* Posts by Nick Roberts

39 posts • joined 31 May 2007

If there's a lesson to be learned in these torrid times, it's that civilisation is fleeting – but Windows XP is eternal

Nick Roberts

Back in February, before the world changed, I went with my son on various applicant days for physics courses at various UK universities. One was showing us a particularly specialised bit of kit in one of the labs, and I spotted that several of the PCs connected to it had the XP screensaver. Nobody could get the control software to run on anything else, apparently. Worried me somewhat about their technnical capabilities...

And then in lockdown, I was tiding my office prior to redecorating it. Found my ancient Eee 904HD netbook - the battery was dead, but on plugging it in to the mains, XP booted straight away. Or rather incredibly slowly, but without issue. Hadn't used it for 10 years, according to file dates. No idea what to do with it.

Japanese cyber security minister 'doesn't know what a USB stick is'

Nick Roberts

Our very own Brexit Secretary didn't realise that Dover was close to France, and then resigned because he didn't like the deal he himself had negotiated - makes this Japanese guy look positively competent in comparison.

Zookeepers charged after Kodiak bear rides shotgun to Dairy Queen

Nick Roberts

Of course they have a sense of humour in Canadia. You need a massive one to cope with the downstairs neighbours.

At Christmas, do you give peas a chance? Go cold turkey? What is the perfect festive feast?

Nick Roberts

Can't stick turdkey, so boring. Would do goose, but there are only 2 of us who would eat it, so we have duck instead. Don't have Puddings with it, but we do Popovers instead - an American cross between Puds and bread rolls, and remarkably good.

Wife will have something veggie (and she's the only one that eats Devil's Testicles), and daughter will have chicken - only meat she eats.

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Nick Roberts

"I couldn't possibly bite an El Reg hack - little thing called professional courtesy."

Latest addition to the spec - a built-in screen viper.

I always wanted Nokia to port Snake to the PC.

Something wrong with this laptop - I shook it, and it was a rattler.

Just checking the browser hisstory.

It's the Lester Haines Fang Club webinar.

Russian mobile operators say 'nyet!' to Apple, 'da!' to Samsung

Nick Roberts

Re: Tim Cook seems not to understand the market

"It is always cheaper to buy your phone not from the carrier and not pay their outrageous "subsidy"."

Really? I don't think so, at least for the UK. The difference in contract price even over 2 years is less than the price of a high-end phone in my experience, as the carriers appear to take full advantage by not reducing the tariff as much as one might expect. I've worked both ways, and IMHO it's cheaper to get the phone from the carrier, unless you're buying second hand. For me, the only reason to buy separately is to get a phone not available from the carrier.

How the clammy claws of Novell NetWare were torn from today's networks

Nick Roberts


That "ABEND" needs to be explained on El Reg...

Lotus 1-2-3 turns 30: Mitch Kapor on the Google before Google

Nick Roberts

Re: Preferred

JimC, that's absolutely spot on on all counts. I still have the muscle memory of 123, but 123 for Windows was an incredibly buggy, flaky bit of software. At the time, we used 123, DisplayWrite and dBase IV, and I can't remember what for presentations - with the switch to Windows, MS Office made absolute sense as it was less buggy than any of these, and more usable than the appalling DisplayWrite

NRA: Video games kill people, not guns. And here's our video game

Nick Roberts

Re: Curious morals

You have to understand how their culture has developed. The US originally began by people with non-standard religious beliefs trying to achieve religious freedom. Frankly, some of those beliefs were utterly barmy by European standards, typically extremely Puritan, but became effectively standard in a world where effectively, middle-of-the-road beliefs didn't exist. And the world they had moved to was by nature violent - it was frontier law all around. Thing is in Europe, much of this was also true, but quite a few hundreds of years earlier; in the US, the Wild West and civil war is still within cultural memory in a way that the dark ages aren't for us over here. Beliefs have been shaped very differently in the US by those shared experiences to the way our common European experiences have shared ours.

Nick Roberts

Re: What if?

Maybe, but a school murderer is unlikely to be able to kill as many innocent kids with a pen than with an assault rifle. It's all about balance, and the current US balance is simply crazy to anyone European.

Review: HP ENVY x2 Windows 8 convertible

Nick Roberts

Can't speak for this one, but my wife uses an original Asus Transformer which is a tablet with a keyboard which also has a second battery - the engineering is excellent and the thing stays where it's put, so there's no reason why this shouldn't. And has to be better than the Dell laptop I'm typing this on, which has today replaced a similar model whose screen cracked just by me opening it up for use...

Nick Roberts

An £800 tablet? Really?

Or an £800 Atom-powered Ultrabook? Really?

The problem with this seems to be the £800...

2012: The year that netbooks DIED

Nick Roberts

I've always been a fan of the small form factor laptop, and my current Netbook has served me well in this niche - I bought it before Ultrabooks existed, and it gives me a small machine I can do image editing on in the field. It's obviously a bit slow, but it has a screen capable of running the software I need, a processor that's just about quick enough, and I've replaced the HD and maxed out the RAM at a massive 2GB - but it works. Will I miss the Netbook format? No, the Ultrabook was always closer to what I wanted.

