* Posts by Throgmorton Horatio III

52 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Jan 2020


Microsoft to use Windows 11 Start menu as a billboard with app ads for Insiders

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: If you read the Windows EULA carefully, you'll note the words...

"So clearly you’ve never seen W11. You can’t move for ads, and have to work quite hard to get rid of them."

Windows 11 user here. With a new install I spend an hour going through, changing settings, removing detritis like that. I don't see ads from the OS.

With the POCO phone ads are much more intrusive - the price you pay for a lower cost phone - but not in Windows. I DO hate the way advertising is taking over so much, and I have a semi-principle that if someone pushes ads at me I will try not to buy their product.

Fresh version of Windows user-friendly Zorin OS arrives to tempt the Linux-wary

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Coincidence...

Interesting. I'd found Linux to be like that in the past, and some versions that want to be completely free of any kind of proprietary software sometimes still are, but many do pretty much work out of the box.

For a decade my personal computing was on Linux*, but I returned to windows in 2014 because Adobe Lightroom was my photo development app of choice, and it's windows or Apple OS only. I still tinker with the odd distro that looks interesting, usually running live off USB, but have no *reason* to use anything else as my main OS these days.

*I miss Pear Linux, and was very sad when David Tavares closed the project.

IAB Europe's ad consent popups pose privacy problem

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Shut it all down, please

"Fuck that noise, I hit back so hard the shock wave created a singularity."

No sarcasm intended - how DO you hit back? Surely the choice is to walk away or accept, and that's it.

They call me 'Growler'. I don't like you. Let's discuss your pay cut

Throgmorton Horatio III

Never burn your bridges

But also never willingly reconnect with Growler types.

I ran my own business for a while in a non-IT sector, and one customer to whom I'd offered a very favourable rate still managed to screw the price down. At the time I didn't have a lot of other work coming in and eventually became so discouraged that I wound up the company, having passed them on to another business that could do their work (at much higher rates). For some years afterward they kept trying to get in contact about some more work, and I kept managing to not be available. Had I been more commercially oriented then it might have turned out differently, but as it was I preferred to close the door and just walk away permanently.

Junior techie had leverage, but didn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation

Throgmorton Horatio III

I admire those who take responsibility for the mistakes of their staff that follow instructions but make mistakes. Buck-passing, and especially punishing junior staff for ones own poor oversight is cowardly and shameful. I'm sorry that the wrong person carried the blame for this.

FDA approves AI-powered skin cancer-screening device that's just a teensy bit tricorder-ish

Throgmorton Horatio III

It's way expensive, but a subscription of some kind is also not unreasonable.

In some ways a subscription is supportable because a device like this is going to require continual surveillance for performance, software updates, security and trouble shooting. OTOH a device like this should be universal enough that a subscription might be $25 or $50 per month or equivalent. Call me a commie if you want, but POC healthcare should not be difficult to afford, especially for a screening device that is NOT a diagnostic (the real diagnostic will be the biopsy results: "The device doesn't confirm whether patients have skin cancer: diagnosis is left to healthcare professionals.").

Just checking the pocket of my labcoat. ;-)

UK government denies China/Russia nuke plant hack claim

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Sellafield / Windscale

Wasn't the Winfield brand owned by Woolworths, now gone bust?

YouTube cares less for your privacy than its revenues

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Cognitive dissonance

More than a decade ago a music forum I used regularly started having adverts. Initially they were just intrusive, but eventually they came to use so much bandwidth and processing power that they rendered the site unusable and would literally bog down the core 2 duo powered Macbook I was using at the time. This prompted my first forays in ad blocking - suddenly the site was completely usable, quick and slick by comparison - there was no going back.

Sadly there's no way to persuade ordinary people to pay for content or software now, that ship has sailed. And advertisers just don't seem to understand that an advert needs to win over the viewer, rather than see the advertiser as the son of a bachelor who is deliberately annoying for attention.

'Small monthly payment' only thing that stands between X and bot chaos, says Musk

Throgmorton Horatio III

I'm amazed no-one seems to have posted this yet......

Shouldn't this platform be called "EX - the social media organisation formerly known as Twitter".

Boffins reckon Mars colony could survive with fewer than two dozen people

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Obvious?

I can hear Golgafrinchams again.

Arc: A radical fresh take on the web browser

Throgmorton Horatio III

"I am a tightwad so I have not yet paid for this."

