* Posts by Andy 73

205 posts • joined 9 Jul 2009

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Drone company fails to take off, tells pre-orderers: You can have your $34m back

Andy 73

Re: And that ..

The point is that at the time it was launched, it wasn't a me too product. It was very innovative.

They took so long to get it to market that the rest of the industry caught up with all of the practical bits, leaving only the impossible features for them to implement. So it took even longer to get to market whilst they figured out that the reason no-one else was doing that stuff was because it was very, very hard.

So they ended up with a me too product, late to market. But that's not where they started.

The issue here is that innovation is hard, and the competition is fierce. That's not at all the same as the dot com boom, which majored on things with imaginary profits. We know drones are profitable - they turned DJI into a billion dollar company in very short time. The challenge is replicating that fierce pace of innovation.

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Drones will be able to carry 120GB footage of you in the shower if Seagate has its way

Andy 73

Not much news..

..nothing much being said there. Drone that uses memory sticks will use memory sticks.

And out of the woodwork come the "oh no, drones!" crowd who seem to forget that everything from Country File through to the latest Tom Cruise film uses drones. The BBC has its own department developing in house technology, and police, fire and ambulance services use them for scene of accident, search and rescue and safety monitoring. Ignoring those, the wildlife photographers, travel writers, and people who just want a cool selfie have every right to take the benefit of new technology.

It's remarkable that a technology site famous for ridiculing the "think of the children" line still has readers who take the approach that any new technology that might be used by 'bad people' should be regulated, banned then regulated some more. I guess because they personally don't have one means they can't imagine why anyone else should? Good job we all have mobile phones, laptops and fnarking duct tape already, or we'd have to ban them too.

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Landmark EU ruling: Legality of UK's Investigatory Powers Act challenged

Andy 73

Re: Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

"If we get bad results due to removing the safeguards, it's the fault of the things the safeguards protected us from?"

Um, no. This legislation should never had reached the safeguards in the first place. We shouldn't rely on some magic third party to save us, because (whatever your political beliefs) sometimes it won't.

I'm not blaming the safeguards, just observing that the opposition has been raised by a cross-party group that is very much in the minority when it comes to mainstream UK political attitudes to these things. I'm also observing that those who are keen to make a link to brexit are missing the point (just as you are) that this is first and foremost a screw up of our own making.

If you want to link this to Brexit, then perhaps you should be asking the more constructive question of what this country is going to do to ensure safeguards are in place when we can no-longer hope the EU will save us? It's the same question as why there weren't sufficient safeguards in our current political line up to leave opposition to two 'maverick' MPs.

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Andy 73

Nothing to do with brexit/remaining

... much more to do with the lack of political will to fight this. Both Labour and Conservative have majority factions who believe that more information equals safer citizens. Both parties put significant store by the large corporate groups who lobby to encourage such beliefs. Those innocent and largely technically naive MPs who get elected get told by these groups that "trust us, it's for the best". So rather than prattling on about the EU, we should be asking why there is not serious opposition to this from within the UK?

I have a small collection of letters from MPs who, when questioned about these matters tell me that they have 'expert advice' that strangely contradicts my decades of direct experience in IT. I'm not the one who delivers projects 200% over budget and years behind schedule, with a long list of unintended consequences.

As it is, I suspect that the only reason the EU has put a helpful spanner in the works is that it is too fractured to have agreed its own charter on such matters. Remember, it took 18 years for them to get to grips with mobile phones. It's great that internal negotiations delay some legislation, but it's also the case that once such legislation is agreed upon, it is very much set in stone. No amount of local opposition will change things then.

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Amazon's first live drone delivery flew last week in Cambridge, UK

Andy 73

It might just fly

I've just realised that urban deliveries are probably not the target for this. The Amazon van man can drive past a dozen customers in half a mile of city driving, cheap as chips delivery. In rural areas, he's got a twenty minute drive to get to a single customer, then possibly the same again to get to the next. Pack in a few drones with a decent radius of operation and suddenly the single slow and expensive delivery man can be replaced and deliveries run in parallel.

Of course it helps that around here where Amazon are testing, the landscape couldn't get much flatter.