Apotheker: HP board was just as culpable for Autonomy buy

Nick Roberts

Mighty expensive shares...

"Despite sending its share price spiralling downwards by billions, from $77bn when he started to $45bn on his exit" - really? That was the share price rather than the market capitalisation? I don't think so!

Sigma SD1 Merill 46Mp DSLR

Nick Roberts
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I've been critical of some Reg camera reviews in the past - top work on this one.

Bill Gates' used car sells for $80,000

Nick Roberts

Re: no5

Alfa Romeo? I think you mean Maserati...

BT Vision throws Microsoft Mediaroom under a bus for Linux

Nick Roberts

I would agree with most of that - I'm a recent Infinity-driven BT Vision customer, and I really couldn't care less what OS the box runs - I'm just not that sad. I waited for our digital switchover before going down this route, to ensure the Freeserve signal was strong enough. The service is pretty good, the only annoyance being the way VoD is presented, which is indeed a PITA - and it sounds as though that's one that will be addressed. Aside from that, it's a functional and effective, though rather unsexy, service.

Australia should head-hunt Michael Gove

Nick Roberts


My daughter's currently at the point of choosing her GCSE options. There are two ICT (sic) options - one is "Business Studies" based and does indeed concentrate on the use of Office products - the other is all about, er, programming. Does Gove want to sweep this away, too? Or is this typical politics - make a fuss about putting something right by doing, er, nothing because it isn't actually broken to start with?

One thing I DO agree with - send Gove to Australia, one way ticket.

Intel ignores Steve Jobs, adds touchscreen to Ultrabook

Nick Roberts
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I wonder how I use the touchscreen on my phone - horizontally or vertically? Well I don't look for a surface to put it on, for sure, I hold it up...

OK, so that's not the same form factor, I hear people cry. But the EeePad Transformer with keyboard is, and it's brilliant to be able to integrate touch into how you use a machine, as others have said.

On top of that, I do a lot of photo editing, and I use a graphics tablet to help me. It would be massively easier to be able to use the screen directly, particularly when travelling or editing in the field - exactly where I would want to use an Ultrabook. So although I wouldn't want it to be the only input method, I think it's entirely sensible.

Sony NEX-C3 compact system camera

Nick Roberts
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Thanks, El Reg

A proper photo-literate review. ;)

Personally, I can't stick the NEX series; the lenses are so out of proportion with the bodies, and the handling is absolutely terrible - I mean, no mode dial? Only Sony would think that might work for serious photographers.

However, there's no denying that the results are great - it's just that with lenses that size, I'm far from clear on the benefits of having a smaller body. Make both camera and lens pocketable and you hit the jackpot; however, this combo still needs to live outside, so you might as well have a low-end DSLR with all the attendant benefits and not a huge amount more weight.

Ten... inkjet photo printers

Nick Roberts

Dear, oh dear

Must say this isn't exactly the best photography-related article yet on El Reg, and this is an area that the site doesn't do that well anyway due to lack of expertise, I presume. For the most part, these certainly aren't what most photo enthusiasts would consider to be photo printers for starters. Also, it's just utter nonsense to say that "Inkjet printers produce better quality photos than traditional silver halide, one of the reasons digital photography has superseded it". NO! Inkjet printing is a lot easier than colour darkroom work without rivalling the quality standards, particularly at the level of these printers, and it's convenience and ease of use that's largely driven the photographic revolution. Yes, there was a huge amount of shoddy D&P on the high street which has made consumer-level digital seem better than film, but really it's only top-end DSLRs that can actually challenge traditional film photography in quality terms - the simple fact is that digiital is good enough, and consistent, as well as cheap (to use) and easy.

Finally, CF cards remain at the heart of top-end DSLRs used by amateurs as well as pros.

I do wish that photo-related articles were written by someone with more knowledge of the field, as these articles almost invariably fail to meet the normal standards I expect from El Reg.

2011's Best... Premium Tablets

Nick Roberts

Yeah, about twice as much. Personally, I would go down that Ultrabook route, but my need is more for something that will edit photos, and I'm talking big DSLR files, rather than more typical tablet uses - for which I've got my phone. However, I bought a tablet for my wife for her birthday - I would've bought her an iPad 2, for the reasons you gave, but they were out of stock - so got her the Transformer. Must say she loves it, and I think it's the second-best tablet user experience in terms of touchscreen - not quite as good as the Apple - but far more usable overall with all the built-in extras and that keyboard. Which makes the better present, though? ;)

Forgot to say - good, well-balanced article.

Nick Roberts

Transformer ugly?

"why did Asus have to make it so fugly?"

Mate it with the keyboard, and suddenly it's actually rather beautiful. The tablet itself does look like it was designed to be half a nettop, for sure.

Asus Eee Pad Slider SL101

Nick Roberts

Personally, I prefer the Transformer concept, but this is not uninteresting. I think Asus are really doing a job in the truly compact area, from tablets through netbooks to ultrabooks at the moment; there's a model for most people, and they seem to be making product that's actually useful, rather than just leaping on the bandwagon.

