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* Posts by DrXym

3554 posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

Bitcoin laid bare: Boffins beat anonymity

DrXym
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Bitcoin has *never* been anonymous

Each bitcoin transaction ever is recorded in a signed chain and the entire transaction history of every bitcoin is distributed across P2P. It's not hard to envisage the P2P network being seeded with clients which are logging IPs and making inferences based on the transactional movements of coins over time.

Unsurprisingly there are various obfuscating services in bitcoin which basically launder money to hide where it came from. e.g. some services will for a fee issue new bitcoins in exchange for the tainted old bitcoins. Some services use "tumblers" which continuously scramble and mix bitcoins around to obfuscate their origins.

Despite all this I expect the only thing stopping most transactions being traced is the determination and time / money cost the attacker to find the start and end point. The more illegal the use of the money the more likely that law enforcement is going to expend the effort to find out where it came from.

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What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight

DrXym
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Re: Didn't I read on here....

Currently it's "free" on a stupidly expensive phone contract - $87 a month(!) for 12 months or $80 a month for 24 months for a pathetic 2GB data plan. Two things to conclude from this are 1) Americans are *really* getting screwed by their phone providers and 2) having to dropping a grand to get the free thing isn't free.

Without contract it's $199 which IMO is somewhat more palatable but in a market filled with cheaper, similar spec phones hardly a bargain.

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DrXym
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Not hard to understand why it flopped

It was overpriced, underpowered, underfeatured and running some funny OS called Fire OS. Some people might know Fire OS is a fork of Android but even they wouldn't see it as a good thing.

About the only unique about the phone was also those cameras on the front - five(!) in total, four of which were for some headtracking 3D effect that few apps bothered with. A lot of complexity and cost for a gimmick.

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Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked

DrXym
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Fabulous news

I see absolutely no downsides with using hacked apps from some dodgy Chinese app store. I'm sure the cracked apps need all those permissions for a good reason.

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Toyota to launch hydrogen (ie, NATURAL GAS) powered fuel cell hybrid

DrXym
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Re: Got to start somewhere

If petrol stations can safely store propane, lpg, petrol and diesel then I don't see the huge additional risk of storing hydrogen. Some buses around London already use hydrogen power so it can be applied in practice.

But it does seem somewhat more useful if the source of fuel is naturally a liquid or solid at normal temperatures to simplify the refuelling process and the need to have pressurized containers in vehicles.

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DrXym
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Got to start somewhere

I doubt even Toyota see this vehicle as selling in huge numbers but it might whet the public's appetite and reveal the practicalities of fuel cells. Personally I'd envisage the future as being a hybrid with either a fuel cell or a micro turbine that provides power to batteries or directly to a drive train.

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Blackpool hotel 'fines' couple £100 for crap TripAdvisor review

DrXym
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Re: Blackpool

I doubt it's so much "poor old dears" as "drunken fighty scumbags". Even so, Blackpool town council should be enforcing standards in hotels to protect / improve its reputation as a destination. If a hotel can't or won't improve, close it down.

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DrXym
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The 1* review wasn't out of place

I looked through the bad reviews last night and they ran back months. This place has been a filthy kip for a long time. Why they'd want to charge for one bad review I don't know but it'll just cement this place's reputation as a hovel.

It's not the first Blackpool hotel to be slagged off and I doubt it'll be the last. A few months back another place was finally shut down after years of complaints - health and safety discovered the roof was held in place with a scaffolding pole after a botched loft conversion.

Blackpool is a tourist trap and consequently enjoys a fresh footfall of undiscerning visitors who ensure even the most squalid hotels are filled. The local council should force hotels to meet some minimum standard of cleaniness, safety and service or close down.

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NOKIA - Not FINNished yet! BEHOLD the somewhat DULL MYSTERY DEVICE!

DrXym
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"Yes really. Nokia could have gone with Google but in doing so they would have scrapped billions of dollars worth of services and time spent on those services."

They wouldn't have had to scrap anything. I just said what they *could* have done. They would have had enormous latitude to customize the software experience and bundled their own apps and services.

"Instead, they went with Microsoft and got $2billion cash per year and somebody to buy off their sinking handset division."

And that's the only reason. An enormous hat full of money, or rather whatever passes for money coming from Microsoft - licences, software support, broken dreams etc.

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DrXym
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"That's the main reason why they never went Android in the first place."

That would be a pretty preposterous reason. Lots of devices ship with two stores. Some even ship with their own proprietary store.

"Nokia have an enormous investment in services. What used to be Ovi is now Here (or just Nokia) and supplies a whole lot of really good maps and other shit which Google would relegate to "thing in App Drawer that you never use because of all the Google services". That would have been basically pissing away everything they spent on making those services (which are still Nokia, not Microsoft) excellent."

I don't see it stopping them from shipping their own suite of apps any more than Samsung ships its own suite of apps. I'm certain that customers would see the value add of having an offline satnav as a compelling reason to use a Nokia device.

"Google Play was always the problem. Not Elop, not burning platforms, just Google."

