27 posts • joined 19 Jul 2012
Re-animating the dead.
All these comments about the website, I'm amazed that no-one has noticed that this is nothing more than the website that Lloyds TSB used until about a year ago - but with blue instead of green as the main colour and with the name TSB instead of Lloyds TSB. They'd obviously just re-used the code base.
In fact when I first visited the site I didn't even twig, I just groaned and thought that it was exactly the same site. It was only when I went back to the current Lloyds TSB site did I remember that yes, they have actually updated it since then.
So not only have they re-animated the corpse of the TSB (I recall, as a former TSB customer that moving to Lloyds was giant step backwards but I somehow doubt any of what made the TSB better will come back to life with it) but they've re-animated the corpse of the previous Lloyds website and palmed it off on the TSB as "new",
Still, it was 20 years ago this month that, as a university fresher in my first week, I stepped into the Dundee Meadowside branch of the TSB to open my first bank account so slightly ironic that they chose this month of all months to hive that very same branch back off into the TSB again after all this time.
Re: 2 year upgrade cycle
"there's a two year upgrade cycle if you want to get a subsidised device"
Subsidised? You're living in the past old son. All you get from the telcos is a loan at a moderate interest rate.
After years of a company mobile and not having to think about it I finally had to get my own contract back in Feb. I looked around at the available tariffs, found something suitable and then got a bit of a surprise to discover that the monthly cost of the same bundle of minutes / texts / data etc actually didn't cost the headline figure at all but had a different rate for each phone that you could get to go with it.
A quick calculation showed that for all of the top line handsets I checked the difference between getting the same bundle sim free and with the phone, over the life of contract added up to about £100 more than the cost of the same handset bought offline.
Granted it may suit people to spread the cost out over a couple of years for a small fee and that's fine, but be under no illusion about what you're getting. It's a low interest loan bundled into the contract, a subsidised handset it most certainly isn't.
In '66 Brazil, especially Pele, were hacked to bits by Portugal. England got lucky... but then again some luck is required to win any trophy
An element of luck is needed in many things that are far more important than sports fixtures. In recent years I've read a huge amount about battles in WW2 and other wars in recent history. You might think that, for example, major naval battles between the Royal Navy and Kreigsmarine simply came down to shooting the s**t out of each other but a little bit of detailed reading shows that most often the outcomes were decided by almost ridiculously small details as often as not the result of some luck.
In the days before the third umpire in cricket I remember a three way ODI tournament between Australia, England and Zimbabwe in which Zimbabwean Andy Flower was run out on not very much (and by some margin). The umpire ruled it in and the match continued despite how obvious it was on the replays. Flower got a ton, England lost by single figures and went out of the tournament. The Australian media (the tournament was in Oz) derided England as ridiculous and said they'd been beaten by every country from A to Z. It must have been a bitter pill for the side!
I jumped from Apple to Android and I swapped one set of problems for another. Don't get me wrong, I loved my iPhone and I love the Droid I replaced it with. But the fact remains these devices are the bleeding edge of technology. When you're pushing the boundaries of known capabilities things will always be a little flakey.
"God I HATE how people try to rewrite history to make MSFT this evil genius when at best they were bumbling henchmen" etc etc
Said with the benefit of hindsight. Fact is all these other companies that have screwed up aren't little one man bands making arbitrary decisions - there's some pretty major strategy planning gone into some of these failures and it's a fair bet that those making the decisions were reasonably confident of success, based on the information available to them in that place at that time. That history proved they were wrong, and Microsoft right, doesn't seem to me to lend the support that you think it does to the case you are trying to make.
When you strip away all the hyperbole your post is basically just a list of occasions where others got it wrong and Microsoft got it right. You might get lucky once and but you don't do it over and over and rise to the size Microsoft did purely by luck. You could even argue that there is no right or wrong, just that one company managed to persuade a larger (or large enough) number of people that their way was right that they were able to gain enough of an upper hand that the competition became almost irrelevant - but even so it's still Microsoft which is winning these battles. It would seem there is also a critical mass a company can reach beyond which their way will almost certainly be the chosen way, even if a technically superior alternative exists.
