* Posts by Steve Anderson

79 publicly visible posts • joined 17 Apr 2007


How a Tory gov will be the most tech-savvy in history

Steve Anderson
Dead Vulture

That's it - ditching El Reg.

This isn't tech news (nor does it have a Paris Hilton angle) - this is free election communication. The only reason I could possibly see for having it here is to show how technologically illiterate the Tory party are.

I don't come here for the politics, nor the bitter trolling opinions of Andrew "Hit Every Branch Of The Ugly Tree On The Way Down" Orlowski, so that's it. Goodbye, El Reg, it was fun having you in Google Reader. I'm off to see if The Inquirer has no political content.

Argos buries unencrypted credit card data in email receipts

Steve Anderson

Since at least April last year.

Just checked the HTML source for the receipt for the cooker I bought last April and discovered that my name, address, postcode, credit card number, expiry date, and CVV number were all there.

As parameters in a link.

To an unsecured site.

And the text in link? "Online Security"

Am I allowed to swear? Because I'm pretty fucked off about this. This is utterly ridiculous.

BBC to cull radio stations, halve websites in painful biz review

Steve Anderson

Radio 3

Scrap Radio 3 - there's a viable commercial alternative broadcasting on FM and digital in the form of Classic FM. Divide the DAB bandwidth amongst other national stations (Radio 3 has twice the bandwidth of Radio 1, 2, 4, 6Music and four times that of Radio 5, IIRC) and give the FM frequency to 6Music, which has no commercial alternative (that one that used to be Virgin - Absolute is it? - is AM only to 99% of the population, and XFM's attempts to broadcast outside London have been woeful, with only XFM Manchester surviving).

Also, why not get rid of 1Xtra, which seems to be a pale imitation of every pirate radio station I've heard in my life?

BBC iPlayer rejects open source plugins, takes Flash-only path

Steve Anderson

DRM in Adobe Flash

From what I recall, there's three pieces of information used to secure an RTMP; two strings that say something along the lines of "Genuine Adobe Flash" and a big long string of bytes. The problem that rtmpdump had last year was that these three pieces of information were baked into it, and with that Adobe could toot their DMCA DRM-bypass horn to cause grief.

Now, if those three strings were provided as command line options, without their values being documented anywhere in the code, the DMCA nonsense is unlikely to stand up. Adobe would have to DMCA Google, Yahoo, Twitter and so on over and over again. We all know how well that worked with DVD's CSS...

El Reg reader assembles own iPad

Steve Anderson

I prefer...

... an iPod Touch with a Fresnel lens attached:


Bob the Builder slapped with CGI rendering

Steve Anderson

Postman Pat

Postman Pat's not CGI. Only the characters' mouths and the big sweeping views are; the rest is proper, real stop-motion. It's also still really good.

You're otherwise completely correct. Thomas hasn't been any good since they turned it into an overly preachy thing around 8 years ago; the CGI faces and people now are an abomination on top.

Return of MP3 spam punts penis pill sites

Steve Anderson


It's more likely to be Blues because it's the default genre on the MP3 encoder. I had to do a batch encode earlier today and all the vocals ended up being tagged Blues for that reason.

Just saying, that's all.

Chumby internet-connected alarm clock

Steve Anderson




I've been woken up by a Chumby One for the past week. Including shipping, it cost roughly half as much as Firebox are asking for the Chumby Classic. It has a faster processor and more flash memory (courtesy of a microSD card), and an FM radio.

Are you wrong? Erm, yes. Yes you are.

Tories to fight election on Spotify

Steve Anderson


Looks like I chose the right day to complete my advert muting script then. YAY!

UK.gov convinces just 2,000 Mancunians to join ID card trial

Steve Anderson
Big Brother

Don't forget...

... ID cards are only a small part of the problem, the main problem being the huge, all-encompassing state database that works alongside. Beware of political parties promising to scrap the ID cards without promising to scrap the database as well.

