* Posts by Michael Wright

22 publicly visible posts • joined 20 Jun 2008

2011's Best... compact cameras

Michael Wright


The Nex doesn't have an eye-level v/f, but the hinged screen is very convenient for holding at chest or waist level, like a proper camera (ah, Rolleiflex 3.5F, I still miss you). You only get horizontal mode, but it is more convenient than a fully articulated screen, IME.

BTW, the Leica X1 isn't really a Panaleica, because there isn't an equivalent in the Japanese brand (unfortunately). Speaking as someone who used to buy anything with the magic inscription Ernst Leitz, Wetzlar, and who had a world class collection of adapter-rings, I still find the price ludicrous. The red dot has, alas, become a mark of conspicuous consumption, like the Mont Blanc snowflake.

Cheapskate Aussie net-shoppers safe from GST for now

Michael Wright

"Apple Tax" is a troll

I'm in NZ, which is mostly in the same situation as Australia, only more so. IME, Apple prices here are much more closely aligned with world prices than some other goods. E.g., I bought an iPod Nano in the States, and saved myself essentially nothing. OTOH there were some B+W headphones in an Apple Store for USD $299, which I thought about. Should have bought them: close to NZD $600, and Amazon won't sell to this market.

Still, Apple in the headline gets people looking, doesn't it.

MobileMe drove Steve Jobs to foul-mouthed fury

Michael Wright

Penny drops

Why do iDevices not have expandable memory? Partly because the idea would have been that extra data would be stored on mobile.me or whatever it's called today. Which would make sense for Apple--why create a market for SanDisk or take a couple of per cent on someone else's flash memory going through, when you could set up a nice internet services business?

Could make sense for users, too. I've had phones with MicroSD slots, and as it worked out, only used them for getting a basic memory storage (you could carry extras, but I didn't and I don't expect many people actually do). Whereas cloud storage for back-up, plus sync between desktop and iThings would be convenient, if the service worked and didn't cost too much.

But first, you've got to have the service working smoothly. So, big swearie-poos because Mr Salteena's plan is foiled. Figures.

Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate

Michael Wright

Lewis Page becomes increasingly desperate

So, on Sunday 27th March more news of increasing radiation levels, Japanese government gets increasingly irritated with TEPCO.

What this shows is that while nuclear power is a lot safer than coal, it's too tricky to be entrusted to ordinary commercial management (or, of course, Communist bureaucratic management).

What is needed is not shrill denials of the risks, but sober consideration of the proper way to manage them.

Apple frees iOS 4.3 two days before iPad 2 Arrival™

Michael Wright


>Due to Antennagate, we're waiting for iPhone 5.

This is, of course, trolling. Please say it's trolling, otherwise I'll have to conclude you believe what you read on the net.

The bridgeable external antennae are, of course, a stupid mistake on Apple's part (that is to say, His Jobsness's part). But the Consumer Reports article that was the first grown-up account of the problem also pointed out that most of the time, the wireless reception of the 4 was better than any previous iPhone.

Upgrading every alternate generation is a pretty good strategy (I went from 3G to 4, and only really because my key app got "upgraded" and broke on the 3G), but please, please, the antennagate thing is just part of the troll-the-Apple-users-to-get-responses Vulture masterplan? Isn't it? I mean, by this point Jobs is probably determined that external antennae is one thing that won't change on the 5.

Linux to eclipse Microsoft's 'all-in' tablet enthusiasm

Michael Wright

Err, clarification

I think a typo? Presumably HP paid many megabucks for the Palm OS?

And the questions are, presumably, whether Microsoft will have the same influence on manufacturers that they had with Netbooks (which are, after all, still conventional PCs), and whether anyone can set up a Linux system that is as convenient and reliable as Windows. Not, one would have thought, a difficult target, but I had an Asus Eee, and a nice little machine, but as soon as I tried to even update it, let alone install new software, I was back in the situation I am sadly familiar with from previous explorations of Linux.

iRobot Roomba 581 robot cleaner

Michael Wright

NOT a vacuum cleaner

I've had a Roomba, and was reasonably happy until the battery went and the plastic broke, but it is NOT a vacuum cleaner, and it does NOT suck up the dirt. It will, however, have a pretty game with any tassles on carpets, or loose wires, until it gets bored and stops.

They do crawl under beds by themselves, and if you can get out of the house and not waste the time watching them in fascination, they do save some time, but they're robot carpet sweepers.

The long and the short-term of it: Apple's future

Michael Wright

Sed contra:

1. It was Mandy Rice-Davies what said it, not Christine Keeler.

2. It is possible that the people who are valuing Apple so highly are looking to the long term. They might also be herding.

