* Posts by S

22 publicly visible posts • joined 15 May 2007

Office 2010 tech preview leaks onto interwebs

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Ribbon = good

I've been using Office 2007 for over a year now as part of their student offer (bought it for £40) and I really like it.

I used Office 2000 and 2003 extensively during school and I really prefer the ribbon interface - it's a lot more logical to get to features you haven't used before.

Sure, most people tend to dislike it because they don't know where anything is anymore - to them I say 'meh, get with the times'. It's a change for the better IMO.

As for the changes introduced by 2010, they seem to have added the ribbon interface to all programs. (e.g. Visio 2007 doesn't have it but 2010 does.)

Teens reject Microsoft's Zune



I should really hurry up and get a Zune. It seems that there are so few manufacturers offering a straightforward MP3 player with a large hard drive anymore. I've got 50 odd GB of music and I'd like to listen to any of it when I'm on holiday. Don't ever plan on buying an iPod and joining the masses.

Cambridge congestion charge plans shelved


As someone living (or rather studying) in Cambridge

It seems like a silly city. As someone previously mentioned, the bus services are awful. They seem to shut ridiculously early, so if you do live slightly out of the town center, and don't want to cycle, your choices are either a massively expensive taxi or to walk.

As for people driving in from outside Cambridge, I'm not really sure. Park & Ride seems to have worked well, but I know my parents usually prefer to drive into the centre for convenience - but this is usually off peak.

It's not really big enough to merit a congestion charge - the traffic is usually quite bad on the arterial routes in and out of the centre, but fine otherwise. I actually think there's more traffic where I live, in Watford - and there's never been talk of a congestion charge. Then again, the Cambridge council may not be useless like the Watford council are.

There might also be something in the actual layout of Cambridge - it seems that most locals commute in from nearby villages or towns - there's no easy way to get in without driving. That might be a very difficult thing to change.

Heaviest Virgin Media downloaders face new daytime go-slow



I'm not too fussed, I think I'd struggle to reach the cap nowadays.

We've been with Cable + Wireless, NTL, Virgin Media etc. for about 7 years now - it was annoying when they started capping our 2 meg connection - because it was very easy to go over 1 gig. We're now on the XL package (unfortunately ADSL isn't available at high speed in our area).

Now, with a 6 gig cap, I'm not sure, unless you download high def. rips of movies which are up to about 10 gig in size - for these, they take too long to download during the day anyway, so I leave them on overnight which is outside the 'dangerous' period. On an average day, even with relatively high usage, I'd probably consume at most, 3 gig, plus whatever the rest of the family use.

Anyway, it's a lot of Linux disc images, and a *lot* of iPlayer. I can't really see this being such a huge issue, especially since you'd have to be doing something fairly illegitimate (at the moment) to consume that much bandwidth. Tell me if I'm wrong though.

That said, I have noticed that the net slows down horribly in the evening period, I wonder if that is because of the cap (I doubt it though) or because of the heavy traffic over the whole network.

Bring on fibre I say!

Logitech Z Cinema advanced surround sound system


Too Expensive

I had a set of Logitech ZX-2300s, they were awesome speakers. Solid amount of sound, very decent quality *and* they cost less than my old Sony mini-HiFi. (They were £95 from eBuyer when I bought them).

These seem to be quite a bit more :-\.

2.1 systems are quite handy when you don't have the shelves behind you, or are a student and need to move your computer quite often (as I do).

Lib Dem mayor candidate jumps aboard muni Wi-Fi failboat


Such a waste of money

Why spend money providing such horrible bandwidth in the most connected city in England.

It would be better off providing better wired connections that weren't capped at 24 megabit (if you're really lucky)...

Paper clip attack skewers Chip and PIN


Ross Anderson

"Other fields, from as voting machines to electronic medical record systems, suffer from the same combination of stupid mistakes, sham evaluations and obstructive authorities."

We had Ross Anderson as a lecturer for our 2nd year Computer Science Software Engineering course. He seems quite battle hardened, and seemed very bitter throughout it all! So this statement sounds entirely like our lecture course.

