* Posts by Steve

46 publicly visible posts • joined 30 May 2007

China wants parental control of all PCs


provide or use?

Is it going to be compulsory for users to use this software, or just compulsory for PC sellers to provide it?

The fact that the sellers can either pre-install it or provide a CD with the PC suggests it is only going to be the provision that is required, not that the users must install (or keep installed) the software.


Wolfram Alpha to venture beyond boron nucleus



My first thought was disappointing, but after I stopped expecting it to give me information and figured out that it deals solely with data, I now think WA is a fascinating, if very geeky, tool. I can't really think of any real-world use that I could put it to, but I guess it isn't aimed at people like me who don't use statistics and numerical data with any regularity.. As a concept it is impressive though.

Some of the odd things you can get it to do (although why you'd need to is another thing..):

Convert obscure units: "50mph as furlongs per fortnight"

Basic maths with food: "cheeseburger + 5 sticks of celery + orange juice"

Maths with dinosaurs too: "weight velociraptor * 100 / weight tyrannosaurus"

See how much a film sequel was a flop: "box office total jaws, jaws 2"

Genealogical relationships: "grandfather's grandmother's cousin's grandson's aunt"

Street View forced to reshoot Japan


Re: Here she is

I'm guessing it's the one with police coming out? The one that looks far more expensively done up and decorated than all the surrounding ones?


Virgin Media to add 500k homes to cable network


Here be titles

"there are plans for a system to allow members of the public to report unused ducts"

Excellent, I'll just nip out and get my crowbar and go nosing into all the manholes up the road.


Apple prepping 32GB iPhone 3.0?


FM transmitter?

Could the rumoured FM support actually be a built in FM transmitter rather than a receiver? So that you can listen to music/phone conversations of the car in front of you in a traffic jam?


Adobe PSD pushes programmer too far


Mixed views

While I can understand his frustration entirely, and his desire to rant about incomprehensible formats, I can't help but wonder whether if he had gone through the bureaucratic nightmare necessary to obtain the format specification and documents rather than presumably attempt to reverse engineer the mess, they might have actually helped understand it and made life easier? Probably not, but I can wonder...


Study finds IT heads not interested in power saving


Go away, I'm sleeping.

We currently have a policy that equipment should be turned off when you're away from your desk for a period which appears to work well enough for a small institution - certainly staff machines/monitors aren't left on overnight and many are turned off over lunchtimes. Our 24 hour student lab have settings that mean they should go to sleep when machines are idle and not logged in.

However, I still have doubts as to how reliably computers go to sleep and resume properly if they are in use. Network connections will be broken so our accounts staff will all lose their ssh connections to the server. It may also be due to Netware, but we've found that if the network link to the server breaks, the drive mappings don't always get re-established and documents left open can't easily be saved since we deny users write permission to the local hard disk. This may work better in an Active Directory environment. Time will tell.

Even at home on a modern Vista machine, if I hibernate about 1 time in 10 it hangs on going into sleep and everything is lost on restart. And it never actually turns off either so you're still left using power. That problem is probably down to something I'm running, or a driver that is interfering with the shutdown (although can't see what since the display is the first thing to get deactivated). But these potential issues just make me wary of pushing that sort of unreliability out onto our staff without sufficient testing that I don't currently have time to do.

Finally, I've just measured the power consumption of a Dell Optiplex, the same as we have in our student computer lab. When sitting idle, it draws 68-75W. When I put it into standby, it is still using 58W. Therefore putting idle computers to sleep doesn't appear to save as much power as might be expected - certainly that's no reason not to do so since every little does help.

But perhaps another answer is having a policy of turning off rather than passing the buck and making it an IT problem. It uses even less power (around 2W) and there's no worry about returning to the desk to find missing work since you will have saved it before turning off the machine. Sure there's the time it then takes to boot back up, virus check etc - and the added power consumption of the boot process but managers need to weigh up the implications in cost, time and greenness and not just rely, as usual, on IT staff producing a magic bullet that achieves everything.


