* Posts by robin thakur 1

136 posts • joined 21 Jul 2009

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Google's phone woes: The Pixel and the damage done

robin thakur 1

Re: Just like Apple

What do you consider a technical reason? The only reason they need to give is that everybody they talk to uses iOS and iMessage. Sure they and all their friends *could* move the conversation to WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and the like but perhaps they don't like Facebook that much and they want the iMessage integrated experience. Maybe they use Find my Friends or iCloud Backup or any number of other Apple features which, while it might exist on Android, it doesn't work as seamlessly or as conveniently. This doesn't necessary exclude more technical users if the default simple mode works properly with no tweaking necessary. Reliability is by far the most important factor for me.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Just like Apple

I have no idea why Android devices need so much RAM to run at anything approaching smoothness. The apps on Android (particularly games) also run worse almost without exception and where they are available cross platform, the iOS version is the better one 99% of the time in both performance and features.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Just like Apple

Apple is a year and half ahead of the closest Android competitor in performance terms of CPU GPU and because it is proprietary, that lead will only likely increase, especially with Google's mobile efforts dying. This is what makes it the premium brand, after all a Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S 8 are no longer cheap landfill these days, they are 800+ to purchase. Agree on if their needs do not require such powerful devices, but if you want premium, in terms of design, build quality, performance, experience and aftercare, Apple is the correct choice.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Just like Apple

Not necessarily true on the phone spec gouging. Apple's own chip designs wipe the floor with Android, which are just off the shelf designs. Hell, an iPhone 7 plus from last year stamps on the current Android flagships, and the iPhone 8 and X are many leagues ahead in terms of GPU and CPU performance and Apps that actually make use of this power.

Yes, you do absolutely pay more for onboard storage on Apple which is fixed, but it certainly is not as simple as saying the hardware is the same across Android and IOS with different OSs. Androids use Qualcom chipsets which are broadly the same across the devices (barring oddities like Exynos from Samsung on certain regional models) and Apple uses proprietary designs for CPU and now GPU which simply have no peers in the mobile space in terms of performance. Androids ship with more RAM than iOS devices, and perform far worse.

Therefore, I don't see that the iPhone price is that inflated when a lowly Note 8 or S8 will cost you most of the price of an X when the CPU/GPU on the X (or even the 8) is practically two years worth of performance ahead of it.

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2019: The year that Microsoft quits Surface hardware

robin thakur 1

Re: Mine...

I'm not quite sure why *nobody* apart from Apple can manage to get trackpads with gestures working properly even now.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Who wants a poorly constructed piece of garbage

The Surface Pro has an odd hinge too actually like an aircraft flap. It failed on my first Surface pro 3 but the two replacements haven't had issues (with the stand) however, it's definitely a compromise if you need to type on your lap, doesn't really work well. The surface Laptop would be good if it was priced normally and didn't have the stain magnet keyboard or Windows 10 S.

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robin thakur 1

Since Apple started making 9.7" and 10.5" iPad Pro's you've probably seen more than you think but just assumed they were iPads. I've grown to love my iPad pro especially after iOS 11's changes and getting the smart KB and Pencil really adds far more to the experience than I anticipated. I still have to use the Surface pro for work stuff until my new MacBook Pro arrives

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robin thakur 1

Re: The PC industry sure needed Surface to remind them how innovation looked like

The high pricing of the Surface and its accessories build in a few different factors including the weak pound, the high return rates, the development and marketing costs, and also the low volume which they sell. There is also the point that they do not want them to be the go to choice for people also considering HP, Asus, Lenovo or (shudder) Acer laptops. They are marketed to compete directly with the MacBook /Air/Pro line and make MS seem relevant. I can't imagine they have made much profit off of my Surface purchases due to the number of returns.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Flat surface sales

Umm...have you seen the benchmarks for the iPhone 8/X CPU/GPU versus Android? An iPhone 7 still beats this year's Androids in any test that matters and the 8/X proprietary chipset simply leaves the Note 8, the S8 and any other Android you care to name in the dust. The software even exists in the App Store to use all that power! How novel. Samsung do make nice screens, and storage I'll give them that, the rest (Bixby, plastic pencil, Iris recognition, exploding batteries, slow processors) they can keep.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Thin margins are their own fault

