* Posts by Richard Lloyd

373 posts • joined 25 Nov 2006

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Lower video resolution can deliver better quality, says Netflix

Richard Lloyd

480p Netflix on a fibre connection

My Humax Freesat DVR finally got a Netflix app this week, so I signed up for a free month to the HD package (and immediately cancelled to avoid auto-payment when the free month is up, but you still get to use your free month). I couldn't understand why the picture wasn't sharp on my wired 40 Mbps fibre connection and 1080p plasma though.

It turns out Netflix defaults to "Auto" playing mode and the info button on the remote confirmed it was only playing HD content at 480p despite my decent setup. I had to go onto the Netflix Web site and flick the playing mode to "High" - as soon as I did that, the HD movie I was playing flicked from 480p to 1080p mid-stream, with no buffering or pixellation and a much sharper picture. In other words, Auto mode is terrible at estimating your bandwidth and I wonder how many HD subscribers have been playing back at 480p because of the crappy Auto mode?

Talking of HD, if the vast majority of Netflix content is available in HD and it's likely the vast majority of Netflix potential or paid-up subscribers have HD TVs, then why do Netflix charge an extra 1.50 per month for HD? Netflix will claim it's for the bandwidth usage (they muddy this by offering 2 simultaneous devices in the HD package), but the Auto default playing mode selecting 480p (at least for me) sounds like a convenient bug/feature to save using bandwidth on HD accounts to me....

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Mozilla looses Firefox 43, including Windows 64-bit variant

Richard Lloyd

Had 64-bit Firefox for ages...

Linux has had official 64-bit Firefox for ages and even Windows users have had both official (nightly) and unofficial (Palemoon/Waterfox) 64-bit builds too, so 64-bit isn't big news for those who really wanted it on Windows.

One minor relief on the Linux side is that they've postponed the move from GTK+2 to GTK+3 until maybe version 45 in March next year - at which point it would break on at least one prominent LTS distro (CentOS 6) that's got support until Nov 2020.

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Google to end updates, security bug fixes for Chrome on 32-bit Linux

Richard Lloyd

It's not 32-bit that's the issue

I've been running 64-bit Linux desktops for 10 years now, so the death of 32-bit can't come soon enough. However, Chrome dropping support for 64-bit Linux distros that have 5 years of support left (CentOS 6 - though I have a workaround at http://chrome.richardlloyd.org.uk/ for that) and NPAPI plugins (bang goes Java applets, which stuff like VNC viewers use...e.g. Dell iDRAC/HP iLO) were far worse than dropping 32-bit support.

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Finding security bugs on the road to creating a verifiably secure TLS lib

Richard Lloyd

Why not work on an existing TLS project?

So here we go again - another reinvention of the wheel :-( Surely it would be a better use of their time to work on improving an existing TLS Open Source project? OpenSSL and GnuTLS are both very obvious candidates (and probably the most popular ones out there) and while I can see they are providing some benefit to those by discovering possible flaws in them, working directly on them would be a superior solution surely?

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

Richard Lloyd

Audio badly mixed for me

I recorded the Sat night showing from BBC One HD on Freesat onto my trusty Humax DVR and got a terrible audio mix coming out of my 5.1 system (which has never happened before). The background music was twice as loud as it should have been and almost obliterated the dialogue.

I "obtained" another copy of the show and the mix was much better, though the odd dialogue snippet was competing with the background music again. Did anyone else out there have a similar audio issue? As for the episode, it yet another "meh" reaction from me, like so many of the episodes in recent years. My weekend was better spent watching Jessica Jones, which is so much better than Doctor Who currently is...

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Linus looses Linux 4.3 on a waiting world

Richard Lloyd

Loose can mean to release or to set free...

...but it's normally used in the context of an object that's tied up tight in the first place and I'd probably use "loosens" myself anyway. I don't think you can use the word to refer a kernel that's already gone through several RC versions, because that's hardly tied up or tight :-)

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Bletchley Park remembers 'forgotten genius' Gordon Welchman

Richard Lloyd

Re: Please can we keep the accolades coming...

Straight after watching the interesting BBC Four documentary, I had a look online and Amazon UK had it for about 9 quid. Fast forward several weeks and it's now 350 quid! Amazon Germany (I had to pick that variant didn't I? :-) ) has it for 13 Euros though.

Bear in mind that it's the revised paperback edition though - the original isn't available new (I believe all unsold copies were actually pulped).

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Adobe patches Flash dirty dozen, ignores 155 in Shockwave shocker

Richard Lloyd

Linux Flash player nowhere near version 19.x

For some inexplicable reason, years ago Adobe decided that there'd be no new major versions of their Flash Player for Linux after 11.x. It's a strange decision because they are still patching 11.x anyway because it too has a shed-load of vulnerabilities. Note that Google Chrome for Linux does indeed include Flash Player 19.x (embedded into the browser) via a sneaky deal between Google and Adobe no doubt involving large brown envelopes of cash.

They did a similar "we're not doing any more major versions" trick with the Android Flash player, but have dubiously refused to update it for security fixes since it was frozen at 11.1.115.81 a full two years ago! So if you prefer Android Firefox and want to see Flash content, you're stuck with a version that probably has 200+ vulnerabilities in it - way to go Adobe.

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Asus ZenBook UX305: With Windows 10, it suddenly makes perfect sense

Richard Lloyd

Nice ultrabook but hard to buy with Win Pro pre-installed

We were definitely considering this Asus for work, but it appears almost all retailers were selling it without Windows Pro pre-installed, which would force an additional 150 quid purchase of the OS for work use. In the end, we went for the Dell XPS 13 because of this.

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Doctor Who returns to our screens next week – so, WHO is the worst Time Lord of them all?

Richard Lloyd

McCoy, but mainly because the stories were awful

I hated the McCoy era with a passion, but it was the terrible scripts (the Bertie Bassett one in particular) that mostly contributed towards that. Remember that there was a 16-year gap (ignoring the McGann failed one-off) to the next Who TV series...that's the legacy that the horrible McCoy era left behind.

Since the 2005 reboot, I've found Dr. Who to be wildly inconsistent - 1 or 2 good stories per series and an awful lot of sub-standard stories padding each series. It's certainly not a "must see" any more.

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'Major' outage at Plusnet borks Brits' browsing, irate folk finger DNS

Richard Lloyd

I've always used Google DNS on Plusnet

I've always used an external DNS provider with my ISPs (and I never use their mail, because that's not portable between ISPs) because it can go wrong occasionally. I used to use OpenDNS years ago, but got fed up them intercepting wrong lookups and putting up a search page, which is simply awful.

When my Linux machine boots, I put something at the end of the boot sequence to insert "nameserver 8.8.8.8" and "nameserver 8.8.4.4" into /etc/resolv.conf (overriding whatever DHCP sets) and I'm good to go with Google's DNS. Never had a problem with it ever snce I switched to them - Google's DNS infrastructure is likely to be much better than any UK ISPs I suspect.

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Storage boosters: Six mSATA format SSDs on test

Richard Lloyd

Whilst the form factor is nice (good for laptops), the performance is yawnsome beyond belief - showing figures that are the same or worse than 2.5" SSDs from over 3 years ago. This is why I'm never buying any SATA-based SSDs ever again - they have speed-plateaued for years now and PCIe-based SSDs are where it's at (although they're priced where SATA SSDs were 5 years ago, so adoption hasn't ramped up yet).

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Budget UHD TVs arrive – but were the 4Kasts worth listening to?

Richard Lloyd

Inputs, content and external devices...

I'm a bit baffled why you'd buy a 4K TV at the moment - there simply isn't enough 4K content (or indeed high enough broadband speeds to cater for it if it's Net-streamed). Heck there's not even that much 1080p content either unless you have a large Blu-Ray collection.

For me, a 4K TV should be as dumb as possible (will there *ever* be a non-smart 4K TV sold?), with as many 4K-capable inputs as possible (to attach whatever 4K external devices turn up, including a PC with a beefy graphics card).

Heck, there's even little point in putting a TV tuner in a 4K TV at the moment :-) Mind you, 4K DVRs are going to need to start at 4TB HDDs and go upwards...this assumes that 4K bandwidth will actually available OTA (maybe with satellite, but I doubt it for terrestrial). That's something I never see mentioned in 4K TV reviews - will there ever be a "Freeview UHD" or "Freesat UHD"?

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Wordpress issues second urgent patch in two weeks

Richard Lloyd

Re: At least WordPress' updating system is good...

Obviously, you should have a staggered update policy - dev updates first, then UAT updates next (perhaps a day or two later) and then live last (again another day or two gap). You can't leave the live updates too long - plugin security issues are far more common than core WP issues and if a site has a fair number of plugins, chances are you'll see a security update on one or more of them at least weekly.

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Richard Lloyd

Re: At least WordPress' updating system is good...

> There are 'web developers' out there who think nothing of hacking away at the core code in order to achieve their end result

Which is why any homebrew solution (yes, I've cooked one up using bash calling WP-CLI where necessary) needs to do the following:

* Use curl to request the home page and check it comes back with a 200 success code - if it doesn't, don't do any updates (any errors like this need to be e-mailed to someone obviously).

