* Posts by Adam Williamson 1

273 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Jun 2009


National Rail tweaks departure board API, 'orders' coder to kill site

Adam Williamson 1

Not that simple

"It's not a nationalised industry anymore."

Well, to a point. The infrastructure certainly is, and there's still a legislated public service element in railway service: the privatized operators are not free to do entirely as they choose in regards to the services they provide. It would hardly be inconsistent with current policy for the government to require the timetable data be provided free of charge.

Shaping your next desktop upgrade

Adam Williamson 1

I know what mine is

a 120GB RevoDrive. yum.

How much is Facebook worth?

Adam Williamson 1

"Claim your name"

"I was sufficiently bored one day to claim my name"

You can't actually 'claim your name' on Facebook (which is a good design decision). Facebook happily copes with multiple user accounts with the same real name. Just try searching for a common name (or even, many uncommon names), and you'll see multiple results; you have to look at some of the public data to figure out which one is the one you were looking for.

Fedora 14: haven for Ubuntu's homeless GNOMEs

Adam Williamson 1

One thing

One thing I forgot to mention - Ubuntu's going to Unity with 11.04 and Fedora will be going to GNOME Shell with Fedora 15, so there's really no advantage to Fedora if what you want is to stick with a 'traditional' GNOME desktop. The next Fedora release and the next Ubuntu release will both give you some kind of shiny new-age interface by default, it's just a question of which one you want. (I don't recommend making that decision right now, as both GNOME Shell and Unity will change substantially by next April).

AIUI both F15 and Ubuntu 11.04 will include the old GNOME interface for fallback purposes on systems which can't manage the new composited interfaces, so you should be able to pick the legacy interface on either if you really want to, though it won't be the primary supported interface on either.

Adam Williamson 1

A few points

"But when it comes to desktop Linux, does anyone use the default theme?"

Yeah, me. :)

"There is one thing missing in this release: Fedora no longer ships with the Pino social network client. Its absence is probably due to the fact that Pino hasn't yet updated to Twitter's new OAuth system, but the fact that Gwibber wasn't dropped in its place suggests perhaps Fedora is dropping the idea of including a Twitter client. Frankly, given Fedora's overall focus on development tools, Pino did feel a bit out of place."

At first we were expecting this to be fixed with a new version of Pino in time for F14. In the event, that didn't happen. By the time it became clear Pino wasn't going to be working well enough with OAuth for F14 release date, it was a bit late to introduce a new application to the default desktop and be sure it wouldn't cause any problems, so we decided to go with the safer option of just dropping Pino and not replacing it with anything else.

"This release will also see the expansion of Fedora's netbook spin, integrating MeeGo for mobile devices. For most users that means netbooks, though MeeGo has also been adopted by Nokia for use on mobile phones.

For Fedora 14 the core MeeGo 1.0 packages are all available either as a separate spin or through Yum with yum groupinstall meego-netbook. The MeeGo integration builds on the foundations laid by the Moblin spin in previous Fedora releases."

I've got to admit this makes me giggle a bit in an article described as a Fedora 14 review. The joke being...Meego doesn't work in F14. Not at all. Now, that clearly is our fault, but the fact that you (and all the other journalists reporting on this, to be fair) just include the optimistic vision mentioned in the release publicity makes it clear you didn't bother (or, rather, given the absurd publication dates sites work to these days, have the time for) actually trying the thing. =)

There's only a couple of volunteer contributors working on Meego in Fedora (no paid staff, from RH or from anyone else) and they just didn't manage to iron out the bugs by release time. There's a bug which prevents you from launching Meego at all and we haven't figured out how to fix it yet. So Fedora folks took it out of the feature list and it's not mentioned in the publicity from Fedora proper, but unfortunately the message didn't get to Red Hat PR department in time, so it is mentioned - as if it all works great - in the Red Hat PR on F14. Oops. Sorry about that. So, yeah, don't download F14 expecting a neat Meego netbook interface, you won't get one, unless you can fix the bug (do let us know). You'd be better off getting Meego-the-distro direct from upstream, or Novell's Smeegol thing for now.

