* Posts by John Whitehead

24 publicly visible posts • joined 10 Jun 2008

AI-powered dynamic pricing turns its gaze to the fuel pumps

John Whitehead

In the 1980s one of the big petrol companies (I think it was Esso) promised to be the cheapest local station at all times and did a pretty good job of it even though market information was much harder to gather in those days. Any price cut by the local competition was very quickly matched. What was the outcome? Higher petrol prices.

Competitors, once convinced of Esso's determination, became reluctant to cut their margins with no compensating increase in volume. So instead they tried to make more margin on the residual market share they kept. Of course, Esso followed them nearly all the way up and we ended up paying more than ever...

Whether this was before or after the marketing scheme in which Esso made the country ankle deep in faux crystal wine goblets I can't remember...

EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'

John Whitehead

Right to be remembered

What about a right to be remembered? Suppose I'd written a dazzling comment on that Robert Peston article. Because someone else who commented wants their comment to go away, mine has to be buried too. I'd feel decidedly infringed and would definitely sue, if I could be arsed.

British Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing receives Royal pardon

John Whitehead

All hail Turing, but pass the sick bag for royal connection

There can be no doubt about the injustice done to one of our finest, but it sickens me that Mrs Windsor and her clan are the vector for redress. Surely the modernisation process that acknowledges that individuals' sexuality is their own business must also extend to the need to get rid of this nonsense of a hereditary head of state. 21st century or 11th?

Canadian comet impact fingered for triggering prehistoric climate shift

John Whitehead


That should be "climatic" not "climactic", surely?

Earth escapes asteroid flyby, boffins want lasers aimed at next one

John Whitehead

Orbit now well known?

Genuine question: in the morning we were told it would miss the earth by a margin of 28,000 miles. In the evening it got as close as 17,000. Do we really know the trajectory, or was the problem a reporting cock-up?

Rumors say Dell again thinking of going private

John Whitehead

The only just way

They should close the company down and return the money to the shareholders.

Amazon pitches cheap new Kindles for Blighty

John Whitehead

Boycott them until they allow lending

I'm having nothing more to do with Kindles until Amazon gives UK customers the same rights to lend and borrow Kindle books as US customers. It's bad enough charging the same or more for a bunch of bytes as they do for paper and ink, but to make me buy it again so a family member can read it? It's an outrage!

BYOD sync 'n share

John Whitehead

Maybe everyone knew this already but...

Dropbox acts as a perfectly competent web server as well. I successfully moved my stuff from Apple's (nearly dead) MobileMe (and can even continue to use iWeb if I want to). All you have to do is copy your site to the Public folder and then retrieve the url for an outsider to use. I doubt if it would do for high volume applications, but for personal stuff it appears to work fine.

Sun compo entrants' privates exposed in public

John Whitehead


It's obvious that the Sun would be done under data protection legislation if they had deliberately exposed this information; it seems to me that if they were negligent in defending it they should also be liable.

Can anybody in the know about these matters explain how it's done? Are these kiddies geniuses who can tear down the most carefully constructed defences, or is it rather that they troll around looking to exploit easily guessed passwords etc. If the latter the Sun should be done.

Neal's Yard Remedies its supply chain

John Whitehead
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I shall treasure this contribution as a perfect example of the imbecility of using video or audio in place of the written word without good reason. I watched for two minutes -- roughly what it takes to read a one-page Reg article -- and learned that the piece was something to do with outsourcing. I had no clue as to what the conclusion would be nor what issues it would address. I chose not to waste a further 15 minutes to find out. The fact that what promised to be video was only a slide show with execrable sound quality enhanced the sense of futility.

Why did you post this? What conceivable editorial purpose did it serve? Do you exist solely to waste your readers' time? If I'm wrong and the piece has some interesting points later on, please make a quick summary of them and I'll happily read it.

Report reveals patchy ICT provision in schools

John Whitehead
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Hardware not the only problem

As an outsider with a teacher for a wife, I can see the problems are much more extensive than infrastructure and hardware. Even if that was all done right (fat chance!) you'd still have a workforce that receives close to zero training on how to use the kit and would therefore continue to under-utilise it to a scandalous degree. The advent of cheap hardware is more curse than blessing as it means they can throw a few more laptops into the classroom to impress the parents and governors without any thought of effectiveness.

Anti-social media in defence a token of chronic stupidity

John Whitehead
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That Churchill quote...

is "rum, sodomy and the lash". Best to get it right...

