* Posts by cpage

42 publicly visible posts • joined 26 Nov 2010

Halfords slapped on wrist for breaching email marketing laws


Re: Information Commissioner’s Office

I think just about all these government-funded bodies supposed to protect/help the consumer are useless and a total waste of money. Take Action Fraud, for example: has anyone ever found them to do anything useful when you report a fraud to them?

My most recent experience is with the Rail Ombudsman, when I complained about trains being replaced by a rail-replacement bus, and then all buses cancelled. I drove to another station but my claim for petrol expenses was refused. The correspondence now has lasted over a year - still no result. I think it's a completely useless organisation - or does anyone know better?


Stopped using them because they want my email address

I've simply stopped using Halfords because they generally won't give you a receipt, insist on collecting your email address. My last visit, some time ago, took a long time because first they tried to overcharge, and then refused to give me a receipt confirming that they had charged me the right amount. After an argument that lasted maybe 15 minutes I got my way, as I saw that there WAS a printer attached to their till, they just didn't want to use it.

Mary Coombs, first woman commercial programmer, dies at 93


Ice cream full of air was a stroke of genius

Yes, it's thanks to her that our supermarket freezer cabinets are full of stuff described as 'ice cream' but which is mostly air. Allowing shops to sell air at the price of ice cream was a stroke of genius. It's not surprising that she went to to greater things.

Fortunately a few companies like Ben & Jerry still produce the real un-emulsified stuff.

Australia facepalms as Facebook blocks bookstores, sport, health services instead of just news


Surely good for the world if people get news from mews websites not Facebook etc

Isn't it entirely a good thing that people learn that Facebook isn't a substitute for the World Wide Web. Every news source has a web page, and many good ones are either entirely free for locals (like the BBC is for us) or free for use because they show advertising. Apparently quite a sizeable number of Facebook addicts in the world at large never use any other website - it is high time that this practice was stopped. If that can be done by forcing news-scraping sites to pay for their scraping, and thus many like Facebook going off in a huff, surely that's an excellent thing for the world.

UK network Three hikes pay-as-you-go rates by 400% to push punters to buy 'bundles'


Re: Three,

I will too, though all the other operators seem to have prices a lot higher than they used to be. And I've got a fair credit balance to be used up first.

And the price rises are worse than the headline suggests: some roaming charges are going up from 2p to 37p. That a rather large percentage increase.

Boeing 737 Max will return to flight after software updates, says EU's aviation regulator


I shall also avoid flying 737MAX that means avoiding Ryanair

Mr O'Leary has said that their 737MAXs will return to service and that they will not inform passengers if their plane is due to be a 737MAX. I have used Ryanair a few times in the past and the flights have been fine, but if he does that I shall never use that airline again. He may find that there are enough of us willing to pay a tiny bit more to use another airline that he will regret that decision.

EU says Boeing 737 Max won't fly over the Continent just yet: The US can make its own choices over pilot training


Two angle-of-attach sensors not enough

Apparently the new software for the 737 MAX will take in readings from both sensors, but that, in my opinion, is not enough. If they disagree, what reading should they accept? The bare minimum in life-critical situations is to have three sensors so that a majority verdict will show which one is faulty.

Two sensors has another problem, as shown by the Air France crash off Brazil a few years ago (look up AF447 crash for details). One pitot tube iced up so returned a silly value, so the autopilot switched automatically to the other one. That one was exposed to the same cold and rain, so it also iced up within a very short time. Result - autopilot disengaged (poor progamming in my opinion, had it continued to fly straight and level all would have been well). Unfortunately the not-very experienced pilots did not know how to fly without an autopilot, so they panicked and flew into the Atlantic. What one really needs is three sensors of different designs so there isn't a common failure mode.

If the Samsung Galaxy S20 Fan Edition doesn't make you a fan, we don't know what will


Does it have a battery that's easy to replace?

Unlike most (all?) reviewers, I like to keep my phone for several years. The battery inevitably degrades over that period, so I want a phone with a battery that can be easily and cheaply replaced. Does this one? No mention in the article.

University of Cambridge to decommission its homegrown email service Hermes in favour of Microsoft Exchange Online


Microsoft email is awful

That is just such a bad decision. I have an email account at another university which switched to Microsoft's servers and systems some years ago. It is a truly awful replacement from what we had before. Although I can still read my emails on a desktop computer, accessing it from my Android phone requires me to jump through so many hoops it is effectively impossible.

UK government shakes magic money tree, finds $500m to buy a stake in struggling satellite firm OneWeb


Re: It Could Be Made to Work ???