Self-replicating machine replicates


Re: Slight correction

"My understanding is that this is not included (currently) in the 'offical roadmap' for future versions but it is being done by one of the core team so may eventually become 'canon'."

So is this a 'canon' printer then?


Pirate Bay guilty verdict: Now what?

Black Helicopters

Call me a conspiratorist (or something)

..but wasn't it convenient that the pre-release of the Wolverine movie was leaked in a very high-profile way while this case was rattling on through the courts. The movie industry couldn't have had better luck if they'd planned it themselves. And of course since it was so unfinished, most people would still go and see it in the cinema anyway..


Man gets life for killing game-obsessed partner


Anti-proof at last

Since the culprit here was the one not playing the game, clearly we have here evidence that *not* playing violent games causes violent behaviour..


Bucks village repels Street View spycar


Property values

Leaving arguments about photography on public streets for others (and if it's the same Broughton I'm thinking of, it's a very olde-worlde village very popular with tourists - and their cameras), maybe Google should insert their own streetview images (with small print) that portray it as a downtrodden 3rd world slum community and see what that does to the property values and tourism? Or am I just being too cruel?


BT Wholesale cuts off Prodigy Internet



The MAC lets you migrate straight from one provider to another without having to cancel, wait for the provider's tag to be removed from the line, then when it's clear sign up with a new provider and wait for that to be processed. You get the MAC, give that to the new provider and it all just happens, normally minimal downtime on the day that the changeover happens, and often no new connection fee.

As I understand it anyway...


Police union leader calls for 'killer games' sales ban


Not just games

Oh no, he played Counterstrike. I bet he used an office application too. Should we ban word processors because someone who went on a killing spree had spent hours using them?

Clearly someone has decided that the use of a spreadsheet doesn't lead to violence, but yet a game does? (In my experiences the reverse is true - my frustration levels rise trying to figure out how to do tasks in Excel, but playing a bit of an FPS allows me to release my tension in a controlled and safe way)


Palm bets the farm on WebOS


Re: I'll support them

My Lifedrive has wifi? Only 802.11b, but wifi nonetheless... The whole thing was a bit clunky though but made a good satnav unit..

Mystery chip found inside talking iPod Shuffle's earphones


3rd parties

Surely if 3rd party companies have already produced alternate headphones for the new ipod, they must work with it? And so either the chip isn't required or is something that they have fitted into the new ones?

Royal Mail disses runaway post van man


Could be worse

Could have been worse, they could have accused him of theft or of attempting to gain entry by opening the door...

The Borings renew Street View fight


driveway vs road

Is it a private driveway or a private road? I've seen references to both terms in various articles.

If it's a private driveway, it is their property and if they're the sort to complain about people turning round in their driveway then they have a point.

A private road though is not their personal property, it's just a road collectively owned and maintained by the houses on it rather than the council, and while they might object, other houses on that road may have wanted to be included.

I can't really imagine a Google car driving up someone's driveway to their house, so I always assumed it was a private road. I could probably look it up on Google Earth, but to be honest I'm not that interested in their boring lives...

And since they could easily have simply asked for the images to be removed but didn't, it's clear (to me) they're seeing this as a get-rich-quick scheme.

Intel sues Psion over 'netbook' trademark


2003/2006? And apparently that wasn't sufficient as a title.

"Untrue? Yes, Intel maintains, because Psion discontinued its last Netbook, the Netbook Pro, in 2003, so it had not being using the trademark for five consecutive years up to late 2006 as claimed."

But if they were still selling them in 2003, with 3 years warranty say, that would mean that they were still supporting/maintaining them until 2006. Surely that's enough?

Usually I'm against companies expecting to get/keep a trademark on a generic word, but in this case 'netbook' wasn't a word until Psion created it.

As for hoover as a generic word, I did hear once that James Dyson's dream was to hear someone in the street talking about 'dysoning the house' because it would show that his product had reached a certain level of market saturation to be that well known. No idea if it's true or not...


