* Posts by Rob Farnell

46 posts • joined 31 May 2007

Hong Kong visitors get all-in-one guidebook and phone

Rob Farnell

Re: also provides....

Yes this is the first thing that crossed my mind too.

They must be expecting a heavy deposit or they might be in cahoots with the the airline security to not let you leave the country until you've returned the device.

I just wish that someone like Vodafone would stop with this roaming charge crap when it is their network you are on in another country. Madness I tell thee!

Can Oz compete in the outsourcing market?

Rob Farnell

One solution?

There are enough English born people in Australia to emply for local knowledge issues not to be so much of an issue. I also think New Zealand could be on the agenda even though the time difference isn't completely favourable for when the papers come out, but even with slightly offset workdays the wages will be MUCH lower than in Australia.

When I left for New Zealand, my company seriously considered getting me to support their systems after hours as it was cheaper to pay me in daylight hours than it was to pay someone for the inconvenience.

However, I wonder what their contingency is if the intertubes get cut?

US woman sues again over XP 'downgrade', seeks class action

Rob Farnell

I'm sorry but I think some people are missing the point

Vista Basic is a home product and XP Professional is a business product, which is in a different price range no matter its age. Have you ever seen how expensive it is to buy Vista Business/Windows 7 Professional when it isn't OEM?

I'm betting that this woman does not see the distinction!

UK cybercops cuff 19 ZeuS banking Trojan suspects

Rob Farnell

What I am more interested in is

Which banks have rubbish online security so that it is just a matter of sticking on a key logging trojan to get people's credentials? At least the likes of Natwest and HSBC have two-factor security for the majority of the money transfer online functions.

Even Facebook has primitive IP checks to lock your account if it is suddenly accessed from an unexpected range.

I hope the banks don't pull the "It's your fault for revealing your password/pin code" and not pay up.

Google Voice embraced by Apple?

Rob Farnell

Could it not be a matter of perspective?

From a sales perspective, when the Google Voice was initially submitted to the iPhone, the question of whether the iPhone was going to be a real success was still up in the air. Also, the exclusivity deals are falling by the wayside and Apple probably doesn't have to bow down to pressure from them as much. Now I assume they are confident that simply allowing a Google App isn't going to damage them, but actually help them a it starts to remove the gaps between Android and iPhone (excluding walled garden and all).

Greenland ice loss rates 'one-third' of what was thought

Rob Farnell

What the previous researchers need to do

is get out all their SUV's and other CO2/Methane exhaling commodoties and constantly belch them out until the reality matches the original predictions made. Or, they could just let India and China do it for them.

Maybe West Antartica has a newly formed volcano area or maybe it is just aliens.

StreetView passed by Kiwi cops

Rob Farnell

Public data is public

I don't see how this is massively different to someone going along and stating where all the house numbers and names are on a street and then putting it on a map

Invasion of privacy? Maybe. Crime? Well they might have stolen some bandwidth, but so could everyone else in the area.

Half of UK road users support usage-based road charging

Rob Farnell

Hang on

Isn't the tax on fuel a reasonable form of usage cost? The only one's that really get round this are the European lorries that generally fill up before they cross the channel. Obviously it is up for debate where the fuel tax should be spent, but it sounds better than usage-based road charging and the technical and freedom headache that would cause.

Cops cuff man who exposed holes in 'perfect' voting machines

Rob Farnell

Voting machines are always going to be risky

Please someone shoot me down if this is a ridiculous suggestion, but wouldn't it be a cleaner and less corruptible approach to use machine readable cards/paper in the same way that a money teller or a multiple choice exam machine works?

If the machines fail, then so what? It can be manually counted and verified. It is impossible to verify something that doesn't physically exist on a semi-anonymous system.

Can you prove that the system hasn't voted for the people that didn't bother to turn up?

