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* Posts by DrXym

3520 posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING

DrXym
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Re: If this article was by Lewis Page…

I think Lewis would find the one goat which happened to be bigger than all the others and use it to proclaim that goats are actually getting larger.

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Carders punch holes through Staples

DrXym
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Re: Simple solution

"The UK has now admitted Chip and Pin isn't infalible like they claimed it was. All it did was allow banks to dodge responsibility for fraud for a couple of years."

Who said it was? Not me. But it is FAR more difficult to clone or skim via chip and pin than a magnetic stripe.

As for banks "dodging responsibility", there is no reason that the situation with US transactions must be the same, although there is reason to believe that if stores WERE responsible for bad transactions they'd audit their kit and their staff a lot more than they clearly do right now.

"What security checks do you think a minimum wage monkey could actually be trusted to make? Check the signature? Right. I've been to college, I know how easily fake IDs are obtained for getting into bars and bars ARE legally liable for serving minors."

The answer is "very few". Which is why chip and pin is important. Go shop in America some time and notice how security is virtually nonexistent. At best the store will have some broken screen you're supposed to sign but no one ever checks the card or the signature to the card.

"The only solution is to start holding the banks and the businesses with crap security responsible for the full extent of the economic damage they do to the users who are compromised by their failures.

The only solution eh? No it isn't. In this case, the immediate problem is that card skimmers are being installed in stores, possibly with collusion of staff / managers. Such skimmers wouldn't even be an issue if cards had a chip & pin and weren't swiped.

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DrXym
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Simple solution

The USA should drag itself into the 21st century and use chip and pin. It's not clear to me why retailers, visa or customers tolerate a situation which allows cards to be cloned so easily or the virtually non existent security checks that happen at point of sale in the US.

Chip and pin isn't foolproof but it would stop card skimming / cloning which must surely be the most common cause of credit card fraud by a long stretch.

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The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?

DrXym
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Re: Why shouldn't coding be for fun?

"how would you teach them to move a zombie / hamster? "

Quite easily - the teacher sends the kids to code.org. There they would find ready made coding courses. e.g. Plants vs Zombies themed course:

http://studio.code.org/s/course3/stage/2/puzzle/1

Or they could send them to scratch.mit.edu where kids can mess about with clip art and sounds. Here is one kid's dancing hamster:

http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/1326770/

Or if the government or schools felt strongly enough about it, they would develop a curriculum around scratch. Kids would enjoy the messing around with it and would be learning programming concepts while they do.

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DrXym
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Why shouldn't coding be for fun?

If you want to motivate kids to learn there has to be something in it for them. If that means teaching them to move a zombie or make a hamster dance then so what? They can learn the more boring stuff once they've grasped the basics and had fun doing it.

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Torvalds CONFESSES: 'I'm pretty good at alienating devs'

DrXym
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He's a good leader

Torvalds has particular style of command - directness, an expectation for people to do things right, and he isn't afraid to lay into them when they don't. It probably does bruise egos but it also ensures a high standard of code in the kernel that everyone benefits from. Given how successful the kernel has become he's clearly doing something right.

I actually enjoy reading his rants because they're normally accompanied by a sound argument.

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Is living with Dolby Atmos worth the faff?

DrXym
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Doomed technology

Atmos requires speakers plastered all over the room to achieve its effect. The amount of effort required almost guarantees that it becomes a niche technology and one which is very unlikely to supplant 5.1 or 7.1 which are far easier and cheaper to setup. Maybe some home cinema enthusiasts might go to the effort but even they might take pause from the paltry selection of movies which offer Atmos (Transformers ffs) and decide it's a waste of money

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

DrXym
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Re: But..

"all Apple users think they are nerds"

No, they THINK DIFFERENT. Don't you see??? All those people lining up to buy the latest iPhone aren't all being suckered into the hype. No, they're creative artistic independent types who just happen to all want to buy and use the same device.

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Was Nokia's Elop history's worst CEO?

