* Posts by Neil Lewis

165 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Apr 2007


Top Euro court: No, you can't steal images from other websites (too bad a school had to be sued to confirm this little fact)

Neil Lewis

Re: Also

There are no fully automated image collection systems. Even with the most basic camera, such as a simple webcam, the owner/user must initially choose where to position it and in which direction it should be pointed. If the device has the ability to be triggered when movement is sensed, then the owner/user has also chosen to enable and set that function, too. Those are all 'creative choices' - they require the owner/user to make conscious decisions based on their intentions in setting the camera up in the first place. Without making those conscious decisions, the camera would probably still be in its box.

Neil Lewis

Re: New internet standard...

No new standard is needed, just the ability to follow a very simple rule: anything you find on the internet is copyright protected unless specifically stated otherwise.

Six things I learned from using the iPad Pro for Real Work™

Neil Lewis

Mostly agree (especially the bit about Windows being far from the only 'proper' OS, having been 100% Linux for many years for my work in professional photography and event production) except that, for the real work of controlling a professional stage lighting rig, a decent Android tablet running QLC+ works very well indeed.

Al Capone was done for taxes. Now Microsoft's killing domain-squatters with trademark law

Neil Lewis

Nice to see a trademark being used as intended for once

Trademarks were supposed to be an assurance to buyers that the product they purchased came from a trusted supplier. In other words, to protect consumers. In the modern era, they do seem to have more often been used to stifle competition.

What I see here is MS actually using trademarks for their intended purpose - to protect users from suckered into believing they are visiting a trusted domain.

Yes, I'm also aware of the opportunities for ironic responses about MS own products and services, but this seems to be one of those rare occasions when they're trying to do the right thing.

Hey, remember that monkey selfie copyright drama a few years ago? Get this – It's just hit the US appeals courts

Neil Lewis

Re: Devil's Advocate

Under UK copyright law (which, like most of the world, is based on and closely follows the Berne convention, unlike US copyright law) it'd be hard to assign copyright to anyone, including the government or the Dartford Crossing authority for those pictures. Why? Because there are two keys to owning copyright.

First, you have to demonstrate that you are the author, i.e. that you caused the photograph to be created. It isn't enough to simply be the owner of the camera, and it certainly isn;t enough to be the subject of the photograph. The author must make a conscious decision to cause the specific photograph to be created.

Second, that there was a clear 'creative step' involved. The owners of the Dartford Crossing cameras might possibly claim some elements of a creative step, since they chose where to place the cameras, but that's about it. The driver of the car has no such control over placement of the camera and does not make a decision to activate it, either.

This is a bit different to travelling around the globe specifically to set up a series of photographs, choosing where and when to set up a camera on a particular occasion when the subject was available and seemed in the right mood, choosing a lens and setting the camera's operational parameters to suit the specifics of the environment at that particular time. All those are 'creative steps' in the way UK copyright recognises them, because they were deliberate, specific to and had a substantial effect upon the overall intention of crating individual photographs. The ape may have observed the photographer handling the camera, and tried to copy thos actions, but it would be seriously stretching credibility to suggest he had any idea that pressing the shutter release button would cause a photograph of himself to or anything else to be created, hence it's not credible to suggest any creative step on his part.

Neil Lewis

Re: Devil's Advocate

The whole concept of rights of any sort is an entirely human construct

Raspberry Pi Foundation releases operating system for PCs, Macs

Neil Lewis

Re: And it appears to be 3D skeuomorphic!

For DTP type layout, give Scribus a try. It's cross platform, and can import content from LibreOffice, too.

90 per cent of the UK's NHS is STILL relying on Windows XP

Neil Lewis

The statement "most staff, few will have ever touched Linux" is quite simply untrue. Fact is, the vast majority will use Linux every day without realising it, by accessing web sites or by using an Android device.

That staff can be foxed by transitioning from Office 2003 to 2007 is an indication of the poor training/lack of training frequently seen in office environments. There's a tendency towards a 'click here to do this' mentality inherent in vendor specific training which leads to users being unable to function if an icon or button is moved.

The problem is neither the OS nor the applications, but an almost criminally unprofessional lack of understanding of the tools. It's as ridiculous as if a plumber claimed they could only work with one particular brand of spanners 'because brand Y looks different'.

