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Comment Re:It's a wider issue (Score 1) 85

I agree.

That said, I think there is a fundamental difference between Apple's behaviour and Mozilla's here, for the simple reason that users of Apple gear paid for it and should therefore get what they bought, in proper working order. While it's certainly frustrating for many Firefox users that things keep changing and often not for the better recently, those users never paid Mozilla anything and so Mozilla owes them nothing in return.

Things get much more complicated when you bought the device from a vendor but the ultimate control rests with some third party, typically a software developer. This is where a lot of dubious things are going on right now, but in a lot of jurisdictions the consumer protection laws haven't yet adapted to the modern technology landscape and tend to place the original vendor with most or all of the responsibility when things go wrong, even though it's actually the software they're reselling that is the root cause of the customer's complaint. At some point we're going to have to deal with this, along with the various other third party issues like the legal basis (or otherwise) for an EULA or similar document, because clearly it's not realistic for every shop or web site that lets you buy a device or a copy of some software to fix technical issues they have no practical way to control.

Comment Re:It's a wider issue (Score 1) 85

I think we need to start consciously distinguishing between fixes and other changes.

If a device doesn't properly do what it was supposed to do when the customer bought it -- there's a security vulnerability, it's not quite in spec and so doesn't work properly with something, that kind of thing -- then like any other purchase, the customer should get what (they thought) they were paying for when they decided to buy, and the manufacturer should fix the defect.

The manufacturer is under no equivalent obligation to offer non-essential changes, like moving the UI around or adding new functionality, but might choose to do so anyway. IMHO in that case they should be free to offer them to others on whatever reasonable terms they want. If a user doesn't want them, they don't have to buy in, just as they don't have to buy the latest version of a device in the first place if they don't like it.

The key point is that if a purchaser chooses not to buy into any extra offers from the manufacturer, that should not be remove the purchaser's basic right to get what they paid for originally or negate the manufacturer's normal obligations to make defects good or compensate in some reasonable way, just like manufacturers of any other product under normal consumer protection and similar laws in many places.

Comment Re:It's a wider issue (Score 1) 85

Ultimately, the only way to do that is to give power to the users, and the only way to do that is to offer them a choice or a setting.

There is a middle ground: you separate updates for areas like security and reliability from updates to the UI and functionality. Got an existing system? Sure, you can patch your existing software to keep it as secure as possible, without also getting UI changes or new functionality. Want our latest features? You can update to a new version of the software, but you take it or leave it.

We successfully built software for some number of decades in this way, and in practice it wasn't a prohibitive maintenance burden for the developers to support a previous version or two for essential updates. Unfortunately, this level of customer support and actually making useful products doesn't play nicely with the trendy Agile, X-as-a-service, Lean, insert-other-buzzword-here mentality of a lot of young developers and startups today, and now the established heavyweights are seeing opportunities to save a bit of cash and exert more control over their users by adopting the same techniques.

Comment Not upgrading may not be a (realistic) option (Score 2) 85

Unfortunately, there is a trend for updates to be completely automatic and involuntary, both with certain devices and even now with Windows 10 on the desktop. All it takes is some sort of online component it depends on and you have a crank to turn the update wheel, even if the update actually has nothing to do with that online element. Again, it's clear why the developers would prefer only having to support their latest code base, but unfortunately it leaves users with no control over their own devices, including in cases where from their point of view the update makes something worse than it was before.

There are also all kinds of mechanisms that effectively compel updates even if they aren't directly made mandatory and automatic. For example, on iOS devices, you can only get apps from the App Store, and Apple can impose constraints on those apps if they want to be listed. This can drive app developers towards only supporting the latest version of iOS, and again that can be a problem for people who previously had an older version of the app installed on an older version of iOS that worked well on an older device where perhaps the new version does not. These cases are particularly nasty, because all the developers involved can point fingers at each other and say it's someone else causing the problem, yet to the user the reality is the same: their device and software used to work, and now they don't.

Comment It's a wider issue (Score 4, Insightful) 85

A wider issue is the general trend for devices with behaviour that is remotely changed after you buy them thanks to software updates. What is the situation if you bought an e-reader you were happy with and could use comfortably, but then after this kind of update it no longer works for you because, for example, your eyesight isn't good enough to read the new font? It's obvious why hardware and software vendors might want this kind of capability, but how do we protect the buyers who are using the products to make sure they're still getting what they paid for when they decided to buy?

