* Posts by fung0

225 posts • joined 29 May 2012

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Microsoft’s Continuum: Game changer or novelty?

fung0

Cunning Stunts

If Microsoft could have pulled this off with Win32 applications, it would have been truly impressive. Doing it with a whole brand-new type of app - essentially, with a whole new OS (UWP) - is neither impressive nor particularly useful. It's just a stunt.

Compare what Google is doing with Android N. With expanded mouse-and-keyboard support, and the ability to display multiple apps simultaneously, Android will soon be able to do what Continuum promises. But it will be bringing along the entire gargantuan galaxy of existing Android apps. Hence, much more than just a stunt.

Bottom line: Google is steadily expanding the reach of Android, increasing flexibility in device support. Whereas by pushing a whole new type of app (ironically named "universal"), Microsoft has decreased flexibility and user choice.

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Windows Phone dives into irrelevant-like-BlackBerry territory

fung0

Re: Not surprising that...

LDS: "If Elop was a Trojan Horse, what is Nadella? The Grim Reaper??"

The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse.

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fung0

Re: Microsoft

serendipity: " The alternative seems to be use Open/Libre Office and use a UI from the 90's..."

What's wrong with the UI from the 90s? At least it was designed with usability as the primary goal, as opposed to uniqueness and lock-in. Not even Microsoft's internal testers liked the Ribbon...

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Windows 10 needs proper privacy portal, says EFF

fung0

Re: Lobby for new/updated privacy laws instead

Boothy: "Wouldn't the EFF be better lobbying for legal changes instead of targeting specific vendors? (Or do both?)."

EFF fights on many fronts. What would make you think this was some kind of either/or situation??

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fung0

Re: Disk 1 of 2079?

My first experience of Windows was running version 1.0 on a dual 5.25-inch floppy-drive PC (not XT) clone. I can't recall exactly, but it was something like 6 or 10 swaps, maybe more, just to boot to the desktop. But Reversi made it all worthwhile!

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fung0

Re: MS made me download software...

Charles 9: "'"Is the software that you are using the only possible thing that you can use?'

For many, YES IT IS. Well, either that or the alternative is such a pain to work with as to be impractical."

That's a very negative exaggeration. The alternatives exist, at varying stages of usability. It won't be all that long before we'll start to see superior alternatives on Linux. (I'm sure Mac users will tell you they already exist on that platform.)

* The Steam Linux library is growing fast. Developers are 'crossing over' in large numbers. Have a little patience. Rome wasn't built in a day - and neither was Windows. (Last year's games are always somewhat disposable, anyway. What matters are next year's hits...)

* For graphics, the GIMP is poised to overtake Photoshop within the next couple of years. Also, Creative Cloud is a pain in the butt, while GIMP and InkScape offer an escape from that kind of stupidity. RawTherapee and darktable give away very little to Lightroom. Bear in mind, also, that the Linux equivalents I mention are all free (as in both speech and beer).

* LibreOffice can't replace MS Office for every task, nor be 100% file compatible with it, but it's pretty obvious that LO is improving steadily, while MS Office looks worse with each new release, buckling under the conflicting marketing imperatives being dumped on it. (BTW: "editors" don't want Word files, they want plain un-formatted text - which you can create using anything from VI to your old CP/M copy of WordStar.)

* Firefox and Thunderbird are already identical on every OS. They may not be everyone's choice for Web and email, but they show how easy this transition can be.

Bottom line, yes, there's still work to be done. Or, to put it another way, there's still boundless opportunity for enterprising software developers - something that's been sorely lacking for a decade or more, under the MS monoculture.

Anyway, it's not like Microsoft has left us any choice.

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fung0

Re: That EFF document is a solid gold reference

Charles 9: "It's called a Captive Market. Where are people going to go when the business software, games, and so on, run on only one operating system? It's hard to jump ship when there's no life preservers and no other ships handy to pick you up."

This is exactly why the EFF report is so important. MS needs to be called out on its offenses, as publicly as possible. This has two benefits: a) it increases the (admittedly slight) chances that MS might modify its tactics for the better; and b) it helps mobilize and prepare the public for a change it doesn't t yet realize would be extremely positive.

At the same time, it's important for expert users to build those 'life preservers' or 'other ships' to pick up where MS sank to the bottom. The technical problems are all solved. All that remains is a PR battle. We need to: a) use Linux; b) tell people we use Linux; and c) help people understand just how easy the transition can be. We also need to support the many ongoing efforts to make Linux more approachable, more of a complete replacement for Windows. Valve's SteamOS, for example: it has a long, hard climb ahead of it, but (unlike Windows) is headed very much in the right direction.

It takes a lot of effort to turn something the size of the global computer market, but it has happened multiple times already. (Otherwise, I'd be typing this on a 64-bit CP/M machine.) Like everyone else, I was a happy Windows user, until Microsoft demonstrated unequivocally that it wasn't competent to be the standard-bearer any more. Now it's too late, the change is coming - might as well help it along.

