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Firefox 34 Arrives With Video Chat, Yahoo Search As Default

Ed Avis Re:Comodo's certificate extortion (237 comments)

Fine, self-signed certs should not be "silently accepted" - but then totally unencrypted, plain-text-over-the-wire, any-idiot-with-a-network-card-can-sniff-it traffic shouldn't be silently accepted either! Nobody objects to a reasonable browser warning on self-signed certificates. What many gripe about is the fact that these same browsers then show unencrypted sites with no question at all. Often, if Firefox produces an SSL certificate warning I just change the URI from https: to http: to get the damn thing out of my way.

about two weeks ago
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Linux On a Motorola 68000 Solder-less Breadboard

Ed Avis It's a 68008, as used in... (147 comments)

In fact this is not the 68000 but its crippled little brother the 68008, which uses an 8-bit external data bus (as the 8088 is to the 8086). That was also used in the Sinclair QL, which was Linus's first computer before he bought a 386 PC and got into Minix. Could Linux now be ported to run on the QL?

about a month ago
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Amazon Goes After Oracle (Again) With New Aurora Database

Ed Avis Re:Will take years to tackle Oracle crown (102 comments)

Don't SAP have their own RDBMS, called SAP DB or MaxDB? It was even released as free software a few years back (then they changed their mind and went back to proprietary). Do you mean that despite that, the only database backend that works well with large SAP installations is Oracle?

about a month ago
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CNN Anchors Caught On Camera Using Microsoft Surface As an iPad Stand

Ed Avis Re:Could have been worse (236 comments)

In terms of sheer numbers, I'd guess you are right: more Win32 applications have been written since 1995 or so than there are apps for iOS. Especially if you include in-house software.

In terms of applications to do something most people want to do, which is a subjective measure I admit, iOS may have the lead. Particularly so if you look for software that's optimized for tablet use: there are a lot of very capable Windows programs which are rather less usable on a tablet than with a physical keyboard and mouse, whereas iOS apps are all designed around touchscreen use.

For example, I've been looking for a map program (similar to Google Maps) that runs on a handheld Windows 7 PC with attached GPS. It's surprising how few choices there are that do the basic function of showing your GPS position on a map, and aren't some crusty thing last updated in 2004. True, if I included Windows 8 "Metro" apps there would be a wider choice, but still it is dwarfed by what you get on Android or iOS. (FTR - in the end I went with Anquet Maps for hiking maps and Mapfactor PC-Navigator for city use.)

about a month and a half ago
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Tetris Is Hard To Test

Ed Avis Re:One line? (169 comments)

It's analogous to testing itself. Testing cannot prove the absence of bugs, though it can find them. Similarly a coverage check cannot show that your test suite is adequate, but it can show it to be inadequate (or perhaps reveal dead code to prune). Nobody is claiming that coverage is the be all and end all of testing. That does not mean it is useless to measure it.

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Ed Avis Re:The Model F is even better (304 comments)

Yup, the PC-AT keyboard has the one true enter key in the large reverse L shape. After that things went downhill: the US layout for the Model M chopped off the top part and made Enter a thin horizontal line like Shift, and the international or ISO layout (which I normally use) chopped off the left hand part and left Enter as a rectangle: better than the US version, but still too small for one of the most frequently used keys on the board.

The biggest annoyance with the AT keyboard is the lack of F11 and F12 keys, if your applications use those (e.g. to step into statements in a debugger). The Esc key being on the numeric keypad is also odd but you get used to that.

There's also the 122-key Model F 'aircraft carrier', which has a much more modern layout, close to the international Model M layout.

But if you do prefer the US Model M layout (de gustibus non est disputandum, after all), then here's a way to modify the PC-AT keyboard: http://geekhack.org/index.php?...

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Ed Avis Re:The Model F is even better (304 comments)

Do you mean the 122-key Model F 'aircraft carrier' (I have a couple of those, but they require Soarer's Converter) or something else? I haven't heard of a 138-key version.

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Ed Avis Re:I love Model Ms. I still have two of them. (304 comments)

I have never heard of a Model M keyboard damaging a computer when plugged into the PS/2 keyboard port. After all, the PS/2 keyboard port is specifically designed for PS/2 keyboards, and the Model M is like the reference implementation. When driven over USB using an adaptor, it is true that a Model M will require more current than a newer keyboard, but still within the USB spec.

