* Posts by Damian Skeeles

43 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Sep 2007

Australia wants law to ban de-anonymisation of anonymous data

Damian Skeeles

A vote for the bill

Ok, early days yet, but insofar as my thought processes have developed on this, I'm supportive.

You can see why the bill is proposed - to deter insurance companies from trying to reverse engineer the data, and to be able to penalise them and shut them down if they do. It's data. It's hugely valuable for them. You HAVE to legislate against it, because if you don't, they can invest more than any university (indeed, can sponsor THEM) to deanonymise it.

Also, deidentification is not crypto. Once someone has made a viable attack on your crypto cipher, you can phase it out for all future use. With de-identification, you can't recall all the anonymised data and anonymise it differently. It's already out there. Then you'll need to legislate against it, sharpish! Assuming no-one else has already cracked it and is happily, legally, already dropping funeral home ads into the feeds of relatives of a person who doesn't even know his chance of dying in the next 90 days is statistically probable from medical analytics.

So, yeah, legislation against deanonymisation is reasonable. By all means provide an exception and licensing scheme for researchers to try and crack it, under NDA and strict terms. But set the default to illegal, to provide the stick where necessary.

Marriott: The TRUTH about personal Wi-Fi hotel jam bid

Damian Skeeles

Evil twins

As another commentator said here, their "NEW" explanation is valid and reasonable - they want to block evil twin APs that might be attacking their guests.

That's very chivalrous of them. However, blocking real tethered hotspots so guests have to use their wifi "yes sir, the reception can be very spotty in some rooms", would be much more lucrative.

If they started jamming cellphones, and someone complained to the FCC, they would get huge fines. Better to ask permission first.

And if they were merely jamming evil twin APs.... Then why not just go ahead and do it? I'm sure every other corporation does. Or maybe they're just really scared that the hackers going to complain to the FCC?

Nod Labs forges one (Bluetooth) ring to rule them all

Damian Skeeles

What an utter waste

Ok - so I assume these developers are the ones Google and Jawbone didn't mind losing...

They've got a great tech in the size and form factor, and yet they're showing complete lack of imagination in the UX. It's a new HID that needs a new UI.

I want to be virtually flicking my finger through playlists and have it translate that to scroll forward/back gestures of varying range, yet they proudly display someone erratically waving around an onscreen keyboard. The Onion "MacBook Wheel" sums it up.

As for text input needs - how about voice recognition/headset profile?

Someone send them "Minority Report". On betamax.

Sysadmins: Keep YOUR data away from NSA spooks

Damian Skeeles

Before PRISM

Hey Aaron,

I think this article is a bit kneejerk - the issues regarding data sovereignty, snooping, etc are wider than PRISM, and so are the mitigations.

The PATRIOT act predates PRISM, and has been seen as a risk of US authorities accessing records relating to companies holding data in US data centres. Some commentators judge PRISM to be a wiretap, in which case it may be irrelevant to encrypted data.

Also, you don't mention network or data-at-rest encryption, which is an effective control. I remember a data commissioner stating that data encrypted at rest using AES-256 didn't matter where it was hosted, assuming there was no legislative ability to demand it be decrypted, as the host service provider / state authorities / whoever could not read it.

Finally; you don't mention the data value. If its a public website, sure, why not host it in the cloud.

I agree there are large legislative hurdles to Cloud adoption, which some CSPs work hard to address - such as Amazon opening a Sydney DC. Most are technical hurdles, and there are generally technical means to work around those.

Fire danger as iOS mislocates towns, again

Damian Skeeles


You question why it's necessary to have this as an app.

Well, it's necessary in order to get people to use it. It's a 2-way app, which in effect is crowdsourcing. And as any review or feedback-based website knows, if your app isn't absolutely gorgeous and easy to use, then people won't bother.

If the CFA HADN'T launched a fully native app, everyone would have been lamenting about their antiquated methods, that everyone uses open APIs and google maps, and an open request that someone launch it as an app in place of the website.