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fung0

Re: That EFF document is a solid gold reference

AC: "For a long time MS have had the gamer market sewn up due to DirectX only being available for Windows. Microsoft are continuing to push their DirectX technology through the Xbox one, and Windows 10, but that may not be enough any more. Sony and Valve are pushing Vulkan instead, and increasingly importantly Vulkan works on Android too."

It's interesting to note that the biggest PC game release of the year (so far, anyway) - No Man's Sky - uses OpenGL, not DirectX. I guess Hello Games didn't care about cross-compatibility with a distant runner-up in the console wars. There's lots of room for complaint regarding the gameplay in NMS, or the lack of QA, but the choice of OpenGL is very telling nonetheless.

Total must-have DirectX 12 games, after 13 months' availability: ~0

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Adblock Plus blocks Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook block of Adblock Plus block of Facebook ads

fung0

Re: I do occasionaly visit Face Book.

I've received numerous email invitations to FB pages from public-spirited organizations, including major environmental groups - and even some privacy-focused 'civil liberties' groups! (They also use commercial mailing services, coded tracking links, and every other dirty trick you can imagine.)

I usually respond by pointing out that there's more than one fight going on. It's great that they want to clean up our Planet Earth ecosystem, but that's no reason they should be helping pollute the online ecosystem. I add that there are plenty of free, open and privacy-respecting alternatives.

So far, not one group has agreed.

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fung0

Re: When will people learn...

...and a higher premium to not be tracked?

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fung0

Re: Back to reality for a moment........

David Roberts: "Dedicated Commentards may well pay a subscription to El Reg; I would. However there is a limit to how much I am prepared to pay per month for Internet content."

AdBlock guesstimates that a regular visitor (like a Reg reader) is worth about 1 Euro per month in ad revenue. The amount would be higher for services like FaceBook.

Would I pay that much to the handful of sites I use heavily? You bet! (In fact, I've already sent contributions to a few.) The one caveat: it has to be easy. But there are schemes in place for this, like Flatter. The Reg could lead the way, run it as an experiment.

The ad industry's greatest success has been in convincing us that ads are necessary, even inevitable. They're not. And business models do change. Cars threw blacksmiths out of work, and the Internet has shut down a lot of newspapers. Now it's the ad parasites' turn.

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fung0

Social Contact

lorisarvendu: "Insulting people who use a site for social contact by posting on a forum which is also used for social contact. The irony of the human race."

The real problem here is that an essential service - "social contact" - has been privatized and monopolized. As Max Schremm has pointed out, it's as if the telephone were controlled by a single global monopoly.

What we need to do - urgently - is to declare 'social media' to be an 'essential service,' and therefore subject to open standards. Then, say, Google, could offer it's own FacePalm site, which would differ from Google+ in that it could freely exchange posts with FaceBook (or any other 'social media' service). Users would then have a proper choice. They might pick a paid service, for instance, and see no ads.

Until that happens, consumers turn to companies that can only partially compete - like AdBlock, which offers to take over security and usability, on which FB is clearly failing. Fortunately, the same legal freedom that created the FaceBook monopoly in the first place now protects those new companies' ability to nibble away at it.

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fung0
Holmes

The Way Forward

VinceH: "With you on the no information to advertisers - but ads I'm fine with provided they meet certain criteria..."

Funny thing: if FB were willing to commit to a few of those criteria, AdBlock would whitelist them and the whole battle would just go away. In fact, most users wouldn't be turning to ad-blockers at all, if the ad ecosystem hadn't been allowed to become a polluted mess.

Guys like Zuck like to call AdBlock "extortion," but AdBlock whitelists are first and foremost based on "Acceptable Ad" criteria. Whether Eyeo (the publishers of AdBlock) would demand some extra payment from a behemoth like FaceBook once it had met the Acceptable Ad criteria is something we may never know, since those (entirely reasonable) criteria have never been met, and likely never will be. FB may verbally disparage obnoxious ads, but they won't willingly give up the option of profiting from them.

That unrestrained greed is the root of their problem.

Much smarter, for FB and other services, would have been to embrace AdBlock, and realize that this company was offering to provide them with a valuable service. The quickest way to clean up the ad sewer would be to work with a third party like AdBlock (or others, given that the filters themselves are in an open format). Ultimately, someone will have to take on the task of vetting the ad stream. Users can never trust FB (or its ilk) to do it - there's just too much of a built-in conflict of self-interest.

My prediction: it will happen.

We'll first see major sites embracing some sort of Code of Standards, which will in essence be the AdBlock whitelist, but under their control. This will fail to deliver, and users will continue to subscribe to third-party whitelists. Then, finally, the big Internet players will realize that they need an impartial watchdog even more than their users do.

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Adblock Plus blocks Facebook's ad-blocker buster: It's a block party!

fung0

The Logic of Self-Interest

Doctor Syntax: "The money is in it for the advertising industry for showing the ads. If they really wanted to do something for the advertisers' profits they'd follow the following line of reasoning..."

