* Posts by Alex C

151 publicly visible posts • joined 24 Sep 2008


Latitude 9510 lappy has a speakerphone so you can tell the conference call all about your 30-hour battery

Alex C

30 hour battery

It does mean you can take it home for the weekend without having to lug about a charger though. It actually does a lot to make it more portable. As the buyer of PCs at my company I have to buy two chargers everytime anyone wants a laptop so they can leave one at home and one in the office. In a few years when these are sensibly priced I'll likely end up buying some (or their future equivalents).

BOFH: Oh dear. Did someone get lost on the Audit Trail?

Alex C

There's a lovely, if similar joke, set for no particular reason in a small county in Texas where the local hobby is drink driving.

A cop pulls up one Friday evening outside a bar notorious for it's drink drivers, and spies someone absolutely plastered stumbling aroung the parking lot. This is the one, thinks he, and lies in wait for the chap to drive onto the public road. Eventually the drunk finds his car and spends a good 5 minutes trying to get his key in the door. A few others start to leave but the cop sticks with his man, now curious as to the level of blood alchol that must be in him. He eventually gets into his car and there's another few minutes trying to get the key into the ignition. Others leave the bar, and the cop is about to go after one or two of them, when the lights come on full beam in the drunks car, the wipers go on full pelt and there's a beeeep as he nods onto the steering wheel. With the lot almost empty the drunk drives very slowly out onto the main road and the cop immediately pulls him over as the last few patrons leave the bar.

The cop asks for drivers licence and insurance which are forthcoming instantly. The drunk is very pleasant and doesn't seem in the least inebriated. He is asked to perform the ritual tests, which are all done flawlessly, and breathes into a breathalyser. Zero alcohol in him.

'But!' exclaims the cop, 'The stumbling about, the lights and the beeping, the slow driving! How on earth are you sober?'

'Ah' responds the driver, 'I'm the designated decoy'.

Ex-NASA bod on Gwyneth Paltrow site's 'healing' stickers: 'Wow. What a load of BS'

Alex C

Re: There's nothing wrong with wearable stickers

And a very brave dentist he is too :-)

WileyFox Swift 2: A new champ of the 'for around £150' market

Alex C

Re: Not really that Wiley...

What Ritch_b said really.

I really tried to like the WileFoxSwift 1 but it really was beset with problems - random crashing and bizarre battery life (would go from 30% to nothing quite frequently).

Happily Amazon were very good about taking it back.

I bought mine after glowing el Reg review too and would be rather more sceptical this time.

A pity really as it's a wonderful idea in theory.

Alex C

Re: Or if you don't want a fingerprint scanner.

My colleague at work has one and is delighted with it. It's lighter than my S7 too.

Windows 10: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE to Microsoft's long apology for Windows 8

Alex C

Backwards compatibility?

Any word on how far backwards Win 10 is willing to go?

Wizardry 8 is now pretty venerable but worth firing up from time to time, as is HOMM3 and a few others...

Galaxy S5 launch parties to fizzle in Samsung's back yard

Alex C

Astonishingly small fanfare

for an astonishingly small improvement. Compared the specs vs my 54 and it's a huge Meh.

Cold, dead hands of Steve Jobs slip from iPhones: The Cult of Ive is upon us

Alex C
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Not an iPhone user but

I find this a very positive move from them - I hope it leads to lots of new innovations rather than just being a facelift. Apple really wowed the world when the iPhone first came out and all the way up to the 3gs or perhaps 4 depending on your outlook.

Jonny Ive has shown his talents time and again and I really hope this sparks a new era for them. Who knows - if it's good enough (and doesn't require sodding iTunes) I and countless iApostates may come back.

Author Iain (M) Banks falls to cancer at 59

Alex C

Very Sad

I'll miss him hugely- space Opera on a grand scale. Funny, clever and mind expanding, I loved his SF work primarily - and really enjoyed what I've read of his no SF work. Terrific handling of such a huge variety of vast concepts, I reckon the Player of Games remains my favourite, but so many others are up there.

Leaked docs show NSA collects data on all Verizon customers

Alex C

Re: Nothing new

I have a bit of experience in the UK of this, and for what it's worth here's what I've seen over the last few years.

I work as head of Customer Services for a small telecoms company, and we get 4 or 5 of these requests under RIPA a month. All requests come from recognised email addresses - the majority of which are within the GSI or PNN networks, which I'm confident are secure. (If I'm ever not confident of the origin, I check out the actual office on line and ask their switch board to put me through to the relevant person.) I've only he one instance of someone not from a relevant body trying to request information under RIPA, at least that I've discovered, but I'm pretty confident about that.

