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* Posts by chrisf1

73 posts • joined 2 May 2012

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Epiphany hits Raspberry Pi founders, users

chrisf1

If you are teaching physical computing and have some way of programming the microcontroller that's sort of true enough. However that then means multiple computers. As an all in one the Pi is impressive and this makes tinkering on a connected pi much easier and means you only need give access to one device.

Also more device increases complexity and connections and more time is lost handling that in a class room.

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Pay to play: The hidden cost of software defined everything

chrisf1

They would certainly not be OSI compliant - http://opensource.org/osd numbers 5&6.

However restricting use of open source has been done

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tivoization.

It cannot be done purely in open source software to my knowledge but can be done in combination with other software, hardware or service contracts. It can also be perfectly reasonable to do so if deviating from the restriction would create a liability somewhere else in the supply chain or cause issue with the procured services or for example invalidate audit and sampling processes.

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Loss of unencrypted back-up disk costs UK prisons ministry £180K

chrisf1

ooh the irony

Ok so fining the Ministry of Justice has a nice ring to it but how does fining a tax funded organisation help exactly?

Is the relevant Select Committee going to ask pointed questions?

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Vampires and Ninjas versus the Alien Jedi Robot Pirates: It's ON

chrisf1

Re: Insects will boss them all

Still a bit 'macro'. What about bacteria and viruses?

Given the debate one feels carrion eating fungi might be included as well as the cockroaches.

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Microsoft C# chief Hejlsberg: Our open-source Apache pick will clear the FUD

chrisf1

Linux related technologies was the point... a modular structure for a transmitter and a mobile station not exactly Linux is it?

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How practical is an electric car in London?

chrisf1

Re: What happens when we reach "peak electric car"?

Yep - exactly what happened to the lower taxation for diesel fuel. Oh and then they ended that and put a 3% surcharge on diesel use for company cars.

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Measure for measure: We visit the most applied-physicist-rich building in the UK

chrisf1

Re: This is scary

The chilli in the cricket club on the grounds used to be quite good too. Wonder if it's still there. My abiding memory of working in the Turing building was that the entire building resonated when Concorde flew over. At a frequency just below a telephone microphones ability to pick. Led to some peculiar phone conversations. Sadly I believe the building along with Concorde is no more.

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Greenpeace rejoices after getting huge renewable powerplant CANCELLED

chrisf1

Re: And who will not be happy

FoE once tried to get the UK to ban glass recycling. They were supporting a naive banning of lead on a simple parts per million basis from the Packaging and Packaging waste directive with no regard to its perversities.

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Cloud computing is FAIL and here’s why

chrisf1

Re: Sorry, but you are incorrect Alistair.

@Mage Have a reference for that condiition or any evidence? That's a de facto lock in clause and severely non policy compliant.

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Teardowns confirm $1,500 Google Glass hardware is DIRT CHEAP

chrisf1

Commoditisation of a new platform

All good points if the intent was an Apple like premium consumer product play. However if the intent is to take whichever elements of the Google Glass development work are compelling into new platform/services (ie advertising and data capture) it does suggest that it can be done at commodity like pricing rather than premium. In turn it proves that Glass derivations are viable as a platform play.

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Spain clamps down on drones

chrisf1

Re: Reminds me of Ian Banks

Yes, Many European countries are based in this system - also known as Napoleonic codes. However this is often balanced by allowing the Judiciary greater interpretative and 'common sense' powers in more junior courts. By comparison our more permissive common law allows little flexibility to do more than follow the letter of the law below the High Court.

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

chrisf1

Simples

Shall we just rechristen IoT as 'The Subnets of Things'?

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Slash tuition fees for STEM students, biz boss body begs UK.gov

chrisf1

Economic signalling

I suppose attracting more students by paying more was also part of the discussion ... no?

