* Posts by JDX

6391 posts • joined 28 May 2010

Surface Studio 2: The Vulture rakes a talon over Microsoft's latest box of desktop delight

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Before people jump in to lampoon overpriced kit, I'll reiterate what I said on a recent review of another high end MS laptop (I forget which): if you're paying someone 6 figures to work for you, or earning 7 figures from the work they do for you, an extra £3000 on their laptop is a small outlay if it a)improves productivity even a small amount b)makes them feel happy and valued (which probably leads to a) regardless)

I am just a mapper: Solar drones take to the skies above Blighty

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Battery life

I'm curious how the batteries work at this altitude given the extremely low temperature. Do they use fundamentally different battery tech or are there workarounds that your smartphone doesn't have?

From Red Planet to deep into the red: Suicidal extrovert magnet Mars One finally implodes

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An update from an Actual Mars One candidate...

A friend of mine (in the 100 people selected for future phases if and when anything happens) posted this:


I'm pretty cynical about the project's chance of success but the ridicule from El Reg is little better than tabloid nonsense, I'd have expected better but they're as keen to jump on a bandwagon as anyone else, it seems. The plan has always been to hire people who do know how to build and deliver safely, not have some guy in a shed do it. The initial plan of 2023 is ludicrous but probably no more so than most of Elon's projected dates.

More likely is that Elon just gets there first IMO, or buys out/takes over projects like M1.

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Maybe take the 30s needed to do a casual scan of the people who had made it to the short-list before repeating the joke? Each person as well as passing quite rigorous initial selection criteria would have then spent at least 4 (or was it 8?) years of intense training.

If you've actually read H2G2 and the M1 materials (I assume about 5% of people making fun of it) it's quite clear the people they were after were anything but B-ark types.

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Re: "reality TV "stars" dying from crash landing, habitat failure, or slow suffocation. "

It's a little sad that the readership of El Reg are as easily misled as everyone else. The majority of people selected were highly educated people - lots of science PhDs etc - not 8-pack-bimbos. The moment it was monickered as a "reality TV show" everyone assumed the latter and never bothered to check before making jokes.

If anything, the problem with it being a reality show was that the people selected would be a bunch of nerds - like us - not reality stars or B-Ark-folk.

Almost £5k for a deskslab: Microsoft's Surface Studio 2 hits UK

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Re: SSD Mistake

What exactly are you expecting them to do, sell you the upgrade at cost price?

Is the disk user-upgradeable?

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Re: And we thought that Apple stuff was expensive tat

If you earn 6 figures, or are paying an employee 6 figures, whether a PC costs a grand or 4 grand is largely immaterial and you DO get nice design (packaging) for the money which some people care about. It's a fairly cheap way to make someone feel important :)

It's a niche kit for rich people, but there are after all a lot of rich people.

I won't bother hunting and reporting more Sony zero-days, because all I'd get is a lousy t-shirt

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It's 2019 and...

... you don't need to put what year it is in the title.

You got a smart speaker but you're worried about privacy. First off, why'd you buy one? Secondly, check out Project Alias

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So the sole purpose is to force the device not to constantly be listening to you and uploading the data, which they claim they don't anyway, with another device which is listening the whole time to tell the first device when it can listen?

I can see the attraction for paranoids / privacy enthusiasts but how do you deafen the smart speaker by making noises too quiet for human ears to hear?

Surely it's also quite easy to tell if Alexa et al are maintaining a link when you're not commanding them, by seeing if your network is sending data constantly? IIRC they listen locally for the activation command _then_ send voice to the cloud for remote analysis - it must be very easy to tell when they are or are not doing this, so easy in fact that they would be instantly sued to heck if they were?

Presumably you can also rig up a similar effect by blocking the thing's network access except when you wish to use it, which is neater than whispering into it the whole time?

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Re: Why not just

A button renders the thing useless because then you have to walk over each time you want to use it.

iPhone price cuts are coming, teases Apple CEO. *Bring-bring* Hello, Apple UK? It's El Reg. You free to chat?

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Re: Moto G first Gen

That's nice for you. Thanks for sharing. None of us knew you could buy a cheap Android that would work after a few years.

I mean it presumably won't do a lot of the things a new/pricey phone will but you'll smugly say you don't WANT to do those things, as if that's relevant to those who do.

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Re: Savings? What savings?

XE is a real thing, when a pound only buys $1.20 instead of $1.80 of course things cost more.

pound/Euro parity is entirely feasible in the short term.

