* Posts by James Halliday

33 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Oct 2007

Ten free apps to install on every new PC

James Halliday
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Pretty much agree with every other post

So just thought I'd add the stuff that doesn't seem to have been mentioned.

http://www.tcbmi.com/strokeit/ - Mouse gestures for windows as a whole. The single most 'wtf is that?' app people ask as I become more efficient before their very eyes.

7-zip - It's like every zip program, but better in every way (and gloriously free).

Truecrypt - hide stuff properly.

TorBrowser - Hide and browse.

XBMC - Plug your PC into a TV and whip every piss-poor competing effort at creating a player that well pretty much plays everything.

James Halliday

But that's the nice thing about VLC

It's self-contained.

I'll be the first to admit it's not the best for every 'playing a video' task (Media player classic, xbmc etc have spangly hardware acceleration for example).

But for "just making the f'in file play", it can't be beaten.

Carrier apathy depresses Google Phone outlook

James Halliday


lets not get into a pissing war with ourselves - we should just ensure we collectively piss on every post from an iphone fan-boy.

In all seriousness, the UI on the N1 is lovely - but I've not used Sense, so I'm not going to get confrontational over it. I like the idea of a non-mechanical scroller, but then I do like the fact my trackball flashes to let me know I've got a message (and colour codes the flashes on the type).

I'm running a custom Cyanogen mod on my phone - and that's the reason I like Android. The fact he's just got the published source, added in the extra stuff the geeky people wanted - and been able to push out a file with all that loveliness in. e.g. I now have a load more memory, a tethering checkbox on my config page and some busty-lady wall-paper... well OK, maybe not everything was essential, but it's nice.

Personally I just want to get myself off my ipod touch. I loved it, but suddenly started to realize for the first time (and I use windows) that I was getting very very locked in.

James Halliday


I happily ordered my N1 on launch day and had it shipped to the UK.

Shoved in my Vodafone SIM and was up and working instantly. The US is home of the weird standards - CDMA and GSM frequencies. In the rest of the world it just worked fine.

Google Nexus One

James Halliday
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There isn't any

It's not special Google branded charger, it's bloody expensive price to pay for it AND you get stuck with import duty for it.

In the box you get a US plug charger and a micro USB cable which the phone quite happily charges over.

Whatever happened to the email app?

James Halliday

Surely protocol, not client is important?

I run a server with hmailserver (smtp, pop3 & imap - all running off a PHP database). I want to add an account with some PHP, piece of piss. I want to integrate some anti-spam, wall I just put assp in front of the smtp port. I want to setup some rules to sort spam, empty junk boxes etc - well I just use the PHP IMAP API and a cron.

So standards based platform does offer some advantages over bespoke webmail systems.

Then we move onto the clients. I have my IMAP server 'out there' with mail trickling in, and old mail nicely sorted into folders. I can then point any imap client I feel like at it. I've got K9 on my nexus, Thunderbird on my desktop, roundcubemail for the web-client (replaced squirrelmail - bit I'm trialling something else I forgot the name of). Oh and my ipod's default client oh and my... well you get the idea.

I think the point I was driving at, was if you've got an IMAP server, I can't think how you could possibly have something more open to extensions on the server side, and decent unified folder access on pretty much anything with an IP connection.

Apple turns the flamethrower on Android

James Halliday
Jobs Horns

How to fight back

Youtube (i.e. google) just needs to pull the non-flash video content they added merely to make apple users happy.

Youtube might take a small hit in viewers - but youtube isn't going to collapse if they leave. That just leaves apple with the choice of adding flash support, or explaining why that youtube app has vanished to their umpteen million users.

I do own both an N1 and an ipod touch - so I whilst I get the benefit of each bit of tech, I also suffer when rattles are thrown on either side.

I'm not going to dump one perfectly good device due to the legal pressure of the other maker - so if one gets pissy, I don't applaud them for defending their shonky patent, I just get pissy over them f'in over my other nice device - with no benefit to me.

Apple is suing HTC

James Halliday

If HTC need to remove pinch zoom

There's an alternate 'pin and zoom' mechanism in xScope (a rather nice browser for Android).

Quite simply tap and tap-hold. Then slide finger to zoom screen around tap point.

Personally much nicer than pinch zoom as can easily be done one handed, whilst holding the phone.

Virgin to offer 100Mb/s broadband by year's end

James Halliday

Yes - but minimum speed to where?

Everything you do on the internet is the going over a load of hops and the actual speed that you get it limited by the slowest hop on the route.

Currently advertised 'max speeds' whilst a useful indication are just one factor.