I find that extremely unlikely. If they *had* gone with Android then they could have skinned it any way they liked, e.g. giving it a look and feel consistent with their Symbian devices. They could have also shipped their own value add apps and store application. And they could have even produced a Symbian or QT framework over their OS to foster development on their platform. So they could have had a device which carried over all those Symbian devs and users instead of just telling them to get lost.

Instead they went to Microsoft where it was Microsoft's way or the high way. Yeah they shipped a handful of apps in the end but it was a weak effort as to what they could have done.

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The Toyota Aygo is PARKtastic ... but it is very much a City slicker

DrXym
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Better around cities than elsewhere

I rented a car at Stanstead and what did I get? A Peugot 107. The driving experience was perfectly fine and it was great for around town. But boot space was puny- enough for a backpack and a couple of bags of shopping. It didn't come with space for a spare tyre either - just a can of gunk to spray into the the flat.

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Sony SPILLS GUTS on OTT service, so far for PlayStations only

DrXym
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A $25 stick could implement this

If Sony have any sense they'll produce a plugin stick which can provide this service, or implement an app which allows it to be streamed via chromecast.

It doesn't need any storage, it doesn't need much by way of a UI - it just has to be able to authenticate a user and connect to content on demand. The content could be a livestream, VOD or a "recording" which is basically just a timeshifted stream marked by a start / end timestamp.

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Moshi Monsters' daddy Mind Candy: Falling sales, £2.2m loss...

DrXym
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Re: "...nothing for the early users who grew up..."

"Mine watches minecraft videos all the time too ... I dont get it either"

My eldest does too. There is some guy on YouTube who has done hundreds of these videos and whose voice takes on a particularly twatty annoying quality after listening to it for a while.

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DrXym
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Re: new commercial model

Moshi Monsters isn't a scam. It's a fair and transparent transaction - you pay a fixed fee and you get to play for a fixed duration, e.g. €5 for a month. Playing meant doing what you wanted - decorating your house, planting seeds, caring for your monster, going on quests, making friends. You could even play without a sub but some of the features were locked off.

The one serious objection I could raise about Moshi Monsters and Club Penguin is if you pay for a month then they set it to automatically renew which is intensely annoying.

But these days is that kids have moved on from computers to tablets and from subscription services to freemium "games". And most of these are lame farmville style efforts where you have to build a zoo, or a dinosaur park, or a monster jungle, or a village of some kind. And these ARE scams. They are not games, they're skinner boxes designed to hook people to the action/reward cycle and then screw people for cash in order to overcome time barriers.

I have said point blank to the kids that I will not pay a penny on these sorts of games.

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LARGE, ROUND and FEELS SO GOOD in your hand: Yes! It's a Nexus 6

DrXym
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Re: Very meh ....

I got a OnePlus as well just recently. £279 for a 64Gb 5.5" phone is just insane. It's a very nice phone - well designed with Cyanogen based version of Android on it, responsive, a bright high dpi screen and cheap. Cyanogenmod offers the sort of customization people actually want in a phone - privacy features and a light dusting of improvements throughout the UI without ruining it. My phone suffered some random reboots but an update fixed that.

Biggest gripe is the back of the phone which I thought was kind of granite effect but turns out to be more like velvet. It's not going to slide on a table but I bet it picks up stains from coffee, butter etc. over time.

Their website and the whole 1-hour sale was a total shambles though. It was so flakey I wasn't even sure if I'd managed to order a phone for a day or two until after the sale ended.

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Sky: We're no longer calling ourselves British. Yep. And Broadcasting can do one, too

DrXym
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Re: In memoriam

It might not a BSB dish because some wireless ethernet / broadband antennae look like that.

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DrXym
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Re: So does this mean

"£240 is peanuts; if you include the cost of the internet connection and XBox Live, you barely have change for 2 XBox One games. For a whole year."

It's peanuts if you find yourself immersed in Sky's content and are prepared to overlook the copious amount of advertising which goes with your paid subscription.

Personally I'm happy with freesat although I augment it with a netflix sub.

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Old hat: Fedora 21 beta late than never... and could be best ever

DrXym
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Re: So has KDE been waylandified?

"I'm really rather hoping we get a tit for tat war between Mir and Wayland in some respect, sort how it took OS X's aqua-desktop-thingy before Microsoft started adding visual polish (or at least attempts at it) to Windows."

Canonical poisoned their own well by imposing an extremely onerous licence arrangement onto Mir (GPL3 or CPL). Significant contributors like Intel walked away from it. Wayland uses an MIT licence so it's basically a drop-in replacement for X and poses no issue.

So I doubt Mir will succeed in the long term unless Canonical breaks through in the tablet space. At present they're more or less having to develop, contribute and maintain patches by themselves as opposed to Wayland which has far broader support.

I doubt an end user would know nor care if it was Mir or Wayland under the covers. The most likely impact on the user experience are that windows and the desktop as a whole feels more responsive and makes better use of their GPU.

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DrXym
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Re: So has KDE been waylandified?

KDE has a backend for wayland although it's probably got rough edges like GNOME.

Desktop Linux will definitely benefit when wayland breaks through and becomes the default. X can be something that runs on top of it and over time might even be moved out of the core packages when nothing else in there depends on it.

