* Posts by Tim

206 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Oct 2006


'Replace crypto-couple Alice and Bob with Sita and Rama'


Re: A lot of hostility here

Ugh. This place is turning into Reddit.

Back on topic. My employer, a US-based software company, has 45 developers, of which 40 are either Indian or Pakistani. I welcome anything that brings a cultural perspective to IT that isn't white, male and western, especially if it comes from a large and growing chunk of the industry's people. I'm no bleeding-heart multi-culti Grauniad reader; I'm just bored of sci-fi and sports analogies. Sita and Rama sound cool. I didn't know anything about them until now, and I'm pleased I've learned something.

Are you a hot BABE in heels and a short skirt? SCIENCE is for YOU


You lot - and Anna Leach - have all missed the point entirely

This video has nothing to do with attracting women into science. It's actually designed to help reverse the general downward trend of *anyone* going into science. It does that by attempting to entice men to the field by suggesting that your average lab is so chock-full of giggly totty that your beaker will constantly be foaming over.

Dinosaurs were DRAINED of blood by GIGANTIC HORROR FLEAS


About time

Let's look for some of these preserved in amber.

US tweet deportation: Chilling behind-the-scenes photos


Good work on the prison sets

Production values on these things is getting pretty high. Jolly funny too.

George Lucas: 'No more Star Wars'


Wait, what?!!

"Kind of like 'The Color Purple', only in airplanes" and "like a Tyler Perry movie, only without jokes."

As far as I can see the only two things those two examples have in common are... lots of black actors. Have I missed some deep, film-school-nerd connection or is he really trying to say that he's made a movie for black people without mentioning race?

His quotation works elsewhere, too: I suppose the Prequels were "Like a Star Wars movie, only without a heart, some spectacle and a sense of fun and adventure."

His work is a sad example of what happens to great artists when they don't die young.

GAGA prepares to inhale some grass


Optimal solution

You've made a very good point in jest. You don't actually *need* a power-hungry, noisy robotic lawnmower if you keep a goat (or a sheep.) That would make for a fairly boring SPB report though, so please do continue along the incredibly dangerous course you've started on :)

The moment a computer crash nearly caused my car crash


Needs warning lights

My Alfa did this to me once in Italy. It got confused when I braked hard with the nearside wheels on a gravelly verge while the others stayed on the road. It was kind enough to flash up some interesting lights on the dash, so I turned it off and back on again and all was well. Had your traction control/DSP/whatever light been flashing while you were driving along at 20mph on a straight city street you might have been inclined to try the same. I wonder why your car didn't do that; every so-equipped car I've driven puts up lights when those systems activate (which is quite often when you drive over ice or mud or gravel in the country; I'm not a tail-happy boy racer by any means.)

Still, it's pretty bloody stupid to drive a broken car across a railway line, don't you think?

Cnet slammed for wrapping Nmap downloads with cruddy toolbar


That was a shocker

I really couldn't believe what I was seeing when I came across that a few months ago. I thought the installer had been compromised, so I didn't continue the upgrade.

I think they've fixed it now though. Haven't tried it since.

Apple Thunderbolt Display 27in monitor


I don't understand Apple

This screen is clearly aimed at rich, cool people who live in quasi-industrial penthouse lofts in once-rough-but-now-quite-posh city quarters. Why, then, make it so shiny that it's only of real use in a nerd's windowless basement hermit cave?

Could it be because Tarqin Trustfundington and his artisinal yoghurt-eating chums on the top floor actually just use it as a mirror? The proof will be whether it tilts back 90 degrees so you can do a line off it.

Why your tech CV sucks

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I think that's a fair point you've made, at least in the context of web development. However there is a bit more to the picture. Without any disrespect towards the many excellent, highly skilled and deeply professional WDs out there, a company can be successful recruiting these for themselves because there are an awful lot to choose from.

