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* Posts by Simon Williams

62 posts • joined 10 Oct 2007

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Steve Jobs denies Judas Phone antenna problems

Simon Williams
Badgers

Two points

Surely, having a phone with an external antenna which can be gripped directly with the hand will make it more susceptible to RF attenuation than one in which the antenna is internal and comes into no direct contact. Yes, there will be some attenuation when you put you hand around any phone, but designing one with the antenna on the outside is asking for trouble, isn't it?

The other thing that puzzles me is why so many iPhone 4 customers *haven't* seen the problem. These millions of satisfied customers can't spend all their time in strong reception areas - they are *mobile* phones. Even if some customers are more sensitive to signal drop-off than others, it still suggests there might be a fault which only shows up on some examples of the iPhone 4.

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All-in-One Inkjet Printers: Best Buys

Simon Williams
Boffin

Clarification

All running cost tests use manufacturers' original cartridges at RRP. All printers tested have drivers for OS X, as well as Windows. None of these £150 devices has an internal drive.

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MSI Wind U160

Simon Williams
Boffin

Just saying

This is a review of a Windows-based netbook and is covered as such. If it was a Linux-based machine, it would be reviewed as one. It wasn't tested with Live Linux, but then it wasn't tested with any software, other than PCMark, with which it wasn't supplied.

As regards it not being a netbook, the spec of netbooks has moved on. Yes, they were once cheap and cheerful, but the generally-accepted spec is now for a physically small notebook, with low-power mobile CPU, generally sub-HD screen and no optical drive. Perhaps there's room for a sub-netbook category.

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BT expands fibre rollout

Simon Williams

Possible typo

'The firm has previously claimed the economics of faster broadband stack up for the remaining third of the country, which will comprise more sparsely populated regions'. Do you really mean this, or should there be a 'don't' between 'broadband' and 'stack'? If not, it really *is* a big change in BT's thinking.

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Guy Kewney, pioneer, guru, friend - RIP

Simon Williams

Giving journalists a good name

Guy's PCW columns were a key reason I took up technology journalism as a career. I met him later on several occasions, including a 'jolly' to Copenhagen, which was all the more entertaining, thanks to his insights and good humour. I was very sad to hear of his illness last year and much sadder to hear of his death, though I'd been following his brave blog. Thanks for everything Guy.

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UK e-car trials kick off with mass motor handover

Simon Williams
Boffin

Doom-mongers

Lithium as used in auto batteries is fully recyclable at the end of the battery's life. There may need to be investment in recycling, along with the power charger infrastructure, but lack of Lithium needn't be a killer. In 10 years, battery technology is likely to have moved on, anyway.

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HP OfficeJet 6500 Wireless all-in-one inkjet

Simon Williams
Boffin

@Chris Cartledge

But surely you turn your machines off overnight, as we've all been advised to do to save electricity and the planet? That reduces standby costs by a third and brings them down to £4.67 per year. With the cost of just one set of cartridges being £40, electricity costs are going to be swamped.

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US carriers are taking the beep

Simon Williams
Badgers

'Actively exploring how to shorten voicemail...'

I'm no Cook or Shackleton, but I would have thought any voicemail provider ought to know its system well enough not to have to actively explore how to shorten voicemail. Just removing the unwanted adverts would do it. And how would you explore in any way other than actively?

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El Reg to launch space paper plane

Simon Williams
Boffin

+1 for The Black Vulture

...after all, it is the Reg logo.

Can see unfortunate end for paper plane if it gets caught in the rain on its decent. Some kind of proofing/doping coating would be a must.

Launch from a plane isn't at all similar to launch from a balloon -- in fact, I'm not at all sure launch of a paper plane from a plane is practical. How about trials from a hot air balloon? Or another weather balloon?

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Brother P-Touch 2100 label printer

Simon Williams
Boffin

Tape wastage

The reason I made the wastage comment is that the Dymo LabelWriter Duo, for example, doesn't waste tape in the same way. OK, it's a label printer, rather than a standalone label-maker, but it uses very similar technology. All it really needs to avoid the wastage is some way to wind the tape back, so the print head lines up with start of each label -- not too hard to achieve, I wouldn't have thought. I reckon 12% wastage on an average length of label is quite high.

Steve, I'll give you exclamation mark, but it still can't do (, ), ", _, +, = or @ from the keyboard, only by selection from a menu. Some symbols are more essential than others for labels, or course.

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Barnes & Noble chases Amazon with ebook second coming

Simon Williams

FYI

Plastic Logic is hardly 'a cross-Atlantic startup'. It's a spin-off of the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, has been around for over five years and is one of the world leaders in OLED technology R&D.

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NASA orbiter returns first shots of Apollo moon sites

Simon Williams
FAIL

For lack of a Dymo labeller

According to an America Institute of Physics story at http://www.aip.org/isns/reports/2009/090717_apollo2.html, the camera signals were compressed at the Honeysuckle Creek tracking facility near Canberra, Australia and bounced a couple of times via satellite to the US for TV broadcast. Tapes (45 reels) made of these signals in Canberra were sent for archival to the National Records Center and the tapes were reused some while later - not much of a records centre, if the tapes get wiped. It all smacks of incredibly short-term thinking, shoddy security and pathetic logistics. I'm far more attracted to the 'buffoon-level-stupidity' theory than conspiracy. Didn't anybody think to label the recordings 'First Moon Landing - Historic Event - High Quality Recording - DO NOT ERASE!'

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Broadband tax of £6 per year to fund rural fibre rollout

Simon Williams
Thumb Up

Subsidies eh?

