* Posts by Kevin

51 publicly visible posts • joined 28 Aug 2007


Samsung phone recognises people, calls them


@AC 17:10GMT

AC I think you have it. The story clearly says that it's matching against photos already stored in the address book against your contacts. And then it says you have another photo, maybe even a group photo, and you click on a face in that photo and it searches your address book, finds a matching headshot and calls that person.

It's barely useful but there will be the odd occasion when you want to contact a person in your photo album - your example of wanting to send the picture to the person in the picture is probably about the best one.

But @Bassey has the ultimate answer - it's shiny and new. Barely useful but really cool.

Numbers should be portable, insists Reding



You guys put up with hours? Or days? WOW. How can waiting 5 days be ok in any circumstances? You walk into a store, want to buy a phone - they say come back in 5 days. No way.

I think the requirement in Australia was measured in milliseconds during implementation. In real life, people get upset if they have to wait minutes. In general, it takes several seconds to port a number between carriers. Like a slow web request.

It can be done.

Hydrogen leak grounds Discovery


Watch out!

Hey, have they not noticed in that picture that there's an ICBM heading for the ISS? It's on a slightly wobbly trajectory but they should consider ducking (with or without tape).

Huawei unwraps 21Mb/s HSDPA dongle


We have a network!

<aside>I'm guessing it's an HSPA+ dongle and not an HSDPA dongle</aside>

@Jason McQueen - Come to Australia - Telstra's 805MHz NextG network is 21Mbps HSDPA, first demonstrated locally last year, launched at Barcelona and officially in the Guineess Book of Records. They peaked at about 19, and sustained 15 to 17 at MWC. In real life, you'll get between 1 & 8Mbps typically.

Devices should be available around about now - Sierra Wireless, Qualcomm, Ericsson & Telstra have been crowing about it.

They're promising 42Mbps by the end of the year.

Samsung's Omnia touchphone goes HD

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Why HD?

What is the point of putting HD video recording (or 12MP cameras) in a device with a lense the size of a pinhead? Or does it take EOS lenses? It's bad enough we have all these 5MP and 7MP images out there that are just as bland, flat and lacking in detail as their 3MP cousins because you can't get enough light into the lense. It's got to be midday on a bright sunny day or you have to carry a halogen lamp wherever you go or bring your tripod. Even hendheld point-and-shoot digital cameras are pushing it at 12MP with a tiny little lense. Mine turns the flash on AND tells me to hold it steady. It's technology for technology sake.

Gmail adds location-aware signatures



This is very pedantic but everybody gets it wrong. There is no triangulation. You need to know angles to do triangulation and mobile & wifi basestation id's don't tell you your angle relative to them.

The process of taking the known positions of at least 3 things and placing you in the middle of them is probably best called trilateration

BONDI gives mobile widgets a day in the sun



Is it OMTA, OMTP or OPTP? Or all of the above?

F1 chiefs ready post-prang battery safety scheme



The cars _are_ grounded when they are in the pits. Have a look next time you see one approaching - there are a couple of metal straps sticking out of the ground where the car pulls up which earth the chassis to ground as it goes over the top.

UK donates Leo Sayer to Oz


13000 in Canberra?

13,000 is the total number of people who got citizenship on Monday. Not all of them were in Canberra. That would be cruel. That kind of treatment might have been how this country started but we've improved a bit since then. You're actually allowed to get citizenship everywhere.

And he isn't giving up anything. As pointed out above, you can have dual citizenship. I hold both an Australian & British passport - and I've never set foot in Britain!

Vodafone next-gen 3G trial hits 16Mb/s



It'll probably be a while till you see 21Mb/s phones. The first device that Telstra demonstrated was a Sierra Wireless data card. That's where the 21Mb/s and 42Mb/s market is. It's for wireless broadband, not downloading ringtones.

Shane Ritchie poised to 'reinvent' Minder



"According to the BBC, Archie is the nephew of Arthur Daley - played in ten series between 1979 to 1994 by George Cole "

A pet hate: "between X to Y". Please can we have an "and" instead. Between needs two objects, "1979 to 1994" is a single period of time. You need two years, 1979 AND 1994.