(Do note, though, that the Plasma - KDE as was - netbook interface is available in F14, and by all accounts works rather well.)

Volunteer biker gang foils Westminster CCTV car fleet

Adam Williamson 1

as el Reg is always saying...

...CO2 emissions are not the entirety of 'pollution'. Not necessarily even the most important element.

Fans roast Microsoft for Silverlight demotion

Adam Williamson 1


No, but my friend Geoff Peterson does.

Adam Williamson 1


"Your comments (or at least the snippets that appeared in print) may have done irreparable damage to my career, and many others like myself that threw all of their eggs into the Silverlight basket."

Sorry, mate, but the one to blame for your career getting wrecked because you put all your eggs in a basket over which you have precisely no control or influence - indeed, a basket over which only an entity which naturally has no regard for anything but its own perceived best interests has any control or influence at all - would be...you. Sucker.

Fedora gets nips and tucks with 14 release

Adam Williamson 1

Not at all

Firefox is sitting at 335MB here. Put that on top of GNOME (which is about 100MB by itself) and Bob's your uncle.

Adam Williamson 1

Minimum requirements

"a 400 MHz Pentium Pro with 512 MB of memory and 10 GB of disk is the recommended minimum configuration for a graphical Linux setup. Try that with Windows 7."

It's nice of you to notice it but I'm afraid I'd better admit that it's mostly what we in the business would call 'a raging porky'. :) We're discussing how to update the listed system requirements. The problem is that Linux is so flexible; it certainly is *possible* to set up a working Fedora environment with minimal hardware that won't make you kill yourself of frustration, but it's not really true of the *default* environment.

For Fedora's standard desktop - GNOME 2.32 with various heavy apps like Firefox and OO.o - a more realistic minimum would probably be a P3 with 1GB of RAM (512MB is just about enough to run Firefox *or* OO.o, these days). To run on a slower system with 512MB you'd probably want to be using Xfce or LXDE and some lighter weight applications.

(There's also a few more basic problems with the stated minimums: there's no such thing as a 400MHz Pentium Pro, they topped out around 200MHz, and I'm pretty sure it was more or less impossible to shoehorn 512MB of RAM into one).

Competitors seek killer application for Bluetooth Low Energy

Adam Williamson 1
Thumb Up

Key fob multimeter? Awesome

"In the Home Automation section, we have an electricians' multimeter in a key fob"

I'd definitely buy that. I'm no kind of EE but a key fob multimeter (presumably the bluetooth bit is that it connects to your phone for the actual display, or something) sounds like just about the sweet spot for someone like me who, every six months or so, thinks "hmm, I could kinda do with a multimeter right now, but I guess I'll work around it."

Top Ten Retro PC Games

Adam Williamson 1


she included Monkey Island 2 at #1, presumably as a kind of avatar for all the Lucasarts adventures (my favourite's Grim Fandango), which are immeasurably superior in all respects to the Sierra crap. The gameplay works better (having points and 'game over' in adventures is stupid), the artwork is better, and the plotting is vastly better.

Adam Williamson 1


Doom, which is on this list, had co-op in 1993.

Adam Williamson 1


thanks for writing that, saves me the effort.

what clan were you in? I was in [pp] for a bit, the Cambridge clan, which did fairly well at Counter-Strike purely because of our ridiculously low pings. Before that I was in one called [JK], I think. I remember the top UK clan used to be DC (Demonic Core) - I knew the guys who founded that from the Doom BBS days.

What's sad is that it's almost impossible to find any decent record of the Quake through Quake 3 clan days now (just try it) - there's some dead websites but I can't find any of the classic demos or write-ups of major tournaments or anything any more. I wonder if someone has an archive site up somewhere. It's funny how that scene just died.

Adam Williamson 1

It says 'PC' right in the title.

See topic. Given that, you should probably eat that FAIL icon yourself.

Adam Williamson 1


I figured pretty confidently in 2003 that I'd played more Doom than anyone else alive; I averaged 2 hours a day every day from 1993 through 2003 (that's *average*, including every day of the year, with no breaks). I more or less quit a few years back, though, so some of the Scandinavian guys who still play have probably overtaken me by now.

