* Posts by A

59 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Jun 2008


HDD data density to hit 2.4Tb/in² 'by 2014'


Why bother?

SSD's are faster, and they're already ahead in the areal density stakes. About the only reason I can think of is that they *might* be cheaper than an SSD. That said we're talking about five years time, so I suspect by that point SSD will beat it on every parameter.

Who will win the epic battle for the kitchen OS?


A cooler alternative

Now we have eInk why not just make it the biscuit tin?

Astronauts suffer 'exploding' space headache


I wonder

Could it be something as simple as persistent noise outside the normal human hearing range?

Hippus HandshoeMouse


Carpal tunnel vs RSI

My girlfriend had her carpal tunnel release surgery a while ago, and she's been really happy with the results. No more pain, and no more numbness, just a pair of useful hands once again.

Interestingly the consultant she used was of the opinion that there's no such thing as RSI, only carpal tunnel syndrome.

It's important to get a good surgeon though; my girlfriend was back at work in less than a week after her surgery, and was completely pain free after a month.

One of her colleagues had it done by a different surgeon and was off work for three months, and the colleague is still in pain even now. Conversely my girlfriend can't believe how much better her life is now.

I'll also mention that although carpal tunnel is one problem, there can be other things that cause hand problems too. Just because you have pain doesn't always mean it's carpal tunnel syndrome.

Personally, I suggest you get a mouse without a wheel; a rocker switch is far better ergonomically IMO. It's that come hither motion on the wheel that caused me problems.

Dell to launch Android netbooks


Sounds pretty pointless to me; if true.

The reason I buy a PC is so that I can run PC software on it; if I wanted a PDA or smart phone, I'd have bought one of those instead.

I'm sure Android is lovely, but personally I don't want it as the main OS on one of my PCs.

I suspect most non-technical customers don't really want it either, not least because many of them won't understand why they can't run their existing software on it. They might go for it because it has a "cool" name; but I suspect they'll take it back pretty quickly once they realise they can't do what they're expecting to do with it.

US lawmakers to de-silence electric cars


How very PC

Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act = PEA C = PC geddit? ;)

Apple bullish on iPhone refresh sales


Doesn't sound like an iPhone refresh to me

Low density flash in large quantities would suggest something physically larger than an iPhone/iPod is planned.

I'm wondering whether they're going to go SSD for the desktop Mac range. That would require a lot of chips, and being desktop means that space isn't at a premium.

French adhesive workers stick it to Brit boss


At least it's easy to find out when a French company plans layoffs

At least you'll know a mass culling is due; the entire board and senior management all mysteriously go on holiday at the same time ;)

Brussels: Old-school lightbulbs to be gone by 2012


Of energy efficiency and dimmers

Apparently we should use CFL because "conventional" bulbs are an inefficient form of space heating, as well as lighting.

I have it on good authority that using electricity for generating heat is 2.7x more carbon intensive than gas space heating, and more importantly it's 3.5x more expensive.

Of course you should steer clear of the cheap CFLs like the plague that they are. Unfortunately those cheap ones were exactly what British Gas sent out to all their customers, so they're what most people first have experience of.

A good CFL has a nice colour rendition, and doesn't flicker at all. Check the CRI of any bulb you're considering, check the colour temperature, and if you can test it for yourself to see whether it starts cleanly and quickly.

Interestingly there's a fair amount of variation in performance between individual bulbs of the same model in my experience. For example that British Gas CFL package contained several apparently identical 60W (equiv) bulbs, one of them starts instantly and builds up to full brightness in under a minute; the other flickers badly during startup and takes several minutes to get brighter, yet the make/model is identical.

Personally I don't see the slow start characteristic as an issue; I don't usually want full brightness instantly myself, it's uncomfortable.

As for flickering once the bulb is on; with a good bulb it's negligible IMO. I can see flicker on a CRT up to 80Hz or so, and none of the CFLs here seem to flicker to me.

As for dimmables; you need special bulbs for that. No idea how well they work, as I don't use dimmers.

Obesity witchhunt is a 'moral panic' - sense out of Texas


If your GP says you're under/overweight do your own BMI calculations

My brother was told by his GP that he was dangerously underweight, and that he should significantly increase his caloric intake.