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If you bought a dildo in Denver, the government must legally be told

Andy 73

Re: Remarkable

I don't know, have you tried selling anything 'digital' in Europe lately? No minimum threshold for handling cross-border VAT and reporting makes for lots of fun.

It's almost like they only want us to buy through Amazon.

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Andy 73

Remarkable

Remarkably, it was probably easier to sell stuff to people in the 70s than it is now. Ok, so all the consumer has to do is press a few buttons and try not to forget their password. But as a would-be entrepreneur, the moment you go near the internet, you have a world of pain - the list of people you have to get permission from, report to and pay a cut to gets longer and longer and longer.

My next product will be only available to people who send postal orders to my home address, which won't be listed on the internet.

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HBO slaps takedown demand on 13-year-old girl's painting because it used 'Winter is coming'

Andy 73

I've had a call

I was woken up at 3am by a call that turned out to be an American lawyer who was concerned that I had used one of their product names in the name of a tool I had written for their product (it made sense at the time). It had not actually occurred to them that I might not live in the US (despite ringing an international dialling code), nor that they could have simply asked instead of going in with full legal threats. It's the latter that brings a chill to the feelings towards heavy handed companies.. almost like winter is coming.

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Huawei Nova: A pleasant surprise in a 5-inch phone

Andy 73

So are you saying

"Me being one of them, just having ditched my iPhone 7."

..that even when they switch phones, iphone owners remain snarky and self-important? ;)

(joking of course, some of my best friends have iPhones)

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Not fake news: Facebook reinvents SVG

Andy 73

Only if you don't need to view it..

It's great there's another specification out there, but if it's not currently supported on IE, and doesn't even have Android and iOS implementations on the distant horizon, are you really surprised that a company with a lot of engineering talent should choose a different approach?

It's no good "It'll be great in a few years time when everyone adopts it" if it's needed now.

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Why I just bought a MacBook Air instead of the new Pro

Andy 73

Another option...

The MacBook Pro finally converted me to Apple (if only for the dev stuff - still avoiding the consumer lock in). But after a little over one generation, I'm out again..

I've just discovered the Razr line of laptops, that seem to be taking up the design chops of Apple without the idiotic corporate lock in. As a developer, having bash is vital, so the recent moves by Microsoft may make me return to the fold.

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UK.gov has 18,000 IT contractors on its books due to dearth of skills

Andy 73

No political will

Unfortunately no current major political party is independent minded enough to think differently from those terribly kind corporate 'experts' who tell them that small, experienced, highly mobile businesses are just not suited to government work. No, it's far better to give the work to the big boys who deliver so reliably and never over charge.

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Google makes it to third base with Home digital assistant

Andy 73

Hmmm..

OK Google, tell Alexa that I'm not talking to her.

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Google knifes Eclipse Android Developer Tools

Andy 73

Re: Android Studio

iOS has 10% market share? That'll be the 10% that actually spends money then.

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Run a JSON file through multiple parsers and you'll get different results every time

Andy 73

Re: not parse JSON documents that I hadn't created myself

Indeed, it's true if you have a public website that uses public endpoints that have to handle JSON, you have to guard against invalid inputs. The same would apply to any data format. Note that the Java libraries all passed the testing outlined here without causing crashes, or incorrectly parsing valid inputs.

The point being that none of this is a reason to jump to some heavyweight and overblown interchange format 'because proper'.

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Andy 73

Re: Welcome to the Internet

As a coder who long ago stopped being 'young' (though I am still hot thank you very much), I'm wary of those developers who bang on about Doing the Job Properly, when it translates to picking up an overblown spec and spending three months implementing it to the letter just to store trivial data. They're the same guys who foisted XML on us and who drive us to use obscure libraries because the 'proper' solution is only used by a handful of people. Some would consider this to be an offshoot of MDD.

As it is, I note that of the Java JSON libraries, which are mature and well supported, the worst crime is a failure to parse, caused by deliberately badly formed documents. On the whole I would not plan to use JSON to read any document that I hadn't created myself, and try to avoid exposing end users to such things.

JSON was a reaction to the heavyweight formats that flourished in the 90's and useful in exactly the situations that they were not. Perhaps the older coders can remember that too?

