* Posts by Ben Cooper

19 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Mar 2008

Amazon Kindle 4

Ben Cooper

Unusually, I'm a late adopter...

Usually, I'm a sucker for gadgets, but it's only with the 4 that I've decided to finally go for an ebook reader. And it's fantastic. I don't care that it works best with Amazon books - that's who I buy most new books from anyway, and it's very quick and slick - preordered a book a couple of weeks ago, it was released today, and was automatically downloaded to the device without prompting.

There's also a Kindle 3 in our family - and it doesn't get used much. It's too big to fit into a pocket, and the keyboard is almost never used. And there's an iPad which is fantastic for web browsing and email and stuff like that, but not fun to read a book on. As a device purely for reading books and nothing else, it's perfect.

The page turn buttons are smaller, but still perfectly easy to use one-handed. No idea on battery life - I've not recharged it yet - but it's dropped one bar in a week and a half of reading for about an hour a day. So a month is certainly believeable.

HP's beloved 12c calculator turns 30

Ben Cooper

LCD screens? Pah...

It might not be RPN, but I wear my HP-01 quite a bit - okay, three batteries and a solid case mean I walk a bit squint, but it can do running calculations with the date or time as an input - very cool.

It makes the HP-25 on my desk seem normal.

'Thickest burglar' leaves passport at scene of raid

Ben Cooper

I can beat this...

The shop next-door to mine used to be a newsagents. One night there was a break-in through the roof, and the burglar got away with a couple of cartons of cigarettes. He left behind a nice leather jacket - and his bail release papers from Hamilton Sheriff Court, with his name and address on them...

Binary dinosaur drive found alive and breathing fire

Ben Cooper

More old junk

Still got a working Apple II, a couple of first-generation C64s (with floppy drives, possibly not working), and a BBC Master with the hard drive here. I should dig it out of the basement and find out how old the hard drive is...

Auction for failed games developer hit by DDoS attack

Ben Cooper

Or indeed...

...perhaps ex-employees who would have means, motive and opportunity.

Southpaws up in arms over iPhone 4

Ben Cooper


As a left-handed person, I'm glad they are sticking up for me - all my life, I have been unable to hug anyone because of this discrimination - it is truly horrible. And bread rolls? Right-handed bread rolls have made me the butt of dinner-party jokes for years.

Mucky private chat could be illegal soon

Ben Cooper

Been there...

I was charged with Breach of the Peace for publishing pictures online - nothing risque, it was a BAE Systems location. There were even suggestions of terrorism-related charges. So I've been there - the extra catch is, in Scotland, the definition of BoP includes the word "annoyance". I annoyed BAE Systems, so the police charged me.

The charges were later dropped, but it was quite worrying for a few months.

These are the pictures that got me in trouble:


Exam board deletes C and PHP from CompSci A-levels

Ben Cooper


I learned to program in BBC Basic, then in Forth, then 6502 assembler - the language you learn is in many ways irrelevant, it's the ways of thinking you learn that matter a lot more. The danger of teaching what industry demands is that what industry uses changes so frequently - much better to teach the transferrable skills that let you get up to speed in any language pretty quickly.

Secretive Brit millionaire buys Segway Inc

Ben Cooper

Problem is...

...without a change in UK law, they're mopeds. Which means road tax, license plates, insurance, Single Vehicle Type Appoval*, moped or car driving license, and motorbike helmet to ride one on public roads. Oh, and they're not legal on pavements either.

*Which they probably wouldn't get, lacking such things as indicators, mirrors etc.

Google slaps barcodey stickers on Favourite Places

Ben Cooper

Um, why?

My shop sign has my web address on it - a nice, short, simple address that you can just type into any web browser to get my opening times, order stuff when I'm closed, stuff like that.

A lot easier than trying to photograph a barcode, then getting a custom bit of software on a phone to decode that barcode, then using that to open a webpage.

Campaign for official Turing apology gathers steam

Ben Cooper

What about me?

I want an apology from the Nordic nations for all the pillaging their ancestors did. Bloody Vikings - coming over here, stealing our women,...

HP excessive packaging world record put to the test

Ben Cooper


I feel totally ripped off by RS Components now - they only used one breadloaf-sized box, five stickers, two safety sheets and loads of paper bags to send me five watch batteries recently. What if they had got damaged?

Watchdog bites Mattesons saucy sausage ad

Ben Cooper


Too right - I remember when even Blue Peter were at it:


I've got a feeling that this was a deliberate attempt to get free marketing, and the suckers at the ASA fell for it. Innuendo only works if you understand what it's alluding to, so it's impossible to corrupt anyone this way...

Glasgow unbans Life of Brian

Ben Cooper

To be fair...

...to the council, it's not as if they had an ongoing ban - it's just that the GFT are the first people in 29 years to ask to show it.

Wanna buy an old PC factory?

Ben Cooper
Black Helicopters

Some of this looks familiar...

They don't seem to be selling off the massive automated warehousing system, nor the stacks of Psion II handhelds ;-)

The exploration on Flickr was me, by the way - black helicopters in case IBM/Sanmina take offence...

Tory 'terror' affair shows danger of ubiquitous surveillance

Ben Cooper

@ G Murphy

So, there might be some national-security-related leaks that you don't know about - you don't know the leaks exist, you don't know who's leaking them, and you don't know where they're being leaked to?

That's like Rumsfeld's famous "unknown unknowns" - if you start arresting people because they might have done something you have no evidence for, you'd never stop arresting people. Many journalists have, at one time or another, received leaks from government sources - do you arrest them all in case they also received national-security-related leaks?

'Big Brother' - the price of self-driving cars

Ben Cooper

You have to love...

...politicians who have absolutely no concept of technology, apart from the "gosh, wow!" response.

Robot cars (which is what we're talknig about here) can barely get from one side of a fecking big desert to another without crashing or getting lost - asking one to navigate the average motorway, let alone a suburban street, is a joke.

However, there are other closer-to-reality possibilities, like a compulsory speed limiter. It's certainly possible to make such a thing that is entirely passive, sending no data back to Big Brother, but who wants to bet that the government go for an active compulsory system?

This is the mob that rolled out ANPR without any fanfare or vote, after all.

Sony DSLR-A900 Alpha 900 digital SLR

Ben Cooper
Thumb Down

Friday afternoon review?

Okay, firstly the A900 has 24 megapixels, but you were only testing 11 of them as you were using a lens designed for crop sensors. Would you have tested a high-end PC by plugging it into an old 640x480 display?

Secondly, get a photographer to take your test pictures - those test images really are shocking. Oh, and the A900 does have eye-start - it's the two little windows below the viewfinder.

Other things are more personal choices, but do pro photographers really need more gadgets that reduce performance, like live-view? Sony left the gizmos off for a reason.

BBC Micro creators meet to TRACE machine's legacy

Ben Cooper

I've still got one...

Picked up a BBC Master for free from Glasgow University when they were chucking them out - and with it came the stupidly-expensive-at-the-time hard drive - all of 2 megabytes capacity!