* Posts by Phil Parker

49 publicly visible posts • joined 25 Apr 2008

In the '80s, spaceflight sim Elite was nothing short of magic. The annotated source code shows how it was done

Phil Parker

Re: <£4 on ebay

Me too!

RIP Sir Clive Sinclair: British home computer trailblazer dies aged 81

Phil Parker

I was a Sinclair kid at school. So much cooler than the Commodore kids (and the one teacher's kid with a BBC micro). Both the ZX81 and Spectrum (proper rubber-key version) were amazing and I loved what I could do with them.

Now, I mustn't spend the day on eBay looking at QL's, or C5's, I've always wanted one of those...

Suckers for punishment, we added a crawler transporter to our Saturn V

Phil Parker

Re: Nicely Done

A VAB is a great idea. It would be the size of the shed and those walls would be pre-coloured - no painting!

Heir-to-Concorde demo model to debut in October

Phil Parker

Re: Depends on the "boom"

"If HS2 business case is built on saving 20 minutes to Birmingham " - it's not.

Beardy Branson’s 747-assisted sat-launcher can’t get it up

Phil Parker

*cough* Moonraker into *cough"

San Francisco votes no to facial-recognition tech for cops, govt – while its denizens create it

Phil Parker

Presumably, this will apply to coppers recognising known felons and they will be required to have their memories wiped every few weeks? Surely this is also a version of face recognition.

Bloodhound Super-Sonic Car aims to wake up Newquay: Rocket work restart in August

Phil Parker

Re: Should it happen?

Is it costing you any money? Is it hurting you?

Despite the answers being no to both of those, you feel the urge to declare that a group of people shouldn't be allowed to do something.

Even if it IS useless, and there's a lot of good science and engineering to come out of this not to mention inspiring a new generation of engineers, who cares?

No-one is forcing you to have anything to do with the project. You didn't even have to read about it, let alone post a comment.

Can't view memes on London-Southampton train? It's the worst line for mobile coverage

Phil Parker

Try getting a signal on large sections of the Chiltern line from Birmingham to London. Hardly out in the sticks, but still rubbish coverage.

Captain Piccard's planet-orbiting solar aircraft in warped drive drama

Phil Parker

Don't try anything new!

How dare anyone try something new? We only want tried and tested solutions, none of this new fangled science stuff!

Unless I'm missing something, this project hasn't cost any of us any money so what's the problem. Maybe something useful will come out of it, maybe it won't. Who cares. At least people are still trying.

Nearly a million retail jobs will be destroyed by the march of tech, warns trade body

Phil Parker

It's not about the tech

While El Reg is playing up the tech angle on this story, the reason the report was comissioned and then pushed so hard in the press is the retail industry moaning about paying a living wage. The large number of jobs to go is Tesco etc way of saying "We want to carry on paying less than people need to live on and letting the state cover the gap."

Ask anyone who works for a big retailer and you'll find that the HR department has worked out exactly how many hours can be worked without disrupting benefit payments. Essentially, we are all subsidising the big retailers. If I were a cynic, I'd suggest that this is because they have our government in their pocket.

Oi, Aussie sports fans! Take that selfie stick and stick it

Phil Parker


The problem isn't with the sticks and users per se - It's that when someone gets poked in the back of the head by a twat using one, they are likely to grab the thing and throw it, possibly with the user still attached, into the area/road/court.

I await the day the first iPad is frisbeed on to a football pitch by a fan fed up of having someone holding it above their head and blocking everyone elses view.

Google burns promise of 'no big banner ads'. Don't Be Evil next?

Phil Parker

"and grab the eye better than text" - Really? Most testing (even the stuff I've done) shows that users quickly become blind to flashing banners but look for text links as these have a high value. Our brains are very good at filtering stuff out.

Of course it's only usability people who know this stuff. Marketing people and Big Bosses don't listen to them prefering to see flashy, shiny things on a page. After all, it's obvious isn't it?*

*In the same way it was once obvious that a 50% drop-out rate in an application form at a simple question was bad but marketing prefered to look at new whizzy pictures for an earlier part of the process. Grrr.

Yahoo 'won't screw Tumblr'? Then Tumblr will screw its balance sheet

Phil Parker
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Re: Flickr has done a MySpace - all messed up

Yep - Flickr has been screwed up big time. Moans page now up to 200 - that's a lot of very unhappy users. Weirdly, the ones most P***ed off are people like me who paid for the premium service because it was worth it. It seems Yahoo thinks the future is freetards and not those handing over cold, hard cash. What could possibly go wrong?

