* Posts by tas

52 publicly visible posts • joined 22 Dec 2009


Euro beaks mull copyright of software features


Why the referral to the EC - this seems straightfoward?


Under the Software Directive copyright protection is given to "the expression in any form of a computer program" but does not apply to "ideas and principles which underlie any element of a computer program, including those which underlie its interfaces".


The "form" is the computer program World Programming has written or if it's done a "SAS" and made equivalently detailed manuals.

The "ideas and principles" obviously being what the functions do and their underlying mathematics.

So, using the above, the only source of ambiguity is from comparing World Programming's *source code* with SAS's *source code* OR WP manuals vs SAS manuals. Since both are highly likely to be closed-source outfits, the likelihood the code take identical forms is low unless its a case of industrial espionage (which is a different legal matter). Thus, are we arguing over manuals here?!

Either not enough information is provided or this is yet another example of a completely unnecessary deferral by a UK judge under UK law to the EC ... Sometimes I wonder: do UK judges get referral fees, don't like to work hard covering all angles and further implications of a case or don't like to sign away their reputation by making firm legal commitments or what? I mean what's the worst that can happen, it gets overturned at EU level but only after *everyone* has been forced to consider all your considered judicial arguments and your name to it first?

In short, domestic legal discovery being constantly awarded to supranational bodies is starting to get tiresome and somewhat scary.


If the like and more of the above is inevitable, then while I've always been a fan of the EU, even excluding the Eurozone mess, stuff like this removes one more nail in my support for the UK's continuing presence in this fairly one-sided arrangement ... After all, even outside the EU, most of our trade would still continue to be with the EU and therefore with EU trade standards but we would get to cherry pick exactly what laws made sense and which did not all without having to pay the substantial costs of EU institutions, parliamentary presence, and reduced legal+social sovereignty.

Apologies if I've offended anyone's IT sensibilities!


Lancs shale to yield '15 years' of gas for UK


UK chooses short term profits vs long term cost, as usual

Why is the UK, who are in the enviable position to survey the environmental and social cost of onshore oil and gas drilling from the US example, so keen to go down this route to extract and use their final non-renewable resources?

In addition, the UK itself will, more than likely, not directly benefit from these resources instead they will be sold into the EU wholesale market. So, the revenues will be collected as FTSE oil&gas dividends, while the taxes will be used to plug the fiscal holes caused by banks and probably paid out again to the undercapitalized banks via BoE Quantitive Easing (round 2, 3, 4 ad nauseum). In the meantime, UK household gas bills will continue to rise at well above inflation rates, if not higher as Sterling depreciates!

Samsung SH100 14Mp Wi-Fi compact camera

Thumb Up

Compact Tethering or Remote Capture feature set unique?

Does anyone else know any manufacturer and models that supports tethering, remote or otherwise, for digital compact cameras (not DSLRs or DSLR-like)?

That is either or both of,

1. Remote viewfinder and capture still capability as described in article or

2. Physically tethered video "web cam".

Skype arrives on fondleslab


Twitter agrees with you!

Skype Skype

We know you've been eagerly awaiting Skype for iPad and apologize for the inconvenience.

6 hours ago

Skype Skype

To ensure your best Skype experience, we've temporarily removed Skype for iPad which went live prematurely today.

6 hours ago


Truck nuts swing onto US freedom of speech agenda


"Balls of Steel" censored already!

Funny you should mention Janet Jackson: in one of the linked articles, the metal, but not the plastic truck nuts, look like they've been intentionally censored ...

World first: UK boffins print out working 3D aeroplane

Thumb Up

Love the combination of technologies in this

"laser sintering", "no fastners", "geodesic airframe", "elliptical wing", Autopilot-maker of Sky Circuits standing by watching the test (intention is clear - can I slap an autopilot on it, puleeeease, oh pretty please?).

Now this feels 21st century technology. Awesome stuff!

TSA officer accused of stealing from passenger luggage


Checked luggage or hand luggage?

What I want to know is were these items stolen from checked luggage being screened well away from the passenger or taken from a hand luggage screenings like another recent TSA stolen news article?

Most, if not all, of the items listed sound like they would be contained in hand luggage taken on board the plane by passengers themselves.

It's important because many people Travel Light these days, i.e. do not use checked luggage even for extended trips due to the risks and inconvenience, ala. OneBag.com style.

Four illegal ways to sort out the Euro finance crisis


EFSF/CDO guarantees put German on the hook

@Andy Pellew, Because you're talking about entire countries with completely different structural issues (e.g. banking, housing market, law, benefit systems), no possibility of regular fiscal transfers between countries, no real free movement of working labor (different languages for a start, education standards), there is linked monetary policy but not fiscal/government budget policy, etc.!


