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Comment Re:Yep. (Score 1) 164

We use iPad Minis in school. Hundreds of them.

There's an app that views my home CCTV camera on iPad. I install it, purely to make the iPad "do something" during the course of the day. The others allocated to the IT department are in cupboards and drawers, uncharged and unused.

So I put my camera up on my iPad and use it as remote CCTV for my house while I'm at work.

Every 8 hours or so, it crashes the iPad back to black screen, Apple logo, progress bar, back into lock-screen.

Sure, it's a misbehaving app. Sure it's probably a memory leak or similar. But it takes out the entire machine, with alarming regularity - and it's not the only time that happens, it just happens to trigger it more reliably than other things.

And yet this iPad is on the latest iOS within minutes of it happening (it's only other purpose is to see what iOS 9.3 or whatever broke this time around).

Yes, I've switched iPads. But the students still say that similar things happen to theirs, sometimes in the middle of lessons. That's just *shite* for anything running in the 21st Century and not doing anything more difficult than viewing a video stream off the Internet.

Comment Yep. (Score 1, Insightful) 164

I try my best not to bias my opinion against Apple - mainly because I'm forced to work with them - but I have to say this just confirms my own numbers.

I work in schools so I deal with all kinds of devices from servers and PCs down to smartwatches and phones. As "IT" I also get lots of people use me as their personal technical support (my employer doesn't mind, and even encourages it as a value-add for other staff, so long as it doesn't interfere with real work).

Pretty much across the board, people with iPads, iPhones and Macs experience many more failures per device than the rest. I don't even SEE Android users after setting up the email on their phones (something we have to do for them, by policy, so we know they aren't just buying new phones and setting them up themselves). iPhone people also seem to break their screens SO OFTEN that it's just laughable.

I have precisely one dead Samsung tablet "on the pile", and no end of iPods, iPads, iPhones and other gadgets.

The Mac Minis, especially those sold as "servers"? Laughable.
The Mac desktops? Laughable.

And then when you do this not just on a "per-device" basis, but on "per-value" basis, it gets even sillier as you can buy 2-3 or more of the competition for the price of one Apple. You don't get any more work done for that price either, and certainly don't get less failures.

A member of staff brought in some things from clearing out their mother's house after she died. One was a BBC Micro, complete and working. We snapped that up. Then they said "Oh, and I have a Mac at home that just stopped working, it's only a year or two old, I suppose you want that?"

She was quite surprised by our answer. Needless to say, we spent the afternoon with "BOOP-BEEP" startup sounds as we played about with the BBC, but nobody wanted the Mac. Nobody even asked the spec. Literally nobody in the IT office cared about it.

But I have no doubt she ran out and just bought another Mac. Like the person who had a MacBook Pro that nearly exploded because the battery bulged like fuck in it and we refused to touch it and told them to get it off-site (we're a school, so there are kids and I do NOT want some personal device brought on site, exploding, and hurting someone - I am NOT going to do the paperwork and deal with the stupendous health-and-safety aftermath of something like that) and dispose of it elsewhere as soon as they could.

I'm forced to support Apple, against my wishes, and I try really hard to spin positives from what they offer. But I literally can't find enough to justify. It's basically popular "because it's popular", like designer trainers or something. In terms of actual figures on almost any aspect, Apple devices are atrocious.

Comment Re:Not sure Microsoft is to blame (Score 1) 256

Which is why MS should be testing their changes.

Of course this kind of things happens, on any OS. But you test.

If you haven't noticed that you've introduced a blue-screen (literally, things that SHOULD NOT happen) within a few hours of pushing out an update, even if it only activates on a small percentage of a popular product, then you're not testing, not recording logs, not reporting crashes in enough detail, not reading crash reports, and just don't care.

We're talking mass-market OS on massive amounts of machines. Pushing something that causes a brand-name device to instantly BSOD even 10% of machines is just a stupendous lack of testing.

At least the "we'll break all your webcams that don't use the colour-space we want to use" change was deliberate.

Comment Re:Worked for Amazon. (Score 5, Informative) 156

"Amazon's initial business plan was unusual; it did not expect to make a profit for four to five years. This "slow" growth caused stockholders to complain about the company not reaching profitability fast enough to justify investing in, or to even survive in the long-term. ... It finally turned its first profit in the fourth quarter of 2001: $5 million"

Seven years it took to hit profit, but they knew that and said it would be like that all along.

I suspect that Amazon's turnover and revenue were significantly higher than anything Uber's ever seen, and I suspect they never lost $1.2bn at any stage of their inception.

It was also - as stated - highly unusual.