Tea, Earl Grey, hot! NASA blows $125k on Star Trek 3D FOOD PRINTER

Phil Parker

Re: Primitive Food Replicator

Won't it break the onboard computer?

Mine's the one with Hitchikers Guide in the back pocket...

Huge erections - or lots of small ones. Checkmate, mast NIMBYs

Phil Parker

Re: Questions to ask objectors

I worked for a local council and was colleared as I walked back to the office by someone sitting outside a pub (I'd foolishly not taken my ID badge off, didn't normally make that mistake) to take her pettition in to the building and get some signatures against a mobile mast.

I asked if she had a mobile. She did. I left the petition with her.

Oz shop slaps browsers with $5 just looking fee

Phil Parker

Shops are dead

The truth is that every person shops on price alone. Secialist shops in the UK at least will always struggle - on-line retailers will beat them on price 100% of the time due to lower overheads. I know plenty of people who would happily take a punt on an item without research rather than spend a fiver more to go an try the product and buy in-store.

In other news - the same people are moaning 'cos high streets are dying out.

The Pirate Bay torrents printable 3D objects

Phil Parker
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Don't knock the toy trains

It may be unfashionable buit we are pushing the boundaries in 3D print. Our needs are for incredibly fine resolution which helps create a demand for something everyone needs.

At the moment, the quality isn't there but it's only a matter of time.

I've had a few bits printed. Photos on my blog: http://philsworkbench.blogspot.com/search/label/3D%20print

The TARDIS through the ages

Phil Parker

I miss Ceefax too.

It was the best thing on the telly, I don't like this digital stuff.

Internet fails to dethrone TV news (so far)

Phil Parker

But that's because you want raw data. Most of us prefer to have someone who knows what they are talking about assimilate the data and then give us the condensed version. It's great that the raw stuff is out there but since I don't speak every langauge under the sun, the local news broadcasts are of minimal use to me.

As for F1, a 5 second delay isn't the end of the world. I can't think of any decision I need to make that requires the news of people parading around a ciruit in expensive cars that will be affected by this lag.

Hurry up with webcams in courts, says Sky News boss

Phil Parker
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Two words: Christopher Jefferies

Convicted by the media of murdering Joanna Yeates. Except it wasn't him, Vincent Tabak confessed to manslaughter and will be tried next month.

World first: UK boffins print out working 3D aeroplane

Phil Parker
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Was this designed at Peenemünde ?

Is it just me, or when you see this thing on its launcher, does it look like a V1 flying bomb ?

Top stuff though. Makes me wish I'd been clever enough for university.

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

Phil Parker
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3D Monster maxe = best computer game ever

Nuff said

Councils show true grit in the face of ... FOI requests

Phil Parker
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What's more important ?

The trouble is the bloke who will be responsible for answering the FOI question and the the bloke responsible for calling out the gritters will probably be the same person - it was in the one I worked for. I suppose you can argue that entertaining the TPA is more important...

The main problem is that the gritter guy has to look at the big picture. If he needs grit at one end of the county then the lorries leave the depot and start gritting where required. This then leads to complaints (see above) that they aren't gritting. Of course not, they would use it all up within a few miles of the depot.

Also, as other posters have pointed out , the stuff only works in certain ways and at certain temps. From the reporting in the media you'd think they were sprinkling fairy dust such is the expectation.

Bring your own PC

Phil Parker
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Genius for the business

So you get a nice new job and the first thing the company says is, "You have to supply your own computer. Our IT department says the minimum spec is..." and you find that to cover their backsides they have over-spec'd the requirements and you're into a couple of grands worth of new machine.

And when it breaks down the IT guys deem it to be your problem not theirs as it's your PC.

Sounds like a great ploy if you are an accountant. Not so great if you a grunt.

New York Times bans 'tweet'

Phil Parker


Anyone who doesn't stick the hyphen in e-mail should have an A-bomb dropped on them.

Street View plays spot the army numberplate

Phil Parker
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Blurry old plates

The aluminium on black plate on VW camper is blurred out OK so the algorithm must work a bit.

Ares I-X trundles to launchpad

Phil Parker

Hello Mr Chinaman, we are handing space to you.

Truth is that NO Western government can do space stuf anymore. They can't do long term (over 3 month) planning anymore because either the media start moaning nothing is happening for the money, or the fianancial world goes into meltdown and pisses it all away.

Also, we are so risk averse that they panic when someone gets hurt. Look at Apollo 1 - 3 deaths and yet they were launching again the next year. One lost Shuttle and they ground the fleet for 3. There are brave people out there who accept the risks are higher than driving (1200 deaths a year) and it's they who get things done. Good grief, there are even people happy to sign up for one-way trips to Mars yet we can't let them do this despite it saving half the budget for the jaunt, because we are scared of the lawyers.

