* Posts by ThomH

2518 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

UK needs comp sci grads, so why isn't it hiring them?

ThomH Silver badge

Re: uk recruiters

I think the 2008 recession ended in 2009, but then double dipped in 2011, which is when unemployment peaked. The country has had positive growth since 2013 and continuously declining unemployment figures since 2011. But possibly we're involved in a practical example of the difference between the formal technical definition of a recession and the average economic wellbeing, rendering the issue moot?

I'm also aware that:

* the pound has dropped substantially versus the dollar during the uncertainty about Brexit; and

* several large companies have sworn they'll leave the UK if the UK leaves the EU.

I therefore believe that if we left the UK then:

* the uncertainty would increase — who are we going to be able to agree new trade deals with, what will they say and when? — and therefore the pound would likely drop further; and

* at least some of those companies probably mean it.

Therefore I stand by my assessment that a Brexit would lead to a[nother] painful recession.

I'd have dared imagined that the split was:

* Leavers: the pain would be a temporary market reaction that would last only until Britain had re-established its links with the world, at which point it could become stronger because all applicable regulations and decisions would consider the needs of the UK only; versus

* Remainers: the pain would be part of a market correction that revalued the UK according to its worth if not part of a larger trade bloc; the UK would subsequently remain weakened because it would not be a member of any group with the soft power and negotiating weight to get good deals for it. Furthermore, 50% of trade is with the EU and the EU would likely seek to punish the UK for its departure as a symbolic gesture, therefore ties to the mainland would be negatively affected for at least a generation.

... not so much that anybody really thinks that leaving wouldn't cause at least immediate pain.

ThomH Silver badge

The opposite happened for me

The global financial crisis so strongly affected what I was otherwise doing that I switched back into technology — software engineering, specifically — by necessity and by virtue of a computer science degree then five years old. It was one of the mainly theoretical ones though, which helped, and I segued via a few months of self publication, giving myself time to brush up on the latest specifics.

So the degree gave me the knowledge and aptitude to adopt the career, even several years after the fact.

ThomH Silver badge

Re: uk recruiters

... on account of the deep, long recession that would inevitably follow?

Radiohead vid prompts Trumpton rumpus

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Re: Videos coming up next

I was looking for a Mysteron and then I found a Mysteron, and heaven knows I'm miserable now.

Kill Flash now? Chrome may be about to do just that

ThomH Silver badge

It could be, but with at least three different popular implementations, and with features agreed by the slow churn of a standards body rather than the late-night scribble of a product manager onto a napkin, problems should be more localised and more often foreseen.

You know, hopefully.

Adobe...sigh...issues critical patch...sigh...for Flash Player zero day

ThomH Silver badge

Hulu, I guess. Except that it's built right in to my TV, and is available for every streaming stick and box. So I don't really need the web site. But it is nevertheless a popular website under active development that seems still to be sticking with the olden days.

Apple needs silver bullet to slay App Store's escaped undead – study

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Re: Who did that? I see you at the back, Jones Minor...

It'd be nice if there were an intermediate option of running in a much stricter sandbox than normally allowed too, such as being permitted to remove network access permission from an app if it is no longer available. I can imagine the policy reasons for not offering that control generally — how many ad-supported games would be affected? — but if the app is withdrawn then the user should get a bump in control.

ZX Printer's American cousin still in use, 34 years after purchase

ThomH Silver badge

Re: I have a Mac at home that's a few years old

I considered a joke about the Mac Pro being a tube processor but decided against it; it'd just be a distraction from finally figuring out how on earth to tackle Repton 2.

Intel has driven a dagger through Microsoft's mobile strategy

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Logic & Gui

The Mac Office 2008, the first after Apple switched processors, shipped without support for VBA macros because the Mac version of that code was too PowerPC dependent; support wasn't reinstated until the next release, Office 2011. So in that case Microsoft had cleverly written two different versions of its interpreter and managed to tie each so closely to the CPU+OS combination that, even with two years' warning, it couldn't either change the CPU target for the one implementation or the OS target for the other.

So it's evidently not as simple as flipping a switch for Microsoft; I'd dare imagine they're not alone.

Microsoft's Windows 10 nagware storms live TV weather forecast

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Do what I've done

Researched; iOS 9 nags you to update to newer iOS 9s a lot more than pre-9 nags. That's probably the reason for the disparity in anecdotes.

That being said, "Apple are far worse for this kind of crap" is still patently false. Microsoft has sent the update as automatically approved, has promoted it from 'optional' to 'recommended' within its update classification system, offered prompts with only 'upgrade now' or 'upgrade later' as options, and has started prompting users whose administrators have used the official Microsoft tools to prevent that. And unlike iOS, Windows offers no official way to delete the update once it has been silently downloaded.