Aussie government muffs plans for internet filtering


Overzealous filters

My wife's employer blindly installed a filter, did very little filtering and started dropping all incoming emails that matched "the rules". One of the words that was not allowed was "free". Which meant she never got the invitations from the Government official responsible for their funding who kept on emailing asking when my wife was "free" for a weekend. Obviously, all emails with "free" in the body were spam offerings.

The other that we decoded by eliminating a paragraph at a time and then a line at a time and then a word at a time over the course of half a day was an email I had sent her containing the word "wonder". It had been filtered on the basis that any email with the word "won" in it was obviously spam as well.

And she was the only person who was complaining, so the IT people ignored her. Eventually they relented and dropped all that stuff in a SPAM folder in her account but not before weeks of arguing.

Google fixes world's most stupid bug



It's not about messages that are received, it's about actual keys typed. There's a shell process still running in the background receiving the keystrokes. It was probably a very simple (in both the "easy" and "stupid" sense) mistake to make. No tricky programming, just forget that you left a shell running during startup or forget to disassociate it from /dev/console.


@ Jimmy Floyd

> Can anyone please explain how that bug might have been created?

> As a programmer, I am at a complete loss to understand how such an error would occur.

To me it seemed quite simple - it's a linux box so it boots up and starts running startup scripts in /bin/sh. Let's say that shell is attached to the 'tty' (or handset). Normally, that /bin/sh process either exits or transforms into init or something like that. Often, exiting that process reboots the machine because it's the main session (think single user mode, logout, reboot)

So, you've got /bin/sh running with the tty attached. You spawn the phone interface "/software/google/phone/runme &" popping it into the background and then you're left with the /bin/sh running.

Every key typed still hits the /bin/sh because it still has the tty. Easily fixed - "exec" the runme process (or equivalent), exit the startup script (assuming that won't reboot the machine), close STDIN, whatever.

Something like that is probably what happened. Background process which opened the tty, probably during boot that never let go.

Funniest thing I've seen in ages, though!

Iowa: How the vote was won


@Neoc - voting in Australia

> As a side-note, I often wondered why you have to register to vote in the US if you are

> not *required* to vote. Down here, voting is "optionally mandatory". In other words,

> you do not have to vote to register (you could spend your entire life without stepping

> into a polling station) but if you *do* register to vote you will be required to vote; if you

> do not, you need to show cause or pay a fine.

Neoc, I think you have it slightly wrong. There are two separate laws. One says that anybody who would be eligible to register must do so (basically citizens over the age of 18). You are required by law to be on the electoral role.

Then, there is a second law that says that if you're on the electoral role you are required "to attend a polling place". That's what most Aussies don't know. We talk about voting being compulsory, it's not. It's perfectly alright to go to the polling place, state your name (we don't have to show id, just state our name and address and attest that we have not already voted), have it crossed off the list, receive your ballot papers and do what you like with them (maybe you can't take them with you but you can place them in the box unmarked, you may even be allowed to refuse to take one but most officials would probably have a problem with that).

The thing I find interesting is that the US system doesn't cope with a large voter turnout. Elections are on work days and voting is not compulsory so a high turnout overwhelms the system.

Australian elections are on Saturdays and almost every public school or church or similar is a polling place. Queues rarely exceed a few minutes and you can attend any polling place with your electorate/ward/etc. So much more civilised.

But I agree 100% with Neoc - the AEC is a great thing to have. And also having federal law govern a federal election helps as well. In the US every state has its own way of participating in a federal election. That's just plain weird. And I have no idea what this concept of political parties purging voter roles is all about. Here the AEC does the lot. And they do it well.

The Jesus Phone NDA - No one cares but you


Ted's Credentials

Shouldn't that be founder and **EX** CTO of pressflip.com?

Official: gadgets not responsible for Qantas jet plunge



If the system was getting two sets of information that were at odds with each other, then disconnecting autopilot _might_ be a sensible thing to do. You know _something_ is wrong but not _what_ is wrong.

So it didn't know the ADIRU #1 was broken. It knew the ADIRU data was screwed.

And as Brian suggests, nobody had taught it what to do next in that situation.

Where's the Stanley Kubrick icon? Daisy, daisy...

Wireless browsers shut out of the Olympics


It's not about the license fee

I think the license fee you guys pay is clouding the issue. In Australia we pay for the ABC as well. But through taxes instead of a license fee. No government has yet opted for a direct TV Tax like yours here.