Basic income after automation? That’s not how capitalism works

Neil Lewis

Re: Errrm

The argument was even more stupid than that. If a company brings in machines which completely dispense with the need for anyone to operate them, then none of that original workforce is required at all, irrespective of the volume of output.

USB-C is now wired for sound, just like Sir Cliff Richard

Neil Lewis

Additional uses

I hope the additional uses for the 3.5mm jack have also been considered. For example, there are a large number of card reader devices out there, used by vendors-on-the-move, which plug into the 3.5mm jack. Will they work, even with an adaptor, in a USB-C connector, I wonder?

Sony wins case over pre-installed Windows software

Neil Lewis

Depends on how you understand the phrase:

"such an offer is not contrary to the requirements of professional diligence and does not distort the economic behaviour of consumers"

It's certainly arguable that the bundling of Windows with almost all PCs has hugely distorted the market over many years, by making the PC+Windows combination pretty much the only choice available. That in turn leads to mostly Windows only software being offered to average consumers, which further drives the market distortion.

Kepler's K2 mission confirms 104 Earth-like planets

Neil Lewis

A 24 day year might make for some interesting, fast maturing plants, if any exist?

Why does the VR industry think 2016 is its year? It's the hardware, stupid

Neil Lewis

Dirt cheap, but good enough

My own belief is that for VR to become mainstream (i.e. wanted and used by a much wider audience than just the tech-savvy and early adopters) it has to be dirt cheap to put test the water, but good enough to make users want more. And there has to be lots of content people want to use.

Dirt cheap because it has to be a low risk/no risk thing to try out for those with a vague idea that it might be fun. Lots of content because average people just want to enjoy it, not get excited by the technology.

Google cardboard is capable of delivering the 'wow' factor at a cost which makes it a throwaway item, provided you have a suitable 'phone. And that means a huge chunk of the population in most of the developed world.

Content can be delivered via YouTube, a very familiar channel. Once users see what Cardboard can do, they'll want more sophisticated headsets and be prepared to pay for them, so it would surely be easy enough for other manufacturers to produce compatible devices and jump on that train.

The main obstacle right now seems to be making it easy (and cheap) to create the content. Cost of a rig and hardware capable of managing the post processing in a reasonable time are obstacles which will stop all but the most determined from becoming content producers for now.

Back to the Future's DeLorean is coming back to the future

Neil Lewis

Re: Different engines under the hood...

Many (most?) will be unaware that the majority of the stainless steel sheet leftover when the Delorean factory closed was actually used for kit car production - the Robin Hood 7, I believe. A cosmetic copy of the Lotus 7, but with a monocoque body shell made entirely from stainless steel, with GRP wings and nose cone and a Ford OHC Pinto engine. At one time, they were quite popular.

BBC risks wrath of android rights activists with Robot Wars reboot

Neil Lewis


I really hope there's at least one robot in this series. Y'know, an actual autonomous machine, as opposed to just lots of remote controlled vehicles. That would actually be an interesting use of all the new tech in the intervening years.

Who's right on crypto: An American prosecutor or a Lebanese coder?

Neil Lewis

Believe a lawyer? Please.

For a lawyer, lying (or at the very least, hiding parts of the truth which don't support your own point of view) is a career choice.

Photoshop for 40 quid: Affinity Photo pushes pixels further than most

Neil Lewis

Re: £40 too expensive...

It's not necessarily about the price. GIMP is free and entirely driven by what users want. There's no marketing department adding (or withholding until the next version) features just for the sake of selling you an updated copy every few months. The 'real cost' of commercial software is that it's not built primarily for the benefit of users, but for the companies who sell it.

Neil Lewis

Re: £40 too expensive...

"since GIMP got rid of those stupid floating windows" - those floating windows are still available for those who want them. You can switch from single-window to multiple-window mode with a couple of clicks, and they do enable one particularly useful trick: multiple views of the same image while editing. Use it for working close in on small details while simultaneously seeing the overall effect on the whole image.

What an eyeful: Apple's cut price 27in iMac with Retina Display

Neil Lewis

Re: 5K?

"For some reason the TV and computer industries have been switching to the convention of the film industry in recent times."