I suspect that when they did, everything was fine and dandy. Then when Apple launched IOS 6, every native map-based app switched from Google Maps to Apple maps, and like this, suffered. Most devs have now updated their apps following the launch of Google's native maps app to use Google's iOS API, but as opposed to the consumer-driven apps that live and die by App Store ratings, many Government apps like this one that were part of a fixed project Lifecycle, will remain un-updated for a while.

Culpa Apple, methinks. They fundamentally change the world's usage of, well, mobile, data, and the Internet - base every location-related on Google Maps, and then break the model. I forget the film, but to paraphrase an Alan Arkin character "it's impossible to conceive how they could have f****ed up more!".

Apple is granted a patent on the rectangle. No, really

Damian Skeeles
Thumb Up

El Reg are GENIUSES!


World+dog yawn over NFC smartphone shopping

Damian Skeeles

Apple have the best chance

I order my mochachocachino and extra fat muffin, and the till guy says: "That'll be £17.85 please."

I launch the payment app on my phone, which was in my hand anyway, and tap it on the NFC sensor. Beep! Payment made.

No fishing in my wallet. No bulky change. No resting my MasterCard Paypass on the reader for 20 seconds while it goes "reading... Authenticating... Making payment... Payment approved" (WTF?!?) And they wonder why it doesn't catch on?!?)

I get a end-of-day statement from Apple with all my transactions. Starchucks Coffee gets my detailed usage from Apple, including what I ordered, what my social profile is, etc because I opted to volunteer all that when I joined their coffee club in return for free extras and free wifi. Maybe I explicitly authorised Starchucks to debit my account without confirmation from my payment app, whereas backpack attackers would prompt a confirmation dialogue on my phone (think Bluetooth "do you wish to accept mycarad.mp4?")

If the next iPhone launches with NFC payment, are retailers going to say "Ha, no-one uses iPhones. And anyway, we don't want that demographic!". Or are they going be calling their payment processors: "Bloody support Apple NFC payments YESTERDAY!"

Nope. Apple made tablets happen. They can make eMoney happen. The big fly in the ointment is Visa and MasterCard, who would prefer that Apple don't grab a chunk of their revenue. Although my iTunes balance (and my Starchucks coffee) is paid daily from my visa card. If iPhones take 5% of cash transactions in high-street retail to Mastercard and Visa instead, they might not mind too much.

And, of course, there are financial regulators to think about... Worldwide.

But still. NFC/eMoney has been a joke, in that there are so many disparate, half-arsed proof-of-concept / pilot efforts out there. If anyone can do it, Apple can; the question is whether it's beyond even them.

True Utility Scarab and KeyTool micro multi-tools

Damian Skeeles


I got hooked on the Sebertool M4, which has now been bought out and is sold as the IDL T10 (http://www.idltools.com/products/t10/). Love it - nice square, chunky feel, that I prefer to the Leatherman - handy, and small. I bought a new one every time I either lost it, or accidentally forgot to baggage it before going through airport security and got it confiscated - although again, when I did forget, it still got through more often than it didn't.

Apple's iOS 4 beams into unprepared world

Damian Skeeles

Enough with the anti-fanbois

Fanbois / anti-fanbois - it's all getting a bit much..

I bought an iPhone, not because it was revolutionary OR magical, but because a load of rich/fanboi folk bought it before me. So when National Rail considered whether to launch a train tracking app, they did a business case analysis, which probably went like this:

"OK - there's a load of rich folk who have these phones, and use trains. So - it'll cost us X Pounds to set up all the back end servers, APIs, reliable data feeds - all the infrastructure to actually make this work. It'll cost us Y Pounds to commission a decent app to present all this data to users in a very usable way. But we know they'll pay #5 a time to buy this app, and we'll make a profit! Let's do it!"

And I went: "Wow, that's actually useful. True, I can do it on WAP - but this is quicker, easier, more detailed - better in every way! A bit pricey, but I'll buy it".

Streetcar: now I can find/book/unlock my car with my iPhone. Can I with Android? No. Can I with a Nokia N1/2/3/4/5/6/78/9/00/000/000000? No. (And don't get my wrong, I loved my SH888, my P800, K610i, and most of all, my 5mx)

It's not about the camera resolution. It's not about what kind of multitasking there is. It's definitely not the fart apps. It's because the iPhone is a solid business case for so many content/service providers, who will actually produce something really worth using/watching, rather than something based on "whatever's free out there" - actually putting some time and money into providing really good stuff that people (particularly those who have already paid over the odds for their phone) will be happy to pay for.