Dominic Connor specialises in placing very, very highly paid quants with City firms. These are people with Maths and Physics PhDs, hardcore C++ expertise and expectations of salaries well into six figures. There are not that many of these people around at all and the services of a well-connected headhunter can make a hiring manager's job an awful lot easier.

He is right to hold candidates like this to a very high standard. He is also right to expect people wanting to break into this area to be consummately professional in every aspect of their working lives. Shoddy spelling on a CV is indicative of laziness and a slapdash attitude; that is not something to which you'd want to entrust millions of pounds. His candidates demand a lot and he is absolutely right to expect as much in return.

The rest of this isn't aimed so much at your comment as at the legions of chippy coders here who seem to think that they're being hired for their "technical skills" and that nothing else they do matters.

Communication with other people - with business managers, with traders, with others on the team - is vitally important. No techie works in a bubble and, like it or not, their coding skills won't save their jobs if they express yourself like a four year old.

The number of absolute rock-star coders, worldwide, whose skills are so intergalactic that they can get away with not washing and refusing to speak to colleagues is probably in the single digits. Unfortunately this attitude - I'm paid to write code, not docs; I'm too important to speak to Sales; the team revolves around ME - is all to prevalent among the millions of other developers whose skills, no matter how good, will never be enough to back up that kind of arrogance. Dominic's article is a welcome slap in the face to these kinds of people who, judging by the tone of many posts on here, still don't get it. Coincidentally, they won't get the high-paying jobs either.

Nokia takes NFC phones to New York subway


Well, they *trialled* proximity tickets

They didn't work very well. Two or three seconds on average to register a tap from my NFC debit card. The trial ended last year. Magnetic strip Metrocards are currently the only way to get through the barriers.

Apple shouldn't bother with TV...


The problem *does* exist, in the USA at least

The problem is a two sided coin: price and adverts.

Pay TV in the USA is ruinously expensive and, excepting sports and a few stand-out series a year, completely shit. Customers pay through the nose to receive a broadcast stream of utter garbage, then gratefully pay a little bit more for the right to record the good stuff. It's like panning for gold, only we have to pay for access to the river, then the water, fox pee and mud in it and finally for the rent of a sieve. Of course adverts mean that each tiny nugget of gold is almost 33% manure anyway, so we have to keep on refining it even after we've fished it out of the river.

A universal, pan-network, on-demand, over-the-internet streaming TV service would make an almighty killing while saving the consumer a small fortune. I built one myself. While it's not completely wife friendly it's not actively abusive towards her; it aggregtes Netflix, Hulu Plus and some other network-specific streams and it cost me one Mac Mini and a broadband line. TV is so expensive here that it had completely paid for itself within six months: it saves me over $120 a month. I miss out only on some American sports ($120 a month buys a lot of beer in the local bar though), deafening, over-compressed adverts and half-hour infomercials for dubious exercise equipment.

I would absolutely love to wrap a slick UI around it and have access to everything in one place. The fact that my wife prefers to use VNC to control it from her laptop (and learn all the different channel's interfaces) rather than pay for Time Warner Cable and one of their godawful DVRs tells me all I need to know about how shocking the American TV experience is. Even my doughy, cable-loving friends with their 'man caves', Bud Light fridges and enormous plasmas get interested when I explain exactly how much I'm saving.

Back in the UK, Sky+ did the job perfectly well. It was good enough and the price was reasonable. Here, entrenched monopolies, rampant greed and a public ignorant of any better way conspire to keep TV a really crappy rip-off. It's a pity, because the good "content" is very very good indeed.

There's easily as much room for Apple in this market as there was in telecomms.

Facebook's complexity will be its doom


Too many developers

That's it, really. The company has far too many programmers on staff. They needed the army during the ramp-up phase, but not anymore. The platform works, supports nearly a billion users and does everything it needs to do. Now those under-utilized geeks have solved all the hard problems and are spending their days hacking away on cool new ideas. These inevitably end up in the product, over-burdening it with ever more complex and pointless things.

