* Posts by DrXym

4058 posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

Apple to Europe: It's our job to design Ireland's tax system, not yours

DrXym
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"It proper annoys me that the Irish Government don't want the money. That €13 billion could be pumped in to training skilled workers to improve the economy, instead of the reliance on semi-skilled workers who can get shafted by the likes of Dell when they want to move their manufacturing facilities to other parts of the EU."

The Irish government wouldn't be entitled to the money. If they took receipt of it then all of the rest of Europe would be in line demanding a cut of the cash. I expect Ireland's cut if that happened would be a lot less than 13 billion, amounting to revenues within the state as opposed to revenues collected from other states.

Secondly, Ireland has hundreds of thousands of people working for multinationals. It would be tempting to sell one of the multinationals out for a chunk of cash but it might have serious consequences in the long term.

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In colossal shock, Uber alleged to be wretched hive of sexism, craven managerial ass-covering

DrXym
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Re: Bad Uber

"Indeed, it took long enough to catch John Worboys and that was a black cab."

A police background check is no cast-iron guarantee that all the rotten apples will be removed. It's still better than a system that DOESN'T have a police background check. Just google for the number of illegal taxi drivers convicted of rape, violent crimes, drunk driving, without insurance etc.

At the very least Uber drivers should be required under law to undergo the exact same checks on themselves and the suitability of their vehicle to carry passengers as a cab driver would.

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DrXym
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I'm certainly surprised

Uber have such a stellar record on employee rights. I just don't understand how this is possible.

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Google claims ‘massive’ Stagefright Android bug had 'sod all effect'

DrXym
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Kind of obvious really

The main threats to people are downloading warez and dodgy "sexy screensaver" apps that wants permissions to make calls. There are also occasional Chinese OEM phones with malicious apps preinstalled.

I expect most people running brand devices and using the Google store are completely safe. Of course if they check their brains in at the door and install some APK that promises a free game, movies or whatever then they could be in for a nasty shock. But sometimes freedom also means the freedom to make stupid decisions.

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Two words, Mozilla: SPEED! NOW! Quit fiddling and get serious

DrXym
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Re: The long term plan

"Bahh. Nonsense. Firefox's speed problem isn't thagt it takes too long to render a page. No-one even notices that. It's speed problem is that it doesn't hand you the UI RIGHT NOW when you open a new tab or window."

Usability is an orthogonal problem.

The speed of rendering in the browser is the main serious issue. Browsers have more and more tabs open and they're running on devices that have multiple cpu and gpu cores. Devices like phones may have 4 cpu cores and a GPU yet the browser runs predominantly on a single thread. The current generation of engines struggle to utilise the hardware efficiently because writing safe, efficient multithreaded code is horribly complex and very hard to retrofit. Utilising the hardware properly would make it run like butter.

And if you want some esoteric Ctrl+T behaviour you could probably implement it through an extension assuming one doesn't exist for that purpose already.

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DrXym
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The long term plan

Mozilla is developing a highly parallel browser engine called Servo which can take advantage of multicore CPUs and GPUs to render content faster and more slickly. In the meantime they're backporting some of the ideas that came out of Servo into the existing code base.

Mozilla have already been through this sort of generational leap before. When Netscape open sourced their browser it ran on the Netscape 4.x codebase which was pretty creaky. So they developed NGLayout as its replacement. It took a few years for that to mature sufficiently but once it did it formed the basis of Mozilla and then Firefox.

I expect Servo will go through a similar maturation and transition phase and then it'll become the new thing.

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Crims in £160m broadband scam facing 44 years of porridge

DrXym
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Refreshing

It's good to see white collar crims get lengthy prison sentences

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Prepare your popcorn: Wikipedia deems the Daily Mail unreliable

DrXym
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Re: It might not be the Newspaper of Record...

It might have reporters but they've never heard of a thing called veracity, or if they have they ran a mile in the other direction to avoid it.

