* Posts by Chris Byers

72 publicly visible posts • joined 6 Aug 2007


MPs slam 'dismal' cost savings of government procurement body

Chris Byers

I recall many years ago when working for a county council that our departments were free to purchase from the best price you could find.

Until one year when they signed an agreement with a printer supplier and we had to buy all consumables via them.

These were vastly marked up and IIRC the prices we set at a fixed unegotiable rate at the start of the contract and renegotiated every blue moon.

It was so bad we ended up buying brand new printers that came with rainbow packs or black toner carts as it was cheaper than simply buying the new toner via their contracted partner.

In fact, I don't think I have ever come across a central purchasing department that ever managed to get value for money.

Nintendo pulls the Switch, fires Joy-con at Microsoft and Sony

Chris Byers

Re: Not exactly family friendly pricing though!

The thing about Microsoft and Sony's offerings though is that they are much more than machines for playing games on now.

Netflix, catch up TV, DNLA, Blu Ray playback? They are now very important media hubs for those that have them and do the role of several devices.

*If someone can confim whether the Switch will have third party media apps please let me know, I am more than happy to be put in the picture!*

And all for less than the Switch.

Chris Byers

Not exactly family friendly pricing though!

If you are a parent though, would you pay out almost £300 for one of these or opt for an Xbox One S with a free 4k Blu Ray player and bundled games for £200?

Couple this with both Sony and Microsoft set to launch new console in the next 12 months and I think that Nintendo are not going to shift as many as they anticipate. It really looks like they have learnt nothing from the Wii U pricing debacle at at launch (that too was $300).

I really do think VR is the next big thing in consoles and Nintendo's ability to take their eyes off the ball has once more come to the fore.

I hope I'm wrong, I really do. The industry needs Nintendo in there as a player, but by God they can totally miss what the customer wants on a regular basis.

*I own a Wii and Wii U and both kids have 3 DS's as well :(

The pachyderm punch: El Reg takes just-over-a-ton Elephone P8000 to tusk

Chris Byers

I've been a big fan of Chinese phones for a while now and just got my daughter a Doogee 720p device for her first phone. For circa £65 (inc. shipping and import duties) she has a device that beats the spots off similarly priced supermarket entry level smartphones and you'd be paying well over £250 for something from a name brand with similar specs.

Yes, support can be slow, but I've never had a negative experience...yet!

Four Brits cuffed as global cyber-crime forum Darkode busted

Chris Byers

Re: "really tight age grouping"

McDonalds then?

Welsh police force fined £160,000 after losing sensitive video interview

Chris Byers


My money is on 'thrown in the bin'.

Who else here has (in the past) had a growing mountain of unlabled CD/DVD's created everytime you had to burn an ISO for some random install?

At a certain point I'd have to see what was on each one before snapping and binning them once the mess could no longer be contained.

Much the same here I suspect with no checking first.

RIP Sir Terry Pratchett: Discworld author finally gets to meet DEATH

Chris Byers

This has been on the cards for some time now but now it's happend I'm very, very sad.

Sadder still is the fact that I will never be able to look forwards to a new Terry Pratchett book and my special shelves at home set aside for his writings will now never get any fuller.

It's a black, black day for me :(

RIP Terry, you'll be missed more than I think you could have ever imagined.

Indian mom just loves it on Mars, tweets fave holiday snap

Chris Byers

Off the shelf components?

I seem to remember reading that the cost was largely down to the wide scale use of off the shelf technical parts rather than the NASA method of R&D to customise a mission and invent new technologies.

If this is the case then it would be a lot cheaper, but perhaps a bit more limiting, than other nations efforts.

Still, getting to mars is nothing to be sniffed at but does question how much R&D was done by India for this achievment as there has been great play made about how this will benefit their country.

Anyhow, well done India. The human race needs to be out there.

UK internet filtering shouldn't rely on knee tappers, says Tory MP

Chris Byers

Shouldn't you be on the BBC's Have Your Say section with a comment like that?

British support for fracking largely unmoved by knowledge of downsides

Chris Byers

It makes me giggle about the green hysteria, especially as I don't live far from a fracking site in Lancashire. So here are a few facts.