Just off the top of my head, when I wished to choose a provider I'd like:

1) The 'theoretical max speed' my modem can connect at.

2) The average speed customers of this service can actually connect at.

3) Speed and latency to a dozen interchanges around the planet.

4) SLA

5) Throttling (on transfer, ports etc)

I'm a Virgin 50M customer and would probably echo what others here have said. Actual technical service is really rather fantastic. Their customer service in call centres is atrocious - but then when I've needed an engineer to come round, they've turned up exactly when they said they would, couldn't do enough to help and have sympathized with complaints about the call centres.

One real complaint I have though is around dropouts on the service. Reasonably often the internet drops out for 10 mins or so. Have a quick look at your modem ( and you can see it churning out errors and trying to re-sync.

Can't see myself upgrading to anything faster than 50M though - but then I was happy enough with 20M, until they started with the caps. I have a nasty feeling that once 100 or 200M services are up, then the only way they'll shift people onto them is by capping the 50M.

Only Apple can get away with App Stores

James Halliday

It's OK

but it's no App Store. My issue with Marketplace is that it's a little hard to dig stuff out of it.

I own both an iPod touch and a Nexus One. I have bought quite a few apps for each of them. On the iphone I tend to read a review online, click the link that fires up itunes and have a gander at it. I'll then buy and it'll appear on my next sync.

I've maybe bought one or two apps direct from my ipod.

Android forces you to browse on the stupid phone. Sorry, it's a very nice phone - but looking at marketplace on my laptop and just being told to log in from my phone... seems quite ridiculous.

Finding apps isn't a particularly wonderful experience on the hand held. You can look at the 'top' apps sorted into rough groups - but apart from that it's a matter of hurling in keywords and seeing if a suitable app comes back.

Other bits of Marketplace are much nicer though. My phone handily beeps when there's an update and I can grab it with a couple of clicks. I can also try out ANY APP. Something quite wonderful about clicking buy without a care in the world - knowing you've got 24 hours to decide to keep it or return it (usually 5 mins does the trick). Returns are wonderful from a customers point of view, but not sure it's a great business model (i.e. I'm sure Apple and their developers) have made a killing by shifting shonky toys for 99c knowing most people will never load it again after the first few clicks).

eBay cans free P&P requirement

James Halliday

so in that case

We can expected fees to go down now?

Apple's Tablet won't save Big Dumb Media

James Halliday

What will save newspapers, is more people reading them

whenever they decide they're going to flog some online subscription, they seem to assume you're a buyer of the physical paper. The buyers of the physical paper as still buying physical papers, the thing they should be concerning themselves with is the convertion of existing free-online readers to paid-online readers.

As always happens, the majority of people bail then the wall goes up. How about a paper slashing the price and trying to keep as many as possible readers as possible?

I normally dip into the Guardian most days - but possibly for 10 mins max. Read headlines and maybe an article that grabs my fancy. This is not the same as having a whole physical paper in my hands. No idea if anybody else shares the feeling, but if I've bought a paper I feel it's my responsibility if I've not read it all. If I don't choose to read all the stories on a site, I feel it's because they weren't worth clicking on, or I had something else to do, or - basically if I only read 10% of a paper each day I don't want a 90% refund on the paper copy, but damned if I pay the full whack for potential access online.

Maybe papers should follow the model of high-number cable TV channels. Get ISPs to bundle access free as a differentiator. Buy a Kindle, Buy a Virgin XL package and get free access? Would only cost pennies a month per user and give another bullet point on the sales pitch. FFS Sky bought UKOnline - Flog the HDTV, VoIP phone, internet and access to The Sun/Times in the same advert. If nothing else you get to put a whopping great potential saving on the marketing. Sorry, lets combine the two. Buy a Sky ADSL package and a Kindle - and you get free papers delivered for the duration of your Sky TV contract.

I think my take away point is that currently papers make their money from adverts, not the cash you hand over at a newsagents. Stop pretending. When I get on a plane and get a copy of The Times, it's not a special favour from BA. It's News International wanting me to look at their adverts.

Big thing they're missing is that newspapers just replicate their dead-tree content online and maybe add a comments section at the bottom. Why on earth aren't those stories hyperlinked together? When I see a name in a story, or a reference to a previous story, can't I just click and see it?

Sony plots death of Amazon Kindle

James Halliday

Kindle model is very similar to Apple and iTunes

I believe it can can display PDFs, in the same way that your ipod can play MP3s.

Kindle integrates very nicely to the Amazon store and lets you buy books in their own DRM'd format very very easily... at a mainly fixed price.. again, this is sounding quite familiar.