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IBM's Marissa Mayer moment: Staff ordered to work in one of 6 main offices – or face the axe

DrXym
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Seems par for the course

IBM has been going through a lot of layoffs in the last few years. All these petty rules and changes to working conditions are merely a way to get rid of people "voluntarily" to spare IBM the trouble of paying for a severance package.

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Brexit White Paper published: Broad strokes, light on detail

DrXym
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Business must be delighted

Two sets of red tape to deal with plus all the delays and bullshit of customs, tariffs, export controls etc. Not to mention the added difficulty of hiring qualified staff.

Anyone who thinks this was or is a good idea needs their head examined.

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Apple eats itself as iPhone fatigue spreads

DrXym
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Removing the headphone jack was just dumb

The only reason it was done to sell proprietary and licensed headphones that only worked on Apple devices. This is par for the course for Apple but perhaps this time they've pushed their fanbase a little too far.

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Modular dud drags LG to first loss in six years

DrXym
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Re: Modular was always a silly idea

It's not about having lock-in or not. Modularity is just a dumb idea. Google tried it with Project Ara which is now on ice.

Just think of the complexities of making every component of a phone interchangeable. It means you have to specify the dimensions of each component, that each component needs a pinout, bus, voltage so it can talk with what it connects to. It needs rails and connectors to slide and lock into place. The phone OS isn't going to magically recognise some random component so either all the drivers are baked in or they are somehow fetched.

At the very least it means a bulkier phone (for all the plastic, rails, pins) and jankier software. And 2 or 3 years down the line Ara 2 would turn out and wouldn't be backwards compatible for some reason or another, or backwards compatibility would impede what modules could do even further.

It's a lot of mess and complexity to achieve something that nobody wanted in the first place. There are enough phones out there to suit everyone. Having a device that could be built up to something that can be bought for less money makes no sense.

I'm all for serviceable phones however. I think LG deserve plaudits for the serviceability of the G7 but not the modules.

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DrXym
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Modular was always a silly idea

It's one thing to make a device *serviceable* to prolong its useful life and make it easier to repair.

But selling modules consumer is supposed to switch in is a recipe for failure. Why would someone buy an expensive phone + module to do what they get from another phone for less money?

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Chevy Bolt electric car came alive, reversed into my workbench, says stunned bloke

DrXym
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Not surprised the parking brake is so mysterious to Americans

Manual vehicles need a handbrake more, especially on hills and when taking a car in and out of neutral. Automatics tend to creep forward so the handbrake isn't used so much. Cars are just left in park unless parked on a hill or something.

Aside from that, the driving test and instructors in manual gear countries will teach people to put the car in neutral at lights and apply the handbrake. I realise bad habits mean people don't use the handbrake as much as they're supposed to and you can sometimes hold the car with the clutch at biting point. But at least people are aware of a thing called a handbrake and habitually use it more than an automatic car driver would.

Many modern manuals cars have electronic handbrakes that apply automatically when the ignition is turned off. I don't see why an electric vehicle shouldn't at least do the same.

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College fires IT admin, loses access to Google email, successfully sues IT admin for $250,000

DrXym
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Extortion

The guy's mistake was to demand $200,000 opening himself up to charges of extortion. He should have just point blank refused to cooperate. It's not his problem they're locked out. They fired him, they can deal with the aftermath.

As for questioning people using Gmail. Gmail for business is quite good which is why lots of companies use it. It's certainly not suitable for every place, but it beats having to run, administer and backup email servers for small businesses or those without the resources for a full IT department.

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Playpen child sex abuse archive admin gets 20 years in the Big House

DrXym
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I hope he enjoys his time

He'll probably have to be secluded due to the high risk of being assaulted the second any other prisoner finds out what he's in for. Time will pass very slowly indeed.

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FM now stands for 'fleeting mortality' in Norway

DrXym
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Re: DAB+

The issue of channel switching is a multitude of things - the poor bitrate of audio codec and buffering (fixed by DAB+), the sparcity and power output of transmitters (a commercial decision), and how the groups of channels that are muxed to the same frequency (a commercial decision).