'nuff said

Damian Skeeles

Why I'm sticking with 3.1.2 for a while

Simple reasons:

- Spotify

- OutFront (MapMyTracks)

- Plus (spreadsheet)

If I go for a run, I want Spotify in the background playing my not-quite-purchased music, OutFront tracking my location and route, while I check emails and take occasional photos while running. Or use Plus to track my gym program, at the gym, without having to reopen the sheet every time I re-open the app. And yes, I Jailbroke 3.1.2 to install (free) Backgrounder, which allows all these things to happen, rather well.

THAT improves my life. Which is the point of all this technology (isn't it?). So I guess I'll have to wait for each and every developer, large and small, to upgrade their apps to iOS4 compatibility, and then somehow test that it all plays nicely, before I actually upgrade my iPhone.

(Oh... and that backgrounded Spotify will still work with my bluetooth headphones... which it currently more or less does).

Ubuntu tablet threat to iPad? Nah

Damian Skeeles
Jobs Horns

Shame - someone needs to beat the iPad

In a sense, it's a shame: the iPad isn't quite so revolutionary, in that most apps are basically the iPhone version either bolted side-by-side (folder/item or menu/item), or fullscreen 'HD'. No sign of Minority Report or Avatar swooshing and sweeping there!

It's a fair point about the competition, however, and Linux hobbyists aren't well-known for their ability to muster the level of UI innovation and polish that would 'make' such a device. I guess it's up to Google or perhaps Microsoft(?!) to come up with the really innovative stuff then - 3D, smoothly-rotatable tag clouds from search terms, 3D rotatable hyperlinked & overlaid world maps (Hmmm...), etc.

Vodafone shocks data users with roaming price rise

Damian Skeeles

Bye bye business user?

Here was I thinking Vodafone were progressive for offering practical data bundles. As soon as I found O2 willingly unlocked contract iPhones, I leapt on the chance of using my Vodafone SIM in it. when abroad Every time my plane taxis, the little bent paperclip comes out of my bag to eject the iPhone SIM carrier, take out the O2 SIM, and put in my Vodafone one. Every time I get home, the O2 one goes back in. In the process, O2 lose hundreds of pounds to Vodafone for my roaming data and voice calls, simply because I don't have to be so careful about using my iPhone, at Vodafone's old prices.

So - I'm mystified as to why Vodafone wants to do this. The data volumes are negligable for impact on the network - roaming data is just a revenue machine - but with this new pricing, they're no longer way ahead of their competitors!

Jesus Phone in shock Opera browser benediction

Damian Skeeles

Handy for roaming

I'm looking forward to this - if the data compression is any good, then I'll be less reluctant to open my browser when roaming abroad at £3 or £6 / MB (or just putting my Vodafone SIM in instead).

iPhone must-have crowd inflates UK gadget insurance claims

Damian Skeeles

18 month contract

This could perhaps be considered very relevant to the longer contracts that operators moved to a few years back.

When the standard term was 12 months, it meant that you would buy the latest and greatest, and then a phone with genuinely new and useful features probably wouldn't appear until your contract was up anyway.

These days, with most consumers taking 18- or even 24-month contracts, it means that while they are watching Steve prancing up and down the stage in San Fran the following year, they will be regarding the remaining 14 months of their existing contract with disdain.....

Too much sitting can kill: Official

Damian Skeeles
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Stand for Swedes

No-one's mentioned that many Swedes actually stand at their desk.

I worked at a company where they did these. The staff had big workbench-style desks with electric motors that can change to a height suitable for using a chair or standing.

Sounds weird to stand at your desk, but it was a welcome change - it's comfortable for at least an hour, and then you can lower the desk and sit for a while.

O2 and Be Broadband speeds dip

Damian Skeeles

Virgin Media = Ryanair = Tequila

Despite my better judgement, I'm awaiting my Virgin Media installation at my new home. A freeview coverage blackspot means I'll need them for TV anyway, so I bit the bullet on the rest. The omens are not good, since they've already called me to confirm delivery a day later than promised on a day I won't be here. Unfortunately the human phone-bot didn't understand the concept of my being "not in on that day", and wouldn't reschedule, so I'll have to take my chances with whatever transpires.