Back on topic:

Of the four solutions (Euro breakup, Fiscal Transfers, CDO, Euro debt monetization aka the "Fed" solution), this is likely the least painful *up-front* and buys the most time.

What the CDO solution ultimately relies on are its state-backed guarantees to pay out in the future. For the new expanded vehicle, if you do the sums (and Bernstein has) and include cover for Belgium and Italian sovereign debt, the fund would need Euro 1.5 *trillion* backed by 1.7 trillion in guarantees.

Since the vehicle includes the very states that are currently experiencing the biggest problems and whose guarantees are considered worthless by the market, this puts the core EU countries on the hook, in particular Germany. The German guarantee becomes worth Euro 790 billion or 32% of their GDP! If for any reason France is downgraded, Germany's pro-rata share of funding jumps to 1.385 trillion or 56% of GDP!!

Of course, what is the likelihood of any German government or population paying out that much money in order to keep funding Greece, its creditors and their population's lifestyle? As you can imagine, if the Fiscal Transfer/Political Union solution was unpalatable, this would be inconceivable! Bond vigilantes may decide to go straight for the jugular and start parking themselves at the German sovereign debt desk as well ...

However, as the author stated, the CDO solution does not change anything about the underlying Euro situation. While the inflationary Fed solution was not pursued, you still have an ECB which chooses not to concern itself with the state of periphery nations as well as huge structural imbalances between members of the EMU.

In short, watch this space ...!

Mozilla outs un-Google site sign-in prototype


Doesn't have to be insecure, but it is as described

1. Key generation should be local and not at the "trusted" keykeeper corporation.

2. Why the necessity to store a history of user's registered sites remotely? At minimum this is a privacy concern, especially if such information is shared with third-parties including governments!

3. Lack of a private keyphrase. An individual is not their computer, even if its linked to an OS account.

4. No mention is made of how to revoke a key if either a computer is stolen or lost (private key) or mail account (public key).

5. If Mozilla is compromised, especially remotely , the cache of all private keys on a machine could also become available. Think of the BitCoin attack where keys were left unencrypted on user's machines. How is this addressed?

News Corp kills BSkyB bid amid 'difficult climate'

Thumb Up

May be better than it first seems ...

Apart from the headline reason, this buys politicians and the regulators some to find a way to prevent future bids from this corporation which already owns a disproportionate amount of the UK press.

In particular, if any News Corp. executives are convicted, perhaps the "Fit and Proper" test may be widened to apply to the bidder rather than the resultant company after a successful bid.

WTO: China being naughty over rare-earth exports


No need to be Devil's advocate. This is actually correct

The primary historically proven way to pull yourself up from a poor subsistence-living country to a rich economy is by export-led managed capitalism. This applies to all of today's rich countries, including Britain and the US (supposedly the homes of free trade and free market), with very few exceptions.

Here are a couple of examples:

- Britain, mid 18th century, moved into the then high-tech woollen manufacturing industry dominated by the Low Countries (Belgium, Netherlands etc) by highly aggressive use of tariff protection (high tariffs for imported woolen cloth - 45% to 55% range, low to zero tax on raw wool imports), export subsidies for cloth manufacturers, regulation that controlled the acceptable quality of manufactured goods so one bad British egg didn't kill the country's reputation, the banning of cloth exports but subsidies for raw materials from colonies. Given that Britain controlled most of the world this had significant detrimental impact on many countries economic development at the time, especially Ireland and the US.

- US, early 19th century, using blueprints advocating the protection of infant industries from the former treasury secretary Hamilton (who also setup the government bond market and promoted the development of the banking system against fierce opposition) doubled import tariffs in manufacturing industries from 12.5% to 25%. By 1820, tariffs were raised to an average of 40% and remained the highest of any country in the world until WW1!

China has decied enough with being the world's raw materials supplier. On a large scale, it's polluting, dangerous, low profit work that is ultimately unsustainable for itself and it's future industries if China were to continue providing 97% of the world's rapidly increasing rare earth mineral needs.

Budget airlines warned over 'hidden' debit card charges

Thumb Up

"Cheap Flights For 50p ! :-)"

Haven't laughed so hard for quite a while - awesome!

On topic: nothing worse than saving cinemas the inconvenience and cost of my physical body occupying their lobbies, queues, telephone system only to be charged an additional 5% minimum even when paying with a debit card!

As the ladies said, the fecking cheek of it all...!

