* Posts by ThomH

2518 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Channel VAT loophole shrunk, not shut

ThomH Silver badge

That's not my interpretation

It sounds to me like all they want is more straightforward legislation. I guess the problem is that English courts tend to give exact literal meanings to legislation and will apply a purposive reading only in extreme cases. Though that's quite a good thing if you're trying to avoid politicising the judiciary, so it cuts both ways.

New movie gives Yuri Gagarin's view of historic 1961 mission

ThomH Silver badge

You've obviously not seen the modern style of documentary film

It'll be 30 minutes of someone looking solemn, while walking in crowds, telling us we're about to see the recreated flight and that seeing it will be the single most important thing that happens to us in our entire lives, then some out of focus shots of someone that looks a bit like Gagarin sitting on a bed or looking in a book or something like that, then some talking heads from the world of light entertainment to tell us why the space flight was so incredibly important and — most significantly — how it affected pop culture, then some out of focus shots of someone that looks a bit like JFK looking sad, intercut with someone that looks a little like Khrushchev beating his shoe on a table, maybe 30 seconds of the recreated flight cut to new age music which primarily focuses on the man who looks a bit like Gagarin doing out of focus reaction shots, then 30 minutes being told that seeing that was the single most important thing that will happen to us in our entire lives.

Cynical? Me?

Firefox 4 debuts: The last kitchen sink release

ThomH Silver badge

Nope, it's Intel only

I can't imagine why, given that the codebase doesn't otherwise have Intel dependencies per the evidence of Linux support, but according to http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/system-requirements.html it's 10.5 or 10.6, Intel only.

Samsung intros 'skinnier than iPad 2' tablets

ThomH Silver badge

Ummm, I don't think so

US iPad 2 entry price: $499. New Samsung 10.1 entry price: $499. The probability of the two not being identically priced here is pretty much zero.

Microsoft+IE9: Holier than Apple open web convert?

ThomH Silver badge


I think you're wrong about OpenGL, and WebGL.

WebGL does something quite different from previous attempts at 3d in the browser: it exposes a GPU-oriented, programmable API to Javascript, allowing content to be rendered to a suitable canvas. If you look at everything else, back to VRML, they tend to be about defining a 3d data file format that the browser or plug-in knows how to draw and adding hooks to control the parameters affecting rendering into ActionScript or whatever.

The industry remains unable to standardise on a 3d file format for a variety of technical reasons. So standards usually fail to gain momentum. The industry standardised a long time ago on the best ways to talk to a GPU, and building it on top of canvas means they're extending something that has already found traction rather than trying to do a completely new thing.

It is also false to argue that OpenGL has been languishing for some time. DirectX is more popular because driver support is better on Windows (partly because drivers are easier to write; it's only very recently that they've been willing to deprecate anything in the OpenGL spec) and it makes it trivial to port to Xbox. It's purely a money decision. Both APIs fully expose everything the GPU can do and the GPU is fully programmable, so they're basically equivalent.

WebGL actually descends from GL ES 2.0, which cuts out all of the fixed pipeline legacy stuff, explicitly to be simple, straightforward and modern. GL ES 2.0 is a total of 109 function calls, using which you can upload any data you want to the GPU and supply vertex and fragment shaders to do whatever you want. As it's for embedded systems (where nobody supports them), there are no geometry shaders yet. Go to Google Images and check out Epic Citadel and/or Infinity Blade to see what real products are being released based upon it.

To be honest though, graphics APIs as the route to hardware are probably just about done. It'll be GPGPU where major advances are made, which means OpenCL (not part of OpenGL, but designed to work well with it) on the Kronos side, DirectCompute (part of DirectX) on the Microsoft side.

ThomH Silver badge


I did just say that I think it's a matter of what you're accustomed to. So that's at least one person who likes anti-aliased, loosely or not-at-all hinted subpixel rendering acknowledging that others may not.

I think the wider attitude comes from the historical perspective. The unique corner that Microsoft have boxed themselves into on font hinting was a result of wanting to make vector fonts look like bitmap fonts at low pixel densities. So it's a historical anomaly. Pixel densities are much higher now than they were when Microsoft made that decision and are getting higher every year. So in a few years, everyone's going to be happy anyway — when you can no longer see the anti-aliasing you'll be happy, right?