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Trickle-down economics WORKS: SpaceShipTwo is a PRIME EXAMPLE

DrXym
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Re: A far better example

"Imagine a SpaceShipTwo with no passengers, but a set of doors that could open like the American's space shuttle. As the SpaceShipTwo vehicle nears it's apogee, it deploys the satellite which has it's own booster to take it up to low earth orbit."

So a plane that carries a rocket plane that carries a rocket with at least 3 humans inside. You only have to multiply the failure modes of each vehicle together to see how disastrous this is.

And all to launch teeny tiny satellites into a very low earth orbit.

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DrXym
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Re: A far better example

"The same Tom Bower who was all over the media crowing about SpaceShipTwo's rocket "exploding", before the true nature of the accident had emerged?"

It would be the same Tom Bower who has been critical of this project for a long time and not the only one. And regardless of the cause there is no denying this project has turned into a boondoggle.

It is not hard to find critical articles about the bad choices and broken promises surrounding this project. People just don't want to listen because hey it's cuddly Richard Branson.

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DrXym
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Re: A far better example

"I would say that argument works even if you think Richard Branson is a bit of an idiot."

I wouldn't say he is an idiot but that doesn't mean he is infallible or impervious to criticism. This particular project has been a money pit and has already killed 4 people thanks to some questionable choices which might have made sense when chasing the X prize but not when trying to commercialize space travel.

"Quoting Tom Bower's work in any serious context really undermines any argument."

Again, only if you believe Branson is impervious to criticism.

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DrXym
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Re: A far better example

"That's your opinion, Branson thinks he knows better than you. And considering that he actually has paid people to look into this, he's probably more right than you (unless you're a secret rocket inventor)."

That argument only works if you think Branson is infallible or should be immune from skepticism. Read Tom Bower's book about Branson for a different perspective of him and the project.

Secondly yourself and others appear to be taking affront at a simple (and obvious) observation that there are better examples of trickle down economics than this. This project, even it succeeds has very little practical use - it's a suborbital joy ride, not a viable vehicle for launching satellites, or people into space. The ticket price might drop but it's never going to result in a huge number of jobs or manufacturing or anything else. There is very little trickle down at all in fact.

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DrXym
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Re: A far better example

"Not directly, but it's a step on the journey. "

There are far more viable options for space tourism / colonisation / utility loading than a craft which bungs people into a high altitude trajectory.

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DrXym
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A far better example

Would be Tesla motorcars with sports cars and luxury saloons paving the way to more mainstream vehicles.

Branson's effort was very unlikely to lead to either space tourism or something with a more practical or mass market use.

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Google Glassholes haven't achieved 'social acceptance' - report

DrXym
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Re: The real reason...

"(and getting punched)."

Maybe the device can detect a punch gesture and call an ambulance.

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DrXym
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Google Glass is still a thing?

I thought the almost universal criticism of them plus many months of silence from Google meant they had quietly shelved the idea.

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That 'TECH-FREE' Nophone? It was already out years ago

DrXym
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Re: Why would anyone want one or invest in such a thing?

Because it's hip and ironic. Or something.

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Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins

DrXym
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Skype is a very large piece of software

I hope whatever they "bake" into IE is just a relatively small VOIP plugin hooked up to a webservice that implements the rest of the protocol. No need for the bloat of the client really.

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Mozilla releases geolocating WiFi sniffer for Android

DrXym
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Re: Slightly offtopic but

I assume they have the same name but have a different MAC address. Besides, the list could hold the last known location of a hotspot to deal with dupes, or even use a phone's cell location (if it has a phone stack) as a last resort when they don't know anything about the hotspot. Anything would be better than a flat list.

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DrXym
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Slightly offtopic but

I wish Android and other mobe OSes would sort their remembered wifi spots by geographic location and when they were last used. I must have about 100 in my list and I can't remember where half of them are from or whether I might need them again. Let me sort by location and bulk erase them.

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Even a broken watch is right twice a day: Not an un-charged Apple Watch

DrXym
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My watch is the opposite

The more I use my watch the longer it lasts because has a kinetic charger. If I don't wear it for a few days it'll stop updating the watch face but will continue to maintain the time internally for as long as the battery holds out. When I pick it up and give it some charge the hands whir around to the correct time.

Anyway, I have to wonder what the hell anyone is thinking to buy a "smart" watch which can't even go a day without a charge. What is it that the phone actually does that remotely justifies such a pitiful battery life?

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Microsoft has Windows Server running on ARM: report

DrXym
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Re: Linux ahead(as per usual)

We have to support a device which the company unwisely chose to be burden with Windows CE. We have to build with Developer Studio 2005 because Microsoft dropped support for their own OS in later releases.

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DrXym
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Not the first time

Windows has variously run on MIPS, Alpha, PowerPC, ARM and Itanium in the past. The actual challenge has less to do with the hardware Windows is running on and more with persuading 3rd parties to support it.

I bet 3rd parties already find it a hassle to make 32-bit / 64-bit builds of their software without adding another architecture. Microsoft could make it more attractive if their compilers could spit out virtual machine executables (using something like LLVM bitcode) which could run on any architecture at near native speeds.

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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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