I last had Virgin (then NTL) in 2001; it's taken me nine years to get over that experience. And my provider in the meantime was Bulldog!

Virgin Media = Ryanair = Tequila. You tell yourself "never again". But you forget so quickly.... In other words - Be may be a few kbps slower, but don't forget about customer service as well!

The return of the Psion-sized PC

Damian Skeeles

Must fix mine

I still have my 5mx... just need to replace the ribbon cable (I have a spare). I've been meaning to do that for 5 years now.

Much as I would dearly love Paul Pinnock to succeed (I took my 5mx down to Streatham once for him to fix), I can't see any way that he would. I'd consider myself a Psion fan, but I wouldn't buy this. The 5mx's success was due to it's fast OS, embedded objects, and this has none of those.

Surely Psion could license use of the keyboard to a willing manufacturer - whether it be POS, SonyEricsson (who have had the MC218 before now), Nokia, whoever? I assume the fact the only place I've ever seen this keyboard turn up, without the hinge mechanism, is in the Amstad @mailer, suggests it's more than a question of just licensing it....

Apple IDs the next-generation iPhone

Damian Skeeles
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Apple will succeed where others failed

Here's hoping that the main implementation of this NFC will be for e-money.

Let's face it - in Europe and the US, every attempt to provide an alternative to hard cash has fizzled and died. Each attempt has suffered from limited choice and poor uptake; Barclaycard are trying to ride on the back of Oyster in the UK, but you have to live in London, use/like Barclaycard, and want to spend money at the few retailers that have subscribed. Paris has some more successful cashless systems - but more than one. There's no ubiquity.

With Apple and the iPhone... Apple have the potential to manage the hardware, the software, the online store, the payment process, APIs and applications that use it - the entire ecosystem end-to-end. They have the commercial and marketing clout to get a few key big retailers or service providers to subscribe to the service from launch, and there's a fairly clear demographic of the type of people that the retailers can expect to use it... Combine that with store loyalty schemes, consumer profiling on purchases, potential for sending back advertising on this standard rich media platform, and you can see why Apple and Retailers would love it.

It also offers a move into a new market, which Apple's shareholders will like. First computers, then music players and music sales, mobile phones, and now a form of financial services.

LG GD910 Watch Phone

Damian Skeeles
Thumb Up

Sounds alright

So... It looks alright, feels alright, handles calls, uses Bluetooth audio, syncs calendars, even supports SMS, plays music(!?!), AND lasts longer than an iPhone on a single charge.

And it's a freakin' watch... And you're complaining because it plays calls through the speaker? What would you expect instead? A fold-out handset? Maybe an inflatable one would fit under the wristband!?

It actually sounds like a well-thought-out, well-executed design to me. A gimmick manufacturer probably wouldn't invest in a capacitive touchscreen, or decent battery life. So, how about the more pressing issues for someone who'd actually consider using one? Like signal strength? Call quality?

There are compromises. Remember that Nokia phone that was the size of a lipstick? No keypad, just a rotary selector. There was no way anyone would live long enough to write an SMS using that, so, instead, they supported only Voice MMS, put it front and centre, and made it easy to use. And it worked fantastically.

anyway, it sounds like LG have made similar unconvential decisions, and it's worked. Did Dick Tracy have a handset on his watch?

And it's a freakin' watch!!

Spotify: iPhone sideloads for £120 a year, unlimited

Damian Skeeles
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Well, I just paid

I'd been thinking about signing up to Spotify Premium on Desktop for a while anyway - the ability to listen to just about anything I want, and share that same song to my girlfriend/friends, was a good enough service that they've engendered enough goodwill in me to pay that much voluntarily, and rather happily.

And since my "no idea what I like; will listen to anything once" usage model is rather different than Apple's "buy it and keep it" model, I hope they will actually let it through. Not hopeful, though... I'm sure they're much more comfortable denying Spotify instead, and then launching their own similar model in iTunes after another 6 months or so, perhaps with a small 'click-to-keep' button for outright purchase. And running in the background too.

