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* Posts by Tannin

82 posts • joined 8 Apr 2012

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ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION

Tannin

Re: Headline wrong?

DavCrav, the point here is that the fake press release made sense to investors, which is why they panic-sold, and the reason it made sense is that the coal industry in the 21st Century is living on the edge of doom. Everybody knows (or should know) it won't go on much longer - not as a growth industry with huge profits - and everyone knows that it is starting to run into significant difficulties raising finance. In the main this isn't because of ethical investors going elsewhere (though that is a factor as well, of course), it is because of the high business risk. Just today, as an example, the Australian business newspapers are reporting that the Carmichael project in the Galilee Basin - planned to be the biggest coal mine in Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter - is in doubt because of difficulties raising the finance. (That's not me saying that, it's KPMG.) Coal is no longer a safe, boring investment. There *might* be money to be made in new ventures still, but with slowing worldwide demand growth and lower market prices plus competition from both gas and the renewables sector, plus the inevitability of carbon price increases, coal shares are high-risk and not something the ordinary investor or pension fund should be considering.

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Tannin

Re: Headline wrong?

Those investors and speculators were happy enough investing in a high-risk company, in a high-risk market sector, in a type of business that will be deservedly history before too many more years go past. The very fact that they were spooked by a trivially simple little trick shows just how close to the edge that business is. By all means feel sympathetic to them if you wish, but don't overdo it: they went into a high-risk investment of their own free will, and the fact that they were willing to invest in one of the most harmful industries of all demonstrates that they (the investors & speculators) had no concern or care for other people - so why should we care too much about them?

The hoaxer was in one sense very lucky to get off with such a modest penalty - the maximum penalties for stock market manipulation are very serious. On the other hand, in this country fair-dinkum shysters in flash suits and plush offices who get caught defrauding multiple millions for no better reason than greed generally get let off with token penalties, if they even get prosecuted at all, so in another sense this bloke can think himself a bit hard done by. Unlike most stock market frauds, he at least meant well.

Last point: what the hell is a pension fund doing putting money into a dodgy high-risk investment like this anyway? If that was my pension money these turkeys were managing, I'd be screaming mad at them.

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August Patch Tuesday to bring Windows bug fixes AND FEATURES – report

Tannin
Paris Hilton

Microsoft, please don't add a start menu ....

... 'coz I'm worried that an official Win 8,x start menu will cripple or disable the best start menu Windows computers have ever had.

Its name is Classic Shell and Microsoft had nothing at all to do with designing it; which is probably why it works so well. Apart from the luxury if being able to choose for yourself which overall style you find most productive and prefer (Win 7, Win XP or the timeless Classic itself), you, the user, can easily mix and match individual different elements, styles, and behaviours to make it do exactly what you want it to do - and isn't that what computers are for? Mixing the best of several different Windows start menu models, it is better than any of them.

Do whatever you want with your bound-to-be-inferior menu, but please, Mr Microsoft, don't take my Classic Shell away.

(PS: possibly similar comments apply to Start8 and one or two others. My brief experience with Start8 suggested that it was competent and practical but no better than the mediocre native Windows 7 menu. It may have improved since then or I may well have overlooked really good features. It was a while ago and I didn't spend long with it.)

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Microsoft: You NEED bad passwords and should re-use them a lot

Tannin

Re: Best practice

Yes. And when "best practice" becomes "World Best Practice" it's time to call for the strong sedatives before someone gets hurt.

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Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops

Tannin

destroying their own industry

These ultra-cheap (read heavily subsidised) Windows products are going to place still greater pressure on Microsoft's bread and butter customers - the thousands, probably millons of small, specialist computer shops around the world. Microsoft charge small OEMs $US 100 per copy of Windows. No exceptions, take it or leave it. The price has not changed in 20 years - which means that in real terms, it has gone up and up and up. In 1995, a bog-standard new computer was around $AU 2500, a half-decent laptop half as much again. You paid $499 for application software that is $20 now, or free. Windows, in other words, was around 3% to 5% of the cost of a computer. Today, that same typical standard computer costs around $AU 900, Windows is $AU 120 of that. It comes with a 2TB hard drive, 8GB RAM, DVDRW, dual core CPU, 23 inch TFT screen .... features you couldn't even dream about 20 years ago. Today, Windows accounts for between 10% and 15% of the system cost, more than that for the smallest budget systems.

But Microsoft give the same product away to the gigantic multinational companies sending the smaller concerns out of business. Before too long, there won't be any small OEMs left, there won't be any shops giving Microsoft those massive profits, and MS will be in deep, deep shite. They are killing the industry, and when it's dead, they will die too.

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That AMAZING Windows comeback: Wow – 0.5% growth in 2015

Tannin

Re: What's to look forward to?

Trevor wrote: "Office 2013 has a rubbish interface design by lobotomised slugs ..."

Wonderful turn of phrase there!

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You 'posted' a 'letter' with Outlook... No, NO, that's the MONITOR

Tannin

Re: But these are actually intelligent people ....

Learned helplessness, yes indeed. It can apply to almost any skill, not least language. Would it be too much of a stretch to diagnose it in the case of someone with apparently decent skills who suddenly writes "mother-in-laws" meaning mothers-in-law?

OK, fine. Sorry I asked.

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Should NBN Co squeeze a server into FTTN nodes?

Tannin

cheap, nasty, short-term

It's not a meaningful question. They will do what's cheap. Bank on that; this government will do whatever is cheap, nasty, and destined to need replacing with something practical and competent almost as soon as they themselves are out of office (which won't be long) and replaced with someone more competent (which won't be at all difficult).

