* Posts by Harry

425 posts • joined 17 May 2007


1.3 million phones found down back of the sofa in UK


"of those who do, almost nobody uses it."

Possibly because it does it at the wrong time.

Mine has an option to display a message when it starts -- so I could put my name and maybe even my landline number, in case its found by somebody honest (a few of which genuinely DO exist) who would be happy to tell me they had my phone.

It also has an option to require a PIN so that if somebody finds it, they can't make lots of calls to exhaust the credit.

Unfortunately, it doesn't display my message until AFTER the pin is displayed. So if I use both options, they won't see the message that would tell them whose phone it is.

Anyway, to perform its intended purpose, the PIN needs to be asked before making a call, and at the moment it only does that if the phone was switched off before being lost. So, I've got to know in advance that I intend to lose my phone, and remember to switch it off before doing so.

All in all, some good ideas but badly thought through such that they don't really achieve what was intended, let alone what is actually needed.

Researcher spies new Adobe code execution bug


"there aren't any good alternatives"

I've replaced it with Foxit reader. Seems OK so far.

Took only about two seconds to download and installed it is 9Mb instead of 143Mb.

'McDonalds' burger-lers making millions

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"That is the CORRECT way to advertise them"


"Doughnuts, 99p" is (possibly) just about fine if it is a statement on its own -- but I'd still argue that it could more properly and more honestly have been stated as "Doughnut: 99p" or as "99p each". It most certainly is not, by any sensible interpretation, "correct" to misleadingly list them in the plural without making it perfectly clear that the price was for the singular.

However, if the "Doughnuts, 99p" statement was made alongside a photograph of more than just one doughnut, or if the 99p price is conditional on ordering more than one doughnut, then that surely ought to constitute "advertising a misleading price to a consumer", which is a CRIMINAL offence and ought to be brought to the urgent attention of both the ASA to prohibit the practice and the local Trading Standards Office for prosecution "in the public interest".


For an 0845 number to have been used ...

... then some company has taken those calls and passed them on to another number, which ought to be traceable.

If the companies operating the 0845 redirection are too stupid to have permanently recorded the numbers they have forwarded the calls to, or have forwarded to a mobile without positively verifying the identity of their customer, then those companies really ought to be prosecuted for aiding and abetting -- because that's exactly what they have done.

Why you subsidize Google's Soviet-style Net


"you're paying for inclusion in Google"

That's stretching the imagination more than just a little.

Most webmasters are happy that Google accesses their content, because without it they would get far fewer visits.

Any webmaster that doesn't want Google accessing their content can set up the appropriate entries in robots.txt and Google will not bother them again. Nor will Google's customers.

Very few webmasters exclude Google, though almost all webmasters know they could if they wanted. That speaks enough by itself.

BBC clambers onto iPhone bandwagon


Maybe it COULD cater for the over-forties.

HTML-only, no javascript and static images only would be extremely welcome by those who want to view for functional reasons rather than be besieged by wholly unnecessary nuisanceware.

Microsoft guns for 2-for-1 sales with 'pre-installed' Office 2010 deal


Wouldn't a supplier do MUCH better ,..

... to preinstall Open Office ?

Apart from the fact that it needn't cost either them or the customer anything, they would be helping to encourage the use of genuine open standards.

Chilean mint misspells Chile


But the spelling *IS* correct.

They have just used a lower case L.

World of Google zombies mistake news story for Facebook


Those of you expressing surprise and contempt ...

I would be one of them, if it wasn't for the fact that my site logs show that people frequently reach it by unexpected types of search queries.

One of the common ones is that people have set google as their default search page, so that it opens automatically. They have then typed my domain name, complete with preceding www prefix and trailing .co.uk suffix, into the google search instead of the address bar.

Those people clearly aren't aware of the intended difference between the address bar and a search query ... which in turn has prompted the various authors and ISPs to provide default settings so that both boxes can be used interchangeably.

In turn, it becomes increasingly difficult to persuade people that those two apparently-interchangeable boxes are intended for two different purposes, and that very occasionally but SOMETIMES, its best to use the correct one for the job.

Google's 'Musicblogocide' - blame the DMCA


Once again, legal redress is needed

If removal is requested but an offence cannot subsequently be proved, then the company that requested the removal should be required to pay a substantial sum in compensation .

Such payment is necessary not just to compensate the innocent party, but also to act as a deterrent to premature and unwanted removal of material based purely on suspicion and not on proper, irrefutable evidence.