Website changes link text to settle trade mark fight


Click here

I hereby claim 'click here' as a trademark and intend to go after any website using it as an embedded link..

Whose notebook is it anyway?



We try to keep hardware as consistent as possible for most users, with new machines refreshing for key staff who use computers as their primary tool, with their old ones cascading down to those who just occasionally use them to check email etc. Very few laptops for staff. Users all have non-privileged accounts after we found one key department many years ago infested with viruses and keyloggers because they insisted on opening any random-crap flash game or cute puppy jpeg they received by email or found online...

And that's my biggest frustration - the amount of software, especially stuff aimed at businesses such as HR's personnel database, our bank's BACS transfer software or fund raising management software that *assumes* the user has full admin rights and expects to be able to write to the Program Files and Windows directories (usually only a pointless lock file, or rewriting some config file on exit). You'd think these days that companies providing software purely for commercial use would be geared up to customers wanting to maintain security and control of software installation but I've lost count of the number of times I've had fruitless discussions with support people whose sole answer is that the documentation says the users must have administrator rights...


Google G1 successor spied in video?



The battery definitely has 'Dream G2' printed on it.. not that that proves anything...


Take a hammer to your hard drive, shrieks Which?


DoD secure deletion?

Isn't the DoD level of data deletion simply to leave it in a train/taxi/restaurant though?

I had some data here earlier. Now it's gone. Woohoo!


Academics warn of EU 'three strikes' back door plan


Re: Perfectly reasonable

I'll probably be about the 35th person to reply to this post by now, but still...

Yes, I agree with your comments that if you are pirating stuff then you're fair game. And yes, that extends to checking what your kids are doing and making sure your wireless is secure etc etc.

My concern is how they will do this. The ISP looking for traffic that resembles P2P is of no use since many legitimate things distribute themselves like this now. And no, I'm not just talking about choosing to download 'linux ISOs' via torrent. iPlayer, 4oD, Skype all use P2P mechanisms to transfer data. Software such as World of Warcraft I believe uses P2P to download updated game content from other users. It makes sense financially for more companies to use it as a distribution method rather than paying for huge amounts of bandwidth to cater for everyone downloading from the same place.

So the only other option is, as is done now, just acting blindly on allegations made by the industry. Which as we've seen is not 100% reliable. We receive cease and desist letters for IP addresses that turn out to belong to devices such as printers, and/or which are provably not in use (based on traffic logs and network flow data).

My disagreement is not because of people being warned or disconnected who have broken the law, but those who haven't...


US satellite returns first hi-res snap


@High Res...?

It's higher res than the current satellite stuff. Look at most of Scotland, Wales or Ireland it's just fuzzy blobs. Most of the high res images that it has are (I understand) from planes rather than satellite, and presumably have to be agreed with and licensed from each country/region - they also don't update very often so much of England's hi-res imagery hasn't been updated in a few years. I guess this will offer a consistent level of detail across the globe and be more up-to-date? Although the problem with satellites is that they have to fly above the cloud...

NASA mulls nuclear Moon reactor


NASA funding

Perhaps this idea is to help provide more funding for NASA. Turning the moon into a giant advertising billboard needs a good power source...

Vodafone says termination rate clampdown would hit the poor


Re: Cold Calling and the TPS

"Sick of getting cold calls, sign-up to the TPS:"

I have, but sadly they've found a loophole. Apparently market surveys and the like are excluded, so I've recently had an increase in firms calling me to conduct 'surveys' - ie, wanting to ask me one or two questions that they can then push their product with. One caller got very shirty with me when I said I'd signed up with the TPS and was implying I was stupid for not knowing this exclusion meant it was his right to call me. I will not buy from companies that cold call, especially not if their callers are pushy and refuse to go away when asked politely to do so.


Asus goes official on extended Eee PC line-up


It's simple

Look, it's simple. The 900 range is all .. no, wait. All of the 1000 series are .. OK, I'll start with the .. Oh screw it, I'm going to buy an Aspire One instead, it's easier...


iPhone 3G not compatible with existing accessories


Re: And this is new?

