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Comment Re:And yet.. (Score 1) 447

I wouldn't be so sure. The Scottish Government is already proposing to ban cash payments for scrap metal, in an (in my opinion futile) attempt to combat the trade in stolen materials.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was the first in a long line of laws that will end up eliminating cash payments for most things, for the supposed sake of crime prevention.

I've been okay with the elimination of cash for things like parking meters or buses - anything where having a pocket full of change is generally required, or there's a logistical cost in accepting cash - and it's obviously not feasible to accept cash online, where a huge amount of business is done these days. But I think the outlawing of cash payments is a step too far.

Comment Re:Documentation not always worth it (Score 1) 545

I think you need some form of document that pulls together your entire project, and explains how all the parts fit together. And each part needs to have an executive summary, to explain what it's meant to do.

I don't think line-by-line comments are all that valuable, unless you're doing something odd that really does need explanation. Sometimes I find that they make the code more difficult to read, not less. Especially where the comment lines outnumber the lines of code.

Comment Re:What a collosal waste of money (Score 1) 329

What I actually worry about is that the added capacity encourages more people and companies to have more trips into London, where they will use the tube to get to their final destinations and that is really hard to upgrade.

That's why the London Overground exists, isn't it? Much easier to upgrade, and from the passenger's perspective it doesn't matter that it's distinct from the Underground, because it operates under the same ticketing system. And it has a stop at Euston station, which is where HS2 will terminate.

Comment Re:new yorker (Score 1) 647

I found the Crow Road tedious, personally. Having said that, it was recommended to me because I grew up near where it's set. Not the best reason to recommend a book.

The only other non-sci-fi books of his that I've read are Whit and The Bridge. The Bridge... didn't go anywhere at all. And the main character was annoying. But Whit was an unexpectedly lovely book.

The Algebraist is probably my favourite of his sci-fi books, but I agree with you, Surface Detail is also excellent. I almost feel like, although Banks is a seasoned author, his books are still getting better.

Comment Re:Figures provided by analysts, not the companies (Score 1) 151

Or is the iPhone so tangled with iTunes

It used to be. 'Activation' used to be Apple's mechanism of setting the network lock. Basically, the phone was useless out of the box until plugged into iTunes, at which point it would communicate with Apple's servers, which would send down information on which network the phone should be locked to (or in my phone's case, unlocked).

As of iOS 5, you no longer need iTunes. I don't know how activation works now, as I've not yet had to restore a phone with iOS 5 on it.

Comment Re:Fear a tax system no one comprehends. (Score 1) 593

I argued against this in a couple of comments a while back, in reply to someone who was proposing that income tax should be abolished, and sales tax should be used exclusively.

The crux of my argument was that, even if you have a list of tax exempt goods and services deemed 'essential', you cannot trust government to compile that list. Poor people know what is essential far better than rich politicians do.

For the record, I disagree with cayenne8 - I think it's perfectly reasonable to take extreme low-earners out of the tax system altogether. I just wonder how that stacks up with the principle of 'no taxation without representation'.

Comment Re:A though on why the iPhone 4 does not have Siri (Score 1) 148

meh... they want to give people a reason to upgrade to 4S from 4

I think this is correct...

I think considering that the iPad 2, which has a faster processor than the 4s doesn't have Siri, this is a very strong probability.

...but I suspect that the lack of a noise-cancelling microphone in the iPad 2 has more to do with it.

Comment Re:Why not... (Score 1) 526

I forgot to comment on the use of HDMI - it's only really the same thing if you can combine the two into a single connector.

At that point, you have to start worrying about future changes in the standard, and how they will affect your connector. For example, if you built a connector with an HDMI connector to the side of the micro-USB connector, you'd have to hope that you put it on the right side - otherwise you've just cut off your upgrade path to USB 3.0.

Comment Re:Why not... (Score 1) 526

the dock/speaker out/headphone out was through that same port

How did that work - were there extra, non-standard pins in the port, or did it appropriate the standard pins in order to make this work?

One of the adapter that I use with my iPhone on a regular basis allows me to use the line-out and the USB functions of the dock connector simultaneously, which I'm guessing that the HTC Dream wouldn't be able to do without adding non-standard pins.

Comment Re:CSS and why I never bought into it (Score 1) 107

Japanese (and I'm assuming Chinese as well) is traditionally written in vertical, top-to-bottom columns that are arranged right-to-left. I think it's almost unheard-of online, probably for the reasons stated above, but common in print, for example newspapers.

Take a page of English text and rotate it 90 degrees clockwise, and you'll get the idea.

Ooh, I wonder if you could write a tablet program which, when you rotate the device, only rotates the characters instead of the entire page.

Comment Re:What? (Score 1) 770

This is a very important point. The chart is pretty meaningless, because it doesn't take into account delays caused by carriers.

The Nexus One we have in the office was still on FroYo for months after Gingerbread was released, because it was running a Vodafone mod of FroYo out of the box, which hadn't been updated. I had to download a stock FroYo ROM from the internet in order for it to update itself.

Comment Re:Why not... (Score 1) 526

If you removed the dock connector and replaced it with a micro-USB port, you'd lose a whole load of functionality.

You could have both connectors on the device, but really, what would be the point?

The alternative would be to create some form of new connector that provides all the functionality of the dock connector, but is backwardly compatible with micro-USB. But you're just creating another connector that nobody else uses, and you've also got to worry about compatibility with the USB 3.0 micro-B connector (or else you're just creating problems for the future).

It's really just a lot of hassle for no actual benefit. You can buy dock adapters that provide a micro-USB port, either from Apple themselves or from third parties on eBay.

Comment Re:Why not... (Score 4, Informative) 526

A clock with a USB port is by necessity a much more complex device than a clock with an Apple dock connector. Aside from having to implement the USB mass storage specification, it also has to have its own audio hardware. Your MP3 player is just acting as a glorified hard drive, and the clock is doing all the work. Also, if you're using any audio functionality that isn't exposed over mass storage, or isn't supported by the clock's hardware, then it won't work.

With an Apple dock connector, the clock only has to use the analogue signal from the dock connector's line out, and pass it straight to the amplifier. It will probably also use a subset of the Apple Accessory Protocol to provide audio controls - this works across a dedicated set of pins on the connector and is pretty simple to implement. With a dock connector, your iPod is doing all the work, so your clock is cheaper and with fewer compatibility concerns.

It's no surprise that most manufacturers have gone down the route of including a dock connector at the expense of USB. The dock connector is supported by the majority (or certainly a large minority) of audio playing devices in users' hands, it's simpler to implement, and there won't be the questions over compatibility that would plague the equivalent USB device. It's not rudeness, it's good business sense.

Most clocks like this will also have a standard 3.5 mm minijack line-in for compatibility with other devices anyway. Mine does.

And yes, I'm still annoyed that Intel didn't think about implementing and standardising extra functionality such as this when it was designing USB 3.0. The time was right.

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