* Posts by Shoot Them Later

72 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Jun 2011


At last! Apple admits its MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards utterly suck, offers free replacements

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1982 called and wants its ZX Interface 1 and row of Microdrives off the side back.

I had the Interface 1, but only one microdrive. That was enough. I recall it slightly melted the underside of my Spectrum too, such was its monster power.

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[...] stop claiming a laptop with awful keyboard and needs a dongle to plug in a mouse or usb stick no proper USB ports is a “Pro” machine.

I know this is a matter of opinion, but I actually rather like the port strategy on the current MacBook Pro. It's clean and forward-looking. I carry a multiport dongle that has USB, HDMI, SD card & ethernet and just use that when needed. I have another dock on my desk that has a fuller range of ports and also provides power (which reminds me of when I used to use a docking station with my old Thinkpad, yet more convenient). But I know this is personal preference - all these adapters add £££ to the overall cost, and many people just find dongles annoying.

I'm not going to defend the shitty keyboards though.

Twitter: No big deal, but everyone needs to change their password

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Re: feh

My password is "correcthorsebatterystaple" because I read somewhere it has more entropy or something.

Heart of darkness: Inside the Osówka underground city

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Re: "A clear mandate for destroying the British economy, then."

I hereby announce the invention of the Farage Cage, a large metal structure that you can step inside to be shielded from all mentions of Brexit.

It works by applying 40,000 volts to its structure if anyone mentions Brexit. Very effective, and widely considered a preferable alternative to enduring another Brexit discussion.

Wondering why your internal .dev web app has stopped working?

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Generic TLDs were a shit idea when they were proposed, and they are a shit idea now. Plenty of people didn't stick their head in the sand, and complained - but we still have them. I think people are fully entitled to whinge about them as much as they want to.

IBM offloads Notes and Domino to India's HCL Technologies

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Postcard from the land that time forgot

"The deal with HCL is therefore not unwelcome, as it means a future for a product our source assumed did not have one."

If it means a future for a product that many of us wish would just crawl into a corner and die, then it's surely an unwelcome deal?

Let's also not forget IBM Verse - a mediocre cloud mail UI stuck on top of a seriously defective back end. Sure, I recognise that some people really do like Notes/Domino - predominently those who are paid to administer/develop or indeed sell it - but the users? Not so much.

Oracle staff report big layoffs across Solaris, SPARC teams

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"~ all", as in "approximately all." It's a geek thing, which is appropriate, don't you think?

I'm not sure I can support "~all" on geek grounds, because "approximately" implies that it could be either above or below. "More than all" doesn't make sense, so if you assume a normal distribution to the error implied by "~", then it's going to be impossible in 50% of cases. Perhaps "->all" would work better, or maybe "< all". Or perhaps just "nearly all".

Sorry, psycho bosses, it's not OK to keylog your employees

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Re: EPO not beholden to national laws

International organisations enjoy quite a lot of immunity from local laws of the host coutnry, and this generally includes employment law and being sued. Various embassies have also used this immunity to avoid repurcussions for unfair dismissal of locally engaged staff. Here's an interesting piece on what anyone entering into a contract with an international organisation should be aware of: Why contracting with an international organisation is different.

Here's the status of the EPO specifically. You can fire people as you like, but if you get caught speeding you will pay...

Bonkers call to boycott Raspberry Pi Foundation over 'gay agenda'

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Thumb Up

As Baldrickk notes, it's pretty clearly a rainbow flag as used to signify support for the LGBT+ community, and so was put in the picture by someone who wanted to convey that support rather than it happening to just be a rainbow on the page by chance.

I think it's a nice touch. Others may (validly) not see the point but not have a problem with it, while some others (such as the petitioner) go full-on hate outrage about it (boo hoo). But I don't get those who are saying "it's just a rainbow" - someone has clearly put the flag in the picture to convery a supportive message, in the same way that many businesses or organisations will fly or display the rainbow flag to convey support. Let's not pretend that it's not what it is (and what it is is a good thing).

Anyway, let's hope the petitioner hasn't visited the Pimoroni website: https://shop.pimoroni.com/products/pibow-for-raspberry-pi-3

IBM: ALL travel must be approved now, and shut up about the copter

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Re: Surely IBM are missing a sales opportunity here.