I once spoke to a spammer on the phone - back when they were stupid enough to put a phone number in their email promotions. He literally screamed at me (from his poolside deck-chair in Florida) about his absolute legal and moral right to bombard me with adverts for penis-enlargement products.

The online ad industry today feels at least as entitled as that guy did. Check this article from the CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, the big online-advertising trade group:

The Ad Industry Needs to Disrupt the Disruptors

The author refers to ad-blocking as "robbery, plain and simple," and an "unethical" "extortionist scheme." And (oblivious to irony) he compares those promoting ad-blocking to gangster Tony Soprano. We, the consumers, clearly do not have the right to control what we see, on our own hardware, via our own Internet connection, if said control interferes in any way with the advertising revenue stream.

The online advertising industry truly is laboring under the delusion that they provide an indispensable service - as opposed to enjoying a pot of gold provided purely by an accident of history and contorted capitalist economics. When confronted by ad blocking, they rant and rave much like the content companies do about piracy - forgetting that content is something that consumers actually want. Warmed by their obscene profits, they've convinced themselves that advertising is an inescapable law of nature, that "advertising helps the economy function smoothly," "keeps prices low" and generally makes everyone happy.

Introducing any workable direct payment system will pop this bubble. When content providers start seeing any other revenue stream, the ad industry will shit a brick, then swiftly fall over itself finding excuses for why its ads suddenly need to be much less aggressive, and much more tightly vetted for safety. That's the logic of self-interest, the only logic they understand.

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fung0

Codysydney: "And as for El Reg, I would be a supporter and turn the ads on, but the first day I did that I got an autoplay video about NOTHING AT ALL from IBM in the middle of a story. So ABP went straight back on."

I won't allow ads on my (my!) system, as long as a single piece of malware has been delivered that way in the preceding decade.

However, as soon as The Reg starts supporting Flattr or Flattr Plus, they'll start seeing revenue from me. I can't imagine why they haven't already done it. (Unless maybe it violates their deal with some of the ad providers they use.) I'll support these mechanisms not just because I value the content here, but more importantly because Introducing any sort of direct user support into the ecosystem will put the fear of god into the ad companies. (Who currently think they are the Gods of the Internet.)

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Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that golden backdoor keys are a terrible idea

fung0

Securer boot

phuzz: "x86 machines always allow you to modify the Secure Boot settings, as long as you're "physically present". It's only locked on ARM devices..."

Really? What about this:

Windows 10 to make the Secure Boot alt-OS lock out a reality

"Microsoft says that the switch to allow Secure Boot to be turned off is now optional. Hardware can be Designed for Windows 10 and can offer no way to opt out of the Secure Boot lock down."

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fung0

Re: Surely you don't believe the "security" excuse?

EFI isn't the same thing as Secure Boot. As to whose idea it was... hard to tell, given how closely MS and Intel work together. Both EFI and Secure Boot probably emerged from some joint committee process.

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fung0

Re: Unless this is a deliberate mistake?

John Smith 19: "Never ascribe to a plan what simple incompetence can adequately explain."

Especially in the case of Microsoft. Not that they don't have endless little plots... but none of them rise to anywhere near the level of cleverness that this leak would have required.

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fung0

Re: RE: This is refreshing to hear.

allthecoolshortnamesweretaken: "What we have now is basically 1960ies stuff on speed, and a lot shinier, but still nothing revolutionary different from what Johnny von Neumann* dreamt up** in the late 1940ies."

Maybe that's all we ever really needed?

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Breaking 350 million: What's next for Windows 10?

fung0

Re: It's not all bad

Cereberus: "It's not all bad."

Now there's a ringing endorsement for a brand new OS, with a 2-digit jump in version numbers.

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fung0

Re: Deja Vu

Recent NetMarketshare.com stats, based on what's actually being used online:

* Windows 10 = 19%

* Windows 8.x = 10.5%

* Windows XP = 10%

* Windows 7 = 49%

The Windows XP segment isn't going to shrink very quickly. It clearly consists of users (or applications) that are happy as they are.

Windows 7 still has more (active) users than all other versions combined. These people have relatively new PCs, but didn't want Windows 10 when it was free. They're now going to make a shift only when a new PC purchase can't be postponed any longer - and even then, are likely to reinstall Win7, or jump to Linux.

The Windows 8 holdouts are even more interesting. If Windows 10 couldn't woo them, what will?

Hitting almost 20% in one year is pretty good going for Windows 10, but it's hard to paint it as a resounding victory.

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fung0

OS Futures

Doctor Syntax: "At some point H/W manufacturers may either move to Chromebooks or the like or get together to fund development of an alternative OS, maybe based on Linux, BSD or possibly ReactOS which they can control."

