* Posts by Alastair 7

264 publicly visible posts • joined 29 Jun 2009


Microsoft mum on leaked Phone OS plans

Alastair 7

"So, as an executive, I'm in a conference with other multinational executives and instead of exchanging a business card we touch phones???"

Do you really think that's all NFC is for? Google Wallet allows you to pay for things over NFC instead of your credit card. It isn't a huge deal yet, but it will be.

Alastair 7

Well, I've been here for a while

And I like my WP7 phone. Had a Nexus One, and upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy SII, realised that it solved none of my frustrations with Android and tried out the Focus S. Considerably lighter and thinner than the SII, and a far better experience all around.

But I'm just a Microsoft shill, of course.

Byte-dock MacBook Pro port replicator

Alastair 7

I run my Macbook closed a lot of the time, it's no issue at all. The laptop does sleep when you close the lid, but pressing any key or mouse button you've got plugged in wakes it back up against instantly.

Star Control

Alastair 7

It's a shame this isn't about SC2, because good lord was that an engrossing game. I lost whole sections of my childhood to it, and learning more about the backstory that surrounded it.

Looking back (using the Ur-Quan Masters port that Ramazan posted) it still holds up- a huge story, with plenty of mystery and intrigue. Just such a shame that the original creators weren't allowed to make a sequel (SC3 was made by another company).

Windows 8: First contact with Microsoft Touch

Alastair 7

Probably the right move

If MS had tried to create yet another OS to rival iOS and Android it would likely have tanked. If they can pull off this hybrid approach (and hopefully bring WP7 into the fold at some point) it could really pay off.

I have an iPad right now, but a Windows Tablet sounds like it would be inherently more capable- running fully fledged apps rather than locked down iOS alternatives, direct access to the file system, etc... of course, they could yet get it all wrong. But it's a very interesting start.

Why Android houses should give Google the 'fork you'

Alastair 7

Apps, apps, apps

You mention it, but immediately brush over it- removing app compatibility with Android would be a total killer. WebOS and Windows Phone haven't met with much success for many reasons, but the lack of apps is a very real, very important reason.

I know plenty of Reg commenters will chime in and say "well, all I need is my POP e-mail client and a telnet prompt", but we're not typical users. The typical user loves their apps, and when their friends start talking about apps they can't run on their phone they are going to start looking at it as a hinderance.

Memo to kid coders: Enterprise software exists

Alastair 7

It isn't ignorance

I'm a little older than the Y Combinator set at 28. I graduated university and went to a (shall remain nameless) utility company. The department was using an Excel spreadsheet to track all the work- it was a total, utter mess.

I built a small, quick .NET app (using an Access backend- it's not so gross when you strip away the frontend, you know). Productivity skyrocketed (no more entering the same data in six different places) and I was proud. Ready to move onto the next, bigger challenge. Except it turned out that all of those challenges had been taken by an outsourced development team that slowly converted every single app (including mine) into a creaking, awful SAP solution. The IT department was packed out with awful middle managers who waffled on endlessly and never made decisions. They commanded an insane budget and spent it on the stupidest things I've ever seen.

I left. I now work for a startup, and I'm not heading back into any kind of 'enterprise' world while I can avoid it.

Lightning strikes cloud: Amazon, MS downed

Alastair 7

Don't be so sure

This isn't exactly a crisis for cloud computing. A lightning strike could hit a data centre you own yourself, too. In fact, with cloud hosting you could recover very quickly by spinning up a new instance (say, in the US) while the Dublin centre recovers. Can't do that with your own data centre.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Alastair 7


"How so many people are biased by Apple products. Where is the objectivity that we need from an IT rag?"

Err, they're comparing it to the iPad because its a competing device. Are you suggesting they ignore it?

Kinect space saver on its way

Alastair 7

A little skeptical

I'm skeptical of this- if it was that easy I'd imagine MS would have done it already. Wait for the reviews on this one, I suspect.

Marketer taps browser flaw to see if you're pregnant

Alastair 7

What rubbish

"I use NoScript precisely for this reason and AdBlock because advertisers have no right to be putting anything on my computer without my consent in the first place,"

They're not putting anything on your computer, they are putting it on the web site you are viewing, and the money from this advertising is what keeps web sites going. Do you read newspapers? If so, do you own a tool that rips out every advertisement from the paper before you touch it?

If you don't want to see the advertising, don't visit the web site.

Alastair 7

Don't be insane

Disabling JS shuts off a huge majority of web sites that non-techy people use every day. Setting JS to 'off' by default would be like restricting all cars to 30mph in case someone does something dangerous.