The issue is about copyright and licensing. The IOC has licensed the BBC to broadcast the Olympics in the UK. They've licensed the 7 Network to broadcast it here in Australia (and 7 have sold complimentary rights to SBS for certain content) and Telstra & BigPond have the sole Mobile broadcast rights. Yahoo7 shows brief snippets online.

All these companies have very strict contractual relationships with the IOC determining what they can show and where. The fact that you pay BBC Tax and are a UK subscriber does not give the BBC any rights to broadcast to you in Belgium. Doesn't matter what you've paid, it's not in their rights package.

Sure, some signal may leak out but as long as the BBC are taking reasonable steps to prevent that then I'm sure the IOC will be ok with it.

What amazes me is that there's no way for them to tell whether a person on their network is local or coming from overseas. Surely you can configure your DHCP so that roaming links are in a different address space? Or some other mechanism. Instead they hit it with a big hammer.

HTC Dream sails through FCC tests

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dual-band GSM/GPRS/Edge and WCDMA 1700????

Huh? Why, in the 21st century, would you create a dual band 2G, 3G 1700 phone? Who could find that useful?

Oh, I just googled it. New York. It's a New York phone. Useless everywhere in the world except the USA. It probably only plays NTSC videos and might come with an optional Betamax slot.

Space shuttle replacement delayed until 2014


@vincent himpe

And, we know why it all has to end in 2038 - that's when the 32-bit time_t's roll over and time goes back to January 1970. The circle is complete. Repeat until bored.

Court advisor says poem list infringed database right


@AC 15:50

Best-of albums are usually produced by people who own or have rights to the copyright in the material they're publishing. Or they pay the appropriate licensing fees to do so.

In Australia, we already have these laws. Any compilation of data that takes some amount of effort is copyrightable. All the examples in the story are included: Music Charts (put up the current top 10 chart and ARIA's lawyers will drop a letter in your mailbox in no time, put a Footy fixture on the web and the AFL's lawyers start typing. And IceTV has spent a lot of time and money defending themselves against the Nine Network for copyright infringement of TV Guides (Ice won, then lost on appeal and now awaiting next appeal - in the meanwhile their customers don't get data for Ch 9).

eBay Australia ditches PayPal scheme



"I feel people should have a choice of course, but I don't really see the big deal. Then again I don't use paypal to recieve money.. What exactly is the problem? From what i've heard, Paypal are good at helping people who get ripped off"

The problem is that they are forcing you to use PayPal. You say you don't use it to receive money. If you want to sell on eBay Australia you MUST provide that option. And if a buyer chooses to avail themselves of the service, you MUST accept the payment. And then pay PayPal a few % of the value, after paying eBay a few % of the value as well.

And they're doing this even after the recent "back down"

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They're forcing you to use PayPal anyway!

One thing that gets lost in all of this is that eBay are continuing to force us to use PayPal anyway. All they've backed down on is PayPal ONLY. But once you offer it, the power goes to the buyers who can choose to use it. Once they do, you can't say no. I don't want to accept PayPal. At all. And I'm being forced to. And that's illegal in Australia. And the ACCC doesn't seem to have noticed. They've been hoodwinked by the "PayPal ONLY" thing and by forcing eBay to let us offer other forms of payment, they think they've saved us from the 3rd Line Forcing. But they haven't. We're still being forced to use it. Grrr.

I just add a handling fee to the shipping. Or overstate the shipping price. That deals with the fees. Still have to risk the charge backs.

eBay Australia faces PayPal fury


ACCC has the power

Of course the ACCC has the power. The Trade Practices Act gives it that power. In this case it is a practice called "3rd line forcing" which is where somebody uses market power in one market to force you to consume a 3rd party product and anybody in a market dominant position has to be very careful of it. It's a specific part (s47) of the TPA and not just some general "it's not healthy competition" subjective thing. There's a nice discussion of it at this Law Firm site: http://www.mallesons.com/publications/2005/Nov/8201946w.htm . They quote similar examples like a finance company insisting you use a particular insurer to insure a loan or a car seller insisting you use a certain form of finance. It's illegal.

Another thing people are missing is that the current, interim, situation on eBay AU is almost as bad. Currently you are forced to accept PayPal in addition to whatever other means you want to offer. PayPal must be one of the options. Which means, as a seller, I'm at the whim of a buyer. If somebody decides to use PayPal on my listings, I can't stop them. And it's a lot easier to use PayPal for them than do a bank transfer. I just cop the fees. It's this that I want stopped. I don't want to accept PayPal AT ALL. I wish the ACCC was going further than it currently is.