I'm pretty sure the reason is as explained in Dilbert some years ago. Bigger numbers *always* mean 'better' to the uneducated buyer. That makes it far easier to sell yet another expensive upgrade to consumers who really don't need it but like to have bigger model numbers and flashier kit than their neighbours.

The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

Neil Lewis

Re: Timing is everything

Indeed. I remember buying a couple of litres of ether in my local chemist as a young teenager for use in home-brewed model diesel engine fuel. There was no problem once I explained to the owner what I wanted it for. Can't imagine that happening now though.

Torvalds turns to Sir Mix-A-Lot for Linux versioning debate

Neil Lewis

Running out of digits?

How can that be? Surely everyone uses each finger or toe to represent a binary digit, so the highest number able to be represented on a standard model human is 2^20...

Apple patents autographs. Checkmate, eBay

Neil Lewis

More Apple 'innovation'

While others are busy trying to create new uses for technology which actually have some tangible benefit, Apple come up with something completely pointless which will no doubt be labelled by fanbois as ground breaking. Colour me surprised. And cue the fawning BBC coverage.

What's a Chromebook good for? How about running PHOTOSHOP?

Neil Lewis

Chromebooks, but not Linux?

I'm still trying to work this bit out, given that all Chromebooks run a Linux kernel.

Sure, there are some bits which are specific to ChomeOS, but it's not s though there aren't already versions of ChromeOS to run on a full Linux box anyway, e.g. CR OS Linux.

The other question is why a significant number of folks would choose to become ensnared in Adobe's bloated, resource-hogging, proprietary lock-in traps when genuinely free alternatives provide more than enough functionality for 99% of users. Must be a lot of mugs about, I suppose.

Ello, 'ello, what's all this then? We take a spin on the new social network driving everyone loopy

Neil Lewis

It's not about the ads

Yes, I got my ello invitation recently and there are a *lot* of FB users I know currently jumping ship.

The reason has little to do with ads though, and here perhaps ello is slightly barking up the wrong tree. Most sensible users have adblock enabled anyway, so the intrusion from adverts is pretty small.

Certainly there have been many disgruntled users seeing their reach dropping off a cliff since FB decided to find ways to force them to pay for extended reach, but that's also been an annoyance rather than a reason to switch.

It's the intrusion into how users can portray themselves on the system that's really at the root of the exodus. My business concerns performers of many types, and they seldom want to use their real names in a public place. When Google tried the same trick with G+, they had a similar backlash. They've now removed that restriction, and I've seen a similar move by performers to try G+, as well as ello.

The thing ello currently has going for it over G+ is that it's simple, but that simplicity is based on very limited functionality, which is also it's weakness. Many users are already complaining that they can't actually do very much on ello.

My own web site is my primary way of staying in contact with performers, managing cast lists, media, etc. and my business only makes use of social networks for inbound marketing. As such, I'm not too bothered which social network they all end up using.

But I can tell you they are really unhappy with FB. They don't much like the G+ interface and find ello a bit sparse on features, so the jury is very much out on where they will choose to go, but they are actively looking at ways to leave FB, so it's just a matter of time before they do.

iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!

Neil Lewis

Working fine here on Firefox on OpenSuse Linux, as it has for ages

US Copyright Office rules that monkeys CAN'T claim copyright over their selfies

Neil Lewis

Re: Almost, not quite

No, you don;t own the copyright of an image created by another person just by paying them, but only if they are your 'employee' in the sense that you are responsible for their tax and NI. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Neil Lewis

Re: Almost, not quite

If the assistant is an employee, i.e. their tax and NI is paid by the photographer, then no, the employer owns the copyright. That's clearly stated in current copyright law. If it's a 'freelance' i.e. casual employee or just a friend along for the shoot, then the situation would be more as you describe.

Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media

Neil Lewis

Re: GIF's?

Yes, a football stadium would count as a public place in this sense, exactly the same as any other venue where an even is staged, because tickets are available to the general public.

But that's a red herring in any case. The private place/public place issue is a privacy matter, not a copyright matter. Copyright *always* belongs to the person who creates the image (or sequence of images) and not the performer.

This story would seem to be about people sharing images or clips created by the TV companyand therefore owned by them, which have been broadcast over the internet, not images or clips surreptitiously caught by spectators on their own devices. Either that, or Murdoch's legal team are laughably clueless and sadly I don't believe that to be the case, funny as it would be.