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Hey, MoJ, we're not your Buddi: Brit firm abandons 'frustrating' crim-tagging contract

chrisf1

Re: IPR policy

The policy was last I looked where the IPR could 'best exploited' (dangerously not defined as either exploited for the economic good or for minimizing public expenditure and TCO) and generally that will be the producer simply as Gov has no IPR licencing practice nor tracking process to detect infringement.

However that was implemented by standard clauses that left the default as the IPR being owned by the procurer often with little or no distinction as to the types of IPR (existing, foreground, residual etc). Its still knocking around as the default in many departments.

In part this happened as Gov made some simple mistakes like procuring reports that it intended to publish whilst the provider thought it was creating a private consultation report which it would resell and when they noticed there work being sent out for free were rather miffed.

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UK citizens to Microsoft: Oi. We WANT ODF as our doc standard

chrisf1

@James51

Probably worth making that comment about epub on the http://standards.data.gov.uk/proposal/viewing-government-documents entry. Probably more suited to that.

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chrisf1

Re: Open Source Means Choice

a data/document format != a software application

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chrisf1

The difference between open standards and open source

It is not really about open source, it's about a making a choice of standard. ODF can be implemented perfectly well in both open source and proprietary - a defining characteristic of an open standard. Indeed MS document their support for ODF, http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/word-help/differences-between-the-opendocument-text-odt-format-and-the-word-docx-format-HA010355788.aspx .

Training and document conversion is a bit of a red herring. Whatever they standardise on they will have some transformation costs and support for any key exceptions - equally the would have to train to make the average user understand the different file types , associations and extensions if they did not choose. Document conversion is probably overstated, most documents are ephemeral or new versions of old and that can be handled relatively easily.

Rather more of an issue is the weaning off of management by spreadsheet and other uses of extended (standardised and non standardised) functionality - both to improve fidelity and interoperability but also to make mobile solutions easier.

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G20 gives Google, Microsoft, Apple et al tax deadline

chrisf1

Re: Looking for a new round of fat brown envelops

Your approach to the rich and powerful would appear to include anyone with a pension plan

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chrisf1

G20 actions

Still missing the point really. Tax codes are complex - our simple one* is a mere 5000** pages.

A multinational will have to comply with every such tax code, and no guarantee of consistency. Blaming companies for contrived tax affairs is a bit like blaming the cup cake for its shape.

So:

1) Simple and consistent codes.

2) Profits should be taxed where economic activities deriving the profits are performed and where value is created. Now apply that to a software R&D lab (that's at least tax deductible anywhere in the world, often super tax deductible in the UK - not least as countries would rather be a locus for highly qualified, highly paid people who you know pay taxes) . The software is created in one place and profits and economic benefits of use elsewhere on either sale or use.

3) Ireland is not in the G20 and has a different approach to taxation - attract employment, tax employees.

Solve 1) , 2) and 3) simultaneously.

Anything that is not legally minimising taxation is by definition voluntary - and companies do a lot of voluntary and charity work and support around the world. CSR, 1%'ers whatever. Giving more money to taxation authorities is of course one of the worst ways to effectively achieve the desired objectives***. Nothing stops employees and shareholders doing the same , and again many do give to charities and more.

If you tax at a 'moral' rate then you have all sorts of non objective analysis on tax matters that will again by definition be discriminatory and imposing unpredictable judgements, further disincentivising investment.

Of course it can't be the G20 finance ministers fault, oh no must be those nasty companies that er provide most of the employment and tax revenues any way ...

*it must be , we have an Office of Tax Simplification and they say it is.

** after amending, redefining and dedupe, actually you may have to comply with up to 17,000 if you have any historical compliance.

*** according to Keynes

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chrisf1

share holder value

Or you could maximise profit and return to shareholders and they can make their own judgement on how much extra tax they pay? On top of you know their dividends and realised equity gains being taxed.

Annoying the tax authorities should not affect the behaviour and judgment of an objective civil servant should it?

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French youth faces court for illegal drone flight

chrisf1

Interesting times

Given the massive price drop on quadrocopters with cameras should be interesting times ahead.