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Swedes ban camera spy-drones for anything but crime fighting

Andy 73

Re: Muppets

"Let me put you straight on something: I do not have to defend why I want privacy, you have to explain why you want to breach the privacy of me and my family. Trust me, "I have a drone so I'm entitled to" doesn't cut it."

I'm not asking you to defend your privacy, I'm suggesting you should be more realistic about how private an open window is, and a little less hysterical about the particular technology that is pushing those boundaries.

In this case, the law should address invasion of privacy - regardless of the technology used - rather than banning a particular technology just because it might be misused. If we applied your logic to cars or hammers we could conclude that both should be banned because they happen to be rather good at killing people. "I have a car so I'm entitled to" seems an odd way to justify the thousands of deaths on the road each year doesn't it?

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Andy 73

Re: Muppets

"Drones were being used to scope out people's houses and flats and the footage might have been recorded. If that's not a change in the limit of privacy, what is?"

So if the thieves had stood a little further back and used a zoom lens from the ground it's somehow different? The point is there are laws about breaking and entering, and scoping out properties for the same. The fact that you've used a drone doesn't change things.

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Andy 73

As ever...

.. the law is behind the march of technology... and makes some very dubious decisions attempting to catch up.

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Andy 73

Re: Muppets

Um... what?

"Drones are the new tool of the voyeur, PI and blackmailer. It does not discrimianate."

Have you heard how loud a drone is?

If your business is private, do it behind closed doors. This unthinking paranoia that 'my privacy is being invaded' is ridiculous. No it isn't, and on the whole anything you choose to do that could be seen by a passing pedestrian shouldn't jealously be guarded as some private act. Drones don't dramatically change the limits of your privacy - except in the rare cases where you've built 40 foot high fences and live in a mansion miles from anywhere. In which case there are normal privacy rules about where cameras can legally be taken.

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Drone idiots are still endangering real aircraft and breaking the rules

Andy 73

Re: Deliberate action

It's the Bond Villain Fallacy - the idea that 'baddies' spend ages thinking through some complex way to achieve their evil aims. In practice, the number of truly psychopathic smart people is incredibly small, and even they recognise that simple works best. The vast majority of criminal action is opportunistic and simple. You want that guys' phone? You hit him over the head and take it, rather than creating an incredibly realistic duplicate out of dried sausage meat and switching it with his real phone whilst he's distracted by a passing Miss World carnival float.

As it is, getting one drone to do what you want isn't always easy, and by the time you've spent enough money to have a few of them, you'll realise there are better hobbies and easier ways to become an evil super villain.

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Andy 73

Say it again

The standard 'off the shelf' consumer drones usually rely on higher frequency transmitters with limited range - due to a need to send video back to the operator. Whilst you can buy custom R/C gear that travels further, if you're flying a drone bought off the shelf, your limit is usually around 2-4,000 feet (up to about a mile). Battery limitations kick in if you're trying to ascend or travel long distances. You *can* buy aerials to improve range, but you have to be pretty committed to get it all working reliably.

If you want to annoy aircraft, you can buy the kit to do so, but you're better off making a balloon with a payload (hello, Register).

Funnily enough, before there were drones, aircraft pilots commonly reported UFOs. In at least a few cases, I suspect they see what they expect to see.

I can understand the 'lets ban them before someone gets hurt' argument - but have to point out that

a) The people flying irresponsibly with custom kit will still do so

b) It's actually pretty hard to hit something up there

c) Planes are tested for major air strikes

d) We don't seem to apply the same logic to autonomous cars and other technologies, or even the idea of Amazon carrying 1 kilo parcels a few hundred feet above public property and people.

e) Drones are being used responsibly in a whole range of new areas, and the technology is changing incredibly quickly. Heavy handed regulation at this point will stifle many emerging uses.

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Andy 73

People are ignoring the rules! What we need is... more rules!

Just as America is loosening drone regulation to allow genuine innovation to happen in this space, Europe is planning to tighten the rules to squeeze out all but the biggest commercial interests (*cough* Amazon *cough*).

The idiot incidents will not be affected by more paperwork (to get to 9000ft, you don't read the 'don't fly above 400ft' instructions for a start). However, the small commercial interest and genuine hobbyist user will be magically washed away.

