425 posts • joined 25 Jun 2007
Made a special trip outside the US to renew my US visa (because for whatever reason even when the paperwork is approved you still have to leave their border to get the stamp) and had my Consulate interview last week.
So the US Embassy now has my passport and because they're totally opaque and unaccountable I don't know if I'll be able to travel as planned or stuck here (with my daughter) racking up unexpected bills and - despite being a tax payer there you're not really wanted or represented - no-one seems to be doing a good job of caring or communicating. Starting to wonder if they know how to update their website to add a status notification...
I wonder how long before someone (or several someones) decide that because Facebooks emotional manipulation caused bad result X (do it poor work review, break up of a relationship, feeling bad about themself) it's time for a class action suit or similar, and Facebook get dragged into court. Totally bogus and pretty pointless but at the end of the day the problem is Facebook has got so big and brash that it doesn't think the rules apply to it any more...
if the choice is for my taxes to go to paying Vets what they have fought for vs boondoggles for MPs and Military Contractors to spend millions on things that don't protect anything buy a company's bottom line ... hell yeah, give them to the folks who served and are paying the price.
longer term we need to look at why we are engaging in military action in the first place ... we're not Team America, World Police (don't get me started on those clowns) and we're not longer the folks who can paint 3/4s of the globe pink and put fly the flag ... so when we're off helping "liberate" oil for BP lithium and other minerals for vested interest can't we at least charge them and stop pretending it's about peace keeping or democracy
not sure if the 63* is based on the same hardware as the X (looks very similar).
In the US (at least on T-Mobile) that piece of kit (which is surprisingly nice since the firmware update) doesn't support faster speeds on the network (no 4G/LTE) and no 5Ghz wifi. Personally never had a need for dual SIM but it's neatly done
That said, I've been using the X as my weekend device (smaller, much more pockabable and the battery lasts really well) so if the 630 has similar capabilities (and the more robust WP) I could see this being a pretty solid device.
sadly app.net never seemed to really gain traction except for a very small circle of folks. I like it, but compared to Twitter it never really offered anything new, and I know more folks using G+ than app.net so there's no real incentive to check it more than once a week or so.
that said, Twitter is in the process of re-defining itself and I'm liking it less and less so maybe app.net just has to hang on until the time is right to do a Facebook to their MySpace...
so I used, and really liked, my Lumia 800. Sadly it didn't get the upgrade to the shiny goodness of later Windows Phone releases so I jumped ship (many of the apps I wanted were available on WP8, but all of those devices were bigger than I wanted). Now I'm using an Android device and while it's okay I still miss my Lumia (especially Here downloadable maps and decent Email/Calendar integration)
I did try the Nokia X - Android dressed up as Windows Phone in a package virtually identical in size to the Lumia 800 (thought the corners on this new thing are ridiculously sharp) and though I liked the form factor and the bits of the UI skin that worked the thing was horribly slow and the screen resolution kinda reminded me of playing Chuckie Egg.
I really hope the merger does well. Windows Phone is the underdog, and that's where Microsoft does best. It also stops Apple and the Android ecosystem from relaxing and that rising tide raises all ships
So the only thing it's going to take for 2014 to finally be the year of desktop linux is ... hordes of XP using grannies to suddenly migrate.
Despite the fact I'm about to get down voted into oblivion I don't think that's going to happen. As a desktop OS the various flavors of Linux all have nerd chic and, once you get over the learning curve are just as good at hosting a browser as Windows they're still largely lipstick on a pig. A powerful server centric pig, but a pig none the less.
Until we see a consolidated effort to make a Linux experience simple and straight-forward (if I have to drop to the command line and type in arcane commands to install or upgrade an app... most GUI users are going to scream and hide) or the major game vendors treat Linux as a first class citizen it's just going to continue to lag. Of course it you want a nice *nix-based experience then just upgrade to a Mac ;)
I hope as part of this they finally fix the horrible Lync/Communicator thing ...nothing more annoying than an IM client that falls over several times a day :(
vast forests... those things we're busy cutting down for housing estates or to raise mutant beef to feed the satanic mills of the Golden Arches?