1. We get all of our drinking water from lakes and reservoirs here in the North West, what with us being so hilly and not short of a drop of rain or two.

2. Have you ever seen a fracking site? I have. They're tiny, not the huge oil refinery sized monstrosities that the greens would have you believe. I grew up not to a gas works where they made gas and in comparison these sites are minuscule and quiet.

3. Under UK\EU law drilling companies must disclose the ingredients to the liquid fracking solution they use, so no more of this business in the US where companies will not disclose to third parties where it is suspected of water contamination.

I'd like to be skeptical bout fracking, but seeing as the US hasn't exploded in a ball of flame or turned local residents into zombies I can't. If the most litigious country in the world hasn't had it stopped then lets go ahead. It will at least buy us time until better solutions are developed.

Oh, and I wouldn't mind living half a mile away from a fracking site. Compared to the 300 meters from the gasworks I grew up next to it's nothing as well as being so much quieter and safer.

Apple: Now that you've updated to iOS 7... YOU CAN NEVER GO BACK

Chris Byers

Re: Yeah but...

Unless it's raining and you're trying to call a cab.

Ready for the car 2.0? Nvidia preps UPGRADABLE car system

Chris Byers

I Pity XDA

I can see it now in 10 years time a whole raft of frantic posts/threads on XDA Developers forums from 17 year old kids who have bricked their parents cars trying to be l33t.

All in very, very bad english.

Virgin Mobile coughs to choking its customers

Chris Byers
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I've been a Virgin Mobile customer for many years now. TBH, their service has been reliable and I've never had any qualms about the speed of the data connection. As long as it will continues to be reliable, sync my mail and allow for some browsing and emergency tethering (which I can still do!) I'll be happy.

Do I need more than 2Mbps to my phone? Nah, not really.

Bletchley Park gets £7.4m to tart up WWII code-breaking huts

Chris Byers

Re: Why do they need 7m

Have you seen the price of timber in B&Q recently?

Teen net addicts pee in bottles to stay glued to WoW

Chris Byers

Hey! It's 3am. I'm not getting up ;)

Microsoft de-cloaks Windows 8 push-button lifesaver

Chris Byers
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This feature has been in since the Developers Preview was released

The factory reset and restore functionallity has been in since the Developers Preview was released. I've even done an instructional post about it last September! (http://www.edugeek.net/forums/windows-8/82530-how-refresh-reset-windows-8-a.html)

It is a good feature, but in it's current form still asks you to re-register (enter your serial number etc.) Windows for some strange reason. I look forwards to the beta cleaning up the process a bit though. I also couldn't comment on how long it would take an average desktop PC to retore itself as I was doing my trials on a relatively low powered Atom tablet. Still, it did exactly what it said on the tin, you just have to make sure you de-register any applications that require it (Photoshop Elements and the like) before you start.

Iran displays video footage of captured US spy drone

Chris Byers

Not sure

There are a lot of factors to consider here, but for me primarily there are 2 main points.

1. If it was shot down or fell out of the sky for whatever reason, it would be trashed, totally, and not just the hidden underside. As it is the one being displayed is in far too good a condition for this to be the case.

2. If it was 'hacked' or the Iranians had somehow taken control of it, they would need indepth knowledge of how to actually fly the thing and send the correct command/control signals i.e. what makes the flaps and other fight controls work. You can't just use a cheap joystick and FSX plugin to do this (although if this was how it was controlled, heads are going to roll somewhere in the US!).

By all the noise (or lack of it) from the US operators, they probaly have lost a drone. But is this the one being displayed? I remain skeptical.

Sony drives DAB+ motoring

Chris Byers

Windscreen arial!?

As a long time user of the Pure Highway DAB radio I found the arial they provided you with that you stuck to the inside your windscreen next to useless and getting any kind of reliable DAB signal was almost impossible. The purchase of the £15 external arial however removed all fo these problems. i would suggest to anyone looking to purchase an in-car DAB product to look at getting an external DAB arial. It also means you don't have to spend a day trying to remove the horrible adhesive that gets left behind on your windscreen when you remove it!