My John Harvey-Jones fix: bin 90% of the programmers (pay them a million each), keep a small team to maintain and slowly extend the core, and leave it at that. After all, once your house is finished you don't keep the builders and architects on retainer, but you might hire in a decorator once in a while. Lots of those laid-off, rich hackers will start new businesses around the edge of the FB ecosystem, strengthening the platform with optional features while leaving the core intact and lean.

Won't happen while Zuckerberg is in charge. He's a hacker himself, at heart so he won't kill his own kind. He also seems to combine the greed of a Lucas with Job's need for control.

Netflix: How to completely screw up


A business school case study in the making

I don't see how this will end well for Netflix. It's fun to watch though: two Coke Zero moments in less than a year. MBA students will enjoy ripping this one apart in 10 years. They'll learn how an idiot CEO with no stock in the company managed to squander a decade of unbelievable goodwill with a one-two punch to his loyal customers' nuts. Reed can take his place in the hall of shame alongside Gerald Ratner.

In my house use both streaming and DVD. They complement each other nicely. Do their figures really suggest that we are in a minority? It's how everyone I know uses Netflix. The shitty streaming library practically forces it.

Up until my bill (first post-hike payment today, and it hurts), the only annoyance I had was Silverlight: we use a Mac Mini as an HTPC and f'ing Silverlight updates once a week with a stupid dialog box that pops up only when you hit play, instead of a polite background auto updater like every other program in the world. But I blamed Microsoft's cluelessness for that, not Netflix.

Now they're separating the companies. No integration, no single queue to manage, not even a promise they're going to add this. Two accounts to maintain. Two streams of emailed spam. Two sets of customer service. Two more opportunities for some cracker to steal my credit card details, and the worst company name I've heard since the first dot com boom.

Had they announced this by saying, "We've put all our DVDs on Instant Watch! The library is huge! But, if you still want DVDs, you have to get them from our sister company," then I think people would understand. As it is though, they've cocked it completely.

Irishman's coke-packed abdomen poses for police



So did he eat them then, or were they shoved up his back passage, or were they inserted surgically? It looks like a *lot* and he looks like he's completely full. Is this the case?

LOHAN to suck mighty thruster as it goes off, in a shed


An alternative

What if you sealed the business end of the rocket inside a condom or balloon at sea level, thus ensuring the rocket was in an atmosphere of the correct pressure at ignition time? The rocket exhaust should very quickly burn through the balloon once it fires. The balloon would swell as it ascended into thinner air and I suppose explosive burstage might be an issue if not designed for, but those sound like surmountable challenges.

If your pressure test fails then maybe you could consider moving the mountain to Mohammad, as it were.

Hey Commentards! [This title is optional]


So that one's just for old time's sake then?

How to stay out of big trouble from little devices

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I got as far as Mary Meeker

...and gave up. The Reg is listening to her now?

Apple MacBook Pro 17in 2011


Yes, this

All the kit in my little bedroom studio uses firewire. USB audio gear doesn't really work properly (ie reliably at low latency.)

USB 3 may change this, but the music tech industry moves quite slowly. Firewire will stay for a while.

Netflix splits DVD, streaming offers in 60% price hike



I moved to the USA last year and the wife and I were shocked at the ridiculous price of cable TV. A basic package and internet (crappy contended 10mb) was over $150 a month, and I had a choice of exactly one provider. Cable TV here is dying. There is no doubt in my mind about that - the product stinks. Where the programming is good it's rendered almost unwatchable by deafening advertisments. Mostly, though, the standard is appallingly low. Why on earth would I choose to pay a fortune for a load of crap with the odd diamond in it when I can pay a fraction and only get the diamonds? The history of capitalism doesn't suggest a bright future for traditional TV.

