* Posts by Mark W

68 publicly visible posts • joined 2 May 2007


TomTom maps route onto iPhone 3G S

Mark W

I don't think this is iPhone 3GS Only...

They announced this last night at the WWDC Keynote, but way way way before they announced the 3GS iPhone - it was in with the section about the accessory interface using things like Bluetooth and the Dock connector.

The only 3GS specific things are the video, video editing, voice control and compass. It's typical apple, though - they do the same with the iPod adding new software features on the newer model - the 3G would be able to do the video editing and voice control - they just choose not to.

I don't believe the TomTom is 3GS specific (in fact, they would be bloody stupid to make it so). I think you'll find it's just Version 3 software specific.

To add to your story - TomTom found that the way the GPS works in the 3G isn't brill, but the mount I've seen from TomTom uses the accessory protocol mentioned as part of software version 3 to allow them to embed a much better GPS chip in the cradle, and it docks and charges the device in one go.

As for an A2DP stereo, JVC do a brilliant range of head units, many of the old ones of which are bluetooth compatible using a little £80 module that goes into the multi-changer socket on the back. In fact, you can daisy chain modules, as I have a DAB module, Bluetooth module and iPod module in the back of my KW-AVX800.

Their new range (such as the KD-AVX77) has Bluetooth and Ipod control built in to the head unit now.

Apple delays 17in MacBook Pro

Mark W
Jobs Horns

@E Haines

I was more referring to the new Aluminium Macbook. I do think it was strange that they canned the White macbook only to re-release it as it's obviously still got a market.

Agreed the White basic basic basic macbook does still have a Firewire400 port, but the new-style recently launched macbook *doesn't* have a firewire port at all. You have to upgrade to the Macbook Pro to get a Firewire800 port which is a little bit short sighted.

Mark W

@Norfolk Enchants Paris

Expensive, but;

Dell Precision M6400 Covet 17"

Core2Duo 2.4Ghz


120Gb SATA

Windows Vista Business

£2752 ex VAT.

So that's a lower spec Dell laptop at least £800 more expensive than a higher spec Mac?

If you look around at similar spec and build quality Wintel laptops they're all about the same cost, so in actual fact they're not too badly priced.

Agreed, the basic Macbook is probably £300 more expensive than it needs to be, and I wouldn't buy one because they've dropped Firewire and for me that is an essential evil. My replacement for my black macbook may actually end up being an iMac.

Google G1 successor spied in video?

Mark W

Just Google Sci-Phone

And you'll see this is what looks just like a chinese rip-off running Android.

Don't forget they did http://technabob.com/blog/2008/07/04/sci-phone-iphone-clone-runs-java-apps/

Sky mulls PVR software rollback

Mark W

@James Prior


"Sky's new EPG (for HD customers only at the moment) offers all of the features you describe - except the bit about unreserving the HDD space."

It did if they ever got their arses in gear and rolled it out, as no proper customers have it yet, only testers who work for Sky.

As I've said before, Sky promised this to their shareholders, and to us SkyHD customers for September.

It's now November - 2 months beyond launch date and no-one knows wtf is going on - there's been nothing official from Sky. Maybe their shareholders ought to do something about it? Lying to your shareholders isn't a good thing...

(Oh - and the issue here Sky isn't that us customers have upgraded our Hard Disks, it's more that they've worked fine for three years until you fucked them with a software update that we can't choose to implement.)

Software update nobbles Sky+ boxes

Mark W

Get your Facts Straight

Unless you're voting using the red button, or using Sky Active, The phone line actually doesn't do an awful lot on the Sky boxes. Apart from Interactive services, all it does is phone back home to Sky every so often to enable the box to tell them if you've bought a Box Office movie.

Software updates, EPG updates, card updates, package updates and so-forth are all done over the air from the satellite to the box.

The biggest issue at the moment, however, is that Sky themselves back in May heavily publicised a new EPG for the Sky HD boxes which gave us a HD quality EPG and other added benefits (such as tabbed recording lists and so-forth) which was publicised as being available in September 2008.

It's now November and it still hasn't arrived, Sky haven't officially said what is going on, and judging by their inability to even roll out simple updates without testing them properly, I'm not too enthusiastic for Sky to roll out a new EPG which may bork a few thousand Sky HD boxes

(never mind the fact that even a simple thing like Audio/Video sync on HD channels is totally fcuked).

Mines the one with the Blu-ray disks from Lovefilm in the pocket, as at least the audio's in sync on BD.

BBC's TV detector vans to remain a state secret

Mark W

Strange Country we live in

@AC who posted;

"A DVD player, a PC, a console or two and a nice large LCD TV to use them with. True I could plug in an aerial and watch TV if I really wanted to - but I don't - I can't stand the majority of the trash that is on these days - those seasons I do like I simply buy boxed sets once they come out."

How do you know which seasons you do like, and how do you know it's all trash if you don't actually watch a TV?