Motorola Razr Android smartphone

Nick Roberts

Not in the UK, despite promises of a simultaneous launch here and in the US. And that's after how long it took the Milestone to get Flash...

Nick Roberts

Moto are certainly abysmal at updates - I'm expecting a Gingerbread update for my Atrix today, as it happens, but they've been very, very slow - maybe that will improve now they're Chocolate-owned, but I'm not holding my breath. And a different lapdock to the Atrix - really, really annoying. They make some excellent kit, but support is poor, to say the least.

Android's scariest nightmare: resurgently sexy Microsoft

Nick Roberts

Sorry, Matt, but I really think you couldn't be more wrong on this one - the aspect you've missed is end-users. They don't want the look of Windows? Oh yes they do, for the most part. What they DON'T want is the forking of Android - the strength of it for uses is compatibility and familiarity of the user interface - same as with Windows. For either system to move away from that is insane.

The Secret of Monkey Island

Nick Roberts
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Best game of all time.

Apple MacBook Air 11in Core i5 notebook

Nick Roberts

I'm in no way an Apple fan - quite the opposite, I dislike and distrust the company enormously, and I generally consider the hype associated with their products to be just that. However, that doesn't mean I reject all their products out of hand. I've always been fond of the Air, and the latest one takes it exactly where I would want it. Sure, I think the choice of ports is ridiculous, and the sealed battery and HDD are very negative points for me, but they're very much outweighed by the positives - this is a very good machine indeed, and If it wasn't for the price, I would certainly get one. The competition just isn't there right now - the Ultrabook may well compete in a few months, but right now, there's nothing this small with this amount of power - and yes, looks.

Pentax Q takes mini system camera crown

Nick Roberts

Not promising...

The sensor of this thing is smaller than the G12's. And as for the Pentax compacts, they've hardly got the best reputation for image quality. Given Pentax themselves describe two of the lenses as toys, it seems fair enough to me to brand the whole exercise as such.

Nick Roberts

Yes, but 110 film...

,,,is the size of a 4/3 sensor, many times bigger than the tiny fleck of silicon this thing uses.Might be a fun toy, but it's unlikely to be much use.

Concerted Linux-netbook effort needed to beat Microsoft

Nick Roberts


Sorry, you're wrong; I bought a netbook specifically to run Photoshop - well, Lightroom and/or Elements, actually. I wanted something very small that I can use in the field - literally - and can upload pics to a website from that same field. A number of other people I know do likewise. XP fits the bill perfectly, and Linux lives happily (in the guise of Android) on the device I have that does what I think you think a netbook is limited to.

Ohio table-shag man gets six months

Nick Roberts

Lester, Lester, I'm ashamed of you...

Where's the "laid the table" joke?

Maxdata Belinea s.book 1 sub-notebook

Nick Roberts
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£100 too dear...

The Eee doesn't tempt me at all down to one thing - feeble storage capacity. I thought that for all its faults, this might be ideal - but it's just too dear in the current market, I think.

PS3 sales to surpass Wii's... in four years' time

Nick Roberts

Wii a fad? I don't think so...

Where the Wii scores is that it's getting into places no other console before it could - and the XBox and PS3 still can't. The control system makes the thing so genuinely interactive that people - ordinary people, not diehard gamers - will excuse the poor graphics etc. Hell, I've bought one for the kids - and me - despite being a console-hater (much prefer PC gaming). It's simply more fun that the others, and until you get a machine that offers more interactivity or the same level but with better graphics, none of this new wave of consolers will look at anything else.

But 4 years time? I'm sure the PS4 will have something similar in its armoury...

Nintendo sounds Wii-free Xmas warning

Nick Roberts
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Dunno how you get Amazon to send one to the UK - they refuse when I try on either .de or .fr

Dutch gov spies on Dutch newspapers (not true)

Nick Roberts

Er.... sounds like crappy security to me...

"he later started working for the ministry in question and both he and his wife started using a third person's login, possibly without that person knowing.

so no, it isn't just crappy security on the gpd's side."

So the fact that they could use somebody else's password after the guy had moved on doesn't indicate crappy security? You could've fooled me!

YouTube - uTube showdown stays alive in federal court

Nick Roberts

Lot of misunderstanding here...

Lotsw of people seem to think uTube should be happy that they're getting more hits, as "that's what a website's for". Looks like Web 2.0 has conquered the universe!

What many commercial websites are actually for is communicating to a target audience and making sales, NOT just dealing with masses of unwanted hits. There was clearly a financial loss to uTube at first, in that they were paying for completely useless and unwanted additional hits. However, they've rather shot themselves in the foor on that one IMHO by turning it into a profit opportunity - good luck to them, but they can't really have it both ways. Can they?

Oh, and I think Rick might've got the message by now...

Oz cops cuff Darth Vader on his 30th birthday

Nick Roberts

More trivia....

Fraser: Darth Vader surely died IN the hands of his son, but AT the hands of the Emperor?

I don't know what the blasters were made from, but the light sabres were based around flashguns for the Speed Graphic and MPP press cameras.

And my 5 year old son certainly thinks "Return of the Jedi" is the best of the bunch...


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