"And in other late breaking news el Reg announces that a user has discovered that his old Nokia 3.5mm charger won't fit his new Nokia phone's 2mm socket."

Yes, but at least Nokia included an adapter in the box that lets me plug my old 3.5mm charger in...

One day I might remember where I put it.


BOFH: The admin gene


drip, drip, click

I too can sense when things feel .. different. Only the other day I was able to pick up the sound of the aircon starting to drip water across a noisy room..

As for user problems magically fixing themselves just by walking into a room - I thought that was down to the user actually taking more care to read the message and click the right box when I'm watching them than when they're complaining over the phone... Once or twice I even carried a magic wand and just waved it to make problems go away :)


Scareware package greets marks by name


OEM installs

Won't a lot of people likely to fall for this just see a message targetting a 'Mr OEMUser' or 'Sony Valued Customer' or some such generic name? Although I'd expect anyone who would fall for it to just click yes no matter what the message said.


The war on photographers - you're all al Qaeda suspects now


@Steve Davis

I have no idea what a 'Mr Twister' is - some sort of kids play area? At a leisure place near here they ban cameras in case someone takes photos of kids unless you have written consent from every parent in the place, and must provide proof of address and other personal information in case of future complaints. However, if you want photos, their photographer will take them for you and you can buy prints at a whopping fee... Clearly a lucrative thing to be able to ban something on dubious legal grounds while charging to do the same thing themselves...



Not just the British police

Last year while driving across the border from Switzerland into Italy I had a video camera mounted on the dashboard which was recording. Normally I switch it off going through customs checkpoints since they can get a bit funny about it, but this particular checkpoint was a good couple of miles inside Italy. He first tried asking for a bribe, in English, but when no cigarettes appeared his English skills deteriorated and he insisted on making me rewind and erase the section in which he appeared.

Whether he wanted to enforce a law prohibiting filming of police officers or official buildings, or just to make sure he couldn't be seen/heard asking for cigarettes is another question...


O2 prices up the latest iPhone


@Andy Kay

"Didnt Jobs say the iPhone 2.0 will be $9.99 for iPod touch owners?"

That's a software upgrade - just gives the touch (or iphone 1.0) the ability to open Works/Office files, improved calculator, better email client etc - it doesn't give you a whole iphone or hardware upgrades for 3G/GPS.

Spyware targets frustrated GTA IV gamers


Got it, no time to play

I ordered mine a couple of weeks ago from Tesco since Play, Amazon etc all said they'd exceeded their initial numbers so would be shipped after 1st May. Mine turned up this morning while other people I know who ordered months ago are still waiting.

But I'm away from this evening so will have no time to look at it until next week or so, so have lent it to one of my friends who hasn't got his copy yet.

eBay forces Aussies to use Paypal


compulsory paypal

It's interesting to note that with ebay UK about to make it compulsory to offer paypal on all auctions, and talking about making it policy that if a buyer wants to pay with paypal, you have to accept it no matter what, they're not changing the rules that mean paypal will always find in favour of the buyer and refund if no online trackable postage is provided. Even if the buyer has collected the item in person before claiming non-delivery and you provide paypal with signed receipts and photos...

According to ebay, buyers don't commit fraud.

Ebay, meanwhile, notch up a percentage of the value as a fee, plus another percentage as a paypal transaction...

Dead wife contacts Lancs man via SMS



I dread to think what the roaming charges are from the other side. She's probably already pawned her families souls to pay for it...


Intel shows Atom-powered Eee PC clones


Missing the obvious

But you fail to answer the most pressing question about these new models - how well do they work on a beach? Unless prospective customers can clearly see it illustrated that they can cope with the rigors of beach use, I'm afraid they're doomed.

Missing: 80GB PS3. Last seen: Sony's website



"Please let me know of any PS3 game that won't work if you have only the 20Gb HDD, 2 USB ports, no card reader and no PS2 emulation (i.e. the SKU with the least features). Then try playing Burnout Paradise online on a 360 Arcade..."

