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Desktop Linux, hidden mobile phones and Prince Harry

Most mixed bag ever

Letters We don't like to shy away from controversy here at El Reg as regular readers will know, so let's kick off with the Linux-on-the-desktop, why-hasn't-it-taken-off-yet? debate. We have donned our flame-proof underpants, and are prepared for anything you can throw at us:

I have to disagree with your comment that Linux on the desktop needs better sales people. I am not a Linux user, but I have tried it and abandoned it for one simple reason. I play a lot of games, and 99% of these don't run on Linux. I cannot be bothered running two OS's because at the end of the day, I am still paying for Windows.

IMO at the moment Linux does office stuff and web stuff really well. I am not so sure on the entertainment side of things.

But of course it is a catch-22, game programmers won't write for Linux with such a small market share, but the market share won't really increase without more apps.


Linux file system is still crap though. Unless your a complete propeller head, you can't find anything! I'm sorry but no sensible 'normal' person would want to touch it with a barge pole when even the guru's say it is confusing /dev/sbin/usr/etc...


Hi John,

What Linux needs is ***USER FRIENDLY DISTROS*** that install all standard hardware like internal MODEMS, CD/DVD drives, Networks, USB, etc. Until the Linux Distro folks GET A FRIGGIN CLUE they are gonna have a tough sell. We have TWO distros from SuSe that we REMOVED because SuSe could not and/or would not provide an installation solution for a standard U.S. Robotics/3COM (Rockwell style), internal modem, (NOT A WIN Modem).

As far as we are concerned, we'd switch to Linux YESTERDAY if weI could get a decent Distro & the Support we PAID SuSE for and NEVER RECEIVED!!! Then all we'd need is the Windows software mfgs. to GET A FRIGGIN CLUE and write Linux versions of their Windoze software so businesses can do a pain-free migration without having to teach their employees a complete new suite of software apps.

But from what I see the Linux folks simply don't care to sell Linux. They want to keep it a "geeks" O/S and not allow the masses to enjoy the benefits of Linux. Pretty damn foolish with the Windoze backlash that currently exists...


Ouch - some of those extra capitals were a little warm. We nearly got singed despite our asbestos undergarments.

Next, let's take a stroll through the wonderland that is the Adobe/Macromedia tie-up:

This one wins the "Scariest Merger of the Month" award.

Between themselves these two probably hold the biggest UI patent war chest in the industry. Everything from how to put buttons to tabbed menus. So far, they have used it mostly on each other.

Now they are a single company and it will be very interesting where will they point their litigation guns.


A small correction about Acrobat's ability to handle continuous text:

This point in your article dated 19th April is factually incorrect:

"Adobe continues to add features to its flagship Acrobat product, while failing to address basic failings such as the inability to copy continuous text from even single-column PDFs."

The latest version of Acrobat (7) has rectified this issue which has certainly made my life a lot easier.

Thought you should know.



And now we do. Cheers.

Next, your thoughts on the duality of processing, and processor pricing:

I don't think its that consumers are less likely to understand the difference [between single and dual-core processors], but that - for now - dual cores are less of an improvement on the desktop than on the server.

On the server, programs are already threaded, many times in the extreme; so, on the server side, a dual core does come close to doubling the performance offered by a single core at the same clock. On the desktop, most of the programs people run that they currently don't feel are fast enough (i.e., games, graphics) are not threaded or at least not threaded well, so they won't really be able to take advantage of the speed boost.

The numbers from the Intel Extreme dualie already bear this out, with reviewers having to encode a DVD while they play a game to see any speed-boost.

As such, if AMD were to use their current desktop p.r. system for the dual cores, the numbers might actually be lower. I think both intel and amd realize that the only way to not outright lie to the consumer, but still get them to buy the dual core chips (and thus improve the performance boost dual cores get by adding to the MPC installed base which adds to the MPC developer numbers...) is to rebrand the dual core chips...


