* Posts by J I

17 posts • joined 21 May 2010

Who the heck even owns this company? Where is it? Biz risk outfit uses graphDBs to build mammoth compliance network


Wagile? I've always heard it called Scrumterfall, but either way, stupid word, stupid idea.

Farewell then, Slack: The grown-ups have arrived


I'd rather stick with Slack than trust Microsoft not to stuff it up

Slack isn't a replacement for e-mail, it's a different beast. We use Slack a lot and have all kinds of inter-team channels, and it works really well for short form instant-messages between team members and sharing links to other resources, and the seach isn't bad for finding all the useful code snippets that someone has sent you later. We still use e-mail for all the other stuff that e-mail is a better fit for.

I can see that Microsoft's offer being free is tempting, but Slack is relatively reliable, has decent phone apps, and a good set of features, whereas MS will probably push this hard now, neglect it for a bit, then at arbitrary intervals push out unnecessary new versions that pointlessly screw up all the features you were relying on, like they did with Skype (et al).

Yes, Britain has an urban-rural 4G schism. This is what it looks like


Any point?

I turned 4G off on my phone (iPhone 7) as soon as I got it to make the battery last longer and can't say I've ever been very bothered about speed problems with 3G for any of the apps I use (streaming audio, maps, mail, Slack, Skype, news, weather, Google, basic browsing). Is there actually any point in it?

ARM chip OG Steve Furber: Turing missed the mark on human intelligence


Ancient history

For those who like their computer history, it's perhaps worth mentioning that Acorn did actually do a prototype tablet device, the NewsPAD, around 1996 as part of an EU project, but it never got futher than that:



I tried one out at the time - it was a bit clunky, bit it did point the way to what we have today.

Uber Cali goes ballistic, calls online ads bogus: These million-dollar banners are something quite atrocious


Re: Wannamker's Dictum

If you're going to quote a cliche, at least put all the words in.

Anyway, that's hopelessly out of date, now it should be "you know 99% of money spent on internet advertising is wasted, so you'd better hope the other 1% was worth it."

1Password won't axe private vaults. It'll choke 'em to death instead


Password Safe

What's wrong with Password Safe? Free and open source for Windows, and someone does a (non-free) iOS version which I use to access the same password files via Dropbox.

Fancy a relaxed boozy holiday? Keep well away from Great Britain

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"Advertising bans restrict competition and stifle innovation" - oh yes, I clearly remember the days when blanket fag ads did so much to encourage the tobacco companies to develop innovative products that didn't give you cancer.

"Smoking bans damage pubs and clubs" - yep, making them pleasant places to breathe has totally ruined them for me.

Will the real builders of IoT please stand up?



Can we redefine "IoT" as "Internet of Tat"? That's pretty much what most so-called IoT devices amount to as far as I can tell...

In mourning for Nano, chap crafts 1k-loc text editor


Succint Software

Following up the bootnote, the classic of this genre has to be Extra Rheolism - Tetris in a single line of BBC BASIC.

NZ Justice Minister scalped as hacker leaks emails


Not knowing anything about NZ politics I found this a bit hard to follow as you seem to have mixed up peoples names. The article starts by talking about "Cameron Smith", who seems to change into "Slater", and then Fairfax mysteriously appears. If you're going to cover stories like this a bit more effor to make them comprehensible would be appreciated.

Hong Kong underground gets pay-by-bonk


Called Octopus because...

While Wikipedia says the name 'Octopus' was chosen in an open competition, someone from Sony's FeliCa group (who developed the card) once insisted to me that it was actually a Japanese pun. In Japanese "oku" is the verb "to place" while "to" means "and", so "oku-to-pass" can be understood in Japanese as "place it and pass", and pronounced in Japanese it sounds the same as "octopus". Not a particularly amusing pun or indeed a very useful piece of information, but for some reason I remembered it and thought I'd share it anyway.

15 MILLION dodgy login attempts spaffed all over Nintendo loyalists


Soft target?

I have a Club Nintendo account from when I was living in Japan (which does not appear to have been accessed, fortunately). It seems unlikely to me that anyone was hacking it for the things you can get as they are mostly limited edition Nintendo goods which need physical delivery and aren't particularly valuable anyway. My guess is that the hackers either wanted the kudos of hacking a household name, or were after a soft target for getting personal information they could use for something else.