How many MPs have opted out?
Re: "don't pay tax, get no votes."
given that in the US the individual vote is largely worthless, and the county is effectively governed by sponsored career politicians and the lobbyists who grease their palms it sounds like all he's proposing is formalizing the current arrangement. Oh the cynicism.
at least it's open to peer review
the cynic in me had assumed that what would happen is if a dev bundled this library it would automatically copy the data to Facebook's servers for analysis ("and as a great service we offer a secondary backup of your data!") but the fact the code is open to review at least comforts me that nothing nefarious will slip in so it's a step in the right direction.
it's not us, it's the evil Androids
sadly with Facebook and their like benefitting from this shitty permissions model they're not going to put pressure on Google to improve the way it works.
I had a ramble about this earlier this month when I noticed the permissions for Facebook getting steadily more invasive for no apparent benefit - http://post.offbeatmammal.com/2014/01/14/why-i-uninstalled-facebook-and-your-app-might-be-next/
Nokie bring two things to the party
Hopefully Microsoft won't buy the phone biz form Nokia then ignore the two things that they can bring to the equation...
first... is the reputation for building rock solid devices that run for days on a charge (how many jokes feature a Nokia in the "Chuck Norris" role!)
secondly... is their engineers who have been coming up with pretty smart stuff both for their traditional lines but also building on top of Windows Phone.
Let these guys take the helm, or at least heavily influence the direction and pace when they're one big happy family and I wonder if next Christmas won't bring a very different landscape
not just webview...
... it looks like the changes in KitKat are messing with layout in the email client as well :(
fixing the wrong problem
the name is the least worrying aspect of that horrible piece of software
more worrying... the HO only knows about 1598 migrants?!
I put this together a while ago for a fairly non-technical friend who was having issues with an ex... works pretty well, though I do encourage them to keep a backup of any documents that matter in the cloud as well - http://post.offbeatmammal.com/2011/05/19/building-a-safe-and-portable-way-to-get-online/
bad data and terrible security
Given the range of data that these guys are collecting, and the total lack of real security - DoB and last four of Social Security Number seems to be it, and then no password allowed on the account... you log back in with your email address and last four of SSN
So bad data, visible to pretty much anyone who wants it
trailer looked okay
but then again that's probably every decent bit from the movie rolled into one bait'n'switch up-sell!
Re: Nice idea for Smashung HOME button too...
doesn't need root, and the app has to be installed and configured to perform whatever actions you choose on the button press so ... if you had that level of access to the phone already you don't need to plug something in and install an app to cause mischief...
Re: "Yes, a physical shutter button for the camera!"
funnily enough ... it's the one think I've missed hugely since going from my Lumia 800 to the Nexus4 ... that physical button is a huge benefit.
Before the iPhone I remember my Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x devices had the ability to set what a short or long press would do on pretty much any of the buttons (and they had copy'n'paste!)
I like that Pressy have come up with a pretty cheap solution for the phone you have now and probably a couple of generations (face it... headphone sockets are probably not going away any time soon) so unless Google lock down the APIs like on iOS to block this it's actually not a bad thing to have (and yes, I have ordered one!)
Re: Something not quite right..
that article is talking about a gas explosion and a cigarette... are they one and the same story, or two different ones?
great PR for over priced vapourware
I have to say at $800 it wasn't an impulse buy (even with the price drops along the way). Compare that to, say, a new known commodity like a Nexus4 for $299 or even the bright Orange ZTE Firefox OS phone for $80 (crap phone plus unknown viability) and I'm impressed that they got the interest they did.
My 2c is that maybe it would be cheaper to aim for a ROM image on some existing hardware to prove the OS and *then* a v2 with all the bells and whistles on a new platform. I'm sure HTC would love someone else to cling to while they try and work out how many variants of the One they can produce until their own engineers go insane trying to differentiate them!
the lesson from this...
Govt entities should not be allowed to manage large, complex IT projects. When has it actually been a success?