Unfortunately for Microsoft in mobile computing the way ahead is not so clear - at least in part because this is the present and so the hindsight your observations benefit from is not yet available. Once it is, 2-3 years down the line, you might have reason to think differently. Windows Phone 8 is their first serious attempt at taking on Apple / Google and it's only been out for 5 mins. I don't like it personally but it is certainly getting some serious backing from mobile phone operators, resellers, retailers etc and that is going to count for something given enough time. Fortunately for Microsoft they have the resources to play the long game. And as for the competition screwing up - well Apple and the Droid conglomerate have headaches of their own which may yet play into Microsoft's hands. Only time will tell.
Cutting edge bugs
This is why the tech on the Curiosity Rover is all old hat. Cutting edge tech will always experience problems and updates will always introduce bugs which get fixed by the next update which introduces new bugs and so on. That's just how it is, either live with it or get a boring old Nokia feature phone I guess!
Re: Revenues be damned
I wouldn't be rejoicing about the prospect of the demise of Apple if I was you - not that I believe what we're seeing here is the beginning of the end by any stretch of he imagination. More like it's a stock market reality check. But anyway, about rejoicing the demise of Apple - exactly how good would Android be if Apple didn't exist? It is the pressure of the competition which has driven the evolution of Android into the product it is today, the constant need to catch and pass the market leader (a moving target). As I understand it, Android entered development before iOS yet it has spent most of its time playing catch up (until ICS really). Apple set the bar and they set it high and the Droid OEM's, along with Google, were forced to up their game to compete. This is a good thing.
Now the media working itself into a lather and the iOSomething evangelists do my head in, not to mention the ignorance of some Apple users about Android  - I am no Apple fan, believe me and my Nexus 10 arrives today, but a market as utterly dominated by Android in the future as it was by iOS in the past is not something we should welcome. I'd like to see Apple cut down to size a bit more but nothing more than that. Whether MS will ever be a serious player in this market is an interesting one - I am not sure if there is even room for 3 major players (and certainly not more so I think it'll be bye bye RIM).
 - Got a new HTC One X hours before going away for the weekend. When meeting up with some friends I went to check something on my phone and realised that much of the new phone still was not set up. She happily informed me that if I'd only got an iPhone then all of my contacts, calendar events etc would just synchronise back through iCloud.
"As opposed to Longbridge, which might well like the idea of restarting the Rover factory once we have a demand for automotive production with the withdrawal of Nissan? Are jobs in Sunderland inherently more or less important than jobs in Longbridge?"
But what makes you think that the loss of Nissan production in Sunderland will mean that there is suddenly a demand for Rover cars? What's to stop the shortfall in supply simply being made up by increased imports from elsewhere? And that would be far worse - buying a Nissan or Toyota made in the UK ensures the vast majority of cash stays here and goes to supporting jobs here. Those workers then support other aspect of the local economy with their own spending and consumption.
"Every single multinational that provides goods or sevices to the UK, can be replaced with a national company that supplies those goods or services. It may take a little time to get up to speed, but the demand is already there."
Speaks someone with apparently little idea of logistics. Companies don't magically come out of thin air and even those that already exist can't just scale their operation to meet a massive increase in demand. Supply chains that don't exist don't just magic into being.
Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of buying British and always choose Costa over Starbucks etc (and even bigger fan of buying local, so I buy from my local butchers, farm shops etc) but anyone suggesting that these big MNC's make no contribution to our economy is just plain wrong. Corporation tax is but a drop in the ocean compared to the money they are sinking into the economy with the rents they pay, the employees they hire and the supply chains which service them.