3. No, it is not the fault of all of us. Since when did I control the investment decisions of my superannuation fund or insurance company? What practical control do I have over the relations between electoral politics and financial decisions in American State governments. Yet these affect my life. Sorry dude, personal responsibility on our part is not the answer to bad investment decisions by professionals.

Google's Android market needs Jobsian strongman

Michael Wright

Walled Gardens

I think there's a contradiction in this article. On the one hand, the Wild and Woolly Web is better than the Apple Walled Garden; on the other, someone ought to get a grip. But surely the Walled Garden isn't just because Mr Jobs has a controlling personality--it's at the very heart of the Apple user experience, part of the necessary compromise. So Android couldn't be more Apple-like, and still be Android.

BTW, the Apple user experience takes a lot of maintaining--the iOS 4 upgrade has not gone well for me, and it seems it might even be Apple's Toyota moment. My experience with a 3G iPhone upgrading to iOS 4 is sadly reminiscent of my various attempts at using Linux.

Apple iOS 4 update frustrates iPhone 3G owners

Michael Wright

Error -34

Apparently, from posts in the thread linked in the article, Error -34 is an insufficient disk space message. And a poster there has identified what I think was my problem. I use the Transcode to 128 Kbps option when I sync music to my 3G iPhone. This option seems to get deselected during the upgrade process, and hence you can run out of storage space on the iPhone. I finally seem to be winning after Restoring the device, and telling iTunes (running on a Mac, BTW) to treat it as a new phone. Now I'm in the processing of doing a manually controlled sync of music, which is taking a l o o o ng time with the transcode, but seems to be going OK.

This is not quite a Toyota Moment for Apple, but they really didn't catch up with all the details this time, and we buy Apple stuff because they normally do get the details right.

Apple iOS4 upgrade adds multitasking, folders... and pain

Michael Wright

Backup Shmackup

Smugness is inappropriate. Backup and restore is part of the automated process, and that's where my upgrade went wrong. And it wasn't impatience--I'm perfectly used to leaving stuff overnight to finish: in this case, it kept on crapping out with an error -34, about which all I can find is someone else saying that nothing can be found about error -34--maybe it's a sub-clause of Catch 22.

When you get out from under religious wars and the playground, the point of Apple stuff is that you give up some things in exchange for a smooth user experience. In this case, for me and apparently quite a lot of people, it's back to the days of Windows 9x.

A day isn't long to wait before doing the upgrade, but there are so many people wanting to bash Apple that I thought there'd be a big fuss if anything was going wrong. Hataz, FAIL.

Secretive Brit millionaire buys Segway Inc

Michael Wright

More official Sinclairway use

Saw a member of the Italian railway police swanning along a platform at Bologna on one; he looked a tiny bit embarrassed.

Apple Magic Mouse

Michael Wright

Alas, the best Mac mouse is still a Microsoft mouse

Having the iPhone gestures available might be nice, but it looks like Microsoft still make the best Mac mice, as people have said.

V. odd, since the appeal of Mac is the ergonomics. And Mr Jobs is getting on a bit, now: surely he too has arthritis beginning in his hands.

New Zealand bolts net filtering regime into place

Michael Wright

So far, the principles work OK

The point about the "public good" provision is that the banned item has to cause, or be likely to cause, actual harm. It gets away from criteria like "offensive," which is a question of taste. What could cause harm is a potential subject for a court to determine.

This basic pattern of law has been in effect for quite a while, and hasn't interfered with Peter Jackson's career at all. There is remarkably little concern expressed by artists or civil liberties groups over the NZ censorship laws. Of course they could be abused, like all laws, but at the moment the NZ govts are being pretty pragmatic and unideological.

Gov stumps £4.3m bee health funding

Michael Wright
Dead Vulture

GBP 4.3 million well spent, probably

This might seem droll, but actually 4 million is well worthwhile to keep bee populations up. As a very few posters have pointed out, bees are important for the pollination of some crops. Here in NZ, professional beekeepers make their money from hiring out the hives for pollination; the honey is only a little bit of jam on top, as it were.

Yeah, yeah, Reg likes to have fun, but it would help to distinguish what is actually worthwhile from Govt support for the batshit stuff like "Alternative Medicine."

LG FA163DAB 160W iDock micro hi-fi system

Michael Wright
Paris Hilton

"Sluggish" iPods??

"Some of the flatness and sluggish response that can be a feature of iPod playback is gone, and ultimately there is more bounce and a more natural feeling to the sound."

