* Posts by martin burns

131 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Oct 2007


SCREW YOU, BRITS: We're going through with UK independence ANYWAY – Scotland

martin burns

Oil based economy?

Given that:

1) Scotland's books are currently balanced (as legally required)

2) With 8.4% of the UK population, Scotland contributes 9.6% of UK tax revenue and receives only 9.3% of UK gov spending

3) Scotland currently contributes to vanity projects deemed to be 'National' (Trident, HS2, Crossrail, The Olympics (but oddly, the Commonwealth Games were 'local' and funded from Scotland alone)) that won't continue post independence

4) GDP/Capital *without* oil & gas is broadly similar (£20,873 -v- £20,571) between Scotland and rUK

it's no surprise that the economic case was that oil is just a Brucie Bonus: the Scottish economy can manage fine without it.


1) Oil was around $20/barrel for most of the 90s and it was still a welcome revenue to UK.gov

2) The oil companies are investing hugely: while of course the price is variable (which is why you build a sovereign wealth fund like every other oil producing nation except UK to buffer against it), the long term prognosis is still extremely healthy - £12m of investment announced just yesterday http://powerfromthenorth.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/lerwick-harbour-defies-north-sea-gloom.html

3) In an era of ever increasing demand and finite supply, the price is only trending in one direction.

and finally, the kind of fear mongering lies told before the Referendum (e.g. Deutsche Bank who now say Scotland would be better off independent, or that the only way to save the NHS would be to vote No... how's that looking btw?) mean that it's hardly a surprise that many low information voters who unquestioningly rely on mass media (like yourself it would seem) got the wrong end of the economic stick.

Landlines: The tech that just won't die

martin burns

Not in Sweden

Here in Sweden, the fibre infrastructure is unbundled and goes up to 1GB/s.

We have mobiles (4G as standard, even on the subway), plus Skype, FaceTime & Google. What's a landline again?

Very very happy to not deal with the stupid any more: leaving UK was such a relief

REVEALED: Titsup flight plan mainframe borks UK air traffic control

martin burns

Re: Failure rates

yes, just like the probability of a dice throwing yet another 6 changes, because Lady Luck is offended at the run and sends her magic elves to come in and add phlogiston weighting....

No, wait, you're talking bollocks.

MAC TO THE FUTURE: 30 years of hindsight and smart-arsery

martin burns

Re: Locked into enforced throw-away

>> Mac Mini?

>Overpriced and underpowered crap that will cook itself.


I currently have a 2006 era Mac Mini that's been running 24x7 as a media server (iTunes backend to AppleTVs and Airport Expresses) since 2008, including video transcoding most days.

I also have a 2007 era Mac Mini that is the wife's main desktop computer. And a 2011ish Mac Mini Server that's running our home network's services plus external email and websites for the family. Not a huge load on it, granted, but like the other two, at no point has it tried to cook itself.

So, who ought to be the next Doctor Who? It's up to YOU...

martin burns
Black Helicopters

Wot No...

John Simm for a really evil twist? Or is the Glenister idea covering that angle? And keeping going in that direction: Monserrat Lombard, who links back to the list via Nathan Barley. Actually, you could pick almost anyone from the Barley TV outing (other than the titular character) and it'd work.

Kudos for suggesting Georgia Moffat. When I put that one to an Actual Canonical Who Author, it was described as possibly the most evil idea heard to date.

The new Mac mini eviscerated with ease

martin burns

Re: Mac Mini - what's its main purpose?

Enterprise class server? No.

However, if your storage needs (scalability/robustness) are greater, then pair it with an external Drobo and it's lovely.

And in that config (4TB or so capacity in mine, hot-expandable to 8TB), it makes a fantastic media centre server, either directly or as a backend to AppleTV (we have 2 AppleTVs plus a bunch of Airport Expresses).

martin burns

Girly->Bloke colour conversion

Better yet - label them in Pantone colours. That's fine for any bloke who can then look them up on an empirical scale.