Anyway, I would love to know how many people who complain about the licence fee actually pay for Sky?

I can only comment on my situation, but it's an interesting comparison, so bear with me.

I have a SkyHD box in my living room and a Sky+ elsewhere in the house (moved it elsewhere when I got my SkyHD).

If you have a Sky HD box with a full+movies(or sport)+multiroom+HD subscription then you're paying £58 per month. (£38 for Movie or Sports World, £10 for Multiroom, £10 for HD). That works out at £696 per year. (Fcuuuuuuuk. Didn't realise it was *quite* that costly!)

Agreed, you do get alot of content for that, including alot of crap, but the majority of that cost is down to the Movies part of the subscription, which is comparable in price to something like a top whack lovefilm subscription. And I'm pretty happy now they've made every movie channel HD+DD5.1.

However, movies aside, when you look at the quality of what you get as part of your TV licence (BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, BBC Radio, BBC HD, BBC Internet / Podcasts, BBC iPlayer etc.. etc..), not to mention the management and maintainence of Freeview and Freesat (They are the majority shareholders in both) then the £139.50 isn't actually that bad.

From my point of view, I only keep the sky subs going because I want the movies, and I'm happy to pay for it, along with the kids channels for my kids. If I didn't want those, I wouldn't pay for sky as apart from movies, 99% of my viewing is BBC or Channel 4.

Apricot drops 'too complicated' Linux from netbook line

Mark W

Not brilliant value actually

When you consider I just bought a HP mini-note with the same Via 1.2Ghz CPU, WXVGA screen, 1Gb RAM with Vista Business and a 160Gb HDD for £339, the Apricot doesn't look quite as good value?

Hands on with SanDisk's SlotMusic SD-not-CD player

Mark W


The main reason for me personally, and I suspect quite a few others, as to why we stick to CD's is that it's not compressed.

However you spin it, the memory stick version is still compressed using a lossy codec. So I buy a CD because I will rip it at current state of the art, and when that and capacity changes I will re-rip at a higher bitrate.

However, the SD card at 1Gb has enough capacity for them to use wavelet or MLP lossless compression. But it's not quite as well supported I suppose.

My example is that I originally ripped my library at AAC128. I now use AAC256, but as the size of the iPods go up, I may end up going back and re-ripping key albums into Lossless.

The only market I can see for this is those people who don't have / can't afford / don't want / don't understand a PC but want to have an MP3 player. With the advent of cheap 'netbooks' that run XP and therefore iTunes or even just Linux with cheap MP3 devices and an external USB CD-ROM, you could, for the equivalent cost of a 32Gb iPod Touch, have a full soup-to-nuts solution (albeit without the apple logo on it). And if you did want to spend cash with the Thin White Duke, you could get an iPod Nano to plug into your XP-running Netbook.

PS3 must stay focused on games, says Sony

Mark W
Jobs Horns


Yep. I know what you mean. My Wii hardly ever gets switched on now, yet both my PS3 and Xbox360 were used last night. I watched 'Jumper' on blu-ray, and then played Half Life 2 on my Xbox.

Steve - cos I'm slowing getting off the Apple bandwagon. I've seen the light and realised it's not rose tinted...

Sony exec pours cold water on PS3 price-cut hopes

Mark W

@AC 15:08 - PS3 by a mile

"the graphics on the PS3 exclusives are vastly better than anything I have experienced on my 360. Anyone that says otherwise is in short, lying."

If you're playing it on a standard def TV then you are probably right. They won't look any different. Unfortunately the jagged edges of the non-anti-aliased PS3 graphics look bloody awful. I think you're confusing 'sharpness' with 'quality'.

For pure realism in both textures, shading and anti-aliasing, see the Xbox360 on how to do it.

However, I think the menu in GT5 with the car parked in the forest does look bloody lovely on the PS3. I just think with fast moving games (WipeoutHD included) they've not got the edges right.

Note - I am using both on a 720p TV, with the Xbox360 over a VGA cable vs a HDMI on the PS3 so it may be that the PS3 on a 1080p TV looks a whole lot better, but not by alot.

Mark W

@AC - PS3 is the best value

A bit fanboi, but your sentiment is sound.

As I own all 3 consoles and have done for 12 months or so, my experience is;

The Xbox360 is the best *games* console, with it's hardware anti-aliasing trumping the graphics on the PS3 by a mile. However, there is a flip side. The Xbox360 seems to have a limitation when it comes to playing common or garden HD-DVD's as all the processing is done in software, and it shows. Tearing and flicker are commonplace compared to a standalone HD-DVD player. It's a raw games machine out and out. Also, the fact you can put a game in and it runs really quickly and barring RROD it just works.

Negatives - the poor HD-DVD playback, the locked-in Hard Disk drive and no ability to backup. Plus the clunky menus which will hopefully be solved with the new dashboard.

