* Posts by Harry

425 posts • joined 17 May 2007


US court urged to block warrantless GPS tracking


Author doesn't understand GPS

"surveillance of his or her movements and associations by a network of satellites constantly feeding data to a remote computer"

That's not the way GPS works. The satellites don't know where the GPS receivers are. Only the GPS receiver knows that. So presumably, in addition to the GPS receiver, they must also have planted a radio transmitter and will be picking up position information from that, NOT from the satellites.

Snacker discovers Nokia phone in crisp packet


Whatever next ...

They could put ipods in packets of Tunes ...

IBM bricking Seagate SATA disks


Re 12:45 GMT: "Lost" can be a temporary word

"I've lost my keys" is a frequent utterance, but its rare for that particular loss to be permanent.

Nor does knowing the location of an item prevent it from being cited as lost. "I've lost my keys down the drain" is still quite a reasonable statement, despite the owner knowing EXACTLY where the lost items are.

Equally, despite the possible ability of the owner to reinstate access to the contents by applying a firmware update, the owner has nevertheless LOST the ability to access to that data between the reboot and the time when the firmware is updated.

HP takes backup service Upline offline


Offline backup is a fallacy

The article didn't say, but will HP be ensuring that users can get access to their data for a sensible time (eg for 5 years) after they stop selling it to new users?

It rings the death nell for ALL offline backup services, not just HPs, because if you can't rely on your offline backup facility to STILL be in business when you need to access the data, then you don't actually HAVE a backup service.

What you have is merely something which (probably) charges you money and provides a false sense of security, and which has turned into Write-Only memory when you most need it a few years later.

New in-the-wild attack targets fully-patched Adobe Reader

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Why is javascript on by default ?

Does adobe think its microsoft?

I have never, ever, asked for javascript to be turned on in acrobat reader, and there is absolutely NO reason why most people should need scripts in any PDF document.

Therefore it could, and SHOULD, have been turned off by default at installation time.

Gigabyte touts 'world's first' phone with Flash UI

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Flash? Why, Why?

Why on earth would users want flash on a phone? Its bad enough that companies use flash to put unnecessary annoyances on web pages.

Surely, the only people who like flash are advertisers. Everybody else uses firefox and flashblock to be rid of it.

Satellites crash over Siberia: Iridium bird destroyed


So, whose satellite is it ...

... that will lose its No Claims Bonus ???

And which company has a long enough ladder to do panel beating up there?

Authors Guild to Amazon Kindle: Shut up

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"Grandad, please read me a story"

Nobody ever accused Grandad of violating Enid Blyton's copyright by reading Noddy out loud to his own grandchildren.

Law and common sense usually don't go together, but the common sense answer would be that reading to up to half a dozen people ought to be perfectly OK.

Reading to a dozen or more might be considered a performance, especially if those people are not immediately associated with the person who bought the book.

Sony demos ultra-expensive, ultra-thin OLED telly

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OK, so its a few millimetres thick.

But couldn't you have said that in WORDS?

Why do we need these stupid videos, that always take ten times longer than reading the WORDS ???

Apple rethinks battery bondage

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All three patents already invalid

"could communicate wirelessly with mobile devices to monitor their battery power" ...

Apart from being elementary common sense (and therefore not patentable in any intelligent country) Sennheiser has already been doing that for several years with their radio microphones.

"pop-off end-caps that allow battery chemicals to be swapped out" ...

does nobody remember the days when every car battery had a plug on top of every cell ... nominally ised to top them up, but it could equally well be used to replace the chemicals altogether.

And finally ...

"a "host machine ... that has battery-charging slots built into its body"

Yes, we usually call those BATTERY CHARGERS and they have been around for years. Building one into some other device doesn't change anything -- it is still just a battery charger. And plenty of other products (including my DECT phone) have charger bases that built into some other part of the system.

The world is absolutely sick and tired of these frivolous nuisance patent claims. Its high time there was a compulsory minimum 10 year jail sentence for anybody applying for a bogus patent like these.

Ofcom woos theatricals and delays digital dividend


"The latest units advertised appear to cover 518-866 MHz"

Yes, that's the way they were advertised, but it was COMPLETELY MISLEADING.

UHF equipment does not cover the entire range, only parts of it -- and then only if you buy the right variant. For example (taking Sennheiser EW-300 Gp 1 as an example):

A covers 518-550 only

B covers 630-662 only

C covers 740-772 and

D covers 790-882 and

E covers 838-870.

If you've bought one for the UK, it will usually be the E variant, so will cover only 838-870. No amount of retuning will put it below 838. You would have to replace the internal board, assuming that they start up a production line to make boards for obsolete equipment, because there never was a range that covered 614-620.