Nintendo: no DVD, BD playback for Wii U

Alastair 7

Netflix, etc.

With Netflix already on the Wii, you can be sure they'll be on the Wii U. Digital downloads are the future- not least because Nintendo could try to get in on the action.

HTTP-on-steroids busts out of Google

Alastair 7


"Scrub the ads = instant turbo. For free."

You do know why the ads are there, right? To earn money. Taking them away is not "free".

Google open sources $68.2m realtime comm platform

Alastair 7

Spoken like a true consultant

Clearly the valuation has nothing to do with the number of lines of code. The usefulness of a program has nothing to do with it's size.

It has everything to do with the ability and uniqueness of the product.

Nokia betas some DLNA love

Alastair 7

Those poor Nokia engineers

I'm betting they've worked through the night for weeks to get this released- just so that they have something extra to add to their resume now that they'll be looking for new jobs.

Nokia gives up predicting sales

Alastair 7

Tin foil hats at the ready!

"THAT is what you are selling for your wonderful blue blue shiny phone. You are selling your life, your movements, your thoughts, your interests and everything."

No, you aren't. To take Android as an example- you don't have to use Gmail. Just use IMAP email. You are asked when you first turn the phone on whether you want to send location data to Google. You can say no. Scared of the Maps app? Download a different one (an OSM-based one, perhaps) - and not even from the Market, you can side-load apps over USB.

All I'm seeing in your post is a load of paranoid nonsense. If you are very security conscious, you can take steps to secure your phone (perhaps not iPhone, I don't know enough about it). "Selling your life", indeed. You CAN sell your life, and get services in return. But you don't have to.

RIM PlayBook strikes back at Jobsian internet dream

Alastair 7

Serious question

Why in the hell did they call it the PlayBook?

When I first saw the name I assumed that it meant they were going for a consumer-friendly device. And while this isn't consumer-unfriendly, its success seems to be pegged on business. Who might be inclined to turn down a purchase request for a "PlayThing".

HP exec: WebOS tablet will trounce iPad

Alastair 7

Branding? Should have kept "Palm"

HP is not a sexy brand name. It never will be. While Palm wasn't exactly sexy it at least has a great reputation among business, and had a chance to invent an image for itself with the non-business consumer.

Google's Egypt hero: Tech biz, keep out of Arab politics

Alastair 7

A taxation rant? Say it ain't so!

It's reasonably obvious that he was referring to Egyptian politics. When was the last time you paid tax to the Egyptian government? Yes, I thought so.

(Yes, yes, I know, money is transferred between governments. But the idea that an individual has the right to poke into Egyptian politics because they pay taxes in another country is insane)

Microsoft fails to turn punters on to WinPho 7

Alastair 7

I'd be interested in a W7 phone

I used to have an iPhone, then I got an Android phone. Although Android is more open, the user experience infuriates me at times (lock screen doesn't respond, screen never wakes back up), and the UI is less than polished.

So I'm seriously considering making my next phone W7 or WebOS. Neither are quite as open as Android, but they're more open than iPhone. All I need now is for Nokia to actually make a phone (always liked their hardware, hated the software) and for HP to maybe try and make WebOS more of contender. Wishful thinking, I know...

iControlPad Bluetooth controller for mobile devices

Alastair 7

Wii Classic?!

I'm not going to carry around a Wii Classic controller and a Wiimote (both bigger than the phone itself) in order to play games. What would you hold the phone with?

Microsoft chucks bigger salaries and cash bonuses at staff

Alastair 7

What a load of rubbish

Just because you work for a big organisation does not make you a 'corporate tool'. I'd love to have Google's "20% time" in my job.

Facebook fixes Hotmail reset bug

Alastair 7


How do you know when a Register reader doesn't have a Facebook account?

They'll tell you.

Microsoft floats fresh code for Azure

Alastair 7

Just make the freebie permanent

I'm playing around with a site/mobile app idea right now. I have no idea whether it'll take off, so I don't really want to stump up a load of cash. Both Amazon and the Google App Engine have tree tiers that mean I can keep playing around with it for free until it gets popular, if it ever does.

Free until September is great, but I'm still not going to go for it until I get a longer term promise than that. Just make the smallest, lowest tier available for free, for good. Then more small startups will start using Azure.

Microsoft cranks out Internet Explorer 10 preview

Alastair 7

I wish they could

But HTML5, for example, isn't going to be 'written in stone' for another 3 years:


It's a stupid situation, but don't blame MS for implementing HTML5/CSS3 technologies- the other browser vendors have gone ahead and done it themselves anyway, sometimes with differing implementations...

