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'Seriously Kelly? I may as well call YOU the unelected networks tsar'

Plus: 'Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more?'

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Quotw This was the week that hard-working Reg hack Kelly Fiveash came in for some flack over her presentation of Steelie Neelie's latest comments on the lack of IT skills in Europe.

Kroes said in a speech at CeBIT that the European Commission had put together a €1m coalition to address the issue:

This coalition is not about reinventing the wheel. It should be about building on existing success. I want people to be open in their commitments, join forces where they see the chance, and recognise we need to do things differently.

Quite simply, facing hundreds of thousands of unfilled vacancies, we cannot continue as we were; and we must all do our bit. I know it needs us all to invest resources: but the payoff will be for everyone.

This is serious: it matters to our people, to our global competitiveness, to our very future. But the European Commission can't do it alone. We can only reach our goals if all of us work together.

The hack's suggestion that this oratory may be slightly overstating the gap in IT skills and that his boss was an "unelected digital czar" were not appreciated by Ryan Heath, spokesperson for Neelie Kroes, who commented:

Seriously Kelly?

I may as well write an article about you calling you the "unelected networks tsar" at The Register.

By the way she was giving an off-the-cuff speech based on a few scribbled bullets, and there is a more detailed speech from 4 March - which a basic Google search would have found for you on http://ec.europa.eu/rapid

And no we aren't as dumb as you imagine, which happens to be why a long list of the biggest ICT companies in the world want to be a part of the effort: because they know there really is a skills gap and numbers of IT graduates are shrinking right when they need to be growing... kind of like your levels of research and courtesy need to grow.

This probably all sounds very harsh - but so is your article - and we are trying to make a real effort, without any cash at our disposal, to help people who need a job. So please reflect a little on that.

This was also the week when not one but two Linux-spawning penguins were mouthing off and there are no prizes for guessing who one of them was. The other one was Gnome co-founder and current Xamarin CTO Miguel de Icaza who likened the current Linux landscape to Chernobyl.

Icaza said in a blog post about how he loves Apple now:

To me, the fragmentation of Linux as a platform, the multiple incompatible distros, and the incompatibilities across versions of the same distro were my Three Mile Island/Chernobyl.

He also revealed how he hardly bothers with Linux anymore anyway because he's become a dyed-in-the-wool fanboi - apparently this is not the "easy path" - so hasn't booted up his penguin/gnome workstation in months:

Computing-wise that [vacation to Brazil I took my Mac on] turned out to be very relaxing. Machine would suspend and resume without problem, WiFi just worked, audio did not stop working, I spend three weeks without having to recompile the kernel to adjust this or that, nor fighting the video drivers, or deal with the bizarre and random speed degradation that my ThinkPad suffered.

While I missed the comprehensive Linux toolchain and userland, I did not miss having to chase the proper package for my current version of Linux, or beg someone to package something. Binaries just worked.

Linux just never managed to cross the desktop chasm.

If you did guess that Linus Torvalds was the other chatty penguin this week, congratulations. He was discussing how he might make a Chromebook Pixel his main computer, which seems nice... but wait. During this Google+ post on how Pixels are great, he still managed to use the forum as a way to say that all other PCs were terrible, oh and Pixels aren't that great either:

One thing that the Chromebook Pixel really brings home is how crap normal laptops have become. Why do PC manufacturers even bother any more? No wonder the PC business isn't doing well, when they stick to just churning out more crappy stuff and think that "full HD" (aka 1080p) is somehow the epitome of greatness.

I'm still running ChromeOS on this thing, which is good enough for testing out some of my normal work habits (ie reading and writing email), but I expect to install a real distro on this soon enough. For a laptop to be useful to me, I need to not just read and write email, I need to be able to do compiles, have my own git repositories etc...

Self-proclaimed "cyborg" Steve Mann is in a similar position to Linus Torvalds, he really likes Google Glass, just like Torvalds digs the Pixel, but he has his reservations too.

He said:

On one hand, it's immensely satisfying to see that the wider world now values wearable computer technology. On the other hand, I worry that Google and certain other companies are neglecting some important lessons.

It's not so much how your brain processes information thrust mere millimetres from your eyeballs, but more about how you feel when you take the glasses off:

Virtual-reality researchers have long struggled to eliminate effects that distort the brain's normal processing of visual information, and when these effects arise in equipment that augments or mediates the real world, they can be that much more disturbing.

It's astounding to me that Google and other companies ... haven't leapfrogged over my best design (something I call 'EyeTap Generation-4 Glass') to produce models that are even better. Perhaps it's because no one else working on this sort of thing has spent years walking around with one eye that's a camera. Or maybe this is just another example of not-invented-here syndrome.

Meanwhile, the file-sharing links site that thinks piracy is fine as long as it's not used against it, The Pirate Bay, announced that it was upping cyber-sticks for the politically balmier climes of South, North Korea. The site said:

Today we can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network.

This is truly an ironic situation. We have been fighting for a free world, and our opponents are mostly huge corporations from the United States of America, a place where freedom and freedom of speech is said to be held high. At the same time, companies from that country are chasing a competitor from other countries, bribing police and lawmakers, threatening political parties and physically hunting people from our crew. And to our help comes a government famous in our part of the world for locking people up for their thoughts and forbidding access to information.

We believe that being offered our virtual asylum in Korea is a first step of this country's changing view of access to information. It's a country opening up and one thing is sure, they do not care about threats like others do. In that way, TPB and Korea might have a special bond. We will do our best to influence the Korean leaders to also let their own population use our service, and to make sure that we can help improve the situation in any way we can. When someone is reaching out to make things better, it's also ones duty to grab their hand.

It took the interwebs mere minutes to uncover their ruse, which didn't stop them from popping out two days' later to explain that it was a "prank".

And finally, an Apple employee has broken rank with the Cupertino Collective to actually admit something the fruity firm put together isn't totally smack-your-face awesome. Speaking about iDevice video output, the anonymous hero said in a comment on a blog:

Certain people are aware that the quality could be better and others are working on it. For the time being, the quality was deemed to be suitably acceptable. Given the dynamic nature of the system (and the fact that the firmware is stored in RAM rather then ROM), updates **will** be made available as a part of future iOS updates. When this will happen I can’t say for anonymous reasons, but these concerns haven’t gone unnoticed.

®

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