Welsh yobs clobbered by cross-dressing cage fighters

Steve Anderson

We breed our trannies hard in Wales

It's the landscape, see. Nightmare being 6'2" with heels going up the side of a valley.

The best netbook-friendly Linux distros

Steve Anderson

Jolicloud is hard to come by

Jolicloud is in a closed alpha at the moment, and no more invites are going out. A shame, I thought, because I was going to try it... so I went for Eeebuntu 3.0 instead, and I'm glad I did. Eeebuntu 2.0 was good but had some rough spots - 3.0 has sanded them back, polished them up and applied a beautiful layer of lacquer.

I tried CrunchEee but didn't get on with it. I've also been through eeeXubuntu, generic Ubuntu, Fedora and Mandriva to get to where I am. 10 years of Linux experience has deposited me where I am.

BNP DDoS 'mega-assault' not actually mega in the least

Steve Anderson

Anglo Saxons

I always have a wry chuckle at the notion of the "indigenous people" that the BNP like to go on about, it inevitably involves the term "Anglo Saxon". The Angles and the Saxons turned up in Britain from what is modern Germany, and - gasp - interbred (no, the HORROR) not only with each other but with the existing Celtic race. Bloody foreigners, coming over here, stealing our jobs, spoiling our racial purity, grumble grumble.

So, this assisted repatriation thing? Anyone "Anglo Saxon and proud" with a BNP leaning can bugger off back to Germany any time they like and leave us happy Liberal Celts behind, thanks.

Google's email goes titsup (again)

Steve Anderson

What outage?

Been fine here all morning, both on a domain and as a vanilla Gmail account.

Google puts Chrome tabs on options list

Steve Anderson

Chrome's not open source

You're thinking of the underlying Chromium project and the WebKit renderer, both of which are open source. Chrome itself is proprietary.

Spotify: We kick the tyres

Steve Anderson
Thumb Up

My impressions

I've been kicking the tyres, so to speak, for a few weeks now and really like Spotify.

It's worth noting that it's streaming a Vorbis (aka OGG) stream so that 160kbit offers greater fidelity than a similar bitrate MP3 stream.

The catalogue is patchy in places, mainly due to the licensing mess - a whole bunch of songs were removed just before going live because they didn't have clear streaming rights. (This resulted in the removal of a load of Joe Gibbs and the Professionals albums - and just when I was in the mood for some 70s dub!)

The catalogue also gets confused. There are two bands named Heavenly; the super awesome British indie band of the early 90s and a French speed metal band. The two albums they have for Heavenly are from the UK band but the biography (and suggested similar artists) involve French metal. Makes for a surreal listening experience - like the most inept DJ's radio show ever.

Adverts are unobtrusive but not well targeted - not right now, at any rate. They can see what I've been listening to - why make me listen to an advert for Lady Gaga when I've been stuck in reggae and indie for days?

The software is excellent. Small footprint in terms of memory and CPU (far, far smaller than iTunes) and doesn't stutter and fall over when anything processor intensive is going on (like, erm, iTunes). Also obeys the media keys on my keyboard out of the box, which is nice.

Hence, a thumbs up from me.

Silverlight for Linux hits with Microsoft punch

Steve Anderson

@Ken Hagan

There's a 64-bit Flash 10 player for Linux.

Also, to answer P Lee above - no, you have to be a customer of Novell. So if you have OpenSuse you're still open to the threat.

Freeway-averse Peapod runabout to go on sale in April

Steve Anderson

That motor...

I just pulled a motor which I calculate to be about 3HP from a broken (and cheap) vacuum cleaner with my son. Had a speed controller and everything. One of them on each wheel - that'd be under £300 to provide the same traction and control. Absurd.

Parcelforce website cold-shoulders Linux lovers

Steve Anderson
Thumb Up

I for one thank Parcelforce for not supporting Linux...

... because it means I've heard of Parcel2Go.com. Thanks, commenters, for mentioning them.

Tazzari specs up UK-friendly electric runabout

Steve Anderson
Thumb Down

Don't forget the VAT.