Not that low - they seem to be around 1200 km altitude, which means v slow orbital decay. If they were under 500 km I'd agree with you.


Re: It Could Be Made to Work ???

I find it hard to see how it could possibly be made to work. For a start: don't all GPS spacecraft carry an atomic clock? None of those launched so far have one, surely. And you would need to make a system that was extremely similar to GPS (as the Glonass and the new Chinese ones are) and use an adjacent waveband, otherwise existing chips in GPS receivers and mobile phones around the world simply won't work on them. And then you need a set of ground stations to track their position and upload the orbital data to them at quite frequent intervals. With a couple of dozen spacecraft in highish orbits that's feasible, though surely not cheap to do. With a vast number of low-earth orbit spacecraft that will surely just not be doable at any reasonable cost. Or have I missed something?

Halfords invents radio signals that don't travel at the speed of light


Are there still any analogue viewers of TV in the UK? I thought that all transmissions ended a few years ago.

The Central Telegraph Office was serving spam 67 years before vikings sang about it on telly


BT Archives worth visiting when they next have an open day

I visited the BT Archives recently when they had an open day. Lots of interesting stuff about early telephony. One map shows the German telelphone/telegraph cables which went along the English Channel to connect Germany to North and South America. One of our first actions when the first world war broke out was that we cut all these German cables and so cut them off from a large chunk of the world. It must have required quite a bit of intelligence and prior planning to have done that.

Brussels changes its mind AGAIN on .EU domains: Euro citizens in post-Brexit Britain can keep them after all


Re: Do you want a second referendum?

I don't think many people have changed their minds, but the electorate has changed. In the 3 years since the referendum about 3 million new voters have arrived, and polls suggest they are in favour of remain by about 80% to 90%. They have replaced a similar number of voters who have died: we can't ask their opinion but they will mostly have been old folk who we know voted about 60 to 70% in favour of leave. So this factor alone explains that all opinion polls for the last year or more have got Remain ahead of Leave by about 5 to 10%. Of course opinion polls have random and systematic errors so we can't be sure but there's enough there to be fairly sure that if we actually leave, as Mr Johnson wants, it will probably be against the wishes of most of the electorate. Only another referendum will settle that definitively.

Ethiopia sits on 737 Max report but says pilots followed Boeing drills


Re: Birds

Agree. If they have only two sensors and the outputs differ, how can anyone tell which one is right? Surely something as essential as this has to be triplicated?

NASA 'nauts do what flagship smartphone fans can only dream of: Change the batteries


Re: Phones with replaceable batteries

That's good to know. I have a 6 year old Samsung with now on its 3rd battery. I'll need a new phone soon but simply will not buy one where the battery can't be easily replaced. The phone review sites never think this issue important since they only use a given phone for such a short time that the battery life does not figure. But real users do. If only all of us refused to buy phones with a battery that the user could not replace, then the manufacturers would get the message.

Plusnet vows to shove a sword in members area 'White Screen Of Death'


Well it isn't fixed yet

The problem that I've had for many months (and many others too) is that if you try to download a bill it produces a file called "$STANDARD". Of the browsers I have installed on Micro$oft Edge copes with this. Others (Firefox, Chrome, Opera) leave it as a download and if you click to open it, Windows asks you what file type it is. This is sheer stupidity - every other billing system that provides me with a bill in PDF format gives it a filename with a ".pdf" extension, then my PDF viewer gets fired up or else the bill gets shown on screen. It is simply incredibly stupid programming to provide a PDF file without an extension or file type. I just tried it again a few minutes ago - still not fixed.

Oh, I wish it could be Black Friday every day-aayyy, when the wallets start jingling but it's still a week till we're paiii-iid


Continentals make fun of our tendency to form queues

A few years ago one of my colleagues, visiting from the Netherlands but very familiar with this country, said that he was walking along a London street and stopped for a minute to look at an interesting building, considering taking a photo of it. Almost immediately a queue formed behind him, assuming that he was at the front of a queue for some reason.

Which scientist should be on the new £50 note? El Reg weighs in – and you should vote, too


Logie Baird wasn't a scientiest, not even a half-way decent engineer

Baird was a crank who persisted with his plans for mechanical television well after the point that pure electronic solutions had been demonstrated to be vastly superior. I can't imagine how anybody could consider him.

One scientist that I'm surprised is not on the list: Francis Crick, who discovered (jointly with Jim Watson, but he's an American so ineligible) DNA. Surely much more notable than many of the minor figures on your list?