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How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up

chrisf1

Why NESTA and who else?

An interesting issue here is why go to NESTA in the first place and were any 'real' VCs approached and what did they say.

Whilst NESTA has a track record of talking up its endowment and not much about its actual investments, they were ( at least then before the conversion to charity, may have changed but I still see them as too overtly following the political zeitgeist) always going to have the political and bureaucratic issues of a public sector body. The UK was absorbing about half of all the VC funds in the EC at the time iirc.

A real danger of talking up state investment is the drowning out of other approaches. The state is almost by definition a funder of last resort ( unless it is funding for its own consumption, then its a supply side intervention) if there is a business case a business should be doing it. If it is too long term, too radical or too subject to regulatory risk or that the economic dividend is too dilute then there are good reason for state involvement but this does not seem to be in that category.

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Patent law? It's all about Apples, Newton and iPads

chrisf1

Early warning

Possibly worth pointing out at an early stage that the IP intervention is a *lot* tighter than any public good. Even in the weakest patent system it must at least be novel (so Newton is way out !) . More generally equations and mathematics are not patentable anywhere, only an application derived from them could be.

In the better systems* its only a novel technical effect, leaving most of the pragmatic debate on how to set the the threshold for patentability (in particular of course where technical effect is delivered via an innovation delivered in software), how to ensure a proper review and proper disclosure.

*so not the ones who were once caught defining prior art as *only* anything already patented in their own system ....

Would be interesting to know if there is a decent analysis of the various different patent systems around the world and their effect their differences have on both their domestic and overseas markets.

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Will small biz get a bite of mega UK.gov IT pie? Yes: if it can pass the bulls**t sniff test

chrisf1
Thumb Up

Re: old wine, new bottles

Awesome list.

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Virgin Media to hike broadband prices by nearly 7 per cent

chrisf1

hmm

I'd rather some basics were attended too. Having little choice I went with a 60mb connections as I'm a long way from the exchange so adsl was getting too poor for HD streaming and BT had no fibre as I'm not luckily enough to be in one of those rural areas that get the attention (SE London - no fibre ...).

I went for 60mb as much to get the new superhub as reviews said coverage and reliability were better but it still needs regular rebooting - at least once a week - for which it has no automatic option. Nor many other features one would expect in a basic router firmware. Slow to reboot too.

Reliability and service are OK - had a few outages but comparable to DSL but I'd rather that was improved before higher speeds.

Speed is ok - I normally get over the 30mb on testing.

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Leveson: My Whingers' Charter™ is PERFECT, you impudent MPs

chrisf1

Expertise in interpreting law isn't the same as expertise in setting public policy or making law!

'Because his conclusion was based on his own expert knowledge of the law: that was all that was needed.'

This is a traditional and often lucrative mistake for the legal profession and those that use them.

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Panasonic throws in towel on plasma tellies, preps for BILLION-dollar kick in pants

chrisf1

Re: Tough as old boots

Agreed - at least for me my plasma is superior to LCD and the only issue i have is i want a bigger plasma screen.

Note to the TV industry - I want a *screen* from you as other people do everything else better for far less money. Leave the 'smart' to them. Leave out the spurious electronics and i'd have a few more screens by now.

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Open source 'Cubesat' set to soar

chrisf1

why 'futile'

Seems a harsh word to apply to this project?

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Buy a household 3D printer, it'll pay for itself in MONTHS!

chrisf1

Re: Spoon holder...

A ceramic spoon rest? I think i have a whole set. I call them plates and saucers ....

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Google Chromecast: Here's why it's the most important smart TV tech ever

chrisf1

Pocket money prices

The ability to share web sites is a boon to me alone. If it means I can actually find things on netlix by avoiding the PS3 version even better.

At this price I'll get one - which I find interesting as nothing else discussed in this arena has been of much interest since I bought a PS3 (simply as a Blu Ray player at the time) and a PVR many years ago which between them mean I've had to connect a PC to my dumb plasma screen exactly once in a decade or so.

