* Posts by Franco

506 posts • joined 11 Apr 2008


Return of the audio format wars and other money-making scams

Franco Silver badge

Re: Behind the curve

Yep, I've seen the same thing, although how many of those cassettes will actually get delivered is another thing given what's going on with Pledge Music

Franco Silver badge

Re: Hmmm...

"I think we're also supposed to complain about the dynamic range compression that is now usually applied to digital audio prior to mastering, as a way of arguing that CDs don't sound better."

As much as that is true (lookup Loudness War on wikipedia if you're not feeling sleepy), that isn't the fault of the CD, it's largely the fault of Rick Rubin if you believe the conspiracy theorists.

Whilst we're on the subject of audiophiles, I may be the only one who remembers this phenomenon. I play the guitar and for a while was in to building and modding effects pedals. This started off as improving on the sound or range use of certain pedals, or modding them back to the specs of the original pedals. However after a while this wasn't good enough for the cork sniffers, and they started promoting the use of audiophile parts such as Burr Brown opamps for reasons of ultra low noise. Which might be a valid reason for using them if we weren't talking about distortion pedals.

HMRC: We 'rigorously tested' IR35 tax-check tool... but have almost nothing to show for it

Franco Silver badge

"However they are doing the same sorts of work as the bigger IT outsourcing operators and consultancies who never get questioned about their IR35 tax status. It is massive hypocrisy."

It certainly is. When IR35 was introduced (supposedly, I.e. we were told) it was to prevent companies (note, not individuals) doing exactly what the BBC have done, yet BBC presenters who have evidence that they were told work through a PSC or you're fired are getting hauled in to the courts and the BBC are sitting down with HMRC over tea and biscuits and discussing what to do.

Very glad to see that several MPs are very aggressively questioning both sides (HMRC and BBC) behaviour over that one.

Franco Silver badge

HMRC's testing is probably, much like their example documentation, grossly skewed in favour of inside scenarios. We already know that the tool does not take Mutuality of Obligation into account at all, yet has been a major factor in pretty much every case that has ever reached the courts.

Franco Silver badge

The "decision" has to be made before recruitment though, without considering working practices which only come in to play once someone is in the role and/or HMRC dip their wick in.

A certain large recruitment firm, who I won't name and shame unless they keep it up, is no longer putting inside or outside IR35 in their job adverts, and is also being rather aggressive in telling people how foolish they think you are when you tell them not interested and wouln't have applied if you had put inside IR35 in the advert.

It probably will shake out somewhere in the middle of your options, however I can also see that lobbying against IR35 reform will get a lot more aggressive as well when all of the large outsourcing companies lose their ability to attract contractors as well, or at the very least have their margins cut a lot finer as rates go up.

Franco Silver badge

"As CEST is a tool for guidance purposes, and not a transactional service, a GDS assessment was not appropriate,"

Only an HMRC spokesman could say that with a straight face, when they have consistently said they will stand by CEST decisions and are launching legal action based on it.

BTW a small clarification is that the decision on inside/outside is not necessarily made by the employer, the definition is that the engager makes the decision which is likely to be a recruitment agency in the majority of cases.

I see as usual for every story about contractors we get the usual assortment of AC trolls, for their benefit Contractors != tax dodgers. Yes, there are some who take the piss but that's the case in every walk of life, just ask your local MP for their expense claims for example.

Using WhatsApp for your business comms? It's either that or reinstall Lotus Notes

Franco Silver badge

Re: Confused

Sadly a very common problem, IME usually it happens when companies merge and no one wants to upset anyone so rather than settling on one option they use multiple.

Spent 2 years on a contract where half the country had Skype for Business for IM/presence/conference calls and the other half had Cisco Jabber, and all of the IT staff had both.

Franco Silver badge

Re: Troos?

I've never seen it spelt troos, only as trews. It's pretty rare to see anyone wearing them either in my experience, other than my graduation ball at University (an affectation of some students for various reasons) and the traditional attire of Doddie Weir when appearing at Murrayfield at this time of year I don't think I've ever seen any outside of the window of kilt shops.

Furious Apple revokes Facebook's enty app cert after Zuck's crew abused it to slurp private data

Franco Silver badge

Re: Will no one rid me of this turbulent pest?

