* Posts by bazza

1737 posts • joined 23 Apr 2008

Stanford Uni's intro to CompSci course adopts JavaScript, bins Java

bazza
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Re: No, COBOL is dead

Sure, but if someone really, really wants that COBOL read they're going to have to pay a rate to attract someone to do it. They're probably a bank, and probably getting increasingly desparate and willing to part with quite a lot of money to get themselves out of a hole. For the right money even I'd be willing to learn it.

Those few guys/girls left who know it can fill that diminishing niche, for the right price. The last COBOL man/woman left standing could become quite well off on the back of it!

Admittedly it is the coding equivalent of the undertaker charging for the coffin, burial services, cortege, lillies, etc. It's not exactly the sort of analogy one ones to take into one's own retirement given that one's own end is drawing nearer. Still, there's good money in burying corpses when done officially; the rates for unofficial work include a lot of danger money...

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bazza
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Re: Tells you what the real aims of the course are

@Stephen Booth,

"Ecmascript (aka javascript) is an important language in that is the most widely supported language for running code in a browser. If that is what you want to do then its the right thing to learn."

For the moment. With the recent work done by a few researchers to use Javascript to unwind operating system ASLR, there's a real possibility that the world will go off the whole idea of client side execution of unknown code in web browsers. ASLR unwinding probably makes browser exploits far more reliable, and therefore more potent.

We have yet to find a client side arbitrary code execution technology that has survived the test of time. Flash / Java had a lot of problems, ActiveX did too, and now we're beginning to wonder if Javascript is as "safe" as the modern Web needs it to be.

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bazza
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Re: I thought we needed to encourage new developers ...

@snoggs,

"I suppose that MIXAL is out of the question?"

It's a long way from the worst option on the table! I was thinking of something like Whitespace. Hard to learn, but at least you can legitimately hand in a blank piece of paper as coursework and get top marks...

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bazza
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Re: I thought we needed to encourage new developers ...

"Could you name a few languages where you can reliably compare variables?

ADA?

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bazza
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Re: I thought we needed to encourage new developers ...

@Dan 55,

"The only way to teach JavaScript (like PHP) is to have a huge list of things which are labelled "DO NOT USE AT ALL" or "DO NOT DO IT THIS WAY, DO IT THE OTHER WAY"."

And with the remaining and nearly useless subset, one could use that kinda like an opcode set, and build a compiler back end for it for GCC, CLANG, or something like that! What a neat idea!!!!! Oh, wait...

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Microsoft promises twice-yearly Windows 10, O365 updates – with just 18 months' support

bazza
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Re: Anybody else?

It's not so much losing the plot, it's just that the old plot stopped working.

Windows 7 was their problem release. People liked it. They didn't want something different. MS has always depended on forcing something new on people because that way they have to buy upgrades or new H/W with the new version pre-installed. When the customers decided they wanted to stick with W7 that broke the business plan.

They could always try a new plot: delivering what customers want.

People certainly did like it, and to every normal person that is a sign of "being onto a good thing". MS were mad for not building on that. Instead Bonkers Balmer decided that a unified desktop / mobile strategy was the way forward which was odd because their competitor (Apple) was making a ton of cash doing the opposite... And they still are.

Part of that was down to shareholder pressure - MS had to do something in the mobile market. Anything but Win 8 would have been ok...

There's a lot of talk these days about the decline of the PC and how we've got no use for them these days. A large part of the decline is down to Win 8, 8.1, 10. I don't buy the argument that people don't want a laptop, desktop type machine in their lives; hipsters in coffee shops with MacBooks are (nearly) living proof of that. People want and need that type of machine, they just don't want it to be Win10.

MS like to claim Win10 is a market success, but I'm not convinced that they've actually sold that much beyond pre installs. The figures MS give out are strikingly similar to the number of PCs the world sells each year...

Anyway, how can something be a market success when that market is shrinking? Win 10 ought to be growing the PC market, not taking over a shrinking market.

In a way MS are like the American car manufacturers vs Toyota. Toyota worked out that what most people want is reliability, comfort, good value for money, economy and high quality, with sporty performance being a distant irrelevance. American auto makers tried to apply the same systems engineering process that Toyota used, didn't believe the results, and ended up making the same old rubbish. Toyota are the biggest car maker in the world, dull/boring can sell really well...

What We Want

We want a well sorted, easy on the eye, familiar, properly supported desktop OS with strong hardware support, no advertising, with a bog standard WIMP interface. Just like Win 7 in fact. We'd even be prepared to pay retail for it.

I don't buy the argument that Linux can be / is this thing. There's too much diversity, hardware support is patchy, GNOME 3 is diabolically bad (file manager?), it doesn't even do sound consistently, there's no good office suite, there's no decent email / contacts / calendar tool, etc. And then there's the whole APT, YUM, tarball, Auto tools thing. It's a horrible mess. It's no surprise that RHEL gets picked by the big software manufacturers as the one distro they support. It's just impossible to support all of Linux in a way that doesn't require the end user to be prepared to do a lot of command line administration.

Apple Mac isn't a bad option, except they've really dropped the ball on their hardware. Mac books, iMacs and Mac Pros are very antiquated these days. Mac Pro is now, what, 4 Intel CPU and 5 GPU generations behind the curve?