None of these are a problem of the tech per se but the implementation. Some people seem to things are A-OK with crappy DAB and crappy FM. Both could be fixed with some direction.

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DrXym
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Re: DAB+ DrXym

" No its more like going from 4K back to SD, most of the DAB channels are mono rather than stereo and at bit rates that give audio quality up there with telephone hold music."

No it's more a case of DAB+ is demonstrably better than FM in every way and that's where the UK should be going. DAB is crap however which is why UK needs to demonstrate some backbone.

DAB+ should be promoted and FM should be end of lifed in the short term. DAB can transition and end of life. Some people don't appear to comprehend this. Probably the same people flicking over 50+ channels of terrestrial TV without recognizing the irony.

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DrXym
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Re: DAB+ DrXym

"Its more a question of replacing 4K full colour TV with 4K full colour TV with seriously reduced reception and usability cos 'new is better even if it really isn't'

I don't even know what you're talking about here.

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DrXym
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Re: DAB+ @DrXym

"I totally agree that DAB was rolled out in the UK too early, but it's always difficult difficult to change things once they're generally (if you can say this about DAB) adopted."

No it isn't, not really. All that needs to happen is the appropriate regulatory authority mandates that new kit adopts the new tech and announce that the old tech is going to be switched off on such a date. There is a reasonable period of notice, an overlapping period during which the old and new tech operate side by side to encourage adoption. And then you stick to this timetable.

Attrition will mean that by the time the date rolls around the majority of people probably have kit that plays the new tech anyway. This has happened enough times for enough tech in enough countries to know it works just fine. It will work fine in Norway.

The only result of dithering is you now have two technologies to support and all the expense and waste of spectrum that goes with it.

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DrXym
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Re: DAB+

Yes it is a great idea. It means you get to watch TV in high definition, with more channels, while using less of the radio spectrum.

Though perhaps you prefer 4:3 405 line monochrome analogue because nothing should change ever.

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DrXym
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DAB+

Every country should start dumping FM and free the space for DAB+ with a plan to sunset DAB a few years on from that.

The problem with digital radio was it came too soon, at least in the UK. DAB uses a crappy MP2 audio codec. DAB+ flipped to AAC allowing better quality for a lower bitrate.

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Splunk: Why we dumped Perforce for Atlassian's Bitbucket of Gits

DrXym
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Doesn't surprise me

These days decentralized VCS is *normally* the way to go and Git is the defacto choice here. If I were setting up any software project I'd choose git first unless there were a reason not to. I ported a very large project from CVS to Git a few years ago - trivial merges and updates went from taking 20 minutes down to seconds. Even compared to Subversion it's fast and stuff like merging / rebasing is just so much easier. One interesting thing about git is that the entire cloned repository with all its history often takes up less space on disk than a single Subversion snapshot because svn preserves a pristine copy of every file you checkout to save itself a roundtrip when looking for changes.

The main reason I might choose a centralized system would be a repo with millions of files, lots of changes, lots of binary data, Word docs, CAD files etc. Most centralized repos allow people to snapshot just a bit of it in an ad hoc fashion. Git can do a shallow clone but generally treats the repo as an atomic entity which is cloned in its entirety or not. Git can only workaround this with submodules or subtrees and certainly not in an ad hoc fashion.

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My fortnight eating Blighty's own human fart-powder

DrXym
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Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

"Almost. This isn't just designed to give calories, it's made to give a balance of the stuff you need to live, long term. Not much joy in that path, I'm sure, but it should work."

Except that in the absence of long term studies showing the life expectancy or health outcomes of people eating Huel shakes every day for their entire lives versus other diets, there is no basis in fact for making that claim.

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DrXym
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Re: I really don't see the point

"If you enjoy preparing food, great! Just don't assume that everyone else enjoys it too."

I think you'll find virtually everyone enjoys it to some degree. Even if the "preparation" is merely putting some bread in a toaster, boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, or dipping a biscuit in the tea. Even Huel aficionados presumably derive some pleasure from shaking their mixer to derive their food.