I've tried Chrome, and it probably has its place. But I think Android N may be an even stronger contender. I'm sure there's a reason Google has been adding desktop features like windowing and mouse support. Many consumers would probably like the idea of running the same OS - and apps - on their desktop as they do on their phone or tablet.

This is probably the 'nightmare scenario' that Microsoft tried to forestall with its awkward Continuum feature. Unfortunately, it's a lot easier for Google to make Android run comfortably on generic PC hardware, than for Microsoft to make Windows run on its own smartphone hardware. Still worse (for MS), Google can bring along its entire base of existing Android apps, while Microsoft could only make the stunt work for a tiny number of new-fangled UWP apps.

Likely future: for casual users, Windows Home gives way to Android N; for power users, Windows Pro is replaced by GNU/Linux. PC games shift to SteamOS, and the console world remains divided, with Steam Machines making gradual inroads as the economics of the open, generic PC architecture erode the cost advantage of proprietary games boxes.

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fung0

Re: Windows 10 a hopeless muddle

TonyJ: " I do sometimes use it for gaming and as it has a DX12 card in it, I can use this feature which isn't available on any other OS."

After a full year of availability, there isn't even a handful of major game releases for DX12. I've yet to run into any game, major or indie, that I can't play just fine on Windows 7. I'm also playing more and more games on Linux, courtesy of Steam.

So what use are you actually getting from this "feature" of Windows 10, that "isn't available in any other OS"?

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fung0

Re: Pacman & cancer

Hstubbe: "I've been trying to get hibernate to work with windows for weeks now. Ms is giving *no* support at all, nlames the hw vendor. Hw vendor blames ms."

I've lost count of the number of MS support threads I've seen marked "Resolved" by the administrator - but which have continued to accumulate pages of comments, sometimes for years, from users who say the MS fix hasn't worked. In many cases, the recommended fix boils down to some generic boilerplate, like "reinstall Windows," or "try turning your computer off and then on again."

Linux jumps that low bar without breaking a sweat.

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Microsoft: You liked Windows 10 so much, you'll get 2 more in 2017

fung0

Re: Just can't fathom what Microsoft is trying to do

I agree with your diagnosis, but I'm not sure firing Satya is a cure. Most of what he's doing was started by Ballmer.

The real problem is that without a strong Gates in charge, whoever runs Microsoft is at the mercy of the quarterly stock report. Everything MS does these days is meant to look brilliant in the short term, because the long term simply doesn't matter to a CEO who'll be gone and spending his bonuses before it starts to matter.

A secondary problem is that Microsoft has fired (or otherwise lost) a lot of its best, long-time people over the past decade or so. (I used to visit the Redmond 'campus' regularly. Up till the early 2000s, even their marketing dweebs spoke fluent C code. The current crop can't speak coherently about product features, let alone the underlying technologies.) The corporate culture has become fragmented, and there's longer any ability to execute the increasingly complex strategies that managers like Satya dream up.

In short, Microsoft has become just another soul-less, amoral corporation - but, luckily, also an incompetent one.

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fung0

Re: Ample is as good as a feast

So you're the person who desperately wants to run the same UWP apps (all 12 of them) on their PC, (Windows) phone and game (XB1) console?

Wow. You should be under glass at the Smithsonian, or the British Museum.

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It's time for a discussion about malvertising

fung0

Re: I don't block ads

I agree about scripts - there's no way I'm giving some unknown organization out in cyberspace permission to run software programs on my system. Calling them 'scripts' may sound nice and friendly, but they can still forget it.

But the fundamental problem with ads is that 99% of sites don't want to deal with them. They just sign up for a service, and the money comes rolling in. They don't see the ads, and in fact can't check them even if they wanted to - because they're 'personalized,' no two people will see the same ones.

The change has to come at the ad-industry level. And they won't change until they get scared that the goose is about to stop laying those platinum eggs.

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fung0

Re: "The ad networks see no percentage in ensuring clean ads"

Pascal Monett: "Someday someone will come up with the concept of Trusted Ads, and that one will take the market."

Ad Block Plus has had a 'Trusted Ads' system for some years, under that very name. It's referred to by the ad industry as "extortion," and by disgruntled users as a "sell-out."

The truth lies somewhere between. It's a worthwhile move, but only a very early one. When the number of Web surfers using ad blockers rises from its current 10-30% to, say, 50-70%, the ad industry will shit a brick and suddenly fall all over itself to clean up its act. Until then, it has minimal incentive to police the vast amount of content it serves every nanosecond, through a system that includes dozens of companies.

Check this 'infographic' - if you haven't seen it before, it will scare the pants off you. It shows what happens every single time someone looks at a Web ad:

LUMAscape

That's a big industry, and it's not going to change its ways just because a few people complain.

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fung0

Re: One weird trick...

I expect that all online activities will need to run in VMs pretty soon. But I'm also hearing about attacks that can actually break out of today's more common VM prisons. Doesn't look like there's going to be any easy exit from this arms race.