OCZ Vertex bashes users with Blue Screen of Death


The classic get-out-of-jail card again...

"...less than 1 per cent of all our customers are affected"!

Getting to the point where this is marketing speak for "Yes, we f*cked up BUT we're not sorry!"

When will they learn?

Spielberg flung Fox from Transformers 3

Thumb Up


Nice use of portmanteu!


Thumb Up

Think my washing machine is suffering from this too ...

This article made me realise that my washing machine rubber seal may be suffering from a fungus problem!

I did a bit of research and apparently these are the recommended steps to remove it:

1. Obtain some distilled white vinegar or clear malt vinegar or citric acid. Henceforth called "acid".

2. Obtain some soda crystals or *bleach* detergent.

3. Do a highest possible temperature (preferably 90C) first full cycle maintenance wash (no laundry) after putting a cup of crystals/detergent in the tub and a cup of crystals/detergent in the washer drawer.

4. Do a highest possible temperature (preferably 90C) second full cycle maintenance wash by pouring the acid into the drawer at the start of the wash as water is being drawn and heated.

5. After both cycles have completed, open the washing machine door and check under the lip of the seal (hopefully it will be clean). Henceforth, ALWAYS leave the washing machine door permanently open unless its closed for a wash! If you remember nothing else, remember that!!!

If the problem is not eliminated using the steps above, grab a mask, rubber gloves and HG Mould Spray or some other rubber-safe black mould and mildew remover. The protection is important due to the fungus spores AND the Mould Spray's very powerful bleach ingredients.

If that still does not work, replace the washing machine's rubber seal.

Once a month, make it a habit to do a highest possible temperature wash cycle. This can be a normal wash or a maintenance wash.

Apparently, very high temperature wash cycles used to be normal, especially for towel washes, back in the old days before low temperature biological detergents and the ecological movement. This may be a reason why the fungus/mould problem has grown so widespread these days.

Nikon Coolpix P300 compact camera


No competitor to the S95

Without RAW, with worse image quality, smaller sensor, vastly fewer ISO modes, and shorter minimum shutter speed, this camera has about as much chance of competing with the S95 for the majority of its, by now, happily spoilt customer base as a Flip HD!

If you really wanted HD video at this average sensor size, you'd be far better off with either of the two leaders in the digital compat zoom cameras: the Sony HX9V/HX9 for best-in-class video, best-in-class panorama mode, huge feature set and superb focus performance or the Canon SX230/220 HS for the slightly better still image quality and almost as much manual control as the Canon S95.

Both the digital compact zoom leaders come with excellent 16x *optical* zoom and GPS (for the first models I listed). Also, the continuous FPS on the Sony is better than the Nikon P300's, the LCD screen is the same resolution and size, and it even has the same focal length. About the only advantage the Nikon P300 has is the F1.8 aperture!

Citibank hack lifted 200,000 names, emails, acct numbers


Security by warm blanket?

Let me translate some of this finance-speak,

"customer base safe" = retain *number* of thumb-suckers

"customers feeling secure" = as long as the thumber-suckers feel all warm and fuzzy, its ok. Just don't let them know too much, if you can afford it! [cf. Personal Data Privacy and Security Act bill to make it illegal to conceal data breaches in the US]

Oxfam's 'Grow' world hunger plan: More peasants


Now *that* is cynical!

There are actually very good economic arguments to consider rich countries as "Bad Samaritans", especially through their use of the financial conduits, sometimes known as the Unholy Trinity of the IMF, World Bank and WTO.

But to stretch that to purely humanitarian registered charities is ... well, let's just say you've got one hell of a rubber band there!

On the whole, I think Worstall covers most of the points well.

1. However, while he does not say it explicitly, there seems to be an assumption that the market is almost completely sufficient to solve this long-standing problem. I would counter that the role of a developing country's government is critical, especially since Worstall rejects the idea of long term peasantry. For example: import of more advanced farming technology, education/retraining of subsistence farmers, infrastructure development (roads and irrigation, in particular), local/national seed banks, local agricultural methods and knowledge repositories, geographical map creation, careful land management to balance agricultural use vs and industrial and residential use (including energy plants such as natural gas and oil drilling), ecological management (including minimizing de-forestation which has a direct impact on soils and flooding).