Microsoft have left a yawning chasm of an opportunity for Apple to supply Just a Desktop OS (tm) on decent hardware that isn't an Ad platform. OS-X has yet to succumb to ad funded trend being pursued by MS with Win 10. If Apple update their kit, I'm sorely tempted.

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bazza
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Re: Dear gods...

@Bombastic Bob

it's a brand name. but you could also say 'Unix-like' or 'POSIX' - but '*nix' is shorter.

Indeed, and saying Linux is POSIX is very nearly, but not quite, accurate. Linux isn't quite POSIX compliant (strictly speaking it is LSB), Solaris HP-UX and AIX are all slightly different and comply with POSIX in different ways, and various embedded OSes implement POSIX to varying extents.

These differences show up in Auto tools, with configuration building scripts having to test a variety of system calls to see what they actually do.

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bazza
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Re: Dear gods...

BricsCAD is major - BRL-CAD also has a very large user base ;)

By your definition, Microsoft Paint is a "major" graphics application simply because it's installed everywhere... Talking of graphics, everyone seems to think that Adobe's suite is best run on Windows these days, not Mac.

Whilst I'm sure it's fine, you would not use BricsCAD to design an airliner, or a ship, or a car, or a skyscraper. For that you need something like CATIA. They do not do Linux versions of their software. According to Wikipedia they do nominally support Solaris, AIX and HP-UX, but since no one runs these as desktops these days it's Windows all the way.

It's a similar story with other major CAD packages like SolidWorks, the major parts of Autodesk's portfolio. Casting an eye round Mentor Graphic's suite suggests that Linux support is old / out of date, and that they're predominantly Windows these days.

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bazza
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Re: Anybody else?

Not just you.

Since Windows 7, MS has completely lost the plot.

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bazza
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Re: Dear gods...

For a lot of engineering and creative outfits, Linux is simply not an option, currently. All the major CAD packages had migrated to Windows, what, 20 years ago? And they're not going anywhere for a good long time...

The reasons why CAD packages migrated from *nix to Windows was that 1) Windows was powerful enough, 2) Windows was cheaper, 3) *nix as a graphical workstation was becoming very out of date and unusable, and 4) Windows grew a reputation for supporting software for a long time (amazingly you can still just about run Windows 3 software, on Win10 32 bit).

Then there's the usual MS Office dependency problem. It's still way better than what is available on *nix. There's also MS Project, Active Directory; the list goes on. There's a ton of software out there that 99% of the world's computer users haven't even heard of, never mind use. Yet without that software, 99% of what gets made wouldn't exist.

As far as I can see there's no real prospect for large engineering outfits to migrate away from Windows unless a seriously significant percentage of applications are ported elsewhere first. One wonders, ported to what?

MS themselves have done something interesting, in putting SQL Server onto Linux. The way they've done it is interesting; rather than re-write SQL Server for *nix, they've done a Windows system call shim for Linux. With a lot of effort on MS's part, the same shim could be developed further so that any Windows application or library could run unmodified on top of Linux. It's a lower level thing than Wine, and if MS actually did do it, would come with a bunch of guarantees that it worked. Wine, whilst it is admirable, is always going to struggle to be completely right. Anyway I can't see MS actually making something like that into a universal Windows App runtime for Linux.

But the Linux desktop is something of a stability nightmare too. Which distribution? Which desktop? Which package manager? And if you need kernel level driver support for licence dongles, which kernel version? It doesn't even do sound properly. Linux anarchy is very off-putting.

How about Apple MACs? Well clearly Apple has no interest in pursuing the desktop market, it no longer gives a damn about the creative types.

Ported to Web Apps? I don't think that's an option. Google Docs is a nasty horrible pile of ghastly Javascript, and is something of a toy (a slow one at that) compared to a properly sorted desktop application. The idea of implementing a major CAD package as a Web app is laughably unworkable at present.

I genuinely fear for the future for creative people. It's going to become expensive and difficult to host and support the types of software tools that creative people use, and now even MS is looking like walking away from them and their needs.

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Tesla hit by class action sueball over autopilot software updates

bazza
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This is a case concerning something that's nothing more than an elaborate (and mis-named?) cruise control system of dubious worth.

Just imagine the court cases surrounding a "fully autonomous" self driving car when that goes wrong!

It's guaranteed that such a car will go wrong. No one can even write down in detail what "driving" actually is, so how can software account for all circumstances? And don't mention AI or machine learning - such things are impossible to certify as "safe".

Calling it a "self driving" car is either going to be the mother of all misleading advertisements, or a reckless appetite for risk on the part of the manufacturer. Both outcomes are likely disasterous for the manufacturer, so why is anyone bothering to do any development at all?

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We're spying on you for your own protection, says NSA, FBI

bazza
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Re: Such ambivalence

@Kender30,

"To tell the truth, what happens in Europe is the business of Europeans. The ability, out lack thereof, of companies to comply with your laws has no bearing on what our government agencies snooping where they have no business snooping."

Indeed it doesn't. It's just that the contrast between societal and legal attitudes in Europe and the USA is going to become increasingly hard for the American-based social network companies to live with (and vice versa, except that there's aren't any notable European social network companies).

" I had bought fertilizer for my lawn and filled up the tank in my diesel truck at the same site using the same credit card. I was flagged and watch listed for it because I also have degrees which entailed physics and chemistry..."

