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* Posts by AlanC

9 posts • joined 23 Nov 2012

No one wants iOS 8 because it's for NERDS - dev

AlanC

iPhoto???!!

Well I'm a nerd so I upgraded on my iPad Air almost as soon as I could. Fortunately I experienced no problems, although it did seem that very little had changed either. Maybe when I Yosemite comes out I'll enjoy some of the new iCloud features but until then it's a real non-event.

However, I was really shocked and disappointed the other day to discover that iPhoto no longer works. I was even more surprised to find this is isn't a temporary technical issue but a deliberate decision by Apple to discontinue it. In my opinion, the Photos app in iOS is one of the most clunky and incomprehensible features of the otherwise generally excellent iOS 7. iPhoto, which came as standard on the iPad Air, was much capable, as well as being less confusing, so to be forced back to using the Photos app, or third party alternatives, is a real shame.

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Ubuntu 13.10 lands on desktops, servers and (er, some) phones

AlanC

Like others, I really think Canonical are focusing on the wrong priorities here. I've been using Ubuntu as my sole desktop OS for most of the last 5 years and am really pretty happy with it - even Unity doesn't annoy me as much as many. But still there are rough edges - small things that don't work quite as you'd expect, or essential configuration settings that can only be made from a command line.

But what constantly makes me question whether I should continue is the desktop applications. I'm no fan of Microsoft Office but on the whole it does at least work, whereas I'm constantly hitting problems with LibreOffice with things that just don't work, random crashes, etc.. Actually the Writer is pretty good (and I prefer it to MS Word) and Calc isn't too bad, but the one that really worries me is Impress (the PowerPoint equivalent) - random font changes, completely arbitrary and inexplicable changes to styles, bullets, numbering, make it barely usable for anything serious. These applications are rich in function - they just aren't reliable enough yet.

So, if Canoncal want to gain more traction with Linux on the desktop, they should give a lot of support to LibreOffice (or to Apache for OpenOffice), to bring those apps up to a fully professional quality. The rest of the attention should be devoted to removing all the remaining rough edges in the OS, of which there are not too many these days.

And only when they've done that and have nothing useful left to do, should they even think about playing with tablets and phones.

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Apple slams brakes on orders of (not so cheap) plasticky iPhone 5C

AlanC

Re: Want an apple but not the 5c or the 5s

...and in photos the white one looks quite reminiscent of the 3GS, which no-one said looked cheap and nasty at the time.

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Apple iOS 7 makes some users literally SICK. As in puking, not upset

AlanC

Parallax??

I'm puzzled about this and I'm wondering if the behaviour on an iPhone is different from that on an iPad (or on my iPad 2 anyway).

The way the background moves relative to the icons on the home screen is described as Parallax yet to me it's the opposite. If I look straight at the screen and then angle it to the left, a parallax effect ought to mean that the background moves to the right relative to the icons (if, as I assume, the background is intended to appear to be behind the icons). In fact what happens is the opposite - if I turn the iPad to the left, the background moves left, if I tilt it down the background moves down, etc..

Have I misunderstood something here?

By the way, after initially hesitating because of some negative reports about iOS 7 on the iPad 2, I did so and I have to admit I really like it with only a few minor reservations.

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Kobo strikes new match against Kindle: The Aura HD e-reader

AlanC

Resolution is less important than screen size

I owned and enjoyed a Kindle 3 (aka Kindle Keyboard) for a few years, then replaced it with a Paperwhite after managing to break it on a recent holiday (I stood on it!). The PW claims higher resolution than the K3, but I can honestly say that for me the higher screen resolution has made no difference to legibility or reading comfort. Both my kindles display(ed) text that is easy on the eye and comfortable to read, especially in good lighting.

I have however always felt that the 6 inch display of the Kindle is just a bit too small. It's actually smaller than a page of a typical small paperback and my own opinion is that 7 inches would be perfect. The Kobo's 6.8 inches is therefore attractive.

I won't be switching reader now, but if I were starting from scratch I might consider it for this reason.

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Mark Shuttleworth: Canonical leads Ubuntu, not 'your whims'

AlanC

Leadership is needed but the product has to be right too

I've been running Ubuntu as my main desktop OS for 4 years now and there is a lot I like about it. In so many ways I feel it's stil the most viable alternative to Windows and OSX and this surely has a lot to do with the strong direction that Canonical have imposed on its development. If Linux is ever to be a serious alternative for the average user, this is the only way it will happen.