It doesn't come with a "Wacom Stylus" it's made by N Trig, and also it is sold separately along with the Keyboard. The pen for Surface has come on quite a bit since the one released with Surface pro 3, but is not as good as a proper Wacom made digitizer or the Apple pencil + iPad Pro for drawing in my experience, owning both of the devices in question. For some reason, my usage of the iPad Pro with Apple Pencil and it's zillions of Adobe apps, Including Photoshop Sketch (which I couldn't live without) works better than the Surface running full Photoshop, possibly because it's designed for a tablet and is better to just sketch something out quickly and easily. Adobe don't seem to make their apps like this for Windows, you're just expected to run the full Windows version on the tiny Surface's screen and go slowly blind. Therefore I wouldn't exactly say this makes the iPad Pro look anaemic, it's closer to being the right tool for the job for many people's workflows and everything is touch optimized from the ground up, not as an afterthought. Windows 10's touch support seems worse than 8 as MS know they can't jettison it totally but they know that very few people use it.

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robin thakur 1

You're right, it is trouncing the Wii U, that qualifies it as a success right?

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robin thakur 1

That assumes that it will sell millions long term which is far from a given. It is priced as a bargain pc as opposed to being a console. Forza has never been a system seller on its own for Xbox in the same way GT has for Sony and making a driving game pretty (4k, 60fps) ain't exactly difficult because it is more or less on rails. Other exclusives like Sea of Thieves and the rest are nice but not system sellers. All the games for it will run happily on an Xbox One S, so they are limiting the market to people with 4K TVs who are happy to pay £449 for the privilege of a slightly higher resolution assuming devs take full advantage of this and reproduce the textures and geometry to take advantage of the extra power. I've cancelled my orders for the Scorpio Edition and the regular Xbox X until I see what the reception is going to be like especially amongst developers and not just rabid Xbox fans.

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robin thakur 1

It is the obvious question. To me there has been a change in Microsoft's dedication to Xbox since the Xbox One underperformed (flopped really). Expensive first party games like Scalebound and Fable were cancelled and others were delayed. The studios like Lionhead that Microsoft had paid top dollar to acquire were quietly folded. Halo seems to be the only major platform exclusive that sells in any numbers and third parties are starting to take note.

They stripped the Kinect off of the main SKU and are now completely screwing up, by late releasing the Xbox One X which is basically mostly expensive custom parts and high performing PC parts along with zero games that take full advantage of it. This is hard to turn a profit on, even given that most new consoles make a loss (Nintendo aside) and make it back on software. Besides which, Shareholders hate the Xbox business, because it was loss making for a long time and got them terrible PR during the RROD era. Even now its not exactly making money hand over fist when you take into account the R&D costs.

This is not easy to sell like a whole new generation launch with exclusive games, it just means that the same games will generally run fine on the older Xbox Ones, they will just look a bit better on the Xbox One X if you also own a recent expensive TV i.e. they are turning it into a PC-esque ecosystem.

I honestly cannot see there being another Xbox after this. Yes the preorders might have sold out, but how many are they producing? Are ordinary people going to pay that much for a console when you can get the PS4 'equivalent' so much cheaper.

The Xbox brand will become a byword for a service offered through Windows to play PC games on, and MS's empire and influence will shrink once again.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Isn't it obvious

It's perfectly reasonable to point out that a £129 laptop is not going to be functionally equivalent to a £2500 one. You pays your money and you takes your choice. Laptops are indeed a depreciating asset but:

a) Some people like having nice things and there's nothing wrong with that, one's cloth is cut according to one's means.

b) Some people do use their laptops to actually earn money.

Most people have learned through experience that corners will be cut on cheap laptops in the form of slow HD, old CPU, low ram, poor screen, and installed bloatware. If you can only afford £129 for a laptop, you probably don't care about these things, and nor should you as there's not much you can do about it. That's the whole reason why Microsoft created the Surface line to showcase Windows on a reference design in a sea of shoddy landfill bound laptops that strangled its performance and customer perception.

People don't replace their computers or tablets as often anymore, it makes sense to raise the purchase price correspondingly if manufacturers don't want to see their profits crater.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Isn't it obvious

No offence, but you sound like a fan boy, and I am a fellow surface owner. Most people that experienced problems on a device as expensive as a Surface (I will not say overpriced because Microsoft is losing money on them) would send them straight back to the store, and this is what the return stats tell you. The return rates, combined with the cost of manufacturing at low volume, loss making business and general reputational damage of products with problems means that the cool factor is the only benefit to Microsoft.