Well, if such criteria were used as filters in the UK, it'd hoover up a load of grandmothers; they're often keen on horticulture, and diesel cars are very common, and more than a few of them would have science degrees these days. Whereas a grandmothers with an apparent fascination with handguns would be unusual and worthy of note, unlike the USA.

Sounds like the system over in the US produces a lot of useless data, and very little information.

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bazza
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Re: Such ambivalence

They know damn well that the oversight committee will ask a few questions, maybe huff and/or puff, then they will be allowed to continue with business as usual.

I know this won't be helpful, but it is worth considering the following.

It's odd, because it never seems to be of great importance at election time. For all the fuss these things cause, most voters never seem consider the current law enforcement agencies' surveillance arrangements.

If it really, truly mattered more than anything else one would think that it would be an election issue, resulting in a change of political opinion, and a change in the Executive's actions. But it never has. After all, if the executive does something which the electorate do not consent to, the election is there to allow change to be forced through. That's what elections are supposed to be about.

There, I said it wouldn't be that helpful. Perhaps that's more of an observation of the overall worthiness of the election process...

Having said that, someone has to keep an eye out for dangerous material (paedophilia, terrorist comes, harassed, etc). Over here on the Eastern side of the Atlantic there's a mood brewing about how terrible a job the companies (Facebook, Google, etc) are doing in policing the content they host. The companies' habits of pandering to American sensitivities about privacy isn't translating very well at the moment to European politics and societal expectations. If the companies don't shape up they're increasingly risking big fines, criminal prosecution, etc.

Clamping down on the use of Facebook, etc, by bad guys is a live political issue here in Europe, and there is going to be change of some sort. Currently the companies have some choice in what that change is, but only for a short while. There's elections coming up in Europe, and security is a big issue here. One more big cock up by any of the companies could doom them to regulatory oversight that would make it very difficult to offer a global social network, video streaming service, etc.

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SPY-tunes scandal: Bloke sues Bose after headphones app squeals on his playlist

bazza
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Google, At It Again

@smithwr101,

"Actually when you fire up Bose Connect it says "Apps using Bluetooth Low Energy are now required to have location access enabled. We don't like it either." So it looks like an Android or other third party constraint

That really sucks.

Taking a look over at Stack Overflow here and here reveals that this is an Android thing, and comparatively recent.

Sounds like the real culprit is Google. Again. Do no evil. Arse cakes.

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bazza
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Re: The advantages of poverty

@Mage,

"Also the advantage of 3.5mm jack dumb phones, which inherently are better quality as any wireless earphones need an DAC anyway and have the additional overhead of Bluetooth. Space and power constraints also mean that five year old phone with 3.5mm analogue jack may have a better DAC and audio amp than the device(s) in the wireless headphones / earbuds."

<pedant mode>

<apologies>

The issue is one of audio compression on the Bluetooth link. It's not full, uncompressed 44.1kHz 16 bit stereo PCM. The loss of quality due to the compression artifacts would likely dominate any other impairments due to crummy DACs, etc. And generally music is stored / streamed compressed on a mobile phone, so it's a losing battle anyway.

Not that anyone who listens to todays modern popular beat combos would be able to tell hifi from cheapfi, given the appallingly reckless and discordant nature of such music.

</pedant mode>

"Also the Analogue 3.5mm headphones work on anything without pairing, don't need an dataslurping app etc."

Shhhh! Don't go giving the bastards bad ideas!!!!

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bazza
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GPS has to be on? Data is egressed to a third party? For headphones?

That is nasty...

When oh when will there be a rebellion against data slurping?

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Why Firefox? Because not everybody is a web designer, silly

bazza
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Web designers and developers exist to serve only themselves. A continual game of one-up-manship between them and their peers to make something that looks cool to their peers. Not at any point to make the website work or look cool to the end user.

Not just Web developers. There's more than a few handset designers who are like that, and mobile OS developers. Even the Linux world is not invulnerable to fashion over function.

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Facebook brews Caffe2 AI toolkit so apps can give SnapChat a slap

bazza
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I think the true SiVal intellectuals (i.e. actual engineers) retired some time ago, and it's been a bunch of misguided fashion victims running the place ever since.

Looking back over the past 10, 15 years, one wonders what's really been achieved. Not much. Some of our hardware is a bit better. On the other hand our operating systems are worse, our online services are now so thoroughly polluted by advertising that we hate them (and unwittingly pay over the top for them through the price of goods), battery lives are deliberately ruined by data-gouging apps and OSes, we cannot communicate effectively because there's too many mutually incompatible OTT communications platforms, and we no longer own music / videos and cannot liberate them or our own media from whatever online platforms we've uploaded them to.

Meanwhile the megalomaniacs at the top of the tech industry are too stupid to realise that the platforms they think they control are actually the perfect tool for a whole bunch of very nasty people to carry on their objectionable practises. Worse, these head honchos are obstructive or stick their heads in the sand when someone points this out. And it's not even as if these megalomaniacs are very nice people themselves; the white/male/under-30/chauvinist/sexist/ageist cultures they have engendered in their organisations is out of date, un-American, illegal, and damaging to the image of their own companies (clearly some are worse than others, e.g. Uber), and means that there's a deep lack of real experience spending shareholders' money of vanity projects that any sane investor would vote against.