DrXym
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Nokia definitely needed reforming

Nokia was clearly dysfunctional as could be seen by their confusing and overlapping range of consumer / business phones. It definitely needed a reorg and a brutal appraisal of all the projects they had going on and future direction.

But what it ended up doing was sheer stupidity. Nokia still had a mostly intact reputation for quality phones that married the hardware to the software to create a coherent experience. It was disastrous to lose control of the software side, particularly by using an unproven and unpopular phone OS. Developers jumped ship as did the customers.

A far more sensible strategy would have been to port the Symbian APIs to Android and ship phones with that. It could still exude a Nokia look & feel and support the old apps while benefitting from being part of the largest phone ecosystem.

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Apple KILLS SUPER MARIO. And Zelda. And Sonic

DrXym
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Re: What did people expect?

"But at least you can be accepted as a contributor. The only way to be accepted as an Android contributor is to work for Google on the Android team."

Go join Cyanogenmod then or some other fork which tracks the mainline.

"Having done exactly this, I'm absolutely certain they won't."

Of course they would assuming the bug fix was straightforward, fixed the issue, had no side effects and followed whatever other criteria they had for acceptance.

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Behind the Facebook DRAG QUEEN CRACKDOWN: 'Anonymity soon!'

DrXym
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Re: It doesn't need an app

"Their site their rules. Use a site which doesn't care about who you are."

Ah yes, forgive me for expressing an opinion which is critical of their rules. I shall apply your argument to everything from now on that I disagree with. I was going to complain about detention about trial in some countries but now I shan't because it's their country, their rules. etc.

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DrXym
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It doesn't need an app

All it requires is Facebook accept pseudonyms and stops nagging / banning users who refuse to authenticate themselves to the arbitrary standard which they think constitutes a "real person".

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Revealed: Malware that forces weak ATMs to spit out 'ALL THE CASH'

DrXym
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"It is a little crazy IMO however that one precaution is to ensure your ATM has up to date AV software. Are there any ATM's that run bespoke Operating Systems these days?"

Obscurity might be an effective defence for some random machine on the internet which nobody is especially interested in. But these are ATMs filled with cash. Even if it ran some esoteric OS, there is still a strong incentive for thieves to hack them to steal money.

That said, using Windows as an OS seems to be an invitation to disaster.

As usual the idea is to employ defence in depth - numerous physical, software and hardware safeguards which are hard to circumvent without leaving clues:

- full logging with signature checks to detect tampering

- tamper evident seals / ties on boards and service ports

- special locks on outside and for access to innards

- mother boards with all non-essential ports masked or snipped off

- proprietary screws securing components

- sensors on cabinet doors and for tilt / motion

- multi stage booting with signature tests at each stage

- audible / visible alarms

- customized OS with all non-essential services turned off

- full client / server authentication using forwards only encryption and two way authentication

- various physical features to prevent shoulder surfing, skimming etc.

- etc.

Doubtless it's incredibly difficult to do all this perfectly and I bet some ATMs get nowhere close.

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Chap runs Windows 95 on Android Wear

DrXym
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Hardly a major feat

I assume he just compiled qemu or something similar and ran Windows as a guest over the top.

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Meg Whitman: The lady IS for TURNING. HP to lob printers'n'PCs OVERBOARD

DrXym
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Re: good

HP printers might be shit but they're not as shit as Epson printers. Maybe Epson and HP should merge.

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HEVC patent prices are out. Look who's NOT at the codec party: Microsoft and Google

DrXym
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Re: Just how much better is HEVC

!When the average life of TV equipment should reasonably be measured in decades (as it always was before the LCD flat panel explosion) - how do you work that one out?!

And most digital TVs from the last 5 years have supported AVC for a very long time. Some DVB-T services use AVC already. All DVB-T2 boxes already do.

In other words, switching to AVC means no impact at all for most TVs.

"Nice contribution to our throwaway society sir!"

Buy a new decoder box. Keep the TV. Stop moaning.

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DrXym
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Re: Just how much better is HEVC

"So, it is a pretty impressive achievement - and could certainly solve some of the bandwidth squeeze facing Freeview, if there were enough receivers that supported it."

