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60 publicly visible posts • joined 16 Feb 2012


The Q7: Audi’s big SUV goes from tosspot to tip-top


Re: Hmmm, I'll stick with my Touareg thanks...

"Choice of tyres is probably at least 75% of any delta in traction off road."

One that's got wrong by so many people. I have (literally) run rings round vehicles that have far more fancy off-road aids than my Defender purely by having sensible tyres. Nice tall and skinny tyres are the way forward.

I don't get the fascination for fitting rubber band tyres to wheels, and I don't get the attraction in really wide tyres either. How often am I doing high speed cornering? Never. How often might I want a bit more forwards traction? Me, frequently, most people sometimes. How often would I like a ride that doesn't judder my back to bits? All the time.

I know it's rather agricultural but I find my Defender a lot more comfortable than a friend's A4 (though on road his will out corner mine quite nicely).

Warning flags were raised over GDS farm payments system – yet it still failed


It was working!

It was working! It really was! And it wasn't too bad to use!

OK so some of the mapping features were a bit odd (you'd sometimes have to draw a line in from the field boundary to go round a pit and then back to the end of the field) and sometimes there were missing options (like "Pond" as a feature), and as more people started using it it got interminably slow, but it was working once.

Some of the requirements were a bit... rubbish. Like the accuracy requirements meant that you'd have to measure hedges to <1cm accuracy across a reasonably sized field.

For our farm, we used to have coded field names that fitted in the boxes on the forms, the web forms meant we could put the full field name in (so we did) then it got truncated back to a handful of characters on the paper forms, leaving us with loads of fields that have the same name now.

We're very glad not to have a BT line for our internet though... it was just far to unreliable. We've got a wireless link with a local provider that's much more reliable, fast and responsive.

Subaru Outback Lineartronic: The thinking person’s 4x4


Towing capacity for the 2.0 diesel is 1.8t, and for the 2.5 petrol is 2.0t.

That's not enough for a horse box, no where near enough for a cattle float and less than most of the other vehicles in its class. Not by much mind, a Volvo XC70 is only 2.1t which seems about typical for the slightly 4wd market.

Tyres getting dangerously close to too thin too at 60% profile. I wouldn't buy any less.

28.5" (calculated) on the lower specs, 28.6" on the higher. I wonder if you can actually get decent tyres in the sizes they specify, Cooper don't list any of their 4x4 tyres in the correct sizes (though some pretty close which I guess would do).

Here speaketh a Defender driver, the best 4 x 4 x Far on lovely skinny 100% profile tyres.

Conservative manifesto: 5G, 'near universal' broadband and free mobes for PC Dixon


Re: What about...

I'm sat in my house in North Norfolk with no reception on with EE or Vodafone currently showing on my phone.

If I walk to the pub, about 50% of the time one of the networks will show a little bit of signal (it comes and goes at random), and that *might* work if I try and use it. Calls on Vodafone frequently fail even if the phone claims to have reception, and with summer approaching I'm expecting that to get worse because it always does. Vodafone are notably worse than EE in that respect.

It's not like I'm living in deepest darkest Scotland surrounded by hills either! Norfolk is one of the flattest bits of the country and the best way of getting a working internet connection is wirelessly to avoid BT.

British armed forces get first new pistol since World War II


You seem to come to conclusion that the Glock is best, followed by the Sig and then the Browning. So why do you prefer the Browning?

The amazing magical LED: Has it really been fifty years already?


Re: Duck tape

I'd buy something from Advance Tapes or Le Mark over Duck any day.

China switches on 'BDS' civilian nav-sat rival to GPS

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Re: So when do we start to see consumer SatNav

I don't know about all four, that would seem a bit premature, but Garmin's Etrex series does GPS with EGNOS and GLONASS quite happily.

Assault on battery



my boss's iPhone lasts that long too, and is actually used as a phone too.