So, I cut it off and now we stream everything. Time bastard Warner still get my money for internet (again, no choice) but it's a third of the price. Still too expensive for what we get - I had 20mb uncontended for £18 in London - but there you go. Since we started streaming we watch less TV in total, but we only watch stuff we want. Choice has gone up, hugely, and quality has gone up too. It's a genuinely entertaining and informative device now, rather than an expensive way to get shouted at by Billy Mays.

$8 a month for Netflix streaming and DVDs has been great for us. Mrs. gets her tripe on a plastic circle and I get quality nerd stuff any time I want. I'm not thrilled that they're doubling the price but it would have to go up twelvefold before it cost as much as we used to pay for an inferior service, so I'll grumble a bit now but I won't be cancelling.

Canuck ultralight pilot drops in on strip club


Sounds like a *real* pilot to me

"Climb inside her and take her to heaven and back three times a day. Woof!"

Parmo v poutine: The ultimate post-pub nosh deathmatch



It's a bit bloody complicated isn't it? I mean, you're not really supposed to leave the pub if you're still able to make such involved dishes. Is this the result of immersion in that European "cafe culture" we heard so much about when 24hr drinking was introduced in the UK a few years ago? Have you gone native, Lester? Very good work by your kids, though.

I tried to cook post-pub once. I wanted a pizza, so I stuck the oven on and put in a cold slice from the box in my fridge. I awoke on the kitchen floor at daybreak lying on a large, sharp knife with a cloud of cheesy smoke wafting overhead. The pizza was half the size and black. I ate it anyway.

Moderatrix kisses the Reg goodbye


Good luck!

You must have really been losing your mind with all the 'tard-wrangling if Silicon Roundabout counts as an escape.

May your options vest fully and your VCs visit rarely.

FBI fat-thumbs data centre raid


This is absolutely true and cannot be stated enough

For all the hype you have to remember that we are still talking about spinning magnetic disks in boxes on racks in buildings. Excepting a couple of giants, an individual "cloud provider" is achingly vulnerable today. The cloud is *not* a distributed storage/compute system, like the kind of global RAID the mainstream press imagine it to be; it is just a contract, an SLA and Someone Else's Problem.

Zuckerberg labels Ceglia lawsuit a 'brazen, outrageous fraud'



From a PR perspective it's not that perplexing. "Billionaire sues penniless wood salesman, seeks imprisonment" is not something Facebook would want to be associated with.

Billionaire Zuckerberg kills to eat



Good on him for this, but is anyone else worried that he's turning into Vladimir Putin?

Brit expats aghast as Denmark bans Marmite


Easy solution

Just go to Christiania. The hippies will have set up a dozen cafes selling Marmite on toast by now.

Use of Weapons declared best sci-fi film never made

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@Irish donkey - gateway books

Start with The Player of Games. It's a single story, rather than the epic space opera stuff in the larger books (Consider Phlebas etc.) but it's still very rich in detail. The concept is interesting and the story is brilliantly paced and plotted. I found it to be the perfect introduction.

Apple Digital AV Adapter



Did you try plugging in an HDMI to DVI adapter (like Apple's own, that comes with the Mac Mini)? You mentioned perhaps delivering presentations from an ipad. A DVI cable would be useful for this. VGA works too of course, but DVI is pretty widespread now.

For product demos, say, an ipad equipped with gotomypc or webex would make a back-friendly alternative to lugging around laptops to prospective customer's offices.

Wanted: Nude female web coders


Some kind of scam, or possibly scamola

This story's existence on the Reg is probably an elaborate punishment for Sarah Bee. "Forgot the donuts again? Right. Moderate THIS."

Scientists eye curvaceous Earth gravity map


Oops, sorry

Would edit if I could.

I'm even happier about it now if that helps.



Oh dear. No, my link most assuredly does not refute my point. My point, once again, is that people have, for a significant chunk of recorded history, believed in a flat earth, and consequently your assertion that nobody ever has is wrong.

