* Posts by Robin 2

33 publicly visible posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

Usenet's home shuts down today

Robin 2

Rising costs = decreased funding

Time of crisis and all that....

EU privacy watchdogs say Facebook changes 'unacceptable'

Robin 2

Why can friends share my data?

I Use facebook irrelgularly - just logged in to find 3 month old unread birthday greetings!

I thought I'd check out my privacy settings. Whilst my personal info and contact info was fine (I think I'd set these a few months back) I was quite surprised to see that my "friends" can share pretty much all of my information with 3rd party applications. Huh??? I never gave them that permission. This is quite scary. Only me, myself and I should be able to decide what info about me a 3rd party application can see.

Also, as with the application blocking controls are a joke. As with any firewall you should be able to choose between a whitelist or blacklist setup. Facebook only provides blacklisting functinality. Poor!

This is all rather alarming and I'm quite a techy. If delivered a private forum to a client and a couple of years down the line decided to open that up to everyone (posting a machine to the forum AFTER the fact) I think my client would cut my go-nads off....

Has anybody actually given Facebook a security audit to make sure their privacy settings actually do what they say?

Evil Zuckerberg icon anyone?

'Minimalist, whimsical' Google search given Bing-like overhaul

Robin 2

Bing too?

Type "search" into Bing and you get Yahoo!

Type "search" into Yahoo and you get Yahoo!

Internet Explorer drops below 60% market share

Robin 2


Maybe it's all the plugins that cause it to crash?

Robin 2

It's the data they keep that is more worrisome

"Yes, they've had some security scares and accidentally given data away but they're still amateurs compared to Microsoft."

Privacy with Google worries me far more than that of Microsoft.

But my point wasn't about privacy, but abuse of market position.

Robin 2

Is the browser still relevant?

Personally, I am wondering whether browser market share is still relevant - especially on the desktop. As browsers become more standards compliant and web sites/applications become more standards aware it really doesn't matter which browser you are using. How do MS care whether you look at Facebook in Firefox, Chrome or IE? As for tweeting: I believe everybody does that through downloadable apps outside of the browser anyway...

No, I think Google is the real winner out of all of this. Because whilst the world and it's regulators have been running after MS for the last 15 years Google has snuck in there and ensured, that with the exception of IE, all other major browsers default to the Google search engine and no one so much as raises a tweet about it.

Google IS the new MS, but worse, because they are much better at hiding that fact!

[Where's the Evil Google icon?]

Why the Google antitrust complaint is not about Microsoft

Robin 2

@AC: Wrong!

Google's core business is NOT search!!

Google makes little or no money out of search. It's core business is ADVERTISING. The purpose of Google's entire search engine is to get eyeballs on ads.

Robin 2

You don't get it do you?

Google gives away stuff for free to get it a stranglehold in a new market. Would anybody be using Google Docs or Google Maps or YouTube if you had to pay for those services (as good as they may be)? But these services have pretty much obliterated their respective markets. This is no different to MS giving away IE or Windows media player on it's OSs in order to get a stranglehold in those markets (as well as because, well, basically your average joe public would expect these to be shipped with an OS).

Being Open and giving stuff away for free are entirely different things.

Robin 2
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Google more equal than others?

Mozzila would not exist without the revenue they get from Google for being their default browser engine.

How is that different from pretty much any PC retailer going out of business if MS does not supply it with Windows?

The argument about users being able to choose a different search engine is invalid because users could equally well choose to go with Linux or Mac. But of course people need a Windows PC because everyone else has one. Likewise, people pretty much need to advertise on Google because that's where we all searchy. This is a monopoly and anybody claiming otherwise is being biased. Monopolies have to abide by certain competition rules. Thus Google DOES need to be investigated, which is the whole point of the article.

Robin 2


So all of a sudden it's OK for to make lots of money, but not MS? Talk about being hippocritical. How does GSoC have anything to do with being open? It is simply engagin the community. This is something MS have been poor at, admittedly. But they are actually very good at that now.

Everything in your comment can be equally applied to MS. Google gives away stuff that is not core to it's business. It does not give away ANYTHING that is core business.

MS give away lots of developer tools and they support a lot SME's with very cheap access to a whole host of goodies through things like it's partner programme.

Robin 2

@petur: Is that your definition of open?

@petur: "you can get your data out of they docs services in any format you want"

You can do that in Excel, Access and Word as well. Does that make MS open?

How is Google Open? Their entire chocolate factory is closed except for the few bits of code they release as open source. The only reason Google want interoperability is because this benefits them as they have no legacy products "to protect" and is therefore a way of getting one over MS. I don't see much interopreability in Googles ad engine....

