* Posts by Gareth

132 publicly visible posts • joined 5 May 2007


Google attacks Twitter's search bias claim

Thumb Up This is relevant information, especially related to celebrities and current events. The celebrity stuff is trite, but If you hear something's going on in London (eg. a riot), you Google it and want to see what's going on right now, not the history of the place back to when it was Londinium. An individual tweet is nearly worthless, as an individual pound coin is nearly worthless, but when combined into a stream of billions the movements of the stream are quite fascinating. I was a Twitter-avoider for years, but found myself going there before Google/BBC/CNN when world events happened as the real-time reports are hours ahead of the rest of the media.

'Why the hell are we paying elite crypto crackers £25k?'


@DannyAston - except you can't put it on your CV

One of the problems of a job in the intelligence services is that you can't put it on your CV - at best you can put some sort of generic "Government employee" title (not even sure if you can mention it was in IT).

Always wondered how that works, but of course no-one who actually knows is going to tell me :) I only know the latter as a friend did some contract work that was covered under the Official Secrets Act and was bemoaning that it was useless on his CV as he couldn't talk about the client or the work.

Larry Ellison takes a bath on San Fran mansion


$4m out of $33bn is the equivalent of someone who has $33k losing $4. Pretty sure he's not losing any sleep over it.

Vegas man begs web for $1m to fix gigantic scrotum


A different angle to the dangle...

The story is spun as "man denied medical care by US healthcare system", but he could have surgery under Medicaid (free healthcare for poor people) - he just wants to go private as the expensive cutting-edge techniques have more chance of saving his reproductive functions.

Same as would happen in the UK - if you don't want the NHS option, you have to pay.

Lincs bloke fined in deceased hedgehog outrage


Victim surcharge?

Does that pay for a decent burial, or does it go to hedgehog-related charities?

Facebook growth slows in stalkerbase heartlands


@Elmer Phud

"there isn't a bloody advert on telly that doesn't have a companies Facebook page to visit."

I hear from a mate with links to big ad firms that Facebook lobbies (pays?) ad firms to use Facebook URLs instead of website URLs. Clever strategy. Reminds me of "AOL keyword: blah" at the end of half the ads in the 90s.

Whole thing reminds me of AOL and look how well that turned out. Fickle hordes will move onto something else soon enough, that'll probably require a DNA sample and photocopy of your driving license to sign up to...

'I own half of Facebook', says New York fuel salesman


Social media makes people think everyone else is an idiot...

OP was perhaps a bit too condescending and in the real world people are generally fine, but try reading comments on YouTube or Fox News for an hour without coming away severely depressed about the human race.

Everyone has some odd belief - I'm pretty sure I'm a handsome undiscovered genius, my old boss was a charming multi-millionaire that would stare out the window looking for "chemtrails" on occasion, a tiny girl I once knew was convinced she was fat and ugly, a relative believes that Obama is the antichrist despite being an otherwise lovely person.

Beneath a veneer of civility, most people hold some kind of viewpoint that is bizarre or offensive to someone else... most people *are* nonsense-gibbering idiots to some degree, but it's better to ignore that side of them and focus on the nice stuff. Just the Internet does not show you the nice side of people, just the mental bit.

Conclusion - social media holds a depressing lens to the worst parts of our humanity. Go outside and talk to people.

A fifth of Europeans can't work out how much a TV costs


The least intelligent 20% are unintelligent.

We needed a study to say that at least 20% of the human race is not very sharp in the head?

Would be interested to see suggestions for what to do about it - whether it's systemic (better education) or just in terms of selling more stuff to morons (bigger writing, more obvious pricing and labelling, free shiny object?).

Fired Gucci IT worker accused of tearing up network


lost productivity costs estimated at $200,000

..."lost productivity costs estimated at $200,000" so they missed out on selling half a dozen handbags and a pair of shoes, then?

Go Daddy CEO under fire for 'elephant snuff film'


Competitors running ad campaigns about this

Got an e-mail from Namecheap with an offer for discounted domain transfers with a donation to "Save the Elephants" included.

Online world maps rub jubs against todgers


Superpowers compensating for something?

America, Russia, India and China are the world's most powerful nations, but all fall well into the lower percentile range. Compensating for much, chaps?

Diagramming for web development

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We're using OmniGraffle and Illustrator in our agency setting, depending on whose doing the layouts (developers like Omni, designers like Illustrator).