2. Futures/forward/option trading can add to price volatility. The whole point of a financial market is to price in information as soon as its available. Unfortunately, that can mean that the market moves well ahead of the underlying commodity (known as the cash market), especially since speculators do not have to hold until physical delivery to make a profit. This issue is aggravated when the cash market is under-developed because there is a large disconnect between the information, knowledge and education of the producers (lets call them the "peasants") versus the speculators/arbitrageurs and hedgers. It also forces one national price for the same physical good, even if different costs accrue regionally. All these characteristics are perfect to eliminate inefficiencies in well-developed cash markets or geo-politically sensitive/controllable goods (e.g. oil) and likely do reduce price volatility in that situation. But they are far from likely to produce the same medium-term/long-term benefits for a developing country's "infant industries", if introduced too early, since the total costs and inefficiencies are so high.

3. Yes, Oxfam are right. Food and crop prices will go up - a LOT in the coming decades. In a sense its already started, corn futures have already hit $7 a bushel, up from $2 a bushel five years ago. In that same period, soybean futures climbed from $6 a bushel to $14 a bushel, and cattle and hog futures hit all-time highs. Consider, the United States is by far the world’s largest grain exporter. It exports about 90 million tons of grain annually, though China requires 80 million tons of grain each year to meet just *one-fifth* of its needs. Consider, for example, more than 90% of the China's population is rural, yet the country's growth continues to set real per-capita growth records year-on-year. Not only will +1 billion people want more food, but they'll want more meat which consumes more grains and much more water. In addition, with all the factors I gave above and more, balancing agriculture and industry in any country is tough, just look at EU CAP policy, but try doing that for +1 billion souls desperate for a better life...!

Bloke drives with knees while manipulating two mobes


I can see why the Germans get upset ...

<quote>A Norfolk Police spokesman said: "Driving while using a mobile phone means you are not concentrating fully on the road. Using one mobile phone is silly but two mobile phones is amazingly silly."</quote>

The English are known for their art of understating instead of saying things directly, especially the worse the event (*), but that astonishing statement from an authority is borderline misleading!

(*) A famous, but at least humorous example: British Airways pilot Eric Moody in 1982, after flying through a cloud of volcanic ash over Indonesia:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them going again. I trust you are not in too much distress."

Naked cyclist streaks through Suffolk village


Maybe the distress was because ...

... he didn't have a helmet?

Reindeer can see in ultraviolet, say boffins


Not necessarily a joke

I wonder if reindeer visual spectrum is shifted upwards towards the higher frequencies, including UV, but cutting off the lower frequencies, i.e. redness, or is it actually broader than the normal human spectrum?

Vodafone touts low-tech phone for app-phobes


At that price it better come with HD audio/Voice and more!

While I greatly applaud any major, Vodafone in this case, resuming the supply of "POT" (Plain Old Telephone) mobiles without all the crap and unnecessary gimmicks that come with modern phones, at the asking price it had better come with some modern improvements like worldwide standard support (GSM 850/900/1800/1900) and/or HD audio.

I mean seriously, look what you can get for that price - even cheaper if you know where to find it: the unlocked, dual-sim, quad-band eKit V600 sold by Telestial and available on Amazon.co.uk (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Telestial-Home-Roam-Kit-V600/dp/B004H2645W). It even comes with a rudimentary camera, mp3 player and video camera ...

So, you can get a full, almost-perfect traveller's phone, with greatly more features, for the same price or less than Vodaphone's offering!

Ricoh reveals paper-bright colour e-paper


So when do I get my Kindle Color?

I may actually be tempted to buy an e-reader if it supported color e-Paper/e-Ink, as long as it also had full support for reading PDFs, e.g. re-flow and font scaling on sub-A4 displays and a fast enough page refresh/turn that didn't kill my visual cortex after ten minutes.

Actually, bugger that for a lark, I'll take any e-Ink/e-Paper reader that actually has full PDF support, even if it is just black and white. Yes, I'm in Europe, so even the next best thing, a Sony PRS-950, is out of the question ...

Eight New Yorkers sue Baidu for $16m


Baidu has a legally targetable US presence

I wondered how it was possible that a foreign firm could be sued by domestic plaintiffs.

I noted that Baidu Inc is actually a component of the US NASDAQ-100 equity share index (BIDU) since Dec 2007. It has achieved this, like other companies, by creating American Depositary Shares (ADS) which link US currency investments back to foreign share holdings via certificates held by custodian banks. But, this would not be enough to be a legal target.

However, according to the SEC filing documents for the ADS, this is a quote from its 'History and Development of the Company': "In November 2010, we established our subsidiary Baidu USA LLC, or Baidu U.S., a research and development facility controlled by Baidu Japan Inc. Baidu U.S. is currently in its start-up stage".

This may explain why despite the index listing since Dec 2007 and public offering since 2005, the plaintiffs have only started proceedings recently. However, I have NO idea how it is possible to sue a government in a domestic court ...