From the article "The app is downloaded outside of the normal Apple App Store, and gives Facebook extraordinary access to a user's phone, allowing the company to see pretty much everything that person does on their device."

You aren't just giving up the contents of your FB profile with this app but a whole lot more

Franco Silver badge

Re: Why didn't they even *try* and hide this

To use the official Facebook cert is lazy.

I would have chosen "arrogant" personally. FB even now having been found out, and being slated for it even on regular news sites such as the BBC, probably don't think they've done anything wrong.

Franco Silver badge

Re: The sound of the world's smallest violin - in the quantum realm

And the tight bastards couldn't cough up for another certificate for something they knew was as dodgy as hell?

No, because as the article states the developer cert was used to get around the fact that Apple had already kicked the app from their store because it broke the rules. The fact that it has now been revoked and broken several other FB apps comes under the category of too bad but it's your own fault. We're not talking about a 3rd party code signing certificate from Verisign or whoever here, but one issued by Apple to appstore developers, so they can't just go and buy one.

It's quite unlikely that Apple will issue a new developer cert to FB without at the very least some legal assurances that it will not be abused again, not that paltry fines seem to be much of a concern to FB or Google when they get caught with their hands in the data cookie jar.

As netizens, devs scream bloody murder over Chrome ad-block block, Googlers insist: It's not set in stone (yet)

Franco Silver badge

Coming on the heels of a recent decision by a "well-beloved corporation," did Microsoft have any input on this? Perhaps a prodding one? I was already wondering that before I hit this article. Probably nothing.

I would doubt it. Not for any reasons of trust in Microsoft, but if Microsoft wanted this change as well Google would have made sure the world knew about it so that the ensuing shit storm would hit them too.

Franco Silver badge

Worlds biggest slinger of ads wants to hamstring most adblockers. Not suspicious at all.

If Google are doing this, as they claim, to try and limit rogue extensions, then I'm calling bullshit. Yes, rogue extensions are an issue but the browser providers then need to do a better job of keeping their stores clean, as Google claims to do with their app store.

As an aside, almost every app on my Android phone that I have concerns over regarding excessive permissions is an Android system app. I would love someone at Google to explain to me why every time I get a phone call (yes, those are still a thing) the Play Services app pops up a warning telling me that it can't function without access to my contacts, calendar, location and pretty much everything else.

Whats(goes)App must come down... World in shock as Zuck decides to intertwine Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp

Franco Silver badge

With my cynics hat on (it's getting a lot of wear lately) I can't help but feeling this press release was carefully timed for the anti-Google backlash regarding proposed change to Chromium.

Only use WhatsApp and I get the feeling that won't last, it'll be gone soon.

Data hackers are like toilet ninjas. This is not a clean crime, you know

Franco Silver badge

Not a story about kitchen filth, but more about (someone else's) OCD so just about relevant.

Much like Dabbsy I was visiting a client and was told that I was free to help myself to the hot beverages from the kitchen. One morning I found a large queue outside the (admittedly tiny) kitchen area and an ungodly smell coming from it. Turned out that one of the DBAs had a fondness for microwaving his morning bananas, which was the cause of the smell (and if you have never smelt hot bananas it is utterly utterly horrifying) but he was also the cause of the queue as he had filled the 3 litre kettle to the brim and boiled it, but would not allow anyone else to take any water from it until he had finished "cooking" his bananas as they wouldn't leave him any water.

Next morning the MD was one of the people in the queue and told him in no uncertain terms that he had the future choice of holding the kettle to ransom, or poisoning the office with awful smells but both would not be tolerated again.

Tens to be disappointed as Windows 10 Mobile death date set: Doomed phone OS won't see 2020

Franco Silver badge

Re: It was...

More than just 7-8-10, Windows Mobile 6.5 with the excellent HTC HD2 and HD Mini were some of the best devices on that platform and had MS's first app store, but they killed that when they went to "Windows Phone 7 Series", and by the time 10 support was killed off they'd been through Visual Studio and Xamarin as well as announcing and then withdrawing the bridges for porting Android, iOS and Web apps to Windows Mobile. Plus universal apps would also require a re-write to support continuum.