Chris Byers
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Best music app I've tried yet

I purchased this last week and have installed it on my Wits A81E which I use as a large screen sat nav and in-car music system, and the sound output/quality and features are by far the best I've seen an any Android music player yet. It's also stable as anything, as some other plyers are, how can I put it? Flakey to say the least?

Anyway, thanks El Reg, a cracking recommendation.

Oh, and it also has the great feauture of starting off where you left it when you have rebooted/shut down, instead of having to navigate back to where you wanted it to be.

Whitehall to puff punters: 'Hide your fags'

Chris Byers

8 Million smokers....

That’s a hell of a proportion of the population, and given that yes, some will want to quit, they are still imposing a hell of a restriction on 20% of the population who, for the most part, don't want that restriction. Imagine restricting the various holy books used within the UK to having plain covers and only being sold out of sight? I'll bet less than 20% of the UK populous is church/temple/mosque going. There would be riots (albeit polite ones with harshly worded letters to the editor of various daily papers), and much mutterings about living in a dictatorship etc.

Also, given that the huge tax take that smoking brings in is something no govt want so see vanish they will then have to load that missing tax from every lost smoker onto non-smokers, coupled with the now aging population that will now require extra care/pensions. It’s a bloody stupid idea introduced by a government that didn’t take the hint from the drubbing Labour suffered that we want a government that does things for us rather than too us.

P.S. All those whingers complaining about the smell of tobacco smoke and how they ‘don’t like it’ I suggest they pay more attention to the fumes from traffic as they will be doing you are (and constant) harm, especially those of you based in London (itself like having a 40 a day habit!). Mind you, you're proberbly the kind of people who visit the countryside and complain about the smell of farms, livestock, trees etc.

Chris Byers

Wrong on tax

As for the financial impact....I do not have the latest data, but I was taught, that for each pound, made by tobacco taxation, there are four pounds spent treating diseases, directly caused or worsened by smoking. Might be totally biased stats, true.'

Actually,it's the opposite, tobacco tax actually more than covers the amount spent on treatment, and leave a surplus to spend on other NHS resources.

This site (http://www.the-tma.org.uk/tma-publications-research/facts-figures/tax-revenue-from-tobacco/ ) shows the amount taken in tobacco taxation each year for 10 years or so. If you compare the figures from 1999 that this BBC article (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/511893.stm) shows that the NHS spent 1.7 billion in smoking related treatment however the govt took 7.5 billion in tax from tobacco products. If you are a non-smker you will have to pick up the slack in missing taxes here. Fancy paying an attional £5-£10 a week in taxes anyone?

Please back up your speculation with figures next time.

Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

Chris Byers

Happy birthday old friend

You were my first computer, you gave me a spark which lit a fire and gave me the wonderful career I now have. I wish, like many of the more foresighted and prudent people here, that I'd kept you in a box in the attic, but sadly I can't even recall what I did with you. Sure you had your faults, but you also helped to create a whole new generation of coders and IT luminaries that would have otherwise never realised their potential. I'll be raising a glass to you this weekend you can be sure of that.

iPads improve image of IT industry

Chris Byers

So what this survey actually says is....

...Joe Public think we spend all day staring at company issue iPads and engaging in various types of social media. Boy, are they in for a shock!

Tablet vendors 'quake in fear' over iPad 2

Chris Byers
Jobs Horns

Apple get cheaper?!!

'The new model, then, will be lighter, cheaper and more functional.'

Lighter, yes, more functional, for a second generation device I would hope so. But cheaper? This is the same Apple we are talking about isn't it?

Unless they really slash prices I think that the Android tablets are going to more than fulfil users’ needs once you ignore the poseurs market. Even if you acknowledge that the iPad is a fantastically designed and implemented device (and it is) more people would rather look at the price vs. feature point than an expensive locked in device.

No wonder CompSci grads are unemployed

Chris Byers
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It's hardly a surprise

We at EduGeek have been saying this for quite some time. It is to our great shame that the UK has the best IT equipped schools in the world, yet the curriculum is completely useless in its realisation of the skills required in the real world. Secondary school children are taught what would have been called 'office skills' (Word, Excel, PP etc.) by a collection of former English, maths and science teachers. Very few schools are lucky enough to have 'techy' teachers who know anything beyond point-and-click. I left school at 16 in the mid-80's and had taken 'computer studies'. This course dealt with all aspects of computing including having to learn a programming language and produce projects using this language (BASIC), how processors and other components work, how computers operate in larger environments and a whole raft of areas that no longer get taught in the ICT curriculum now delivered in our schools.