I think in a second life I'm coming back as a US corporate lawyer. These guys must be in constant work and ridiculously paid!

Australia cuts solar subsidies, and not before time


Economics terms

The name for the greater framework that fuels whether to tax or subsidise market activities is "economic externalities" or more specifically negative Pigovian taxes/Pigovian subsidies, in case anyone wants to research the topic further.

To quote Wikipedia, "an [economic] externality (or transaction spillover) is a cost or benefit, not transmitted through prices, incurred by a party who did not agree to the action causing the cost or benefit".

Chinese iPad 2 fanboiz in frenzied fight

Thumb Up

Am I the only old time Register reader? I hope not!

Let's be objective here guys,

"fanboiz" = I think any reasonable person on the street, and certainly in the industry, would consider someone spending hours if not days queuing outside a store, like some movie premiere, in order to own a product would be considered a fanatic. I wouldn't be surprised if the people in the queues would also be proud to be labelled such!

"scalper" = did anyone actually read the linked articles? Not only did they use the word scalper but they used it in exactly the original sense of someone prepared to be turnover a product for profit. Xinhua actually quotes the scalpers hawking their offers, "Stop queuing for the device! You exchange 300 yuan for five hours", i.e. let the scalpers and their families queue for you in exchange for 300 yuan on top of the original price.

"suckers" = this could refer to fanatics and/or scalper customers, but arguably, anyone who is prepared to lose substantial time or money to own a product they could later pick up shortly after release, e.g. in the evening or following days at the original price, is easy to take advantage of and therefore a sucker.

At the end of the day, don't forget this is El Reg, the Vulture, "Biting the hand that feeds IT" and this article is entirely in keeping with this ancient tradition! :)

Revealed: Secret security plan should Kate leave Wills at the altar



Seriously, the funniest article I've read online for a long time!

Well done Marmaduke LaHussy and the Register! Hope you're rewarded with a ton of hits for this one :)

Google Linux servers hit with $5m patent infringement verdict


Software patents are crazy

Guess the Americans are learning this, like so much else, the hard way.

"The jury found that Google did not provide by a "preponderance of evidence" that these clams were invalid." - wtf? Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else: you have to prove you *didn't* infringe on a patent?

- is this specific to the Texan legal jurisdiction?

- cannot this be used as a means to discover how your competitor is doing a task just by claiming it must infringe on your patent?

- given the burden of proof, what is there to stop creating frivolous lawsuits, regardless of the size of your company, just to harass your competitors?

No wonder US lawyers are the most competitive and best paid in the world. It must seem to them the entire world is their oyster ...

Watchdog sniffs Rihanna's 'gently thrusting buttocks'


The best part of this article is its title

"Watchdog sniffs Rihanna's 'gently thrusting buttocks'"

Lester Haines owes me a new keyboard and yay it must be a Friday!

Go Daddy CEO under fire for 'elephant snuff film'


Offense is obvious. A CEO should know better

It's one thing to travel around the world for culling/animal population control. It's quite another to effectively make an "animal snuff" film where you take pride of place in it and then publish it online to a global population.

It's like Jay Leno the US comedian quiped, "See, in America, we like everyone to know the good work we're doing anonymously!"

Fire-quenching electric forcefield backpack invented


@Adrian Challinor, lol

Love the Ghostbusters reference. :)

So muggle scientists (re-)discover the Put-Outer?

Pr0n domain approved by ICANN


ICANN set themselves up for this stupidity twelve years ago

ICANN are their own worst enemy due to complete lack of finer understanding and rigorous clarity on their rules for TLD creation. At the very least, they should have setup a formal process where every risk, doubt and concern for the creation of new contentious domains (i.e. when they receive multiple large conflicting representations) has to be addressed in great detail before ANY kind of final approval is made. This would have tied up ICM for decades and given ICANN the breathing room to learn from their own experiences with other domains, benefits from extended consultation periods and enable them to re-write their own rules under ICM's bid.

In addition, the more time they had given themselves, they would also have given to the world so that people of all viewpoints would realise that when everything to do with "ghetto-ization" of the Net, ICANN becoming the Internet's censor, etc is stripped away, they would essentially be creating a redundant virtual space to be monopolised by a random individual who would be able to receive and charge extra ordinary fees within an entire TLD. That is, its entirely about money making, even to the benefit of ICANN!

In the end, ICANN's multiple conflicting final decision-making and headquarter presence also opened them up to the harshest-consequences and "creative" legal environment the world has ever seen, i.e. the US legal system. I imagine the threat of 9-figure sum damages, and the precedence setting, from such an outcome would have a powerful effect on their ultimate decision, greatly in favour of the complainant, i.e. ICM who would be the beneficiary of the XXX domain.

