* Posts by Magnus Ramage

206 publicly visible posts • joined 2 Feb 2009


Why did I buy a gadget I know I'll never use?

Magnus Ramage

Braised sprouts are great. Ordinary saucepan (ours are cast-iron). Strip the sprouts of outer leaves, chop in half. Melt some butter, bung in the sprouts, cook on medium heat for a few mins until they're beginning to brown, put on the lid, turn down heat (or off) and let them steam for a few mins more. Add a little bit of hot water if needed to stop them sticking.

Turing, Hauser, Sinclair – haunt computing's Cambridge A-team stamping ground

Magnus Ramage

EDSAC & buildings

Thanks very much for this piece, very nice to have. There's one point where I'd question the accuracy, or maybe I've just misread the piece.

When I was an undergraduate in the Computer Lab in the late 80s / early 90s, the stories I heard about the building of EDSAC and its successors, didn't relate to the location where the Arup building was later found. Rather, they related to a building, also on the New Museums Site, but one or two buildings separated from the Arup building. I don't remember what it was called, but its doorway is shown on a set of EDSAC reminiscences from 1999, which refers to it as an old anatomy lab. In my time, the terminal room was still used for that, complete with old racks for printout, and the mainframe itself was in the same building.

But I haven't been back for 25 years so I may some of this wrong!

Google to kill passwords on Android, replace 'em with 'trust scores'

Magnus Ramage

Re: Question

Had the same thought and I genuinely had to check the date when I read this.

Feeling sweary? Don't tell Google Docs

Magnus Ramage

Re: Answer

I do remember the days when entering f*ck you on the command line of SPSS-X gave you the answer "your place or mine"

Are you sure that wasn't SPSS-XXX?

Vodafone UK rocks the bloat with demands for vanilla Android

Magnus Ramage

Re: @Twilkins - yup, me too...

Aren't there WiFi calling apps more readily available from other carriers? Certainly the Three one is downloadable from Google Play, and I imagine this would be the case for other networks also.

World’s oldest IT dining society breaks into the House of Lords

Magnus Ramage

Re: Damn good show.

Guilty as charged, m'lady. That's what you get for copying text from fan sites without checking them thoroughly. Sorry.

Magnus Ramage

Re: Damn good show.

Regarding secretaries being present, this from the first episode of Yes Minister:

"Jim Hacker: Who else is in this department?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well briefly sir I am the Permanent Undersecretary of State known as the Permanent Secretary. Wooley here is your Principle Private Secretary. I too have a Principle Private Secretary, and he is the Principle Private Secretary to the Permanent Secretary. Directly responsible to me are ten Deputy Secretaries, eighty-seven Undersecretaries and two hundred and nineteen assistant secretaries. Directly responsible to the Principle Private Secretaries are Plain Private Secretaries. The Prime Minister will be appointing two Parliamentary Undersecretaries and you will be appointing your own Parliamentary Private Secretary.

Jim: Can they all type?

Sir Humphrey: None of us can type Minister, Mrs McKay types, she's the secretary."

You – yes, YOU – can now 3D print your very own Paul McCartney

Magnus Ramage

Handy Bendy Macca?

Reminds me of the wonderful (albeit extremely irreverent) sketch about the Handy Bendy Ghandi doll, from the early 80s series Three of a Kind (spoken, I think, by a very young-sounding Lenny Henry). It was absolutely the funniest thing in the world when I was 12. Nowadays you could 3D-print your own...

3 spectastic Lumias for price of 1 rival flagship: Microsoft sells biz on cheapie experience

Magnus Ramage

Re: 2nd that have a Lumia 925 great user experience...

I'm very pleased you love your Lumia 925. My wife has the low-end Lumia (520?) and both she and I think it's great and excellent value.

Regarding Android and crapware, do you count stock Android in your critique? It doesn't match with my experience of two recent mid-range-but-cheap Android devices, the Moto G (2013) and the Tesco Hudl 2. Both are near-stock with just a few added apps of reasonable quality. Certainly no anti-virus nonsense, dubious launchers, or anything I'd really call crapware (the Hudl is closer to this with its Tesco branding, but that stuff is easy to remove or ignore). And Nexus devices are better still in this regard. I

Not trying to start a flamewar, just observing that my experience doesn't quite fit with what you say.

