* Posts by Paul Chambers

15 posts • joined 10 Oct 2008

Ubuntu Linux daddy Mark Shuttleworth: Carrots for Unity 8?

Paul Chambers

Ubuntu base, but not necessarily unity...

On a personal level I find getting things working with ubuntu a bit easier than with other distributions. It offers a good balance of bleeding edge, community support, stability, and manageable upgrade cycle. For virtualisation development, ease of use for things like openstack, and general development, it's not perfect, but better than most.

Unity i don't like, but the availability of so many options on the same base and repositories means there are ways around it. I like the look of budgie, and it will be available as ubuntu budgie from 17.04. It's already workable, and likely my direction of travel in the short term.


UK.gov flings £400m at gold standard, ‘full-fibre' b*&%*%£$%. Yep. Broadband

Paul Chambers

BT not competent?

I'd argue that it's government that's not competent.

BT, to my certain knowledge, were working on fibre in the local loop at Martlesham Heath in the late eighties, and early nineties. I myself did a project in conjunction with them regarding fault finding in the local loop (TPON) in 1991.

Why did it never get deployed?

The conservative government were keen to sell off cable franchises, at maximum price. So they prevented BT competing on services (legislatively), and did not require cable companies to achieve full, or substantial coverage (they could meet their targets just by focusing on high density housing, and in many cases former council estates that were the major market for cable TV services at the time).

The UK broadband infrastructure has never recovered from this cynical politically motivated carve up, seemingly purely for profit (tax cuts == buying votes).


Microsoft just got its Linux Foundation platinum card, becomes top level member

Paul Chambers

Re: Linux Desktops

Have you heard of Chromebooks?

Google's recent moves around it's 'linux' have put it very much in the enterprise market, along with google apps. They've put clear water between what they do for google architecture and what they do for the linux ecosystem.

Microsoft is perhaps trying to have a position via "my enemies, enemy" strategy.


Finally, that tech fad's over: Smartwatch sales tank more than 50%

Paul Chambers

Re: Premature obituary

I can see your argument for a wearable, through perhaps display glasses, with eye and voice (mind!) control. I can see sensors located variously, with possibly a wrist device for notification and alerts. I really cannot see the argument for a specific wrist located general computing device, and the limitations that imposes.

Current tech, and best for most usage cases is a tricorder/handheld device supplemented with accessories (sensors, display, alerts/alarms, headsets). Something that allows the user to determine an appropriate setup.

It's not possible to make a general purpose computer smartwatch display that my old eyes can see, that I want stuck on my wrist. Not doable.

Paul Chambers

Re: "Fitness Bands"

You might want to have a look at Gadgetbridge ( https://github.com/Freeyourgadget/Gadgetbridge ). Pebble and mi band only....but no data collection except by you.

Paul Chambers

Dumber might actually be better, except in consumers.

I find smart watches (/dumb consumers) really fascinating from a marketing/brand perspective.

There seems to be a level of social acceptance/visibility that is required to make things a consumer product. It appears to bear no relationship to how good an idea something is, or how well thought through the implementation.

In this case: Apple releases smartwatch > smartwatches are a here and now tech ready to be used > vast numbers of consumers realise they've actually been sold a pup and shuffle away quietly.

I've long had a soft spot for 'smart' watches....being a sweetspot age for the development of digital watches...remembering the first LED watches, that were like a brick on the arm and needed a button press to reveal the magical red robot numbers. Anyone who seriously thought that a computer with a tiny screen stuck on the end of your arm, that needs buttons pressing, or worse an accurate screen tap, could do anything truly useful, deserves all that they get. To then imagine that a charging routine that demands every day/night, and limitations on environmental factors (taking it off for a shower, to swim, etc) are truly living in la-la land.

I still have an original Casio protrek titanium here. It's outlasted it's usefulness without ever needing charging or winding. It doesn't move, it just sits on the windowsill, collecting sunlight, and refusing to stop working. If I was ever stranded on a desert island that's the watch I'd want with me. I wont have it though, because it's way too awkward to wear these days. I have an original pebble, and there was a lot about that which was good. Re-charging every three to four days was a bit of a bind...but bonus marks for on wrist charging....even if the weak magnets have a tendency to pull off when hammering at the keyboard, while arguing on the internet. It did pretty much all I needed, particularly with plexfit connected to google fit (I favour google fit because it's the only really non-proprietary solution in terms of collecting from multi-vendor fitness wearables, and I don't much care if they know how lazy i really am). Except - screen tearing. Pretty much every pebble I've seen/tested/heard about has some level of screen tear develop. In my case it's terminal and renders the damn thing unusable.