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Down and out in the Middle Kingdom: Beijing is sinking

Andy 73

Not news

I know one of the guys who was responsible for building the Bangkok underground - where modern subterranean construction takes place, it's normal to allow for movement to occur, even if it means that after a while you have steps down from an underground station exit.

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Sneaky brown dwarf gives us a bright flash and astroboffins are confused

Andy 73

Slowly, the almost-sun..

..tapped out it's morse code message...

I

AM

ALIVE

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Brexit? Cutting the old-school ties would do more for Brit tech world

Andy 73

Politics

TLDR: You're leaving the UK because it's not left wing enough?

Oh, and you're still blaming us for our great great grandparent's colonialism.

Sorry.

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Adobe launches Spark: Amateur graphical fun!

Andy 73

Re: Spark

And not to be confused with Apache Spark either..

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Siri's maker finally unveils dev-tastic universal AI interface Viv

Andy 73

Ah, I love the smell of patents in the morning!

Colour me cynical (it's my favourite colour, after British summertime pink and grumpy bastard grey), but haven't we had software that converts a general query into an series of execution steps for a while now? Only this morning I ran a Hive query on a Hadoop cluster that took a general query and a set of metadata describing the domain and deployed and ran a long (oh Lord, it was long) series of software components across a cluster in order to give an answer back.

On the plus side, a developer who does a live speech recognition demo asking for tulips for his mother deserves either kudos or a wide berth.

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Hey, YouTube: Pay your 'workers' properly and get with the times

Andy 73

Re: The good times are over

@A Ghost

I really think the problem here is that the 'new technology' has introduced a generation gap that actually separates the young guns from the guys who know what they're doing. The result is that the new kids don't have anyone they're brushing up against that challenges what they do, that shows them 'better'. For a moment, just managing to produce a half decent 'tube video from your back bedroom is enough (seriously, search 'how to vlog').

I don't believe youtube has to die (but "do no evil" Google really should stop pissing in people's cornflakes). What I'd like to see happen is that the not so new medium starts to mature and people move beyond good enough and go back to trying to out do each other, learning from each other and building on what's gone before. The audience is certainly beginning to mature, and as tastes change, so will the content. I'm not sure we've experienced such a globally synchronising event since the early days of pop.

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Andy 73

Re: The good times are over

Ah yes, we demand free, because *some spurious reason* and we're too thick to realise that free stuff is not necessarily the same quality as paid.

Oh yes, and the fact that some uniquely talented individuals got obscenely rich from being uniquely talented apparently offends us, so we're going to prevent anyone from accidentally being successful and rewarded for being uniquely talented.

And we'll point to a novelty act and pretend that they're an example of why people shouldn't get rewarded for dumb luck and a bit of self-promotion. Because it's clearly unfair if you have people with enough dumb luck to be famous.

Then we'll celebrate! The good times are over. Now we've destroyed the incentive for those rare talents to hone their art, develop and evolve. Because we've got cat videos and an infinite supply of unthreatening teenagers singing in their back bedrooms (with a touching back story), so clearly there's nothing ****ing wrong with this picture.

Bill Hicks would have a field day with the retards who think that just because 'the man' is no longer wearing a suit, they've somehow got one over on the world. Well done you, enjoy sitting in your puddle.

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Andy 73

Re: They're going to milk what they can squeeze.

The problem is that there is a near endless supply of artists starting out their careers and happy to vlog, hype and sell every last drop of their early experiences.

The argument is that we end up with an infinite supply of 'debut albums' (which feeds the Google machine and undemanding viewers), but then reality kicks in and those artists realise they need to get a proper job that actually pays.

The effect is subtle (and I believe felt in the software world too) - we don't get a reduction in quantity, but we don't get deeper, more sophisticated content. There are fewer 'second albums', more software remains in perpetual beta, all that potential for something bigger and better is lost because the next step, where you learn from your craft and do it better is not economical.

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Docker hired private detectives to pursue woman engineer's rape, death threat trolls

Andy 73

Utterly unacceptable

It is quite simply unacceptable to behave in this manner, hiding behind anonymity is beyond pathetic.

What part of our education system fails to teach basic social skills?

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'Bring back xHamster', North Carolina smut watchers grumble

Andy 73

Re: Detail?

> Can you dumb it down a bit? Just a little.

I think the 'Mericans had done that for us already?

