* Posts by Ross 12

88 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Jun 2009


Clippy designer was too embarrassed to include him in his portfolio

Ross 12

Gotta admit, I always liked Clippy. OK the 'help' was useless and irritating, but having that expressive little guy in the corner of the screen reacting to what you were doing was nice

System76 teases features coming in homegrown Rust-based desktop COSMIC

Ross 12

So they're writing a new desktop from scratch, and it does look very neat and professional, but it also looks really really similar to gnome. Feels like a wasted opportunity to try something visually different instead of creating yet another flat UI

Brit chip company picks RISC-V for next-gen microcontrollers

Ross 12

Most impressive thing

..for me is that they have a CEO who seems to have actual technical knowledge of what their company does, how they do it, and why,

API rate limits at the core of Elon Musk’s decision to ditch Twitter

Ross 12

Anyone else really bored with Space Karen's shenanigans? I don't believe he ever genuinely intended to buy Twitter, partly because it's too well established to be able to later claim that he founded it

Vivaldi email client released 7 years after first announcement

Ross 12

Still using Evolution on linux here. Webmail is handy sometimes, but the interfaces *cough*GMail*cough* are usually atrocious

Microsoft reanimates 1995's 3D Movie Maker via GitHub

Ross 12

Re: inch-by-inch

Don't HP own VMS these days? And there's still big customers using it

GNOME 42's inconsistent themes are causing drama

Ross 12

I get the feeling that a lot of the drive for this stuff is that the current generation of developers are using cheap chromebooks despite many users having desktops with big screens. Hence everything now is tied to keyboard shortcuts and 'command palettes' (because nobody likes using touchpads), and an app's entire UI is crammed into it's titlebar because the devs have little vertical screen space.

And as for theming - Linux and FOSS was always about choice and giving power to users. I'm all for having a really nice default look, but you can't even tweak the colours (apparently Ubuntu are patching in the ability to choose a single accent colour?) Instead of taking theming away, why couldn't they go the other way and design a proper, robust, theming API? In fact, a cross-DE or even cross-OS theming API would be amazing. Users could choose their preferences for colour schemes, rounded/square corners, shadows, transparency, mono/outline/full colour icons, etc and each theme can implement those preferences within its own style. The API could also generate contrasting or complementary colours as needed based on the user choice of primary colour, or pick from the background image etc.

Debugging source is even harder when you can't stop laughing at it

Ross 12

'self-taught Visual Basic programmer'

When you hear those words you know you're in for a very bad time

114 billion transistors, one big meh. Apple's M1 Ultra wake-up call

Ross 12

It still blows my mind that I have a handheld battery powered internet terminal in my hand with an 8-core 64-bit processor, 8gb of ram, and 64gb of storage that I can do most of my day-to-day computing on. When I was a kid writing BASIC on my Speccy, those stats would have been absolutely incomprehensible.

It's hard to get excited about advances now because most of our needs are already met. Pretty much any device made in the past 10 years is 'good enough' to do your every-day web stuff, and most obstacles are in the software - abandoned or deprecated systems.

The gains we get now are really only significant for less common use cases, like video editing, graphics rendering, audio production, VR, etc. Gaming is probably the most mainstream use case that's still pushing hardware forward, but even then, the visible gains are becoming less and less significant, with the latest-gen consoles moving to SSDs providing the most noticeable jump in capability in recent years.

20 years of .NET: Reflecting on Microsoft's not-Java

Ross 12

Re: Memories!

Good thing too! VB UIs were generally terrible

Former Oracle execs warn that Big Red's auditing process is also a 'sales enablement tool'

Ross 12

Why? Why do people still use Oracle?

'Admin error': AWS in dead company data centre planning application snafu in Oxfordshire

Ross 12

Re: Thames Valley Storms

Yes it'll affect the price, so some of your vast wealth can start trickling down :)

You loved running JavaScript in your web browser. Now, get ready for Python scripting

Ross 12

Re: The future will be... special

It's the end of days. Nothing matters any more, so why not install Linux on a Windows partition, or run python in a browser, or mount a live github repository as your home directory

The rocky road to better Linux software installation: Containers, containers, containers

Ross 12

Confusing mess

The problem I have with this is that after years of singing the virtues of 'just apt install it', there's now this confusing mess of packages, snaps and flatpaks.

Just the other weekend I got round to guiding my boyfriend through his first linux install. Ive been a linux geek since the RedHat 5.2 days whereas he's a capable power user and graphics bod, but not an OS geek.