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New 'Windows-8.1-with-Bing': How's it different from Windows 8.1?

Tannin

So this will apply to ... who? Um ...to the very small percentage of low-skill users who stick grimly to Internet Explorer instead of using Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, whatever else? Internet Explorer share is below 20% now, and still shrinking. In short, hard to see how this actually matters much. Presumably, everyone will buy Win 8.1 with Bing and (as usual) run Chrome or another third-party browser, making the pre-set IE search engine irrelevant.

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You'll hate Google's experimental Chrome UI, but so will phishers

Tannin

Quite so, Boone7. I was really writing, between the lines, about being surprised about something I should not have been surprised by. Over the last decade, despite working with users at somewhere around about this woeful level of incompetence every week, I (probably like many others in similar shoes) had gradually come to accept that times have moved on and the average know-nothing user, these days, actually knows at least a little bit, knows enough to master simple basic tasks like typing in a web address or using a bookmark.

My two hopeless users yesterday - granted, they were two particularly bad cases - showed me that a lot of what I had assumed was a gradual improvement in general understanding at the lowest end of the competence scale was, in fact, nothing of the kind. In reality, it seems, their incompetence hadn't changed much at all, it has simply been masked by the very long time they all spent using Windows XP and clicking on the same things in the same way through the various reinstalls and hardware upgrades the decade brought; clicking, it now seems, without even the fragile and shallow understanding I had ascribed to them.

I thought, after more than two decades in the computer support caper, that I was long past over-estimating user competence. Obviously, I was wrong.

As for Chrome and these proposed changes to URL display, I agree with you: changing the machine to dumb down the interface to the point where it becomes essentially meaningless is a daft idea. We need to stick to our guns and help users understand the basics, make things clearer without oversimplifing. The real enemy here is non-human-readable URLs. I mean that is the point of a URL - it is supposed to be more human readable than "185.32.201.17".

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Tannin

I was going to say that the right answer is to educate the users.

But then, earlier today, I had two customers in a row who honestly didn't understand the concept of typing a URL into the address bar. One was starting Chrome up and his home page was set to Google Maps. From there he opened a new tab, from the new tab he clicked on the "welcome to Chrome" tile, then he turned to me and said "see, I can't get into Chrome, there's no Internet". Navigating to Chrome's well-hidden bookmarks control was way beyond him. Eventually I installed Pale Moon for him, where at least you can have an always-visible "bookmarks" link on the menu. The second one wasn't much different. Both were recent upgraders from XP and Internet Explorer, now running Windows 7 or 8 and really struggling to cope with the change.

These guys really do need a "do stuff" button.

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Firefox, is that you? Version 29 looks rather like a certain shiny rival

Tannin

Re: They can't leave well enough alone

PunkTiger says: "this whole Australis interface on their latest version made me see red. (Where did those IE back/forward buttons come from? Why is the bookmark star joined at the hip with the Bookmark editor, and out of the URL bar?? Why is the refresh page icon at the end of the URL bar, and not next to the Back/Forward buttons?? I'm in Customize, but why can't I move those buttons around?! WTF IS THIS $#!+??? "Easily customizable" my left nut! This is all broken!"

Exactly! There is no design here, just pointlessly random controls in random dumbed-down places 'coz someone thought "they looked nicer that way". Function subordinated to form, and even the form isn't anything to write home about. The UI has been deteriorating slowly for years, now it's no better than Chrome's - which is harsh criticism indeed. This is what you get when kids graduate from graphic design school without learning anything about practical usability. Firefox was a good, practical girl once, but now some idiot disciple of the Steve Sinofsky School of Bork the Interface has given her new lipstick and subjected her to footbinding.

I'm uninstalling it.

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Will Apple's $130bn cash infusion keep investors onboard?

Tannin

Not "probably". They don't even try to pretend that it is anything other than what it is: a gigantic tax evasion trick. By borrowing money to give to shareholders, they can claim the interest on that money as a tax deductable expense and meet the repayments out of their massive pile of tax-evaded dollars in offshore bank accounts. Perfectly legal, and as honest as a once-in-a-lifetime email from a Nigerian dictator.

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Tannin

DougS, Apple don't defer taxes by shifting almost all their profit offshore, they avoid taxes by parking the money in tax havens. And not just in the USA, they do it in every major market stupid enough to let them keep on getting away with it, which is pretty much all of them. They don't have to account for it in the country where they operate because, according to their accounting system, this vast pile of money "wasn't earned in the USA" (or Australia, or the UK, or whatever other country they are avoiding tax in today), it was actually 'earned" in Taxhavenstein, where it just so happens that they have a huge management, design, manufacturing, and distribution centre consisting of an answering service and a post office box. Oddly enough, the chap who drops in to check the mail three or four times a week, who is 100% of their Taxhavenstein payroll, is so productive that on his own he makes fives times as much profit as the 600,000 lazy Americans do all put together.

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DeSENSORtised: Why the 'Internet of Things' will FAIL without IPv6

Tannin
FAIL

Networking's answer to Windows Vista

IPv6 is the Windows Vista of networking. Or possibly the Windows 8. Yep, it's got all the features, yep, it is technically miles ahead of what went before, yep, it is very clever, yep, it's got loads and loads of gee-wiz new features, and yep, everybody hates it because it doesn't work the way they expect it to and it breaks stuff.

