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* Posts by Charlie Clark

6414 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

Why Google won't break a sweat about EU ruling

Charlie Clark
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Some change is inevitable

Having achieved market dominance I suspect Google may well be more than happy to change some things, especially some of the exclusive licensing deals that it had with manufacturers. It will still be able to offer rebates for Android + Gapps. And it might even welcome the odd actively maintained fork, possibly even as a prelude to letting other people manage Android OS while it focuses on moving up the value chain with Play Services and, I suspect, a heap of Assistant-based stuff.

Case might also set a precedent for Apple's ridiculous app restrictions. Why shouldn't people be able to have Chrome on IOS? Or, dare we wish, a different app store?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Tooooooo Slooooooooooooooow

Why it (apparently) takes years to analyse a EULA or decide whether some blindingly obvious business practice is anticompetitive in a why that a blind man could see is completely beyond me.

It's par for the course for any cartel investigation: they all always take years. Things can go faster if the industry takes the lead and helps compile the dossier.

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Bonkers Azure bookings give Microsoft a record-breaking $110bn year

Charlie Clark
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Re: Huge revenues explained

For some companies the move from CapEx to OpEx will more than justify the costs of making the change. The other major savings are in finally getting truely thin clients, ie. buying and supporting much less hardware.

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Charlie Clark
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Actually, the margins indicate that the market is open to the competition that is coming. I don't think breaking up is going to be required but it is likely that we'll see requests for some kind of guarantee that you can move from one provider to the other. Smart CIOs will be putting this directly in their contracts.

Also, cloudy revenues for Microsoft now mean lower Personal Computing revenues tomorrow.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Rebirth of the phoenix

But there are some things the AWS platform does better than Azure… and something that Azure does better than AWS. Enterprises prefer to have as little configuration as possible which is why some of them prefer Azure for some workloads.

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Elon Musk, his arch nemesis DeepMind swear off AI weapons

Charlie Clark
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Re: Meaningless.

It's a figleaf along with the rest of the meaningless code of conduct statements that do-gooders hold up for everyone. The ML genie is out of the bottle.

DARPA probably has lists of people working at the tech companies that it won't give any work to anyway and has more than enough companies more than happy to work on whatever crazy schemes they can come up with and companies like Raytheon, for the right price, happy to build them the weapons.

I remember a documentary with one of the people who worked on the neutron bomb and he was absolutely convinced that it was right to make a weapon that kills people and leaves buildings untouched.

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Google Cloud Platform reins in its trigger-happy account-axing AI cops

Charlie Clark
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Don't think PayPal was running neural networks back then…

Anyway, the aim would be to train the ML to learn from classification by meatware. Knowing how much Google looks at the numbers it wouldn't surprise me if they were aware of the number of false positives and happier with it than the other way round. The risks for Google are not directly related to fraud but the potential regulatory sanctions and PR damage if it turns out to be hosting a heap of scammers or hackers.

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Fork it! Google fined €4.34bn over Android, has 90 days to behave

Charlie Clark
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Geez, it's an example FFS, are you a fanboi or just a right Charlie?

It's a terrible example. A better one might be something like the consortium that bought Here from Nokia, or software houses specialised on AOSP.

Google might make billions selling what it knows about users to advertisers but Amazon does this by screwing suppliers, employees and the taxpayer wherever it can – okay so they all do that – but there really isn't a lot to like about Amazon outside its digital properties.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

Let's see what Google get fined for non compliance

I don't think it will get that far. Google has seen this coming and has presumably come up with something that it hopes with satisy the European Commission, and other competition authorities.

Its dominance in search is not just down to strongarm tactics but also a good product and anticipating market developments, including regulation: Google rolled out well-thought out and reasonably well-made privacy statements and controls years before the shit really hit the fan.

I'm very wary of the concentration of personal data by all these companies but of the lot, I think Google is the most attuned what regulators want to hear. But I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Big fines are just a cost of doing big business

If you compare this fine with the one recently levied in the UK on Facebook I think you'll appreciate that there are differences. Plus, non-compliance will lead to daily fines of up to 5% or global turnover. This is definitely enough to get Google to comply.

I suspect that, given a choice, many users will happily install and use Chrome, GMail, Google Maps, etc. The comparison with Microsoft and Internet Explorer isn't perfect but still interesting: Microsoft had largely stopped working on the browser and was actively attempting to prevent the development of HTML; even though it's market leader, Google is still actively developing Chrome, which it hopes at some point will become the runtime of choice.

I also think that Google's own Project Treble may have been designed with this decision in mind: offers users the prospect of receiving updates more timely but also cements the role of Google Play Services even as it makes AOSP more attractive to some manufacturers.

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Charlie Clark
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She said manufacturers were interested in licensing Amazon's FireOS Android.

Replace a Google-controlled ecosystem with one controlled by Amazon? Colour me unconvinced…

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Official: The shape of the smartphone is changing forever

Charlie Clark
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The notch must die.

It almost certainly will in everything apart from Apple's devices; Apple is the only company that has a real investment in it as a design feature.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Taller and narrower is good news

Get it via Ebay, and pay with a UK credit card, making sure its a UK seller (ie grey import).

Especially if you're buying for someone else this is terrible advice. Okay if you're buying for yourself but otherwise get from a reliable sales channel.

Maybe Xiaomi will invest some of the money from the IPO to establish its own sales and support channels outside Asia.

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Y'know... Publishing tech specs may be fair use, says appeals court

Charlie Clark
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Re: Ok, put it another way...

Who will ensure these standards are kept current if no one will pay for them?

That isn't the issue: many countries have well-maintained legal specification that are open access. The legal issue is ensuring that laws, including specifications they refer to, are freely available to all.

Indeed it is often only the publicly available specifications that are well-maintained over time: companies invariably lose interest in maintaining specifications that do not directly further their own commercial interests.

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Shouting lager, lager... Carlsberg's beer AI can now tell pilsners apart

Charlie Clark
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Unhappy

Carlsberg and Heineken are also doing a very good job of producing consistently bland and non-descript piss and by their sales, it looks like the public tends to agree with them!

Meanwhile in the US, depending on where you are (ie. outside Trumpistan), you can get some very good beers.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Someone has to tell you...

Nearly all bottom-fermented beers are horrible, sort of implied by the "bottom-feeding" yeast type… ;--)

Top-fermented for me all the time! This is also the best way to experiment with "wild" flavours and how beer started.

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Skype Classic headed for the chopping block on September 1

Charlie Clark
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I abandoned Skype updates after it was bought my E-Bay – version 2, I think and entirely once Microsoft abandoned the old networking structure and forced everything through its servers. Can't say I miss it. VoIP means that Skype rarely offers any financial advantage over a standard phone call and for sharing there are a plethora of WebRTC clients.

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Python creator Guido van Rossum sys.exit()s as language overlord

Charlie Clark
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Re: I like Python and C

Marketing wins over good tech every time, and then the better tech disappears from view, coz the marketing worked so well.

Tech that is "good enough" is likely to win through but I think we've seen also seen examples of good technology winning through in the end. For example, similar to the VHS versus Beta battle, the microchannel architecture of the PS/2 was most definitely better than the ISA of the PC, but it wasn't that much better, plus IBM didn't want to repeat the BIOS problem so they didn't want to licence it. A few years later when a replacment for ISA became essential we got VESA local bus and PCI. VESA was first to market and the devices were cheaper but PCI won out. Okay, Intel's backing did help. Intel was also behind the push of USB for everything but at some point jumped ship to back Apple's FireWire follow-up that is "USB in name only". But Intel came a cropper by betting on Sprint and WiMax: not sufficiently good enough to get networks to dump LTE for it. The same goes for trying to convince the developers of embedded devices that x86 can do the same work as an ARM with the same power.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I like Python and C

Frankly, I never had an issue with the segmented address space.

x86's memory addressing and "context switching" chained CPU performance to the 1970s for decades. Intel had admirable processes for a dreadful architecture. But, as with VHS over Beta (feel free to add your own examples), it's often not the best technology which succeeds initially. Eventually, however, the better technology is likely to be adopted.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I like Python and C

And it wasn't really 640K, it was more like 704K, if you knew what you were doing.

Like running DOS inside OS/2…

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Charlie Clark
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It should never have happened in the first place. It was always going to cause problems

Some major changes in the language were inevitable after the introduction of new-style classes. Python 3 was more or less inevitable but the release was very badly handled. Thankfully, the core developers realised this at some point and did something to fix it. It's no longer an issue for the vast majority of developers.

Smirk. I've seen plenty of people get into deep, deep trouble with Python chasing idiotic bugs long after deployment

And I could point to a long list of projects that were saved by migrating to Python…

Also there's the mad, lunatic idea of having a package manager as part of the language installation

This is unavoidable because there is no installer that works for all OSes. I maintain a popular library and much as I moan about Python's packaging I'm so glad I don't have to package it for all the different Linux distros, MacOS, Windows.

It makes deploying Python application highly painful.

Strangely I rarely hear this, in fact usually the opposite. Deployment is such a huge problem that there are entire conferences devoted to the infrastructure.

Python on Linux does some things subtly differently to Python on Windows.

Python itself doesn't do things differently but invariably the different OSes have different APIs, file handling springs to mind. It's the same for any language that interfaces directly with the OS.

I'll be sticking to my C, C++, C#.

I'm happy for you. Why can't you be happy for people who, despite your predictions of doom, are successful with Python?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I like Python and C

Some design decisions were, in hindsight, wrong. ‘print’ - statement rather than ‘print()’ - expression, for example . Means you can’t ‘[print(x) for c in x]’.

I actually want my print statement back. Why on earth would I ever wrap a print call in a comprehension? Never ever felt even the urge to do this in the past. And if I ever did, two lines would be fine.

Code that works on both 2 and 3 requires minimal changes if you can start with 3-style. Then it's really just unicode literals, ints instead of longs. It's a bit more work if you have extensions. All in all less work than changing a major component.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I like Python and C

What I don't understand is why a language allows you to do things in two different ways

Python doesn't really like this. Hence, the claim from import this, that There should be one-- and preferably only one --obvious way to do it.

Comprehensions and multiline expressions are more than just functionally equivalent, hence I wouldn't expect flame wars about them, but otherwise there is a sense of what is Pythonic. It's not canonical and open for debate, but also considered a value in itself.

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Charlie Clark
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I think a lot of the more recent PEPs have been syntactic sugar, hence the pushback. And maybe it is time for Guido to take more of a backseat. I've met him too a couple of times and he is a really nice guy and very smart.

Often the biggest win is using generators (or equivalents) with memory use being Python's biggest challenge.

For those increasing hordes using Python with TensorFlow, et al., it's just noise.

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Charlie Clark
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Any language that depends on differing amounts of whitespace to alter the program is stupid.

Python itself doesn't really need the whitespace, they syntax enforcement is for the users.

Compile-time type-checking is now optionally available for those few projects that need it. Books have been written on whether compile-time type-checking brings any advantages over memory optimisation.

Unit testing won't really pick up type errors either, you need fuzzing for that.

The 2 to 3 schism is now largely over. Most new projects are using Python 3, 3.5+ finally brings tangible improvements, 2.7 will be maintained until at least 2020. Projects can coexist for 2 and 3 with fairly minimal changes. That said, it's an investment with no immediate return for many older libraries. But rinse and repeat the discussion for any major release in any popular language.

Face it, you're a grumpy old git who resents the success that many people have because of Python.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Here's a PEP

Try import braces…

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GitHub to Pythonistas: Let us save you from vulnerable code

Charlie Clark
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Re: What?

Github underestimated how much the OS community dislikes Micro$oft.

The investors made a packet. That's how Silicon Valley works. Mind you, I suspect that most people won't care especially if they get more free stuff.

Personally, I've always preferred Bitbucket to Github but think that none of the providers are indispensable.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: What?

Not everything written by MS is a pile of crap. Yes, Windows is hobbled by shit done years ago but to bang about this all the time is to miss the point.

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Charlie Clark
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Looks like they just check the use of libraries used by the code. While the Python language has very few known vulnerabilities, there are a multitude of libraries out there that might have them, for example the handling of some entities in the various XML libraries.

But there are other static code analysis tools that will do this and more: Sonar, Code Climate (or whatever it's now called). Personally, I really like Quantified Code which was also released as open source.

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ZTE sends 400 million hostages, gets back in business stateside

Charlie Clark
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Re: @DerGoat

Dumb enough to be an American

When I look around at modern democracies I don't think stupidity is limited to the US. Trump, like Berlusconi, is a good showman and that, pace Gil Scott Heron, is what a lot of people seem to want.

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Charlie Clark
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Facepalm

US libertarians and conservative Republicans is how sick we have been that recent presidents we have elected

And whose fault would that be then?

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Charlie Clark
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The international building site

Presumably, Trump did things like this in the past: you want to do the cabling the new building? then pay may 2%…

The Chinese played along for the theatre. The money sounds a lot until you see ZTE's balance sheet. It's like the fines imposed on the banks: great headlines but generally tax-deductibe charges on massive balance sheets.

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Farewell then, Slack: The grown-ups have arrived

Charlie Clark
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Thumb Up

Have an extra upvote for…

For Slack is a business, and Teams is a feature.

Slack has also done some acquisitions including some fucking awful screen sharing and audio features.

E-mail is great because it's largely just a protocol and you can always keep local copies of your e-mails. It's also great because it works best as text/plain: everytime someone sends a formatted e-mail, or a top-reply a kitten dies.

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One two three... Go: Long Pig Microsoft avoids cannibalising Surface

Charlie Clark
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£380 will get you the 4GB RAM / 64 GB Flash machine

Need to cough up £510 for a 8GB / 128 GB combo.

Obviously, swapping to Flash should still make it a zippy little device but from what I've seen of Windows 10 or whatever they're pushing 4GB really seems like the lower limit.

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Happy 10th birthday, Evernote: You have survived Google and Microsoft. For your next challenge...

Charlie Clark
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OneNote is being folded into Microsoft Teams

OneNote always felt like it was a piece of Sharepoint hiding in a desktop app: similar controls, just a slightly different GUI. And useless for ideas management. But Microsoft's strategy has always been to provide just enough functionality, and promise more, so that CIOs decide to stick with them rather than go with the competition.

Skype, which is finally reasonably stable, is also due to be rolled into Teams in a (desperate?) attempt to stop companies switching to Slack (pretty meh in many respects). Presumably, the GitHub purchase is supposed to fit into this strategy as well.

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Put WhatsApp, Slack, admin privileges in a blender and what do you get? Wickr

Charlie Clark
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200 paying customers?

Sounds like you can't do anything without VC money. El Reg covered Wickr some years back but the market has moved on since then. There is now a choice of secure messengers: Signal, Wire, Threema, etc., with Signal and Wire being open source.

But for enterprises there is still BlackBerry, which has the advantage of established user base and toolset.

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Dudes. Blockchain. In a phone. It's gonna smash the 'commoditization of humanity' or something

Charlie Clark
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Along with a good analysis of the problems of anonymous and decentralised infrastructure: you won't know it's been subverted until it's too late.

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Google offers to leave robocallers hanging on the telephone

Charlie Clark
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I'm curious; what's the good reason? Why would you call someone if you're not willing to let them know who you are?

I have a couple of friends who are ex-directory. For some this is because they have a prominent position, lawyers, doctors, etc., and don't want their private phone number to be publicly available. Some women also go ex-directory after receiving nuisance calls, no, not those of the PPI kind. With my girlfriend it's down to the exchange or the network as she never requested it; we just know that the wiring in the house is pretty damn old.

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Charlie Clark
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The detail is in the implementation

The platform is identifying who gets through to the user…

Blocking calls without an ID is easy enough. But I think this is designed to foil robo-callers that call you first and connect the sales droid only when you pick up, ie. it will identify the time spent switching the line.

I think this is pretty clever if combined with calls without an ID.

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Charlie Clark
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Won't work here: a couple of people I know, including my girlfriend, have no caller ID for good reason.

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Big contenders in the broadband chart this week, but who will be #1? Well, not Britain

Charlie Clark
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This sounds like one of the typical situations where average has very little bearing on reality

True, much better to use something like quartiles for this.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I've heard of a story of FTTH in Turkey

I'm not sure of the relevance of the comparison.

Broadband speed has a lot to do with the age of the local infrastructure, particularly in a property but also in the street. In many OECD countries cabling in the house to the next exchange is still copper because it's expensive to rip it out and replace. In many developing economies the infrastructure, especially between exchange and building will be newer, eg. fibre or coax, meaning faster broadband from the word go.

Yes, the UK dragged its feet over upgrade the network and particularly fluffed privatisation of both BT and Cable & Wireless but other countries didn't do that much better. But I think the most important aspect is that you're talking about an unlicensed connection. What redress does the customer have if a flunky decides the connection has to go?

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iPhone 8 now outsells X, and every other phone

Charlie Clark
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Re: So, the regular run of the mill iPhone 8 ...

Apple have got things badly wrong?

Of course it doesn't. The devil is in the detail which is sort of missing from the report. Apple still sells lots of phones with nice fat margins and makes juicy profits as a result. But it does make mistakes in the product mix (the coloured ones spring to mind) and the X has led to fewer sales than some anticipated for a "super cycle", but where it finally admitted that Samsung has the better display (OLED), charging (wireless) and case technology (waterproof). The X isn't a disaster but that it's the first time that the flagship model has failed to sell more than the "me-too" version. It's also not the viblen version that is designed to be so expensive that only a few people will buy it.

Apple has a large and very loyal base. It also has many customers who feel they cannot leave because of their investment in apps and, particularly in music. But it would be a mistake for them to think that they can rely on this. The market is moving on from phone features to services. Apple is well-placed here because of its large and loyal base, but is losing to Spotify and needs to counter Netflix quickly. Once consumers become more interested in the services and know that they can switch manufacturers then Apple will indeed have a fight on its hands. But, no, this is not yet another prophecy of their doom.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: @AC It's had its day.

OTOH, if you plan to trade in or resell an older high-end phone…

Strange decision when buying something to use. FWIW this is indicative of the kind of flawed logic we all use to buy more expensive items (including houses). Just because an object retains its value better does not make economic sense; as with cars, the real winners are those who buy second-hand.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Never take a first batch product

Also, I've had the phone a few times in the lakes of sweden, doing videos of the fish. You'd have called me mad a couple of years ago, if I'd have suggested that

You're still crazy doing it with such expensive kit when good, reliably waterproof phones that are much cheaper have been around for years. I wouldn't worry so much about dropping the phone in water as such, more about on rocks, or in a muddy bit. But it's your money…

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Apple emits iPhone cop-block update – plus iOS, macOS, Safari patches

Charlie Clark
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El Capitan seems full of bugs

Can't remember so many bug fixes over the previous few years. Normally Apple stops bothering once it's prepping the next major release.

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Web biz DomainFactory confirms: We were hacked in January 2018

Charlie Clark
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Re: Schufa?

Checking SCHUFA scores is routine in Germany. Note that it's one of the reasons why we get to pay by invoice rather than some kind of dodgy online payment provider.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: STOP storing personal/sensitive data in plain text

Inasmuchas the breach wasn't related to access to the database I'm not sure how this would help. The problem was exposing the information via some kind of feed.

Encryption is good but doesn't solve all the problems.

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The Notch contagion is spreading slower than phone experts thought

Charlie Clark
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Re: Charge by wire

I don't see the point of wireless charging

Use in a domestic setting might be moot, but there are plenty of settings where it makes a lot of sense, especially public spaces where charging is provided as a matter of courtesy such as airport lounges. The cabling for charging mats is simpler and less fragile than providing more powerpoints, though obviously USB-ports are also good if also a potential security risk.

If I'm travelling for any period where I think I need a device while it's charging I use a powerbank.

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Charlie Clark
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The iPhone X and Asus Zenfone 5 literally

Have an extra downvote for cretinous and inaccurate use of the word literally. I mean, literally, what has the word ever down to you to deserve such abuse?

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