The next time my brother saw the same GP he was told "Ooops, nevermind, I added it up wrong".

So my advice is, do your own sums, and do use a calculator ;)

Lights out, Britons told - we're running out of power


Energy Saving Trust

I asked a similar question to the person replied to in the article, and I had my reply in less than 24hrs.

Apparently the reason we should use energy saving bulbs is that using electricity is a less efficient method of space heating than gas, they claimed that it's 2.7x more carbon intensive and 3.5x more expensive to heat your home using electricity. Those seem like reasonably good reasons to me!

My personal take on the idea of new nuclear stations is a big no thanks; if you let private companies build and operate it, you can pretty much bet that they'll choose the cheapest quote and the cheapest staff to operate it. Even if you can design a 100% safe nuclear plant, having corners cut whilst it's built and when it's being operated greatly increases the accident risk IMO. Also I know exactly what'll happen when those new plants come up for de-comissioning; the company that made the obscene profits from the operation phase will suddenly go bankrupt, leaving us, the taxpayer, to foot the bill as usual.

YouTube blocks music videos in UK


The PRS appear to be idiots.

Anyone care to guess what the #1 reason for me buying songs? Yup, Youtube. You get to hear the whole song, rather than a random 30s snippet, and it usually shows you other things that might be of interest too.

I'd say 90% of my music purchases this year (amounting to 3 CD's and 10MP3's) came as a direct result of listening to music on Youtube.

The title says it all.

Firefox update tackles critical memory bugs


Re: @Havin_it

Under Vista? Task murdering is easy: WindowsKey-R, type:


Once the commandline is open type:

taskkill /im firefox.exe /t /f

That should kill firefox and all its sub-processes. Job done :)

As for the flakiness people are reporting; I think it's probably those "must have" extensions too. Some of them render it about as stable as a giraffe on a unicycle ;)

World's 'smallest, lightest' laptop launches

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That looks pretty cool

I like the look of this one. Then again I always had a soft spot for the true ultraportables.

Canon Digital Ixus 980 IS compact camera


Sample images

Thanks for providing some 100% crops. I would find it even more useful if you could add some information about the camera settings at the time; particularly which ISO setting the camera chose.

Easy to do with the original pictures, just install EXIFER:


It's getting a bit long in the tooth, but it does work under Vista.

Sony shows 'flexi OLED' curvacious concept kit


An OLED Reader?!?

An OLED Reader makes no sense at all to me; as one of the key features of the Reader is the great battery life, and that's pretty much entirely down to the low power requirements of the eInk display. OLED would need to be pumping out light all the time to be readable, which I'd expect means the battery life would go down in a very big way.

Hands on with Sony's PRS-700 ebook reader


Yes Sony, release it in the UK please!

I agree, PRS700 for the UK ASAP please Sony!

Does the touchscreen mean we can now annotate e-books? If so, that's very cool indeed!

LG KC870 cut-price 8Mp cameraphone


Reg mobile reviews

There are a few additional things I would like to see in your reviews:

Firstly a specifications table for the handsets would be useful, so we can see at once whether the phone has the features we want/need. Not vital, but it would be nice.

More importantly I really want to see photo/video taken with the phone; what's the point of reviewing a camera phone without showing us the picture quality? It's not as if these will be huge files...

Nikon D90 digital SLR with HD video recording


Re: How does the Nikon D90 compare to the Canon 40D?

Under a grand? I'd try and find a Canon EOS 5D, mk I. There are some available new for around that, obviously you can pick a used one for less.

Why? Excellent per pixel sharpness, over and above the cameras you listed. Full frame, so no FOV crop, which makes wideangle easier. Of course that's only a major advantage if you tend to shoot wideangle; the 1.6x FOV Canon 40D/50D (1.5x Nikon D80/D90) crop factor is an advantage if you tend to prefer telephoto; as it effectively gives you a free 1.6x teleconverter built-in ;)

The only thing missing from the mk1 is live view. If you're into tripod based macro, or astrophotography then that's a pain. Of course the mk2 has it, but it's way over a grand.

Incidentally the noise levels on the D90 are low because it appears to be applying some pretty aggressive noise reduction.


NEC breakthrough paves way for powerless standy-by modes



We could just use an on/off switch ;)

Terry Pratchett knighted for services to literature

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I think Terry Pratchett richly deserves his knighthood. Happy New Year Terry!

Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot C905 eight-megapixel cameraphone


Sample pictures please

It's a cameraphone review, so please could we have some actual shots taken with it?

"A few seconds" is also pretty meaningless as a start up time; if it takes "a few minutes" then we have a problem. How many seconds?

@ AndyPoulton: LOL; great post!

Sony teases netbook fans with 'new mobile' Vaio promo


Actually the Picturebook is older than that.

I have a first generation Picturebook, C1F, and it's based on a super speedy Pentium 266MHz MMX. That one came out a year or two before the Crusoe based model.

I'll be interested to see what lies at the end of the promo, regardless of whether it's a Picturebook or a SCC. I doubt it'll be an S *C* C anyway, as Sony doesn't tend to work the low end much.

Is it definitely a Vaio? Any chance it could be a completely new PSP?

MSI mobo ditches Bios for EFI



I think I'd rather stick with the good old BIOS screens. Text input is simple and the whole thing works well.

This looks complex, garish and completely unnecessary to me. It even includes games, I mean games in the BIOS FFS?!?

Last Xmas for CDs, please, researcher tells music biz


CD = dodo

This is the first year I don't have any CDs on my Amazon UK wishlist; nor does my girlfriend, nor my brother.

The reason? 7digital.com. Reasonably priced MP3 tracks at up to 320k. For those whining about DRM and low bitrates, may I suggest you check it out?

Battery builders beg for $1bn


Re: Fuel cells?

The problem is that creating and compressing the hydrogen requires a great deal of electricity in the first place; so it may well be far less efficient than a standard battery plug-in vehicle, when you take complete system into account.

Robert Llewellyn offers an interesting, if somewhat (overly) profane, grasp of the problem here:


2008's top three netbooks


Re: AA1

> found the touchpad unusable

They're all unusable; that's pretty much the dictionary definition of a touchpad.

OED sez:

Touchpad (n): Device used to make the cursor jump randomly around the screen; also useful for deleting arbitrary words whilst you type.

Samsung Pixon M8800 8Mp cameraphone



Any chance of seeing some photos from the camera?

Not that I'm skeptical about the quality of such a small sensor and high pixel count, oh no ;)

BOFH: The paperless cafeteria

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Excellent work Simon!

That's easily the funniest thing I've read all month!

Fifty years later, steam appears on British railway


Re: But did they cook breakfast

I can't say for sure on that run, but there was a program about this loco on BBC Four recently, and in that we saw them make a fryup on the shovel of their shiny new A1.

MEPs warn on 'virtual strip searches'


Re: Health Risks

The millimeter wave system referred to in the article doesn't use x-rays at all. It's entirely passive.

There is a similar body scanning system that does use active x-ray backscatter though, I think that one comes from the US.

Personally I'd be more than happy to be scanned by the millimetre wave system. I don't want to be scanned by the x-ray system though, as I suspect it could well cause skin cancer.

Alien crustaceans clash claws in UK waterways


Why aren't we processing the ballast water?

I know there's a lot of ballast water, and I'm sure not all of it is discharged at the dock; but shouldn't we have a system in place for processing the ballast water to make it safe to discharge?

I'm sure it's a naive idea, but...

Turbo-charged wireless hacks threaten networks


So, you mentioned GSM

> High performance FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips were applied to

> crack standard GSM transmissions in as little as 30 seconds

I wonder how fast the GPU solution would be able to do that?

Anyone tried using a PS3 for either? Strikes me that the Cell might be useful in that arena.

Secret Windows 7 screens leaked?


It's not even beta 1 yet folks

IMO it's far too early to say what it'll look like, or what features it will have. I'd wait until beta 3 for that; FYI we aren't even at beta 1 yet.

GM shows off production electric car


No internal combustion?

I think you'll find there's a li-ion battery pack in there; if that's not internal combustion I don't know what is ;)

Yes, yes, OK.

Apple 4G iPod Nano


Sound quality?

As Paul commented above you appear to have concentrated on the looks of the device; which is something that we can see from the pictures, personally I'd rather you concentrated on the functionality.