FSF slams Mozilla for 'shocking' Firefox DRM ankle-grab

Neil Lewis


Don't underestimate just how pragmatic RMS actually is. He tends to look a long way ahead and sees outcomes others don't wish to see. While his positions can initially often look hopelessly idealistic to the naive, the passage of time has repeatedly shown them to be right on the button.

Google Glass: Reg man tests tech specs

Neil Lewis

Re: The unfortunate thing about glass is that...

Going back a (good) few years, I can remember that being the exact reaction some folks had when people began using mobile phones in the street. Doesn't seem to have stopped them catching on though, does it?

BTW, if the events you describe had actually happened.I would have no problem defending myself, either. i.e. decking whichever self-important prick thought it was any of their business if I choose to wear such a device in a public place.

Neil Lewis

Re: The unfortunate thing about glass is that...

Going back a (good) few years, I can remember that being the exact reaction some folks had when people began using mobile phones in the street. Doesn't seem to have stopped them catching on though, does it?

Microsoft asks pals to help KILL UK gov's Open Document Format dream

Neil Lewis

Re: Multiple standards

I don't really see a problem with having two truly open standards, but while ODF is truly open, the MS equivalent formats are at best an XML wrapper (the open part) around a closed binary blob.

There should be no reason why two properly open formats could not interchange data easily and with full functionality and data integrity. So long as the specifications of both are properly understood, two-way interoperability is easy enough. And most people accept that there is value in competing products, in principle, because it tends to encourage faster progress.

That others outside MS find it hard to convert to and from MS formats, and that MSOffice does not properly interoperate with ODF is by MS deliberate design, not an accident.

The problem is, and always will be, that for as long as they have a monopoly of the desktop OS ecosystem, it's not in MS interests to make their own formats truly open, nor for conversion from open to proprietary or vice-versa to be easy and reliable. They depend upon the lock-in to proprietary formats to prevent use of alternative office suites, and by extension, of alternative OSs.

If HMG and other governments mandate the use of ODF, then MS will have to make sure MSOffice can handle and interoperate properly with other office suites, including LibreOffice and others which run on OSs other than Windows.

That scenario undermines their entire lock-in mechanism, so of course they will fight tooth and nail to prevent it.

HOT AIR-FILLED Apple fanbois SHUNNED iPad 2 at Xmas

Neil Lewis

Wait a minute...

'LG is set to manufacture the screens for the widely anticipated iWatch'

An iWatch? But, ...but surely that would be BLATANTLY RIPPING OFF SAMSUNG, wouldn't it? And the super-innovative fruity ones would never steal other people's intellectual property, would they?

No, that can't possibly be true.

Facebook fans fuel faggots firestorm

Neil Lewis

Re: 'Twas ever thus

It's not about 'right of way', it's about preserving your safety in an intrinsically dangerous situation. You may have noticed that cars (a) can't stop as quickly as pedestrians (b) can't change direction as quickly as pedestrians (c) tend to be moving a lot faster than pedestrians. Vehicles contain people, too, and they have just as much right to get to where they're going as you do as a pedestrian. That's why we all have to take it in turns to have 'right of way'. If you, as a pedestrian, are too impatient to wait to take your turn, than sooner or later you'll get hurt, and it will be your own fault.

Having said that, pedestrian crossings are just another type of traffic light, and all traffic lights are horribly inefficient at managing traffic of all types.

FREEZE, GLASSHOLE! California cops bust Google Glass driver

Neil Lewis

Glass is not intrinsically unsafe


The built-in GPS in my Citroen also provides a choice of a half dozen computer modes for general info, maps and more, as well as the ability to play a feed from a connected video device. It's not illegal to have it switched on while the car is in motion, indeed, I can't recall there being any way to *not* have it on while driving, since it comes on with the ignition. It does issue a warning that the GPS should be initialised before driving off, and that it's suggestions should be taken as a guide, not orders.

It would seem that Glass would provide similar functionality, with less chance of being distracted from the road when used in a similar, safe way. Of course, that doesn't stop a fool from using it in an unsafe way.