Supporting aggressive hinting has the technical problem of introducing unpredictable text lengths. For example, the letter 'n' might end up being 4.5 pixels on your screen. If you aggressively hint that, it turns into either 4 or 5 pixels. If you print, say, 80 of them (ie, a normal sort of length of text), you've introduced 40 pixels error, one way or the other. But that's only on your screen; if the option is present and somebody else has set to respect font shapes then they don't get the 40 pixels error. And if the GUI is scaleable and someone else has aggressive font hinting on, they can get anything from 0 to 40 pixels of error.

As a result of that, it becomes very difficult to lay out your GUI in a designed fashion, using the same concepts and tools as designers like to use for the page or within Photoshop or anywhere else. So designers don't like it and tend to produce worse results. And in an increasingly design-oriented industry, you need to keep your designers happy.

Therefore, the real logic is push subpixel now, significantly ease design tasks (especially when specifying new layout technologies, like WPF and I'll wager Direct2D), in a few years everyone will be happy in any case. To extend that to alleging that anybody who likes aggressive hinting is obviously a kook is obviously an unsafe way to proceed, but I think it explains why companies like Microsoft can't just offer the option, and why the default position is to find some reason not to offer support.

ThomH Silver badge

I don't think that's ClearType

ClearType still aggressively hints, giving that uniquely Microsoft look of primarily spindly horizontals and verticals, with some 45 degree diagonals. The way they display fonts normally is so far from how they print that they actually commissioned special fonts to solve the problem (see, e.g. Calibri, which is the default in Word as of Office 2007).

For the new browser they appear to have taken a step towards matching the way a font appears on paper, on signs, on computers from other manufacturers, etc, and away from avoiding all subpixel considerations at all costs. Which I think is the direction WPF went in quite a while ago, and is something they've received a lot of praise for in Windows Phone 7.

I'm a fan, but then I normally use one of those computers from another manufacturer and I think a lot of it is just what you're accustomed to expect.

ThomH Silver badge

Standardised comment

Expect the same from a hundred more: Apple hasn't disabled JIT for anything, as it was never available in the first place. It simply failed to make it work across the entire operating system in a release that had to be ready for a highly visible hardware launch.

That aside, Microsoft's conversion is difficult to take at face value because of their history, but hard to find fault with. My feeling is that they want to be able to compete away from the desktop, so needed a reasonably modern browser they could port to everywhere. It's also probably safe to assume at this point that they'll retain the desktop for as long as it persists, so that's not so much of a concern. This is Microsoft finally looking to the future.

Amazon is best hope of a viable alternative to iPad

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It's because all business has risks

The simple unequivocal existence of a risk doesn't in itself justify withdrawing from a market. Decisions are made by looking at the expected gain, which includes allowances for all the risks.

So: it's a straightforward decision for someone like Amazon; probable gain is great and they've the clout to minimise the risk of rejections. It's also quite simple for amateur games writers, since the risk of rejection is tiny and the potential gain is great, even if extremely unlikely.

In practise, the probability of being rejected adds only very slightly to the probability of your work making no income. It's just that "Apple rejects perfectly reasonable app; aren't they a bit controlling?" is much more interesting than "App is released; nobody uses it".

Apple handcuffs 'open' web apps on iPhone home screen

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@LM, coward

I believe the US Department of Justice are already looking into the area. There's some suggestion from the usual quarters that connections between Google and the current administration may have helped expedite the issue, but absolutely no suggestion that the investigations will be influenced in any way.

The problem is that they wouldn't actually be leveraging their iTunes monopoly. To find competition infringements, authorities will need to establish that Apple have and are using a dominant position in one market to distort competition in another. In this case that'd be a dominant position in app vending to distort various subscription models. I actually think there's a good chance because Google aren't the only app vendor for Android so pure Android sales numbers aren't the question and iOS people tend to spend more on apps anyway. Apple's subscription rule limits what those offering subscriptions can do about passing Apple's 30% on to the consumer and thereby seems to distort the market.

That all being said, I maintain that Apple think they can use their current position — for as long as it lasts — to gauge subscription vendors, not that they're intending to keep down competitors.

