* Posts by DrXym

4293 posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

Oi, Elon: You Musk sort out your Autopilot! Tesla loyalists tell of code crashes, near-misses

DrXym
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Hardly surprising

Any software engineer worth their salt could tell you the immense difficulty of capturing analogue data, modelling it, and translating that model via a set of rules into an action. And repeating that continuously in real time. The more variables and ambiguity that are present in the input, the more likely it is to screw up in the output. In a 2 ton vehicle going at 70mph along a road with other traffic, that could be positively fatal.

I wouldn't trust any autonomous mode unless it requires an alert and attentive human being at the wheel and forces their attention. At least that way the human can veto or correct the car's actions.

This isn't exclusive to Tesla. Any autonomous vehicle that claims it can drive itself in limited, or unlimited circumstances still requires oversight. Otherwise it will do something dumb and/or dangerous and there will be no human paying attention to stop it.

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Huawei Mate 20 Pro: If you can stomach the nagware and price, it may be Droid of the Year

DrXym
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I don't know why people buy these

The hardware is nice but the software is superficially attractive but has *horrible* usability. As for the lack of a headphone jack, they should hang their heads in shame.

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Dollar for dollar, crafting cryptocurrency sucks up 'more energy' than mining gold, copper, etc

DrXym
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Re: Virtual money has real-world consequences

That's already happened to some degree. It's relatively easy to start up a new crypto currency, mine out the easy coins and then sucker people into "investing" in it. Cryptocurrency has shades of ponzi, pyramid and pump & dump schemes.

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Woke Linus Torvalds rolls his first 4.20, mulls Linux 5.0 effort for 2019

DrXym
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Bring back the old Linus

There was absolutely nothing wrong about the way he conducted himself. He was forthright, pragmatic, principled and even when he went into rant mode he still backed up the rant with reason and logic. One of the reasons Linux even is the thing it is these days is because it had a strong leader at the helm who wouldn't suffer second rate code or bullshit in his project.

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With the 6T, OnePlus hopes to shed 'cheeky upstart' tag and launch assault on flagships

DrXym
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Re: No headphone jack

I have a OnePlus 5 and I have no intention of buying a newer model if they're going to cheap out by removing a headphone jack. There is zero technical reason for this - it consumes a miniscule amount of space and it costs pennies.

The only reason to remove it to cynically force people to buy bluetooth earbuds. To hell with them.

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Official: IBM to gobble Red Hat for $34bn – yes, the enterprise Linux biz

DrXym
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Lucky Red Hat!

Now RH workers can experience the delights of strict working hours, strict working attire, bullshit inhouse software for their daily routine (yay Lotus Notes!), petty rules designed to bump up the attrition rate, and the ever looming threat of mass layoffs.

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I ship you knot: 2,400-year-old Greek trading vessel found intact at bottom of Black Sea

DrXym
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Re: I wonder if the sails are intact?

The BBC site says the wreck was powered by sail and oars so the answer was probably no.

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Is this cuttlefish really all that cosmic? Ubuntu 18.10 arrives with extra spit, polish, 4.18 kernel

DrXym
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Ubuntu's decision to put the menus at the top of the screen was a usability disaster. I could see how it might make sense on a very small screen where vertical space matters. But for most desktop users, it just makes it a pain in the arse to use menus.

Likewise the decision to hide scrollbars. Hiding them may make sense on small screens, but if you have the space, it just increases the effort to scroll things.

It was smart to finally dump Unity for GNOME shell. I'm not sure about the decision to go back from Wayland - perhaps for a LTS release it makes sense but they should be doing their best to take X out of the baseline and defaulting back to Wayland would hasten that transition.

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Pixel 3 XL reveals innards festooned with glue and... Samsung?

DrXym
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Re: What is the point of a thin, glass backed phone

"These things are both stronger than they appear to be and are just fine if looked after. I'm not saying glass is the most sensible choice, it's not but it does look good."