So I advised on Ubuntu 21.10 - it was running on my machine with no problems after all. Perhaps I should have opted for the LTS release but I figured that this was to explore, not installing a safe daily-driver.

After the can of worms that was not having an appropriate wifi driver, we dug up some old ethernet-over-power kit and got connected. So far so good.

Then came the applications. 'How do I install Chrome?' oh... well... normally you'd 'sudo apt install chrome' (or whatever the actual package name was), but now you shouldn't do that because it installs a Snap instead and that's.. 'what's a snap?' oh.. well.. *some time later*

OK looks like the only way to do this now then is to use firefox to go to google and install chrome from there. 'hmmm' so like Windows then?

Then things got worse. 'Lets install Blender' I said, knowing that he uses it a lot on Windows, so it would be nice and familiar. And before I could say 'fire up a terminal and apt search blender' he'd found the cunningly named 'Software' app. Oh, I thought, this isn't going to end well.

So we searched for Blender and there were three results. Blank stare. 'So which one do I install?' Well, I said, click on each one and check the version, see which is the latest. It was the second one. The third one appeared to be someone else's custom build. Why was it there? Was it official in any way? Was it safe? Who knows.

So we installed the second one, which turned out to be a Snap. Installation went ok then he clicked 'launch'. And waited. 'I thought linux was meant to be fast?'. Oh, Snaps sometimes take a few seconds to start. I said. 'Why?' - I'm... not sure.

So when it launched, it was immediately obvious that something was wrong. The whole UI was really sluggish, and this machine powered by an i9 and a 2080ti.

Was it a driver issue? nope. We were using the latest official Nvidia driver. Hmmm.. my instinct was telling me that, being containerised, something was getting in the way of Blender and the gpu. OK, I said, try uninstalling it, and installing the other version, even though it's slightly out of date.

So we installed the repository version and lo and behold, it ran perfectly.

'So how do you update it to the latest version?' - well, you can't. You'll only get bug fixes with this package. Unless we try a flatpak version..

But before we could do that, we needed to install flatpak itself. Oh and gnome-software-plugin-flatpak but that actually made things even more confusing. However, after what seemed like a life-time, we got the flatpak version of Blender installed and it ran perfectly fine.

By this point I was exhausted and quite honestly a bit embarrassed and somewhat regretting suggesting the idea of installing linux.

My boyfriend and I have not spoken about linux packages since.

Replaced several times but still live and kicking: Windows Forms updated for .NET 6.0

Ross 12

Microsoft need to kill it off like they have with IE rather than just politely suggesting that devs move on to something new.

Zuckerberg wants to create a make-believe world in which you can hide from all the damage Facebook has done

Ross 12

The problem with real life is that, despite capitalism's best efforts, there are still human actions and interactions that aren't monetised yet.

That's what Zuckerbot's Metaverse is for. Everything do you; everything you look at; everything you access or interact with, both in work or personal time, can be sold or rented to you or licensed or used to deliver adverts.

And then there's you as a data source... on a whole new level from the already insane levels of data slurping from your web and mobile use.

Amid drama at .NET Foundation, Microsoft's De Icaza reveals it was meant to be like GNOME Foundation

Ross 12

I think what's needed is

a foundation of foundations founded by successful foundations to found new foundations and help all the other foundations to run themselves and behave the way the foundations were founded to

Redpilled Microsoft does away with flashing icons on taskbar as Windows 11 hits Beta

Ross 12


Why the hell don't they have a slider for 'user advancedness' or whatever you want to call it, with 'beginner/casual user' at one end and 'enthusiast/power user' at the other end and 'intermediate user' in the middle.

Then all aspects of the Windows interface can configure themselves around it. I.e. presenting simpler sub-sets of options, doing more hand-holding, etc depending on the setting. Allow applications to also access the setting.

The Register just found 300-odd Itanium CPUs on eBay

Ross 12

"Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing, and its IA-64 instruction set"

Wait, is AMD's EPYC a sly two-fingered salute at Intel?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web NFT fetches $5.4m at auction while rest of us gaze upon source code for $0

Ross 12


If you shell out stupid money for an NFT like this, then surely you'll also make a backup or two of your 'valuable' possession? In which case you've just made another perfect digital copy. Every time it's transferred over a network, it's copied. The sooner this insanity ends the better.