What we can't see are important things like, the accuracy of the battery life claims or how the sound quality holds up compared to other models (both Apple and otherwise), or even just how the sound quality stacks up again the quoted figures, or how useable the screen is (viewing angle/brightness etc). Those are the reasons why we need reviews.

Personally I can't see why you didn't ding them for the going with the stupid built-in battery rubbish again either. In a society where many people are trying to reduce their environmental impact the built-in battery is nothing short of scandalous. If I'm going away for a couple of days I can't simply take a second battery with me; instead I need to find power and carry a bulky power supply with me. Don't give me the old Apple spin that "it's impossible to do on something this small"; we know all know that's nothing but spin. An eeePC901 has a removable battery, yet is smaller and lighter than a Macbook Air.

Nice to see they borrowed the shake functionality from Sandisk too ;)

UK launches major road signage review


More new signs?

Oddly the signs I like the least are the ones that arrived most recently; namely those flashing LED signs warning you about something.

Usually these wonders are carefully located 2ft away from the hazard (so it's too late to do anything) and on the opposite side of the road (so that your attention is drawn away from the hazard at a critical moment).

Our local turnips recently planted a flashing speed limit sign of that type right next to a junction outside a school. Result? On two different occasions I nearly rammed other cars that had stopped because I was distracted into looking at the stupid sign, rather than watching the junction I already knew about. Great job at improving road safety there. No really.

Note to government: If you want to waste money, please could you waste it on filling in the quadrillion potholes that seem to have appeared in the roads here over the past few years? When I was a kid the teachers often made fun of the French for their lousy road maintenance; these days it's a great pleasure to drive in France compared to the UK. Heck even most of the roads in Morocco are better than ours now. You know it's time to worry when a developing African nation is doing a better job of road maintenance than we are...

Sapphire 4850 Toxic graphics card


Leo; any idea what's up with the Crysis dual 4580 results?

Assuming the labels are correct, it appears that running a dual 4580 degrades performance in Crysis to far below that of a single card running the same driver version.

Is that correct? If so, any idea why?

Sony PRS-505 Reader e-book


It's a lovely gadget

To the one complaining about the greyness; it's aluminium not plastic, and it feels really nicely put together too. Go and find one, I think you'll like it!

The display is the best part though. I played with one in my local Sony Centre the day before release, and I must say I was very very impressed. I too thought it was a sticker on a non-working model, until the salesman turned the page...

That flash between page turns needs to go though. Does anyone know whether you can overdrive an eInk display to change it faster? I think I'd accept a 50% cut in run time for half the page blank time.

It takes SD cards; and can read standard non-DRM book formats and MP3. I think Sony may finally be listening! Great product!

Pentax K200D digital SLR


@ altis

Actually there are Li-ion batteries that will fit many devices that run on AA's. The rechargeable CR-V3; sometimes known as RCR-V3 is one.

As for the review, whilst a novice might not need all the functions the camera has to offer immediately, it's nice for them to have room to grow. Most dSLR's have a simple mode, where they're just point-and-shoot; so the extra features aren't a drawback if you don't need them.

Sony e-book reader to debut in UK tomorrow

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Saw one on display at local Sony Centre today.

It seemed like a very nice piece of kit. The display is *very* readable, and that doesn't change at extreme angles. It's very paper like. The page itself is cream with a pinkish tinge, with deep charcoal grey text. As you'd expect, absolutely no flicker.

The device also looked very good too. Very nicely put together, nice silver finish, nice leathery cover, solid. Way better than a Kindle in that respect. It also takes SD cards, not just MemoryStink.

About the only fly in the ointment I could see was the way the screen refreshes; changing the page seemed to take a while, I didn't time it felt somewhere in the half a second to a second range. It flicks dark during refresh too, which is a bit disconcerting.

The other major drawback is the price; 199GBP inc. They said it launches tomorrow (Thurs), but I could pre-order today. Model I think was labelled PRS-505

Personally I think if it were £100 they'd be onto a winner. At 200 it's a little too expensive IMO.

Actors paid to queue for Poland's iPhone launch

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Apparently there were long queues outside the Apple stores here in the UK when the iPhone went on sale; yet Carphone Warehouse were selling it and opened at the same time, less than a quarter of a mile away had no customers.

Obviously it was Carphone Warehouse, but still; interesting.