Freeview, Freesat and Sky should all end-of-life MPEG-2 broadcasts. Give people 3 years grace and then start moving to AVC. It's ridiculous for there to be a BBC 1 HD (in AVC) and a BBC 1 (in MPEG-2) essentially hogging 2-3x more bandwidth than it needs to.

They probably couldn't just migrate to HEVC but they could use AVC for SD & HD and HEVC for UHD.

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DrXym
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Re: Just how much better is HEVC

"I wonder when a codec is 'good enough'?"

It claims to halve the bitrate requirements of AVC for similar subjective results. But throw in the audio and other bits of the stream and the effective bitrate may only be 3/4 the size.

Given how "unlimited broadband" means "limited broadband" anything which cuts it by 25% is still a good thing.

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Apple blacklists tech journo following explicit BENDY iPhone vid

DrXym
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Re: "Devices for testing purposes"

Uri Geller just bends things the same way other people do - he just uses misdirection to make you look the other way while he does it.

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DrXym
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"Has anyone tried bending an iPhone 4 or 5 yet? Perhaps they were always bendy but no one thought of bending them?"

The plus has a larger screen so someone can apply more force by using their thumbs to form a fulcrum and levering from the ends. It's probably harder to do with the smaller phones.

Aside from the greater leverage, Apple didn't stiffen the device enough so the aluminium deformed and that's that. People trying the same with a Galaxy Note 3 have shown it to be far more difficult to do - presumably the plastic shell is more resistant to deformation.

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DrXym
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"Devices for testing purposes"

I can sort of understand an Apple bod being pissed off if they supplied the device for testing and expected it back in one (unbent) piece. That said, Apple can hardly be surprised that journos are doing this given the widely publicized (and demonstrable) problem. I wonder how many devices are getting bent in Apple stores - I bet staff have a memo to hover around the display and keep an eye on people bending their phones.

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IRONY ALERT: Former MI6 chief warns of 'mass snooping' - by PAEDOS

DrXym
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I think it's a fair point to some extent

It's easy to see how kids (and adults) might be exposing themselves to risk without even realising it - tweeting what they're doing, or using apps which divulge their location like Foursquare or uploading photos with geotag data

For example search for "4sq.com" on twitter.com right now and you can find a wonderful selection of ladies and gentlemen to stalk. Or if you prefer, just rob their houses while they're out.

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Apple, Google mobe encryption good news... for TERRORISTS – EU top cop

DrXym
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Won't make much difference at all

Client side encryption tied to a weak authentication like a pin or fingerprint really poses little challenge for police or intelligence services who get their hands on the phone. The encryption key in most cases would be trivial to recover and stuff like system logs that resides outside of user storage wouldn't be encrypted at all.

Perhaps they're making a big song and dance of it precisely to encourage jihadhi loonies to go out and use smart phones for all their covert activity.

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Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really

DrXym
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Looking good so far

The changes really don't constitute a 1.0 release bump alone a 2.0, but at least they're moving things in the right direction. The form of the new start menu gels with what I was thinking it would be as well as putting metro apps onto the desktop.

The things I would be most fearful of is what Microsoft don't mention here - things like cloud storage, logon and so forth. We already saw in 8.1 how they aggressively pushed people to logon through their services and I could see that sort of thing expanding a lot with the OS pushing and cajoling people to buy/rent/use Microsoft backend stuff.

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Anna Wintour, Karl Lagerfeld and some Apple bloke attend glitzy iPhone 6 Paris launch

DrXym
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I'm amazed

I didn't know there were any female celebs left who still wanted to be associated with Apple.

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Bash bug: Shellshocked yet? You will be ... when this goes WORM

DrXym
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Not as serious as openssl issue

Hearbleed affected lots of software, many of which may have shipped with modified versions of the openssl library or statically with it.

This is bash. One patch and the entire system is fixed. On top of that I suspect the number of webservers with externally facing and exploitable cgi scripts that ran bash and where an environment variable could be injected in some way is rather low. It's probably a greater threat from internal users who might be able to exploit an ssh session or a restricted shell in some way.