Don't get me wrong, that wasn't an anti-PS3 rant, it was just an observation at consoles in general, Sony and MS alike but I've not been looking at 360 options to comment. It's good that no PS3 games currently don't work on the lowest model but is there any guarantee that something coming out in two months time won't require something that's missing? If Burnout has problems on a variant of 360, that reinforces my point - that unlike PCs, consoles should be a known quantity and should just work, ideally without needing a shedload of patches and bugfixes (but that's another rant altogether...)



'simple' consoles

The whole advantage of a console used to be that it was a single model with no options and therefore developers knew what they were writing for, unlike PCs with different processors, graphics and so on. We're now getting to the stage where PS3s have different amounts of disk, different numbers of USB ports, some have card readers and others don't, some have PS2 emulation and others don't... At this rate, there's going to be games that only work on certain models of supposedly identical console. We've already seen that with the PSP, the newer one has a faster CPU and presumably other changes, and Skype is only available on the new one.

Tiscali executes stealth LLU migrations


Bah, unbundled.

I got home today to find my connection has been unbundled and stolen by Tiscali. I don't do much in the way of huge downloads and it's pretty much all legitimate stuff - linux ISOs and the like. Performance now is atrocious, although it seems like it's a Tiscali web filter causing the problems - speedtest over the Tiscali line gives me <1Mbps rather than the 6+ I was getting last week, but if I VPN to the office and run it again I get around 6 still, so I have the bandwidth down...

The two things that are not acceptable though are that the upstream bandwidth has been slashed from 448 to 288, and that the static IP that Pipex charged extra for has been thrown away without asking or warning, and now I have a dynamic Tiscali address for the same money, which is no use at all when I want to connect home.

Sadly I renegotiated (and am presumably bound by a new 12 month contract) just before Tiscali bought them, so I have another 5 months to go. But if they think they can hold me to a penalty clause when they have crippled the connection, discarded my static IP and generally caused me a lot of inconvenience, then they have another thing coming.

Honda shows off space-dwarf robot butler capability



They could at least build a bowl or similar container on the robot's head so that it could carry nuts and other nibbles around the room while it carries drinks about and plots world domination.

Nintendo kills Wii ads due to console shortage

Black Helicopters

Plenty of Wiis elsewhere

Nintendo should check their records. Clearly they've shipped plenty to mainland Europe where there are no shortages. High street shops in Germany have piles of hundreds of consoles. (literally - the first shop I went to had a pallet that was 5x6 boxes, stacked about 8 high).

So, did the Germans just get their towels on them first or are Nintendo not being entirely honest about production numbers and are engineering a demand in our island nation?

Vodafone billing woes continue


That reminds me

Must be time for me to call Vodafone and rant at them again - I took out a business contract and was assured that bills would be sent to the accounts department, but Vodafone set up a direct debit to my personal bank account without any authorisation. They claimed they only needed my bank details as a credit check and I expressly told them that was not to be used for billing, which they confirmed.. Since then everyone from Vodafone I've spoken to has just told me I need to speak to someone else. Not a major deal, just hassle trying to claim back each month.

This month's bill looks correct, but the website is showing £39 of calls on top of my free minutes for next month. OK, I was roaming but supposedly using the passport to do so, so the few calls I made were supposed to be a flat 65p or so. However, their online itemised billing page is broken so I can't see what they claim I used.

Google Earth for charidee


Re; US Based

"You mean like Baseball WORLD Series competition"

Apparently they have a couple of games against Canada, thus justifying the 'world' tag.

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"I can see there being a outcry if nigger is used in the film, and an equally big outcry if the PC brigade get it censored out of the film"

The word was censored for both dog and codeword (actually dubbed as Trigger) in the US showings of the original 1955 film, so I don't imagine the remake will be any different.

Google Earth unearths crashed Darfur gunrunning plane


Old pictures

According to Google Earth's 'coverage' layer, the newest photos of that area are from mid-2006. Assuming that data is kept current anyway...