And google is not free either. Adverts there cost money. With this they make the billions that allows them to cross subsidise pretty much everything else they do without having to worry about turning a profit on that work and yet they charge for more or less everything that is not feeding into their search engine data (and even some stuff that does).

The point is: don't be fooled into thinking Google are saints. They are now a massive business with (as has been pointed out) shareholder value to take into account. You can't "Not be evil" and satisfy shareholders expecting rediculous returns on their investments.

Robin 2

Barriers to entry???

Let's see.

Microsoft has been forced into FORCING users to choose a browser when buying a new Windows PC. This is fair enough, except that all of the main browser vendors other than IE default to Google's search engine (Opera, Firefox, Chrome, Safari). So the argument: no one is forcing you to use Google is pretty hollow. No one was ever forcing users to use IE. You can download any of those browsers MS are now forcing you to choose from for free. Surely in a "fair" world, all those browsers that are FORCING google as the default search engine should be FORCED to give you a choice on browser install as to which seach engine you want. IE, btw, gives you a choice to configure this on install. The others don't.

Further, part of the argument against Google isn't about the end user. It's about the business. Given Google's dominance, if you want to succeed as web based business, you practically HAVE to advertise on Google - yet this advertising mechanism is about as transparent as MSs OEM deals with hardware manufacturers was in the 90s. ie NOT AT ALL.

Finally, Google's search in 2010, in my mind, is the EXACT equivalent to MS's IE6 in 2000. It's the market leader to such an extent that it is a monopoly. But how has Google search actually IMPROVED in the last 5 years? I've not noticed any discernable improvement. In fact I think it's got worse. More and more sites linked to from Google's first page are just rip off's, stealing content from elsewhere and simply don't cut the mustard. Google is stifling innovation on the search market because it's impossible to compete with such a giant.

Don't get me wrong, Google produce some wonderful apps, but they're search and adwords products are a monopoly that needs to be controlled.

Hidden Windows 7 costs worry upgraders

Robin 2

Actually printers cost zilch

The "throw-away" mindset in this case is the cheaper option. A printer always comes with a full set of cartridges. When you replace them all the first time you quickly realise that the the manufacturers are giving the printers awayy for next to nothing and making the money on the consumables. So, yes, it probably was cheaper to get a new printer than PCI card.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer 9 embraces - yes - HTML5

Robin 2

re: Holy Molly

...and other's questioning her judgement. Do you actually work with web standards or simply troll the ElReg boards to slam IE?

If you worked with web standards you'd know who Molly is and that she has probably done more for web standards than any other person on the planet. So I for one don't question her belief that MS have a more open process than Google.

The myth of Britain's manufacturing decline

Robin 2

Not quite so good news, really...

"Manufacturing output grew by about 20% overall during Thatcher's tenure, and it's grown significantly since then"

Of which 15% was getting back to pre late 70s recession levels. And it has not grown significantly since then (I don't consider ~8% in 15 years significant).

Analysing this data by picking certain time frames is always risky. You can also claim that manufacturing has only grown by "~13%" since 1972 - that's almost 40 years. Hardly breath taking!

Robin 2

Stats are meaningless without context

This graph could also be very easily interpreted negatively:

I see no real growth in manufacturing output from about 1997 to 2008. These are 12 BOOM years for the UK industry without one negative GDP growth and yet manufacturing grew, well NOT AT ALL.

Now if you add on the last 18 months, then we're back to mid 60s levels. Sure we'll regain a lot of that in the coming years, but not over night, so fast forward two decades and we'll very likely still be at 1998 levels.

"The myth of Britain's manufacturing decline". Pull the other one...

Google Toolbar caught tracking users when 'disabled'

Robin 2
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or knowing they are there

"without even knowing how they got them and what is their purpose."

I would add: "and without even knowing these toolbars are add-ons not native to the browser".

Exploit code for potent IE zero-day bug goes wild

Robin 2

@Tom 7

I think it's you who is lacking in familiarity.

How was Netscape any better at standards compliance than IE6? We're talking about 2001, not 2003 or whenever Firefox came out. And we're talking about intranets not public websites. IE6 is still around because that's what many intranets are still geared towards, not because anyone (including MS) actually think it is a good browser.

"MS went out of their way to ensure IE6 and its developers wouldn't follow standards."

This was only true after 2001. MS went out of their way not to develop IE6. When it was released it was no worse really than the other browsers around at the time. MS also went out of their way to ensure that it was easy for existing MS based developers to build stuff into it. That is why it got such wide spread support at the enterprise level. A bit like Firefox's plugin architecture made it a hit with web developers.

