* Posts by spl23

16 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Mar 2010

Up close with the 'New Psion' Gemini: Specs, pics, and genesis of this QWERTY pocketbook


Re: Series 5 keyboard

I attended a meeting with Microsoft's mobile team in Seattle in 1999 or thereabouts. When I arrived, I unloaded my Macintosh PowerBook and Psion 5mx and set them up on the desk in front of me. I looked up and saw I was being looked at with a degree of distaste, at which point I said "Ah - sorry about that - I shouldn't really have come here with a Mac, should I?" To which they responded - "We don't mind the Mac - but we really don't like the Psion..."

Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5


Sonos legacy support...

This isn't half as annoying as Sonos moving away from supporting the dedicated CR100 and CR200 controllers that they used to sell purely for controlling the system. I own two of each, and it is clear that at some point in the future, Sonos are going to dump those as well.

They worked much better than the old iOS controllers, as they were connected to the system all the time - no lag while the iOS device connected to your wifi and then looked for the Sonos.

Ancient telly, check. Sonos sound system, check. OMG WOAH


Seriously - the Reg need to get someone to review stuff who actually understands the tech, not someone whose reaction is akin to that of a lost Amazonian tribesman seeing a car for the first time...

The Playbar is overpriced and was out of date at launch. No HDMI connectivity on a product like this is ludicrous, as is a lack of support for BluRay HD audio codecs. I'm a huge fan of Sonos' audio streaming solution - I have 6 zones worth at home - but the Playbar isn't even tempting. By the time you've bought the bar, the requisite two rear speakers (which need mains cables - hardly convenient) and the sub, you could have bought any number of better quality, more attractive options.

Sonos were well ahead of the curve on home audio streaming when they launched, but they've been treading water ever since - no support for high-def audio, no video streaming - both of those are long overdue. The system is great for what it is, but it's badly in need of an update.

Interwebs taunt Sir Jony over Apple eye candy makeover


Having played with the beta, and as both a user of the iPhone since the first UK release and an ex-UI designer, I can honestly say that this is the best iOS has looked and worked, with one notable exception. The apps all look great; the removal of skeumorphism is long overdue and results in a much cleaner UI. The core changes to iOS like the Control Center are very useful.

But the big problem is the design of the icons. I sincerely hope that the icons in the beta are placeholders for final designs, because they spoil the whole appearance of the home screen.

It's not really the colour palette that's the problem; it's more that there is no consistent style to them. Some look like simplified versions of the originals; some look whimsical (Game Center); some are unnecessarily detailed (Compass, Stocks) - they don't all look as if they belong together on the same device. The big worry is that getting a nice consistent look to the icons is such a fundamental step in a redesign like this that if it hasn't already happened, I fear it may never do so, and releasing the OS with this icon set would be a huge mistake.

BMW offers in-car streaming music for cross-Europe road trips


Re: Free tracking software

I believe BMW already have embedded SIMs to support services like the automatic emergency call if you crash, and the real-time traffic data - both these services have access to a data connection which does not rely on the driver's handset, so presumably there must be an integrated 3G connection with the associated SIM. (And hence the annual charge for access to the services after the first few years.)

The bunker at the end of the world - in Essex


Re: Threads

I remember being shown "A Guide To Armageddon" at school at the age of 12, and I think it is still the single most terrifying experience I have ever had - I hardly slept for three months afterwards, thinking that every plane that passed overhead was an inbound warhead. Truly chilling.

As I got older, I realised how irrational my fears were - and then, more recently, I found out more about incidents such as Able Archer back in 1982 - turns out my fears were not only rational, but that we came far closer to being annihilated on a number of occasions than most of us realise. Now that *is* chilling.


Re: yes

There were a lot of tests done on the survivability of structures like radio masts when exposed to nearby nuclear blasts, and it turned out that big steel framed radio masts actually do pretty well - not much surface area, so the forces are kept fairly low, and most of the blast just passes straight through them. A blast close enough to destroy the bunker would obviously take the mast out, but one a couple of miles away wouldn't necessarily have done so. The most fragile things on the radio masts were the microwave dishes that were used for secure line-of-sight comms between such installations, but they kept spare dishes in storage to replace the ones on the mast after the bangs.

It's long out of print, but if you can find a copy of Peter Laurie's "Beneath The City Streets", he goes into a lot of detail about the secure inter-bunker communications network and its survivability.

RAF graduates first class of new groundbased 'pilots'


"Historically the best EFT graduates are generally sent to fast jets, the best of the rest to large transport or tanker planes and the rest of the rest (of those found suitable to be pilots at all) into helicopters."

Are you sure you've got that the right way around? Speaking as a PPL with a lot of rotary experience, I find it hard to believe you would give slots flying helos to the worst pilots - it requires considerably more dexterity and mental capacity to operate a helicopter than it does to operate a large fixed-wing aircraft. If you're not a good enough pilot to fly a Herc or a tanker, you're really going to struggle with something with rotor blades...