The palpable novelty of seeing Microsoft unveil hardware, like it's a dog walking on its hind legs is tempered by the fact that they are not all-in on this business in the same way that Apple is and can leave it in a heartbeart if Satnad decides that they've made the point with Surface, i.e. they've moved the market on for Windows hardware enough when they don't need to prop it up with expensive reference designs.

NO company as traditional as MS will keep a loss making business indefinitely if it's future value does not justify it, the shareholders simply will not allow it. MS isn't going for world domination with the Surface, that's not its strategy, and to the consumer, that is a weird strategy. Watch out xbox, you are on notice.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Isn't it obvious

Serious heat problems and the keyboard is dodgy. Just what you want on a 3k laptop. I think overall it's low margin because it is relatively low volume overall, especially at the higher end. Who would trust MS to support a piece of hardware enough to drop that amount of money on one.

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Microsoft's foray into phones was a bumbling, half-hearted fiasco, and Nadella always knew it

robin thakur 1

Re: Awwww shut up and quit your whining.

It's not necessarily that the Snap CEO just didn't like Microsoft. He perhaps didn't see the point of porting it to Windows Mobile given the user demographic or sales figures, the cost of supporting another platform, MS's policy on apps updates, MS's previous behavior when it came to their mobile platforms and abandoning them.

The skills to create a Windows mobile app are also different to those required for a iOS/Android App and might well have diminished their focus, or worse led to a 'poor cousin' app which was missing features.

He possibly assumed correctly that a lack of apps, was not the Achilles heel of Windows Mobile and in fact its problems lay elsewhere and had a lot to do with Windows 8 being universally hated and bombing, Microsoft/Nokia not refreshing hardware regularly enough to generate buzz and the lack of a sustained focus from MS.

I fully expect MS to get out of all remaining businesses they are in where hardware is involved in the coming years, meaning Surface, Xbox, and their keyboard/mouse businesses will be sold off or shuttered. The fact that some of them are decent products or have even had some limited success will not be enough to win them a reprieve from Nadella, looking to offload low margin business in favour of a relentless focus on software.

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iPhone 8: Apple has CPU cycles to burn

robin thakur 1

Re: I have a better idea

It's funny isn't it. Phones with removable batteries were readily available, yet the majority of people don't buy them, so the manufacturers stopped making them. Same with Micro SD cards, Google now shun them, so people generally don't bother and get everything from the cloud instead. Sales data says that people buy thin phones with fixed storage and non-replaceable batteries and value features like being waterproof far more. Thicker phones with longer lasting batteries generally don't sell.

Clearly our requirements as techies are not that important to the powers that be because we don't spend enough money on gadgets and are content using really old phones like the S5. A cynical person might say that the vast majority of people just buy a new devices when the battery on theirs starts to flag because all the intervening OS updates have made the phone run like a three legged dog anyway.

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robin thakur 1

I have the same sad come down feeling after I've raced through the new features and sniffed the box, having ruined any surprises in iOS by being on the beta programme.

However, you can't really measure the satisfaction engendered by other people's envy and that is the part that makes it totally worth it. Not from other techies that might snarl at you that the LG V30 looks similar or that Samsung went with the bezel lite approach first, or even the perverse section that point out that it's mostly all Samsung inside anyway from a hardware perspective, nobody really cares what they think anyway, they can't even iMessage. The fact that Apple's tech in this last couple of rounds is so far ahead of their competitors based on their CPU/GPU designs being proprietary is just the icing on the cake that is actually capable of shutting them up.

When I first imported an iPhone from the US in 2007, using it in the street would cause a cooing group of people to gather round you in awe and the same when I got the watch a couple of years back, people stop you in the street and on the tube to ask you about it, or offer to buy it if it isn't available in their country, it's weird!!

slightly </sarcasm> but mostly true

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robin thakur 1

Re: Please explain to me ...

This is simply the way human beings work to differentiate themselves by buying into mass market ideas disseminated and reinforced through the media . They use their phones constantly therefore what they use says a lot about them to other people with the same priorities. The same is true of the car market, fashion etc. why wouldn't it extend to the phones market? Yes I use an iPhone and will be preordering the X in black and white, but only the 64GB this year, because next year they might work out how to get the fingerprint reader working under the screen :)

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robin thakur 1

Re: iTunes on Windows

What I did is use iTunes Match to get my GBs of music to the cloud and now mostly use Apple Music. Anything Match can't match...will get uploaded and is then accessible anywhere storable offline etc. I've not had to use iTunes in conjunction with the iPhone since about 2013 (other than for buying Music occasionally, so whenever I see people whining about iTunes these days, all it tells me is that you are probably stuck in the past and haven't properly used the Apple ecosystem for a while.

