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* Posts by Shane Sturrock

85 posts • joined 13 Sep 2007

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Say goodbye to landfill Android: Top 10 cheap 'n' cheerful smartphones

Shane Sturrock

Re: 75 bucks? WTF?

Not sure about the exchange rate on Gil Gerards unfortunately. Back in the day I suspect you could get a lot for your 'Buck' but these days he's looking more like Jabba the Hutt.

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REVEALED: Reg trails claw along Apple's 'austerity' 21.5-inch iMac

Shane Sturrock

Re: Mundane, these days, includes home videos

I ran iMovie fine on my old MacBook Air which had specs very similar to this machine although the RAM was half the 8GB of the iMac. I've even got a 2009 Mac mini upgraded to 8GB and a 960GB SSD which happily chugs away with iMovie too even with just a Core 2 Duo rather than i5.

Compared to my PC running Windows 7 on a Quad Phenom with 4GB, all my Macs run rings around it. Specs are one thing, but the OS is something else. The Mac is a whole package and I can certainly see where users would like this machine. Not to mention, once you've run it for five years, you can always buy a mini and plug that in and use the iMac as a screen instead. Personally, I bought a 20" cinema display back in 2004 and I'm on my second Mac mini with that having retired an old G4 PPC model when switching to the Intel one I currently run. I'll probably run it for another year or two and then buy another. Perfect little workhorse.

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Alienware says it WILL ship a Steam Machine in 2014 – running Windows

Shane Sturrock

Re: How would this really differ - from an Xbox

I have a Windows box for gaming and an Xbox 360 controller is OK in big picture but too many games don't support it or only partially support it so you can't really get away from needing a keyboard and mouse attached. The benefit of the Steam controller was that it could replace the keyboard and mouse for games that didn't support a console controller. This thing is a rather underspec Windows box with all the attendant baggage. I wouldn't give it a space under my TV without the Steam controller.

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Kiwis get cracking with gigabit residential broadband

Shane Sturrock

Fast network to the home is all well and good, but it doesn't really help when the trans pacific link is still dog slow. I'm sticking with ADSL2 for the moment because that isn't currently the bottleneck.

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Android is a BURNING 'hellstew' of malware, cackles Apple's Cook

Shane Sturrock

Re: That's what my boss used to shout

You can still buy a brand new (admittedly very cheap) android phone with Gingerbread. I was issued a Gingerbread phone about four years back and it was terrible - one of those slider things with the physical keyboard which kept slipping out and was pretty useless for my big thumbs. The battery life was dire too. I ended up buying the iPhone 4 out of my own hard earned cash and I'm still running that. It is struggling a little under iOS7 but still works pretty well. I've tried a few of the latest Android phones and like the Nexus 5 a lot but I have to say that the integration of iOS8 with OS X.10 is swinging things back in favour of iPhone. Whether I go full retard and buy the latest and greatest or just dial it back several notches and get a used 4S so I can get the features I'm after and keep my current set of peripherals is the big question.

The reality is that Android has indeed come on in leaps and bounds, and Google is pushing Apple hard and vice versa. If it is your money, spend it wisely. I'm a Mac user and I've enjoyed my iPhone 4 a lot more than any other mobile phone right back to the old Nokia 5110 I started with. I buy Apple gear because it works well for me and is by far the best value for money due to the lifespan of the hardware. My cash, my choice.

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Bing's the thing in Microsoft's push for cheap Windows devices

Shane Sturrock

Re: Anti-trust?

Antitrust oversight is over now so MS can get back to business as usual without all that pesky business of the government looking over their shoulder. It will likely take years before their behaviour lands them in court again so they've got time to really screw the market over again like they did in the 90's if we let them. Of course, the world is a very different place today as there are far more options for internet access than just a PC so they don't really have the same hitting power they did back then. Still, best to be safe and not buy any of their stuff just in case.

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Valve's Steam streaming service lets you play games on the toilet

Shane Sturrock

Works surprisingly well even over wifi

I tried a few games on my Mac mini via ethernet and they were fine. There was a little mouse lag but switching to my Xbox 360 controller masked that quite well. Some fast games will put you at a disadvantage but I can now play Train Simulator on my Mac. How far we have come.....

Seriously though, I even fired up my retina MBP over wifi and was able to play most games pretty well. There was obvious video degradation when playing Just Cause 2 but if I dropped the resolution that could be handled. Again, lag was a bit of a problem but I suspect my slow network wasn't helping things.

All in all though, a wired dedicated SteamBox able to access games from my Windows box would be of more value to me than a PS4 or XboxOne simply because I already have a large game selection and many many more for next to no money.