Ed Iacobucci: Brains behind OS/2 and Citrix, nicest guy in tech


A sad loss

I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Iaccobuchi a few times when I was working for one of Citrix's first resellers in Japan, and can confirm that he was genuine, friendly, engaging, and highly knowledgable - very different from most people in senior positions in tech companies I've come across elsewhere. I am sorry to hear of his death, and am sure he will be sadly missed by all those who knew him.

Microsoft reinfects Chrome with closed video codec

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Are patents only bad if it's video?

I'm with Paul 135 on this one. What has The Register got against H.264 in particular? MP3 is a patent-encumbered codec too, but I don't recall any articles complaining that audio players and browsers are "infected" with it. It's just a codec. It's up to the person encoding the video to choose whether they want to use it or not, but I'd prefer it if my browser made it easy to play back video and audio in common formats without me having to faff about downloading extra plugins. Google deciding to deliberately not support H.264 in Chrome seems, from a user-friendliness point of view, a bit annoying, but in the end not very significant.

Google open video codec may face patent clash


Re: Content rules

"There is a problem with their business plan. It only works if h264 is the only serious choice of codec for online video streaming."

No it doesn't, online video streaming on the internet has not been a significant factor in the use of H.264 until relatively recently. H.264 is pretty much the current de-facto standard for video compression in the consumer electronics world. It's use in almost all recent HD digital TV standards, in professional products for production and broadcasting copmpanies, in mobile phones, Blu-ray players, digital cameras, video cameras and in software decoders on PCs and Macs. The H.264 patent holders get paid royalties on millions of units of products like these that use it every year. It's already an widely used standard and will be a cash cow for the patent holders for yeards to come, regardless of whether or not it's used on YouTube, so I doubt inernet streaming has figured that highly in their business plans until now, though I guess that could be changing.


Re: @What a lot of nonsense

"That's better, this is a USA thing, not European. These patents don't apply here and with recent EC moves, isn't likely to apply anytime soon."

Every year I go to the IBC trade show in Amsterdam (for the broadcast, film and video industry) and every year there's a raid on the stands of a few far-eastern set-top box manufacturers who get all their demo products confiscated because they haven't taken out a license for the MPEG audio codecs (which are managed by Sisvel, not MPEG-LA). If you don't believe me look at this story which dates from 2005, but the same thing happens every year:


They did the same thing at CeBIT in 2008, as the Reg reported:


Now this isn't the same issue as H.264, but it does make me question your assertion that nobody tries enfocing codec patents in Europe.


What a lot of nonsense

As someone who has worked in the digital video field for a few years, the sheer quantity of nonsense that's been spouted about Google's open-sourcing of VP8 vs H.264 by people who clearly have no idea what they're talking about is amazing. It seems any story involving the words "open source" and "patents" results in pages of comments that look like they've been generated by a tech version of the Twat-O-Tron.

H.264 is a coding format, it's an ISO standard and it isn't patented as such. It does however make use of many different compression techniques which are patented. There's a lot of them - the document listing all the patent numbers on the MPEG-LA web site is 56 pages long and the patents are held by 26 different organisations. These patents aren't specific to H.264; any similar type of codec is likely to infringe a number of the same patents, so the fact that MPEG-LA is looking at VP8 isn't in the least bit suprising. Indeed it would be pretty hard to come up with a codec of this type that didn't infringe some of these patents.

Personally I don't agree with software patents, but they exist and that's the world that companies like Apple, Microsoft and all operate in. Some commenters seem to have the bizarre idea that H.264 is a conspiracy by Apple and Microsoft to "lock" people in to something that's "closed". There's nothing closed about H.264 though, it's a proper standard supported by a huge range of software and hardware from hundreds of suppliers, including open source encoders and decoders. One of the good things about it is that it's not controlled by a single company. I think people are confusing "open" with "free", which it clearly isn't if you're doing anything commercial with it.

When companies like Apple and MS talk about "uncertainty" being a factor against using 'free' video codecs, I think they mostly mean what they say. H.264 is highly encumbered with patents, but at least you know what they are and how much they cost, which is important for any commercial enterprise. Using a codec which doesn't have a clear licensing system is risky, because people could come after you for payments of unpredicatable size at a later date.

I'm not entirely sure why Google is choosing to fight this battle now, but I doubt it's for altruistic reasons. Maybe they figure that after a long drawn-out bout of legal sniping they will be able to force the MPEG-LA consortium into a compromise which gives Google a deal on terms that are much better than those they could obtain today. As Google's ambitions almost certainly involve making serious money out of video streaming, this could be worth far more to them than the cost of buying On2 and giving the technology away. Anyone have any better theories?


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