The main reason for its longevity is that all it's used for 99% of the time is dumbphone stuff, but he really, really needs the smartphone bits in the remaining 1%. I am amazed how well it's surviving actually, it's a 3GS that has been dropped on concrete on numerous occasions, dropped in muddy puddles, dropped in slurry... and it still keeps going.

New report warns of SCADA CYBERGEDDON*


Re: 40%

it can be extremely useful for remote support if something connected to the system can be accessed over the internet, even if that's just an HMI, for support purposes. If I get a text from a machine at work, I can often fix it without having to get out of bed. We have a rather bodged system using remote desktop but somewhere with more significant plant would probably have a better way of doing it.

Nuke: well, worst case scenario?

Purpose of RFID finally discovered: It's for pairing up socks!


a cheaper option

would just be to employ someone to sort your socks for you.

Or, indeed, just to buy a different pair of socks every time they need washing!

Made for each other: liquid nitrogen and 1,500 ping-pong balls


you get a similar effect with dry ice

It's great fun :) pop some crushed ice in a bottle, shove the bottle in a tub of water and kaboom!

Whilst at university, I came across liquid nitrogen once. A lecturer had only managed to cover about 2/3rds of the course he'd set, and rather than try and cover some of it in the last lecture of term he brought in a tin of nitrogen and froze a couple of bananas. I wasn't convinced that it was an entirely good use of time or money and it wasn't even that fun.

UK electric car funding - another subsidy for the rich say MPs


interesting maths...

How have we managed to spend £11 million on 1000 £5000 subsidies and not much else?

Got a BMW? Thicko thieves can EASILY NICK IT with $30 box


simple fix

"extra technical measures" ==> steering wheel immobiliser

Peugeot 508 RXH estate car review


Re: Couple of questions

I'm sure I remember reading somewhere that they park the engine with the cylinders in just the right place to make starting easy.

One thing I notice about a lot of the stuff at work (telehandlers and tractors) is how quickly they start in comparison to a car, and I've no idea how or why. Every car I've every driven, even with a battery in top shape always has a definite whuh-whuh-whuh-brum about the start (my current one has four wuhs and it seems to do that whether it's warm and just been on a long journey or frozen and been sat around for a fortnight, it just varies the sluggishness of the wuhs). Work's stuff all seems to start with a wuh-brum unless something's wrong and that's always a much bigger engine still with a 12V starter.

It's Lego's 80th birthday party, but only the boys are invited


I don't know if you can still get sets like 5218-1 but I liked that sort of thing. It's a bit useless in its own right but gives you a lot of handy pieces to add to other models.


Re: "Single use" pieces?

I never managed to build a boat that didn't leak :( I even tried filling all the gaps with blue-tack which was a bugger to clear up.


Re: Mindstorms...

I can't remember whether I used NXC or NQC for it, but by the looks of things you can use NQC with the older RCX stuff too:


I don't know whether you'd need to have drivers or something form the original CD though.

If you send me a PM I'll look out my RCX CD next time I visit my parents and copy it for you.


Ah the fun I had with Lego.

I did a mixture of things, some building and then modifying models and some straight up inventing.

A couple of modifications that I remember were converting a car to be a working right hand drive model or swapping out the dummy engine in my loading shovel for a pair of electric motors that drove it and powered the pneumatics.

I think my favourite DIY one was a hill climber grabber crane tank thing like a CEV. It had enough traction and torque to climb up (pretty smooth) boards that I'd put up our stairs at home and a pneumatic grabber arm/crane mounted on a turntable up top. That used all three of my motors for driving, turntable and compressor, all of my pneumatics (boom*2, reach and grab) and it was brilliant :)

More recently, we had to use some of the Mindstorms stuff in my degree, that was so much easier once you ditched the crappy Lego visual programming interface and went to C.