RFID could kill you


@Josh - jammer vs phone

It's possible that a jammer could could less of a problem than a 2G phone. 2G phones use TDMA which involves the transmitter turning on and off very quickly. That's why you hear that dig-dig-dig sound from your radio when a 2G phone is transmitting. 3G phones use CDMA so they transmit continuously. As, presumably would a jammer. So it's possible that the two have different effects (I make no comment over which are benign and which aren't)

But I do ask the question - if mobile phones are so deadly in hospitals, why do Doctors in Australia carry them on their hips? They aren't special ones. They're standard phones. And they use them in preference to pagers a lot of the time.

And to AC above, why does this story prove that people who have been complaining about mobile phone rules in hospitals were wrong. The story is about RFID scanners, not phones. And there's also a difference between caused interference and actually caused malfunction, although I really do understand the desire to be conservative with people's lives and consider those two almost equivalent.

US stops Optimus Prime at the border


iPhone dudes crime?

One thing most stories didn't manage to capture about this incident is that they jailbroke the store's iPhone. Which is a breach of Apple's license conditions. Then again, the guys didn't own those iPhones so had not agreed to those conditions.

But, one could easily conclude that jailbreaking somebody else's iPhone is an act of vandalism (yeah, we know it's better that way but painting your neighbour's house is also vandalism).

If they'd scratched "we woz here" on the back would we consider it enough to be detained?

Vodafone sews up iPhone distribution


@Simon Harvey & @Stephen

Stephen, agree completely. In tech uptake we're right up there. Hey, about 1 in 1000 people have an iPhone here and it hasn't been released yet :-) And in mobile network technology we're way out there with lots of competition and some of the leading technology deployments in the world - building a mobile network to bring HSDPA & HSUPA to 99% of a population as sparsely populated as Australia is an incredible achievement that I don't think very many people comprehend.

Simon, I think we're both. We're extremely tech-savvy but as a market (ie a region into which you can SELL product), we must consider ourselves secondary. There just aren't enough of us to drive manufacturers & suppliers to change direction (or base their decisions on what we want) - except in very specific circumstances.

I don't think it's an insult or anything, just a recognition that we're not a huge population. But a tech-savvy one, for sure.


@Anton Ivanov

I don't think the Voda network in Australia is EDGE. As far as I know, only Telstra has EDGE in Australia. But all the carriers have 3G, Telstra has HSDPA over 98% of the population, Optus in capital cities mostly and I'm not sure what Voda's HSDPA footprint is.

As far as secondary markets is concerned, we need to take a reality pill. A country with a population of 22M is certainly secondary compared to the USA and also compared to major European markets. And certainly compared to major Asian populations. It's an insult. Australia is one of the earliest adopters of new technology out there but that doesn't stop us being small in number which, from a business point of view, makes us a secondary market.

Relax :-)

Seagate ships 1 billionth drive

Black Helicopters

@Steven Knox

Steven, they haven't been maintaing the purity of the decimal prefixes all this time. There was a time when they used powers of two. Up until drives hit about 200MB. In one week, I bought a WD Caviar drive with geometry of 987x12x35 which was labelled as 200MB and then another instance of the same model drive (WD1200 or something) days later with the same geometry of 987x12x35 and it was labelled as 212MB (it's 212244480 bytes).

That's the week they changed their behaviour from one that make sense to computer scientists to the marketing-prefered "our drives are bigger now" model.

The documentation for the drive claimed they were doing it for consistency because DOS' CHKDSK command quoted megabytes as being 1,000,000 bytes. Which is FALSE. CHKDSK always quoted bytes, with commas separating the thousands. It never claimed that the second comma from the right denoted a megabyte.

Schoolboy's asteroid-strike sums are wrong

Paris Hilton

@David Morris

The 520/420 is more accurately described as an expected value rather than a probability. What it's saying is that is the probability of winning one game is 1/420 and you've played 520 times then your expected number of wins is 520/420 or 1.24. Which means, you're doing pretty well having won 3 times but it's not way out there.