IPv6 has failed in the market the way Vista failed. If it was anything remotely like what people wanted, it would have been a huge success by now, but hardly anybody uses it or wants it. Everybody understands IPv4, even your granny can get her mind around it if you make analogies with street addresses and post box numbers. Above all, IPv4 has those non-routable address blocks and with readily available $30 NAT boxes, with only a very basic skill set, anyone can make sure that packets which belong inside the building stay inside the building. Simply, the market does not want IPv6, it wants IPv4 with extra numbers.

To the IPv6 Committee: piss off.

We, the rest of the world, don't want your bloated, over-complicated, intrusive Vista of a product. That's why we have been assiduously avoiding it for longer than we have been laughing and pointing at Windows ME. It's been around and been "about to become the future" since before most teenagers were born, since HTML 4 was an RFC awaiting official approval (never mind XML, let alone HTML 5), since OS/2 was a not uncommon operating system, since Netscape Navigator was high-tech and popular, since search meant Yahoo or Alta Vista, since nine years before the very first iPhone was released, and it still hasn't caught on. That's what we people in the trade call a "hint".

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True optical zoom coming to HTC smartphone cameras

Tannin

As regards foldable zooms, perhaps the way forward for very small cameras (like phones) will be in liquid lenses (like an eye) where the lens stays in place but changes shape. No doubt there are people working on this as we talk, though I have no idea how far away practical introduction might be.

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Tannin
Facepalm

Yes, no doubt. And no - no possible way

Today's lesson is how to take a new fact and draw an absurd conclusion from it.

1: Observe that telephone cameras are getting better and that this new development will make them better still.

2: Fail miserably to notice that the cameras under threat from this improvement are not DSLRs, nor their newfangled interchangeable lens mirrorless brothers, but the smaller, cheaper point and shoot cameras which are directly threatened by phone cams and which are in fact already suffering from massively reduced sales worldwide because phone cams, while inferior in many respects, are not all that inferior and are, for many people, good enough.

3: Instead, pretend that this has something to do with DSLRs, which are in a completely different market segment, serve a completely different purpose, and are not in the least threatened by telephones, not now and not in the future.

4: Illustrate your story with a particular SLR lens which hardly anyone owns or uses and which sacrifices all of speed, weight, cost, and depth of field control to the one virtue of large focal length range - a lens, in other words, which concentrates on something SLR lenses don't do particularly well at and P&S cameras are often quite good at, as opposed to concentrating on the things that most other SLR lenses do best, none of which are or can be challenged by a P&S camera, let alone a telephone.

DSLRs have vastly bigger sensors which is why they are so big, heavy and expensive, and is also why they produce vastly better image quality and always will. Well, always until someone invents a completely new universe with new laws of quantum physics. For quality imaging, there is no and can never be any substitute for large numbers of photons striking the imaging sensor. This has nothing to do with optics or technology, it is a fundamental product of the quantum nature of electromagnetic radiation.

(Of course, for many purposes a low(ish) quality image is perfectly OK, and it's hard to see dedicated P&S cameras lasting for too long on the market when (more or less) the same functionality is available free with the telephone you were going to buy anyway. But DSLRs ... just learn some physics, OK?)

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Cheat Win XP DEATH: Little-known tool to save you from the XPocalypse

Tannin

Re: WAAAAAIT a minute....stop.

Old special-purpose hardware is a huge issue in some industries. An example from Australia. Some years ago I was asked to repair an ancient 386 system in a factory. It had an ISA card in it which communicated with and controlled a complicated metal-folding machine, which was used to custom-make air conditioning ducts. Without going into tedious detail, they wanted me to take on the difficult task of getting this system back up and running with the existing software and communications hardware. That was going to cost them what I thought was a fortune - there were complications which added up to lots of time and effort on my part - and it was still going to leave them with an upgraded but nevertheless ancient system. So I told them it just didn't make sense to fix it. For half that cost they could just buy a whole new computer and get a new model control and communications card from the manufacturer of the machine (who was still in business). Much easier and cheaper too, I thought.

But no: even setting aside the cost of the new control card and associated upgrade to the folding machine electronics, they would have to start by flying out (at their expense) a factory technician from Germany to do the upgrade. In short, it didn't matter if I spent weeks on the job and charged them thousands for it, it was still going to be vastly cheaper than upgrading, and get them back into production again sooner too. So that's what we did, I cobbled up some ancient old parts and fiddled about with it for as long as it took. The duct-folder and the computer I rebuilt went on happily making them money for another decade, and keeping their staff in work. Sadly, the large cheque they gave me in exchange for my efforts didn't last nearly as long: I spent it.

The point, of course, is that sometimes it's worth doing things in IT that seem mad on first sight, but which from a whole-of-business perspective, are sensible and practical, even if they do make life difficult for you, the IT person.

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USB reversible cables could become standard sooner than you think

Tannin

Re: Doh..

Doh yes we are aware. But you don't seem to be aware that it is usually printed or stamped so faintly and with such poor colour contrast that most people can't easily make it out without their reading glasses, and even if they can, it doesn't help much because they still don't know which way around the port to plug it in to has been oriented.So they guess, and 50% of the time guess wrong, sometimes breaking stuff, not least because they have learned to use quite a lot of force because some socket-plug combinations are very stiff and need a very firm push to insert correctly while others are as loose and sloppy as your logic.

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Tannin

Kev99 wrote "Uh, goofballs, all you need to do is look at the connecter. Where the seam is on the connecter goes on the bottom of the port."