Or... if Spotify allow users to click to load the song in iTunes instead (is that still an option?.... Maybe they'll just about let it through...

Cats mix baby 'cry' with purr to score dinner

Damian Skeeles
Paris Hilton

I was going to mock...

....but the more I think about it, I guess they have a point. (I suppose if I think about it more and more, I'll see more and more of a point, until I actually achieve a Ph.D in Cattism).

Although I have to admit, I get the impression that the authors of this report differ from the crazy cat lady at the end of my street, only by their white lab coats. Hats doffed for them being able to make a career out of it, where most CCLs only manage to get voluntary work at the local cat shelter. How, pray, will this knowledge benefit mankind? Or felixkind? Or Go-Cat?

What I'd genuinely be interested in, is whether the different tones of miaow a cat makes, such as 'inquisitive miaow', 'dejected miaow', are genuine attempts of communication by them - or attempts at mimicry of the sounds we make when talking to them - or just simple projections of our expectations of their 'emotions' into the noise that they make, and it's all in our mind..

Or maybe I should worry less about the cat, and more about that report I have due tomorrow. It'll eat what it's given.

Paris, because of the inevitable pussy jokes.

CompuServe signs off

Damian Skeeles
Dead Vulture

Scripted emails

Wow... IIRC it was Compuserve for which you could get automatic scripts, for Hearsay on the Acorn Archimedes, and for the Psion 3a (on their terminal program). So you could actually write your mails offline in advance, and then the scripts would spool them into the terminal window for you and save you a fortune on your home modem, or GSM9600 connection.

I used my work-supplied Compuserve account a fair bit for that reason - especially with all the international POPs they provided.

Was it that long ago?

Users claim iPhone 3.0 GPS mis-map mishaps

Damian Skeeles
Thumb Down

Where there's smoke...

I've moved from an HTC Kasier to iphone 3GS, and I've noticed that the 3GS GPS tends to only be within 20-50m accuracy, and often time lag of up to 20-30s; not handy for Sat Nav purposes. My Kaiser was fine - could just about tell which side of the road I was on.

iPhone 3.1 code goes beta

Damian Skeeles

Bluetooth Voice Dialling - finally!

That's good.

Many people have said the voice dialling is a gimmick... actually, when you have 500+ contacts, being able to just say a name and have it dial it immediately is actually pretty handy. Doing so without having to unlock the handset, as the iPhone does - even better. And now... doing so without even taking the phone from your pocket, 'cos you're wearing a headset... priceless!

I used to have MS Voice Command on my WM6 mobile, and it was similarly useful; not just for dialling names for me, but also for it speaking back: having it suddenly blurt out from my desk/pocket "[Urgent email] from John Smith; Subject: Need new report now" ... or "Conference Call with John, in 15 minutes" was actually pretty useful. Like having a PA popping her head round the office door to remind you. Now I'm back to actually having to /reach for the phone/ (gasp!) when an alarm goes off.

So, Apple... how about it? Reckon you'll catch up with M$'s (optional) voice features in another version or two? (The rest is already better, BTW). How long before I can hold a button and just say "Start Evernote", or "Toodledo; New Task - Remember to call John" ?

Hydrogen-powered two-seater car unveiled

Damian Skeeles

Capacitor charging

Your article missed the good bit...

The small fuel cell will charge the ultracapacitors during driving - so although the 6kW fuel cell alone will provide pitiful acceleration, it will be able to maintain a cruise, and charge the capacitors during lower power usage.

So - you turn the car on - the fuel cell charges the capacitors, and then you hit the pedal and the capacitors provide a surge of power to get you moving. Once moving, the fuel cell keeps you there. And when you brake at the lights, the regenerative braking charges the capacitors, ready to move off with another surge of power when the lights go green.

Which is basically a sensible answer to the "pitiful fuel cell power output" problem. Cool!

Samsung shines a light on first solar cellphone

Damian Skeeles
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Emerging markets

Surely this is the perfect approach for Africa, India, etc. where communications are needed, but power points are often few and far between. I assume that in reality, the solar cells are too expensive for low-cost handsets, however.