Paris, because she always gives 124%

Google crawls The Invisible Web


@Henry Cobb

It shouldn't make a difference if it's a GET or a POST. It's just as easy to fake either. The only difference is the field values are in the URL for the GET and in the request body for the POST.

And as Stephen Stagg points out, they're not trying to get around your security or logins or anything like that. Consider online shopping sites - now they can "browse" the catalogue if it's only available by form which is quite common these days.

On some sites, it's as simple as selecting a region before you get a customised site.

iPhone may sidestep rubbish caller ID suit


Matching algorithm

Most phones do the reverse matching by using the last 6 or 8 digits of the number. This does mean potential overlaps - eg in Australia, mobile numbers are 04 followed by 8 digits, fixed numbers are 02, 03, 07, 08. So it's possible for you to have multiple numbers with common 8-digit suffixes.

BUT the chances of that are so much smaller than mismatches between various ways of putting in a phone number. eg a local number: 98765432 has a full national format of 03 98765432 (which is important if you move interstate) and an international format of +61398765432.

The iPhone does so many things like this "wrong". Its interpretation of SMS is woeful. Nothing other than pure text SMS gets through. Replace in handset flag messages are just silently dropped, etc.

Vodafone takes Ofcom to court over number porting


5 days????

In Australia the time to port is measured in seconds. I think the system was designed to operate in less than 1! In practice, there's usually a short pause and I once remember waiting 15 minutes for it to happen and being quite peeved.

You go into a shop, they create your new account, ask for your number, do an ID check, press a button, the web page says "please wait", refreshes a few times and it's done.

Nobody in this country would tolerate going into a shop, buying a new phone and being told they can't use it for a week. And the phone companies would hate being in a position where they can't complete a sale on the spot. And your average punter is not going to understand (or be willing to be driven nuts by) going from the old carrier to the new carrier getting codes and stuff.

They go in, they buy, they walk out and by the time they've hit the exit door they've received their "Welcome to X" MMS message.

New Bond movie is Quantum of Solace


Quantum does not mean small (or big)

In general, quantum means an amount or a quantity. In Physics, it means a fixed amount or packet of energy. But it doesn't mean small. The term "Quantum Leap" (in the real world sense, not the physics sense) could be translated to "A Leap of a Fixed Size". Not "A Tiny Leap". Sure, relative to the amount of energy we deal with in our every day lives, the energy that a photon emits is very small, but it's not small compared to the resting energy of the electron it's acting on. It's all relative :-) But the world has come to believe that a "Quantum Leap" is a large leap and then the pedants jump up and say no, it's a small leap really. Actually, it's a fix sized leap or a discrete change in energy levels.

And yes, I know I'm being pedantic. And not 100% accurate either. But reasonable :-)

Gibson plugs in self-tuning roboguitar


Blue LEDs

It's obvious that the thing preventing this technology from going mainstream up to now was the lack of a cheap Blue LED. Not satisfied with Red for "that sounds sh*te", Orange for "Ooh, there's something wrong with that" and Green for "Check, check, one, two, all's good, let's go down the pub", the Gibson lights up blue to tell you everything is not only in tune, but the nitrous is turned on, the turbo's are warmed up and this thing is ready to blow some eardrums :-)

Only bicarbonate of soda can save mankind!


Twice as large

The sentence made sense to me: Twice as large as the number of tonnes of CO2 quoted earlier in the sentence. X Tonnes of CO2 produces twice as much NaCO2 [in tonnes].

Inventor of revoked payment patent says UK system is a joke


A non-IT comparison

What I really hate about these business process patents is that changes in the way people do things appear to be inventions if a computer is involved because people think computers are hard.

eg Amazon One-Click patent: It's just leaving out a couple of confirmation screens. It's a marketing idea (and probably a fair bit of work persuading the lawyers to let them do it). Any IT person, given the title of the patent alone would almost instantly know how to do it. ie it's completely obvious. But because it's online, and because they were first to do it, it becomes patentable. ARGHH. Just because nobody has comeup with an idea doesn't mean its implementation is an invention.

eg2:The "12 items or less" checkouts at a supermarket. Do you think anybody would ever think of patenting that? No way. It's a common sense implementation of a clever idea (at the time it was first thought of). But if it involved a computer, they'd patent it.

