* Posts by Steve Farr

27 posts • joined 20 Aug 2008

Google drive cloud to rain on Apple, Dropbox parade

Steve Farr

Uh ok.

Thanks for the info on Safari - i'll mention that next time someone complains they can't access my public links.

As for the pdf printer option i was really meaning printing from Chrome in general not just converting an existing GDoc. But i do take note of the pdf "email as attachment" - i shall investigate further, thanks.

Steve Farr

This is news?

GDrive evolved into GDocs then back into GDrive? Uh?

I don't get it. I've been storing practically everything on this service since the beginning and never needed a Dropbox or iCloud. So why is this suddenly news?

The thing that would make a difference is new and improved ways to manipulate stuff in the cloud. That too has been evolving since the beginning. A Chrome PDF printer which prints directly to the GDocs would be nice, as would improved Gmail integration with all my attachments going direct to GDocs so i never need to download to local storage - unless i really wanted to. Going the other way a sharing option which actually attaches files to email rather than links would be a nice "Burger King" option although i would activily discourage using it.

GDocs is a great service. I have single paid account which i share among friends, family and colleagues who have G accounts. The only gripe i have is that it confuses Mac users who expect to download files directly from links without going to the GDocs page first and their email doesn't support the essential jump to the browser (Apple fanboys usually tell me its because Google is shit rather than bother to understand that the problem lies with Mac mail's inability to work properly with URLs).

I wish there could be some kind of cloud storage standard so no one has to feel locked into their cloud be it GDocs, Skydrive, Dropbox or iCloud. So i should be able to link a file from GDocs in email and send it hotmail and it appear in the recipient Skydrive without ever needing to physically attach the file to the email and have it bounce around the internet in between. Once such a system was established, and email addresses were registered to cloud storage then you could do away with the email bit for simple file sharing.

EC resolves antitrust probe into IBM mainframe biz

Steve Farr

Apple's turn next?

As Woz used to say "Never trust a computer you can't throw out of a window" when talking about IBM.

Steve Jobs famously insisted that the windows on the new HQ at Cupertino do not open to the outside in case people screw them up.

Well i have my own theory about that.

Apple gets patent for ‘unlock gesture’

Steve Farr

Does joining up dots on Android count as a gesture?

If i make a mark across a blank canvas, thats a gesture right?

But if i'm forced to join up a series of dots in a predefined order (like in those kiddy colouring books), how is that a gesture?

The workaround is simple i'm guessing. Just give the dots numbers and get the user to specify the numbers for the pin-lock instead of gesturing them in the first place.

The real shame though, is how Steve Job's legacy will be seen in years to come:

Will he be the great innovator who gave the world lots of new things?

Or in 30 years time, will he be just the guy who founded a company of patent trolls?

Personally i think he'll be remembered as the guy who was right about a lot of things, a hero in our time, but unfortunately he'll also be remembered for one thing he was very wrong about. But isn't that always the way of things?

Father of Lisp and AI John McCarthy has died

Steve Farr


I always wanted one of those on my keyboard.

R.I.P John.

Spotify adds 'temporary' private listening mode after Facebook backlash

Steve Farr

"he tweeted"

David Cameron turns water cannons on social networks

Steve Farr
Big Brother

Hey so that must explain...

...why Facebook have suddenly pulled these two images off my wall:


followed by


and won't let me re-post them.


Atlantis crew prepare for the 'Final Countdown'

Steve Farr

Wait! Did i hear that right?

" He's asked us to start planning a mission to an asteroid."

I take it now the Earth is in grave danger and therefore mission priorities have changed. I guess that means we should all cancel our life insurance and give our money to NASA instead. And if they want volunteers well sign me up - so long as i never have to pay taxes as long as i live, 'coz i'm leaving on a jet plane, don't know when i'll be back again...

O2 won't touch BlackBerry fondleslab for now

Steve Farr

Been there done that...

A year has gone by since O2 big launch of the Dell Streak. You'd think on the back of that experience they'd be well placed to market the Playbook.

Except No.

It's all gone sour since O2 pissed off all their Dell Streak customers by slapping down their 3GB allowances to a measly 500MB while claiming they can all use WiFi while on the move. They have since then issued unlock codes to disgruntled customers to help them go off to other providers.