Sigh.

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Intel loses its Lustre – Chipzilla bins own-brand HPC file system

bazza
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Re: Intel bailing on programs

I thought there'd already been some price cuts, though if Ryzen takes off in a big way there'd certainly have to be more if they want to maintain their share of the PC market pie.

Trouble is that it’s a shrinking pie, and it's becoming difficult to maintain (never mind expand) sales, especially with AMD taking a slice. Windows 10 hasn't done them any favours either... Chasing the HPC market isn't very profitable (there's not many super computers), but it looks like support for AI might be the thing to flog to the likes of Facebook, Google, etc.

Even that looks doubtful. Google are doing their own chip, and I strongly suspect this AI thing will prove to be short lived; it's not going to be good enough to be of sufficient benefit to be worth it.

At the end of this whole thing Intel have got to recognise that most people don't need a hugely powerful CPU in their lives, and the same is true of a lot of servers too.

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Zuckerberg: Escape from the real world into my goofy make-believe science-fiction fantasy

bazza
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Re: I wonder

a possible US Presidential run in 2020

Oh no, surely not. A fool and his money will soon be parted... Still, probably not worse than the current incumbent.

What is it with non-politicians with money and ambition that makes them want to be President? Surely the events of 2017 are an illustration of how little power the President actually has (just as well really). Why would anyone sane want to get into that job?

As a matter of interest, wouldn't he have to quit Facebook before running?

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New satellites could cause catastrophic space junk collisions

bazza
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Re: Just a quick perusal of CelesTrak...

AFAIK cube sats are deliberately put into low orbits where they're going to burn up quite soon no matter what.

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'Nobody's got to use the internet,' argues idiot congressman in row over ISP privacy rules

bazza
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Re: Privacy in wire communications??

It's a crazy thing for the ISPs to do this.

For every idiotic intrusion there's a plug-in to help. I've heard that there's one that simply generates a background level of traffic to drown out one's actual browsing. That reduces the value of ad cues the ISPs can get.

More dangerously for the ISP such a plug in could be engineered to generate entirely false ad cues. That won't look too good to their advertising customers...

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Deeming Facebook a 'publisher' of users' posts won't tackle paedo or terrorist content

bazza
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Old media is using this as a bat to try and hit Facebook with because of the shift in power.

Perhaps Facebook shouldn't have made themselves such an easy target to hit...

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bazza
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Re: Good article

The UK satirical news magazine Private Eye made a good point.

The Daily Mail newspaper has had various thunderous headlines along the lines of "Google - the Terrorists' Friend", and lengthy articles describing the content that is up on YouTube and how Google (and the posters of the videos) profit from the content remaining viewable. You get the picture.

Private Eye pointed out that on the Daily Mail's own website there is a trove of pretty nasty videos associated with news stories about just how nasty ISIL, etc are. And of course the Daily Mail are quite happy to show a bunch of adverts next to the content...

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bazza
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@Chewi,

I'm sorry, I didn't realise Facebook and WhatsApp were the only means of communicating anonymously these days.

Indeed they're not. But if any law changes are made, any sensible change would apply equally to all providers.

Tighter monitoring of these services will do little but drive the bad people further underground and infringe on other people's liberties.

Well, I think such changes would make the mainstream social network services far better at being self-policing. There would be less need for law enforcement agencies to monitor these services as the providers would be strongly motivated to do that themselves.

Sure, there'd still be things beyond the control of any government / company. Tor is a way of being more hidden, but it seems that's not flawless either. There's been some experimental work done on a purely peer-to-peer social network (no central servers), but it's highly unlikely that such a thing could ever be as all-pervasive as a server based social network. No one wants their mobile battery drained flat before they've got to work.

One suspects that law enforcement agencies all over the world would be quite content to drive bad people so far underground that they're using technologies that are too much hassle for the vast majority of us to bother with.

That would resolve the problem they have right now, in that at least some bad people (e.g. those people putting child pornography on to Facebook private groups) aren't underground at all. They are protected by being hidden amongst the mass of ordinary Facebook users and by Facebook's apparent reluctance to do anything about it and refusal to let law enforcement agencies do it on their behalf.

If the major social network services were effectively purged of all that crap, we'd all be much happier. If that meant more exotic technologies were then all that was left for bad people to use in carrying on their despicable activities, that would mean that law enforcement would largely lose all interest in looking at what anyone is putting up on the mainstream social networks. That would be even better.

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bazza
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@Paul Crawford,

Thing is, you could achieve much the same with small fines, just a hundred quid or so for each post not taken down in reasonable time, and same for each appearance of fake/misleading adverts, and suddenly Google, Facebook, etc, would manage to deal with most of the crap.

Sure, but that would then sort of be classifying them as a publisher with all the responsibilities that come along with that. "Sort of", as they would be deemed to be the publisher after a period of time.

The scale of fines is interesting though. Germany is talking about €50million, which should really sharpen their attention. A few hundred quid for each serving of a post / ad would indeed be equally attention grabbing.

The difficulty they face is that "dealing with most of the crap" isn't entirely good enough (criminally illegal content). With an AI, automated filtering, etc I seriously doubt that they can get to an acceptable level of suppression of the crap without having a hit/miss rate that also impacts on perfectly innocent material. There's a lot of subjectivity involved, requiring expensive human supervision.