Comment Re:Stupid (Score 4, Insightful) 130

There's lots of research demonstrating that long periods of time spent near campfires cause serious health issues. Absent cleaning the air, such as with a complete air-conditioning and filtering setup, it is unhealthy for humans to be near a campfire for any significant length of time. ... so this isn't viable.

It's about risk. The risk of you cooking your food (thus exposing you to carcinogenics) compared to the risk of eating uncooked food (which we did for MILLIONS OF YEARS) is a trade-off.

Do you sacrifice those temporary, mostly reversible health issues (comparatively vanishingly small compared to the general risk of take-off and space travel in general, to be honest) for the opportunity to live and work in an entirely new environment?

To be honest, mining is an incredibly dangerous profession. Scouting the bottom of the oceans too. Diving near oil rigs. All of these things are MUCH HIGHER RISK than the health effects of prolonged space travel. And people do them every single day.

Even simulated gravity doesn't solve the problems of space travel, so even your solution is completely useless in terms of combating all - or even the significant - health risks. Radiation would be the killer, long-term.

To be honest, there are thousands of people, most of them sane, educated and intelligent, willing to sign up to a one-way mission to Mars.

In the same way that for centuries, people fought to get to the top of Everest or to the middle of the arctic poles. Of course it wasn't without risk. It can't be. But that's how you discover the risk, reduce them and compensate for what you can't reduce.

So re-using a fuel tank as a habitat in space is just one sensible method of reducing risk - of having to send up more junk to live in, so you don't have to live in cramped conditions, or needlessly spend money on more accommodation when you could spend it on safety gear or fire tests or whatever.

Comment Re:3 year old whitebox phone, thanks (Score 1) 161

Here. Have a $2 case for your phone for if you ever drop it.

I bought mine on my smartphone, we have this thing called "online shopping" nowadays.

Seriously, though, with the exception of stupid people doing stupid things to their phones (like wandering around without cases or putting them on the toilet while they flush, etc.) and shitty Apple screens that cost a fortune to repair, it's really not that big an issue. I've never broken a phone screen. Ever. I've destroyed any number of laptops (usually by their hinges breaking through too much use), but not a smartphone.

And, yes, mine's tumbled down stairs, onto concrete, out of my pocket off a windowsill and down the back of a bunch of desks, all sorts. Hell, it spends it's ENTIRE LIFE in my pocket being bent, sat-on, smashed against my bunch of keys (with hard metal caribiner for a keyring), etc.

The crappy $2 leather case with plastic edges means nothing breaks unless you smash it face down onto a rock, and it doesn't scratch unless you're an idiot. My previous phone had the same case (literally the cheapest shite on Amazon) and after 4 years it was dog-eared and had dents all over the plastic case but that was it - the phone came out looking like the day it went in. And that took at least two "straight out of the case, spewing battery out" hard tumbles.

Note, I work in schools so I get a LOT of repairs come my way, so I see some carnage. Per-pupils iPads for a start, and I send at least 2 a week on average off for repair.

But phones? Out of all the school-provided staff smart phones, I've never sent one off for repair or had one broken beyond repair before it was decided it was obsolete. Even taking into account random people asking me to look at "IT stuff", iPhone screen-cracks are repairable and I get about one a year. I've yet to have to repair any other model of phone (and, no, we don't use exclusively Apple even for staff phones, just the opposite in fact - we have everything from Lumia to Samsung).

Sorry, but the days of a smartphone being fragile and your laptop robust are long gone. Most laptops these days, and the cheap Chromebooks, are almost made of god-damn paper, they're so shit. Don't even get me started on those things with hinges that wrap-around to become a tablet. The MOST VULNERABLE bit of the laptop and you make it undergo even more stress? Great idea.

Comment Don't bother. (Score 2) 56

The most pointless, short, useless and under-described "demo" I've ever seen.

I'm not familiar with Overwatch's spec but pretty much they show one short-range view of two static robots turn the corner to walk up some stairs with some skyboxes, then jump back and that's IT. Nothing there performance-related. And we know why. Compared to a real graphics card, it can't compete.

All the other stuff was pretty meh too. Oh look, it's faster than previous generations. Cool. I should hope so otherwise it's pointless trying to sell it.

Comment Sigh. (Score 2) 538

Anyone else read the bit about automatic fsck of FAT filesystems on USB insertion?

I'm presuming that it'll be optional but still - way to fuck everyone's USB sticks and SD cards up.

Auto-fsck is a stupid idea. At worst, do it read-only and warn (like Windows does). But just fixing up the filesystem without asking the user first? A good way to trash stuff.

Comment Re:Not Just SEO... (Score 1) 105

Lists get sold all the time.

I'm in the UK too, on TPS the same as you.