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Five ways Apple can fix the iPhone, but won't

robin thakur 1

Re: Keyboard

As you don't have 3d touch on Android, you might not know that on iPhone you can just use push-touch the keyboard on a text section and control the cursor like its a trackpad. Selection issue solved. Without 3d touch if you have legacy Apple hardware I agree that cursor movement was a bit sketchy...

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robin thakur 1

Re: My list

Err no, why comment if you don't know this to be true? The file explorer is there on iPhone as well. As you would expect, it functions more like the Finder function of OSX and just shows you files, not the inner workings, but what did you realistically expect?

I do miss the back button on Android, but not enough to get an Android phone, somehow.

Never used Contact Shortcuts, do can't speak on their usefulness. Sudoku Apps, I somehow think amongst the 2 million apps there must be one. I think if you uninstalled all the apps from the iPhone and used it as stock, the battery life would be huge :)

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robin thakur 1

Improved Radios

When I bought the iPhone 7 Plus in the UK, I had no idea that it unlike the American version, it uses an Intel Modem on the chipset. I have had much worse reception using this than any previous iPhone. Signals take longer to be detected, for both Wifi and cellular, and it is just overall much worse than the old chipsets they used in previous phones.

They really need to fix the way the iPhone connects to Wifi as well, especially public wifi networks. It takes too long and doesn't always bring up the bounce screen to login unless you are on the settings -> wifi section. On a Samsung Galaxy 7, I used to use before going back to iOS, it worked seamlessly and auto connected. THis convenience was not enough to keep me on Android however as there was so much else that didn't work properly.

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80% of IT projects in public sector delayed due to IR35 – report

robin thakur 1

Re: Numbers.

The reality is that lots of people where I work walked out in advance of the change coming in because as usual there were lots of grey areas in the legislation and the company in question couldn't guarantee anything. Some left the country and went to work in Europe or the rest of the world where at least there is some certainty of tax laws and fewer issues.

Everyone was told they 100% had to switch to Umbrella Companies from Ltd companies. Then somehow, and at the last minute, exemptions and contract changes were made to allow contractors to still be outside IR35 (with recertification every 6 months) and to stay as Ltd companies. The net result is that some of the ones that left have now come back on higher rates and the ones that didn't leave have seen little changed, other than the massive tax rises affecting all contractors (loss of dividend relief, raising of the VAT flat rate scheme etc.)

Move on nothing to see here....

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Nasty firmware update butchers Samsung smart TVs so bad, they have to be repaired

robin thakur 1

Re: A blessing in disguise

The reality though, is that while you *can buy a dumb tv still, the flagship models from Samsung, LG, Panasonic and Sony costing several thousand all have smart platforms of varying clunkiness because that's what the market demands for reasons of convenience.

Not everybody wants devices and cables visible everywhere, and the trend is towards the display being on its own with the processing box being separate, connected via near invisible proprietary optical cable.

I learned this a while ago that my HTPC/XBMC/Kodi box is a mystery to everybody else in my house apart from me and if it stops behaving normally, nobody knows how to fix it, and they hate having to use a keyboard and trackpad on the sofa. Unless you live on your own or the TV is in your mancave, most regular people demand stuff that is easy to use and pretty foolproof. You can thank Apple for that. We use a Logitech Harmony Hub and an iPad app which everybody can use without problems.

Quite why a TV with 8 CPU cores runs so damn slowly in browsing the menus is a bit of a mystery until you take into account that Samsung develop the software themselves. Samsung have always been rubbish at Software, hence the worst thing about their phones are the additions they make to Android, the worst thing about their TVs is the Tizen OS developed by them which nobody even wanted on a phone and as for when their assistant Bixby was announced, being worked on by "*thousands* of developers" I just laughed to myself because guess what? That's rubbish as well.

Samsung Update not fully tested and bricks their TVs? Not surprised in the slightest. Samsung marketing always has a nice expensive sheen, with shiny hardware and nice specs, but dig beneath the surface and there are plenty of rough edges, under tested features, naff software and support nightmares waiting to happen. A brickable device that is this expensive in this day and age should tell you everything you need to know.