Still - in the UK, handy in certain places: festivals, maybe? Not handy for everyday use here, but then how many Reg readers have a phone that doesn't equal the power consumption of the average sub-Saharan family, anyway?

iPhone 3.0 gossip lassos MMS, tethering, cut-and-paste...

Damian Skeeles

Data rates, multitasking, and import/export

"Why should iPhone users pay more for moving that data over Bluetooth or a USB cable to a laptop?"

Erm - because laptops are capable of using vastly more data than iPhones? As a metaphor, it's a similar reason as to why BA doesn't offer free champagne to economy class passengers on their flights: even if they could afford it, the plane would run out of champagne.

As for multitasking; I guess Apple got around this in part, by ensuring there was good OS support for an app to continue where it left off - so minimising the disruption. As someone who has occasionally watched his WM6 TYTN II slow to a snail's pace as MyMotion, Google Maps, Opera, etc. grind away in the background, I have to admit Apple's approach was a breath of fresh air. There are a few apps that would definitely benefit - such as Fring, Twitter and IM clients - but for the rest, I'm happy to continue as before, and have a faster phone overall.

And you missed the BIG omission - which is import/export from apps. One of my greatest aversions to iPhone, is that all the important data I build on the phone, is locked in (unless I hack it), only available by an 'email export' in some of the apps. And if I want to load data into the app? Often, I can't... only on a LAN, using Bonjour, maybe. Yep, it's a great anti-virus measure, but it's also a big productivity downer. I guess one approach is to allow sync/export via internet, but only through Apple servers (for a cut from the developer?) where they could immediately filter any malicious entries or worm activity that makes it into the wild. However they do it, this would really make a difference for me.

Orange and Barclaycard partner on touchless pay-by-phone tech

Damian Skeeles

Niche meats niche

Great. So if I take out a Barclaycard account, and take out an Orange contract, then I'll have an option to get a specific Orange-rebranded handset that will contain an ecash chip, which will be accepted by precisely 2 fast food chains in Central London only. And maybe a free water chute commute home.

Niche x niche x niche = no-one uses it

Hopefully enough Tier 1 co's will put their muscle behind a public standard, that everyone will subscribe to, and everyone will use. Or perhaos someone like Tesco will start accepting Oyster in central London stores, and the momentum will carry. Otherwise, it's yet another dead duck.

Apple wants to swipe your iPhone

Damian Skeeles
Jobs Horns

Prior art seconded... thirded

In fact, before Windows Mobile used this, it was available in a util called "Fitaly" that I used with my WM2003 Pocket Loox. Fitaly rearranged the QWERTY keyboard into a 5x5 grid of letters, where common letters were deliberately close to each other and so quicker to use with a stylus. And - for anything other than basic alphabetics - you had a swipe gesture; each letter in any of 8 directions, IIRC.

But even THEY probably got it off the Palm...

London could get HD Freeview next year

Damian Skeeles

Firmware update for PCI cards?

I chose to go the way of a Media Center with a PCI DVB card, firmware updates could keep it current and avoid having to buy a separate set-top box. This did happen with Nebula's excellent card for both HD and H.264, but now it seems they've closed down their old company to focus on media streaming, so it seems I'll have to go shopping for a new one.... by 2010...

McCain gets pair of personal cellphone towers

Damian Skeeles

More than that...

There's probably a reasonable amount of direct Moolah in it as well, in terms of revenue from dozens of people milling around 24/7, continuously on their cellphones. Operators maintain calendars of upcoming 'events', deduce their likely impact on cell load - and then wheel in a temporary site if they can/it's economically viable, to try and capture as much traffic as they can, and avoid other normal users on the area from experiencing problems by the volume of abnormal traffic.

I doubt a 'party' the size of McCain's entourage would warrant much attention in normal circumstances, but, as you say, he's not their average customer.

Pint-sized 3M projector makes UK debut

Damian Skeeles
Thumb Up

Quite niice

A couple of uses I personally could have for it: one is for ad-hoc presentations with a couple of people where they haven't booked a proper projector - we usually dig out a spare screen from somewhere, but this would do the job with much less hassle.