I'm a sceptic now, says ex-NASA climate boss


"some scientists have manipulated the observed data to justify their model results."

Hmmm, scientists watching too many politicians and government ministers, I suspect.

If we can't trust the scientists, no wonder the politicians are all starting to think they are gods.

Payback time for Ofcom on incoming call charges


@"they are worth, whatever someone was actually willing to pay for them"

So somebody who pays £10,000 for a car and discovers it is full of rust, engine is seized up, the roof leaks and the wheels are square can nevertheless take comfort that the car really IS worth £10,000 -- because the idiot was willing to pay it.

I don't think so. Its worth what somebody is prepared to pay for it TODAY, not what somebody was willing to pay for it yesterday.

Coming soon: Pills to 'turn down' your ears at clubs


Wouldn't it be better ...

... to put the SPEAKERS into some kind of enclosure that reduces the amount of sound they give out?

Sound is one of those things that LESS is usually more.

Microsoft releases Vista virtualization


Wouldn't it be easier (and faster!) ...

... to just carry on selling XP ???

Seagate isolates 'potential' Barracuda flaw

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Intelligence at last

But you have to wonder whether Seagate would have taken these steps had the defects not been prominently covered in the media.

Companies like these need to understand that the best solution to a problem like this is to have a standing policy that all design defects will be corrected free of charge and ensure that its staff at all levels implement that policy the very first moment it becomes clear that a problem exists and long before the story gets featured in the media.

Cows can't detect earthquakes: Official


Dunno about cows, but ...

... it sounds like a load of old bull.

NZ cops claim 'first Facebook arrest' of bungling safe-cracker


"he is still only 'accused.'"

Fair enough. What irritates me is news reports that say that somebody is "alleged" to have done something, even *after* that person has been found guilty and sentenced for the crime.

But then again, why don't we go the whole hog and insist that because accused people (generally, not specific to this case) are *supposedly* innocent until proved guilty, they shouldn't have their NAMES disclosed publicly unless and until they are found guilty.

Experts trumpet '25 most dangerous' programming errors


The bigger the budget ...

... the more scope there is for bloat, unnecessary garbage (like animations that don't contribute to functionality) and general "lets do what looks good instead of what is needed".

Boffins offer plastic printing service

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Please stop posting crappy videos and start writing stories

We don't come here to watch third rate TV programmes, we come here to READ the news.

Is there nobody on the Register staff that is not too thick to understand that Flash demonstrates everything that's WRONG with the web and is most certainly not a panacea for avoiding putting pen to paper.

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and ps ...

As soon as somebody finds a URL for a proper story (in text) about this item, please post it here.

Samsung boffins demo transparent OLED screen

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Where's the text?

We come here to see readable information, not to watch a TV substitute.

First Windows 7 beta puts fresh face on Vista


"and less annoying."

You mean they've actually fixed windows update so that when you tell it not to reboot, it doesn't keep nagging every couple of minutes? And, especially, doesn't take no answer as permission to do so, despite the fact that the machine is running something important that shouldn't be interrupted?

If so, wonders will never cease. But pigs are more likely to fly.

EFF wins request for reexamination of ringtone patent

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Since when does "few" mean none?

"an approach few were taking in the early 1990s, when he invented it."

If that's his own words, then he's just invalidated his own argument.

If few people were doing it, then at least one was -- and if one was already doing it, then the patent is void.

Case closed.

LG trumpets 3G wristphone


"we'd like to think the wrist watch phone will also tell time."

Time will tell.

Toaster used to recharge gadgets

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The designed obviously kneeded the dough.

But he's not going to earn his daily bread with it ... because as far as I can see, the slot is much too small to get even a single slice of bread in it.

To which I can post only one comment ... crumbs!

Yes! It's the USB Toaster!



Its only a joke until everybody knows about it, and now The Reg has spilled the beans ... there's nothing left to put on the toast anyway.

Brits allowed in to OLPC's 'give one, get one' scheme


dubbed "G1G1", for 'give one, get one'

That comes very very close to the old adage "garbage 1n, garbage 0ut".

Top aero boffin: Green planes will be noisy planes

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How about ...

Build floating airports a few miles out to sea -- far enough away so the noise doesn't reach back inland -- and fly these new, noisier but more efficient planes from it.

Ban current planes flying over land altogether. Run a high speed rail link to the floating airport, or develop some super-quiet shuttle planes to provide the link to land.

Result: less noise pollution over land, and less chemical pollution over sea.

