* Posts by Nigel Whitfield

25 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Dec 2007

LG 42LF7700 HD TV

Nigel Whitfield

Freesat IP services

The Ethernet port is mandatory on Freesat devices, and will eventually be used to provide services like iPlayer, and enhanced interactivity.

iPlayer on Freesat is supposed to come later this year; the set could conceivably use the port for other things, like DLNA, but it should at least enable iPlayer.

Really though, unless you're desperate, why buy a new TV this year? Next year's models will have support for DVB-T2 and FreeviewHD as well

Palm: Pré to launch on 6 June

Nigel Whitfield

Would Apple sue, or license?

I have my doubts about whether Apple would want to sue them into oblivion.

Palm as a company has a pretty strong following out there, despite its mis-steps over the years, and there's been quite a buzz around the Pre.

If Apple were to sue, given Palm's precarious position, about the only possible outcome is that Palm would fold, even if Apple's suit had little merit in end. And would Apple really, really want to be seen as the company that put the final nail in Palm's coffin?

Aside from being seen as a (possibly overdue, depending on your view) executioner for a long established brand that still has fans, wouldn't they also attract a lot of hostility for being seen to deliberately stop what many people see as a viable competitor to the iPhone?

Suing Palm has the potential to be a massive PR disaster for Apple. A deal on patent licensing, or perhaps buying the company, would seem more rational, and without the potential PR downsides (as long as they don't buy Palm just to kill the Pre)

Electronics giants raise ruckus over Project Canvas

Nigel Whitfield

It's competition

"Project Canvas ... want to open up an important piece of Internet technology and give it free to anyone who wants to use it" and where's the shareholder value in that, then?

That, ultimately, is what so much seems to come down to these days; it's the great barrel over which we're all laid for a sound rogering. Ofcom things competition is the most important thing to protect (because, like, it always works best for consumers; directory enquiries, anyone?).

So, in their warped little world view, if there was one thing that anyone could use, there'd be no competition. Let everyone have incompatible systems, so you can only see some content on Panasonic sets, and other things on Sony, and that'll be much better because the market will decide, and lots of people will chuckle in glee when they get their dividend cheques.

Imagine if just about every TV on sale could access all the content from the UK's major broadcasters, regardless of which brand it was? And without someone raking in royalties from each set sold! Chaos and anarchy.

We'll all be so much better off in the little walled gardens of the CE manufacturers, watching the few things they've managed to tie up deals for, because at least they'll be competing against each other.

US lawmakers to de-silence electric cars

Nigel Whitfield

Crossing signals

Don't pedestrian crossings make noises, like the ones in the UK do? If they don't, surely that would be the most sensible way to tackle the problem.

Yes, there are places where people may want to cross and no crossing to help, but that happens now, with hazards like bicycles and other pedestrians. If you can't find a friendly person to help, then surely you wait until it's quiet, and people on a bike ring their bell. Electric car drivers can toot their horn.

Govt powers up electric cars with £5k subsidy

Nigel Whitfield

Don't hold your breath

Maybe I'm just a cynic, but surely the chances of the government actually having to find the cash for this are fairly slim.

2011 is beyond the next election, and there's a fair chance that the present party won't be in power, or at least not in a majority.

It may encourage some people to start building charging networks in the meantime, which would be no bad thing. But I wouldn't bet on being able to get your £5,000 in two years time.

Conspiracy theories aplenty as Amazon delists gay books

Nigel Whitfield

Support local bookshops

For ages now, I've been urging friends to support local independent bookshops, if they have one. If you don't use them, they'll die out - and certainly my local one, the Stoke Newington Bookshop, can get just about anything within a couple of days.

Why's it important? I've felt for a while that if the independents go, all we'll be left with is blockbusters on sale in supermarkets, and for everything else you'll have to go to Amazon, which means handing over your personal details whenever you want to buy anything that's out of the mainstream, including gay material, or political things. For whatever reason, some people just don't like the idea of that.

If Amazon's now messing around and making certain types of book harder to find or buy, for whatever reason - they have form, after all, with claims from some POD companies that they would be dropped if they didn't use Amazon's BookSurge (see http://www.writersweekly.com/amazon.php) - it's not a good omen for the future.

British film board rejects 'disturbing' sexual torture film

Nigel Whitfield

If the BBFC don't think it's extreme..

... does this mean that anyone who is prosecuted under the extreme porn law for material that includes "genital torture with forceps and electricity, makeshift waterboarding, beatings and forced urination" has at least a mitigating argument?

The BBFC as the only people so far to offer any opinion, don't think it counts as extreme, at least in this instance.

ID and Passport Service brings in ad men

Nigel Whitfield


It's hard to see this as anything other than propaganda for the ID card scheme.

What are the benefits of advertising the other services? It's not like there's much competition - you can't go anywhere else to register births and deaths, and at the points where you're likely to do so (hospitals, for example) there will be people who can tell you what you need to do.