Amazon cloud knocked out by violent storms in Virginia

martin burns

Re: And have you tried turning it off and on again?

ShowS shurely...?

Still, the outage may not have been small, but it was FAR AWAY (from Reg Towers)

Yeah, the one with the bookshop business card (scribbled on the back of a torn beermat) in the top pocket.

Teens break up with Facebook

martin burns

Not really thinking, are they?

If the kids were smart, they'd use Google+'s much more granular access controls, allowing them to have all kinds of groups of contacts separated, so it's easy to share the party on Friday with your mates, but not your parents. Or the other kids you don't want to invite...

Darth Vader dies peacefully in hospital

martin burns

Naturally... but I find that Thibault cancels out Capa Ferro. Don't you?

I don't think it's explicitly mentioned upthread, but Bob choreographed that fight.

Pirate flag for the cutlasses.

Tablets need permanent Black Friday price slash to triumph

martin burns

Supply Chain Constraints

The other reason is that for a number of key components, Apple pretty much bought up a huge chunk of the production capacity. For everyone else therefore, the supply is extremely limited, and they're having to pay premium to get any at all.

Apple also have a pretty darned slick supply chain operation overall.

Both of these means that they have a lower cost base that the competitors just cannot get near, so Apple can make much better margin and *still* offer competitive (or lower) prices.

martin burns

Cable Connections..?

Point of information: since iOS5, iPad has connected wirelessly to iTunes & iCloud for content updates, and for s/w updates.

Wonder how many of your other assumptions are unresearched, Android fanboi rumourmill, bullshit FUD too..?

martin burns

Near Zero Margin on Teardown

Near Zero Margin based on a parts inventory translates to a bloody huge loss on a fully manufactured and distributed device.

Home Office faces £500m demand in e-Borders sacking

martin burns

Census Data

It's been handled by US companies a *lot* longer than that.

CACI for example (who produce the *highly useful* ACORN geodemographic database[1]. Which significantly reduces the amount of junk mail you get for stuff you're never, ever going to be interested in)

[1] Data analysed and available based on classifying postcodes - individuals aren't identifiable.

Apple vanishes MySQL from Mac OS X Lion Server

martin burns

A REAL server operating system..?

Certified Unix ain't a real server OS?

Come again?

Four illegal ways to sort out the Euro finance crisis

martin burns

Unitary States

If the Euro were a unitary state, it would be exactly the same.

However, it seems that the Eurozone has the tough bits of being a unitary state (ie you can't leave, and you can't treat different parts differently) but doesn't have the benefits that go along with it (ie you can't cross-subsidise areas that suffer from a single interest rate)

(and for history fans: the UK govt/BoE has been setting interest rates to suit the SE of England regardless of the effect elsewhere for decades. It's one of the economic drivers for Scottish independence)

martin burns

All one economy?

"while 0.5% is the right/wrong rate in different parts of the UK its all still the same economy"

Umm no. So very much no.

The SE of England is nearly always at a different point of the cycle to Scotland, so when the MPC (and previously the Chancellor) set rates to cool 'the overheating economy' it was only thinking of the SE of England economy. Usually at that point, the Scottish economy is only just emerging from the freezer, with disastrous results.

Apple closes book on iPhone-look jotter

martin burns

Silly Buggers

Should have described it as an aid to iPhone developers for prototyping UIs

And if anyone else wanted to use it as a basic notepad, well you can't stop 'em, can you?

iPads mooted for Qantas flight manuals

martin burns


If colour's not important then the kindle is fine - it copes with 16 level greyscale just fine. If you don't have any ambient light then reading paper manuals will also be a problem, no?

And the charging period is hugely long compared to iPad.

Salt Lake City goes wallet-free with Isis

martin burns

Yes but can you...

...buy a decent cup of coffee with it?

Yeah, the one with the Starbucks card in the top pocket, ta.

Where to now for the data robot?

martin burns

Consumer Use

As the population starts seeing the goodness of having on-demand access to *many* TV episodes and movies (by which I mean their entire DVD collection plus video bought online - in our case, 300 movies & 1000 TV episodes), they'll start filling up their existing drives.

Once you've migrated your 500+GB iTunes media library from one drive to another more than once, you start not wanting to do that again. At that point, an infinitely expandable option starts to look very, very attractive.

Combine that with the gibbering night sweats that come from realising how much effort it'll take to re-rip all your media, or pay to replace from online stores, and drive redundancy becomes a must have.

Device full, but you have spare bays? Slam in another drive. All done.

Device full, but no spare bays? Pull the smallest capacity drive & replace with a larger one. All done.

Drive died? Pull it & replace with working one. All done.

No downtime required, no complex rebuilding of arrays, any mix and match of SATA drives will do the trick.

It's about as close as you can get to a consumer suitable appliance for high volume, safe, data storage.

CodeWeavers pours Wine for the masses

martin burns


Particularly these days as Notes is essentially running on top of Eclipse, which runs just fine *everywhere*.

End of the line for ID cards

martin burns

FFS, do we still need to do this?

It's not the card, it's the database, which was defined as being able to store any foreign key to any other datasource.

martin burns

Not just Ryanair/EZ

FlyBe also demand photoID

But don't insist that it be govt issued - I flew this week on just my work pass.

DUP website translated into Irish by mischievous hacktivist

martin burns


'a mix of an older form of English'

Nope. English and Scots derived from a common ancestor. Scots was also influenced by Norse (but so was English in the North East) and French - in fact all the continental trading partners we used because the road south was blocked.

EMC employee filched $1m worth of hardware

martin burns

An Old Song

In other news: Wayne Kemp & the estate of Johnny Cash are suing for IP breaches.

Apple Mac App Store to go live January

martin burns
Jobs Halo

iOS Apps on OSX?

If there's a walled garden/sandbox, will that enable iOS apps to run on desktop/laptop Macs?

If not, will there be a guide to enable iOS App Devs to port their Apps to run on OSX & be sold via the OSX App Store? The iWork apps show the way forward here.

UK Man cops to £500,000 iTunes royalty scam

martin burns


You think that's a scam: do you not remember Dial-a-Disc?

Dial 16 and listen to a song (of the GPO's choosing) once at quite frighteningly low fidelity. At what was compared to today, ruinously expensive rates

Windows 7 really was some girl's idea, rules ASA

martin burns

Cable & Satellite?

Hmm so show me it recording Sky & Virgin media then.

Oh that's right, you can't because of the DRM. Same as for EyeTV then: you can record everything free to air (Freeview/Freesat) and that's it.

Funny, but I've had that for 3 years now (and wasn't that new then either)

I was timeboxed in a holistic scrum

martin burns

"Us in charge! Us in charge!"

Funny, but no matter where you go, every profession thinks they should be running the show. I've seen it from product developers, designers, marketeers, accountants as well as PMs and developers.

Thing is, many *good* (and yes, there are many *not* good ones) PMs and architects have been in the development trenches, so don't come the "we developers always know best" malarkey. Does experience not count these days (ah yes, that's right, it never does to the young). When you're in a trench, you tend to have a restricted view... come back and argue when you've done something *else*. (Applies also to marketeers, accountants etc).

The other pattern I see again and again is that revolutions defined on what they're *against* are rarely as successful as those defined on what they're *for*. Very, very few agilistas are able to articulate the problem they're trying to solve, beyond "Waterfall: BOOOOO!" and if they are, are rarely able to articulate how they're planning to solve it. Principles are great, and "be supportive of your team" behavioural ones don't really require the evangelism and "Two Legs: Bad. Four Legs: Good" rhetoric.

HP dumps Microsoft's Vail Home Server 'to focus on webOS'

martin burns

Drive Extension essential

So if I understand this right - what they've dropped is the ability to easily expand your server's storage.

Sounds to me like an absolute must have for a consumer server - you're going to fill your drive and you're generally not going to plan that far ahead to buy something huge. You hit a wall and go "Ah. Now what?" Score double for a media server.