Don't pay for the BBC? Then no Doctor Who for you, I'm afraid

Magnus Ramage

Re: "Only one remains compulsory: the BBC"

"What was the headline Doctor Who threat about though? I can watch Doctor Who on iPlayer without a licence. Is the proposed model changing that?"

That's a classic 'tragedy of the commons' scenario. Yes, you can indeed watch Doctor Who on iPlayer for free (after transmission time). Perfectly legal. But if too many people chose to do that, the BBC would have no revenue stream, and thereafter either there'd be no Doctor, or they'd need to charge iPlayer users. That's not a threat - simply a statement of market reality.

Magnus Ramage

Re: handing the future to Murdoch

Like that well-known leftie Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor? Or their endless fawning Royal coverage? Or their over-emphasis on UKIP?

I don't get the argument that the BBC are leftist. To me they're part of the British Establishment. They're probably broadly socially liberal, in the way of the London-based media, but they'll always basically support the political status quo.

BT coughs £12.5 billion for EE as fourplay frolics pay off

Magnus Ramage

Re: Positive Spin

@MrWibble: Don't count on it. We've been with Virgin Media cable for approaching seven years. Most of our neighbours are as well (we live on a new estate where external TV aerials are forbidden, so it's the best bet). We continue to receive junk mail from Virgin on a regular basis telling us of their new products.

Microsoft rolls out even cheaper 'Notkia' Lumias

Magnus Ramage

That's been my go-to argument in favour of Lumia ever since my wife got one. Offline maps, freely updated, are a big selling point. However, Nokia have now released Here Maps as an Android app, complete with free offline maps; it's coming to iOS later this year. I've not heard any suggestion that the Android version is inferior to the Windows Phone version. There could still be plenty of reasons to buy a Lumia (or another Windows Phone brand, not that anyone does), but that's one crucial reason significantly weakened. I'm in favour of multiple smartphone OSs - I think the Apple-Google duopoly isn't sufficient for robust innovation - so I'd be sorry if Windows Phone declined further, but we'll see.

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

Magnus Ramage

"There isn't a snowball's chance in hell that I'll use my European provider's data plan when I'm in the US, at $DEITY only knows how many €€ per GB."

I agree entirely that hotel-based wifi, preferably free, is extremely useful while travelling. However I know of at least one European mobile provider which allows customers to use their mobile data in their standard package while travelling in certain countries, including the US, as if they were on their home network. Worked very well for me last summer in the US, and indeed in Ireland. (I do indeed mean one particular provider but I'm not trying to advertise them; others can and should copy them.)

Confused about 5G? So are we, say carriers

Magnus Ramage

Re: What is 5/9?

Try googling the phrase that's actually in the article - "five-nines" not "5/9". It refers to 99.999% service reliability, i.e. almost all the time (though not often enough for some purposes). Agreed about the value of jargon-free websites but El Reg is aimed at techies, and the term is in widespread use. And Google is your friend in such cases.

That said, the list that referred to "five-nines" did feel unusually full of corporate jargon by the standard of El Reg. At a quick glance through the GSMA article, it appears to have been largely pasted from a list in the report - though amusingly enough the original did actually talk about 99.999% reliability...

Oh BOY! The MICKEY MOUSE Apple Watch is no heart-throb

Magnus Ramage

Re: Still using the term "Fanbois"..... really?

Standard Reg style - mildly snarky, full of in-jokes. I've never seen the term 'fanboi' applied to all Apple users, just to those who are a bit over the top about it - queueing for three days to be the first to get a product they could have delivered online the same day, that kind of thing. Mildly insulting but basically knowing names are available for fans of other technologies.

Nexus 7 fandroids tell of salty taste after sucking on Google's Lollipop

Magnus Ramage

Product placement?

In an advert posted in the middle of this article, first time I viewed it: "See why businesses love Lumia". Probably a coincidence, but great bit of placement!

(Declaration: I'm no sort of MS shill. I'm a happy Android user, looking forward to Lollipop on my Moto G. Although my wife has a Lumia 520 phone, the cheap one, and likes it. But I did think this was funny.)

Amazon: Put our ALWAYS ON MICROPHONE in your house, please. WHAT?