I'm sure it does look good, but the reality is people put their phones in bumpers so they never see the back. So they've gotten a phone with a case compromised by material and being thin for no reason.

Glass also tends to shatter when subjected to shock. Glass covers may have contain a layer of laminate to stop them flying apart but they still turn into crazy paving. Plastic absorbs shocks better and is more likely to just dent or have a localized crack.

The reason glass, or aluminium are used as build materials are to make the phone appear to be expensive, to justify the higher price point. Not for any practical benefit.

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DrXym
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What is the point of a thin, glass backed phone

It's so fragile that the very first thing an owner needs to do is buy a phone cover, bulking it out and protecting the glass andnegating any reason for doing in the first place. Just make thicker, more rugged phones out of plastic FFS.

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Android creator Andy Rubin's firm might think its phone is Essential, but 30% of staff are not

DrXym
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I really liked the look of the Essential phone

Personally I thought it was a very interesting phone. One of the first that I know of that had a "notch". It even had a notch even before people claimed Apple invented it.

Sadly the price turned out to be a major turnoff. It would have sold like hotcackes if it were OnePlus priced.

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Huawei's Watch GT snubs Google for homegrown OS

DrXym
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All modern kernels provide the underpinnings that a smart watch requires and stripped down would have similar memory and power footprints. There is nothing special about QNX which would make it magically work better than the same watch running a Mach, Linux, NT or some other kernel.

What matters *far* more is what the operating system above the kernel is doing with itself and the active display on the device. The display alone might eat up 80-90% of the power.

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Leaked memo: No internet until you clean your bathroom, Ecuador told Julian Assange

DrXym
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"I don't think the Swedish prison was the issue rather the Swedish extradition treaty with the US."

As opposed to now where his self-inflicted situation has merely deprived him of his liberty for those years and any extradition/sentence (if they are forthcoming) will be consecutive to that. Great plan.

If he had promptly surrendered to Swedish authorities his likely rape sentence would have be a year or two (assuming convicted) and even if he'd been extradited to the US and sentenced, then chances are he'd be through the better part of that by now. Instead he has all that to look forward to.

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Your RSS is grass: Mozilla euthanizes feed reader, Atom code in Firefox browser, claims it's old and unloved

DrXym
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Re: Feedbro

Correction - a lot of unmaintained addons no longer work. And as you say, if you need to use them, then there are browser forks where you can do it.

Of course your fork will have worse performance than the mainline because the reason Firefox changed to WebExtensions was so it could run across processes for better security and performance. The old API assumed the entire UI was single threaded which is no longer the case.

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DrXym
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Feedbro

It's an extension for Firefox. It's MUCH better than the integrated and rather crappy RSS bookmarks anyway since it opens a nice 3-pane window where you can arrange all your feeds and preview them.

I'm not sure where the hate for Firefox comes from BTW. It's extensible so there is little reason to encumber it with things if they can be done by an extension.

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Microsoft reveals xlang: Cross-language, cross-compiler and coming to a platform near you

DrXym
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Not a new thing

Lots of languages can "bind" to others, usually by providing the means to link to static C libraries or call C functions dynamically. Usually this entails somebody or some tool producing a bindings file which allows the caller to understand the structs and functions used by the implementation.

I suppose if it were possible to export a language neutral definition of an API as part of the build, then theoretically any other language could consume that definition without somebody having to write a bunch of bindings.

I should note this wouldn't be the first time Microsoft have tried this. It used to be possible to import a type library (.tlb file) into C++ and call OLE objects whose interfaces were automatically produced by the compiler. It wasn't necessary to know what language implemented the objects because it was all COM/OLE.

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Apache OpenOffice, the Schrodinger's app: No one knows if it's dead or alive, no one really wants to look inside

DrXym
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Re: The only thing going for OpenOffice...