The best Doom player ever, BTW, is Mario Sedlic. This is not up for debate. :)

Microsoft holds Androids hostage in open source wars

Adam Williamson 1

Specific connection?

"Many of the proposed business models had no specific connection to open source at all, i.e. a closed-source project could operate in the same way."

Who said they needed a 'specific connection'? The OP seemed to be under the impression that it was impossible to make money in relation to open source code. I did a lazy Google and picked one of the first links that does a half-decent job of explaining why this isn't true. There's no need for the business models in question to be *exclusive* to open source software to show the flaw in what he said. They just have to *work* for open source software.

If you'd prefer a different example, I can give you one. It's called 'my bank account', into which Red Hat deposits my reasonably generous salary with cheerful regularity. I'm sure making out okay out of open source.

Adam Williamson 1

you can't be that silly, can you?

"All major open source projects have funding from companies that profit from other sources."

No, this just isn't true.

I'd write a long explanation of various open source business models, but happily, other people have been doing it for ten years, so I don't have to. Just Google it. Here's a good one:


Adam Williamson 1

er, whut?

Basic reading comprehension fail there, I'm afraid. The post says that open source 'helped' Google make money, which is perfectly true. If I'm selling lemonade, an efficient lemon press is certainly going to help me make money, even if it's not a direct revenue earner in itself.

Adam Williamson 1

Apple? What?

"Why? Because Apple has already set the price of an operating system at $0.00 (£0.00, €0.00, ¥000). No one pays an iOS license fee — well, no one is allowed to, but that's a separate matter. The salient point is that Google has simply conveyed this price to ODMs and OEMs."

Um, what? That argument just came straight out of left field and I've no idea what to do with it. How can you say Apple 'set the price of an operating system'? Users don't pay up front for phone operating systems whether there's a charge at some point in the chain or not, and since Apple's phone chain is completely owned by Apple I don't see how they can be said, in any way that makes any sense at all, to have 'set the price of an operating system'. I just have no idea what you mean by that.

People buying a phone look at the subsidised price of the phone, and there's room for a lot of play in that number even if someone somewhere is paying someone else a $10 license fee for the OS. I don't really see anything in your post that contradicts this. I'm really struggling to get any kind of a handle on your argument.

The contention that somehow Microsoft won't be able to enforce a patent suit against Android because no-one pays Apple for iOS, even given its basic problems with coherence, seems silly on the face of it; it's hardly something a court is going to take into consideration. If a court decides Android violates Microsoft's patents then the choices are to quit implementing the patented functionality or pay up; the court's not going to go around considering the effective market price of other operating systems, or whatever the heck it is you're proposing exactly.

Am I the only one all at sea with this analysis? Does everyone else get where Matt's coming from?

Multi-network iPhone SIM rumours at Apple

Adam Williamson 1

The answer is

"Because what I'm buying from the network is the service, and the device I use to access it is my own fucking business, thanks". But your scenario is more likely. Sigh.

Bus spotter admits £11k database fees fraud

Adam Williamson 1

of course...

...that's not an explanation, all you've done is put a name on the phenomenon the OP identified, which is not the same as explaining it. So we call it Asperger's Syndrome, fine - the question simply becomes 'why do four times as many men as women get diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome?'

Adam Williamson 1


...you only get to do it because of who your Dad was, Bruno. Now get off the comment boards and go and twat it into the wall at another simple corner.

BA slams stupid security checks

Adam Williamson 1

that's funny...

I carry mine attached to a storage device I like to call 'my laptop', as do millions of other people every day, and I haven't heard of one burning down an airport (or a plane) yet.

How's that tin foil hat fitting you?

Adam Williamson 1


Wot, no socks?

Adam Williamson 1

freeze it

after all, it's not a liquid then.

(I've been wanting to try carrying a bag containing a litre of frozen orange juice through security for a while. Anyone done it?)

Adam Williamson 1

it's not a rule...

...it's a recommendation. the 'rule' is the cut-off time for check in, which is much later. The point of the recommendation is that if you *don't* show up two hours early, then you miss your flight because they had a backlog at check in or whatever and you didn't make it, and you ask for your money back, they can say 'ah, but you didn't follow the time recommendations' and refuse to give it to you. But it's not a rule, and it's never cited as such in any airline stuff I've read.