The only people who can do this now are the Chinese. We might as well nail the doors up on Nasa's big shed.

Tories oppose charges and speed cameras

Phil Parker

Traffic police a good idea ?

On the face of it yes. When you get pulled over and fined by a bored copper because you forgot to indicated on a left hand turn, perhaps less so.

Be careful what you wish for...

Apollo 11 vets urge Mars mission

Phil Parker

Priorities ?

"But with the Cold War over and done with, attention turns more to home matters and instability back home, not to mention discontent over such things as health care and banking troubles. For many people, a Mars mission in this day and age would be like sending out for some milk and eggs while the living room carpet's smouldering. Priorities, man, priorities."

Well, we've not been to the moon for many years and yet we still have poverty, starvation and corrupt/incompetant bankers. Does anyone really beleive that if we don't do space then the money will be put into making like better & fairer for the rest of the world ? Of course not, it will be wasted on something else. At least with moon shots you feel that the human race is advancing in some way.

CompuServe signs off

Phil Parker

A bit of history

Compuserve was best known in the UK fo putting CD's on the front of pretty much every computer magazine in the 1980's. I remember hooking up the company laptop (Toshiba 386 model) to the web using a fax modem and surfing in glorious black & white !

Kettering to London: 18 hours by rail, bus and pack mule

Phil Parker
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Why not try it ?

I'm one of those people who actually like travelling by train - no hasstle, reading a book, listening to music and eating nice cake. Of course this refers to off-peak leisure travel not a commute which is often nasty (thanks John Major and all the right wingers who followed the great grey railway smasher). Every so often someone comes up with one of these trips and I wonder if you could actually do it ?

Imagine the face of the ticket collector when you point out that this IS the approved route !

Tram driver crashes while texting

Phil Parker
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"There is no excuse for still running passenger services without any such technology and I would refuse to travel on any system which didn't have it fitted."

So you don't get in one of those nasty motor cars which can drive towards each other at a closing speed of 120mph (if neither is speeding) with only a painted white line to seperate them ? At least the tram driver doesn't have to steer. Mind you, as others have said, he still has to interact with road traffic so the automation process can't solve everything.

NASA gets cold feet on Moon base plan

Phil Parker

We can't do it

No Western government can do a project of this magnatude any more. After a week the press (some of whom can't even run a dancing competition) demand to know what has happened and why there aren't results NOW. Politicians get scared and start interfering then it all goes wrong as mission creep kicks in big time.

Only the Chinese can get to the moon.

Web 0.2 archivists save Geocities from deletion

Phil Parker
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Excellent idea.

It takes me back to the good old days when a basic knowledge of HTML was enough to make you a web guru and if you could put a animated gif together then you were teh God of Interweb.

Seriously though - haven't we lost something now all sites look the same. After all, they wern't all crap were they ?

Street View captures traditional British Christmas

Phil Parker
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Permission ?

AC said "When tv is filming they have to get permission from the people, or put up clear signs that filming is in progress, so that people who do not want to be filmed have the chance to consent or not. " - Really ? I've seen plenty of news camera crews out and about (used to work opposite a crown court) and never seen a sign warning about being filmed. They just use people in the street as background colour.

He/she also said: "There should at the very least have been clear dates published for when Google would be snapping their photos in each city. There is absolutely no special effort involved to do that." - So sending a letter to everyone who lives or simply could appear in the city is no effort ? At the very least you would need to heavily poster the area with this information, or do you think a special page on Google people could visit to look the details up would be enough ? Of course if you did this every Big Brother wannabee and idiot with a placard would then decend on the area to try and get themselves photographed.

Sorry, if you are embarased about spweing in the street, being photographed is the least that should happen to you.

Doc-in-chief targets 'passive drinking' with price hike

Phil Parker

It's a good idea that will never happen.

At present if you shop in a supermarket you are subsidising all those buying any alcohol being sold for less than the cost price. Simply stopping this, which is effectivly what is being suggested, cannot be a bad thing.

A happy side effect would be reducing the price differential between Tesco and pubs. The later wouldn't shed customers to "home binging". Just look at the numbers head into town at 10:30 or later in the evening having tanked up at home.

But I'd imagine the boss of Tesco has already been on the 'phone to Gorden a told him that this is a bad idea. GB has capitulated imediatly 'cos he's a waste of space.