Fukushima on Thursday: Prospects starting to look good

Thumb Up

Explaining Japanse nuclear issues the proper way!

Young Japanese people don't have Lewis Page to help them know all is "starting to look good". Instead they rely on Nuclear Boy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sakN2hSVxA) - highly recommended for all ages!

'Biggest thing in farming for 10,000 years on horizon'


Huge hidden danger

There is one huge consistent danger that is rarely addressed by both over-zealous pioneers and frankly ignorant consumers (easily influenced regulators being thin protection) exacerbating the danger by not thinking around the implications for current, and more importantly, future source of food, drugs and a sustainable ecosystem:


If a new biotechnology is so sophisticated that it completely trumps nature in one very specific regard, it is both scientifically and commercially tempting to apply it to the most understood and/or commonly available existing (commercial) strains/stock. However, some of the most useful food and drug properties of a species tends to occur across several strains and across geographies - this is rediscovered time and time again. The core reason is of course the piecemeal allocation of resources by a few powerful hands lends itself to specificity rather than looking at the bigger picture - basic economics.

In the time it takes to apply the new technology to common stock, field test it, roll it out to less risky markets and then finally scale up its use across markets, several or indeed many strains of the increasingly unpopular old stock will have disappeared from use. Also, often new technology brings new processes and it's these that tend to have the biggest impact on older methods which may have had a far smaller (and *known*) impact on the ecosystem.

If you do not believe this happens even with non-revolutionary biotech, just read about the proliferation of common rice, corn and even cattle at the expense of indigenous stock which is often far more adapted to their own ecosystem with completely unique properties.

Telespial Systems Trackstick Mini GPS


There are much better value products out there!

Take the Qstarz BT-Q1000ex: has every feature of the Trackstick except the bundled "magnetic clamp". However, in addition it has:

* sensitivity of -165dBm and 66-Channel tracking due to the cutting edge MTK II chipset. This chipset was so good even in pre-production that Garmin (global leader in satnav) snapped them up like hotcakes.

* geotagger, sports tracker, lap timer all in one.

* 1Hz normal mode down to 5Hz (once every 0.2sec!) ability.

* customizable logging every X seconds, Y meters and Z km/h (X,Y,Z can apply at the same time)

* 1Hz normal mode battery life is 42 hours. If you configure the logging rate to every 5 seconds, I would imagine the battery life is 5 times longer. I know photographers have used the previous very successful Qstarz BT-Q1000 for weeks at a time.

* can store 400,000 datapoints instead of just 16,000 before data is overwritten!

* has a USB and Bluetooth interface for data. USB also for charging.

* USB/Bluetooth interface means it can simultaneously function as a wired and wireless receiver including as a G-Mouse to mobile devices.

* it can take advantage of Assisted GPS where available to guarantee an extremely fast GPS signal acquisition. Not that it needed it in my case, it rarely took longer than 15s to acquire.

* comes bundled with QTravel (geotagging software), QSports (sports tracking) and the very powerful Lap Timing Analysis software.

* comes with on-case switches to instantly toggle between the base 1Hz mode and extreme 5Hz mode, also has a POI/waypoint button to quickly highlight specific waypoints.

* has a built-in vibration sensor to intelligently save power and memory if the device has not been touched for extended period of time.

* url: http://www.qstarz.com/Products/GPS%20Products/BT-Q1000EX-F.htm

All that for less than half the price of the Trackstick! Needless to say, I have one and have had one for about 3 months. I use it mainly for geotagging since I already had a Garmin Forerunner for sports. The main attraction was the phenomenal battery life, software and comprehensiveness of all features I could possibly want in a GPS tracker now or in future at a very affordable price! I have it in my standard bag when I go out. I don't even need to remember to switch it off due to the vibration sensor. It's a true fire and forget it device and a single charge lasts for well over a week for me at normal 1Hz mode.

Copyright wally of the week


Strange El Reg reader responses!

Put yourself in Andrew Orlowski's shoes or as the editor of The Register...

Why on earth would you dignify this request with any response other than puzzlement?

Regardless of whether its a not-for-profit organisation or any other context, why on earth would a journalistic company offer any of its works without EITHER acknowledgement OR compensation?

I mean seriously guys, what is wrong with you all? You all work or have worked in real life at some point, I assume. Or am I totally missing some hidden point since last time I looked there are very few non-religious people/organisations who work for absolutely NOTHING!