'At least I can walk away with my dignity' – Streetmap founder after Google lawsuit loss


I find streetmap.co.uk so vastly better than Google maps I really don't understand why it isn't a whole lot more popular. It has Ordnance Survey maps at various scales including 1:25,000 and larger scale street maps which always show a lot more detail than anything that Google has provided.

Linus Torvalds fires off angry 'compiler-masturbation' rant


Fortran has not had an 80-character line length limit since 1990 - currently 132 characters.

Halifax's '24/7' online banking service is down YET AGAIN


EDF Energy has had their website down for at least 2 days

I've been trying to log in to the MyAccount section of EDF Energy for 2 days - they say they have been having "intermittent problems" for a week. Ho Hum.

Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge in Vulture's claws: we find looks AND brains


Samsung have removed their best features

The main reason I use a Samsung phone is that it has a removeable battery. For people like reviewers who get a new phone every year whether they need it or not, a fixed battery is not a problem. For ordinary users like me who keep a phone for several years, it is a deal breaker. Modern phones lose so much charge during a day's use that they need to be charged up nearly every 24 hours. Batteries only last at most for 500 cycles, so after a year or two you need to buy a new battery. How can Messrs Samsung possibly have failed to notice that? The omission of the SD card slot is equally stupid. I will never buy the S6.

NHS England DIDN'T tell households about GP medical data grab plan


website with useful links to opt-out forms etc


Open MPI hits milestone with FORTRAN-ready 1.7.4 release


Re: Just have to say

"spelling mistakes become variables..."

Not if you use implicit none, which all competent programmers do.

"whitespace matters..."

Not in anything since Fortran77, for example Fortran90, Fortran95, Fortran2003, Fortran2008.

"HPF is kinda neat...just saying....."

But Fortran2008 has co-arrays, which greatly simplifies parallel code, and makes HPF, MPI, and similar libraries obsolescent. Just saying...

Volunteers slam plans to turn Bletchley Park into 'geeky Disneyland'


Send them an email

I have just sent them an email to protest about these changes, using their webform on


If lots of us do the same, maybe they will get the point.

TomTom GO 6000 satnav chews on smarties and tablets


Agree that TomTom have lost the plot

I've used a TomTom for years and we were mostly happy with it. We've used it all over Europe and in hire cars in US and Australia. A few months ago I wanted to update its maps of Europe - but I wasn't allowed to do it, because TomTom said my hardware was "no longer supported". This is ridiculous, as it's still working well. I'm sure they thought that they would persuade me to buy a brand new device from them.

I nearly did that, but the cost is rather high and they don't appear to be any better than the old ones, perhaps in some ways worse. Besides which I resented having to pay again for all the maps I've purchased for the old one.

So Messrs TomTom have lost a sale of a map upgrade, and I will rely on a smartphone app when next the old satnav doesn't seem adequate. If all their marketing decisions are as clever as this one, I don't expect them to stay in business long.

Can't wait for 4G? Take heart, 5G is on the way


Needs to be world-wide agreement on bands, not a little-England solution

I am astonished how little there is in the OFCOM document on international portability. We already have 4g phones that will work in the UK but not in many other countries, and similarly if you buy a 4g phone in North America it won't work here. As people travel more, this is going to be more and more irksome. Even if roaming charges around the world stay high, at least the European Commission seems to be taking some action to curb the rapacity of the mobile providers within Europe.

What OFCOM needs to do is work out what bands are likely to be available for 5g usage around the world and then see whether these same bands could be made available for the same purpose within the UK. Providing a solution that just works in a small area like the UK would be stupid.

Three Men in a Tardis


Re: I would complain if you didn't start at zeroth.

"One of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs."

-- Robert Firth

But there is, quite separately, the question of how to number elements of an array:

"Should array indices start at 0 or 1? My ecumenical compromise of 0.5

was rejected without, I thought, proper consideration."

-- Stan Kelly-Bootle

Home Office boffins slip out passport-scanning Android app


Re: immigration/visa check

Can anyone else get this App to work properly?

I tried it once on my passport - it's very tedious to use as you have to enter the passport number and other data from the same page to show that you have physical access to the passport. It did indeed display my (awful) passport photo, but that's all. I then tried it on my wife's passport which also has a chip. I couldn't get it to work. I then tried it on mine again, re-entering all the necessary data of course. Didn't work this time. So perhaps it's a use-once application?