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Apple celebrates soaring iPad sales: Put it on my tab, says CEO Tim Cook

robin thakur 1

Re: The new iPads are amazing, but still overally expensive

As with any tool, I tend to cynically believe a lot of these devices are just used as tablet baby sitters running Clash of Clans and their ilk for kids by parents that have little engagement with the learning process. Yes they have amazing educational opportunities with these tablets including the Swift Playgrounds app, but they do need to have some control in place to stop them becoming wasted potential.

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robin thakur 1

Re: The new iPads are amazing, but still overally expensive

Yer, the sarcastic spin from tech sites (including El Reg) on the iPad launches this year focused on the most amazing thing being a price drop at the time, but look who's laughing now eh? It has made the iPad and the iOS ecosystem more accessible to schools and volume purchasers. I also sometimes believed the iPad's days of strong growth were numbered, but Apple focusing on them once again has seemingly paid dividends. The new iPad pros are truly lovely with the new fast screen display tech they have, and I shall be picking one up in due course.

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New iPhone details leak: Yes, Apple is still chasing Samsung

robin thakur 1

Re: $1400?

Spare cash?!? You've been able to buy a pretty decent set of Bluetooth headphones on Amazon by Mpow and the like for £15 for literally years now. You don't need to buy AirPods unless you desperately want siri integration, the battery life and the automatic pairing etc. If you can't affor £15 on top of your "£1400" phone then you can just use the free adaptor in the box.

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robin thakur 1

...and if it wasn't for the first iPhone and the App Store changing up people's expectations for what was possible on a phone, how do you think the Samsung Galaxy S 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 and 8 would ever even exist in their current form? Not to mention the fact that Samsung does Iris recognition, Apple does 3D Facial recognition, and they also have a we-will-not-sue-you deal with MS for yonks now, and your post looks even weaker. It's lucky for MS that they have the deal in place otherwise the Surface laptop would have landed them in hot water...

Hopefully Apple accomplish what Samsung couldn't and embed the fingerprint reader under the glass, not having to place it in the damn inconvenient position on the back of the phone. I also don't want a curved screen or one with round corners, thanks Apple. I do want a second gen set of Airpods to go with my 8 :)

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Alexa, why aren't you working? No – I didn't say twerking. I, oh God...

robin thakur 1

Alexa hasn't been quite that bad on the Echo and Echo Dots I use at home, but there's the sneaking suspicion that it works much better in the US market than it does in the UK as Amazon haven't made the AVS service available here yet as far as I know and certain skills aren't available outside the US.

That said discoverability is an issue with any device that doesn't have a screen, mainly because what Alexa listens for is so precise sometimes that it borders on unnatural. "Alexa ask Harmony to turn up the volume" might sound ok to say once, but when it only works correctly 1 in 3 times, it's a lot of effort. Similarly inflexible is the integration with Philips Hue bulb system, you have to be so precise with what you say. "Turn on the lights in the master bedroom" doesn't work but "turn on the master bedroom lights" does, for example. Siri seems far more flexible in what you ask, so its surprising that Amazon with their clout, deep pockets and talent cannot make Alexa better at understanding requests.

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Expect the Note 8 to break the bank (and your wallet)

robin thakur 1

I don't think Samsung's brand, reliability, build quality or features justify such premium pricing and this is, let's face it, trying to recover some of the legendary costs of the previous exploding version. At some point soon, Samsung will cut their losses on Bixby and kill the poorly thought out feature (push to talk really isn't where the market is going) and you'll be left with a useless button.

The curved screen, far from being a good thing is a real inconvenience as it makes it nearly impossible to get a good screen protector/case combo that doesn't peel off, captures palm input when used one handed and serves zero practical purpose, the same as their curved TV range.

That was on my old galaxy s7 edge. I can only imagine the inconvenience of having the fingerprint reader moved to the back of the phone to force you to use iris unlock on the newer models and a ridiculous size which means it's two handed or nothing. This is not worth premium pricing and like all Android flagships will be available at a massively reduced price on the second hand market shortly after launch.

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Apple hurls out patches for dozens of security holes in iOS, macOS

robin thakur 1

Re: Credit to Apple, At least they do updates.

I did the same and went back to iOS. Whenever an OTA update came out on my old Android phones (rooted) if you clicked on yes to install it bricked the phones and the firmware needed reflashing and restoring (if the backup worked!).