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Microsoft Surface 3 Pro: Flip me over, fondle me up

Shane Sturrock

This hybrid laptop/tablet approach still doesn't work

I just replaced my three year old MacBook Air with a new Retina MacBook Pro 13" and bumped the specs to 16GB RAM and 500GB SSD. That's a serious little laptop right there. I can run VMWare Fusion with multiple OS's each with plenty of RAM to do real testing, and the speed of the SSD is amazing. A huge step up from my old MBA. Add my trusty iPad and iPhone and I'm all set. I've got the perfect laptop, along with a phone and tablet which have oodles of great apps and work really nicely together. Nailing all that functionality into a single device is the dumbest idea ever. I see people on planes struggling to use their Surface Pro, especially the front seat guys with the wobbly tables that come out of the arm rest and I'm happily able to pull my iPad out of my bag and kick back. If I need to do some work, the MacBook Pro is there too and it is small enough that I barely notice the extra bulk over the Air it replaced.

I know we all know this, and I know we all told MS what we thought long before Windows 8 hit the shelves but they persisted anyway. Their app store is terribly weak, the OS feels like the front of a ford cortina welded onto the back of a tractor the fit and finish is so bad and then they stick out this wobbly piece of kit which just has to have a stable desk to use in which case, why not just get a laptop? The next round I may even forget the iPad and just get a bigger phone as I've had a play with a few of the modern Android phablets and they're really getting there. I don't think there's much to touch the Mac laptop for the moment, especially not with Windows on.

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Microsoft: You know we said NO MORE XP PATCHES? Well ...

Shane Sturrock

MS created this situation

MS actively tied features into XP and IE to allow them to lock users onto their platform at the time. Unfortunately, a lot of developers went along with this and built tools and websites around IE6 and were so tied to it that they couldn't work on even later versions of IE which is why there are still IE6 users out there. This quackery hackery of theirs also made it exceedingly difficult to get off XP in the future and now we're seeing the results. All that money put into technologies that would only work on XP forced the OS to stay around for as long as it has and then stinkers like Vista, Vista again but with the rough edges knocked off (7) and now 8 (just no, really, no) why should anyone be surprised that XP still holds 30% of the Windows market?

Will the customers learn from this and avoid this sort of lockin in future? I don't know. The proliferation of other platforms may prevent it because creating an environment around a single browser version isn't practical today so I'm hopeful at least.

For now though, MS should be made to support XP because they can't claim they didn't make this problem in the first place. I don't care that it is old, it still works for a lot of people.

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Not sure if you're STILL running Windows XP? AmIRunningXP.com to the rescue!

Shane Sturrock

Not a reliable test

I am not running XP apparently - but I am although I'm using Chrome rather than IE8. If I use IE8 then it correctly figures out that I am running XP, but not with Chrome.

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MEEELLIONS of unloved iPhone 5Cs gather dust in warehouses – report

Shane Sturrock

Easy fix

Apple needs to add these two options - black back for the black screened phone, and a white front for the white backed one. Do that and they'll sell fine. Give up on the dayglo colours as cases do that but a nice all black or all white phone of the 5c design wouldn't be so fisher-price. I'm running a white iPhone 4 and am looking to run it for as long as possible but when replacement time comes I would like something that is as aesthetically pleasing and the 5c in all its colours isn't.

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Big Content wants Aussies blocked from Netflix

Shane Sturrock

You know what? I would happily use the likes to QuickFlix if it had the content. There's bugger all there. My TV and TiVo are both capable but a bunch of sad BBC back catalogue and a smattering of movies I've already seen long ago isn't going to cut it. The problem isn't the companies trying to deliver, it is the contracts that mean these companies can't get the material while Netflix can. Now, I don't use Netflix either but I know plenty who do and the cross border issues for content occur there too. In a world with digital delivery this all seems pathetic. It reminds me of years back when I used to buy LaserDiscs from the US and the importer told me they couldn't send me the copy of Jurassic Park I had ordered because Pioneer UK was releasing it. It didn't matter that the UK release was much later, or that the speed was wrong (4% pitch up) or that I had ordered the CAV special edition. In the end, I got the version I had pre-ordered but this is just the same old refrain. As long as the borders exist in the media companies peanut minds, the consumer will get shafted and treated like a thief when we are in fact paying for the material. Film distributors like the record companies have no reason to exist in the digital age so they try and legislate themselves into relevance.

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RISE of the MACHINES and Bitcoin: Bill Gates' Reddit tech predictions

Shane Sturrock

Re: Gates FAIL

I agree. I'm old enough to remember the microsoft of old when Bill was in charge. It was under his tenure that MS was dragged into court multiple times for anticompetitive behaviour. The company built a monopoly by shutting out competition after they got a lucky initial start with DOS (bought from a poor shmoe in Seattle) and then took many iterations to get their version of Xerox' GUI to be anything like as good as Apple's (remember Apple paid Xerox in Apple shares for access to the technology, Bill just stole it) and they got to power by being cheap. Then along comes Linux which is even cheaper and the dirty tricks really started (Halloween documents anyone?)

