* Posts by Andrew Steer

25 publicly visible posts • joined 13 Jun 2007

Canon PowerShot G10

Andrew Steer
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Various points...

I haven't used a G10, but have owned a G9 for the past year.

@PeterG: The G9 has a battery-level indicator, but with only 3-bars, and a tendency to remain on the 3 for a long time, then goes 222222222222222222111110 - it doesn't give a great deal of warning. You wouldn't want to begin a day on 2-bars!

@Kevin L: While "purple-fringing" (PF) might be regarded as a form of chromatic abberation (CA), it is distinct from that seen on old-fashioned film cameras with simple lenses. Traditional CA results in orange/blue fringes on high-contrast edges (fence-post against snow, branches/twigs against sky) with the orange or blue colour according to whether the edge is light-to-dark or dark-to-light working radially from the centre of the image - simply because the lens magnification is slightly different for light of different wavelengths. PF is commonly seen on digital cameras and is typically purple (except when its green or red) and is possibly more of a lens-flare effect. The curious thing about PF is that it doesn't depend on the direction of the light/dark edge, but the colour does depend whether the edge is in front of or behind the plane of focus. There's an awful lot is misinformation published on purple fringing, but it does have distinctly different physical origins to conventional CA.

@PhilA: agreed. The samples don't begin to do justice to the camera.

The whole point of the G-series of Canon cameras is the high degree of manual control, in a carry-everywhere form-factor. Shoot raw (with JPEGs as 'proofs'), work the exposure manually, fine-tune the white-balence and contrast afterwards, if necessary, from the RAW file.

Sure, the G9/G10 doesn't give the same command over focus as an SLR, and owing to its small sensor the image is noiser than an SLR and has much greater depth of field than an SLR (so you can't creatively cast background into blur). But it does offer vastly more creative control than other compacts on the market. It's the SLR-enthusiasts' everyday camera.

Spam volumes increase to pre-McColo takedown levels

Andrew Steer

Spoofed senders

I've been "lucky" enough to have a fictitious user@mydomain used as the forged "From" address on a few spam-runs in the past couple of years.

How do you like 7000 non-delivery reports coming in in 2 hours, and then another 1500 trickling in over the next 48 hours?

As a result I now route most standard "non-deliveries" to /dev/null by default. Of course this means that if I genuinely mis-type an email address I might not get to know about it... Small price to pay.

Monster.com suffers database breach deja vu

Andrew Steer
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Further to "they don't take it seriously"

In response to my first email to Monster last April about spoofed/frauduent mail sent to email addresses leaked from the Monster database, they replied:

"Thank you very much for bringing this matter to our attention. Monster takes both spamming and "phishing" emails very seriously, as part of our commitment to making our users' experience on our site as safe as possible. As you may know, Monster takes proactive measures to provide job seekers with a safe job searching forum, but we also rely on our users to report these types of issues so that we may take appropriate action.

In order that we can investigate the origin of this message, could you please forward the entire email complete with full header information..."

In response to that (a selection of "Green Tree" spam), Monster wrote

"Thank you for taking the time to bring this to our attention. The email you are inquiring about is called an 'email spoof'. This e-mail spoof uses the Monster name to add credibility to the fraudulent offer. Please be aware that this is not a Monster authorized email.

This email is attempting to engage unsuspecting individuals in a money laundering scam. It is in your best interest to disregard the email. Do not engage with the entities! If you did begin correspondence and have started the required financial transactions, it is recommended that you contact local law enforcement immediately to request the appropriate steps to absolve yourself from any wrong doing."

I pressed them further on the fact that the email address being used by the scammers to contact me (of the form me.monsterjobs@mydomain.com) had demonstrably been lifted from their system

"Given that the fraudulent email names Monster Jobs AND is being sent to an email address I supplied SOLELY to Monster Jobs, I put it to you that this is strongly indicative that the fraudsters have specificially harvested email addresses from the Monster website or database. I find this worrying.

I would like you to recognise my point, and acknowledge that you are taking seriously the harvesting (by fraudsters) of addresses from your site."

No reply.

Prof: Use wind turbines as flywheels to smooth output

Andrew Steer


Having a big heavy flywheel at the top of a tower seems fundamentally bad, but given that the rotor is typically free to turn to face the wind, you really don't want the flywheel up there. The top would be liable to shear off when the wind changes direction.

