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Comments

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WRT54G Successor Falls Flat On Promises

FireFury03 Re:Nothing has changed (109 comments)

I work for a company which installs and deploys home / business networks for home automation purposes, and EVERY Linksys device we have tested, has inevitably ended up in the bin, not because they were faulty, but because they turned out to be rubbish.

To be fair, this is true of pretty much *all* consumer grade routers running the vendor's stock firmware.

Lets see, a few anecdotes from my own list of hardware:
  - Dlink router that decides legitimate traffic is some kind of an attack and blocks it, even when the firewall is disabled.
  - Netgear router that hangs when receiving certain well formed UPNP packets, even when UPNP is disabled. Also provides no information about the PPP link status, beyond "online" or "offline" so good luck trying to figure out why it won't connect if anything breaks.
  - TPLink router that won't automatically retrain the ADSL when running in bridge mode, even when the SNR has dropped to the point where all the packets are arriving as CRC errors (I reported this to TPLink - they tell me it is "expected behaviour" and therefore not a bug).

yesterday
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Student Records Kids Who Bully Him, Then Gets Threatened With Wiretapping Charge

FireFury03 Re:WTF?? (797 comments)

I don't understand how this is "wiretapping" - no *wires* were being tapped, this was a recording of a face to face conversation.

about a week ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

FireFury03 Re:Wanna give up on these guys yet ? (575 comments)

Wouldn't you have validated their password from the web portal side of things in the first place.

Ok, (1) what web portal? (2) when your email client is giving you a generic "something broke" message, how do you know to validate the password? Or are you going to validate *everything* one thing at a time until you (hopefully) find what's wrong rather than properly diagnosing the problem?

about a week ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

FireFury03 Re:Buy a certificate to retrieve your core dumps (575 comments)

Microsoft would probably do it the way it does crash reporting, where the user is given the option to automatically send error reports to Microsoft. The developer can retrieve these crash reports by 1. forming a corporation or LLC, 2. buying a certificate from VeriSign or DigiCert in this company's name, and 3. registering with Windows Dev Center Hardware and Desktop Dashboard (formerly Winqual).

Yes, because its so useful for the developer of your mail reader to get "password wrong" notifications instead of the person who's actually supporting that user...

about a week ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

FireFury03 Re:Wanna give up on these guys yet ? (575 comments)

>> I shouldn't need to tcpdump their IMAP traffic to discover that the server is telling them their password is wrong damnit!

You should use encryption and not be able to analyze the traffic anyway.

Oh, don't get me wrong, everyone uses encryption. Unfortunately a few times over the past couple of years I've ended up getting people to temporarilly turn encryption off so I can dump the traffic and see WTF is going wrong because the damned applications won't display or log a useful error. I know *most* people don't understand technical error messages, but would it kill them to stick a "details" button on the dumbed-down error popup to make it trivial for a techie to ask the user to click it and read out a more useful message?

about a week ago
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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

FireFury03 Re:Wanna give up on these guys yet ? (575 comments)

At least it fails gracefully with a clean error code. In Linux world it would show up as a dialog with corrupted text and a mysterious "Invalid argument" error message written in some log. ;)

Mostly under Linux the error messages are useful to someone technical. Increasingly other OSes (Windows, OS X, iOS, Android) consider useful error mesages to be not user friendly and just give you a generic "something broke" error that is no use to man nor beast - frequently I'm left digging out tcpdump to diagnose customer's problems because the application itself won't give me any information (yes, even in the system log) - I shouldn't need to tcpdump their IMAP traffic to discover that the server is telling them their password is wrong damnit!

about two weeks ago
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Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

FireFury03 Re:Why do people listen to her? (588 comments)

I think she is wrong to connect vaccines to autism. But attacking her personally is not necessary or relevant. Her general position that she is not against vaccines in general but only against un-safe vaccines is a valid position. Why bother nit-picking nuances or perceived contradictions in wording. It's all irrelevant. The only issue is: Are existing vaccines safe and could they be made safer? All else is nonsense.

The problem is: what constitutes "safe"? You're never going to have something that's completely safe, so it all comes down to probabilities. This is comparing the chance of your child being harmed through your actions (getting the vaccine) vs. the chance of them being harmed through your inactions (not getting the vaccine). Rationally, if getting the vaccine reduces the chances of the patient being harmed then obviously that is the right course of action, but does this make the vaccine "safe"? I suspect a lot of people take the irrational line that they don't want to take any action that might harm their child, but never properly think about the consequences of inaction, so go down the inaction line even if that is the worse choice.