But again it's one patch and I suspect most dists already have the patch ready to go.

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Huawei prez: A one-speed internet is bad for everyone

DrXym
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Services are differentiated.

Service providers already sell a range of packages where your decision sets the bit rate and download limits. But the key point is once you buy that service, that ALL the internet is governed by that rate. And of course you can switch provider if you want who may offer a better value package or one better suited to someone's need.

So there is differentiation.

Net neutrality simply protects consumers from unscrupulous internet providers who want to interfere with their service by throttling access to a service, or pushing one service in preference to another. They basically want to hold services to ransom unless they are paid more money. Unsurprisingly it is the unscrupulous providers who are braying the loudest about how its a bad thing (it isn't).

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NSFW: Click here, watch iPhone 6 being TORTURED

DrXym
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Re: Is it just me...

The main thing you have to appreciate is they do these "tests" as click bait. Presumably enough people click to make pay for the cost of the phone and then some.

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Apple slaps a passcode lock on iOS 8 devices, but cops can still inhale your iCloud

DrXym
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It probably doesn't bother cops that much.

* All the logs and system files will be plain text. So cops can still know when you took a picture, or made a call, or installed an app.

* All the cloud based storage your phone connects to is stored plaintext and accessible with a warrant.

* All the metadata on the phone network is accessible - phone logs, text messages, internet access, IP addresses etc.

* Certain apps might leave information laying around in a readable format, either locally or on their servers.

* PINs, biometrics and even most passwords can be cracked very easily. I doubt many people enter a strong passphrase into a phone. I doubt alternative schemes like Google's pin board thing or Microsoft's picture login are much better (both might be inferable just by dusting the screen).

So yeah you could encrypt your private data with your finger print. And it might require a modicum of effort to get at that data. But it's not insurmountable and I expect police forces are not especially perturbed.

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Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please

DrXym
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Re: The real agenda

I think Bing is quite comparable to Google these days in the quality of its results. Occasionally I'll use it if for no other reason than I don't like Google knowing all my business.

I'm not sure what this has to do with Newscorp and any objection they have to Google most surely has an ulterior motive. They're certainly not standing up to the poor oppressed small sites in their complaint any more than Verizon is standing up for deaf/blind people when fighting net neutrality.

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Top Gear Tigers and Bingo Boilers: Farewell then, Phones4U

DrXym
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Re: Slides don't surprise me

"Errr. Why would you go into a phone shop if you wanted to avoid a sales rep? Surely it's a natural thing for a salesman to aproach a customer and ask what they want. i've always found a quick 'no thanks just looking' a perfectly satisfactory response.."

This may come as a shocker but some people like to be able to browse througha shop without being pounced on by a salesrep the second they step in the door. If I have a question to ask or I'm interested in buying something I am capable of asking for assistance.

Perhaps you prefer the American model where you get "help" whether you asked for it or not -- where the person bothers you purely because they're on a commission. I don't. I find it annoying and pushy.

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DrXym
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Slides don't surprise me

Walking into Phones4U always gave me a sleazy feeling, knowing that I was being stalked by a sales rep. Not to say other phone shops are hugely better.

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JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!

DrXym
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Re: > Like you I don't object to Scottish independence, just the SNP and it's leader.

"The great thing about independence is you can then vote for whoever you want, and not end up with David Miliband who has no interest."

You'd think so but it doesn't work that way. Look at Republic of Ireland - the Kery TD (member of parliament) only cares about Kerry, the Dublin TDs don't care about anywhere else. The independent TDs will openly blackmail the government for a new road in their constituency in return for support. Just recently, the minister of health wrote his own consituency onto a list of regions to get new healthcare centres - no rationale for this except his own self interest.

If anything it's more corrupt because the scale is smaller and the government ability to snuff out corruption is diminished. Sometimes impartiality (or aloofness if you prefer) is an asset. It allows government to look at the big picture and be less susceptible to corruption.

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DrXym
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Re: If i had a vote

"Well, quite. From 10% of the UK, which is a big chunk of the EU, to being between Denmark and Ireland in the EU (by population)."