Rather than act on individual decisions, you could get Watson to decide whether the overall travel policy made sense. Not sure how senior management would then feel about being contradicted by Watson though.

Hell, just have Watson make all the decisions that senior management currently make. It can't be any worse or show less humanity...

Question: What's missing in Microsoft's data science professional degree?

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Re: Intensive

I am soooo glad that I'm not the only one sitting here thinking that.

Parliament takes axe to 2nd EU referendum petition

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Re: Anti-democratic?

To labour the analogy, the referendum is like asking people to chop off a leg without any clear idea what will replace it. One camp says that it will be the most magnificent bionic leg technology can create and will be a huge improvement on the one we have at the moment; the other camp says we'll be lucky to have a leg at all and will have to make do with a shitty stick while the stump goes slowly gangrenous. Now the vote has happened our friends in the EU are demanding that we need to saw it off without delay and certainly with no anaesthetic - oh and they might chop the other one off too. We can ask about what we'll be getting to replace it with, but only on the operating table as the surgeon hacks through the bone with a rusty saw that he's spat on for good measure. And the bionic leg lot are now saying that legs are overrated anyway and we're probably better off just sitting down.

If I were the patient (and unfortunately I am), I'd probably be asking for a second opinion....

UK needs comp sci grads, so why isn't it hiring them?

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Re: java was a bad idea

If they were mickey-mouse exercises, you'll have breezed through them in no time. So you're left at a university, with huge resources on tap, and loads of time on your hands. What did you do all day?

Ooh.. I can answer this one! ... Dicking about mostly. It was enormous fun at the time.

I'm going to add to the list of STEM graduates who are sniffy about CS degrees - I did Physics as a first degree and I'm convinced that a proper scientific (or engineering at a push :) degree is an excellent foundation for a great many technical careers. If you have the ability to master a science and the fundamental mental aptitude needed then you will be fine (the linked article is a great read btw, and explains much that I've seen and had to deal with in the wonderful world of technical employment).

More generally, I think it's perfectly fine (and should even be encouraged) to do a degree other than the specific field you end up earning a living in. Do something difficult, academically challenging, something that will open your horizons. Leave all that prosaic work-related stuff for actual work. The idea that a degree is nothing more than an extended vocational training programme is harmful. I'm not saying that you shouldn't care about the work your degree leads to, but I personally wouldn't want to work for an employer who insisted on some box-ticking must have a CS degree requirement that excluded others with good alternative STEM degrees (not saying that doing a CS degree is bad, but do it because you are into the science bit of CS rather than expecting it to be a step on the job conveyor belt)

SQL injection vuln found at Panama Papers firm Mossack Fonseca

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Re: Bandwidth ???

If it's mostly text, it would of course compress down pretty well. Depending on what sort of access I had to the target's servers, I might compress it locally and then transmit the compressed files. But when bragging about how much data I liberated, I would of course quote the uncompressed figure :)

Fake CEOs pilfer $2.3bn from US biz pockets in three years – Feds

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Fraudulent CEOs

There was me thinking that CEO fraud was what happend when the CEO drove the company into the ground by pursuing short term stock price gains so that they can walk away from the flaming crash with all their share options nicely vested.

Learn something new every day.

[Icon: in your coat, stealing your wallet]

Apple stuns world with Donald Trump iPhone

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Re: 4 year old phone design resuscitated

The iPhone 5/5S/SE case design is (IMHO) by far the most attractive of all iPhone case designs. Far more stylish than the rounded and bland 6 case design. I have both a 5S (old phone, now used for work) and 6S (bought to replace the 5S as personal phone) so have had plenty of time to compare the two. If I were buying a new iPhone now, it would be the SE hands down. If the iPhone 7 looks anything like the 6 design, then I probably won't be tempted to buy one.

IBM kills Hack A Hair Dryer women-in-tech vid after backlash

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Paris Hilton

Hello, IBMer here. There are an awful lot of things wrong with IBM, but it's attitude to women isn't one of them. The many female employees get treated with just the same respect as the men (for better or worse), there is a continual effort to promote diversity and equality within the company (very much including gender equality) as well as externally, and flexible working options help women with career progression that could be otherwise disadvantaged by family commitments that do still disproportionately affect women.