Partly this is down to the lack of specialist talent teaching the subject in schools, and partly to the curriculum which doesn’t demand that talent needing to be present in the first place. I recall once being told that ICT in schools is about ‘teaching and learning’ and that the pupils learning of processes and problem solving were what mattered, not the fact that they were being taught a subject that overlooked 90% of what it should be doing.

Top Ten Retro PC Games

Chris Byers

A timely reminder?

Is it any coinceidece that R3play, the retro gaming and arcade expo is taking place in Blackpool next weekend?

British bank cuts 4,500 IT jobs

Chris Byers

Oh great........

I have a personal account with Halifax and my business account with Lloyds TSB. Now I can look forward to several years of 'This site is down for maintenance' messages whenever I try to do online banking!!

Next fashions budget 10in Android tablet

Chris Byers

Had one for a few weeks

You really get whet you pay for here. It is cheap, it is cheerful, but it does one thing wonderfully well. It allows you to dig around and experiemnt with Android in a real world (not SDK) environment. There are plenty of forums and custom ROMS to play with, and you will really get a feel for how Android works and how to 'fettle' it without borking your own prized Android handset. If you look around on Ebay you will seem many 'shanzhai' (Chinese knock offs\cheap imitations) Android tablets out there. I even got a 7 inch Android 2.2 tablet with GPS built in (£150) and now have a large touch-screen sat-nav\media player for the car. The Next device is surprisingly robust for an all plastic shelled device as well!!

Go symbol because you get what you pay for and it gives a bit more once you've scratched the surface.

Baby Boomers committing suicide at unprecedented rates

Chris Byers

I thought I was Generation X?

At 40 (born 1970) to baby boomers I'm pretty sure I am one of Generation X (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_x).

As for why they are topping themselves? Perhaps a legacy of finacial ruin, CCTV, junk food run amok and the dashing of the hopes and dreams of the following generations may be reason enough? It's a gross over simplification of course, but I await with glee the enforced guilt dramas about the nastyness of the baby boomers in a series of BBC dramas over the coming years. After all, it's only fair that whilst they made documentaries and dramas making my generation feel bad about slavery, racisim, the empire and a whole raft of other subjects we had nothing to do with that perhaps it's payback time?

Nutter repairmen scale 1,768ft TV mast

Chris Byers
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They had no choice...

...It was either do this or have their benefits stopped!!

Joking aside, that is one job that I don't think anyone in their right mind would do, so well done guys, and so long as you're doing it, it means teh rest of us don't!

Steve Jobs denies Judas Phone antenna problems

Chris Byers
Jobs Horns

Alternative compensation

As regards to the free giveaway of the bumpers. There is a parcularity of the US legal system whereby 'compensation' may be offered without the guilty party ever having to admit liability. This compensation, once accepted, whether cash, gift or otherwise is then classed as having closed the matter and no case can then be brought. This happened to my company where a large US based publisher was (as far as our research pointed) at fault over a particular matter. We were then offered a quite attractive proposition as 'compensation', which we took as it was good for both parties. It was only later when it was explained to me why we got such a deal that the penny dropped. The actual act of offering this 'compensation' is, to my mind a way of them offloading their legal worries, as long as people take it up en-mass.

So long then, Windows 2000

Chris Byers

It's Called 'Evolution'

Win 2000, in it's day was quite groundbreaking. Those of us that migrated from NT 4.0 will never forget the tears of joy as AD and GPO's made our lives so much easier when managing Windows networks, but sadly, things move on. Just as humans are no longer the tiny scurrying mammals our prehistoric ancestors were, Windows has evolved. It has got rather large, I will admit, but it has to carry compatability librarys for several previous Windows incarnations, has a LOT more bells and whistles than 2000 (Media Center being a good example) and has to deliver what home users want, rather than the business users that 2000 was aimed at.