Ten netbooks


Re: Windows is the enemy of netbooks

I actually disagree with the notion that XP runs like crap on them. Sure, it probably does if you're trying to do lots of things at once but that would be the same with any OS. The fact is though on the lowly 7" EEE that I've used, with 512MB ram and a 900MHz Intel Celery, XP was no problem at all. It just worked.


Re: Linux Offerings.

for personal use for me, a Linux netbook would work except I've got a 12" laptop that wasn't substantially more expensive (£400 ish for a 9 month old Thinkpad X201 last year).

For use at work where we use a lot of software that only works on Windows, a Linux based one would be completely useless. For most of its life, our EEE PC sat in our milking parlour connected to the parlour processor and sending data from it to the computer in the office using Windows only software. When the relevant part of the parlour processor died, I got it so I didn't have to carry my 15" luggable around to programme things, again using software that only runs on Windows and struggles with Windows 7.

Microsoft does have a part to play in this area whether you like it or not.


Re: Eee 701SD...

We've got a 7" EEE PC at work, and it was being very useful until the charger decided it didn't really like life.

They are very handy for programming things out and about and with the SSD you don't really need to worry about killing them so much.

The charger would increase the battery charge by about 20% then overheat and need hitting against something to reset it (a common fault apparently). So I replaced it with a different power supply of the same specs, 9V iirc, only it lied and was putting out nearer 15V. Now the EEE has no idea what the battery's doing which is rather sad :(

Nikon snaps first Android-based camera crown


my phone takes a few minutes to turn on, yet you want a camera to turn on in seconds. Have they done some magic to make Android boot quickly (with fewer things to do load I guess that's possible?) or is it just on all the time?

We've got a fairly ancient P&S at work that's good enough for our needs, sits around for a few weeks, takes a couple of pictures, sits around for a bit. If you've got Android running constantly, that's never going to work is it?

Acer dishing out 16,400 cheap OLYMPIC laptops to schools

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oh come on, they aren't *that* bad! a 2.5GHz C2D with 4GB of RAM is plenty enough for most things and they've even got screens that aren't the usual 1366*768 crap.

Hell, that's a lot higher spec than the computers I used at uni for my engineering degree, they were new in my second year (2009) and had 1.8GHz C2Ds, 2GB RAM and we had to use Solidworks on them. At least after two terms we got new screens for them, up to that point we were stuck with the old CRTs from the previous generation of computers that struggled with more than 1024*768 at sensible refresh rates.

Huawei Ascend P1 Android review

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Re: The screen

I'm glad I'm not the only person that has issues with PenTile screens. My Captivate Glide's screen is a definite downgrade from the Milestone it replaced.

SHEEP NEED TWITTER, insist my noble Lords


Rural broadband is necessary

Without a doubt, rural broadband is necessary. There are a lot of government forms that farmers have to fill in online and they have no choice about that. Certain farm management software phones home every time you start it up to check for updates.

And that's all before you consider the diversifications, I'm part of an electronics business that is run as part of the farm and getting up to date pricing, datasheets etc is pretty much impossible without a decent internet connection.

Now on the farm I work on we have ADSL of sorts. It's actually A in the wrong direction (faster upload speeds than down) and is typically around half a meg. This drops to below dialup when it rains with the wind in the wrong direction. Take the not unreasonable scenario when you want to open said un-named farm management software just to quickly check on something, possibly for an operator that needs to get out in to a field, and it decides to update itself. It won't let you do anything until it's updated so you've got the farmer and operator both tied up waiting for your damp string to work. That update then means that I can't get the datasheets for some hardware I'm trying to build and it wastes my time too.

I'm investigating a new (to us) brand of PLC to use in some of the products we design. The software for that is a 2GB download but thankfully they have the mush faster option available of sending it on a DVD in the post.

What are we doing to try and alleviate the problem? Well we're hoping that WiSpire might eventually help but in the mean time we're investigating putting a second phone line in with a second ADSL line and some sort of line bonding magic. Up until that happens I'm getting rather too familiar with a slowly moving progress bar.