* Run WP-CLI's "core verify-checksums" to confirm no-one's hacked core code - if it fails the checksums, don't do the updates.

* Check some hasn't set up home page redirection in a manner that breaks WP-CLI (yes, it's possible to do that) - again, no updates if there's redirection.

* Check you can find the WP version with WP-CLI and that it's >= 3.5.2 (WP-CLI doesn't work with older) - again, abort if no version or too old.

* Backup the Web tree (I exclude wp-content/uploads since core/plugins/themes updates don't touch those) and DB if updates are to be applied.

* Do your updates (calls to WP-CLI) and re-check the site with curl again for a 200 success code. If it fails, rollback using the Web/DB backups.

Other tips include removing inactive plugins/themes - if you leave them installed, they *do* still have to be updated! Also add this wp-config.php to turn off WP's own core auto-updates:

define('WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE',false);

The steps above are why tweaking WP settings to auto-update much or everything like another poster said without pre and post update checks aren't a good idea.

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Richard Lloyd

At least WordPress' updating system is good...

One of the big selling points for me about WordPress is that it is *very* easy to update (though I'd like to see more thought put into easy rollback other than "restore the Web/DB dumps you took before the updates"). The recent 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 security releases actually got applied "automatically", generating an e-mail to the site admin to inform them of this. 4.2.3 broke the Types/Views plugins for a lot of sites (and it took about a week before Toolset released a fix, though it was possible to workaround the issue or indeed manually rollback, which is why I think easy rollback would be a nice WP feature to add).

Perhaps the weakest issue with WordPress updates is that there is usually no way to specify an auto-update for all your plugins and themes (or indeed for a major WP core release either), though you can homebrew something up with the WP-CLI tool.

Easy updating, to me, is a *major* selling point - some CMS'es I've seen are utterly appalling when it comes to updates, often requiring days (I'm not kidding) of work to upgrade them.

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Assessing the power of Intel’s SSD 750 … but check your motherboard before buying

Richard Lloyd

Linux support?

A shame the article failed to mention if there's any Linux driver support for this Intel SSD. A quick Google suggests that kernel 3.19 and later has NVMe support, though I'm not sure if recent distros have enabled it or not. It would be nice if El Reg PCIe SSD reviewers even just booted a (very recent) live Linux ISO to see if the drive is recognised - surely that's not asking too much?

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Windows 10: Buy cheap, buy twice, right? Buy FREE ... buy FOREVER

Richard Lloyd

Re: Free you say?

> YOU WILL NOT BE CHARGED FOR UPDATES ONCE YOU GET WINDOWS 10 FOR THE SUPPORTED LIFETIME OF THE DEVICE.

This is correct (and has been true for older Windows too), but you *will* be charged (as an indirectly absorbed cost by OEMs for pre-installed versions or directly for retail versions) if you want to get Windows 10 from 29th July 2016 onwards.

> Windows 10 is already on more than 60 million devices in 3 days of its launch.

That was always going to happen - MS have pushed this free Win 10 upgrade like crazy for months now and "who doesn't like free"? I hope people know that they've only got "30 days downgrade rights", after which time I presume a Windows downgrade involves a clean re-install (or image restore if you were clever enough to make one before the upgrade...but I bet the average user doesn't though!).

> Thats what more than the total number linux devices in the world if you take out the enterprise devices?

You've got to be careful here about what "Linux" means - if you're talking about the Linux kernel, you're on losing ground here - there are *massively* more devices running the Linux kernel then there are running Windows. Most consumer devices with a half decent CPU/RAM in them run a Linux kernel, not forgetting the metric ton load of Android devices out there.

Outside of the phone/laptop/desktop arena, Windows isn't run in many consumer-facing places (ATMs are about the most common one I can think of and many banks are considering Linux to replace Windows ATMs).

Windows still dominates in the desktop arena, that's for sure, but some of this dominance can be laid at the feet of the major OEMs, who rarely want to ship machines with anything but Windows. It's less comfy in the laptop segment because of Chromebooks and convertible tablets running Android. In the phone segment, Windows is hopeless and show no signs of joining the big two any day now.

It may be that "universal" Windows 10 helps - if a lot more popular apps turn up for Windows 10 Phone because of it, it could gain some market share there. Having been in the Insider Preview programme myself, Windows 10 seems fine once you get Classic Shell on it and as long as the Modern interface stays hidden from me on the desktop, I'm quite happy with it. It'll still only get 5% computer time from me, since my CentOS desktop is much more functional and productive in my books.