Far better to get malicious posters to be self-censoring, i.e. afraid to be identified and prosecuted.

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bazza
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Illegal material is, well, illegal, and Facebook are supposed to be responsive to notifications of such material. The trouble is that they're not responsive enough. Instead they rather give the impression of doing the opposite; they don't take down illegal material quickly or effectively.

Is that their fault? Well, it's a natural consequence of their chosen business model. Free to use with no effective user identity checks means it's too easy for the nastier (minority) members of society to hijack the service for their own despicable reasons. And society is basically moving to a position where such a chosen business model is not compatible with what society wants.

Facebook have had many, many years to get on top of this type of problem, and they simply haven't done it. They, nor anyone else, cannot expect to be allowed to run such a naive business model indefinitely. At some point they are inevitably going to be told "you're grown up now, you should know better". If they have not been sufficiently strategically savvy to understand that, that's not our fault. Same goes for Twitter, Google, etc.

Ok, so they're all talking about AI filtering, things like that. And if they are planning on claiming that these measures will be adequate, surely they then won't mind being classified as a publisher. On the other hand if they're not sufficiently confident in such filtering measures to accept classification as a publisher, then by definition they're not good enough at filtering.

"Instead of targeting Facebook with new laws, as The Times would, we should instead target those who misuse the platform to promote illegal things."

There's no need to target such people. What they're doing is already illegal. Do you really think that people who post such material are going to read the Times, pay attention, and stop what they're doing? I don't think so.

The problem is that Facebook, Twitter and Google's YouTube make it far too easy for such people to enjoy anonymity. Handing over an IP address is cooperation, but it's not very effective cooperation; it takes a lot of work to unwind an IP address to discover a person's identity. Worse, Facebook's WhatsApp even guarantees that it won't aid the police with their inquiries.

If we're to effectively target abusers of the platforms, then the platforms need to know more about who the users actually are. That's got to be something more than an IP address, a made up user name, and fake details. The trouble is the only real way that a social network can be sure of who a user is is to have had some financial relationship with the user (e.g. a completed credit card transaction). That's very much not compatible with the social networks' current business model.

To make Facebook (and Twitter, and other social networks) liable for users' content would almost certainly lead to the Defamation Act 2013 being substantially amended to remove that important protection. That would have a chilling effect on free speech – ironically, the very effect the act was passed to stop.

I sincerely doubt that it would have a chilling effect on "Free Speech". It would have a chilling effect on illegal material, libellous and abusive posts, and so forth. In the UK and much of the rest of world we do not have the right to libel or abuse someone in a public forum. Not even in the USA (where you can say anything, but there is no guarantee that this is free of consequences Obligatory XKCD). There are laws about libel and abuse.

The problem is that the social networks have made it too easy for people to break such laws and get away with it. Enforcement of these laws is severely hampered by the business model of the social networks. Quite a lot of very ordinary people are very fed up with that state of affairs.

In contrast, a justifiable post / article / publication is, by definition, not libellous or abusive; if you can prove a point, then you'd win in court. Ask Ian Hislop.

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As you stare at the dead British Airways website, remember the hundreds of tech staff it laid off

bazza
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The trouble is that, by and large, the ultimate shareholders of everything are all our pension schemes. That means it's all our fault.

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bazza
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Re: Correlation is not causation

People being axed does not mean this would be avoided. That's speculation, at best. Good effort at making a news story without any information to go on, though.

You're right of course, but if one were a betting man... If it's some mega hardware fail, I'd like to see that being fixed from afar.

Sorry situation for BA, though I've no tears to shed for them. They have a terrible business model where they're trying to emulate low cost carriers (LCC's) such as Ryanair while having the much higher cost structure of a legacy. They've made some efforts at bringing that down, but it's a shit strategy that eventually leads to bargain basement prices instead of quality product. One day, I predict they'll die a miserable death in the form of a takeover by Ryanair or other LCC after failing to pivot the business.

Yep, quality will sell, but only if someone offers it. Unfortunately the market for a quality product is much smaller than the market for a cheap, low cost market, so guess which market everyone bundles in for.

It takes a small, niche player who doesn't fundamentally care about growth, market share, or being taken over, but is quite prepared to offer a slightly more expensive product and make a modest profit reliably over a very long period of time.

Such an outfit isn't going to be owned by shareholders...

The only way that a minimum quality can be guaranteed is multinational government intervention on matters such as passenger space, etc, to set a lower limit on how bad things can get.

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Law Commission pulls back on official secrets laws plans after Reg exposes flawed report

bazza
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Please, if anyone in contact with the Eye is reading, prettyplease, would the Eye please do a reasonably priced readily searchable archive of the magazine.

Eye is a small outfit really, and AFAIK decided that a full on line version would be crippling risky and expensive. Looking at the lack of commercial prosperity for the other newspapers which have gone to full online versions, I'd say it was a smart move to resist the temptations of it.

The consequence for a newspaper being on line is occasionally pointed out by the Eye. For example, whilst the Mail thunders on about Google profiteering from on line extremism, the Mail's own site hosts quite an extensive collection of extremist videos as part of stories it's published, next to which ads appear...