New prototype US spy satellite rushed into active use



I wonder how they calibrated it to be effective in front-line situations. It seems to me that this system would be pretty sensitive to terrain, other geographical issues, different types of human settlement (energy use etc) and different types of enemy weapon deploys (not just different weapons).

The required amount of processor and data storage required for this type of top-down flexibility would seem to be staggeringly large to have on a satellite. However, assuming it has had some measure of success, it can only improve and probably quite substantially with time as the calibration continues to improve against real front-line cases and with software updates on the satellites.

It's so impressive (or soon will be), I'm going to throw away my tinfoil hat - it's useless!

Arctic microbes 'could survive on Mars'


Teraforming here we come?

What's betting these microbes and a few plants will be the first tools in the new science of Teraforming!

Getting my coat for a spot of skinny dipping on Mars!

Wikileaks' US army 'leaker' arrested


Leaking != Whistleblowing

By definition Whistleblowing is the reporting of insider information to a higher authority or the general public (arguably the highest authority) due to concern regarding specific wrongdoings, misconduct, or believed illegal activities within an organisation.

Just because Whistleblowing uses the tools of Leaking does not making it simply Leaking.

In this case, acting as continuous leak over time of as much information that can be conveniently and arbitrarily harvested from "Top Secret" sources is not Whistleblowing at all but arguably just as illegal or wrong as some of the very activities Manning originally reported on.

It basically looks like Manning let a successful spot of Whistleblowing go to his head and he thought he'd *leak* everything he could get his hands on as a way of further inflating his ego.

In short, if a whistleblower has an ego, they've already failed since by definition they are meant to be putting themselves at considerable risk for everyone else's sake!

Mozilla and Opera call for Google open codec in HTML5 spec


Open Source is laudable but in this case inferior

VP8 is a clearly technically inferior codec than H.264 (http://x264dev.multimedia.cx/?p=377).

Despite VP8 now being Open Source, why would you force a very broad Internet standard for future use to hardcode a fixed technical solution to one small part of its repertoire, especially if that fixed solution is already inferior to its current competitors.

Amazon Kindle flunked by college students


Re-inventing paper?!

1. Fire

2. Clothes

3. Ink

4. Paper

5. Wheel

Amazon trying to re-invent paper? Whatever next?

Ten Essential... Gaming Mice


Mouse=control and control requires context. Here's mine:

I've never really felt a need for another mouse after I upgraded from ball mice to the Logitech MX518.

It is a right handed mouse that is not too big like most mice, in particular Razer mice which tend to be huge. This is important since many old-school competitive gamers do not control their mouse from the shoulder but completely using only their fingertips. This requires a small light slippery mouse with high DPI.

It is an optical (LED) rather than laser mouse. While this means its sensitivity maximum is likely to be far lower, it also means the on-board DSP does not need to be as complex to interpret movement against a large variety of surfaces unlike a laser. After all a typical gamer knows that the mouse surface is just as important as the mouse and will typically obtain the smoothest and most uniform surface available to them anyway. Why is this important? Well, for example, I bought a Logitech G5 laser gaming mouse for another PC and while it had all the usual laser advantages against any surface and high max DPI, the cursor also occassionally and temporarily "stuck" for unknown reasons even on a smooth pad. No such sticking ever occurred even once on my MX518 on the same pad (Func Industries Surface 1030).

It has full sensitivity control via extra little buttons above and below the middle scroll button.

Its feet/pads are unbelievably smooth and slippery - even more than the Logitech G5.

It is lighter than the Logitech G5 (excluding the additional weights which can be added on the G5).

It has two buttons on the left (thumb) side rather than one button and a wobbly scrollmouse like the G5. These are unbelievably useful buttons because in combination with the middle button can be used to put all keyboard modifier keys on the mouse (shift, alt, ctrl) and therefore easily triple the number of available controls in many games (especially World of Warcraft). Or the buttons can be programmed with most games or via Logitech bundled gaming software or the free XMouse to do anything.

It's amazing how a five year old mouse still beats the pants of most new devices :)

Of the reviewed mice, only the Razer Imperator and Deathadder look suitable for my needs (assuming they are not too big) and I'm fascinated by these "adjustable thumb buttons" of the Imperator - I will have to read more about them elsewhere!

Flash embraces Google's open video codec


Apple H264 interest as great as Microsoft


While I understand the principle of your argument, it relies on enough key members against the H264 standard.