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Speed freak: Kingston HyperX Predator 480GB PCIe SSD

Richard Lloyd

Shifting the drive mix...

Still a bit too expensive, but it might start replacing the SATA 3 SSD boot drive + large HDD for media combo that's currently the sweet spot. Sadly, we're still years away from dropping HDDs from that combo - once 1TB+ SSDs drop their price enough, they'll become the new "media drives" with something like this PCIe SSD for booting/apps.

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Red Hat bolts the stable with RHEL 6.7

Richard Lloyd

Just started testing CentOS 7

I've been playing with a CentOS 7 VM at home and for the desktop, adding in the MATE environment via EPEL actually does provide a look and feel not too far away from GNOME 2. It's certainly the best migration route for CentOS 6 GNOME desktop users.

From a sysadmin point of view, there are a fair number of changes - getting used to systemctl instead of init.d scripts/chkconfig takes a bit of time though (luckily, the service command works the same way on 6 and 7, although it's usually just a systemctl alias in 7).

CentOS 7 certainly boots more quickly than 6 thanks to systemd, but I think my gripe is mainly with GRUB 2 to be honest. It introduces a level of complexity to the config that isn't really needed. Gone are the days of just editing grub.conf by hand sadly, which was simple and very obvious.

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Feared OpenSSL vulnerability gets patched, forgery issue resolved

Richard Lloyd

RHEL/CentOS not affected

Probably the most popular Linux server family, RHEL/CentOS, isn't affected and doesn't need to be patched:

https://access.redhat.com/security/cve/CVE-2015-1793

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Number 5 is alive! VirtualBox the fifth debuts

Richard Lloyd

VirtualBox RPMs have the version number in the package name field

Like the packaging fools at LibreOffice, VirtualBox puts the version number in the package name field of its RPMs, which is a major no-no. It means you can't look at the RPM info with "rpm -qi VirtualBox", but have to use something like "rpm -qi VirtualBox-5.0" instead.

It also can prevent you switching up to the next major release depending on how that next release's RPM is presented. I removed my old VirtualBox 4.X RPM-based install and downloaded the 5.0 RPM from the VirtualBox site and manually installed the RPM. This worked nicely and I'm now on 5.0. Apart from one of my VMs (a 32-bit CentOS 6.6) badly scaling the window so all fonts were distorted, it seemed to work OK otherwise.

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Five lightweight Linux desktop worlds for extreme open-sourcers

Richard Lloyd

I have a beefy PC, but still run ye olde GNOME 2

I really don't like Gnome 3 *at all* in its various guises such as Classic, Unity etc. Despite having a beefy PC (i7, 32GB RAM, PCIe SSD), I want a functional desktop with multi-years of support, so there aren't many choices out there - I settled on what perhaps got the closest to my ideal - CentOS 6 (Nov 2020 is the support end-date!).

The fact I can avoid the "downgrade trio" of Gnome 3, Grub 2 and systemd for a few more years is a bonus, though I'm training myself up with a CentOS 7 VM to get used to them (Gnome 3 is highly unpalatable without the MATE Desktop to smooth the transition). I could never get into KDE myself and I never understood why Linux couldn't settle on one desktop and only a few distros (250+ distros is sheer lunacy).

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Kingston offers up its fastest SATA SSD: HyperX Savage 240GB

Richard Lloyd

Er, SATA SSDs are performance-limited, so any review of them is tedious

Sorry, but SATA 3 SSDs are yesterday's news - they were saturating the SATA 3 interface 3 years ago and haven't increased in speed since!

Where's all the reviews of the PCIe SSDs (in their confusingly multiple formats)? That's where the performance is - a shame their price is still a multiple of SATA 3 SSDs, but the price gap has been closing in the last year or two - another 12-18 months and they'll become serious competition to SATA 3 SSDs.

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UK TV is getting worse as younglings shun the BBC et al, says Ofcom

Richard Lloyd

Apart from sport and a massive news story, nothing needs to be watched live

Ever since the advent of home recorders, there's only 2 things I might watch live - a major sports event or a massive news event. Everything else I record, so that I can watch it when I decide to and also FF through the boring bits of course :-)

It does require me to spend 10-15 mins a week scanning through the EPG, but with handy aids like series link (and even Showcase on Freesat), I rarely miss recording anything. Make sure you have twin tuners - there's always clashes!

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Windows 10 is due in one month: Will it be ready?

Richard Lloyd

Re: huh?

"Also the 8.1 upgrade was as easy as installing an app from the store (albeit a very large app)."