"So what - with all the evasion they engage in, they provide little to the local economy. The people are will still be here, they still need goods and services; so having UK based companies supply those (and pay their taxes) would be to the betterment of the UK."
That assumes there are UK companies already providing the same goods and services. There might not be. And even if there are, it assumes that the UK companies can suddenly re-scale their operation to fill the vacuum created by the recently departed corps. In most cases that won't be possible. I work for a UK food producer - if our competitors were removed from the market could we suddenly increase our output by say 1000% to service all the new business? I'll give you one guess.
Do not mistake "paying no corporation tax" for "making no contribution to the economy". These are very, very different things. I fail to see how dumping the entire workforce of Amazon, Starbucks and McDonalds (to name but a tiny few) on the dole queues benefits the economy.
"keeps releasing the Android operating system that is popular but not nearly as good as Apple's iOS, and its phones/tablets that are not as good as Apple's hardware"
Have to assume this was just pure flame bait?
Google doesn't release hardware at all, their hardware partners do that - and at a very wide range of price points. Apple, on the other hand, provide premium hardware at a premium price. Pointing out that a cheap Droid doesn't compete well in terms of hardware quality isn't the most insightful observation.
On the OS side I'd be interested in how you would define "not nearly as good". Now when it comes to tablet apps iOS has definitely got Android licked. The number of apps that are relevant and useful to me that simply don't exist at all on Android or do so only in a phone form is a constant source of irritation. And sadly a number of those Android tablet apps that I do have are poor relations indeed when you see the iOS version side by side. But the main thing keeping me from buying an iPad and benefiting from all these is Android itself. My Asus TF101 (running ICS) is just a wonderful device to use, made even better by the ability to use custom launchers like Nova. By comparison I find iOS on the iPad to be a dated, undynamic and clunky interface that you can't do much with.
So for me, I'm just going to have to hope that eventually tablet apps on Android will start to catch up.
Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!
TBH I was in that school of thought. I had an iphone 3GS and when I chose to switch to a Droid I ignored the Galaxy SII because it seemed huge and opted for the Desire S (almost exactly the same size as the 3GS).
Then came the Galaxy SIII which was even bigger and I wanted even less but subsequently my other half has got a Galaxy SII and I've got a lot more used to the size, such that when the company surprised me by renewing early I opted to get a One X, despite it's size. And you know what? I love it. I carried the Desire S with me at the weekend to use for media and stuff whilst I was away and it felt like a toy - teeny tiny screen and dated looks. Odd really, because it's still the same device I was using until 3 weeks ago and was perfectly happy with it. I still would be if the company hadn't suddenly decided to sign a new contract....
(I should add that all the other Droids were Desire X handsets and at first I preferred them to my One X)
What exactly is this Google Apps thing? I have Google Drive free with my Gmail account which includes the various spreadsheet, wordprocessor functions etc and I actively make use of them. There are some functionality shortcomings, especially with the formatting in spreadsheets, but by and large it's pretty good. And it's free - so I can hardly complain.
If I try to investigate GoogleApps the only option I get is to sign up for a free trial and pay $3 a month after the trial ends, yet the screen shots look rather like the very same options I already get free with Gmail. Am I missing something here?
Re: What I'd be looking for in such a thing
I have a couple of Netgear NV+ (v1) and find the interface to be quick and easy to use. Netgear are pretty good with firmware updates and both boxes have been updated to the latest but one version - maybe this assists with the interface? I do have a two stacks of Netgear L2+ smart switches though and the interfaces of are pretty slow.
No real complaints with the NAS boxes though. They used to be used for regular backups and periodically they'd eat disks but a while back they were replaced with much more business class kit and nowadays they mostly just sit there with occasional use for archiving. But even so they still eat discs. But it's usually only the two center bays - and it's only Seagate. Due to the long warranty periods on the discs we were returning them to Seagate, receiving back recon drives which went back into storage and then back into the NAS when the next one failed. But the cycle was continuous with 2-3 failures per year so we started using the Seagates for other things and bought others (initially Samsung and then later WD when Samsung vanished) and the problem stopped.