Is anyone really saying that a device capable of providing a potentially safer way of managing navigation and other travel and vehicle info must be banned, just because it's possible to use it unsafely?

Open-source hardware hacking effort 'smacked down' by USB overlords

Neil Lewis

So, if the forum insists on being so restrictive, fork.

A new USB ID standard is clearly needed for open source hardware, which would likely have no problem finding support from free software. No need to play the forum's game at all. You'd need to install an extra piece of free software to work with free hardware in order to bypass the restrictions. Big deal.

Internet Explorer 11 BREAKS Google, Outlook Web Access

Neil Lewis

One word. DigiKam.

eBay warns investors: Don't expect 'em to stuff stockings with our tat

Neil Lewis

Re: eBay doesn't have a Christmas peak.

I believe eBay's problems are largely of their own making. I can only give a personal vtiew on this, but if my experiences and actions are repeated by others, as I think they probably are, then eBay has a lot of problems to come.

I've been selling regularly on eBay for some years, and had built up a sizeable stock - around 10,000 items worth between £15 - £50 each - in my eBay shop. That used to be a sensible way to operate, because it was relatively cheap to do and easy to maintain, thanks to eBay's discounts for sellers in that sort of position. Over the past year or two, however, that has changed. It gradually got to the point where the cost of keeping a large stock permanently listed was not justified by the volume of sales, and the fees to do so just continued to climb ever higher. As a result, I've removed almost 75% of that stock, with very little effect on my sales, but a huge reduction on the relisting fees I pay each month. I'm now paying eBay a small fraction of what I did a year ago, even though (or perhaps more accurately, because) the discounts available to small/medium sized shop sellers have been reduced so much.

Now, I may be unusual, but I don't really think so. I'm quite sure there are some sellers who can still justify maintaining a relatively huge inventory, but there must be a lot more in a position similar to me, who've done the sums and realised it makes more sense to scale drastically back on the slow-moving stock.

That just has to affect eBay's bottom line, and until the fee structures are changed again to encourage bigger inventories, I don't see why things should improve for them.

Firefox OS update adds performance, polish to Mozilla's webby mobes

Neil Lewis

Re: No MMS?

Well, it was released as a 'developer' phone, not as a consumer item. It wasn't intended for normal use, but as a means of testing and improving the system. In the free software world, the mantra is 'release early, release often' because that way more people find and report the bugs and shortcomings, and they get fixed.

iPhone rises, Android slips in US, UK

Neil Lewis


'most of Android's success is fueled by cheaper phones, not top-end iPhone competitors'

The biggest chunk of Android market share is surely the Samsung Galaxy series. Though a bit cheaper than an iPhone, these are pretty comparable in terms of cost. They're certainly not entry-level, low-price kit.

Google Glass is high fashion in September Vogue magazine

Neil Lewis

Funny juxtaposition

I found it amusing that the story about Google Glass in Vogue, expressing the view that the model looked dorky (presumably only because of the glasses and not because of any other idiosyncratic styling choices) was placed alongside an image linking to a story about Kevin Bacon - a man presumably seen as 'cool' by those paying to use him in advertising - wearing rather similar, dorky glasses. Funny that.

How did Microsoft get to be a $1.2bn phone player? Hint: NOT Windows Phone

Neil Lewis

Oh the irony.

Didn't MS build a twenty-year desktop monopoly on the back of having the applications people were used to running on Windows? It used to be that whenever Joe Public thought about switching to Linux, the main thing putting them off was not being able to run MS Office/Photoshop/AutoCAD or somesuch 'must have' program. Now the shoe's on the other foot.

Selfridges dreaming of a snot-themed Christmas

Neil Lewis


Unless this is an actual copy of a DC figurine, I'd suggest it's more likely to be a trademark issue than a copyright one...

Still, the argument most likely holds true that the driver for this technology might well be the ability to acquire freebie source files for printing 3D items by dubious means. The cost per print will have to come down a *lot* to make it desirable for such impecunious, entitlement-driven types though.

Credit card donations to WikiLeaks restored as Mastercard breaks ranks

Neil Lewis
Thumb Down

Re: Paypal is pretty criminal in itself.

It's off-topic, but you're only telling part of the story WRT eBay's attitude to counterfeits.