Given the projected user base even if it had taken off, it's hardly surprising most companies left their devs focusing on Android and/or iOS.

Franco Silver badge

Personally I think that Windows 8 did help to bring down Windows Mobile to some degree.

Agreed, Windows 8 by the time it became 8.1 was actually pretty good on a touch screen device (I had a Gen 1 Surface Pro back then) but was awful in either 8 or 8.1 versions on a non-touch device.

The live tiles were one of the best features of Windows Mobile for me though, and I also really liked the way info was displayed on the lock screen. The lack of apps never really bothered me, it was lack of battery life on my old phone that led me to switch to Android.

I used to be a dull John Doe. Thanks to Huawei, I'm now James Bond!

Franco Silver badge

Huawei pronunciation is always fun, my stepdad is a Geordie so it tends to be Howay as in "Howay the lads" around him.

Anyway for well priced and well featured midrange Android I'll continue to recommend the HMD Nokias. I've got the 6.1 and it's a great device, although I'm unaware if I'm James Bond, Austion Powers or Johnny English with one of them.

Seeing as Dabbsy left out the usual obscure musical reference this week, cue Johnny Rivers.


You can blame laziness as much as greed for Apple's New Year shock

Franco Silver badge

I've never been an Apple fan, that is no secret from my comment history. My exposure to Apple devices and software is largely through my family on the grounds of Hey, you work in computers so you can fix this (I'm a Windows Server/Virtualisation consultant but hey ho).

I've noticed recently a lot of dick moves from Apple, the sort of thing that Microsoft get slated for (and rightly so) being written off as "progress" with the removal of the headphone jack being a major one. I spent several hours this week trying to get my Mum's laptop to sync photos to her Gen1 AppleTV, only to find that I had to downgrade the iTunes version as Apple had forced an upgrade on her to a version that isn't compatible with the only device it was connected to. Now I know that the Gen1 AppleTV is ancient, but surely a warning is in order if it's going to break syncing with a device, and it wasn't exactly easy to find the info that support had been removed for that device, eventually I found a lot of angry customers on Apple's support forums to get the answer.

Most of my family has now switched to Android phones and tablets, exactly for the reasons in this article, the Apple premium is far too high for what you get (or often don't get).

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish

Franco Silver badge

Re: Any computer game after 1994...

Have an upvote for Deus Ex, I absolutely loved that game although it's sequels/prequels are really not very good.

Have to agree on most games though, pretty much anything I play is part of a series that began before 1994 (Doom, Wolfenstein, Need for Speed occasionally, Duke Nukem Forever if I'm feeling masochistic)

The Great British Curry: Put down the takeaway, you're cooking tonight

Franco Silver badge

Re: Cooking Basmati

My cousin gave me this method for cooking rice, which she got from her Amah when she lived in Macau. It is referred to by my family as "Hoose Rice" after the Kevin Bridges sketch.

Half a cup of rice per person, plus an extra half cup for the pot.

Rinse until water is clear

Just cover with water, at the very most the nail of your pinky above the top of the rice

Place on largest ring of your hob and bring to the boil

Move to smallest ring of hob on lowest setting, cover and leave for 12 minutes

If you get this right the water will all be gone and the rice will be perfect, it's usually dry enough that you can fry it straight away if you are making egg fried rice.

Anyway, glad to see a tribute to Lester and his much missed articles, and in honour of that WHERE'S THE BACON?

Mark Zuckerberg did everything in his power to avoid Facebook becoming the next MySpace – but forgot one crucial detail…

Franco Silver badge

I know we're not there yet, but I don't think it'll take too much more for Facebook's bubble to burst.

John Oliver did a piece recently on Facebook's role in conflict in Myanmar recently for example, largely due to hate speech not being removed either quickly or sometimes at all. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rohingya-un/myanmar-generals-had-genocidal-intent-against-rohingya-must-face-justice-u-n-idUSKCN1LC0KN

Franco Silver badge

<quote>FB is a classic example of a network effect. leaving it for greener pastures would mean being on a scarcely populated social network.</quote>

Would that be such a bad thing? How many of peoples connections on social media are genuinely friends and how many are passing acquaintances they haven't spoken to in years? I accept that getting rid of Facebook would be a challenge for a lot of people, especially since they got their claws in to so many sites as a logon provider.