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fung0

Re: "I can't pay $12/month for every one of them"

A far better solution than Blendie would be Flattr, or Flattr Plus, which allow users to set their own total budget, which is then split automatically among the sites they use most. The existing Flattr (co-founded by one of the creators of the Pirate Bay) lets readers use a button on each participating site, in order to allocate funds. Flattr Plus is in development, a partnership with Adblock Plus, and allocates funds automatically (using analysis performed on the user's system).

The nicest thing about Flattr is that 90% of the money goes to the site, the remaining 10% combining Flattr's profit and any fees to payment processors. The 30% 'Apple tax' rate is far too high for this sort of service. Apple operates a store, whereas here we're talking about simply doing a bit of back-end accounting for sites run by independent content providers.

Flattr FAQ

Flattr Plus

There are obvious concerns with privacy, but I think Flattr may have the commitment to do it as well as it needs. Better yet, if this type of model catches on, I can't see any reason there couldn't be many overlapping monetization schemes operating simultaneously, offering different degrees of privacy - and, perhaps, setting different types of profit-sharing.

If nothing else, even moderate success of alternative monetization schemes - including Flattr, Blendie, Patreon, or whatever - would create a strong restraint on the activities of Web advertisers.

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Don't want to vote for Clinton or Trump? How about this woman who says Wi-Fi melts kids' brains?

fung0

Re: Would you really want to take the chance?

If people want to vote "strategically," they should at least try to apply some real strategy, and not merely short-term tactics.

In each US election, the choices have gotten worse and worse. The way to break that cycle is to create a surge in the popular vote for third-party candidates like Stein. Even if they don't win, it will build public confidence, and finally put one of them in position to take the next election.

People need to vote out of hope, out of conviction, for the candidate they really want. It's the only way. Otherwise, in four years' time, a new Trump will be offered as "the lesser of two evils," up against someone even worse. The cycle only ends when the voters decide to think ahead. Fearlessly.

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fung0

On the other hand...

The good news is that this kind of shallow disinformation wouldn't be getting seeded to gullible journalists if someone wasn't scared of Jill.

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fung0

Re: Just another distraction.

cray74: "No food is so thoroughly tested as GMOs before they enter the food supply..."

Ah, that old straw-man argument. How quaint.

Of course, the real concern with GMO foods is not that they're individually toxic to humans. It's that they're allowing corporations, motivated solely by short-term profit, to manipulate the most vital part of our biosphere in drastic, unprecedented and poorly-understood ways.

We've already seen possible negative results, as weeds become increasingly resistant to Monsanto's Roundup. We've also seen entirely inadequate justification for the whole GMO approach, as evidence continues to mount that smaller-scale, lower-tech farming could probably feed the world more effectively, with less risk of a substantial ecosystem collapse (as we've seen in the bee populations).

The impact on our environment has not been "thoroughly tested." In fact, it's hard to imagine a really thorough test that wouldn't take many decades, given the complexity of the problem. In any case, when the entire testing system is massively controlled by vested interests, a little skepticism isn't unwarranted.

"And she puts an anti-nuclear plank in her campaign platform."

And, with Fukushima still spewing radioactive waste into the Pacific ecosystem, that's a bad thing? While truly safe nuclear power seems theoretically possible, it's impossible to pretend that the nuclear power we now have - a system, again, regulated directly by those who profit from it - is even remotely safe. Most reactors are operating beyond their original design lifetime. Nuclear fuel is being stored on-site, because we still have no plan whatsoever for long-term disposal of spent fuel that requires constant, active cooling to prevent explosion.

Insurance companies won't touch nuclear projects. Why? Because if the wind had been a bit different, Fukushima would have made Tokyo uninhabitable. As it is, the expense of cleaning up that one mess will probably wipe out any conceivable cost advantage of all nuclear projects so far, worldwide. Just how much more of a warning do we need? At the very least, the regulatory framework needs to be torn down and rebuilt with sane lines of accountability.

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fung0

What Kind of Journalism is This?

..."foxes are guarding the chicken coop" when it came to vaccines, and that regulatory boards are "routinely packed with corporate lobbyists and CEOs."

"Like any medication, [vaccines] also should be – what shall we say? – approved by a regulatory board that people can trust."

"We make guinea pigs out of whole populations and then we discover how many die. And this is like the paradigm for how public health works in this country and it's outrageous, you know."

This article tries to paint Dr. Jill Stein as some kind of crackpot anti-vaxxer, but the only direct quotes it offers, like those above, utterly fail to support this contention.

Expressing skepticism about the corporate-controlled mechanisms of public health is a very, very long way from saying that kids shouldn't be vaccinated. Expressing concern about very young kids spending too many hours in front of computer screens, instead of running around the schoolyard, is not necessarily a disparagement of the wonders of the Internet. When we know beyond any doubt that the medical system is being subjected to unprecedented corporate influence, suggesting extra vigilance is not paranoia.

