* Posts by Francis Fish

282 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Aug 2006


I work therefore I ache: Logitech aims to ease WFH pains with Ergo M575 trackball mouse

Francis Fish

I've used one of these designs for years

TBH the main reason I use it is real estate. You just have to place your hand on it and move the cursor. I also set the first button to be a carriage return rather than back. So you click, get the confirmation box, and press return without having to move your hand.

The scrolling comment is interesting - I spin the ball when I want to get across screens, which is also something you can't do with a conventional mouse.

I can 'proceed without you', judge tells Julian Assange after courtroom outburst

Francis Fish

Re: What a weapon...

A man is being tortured with solitary confinement and might be facing a death sentence for the crime of exposing war crimes

You don't care?

Well, how nice for you

Intel's security light bulb moment: Chips to recruit GPUs to scan memory for software nasties

Francis Fish

That slide!

That slide on the tweet. It's not death by PowerPoint, is massacre by PowerPoint.

Total WIPOut: IT chief finds his own job advertised

Francis Fish


"The US government has withheld funding from WIPO because of its failure to protect whistleblowers."

Don't do as I do, do as I say.

Hey, folks. Meet the economics 'genius' behind Jeremy Corbyn

Francis Fish

There's an interesting point about those industries being crap

They were crap because they were crap. And the post-war "let's buy up some nascent industry and make an industrial world-beating giant out of it" (such as the unlamented Leyland cars) was madness. I don't disagree. Public ownership let them get away with doing stupid things and not killing of bad ideas, but they were badly run, fundamentally, by people who didn't know what they were doing. The two are not synonymous - there are a raft of very large companies that waste a huge amount of time, money and talent but are now so large they just keep plodding on being useless but doing just enough to not fail.

Public owned is not synonymous with crap, the NHS might get slagged off a lot but it way better than the alternative - the people who run these organisations need to be well motivated and held accountable in an honest and fair way - you will get good companies that deliver good services, particularly if you involve the people who consume those services and design what you do around their needs rather than some idiot bureaucrat deciding what they will want.

My problem with so-called old labour is they will just create the old post-war command and control organisations, because that's all they know how to do, instead of making something amazing that will show the world that you can do more with less without having to compromise on what your citizens get from their taxes.

But there are huge awfully run companies everywhere - most of them aren't publicly owned. Next time you start screaming at the call centre for your ISP remember this.

If Microsoft made laptops, it'd make this: HP Spectre x360

Francis Fish

I've had 2 HP machines overheat and fry the motherboard just after the guarantee ran out - I won't buy another.

Facebook echo chamber: Or, the British media and the election

Francis Fish

Spend too much - you must be a Tory press reader.

"Spend too much" - no they didn't. That's part of the problem. The Tories created a narrative that blames Labour for the crisis and paints them as the saviours of the economy - when it was an international phenomenon and their stupid austerity policies killed the recovery. When they took over things weren't that bad - then we had dingbat austerity killing the recovery based on the now disproved theories of one (yeah, one) academic who cooked his figures.

Labour thought we were all too thick to understand the counter argument so didn't even try. Her majesty's opposition sat there like the bunch of steaming puddings they are. All because they thought we couldn't grasp the very simple argument that a country's finances aren't managed the same way you would manage a household budget.

By the way - I hate Labour and am not defending them from partisanship, just from the facts.


Oracle data centre offers its back end to banking upstart

Francis Fish
Black Helicopters

Do Hampden's clients know that State Dept snoops can now get their data?

At leas, that's my understanding of current US law. Regardless of the data centre being in the UK. IANAL, and I could be wrong, of course.

HP says it will sue former Autonomy CFO Sushovan Hussein

Francis Fish

Autonomy aren't saints either

Friend of mine got fkd over by them, greedy, happy to shaft customers. Kinda made for each other, did someone bring the popcorn?

MacBook Air 13-inch: If you squint hard enough, you'll see a lesser-spotted Apple Price Cut

Francis Fish

Re: All OS'es are rubbish.

"I just start typing what I want" - only joined the Apple crew in 2010, if you press cmd-space and start typing, guess what happens? But nice to see they've finally caught up.

There were a lot of apps you could add to windows that would do this, of course.