8.1 was really a service pack for 8, so it was very mystifying why it never appeared in Windows Update, which is surely where it belonged? I ran Classic Shell on 8 (which anyone with any sanity would do on a desktop), so never even had a store icon in the first place (trying to find the store in that scenario was "fun"). When I went to the store on the release day of 8.1 (and it had been definitely launched, including in the UK) and searched for "Windows 8.1", it found nothing!

Instead, I Googled around (ever tried a search on the MS site...you'll know why Google is your friend) and eventually found the *5* large separate KB downloads (nope, I've no idea why MS didn't have a single offline installer for the 8.1 update..another stupid decision). Got those installed and - voila - 8.1 finally turned up. Not as easy as it sounds then!

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Silicon Valley season closer: Would you like fried servers with that?

Richard Lloyd

Apart from technical errors in episode 8, season 2 was great

I must applaud Silicon Valley for making the second season as enjoyable as the first (and including knob gags - whiteboard in season 1, monkey in season 2 - for laugh out loud moments). Perhaps season 2 episode 8's tequila bottle technical errors were the worst out of all 18 episodes, but that doesn't diminish that this is the best TV comedy I've seen since the much-missed 30 Rock finished (another lampooning insider show).

BTW, season 3 has some new writers and a new producer - see:

http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/blog/techflash/2015/05/new-writers-producercoming-for-season-3-of-hbos.html

Hopefully, the show wil continue to keep up its high standards.

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Silicon Valley, episode 8: Larping, mogging and losing its way

Richard Lloyd

I was enjoying this episode until the tequila bottle nonsense

I thought this episode was fine until the massive technical errors in the final two scenes, which ruined it for me. Here's the list:

* Since when does anyone have a laptop lying around with a prompt saying "Delete 9,000 hours of premium 4K porn, press Delete to confirm"? Delete (or Backspace) is used to delete characters, not to confirm a prompt (which would typically be y, n or Enter), never mind that actually having that prompt up in the first place is utterly ludicrous.

* They were downloading the porn, so there's no need for remote write or delete access at all - anyone competent would have made the files read-only and undeleteable on the remote server.

* Er, backups? *Surely* the downloaded porn wasn't the only copy the porn company they had? Porn companies are IT trailblazers and they most *definitely* would have backups since the files are their lifeblood.

* The final scene where Richard claims files were deleted faster because of the compression algorithm literally makes no sense whatsoever. They were accessing uncompressed original video files, so the deletion of such files has absolutely nothing to do with the compression algorithm.

Yes, I understand that the whole tequila bottle thing was purely for comic effect, but to make so many major technical errors around it really spoiled the joke for me.

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What's broken in this week's build of Windows 10? Installing it, for one

Richard Lloyd

Worked for me...

I just updated to the latest 10130 build from a previous "fast" build this morning and it was fine. Still needed multiple reboots to do so for no good reason and I'm still keeping Classic Shell on even though the Win 10 Start menu is better than Win 8/8.1's.

Now I'm just wondering when my HP Stream 7 will get its Win 10 pre-order pop-up...

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Holy SSH-it! Microsoft promises secure logins for Windows PowerShell

Richard Lloyd

USB sticks, partitions and Windows

I've no idea if MS have finally fixed this, but it always used to amuse me that if you have more than one partition on a USB stick, Windows would only "see" the first one automatically (well, at least assign a drive letter to it - I guess fiddling with Disk Management manually might allow you to map extra drive letters, but that's probably beyond most people...). Put the stick in a Linux box and all the partitions would be mounted fine automatically...

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Fedora 22: Don't be glum about the demise of Yum – this is a welcome update

Richard Lloyd

No MATE love?

I'm a bit surprised that the option to install the MATE desktop wasn't mentioned in the review at all. The first thing I did when running Fedora 22 in a VM was:

dnf groupinstall "MATE Desktop"

Logout and then when you select your user from the login screen, click on the non-obvious gear icon and select MATE as your default login. Your login should now give you a GNOME 2 look-and-feel which for us die-hard users is, just, well, better.

Mind you, if you're not a fan of Fedora's lunatic 6 month update cycle (this is not and never has been a good update interval for any OS ever - I'm looking at you, Ubuntu, too) and the need to upgrade every 2 releases, I'll point you to CentOS 7, which has 10 years of support and once you enable the EPEL repo, also has the option of the MATE Desktop.

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Libre Office comes to Android

Richard Lloyd

Late to the party...

Whilst it's nice that there's an "official" LibreOffice being developed on Android, searching for libreoffice or openoffice on Google Play shows that there's already dozens of alternatives that can handle LO's file formats and many of them developed far beyond what this new official app offers (and a lot of them are free too).

