* Posts by Simon Oxlade

19 publicly visible posts • joined 1 May 2007

Hawkeye technology turns tennis into a cartoon

Simon Oxlade

Hawkeye adds to Tennis

I thought the Tennis coverage was excellent this year - Hawkeye, as it has been accepted into the rules of the game, is an excellent tool and can make a direct influence on the game.

The slo-mo TV replays were only for the TV viewers and couldn't actually change the game. It adds another element to the sport - does the player challenge that one, or let the game slide?

Murray used up his challenges on calls that Hawkeye confirmed to be correct, only to lose two points later on through line calls that were (thanks to Hawkeye for the TV viewers) wrong, but he'd shot his bolt.

Microsoft pledges to fight Vista 'myths'

Simon Oxlade

Vista has better audio - err... no

Are they really trying to say that Vista has better audio capabilities than XP?

Perhaps this is because Microsoft have finally licensed Dolby Digital for the OS.

Thing is - that's all it can do. You may have Cyberlink PowerDVD BD edition and a shiny Blu-Ray player, but the audio you're getting at your speakers is Dolby Digital - even if the disc audio is Dolby Digital Plus 7.1.

The internal pathways on the PC (either the internal bus or software paths through Windows - I left before I discovered which) are unable to pass a wider audio bitstream than Dolby Digital - something my Windows 98 PC was able to do via its Creative DVD drive, hardware decoder card and Live1080 card was able to do.

What currently happens is that the DVD playback sw decodes the 7.1 source audio then downconverts that to Dolby Digital and sends it to the soundcard for digital connection to your amplifier. The Amplifier (if its 7.1 compatible) sees the incoming stream as Dolby Digital and then upconverts the 5.1 to 7.1 and plays it out. This works really quite well, but it isn't true 7.1 channel descreet audio, and is no better than machines ten years ago were capable of. Nor is it any better than a £300 Tesco's special running XP.

I have no idea how the PC handles DTS' 7.1 audio streams, but would imagine it is dealt with the same way.

AFAIK the only way to get more than 5.1 channels of audio out of your PC is to use a direct audio connection from the BD drive to a suitably equipped soundcard - just like in the early days of CD-equipped PCs.

I'm not sure if this 'feature' has been fixed in SP1 as I don't have Vista (i stuck with XP), but my understanding is that it is a fundamental issue that is not easily fixed...

Phones 4u accused of misleading customers

Simon Oxlade

Better than Caprhone Warehouse

They're not as bad as CPW. Just bought a new phone from those scumbags - everything fine until I insert the SIM (thus breaking the seal that says "If you break this seal you cannot return the phone" - nice!).

Cue phone calls from CPW checking that I'm alright ("Fine thanks, please cancel your insurance.") followed by four phone calls inside a hour ("Why don't you want our insurance?" "I just don't, please go away" "Why not try it for the 'free' first month?" "Are you serious??")

Then I discover that they'd also signed by up to some 'helpline' at £2.99 per month which is actually pretty tricky to cancel (hidden online cancellation button).

The whole process is so underhand and sneaky I'd never use them again...

Phones 4 U gave you the hard sell, but I found them to be pretty solid at explaining everything and also didn't sign you up to stuff you didn't want...

Blu-ray Xbox 360 to be sold at a loss?

Simon Oxlade

PS3 for me

I'm a PC gamer - have been for years, but I'm just about to buy a PS3 over an Xbox360 for a number of reasons:

1) The PS3 is a bloody good BluRay player - comparable to £400 standalone players and has all the decoding licences on board all for the asking price. By contrast the PS2 was a pretty awful DVD player.

2) Online play is free - I don't play online much, but I like the occasional dabble - and I simply wouldn't make enough use of Xbox live to warrant the subscription fee (seriously I barely play online at all)

3) You can load and stream content around your network.

4) I'm not a fan of console games per se, but I am interested in GT and GTA IV (just as I was interested in Forza, Project Gotham and Burnout). Difference is that I couldn't justify the expenditure on JUST a games machine when I won't be using it every night of the week. However add in the other functions the PS3 offers out of the box and I feel it is worth the extra money.

