Feeds

* Posts by Tannin

65 posts • joined 8 Apr 2012

Page:

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.

13
0

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.

13
0
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.

5
0
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.

4
0

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.

19
0
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?

37
0

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.

4
0
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.

8
2

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.

16
1

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?

7
0

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.

2
2

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.

3
0

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.

1
0

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
1

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.

19
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.

43
10

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
1

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.

1
0
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.

2
0
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
2

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
0

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
0

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.

0
0
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.

5
0

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.)

2
0

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?

2
0

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.

0
0

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.

11
1

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?

0
0
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?

0
0

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.)

0
0
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.

0
0

Tape straightens its tie, speeds away from villain's lair: I think I'll die another day

Tannin
Holmes

Wow! Tape is not dead! Errr ... don't tell me, let me guess .... this must be The Register and it's Tuesday? Now how did old Winnie put it? Never in the history of one trade rag has so much been written by so many on one topic to be read by so few with such regularity .... Hmmm maybe not - after all, I read it, just as I read nearly all the other ones, so maybe you did too.

"What did you do on your days off, Granddad?"

"Read articles saying tape isn't dead yet, little apple of my eye."

"Oh. .... And what's a tape, Grandad?"

"I can't remember exactly now, dear one. Some dead computer bizo thingie, probably. there were lots of them."

"You mean like a rhino or a Minke Whale, Grandad?"

"Not really. Deader than that. Well, maybe close enough."

1
5

Climate change makes phones obsolete: ITU

Tannin
FAIL

Re: Right and wrong...

Of course there is more being insured and of course there is such a thing as inflation. However, the insurance industry is a bit smarter than the average Register denier, they have been aware of the increasing risks posed by climate change for decades now.

For example: "Munich Re has had climatologists on board since 1974 ..... They have been doing this because it impacts their bottom line. When they began they didn't know whether human activity was the cause of climate change. They only knew that they were witnessing a very suspicious trend in all the accumulated data. What Munich Re can show us is compelling evidence ... of rising insured and uninsured losses from natural disasters going back to 1980 ..... Of course not all these losses are related to climate change. The Fukushima disaster was brought on by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami leading to over $400 billion in total losses in 2011. And the company also acknowledges the rise in the world's population with much of the growth inhabiting low-lying coastal and riverine areas plays a considerable role in these rising losses. But floods, forceful hurricanes and typhoons, droughts, forest and brush fires are on the rise. Data shows that extreme meteorological events which usually ranged between 200 and 600 per year from 1980 to 1996, have risen above 800 five times since 2006. At the same time earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and non-weather catastrophes have actually declined since 2000." - https://www.wfs.org/blogs/len-rosen/reinsurance-business-knows-about-climate-change

See also

* Mutually Insured Destruction - http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/01/magazine/mutually-insured-destruction.html?_r=0

* No climate-change deniers to be found in the reinsurance business - http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/rob-magazine/an-industry-that-has-woken-up-to-climate-change-no-deniers-at-global-resinsurance-giant/article15635331/?page=all

It's not just the gigantic European reinsurers. Here is the President of the Reinsurance Association of America: “The industry is at great financial peril if it does not understand global and regional climate impacts, variability and developing scientific assessment of a changing climate”.

Or you can try Australia: Costs soar for reinsurers - http://www.smh.com.au/business/costs-soar-for-reinsurers-20130217-2el7q.html

Wherever you look, the answers are the same: insurance companies are seeing more climate-related disasters and worse damage from them.

0
1
Tannin
FAIL

Re: Right and wrong...

Yes, there ARE more natural disasters, and more to the point, they are (on average) bigger and do more damage. Don't take my word for it, go straight to the people who have been obsessively measuring and carefully counting disasters for longer than you have been alive, and doing it 'coz their livelihood depends on getting it right: insurance and especially reinsurance companies. No climate change doubters there: they KNOW they are paying out more and more often and they kindly send you written advice of that every year. (Hint: look for the bit with the number on it. There is a "$" or "£" sign in front of it..)