£16k excluding VAT is £18,400 inclusive this year and £18,800 next year. Screw that. If it were under £7k it might have legs (or wheels, a ho ho) but £18.8k is taking the piddle. You could get a bunch of engineering students to build you something better for less and get it based on a car that you could survive a crash in.

Apple threatens Palm chomp

Steve Anderson

I've got a US patent pending

Application #2009006711499

"Method and mechanism for doing fucking anything" it's titled. Bet it gets approved.

SCO auctions Unix and mobile assets to continue fight

Steve Anderson

Can't even patent troll properly

To be a patent troll you need to have ambiguous patents, and then threaten people with them. SCO aren't doing that, because they don't have any ambiguous patents to troll with - they're going for copyright instead.

With no patents that can be used to troll with, they're going to have a hard time getting any money at all - their server products are as good as dead.

Anti-radiation phone chip withdrawn from sale

Steve Anderson

The great thing about quantum physics

From what I recall, in quantum theory the observation of an event has a direct effect on the event itself. Quantum encryption is unbreakable because merely observing it disrupts it enough to mark it broken. (Something like that. I'm at work and can't remember.)

So from this, I conclude that this chip works; it's just if you try and observe it working it stops working. I think the lights in fridges are similar.

VAT fraudster must repay £26m

Steve Anderson


I'd keep the money and do an extra 10 years, myself. It's not like he's going to earn £2.8 million a year when he's released, after all. Free bed and breakfast too!

Adobe pinballs 64-bit Flash Player 10 alpha into Linux orbit

Steve Anderson

Well, I'm happy.

Flash 10 player for Linux runs fullscreen fine. I know Flash 9 player was hit and miss (depending on the version you got). As a professional Flash developer and happy happy freetard at the same time, it's nice to be able to get what I create in my Windows dev environment running on my Eee.

Sony pitches blue-laser Compact Disc revival

Steve Anderson

Cleans dirty bits

The blue laser is blue for the same reason toilet cleaners are blue - to clean. Nothing's as clean as something that's been cleaned with blue. So, by using a blue laser they get rid of the dirty bits that the red laser would miss, leaving only clean bits and making it all sound better. Isn't it obvious? Dirty bits create dirty bytes that get thrown out by the centrifugal action of the CD spinning - open up the case on any CD player and you'll find a mark left around the inside from the dirty bytes getting flung out, and these marks steal frequencies.

Seriously, you match up a blue CD player with nitrogen-enhanced interconnects and quantum volume controls and you'll find it hard to believe how poor everything else sounds.

Silverlight has serious side, says Microsoft

Steve Anderson


My company works extensively in Flash. We use the Adobe Flex compiler (which is open source) to compile software programmed in FlashDevelop (open source) and use SWHX (an open source Flash container, written in the open source haXe language and compiled into open source Neko bytecode) if we want an executable file out the other side. When we need heavy-weight data manipulation in an installed program we have command-line PHP (open source) and SQLite (open source/public domain) at hand; if it's a web-based app we have PHP/MySQL/Ruby/Python/whatever in the background. From this we get things that run on Windows, OSX, Linux and mobile phones (bar the iPhone), on and offline, and our TCO is TINY.

So there.

Citroën sparks electric C-Cactus production plan

Steve Anderson

Whilst everyone is quick to insult French cars...

... please remember that the French do, at least, have a motor industry. (Don't bother pointing out the British motor industry's few remaining companies - I said "industry", not "7 men in an oversized shed building four cars a year" - or the handful of foreign companies using British labour.)

iPhone users get BBC radio downloads

Steve Anderson

Other portable devices...

... will be the Nokia N95/N96. They've actually been streaming video at 320x180(ish) - a 16:9 resolution that fits on a QVGA screen - for a little while now. It's encapsulated as .3GP streams and tagged as "n95_streaming" which is complete giveaway, but unless you're willing to go through the hoops you'd never know it was there. (As one of the guys who yanked the carpet out from under the iPhone streams earlier this year, I'm quite used to the iPlayer's hoops.)