Magnus Ramage


OK the form factor is innovative (which in itself would make a big difference) but the actual functionality of this device, based on the promo video, seems pretty much identical to Google Now on an Android phone. I couldn't see a single thing there that my phone (and presumably also Siri or Cortana) doesn't already do. It'll even spell "cantaloupe" already for me (which I didn't know it would until I tried it after watching the video). So: good hardware, but not world-shattering otherwise.

But then that's a techie's response, and it's exactly what techies said the first iPods and Kindles came out. It's just possible that this device is packaged right that it could be category-defining.

Not even 60,000 of you want an ethically-sourced smartphone

Magnus Ramage

Re: Name change Please

Hint: nobody seriously uses the term 'politically correct' (PC) any more. It's purely used by those who are against certain policies or ethical frameworks.

That aside, you do have a point that an effective way to bring ethical sourcing into products is to make a really good product that people want which just happens to be ethical - or indeed to make the ethical version the norm. You can't buy non-Fairtrade bananas from Sainsburys, for example. And while I think ethical brands such as Cafedirect (coffee + tea) and Divine (chocolate) have their place in establishing a market, making supermarket own-brand products fairtrade seems to grow the market better.

There's an appreciable market for ethical products, and a slight markup over the less ethical ones seems to be accepted by the market. Likewise premium products manage quite well to be ethical.

If the Fairphone had launched with a slight premium and better marketing, it could have done well. The trouble is that it was somewhat more expensive than comparable models, and its launch coincided with the arrival of really good budget Android phones (Moto G etc), making the price disparity even starker.

HP to shutter webOS cloud services

Magnus Ramage

Gone already from my Touchpad

I recently updated Android on my HP Touchpad to v4.4 KitKat via one of the several CM11 builds available for this device. For a 3+ year old device, the Touchpad continues to be remarkably well-supported by the community, if not by HP. KitKat works a treat on the Touchpad, much better than ICS did. However the install process required a total device wipe, and it was easier to install things without WebOS present at all. So I've said goodbye to WebOS completely now, as it seems have most people. Bit sad to see it go - it had a lot to be said for it, especially when it was released - but times move on.

Brits: Google, can you scrape 60k pages from web, pleeease

Magnus Ramage

Population numbers

So the third most populous nation in Europe submitted the third highest number of right-to-be-forgotten requests, with the biggest nation submitting the most and the second-biggest submitting the second most? Shock news!

How practical is an electric car in London?

Magnus Ramage

Re: On Street Parking

Regarding pollution and electric cars - yes, there is a risk of simply pushing off the pollution. But less-polluting electricity generation is being actively pursued in a number of ways (renewables, carbon capture, even nuclear), needs to be solved anyway for other purposes, and is certainly in principle feasible. The ICE by contrast is inherently polluting, and the best to be expected is more efficient engines or small-scale remediation of their effects.

That said, it would be very interesting to do a comparison of carbon emissions (and other pollutants) from an ICE vs the equivalent emissions from a standard gas- or coal-fired power station, for the generation of sufficient power to drive a car a certain distance. And then of course, as Thomas Gray suggests, to look at the local distribution of those pollutants.

Apple patents Wi-Fi access point location lookup

Magnus Ramage

Other patent trolls are available

Why do only Apple patents get reported in this breathless way? Other tech firms are busy patenting things all the time, often more interesting and/or innovative.

Kingston DataTraveler MicroDuo: Turn your phone into a 72GB beast

Magnus Ramage

Wish I'd seen this before I bought a 16GB Moto G a couple of weeks ago!

Wookiee! CHEWIE'S BACK in Star Wars Ep VII – blab Hollywood 'sources'

Magnus Ramage

Cherchez les geeks

Presumably because a high proportion of the readership of El Reg are geeks, many of them old enough to have grown up on the original Star Wars movies at the cinema. (Raises hand.) And just waiting to, ahem, introduce their kids to the new series when they come out.

Takeaway order spewer Just Eat plans to raise £100m in IPO

Magnus Ramage

Unbelievably expensive

I don't order takeaways and haven't heard of the site, so I was curious. But it all feels really expensive. £9 for a very ordinary sounding pizza, delivered in not less than 45 minutes? In that time I can walk to the local convenience shop, buy a much better quality pizza for half the price and cook it. And I'll have considerably greater info on nutrition & food chains.

Roku flashes $50 HDMI TV web dongle at anyone sick of Google's stick

Magnus Ramage

Re: And this is better than Chromecast how?

