* Posts by Charlie Clark

4609 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Game of P0wns: Malvertising menace strikes Pirate Bay season six downloads

Charlie Clark
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Is it just me or is this article largely incomprehensible? Yes, I understand that malfeasants are placing nasty scripts on torrent sites that, if successful, can encrypt machines and demand ransoms. Was there anything else in all the rambling?

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Thunderbird is GO: Mozilla prepares to jettison mail client

Charlie Clark
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Re: Best Thing For Thunderbird

At least now Thunderbird has the chance to fly. Look at what happened to OpenOffice when it was split and LibreOffice was born.

What an explosion of new features and bugs?

I understand why LibreOffice was started but, to be honest, I am not impressed by the work so far. On OS X I find OpenOffice far more reliable.

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The web is DOOM'd: Average page now as big as id's DOS classic

Charlie Clark
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Re: Lazy Devs

My own company site (which is getting an overhaul anyway and will be optimised to the eyeballs) renders in around 640ms yet weights in at 670kbs.

Under what conditions does it load and render in 640ms?

The golden rule is to have all relevant content in HTML. But this doesn't mean that you can't add stuff once something has loaded that people can read / look at. That said, "one page" sites are almost always a nightmare to maintain.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: pre-scaling web images to avoid bandwidth bloat

how about Image Magick's 'convert' on the server side?

Bit of a sledgehammer for a walnut really and too slow for constant use – don't forget you're going to have manage names.

But everything is available as mod_pagespeed (exists fro Apache, Nginx, IIS), which can handle caching and has some heuristics for content-negotiation / bandwidth, because you may well want at least four different versions of the same image for mobile, desktop, hi-res, JPEG, WEBP, etc.

In my view, the complexity associated with getting this right takes it outside the web "coders" responsibility and into infrastructure. Nearly all the attempts of web developers to solve these problems have led to, at best, half-baked solutions.

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Charlie Clark
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That leaves about 300K for text and ... not sure. Even with markup, 300K of text is a lot. Are people pulling in 290K of CSS for every page?

You're right: 300 kB would be a lot. But the average (for all HTML including stuff from iFrames) is only 66 kB for markup and content (and this is usually compressed). CSS isn't much more at around 76 kB. But more and more sites are using custom fonts (up to 50%). These are pretty evil because they are large and delay rendering. But getting more popular by the month.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: from three 'double u's to one single 'm'

We still have one locally.

FTFY: the govt has advisers who thing that Amazon is good replacement for local libraries…

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Come get your free Opera VPN (and bring along something to read)

Charlie Clark
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Re: Just a reworking of Opera Turbo?

No, Opera bought a complete multi-home VPN service and added it to the browser a while back. You can use it any time but free traffic is limited.

In the new version from the developer channel it looks like the PoPs which you can use are limited: I can only see Germany, Canada and the US. Guess it's back to using Hola…

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Ad-blocker blocking websites face legal peril at hands of privacy bods

Charlie Clark
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Re: Bull

But do they?

No, because the consent must be both explicit and informed. So, websites cannot assume that consent has been given but must explicitly inform users and obtain their explicit agreement. NB. there explicit exemptions for things like session cookies. The law isn't some Luddite attempt to break the web but it does make spying on users a little more difficult.

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Stalled cloud growth, software flatlining, hated Lumias unsold... It's all fine, says Microsoft CEO

Charlie Clark
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Re: Bankruptcy?

Windows & Office are easily offsetting those and they're still profitable.

Not really, especially Office sales Y-o-Y are disappointing considering a major new release last year. Only time will tell if the shift to Subscription Office will work as well.

And, for all the noise about Windows 10, it should also have driven sales of some new gear: I suspect numbers for both MS and PC makes would have been even worse without it.

Microsoft still has enough cash to cease trading and continue as Sonomish Hathaway. I suppose we can expect to see the phone division wound up or sold for a dollar to Foxconn. But where is the new growth coming from? Azure's headline numbers are impressive but starting from a very low base.

