* Posts by Charlie Clark

8745 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

UK government shakes magic money tree, finds $500m to buy a stake in struggling satellite firm OneWeb

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Not the solution

Certainly, using the constellation for broadband provision would make sense (particularly for those UK households unable to get decent speeds). It is, after all, what it was designed to do.

Given how tiny the UK is, you could easily provide the same service with a few of Google's dirigibles. Satellites are designed for covering large areas of the earth with their signals.

Oh, hang on. Is that the 19:21 Gravy Train? I have to catch that one! If you fine it, mine's the one with "A Short History of Barnard Castle" in the pocket but you can keep that.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: It Could Be Made to Work ???

I think the big problem is LEO satellites have rapidly degrading orbits and are expected to fall out of the sky more often, which means they need replacing more often. Which gets quite expensive if you can't charge for their use with broadband…

E-scooter fanboy so hyped for Teesside to host UK's first trial

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Toys for the scallies

And good for spare parts but deliberately trashing and scavenging these toys useful providers of ecologically friendly mobility will surely be the last thing on anyone's mind!

Dutch national broadcaster saw ad revenue rise when it stopped tracking users. It's meant to work like that, right?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Actually, that's really contextual ads because you're already in the supermarket, where the house always wins because the brand is paying for both the campaign and the discount.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Dear Advertisers,

Dear Def,

billions of clicks from your less enlightened brethren beg to differ…

Actually, targeting ads generally appeals to the same sort of companies and users of services like Groupon: they have a shitty product that they're desperate to get rid of.

Context is everything so just wait for targeted product placement coming to a streaming service near you with products being placed in real time on breakfast tables, cars, etc. of the shows you love. I wish was making this up but AFAIK it's already been patented.

Consumer orgs ask world's competition watchdogs: Are you really going to let Google walk off with all Fitbit's data?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Alternative Issue, Soehnle

Nearly all digital scales now are "online", which I don't want.

The app is good because it allows me to see changes in weight over time, a couple of years now.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Alternative Issue....

True. This is one of the reason I didn't go WithThings.

But there are exceptions: my digital scales from Soehnle has an online storage option but the default is on the device with the optiom to sync to my phone. I think the same is true for their other devices but I only really want to know how fat I am…

Firefox 78: Protections dashboard, new developer features... and the end of the line for older macOS versions

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Refresh firefox...

I had to use it a couple of weeks ago after the umpteenth restore of my Mac in largely futile attempts to create a working Apple ID. I thought Firefox was trashed because pages would not render at all but Refresh worked quite well.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


Why, one might ask, does the same reasoning not apply to the entire JavaScript engine? Should Mozilla just migrate to V8?

Well, regexes really count as DSLs (domain specific languages), which is why the two browsers have been using the same approach for years. The change presumably includes some kind of binding so that the V8 engine can be called directly and doesn't have to be ported.

The same does not necessarily apply to the JS runtime. But I do think we will start to move towards consolidation other areas such as HTML, CSS and JS parsing, areas where Mozilla's use of Rust might have advantages.

Rental electric scooters to clutter UK street scenes after Department of Transport gives year-long trial the thumbs-up

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Outside the UK, electric scooters have long been a hallmark of city living…

I think the main reason that the main reason cyclists have so few serious accidents in the Netherlands is that bikes are always taken into consideration when planning roads, thus minimising competing traffic streams. Add to this the fact that most Dutch people cycle and the liability is nearly always with the most powerful vehicle.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Outside the UK, electric scooters have long been a hallmark of city living…

Only according to Nathan Barley.

These toys do not:

  • reduce car journeys
  • make a positive contribution to climate change
  • have a viable business model

Oh, and helmets are pretty fucking useless for all the knee and hand injuries that people suffer with them.

Germany is helping the UK develop its COVID-19 contact-tracing app, says ambassador

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: £11.8M

Depends on your definition of "on time", considering it was originally due in April. And it only got approval about its handling of data privacy from the CCC after massive initial criticism. The € 20 m will certainly have helped pay for a few of the strategy boutique meetings.

More importantly, if the Entsendegesetz had been applied to the meat processing industry years ago, thousands of people in meat processing plants wouldn't have been put unnecessarily at risk or the good burghers of Gütersloh forced to stay at home. Still waiting for the technological solution to treating employees like shit that doesn't involve replacing them by robots.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: £11.8M

The answer to your question is: government contract. These are almost never negotiated like commercial ones. The German one cost € 20 m and we don't really know where that went either.