Legal, major label DRM-free MP3s hit UK (at last)


Quality, obviously

MP3 is *not* the same quality as you can get from ripping your own CD. Why pay the same for half a product.

Like others have said - All of Mp3 was able to reasonably reencode music for everyone to use, why can't any of these companies?

I'd love to buy my music in FLAC and then convert it to whatever I want to use - there's really not a huge amount of need to buy music for my collection in a lossy format - not when hard disk capacity is so cheap. Fair enough it's more useful for my MP3 player, but that can be dealt with later.

Only if the cost is suitably cheaper than buying a CD though...

Text-to-pee service launched

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But what?

I'm not sure about the general public, but I have difficulty using my phone when I'm intoxicated.

I'm also more likely to need the toilet after an evening of drinking.

So it's likely that I wouldn't be able to text the toilet to get it to open for me...

Palm admits new OS 18 months away



I really wish Palm would come out with a new update soon! I really like Palm devices, but it's dragging on so much...and I want to buy a new phone, but no, there is no Palm device for me to upgrade too...

So it looks like Symbian, but my money application program is Palm OS only. Plus I hate Outlook, so I'm using Palm Desktop. As far as I know, Sunbird isn't nearly ready to be used mainstream (although it's coming on leaps and bounds) and there is no way to sync it with a Symbian phone. I could use SyncML (and there are loads of public servers available) - but the SyncML plugin for Sunbird absolutely sucks (because it doesn't work).

So we're back to square one, and I'm thinking I should just buy a Mac, because then it would be so much easier to simply run a standalone calendar application which I don't need to pay for.

Staff cut off in Evesham 'rescue' deal



What an awful name...

MIT in Matrix 'Crowd Farm' plan


Cool Idea

But somewhat impractical. But I suppose we will have to start making sacrifices as energy demands increase and supply tightens...i.e. wearing flat shoes whilst travelling! (No high heels!).

Although I agree, cycling is the way forward - as for generation of power from gym bicycles and treadmills, I know the bikes at my local gym don't actually use any electricity - but the treadmills do (to provide incline, and I think they need energy for the actual belt to move round). It's a good idea though, the energy costs must be pretty high - given the air condition, lighting, televisions, speakers etc. they all have.

The Wired article the first person linked suggested piezo-electric generators in pressure pads which didn't seem to need massive height differences either. It probably is possible without making it too much of a health and safety hazard.

Western Digital channel in a spin over new green HDD



Wasn't it WD who were pushing the 10K RPM Raptor hard drive for use in high performance home PCs? Will they continue to make it?

Facebook buys Firefox startup


Very Useful

Being at university right now, it's great for keeping in touch with friends, finding old friends from yonks ago and sharing photos, organising events etc. MySpace is horrible by comparison, it just spam. Plus nearly all my friends use Facebook, so it's one destination, and easy to contact anyone I know - without worrying (as someone said above) whether their phone number is current, or they still live in the same city etc.

Applications on Facebook do have the potential to ruin it, but I like the way they've made everything take a Facebook-like appearance, the thing that turned me off MySpace was all the flashing boxes everywhere...but they're a great way of implementing features which you wish had already been put in (like Last.FM integration).

I still talk to everyone on IM, but if you want to leave someone a non-urgent message that you're certain they will get, then Facebook is so much preferred.

I can't say that I've ever met anyone on Facebook itself - I don't think it's for that really.

I do agree with the privacy point though - we are all putting a lot of personal information up about ourselves, and although Facebook lets you limit who can access it, once you accidentally grant the wrong person access to it...addresses, phone numbers, email address, relationship status, hobbies, too much potential for wrongdoing.

+ It's a great source of procrastination!

Steve Jobs: struggling to redefine the TV paradigm



My Sky digibox does this, and has done for several years now - admittedly I only have 24 hours to watch a film and I can only watch it once (they used to have multiplay on?) but it's virtually on demand - to the nearest 15 minutes usually. Why would I want to buy a $300 box in order to repeat this functionality?