Do people need advertising to explain to them that a passport is the thing you have to get when you're travelling abroad?

And I can't honestly imagine they're planning a big push telling people about using the GRO services as part of looking up their family tree; it's not exactly a secret, or something that people will avoid doing unless they're reminded by an advert.

So, that leaves the ID card scheme, and the need to persuade people that really, honestly, it's a good idea. And that is little other than on-sided propaganda.

Screeching rails close London Tube station

Nigel Whitfield

Squeal like a pig

I came through there on the Central Line yesterday afternoon, a little before 4pm, and it was certainly pretty loud inside the carriage. It was certainly more prolonged and noticeable than usual, on the bendy bit between there and Liverpool St.

Whether it was dangerously loud, I couldn't say from inside the train, but it was certainly irritatingly so. Reminded me of that bit in Deliverance...

Nokia to preinstall Skype on handsets

Nigel Whitfield

SIM only deals

Perhaps subsidy-free isn't such a bad idea. I was just toying with the idea of changing my N95 for something newer, and looking at the tariff I'm on, the deals I was being offered by my network (Orange) weren't very good; to get something like, say, an N85 at bargain price, I'd have to commit to a two year contract, or move up to one that costs a lot more per month.

Instead, I've moved down to a SIM-only deal, which actually costs around 20 quid a month less than I'm paying, only 30 days notice, and provides me with just about twice as many minutes, MB and unlimited texts.

Over less than the two years I'd have to stay with Orange, the amount I'll save will more than pay for a new, unlocked handset - and if I'm abroad, I'll have no difficulty putting a local SIM in it to save money, either.

When I looked around, all the networks seem to be offering SIM-only deals now, from as little as a tenner a month, so perhaps there is some merit in Nokia pushing sales direct to customers.

For the punters, if you don't want a new phone, and you're out of contract, it's pretty much a no-brainer to move to a SIM only deal. If there were any shred of respectability in the mobile business, of course, you'd be moved to an equivalent price once they've clawed back the subsidy on your phone, rather than leaving it to you to work out how much you can save

Applers howl over Mac OS fix

Nigel Whitfield

First Direct

No problems with the update actually happening, and on the whole no untoward side effects.

Except that Safari now no longer works with First Direct internet banking, which is a bit of a nuisance. FD obviously know about it - their web site tells you, as long as you go to the front page; unfortunately, I bookmarked banking logon page, which avoids having to do everything in a silly pop-up window.

UK.gov says extreme porn isn't illegal if you delete it...

Nigel Whitfield

Heart and soul

"9 Dead Gay Guys" features a scene where Carol Decker is asphyxiated with a scarf by Steven Berkoff, while he's taking her from behind.

I've never felt the same about t'Pau since seeing that...

Man threatens lawsuit after negative eBay feedback

Nigel Whitfield


From the reports, the seller doesn't seem to have denied the problems - just pointed out that he gave a refund, and isn't that sweet of him.

And sure, it's terribly sweet and all - fulfilling his legal obligations to sell things that are as described.

But I can't help feel that that doesn't actually wipe out the fact of the error in the first place, does it? If there really was a problem with the item shipped, then claiming he's can't have been libelled because he fixed the problem is bonkers.

Sure, the eBay feedback system is screwed - but that doesn't give sellers carte-blanche to sue people into pretending mistakes and errors never happened.

London could get HD Freeview next year

Nigel Whitfield

DVB-T2 is already a standard

The DVB-T2 specs are already available - and there are already prototype chipsets; the first kit was shown working in Amsterdam in September (and very good it looked too; impressive picture quality, with three channels on the demo mux).

So it's quite likely that there will indeed be kit available for the launch of the service around this time next year. That said, real volume production and hence cheaper prices is more likely in 2010.

The CI slot can't help out, because it's in the middle of the chain inside your TV - and the new signal won't even be decipherable by the tuner, let alone the rest of your TV or box.

There are transcoding MPEG4 SD -> MPEG2 SD modules, and even an HD module, from Neotion, but they still won't help with the DVB-T/T2 problem - and DVB-T2 is giving as much as a 50% increase in capacity, so it would be silly not to use it.

Finally launched: Nokia's iPhone beater

Nigel Whitfield

S60 5th edition

The OS is Series 60 5th edition, which adds touch and sensor stuff to the existing platform.

The SDK is apparently available for download from Forum Nokia - lots more info at S60.com

Ofcom considers termination charges

Nigel Whitfield
Thumb Down

A quid pro quo

If we have to put up with paying to receive calls, it would have to go alongside the introduction of the death penalty for cold callers

Snoop more, share less - Home Office spurns EU advice

Nigel Whitfield
Black Helicopters

Pick a meal, any meal ...

Perhaps we should all try varying our dietary requirements each time we fly - Halal one flight, Kosher the next, and so on... that'll make their data mining more interesting.