The PS3 is a great multi-media player however, and the fact that the blu-ray decoding runs on hardware, along with the fact that it is actually the most advanced blu-ray player on the market gives it a massive edge. Add on the fact that you can surf the net on it, you can upgrade the hard disk (I bought a maxtor portable 160Gb SATA disk for £30, broke the casing open, pulled the little tab off the bottom of the PS3 and upgraded the internal hard disk in about 10 minutes), allows you to backup the content of the hard disk to an external hard drive, download full games (Microsoft still only let you download either demo's or XBL games) and even record Freeview on it, it suddenly becomes the centre of your multimedia house. Along with the excellent bluetooth remote control it makes for a great multimedia powerhouse.

So for me, I use my 360 only for games (and it is the best *games* console by miles) , and my PS3 for movies and multimedia, for which it excels.

Stob latest: It was a cunning trick, says Open University

Mark W

OU Consistency Issues

I'm just finishing S279 (Geology / Earth and Life) - yes, I know it's not IT - and the whole of Book 1 was just mind-numbingly badly written. The forums on the OU lit up with people berating the standard of the writing - it was written like chinese stereo instructions and as Tom Baker classically once said 'Are you sure this wasn't translated from the f***ing Albanian?'.

They were asking questions in TMA's about detail that just wasn't in the book, and teaching you phrases for something and then asking you questions on something totally different which just confused everyone.

I for one want to get my Degree that I never got, but not if I keep on having to get Bletchley Park to translate my course books into English for me.

Fujitsu intros 5.6in bonsai laptop... with Vista

Mark W

I have only one word


This was done to death years ago and even back then everyone realised they were shite :)

ASA rules against citing 'hits' in ads

Mark W

All sales is lying..

There's lies, damned lies and statistics.

These are just statistics :)

@Trix - you don't need to. If you know how to parse logs you can easily see how many unique visitors you get as their IP address is consistent with one session.

Even that isn't a fair representation as you may get the same visitor twice a day. but his broadband or dialup connection has resynced and got a new DHCP IP address, which is where cookies come in as you can see that they've revisited. Except nowadays that isn't a great method of tracking either, due to the fact that increased security means some people auto-delete their cookies on exit from the browser. Then take into account that a fair chunk of your traffic each day is spiders from Google or Yahoo too.

Using something like Webtrends allows you to take account of all this and give you closer to realistic statistics - albeit not guaranteed figures.

However, I bet the guy who runs the site is rubbing his hands with glee. Because all these 'high-ranking' news sites have printed his URL along with a small precis of what the site contains, his Google Ranking and therefore his search position will shoot through the roof! Talk about cheap SEO!

HMV lines up a few VAT-free CDs and DVDs

Mark W

@Richard Porter

It's because it's still cheaper to mass-produce non-CDR media, plus the fact that if you wanted to do that, it's easy (and cheaper) to do at home with iTunes.

The other issue you have is that CD-R's don't have a great lifespan, and you can imagine the returns issues.

'I left this CD on the dashboard of my lorry and now it won't play' (most of the populous being ignorant to the fact that CD-R's are prone to being wiped by UV Sunlight).

MobileMe offers another free bite of the Apple

Mark W
Jobs Horns

Definite ex-apple defender here..

Well, after I had the issue where O2 robbed me of over £400 without actually delivering an iPhone 3G (my credit card company is still working on that one) and Apple managed to mess up the iPhone v2 upgrade, I also was caught out by the MobileMe £120 charge.

However, I've seen sense and cancelled my MobileMe subscription as I've had enough.

That's one less Apple defender out there. I would say I'm not alone.

Apple swipes £121 for 'free' MobileMe trial

Mark W
Jobs Horns

Got one but not the other.

Well, I don't have an iPhone 3G, however, I do have 3x £159 charges to my credit card from O2 for last week when I did try to upgrade to one during the shambles where the site kept dumping us out. I've asked O2 and they don't seem to have any answer. Was funny that they recently sent me a questionnaire. You can assume it wasn't good.

From being someone who thought that Apple stuff was good, well done Mr Jobs, you've managed to remove your reality distortion field long enough to realise that you're as much of a shower of shite as every other computer company. Took me long enough to notice.

Thankfully Apple haven't stiffed me for the £121 mobileme charge. not yet, anyway (and I do have a trial account...).

Voicemail and email make beast with two callbacks

Mark W

O2 Already do this

It's called Visual Voicemail on the iPhone :)

(Sorry - couldn't resist. I'll grab my non-3G coat... ;) )

3 days on: The iPhone users still to make a call

Mark W

N96 costs?

@ScottK - I'll happily stick with my much cheaper iPhone - after all, just to buy an N96 at the moment looks like being more costly than the iPhone if the SIM-free price is £699, plus you then have to hunt around for a tariff that allows you to have unlimited data and wi-fi access included? Oh - I have that one with my iPhone too.

On the downside, software version 2.0 has a fair few bugs and my iPhone is definitely less stable than 1.1.4. (however still more stable than the N95 it replaced!)