Comment Re:What about telemetry/spying features? (Score 1) 56

Had it been made plainly obvious what they were pushing, no one would have installed any of it.

Ironically, I suspect that's not true. It seems quite realistic that if they'd pushed telemetry transparently as a recommended update, the average home user would have just said yes with all the others anyway, yet Microsoft would not have lost the confidence of the techie crowd and gained the unwelcome reputation for being deceptive and manipulative that they've managed to cement over the past few months.

Comment Re:Windows 10 is spyware (Score 3, Insightful) 56

Microsoft is certainly doing some very dubious things lately, but it does no-one any good to exaggerate or distort what they're doing. Please stop doing that.

In particular, they have issued telemetry updates for earlier Windows versions, and they have aggressively promoted the update to Windows 10, but they have not forced users of earlier Windows versions to update if they say no.

Comment Re:It's a nice start (Score 1) 56

Assuming that was intended to read "...complaining about not knowing..." the answer seems pretty clear: Microsoft have been serving up updates for all recent versions of Windows with little to no detail of what is actually in them for some time, and lately some of those updates have been outright user-hostile, and consequently a lot of power user or professional sysadmin types simply don't trust them any more.

Just about the one barrier they haven't crossed yet is serving up user-hostile updates under the guise of security updates rather than just recommended ones, which means you can still assume that something marked as a security update is likely to be worth installing with due diligence. Being more explicit about these issues on Win10 goes at least a little way towards maintaining that confidence.

Comment Re:Insanity (Score 1) 600

If the wind is too high or the surface too rough it's the cyclists job NOT TO RIDE THERE.

Right. Which is why it's then a problem having cyclists who want to travel at a reasonable speed, but still a speed slower than motor vehicles can achieve, sharing the same main traffic lane. Which brings me back to my main point: substandard facilities like nothing-but-a-paint-job cycle lanes are potentially dangerous, and we need proper, mode-appropriate facilities for all classes of road user. Which in turn comes back to the original point of the discussion: sometimes we're better off without just slapping paint on the road if all it does is create dubious expectations and a false sense of security.

Comment Re:Insanity (Score 1) 600

I can never be sure the person in the next lane won't lose control of their vehicle. So I should never pass anyone?

You should only pass when you're sure it's reasonably safe to do so. It's really as simple as that, and that "reasonably safe" means taking into account any significant and predictable risks around other types of vehicle. It's the exact same argument whether we're talking about a two-wheeler at greater risk of being affected by wind or uneven road surface, a horse at risk of being startled, or a large vehicle that is signalling on the approach to a junction and will need to make a wide turn.

I don't know where you are, but this story is about the UK, so it's the UK's Highway Code I'm going by, and everything I've just written should be explained routinely by any driving instructor before their students take the test.

Comment Re:Insanity (Score 1) 600

Sorry, but the Highway Code disagrees with you. There are pictures and everything. There is also explicit discussion about the need to allow for more vulnerable road users.

If you go around overtaking other people with insufficient clearance and something bad happens, then again you should expect that to be counted against you in court. Obviously all road users should be able to hold their lane properly under normal conditions, but all road users should also be aware that overtaking is an inherently dangerous manoeuvre and they should not do it unless they are sure they can complete that manoeuvre safely. In the UK, that applies each and every time you pass anyone else, cycle or otherwise, and regardless of which lane(s) you are each following before the overtake.

Comment Re:Insanity (Score 1) 600

Just like a car pulling away from a curb can't jump in front of moving traffic and complain about getting rear ended. It's your job to make the lane change safely. You might actually have to stop instead.

Of course. On the other hand, unpredictable things happen on roads, particularly in bad weather. A driver who isn't allowing enough clearance as they pass a cyclist for the cycle to be blown a little off course without getting hit just isn't paying enough attention.

Deliberate? I thought I saw a road hazard.

Then you can try that one on with the court. Perhaps the CPS will throw in a charge of driving without due care and attention as well, since if you had to panic brake in response to a road hazard there's a fair chance you weren't driving carefully and at a suitable speed for the conditions.

It is not illegal to slow down. If you are behind me, it's your job to maintain a safe following distance.