Vacating the inland airports could also make space to relocate houses away from major railways and roads, or to increase capacity ensure people can reach their departure point without needless pollution in traffic jams.

It will take a few years to achieve, but must surely be better than the present mindless building on every square inch of already-gridlocked towns.

Blundering workmen cut major Docklands fibre

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"No electromagnetic leakage to detect and betray it's presence."

Well, there's a thought. It probably wouldn't cost much (relatively) to include a bit of conductor in the cable or trunking just for that purpose.

It wouldn't even have to be permanently energised, just turned on when work was needed in the area.

Quick, lets get an anti-patent on the idea, otherwise some country with a backward patent office will fail to spot the obviousness of the idea and the idea will be priced out of the market.

Hmmm, does publication in El-Reg constitute an anti-patent? If the page is indexed by archive.org then surely the idea becomes public domain and ensures that such a patent could be disputed as "already in the public knowledge" before the patent was applied for ???

Compressed-air car to go commercial next year?

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It looks very ...

"smart" !

In-body electric eel tech to make 'leccy from body fat


"artificial electric eel cells grafted into the human body"

What a shocking idea!

Power to the people ... ???

Attention developers: Your SESSIONIDs are showing


Could somebody clarify ...

The session ID used by IIS is an incrementing integer. It starts as a random number but if yours is 234777668 you know there's a high probability that somebody is active on sessions 234777669 and 234777670.

However, its my understanding that the session ID is *NOT* the actual cookie, which is surely the very much longer string such as JIBNECJCCPLOONHGOJIFHAGH which seems much less guessable.

Equally, it seems to me that each domain visited generates its OWN cookie. Thus the cookie sent to the host of an image served by a third party site *ought* to be different from the cookie sent to the main site. In which case, the cookie given to example.com by embedding that "img src=example.com" would be its own cookie, not that of the site which links to the image.

Investigators probe txt link to LA train crash


An investigation may be needed ,,,

... but it would probably be more productive to investigate WHY the operating company had failed to implement elementary safety precautions.

If a driver goes through a red light, it should be detected and the train stopped safely, using means that does NOT depend on the driver.

Such a system is implemented on numerous other railways, and is therefore presumably both generally available, tried and trusted.

Reg readers rage at comment icon outrage


Here's a selection

"This guy needs to be taken out and shot" icon [Picture of a gun pointing at a judge]

To be used retrospectively for the twit who can't tell the difference between spam and free speech -- and subsequently for anybody else who demonstrates their gross incompetence for the job they've been appointed (eg OfCom and most of the government).

- - -

Loud Hailer icon

For people who just want to make a point

- - -

Beer pump handle

For people who just want to make a pint.

- - -

"This icon unintentionally blank" icon -- something like [ ]

For people who remember IBM manuals.

- - -

And last but not least: User-Hostile Web site award icon [column of text occupying only 25% of the icon width]

For anybody stupid enough to design a web page that doesn't adapt itself to properly fit the chosen width of the user's window.

OMFG, what have you done?


Re: Fixing the width

Why not:

a) find the width of the user's window.

Note -- window means window, not screen. The width of the screen is irrelevant, its the width of the window that matters.

b) set the page width as "100%". Rocket science, that bit. B

c) determine the OPTIMUM number of columns for the width as determined in a). Thinking mainly of the home page here, obviously the story page has to be a single column. Nobody would be stupid enough to run a story in two columns, would they? Apart from Adobe Acrobat, that is.

d) ensure all paragraph text is fully re-wrappable, so that it properly fits the chosen number of columns. OK, there *should* probably be a MAX width -- though only if you can somehow make it a percentage of the point size *after* the user has enlarged or reduced font sizes according to their own needs.

This gives ALL the benefits of fixed width WITHOUT the drawbacks -- I think.

Canon EOS 450D digital SLR


Any way to quantify "noise" ?

I do most of my pictures in relatively low light, so noise and the ability to use ISO 400/800 or more is definitely of interest.

A previous review (might have been here or on another site) suggested that noise on a 400D ought to be worse than on a 350D because the image sensor for both is the same size, but the sensor divides into 10 Mp instead of 8 Mp. On that basis I chose not to upgrade my 350D.

By implication therefore, the 12 Mp 450D ought to have relatively worse noise than both of them -- but then there's the extra 2 bits per pixel image depth. Does that help eliminate noise, or are they purely cosmetic bits that are likely to be "buried" by noise under low level / high ISO lighting conditions?

If anybody comes across any definitive figures I'd be glad to hear.

Ofcom to clamp down on 'unfair' charges


Still NOT enough

They should come out and BAN rolling 12 month contracts altogether.