Or approximately half a Belgium. That's how low we're talking.

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DrXym
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Re: If it's a Yes vote....

You can see this sort of thing in action - Border towns in the Republic of Ireland have been devastated because people prefer to drive North for their shopping than shop locally. The exchange rate a few years back meant it cost 30-40% less to shop in the North. Things aren't so bad now but come Christmas they'll still be huge queues in places like Newry. Appeals to patriotism naturally fell on deaf ears.

I also expect if a Yes passes that Carlisle would be choked with people withdrawing their cash from ATMs in sterling notes. That amount of capital that will fly out of Scotland is likely to be enormous.

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DrXym
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Re: If i had a vote

Becoming a fully integrated member of the EU could take years to work out even if negotiations started on Friday. I doubt the EU would grandfather in the UK opt-outs either. Imagine all the fun if Scotland was in Schengen and the UK wasn't.

And to stand any chance of joining the euro they'd have to join the stability & growth pact and meet various economic indicators - inflation, debt-to-GDP, deficits etc. Doubt it'd happen until the economy recovered and that could take years too.

IMO it's also pretty stupid for an independent Scotland to join even bigger power bloc where their voice is barely a squeak. Maybe they'll find common cause with the UK some of the time, but they might easily find themselves having less voice than they enjoyed before when they were part of a large state.

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DrXym
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Re: I'm fine with Scottish independence if it's what they want.

"I'm not fine with the amount of lies and promises Alex Salmond is telling the Scottish people. He's promising things he has no power to deliver and which are, imo, pretty unlikely to happen."

I doubt Scotland has any chance whatsoever of making good on the Yes promises until it rejoins the EU and adopts the Euro. Up until then it won't have any banking system, no lender of last resort, capital will fly south, contracts (particularly in public services, defence etc.) will get cancelled, prices in shops will go up and the economy will tank. It might get so bad they end up crawling to the UK or Europe to bail them out (because they can't bail themselves out) and swallowing the bitter pill which comes with that.

Salmond and the SNP are lying big time when they say it's all going to be wonderful. Aside from that even long term it won't make a damned bit of difference. Look at Ireland which is nearly 100 years independent - it's like a slightly different version of the UK where public services are crappier and everyone pays more in taxes and the daily cost of living is higher.

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POW! Digia straps Qt into ejector seat, gleefully pulls handle

DrXym
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Re: Programming Language?

QT is bundled QML / Qt Quick so it does have a scripting language that you could write a substantial part of your UI in.

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'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux

DrXym
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Re: Case Sensitive File Systems...

"case Sensitive File Systems... ...are a pain in the arse for the average user (more so on command line based systems, less so in GUI environments), "

The problem here is you're conflating how the file system works and how the user interface presents it to a user.

Let's break down how a user interacts with their computer.

1. Most users point and click through a file explorer or some app gui. It makes no difference to them if the FS is case sensitive or not since they just click on the file they have made previously in some way.

2. What about the command line? The command prompt can do case insensitive autocomplete automatically. Or it can even be a flag. e.g. in bash do this - "set completion-ignore-case on" and now autocomplete is case insensitive. Was that hard?

3. What about file search? Same again, make it case insensitive.

Moving the case sensitivity up to the UI means issues like upper/lower/title case is handled in a layer best suited to handle them. Baking it into a low level driver is a terrible idea, e.g. is the FS supposed to know the upper / lower case of cyrillic characters. What other Unicode tables have case folding rules. Why is this all happening in a driver?

File systems should be as unambiguous and precise as possible. Second guessing malformed paths or names (such as those with the different case in their path from the ones on disk) just adds complexity and weird edge cases in a part of the operating system which can ill afford to have them.

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DrXym
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The thing I hate most about NTFS is not the lack of symbolic linking but its case insensitivity and the inability to overwrite a locked file. Case insensitivity causes no end of issues with source control systems like Git and locked files cause most of the ubiquitous "You must restart for this update to take place" issues.