Rise in Latvian botnets prompts Spamhaus row

Rob Farnell

While I agree with you that it isn't at the top of the rights pyramid

Some Governments have put it in as a basic human right. I seem to remember that at least one Scandinavian country has done this.

However, I think they get cold and lonely up there.

Hacking into GSM for only $1500

Rob Farnell

Storm in a teacup?

I don't know the timeline of this, but won't the problem go away when 2G is phased out?

Also, in terms of the notification failure, is it not the handset OS's that are to blame?

On the flipside, if you can get your own antenna for $1500 (depending on how much you actually care if people can listen to your calls), couldn't one just use this to boost the signal in your area kind of like the iPod FM radio attachments that were legitimised?

Amazon takes Kindle to the UK

Rob Farnell
Thumb Up

This actually looks like

a seriously good piece of kit.

I am tempted to purchase the 3G edition and take it abroad, but I can't quite interpret whether they would charge me for the data or not. The US Amazon pages are pretty clear that there is a charge outside the US.

On a purely academical level, I would like to see the Kindle display books consistently with how they appear in the print edition or at least have a function to choose it. It is otherwise impossible to use Kindle books for citation. Note: This may have been fixed, but it wasn't available last time Iooked.

Why mobile data quality matters

Rob Farnell

The real problem for mobile data quality

Is for the types of business roles that mean you could be any location in the UK at any time. You simply cannot rely on the connection to be available (even for a telephone call never mind data). Given that we have had to work around connectivity problems by transferring data whilst travelling or at a stronger connection location, but trying to hunt for those can be an issue on its own. Is 99% reasonable coverage possible at an acceptable cost to the providers? I don't have that answer, but if there could be a promissory that big clients will pay for the service they want to rely on, then it could be a good thing?

Secret docs reveal Dell knew PCs were faulty

Rob Farnell

I saw so many burst capacitors

on Dell Optiplex's that I lost count on the number of replacements we had in the 3 year warranty. I remember talking to an ex-Dell Manager who off the record had been specifically told to mis-diagnose the component failure on the Optiplex.

Some of these devices are still working quite happily since they got a reconditioned motherboard.

You win some, you lose some.

UK.gov preps bonfire of the vanity websites

Rob Farnell

Disabled Farmers

"I mean, how many Web-savvy disabled farmers can there be?!!"

Haven't you read Bill Bryson's - Note's from a big country. Most of the farmers he knew had bits missing or ridiculous injuries from all the moving parts and lack of knowledge/care/h&s/pure curiosity. However, I'd be more surprised if they were Web-savvy.

Vodafone shocks data users with roaming price rise

Rob Farnell

This is starting to become

a real problem. We need some of these special sim companies to provide some competition on the data front.

As I ranted previously, why didn't OFTEL deal with this when they restricted costs of roaming mobile calls and texts? I saw it coming ages ago, why couldn't they? Cross-charging between separate divisions of the same company shouldn't require a discount, but there should be an acceptable ceiling rate whether by time or data transfer.

Mobile Broadband Best Buys

Rob Farnell

Points on Vodafone

When I had to make a decision regarding data for my company around two years ago, I had no choice but to choose Vodafone. This was because we had to have the best coverage as I did not know where the site staff were going to be in the UK. Scotland is still sketchy, but overall it has been a resounding success, especially since the uploading capability was an important factor.

I know a couple of 3 users that have used it for business and they have purportedly had very little problem with them, but they have always used them in strong 3 areas. I did not know about the Orange partnership with 3, which makes the argument to use them even stronger since they undoubtedly win on price.

My biggest beef with all of them is the European tariff and ROW. What were OFTEL thinking when they only targeted mobile calls and texting when it was obvious that the real money was going to be in data in the future? £3 per Mb for Orange is a criminal amount to charge for data, but there isn't a straight forward way to get a pay-as-you go data dongle for your country of choosing. T-mobile and 3 had an offer on their Italian sites for pay as you go dongles at very sensible rates, but I couldn't buy it in the UK and then use it when I got there. I don't care that it is a different division of the same company, it IS the same company. I couldn't get anywhere with Vodafone.