No. Ports don't generally have an obvious "up" - a great many of them are vertically oriented, and they are sprinkled at random on front, back, left and right side of the system. Some laptops even have some vertical ports plus some other horizontal ones. So, in reality, this is not much practical help. People still fumble and waste time looking for the right way round to plug things.

Secondly, the seam (or the label) is often far from obvious, particularly in poor lighting conditions, and in any case you can't see it if you are fumbling around on your knees feeling for the back of the computer wondering why your USB gadget won't plug into what later turns out to be a ridiculously-similar looking HDMI port.

Thirdly, laptop manufacturers take gleeful pride in sloping the sides of the laptop such that you can't see the ports anyway. (Standfast one particular model from ... er .. might have been Medion ... which very sensibly sloped outwards meaning that you could see all the ports without turning it upside down.

The USB standard plug should have been semi-circular in the first place. Or reversible, of course.

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Tannin

The elusive brain cell discovered at last!

The total cost to business and consumers of the existing connector design over its lifetime must be enormous. Yes, it's only a few extra seconds, but add them all up and we are talking billions upon billions worth of lost time, and all because some design committee was brain-dead on the day the connector was finalised.

This - finally! - addresses the absurdly longstanding design farnarkleup. Yay! Unfortunately, it also continues the recent obsession with miniturising every damn thing, and I'm not convinced that that is a good idea. Will it be, despite the double-sided design, as fiddly to insert as most small connectors are? I'm guessing it won't be too bad, but that remains to be seen. And will it be robust enough to stand up to repeated use? Small connectors tend to break easily - they simply don't have enough metal in them to be very strong - and it would be a disaster to see USB easier to use at last but more prone to breakages. These days, remember, it is pretty much never cost effective to repair things like USB sockets (except on proper desktop systems, where everything is always repairable), and I can imagine a steady stream of sorry-sir-I-can't-fix-it, throw it away devices coming across my desk.

But maybe, given that the designers have finally discovered a brain cell to use for the basic design of the connector after all these years, they have pressed that cerebral item into overtime and designed a connector that's too tough to break in normal use. Let's hope so.

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Windows 8.1 Update: Throws desktop drones a bone but still as TOUCHY as ever

Tannin

Re: Am I the only one...

No you are not the only one, Wilber. Pretty much everyone with a technical clue regards the underlying Windows 8 system as somewhere between good and excellent. In essence, the Windows 8 fundamentals do to Windows 7 what Windows 7 did to Vista. Most of it is the same code, but there has been a great deal of attention to detail and a lot of effort put into performance and efficiency enhancements. The Windows 8 file system is the most obvious example: it is easily faster than Windows 7, just as 7 was a big upgrade on the appalling Vista.

Alas, Sinofsky's Metro disaster grafted the worst windows user interface of all time onto the top of the best Windows code yet written. The dreadful interface is only one small part of a massive code base, but It only takes one spoon of dog poo to taint a whole gallon of cream.

At this point, there are two schools of thought. Many (probably most) throw the whole sorry mess away and return to Windows 7 (or 'nix, or some other alternative, including even XP, but many others discover that it is very easy indeed to replace the terrible Metro front end with any of several well-crafted third-party shell replacements or enhancements - the excellent Classic Shell is just one example. It costs you three minutes to install Start8 or Classic Shell, plus a few weeks of occasional frustration while you learn to tame a few random other stupidities, or at least find workarounds.

Mostly you won't see these issues, just now and again you discover something that worked fine on XP or 7 has to be done a different way on 8 and you'll waste 20 minutes figuring it out. There is some downright brain-dead weirdness in the interaction between NTFS and networking file permissions, for example, that can be devilishly difficult to diagnose and fix if it applies to you, but once understood, hacked into submission, and appropriately sworn at is no problem at all. Note that this type of issue is not by any means unique to Windows 8, there were similar hurdles to overcome with 7, and a great big stack of them with Vista. You can guarantee there will be more with 9. Microsoft, I sometimes think, just like to break things.)

Are you the only one who thinks Win 8 is fine? No, I agree with you. It's the best Windows ever, and by a fair margin. It is also the worst Windows ever, and that by an even bigger margin, which is really saying something when you remember it has to outdo the horrors of ME and Vista and even the truly dreadful 3.0.

EDIT: As an afterthought, it's perhaps sensible to regard Windows 8 as a sort of hacker's Windows. Like Linux back in the day - say a decade ago - or various Italian cars, it can be excellent but only if you are happy to have to hack it around and beat it into submission first. If you want it to work properly straight out of the box, buy Windows 7 instead, or jump ship to a non-Windows system.

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Tannin
Facepalm

Conservative

“It is surprising how conservative Windows users have turned out to be” says a Microsoft executive. Spot on! I couldn't agree more. In fact, most of them are so blindly and rigidly conservative that they still want to do useful, productive work on a Windows computer, using real programs and ignoring toy-store apps. Blind fools! Don't they know that Metro is the future?

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Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed

Tannin

Re: It's not the OS you have to worry about

Cheers Ian, I think that depends on which market you work with. In my working life I never see these corporate and government machines you speak of (the ones still running XP because they have ancient intranet setups which depend on IE). I don't doubt that they exist, but I'd expect them to be a very small proportion of the massive total XP user base. To be fair, I mainly service the home, home office, and small business markets, with few corporate and no government clients, so I'd be unlikely to see those machines anyway. Nevertheless, I do not believe for one moment that the total of locked-in-by-IE XP systems in corporate and government use would add up to more than a small fraction of the whole. (Wild guess? Let's say 10%.) Further, these systems presumably have some at least notionally competent IT department staff to look after them. (A mixed blessing there, I freely grant.)