I was all excited when I heard HSBC was going to implement two factor ... until they sent me their little dongle which I keep losing! why they couldn't have gone with something I can run on my phone (oh, like Symantec VIP or Google Authenticator)
then they keep pushing McAfee (quite why I would ever want to do that to myself again) and Trusteer (a vague hand-wavy promise of security) ...
not to just pick on HSBC though.... there has to be a better way to secure and verify access from an end-user computing device to a server
vote (with your wallet)
the answer to, at least some of, this problem is for the UK to vote with it's wallet on the issue.
for Govt contracts to only be awarded to companies who staff projects in the UK and for UK businesses to follow suit or at least insist on the equivalent standards - just because you can get three bodies for the price of 1 doesn't mean they're going to be as productive (or even capable of understanding the question they're being asked - ESL adds a layer of cognitive dissonance that can see things go horribly off the rails)
the problem is ... then you have to look at some of the historical mess that is employment legislation and taxation to try and help make it competitive to onshore and then it all starts to fall down... that's hard and politicians don't like to do anything that's either hard or going to upset the people who line their pockets for short term agendas...
If you've not read this... it's interesting reading http://www.businessinsider.com/business-and-the-economy-2013-7
as an ex denizen of the Microsoft Redmond campus... it's in daily use there, and since leaving MS I've noticed the quickest way to spot a fellow former member of the SteveB army is listen out for that word in a meeting!
off topic but reflects the culture
for many years, on many different machines I've tried to run Linux and join the happy chanting brethren. Server hasn't been too bad, but desktop... well, that's never been a smooth path so I've reached out for help on various distro forums - in the getting started and after reading and spending several times longer that I'd have to struggle with Windows. what do I get for my troubles? abuse, told I'm a noob and that I should be able to sort it out or pointed to esoteric instructions which after I waste more time deciphering don't help... and which point I'm told that either I'm stupid and can't follow simple instructions or that I obviously hadn't asked the right question.
why do I raise this? because that attitude seems to stem from Linus down. So now my servers are either Windows VPS or Google AppEngine, and my home machines are Windows or Mac ... every machine I've attempted to run a Linux distro on has reminded me why I don't like some aspects of that community
morally right or wrong
no matter what you think about patents and their validity (in this case it's probably over broad) the issue here is about Google obeying the law or pressuring a tax payer funded organization to ignore a valid court decision.
the only "good" outcome from this is for he whole legal framework to be review but until that happens commercial organizations should not expect to be able to reach backroom deals with enforcement agencies to ignore the courts and the rule of law ... where does that end?
so far, so good.
I've not upgraded my primary Windows instance (running in Parallels on a Mac mainly so I can use Office) but I've been playing with 8.1 on my old testbed machine (actually the laptop from PDC back in 2009!) and it's certainly an improvement.
As someone who's pretty old school (I started before this new-fangled colour screen nonsense!) I actually like the search approach to finding an app - I use spotlight on the Mac pretty much as my primary launcher (not having to take my hands off the keyboard to switch apps is great) and I have to say perf and stability has improved even in this preview.
Re: Can you still use web mail and save it in the drafts box?
given that most of the providers are rolling over and sharing whatever is asked of them I have to assume that draft folders (as well as things like Google Docs or Dropbox) are also no longer particularly safe places.
Something like HushMail may be a little more reliable but who knows.
The problem is unless you have total faith in the provider of the storage mechanism and the integrity fo the channel from you to it... then balance the risk accordingly.
Even if the system you use is in a different country you don't know that they're not "cooperating" with local authorities and then simply sharing the gathered intelligence as part of a cross-border exercise.