Now perhaps you aren't one of those people, but if it makes you happy, you may add "in general" to the front.

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DrXym
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Re: I really don't see the point

"Aha - the difference is that this has all that is actually needed to fuel a human (thus the name). Even consuming all a n energy bar, cup-a-soup, pot noodle and sandwich *combined* won't give you the nutrients that Huel (or similar - other products are available) will."

Bollocks. People conspicuously manage to not drop like flies from eating normal food. One can only assume from that fact that they're getting more than adequate nutrients and calories from the food they eat.

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DrXym
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Re: Hipsters discover SlimFast...

Slimfast, whey protein, powdered egg, soy, powdered soup etc.

In WW2, the lifeboats had this crap called pemmican which was a paste made from fat, meat, flour, fruit, sugar etc. Basically emergency food that packed the biggest calorific punch in the smallest space.

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DrXym
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Re: I really don't see the point

The point is that a bland, more expensive, harder to prepare, powder that must be shaken into a gloop isn't a replacement for those things. Even if you're time poor there are better choices.

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DrXym
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I really don't see the point

I could see potential uses for people on extremely restricted diets, under the supervision of a dietician and providing the ingredients were rigorously controlled and medically efficacious. I suppose it might also prove useful in survival kits and suchlike, providing there were fresh water to mix it with. But those are edge cases for situations where there few other options.

Otherwise, these powders are bland, expensive and actually require as much or more preparation and inconvenience than just eating an energy bar, cup-a-soup, pot noodle, sandwich or whatever else constitutes actual food albeit of the convenience variety.

And preparing, cooking and eating food is a pleasure - the taste, texture, smell, variety, the feeling of a full belly. Anyone who is so time poor they can't eat real food, even fast food, is not addressing the fundamental problem by eating / drinking glop.

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Programmer finds way to liberate ransomware'd Google Smart TVs

DrXym
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Bitrot

I'm in an apartment at the moment with a Samsung "smart" TV. Half of the apps don't work on it any more and the rest are so janky I don't see why I'd want to use them or have them baked into the TV.

I think I'd prefer a plain old dumb TV, and if they want to be "smart" they can stick a DLNA client and Chromecast into it. That's more or less all anyone wants or needs any way.

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DrXym
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Re: Best reason yet -LG has been webos for 4 or more years now.

"Also, are not both UIs based on a Linux which might well be identical under the hood? webOs might not be subject to this particular malware but it will probably have its own vulnerabilities."

WebOS and Android use a Linux kernel of some kind but are largely different in every other respect. Android doesn't even share its userland with any other Linux dist. It's very unlikely they would share any vulnerability.

In this case it looks like an older "smart" TV running the Google TV platform which has been pretty much abandoned by everyone, including Google. The newer Android TV is still going, but not on LG devices.

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Meet Hyper.is – the terminal written in HTML, JS and CSS

DrXym
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It's a application framework that happens to be built on NodeJS and other web technologies. It's not a browser per se although it uses an embedded browser engine to drive its UI. The benefit is somebody writing a plugin or function for the app only has to do it once and providing it has no platform dependencies it will install and run anywhere.

It's not a radical new concept. Mozilla was doing this a decade ago. Firefox, Thunderbird, Seamonkey, all of the plugins plus a bunch of external projects such as xpcshell used JS, CSS, XML to develop apps in.

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DrXym
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Already done

Atom and Visual Studio Code already have terminal plugins. They do what they say on the tin.

A standalone terminal app might require some menus of its own to manage tabs and provide the functionality someone might get from ConEmu, gnome-term or whatever but the main work is already done.

That said, a GOOD terminal can be a godsend. I use ConEmu all the time because it offers ANSI highlighting, cut / copy / paste, tabs, search and a bunch of other stuff that I wouldn't get from cmd.exe. I could see how a developer's terminal application which also happened to be cross platform could become popular.