You really do need the ability to simply be able to slam in a new SATA drive which expands the current storage of a single logical volume. Oh, and have RAID-like goodness of drive redundancy so one of your array can go phut without losing it all.

Yes, thanks, the one with a Drobo in the capacious and ever growing pocket.

Multi-colour e-ink to splash down in six months?

martin burns

Spot Colour

I would expect that full colour e-ink using RGB (or even CMY) filters will look like guff - the blacks would suffer from the same problem as standard print: you need a true black as the combination of the other 3 just won't do; you'll get a muddy brown light being reflected back.

And a true black won't occupy the same space as the other colour px without layering - which has the update & low contrast problems as FLEPia.

The thing that would most easily dramatically increase the experience wouldn't be full colour, but a single additional colour.

Depending on your choice of the secondary colour, you could use it for duotones, or for highlights.

Just as with dead tree publication, you really do not need full colour printing for every publication. Or even the majority of them. One colour printing covers 75% of the needs. Two colour printing would cover 75% of the remainder.

Yes, the print industry got this a long time ago.

martin burns


Yes, flipping is very much an advantage for dead trees (particularly for dip in/reference books that aren't driven by obvious keyword search).

But every page you add increases the cost & fragility dramatically. Until the displays are as tough as paper (ie you can damage a part of it, get it wet etc and still not destroy the entire experience) and very, very cheap, we're not getting flippable ebooks.

MAD Students Union bars 'racist' ZOMBIE PHYSICISTS

martin burns

Zombies don't run

As clearly laid out by Mr S Pegg


Besides, the 28d/wk ones were not zombies but infected; unwell rather than undead.

Apple threatens Java with death on the Mac

martin burns

Representative Sample?

Riiiiiight, so 'people you know' is the entire Java dec community. Must be a smaller community than I'd thought.

All the Java developers *I* know (I have 30 of them working for me, plus can see another 30 from where I sit) run RAD/RSA mostly on Windows. A few run it on a Windows VDI on OSX and a few run it directly on OSX.

Can't see any Linux users from here, which is a shame.

Phone 7: Another Vista or another XP?

martin burns

iPhone Catchup: FAIL

So the summary is basically saying: in a couple of years, this will be where Apple were ~3 years ago?

Yeah, thanks, the one with the better phone in the pocket. Which one you say? Oh, they *all* have iPhones?

Jobs' Lion to marry Mac OS X and iOS

martin burns

UK pricing

If you'd take a moment to look at the Apple eStore (iStore?), you'll see that the price for the entry MB Air is £849, same as the entry MacBook.

And what's wrong with "another way to sell more stuff" - isn't that what Apple are in business to do?

Finally, are you expecting what they showed last night to be everything that's in Lion? I'd very much doubt it - this was a preview of some of the press-grabbing features. Which is what Steve said.

Lexmark adds Twitter to printer

martin burns

This is the stupid way round

Would it not be better for the printer to tweet completion of long jobs, so you know when to wander back over and pick up your 20 copies of the 100page report?

BT blasts hundreds of would-be customers' data into Infinity

martin burns

Mass mail? FAIL

Any half-arsed marketing firm should be able to send 900-odd individual, personalised emails in under 10 minutes, rather than blasting a single mail off to 900-odd cc/bcc recipients.

Ah, but this is PR, isn't it? So sorry.

British bank cuts 4,500 IT jobs

martin burns

Cause/Effect entirely wrong

Jobs are going both in the UK and overseas. This suggests that there's an overall downscaling, not a shift of jobs offshore.

Without knowledge of current totals of each and therefore assessment of %age of each workforce cut, it's impossible to say whether there's also a rebalancing between the two.

When hiring journos, does elReg not employ some assessment of their logical thinking capabilities (what am I *thinking* - they're journos).