Partly, there is a problem that diseases like measles aren't very common these days, to people perceive the risk to be very low. They ignore the fact that these deseases are uncommon *because* of vaccination.

Secondly, she seems to have a failure to understand basic statistics by her comment "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles" - this argument is comparing a certainty (the child has autism) with an uncertainty (that the child will suffer lasting damage from the measels). Given the choice between a certainly autistic child and a child with a small chance of dieing (or other serious complication from measels), I might make the same decision and go with the measels, but that's not the choice the anti-vaccination crowd are making. If the argument had been comparing two certainties - "If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the child to die from measles or have autism" - then I imagine the response would be very different.

Whether or not you believe that vaccines cause autism (and there is absolutely no evidence that they do), the above rational arguments still apply - if the chances of serious injury or death from measels for unvaccinated people is higher than the chances of autism for vaccinated people then having the vaccine is a complete no-brainer.

about two weeks ago
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Apple: Dumb As a Patent Trolling Fox On iPhone Prior Art?

FireFury03 Re:Yes, yes it is. (408 comments)

One obvious example is the keyboard/trackpad layout of all modern laptops. It was Apple on their PowerBooks who pushed the keyboard toward the screen, making room for palmrests and pointing devices below. Prior to that, everyone was putting keyboards tight against the lower edge. They didn't patent it, and the rest of the industry quickly followed.

It doesn't sound like an especially revolutionary concept, hardly worth a parent. It's basically like me patenting putting my kettle to the right of my toaster instead of to the left.

about two weeks ago
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European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs

FireFury03 Re:Cynicism (148 comments)

Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges.

This bill is about not having *any* roaming charges. You pay the same abroad as you do at home.

Yes, so they will make some money from me when I'm abroad, just as they do when I'm at home. Compared to, at the moment, them making nothing from me while I'm abroad.

about three weeks ago
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European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs

FireFury03 Re:Touristy places will be in for a surprise.. (148 comments)

While I largely agree, Google maps and translate can be pretty useful. And to a lesser degree, posting photos on social networks is nice, if not all that important.

I've found that preloading your tablet / phone with openstreetmap maps works extremely well - I spent 2 weeks navigating around the Canadian rockies with Osmand running on a tablet and had no problems. Posting photos on social networks can probably wait until you're within range of a wifi hotspot.

about three weeks ago
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European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs

FireFury03 Re:Touristy places will be in for a surprise.. (148 comments)

Would you go to a tourist place where your internet that you intend to use to keep in touch with home sucks? Maybe you will, but how many like you?

Yes, I would. Because oddly, when I'm on holiday I'm actually more interested in doing holiday type stuff than spending my time using the internet. Its useful *occasionally* (getting weather forecasts, etc.) but it's not a huge loss to not have it. Which is why I turn roaming data off on my phone when I go abroad and just use wifi hotspots in cafes, etc. on the occasions I want to use the internet.

about three weeks ago
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European Parliament Votes For Net Neutrality, Forbids Mobile Roaming Costs

FireFury03 Re:Cynicism (148 comments)

Option B : Mobile providers raise the standard charges the exact necessary amount to avoid having losses due to this law.

Option C : Mobile providers raise the standard charges more than necessary and justify the raise saying ordinary people need to pay for the yuppies who roam Europe in their sports cars while chatting on their phones.

The rates are largely set by the market - if they could get away with raising their standard rates, don't you think they would have already done so?

Also, you're ignoring a 4th option: they might actually make more money by having reasonable roaming charges. As an example, on my PAYG contract I pay £0.01/MB while at home, but while on a trip to Canada earlier in the year it would've been £6/MB - *600 times the domestic charge*. The upshot was that I simply turned off 3G on my phone and didn't use it at all - zero profit for the MNO. If the charges had been more reasonable then I probably would've left it turned on and they would've made some money. Same goes for voice calls too. (FWIW, roaming charges within the EU have been regulated for some time and are much much lower anyway)

This is basically the EU saying "you've shown you can't be trusted to not take the piss, so we're taking our ball and going home".

about three weeks ago
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Western Digital 'MyCloud' Is Down 5 Days and Counting

FireFury03 Re:When should you abandon a service for error? (127 comments)

I had something similar happen recently, my bank website authentication going out for four days (it was part of an upgrade that went bad).

That's pretty much unthinkable these days. It really made me think, if that's even possible it may be a good idea to abandon this bank for some other.

Would other people give a service a one time pass for a multi-day outage if they otherwise liked the service? Or should that be a flag to drop them, any time it occurs? If the criteria you use to leave a service is too strict, you may be switching often...