Microsoft promises not-quite-as-much Street View

Alastair 7

Actually, there's more to it

Check out this video from Microsoft Research back in 2010:


Looks like they have plans to do a little more than Street View.

Ubuntu board rejects slippery Flash installs

Alastair 7

FUD, moron or right?

"I installed Ubuntu for my gf two years ago"

I did the same. The trackpad on her bog-standard Dell didn't work properly, the printer didn't work, and Rhythmbox randomly froze and crashed. Don't get me started on OpenOffice's suitability for writing documents you are going to submit to university professors.

I spent a while screwing around with Synaptics trying to get the trackpad working before I realised that Ubuntu still doesn't "just work". I'd love for it to, but my experiences taught me that it still isn't ready yet.

Yahoo! answers Google Instant with streaming web search

Alastair 7

Except, no

It appears to show the top 3 results when it doesn't have anything else to show. But search for Kobe Bryant (as the article states) and you see a stats sheet. Search for Hong Kong, and it provides a list of hotels, top spots and the current time.

It's only a complete fail when you compare it to Google Instant (which actually still annoys me a bit). I think it's actually a quite different product, and it's a shame that it's only ever going to get compared to the way Google refreshes a page as you type. This works out relevant categories of information, and displays the most used. Maybe I'm alone, but I find it pretty interesting. It's not a whole lot to look at now, but if they add more info, and allow third parties to plug in data, it could get very interesting.

How to slay a cellphone with a single text

Alastair 7


"because I can send an email to show up as a text to most phones. example AT&T = <cel#>@txt.att.net"

Yes, but you can't send special binary characters and overflowed headers in that e-mail. You need a slightly deeper level of access to send these messages.

Buy two tablets, stop a laptop from being shipped

Alastair 7

I think it depends who you are

If you're an every-day employee then no, a tablet isn't going to do much for you. However, if you're a higher up that spends more time consuming content (be it spreadsheets, presentations, whatever) in meetings than creating it at your desk, then a tablet could be pretty useful.

And let's not forget- these are the same people that are in charge of the budgets...

Apple handcuffs 'open' web apps on iPhone home screen

Alastair 7

This will be news

..when Apple refuse to release a fix. Right now the story basically boils down to "there are some possible post-release bugs with iOS 4.3. Bug reports have been filed, but no feedback has been given yet".

Apple have earned the reputation that makes everyone suspicious of them, but it's a little early to call them evil on this specific issue.

Microsoft to Apple: 'Oh, yeah? Well, your font is too small'

Alastair 7

Actually makes sense... sort of

When politicians are debating, they're given a time limit. That way, they don't drivel on forever while they desperately try to cover every base. I imagine this is much the same- you've got a set limit of 30 pages to make your case. If it takes longer than that, then your case probably isn't a great one.

Pr0n stars to demo against .xxx

Alastair 7


I might be wrong, but I believe the argument has nothing to do with censoring content in the workplace or for the kiddies. It's the idea of censorship in the first place.

Take The Sun's Page 3, for example. Topless ladies, but the newspaper isn't on the top shelf. Should it be an .xxx domain? You might say not, others might say yes. Agreeing on standards of decency across the world is anything but simple.

Microsoft rallies IE6 death squads

Alastair 7


Everyone loves to rewrite history. When IE6 first came out it was fantastic compared to the competition (Netscape 6 anyone? Thought not). Not that I'm defending the browser- it's terrible by today's standards. But then, so is Firefox 1...

Patent attack on Google open codec faces 'antitrust probe'

Alastair 7


"Safari is small potatoes. The ones that will count are Chrome, Firefox and Opera."

If Safari doesn't belong on that list, then Opera sure as hell doesn't either.

Repeat after me: Opera is not the second coming. Opera is not the second coming.

Apple cuts iPad price

Alastair 7

Just ordered one

I'm in the US, but a refurbished, clearance first gen 16GB iPad 3G cost me $479. Not bad at all, for what it is. I didn't really see what was supposed to get me so excited in the iPad 2.

German Foreign Office kills desktop Linux, hugs Windows XP

Alastair 7

No doubt everyone will accuse corruption

...while sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "la la la la la"...

OpenOffice is *still* not as good as Office. The Linux desktop is more confusing than the Windows one. Whether that's because of user familiarity or not is irrelevant. If they want users to be able to use the FOSS products efficiently, they'll have to pay for expensive training. If the training is more expensive than buying a bulk XP license, they'll buy XP.