The aim has to be that a company that gets it wrong occasionally nevertheless loses substantially more than they sought to gain by its imprudent action.

Tories will force BT to open up ducts to rivals


"there is bugger all space in the ducts."

Probably because they're full of copper, which is wasting space.

But if you took out the copper and replaced it by enough fibre to provide the same capacity, there would be plenty of room for MORE fibre.

If the duct really is full, there's a temporary problem that you've got to provide service by some other means (eg wireless or an alternative route) for however long it will take to do the job, but its not insurmountable.


How about ...

... saying "you can use the existing ducts free of charge to save money on your new lines, but ... half the money you save must go into a pool to fund provision of ducts in less-economic areas ?

Toshiba commits to Freeview HD


HDMI input needed too?

"For output, the HDR-5010 has one Scart and three HDMI connectors."

I'd hope one of the HDMI can be used as inputs (for daisy chaing) too. Otherwise, if your existing TV has just one HDMI input and is already in use with other equipment, you're stuck with using the presumably-inferior scart.

UK inserts battery take-back scheme

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That's a much better idea ...

... than the stupid one they have with fluorescent tubes, which merely allows the seller to put up a sign saying unwanted tubes can be taken to a site ten miles away and isn't open all day every day.

Now, lets have a rule that sellers must freely take back used packaging -- bottles, boxes etc.

Labour Party told to stop spam-calls

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Now will ICO please stop UNautomated calls too?

Party political calls are in no way different to other types of marketing calls, so party callers should not under any circumstances be able to improperly consider themselves exempt from TPS.

Any legislation which implies otherwise is incompetent legislation and needs to be changed.

Google (Voice) solves universal translation soonish


Sounds like a perfect combination

Most text to speech sounds like it has been recorded by somebody with very limited vocal ability, and most google translations look like they've been written by somebody with very limited grasp of the destination language. So, why not dispel the doubt and put the two together, leaving no doubt whatsoever about the competence of the person who mistakenly relied on the translation service.

And for those who don't quite understand what the problem is, here's what happens when you allow google to translate my first sentence into German then into French and then back into English:

Most of the text in a speech as the sounds recorded by someone who has very limited capacity voice, and watch most of the Google translation, as has already been written by someone with very limited knowledge of the target language.

Understandable yes perfectly very, n'est ce pas? And that's without even trying to synthesise it as speech.

eBay cans free P&P requirement

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"The sell price always includes the P&P."

I suggested that a LONG time ago -- long before ebay had even the *capability* to sort search results by price including P&P. Which it still only partially has -- only the "advanced" search form has the capability to display the initial results properly sorted by P+P&P. You can't make it the initial default with the standard search.

Don't show the "goods only" value at all, not even as an option -- except in the rare case where the seller allows free collection and the seller is within a buyer-specified distance. The buyer doesn't need to know how much of the price is goods and how much is postage. Though the user ought to be able to specify "I will want 5 of them" and have the sort order determined by the seller's postage discounts rather than the price for posting just one of them.

Making bids postage-inclusive isn't a problem. Ebay knows what the postage is, so can subtract it from the bid price.


You're wrong there ...

"if you bought a USB stick for £11 (£1 + £10 P&P) you would only get refunded £1 if the item wasn't as described etc. etc."

No, paypal refunds whatever you paid. You'd get the £11 back unless you stupidly allowed the seller to refund you some other way instead of putting in the paypal claim.

Where ebay/paypal goes wrong is that it requires you to return defective items to the seller to obtain that refund, thereby incurring expense which the SELLER is legally liable for under the Sale of Goods act. Most people then don't bother to sue the seller for refund of their return costs, so the seller gets away with it.

Dear Adobe: It's time for security rehab


"it is so heavily used. "

Yes, but rarely to the benefit of the end user. Mostly, flash conveys adverts, unnecessary annoyances which distract from the written material the user is trying to read and the output of idiot web designers that have used flash for a button where a static image ought to have been used instead.

Firefox and flashblock circumvents most of the above. Its not obvious why *everybody* doesn't install firefox and flashblock, making *most* of the problem go away (and, ultimately, forcing idiot web designers to redesign their pages using pure HTML only).

Save DAB! Send FM radios to Africa


Sounds like a silly question to me ...

"Why do you need more than 10 presets?"

At a guess, its so that you can store the details of more than 10 radio stations.

You wouldn't ask "why does a browser have to be able to store more than 10 bookmarks", would you?

Oh, perhaps you would.