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Beancounter nicks $5m from bosses, blows $1m on fantasy babe Kate Upton's mobe game

DrXym
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I wonder how anyone can be that stupid

Gambling stolen money is bad enough, but stealing just to play a crappy mobile "game"?

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Neo-Nazi man jailed for anti-Semitic Twitter campaign against MP

DrXym
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Re: sigh..

Jemma it would have saved a lot of typing if you just wrote "I'm an antisemite". Much simpler.

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DrXym
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Re: Schadenfreude

"Prison is supposed to be a correctional facility. It is quite clearly not capable of correcting this individual."

In which case he can repeatedly enjoy the delights found there within.

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Sony kills off secret backdoor in 80 internet-connected CCTV models

DrXym
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Re: Hardcoded passwords...

"I don't think this is stupidity, I think this is deliberate."

The vastly more likely reason is that devs need a way to debug the device and in their infinite wisdom chose badly. I've written code all kinds of embedded devices and this sort of thing is all too common. It's not malicious, just poor practice.

If the government or individuals wanted to screw with devices they could do it in a far more surreptitious way than this. The simplest would be a port knock which makes the device look secure until certain ports are tapped in the right order and then it launches an ssh server. This is often used in remote devices that need remote service access so it's not something exotic or hard to do for someone with more malicious intentions.

Security isn't one thing either. It probably wouldn't have been bad to open telnet providing someone could only log in with limited permissions but providing root access makes it clear the devs were clueless. See my previous post - root access should never be necessary in the field and it's easy to set the root password to something random and unknown and disable root logins altogether. If devs needed debug access they could have gotten it with a login that only let them clear logs, edit app config files and suchlike.

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DrXym
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Re: Hardcoded passwords...

It's almost unavoidable to have a hardcoded password for the root / system / superuser but it's easy to render it unusable. Best practice is to set the root password to a very long, randomly generated string, store the salt / has passwd file into a read-only firmware partition and completely forget what the password ever was. Also disable root login or change the login shell to some null operation.

Then nobody can obtain access to root. Not the devs, not the service engineers, not the user, not the application software, not hackers.

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Take that, creationists: Boffins witness birth of new species in the lab

DrXym
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Re: Another nail in the coffin?

"When you come up with some real science (observable/provable/testable) rather than circular reasoning and "just so" stories that change day-by-day I might be enticed to believe."

Er what?

Evolution refers to genetic change through generations of species. Evolution is a fact since we can see it happening and test it. We can even cause such as by selectively breeding plants or animals for some trait. Try looking at the ancient form of a cabbage some time.

It can be observed in the wild in populations divided over islands, and in response to changes in habitat. It can be observed in the fossil record. It can be observed in the lab such as Lenski's long term evolution experiment on bacteria where isolated strains have evolved novel traits. It can be observed in fruit flies and other fast breeding species.

Evolution is tested every time a a fossil comes out of the ground and conspicuously isn't a chimera or animal that should not exist in its geological strata. It is tested and validated by fossils that have observable gradations of form including intermediates. It is tested by DNA analysis - Darwin didn't even know there was such a thing - yet it's exactly in agreement with the theory.

So no, there is no circular reasoning. Evolution is a fact and a theory. Anyone in disagreement is ignorant and/or a fool.

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DrXym
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Another nail in the coffin?

At this point there are more nails than wood. The problem is that creationists (and denialists of other kinds) are extremely adept at ignoring overwhelming evidence that contradicts their deeply held beliefs.

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Huawei Mate 9: The Note you've been waiting for?

DrXym
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A standard app drawer!

I wonder what it says of Huawei that it took them the better part of 3 years to realise that combining the app drawer and home screens was a terrible idea.

I still remember the pain of dragging a app icons 5 screens over to the left because the dumb G510 I'd bought just plonked the icons onto screens in the order they were installed. In the end I had to waste a not insubstantial amount of flash use Nova as a launcher instead of this brain damage.

The best thing Huawei could do is just leave the stock android on there or sparingly modify it. It shouldn't require a designer to figure this out.