If you try to sell genuine, big brand goods, e.g. used Burberry, you'll be slapped down in minutes as soon as you use the brand name. Penalised if you dare to describe them as genuine goods, because the manufacturers don't want their brand diluted by a secondhand market. Effectively, you're forced to prove your innocence rather than your accuser being forced to prove your guilt.

Of course, if you're not a big brand with expensive lawyers, you have no chance trying to block copyright-breaching items from sale just by telling eBay about the offending items.

As usual, it's not about honesty or justice. It's about how big you are.

London Olympics site to become digital mega-hub

Neil Lewis
Thumb Down

Oh really

So this will be a "world-leading hub for the digital and creative industries"?

Given that the government's plans for so-called 'orphan works' is likely to decimate the actual creative industries while benefiting those who merely copy and re-use, perhaps he really means this will be a "world-leading hub for those who rip-off the creative industries on an industrial scale".

Why UK slid £150m to tax-exempt phone-mast master Arqiva

Neil Lewis

Re: tax avoidance may be the legal kind but

Not wishing to disagree with your underlying principle, but 'paying the minimum tax you can get away with' is exactly what every individual is *expected* to do. That's why you fill in a tax return.

Groupon's retail chief heads for the door... after just 1 year

Neil Lewis

Why Groupon is failing

It's quite simply because the whole 'crazy level of discount' voucher idea is exactly that - crazy and unsustainable. Not to mention deliberately dishonest. It's nothing but a marketing scam designed to prey on the unwary.

Those businesses which sign up know perfectly well that they can't provide the goods/services at the discounted price and stay in business. The voucher is never more than bait to lure in the naive and unsuspecting in order to hard-sell them loads more and make the deal viable to the business.

The trouble is, people who actually think about it realise that and aren't taken in. They either ignore the vouchers completely, or ignore the hard sell.

People who are genuinely stupid/naive enough to fall for the bait in the short term tell their friends what a scam it was afterwards. So the number of naive punters drops off pretty fast.

Either way, the basic premise for the company working with Groupon becomes untenable. They stop using Groupon or go out of business. Or both. Groupon then find they have no vouchers to sell, so their 'business model' goes up in a puff of smoke, too.

Good news: Debian 7 is rock solid. Bad news: It's called Wheezy

Neil Lewis

Re: But what can it do?

'Well the cost is in one's time, even for a home user.'

- which was precisely my point about not actually needing to spend any time at all on upgrading with a system like this. Install once and you can 'upgrade' it on a permanently rolling basis for year after year without having to spend any time doing so. That's real saving of your time. Upgrading is only an annoyance when it's a faff, and a Linux system is usually a no-brainer to keep properly up to date.

Neil Lewis

Re: But what can it do?

While the question is undoubtedly valid for a commercial OS, i.e. one you pay for and therefore expect to provide better to be worth the cost of upgrading, free software doesn't really have the same limitation.

In fact, I'd go further than that. With commercial OSs, there *has* to be a long list of questionable 'new' features just to persuade anyone to buy, irrespective of whether any of those features are actually useful or even wanted.

With a free OS like Linux, and Debian in particular, those considerations simply don't apply. The updates and improvements may only be incremental, but since it's not costing you anything, any improvements are just that - improvements. They're not simply marketing tools intended to hoodwink you into getting your wallet out. I said 'Debian in particular' for a reason, by the way. That reason is the fact that most users of Debian (and many other Linux distros) will hardly ever reinstall from scratch to get the latest and greatest version anyway. If it's set up to do so, an installed system can update itself seamlessly from one version to another with the user hardly even noticing. It won't even need a reboot unless there was a kernel update.

That's precisely why a super-stable, incrementally upgraded system like this is perfect for actual production use, not just for geeks. It quietly gets on with doing it's job (or gets out of the way of you doing yours) more or less forever instead of insisting on regular user intervention.

New Google Play terms ban non-store app updates

Neil Lewis

Re: When will we able to define *which* WiFi connection to download apps over

Presumably you're in control of the device when the original download is done, so you should know which type of connection you're using and whether or not it's costing you per MB.

When it comes to updates, Android has, for as long as I can recall, provided a setting to disable them for 3G connections. As an 'ultimate' control over metered data, you can also set all updates to ask first before downloading.