Most likely outcome is the same as the Javascript, C, C++ or Objective-C clause; competition regulators will visibly sniff around, Apple will climb down before it gets to anything formal.

ThomH Silver badge


Yes, everything other than Safari is crippled in the sense that under iOS 4.3 it runs only exactly as fast as it did under iOS 4.2.

ThomH Silver badge


It can be something other than deliberate because the faster javascript engine is new to iOS 4.3. Being new code, no matter how well tested, there's a possibility it introduces obscure bugs in edge cases. They've therefore likely followed their standard iOS procedure and kept a copy of the older version, to ensure that apps linked and tested against the older behaviours aren't inadvertently broken. So they'll have two javascript engines around for as long as they support iOS 4.2 as a deployment target for things on the app store. At present they support back to iOS 3.0.

It's also nothing to do with http versus file. If you read the article, you'll see that web apps no longer appear to be cached locally. So both routes are http. The distinction seems to be between UIWebViews, used everywhere except Safari, and Safari. Their browser is a lot faster than web content displayed everywhere else.

It's more than possible that they want to get a significant amount of field testing done for free by incorporating the new engine into Safari. When they're sure it works properly, they'll put it into the standard web component used throughout the OS.

ThomH Silver badge


Apple have never denied they were working on a tablet or slate. They never confirm or deny their plans in advance.

As a result of that, I agree that they very often have plans they haven't discussed and that we can't conclude with certainty that the SDK wasn't a plan at initial launch. But it's wrong to impute dishonesty.

Conversely, in response to the original poster, half a decade of maintaining a bridge between their native APIs and Java and citing Java as an on-the-box feature, then half a decade of maintaining it internally at their own cost, then a collaborative effort to transfer maintenance to the same people that maintain Java on Windows — including providing source code and documentation — suggests they probably don't despise Java.

ThomH Silver badge

@Lewis Mettier

Are you some sort of robot, posting your identikit comment to every Apple story that appears?

There are no grounds whatsoever from which you can conclude that Apple's 30% charge on subscriptions is an attempt to deceive customers. You've taken one wrong and used it to allege a completely unrelated offence.

Apple MacBook Pro 15in

ThomH Silver badge

There's no such thing as a "proper" UK keyboard

You're thinking of the de facto IBM PC layout. Apple's UK keyboards remain as they have been since time immemorial, with £ on the '3', @ on the '2', quote and double quote combined on a key, etc.

Mac keyboards have an extra modifier or two, a few other extra keys including eject, don't bother with home/end, page down/page up (all of which are achieved with modifier + arrows), and tend to be more willing to hide the function keys since they're not really used for anything in OS X. So, sure, they could swap a couple of keys around and be closer to the IBM PC layout but they're not in a position to adopt it wholesale.

App Store not invited to web's date with destiny

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@Lewis Mettier

Your central thesis that "Apple customers would see how expensive Apple products and services are" if the App Store were optional for application acquisition doesn't seem to stand up to muster on the following grounds:

Yes, Apple keep 30% of the price of every application sold. But so do Google, and so do most other companies. So, life outside the walled garden (as in, completely outside — hardware and software) seems to have a similar cost, to the extent that Apple's main mobile ecosystem competitor charges the same amount without a walled garden.

The Internet remain free to access. Apple customers continue to buy Apple products even though they can presumably tell the cost difference between walking around with an Android/Blackberry/Bada/Symbian/whatever and pulling that out to check email and look at the web versus walking around with an iPhone and pulling that out to check email and look at the web.

It would therefore seem to me that (i) the costs for services are in line with the rest of the market; and (ii) in any case, they're not obscuring the cost of products.

Apple's subscription play (especially the requirement that the best price offered elsewhere also be available in app but if bought by that route will yield 30% to Apple) is likely anticompetitive but it's not designed to affect the perception of consumers and doesn't have that effect.

Tesco heralds 2011 as YEAR OF ANDROID

ThomH Silver badge

@DrXym: it's not just features

It's brand positioning; the low cost Android phones push the idea that the Android brand is for everyone, whereas Apple prefer to promote the iPhone as for the creative elite. You know, just in terms of the message they'd have you take from their advertising.