I honestly don't see the problem with this video in its wider context. Yes, we've seen some highly snarky (and amusing) comments from some very accomplished women, but I don't think the video was aimed at them. It was aimed at women who might not otherwise consider a career in STEM. It uses a fairly uncontroversial line: take everyday object X and hack it to do fun things Y & Z. I'd guess that a hairdryer was chosen on this occasion as the object because it turns out you can do some fun hacks with one, "hack a hairdryer" is a nice alliteration, and its an everyday object that many women will have and relate to. Unlike (say) a kitchen sink or hoover, a hairdryer doesn't have a negative connotation of domestic duties, it's just a thing that many women (and men) use. Certainly it's an object that is more associated with women than men, but is that really a problem in context? You might argue that hairdryers are connected with appearance, and we shouldn't be focusing on womens' appearance, but as others have pointed out, they are a practical object that enables a person with long hair to keep it clean and dry it so they can go and out and do something more interesting instead.

Personally, I think this can only offend someone who chooses to take it the wrong way, and there's not much we can do about them. IBM obviously thought it was best just to apologise, pull the vid and move on.

[What's the Paris angle? NONE AT ALL :)]

World's most frustrating televised Linux install just got more frustrating

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From the referenced page:

"if an operand resolves to the root directory, rm shall write a diagnostic message to standard error and do nothing more with such operands"

Which just goes to show that The Open Group have no sense of humour. Or maybe they do - perhaps they are just trolling people to go an test out if their system has a POSIX-compliant rm. I for one am certainly gullible enough to give it a go. Hold on...

The last post: Building your own mail server, part 1

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Re: Nice to See an Article About This

@Nigel - for me the decision between local/cloud is not really security, but getting a balance of performance & availability. Mail local to my home has best performance and availability for when I am at home, but considerably less so for when I am mobile. If I have my IMAP on AWS or similar, I have better availability and performance when I am mobile (I hope) but worse than when at home. Ideally I'd want a solution with two way replication of IMAP content, but on the other hand I want a solution that is simple and reliable. I think those might be mutually exclusive :)

@Vic - I agree with youur point about backup MX. In my case, my backup server is also Exim with the same spam configuration, and I use rsync to push whitelists and virtual domain lists to it from my main server. It works fairly well, although sometimes I get issues where the backup server has accepted mail that my main server later rejects, but this is handled relatively gracefully by Exim. I go for the backup MX route because I may from time to time turn off my whole home server for an extended period and I want to continue to accept mail. I have on occasion read the raw emails sitting in the mailqueue on my backup box while travelling. It's far from perfect, but works, in a clunky way, within my slightly odd parameters.

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Re: Nice to See an Article About This

I agree a very welcome article. Been doing this myself with a FreeBSD/Exim/Dovecot setup since before spam was really a problem (and I've since added SA-Exim to the mix for spamassassin integration). Talking of spam, I find that the DNS blocklists reject a lot of this, and it is also particularly nice that this technique rejects the message before delivery is accepted - meaning that you don't generate backscatter spam bounce messages for rejected traffic.

I would like to see some discussion about use of cloud though. My server lives at home, has a static IP and listens to the Internet on port 25. However, I also use an AWS-based server as backup MX (and also primary DNS) because there are occasions that I turn my home machine off for a while. My own issue though is reading email while away. I don't make my IMAP server available via the Internet, so if I am on the move, I generally have to VPN in to my network to read email (although I do also have Gmail for when I am mobile). I'm still not decided on whether to stick with this, open up a port for my local Dovecot to the Internet, or move the whole shebang to an AWS hosted image. It's an area where I'm always interested in what other people are doing and how well it works out for them.

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Re: in normal use, the load average is around 1.1.

I can see you're getting your coat, but maybe I'm not getting the joke. In case it's a serious question, here is a serious answer.

Apple fanbois cry (bless) as site motionless during iPhone 6S pre-order wrest

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Re: I promise I didnt laugh at this.