Of course, it is slightly rhetorical at present. Probably most people cannot get more than 10 DAB stations at an even remotely listenable quality. But that's Oftel's fault for allowing the multiplex operators to squeeze in too many stations for the allocated bandwidth.

UK.gov unmoved by Internet Explorer 6 security concerns


There is no evidence ...

"“There is no evidence that moving from the latest fully patched versions of Internet Explorer to other browsers will make users more secure."

Typical Government response. We avoid researching things that we think we might not like the answer to, so that we can say "there is no evidence".

But maybe the government should research advocating firefox together with flashblock and noscript. They should be advocating a browser that at least tries to comply with standards instead of inventing new substandards.

Google boss worries about the future of reading


"I've been to Reading"

I bet you found them to be ... a load of Berks.

No wonder he's worried.

Danes ditch Microsoft, take ODF road - at last

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UK, please follow suit

Governments, schools and colleges should NOT be pumping out documents in what, despite the allegedly-dubious opinion of ISO, is a "de-facto" proprietary format.

Adobe sounds off on iPad's Flash slap


Sounds like a very POSITIVE feature to me

As every firefox+noflash user knows, most web pages look a LOT more user friendly without the unnecessary annoyances such as flash.

99% of web pages will be IMPROVED by dropping the flash. And if it forces a few idiot web designers to check that their site remains fully usable on a noflash reader, that will be a very POSITIVE improvement for everybody, not just iPad users.

Lets hope they also bring out a NOSCRIPT version. There are far too many sites using scripts unnecessarily. Javascript is never necessary for a search form, or in links. Just code the form properly so that scripts aren't necessary.

Oracle sues support firm over 'massive theft'


Eh ?

"using a customer credential, then downloads Software and Support Materials in excess of the customer's authorization"

If the support site allows the a logged in customer to download unauthorised material, that's surely the fault of the webmaster and not the third party that's installing software on its behalf.

Avon & Somerset cop computers titsup?


"there has been no response"

Not even to say "This Page UnIntentionally Blank" ???

Police arrest MD of dowsing-rod 'bomb detector' firm


You're about three months early

A story about people buying a product like this is only totally believable if it is posted on 1st April.

Nokia switches direction and gives away maps

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"if Nokia made a dedicated satnav"

Yes, precisely.

A dedicated satnav with a guaranteed Free Map Upgrades For Life would be a sure winner.

Near-ready Firefox 3.6 gets second RC sausage


If firefox is too slow ...

Maybe you need noscript. flashblock and an adblocker.

Properly written web sites (using pure HTML and no unnecessary bloat such as flash) will run better in any browser. If the site needs flash and scripts without good reason -- go find another site, one that has an INTELLIGENT webmaster that doesn't fill the page with adverts and unnecessary nuisanceware.

Lightning catches up with Thunderbird


Ever seen a senior executive use anything other than Outlook?

Ever found a senior executive that was intelligent enough to know there are better (and cheaper) alternatives to MOST microsoft products?

The saying used to be that nobody ever got fired for buying IBM -- but that was only because the even-more-senior people didn't know any better.

Secret code protecting cellphone calls set loose


"there's an open-sauce GSM basestation project underway"

No doubt the Register will soon ketchup with that.

UK etailer calls self 'the last place you want to go'


What a waist ...

I seem to remember a company called Total that was into Waste Management.

Fine, except that I remember seeing it split over two lines.

That's right ...

Total Waste

Management Company

Data collector threatens scribe who reported breach


They should prosecute themselves

By creating the insecure system that allowed the reporter to obtain access to the insecure accounts, the company has AIDED AND ABETTED any so-called crime.

Thus, the fault is entirely with the company.

Never shoot the messenger. In doing so, you only draw yet more attention to your own INCOMPETENCE.

Ads body cuts off Skype ad after pic quality complaints


Now, will ASA please buy a dictionary ...

and make the elementary common sense ruling that companies that advertise a service that is not unlimited are prohibited from using the word unlimited from any part of the advertisement.

Will they also please make the common sense ruling that adverts should not feature meaningless "up to xxxx" claims, but must instead replace them with the corresponding, correct "guaranteed at least yyyy" claim, without implication that buyers "may" get more than the guaranteed amount.

Common sense ... isn't it what the ASA *should* be for? So why doesn't it have any?

Man catches MSI laptop with... his arse


So where's the slogan ...

"Buy our laptops, get a bum deal" ???

Should help their sales bottom quite nicely.