Robin 2

IE6 is not vendor lock in at the enterprise level

My point re the intranets is to not think of IE6 as a web browser - but as a desktop app that can access an internal network in a standardised manner. As for the security issues. In the sort of organisation where it is forbidden/not possible to upgrade IE6 one would assume the network admins have locked it down with very high security settings as well as removed admin rights from local PCs and have firewalls in place and banned access to 99% of the web etc.

Also,re vendor lock in and in-built browsers: what else would they have chosen in 2001?

Remember: all browsers were essentially new at the time (I know they have been around since the early 90s, but I'm referring to them as a consumer product). So if your choice of product is going to have consequences 10 years down the line are you going to choose from something new from a young startup or are you going to choose something new from an established computer software giant? It's not MS's fault that companies like IBM, Sun or Oracle (ie companies big enough to be a good bet to be around in 2010) didn't bother to produce a web browser. I am sure there are plenty of intranets built on Oracle that are tied to IE6.

I don't agree that IE6 was vendor lock in at the of the enterprise level. It is for the home user since they won't know the difference. But at the enterprise level? Sorry there was no other choice in 2001 and it was not due to vendor lock in.

Robin 2

IE6 = best of a bad bunch in 2001

Stop bashing IE6 and it's lack of standards support. IE 6 is 9 years old. Something which seems to be forgotten by its critics (or maybe they were still spotty teenagers at that point). In 2001 there were no free standards compliant browsers. IE6 was a step up from from the other free browser at the time and the ink had barely dried on the standards documents of the time. However big enterprise saw the IE as a way internally standardising it's work across a common tool (IE6 - NOT HTML).

Intranets were developed based on IE6 NOT because the IT bods at the time were incompetent, but because there was no better solution. Especially one which could be linked into existing the MS office infrastructure and/or developed in a largely wysiwyg fashion using Visual Studio. This is a key aspect. Well trained admin staff could and can hack something useful together using various MS tools - no need to pay external "IT consultants" 100 quid an hour to produce junk when you can get your admin staff to do it for free.

So the fact that intranets were built on IE6 in 2001 is not stupid or irrational. It was logical at the time. And, the fact that these intranets still require IE6 in 2010 is likewise not stupid or irrational. Why fix something that works?

No, IE6 is not lock in. Nor is the NHS (one of the worlds largest employers) stupid to still support it. The idiots are those who ignore it and pretend it doesn't exist or ridicule those still using it. Would you rather the NHS spent 1 billion upgrading it's systems to IE8 (or FF or Chrome or Opera or whoever) or 1 billion on hospital equipment? We develop sites mainly for the UK health care, charity and council sectors. The stats for most of our sites indicate 25% market share for IE6.

Hackintosher's new line: Linux and T-shirts

Robin 2

Intellectual idiocy

Wrong. Most people don't make a distinction between buying a book and buying an OS.

When I buy a book, I own the book and can do what I like with it as long as I don't break copyright law. I can read it on the bus, on the train, on the loo or burn it in the fireplace if it's no good.

Likewise, I would expect that when I buy an OS I can again do what I like with it as long as I don't break copyright law. But no, I also have to abide by the EULA, which by the way NO ONE EVER READS because they assume it is common sense. In this case Mac aren't just preventing me from copying the OS, they are dictating how I should use the OS. Which is like dictating how I should use a book.

No one is actually arguing against your point of owning the OS itself. No one buying an OS thinks: "yeah I now own the OS itself and can copy and distribute it as I please". No one thinks that when buying a book either. You own a copy of it with which you should be allowed to do what you want as long as you don't break the law in general by doing so.

When algorithms attack, does Google hear you scream?

Robin 2

The Perfect Answer requires the Perfect Question

"Eric Schmidt, for example, envisages Google eventually providing a single, perfect answer to your question: "We’ll get to the point – the long-term goal is to be able to give you one answer, which is exactly the right answer over time.... And what I’d like to do is to get to the point where we could read his site and then summarize what it says, and answer the question...""

Google and other search engines are already very good at providing an answer. The problem is knowing HOW to ask them for what you want....

Maybe there's a niche for some Stanford drop out: Build a question engine which generates the perfect question for Google to search with. A bit like Earth in H2G2...

Google and the myth of the open cloud

Robin 2

Re: Apples vs Oranges

@baswell. I totally agree.

Everyone is always going on about the scalability of App Engine. Who cares? 99.9% of App Engine devs are never going to produce an app on App Engine or anywhere else where scalability becomes much of an issue.

