* Posts by Charlie Clark

4667 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Hurrah! Windfarms produce whopping ONE PER CENT of EU energy

Charlie Clark
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Re: your forgot a bit

Well, I hear the Saudis are pumping like crazy to keep the price down (for not entirely clear reasons.

They're pumping to keep market share. The basic logic is to try and force American shale oil out of the business. Hasn't worked so far.

I am slightly worried about what they might do to prevent sanctions against Iran from being lifted as everything now points to fat pipelines from Iran to Europe, China and India.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: dealing with waste from nuclear power

New reactor designs are slated to totally eliminate waste storage by milking existing nuclear waste for all it's got.

1980 called and wants its headline back.

Nuclear has been over-promising and under-delivering from the start. In the process it's hoovered up more subsidies than the renewable lobby will ever do. Is that Finnish plant online yet? Did the UK government really have to promise a fixed profit level for its next plant?

Renewables are doing just fine. The problem is a lack of storage that can be replace backup generation capacity.

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Ballmer's billion-dollar blunders: When he gambled Microsoft's money and lost

Charlie Clark
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ODF is the death knell of Microsoft. If Microsoft cannot hold its customers to Office format, then any office suite will do - and Libre Office is free and Open Source.

Bollocks to that. FWIW Office OpenXML is just as open as ODF. It may be shit but it is open.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Don't be scared to fail

This is something that the US seems to accept much more easily than in the UK

The bankruptcy laws have a lot to do with that. In the US if you fail bad there's little to stop you walking away from the debt and starting all over again. There are attendant tax-breaks for those lending the money so venture capital is far less risky than it might appear.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: In fairness to Ballmer

All good except for this:

Linux also brought a threat to the client end with a competent desktop which just needs an ecosystem.

It still ain't happening for Linux outside Android.

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Charlie Clark
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My guess is that Windows 8 itself probably didn't cost a great deal of revenue directly. In the consumer space the move towards handhelds was already underway. Enterprise customers had already generally said: no thanks, we're still busy with Windows 7. Yes, it was a PR fuckup, but if you look at the EBITDA since then it's been steady.

In much the same way that the Vista fiasco led to a concentration of minds and a thoroughly reasonable Windows 7, Windows 8 is leading towards Windows 10. The OS available on release date is probably less important than many of us imagine. More important is the general shift at Microsoft towards services and also acknowledging that "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" with Office and Cortana for Android and IOS. Windows 10 may just end up being one way of getting those services into people's hands.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: To paraphrase Reagan...

Yeah, they're still sitting on the goodwill. Wonder when their "corrections" are coming. MS was bidding against itself for Skype!

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Google: Hey startups, want in on our patent gang? First hit's free

Charlie Clark
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Re: How is this protection against patent trolls?

Microsoft isn't a patent troll, not by the true definition

What is the true definition? I'd define a patent troll as anyone attempting to use patents to prevent innovation, which is the opposite of what they're supposed to be for. Unisys' waving of the LZW patent falls into this category along with Microsoft's always out-of-court settlements about FAT and Apple's "rubber band" patent.

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Charlie Clark
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Revenues of $500,000 would imply a workforce of less than 10 people. That seems a reasonable definition of a startup to me.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: How is this protection against patent trolls?

The protection against trolls works in two ways: firstly, the pool will be able to act for any member that is challenged (think of Microsoft's dubious cases about FAT); secondly, over time the patents of companies that join will not become available to trolls for future abuse because they're already cross-licensed.

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So what the BLINKING BONKERS has gone wrong in the eurozone?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Germany really doesn't believe the last 60 years

But ten years ago, while the French and Luxembourg shops all accepted Visa and Mastercard, German shops held steadfastly on to cash only.

It might interest you to know that the number of credit cards in Germany peaked about 10 years ago and has been decreasing since. Why? Because the transaction charges of around 4% are not negligible. Where credit card are accepted, it's not unusual to ask for or be offered a discount if you pay cash or use your EC card. Try it the next time you go shopping in Germany.

Credit cards are common in the travel industry but even then you may see surcharges for credit cards (increasingly common when booking flights).

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The 1930s

Is it just me or are Tim's articles getting really good these days? I've gone from being a bit dismissive to being very appreciative.

It's you. There's a bit more history in this one but it's still full of the usual strawmen and incomplete arguments.

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Take off, eh, you Uber: Ontario lobs $300m lawsuit at cab app biz

Charlie Clark
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Re: uber experiences....

They reviewed my previous trip and gave a refund so the later trip was the same cost as the former

Which is virtually admission of the charge of employment…

Uber seems to do well in America where local taxi services seem disorganised and rarely run in the interests of passengers. The solution there is to beat Uber at its own game and provide more convenience, capacity and flexibility. But it is wrong to assume that this is the case the world over.

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Antitrust this! EU Commish goes after HOLLYWOOD’s big guns

Charlie Clark
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Re: What's not to like?

At the risk of coming over all Tim Worstall

Oh, I think you'll find he's got all the arguments in favour of discretional pricing and how it maximises value.

The fact is that Hollywood has for years been dumping content on poorer countries (and tolerating piracy) to get people used to their superior (well, it generally is) product so that they can raise prices in the future. For some content owners, I'm thinking of channels like HBO, however, this could be a boon as it could allow them to cut out the middlemen: sell to the whole of Europe via a single subsidiary in, say, Luxembourg or Ireland.

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Want longer battery life? Avoid the New York Times and The Grauniad

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

Charlie Clark
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Re: Ads? Flash? JavaScript animations?

Network connections being kept open to serve ads and track users mean that the phone's radios have to be kept on.

Still, it's a novel approach to website performance.

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Were the FIRST AMERICANS really FIRST? MYSTERY of vanished 'Population Y'

Charlie Clark
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Old news?

The term "paleoamerican" has been used for a while to distinguish some inhabitants of the Americas from what we now call "native Americans. See http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21602193-new-fossil-helps-understanding-about-how-americas-were-colonised-history for an example.

The more fossils and ancient DNA we find the more complex migration turns out to have been. But the size of the oceans, particularly the Pacific, did put limits on many journeys. With the right wind and currents a raft might conceivably make it but there was no way people could carry enough fresh water with them.

What it comes down to is largely politics on interpreting migration patterns. Do the Celts have any more right to the British Isles than the Anglo Saxons and Vikings? Not that this is any kind of apologist justification for past crimes: the treatment of the indigenous population by European settlers has routinely be dreadful.

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Embarrassed Amazon admits to actually MAKING MONEY as cloud biz blooms

Charlie Clark
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Split the company

Sell-off the moving of physical product and concentrate on the digital services and AWS.

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Get root on an OS X 10.10 Mac: The exploit is so trivial it fits in a tweet

Charlie Clark
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Re: Congratulations on repeating exploits before they can be fixed

Do you have evidence of that or are you just trying to adopt vox populi here?

Yes. Microsoft and Adobe come in for a lot of criticism including from me but they have both responded to recent 0-day attacks in less than a week. Oracle has also vastly improved its patch release speed. Apple has previously taken months to release upstream security fixes (to Java in the past, more recently to openssl) especially to Safari and then there this is clusterfuck of their very own making.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Congratulations on repeating exploits before they can be fixed

Len, time will tell; Apple didn’t fix CVE-2015-1130

Apple's record on fixing bugs is worse than Microsoft's, Adobe's, Google's and Oracle's. I guess it doesn't seem to matter if you can convince your customers to buy new hardware rather than sue you for negligence.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Congratulations on repeating exploits before they can be fixed

Congratulations on repeating exploits in detail before they can be fixed by anyone…

Someone pass me the clue hammer. Or maybe it's a troll trying to go for the record number of downvotes?

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Charlie Clark
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Well, next time I'm bored in the shopping centre I can have some fun in the apple store.

Why bother there? Proper malware gets installed onto boot images at the factory…

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MariaDB seeks home-grown CEO for Oracle bout

Charlie Clark
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The existing CEO is leaving because he's had a better offer and so now they need to find someone else? This is not usually the sound of success.

MariaDB has been stealing business from MySQL – among them Google – as companies fret about Oracle's control over the project and product.

Postgres has been stealing more and more valuable business. Oracle is doing a reasonable job of cleaning up some of the weirder shit in MySQL.

And with Postgres you can have mission critical, ie. must not get lost or corrupted data, with an optimised binary JSON store for the transient shit that fuels the interwebs.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Why do these primitive databases excite people so?

MongoDB has no relationship (pun intended!) to MongoDB

er, perhaps you think one of those Mongos should be a Maria? ;-)

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Google swears blind it doesn't give SEO advantage to new internet dot-words

Charlie Clark
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Conspiracy theory?

Don't believe Google – believe us!