Once the courts found them guilty and should have broken the company up, Bush came in and killed that so they then became the Ballmer run has been we see now. Can this new guy turn the ship around now that they've lost the bi-annual upgrade revenue with many people running their PCs for much longer and buying portable computers AKA tablets and phones instead of a hulking box stuck on a desk (remember you couldn't buy a PC without a new Windows license even if you already had one because they weren't transferable, and yes, you could build your own and migrate across but most people didn't and those sales were like printing money for MS)

I can see what Gates is doing with the money that should be good (although I always worry that the money will come with ties such as when he wants to encourage children to program but only on Windows) but we should remember how he got here and not be fooled by the image he is carefully presenting today.

As for his predictive ability, yes he completely missed a lot (MSN?) but even when he is onto a good idea it generally gets hobbled by MS tying it to other products and if you don't go all the way with MS it is difficult to go anywhere. That's where Google wins these days. We dumped Office largely not because Google products were better, they're not, but the interoperability is there and we can access the material from any device anywhere. That's important and when you compare the cost against the MS options there's no contest.

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Dead Kim Jong-il's OS makeover takes a page from Dead Steve Jobs

Shane Sturrock

Norks.... Are you calling them a bunch of boobs perchance?

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Plastic iPhone 5Cs? Nah, we'll flog India our OLD iPhone 4 models - report

Shane Sturrock

Re: Fragmentation alert!

I'm running iOS 7 on my three year old iPhone 4 and see no reason to upgrade as it is still in perfect condition and does everything I ask of it. I don't expect it will get iOS 8 but unless there's some really fabulous feature, I'll stick with the 4 and get every last cent of value from it. My colleagues are already replacing their android phones, some have done so twice in the time I've been on the 4.

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A whopping one in four Apple fanbois uses OBSOLETE TECH

Shane Sturrock

Sorry, but I have an iPhone 4 as does my wife and both are on iOS7 just fine. The upgrade brought almost everything that iOS7 had to offer to this old handset and it performs decently. Some of the effects aren't there (parallax, blur on the notifications drop down) but otherwise it works. I like the new controls for shutting down apps and the control panel that comes up is a bonus for turning bits and bobs on and off. I've had this phone over two years and will definitely run it for another year and then consider my situation once iOS8 drops as that will definitely drop support for the iPhone 4. Then again, the hardware is still pristine and it still does everything I've asked of it. The few times it does get slow there's some app running in the background but shutting down that fixes it. I've found iOS7 improves my phone so I'm happy with the upgrade.

I've still got an iPod Touch 4 which is running iOS 6 and going back to that, or to my first gen iPad on iOS 5 feels like a step back for sure. Then agin, both those devices still work and are useful to me so they'll stick around as I tend to run my Apple gear for as long as possible which is why I feel it is good value. My Apple laptops typically do at least 5 years service which with the sort of travelling I do and the constant banging about they get is about five times what I ever got out of other brands unless you're talking ThinkPads (the real IBM variety) which were every bit as expensive and not as nice to use.

Label me a fanboi if you like but I've been using Apple gear for a decade now and I have always liked the hardware. Sometimes the software has been a bit twitchy but they generally fix it pretty quickly and their customer service is second to none.

My next phone won't be an iPhone 5S, it might not even be an iPhone 6 but it will be an iPhone.

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Schiller: 'Almost everyone' at Apple works on iPhones - not Macs or anything

Shane Sturrock

Re: yeah right.

Jeeze, Apple didn't 'need' $150 million from Microsoft. They still had $1,000 million in the bank. The problem was they were in a long and drawn out legal fight with Microsoft and Jobs decided that it wasn't worth it so as a face saving deal and a way to cement the relationship, Apple sold $150 million of shares to MS - they were non-voting stock so MS couldn't do anything with them. The deal enabled both sides to pull back from a futile battle and kept Office on the Mac. Jobs saved Apple by killing off the multitude of slightly different product lines and getting them to focus, plus Apple based Mac OS X on NextStep which gave them a real operating system.

Jobs saved Apple. Not MS. I agree Apple would probably have run out of steam and been bought up by some other company if Jobs hadn't come in (Apple essentially paid Next to take them over) but it was never because they needed MS' money to survive. They needed Jobs. The real question now is whether Jobs would continue with the war against Samsung at this point or would he decide that it wasn't worth it as he did with MS because it was well known he fought MS for a long time because they were 'stealing my stuff!' (go watch Pirates of Silicon Valley) and it appears Apple is at a similar situation now. The difference is that the company doesn't focus on market share but profit and you have to understand that in a market growing as fast as smartphones, losing market share isn't a surprise when you basically owned the market but they sell a whole lot more iPhones now than they did even a few years back. Sure, they could make a really cheap nasty phone (as the 5C was rumoured to be but didn't turn out as such) and gain market share but at what cost to their bottom line? Samsung sells a lot of crap phones with the Galaxy name and those are what drives market share.