Torvalds brands Digg users 'W*nking Walruses'

Nigel Whitfield

Onanistic orang-utans

or perhaps auto-erotic aardvarks.

Asahi premiers pint-pulling robo-barman

Nigel Whitfield

It's not the first one

Cynthia's Cyber Bar, in one of the railway arches around London Bridge/Bankside, used to have a robot that made cocktails.

You pressed a button on the bar for the one you wanted and it grabbed the ingredients, did the mixing and presented it to you. A bit more clever than taking a lid off a bottle.

Sadly Cynthia's is no more, but there's a picture on this page: http://www.strangestbooks.co.uk/page15.html

Blu-ray ramp beats DVD up-take in Europe

Nigel Whitfield

Why are they being bought?

It's all very well saying people are buying BluRay faster than DVD, but surely just as important is why are they buying.

There was precisely one reason for buying a DVD player - to watch DVDs.

But these figures include PS3s, and that means that for many of the buyers, there could be a different primary motive - games. And a proportion of those won't be using it for films at all.

Unless all you're interested in is how keen people are to buy shiny boxes with lasers inside, I'm note sure that simple figures like this really tell anyone anything. Except perhaps that if a piece of kit can do two things, it might be bought by more people than a piece of kit that only does one.

BBC defends iPlayer against Murdoch Jr's 'anti-competitive' claims

Nigel Whitfield

Funnily enough ...

It's not that long ago that other people were saying the regulatory process required of the BBC was the reason why they took so long to get the iPlayer up and running, having to jump through the hoops of the Public Value Test, while other broadcasters were able to launch their services much more quickly.

Surely, if everyone else had their services - including offerings like 4OD and five's download option - running before the iPlayer took offer, it could hardly have been a pre-emptive launch, could it?

Just the usual sour grapes BBC bashing; the same sort of whining that saw BBC Jam canned, because people didn't like something better than their offerings being done by the beeb.

BBC should not pay for fibre, Ofcom tells MPs

Nigel Whitfield

Holes in their business plans

The BBC's only sin is to have lots of content that people want to watch; they have their own internet connectivity, which they pay for like any other content provider, and work with ISPs to peer and ensure things go as smoothly as possible.

Why should ISPs that have raced to the bottom of the market, cutting costs everywhere in the hope of maximising the chance of paying out to their shareholders, be given money from the licence fee to plug the hole in their business plans?

They've based their networks on people doing one thing; something else has come along, and thrown a spanner in their forward planning. Just like the web and TCP/IP connectivity did for the likes of Compuserve in the past.

ISPs have promised the earth in their advertising, while explaining in the small print that they really just mean a square foot or so of it, in an unfashionable part of Middlesborough. And now that people are actually wanting to use what they thought they've paid for, they cry foul.

They're hunting around for someone that they can blame for their own mendacity, and hope that taking out the BBC bashing stick will work for them.

They should be open about what they're charging for, and if they can't actually deliver what they say they can at a particular price, reconsider their pricing models - not bleat and whine about how unfair it is that people want to use their net connections for the latest neat idea.

Phone loss equals social catastrophe, claims carrier

Nigel Whitfield

Why pay the network?

If your phone supports SyncML (and lots of them do these days), pop along to www.mobical.net - it's free and it's saved my bacon a few times when a phone has just died on me. Sure, you'll pay the data charges for the backup, but they're not huge. And you can check all your contacts, appointments and so on via the web site too.

Drivers on the phone face the slammer

Nigel Whitfield

@Big Dave

Actually, I do drive, quite frequently, in London and elsewhere.

I just don't feel the need to act like a complete wanker every time I get behind the wheel, or scream "Help, I'm being oppressed" every time it's suggested that drivers exercise some consideration for other users of the roads. And the suggestion that someone must be a bad/nervous driver, or not a driver at all, just because they don't agree with the drivers' lobby is precisely why I think they're rabid.

And, Cameron, I do have a very shiny car (and another one that's covered in bird pooh right now). It has a Parrot CK3100 bluetooth kit, which works a treat. And if someone can afford a big shiny new car, then the cost of one of those is a drop in the ocean.

Nigel Whitfield
Thumb Up

About time too...

I'm sure the rabid drivers' lobby will whine about how this is another attack on the motorist - one reason why I don't belong to the AA or the RAC - but it's pretty simple - if you can afford to tax, insure and fill up a car with petrol, you can afford some form of hands free device.

There are too many tossers driving around in their stupid little 4x4 trucks, Mercs, shiny Lexuses and BMWs, with a phone clamped to their ear, assuming their calls - presumably they need to check for late cancellations at the dick enlargement clinic - are too important to bother with the law.

When I see some of these fools careering round junctions, I feel like asking them if they're having trouble making repayments on the car. There can't be any other reason for not spending 20 quid, can there?