As the review stated, this official app ludicrously dumps you straight into an extremely poor folder view of your Android filestore with many folders missing (e.g. SD card, where you'd probably store your docs!). Tip: Use an Android file manager (I like ES3) and click on your document from there - file assocations should mean it'll fire up the offical app and load in your doc (which I found was rendered by some of the unofficial apps better...oh, the irony).

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Mozilla finds a way to tunnel Firefox into iOS

Richard Lloyd

Re: This "hole" has always been known

The problem Firefox has had on mobile is that from day one (unlike the desktop, where it was fighting awful versions of the IE incumbent for years), the shipped browser on Android (initially just the Browser, then later on switched to Chrome) was "good enough". The same will apply to iOS - the vast majority will stick with Safari.

I do think Apple's policy about forcing the use of WebKit on iOS is horrendous - it stifles innovation and leaves all iOS browsers open to the same bugs (including security issues). Firefox can offer extensions though (a major plus on Android over Chrome and why it still remains the best Android browser), but I doubt that's enough to sway iOS users...it didn't get Android users to switch after all. Being the pre-installed browser on a platform immediately gives you massive market share and you only lose it if the browser is poor and that hasn't happened for a decade or so.

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Robots.txt tells hackers the places you don't want them to look

Richard Lloyd

Welcome to 'olds'

I'm surprised this article hasn't died of old age considering its information has been known for 21 years (i.e. since the robots.txt standard was created in 1994). Yes, it will flag up some sensitive areas, but that's what IP/username/password /2-pass-auth (and so on) restrictions are for. Also note that hackers know where all the common CMS'es have their admin interfaces (most installs don't change that), so they don't need robots.txt to find them.

Although robots.txt can be ignored by "bad" spiders, it's often useful to stop spiders that do read it from battering your site (e.g. constantly hitting a script with varying parameters - a classic one is a calendar that hyperlinks every day even if there's no events plus has nav going backwards and forwards for centuries in either direction :-) ).

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Didn't buy a tablet in Q1? You're not alone

Richard Lloyd

Tablets are now both cheap and "good enough"

Like PC desktops, tablets are now pretty cheap (Apple excepted!) and have good enough specs to keep well beyond the typical 12-18 months refresh period we saw in the early tablet days. Everyone who's interested in a tablet has got one or more already - I personally prefer them to phones because of the larger screen size, though you have to stick to under 9" screens if you also want portability.

Windows tablets gained market share because 8.1 with Bing is free to OEMs, which has allowed for some truly aggressive pricing. Heck, even I bought an HP Stream 7 and I'm by no means a Windows fan (yes, the tiled interface is truly awful in 8.1, even with a touchscreen). For 50 quid, once I'd stuck on Classic Shell and stayed 100% in the desktop, it was cheaper than buying a Win 8.1 license to run in a VM!

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Microsoft: Free Windows 10 for THIEVES and PIRATES? They can GET STUFFED

Richard Lloyd

Will pirates bother "warm" upgrading to Windows 10 anyway?

I always have a policy of cold installs of OS'es (after backing up what I want to keep) instead of "warm" upgrades regardless of whether it's a server, desktop or laptop. That way, you start from a fresh slate and restore back only what you need onto the clean new OS, leaving behind unwanted crud from the older OS.

So surely if pirates have Windows (of any version, even XP) and want to go to Windows 10, wouldn't they just backup stuff they want to keep, cold install a pirated copy of Windows 10 and restore their backed up data? This would make the whole pirate upgrade issue in this article somewhat moot...

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El Reg knocks a fiver off 16GB USB stick

Richard Lloyd

Lack of info

When I buy USB sticks, I need to know:

1. The price (7.99 here).

2. The capacity (16GB here, which of course translates to less in reality).

3. If it's USB 2.0 or 3.0 (no clue on the product page).

4. The read and write speeds in Mbytes/sec (no clue on the product page).

So it's already 50% failed :-( I'll stick with a 64GB Grixx USB 3.0 stick (89 Mbytes/sec read, 30 Mbytes/sec write) for 13.25 quid on 7dayshop.com at the moment.

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Woeful groans over Game of Thrones' spill on piracy sites

Richard Lloyd

I'll wait...

Let me see, it's an SD copy in stereo with a blurred watermark in the corner and if you watch all 4, you'll have to wait another month to see episode 5 (unless 5-8 are leaked soon too!). I think I'll wait for the broadcast version thank you very much...