Leaked benchmarks from developer kit for Apple's home-baked silicon appear to give Microsoft a run for its money

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Sure, which is why they're not in the developer box which doesn't have a battery.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Apple's policy

I'm sure Apple knew that benchmarks would be released so I wonder why they decided to bother banning developers from providing them; apart from the usual paranoia that is. Presumably, because it gives them plausible deniability over benchmarks for code that is almost certainly not optimised, while at the same time knowing that the leaked scores will keep people talking about the speed of the new chips.

Will we see improvements over time as the compiler and emulator get better? Will we see a baseline that allows Apple to gather wows™ when new hardware is released?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Interestingly, Geekbench notes that the chip running on the Transition Kits has four cores…

Not really, no point in shipping big.Little silicon for what is a non-mobile developer workstation and Apple will presumably be aiming to ship beefier kit in its own hardware later this year, otherwise it would probably selling it already.

LibreOffice slips out another 7.0 beta: Spreadsheets close gap with Excel while macOS users treated to new icons

Charlie Clark Silver badge

They certainly tend to stick around once there inhouse. Got a similar problem with a client currently migrating from MS Office 2010 to Office 2019 and sticking with 32-bit because of the fecking add-ons, which are probably no longer even maintained.

Good that there are now other options with things like PyXLL.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

In my experience, CSV/TSV all fail as soon as you have non-ascii data.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

While I can understand sticking with 32-bit because of the add-on/integration problem, I don't see what's stopping anyone providing something similar for LibreOffice / OpenOffice which have both provided a rich API for automation for decades.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Not really, a table at best. But at least Excel provides some kind of data typing, which is why it's become so ubiquitous. I've recently seen this confirmed in a project which relies on data passing through several hands before it can finally get into the database. Using Excel as the file format has led to far fewer errors than I would ever have imagined.

Charlie Clark Silver badge


which is now in the 2013 version rather than the 2007 version. This may cause problems for Word 2010 users, to whom the advice is to "upgrade to LibreOffice".

Unlikely: the transitional spec was really developed for MS Office 2007 and was incomplete, so that changes were made even after it shipped. Microsoft itself deprecated Office 2007 a while back so it's not uncommon to come across OOXML documents that Office 2007 cannot process completely but I've not seen such problems with Office 2010 which saw far greater adoption, largely on the promise of stable document formats.

Apple: We're defending your privacy by nixing 16 browser APIs. Rivals: You mean defending your bottom line

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: So Google is upset

Funny how people from Google never comment about how it always seems to be an iPhone the F.B.I. or whoever, seem to have difficulty with decrypting. It never seems to be an Android phone. Funny that.

Nice bit of whataboutery which isn't true. I-Phones are encrypted by default, with Android you normally have to enable it manually. But that doesn't mean it isn't secure and, just like Apple, Google cannot provide the keys to decrypt an encrypted Android device.

Apple's decision is more about scope: how much functionality can a browser provide safely? For several years there have been many people championing the browser as an OS. In order to do so this requires replicating OS services, which works well in some situations: notifications, hardware acceleration and even location services can make a lot of sense on (mobile) devices. But in other situations it essentially means breaking open the browser sandbox.

Apple said to be removing charger, headphones from upcoming iPhone 12 series

Charlie Clark Silver badge

And I have started buying extension cables with built-in USB ports, which means even fewer chargers required.

It's National Cream Tea Day and this time we end the age-old debate once and for all: How do you eat yours?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Not' solidified', heated , then cooled slowly

We got it once a year from my granma in Plymouth, back when it took 8 hours to drive there… A few years ago I found my local American-British store was stocking it here in Germany. And why not? It's damn fine stuff!

Oi! El Reg, where's the scone with jam and cream icon?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Usually a thick layer of unsalted french butter

Which is basically cream, solidified.

Fintech biz Wirecard folds into insolvency like two pair against a flush. Good luck accessing your chip stack

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Map view

It was probably chosen for two reasons: tax and regulation. Wirecard AG didn't fall under the remit of the BaFin (FCA) but under the government of the very parochial local government of Upper Bavaria. Mind you, it does look like BaFin did also fuck up but it has a history of this on big money projects. German savers seem to be magically drawn to "too good to be true schemes" in other countries.

When one open-source package riddled with vulns pulls in dozens of others, what's a dev to do?

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Yes, I've seen that behaviour in some companies as well. It used to be the argument against open source, until it turned out that commercial software was just as shit but you wouldn't have a chance of finding out until it was exploited.