It was at this point you realized that a phone these days isn't a cool piece of kit for tinkering with but a bloody necessity which you can't be without for 3 hours while it reflashes/restores...

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UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren

robin thakur 1

Re: Stereotypes

To discuss his points sensibly, if I as a mixed race person you watch this type of advert in London and 90% of the people around you are non white, then this racial mix is representative. If you live outside a metropolitan area and see the same racial mix when 99% of the people around you are white British it just looks like odd, multi-cultural agenda based adverts. In certain areas I've been I've found adverts really jarring that contain white people because 99.9% of people walking past were not white and the ad is pretty much irrelevant to them. Therefore, in conclusion his point is not necessarily racist it's just what he's used to.

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robin thakur 1

Re: The only stereotypes left

I was outraged last time I was in Boots and asked (as a man) for some skin concealer and skin highlighter and was served sensibly by a charming head-scarved lady without any form of outrage or homophobia. I mean WTF? I was quite disappointed really.

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robin thakur 1

Re: This is a bad thing

This falls down the trap of saying that "'stupid' people shouldn't vote because they don't vote they way we want them to/the way they are meant to". It's patronising and false. Same with Trump and Brexit. Perhaps they have different priorities to you, or perhaps they see the truth and it is you that is taken in by lies, it's certainly not black and white. It's not very smart for example, if you know that the vast majority of the public is more stupid than the thickest person you've ever personally encountered, not to tailor an election/referendum campaign towards them, because they have the numbers advantage.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Enough "PC", already!

I completely agree. I find the affirmative action taking place at the moment (because that is what it most closely resembles) with respect to diversity, trans rights and women's equality, have come to dominate all spheres of life and particularly the news. Every other story on the BBC et al is about women being seemingly disadvantaged or outraged at something, students protesting sombreros on campus, trans people's journeys to becoming accepted or gay rights (I belong to this group but even I find the constant stream of mainstream news about it slightly tiresome). For people living outside the metropolitan areas which normalize such thinking, this cacophony of urban grief and twitter character assassination seems utterly alien, selective and off-putting.

Yes these things are of slight importance, but this culture of blame, entitlement, victimhood and needing to constantly share everything with everybody for validation is actually starting to change human civilization and development...and not for the better.

The 'beach-body ready' advert wasn't particularly offensive, any more than Calvin Klein men's underwear adverts and Vogue are. There's nothing wrong with having a body image to aspire to, in fact this has been the case since Ancient Greece, and the only difference here was that it targeted women with a very large picture of the model and many chose to get offended on behalf of women. Some people can achieve the look through genetics/training and some won't. Some people are "pretty/handsome" in society's view and some aren't. Some simply are simply feeble-minded mouth breathers. There's no point complaining that advertising companies don't hire a plus size or obese model to advertise an aspirational slimming plan, because it wouldn't sell well and the agency would get fired.

Nothing is stopping you going to the beach if you are of the larger disposition, just don't be surprised if Greenpeace show up and start throwing buckets of water over you and trying to roll you back into the water.

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UK government's war on e-cigs is over

robin thakur 1

Re: Jesus, NO!

I have asthma, used to smoke and now vape, and vaping does still trigger asthma actually, though not as badly as cigarettes used to.

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Microsoft drops Office 365 for biz. Now it's just Microsoft 365. Word

robin thakur 1

Re: Microsoft 365?

We had a regional outage on authentication in Azure which borked up not just the SharePoint Online and Dynamics/Office365 access but also our on-prem stuff as that uses AAD in the authentication stage as well via ADFS. This was not reported on the Health page in Office 365 and were it not for an embedded MS employee that alerted us we'd have been none the wiser. This seems almost like a tactic of MS's to avoid people noticing what the real uptime is. If it only reports system-wide outages, that's not really being transparent is it?

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The life and times of Surface, Microsoft's odds-defying fondleslab

robin thakur 1

Credit where credit's due

MS has done a good job recently with Surface after the disasters that typified the device before SP3. They've created quality built, interesting form factors and wacky accessories which genuinely interest people (though not always enough to buy them) like the endearingly pointless yet futuristic Surface Dial and they have courted the creative market as well as the business market well. They also have listened to the criticism of previous devices and responded well. If you take the SP 2017, battery life is now amazing in most scenarios and the pen is really good.