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bazza
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It'll be on page 94...

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Boeing 737 turns 50

bazza
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Re: But what about...

@Ledswinger,

"IIRC, the reason for retirement of XH558 was primarily that BAe, RR and Marshalls were no longer willing to act as the design authority for the aircraft."

That's basically the reason Concorde stopped flying too. Airbus needed the design engineers who kept Concorde flying to get the A380 project finished, and Air France were making a loss. DA withdrawal was presented as a fete acompli, leaving BA nowhere to go.

There's some major differences between the potential longevity of Concorde and the Vulcan. The former was built to last, had a relatively easy flying life, got baked bone dry every time it flew, and hot enough to anneal the airframe too. That added up to a corrosion-free airframe whose metal was improving with age. Given continuing support from the likes of RR and Airbus, there'd never have been a "worn out" reason to retire Concorde. Even the electronics was infinitely repairable - very little in the way of integrated circuits or chips AFAIK, so easily repaired with replacement transistors alone. When they weighed the airframes after the post-crash design changes, they were heavier than expected. One quick flight up to Mach2.0 burnt off all the moisture that had accumulated whilst they'd sat idle, and the airframes were back down to their expected weight.

The Vulcan in contrast was built for performance-at-almost-any-cost, had a harsh flying life in its later career (the RAF adopted low level flying - bumpy air down there), spent a lot of its time soaking up the damp British weather, and never got dried out. The result was metal that was vulnerable to corrosion and fatigue with a lot of high loadings. It was always going to wear out, and indeed that's basically what happened to poor old XH558 (plus engine life issues).

I think it somehow odd that the faster plane would last longer than the slower one. It's the opposite way round with cars...

It'll be interesting to see how the carbon fibre 787 and A350 lasts. CF in theory won't fatigue; so long as its not over stressed, it should last forever. They could become very long lived airframes.

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Subpostmasters prepare to fight Post Office over wrongful theft and false accounting accusations

bazza
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Re: Horizon, I know it well! (Well did, and bits of it)

I'm not sure when Horizon first came into being, but there's been viable and mature serialisation technologies since the late 1980s. ASN.1 springs to mind, complete with size and value constraints. Like a lot of protocols of that type it stems from something thinking they don't really need one, and then inventing a terrible one.

What you describe sounds like the very worst of engineering debt that'd built up for a long time following a poor decision taken age previously. Sympathies owed indeed!

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Boeing-backed US upstart reckons it'll be building electric airliners

bazza
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Re: Just a matter of timing

@Vic,

The numbers I did the other day came out at 4.3TJ in a 787's tanks. Think about the batteries you'd need to save 10% of that - 430GJ. That's a lot of battery; the large Tesla pack holds 85KWh, which equates to 300MJ. So you nominally need 1400 of those to save 10% fuel - in practice, rather less, since a heat engine cannot be 100% efficient. But I doubt you'd get the effect with fewer than 500 packs[1] - and they're 544Kg each. That's 272t of the carrying capacity taken up in batteries; the 787-9 only has 126t to start with...

It's worse even than that. Fuel that's burnt gets blown out the back of the engine as H2O, CO2, etc. The aircraft weight decreases during flight, and becomes significantly more efficient as the fuel is burnt. For example, Concorde would drift higher and get faster without increasing the thrust setting as the fuel load burned off.

Whereas the batteries remain on board. The aircraft efficiency does not improve as the batteries are drained. So their contribution is even less. Worse still is that the aircraft landing weight has gone up, every landing would be at maximum take off weight, and there's very few aircraft out there that can do that now. So the airframe and undercarriage have to be stronger so that it can land whilst still carrying all those tons of batteries. And to avoid putting dents in runways they'd start needing to put extra undercarriage legs on to spread the weight (like a 747), adding even more weight. This makes the aircraft even less efficient. And the brakes would be heavier - so they're going to have a harder time. And the wing would need to be bigger with larger flaps /slats to make the landing performance reliable in all weather conditions, adding yet more weight. And all this extra weight would need more powerful engines to get the whole lot into the air in the first place, so they're going to be heavier. And there's the whole question of how do electricity get turned into hot exhaust. A burning fuel spray is very good at doing that, electric heaters are not. It's a question of surface area. Plus there's no heater element that's going to be light weight (tungsten is heavy) and get as hot as burning fuel. So it'd have to be a motor driving the fan, which is going to be heavier than the equivalent gas generator (lots of copper and iron, not titanium, aluminium, steel and the small amount of nickel used in the turbine blades at the hot end).

Every pound of 'fuel' remaining at the end of the flight adds a disproportionate number of pounds to the weight of the airframe.

So if batteries are ever going to compete against kerosene, they have to beat the energy density of kerosene by quite a large margin. It's still not going to work if they just reach parity with hydrocarbons.

Something like the A380 carries approx 250 tons of fuel, and can land (under max weight conditions) with 70 tons remaining. The equivalent batteries would have to weigh 70 tons, not 250 tons. So the energy density of the battery would have to be 350% that of kerosene.

It's not that bad because the maximum "fuel" load is then also 70 tons, 180 tons less. So quite a lot of weight could be trimmed (smaller wings, etc). I don't feel like doing the maths model this time of the morning, but it boils down to battery energy density having to be significantly higher than kerosene's before there is any benefit whatsoever.

