* Posts by ovation1357

138 posts • joined 27 Jan 2012


Venerable text editor GNU Nano reaches version 5.0 and adds the modern frippery that is scrollbars

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Let me get this straight.... You have the technical ability to compile this whole simplified editor from source and you've chosen to do this instead of just using vi?

Only EU can help us, pleads Slack as it slings competition complaint against Microsoft Teams

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I would very much love to see Slack win this case. It's absolutely the typical kind of abominable behaviour that we've seen from Microsoft in the past..

I know folks who think Teams is utterly brilliant but in my experience it's a terrible piece of software - a poor clone of superior products like Slack and Zoom.

Personally I've been using Slack for about 3 years and I've found it to be well polished and pretty nice to use. I've certainly had none of the problems commented above about attaching images or documents - that works as smoothly as everything else. I'm on the free tier and used 1-to-1 video calling for the first time the other day which was so seamless and good that I've used it a few times since. The chat in Teams is nothing more than a cheap knock-off copy of Slack - it can't even handle basic word-wrapping and it's code blocks look horrible. It also can't handle connection problems gracefully - if for whatever reason a message fails to send then it not only doesn't automatically retry but it also may never succeed using the retry button unless you delete the whole message and write it again. If it decides you've got not internet connection then you have to kill the whole application and restart it to get back 'online'.

For video conferencing Zoom is king and it knocks the spots off of Teams in terms of reliability, quality and really flexible screen sharing. Not only does Teams still have very limited display options for multiple participants but it suffers badly from dropouts, and very laggy/spongy screen sharing and remote control.

It's still got an infuriating bug where the mute button gets out of sync with an official "Teams" USB headset and shows you as unmuted when you're actually muted or simply won't unmute at all - I've had numerous calls when everyone's shouting "you're on mute!" at me (or some other poor sod), and I am / they are pressing the effin' button with no effect :-(

It seemingly can't even handle scheduling properly - I had a connectivity issue the other day which first meant 3 that I had to lose my pending changes twice whilst restarting it but then when I 'successfully' scheduled the meeting I discovered the next day that it had randomly done it in a different timezone so my participants thought it was an hour later than I'd scheduled... I just simply don't have any of these problems with other software.

So I sincerely hope that Microsoft are forced to unbundle this horrible piece of junkware by the EU courts so there's at least a chance that companies can discover that there are superior products out there; AND that there is nothing wrong with using separate applications if they're all excellent at their function when compared to a single 'integrated' tool which does everything badly.

The only positive thing I can say about Teams is that it has a Linux client (which ironically works better than the Windows one) although Slack and Zoom also have native Linux clients. This at least gives me a little bit more flexibility and control when I have to use it.

Apple was the only Fortune 50 company to foresee COVID-19 pandemic risk and properly insure against it – Forrester

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Finally there's an explanation for Apple's crazy, inflated prices. Their kit isn't just a shiny, over-priced fashion accessory after all: The consumers are actually picking up the cost of this pandemic insurance.

I'm sure this knowledge will be of great comfort to some of the fans :-D

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Re: Things we can prevent and things we can't

"and probably destroyed doggerland"

That was surely an act of God to smite the people of doggerland who insisted on meeting up in car parks after dark for anonymous sexual gratification.

Companies toiling away the most on LibreOffice code complain ecosystem is 'beyond utterly broken'

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Re: This is grim

Yes of course is will run but unless I'm mistaken, they still use GTK under KDE and therefore it will still have the GNOME look and feel - i.e. by the time we get to GTK4 the CSD will be mandatory and it's gonna look the same under KDE and probably even under Windows :-(

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Re: This is grim

The GNOME team even ran a little crusade (and I use that word precisely because they're almost religious in their belief that CSD is the one true way) to pressure developers into changing their applications to ditch the title bar. It seems to have been moderately successful...


But so blinkered were they in their own little world view that the idea of end-user choice went out of the window and I don't they they gave a moment's thought that this poison was going to spread to any environments that use GTK3 (even the latest Firefox on Windows suffers from this abomination, nor to the backlash that it starting to happen by furious XFCE, MATE users plus other many other desktops too.

There's actually a security argument against the CSD as well - there's a very deliberate reason that the title bar is controlled by the window manager and not by the application and that is to guarantee clear containment and separation between applications. In 'labelled' security environments such as Solaris with TX (Trusted eXtensions) the title bar is used to denote the classification of the application such as Secret or Restricted. Letting the applications decide on the decoration isn't going to roll in those environments.

A neutral party could look at my argument and accuse me if being similarly religious in my belief that GNOME has got this seriously wrong. But my stand point isn't that CSD is wrong necessarily, but that it's far better suited to touch screens and I want to see users given a choice in the matter. There's no way it's that difficult to create a menu system which can be written once and then rendered as either title bar plus classic menu bar or as a CSD based on a user's preference. This solution would please everybody, and I think it would stand a better chance of achieving wider adoption as developers and users would be less likely to push back against it.

I like the idea of the STLWRT project but I think it's ambitious and might prove almost impossible to reliably take a CSD menu structure and reformat it into a classic menu without per-application templates to help. It'll be very interesting to see how it turns out as it's so alpha right now that the author says it doesn't even compile right now.

I've not yet had a chance to look at XFCE Classic but I guess that's going to be dependent upon forking and thus maintaining a small subset of applications which still may not cover those needed/wanted by other desktops. This also creates yet more fragmentation in the Linux space which isn't really desirable.