Then there are the completely clueless consumers you mention who don't even know what an operating system is, and yup, there are certainly plenty of them. The Microsoft end-of-support messages are bringing lots of these people out of the woodwork and everyone in retail IT is working longer hours just now to deal with all the upgrades. (I certainly am! A bit too much of a good thing right now.) Those that ignore the messages without understanding them will very likely fall victim to some scumbag malware in short order, but then these are the exact same people who have been getting viruses and spyware on their systems since Windows 95 was new and fast Internet was a 56k modem. I am not convinced that the end of Windows XP support will have all that much effect on these people: their already-high infection rate will double or even triple for a while and people like me will do a lot of malware removal and security reeducation. Shrug. We have been doing that for a couple of decades now, and this won't be the first spike in malware work, nor will it be the last one.

Thirdly, there is the vast pool of XP users who are not clueless (they range from near-clueless at one end of the scale right through to very bright and well-informed at the other). They are still using XP out of simple practicality. For these people - probably the largest single group of XP users by a fair margin - computers are just a tool which does the things that they require with a minimum of fuss, bother, and expense. These are practical people who don't throw working tools away without good reason.

But all of this is dancing around my main point, which is that the main problem here isn't Windows XP as such, it's the various Microsoft add-ons associated with XP, such as Internet Explorer and Media Player. A very large proportion of existing XP users have long since upgraded from IE to Firefox or Chrome, from OE to Thunderbird, from the Windows Picture and Fax viewer to Picassa or Irfanview, and/or from WMP to VLC or SMPlayer. The simplistic "XP is bad" message is largely wrong. The bad things (like IE) can be replaced (and often have been already) by superior alternatives and the remaining risk is by comparison quite small.

Does this mean that no-one should upgrade? Of course not. But it does mean that we (as IT professionals) should be advising clients on a case-by-case basis. For some XP users, the right answer is "do nothing, you already have good security and backup, and your system is low-risk". For others it is "buy a whole new machine, this one has reached the end of its useful working life", and for some it's "throw this machine away and just use your tablet, it's all you need". And for others again, it is "Let's upgrade to a newer OS version and, while we are at it, add some extra RAM and a few tweaks here and there". This last response is the right one for more than half of my users, but every case is different, and your client mix will vary, of course.

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Tannin

It's not the OS you have to worry about

The usual media hype at work. The primary XP vulnerabilities have got nothing to do with the operating system itself, they are the brain-dead Microsoft add-ons: Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, the image viewing stuff that's shared between various MS applets, and Outlook Express. Smarter XP users have been running fast, modern third-party browsers and image viewers and email clients and movie players for more than a decade now, and their exposure to malware is much, much smaller than people running XP with Outlook and Explorer and so on.

Indeed, a smaller exposure, in all probability, than that of users running Windows 7 or 8.x but still with Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player. That last remains to be seen, but don't be surprised if it turns out to be the case.

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Microsoft spells out new rules for exiling .EXEs

Tannin

Kudos

Full credit to Microsoft in this instance. (And if you know me, that's not something I say often or easily.) This is very welcome news.

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Microsoft: Hey, small biz devs – Windows Store apps are for you, too

Tannin

Next question please

So now anyone can write for Metro. Um ... but why would anyone want to?

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Is this photo PROOF a Windows 7 Start Menu is coming back?

Tannin

But Warp didn't fail because of the interface - which was excellent and was later copied very successfully by Microsoft with Windows 95 -and Warp succeeded brilliantly at running Windows and OS/2 applications side by side on the same desktop. Warp failed mainly because it was marketed badly, because the hardware requirements were quite high, because drivers and installation were difficult and unfamiliar, and above all because hardly anyone wrote software for it. It wound up as a sort of heavy-duty platform for DOS and Windows applications, and before too long NT 4 came along to do that same job only in a more familiar way, and that was the end of that.

Windows 8, in contrast, has excellent driver support, is easy to install and support (assuming, of course, that you first escape from the awful Metro garden and install Classic Shell or an equivalent), and has best-of-breed hardware support and performance.

Yet, despite those differences, your point that the one thing killing Windows 8 is Microsoft's arrogance and contempt for its own customers remains valid, and indeed is the key to this entire slow-motion trainwreck.

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As WinXP death looms, Microsoft releases its operating system SOURCE CODE for free

Tannin

Re: Forgot Something

Word, if I remember it correctly, had two different origins. Word for DOS came first and was just what you'd think - a DOS word processor. Word for Windows was the one that started on the Apple platform (not under that name and produced by a different company, name long forgotten). Microsoft bought the company and ported the product over to Windows.

(Well, that's the way I remember it. YMMV. Mind you, I struggle to remember where I put my keys 30 seconds ago, so don't take it as gospel.)

Have an upvote anyway for at least nearly remembering something most here seem to have forgotten.

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TV sales PLUMMET. But no one's prepared to say what we all know

Tannin

Make something we want

If one of the manufacturers ever gets a clue, they will start producing a product that (a) none of the others have, and (b) people can't get and actually want to buy. Now there are probably lots of examples for lots of different niches, but just to mention one - I know dozens of people who, like me, would queue up to pay top dollar for a screen with some decent height in it - i.e., a screen more usefully shaped than the ubiquitous current wide and shallow things which are fine for passive consumption and rather painful for real work.