In most cases the numbers requested aren't live and never have been and are either typos or lies. I think the majority of these requests are police checking witness statements and alibis or following up other evidence. The information that's requested are in virtually all cases subscriber details - i.e. who is responsible for the number that was dialled, as opposed to specific call details (can't remember the last one of those) or asking to listen to call recordings ( I've never been asked for that).

The upshot is that while RIPA may give the police and Govt. offices a lot of power, in reality they don't use it. Or at least they don't with me. We're even allowed to charge for our time in responding to requests - though don't as they're not a great burden on us.

Sorry not to point to black helicopters, but I've been doing this for at least 5 years and have never seen it abused by the authorities.

Doctor Who? 12th incarnation sought after Matt Smith quits

Alex C

Re: Georgia Moffett

Yep - more of her please - she had great potential. I rather wished they'd built her up a bit more so they could hand the keys to the Tardis over to her when the Doctor finally had it 12 regenerations, though part of the depth of him has always been his great age and tortured past so she'd need something to give her gravitas - could be a fun reboot though.

Galaxy S4 radiant, but has black holes

Alex C

Re: why ?

I rather agree it's a shame about the Oct core version not being available in the UK and other territories. The premise of a low power chip performing the humble tasks, that kicks in the hight power chip as necessary, seems a sensible and battery saving measure ( though I don't really see why the low power chip required 4 cores).

My understanding is the the Octa chip isn't in various territories because they couldn't make it work with 4G (which is present or rolling out in those territories). Can't think why given they'd have designed the chip in full knowledge of the time-scales and technical challenges of 4G, but there you go.

Apparently 70% of UK chips will be snapdragon and the rest Octa so it may be that they sell those via networks that won't make use of 4g for the next couple of years. Apologies if any of the info in this is inaccurate - it's just what I gathered after researching the same question when they did the NY launch.

Scottish SF master Iain M Banks reveals he has less than a year to live

Alex C

Very sad news - a great author and a thoroughly decent chap by all accounts.

May his passing be as painless as possible.

Furious Stephen Fry blasts 'evil' Reg and 'TW*T' Orlowski

Alex C



The only think wrong with being stuck in a lift with Cowell is that it would be so easy to work out who'd done those things to him. Having said which after his crimes against music there isn't a court in the land that'd convict...

Higgs data shows alternate reality will SWALLOW UNIVERSE

Alex C
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Re: The laws of physics will be different in the encroaching bubble.

One school of thought says that this happened on 21st Dec last year, and that nobody has noticed. Yet.

I'm quite looking forward to the game...


Are your landlines buried in the stone age?

Alex C

The reason that VoIP hasn't been widely take up as you might expect

Leased lines aren't sufficiently cheaper than telephone calls..

What we found when this kicked off 5 years ago was that FD's would get very excited about saving a lot of their phone bill and move to IP. But then they'd see the cost for fully fledged DSL lines and balk buying instead crumby contention laden ADSL which had a great download but barely any upload capability. Their agents would then proceed to have a lot of sub-quality conversations with customers who didn't feel they were talking to a proper business, and wouldn't buy from them.

They all moved back again within the year and while some aspects of IP telephony are more prevalent (PBX to desk it's now very common), the cost of leased lines mean that very few customers have bee interested in taking that option up.

I'm talking from a very neutral perspective, as a network level telco who doesn't have financial incentive either way. What we've seen is that the customers don't feel that they get sufficient value from IP telephony (outside the building) to justify keeping it. and have in virtually all cases moved back to PSTN.

Morgan Stanley cops $5m fine over Facebook IPOcalypse

Alex C

Good word

IPOcalypse - Nice work :-)

Though if if you say it without the capitalisation it does sound rather like what will happen when all the iDevices eventually gang-up on us and take over the world...

Japan firm offers mums-to-be 3D printed unborn infants

Alex C

Re: This is actually pretty cool

It wouldn't surprise me - though I doubt they were expecting that level of magnet :-)

There was a local bank near the Royal Brompton Heart and Lung hospital, that all of the NMR researchers used as it was very relaxed about letting them have new bank cards every so often. You only had to go near the machine with a wallet to wipe all the cards in it.. I think with chip and pin it might have less effect but then the machines were a pretty thorough way of ruining your night out.

The other thing you could do on one machine that opened at both ends was to throw in a ferrous pen and watch as it flew in and out of the tube only to eventually hover in the middle. Good times...