NASA shops for new Moon spacesuits and landers

Phil Parker
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Get Gerry Anderson on the job

As someone has said already. Gerry Anderson already has all the designs they need for this stuff. Can anyone suggest a more practial design than the Eagle and all the rest of the Space 1999 hardware ?

Red Dwarf touches down in Coronation Street

Phil Parker
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Good idea

I'm liking this idea. Now all we need is a Dalek family to move into Albert Square and I would start watching Eastenders...

Woman jailed for texting while driving

Phil Parker

Lifetime driving bans...

...are a good idea. It would force the middle classes on to public transport. Then perhaps the government would do something practical to improve it.

Seriously though, why is driving sen as a right not a priveledge ? That attitue is why this driver was allowed to kill someone and be back on the road in three years. It's almost as though banning them from behind the wheel is seen as more draconian than prison.

Robotic mower goes solar

Phil Parker

Dump ?

Solar or not, unless this thing can go for a dump you'll still have to empty it.

Robo-flower wilts as power burns

Phil Parker
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It's a good idea

Seriously - most people have no idea how much power different devices use. They probably don't bother to read the 'leccy bill properly as you don't really have a choice about paying it. I bet few have any idea what is making the numbers go up.

The most scientific solution is a visable meter in the living room but only geeks will want this and your avaerage punter won't understand the numbers. The flower works because it's simple to understand and people will get an emotional attachment to it. They will be proud to see it blooming. And when they switch the spin drier on will want to fill it so the flower recovers quickly rather than use lots of half-loads.

As a method of expaling the connection between cause (using power) and effect (higher bills/global warming) to the masses, this is brilliant.

Coppers nab more mobe-yapping drivers

Phil Parker

There are good things too...

Anonymous - "Personally, I don't like the ban/tax/fine attitude this country has to solve all of life's problems. Whatever happened to education?" - there's no point. People in the UK don't believe a law applies unless they stand an 90% chance of being caught.

Anyway, while I firmly believe we don't dish out enough lifetime driving bans (think how public transport would improve if more middle class people were forced on to the bus) in this case can we wait a bit ?

You see I need a new rear bumper for my VW van. My plan is to keep an eye on my mirror in traffic, find someone on the phone and brake sharply. The someone will be a small, lone driver who will find a very angry 6foot 2 fat man screaming at them and dragging them out of the car. A deal will then be offered - give me £100 for a new bumper or we can talk to the Police, who will be told to request the appropriate mobile records.

So the idiot will be presented with a get out of jail card OR a chat with a copper who has been presented with an easy collar to improve his detection record.

In fact I wonder if it would be possible to restore a car by a series of in town bumps...

Ten of the Best... Pocket Camcorders

Phil Parker


Never mind the bundled cards - do they do widescreen ?

Texting worse for drivers than drink or drugs

Phil Parker

Car restoration for free...

Method, buy a batter classic car. Drive around town until you see a muppet on the phone or texting and pull up a bit sharply in front of them. Then when you make the insurance claim, demand the other drivers mobile records are pulled up.

Mind you when they know what you plan they will probably admit liability. I was hit by a solicitor once who got out with his reasonably freshly lit fag and he amited it was his fault straight away !

El Reg net closes on Street View fleet

Phil Parker

Spotted in Leamington Spa...

...on Thursday. No pic I'm afraid.

My mate Tim is anoyed because Google is barging in on his patch. All the time spent setting up this: http://ccgi.newsnet.force9.co.uk/vleam/showpage.php - will be wasted as everyone will go to the evil Google ! They wouldn't like it if he set up his own search engine would they ?

Blears pitches prize draws and online polls at young votes

Phil Parker

Voting rights

Look, if someone can't be bothered to get thier backside down to the polling station and write on a bit of paper then who cares what thay think ? No e-voting via mobile, or prizes required, just an acceptance that if you don't vote you don't get an opinion.

And you don't abstain by not going - that's no better than not turning up 'cos you don't want to miss Eastenders. A spoilt paper (not possible with e-voting) is an abstenstion.

Holidaymaker gets £31k data roaming bill

Phil Parker

Hwo do you know ?

Ever tried to contact a mobile provider to ask how much the data price is for foreign usage ? You might as well ask them in Chinese 'cos they never seem to know.

Olympus creates 360° camera lens

Phil Parker

It's not new

I have one of these in the loft designed for SLR cameras. It was at least 10 years old when I bought it a decade ago...

Sky One to resurrect Blake's 7?

Phil Parker
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What about the baddies

The best thing were the Federation guards. Those guys in black overalls, gassmasks and wierd green visors - look a lot like today's Police force when storming buildings.