If anyone has any opinions on how they'd improve things, I'd love to hear them :)

Devolo dLAN 500Mb/s powerline network adaptor review


Re: Are there any of these in power socket form factors?

I'm pretty sure that the Cat5e that I've used has all been rated to lots of volts for that very reason.

DNSchanger shutdown may kick 300,000 offline on Monday


Am I missing something?

If this was a botnet designed to supply adverts among other things, couldn't they just spam the infected users with adverts telling them what's up?

Ten... active camcorders


what is the point of interlacing still images to create pseudo-higher megapixel images? Surely it just uses more space for negligible benefit?

Asus Transformer Pad TF300


Just OOI, is it possible to swap the tablet and keyboard sections between the Pad and Prime if they're that similar?

And I've just started using a rather ancient 7" EEE PC at work as my "I need to programme something in a field and don't want to take my 15" lump with me" computer. It works pretty nicely.

Apple introduces 'next generation' MacBook Pro with retina display


Re: If only 1920x1080 was "relatively bog standard"...

My laptop is only 1280*800, but at 12" that's fine for me.

The funny thing is, back in 2003 I got a laptop with a 15" 1400*1050 screen and that wasn't all that unusual at the time for mid-high end laptops. The equivalent now really would be though, that's effectively more than the resolution that these "retina" displays are doubling.

And in 2008 I had a smartphone with what would now be classed as "retina" DPI - no one made that much of a fuss about it then.

Oz has to go nuclear, says Adelaide U scientist


Re: @Dagg

tides do have the advantage of being entirely predictable, they happen twice a day, every day and in a staggered order around the country.

Strong ARM: The Acorn Archimedes is 25


Re: Memories...

Sounds pretty much the same as mine, there was one that only the teacher was allowed to use, but on the one occasion I got to use it (all the others were in use for some reason) the speed was amazing in comparison :)

I don't remember much from the lessons, we were only introduced to them when I was about 6 and the school replaced them with some Windows 98 beasts when I was about 8. All I do remember is that game where you have to transport animals across a river in a boat without them eating each other (I finished first out of the group and got a sticker. Proud.) and being very annoyed at someone in my class who kept adding incorrect spellings to the dictionary rather than correct her mistakes.

El Reg: you're making me feel old!

Ten... Qwerty mobiles


Re: Sliders

I'd love to change my Milestone but there just isn't anything I can find the the UK to do so.

It's not like the phones don't exist elsewhere (Captivate Glide etc) but no one seems to want to sell them to us.

Lenovo intros carbon-fibre ThinkPad Ultrabook


Re: Chick-lit

I own an X201 and used to have an Edge 13 and I've got an E520 at work.

Both types of keyboards are good, they're different certainly but both good.

I always think it's a bit of a shame that I've got it perched on a pile of books and use an external keyboard at work, it's just not as good as the internal one.

Pirate Bay struggling to get on feet after DDoS to the knee

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working fine from here

in the UK

Ten... alternatives to Samsung's Galaxy S III


Keyboard please?

Some of us want a decent phone in the UK to replace our ageing first generation Motorola Milestones with!

It's not like they don't exist either, Samsung Captivate Glide, Droid 4 etc


Re: Hi Mr. Litchfield

As someone who owns and uses on a daily basis both a Symbian S60 handset and and Android handset, both released at not too dissimilar times 2-3 years ago, I would agree with the comment that Android is a more pleasant experience than Symbian is.

Symbian (and the phone I have that runs it) has many good feature - that's why I have it - but unless you're after certain specific things that Symbian does well, it's Android all the way for me.

Ten... mono laser all-in-one printers

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Re: Kyocera


We've got two at work, a FS-1118MFP and a smaller, duplex one the 1020D and they both run on 3rd party toners. The only issue is that despite being allegedly compatible, we do have to take a chunk of plastic out of the toner cartridge to make it fit but once it's in, it just goes and goes.