Hasbro kills Colonel Mustard in the corporate office with the marketing ploy


It's just a cynical marketing ploy

They're either going to announce that due to public outcry the plan has been shelved, after they've basked in their free publicity; or they're going to introduce Clue(do) Classic in a few months time, after they've basked in their free publicity.

Prof says fatties a bigger menace than bin Laden


Oh great

My question is, how do you define unhealthy? What food stuffs are currently deemed "safe" by the nutritionists?

You could say that Diet Cola is safer than Cola, as there's none of that nasty fattening sugar in it. However, you in Diet Cola instead of sugar you get those wonderful preservatives (which I'm sensitive to), and a truckload of artificial sweeteners, many of which seem to be of debateable safety.

Personally I'd rather risk a slight increase in tooth decay and weight, both of which are easy and cheap to solve; rather than say brain or stomach cancers, which are far harder to diagnose and both unpleasant and expensive to treat.

Dell offers glimpse of monster quad-core laptop


So, which came first, the Dell or the Lenovo?

Sounds a lot like the recently announced Lenovo W700.

If they really want to beat Lenovo at their own game, all they need to do is make the display a Wacom Cintiq. Hint, hint.

16-card GPU bangs-per-buck mega shoot out


Not bad, but

What I'd like to see are:

* Bang/Watt figures

* Bang/dB figures

The best graphics card in the world is next to useless if it sounds like you're stuck inside a Vulcan's engine whenever you use it, similarly if you need a small nuclear reactor just to feed it there might be better options for the average user ;)

Overall a nice review though; not sure about the 45° part, but the rest of it is useful for a quick summary.

Linux risks netbooks defeat to Microsoft

Dead Vulture

Calling the Moderatrix

I don't suppose I could persuade you to cull those long URL's in the AC post above? They're stretching the page width here to 150% *and* causing all the comments to flow into the blue bar on the right, black on blue is nigh on unreadable ;)

Pretty please? Ta!

Dead birdy cause it's killed your page layout ;)

IBM solves world's 'paper or plastic' crisis


I understand their reasoning!

The reasoning is simple; they don't have any intent to make this, but the research department needs to be seen to be doing *something*.

A PHB would never question whether a patent was going to be approved or was even vaguely useful. They'd just count the numbers of patents applied for.

Reminds me of my time spent in a call centre for a certain fruit vendor. My dear PHB always checked the average duration of calls per day and the number of inbound calls. Funnily enough one of my colleagues aced it, but she never actually took a single support call. She arrived at the office, called her friend for most of the day, then "accepted" but promptly hung up on 45 calls at the end of the day. Only one outbound call, excellent, and 45 calls per day with an average call duration of nigh on 9 minutes. Yup, she was being paid to talk to her friends all day; and was regularly given "top employee" accolade for doing so. I really hate having a work ethic at times...

Hack ushers in the insatiable toll booth



I know everything's always given to the lowest tender (which in turn almost guarantees the end result will suck), but seriously, sending in the clear?!? On a payment system?!? Are they absolutely insane? Someone should have their head stuck on a spike for this one.

> The license plate is then OCR'ed and matched to FasTrak ID

There's just one tiny problem, it's a little thing called licence plate cloning. It's apparently very popular here in the UK at the moment, what with us having speed cameras every two feet.

Home wireless without the power trip


Cables and old fashioned switches please

Funny thing about those old fashioned light switch things, most of them have a lifespan of 25+ years, and require no power or troubleshooting at all.

If you do decide to make life complicated with these things, please at least give us some useful way to debug the stuff.

Does the light not work because, a) the bulb's failed, b) the wireless switch has failed, c) the wireless transmitter has failed, d) the wireless switch is on the wrong channel, e) the wireless switch is suffering interference, or f) because the router's down, g) because your internet connection has failed, h) because you've been hacked, i) because you're using the wrong switch (office vs home light switch), j) your switch is of a different and slightly incompatible design, or k) you need to replace the battery on the transmitter. You could argue that the last one is a subcase of c, but IMO a flat battery is different to a failed device. I'm sure there are countless other potential stumbling blocks I've forgotten.

It's probably going to be simpler to buy a new house with those old fashioned light switches in it, than it would be to troubleshoot just one of these things successfully ;)