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Larry Ellison's Brit consortium in 'advanced talks' to buy Aston Villa

Charlie Clark
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Re: Pity the Villa fans

Do you think they will have to pay for every seat in the stadium, as it is possbile for them to sit in any one of them?

Sitting costs extra…

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Charlie Clark
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I'm a United fan, and the lowest point in my football watching life was probably getting knocked out of the champions league by Rosenberg, or somebody.

Relegation in 1974 was pretty hard to swallow but, more recently, surely having to take down the "35 years" banners was the worst thing to happen?

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Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

ah, the Toon Army's delusions of grandeur…

Even when the Bitters were in the old Third Division they were getting MASSIVE crowds of up 30,000 a game for which they still hold the record. Compare and contrast this Newcastle's attendances when not in the top flight: often less than 20,000.

They might talk a good talk up on the Tyne but they don't do the walk.

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HTC 10: Is this the Droid you're looking for?

Charlie Clark
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Re: UI design

Have another upvote.

Also, I'd like to add that of the current three UI sets for mobile: Google's Material, Apple's Flat and Windows Metro, Material is by far the most completely thought through. It was itself obviously inspired by the things in Metro that Microsoft got right (it really isn't bad on small devices), and itself inspired the volte-face that Apple did from skeuomorphic to flat, which looks like what it is: a copy of Material Design.

It is an excellent pragmatic and utilitarian UI framework and the developer guidelines are excellent, too.

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Chrome lives in dog years: It's seven years old but just turned 50

Charlie Clark
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Re: Those damn poorly coded sites

Depends on the HTML. Historically websites served up lots of incorrect HTML and browsers developed all kinds of workarounds so that you would at least see something rather than rejecting everything that couldn't be validated. The workarounds add complexity and thus vulnerability. Add to this Javascript which could have a routine that uses up all the memory. But the plugin architecture is probably the biggest vulnerability for browsers and where Google has done the most work: isolated processes and a better plugin API where they're still needed, while working on "native" HTML5 features to render plugins largely irrelevant.

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Intel literally decimates workforce: 12,000 will be axed, CFO shifts to sales

Charlie Clark
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Re: Makes one wonder...

Sure it is ... with 98% of the server market and about 100% of the fastest growing "consumption device" sector there is : "premium ultramobile" AKA "convertibles". All done with a 62% gross margin.

From a tiny base and growth is not big enough to compensate for the decline in the PC business.

While phone and tablet markets are stagnant.

But much, much bigger and with a faster replacement rate. Intel has repeatedly tried and failed to get into this business which is why it's now hidden in another category.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Another FPU bug, this time in executives brains?

I understand a company may want to act fast - but isn't Intel just panicking?

Not really, probably reacting to sliding orders from PC manufacturers. The costs of maintaining Moore's law need to be offset by future sales: costs for better process are rising and future sales of the high-margin chips look to be stable at best.

Intel has had a near-monopoly in the PC business for years which has meant for very high margins. Unfortunately, the PC business is now in decline so retrenchment (less R&D and slower development cycle) is required to avoid having lots of chips and the related, and very expensive, manufacturing capacity that no one wants any more.

Data centres are still doing very well but growth seems to be topping out. The IoT market gets lots of hype but is at best nascent. If it ever does take off, margins will be much smaller and the competition fiercer.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Newer chips?

I'm on an even older machine.

That said: I can think of some workloads (compiling / CI) where a beefier processor would make a noticeable difference. And you can never have enough RAM. But such workloads are rare enough not common enough to warrant a new machine, even though I can offset the costs as a business expense. Indeed priority for my next machine is better mobility: I'm getting sick of lugging around over 2 kg a machine when travelling.

I suspect many people are in a similar situation which makes it harder for vendors.

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Are bearded blokes more sexist?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Back-to-front logic

If I let my beard grow, do I am become more sexist?

It might improve your coherence.

hah! fat chance of that. "death to sense!" as Herbert Prefabs would say.