I had to empty the waste toner out of the 1020 the other week, but there was a handy flap to allow access (at least, I assume that's what the handy flap was for! It fixed the problem) and other than that's it's just toner.

The biggest issue I've had is getting drivers for the 1020D for Windows 7 64bit.

UK's new drivers now in safe hands... of laser-wielding robots


"Don't know why we've blurred the address, I moved away from there years ago"

Ten... two-bay Nas boxes


Re: Green Power

You may have already thought about this, but you need to float a gel cell at something like 13.5V and if your computer is expecting a regulated, bang on 12 that's not going to happen.

I've got some 24V kit at work running of a couple of 12V SLAs from CPC and I'm quite impressed. They're baby 1.2Ah ones and when I accidentally left the system on batteries overnight (it's a Mitsubish Micro PLC doodah and a GSM modem monitoring all sorts of things round the place) the battery voltage was still at 25.5 in the morning.


Re: D-Link doesn't sell in the UK?

yes they do, see Scan etc.



If all you want is something basic...

...you don't even have to spend that much.

I've got a D Link ShareCenter Pulse which I paid about £50 and we've got a Zyxel NSA221 at work which was £45.

My biggest criticism of the D Link so far is that I can't get the built in print server to work with my printed, a rather ancient Brother HL1430, but I think that's probably more down to the printer than the NAS. Other than that, it's got everything that I wanted built it.

Google motors into cloud storage with Drive


Re: shook up the email market

"Using 2181 MB of your 10240 MB"

So how high does it go then?


So they're giving us less storage than GMail, for a service that is likely to need more.


Soup up your home network


Re: For many – and despite the inevitable outrage from radio hams –

Yes it will affect radio "hams", but not using it would affect people with houses, it isn't a one sided thing!

And given some of us live in rented houses with no sensible way of routing cables, there has to be something to be said for something that allows us something better than WiFi.

Hands on with the Huawei Ascend G300 low-cost Android phone



please please please will someone release a replacement for my ancient Milestone?

MS Office coming for Symbian


Here lives a happy Symbian user

After having had an Android smartphone for nearly two years, I bought myself a second hand Nokia E55 as my work phone a couple of months ago.

The mapping is better.

The battery life is measured in a sensible number of days.

It is small and light whilst still having a QWERTY keyboard.

It still has push email, web browsing etc.

It might not be quite as all singing and dancing but that doesn't make it bad and I, for one, welcome (hopefully) decent new apps. Whether or not I'll get a version for my slightly aging handset is another matter, sadly I haven't found a Symbian equivalent of CyanogenMod yet.

Lenovo readies Yoga Ultrabook-cum-tablet for Blighty


This isn't news

Lenovo already make the ThinkPad X220 Tablet and this is just them increasing their consumer range.

Sure, the Yoga might have a sillier name and be a bit thinner but it's the next generation so you'd expect that.

Windows XP support ends two years from now


XP Mode

I'm the only person at work (it's a small business) that's using Windows 7 and it has been a bit of a pain getting the software I have to use to do my job to work. A lot of it's using XP Mode and that isn't without its issues, for instance the latency of the USB-Serial adapters I have to use has shot up massively over XP.

When XP is no longer supported, what is going to happen to security patches for XP mode? If my virtual OS gets buggered it will rather inhibit my work!

And a quick note to Mitsubishi and Schneider: please make some better software! The Mitsubishi software I use won't install on 7 but works if you copy it from XP, and the Schneider software works in 7 but won't talk to the hardware I'm trying to program.

Solar power towers overpower PV panels by 20X


Re: "Wonder how they cope with strong winds?"

I've got some neighbours with a tracking array, in theory it's a brilliant idea but in any moderate gust of wind it flattens itself and production slumps.

Unless they manage to get something sorted so that it works a bit more reliably they'll have been better off with a straight fixed one. Not as cool though!