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Re: so

No. Well, it might delay one upgrade cycle but people who stay with new iPhones are not going to suddenly keep an old phone for 5 years instead of 2. People have/will be pushed wireless whether they want it or not, especially since all the big Android companies are/have gone this direction too.

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Re: The reasons for the iPhone sales slump were threefold

They have arguably been doing that for several generations while sales and profits continued to grow so that clearly cannot be the whole answer.

I expected lots of "Apple is going to collapse as all the sheeple finally wake up" comments, clearly Apple might shrink - to a few hundred billion. They are still THE premium smartphone.

I'm sure they'll be around for a while longer... iPhones and iPads might be moving to slower upgrade cycles but they ARE still being upgraded, the Mac has never been more popular against the PC.

The reason Apple is shrinking/stalling is there isn't really anywhere else TO grow. They sold to nearly everyone who they want to sell to and now they are a bit stuck.

Peak Apple: This time it's SERIOUS, Tim

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Re: "and failed to honour the cynical tradition of built-in obsolescence"

How many iterations behind is the 4S... 2011. The 5 was 2012. That's really quite old.

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Re: Too late

Love how all the upvotes suggest this is some revelation. Everyone always knew this, or never will.

Microsoft vows to destroy Office, er, offices: Campus to be demolished and rebuilt

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You can still refactor classic ASP (or port to something modern) without throwing it away completely.

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Wow, there are a lot of people reading this who don't know squat about software development based on the votes.

When you throw away old cold, you throw away years and years of bug-fixes. If you genuinely start from scratch you have to find and fix all these things again.

Lots and lots of companies have made this mistake, and many of those never recovered... they lost years working on it only to have something that was not as good as the previous iteration despite looking shiny.

Typical! You wait ages for a fast radio burst from outer space, and suddenly 13 show up

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Or Unix even?

Before dipping a toe in the new ThinkPad high-end, make sure your desk is compatible

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Re: the monitor is nice

Don't sit so close to it

This post has been deleted by a moderator

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Re: Bah

Why does a large touchpad serve no purpose? Do they still not support all the cool stuff Mac's MAgic Trackpad do?

Excuse me, sir. You can't store your things there. Those 7 gigabytes are reserved for Windows 10

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At the risk of not being utterly negative about MS, this seems fairly sensible to me. Except that of course it means those running 32Gb SSD tablet-PC things are screwed (and I actually have used one of those quite happily in the past). It seems like Windows could use a bit of logic to realise that if your disk is tiny, the amount of temp files and other dross is likely to be smaller.

Low-power chips are secret sauce behind long-life wearables

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Engineering query

So we all know in the analogue world you can get self-winding watches which harvest energy from the user moving around. And just yesterday I saw an old Tomorrow's World clip from 1981 about a thermocouple-powered watch.

How many Wh can you generate using such technologies in a watch? And how many Wh does a more conventional smart-watch use? Never mind how you store the energy in your battery, I just wonder how far apart these numbers are that we could ever conceivably see a self-'winding' smart watch? A fitbit that relied on the owner to exercise to keep it charged...

This is the final straw, evil Microsoft. Making private GitHub repos free? You've gone too far

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Re: Not impressed

You think things move so fast that MS has infiltrated its developers into GitHub?

Does it work with Chrome? Then you're just paranoid.

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Re: Industrial espionage?

How are you going to find the innovative code when 99.9% of what's on there is just dross?

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Re: Free! For up to three collaborators!

Um, apart from all the 1-man bands creating software for their little business ideas or just for fun. I have an old bitbucket account that did this when I was writing games for fun - I wanted it private.

Lots and lots and LOTS of big name companies started out as 3 guys coding in their basements.

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Re: As ever

99% of Linux users never write any code for it (made up stat).

There are a lot of brainwashed sheeple here regurgitating memes. ALL the major commercial Git (and other) VCS providers provide free tiers, though some only do it for FOSS... do you think they do that out of some altruistic duty or that FOSS repos don't consume resources like private repos do? The majority of cloudy software have free tiers for 1-5 users, etc.

They do this to get brand awareness and so that when developers are in a position to need paid services, they'll go with who they know/like.

It's not a million miles away from the shareware paradigm. Even MS have been doing free versions of VS for years and years and these are all GOOD for FOSS and GOOD for helping kids get into coding.

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Re: That didn't take very long.

Stats please.