Next, a self confessed pedant writes in response to Denzel Washington's suggestion that he would respond in iambic pentameter to cell phones interrupting a performance of Julius Caesar:

Dear Lester

Sorry to be a horrible pedant, but "Answereth that, my lord. My lord, it is for you" is neither iambic nor a pentameter. As a journalist, there's no shame at all in your not spotting that, but as an actor, Denzel has no right at all to be performing Shakespeare if he doesn't understand the basics of the bard's favourite poetic form.

I suppose he could say "AnsWEReth that, my lord. It is for you", which is an iambic pentameter, but not very good English. Or perhaps, "Security! That man must be removed." or "F*** off and don't bring back that f***ing thing", if he wanted to reflect the mood of the people sitting near the source of the noise.



It's all been done before! I was at a Lee Konitz (the sax player) gig in Dublin when some idiot's mobile went off. Konitz responded with a variation on the theme of the ringtone to the great amusement of the audience.


Can't compare with Brian, from the Rogues ( During one performance a cell phone went off. He climbed down off the stage and answered the woman's phone for her: "She can't come to the phone right now. She's at a bagpipe concert". The rest of the group kept right on playing as the audience erupted.


I can't imagine Sly doing Shakespeare, but the following might be appropriate:

2 gents from Verona: 'Go presently and take this ring with thee'

or perhaps from Alls Well That Ends Well 'Know you this ring? this ring was his of late'

but perhaps my favourite (Henry IV Part 2): What! canst thou not forbear me half an hour? Then get thee gone and dig my grave thyself, And bid the merry bells ring to thine ear.



Texas bans Wi-Fi at roadstops to stop truckers perving at porn.Very sensible, you say:

An ideal example of the bass akwards mentality of our lawmakers. Would it not be far more effective to make accessing pornography in public rest areas illegal? Or are we officially all too stupid to be held accountable for not surfing porn in the company of strangers' kids?

If I prove that porn stars and strippers drive on Texas Highways can I hold the DOT liable? Possibly the toll booths?

Such insulting lawmaking makes one contemplate emigration.


Reuters took a hit as an instant messaging worm ran amok last week. How could this be? You wondered:

I thought they used pigeons!


A minor diversion from the pure tech track now, while we consider the EU clampdown on genetically modified organisms:

On the one hand, it must be said that anything the EU does which is not strictly in line with what Washington like is qualified either as an "overreaction", or as a mistake.

Correspondingly, the US quite often overreacts itself whenever it has been displeased, and promptly finds a way to "punish" the "Old World" just like a playground bully. On the other hand, I must say that to block a few tons of GM crop now is far too little, and far too late.

GM crops have been shoved down our throats since the first lab rat failed to die of food poisoning. Ever since, Monsanto & Co have been happily producing the stuff and contaminating crops all over the world.

This business should have been halted right away, and contained in the US where it started.

Any "test" batches should have been grown in closed domes to ensure the best possible protection from accidental, uncontrolled seeding. And testing should have been a rigorously-controlled, scientific endeavour of years (and thousands of lab rats). All of that has been overlooked for years now.

So it certainly isn't a few tons of stuff that is going to have any sort of impact. We're all lab rats now, and testing is being done in production.


Dare I point out that the US also tried to say that BSE infected cattle were safe to eat?

From The Guardian: "Ms Veneman said that only the "muscle cuts" had been sent for processing for human consumption and there was no record of the disease being transmitted through the meat. The brain and spinal column had been sent to a "rendering facility" elsewhere, but she did not specify how it had been used."


You were probably wondering when we'd get to this one. The story of a mobile phone thief who decided to hide her ill-gotten gains in a rather private place certainly grabbed your attention. It got more hits yesterday that the next top two stories combined. We can only conclude that you all have very dirty minds:

I find this story unlikely and I invite you to try the following (perfectly safe experiment) to see why. Ask someone to ring your phone while it is sandwiched between you and another person (i.e. put it on your chest and hug someone). A folding phone is good because you can't accidentally press any buttons. Your phone will be unobtainable. I have done this 'trick' in several classes and it has always worked so far. Why? Well the radio signal from the nearest mast is absorbed by human tissue and has a penetration depth of only a few centimetres at most.