Re: the article proper, I was under the impression that 2010 had been the year of Android and that, across the whole market, Android phones were outselling iPhones already. So it's a bit surprising that Tesco have only just caught up.

I don't buy that it's a Risk-style game of world domination where the one with the bigger numbers inevitably makes the position of the one with the smaller numbers untenable or that bigger numbers is a mark of better quality so I'd label this news as interesting but unlikely to be influential upon me.

Steve Jobs bends iPad price reality

ThomH Silver badge

@Lewis Mettier

You appear not to have understood Apple's rules on subscriptions. You're correct that they take 30%. However, they also dictate that subscriptions bought on a separate device or via the browser can be transferrable without Apple taking any cut and that the cheapest price available elsewhere must also be available within the app.

Summary: if a subscription is available via an iOS app, it will be the same price as everywhere else.

The required 30% cut and the inability to pass it on to the consumer is why so many companies are up in arms about the current subscription pricing. The only potential consequence for consumers is that third party companies may abandon the platform. That's a valid concern, but the response is sort of obvious: if companies start to depart en masse then Apple can simply change their rules, while they have the vast majority of the market it's unlikely anyone will depart making it currently not an issue in practice.

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

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@Peter Gathercole

Surely the 6502 takes two cycles to do the most basic operations, in practical terms? It's one cycle to read in the op code, and then a second to perform the thing. I think part of the reason the 6502 gets a bum rap in general is that it accesses RAM every single cycle, whether it needs to or not (or, if you prefer, doesn't properly indicate its intent), whereas the z80 accesses RAM only as required — and that tends to be more infrequent due to the more complicated instruction set.

So as soon as you put a 6502 into a system where RAM is clocked at a similar speed to the CPU but shared with video circuitry, it gets seriously hobbled. Comparing the Electron to the slightly later Amstrad CPC is instructive: the former hands at least 50% of its RAM cycles to the video circuits, causing the CPU to run at half rated speed; the latter hands 75% of its RAM cycles to the video circuits but the CPU continues to run at (per empirical observations, usually passed around as a rule of thumb) around 82% of its rated speed.

Obviously the BBC Micro gets around that by coupling a 2Mhz CPU to 4Mhz RAM, interleaving video and processor accesses, so it's not a relevant concern. I just think it's something that likely affected the tone of the debate.

The real proof is in the pudding. Elite is clearly faster on the BBC than the ZX Spectrum, but that's partly because the Spectrum does a software frame copy, lacking page flipping in the 48k machine. I, Of the Mask, Starstrike 2 and Carrier Command (asll solid 3d polygon pushers with good real time frame rates) on the Spectrum side are probably more impressive than Revs on the BBC, but the market was so much larger and most of those Spectrum titles are sufficiently later that they're probably as much a result of the greater amount of interested talent and various lessons already learnt.

Crime UK site gets 400m hits, drives down property values

ThomH Silver badge

But did you treat it as a comparative exercise?

The site improved my opinion of several areas.

Looking at the reported numbers around my current residence and my former residences, and on streets and areas that I have my own opinion about near my current and former residences gave me a pretty good idea of how good the numbers are. On several occasions, my pessimistic guesses about places were debunked; I find it hard to believe there's much underreporting on there so much lower than expected numbers made me feel more confident about some places I might otherwise have sought to avoid.

That was just at the deciding what to view stage, though. I've used tried and trusted "have a walk around" method on anything I've actually looked at.

Patent attack on Google open codec faces 'antitrust probe'

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@Keith Williams

Sorry. Obviously: "a method for displaying video on a screen", which describes the idea of having the image for each frame of video within a memory area and transmitting it to a screen via an electric cable, and "a method for encoding video such as for transmission via the Internet", which covers one device sending another video data in sequential order so that it can be played.

After all, Net2Phone obtained a patent in 2000 on "point-to-point internet protocols" ("A point-to-point Internet protocol exchanges Internet Protocol (IP) addresses between processing units to establish a point-to-point communication link between the processing units through the Internet"; source: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=6,108,704.PN.&OS=PN/6,108,704&RS=PN/6,108,704).