The outer two bays, which run about 10C cooler, are much less of a problem - I just had to replace a failing Seagate in Bay 4 this week but, being the older of the two NV+ units that drive has been in there for 5 years which is a failure time I can live with.
"Those pesky law things again. They ruin everyone's fun."
The trouble with western do-gooders is that one fundamental thing they fail to understand is that what they seen as being fair and even handed is interpreted as being weak. Somali pirates being caught and given a stern talking to don't go away hanging their heads in shame determined to behave better, they go away thinking the west is soft and weak and they can behave as they wish without any real consequence. You can extend this analogy to any number of other situations too.
Here in Britain we have the same problem in our classrooms on our streets. Our teachers have virtually no power to punish and consequently almost all our schools have major behavioural problems and on our streets the police are given virtually no respect and are made to do their jobs hamstrung by rules and regulations which make them almost powerless. I remember reading an interest blog during the London riots written by a Philipino guy living in the Philipines (but who had lived in London) saying he was astonished at how powerless and ineffective the UK police were after he'd been mugged. They were completely terrified of being accused of any number of things and were accordingly unwilling to investigate the crime despite the perpetraters (of Pakistani origin, according to the blogger) still being in the vacinity.
Rather than try to understand the naughty pirates and let them off with a warning, I wonder if a more effective deterent might be that the next time they are seen harrassing a merchant ship with AK47's and RPG's that the warship on the scene blows them out of the water. It would only take 2 or 3 such responses and the pirates would get the message.
Seriously? What is it that so desperately needs more than 5MP on a phone? Years ago I had framed and mounted 15x10 (yes inches) pictures on my wall taken off 3MP shots from a compact and regular comments from people who liked them. Now, granted I didn't imagine at the time I took them that I'd blow them up that large (or I'd have dialed the camera up to its full 5MP) but the fact is they were perfectly acceptable unless you took a magnifying glass over the print at close quarters.
So if you can print at 15x10 off 3MP why would you consider 5MP to be so appalling ON A PHONE!!! I don't think the MP of my last and current phones was radically different but the quality of the pictures definitely is. It's not all about MP. With tiny lenses and sensors most phone cams just rely on OTT processing by their JPEG engine (extreme sharpening, bright hammed up colours, major distortion corrections and so on) to make the final image look good. The megapixelage is almost irrelevant.
"Samsung were a major supplier to Apple but decided they wanted more of the cake for themselves. It's a big gamble now they have lost / will lose Apple as a customer"
Eh? How have they lost the battle? Last time I looked Samsung had come from virtually nowhere to being the best selling brand in the smart phone market. We obviously have very different definitions of "lose". I rather doubt the execs at Sammy had never considered this possibility when planning their long term strategy.
As for what if HTC etc make a better Droid - what does that have to do with it? I don't have a Sammy, personally, and I don't particularly like them but I can't see them going anywhere any time soon. The market place has room for a number of OEM's and they'll all be jostling for position all the time, that's the way it goes.
Re: Apple has peaked
I am well aware of the statistics of Android vs iOS but I still find it helpful to have conversations with people outside of The Register reader base. A couple of weeks ago I was visiting family and caught up with some old friends. There were six of us present and the breakdown was 4 x iPhone, 1 x HTC and 1 x strange Samsung sliding thing (don't know exactly what it was but it wasn't Android). The professions of those present were 1 IT bod, 1 office manager, 1 police officer, 1 TV production company owner and 2 teachers. The iOS owners (and these are just ordinary people, not geeks) spent a bit of time discussing how great Apple things were but otherwise the conversation didn't really cover phones - Android only got a passing mention when the production company owner said that a number of media related apps on Android seemed to lack things that were built into the iOS versions natively and what a pain it was for him to have to always bear that in mind with his work. Shortly after that the attempt to order pizzas using an iPad app was abandoned as it wouldn't work properly and a Windows netbook was dug out to ensure we didn't go hungry.