I suspect that this story may be an exaggeration and the thief may just have placed the phone in her underwear.

All the best


Whilst I would never dispute the veracity of the story, I find it hard to believe; Simply because the latest mobile phones seem to be rendered utterly silent by secreting them in such places as a) jacket pocket b) coat c) trouser pocket d) under some paperwork.

I'm rather surprised that some enterprising Reg Hack hasn't taken a phone and £40 quid to an independent tester to evaluate the story once and for all. Until this time I'm going to err on the side of caution and get the largest phone possible with the most pointy antennae. Actually, I'm not sure that's a deterrent.

Keep up the good work!


Turning it off would mean they would have to put the PIN code (which they wouldn't have) in order to make calls. And I should think if they put in on vibrate, ringing it a few times should bring the culprit to attention.


Whilst I don't doubt that your suggestion that a female mobile thief sets her purloined item to vibrate before stashing it was well intentioned, she will still be easy to identify. Simply look for the woman with the silly grin and dreamy look on her face while the thing is ringing :-)


Forget the insurance claim, stick it on eBay... I bet someone would buy it for a LOT more than it's worth!


One word for that, Matt: Ew.

Lastly, we come to Prince Harry, and his failure to pass the army's PC test:

Why, if he is such a plonker, is he trying to become an officer. I will ignore the obvious breeding, breeding, breeding, and of course the essential stupidity, and breeding.

Surely cannon fodder would be a more appropriate position.


The job of an officer is to be deceived, gently, by his or her Sergeant, who can then get on with business of honest soldiering. CF Terry Pratchett's Monstrous Regiment.

But he did go to a good school, didn't he?

Didn't he?

I mean, there's all this money been spent on teaching kids to use computers in schools.

Oh, right, government computer project. 'nuff said.

But he did go to a good school.


[quote]It's just as well Harry wants to join a regiment with a strong Polo-playing history (such as the Household Cavalry), skills that will doubtless see him in good stead when he's eventually given charge of a group of the men defending the realm against Britain's 21st century enemies.[/quote]

Concerning the above comments made by one John Leyden, I'd recommend that next time he decides to take a snipe at the British Army, he does a brief amount of background work. The Household Cavalry, of whom I am soon to be a member, currently going through Army Recruit Training at Pirbright as I am, is a two-role Regiment, with both Ceremonial Duties and Light Armoured Reconnisance role.

It's the H.Cav that are on the front-line, directing heavier armour to targets, carrying out recce and essentially being the eyes and ears of the main force using Scimitar light armoured tanks, equipped with cutting edge technology.

Our Ceremonial role is also not only an exceptionally proud aspect of the Regiment, in that we are one of the most senior Regiments in the British Army, but also that we are entrusted with such duties as escorting Royalty and other foreign VIP.

It's common for Regiments within the British Army to have sports as a main feature, it's the motto of the Army.. Work hard, play hard. Be it Rugby, Football, Ski-ing or Polo, every sport has its merits, and no Regiment should be slated for it.

Please consider your snipes more carefully in the future. The amount of pride and dignity we as Household Cavalry Troopers, cannot be understood by most people. In the British Army, everyone takes their cap badges and what they stand for both seriously, and personally.

Yours, Rct C.Yuill

Hmmm...perhaps a little too seriously...It is just possible that you have missed the point of John's remark.

Wow, it's amusing to see the Register following in the fine British tradition of heaping tabloid trash on its readers -- as if anyone f***ing cares what implements your royalty use to pick their noses with.

Oh, I'm sorry, this is the Register, where we get paid to sit around thinking up smug witticisms about the world outside the safe confines of our designer cubes.

Stop adding to the hysteria and leave the f***ers alone. Pick on someone else for a change.


Don't worry - he won't be reading this. It's on the internet, isn't it? Nevertheless, since you've asked (and so nicely, too) we'll leave the poor little Prince alone and get on with picking on Microsoft. Deal?

More on Friday. ®

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