0
3

Why Microsoft absolutely DOESN'T need its own Steve Jobs

Tannin
WTF?

It has? Who? And how many?

Metro "has earned a strong core of vociferous evangelists not unlike the turn of the millennium Macolytes".

It has? Really? First I've heard of it. Oh, there is a handful of Metro fanbois here on the Reg forum - but I do mean a handful, and they are pretty much absent most everywhere else. Then there are the rather more numerous ones (here and elsewhere) who don't much care for Metro but are resigned to using it because they have to; some of this as-yet smallish group has even gone so far as to have discovered the odd Metro feature that they like, but that certainly doesn't make them "strong evangelists". And then there is everyone else - and now we are talking serious numbers - with the usual range of opinions from "not much good" through "lousy" right up to "worse than Stoned, Code Red, or Netsky".

Sorry, the "strong core of evangelists" line just doesn't wash. We would need some pretty solid evidence before swallowing this outlandish claim.

(PS: I apologise for picking up on just this one point from a fairly lengthy article, but it stands out like the dog's proverbials and makes it a bit hard to swallow the remainder of the content - given this whopper, one thinks, what other untruth lurk within?)

10
0

Brace! yourselves! startups! Yahoo! can't! wait! to! blow! $1bn! on! shiny! new! things!

Tannin
Stop

Re: Can we lose the exclamation marks now pleeease?

"Can we lose the exclamation marks now pleeease?"

Have 27 upvotes just as soon as I can register another 26 accounts,.

But how about we lose them starting five years ago? It wasn't funny then and it gets less funny with every passing issue.

While we are at it, let's start paying proper respect to company and product names that degrade the language by, for example, adding spurious punctuation. And when I say "proper respect", I mean just that: - i.e., no damn respect at all. Yahoo is written just as you see it - Yahoo.

(One step at a time here. We will leave the iSilly and eDumb product names for another day.)

0
4

Firefox reveals new look: rounded rectangles

Tannin

Re: Tabs on bottom...

"Tabs on bottom... Is there any other browser that supports keeping your tab bar directly above the web page? Tabs-On-Bottom is the only thing that's been keeping me on FireFox."

Yes, Opera.

But only real Opera (v 12.x), which has now been discontinued in favour of the new Opera, which is an inferior Chrome clone in all respects except for the version numbers (which must have been copied from Firefox because they change every five minutes).

1
0
Tannin

And the relentless dumbing down of a once-great browser continues ...

25
5

MILEY CYRUS in JUST HER PANTIES would LOVE a smartwatch: Samsung

Tannin
Facepalm

Re: Where does she hide the phone it pairs with?

... and does it have rounded corners?

0
1

Samsung to throw fat wad of Won at rare earth alternatives

Tannin
Flame

Re: Help

*Finding* rare earths is not terribly difficult - they are not especially rare.

*Mining* rare earths is not terribly difficult either.

*Transporting* rare earths is easy - all you need is a big truck. Compare to things like iron ore or coal or bauxite where you need hugely expensive capital works like railway lines and gigantic new port facilities just to get the economies of scale you need.

*Refining* rare earths is harder, and refining rare earths without creating a lot of very nasty pollution as a side effect is harder still.

The reason China has dominated rare earth supply isn't really its ability to monopolise supply of the raw materials - you can easily find plenty more the Chinese don't own in Canada, Australia, and various other places. No, China's quasi-monopoly exists because not many other countries are prepared to either (a) tolerate the pollution rare earth ore processing creates, or (b) go to a lot of trouble and expense processing rare earths in an environmentally acceptable way. Why do either of these when you can just buy the stuff from China?

Over time, we will see China crack down on more of its cowboy industries (which will tend to reduce supply and increase the price of rare earth materials); and we will see additional sources of supply come on-line from outside China - this is happening already, but it all takes time and money.

Good to see Samsung thinking outside the box here.

6
0

Call yourself a 'hacker', watch your ex-boss seize your PC without warning

Tannin

AC posted: "You're better off focussing on Battelle, not the "backwoods courts". Try googling (then searching archive.org) for "Battelle litigation fraud", for instance."

