* Posts by Harmless

35 publicly visible posts • joined 27 Jul 2011

Find shaving a chore? Why not BLAST your BEARD off with a RAYGUN


pssh.... our NEW MODEL has SEVEN lasers, count 'em, SEVEN!!


OK, our new razor has NINE lasers for an even more ridonculous shave!


Mono Magic: Photography, Breaking Bad style


Re: "Knowing you only have 36 exposures at a time can impose discipline."

On the flipside of the argument, I can think of hundreds of things, people, places and events from my past that I'd quite like to have photos of, but I don't have any because film was such an expensive pain in the nethers.

With digital I can *choose* whether to be lax about deleting the duds, and still have shots that cost virtually nothing, allowing me to record things for future nostalgia sessions. And they stand a chance of having more realistic colour than I ever managed with my 35mm old point-and-shoots. I'd NEVER go back to film!



Too confused now. So many to choose from.

I'm someone who used to read the Maplin catalogue for pleasure (back in the early 80s when they had circuit diagrams and all sorts of educational details between the spaceship art covers) but I find that I've given up trying to follow the endless changes and varieties of USB.

These days I'll only connect chargers (that I label carefully) to the original equipment they came with. I wouldn't dream of connecting any other devices together for fear of releasing the magic smoke. Should I be embarrassed or am I not the only one?

So you won a 4G licence. The Freeview interference squad wants a word


Re: What?

Analogue satellite used to be rather wide FM (some twenty-something MHz bandwidth) but terrestrial was 'vestigial sideband' (AM with one sideband chopped) - only the sound was FM. And there was a NICAM carrier too :)

So the total power did vary, but always had a certain lowest level.

Nuisance calls DOUBLE, Ofcom vows to hunt down offenders

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Re: My simple suggestion

Great idea!

Or - the phone co could arrange for a different ring pattern for overseas (and potentially annoying) calls - like the American single long rings instead of the UK double rings. At least we'd know before answering it, or choose to ignore it.

Or they could track calling numbers like spam emails - if they notice a lot of random calls from an overseas number it's obviously spam - block them. Not rocket science, is it?

YouView launches with pricey premium DVR


It needs to be like a smartphone/tablet

Smartphones and tablets have apps for useful things and gimmicks to show off to your friends. Watch what you like from online, or have an app to hook up to a media server elsewhere in the house.

This is what the ideal "set-top" (can't perch anything on top of a flat screen any more!) box should be, effectively - a large tablet on the wall in the lounge controlled by the remote. Apps you can show off to visitors, all the content from all the sources.

Nothing less will ever be the revolutionary must-have. And if people can make money from selling apps, why not?

Only when a living room telly box is as cool to show off as your iDoodah will it be a massive success.

World smart TV sales surge


Re: That leaves the sound. The sound is terrible.

Many of us have neighbours to worry about disturbing, so a lack of bass makes it easier to keep the peace. You get used to a lack of thump and it sounds natural enough - no matter how lacking it would obviously be compared to full-fat speakers in a detached house with no such concerns.

Doesn't disturb the kids' sleep so much, either.

Living in a terrace, I'm really happy about the trend to thin screens and weedy speakers! If you really care that much, you'll have it hooked up to something far more capable than anything you could ever hope to come built in.

Basic instinct: how we used to code

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Type-n-Run-Away shop programs

My favourite 2-liner code to leave running on the Spectrums in the shop drew a line of random length taking into account the current position, in a random colour (quite a long line with RND's aplenty).... and then 20 GOTO 10

It left the screen a constantly (and fairly quickly) changing mess of coloured blocks, which made the machine look like it was capable of doing a lot quite quickly (as most of the speed was coming from the built-in machine code routine for line drawing).

I miss the old speccy, especially the typeface of the character set and those block graphics chars :)

The manual was a concise and brilliant introduction to programming. These days it's all so complicated to programme on a PC, in comparison - you just can't beat a fairly limited Finite Universe of a programming language where you've actually got some chance of mastering it.

Metro breakdown! Windows 8 UI is little gain for lots of pain

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"Classic Shell" may save the day

Looks like most people will be loading Classic Shell (Free, Open Source) to run Win 8 properly...


"Does Classic Shell support Windows 8?

Classic Shell doesn't officially support Windows 8, because Windows 8 is not yet released (as of January 2012). That said, version 3.3.0 of Classic Shell makes an effort to play nice with the developer preview of Windows 8 and IE10. Some features have been updated to work well, while others that are no longer necessary or possible have been disabled. Once a more finalized version of Windows 8 is available (like the upcoming beta in February), Classic Shell will be updated to better support it."

Microsoft drops 'risky' Windows 8 preview on World


"Hot corners" a steaming heap of Fail

That'll confuse so many people!

"Where's the Start Button gone?"

"Oh just wave the mouse around, something might just happen if you're lucky!"

It's dumb to have something important that you're magically expected to know, and are unlikely to find out yourself. I can't speak for most people but I prefer to figure things out for myself rather than have to be trained.

I was using Win 7 for ages before I found out by accident that the lower right corner is a 'hot corner' to show the desktop! Have they completely missed the point about 'discoverability'?