Windows 2000, it came, made our lives brighter, but we moved on, and it's time it was laid to rest.

Dead Pink phone fallout hits Microsoft's top brass

Chris Byers

I almost brought one lat week!

I was in Best Buy in Denver last week and saw a Kin avaiable for sale. I wish I'd brought it now as it can join my Google Phone as a collectors item\curio in the future. Mind you, my Nexus One is a great business phone and I suspect I'll be using it for quite some time to come.

Windows 8 and life after KIN - Ballmer's hot summer

Chris Byers

Re: what are you on about...keep up the MS banging

OK, ignoring the grammar and spelling, when a new OS is in the planning stage it is often well before the launch of the latest version (apart from that large gap between XP ans Vista, but there is a good example of what happens when you don't practice!). Any 'leak', so long as it being authentic, will be quite well into the development process by now and reletively accurate, admittedly though, some features may be dropped and some added. That is why leaks are leaks. Otherwise they would be a Microsoft released feature list.

Besides, El Reg don't just bash Microsoft, they bash everybody equally....almost ;)

Blunkett threatens to sue for £30 ID card refund

Chris Byers

And they wonder why they lost the election!

And the Labour party wonder why they lost the last election so horribly. Well, that and the huge financial mismanagement of the economy, increase in the states interference in our lives, and the attempt to turn us into a failed soviet style state which they almost had us all stubling blindly into. Not Blunkett though, he was there anyway.

Broadband boss: 'The end of freeloading is nigh'

Chris Byers

Another Darl McBride in the making?

Every now and then someone always comes up with a 'winning' idea which then qualifies them for a place in the industrial Darwin Awards.

Murdoch hacks grumble over outsourced IT failures

Chris Byers

Best value is not the same as cheap

The problem with IT outsourceing is that may senior comany execs think that a server\service in India is going to be the same as the one you have here. You simply cannot transfer 10 years+ of customised IT experience via an SLA. Is it any wonder many are now reconsidering these decisions?

Jobcentre ejects Jedi Knight

Chris Byers

The dark side?

I'm not sure about you, but his picture in the Sun makes him look like the Emporer!

Some finger based lightning bolts could have livened up the afternoon in the Job Center.

Apple revises iPad ship date

Chris Byers
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That's my birthday

And I intend to do something more worthwhile with my time than order a comedy sized iPod Touch. In fact, the first person I know who buys one of these will find themselved bombarded with emails containing links to Flash based sites and Java games. The sad thing is that this product won't bomb (like it deserves to) because Apple fanbois really will buy anything regradless of real functional ability.

BBC to cull radio stations, halve websites in painful biz review

Chris Byers

Noooooo, not 6 Music!

6 Music is a fantastic station (especially after they canned George Lamb from the day time schedules), and is the only BBC station to actually play new and non-mainstream music. Radio 1 certainly doesn't!

As for the earlier comment about the Asian Network I would presume that

1. Radio 1 plays most of what young asian youths listen too anyway.

2. Asians make up 4% (2001 census) of the UK populace.If a non-UK born asian wants to listen to asian radio stations then chances are they can stream one from their home country,

Is it justified to spend that amount of money of a minority station when we should be encouraging more integration? If 6 Music was on FM I'd be willign to bet it would be a runaway success. Anyway, please don't give me a reason to bin my plan to buy a Pure Sensia!

Apple to take iPad orders this week?

Chris Byers

Not for business

Quite a few people here seem to think it would make a good business 'companion'. As a former sysadmin I'd have to say 'NO, IT BLOODY WELL WON'T!!'

There is no way to purchase the apps in bulk, or store\deploy them centrally, and the task of managing a small flock of iPads would just take up too much time of any IT department. As a busines poseurs 'accessory' though they might look good. Unless you busniness web portal uses Flash, or Java. In several weeks time I have visions of sales people and minor execs enterign their IT deparments clutching their iPad and uttering the dreaded words ' I don't need my laptop now, I've brought this. Can you set it up for me?'

Apple have really failed on this (from a technical point of view), and it had the potential to be so much more. I now wait with baited breath for the W7 based tablets from HP et al to deliver the goods that Apple left behind.