You turn it off from the File | Options > Autocorrect settings. I expect the majority of people want the default behaviour. LibreOffice has autocorrect too, but not for that.

While Powerpoint has its own annoyances, Impress is just replete with lots of little things like this - lack of snap alignment, lack of positive feedback when dragging and dropping connectors, flickery UI, a profusion of buttons all over the toolbar and right hand side (e.g. the toolbar has thirteen(!) toolbar buttons for shapes and lines to do what the Shapes drop down does in one on Powerpoint). It just goes on.

That doesn't mean it is unusable but it feels janky, complicated and visually noisy compared to PowerPoint. And usually for no reason. Same too for the other apps in the suite.

I think the first and foremost goal for LibreOffice 7.x / 8.x should be usability, trying to remove all this "sand" and making a product which is slick and usable.

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DrXym
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The only thing going for OpenOffice...

... is its name. LibreOffice is not a good name. It was still a good thing when it was forked though. Sun/Oracle were terrible stewards and pure frustration forced the hand of external devs who wanted to land substantial improvements but couldn't.

Even so, I think LibreOffice is losing its way somewhat too. It should be focussing far more on usability, task-centric design and forgiveness than it does. A trivial example - type "* Hello", or "1. Hello", into Powerpoint and it automatically becomes a bulleted / numbered list. In Impress you have to manually fiddle with paragraph settings make this happen. Annoyances like this are all over the place - it's death by a thousand cuts.

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Google now minus Google Plus: Social mini-network faces axe in data leak bug drama

DrXym
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Hang on

It's terrible that Google didn't find this bug but if their review found it was never exploited, then why not just fix the issue and move on?

As for why G+ didn't take off, I'd suggest because it did nothing better than Facebook or Twitter and in some regards was very annoying. I used it a few times, but it kept bugging me to fill in more information about myself, link to people, say where I went to University etc. Unskippable, permanent nag boxes in the feeds. That's the kind of annoying crap you pull when your service is indispensible, not when you're desperate to get users to your platform.

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Holy smokes! US watchdog sues Elon Musk after he makes hash of $420 Tesla tweet

DrXym
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Re: Conspiracy theories

And yes indeed, the stock price tanked. 10% down.

Imagine if the company had a CEO who knew when to keep his damned mouth shut.

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DrXym
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Conspiracy theories

What is interesting is how True Believers are already framing this as some kind of conspiracy when the truth is so much more mundane.

Musk got himself into this mess with a really dumb tweet. There was no concrete plan to take Tesla private, and the only reason he tweeted at all was to screw over some short sellers.

It backfired terrible, and probably made the short selling even worse. The stock price hasn't recovered since and I suspect today's news will see it tumble again when the markets open.

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'Incommunicado' Assange anoints new WikiLeaks editor in chief

DrXym
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"Held"

He can walk out any time.

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Amazon Alexa outage: Voice-activated devices are down in UK and beyond

DrXym
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Thankfully I'm not affected

I tested my lights and my alarm and they still respond to finger commands.

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A story of M, a failed retailer: We'll give you a clue – it rhymes with Charlie Chaplin

DrXym
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My perspective

I've walked into a Maplins, seen something I wanted to buy, seen the price of the item and walked out again without buying it.

Simply put they were too expensive. Not just high-street-markup expensive, but taking-the-piss expensive. Sometimes 5-10x markup, especially on cables and AV plugs.

If their clientele were idiots then maybe they'd have gotten away with it, but I suspect most of them were technically proficient and quite capable of looking up stuff on the internet and ordering from there instead. Even their own website was expensive possibly because they were scared of cannibalizing store sales. Dumb idea.

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HP Ink should cough up $1.5m for bricking printers using unofficial cartridges – lawsuit

DrXym
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Re: Epson

I had an Epson printer which used chips and it would "randomly" brick 3rd party cartridges and refuse to read them again.

It was one and only time I used a printer with chipped carts and I will never repeat that mistake.