Having said that, I expect that any glaring deficiencies in the user experience will be corrected by someone somewhere providing a freeware or Open Source workaround, so maybe it won't be a big deal in the long run.

Powerful, wallet-sized Raspberry Pi computer sells out in SECONDS


Can't imagine the kids doing anything new

First I'll say this is a wonderful thing - a few years ago I realised that so many computer parts just hooked up via USB that the actual computer itself could be tiny, just plug in the bits you need. And here it is.

But I can't imagine what this provides that can't already be done with existing computers. Most parents can afford to buy their kids a cheap lappy, and programming languages are available, so what's new? Just the fact that it's so much cheaper, you might get one for your kid to muck around on, put some educational games on it, before you trust them with a full-fat laptop?

I suspect the main allure is people wanting cheap media players, or other uses. If I could load up my son's favourite movies (Cars, etc) on a USB stick and plug one into his telly, that would keep him happy now that his cheapo DVD player has seized up.

Back in the 80s games were unsophisticated 2D character based affairs, and we really could write games ourselves that weren't too far off the commercial fare. Good luck getting kids motivated to write a 3D FPS blast-fest on ANY device, let alone this one. I think you'd have more luck setting up a well supported Open Source community around an Android games kit for the kids' mobile phones. Mobile is where it's at, they are all glued to their phones and tablets these days.

10/10 for trying, and I'm sure it will be a success in many ways, but not so much for the educational angle intended.

EU shoves telly signals aside for next-gen mobile broadband


Geek's guide to 800MHz

The "800 MHz Band" (790-862 agreed for 4G at WRC-07) is where TV channels 61 to 69 used to be (ch 69 wasn't for TV but was used for wireless mics which have moved down to channel 38).

The original "Digital Dividend" cleared TV out of 63 to 68/69, so there's a whole new round of re-planning and shifting TV around to clear out channels 61 and 62; yet more Freeview retunes :)

4G will use 2 paired chunks of 30 MHz (41MHz apart) as 6 paired 5MHz channels :

790-791 - unused 'guardband'

791-821 - Base - Downlinks DL1 to DL6

832-862 - Mobile - Uplinks UL1 to UL6

The spare space in between (821-832) will be for more wireless mics.

Reflection lets astronomers trick time


Re: Don't think about "The Event".

1.5?! That's Numberwang!

IT guy answers daughter's Facebook rant by shooting her laptop

IT Angle

What a waste


Could have wiped the machine and given it to someone worthy.

I can't believe I had to read this far into the comments to reach common sense!

Microsoft sets date for Windows 8 preview - at mobile shindig


Luke warm corners

I was using Win 7 for ages before I found out by accident that the lower right corner is a 'hot corner' to show the desktop! Have they completely missed the point about 'discoverability'?

IMHO it's pure FAIL to have something that you're simply expected to know, and are unlikely to find out yourself. I can't speak for most people but I prefer to figure things out for myself rather than have to be trained.

Having said that, I expect that any glaring deficiencies in the user experience will be corrected by someone somewhere providing a freeware or Open Source workaround, so it won't be a big deal in the long run.

Panasonic chucks rugged compact cams into the wild


Why 1080p HD video but mono sound?

The new Travel Zoom has 2 mics for stereo, why can't this FT4?

I don't understand why anyone would want full res 1080p pictures yet couldn't give a c**p about sound! (and before anyone says stereo from two close mics doesn't work, have a listen to any of millions of example recordings before you spout off - it works perfectly well)

I'm still waiting for a slim pocketable carry-everywhere camera with reasonable stills, and at least 720p with stereo. It just never seems to happen!

McDonald's punters offered sex in exchange for Chicken McNuggets


"Would you like to Supersize that?"

Five things that knocked CES 2012 for six


No thanks

Hmmmm, let me see....

Ultrabooks - Don't want, too expensive

Wi-Fi everywhere - Don't want, unless it's free

LTE smartphones - Don't want, still use a dumb phone from 2005

Smart TV - Don't want, only just replaced CRT with LED-lit LCD flattie, don't care about 'smart'

Cloud - Don't want, I keep my own data.

I'm either getting old or there's simply nothing new that's really interesting any more!

Ten... mini hi-fi systems


Hifi separates?

As someone who still runs a stack of "hifi separates" I'd like a unit I could just switch on easily when I get home..... like a CD Player, sit back and relax on the sofa with a remote control, and a nice clear display I could read from the other side of the lounge.

I'd want to copy from USB sticks, not feed in CDs when I've already ripped them all for use with the portable and in-car players. Nice big (quiet) hard drive, or even a nice big 32gb flash mem with a slide out tray at the back of the unit where a HDD could be slotted in later.

Why don't they make such a thing? Am I the only one?

Channel 5 snubs Freeview HD again


It's time for HD to be standard for the main channels

At the moment we have to compromise on screen size, 37" for my lounge is OK so I don't see the blockiness of SD, but it's wasting the resolution of HD which could fill 50" or more and keep me happy. If BBC1,2,3,ITV,4,5 were all HD then I could buy a bigger set, enjoy the full promise of HD and ignore SD which would look pants on such a big screen.