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Loyalty card? Really? Why data-slurping store cards need a reboot

DrXym
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Amazon Prime is a loyalty program?

I thought it was a something people paid for. In return they get free P&P on a bunch of stuff and a bag of other random benefits.

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Shhhhh! If you're quiet, Linus Torvalds might release a new Linux

DrXym
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Re: This is a genuine question to all software devlopers...

"One thing I've never understood is why software is released with known bugs."

Because known bugs vary by their severity and their ability to happen. If a bug causes a kernel panic once in a blue moon on some esoteric setup, do you delay the entire release for the sake of that?

More severe bugs will be regarded as blockers and the release will be held up until they are fixed. Other bugs might be prioritized to be fixed in a subequent release.

The adage "never buy version 1 of anything" also applies. This doesn't just affect software either - a brand new model car is riddled with flaws and quality issues. Many of these are known about and others will be found as cars come in for repair or get crashed. Only the most serious issues will justify a recall. Other issues will be fixed during the production life of the vehicle.

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Make Christmas Great Again: $149 24-karat gold* Trump tree ornament

DrXym
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Only a Liberace themed one.

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SQL Server on Linux: Runs well in spite of internal quirks. Why?

DrXym
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Re: I have to wonder WHY

"Possibly because there's still a shit tonne of applications out there that run on top of Sql Server perhaps?"

Yes and they can use MS SQL Server for Windows. It's a tier-1 supported product. What is the incentive to move to SQL Server running on Linux? Microsoft has been down the port road a lot of times, producing a version of one of their products on another platform and killing it. Why would anyone want the risk of it happening again?

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DrXym
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I have to wonder WHY

If someone is so wedded to Microsoft technology, why would they risk that Microsoft does its usual of producing a half-baked port of one of their products to another OS and then canning it a few years on. Besides which, Microsoft could easily tilt the licensing terms so any money they lose from not running the server on their own OS is recouped some other way.

And if someone is NOT wedded to Microsoft technology, this certainly seems a very bad reason to start now.

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Microsoft promises 'equal access' to LinkedIn to get EC green light for acquisition

DrXym
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This sounds even worse

I don't want equal access. LinkedIn nags me enough about downloading their stupid location tracking app on Android and it'd be quite nice if Microsoft withdrew it.

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Emulating x86: Microsoft builds granny flat into Windows 10

DrXym
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Re: Cart before the horse

The idea of Continuum was you had a Windows phone in your pocket but if you docked it in some kind of port replicator or big tablet frame you could use it as a a desktop. So the expectation was not to be able to use the desktop on a small screen, but allow a desktop on a big screen.

But it kind of sucks to have your desktop and discover there are no apps for it since its running ARM...

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DrXym
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Re: Cart before the horse

I bought a Linx 8-inch tablet 2 Christmases ago with Atom Z3735G that cost me £80 and runs a Windows 10 (upgraded from 8). While I mostly use it like a tablet, I can and have used the desktop just fine. It's not going to win a prize for speed but it's enough to run desktop apps like word processors and similar apps.

While Intel was late to the mobile market, their chips are competitive with ARM chips. Performance / battery benchmarks show that time and again. And in a device which is supposed to turn into a Windows desktop it seems a no-brainer to at least start off with an x86 compatible device.

I doubt emulating x86 on ARM is going to lead to a good experience at all. I suppose Microsoft could machine translate DLLs to native ARM instructions on first load but even that is going to be suboptimal.

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DrXym
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Cart before the horse

Microsoft should have required Intel mobile chips in their Continuum phones. It is painfully obvious that a Windows device that can't run the majority of Windows software is terrible idea. This was amply demonstrated with WinRT so how could they be dumb enough to make the same mistake twice?

Perhaps in time they could have offered ARM devices with emulation, or perhaps laid the foundation for universal binaries built against Win32 that compiled to whatever native platform they were executed on. Or both options.

But sending Continuum out to die was just a bad idea.

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