HTML5 kicked into 2014

Alastair 7


*This* is why browser incompatibilities continue to exist. Browser manufacturers have no choice but to push on without guidance, and hope that it'll all work out in the end. Are we really supposed to not use technology *available today* until 2014?

What on earth is the problem here? Given the millions the internet industry makes, why can't some people with a clue take over these specs?

Google and Microsoft relive Joan Collins catfight

Alastair 7

Re: Eh?

"No you're not, you're getting real, live data from your biggest competitor. This isn't the users' data, this is Googles data."

But it isn't. It's data about what end users are doing, no matter while site they are on. Yes, that data includes information from Google, but it isn't as sinister as directly copying from them, it's a side effect of Google's market dominance.

"But then Microsoft has been copying everything else in the industry for twenty years, this isn't exactly surprising."

Welcome to the world of business.

"There's that word again, deluded. So which of their competitors do you think Google are copying?"

The way they copied the Bing image search UI, you mean? I'm not criticising them. Like I said, this is the world of business, where everyone copies anything worth having if they can get away with it. As an end user, I benefit. Google isn't exactly a benevolent god either, why should I defend them?

Alastair 7

All seems bloody stupid

I honestly don't see the huge fuss in what MS is doing. Well, from a privacy perspective perhaps, but what's new.

Think about it: MS has a browser toolbar that watches what pages people look at. As part of the Google 'sting', MS sees the following:

1. User searches for term X on a search engine (could be any of them)

2. User clicks on link Y, presumably because it matches their search.

3. Bings marks this URL and search term accordingly.

What's the problem? Seems like a great algorithm to me- you're getting real, live data from genuine users. Apart from when Google has launched an operation against you, of course.

If you think Google isn't doing the same kind of tracking you're deluded. Just seems like MS is making better use of the data.

Facebook offers 500 million users SSL crypto

Alastair 7

Kind of a fail on the part of the article

Facebook specifically said that they're "rolling it out"- i.e. it's not an instant thing. So I guess everyone just has to wait a bit.

Mozilla blocks Firefox-breaking Skype toolbar

Alastair 7


" I asked myself are those developers so dumb ?"

You made the easy mistake of assuming that this is the fault of developers. I guarantee you that someone in the marketing department saw the Google toolbar and said "we need our brand on our user's screens 24/7!", and immediately tasked a developer with this insidious task.

Nokia C7 smartphone

Alastair 7


"Near flawless hardware design? Really? I recently got a Nokia N8, and I suggest you Google for "N8 restarting problem". Basically I had the phone less than a week and every once in a while it would reboot itself. "

That sounds like a software problem, not a hardware one.

Apple without Jobs: Who's next?

Alastair 7


(classy move posting anonymously, by the way)

You're looking to blame the American medical system, not Steve Jobs. I'm not arguing that it's unfair, but if you or a loved one were given the choice, and you could afford it, are you seriously telling me that you'd turn it down? Of course you wouldn't.

Alastair 7

I'm amazed

That someone downvoted you.

Microsoft Kinect man enlists with Google special ops

Alastair 7

Seems like a narrow way of looking at it

"Does this mean Google is working on some kind of new game or game-like service?"

This is where the article went off on a tangent for me- the guy seems like he's fascinated with interfaces in general, and Kinect is a fascinating interface. I can't even begin to imagine the possible interfaces Google are dreaming up, but I very much doubt they're constrained in the realm of a games console.

Will Windows on ARM sink Windows Phone 7?

Alastair 7

Re: Bwahahahahahahaha

I started writing a reply to you, then I realised that you've obviously never done any real development with the .NET framework, and don't really know what you're talking about.

But yes, M$ is evil lol.

Alastair 7

The .NET framework should help here, unless they're stupid

There's never going to be one UI for both mobile devices and desktops- we can forget that dream right now. And while MS is in a pretty awkward spot right now, the fact that W7 apps and a lot of Windows apps are written with the same framework ought to be a huge help.

After all, Apple's mobile OS success isn't that it runs the same OS as a desktop Mac, it's that the APIs are the same. Beneath that point the average app developer doesn't really need to care much, if it's done right. So, irregardless of what processor or form factor we're running on, provide a consistent API through .NET. While you'll still have plenty of internal headaches, the rest of the world will be able to get on with developing for your product.

Facebook facing fall-down issues

Alastair 7


"Any decent system would have told me to bugger off and use a 'real' password"

Why? It's your fault. If it has warned you that your password is insecure and you didn't change it, I don't see why that's Facebook (or any site)'s problem. They're not in the business of making it harder for you to use the site.