Unless I've missed something, this is a standalone device. Chromecast only works with a phone or tablet. That's fine if you're in a household of adults with their own smartphones, not so good in a family situation. I wouldn't want to let my kids loose on my phone, but would happily do so with a standard remote.

Twitter sags beneath weight of Oscar selfie

Magnus Ramage

Ignorance is bliss?

I'm not sure whether to be proud or ashamed, but I don't recognise a single one of the people in that photo. Which probably means I don't watch enough award ceremonies.

Chromebook 11 CATCHES FIRE at last, FLIES off shelves

Magnus Ramage

Re: Just another power hungry HP

I have an HP Touchpad too, happily running Android 4.0 via CyanogenMod 9 (to whom I'm very grateful). It only charges at all well with the charger which came with it, rated at 2A. I've never had it successfully charge much at all on any of the other chargers in our house, whether no-name or from a specific manufacturer. Even a Nexus 7 (2012) charger didn't do it much good.

Staying power: The small screen spans of the eleven Doctor Whos

Magnus Ramage

Re: Worst infographic EVER

@Platelet: Fair point, but then this is more of an advert for an infographic than an actual infographic. I quite like the format, but really I'd have liked a key too, or at least a note after the 1st, 2nd etc to say the actor's surname.

Nokia wins UK patent spat: Quick, let's boot HTC One out of Blighty

Magnus Ramage

Re: Conflicted here

@Gordon 10: IANAL, but my understanding is that while Microsoft and Noka have agreed the sale of the Nokia phone division to MS, it doesn't actually happen until the early months of 2014. So while you might say that Nokia are well on their way to assmilation by the borg, it's not final and official yet. Cheer away!

Laptops Snowden took to Hong Kong and Russia 'just a decoy'

Magnus Ramage

Unproven allegation

"It is entirely probable that this dependence may have been used to leverage access to the information Snowden was carrying."

I think this statement needs at least a bit of evidence. It's a strong allegation. So far the beneficiaries of Snowden's work have been in strengthening the rights of citizens in democracies to know how their governments are spying on them. It's possible that his work will be used by other governments, but by no means certain.

Google tentacle slips over YouTube comments: Now YOUR MUM is at the top

Magnus Ramage

"Just your bestie"

Is this person twelve years old? Are Google execs / PRs all required to match the demographic of their users on particular products then?

Or am I just too old to use YouTube? (I'll get me zimmer frame.)

Fanbois shun 'crappy plastic' iPhone 5C

Magnus Ramage

Re: Happy Clappy Crappy

They don't have to be happy with it, just to chant it. Perhaps they simply want to keep their jobs? People have had to do many worse things in the name of corporate conformity.

A better question might be why people can be so vacuous as to require others to chant a company song.

ZTE Open: This dirt-cheap smartphone is a swing and a miss

Magnus Ramage

Android comparison

Regarding the low-end Android comparison: I have a ZTE Blade (aka Orange San Francisco) - slightly lower specs than this one except that the Blade has a better screen. The ZTE Open ought to have better specs since it's around three years newer. This week I flashed Android 4.2 Jellybean on my Blade, and it works really very well - the odd crash but the hardware is more than competent to run the OS. I know that the Blade was an especially good model for cheap Android, but since both phones are made by ZTE, it seems like a fair comparison.

It's early days for Firefox OS, but this isn't an impressive start.

By the way, regarding web apps on a phone - that was the way WebOS worked (albeit packaged). On my HP Touchpad (now happily flashed with Android too) it was a really painful experience. WebOS had its good points, but the apps were dreadful.

Apple prepares to unleash iPhone 5S, 5C for the GREAT BRAWL OF CHINA

Magnus Ramage

Re: Fingerprint scanner?

Same here with my Lenovo laptop. Sometimes the fingerprint scanner works, sometimes it doesn't. I could never rely on it (and don't).

Chrome turns five, gains new 'desktop apps'

Magnus Ramage

Re: Netscape won the browser war

Ironically, one of the best proofs of that is Evernote. Their Windows and their Android clients are both updated frequently, for reasons good and bad. On Android the install whizzes through (after a single approval), mostly happening in the background. On Windows it's a constant cycle of approvals, dialogue boxes and progress bars. Not sure whether it takes longer, but it certainly feels that way. The irony is because you'd expect a cloud-centric service like Evernote to work as a web-based app; instead under Windows it feels just the same as it would have a decade earlier, only updating more often. I've now uninstalled Evernote from my PC and only use their web interface or the Android version.