Things break unexpectedly - whilst it shouldn't happen, it does and so long as it doesn't happen frequently and the vendor is reasonably proactive I'd generally give them a pass (for one thing, moving a bank account or similar is probably more hassle than a one-off outage). If it keeps happening then yes, I'd move to a vendor that has historically shown to be able to run a more reliable service.

However, one thing that I think is unforgivable is when the vendor doesn't bother to actually keep their customers informed. A single "the service is down, sorry" post which doesn't give any ETA, progress updates or anything just isn't good enough. Tell the customer what's going on! It seems to be all too common to keep the customer as uninformed as possible these days, especially with the larger companies. I imagine it's a combination of PR damage mitigation and liability concerns, but its just not helpful to the customers - I'm much happier to give my business to a company who says "oops, sorry, we screwed up, here's what went wrong, but we've now investigated and put measures in place to make sure it doesn't happen again" than a company who has an unexplained outage and doesn't provide any information about it.

I'll give an example - back in the 90s I had my internet connection from a small ISP called Demon Internet. They were pretty good - the techies knew what they were doing and they gave regular status updates. If something went wrong, they would publish it. If an outage was caused by someone screwing up then they'd let everyone know, even if it's a stupid "oops we unplugged the wrong cable". Then they got bought by Thus, a much bigger company, and the "big company" mentality very quickly showed - the techies stopped talking to the customers, status updates rarely happened and they especially never admitted that they'd made a mistake. I wasted hours on several occasions debugging my CPE because they swore blind they had no network problems so it must be my end before it became very apparent that they did know about problems in their network and they were just trying to keep it quiet. And that is why I dropped them - I'm not interested in dealing with businesses that waste my time by covering up their problems and refusing to keep their customers informed.

WRT services like MyCloud, I do wonder what kind of terms & conditions they give the end user, given that this is essentially a paid-for service. If they provide absolutely no service guarantees and can shut it all down on a whim then clearly it isn't worth paying for.

about three weeks ago
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Astronauts' Hearts Change Shape In Space

FireFury03 Re:Spinning Space stations (113 comments)

Just to put it in perspective, IIRC from my high school days as the president of the school's Space Settlement Design Team (don't laugh, we qualified for the international-level finals every year we competed back in the very early 2000s!), a torus a mile in diameter needs to rotate once a minute in order to achieve 1g. Tethers or not, it's hard to keep something like that together.

Wikipedia suggests that you probably want to keep the speed at or below 2 rpm and certainly no more than 7 rpm.

about three weeks ago
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Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

FireFury03 Re:you have things backwards (192 comments)

So how exactly does making everything free spur innovation??

Firstly, being able to "stand on the shoulders of giants" is good for innovation. Patents often stop that, especially in a fast moving field like computing - having to wait for the patent to expire before you can build upon it is a problem. You may argue that someone who wants to build upon a patented technology should just licence it, but the licence fee may be out of the reach of many inventors. And that's assuming the patent owner is even interested in licensing it - they may well just tell you to bugger off.

Secondly, the constant fear of being sued into oblivion if you happen to accidentally infringe someone's patent is a brake on innovation. It's pretty much impossible to write software that doesn't infringe someone's patent these days, so you're basically relying on not pissing off the wrong people. And giving the existing big players the ability to shut down a new competetor before they even get going is certainly not good for innovation.

The original intention of patents was twofold:
1. give the inventor a limited time to profit from their invention and recoup development costs.
2. provide documentation of the invention so that, after the patent has expired, the public can build their own rather than being at the mercy of the inventor.
I certainly think both of these intents are great. Inventors *should* be able to recoup their development costs; but I don't think that's working these days - big companies ship such volumes that they are going to recoup their costs in short order anyway, and the small inventors simply can't afford to defend themselves, so the patents simply benefit the large companies (whether or not they are innovating) at the detriment to the small inventor. The second of these intents is a good thing too, but modern patents are trash - they are so thick with legalese that they're downright impossible to understand anyway, and the details are so scant that you wouldn't be able to reproduce the invention from the documentation provided in the patent.

So to my mind, the problems with patents currently outweigh the benefits.

about three weeks ago
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Supreme Court Skeptical of Computer-Based Patents

FireFury03 Re:The best the SCOTUS could do is wipe software p (192 comments)

I should add, the only people who think patents should be abolished are people who don't create anything.

Anyone who creates has a different opinion. I don't agree with current patent law and the situation, but ranting around about getting rid of them just makes you look ignorant.