Personally, I don't agree with either the current practice (all problems can be solved by an update) or the disclaimers in many licences. But the point is that I can't think of any court cases. Unlike, say, those that have upheld the GPL. No doubt there will be some case at some point but IIRC in the US there are some wide-ranging excemptions. Otherwise Microsoft would probably have been bankrupted multiple times in class action suits over Active X, which wasn't just an oversight but a design goal waiting to be exploited.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

I don't think the law is on your side. Currently, software developers are not subject to strict liability, which is why we live in a world of updates. Then there are the licences: most open source licences explicitly exclude liability and I've not seen the clauses invalidated by any court yet. It's not as if commercial software is immune to such stuff either: both the flaws in own code but also in liberal use of open source libraries.

While it is possible to check for known vulnerabilities in libraries, there's basically no way around extensive pen testing for modern web-based applications. But getting customers to pay for these is another matter. As is paying for updates of the software stack as new vulns get discovered.

Apple gives Boot Camp the boot, banishes native Windows support from Arm-compatible Macs

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Apple hasn't said that won't be possible, just that it won't be providing it. My guess is we'll soon see x86 on Apple ARM benchmarks.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

For next few years there will be x86 Macs sold, including new Intel Macs that haven't been announced yet.

Apple said they expect the transition to take about 2 years, ie. 2 years from now they will not be selling x86 machines. x86 will continue to be supported by the OS for "years" (my guess would be 5-6 in line with current practice of deprecating hardware chez Apple) but it may soon become "maintenance" mode if they can sell enough of the new ones.

We won't really know until the new devices appear towards the end of the year and we can see whether Apple silicon does have better TDP and memory performance than x86. For example, same battery life / performance as now but in machines < 1 kg. That would be serious bragging rights. But let's see what they come up with.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Hackintosh?

Citrix or RDP will probably run just as well as it does now.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: "hypervisors can be very efficient"

I've been running Windows in VMs on MacOS for over 10 years and never found it to be slow. As long as the VMs can use the hardware hypervisor there's no reason why it should be.

There will be a hit for Windows 10 x86 on MacOS ARM because of the emulation. Apple is clearly saying to Parallels and VMWare: if you want performance it's up to you to do it but, again, the hypervisor might help here for CPU stuff. Bigger problems will be with anything wanting to use x86 hardware acceleration: MMX, etc. because Apple might not make any optimisations it's done for this available to other software, as is already the case on MacOS for codecs. But it also had a vested interest in Windows on MacOS not being completely unviable. Guess we'll soon see reports from people running QEMU on the new developer boxes.

Taiwan to stay ahead of China as top chip manufacturing titan

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Germany took a huge bath when it last subsidised chip factories: the factories were closed before the tax credits ran out. Though, the pressure to repeat this when the coalfields in eastern Germany close will probably mount.

Chip manufacturing is very complicated and not all value is created in the fabs, which is one of the reasons why these are moving to lower (though not low) wage economies. There's still plenty of money to be made in chip design and in the machines that actually make the chips. IIRC the world-leader on chip lithography is a Dutch company. Countries are focussing on keeping those companies in European hands, because once that IP walks, we really will struggle.

There are DDoS attacks, then there's this 809 million packet-per-second tsunami Akamai says it just caught

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Solution, Billing = $

honestly I don't know why they don't do it...

Probably because the internet is not as simple as you imagine it to be.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: And the next step...

You can report IP addresses to ISPs but nothing ever happens.

Such ip addresses are regularly blacklisted by other ISPs. It's just not effective because the addresses can be recycled fairly quickly so that you get assigned one after it has become blacklisted.

More important is setting up honeypots long enough for law enforcement bodies to gather data, not only about infected machines, but more importantly about the networks controlling them.

Chime after chime: Apple restores iconic Mac boot sound removed in 2016

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Meh, sounds, animated effects, transparency

In general I agree but the boot sound on a Mac is useful if you're trying to get into recovery or single user mode: it tells you when you can let go of the keys.

Likewise, some animations can reinforce the UX by extending the metaphor: think of button presses, slides in and out, etc.

But, I've never understood the fashion for transparent elements in the UI which only seems to distract.

Skype for Windows 10 and Skype for Desktop duke it out: Only Electron left standing

Charlie Clark Silver badge

I've used Skype for projects where screensharing is important and it's been pretty good on the whole. Occasionally there are problems getting audio to work properly, so a restart of the call is necessary, but at the moment, as a multi-platform desktop conference app, I'd reckon it's the best: the Electron-based stuff just chews CPU cycles.