The quality isn't great when you try and look at it fullscreen on a 17" monitor, but on the 2.6" N95 screen it's fine. My guessing is that the N96 iPlayer client that the Beeb and Nokia tooted their horns about a month or so ago will be a simple front-end to access these streams and pass the necessary URL into RealPlayer on these devices - much the same as the YouTube application for the N95.

Back to radio though, the MP3 streams are delivered through exactly the same system of user-agents, cookies, handshaking and so forth that the video streams are, meaning that it's really quite simple to save the MP3 if you feel the need to. Given that they include music, they're better than the officially sanctioned podcasts...

U2 tracks disappear from YouTube

Steve Anderson

Bono must be livid...

... this has happened and yet the world just keeps turning...

Twitter falls silent in the UK

Steve Anderson


SMS is expensive because it can be. Captive audience - charge what you like.

If you assume you're paying 10p for an SMS, that's 10p for 140 bytes (7-bit encoding, hence 160 characters). 1 Kilobyte costs 73p at that rate. The 48K in my Spectrum - £35.11. Upping the ante to a 700 Mb CD-ROM - over £52.4 million. 4.7Gb single layer DVD-R is well over £360 million.

It makes the stories of £2000 roaming charges for people with Jesus Phones look like a drop in the ocean!

Not sure what the limit to an MMS message is, but back when I was with Virgin Mobile PAYG my phone would send 100Kb maximum and I'd be paying 30p for the message, making it up to 243.8 times cheaper, byte-for-byte.

I worked all this out on a very long, very delayed, very boring train ride...

COBOL thwarts California's Governator

Steve Anderson


Go on Microsoft, you know you want to get a piece of the COBOL action. Roll out COBOL.net...

Teens admit to Grand Theft Auto-inspired petrol bombfest

Steve Anderson

Where I learnt to make petrol bombs

At home, watching BBC News, aged about 8. It was kicking off in Ireland, and the new report showed men throwing milk bottles with a burning rag in the top. When they hit the floor, fire spread out across the floor; at the same time the news reader said that people were throwing petrol bombs. I was one of the brighter kids at school, granted, but it wasn't hard to figure out what was going on.

So, if I go on a rampage, do I blame BBC News or whatever Irish paramilitary group it was? Or the news reader for connecting the dots in my head? Stupid.

Oh, and @Mike: Aim your vitriol at the correct group next time please. We're talking about Deep South of the US here, a place populated in its entirety by the polar opposite of who you want to blame. (And I think you might be confusing our current administration with socialists - you're an order of country miles wide of the mark!)

K Desktop Environment 4.1 lands

Steve Anderson

Ha ha ha

I only clicked on this article to chuckle at the inevitable ill-informed trolls and spleen-venting enthusiasts. Not disappointed!

Linspire CEO defends Xandros buy-out

Steve Anderson

MS Patents

So, what has happened is that one also-ran Linux provider that signed an MS patent deal has been bought out by another also-ran Linux provider that signed an MS patent deal.

Sounds good to me. One less "leading supplier of Linux software" for MS to harp on about in its protection racket pamphlets.

South Africa launches formal objection at OOXML

Steve Anderson
Gates Horns

Back to the question in hand...

"That decision follows months of heated arguments on both sides the OOXML debate, with ISO-approved OpenDocument Format (ODF) fanciers in one corner and lovers of Microsoft’s spec in the other."

I think you mean "lover" singular - the Great Beast. Anyone who has so much as glanced as the spec has vomited out of their eye sockets. If, for some reason, that hasn't put them off and they've spent more than five minutes looking at it, they come out in hives. The really intrepid adventurer developers who are in it "for the experience" find themselves kidnapped at gunpoint BY THEIR OWN BRAINS and forced to eat a bowl of eye balls and hives in vomit. It really is quite horrific.

Although I hear those on the payroll are willing to put up with eye-vomit in return for special treats from MS-central, which they've yet to realise are hollow, empty promises. "Hey, we can get Vista in our schools for three years with a 5% discount!"