I've had a mi band pulse for notifications and steps. fit and forget, charge once a month. Very easy to wear. Unfortunately no screen, so no time, and it can be difficult to determine what vibrate patterns mean what. So the mi band 2 was worth a punt at £25. Notifies call, text, or "app" (which is programmable), doesn't do much in the way of extra function but tells the time to the latest minute, and records steps continuously, with heart rate on demand from the band. Battery re-charge ever 14+ days at least. Survives football (I am in the habit of wrapping a neoprene wrist support around a wearable while playing, and wont wear an unbreakable strap for reasons of loss of wrist) and a shower.

I'd like seconds and a stopwatch/timer option (on wrist rather than via phone), and to be able to change "app" to a three letter code for the notifying application, but apart from that it pretty much meets my current best case usage scenario.

Certainly better than any "smartwatch" would.


Free Windows 10 upgrade: Time is running out – should you do it?

Paul Chambers

Re: Upgrading after the fact with media when I feel like it

"Makes me wonder if one could make a full system image (backup or third-party,) upgrade and activate 10. Then restore the Windows 7 image (why not revert from 10?"

My experience is that a machine with OEM SLiC activation gives you a bit of leeway. I have a fair stack of Dell T5500 and T3500 workstations that I have been upgrading. This is for clients who still run Windows 7 specific software, but wanted to bank the digital entitlement for later use.

Cloning the hard drives (using dd under *nix) and then running the update on the cloned drive activated fine. As did a drive cloned from one machine, and used for digital activation in another machine. All using a Dell OEM windows 7 activation. This meant I could clone in the first machine I upgraded, transfer the cloned drive to a new machine for upgrade, and gradually expand this across a number of machines.

Once the digital entitlement is active for a machine, you can re-install a clean windows 7 (format the upgraded drive) and the machine activates with the correct windows 10 version (Pro, in this case). These old Dell workstations are quite nice (great rock solid boxes), because you can turn a drive on or off in the bios, so each machine is back running with the original windows 7 setup, but with a clean activated windows 10 installation ready to be enabled via bios. I've also done this process of cloning the drive with laptops and other machines, and it seems to work appropriately for qualifying versions of the previous windows OS for both windows 10 home and pro.

It would seem that it's a relatively flexible process, with Microsoft happier to have you in the fold, rather than deny you a license.

As for using windows versus linux - I started in the CP/M era. It constantly amazes me how intellectual property law has been used to take a slew of innovations that were previously shared for greater good, to being protected so that they could be mined. Instead of the hardware being the product, the software now is. Microsoft are at the centre of monetising the software, and they want to be at the centre of monetising services. They are nothing like the best at any of it, but they have most enterprise support, because they build in the most chargeable layers.

If you install clean, put all the customised settings to "off" and don't let cortana search for anything....then windows 10 works okay. It takes an age to boot and it's slow as hell at stuff though. If you don't believe that then put something like cub linux on the same machine instead.

I owe my working life to the crippling of users capability. I'm amazed that some people appear to have only just noticed. This isn't a new windows 10 thing.


Steely wonder? It's blind to 4G and needs armour: Samsung Galaxy S6

Paul Chambers

One of the most important reasons for a removable battery, is to be able to take it out of the phone in the event of getting the phone wet. There are other good reasons. It is an advantage to be able to do so. A premium phone will allow you to. One that compromises on design won't.


Ten... DAB kitchen radios

Paul Chambers


DAB has, essentially, already failed. It is broadcast at too low a bit rate to appeal to Hi-Fi enthusiasts, and is too expensive (because essentially the UK is on it's own in using it...). As a format it is has little room to grow, and looks like a white elephant.

Someone should put it out of it's misery and pilot the UK towards adopting a newer high compression based format that the rest of the world actually uses. Something that can adequately replace FM, rather than being less compelling than it (from a quality audio perspective).


iPad 2 tougher than iPad 1. True

Paul Chambers

Woah there, hoss....

Strength and flexibility are not synonymous.

If something of the same material is more flexible, it is likely to be less strong. Different materials may have different characteristics, but are likely to have different drawbacks. For example, ceramic is very strong, but very brittle, whereas polythene is very flexible, but not very strong.

A flexible thing may bend and distort components underneath, causing damage. In comparison a harder thing may transfer shock into the case chassis, rather than through the components.

Or not, it depends on the design.

It may be that by design the ipad is indeed more resilient to damage, but that is not borne out by the contention of the article, which is misleading at best.

Thinner thing made of stuff, bends less than thicker thing made of stuff, is pretty scant material on which to base an article.


Ubuntu 10.10: date with destiny missed

Paul Chambers

What this one said....

If you know that you want different partitions, you almost certainly know how to do it. If you want different partitions it's entirely possible that you might want these partitions spread over different types of drive (solid state or ramdisk, or RAID - mirrored, striped or a combination - for example), Filesystems (to put a NTFS partition to be mounted in both windows and linux for shared data, perhaps), or for a range of other reasons (operating system testing, virtual machine storage.....etc).

The author should get over himself and his parochial self interest, and realise that the least complex setup is almost certainly the correct choice for a default installation for an inexperienced user.