More recently I went to a Spanish restaurant with a group of friends and the subject came up again. I don't know the breakdown of who owned what, but one person (a radiographer or similar) commented that they had been a huge Apple fan but went for the S3 as something different on their latest upgrade. I quoted the figures of nearly 70% Android vs 16% iOS and they were astounded - all of them. They all thought that Apple had by far the largest share of the market.
Which just goes to show that whatever the reality of the stats, people's perception is that Apple is knocking the competition into a cocked hat....
"Sydney Funnel Webs on the other hand, if you see one, leg it. Highly aggressive, can bite through a shoe..."
Er, not too sure about that one. I've read many times that they can bite through a child's fingernail - I think a leather shoe is a rather different proposition. One quick look at my simple office shoes can see that the leather is many times thicker than the length of spider's fangs so biting through them seems rather unlikely. The odds of one ever getting close enough to my shoe to find out however are VERY small.
If you have a cat, let it play keep the spider occupied as I understand cats (and dogs) are largely unaffected by the venom. I don't suppose they'd enjoy the actual bite that much but the venom won't have much of an effect (or so I read). It seems to be primates that react really badly to it.
The two are not mutually exclusive. I agree that an iPhone IS a better device for the technically less (or non) savvy for all the reasons listed. However that does not by any means imply that ONLY non-technically savvy users will like it and I don't believe the poster you are replying to implied that.
Re: whatever Nature would use to keep their numbers down
Indeed. Although a big cat fan myself I can easily see that the vast numbers of them that exist are down to us and that by virtue of those vast numbers they can indeed inflict significant damage on wildlife.
Of course, less well known but no less bad for the environment is the fact that dogs, being generally much bigger and more active and requiring much more food, are actually less environmentally friendly than owning a 4x4 due to the huge amounts of land, water and energy which go into producing the food they need.
I have an Asus Transformer running ICS - I think the device is great and I love the OS. ICS is a great tablet OS. However, I wouldn't recommend it or any other Android tablet to anyone else. I spent quite a bit of time with a friend's iPad and I would pit ICS against iOS anyday but the range of apps available for the iPad is in a different league. Both in quality and quantity the things you can get the iPad to do, and do well, it light years ahead. A lot of good quality iPad apps are either simply not available on Android (and their equivalents poor in comparison) or they are available either solely for phones or in a format which is basically a phone app with some minor modifications for a tablet (which looks kind of okay until you see how much extra work they've put into the actual iPad app).
Sorry, the OEM's for Android tablets have done a really bad job in getting decent tablets out there at affordable prices - and by "out there" I don't mean that they exist, I mean that they are in front of the general public and therefore likely to be bought. Go to Argos / Comet / Currys etc and see just how many models are out there on display, available to be played with and at what prices. And check Amazon - or a myriad of computer box shifters like Ebuyer or Misco. The Android tablets are sporadic, badly marketed and often over priced. Combine the shortcomings of the apps and the OEM's and Apple is essentially sitting pretty in the tablet space. If MS are successful with their offerings it will most likely be Android that gets squeezed, not Apple.
Re: Well Duh!
"What's the rush? Take some time and relax in the one place you can actually get some peace...could change your life ;)"
I agree. Was always very quick until I discovered I could use my phone (or tablet) to sit there sorting out all the crap in my inbox, deleting / filing as appropriate etc. Sure I could probably be out quicker if I didn't but it's more relaxing not to rush in and out besides, no-one bothers me in there and I get the added benefit of getting back to my desk to find my inbox much less cluttered!