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Deliveroo to bike food to hungry fanbois queuing to buy iPhones

DrXym
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And after the food

I wonder if there is a gig economy company that delivers a bucket for them to crap in and takes it away afterwards.

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Flying to Mars will be so rad, dude: Year-long trip may dump 60% lifetime dose of radiation on you

DrXym
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Career != Lifetime

Headline says one thing, article says another.

However I expect for astronauts in space the "recommended" max dose is not reflective of the max dose that people on earth. Even people like flight crew probably wouldn't get anywhere close to it.

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Brits pay £490m extra for mobes they already own – Citizens Advice

DrXym
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SIM free

Buy a SIM free phone and a SIM only contract or PAYG. In return you get

- A phone that works on any network and does not need to be unlocked.

- A phone that doesn't have a bunch of network specific crapware / restrictions baked into it.

- A bill that doesn't cost any more over all than the locked in-version with the benefit that you don't have to alter it when the contract term completes.

- Gives you more choice of contract terms, plans and network operators

Of course the easiest option to stop consumers being ripped off is if the government were to simply ban phone bundling - require the phone and the contract to be separate purchases. Failing that, to force operators to drop the plan to the equivalent SIM only contract once the phone is paid for.

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First Boeing 777 (aged 24) makes its last flight – to a museum

DrXym
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Re: Still have the book

The engine stuff is ETOPS certification. Originally trans-Atlantic / trans-Pacific jets had to have 4 engines in case one flamed out but the 777 only has two but had to prove it could fly on just one engine for 120 minutes if there was a problem.

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DrXym
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Still have the book

21st century jet which was about its design. It was actually very interesting reading as was the accompanying TV series.

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What's Big and Blue – and makes its veteran staff sue? Yep, it's IBM

DrXym
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I am shocked

I am truly shocked to hear that IBM of all companies is trying to get rid of people on the flimsiest and potentially illegal of circumstances.

Let's hope we don't learn that IBM has been making life intolerable and shitty for its workforce in a cynical ploy to force as many of them leave as possible so they can avoid the cost of laying them off.

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No wonder Oracle exec Kurian legged it – sky darkens as cloudy tech does not make it rain

DrXym
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Re: The world has changed and Oracle hasn't.

"That's the problem with a lot of businesses - their beancounters who treat one of the most significant engines of the business as a cost to be minimised."

I suspect, more likely is that the beancounter discovers the business has signed some horrific contract to buy a site licence to software X for ever and ever, in perpetuity and nearly has a heart attack.

I know from bitter experience of being on the receiving end that if you want to enjoy the double benefits of bleeding cash and hamstringing your workers then a site license is the way to go. Guaranteed you'll end up with some shitty overfeatured, arcane, barely usable software for your money.

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DrXym
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Once bitten twice shy

I'd be amazed if anyone who had dealings with Oracle would ever, under any circumstances, want anything to do with them ever again.

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Probably for the best: Apple makes sure eSIMs won't nuke the operators

DrXym
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eSIMs make so much sense

With some provisos eSIMs some really interesting potential functionality falls out of being just software on a device.

The phone could intelligently choose the best SIM out of my collection for the location I'm in. I could "pin" the main SIM for incoming calls, but set data and outgoing calls through my roaming SIM. I could buy SIMs and have them sent to my phone. Phone networks could even allow me to connect and purchase a SIM when I roam their network for the first time. SIMs could have properties like expiring after 30 days or after the credit is used up etc.

The provisos I would see being necessary are the ability to transfer SIMs between devices, the ability to add any SIM, and limits on what operators can do to lock a phone to their network, restrict its functionality, or to prevent me removing their software SIM if I choose to switch.

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You'll never guess what you can do once you steal a laptop, reflash the BIOS, and reboot it

DrXym
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So in summary

If you happen to be running a device that runs a very specific BIOS, AND it was left in standby, AND it was encrypted, AND the device is easy to crack open (most ultrabooks aren't), AND it was stolen by technologically savvy hackers AND they have the exact custom firmware to flash that make and model, AND they know what they're looking for THEN you should be worried?