True, but it is illegal to drive dangerously or without reasonable consideration for other road users, among other things, and these would be likely consequences of a sudden "brake check" to harass a following cyclist. In fact, braking without good cause is explicitly included in the CPS guidance for bringing the reasonable consideration charge.

The main facility that can be upgraded is getting 'road bikes' off the road. There is no way to safely ride 100psi+ tire bikes on the street with cars. They basically have to swerve around every bit of glass in the bike lane and are rolling, left and right lurching hazards with unsafely long stopping distances.

Or we could completely prohibit cars from using roads frequented by road bikes, or impose a much lower speed limit where access is still required. In some places, we're approaching the point where there will be more cyclists than cars using a given road, after all, and removing the cars would make it safer for other types of bike as well.

In reality, neither absolutist solution is going to get us anywhere until there are reasonable alternatives for any group that gets displaced.

Comment Re:Insanity (Score 1) 600

If you need to get out of the bike lane, it is your job to make sure it is safe to switch lanes, same as a car. You can't just jump into the main traffic lane in front of a car and complain the car was going too fast. You made an unsafe lane change.

That is all true.

However, it is equally true that a driver does not have an automatic right to overtake a cyclist in front of them who wants to use the main traffic lane. A cyclist obviously shouldn't switch lanes right in front of a car, but if a cyclist a little up the road wants to use the main traffic lane, they are perfectly entitled to do so. It is the following driver's responsibility to slow down and maintain a safe distance in that case, just as they would have to if a slower motor vehicle pulled out ahead of them on a multi-lane highway.

It's also worth pointing out that a driver who does overtake a cyclist, regardless of which lane they are cycling in, should be allowing as much space alongside as they would have when passing a car. That will almost certainly require crossing well over the centre line of the road on many urban roads in the UK. If a cyclist veering slightly into the main traffic lane ever actually gets hit by a car overtaking them, even if it was a mistake by the cyclist, it was also self-evidently a mistake by the driver.

Also don't complain when cars 'brake check' you going up hills. That's just payback for you slowing them down.

Doing that deliberately is illegal on several counts, and if you do it in sight of a police car you should rightly expect to get pulled up for it.

Many cyclists seam to think they have the right of way any time the alternative is they lose their inertia.

Some do, certainly, and they are wrong. There is no general right of way on UK roads, for a start.

But equally some drivers seem to think that they have the right to go as fast as they want to regardless of other road users, and those drivers are also wrong.

As I said before, the only credible way to improve this kind of situation is to ensure that the facilities for everyone using the roads are up to scratch and reduce the potential for conflict happening at all.

Comment Re:Insanity (Score 1) 600

Part of the trouble is that the kind of on-road cycle lanes we're talking about in the UK aren't normal lanes in various respects, including sometimes legal ones. Even to the extent that they are, they are often created by literally nothing but painting a line down existing roads to mark off an area much smaller than the relevant policies call for. No extra space is created, nor any real physical separation or protection added.

This results in exactly the kind of them-and-us culture I was talking about, where a lot of drivers who don't cycle themselves see a cycle lane and think bikes should stay in it at all times, while anyone who has ever cycled significantly could tell you that this is completely unrealistic because the lanes aren't wide enough for anyone to do so and still make sensible progress even before you consider all the extra hazards that tend to happen towards the side of a road where the cycle lane is.

Consequently a lot of faster and more competent cycles will disregard the lanes and cycle in the main traffic flow when conditions dictate, and a lot of ignorant and selfish drivers will then illegally harass and intimidate the cyclists for riding in the main traffic lane and slowing them down marginally. Many drivers also pass cyclists who are in a cycle lane far too close, and one of the well established benefits of removing road markings for explicit lanes is that drivers do then move out significantly more and pass cyclists at a safer distance.

For me, the only truly credible solutions to today's them-and-us culture involve providing a decent standard of facilities for both groups where conflict is designed out in the first place. Much better designs than what we currently use in the UK are known -- the Dutch typically do these things well, for example -- but they cost significant amounts of money, particularly to implement them retroactively on existing road layouts, and so far the political will in the UK just doesn't seem to be there to spend it. In some places, particularly older cities with historical areas and narrow streets, there simply isn't a good solution as long as so many different types of vehicle are trying to share the same road space.

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