* Posts by Graham O'Brien

72 publicly visible posts • joined 9 Mar 2007


If you want to take social distancing to the next level, and go to the Moon, take this: A complete lunar geology map

Graham O'Brien

Wrong name?

Shouldn't that have been done by the US Selenological Survey?

Doogee Wowser: The S40's a terrible smartphone, but a passable projectile

Graham O'Brien

N95 ballistics

At work a few years ago I found that a Nokia N95, when launched with enough pent-up anger behind it (phone call from colleague who was being more of a total idiot than their previous impressive best), can go through a partition wall comprising 2 sheets of 12mm plasterboard while breaking up into its constituent units. I hate to think what that could have done to someone if they had got a battery in the eye...

Robot lands a 737 by hand, on a dare from DARPA

Graham O'Brien

Needs a cute name

How about Otto Pilot?

Fortran greybeards: Get your walking frames and shuffle over to NASA

Graham O'Brien

I did this back then

And in Fortran on an ICL 2900 series in the 70s, using 4th-order Runge-Kutta equations. It was fun. I did the coding for a friend's Master's project and got very well paid in Chinese food for it. Happy days.

From doodles to designs – sketch it out with a stylish stylus

Graham O'Brien

Re: wake me up when

the technology matures to the level of my 12-year-old Motion Computing LE1600.

MIT's robo-cheetah leaps walls in a cyborg hunt for Sarah Connor

Graham O'Brien

More like this but faster ... and a spare leg


Are they funding the sonic shock yet? Or isn't it lethal enough?

Forget robo-butlers – ROBO-MAIDS! New hotel staffed by slave-droids

Graham O'Brien

But be careful ...



Coming clean: Ten cordless vacuum cleaners

Graham O'Brien


Have I just logged into the Good Housekeeping website by mistake?

NHS quango fatcats spend £2m tax dosh on iPads and iPhones

Graham O'Brien

Re: Better Value

"I'd love to see a breakdown that proves that iPads et al are more efficient and cost effective that old fashioned pen and paper for them"

Done that - 4 years ago. I agree that iPads are not adequate as the speed of entry using a keyboard is nowhere near a pen paired with either paper or a tablet. My figures show that my WinXP tablet/pen combo in use for 6 years in an NHS environment (inc a set of replacement batteries, you can do that on good machines, sorry fanbois) saved slightly under £2,000 simply by being able to annotate MS office docs using Windows Journal and the pen. It took into account paper and toner costs from printing reams of board meeting papers, admin staff time spent photocopying and collating. Did not include my time being able to prepare on the train into work, which was regarded as a bonus. Device used an encrypted partition for data (TrueCrypt, of blessed memory) because some of us in the public sector understand data security.

As an added bonus, in one meeting I was chairing, I had to tell a fanboi to put his iThingy away as the clicking from typing using the on-screen keyboard was distracting the other members. Epic win!


Graham O'Brien

How many other people

misread "... causing hideous burns ..." as "... causing hideous bums ..."


Graham O'Brien

Not electronic but

could they please go after the TV licensing reminder people who regularly send me bits of paper saying I'm facing a £1000 fine - but only in very small letters underneath explain that it's if I use a TV without a licence. I wonder how many older people with poorer eyesight have been caused great anxiety by this shoddy tactic?

Hawking: Higgs boson in a BIG particle punisher could DESTROY UNIVERSE

Graham O'Brien

Obligatory Lexx reference


Ballmer PERSONALLY wrote Windows 3.1's blue screen text

Graham O'Brien

Give rhe devil his due .,,

As error messages go, that text is far more informative and helpful than most we get now. And we can't blame him for the BSOD itself.

BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled

Graham O'Brien

Stephen Fry partly muzzled

Only partly? Well, it's a start, I suppose.

US officials vote to allow Bitcoin for political donations

Graham O'Brien

Re: Now its official

Yup - the politicians said Bitcoins could only be used for evil and, for the first time ever, they've kept their word!

Walking while texting can – OUCH! – end badly, say boffins

Graham O'Brien

Re: re: you're going to draw up rules on the use of devices while operating machinery

@ Purlieu

Rule 1a. Unless said device is part of the controls of said machinery (think GPS, instrument landing systems on yer average airliner - safer to use the devices than not)

El Reg's contraptions confessional no.2: Tablet PC, CRT screen and more

Graham O'Brien
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Still using Motion Computing LE 1600 daily

I think I may have posted about them before (!) but even with the extended battery making it a bit porky it's still better for me than a laptop. Slot it into holder at work - instant dual-monitor system with mouse and keyboard. RDP into it at home while it's charging - using 2560x1440 monitor for multi-document work. In meetings or on a train annotating documents with the pen - fast, intuitive and convenient. Get knocked off a motorbike with it in a rucksack - it survives, albeit a bit chipped at the corners.