There's (possibly) some justification in having a minimum contract term when a person first signs up -- though only if hardware or work on the customer's site is needed, and even then the penalty should be no more than actual cost minus half existing payments.

However, there's absolutely NOTHING that happens to cost the telco an unexpected lump sum on every 12th anniversary of the user first joining, and therefore absolutely no justification in having any penalty beyond the 12th month of service.

Dutch tax office deletes 730,000 tax returns


"No backups were made"

And henceforth, the process of operating a major computer system without proper competence will presumably be known as "GOING DUTCH".

Opera CTO: How to fix Microsoft's browser issues

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Sounds well thought out to me.

Lets hope the EU will listen, and act.

Germans launch flights for nudists


"In case you're wondering, the aircraft's crew will keep their clothes on"

I wonder how much the crew have to pay, to be chosen for that shift?

Telcos yank FBI wiretaps


Accounts on tap

Maybe the FBI should tap the phones and desktops of its own accounts department?

That way, it would presumably be able to keep track on whether the bills were being paid.

[A nice idea, but you can guess the accounts department would probably fail to pay the bills for their own monitoring, to scupper the whole idea].

Creative X-Fi ExpressCard soundcard

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TEXT and STILL pictures would be better.

And I was going to say so, even before I read "Great Review" above.

There's too much annoying "animation for animation's sake" on the web these days.

Put the information in an ordinary HTML web page like information is meant to be, and we can scroll down at our own speed and/or pick out the important points in a tenth of the time spent listening.

Plus there's nothing in the video that couldn't have been presented as text and stills, thereby making the video completely unnecessary.

Highways Agency forecasts last year's traffic


Why does every government website ...

... insist on having a stupid and annoying ticker, that displays information either so slowly that its excruciating, or so quickly that you have to read it three times before you know what it's saying?

Why not put the information in a good and proper TEXTAREA with scrollbars that people can read at their OWN pace?

Hey, HP laptop owners: click here to get hijacked


"Anyone able to confirm?"

Dunno, but an HP desktop here is offering an available HP update so it could well be.

Honda shows off space-dwarf robot butler capability


Nuts to that idea

If you want nuts, it could surely unscrew one from its body ?

Luvvies get temporary reprieve


"wireless mics would operate at such low power "

They do, and they extend to only about 100 metres outside the building.

However, the SAME frequencies cannot ALSO be used by high power equipment, even 20 miles away.

At the moment, it works because TV stations in Wales and the Midlands do not use the same frequencies as those in London, because if they did they would interfere with each other at the borders -- so low power radio mikes in Wales and the Midlands can use the London TV frequencies, and vice versa.

However, the winning bidder will get nationwide use of each frequency and therefore there will be no longer be any guarantee of regional availability for the use of low power devices -- except possibly in channel 69, but that is too small on its own to support even one theatre let alone several in close proximity, as is the case with many of the West End theatres.

Mozilla rubbishes IE Firefox security study


"Is Microsoft English a different language to the regular english?"

It is indeed. Many times has microsoft tried to foister American-speak substitutes for my REAL English.

And that's even despite setting to BRITISH English (and since when was there a non-British England?)

America is still using a beta-test version of English from many centuries ago. Its time it did a global update to REAL live, current English.

Home Sec: Tasers could become standard police kit

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"the weapon encourages brutality and torture."


If tasers go out, then they must be limited to a SINGLE, safe discharge and an infallible logging system that requires accountability -- proof that their use was absolutely necessary and not vindictive.

The problem is that elsewhere they have very obviously and very publicly been used as a form of punishment and intimidation, rather than just a form of restraint.

OFT hammers auction sites on consumer info


Ebay -- too little, as usual and where are the NAMES and ADDRESSES?

Ebay agrees that buyers should know their rights.

Fine, but why is it that despite the myriad things you can report, "seller misrepresenting trading status" is not one of them?

Ebay does say (but it's tucked away) that any seller who buys or makes things to sell should register as a business seller. Private sellers are those selling only unwanted presents and used family items. But if you find a seller that's fraudulently misrepresenting themselves to be a private seller (as in my estimation probably 50% or more are), WHERE DO YOU REPORT IT?

Its not hard to spot when sellers do this, but there's absolutely nothing we can do to force ebay to take action against them.

Anyway, getting the status right is only HALF the problem. Trading standards also says that business sellers must display their name and address either "on each listing or in their ME page".

OK, so what percentage of ebay business sellers actually comply with the law? Less than 10%.

Its fine for the OFT to pontificate, but what's needed is high profile ACTION against a representative sample of those trading unlawfully.



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