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Eyes on the prize: Ten 23-24-inch monitors for under £150

Richard Lloyd

24" 1920x1080 - been there, done that 5 years ago

24" 1920x1080 screens were around 125 quid 5 years ago and haven't really dropped since tnen, so this really is a completely yawnsome non-article.

Of *much* more interest is what are the specs and prices of larger monitors, which have actually started to see a gradual price drop in recent years. Prices though, sadly still go exponentially through the roof as you add only a few inches at a time. You can just about get a 2560x1440 (which a few 10" tablets have!) 27" monitor for about 300 quid if you shop around a lot - yep, more than double the price for 3 more inches!

Some good 27/28/30" really hi-res monitors would have been an interesting and useful review. Sorry, but 24" 1080p monitors are a basic commodity now and have been for years.

1
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Don't be stiffed by spies, stand up to Uncle Sam with your proud d**k pics – says Snowden

Richard Lloyd

YouTube video link no use for UK readers

Not great to link to a YouTube video that UK readers can't watch (well, without using block bypassing methods). Maybe a "(US only)" suffix would have been nice?

Sky Atlantic in the UK airs the show a day after the US, but since that's part of a ludicrously overpriced Sky package, it's a no-go area too.

I just get my weekly John Oliver fix via the letter "T", but don't forget he does the occasional (and not US-only) YouTube-only shorts as well.

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Want to have your server pwned? Easy: Run PHP

Richard Lloyd

expose_php=off

I wonder how many installs run expose_php=off in their php.ini, therefore hiding the PHP version and mucking up these stats? As people have said, the latest three (5.4/5.5/5.6) PHP stable releases have all had security fixes, but the researcher claims that they're now magically "secure"? Er, they've just had a few security holes removed from the likely hundreds they still have!

Better research might have determined exactly which PHP versions have a proof of concept/active exploit that is deemed serious and then list the percentages of sites running those versions.

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Grab a SLIM MODEL for Xmas cheer: Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact

Richard Lloyd

Like the specs on this, but a little pricey

This tablet has good specs and a decent aspect ratio (unlike the terrible 4:3 ratio on the Nexus 9, which was a dealbreaker for me), but - like the Nexus 9 - it seems somewhat overpriced to me. It costs the same price as the Galaxy Tab S 10.5" (thanks to a cashback offer), but has nowhere near as good a display.

The Tab S 8.4" and 10.5" models can run CyanogenMod - which is my #1 requirement of *any* Android device so I have no bloatware and frequent updates - and it looks like work has started on CM12 for this Sony tablet. I wouldn't personally consider the Sony until a reasonably complete/stable nightly CM build was available for it. A shame reviewers of Android devices *never* mention CM availability status - to me, it's a major selling point that improves the user experience no end.

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5

YEAR of the PENGUIN: A Linux mobile in 2015?

Richard Lloyd

Can you easily buy a Linux desktop/laptop from a major OEM yet?

Apart from the odd model that Dell sells that's well hidden on their Web site (often with different specs from the Windows model, also doesn't get any of the Dell offers and usually costs the same too!), Linux on the desktop still sticks around a stubborn 1% because you simply can't buy a desktop/laptop easily from a major OEM with Linux pre-installed.

It really doesn't matter how easy Linux is to install and run (and it does both admirably now) if virtually nothing comes with it pre-installed! The average WIndows user *never* does anything "technical" with their OS other than Windows Updates and almost all of them never bother upgrading to the next major Windows release either (they buy a new PC with it pre-installed instead). So the chances of them installing Linux on a Windows PC is near to zero - it's amazing that Linux even has 1% share to be honest.

So this article about Linux desktops/laptops was mostly hot air and some hopelessly wishful thinking about Linux on mobile platforms tacked on the end. Still, you've got to remember that Linux powers much of the Internet and several devices in your home (routers, TVs and PVRs in particular)...

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Feast your eyes: 10 'fortysomething' smart TVs

Richard Lloyd

Why does a TV need to be 'smart' at all?

I'm completely confused as to what benefits at all a "smart TV" has over a dumb one. I'd even like a TV that has *no* tuners or built-in sound at all (just a load of HDMI inputs for external devices/surround sound systems) - yes, I know that's a "monitor", but 40-50" monitors don't really exist at sensible prices (if at all).

After all, tech changes and you want to be able to plug in whatever the latest HDMI external device is, thus completely ignoring any tuners or smart TV facilities built in to the TV. At the moment, I have an Humax HDR 1000S Freesat PVR (neat kit with twin tuners - yes, I like to record TV programmes - shock horror) and a Chromecast plugged into my smart TV plasma and have never, ever bothered tuning in the TV using the built-in Freeview HD tuner! I think I looked at the Panasonic smart interface about twice before abandoning it in pure bewilderment why they even bothered. Next year? Who knows what I'll go for - that's why built-in TV "smarts" (and tuners) are an utter waste of time, IMHO.

