* Posts by Jon Press

302 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Jun 2007



Jon Press

Re: Don't like people earning a lot? Tough

The real question is why companies like Google that have developed the technology that specifically enables working from anywhere should be paying so much money to hire and accommodate people in such an expensive central location. And it's not just a case of "why not Detroit?", why be "located" at all?

This isn't a sign of capitalism working, it's a sign of capitalism not working - unnecessarily inflated costs are a sign of market failure.

Two guilty over 'menacing' tweets to feminist campaigner

Jon Press

Re: "her uncle was thought to be on the side of the proles"

>The proles. That's an interesting euphemism for Nazis

The two are inextricably linked (the Nazis were ostensibly a socialist workers' party).. The establishment was more concerned at the time about the apparent socialism of "something must be done" than aggressive nationalism. The concern about his (and, more seriously, his eventual wife's) admiration for Hitler only came seriously into play when the abdication was pretty much a foregone conclusion.

BT unleashes SIP licensing troll army

Jon Press

Re: Maybe I missed it...

I didn't look exhaustively at the patents - there are dozens - but a small sample seems not to relate to SIP specifically, but to the operation of telephone networks in general, of which SIP-based networks are simply a candidate class.

The first of the listed (US) patents is about rerouting calls when paths between traditional telephone exchanges fail. Another, selected at random, is a means of resolving provisioning conflicts - for example detecting that adding "Call Waiting" and "Call forward on busy" to the same line are mutually incompatible. I really don't see how the first is applicable to most VoIP networks (unless they're laying claim to routing in the entire Internet) and I doubt that most VoIP providers bother with such niceties as detecting feature clashes by means of conflict graphs.

I don't see many small VoIP providers having the resources to analyze 99 separate patent claims. However, I'd have thought their equipment suppliers would be keen to find a resolution as they're not going to be selling much kit in future otherwise.

Announcement of 'churnalism detector' gets furiously churned

Jon Press

"An alliance of wealthy and powerful individuals"

So, quite unlike the media barons, then.

Public cloud will grow when experienced IT folks DIE

Jon Press

Re: Internet Cloud Connectivity

Not to mention that your Internet connection is a prime target for DDoS attacks when you rely on it for the internal functioning of your business as well as its external communications.

You can't/shouldn't simply suck the IT out of a physical business location and dump it somewhere else - it really only makes sense to "clolud" your IT if you do the same for the people and processes in your business.

Which of course would suit Amazon just fine: you don't need any warehouses or store, they'll provide an entire retail infrastructure for you. And that's the problem - any business model that can be put into the cloud will end up being a business model in the control of the cloud provider.

Paying a TV tax makes you happy - BBC

Jon Press

Compulsory Tax

I'm not quite sure what voluntary taxes are supposed to be surpassed in iniquity by the compulsory TV licence.

The TV Licence is a great and rare example of democracy delivering public benefit cost efficiently.

Amazon tries to shut .book in face of authors, publishers

Jon Press

Re: The official domain name system is broken.

The domain name system was designed on the principle that domain names would be trustworthy identifiers of the people or organisations using them. The domain name system operates on the principle that domain names are stakes claimed in the limited number of symbol combinations that might be sufficiently recognisable to have a monetary value. No one is going to play by the old rules if there is more money to be made by playing to new ones. See under "banking" for more information.

Penguins, only YOU can turn desktop disk IO into legacy tech

Jon Press

It's the fault of the applications, not the storage hardware...

Regardless of the storage technology, your operating system is only going to page in as much code as the application needs in order to execute. The more code your application has in its working set, the longer this is going to take - and the more often that memory is going to have to be paged out to make room for other applications (and you won't be writing dirty pages to SSDs). And a single application today can have more code than an entire computer room full of old, washing-machine-style disk drives could hold - a lot of which may never be executed but is almost inseparably intertwined with code that will be.

SSDs are not so much faster than magnetic disks that you're going to see dramatic (order of magnitude) improvements in speed just by swapping one for another. In fact, you might do almost as well by simply compressing the executable files and decompressing them on being paged in - which I presume someone would have done by now if the improvement were worthwhile. If you want dramatic improvements you need much more discipline in the way code is written in the first place - and better technology at the compile stage to identify clusters of related code (back in the grim old days before virtual memory we had to handcraft overlay trees) and the optimum set of pages to load at application initialisation.

Welsh bureaucrats busted for getting political on Twitter, Facebook

Jon Press

Heb iaith, ni cheir meddwl

But having [any] language is not a sufficient condition.

Sony: Can't beat Apple and Samsung, so let's be the Other Guy

Jon Press

Re: I have to say....

I agree. My Xperia Mini even took a dive in the River Tay over a year ago and continues to work well, although it was rather unhappy until dried out. The few gripes I have are about Android in general; the Sony implementation seems a lot better than most.

Queen of Tech City says she will decide what Tech City does soon now

Jon Press

Re: "Developers, developers, developers"

It's a while since I've braved the seedy underpasses through Silicon Roundabout, so I have no first-hand knowledge of how things work there, but round here we have a history of short-term business "initiatives". All that did was encourage a raft of companies that depended more or less entirely on EU/RDA/etc funds and would hop from one sector to another to follow the money. When government was flinging around money to get businesses online, they'd turn into web businesses; as the money dried up they'd lay off their web developers and move into something else - for a while there were slews of mostly-empty colo spaces with some kind of grant input or another that gradually folded and died.

The problem with this kind of funding is that it encourages companies that see the government as a customer - and an obliging customer that requires very little in return for its money - and discourages investment, risk and, most of all, the understanding of actual demand.

Mobile TV is BACK: Ericsson launches broadcast video for 4G

Jon Press

Makes perfect sense

Since all the terrestrial TV spectrum is being swiped for mobile telphony, what better solution than to use the new spectrum to, er, terrestrially broadcast TV.

UK distie boss: My brush with death in rapper's drive-by killing

Jon Press

Am I reading the Hexham Courant?

Its staple diet seems to be news items of the "local man escapes death by being at no risk" type.

My favourite quotation from one of the "lucky to be alive" survivors was:

Frankly a panda wasn’t worth all the hassle we went through.

Though there are more mundane examples of breathless scaremongering.

Wind-up bloke Baylis winds up broke, turns to UK gov for help

Jon Press

Re: Tricky balancing act

Indeed - the first generation of his clockwork radios were indeed clockwork (storing energy in a spring) whereas the later versions are hand-cranked generators that charge batteries. Although the concept is the same, the engineering implementation is very different. I think he's simply misunderstood what invention actually is.

On the other hand, you have to have some admiration for a man whose Wikipedia entry reads "With money earned from performing as an underwater escape artiste in the Berlin Circus ...".

Forget wireless power for phones - Korea's doing it for buses

Jon Press

Re: How well insulated are steel toecaps?

The material needs to be ferrous AFAIK


Jon Press

How well insulated are steel toecaps?

Or indeed the copper insoles I've seen advertised to "cure" arthritis.

I'd imagine the induction current from something with enough power to charge a bus battery could at least result in a toasty warm glow in your tootsies, even if you don't have lightning shooting from your shoes.

Microsoft tries to sell home Office users on subscription pricing

Jon Press

I'm still using Office 2000

I must say I'm surprised and grateful that Microsoft has put so much effort into maintaining it as a viable option (including the converters for docx formats), but not so much that I'd consider shelling out for a newer version.

Microsoft seem dazzled into paralysis by the revenues they get from Office (witness the agonising over Outlook for RT), but the days of being able to sell a mass market product with such huge margins isn't going to survive the tablet/app age.

I don't see, either, that many people will immediately think of a software suite they've traditionally used to create paper documents as being the obvious solution to their cloud collaboration needs (assuming they have any).

If they can't find a way of selling a consumer version of Office (or its subcomponents) at a few pounds a throw, there isn't going to be a "home" Office product line in future.

Meet قلب, the programming language that uses Arabic script

Jon Press

I don't suppose...

... it will be much used for writing Christmas carols.

Google's Native Client browser tech now works on ARM

Jon Press

Re: focused development

Quite. And Java is a lot easier to sandbox than C++, never mind C. And we know just how secure that turned out to be..

This isn't even innovation - it's a reinvention of Active X. And we know just how secure that turned out to be.

Apple gets a lot of stick for investing too little in reasearch - perhaps Google should catch some heat for investing rather too much.

Germany's RTL pulls free-to-air channels off terrestrial TV

Jon Press

The evidence is to the contrary

The number of hours people watched "linear TV" was higher in 2011 (latest year for which I can find figures) than ever.

There are an awful lot of people who don't have catch-up/on-demand TV (or even adequate Internet connections) - plenty of older people can't even use an EPG and still rely on the Radio Times to guide their viewing.

And it would be wrong to assume that a lot of TV viewing is elective - much of it is little more than looking at scenery out of the train window.