Something I've noticed picking up as a trend is to wireframe (or even design) directly into the browser, either hand-coding or using a tool like Dreamweaver (I know, I know...). The advantage is it lets you create a live mockup where links, layouts, etc display in a familiar interface. If done properly, the prototype can even serve as the base of the real layout.

Wireframes/prototypes are great for communicating with technical people, but for less technical clients prepare for a lot of "Why's my website all grey and boxy? What's all this greek text derp derp...". Solutions to that problem welcomed :)

Microsoft rallies IE6 death squads


Corporate lock-in is the big reason for IE6 not being dead

Working for a corporation with 20,000+ workstations and we *finally* got to drop support for IE6 from our consumer-facing websites this year. Internal websites still need to support it as there's around 1,000 systems that are locked in due to very expensive proprietary medical applications that only support IE6. Seriously considering picketing the vendor's office.

Optus: Google, eBay just as dangerous as network monopolies


lol wut?

Still not sure what this article is about after a couple of reads... Who is Optus and what is the NBN for us non-aussies? What is a seeker mechanism? A little background would be nice.

Is O'Sullivan suggesting that access to websites should be artificially restricted to territories (that are presumably allocated by a regulator or bought), so that local companies have a fair go?

If so, how is that *less* restrictive than the current system where anyone can build a new website (from home, or their Harvard dorm), open it up and potentially attract a worldwide audience?

Google open video codec faces second challenger


Dammit, how is this helping innovation?

All I want to do is allow our clients to upload short video clips to their corporate websites so they can tell their employees/customers about widgets. Was hoping HTML5 would be the end of screwing around with ffmpeg, Flowplayer, Flash plugins, etc... looks like these patent trolls are going to set web video back 2-3 years while they try to leech some cash out of it. Parasites!

Verizon backpedals on unlimited iPhone data



Yes. You pay for incoming calls too. US mobile is 3-5 years behind Europe, which is 3-5 years behind Japan...

Sprint introduces $10 smartphone premium


Bye bye Sprint

Sprint is already having issues competing with the big two (AT&T/Verizon) and has recently tried to rebrand themselves with a focus on always-on data ("The Now Network"). Surely charging a big surcharge for data completely undermines that?

Also, for a country as technologically advanced as it is, cellphone service and adoption here is years behind Europe/UK. Seems to be a combination of monopolistic practices (CDMA is a crappy, proprietary technology that the rest of the world ignores), calls that were already cheap so no incentive for the masses to start buying mobiles and texting, and the logistics of building the infrastructure over a much larger area. Whatever caused it, the US is a bit backwards in cell tech.

Drupal 7 dives into machine-readable web


Default to allow

This is more exciting than just another acronym being implemented... RSS benefited greatly from being switched on by default in WordPress as it was no longer something that only techie types went to the trouble to enable. RDFa by default in a major CMS platform is a huge step forward for the semantic web.

Frenchies, Germans wave fat pipes at embarrassed Brits


Weird study metrics

Are the UK and China really below Somalia, North Korea, etc? Or is there some "...amongst some countries" footnote that is missing either from this report or Ofcom? Same with "super fast broadband" - is that "anything above modem speed", or "anything above 10MBit"?

UK needs more competition in fixed telecoms - we lead in mobile because there's plenty of providers and networks to choose from. Fixed is still dominated by that old dinosaur BT who are still confused at why people aren't happy with paying 10p/min to make voice calls over 30 year old copper...

Facebook homes in on world of Google


We're all self-perpetuating media nodes, now?

Nathan Barley was more prophetic than we thought...

Open source Drupal takes Gardens path to big business


Hosted CMS' not for Enterprises?

Are you sure about Gardens, Squarespace, other SaaS CMS' being enterprise-oriented? Seems to me that they are more aimed at small(er) businesses who don't have the resources or staff to manage complex websites in-house.

The larger enterprises I've worked with have in-house teams and a strong desire to keep everything hosted internally.

Joomla is awful for non-trivial projects (ie. anything that's not a brochure site or small social network). Drupal isn't all that great either but they're moving in the right direction, and it's far faster to build a solid content-driven application in Drupal than in a lower level framework like Zend.

Firesheep developer poohpoohs mitigation tools


@The BigYin

Yup, it's that simple. If you control the router, the answer is as simple as turning on WPA encryption. I manage a few small public wifi networks (cafes, hotels, that kind of thing) and gave them a simple key (the SSID, or "internet" or similar). No more Firesheep.

Linux bug bestows attackers with 'superuser' powers


No need to highlight "jargon"

The target audience of this site is fully aware of what a "superuser" is, no need to put it in the "scary technical term" quotes.

Incidentally, are we talking root access or privilege escalation?

More jargon please!

Apple threatens Java with death on the Mac


Big deal for PHP developers too - Eclipse, Aptana, Netbeans...

Eclipse, Aptana, Netbeans, etc are all Java-based. This is a big deal for PHP developers.

TV numbers sink as iOS usage rises

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Bad science

So the combined audience of social gaming is comparable to the audience for a single prime time TV show?

What's the audience of the largest single social games in comparison? The "apple-to-every single orange in the store combined" comparison doesn't seem that useful outside of a press release.

Critical Internet Resources not so critical


Everything's just peachy?

Is the lack of energy because, by and large, the Internet is currently working pretty well and the IGF's job is, for the moment, mostly complete?

Happiness: Yours for £50k a year


All relative?

Bogle: In other words, 50% of people are less happy than average...

I wonder if this is relative? If $50k is the median and $75k is what it takes to make you happy in the US, is it also true that in places where the median income is $365 (the famous third-world $1/day stat), are you happiest in those societies when you're earning $547?

Is the happiness dependent on the income of others around you? If you earn $75k and hang out with millionaires all day, are you more miserable than someone earning $75k who moves in circles where the income is $25-50k?

Short passwords 'hopelessly inadequate', say boffins


Context is important

All well and good, I'll certainly use 12 characters for my online banking. However, I wish newspapers, blogs, etc. would use less strict passwords - used one the other day that needed 8+ characters with numbers and mixed case, for a site with no useful data that I'd probably only log into a handful of times.

Empires built on free code aren't cheap


You mean setting up a giant company isn't free yet??

Echoing the sentiment of above; why is it news that setting up a company that provides service to a notable percentage of the world's population is still expensive? Surely the cost of doing that has still come way, way down compared to what it would have cost 20, 10 or even 5 years ago.

Also, the level at which low-level customization of infrastructure is required keeps on rising - the percentage of companies that even need to do this is falling. I'm working with enterprise clients with regional markets for their sites and the most we've had to do for performance is to tune Apache and memcache.

The bar continues to lower. Maybe the cutting edge giants are not the place it should lower to - those guys will always need more than they can get off the shelf. Is it even a realistic goal to want to provide everything for them in a stock install?

Drupal looks beyond open source zealots


Backwards-compatibility is overrated...

Changing the API for new versions and providing legacy support (5.x is still officially supported) is acceptable practice for a young product. Perhaps when they have 10% of the Internet and are 10 or 11 releases in then it will not make sense.

There is a trade-off between backwards compatibility and innovation. Drupal is really only in it's fourth major release (versions <4 were essentially a bunch of scripts used by Dries to run personal websites). To retain 100% backwards compatibility is a lot of work that is better directed towards innovating and removing issues that are holding back innovation.

Look at what happened to DOS/Windows - 25 years on and we're only just getting free from poor decisions made at the beginning.

Seagate announces ugly diskless NAS filer


Industrial design

I kind of like the design, looks industrial and solid. Apple's minimalist chic is getting old, and looks like a poor rip-off when other companies do it. I like equipment that wouldn't look out of place in a 1970s NASA control room :)

Also, the cost is because of the limited market for these things - mostly businesses who would prefer to pay $400 for something that just works (and can be returned under warranty if it breaks) than a cobbled together $200 Linux PC that only one staff member understands.

Facebook buys, kills travel rec site


Hiring bonus?

So basically, the founders got hired for a day-job at Facebook, and FB bought their startup for a nominal fee as a hiring bonus?

Google: Android fragmentation isn't fragmentation


Isn't this how open platforms are supposed to work?

Surely rapid iteration and deployment is a good thing, and the resulting compatibility chaos is a natural side effect of a vibrant and active market developing around the platform?

Early adopters are used to half-baked ideas and fast obsolescence, and Android is definitely an early-adopter's platform still.

It's one of the more annoying aspects of open source, but eventually things settle down and the technology moves into the mainstream. Hopefully it can achieve some stability by then as mainstream consumers won't put up with it.

IFPI wants another stab at OiNK



The million-dollar recording artist is an anomaly in the history of music which lasted for a few decades in the 20th Century.

The money didn't even come from the music, it came from the packaging and distribution of recordings (as you can see from the artists who're making the most money from music now, manufactured pop acts and aging rockers living off decades old re-issues).

Now packaging and distribution is heading towards obsolescence it appears the age of the rock star is dying out. I'm sure we will all miss a world without future Britneys and Bonos...

Guinness to hit three quid a pint


Low prices != binge drinking

Here in the US you can buy a six pack of cheap lager for under $4, vodka for $10/750ml. Bars will sell you a pint of generic lager for $1-$3.

Yet people here drink far less than they do in Blighty, and I think I've seen one or two minor scuffles in the 3 years I've been here (compared to seeing serious injuries and near-riots nearly every time I went out in the UK).

Now I am no longer broke after buying a couple of pints I'll often go out for a meal or to watch a movie as part of my evening out, rather than just spending the whole night in the pub.

The whole "cheap booze leads to binge drinking" idea is completely wrong - it just pushes people to extremes. They'll either quit drinking so they can afford to do other things, or stop doing other things so they can afford to drink.

Israel tests biometric database


Not the first national database of Jews...

Surprised they're willing to give it another shot, given the rather unfortunate outcome last time a country tried to build a database of all it's Jewish inhabitants.

Cyber security minister ridiculed over s'kiddie hire plan

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Most of those hackers grew up and became security pros...

I had some vague attachment to that scene in the mid to late 90s (and that's all I'm willing to admit...).

It was made up of very smart, disaffected middle class kids who were in it mainly for the rebelliousness/intellectual curiosity angle, rather than hardened criminals. Funny as it sounds for someone reading the tabloid headlines there were lengthy considerations on the ethics involved - not damaging anything, not deleting anything other than what was required to cover your tracks, etc.

All the kids from that scene I stayed in touch with have grown up and now occupy some rather high-level industry positions, in security or otherwise. Wozniak and Gates have admitted similar interests in their distant past.

These are the sort of people who are going to apply for the position anyway, so why not announce that it's OK for them to mention their youthful indiscretions in the interview?

Google Voice invites callers



You pay to call mobiles here in the US, just as the numbers are mixed in with the local area codes the caller only pays the local rate and the numbers are indistinguishable from other local numbers.

If you are on Pay as You Go or similar then you pay to receive mobile calls, but most US plans these days include free incoming calls.

Other than that the main difference is the expense/lack of good data services compared to Europe, although this can be partially excused by the country being ridiculously vast, so any infrastructure upgrade is considerably more of an undertaking than in small, densely populated European countries.

Apart from that everything's the same - overpriced calls, poor customer service, buggy handsets, etc...

Extreme porn law used on beastly Chinese DVD pirates


Non-simulated non-consensual acts should be illegal?

I'm as dubious about the new extreme porn laws as the next Liberty/ACLU fanboy, but isn't the law justifiable here?

The grey area in the new laws is the criminalization of material which simulates various extreme acts between otherwise consensual participants.

As animals are unable to give informed consent yet face potential harm from participating then surely there is no grey area here - any hardcore animal porn is going to be showing a real, un-simulated, un-consensual act and there is good reason to make production and distribution of it a crime.

AT&T jettisons the last of its Usenet


Binaries destroyed Usenet

Usenet was a pretty useful and entertaining part of the Internet back in the day, when the Internet was just a bunch of nerds. Just like how SMTP was a pretty good e-mail protocol.

After all, who needs features like accountability and authentication when everyone knows that there's strict etiquette to be followed and you risk getting flamed if you should violate those unwritten rules...

Japanese games group to ban twisted 'sex torture' sims


Sad day for SomethingAwful

I'd only ever heard of these games via SomethingAwful's hilarious reviews. The games seem pretty terrible by any standards of gameplay, graphics, etc.

Shouldn't US civil rights campaigners focus on, er, rights being abused or denied?

Not sure how the availability of a video game is any kind of priority given the awful abuses of rights which happen to real, flesh and blood people in less civilized regions of the world (including the US - nice work on Proposition 8, California...)

Bada Bing tickles UK fancies

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Really? Maybe I'll give Bing another chance, then...

I'd glanced at Bing for all of 30 seconds and gone back to Google, didn't even get to the dirty video thumbnails... think I'll be going back now. Great ad for the service.

(Mine's the dirty raincoat...)

BNP DDoS 'mega-assault' not actually mega in the least


@"The BNP is a legitimate political party"

The BNP has gotten into a lot of trouble for inciting racial hatred, which is quite rightly illegal.

They've tried to clean up their public image a bit recently, but nasty old racism is alive and well under the surface, especially with the rank-and-file of the party.

Not to mention that hosting services are privately owned businesses and can deny service to anyone they see fit (except, ironically, on the basis of race/gender/etc)...

Google derides 'dinosaur' system integrators


@Michelle Knight

"...the bandwidth that optical links will deliver will already be eaten up and there will be no black fiber left anywhere in the UK network. The cloud as a mass market solution doesn't work; can't work; won't work. End of. And if I'm wrong, I'll buy a hat with the sole purpose of eating it."

Isn't that like saying, in 1900, that there can't possibly be more than 100 cars because they'll use up all the available roads?

Assuming bandwidth follows the same Moore's Law which has held up quite well over the past 50 years, there'll be no Great Bandwidth Shortage any time soon...

Take-Two sues over death of Duke Nukem Forever

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Who cares...

As John T said, the game would have been a flop no matter what.

In '96, Duke Nukem 3D was a spectacular, groundbreaking game. In 2009, things have moved on - the adult theme bar has been pushed back by games like GTA and today's new generation of gamers has no memory of the original.

Shame as I was eagerly anticipating this game throughout the latter part of my teens. Now I couldn't care less.

Wall Street Journal wants your micro-payments

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Worth the bother?

Does anyone here regularly use micropayment services to access single articles?

I know every time I see a site asking for $0.01-$5 for information I can normally find a "good enough" substitute article with a bit of searching around, especially considering the extra time it takes to go through finding my credit card, entering the number, reading small print to make sure there's no hidden fees, etc.

Think I've micro-payed (if that's a word) once, for an academic paper which was the only source for the information I needed. General news stories and editorial comment can be found in a million other places.

As with many things, The Economist seems to be getting it right - free web content for recent issues, then archive material is available to subscribers. Also, they sell a range of rather expensive reports for businesses based on material gathered by their research department.

OpenOfficers pitch Oracle on life after Sun

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"OpenOffice lags Office considerably in functionality"

Another disagreement with that statement here. OO lags Office considerably in bloat, but not actual features that 90% of the (non-enterprise) population uses.

I'm no foaming open-source zealot but OpenOffice is simply the best tool for the job in most small business environments when taking into account the total cost of ownership (yes, including support).

I'm sure that MS Office is better in an enterprise setting where everything else is MS, but most of the businesses I've recommended OpenOffice to when faced with spending thousands on Office upgrade licenses have switched and never looked back.

Tata win Child Maintenance COTS IT deal

Paris Hilton

COTS Definition?

Pardon my ignorance, but how "off the shelf" is the software part of a COTS-based project?

Would adding a few forms to an Access database mean it's no longer COTS?

A VB front-end to an SQL server database?

An Excel spreadsheet with a few macros?

Even the largest custom projects leverage some pre-built components (even if it's just the operating system it runs on and the compiler used to build it), and outside of niche-industry "Pro Dentist Contact Manager" style apps most off the shelf software will be extended a little with macros/forms/templates to meet a particular task.

What's the crossover point from COTS to Custom?

Designer pitches solar-powered AA battery


Flat version?

Ignoring all puns about batteries going flat, I wonder if there's any reason it has to be rolled up?

If it could still work properly in it's unrolled/flexible state then a larger, but super-thin battery could produce some interesting possibilities for very thin devices - especially if the cost is comparable to a standard AA battery.

Disposable digital paper, anyone?

Economists: European ancestors are what make you rich


Economic Migrants rather than Race a Factor?

Surely the key factor here is that people descended from families who have been economic migrants are successful, rather than the fact they're from Europe?

For example, British Pakistani families tend to be successful entrepreneurs, as migrant Jews have been almost everywhere they've settled, despite not being of magical European blood.

This would correlate with research that shows immigrants being responsible for a disproportionate number of startup companies (50%+ in Silicon Valley).

The dull, unmotivated members of a nationality will stay at home while the ambitious upstarts will take themselves to where they see opportunity. Nothing to do with race or ancestry.