This inference sounds like crap. People paying for private repos are the sort of people least likely to hate MS, to make a blanket statement. It's the demographic using GH for open-source (already free) stuff who are more likely to distrust/hate MS enough to change platform merely due to the owner.

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish

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Re: Hmm

1)It's smart because it connects to my phone/whatever... that's all 'smart' means in 2019 and you know it.

It does also have the function to learn how long rooms take to heat up and cool down, so you tell it when you want the room to be warm and it knows how early to turn on/off to achieve that. Haven't used this much ourselves.

2)It's cheaper because our heating costs are reduced since we fitted it.

3)It's more comfortable because the rooms we spend time in are now warm despite 3) when previously, we spent all day shivering to avoid crazy heating bills.

4)It's more convenient because we can control every room separately. Our bedroom can be set to be warm when when we're in it, my home office can be set to be warm 9-5, our living room can be set to be warm 5-11. The rooms we don't use much can be set to be cool by default, for instance we have a dedicated film room so we only turn the heating on when we want to watch a film.

For all those downvoting just because it's IoT or 'smart', well I don't have to connect it to the internet at all and can still set schedules per room, etc. But, it is actually convenient when we're both out and deciding what we want to do in the evening, to press a button on my phone "watch a film" and the tV room heats up for 2 hours.

I was dubious of it before and we only got it for the cost benefits because we live in a large Victorian house with many rooms - even with TRVs either rooms are colder than we want them or warmer than they need to be. But as well as objectively making our house cheaper and warmer, I actually find it useful. Those with tiny new-build flats and/or limited imaginations wouldn't benefit from a multi-room heating system for sure.

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Re: Hmm

Yeah, there's absolutely no way they can listen to you now. Nobody would snoop on you.

People who are worried about the implications of services like Siri but trust their phones can't be tracking their every action?

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You're worried about your smart speaker listening to you but you own a mobile phone which can do the same thing (even if you ask it not to)? I was very disparaging about them but friends have an Alexa and while I'm not swayed enough to buy one, I can see some benefits as a glorified Siri.

As for IoT I'm not sure exactly what counts but I have a smart multi-room heating system which is genuinely a huge improvement in terms of convenience, cost and comfort.

I don't yet have smart sockets/bulbs but I do have a little IR remote which can turn a bunch on and off (been around for decades I'm sure) and this IS very handy for things like Christmas lights so I am strongly considering upgrading to a phone-based one (it'll probably be worse but I won't keep losing the remote).

For me IFTTT and Google Assistant is key to them being really useful because I don't have to launch some cruddy 3rd party app on my phone which takes longer then walking to the switch... I just say "OK google turn the Christmas lights off" or "OK Google I need to work for 2 hours" and it just works.

Florida man stumbles on biggest prime number after working plucky i5 CPU for 12 days straight

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Yes but we can have a list of which have been checked and of those which are primes.

IIRC this one is 8 digits so the list is well under a billion items, quite manageable (if you just want to store flags not the actual number written out longhand)

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If they're ann 2^n - 1, surely we have a list of which ones are found?

Happy new year, readers. Yes, we have threaded comments, an image-lite mode, and more...

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Collapsible comment tree?

Many thanks for the improvements, I was slightly taken aback to see the threading but it's much appreciated.

The only real thing that would be neat is ability to collapse a thread, now we have them. So feature request logged :)

Apple blew my mind – literally, says woman: MagSafe plug sparked face-torching blaze, lawsuit claims

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Especially the US plugs. I'm always amazed what a shoddy system that is. Not sure if UK plugs spark as badly but it's hidden inside though?

Crystal ball gazers declare that Windows 10 has finally overtaken Windows 7

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Re: "I spend too much time looking for things I used to know the location of,"

Is this definitely the OS and not you getting older? If it was 5 years earlier would you have found it as tricky or taken it in your stride, the way teenagers "just know" how tech works and their parents struggle?

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Re: Right. Sure. Whatever.

Amusingly, it was meant as 'Linux' not 'Linus'. It wasn't intended as a slur on Mr Torvald.

Your GUI _is_ the lipstick of the OS though.

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Re: Right. Sure. Whatever.

Whereas Linus doesn't bother with the lipstick

Google-whisperers beat reCaptcha voice challenge with 90% success rate

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Re: idiots like this

If they can be defeated so easily, maybe people will stop using them.

The Great British Curry: Put down the takeaway, you're cooking tonight

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"The only ingredient you may struggle to find here is garlic and ginger paste."