@Wizardofaus - yep, funny-ish. But the big message I take away from that video is that many people actually prefer a smaller form factor phone, and are happy with one that's a little thicker that maybe houses a half decent battery. So when people are presented with what they are told is the new iPhone, their positive comments on its dimensions are pretty relevant I think.

The other stuff - commenting that the display is so much crisper etc. - well, they are being asked to pontificate on a 'new' piece of tech they've been handed in the street. People have a natural tendency to say what they think they are expected to say in those circumstances. I'm all for laughing at people who do dumb things, but they've got to be properly dumb things.

Is Grant Shapps being naughty on Wikipedia – or did a Lib Dem stitch him up?

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Re: We can see the edit history and discussion.

I think this is the important point - there are only two plausible explanations for contribsx's actions in my view - either a deliberate fit-up of Schapps by a malicious third party, or Schapps or some other associate has actually been using that account for edits. Nothing else really makes sense.

Sure, the LibDems may have an axe to grind against Schapps, and it certainly seems like they have jumped on this one to cause him difficulty, possibly leaking stories and getting a not-so-independent-wikipedian to act. But that is very different from actively framing him for something he or his associates did not do.

When it comes down to the choice of whether contribsx is a Tory/Schapps sockpuppet or was it an elaborate framing by another party, then on balance of probabilities I would easly choose the former because Schapps has form in this area and (in my personal opinion) he is so untrustworthy that I don't really believe a word he says.

In the interests of balance I hope both Schapps and the LibDems get shafted at the forthcoming election.

Big Blue weeps as another 8% slips off its storage scales

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Sod Big Blue's storage slide...

Those are terrible charts.

Just because Excel lets you add a 3D-at-an-angle effect, doesn't mean you should actually use it, if you want to get information across in a useful manner.

Hilton, Marriott and co want permission to JAM guests' personal Wi-Fi

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Re: Hilton, Marriott et al market themselves to business travellers

We spent a night in a Four Seasons in the US on honeymoon. They wanted $7 for the (not very fancy) printed map of the local area that was left in the room (i.e it was a minibar item). There was no tea/coffee provided in the room, although you could of course order it on room service at suitably expensive prices. We were left wondering what you actually get for your greatly inflated room rate, given that the whole experience compared very poorly to the other (cheaper) hotels on the trip.

I won't even get on to their wifi cost, in a city with ubiquitous free coverage.

Upmarket hotels are money extraction machines, or at least they want to be.

Vodafone: For Pete's sake! Apple’s 'soft' SIM's JUST AN EE SIM

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Re: Sounds like Vodafone is unhappy

@BristolBachelor, I think you (and many others in this discussion) are missing a fundamental point here. Apple's 'soft' SIM is a physical card with the same form factor as a standard SIM, that is also software updateable for carrier selection. You can remove it and replace it with any SIM from any network and use that instead.

It adds the convenience of not having to acquire a physical card on day 1 with your new device, and as others have noted adds some interesting longer term potential, such as using software to swap between multiple carriers depending on circumstance without needing to juggle SIM cards. Because it is removable, and may be replaced with a bog standard SIM card, the consumer loses nothing here.

Now, if Apple then went a step further and changed the devices so that your only option was to use the soft sim, and baked that into their hardware in the same way they do with RAM in MacBooks now, then I would be the first to complain. And stop buying their devices.

London slaps down Salesforce's bid to rename Heron Tower

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Re: The naming rights of an edifice.........

@localzuk - "What if the company wished to change the name to Penis Tower? Would that be acceptable?"

It would certainly be a more accurate description of the general class of building and the reason for building it :)

[Mine's the one with the phallic symbol in the pocket]

MOST iPhone strokers SPURN iOS 8: iOS 7 'un-updatening' in 5...4...

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Re: 4S killer

I've just inherited my other half's 16Gb 4S as my work phone (in exchange for a nice new 6...). It works just fine with newly upgraded iOS 8. I've used the accessibility settings to turn off the additional motion in the UI - you should try that (http://support.apple.com/kb/HT5595). It compares favourably in speed to my previous work phone, an iPhone 4 running iOS 6.

Reg bloke zips through an iPHONE 6 queue from ZERO to 60 SECONDS

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Re: Oh, do report back on the experience

Many happy returns to your other half. So you can all join in the fun...

It was a surprisingly painless experience, if you ignore the severe wallet pain involved in buying a possibly ever so slightly overpriced iThing.

They have a special 'reservations' queue, next to the proper one (which is full of people who look suspiciously like they may be planning to sell their purchase on), which moves pretty fast, then they usher you to a Special area like the Special person you are and swiftly extract lots of money from you in the most cheery of manners. No whooping, high fives, fistbumps or whatever the young people do these days, but maybe they reserve those for the morning. Or for people who look in some way cool.

[Only one downvote so far for coming out on el Reg as a day 1 iPhone purchaser? Whatever are things coming to....?]

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Paris Hilton

I'm probably going to get some flak for admitting this in this place, but I have a reservation later today to buy an iPhone in a London Apple store during a 1 hour time slot (it's time to replace the other half's 4S, although she doesn't know this yet). I can't work out if I'm supposed to queue (to actually get in the shop, rather than having to queue just to experience the hype properly). On the first morning of pre-orders, I went to the apple store, chose to reserve for collection instead of delivery (mainly because I wasn't committed to actually buy it that way, as collection is not pay in advance), picked a model and time slot.

I've never done this before (bought an Apple product anywhere near launch day) so I don't know how it works - in a normal shop I'd just saunter in at the start of my slot, say I had a reservation and pay, but in the crazy world of Apple hype it surely can't be that simple.

I note that the reserve for collection option is no longer available so it was obviously a limited number of slots, which makes me hopeful.

Anyone actually done this?

[Paris to reflect my level of cluelessness, although she would obviously not have to queue for one. Or order one herself]

[Oh and don't be fooled by my attempts to appear above the Apple hype. I am obviously a total sucker for it]

Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

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Re: Sod the IT arguments

@Ross K - I think I understand about democracy a bit better than you in that case. Like it or not, the UK is one sovereign nation. Like it or not, no part of the UK - or any other country - has a right to secession without agreement from the state. The Scottish referendum is legal and valid *only* with assent from the UK government. I believe that the *UK* electorate should have had a say in that process; the common way this is done is by national parties putting it in their manifestos for the general election. That never happened - and there was no good reason for it not to, other than Cameron thinking that he could get away with a quick win and have it all done and dusted.

So yes, so much for democracy (see I can use bold text too) - my chance to have a say on the future make up of this country has been taken away by the current set of chancers in Westminster (ironically).

@A Twig - I'm not sure if you are aware of this, but there is a big difference between a sovereign nation assembled by treaty and an overseas territory (or in the case of India, the Raj). Oh and surprise surprise - self determination for India was in Labour's 1945 general election manifesto. Democracy, see?

This is an unpleasantly conducted debate. As I noted already, it seems impossible for a non-Scot to express opinion on this subject without flak/downvotes. I don't think I am the only one who is unhappy to have been denied a say in this process. I do believe that Scotland should be given the option of independence (even though I think it would be better for all if they stayed), but I also do believe quite strongly that the UK as a whole should not have been denied the right to participate in that decision. I am rather tied to the quaint idea that major constitutional change is something we should get to vote on. [Edited to add, yes of course the UK is a representative democracy, so there are always cases where the government legitimately makes decisions without consulting the electorate directly - however, major constitutional change should take the electorate's views a little more seriously than happened here]

The way the whole thing has been conducted has been a shambles. The only party who has done the right thing (to a degree) is the SNP who have done what they said they would and pushed for a referendum. I don't like the SNP at all, but at least they do what it says on the tin.

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Re: Sod the IT arguments

@Marketing Hack - agreed; Westminster does not like consciously giving up power, although they are somehow carelessly coming very close to giving up the whole of Scotland.

@Jagged - it's a good point. The farce that is elected Police and Crime Commissioners does admittedly come to mind when discussing regional assemblies and the potential for wasting a lot of money on something nobody cares about. However, I think we do need to address the issue that all home nations except England have devolved powers (and may have even more soon), while also bearing in mind that not all parts of England feel well represented by Westminster either. And I'm saying this as someone pretty much as Southern England/London as they come. I'm not sure I have an easy answer to that, but what I do believe is that the make-it-up-as-you-go-along planning constitutional gambles going on at the moment are not in anyone's interests.

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Re: Sod the IT arguments

@Pen-y-gors - I couldn't give a monkeys whether the SNP had a commitment to painting Scotland blue in their manifesto. The decision on whether to hold a legitimate referendum has always been one to take at the UK level. The UK government took that choice, but did not have a democratic mandate from the UK people to do so, as it was in no national party's manifesto at the last general election. I would much rather have had a say in the future of my country.

I'm expecting further downvotes for this posting too, as it seems to be a well established fact that the English are not permitted to hold a view on the future of the union for some reason.

Btw, the username Pen-y-gors suggests that you might be Welsh. If I were Welsh I would be wanting the Scots to vote No just as much, as I would not want to be stuck in an even-more-Tory remainder-UK after the Scots jumped ship.

[My personal preference is for a much more federal UK with matching proper powers for both the home nations and English regions; if that comes out of this referendum then at least that would be something]

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Re: Sod the IT arguments

You know, as a Briton who would rather like the UK to continue as is, I am really starting to regret casting my vote in the last UK General Election for a party that included an independence referendum for Scotland in its manifesto. What was I thinking?

Hold on... NONE OF THE PARTIES HAD THIS IN THEIR MANIFESTO. So much for democracy.

(New Labour has had many many faults, but at least give them the credit for including Devolution in their 1997 manifesto)

And don't get me started on letting Salmond choose the wording of the question, as well as the generally inept way the No campaign has gone about it.

Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch

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Re: Regulations, regulations, regulations...

@Michael Thibault - Presumably because they wanted it to be a surprise. FCC approval means submitting detailed documents. I understand that some can be restricted on commercial confidentiality grounds, but it raises risk of leaks and exposure. Similarly bulk manufacturing nowadays seemingly guarantees supply chain leaks - hence we will wait to 2015.

While the announcement of the watch was hardly unexpected, I think its appearance and functionality was kept well under wraps.

Applelutely fappulous: Fashionistas bow down before the JESUS PHONE

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@SuccessCase - "Let's say, for arguments sake, James Bond is cool. He is at the centre of a social effect for that reason. He has a number of people in his circle and they all agree he is cool. Some follow him about, some, may even be cool themselves and don't follow him about."

I don't know much about cool, but what I do know is that if James Bond has a bunch of fans who follow him about, he will need to get a new job.

[Mine's the one with a Walther PPK in the pocket and "I am a secret spy" written on the back in Comic Sans bold]

Microsoft eggheads publish JavaScript crypto code for devs

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I think that Jamie Zawinski can get away with doing his blog in b1ff if he so chooses, and he will still have more credibility than the average Reg commentard when it comes to complaining about ECMA stupidity.

DOCX disaster recovery: How I rescued my wife from XM-HELL

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Re: Which Office product is at fault?

Fine, Charlie Clark, I understand your reasoning for eschewing DOM - and let's face it, we've all built XML documents from strings from time to time. But that's not really my point - the case here is where a document has been written to disk that is not even well formed, let alone valid. Are people (and I'm looking at you, anonymous downvoters) really saying that it's too hard to check that the XML document that you've built is well formed at least before writing it? Really? This doesn't require DOM to do - there are faster ways to check that a document is valid and/or well formed.

Maybe I'm somehow unusual in this, but I would far prefer my office software to warn me that there was a problem (and give me the opportunity to cut and paste my work to a fresh document, or make a backup of the existing file) than to silently write an invalid file to disk.

I still maintain - and it shocks me that this seems to be somehow a controversial view - that there is no real excuse for a piece of released end user software writing XML files that are not even well formed.

Full disclosure: despite from time to time being obliged to interact with Lotus Symphony - which I have always found to be an unpleasant and unrewarding experience - I am by no means a hater of LibreOffice. I am also no lover of Microsoft (particularly Word for Mac 2011 with its fun habit of crashing when I try and paste formatted text).

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Re: Which Office product is at fault?

There is no real excuse for writing malformed XML to disk, bug or not. The only exception I'll give is an error in the actual writing process (such as unexpected truncation). There are plenty of good XML libraries out there which will (should) not screw up as described if used properly. It really is not hard at all to check that an XML document is both valid and well formed before writing it to disk, passing it off to the next hapless program or whatever it is you are doing with it.

It's this sort of basic laziness - failure to sanity check your inputs/outputs even when it's trivial to do so - that is an endless source of annoying and avoidable bugs. I'm not just singling out LibreOffice - I work for a company that writes an awful lot of software, and much more time than I would like is spent dealing with this sort of issue. (I can understand why it happens though - if sanity checking and general attention to detail doesn't win you many prizes in the feature-based development cycles, why bother...)

I'm not trying to defend MS either, or their formats - but whatever you say about them, an XML doc is an XML doc.

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Re: Which Office product is at fault?

LibreOffice is horribly at fault here, and it's inexcusable if the problem is as described. I mean, how does it construct its XML - string concatenation or something?? Any half decent programmer uses a DOM object of some sort to manipulate XML documents - these will not let you add an opening tag and 'forget' to close it; adding an element should be an atomic operation.

Aside from all that, what's to stop LibreOffice *parsing* the document before saving it, just to be sure. Maybe, I don't know, using some kind of published schema?

No excuse. Everything has bugs now and then, but committing unparseable XML to disk should not be one of them.

NeoPost: This is how you DON'T do PIN security

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Re: Why?

I'm absolutely with you Ledswinger, bar one detail... The basket case that you describe is now Royal Mail. The Post Office is the branch network, the bit that Gideon and Vince didn't flog off at well below market value to their banker mates.

You can tell what level priority 'Mail' has now for the Post Office by the fact that it appears at item 5 on the tabbed list on their home page, sandwiched between 'Broadband' and 'Driving'.

Time-rich Brit boffin demos DIY crazytech wolverine talons

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According to his website, he's originally a plumber by trade, rather than a common or garden boffin. I reckon I'd let him do the plumbing at my house, but I'd check the taps *very* carefully before turning them on. Just in case.

GM reveals how much you'll pay to turn your car into a rolling 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot

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Seeing the USA in their Chevrolet?

How about Seeing the USA with Chevy? [youtube link, not all that SFW with the volume up]

Although I think that one's actually a Ford.

Symantec: Antivirus is 'DEAD' – no longer 'a moneymaker'

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"- Those who refuse run anything by Microsoft. Macs and various Linux distros make this choice very, very easy now."

Sadly not entirely true. I am sitting writing this on our corporate Red Hat Linux platform which has... Symantec Antivirus bogging it down. What with the mandatory LUKS on the whole disk (and not just selected volumes containing data/swap) it makes for a mighty slow Linux environment.

So I'm sure Symantec still make plenty of money shipping their crap to very large companies that simply must run AV on *everything*, regardless of whether it is effective or necessary.

BT Tower to be replaced by 3D printed BT Tower

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Crowd source it

What they need to do is distribute the 3D printer files for a 30cm replica of the tower to the millions(?) of 3D printer-equipped people out there. They can then hold up their mini versions at just the right distance from their eyes that they appear the same size as the original in the distance. We can then demolish the original and replace it with something truly emblematic of modern Britain, such as a pound shop. True, only people with a mini tower to hand will be able to see it, but we could create some kind of app to allow sharing with people in your area (thus, Silicon Roundabout would get to make a truly useful contribution).

Comment inspired by the picture accompanying the article, which clearly shows how it would look in practice.

BlackBerry sucker-punches TV star Ryan Seacrest in patent brawl

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I hate to say it

BlackBerry have a point - the keyboard looks uncannily like the one on my old, abandoned, work BlackBerry Bold, down to the use of opposed curved ridges on each half of the keyboard. Whether this is a legitimately patentable design, I am no patent lawyer (thankfully) but I've seen lots more flimsy patents.

If one of BB's strengths is its keyboard, then perhaps they should be selling this sort of thing themselves already and let people use a genuine BB keyboard without having to put up with the rest of the BB. If only they had the spare cash to simply buy Typo.

Have to say though that the iPhone 5(s) form factor doesn't really lend itself to this type of add on - looks impossibly tall with it on.

MH370 airliner MYSTERY: The El Reg Pub/Dinner-party Guide

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Re: "The satellite would thus know to keep one of its receiving assemblies aligned..."