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DrXym
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New start menu

If that's what it really looks like then I'm comfortable with that - a mini metro that appears over the desktop is much better than the brain fart inducing context switch out to another screen. And metro apps which live as windows on the desktop.

Both basically mean that start menu could be switched off completely for those who don't like it. I think the start menu is fine for tablets and some people may still prefer it on a desktop.

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Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales

DrXym
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"Settings, Apps, Built In Apps, Disable."

It's still taking up space and the power of the default means most people won't do this.

"Job done. Sure it might still be taking up a few hundred Kb of space, but it's disabled, and there are no launcher icons, so for all intents and purposes, it's removed."

It's better than nothing. It would be better yet if the phone actually ASKED on a factory reset if you wanted to fetch certain partner software from the Play store or the manufacturer's website and if you said no, that would be the end of the matter.

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DrXym
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I should add that even Google is locking down the user experience these days. Their so-called Android Silver phones look like their response to fragmentation and as a way of shutting rivals like Facebook out of handsets.

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DrXym
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"MS are just being strict about installing crapware. Good job too."

Nokia phones are full of crapware but you can uninstall it which is a good thing.

But Microsoft having total control of the user experience and system specifications which doesn't leave as much room for the handset maker to make their product distinct from their competitor's.

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Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID

DrXym
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Don't see what the fanfare is about

$100-120 would have bought someone a a relatively low spec Android phone for quite some now. What's the big deal here? I guess it brings some form of software quality assurance to the One products which might have been missing previously but that's about it.

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Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water

DrXym
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"I foresee a "fire sale" of cheap devices on he horizon. Could be some bargains to be had as the stock in the shops is sold off."

Except for any sim free phones they might carry the rest are probably on a sale or return basis.

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Bloat-free, unlocked Moto X to be dubbed 'Pure Edition', says report

DrXym
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Re: I don't know why they even bother with crapware

"SIM free won't save you from the manufacturer's bloatware."

No but it saves you from the network provider's bloatware on top of the manufacturer's bloatware. It also tends to make it easier to root the phone if you want.

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DrXym
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I don't know why they even bother with crapware

Some phones come "preloaded" with Facebook, Twitter etc. which are invariably obsolete even before the phone is turned on. What the hell is the point of this? It just means the manufacturer is burdened with additional testing and the user has junk they don't want eating up space, undeletable and potentially affecting their device's performance and security.

It's an utter waste of time. If manufacturers absolutely have to put crapware on a phone it should at least be in a writable partition and better yet the user should be asked when they turn the phone if they want it installed or not.

Networks like Vodafone, O2 etc are even worse for the shit they preload. It's best to buy SIM free just to avoid bothering with any of it.

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Sellouts! Fans snap up iPhone 6 Plus pre-orders to avoid store queues

DrXym
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I didn't realise the iPhone 6 was time limited

I was under the impression that the iPhone 6 would launch and would be on sale until an iPhone 7 appeared - a period of potentially 18 months. Only chumps preorder or queue up to buy a device without knowing what it will be like.

We saw with the iPhone 4 that phones can look very lovely and yet have crippling issues in the real world. Would it kill anyone to wait a month to see if the iPhone 6 partly justifies its enormous price tag by at least working properly?

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iPhone 6: Advanced features? Pah! Nexus 4 had most of them in 2012

DrXym
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Re: NFC woes to come

"I can see the banks jumping onto Apple Pay, and leaving Android handsets with NFC by the wayside as they have been doing since 2010."

I doubt it. Banks probably resent Apple pay as much as the retailers - it's another finger in the pie and ultimately could see the banks becoming the funding source but not profiting from the transaction. Retailers are bound to be hit too with higher transaction fees. Most probably their point of sale systems might cope with multiple NFC payment schemes but they might well resent/favour particular ones if it cuts into their profits.

The optimal solution for bank / retailer would be they continued to issue proximity payment cards and if Visa / Mastercard released a payment app for a phone that the card could be registered with. The finger to pie ratio stays the same as does the transaction charge.

Also from a personal security point of view it seems a bit dodgy to wave around a £600 phone for all to see, particularly if a potential thief knows it's loaded with cash too.

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