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Charlie Clark
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The majority faith in India is Hinduism not Islam…

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Charlie Clark
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Back-to-front logic

Consequently, men in different cultures and traditions cease shaving

This supposes that shaving is the natural order. It isn't: growing a beard is natural; shaving is an act of denial of this. Shaving arose originally, as far as I know, as a symbol of status.

If I let my beard grow, do I am become more sexist?

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All-Python malware nasty bites Windows victims in Poland

Charlie Clark
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Re: Fail

It's easy to add some obfuscation to the final package that will make detection a lot harder. This is standard for much malware.

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Obama to admit Moon landing was faked?

Charlie Clark
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Indeed, bookmaking is an excellent example of applied statistics: the bookies nearly always win. The odds reflect the potential cost to the bookie. So the odds, at the start of the season, of Leicester winning the league were longer than some of the bets purely because nobody had placed a bet. Long odds are also designed to attract speculative bets which can in turn bring in more business.

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Apple assumes you'll toss the Watch after three years

Charlie Clark
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Re: Four years?!?!

I've got a 2010 MacBook Pro… but that doesn't make me average. Businesses will probably have a higher turnover due to accounting rules and I suspect they'll make up the majority of purchases: including stuff being bought by employees. As Apple kit usually has higher resale values a lot of kit goes on to find new owners.

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Intel takes aim at Arduino with US$15 breadboard

Charlie Clark
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Re: Still does not compete on price

Well, an RPi 0 isn't a microcontroller and will probably use more power than the Quark.

That said there are oodles of ARM M series chips you can use which will do more, for less.

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Charlie Clark
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Microbit?

Free and can run off a watch battery.

As Intel knows only too well: it won't really be the chip or the board that decides this but the surrounding eco-system of devices. Like the Rapsberry Pi, the Arduino profits from being the first to the market in significant volumes.

As for cost: Intel cannot afford to undercut the cheapest Chinese ARM chips, which keep getting better and better.

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Apple is rolling WebRTC video-chat into Safari iOS, OS X browsers

Charlie Clark
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When the walled garden isn't working

Apple's strategy with webkit has been very clear: make it good enough to work as the frontend for the app store. Once you have enough users inside the garden you can sod interoperability.

Now that messenger apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are drawing users, interoperability with them for things like Facetime suddenly become interesting if Apple's want to keep users from switching to a different platform. WebRTC guarantees interoperability and, as Google's Hangout app (I've heard different things about the browser version) demonstrates, it also works to scale.

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'Bring back xHamster', North Carolina smut watchers grumble

Charlie Clark
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Go

Re: I expect...

I think they probably couldn't give a shit about North Carolina but just love the free publicity worldwide. I think that's what most of the other companies are interested in as well.

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Bundling ZFS and Linux is impossible says Richard Stallman

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Re: I'm with Stallman on this.

GPL is a damn sight more liberal than any proprietary licenses that I have ever seen.

But ZFS isn't under a proprietary licence…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I'm with Stallman on this.

In what way are you with him?

  • That ZFS can't be distributed with Linux as Ubuntu proposes?
  • Oracle should change the ZFS license to suit Stallman?

For the first: well, surely that's a matter for the courts. For the second: why the hell should they? It was the FSF that started the incompatibility game with licences and the subsequent feeding frenzy for lawyers. Thank fuck that the GPL is rarely used on new projects.

Solution: want ZFS? Use BSD or Solaris. Problem solved.

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Ofcom wants you to thank it for resurrecting the spectre of BT's 1980s monopoly

Charlie Clark
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This is all a bit weird

IANAL but my understanding is that there is nothing preventing either OFCOM or the Monopolies Commission from adding riders to any telco merger, as long as they don't contravene EU competition rules: basically no state aid.

Still, it's always nice to have someone else to blame.

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Shareholder rage freezes Salesforce boss Marc Benioff's package

Charlie Clark
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Unhappy

Nice work if you can get it…

Especially while Salesforce continues to lose money.