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Ed Avis Re:I love Model Ms. I still have two of them. (304 comments)

Recycle them? Noooo! Please tell us you at least gave them to a thrift store or sold them on Ebay. FWIW, the recommended PS/2 to USB adaptor is called the 'blue cube' and works well with the Model M. There's also Soarer's Converter which you can build yourself with a Teensy programmable microcontroller, and handles a wide range of old keyboards including the M.

about 2 months ago
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The Greatest Keyboard Ever Made

Ed Avis The Model F is even better (304 comments)

Model Ms are great. I have about a dozen of them. But the earlier Model F (based on capacitive switches underneath buckling spring) is even better. The Model F keyboard included with the original IBM PC excels in being heavy and clicky, but it has an awkward layout. The PC-AT introduced a much better layout, and the keyboard is electrically compatible with the later PS/2 plug (you just need a $2 adaptor). I am typing on a PC-AT keyboard now.

about 2 months ago
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Dell Demos 5K Display

Ed Avis Re:Anti-aliasing (204 comments)

I run a mixture of Dell UP2414Q and IBM T221 monitors. The Dell has 185 pixels per inch, the T221 a bit more. Personally I find that with 200% font scaling (in Windows) there is no need for anti-aliasing and I have it turned off.

about 3 months ago
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Dell Demos 5K Display

Ed Avis Re:DPI Scaling (204 comments)

Have you tried Windows's DPI scaling? I am using Windows 7 with 200% font size and it works well. Before that I used Windows XP and that worked almost as well. To get a usable scaled display, pick exactly 200% so that if icons have to be scaled up they do so cleanly - I agree that odd multiples like 150% can look ugly. Next, make sure Aero is turned off and switch back to a 'classic' theme. The scaling is set in Control Panel -> Display -> Set custom text size (DPI). I use this at work and PuTTY, Firefox, Microsoft Office and sundry other tools all work fine. The only things which don't scale, annoyingly, are the command prompt window and Remote Desktop.

about 3 months ago
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Dell Demos 5K Display

Ed Avis Re:In other news: Are 4K displays worth getting ye (204 comments)

It depends what you do. For text-based workflow (Emacs, web browsing, possibly an IDE) 30Hz is fine. I've even gone as low as 12Hz refresh (on an early model IBM T221 connected to a laptop with only a single DVI output) and it was usable. Tip: if you do end up with 30Hz, Nvidia cards let you turn off vsync. This seems to speed up refresh a bit, making the mouse pointer smoother.

about 3 months ago
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Dell Demos 5K Display

Ed Avis Re:in the meantime : (204 comments)

Try turning off Aero, going back to a 'classic' (Windows XP style) theme, and setting 200% font size scaling in Control Panel 'set custom text size (DPI)'. At least, this does the trick on Windows 7 and I expect 8 would be similar.

about 3 months ago
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Dell Demos 5K Display

Ed Avis Re:in the meantime : (204 comments)

Out of interest what monitor ran at 1920x1600? For desk space, many 24 inch monitors can rotate 90 degrees so they have a small footprint. (e.g. Dell UP2414Q rotated will give you 2160x3840)

about 3 months ago
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Dell Demos 5K Display

Ed Avis Re:In other news: Are 4K displays worth getting ye (204 comments)

FWIW, at work I use 24" 4k monitors with 200% font scaling on Windows 7, and pretty much every application works fine. The only thing which doesn't scale is the command prompt window. Note that I am talking about the old font size selector in Control Panel which has been there for years and years - the first thing to do is to turn off all of that Aero crap.

about 3 months ago
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Firefox 32 Arrives With New HTTP Cache, Public Key Pinning Support

Ed Avis Re:First impressions (220 comments)

Yes, I wonder the same thing. I use Pale Moon on a portable (Panasonic CF-U1) which has a reasonable amount of RAM (2 gigs) but the slowest hard disk you've seen since about 1988. The disk is an SSD but so slow it might as well be a floppy drive. Browsing is subject to freezes on disk activity and I guess that some of that might be due to the disk cache. Firefox's new code should help that, so it might make vanilla Firefox faster than Pale Moon on this machine.

about 3 months ago
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Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier

Ed Avis Re:Microsoft (267 comments)

Yes it needed to be a warning every time you run the Skype program.

about 4 months ago
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Skype Blocks Customers Using OS-X 10.5.x and Earlier

Ed Avis Re:Microsoft (267 comments)

Well, you get what you pay for I guess. But if Skype has ambitions to replace ordinary telephony, it needs to adopt some of the same attitudes. It would never be acceptable for your phone company to suddenly cut you off without warning and tell you to buy a new phone. They should have a minimum six month period in which they warn that you will need to upgrade. Mac OS 10.5 is the last version running on PowerPC; if you have an older iMac or Mac Mini then it is not that cheap to upgrade to an Intel one, even second-hand. Back in 1995 the idea of using a decade-old machine was laughable. But hardware has been at the 'fast enough' level for a while now and there is no longer so much difference between old and new machines for many applications. Sure, you wouldn't expect to run the latest games or 4k video editing on your old box, but most bread and butter things like text editing and Web browsing work just fine on older hardware. Voice-over-IP is one of those basic things nowadays (even with crappy webcam video accompanying it). I don't think it's an unreasonable expectation that your PC which was capable of making voice calls in 2004 should still be able to make them in 2014.

about 4 months ago

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