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The French want to BAN .doc and .xls files from Le Gouvernement

Charlie Clark
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Re: Misleading

France has a history of genuinely favouring open source. By and large this has helped keep the French IT sector active and helped avoid some outsourcing.

Office 2016 will now ask you what format (OOXML / ODF) you want to use as standard. I spend a fair amount of time working my way through the OOXML specification and there are some maddening inconsistencies and errors in it. I can very much imagine many of the Microsoft developers jumping for joy they no longer have to work with it themselves. ODF is a far better specification though by no means perfect.

To their credit Microsoft has continued to publish the details of what are essentially proprietary extensions to OOXML and the extensions are generally a considerable improvement on the original, which looks like decompiled BIFF mixed in XML bullshit a lot of the time. Office 2013 will even let you save as "strict OOXML" with the disadvantage of this being the least interoperable version, largely because it uses different XML namespaces. The last time I checked it wasn't supported by LibreOffice or OpenOffice but that may have changed.

The big problem for LibreOffice and OpenOffice, and the opportunity for Microsoft, is that LO and OO are worse to use. I gave up on LO because it routinely crashed doing things like saving to PDF or loading a single page invoice with an embedded logo. OO is more stable and has the better UI but is getting little developer love. Microsoft has the money to pay developers and you can see this in the upcoming Office 2016 which has toned down the worst of the 2007 / 2010 distractions (I hate the ribbon) and particularly Excel has features which "power users", generally in the finance industry, are happy to pay for.

Microsoft has also, if somewhat belatedly, discovered the mobile market where OO and LO have yet to show. For things to really change then we're going to have work out ways of paying more developers to work on OO and LO (merging codebases at some point might be an idea).

Last but not least, I'll side with almost anyone agains the time-wasters at the FSF.

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SpaceX's blast shock delays world's MOST POWERFUL ROCKET

Charlie Clark
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There's no real doubt that a SpaceX alternative would be cheaper and probably better

I would say there is considerable doubt. As for the 1970s technology jibe: all rockets are 1940s technology.

Yes, the Space Alliance is beholden to the behemoths but that doesn't mean that they can't eventually come up with the goods: it's not as if they don't have damn good engineers. Part of the historic problem of cost-plus overrun was politician-driven mission creep. Though on some of the really pioneering work you can't really do anything other than go cost-plus, which is why DARPA still does it.

In any case, any discussion of launch vehicles really ought to include Ariane which continues to quietly go about the business of commercial satellite launch. But also as the space programmes in China and India progress we can expect to see even more fruits of "lean innovation" across the industry. Who's to say that the Chinese won't be offering 150 tonne launchers 10 years from now?

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Windows 10 Edge: Standards kinda suck yet better than Chrome?

Charlie Clark
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Vivaldi is also shit and highly crashy

Running so much of the UI in Javascript makes it a bit slow but the usability is coming along nicely. I haven't had it crash yet.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The king is dead !

The IE team has been much more engaged in standards than Apple over the last few years.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: wtf!

Actually, since IE9 the relevant developers have been working quite hard to implement web standards but were hamstrung by backwards compatibility due to the clusterfuck that is ActiveX. Edge is the result of the realisation by management that maintaining support for that kind of stuff, that they have been actively discouraging since Vista, was not compatible with actually updating the browser.

Where IE 8 is required it's easy enough to run a thin VM with IE 8.

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Microsoft: Hey, you. Done patching Windows this month? WRONG

Charlie Clark
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Re: Kernel mode fonts

then the GDI could be taken out of the kernel and brought back into userland without affecting compatibility.

Thanks for the detail!

Didn't Microsoft kill GDI in Vista? Certainly on any machine beefy enough to handle WPM the font-handling should be the responsibility of the graphics engine, hopefully running on the card.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Adobe crapware again?

Well, consider that font handling is a basic OS function (meaning it gets used all the time) AND that graphics drivers are in kernel space for performance reasons, how else are you going to get smooth and speedy font rendering without tons of time-wasting context switching?

I think this is the root cause: x86 is dreadful at context-switching which is why the decision was taken to put stuff that had deliberately been kept out of the kernel into it. I suspect it didn't make as much difference on the DEC Alphas that early on were given equal status to x86. Sigh, another instance of where the Wintel duopoly stifled innovation and quality.

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Here's why Whittingdale kicked a subscription BBC into the future

Charlie Clark
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Flawed comparison

The UK market has lagged behind other countries, using DVB-T/MPEG-2 for FreeView when the rest of Europe was implementing DVB-T/MPEG-4…

The UK was a pioneer with DVB-T, which is a niche player in countries like Germany (satellite dominates) or the Netherlands (cable): so much so that some of the private companies want to drop it completely. The switch from analogue to digital in Germany was also forced through much faster than in the UK but with fewer channels and none in HD.

However, I don't see what any of this has to do with the licence fee. In Germany it's a pro-household and includes PCs. No exceptions like the UK has. The fee is comparable, and just like the UK, about 50% of it goes towards sport. Want cheaper, universally accessible TV? Require more sports to be free to watch.

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BT's Openreach plots G.fast end-user trials

Charlie Clark
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Costs of digging up the road to individual premises are fine, when you're not doing a whole street at once.

Actually, the way to do it is dig up a whole street at once and combine it with whatever other utility work is required. Individual access invariably means expensive resurfacing down the line. While you can't expect private companies to pay for this*, the state can quite easily and it's better use of capital than giving it to the banks. It can also afford to calculate an ROI over a longer term which means lower rentals. Higher take-up could conceivably lead to higher productivity, or at least higher market activity.

* Well that was until the central banks started to hold interests rates down artificially. Correctly pitched (reasonable annual return, say 5%) and this could be attractive to pension funds who are starting to get worried about cashflow. "Correctly pitched" means: not as fecking stupid as the promised returns on the proposed new nuclear power station. The state would also have to sweeten the deal for more remote areas where the sums otherwise won't add up.

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Spamquake subsides: less than half of email is now processed pork

Charlie Clark
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Re: I wish ...

Yep, I'm not seeing much change. Spamassassin on the server and a learning filter on the client (are you listening Microsoft?) mean it's a low level nuisance: about 10 spams a day get through spamassassin, the mail client recognises 80% of them.

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STARS SNUFFED in massive galactic whodunit

Charlie Clark
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Re: Mere mortals, they are not.

For the life of me I cannot imagine that Dark Matter exists.

It's a weird name for an observable phenomenon (the way galaxies rotate) that cannot be explained by anything else, including your suggestions.

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Facebook's React Native is exciting devs. Or is it, really?

Charlie Clark
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And it's a welcome return to champion PR man, Matt Asay… Namedropping and "boosting" his friends' stuff is what he's best at.

Meanwhile, the performance of ReactJS has recently been questioned: https://aerotwist.com/blog/react-plus-performance-equals-what/

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Minister for Fun opens consultation on future of the BBC

Charlie Clark
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I can't quite say the same for Bargain Hunt, Homes under the Hammer, and other such useless crap. All these programs do is let other people know how rich/poor those on the show are, compared to the host.

My mum loves them all, even admits to being slightly addicted to them, but not for that reason. She loves the stories about the antiques and likes to see how the houses are redecorated. When it comes to sneering about other people she's olympic material, but she virtually never makes negative comments about what she says.

Property and possessions and the trade of them are bourgeois obsessions, just like technology is for us geeks.

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Charlie Clark
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A wide remit is required

The original BBC Charter was successful because it gave the Corporation sufficient leeway to try things out, without fear of government interference. This has allowed the BBC to try things out and be one of the pioneers of new technologies. And it does this throughout its history in radio, television and more recently in the internet. Does this lead to mission creep? Absolutely, which is why periodic review, both by its governing body, and when the Charter is up for renewal, is important.

The licence fee provides a backstop so that ratings chasing is important but not the categorical imperative. It's not just about entertainment, though the principle of universal access is inshrined in this, but also about informing and educating the public. In a competitive environment the BBC both leads by example, and may help create new markets as it does so, as well as a follower of trends (I'm thinking here more of commissions for Dennis Potter, et al. than yet another celebrity show, though they too have their place). It's also a talent factory.

It must establish and stick to its own definitions of quality. The dumbing down of news production in favour of emotion since Greg Dyke makes me weep. I used to read a lot of new on the website but do so less and less and it becomes just another peddler or rumour and PR. I really don't give a fuck what someone says on Twitter; I may want to know why they said it. Less speculation, more facts and analysis: I can live with well-argued editorials from experienced journalists. Reanimate Brian Redhead and drop the confrontational interview style: if someone is stonewalling, take control back. If they won't answer the real question, let them say nothing and make sure everyone knows.

Oh, and I want to be able to listen to TMS all over the world, though Guerilla Cricket is proving a worthy substitute.

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Feel like you're being herded onto Windows 10? Well, you should

Charlie Clark
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What CIOs say

But CIOs tell The Reg that if they do a desktop refresh, they'll move from Windows XP to Windows 7

I can't believe there are that many corporates still on XP. Those that are left are probably paying for extended support or praying that their security procedures are adequate.

But for many companies Windows 7 is there to stay. No one will be migrating this year that isn't getting a helping hand from Microsoft. Most CIOs will give it at least a year to see how the "public beta" works and what the market thinks of it. Any large scale migration will then be at least a year in the planning and another in the execution, giving Microsoft more time to fix issues. This is just how things worked with the move from XP to 7. Vista and 8 were the "thanks, but no thanks" versions.

New versions of Office on the other hand should do quite well.

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Charlie Clark
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IE 8 is required for stuff that was written explicitly for IE 6. Migrating some of that shit is sometimes very expensive and difficult: the source code may not be available.

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Reddit scrubs up: Child abuse? Gone. Drugs? Cool. RACISM? FINE

Charlie Clark
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I think reddit is heading fast into MySpace and yahoo! territory.

The numbers seem to indicate otherwise, but it might be harder to monetise them. I've not used Reddit but I can imagine that the market for this kind of very hands-off approach is pretty big. This is one of the reasons I stick with El Reg: we have a large degree of freedom in our comments.

Facebook and, particularly Twitter, have had to kowtow not least because they've embraced by mainstream media.

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Your security is just dandy, Apple Pay, but here comes Android

Charlie Clark
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Lastly If margins are lower for Apple for Apple Pay transactions in the UK, so what? They aren't doing it for the per transaction margin, which whilst nice is not a big business for them. They are doing it to sell phones.

Whilst Apple can indeed ignore the margin, it isn't really adding the feature to cell more phones but to bind its customers to it even more – it gets to mine all the sales data.

However, the market will be determined as much by the merchants as by the customers. Merchants will favour anything that reduces the time of the transaction and avoids cash. Something that gets used for buying a pack of chewing gum is more important than a credit card replacement (outside the US, because in the US you can buy a pack of chewing gum with a credit card, I've even bought a stamp with one).

Personally, I'm still waiting for something that is more convenient and useful than cash which is universal and also helps me budget.

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Charlie Clark
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Good article

Independent IT security consultant Paul Moore (one such critic) noted: "I'd rather de-couple my payment card from a mobile device. It's safer IMO. ‪#ApplePay‬ doesn't solve a problem I don't have."

Can't really argue with that.

Interoperability is key and payment systems are fairly well regulated in Europe, hence the far lower margins.

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ARM servers look to have legs as OVH boots up Cavium cloud

Charlie Clark
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Re: 2x1600W PSU?!?!?!

True, but you shouldn't be comparing with Xeon. These servers will excel if they can do more per U than Xeon, but only if the jobs don't need the x86 single-threaded oomph. Proxies, webservers, etc.

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Intel beats earnings estimates (because nobody expected it to earn much)

Charlie Clark
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Profits are still healthy

Even worse, Client Computing's margins appear to be growing ever tighter. The unit's total operating income for the quarter was just $1.60bn

So, it still accounts for 50% of turnover and more than 50% of profits. And even if they are reduced, those margins are still mouth-watering when compared with the competition.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: C'mon Intel, go ARM

The problem for Intel is how could they go ARM and maintain the profit margins? Things might be different if they'd kept their StrongARM stuff, but if you see how much money they made with x86 since they sold it, you can hardly blame them.

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Mozilla's ‘Great or Dead’ philosophy may save bloated blimp Firefox

Charlie Clark
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Re: Chrome sleek and fast, Firefox bloated and slow

With Chrome you have to count the memory used by all the processes. For a while now most of the browsers have been employing very aggressive caching strategies which means keeping as much stuff in memory as possible. This is a sensible strategy on devices with enough memory, which is generally the case with desktops.

Unfortunately they all tend to favour resource pre-fetching which assumes a fast network connection. On a machine with not much memory and low bandwidth you're probably better off with a browser (except for anything that uses a lot of Javascript) that's a few years old because it makes different assumptions. Or use a compressing proxy like Opera's turbo.

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Peak Google? Chocolate Factory cuts costs amid dwindling growth

Charlie Clark
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The strong dollar is starting to affect earnings across US business: expectations are of 4-5% less for Q2 YoY (source The Economist). Expect more belt-tightening and financial experiments across the board.

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