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What's MISSING on Amazon Fire Phone... and why it WON'T set the world alight

Richard Lloyd

Needs CM11 and Google apps

If 1) it cost 140 quid in the UK unlocked/off contract and 2) could be rooted and CyanogenMod/Google apps installed, then it might actually be an alternative to the current budget champion (Moto G 2nd gen). Since neither looks likely to happen, this is one big white elephant. Maybe they'll throw a load into their Black Friday deals to get them off their hands?

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Androids in celluloid – which machine deserves the ULTIMATE MOVIE ROBOT title?

Richard Lloyd

A bit difficult to take seriously without the Terminator robots

OK, movie robots - the *immediate* thought is surely The Terminator movie franchise? Which model you pick is up to you (I'm partial to the T800 cos that's the model number of my new Samsung Tab S 10.5" :-) ), but it's frankly a complete joke that The Terminator has been ignored here.

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Top 10 SSDs: Price, performance and capacity

Richard Lloyd

SATA 3 SSDs - performance limit reached years ago

I'm sorry, but it's difficult to get excited about SATA 3 SSDs any more when they reached their performance limit about 2-3 years ago. Sure, the price has dropped a *lot* since then, but the performance has barely moved because of the SATA 3 bottleneck.

It's why I went for a (refurb'ed) PCIe SSD as my most recent SSD purchase. 1600 Mbytes/sec read, 1000 Mbytes/sec write and 200,000 IOPS. Yes, it's still expensive, but it's massively faster than any other SATA 3 SSD out there.

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8

YES, I have ridden the UNICORN: The Ubuntu Utopic unicorn

Richard Lloyd

Re: Ubuntu 14.04

The GNOME 2 issues you've noticed are mostly fixed with some simple tweaks. Right clicking on the GNOME 2 panel and choosing Properties allows you to increase the height of the panel (I use 48 pixels myself), which then auto-scales the icons too, making them much bigger.

Make sure you have the "Windows List" running (panel right click -> Add to panel... if you don't have it), which gives you the list of windows, even if they've minimised, plus a "glow" if there's an update to the window.

Don't forget that GNOME 2 can have 2 panels as well, but I've never seen the point of that (lots of mouse traipsing?) despite a lot of distros bizarrely configuring GNOME 2 that way - at least you can delete the unwanted panels! In fact, what I do with any GNOME 2 install is remove *all* panels and create one at the bottom to my liking (e.g. the GNOME main menu icon in the bottom left, a set of app icons, Window List, notification area and then a clock with seconds [something Windows can't do :-) ]).

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BOFH: The Great Backup BACKDOWN

Richard Lloyd

Re: Stupid request for advice

For a home user, a USB 3 external drive isn't a bad idea, along with your appropriate backup software of choice (on Linux, something like rsync isn't too bad, but you might want to rotate its destination dir to keep more than one backup on the external drive). I have an IcyBox USB 3 enclosure with a relatively cheap and fast Seagate 3TB HDD stuffed inside - seems to do the job OK and I get 100+ MB/sec write speed, which you really want if it's media you're backiing up.

You probably want something that will regularly nag you to backup (or can be hooked into your shutdown sequence) - remember that most of the time, the USB drive will be turned off, so you need something at least to prompt you to turn it on!

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The END of the FONDLESLAB KINGS? Apple and Samsung have reason to FEAR

Richard Lloyd

It's the price, surely?

The reason Apple and Samsung are losing market share is surely the price of their gadgets? Apple have a massive (and unjustified) mark-up on all their hardware and Samsung have either under-spec'ed and/or overpriced pretty well all their Android tablets in their history.

Samsung have finally produced a tablet to match/beat the iPad Air - the recently launched Galaxy Tab S - and what do they go and do? Set the RRP *higher* than the iPad Air! All they had to do was price it at 10 quid less and it would probably fly off the shelves (no sale to me until CyanogenMod works on it, because you really don't want Samsung bloatware).

It also doesn't help that Samsung have released far too many phones/phablets/tablets in recent years (something HTC was hugely guilty of several years back with their phone range) - there's a bewildering number of Samsung models out there and it can be quite confusing to differentiate between them.

Update: Looks like Expansys have the Tab S 10.5" in at 324.99 pounds (as a "pre-order" despite it already having been launched - I think they mean it's out of stock and they'll get more stock at some point). At this price point, it's surely *the* tablet to buy right now?

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