I can't believe Amazon haven't looked at Apple when building this setup. I wouldn't have thought Apple is too fussed about other people selling books for less. What they care about is that they are the easiest option. Sure you could save a dollar or so hunting about, but I want it now *click*

And once again, once people have got their pile of Kindle-chained reading material they'll be on kindles for the rest of their lives. They'll buy their children/spouse a Kindle so they can share books (ebook sharing is not because they like us).

You buy a Kindle now. A nicer device comes along - your electronic library going up in flames isn't going to make you wish to switch.

This is still just the start of the market though. As with downloaded music, we'll get the waves of rival devices, rival stores - until the point where everybody has an ebook reader and their given away pennies. We'll then have the backlash against the DRM kicking in. Then the disruptors will wade in and the DRM will start to go away once more. For example Amazon now let you buy from them, at less than iTunes and it seemlessly adds itself to your itunes (and therefore ubiquitous iPod). It'll take a few years - but all these devices will start opening up again.

Play.com leaves Modern Warfare 2 buyers empty handed

James Halliday
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I'm not a corporate shill

But I put in my order with Play.com last week in response to a, I think, last chance to pre-order mail. I stumped up my £45 and it arrived, on launch date, delivered by "Citipost DSA"

The Citipost sticker on the jiffy bag is attached over the corner of a pre-printed label with my address , and a bit of pealing back shows that the original sticker with my address is a Royal Mail pre-paid label. Would be interested to know if the 'late' copies are still trying to get distributed with the original Royal Mail sticker.

To be honest I was VERY pissy about paying £45 when I saw the Sainsburys advert for £26 the day before release (I mean a fiver-a tenner I could maybe swallow - but £19?) Had every intention of returning the play.com copy and picking one up from my local sainsburys on launch day - except they'd sold out by mid-morning when I swung by on my way to work. Actually the printed note didn't say 'sold out', merely they'd sold their days allocation and might have more in tomorrow - but they couldn't be sure. No idea what the reasoning behind this underlying statement was, but seemed a little weasily-worded and manipulative.

I don't know half a dozen people who all independently tried to buy from Sainsburys - so if you're looking for a MW2 story - maybe gauge the number of people who went to supermarkets to buy the game and walked away empty handed. I know nobody who's actually managed to buy a mythical £26 copy from them either in-store or on-line.

Anyway - if I have a comment to leave, it's that I got my copy, from Play.com, on release date, as they promised.

Could a hard drive dedupe data?

James Halliday

What I want

is a combination disc and SSD unit. I don't want to see two drives though, I just want to see that big disc volume. What I want the Drive to do is to dynamically cache commonly accessed files onto the SSD (e.g. all that OS gubbins that loads when I start it up).

Current strategy is you buy an SSD for your primary boot and then add a second large disc for your 'storage'. Just inefficient as currently you have to buy an SSD you know to be larger than your boot disc will require (so you cough up a fortune for gigs of flash you probably don't need). Also would greatly help laptops where there isn't enough physical space for two drives and you currently have to make the choice between speed/battery life and storage

Google rolls out UK smart-meter cloud service

James Halliday

Providers must hate this

but from Google's point of view, I can see why they want to get involved.

They know who you are and they know your IP address, but combining that with how much you spend on power and when.. Gives good estimate of size of your house, who's about when - and bluntly lets them advertise how much you'd save switching to another provider (after their kickback).

Hoaxed US Chamber thumps pranksters with blunt instrument

James Halliday

The point of a parody

is that the audience knows it's a parody.

The audience has pre-conceived notion of what is being parodied, compares it to the parody, does a little compare and contrast in their head - and seems the humour (or at least the point of the parody).

Oh course not everybody involved has to know it's a wind-up, Brass-eye, Ali-G etc, they set out to fool the person on camera, but most people on the other end of the lens knew it was a wind-up.

Maybe their defence should be that the idea of the Chamber of Commerce reversing their position and accepting the need to act on climate change is so preposterous that no reasonable person would have believed the press conference to be true?

PS3 phone out next month

James Halliday
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So let me get this straight

I can buy the phone, then buy a PS3, store films on my PS3 and then watch them on my phone..."anywhere in the world"

erm so it's sortof like erm what you can do with pretty much any PC and erm any decent phone - except it just works with Sony stuff. How many people are they actually imagining are out there just crying out for this functionality?

Amazon API crackdown neuters book apps

James Halliday

This isn't exactly breaking news

I signed up for an Amazon API account - I made a little tool that allows people to price re-sale values on Amazon. I started getting bombarded with notifications of the change a couple of months before the cut-off. Then there was the every 1:x will fail unless they're signed. Can't exactly say this was an unexpected change.