The myth of Britain's manufacturing decline

Chris Byers

@Successive Govt Failure

'Well at least the UK still make shed-loads of guns, ammo, and other military paraphernalia which we *could* use to defend ourselves (although I'd gladly see the back of this trade's exports).'

Actually we don't. Our last military grade munition factories have been largely shut down and our rifle cartridge production capacity was shipped to India a few years back. We also don't produce tank rounds any more which means the UK's tank fleet now has to have new barrels fitted so as to allow them to fire rounds purchased abroad. We make very few fire arms, although we do make some very nice speciality weapons such as sniper rifles, and our heavy armour production capabilty has almost vanished. Do try to keep up, becuase when some nasty men come kicking down our doors, we literally have no means of holding them off on our own anymore without assistance from willing countries. Thank you Labour, you finally managed to prepare our country for rule by foreign powers. In the cold war it was the Russians, and now it could be anybody.

Labour MP denies calling Tories 'scum-sucking pigs' on Twitter

Chris Byers

This could get quite good actually

If it hadn't been reported he could have moved on to tweets like 'Tories eat babies....raw!' and 'If you vote tory we'll drag you out of your house at 3am and lock you up without a charge or trail for months'..oh, hang on.

Wheres the icon for 'I'm going to be redunadant in 3 months time'?

Nexus One poised for iPhone's American 3G

Chris Byers

Just a matter of time

I too have a Nexus One, and a very capable handset it is too. But I have to admit is it not quite up to the standard of the iPhone.....yet.

However now the OS has been open sourced it is only a matter of time until features are added (especially origional ones coming from left-field) and certain current aspects get polished. The Nexus One and indeed Android OS are the base of something that is going to be quite huge. This is what Apple have seen, and indeed are afraid of.

Steve Jobs dubs Google's 'don't be evil' motto 'bulls**t'

Chris Byers
Jobs Horns

Pot this is kettle, colour check, over.....

Didn't Apple Computers once promise (via a legal agreement) Apple Music that they would in no way ever get involved with music, in any way shape or form?

Oh, that's right, they did.

Steve Jobs uncloaks the 'iPad'

Chris Byers
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Finally Apple release a turkey


The fact that they have seriously misjudged just what the consumer and teh IT world wants means that the smaller Windows based tablets soon to be released have time to correct any shortcomings that teh iPad has revealed. An 8" Windows 7 based tablet with built in 3G that I can put in my inside jacket pocket and install pretty much all of my current purchased software on . yes please. A (admittedly nice looking) 10 inch slab that pretty much doesn't allow you to do anything well. No thanks.

Chris Byers

To big to be a travel companion

I was hoping the iPad was to be a 7" device, something I could take on overnight business trips, so I could browse the web and answer some email on the train with a few multimidia features thrown in, but the fact that it is too big to fit in a inside jacket pocket keans I'm back to eyeing up a Lenovo X Series tablet. At least I'll get some freedom of choice out of that!

Yes, the Googlephone works in Blighty

Chris Byers
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No hidden charges

There are no hidden charges. The phone is $529, charger $19.99 and shipping $29.65 which comes to (in sterling) £363.511. A bargin considering the price of the competition.

Chris Byers

I took the leap last night

It had to be done, I'm just sick of Windows Mobile 6.1 thwarting my every attempt to do even the simplest of tasks on my Touch HD. And it's a couple of hundred quid cheaper than the iPhone and Droid. Beware though as they don't tell you about the extra cost for the UK charger ($19 IIRC) and shipping price until checkout!

Sony Reader PRS-600 Touch Edition

Chris Byers

I've got one!

I purchased one to demonstrate at the BETT show in January on the EduGeek stand. What I see the best use of these kind of devices is for holding referance manuals on. How many times hove you puchased a device or piece of kit and the only thing you get in the box is the quick start guide? The main 500+ page manual is on a PDF on a CD in the box, and isn't much use when you need to go offsite to look at or configure kit. The ability to fit the manuals for 100+ applications and pieces of hardware is great.

However, it isn't cheap, and is lsuggish. A firmware fix may adress this in the future, but I have to admit to being very impressed so far. It does what I intended it to, and very well indeed.