Hits for '"ios 9" nag': 77,200. Hits for '"windows 10" nag': 148,000.

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Do what I've done

My iOS 8-running iPad seems to have the red dot permanently. That's the full extent of Apple's expression of its feelings as to whether I should update. It's really grasping to claim that the Windows 10 update prompts aren't the most obnoxious in the business, even if inexplicably dragging Apple into things is usually a winning strategy.

Intel helps Redmond ingest Objective-C code

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Why does Microsoft want this?

I think, officially, it's so that iOS apps can more easily be ported to Windows Phone and to mainline Windows. So frameworks like this are reproduced identically as they're just processing things, intended to allow work to get done. However Microsoft intends to provide distinct UI libraries that merely conform to an iOS coder's expectations on patterns and idioms. So you still end up writing a native Windows application, you just do it in a language and using a language binding that was not previously supported and which more easily facilitates conversion. You definitely don't just hit build and get some pretend-iOS sandbox that kind of connects to the Microsoft equivalents of some things in some places to some extent.

ThomH Silver badge

Accelerate is a C framework

It's what one depends upon to write new SIMD-instruction utilising code for a variety of more-complicated-than-mere-intrinsics tasks under iOS and OS X but it is, most definitely, a C framework, directly callable from your C, C++, Objective-C and Swift code.

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

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Action Replay? You had it good! @Crisp

Maybe a Multiface would have been an easier option?

Adobe scrambles to untangle itself from QuickTime after Apple throws it over a cliff

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Farewell then, Carbon

Per the repeated story that QuickTime for Windows branched off a sanitised version of the Classic OS APIs that was backported to create Carbon for the OS X transition and was the central thing that caused QuickTime X to be a compatibility-breaking rewrite (which quite possibly still doesn't have a codec plug-in API?), I guess this is goodbye. And Win32 becomes the new Father of the House?

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Chuckle ...

I guess you reap what you sow?

I can't decide whether QuickTime for Windows is worse than Flash for OS X was, both being fairly awful.

Woz says wearables – even Apple Watch – aren't 'compelling'

ThomH Silver badge

Re: yet to see a woman wearing one.

I wear a health band, this specific one's main contribution over everything my phone does already being continuous heart rate monitoring. Oh, and having the time on my wrist, obviously. Which is relevant to the lifestyle I aspire to; I'm sure a more psychologically robust person wouldn't be interested. But, regardless, the basic test is: what do I gain from having one that I would not otherwise have? Avoiding having to reach all the way into my pocket for my phone is not sufficient.

(EDITed addition: the Apple Watch isn't especially close to continuously monitoring, it samples every ten minutes; judged according to the things it does that my phone does not already, battery life is far too poor and it's far too expensive)

Google yanks Chrome support for Windows XP, at long last

ThomH Silver badge

Re: IE must die

An Edge fan?

iPhone SE already on back-order

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Shortage of new product

Or it's because the cost of matching the production curve to the demand curve would be greater than the cost of a shortage. Even more so if you think that a shortage generates sales rather than restricting them, but possible regardless.

Ramping production up and down is expensive. Apple products tend to launch big but then remain available for at least a year as the only thing in that market segment. Both of which are atypical.

Other devices don't tend to do the same blockbuster opening weeks because they have more similar competition and, usually, get supplanted more quickly — other companies, including those that sell many more devices overall, offer more choice and launch products more frequently.

Now you can tailor Swift – on Ubuntu

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Where's debs?

It's on GitHub. For Swift Apple seems to be using the public repository for the mainline development branch. It's not a case of developing somewhere else and then publishing.

ThomH Silver badge

No, they used let to mean val; it's not a modifier and it means only one thing. const is a modifier and means any of (at least, without being an expert): immutable value, don't copy this onto the stack or this method always returns the same thing. Though it's at least more coherent than the manifold meanings of static.

Hands on with the BBC's Micro:Bit computer. You know, for kids

ThomH Silver badge

Re: The same memory as the BBC Micro Model A of 15 years ago...

Pedantry attack!

Peter Ford: the lower half is Mode 5. Mode 6 is Mode 4 with the two blank lines between every character column; Mode 5 was 2bpp, 160 pixels across. Mode 6 is, like 4, 1bpp and 320 pixels across but only 25 8-line character rows high, spread over 250 display lines.

With no VIA and the mid-frame real-time clock interrupt not being conveniently placed, the Electron version of Elite is just Mode 4 for the entire display.

After Elite, I'll have Starship Command, please.