I've watched many hours of Jill Stein's presentations and interviews. I've never heard her say anything that wasn't rational and based on well-accepted facts. Her platform is based on concerns that are simply not open to question any more, though they might have been labeled 'conspiracy theories' a few years ago.

Basically, Dr. Stein wants to slash the vast US military budget - clearly a sensible move, given that it has long exceeded that of all other countries combined - and put the money to work creating a 'green new deal' that would rebuild the decimated US middle class while weaning the US off of fossil fuels. On the evolutionary scale, that puts her about 100 million years ahead of war-mongering Wall Street employee Shillary, or fear-mongering fascist Trump - in fact, a very long way ahead of most candidates for most leadership posts in most countries around the world.

Cherry-picking and misinterpreting a few chance comments is not only shoddy journalism, it's a low sort of character assassination - in this case targeting a person who clearly doesn't deserve it. If you want to disagree with a candidate, do it on the issues, and leave the gossip-mongering to Fox News. I thought the Register was better than this.

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Windows 10: Happy with Anniversary Update?

fung0

Re: You missed a lot

Not sure why I'm getting thumbs down but here is another great feature:

* Continuum: wirelessly project a continuum-compatible Windows Phone on the screen of a PC and use its keyboard and mouse. Really useful for urgent tasks/emails without messing with the computer of a host.

I gave this a thumbs-down because: a) like 97% of the world, I don't have a Windows Phone and never plan to get one; and b) even if I did have a Windows Phone, I wouldn't use this feature. In fact, I'd much prefer a mobile device that would simply attach as storage via USB, but Microsoft doesn't like to make things that simple. So Continuum is more of an 'antifeature,' for me.

Many Windows 10 'features' are like that. They're absolutely terrific... as long as you look at them through Microsoft-tinted glasses. If you don't buy into the complete package, they're painful.

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fung0

"Man files"...???

I've got three systems on Mint, and I've never read a Man file. I have, however, "spent hours searching the net" trying to fix all sorts of Windows issues over the years.

These kinds of criticisms are way out of date. Linux today has different kinds of issues than Windows, but I'd say on balance it's actually a little easier to support - mainly because it lacks 'features' that deliberately try to get in your way. (Like activation, for a start.)

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fung0

Re: Polishing a turd

This is the most damning criticism of Windows 10 - it creates disruption without corresponding benefit. I'm still on Windows 7 not just because I prefer the look and feel, but also because Windows 10 wouldn't let me get my work done any faster, or easier, or in any new way.

Back in the early 1990s, Microsoft talked a lot about ROI on its new Windows releases. The best you can say about Windows 10 is that the ROI isn't too negative.

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fung0

Re: And over here we can see the Linux user community...

IsJustabloke: "Adobe don't do unix so I'm *never* going to be using a linux machine..."

The comment about Adobe is fair. Lack of Photoshop in Linux is a serious problem, and I say this as a huge fan of (pre-cloud) Photoshop. However...

1. GIMP is a very slick piece of software, which lacks just a couple of key features that would give it parity with Photoshop. (Adjustment Layers, for instance.) Implementing these presents no major technical challenge. The GIMP team has been focused on a major internal rebuild (making the application more open and extensible). That's mostly complete, putting GIMP about two or three revisions away from not merely equaling, but surpassing the core feature set of Photoshop - which, after all, hasn't changed in a decade or so. Once that happens, a free, open, standards-based GIMP+Linux workflow will start to look very attractive indeed, and Adobe's overpriced cloud will begin to deflate.

2. As for Lightroom, that battle is already over. Check out either darktable or Rawtherapee. Lightroom is slicker, to be sure. But the core functionality is available in Linux, for free, today. This is the trend: one by one, keystone applications are being reproduced in open, Linux versions. The process may be slower than we'd prefer, but it can't be reversed.

By the way, I see pro-Linux comments being flamed - apparently by people whose affection for Windows 10 is too fragile to allow for any challenge. Sorry, but comparisons are fair and very relevant. Microsoft holds the high ground in the OS war, but it's rapidly losing the battle in feature parity. This needs to be pointed out, discussed and understood. (If Microsoft understood it, they could still avoid defeat.)

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Windows 10 Pro Anniversary Update tweaked to stop you disabling app promos

fung0

Re: I Don't WANT To See the Outer Limits

Thanks for that blast from the past! One of my favorite shows of all time... and that classic VO intro definitely seems relevant today.

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fung0

Re: You should go right ahead and upgrade

"Are most people really lame enough to use an operating system that installs programs you don't want without even asking you?"

So far, all we know is that some are. The jury is out on most.

However, omens such as the miserable failure of Windows Phone, the mediocre response to the Windows 10 giveaway, the languishing sales of the Xbox One, the near-total nonexistence of DirectX 12 games, the crickets chirping in the Windows Store - all tend to suggest that Microsoft's Master plan is a very long way from being a rousing success.