One of the things I hated about OSX was a requirement to buy 3rd party apps to fix deficiencies in the base OS.

Douglas Adams was right: Telephone sanitizers are terrible human beings

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Real Sanitizers

There is NOTHING about telephone santitsers in either the BBC series or the movie. The person commenting has never read the books, and the Golgafrichams don't appear until the end of The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.

China crisis is a TikToking time bomb

Throgmorton Horatio III

Interestingly apt article on Al Jazeera today.


The issue of rendering - kidnapping - suspects in lands outside US law should be very, very concerning. At least the US is conflicted over what powers the various law enforcement departments have, rather than just having a free hand to disappear its own citizens as we see in some states.

WINE Windows translation layer has matured like a fine... you get the picture

Throgmorton Horatio III

Maybe it's time

Maybe it's time to try Wine again.

For about 10 years I ran a linux box with different distros for fun (Mandrake, Sabayon, Pear, Mint Mate & Cinammon with a few others just on try-out) but went back to Microsoft when I wanted to run Adobe Lightroom and other related applications more than I wanted to play with computers. Wonder if the latest version of Wine would manage those applications OK now?

Meet the merry pranksters who keep the workplace interesting, if not productive

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Reminds me

In the 1980s I worked for a big pharmaceutical company in Kent. They had collected a lot of 'interesting' people who were often a bit eccentric and difficult, even though they were fairly eminent scientists in their own areas. One of these had a lab in the building opposite that we could see into from our lab, and while he was away on holiday his lab was gutted & converted to offices - his technician was redeployed elsewhere in the organisation. On return there was no lab, no technician and no job any more, though I've no idea how anti-personnel dealt with the situation.

In praise of MIDI, tech's hidden gift to humanity

Throgmorton Horatio III
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Re: works mostly...

I too remember MIDI as 'mostly works' with clock and lag issues, but absolutely agree that it's great that the un-broken standard hasn't been fixed. As a guitar player I never really had to get that involved, but I'm still grateful for the standard.

You thought you bought software – all you bought was a lie

Throgmorton Horatio III

The price of free?

" If I have to sacrifice perfect compatibility, what do I get in return?

And the answer to that is good news: you get convenience. Put up with the slight hiccup of some wonky conversions, and you get unlimited free tools, forever, and they work on everything, and they will never lock you out or compel you to pay for an upgrade."

If you're working, sometimes the price of 'free' is more than you can afford.

Serious surfer? How to browse like a pro on Firefox

Throgmorton Horatio III
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And this is so relevant to browser development.

" Brave .... its boss, Brandon Eich, left Mozilla due his controversial backing of legislation against gay marriage."

Fair comment about silently rewriting affiliate links, but is this really relevant to a discussion of browser functionality?

BOFH: Would I lie to you, Boss?

Throgmorton Horatio III


Software-defined silicon is coming for telecom kit later this year

Throgmorton Horatio III

Petty minds

Never mind the ability to switch features on and off remotely, why cripple something capable of so much more? When will businesses make the best that they can, rather than put out mediocrity?

Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio: Too edgy for comfort?

Throgmorton Horatio III

Deja vu?

This looks and sounds tremendously like a version 1 Unibody Macbook.

Sharp edges? Check.

Short battery life? Check.

Denser than expected? Check.

Previous gen Intel CPU? Check.

Hello 2009.

It sounds like a potentially good tool that just needed refining/completion of design.

Teeth marks yield clue to widespread internet outage in Canada

Throgmorton Horatio III

Who would have thought the internet would be brought to a halt by a beaver.

Behind Big Tech's big privacy heist: Deliberate obfuscation

Throgmorton Horatio III

Everybody wants free stuff

And because everyone thinks everything should be free, here we are.

Sick of Windows but can't afford a Mac? Consult our cynic's guide to desktop Linux

Throgmorton Horatio III

Well I for one enjoyed the article

""Ubuntu is an ancient African word that means I can't configure Debian.*""

That made me laugh out loud.

I've been using Linux a long time, mostly for fun, because it helped keep computing feel like a hobby instead of just work. We all have our favourites, and it's good to see our sacred cows slaughtered before our eyes occasionally. .

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Not be happy ... to reinstall my OS from scratch every year or two

Not every month, but I used to have to reinstall both Windows and OSX around every 12-18 months to keep them running efficiently. Certainly a PITA, but it was all part of the maintenance routine, particularly with the Macbook I was using at the time.

Clearview AI fined millions in the UK: No 'lawful reason' to collect Brits' images

Throgmorton Horatio III

Please fine them until the pips squeak.

Rightly or wrongly, people knowingly and willingly give their photos to Google, Facebook etc, but not to this bunch.

The sad state of Linux desktop diversity: 21 environments, just 2 designs

Throgmorton Horatio III

You seem to be doing XXX - here's a framework to make it easier.

"What it is asking is: why are they all the same?"

Humans work iteratively - very few are capable of imagining something from scratch, let alone actually put it together.

The current OS graphical interfaces provide a framework and a guide for using the computer, plus tools for handling tasks. They also provide a visual language that enables communication with the underlying system in a way that means something to analogue individuals.

If we change the GUI then we change the language. Remember the screaming over Gnome 3, or Windows 8? Both attempts to break out of the previous language used.

The present interfaces have been gradually developed and refined over many years to work well for a majority of users. That's not to say that a better interface can't be invented, but the argument for something significantly different would need to be highly compelling for someone to switch.

Palantir summons specter of nuclear conflict as share price collapses

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: really ?

I stopped watching TV more than 40 years ago when it was obvious to me that it was actively being used to shape the thinking of the British population.

My view was confirmed by the inception of the UK national lottery, where all sorts of people who had never previously been interested suddenly discovered an urge to buy scratchcards and all manner of money-wasting similar things. The change in behaviour of ordinary people was astonishing, and showed the power of TV to influence people.

Windows 11's tablet-friendly taskbar pulled from Insider builds

Throgmorton Horatio III

Have they been looking for a clue?

"If only Microsoft similarly listened to feedback back when it sought to push a touch-first operating system at customers."

I knew a Microsoftie through another forum. It seems they had performed quite extensive testing of W8 with 'ordinary users' and the arrangements in that version were well received and easily understood. He was really quite certain about this, and was very upset that everyone though it was the un-tested tramsmash that the world+dog perceived it to be.

There must have been some kind of primer and pre-participation training that heavily skewed the results, but somehow didn't get incorporated into the introduction process that one sometimes gets with a fresh OS installation. It's always been a source of wonder that Apple can get the introduction to a new install so right and M$ get it so wrong, as though no-one in marketing would look at the competition and think "That's a really good idea - we'll do it better next time" instead of presenting candy crush crap etc in start.

Mozilla browser Firefox hits the big 100

Throgmorton Horatio III

Long may firefox continue indeed.

Why the Linux desktop is the best desktop

Throgmorton Horatio III
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I'm largely OS agnostic - I don't believe that any one system is THE one, but they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

My main personal use for windows is photographic software from Adobe, On1 and DXO. There are shareware/free alternatives, but they work differently and for my uses cannot acheive what I want with as much ease as the software I already have.

I also run a Linux box. This has been through several iterations, experimenting with Mandrake & openSUSE before settling on Sabayon for several years (rolling distributions aren't stable and I got fed up with stuff getting broken regularly) followed by Pear Linux (lovely interface, designer hired by Facebook IIRC & required to stop distro) and then Mint Mate & Cinnamon. The LB doesn't get much use these days, because having most things on a single computer is just easier in the end, when IT isn't my job.

Until last year I also ran a Mac. Good at what it does well, but a sluggish PITA that's restrictive and claustrophobic.

The thing that keeps microsoft office in dominance is compatibility. Produce a word document and you know it will look just the same in Tokyo, belgrade or New Delhi. Likewise Excel files will display correctly. OO/LO does an excellent job, but if you want to be sure your doc will be just right in front of a customer then you have to send a pdf, and there are many times that's not acceptable. Sure you can run office under Wine or use web versions, but MO is likely here to stay, and that's not at all bad unless you hate Microsoft.

The time you solved that months-long problem in 3 seconds

Throgmorton Horatio III

In 2006 we flew out as a family to meet friends in Canada, changing planes in Toronto. We had brought apples for personal consumption in transit, so naturally did not state we were bringing food into the country on the immigration form. Cue sniffer dog pulling us from the queue, then being threatened with $2000 fines while our luggage was taken apart. A dumb mistake, but it WAS obvious that 3 clean and shiny apples in hand luggage for 3 people were for personal consumption.

We did however do much better than the guy with dreads whose luggage was spread across a couple of tables and who was being interviewed with menaces.