It scares me when paranoid fantasies turn out to be real... and scares me even more that nothing will happen as a result of this in any of the countries where it's discovered to be happening :(
VP9 may be in the same boat
at Google IO this year there were a couple of - very impressive - VP9 demos. The advances in the codec (the math and the application of math) were, in the demos at least, quite significant and compared to where H.265 is today it was easy for them to make some bold statements... but when pressed on silicon adoption for mobile chipsets (for instance) the vague hand-waving began (my favorite was "it shouldn't be needed because the codec is so much more efficient") but the upshot was that no-one has committed to hardware decode in a SoC package yet... and while I'm not aware of an H.265 implementation in a SoC yet yet you have to assume given the track record of H.264 if a silicon vendor was going to take a bet on two fairly similar technologies they're going to make their initial focus the MPEG-LA aligned one ... and to be honest, as a content provider I'd prefer to see one clear winner (just as I'd like to see MPEG-DASH tidy up this mess of adaptive bitrate solutions)
Re: Amazing, Holmes
Skype also works on OSX, iOS, Android and others, and shows no signs of going away.
My biggest worry about this is that they'll kill off Lync like they killed Messenger and force Skype - with it's far less capable IM features and bloated UI - in to take it's place. While I wasn't a fan of the whole Hangouts thing I find myself using it more simply because I dislike Skype so much as an unobtrusive IM client
though why you'd want to is beyond me!
great article. many moons ago I used to work "next door" in CenterPoint and from my (sometimes alarmingly swaying) window I looked out onto the Tower and wondered what mysterious things happened there.
I did go to Black Mountain in Aus (another revolving restaurant on a telecom tower) as well as CenterPoint in Sydney, Sky Tower in Auckland and the Space Needle in Seattle so I've had my fill of revolving dinners ;)
I agree with this
while I am a small sample I agree with the findings...
I'm on my second Mac Book that primarily runs Windows (I need OSX for testing and some dev but spend half my time in Windows) and it's significantly less troublesome than other machines around the house and office (Vaio, Lenovo and Samsung laptops and Asus desktops).
When I got my original Mac I assumed Boot Camp was going to be a half-arsed kludge but I have happily been proven very wrong and Win7, and now Win8 are quite at home on the, admittedly more expensive, hardware.
Re: The welsh lobby
"A lot of people simply don't realise that in some parts of ... not only is the first language ... but a good proportion of people ... have difficulties speaking English." ... I can think of many places in England where the same is true today (including anyone under the age of 17!)
Re: Cal me thick, but...
Isn't London riddled with underground sewers and access tunnels anyway (after all, you don't want common people cluttering up the streets) ... surely a bit of planning (okay, a lot of planning) would let a lot of this stuff move underground.
Where I am in the US at the moment they moved all the cables (power and telecoms) underground thanks to weather related outages (and luckily it coincided with some much needed roadworks), and in some cases even the (admittedly smaller) junction boxes ended up flush with street level but when they need to work on them the guts get raised up to street level
the smell of fear
as the operators come to realize that they are just dumb pipes they frantically try to become relevant again, but they're too busy fighting amongst themselves and trying to design solutions by committee at the same time so it's hardly a surprise when the very focussed Apple and Google are able to get an end run around them on their own turf
If they want to be anything other that plumbing they need to get their house in order and make life easier for developers and stop trying to confuse customers with a never ending cavalcade of line items on a bill ... as a user I'd avoid operator billing like the plague simple because it makes the changes of something getting screwed up with my bill even higher!
how about they bring Skype up to par?
I love Skype as a video chat client, though it's ever expanding and bloating UI seems to forget it's just that... a chat utility... not a full screen app that I want opening a dozen windows, reading me the news and fetching my slippers
And much as I hated Messenger (I used Digsby by preference until that got EOL'd) the Skype IM user experience makes me want to go back to sending letters (and don't get me started on the whole Facebook integration nightmare and the inability to have selective statuses for different networks or groups of people)... and now they want to integrate it with Lync so I can never appear offline to my coworkers lest I miss an IM or call from my family?!
I hope they're spending the stay of execution getting a new version ready that starts to address some of these warts because while they were the de facto winner for a while there are now alternatives like Viber and Tango, Facetime, GTalk/Hangouts that make switching more of an option
when with $ parity == feature parity
I actually don't mind paying $20 more for Office for Mac (well, I wouldn't, but I'm planning on getting O365 Family Edition or whatever it's called anyway so it's moot) but I'd like to see feature parity, not a half arsed attempt at keeping up with the previous version. Word, Excel etc aren't bad but Outlook is a world of pain
I found the experience so painful that I run Outlook in a WM under Fusion rather than use either mail.app or Outlook for Mac!