I'll take you through it slowly, again. You wrote that it has "never been the case" that people believed in a flat earth. I provided you with an article with dozens of references suggesting otherwise. Somehow you take the fact that people worked out that the world was round a long time ago as evidence against my argument.

You then talk about "the ignorance of idiots" as if their ignorance somehow excluded their beliefs from your definition of 'people'. Are you really suggesting that Democritus was an 'ignorant idiot'? You may as well try to claim that it has 'never been the case that people believed in the Ether', since we now know it doesn't exist, or that people 'never believed in a geocentric universe'. Do you see how you are completely wrong here?

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Yep, it made me happier

We are finally living in the future. Cool blue ion drive spaceships that look like something from a video game.

NASA should send it* to map out the Tycho crater on the moon next.

(*Yes, I know this is impossible.)


Really? *Never* been the case?

Care to prove the negative?

Plenty of evidence against your point right here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_Earth

Yes, by Columbus's time it was well understood (at least in the West; the Chinese believed in a flat earth up until the 17th century), but certainly people in ancient times were quite sure that the world was flat.

If you're going to be pedantic at least try and be accurate.

Middle England chokes on Nice Baps


Nothing as English as seaside postcard innuendo

He should open up a tea room called 'The Buttered Muffin.' And a higher-class version up the posh end of town, 'Tasty Crumpet.'

Apple 'greed' tax spreads beyond music, movies, magazines



Capitalism always, but always, forces change when there is tension in the market. iOS has succeeded because there was tension between consumers who wanted easy-to-use multifunction phones and device manufacturers who were unable to provide it. Apple stepped in and resolved the tension, making a pile of money in the process.

iOS and the App Store ecosystem has worked well so far because there is little tension. Developers get apps to market without building a payment system, consumers buy them from one place, and apple takes a cut of first-sale revenue. Everyone more-or-less wins and the net effect is lots of people on iOS devices and lots of developers writing programs for them. They appear on tables in business meetings, in yummy mummy's handbags and schoolkids' satchels.

Now, with Apple demanding 30% of subscription revenue, there is new tension. It is not commercially viable for Salesforce to give up nearly a third of their subscription revenue to get an app on an iPad, just as it would be silly for a health club (suggested earlier) to do the same so that their clients can schedule training sessions from the bus. Without that key corporate SaaS app the businesswoman may be a bit less likely to buy herself an iPad to use at work and won't work as hard to make the case for her employer to kit out the sales team with iOS kit. If the policy stays the same then Apple will sell fewer iOS devices. It is inevitable.

This new tension creates an opportunity: for a competitor, in the long term and for Apple in the short term - if they listen and change. That subscription clause •will• change, but not because of pressure from enterprise SaaS, not from moaning gyms and especially not from little developers. It'll be because Apple see that they're on to a losing proposition. Many things are true about Apple, but they are not short-termists.

My guess? There will be some sort of primary service clause which removes the obligation to share subscription revenue when the majority of the value of the subscribed service is delivered outside of the iOS sphere.

Who are the biggest electric car liars - the BBC, or Tesla Motors?


You suggested it as a joke, I hope

In which case, you're a subversive green-parodying genius with a world-class baiting technique and I salute you.

If not, well, someone else can rip every horrible facet of your brain-dead idea apart. Maybe an engineer will come along to explain just exactly how inefficient... Oh I'll leave it, it really does have to be a joke, surely nobody could be that asinine. But just in case: why not rent a petrol car instead?



What you need in order to make electric cars widely useful is the ability to replenish their store of potential energy as quickly and conveniently as you can with a petrol car.

Rather than faffing around with odd polymers to get to a manageable two hour charge, what about using replaceable batteries built to a common standard? Drive up to the services, remove your depleted battery and swap it for a full one from the giant, high-amperage charging rack.

Ace Reg reporter in career suicide shock


Have you READ a DT comment thread?

They're even more soul-destroyingly awful than the incontinent rants on the Beeb's Have Your Say. This place is like the Oxford Union by comparison.