5) Seems to be built better - we haven't had a PS3 fall over yet at work, but have said good bye to two xbox360s so far...

I also have a Wii and I know which machine will be played the most. SuperMario Galaxy is a work of art...

P.s. Star Wars not recorded in a High def compatible format??? It was recorded on FILM which is analogue and is the highest def format you can get (excluding comments about grain etc from the size of a 35mm negative). The special Editions were digitally remastered and regraded in order to clean up the image (New hope was especially bad) and to better integrate the new effects. No matter what format it was recorded in - even if it was shoved on a HD-D5 tape, they can still easily ingest it into the latest digital equipment and remastered. I'd expect a Star Wars BluRay when either there is enough demand for it (sales still small), Lucasfilm isn't in the middle of a massive production (Indy IV) and when they have created some new additional content in HiDef (which is more of an issue than the films themselves).

Asus Eee PC 900 flips one at MacBook Air with multi-touch input

Simon Oxlade
Thumb Up

Touchpad is bigger ... a bit

Touchpad seems to be a little bit bigger than my model 701. Looks like it now fills the case depression in the 'wrist-rest' area in front of the keyboard - so it's about 10mm wider and possibly (it's hard to tell) 2-3mm deeper. The case depression itself doesn't appear to be any bigger...

However I'm not entirely sure the touchpad is quite big enough for gesture input - not for my fat fingers anyway. Wait and see...

Shame they're moving to a 'dope on a rope' style power supply. Standout feature for me on the 701 was the convertible powersupply (US/UK) without the need to carry a seperate 'figure of 8' lead.

Screen size looks nice though, and they really should have included Bluetooth from the off. Can't wait to have a play with the new one...

Apple ships Air

Simon Oxlade

@ Paul

Re: attaching external batteries - I think you'll find the power connector is one of Apple's beloved magnetic power couplers, so attaching an external batterypack will just result with the weight of the batteries disconnecting the pack.

I have a 7" Eee which is a borderline pocketmoney price and does everything I want out of a lappy except connect to my mobe out of the box. Apple have made some real dogs in their time, this appears to be another one...

The Icon? Well, for the gratuitous mentions of 'lappy' and 'mobe' of course...

ABC fined $1.43m for NYPD Blue a*se flash

Simon Oxlade

Swift Justice

from 2003???

Clash of the compacts: Eee vs Air

Simon Oxlade
Jobs Horns

Eee for me

I was going to buy a Mac Book Pro, so I could have a decent lappy with a different OS to learn. ultimately I felt that £2k was just too much for something that wouldn't really be used to its full potential - so I bought an EEE and don't think I could have done better. 8Gb SDHC card fitted with the second series of the IT crowd on it (downloaded from my Humax PVR) - check. Bluetooth added for connection to Mobe and GPS - check. WINE installed to support Windows programs when I need them - check. Does everything I want, simple interface and complicated at the click of a button, small, light, cute, expandable and - get this - realtively easy to type on (can't touch type). My Wife (definite non-geek) wants one - nuff said.

Vs the Apple which is quite a bit bigger (not a sub-notebook IMHO), has one USB port (huh?), needs a dongle to connect to any monitor (I just need a VGA cable) and has a sealed in battery (my Ipod battery has just failed again so I wouldn't want a PC with a non replaceable one.) This isn't innovative, isn't clever and is massively overpriced!! I like Apple's stuff, but this one's a pup. Go EEE go!

LG lifts skirt, reveals watchphone

Simon Oxlade

Dick Tracy style would be better....

Hmm ... so it is designed to work with a bluetooth headset then. So I'd have to wear one of those stupid bloody things all the time? No thanks.

I prefer the Sony Ericsson MBW-150. You can see who's calling you, choose to accept or reject the call from the watch (if you choose to accept you can use a headset or use the phone), it displays your text messages and allows you to control your music playback. Neater, more subtle and more flexible solution if you ask me....

However answering phonecalls Dick Tracy style is extremely cool especially if it could include a video phone......

Wii buyers follow French Connection for consoles

Simon Oxlade

Dumb parents + Spoiled Kids = £££

CEX, the exchange shop, has a number of Wiis in the window for a range of prices. Those with the box are £300 (no WiiSports and no Nunchuck by the look of things), and a couple out of the box for some £230-£280.

A swift walk inside the shop and you'll find several copies of WiiSports (some in the cardboard sleeve as opposed to the DVD packaging) for £20 a pop. So you're looking at paying somewhere between £250 - £320 for a Second-hand console and the software it chould have come with for £170!

I'm glad to see they're still there at the moment, but I don't doubt some idiot will buy them before Christmas - and all that lovely profit goes into CEX's pocket, not Nintendo's, which sucks too.

How HMRC gave away the UK's national identity

Simon Oxlade

"... the data lost is not enough to access bank accounts...

No, but it is more than enough to open one. Credit Card, pretty easy once the bank account is established (just deal with that troublesome "Oh I've changed addresses, you must have my old one" step first). Overdraft, pretty much defacto nowadays. Short Term Loan, easy with a solid set of bank account details.

So 25 million details, which ones to pick? Simple, you have the addresses. Think about where you live, now work out which streets the nice middle class people live on and search for those, then pick and choose.

Apply techniques in Paragraph one, and then multiply several thousand times.

I reckon about six weeks of work and you'd be able to set up enough accounts/cards/loans to make a decent amount of wonger. Leave rented house (rented using the database details, naturally - it's easy enough to fake an electric bill and the rest are just numbers) and head for Caribbean to live off your earnings.

No risk? - B*ll*cks. Glad I'm not on the list.

To continue the rant - why is the database accessible by a machine that has a CD/DVD burner attached? Why is the NAO asking for this data in the first place when the data is not supposed to leave the building? Why is the member of staff concerned so blase about the data that he feels it's ok to do this? Why has this happened several times and nothing has been done? Why are there not secure network links between all these government offices? Why are these clowns still in power? Why are they using TNT to deliver secure internal mail?

Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot K850i camera phone

Simon Oxlade
Thumb Up

Wait and see

Not utterly convinced after having a play at my local store. however my K800 is dying a death (usual joystick issues) so I welcome any way SE choose to fix that problem.

Don't quite understand the two buttons being enclosed by the d-pad. Surely one would make a bit more sense as this could operate as the select key when you are navigating around menus.

Menu is a bit dull, and I think it could do with bigger internal capacity and add some of the walkman features. Maybe SE will eventually put the cybershot and Walkman leaders together in one phone, but until then I'll be buying the K series as it is better for what I tend to use my phone for: calls, texts, and snaps. Just not sure if I'll wait for the 6 month revision to see if they tidy things up a bit.

As for the N95 as an alternative. Ouch, not really a like for like comparison (N95 is a smart phone, K850 isn't), but my wife's N95 is an absolute pup. Slow, fiddly, network crippled, and loaded with inconsistencies and dodgy software. My K800 does just about everything the N95 does, to a lesser standard to be sure, but it all actually hangs together.

At least the K850 actually works, and now SE have fixed their PC suite, it's a borderline joy to use with your PC. Maybe SE will chuck the new cybershot and the walkman features in the P1 replacement? until then, the K850 is really tempting me, but I think I'll play with it a bit more first...

Evesham sale imminent?

Simon Oxlade


Evesham is a solid company making decent machines and charging sensible prices - everything that Time were not. Had one Evesham machine and it was brilliant, and the company has been showing real flair recently with its TV and media centre products.

I agree with Barry that no who was ever involved with Time computers should show their face in computer space again. Not only were their products poor and their service woeful (I had a Time PC once too), but the way they went bust just showed how poor a company they were.

Sony NAS-50HDE Gigajuke audio system

Simon Oxlade

Worst Product name ever

"GigaJuke" - WTF? Sounds like a million John Waynes......

So what's in a URL? The Reg URL?

Simon Oxlade

.co.uk only

The Times newspaper, one of the finest publications ever created and certainly the one with the richest history, is reached by the URL www.thetimes.co.uk. This is because it deals with news from the UK perspective. Type in www.thetimes.com and you get the Shreveport Times, which is in the south of that former colony run by that ghastly Shrub fellow.

Point is that El Reg delivers IT and tech news from a British perspective, complete with attendant jingoism and mild xenophobia - something that makes it very different to all the other 'tech news' sites out there. By all means run a .com site, with appropriate filters for the US if really necessary, but please keep the .co.uk. It's a little news union jack waving amid the wastes of bland US coverage....

And, it keeps me sane.

2012 Olympics logo debuts to whalesong

Simon Oxlade

Bag of w**k

Without a doubt the single worst logo I think I have ever seen. It it desperately wanting to be 'hip' or 'street' or 'urban' becos dat's wat da kidz wan. Innit?

It's embarrassing. If this is what they've come up with (especially after the older one which was perfectly fine), I dread to think what's going to happen at the opening ceremony.

Shallow, infantile, out-of-date nonsense. Why can't our capital city warrant a capital "L" for heaven's sake.

Utter, utter toss.

G-Wiz electro-car fracas leaves Top Gear blubbing

Simon Oxlade

A case of misleading marketing

Shurely this is an arguement about how the G-Wizz is marketed, not about the size of Clarkson's balls or the responsibility of Top Gear?

I cycle to work occasionally and my route takes me along a very busy main road where speed are at least 50MPH. It's terrifying - so I make myself as visible as possible and (generally) I have no problems.

However having seen the crash photos from the G-Wizz test I'm pretty convinced that I'm actually safer on my bike.

The thing looks like a (small) car, has door and lights and indicators, but clearly offers the crash protection of an mobility scooter. It is even advertised as an electric car - it only mentions 'quadricycle' once on the product page here: http://www.goingreen.co.uk/store/content/gwiz/ and even then there is no actual mention of what Quadricycle licencing actually means (essentially, if I put four wheels on my bike it would also be a quadricycle, but I wouldn't want to take it on the M4).

If I buy a car I know that it has been crash tested, has seat belts, hazard lights, meets EU and UK safety criteria and will collapse in such a way that should I crash it will minimise the forces exerted on my body in an attempt to keep me as undamaged as possible. The Prius does this, the Smart does this, the G-Wiz does not. It should not be allowed to be marketed as a car - this is the point Top Gear was making and, I feel, that it is a very valid one.

It certainly is not a petrol-head Vs Eco-Greenie arguement, it's a valid complaint that people are not being given the full facts about a product. Personally I'm a committed recycler and cyclist who happens to own a classic rally car with the carbon footprint of a small powerstation, so I'm not picking a side. I just feel the G-Wiz is pulling a bit of a fast one and the ASA/OFT should be involved.

Spammers stuff PlusNet email accounts (again)

Simon Oxlade

That's it, I'm off

As a Plus Net user I get battered by Spam, but it comes in waves. The most recent wave (which sees between 25-50 spam mails arriving every day) started a week ago. I did wonder why...

Now I find out from El Reg, they've had my details nicked! Nice of them to tell me. This is the final straw - they didn't tell me they'd released new connection offerings, so I was paying over the odds for two months; they have no way of controlling the amount of spam your virtual accounts generate (there is something galling about receiving spam from your own address); they lose email; and now this.

Anyone know a good ISP???

Nokia N95 multimedia slider phone

Simon Oxlade

WiFi and IP connectivity hobbled on Orange

Had the phone for a week now and the review is pretty spot on. However, our phone is from Orange and as such, it's been crippled.

The only use I can get out of the phone's IP functions is to surf the internet at home - and even then the Orange OS made it as fiddly as possible. VOIP? Nothing, no programs and no mention in the manual (kinda as I expected).

I cannot find any file explorer software either, so I can't access my music/movies from my file server - only via USB. Groan.

The GPS has never worked once, and Nokia Maps is all about getting you to spend as much as possible over your data tariff. I haven't tried installing Symbian TomTom yet, but I don't hold out much hope for the GPS reciever then either.

As a phone it's excellent. The camera's good and music/video playback (once you've got it on the phone) is very good. Signal handling etc is superb and the menus are easy to navigate and use.

Shame Orange have restricted so much of the more interesting elements of the phone. TBH, probably would have been just as well off with a SE Walkman phone or an O2 Orbit for less of an onerous contract given how much functionality has been crippled.

Will keep plugging at it, some of these features may just be well hidden. However the lousy battery life doesn't help.