Chinese supplier offers 'cheapest' Linux laptop

Steve Anderson

Processor weirdness

What's with the ultra-cheap laptops (if your lap is that small - let's call them thigh-tops) all using these bizarre, unknown 400MHz processors? Where the hell have they come from and what were they originally designed for before someone had the bright idea to use them in computers?

It's a safe bet that they're going to obey x86 instruction sets, but how sucky is the performance going to be compared to, say, the 450MHz P3 I had eight years ago?

Build a 14.5 watt data center in a shoebox

Steve Anderson


I've got an NSLU2 with a pair of hard drives mounted in an old DVD Recorder case. Two cables - mains and network - and it all just... works. Tops. I flashed the firmware to run uNSLUng, but I feel Debian might be in order - I quite fancy the extra flexibility.


That said, those tiny 'puters look like fun, if expensive, gadgets!

Asus admits big global Eee supply-demand imbalance

Steve Anderson

Time for an Avatar?

Can we have the Eee girl added as an avatar icon thingy, to transform any post to one about dinky laptops on the beach?

BBC calls DRM cops on iPlayer download party

Steve Anderson

Part way towards a hack again

I've got a rough idea what's going on. To help my quest this time, I have a genuine iPhone a few feet away and will make it connect through an HTTP proxy. And this technique will beat the BBC's best efforts until they force both of the iPhone owners that use the service to download iKontiki once the SDK's released.

Honestly, they could do it right, or they could do it the BBC way.

Steve Jobs rescues freetards from BBC iPlayer wilderness (for now)

Steve Anderson

Several points to clear up...

A few things need to be settled.

Firstly, there's acres of comments like this:

"They are still broadcasting this stuff, sans DRM, in a [relatively] high quality format.

"You could always watch it on a televisual decoding device. Or, record it on a video capturator thingy and convert it yourself. Or ask Smithers to do it, if it's too technical.

"It is amazing the lengths some will go to to get a poor quality version of something they already have. This is only out-amazed by the whining of those that already have something and can't get a poor quality version of it."

Surely the point is to use iPlayer if you miss something, rather than to replace all your TV viewing with it? I distinctly remember David Attenborough saying, "If you missed the last episode of Life In Cold Blood, you can watch it now on BBC iPlayer." Not, "Why not watch this on iPlayer, Freetard?"

So YES! The BBC broadcasts in glorious SD and dabbles in HD, and yes, you can set your generic PVR to record things. You can also drive a Reliant Robin on a motorcycle licence - it's literally THAT relevant to what's being discussed here.

Another thing - there's this idea that by supplying a Flash stream, Linux is catered for. Tell that to anyone using a non-x86 distro, like people with AMD64 processors, or Linux on PPC, or on a GP2X. It's merely catering for anyone Adobe has decided to supply a Flash9 player for.

Finally, Linux downloadable iPlayer - it's not in the pipeline. There's no programmers assigned to it, there's just a vague commitment to consider doing it for a 'niche' operating system once some niche products that are easier to monetise are catered for instead.

Steve Anderson

I am one of the "freetards"

My Flickr page is linked to at the end of the article. I take it, therefore, that I'm a "freetard" - oh, so clever. The Purlitzer prize will come knocking!

@Neil Hoskins: I'm not a childish nerd, thanks. The MP4 streams are better quality than the Flash ones and are easier to handle on my Asus Eee which, coincidentally I paid for (so not "free" - I guess El Reg just want to call me a "retard") because Flash doesn't go fullscreen. Plus by obtaining the MP4 I can watch things on my iPod Classic as well, which remains a shiny Apple product (again paid for). To be honest, if they'd done more for desktop machines before leaping on a fad product like the iPhone, this would probably not be an issue.