I suspect Google have been rather smart and are using to boost their ecosystem by aggressively driving a market to commodity prices.

I suspect by the time its integrated into other devices (will watch for a release as a reference design) and simply purchased the aim is to make it a difficult platform not to supoport. Amazon/lovefilm pay attention!

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Sky falling: 119,000 Brits flee O2, Be after Murdoch broadband gobble

chrisf1

After years of excellent service although not competitively priced and with somewhat dodgy routers, sadly the Sky take over was winning in the race for FTTC for me so its cable for me too. Although in fairness its as much BT failure to update my street cabinet and i've given up waiting - its due in the next year - just like the last two years.

Sky apparently have a wonderful offer for those moving over - but that meant talking to another human being over an already entirely unnecessary phone call to cancel and apparently email is beyond them. A need for more than 5 Mbps plus some outages this month nailed it. They did kindly say they didn't need the bebox returned - but have now sent me an email saying they do. Guess somethings they email, somethings they don't.

Still cancelling the BT line was even more fun as the texted a telephone number to my landline to confirm 'cancellation charges' . When I rang it turned out that i needed to talk to someone else instead as they couldn't do billing issues. Still not sure why i needed to talk to anyone.

Note - by the time I've canceled i've er... canceled. If you'd like to make me an offer stay do it preferably before then by you know, being competitive, and in writing and not only on the phone in office hours.

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Offensive, iconoclastic internet trolls will NOT be prosecuted, says DPP

chrisf1

Re: where's the line?

my face as the origin, presumably your mum is higher up the scale then.

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When to say those three little words: 'I am quitting'

chrisf1

'a clear sign is an increase in the formality of the way your work is assigned, in emails or even bits of paper, rather than simply being asked.'

Whilst true enough the comparison with the civil service made me laugh. Getting something with 'pl dl' (please deal) was a backhanded compliment in that it meant you were 'sound' enough not to require a 'steer' on how to handle the task.

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Raspberry Pi DUMBS DOWN to target world+dog

chrisf1

Re: SD Cards, @DJ 2

@MrXavia

Out of interest what do you see as the advantage of Pi over say Arduinos when a school already has computing facilities?

Is it just easier access to physical computing via the likes of Pi Face or the multi media capabilities?

Just wondering as was setting up some simple demos for a class (am doing really simple things with primary school lower years without anything programmable so just putting demos together to show the next stage up as it were) and I can almost get to give away toys with arduinos if i bulk buy arduino minis and Pi seems like overkill to all but the most advanced project although i have not made any comparison of eg Pi Face vs scratch for arduino.

PS not knocking anything here - more advance connected projects and near disposable multi media Pi wins hands down but if not needed basic microcontrollers come in about a fifth to a tenth of the cost.

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How to save UK's open data: Meet the 'Fair Value Licence'

chrisf1

8/10 - further work required

Generally I agree but Phil Lord's point is also accurate. Ideally you'd like value identification/creation to ramp up without being bogged down in the negotiations that his scenarios would create if a cut were required. Much of the public interest benefit is non - financial as Phil Lord also notes

The current licensing is naive in a number of other ways too.

It has no 'off' switch - if any use of the data is considered against the public interest - eg combining with other public data sets or FOI requests to break privacy it cannot be withdrawn. For relatively static or stable data (postcodes!) that's an issue with political backlash.

It doesn't encourage feedback - there's no benefit in providing data correction nor service improvement information back into the public sector - often there is not even a feed back route.

The other side of the equation is that public sector is not incentivised to properly document the data providence, accuracy and collection methods that define its meaning nor improve the data quality and quantity (eg sampling rates, accuracy more data fields, frequency of release).

I'd suggest a revocable free licence (possibly underpinned by regulation in case of abuse to take it from civil to criminal) whilst allowing the creation of a more privileged/engaged user group that returns some value - payment in cash or in kind, couldhave guaranteed access (so 'approved') and sharing the costs of data improvement.