No, I create stuff all the time and I think patents are a big problem. The stuff I create probably falls into 2 categories:
1. Stuff that someone else has already patented. And by that I mean I developed it on my own without knowledge of the existing patent, but someone somewhere probably already patented it. Patents are supposed to be novel enough that this should almost never happen, but we all know many modern patents are complete trash and a trained chimp could've come up with the same solution.
2. Stuff that someone else will patent at some point in the future.

Either way, I can't afford to patent all my own inventions, nor can I afford to litigate. So patents aren't helpful at all to me - they only serve to put the brakes on development because its basically impossible to write software without infringing someone's patent these days, so everyone is just living in hope that the patent holder doesn't notice or get pissed off with them. That isn't a healthy way to do things.

about three weeks ago
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Astronauts' Hearts Change Shape In Space

FireFury03 Re:Spinning Space stations (113 comments)

Spinning stations need to be large in diameter: the smaller the diameter, the faster you have to spin it, and the coriolis force starts to really screw with the people inside it. Great if you want the astronauts throwing up all the time. So spinning stations have to be big, which means expensive.

The alternative is to tether two stations together, but NASA have a history of serious problems with tethers.

about three weeks ago
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Dropbox's New Policy of Scanning Files For DMCA Issues

FireFury03 Re:Huh? (243 comments)

> And what if there is a hash collision?

Cryptographical hashes are designed to make that ridiculously unlikely. Go play buy a single ticket to the national lottery instead - you are far more likely to win the biggest price there than to every find a hash collision.

Its not quite the same thing. If you buy a lotto ticket then you have a single change of winning. In the case of dropbox, you have many chances of "winning" (consider how many files dropbox stores).

Of course you're right that a collision is incredibly unlikely, but I don't think your example is especially comparable.

about three weeks ago
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Daylight Saving Time Linked To Heart Attacks

FireFury03 Re:A simpler cure (240 comments)

I'm contactable during normal office hours. That they ain't the normal office hours in your time zone isn't my problem!

It becomes your problem when you lose all your customers.

about three weeks ago
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An Engineer's Eureka Moment With a GM Flaw

FireFury03 Re:Public service announcement (357 comments)

You should know how to control your car if the engine dies at speed.

This is what I don't get - yes there are rare situations where if your engine dies at the wrong moment you're going to be put in danger, but that isn't the norm. If your engine dies while you're doing 70mph down the motorway, the car doesn't suddenly burst into flames or spin off the road, it just starts slowing down (in fact, exactly like taking your foot off the accellerator does). In 6th gear, my car will go a *looong* way if I turn the engine off at 70mph and don't touch the brakes - certainly plenty of time to cross a couple of lanes and reach the hard shoulder. Even further in neutral.

3. Try the breaks, you likely have vacuum failure and they will be VERY hard. You may need to use both feet and literally stand on the peddle. But you need to at least know how they are going to react before you start your breaking procedure.

I would argue that you want to *avoid* using the brakes unnecessarilly - you'd usually get 2 - 3 good "pumps" of the brakes after the engine dies before you lose the assistance so you don't want to waste them. Additionally, if it's safe to do so then leaving your engine in a high gear will keep it spinning and therefore keep your brakes working (at the cost of slowing your car down more quickly.

Anyway, I certainly agree that teaching this stuff when people learn to drive would be a good idea - everyone should know what it's like to drive their car with no power steering or assisted brakes. You're going to have to do that if you ever need a tow anyway.

about three weeks ago

Submissions

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New rules for government departments' compliance with open standards

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

FireFury03 writes "Effective immediately, all British government departments are to comply with a set of Open Standards Principles (OSPs) when procuring for IT contracts. This follows a public consultation in which around 70% of respondents said they believed it would improve innovation, choice and value for money. Government sources say that although some suppliers have expressed reluctance to move towards OSPs, very few were able to articulate why they wouldn’t be beneficial.

Hopefully this will lead to fewer monolithic multi-million pound IT contracts going to the same old big businesses time after time, and more opportunity for small businesses to participate. Carving up a project and handing it to small businesses is likely very beneficial — less risk since the risk is spread amongst many suppliers, cheaper since there is more competition so less chance to overcharge like the big contractors currently do, and supporting small local businesses also helps the economy."