O2 are currently in the middle of a SMS PR campaign (so it appears) to persuade users to stop using their smart phones, pads and tabs, or kindly go elsewhere. Sending out test messages like this one:-

" We've noticed you're using a lot of data. And it's affecting the service for other customers. Please cut down your use or connect over Wi-Fi. Or we may have to stop your data until your next bill date. For more info on our excessive usage policy, visit http://go.o2url.com/datainfo."

My advice therefore to anyone wanting to use a Playbook, Streak or any other smart device is don't bother with O2 because they don't want you. And they honestly couldn't be clearer about that.

Data General's Tom West dies

Steve Farr

Good job Tom.

I read the book as a teenager and it inspired me to write machine code. I got another copy of the book a year ago and gave it to my son. I still routinely label the communal dev folder as SKUNKWORKS even after all these years, and we're still not done with 32-bit. R.I.P and may there always be a command line.

Much better wireless power transmission possible - boffins

Steve Farr
Black Helicopters


And there's this piece of Tesla technology pumping up 3.6MW in Alaska generated from turbines with nearby surplus natural gas. The thing is this, no one will admit to where it's all going. Theories please!

Engineering student cracks major riddle of the universe

Steve Farr

A very dark matter indeed...

Breaking: Finance undergraduate in Australia discovers £4.4B hole in EU science budget, £500M hole in UK budget. Where did it all go?

Google Docs

Steve Farr

@Al Talor

Interesting you say it's working for you. So you've given me hope!

I've got Dell Streak on 2.2 and Sony X10 Mini Pro on 2.1 and i am struggling to select and copy text. I wrote a script earlier in the day for a staged twitter press release on my PC before leaving the office. I quickly found my tweets document and went into edit mode but every time i tried to select text i could not place the cursor at the beginning or the end. Then when i pressed down to get the context menu to copy the whole selection evaporated. Seriously it was driving me mad!

Could the problem be my fingers? Is it just me?

I don't know but one thing to get across is that Google docs represents a whole different approach to rolling out applications. After all when i install MS Office i expect everything to work and it pretty much does. I expect my PC to work just fine when i hit the keys, click the mouse, etc. Smart phones & tabs are forcing us to change our usability expectations and for an old pair of hands like mine that ain't easy!

I'm sure one day these smart devices will get us back to where we were, but for now, hey!

Steve Farr

Ultimately this isn't even an app!

I see where Google Docs is heading. It's a file system for Chrome OS and Android. Also it looks to me to be more thin-client than app. The functionality being more on the web side of things. As there are indeed other "apps" on the market which synch with Google Docs but otherwise use local storage.

I'm not criticizing the "App of The Week" decision. I'm just sayin.

Steve Farr

Could do Beta

Hardly good enough to be called Beta software but extremely useful nevertheless.

Having access to all my docs on the road is a real boon. I should mention the Microsoft Office add-on i use in conjunction with Google Docs in Chrome on my PC. In effect this is the essential other half of the overall app.

But Google Docs on Android is a long way from self-sufficiency in the editing stakes. Selecting text for copy and paste is still pretty much impossible even on a large screen with Android 2.2 However a large part of the usability is down to Android itself. So i have to look forward to not just the Google Docs market updates but the Android firmware updates also (which may never happen on my current device). Things though are obviously heading in the right direct for tablets and development beyond Android 3.

And not forgetting, you'll need a decent keyboard or at the very least hunt down decent on-screen one on the Android market. You'll must have cursor keys of course.

You can never forget all your docs are in the cloud, so even when you can see your doc in the list, in a poor signal area you'll just get an error when you try and load it. I really hope that Google will collaborate with third parties to allow other apps to access the Google Docs file-system. In that way we could see office apps which allow editing of docs in local storage or SD with synchronising to the cloud just as i do at the moment on my PC. I'm thinking of anticipated release of Softmaker's office for Android.

The day was when office software would not see the light of day unless the user experience was all-around acceptable. Google clearly do things differently and we, the end users, clearly hands on in the development testing!

Hey brave new world.

Virgin Media says sorry over Superhub snafu

Steve Farr

All of the above. Hope Virgin (and BT) are reading this...

Have just suffered a whole week of pain on Virgin XXL 50Mbps + Superhub. This morning, a week long constant disconnection appears to have finally ended. Things were so bad this last week that i had yet again been forced to deploy a 3G modem (just renewed the T-mobile contract on that for another year as a direct consequence of Virgin's failings).