Ofcom wants to know what you want to know


You can ask ofcom ONE question ...

What percentage of OFCOM staff were actually ELECTED by ordinary members of the public ?

I suspect the answer is NONE, which is why we have these idiots continually turning blind eyes to unacceptable practices like big advertising claims that are substantially negated by contradictory smallprint.

If ofcom staff still can't get around to understanding that suppliers should be required to publish their GUARANTEED bandwidth and prohibited from publishing misleading "up to" information at all, then what chance do we have that they will tackle other much-needed jobs like ensuring every company publishes a phone number that they guarantee will be answered by a person, not a machine, prohibiting call queuing other than on freephone numbers etc etc etc ...

Exploding iPod backfires on Apple

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Well done, that man

Its high time that the law made confidentiality agreements like this null, void and legally unenforceable.

The public has a right to know of safety defects to products. They also have a right to compensation when supplied defective or dangerous products. The supplier, in turn, has absolutely no right to try to suppress evidence that NEEDS to be in the public domain.

But more to the point, how can any company be so completely and utterly stupid as to realise that by improperly trying to silence bad news, what they actually do is to broadcast it to rather more people than would otherwise know about it. And, what's more, they broadcast their cavalier attitude to public safety too.

Boffins build super-accurate atomic clock


You can't claim time to be accurate ...

... unless you have an even MORE accurate time source to compare it with.

Their clock has the claimed "accuracy" only because the DEFINITION of time has been arbitrarily defined to coincide with the method they're using to measure it.

Once upon a time, time used to be defined relative to the rotation of the earth. A definition that probably still makes the most sense to most people, because the primary purpose of time is to ensure we do things at the appropriate part of the day. If the earth were to mysteriously start rotating at half its normal speed, it would make no sense to use a supposedly "more accurate" time source that caused us to sleep only on alternate days.

Thus, the aim should probably be to find a time source which more accurately reflects the slightly-changing speed of rotation of the earth, so we don't have to artificially "increase" the year with leap-seconds whose very existence in effect proves "we got it very slightly wrong, but just like politicians it must be right because WE say it is".

AP orders affiliate to pull embedded YouTube vids

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Is this a new form of Entrapment ?

This used to be practised by parking sharks. They buy a bit of unfenced land, put up a sign saying "parking prohibited, fine £200" and then deliberately park a lorry in front of the sign so it can't be seen. Then clamp everybody who parks alongside it until they cough up the release fee.

Sounds like AP is doing exactly the same with its videos -- entrapping people into making use of them, then trying to charge them for it.

Except that because there's no clamping mechanism, the only way to get any money from it would be court action -- and sensible courts are likely to take a dim view of companies that use entrapment as a business model.

BT's great hole of Ilford still causing grief


Does that mean FASTER journeys ?

"Transport for London was facing its third day without central control of traffic lights"

Wasn't Ken's overhyped central control intended to deliberately create delays so he could justify the need for a congestion charge?

There's only one thing that should be controlling traffic lights -- and that's density of traffic, not overpaid officers.

Before we had CENTRAL control, you could drive up to traffic lights at an otherwise deserted junction and they would turn green immediately. These days, they just carry on showing green to whichever road has no traffic.

UK transport minister's website pwned


"for reasons that are not immediately obvious"

The immediately-obvious reason would probably be that the site was restored from an ages-old backup that was created in the bad old days when webmasters actually thought it was perfectly acceptable to create non-standard web pages that were only viewable in sub-standard non-W3c-compliant Microsoft browsers.

IBM cuts internet comp for work-at-homers

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Sounds like a perfect solution ... but only to an ACCOUNTANT

Its said, with good reason, that the definition of an accountant is somebody who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

I know of one who insisted on converting our local coffee shop from "boil up a jug" to capsule operation ... in order to be able to prove that the unpaid volunteers who serve there weren't drinking more than their permitted share of free coffee. But the capsules cost 10p more than the bulk coffee they replaced. Thus the materials bill was now £10 per week more than it needed to be ... and no way could the volunteers possibly be guzzling anywhere that amount.

It was the sort of solution that made sense only to an IDIOT or to an ACCOUNTANT -- yet one which the overpaid bosses were too THICK to understand either.

Isn't IBM going down exactly the same path? Cut out the £10 per month that allows people to work from home on maybe two days per week, and then what? You have to rent more OFFICES to accommodate them. And you're going to be able to rent those offices for significantly less than £10 per month?