ThomH Silver badge


Legally it's not that simple. Patents are a government granted monopoly over the ideas they contain. The simple act of having patents and of asserting patents is not (legally) anticompetitive, but the grant of them is explicitly a barrier to entry in that it prevent other people from using your intellectual property in the marketplace completely without you.

Based on the wording of the article, this sounds like it is more about the tubthumping. Since MPEG-LA don't yet assert to have any members with patents that use of WebM would infringe, the running around trying to create an atmosphere of doubt may be anticompetitive. If they find patents that cover WebM then it probably isn't.

In short: it's not the simple presence of barriers, it's whether those barriers are the ones the state likes to provide.

Add me to the list of people calling for patent reform, as I strongly suspect that WebM will be covered by MPEG-LA member patents when someone turns in their patent for "displaying video on a screen" or "encoding video such as for transmission via the Internet" or some such.

iPad 2? Let's be kind and call it iPad 1.5

ThomH Silver badge


- amongst others, Spotify can continuously stream music; streaming and playing audio from the background is one of the specific types of multitasking Apple explicitly wanted to allow. A direct quote from their documentation: "Applications that play audio can include the UIBackgroundModes key (with the audio value) in their Info.plist file to register as a background-audio application. This key is intended for use by applications that provide audible content to the user while in the background, such as music player or streaming-audio applications. When this key is present, the system’s audio frameworks automatically prevent your application from being suspended when it moves to the background."

- "Any time before it is suspended, an application can call the beginBackgroundTaskWithExpirationHandler: method to ask the system for extra time to complete some long-running task in the background. If the request is granted, and if the application goes into the background while the task is in progress, the system lets the application run for an additional amount of time instead of suspending it." That's how a well-written browser can continue downloading files when in the background.

- there's an execution mode, designed with VoIP clients directly in mind, that allows a piece of software to connect itself to a socket and subsequently wake on demand. That's how a file store-type application could accept and transmit files without having to be kept in the foreground.

- I'm counting this as the same problem as the file stores on a technical level, though I appreciate it much better demonstrates how the alleged deficiency can directly a task that's an upfront promoted feature and a reason that non-technical people will possibly buy the device, whether rightly or wrongly.

So: yes, the request to continue arbitrary task processing may be denied. Yes, the best support is for event based tasks, and it's a simple fact that the number of permissible event hooks is small.

No, that doesn't mean that multitasking isn't supported, or that it isn't 'real' multitasking. Multiple tasks can run, simultaneously. That's multitasking. Your complaint, taking it at its strongest, is that Apple will sanction only certain types of multitasking, which cuts to issues of approval and control rather than technical software issues.

ThomH Silver badge


It would therefore appear you plugged in an average of five times a year, that being the iOS release average for the two years immediately following the release of the 3G. You couldn't perhaps be exaggerating, could you?

I'm not one to claim that Apple's kit "just works". But I do think the Mac is the only device that properly talks to the outside world in terms of file formats. The iPod, iPad and iPhone seem to be very iTunes dependent. Suffice to say, if you'd kept all your media in the formats Apple supports (which are all standards from other industry bodies, so not proprietary — they've just been selectively chosen), in iTunes, then the autosyncing is a great boon. It turns a common manual task into an automatic one and makes moving between devices immeasurably easier. However, that comes at the cost of, as you found, about a million hours more work if you've decided e.g. that WMV and OGG are the things for you.

There's not really an extra step because the assumption is that you're already using iTunes. So you already have your favourites in playlists.

So I'll say that it works very, very well if you stick to the rules. I won't say that it "just works".

ThomH Silver badge

@Tim Parker

The camera accessory kit includes an SD card reader. You can use it to transfer photographs directly onto the iPad without a computer in between. So it's not crazy to think they may use that route for importing video too, especially as they're seeming to want to pitch the device as something creatives can use out in the field.

ThomH Silver badge


You've obviously got broken software. Multitasking is extended to third party applications, in much the same way as it is in WebOS, which appears to have been the model.

While it's always possible to pick apart the specs, and find something to claim a distinction on, no objective definition of multitasking would exclude what third party software can do on the iPad.

Steve Jobs unveils iPad 2

ThomH Silver badge


The developer programme — giving access to the App Store, amongst other things — does indeed cost US$100/year and is a direct charge to the developer. So it's probably a safe assumption that they've collected US$1bn though that route, that being just 10,000,000 developer subscriptions worldwide.