Give us a break: Next Android version to be called 'KitKat'

Magnus Ramage

In defence of Hershey

Along with the muck, they do make Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which are really nice, and contain no cat vomit.

Google cursed its own phones with wacked Wi-Fi, say Nexus users

Magnus Ramage

Is Nexus 7 affected too?

Has anyone heard of problems with the Nexus 7 (v1) on 4.3? I updated my not-very-tech-savvy parents' device to 4.3 when I was staying with them a few days ago. They've not reported any problems, but they might not attribute them to the Android update even if they encountered them. Whoops...

Nokia Siemens Networks to 'axe 8,500 jobs' amid biz gobble

Magnus Ramage

Those brand consultants earned their pay...

So they're rebranding from NSN to NSN? That must have taken their brand consultants some serious amounts of head-scratching to come up with.

Win 8 man Sinofsky's 'retirement' deal: $14m shares, oath of silence

Magnus Ramage
Black Helicopters

What kind of berries?

Strawberries? Loganberries? Blueberries?

Or perhaps Steven Elop shipped over a crate of the odd-but-compelling Finnish cloudberry liqueur, and the bodies were drowned in that? (I'll get my tinfoil hat.)

Glasgow subway's new smart tickets aren't, moan passengers

Magnus Ramage

Re: No they don't!

The Glasgow Underground was certainly popularly referred to as the Clockwork Orange when it was rebuilt in the late 70s - I remember it well as a child living there. I don't live in Glasgow any more, but I don't think I ever hear anyone using the term now when I visit. But as demonstrated by some of the stereotypes above, perceptions of Glasgow in the rest of the UK still seem to be based on what things were like a couple of decades ago.

Nokia, Microsoft put on brave face as Lumia 925s parachute into Blighty

Magnus Ramage

The Three version of this has the wireless charging stand & case bundled for "free" (a relative term when you're paying them £30 a month). £500/24 = roughly £20 for the hire purchase, so on the Three package or the cheapest Vodafone one, you're effectively paying £10/month for the calls, which compares favourably to pay as you go. If you want or need a £500 handset, that is.

Marks & Sparks accused of silently bonking punters over the tills

Magnus Ramage

Re: Thought this might happen...

@xyz: "should one be wary of Rom/Alb/anians at bus stops with suspiciously large batteries next to them?"

Only if one is a racist. The technical point is a fair one, but the issue is surely about being wary of *anyone* at a bus stops with suspiciously large batteries next to them. Their country of origin is irrelevant.

Review: Samsung Galaxy S4

Magnus Ramage

Re: Agreed

@Goldmember: It might be justified, but it's still a lot of money.

The Metro experiment is dead: Time to unleash Windows Phone+

Magnus Ramage

Re: The problem...

This is a really interesting assertion (that Metro was designed for keyboard usage). I too would really like to see more details of the design principles, even just a blog post.

Magnus Ramage

Re: Metro always looked useless to me as a desktop UI.

I got so fed up with the name "Magnus Pyke" being thrown at me when I was at school... Especially since Magnus Magnusson, another namesake and a far more interesting role model, lived just up the road.

(Sorry, that was completely off-topic. But some things you just have to get off your chest.)

Review: BlackBerry Q10

Magnus Ramage

Originality ain't what it used to be

Hmmm. Typing to get into applications, and swiping upwards to go home. What does that remind me of? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_Pre_3

WebOS might have been crippled by poor implementation (ran like a drain on my Touchpad) and appalling management from HP, but it did have some really good bits of UI design. Perhaps this time they'll be better handled.

Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

Magnus Ramage

Re: And yet...

What? Marc Andreessen is a weeping angel?

(Point taken though. The blink tag was a truly awful creation, and led to some abominable web design for a while.)

Huawei preps new mobes to overhaul Apple

Magnus Ramage

Re: Price?

That's why the G300 has done so well, at least in some circles - it does 80-90% of what most people need in a smartphone for £100, very much as the ZTE Blade (Orange San Francisco) did a couple of years ago. That's cheaper than your sweet spot, but fits well into my sweet spot!