Adam Williamson 1

Erm, what?

"For a start, there are no "terrorists". So-called "terrorists" are a weapon of mass distraction."

What do *you* call people who destroy large buildings full of civilians, marketplaces full of civilians, public spaces full of civilians (hello, Mr. McVeigh) or try to blow up airplanes with bombs in their shoes, then? Accountants?

Fair enough to be annoyed by security theatre, but saying 'there are no "terrorists"' is really pushing it a bit.

Adam Williamson 1

The only statistically valid answer I've seen...

...is 'engineers'. I'm not sure how you determine that at a glance, though.

UK border police seize £500k from Nigerians' hand luggage

Adam Williamson 1

not that easy

I 'went somewhere else'; the process took five years and cost me several thousand CURRENCY_UNITS. Worth it for me, but I can forgive the OP for giving it up as too much effort and having a good old moan instead. After all, it's the British Way.

Google boss: 'Creeped out by Street View? Just move'

Adam Williamson 1


A baffoon? Is that a cross between a buffoon and a balloon? What a lovely mental picture...

Red Hat exec proposes end to IT suckage

Adam Williamson 1

Not 'a wash'

"Whitehurst didn't mention that this waste provides $500bn worth of jobs, and that these also have a multiplicative effect, so it could be a wash. But I digress..."

That's the broken window fallacy. It ultimately never contributes to economic efficiency, though economic systems can be sufficiently complex that paying people to do nothing useful can appear beneficial in the *short* term.

11.6in sub-notebooks

Adam Williamson 1

don't really fit the category

they don't really fit the category - or at least Sony's doesn't, can't speak to Fujitsu's. Sony's X is really netbook hardware in an odd chassis - bigger than netbooks but incredibly light (much lighter than the machines in this test). It's significantly underpowered compared to the machines in this test.

Sony also sells the Z, which is a 13.3" laptop that weighs less than most of the machines in the 11.6" category and is far more powerful, but also costs a fortune. They also have a fairly boring 10" true netbook, and the 8" P. But they don't really have a dog in the 11.6" 'tweener' category.

Adam Williamson 1

believe it or not...

...the entire world doesn't revolve around Apple. Mac.

Osborne details painful cuts for UK

Adam Williamson 1

not even close

don't have the numbers to hand, but I think the answer is 'not even close'. the World Service is pretty cheap. it's mostly just talking heads in studios.

Cameron cocks up UK's defences - and betrays Afghan troops

Adam Williamson 1

um, really.

Uh...that's a good position to take in re, say, World War II. But the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? *Really*? You honestly think that if the UK hadn't invaded Afghanistan, Afghanistan would have invaded the UK?

(Note, this is not necessarily to say there isn't a plausible argument in favour of invading Afghanistan. But to argue that it's a 'fight there or fight here' war is just frankly ludicrous.)

Adam Williamson 1

the US and France, eh?

"The only time you actually need a Nimrod or something like it is when up against a big, powerful force of enemy submarines. The only such forces now in existence are operated by the US, UK and France, so this is an unlikely situation."

Oh, Lewis, Lewis. The UK has been at war with *both* of those within the last two centuries, which as you've been telling us all along is a mere eye-blink to the military bureaucrat's mind. They're probably just lulling us into a false sense of security!

Google Android chief smacks Steve Jobs with Linux speak

Adam Williamson 1

you're an idiot

yeah, no, really, you are. Did Andy say 'the definition of why your 13 year old niece should buy an Android phone'? No. He said 'the definition of open'. I don't see what the fuck your niece has to do with the price of fish.

Rooney exits Man U with a few choice words

Adam Williamson 1

You realize...

...that the god-fearing, trailer-park friendly audience probably understands Derek Jeter, Joe Torre (yes, I know he's with LA now), the Yankees, jerkoffs, and indeed baseball (a sport which is intrinsically rather more complex than football/soccer) perfectly well, right? So why would they have any trouble with the British analogues with a bit of explanation? Just because you don't agree with Fox News readers doesn't mean they're all incredibly stupid.