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Who wrote this rubbish?

Obviously the author buys into the idea that the 6502's zero page was a RISC-style load/store architecture large register bank before anybody had thought to name it. You know, if you sort of forget about the other half-dozen addressing modes...

Dead Steve Jobs is still a crook – and Apple must cough up $450m for over-pricing ebooks

ThomH Silver badge

Re: hubris

My understanding is that, discovering that the book publishers were unhappy with being unable to control Amazon's pricing, Apple spoke to all at once — effectively mediating a group discussion — so as to propose the agency model (i.e. publishers set the price, Apple just takes its 30%), and that all the publishers then simultaneously demanded the agency model from Amazon. Since they wanted to switch to the agency model in order to increase prices, Apple had facilitated a group with a monopoly over the market to try to manipulate pricing in their favour.

All of which Apple appears to accept, except they say that they did it for the benefit of the market — that grabbing some power back from Amazon reduces the main monopoly seller, rather than artificially empowering the monopoly producers.

As a consumer, I'd rate that as hubris indeed. Supposedly competing parties acted together. So as to increase prices. How askew would the world need to be for that not to be a breach of anti-trust law?

IBM proves love for Swift, releases Kitura web server framework for Linux

ThomH Silver badge

It's a nice enough language if you don't mind the memory management

Less of a syntactic load than C++'s explicit unique/shared/weak pointers but no smarter when it comes to potential cycles (i.e. a garbage collecting language like Java is still safer), quite neatly handles optional reflection, as of 2.0 finally in the modern world on exceptions, and at least aiming towards a modern take on closures.

A lot of the standard libraries are still a hassle though, doing nothing to hide the Objective-C bridge. All the Swift-native collections and atomics are value types; anything returned by a really-Objective-C library that doesn't bridge to one of those collections will necessarily be a reference type. Even if it would make a lot more sense as a value type. So the semantics aren't always lovely. Also it bridges directly to C and to Objective-C but not to C++ so interfacing with C++ is a hassle of manual Objective-C++ work.

It sounds like IBM is mainly just thinking about helping the iOS/Mac developers who were likely to use Swift anyway though, so I don't suppose these considerations are relevant.

Bill Gates denies iPhone crack demand would set precedent

ThomH Silver badge

That plus the precedent it would set — the government doesn't need a master key if it can take each individual phone to its OS vendor and compel them to create and install an appropriately version-matched copy, modified as desired. It's one now; next year it'll be a handful; the year after that a couple of dozen...

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Apple has access to the information, they are just refusing access..

Radiation's a bad example because it definitely will become a public health risk if generated with abandon, the tools to monitor it are widely commercially available and any laws that require radiation monitoring are debated and agreed by elected representatives and either phased in for existing operators or known in advance to newcomers.

In this case we're talking about the work phone of a person that physically destroyed their personal phone and computer, that the FBI already has the iCloud backups of, and a request that Apple be compelled to engineer a new product.

So a lot of us are arguing that there's a negligible probability that there will be something on the work phone that the criminal decided not to destroy, that's helpful, but which isn't considered a sufficiently important category of data for the OS automatically to back up; and that in any case a court should not be able to compel the creation of a new product using the current legislation.

ThomH Silver badge

Re: keylogger

Microsoft itself says "When you interact with your Windows device by speaking, writing (handwriting), or typing, Microsoft collects speech, inking, and typing information—including information about your Calendar and People (also known as contacts) [...] We also collect your typed and handwritten words [...] Some of this data is stored on your device and some is sent to Microsoft [...] You can turn the Send Microsoft info about how I write setting on or off in Settings.".

So that's fairly unambiguous. Microsoft does collect things including "your typed ... words" and "Some of this data ... is sent to Microsoft". But not all of it and you can opt out. I'd be uneasy, I think a lot of people wouldn't care.

Sir Clive Sinclair in tech tin-rattle triumph

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Anyone remember the Atari Lynx?

The 6502 in an Atari Lynx is a 65SC02 and, being clocked at 4Mhz, is probably roughly twice as fast the Z80 in the Spectrum. But it doesn't need to be because the unlike pre-+2A Spectrums the Lynx has a double buffer, and unlike all of its contemporaries it has a scaling hardware blitter with some basic vector drawing capabilities and a maths coprocessor for multiply and divide. It has to surrender the bus for the former but can run in parallel with the latter.

These are some of the benefits a machine can accrue by being launched seven years later.

But the Spectrum games are better.

Khronos releases Vulkan 1.0 open graphics specification

ThomH Silver badge

I think the opposite is more likely; Apple created and gave OpenCL to Khronos back in 2009 so probably still has a good relationship with them, and has its high-level SceneKit and SpriteKit as proprietary APIs up where most developers now hang out.