Someone could make some serious money for those big business travellers out there, if they could consolidate charges for data regardless of which country they were in.

Google to be bookseller by summer

Rob Farnell
Thumb Up

Google is desperate to open the data for digitilised books

If Google plays to its strength, it will concentrate on the search element and make everything else a loss-leader.

Maggie Sheils article on the BBC website lead me to believe the following:

You search for "I wandered lonely as a cloud" and I imagine you will start to see commission based links appearing to its partners to purchase the e-books.

I can also imagine like gmail does, that adverts will surround the book/page you are looking at.

From a purely academic perspective, E-books will never fully kick off until citation can become consistent i.e. referring to the correct page of a published edition of a book. Nonetheless, this is a good step forward.

Free Software Foundation urges Google to open On2 codec

Rob Farnell

I just don't get this

Google just spent a small fortune acquiring On2 and people just want them to give its best asset for free. If you think for a moment what will happen if Google don't open it up, I think the motive for purchasing On2 speaks for itself. The two biggest browsers on the market don't support the new HTML5 YouTube, but behold, Google Chrome does and a decent proportion of people will migrate to the browser. If all the Firefox users in the lands used Chrome instead, they could make up the costs for the On2 acquisition by not paying Firefox commission in 1 year.

I'm not sure whether the On2 technology relates to the h264 licensing model, but if it doesn't then isn't this just a moot point?


Mozilla buries heels on un-YouTube open video

Rob Farnell

Why are the browsers being charged for this?

I have a lot of support for the Mozilla browser (I was involved in some of the early development), but they do make a lot of commission with Google for the searches. According to Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation that was $57m in 2006 and I can only imagine it being more now. So after they've paid their 250+ staff, property leases and attributed costs, all the hosting and system support. So after that and some developement costs, where does the rest of the money go? It goes to the Mozilla Corporation? The Wikipedia page does say "Any profits made by the Mozilla Corporation will be invested back into the Mozilla project."

On that note, I don't think the Mozilla Corporation have any choice but to pay for the H264 license or see quite a quick migration to the Google Chrome browser, by the generation that simply move on to the next thing when it stops working (think MySpace). If the H264 license really does cost $5m, then I would be happy to pay $5 for a H264 enabled version of Firefox if it meant never being charged again in stealth website charges (because that will be the way this is all going).

However, think about this from a business perspective, wouldn't it be more profitable to charge for H264 at the website level rather than the browser?

Firefox 3.6 goes live and final

Rob Farnell

Well not the official releases

If you want an optimised build, you can compile it yourself or get someone else to do it:

Some good ones are http://www.binaryturf.com/free-software/blazing-fast-firefox-optimized-distributions/ or here


BBC iPlayer to hit Freesat boxes by month's end

Rob Farnell
Thumb Up

Sounds great

Hopefully my Humax Foxsat HD with the Ethernet port will have its firmware updated to accept this. I'm off to get an access point near my Freesat in anticipation of this working.


Windows 95 to Windows 7: How Microsoft lost its vision

Rob Farnell

A conservative move?

I can't help thinking that it was in the main interest of Microsoft to demonstrate that an OS's consistency and reliability are more important than innovation, especially after the headaches of Vista. Once that trust has come back, which I think it will with Windows 7, then they have breathing space to work on something more experimental without being dogged by the reliability brigade.

I'd love Microsoft to go down the path of Linux (although Hell may freeze over) and have a bleeding edge distribution to experiment with. I'm not talking about stable betas here, but pre-alpha stuff that should never get near granny smith.

AT&T brands Google a net neutocrite

Rob Farnell

Well blow me,

I think AT&T have a point here. But lets not be too hasty here, lets not cut off all the adult chat lines for all those lonely guys (and girls?) out there. The problem here is that if the commission favours AT&T, they can do three things 1) tell Google to get back in line or 2) Change the rules to allow blocking of certain call types or 3) Say Google Voice is not applicable to those rules as a non-traditional service.