This is not the first time of course - this has been a running debacle with Virgin ever since i got the Superhub at the beginning of the year. A combination of faults not helped by the Superhub's poor routing capability with multiple users on our network. I completely agree with comments here suggesting that Virgin should supply an entirely separate DOCSIS 3 modem for the job. Indeed they once did and i have tried endlessly to persuade Virgin to give me one of the original beasts. But alas Virgin seem unrepentant with their Superhub strategy, although i dare say it cannot be saving them any cost at this stage.

My Superhub firmware now at R26 via automated backdoor software update by Virgin. Strange when you consider that remote admin has been switched off. That worries me because it means that Virgin (or a hacker) can get unauthorized access to my network simply by hacking the router, and there is apparently nothing i can do to stop it. Add that to the list of failings if you will.

R27 now promised in June claims to be able to deploy the Superhub in bridge mode equivalent to a pure DOCSIS 3 modem, at least we are led to believe, allowing us punters to use our own routers again to secure our networks properly and maintain local uptime to even when the broadband is down for maintenance.

It remains to be seen whether R26 allows improved connectivity for multiple users. It is certainly true, even when plugged into gigabit switch, that users still get considerably less than 50Mbps download speeds and upload speeds are still pretty dreadful. But i reiterate, for any Virgin techs reading this, give me a seperate modem and that's not Virgin's problem anymore.

Finally lets not forget that BT must be looking closely at Virgin's experience, because word has it they are sticking with separate modems for their 40Mbps (with 10Mbps upload) Infinity service which is rolling out hot on the heels of disgruntled Virgin customers.

Praying for meltdown: The media and the nukes

Steve Farr

You decide!

@Vladimir Plouzhnikov

Short answer: I don't know.

All i do know, is this stuff correlates and it's there for all to see.

It's weird i know, because its Tokyo Universities magnetometer kit putting plots up on apparently a research site run by BAE (as far as i can tell) on behalf of the US military. Doesn't come weirder than that.

You figure it out. Definitely gotta hook some conspiracy theories this one. On the other hand predicting earthquakes is one hell of a card trick - if thats what it's doing. But i keep thinking, could this data be used to at least save tens of thousands of lives?

I mean even if there was a slightest chance here, why do people scoff just cos it's HAARP? I guess people only ever believe what they want to believe and work backwards from there. The point this article makes, it's how the whole media works.

As far as i'm concerned the evidence here is compelling enough to make any reasonable person, or journalist, want to go check the evidence themselves.

Steve Farr

Try looking at the damned data. No you're not!

@Steve X

I take it you didn't check then. What are you, astroturfing for the feds now? Sorry.

It's not like i'm trying to get you to believe in Super Man or Tooth Fairy. Just look at the data! Check Jap 2.5Hz, Christchurch 1.8Hz (September coz March was aftershock), Chili 2.8Hz , its all there the on the mark in the days/hours BEFORE. Don't check the noise and assume there is nothing to see, honestly, i may be no expert, but i'm not bl**dy stupid!

>*weren't* earthquakes

If ur talking broadly seismic activity thats pretty much like never. But i'm not comparing to just the noise on the graph.

Honestly i could spell it all out you in detail. But what would be the point, it would be just my word against the fearful majority. Thats why i'm saying go check the data properly yourself.

Steve Farr

Explain this away....

Check out 2.5Hz ELF starting 0530 March 8th continuing through to the 11th.




Well in advance of the big one says a credible Magnetometer source, courtesy of Tokyo University...

Any takers? Check the dates for other major earthquakes and you get a similar pattern. Some of these quakes can be predicted days in advance. AND there is correlation with the frequencies 1.8, 2.5, 2.8Hz, and roughly the region the quakes occur in. Quite frankly i'm bored with people telling me you can't predict earthquakes. And i'm getting just a little worn down by media-scientist types who refuse to look at any evidence outside of their comfort boundaries.

Despite the failure of Parkfield experiment governments still seem hell bent on statistical analyzing of actual seismic events. This is not a poker game or lottery where you can predict the numbers from the results. Scientific advance happens when scientists think out of the box. I'm no expert, but i reckon some of these guys need a holiday from day job.

Steve Farr

Dear TheRegister,

Re media bang wagon, etc., etc. The old saying goes "if you can't beat them join them". Democracy is a funny thing especially when it becomes the enemy of truth and reality. But anyway, i say more power to your elbow and may the earth never be flat.