Alex C
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This is actually pretty cool

Though I can't imagine my pregnant missus putting up with an hour of a 1.5 teslar magnet turning over every few seconds. Or for that matter going for an hour without needing to pee. If they offered it here for the same price I'd go for it though.

Back in the beginning of MRI in the UK(or NMR as it was called back then) I managed to contribute to the science in a way no-one really expected from the work experience lad. I'd got good and properly drunk the night before and when they offered to scan me (given the noise not a great idea for a person so hungover they could barely see) I went into the machine to the tones of Handel's requiem and much laughter on their part. I managed to sleep almost immediately and stayed stone still in the same place for the next 12 hours sleeping it off. Turns out they use body fat (of which I am amply supplied) to focus the machine (a process called shimming) and they spent that time refining the shimming programs and brought them forward by around 6-12 months, they were eager to explain as they tried to get me drunk afterwards...

RETURN of the PLAYMONAUT: El Reg's space hero suits up again

Alex C
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Re: Perhaps...

Ba- Dum Tsch!

Have an upvote.:-)

‘Anonymous’ takes down Texan RFID-tracking school

Alex C

Re: Yawn

Mostly because they only took down the website.

A hacking group with (on occasion) some decent credentials, take on a challenge worth the effort and they do what? Take down the website and write a nasty message on it? So what - If they had any gumption at all they'd have taken down the RFID system instead.

Anonymous - you claim some prowess - flex that muscle rather than this shambles of a protest - sorry but taking down a website isn't impressive unless it's the website of an ISP or similarly tech-savvy outfit.

Galapagos tortoise 'Lonesome George' might NOT be last of his kind

Alex C

Re: Nummy

I'm not certain that the age didn't know a thing or two about food - it was the age of empire, and France and England were both well regarded (though naturally France was the leader) for the quality of their food. Apparently George III's reign was about as good as we got for food. They were certainly still in abundance when Darwin was there.

Here's what QI had to say about these delicious giants of their race:

They were first discovered by explorers and sailors in the 16th century. Immediately, people began raving about their unbelievable deliciousness, comparing them variously to chicken, beef, mutton and butter - but only to say how much better tortoise meat was than the very best of the aforementioned. One giant tortoise would feed several men, and both its meat and its fat were perfectly digestible, no matter how much of it you ate.

Oil made from tortoise fat was efficacious against colds, cramps, indigestion and all manner of “distempers.” (It tasted good, too.) The liver was a peerless feast on its own, and the bones were rich with gorgeous marrow. Then there were the eggs - inevitably, they too were the best eggs anyone had ever eaten. Some sailors were reluctant to try tortoise meat because the animal was so amazingly ugly - but one taste, and they were soon converted.

Alex C


The point we're missing here - despite the clearly edifying debate on classification - is that these beasties aren't extinct and are clearly able to breed. Also we learn from QI as well as the circumstantial evidence of their near rapid extinction that they were utterly delicious.

Is it too soon to hope that we might one day have generated sufficient stock to hope for a bite?

Sadly so - but perhaps this is something we can achieve for future generations.

Omnishambles beats off mummy-porn, becomes English word of 2012

Alex C

The Bugle Podcast has come up with some pretty special ones this year

Fuckeulogy is my favourite by far-

Definition from the Urban Dictionary:

A derogatory oration or writing, especially in dishonor of one deceased.

"This is not so much a tribute episode to bin Laden as a special fuckeulogy to the big man."

- John Oliver, The Bugle, Episode 152.

British judge: Say you're sorry Apple... this time like you MEAN it

Alex C

Would have love to have been able to make that statement

Though I'd have altered it somewhat:

"I suggest that if you're having difficulty posting a notice within 24 hours, that you draw on the expertise of your army of 'geniuses'. If their collective power is insufficient to answer it in that time frame I suggest we meet up here again next week under the auspices of the trade descriptions act. Also if you're unable to draft a response in that timeframe I'll be happy to create it for you."

Petition for Alan Turing on £10 note breaks 20,000 signatures

Alex C

+1 for Brunel

Apparently he was on the £2 coin for a bit

Publishing giants borg into Random Penguin ... But can it see off Amazon?

Alex C
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+1 for Random Penguin

Such a pleasing name :-)

iPad Mini vs Nexus 7: inch makes all the difference, says Apple CEO

Alex C


"I suppose you could design a car that flies and floats"

Honestly - either would be fine. If that's in their grasp why on earth are they mucking around with phones?