The latter option could open a whole bag of worms with the carriers potentially deciding that they don't like certain lines and there's SFA you can do about it. Maybe that is an over generalisation, but it would need to be protected from financial and political abuse.

Wireless charging coming to Latitude?

Rob Farnell

I can only see this working

in public environments. The TED demonstration of the technology was amazing, but you can see the tin hat brigade going insane about it being present anywhere public. It is non-radioactive, but I'm sure someone will find a way to enter litigation.

As for the efficiency, the technology is very young and no doubt it can theoretically be improved.

I'm amazed that Dell have put it into a laptop this early so maybe other agreements are on their way?

British TV firm dumps Silverlight

Rob Farnell
Gates Horns

Is this a surprise?

In a word...no. I am not sure anyone has explained to Microsoft that ubiquitous does not mean people using the many different varieties of Windows products and the way to encourage sign up to silverlight is by cross-operating system support.

In fairness Linux, Apple and PS3 (and to some extent Wii) users dwarf Microsoft's footprint, but they make it an easy decision for people not to select it if the operating system is likely to be inconsistent aka Joe Public.

I actually like silverlight and I think it has matured into something cool, but Microsoft have to let it go into the wild to gain anything like the popularity of flash.

Microsoft at a loss in Word patent case?

Rob Farnell

There's some pretty good commments from Computerworld Blogwatch


It's interesting to see that they went for Vista and .NET but settled to target Word. I'm pretty sure Microsoft will have to settle on this one.

I always knew the Canadians would out manoeuvre the US in something like this!

Taiwan consumer org 'froze' Dell bank account

Rob Farnell

If an online betting company does this...

they can revoke the bet citing a mistake has been made and all bets are off for the odds provided.

If the goods haven't been delivered yet, the issues are comparable. If however Dell had processed the orders and delivered and then noticed the price problems, then they should honour the contract.

They could have PR'd it up as some sort of prize extravaganza, but instead took a hard line that I don't necessarily disagree with.

Electronics giants raise ruckus over Project Canvas

Rob Farnell

@Roger Heathcote

"since when did it become difficult to copy flash content?"

No you are right it isn't difficult to copy FLV and H264 streamed content. However, if you can protect the stream to only allow a salted hashed check file within the embedded client to receive the content then it is going to be very difficult to extract.

I have this itching feeling that the Beeb might even require that you enter your TV license code on the TV's and set top boxes if you want to use the catchup/streaming service.

Rob Farnell

Going the way of DAB?

I think an open standard like Project Canvas is a great idea, but I can see manufacturers e.g. Sony tripping the project up every step of the way and other technology that doesn't cost the user getting there first.

As for the technological Island, have we not learnt from the mistakes of DAB? The UK went on its own and ended up paying for it. DAB+ is now on the horizon after ironing out the majority of the issues and we've yet again been frog leaped by others allowing us to be the Guinea Pigs.

I also think that the recent agreement with Adobe to embed Flash technology in the hardware of TV's and Set-Top Boxes coming out next year is going to be a tough competitor as it is already an established technology with YouTube and the iPlayer. It also means that it would be an added level of difficulty for people to record/copy the content provided.


Google bars Android app makers from their own apps

Rob Farnell

Workaround available in


I think again this is a due diligence action where Google have to demonstrate that they are at least trying to make preventative actions against copyright infringement to keep the clients happy, but it will be a cat and mouse approach to making the occasional fix to whatever breaches the community manage to figure out.

Woolies to be resurrected as online-only store

Rob Farnell

Re: Pick and Mix 2.0

That reminds me of this:

Web 2.0


Especially love the bit with the pizza.

Century-old hydropower plant to run on fudge

Rob Farnell

It's the big elephant in the room...

that no one is talking about.