Lappability will always be precarious, it's just the nature of a kickstand device. The price will always be high as this is a machine of almost Apple-like quality using premium materials and design intended to almost be a reference Microsoft device, and you do get what you pay for despite what some people think. Microsoft don't want it to be the cheapest option, that's what put people off of the PC market to begin with...cheap plastic sh*te from Acer (amongst others) with too many corners cut and filled to the brim with bloatware and stickers.

Not having a viable mobile option on MS is a massive, massive mistake on MS's part though, which makes people reluctant to get into the Windows ecosystem unless they have to for business and threatens to make them simply irrelevant in the future from a consumer standpoint. I personally own a SP3 and have had good use out of it as a business device but would have gone back to the MacBook pro if it wasn't so wallet bustingly expensive now, so that my phone and laptop were from the same ecosystem. Upgrading to SP 2017 is similarly expensive for the model I want though, so will probably bite the bullet and get the MBP as I miss the bigger screen and the proper Apple feel. £2000 for a convertible laptop (with all the accessories I need, even one as nice as the Surface feels at least twice what it should cost.

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In the week Uber blew up, Netflix restates 'No brilliant jerks' policy

robin thakur 1

In theory it all sounds like a lovely Utopia. However, reading between the lines, it basically means free overtime for the company as everybody is too scared to do the hours they are paid to do, lest they not be seen as a team player with a good attitude. Plus lots of people like Sushi and big parties, there's nothing wrong with that, and Netflix certainly makes enough money to afford both.

Not everybody is nice all the time, it's not how humans work and I can't imagine anything worse than working amongst a sea of fake smiles and fake niceness especially if it's being enforced by HR. Besides which, for example, though it might be a stereotype, the sort of person who makes a brilliant developer is the sort of person who spends all their time coding, to the detriment of social connections in the real world, and they aren't going to be that well adjusted 99% of the time, in my experience.

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Wowee, it's Samsung's next me-too AI gizmo: The Apple HomePod

robin thakur 1

Re: Second Home?

I beg to differ, when controlling stuff via Homekit (and the Homebridge I've installed on Raspberry Pi to bridge devices which do not offer Homekit compatibility such as Nest and Logitech's awfully supported devices) Siri understands me 99.9% of the time and I can control it via Watch or iOS. By contrast Alexa understands me only some of the time and isn't as responsive or accurate.

Nothing is more annoying than saying "Alexa turn on the master Bedroom Lights to 50% brightness" and it waiting 5 seconds before saying "I couldn't find a group or devices called turn on the masterbedroomlights in your account" or "Philips Hue isn't responding right now"

However, when I ask Siri to do it, it works first time, every time (most of the time) plus I can tell it to change the colour to anything and it will just do it with panache. Echo by contrast just won't do that properly unless you save the colours as a scene, then resync, then chant while the planets are in alignment, then repeat until it sometimes works.

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Apple gives world ... umm ... not much new actually

robin thakur 1

It is a pretty limited use case indeed. As snazzy and interesting as the colour dial thingy looks in MS's PR videos I can't really see many people using them because designers don't really like to change their workflows especially not to something which is proprietary and new fangled (unless Apple release it)

Microsoft having suddenly decided to start targeting creatives post SP3 with more useful pens and the dial thing and it is viewed skeptically by most. As somebody else noted above, touching the main screen is still a big no-no in design circles and you can add Cintiqs and Wacom pen Tablets to any computer which will work a lot better in a way that the industry has been using for decades and is a known quantity...

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Bixby bailout: Samsungers bailing on lame-duck assistant

robin thakur 1

Re: But...

Erm, except that everybody knows that Google makes all the money from most Android phones being used, with the hardware overpriced and devaluing to hardly anything in a very short time indeed. Samsung as a premium maker is in a position to make more profit than most due to it's high RRP, lack of competition and suite of expensive accessories, but it's no Apple. It must irk Samsung that whenever they try Apple's strategy it always goes down in flames, sometimes literally.

No matter if it's Air Scrolling, S-Voice, Bixby, Tizen, Heart Rate monitoring, Knox, Group Play it's always so utterly useless that people just turn the feature off. The problem comes when you can't turn off or override the Samsung feature because it is locked down to prevent you using the Google alternative. E.g. on my S7 Edge I couldn't use the Google dictation, it would constantly disable itself on the Google Keyboard, and "OK Google" didn't work reliably unless the phone screen was on, and the edge screen was the most annoyingly pointless things I'd ever used. Basically, I had actively paid more to have a worse experience than I would have with some no name, landfill Chinese brand.