OK, OK, that's not a TV, it's a computer monitor, but in a tough market a sale is a sale, yes? Are you listening Samsung, LG, Phillips, and all the rest of you?

(silence)

Apparently not.

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Win XP holdouts storm eBay and licence brokers, hiss: Give us all your Windows 7

Tannin
Thumb Up

Re: Classic Shell - I've been beating the drum for a year now

Two things are quite extraordinary about this post:

(1) The number of nonsensical downvotes for a perfectly reasonable, not-in-the-slightest-controversial post about a very, very useful bit of software. So you did not bother waffling on about how stupid and/or evil Microsoft's brain-dead decision to ship a terrible UI that needs Classic Shell (or other similar software) to become decently usable was. Is that reason enough for the multiple downvotes? It's the only reason I can see, and it's absurd - plenty of other people have been making that point for a very long time (me amongst them), so much so that, in civilised discussion, it can usually be taken as granted, and it certainly doesn't need to be repeated in every post on every topic.

(2) The sheer ignorance of several posters flaming you bitching about Stardock! What has Stardock got to do with Classic Shell? Ans: nothing at all. As you know (but these clueless flamers don't) Stardock did not write Classic Shell, does not sell Classic Shell, and doubtless fervently wishes Classic Shell did not exist because it must be hard making a living selling the second-best fix for the Windows 8 UI disaster at $5 a pop when the best fix (by far) is free.

Could Microsoft disable Classic Shell? Presumably it would be fairly simple in technical terms. But would they? Surely not. Classic Shell (and to a lesser extent Start8 and a few lesser-known others) are the only things between Windows 8.x and utter market failure. Without Classic Shell (or one of the various others) Win 8 is effectively unusable and sales, already very bad, would go to much, much worse. Breaking it would be egregious commercial suicide of the most stupid imaginable kind, and despite all their many faults, Microsoft are not that stupid.

Um .... what did I just say? Oh dear. Well, maybe in this post-Vista, post-Ribbon, post-Metro world they aren't still that stupid.

2
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Windows hits the skids, Mac OS X on the rise

Tannin
FAIL

"free" OSX - what are we smoking today?

OSX is "free"? Hoolie Doolie, that's the funniest stupid comment I've read for a long, long time.

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5

Mozilla takes Windows 8-friendly Firefox out back ... two shots heard

Tannin

no surprise here

1: No-one uses Metro anyway. Well, not enough people to be worth mentioning.

2: The few - the very few - who do are, in the main, either (a) the completely clueless types who just click on stuff in the vague hope that E stands for Internet, and (b) the three remaining rusted-on weirdos who blindly adulate every Microsoft product ever made no matter what.

The latter group have not the faintest interest in using Firefox, or indeed any non-Microsoft browser, while the former battle to understand what a web browser is, never mind how to install one without calling their grandchildren.

So that leaves ... well, that leaves no-one.

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Your 'funny' cat pics are weighing down the web, so here's a better JPEG encoder from Mozilla

Tannin

Re: Why not just replace the last-end compression?

If so, why don't JPGs compress worth a damn? You can take a folder with (say) 2GB of JPG images and compress the whole thing with your choice of compression software, and you are usually lucky to get enough compression to be worth the bother or the extra CPU cycles. Well, that was certainly so last time I tried it, and I tried several different compression methods without seeing any difference worth mentioning between them, though it was a few years back now. Has something changed?

1
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Microsoft to get in XP users' faces with one last warning

Tannin

Re: Lies: they can't run 8.1

The thing that is "not good enough", as should be perfectly clear to anyone who has actually read my post rather than just glanced at the headline, isn't the end of support for XP, it's Microsoft's gall in offering to "upgrade" vast numbers of users to a product which ought to and easily could but doesn't install or run on their (perfectly capable) hardware.Or, if want to defend their foolish and inexplicable decision to casually make Windows 8.1 incompatible with lots and lots of surprisingly modern systems, their failure to provide any decent support life for Windows 8.0, which is set to end support as soon as next year.

Note that - as set out above - we are not talking about ancient kit here; we are talking about late-model multi-core systems with performance more than sufficient to run any current operating system at good speed - Core 2 Duos and multi-core Athlons and the like.

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Tannin

Re: How MS could really help

Annihilator says: "they could make installing an up-to-date version of Win 7 a 1-2 hour process instead of the 1-2 day process it currently is. At last count, it takes 8-10 update cycles to bring it up to full patch, 4 of which occur before SP1 even presents itself as an option..... Does anyone know of a reasonably quicker way to do this?"

Yes. First, it is possible to create an up-to-date slipstream install disc which includes all of the service packs and updates, but the procedure is arcane, poorly documented, inflexible, and time consuming. If you haven't already put the hard work into learning how to do this, it's not worth the time it would take you to set it up unless you are doing a very large number of near-identical machines. (It's different for people who have done it a few times before and memorised the arcana, of course. An expert at this would probably do it even for a half-dozen machines. I wouldn't consider it for less than about 50 identical systems - too much like hard work.)

Secondly, and much more usefully, you can just download the service packs in stand-alone installer form from Microsoft. (Search for something like "windows 7 service pack standalone installer".) Burn them to CD or DVD or put them on a memory stick. Install Win 7 as usual, apply the service packs from the DVD, and only then start Windows Update. You will still have 120-odd more recent updates to download and install, but it's still a huge improvement.

(The same applies to 2000, XP and Vista, of course, but one hopes you are not so unfortunate as to have to work on Vista systems.)