I think El Reg has hit the nail on the head here. What is going to be the best/cheapest way to generate heat energy. Lighting is no longer a major problem with all the energy efficient bulbs coming on to the market at an affordable price.

Maybe we should change the whole way that energy is produced around the country and consider a group of 20 houses as a quantum that co-generates the energy from the waste that the average family produces (organic or inorganic) and use the heat to acclimatise the houses as a group. Then everyone can install Aga's to do the majority of their cooking.

I don't understand why they are so obsessed about making all transport electric with the inefficiencies that that involves. Get rid of the resistance by superconducting magnets using liquid nitrogen on trains like this toy train example http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=5el1A5B-h3Q . Could you imagine how popular the trains would suddenly become if you knew you were floating on thin air and end of the bumpiness that comes with badly maintained tracks.

OpenSocial, OpenID, and Google Gears: Three technologies for history's dustbin

Rob Farnell

I think you all might want to read this:

GACL, for Gears, Android and Chrome on Linux.


Chrome "the first cloud browser"

Panasonic to bring IPTV into the mainstream

Rob Farnell

Sounds great but..

reminds me of a tiered internet with only selected partners able to provide content:


Arctic ice refuses to melt as ordered

Rob Farnell
Thumb Up

Sleep in bed easier for now

Thank you El Reg for the well reported difference in the polar ice coverage. When you are talking about such a large system such as the Earth's climate with a billion variables, I can't see why people allow themselves to knee-jerk unnecessarily.

1000 years ago it was warm enough in York to have flourishing vineyards (more here: http://www.thirtyfifty.co.uk/spotlight-english-wine.asp ). I think evidence like this with something so colossal as the climate you have to try and look back more than 30-40 years to get any idea of what may come and the natural cycles of the earth's temperature.

US court liberates Cablevision 'remote DVR'

Rob Farnell

Sounds cool

When's something like this coming to the UK?

Driving some value into Google's Street View

Rob Farnell

I sent this to David Cameron last week but haven't had a reply

With the advent of Google Earth and the Google Maps API, the United States with it's freely available postcode information are capable of drawing up amazingly powerful mapping designs using various freely available datasets. The UK is starting to catch on with credit crunch maps - http://www.maptube.org/map.aspx?map.aspx?mapid=163 , ASBO - http://www.maptube.org/map.aspx?mapid=205 and Knife Crime - http://www.maptube.org/map.aspx?mapid=208 . However, the main hindrance of really allowing the UK to endorse this amazing technology is the copyright of the Royal Mail Postcode PAF file and it's associated longitude and latitude information and restricted access to government collected data..

As described here at http://www.showusabetterway.co.uk , there is vast amounts of data that if made public, could make all our lives better and potentially make us all a bit more informed. Until these government collected data sources are available to the public without condition, progress cannot begin. Public data needs to be released to the public without licensing, commercial /legal agreements, logins and passwrods and re-use confusion.

The UK is in danger of falling behind on this and missing out on a new wave of information driven web sites and technology that could generate jobs, skills and profit. Will you attempt to relax copyright on our postal information and open up more datasets to the public?

Kind regards and thanks in advance for your reply,

It's official: The Home Office is listening

Rob Farnell
Paris Hilton

Jigsaw concept

Can you clarify that if I managed to find two pieces of independent information that proved that Paris Hilton was actually intelligent, but kept it a "secret", I would be in breach of the law?

Do two classified pieces of information combined make it un-illegal?

100,000 sign for BT Fon wi-fi love-in

Rob Farnell

The only way I would do this

You would need to beef up your wireless using a separate access point using modified firmware such as DD-WRT ( http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/What_is_DD-WRT%3F ) with FON Hotspot ( http://www.dd-wrt.com/wiki/index.php/FON_Hotspot ) if you wanted to stop people being resource hogs and having any element of control of your own connection.

O2 says 128Kb/s is all its 3G customers need

Rob Farnell

Orange and Vodafone

I have been doing some extensive testing of 3G/UMTS/HDSPA for my company remote file transfer solution.