Anyway, added the SHA sig and everything transitioned over smoothly.

Don't see why somebody couldn't just setup a proxy for the OpenSource community (OK, it might break a few T&C, but not exactly 'bad'). Proxy picks up request, hands it off with signed sig, stores returned XML and caches for next x-days. I assume most of the requests these open-source requests are for are for static data (art, track listings etc - rather than up to the minute re-seller prices).

Google Wave - interwebs idealism in real-time

James Halliday

Exchange Beater?

Problem with Exchange is that well everybody uses it.

Other standards (possibly better) come along - but nobody will break from exchange - well rather the first one to break gets kicked back into line.

People try to make things work with Exchange - but never quite make it as they're not Exchange - so back into line they go.

Google aren't directly taking out MS from the centre of the office with Wave - but they're handing out guns and ammo to all takers.

Sikh coppers request bulletproof turbans

James Halliday

Personally, I feel you should be able to put anything you like on your head.

It's your head the bullet is going be heading towards. You want a helmet - fine. You want bullet proof kevlar - fine.

I think the issue with kevlar is that whilst the turban might be completely undamaged, the undamaged kevlar fabric would have been propelled quite a way into your squishy inner-head.

Bullet proof 'stuff' doesn't magically make the energy of a projectile vanish - it merely tries to distribute the force over a greater area to make it 'less-fatal'

Sooo a bullet-proof turban would have to be something that distributes the force of the bullet over your entire head... oh that sounds pretty much like a helmet.

Maybe a mega-helmet designed to fit over a turban - I personally would welcome the arrival of super-deformed-style police on the streets :)

Conservative US shock-jock to sue Wacky Jacqui

James Halliday

Oh god

I'm now finding myself rooting for Right-wing US nutjobs.

I think previously I'd just wanted her to resign - but now, in some deep dark corner of my psyche, I want to see what she'll do next.

Virgin Media pilots 200Mbit service

James Halliday

As has been pointed out endlessly

It's not JUST the bandwdith of the connection, it's the latency, the throttling etc as well.

I've got a VM 20M connection and (seemingly fortunately) have no issues with downloading at that speed, or with latency.

Throttling drives me up the wall occasionally - I know why they do it, but I don't have to like it.

Their peering is poor, some stuff I can download flat out (giganews for example), some I can't - I only get a 1.2M connection to my dedicated hosted server (which I know has a 100M uplink, is in the UK and know for a fact has not saturated it's uplink).

Problem they have is that they don't provide any data content themselves. They can now bang on about how many milliseconds you can get an MP3 in, how many minutes 20/50/100/200M will allow you do download a movie in, but all this stuff is off their network. There is no way they can afford 200M peer for every user they sell the 200M service to, so there's going to be throttling and there's going to be complaints.

What they need to do is provide a reason to keep your traffic request on their network. Now they can't list number of minutes to download a1080p mkv file on their sales pitch - and they really don't want you to download it even if they did - but this is what would actually encourage a consumer to sign up.

How about a compromise - just state that p2p connections within the VM network don't count towards BW utilization. Quietly install a decent nntp server?

They're clearly not going to do any of the above, so maybe as has been noted, they could just use some of this new BW to compress the TV picture a bit less so it doesn't end up looking quite so piss-poor.

Amazon does video game trade-ins

James Halliday

They're not 'oddly' not accepting PC games

They're quite sensibly avoiding the anarchic hell of verification codes that now plague PC games.

At least with console games you have a disk, you have a working game.

Ten of the best... noise-isolating earphones

James Halliday

Just to echo what other people have said

I've had a wide variety of earphones - all missing from the review (but there are a lot out there, and you can't review them all).

Best cheap earphones I've ever heard are the Sennheisers.

Best expensive ones are Ultimate Ears (5 Pros in my case) - although did need to buy 3rd party seals, as hated the default ones. Another nice thing is the cables are replacable (I killed my Shures (2 and 4s) on a regular basis by damaging the cable).

Not tried Etymotic though, so can't comment - many people seem to love them though.

Beta-blocker 'erases' unpleasant memories

James Halliday
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From my very limited memory of a lecture a long time ago.

I believe Beta blockers worked by 'relaxing' your heart (well stops it responding to stress and keeps it autonomic) , basically stops it racing - and therefore the nervous cascade a racing heart kicks off. You know the feeling, you get nervous, you feel your heart rate go up, you feel even worse, your heart rate goes up - basically panic.