It's well into the 21st Century - I want my flying and / or floating car dammit.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review

Alex C
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Re: Build quality

I have to say the build quality of GS2 astonished me - mine recently got hurled down 20 foot of stone steps. It acquired some mild bruising around the edges and a small very scratch on the screen. It hadn't even powered off.

Also after 17 months of battery swapping every day the flimsy looking back panel is still going strong. It might be light and thin but if it's anything to go by Samsung products are tough.

Ten external battery packs

Alex C
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Re: Replaceable batteries

Personally I have a wall charger and a couple of spare batteries. I let the phone run nearly out of juice and swap the batteries when it does, knowing that there's always a spare in my rucksack / pocket / whatever.

It takes a little under 30s once a day on average. The beauty is that my phone never needs to be tethered to the wall itself (only the batteries need to be charged) which I find a big improvement on having my phone no more than 1.x metres from the wall for several hours a day.

Only £16 for two spare batteries and the wall charger. I've been doing this on a GS2 for 17 months now without issues (that flimsy looking back plate is fine after all).

On a side note - those GS2s are a lot tougher than they look. Mine was hurled down 20ft of stone steps a couple of weeks ago, and came away with mild bruising along the edges and a small scratch on the screen. It hadn't even powered off.

I know the power devices here are very clever but they don't charge the phone instantly. I still have to have the thing attached to the phone in my pocket for several hours. Even though having one device to power any phone / electric item I want sounds great, I spent several hundred pounds on my phone. I don't mind chucking another few quid at the convenience of spare batteries.

Everything Everywhere's 4G: Why I'm sitting this one out

Alex C

Re: It'd be nice if 2.5g and 3g worked reliably

I'm with you there and (while not taking the quite same train) I notice the same phenomenon - mostly between Barnes and Chiswick. I have to say it improved greatly when I moved away from Vodafone to Giffgaff but there are still patches of mobile blackspot there too.

South Korea probes 'mobe patent bully-boy' Samsung

Alex C

Samsung not Sammy

Please Brid-Aine Parnell, pretty please, stop using 'Sammy' instead of Samsung.

I've no idea why but it's really grating.

Thanks ever so much.

Bruce Willis didn't Buy Hard: His girls can't inherit his iTunes

Alex C

piracy killing music...

I saw a great t-shirt the other day.

It said "Piracy isn't killing music. Simon Cowell is."

Curiosity rover hijacked by will.i.am to debut science song

Alex C

Re: Black Out WillIAm

As far as I was aware black out has no racist connotations - it was used during the war to hight light from invading pilots, or by smugglers in yesteryear to avoid detection by coastguards.

As for Will.i.am - I'm not really a fan but I don't see how it does any harm. He is, at least, pretty inoffensive.

Raspberry Pi to skipper microship across Atlantic

Alex C

wonderful idea (though sadly doomed)

I've sailed across the Atlantic a couple of times, and reckon that if their programming were sufficient and they were very lucky the trade winds would do the vast majority of the work, if their setting off point was one of the canary islands. That way all the motor needs to do is to try to correct their course rather than bother making way.

The downside as I see it from the design is that the boat would spend most of it's time on it's side or upside down as the Atlantic rollers did their best to destroy the Tupperware. Thus it's little motor would do most of it's spinning when it had no resistance (was out of the water) and it's PV battery would spend not very long getting light to power the motor. I'd suggest more of a tube design surrounded by PV with 3 rotors that only operated when they were at the lowest point (mercury switch or gyro) so as not to waste power, and you'd need a rudder behind each one to give it something to steer with. The tube would also be a stronger design and should be easier to seal to prevent the water and salt getting in (as it inevitably will on boats).

Sadly this design is going to be smashed apart and sunk very quickly. Those rolling waves are generally 20' from tip to trough in the sorts of force 4-5 you usually see in the mid Atlantic. Also if they tried to set either design off from Blighty (or anywhere in mainland Europe for that matter) it wouldn't have the power to get past the tides let alone make any reasonable headway. The propulsive force here has to be the trade winds.

Samsung frees fanboys from iPhone with freeware

Alex C

As a samsung user

I'd suggest they get Keis working first.

I've no complaints about their strategy here - but their track record in this area is pretty woeful, and they're likely to do themselves more harm than good.

Council chief overrules blackout on Scots 9-yr-old's school lunch blog!

Alex C

Re: Math issues also

Giving the author the benefit of the doubt, we all know that 2+2=5 for large values of 2 (e.g.2.3) and 2+2 = 3 of r small values of 2 (eg.g 1.7). Probably a rounding error in there that' wasn't worth the explanation.

Happily the total earlier was £48k+, so I have no doubt they'll eventually raise enough for 7 kitchens. Good luck to them and if Argyll and Bude want more efficiently priced meals perhaps dedicate some of the school week to horticulture. Every kid should leave school with some practical experience of raising veg.

Ten... Father's Day gifts

Alex C

Re: Ouch these gifts are pricey

Well - maybe for a recently disgorged vintage Krug...

Bless him - he's not getting that.

Alex C

Ouch these gifts are pricey

My Dad's getting a bottle of Champagne and a card and he'll be pleased to get them.

What the hell was the author thinking? Most of these are £200+

Journalism clearly pays a lot better than IT. You lot can get the drinks in next time.

Samsung Galaxy S Advance mid-range Android

Alex C

Re: Again, a step behind the times and boring

On the subject of Android and older OSes, I remember from my fruit loving days that I'd keep my OS up do date and my wife would neglect hers. By the time the contracts came up for renewal her iPhone was several iterations behind mine in OS but generally felt a lot less clunky to use. I think it behoves a hardware manufacturer to nudge it's users (particularly when they are tied into the brand with apps, contact data etc) towards new hardware every so often, as the iPhone 3G empirically proved (granted with a very small test group).

In this case though there's no excuse not to be using ICS - can't fathom why they didn't do it.

Alex C
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Its £337 at Amazon these days. Surely the massive spec improvement means that at only £70 more than this it's still preferable to go for the older brother?

IIRC you gave that 85% as well, which makes it even harder to justify this review. It's a little smaller, it's heavier, it has a worse screen, worse CPU, it has less RAM, it has less storage space, it has a now pretty old version of the OS which suggests it won't be particularly well supported.

Sure it's mid-priced - but it's about a year too late to justify the difference.

I do like that they're playing with not just making bigger and bigger phones every time though.

Euro 2012: England is semi-final probability

Alex C

Based on the World cup

We'll bully some minnows early on and get ahead of ourselves, and then as soon as we come across quality in a knockout phase we'll fold like the prima donnas we inevitably show ourselves to be.

Every time I try to give an ounce of care about football (i.e. internationally) we stuff it up.

I shall be watching the cricket - if it isn't raining...

HDD oligopoly to keep post-flood prices high till 2014

Alex C

Oligopoly is a great word

But isn't cartel the correct one?

Special Projects Burro pops his hooves

Alex C

Sorry for your loss

I do have another theory though.

I've always thought that the Playmonaut had a nasty glint to his eye. Can we rule out ritual sacrifice to aid his upcoming mission? He's touched space and that changes a person, not always for the better.

Hands on with the Samsung Galaxy S III

Alex C

As a happy S2 owner

I'll stick with what I've got for a bit.

I am curious to know if they're improved the wifi reception on this model, though, and whether the new Vlingo app will be something that one can properly turn off if required. Worst this about the S2 is the Vlingo app.

Samsung shows 'designed for humans' handset

Alex C

Interestingly it's still cheaper to be off contract

Even at £500 (which'll be more like £400 in a few months) + 24 lots of a tenner on giffgaff (or other similar sim -only deal) it doesn't justify the 24 month lock in. Check how many minutes you *actually* use before doing the calculation. I'd be well over £100 better off by paying up front on this deal.

Wasteland sequel given $3m green light

Alex C

Happy to have donated

Excellent project, and not yet another first person shooter which seems to be all the published games industry is willing to churn out.

Really hoping they make something great. :-)

NHS trust loses personal data of 600 maternity patients, kids

Alex C

when I were a lad and all this was fields

Nobody would have cared.

Honestly I know they're not supposed to lose these records, but the vast majority I hope will be handed in to hospital / police as appropriate or has in fact not really been lost but fallen down the back of the sofa, under the driver's seat etc only to be found later and quietly handed in.

The only time there's a problem is if someone decides to use this for nefarious purpose, and I agree that the details here probably suffice to take out credit / passports in the baby's name or what-have-you.

I wonder how often credit fraud happens as a ratio of the seemingly endless number of procedure failures? I hope that most of us still know right from wrong in any case

Revealed: Google's SECRET London office

Alex C
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Nice work chaps :-)

So, what IS the worst film ever made?

Alex C

The Adventures of Pluto Nash


The Mummy 3 - Tomb of the dragon wossname

not mentioned cos the bad reviews mean I never saw them -

Tom Cruise, War the Worlds

Battlefield Earth

quite a lot of the works of M Night Shalyman

Most Adam Sandler Flicks