I was very briefly on Bebo when the social network explosion started, never saw the appeal and deleted my profile. I am now in a situation where Facebook very probably knows a lot about me via people I know, but as I've never had an account I can't ask them to show me what they have (not that they would anyway)

The Palm Palm: The Derringer of smartphones

Franco Silver badge

Re: "useless coin pocket" ?

Almost exactly what I have, mine's a midnite manager which adds an LED torch.

Very useful at this time of year for the inevitable putting batteries in toys on Christmas Day.

Franco Silver badge

Re: "useless coin pocket" ?

For many years I've carried either a Swiss Army Knife or a Leatherman Squirt in that pocket.

Anyway, as nice as the phone looks it's FAR too expensive. Anyone who is so worried about missing calls etc whilst out running, at the gym and so on will already have bought either an arm holder or shorts or leggings with a phone pocket at the rear waistband, and a quick check on Amazon reveals that you could buy a midrange Nokia (and no doubt other 'droids) and a fitness watch for less than the price of this phone.

Doom at 25: The FPS that wowed players, gummed up servers, and enraged admins

Franco Silver badge

Thank you sir, loved "A Vulgar Display of Power".

The metal influence is still there in the franchise, if anyone has played Wolfenstein: The Old Blood they will know the end title song is a cover of La Complainte du Partisan performed by Mick Gordon with Tex Perkins on vocals and it is spectacularly good.


Franco Silver badge

I still fire up DOSBox every so often and have a play of both Doom and Wolf 3D, and these days the new titles in those series are about the only games I buy.

Lots of nice touches in the games, such as the big shit eating grin from BJ in Wolf 3D when he found the gatling gun. The horror aspect of Doom with the dark areas was ground breaking too.

Doom and Wolf 3D are a bit like the first Black Sabbath albums, they laid the platform for what was to come even if they seem a bit primitive in parts now. I feel justified with the heavy metal comparison given the Doom soundtrack was strongly influenced by metal, some of the level music is inspired by Metallica, Slayer and Pantera.

Do not adjust your set: Hats off to Apple, you struggle to shift iPhones 'cos you're oddly ethical

Franco Silver badge

"Please spare me "just because Apple says they aren't doing it doesn't mean they aren't doing it"."

Why, have Apple done something to make you trust them implicitly? It's clear that once one company gets away with something the others will follow. Apple were the first to risk non-user replaceable batteries and were slated for it, now it's the norm across almost all devices.

You asked why Apple might do such a thing, the article gives you the answer. If their devices are lasting longer then they can't make the same amount of money from people upgrading constantly, so they will need to find another way to maintain their revenue stream.

Franco Silver badge

Apple sells media content via iTunes, and wants to also produce it's own content apparently. Are you seriously suggesting that Apple would not use the data they have on existing purchasers to suggest new content that they might be interested in for example?

Just because Apple say they don't do it and like to take the moral high-ground doesn't mean they aren't doing it too. Google's motto was don't be evil, yet they slurp everything and dump zero days exploits in other companies software on to the internet if they aren't patched as quickly as Google would like. Facebook are quite simply pure evil, and Microsoft have many questionable practices that are, if not as bad as the other two at least in terms of data mining, are certainly in the same ballpark.

Let us not forget Apple themselves have done some pretty shady things, with conditions at their partner manufacturing plants, their tax arrangements, excessive vendor lock-in on accessories and maintenance, pushing out new pieces of software as a "recommended update" and forcing the download of a U2 album that no one wanted.

Franco Silver badge

I have the same issue with my Nokia 6.1. I've disabled access to location, contacts etc for pretty much every app that has no legitimate need for access AFAICS yet get regular warnings. The camera "needs" microphone access or it won't work at all, even for stills. Apparently the Play Store needs access to my contacts (but works fine without it, just moans periodically). My other major gripe is new apps appearing with each new Android upgrade that aren't required and seem to grab excessive permissions without asking as they are "system" apps.