The other is along with a pocket keyboard, for when we're installing our trial servers in data centers and need to troubleshoot on the console - occasionally our customer doesn't have a KVM they can hook up - and this is a small, quick stop-gap.

I saw one of these being demo'd in London City Airport today. It didn't look that bright, giving a legible 14-inch-ish display in moderate ambient light - but for a meeting with 2-4 people who would otherwise crowd around a laptop screen, it'd do, and the price point isn't restrictive. Combine it with a VGA-capable PDA like the Touch Pro that I just got, and you can see the attraction. I think I might buy one.

Intel X-25M solid-state drive

Damian Skeeles


Hmm... Tom's piece notwithstanding, I'd be interested to see how it speeds up my VMs. I have a number of (yes, defragmented) VMware VMs running demos and trials, and I can often sit waiting for several minutes while they sort themselves out - particularly the busier ones, and especially if I have too much running in the host and they start swapping. If an SSD knocked that down by even half, it'd be worth the money...

Ten of the Best... Bluetooth Headsets

Damian Skeeles

Jawbone 2

Yep, I got one, and like it - it's nice when you don't have to worry about how you use your technology, because it 'just works' - and as I walk around city streets, train stations, ride buses, drive, etc. talking to someone on the Jawbone, I have to occasionally ask them "Are you SURE you can still hear me OK?", to which they reply "Yep, fine, why?". It's that good.

OTOH, when it's not that good, the noise cancellation goes ape-shit and turns down even my voice.. and then they say "I'm sorry, I can't hear you at all". I've tried turn on/off NoiseAssassin, checking the cheek sensor is, um, sensing my cheek, but to no avail. Dis/reconnecting does the trick. Obviously they need something to push the Jawbone 3....

Holidaymaker gets £31k data roaming bill

Damian Skeeles

Stupid operators

Why should any operator NOT have a cap on a standard data package? How many people are deliberately going to run up a 30k bill?

Even if no-one's quite stupid enough to download huge video files, the fact is that anyone can run up a bill at £10 a second with a good HSDPA connection. How much control do you have over what your laptop is doing these days; Automatic Windows Update, anybody? Acrobat Updater? They download first, ask questions later.

This pricing was first devised for 9.6kbps GSM CSD connections, and is unchanged for HSDPA running at up to 7.2MBps. Not implementing some kind of cap in these circumstances is grossly irresponsible of the operators. I hope the EU takes them to the cleaners.

easyJet warns 'several websites' to stop selling its flights

Damian Skeeles

Except Skyscanner, I hope

I can understand sites which resell flights with their own mark-up, like Expedia. However, sites which depend on agent's fees or advertising revenue, and still send you to Easyjet's site for the final booking, like Skyscanner, I hope would be exempt. Mostly because Skyscanner is a great aggregator, and I would probably just disregard any cheapo that opted out from having their flights appear on it.

iRobot Roomba 560 robot vacuum cleaner

Damian Skeeles
Thumb Up

Not that bad

I've got one of the ye olde original Roombas, without the self-charging. It's not that bad. We're in a small flat with only the bedroom carpeted, and it's tight enough that we wouldn't be able to angle a conventional hoover hose under the bed. With the Roomba, we just put it on the floor and let it trundle around under there. It uses a lot less storage space than a full hoover too, and it's better than a high-power B&D handheld we used to have.

Maybe they're scrimping on the newer models? Smaller batteries, lower suction, maybe?

I let it run around my Mum's bungalow once, and it picked up a full hopper of dust even though my aunt had just (conventionally) hoovered. Maybe that just means I should replace my aunt (she's definitely not three-laws safe), but to be honest, it does do a much better job than you'd expect. The only big downer is corners - it just can't get right into them, and since we don't have any other hoover, they just stay dusty...

I wouldn't let it scrape randomly around a wooden floor for 2 hours, unless you really hate your downstairs neighbours. Fortunately, we do.

MP launches ten minute rule bill on in-UK roaming

Damian Skeeles

Correction.... but still a bad idea.

If his problem on the Tunbridge Wells train ride was network capacity, then roaming to another operator probably WOULD resolve the issue; but he'd have to disconnect and re-register, which would be "a lot of annoying bother".