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How to relieve Microsoft's Surface RT piles problem

Shane Sturrock

Transitive could allow them to run x86 on ARM

Apple went through a transition from PPC to x86 with OS X and used Rosetta based on Transitive technology to do dynamic recompilation. Performance of PPC code fully emulated (such as a PPC compiled command line executable) was dire as I remember testing one and seeing it ran at about 10% of the speed of a native binary. PPC emulation was always hard - look at how well PearPC worked for example. The thing that made Rosetta work so well was that the majority of code that an application like MS Office:mac was running was actually calls to OS provided libraries and by recompiling those to native x86 and using Rosetta to recompile just the non-graphical parts PPC programs actually ran pretty well.

Could x86 binaries run reasonably on an ARM compiled version of Windows using an equivalent of Rosetta? Sure, why not? Why didn't MS do so? Probably cost since they're already taking a bath on the devices but it seems that they would have had much more success if they had been able to bring all the Windows applications along for the ride and provide a way of dealing with multi platform 'universal' binaries like Apple. I wouldn't even worry about trying to run 64 bit x86 on ARM as there's still plenty of legacy 32 bit code out there but this is all academic. MS screwed WinRT from the outset.

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Here's what YOU WON'T be able to do with your PlayStation 4

Shane Sturrock

Steam and WiiU for me then

I'm going to try SteamOS on my PC (games being the only reason I have Windows installed) and buy a WiiU. Sony and MS are both shafting their customers and I'm not willing to pay them for a reaming.

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Samsung is officially the WORLD'S BIGGEST smartphone maker

Shane Sturrock

How many of these are nasty Galaxy mini landfill phones?

Samsung makes a mind boggling range of smartphones. Some are good, some less so, and then there's the bottom of the range cheapies. Would be interesting to see what proportion of their range accounts for their volume. A good Android phone is a nice device (our office has pretty much all bought Nexus 4's) but my experience with Samsung phones hasn't been so good as I don't like their attitude to updates or the changes they've made from stock Android. However, it is painfully obvious that many people are buying based on price and the 'galaxy' brand which is why they've spread that all over their range. What I don't tend to see is much loyalty with buyers of their phones and their practices regarding updates and the recent region locking issues don't endear them.

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Pop OS X Mavericks on your Mac for FREE while you have LUNCH

Shane Sturrock

Re: And now the world waits...

OS X v7 (aka Lion)

OS X v8 (aka Mountain Lion)

OS X v9 (aka Mavericks)

OS X is vastly different from the earlier Mac OS (9 and earlier) and based on a UNIX core. The X is a play on that UNIX naming and they don't really want to lose it so for the life of OS X it will always be OS 'ten' and every new version will be numbered as a 'point' release. Forget about the 10 part and focus on the next number to understand.

Speaking as a software developer, version numbers are largely arbitrary anyway. There's very little that says you've done enough to justify a whole new version. We've even gone so far as to decide right at the last minute that a point release should end up being marketed as a whole new version just because. The end user perception of what a full release is obviously drives much of this from a marketing perspective.

As with each previous release of OS X, there's enough in Mavericks to justify a new version number. MS going from Vista to 7? On the face of it, not much to be honest, especially when you look at Vista SP2 where performance is little different from 7 in practice. Some things 7 did better were how it managed the services it ran on startup because Vista is a real dog for some time after it boots until things settle down. 7 is better but mostly it works like a Vista service pack with just some visible changes like the new task bar.

Just understand that arguing that OS X Mavericks is just a service pack sounds pretty ridiculous to someone who works as a software developer and knows how arbitrary numbering really is.

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Apple: Now that you've updated to iOS 7... YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK

Shane Sturrock

Re: FFS

At least with my iPhone I can rock up to any phone shop in the world and buy a SIM that will work in it since it was bought unlocked as is required by local law here in NZ. Go buy a European Samsung phone and do the same, I dare you.

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iOS 7 SPANKS Samsung's Android in user-experience rating

Shane Sturrock

Re: Can you spell horseshit?