Thankyou for that. I learned a lot. This article - http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20131022/13260324972/govt-contractor-uses-copyright-fear-hackers-to-get-restraining-order-against-open-source-developer.shtml - was very useful.

18
1

Microsoft wants to 'move beyond' the Cookie Monster

Tannin

Yes.

Or, in more detail, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

20
1

Google holds its nose, lets the hoi polloi run PHP on its shiny cloud

Tannin

But why?

But why would anyone want to use Google for something every other host has offered and still does offer since Adam wore short pants? What is the point?

1
1

Ballmer intends to remain on Microsoft board after end of CEO gig

Tannin

Get rid off the dead wood

Microsoft has made one terrible decision after another these last ten years or so. Vista, borking their cash cow Office, Win 7 only a half-good product bringing nothing of consequence to the table that wasn't already there in XP - in reality, the main reason for the success of Windows 7 was that it wasn't Vista -and then the monumental stuff up that was Windows 8. meanwhile, the company continues to loes bucket loads of money on blind, brute-force-stupid attempts to break into things it has never been any good at, such as search and telephones and tablets.

The first step to getting better is to admit you have a disease. Never in the history of computing has a company so desperately needed new, competent management. Hell, forget "competent", *any* sort of new management will do, 'coz even Bling Freddie could do better than Balmer's crew.

Just bring in someone new and get rid of the failures, OK?

3
1

Bill Gates: Yes, Ctrl-Alt-Del salute was a MISTAKE

Tannin

Re: Ignore the obvious choice

Joe User : Was there something wrong with using the SysRq (System Request) key? It was the obvious choice, and that key has been around since the PC/AT days.

jaywin: That's used under Windows though.

This was 1981. Windows did not exist. DOS ruled. The dreadful first release of the Windows operating environment (i.e., a type of DOS application) came along just before 1986, and it did not become truly usable and widely popular until v 3.1 in 1992 - 11 years after the standard IBM keyboard was first manufactured.

3
0

Revolting peasants force Wikipedia to cut'n'paste Visual Editor into the bin

Tannin

Fixing where the problem ain't

The reason the number of volunteer editors is dwindling has nothing at all to do with the editing system and everything to do with the bureaucratic nightmare pricktards from hell who relentlessly harass good-faith editors with real and valuable knowledge to contribute; harass them until they just give it up and go elsewhere to work on some other cooperative project where their co-workers actually *cooperate* on the task rather than maniacally defend their own petty power trips.

And yes, I made thousands of contributions there, but that was many years ago and like so many others I won't ever go back unless they deal with the real problem instead of being so absurdly blind to it that they invest thousands of expensive man hours in a technological "cure" for completely the wrong disease.

Get a clue, Wikipedia administrators: it's not the technology. It is you.

10
0

Redmond slips out temporary emergency fix for IE 0-day

Tannin

Re: Why bash IE? This would be a non-issue if you configured your browser proper.

You can go on denying IE's long and unglorious history of massive problems till the Arctic has finished melting - and you probably will - but the brutal reality is that IE has more problems and it has bigger ones.

Is it possible to reduce IE's high risk factor by reconfiguring it in various expert ways? Of course it is, exactly as it is possible to drive a grossly unroadworthy car with extra care and (mostly) avoid bad accidents. But practically no-one out there in the real world has the ability or the knowledge or the time or the motivation to perform those tweaks of yours. With real-world people, the most you can hope for is that if you nag them often enough they might eventually learn to say "yes" to basic stuff like browser and Flash Player auto-updates and "no" to other stuff unless they know what it is and avoid replying to mail from that nice general chap in Nigeria or opening zip files attached to the warning from the FBI.

It is not "childish" to criticise the worst, least secure browser on the planet. It is downright stupid to defend it despite the overwhelming mountain of hard evidence showing that it is by far the worst mainstream browser product. Further, it is grossly irresponsible to encourage your users to browse with it when there are at least four well-known, well-supported, demonstrably safer products readily available.

0
2

Page: