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* Posts by Charlie Clark

5509 posts • joined 16 Apr 2007

UK spy court ruled immune from judicial review – for now

Charlie Clark
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ECJ will get to rule on this

Treesaregreen and her merry little band of fascists (ruling by the stick and intimidation) will probably have to watch this get referred to the ECJ whose judgment they will then have to respect and possibly even act into law before they can think about repealing it… Fuckwits.

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A certain millennial turned 30 recently: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel

Charlie Clark
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One of MS's better developments

Excel is good for spreadsheets and the 2016 version has some big performance improvements.

However, it's increasingly being used for reporting only with analysts switching to Jupyter + Pandas + Matplotlib for analysis and putting the results in an Excel file for further consumption. As the maintainer of an Excel library I'm proud to be contributing to this development.

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Munich council finds €49.3m for Windows 10 embrace

Charlie Clark
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I think this might be the case in France where IT is centrally coordinated. But won't work in Germany where it's each council for itself.

There was work done back in 2003 to justify the initial switch and there was the hope that "if you install Linux the developers will come". Didn't happen so time to pull the plug. Now, if they'd started by simply moving to OpenOffice and sponsoring that and other projects things might have worked out differently. MS doesn't make a lot out of selling the OS, it's Office that makes the money.

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Charlie Clark
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Microsoft's Germany subsidiary happens to be registered in Munich.

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BOFH: The trouble with, er, windows installs

Charlie Clark
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Coat

Mine's the red Star Trek crew member's jacket…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Database Normalisation Warning

So, no unfortunately loose and unshielded electrical cabling? Or unreliable light switches? Pzzzt!

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This is peak AI: Bot to guest edit Radio 4's Today programme

Charlie Clark
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Re: Politicians are already Bots, preprogammed, script driven

Boris Johnson (TM) Joke Module, has a random Latin and poetry glitch, not fixable

Don't forget the philandering and condescension…

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Charlie Clark
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Bah, humbug!

The Today Programme has been shit for years ever since they adopted the confrontational approach, which is easy to prep for. I miss Brian Redhead, RIP.

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Permissionless data slurping: Why Google's latest bombshell matters

Charlie Clark
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Re: Not GDPR relevent

Schrems original motivation was as I explained - permissionless tracking.

Maybe, but I don't see the two things being as legally equivalent. But IANAL. This close to GDPR day they'd pretty stupid if they were collecting "personally identifiable data" without permission.

I think Google's collecting the data for other reasons like footfall analysis and possibly even network planning. I noticed recently that it is starting to say how long people spend in certain shops.

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Charlie Clark
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Stop

Not GDPR relevent

The Quartz article makes it clear that Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers—even when location services are disabled—and sending that data back to Google.

The comparison with Schrems' case against Facebook over data protection isn't valid. Doesn't mean the procedure isn't suspicious just that it's not about data protection.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Are we surprised?

I'm not sure the UK has particularly more CCTV cameras than anywhere else.

Compared with other European countries it certainly does. CCTV schemes are always sold as crime prevention schemes because this is popular. They are at best aids to crime solving. But usually they serve as excuses for lower head counts in police forces and invasions of privacy.

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When it comes to ML, reports of JavaScript's death are exaggerated

Charlie Clark
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Re: any of the random inconsistencies that Javascript throws up.

Proving the poster above you's point exactly. You understand Python and think it's excusable, you don't understand JavaScript so dismiss it.

What do I think is excusable? Using a variable that is not in scope will raise a NameError and not a SyntaxError. If you find yourself wanting to use global in Python you're most probably doing something wrong but the language treats you like an adult and doesn't try and guess what you might mean.

Python's scoping combined with it's mutable types can cause problems in class variables.

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Charlie Clark
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I completely agree. I quite like Python, but don't understand why it doesn't insist that variables are explicitly declared.

Because it has strong and dynamic typing. This was a design decision related to Python's target audience of non-programmers. As a consequence there is a strong preference for descriptive variable names. Static typing is still considered relevant only for compiler optimisations.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Edinburgh Uni and Standard ML

And I read "Markup Language" every time I see ML. It's usually best to avoid these abbreviations wherever there is a chance for ambiguity. But journalism 101 says in any case that you should define the abbreviation at the first use in a text. Sub-ed should have picked this up.

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Charlie Clark
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Automatically creating a local variable when I have forgotten to specify that as 'global' or have typed a variable name wrongly has driven me nuts using Python.

Sounds like your problems are more than with Python. global does exist but you will never need it. Like exec and eval it's there for a reason but the overwhelming majority of Python code will never need it.

Whitespace or braces is personal preference but in team work whitespace is much easier to enforce.

At a programming level Python can be criticised for dynamic typing, memory use, the global interpreter lock, speed but for any of the random inconsistencies that Javascript throws up.

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Charlie Clark
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There's nothing terrible in JavaScript, nothing at all.

There have always been problems with JavaScript. Hardly surprising for something that was cooked up as quickly as it was. More surprising perhaps, is how far it has managed to get despite these limitations.

But the writing for ECMAScript is on the wall: Web Assembly. Most core JS developers, those that work on the language, seem to agree that they've come about as far as they can with it without a major rewrite and if you're going to rewrite a programming language…

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Charlie Clark
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Wrong-headed

But where does that leave JavaScript? Like Python, it been at the forefront of web development for about 20 years

For most of that time they've been doing very different things. And, while I'm a Python fan, I don't think it would be correct to claim Python has been at the forefront of web development at all.

Python is more suited to machine learning than Javascript because of the eco-system and libraries that have grown up in the scientific community over the years. Python isn't great for machine learning because there are TensorFlow bindings but because there is NumPy, SciPy, Pandas, etc. Python's syntax is also very popular with the non-developer types, who've suddenly found themselves being classed as "data scientists". This combined with the extensive libraries of a general purpose language makes Python eminently suitable. Node.js simply can't compete in this area and why should it? It's great for some stuff though its existence is now threatened by the agreement of the major browser developers to support web assembly. An article on this would have been far more interesting than the collection of straw men in this article.

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Phone fatigue takes hold: SIM-onlys now top UK market

Charlie Clark
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People have worked out it's cheaper

Real incomes have declined significantly over the last 10 years. Experience shows that people will spend (sometimes money don't have) on things that give them immediate pleasure, if they're required. A new phone doesn't do that anything like as much as it did, hence the money gets spent on something else: music and tv subscriptions spring to mind as worthy replacements.

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Wait, did Oracle tip off world to Google's creepy always-on location tracking in Android?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Meanwhile in other news…

Google have nothing apart from your location...

Sure, but I was referring solely to the address of the cell masts. Anything else is GDPR relevant and Google is smart enough to want to avoid any potential turnover-based sanctions.

But mobile phone companies might start to worry about what Google might do with all that telemetry: knowing where the masts are and how many people are in any particular cell at any time. Google's already shown that selling advertising is not the only business it wants to be in.

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Charlie Clark
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Meanwhile in other news…

Oracle has been redrafting its contracts to be fairer to customers. Oh no, it isn't.

As long as Google is not transmitting personally identifiable data from the users then I don't think there is much of a case here.

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Linus Torvalds 'sorry' for swearing, blames popularity of Linux itself

Charlie Clark
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The comparison with the US constitution is misplaced and not helpful.

Security should have priority in development. If this leads to things breaking post-merge then there is a problem with the code review process. Something to which Linus is essentially admitting.

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Uber: Hackers stole 57m passengers, drivers' info. We also bribed the thieves $100k to STFU

Charlie Clark
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Re: Rotten to the core

Otherwise it'll have no incentive to change its ways, because it gets condemned either way.

What is the purpose of Uber the company if not to screw other people?

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Charlie Clark
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Re: To be fair (?!) ...

So you're saying that unencrypted files of user data on corporate laptops is OK?

No, he didn't say that.

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AT&T insists it's not sweating US govt block of Time-Warner gobble

Charlie Clark
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Re: CNN hurt Trump's feelings

Maybe AT&T will jettison CNN in return for approval.

No need, they're almost certain to win and the case may get quietly side-lined once this becomes obvious. Sessions is going to have to step down anyway.

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Charlie Clark
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Mushroom

The complaint is that if they gain ownership of HBO, Warner Brothers (movies/TV), and the Turner channels then they can then hold other TV competitors to ransom by demanding higher channel fees that get passed on to consumers

Disney has already announced it's going to do this with its catalogue and privilege Hulu over Netflix. Don't remember hearing the DoJ making any noises about that. Maybe it's because Disney lets the Trump fondle and fuck as many hostesses as he wants whenever he visits Disneyworld.

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Charlie Clark
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Move along nothing to see

That none of the states have joined the DoJ on the suit speaks volumes. A court case will simply delay things.

America has a problem with cartels: ARPU on networks is much higher than in other comparable markets. Cheap debt and lax regulation are encouraging horizontal merges in lots of industries.

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Arm Inside: Is Apple ready for the next big switch?

Charlie Clark
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Re: Well Done

Much as I like ARM I think the article is hinting at proposed "secure boot" extensions for MacOS to stop users doing what they want. :-/

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Back to the Fuchsia: The next 10 years of Android

Charlie Clark
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Money

Analysts estimate Apple makes more money from iOS than Google does from Android. Which is really embarrassing

Not really. It's not as if Google doesn't make money from Android. Any comparison should take into consideration the capital cost (Google doesn't really make many phones so it's much lower) and also the market. Google might mot make money in China but it still makes money in places like India, Africa and South-East Asia where Apple's devices are too expensive for many people. It's also an almost pure services play which means Google continues to make money whether or not people update or buy new phones. And it provides Google with enormous amounts of data for future services.

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Open-source defenders turn on each other in 'bizarre' trademark fight sparked by GPL fall out

Charlie Clark
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Re: Standing

The GPL, unlike the MIT license, protects against people adding a small thing to an open-source program that might become necessary to use it - thus taking it out of being usable in its open-source form. So the GPL is a good thing.

This is completely untrue. Anything that's MIT/BSD/Apache licensed keeps stays that way when code is contributed to it. What those licences don't try and enforce is whether somebody tries to embed the code in a proprietary product. This means more coding, less lawyering.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Personalities

The OpenBSD community is an amazing clash of egos.

Possibly, but at least you don't have to worry about that when you read the licence.

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More than half of GitHub is duplicate code, researchers find

Charlie Clark
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Java provided a good example: people creating a project would commit NPM libraries

What? Since when has Java been using NPM?

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Tesla launches electric truck it guarantees won't break for a million miles

Charlie Clark
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Re: Impressive

I suspect you are aware of the grid scale experiment that informed my comment (Falkenhagen): I used to work for the company concerned. Technically it works a treat, as long as you don't mind the losses.

Actually, no so thanks for the tip.

Lossy closed-loop systems make more sense where you can take producer/consumers off the grid. This would have the advantage of helping to reduce gross base load and insulating the wholesale market from the the problems associated with excess renewables.

Who knows what continued research will come up with? Got to be better than pouring more billions into things like carbon sequestration.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Impressive

The cost of fossil fuels will need to treble at least before that happens, or some process to be invented or discovered that makes the production much more efficient.

In some situations it's possible to imagine closed loop systems that produce CH4 from excess power and use it as storage instead of batteries. In this case it's competing with the inefficiency of the battery charge / discharge cycle. But it has to be closed loop to prevent arbitrage or downright illegal profiteering.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Interesting

I dont know why they cant electrify the bigger roads - just put wires overhead , Tram Style , for cars and trucks to attach to.

Imagine the cost! And a maintenance nightmare. What is already being trialled is induction charging for buses and taxis.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Impressive

Petrol or LPG are great ways of storing energy. If we ever get a way of making them from renewable power, water and air (CO2) that is cheaper than digging them out of the ground then we solve a lot of the problems associated with batteries.

Electric vehicles are currently popular because they are effectively subsidised by not having fuel duty.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Interesting

The obvious solution is to make batteries easily swappable.

Not really. Electricity itself is far more fungible than battery packs. Not only do you have to devise simple, safe and quick ways of doing the swap, you're going to have non-trivial infrastructure for charging and storing them – protected from theft – and probably the need to ship them around. I think the company that wanted to do this for cars folded, but I could be mistaken. Much easier to build charging points even with dedicated MW lines.

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Charlie Clark
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@Voland don't forget the tyres.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: Interesting

Who needs drivers for these things? Sounds like they'll be limited to plugging and unplugging at charging stations.

What's the load of these standard units?

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MPs draft bill to close loopholes used by 'sharing economy' employers

Charlie Clark
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Re: Flexible working

The only point that the gig economy likes "flexible working hours" is that this provides a direct mechanism for reducing wages: employees effectively have to compete for tricks.

If they get a chance there'll be something like Get Laid for prostitutes…

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Charlie Clark
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Re: re Charities

Most charities are, in effect, businesses. They employ professional fundraisers, own shops, etc. Altogether this already leads to a fairly hefty market distortions. The exemptions should either go or the definition should be tightened up and more effectively enforced.

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Apple whispers how its face-fingering AI works

Charlie Clark
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Apple copies Google: customers are just lab rats

Looks like this is mainly a way of testing the technology before selling it to interested parties: facial recognition for Starbucks, Walmart (fanbois don't shop there, Whole Foods, …

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Intel drags Xeon Phi Knights Hill chips out back... two shots heard

Charlie Clark
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Uhh. RISC has been around since like the mid 80s? It's been an option since Intel was churning out 386s.

Not RISC versus CISC, but real RISC designs from MIPS, I think.

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Charlie Clark
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Sounds like some kind of Nervana to me...

From Wikipedaia: the Sunway TaihuLight uses a total of 40,960 Chinese-designed SW26010 manycore 64-bit RISC processors based on the Sunway architecture. ARM and RISC give customers options they didn't have a few years ago. Even Intel has started making noises about custom silicon and FPGAs…

PS. I think you mean Nirvana…

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Charlie Clark
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To recap the Xeon Phi line: it's not for your common or garden server, workstation or desktop. It's aimed at supercomputer gear with machine code instructions to dash through operations on matrices and other blobs of data at high speed in parallel

So give them what they really want: GPUs and FPGAs.

Meanwhile, as the article notes at the end, China is now building its own supercomputers using its own silicon.

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The Quantum of Firefox: Why is this one unlike any other Firefox?

Charlie Clark
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Re: I went for the mobile version

Most people won't give a damn about a theoretical 30% speed increase

Not possible on my mobile install. Hoping it will become available in a patch release.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The Quantum of Firefox

But I - nor most people I dare say- don't use all browsers.

APIs are for developers and there care a lot about this sort of thing.

Most people won't give a damn about a theoretical 30% speed increase

People care a lot about perceived speed which for websites can be as little as 10% (0.1 second speed up for a 1 second page is notcieable). More important in Firefox are the changes in the threading and memory use. These changes are far more important than notional rendering speed. Quantum isn't perfect but after a couple of years chasing UX unicorns the Firefox team turned their focus back on the browser and I think they got most things right and will probably move back to Firefox from Vivaldi which now seems to be chasing unicorns…

You don't like it? Then fork the old code base.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The Quantum of Firefox

The legacy plugins can *NOT* "just be rewritten". They CAN! NOT! BE! DONE! ANY! MORE!!!

And for good reasons that were all explained at the time. Sorry if you want 2000 back again but the rest of the world has moved on.

Still, it's open source so you're free to write your own XUL-based piece of crap: XUL was always a bad idea.

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Charlie Clark
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Re: I went for the mobile version

Mobile is very nice. Apart from the non-removable Pocket crap!

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Charlie Clark
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Re: The Quantum of Firefox

Whatever improvements they deliver, it shouldn't have given them a licence to kill add-on compatibility.

Why not? The change in the add-on API was announced well over a year ago. It actually makes things easier for developers to provide add-ons for all browsers.

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Amazon to make multiple Lord of the Rings prequel TV series

Charlie Clark
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Re: Turin Turambar Dagnir Glaurunga

They would also require very, very good scriptwriters to make the most of things without downgrading them into unwatchable pap.

Wot he said.

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