I have to admit that I updated my iPhone 4 and iPad mini to iOS7 and instantly regretted it. My eyesight isn't what it used to be and I struggled to find thing with the super fine text. This looked extra bad on the iPad mini which doesn't have a retina screen because the standard fonts are so fine they are poorly rendered when the screen has so few pixels to play with. Turns out though, somewhere in the beta testing Apple noticed and if you go into the preferences->general->accessibility options and turn on bold text, then reboot, your device comes back with much more legible fonts for these old eyes. Much happier now with iOS7 and it even runs decently well on an old iPhone 4 so I can keep the old girl around for another year or two before rocking up and buying the latest smartphone. Who knows, by then it will be clear Android is the way for me to go but at the time I got the iPhone there were too many 'droid phones around running Gingerbread which was horrible.

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Peak Apple: Samsung hits DOUBLE the market share of iPhones

Shane Sturrock

Re: anyone know the breakdown

The cheap Samsung Galaxy mini is a piece of crap and an embarrassment to the brand. The trouble is Samsung puts out so many different phones under the Galaxy brand and some are good, while some are terrible. So many sizes, different configurations for the same phone in different markets, a terrible twist in Android too. Apple can't and won't compete with that - the legacy of Job's tenure is simple choices. They will likely stop making the iPhone 4 and 4S when the 5C is available to rationalise their product line and make a good profit. That's the real question - Apple makes good money on all their devices and can they continue to do that with falling margins? The majority of smartphone manufacturers make next to nothing on theirs, just Samsung and Apple grabbing the lion's share of profits. Seems like Samsung is Microsoft this time around and Apple is Apple again.

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Microsoft Surface sales numbers revealed as SHOCKINGLY HIDEOUS

Shane Sturrock

You are obviously the target market - you can see the benefit of a tablet cum laptop. Unfortunately, there aren't many of you. Personally, I like a full laptop and an iPad rather than having it all in one device and I appear to be the more common customer. I think they misjudged the numbers who would buy their vision incredibly badly which, while surprising to Microsoft, comes as no surprise to anyone else.

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Shane Sturrock

Re: Where can I buy one?

JB Hifi has them. They have a large selection of Windows tablets, along with a surface RT and Pro side by side in the one near where I live. They also appear to have customer repellant sprayed on them or something given the crowds around the Apple stand and tumbleweeds around the Microsoft stuff. A salesman told me that they were selling lots to students who wanted Office on their tablet. I think this must be some new use of the word 'lots' of which I was previously unaware because it sure looks like none to me.

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Shane Sturrock
FAIL

Re: Too bad

The classic Windows UI on a tablet has been available for over a decade and people weren't buying it. The iPad doesn't try to be a Mac and uses a completely new finger friendly UI. Windows RT still has a desktop of sorts, along with the cut and shut Modern UI but with very few apps since there was no strong Windows Phone store environment the RT could pull from. It is an OS that is undiscoverable and still has the flipping Windows desktop to access Office (or part of it at least) which is decidedly un-finger friendly so what you get is a floppy sort of of laptop where the screen won't stand up unless it is on a flat surface and where you really need a keyboard of sorts to handle the app most users buy it for which isn't a modern app anyway, and the whole thing looks clumsy compared to an iPad which knows it is a tablet and doesn't try to be anything else. None of this is surprising, nor is the fact that customers haven't miraculously appeared for the thing.

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Apple needs help: iWatch, 'Retina' iPad mini delayed until 2014?

Shane Sturrock

A6 probably, not A5X or A6X

There's no need for the 'X' type chips because those are built to drive a retina display (4x the pixels to move) so they'll likely put an A6 in if it continues to run with the 1024x768 display of the iPad1/2 and current mini.

I'm not surprised they're struggling - many have asked why Apple can't do this and yet the Android tablets have higher resolutions than the iPad mini, but they don't have the number of pixels moving around in a mini size, in fact typically they have about half as many. Apple won't want a thicker heavier iPad mini sticking out a lot of heat as they had with the iPad 3 so they need to wait for denser batteries or more efficient CPU/GPU and displays to get there. Since the display is the biggest drain on the battery that is the limiting factor since a retina display needs a much brighter backlight. They probably need a new display technology to make it really work (IGZO?) and that would likely land on the full size iPad first.

0
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Euro PC shipments plummet into bottomless pit of DOOOOM

Shane Sturrock

Re: Perhaps the enforced Microsoft Windows monopoly does not help...?

I'm not sure why this 'very rich' meme continues in relation to Apple laptops. Ten years back, I was buying a new PC laptop every year because the things were built down to a price and simply fell to bits. I looked at better built models (had to really so I could run Linux on them as the really cheap laptops were full of Windows specific gear) but even up at the 1500 quid bracket which was the price of the last Windows laptop I bought, it didn't last more than 12 months before it was a wreck. Toshiba Satellite Pro 3000 just in case you're wondering. Case was cracked, screen backlight died, battery died, keys would fly off the keyboard, power supply cord frayed and snapped, hard drive failed, all just because I carried the thing around in a laptop back all over the world. So, my annual laptop purchasing trip had me looking at the iBook G4 which had just come out and it was 500 quid cheaper than that Toshiba and ran UNIX natively so I figured what the heck? Ten years on, that machine still works. I had a solid three years of main machine use before I bought a MacBook Pro in 2006 which cost 2 grand admittedly, but here we are seven years later and that is still in daily use despite me coming off my bike a couple of times with it in my rucksack and it having a few dents. Now I'm on a MacBook Air and loving it. It may have cost a bit more than the cheapie little Windows laptops but it isn't made of brittle plastic and it isn't bogged down by Windows and all that anti-virus muck so it zips along really well. I'm not rich and I buy Apple because they have a proven track record in my hands as good solid machines. I do have a Windows desktop but I don't like it much and just replaced it as my main desktop machine with a Mac mini which may have half the processor cores and be the size of a sandwich, but it is way faster in actual use than Windows 7 ever was.

0
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Microsoft splashes big bucks to blast Google Apps

Shane Sturrock

Re: Lucky

I keep an XP VM with Office installed around just for this purpose. I actually have Office:mac 2011 too but if I was still purely on Linux, either Office on XP in VirtualBox or Crossover Office would do the trick for running MS tool without borking my entire life by having to run that dog's breakfast that is Windows for everything.

1
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Oracle loses appeal in HP row over Itanium

Shane Sturrock
FAIL

Re: Lots Of IT Propaganda Whores Here

"In my humble opinion, dropping the Alpha was possible HP's worst move of all if they had any intention of being in the non-commodity hardware business."

Pretty much anyone who had any experience of Alpha would agree. I programmed Alpha and had a few as home machines running 64 bit Linux at a time when the FP performance for a 21264 box was 8x that of the fastest Intel processor and for integer work, having 32 full 64 bit registers, register renaming, instruction reordering and four independent integer pipelines with two floating point all lead to a very very fast CPU which you could write assembly for almost like a high level language. For years various wags had been claiming Intel would roll into the 64 bit market and take over with Merced. Well, that didn't happen and while HP had been busy working with Intel to develop it and kill their own PA RISC, Compaq bought DEC and got the Alpha business and continued to develop it. When HP bought Compaq, they killed Alpha because it competed with their own plans. That was a mistake. They took the best performing, most scalable CPU architecture on the market and killed it when it was the speed king and they replaced it with an untried architecture which relied on very smart compilers to get any performance (anyone else remember the dreadful i860 from Intel?) and of course that didn't work. Many Alpha engineers hit the market, quite a few got sucked into AMD and the Opteron was the result and it has taken years for Intel to get properly competitive with those and they could only do it because of their strength of market position and deep pockets.

Itanium is the CPU equivalent of Windows 8. It deserved to fail. If only HP could suck it up and relaunch Alpha but it is likely much too late so we get the modern day x86_64 architecture which, while compatible with ia32, is horrible to code for (limited registers, bolt on vector operations that you have to jump through hoops to use and so on) but at least they're cheap.....

2
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Google Maps becomes Apple's most popular app

Shane Sturrock

Errors in google maps too

These companies must hate the antipodes because both sets of maps are full of errors. It may not be as bad as getting lost on the way to Mildura, but Google Maps shows a bus stop outside my house which isn't there. It is about 100m further up the road, and street view clearly shows this but Apple got vilified for having errors in their map data, yet Google also has them too. Even in the US there are problems because I went to visit a friend in Alabama and Google Maps put his street address two miles further down the road than it actually is. Sure, we can and do report these problems, but there must be something wrong with the source database or how the data is being modified to get to these apps because they are both difficult to rely on. Even the public transport feature of the new Google Maps app doesn't seem as good as the one that was in the old Apple built one sadly. Still, the existence of the app was enough for me to finally upgrade my iPhone to iOS 6 so we're getting there.

3
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Hearts, minds and balls: Microsoft's Windows 8 Surface gamble

Shane Sturrock

Re: @Shane Cygwin.

How about deep directory trees? I use those a lot and Windows still can't handle working with paths that are deeper than 256 bytes despite NTFS supporting over 32KB path/filenames. That means many tools have real problems in deep directories because running the command line environment doesn't work and the tools will report files as missing. Try copying directories this deep with Windows Explorer and you'll lose data too. Cygwin is a shim on top of a bad OS so I choose (along with around 90% of my contemporaries in the field) to use a Mac because it isn't that much more expensive than a decent Windows laptop (in fact, many times it is cheaper) and runs UNIX tools natively. I previously ran Linux only from 1995-2003 when I switched to Mac OS X because I needed UNIX on the road.

There are tools I use my iPad for but the use is different to a laptop so I have both and neither is compromised by trying to be the other.