However, given Apple's lack of transparency about pretty much everything the cynic in me wonders how similar iOS is to Android in some of these respects, it's just that it's hidden more deeply. I can't imagine that if Microsoft and Google are doing it that Apple aren't at least dipping their tongues in to the data pool and having a taste if not a full slurp.

Ecuador says 'yes' to Assange 'freedom' deal, but Julian says 'nyet'

Franco Silver badge

Re: Assange is a political prisoner, in the United Kingdom, end of

"Assange is a political prisoner, in the United Kingdom, end of"

By definition, a prisoner is deprived of liberty against their will. Assange chose to go in to the embassy of his own free will. Not the same thing.

It's official. Microsoft pushes Google over the Edge, shifts browser to Chromium engine

Franco Silver badge

Edge works OK, it's just not compatible with enough things IME. The last 2 desktop image rollouts I've done have been set to use IE, with Chrome as the alternate due to lack of Edge compatibility with addons, intranet sites etc.

I use Firefox myself most of the time, only ever really have to use IE to access the DRACs and iLOs on old servers that still have the ActiveX versions and even they are getting rarer these days.

I was once one of you, F1 star Lewis Hamilton tells delighted IT bods

Franco Silver badge

"I don't understand peoples gripes with Hamilton, he's damned if he says something and damned if he doesn't, you just come across as jealous idiots."

I can't speak for anyone else, but my dislike of Hamilton (despite my respect for his ability) is due to his attitude. Rather like Novak Djokovic in tennis, instead of allowing the public to make up their own minds, he demands love and respect for his ability and funnily enough most sports fans don't like being told what to think.

He has shown a great deal more humility this year than previously admittedly, although that is a fairly low hurdle to clear.

Anyway, with my cynical hat back on, opportunities given to female drivers are (unfortunately) still largely going to come down to their marketability. I know an awful lot of people in IT who are aware of Danica Patrick but have no idea that she's a racing driver, they know her as the GoDaddy girl.

Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

Franco Silver badge

It'll be fun for anyone who works in a really secure site when they get chipped in the hand. And have to wear RFID blocking gloves when they aren't at work.

Palliative care for Windows 10 Mobile like a Crimean field hospital, but with even less effort

Franco Silver badge

Re: Shame to see it end like this.

"If you had wanted to stick with WinPho, replacing a 925 with a 950 would have been a quantum leap in performance, and it has a removable battery."

I had one actually, I won it from windows central and so after using it for about a year I sold it. I got fed up with the constant bugs, and by the time I sold the 950 the 925 was locked at an older version. I'd lost Flip-to-Silence, Agenda view in Outlook (showing events only as opposed to ecvery day showing "No Event Today"), SMS reading with Cortana in the car and it was also the time of the GPS bug as well.

I tried a few of the Windows Phone launchers for Android, all were a bit buggy for me or expensive to get fully featured. I ended up using the Microsoft Launcher which although doesn't have live tiles etc is pretty clean.

Franco Silver badge

Re: Shame to see it end like this.

And yet Android is what I switched to, as although it's not a patch on W10M as far as the interface is concerned, it's still a better option the iOS if you want budget phone options and even a vague semblance of control over how things look and what you can do.

I absolutely will only buy stock Android devices though, preferably those on the AndroidOne program so you have some sort of guarantee of support life cycle.

I actually switched because my Lumia 925 was barely making it to lunchtime most days before needing a charge, I don't really need all the apps I now have but sometimes they are nice to have.

My hoard of obsolete hardware might be useful… one day

Franco Silver badge

Oh, I can go pre-PCMCIA if you want. I still have a 56K US Robotics external modem that would connect to a COM port.

Last used about 4 years ago, I found it in a box when moving a client to new premises and at the new premises the comms cabinet where the broadband line came in was 4 floors up from the office they were in. As all the phones were digital and I didn't have a butt tester but did have a USB to serial adapter the modem became the test device to find which cable was faulty and preventing the MFD from getting a dial-tone (It was an Accountant and they still heavily used faxes even then)

Franco Silver badge

Perhaps we should all club together and start a legacy tech bank like the seed bank in Norway.

I'll happily donate a pair of PCMCIA cards, one 10/100 ethernet and one 802.11b WiFi.