I will use Win 8 on a surface or touch enabled machine, it looks OK and will do the job. But most of my tools and apps I prefer are on my old Macbook.

In the period since we bought the Macbook we've been through 3 wintel machines. 2 HP's overheated and destroyed the motheboard and relatively cheap midrange Lenovo just decided it couldn't be arsed booting after just over a year (surprise!). So we have 3 machines that together cost more than my Macbook all being paperweights.

Apple tax, my arse. If my business partner didn't need Windows because she's a trainer and most of her clients use it we wouldn't bother. Windows is expensive because the machines are designed with an 18 month shelf life and upgrading office (from list) costs 10 X what upgrading the Apple equivalents do.

Be the next tech hotshot – by staying the hell away from regulators

Francis Fish
Paris Hilton

There are a couple of simple things that could be done

For example, businesses are expected to pay tax on their profits from day 1. I believe in the US you don't have to pay taxes for the first 5 years.

I first heard this point made back in the Thatcher era, you could keep winnings from the lottery without being taxed but actually making something that people want you are expected to pay right away. This is why we live in a casino economy - it's doesn't encourage long term thinking and punishes the profitable.

Moving the VAT threshold would help too. Hitting the magic £80k (or whatever it is) is quite easy to do if you have 5 or so employees, and suddenly you have to charge your customers more. This doesn't encourage people to grow or invest.

Fisher-Price in hot seat: iPad bouncy chair lets APPLE BABYSIT tots – parents

Francis Fish

Oh, rilly?

"The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood condemned the product for discouraging parents to interact with their babies."

Grown ups can make decisions for themselves, if they're going to be bad parents this shiny thing will make no difference. How some app can discourage me from doing anything I choose to do or not do is a mystery.

If you don't like it don't buy it. Others will make their choices as they like. This whining is wrapping *parents* in cotton wool.

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf predicts the future, fears Word-DOCALYPSE

Francis Fish

Re: Cant beat ASCII

Except when it's utf-8 - been burned by the two char space that looks fine in all editors but doesn't render properly when you turn it into a book.

More seriously - only geeks like us use text. This doesn't help at all. I think the point other people are making about OpenOffice is valid. I've personally had far more success with it opening documents that MS own software. I even managed to rescue most of the content from a document that Word had completely broken.

Peak Facebook: British users lose their Liking for Zuck's ad empire

Francis Fish

Install adblocker

All the crap just goes away. I never see it. I get to content that's relevant and isn't spammy. I get to companies' websites when I want something they have.

I did used to do things like mark Homeopathy clinics that claim they can cure cancer as lies (or whatever the button is).

I also installed http://someonewhocares.org/hosts/, which has cured a lot of this anyway.

Only global poverty can save the planet, insists WWF - and the ESA!

Francis Fish

Re: There are too many of us

Ah yes, but, ... a great chunk of what we use now wasn't regarded as resources years ago because we couldn't do anything with it. The overuse of oil is becoming worrying, but I do think that economics will sort it out eventually. The danger is some kind of oil is mandatory cabal will get together with the too many people thinking, strangle innovation, make us all eat kelp products and call it progress. This can only lead to poverty and suffering for the large number of people in the world who are still trying to get a decent standard of living for themselves and their kids. They need better technology than we have now.

Personally don't want to turn my back on these people, whatever Attenborough may say.

Francis Fish

Re: There are too many of us

Nope - according to the original Malthusian nonsense we all died years ago. This is just more of the same. The all assume fixed resources and no human ingenuity. If you look at anything around you, from your shoes to the computer you read this on the amount of resources needed to produce it has dropped radically over the last few years. Compared with the amount of energy Victorians needed to live we're doing really well on a fraction of the resources per person.

I remember people talking about the appalling starvation in Biafra and other places when I was a kid - subtext being "too many (black) people" - it was racist bollocks. In fact, when the economies pick up in those places a lot of the time the problem was not *enough* people, at least with a decent education. It was nasty politics and wars that killed those poor Africans. The Malthusian agenda of population matters is just a gentler version of allowing the disparities that caused these wars to continue for cynical political reasons.