Apple to keep Intel at Arm's length: macOS shifts from x86 to homegrown common CPU arch, will run iOS apps

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: It'll work.

Intel provided a lot of support for the compiler. Everyone seems to forget that Intel has a large software department and considerable expertise in compilers.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Probably, for the two who do it. It was fashionable when the Intel Macs came out for people who wanted the status of Apple hardware to run their Windows apps but virtualisation was generally good enough for most things - I was certainly using Windows XP on Parallels to remote control InDesign in 2008 without many problems.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: It'll work.

Macs started out on 68k Motorola CPUs. 68k failed to keep up, so Apple went for PowerPC (Motorola/IBM)

PowerPC was a planned replacement for the 68k series and Apple. The move to x86 would never have happened without Intel's support.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Rosetta

Rosetta is something that the user will not even notice.

Bollocks. The approach will be very similar to that done on Android after every update which tries as much as possible to apps through a JIT to get native code. Intel was able to make use of this for a lot of stuff of Android for Intel. Except, it didn't work for everything and for some stuff it definitely was noticeable.

Most stuff using Apple's APIs should transpile pretty well but there will always be exceptions and anything making heavy use of x86 specific optimisations could be noticeably slower.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Rosetta

The MacBooks have been replaced by the MacBook Airs and this is where ARM probably makes the most sense because new MBAs get hot pretty quickly and have to start throttling. But they'll have to be pretty careful not to cannibalise the market they've just refreshed.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Rosetta

The original Rosetta from 2006 worked pretty well: PPC applications mostly did run on new Intel Macs without trouble.

They did but it was big hit in performance for anyone coming from the PowerPC.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: "Intel never thrilled me"

There's no reason to suggest that Apple's engineers will make chips that are any more "secure" (for users) than Intel's.

ARM designs are inherently more customisable, which means Apple can put more stuff in silicon that it wants whether it's video codecs, encryption algorithms or machine learning. This, in turn, should lead to less demands on the CPU which should be good for battery life and heat generation. Custom hardware also makes software even more Apple specific, ie. increasing lock-in for users.

That said, I'm looking forward to the first devices to see how they stack up.

What's the Arm? First Apple laptop to ditch Intel will be 13.3" MacBook Pro, proclaims reliable soothsayer

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Cheaper macs *coff*

It wouldn't need for much for them to be able to cream off the higher end Windows users. Currently, similarly specc'd Intel notebooks are similarly priced whether they're from Apple, Dell, Lenovo or HP. Microsoft has a far higher investment in the x86 software stack than Apple. But let's wait and see what is actually announced.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

If the last 20 years have told us anything, they've told us that Intel is the only company that manages CPU desing and manufacturing effectively and even then it's become increasingly difficult. This is why contract manufacturing from TSMC, Samsung, etc. where the enormous capital can be spread out making CPUs, GPUs, memory for phones, routers, PCs, TVs.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Depends on what you're doing

OSX is much, much faster than Windows for some workloads.

I doubt that. If the application code is well written then it should be running as fast as possible on the same CPUs. There are always edge-cases relating to I/O speed, networking, etc. but in most cases the OS no longer makes much difference and, indeed for things like video-encoding, Windows is easier to get hardware acceleration working.

Where MacOS generally shines is the integration of tools for certain workflows. For me, as a developer, I find the posix side of MacOS just so much more convenient, not least because of the path names.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: It's different this time

I've only run Bootcamp a couple of times and that was 10 years ago. Since then virtualisation has been more than good enough, assuming you have enough RAM.

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: And now it gets interesting

Why not both? Though Apple doesn't need to change CPU architecture for the second one. But you also forgot: margins. Intel chips are not cheap. If Apple can use the same chips in desktop devices as phones and tablets then it has even more margin to play with.

Russia lifts restrictions on Telegram messenger app after it expresses ‘readiness’ to stop some nasties

Charlie Clark Silver badge

Re: Two Questions

If telegram is truly a secure E2E platform

It isn't and shouldn't be considered as such, unless you setup a "secret chat", though even then it's only published details of the cryptograpic protocols used but no code. Otherwise Telegram stores details on its servers, which is one of the reasons why it's so good for multiple devices.

Telegram has drawn Putin's ire because it has repeatedly refused to provide the details for specific users. And it has sucessfully found workarounds round most government attempts to block it, which is why it remains popular in Russia.


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