PayPal's involvement doesn't impress me. I'm more likely to go for something based on the Yubico platform (and I see Google recently announced they're working with Yubi on a similar two-factor auth scheme to do away with passwords)
I use a Yubi key for personal stuff, and for work have a Gemalto token - the sooner site/domain specific passwords are done with the better, though I would want any two factor auth scheme to provide the ability for me to maintain different personas - "work", "private", "public" etc
sadly I saw the way the place was heading and got out while the going is good. England is a nice place to visit... but 2 weeks is about all I can take before the frustration kicks in again at what it's become
Skype doesn't get IM
while I welcome the consolidation of clients so I've got less running in my systray Skype has got a long way to go on the IM front (I love the video chat) to make it anything other than a horrible waste of screen real estate.
leaving aside such arrogant behavior as not starting minimized and not having a "hide to systray" option and all the comments on the skype forum pointed out above the biggest sin is lumping all the contacts into one bucket ... now I can't easily filter by "online" or show different statuses to Skype or Messenger (or Facebook), and on the subject of Facebook while it's handy sometimes I'd dearly love to be able to work out how to turn that integration off again!
Skype as an IM client is messy and annoying. I find since I tried switching that I've been using gtalk and hangouts more so hopefully as well as a new windows phone app they've got new desktop clients coming soon that will suck less
Re: well thats a surprise
I love how the assumption is that a downvote for disagreeing with "your" PoV automatically makes the voter a shill.
I've been a Media Center user in various forms since 2005 - http://www.pcmediacenter.com.au/forum/user/163936-offbeatmammal/ - and while they all have their strengths and weaknesses over the years MCE has been one of the least troublesome solutions I've put together for friends.
Sadly going forward MS don't seem to have the same commitment they used to have so it certainly gives one of the alternatives to step up but it needs to "win" on it's own merits, not just because you hate Microsoft and can't look past that.
this can't be blamed on Microsoft? what's happening? Were the Mayans right... did the world end while I nursed my festive hangover?!
less pranks, more apps
How about, instead of silly antics, these people sit down and make Linux a viable desktop alternative for my Mum, my partner or my 12yo?
They want to hit "power" and be up and running... not recompile the wifi drivers to get the damn thing to talk to the router that every other device in the house just connects to.
And then when it's powered up they want to play the games, read their email, open docs with the same fidelity that their OSX and Windows (any version) friends and relatives are using.
Over the years I've lost track of the number of times I've tried to switch, but before long the complaints mount up and back we go to the mainstream.
I have a day job. I have hobbies and dogs to walk. I don't want to have to explain that because Ubuntu is better than Windows you can't play Wizards101 any more
I know I'm going to get downvoted into a hole for this but just because Richard Stallman gets his jollies off the EULA doesn't make it good... being usable, and supported does
the thing that bugs me about this - be it Aure, AWS or AppEngine - is that to engineer for failure means you need more overhead running (ideally distributed in multiple locations) and while it's still cheaper (usually) with the cloud it's really hard to predict with the pricing models that all of these guys have in place.
I've worked on a couple of projects recently where the customer didn't really know what their traffic and usage was going to look like (both new ventures) so in both cases we budgeted for success (ie took their estimates, modelled the compute load and then doubled everything)... one of them is paying about 30% of what we budgeted (some of that due to offloading a lot of dynamic content to static pre-published pages and looking at how we could cache better - they're actually above their revenue/user estimates), the other is about 10% overbudget because the usage pattern doesn't fit nicely into the particular platforms billing model (but now we've modelled and observed for a couple of months we're tweaking the architecture to bring costs down).
In both cases though the random restarts or disappearances of instances has been problematic and required a lot of up-front investment in the architecture and design that was hard to explain.
Hopefully as cloud computing matures the "design for failure" mantra will become easier to develop around with frameworks and toolkits becoming more readily available and understood but until then... a bit of up-front effort pays dividends in the long run...
there's a reason I love MaxRoam.com ...
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