I think the only market advantage Apple derives from Metal is that cross-platform fare sitting atop Unreal or Unity or whatever runs better on its hardware than on a hypothetical clock-for-clock equivalent alternative.

If Vulkan offers the same advantages of Metal then I would expect Apple to adopt the two as equals (hedging against Vulkan falling behind, naturally).

Fleet of 4.77MHz LCD laptops with 8088 CPUs still alive after 30 years

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Old portable kit ...

All the benefits in productivity afforded by kilo-or-so computers with large, high-quality displays, plentiful storage and trivial networking have been eaten by email, Facebook and Wikipedia.

Why the Sun is setting on the Boeing 747

ThomH Silver badge

The Virgin 747s running from San Francisco to Heathrow still have 15 or 20 economy seats upstairs; it's well-worth getting one if you can. Quite apart from being quieter, window seats get a little shelf and, of course, you walk straight down to the exit, allowing you to get into the border control queue a couple of hundred people earlier than you otherwise might have done.

Sainsbury's Bank web pages stuck on crappy 20th century crypto

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Prosecution required.

Negligence = duty + beach + damage. Someone can sue as soon as they suffer damage. Which, even with the probable quality-of-lawyer differential, is still better protection than '90s-era HTTPS.

Server retired after 18 years and ten months – beat that, readers!

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Re: Hmm 1997!

That's £2,180.34 in today's money to save everybody else the effort.

BBC risks wrath of android rights activists with Robot Wars reboot

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Re: Who is presenting? @AC

The second rule of Robot Club is... no smoking?

Bah humbug. It's Andrew's Phones of the Year

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

I'm more interested in the return of the trackball (or equivalent), which I last saw on a Nexus One. I find that typing on a screen is a much smaller problem than trying to position the cursor. It's almost always just easier to delete and retype than to try to edit when performing basic phone tasks like messaging. I seem to be better on iOS than Android but that's probably only subjective practice.

HMRC aims for fully digital tax system by 2020. Yeah, whatever

ThomH Silver badge

The current rules prohibit non-doms from filing electronically

... because obviously if you live overseas then, ummm, the Internet doesn't work the same. Or something. I'll bet thousands just ignore the rule; if they could eliminate it entirely then that'd be progress. Therefore I'm selfishly all for a digital-only HMRC, as soon as possible.

Adobe's Flash tools now embrace HTML 5. Sadly Flash is still alive

ThomH Silver badge

@boltar Re: Change the record

I think it's more the case that: (i) Flash massively overreached on features, going a long way beyond animation and video, and managed only relatively poor hardware acceleration, especially away from Windows; and (ii) such exploits in HTML5 delivery code as will be found will likely be limited to specific combinations of browser and OS. So they'll be smaller in scope and therefore easier to avoid.

Its death is also appealing because it eliminates redundancy — why should my browser have two separate scripting engines, one for JavaScript and one for a weird proprietary off-shoot of JavaScript? — and given that all the major OS vendors (Microsoft, Apple, Google) provide a browser, it puts the people who expose the available hardware acceleration and who debug the OS under the same umbrella as some of the people responsible for an implementation the web standards. We shouldn't again go through "Apple doesn't expose the hardware acceleration" "Yes we do, you don't use it" "That's because you expose it in a stupid fashion", etc, or "A third of reported crashes on the Mac are Flash" "Oh, well, Macs must be broken then". Which are both Apple examples but, you know, cuts to the point that a centralised, single-vendor implementation of an essential standard is undesirable in a world of diverse clients.

Doctor Who: Even the TARDIS key can't unpick the chronolock in Face the Raven

ThomH Silver badge

Re: What a corker!

There was a 'Next Week...' trailer; after there was also a very minor post-credits sequence that was just about tying up that episode. I don't think you're missing any important plot points — it was highly skippable — but if you want an excuse to skip back after next week then there it is.

Remember Windows 1.0? It's been 30 years (and you're officially old)

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Oh Lord I am old.....

The original 1985 LaserWriter had a 12Mhz 68000; every Mac available at its launch and for the next two years had an 8Mhz 68000. Having the separation of Postscript — usually mapped to QuickDraw on the then-two-colour Mac — is more or less what made the first generation of desktop publishing feasible. Your slower computer with the approximately real-time display could stick with bitmapped fonts, and the resolutions and colour depth were low enough versus available RAM that you could use binary masking for complicated shape things like path clipping. Your printer which was allowed to take a few seconds to produce the image of a page could do so with a much more rigorous approach.