I don't agree with you otherwise though. The user gives their money to Apple. Apple gives some money to developers. So it's definitely not the developers paying Apple per application in any legal sense. Apple handle hosting, payment processing and provide a limited amount of publicity. That's the traditional role of a shop, and claiming that developers are paying Apple because of the 30% cut is like saying that anybody with any product in any shop is paying that shop. So, even if true by the test you're applying, it doesn't sound like there's any grounds on which to single Apple out as doing something wrong.

ThomH Silver badge

Probably worth checking your maths on that one

If you want to phrase it that way around, it should read "App Store users have now paid around $857m to Apple".

Apple fanbois leak secrets of Mac OS X Lion

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@Dan Wilkinson

That would make sense. The mechanism I tend to use, which I think is a defacto standard, is to get the relevant screen that the window I want to go fullscreen from is on, create a frameless window of that size and position and promote it to frontmost. That should be multi-monitor aware but doesn't always create the nicest switching behaviour. Giving us a proper way of doing it is probably sensible, but it'll be a bit odd if that's an on-the-box sort of feature.

ThomH Silver badge


I took fullscreen apps to mean frameless, game style. Which obviously are already trivially easy to produce, but so is any possible interpretation of a fullscreen application.

Obviously you're right about the zoom button.

ThomH Silver badge

Trying to play devil's advocate...

Auto Save (at the OS level) + Versions (presumably) join together as an evolutionary advancement on Time Machine, further reducing the ability for people to lose work. Auto Save is a bit more interesting than the stuff provided since time immemorial by Word, etc, because it has an aspect of versioning to it and should become uniform across the OS (or, more probably, like the built in grammar and spell checker, the Keychain, etc, will just make it even more obvious which are the particularly shoddy Windows ports).

File Vault and Air Drop seem to be designed to expose what many people would consider latent functionality, even though your or I could easily achieve both things now, on any moderately recent major OS.

Bundling the server features into the mainstream OS arguably makes this more of a premier OS than previously.

I'm unable to come up with any reasons why full screen applications are being sold as something new or even a particularly good idea, or to support the other cosmetic changes as worth paying for.

Apple vanishes Java from Mac OS X Lion

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There are those that believe the LLVM/Clang push is part of an attempt to transition to a virtual machine (or, at least, to provide a path to one) without bundling it with a new language.

ThomH Silver badge

Quite the contrary

Microsoft's dedication to backwards compatibility costs them substantially in bloat, security and ongoing quality of code and seven years' backwards compatibility (albeit that I count only five in this case — the first Intel Macs, and hence the first Intel OS X, shipped in 2006) is about the Mac average.

In 1991, System 7 introduced the concept of being 32bit clean and made the MultiFinder non-optional, causing compatibility to be withdrawn for many older apps over the years immediately following. The mid-90s are awash with developed, heavily promoted and then nearly immediately dropped Apple technologies — see OpenDoc, Quickdraw GX, Rave, etc. Following which there's the transition into OS X, and now the final steps of the move away from PowerPC. And it's not just the emulator they get to drop, it's a whole bunch of legacy support stuff in the system libraries, since limiting to Intel binaries limits them to 10.4 behaviours.

Intel throws Thunderbolt

ThomH Silver badge

They could just turn it into a breakout box

USB PCIe cards cost, what, about £20? So — subject to licensing fees as yet unclear — you're basically talking about being able to do a USB hub that connects via Thunderbolt rather than USB for close enough to a normal USB hub that those who want one can buy.

I guess it'd be the same position Mac people who bought the original iMac found themselves in with respect to their ADB, serial and SCSI interface devices. Except without the forced hand.

Google threatens Chrome address bar with death

ThomH Silver badge

Good, except that

Some pages just stretch to the width of the screen rather than having a fixed width column of text, putting you in a very uncomfortable reading position. That's one of the reasons that standard paper sizes remain tall and thin and the main reason that newspapers use columns.