Link to Original Source
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Illegal downloaders 'face UK ban'

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The BBC is reporting that the UK government may be planning to force ISPs to ban customers who are using their internet connections to infringe copyright. Apparently about 10% of the UK population regularly infringe copyright over the internet and there is no comment on how the ISPs are expected to detect infringement."
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Active glacier found on Mars

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft has spotted an icy feature which appears to be a young active glacier. Dr Gerhard Neukum (what a cool name :), chief scientist on the spacecraft's High Resolution Stereo Camera said "We have not yet been able to see the spectral signature of water. But we will fly over it in the coming months and take measurements. On the glacial ridges we can see white tips, which can only be freshly exposed ice". Estimates place the glacier at 10,000 — 100,000 years old."
Link to Original Source
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Another warning over IPv4 address exhaustion

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The BBC is running a story on the IPv4 address exhaustion problem. The chairman of ICANN is warning that IPv4 addresses will probably run out in 2-3 years and we really need to roll out IPv6 now. The article notes that he is also Google's chief internet evangelist (Google still don't publish an IPv6 address for their search engine).

We keep getting these warnings, but very few ISPs and domestic router manufacturers seem to act (is it even possible to get a domestic ADSL router that does IPv6 without putting custom firmare on it yet?) Will we see a large scale roll-out of IPv6 soon, or will the industry wait until the sky falls in before acting?"

Link to Original Source
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Google Sky launches

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The BBC is reporting that Google have launched the Google Sky add-on for Google Earth. It will allow astronomers a chance to glide through images of more than one million stars and 200 million galaxies.

"Click a button and the world flips round and you see the sky from that particular location," explained Mr Parsons. "[The view] would be the constellations that you would see oriented in the sky on that particular day at that particular time." Users can overlay the night sky with other information such as galaxies, constellations and detailed images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Although so far I've been unable to find any information published by Google."

Link to Original Source
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UK petition for government IT projects to be open

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "There is a Petition on the UK government's website calling for publicly funded IT projects to be implemented as Free software. From the petition: "This would allow for more of the public to benefit from the development of the software since the code would be available for anyone to use and improve. Furthermore, compatibility with other Free licences (such as the GPL) would promote rapid development and reduced costs through the reuse of existing code.""
Link to Original Source
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OSC threatten BBC over Microsoft tie-in

FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 6 years ago

FireFury03 writes "After the BBC Trust approved the BBC's development of a Windows-only video-on-demand service in April, the Open Source Consortium is threatening the BBC with a complaint to the European Commission, since it gives Microsoft an unfair advantage and is not in the public interest. They have also complained to the regulator (Ofcom) and the BBC Trust comparing the situation to the BBC only making programmes that can only be watched on one particular brand of television.

As a licence fee payer, I feel that I should have the right to withhold a portion of my licence fee since the BBC obviously feels it appropriate to artificially restrict the content and therefore prevent a proportion of licence fee payers from legitimately accessing it. It is also interesting to note from the article that the BBC seems to consider supporting only Windows and Mac to be "platform agnostic", with no mention of other operating systems."

Link to Original Source
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "There is a petition on the British government's website calling for software projects funded by the tax payer to be released under a Free licence so that the tax payer can re-use the code they paid for and also examine the progress of the project. All to often these projects seem to over run and cost many times the original budget. This blog on the subject suggests that this is a common practice in the US — if corporate America can do it, why not everyone else?"
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "An unprecidented 19 countries have now responded during the contradictions phase of the ISO/IEC standardisation of Microsoft's OpenXML document format. At this time the responses haven't been made public and ECMA have the opportunity to propose resolutions, before the end of the month, to the problems cited. The question has to be raised — what will Microsoft do if the specification is rejected? Can they pressure the relevent people or will they have to withdraw the specification and work up a new, more sane one? In any case, it's good to see that there are some sane people who aren't completely under Microsoft's thumb involved in the standardisation process."
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "The British Standards Institute has issued a contradiction to Microsoft's OpenXML document format, blocking it's fast-track ISO standardisation for 90 days. The article states that "Proponents of the rival Open Document Format" are opposed to the format as there is "no point in having two document standards." This seems to miss the true problems with the (incomplete) OpenXML specification and the British Standards Institute have not yet stated the reasons for their objection."
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FireFury03 FireFury03 writes  |  more than 7 years ago

FireFury03 writes "linux.com has an article about how eBay are discriminating against Linux users after revising their Sell Your Item web tools.
"The tool is the sellers' auction setup wizard officially named Sell Your Item. eBay rolled out Sell Your Item 3.0 at the end of the summer, adding some more AJAX-ified flair and polish. It was October before I dusted off a relic in need of selling and tried the new form for myself, and found that it didn't work in Linux."
The article goes on to say that kludging your browser's User-Agent string to pretend to be Windows works around the problem, although I haven't got it to work (it serves up a different version of the page but it's still broken). Whilest you can still use the old system to list new items, there doesn't seem to be any solution for those of us who listed items with the new tool and now want to go back to revise the listing without any access to Windows machines."

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