The true benefit of App Engine is the maintenance headache that goes with building a web app. App Engine takes all this away from you. You write your code upload it and it runs. No need to configure anything, maintain backups, logs, security issues, talk to hosting providers etc etc.

And if you do one day reach the kind of site usage where scalability becomes an issue, well:

a) that's a nice issue to have

b) App Engine will take care of it for you, hence why would you want to move

c) If you do want to move because you think they're too pricey or unreliable or whatever. Fine - no one's stopping you. You'll need to rewrite your DAL as the minimum I guess, but given 1) and 2) again this is a nice issue to have.

I think people worry too much about openess. Why should a cloud be open? The biggest headache in moving to a new provider is often not the code but administrative side of things. Competition in the cloud services business should ensure that eventually these things are pretty much the same in terms of cost/value.

Apple's move to kill Hackintosher suit denied

Robin 2

@Adrian Esdaile

Read the comments by Simon Banyard 3 posts above yours.

The issue is really about anti-competitive behavior. When you're as big as MS it's a lot easier to

a) be anti-competitive

b) be found guilty of a)

Microsoft howls as Google turns IE into Chrome

Robin 2

ie8 is actually very good

I've been using Firefox for years now, but recently started work on a Javascript intensive app (using lots of JQuery and so on) and for testing ran it in IE8. IE8 is about 3 times faster at rendering my pages than Firefox 3.5. As I develop the app more and more I use IE8 more and more now and I have to say I am beginning to like it - a lot.

People slamming IE have probably not tried it since the last millenium.

Gmail in massive web outage

Robin 2

@So you've never had a hard disk go down?

Small business, just like large cooporations are relative. I'm also the IT Manager at a small business. Difference is I am also the hardware geek. And the web developer. And the IT Support... We outsource this sort of thing (not to Google) because we can't manage it in-house. Maybe you should do the same if you are getting more than a few hours downtime a year.

Brain-jacking fungus turns living victims into 'zombies'

Robin 2


I think there was an episode on the X-Files that had fungii entrancing Fox and Dana amongst others. What next? Alien aductions?

Google data center born without chillers

Robin 2
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@Steve Evans

In Germany there's a whole town heated in this way, can't remember which one. Industrial wasted energy is used to heat the town. The upshot: the citizens get their heating for free or very cheap. This is also a very common approach in ex-communist countries, like here in Bulgaria. Except that here everything is falling apart, inefficient and corrupt so the benefits are minimal.

Schneier says he was 'probably wrong' on masked passwords

Robin 2
Big Brother

@Petrea Mitchell

The problem here is that it is a study on USABILITY not SECURITY. Of course it's more usable to display the password back to the user as they type. So whilst the data is accurate with regards to usability Nielsen is actually himself using subjective opinion as to whether this solution is equally secure as having passwords masked. There would need to be another study comparing the security of masked passwords to that of unmasked passwords.

Microsoft bribes Oz to ditch Firefox

Robin 2

Extra bonus for finding in Firefox???

Do you get an extra bonus for finding the bounty in Firefox, Opera or even Lynx?

Microsoft sues family over alleged click fraud

Robin 2

@jake - Online advertising doomed?

"Online advertising as a profit center is doomed."

I think not - that would make Google worthless. Advertising is like Spam. Spam still gets created because someone somewhere is still reading it and clicking on the viagra links.

Likewise people will always be clicking on ads. In truth, they can be quite helpful if you are looking for a service. It's the old saying: "I know that half of my advertising dollars are wasted ... I just don't know which half.".

Microsoft to bomb Europe with IE-free Windows 7

Robin 2
Gates Halo

Also, who cares about Real Player

Does anyone actually use RealPlayer? The last few times I've tried to install it essentially tried to take over my system and make RealPlayer the default for everything, autostart it on login and push a bunch of ads at me without my consent. That was about 3 years ago. I'm never going to install that one again....

Robin 2
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An OS without a browser in 2010? Clever!

This is just rubbish. If I buy an OS I expect it to be able to play my audio and video files as well as browse the web. Do Apple and the hundreds of Linux variations also have to ship versions without a browser?

As for the idea of MS preloading Opera, Firefox, Chrome, RealPlayer and VLC on their systems: please no. It's hard enough trying to remove all that trial crap from a PC nowadays. I am with MS all the way here. If Opera or Mozilla are crying foul, maybe they should build their own operating system and sell that just increase their browser market share.

Far more valuable would be for the courts to compel MS to ship a 100% standards compliant browser. Well it would have been 10 years ago. IE8 is now OK.