For as long as I can remember, most Samsung owner complaints have always been about Samsung's useless software. On the TV side, they only compete in software with Sony, LG and Panasonic, who are also fairly clueless about UI design but on the phone side, they have to compete, not only with the big beast Apple but also now, the PixelPhone. That's assuming they don't drop their own ball with exploding phones, inaccessible finger print readers, or overly fragile glass.

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robin thakur 1

Re: But...

The sort of customers that buy iPhones also buy Samsung's S series and Note series though. people that pay £6-900+ per phone. I think to can Bixby before it's even released would be a verrrryy embarrassing climb-down for Samsung, given them stressing that they have "thousands" of people working on it. Similar things happened with their Tizen OS phones, though at least Tizen is on their TV's to recoup some of the R&D.

From a consumer's perspective though, who on earth would rather have Samsung Pay over Android Pay, and Bixby over the Google Assistant? A robust Siri re-launch might make Samsung consider that Bixby, far from being a positive is actually quite a big negative to selling a premium phone when it could just have Google Assistant (or whatever it's called this week) and people would be happier. Nobody wants to pay extra for something shitter than the competition; just ask Apple back when the first version of Apple maps came out...

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How the Facebook money funnel is shaping British elections

robin thakur 1

Re: Conservatives and Face-de-bouc

Sorry but if you're easily led, emotive and to be frank, rather thick, don't be surprised that unscrupulous types will try and take advantage of you from both sides of the political spectrum. It's not undemocratic if they all do it, nor is it mind control, brainwashing etc. you can just stop reading it and close your personal data harvesting...err I mean Facebook...account and live a perfectly fulfilling life. All FB and Twitter and the rest really do is make you angry at the end of the day, though not everybody will admit it.

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robin thakur 1

Re: Conservatives outspent Lib Dems 55:1.

That's not exactly hard, who on earth gives money to the Lib Dems? I'm a happy member of the Conservatives and Labour, and I even got to help choose Jeremy Corbyn (for a laugh) to see what would happen if you have a socialist lame-duck lunatic in charge of a major political party. I'll be laughing even more if he wins, more because it proves that people here are idiots, but my next move would be abroad.

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robin thakur 1

It's lobbying, not mind control, love. Most people I know weren't influenced by such shadowy tactics, and made up their minds long before the campaign started. Could it be that they simply were not as enamoured as our rulers with the EU paradise we live in?

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robin thakur 1

Re: If you use facebook...

But, it is SOO amusing to watch their pained howling all over Facebook after Trump won, Brexit and under the last Tory victory. It's worth voting Tory again just to watch them go into full on "It's rigged"/"I can't believe that my Facebook echo chamber doesn't reflect everybody"/"Everybody I know voted Labour"/"Why are stupid people allowed to vote"/"Why are people remembering beyond the last 3 weeks of Jeremey Corbyn's leadership?" mode.

When Labour win, the rich threaten to (and often do) leave the country. When the Conservatives win, Labour supporters go out and smash stuff. Imagine what Momentum's thugs will get up to? They're already making lists of all the houses with Conservative signs in the window to burgle and attack them, so in a way it's good that we will see their true faces with their beady eyes when the Tories win next Saturday.

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robin thakur 1

Exactly. Corbyn will raise Corporation Tax at a time that IT contractors are already being being hit by vanishing dividend relief, company pensions, NI rises, IR35 obstacles and a myriad other issues. The Tories are too socialist in the way they have dealt with small business so far, the only sweetener being the rise in the personal tax allowance. However, they are the only sensible choice when faced with the alternative.

Under Labour, as we've already seen under Sadique Khant , the fool wants to get rid of private contractors working for the public sector in London (not that this has been a success, it just means that everybody has to become G Cloud registered or go through the big consulting companies, thus doubling or tripling the cost to the public sector), and Jezza would follow through on this nationwide. I can see tax being deducted at source for private and public sector contractors under Labour to ensure their coffers are full to afford their giveaways like tuition fees, Railway nationalisation, the NHS, and the rest of their Santa's bucket list manifesto.

In other words, it would be a good time to liquidate (no tax for you Jeremy, sorry love) and get out of the UK to sunnier pastures less hostile, because the nice thing about IT is that you can work anywhere in the world.

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