Apple 'greed' tax spreads beyond music, movies, magazines

ThomH Silver badge


It's not just that, it's the obligatory equal pricing, so you've no way to pass Apple's 30% on to the consumer. It's a cost that businesses must be able to swallow if they want to play inside Apple's ecosystem. They now have to exclude themselves from the biggest selling mobile OS (yes, I'm counting iPod Touches and I do know that Android phones outsell the iPhone) or find a way to supply 30% to Apple while still being competitive with those that have excluded themselves from iOS.

For someone like Netflix, Spotify, etc consider US$99/year to supply a free iOS app to their subscribers versus US$99/year + 30% of take from anyone that creates or renews their subscription inside the app, with no option but to add that functionality to the app. And it's for subscription services, so you're probably not getting additional revenue from the on-average more affluent iOS customers versus customers in general, and Apple's rules prohibit a different price for iOS customers.

Likely outcomes are (i) dump iOS; (ii) introduce a higher subscription rate for all mobile customers. And the latter just adds weight to any consideration of the former further down the line.

On the flip side there are people, like my own company, with no previous subscription infrastructure in place and aspirations. This is great news for us, but for the industry as a whole it's likely to turn iOS into amateur hour. So even we're seriously considering whether to do anything.

ThomH Silver badge

The backlash started in 2003

The difference is that Apple have now made it impossible for others to defend them convincingly. The new charge on subscription services means that the costs of being in the ecosystem now outweigh the benefits for many major companies that you've heard of.

If competition regulators are able to do anything here (which seems unlikely) then it could be the first time they've intervened effectively to save a company's business model.

Nokia: free phones for developers

ThomH Silver badge

Not quite the same though, is it?

Apple's transitions have all come along with forward paths and backward compatibility. For the shift from 68000 to PowerPC, a 68000 emulator was bundled (and, reputedly, used internally by much of the initial versions of the PowerPC OS) that allowed old applications to continue running. The APIs stayed much the same, so there was no discontinuity in development skills. If you wanted to target Macs, you continued with QuickDraw, etc.

The switch to OS X came with the idea of carbonised apps — limit yourself to a subset of the existing APIs and build correctly and your app works not just now on OS 9 but natively on OS X when it comes. And OS X had an ability to run OS 9 as an app to run older apps. Although Carbon was a concession Apple didn't seem happy about, it was a first class member of the software stack up until 10.5.

The PowerPC to Intel switch was like the PowerPC switch. An emulator for old apps, all APIs to remain the same.

Conversely, the switch from Symbian/MeeGo to Windows Phone <version number as yet undisclosed> is announced to be a complete discontinuity of APIs and software support. The old Nokia obviously thought that sort of thing was a bad idea, hence QT to ease from Symbian to MeeGo or wherever they might end up. With the Microsoft tie-up, even QT is out of the window, per Microsoft's decision not to allow unmanaged code. Per announcements so far, we're not even going to get an emulator for older Nokia apps as Palm supply (or supplied?) on WebOS.

I really think the main reason people are concerned about an OS being dead is that they can't take their software with them and, more than that, if the APIs are about to go then the developers vacate immediately.

You're completely right about free stuff though. Giving away free can mean either that people don't want a thing (ie, it isn't selling) or that they do want it (ie, it's a good inducement).

ThomH Silver badge

I suggest you check again

Compared to the minimum Windows Phone 7 specifications, the Nokia N8 has a significantly slower CPU built on an older generation of the ARM architecture. The Broadcom GPU it uses is also likely to be slower than the PowerVR parts found on most high end mobiles.

As a consumer, I don't care and probably can't even tell, but I thought it was worth saying anyway.

The Doctor Who Experience

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London is quite central...

... if you work it out as average commute time for actual, living people. There are almost eight times as many people living in London as in second place by population Birmingham and the transport links are excellent. You know, in relative terms, compared to the country as a whole.

I'm not sure that supports everything happening there though.

What sealed Nokia's fate?

ThomH Silver badge

@Ryan Clark

The Apple statement was comparative. Unlimited data for £35/month in 2007 (so, 30% less than you seem to think) was a good deal and the risks are compared to picking some other smartphone. Obviously that's more risk than subscribing to a magazine, less than buying a house. And the iPhone is on the same price plans as everyone else now.