Certainly, the load on the HLRs and also SDCCH (from memory - the GSM RF channel used for such signalling) from people registering on whichever service is stronger as they come out of the tube/tunnel/mountain pass, and then re-registering on their own network seconds later, would be huge; particularly in dense areas like London, and this proposal is impractical because of it. Also, imagine how many people would happily launch into a call "without realising [they] were roaming", and then complain about their huge bill afterwards. Lots.

You can also make emergency calls on any network already, regardless of subscription, so not a valid argument either.

Still, it's nice to see an MP with the public's interests at heart, for a change.

This Dude, because he also looks like a nice man.

London store brews £50-a-poop cat-crap coffee

Damian Skeeles

Wake-up call

I'm sure that this coffee must be exceptionally stimulating:

Weary Punter: "Espresso please!"

Barrista Extraordinaire : "Certainly Sir"

Punter: "Thank you, that was reasonably good. How much was that?"

Barrista Extraordinaire : "Fifty pounds, sir"

Punter: <ZZZZZING!>

Punter: "Wow, THAT woke me up! Thank you very much!"

BBC Micro creators meet to TRACE machine's legacy

Damian Skeeles

We saved up for a 40/80 Drive

It took us 2 years to save up for the BBC B that we eventually bought as a family Christmas Present - no bikes or dolls houses that year!

I never really got past some moderate basic programs, but it brings back some fond memories:

- Made it to Deadly in Elite - you needed some serious dedication to get to "Elite" (dedication I eventually found on the Arc)

- Hitting Escape in "Bismarck!" to find it was actually all in uncompiled BASIC, and hacking it so that using a particular password for my turn would give me super-duper ships. And writing the hack in 150 bytes, as that was all the RAM that was left available

- Writing BASIC out of Beebug magazine,and then running the checksum program to check for typos.

- Saving/copying games using my Watford Electronics Replay ROM, and drilling a hole in the back of the case for the CPU interrupt switch

- Filling all but one of my ROM slots

- Aviator - landing upside down, and flying between the buildings and under the bridge

- Finding who could do all three stunts in the quickest time.

- Racing against Hugh Jengine in Revs

- Writing some training software in MODE 7 using 'SPEECH', for my 6th form project

I still have mine in my parents' loft, next to my Archimedes A410; I think they've both been waiting for a moment like this.....

Texas Instruments sounds alarm on 3G

Damian Skeeles
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Sounds like "Developed World market saturation" to me. None of the manufacturers would go back producing any quantity of 2G-only phones, as the operators wouldn't touch them - they need the phones to use 3G so that they have the network capacity to carry all those calls.

However, if the demand for new phones is slowing simply because there's no compelling new features to upgrade to ("So, you're telling me it's exactly the same as the old model, but the camera's slightly better?"), then the mfrs have to look to developing markets for their volumes - which are 2G only. And so 3G gets less of a look-in.

Sony Ericsson goes Windows Mobile with Xperia X1 'arc slider'

Damian Skeeles

Another P990?

Remember the hype about the P990? Unless SE have really got their act back together with the foray into WM2006, I'd expect a dodgy v1 of the product. I've just taken out a new TYTN II on a 12-month contract, and I'd say that's just about right - I can't see the X1 being viable/cheap/reliable until this time next year.

And at the end of the day, it's still Windows Mobile. Which basically means if it's successful, they'll be able to cut all the dev teams that develop UIQ-supporting apps - like PC Sync, Third-party software, developer forums, UIQ itself, etc. With the poor uptake since after the P910i, they must be loss-making.

Say what you want about Microsoft, but at the end of the day, they're the ones with the persistence and deep pockets to prevail.

O2 goes flat on data

Damian Skeeles

T-Mobile is what you want

I joined in the heady early days of Web'n'Walk and the HTC Tytn / Vario II

So I have 2Gb of HSDPA data for #7.50 a month, admittedly before the revised tariffs (to 1Gb, and with content filtering), so it also works with video, VPN, Skype, etc. I'm not sure what happens if you exceed it, as I never have.

Impressive that the first true mainstream flat-rate data package that was out there, is still the best value....