What sort of person can't work that out? Oh, I forgot, its ACCOUNTANTS and their OVERPAID BOSSES.

Google force feeds Web 2.0 to US gov

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Unusually, the government is probably RIGHT

Take adverts, for example.

Third party adverts absolutely should NOT be on government web pages. Nor, indeed ANY business-related pages whatsoever.

Adverts absolutely do not belong on sites like BBC, ebay or any other self-respecting business. The site should be there to support and promote the OWNER's business, not to earn money with unnecessarily annoying third party adverts whose sole "benefit" is to discourage the visitors for whom the site is intended.

Nor are there vast expenses involved in running a web site. Servers and connectivity are dirt cheap -- the server will cost a lot less in operating costs and connectivity than the company switchboard. Properly thought out, the material placed on the server should cost a LOT less to create than the equivalent printed documents. So, you've made a vast profit just by deciding to cut down less trees and put it on the web site. Provided, that is, you don't employ stupidly expensive consultants to do it (or, worse still, to design your logos).

Similarly, third party cookies and spyware of all types should be banned -- not just on government web sites, but on all web sites globally.

Meanwhile, look at the SERVICES provided by U-tube, twitter etc. Mostly, they are services which could and should be provided on the company's OWN web server. No problem with adverts or third party cookies if you're not using third party services to proved them.

The other problems could and should be surmountable. Records need to be kept -- but the requirement should be to keep them in a format compatible with the medium on which the information originally appeared. If properly managed backup tapes are sufficient for the tax man, then surely a suitable electronic medium can be found to maintain the official archives.

Google goes long with new search pages


Google could improve its search results ...

... by having simple options to EXCLUDE (or include) the results from shopping sites and directories.

If the search I'm doing doesn't lead to a proper web site (and I don't consider a page that gives only information that looks like it has been stolen from the phone book or yellow pages to be a proper web site) then I'd rather be TOLD there are no proper pages matching my search than having to wade through a load of machine-cobbled directories to know that.

Vodafone promises a response if you're really, really big

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Interestingly vague.

Incidents and faults are not actually "fixed", they are "resolved" and "addressed".

That reminds me of East Herts CC, who 18 months ago immediately logged my report on a string of six non-working street lights on a major A-road in Cheshunt as "resolved", but never ever actually fixed them. They're still out, but have since been joined by most of those on the other side of the road.

Presumably therefore, "resolved" and "addressed" are euphemisms for "ignored".

Ofcom makes network operators carry mis-selling can


Lets have some REAL honesty then

Broadband sellers should be allowed to sell using ONE figure, and one figure only.

That figure is the GUARANTEED MININIMUM that the buyer MUST receive, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year.

No other figure properly describes the service, so no other figure should be allowable. And if that figure is a pitiful number, then its high time they upped it, instead of inventing random figures to PRETEND the service is better than it is.

Mathematica man brews 'AI' Google Killer™


Given 1+1=3 ,,,

Sorry, that doesn't add up.

0 = 0

1 = 1

10 = 2

11 = 3 (OK so far)

100 = 4

101 = 5

110 = 6 (starting to look dubious)

111 =


1110 = 14

1111 = *15* not 6 !

PC World cuts off Capita call centre contract


First thing they need to know ...

"DSG admitted they didn't have the know-how or ability to run a customer service call centre!"

The first priority of a call centre is to answer the phone promptly -- with a PERSON, not a machine. And to make sure that if a competent real person is not immediately available to take, they get the competent person to call back within half an hour and not put on hold.

Of course, with most companies the root problem is that there *IS* no competent person. For that, it makes no difference whether the person is in house or contracted, the customer will still not receive the deserved service.

It's worth investing in good people to deal with telephone problems because it does more than anything else to retain customer loyalty.

MS coughs to hokey-cokey IE8 option in Windows 7

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The acid tests ...

are not whether you can remove IE, but:

a) At initial install time, and on every other occasion when a user could install IE, will it also offer (with equal prominence) the ability to choose at least the five IE competitors with the biggest market share? If it does not, then it should not be providing the ability to install IE either.

b) Will EVERYTHING else work properly if another browser is chosen instead of IE ? Including WINDOWS UPDATE and every single page of the microsoft web site ?

If it can't meet both a) and b) then the requirement to give the user a proper CHOICE of browser has NOT been met.

Enormous pain-ray patio heater towers erected in California

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Is it really ...

"more energy efficient than other methods growers might use"

Including GREEN houses ?

Somehow I suspect possibly not.



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