But garlic paste, and ginger paste, are available fresh in toothpaste-style tubes in the vegetable section of most supermarkets as is chilli. Fresh pureed stuff - I assume this is suitable? Or do you need lazy ginger?

London Gatwick Airport reopens but drone chaos perps still not found

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This is the same argument pro-gun folk use in the USA to explain that the apparent correlation between their massive number of gun-related crimes/deaths and the lax restriction laws is actually just a coincidence... the Bad Guys would get guns either way after all.

If you can only get a drone with difficulty, then of course they'll still be used by criminals but only by more organised, serious criminals. Like guns in the UK... of course you can get one if you know where to look but most burglars do NOT have guns. Casual criminals... some chav flying a drone for a lark... will not make the effort.

If you REALLY clamp down on things, then you have to find a smuggling ring just to get the things into the country. They get much more expensive and you have to associate with really murky types. Genuine terrorists are really quite rare compared to idiots or those who seize the opportunity because it's easy to do so.

Slap for Slack chat app after US, Canada chaps zapped in Iranian IP address map whack

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Re: Did I read that right ?

Racism is discrimination based on race, not nationality.

There are lots of totally legit examples where people from specific countries are banned from holding certain jobs or positions or whatever in other countries though that seems rather a tangent here.

A year after Logitech screwed over Harmony users, it, um, screws over Harmony users: Device API killed off

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Re: Making Users Afraid Of Updates Is The Opposite Of Responsible

>99.99% (at least) of users won't even have known these undocumented APIs existed let alone used them.

I don't know Harmony specifically but this might not be the case. These smart systems tend to be bought by more tech-savvy people because they are not simple to set up and use. I use the Honeywell Evohome system and there is quite a large community of people doing stuff with their APIs. Their APIs are unofficial but their own staff are involved in the community - and yet they also could just turn them off.

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I know Google discontinue products but I can't see Google Home suddenly disappearing. Of course they could just drop support for loads of devices or release a new API which old devices never get updated for.

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>making them rely on a third party server does not give any benefits to the people using these devices. The entire reason companies do this is to be able to collect more data on you. That's it.

That's not entirely true. They offer the ability to control your devices from your phone outside your house which has to go through some server fairly obviously. But then they don't give a second option for when you're ON your WiFi.

This could reasonably be attributed to laziness, and penny-pinching as well as malice. We should never lose focus on the fact that: Most of the time things suck this is not due to evil, but incompetence.

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>If you are relying on anything that accepts updates from or relies on a server you don't control, you have to realize that it can be turned off or broken tomorrow.

Quite. While undocumented/unsupported APIs are a bad thing to tie your horse to it only highlights that in many of these systems you don't have control. It's like a PC game where they turn off the server and you can't play multiplayer, only this is important.

I was looking the other day at a WiFi powered switch. Only to realise the one I liked had its own app and server... you couldn't control the damn switch without going through some 2-bit company's server. At least with Google/Amazon et al you have a fair guess it won't disappear overnight.

The fastest, most secure browser? Microsoft Edge apparently

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I'm sure I definitely never had a security risk from Edge

You know, since I never launched it

It's official. Microsoft pushes Google over the Edge, shifts browser to Chromium engine

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"standards compliance?"

Last time I dipped my toe in web-dev, code was full of browser-specific checks even for the most standards-compliant ones... because they use un-ratified standards and additional features. I can't remember if these were chromium or webkit but it was a mess and that was without IE kludges.

One possible downside of a monoculture is that Chromium becomes the de facto standard and they just implement what they want. Not unlike MS in the IE6 era.

Naked women cleaning biz smashes patriarchy by introducing naked bloke gardening service

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Re: Why is it sexist

What a surprise, a male-dominated readership is in favour of the idea of naked female cleaners.

It's sexist, just off the bat, because their cleaning service only supplies female workers. That means their hiring policy is sexist. We don't even have to go into the crass objectification of women to see it demonstrably sexist.

For that matter, a gardening business which only hires/supplies male gardeners would be sexist. Why can't I have a naked male cleaner or a naked female gardener?

Perhaps less important than debating the definition of 'sexism' here is just to comment on crass objectification and the general awfulness. Because really, how many of these cleaners do we think are happy for a bit of cash-in-hand for extra services (it has to be cash in hand, they have no pockets).

And for all those men rushing in to gallantly defend and empower women's rights to do what they want with their bodies (for your pleasure), you're happy for your wife/daughter to do those things? If not then you're not defending women's rights, you just like the fantasy of a woman with her jugs out as she cleans.

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