PS: Why anyone would downvote you for asking an honest and perfectly sensible question, I have no idea. There is no accounting for some people.

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Tannin
Megaphone

Lies: they can't run 8.1

They are going to tell users on older XP-based systems to "Update to Windows 8.1". Really?

No, I'm not saying that it's unreasonable to expect users to switch to the worst Windows user interface of all time. (Well, it is unreasonable, of course, but it is also easily fixed with Classic Shell or the alternative of your choice, plus a bit of reconfiguration to do the basic things you have to do with Win 8.x to stop it doing things that most users don't understand and can't cope with: switching off that scary sudden death delete, for example, by adjusting the properties of the recycle bin.)

No, the unreasonable part is that, for no good reason and without any warning from

MS, Windows 8.1 won't install or run on a huge stack of machines with only moderately old and still perfectly capable processors, including multi-core AMD Athlon 64 X2 and Opteron 185 units, and a very large number of quite recent Intel Core 2 Duo systems. (Typically with the Intel parts it is the motherboard chipset Windows 8.1 objects to rather than the CPU, but this is of no consequence - either way, the user is screwed.)

There was no good reason for this unannounced change - note that Windows 7 and Windows 8.0 both work perfectly on these systems - and this faces XP users with having to scratch around and find an unsold copy of Windows 8.0 and with the end-of-support nightmare set to come straight back at them as early as next year - yes, Win 8.0 support is set to end in 2015.

Microsoft's response to this shocker has been mendacious and unhelpful. An MS spokesdroid said “the number of affected processors are extremely small, since this instruction has been supported for greater than 10 years”. This is simply not so: the very first CPUs with support for the new instruction shipped that far back, but it was neither used by any software nor common. Mainstream, everyday mass-market CPUs and chipsets did not support CMPXCHG16b for years after that, and a vast number of people with good quality, perfectly capable hardware only a few years old have been shafted by the 8.1 schmozzle.

Their only alternatives, short of throwing away perfectly good hardware, are to run 32-bit 8.1 (not really an alternative at all) or else the elderly Windows 7. This is simply not good enough, Microsoft.

8
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In spinning rust we TRUST: HGST slips out screamingly fast ... HDD

Tannin
Coat

Re: Am i the only one

Noise! Ha! I have, safely salted away in the back room, a pair of Seagate Cheetah X15 drives, the first-ever 15k units (which are not too bad noise-wise, not considering how old they are) and somewhere near them, a couple of older Seagate Cheetah Mark 1 drives, the very first drives to spin at 10,000 RPM. (Everything prior to that was 7200 max.) The Mark Is were very, very fast (by 1997 standards, or the standard of several years later) but very loud. Quite unpleasant to be in a small room with one after a while.

But they were nothing, noise-wise, to the IBM model which followed soon after: the Ultrastar ZX - the second 10k drive model to be sold, and possibly it was a bit rushed to keep up with Seagate because it made a noise like a small jet fighter taking off. Really loud; a penetrating note that set your teeth on edge and made you wonder if it was quite right in the bearings. But it was huge (9.1GB!) and fast, and it ran without the slightest trouble in our office server for six or seven years, 24 hours a day. It still runs now - not that I switch it on more than once every couple of years just to hear that rushing mechanical whine again, and maybe watch the streetlights dim as it powers up - and provides performance vastly inferior to a $10 memory stick from the Post Office with 10 or 100 times the capacity and no noise at all. But where is the glorious mechanical engineering in a memory stick?

Ahh ... push me off the perch, I'm getting old.

1
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Microsoft Research co-develops cloud data scrambler

Tannin

It beats me why people use cloud storage at all. Honestly, for 90+% of all computer users, I just can't see any sensible reason for it. On a phone (or equivalently storage-crippled other device), OK, but on a real computer? Why would you want to do that?

1
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Microsoft courts mobe-makers, tweaks Windows 8 for WIMPs

Tannin

Re: Stupid Question...

Err .. it means Window Icon Mouse Pointer in this context. "I have never heard it in relationship to mobile phones before" - that's because it's not in relation to mobile phones, it's in relation to the Windows 8.x for actual computers, though you had to read all the way through to the end of the article to get to that bit. See the last para.

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Tannin
WTF?

Hide the important stuff

What a strange article! A whole lot of yammer about - let's face it - fairly unimportant stuff to do with telephones that nobody cares about much. All interesting enough and newsworthy in its way, please don't think I'm complaining.

But then, hidden away at the very bottom of the article like an unimportant afterthought, we get the bombshell - Microsoft is planing to give Metro apps a title bar and a close button. That's *massive* news, why wasn't it the headline? Why wasn't it shouted out loud and clear?

Think it through: Microsoft is planning to make Metro usable. (Yes, really.) That's a very significant step which might very well change the future of computing. Up to now, MS has been determined, over time, to replace the open Windows environment with the walled garden of Metro; replace the glorious, chaotic free-for-all of software choice on Windows systems with a strictly controlled, centralised, heavily (30%!) taxed app store model. Never mind the bizarrely user-hostile interface changes Metro brought, the *real* issues with Windows 8.x is and always was the threat to kill off all free, independent software distribution and impose a massive, incredibly profitable 30% tax on every single bit of software sold for Windows.

But, as we all know, the app store model has completely failed to gain traction. The Metro interface was a user disaster, Windows 8 bombed in the market, and the Windows market position itself came under serious threat. The threat of an app store universe where no-one is free to write, distribute and sell software free of the Microsoft Tax seemed remote.