(given the high immigrant population of the U.S., BTW, soccer/football news is more commonly available and more widely followed than you'd probably guess. Being as blinkered a Brit as you fondly imagine your targets to be blinkered Americans.)

Jobs savages 7-inch tablet competition

Adam Williamson 1
Jobs Horns


...there's already a bunch of very popular devices out there, which their users generally love, in exactly this form factor. They're called e-readers. Go ask a Sony Reader or Kindle owner if they'd like a tablet in the same form factor as their reader, and a lot of 'em will say 'yes'. Clearly it's a form factor that works for people.

The touch argument is clearly bullshit, otherwise why does Apple sell 3" touchscreen devices? To extend Jobs' silly argument about 'filing down your fingers' to a 3" display, you'd wind up with...well...a stylus. And we all know what Steve thinks of the stylus.

Let's face it, all CEOs ever talk is whatever bullshit they can come up with to support what they happen to be hawking at that particular moment. There's no point taking anything they say remotely seriously.

Adam Williamson 1


that the new-gen iPhone and iPod Touch use the exact same resolution as the iPad expressly to make it easy to create apps that run unmodified on both.

Adam Williamson 1
Jobs Horns

No, no, that's something COMPLETELY different

""The seven-inch tablets are 'tweeners'," he said, "too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad.""

Would that be, er, the way the iPad is too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with a netbook? No, wait, I've got it - that's 'creating a new category'. My bad! As you were, Apple!

Microsoft's fear of an OpenOffice

Adam Williamson 1

Please don't make Excel macros work

Please, please, nobody make Excel macros work in OO.o. One of the joys of working in the F/OSS world is that the phrase 'Excel macro' never occurs...

(of course, the local equivalent is 'perl script').

Guardian super-blogger flames Reg boffinry desk

Adam Williamson 1


I didn't say they're not. But reporting *only* on studies and flaws in studies which support your side of the argument is not good journalism.

Do you believe that there may actually be valid climate science studies out there which tell us useful things about global warming?

Has The Reg ever reported on one of these (except to point out errors in some of them)?

Do you see the problem now?

Adam Williamson 1


y'know, I actually briefly wondered about that, and then was too lazy to go to the huge effort of going back three pages to check.

(why no, since you ask, this certainly isn't the first time being incredibly lazy has bitten me hard on the ass.)

apologies to all concerned :)

Adam Williamson 1

Logic, Reg

The Reg has a rather big problem with logic here. Your logic appears to run:

Scientist A is respected for work within his or her field of endeavour; therefore, what Scientist A has to say about climate science is significant and must carry a lot of weight.

This is just not true. Yes, Professor Haigh is a respected physicist. He's also not a climate scientist. Neither is Freeman Dyson.

Roger Ebert is a highly-respected film critic, but I wouldn't necessarily ask him for advice on setting up my home theatre. It's much the same situation. Just because someone is in some sense smart and has achieved undoubtedly good things in some field of scientific endeavour doesn't mean they really have a clue what the hell they're talking about in some other field.

"Then too there are all the embarrassing blunders made by the IPCC lately, in allowing totally unverified claims regarding glaciers, rainforests etc to filter through from hardcore green activists to official UN descriptions of the scientific state of play.

All in all, then, we'd say that our reporting is a lot more accurate than most on the environment beat. But we would say that, wouldn't we."

Yeah, you would and there's a serious problem there, too. The Reg's climate science reporting strategy is to wait until someone makes a mistake and then report on it extensively and repeatedly. Even if every piece you run is 100% factually correct, this is still not a good approach. Strictly speaking, it's 'accurate reporting', but it's not *balanced* reporting and it provides a misleading picture to your readership.

Everyone makes mistakes. I dunno, let's say - the military makes mistakes. If your military reporting desk (and I'm still not entirely sure why the hell the Reg has one, but ah well) had been around in the 1940s, it could have spent all its time waiting for the Allied forces to screw up, then reported at length on the screwups. This would have been 'accurate reporting', and anyone reading the Reg's coverage would have been under the impression that the Allied forces were losing / had lost the war. Would that be good coverage of WWII? No, it really wouldn't.