I saw above a number of people who mentioned a 3Gb fair usage policy on the Orange contracts. Specifically this is a datacard offer on the Business Everywhere solutions at £25 a month


Vodafone also do the same thing for £25 a month but with a 5Gb a month which is a cracking deal. The only downside with the Vodafone offer is that if you are out of a 3G area, the GPRS speeds suck. Orange's EDGE solution works surprisingly well in comparison.

Speed-cam fines topped out in 2005

Rob Farnell

Speed Limit

The common sense attitude that people think is starting to take place should be extended to the speed limits on motorways.

According to Wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit#United_Kingdom ), the speed limit for motorways was set at 70mph in 1965. Over 40 years of motor car evolution has meant cars are safer, have better brakes with ABS, better tyre construction, more stringent MOT's etc yet the speed hasn't been increased.

It is now impossible to drive on a motorway outside peak hours in the fast lane without technically braking the speed limit. It is guaranteed that someone will flash their lights behind you to get past. With the 10% correction on most speedometers required that means roughly 77Mph +2mph for good measure is the current limit, but most people blindly believe their speedometer is correct and so everyone goes even slower.

I do a lot of motorway driving and I can tell you that I feel a lot safer when cars are driving at sensible fast speeds for the conditions with 2+ car distance between each other rather than all bunched up being limited to 70Mph.

Firefox-Google marriage on shaky ground?

Rob Farnell

If there is any ring of truth in this

then there is an element of hypocrisy when it comes to Google and advertising. I'm sure people will recall when they released a pop-up blocker for "all those annoying adverts" for Internet Explorer: http://www.google.com/support/toolbar/bin/topic.py?topic=116

I agree with By, yeah right. when it comes to shopping or browsing I will look when I want to look. I've been on the net for 12 years now and I don't remember buying anything just because an advert popped in my face. Granted I would occasionally click on an advert to see what it was, but it certainly wasn't flashing and making sounds apart from some of these new youtube esque ones that have started to appear.

I'm sitting on the fence on this one because from the webmaster's perspective, someone has to pay for the bandwidth and the hosting and if you don't want to charge the visitors to view the quality of the content you have what choice do you have but to succumb to advertisers. Some have gone down the donation route, but from my experience it is very hit and miss.

Maybe if Adblocker Plus made it easier to select what type of adverts you are willing to see rather than turning it on and off then it would be a much more market friendly product so that we still receive a portion of the adverts for each visit to a site.

New site marries Google, Yahoo!

Rob Farnell

Google don't provide Yahoo's search results


It's true, as well you know, you sneeks, that Google do Yahoo's search results. So searching on yahoo is just like searching on google.


This is no longer true. In around 2004 Yahoo bought Overture who owned AllTheWeb and Altavista and also bought Inktomi incorporated their results as well as the Yahoo Bots to scour the Internet.

Vodafone data bundle pricing slips out

Rob Farnell

Orange have recently changed their policy

We have Orange 3G data cards (as my company is heavily in bed with Orange on the phone side) and their rates were akin to Vodafone's. It was starting to become rather expensive for the number of individual data cards required and they flatly refused to budge on tariff's or costs.

Just recently however they have had a change of heart and now allow us to have a single data transfer agreement with 1 master datacard with roughly 1Gb of transfer at £90 a month and our other datacards are enclosed in the same tariff for £13 a month each. If any of the data isn't used it seamlessly moves to the following month's allowance.

Works out a lot cheaper overall for more data transfer.

Westminster street lamp pay-back cut to 750 years

Rob Farnell

Just think of the possibilities

Do you think we are suddenly going to have a black market of Furyo lanterns going at £1000 a pop.

Don't they get a discount on the lights when bulk purchasing them like some sort of BOGOF system?

Finally while looking for the lights on the web I found this forum discussion on their favourite streetlights!:



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