Hydrogen would be a better bet I think. If only we could store that in a tank efficiently.

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Germany gives social networks 24 hours to delete criminal content

bazza
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Re: Getting sued as part of the job description...

Hard to picture anyone wanting that complaints handler job.

€ 1 million a year, keep on top of it for 6 months to 1 year, I'd be happy with that!

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bazza
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Kinda happening anyway. Twitter is failing commercially. Facebook is profitable, dunno how. Google are trying to wring more cash out of YouTube ads, suggests they're losing there (especially since the boycotting started here in the UK and spread).

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bazza
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Re: Why do US social media companies need a presence in other countries?

Surely if they operated solely from the US, they could ignore other countries(different) rules with impunity.

What do they need a physical presence for?

Good question. They could, but it's expensive.

If they want to do a lot of business in a country, it's much more tax efficient to set up an office there. Ad revenue collected in the States from European customers would be taxed as profit in the States. Ad revenue collected in a European office isn't, and they can then play the Double Irish tax minimisation game.

There's also the exchange rate problem... And there's also a trans Atlantic network bandwidth problem. And if there's ever a Great Firewall of Europe (might happen), they'd be on the wrong side.

Not having a presence in China has led to Google, Facebook, etc. being wiped out there. There's 1billion+ customers not looking at ads served by Google. They're looking at ads served by Baidu.

It'll be interesting to see what laws evolve, and what they sociak networks do in response. Their normal public statements on such matters are generally designed to please US customers' ears. They may find themselves having to choose between profit and principles. I suspect they'll choose the former whilst keeping as quiet as possible about the latter.

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bazza
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Re: This will be interesting and maybe nasty

@Tom Paine,

Taking CCNs from customers, even if they don't charge them, to verify identity - or any other method - would go down like a slurry-filled lead balloon with the social media providers, for obvious reasons. You can expect them to make that the very, very last resort.

Indeed. But it kinda shows how vacuous and frivolous the whole thing has become. These things really aren't Utilities (like water, telecoms etc).

We used to have paid-for services (Compuserve), there's no reason why such a thing couldn't be profitable today. WhatsApp used to be paid-for. Many argue that it was far better when it wasn't free.

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bazza
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Re: This will be interesting and maybe nasty

@Doctor Syntax,

One problem: credit card fraud.

Another reason to check one's statements... Besides, the new system would make it easier to ID the fraudster!

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bazza
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Re: This will be interesting and maybe nasty

@EricM,

No, the law "just" requires websites to hand over the IP address and time stamp a comment was posted from. It also requires ISPs to give out names and address of their customers based on that IP address and timestamp records to lawyers.

No credit card required. The lawyers get their names & addresses directly from the ISP - without a court order or any other due process.

Aha, well that's a "let off" for the OtT social networks, and a cost burden for the ISPs. I wonder how the ISPs feel about that...

Question is, how reliable that is? If it were to come to a prosecution, one wonders whether the combination of the social network's and ISP's records would be good enough to identify a user's identify beyond reasonable doubt. Given the poor quality of most ISP's systems it would be comparatively easy for a defence lawyer to argue that there is some doubt about the accuracy of the records.

And it doesn't work if the ISP is using NAT at their level (like some ISPs do to make IPv4 addresses go a bit further).

Anyway, it may not have to work very well. If there's a sudden rush of people being held to account for things they post, it might just lead to people generally behaving better on line.

That, combined with very high fees of up to 50M€ for non-complying companies nearly guarantees abuse of this legislation to curb all sorts of private, political or commercial critics.

So looks like using TOR will become mandatory for posting anything potentially controversial in Germany...

I doubt it. Justifiable comment is always going to be dependable, so long as it is backed up with actual evidence.

At least, we all need that to be the case, and German courts aren't noted for their irrationality. A proper court is never going to interfere with fair comment, subjective opinion, political differences of opinion, humour, etc.

Such evidence can range from actually having the documents, VHS tape, cinema ticket, log book, photos, whatever. And it would be unwise of a complainant to take someone on in court if it turns out they really do have the documentation to prove a claim. Doubt is better than the absolute certainty having taken a critical to court and losing.

Indeed, if people get used to the idea that they have to have documentary back up or some other unarguable justification before posting something like an accusations, embarrassing revelation etc, it might lead to fewer libel cases. Complainants would also know that the defending party would likely have taken care to prepare a strong collection of evidence to defend themselves.

Anyway, it's a good thing that if someone is simply making some unjustified dross up about someone else they get to explain themselves.

I do wonder though if there ought to be some guarantee of legal aid, to defend one's self in such cases. It would be very easy otherwise for someone rich to use their wealth to out-lawyer someone poor. The inquisitorial systems of justice are better for this, less so the UK, US, Common Law adversarial system.

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bazza
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Re: Enforcement?

No yank, this is just demanding that local law be respected, rather than everyone in the world being governed by Californian law. And if you can tailor adverts, you can certainly tailor content.

Social media was a mistake.

This may be the point in time at which the Si Valley outfits discover their free ride is over. Their only real way to comply with this new law and whatever it evolves into is to stop being free (they know who the users really are then).

That raises an interesting problem. Would you pay to use:

1) Google Search

2) Google maps

3) GMail

4) FaceBook

5) Twitter.