Oh - my coat's the one with the Light Saber in the pocket :)

Truphone brings VoIP to the iPhone

Mark W
Jobs Horns

That's if they can use their iPhone

Looks like Apple have pulled a Microsoft today and released V2.0 software for the iPhone which seems to have bricked thousands of phones due to the update having to re-activate their handsets and the activation system within Apple being down.

Just take a look at the Apple Discussions forum. Interesting reading :)

Glad I've not done my PiePhone update yet. Seems like Job's jesus phone has just been crucified what with O2 not being able to enable handsets. Scuppered by their own DRM!!

O2 starts 3G iPhone stampede - and runs away

Mark W
Jobs Horns


is that the same wm6 that web surfing is abysmal on and kept rebooting my old HTC smartphone every couple of hours? Thought so :)

(whilst I type this on my iPhone)

I did try a couple of times to order but figured it doesn't really matter as I don't live in a 3G area anyway, plus we get the same software on it as on the regular iPhone.

One interesting note is that apple are being very quick to remove any anti-o2 rants off the apple discussions site. They obviously know the shambles that o2 are, but are happy to rise above it and see the dollar signs in their eyes!

Force listeners onto DAB by killing FM

Mark W

DAB is actually pretty good.

The head unit in my car recently packed up and I had to change it. Being double-DIN I wanted something that ticked all the boxes.

I picked up a JVC KW-AVX800 Head Unit, a DAB module, iPod module etc.

I have to say I am sooooo glad I fitted it. When I tune into FM, if it finds the station on DAB it automatically roams across, and when you get such a direct comparison, it shows how much better DAB is than FM and it's compression. Don't forget you can disable compression on DAB by turning off DRC. You can't do that on FM.

So those of you who say FM sounds better can only be listening to R3. Every other station is heavily compressed unless you're listening to DAB.

But here's some experiences of someone who has lived with a DAB in their car for about 6 months.

1) Coverage isn't really a massive issue for me so far. Only when I went to the remotest parts of Scotland did I lose coverage, and then my radio switched to FM if I was listening to a national station.

2) Having a greater selection of stations works great. And why can't they move 'traffic radio' onto the Digital1 mux instead of loads of empty carrier stations from the old Capital Radio stations and birdsong! Virgin also broadcasts in 160k which makes it sound quite sharp.

3) The traffic information works well too

So IMHO I think DAB works great for me - and I live in North Yorkshire where the DAB coverage means I can get stations when my analogue radio picks up nak all!

Blu-ray movie sales gathering momentum

Mark W

Pricing Situation Doesn't Help

If you made Blu-Ray disks cost the same as the DVD they would sell by the bucketload.

However, cashing in on HD-DVD's demise, the price of Blu-Ray Discs have been hiked up to £24 or thereabouts.

Why would anyone buy a copy of a movie for £24 when you can get the same film for £10-12 on DVD and with a decent upscaler (the PS3 for example which has, much as it pains me to say it, a great upscaler) it doesn't look half bad. There's only a few people with decent audio decoders who would probably have the money for the HD.

For most of the general populous, the HD video isn't worth the extra 100% cost.

Brennan JB7 Micro Jukebox

Mark W

Niche product?

Very nice design, but maybe a couple of years too late?

I have a Macbook, Airport Express and iPod.

So with the Airport Express connected via SP/DIF to my TEAC reference system, and the iPod in my car on my JVC head unit, I have 80Gb of music with me wherever I go, with simple sync and even last.fm so my buddies can see what I've been listening to.

And I would say I'm not alone in this setup?

Shame, cos I bet it sounds top.

HD media future may be Blu, but it's not rosy

Mark W

media cost is king

until the price of the pre recorded media drops, I'll be sticking to lovefilm for my hd (have both formats) fix as I won't pay £22+ for a movie. talk about a total ripoff!

Why have Radiohead broken copyright activists' hearts?

Mark W

@Anonymous Coward (the one without any CD's)

"Honestly, if I really wanted some music and had no other choices than to pay at very least I'd just fire up guitar hero and actually interact with the music."

You seem to forget - radio is a promotional medium to try and allow you to listen to a record before you go out and buy it. A bit like the 30-second samples in iTunes, or the last.fm playlist function.

It would be like you working for a company who perpetually pays you peanuts and tells you that it's cos you're being 'tried out' - essentially what radio is doing for the music. The artists involved in making that music make virtually nothing from radio airplay - if anything it probably costs them to plug the record - essentially it's just a big advert. Ok, there is royalties for airplay, but it's nothing compared to the money made from a live show or a CD.

So justifying not paying for music 'because it's freely available anyway' is a bit like me walking into your house and stealing your TV because you left the door open, or taking your car keys and driving off in your car because 'it's freely available'.

Imagine if you put on a concert and sold tickets, except loads of people got in for free and saw your hard work without you being rewarded for it.

I don't agree with the record companies who mint huge amounts of profit out of the music industry, the end person who has made the music is the artist - who has sat in a recording studio or wherever, painstakingly putting this music together for you to hear.

What most people don't understand is that when you buy a CD you don't automatically get the copyright of the music - you buy a 'personal licence' to listen to that music when you want to. Just read the copyright blurb on the outer edge of the CD. The artist shares that music with you, and it's your personal copy. But you don't own that music - the artist does. When you rip it and bung it up as a torrent, and let the rest of the world copy it for free, you're essentially ripping off the artist who originally made the CD, and denying them some of their income.

For those of you who say 'Boo-Hoo - they make enough anyway' - some of them do. But that doesn't make it morally right. It would be like me dipping into your bank account and taking £20 every so often because 'you make enough anyway'. Is that morally right?

Put yourself in the shoes of the fledgling artist (ignoring Radiohead for a second who did it for ego reasons cos they needed to raise their profile - the album's shite even if I did buy it on CD!) - you don't have a job, apart from your passion to write music. You decide you want to share this with the rest of the world, but you have to make some money somehow, so you sell your CD via a small distributor and you make a couple of quid. Except you realise that one of your customers has placed the album on a torrent site, and it's being downloaded by the bucketload on the net by people, but for that you don't make a penny. So you may be popular, but totally penniless because you haven't made any money.

Ok, so that's an extreme example, but it does happen.

The problem here is that this attitude has caused people like the RIAA to get nasty with the end customers, which is a bit like biting the hand that feeds you. However, if we don't buy it one way, we'll get stung in another way. The French have put a tax on blank CD-R's which goes into a pot and gets shared amongst recording artists - almost a tax on copying. More and more issues like this will pop up unless we all play fair, which probably won't happen because at heart the world's full of selfish bastards who want everything for free. Shame the economy is totally fcuked.

Note - I don't work for the music industry any more, but have loads of friends who are in bands, and I just think it's a bit shitty our attitude towards freely stealing music.

Sorry. Rant over. As you were!

Blu-ray 'to bloom', now HD DVD's dead

Mark W

Greedy Manufacturers?

Since the announcement that Blu-Ray's won the format war, and HD-DVD is dead, has anyone else noticed that the cost of Blu Ray players has gone up by about 30%.

For example - Amazon listed the BD-P1400 from Samsung at £199 prior to Feb 2008 (just look at the comments). Now the price is £278.44 - and other players have gone the same way by both Sony and Panasonic.

So once they win the format war, putting the prices up will just kill off adoption.

Plus Blu-Ray disks seem to have also gone up in price.

Oh the joy of capitalism.

Texas Instruments sounds alarm on 3G

Mark W

3G Useful?

Every 3G phone I've ever had I turned off 3G as it was a recipe for dropped calls, missed calls and noisy calls.

I also have never made nor recieved a Video call, and know no-one who has!

Call me a luddite, but I love the 3G inside my Laptop, but on a phone it's kinda pointless.

Plastic bag campaign falls apart at the seams

Mark W
IT Angle


I thought the majority of the new placcy bags coming out of the supermarkets now aren't plastic, but corn starch - you know, the ones that you use to store stuff in your garage, and then come to them a couple of years later only to find that they've totally disintegrated, and not necessarily due to mice either.

FWIW I asked a couple of retailers (Ikea being one) why they no longer use Paper Bags. Apparently Paper Bags are actually less green than Plastic (or at least biodegradable plastic bags) because they take alot more energy to make and are less environmentally / CO2 friendly in their production.

So I can't understand the Government's tirade - it's just their usual misinformed bollocks.

Ten years old: the world's first MP3 player

Mark W

@Glenn - Sony

You have to remember two things;

1: Sony was trying to push ATRAC and MiniDisc as a going concern.

2: Ultimately they owned a record label who forbade them from using MP3.

It wasn't until the 2nd Gen ipods were around that Sony eventually relented from their atrac stance and allowed MP3's to be used. By then it was just too late.

DAB: A very British failure

Mark W

6.5 Million people can't be wrong...

For a format that's not been around for more than a couple of years, DAB has done pretty well. Now radio's are cheap and cheerful, and the sound quality is good enough for the masses. I agree it's not DVD Audio, but look what's happened to that - it's definitely not mass market.

The problem here is that unless something does well immediately, it gets ditched straight away, vs a long term view. The opinions of the few (anal techies) get taken as the majority view, when it just isn't representative. As someone who used to work as a sound engineer in the recording industry, I wouldn't be considered a 'Luddite' as per Steve Green's post. In fact, the person with the narrow mind is indeed Mr Green. Look outside your little world and see the real people out there.

For example - Freeview reception with me here in York is atrocious, and I have to use Sky to get anything apart from a snowy analogue reception, plus analogue radio reception is also dodgy, yet DAB reception is brilliant, and I get to listen to stations other than Minster FM or BBC York.

I've recently installed a DAB head-unit in my car, and when it flicks from FM to DAB , as it tracks which signal is the stronger and switches between them, there is a noticable jump in quality for the better. For those audiophiles out there, the head unit also plays DVD-Audio at 96Khz 24bit, which is a bit overkill for car audio, but it shows it's not a limitation of the head unit itself.

I firmly believe that the only way we're going to get DAB to be successful is to have it in the car, and get the manufacturers to install it alongside FM, much like the option is available in the states to have Sirius, for example. But with a malaise like we have about DAB (6.5 million people can't be wrong - and 1 million sold at Christmas...) it's sad that it probably won't happen. But look how long it took motor manufacturers to even put CD's in the car.

Unfortunately us audiophiles out there are the minority - sadly the general populous don't care if it's MP2, MP3, AAC+ or whatever - that's your personal opinion - they just care that it works and it sounds 'ok'.

Just look at how popular Sirius is in the states - I had a rental car over there with it in, and although it was quite groovy being able to listen to Radio1 time shifted, it sounds bloody awful - much like WMA at a low bitrate with the warbly echo in the background.

So just because you don't like it / don't use it, don't be so selfish and piss on it for the rest of us.

Quake rocks Britain

Mark W

Strange location for an earthquake

[geoscientist hat]

Seeing as Britain is smack bang in the middle of a plate, nowhere near any current volcanic activity, and checking the geological map of the british isles, the location of this earthquake isn't near any existing faulting, then it's strange. Although the two big quakes in the UK have happened pretty close to each other in relative terms (Dogger bank is almost a 100km straight line east of the current quake's epicenter).

North Wales I would expect quakes cos of the massive amount of faulting there, but with the enormous sedimentary plateau's here, it's a bit more strange.

However, who knows what's actually under all that Kimmeridge clay?

[/geoscientist hat]

However, it was bloody scary when you live not far from it. It did fair shake the house!

I'll get me coat...

Odeon kicks Rambo in the 'nads

Mark W

There are some Odeon's left then?

After their shocking lack of investment and their truly untidy screens, along with their extortionate pricing, most people avoided the ones up here in the frozen (windy) north until they all closed.

Oscar Deutche must be turning in his grave.

Saying that - I don't much like their competition either. Vue is awful, with tiny screens and knackered cinemas.

The only decent cinema up here is the Picturehouse 'City Screen' in York, which is the only THX Certified screen for miles around.

MS axes Xbox 360 HD DVD drive

Mark W

Sad Day

The people who have won here are not only the ps3 fanboys who were touting it only because they love Sony (you seem to have a short term memory problem - remember when Sony called you all sheep a couple of years ago because you were so predictable? Baaaaa) but the biggest winners are the Hollywood movie studios.

Shame because HD-DVD wasn't so laden with DRM, was a finished format, was single region and used better codecs from the beginning.

Vs Blu-Ray's restrictive region coding, restrictive DRM (how are you all going to feel when new discs come out that you can't play on your old BluRay players that aren't PS3 or that need online auth to play?), poor picture quality (subjective, but seeing the same film on both formats, HD-DVD actually had the edge believe it or not), still in Beta etc.. etc.. etc..

I have both players, but I preferred the HD-DVD because it was, in long term use, a better format, and I preferred it's picture - seemed much cleaner and crisper vs blu-ray, but that is in my opinion.

However, it may stop the bloody apathy within the public that this whole battle (and it's associated bullsh!t) has caused.

BT business customer contracts to change Thursday

Mark W

We should all vote with our feet..

Oh, silly me, no we can't (well, those of us lucky enough to live in non-cable areas anyway).

BT have a monopoly, and Ofcom are just useless. Just look at the telecoms market now they've fragmented BT Wholesale into Openreach - installations taking forever, and no way of chasing things up because Openreach are answerable to no-one. Just a total joke.

It would be nice for the 12-month rolling contract if BT Retail actually gave us customer service and so-on for our money, but unfortunately they're as stuffed with Openreach as the rest of us.

Vodafone takes Ofcom to court over number porting

Mark W

Porting in 5 Days?

Hehe. I wish it was 5 days.

Recently when I bought a new handset (you know the ones) I thought 'Oh - The PAC process will be really quick as I'm moving from O2 to O2'. 14 Days before it was ported.

And we've recently ported all our corporate handsets (circa 400 units) from Voda to Orange - likewise - with some ports having to have PAC codes regenerated because it took so long.

So if they can't do it in 5 days now, what's the chances of 2 hours becoming 2 weeks anyway? Makes no difference!

Woolworths stores to stop selling HD DVD

Mark W

Woolies Dead Anyway?

Is that the same Woolworths that seems to be closing stores hand over fist because they didn't stock anything apart from top 10 CD's and Games, and has been driven out of business by Tesco/Asda et. al. who still happily sell both formats, although I've noticed that even Tesco's HD-DVD section is getting smaller by the day :(

Still won't force me to buy a PS3 - even though it's the only currently sold Blu-Ray player that will eventually support Blu-Ray 2.0.

French tempted with €199 Eee PC HSDPA bundle

Mark W

@James Smith



:) Can we please get that added to the OED. :)

REALbasic for iPhone?

Mark W

iPhone's not actually bad value

It all depends what you want out of it.

For me (and probably most iPhone users) it's not the voice minutes we want, it's the unlimited data and wi-fi roaming that's worth every penny. This phone is a laptop in your pocket, and I can do pretty much everything I can do on my macbook on it - like ordering food from Tesco online, or booking cinema tickets etc..

If you consider I never ever use 200 minutes a month, my TCO for the iPhone is (£269+£35 pcm) = £899 for 18 months.

Compare this to an N95 8Gb which is the nearest phone people compare to it.

Current offer is £143.95 for the phone, £40 per month on an 18 month contract, plus only inclusive data of 512k, so anything above that will be chargeable, so for me would probably be 2 or 3Mb per month minimum will work out approx £10 per month extra. Since November when I got my iphone I've used 42Mb on EDGE/GPRS so realistically that would have cost me £126 so far for data charges. (it's circa £3 per Mb)

So total cost of ownership with 3Mb data usage is £143.95 + (18x(£40+£10)) = £1043.95, and that's just for starters.

(Tarriff is O2-400 connection for N95 8Gb)

If you get the phone for free, (and, say, a free xbox) you'll still end up paying £1000-£1200 over 18 months at a minimum, and probably more as the networks give you nothing for free....

All premium phones cost approx the same to run on monthly tarriffs - they just cut the cake differently dependent on tarriff.

UK nuke-power plans leak early

Mark W

Nuclear *is* safe, when used for power only...

Good post by Chronos - but the problem here is that the reason why there is so much waste is that up until the new builds in the late 60's, the power generated by nuclear power stations was a by-product. The primary purpose *was* to generate material for Nuclear Warheads, with the waste that goes with it.

When you look at current modern generations of Nuclear Power Stations that are designed to *just* generate power, they're safe, clean, and much better for the environment. Plus the fuel is cheap and plentiful too, on the scheme of things. And if you look at the future Thorium type reactors, even better because they can't run away.

Tesco Mobile complains to Ofcom

Mark W

iPhone Haters - sorry guys

For those of you who love to think the iPhone would be nobbled, you all forget there's a few main frequencies (at least) for 2G - 850, 900, 1800 and 1900.

In the UK we use 900 and 1800, and most of the mobile networks have started moving off 900 and onto 1800.

The iPhone is quad-band (850,900,1800,1900Mhz) which means that it won't make a blind bit of difference - especially because only 20% of the phone population are 3G handsets, and 3G coverage is minimal in the UK anyway. What about those of us who live outside London (yes, there is a country outside of London...)

The only likely outcome of this is 2G being 1800 only in the UK.

Mark W

Give it away, then pay for it later?

It's a bit rich for Ofcom, who seem to be single handedly screwing the telecoms industry for it's own political agenda and not in the public interests whatsoever.

It's a bit like giving someone a Christmas Present, and then going back to them 2 years later and saying 'Yeah - you know that present you got from me - I need the money for it now as I've had a change of heart'.

Someone needs to tell Ofcom to wind their necks in a little. Oh - that's right - they're a political quango. My mistake...

Ofcom investigates X-Factor debacle

Mark W

So What?

If only the people who voted in this karaoke competition actually voted in something that mattered (such as a general election) then maybe we'd be getting somewhere.

Oh. Actually. On the other hand, maybe it's a good thing....

'Extortionist' turns Wi-Fi thief to cover tracks

Mark W

WLAN Security

The bottom line is that anything that doesn't use at least WPA encryption is pretty much open anyway.

There's a few tools that enable WEP codes to be provided within seconds, and using simple and easily available Wifi sniffer tools I can not only get a hidden SSID, but also the MAC address of the card connecting to it and also the network setup of that card (so gateway/subnet/ip etc..).

So I can then spoof your MAC address to bypass MAC authentication, set up on a static IP address or just use the DHCP inside the network, use the cracked WEP code or if like one user, no encryption shown.

Even better, I can sit outside your house and sniff any plain text passwords you pass around to the internet which travels over your wifi, but being behind your firewall I can also roam around inside any machines behind your firewall or plant some trojans.

Nice, eh?

Ugly view mars Windows Vista birthday

Mark W

Business Barriers

The biggest business barrier is that unless you're running the bleeding edge revision of your main MIS systems, most companies have found that the applications don't run reliably on Vista as most corporates who have more than a couple of hundred PC's wouldn't upgrade from XP to Vista in one go and most Vista versions of MIS systems won't run on XP.

I have been running Vista as a demo on my laptop at work (I work in IT) and have found it to be mostly stable until I start using legacy applications where it becomes unstable, unreliable and very tetchy, to the point where I don't trust it. And if I have that experience as an IT Pro, I'm unlikely to roll it out to my customers and have them have the same experience and have to support that bad experience. All of us want our customers to have a good user experience and unfortunately at the moment Vista runs contrary to that - not only in reliability but the training required to get the average user up to speed with the major changes in the GUI (even I go 'WTF is that now...' even after using it for a couple of months), and most businesses won't lash out that kind of cash on training at the moment with us on the edge of a recession.

Don't forget - as a business IT person we're looking at making sure even the lowest common denominator is covered, otherwise it ends up with a complete world of pain!

So, is it that the transition to Vista is too much of a jump? Apropos of the same jump it would take to move a company to Mac OS for example (and I don't see many companies doing that either, even though I would love to see it!).

For the smart-arses with the 'but you can change the GUI to look like the old one' - it's much further reaching than that. Just look at Control Panel. Where's Add/Remove Programs? Oh yes, it's not there any more (well, it's not called Add/Remove Programs)....

Just my 2p worth.

Commuters shouting into their mobiles? Just jam 'em

Mark W

Car Controls Near Theatre

With relation to;

[quote].... I happen to know a cinema not far from here where, mysteriously, car alarms won't work in the car park behind the theatres, and while they do ask patrons to switch their phones off, I've yet to hear one ring. Perhaps the patrons are all saintly? [/quote]

Is there, by any chance, a 'Frankie and Benny's' near said cinema, or a similar chain of restaurants?

I have worked out what causes it, but it's not the Mobile Jammer in the cinema. Car keys don't work at mobile phone type frequencies (i.e. 850/900/1800/1900Mhz), but in the general spectrum band at 433Mhz, which just so happens to be the same frequency used by those Jtech 'your table is free' flashing and vibrating pagers they have in the restaurants. Except those things seem to broadcast on such a high power that they end up annihilating all car remote controls in a 50 yard radius.

Poll confirms Brits believe Jesus Phone salvation too costly

Mark W
Thumb Up

It's not that bad

I have to admit to having one now, and it is actually very very good. I've had Nokia's, Sony Ericsson's and HTC's in the past. It's got great potential too, especially when Apple get their act together and get the SDK out to the developers, and it's the most powerful smartphone around just in pure grunt.

From my personal experience;

1: Not having 3G is no loss to me - my previous two phones were 3G but I ended up disabling the 3G part of the phone because it ended up meaning they were dropping calls left right and centre (I live in Rural Yorkshire), and it murdered battery life. The Wifi setup on the iPhone is great and there's pretty easy to find 'The Cloud' wifi around most places you'd want to sit and surf / use the extended functionality.

2: I agree GPS would be nice, but it's not a leap of faith to use an off-board Bluetooth GPS device using the rather nice Google Maps functionality, so again it doesn't sap battery life. I have a TomTom which works great for in-car Satnav, so it's again no loss to me.

The problem with the iPhone is that we see all these funky stats and think 'It's missing this or that' but a huge percentage of people who have these phones (such as the N95) never use half of the functionality within it.

YMMV of course.

Chilis could struggle in 'Californication' lawsuit

Mark W
Thumb Down

In it for the money?

I saw the RHCP play at the Leeds Festival in August, and to be honest, they just looked plain bored, didn't interact at all, and it was a crap concert, and all of us in my group agreed that it wouldn't be long before they split up, and that they're only doing it for the money now.

It's a shame because Blood Sugar Sex Magik was a great album. Californication, however, was crap. Maybe they're just pissed that they didn't use the song as the theme tune because it would have inflated their bank accounts?

Euro HD DVD camp clams up on format sales figures

Mark W

US Discs

You all seem to forget a little thing called 'Region Coding'. It was the one sticking point with DVD's which made quite a few people lots of money to 'region free' your machines until most DVD manufacturers built in a simple remote control hack.

HD-DVD's are, by design, region free. I also happen to have a region free DVD player ('adjusted' Panasonic DVD-R).

So I can buy my daughter 'Ratatouille' which is already out on DVD in the USA and play it on my DVD player here at 480p. I don't think it's finished in the Cinema here in the UK. And although it's rarer now, it still happens quite alot, and I still buy the odd DVD from the USA, or HD-DVD.

However if I had a PS3 or UK Blu-Ray player, I couldn't buy the US Blu-Ray copy of Ratatouille and play it in my player because it won't play. And worse luck if I try to amend or 'hack' the player to do so, it reputedly has the option to brick the player as the player occasionally authorises the playback online and updates encryption keys.

Compare that to the HD-DVD of Shrek 3 which I've also had for a couple of weeks also from the USA, which comes out next week, and plays quite nicely at 720p on my Xbox360's HD-DVD drive (as does the full series of Heroes which I also have on HD-DVD which has been out in the USA for months).