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Shane Sturrock

Re: Not getting either RT or Surface Pro

Our entire company switched to Google Docs because it gives us the ability to share and collaborate on docs much more effectively. MS Office rarely gets used by us any more because all our material is rapidly finding a place on Google Docs since it is so easy for us to share and edit without the formatting getting messed up by moving between platforms as we have windows, Mac and Linux users. Open/LibraOffice aren't a solution, and MS Office doesn't share docs reliably enough with itself on Windows. let alone Mac OS X without even factoring n the users who run OO.org. Google Docs avoids all of this and means we don't have to email docs around either. The ability to see other users editing the same document is really great too. Despite the minor limitations of Google Docs, the advantages are very compelling and really, a lot of the fancy formatting features of MS Office are overkill.

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Shane Sturrock

Re: El Reg just doesn't get it.

I love how "real work" TM always means the ability to run MS Office. I have done real work on computers for thirty years and rarely need to use office since I'm a scientist. Oddly enough, I have an iPad and find it plenty useful. The problem with Windows is it doesn't support the majority of software I run without having to install suboptimal solutions such as Cygwin which means I can't use it for my real work.

Office documents are only a single category of work computers are used for and those of us who actually program and do science have always found windows to be a suboptimal and retarded environment. Windows Pot8o has done nothing to improve the situation.

12
1

Nokia HERE iOS maps app review

Shane Sturrock
Thumb Down

Still no substitute for google maps

While I'm old enough to remember the early days of google maps when it was laughable compared with mapquest, today it is the best so I've stuck with iOS 5 on my iPhone. This is mainly for the public transport directions which have been really useful in foreign cities. I tried HERE in my home town to see how it did with a bus journey home and while google offers a single bus journey, HERE wanted me to take three and the journey time was substantially longer. It needs to get better to be viable, and I'm also not keen on the flat colour scheme which reeks of Windows Phone.

I'll keep waiting for a new google maps app and then upgrade to iOS 6.

0
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Microsoft: Just swallow this tablet ... the rest will take care of itself

Shane Sturrock
Mushroom

Re: "Microsoft actually writes fantastic software"

That list, is it meant to be the crap software? I've experienced much of it and it all frustrated me in a number of ways. Even the much vaunted Windows 7 is a pain the arse many times and still chews through clock cycles like the bastard offspring of Vista that it is. Exchange? Wow. Just Wow. And AD? Oh my...... I've played with Win8 and found it quicker than 7 but otherwise very frustrating. Stick ClassicShell on it and it morphs into 'good' old Windows but still struggles to hide some of the cut and shut nature of the OS. As for Windows Server, I'm not even sure why that should still exist in a world of Linux servers but there's no accounting for taste and I guess if you've been raised in an MS only environment it sort of makes sense but those of us who have more diverse experience know it is easier to run a solid Linux server environment.

7
2

Apple's iPad Mini mishap: scratching out the retina screen

Shane Sturrock

Re: why buy a £269 iPad Mini when you can have an equally serviceable Nexus 7 for £199

We just got a Nexus 7 (16GB version) here in the office for testing and it is built down to a price. It feels cheap, the screen aspect ratio isn't good for browsing because in landscape mode there isn't enough height and in portrait mode it is too narrow to use. It feels flimsy and isn't all that quick. Everyone agrees it isn't an iPad killer, less so an iPad mini killer. I know I would feel quite ripped if I had one and then tried an iPad.

0
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UltraViolet universal movie format still a no-show

Shane Sturrock

Re: Uh huh.

Air Video Server running on my PC streams anywhere in the world, compressing on the fly so I don't even need to have a copy on my phone. Just fire up the client where I've got Wifi (it works over 3G too if you have a decent data cap) such as in a hotel and browse my movie and TV show collection. No problem.

0
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Slideshow: A History of James Bond in 20 Games

Shane Sturrock

Goldeneye 007 Wii?

Why pick Goldeneye Reloaded and not mention that the game originally appeared on the Wii. I picked it up a few weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Certainly the best FPS on the Wii and graphically it isn't too bad. Textures are a bit thin on the ground but it plays well and recreates much of the original N64 version well. Choice of controls (Wiimote+nunchuck, classic controller or GCN controller) mean it is very playable. I ended up settling on my GCN Wavebird.

0
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Sony Vaio T13 Ultrabook review

Shane Sturrock
FAIL

This is not an ultra book

This thing is a laptop, plain and simple. My MacBook Air laughs at these fat pretenders.