Does this mean anything? In particular, what is "sluggish response"? The review also talks about the unit's response to complex rhythms. What features, exactly, are involved hear? The audiophile-grade toe-tap quantum nucleizer?

Paris, because she seems to *like* a load of bollocks.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 Windows Mobile smartphone

Michael Wright

A bit familiar?

This all sounds a bit like my HTC Kaiser, what with slide-out-and-tilt keyboard, Windows Mobile rather than Symbian, microSD rather than MemoryStick, camera of only moderate quality. Coincidence?

Educating Verity

Michael Wright


Good Stobbing, but the article refers to "tenured academics." Only American academics (AFAIK) have tenure. Academics in the rest of the world can get made redundant: many have been recently, at the University I have, thankfully, retired from. Also, someone recently got fired for doing something that was bad, but judicially held not to be grounds for sacking. But of course they didn't have to take him back--he was, after all, a bit abrasive and Questioned the University's Commercial Strategy--can't have chaps like that.

It's all part of the massification and commercialisation, and students are now customers. Some policy makers seem to think that somehow academics will maintain standards because they are that sort of person, but there are no rewards for insisting on high standards for passing the course, and in the end, academics go with the incentives, just like anyone else.

So, if academics were good at working in a commercial environment, would they do it for university salaries? So expect standards to decline further.

K Desktop Environment 4.1 lands

Michael Wright


"Why can't Linux programmers name there bloody applications using standard dictionary works."

Assuming you mean "their" applications using dictionary "words":

1. You can't have intellectual property rights over a plain dictionary word, which is why commercial products use cute spellings of ordinary words (with something like "Outlook" it'll be the particular design of the typesetting that MS have rights over, though I wouldn't want to try to market an email client under the name Lookout, either);

2. the K thing brands it all as part of the same set of apps.

I'm not saying I like it, but there are reasons, and at least they didn't spend hundreds of thousands with some whale-song strategy boutique to get a corporate identity strategy.

Apple is Fisher-Price of sound quality, says Neil Young

Michael Wright

Oh God, here comes the same old crap again

Dynamic range compression is real, a pain in the ears, and it happens on CDs, so Apple have got bugger all to do with it.

If you think MP3s sound tinny, I've got some really good homeopathic cures for electrosmog to sell you, at exorbitant prices for the placebo-addicted. Anyway, Apple uses AAC, which is generally acknowledged as being a technically superior codec to MP3, though MP3 at reasonable bitrates is demonstrably good enough for people who are interested in listening to music, rather than willy-swinging about who's got the biggest woofer. Two exceptions: highly synthetic or distorted music (electro, really loud distorted guitars) and harpsichord. A few problems with hi-hats.

The one thing Apple could improve is the quality of their earbuds, but you can always buy a better pair of phones.

Not that this will convince people who've got too much ego involved with their golden ears and ludicrously expensive electronica. As for Neil Young, what I have to say (as someone who was totally blown away by "Like a Hurricane") is: he's launching a new release on Blu-Ray, so he would say that, wouldn't he.

Now kindly return to listening to music in the inaudible frequency range, but watch out for the bats. Some of them might be vampires. Hey, I can fix you up with an audiophile in garlic: not cheap, but it really transmogrifies the high frequency modulation, too.

Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap

Michael Wright

Can you get commercial insurance for nuclear?

I know coal mining is hugely dangerous. According to Wikipedia, the PRC government acknowledged ~6 000 coal mining deaths in 2004. In all probability, the mining and use of coal has cost more lives this century than all the deaths attributable to nuclear energy, including not only Chernobyl, but also Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yes, I know you can't rely on PRC statistics, but they're probably understating the figures; and yes, PRC safety standards are hugely lower than modern Western ones, but older Western mines were dangerous, and the use of coal hugely polluting. I had rellies who died of miners' diseases, and I can remember the London smogs of the '50s. Coal has killed, and is still killing, a lot of people.

But: there is an industry that makes its money out of calculating risks, and the last time I looked, you can't get commercial insurance for the risks of nuclear power.

What do they know? Or is it just prejudice? This is the only thing that gives me pause about fission power plants.

Of course, I'm in my sixties and have no kids, so it doesn't make much difference to me, but you lot need to get it sorted.

Nokia N78

Michael Wright

"slightly pretentious ‘composers’ search option"

And what, pray, the f is pretentious about a "composer" search option?

Or aren't old farts like me allowed to have nice new phones?

BTW, it would be nice to see a real review that gave some clue about how well the GPS works in practice. I will buy a new phone when I get get one with useful GPS -- useful in New Zild, that is.