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Brit teen bags $250,000 in first World Drone Prix

Andy 73

Susceptible to optimisation

Looks to me from the video that there's probably a lot of optimisation that can be done to make a drone particularly suitable for that sort of course, and to implement various 'pilot aids' that would reduce errors.

A bit like Robot Wars - early series are about pilot skill, then people start to figure out the tech that will give them the edge.

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Tech biz bosses tell El Reg a Brexit will lead to a UK Techxit

Andy 73

Re: Freedom of movement.

> You mean under the control of the incompetent buffoons in Westminster. I doubt very much the control will extend to the rest of us.

Very true, but I'd rather the incompetent buffoons be local ones who you might occasionally look in the eye. There's no evidence that their European equivalents are any less incompetent or self-serving.

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Andy 73

Re: Freedom of movement.

As an 'out-er' I don't feel the issue of immigration is about 'stopping foreigners', and those that characterise the debate that way are only doing so to make a complex issue seem reassuringly simple.

The case for coming out seems to me about one of self determination and the democratic process. Under our own control, we would be in a position to decide how immigration should work in our specific case. I would hope that the democratic outcome would still allow for compassionate treatment of disposed people, and expect that it would also positively encourage immigration by much needed skilled workers.

The point here is that 'out' is not about pulling up the drawbridge or some xenophobic reaction to foreign nations. Britain outside the EU would still have the same deeply multicultural and broad political mix of people, and a democratically elected government that on the whole reflects the population. The discussion is not (and should not) be treated as though it were magically politically polarised.

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Andy 73

But neither does it emulate California whilst in the EU. The UK's interests are not the EU's interests as the derisory renegotiations have shown. However, being part of the EU means that being an agile business partner is made more difficult by the increased regulatory burden imposed by Brussels.

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Bill Gates can’t give it away... Still crazy rich after all these years

Andy 73

You could argue..

..that anyone smart and self-possessed enough to accumulate a >$10bn personal cash pile would be smart enough to not want anything to do with the current political system.

Much more interesting are the opportunities to genuinely alter the future course of mankind - eliminate disease, get us to Mars, better energy sources. It's reassuring that tech wealth seems to bring along a certain amount of visionary spirit.

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ADpocalypse NOW: Three raises the stakes

Andy 73

Oh dear

I know this'll be downvoted into the ground, but wow, the smug guys with the "What, you losers see adverts?" comments are pretty much the reason ads are about the only revenue model available to most web sites. These are the same guys who would rather spend a day figuring out how to get their precious content for free than pay less than a few minutes' income for that content. The sense of entitlement and the certainty of their judgement ("I would never pay for content on any but my favoured site") is deeply depressing.

I get the moral argument that you shouldn't be paying to have adverts served up to you. I get that Three want to offer a 'better' service to their customers (and get them used to the idea that the Network knows best). What I don't get is the determination of some people to erode the perceived value of content and to negate any business model that pays (very poorly) for that content. Adverts are certainly a pain, but it's the resistance of most users to actually pay anything at all for their precious content that pushes the advertisers to ever more extremes.

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When asked 'What's a .CNT file?' there's a polite way to answer

Andy 73

Heh

I was working on the booth of a games company a long, long time ago, surrounded by teenagers, when an elderly and slightly confused looking gentleman dug his way through the crowd.

"Do you have Magic Pockets?" he asked (a game produced by a rival firm).

"No Sir, it's just the way I walk".

That response kept me amused for... about two decades so far.

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NOTHING trumps extra pizza on IT projects. Not even more people

Andy 73

Re: DevOps

Whilst it's easy to mock, there are plenty of big 'experienced' IT companies who still cling to the separation of techops and developers, to the point where neither side actually understands what the other side has done to break something.

There are more than a few admins who take pride in very deep, but silo-ed knowledge that allows them to tune a server farm down to the bare metal, but doesn't allow them to predict that the next deploy is going to hammer the network into the ground.

Similarly, there are plenty of developers who 'fire and forget', assuming that the magic servers will cope with whatever lunacy they've come up with.

If the sum total of your big and expensive deploy is half a dozen webapps on a handful of load balanced servers, that might not matter so much. Let's be honest, its surprising what scale of business that sort of platform is capable of supporting.