But lists get sold, stolen and passed on, and it's not just your email.

I got an email from a company selling educational IT furniture (highly specific to my job). Except it went to my personal email. And when I looked it was sent to a unique email alias at my domain (I use unique emails for every website, company, etc. that I give email to - one of the beauties of owning a domain of your own).

That email was ONLY given to RM (Research Machines), and I hadn't had any dealings with them for several years. Not since I took half their custom away in a London Borough and they got pissed and refused to co-operate.

Turns out the guy who set up the furniture company used to work for RM. Strange that. He just decided to take the company list with him, contact details and all, and use it to sell his wares from his own company. I reported him, nothing happened.

But if you're a minimum wage employee in a call centre that just got sold out to another country, I can see the temptation, and I can understand stealing the list and selling it on. It's not really the company's fault, all they can do is sack the person responsible but your data is already out there, and another will just come along. What I don't get is how MASS exports happening without people noticing. But your data, in anyone's system, isn't secure and can easily be sold on like this.

Sell a couple of addresses a week of people you had to look up to manage their account legitimately, to the right people, and you can make good money. Especially if you pick and choose the best customers who you know have money, etc.

But TPS etc. does bog-all. And they don't stop, you've just exhausted one leak, that's all. There'll be another.

Easiest way to stop this shit? Throw the landline in the bin (BT obviously have zero interest in blocking this shit, in my experience), move to mobile and disable any phone call coming in from a non-CLI number. And you can "block" immediately any number that does get through.

People ask me why I don't answer my mobile but instead switch to Google. I search for unknown numbers first and just block them if they are listed on those "whocalledme" websites as spammers.

Same for email. Abuse the email I give, it just gets redirected to /dev/null forever more.

Comment Gosh really (Score 3, Insightful) 105

Up next,

That guy from "Microsoft" that offers to fix your PC if you just download this program is fake too.

So are the guys trying to sell you that product for your embarrassing sexual ailment by email.

So are the websites that just need you to enter your credit "to verify your age".

Seriously, Slashdot, the mediocre-to-shit ratio (used to be signal-to-noise) has fucking plummeted around here.

Comment Re:Solar bubble? (Score 1) 160

This is what some people have been saying for over a decade.

I've worked in many schools and lots of them get snakeoil salesmen for everything from solar power to "power conditioners" (that "save money on running your flourescent lights!") and all sorts. The ones who have been approached for solar panels on roofs (and they have a LOT of roof space) have either refused it, or regretted it later.

One school I know has panels that barely pull in enough to run one of their on-site servers. They have it "because it looks good", green credentials and all that.

But while you are subsidising something, it usually means it's not a viable business model on its own. Look at all the other green energy methods and they all have huge subsidies. We are burning cash instead of coal to reduce carbon emissions, not generate power efficiently.

All the large solar panels that I price up for my area are useless and barely pay for themselves within their lifetime. You can't sell that. Not once you include problems with ownership of the roof (is it part of the mortgaged property or not), electrical connection, and so forth.

Sure, I can run a few lightbulbs in a shed from a panel on its roof, for a hundred GBP or so. But apart from that, it's not anywhere near as good as people make out. Even if the technology exists, the commercialised versions on small home scales aren't viable in much of the world.

I once priced up a HUGE wind turbine sold for home use in my local DIY store. If a force-nine gale blew for 5 years straight and it never needed installation, planning permission, maintenance or anything doing to it, it might just pay for its purchase cost before the warranty expired.

People loved it, everyone looked at it, a few talked about buying it. Nobody did. They took it away after a few years and I asked - they sold basically zero of them from that store.

Solar is the same. While subsidies and selling crappy, unreliable, variable, low-voltage, low-power back to the grid exist, they are okay. Just okay. As soon as those things disappear, it's game over. But, hey, "the next generation" will be more efficient, cheaper, etc. etc. etc. as always. Just replace everything you buy every few years.

I'm sure it's possible to live off the grid, to have solar power be "the thing" that you live from. But it's far from easy, not cheap, requires a lot of work, investment and surface area, and involves a lot of sacrifices.

Solar roofs? Only selling to people who happen to be changing the entire roof (which they likely want done quite quickly and cheaply), rather than selling to everyone who already HAS a roof? That just seems suicidal. Solar panels are identical, modular, and can be put onto anything. A solar roof would have to be bespoke, supplied quickly, and be inside the cost of a roof plus a handful of panels. And you can spread the cost of the roof and panels quite simply by buying modules as you can afford them. An all-or-nothing roof would only be put on new-builds, and likely would have to be designed for.