As an example of this kind of double standard I remember the debate about sanctions against Iraq around the time of the first Gulf War. The right wing just wanted to go to go bomb Saddam and the left wanted to starve the Iraqis - I think the right wing position was more honest.

Population matters is this kind of softer approach - be more honest to just shoot people, but then the reality would be too hard to stomach.

Maybe I'm wrong.

Hampshire council throws BYOD party, hires extra security

Francis Fish

Re: IT literate?

Driving a car and fixing it aren't the same thing. Come on.

Who killed ITV Digital? Rupert Murdoch - but not the way you think

Francis Fish
Thumb Up

Re: Straw clutching

Yeah - done at both ends indeed - I can't watch Channel 1 on Freeview - seems about 5 mins of content an hour. The idea of paying for it, quite frankly, turns me right off.

I read somewhere that they don't make that much from ads anyway - could show a lot less of them, but then of course you'd need more than 10 mins of content per 20 broadcast time, wouldn't you?

Steve Jobs' death clears way for Apple-Android peace talks

Francis Fish


"it has just been awarded a new patent on parental control of children's spending, so a child could have an iTunes account but every transaction (or every transaction above a certain point) would have to be authorised by the parent."

I'm sure that Microsoft already have something like this for their gaming platforms. And I also thought that you weren't supposed to be able to patent the bleedin' obvious.

HP, Dell warn of price hikes after Foxconn wage rise

Francis Fish

How big a rise?

I mean, a quid?


I would be bothered because?

I suppose if things aren't £299, but become £305 it's harder for the marketers, but so what?

Climategate ruling: FOIA requests cover backup servers too

Francis Fish

When I were a nipper in the 1970's

There was deffo gonna be a new ice age, and too many black people (of course the starving was caused by wars from post-colonial fall out, but who's counting).

This is why I'm cynical - dodgy science and scientists not behaving like scientists not withstanding.

Groupon, Deutsche Telekom to cake EU in coupons

Francis Fish


How would the marketing droids pay their mortgages? </rhetorical question>

'Mainstream media' mute in SOPA piracy debate

Francis Fish

That hot coffee thing

Mickey D's used to keep their coffee really hot and the lawsuit where somebody burned themselves was justified. It's often used in the 'consumers are stupid' debate - but in fact there was no need to serve the coffee at that temperature and they deserved what they got.

It would suit the large corps to stop the litigation culture, but that would probably be even worse if it's the only way that they will pay attention to the safety of the rest of us. That said, bankrupting small shops because someone happened to slip on some flower petals is also downright stupid. I don't have an answer to this one.

iPad typos are Apple's fault, not yours - new claim

Francis Fish

I think predictive also means it guesses what key you might be typing

I remember reading somewhere that it predicts what you might be typing next and makes some keys have a larger hit area (without changing the display).

Maybe the problem's with that algorithm?

Plastic semiconductor makes solar cells more efficient

Francis Fish

I think what poor old MooseNC means is

50% more of not a lot is still not a lot. A bit like the equal pay rows of yore.

Royal Mail double-dip billing bug enrages stocking-filling biz

Francis Fish

Migrate to a new platform? In the busiest part of the year?

Idiots. Just ...

I did work in one place where we were forced to do a major update on the 24th, at about 16:00. And then the support guys had their holiday ruined.


I hear they're about to do it again this year too - but I don't work there any more.

Where am I going tomorrow? My electric car charger wants to know

Francis Fish


Just charge the car off peak and be done with it

Chaos feared after Unix time-zone database is nuked

Francis Fish

Please ...

read the post this refers to, plus the comments. And the article makes clear that the suit is ambiguous, don't call a man out who did something that benefited others unless you are willing to do something just as useful yourself.

Ellison: 'There'll be nothing left of IBM once I'm done'

Francis Fish

I've seen this before - it used to be Microsoft

I remember an internal presentation waaaaaay back when I was an Oracle employee, but it was Microsoft then.

Nothing new here, he just keeps changing the enemy.

The thing that costs money isn't the server kit or licences, it's the yards of programmers needed to make them do useful things - if they already know IBM's offering and are effective with it, why the hell would you go to Oracle, and have to retrain them all while accepting lower productivity for several months, maybe even years? Madness.

Ballmer reprises 'developers, developers, developers' chant

Francis Fish

Pushing the market to work their way works for Apple

So ... why do MS fail where Apple succeed? I think maybe Apple has more sex appeal. But don't forget MS real customers are corporate - massive site licences for their product and that desktop lock down. By definition, this isn't the mobile market - it's now the dinosaur market.

9/11: The day we lost our privacy and power

Francis Fish

False positives

It only works if there are no false positives, or the probability of them is about the same as their occurrence. Doctrow's "Little Brother" discusses this really well.

UBS tells IT contractors: Take a 10% pay cut ... or 100%

Francis Fish

Of course, the agency could deal with this

By only taking 15% rake off instead of 30 - cynical, moi?

SQL survives murder attempt by mutant stepchild

Francis Fish

I keep seeing people remapping their ORM onto these tools too

I generally work with Rails and we did do some stuff with Mongo (before we threw it out and did a warehouse - which is SQL but deffo not relational IMHO).

The thing that annoyed me was someone wrote an adaptor that worked fine with the tool and gave you some useful abstractions that modelled the way it actually *worked* - then some other dimwit came along and tried to make it look like Active Record - then the developers tried to use it like it *is* active record.

It fell into a world of pain - it works differently, it has a different use case, it uses map/reduce. Don't try and make it look like something with SQL underneath it - use it how it was intended an you will get what you need. A list of key/value pairs you can get to quickly from a key, or a large set of relatively homogenous data you can ask questions of. SQL-type joins just eat resources because you *always* have to do the equivalent of a full table scans to join your reduced sets together. We kept using up all of the memory on our Mongo instance once it got past a certain size.

Pick the right use case, this stuff is brilliant. But the number of use cases compared with SQL is really tiny.

Pedantically, SQL doesn't do a good chunk of the relational model, it's a pragmatic attempt at something that did the bits that were easiest to implement (in the 1980's). A system that implemented a true relational model (as in tuples that contain whole rows, for example) would do everything these systems do and SQL can do. Have a trawl around the O'Reilly catalogue for some of Chris Date's newer work.

I've no idea how to implement this though. But the theory is really sound and complete.

Apple iCloud pricing revealed

Francis Fish


Nope ... I _implied_ Dropbox more use and doesn't have the lock in. Didn't say anything about it being cheaper, but there's not much in it.

I don't need any more free email. I had a macmail account years ago and it just disappeared, I think the domain was sold to Apple. Been on google mail ever since.

I've already got all of the rest of it with my Android phone and google (it even links to my work email running on MS tech). I don't miss my iPhone, but do use a Macbook for coding, but that's because it works for me. I can also add any service I bloody well like, if it has an app, without Apple's permission.

Francis Fish

So I pay for an Apple-only service or carry on using Dropbox

The free dropbox works for most people with modest needs and you can up your box size by referring people.

My business pays $135/yr and I think it's a good service. I get 50GB and infinite undo if I need it. Without the infinite undo it's $99. I can get to it on my Linux/Windows and Mac machines, without the lock in.

Most of us don't need webmail any more - most of us already have it from Google/Yahoo or Microsoft, for free. Anyone remember the now defunct Macmail?

It seems very late and very lame to me.

Microsoft man saves drowning woman

Francis Fish

The noise is from the iCrap headphones Apple supply

Seriously, the noise you hear is because the 'phones Apple supply are really poor quality and not very good at actually sending the noise into the person's ear. I do agree some people have their music really loud - but if the phones weren't crap you wouldn't know - and they wouldn't need to have them set so loud either.

Cue Fanboi rants ...

Google Go strikes back with C++ bake-off

Francis Fish
Paris Hilton

Long term maintenance?

I wonder how readable each was? It's long term maintenance that bothers me. The fact that you can optimise the hell out of some code doesn't mean it's readable or won't be so brittle it blows up in your face if you want to make a minor change.

Very leery of optimising code. Profilers can ofter point to subtle bugs where you're doing things too many times, initialising something expensive a lot, but always skeptical about optimising things too much, as it's usually me that has to pick things up afterwards.

Google to be hit by US anti-trust probe - report

Francis Fish

Aw ...


FBI fat-thumbs data centre raid

Francis Fish

This isn't cloud computing ...

It's bog-standard data centre computing.

That's the problem - This would be almost impossible to do without seizing every machine in a cloud scenario.

Do try to keep up.

Microsoft+HTML: The antidote to iOS and Android

Francis Fish

Scala for Android

Still looking into it, but much less typing and messing about with bazillions of anonymous inner classes. And it's not C pretending to be a bad implementation of smalltalk.

Google Chrome OS: Too secure to need security?

Francis Fish

I do run AV on my Macbook

I run ClamXav - never gets in my way, just keeps on keepin' on, doesn't lock the machine up.

Oh, and it's Open Source

Zuckerberg: Give me your children

Francis Fish

You aren't the demographic

Your IT knowledge and how far back it goes is irrelevant. It's a simple replacement for sending a group mail (either snail or e) to keep your friends up to date and sharing photos and so on.

You obviously don't need it - fine.

I find the sites useful and twitter has replaces RSS for me - but whatever suits your needs.

Reg ed rattles the Red-Headed League

Francis Fish


He has been known to call himself Jaffro (ginger afro) - he's now over six foot tall and hasn't been bothered in a while ;) He just looks down from on high and they shut up.

I just want people to think a bit harder about throw away comments and about how they would feel if it became a big deal that they had blue eyes or whatever - it's what's inside that counts. The odd comment is part of life and I wouldn't care one way or the other, it's the consistent bullying that I have trouble with.

And the original context was "ginger step-child" - which I think is *really* nasty. As in ginger is synonymous with unloved - not funny.

I had a row on linked in with some tosser who bullied someone out of a place I used to work a few months ago - as in "wtf would I link to you"? That was fun. He didn't understand why I wouldn't link to him - weird.

Francis Fish

Yeah, yeah whatever

Personally not a red head but my son is - the bullying was so bad he walks to school and won't get on the bus and of course the school did f-all. You say this isn't prejudice? If you say so.

That's why I get irritated, I'm not hypersensitive - just don't like bullies or normalising bullying. Of course, with a name like Fish I used to get it all through school anyway. So maybe my hypersensitivity comes from disliking bullying and so on?

I left school with a broken nose and 8 O levels in the 70's - again this mustn't count as abuse in your lexicon.

That's why I don't like it - I don't like this kind of crap being thought of as acceptable because of where it can lead. I stand up to it now, even when it's uncomfortable.


MobileMe drove Steve Jobs to foul-mouthed fury

Francis Fish

Oh, please

I can't be arsed with you - troll off.

Francis Fish

Can we stop that redheaded stepchild crap

Just because English people are scared of celts, doesn't make it ok. It's still racism. Bet you wouldn't say 'black stepchild'.

Woz snubs Paul Allen, praises pea soup

Francis Fish

Nokia weren't inept

The carrier controlled what got connected to their networks. They decided we were too stupid for devices like the iPhone. Apple had the cachet to change this - this was a good thing. It's a shame that Nokia and others didn't have the same power - but they didn't.

Not having some designs waiting ready for the dam to finally break, that *was* inept.

ICT classes in school should be binned – IT biz body

Francis Fish

Sounds ideal, but

Anyone with those skills is either working in a job that doesn't require all the form filling and govt BS, or is teaching at Uni level.

They can't afford people who can teach that stuff. So they teach MS and trivial web design (using MS tools, so you don't get to understand HTML).

No idea how to fix this one.

Sanity saver: Fedora 15 answers Ubuntu's Unity

Francis Fish

Oh, no, not another Apple-ism

Apple do this alt key crap. If you want 'extended' features hold down alt when you've opened a menu. My favourite is textmate - replace in current selection needs you to hit alt when you've selected some text - this is one of the reasons I stopped using it.

It can be quite entertaining to select the menus in your app of choice and press alt and shift and see what functions they think you're too stupid to see.

It's in the Apple style guidelines somewhere - and it's complete arse.

Stop sexing up IT and give Civil Servants Macs, says gov tech boss

Francis Fish

I've had an encrypted home directory on my Mac for years

Seriously, it's two mouse clicks.

I would also lay money that most of the govt pc's have no encryption at all. Straw man time.