Still when it is bought (probably by Oracle if current rumours are anything to go by) then it'll speedball's around and time for the accountants in Delaware to earn their tax-free dollars by cooking up a leveraged deal with plenty of debt to offset any nasty capital gains.

And then there'll be even more celebrations as the synergistic pink slips get sent.

I wish I was joking. Where's the Morozov icon?

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The future of Firefox is … Chrome

Charlie Clark
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FUD

Personally, I think it's interesting that the blog is no longer on a Mozilla webserver but on medium.com. That aside the article is worth reading:

For example, the prototype we’re feeling good about right now is built with Electron and React, not Gecko and XUL (our go-to technologies for building browsers). For a small team starting out pursuing a new product concept it’s a great choice — Electron is a wonderful tool for us to do prototyping with…

This sounds very much like the approach adopted by the Vivaldi team and has some merit: XUL is probably at the end of its life as a GUI framework. With the release of Positron this presumably means that they can go back to running Gecko as the renderer if they want.

I guess what everyone is worried about is why the need for a rapid-prototyping environment for the browser's chrome? Well, apart from the "who moved my cheese argument" for some of the "improvements" to the desktop browser, the big argument will be the continuing rise of mobile use and wanting to have the same codebase for the various versions and using the principles of responsive design to manage part of this. Seems reasonable to me.

But Mozilla does have to worry about focus and feature creep. It has, in my opinion, done the right thing and dropped side projects such as Thunderbird – nobody at Mozilla wanted to work on it – it should now work hard at avoiding picking up new side projects.

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UK competition watchdog gripes to Brussels about Three-O2 merger

Charlie Clark
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Re: BT+EE

The last two have been merging since 2004

That sounds a bit previous. Maybe you mean 2014? In any case the merger has now been approved. So now in Germany all three can offer at least 2-play services. There is also an extensive MVNO market.

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Dear Windows, OS X folks: Update Flash now. Or kill it. Killing it works

Charlie Clark
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Re: Genuine query

However I still use chromium for the odd website & was wondering if pepper flash is as susceptible

Yes, but an the update should be automatic.

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Panama Papers hack: Unpatched WordPress, Drupal bugs to blame?

Charlie Clark
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Re: If you care about security

Best thing is to look at some of the exploits that have happened in the past: it's always an eye-opener.

Do you allow uploads? Along with the DB code, the handling of files was/is always a popular vector. Best let the http server manage this whenever possible and make sure permissions are tighter than a fly's, er, wallet. ;-)

Do you allow upgrades / installs through the admin interface? If so you must assume that your admin will be hacked so you must make sure that you have CSRF tools in place (may now be standard) but also rate limiting. Best disabling it altogether and installing stuff only via SSH – less convenient and that's the point.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: If you care about security

I think Wordpress is pretty good...

Means: "it works for you". Wordpress was in there early with and easy to install and use blog system. But to do this it made significant compromises in security because in the battle for the market convenience usually wins.

Admittedly it's been a while since I looked at the code, but things like the plugin architecture are basically vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited. IMO you should treat all Wordpress installs open to exploitation and make sure sensitive information is not on the system.

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Vivaldi Jon: Mobile – yes. Feeds and an ad blocker… probably not

Charlie Clark
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I still find the UI sluggish on MacOS: there is about a 1 second delay between clicking on anything and things starting to happen.

I can live with that as long as the other stuff gets added.

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Charlie Clark
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The most powerful mobile phones today are about on par with a 2007-era Core 2 Quad desktop.

They're quite a bit beyond that except for single-threaded stuff: or since when could Core 2 Quad's encode 4k video in real time? (Yes, I know it's the video chip doing it but the point still stands).

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Charlie Clark
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What's your beef with the engine they use?

Writing HTML engines to deal with the real world is hard™. It really does make sense to collaborate on this. Maybe, once Firefox is compatible with Chromium extensions you'll be able to choose different renderers.