Now, about those other, you know, "conspiracy theories". Eg., Japanese human nuclear-lab-rats first to get ground breaking stem-cell treatment; And, Tokyo University knew about scale 9 quake 48 hours beforehand. All these things are true, but exactly where DO you draw the line in reporting it all?

I find these comment forums curious. Just what are people prepared to believe, and why? Maybe we should all go an examine ourselves a bit here. Is it really all about the moral high ground of truth vs fear? The right of free speech vs. obsession? What's the deal here?

How far can you go? I mean if i just mention "HAARP" for a moment. I mean there is plenty of evidence to suggest ELF waves produce earthquakes. Astonishingly, i can't find any evidence to say that they can't. So what's to do? Where do you draw the line? At what point does anyone decide they can't deal with being branded a conspiracy-loon and stop bothering to look for hard evidence? Or is it a case of "HAARP is for loons" just work backwards from that. Is that any different to "Nuclear is evil" just work back from that? So just what are we doing?

Conspiracy sites seem to have all the fun. You know, being right out there on the edge of reason, unafraid of even their own ignorance, let alone "The Feds" or whoever, whatever. Another thing which marks out these sites is the constant repetition of everything. Never letting go of the beloved axe to grind. I find this recent train of counter-intuitive pro-nuclear (apparently to some) stuff coming out of The Register quite curious also.

Just sayin.

Fukushima scaremongers becoming increasingly desperate

Steve Farr
Black Helicopters

Conspiracy! Oh ha ha. Really?

Ok so while we're all gawping at impending nuclear doom, hey people there was an ***EARTHQUAKE*** going on with continuing significant seismic activity going on all around. You know, like killed 22,000 significant? Oh yeah right that one.

Now i'm just gonna say this once but...


....no don't go away, i'm being serious here! Stop! Wait a minute!!!

Look a the facts (ignore Youtube conspiracy theorists for the moment). What happened?

1) Check the magnetometers. Tokyo Uni have a nice one actually showing data on HAARP's site. What did it show? Around 2.5Hz, some very loud and very unusual activity kicking in at around 0530 on the 8th March all the way through to the 11th March. Doesn't look natural on my graph, no not at all. Talking sub-ELF here.

2) Check the POES auroral activity northern hemisphere plots. What did they show? The auroral horse shoe shape is significant because it tracks the noon meridian. Not only was the ionosphere heated up significantly but it was skewed between two points: The sun's position and HAARP. So that makes for significantly powerful effect right? How powerful?...

‎"The HAARP antenna array consists of 180 antennas on a total land area of about 35 acres. The array, along with its integrated transmitters, has a total radiated power capability of about 3,600 kilowatts."

You getting this? BTW i don't do conspiracy theories i just do facts. But you gotta admit its very difficult to get people to take notice when there is all this nuclear fear going on in the media.

Fukushima's toxic legacy: Ignorance and fear

Steve Farr
Black Helicopters

Yeah about that Bootnote...

Re the quake (you remember *the quake* don't you?) somebody explain the ELF that was going on at HAARP back then...


...good luck with that.

Virgin Media to issue firmware update after Superhub slows to crawl

Steve Farr

Me too!

All of the above.

It's been a couple of months of hell and lost productivity for us. Finally went for the the "thinking of leaving Virgin" option after dialling 150. The guy on the other end of the admitted the firmware issue and agreed to send out an Ambit 300 (DOCSIS 3) modem so i could use a proper router.

Yesterday an Ambit 256 (DOCSIS 1/2) modem arrived which is realistically only capable of around 20Mbps. I'm on the XXL package which is meant to be 50Mbps.

At the end of the month we have the option of switching to BT Infinity, a 40Mbps service with an upstream limit which, i am told, is more generous than Virgins. Crucially BT (who i assume are following the Virgin debacle with great interest) will be supplying customers with separate modems giving customers the choice of a free router or using their own - especially important when running a small business LAN off a decent gateway configuration.

For now i've stopped updating the Virgin Forums on the issue because the responses i get don't really go anywhere. At best i get sent around the same old loop by staff who are trying to be helpful but alas don't really have a solution.

Methinks it's time for managers further up the chain at Virgin to be more honest with their customers. Me, honestly, i am not one for slagging off companies (unless you count one or two frustrated rants on social networking sites), especially ones with sincere goals, but i think Sir Richard needs to take some responsibility here in light of his recent campaigning on broadband speeds.