Anyway, Chris, good luck! Enjoy the beers.

US Navy achieves '100 mile' hypersonic railgun test shot


Might want to check your sums

It's over 2 minutes, assuming sea level mach number and constant velocity for the entire flight which it won't be.

To cover 200 miles in 3.15 seconds you'd need to be travelling at nearly Mach 300. Again, sea level.


Good spot

I think that's the motto of my local safety camera partnership.

This year's comedy Xmas No. 1 contender: Silent song 4'33"


I'm confused

I read the story and thought it was a nice, silly idea; a bit of cheerful whimsy on a cold Friday. Then I read all the comments and all the conflicting opinions have made me scared and tired. I've been at work for an hour and done nothing except think about the Christmas no. 1 in endless, excruciating, recursive fractal detail. I feel unpleasantly stoned. Worse, I don't know what to think at all now because I've got Surfing Bird and Make Me Smile going round and round my head.

The article was like a delicious plate of oysters infected with a comment thread of norovirus.

Facebook royal rant bishop suspended



Not much point having a day off on Saturday, is there?

ASA rules 'Bare T*Ts Project' ad offensive


He could have been a night shift worker

Doesn't have to be a chap who likes his cornflakes with a dollop of onanism.

Oh, and if we're doing this: Bone Her, featuring a climactic chariot^h^h^h^h^h^h^h wheelbarrow race (filmed at Walthamstow dog track.)

World's largest pilot union shuns full-body scanners



Security is a compromise. *If* these x-ray jobbies really are concentrating relatively high x-ray doses on the skin (I wouldn't know), then the trade seems flawed: it can't be right to subject tens of millions of passengers to a measurably increased chance of skin cancer in exchange for possibly detecting a threat to at most, say, five hundred on a single flight.

If indeed these things are lightly toasting the dermal layers then the occasional family holiday passenger may not be affected, but what of those of us who fly a lot for business? I get on a plane twice a month on average (which is nothing compared to some poor sods, never mind the pilots) but I'm absolutely not willing to risk a melanoma for a bonus.

At least there is still an opt-out. I'll take the pat down humiliation every single time.

Adobe Flash foils MacBook Air battery life



I have ClickToFlash installed. It is excellent. I see placeholders for all Flash content on the webpage, then if there is one I want to see, I click on it and it starts playing. Consequence is that pages load quickly, CPU usage is dramatically lower and nasty Flash ads don't intrude. I still see all the nice non-Flash ads on the Reg, of course.

MYSTERY of vanished PARIS spaceplane, playmonaut


Isn't this Vulture 1, here?


Bit of a trek from the ground car.

If not, what is that?

Apple threatens Java with death on the Mac



Presumably Apple were alarmed by that recently released study (as reported on the Reg) showing a large upswing in the usage of Macs in the enterprise. Killing Java is one sure way of arresting that 'alarming' trend; it ensures the platform will remain solely for home users.

As someone who, on *Wednesday*, signed a purchase order for five macbook pros for my team of Java-writing sales engineers I feel very, very stupid indeed. I cannot begin to imagine the look on my boss's face tomorrow.

Thanks a million, Jobs, you colossal arse.

Toshiba Satellite A660 16in laptop


For work

Widescreen laptops aren't ideal for business use really; every paper I write is usually taller than it is wide, so I end up wasting a ton of screen space (and battery) on useless white pixels containing no information. Same with coding.

A numeric keypad though, now that's useful. This could be a very workable compromise for people who spend all their time in spreadsheets.

Steve Jobs no ninja, says Apple


Of course it was fiction

Sorry to be really quite dull and adenoidal, but there is no airport security when you're flying on your own plane, which is just one of the many nice things about it. Customs yes, but no scanners, wands, pat-downs or queues.

I was rather hoping the imaginary airport security guard had said, "just mail them back. Not that big of a deal," but it was still an amusing story.