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Comment: Re:No problem (Score 2) 423

by Chris Hodges (#46600641) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?
That's support contract is a very nice idea. And the vendor will either just say "no" or quote you what we used to call in the industry a "fuck-off price". Perhaps the cost of employing a software engineer for the next ten years. Per unit.

Source code isn't much use to the average user - even if it includes the code to the drivers for the stuff the hardware vendor just embedded. And that's even if it wasn't written in something you can't even compile on modern systems.

Comment: Re:No problem (Score 1) 423

by Chris Hodges (#46600605) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Preparing For Windows XP EOL?
I know of kit with ~£1million replacement cost running on a mix of 95 and 98. The ISA cards that support the hardware won't run under anything later, and an upgrade to what's on the other end would be ~£20k per unit if you could convince the manufacturer to do it. Budget for upgrades =0. Data recovery - not an issue: store it properly. If the controlling PC breaks - well, it's getting harder to find 98 boxes, but we've got spares and we can reinstall everything in a few hours.

Of course we're about to be in the same position with the next-gen kit that only supports XP.

We'll end up with all the data from the XP and 9x machines written over a local network to a win7 box, which can also see the proper network and therefore be backed up properly. No more VNC/RDP into the XP machines though - unless we can find a workaround - and we probably can.

Comment: Re:This is also the case on Firefox (Score 1) 482

by Chris Hodges (#44506615) Attached to: Chrome's Insane Password Security Strategy
And on FF/Thunderbird it's very useful - if the built-in local keystore stops saving passwords in a reasonably recoverable way, given how many of them most of us have, and how many machines many of us use, another local solution would be needed. I'm moving towards keepass, but slowly.

Comment: Re: If no root, no Android. FirefoxOS anyone? (Score 1) 240

It's not just the carrier - a Motorola (Defy+) bought from Amazon UK still comes with plenty of crapware:
* zinio (buy magazines to read on a tiny screen - really?)
* 7 digital music store
* tunewiki/motorola music player - a new, slower UI with every update (seemingly every week)
You could easily count motoblur on that list as well, and with a non-rooted old android (like all the other waterproof phones), you can't disable them entirely, block them from updating or move much of their bloat onto SD card (obviously, because then I could delete that).
So for now, rooting is still needed. Unfortunately with up-to-date firmware, it's also rather tedious and risky on this handset.

Comment: Re:Some industrial stuff is still on ISA cards (Score 1) 953

by Chris Hodges (#43522775) Attached to: Some Windows XP Users Can't Afford To Upgrade
We've got 2 systems here tied to ISA cards and Win98 - upgrade cost per system ~$15k. Many more are XP only.
With systems that are bought as a hardware-software package it's often the drivers that don't get updated for 10 years, instead they are replaced with the new model. The UI can often be made to run.
If there's no hardware involved, XP in a VM will be the way to go, but there's no hope of that for the really old stuff, and I'd be surprised if the system could communicate properly with the hardware even on the new stuff.
There's 1 major advantage compared to the end of Win98 - at least XP has good support for USB sticks so you can get your data off.

Comment: Re:This is useless mental masturbation (Score 1) 39

by Chris Hodges (#43405535) Attached to: OpenWLANMap: Free WLAN-Based GPS Replacement
That's a good point, but to my mind the real test will be how well this integrates with GPS for the receiver - in my experience although the urban canyons are fairly small areas, they are almost by definition quite highly travelled, and there are much larger urban areas where the GPS is patchy - maybe all right for driving in the middle of the street, but walking next to the bulidings with half the sky blocked is a different matter. Of course, as most mobile navigation devices now have wifi built in, it's an extra tool in the box without too much effort.

Comment: Re:This is useless mental masturbation (Score 2) 39

by Chris Hodges (#43401597) Attached to: OpenWLANMap: Free WLAN-Based GPS Replacement
But a "real GPS" isn't great in urban areas - precisely where there are the most APs to get a location from (and which tend to have reasonable power uptimes). With a reasonable number of users of the app it should be possible to keep the db reasonably up to date, and if you have 3 APs matching to London, and one to Oxford, it's not that hard to know which one to ignore (or you go from one city to another in a few seconds).

Comment: Re:DO NOT ASSUME WESTERN NAMES! (Score 1) 383

I'm going to take a wild guess here - the usernames are trivial anyway. They almost always are, and if they're not they're written down next to the user's regular workstation, it's hard enough getting people to not keep their password in the top drawer/under the keyboard, and that's at least secret. Besides the user name is normally displayed in plain text for anyone walking past to read all the time the user is hunt and pecking their pet's name for a password.

Comment: Re:DO NOT ASSUME WESTERN NAMES! (Score 1) 383

username@domain.tld works well - you already have a unique ID, so why not use it? However there's no reason why you can't then use aliases of the form: firstname.lastname@... firstname.i.lastname@... firstname.lastname.department@... (I've seen this used to deal with 2 people who had the same middle initial) firstname.lastname.increment@... fullname@... etc. It wouldn't be hard to pick a default pattern (maybe grabbed from a registration database, which someone else has had to sort out for tax etc.) use that on a first-come-first-served (plus seniority if required) basis, and set up a fallback for the duplicates. Of course, if you're being nice, you could allow those who matter (for some value of matter) to override the default. We do something similar here.

Comment: Re:Slackware on floppies (Score 1) 867

by Chris Hodges (#41513291) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Distros Have You Used, In What Order?

I miss Windows Explorer - I still haven't found a decent full-featured file manager for Linux, and I've tried most of them.

Opposite here - I miss a tabbed view when I use windows explorer (as a mainly GUI user on both) In answer to the original question (in the unlikely event that anyone cares). OpenSUSE (dual boot with win98) -> Ubuntu (dua boot with XP) -> XUbuntu (thanks to unity) + Ubuntu Natty (Classic Mode, netbook)

Comment: Pen and paper for transcribing science (Score 1) 300

It depends on your field, but I found that pen and paper was the only way to go - many of the more interesting points are graphical, and however fast you can type, I don't see how you can sketch as fast as with a pen - which has excellent resolution compared to on-screen freehand sketching. The same applies to formulae (or formula-like text) unless you can type fast enough to write (pseudo-)LaTeX on the fly. Many conferences have restrictions on recording (which assuming you ignore them would still mean a small subtle microphone held low), and the audio quality is often pretty bad - many speakers don't know how to project their voices or use a microphone. Put the two together and you'll record/try to trancribe more mutterings and paper rustling from the other attendees than presentation content.

Comment: Plugins/modules (Score 1) 329

by Chris Hodges (#37341508) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Best Programs To Learn From?
An AC above suggested ALSA modules, but many other projects accept plugins (my first thought was the GIMP, but that uses python). Pick something that you're interested in and write something that solves a problem with that. If it's a discrete module or a plugin you'll have more chance of deploying it.

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