Stick everything where it is easy to find and learn from. Those of us with special needs can sort ourselves out, thanks.


Windows Phone 7 launch dates leak

Paul Chambers

Too little, too late?

Windows Phone 7, really who cares?

There was a time that HTC Windows Mobile phones were the power user smartphone of choice. Highly configurable, with loads of software, to achieve oodles of high end enterprise integration. Unfortunately the phone bits were never very good (in fact the Diamonds that I bought for our company were possibly the worst professional decision I've ever made in my career).

Windows mobile has been left trailing in the dust by the iphone and android in the consumer space and the better power management and resilience of the symbian communicators (E72 etc) and the integrated enterprise goodness of the blackberry's - despite nicking all the best hardware early from HTC.

So they've decided to make mobile 7 pretty like apple (we all know how they are likely to fare on that battleground), and reduce the high levels of configurability and customisation of the old windows mobile (about the best thing the platform had going for it).

For what? where will it sit in the marketplace? More expensive than android, but less flexible. A pretty competitor to iphone, but without the market share and fanbois.

Dead. Duck.


Google Wave limps on until year end and beyond (maybe)

Paul Chambers

I found wave useful too.....well, would have.....

....if it had worked properly and been more flexible. As a unified method of dealing with interactive collaboration it is quite spectacular. Being able to combine different media and to record the development of a wave and replay it has a number of applications for which a solution currently does not exist in the real world.

Imagine a bulletin/message board with waves for threads/topics. Subsequent contributors can add/amend/insert material in the relevant place, without having to quote previous posts and append it at the end. It could be mixed media...and anyone joining the discussion could play the thread to catch up. Of course to be able to do that it needed to be able to be hosted on ones own servers/hosting, to be integrated into a wrapper that is site specific, and to allow a diverse range of enhanced admin options (for example privileges for read/write/edit of existing waves and to be able to control who can publish new waves).

....but now think that you can use the same mechanism for private messages, public messages to people unregistered at the site, you can also use it as a collaboration environment for writing white papers or as a project management tool. Think of it as rtf for the internet age.

Google indicated that this would be possible, and tried to get developers on board to work towards such integration. Why didn't it happen? Well it partly did, it's just that the technology is immature, the feature set outside the google hosted wave servers substandard, and the google hosted waves lacked the community (of either developers or users) to gain momentum.

Wave isn't a fail, though. Get the technology right, integrate it into specific applications, and distribute freely in a truly non-proprietary way, and I still believe it's a game changer.

The question is, who pays?

It's an Apple Newton moment. Absolutely brilliant idea, but fundamentally unusable in its current form. Look forward ten years, and the showcased concepts behind it will be ubiquitous.


Challenging accepted ERP wisdom

Paul Chambers

One size fits all ERP against integrated specific tools.

I think the view that is expressed in this article is interesting, but then I would do because in practice I reached a similar conclusion.

For my MBA dissertation it was my intention to do a case study on the implementation of ERP within my organisation. This plan was somewhat compromised as in the process of that implementation, and after a change in emphasis within the various business units that compromise our organisation, a decision was made to use specific dedicated tools that communicated across the functions, rather than integrated them into a whole.

From an implementation point of view, particularly from an IT perspective, it is 'easier' to deploy one comprehensive system. However the ability to find one system that is a good fit for all practices and operations within a diverse organisation is challenging. It often means compromise, customisation and alteration of existing processes. This can undermine the advantages of an integrated system making it cumbersome, inflexible, and hard to maintain. It is also likely that overall cost of purchase and deployment will be high.

Choosing small dedicated tools for specific processes means that a better fit for individual work processes can be found. This allows more 'out of the box' solutions, making maintenance and upgrades easier, as well as no one failure rendering all business functions inoperable. It also allows more readily for change within autonomous business units or processes. The additional effort required is in getting the diverse tools passing necessary information required across processes.

From an IT perspective it requires a more complex infrastructure, nevertheless I think it can benefit the performance of the business.

It might not have been the intended focus of my dissertation, but you may be relieved to know (as was I) that this conclusion at least allowed me to satisfactorily pass my degree.

Clearly it isn't the correct approach for everyone, but it certainly should be considered. The managers in our business units are happier, and have bought into the process more - quite simply because the business software they use is of their choice rather than an imposition from elsewhere. Unfortunately it's more onerous for me, but you don't run a business to please the IT function any more than you should rely on accountants for innovation.


Asus Eee Box Atom-based desktop mini PC

Paul Chambers

Ideal as a Media Director for LinuxMCE?

I've been looking for a small quiet pc that I can mount behind a monitor to use as a portable computer/media centre for display at various locations around my automated home. Initially it seemed that the lack of 1080p would be the only significant stumbling block for this machine. It seems, however, that the LinuxMCE (my solution of choice to integrate media services and home automation) people have it running 1080p comfortably.


If could buy this cheaper, without XP or a hard drive, it would be perfect.