This credit card thing isn't novel or inventive even if the courts think it is. Even if it's a clever idea and it takes a month to implement the code, that's just elbow-grease. It's when somebody says "I have no idea how to implement that idea" and then a month later works it out - that's an invention.

The world needs to accept that technology is not magic and stop calling every new technology twise an invention.

Charlie Sheen in upside-down iPhone outrage


Upside down for a reason

A previous discussion about the Bionic Women incident highlighted that the reason for holding it upside down is that if you hold it the right way up and put it to your ear, the screen turns off. Which means you'll have Charlie talking into a phone that appears to be "off". So you hold it upside down and the proximity censor near the earpiece is far enough from your chin that the screen stays on and it doesn't look like Mr Sheen is talking into a dead piece of plastic.

Heads you lose, tails you lose

Seagate's US customers get refund


WD Converted 200MB ot 212MB

I remember when WD changed their units. I bought 2 WD Caviar 21200 (I might have the model number wrong) drives many years ago about a week apart. Both had identical drive geometry. The first was advertised as a 200MB drive. The second as 212MB. Same drive. That was the week they changed.

And their excuse? Because DOS CHKDSK reports capacity in millions of bytes! Which it doesn't. It reports it in bytes, with commas as thousand separators.

People can argue about MB & MiB as much as they like but the MB started out meaning 1024*1024 and got changed.

And while you know what you're getting, I have NO IDEA how much data I can store on a 4GB SD card. It may be 4*1024*1024*1024 and it should be. No other number makes sense. I know how much RAM there is in a 1GB SDRAM stick. It's 1024*1024*1024. And for good reason. Computers work in powers of two and programmers need to as well.

But marketing will always win out the day and WD probably did better advertising that drive as a 212MB than they did as a 200MB even though it was IDENTICAL hardware.

Lords debate airline liquids ban


@Liquid Bombs / Anon

If one of those went off in the cabin of my next flight I'd probably soil myself. But give me bad seafood and the same things happens. It went bang and a little white gas was given off. I doubt it would do any damage to the plane even if taped to a window. It might disfigure one person's face but if you wanted to use personal threats to terrorise a plane, break one of the wine glasses or the bottle and hold that to someone's throat instead.

Not a yank.

Reg Standards Soviet defines temperature and force

IT Angle


The obvious unit of measure for angles must surely be the IT. Where one IT of angle is the minimum required to get a story into the register.

Jackie Chan records Olympic ditty


Nice song

I was in Beijing in August for the 2007 Good Luck Beijing games - 7 sports were holding their Olympic test events. At the Beach Volleyball venue, they were playing this continuously in the public areas. I only ever recognised the "we are ready" bits. Quite catchy. Has JC re-recorded it recently or has the world just taken a long time to realise?

Dot, squiggle, plop


.tv @Jamie Kitson

While .tv was originall createdas the ccTLD for Tuvalu, that country sold it to somebody else for some insane amount of money (relative to their GDP. Something like $8000 per head of population - it's a small island). So, while it wasn't created as the Television TLD, it has effectively become that since the country that owned it,sold it.

Oz watchdog sticks to its Google-attacking guns



Actually, there's no problem selling the word "Quantas" since there is no such company or trademark. QANTAS on the other hand would be a different issue. It's an acronym. The "u after q" rule doesn't apply to non-words :-)

Apple iPhone


@Futile - SMS Problems

We found some more SMS problems. There are many messages that the iPhone just doesn't deliver (this is a hacked phone so I can't be 100% sure it's the same with an original, or that AT&T use any of the interesting SMS features). We found the following:

* It will silently drop any message that comes from a "Text" source (ie Type-Of-Number = Alphanumeric) that are used by many info providers and web-based senders. No idea why.

* It will silently drop any message with a PID value other than 0. More precisely, the "replace in handset" feature of SMS doesn't work. This is where you set the PID value (in the SMS data headers) to 0x41 to 0x47 (I think, I've only ever seen 0x41 used) and then a subsequent message with the same FROM & TO numbers and same PID value will replace that message. Carriers use it so that an SMS saying "You have 1 new voicemail message" gets replaced by a subsequent one saying "You have 2 new voicemail messages". The iPhone never delivers them. Which makes normal voicemail arrival a mystery for non-AT&T people.

* I found others it would not deliver. Basically, if it's a plain-text, vanilla SMS with nothing else fancy, it delivers it. Otherwise probably not.