Beyond video to interactive, personalised content: BBC is experimenting with rebuilding its iPlayer in WebAssembly

Ross 12

WebAssembly, rust, webgl, canvas... just missing the blockchain element

Samsung reveals DDR5 memory module that’s ready for Compute Express Link

Ross 12

Re-invention of the wobbly RAM-pack

Does it come with blu-tak?

Google proposes Logica data language for building more manageable SQL code

Ross 12

No no no no no

The 'problem' they seem to be trying to fix isn't SQL's readability but how it's not componentised. If you want a big reporting query for example, generally a single dev will have to write the whole thing because you can't just re-use little snippets (unless you have a really well designed database and you really know what you're doing).

It seems to me that they want devs to be able to pre-define little bits of logic that other devs can then collaboratively drag and drop into a big query without having to actually understand what they're doing.

Because, you know, having to actually understand what you're doing with code and data is /hard/ and all code should be able to be worked on by all devs *shrug*

As for comparing the two languages, I despair. SQL *is* arcane, old-fashioned, and can feel intimidating and restrictive at first. But bloody hell it's actually easy to follow and is amazingly powerful - well beyond what you expect from first impressions.

So how's .NET 6 coming along? Oh wow, Microsoft's multi-platform framework now includes... Windows

Ross 12

".NET 6.0 is expected to be completed in November. Like .NET 5.0, it is no longer designated .NET Core, though it remains distinct from the Windows-only .NET Framework"

AAARRRGGGHHH! So it's the .NET that used to be .NET Core not the other .NET? What could be clearer

Over a decade on, and millions in legal fees, Supreme Court rules for Google over Oracle in Java API legal war

Ross 12

Re: Wah Wah Wah! Oracle! They don't like the ruling!

Javascript and Electron may not be an improvement, but they've opened up the cross-platform GUI application space that Java spectacularly failed to get to grips with.

It's not entirely Java's fault mind you. The hardware running Electron apps is mindbogglingly powerful compared to what was available 20 years ago. The dreadful and jarring look and feel of Java applications though.. that definitely didn't help.

Google reveals version control plus not expecting zero as a value caused Gmail to take an inconvenient early holiday

Ross 12


The thing about Facebook is that because of their size and dominance, people assume they're professionals and know what they're doing. But I get the distinct impression that they're mostly staffed by excitable but amateur coders who think they're pioneers and treat everything as an opportunity to 'do something cool' which amounts to badly reinventing the wheel. The bugs and weird behaviours at occur in facebook's mobile app and web front-end often suggest that the architecture is an unholy un-tamable mess

Asus ROG Phone 3: An ugly but refreshing choice – for gaming fans only

Ross 12

Re: Aspect ratio?

:9 has become the marketing standard for screen ratios sadly. My OnePlus 6T has an '18:9' screen, which is actually 2:1 but that doesn't sound as 'big'.

Reminds me of the old story when Wendy's (or some other competitor?) sold a 1/3lb burger to compete with McDonald's 1/4lb-er at the same price, but most people thought 1/4 was bigger than 1/3

Apple's M1: the fastest and bestest ever silicon = revolution? Nah, there's far more interesting stuff happening in tech that matters to everyone

Ross 12

That was an article?

You may as well have added 'just do your research!!!' to the assertion that there's 'far more interesting stuff happening in tech that matters to everyone'

Visual Studio Code 1.50 goes hard on extensions support, but tackling add-on bloat is becoming more onerous

Ross 12

"If anything can impede the growing popularity of VS Code, it will be when the number and sophistication of its many extensions become a burden."

Ahh yes, the Firefox trap.

Classy move: C++ 20 wins final approval in ISO technical ballot, formal publication expected by end of year

Ross 12

Some of these features sound like it's taking ideas from Rust

In the frame with the Great MS Bakeoff: Microsoft sets out plans for Windows windows

Ross 12

They still don't get it do they?

Nobody is going to port old code to a shiny new framework just because there's a new API - no matter how much nicer it is. That's simply not the reason anybody writes code. And for as long as Windows supports running win32 apps, people will keep win32 code around, and keep writing new apps in it to reach a wider audience than anything new.

There's 25+ years of Win32 code out there in the wild. Half the developers have probably died, retired, or changed career. Half the source code probably no longer exists. Just as with COBOL, there'll be Win32 code out there running that people don't even know about and that probably hasn't been looked at since Y2k was a thing. There'll be code propping up businesses large and small all over the world who's in-house developers and external vendors have long since disappeared.