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Applicants sought for one-way trip to Martian Big Brother house

chrisf1

Space Cadets 2?

I know I'm cynical but is this actually the first move in series 2 of Space Cadets?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Cadets_(TV_series)

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You know how your energy bills are SO much worse than they were?

chrisf1

Osborne to scrap a revenue source?

'Ironically perhaps, it's fairly plain that nasty old chancellor George Osborne - widely reviled as the oppressor of the poor - if left to himself would scrap the unfair, stealthy green energy taxes which hit the less well-off so much harder than the rich and have left so many poor folk shivering through the recent hard winter.'

Not convinced - one of his first acts as Chancellor was to turn the already appalling CRC cap and trade that refunded to those that best game played the league table* into a straight tax thereby doing what most involved already thought was impossible - making it worse.

Removing the credits and grants and keeping tax/levy revenue is what he has done, everything else is only words albeit in support of items like rules rather than whim based CCAs.

*hint use as much energy as possible in the baseline year and don't invest early ...

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Roomba dust-bust bot bods one step closer to ROBOBUTLERS

chrisf1

Re: great - but bring on the garment recognition

A washer drier is pretty close. One load of basic grey clothes in your life gets you the rest of the way. Doing the ironing though is a real challenge!

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France demands Skype register as telco

chrisf1

Re: Follow the money?

The generic issue for VoIP (no idea where Skype is at with the normal best efforts solutions to these problems) with a gateway to the telephone system is that without an additional input the system will call and locate you to the emergency operator as being at the location of the gateway. This has been a particular concern for domestic sales aimed at replacements to the normal POTS (plain old telephone) and there have been reported incidents in some countries of emergency services being routed to the wrong state.

It also the reason most offices have emergency red phones on the wall and VoIP in the lift is a bad idea as the corporate exchange may be somewhere else entirely.

Any know state of the art here as to best efforts solutions? I'm a little out of date.

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chrisf1

I doubt it. The issue here is offering for the sale in the market - there is no provision or exclusion in the EU directives for resellers or systems integrators. If a member state has provisions that require notification of operation and fees then not doing so is illegal (but may be either civil or criminal). Real fun starts if anyone tries a cease and desist and which other MS are watching.

I suspect its not a tax either - as Skype profits in France would already be covered (or not) and not changed by this but the administrative fee that Member States can set to allow operation for any electronic communication or network service in the EU. It can be disproportionate as it is allowed to be a small percentage of revenue rather than profit- not sure of the exact fees structure in France any more.

Interception and emergency call support (as well as power over the line too) are generally part of each member states general authorisation for public telephony operators. Definitions of public vary but as Skype offers paid for services to the general public and connects to POTS it will probably be covered as an electronic communication service and therefore subject to any required notification and fees structure - the higher requirements for public or POTS competitive systems will depend on the exact wording of France's general authorisation.

BEREC and all the National Regulators have had long discussions over whether VOIP is subject to their overview and, despite the fact that the directives are explicit on voice services, they have tended to have a hands off approach for those that were self provisioned, closed user groups and similar and where they are unlikley to be used as a primary phone and picked up for emergency services. The growing tendency for default hand set support, telephone number connections and chargeable services as well as regulated operators concerns would suggest this will be watched in all of the EU 27 with interest.

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BT to slap overalls on 1,000 new bods in fibre broadband boost

chrisf1

Re: Can't come soon enough

this may be relevant http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/07/uk_rainfall/ ....

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chrisf1

Re: Execellent

Yes - its take openreach two years after the original date to ready my exchange only to find that in the two years someone else has installed services where they were going to put the street cabinet. Oh how I laughed when I dug that out of the openreach online systems that BT retail and BT customer services said they couldn't access.

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Official: Sky to buy O2 and BE's home broadband product in £200m deal

chrisf1

Re: Aaaaaaaaaaaargh!