Both of the above solutions are really just the proverbial sticking plaster (bandaid).

The only real way out of this is for GNOME to have a change of heart and agree to support a configurable choice of Classic or CSD mode and to ensure that all GTK applications are encouraged to include the necessary support for both modes - something that will really piss some developers off who have already spent a load of time rewriting their app and throwing away the legacy menus to become CSD-only.

This is why it's genuinely such a major problem and why it's such a shitty problem. The only way out is four GNOME to change their policy and that seems an extremely unlikely outcome.

Or the whole application ecosystem could rebel and use a GTK fork or other alternative but that's even less likely!

So sadly, CSD isn't likely to be going away any time soon although I'm not going to give up fighting just yet. There's time yet for me to become a KDE convert however there seems to be a distinct absence of decent Qt based web browsers so I'd still be stuck using Firefox or Chrome on GTK :'(

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Ribbon (ʘᗩʘ) No way!?

Please tell me that it's configurable and can be turned off?

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Yes, the mention of a UI change scares me too.

A while back LO began shipping with a 'modern' theme with colourless, abstract, conceptual icons on the menu bar (as has also happened with others like Gimp) - fortunately the developers had the foresight go to allow the use of a 'classic' theme which I immediately enabled.

I'm not only hitting this same problem with other software such as the truly excellent Remmina remote desktop client, which has done largely the same thing but without options to change the theme :-(

My biggest UI battle right now is a massive one: GNOME 3 (GTK3+) has lost the plot and gone for bastardised title bars with embedded buttons, hamburger menus and 'popovers' in place of contextual menus which behave much like the menus on a smart phone i.e. you select sub-menus and have to use a back button if you make the wrong choice; as opposed to mouse-friendly context menus with sub-menus opening to the side when you hover....

It's a 'touch-friendly' but anti-mouse mess and unfortunately this horror is creeping into any applications written using GTK (e.g. Firefox and Thunderbird) but even worse - it's creeping into desktop environments like XFCE and MATE - the very desktops people like me switched to to get away from all the UI craziness that happened in Windows TIFKAM, Unity and Gnome :-(

There's an open feature request for LibreOffice to support the GNOME CSD which could result in LO being its own UI too. So far they seem to be resisting but later versions of GTK might force their had. It's a disaster.

I'm going to have to install LO 7rc1 to check they haven't done anything horrendous to it

Soft press keys for locked-down devs: Three new models of old school 60-key Happy Hacking 'board out next month

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Re: Alternatives?

I was scouring eBay the other day looking for a either a USB type 6 or 7 Sun keyboard with a UK layout and they were sadly few and far between :-(

Absolutely fantastic keyboards! I really miss mine and although I've just bought a copy of gaming keyboards to try, I may yet go back for a Sun one if I can get it.

P.S. Regarding the position of capslock and control I believe you can use the dip switches at the back of the keyboard too choose which way around they are.

Mars InSight to stretch its arm and look around as mole-mashing ops are paused

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I’m zorry. Ze Mole is grounded. He can’t come out and play...

He zaid very naughty things about God.

.NET Core: Still a Microsoft platform thing despite more than five years open source

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Re: The problem is the tools

My last experience of monodevelop was a couple of years ago when I happened upon some code I wrote about five years ago and decided to see if it still worked. From what I could tell, monodevelop hadn't changed an awful lot (my code worked first time by the way). It was a bit basic and clunky and certainly not a patch on Visual Studio, which, for all its warts was certainly the best (if not the only other) to in which to develop using C#.

This is one particular issue I see as being quite prominent in the wider uptake of C#. Whilst other languages like Java benefit for a wide choice of good quality multi-platform IDEs such as IntelliJ, Eclipse and NetBeans. I'm not aware of anything that's geared up for C#. There's ReSharper but I don't believe that it's actually an IDE, just an analysis/optimisation tool.

I know there's lots of folks talking about developing on Windows and deploying to Linux - fine, but I don't think it's healthy to be tied to VS with its hefty price tag, and even if VS Code improves support as noted in the main article; that's still a Microsoft product - where's the competition?

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Re: What's up with non-.NET developers thinking?

My first C# (C-sharp) project was a mini ASN.1 DER decoder which i wrote using Mono in the Mono Develop IDE on Linux. It worked fine and also ran on Windows without any need to modify or recompile.

To write in C# was actually fairly pleasant on the whole and I later wrote a whole load of stuff using Visual Studio on Windows including a wrapper around an antique C API with large, complex positional fixed-length strings (well char[] - you know... No 'strings' in C), a reasonably complex interaction with LDAP, and an implementation of a propriety binary display protocol...

The async...await pattern worked really well and allowed me to produce what was, in essence, a highly scalable and very quick search engine of sorts.

Sadly the LDAP class I was using hadn't been implemented in Mono else I think it would have happily run on Linux under Mono.

When I moved on to a Java project I suddenly realised that C# can be summarised as 'like Java but generally nicer'.

These days I work in a Java shop and there's no interest in doing anything with .NET - I'd happily use it again and it is pretty much the only Microsoft branded thing I've ever been known to say is 'good' Vs my normal expletive-ridden rants about how terrible I find just about everything else from MS.

I'd be interested to see how things have progressed since I used it about 5 years ago. A lot has happened: for starters .NET core became a thing.

Personally I felt the one thing that was really missing back then was any kind of cross platform GUI toolkit.

Utilitarian, long-bodied Nokia 5.3 has budget basic specs - but it does cost £150

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In my experience the banks (at least here in the UK) seem to be generally protective towards the end users - I'm sure there will be cases where they weren't but the general story seems to be positive.

In the days of magnetic strip and a signature along with no CVV codes it was stupidly easy for a criminal to Clone your card and forge your signature. Back in the days of BBSes there were loads of credit card number generators too. Card fraud was rife and damn-right the onus had to be on the bank.

With the advent of chip and PIN you've got a pretty secure chip that's extremely hard to clone plus an extra factor in the form of your PIN. I don't mind that there's an 'onus' on me to protect my PIN. There was a case I believe, of people 'cloning' chip and PIN cards at a shop which was using a tampered-with terminal to capture people's PINs. I grant that the victims could have had to fight through an initial wall is disbelief from their banks by eventually it was investigated, the perpetrators arrested and the victims refunded. If it happened to me I'd be annoyed but I'd persevere until it was resolved.

With contactless I can only do a maximum of 4 transactions of up to £45 before requiring the PIN. So if lose my card or its stolen then the I could find myself up to £180 lighter off. In the few cases I've heard of, the banks have immediately refunded any money taken (I believe there's a consumer protection scheme which means they have to in most cases). In the worst case they don't refund me and I'm a bit sad, but it's not a life-changing loss.

I'll take the risks in exchange for the convenience

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"the indestructible 3310"

But let's not forget about the tiny 8210 which would explode into a self-assembly kit if dropped...

Way back when Panasonic made phones in the UK and I was working for them I happened to be around when one of the testers was doing a fairly scientific 'drop test' of a new Panasonic phone whilst using a Nokia 8210 and possibly a couple of other competitive products as a kind of control/comparison sample.

The rig consisted of a tiny platform, hinged on one side and latched on the other, about 1.5m high on which you'd lay a phone. Then a release button was pressed which would cause the platform to swing down and let the phone drop onto a concrete block below.

The next stage of the test was to examine the phone, note anything visibly broken, turn it on and make a test call.

The tester had to do this for something like 100 iterations.

Every time this guy dropped the Nokia 8210 it would explode - the whole case fell into several bits, the battery would go flying and I think even the keypad was detachable. So he'd have to go around collecting up all the bits from around him, reassemble and repeat the test...

Needless to say I don't think the 8210 made it through that test alive.

And you thought your job was mundane!

Not sure I'd fancy that kind of testing on many smartphones. Sure they might not fall to bits but screens these days are so much bigger and less forgiving.

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"Contactless payments are generally for the benefit of the payment providers, not the users"

Really? As someone who's never been keen on carrying cash around I think contactless is a huge benefit to me as a user. Get to the till... Time to pay... <Beep>... Done..

I get the occasional spot check where I have to enter my PIN, or a rare day where I exceed the maximum number of transactions. But it's hugely convenient to be for all my typical daily transactions. No cash, no need to touch the machine, no waiting for the typically slower PIN authentication to come through, (usually) no waste of paper card receipt unless I ask for one or the retailer still doesn't understand that contactless doesn't print a customer copy and duplicates the merchant copy for me without asking.

Contactless using a card is a big step forward in my view. However NFC on a phone is something mine supports but I've never felt the urge to use

I believe that I could use my phone to do preauthorized contactless payments for much larger sums like my weekly shopping or a new TV but then the debit card with chip and PIN just feels much simpler than having to unlock my phone, launch an app and then go through 2FA (or MFA).

LibreOffice community protests at promotion of paid-for editions, board says: 'LibreOffice will always be free software'

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But to also be fair, there are plenty of examples of closed source software which has release notes that range from nonexistent to unhelpfully vague to gibberish to well written and clear.

And likewise I'm sure the is plenty of FOSS where the release notes are excellent and actually the source code management (structure, commenting, documentation, version control) is also excellent.

There's going to be a whole tonne of examples of hidden away behind closed doors of commercial code that's sold to clients at a high price and yet is very badly managed. There's going to be places where they've never even heard of version control, others where they use something but it's an unmanaged free-for-all so it's a huge mess, perhaps lots of bullshit commit messages and untidy merges; perhaps the devs all merge into the master (or equivalent) branch directly... They may also be using very outdated and insecure tools and coding practices...

But you'll never know because all you get is the final build.

I pick up something akin to 'code smells' even from software where I can't inspect the code. Often this is very expensive specialist software and it's of the worst quality... At least with FOSS one can take a look (or pay an expert to take a look) at the code and how it's put together. A seasoned developer will be able to quickly get an impression of whether it's software to embrace or to run away from.

While FOSS may be free to use and 'unsupported' and Closed/Paid/Commercial may be 'expensive': neither factor alone gives any guarantee as to the quality of what you're buying.

The worst bit is that in the commercial world, many providers of highly expensive software seem to get away with it being bug-ridden and poor quality. Somehow they don't often get taken to task over it, nor does the reputation seem to put off new clients. That always makes me a bit sad.

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Re: This has been handled badly, but it's not beyond hope.

Honesty and Microsoft is an oxymoron.

Yes they may well invest in development and charge for their product but they've been playing dirty tricks for years; from using secret internal Windows APIs to outperform and/or break the competition, to inventing their own dog's dinner of binary blobs wrapped in XML and calling it an 'Open' format as a direct attack against the Open Document format that they could have embraced instead.

Microsoft has and always will go to great lengths to protect their market dominance and it don't care too much about who gets hurt in the process.

N.B. There were similar shenanigans in DOS where they are reported to have changed things just enough to ensure that a competitors product wouldn't work

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I'm glad I checked the comment before posting the exact same thing! Good job!

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Re: MS Works

Are you kidding? Works was that pile of junk that got bundled with consumer PCs which was pretty limited in functionality but worst of all had a proprietary file format that could only be read by itself. I seem to recall that you couldn't export files in any useful interchange format.

I for one am very glad it's gone.

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Re: Such short memories

Let's not forget that Open Office was born from Star Office (hence the main executable is still called 'soffice' on Libre and OO). I believe that Sun acquired it but certainly when I was at Sun it was their main office product offering and we all used it on our Solaris workstations.

I'm pretty sure that back then it was a commercial product. I think it was cheap (maybe around £15 per user) but not free. I also seem to recall that we did have paid-up 'enterprise' users as well.

It's interesting that something which began as closed source, commercial software and became open and free is now considering some commercial features once again

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Re: "Or another fork?"

Possibly still a tad more PC than a version in a very old children's piano book of mine where it's 10 little N-word boys {grimacing emoji}

I think in todays parlance neither is acceptable.

How about "ten little programmers" instead :-)

Hundreds of forgotten corners of mega-corp websites fall into the hands of spammers and malware slingers

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Re: Xerox

P.S. I wonder what the 'photo stats' are like on this subdomain.

Things can't go on like this. You need to get fit for the sake of your health. I'm going to write you a prescription for... an e-bike

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Re: e-Bike gum?

Bike-eck lad! That's a baddun.

When a deleted primary device file only takes 20 mins out of your maintenance window, but a whole year off your lifespan

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I rember trying to use fsdb - not only did it come with a massive "here be dragons" warning but it also needed the user to have an intimate knowledge of the internal workings of UFS. Certainly not for the faint-hearted! :-/

I certainly share the concern about the approach of deliberately crashing the system - it could very well have caused more problems that it solved. I'm going to guess that this was a farily early version of Solaris as the later versions (starting from Solaris 8 I think) had Journalling enabled which in essence meant that it would have logged the file deletion and automatically committed it on boot after the crash.

Later versions of Solaris included the 'pfiles' command which could be used in a similar way to 'lsof' (which was considered a Liunx tool and only available as an unsupported extra on the Sun Freeware CD)..

A tricky problem here for sure, and one which I think we're all experienced in our careers.

Capita, Fujitsu and pals tuck into slices of £3bn London NHS framework

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Re: Cloud ??


"No or low cost" - are you kidding? The cloud is expensive. Probably a lot cheaper than the kind of pricing involved in this deal, but not cheap and certainly not free.

The other factor is that directly using these cloud services is apparently too complex so a contract gets awarded to a 'partner' organisation which will manage all the cloud infrastructure. So they're not just paying for the vehicle but also for the private chauffeur.

It's all depressingly wasteful.

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They already tried this, spaffed billions up the wall and then largely abandoned it.

It was the NHS "Spine" project: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/sep/18/nhs-records-system-10bn

I believe there are bits of spine that were delivered but I'm fairly sure it originally had the goal of becoming a single, national database of patient records but never got there.

Analogue radio given 10-year stay of execution as the UK U-turns on DAB digital future

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Fair point, and true about Freeview and the basic channels.

I don't recall being able to assign 1-5 to the standard channels on Sky though.

We don't have an Ariel and the old sky feed comes in to what is now the dining room so we're 100% internet TV. About the only time we ever watch live TV is at New Year or the news if there's a really major event... So day to day is mainly all on-demand, however that's where it gets into needing a separate app for every single channel, each with a separate log in and each working a bit differently. Even on a TV with iPlayer built in there's no way to attribute 1 to BBC one and so forth - wanna watch BBC, well press the home menu, navigate to the iPlayer icon, wait for it to load, scroll along the top to Channels, scroll along the channel list to the desired channel and finally select the watch now button. This could all work so much more smoothly if the providers collaborated on allowing a single, consistent interface for accessing their content which could also be more tightly integrated with the TV itself.

For now I'm extremely pleased with my £30 Roku streaming stick and a combo of Netflix, NowTV and Prime although it definitely suffers from some of the above problems and it would be great not to need 3 subscriptions to be able to cover off all the series we want to watch.

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I've tried a few DAB radios. Never really been impressed. I think a particular failure, which certainly extends into TV as well it's that it's too fiddly to operate... With AM/FM you just twiddle the knob and find the next station (okay, so modern radios may have scan buttons and some station presets) but with the DAB radios I've used you have to navigate around a menu to find the stations and there's hundreds of the damn things. It's just overcomplicated.

I make the point about TV for similar reasons - when anyone over about 35 was growing up they just had a few simple buttons to switch TV channels. Even with early Sky TV it was still pretty simple to use.

Now all our TVs have hundreds of channels and a complex menu/schedule system but absolutely no standard way of just going straight to the few main channels. It's even worse when dealing with all the different platforms because each one does its own thing.

I don't have any technical trouble navigating these things although I do get aggrieved that I've had to press 15 buttons to get back to whichever series I'm watching, but I also feel a bit sad for much older people who (in general) must find this very daunting and quite inaccessible.

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"It did sound decent, but died after a couple of months"

Well that's what you get for buying anything from Sony. I know there's loads of folks that love 'em but I've had nothing but bad experience with Sony stuff ranging from MiniDisc, HiFi, TVs to Mobile phones. In fact I swore I'd never buy another Sony product ever again and then reneged on that some years later when I got tempted by an Xperia phone which turned out to be a disaster and which ultimately died very terminally on me very suddenly, and not until it had cleared a whole month when its cloud backups were silently failing so I also lost some vital notes and photos.

I'm now 100% definitely never going to buy anything made by Sony ever again :-(

Your point about the terrible battery life of portable DAB isn't something we can blame Sony for (or can we?) but it is certainly one of the many reasons why it didn't take off any why you don't get it embedded into mobile phones though.

LibreOffice slips out another 7.0 beta: Spreadsheets close gap with Excel while macOS users treated to new icons

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Re: Part the Second

Part the third (kind of)...

Thanks for taking to time to put back polite, well reasoned replies - if only all other users could be so professional.

You're absolutely right that I haven't encountered the kind of problems you're describing. When I've got some data to analyse I tend not to reach for a spreadsheet in the first part - depending on the problem I'm solving I might write a script, a bit of code, do some hacking about in vim or even import it into a temporary MySQL table where I can very quickly produce what I'm after. For me, spreadsheets are a last resort.

I was doing my accounting in a spreadsheet but that was too clunky. Now I use an accounting package which is much better. I think in many cases people reach for a spreadsheet as it's generic and handy even though the task they're trying to do would be handled much better in a more specific application.

Your example of =SUM(A:A * B:B) is quite an interesting one and I grant you that it both looks quite useful and also doesn't appear to work as-is in LibreOffice Calc right now. However my point is really that in any organisation the default is usually for all staff to have a copy of MS Office which comes at an enormous license cost and yet probably 90% of those users will never step beyond the current capabilities of LibreOffice, so why not save a small fortune on MS Licenses - encourage users to adapt to LO and make it the corporate default and then just buy a handful of MS Office licenses for the users who actually need its features?

The ability to create an all-powerful super formula in a single cell is cool in one hand but sounds like it's also dangerously stepping into the territory of the intelligible Perl one-liner :-\

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Large spreadsheets

Not so long ago I encountered an error opening a spreadsheet in Calc that it had too many columns (I think!).

Although in my case it turned out that the sheet contents didn't really extend beyond a much smaller count and it actually worked fine, that didn't stop me googling the error.

It turns out that there is a fairly long-standing RFE against Calc about this limitation which they've been actively working on over a couple of years - I think this is related to the experimental large sheet support referenced in the article.

IIRC as well as the column number being stored in too few bits to grown beyond something like 16k there was also a whole tonne of refactoring required to adopt a bigger number as well as rearchitecting the memory allocation such that it doesn't try to load the entire massive sheet into RAM all at once.

It's really great that the LibreOffice team are still putting really significant effort into making it a better product.

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This is massively disingenuous. LO fares pretty well against both Word and Excel, possibly not so much against PowerPoint because Impress is definitely behind. But then having just had to fight with genuine PowerPoint corrupting files and crashing today, I'm not convinced it's really worth it for the flash animations.

I've worked on some fairly hefty technical documents in both Word and 'Writer' and I had far more limitations and problems with Word - random formatting that would result in having to delete a whole section or page and recreate its contents, and crashes/corruption when dealing with heavily commented files under change tracking. I don't think Writer ever crashed on me and it gave me minimal grief.

Unfortunately, docx file compatibly problems meant I had to use Word when everyone else was but I'd happily binned it for Writer in a flash.

Excel is a different kettle of fish - I don't think anyone disputes that it's got more features than Calc but all of the core functionality is there in Calc - even pivot tables. There's nothing your average Excel user wouldn't be able to do just as well in Calc.

For me, a massive bonus of LibreOffice is that I don't have to use the Ribbon interface. For me it is miles easier to find everything I need from the menu bar.

If there was just one feature from MS Office that I'd like to see in LO it would be the Font selector from Word which not only shows an example of the Font but will temporarily change your highlighted text to the font you're hovering over as a kind of live preview.

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Sadly I have to agree although I blame Microsoft for the compatibility problems owing to their hideous non-open 'open' file format and their combined refusal to take ODF standards remotely seriously.

I use LibreOffice 99%+ of the time now but just occasionally I have to fire up Office 2010 to open a document or spreadsheet which LO can't quite handle - this is usually either because of wanky formatting and/or Visual Basic Macros.

However on the subject of Access I'd say that no matter how 'well' it works - it really isn't geared up to sharing a 'database' beyond its creator and I personally think it should be shot in the head because of the fact that it's just easy enough to use that people go creating 'useful' databases which quickly turn from being a pet project into something critical data in it - scale that out to a whole load of like-minded end users all creating their own little pet databases and you end up with a big problem of lots of vital information being holed-up in undocumented, uncontrolled and potentially un-backed-up, fragmented databases across an organisation many of which will have become bespoke applications with custom forms and a Mickey mouse front end UI..

Nope, I say let's kill Access with fire and encourage people to seek a proper solution to their problems.

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Re: Any news of a Libre_mail client

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't Evolution only for 'Unix-like' operating systems - i.e. not Windows.

Personally I never got on with it and I'm a huge fan of Thunderbird which is, to me at least, the holy grail of mail clients. Sadly it doesn't have native support for Exchange but I have previously used it with great success using the non-free but very cheap Exquilla plugin.

I'm currently stuck on Windows 10 with Outlook 2016 at work and I'd jump at the chance to use Evolution instead (I've already tried Thunderbird but with no joy because of GPOs and general lockdown)

Never knowingly under-digitally transformed: Retailer John Lewis outsources tech function to Wipro

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And if you believe that...

Wipro will ensure the group always has "access to up-to-date stagnant technologies and specialist expertise the cheapest, least experienced offshore workforce."

There: Fixed it! :-(

When one open-source package riddled with vulns pulls in dozens of others, what's a dev to do?

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I still can't quite fathom why the hell anyone would use Node JS - whilst there is definitely plenty of dependency overload from many other languages and frameworks, node seems to take this to a whole new level.

It's a couple of years since I last used it but I recently had to use npm to install the dependencies for a well known cloud storage provider's CLI utility... This led to the download of over ONE THOUSAND external libraries!

Now: I will grant that it does at least have a built in vulnerability checker of some kind but this flagged up nearly 300 known vulnerabilities of which only about 200 could be automatically fixed by upgrading dependencies, the others were blocked by things like known API breakage in the newer (fixed) version.

All this for the current stable version of a fairly basic command line utility! And someone chose to build it in a language with absolutely no type safety, that can't even get basic comparison operators right. (https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/wat)

I work with some air-gapped environments and one of the most galling things I have to deal with regularly is that just about every package manager is built with reliance upon an internet connection and has offline installation as an afterthought at the very best. In the case of npm it seems to be that the official answer is there is no offline install option: cue a multitude of projects to serve up local mirrors to fool npm into thinking it's connected :-(

(Actually, I found a node module called 'pkg' which 'compiled' my CLI into a whopping 50mb standalone executable. It's really ugly and totally huge, but at least it it's smaller than the 300mb of JavaScript the npm pulled down and it seems to actually work too).

I'm certainly getting the impression that many of the developers that I meet know very little about the underlying fundamentals involved in their applications (even simple concepts such as file descriptors and network sockets) and instead have become specialists in clipping together various Lego™ bricks to make something that vaguely resembles a program.

There's a balance to be found in all this. Pulling in a huge library only to make use of one convenient function call just isn't cool. But on the other hand it's also not worth trying to reinvent the wheel every time. Common sense and careful planning both need to come back into the daily development lifecycle.

After huffing and puffing for years, US senators unveil law to blow the encryption house down with police backdoors

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: stupidity out of ignorance or avarice

Gosh, if you're implying me then I'm afraid I'm a long way past being a kid. My wife often tells me I'm a miserable old git too, but I'd still never heard of avarice, although another commentard's use of 'avaricious' at least sounds like a word I've heard before.

I love discovering new words - one of the beauties of English is that our language is vast and contains a great many interesting words.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: stupidity out of ignorance or avarice

Hands up everybody who had to look up the word 'avarice' - I'm pretty sure I've never heard the word before.

Anyone know whether it's more commonly used in US English? It's definitely listed in the Cambridge and Oxford English dictionaries but I don't recall ever hearing the word in British English before...


Cool! I learnt a new word meaning 'extreme greed'

Microsoft loosens Teams' necktie as platform courts your forensic accountant relatives

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Out of curiosity have you tested your sound with other apps?

I'm running Zoom and Teams on Linux and using the built-in Mic was always a bit iffy, but since I invested in a USB gaming headset the sound has been fine.

C is for 'Careful now', D is for 'Download surprise': Microsoft to resurrect optional Windows 10 updates as 'Previews'

ovation1357 Bronze badge

It'll never cope!

Teams can't handle a call with 4 simultaneous videos without cooking my CPU (on a fairly new i5-based Lenovo ThinkPad) and stalling and dropping out so how the hell do they think they're going to manage 49 :-O

To be fair, Zoom is also CPU intensive but it always handles a boat-load of simultaneous live videos plus screen sharing flawlessly and is reasonably pleasant to use.

It seems to me that as usual Microsoft are just copying everyone else's features, making a poor copy at that, and claiming innovation.

I use Teams because I'm forced to (Zoom client is not on the extremely limited list of permitted apps on the corporate desktop). But for team meetings and everything outside of work it's Zoom all the way unless I find something even better.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Refunds for repairs?

It's seriously time to set your dad up with Linux - I'd recommend Ubuntu or Mint with MATE which is what my mother and mother-in-law now both use.

Neither of them is computer literate and neither ever calls me for support because it just works. We're talking nearly a year for my mum and about 4 or 5 years for the mother in law (who actually asked me two things recently which were both 100% OS independent: How to cancel her trial Amazon prime and the other that BT WebMail has completely changed suddenly and they've basically cocked up the transfer of contacts from their old system).

As printing is a relevant topic here - there is of course a change that a printer could have problems with Linux but CUPS (developed by Apple) is truly excellent and easy to use, and HP provides proper Linux support - even for its £30 bargain combo printer-scanners.. Seriously, in about 5 years the only things my mother in law has asked for help with is installing said 'bargain' printer, which worked straight out of the box, and to connect a new monitor.

On the previous Windows system she was always having some problem or other and it was a pain in the ass.

Sure is wild that Apple, Google app store monopolies are way worse than what Windows got up to, sniffs Microsoft prez

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Hello Pot? Kettle would like a word with you!

I thought that 'hackintosh was a thing? I personally have no desire to install macOS on anything. In fact I hated it so much when I moved into a team that uses Mac's, that I dual booted my Mac Mini with Ubuntu and never looked back.

Likewise I have no desire to install Win 10 on anything for my own use. I've installed it on both old and new hardware and I'm not impressed with it either way round. It's a mess. Yes, it boots faster than previous versions and can perform okay on older hardware, but on the older machines Linux is still more performant and seems to offer (ironically) better hardware support. It also offers a big choice of user interfaces ranging from practical, efficient legacy UIs to whiz-bang touch centric experimental ones. (Note: Sadly GNOME/GTK3 is doing horrible things to long-standing UI principles which is going to rock the Linux desktop boat again.)

It's ultimately a personal choice - I still frequently have to help people with annoying problems Windows 10 (and let's face it, MS is getting quite a poor record for pushing out botched updates that break stuff or even brick the system) whereas my mother and mother-in-law both run Linux now and a rarely ever get asked for any help. So in my view, Linux desktop already passes the 'grandma' test.

Personally, I hate the TIFKAM UI and all the associated mobile-friendly big buttons, ribbons and flat, featureless windows. I think it's an abomination and that's a very big part of why I only use it when I'm forced to. When someone asks me for help and they do want/need/like it then I'll help them the best I can.

Linux is great but it's not good at everything - e.g. I'm not about to try and coax an Adobe CS user away from their Mac, because unless Adobe ports Photoshop it would be a non-starter.

Somebody heavily reliant on complex MS office documents will probably not accept Office 2010 running under Wine on Linux like I've got for emergencies. But the reason they _need_ Office in the first place is because Microsoft deliberately refused to give any sensible support to open document formats and instead chose to invent its own one which isn't really open. Hence my continued standpoint that they're a nasty, abusive monopoly player and they certainly aren't in any position to be pointing fingers at Apple or Google.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Hello Pot? Kettle would like a word with you!

Well I have to use it for my calendar too and it's totally shit at that!

There's so much wasted white space that on my 1920x1080 screen I have to choose between having my message preview at the bottom and showing only about three lines of a message (or a few more lines at the expense of only being able to see a couple of entries in my inbox); or I can move the message preview to the side but then I can only see the first few characters of the sender, subject and date in the message list.

There is absolutely no way I can also add the 'today' calendar preview on that screen so I have to manually switch between views, which for some reason I can't cure now defaults to the utterly useless 'month' view of the calendar. And whilst I'm taking about 'useless', there's a mini calendar showing the days on the current month but it doesn't do anything at all - in any other calendar client you'd be able to schedule a new appointment directly from the day on that overview but not on a outlook.

Oh, and it's message search is, quite frankly, shocking! A message I'd be able to locate in a few seconds in Thunderbird may take me several searches on outlook and may never materialise.

I tried the outlook Web client in the hope it might be a bit better and it's even worse than that desktop version :-(

I use Thunderbird for all my personal mail (and business where I'm permitted to) and I can see everything I need, nicely presented on a single screen (with the same resolution) with no wasted space and everything at a useful as usable size.

There's a tonne of people complaining about Outlook's terrible layout and terrible colour scheme in Microsoft's forums but it's all falling on deaf ears.

I'm forced to use Outlook but I'm actively looking for a way to use ThunderBird or something similar because it's really affecting my ability to actually track and manage my emails and calendar and is causing me unnecessary stress.

If I sound at all angry is because I am fairly angry about it. Here's a massive world-leading corporation charging schools, universities and public sector (i.e. tax payers) and home users vast sums of money per-user for substandard products when there are many other platforms and applications ranging from cheaper to free which strive to deliver much higher standards of quality and work much better, yet thanks to aggressive sales, years of vendor Lock-In and abuse of their monopoly there's still too many organisations accepting this overpriced crap, and poor grunts like me being forced to use it because it's the "corporate solution"

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Hello Pot? Kettle would like a word with you!

Back in the days when I had a Power PC Mac running macOS 9, I had MS Office Mac Edition (I think it was 98) - quite ironically it was much better than the Windows version.

I heard a story once that this was because Microsoft subcontracted it to some Mac developers who wrote it from the ground up any and made it better.. I've no idea if this is true but I hope it is..

Anyway, the 'modern' Office UI sucks big time and the online versions are far too basic, whilst still looking flat and lifeless. With the exception of the rather handy font and styles selections in the ribbon, I'd still very much like my menu bar back please!

I'm extremely happy with LibreOffice for the most part. It's not perfect but it's way nicer to use than MS Office. I only ever have to use MS Office occasionally if I receive a document with weird formatting or advanced macros.

I've had recent experience of installing Win 10 on old hardware and whilst it runs, and even boots reasonably quickly it's still a horrid OS and just uses crappy generic drivers for the older hardware.

Case in point quite recently was an old Celeron basen Laptop with Win 7. The Ubuntu live USB flew and worked with all the hardware out of the box, including the touchpad which had two-finger scrolling... After installing Windows 10 on it (for someone else who still wanted Windows), the touchpad was demoted to being a dumb mouse. Turns out that there's no support for scrolling because they just use a generic driver and that's that. Total pants! There's no good reason except for the built in obsolescence that Microsoft is so famous for. It seems that the official line on many of these former Win 7 devices is simply that it might work but it also might not and you'll be on your own. Meanwhile the Linux community still actively supports a great deal of that hardware.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Hello Pot? Kettle would like a word with you!

This is a truly staggering display of hypocrisy from Microsoft!

Don't get me wrong: Apple really aren't that much better - I guess there's a bit of a different in that people seem to know and accept that they're entering the 'walled garden' with them, but some years back when I was considering just possibly buying a MacBook the first thing that put me off was that, on an already over-priced and under-specified machine, there was only a choice of an impractial gloss finish and for the slightly less awful black colour they wanted an extra £100! The nail in that coffin was that they'd banned the Opera web browser from their iOS app store - that kind of anticompetitive behaviour was an instant no-deal.

(This was the point where I bought a ThinkPad, installed Linux and never looked back).

Microsoft has abused it's dominant market position time and again, and continues to do so. It's still tricky to buy hardware that doesn't come with a Windows license, all PCs have a dedicated 'Windows' button on the keyboard which is a real sign of their dominance, they've continually crushed (usually superior) competitive software and let's not forget that they had a bit of a fantasy with secure-boot which could have resulted in machines which could only boot Windows.

The only good reason to buy Office might be Excel (and Word of you need the compatibly with the rest of the world's docs), but you get Exchange/Outlook thrown in - Outlook is an utterly awful mail client which causes me great stress every working day but there's no alternative that I'm allowed to use, and really the best alternatives require IMAP which many corps won't enable, so your stuck with a proprietary protocol.

You also get Teams 'thrown in' which is a pretty poor quality alternative to Zoom - but they're winning this one too. Not by offering quality or innovation (in fact the latest Teams updates are all about trying to catch up with features from Zoom and others) but by forcing their product into the forefront in an already captive market, the execs just go along with it as they love Microsoft and it's 'free'..

In Hancock's half-hour, Dido Harding offers hollow laughs: Cake distracts test-and-trace boss at UK COVID-19 briefing

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Aaah, Brass Eye! Now that was some brilliant satire. I'd forgotten about 'cake'.

P.S. I've realised that I've misspelt the great man's name, so apologies to the late, great: Roald Dahl, without the spurious 'h'.

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Cake, in this particular context, conjures up a mental image of the kind of cake you'd find in a Rohald Dahl book - made with maggots, beetles and worms which all come wiggling out alive as it's cut.

Come to think of it that's probably not such a bad metaphor for the UK government's handling of covid-19

Wailing Wednesday follows Patch Tuesday as versions of Windows 10 stop playing nicely with plugged-in printers

ovation1357 Bronze badge

My experience of printing in Windows 10 has been that is was pretty shit to start with... I ended up wasting hours a few months back because serval laptops in an office couldn't print PDFs to any printer... As is customary with all Microsoft software the error message amounted to 'something isn't working'...

As is also customary with Microsoft software a search for the error message led me to a Microsoft forum containing months' worth of people reporting the same error but no answers.

I followed a few ideas posted by helpful, well-meaning contributors and ended up deleting a load of files to supposedly reset the Windows printing subsystem. Half a day later, after a fresh install of the printer drivers i found myself back at square one, at which point I gave up trying to fix it!

The problem was that anything that was a Windows "app", such as the built in PDF viewer could not print, whilst traditional programs could print just fine. So as the only printing requirement was for PDFs I just found a suitable non-microsoft viewer and installed that instead.

My temptation at that point was to install Ubuntu because although CUPS isn't perfect, it is pretty damn good and is fairly easy to debug if it's not working. Given the business in question relies primarily on Thunderbird, LibreOffice and a web browser there's a strong argument for ditching Win10.

Am I surprised by this latest borkage? Not at all! I just wish there was a way to persuade people to vote with their feet and switch to the alternatives (I'm a big Linux fan but wouldn't want to discredit macOS or ChromeOS as also being good alternatives)

An Internet of Trouble lies ahead as root certificates begin to expire en masse, warns security researcher

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Planned or accident

I'm sure that's true but this friend is the only person I know who still uses a dedicated device in a car which doesn't already have a built-in sat nav (which is becoming increasingly common and probably yet another load of proprietary devices to become bricks when the manufacturer can't be bothered any more).

I totally get the idea of a single device sometimes being better than a multifunction one but then I'm a bit of a cheap skate so I'm not going to buy a dedicated nav device when I've already got a smart phone which does incredibly good navigation worldwide with live traffic/hazard and roadworks updates on accurate maps (although I must say I'm very impressed with TomTom's lane diagrams at junctions, which Waze/Google Maps don't do).

In the early days of having a smartphone all kinds of things went wrong when using it for navigation but these days it will happily play my music/podcasts whilst navigating and integrates well with my aftermarket Bluetooth kit for road alerts and phone calls

So for me to buy another device for maybe £200 (which is more than my phone cost) plus extra costs for updates and international maps just isn't an attractive option. Especially as it's another thing I'll need to hide or take with me at the end of each journey in case some little weasel decides to smash a window and pinch it.. I generally don't forget the phone - it's either in my pocket or it's mounted in the car.

So to each their own for now but I think the massive increase in smart phone use combined with all the new built-in solutions will eventually mean that dedicated units cease to exist

ovation1357 Bronze badge

Re: Planned or accident

That's often true but not completely fair. I've certainly had products where the manufacturer has continued to provide updates for a lot longer than 2 years.

In the case of a friend of mine, he's got a fairly antique TomTom sat nav (yes! An actual, real sat nav device and not a smart phone like the rest of the world), which stopped working last year (or was it the year before? In forget!) when there was a GPS patch required. They provided and for free as well which was a pretty decent on a very old unit.

With consumer goods I think a lot of the UK based offices keep a veritable museum of old devices because 'manufacturing defect' type clams coming in under the UK sale of goods act which allows consumers to claim for repair or replacement within 6 years of purchase. A 5 year old TV which dies due to an expired root CA could be argued to have a defect by not being shipped with trust in a suitably long CA and that could lead them to either release an update to fix or even to provide a replacement device.



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