I can think of easier modes of attack.

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Apple in XS new sensation: Latest iPhone carries XS-sive price tag

DrXym
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Apple are really slipping

Dual sim is something many Android phones have sported for years. It's kind of embarassing for Apple to announce it as if its some big deal.

I'm still somewhat perplexed why they didn't go through with their software sim idea from a few years back. Then in theory a phone could hold multiple "sims" and you could flip between them at will.

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Microsoft: You don't want to use Edge? Are you sure? Really sure?

DrXym
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Edge: "What's my purpose?"

Everyone: "You download the better browser we want to use"

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Tesla's chief accounting officer drives off after just a month on the job

DrXym
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Re: Musk did get one thing right

The Guardian certainly has an insufferable side to it, particularly some of the columnists, but it is still one of the most trustworthy newspapers out there. Not least because it isn't controlled by tax dodging newspaper proprietors so it has a tendency to be more independent and free about what it reports.

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DrXym
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Musk's worst enemy

Is himself. There is no doubting he is a visionary and he has pushed his businesses further than anyone else would dare.

At the same time even a visionary needs a filter to stop the stupid from bubbling up to the top. On top of that he is clearly overworking himself and the pressure / ambien means the stupid has joined forces with impetuous and nasty. It's just one bad news story after another and the stock has taken a massive hit.

It's probably why Tesla announced a bunch of promotions on Friday. Hopefully it's the company stepping up (or intervening) to relieve Musk of some of his duties and hopefully impose some normality on their business. Musk is fine as a figure head and a visonary but he needs to step back and allow some of his subordinates to do what they're there to do.

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Official: Google Chrome 69 kills off the World Wide Web (in URLs)

DrXym
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The url is the enemy

All browsers are conflating the address bar and search into the one thing. The reason has less to do with usability and more to do with greed.

If the user types an unambiguous url then Google, Microsoft et al don't get an opportunity to deliver ads. So they'd rather users type a vague, ambiguous search term and then profit from ad keywords and ad impressions that appear in the results.

Thus the url is the enemy. Hiding the url or lopping bits off it is just an attempt to diminish its importance over time and increase the reliance on the search engine.

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Hello 'WOS': Windows on Arm now has a price

DrXym
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Strangely enough

If Microsoft want to get away from x86 then step 1 is change all the toolchains to emit platform neutral binaries. e.g. LLVM bitcode. When the user runs the exe for the first time the OS can compile it. If software is platform neutral then over time perhaps the hardware won't matter too much.

At present, a version of Windows for ARM will go as well as a lead balloon. Just like all the other times MS have tried to port away from x86 without laying the groundwork.

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ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

DrXym
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The consolation prize

At least the rarity of these pieces of crap will probably become collectible in time and might actually sell for more than they were initially worth.

Still though, it highlights the folly of paying up front for a product that doesn't exist hoping it will appear at some unspecified point in the future in some form. Or not.

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Amazon, ditch us? But they can't do without us – Oracle

DrXym
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Eating its own dog food

Amazon is basically a database / storage company in their own right these days. There is no sense in paying a competitor to store data when they have their own software that should be capable of doing the job.

And honestly I really don't read of many deployments of Oracle where the expense and lock-in is remotely justified by the alleged benefits of the software itself.

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Ecuador's Prez talking to UK about Assange's six-year London Embassy stay – reports

DrXym
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Re: My Two Pence.

I think it's also noteworthy how Wikileaks almost exclusively targets the US and western democracies and constantly seeks to undermine them, e.g. by supporting separatist movements and other divisive issues.

And yet they have nary a bad thing to say about oppressive regimes or the people in them. It's also funny how they played a pivotal role during the US election, trying to pass emails stolen from the DNC and Hillary Clinton.