Byte-dock MacBook Pro port replicator


You need to set up Bluetooth to wake the Mac; the Apple-recommended procedure is to boot the Mac, plug in the mains and then close the lid - you then click the mouse button to wake it up.


What about the power button?

There seem to be several of these docking stations appearing, but none of them address the fundamental problem with using a Mac notebook in the closed position - you have to open it up (and hence undock it) every time you want to turn it on.

Apple's "solution" is to leave the notebook in sleep rather than shutting it down, but I tried this for a month or so, and every now and then, your Bluetooth devices fail to wake it, so you have to pull it out of the dock and open it up so you can reboot it.

Until someone puts a power button on the dock, I'm not touching one...

Mr Bean prangs £650k McLaren


Cruddy tabloid journalism

The Times has a photo of the damage, and there is no evidence of fire at all visible. Although I can confirm the sentiment above - it's definitely not going to buff out. Most of the front left wing is ripped off.

Actually, I'm trying to work out how hitting a lamppost with the front left wing of a car whose engine and fuel tank are both mounted behind the driver's seat could ever have resulted in a fire?

And as for it being a "miracle" that RA got out - the F1 was the first car ever to pass MIRA's frontal impact into a concrete block test and still be driveable afterwards. Gordon Murray was so confident in the structural integrity of the carbonfibre tub that he wanted to sit in it while the test was being carried out...

Interestingly, both the Times and the Torygraph mention RA's Ford Falcon racing car, and both misspell it the same way...

RAF Eurofighter Typhoons 'beaten by Pakistani F-16s'



For my sins, I lived in Islamabad for three years in the late 80's. Every morning, regular as clockwork, 2 PAF F-16s would take off from Islamabad airport (which was also a PAF base) and fly in slow circles around the city for an hour, before landing. That was the only flying I ever saw the PAF's fighters do - the local joke was that they didn't want to fly out of sight of the city in case they couldn't find it again...

The RAF are one of the best-trained air forces in the world, before you take the kit into consideration. (My brother was a Harrier pilot for them - he may have slagged the kit occasionally, but I never heard him question the competence and training of the pilots. Unlike those of certain of our closer allies with whom he flew...)

In other words, I don't believe a word of this story. To be honest, I'd bet that if the RAF boys were in the F-16s and the PAF pilots were in the Typhoons, the PAF would still lose any engagement against the RAF...

Arcam FMJ AVR400 AV receiver


Yes, but Arcam sounds better...

Speaking as a long-term Arcam fan who unwisely defected to Denon for a few years before seeing the error of my ways and returning to the fold, the fact that Onkyo, Pioneer et al offer more features for less money is only half the story. The simple truth is that Arcam's amps sound significantly better than the Japanese competition, and that's what matters. The AVR400 deserves to sell like hotcakes to anyone who cares about sound.

The less said about their Blu-Ray player, the BDP100, the better, though - it's a cheap Broadcom reference design with a souped-up stereo DAC that is being sold for a seriously uncompetitive price. Top marks for the amps; null pointe for the BD player...

Synology DS411slim Nas box


Explains why the DS409slim vanished a few months ago...

I bought a DS409slim just as they were getting hard to find to replace an ageing QNAP TS-201. I've been very pleased with it - very fast, masses of functionality, and very quiet in operation, the main advantage of 2.5" drives, which is important if you are using it as an audio server. This new model looks pretty much identical, albeit with double the RAM and a CPU that's 33% faster.

Unless QNAP have fixed their firmware since the TS-209II, I suspect their version has a fan that never turns off - that was the main reason I ditched QNAP and went to Synology. Silence is golden...

Crash grounds RAF Eurofighters - for Battle of Britain Day!


Not just fighters

I went to Sywell Airshow a few weeks ago, hoping to see the Vulcan. It was, unfortunately, grounded due to weather - but the Lancaster did a rather impressive display. Clearly had the Cold War turned hot on a rainy day, we'd have been better off fitting the Blue Danubes to WWII-era Lancasters...

Ad industry OKs climate porn


Space suits?

And you were doing so well, right up until the point at which you threw it all away...

"The moon is the same distance as the earth from the sun, if it had 1 bar pressure wouldn't it have the same temperature? Then why do space suits with 1 bar need heating on the moon?.. Me thinks the gain from a big atmosphere full of CO2 and water is noticeable on cloudy nights and so yes, I think it's clear."

Point 1. Apollo suits weren't pressurised to 1 bar - less than a third of that.

Point 2. The pressure inside a space suit is irrelevant anyway. It isn't in any way analogous to having an atmosphere when it comes to the effect of solar heating - the comparison doesn't even begin to be valid, for dozens of reasons so blindingly obvious that it isn't worth listing them here.

If your evidence for AGW is based on comparing Apollo space suits with the Earth's atmosphere, you clearly don't understand enough to comment.