For me the answers are 1) hmm, maybe, 2) hmmmm, 3) no, 4) definitely no, 5) over my dead body hell no.

Even if I did pay to use such services, I would not want to be seeing any damned adverts, or be seeing any of my personal data being mined for advertising cues.

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bazza
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Re: Greetings from Germany

Is that's what's written into the law?!

Well, they're going to get that wrong sometimes, aren't they. €50million fine vs the ire of a deleted user... There's no contest, accounts are going to get deleted at the drop of a complaint email in their inbox.

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bazza
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Re: This will be interesting and maybe nasty

The only way a social network can comply with this part of the law is if they force users to actually provide accurate data when user accounts are created. The only practical way of doing that is to get a credit card number and take some money from it, to establish the useful identity through the banking system.

If they wanted to be a "free to use" network they could simply refund the money.

The networks currently have no ability to discover anything else other than IP address of users. They cannot translate that into a street address without support from the ISPs. And the ISPs in Europe are not allowed to give that information out without the consent of the customer, or a warrant.

So I think we may start seeing the credit card route being followed, which is certainly going to put a dent in the popularity of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Their biggest problem though could be deciding whether or not to agree to a request for identity revelation. That's a quasi-judicial role, so they may not be being asked to fulfil that role. Otherwise, if they got that wrong and they get done for breaches of the local Data Protection laws. Do it too slowly and there's a fine, maybe. I don't know how much compulsion has been put into this new law concerning identity - perhaps the networks are not being asked to act as judge, maybe they simply have to reveal identity if ordered by a German court. But the biggest step in this would be what obligation the networks are now under to know the proper name and address of their users.

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bazza
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Re: Pssst

John Cleese (who may have invented the line in an episode of Fawlty Towers, he certainly used it) tells a story of being recognised in a German airport, and some large German repeated the line back to him whilst laughing his head off. Apparently it's one of Cleese's fondest outcomes from the whole Fawlty Towers thing.

I think we underestimate their capacity for appreciation of Properly Funny Stuff!

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bazza
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Re: Enforcement?

Germany doesn't care one way or the other, so long as it has the desired effect in Germany.

It's relatively easy for a website to serve content based on IP address, which would allow them to serve content accordingly. So the networks can easily pander to differing "free speech" sensibilities around the world. The problem the networks really face is if this works in Germany, expect to see similar laws passed everywhere else too.

Another point; the article ponders how to enforce this against smaller networks that have no corporate presence in Germany. Well, I think they're less concerned about the smaller networks, they have less of an impact anyway. And they can still put out an international arrest warrant for the network's company directors.

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NY court slaps down Facebook's attempt to keep accounts secret from search warrants

bazza
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Re: Does not compute...

"Ah, you mean the old "arrest by appointment" the wealthy and famous seem to enjoy here in the UK"

Well, they're busy people (the police that is). May as well schedule it!?!?

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bazza
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Re: Does not compute...

"However, adding that the only party legally entitled to challenge the warrant is not permitted to be advised of the warrant is a non sequitur."

It's fairly normal for defendents' lawyers to challenge the admissibility of evidence during a case, where the admissibility is in doubt. Anything collected under a warrant that is later challenged and held to be invalid would not be admissible, and therefore would play no role in the case. If it was the only evidence the prosecution has, case dismissed, possible claims for wrongful arrest, wrongful prosecution, etc.

Judges don't just let any old tripe be presented as evidence to their juries, at least not here in the UK. Pretty sure American judges make such rulings on admissibiliy all the time.

It's not perfect - invalid warrants may have led to the violation of someone's rights - but there are (or jolly well should be) consequences for police / prosecutors / judges involved, a probable acquital for the accused, and likely a dose of compensation too.

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bazza
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Re: Does not compute...

@GingerOne,

"So if the Police had a warrant to enter your house and read post you have received from a friend of a friend (because they suspect that friend of a friend of committing a crime - you are as clean as a whistle) you would be happy for them to do it while you were out and without your knowledge."

They wouldn't have to. If I knew that a friend of a friend had committed a criminal offence, I'd phone up the cops and tell them.

Wouldn't you?

Or would you seek to protect the scumbag and prevent justice being administered? Obstructing justice is also a criminal offence, at least it is so in the UK.

If the cops want to read someone's mail, they'd get a warrant and take a look at it in the post office. Much easier. The old arts for extracting and replacing letters in envelopes still work.

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bazza
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Re: *uckerBerg does it again

There'd be a lot less of all that if it wasn't free. Free = effective anonymity (except in the most extreme circumstances), and some people behave pretty badly if they can get away with it.

If the services were paid for then user identity is something easily discovered, and that might cause users to behave better; the consequences of their nastiness would be more easily and efficiently dished out.

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Ubuntu UNITY is GNOME-MORE: 'One Linux' dream of phone, slab, desktop UI axed

bazza
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Re: When prototypes go too far

My BlackBerry Z30 has HDMI, and becomes a computer when one pairs it with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. And the USB2 port is still free for charging! The problems with UI aren't quite so severe as you describe for Android, but it's still not that great.

I've never understood the drive for UI unification either. I've always felt that the proponents of such an approach (MS, Canonical, etc) missed the point of the word "user" in UI.

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