Becta green lights open source software in schools, at last

Steve Farr

Insane nonsense

So congrats, your local secondary school signed up for its Open Source Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

What happened next...

Curriculum upgraded starting with year 7 students. Every child to get a brand new laptop to use in class and take home every night to do homework via the VLE. Subsidy allows £250 per laptop but schools opts to go with Becta approved leasing company. Result: parents expected to pay £13 per month over three years on top of the subsidy. Using existing laptops is not an option under the deal.

New laptop computers packed with all the latest software. Who said Becta doesn't like Vista and Office 2007?

Result: Open Source = great news for Microsoft.

In case you think I've just made that up, as a parent I've got until Friday to sign up to the Laptop Leasing Scheme or else be worried that my son is not "digitally included". Oh and by the way, my son has no broadband at home - one of the pitfalls of living in, and supporting the local economy of, a rural area.

Netbooks and Mini-Laptops

Steve Farr

Tester for education.

I got a couple of Elonex ONE t+ delivered today.

Would have been good except WiFi doesn't work on either unit, even after doing a standard software update from Elonex. The problem is all software though, and i managed to find a fix on Maplin's web site intended for their own branded version. WiFi is working now but DHCP does not retrieve IPs, so for now i'm using fixed IPs. WiFi performance is very poor causing web browsing to be slow, whereas if you connect over ethernet it is very quick.

So sticking with the ethernet connection, i quickly loaded up the video download helper add-on in the Firefox browser and was able to retrieve a video from Youtube and play it in the media player. A bit shaky but ok, actually not bad considering the machine spec.

The machine has full email and IM capability and it is likely you could hold a lot of personal information. Which could be a problem because...

...the system has no password. Ouch!

So i'll be sticking with web-mail etc., and discouraging personal use - a real shame that.

The system is aimed at children and even comes with an optional "fluffy bunny" display theme (i kid you not, all the icons feature bunnies). There is a Flash player so could run much existing (mainly primary school level) educational software. I'll be trying out a few in the next few days. I'll also be loading up some existing school work in the re-branded Abiword and Gnumeric reckoned to be Word and Excel compatible.

There are rumours about a new OS release. Still, Elonex better sort out the lack of security, otherwise they can forget about their whole education pitch. I'll be on the phone to them tomorrow to see if the problems deserve getting my money back, or whether they intend to fix the software any time soon.

That said, this machine has real potential. I had no problems with memory sticks, although there is no hot-swap it doesn't take long to reboot, so ok. The connectivity software is saying i can connect to GPRS, so tomorrow i'll have a go with a Nokia N95 and a Blackberry. If that works (and Elonex fix security, nag, nag, nag) then i can see phone shops giving these away with phone upgrades in the very near future.

Finally lets not forget its Linux and very hackable - so yes the "community" could well end fixing the software 'cos lets face it, brand new at £130, its a bargain. I love the way everything is solid-state just like a pocket calculator (and actually not much bigger).

9/10 but needs 10/10 to make it happen.

Watchdog hits 070 swindlers with big fine

Steve Farr
Dead Vulture

More OFCOM stupidity

So why was 070 even allowed to be charged at 50p/min in the first place?

When numbers like 07010 were first introduced back in the nineties callers were being charged between 5p and 10p per minute. The 070 facilitated a very reasonably priced and valuable "follow me" service. It meant you could frequently change your phone operator and keep your number. It was a simple and cheap solution to a big problem.

Now legitimate 070 users are likely to be forced to change to a new number range. But will OFCOM give us a pricing guarantee, or simply allow the Telcos to ramp up the charges like before?

Many 07010 users have already switched to 0871 to give their customers a better deal when calling them, only to find that a month down the line the Mobile Telcos have started ramping 0871 charges up too.

How typical of OFCOM to find an excuse, blaming scammers to divert attention from this government washing their hands over important consumer issues. OFCOM effectively masterminded the scam in the first place when they allowed the Telcos to charge 50p/min. Astonishing!

In the present economic climate OFCOM need to respect the consumer money supply and get tuff over call charges. All number prefixes should be given a price ceiling while allowing Telcos to compete to make calls cheaper. I cannot see any reason for ramping up call charges above the rate of inflation. Not ever.


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