@"mac fanboys v linus freetards?" I fail to see your point, not least because your ability to spell and use grammar seems to get left at the door when the red mist comes up at the thought that anyone uses anything different to you. Also it seems that most people doing this (looking at referrer logs) are - shock! - Windows users, probably sick of the state that Kontiki leaves their bandwidth in. Maybe the BBC should just throw in the towel altogether then?

Here's the bottom line. The BBC are supplying programmes that can be downloaded and viewed by anything capable of understanding and parsing a standards compliant media player, but do so at a significantly lower resolution than a DVD. I think they should leave it at that - if you want to watch something, do so freely - I'm not going to go out and buy a DVD because I missed an episode of a programme, but I would download a lower resolution copy to watch. If I were a fan of the show I might well go out and buy the DVD because I'd want the best version available. It's a win/win situation.

Of course, what they'll do now is anyone's guess. I can't see them licensing FairPlay from Apple though - imagine what the board of directors would say about taking on another DRM product - they might recognise it as snake oil. They're not going to drop the iPlayer for the iPhone because they'd have egg on their face after trumpeting how great it is and rushing around making deals with The Cloud. The best option is to be honest about it and treat us like adults for a change.

IE8 to follow web standards by default

Steve Anderson

"IE7 Standards mode"

How can it be a standard if only one thing uses it? Or do they want it to read that it renders only up to the same standards as IE7, which would be like calling it, ooh, "GCSE-standards coursework"?

Elonex £99 Eee PC rival to arrive in June

Steve Anderson
Thumb Up

My company was in the stand next to Elonex...

Elonex's stand was moved next to ours at short notice, which was nice for us because they generated a lot of traffic! It also meant I got to have a good play with the ElonexONE and chatted to the guys on the stand - and being a Linux user (and Eee owner) I got as much technical info as I could.

What they had on the stand was a technical sample and not a final product. They're playing with different processors (including a 1GHz processor) and seeing how much memory they can get in without exceeding £100. The OS they had on there wasn't final either, and they openly admitted to anyone that it's looking a bit flaky at the moment because they'd committed to a launch date and then had to rush things last minute.

The device itself is novel in design and I rather liked it - seeing through the rough edges it was obvious to me that there was something good inside, and I just hope that the rough edges are polished off nicely. The keyboard was a bit squishy for my liking but then I touchtype, and this is being marketed for kids - when I was a kid, I had a rubber-keyed Spectrum that I pecked the keys of. The display, however, is as good as the Eee (which is good).

I'd lay down £100 for one. Nuff said.

Elonex punts £99 Linux laptop

Steve Anderson

Obvious usage...

This will make a marvellous digital photoframe, looking at the size and pondering the power consumption. A photoframe that can download the occasional torrent!

Anyway, I'm going to be at the show next Friday and will be heading there with a load of questions, a camera and some eager hands to try it out.

EU commissioner backs record biz on copyright extensions

Steve Anderson


Oh look, the BPI is crying.

Boo hoo!

Boo hoo!

I don't know of any industry that throws tantrums in the presence of the government in an attempt to get its own way quite like the BPI. I think it might stand for the Big Pansy Institute. Oh no, I've insulted the BPI! Boo hoo! Boo hoo! Get my ISP to kick me off for being a big meanie!

And so on.

SCO bags $100m to fight another day

Steve Anderson


... should pay the legal fees for, ooh, another three months then.

OnlineTV recorder TVCatchup.com shut down

Steve Anderson


Lardboy's right - it was actually significantly better than the commercial offerings, even if it did rely on the Freeview EPG (meaning Five's programmes were always cut off before the end). Maybe this all-broadcaster catch-up thing that we've heard the Beeb, ITV and Channel 4 want to roll out can learn something about usability and features.

Armed police swoop on MP3-packing mechanic

Steve Anderson

If only this happened...

... to the sort of person who says "If you've got nothing to hide, what's the problem?" about ID cards, that sort of thing. Or any member of staff from the Daly [Mail|Express] on general principal.

Freeview lobby cries foul on Ofcom HDTV plans

Steve Anderson

I for one look forward

to bidup.tv at 1080p.