It's almost as though they've been a front for Russian intelligence for a very long time.

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Another German state plans switch back from Linux to Windows

DrXym
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The OS shouldn't matter

What matters is the document formats that people exchange with each other. If one person working from home wants to run Windows then fine, let them do it. But it should be on the proviso that all their submissions are PDF, web based, or open document standards.

I don't see why switching to Windows is a good idea for the council here. It certainly won't be easier to administer and it is virtually guaranteed that the time and cost required to buy new hardware, administer the machines, scan for viruses, fix malware, monitor for threats will sky rocket.

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Hooray: Google App Engine finally ready for Python 3 (and PHP 7.2)

DrXym
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Re: Being a python developer...

I couldn't care a less about whitespace - a code formatter will sort that out. I'm more referring to the equivocation over 2.x and 3.x and the subsequent wasting of time backporting stuff from 3 to 2, writing compatibility shims and other uncertainty that comes from not dumping 2.x a long time ago.

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DrXym
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Being a python developer...

... must feel like standing on two stools which are slowly sliding apart.

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Google Chrome: HTTPS or bust. Insecure HTTP D-Day is tomorrow, folks

DrXym
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Re: Now how about a way to get a hassle free cert

"So you want certificates that anyone can get, with no effort or being subject to stringent checks?"

Yes.

"What would be the point of those certs?"

They're better than plaintext is the point. They allow any website to encrypt their traffic so it is not visible or cached by proxies, sniffers etc. In addition if they are coupled with a service such as SSL lighthouse, the browser can check that the cert is the same one other visitors to the site see and warn the user if it is not.

It doesn't stop somebody buying a cert if they want. I'm quite certain that browsers could imbue a cert with "trust" on a scale based on who signed it or not.

"The cost results from maintaining a certificate authority that, theoretically, checks that someone actually is who they say they are. "

That's the point. Theoretically.

Browsers maintain a list of hundreds of CAs. It only takes a few bad actors and the whole concept collapses. Occasionally a CA gets delisted but not half as much as it probably should.

Besides that, many CAs barely do more than check a passport or government doc and hand out certs like candy. It's little more than an inconvenience of money / time sink to get the damned things. A tax on security.

The concept of signing with CA and becoming "trusted" is nonsensical. Maybe if I'm a bank I want to pay a CA to come around and audit how I store my key. Somebody running a gardening tips website just wants a cert that makes a scary browser icon go away.

Certs should be able to scale between these two cases.

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DrXym
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Now how about a way to get a hassle free cert

It's great that Google are doing this but it would have been even better if there were a simple, convenient way for sites to obtain a cert that:

a) Doesn't require any major effort to obtain. i.e. I should not have to pay money or submit government documentation, or undergo a rectal exam just for a cert.

b) Has an expiration period that I can choose. Maybe some people like their certs to expire every 12 months. Personally I'm happy for my cert to go years, decades unless I explicitly revoke it myself. IMO the main reason they expire so quick is repeat customers.

c) Doesn't cost any money. CAs are basically a tax on trust.

Things like Let's Encrypt have tried to make it easier to get a free key but it's still way too difficult. Just let me fill in a form, do a simple site ownership check (e.g. uploading a file to a path on the server) and get a key.

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Wearable hybrids prove the bloated smartwatch is one of Silly Valley's biggest mistakes

DrXym
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Re: Smart watches should be simple

I might have been interested in the Pebble but they looked so ugly and TBH they still had issues with proprietariness which is why when the store went they had their own issues.

When you think about it why are smart watches tethered to a specific phone, phone operating system or infrastructure at all. It shouldn't be hard to devise a number of open protocols that are able to cover 95% of the things people want to do in a smart watch - date & time config, audio / music streaming with trick play, timers/events/notifications, biometrics, voice control & input, location / directions, simple HTML+JS app framework.

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