... plus it was just a helpful way to 'multitask' back when none of the high volume consumer OSes were very good at it.

ThomH Silver badge

Re: WOW!

My take is that Apple's Classic OS probably peaked in 1991 with the introduction of System 7, not coincidentally approximately when Apple's many failed internal attempts to write a complete replacement began. They really missed a trick in moving to the PowerPC in not then writing something more modern and forcing 68000 apps into a sandbox, but I guess there's the list of things early-90s Apple could achieve with X developers in N years and the list of things it couldn't. Microsoft then leapt ahead until Apple was so far behind that it had to buy in a solution.

... but we can still thank the Apple of that period for Truetype fonts — not the idea so much, but the specific implementation and the help in market positioning. That Adobe Type 1 monopoly helped almost nobody.

Brussels paws Android map apps to see if they displace Euro rivals – report

ThomH Silver badge

Re: What about Apple?

On the contrary, they're alleging that their businesses suffered due to illegal competition from Google. The 'illegal' part being up for grabs.

In Apple's case, the business suffering part would be much harder to establish: in Europe Apple has only a 6% share in Spain, a 10% share in Italy and around 15% in France and Germany. Its 38% share in the UK hardly redresses the balance. Android's share is as high as 90% in Spain, through to more like 75% in France and Germany.

Putting aside that nobody is being sued, it's therefore a lot more sensible to look at whether Google is performing both of the things necessary to establish anti-competive behaviour — both distorting the market, and using an unfair advantage to do so — than it is to look at Apple.

Top FBI lawyer: You win, we've given up on encryption backdoors

ThomH Silver badge

Has anybody told Theresa May?

She still seems to be running on the old memo.

Ad networks promise to do something about the awful adverts you're all blocking, like, real soon

ThomH Silver badge

There is a genuine belief amongst advertisers that people love adverts that are sufficiently well-made; and that if the subject of an advert is something the person actually wants then they'll be grateful for having seen it. I'm not sure those claims are universally true.

Devs ask Microsoft for real .NET universal apps: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Terrible idea @Dan 55

It's a bit of a hassle that Android's C++ support puts you into the realm of the NDK though, especially as that's probably the most used consumer OS by volume. 64-bit ARM is evidence, if it were needed, that there's not the desire to retain binary backwards compatibility that characterised the desktop. Most (all?) of those CPUs can also run 32-bit code as a transitional move but Android is supposed to work independently of the instruction set so if it becomes possible to save some pennies by not doing that, it probably won't last for long.

ThomH Silver badge

Libraries like Qt make a lot of sense to us technical people but rarely produce especially native-looking applications. They're therefore a source of friction for users.

Qt specifically also produces developer hassle via its C++ language extensions, which are problematic for many of the more popular IDEs — they'll inhibit highlighting, indexing, etc.

So versus the alternative of writing it once per platform, Qt is often a better solution but not always.

After Burner: Sega’s jet-fighting, puke-inducing arcade marvel

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Rose tinted

Think yourself lucky, all we had was the "Totally Awesome!" Codemasters budget equivalent, Mig 29. Which my memory tells me was fun, but I daren't check.

Drunk driver live-streams her slow journey home

ThomH Silver badge

Re: I'll give you my steering wheel...

In true NRA fashion I think that the best way to limit drunk driving is to increase the level of drunkenness in total, so that if anyone sees a drunk driver they somehow think they should charge in and get involved.

BT to shoot 'up to 330Mbps' G.fast into 2,000 Gosforth homes

ThomH Silver badge

Re: Standard kneejerk response @AC

Rotherhithe Residents Call for Better Internet Speeds: "Never mind the ‘cyber highway’, Rotherhithe is stuck in the cyber slow-lane, after a new study confirmed that it was home to some of the slowest broadband speeds in the capital. [...] As the News reported last June, there is a better broadband connection on the moon than in Rotherhithe"

Apple borks Apple News ad-blocking app due to 'privacy concerns'

ThomH Silver badge

Apple explicitly allows apps to provide root certificates. That's the mechanism this app was taking advantage of. The OS segues to an OS-provided set of dialogues requiring the user explicitly to confirm the installation. There's nothing surreptitious, no silent or drive-by install. Which puts Apple on the other side of the debate about what informed users should be allowed to do than it usually sits but no doubt is required by some big corporate user somewhere.

For this app it sounds like they offer a VPN that fishes through everything you request in order to remove advertising. The certificate is then necessary explicitly so that they can be the man-in-the-middle for HTTPS traffic like Google and Facebook.

I think it's not something I'd want on my phone but it sounds like a third party is being punished for Apple's attempts to support business while providing its own brand of consumer protection?

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