Surely this interpretation isn't what is proposed?

Without typo-squatters, how far would Google fall?

Andrew Steer


When I looked into it a few years ago, I found that putting Google adverts on pages with no other content is a violation of the T&Cs for basic AdSense. This seemed reasonable, bearing in mind that such pages are mere parasites on the system, and provide no value of their own.

Then I discovered that Google has a special AdSense product - "AdSense for Domains" a.k.a. domainpark - see http://www.google.com/domainpark/ . This struck me as double-standards at the time.

Quite honestly though, how often do you see a domainpark page compared to normal AdSense ads? And how relevant are they? Sometimes though, the Ads are designed to masquerade as 'helpful' redirection links (which is also a violation of Google's T&Cs). Even so, I'd hazard a guess and I'd be surprised if they contribute even as much as 3-4% of Google's revenue.

Sony powerless to fix PSP screen problem

Andrew Steer

Are we sure this isn't just a VCOM issue on the LCD?

Many handheld DVD players have awful line-structure which appears to be the result of "row-inversion" LCDs where the common-electrode voltage (a.k.a. Vcom) has not been very well tweaked. Tweak that voltage (internal preset potentiometer or digital preset) and the problem largely goes away.

I haven't seen an affected PSP-3000, but the hypothesis can be tested if you apply a bitmap composed of alternate horizontal lines of black and RGB(180,180,180). If it's a row-inversion display and this pattern flickers like crazy then it confirms poor Vcom setting.

Plenty of desktop LCDs have a similar issue with scrolling cross-hatch patterns (they use different inversion patterns) showing on mid-level colours - I've opened several 17" monitors to tweak out the problem.

Google search for

LCD flicker inversion

should give you some more pointers on this theme.

McCain gets pair of personal cellphone towers

Andrew Steer

Is this news?

They routinely put up temporary phone masts outside the conference centre in Brighton for the week of the political party conferences.

Now if I could just get Vodafone to sprout another mast half a mile from me to bait the traffic that's destroying my 3G "broadband" experience I'd be thrilled... (20kbps upload, 3500ms ping, eves)

Sony spin-off planning 2009 FED TV launch

Andrew Steer
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Re: Crisper Image

Fair point, but since the response time is faster and the phosphor could be operated at shorter duty cycle, the sharpness for *moving* images certainly could beat LCD.

A second consideration is that it is well-known in display and imaging circles that more contrast (blacker blacks) greatly enhances the *perceived* sharpness.

UK electricity crisis over - for now

Andrew Steer

@ plan to standardise Europe...

This happened years ago (1995).

Officially the UK and Europe converged their traditional 240V and 220V respective standards and harmonised on 230V.

Unfortunately this 10V adjustment would have a significant effect on the lifetime of conventional tungsten lightbulbs.

So... harmony was achieved politically -while making no technical change- by the sleight of hand of re-jigging the voltage tolerances (previously +/-6% on 240V)making the UK 230V +10/-6% and mainland Europe 230V +6/-10%. In practice, the UK target is still 240V... (see also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity )

Lightbulbs for the British market are still marked "240V" while those for Europe are "220V".

BT preps 2000 per cent evening call price hike

Andrew Steer

Another alternative?

I noticed in the high street that Vodafone is doing a broadband-over-3G service (3Mbps / 5GB/month) for £15 a month (12-month min contract, with a 3G USB dongle paid-for up-front). Granted not as fast as ADSL, but for modest users it should be cheaper and more versatile than paying BT line rental plus monthly broadband.

Ideal for the "digital nomad" in rented accomodation?

Sony to pump ¥22bn into OLED production

Andrew Steer

Doubt OLED useful for computers just yet

With the present technology the power-saving comes from the fact that the power scales with the total light emitted by the screen. Since TV content contains the full range of colours (and films tend to be rather darker, closer to 20% "load" on average) you save power compared to an LCD which burns the backlight regardless of content.

In a typical PC application with mostly full-white backgrounds you'll probably use slightly more power than an LCD (present generation technology), similarly aging will be a bigger issue with higher average brightness (and the fact that the high brightness will make it run hotter, further accelerating the aging), and significant static image-content will be a burn-in problem (eg Windows' taskbar).

I'd be very surprised to see PC OLED screens any time soon.