In particular, Apple is not only a member of the MPEG-LA H.264/MPEG-4 AVC patent pool and therefore a licensor as much as Microsoft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPEG_LA), but in addition have a large vested interest in it since they have already heavily invested in optimising their software and hardware for H264. In fact, as far as they are concerned it is "The New Industry Standard" (http://www.apple.com/quicktime/technologies/h264/).

So, I'd be shocked if Apple is either an early adopter of VP8 or ever invest more than token support into it if they do.

Canadian mobe firm sued over disappearing husband


@AC, "Silly"

From your first paragraph you seem to not understand the main technical issue in this case and the reason why the article is valuable and not just tabloid material.

Some telco providers bundle billing if they are linked to the same address. Specifically, it seems to be common with cable companies. In other words, for almost all practical purposes the account is in the name of the *address* not the person who opened the contract. So, what almost certainly happened in this case is that regardless of whose name was used for the primary services to that address, it would have been organisationally simple for the telco to add any other services linked to that address, which happened to include the woman's mobile contract and its billing. Whether this was intentional or not would be a very interesting question...

On a related note, Virgin Media do the same type of address bundling for billing. When I last enquired about additional landline telephone line services to our address (mid 2009), I was told that it was impossible for them to send separate bills for the services and it was impossible for them to have separate accounts at the same household. Obviously, I refused to take up the additional services with them (even though they were the cheapest offer) because there's no way I'd either want to manually go through a comprehensive bill and separate out the charges every month and, to be honest, I really really did not want to be financially linked (credit report etc) to another person.

Pirate Bay resurfaces after German legal depth-charge

Thumb Down

@John Oates - article writer

Article time: 08h56 GMT

Current time: 9h02 GMT

"currently offline" - no it is not. I can browse and download from it...

"apparently forced to close by a German court injunction filed last week" - how has this been verified by author? How did you verify any downtime is linked to a closure instead of a random or scheduled outage by the host just like any other site on the Internet?

Is someone desperate to write *any* story perhaps and simply include a catchy/fashionable term in the headline?

If so, this seems part of a recent trend (perhaps being exaggerated by Google News front page). It would be, for example, even more desperate than a recent UK BBC News article entitled "Suffolk school sealed off after gun drama" when if you actually listened/read about the story there was no relationship between the "gun drama" and the school whatsoever. It just happened to fall within the police public cordon!

Siphon Wars: Pressurist weighs into Gravitite boffin



"operative force in a siphon"

The keyword is operative. You do not need an atmospheric/gas pressure *differential* to operate, i.e. maintain the siphon. Whereas you do REQUIRE gravity.

Bill Gates backs ball-busting ultrasound


Tin foil lining in my Calvin Kleins?

With fertility in the developed world continuing to drop combined with modern knowledge economy stresses leading to deferred child-rearing, there is or should be little incentive in these regions to introduce yet another form of contraception with completely unknown long-term consequences.

I mean seriously...if you were a male, who would not under other circumstances be required to be chemically castrated, why on earth would you chose to have your "balls busted" like this? Mmm, condom or busted balls...condom or busted balls - tricky one!

I'm guessing this one is for fire-and-forget mass contraception/neutering short term in the developing world...

If not, I demand tin foil lining in my Calvin Kleins in case someone figures out how to make portable ultrasound hit-and-fry gonad devices!

Cowon iAudio V5 HD media player


AAC almost certainly is supported but no ID3 is total game breaker for many!

To article writer, Alun Taylor, did you actually test playback of AAC files? Try, renaming as necessary too, i.e. .aac, .m4a, .m4b.

I suspect that like most (if not all) Cowon products, the product specifications and manuals do not mention AAC playback but it actually does work. I have owned four different Cowon devices over five years and it has always been supported, despite the product description. Other Cowon users have reported the same on various forums. I have no idea why its never "officially" supported though - some sort of licensing issue perhaps?

However, lack of ID3 tagging if true is totally laughable and a game breaker for many, including at least one formerly loyal Cowon customer.

Facebook farms out 'social graph' to Microsoft and chums

Paris Hilton

Aren't you all missing the point?

Google is far from just a search engine company these days. The author must have meant a future revenue space and source of profits will be the overlap of targetted advertising and social networking. Google is a master of advertising and is trying to make GMail et al. a type of social networking. Facebook, whether you like it or not, is a master of social networking at the moment. With Facebook giving out information that enables targetted advertising, it is trying to compete in a similar future revenue space as Google.

As for Microsoft, they already have search services, social networking and limited targetted advertising. So, a future partnership with Facebook to compete against the monster that is Google doesn't seem completely unlikely.

That said, I can't see Google getting its knickers in a twist over just this...

Paris, because she should knows twisted knickers when she sees some!