However, with this leadership come - in my opinion - some mistakes. Unlike a lot of people, I don't hate Unity - in fact potentially I like it. What I do hate is all the things that still don't really work properly. On my machine - admitedly three years old but a fairly upmarket and powerful Lenovo Thinkpad - Unity is terribly slow. This is possibly something to do with graphics acceleration or something; I don't know and the point is I really don't want to have to know - I just want it to work properly. Similarly, the fact that the machine often overheats (and shuts down without warning) when doing backups or running VMWare, because the power management doesn't properly control the fan on my machine, undermines the experience badly. I also really dislike the incomprehensible behaviour of Alt-Tab, which is something I think Windows got right about 20 years ago.

My wife has a MacBook. What impresses me about it is not an amazing UI - it's good but not stunningly better than Ubuntu or even Win 7. What does impress me is the astonishing feeling of solidity and quality it exudes; everything is beautifully crafted, everything works smoothly and reliably, it almost never fails in any way. These things make it a pleasure to use and inspire a feeling of great trust and confidence.

The best thing Canonical could do with Ubuntu now is to stop trying to functionally change or enhance it, definitely don't waste energy trying to port it to tablets and phones, but just focus all their attention on polishing every little detail and making it work perfectly all the time. Then they'll have a real winner that MS should worry about.

Like others, I've been starting to notice that Mint looks very attractive. I think I'll install it on a spare disk and try it out but I don't want to swap one set of problems for a different set, so I'm not rushing into switching distro yet.

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4G in the UK? Why the smart money still says 'Meh'

AlanC

Coverage is far more important than extreme speed

As others have said, for me coverage is far more important than speed. I find for most things I want to do - e-mail, casual on-the-move web browsing, apps that access data online, 3G performance is good enough. Even if I wanted to stream movies to my phone (unlikely) a reasonable 3G connection would be enough. Yes, faster is always nice but really not that important to me.

However, if you live, work or travel outside a major city, the coverage for 3G is still not good enough. And I'm not talking about remote parts of the country - I'm talking heavily populated areas of the southeast. I wish the networks would focus on this rather than increasing speed in a few priveleged places.

And while they're at it, perhaps they would fill in all the gaps in ordinary GSM phone coverage. By now, all the networks ought to be providing 100% coverage in every town, village, rail-line and main road (at least A-roads and motorways) in the entire country.

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IBM insider: How I caught my wife while bug-hunting on OS/2

AlanC

Yes, for networking you needed to buy OS/2 Extended Edition, which included local area networking and mainframe comms stuff (3270 emulataion, LU6.2, etc..) and also a relational DB. But after V1.0, which didn't have a GUI at all, PM became an integral part of Standard Edition so was never an extra cost option.

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AlanC

Happy days

Great article - brings back many memories from those days, when I was IBM's UK tech sales lead for OS/2 - playing with early drops of the code from about 1985, being part of the OS/2 and PS/2 launch event at Greenock on April 2nd 1987, working on the first Redbooks and meeting with the IBM and MS developers in the Hursley and Boca Raton labs - even contributing some feedback into the design at times.

These were exciting times - going around showing that multi-tasking worked using a little program I wrote that called DosBeep and DosSleep in a loop to show it still carried on beeping in the background; demonstrating PM to customers and colleagues to whom GUIs were completely new (everyone used plain old DOS then); teaching people the basics of the OS/2 APIs, which were (as you say) so much more complete, consistent and well-documented than anything we'd had before.

Then there was the excitement in 1992 when we launched the 32 bit version (OS/2 V2.0), which included the very sophisticated Workplace Shell, and resulted in another residency for me in Boca and some more redbooks, and lots more interesting and fun demos to develop and show (I claim that my "PM Musical Blackboard" program was the first PM app written by anyone outside Development). Of course, Windows 3.0 and then 3.1 were launched around this time - MS having decided IBM was a competitor - and were hugely successful but despite this OS/2 still achieved impressive market share in some markets in the mid-90's, until Windows 95 came out and OS/2's demise became inevitable.

One of my treasured souvenirs from this era is a Microsoft OS-2 mug - a reminder of the brief time that IBM and MS worked together.

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