Seconded. BT appear to have handled my complaint over misleading dates for my area - next three months for over two year in that sparsley populated area known as south east London - by pulling the date entirely and giving a range of reasons as to why it might be someone else's problem. Inquiries lead to a run around of people in BT who seem unable to communicate with one another or access data. Attempts to use the BT website lead to pop up and a conversation that directs me to customer service because apparently they aren't customer services. They keep implying it may be my councils fault without actually confirming it - and that's plain nasty.

Will saty with BE until the results of the takeover but owing to distance from the exchange its not brilliant at about 6mbps but BE have been reliable and helpful. At this rate I'll end up with an LTE mifi.

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Look out! PEAK WIND is COMING, warns top Harvard physicist

chrisf1

Re: Makes no sense to me

Stand behind a skyscraper on the opposite side of the prevailing wind direction ...

They aren't saying it does more than a fixed structure but that it affects the density with which you can harvest the wind energy.

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chrisf1

Only if by quick you mean 10,000 years or so with fission alone.

http://www.mcgill.ca/files/gec3/NuclearFissionFuelisInexhaustibleIEEE.pdf

Ok more conservative estimates give 3000 years or so but I'll take that level of breathing room to get something better and more resources including off planet.

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Microsoft: Office 2013 license is for just one PC, FOREVER

chrisf1

Re: i don't normally double post on a topic but...

This oddly points to the subscription I wish they would do for consumers. A modest annual fee for a properly supported and evolving operating system. I will - eventually - find that my Win XP partition stops being of any relevance - its already vastly reduced.

I'm very unlikely to buy another one from them, especially as the pricing structure and upgrade paths available actively puts me off as it penalises the choice of staying a version behind the bleeding edge and becomes increasingly hard to do maintenance and run my system as I would choose.

Oh well more experience of cross platform applications it is then if you insist Mr Ballmer! I'll spend the money on an Android tablet instead.

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BT to end traffic throttling - claims capacity is FAT

chrisf1

Re: A nice lady rang me up the other day...

BT infinity (FTTC) - coming to me in next three months - just like the last eighteen months or so! I need to move out of London for a better connection...

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Help us out here: What's the POINT of Microsoft Office 2013?

chrisf1

Re: SkyDrive?

Still not quite. You can transfer data without issue in the EU+EEA regulatory regimes and in safe harbour countries or use contractual processes to safe guard data out of the EU. The EU have published model contracts. http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/document/international-transfers/transfer/index_en.htm

So as long as the contract between the parties is sufficient to protect the data you can move the data. Makes sense as the issue is really about protecting private data not its geographic location. However its geographic location even in the EU will affect what level of legal interception is allowed and what level of due process is required to release such data to the various authorities that may ask for it.

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Hm, nice idea that. But somebody's already doing it less well

chrisf1

The examples of this are endless. I once talked to a VC who pencilled in the combined inertia of competition, consumer education and regulation as requiring non-green field investments to show a 1-2 order of magnitude of improvement (combined out of better, faster , cheaper) in the lab. By the time the various hurdles had been inefficiently overcome it would still need to be at least twice as good to beat the incumbent advantages. I'd also factor in a decade or two as well.

There is another subtly I've noticed over the years that is even harder to pin down - the approach and attitude of regulators who are often interpreting the law to guide their actions. This can be good - the UK removed the prohibition on 'commercial' use of free spectrum like 2.4Ghz rather quickly because of basically a good ability to talk to non-obvious stakeholders. It can also be bad when new environments mean people don't expand beyond their existing network despite changing times. The early days of TV without Frontiers that became the AVMS directive comes to mind.

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Search engines we have known ... before Google crushed them

chrisf1

Re: Wot no WWWW?

Quite - the World Wide Web Worm was revolutionary in its day. Not sure if it was the first although it was the first I was aware of but a major omission.

The role of the early search engines in providing functionality to the web would be more interesting though. Still seems forgotten in many of the semantic web debates today.

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