Stairway to edam: Swiss bloke blasts roquefort his cheese, thinks Led Zep might make it tastier

Franco Silver badge

Provolone by The Wildhearts (Everlone)

Mull of Dunsyre Blue

A succession of AC/DC based titles

Let there be Roquefort

Halloumi ain't a bad place to be

Rock 'n' Roll EDamnation

Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

Franco Silver badge

I remember it, when I was a student I worked in a supermarket and there were a lot of Irish and Northern Irish students there too, so lots of notes. Customers often refused to take the Irish notes, particularly the ones with the plastic window (can't remember which bank it was though).

Franco Silver badge

Here in God's Country where we have our own banknotes (a cunning ruse designed to spike the blood pressure of London cabbies when they are presented them), we have nice feats of engineering on them (Bank of Scotland) like the Forth Bridge, the Falkirk Wheel or the Glenfinnan Viaduct (the Harry Potter bridge for the under 10s in the audience). RBS favours castles, and the Clydesdale Bank has famous people like Robert Burns or Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

On a side note, does "influencers" include the toolbags on LinkedIn who quote them constantly? If not, it should do IMO.

BlackBerry KEY2 LE: The first budget Android QWERTY for years

Franco Silver badge

Re: Close but no cigar

"HTC Touch Pro (2008) - slider horizontal QWERTY with full size screen."

Still my favourite ever smartphone. HTC's TouchFlo interface was so good compared to the alternatives in those days.

Sorry friends, I'm afraid I just can't quite afford the Bitcoin to stop that vid from leaking everywhere

Franco Silver badge

Re: Racist?

"Did said Chinaman pee on The Dude's rug?"

He better not have done. That rug really tied the room together.

White Russian icon required for the 20th anniversary and I am referring to the beverage in case I am next to be accused of racism.

Franco Silver badge

It's a good thing I've got so much money coming from the accident I had, my PPI refund, boiler scrappage, kitchen scrappage and that Nigerian prince, I'll easily be able to pay the black mailers.

Congrats from 123-Reg! You can now pay us an extra £6 or £12 a year for basically nothing

Franco Silver badge

I use names.co.uk for my business. Don't actually have a website setup at present, but I use all of the DNS functionality for Office 365 and a few other things.

When I was setting it up 123-reg had accidentally deleted most of their customers websites in 2016, so were automatically off my list.

Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait

Franco Silver badge

Re: Peter Bright

"The Register is easily the most anti-Microsoft major tech site."

Clearly you have never read The Inquirer.

El Reg is (IMO) one of the less biased sites, pretty much every major company who deserves a public slapping (which is most of them at one time or another) gets one.

Franco Silver badge

The fact that the September releases have been switched to a 30 month support lifecycle shows the pressure MS are under from the very people they shouldn't be pissing off. Enterprise is their core market, and flinging out these crappy releases as essentially public betas does not inspire confidence.

London flatmate (Julian Assange) sues landlord (government of Ecuador) in human rights spat

Franco Silver badge

"The WikiLeaks supremo is fed up with being essentially held in near-solitary confinement in an Ecuadorian embassy broom cupboard in London, England."

Simple solution there Jules, walk out the front door and face the music.

Regardless of whatever good wikileaks has done, and Assange as a part of that, this has long since ceased to be about "the truth" and has become the Assange show. I don't wish harm on the guy, but I am sick to the back teeth of him claiming martyrdom for his own decision to hide in that embassy. Come out or shut the fuck up.

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Franco Silver badge

Re: Oh Gawd...

That's just reminded me of the first Macs with accelerometers that I encountered, I think it was about 2006, and the Mac guy in the office had hacked his so that every time he moved it you got the sound of light sabers swishing. Then of course some twat created similar apps for the first iPhones...

Franco Silver badge

mIRC is the worst offender I have used recently for gratuitous sounds, sticking with The IT Crowd as mentioned above it's the equivalent of Denholm getting in your face and asking "ARE YOU SURE?" repeatedly.

Other readers of a certain age will remember when everyone had Casio digital watches, which by default emitted a double beep quite similar to the Nokia text message alert tone every hour on the hour, but of course no one had exactly accurate times in those days so in a classroom of 30 or so children this could go on for about 5 minutes.


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