On the other hand, if you're using disparate integrated systems, want to have a testing environment that vaguely resembles your production environment and are keen to buy into the continuous deployment process, then having people who are able to cross the line and get their hands dirty on both code and metal is probably a good thing. Give 'em a name so we can identify them as not being a generic undertrained IT guy.

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I love you. I will kill you! I want to make love to you: The evolution of AI in pop culture

Andy 73

GLaDOS

How could you say there haven't been stories about AIs without at least mentioning GLaDOS?

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Back to the Future's DeLorean is coming back to the future

Andy 73

Undeservingly poor reputation

It's a pity the DeLorean has such a poor reputation with armchair experts.

For a first product from an entirely new car company, it had about the number of problems you'd expect. Funnily enough Tesla has also had it's fair share of issues with new cars. Luckily for them they're significantly better financed and have been able to develop their product to the point where they're gaining serious respect.

DeLorean was very unlucky (and you could argue how much of that bad luck was self-induced), but the core of the car had potential - a big input from Lotus and a desire to try out new techniques and technologies. If it had been developed further, it could have been quite interesting.

This relaunch could resolve a lot of the early issues (though let's face it, the company is running on a budget that would barely develop a wheel nut), so it could be quite a fun car to own. I wish 'em luck. Without mavericks willing to try something different, we'd all be driving Volvos.. *shudder*

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Bringing discipline to development, without causing pain

Andy 73

So...

Article sponsored by Perforce says free software repackaged by Perforce is good?

Colour me surprised.

My experience of large, complex and geographically distributed enterprise development is that repository management is far less an issue than the integration of CI and testing environments. (Unless no-one wants to actually trust devs with a tool that tracks and can revert every change they make.) Discipline around who can see what is less important than the ability of teams at many different stages of the development cycle to independently commit, test and release changes.

Expensive management tooling on top of otherwise free tools does not solve these issues.

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IT contractors raise alarm over HMRC mulling 'one-month' nudge onto payrolls

Andy 73

BBC

The justification for all this of course is 'loopholes', but the effect could be disastrous as it is likely to reduce the mobility of the workforce - which at the moment is key to global competitiveness. Contractors telling tales of woe are unlikely to gather much sympathy (particularly when they exaggerate their claims), but this sort of change will affect employers and permanent employees as well, as it's encouraging a further shift in the relationship between business and staff.

On a lighter note, I gather that a lot of the BBC staff work on contracts that would normally look a lot like employment. Maybe they'll be encouraged to take a critical look at the proposals.

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'T-shaped' developers are the new normal

Andy 73

|Hmmm... click bait

Agile: Still misused in the majority of companies that 'practice' it.

Scala: A nice way to identify developers who chase the shiny. Tooling still weak, maintenance hard.

Java 8: Late, but not late enough to let scala mature.

Lean: We want more results with less effort. Or pay. Or organisation.

Dev Ops: Vital now that we have an ecosystem that resists attempts to achieve stability.

T-shaped: You may want it, but HR will just apply the buzzword checklist at random and screen out the guys who can help.

Cynical: me.

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El Reg celebrates Back to the Future Day

Andy 73

You think this is weird? The Ghostbusters are all women!

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An Internet of Things music thingy? What, you’ve already got one?

Andy 73

You have a phone with an HDMI output that costs less than £30? Wow, well done.

Personally I have no problem with Google knowing I watch Danger Mouse on catchup. If I want privacy, I probably won't be browsing YouTube or iPlayer.

Nice tinfoil hat by the way.

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Apple may face $900m bill after A7 CPU in iPhones, iPads ripped off university's patent

Andy 73

Re: Apple thieves - what a surprise

I wasn't suggesting the Apple case leant one way or the other, merely commenting on the idea of 'obviousness' and how that related to patentability.

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Andy 73

Re: Apple thieves - what a surprise

I'm sure there should be some distinction between innovation and application. In the example, the Dewar flask is the innovation, but deciding to keep coffee in it is a particular application. If I chose to deliver ice-cream in it, have I innovated?

Of course the subtleties of patent law make such trivial examples somewhat moot, but I'd argue the goal of patents should be the minimum legal structure possible to support investment in innovation - and no more. We can all agree that innovation is good, but artificial monopolies are bad.

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