Rhapsody bristles at Apple subscription grab

ThomH Silver badge

Things change

It's possible that all Apple want is to cream the 30% off whoever stays around for as long as they stay around, with more liberal terms to come when the market dictates them.

It's not really the same as the Apple/Microsoft shakedown. The Mac came to the market two years after Compaq had introduced the first complete IBM PC compatible and Microsoft had been trying to sell DOS as the platform before that, trying to create an 8086 market that didn't otherwise rest on IBM compatibility — like the CPM world before it. So Apple were already aware that proprietary systems were starting to lose.

They were very close to Microsoft in those days and licensed a lot of their GUI technology to Microsoft in return for software support. An error in the contract gave Microsoft the right to use the licensed bits in perpetuity rather than simply for Windows 1.0. So they lost the desktop not because they wanted to own the entire platform but because they were too trusting of third parties and were out manoeuvred, legally and on price (and technology, during the 90s, once the collapse phase began).

Samsung readies Android-based iPod Touch killer

ThomH Silver badge

The Sony push will help

The Playstation phone is Android based, with Playstation games to be sold via the Google Marketplace. That should do wonders.

ThomH Silver badge

That's not the way most people see it

Their machines are already bloated monstrosities because their manufacturer helpfully included McAffee, etc. So the main experience of iTunes is that when they plug the device in, it just sorts itself out. No need to do anything manual whatsoever. Easy.

Nevertheless, a version that didn't seem primarily built of treacle is something Apple really should invest in.

iPhone 5 rumors: bigger, smaller, cloudy, keyboard-equipped

ThomH Silver badge

Two significant areas without Edge or 3G...

Aeroplanes and subterranean railways. No tube trip is complete without seeing somebody listening to music or playing a game on an iPhone. It's difficult to believe Apple is happy to cut off those customers.

A 4gb budget device I could possibly believe, 0gb I don't.

Apple cripples iBooks for jailbreakers

ThomH Silver badge

I don't see how you reach that conclusion

Find me someone who had even noticed that iBooks is available. They've probably been barring jailbreakers since day one, it's just that nobody noticed yet.

iBooks and iAds are to Apple as phones and tablets are to Microsoft: evidence of fallibility.

Boffins demand: Cull bogus A-Levels, hire brainier teachers

ThomH Silver badge


I took A-Levels a bit more than a decade ago and even then the advice was to take General Studies just because in the final year the exam was before half term whereas pretty much every other exam was after half term. So it was used as a sharp shock to the student body. There were no formal lessons and the advocated preparation was "to read the newspaper". My university at least explicitly wouldn't accept it to count towards an offer.

That all being said, isn't the c.2000 division into AS and A2 meant to address the problem of people picking the wrong three? The average student takes five AS levels in their first year and whittles them down to three to study to A2 level in the second. So, especially for people like me that went to a separate college, you get a chance to experiment with interesting topics and then hopefully some decent advice and a rethink shortly before UCAS kicks off. That has a January deadline, so tends to become prominent at the start of the second year.

BlackBerry OS 6 – Red Star Rising

ThomH Silver badge

Not quite right on Safari

Just the pedant in me needing to shout up; it doesn't affect the tone of the article or the conclusions generally. Web pages in secondary tabs remain active in Mobile Safari unless and until the system starts to run out of RAM. Then they're purged, with only the little screen shot left to help you navigate from one tab to another. So it's just a way of attempting to do more with less, and is why you very often see tabs having to reload on the iPad (a small amount of RAM compared to the speed and storage required for native resolution graphics) but much less often on the iPhone (with more RAM and fewer pixels).

I guess the correct comparison would be: what does the BlackBerry do when memory starts to run low? But you shouldn't really be able to find out in normal usage, assuming they've put a decent amount in.

Google open video codec faces second challenger

ThomH Silver badge

Any thoughts on the other 27 patent holders in MPEG LA?

I guess at least Samsung are okay by you, being Android licensees. But what about those innovation sucking whores at Columbia University?

Adobe Flash: 20m phones flip Steve Jobs the bird

ThomH Silver badge


You're thinking of nerds. Normal people pick phones based on a combination of their features, handset cost and available price plans. The vast majority of the phone market don't read technical publications like this and don't care in the slightest who the manufacturer isn't.

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