But now this news: Rather than abandoning the brain-dead Metro interface, or stick grimly to it while its customer base disappeared like mist in the desert sun, Microsoft has done the unthinkable: it is actually aiming to make Metro usable. (Well, a bit usable.) This implies, in turn, that MS hasn't given up on the app tax model and the threat of a closed world of computing where both major vendors lock you in and freedom of choice and enterprise are sacrificed just moved closer.

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Seagate's LaCie touts a 25TB (not a typo) box o' disks for your DESK

Tannin

A very useful task for one of these IS backup - all the PCs on your home or small office network, for example. Assuming half-decent backup software, performance isn't really an issue.

And to back it up, well, the obvious device is another one the same. I'm sure Seagate won't mind if you buy two or three of them.

25TB in one go is a very attractive proposition.Pencil me in as a prospective buyer. (OK, I'd rather just use a couple of 15TB internal SATA drives, but that's not something we will be able to buy any time soon.)

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Sony denies Vaio-to-Lenovo rumour

Tannin
WTF?

What would be the point?

What would be the point? Oh, sure, Sony would get rid of a loss-making line and gracefully exit an ever-tougher market, so there is sense in it for Sony. But why on earth would Lenovo be interested? What does Sony have to offer Lenovo to match the known and visible strengths of the legendary Thinkpad product line? Or Medion's market power in Germany? Or IBM's server business? Or Motorola's phone division? Each of those just mentioned was a strong, successful business with growth prospects. (Yes, even Motorola's phone division, which has fallen on hard times of late but still retains fundamental attributes which, under the right management, can and almost certainly will quickly blossom back into market share and profitability.) Sony's Vaio line, on the other hand, is just another notebook brand with no particular distinguishing qualities. Take the tarnished but still (curiously enough) respected Sony name away from the Vaio brand and there is nothing of any great value left. Why would Lenovo want to spend good money on, when it's all said and done, nothing much?

The one very useful thing (for Sony) talk of a Lenovo buyout could achieve is to hurry along some other buyer, push them to spend up big on Vaio "before Lenovo snaps it up". Not that you'd reckon any buyer smart enough to have the money would fall for it. Why would you spend up big to buy Vaio when you could probably get it by holding your water and spending up small - sooner or later, Sony has to stop bleeding money like water - or, better again, just letting it die a natural death on Sony's dollar instead of yours?

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Latest Chrome adds Chrome OS flavor to Windows 8 'Metro' mode

Tannin
Thumb Up

unwanted audio

> The new version is the first mainstream release to include a feature that allows users to quickly

> locate tabs that are playing unwanted audio.

YAY! At last! I very much dislike Chrome - it's the airline rubber chicken of the browser world - but this is a feature I have wanted to see for years. The only really surprising thing is that it wasn't invented (like nearly everything else that's any good in browsers) by Opera, back in the days when they made wonderful web browsers instead of buggy fifth-rate Chrome clones.

Rather against my will, consider me impressed.

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Microsoft to RIP THE SHEETS off Windows 9 aka 'Threshold' in April

Tannin

Re: Will anyone still care?

> Microsoft has got some great technologies, Exchange ....

Exchange? "Great technology"? Hoolie doolie! I haven't laughed so much since Grandma died.

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Haswell micro: Intel’s Next Unit of Computing desktop PC

Tannin

It is a simple sum. Too small to upgrade + impossible to repair = consumer junk. Forget it. Buy a real computer. Or, if you need the portability, buy a laptop, even a tablet. This is a product with huge disadvantages and almost nothing there to justify them.

5
3

Why America is no longer slurping electricity from Russian nuke warheads

Tannin

Re: Plutonium?

Thanks Don, a very interesting response - and one which seems to raise more questions than it answers!

(PS: so you need to do a bit more than buy a lathe, hire a basement, and read a Tom Clancy novel to make a bomb? Who'd a guessed it!)

PPS: why don't we have a Slim Pickins icon?

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Tannin

Plutonium?

If my memory is to be trusted, uranium 235 is only the second-most favoured fissile material for weapon manufacture; plutonium 239 is the #1. There are also a few others which are theoretically suitable, but (again from memory) none of them are thought to have been used as the main element in a nuclear device. So if the Yanks have helped get rid of all that enriched uranium, what has been done with all the plutonium? Do we know?

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Bigger on the inside: WD’s Tardis-like Black² Dual Drive laptop disk

Tannin

Re: @Tannin

Cheers Ultron.

"I think you have missed the point" - not at all. The point I made is that the Reg headline is plain wrong in fact. This WD thing is not the first dual drive, in fact if I remember Hitachi's product line correctly it's not even the second dual SSD/mechanical drive - counting all the different Seagate ones as a single product line for the sake of simplicity, it's the third which, in a three-company market makes it the *last*. (Insert quote of your choice here, presumably Matthew 20:16.) I expect dumb headlines from the Reg - hey, that's all part of the charm of the place- but I draw the line at flat-out wrong.

(You point out something the WD drive may be useful for. That's fine, but it's not my point, which is that a headline - OK a sub-head in this case - should have some vague relationship to the facts of the matter.)

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Tannin
FAIL

THE HEADLINE: "The world’s first SSD-HDD combo"

THE FACT: Seagate has been making a variety of SSD-HDD combos for years. Their design is quite different - for one thing there is no user-level trickery or special setup required or even possible, you just plug them in and use them, with whatever operating system you please.

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