Slightly esoteric example, but hey, it applies to anything. You could report on nothing but bugs in software, and the logical conclusion from your reporting would be that no software is any good for anything at all, all it contains is bugs. I could go on, but hopefully the point is clear now: faithfully and accurately reporting only one side of the story is not good journalism, it's what Fox News does on its worst days.

Adam Williamson 1

hold it, maverick

"So the root cause is that there are too many humans on the planet and the numbers get larger everyday.

But this is way too controversial isnt it. So until somebody has the balls to stand up and say it we will never reduce CO2 output."

Sorry, but you're not some kind of maverick trailblazer. Lots of people have had this thought, someone reliably comes up with it in every story about climate change ever, and it's actually in all the official reports if you bother to look at them. I mean, think about it - it'd be impossible to come up with anything vaguely like an accurate study if you don't factor in population numbers, and how are you going to spend months accurately factoring population projections into your report on climate change and *not* think 'hey, this would be an awful lot simpler if people would just fucking well stop breeding!'? No, really, everyone knows it.

The point is that it's a fairly useless thought because, practically speaking, you're never going to convince the entire world population to stop having kids in a 100 year span, or even to slow down appreciably. The only country that's ever had the tiniest scrap of success in implementing population control is China, and look at the effort that entailed (and, well, the stinky ethics of it).

The other point is that it's really not that simple: what's mostly driving CO2 emissions is the rapid pace of industrial development in several parts of the developing world, notably China. As a lot of nations are being really quite successful in bootstrapping themselves up to the level of resource usage of 'developed' nations - China, India et al - their energy usage and carbon emissions per head are skyrocketing. And, as noted above, China is the one country which is actually able to manage any kind of population control. And good luck convincing the Chinese that they can save the world if they just stop building factories and cities and improving their quality of life and instead choose to spend another 1,000 years holding a buffalo on a piece of string (thanks, Terry). You wouldn't do it, why should they?

Facebook is 'killing privacy for commercial gain'

Adam Williamson 1

not that simple

"Call me stupid.... but how exactly does Facebook make money - how did it make that Suckerberk bloke, or whatever his name is, a billionaire?"


"Where does that much revenue come from? Who pays Facebook and for what?"

No-one outside of Facebook actually knows how much revenue or profit Facebook makes, because it's a private company and doesn't have to file this information publicly, but neither profit nor revenue are necessary to make Zuckerberg a billionaire. He's valued at billions of dollars on the basis of sales of shares in Facebook: if you assume that all Zuckerberg's shares are worth what others who've bought a smaller amount of Facebook shares, so far, have paid for them, then he's worth X billion dollars. He doesn't actually have X billion dollars, in cash, which Facebook made as profits and he took out of the business; it's not that simple. So Facebook makes Zuckerberg a billionaire because other people believe that Facebook is worth a lot of money and expressed that belief by paying lots of money for small shares of Facebook (the company). This belief was never actually based on the amount of revenue _or_ profit Facebook was making at the time these people / entities bought their shares.

Philip Green discovers ugly truth of government incompetence

Adam Williamson 1

@AC 13:37

"I find myself incredibly annoyed by both sides of this piece. After 12 years of multi-channel retail experience I can fully understand where Sir Phillip is coming from because he and his staff have the freedom to make a decision and implement it without any recourse to outside considerations or requirements, except shareholder satisfaction. "

Yeah, except it doesn't work that way. Large organizations breed inefficiency and complexity. It really doesn't matter if they're public sector or private sector.

Ask anyone who works at a company the same size as a major government - IBM, someone like that. Do they have the freedom to make decisions on their own authority without regard (I think that's what you mean when you say 'recourse') to any considerations except shareholder satisfaction? Of course they fucking don't. They have to make decisions with regard to a baffling bureaucratic mess of regulations and policies and procedures which have accumulated over the years to try and codify various different people's ideas of what might ultimately engender shareholder satisfaction. As another commenter said, the principle difference between this story and the private sector is we don't get to see the private sector's efficiency reports. I bet if we did, they'd be just as damning, at the high level.

Adam Williamson 1

that's okay...

...avoidance is the legal one. OP got it right.