Microsoft will never be able to rid itself of Win32 by trying to tempt developers to use something new. The only way they'll do it is to put their foot down and stop supporting it whilst making sure there's a clear and definite stable alternative - something that Microsoft are pretty much incapable of.

I really think that Microsoft need to accept the fact that they're a 'boring' business software vendor - not a hip and trendy brand. They got the corporate world hooked on Windows, Office and VS etc, and that means they're stuck with them for the long term.

Geneticists throw hands in the air, change gene naming rules to finally stop Microsoft Excel eating their data

Ross 12


This is another great example of why CSVs are shit and need to be left in the past where they belong.

HP hostile takeover warms up: Xerox queues print job cash_and_shares.pdf, mails it to the board to mull over

Ross 12

Xerox are such a weird company. Outside of the US, they're just kinda known as that american photocopier company. And then you find out that they invented the GUI, WYSIWYG editing, and ethernet.

At last, the fix no one asked for: Portable home directories merged into systemd

Ross 12

Cloudless hot-desking? Great. Still, if it's just an option to be used by whoever it is that needs it, then that's ok. Really don't want it enabled by default though thanks

How bad is Catalina? It's almost Apple Maps bad: MacOS 10.15 pushes Cupertino's low bar for code quality lower still

Ross 12

Re: comments were hurtful

Wow, so your explanation is that management are no longer bullying arseholes and that they need to bring back a culture of fear amongst staff?

GIMP open source image editor forked to fix 'problematic' name

Ross 12

Re: Divide and rule

That's rarely how it works though. It's more likely like this:

School: What's the name? And how much does it cost?

Me: The GIMP and it's free

School: free? hmm what's wrong with it? and it's called _what_? All sounds a bit amateur.. we'll stick with our Adobe corporate licensing

Tangled in .NET: Will 5.0 really unify Microsoft's development stack?

Ross 12

Jesus wept

What a mess. And why oh why did they use the name .NET Core for something that isn't the core of .NET?

It's a hard drive ahead: Seagate hits the density problem with HAMR, WD infects MAMR with shingles

Ross 12

Hmmm the shingling sounds like a kludge. It's clever and I'm sure they'll get it to work, but it sounds like reliability might become an issue and the write speed penalty doesn't sound good

Welcome to the sunlit uplands of HTTP/2, where a naughty request can send Microsoft's IIS into a spin

Ross 12

Ever get the feeling that HTTP/2 tries to kill too many birds with one stone?

Is this a wind-up? Planet Computers boss calls time on ZX Spectrum reboot firm

Ross 12

Re: £751

I guess it's just a way of defining 'more than £750'

Microsoft hopes it has a sequel better than Godfather Part II: SQL Server 2019 previewed

Ross 12

Re: sqlite is the most popular database

It's definitely available everywhere, but it's not a server, and therefore has completely different usage cases. You wouldn't use it to power a busy multi-user system, just as you wouldn't stuff a copy of Oracle into a set-top box to store some user settings.

UK.gov finally adds Galileo and Copernicus to the Brexit divorce bill

Ross 12


When you delete a file on a computer, it generally asks 'are you sure?', so that you can have a think about what you're doing and confirm whether you really want to proceed or not.

Same for when you purchase something.

Same goes for pretty much any decision where there is a lot at stake or may have bad consequences.

But for some reason, brexiters deem it inappropriate to exercise this same level of caution when doing something monumental like leaving the EU. Even though 'leaving the EU' still hasn't been defined. We still don't know what exactly that will entail. Or what the consequences will be. Or what we should do to prepare.

What we *do* know is that all the promises were either lies or fantasy.

We also know that the various Leave campaigns not only broke the law, but were backed by Russian money and deliberately used data harvested from social media to target the victims with emotionally manipulative ads and fake activity.

We also know that nobody in any of the Leave campaigns had any actual plan or idea of what would be involved.

We also know that businesses are already suffering from supply, labour and financial problems just in the negotiation period. Nobody knows how bad it'll get when March comes around and we actually leave. Because still nobody knows what Brexit will be.

We also know that workers and visitors from the EU are avoiding coming here because of uncertainty and because they now see us as a backwards, racist and hostile nation.

The list goes on. and on. and on.

But sure, we definitely shouldn't have an 'are you sure you want to proceed?' second vote. Because 'the will of the people' only mattered that one specific time. Right?

Official: Google Chrome 69 kills off the World Wide Web (in URLs)

Ross 12

Re: Good news for the owner of www.com!