These are, of course, the people who brought us the Iris scanners at major airports, which in my experience only worked about one time in ten. The new facial recognition terminals at Heathrow were all out of order last time I entered the country, so maybe their reliability is just as good.

Remember Streetmap? It's suing Google in a UK court


Re: Streetmap is superior

I agree. For most purposes streetmap.co.uk is very much better - has real OS maps down to 1:25000 and has town maps at larger scales. All streets named, which Google maps only does sometimes, and much more reliable.

Samsung's new Galaxy S 4: iPhone assassin or Android also-ran?


Different bands for different markets - how awful

The whole point of a mobile phone is that you should be able to take it around to different places and it should just work - I'm fed up with having a GSM phone that only works in parts of the USA and Canada, for example, because they use different bands to ours.

So what do we find here: 4g with the hardware using a different selection of bands when sold in different places. So if I buy one in the UK it probably won't be able to use 4g in other countries. What a mess.

Mozilla shoots down Thunderbird, hatches new release model


Gmail and Thunderbird are not alternatives

You say that gmail has vastly more users, but you have no idea how many of those are actualy accessing their gmail accounts using a client like Thunderbird, as I do, so those figures have a large overlap, they are not alternatives. Personally I find webmail clients far too clunky for use (except when away from home using some one else's computer when I have no alternative).

But Thunderbird has lots of annoying bugs that really need to get fixed, e.g. it sometimes doesn't alert you to new incoming mail, or it displays mails as unread long after you have read them all. As others have said its handling of plain vs HTML text and replies is not all that good either. As far as know Thunderbird is the best of the free mail clients, but it's surprising that it still has so many features that need fixing.

Nokia Asha 201 Qwerty phone


Only 2-band - how stupid.

This might have been useful, but how can they produce it supporting only 2 bands, so it won't work in many places around the world, especially north and south america. I couldn't possibly consider it.

Ten... mono laser printers


HP - good printers, bad sales strategy

I've had an HP1000 printer for several years, which has been very reliable, and non-HP cartridges are fairly cheap. But I'm going to have to replace it soon because HP have chosen not to release drivers for Windows Vista or Win7, so when my last Win-XP computer goes, so will the printer (since the PC is used to do the rendering, it simply won't work without a specific driver).

This is obviously a ploy by HP to force me to replace a perfectly good working printer with another one bought from them. I take strong exception to this, so, despite having used lots of HP laser printers over the years with generally good experiences, the next one I buy will be from any company except HP.

Verity's secret shame revealed


Slases in URLs

I went to a talk by Tim Berners-Lee not long back and someone asked him if he had any second thoughts about the design of HTML etc. He said that he had only one regret: if had to do it again he definitely would have had just one slash after the http: instead of a double one. I think the audience were with him on that.

Sheila's Fails? The statistics of biological risk


nothng to stop you insuring with Sheila's wheels

They don't - I'm a male and have an insurance policy with Sheila's wheels.

It's official: Nokia bets on Microsoft for smartphones


Such a pity

Nokia used to make such good phones, but they failed to modernise them, such a pity. Now they plan to join up with one of the dinosaurs of the computer industry - which seems a terrible mistake. I don't think I could bring myself to buy a Nokia phone knowing that it had Windows inside.

London's tube demands faster-than-NFC ticketing


I agree

Agree that there is no technical reason for the response to be so slow. And this really matters: I find the current TfL Oyster cards are just about fast enough, but the readers at some national rail stations, like those of East Midlands Trains at Leicester, are much slower, and really make you stop and wait, until the gate opens. The gates bear a sticker saying "Don't push" presumably because so many passengers are surprised when the gates don't open as they expect. Such stupid design (but that's consistent with the general behavour of our privatised railway companies).

Ofcom proposes UK phone numbers prefix re-org


Wow indeed

"You can rely upon Ofcom to do the right thing eventually (but only after they have explored all of the other possibilites").

Actually I think that was said about some other organisation entirely, but it seems apposite.

Lost ancient civilisation's ruins lie beneath Gulf, says boffin


Easier way to explore

Sounds like it would be easy enough to put a dam across the mouth of the Gulf and then pump it out? Would also provide quite a lot of fertile ground, which some countries around there might like to populate.

WTF is... up with e-book pricing?


e-books are competing with free libraries, not with physical bookstores.

A more serious problem, it seems to me, is that with an e-book you don't actually own it, you just rent it. With a physical book I can lend it to others, or sell it when I don't want it any more. If I want a book for just a period I can borrow it from a library. That suggests that e-book rental pricing ought to be *much* lower than it is at present to be attractive.