Re: Yankee Redemption
Well I'm a Brit and I'm not surprised. However I expect the stats (which I haven't studied closely) disguise a wider variation by reducing it to averages. After all, the average of 19+21 is 20 and so is the average of 10+30. I imagine the US is probably more extreme at either end but a bigger country with much more open space, greater interest and participation in sports (albeit with a more limited selection of them) really should expect to fair better over all.
Re: Obesity dumb bomb
In my experience, those people who don't like reading about the health implications of being considerably overweight are generally those people who realise that to believe what they are reading means accepting they need to make some significant lifestyle changes or they will pay the consequence. It is much easier to consider the research flawed and dismiss it than it is to make the lifestyle changes necessary to address the problem. I have both family members and friends who demonstrate this amply.
Now the argument about the politicisation of research is a genuine one, without doubt, so I'm always prepared to take a look beyond the headlines but I am afraid my own real life experience really does actually support, in principle at least. In more specific terms I don't buy into the media hysteria about excesses of salt etc because, frankly, most of it's common sense. The simple maxim "everything in moderation" is really all you need to live by to fine - that consuming 1/2 a kilo of salt / saturated fat / media's poison of choice in short order is bad for you shouldn't really come as a surprise. But I'd argue that if your BMI is much above 30 then you're probably not living by the simple maxim.
Just tell my friend (down from 17st to 12st in the last 7 months) that her health is no better now than it was before and see how far it gets you.... or perhaps talk to my dad (denier in chief) who's spent a life time telling me that 3-4 sugars in his tea, half a pint of cream on his desert etc won't have any detrimental effects on his health. I wonder if he tells the pharmacist the same thing when he picks up his blood pressure tablets, diabetes tablets, cholesterol tablets that the NHS has to pay for? To say nothing of the sleep apnea kit. And clearly he doesn't see the link either when he "isn't feeling well today" for non-specific reasons (happens 2-3 days a week) and so on.
Re: A brilliant consumer experience in Windows
I'm not sure that's a valid comparison though. The layout of the "user interface" of a car is based in a mechanical 3D environment and is largely related to the physiology of the human user in a seated position facing forward with feet and arms outstretched. This pretty much dictated the starting point of where things need to go.
This simply is not the case with computers. The OS is basically just a flat rectangle in front of the user, the specific layout of things on that rectangle and how you switch between them is not governed by the physiological givens of the human form. The creators of the interface therefore have a lot more freedom to move things around and try different ways of working. Obviously physical interaction with the device is governed by the human form but again the constraints are much less specific than they are for driving a vehicle.
At last, a bit of considered opinion amongst all the frothing at the mouth and predictions of doom.
I was listening to a report on the Today program this morning (which was mostly about Nokia but dealt with Microsoft) which described the previews of Windows 8 as a very exciting development and well received. Could they really be talking about the same thing I read about day in day out on Reg message boards?
It never ceases to amaze me the extent to which techies are utterly divorced from the reality of man-in-the-street usage of IT, irrespective of whether that is as consumers in the home or end users in the workplace. A more focused "if it doesn't suit my particular needs then it's rubbish and will fail" you will never see.
The reason Microsoft has been as successful as it has is because it understood early on that the world was not run by techies and targeted its output accordingly. Apple have taken this approach, refined it and targeted a higher end of the market with what is (at basic level) the same approach. Joe Public doesn't care if Apple are stifling innovation because they sue Samsung etc every time they sneeze, most of my users don't even know what OS they have on their computers or on their phones (home or work). It's of no interest to them - they just want to be able to get to Google / Facebook or whatever. If Windows 8 ships on as OEM on new desktops and Joe Public can still find Google and Facebook then he won't care a jot.
I will reserve judgment on Windows 8 until I have actually spent some time using it. If it doesn't work EXACTLY the same way that I work now I might actually think about changing how I work to work better with the new system (just like I did when moving from XP to 7). If one thing has surprised me here, it's not that people are damning Microsoft for doing something differently than before it's the extent to which technically knowledgeable people are sounding just as change averse as their non-technical fellows.
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