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fung0

Re: FAIL!!!!

magickmrk: "It seems to be be getting more and more intrusive over time and makes me wonder where it will stop, if at all. Think I'll look at Linux or a Chrome Book!

Why not look at both? Most ChromeBooks will let you wipe Google's weirdo cloud OS and install Linux. The hardware is usually generic Intel, and tends to be a way better value than a Windows laptop. There are instructions all over the net for 'upgrading' most popular models.

Personally, I'm loving my MintyBook. Boots Mint 18 in 15 seconds from power-on to login prompt. And lets me do everything I'd have wanted to do with a Windows laptop. Even runs Minecraft reasonably well...

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Free Windows 10 upgrade: Time is running out – should you do it?

fung0

Re: am i the only one resisting this

"The Win10 forceware..."

Forceware. Absolutely brilliant term. Adding to my spellchecker immediately.

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fung0

Re: am i the only one resisting this

AegisPrime: "Apart from DX12 there's no compelling reasons to switch from 8 to 10..."

No matter how often this is repeated, it remains a completely fallacious talking point. After almost a year in full release, DirectX 12 is still seeing negligible support from game developers, large or small. Performance gains are debatable (greater on AMD, apparently), and certainly not as great as you'd see by simply installing a newer graphics card.

Meanwhile, Vulkan has become a serious alternative. It offers pretty much the same benefits as DX12, but without the increasingly painful vendor lock-in of DX, and with the ability to reach a vastly larger number of devices.

We can debate the theoretical merits of DirectX 12 technology, but to cite DX12 as a compelling reason for installing Windows 10 is simply to highlight how utterly unnecessary Windows 10 really is.

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Microsoft ordered to fix 'excessively intrusive, insecure' Windows 10

fung0

Re: I've said it before

soulrideruk: " I have no problem installing Mint, nor any problems using any of the applications that come with Mint. The problems are only with packages I have downloaded and installed, you know, things like Steam among others.

Mint 17.1 (I think it was) installed nicely on my ChromeBook (after I applied the requisite BIOS hack to boot directly into the OS of my choice). But I had to update various system components - including the kernel - in order to get all the devices to work. This process was well-documented on the Net, and went quite smoothly. Now the touchpad works, the touch-screen works, everything works. It's a great little laptop.

I recently tried to do the same on a second, identical, ChromeBook. Mint 17.3 installed perfectly, but couldn't see the Wi-Fi properly. Nothing I could do would fix the problem. After wasting many hours, I finally gave up. But when Mint 18 came out a couple of weeks later, I tried that. It installed quickly and flawlessly, with no extra configuration required. Everything just worked first time. On top of that, Mint 18 boots faster than any other Windows or Android device I own, even on the under-powered Celeron system. I've installed various applications from the Software Manager, including Steam. Given the limits of the hardware, undemanding games feel right at home.

My point being, Linux is a work in progress - and the progress is very real. Unlike the 'progress' we're seeing in Windows, where it's one step forward, two steps back. (Or sideways.) Windows has never been able to install perfectly on every piece of hardware, every time. I've even seen Windows laptops come right from the store in a non-functional state. Overall, I'd say Mint is already easier to deal with than Windows 7, and vastly more tractable than Windows 10 - the first OS that's literally been engineered to get in the user's way.

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Star Trek Beyond: An unwatchable steaming pile of tribble dung

fung0

"...That's because the script originally had nothing to do with Asimov or his stories..."

I'm not aware of this background, but I'll take your word for it. However, the story as filmed does hinge rather neatly on Asimov's three laws, so I felt it was a worthy homage to the author. The film's key observation is that true intelligence in a robot could be recognized - or maybe even defined - by its ability to violate the Three Laws. That's pretty deep for what is basically an action movie.

"the CGI robots and the way they moved and looked appeared *really* fake, even by the standards of ten years ago"

Actually, the fluid motion of the robots is a key feature of the story, and works extremely well in making them scary. These aren't your Robbie the Robot clunkers - they're physically far superior to humans in every way. That seems like a pretty reasonable extrapolation. Any technology capable of building an anthropomorphic robot of this sophistication would surely give it mechanical capabilities to rival its mental ones.

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fung0

Re: Nahh, the old Star Trek was for nerds...

"Stop whining about what makes other people happy you miserable old git."

I couldn't care less what entertains the kind of mindless, nutless, soul-less moron that would enjoy the current Trek reboot films. What I do mind is when those morons usurp a franchise that I care about, one that has long stood as a bastion of intelligence and compassion in a wasteland of overblown fantasy epics masquerading under the trappings of space opera or actual SF.

In fact, the demolition of Trek has been so thorough, I have to believe that it was malicious. Someone decided that the public didn't deserve a show that might lead it to think of higher things. A series that might speak of a brighter future, and how we might achieve it. So they took the Trek tropes and drove them relentlessly down to the lowest level of stupidity. That's offensive, no less than spitting on someone's flag.