Works for me - on a daily basis.

DEAD STEVE JOBS chap becomes ENGINEER ... at Lenovo

Graham O'Brien

I'm confused

"Dead Steve Jobs actor becomes PRODUCT ENGINEER at Lenovo"

I didn't know that Ashton Kutcher was dead. So why are they employing him and how did he give an interview a soundbite if he is dead?

ZERO-G DINOSAUR made from bits and bobs by space station flight engineer

Graham O'Brien

How much import tax

will she have to pay on it as it's made from a mixture of US and non-US materials and wasn't assembled in the USA? And will NASA levy delivery charges? Could be a bit expensive. Brilliant present though

WIN a RockBLOCK Iridium satellite comms module

Graham O'Brien

Since it will result in the high-speed release of a smallish communications unit







The perfect gift for the pistol-packing 'Merkin: a handgun iPhone case

Graham O'Brien


The Psion Organiser II shoulder holster was a good solution to the problem of a very heavy device weighing down jacket pockets. Though it did raise eyebrows when I went to buy a new suit and a bit of extra size in the jacket. And it was a bit embarrassing when the strap peeked out from time to time. But it was very comfortable.

Pen+tablet bandwagon finally rolling, Nvidia leaps aboard

Graham O'Brien

round we come again ...

... to my 7-year-old Motion Computing WinXP tablet. Wheel now totally reinvented.

Jailed Romanian hacker repents, invents ATM security scheme

Graham O'Brien

Re: On the subject of ATMs

"they should line up several ATMs at different heights"

Move to the big city - that's very common in London.

Congress plans to make computer crime law much, much worse

Graham O'Brien
Black Helicopters

And the want us to trust them

by handing over our citizens with Asperger's Syndrome who would of course be perfectly safe with them ... yeah, right.

Review: Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2

Graham O'Brien

Re: Useful for Work

Quite agree. I might have found a lighter-weight replacement for my ancient (7 years old and still going strong) and much-loved Motion LE1600 running WinXP Tablet Edition.

First Google wants to know all about you, now it wants a RING on your finger

Graham O'Brien

Rev 13:16-17 a bit closer?

(16) It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, (17) so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name

So much for e-commerce then. If I believed in a literal interpretation of Revelation I'd be feeling very very uncomfortable. More so, later, when someone suggests implanting it in the hand rather than wearing it on the finger. Fortunately I don't. At least not yet.

ICO hits the road to crack 'underlying problem' at data-leak councils

Graham O'Brien


It's obvious that from the number of cases that hit the headlines - plus quite possibly the smaller that ones don't - that the current measures and fines are not working. So I approve of the ICO getting involved in prevention rather than sitting on the sidelines dishing out fines which don't seem to have any effect and just squander my Council Tax.

I'm not sure that they can completely turn round the culture of not taking people's personal data seriously enough which seems to be prevalent in many cases, but I think it's better than doing nothing.

Conmen DID use leaked info of sporty civil servants... to attack HMRC

Graham O'Brien

Re: Why the heck .....

Hmmm ... according to the Data Protection Act:

(3) Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.

(7) Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.

Epic fail on both perhaps?

Quadriplegic woman demos advanced mind-control of robot arm

Graham O'Brien

Re: Damn, that is brilliant!

Agreed. Apart from the fact that chocolate is a basic human right, this is the kind of stuff that restores my faith in the humanitarian possibilities for technology. This is what we should be doing: using technology to overcome disadvantage.

Japanese firm offers 4-tonne GIANT MECHs for just $1.3m

Graham O'Brien

Only in Japan ...

that's it, no more to say.

LOHAN enfolds SPEARS in passionate embrace - explicit unclad pics

Graham O'Brien


Possibly involving ballistic mobile phones? Do tell!

What a clockup! Apple's Swiss clock knock-off clocks up $21m fine

Graham O'Brien

Clever of the Swiss

... to taper the minute and hour hands slightly - nay, subtly - to avoid them being largely rectangular with a curved bit. It's as if they knew years ago that the rectangle (with a curved bit) was going to be patented, so they made their plans to avoid that particular battle.

GooPad's eight-incher gives Apple fans cheap relief

Graham O'Brien

Yes but

... is is as cool? At least, to a High Court Judge?

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Android tablet review

Graham O'Brien

At last

A tablet that's as useful and easy to control as my 6-year-old Motion Computing Windoze tablet - well worth the wait </irony>

But it is lighter and thinner and has a better resolution, so I'm interested

Ten phones for seniors

Graham O'Brien

Re: Ageism much?