Comment Sigh (Score 1) 290

- Can't search.
- Can't necessarily even understand (if the audio is muffled, no message at all).
- Require audio equipment (can't listen in a meeting, for example - I'm often involved in meetings where we email out for a quick answer and get it back live while we're making a decision).
- Much larger data storage. My email is already Gigs, but at least I can keep them all on my phone.
- No advantage. Email is deliberately formal to hide the emotional shit and cut to the facts. We need this done, for this reason. Anger can be expressed easily if you want, but it just lengthens and confuses the email. Email from your boss saying "FIX THIS NOW" is quite clear enough, thanks.
- Can't be translated, forwarded, quoted, etc. as easily.

Basically, it's a stupid idea. Email works (and we can't change it BECAUSE it's so successful - we'll need to break email so we can reinvent the protocol soon, people!). If you don't think it does, you're not using it properly.

And little voice memos are like the YouTube tutorial. Takes ten minutes longer to record, review, send and listen to, than just writing down what you mean in clear text. The bane of my life is the information I want being locked inside a voice track to a online presentation or video.

I've spend no end of time huddled round a voicemail saying "What the fuck did they say? Was that "smith"?" and it has just reinforced what I've known for year. Voice sucks.

And, yes, if you want to talk to me (especially if you're a salesman), send me an email. I guarantee a response same-day. Don't try to ring me, then ring round all my colleagues, then ask to be put through to me, then finally get through to me and spend 10 minutes getting to the fucking point. You're just wasting everyone's time and I will ask for quotes, invoices, guarantees, promises and contracts in writing anyway. In fact, my response time by phone unless you're my direct boss is literally days sometimes. It'll get put on the helpdesk if you ask, and from there response times are like any other. But email me and tell me what your company does and next time I need you, I can search.

I can't search my voicemail for that critical authorisation, that company that contacted me weeks ago who offer the service I want, or that memo I took on my phone last week.

In order of uselessness, inefficiency, ability to get confused (and thus require more levels of verification because I won't let you get away with just a confusing voicemail alone):

- Voicemail and audio messages.
- Handwriting on scraps of paper
- Other paper.
- Email or stored notes (e.g. Google Keep).

Comment I must be getting old (Score 1) 157

1) I can't justify that amount for one game.

I mean, I have a good job, disposable funds, and I have an "slush" fund that I just put random things into (e.g. a bit of Bitcoin, spare cash, Paypal refunds, stuff from Steam market sales, etc. - it all adds up and there's several hundred GBP in there a year). But that kind of price for one game when I could get ten smaller ones spread over the course of a year?

2) Although I was quite intrigued by the "this won't be multiplayer" aspect, which is unusual nowadays, there doesn't seem to be much at all of how the game actually works, plays or progresses.

(I hate games that focus on multiplayer at the expense of the single player... they are two DIFFERENT kinds of games. CS:GO is obviously only good as multiplayer, and other things are obviously only good as single-player - and some are great single-player games where you think "It would be so cool if" and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't)

Back in the day, Elite could have an infinite procedural map (effectively), but first and foremost it has stuff to do rather than wander around. I see nothing of that. There was a game set on Mars I played that I got for nothing. It was basically wandering around in an empty world, and then you found out that it was on rails because any deviation just let you wander for hours but you couldn't progress until you came back to the right spot. So dull, and despite being a beautiful game, I wasted an hour of my life on it.

3) No demo. No demo, no way to test, no compatibility assurance, no game. People are literally buying and then hoping Steam refunds will work so they get a demo out of it. That's just shit. There's obviously a reason there's no demo of this turd, but come on. Put out demos, people.

4) Indie games, to me, are things that studios wouldn't have developed. I understand that's not the official definition, but no big studio would have put their money behind, say, SpaceChem or Factorio. That's an indie game. Made by people trying to make it on their own with something that they'd never find being made by EA in their local store. This isn't.

5) Value. I'll be honest, I've got hunderds of hours in both SpaceChem and Factorio and wouldn't have paid anywhere near what No Man's Sky cost for them both. If you work out the gameplay-per-cost of things, then up the top are the indie games which draw you in and don't let you leave. At the bottom are the flops of commercial releases, and then the commercial releases just about them. Great fun was had, but only for a handful of hours, and cost a premium.

My friends got into Ark: Survival and it's been great for them. Dozens of hours (a lot for non-gamers), but it cost them a bit. That's okay, they enjoyed it and it was disposable cash and they got a lot back for that. But I can't justify full-price games that last a few hours or are crap or boring and getting reviews this bad. Certainly not against silly casual indie games that cost pence and can entertain a room full of people for the whole night.

6) First-day releases, pre-orders, etc.

Er... no. Unless there's a demo and I know what I'm ordering and that I'll get it.

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