'paypal.www.com' would just show as 'www.com' - I very much doubt they're just doing a string replace for 'www'.

HTC U12 Life: Notchless, reasonably priced and proper buttons? Oh joy

Ross 12

"My experience of the same chip in last year's BlackBerry was that it was fine to start off with but slowed down under strain"

Is it really the processor that's the problem here? Everyone always seems to ignore the quality of the internal storage, which seems more likely to be an issue when it comes to degrading performance over the life of the device

ZX Spectrum reboot latest: Some Vega+s arrive, Sky pulls plug, Clive drops ball

Ross 12

Crowdfunded projects are risky definition, because you're financially backing something, not merely purchasing an item.

But I don't think that's necessarily something to be scared of - just be cautious. And with that in mind, whenever you see a crowdfunded project by a **company**, run away, because it means they're not risking their own money.

Just compare this sorry Vega+ tale to the ZX Spectrum Next. Yes, it's running late, but the first stage of developer boards went out. There's been regular monthly updates from the team which actually detail and show photos of the production process and how it's going. And the team is made up of passionate people who actually care about what they're doing, and are doing it not-for-profit. There's no shareholders and directors siphoning off money and bickering with each other. And the community of backers are actively involved - helping out with documentation, OS and firmware, writing emulators and games for it..

Microsoft devises new way of making you feel old: Windows NT is 25

Ross 12

Re: 25 years and the clustering is still not as good as VMS...

Also NTFS does have 'streams', so you'd just do 'file.txt:1'

or perhaps move the current version to file.txt:previous before saving file.txt

It was a badly supported feature though and as far as I know, barely ever used

Ross 12

When I built my first PC in 97, NT4 workstation went straight on it. This was because I was an A-level student and MS were doing an offer where you got Win95/NT4wks for ~ £35 I think it was. The dumb thing though was that the Windows 95 license was upgrade only, and my machine had no OS to upgrade, so I went for NT4 instead and it was pretty damned good. Although I did have to throw ram upgrades at it pretty sharpish.

HTC U12+: You said we should wait and review the retail product. Hate to break it to you, but...

Ross 12

Oh HTC, you always manage to thwart your brilliance with something stupid :(

What's up with that ZX Spectrum reboot? Still no console

Ross 12

Re: This is a trivial design...

This is being done in a completely unrelated project - The ZX Spectrum Next https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1835143999/zx-spectrum-next which, despite some delays with the case, has already sent out the completed bare boards batch, and the team, which *isn't* a company with shareholders and directors bleeding it dry, is pretty good at engaging with the backers and keeping everyone informed of what's going on. Was also the last device designed by the late Rick Dickonson.

Spring is all about new beginnings, but it could already be lights out for Windows' Fluent Design

Ross 12

Poor old Microsoft

They spent all those years ruthlessly dominating the corporate desktop, but all along, they desperately wanted to be one of the cool kids.

For a while, they owed the home computing market too, simply because mum and dad knew Windows at work, so knew how to use a PC running Windows at home too. That, and Microsoft made sure they had no other choice.

But they missed the attack from the other end. PCs are old-fashioned and corporate. iOS and Android are the consumer OSs, and the devices they run far exceed the laptops and desktops. For many people, smartpones and tables *are* their primary computer devices and their internet terminals.

A whole new wave of apps have come along for which Windows doesn't really matter any more. Technologies such as Electron and Node mean developers can write cross platform apps without ever having to go near a Windows machine *and* provide a consistent app UI across every platform.

That's not to say that Windows is dead. But Microsoft need to know their place. Windows is still king of the corporate desktop/laptop. And that's where it's strengths are. It still runs ancient obscure bits of corporate code, and still has all the enterprise lockdown and management features.

Microsoft need to recognise and accept that Windows isn't for the cool kids and consumer devices. It's for the office. And that's not a bad thing - they just need to embrace it. Microsoft need to accept that they belong with IBM and Oracle - not with Apple and Google.

The only thing Windows is *necessary* for outside of the workplace, is PC gaming. And because Windows is such a massive overhead, if they're not careful, they might lose this market too in the long run. A 'Windows Gaming Edition' would be brilliant here - reduce it down to the bare OS and whatever's needed to support gaming, slap on the Xbox UI and leave it at that.

Then take the corporate Windows back to more sensible and 'boring' UI, like refreshed Win2k based style - because in the office, people don't want the UI to completely change every time there's a new release.