Having spent far too much time following the ever-expanding thread on PPRuNe, I found this a good summary. Some issues with it (like the purported alignment of receiving assemblies) but better than most media.

From my perspective, the big unanswered question about INMARSAT is what about the other pings? The distance from the satellite calculated from the final ping is being discussed, but what about the preceding ones. These would give us an indication if whether the plane was moving, and what approximate direction. You could use this information to infer whether the plane was likely to be in the southern or northern corridors for example, and it would certainly be useful to know if it had stopped moving with respect to the satellite. However, this information has not been given - and frustratingly journalists have not asked for it in the press conferences. It's entirely possible that only the last ping was retained by the system, but it would be good to know that.

I would also be interested in what level if detail the system recorded ping send/receive times. +/- 1 ms implies a particular level of accuracy, if this is greater or less then accuracy is changed, possibly significantly. I've not seen this reported anywhere.

With the conspiracy hat on, I find it amazing that no journalist in the press conferences has pressed for a cargo manifest. The only concrete statement made by the authorities is that "nothing hazardous" was on board. A very valuable cargo has not been ruled out. If there was nothing valuable on board, why not explicitly and unambiguously rule this out?

The standard of both questions and answers at the press conferences is terrible. Take the ACARS being allegedly switched off before the last voice transmission. Crucial point but turns out it was misleading; accurate version is that last ACARS transmission was *sent* before last voice contact. Actual ACARS disabling time may have been later. Bad communication of facts, and an equally bad failure to seek clarification from the journos present.

The whole thing is a masterclass in how not to run an investigation and handle the associate public relations. Unless of course [tin foil hat!] it is all an act of pretend incompetence :)

Windows hits the skids, Mac OS X on the rise

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Re: @Matt "sorry, I dropped FreeBSD when ZFS was forced on us"

Strange - I have several FreeBSD systems running 8/9 and none of them has an unwanted ZFS filesystem. Sure they *support* ZFS, but there's a world of difference there. I'm sure anyone who really hates ZFS could build a custom kernel and omit the ZFS module.

I'm all for complaining about unwanted changes to software/operating systems, but to whinge about something entirely optional seems a bit OTT to me. Reminds me of the grumbling that occurred when the SMP support was first mooted (IIRC)

SCRAP the TELLY TAX? Ancient BBC Time Lords mull Beeb's future

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Re: BBC should adopt an airlines business model

Well that's fine if you want to do what airlines have been doing lately - namely racing to the bottom.

The BBC have already been moving in that direction - take the sale of BBC Outside Broadcast to SIS in 2008. Was supposed to save money, but of course it didn't. SIS Live are now getting out of the OB game because the BBC didn't renew their contract (because SIS Live turned out to be both expensive and inferior to the old in-house operation). Now lots of ex-BBC OB staff - techies, not managers - are likely to be out of a job, the BBC has no high quality in-house OB like it used to and no money has been saved.

And how does BBC R&D fit in with the airline model? Obviously, it doesn't.

I'm sorry, but I want my BBC to be like a proper airline that serves free meals and will give you that extra bottle of wine with your chicken/beef with a cheery smile, and not like Ryanair. If that's not stretching your analogy too far.

I completely agree that swathes of overpaid middle management and overpaid "talent" are a problem, I just don't think that outsourcing everything is a solution.

'No, I CAN'T write code myself,' admits woman in charge of teaching our kids to code

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Re: Idiocracy

You can tell it's ridiculous simply from the fact that the 'director' of this initiative has the temerity to go on Newsnight to tell Paxman that "you can create a web site in an hour", but has not personally invested that hour to try it herself [and shame on Paxo for not picking her up on this].

It's bad enough that an obvious inexperienced political crony gets appointed to this sort of position, but I would have been prepared to cut her an awful lot more slack if she'd come on and said "I'm a non-technical person with no experience of coding, but I tried some of this stuff and I learned something - and I am enthusiastic about helping other people go through the same learning journey" [or something along those lines].

The problem isn't really just having people with no domain experience in charge of projects, it's also with having people in charge who won't eat their own dog food. But that's the political class for you.