Even when you've just had a shock and then you realize you're fine - you still have that little period where you don't feel right as you wait for your heart rate to go back down.

Anyway, response that was seen here, as has been pointed out, is f'in obvious. What would be more useful is if it carried on having an effect days, weeks, months later after the pill was taken. Or more interestingly if taking them whilst looking at the pictures and being shocked, caused the fear to be 'less imprinted' on the subject.

Kamikaze ballooning Brazilian soars to Darwin Award

James Halliday

I thought you won the award for removing yourself from the gene pool

Surely Catholic priests shouldn't be in the pool in the first place (and would probably have some explaining to do, should any individuals wish to contest my statement).

Teen hacker confesses three-year crime spree

James Halliday

Hold on a minute here.

Firstly I'm by no means condoning what he's done - especially the 'swatting' (I think anything that involves guns probably means you've taken it way way too far).

Being able to extract subscriber info from cable companies is impressive. Obtaining, cracking and using prop. firmware (I assume) for the modem is also quite impressive.

As for this 'trying as an adult' - erm he isn't an adult, he's 17. I'm not quite sure what the justification for trying somebody as an adult (when they're not) is. Is it "they're as mature as an adult" or "this is a crime too serious for a child to have commited".

If the first, then surely a 'mature' 17 year old should be allowed to buy beer, guns and vote. The second option is quite ridiculous - he's a child, he did it, therefore it is possible for a child to have commited it.

Warrington first to get Virgin Media 50Mb/s

James Halliday
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More about throttling.

I'm currently an XL subscriber and officially get 20M.

To be fair to Virgin when my cable is working at full rate, I get precisely that (well 2.35MB/s which is near enough)

My problem is with the throttling, which they don't handle in a very upfront manner. I *think* the way it works is that after 4Gigs of downloading in a day, you get throttled to 5M. Normally it's not a problem, but it's a real annoyance when you do hit the limit.

At 20M you hit that limit in about 30-45 mins of flatout downloading.

Without more details around throttling a 50M service means nothing. I cannot think of a single real requirement to go to 50M over 20M - unless they're going to provide more full-throttle download before the cap.

If the cap isn't adjusted, I can't think of any reason I'd pay to upgrade. The only people I could see interested in the upgrade are those that consider 4Gigs in 30-45 mins as being unacceptably slow. Couple this with the fact that there's hardly anything that can serve you traffic at 50M.. I really just cannot see the point other than Virgin using it as PR to advertise a faster CIR than ADSL2.

Heaviest Virgin Media downloaders face new daytime go-slow

James Halliday

In defence of Virgin

Something I'm absolutely convinced I'd never be saying:

I do get a 20M connection and it is rock-steady at that speed.

Throttling is a pain, but I'm not going to pretend there doesn't have to be any sort of control applied. Just wish ISPs would be up-front about it - Virgin finally putting it all down in a table is a start.

My whinge is that the Virgin scheme basically just looks at things on a daily basis. I'm not downloading a DVD ISO every night - but when I want to it would be nice if it downloaded at the speed I was paying for.

So say the image is 4.5Gig ~ 4,500Megabytes = 36,000M

At full 20M that would take 36,000 /60mins /20M = 1/2 an hour

With a 3 Gig Cap followed by 75% reduction in speed

24,000 /60mins /20M = 20 mins


12,000 /60mins /5M = 40 mins

Soo Downloading a DVD ISO takes pretty much twice as long.

Now the bit that really annoys me is that there's f'all reason to pay for 20M over 10M if you're just downloading web pages, the odd album etc. You pay for the 20M connection as you think you may actually want to use it occasionally - not downloading a DVD ISO every day - but 'sometimes'

In my happy-clappy ideal world there'd be a grace period before the cap kicks in. Say 10Gigs a week - and then you're put in the pool for throttling. Just some way that will actually make it possible to download a large file at full capacity.

Is Google Gears safe?

James Halliday


[The bit about "as enforced by the operating system" should be highlighted. If your users have local admin rights, as on some Windows boxes, they will be able to access files belonging to other users.]

erm like any file you might store locally on your PC..

Elonex punts £99 Linux laptop

James Halliday

Here's more details - assuming Elonex have just slapped their own badge on it.


GMail shakes IMAP out of coma

James Halliday

Another nice thing about IMAP

is that it allows you to change mail providers reasonably easily. You don't like Gmail in 5 years time? (or want to switch from another imap provider to them), you can knock up a script that'll just slurp the mail off one server and pop it onto the new one - folders and all. Probably apps about to do this stuff - if not I might write one and make my millions.