Here we are in 2012 soon, and TV sets have outpaced the actual transmission quality! SD should be buried as soon as possible.

How digital audio ate itself ... and the music biz



I thought that History had established the the earlier win for DCC was down to the better DACs used in the DCC machine of the time? The earlier MD gear had not-so-great DAC quality. Run them both through the same good outboard DAC and there's not much between them.

Random access and lack of tape wear made MD a much better bet.

The BBC Micro turns 30


Notice the cassette machine on Page 2 "Geek chic circa 1982: Ian McNaught-Davis on The Computer Programme" (I had one in 1981) is the one used in Life On Mars set in 1973 :)

I'm sure that model cassette player was fairly new to the 80s, LOL



We had more VideoGenies at our school than BBCs, yummy wooden case sides :)


How digital audio ate itself and the music industry


Mindisc was far more successful than DCC, which had no appeal to anyone and was dead in the water. MD provided a brilliant audio solution for quite a few years (a decade or more) - and durable in their protective cases, I still have discs from the mid 90s which play quite happily - until the storage size of affordable flash memory gave us useful portable MP3 tech. where the cost of a GB made it worth the effort. There's no way MD was a complete failure, despite not being mass-market.

DCC, yes, total waste of time! Digital cassettes? No random access? Tape always wears out? Yuck! MD was like being able to record your own CDs, years before the average PC and CDR burners made that possible for most of us, and it was small and oh so portable.

Go back to the future with Red Dwarf


I can't get that DTV terrestial multiplex, and on satellite it's not one of the free channels. I do most of my TV viewing via the Sky box because the user interface is so much better.

So, for me, Dave isn't free!


Dave?! PAY to watch ads?!

I don't pay to watch TV, so I won't be seeing it..

The free channels, with a DVR (or internet catch-up) gives me plenty.

Somehow I reckon I won't be missing much.

Maggie Philbin on tech, teens and cardigan fear


Not enough Tech on BBC

All we get is Click on BBC News, out of the way on weekend daytime.

They should bring back Tomorrow's World and put the Click stuff in it (without the annoying guy who is way too old for his spikey haircut) if they have trouble filling half an hour.

Computers are everywhere, it's one of the largest sections of magazines in the newsagents, and yet there's a yawning lack of coverage on the telly.

It seems we just want to spoon feed people cheap drama, 'reality' (on which planet?!) TV, talent shows, cookery and other low-brow fodder, and actually enlightening people can be ignored.

Winning new UK pylon design may never be used


I saw this on TV the other day, they mentioned the advantage of the current design was that engineers could easily climb the lattice towers. Then they revealed the winner, which, being a single pole, is obviously is much harder to climb!

News of Steve Jobs' death causes market jitters


Slow decline coming

The company lost its way without him before, and it will again.

Unless he's written a comprehensive guide to "What would Steve do?" AND the company actually follows it to the letter forevermore, I predict a slow decline.

RIP Mr Jobs

Local radio stations band together against DAB


Multiplex Idea killed it

It wouldn't be so bad for Local Radio if they could have single programme transmissions, but DAB uses swathes of radio spectrum to broadcast several programmes in one radio transmission - requiring sharing a multiplex between different broadcasters.

Local Radio needs to be able to just shove a transmitter up and radiate their own programme and nothing else.

That alone doomed DAB from the start, quite apart from the syndrome of : "we've got xx bytes per second to play with, how can we get most profit from it? Yeah, let's squeeze the bitrates down to a bare minimum, the cloth-eared audience won't notice". And the power needed to make it work, batteries not lasting long. And most people are happy with FM. And so on and so on.

Ofcom asks Arqiva to stick price on 600MHz spectrum


56MHz = six new HD TV channels?

"It's 56MHz wide (starting at 550MHz) so it would fit six new HD TV channels that could be received using existing Freeview boxes, if anyone wanted to broadcast them."

I make that 7 x 8 MHz, not 6.

Each 8MHz TV channel can contain one muliplex delivering a number of HD channels. I currenly get BBC One HD, BBC HD and Channel 4 HD all from the same RF channel.

Hey Commentards! [This title is optional]


Why discriminate?

Why discriminate against Anons? I've always believed a message speaks for itself regardless of the identity of its writer. What difference does a made up name make to the quality of a comment?!

No pain, some gain: Ubuntu Oneiric Ocelot examined


Could have had a side menu for years but no-one did

Windows has always allowed its taskbar to be dragged to any edge of the screen, but I've never seen anyone move it from the bottom edge - so it's a solution looking for a problem.

Ubuntu will be the "Smartphone OS for PCs" for masses, anyone else more demanding will look elsewhere.

Lost 1967 spacecraft found crashed on the Moon


What about the Russians?

If the moon mission did little else than place a TV&Radio rebroadcast relay into orbit around the moon - to fool the Russians that the faked landing transmissions were actually coming from there - why not just put some astronauts into the spacecraft too?

Conspiracy nuts need medication!