PC or not PC? Ten desktops on test


Dell C521

I'm sceptical that there exists a Dell with a 6800+ 64 bit processor - in fact their website suggests that it's more like a 4400+ X2...

Shame it's a Dell though!

Five things Sony needs to do save the PS3


More Games!

I have a Playstation 2 (old school big type) and had one since they were released - it was my first real console. Since then I've bought an XBox (again old school) for the games like Halo and Project Gotham 2 (probably one of my favourite games).

I know there are exceptions, but why are most of the new games being released nowadays simply sequels? It irritates me that there are so few exciting games. Part of the joy of having a PS2 was being able to play GTA 3 and laughing at my friends who had to wait months / years to play it on their pc / XBox. Likewise, the XBox has it's gems. >> More exclusives please!

Asus pitches wee Eee PC companion


Palm Foleo

...got owned!

Admittedly this doesn't have bluetooth so it's going to be a pain syncing with PDAs, but I don't see how the Palm Foleo does anything else differently? Except it costs a lot more. It has a larger screen but tbh 7" is definitely big enough to be readable which is what they were aiming for.

Orange simplifies data by capping at 30MB


That sucks

Everybody go to T-Mobile!

Seriously though, that's pretty lame, I don't see how they can reasonably justify capping it at 1/30th of what T-Mobile offers with their Web 'n' Walk package!

Data is the way forward, they've just made a serious error. If there was any reason for me to get a 3G phone - it would have been data.

Palm reveals 'secret' smartphone buddy


Too heavy

@Chris Cartledge -

A 12.1" laptop is more expensive because of the increased engineering that needs to go into it to make sure everything fits and runs well, better cooling, and it's harder to manufacture things in a smaller space.

Regarding the Foleo - I think it's at a great price point - I recently wanted to buy an ultraportable for £400 (what's the point in buying a laptop if it's bulky? I have my desktop for my desk) and settled on an IBM X31 used for £450. If this was around, I definitely would have bought it.

Ideally this wouldn't be so locked down (although this remains to be seen) - making it possible to install things like Java and the rest on it - probably why laptops are preferable to PDAs if you wish to do more serious work (such as development).

However, it's weight is near to that of my fully functional IBM with a 12.1" display as opposed to it's 10.1" display - I don't see why it should be so heavy, especially as my IBM has a hard disk and all the other bits in it. Especially for something with cut down functionality.

I would also hope the screen is at a decent resolution, if it's just a scaled up PDA then it will look pretty garish and cheap.

I would buy one though for travelling - you really don't want something quite so heavy to travel with and PDA's irritate me for data entry (sending longer emails etc.).

EU defence agency wants open skies for flying robots


Re:Sorry, but what civilian activity can possibly justify UAVs ?

@Pascal Monett

Your suggestion of parcel carriers might possibly be true, but there are other situations in which case it would be useful for the presence of UAVs to be known by Air Traffic Controllers and the like.

At the moment, as far as I understand it, they don't have any knowledge of any UAVs that might be operating, and as such it's unfeasible to use them in large numbers without being hazardous to any human piloted traffic that might be present, plus there are limits on how useful they can be.

I imagine they'll prove to be useful for filming events, i.e. motor racing / horse racing - currently aerial observation is fairly expensive, besides the cost of the helicopter / plane itself, you have to hire a pilot and a camera man. This could all be done away with by a self flying plane with perhaps a remotely operated camera or a camera system that latches onto specific vehicles. Either way, this is one application where it would make sense to commercialize the use of UAVs.

I think you may be mistaken in your interpretation of them as civilian - civil airspace is what applies to everyone, commercial or private, and there are lots of possible commercial uses.

@ Anonymous

I assume that military and civilian aircraft would have to be marked separately as is the usual process at the moment, so I'm not sure how you could justify that they're trying to hide their own UAVs in with the civilian UAVs. Besides, I'm sure some form of bureaucracy would limit that scenario anyway.

Acer turns to nature to inspire Aspire



Looks very toy-like to me. Reminds me of the OLPC or those V-Tech toys (at least when it's open).