On the way back we had yet more trouble, this time in Sask airport. We had been given a bottle of home-made wine by friends, and placed it in checked luggage. Apparently it could not travel with us on the plane because it did not have an official wine production seal and serial number on the bottle.

Never forget the Candians are partly French. I love Canada and have been several times, but depending on locality, Canada isn't a kind of easy-going America without the guns.

Microsoft slides ads into Windows Insiders' File Explorer

Throgmorton Horatio III

One might wish....

Perhaps we need to boycott the advertisers.

Imagine if everyone decided to NOT buy something because they saw it advertised? The whole house-of-cards business model would crumble and people might actually start paying for the services they use directly instead of through a leeching layer.

About as much chance of that as the incumbent in the Kremlin apologising to Ukraine and compensating all its people, but it doesn't stop you wishing it could happen.

Proprietary neural tech you had surgically implanted? Parts shortage

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: The joys of modifying windows sounds...

This was the comment I came here specifically to make. And the 'my mind is going' on shutdown.

I miss the glory days of computers, when the world was young and stupid stuff like this was still new and fun. Now I agree with Dabbsy that "Today, I prefer my devices to hold their tongue.". How dull we have become.

Why should I pay for that security option? Hijacking only happens to planes

Throgmorton Horatio III

In the mid 2000s I worked in the UK for a diagnostics company based in Texas. I'd registered a domain for myself in order to have a sensible and permanent email address, and while the search site was open I idly plugged in the company domain name. Which was available! The domain got bought on the spot 'just in case' and enquiries made back to the US - seems they'd just 'forgotten' to renew registration - and I transferred ownership back to them without any thanks at the time.

A couple of years later the company was sold to a major player, and the owner was kind enough to share some of the profits of the sale with the staff - he was quite generous, and I'd like to think that on this occasion a good deed did go unpunished.

BOFH: You drive me crazy... and I can't help myself

Throgmorton Horatio III

Classic stuff. Apparently no-one ended up in the carpet - is BOFH getting soft?

The future: Windows streaming through notched Apple screens

Throgmorton Horatio III

It's not just weird office apps

I process photos, using a non-subscription version of Adobe Lightroom on Windows 10, and do not want software as a service. I also have a Macbook, but find Apple's walled garden claustrophobic. If windows goes this way, I can see myself running an obsolete version in a virtual machine under Linux, regardless of the hardware being offered.

TBH I don't think many users have cared for a long time what their hardware is - most of us just want something that works adequately quickly with enough storage space and reasonable stability without interference from the OS supplier. The direction Microsoft are headed in is likely to make users look for alternatives.

NHS Digital exposes hundreds of email addresses after BCC blunder copies in entire invite list to 'Let's talk cyber' event

Throgmorton Horatio III

This is practically routine

Some years ago I did training at PHE Porton to be part of the team that tested samples for ebola in Africa. I received emails from PHE with attached spreadsheets containing detailed personal information (IIRC name, address, telephone number, possibly age - it was a while back). This was shortly followed by an instruction to delete the information because it was a mistake. They then sent out followup emails at least twice more containing the same information again.

One can but shrug.

Open-source RAW image editor Darktable releases major update to version 3.6 – and it's very accessible

Throgmorton Horatio III

Image processors and pixel editors

It's worth distinguishing between Darktable, Raw Therapee, Lightroom etc and Photoshop, GIMP and similar.

Darktable etc are designed for image processing, where the file is handled non-destructively and no changes are made to the underlying file. Processing is much like original darkroom work with dodging and burning, tweaks to contrast, colour adjustments and some relatively simple masking. Some processing applications go a little further with masks etc but the approach is still the same. Adjustments to each image are stored separately either in a database or in sidecar files.

Photoshop, GIMP and similar are pixel-level editors designed to make fundamental and irreversible changes to the image that are baked in permanently when layers are merged prior to export. Some applications will allow layers to be retained and even edits undone if layers are not merged before saving the image as a .psd file, but this is not the way these editors were designed to work originally.

I'll be interested to take a look at the new Darktable.

2021: A Bork Odyssey. Is it remake of Disney's The Black Hole or explorer.exe being shown the door?

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: The Black Hole

Starring Ernest Borknine.

God bless this mess: Study says UK's Christian beliefs had 'important' role in Brexit

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: Love your neighbour

France has been discovered? Who knew?

Huge if true: If you show people articles saying that Firefox is faster than Chrome, they'll believe it

Throgmorton Horatio III

Perception is all.

As a salesman I used to work with once told me "perception is reality". Few investigate any further than whether it will work for them (actually many don't even investigate that far).

Also worth noting that people buy from people - if they trust/prefer a specific browser maker then they will use that browser regardless of apparent performance advantages or otherwise.

Windows' cloudy future: That Chrome OS advantage is Google's to lose

Throgmorton Horatio III

Pun intended?

"eclectic motor on the driveshaft."

That would certainly be an unusual choice of motive power, no doubt driven by irony.

How do you save an ailing sales pitch? Just burn down the client's office with their own whiteboard

Throgmorton Horatio III

They shipped it so it MUST be OK to use, surely?

I used to work for a US-based Diagnostics business with an office in Germany, and had to fly over to set up & install a piece of lab kit that the US had shipped over for them to use. The analyser had a voltage switch, no problem, and the computer likewise. However the printer...... Long story short, the guys in the German office wanted a printer to use with the machine, and when I suggested that the cheap inkjet might not cope with European voltages the title was quoted to me. After the magic smoke gratefully escaped they acknowledged that the answer was, in fact, no after all.

Backers of Planet Computers' Astro Slide 5G phone furious after shock specs downgrade

Throgmorton Horatio III

Another story from Douglas Adams?

There's something very Hitchikers Guide about all this, from the bosses name through marketing vs reality gap to the involvement of mega-governments not noticing the fallout their battles are having on ordinary people. The only thing missing is someone to clean the phone itself. ;-)

Apple's M1: the fastest and bestest ever silicon = revolution? Nah, there's far more interesting stuff happening in tech that matters to everyone

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: What I do locally matters too.

Apple sell hardware to end users. The article appeared to be snippy about the way they were failing to address areas of computing outside their core business. However, although the basic approach they've taken (SoC with all parts closely linked for very high data transfer speeds while using less power) seems to be working out very well in that scenario, it doesn't require much imagination to see that a similar apporach might usefully be deployed in those other areas too.

Normally El Reg's articles about Apple are spot on, but for once this was a bit of a miss.

Throgmorton Horatio III

What I do locally matters too.

No everyone works 'in the cloud' or uses AWS etc other than as an end storage point. There may be far more interesting problems that need solving, but the guys processing pictures held on a local drive in Adobe Lightroom won't give a wet slap about those compared to how smoothly and precisely their brush applies a mask. Granted, if you have to work over a network (as I do) that the performance of the individual machine is almost irrelevant, but many do not do that.

I'm no Apple lover, but there are plenty of people around who would rather have a fast, power-efficient and cost effective SoC based computer, even if it means buying an Apple machine. Don't get so tied up with 'bigger picture' stuff that you overlook the importance of the smaller one.

KDE maintainers speak on why it is worth looking beyond GNOME

Throgmorton Horatio III

Been a while since I last used KDE (probably either with Sabayon or openSUSE) so it would be interesting to see if they really have managed to make it lightweight now. Haven't really fiddled much with Linux over the last couple of years since computers became tools instead of a hobby.

Digital pregnancy testing sticks turn out to have very analogue internals when it comes to getting results

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: This device is far less unreasonable than it seems.

"Is there any inherent reason why a smartphone camera and flash can't be used for determine the colour of the test strip?

The test strip can be printed with colour calibration swatches, which an app can interpret."

Probably the issue is down to reliability and consistency of smartphone cameras & flashes plus, once again, the human holding it not being able to judge the distance, angle etc from the strip. I'm sure a simple cardboard foldable jig could be generated for <$1 to solve the latter problems, but having to get the app passed by the various regulatory authorities around the world *for every phone type likely to be used* including dealing with those containing a faulty camera/light might be a little daunting.

I can see why a maker would use a conventional technology that's fully under their control: the onus for reliability lays completely with the test manufacturer and there could be no getting away with "it should work fine most of the time". Diagnostic products are a bit like aeroplanes, and are treated as likely to cause life-changing harm if they fail.

Better late than never... Google Chrome to kill off 'tiny' number of mobile web ads that gobble battery, CPU power

Throgmorton Horatio III

Re: So nice of you, Google

I used Brave for a while on the (android) phone. After each session and ad would appear in a notification bar at the top of the screen.

Vivaldi seems just as fast and I haven't noticed any ads.