Linear TV isn't going away any time soon - and if it did, it would pretty much be the end of new programming: people would stick to the archive stuff with recognisable titles. Even broadcast TV isn't going anywhere until cable is more than a metropolitan phenomenon (which, notably, it is in Germany).

Sheffield ISP: You don't need a whole IPv4 address to yourself, right?

Jon Press

Re: IPv4 and IPv6 can co-exist

They can, like telephones can co-exist with the postal service. However if you can only have a phone or a letterbox - but not both - the co-existence is not necessarily helpful.

And that's unfortunately the territory we're entering - the transition plan has always assumed that the coexistence phase would have pretty much come to an end before the IPv4 space was exhausted.

Why mergers LOSE money, but are GOOD for the economy

Jon Press

Rarely good for the economy, either...

It's been well known for a long time that most M&A's don't deliver for business. If you have enough cash to buy out an existing business, you almost certainly have enough cash to replicate its business model more efficiently and without its historic baggage. If you have to borrow the money, you're saddling the company you're trying to turn around with crippling debt which usually results simply in an accelerated decline.

What M&A activity does is to divert substantial amounts of money in fees and bonuses to the bankers and new directors, which is why it remains depressingly popular. In the process, the less-preferred creditors, who are also real businesses trying to grow, get pushed even further back down the queue when the acquired business goes tits up. That's really not in the interests of the economy, though it clearly is in the interests of a small number of people who know how to work the system.

Windows Media Center EPG has SWITCHED OFF, wail Euro users

Jon Press

Re: 'Poll' position

No, it's because the live (and near-live) subtitling is done using similar machines to those used (formerly, now) in court reporting - they use a kind of phoneme-based shorthand which software then attempts to translate back into words.

The alternative would be to have no live subtitles at all, or no live programming.

Ever had to register to buy online - and been PELTED with SPAM?

Jon Press

Re: Odd.....

I think this is a "grey area". I get lots of spam promoting established UK businesses which actually originates from outside the UK and is from "affiliate" marketers who may be acting outside the terms of their agreement. The overseas (often, US) spammer is probably working within local laws and the UK business hasn't been involved in the data processing.

Granted, this spam has mostly arisen to addresses that at one point or another have been given to US businesses or leaked on to the Internet in the very early days, but once they're out there, UK businesses are quite happy to turn a blind eye to their affiliates' behaviour.

Steve Jobs' Apple yacht freed after family settles the bill

Jon Press

Re: That yacht looks terrible

"it's bloody tiny"

If only I'd brought my sawn-off yacht pun...

VCDX: The elite certification just 105 people hold

Jon Press

Re: why virtualize?

That's an extremely good question.

If you were looking at abstract ways of solving the issues of scalability and reliability, you wouldn't start by running multiple copies of an operating system on a single piece of real hardware in competition with each other for resources.

It's really only the relative absence of other solutions (particularly for Windows) that's moved virtualisation out of its traditional role in development environments and support for legacy systems. Though, to be fair, there are also a lot more legacy systems around.

It's also a lot easier for a third party vendor to offer a solution below the OS level from the (vendor's) licensing point of view.

I wonder whether virtualisation might be less popular if Microsoft had something (of their own) more akin to mobile WPARs.

Short answer: there are products that can be bought today that solve problems today, even if they're not perfect.

Facebook: 'No merit' to claim we broke German privacy law

Jon Press

Re: IANAL, but

IANAL either, but I'm pretty sure your birth certificate remains unaltered, except in very rare cases, regardless of the route you take to change your present name.

Judge: There'll be no US Samsung ban, BUT no new trial with Apple either

Jon Press

"void dire"

Rarely have I seen such a succinct summation of a legal case. Only missing a comma, I think.

Dragons' Den badboy's biz Expansys is soaked in red

Jon Press

I remember when...

... El Reg had an online store "Powered by Expansys" up to around 2008. Clearly they're missing the click-throughs.

Delegates launch dawn spitball raid in battle for INTERNET DOMINATION

Jon Press

Re: WT??? "such a hard time achieving anything"

And they seem to manage consensus beyond the ITU too. H.264, for example, is ISO/IEC 14496-1 (MPEG-4 Part 10). JPEG is a joint group between ITU and ISO.

Generally, the experts will gather somewhere they think they can make progress on standards, they're not too bothered about which organisation it is. The political level of the ITU is irrelevant - if it screws up, they'll just continue meeting and put a different logo on the final documents.

Stroustrup on next-gen C++: I didn't want to let go of my baby

Jon Press

Re: Preprocessor hate?

A lot of "programs" are better expressed as data rather than procedural code (Finite State Machines come to mind). It's a pity few preprocessors approach the flexibility of BLISS macros (or even Macro-11) for this purpose, but you can usually make some headway with C/C++.

A lot of other programs are rendered almost unmaintainable by a tangled nest of conditional compilation that ought to have been abstracted out a much lower level.

Most of the use of the preprocessor I've seen in C++, unfortunately, falls firmly in the second category.

WCIT settles into a long night as deadlocks solidify ... into logjam

Jon Press

ITU to stay in the first couple of ISO layers

Well, given that X.400 and X.500 and H.323 (to pick a few at random) are application layer standards, I'd say they'd already planted their flag on the summit some long time ago.

Revealed: The Brit-built GRAVITY-powered light that costs $5

Jon Press


... but it isn't actually "gravity-powered", it's powered by whatever initially overcomes the force of gravity to lift the weight.

US drops ‘net regulation bombshell, threatens WCIT exit

Jon Press

Re: Interoperability

>ITU has had multiple attempts to get it right

The major changes have been in the total number of permitted digits for international dialling. Seems eminently sensible to me that you have a flexible scheme that adapts to a growing subscriber base rather than take the "640k should be enough for anyone" approach.

In any case, they seem to have managed these changes without my having to upgrade my telephone at any point.

Jon Press

Re: Interoperability

Well, we've almost reached the point at which we have (Everywhere), but that aside...

Naming is intricately bound up with trademarks, trademarks are subject to national and international regulation and regulations are enforced by governments. That's how it works now. No change proposed there except an explicit recognition that countries have the right to legislate in their own jurisdiction.

I think the wider point being made is that had the international implications been really considered when IP was being designed, they wouldn't have come up with the present numbering and addressing scheme - they'd have come up with something more like E.164, which is an ITU standard and, coincidentally, a reason why the world isn't running out of phone numbers in the same way it's running out of IP addresses. And there might well have been an earlier solution to allow people to have domain names in their own language - a fairly basic requirement for a global technology.

Windows Phone 8 must be Microsoft's priority one, two AND three

Jon Press

Re: Wrong tense.

*A* phone platform should have been Microsoft's priority.

Putting the word "Windows" first is, i suspect, their essential mistake. Firstly, it raises negative expectations in the marketplace because people know what "Windows" is and can't really envisage how that might work on a phone. Google didn't make the mistake of referring to their phone platform as "Linux Phone".

Secondly, it ties the phone project into a whole raft of dependencies and messy compromises with totally unrelated products in the mistaken belief that the corporate vision of a seamlessly ubiquitous plaform can some how be delivered from the spare parts bin.

Build a good phone platform and you have a bridgehead. Extend your "Windows" branding to it later if you want. Building an unfocussed platform for products most of which you haven't really thought about and lending it your most valuable brandname unlikely to bolster the appeal of either - it's more likely you're going to torpedo your own flaghship.

Adobe demands 7,000 years a day from humankind

Jon Press


Perhaps a lawerly type can explain to me that the "consideration" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consideration) is in an "agreement" such as Adobe's? I can see that there is an (implicit) value to the end user in being able to view content that would otherwise be invisible, but there's nothing of value passing in the other direction. Adobe may well get the benefit of revenue from content developers as a side effect of the existence of content consumers, but they're not a contracting party.

Obviously as the copyright holders in the original software they'd be able to stop people redistrbuting it or making and distributing derived works, but even then surely they'd be hard put to quantify monetary damages arising from unlicensed use of a free giveaway if it came to court. As for the rest, difficult to see how any sort of contract exists.

House passes, Obama disses 55,000 visas for educated immigrants

Jon Press

Re: Of course migrant workers don't take away american jobs in the long run.

They don't, however, explain to the family members in the applicant's country of origin that they should refrain from falling ill or dying or undergoing any other significant life event that might require the applicant's attendance at short notice. The "rule" is mostly a test to check prospective citizens are sufficiently passive they'll accept this kind of shit.

Apple DID buy social video network - check out this BONKERS lawsuit

Jon Press

Re: "the service will be shutting down at the end of this year."

Closing down something that promises to help people "share the stories of their lives" sounds like a public service to me.

German city dumping OpenOffice for Microsoft

Jon Press

Re: Can anyone think of anything?

I'm still using Office 2000 and it reads .docx reasonably competently with the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. Never seen the need to upgrade.

Cashless Comet to close 41 stores, axe 500 jobs

Jon Press

Maplin, also owned by private equity...

... had to pull an attempted sale of the business owing to the retail climate. To quote the Telegraph:

"The company’s most recent accounts, filed at Companies House, show that in the year to January 1 2011, the business made a loss before tax of £32.7m on sales of £213m, against a loss of £26.1m on sales of £203m in the prior year."

Perhaps their enthuiasm to take on Comet's retail space is their "synergy" with Comet's business model.

Freeview to be nudged down to clear 5G bands in 2018

Jon Press

Will this be DVB-T2?

Given that we had to wait for analogue switch off to get the digital signals up to full power (because of co-channel interference) and that the available spectrum has been reduced, I'm presuming these are either going to be low-power multiplexes with limited coverage (like Freeview before switchover) or a Single Frequency Network (which I think would have to be DVB-T2). It would be good to have some additional bandwidth for the existing channels (the commercial channels in particular look like they're being broadcast through constantly-falling confetti), but I can't see anyone paying voluntarily for capacity with a reach that's limited either by geography or by receiving equipment.

Should Microsoft merge Office into Windows - or snap it off?

Jon Press

The problem with Office...

OK, *one* of the problems of Office, is that there's insufficient structure and metadata as it is. Want to label a particular paragraph in a document for future reuse? Can't! Want to find out what the significance of a spreadsheet cell is without looking for some text nearby? Can't! Integrating more unstructured data just makrs this worse. Office sits uncomfortably between a means of presenting data and a means of storing and manipulating it. Plenty of room for products that do only one of things, but better.

Sorry about spelling - Android has lost its cursor again.

Mmm, what's that smell: Coffee or sweat? How to avoid a crap IT job

Jon Press

"Screens are also a signal"

The desktop infrastructure manager of a large public undertaking once made it very clear to me that they "did not support" screens larger than 21". Which made it kind of hard to develop their public-facing large-screen information displays. The issue wasn't meanness, it was institutional stupidity with no override.

If you're planning to work in development, check for signs of non-standard boxes with their lids off and wires trailing around - if there aren't any you'll probably find that you're expected to do your software development with codepad.org.

Apple axed Brit retail boss for doing his job well - TOO well, perhaps

Jon Press

On the rare occasion I've been required to venture into an Apple store...

... it seemed that the only reason they were so apparently busy is that you couldn't take one of the items hanging on the wall to a checkout, pay for it and leave. Apple stores are busy by design as they force you to interact with a t-shirt - partly to demonstrate that the "customers" are actually supplicants for the attention of the clergy in the Cathedral of St Steven and partly in the hope of capturing your e-mail address (for the "receipt").

French gov 'plans to hand Google €1bn tax bill' - report

Jon Press


If you're employing anyone you're already paying a 12% tax on your labour cost (including yourself, unless you're doing a Google and taking most of your drawings as dividend). That's regardless of whether you make a profit or not. If you occupy any premises, you're paying business rates which are likely to be roughly similar to the rent you're paying. That's also regardless of whether you make a profit or not.

There are a lot of large and very profitable companies that are paying very little in the way of corporation tax at all. If a turnover tax were introduced it would reduce the amount of tax you're already paying, not increase it, because it would cover a much wider tax base.

Would you really prefer your fixed overheads to rise continually in order to permit large multinational corporations to opt out of the tax system?

BT and Virgin sue over £10m state-funded Birmingham broadband

Jon Press

"everybody in the country who wanted to be connected ... had the option"

I think you must either have slept through the period (or perhaps had not been born) when you had to put your name on a waiting list for months or years to get even a party line from the good old Post Office - largely because the Treasury had limited funds to give them to build out their network, but partly because the GPO was used as a mechanism to prop up British manufacturing firms and its growth was also limited by their capacity.

I'm afraid the government's history of "market failure" intervention has been pretty dire too.

Don't know what the solution is, but it doesn't lie in rose-tinted nostalgia.

Russian Christians boosted by Pussy Riot law spank 'sinful' Apple logo

Jon Press

Original sin

Since Apple claim to be the origin of everything popular, this makes perfect sense.

AMD unveils 'sweet spot' processor for 'sexy' tablets

Jon Press

So, will the next iteration

... be a Z80?

Ofcom tries to chop months off EE's 4G exclusive

Jon Press

Re: And just what is all this rush for?

Interesting paper (though I can't immediately find corroboration) here suggesting actual spectral efficiency in deployed LTE networks is not nearly as high as predicted (perhaps 40% better than HSDPA), though I guess this is with first generation equipment: