* Posts by AOD

109 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Jun 2009


How many remote controls do you really need? Answer: about a bowl-ful


Device databases are your friend

Despite the fact that they've recently announced their withdrawal from the remote control market, the Logitech Harmony units are very useful.

The touchscreen model 1100 can drive an IR blaster/extender that sits in your equipment cabinet and setup is made vastly easier by the software asking intelligent questions about:

What devices you have

What order do they need to be powered on/off in?

What is used to control the volume/channel etc for a given scenario?

It then builds "activities" for you based on those and off you go. You can still try and learn commands from the old remotes if you *really* need to but the device database makes that redundant in most cases. Oh and it gets the concept of discrete codes as well.

I'm on my second (the first was killed by being dropped by a sproglet one too many times) and it's happily driving a dumb panel (Pioneer Kuro) along with various AV receiver, Apple TV, Blu ray, Sky boxes (to name a few).

It passes the wife test as well.

The wrong guy: Backup outfit Spanning deleted my personal data, claims Cohesity field CTO


Re: If you cannot touch it do not complain when it evaporates

Yes Crashplan for home users *used* to be good.

Peer to peer backups were available in addition to storing in their cloud (unlimited for a price).

The peer to peer stuff could even handle making the initial backup to a storage device locally (eg at full speed), detaching it and giving it to your neighbour, family member etc and from that point on it only had to transmit the deltas via the Internet which made things a lot more viable.

The NAS versions took a bit of tinkering to get working but I ran a setup for several years until they gave home users the old Spanish archer.

Clop ransomware gang leaks online what looks like stolen Bombardier blueprints of GlobalEye radar snoop jet


Not the voice of experience speaking...

Whilst I haven't worked with Accellion itself there are plenty of other similar file transfer/workflow type packages out there.

Why not SFTP you cry? Well for one thing, these platforms tend to offer lots of features that companies find genuinely useful without having to roll their own and usually support various different transfer/authentication options *including* SFTP, IP address whitelisting etc.

Maybe you want to push files to a remote server, perhaps you wish to be able to see the time and date that a client logged in to pull their files. Perhaps the recipient requests that certain files be retransmitted because they had a processing issue on their side.

None of the above is hideously complex, but it is non-trivial if you want it to work well and not have an interface that stinks.

Looking for the perfect Valentine's gift? How about a week of retro gaming BBC Microlympics?


Best Beeb music award goes to...

My favourite music of all on the Beeb had to be the "hidden" music in the loader for Frak!

If you were naughty enough to copy the game, the loader would then play the theme music for Captain Pugwash.

Oh and I did make it to Elite as well. Was rather chuffed when I did.

One other thing to keep in mind as well was that the Disc version actually had missions as well. I can still remember the adrenaline hit when the screen flashed up "Incoming Message" after docking.

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Right on Commander!

Ahh Elite. I remember playing the BBC version, initially due to the number of keys involved my brother and I shared the flight controls and weapons. Later as I got more proficient I would happily operate the Cobra Mk III single crewed Started with the Tape version and then progressed to the Disc version where the docking computer would actually manoeuvre you in. It would sometimes botch the docking and you'd end up scraping paint or exploding.

Once docking was mastered I could dock manually at full speed and as far as combat was concerned, I could run away at full speed, switch to the rear view and happily treat my pursuer to a viewport full of military laser fire.

Then played again on the Archimedes and the Risc PC. Now I occasionally take the XBOX version for a spin. Having Norman Lovett (the original Holly from Red Dwarf) providing the voice for the cockpit voice assistant (or COVAS) is sublime.

The curse of knowing a bit about IT: 'Could you just...?' and 'No I haven't changed anything'

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Re: Sorting other people's stuff

This particular nerdy geek has an old HP Elitebook (owned from new) with a 2nd Gen i7, 16GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD (thanks Black Friday). It manages to boot from cold to the Windows login screen in around 10 secs.

Admittedly the machine isn't much use for playing games but it can do everything else I need and I can service the damm thing myself if needed. The battery won't hold more than an hour's charge but given that I'm not slinging it in a backpack to pull out at my nearest Starbucks, who cares?

Meanwhile my daughter has managed to kill a couple of HP Pavilions in the space of a couple of years. I decided to bite the bullet and when her last machine got trashed, I replaced it with a (relatively) up to date Elitebook convertible (not purchased from new since that would be daft) which it if lasts for 4 to 5 years, will be doing well given it's basically for docs, vids and t'interweb.

Thought you'd go online to buy better laptop for home working? Too bad, UK. So did everyone. Laptops, monitors and WLANs fly off shelves


Re: Delays

Windows 10 is surprisingly usable on my nine year old HP Elitebook (8460p i7 2nd Gen)

Of course the 16GB of Ram and Samsung SSD probably have quite a bit to do with it as well.

There is something rather satisfying about plonking it into its docking station and driving twin screens from it (it could manage 4 if I had them) with a full size keyboard and an actual mouse.

Today will be assembling a desk for the better half to use this lot with (from IKEA as it happens). Assembled one last night for daughter to use so she can have a keyboard/mouse/screen with her laptop.

Planning to run all the laptops over Powerline Ethernet and leave the wifi for browsing and occasional streaming. One of the times you really appreciate having a reliable Broadband connection.

Ever had a script you just can't scratch? Excel on the web now has just the thing


Re: As always, etc...

Auditing Excel spreadsheets and their associated VBA code is a solved issue.

Google "how to audit and version control your excel spreadsheets" for the lowdown.

Chef roasted for tech contract with family-separating US immigration, forks up attempt to quash protest


Build process not fit for purpose

If you're shipping a product then as mentioned by another commenter, you want the versions of the various components to be set in stone and always available so the build can be recreated at any time.

One option I imagine is to stick your own repository between your build chain and the public one(s), slurp the relevant code into that and then build against that.

There are products to assist with that (Artifactory?) which I've seen deployed in environments where products were only for internal use (eg Banks).

When it comes to building your software, if the build can be tripped up by an external dependency/repository issue then it's not robust and therefore not fit for purpose.

Fraudster convicted of online banking thefts using… whatever the hell this thing is


There's an app for that

Hi, Clippy here.

It looks like you're trying to drain some accounts, would you like some help with that?

A Reg-reading techie, a high street bank, some iffy production code – and a financial crash


Re: On time, on budget, good quality. Pick two

@Mike 125,

Since I haven't looked at the code in question in more than 20 years you'll forgive me if it's not a direct cut & paste. Basically pointer objects on either side of an assignment using shorthand increment operations against both objects.

Looks cool? Sure!

Easy to trace through, debug & maintain? No.

Your assertion about tools being broken, well it was Microsoft C++ 1.52 (if memory serves) and I already explained that the optimising behaviour changed between certain releases. Don't forget we're not discussing the syntactical correctness here per se, more whether just because you *can* code something in a certain way doesn't mean you necessarily should.

My first task when I entered software development was maintenance coding. That exposed me to some other utter horrors and gave valuable first hand experience of "I don't ever want to write anything that resembles this pile of fetid dingo's kidneys".


Re: On time, on budget, good quality. Pick two

@Mike 125

Not trying to be clever, just my 2p worth on when inappropriate use of shorthand operators (whether for assignment or increment/decrement) can bite you hard, as personally observed in real live commercial code.

The code in question was using pointers on either side of the assignment and each of the pointer expressions had a trailing increment, so something like:

lpCurrent++ = lpNext++;

At which point in executing that line each of the pointers would be incremented was dependent on the implementation behaviour of the relevant compiler (MS C as it happened).

Oh and another reason to break out the operations into multiple steps. Some debuggers will treat a single source line as an atomic operation when stepping through so if you want to debug it and see what's happening, good luck.

The age of the language isn't really relevant here, of more concern is how well it's used.

My "write for wetware" comment stands.


Re: On time, on budget, good quality.

If you want to get a idea of how long something might take, you'd perhaps present the folks who are likely to be doing the actual work with some details of what's expected (lets call that a specification) and after they review it, they give you a steer on how long it's likely to take (lets call that an estimate).

But surely that's just crazy talk??

Most inhouse projects I've seen, the timescales have no such "informed" estimates, more like a particular senior PHB has picked an arbitrary line in the sand (perhaps bonus related??) and that's your lot.

One particular investment back I worked in, I saw graduates who came into their development groups, clamouring to leave after perhaps a year or two as it was so soul destroying. There was no mentoring or training in good development practise. More like what's the maximum we can get with the bare minimum, no exceptions.

Corners weren't just cut, they were butchered.


On time, on budget, good quality. Pick two

When I started as a C developer many moons ago working on a piece of commercial software, the focus was firmly on quality/testing etc.

Especially if you wanted to charge your then customers £5k a seat for the product in question.

Since then I've been through a number of different organisations, most recently they tend to be financial (banks or hedge funds).

Without exception, every financial outfit I've seen that develops software in-house isn't looking for the resulting system to be good (in quality terms), it has to be "just good enough" to be released (escape?) into Production and then spend the remainder of it's lifespan being propped up with manual bodges/hacks to keep things going (semi-)swimmingly.

As for shorthand increment/decrement operators, I have direct experience of the clusterfuck that can arise from using those, particularly if you have them on both sides of an assignment. We had a library that couldn't be built in debug mode due to a change in compiler behaviour which meant it no longer worked unless it was a release (optimised) build.

Finally one day I got so annoyed with it I went through the source, found the offending statements and replaced them with the longhand equivalents. Never had another issue after that with the bonus of making it transparent what got incremented and in which order.

Tl:dr version? Write for wetware, let the compiler do the smart stuff.

Who's that at Ring's door? Why, it's Skybell with a begging cup, er, patent rip-off lawsuit


A home Google product? I'll pass thanks.

Google have a pretty abysmal record of offloading products/services when they feel like it as they're not core to their business.

Absolutely no way in Hades I'd consider any of the physical Google products (Nest, their mesh Wi-Fi etc) for just that reason.

If you absolutely must have a connected home product, go with a vendor who has that as their core business and also look at whether they support any relevant open standards (ONVIF etc) that facilitate usage with other relevant bits of equipment (like a NAS to record the video locally for example).

Cheeky IT rival parks 'we're hiring' van outside 'vote Tory' firm Storm Technologies


10% tax, since when?

So are you suggesting that he only paid 10% tax on a dividend of lets say £1 million?

Seems a tad unlikely, the old 10% rate on dividends only applied to a basic rate tax payer. Once you exceed the basic rate (which a £1 mill + dividend would do pretty easily) then it gets taxed at progressively higher rates, depending on which band you end up in.

Further details available here:


How to remote hijack computers using Intel's insecure chips: Just use an empty login string


M$ grade Fubar

My i7 toting HP Elitebook is one such machine, although out of the box, AMT, VPro etc is not enabled.

Accessing the ports listed in the article just gives a message saying there's no active Intel Management Engine (IME) available to do anything. I went a wandering in the BIOS and found some related options which I've studiously left disabled. Not good though that there's a webserver on those ports telling you anything in the first place though. Sounds like some router based port blocking is in order...

Not wishing to downplay the severity, but from what I understand of vPro etc, if your machine (like mine) has discrete graphics, the VNC remote control option is not available. it only works with Intel embedded graphics which a lot of machines don't have enabled at all. Business users would probably have no need for discrete graphics (Interwebs, Excel etc) but as a home user, the GPU does come in handy for video editing (although not being a patch on something like an RX 480).

However, in a corporate environment I can see this creating a veritable sh1tstorm. If you can get physical access to the corporate network, then I shudder to think what sort of nasties could end up doing the rounds.

Married man arrives at A&E with wedding ring stuck on todger



Title says it all...

BA check-in system checks out: Staff flung back to cruel '90s world of paper


Cabin Pressure...

Don't forget folks that if you were delayed by a significant amount of time due to today's issues that you should claim the compensation you're entitled to.

Details can be found here on BA's site:


Oh and if BA drag their heels on the compo, feel free to use money claim online to help jog things along.


Reading between the lines for the issues today, one does rather wonder why they didn't use their secondary (DR) system (I'm presuming they have one) or whether that was also borked as well?

Wi-Fi hack disables Mitsubishi Outlander's theft alarm – white hats


Yet another kind of drive-by

The only way that this will get the focus it deserves is if customers and insurers react in the same way as back in the 80's when hot hatch nicking was at it's peak. One of the results of that was Thatcham which slowly dragged (UK) car security (and manufacturers) into the (then) current century.

Once insurers started pusing premiums to eye watering levels, customers sat up and took notice, as did car manufacturers when their sales started going through the floor.

It took a while but before long, certain brands started including Thatcham alarm/immobilisers as standard fit items rather than as options.

Thatcham need to take a similar view on automotive cybersecurity as well with either an equivalent to Cat 1 or even better, make it part of the Cat 1 certification.

Microsoft won't back down from Windows 10 nagware 'trick'


Re: Rollback option still there?

Allegedly up to a month post "upgrade" you could still rollback.

I updated 2 machines at home, one a Toshiba Ultrabook (SSD + i5) and a HP Elitebook (SSD + i7).

The Tosh is now pretty much unusable even for basic browsing in Chrome which previously was perfectly nippy.

The Elitebook fared better (perhaps the 16GB RAM helped) but I had steam coming out of my ears when I realised the previously sensible Windows import for photos & videos (you know, the one where you can choose which folders each media type goes to, how to label them etc) had been removed/disabled. Instead we had a "prettified" W10 offering called "Photos".

Only when I stumbled across this article on DP Review was I able to restore the feature. But it begs the question, why in the blazes was it disabled in the first place?

As I have full images for both machines (courtesy of CloneZilla) at some point very soon I shall be saying fuckity bye to W10. This latest piece of blatant Microsoft middle fingering just makes me want to get back there even sooner.

'Printer Ready'. Er… you actually want to print? What, right now?


It's A4 or the highway....

I too was suitably annoyed with the attitude of iOS towards printers, but then I read a review for these and decided to try one:

Lantronix xPrintServer

If it works with your printer model(s) then you'll find it works well.

No other connection with the company than been using one at home for a couple of years now. It means the sproglets and Mrs. AOD can print from their iFads etc to our decent networked Canon laser printer that does double sided umpteen pages a minute (oh and it has a sensible setting to tell print jobs to f*ck right off and stick with A4 whatever they may think).

Linux fans may be in for disappointment with SQL Server 2016 port


What features will be supported?

I'd like to know what tools & features will be available. For example it's one thing being able to run the DB on Linux, what about things like Sql Server Management Studio, Sql Server Reporting Services and Sql Server Integration Services?

Not a fanboi for either side, I've developed and supported systems against both Oracle (PL/SQL) and Sql Server (T-SQL) and think both have their merits. Oracle is painful without decent 3rd party tools such as Toad, whereas SSMS is pretty fully featured without resorting to 3rd party apps.

Revealed: Why Amazon, Netflix, Tinder, Airbnb and co plunged offline


Re: No exponential backoff?

I could be wrong here but I have a hazy memory from my CompSci degree that for Ethernet CSMA/CD the whole point of the exponential backoff and retry was that your retry period was randomly chosen to be between 1 and 2 to the power of your retry attempt (based on what your slot/interval time was).

From Wikipedia:

After c collisions, a random number of slot times between 0 and 2c - 1 is chosen

Otherwise you'd have clients that clashed at the same time continually clashing as they all try again at the same time.

Anytime I've seen a "dumb" retry approach in a production system, (hey, lets wait 3 seconds between retries and give up after 3 attempts) this always springs to mind and I'm frightened by how many folk haven't a clue when I mention it.

18-wheeler robot juggernaut hits Nevada's highways. Cower, fleshies!


What's your 20?

Let me be the first to welcome our self driving/navigating overlords.

Belgium to the rescue as UK consumers freeze after BST blunder

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As an owner of neither a Nest or Hive thermostat, I'm happy to report that the GMT/BST switch was a complete non-event for our tado°.

It happily started pre-heating the house as per usual to ensure it was toasty warm just as I had to roll out of bed.

Apple Watch: Wait a minute! This puny wrist-puter costs 17 GRAND?!

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Re: What's that sound?

> How about a muffin?


Have a +1 from me for the Dwarfer's reference.

For anybody who doesn't have a smeg what we're dribbling on about, have a look at this:


Office MACROS PERIL! Age-old VBScript tactic is BACK in biz attack


Reg sub editor not yet recovered from Xmas excesses?

The headline wittering on about VBScript misses one small but rather salient point.

VBScript is not VBA.

The two may be closely related but they are distinct. VBScript is a lightweight scripting language, VBA is a programming language embedded within an MS Office app such as Excel, Word, Access.

Although they share a lot of similarities (reserved words, flow control mechanisms) they are not the same thing. For example, in VBScript, all variables are treated as Variant, whereas in VBA (and VB) they can be strongly typed (eg String, Integer etc).

I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations

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Time's Arrow...

Not a movie, but the current Syfy show "Continuum" is quite enjoyable and looks at some of the issues around changing the past and what that could mean for the future (present?).

Episodes are available on Netflix for anybody interested in taking a look.

BTW, the title was dredged up from memory recesses before a quick Wikipedia pointed out that this was used as the title for a couple of STTNG episodes.

The cloud that goes puff: Seagate Central home NAS woes


Re: Backup software?

Crashplan will allow you to backup your chosen directories to an external USB drive.

If you want to backup data to your NAS, my advice would be to be to setup an iSCSI share that then gives you an extra drive accessible to your Windows machine. Then you save to a folder within that.

The following article gives the lowdown on this.

Also, have a +1 from me for the RISCOS reference as a previous Archimedes/RISC PC (A710 and StrongARM) owner.

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Re: Share the risk

Some of the backup software makes it very easy to share in this manner.

For example, the Crashplan client allows you to do this without paying them for any cloud storage. You can backup to remote "friend" machines and even better, you can seed an initial backup locally onto an external drive that is then taken to your friend's house (aka "offsite") and plugged in there. Subsequent backups will then only transfer the deltas (eg new/changed data).

For the record, I have a paid plan with Crashplan, but no other connection with the company than that.


Re: Having gone through this myself

As a Qnap owner (TS410 - running in RAID 5) I had my first near miss when I found the box wasn't responding one day. A visual inspection showed 2 of the 4 drives were red (degraded). A reboot didn't help and only when I hard power cycled the unit (cleanly, I should add) did it all come back to life with 4 good drives and everything intact.

It wasn't clear what had caused this til I noticed the clock on our oven was flashing 12:00 constantly. Seemingly during the night the power must have dropped out for a short period, resulting in an unhappy NAS.

The box is used mostly for storing our media library (physical media in loft being a form of backup) but also family photos as well. After that episode, my next purchase was a UPS to prevent a power related issue, but I then also set about ensuring the photos were mirrored both to another server (HP Microserver running Xenserver with a Quantastor VM) but also to multiple "cloud" destinations including Crashplan, Livedrive and Amazon S3. For the record, the Microserver "listens" to the UPS via the QNAP and also gets notified of "on battery" events so it can cleanly shutdown should the need arise.

Boxing clever? Amazon Fire TV is SO CLOSE to being excellent


No way to stream local media??

If you want to playback local media on your FireTV, then you can sideload XBMC/Kodi onto it and get your NAS hosted content that way.

I've picked up one of these recently (got it on Pre-order for £49) and I have to say it is a decent bit of kit. I'm seriously thinking about a second and retiring my 2 x 2nd Gen Apple TVs (also running XBMC).

Not sure what the going rate is for jailbroken ATV2s these days but it would probably help pay towards the Gaming PC I want to get for Elite Dangerous.

The only niggle I have is that the power cord has an external brick whereas the Apple TV is just a standard figure 8 two pin affair. The other niggle is that the use of Bluetooth also makes it harder to integrate into setups that make use of universal remotes/IR extenders (a la PS3) but a quick Google shows that there are solutions for this as well.

Airbus promises Wi-Fi – yay – and 3D movies (meh) in new A330

Black Helicopters

Re: Long haul

Go via CDG, really?

My own experience of CDG is that terminal changes are painful in the extreme (having to endure the extended bus ride/sight seeing tour that a change entails) to say nothing of having to go back through security again on reentry to the terminal (so not a proper airside transit).

Lets not forget the joys of dodging falling bits of roof either, I'm all for making travel more exciting but there are times when less is more.

Finally, some airlines (looking at you Air France) have scheduled flights with insane connection times (eg 1 hour between an inbound transatlantic flight and a departing hop to LHR) that require them to station somebody at the steps of the inbound aircraft with your name on a board. They will then whisk you away in their Citroen/Renault van to your departure gate in the other terminal.

Presumably, they do this due to experience telling them that pax are unlikely to make the outbound in time if they have to take the tour. I would hope that they no longer do this, but if you see a connection time of 1 hour or just over in your itinerary, be concerned.


Nightmare at 20,000 feet...

3D, on a plane? Hmm, no thanks. Still not persuaded that it's worth any of my money on terra firma, never mind whilst defying gravity.

Airlines, if you want to add something that might actually enhance our entertainment experience, encode your movies for/with Dolby Headphone.

The movies will still have a stereo soundtrack, but even with the coke tins + string affairs that get handed out in cattle class it will give us some semblance of surround sound, assuming it can block out the sound of the onboard a/c. You won't have to upgrade your equipment (unless it's so bad that you have to reset it several times per flight (looking at you here BA) ) so you score on that front as well.

Brits stung for up to £625 when they try to cancel broadband


ISP billing bollocks

Several moons ago Pipex were my ISP of choice having established a decent service and also as they were one of the early UK ISPs to jump on the broadband wagon (I still recall sending in my trusty US Robotics 33.6 whistler and getting back a shiny Fujitsu ADSL modem in exchange).

Anyway, I migrated from them (cleanly, MAC code etc) to Nildram, then Be and now Plusnet.

However, around 18 months after leaving Pipex, I saw a direct debit going out of my account that I didn't recognise for a couple of hundred pounds.

I did some digging with the bank (Abbey, in their pre Santander guise when their service was resonable) and found that Pipex/Tiscali had taken the money.

Following up with Pipex/Tiscali, it transpired that although I had migrated away cleanly, some part of their monolithic billing platform hadn't got the relevant memo. It still thought I was a customer and should be paying them. Apparently they had a "sweeper" team that would look at accounts such as these and then follow up on getting the money.

In this instance, they had my account details still on record (I switched my payment to Direct Debit just before leaving them so I could cancel the instruction myself). Several broadband related sites at the time were rife with horror stories about attempting to rescind card payment authorities when leaving/migrating and often advised customers to switch to DD as they left to sidestep this issue.

Pipex had setup another Direct Debit against my current account without my permission or knowledge using the historic details and then used this to obtain the payment in question.

I contacted their high profile incident team and let them know in no uncertain terms what I thought of their behaviour (tantamount to fraud in my opinion) and ensured that I got my money back along with some extra for my time/compensation.

The stupidest part was, my old user account/details still worked on their legacy customer site and I could clearly see where one system said "long gone", vs the other one that cluelessly thought I should still be forking over my hard earned each month. So, if I could see that, why the feck didn't their "sweeper" team? Doubly ironic when you consider that they were supposed to be in the communications business.

BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu


clocKwize, salvation is at hand

You can send destinations direct from Google Maps, an example of how to do do can be seen in this video:


Google may have recently restricted this so you have to be signed in with a Google id/account, but the facility is there.


Move over Miss Daisy

The app in the UK doesn't allow you to sound the horn as that would contravene the Highway Code.

Neither does it allow you check if the vehicle is locked. It allows you to remotely lock or unlock (that much is true), but it won't show if the vehicle is locked/unlocked before you send that request.

The only truly useful part of the app (from my perspective) is the ability to search for a destination on my phone and then squirt that to the in car nav system.

With regard to bad driving on UK motorways, yes I see plenty of middle lane hoggers and folks treating the indicators (turn signals for our US audience) as some sort of optional extras.

Personally, I keep to the left and pull out as required (with signalling so other drivers don't have to rely on telepathy). Additionally, if I'm passing a vehicle in the left lane (or about to) and I can see based on their relative speed that they will need to pull out to pass the vehicle in front of them, I will move to the outer lane to give them space to make that manoeuvre. It's part consideration for others but it's also a defensive move as well, part of what my instructor referred to as "reading the road". How many times have you seen somebody get way too close to the vehicle in front and then suddenly pull out to overtake with no warning (and probably no check of what's next to them)?

Barclays Bank counter staff to become iPad-toting 'community bankers'


Re: Horror Stories with these machines!!

I can hear the machines now:

"Unexpected customer in counter area"...

Say goodbye to the noughties: Yesterday’s hi-fi biz is BUSTED, bro


Re: Not another latest and greatest

I wish my last Denon separates had lasted 12yrs plus.

Our supposed reference grade DVD-3930 player curled up its toes after less than 3 years due to a crapped out laser. Bear in mind that this puppy was retailing for £1,000 when it launched (we didn't pay anything like that when we purchased it in 2007) and it lived in a dedicated equipment cabinet so overheating shouldn't have been an issue. Can you imagine how I would have felt if I'd been spanked for the full price for one of these?

More recently, our SR7002 AV amp from Marantz (another part of the Denon empire) died having reached the grand old age of 6 years old. Not that impressive as again the unit was well looked after and also kept in an cabinet away from tiny fingers etc). It didn't get a huge amount of use and when looking for a replacement, I studiously avoided any Denon/Marantz offerings and went straight for a Yamaha instead.

The fact that Yamaha will back their stuff up with a 3 year warranty speaks volumes for their faith in the kit. Sure some other brands go even further (eg Bryston will warranty for 20 years), but those items usually carry genuinely eye watering price tags.

In terms of the whole hi fi busted lark, at the end of the day, it's up to the individual how they spend their money. If you can hear a difference and can afford it, then by all means. If you can't hear a difference, then why bother spending the extra?

We got behind the wheel of a Tesla S electric car. We didn't hate it


Bit different to an i3

Yes the BMW i3 is perhaps a bit more oddball compared with the Tesla but then again, it's around half the price of the basic Model S and it has the option for a range extender that you can just top up should you get a serious case of range anxiety.

In the interests of balance, we were at the San Diego Zoo last year and when we parked up, spotted a saloon that initially I thought was a Maserati but on closer inspection turned out to be a Model S.

As I hadn't seen one in the flesh before I took the opportunity to have a good look and came away thinking it was a great looking piece of machinery. The solar charging station in the car park (or parking lot) was a very nifty idea as it served both to shield the cars from the full force of the California sun and to charge them at the same time.

Got to say though, if I was in the position to drop £100k on a lump of metal, I can't help thinking I'd probably rather have an i8 instead.

Who needs a ride-on mower when a ROBOT will cut your grass


@ Dave Bell

Don't forget the requirement to have a horse called Binky...

Home automation while it's hot: Winter warmth for lazy technophiles


Tado for me

I picked up a Tado back at the start of the year when they were still offering free installation.

To date it's been completely trouble free and the bit that I think will probably save the most energy is that I can control the heating and hot water totally independently.

The old 7 day Drayton timer didn't have the ability to do that so Tado ensures that it's not trying to heat water for us at 10pm. Also, as the main Tado thermostat (aside from being solar powered) is portable, if you're working/using a particular part of the house on a given day, just take the thermostat with you. They have plans to add thermostats for additional zones but nothing concrete on that yet.

I also added a bunch of the Pegler Terrier iTemps that are cheaper than most of the electronic TRVs on the market and although they can't be centrally controlled, they can be easily programmed via a USB stick and can hook up with open window sensors that are pretty cheap.

Tado also knows about the outside temperature as well (via it's Internet connection) so it can optimise when it starts heating in the morning to reach a particular setpoint.

British Gas Twitter account hijacked by mystery phishermen


Login cred-stealing scammers get in, mayhem ensues?

Reg head/strap writers, I think you've missed a trick with this one.

Surely an excellent alternative would have been the annoyingly twee advertising slogan that British Gas used to employ in the past, eg:

Don't you just love being in control?

Providing an excellent demonstration of the same is the late Bob Hoskins.

Google's too-smart-for-own-good Nest Protect alarm is back on sale


Re: "making random hand gestures could sometimes switch the alarms off"

My variation on the middle finger is to use that on my Win 7 laptops to login via the fingerprint sensor to the single admin account.

This is solely used for software installs and not used interactively for net access. All other access is through "normal" user accounts, usually via my index finger.

There's just something satisfying about giving Microsoft the finger....


Re: Always wondered about this.

You're welcome.

As for the TRV's being complicated, once you've set it up, your mum wouldn't need to touch them. There are other TRV's that look perhaps less intimidating such as:


Danfoss Living Connect

But they cost more. Also, they don't have any way to interlink with open window sensors etc which the Peglers do. For example, we regularly open our bathroom window to air the room after the shower has been used. There's a window sensor that causes the TRV in the bathroom to effectively close itself so we're not trying to heat the garden when the window is left open.

Once the window is closed, the TRV then reverts to whatever temperature is programmed for the time of the day.


Re: Always wondered about this.

@ I ain't Spartacus

For something that can be easily driven from an iPhone, etc, take a look at Tado

It does require an Internet connection to work, but you have options for controlling based on presence detection (or not as the case may be). You can also schedule the Hot Water and Heating completely independently (should you require).

The thermostat can be placed anywhere and is solar powered so no pesky batteries to replace frequently.

As far as avoiding the nightmare of duff TRVs (thermostatic radiator valves) consider something like the Pegler Terrier iTemps as described here.

The best prices I found for those (they give a free one when you buy 3) was from these folks. You can get a USB programming stick as well that makes setting them up less of a chore.

I have all of these and whilst it's too early to tell if they're saving me money, the house was definitely more comfortable to be in when it was colder, earlier in the year. I like the fact that unlike our old heating controller, I can tell Tado to only heat water in the morning which should be saving energy.

Netflix FREEZES prices for existing UK users to stop them quitting vid-streaming service


RE: VPN usage

Don't bother with a VPN. Yes you can use them for your PC but using one on a console or other media player is decidely non trivial.

Use a DNS based service such as www.unotelly.com instead which means you get to stream at the full speed of your connection and as I understand it, it's less trivial to block than a VPN. Oh, and as it's DNS based, you can use it with any Netflix client where you can set the DNS.

With this I can choose to access the US or UK Netflix catalog (amongst others). I can also access BBC iPlayer when I'm overseas using this as well.

Performing an Oracle database health check? We have a little list


And now for a word from our sponsors...

This does read like a thinly veiled plug for TOAD doesn't it or is it just me?

Personally I have nothing bad to say about it having used it for development purposes (better than Pl/SQL Developer in my experience and light years ahead of the standard Oracle offerings) but come on folks. Could it have been maybe a bit less gushing?

What about offering some guidance to folks that have to live with SQL Server or Sybase instead?

As another reg commenter pointed out, a good DBA should have proactive monitoring in place already for which there are several excellent tools. Which ones to look at I shall leave as an exercise for the reader.

Cost-cutting Barclays bank swings axe on 5,600 IT and ops bods


Re: Too true

Couldn't agree more. Had an agent calling the other day asking about roles and mentioned some upcoming contract positions at Barcrap that he'd love to speak with me about.

I advised him not to bother and explained that I didn't particularly want to work in a company that adopted such an unprofessional approach to contractual agreements.