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Charlie Clark
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All the popular blockers work fine in Vivaldi: I've been using Ghostery without problems for months. Given scarce development resources I think that's fine. It also keeps the company out of the legal firing line because users have to choose to install a blocker.

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London to Dover 'smart' road could help make driverless cars mainstream – expert

Charlie Clark
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Re: 50 years later than German towns

Most cities in the world have similar systems on their main roads. However, it doesn't really seem to do much to reduce traffic and can cause problems where main roads cross.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: computer aided burglary.

You seem remarkably naive. Crime will always adapt to the environment and criminals are often early adopters of technology. If straight theft seems less rewarding then try ransoming people or their stuff.

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Cash-strapped Sprint to raise $2.2bn by flogging off its network hardware

Charlie Clark
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Stop

Re: Pardon?

How the hell is Sprint not minting money?

While cashflow might be positive, Sprint is heavily in debt due to: the NextTel buy; betting on WiMAX and subsequent retooling for LTE; being bought by Softbank. Betting on the wrong technology also means that Sprint has to offer better deals, with lower margins, to gain marketshare.

Some debts are coming to maturity and there isn't enough cash to repay them. In this situation sell-and-leaseback looks like the best option because Softbank's own highly leveraged position makes bonds unattractive to investors.

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Windows 10 with Ubuntu now in public preview

Charlie Clark
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Facepalm

Re: It is like a dog's walking on its hind legs.

I think it's positive: more people exposed to Linux, but without making their managers nervous by leaving Windows (yet).

That's just wishful thinking. Lots of people are happy with Windows but doing stuff on the command line can be a challenge.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: It is like a dog's walking on its hind legs.

The support for things like gcc are great. Anyone who wants to development work often struggles if what they're working on has dependencies that may need compiling (lxml in Python springs to mind but I'm sure there are many others). It means maintaining separate instructions and possibly even packages for the windows world. The sub-system support means that the docs for installing and running command line stuff are pretty much the same whatever platform. This a big deal for a lot of people both those using Windows, for whatever reason, and library developers.

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Taking an artsy selfie in Stockholm? You might need to pay royalities

Charlie Clark
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Re: The council is the people

How many people that walk by the installation everyday see the work for free? Where is the difference when seeing it online? It is still seen for free in the public space, by the public.

Big difference: first of all definitions of non-commercial are specific to each country. Wikimedia is a US not-for-profit but this definition applies solely within the US.

A better example would be a lot simpler: something appears on television or in a newspaper article. Journalists normally have an exemption from royalties. Otherwise, you can expect to pay.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: "You might need to pay royalities"...

If I then published them (e.g. Image host sites such as Flickr…

Which is why their T&Cs always contain indemnity clauses explicitly allowing for redress.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: no

I think in these cases local authorities restrict permission for commercial filming (realistically because they can charge for it, and to protect the city's image)

No, at least in the UK, they are acting "for the public": they are they default copyright holders. Other countries see this differently.

but non-commercial filming is a free-for-all, more or less. Or is every one of the selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower on Facebook a copyright infringement?

The photographers probably aren't but the society that protects the rights of the Eiffel Tower is notorious for searching for and charging for images of the Tower and I would expect any such photo that gained notoriety to be followed by a demand for royalties. It's happened before.

Not sure what happens to all the pictures out of copyright in the various museums and art galleries but I think there are similar rules.

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Google, Facebook's CAPTCHAs vanquished by security researchers

Charlie Clark
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FAIL

Subheadline

Another middle class job gone as CAPTCHA-crackers beaten

FFS El Reg how did this nonsense slip through? Is this just a very poor attempt at irony?

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Bezos defends Amazon culture in letter to shareholders

Charlie Clark
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While there's no doubt that Amazon is a successful company in terms of revenue and profit

Revenue, yes. Profit less so.

Investors have stuck with Amazon for years because of the (self-fulfilling) high stock price and jam tomorrow. At some point they might start demanding margins > 1%: sell the tat bazaar and focus on the digital stuff.

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