Bish says sorry for right royal Facebook rant

John Whitehead
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Glad he retracted it otherwise I'd be in the truly weird position of agreeing wholeheartedly with a bishop...

Windows malware dominates Mac malware detection chart

John Whitehead
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Idiotically impractical software

I gave it a whirl -- I freelance with banks using Windows machines, so it would be embarrassing to be the source of a virus/trojan or other nasty.

It took about 60 hours to trawl my hard drive and back ups and it found about 30 instances of one very old Windows trojan and two of another. It said it wasn't able to clean these automatically so I should do it manually.

But the really stupid thing was that the window that listed the paths of the files wasn't big enough so they were presented in truncated form (they were well buried in backups so had very long paths). Nothing I tried would make the software cough up the full address and let me actually find the damned things.

Perhaps I was being dim, but there is no way that I could act on the program's recommendation, so they're still sitting there. I think they're effectively harmless, being so old, but the same problem would presumably apply if they were the latest cunning and dastardly attack.

Complete waste of time simply because of poor UI design.

Video calling impresses Brits, if it's Apple video calling

John Whitehead

Two cameras much better than one

Interesting piece, but you overlook the real innovation that FaceTime brings: integration with the backward facing camera so that you can show what you see to the other caller. This is so much more interesting than the talking head you get with, eg, Video iChat. It's another example of Apple's insistence on adding value and getting the experience right. The iPhone was long criticised for not having a forward facing camera. Now it's got one, but it's the integration of the two that creates the killer app.

IT chiefs in cloaks and sashes gets Queen's mark of approval

John Whitehead
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Socialist Worker? More romantic nonsense

Don't confuse republicanism with socialism. There's no need to fantasise about a utopian future of smiling proles selflessly aiding the oppressed in order to oppose the nonsense of monarchy and state-sponsored religion. Let's just be grown up about politics and put away childish things like crowns and mitres.

John Whitehead
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Vile toadies should be ashamed

Dressing up daft, going to church and grovelling to royalty -- these people have clearly taken leave of their senses. Have they no pride in current achievements? Must they look back to a fictionalised mediaeval past to validate today's success? It makes me feel sick and I despair of ever seeing grown up people acting rationally and intelligently in combination to improve the lot of others. Disgusting.

Mobile Broadband Best Buys

John Whitehead

Take it on the road

Very good review, but the conclusion is the reverse of my experience. I had a 3 dongle and found it worse than useless when commuting between Milton Keynes and Euston. They wouldn't take it back (would have done if it didn't work at home, but it did -- though I never needed to use it at home!) and in the end I cancelled the contract (v. expensively). The software for Macs was a scandalous nightmare.

Please take your review on the road and check other locations. Also check how they perform whilst mobile -- I get the impression that they're not as good as phones are going from cell to cell. And a basic test of Mac software should be part of the deal too. You'd be doing the country a great service.

Buyer's Guide: Colour Laser Printers

John Whitehead
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Pretty pages, but...

there's no internal navigation. How do I move around this review to compare printers? You don't even put the prices on the recommendation page. I have to work really hard to extract useful information from this article.

Fat Reg slims down for spanking new mobile phone version

John Whitehead
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Minor probs

I noticed that the Hardware reviews missed out the rating panel, recently moved to the front of the review, which also tells you the price (meaning that I read a review of an £1800 telly that I'd normally have skipped!).

It's also the case that changing the orientation of my iPhone 3GS led to minor alignment problems.

Otherwise, natty.

Norway warns Amazon against Kindle launch

John Whitehead

When did Norway join the EU?

News to me...

Panasonic TX-L37V10 LCD HD TV

John Whitehead


I looked very closely at this machine before deciding that time shift capacity is crucial. I eventually bought a fairly basic Freeview TV (Toshiba) and an HDsat enabled PVR (Topfield). It's not as elegant as the TV that can do (nearly) everything, but it does mean that I can watch what I want when I want. Will trade up when Panasonic adds a hard disk to the already impressive spec.

Final Hubble spacewalk done and dusted

John Whitehead
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Scientific heroes

These guys are truly heroic. They're impeccably well drilled but also resourceful when the drill fails. They're giving us more evidence that the truth about the universe is far more extraordinary than the profoundly unimaginative twaddle peddled by religion. Let's hope they get home safely.

Ingres alumnus joins DBMS scrum

John Whitehead

Would that be alumni?

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