3
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Storming quarter sees Apple reassert tablet dominance

Shane Sturrock

Re: Expected

I have an iPad and an iPhone and they both serve their purposes. The tablet works best for sitting down and relaxed browsing while the phone is great on the move and can access data anywhere without me having to deal with a gigantic device. I didn't bother getting the 3G iPad because I can tether off my phone so I usually have the iPad in my backpack and can use it when having a coffee or just work from the phone. Don't see either leaving my life soon as I don't want a phone as big as a tablet, or a tablet as small as a phone (see the Galaxy Note which is ridiculous and hilarious in the hands and held against your face) though I may be tempted to switch to a 7" iPad if one surfaces if I can deal with the smaller screen but to my big fingers the 10" is about right so maybe not.

Where does this leave my MacBook Air? In my bag most of the time when travelling although I use it all day at my desk. The combination of MBA, iPad and iPhone is fantastic though and I can't believe how much I can do on the road these days.

2
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Australia should head-hunt Michael Gove

Shane Sturrock
Thumb Up

Returning to the roots of computing

Back in the late 70s and early 80s before the rise of the IBM PC and compatibles, schools taught pupils about computers. We learned Boolean algebra for crying out loud. The understanding of the principals of computers prepared us for an industry where you will succeed if you can self educate. Teaching students to use MS produces prepares them for a life of drudgery and servitude with little way out. Other countries would do well to model their computer literacy on what the UK is planning and get away from the idea that a computer is just an electronic typewriter or adding machine.

10
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Microsoft revives flight sim by giving it away free

Shane Sturrock

Should have dropped "simulator" years ago

When I was learning to fly the school had an MS FS and Xplane setup. I had Xplane at home and it was quite challenging and I used it and Flightgear to practice circuits without the cost just to get the repetitive steps down pat. When I tired MS FS the first time I did a perfect takeoff, circuit and landing. Smooth as silk, I let go of the controls and declared it unrealistic because I would never have been that smooth in a real aircraft. Xplane was never so friendly but a far better training experience.

1
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Windows 8 fondleslabs: Microsoft tip-toes through PC-makers' disaster

Shane Sturrock
Facepalm

Windows in name only

If these tablets are to compete with the iPad they will need to be based on ARM, not Intel in which case they will have no apps since Windows on ARM can't run Intel binaries. You also only get the Metro interface. Intel based tablets may as well just be a laptop and likely will but with a touch screen bolted on. Battery life will be lousy and so you'll end up tied to a wall socket. So you lose one of the main benefits of Windows (applications) to get competitive battery life, or you lose the battery life and endp with a compromised tablet which will likely cost a bomb. Apple succeeded because the iPhone already had an app base that the iPad could run. MA better get the devs on board quickly with Metro or they're screwed.

3
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Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101

Shane Sturrock

Passing fad?

Interesting that you should say they're a fad. I've had my iPad for over a year now and I carry around a MacBook Air, iPhone 4 and the iPad. Of the three devices, the iPad gets the most use because it has the best browsing experience and sits nicely between the power of the laptop and the portability of the iPhone. I use all three devices in my daily work, but at home it is the iPad that sits next to the sofa. Sure, I can pull the laptop out and it has features that make it better for e-mail for instance, but it is a faff and I can't sit as comfortably as I can with the tablet. I would say tablets are here to stay and they work really well in their intended role.

0
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Does tech suffer blurred vision on 3D future?

Shane Sturrock
FAIL

Headache

I can't sit through more than an hour of '3D' before I have a splitting headache and I'm not alone. I actively look for the 2D showings and it has got quite difficult so I go to the cinema far less and wait for the Blu-ray release and rent it which is far cheaper and with a 100" HD projection system, the home experience is better.

0
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Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy Blu-ray disc set

Shane Sturrock

Connection Machine

It was a CM-5, not a CM-2. I programmed on a relative of the CM-2 (the CM-200) and it didn't look like the CM-5 in the film, not that any of them were particularly quick. The CM-2 series was limited by using a SPARCstation to control execution so compiling code on the host actually slowed down execution on the CM-200. The CM-5 used SPARC2 CPUs so wasn't really all that powerful either. They only used it in the film because it looked pretty but Thinking Machines failed shortly afterwards because their machines were uncompetitive compared with cheaper machines like the MasPar. I ported my C* code from the CM-200 to MasPar's MPL and it was faster on a 1024 processor box than it was on the 16384 processor CM-200.

0
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TiVo chief downunder ejects to the US

Shane Sturrock
Linux

They better keep providing schedules

I bought one of the TiVo HD Freeview boxes here last year to add to my old series 1 Thomson that I brought over from the UK and hacked to work in NZ. Both are still running nicely and it gives me three tunes, two HD Freeview and one SD plugged into my Sky box. Not sure what I'll do if they stop providing TV schedules - hopefully the OzTiVO guys will figure out how to get it on so the new machine will keep going otherwise my 10 year old series 1 will carry on and the new one will be junk.

Tried lots of alternatives but always prefer TiVo. Even the original one is still better than anything else out there.

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