Completely agree, Chris. Until I read the opening couple of paragraphs on this report, I (naively, it now seems) was unaware that at the age of 55 I had one foot in the grave and the other on a bar of soap. Do I risk telling my 82-year-old dad that he's past it, IT-wise? Even though he was developing software in his 70s? That's if he can lift his head from his PC for long enough to listen.

Kids of today ... <rolleyes>

Texan team paints batteries onto beer steins

Graham O'Brien

Re: The pee-powered car?

They just captured the energy earlier in the (water, barley, hops, yeast) -> beer -> urine pathway, that's all. So it should be more efficient ... of course if they could capture it earlier still - say, plough up all the fields of barley and cover them with solar panels - and we'd be spared the whole tedious process of getting outside the beer and converting it into urine.

Floppy disk drives jam James Bond theme

Graham O'Brien
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Re: Ode to Joy

Scanjet Plus came with instructions (and API IIRC) to program the tunes yourself - dead cute

Judge orders O2 to name suspected smut burglars

Graham O'Brien

Re: Was just about to post the same.

Ditto - who says the English judiciary have no sense of humour?

Android Market morphs into 'Google Play'

Graham O'Brien
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Got neither

Android Market disappeared this morning - no Google Play. Rebooted x2 - still zilch.

Somewhat disgruntled Galaxy II fanboi here.

Big Blue boffins cram information onto a cool 12 atoms

Graham O'Brien
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... not the new technology, but the fact that existing, working, reliable tech is only a couple of orders of magnitude less dense than this exotic new stuff. I really am impressed.

BUSTED! Secret app on millions of phones logs key taps

Graham O'Brien


I think my smartphone has Carrier IQ on it.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner makes first commercial flight

Graham O'Brien

Now pay attention

"16.5 inches for we plebes"

*We* plebs are not happy with the mere 16.5 inches for *us* plebs. Have you noticed the difference?

Toshiba demos monster hi-res tablet display

Graham O'Brien

... the eye can't detect individual pixels ...

Most people over 20 couldn't detect individual pixels at far lower resolutions, and for oldies like me it's the size of the display that matters so I don't have to keep fishing out my reading glasses to check texts and emails ...

Google+ bans real name under ‘Real Names’ policy

Graham O'Brien

Abs O'lutely

Having suffered from lazy DBAs in years gone by who banned the use of apostrophes in names it seems to have reared its ugly head again. A few days ago I tried to register my mobe for my bank's inclusive insurance deal only to find that I'm not allowed to use my real name. When I asked the telephone "help"-line bod about this he confirmed that apostrophes are illegal. I asked him whether the bank did much business in Ireland but he seemed unable to comprehend the question.

For shame, Barclays, for shame.

Who'll keep taking Windows Tablets in the iPad era?

Graham O'Brien

... and have been for a long time

I have a 2005 Motion Computing tablet in daily use. With stylus: after all, I learned to write with a pencil and this is no different. Going to board meetings with all the papers on it is so convenient - the others have 1-2kg files. Also I have the papers from all the past meetings, with my annotations, to hand. My colleague who trialled a fondleslab could read only and went back to dead trees pretty quickly.

To use it for content production is a breeze - I can pop it in its desk stand and use keyboard and mouse or remote desktop into it while it's an a drawer, or if I have to type on the move there's an on-screen handwriting converter thingy or small bluetooth keyboard that I can use. Like Novatone, I can do practically anything on it that I can do on the desktop (except Half-life, which I tried once!) including office apps, developing with Delphi, and 'desktop' mapping software that doubles as a handy satnav on a 12.1" display. Plus Winamp and VLC (12.1" screen, remember?) for long train/plane journeys

It's also been in a rucksack twice when I've been dumped off my motorbike by tw*ts in cars and one corner is held together by sticky tape. But it still works, and still gives me 8 hours on a charge so I can work all day.

Who needs fondleslabs? Some of us do real work.

Singing Duke set to Nukem dead

Graham O'Brien

My way ...

... because everyone who can't sing does that one.

Bloke drives with knees while manipulating two mobes

Graham O'Brien

Met please take note

To the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Paul Stephenson.

Dear Sir Paul,

Please will you do the same as Norfolk and institute a one-day clampdown on users of mobile-phones and laptops/iPads etc in London? Your conviction stats would go through the roof. And while you're at it, please can you get that truck driver who was reading a newspaper on his steering wheel last week and nearly flattened me?

Or if that's too resource-intensive, would you like to ride pillion with me (or one of your own officers) and just take a look for yourself at the proprtion of drivers using devices that take their attention away from the road? It may change your mind.

Thank you

2011 Ford Focus

Graham O'Brien

Wait until Service Pack 2 before buying this car!

... if it's got anything Microsoft in it!

Google Linux servers hit with $5m patent infringement verdict

Graham O'Brien

Paris - because when she drove through East Texas the average IQ of the state doubled.