You want dumb, go ahead and create your own brainless franchise, instead of deriving some kind of sick pleasure from demolishing one of the few intelligent ones. Trek has been taken away from its fans by the schoolyard bullies, whose highest aspiration is spoil what they can't understand or appreciate.

I console myself with the realization that these Trek films will come and go, but their eager audience will remain sub-human, forever locked out of the treasure-house of great art and visionary ideas.

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fung0

Re: Nahh, the old Star Trek was for nerds...

The real key to the greatness of Star Trek TOS was the show's emphasis on actual SF ideas, driven by a ground-breaking use of actual SF authors for scripts. I can't think of another continuing (non-anthology) series where you might have seen an accumulation of names like Sturgeon, Bloch, Brown, Spinrad and Ellison. The show also gave a start to some great new writers, most notably David Gerrold. Even Dorothy Fontana, the in-house script editor, ended up turning in some excellent work.

The early Trek movies tended to hit a much lower standard, but at least paid lip-service to the original tradition. Meanwhile, the TV sequels continued to emphasize intelligent writing - with challenging SF ideas in STNG, and really strong political drama in DS9.

By comparison, the recent Trek reboots have been consistently bereft of intelligence, drama, or even basic logic. They make the Transformers films look like works of genius. I can only hope that the upcoming Trek TV series won't be able to get away with that kind incompetence, going up against the really strong SF/fantasy/superhero series we're seeing these days on Netflix, HBO and elsewhere.

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fung0

I am amazed at the narrow-minded hatred for I Robot - a really good action-SF film, with Will Smith doing a fine job as the hero, beautifully supported by Alan Tudyk as Sonny, the philosophising robot.

No, the film doesn't follow any of Asimov's stories. But it does expand on Asimov's Three Laws in a very intelligent way - more than intelligent enough to support what is essentially an effects-driven action film. It's not like Asimov's writing was all that magical, either. His ideas were great, but his writing tended to be pretty dry. (Recall that he wrote a future history of the human race, in three thick volumes, without including even one female character. We're not talking Tolstoy here - or even Tolkien.)

Apart from its other virtues, I Robot (the film) is the best warning ever against the dangers of automatic updates. It's a very sharp observation, especially coming so many years before Microsoft's current cloud-based software coup d'etat.

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Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware goes FULL SCREEN in final push

fung0

Re: Games

CHarles 9: "Given the history of OpenGL, and the fact DX12 provides a two-fer (WIndows AND Xbox One, the PS4 IIRC uses a custom library not affiliated with Vulkan), I doubt it. OpenGL couldn't overtake DirectX then. I don't think they'll do it now, especially given how long Valve's been trying to push Linux gaming to try to push Microsoft off the pinnacle...without success (in fact, several developers have sworn off Linux development due to difficulties)."

This is a very superficial view.

* Adding Xbox One to Windows 10 still doesn't give you anywhere near as big a market as adding Windows 7 to Windows 10. Then throwing in Linux (including SteamOS) and Android.

* Xbox One is currently getting killed in the console market, largely because Microsoft keeps promoting it with 'features' - like media support, or Windows 10 compatibility - that have nothing to do with gaming. I doubt there's anything that will let it catch up with the PS4 at this point.

* As I've noted earlier, even after Windows 10 has been a year on the market, there are still only a tiny number of DirectX 12 games. Time was, Microsoft would launch a new version of DirectX with some great showcase titles day one. Now, we're seeing no major support at all. This leads me to wonder if developers haven't been holding back, waiting to see how technically viable Vulkan will be, given its obvious market advantages over DirectX. (I haven't head about developers swearing off Linux, but there are always "difficulties.")

* Valve has not been pushing Linux much longer than Microsoft has been pushing Windows 10. They've already vastly increased the base of Linux games, helped promote the rise of Vulkan, and pushed hardware companies to improve their Linux driver support. They've also encouraged a lot of gamers, like me, to try Linux, and to discover how great it feels to be free of Microsoft's eternal BS.

* Linux is already a vastly superior platform for everything but games. There's none of Microsoft's obfuscation and DRM to make troubleshooting a hellish process. No annoying attempts at lock-in, with non-standard file formats or UI alterations (the Ribbon, Metro, Charms, etc.) or cloud services. No advertising. Given the privacy concerns in Windows - which Microsoft's closed-source approach cannot fully allay - many governments are looking at a total shift to Linux. Businesses are supporting Windows based mostly on momentum, but that could change any time, given that Microsoft is only going to double down on its current ruinous strategy.

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fung0

Re: Games

All your games so far run on Windows 7. But if Microsoft makes any headway with DirectX 12, you'll soon be forced to install Windows 10.

Fortunately, Vulkan is coming up very strongly as a superior alternative to DX12. The dearth of DX12 games - even a full year after the release of Windows 10 - gives me a great deal of hope. I'm not eager to change my working OS (yet again), but the way Microsoft is behaving, we need to have that option wide open.

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