Microsoft dishes out six critical updates

Andrew Steer

Re: don't install all updates

Yes, several years ago Microsoft foistered an "updated" modem driver upon me. It reliably reduced the maximum connection speed I could get. When I reinstalled Windows and refused the driver-update I recovered the dial-up speed I originally had.

I was also not best pleased to be recently told I needed an update for Windows Media Player 9. Assuming it was a minor security fix, I consented to it -- and now find I'm saddled with Media Player 11, which is trying to index everything on my hard disk and who knows what else? It's configuration controls are full of checkboxes with meaningless descriptions. I don't need it, and I don't want it. And I certainly don't want to have to take time out to learn how to configure this uninvited guest for maximal security and privacy. Grrrr...

HP to reduce PC energy consumption by a quarter

Andrew Steer

You'd probably save 25% power consumption...

...by ditching certain well-known Anti-Virus softwares which throttle the whole system...

Seriously though, with all modern processors and especially mobile processors slowing down their clock (reducing power) according to computational demand, more efficient and less bloated software really should translate to electricity savings.

On the scale of other domestic and corporate power-wasteage, modern laptops really barely register (otherwise the batteries would last even less time). 30-60watts for a laptop, compared to a 24/7 1kW base-load per employee at my workplace...

UK nuke-power plans leak early

Andrew Steer

Real-time UK electricity data

Just to inform debate...


UK load varies from about 30000MW to 60000MW on 24 hour cycles.

That's equivalent to a continuous 500W to 1kW load per man, woman and child in the country. Of course this includes industrial and commercial use as well as domestic.

I've still not figured out how the building I work in (essentially offices for up to 600 people, but actually less than 200) manages to burn electricity at a rate of 250kW through the night (it uses gas for heating .... and not *that* big a server-room!). The power use only rises by 50% during the working day.

Office update disables MS files

Andrew Steer

@For some bizarre reason

Re: "XP won't search in certain file types when looking for a file containing a given string (e.g. asp files)."

Yeah - XP by default will only search certain filetypes. Catches me out because my email is archived MH-Mail style (numeric filenames with no extensions) which it doesn't "see", and I think it doesn't search html files ... or at least not before they've been parsed.

There is either a registry hack or a Windows Explorer option (I believe you have to temporarily turn on the Indexing Service to allow access to the option) to make it search all files. Sorry I can't remember all the details - it's far from obvious... as you'd expect from MS these days.

US switches off the incandescent lightbulb

Andrew Steer

@So much misinformation

"I can't see any reason why CFL's couldn't be used in car headlights, at least for the dipped beam which doesn't need to be flashed on and off quickly. I expect they'll wait for LEDs to make the grade though."

For a focussed/collimated/well-controlled beam, basic optics requires that you have as small a source of light as possible. Fluorescent technologies are inherently extended sources. LED headlamps are in development and will probably be with us in a couple of years. But we've already got there with xenon-discharge headlamps. These must be significantly more efficient and durable than tungsten for automotive use. Unfortunately the extra brightness (or more powerful blue wavelengths?) cause more dazzlement for other drivers and especially for cyclists...

LEDs make perfect sense for coloured lights for brake lights and indicators (and traffic lights) and their use here is becoming widespread. Unfortunately they tend to drive them with a pulsed waveform which causes me to see a sea of flickering lights as I flit my eyes around while driving at night - which is also very distracting :-(

Andrew Steer

green-tinged fluorescent hell

Although you may be able to make [i]white[/i] objects white by white-balencing, because of the strange spectral output of fluorescents they still distort object colours, this measured by the metric of 'colour rendering'. Typically FL rendering causes colour-desaturation (a room looks 'greyer'), accentuation of certain orangey-reds to gaudy proportions, and dimming of deep reds. I particularly miss the lack of long wavelength red components in the light. No amount of white-balence can correct for this.

To me, food looks most unappetising under fluorescent light -this is where the green tinge really comes to play. I challenge anyone to look at butter (or margarine) under CFL and not notice the iccy greenishness.

CFL drive-electronics, like all electronics, doesn't like to run hot. Apparently about 50% of existing light fittings are unsuitable as they are essentially sealed and allow heat buildup around the CFL.


The end-of-life failure-mode is also interesting, with the Canadian Safety Authority for one trying to reassure consumers that the emission of evil-smelling smoke and charred/molten plastic is to be considered 'normal'(!)