* I didn't get a chance to experiment with all settings (eg priority).

California clamps down on in-car mobile use


Distraction @Charles Manning

Yes, talking is that distracting. There are numerous studies that show that talking on a phone is far more distracting than talking to somebody in the car. Basically it comes down to you shifting your concentration elsewhere. You shift your concentration (I know it happens to me, it's almost like daydreaming) to the conversation that is happening remotely. You don't do that when the person it right there.

The effect is the same whether you're using handsfree or not but the physical impediment of holding the phone makes that mode more dangerous. But not by much, I read.

Here in Australia, nobody is allowed to use a phone in their hands while in control of a motor vehicle. NB in control of a motor vehicle basically means being in the driver's seat with the engine running. Even when parked at the side of the road!!! Handsfree is still legal here. As is smoking, putting on make-up, eating breakfast, etc (except to the extent that the police have the option of using the "careless driving" or "dangerous driving" catch-alls if you happen to be putting on your make-up while eating porridge with the dog on your lap (ok, I've seen that without the make-up bit).

I suspect the same would apply to CB radio if you're having a conversation. Listening to the radio is not a problem because it's completely passive. Although sometimes, if I'm really interested in a talk-back discussion, I find myself getting too "involved" in the discussion and concentrates wanes.


Left-handeders finally unlock the closet, researchers find


Mouse & keypad - @Graham Dawson

A friend of mine spent a lot of time entering figures into Excel. He trained himself in about two days to use his mouse left handed so he could use the right for the number pad. Has never looked back.

Or buy a USB number pad :-)

Google-hating Aussie watchdog smacked by confused judge


@Joe - Sponsored Link

There probably is a case to be answered. The phrase "sponsored link" would probably not translate to "paid advertisement" or similar for many people - the people the ACCC are there to protect. And the colouring of the box is not exactly bright and is, as claimed by the ACCC, difficult to see on some displays at certain angles.

I'd doubt that was a coincidence :-)

But the ACCC tends to get overly complex with things and the court has said - your filing has turned something very simple into something incredibly complex. I agree that the Judge gets it but he probably wants to see the complaint explained in a straightforward manner.

Once they do that, it will be very interesting to see how the way Google communicates these links fits with the Trade Practices Act's definition of "misleading or deceptive" or "likely to mislead or deceive" which will be the bit of legislation the ACCC would be using here (this is probably the main difference between this and the US cases where the companies themselves have sued of copyright and trademark and other obscure reasons not to have searches of their name linked to other people). Here, it's a regulatory body saying it's potentially misleading which, for me, is a far more tenable argument (although I'm not sure which side of the debate I would fall).

Aussie bin Laden penetrates APEC security


"Security Worked"

The thing I found most amazing about the story is that the Police Minister and the Foreign Minister both hailed this as proof the security worked. What rubbish. These guys got waved through 2 checkpoints (no evidence in the news that they actually said anything to anybody at the checkpoints, they just got waved through). They only got stopped because Chas jumped out of the car dressed as Osama Bin Laden. If he hadn't, I wonder if they could have pulled right up to the Hotel. If he was wearing a suit, he might have even got in.

Photos on the news show that the hire-cars used has Australian and Canadian flags (which look very much like the $2 op-shop variety) shoved in the front grills and a sticker with a Canadian flag and some numbers and other things on the corner of the windscreen.

I'm wondering what crime they committed. If you drive up to a checkpoint and somebody opens the gate and invites you through, are you not, in some form or another, "authorised" to be there? The fallout from this is going to be fun to watch.

My favourite comment from one of the uninvolved cast members later was "please direct all questions to Today Tonight or A Current Affair".

Boffins bend space and time to measure neutron star



"Lets not forget Everests as a unit of weight (or maybe mass). And is that a metric or US cupful? Theres a whole 0.013411763 liter difference!"

I'm confused. In the US, lite is the opposite of heavy. Or it means "low in calories" (found that out the hard way. You shouldn't be allowed to call that stuff beer). So a liter difference must be the obvious of a heavier difference. Or maybe a fattening difference. Or is that some kind of US pseudo-imperial-pretend-metric unit El Reg hasn't yet catalogues? :-)

Which leaves the question: If you have a cubic decimeter of milk, and it says "Liter" on it. Is that low in calories like the beer? Or is it a reference to volume?