Jailbreaker alert: Apple TV runs iOS

martin burns
Jobs Halo

iPhone Remote

The iPhone Remote app is just that; works just as well as for controlling an iTunes instance.

martin burns

Catchup TV apps & other streaming rentals

This will get interesting when there are apps for

1) iPlayer

2) SeeSaw

3) alternative rental services that work outwith the US (LoveFilm in the UK)

martin burns
Jobs Halo

Direct connection

It's better via AppleTV because:

1) AppleTV interface is better then FrontRow

2) Being able to access the Mac interface separately means you can also hook up an EyeTV for TV recording and Handbrake for DVD ripping, without interrupting the TV connection/viewing.

3) When you have multiple ATVs connecting to a single iTunes instance/db you have some very nice optimisation

Happiness: Yours for £50k a year

martin burns

$75k != £50k

Despite what the exchange rate may suggest, $75k has a lot more buying power than the simply converted amount of Sterling (which is £48k btw).

The purchasing power exchange rate is much closer to 1:1, and in a country with lots and lots of land (Manhattan Island excepted), a very much smaller proportion of that top whack goes into housing costs than it does here.

If you want to do comparisons, talk about *disposable* income...

Apple TV: Third time unlucky, Mr Jobs

martin burns
Jobs Horns

Less useful

Sure, it's doable.

But a lot less useful than being able to buy on the device, and have it sync back to iTunes as *well* as being able to buy on iTunes.

Buy on AppleTV = much more immediate watching. Useful when you have 3 noisy wains demanding it.

As mentioned, this is a downgrade overall from the current experience. Fine if you're adding a lower model to the range, but not if you're phasing out the larger one too.

martin burns
Jobs Horns

Local Storage

Yes, mostly we stream from iTunes. But then, my iTunes-dedicated mac mini (with external Drobo) is on the same wired network as one AppleTV, and the other has the vast majority of the kids' movies on its local storage.

And I have an 801.11n wireless network to stream it over.

By far the better 'upgrade' for the new AppleTV would have been the ability to add an external disk directly. A Terabyte would do for most people for a while - that's the standard for DVRs these days.

martin burns
Jobs Horns

iPlayer +...

iPlayer. And LoveFilm. And SeeSaw (which is bluddy lovely).

Two of these are already built into the latest Samsung TVs - network capability is about ooh, the price of an AppleTV.

Having it all via a unified interface would have been lovely.

Such a missed opportunity.

martin burns
Jobs Horns

New-v-Old AppleTV

You can already rent movies from Apple in the UK, from the AppleTV.

The old AppleTV also *already* has Ethernet, WiFi & HDMI. But it also has component video and audio (including optical) outs.

The new AppleTV is more like an AppleTV Nano - smaller form factor, smaller capacity, less functionality - particularly in the UK where you won't be able to rent streamed movies.

Luckily, the new AppleTV won't kill the ability to buy TV/movies from the old one.

Not that streaming movies will really work for most people - the machine must have a little local storage (4GB Flash is my bet) for caching to enable smooth playback, but unless you're on a superfast connection, you'll be waiting a loooooong time to be able to play that HD movie.

For new AppleTV owners (I have 2 of the old ones), sorry guys, sucks to be you. Are you going to pay £/$1.99 every time your kids want to watch IceAge3 again. And again. And again?

Seriously Steve - did you *really* talk to AppleTV owners before launching this thing?

At least the return of the iPod Shuffle to a sane form factor shows some degree of willingness to step back from mistakes.

Underweight passport pic left traveller stuck in Amsterdam

martin burns
Big Brother

New photos

When you renew a passport, you need to supply a new photo, which must be taken in the last month


Office for Mac steps closer to Windows version of software

martin burns
Jobs Halo


Keynote: Much, much better than PowerPoint

Pages: Fine for most purposes except the highest end (LaTEX territory anyway)

Numbers: Is quite *different* to Excel - uses multiple sheets very differently

And of course

OmniGraffle for the Visio-demanding

Bento for those who like toy databases like Access (here's a nickel sonny... I wish Apple would stick their UI smarts on the front of MySQL)