partition. Units are mixed with abandon (XX.YY GB and XXX.YY Kbytes right next to each other!), it took me an age to work out how to add swap space and also how to allocate the rest of the remaining space on the device to a partition (answer: leave the size field blank).
* You start the installation only to be told you haven't set the root password (shouldn't that have been asked for *before* you clicked "start install"?).
* No ETA for installation completion during install and don't believe it displayed either the version numbers or sizes of the packages it was installing either.
After installation (I chose GNOME), you're presented with a blank desktop, an Activities menu, a few icons in the top right and that's it. Quite a poor first impression from GNOME 3 immediately there - having to click on Activities to make icons visible is simply a ludicrous default. The thing is, at this point, you have been given no alternative clues about MATE or Cinnamon - neither are offered to you either before login or afterwards.
Every release of Fedora seems to make it harder and harder to bring up a terminal window, which isn't good considering that people think of it as one of the better distros for developers. It's Activities -> Some non-obvious dotted grid (hover to find it's "show all apps" apparently) -> System Tools -> Terminal. Yes, that's two clicks on the left, two on the right - *4* clicks to bring up a terminal window :-( Yes, I know there are other ways, but they involve keyboard *and* mouse, which is even worse.
So I get the terminal up, complete with stupidly tall title bar/menu (no divider between the title bar and menu doesn't help!) and a yum grouplist as root finally shows what was stupidly hidden by Anaconda - all the alternative desktops! So it's time for yum groupinstall "MATE Desktop" and 108 (!) package downloads/installs later, I have MATE installed (it installed Thunderbird which surprisingly doesn't seem to be in the default GNOME install!). It's here I see something that I raised a feature request about - it looks like RPMs are downloaded in parallel, which is nice. It does lead to a bit of confusing cycling of the parallel download names as they are in progress though.
I might be too frustrated at this point, because I can't find the logout option in the menus (only restart/shutdown), so it's a restart then. A new "Session..." option appears pre-login and I can choose MATE now. Still the stupid 2-panel that later GNOME 2 desktops have (you only need one panel otherwise you are mousing up and down like a mad person), but it does look like MATE is customisable in a very similar manner to GNOME 2 e.g. the right button is used, there's a panel and desktop icons, all of which are improvements on GNOME 3 :-)
Conclusion - if you can struggle past the awfulness of Anaconda and install MATE using yum, this might be a half-decent environment - the first Fedora since F14 that hasn't massively disappointed me.
Try this Nexus availability checker app
Yes, Google Play is almost permanently out of stock, but for the few hours it isn't, may I recommend this checker app:
Yes, a bit chicken and egg, but you've surely got another Android device somewhere? :-)
Don't see the point of naming USB 3.1 as anything, but since it can go 10 Gigabit/sec, "Decaspeed" might be one possibility.
Of more importance though: having started to shift USB 3.0 in decent numbers at long last, will existing USB 3.0 setups see any speed improvement anywhere in the chain (assuming drivers have been updated to 3.1)? Or will everything (motherboard included) have to be replaced with 3.1 equivalents?
Tried WMC, really didn't like the startup time or UI
I did try WMC a while back (yes, on WIndows 7) and thought it took a long time to start up and seemed to have a UI that favoured looking pretty whilst taking an actual age to navigate around.
As I said in the previous WMC article about their EPG cockup, WMC is by no means the best media centre platform, even on WIndows itself.
The best combo for ease of setup and flexibility is Linux+tvheadend+XBMC. I'm using TBS PCIe cards for my sat and terrestrial digital viewing and their Linux support is very good. tvheadend is such a good and easy to use Web-based backend that I don't know people put up with anything else :-) And as for XBMC, well it just is super-configurable too (a dozen or more skins if you don't like the very pretty default Confluence skin) and has virtually every feature you'll need under the sun.
I'm not sure how else XBMC could work to avoid this "nightmare" you mentioned. Remember, that's it's purely a client that doesn't do any recording or EPG downloads or TV tuner config itself. That way, it can work on many, many different platforms, including Android. Want Windows Media Center on your phone or tablet - sorry, no can do. XBMC 12 is due out shortly and it runs virtually identically on Android as it does on Windows, Mac and Linux. Oh yeah, want WMC on Mac or Linux too? Sorry, no can do.
The backend and client *can* be run on the same machine if you only have one computing device and only one TV in the house and WMC does score on initial configuration if that's you're tech-poor setup. For all other situations, XBMC plus your favourite backend (yes, you choose between half a dozen - amazing...you've got a *choice*) is far more flexible and convenient. Whilst Windows remains popular on desktops/laptops, media centre client-side it doesn't (think watching on phones and tablets that aren't running Windows), which is what lets WMC down.
For backends, I personally think a good Web interface to set up your TV tuners, auto-downloading your EPG data and schedule/check recordings is the way to go. That means *any* device can access it and you can even (carefully!) open it up to the outside world so you can view it whilst out of the house, again on any device.
This is why I prefer tvheadend on Linux - it really is a very easy to use (but still very configurable) Web interface that beats stuff like MythTV's equivalent. Yes, I tried MythTV as a backend and being a tech person, I still really did not like MythTV's interface at all. I also was surprised that MythTV's developers don't think you'd ever want to record more than 5 channels on a single TV tuner (yes, that's a hard-coded limit in their backend that I tried to get them to increase, but they refused).
Does anyone use Windows Media Center any more?
I'm surprising anyone's using WMC when there are better alternatives if you really must use Windows for TV recording e.g. Mediaportal for one.
The best setup is surely a Linux nettop (e.g. Acer Revo) or even a Raspberry Pi plus tvheadend (the best media centre Web configuration interface bar none, IMHO) and XBMC as a front-end (possibly on the same device as the tvheadend server if you only have one box).
With XBMC available on far more platforms than WMC (including Android now), it's a no-brainer to ditch WMC completely.
Customisation is the key
For me, the ability to customise the look and feel of the way my phone or tablet operates is key. I don't even feel that stock Android 4.2.1 has quite enough config options (even though it still has far more than iOS *ever* will). My particular customisation needs are:
* If I want pattern locking, maximise the number of dots in the grid to make the pattern more complex.
* Battery percentage remaining figure - i.e. as an actual number - in the status bar (crucial IMHO - I will reject any custom ROM that doesn't allow this and it really should be an option in stock Android)
* Two home screens with the ability to maximise the number of home screen grid icons (hence the need for only 2 screens). I have 49 icons per home screen on my Nexus 7 for instance.
* Possibility to change the DPI either globally or per-app basis (this isn't crucial - the media's claim that many Android apps aren't "tablet-optimised" is utter guff because of the way Android scales its layout)
* Root-style apps (e.g. sshdroid can then run on port 22, Goomanager to put new ROMs on etc.).
* Ability to change scheduler performance (e.g. ondemand vs. powersave vs. performance vs. interactive) and the scheduler too.
* Soft keyboard with long hold for numbers on the top row (which is infinitely easier/quicker than faffing with the awkward ?123 key then the number then the ABC key). I haven't run stock Android 4 for so long that maybe Google make this the default now?
I've settled on "stock" CyanogenMod 10.1 nightlies for the moment and they give me pretty well all the configuration options I'll regularly use. Oh, I turn off all keyboard sounds, vibrations, auto-correct (or any spelling suggestions) and never use Google Now at all myself (yes, that annoying Google bar was removed as fast as I could manage when I first got my Nexus 7 :-) ).
- Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
- FOUR DAYS: That's how long it took to crack Galaxy S5 fingerscanner
- Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
- Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
- Wall St's DROOLING as Twitter GULPS DOWN analytics firm Gnip