I cycle to work and go easy on the heating. Let the government keep their fingers off my incandescent bulbs.

Incandescent = light

Fluorescent = 'lite'

New taskforce to discuss why more people aren't turning to digital

Andrew Steer

@ Nick Ryan

The difference is also down to interference.

With interference on an FM radio station you can figure out what is causing the interference and do something about it. With digital you just lose the damn signal entirely and are left clueless unless you have thousands of pounds of RF analysis kit.

Concern over gas guzzling software

Andrew Steer

Low-power software

Many years ago I recall writing a special-purpose timer program for a Psion Organiser. I soon found that it ran the battery down rather quickly, and so began measuring the battery current. By inserting various strategically placed "sleep" codes into the program I was able to reduce the power consumption to less than 30% of the unoptimised code.

I imagine most optimisations for speed-efficiency (including use of lookup tables for frequent calculations) will also prove power-efficient. Unfortunately, for common desktop apps, coding for efficiency went out of the window more than a decade ago.

Phishers bait hook with Verified by Visa scam

Andrew Steer

Very borderline

Several years ago when I was making an online purchase at a reputable website I got redirected to the Verified by Visa programme. I was extremely skeptical at the time, although it did turn out to be genuine. The concept seems to be that if you use the card at a VbV-participating (on-line) retailer, then you have to jump through the additional security hoops to use your card at that retailer. Seeing as it's not compulsory, and thousands of other (including potentially less scrupulous) sites don't require VbV, I fail to see how it offers much "protection". Banks are shooting themselves in the foot by launching such schemes which desensitise people to what should be perceived as abnormal behaviour (for precious little benefit - unless someone can enlighten me). At the very least, in the first instance the Bank should have announced the Verified by Visa scheme with a leaflet alongside my account statement which arrives in the post. I did speak to my bank about it at the time, but I don't think they "got it"...

Orange speaks out with new voice

Andrew Steer

Diced and sliced

On my Orange Pay-as-You-Go the 453 balence enquiry message sounds much more conspicuously diced and sliced than it ever used to, with differing levels and, I think, a mixture of the old and new voice for different words and phrases.

(old voice) "Hello, your remaining credit is" - (new voice) "twelve" - (either old voice or new voice in a very different studio setting, deeper anyway) "pounds, and" - "twelve" (drops a semitone) "pence." (new voice, robotic even though shouldn't be diced'n'sliced) "In - your - free - evening - calls - you - have" (coarse/new) "blah hundred and blah-de-blah" - (old voice) "minutes," - (new voice) "however many" - (old voice) "seconds" - (new voice) "of on-net calls remaining" ... "if you're done, just hang up."

All of world's biggest firms hit by typosquatting

Andrew Steer

Bristish Airways

I discovered by accident several years ago that www.bristishairways.com silently redirected to www.britishairways.com

Some big companies are on the ball.

ICSTIS rebrand scorned by premium rate industry

Andrew Steer

PhonePayPlus indeed "feels like" a payment service of some kind...

You expect goverment agencies to be known by immemorable initials. Having had ICSTIS for a few years it's just beginning to sink in to the public physche. Don't change it now!

Their problem is not the name, but that they're toothless. Since privatistation of the telecoms and other industries the Government emphasis seems to be far more on deregulation (mustn't do anything to get in the way of free-trade, including enterprising scammers) than on consumer-protection.

In practice these days you're far more likely to stumble across 070 "personal" numbers in the context of a scam (e.g. missed-call spam) than any decent use.

Witness ICSTIS' recent consultation on the possibility of allowing spoofing of the sender of text messages, "for joke-services". It's obvious this opens up a whole range of scams and malicious applications and will cause far more tears than laughs. It should never have left the drawing-board.

Storm Worm of a thousand faces

Andrew Steer

Easy indeed

Just block all shortish emails bearing all-numeric http references.

In procmail:

# Catch-all for spam with numeric URLs - 18 Aug 2007


* <8000

* http://[0-9][0-9]?[0-9]?\.[0-9][0-9]?[0-9]?\.[0-9][0-9]?[0-9]?\.[0-9][0-9]?[0-9]?


Buttocks, thongs, and bullsh*t: Street Viewers cop an eyeful

Andrew Steer

Look at the posture before jumping to conclusions

From the position of his arms, I'd immediately guess his hands were in front of his belly - not "down below".