Having subsidised those bonus-stealing, expense-stuffed, twin-home city dwellers with their calf-skin pouched iPhones tucked into the gloove boxes of their Lexus GSes for the last 10 years, the possibility of getting a portion of it back to my 480Kbps-on-a-good-day, no-mobile-coverage hovel just three miles from the main Exeter to Plymouth trunk route fills me with glee. Stuff you all.

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Israel to test ducted-fan robot air jeep 'within two months'

Simon Williams

re Hmm

@AC 14:54 What, vulnerable to a Role Playing Game? Which one, and will it down a helicopter, too?

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Clickfree Traveler SSD

Simon Williams
Boffin

Points missed/ignored

The quality of memory in an SSD is much higher and has a greater write-cycle tolerance than a USB drive (writing is balanced across the whole memory in the SSD, for a start). Where would the market for SSDs have come from, otherwise? A USB drive is no replacement for an SSD in this application.

@Hayden Clark I think you'll find most PCs DO have autorun enabled. If they don't it's a one-off change before you start using something like the Clickfree.

@Tony Barnes I agree. Thought it might be the USB 2 interface which was bottle-necking it, but it should bottle-neck the HD version as much. Queried it with the manufacturer, but they have no test results to confirm or refute ours. At least, none they were prepared to share.

I think the implementation of the SSD version is flawed, particularly on speed, but making back-up REALLY simple is a *very good* idea. The comment about using xCopy /s /d highlights where most Reg Hardware readers come from. Fine if you know that a) Windows has a command prompt, b) how you get at it, c) That MSDOS provides a library of commands they used to use to control their computers 20 years ago and d) that those commands have a series of non-intuitive, single-character switches you can attach to modify the actions of the commands.

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Lexmark T650DN mono workgroup laser printer

Simon Williams
Boffin

@JC Small is Beautiful

So, we should all drive buses 'cos there's more room for the engines, should we? Every office has space constraints and, particularly if a printer is to be positioned on a desk, the space it takes up is an important consideration.

Engineering something small may put more contraint on the designer, but there's no intrinsic reason why a smaller printer should be less reliable. The reliability indexes for all the major laser manufacturers are very similar, so companies that are building smaller machines aren't suffering from service-life issues.

As for a bigger printer keeping the paper flatter, that's hogwash. The designed temperature and pressure used in the fuser is by far the biggest factor in paper curl. Whether a machine uses a 'U'-shaped or 'S'-shaped paper path governs the tighness of turns in the paper path much more than the size of the case.

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Pig plague and Twitter: The terrifying truth

Simon Williams

Lets blame the tool

Before we all get hyped up to lynching Twitter, shouldn't we just look at are own hysteria. It's not 'Twitter doing this' and 'Twitter doing that', it's the people that use it as a communication medium who are doing it. Sure Twitter makes it easy because you don't need to invest much time and energy creating a Tweet but, as far as I'm aware, there's very little editorial content from Twitter itself.

People have always like to fire off half-cocked (not least in comments on this very site) and embellish half-truths before passing them on. Twitter just makes this easier.

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Kyocera Mita FS-2020D

Simon Williams
Boffin

@Dave

Not sure what you mean by a common standard. The cartridge is an integral part of a printer's mechanism, so if you're advocating a single cartridge which can fit a number of different models from different makers, you're crying in the wind. The print engine is what differentiates between makes and that design freedom is heavily guarded by manufacturers.

There's often some commonality between models in a single manufacturer's range, though, and that was why we picked out the fact that Kyocera Mita was deliberately making them different, to make it harder for counterfeiters.

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GM, Segway to unveil iPhone-driven wheelchair e-car

Simon Williams
Boffin

Two wheels bad, four wheels good

I'm pro electric vehicles for all kinds of reasons, and look forward to the day when somebody markets an affordable one, but this has to be the most rediculous contraption yet proposed. Why on earth go for self-balancing, when with the addition of a decent-sized front or rear wheel -- or even a pair of them -- you could cut the cost (considerably), dispense with the trolley wheels at front and back and design something that doesn't look like a Flintstones reject. The only excuse would be if it fitted with urban bylaws allowing it to travel places other leccy vehicles can't reach.

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Canon i-Sensys LBP3100

Simon Williams
Boffin

Duplex would be nice, but...

You're not going to find a current duplex laser for £75. At the moment, it *is* to much to ask for.

There's a CUPS (Common UNIX Printing System) environment driver available as a download, with Windows and Mac OSX support out of the box.

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North East, Nissan to explore e-car promo plan

Simon Williams

Regional translation

For any West-Country readers, that's equivalent to a 'broggle in the eye with a thatch-peg'.

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Enter if ye dare the Comment Dungeon

Simon Williams
Thumb Up

Re: Re: Why...

In the words of Churchill (bulldog, not ex PM) 'Oh, yes'.

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BBC botnet 'public interest' defence rubbished by top IT lawyer

Simon Williams
Thumb Down

@James Hedley

No it's not a lazy analogy -- you're again confusing reason and method. The fact that 'everyone knows' your home could be broken into is completely irrelevant. Like so many other comments, bringing botnets to the attention of the public is the *reason* for the Click project. It's the method that's being criticised.

Once again, there are plenty of ways to highlight the problem which don't involve paying money to Russian cybercrooks or making use of victim's PCs without their permission. The analogy of coming into your home -- even if it isn't secure -- and say, watching a couple of DVDs on your home cinema, before leaving you a note suggesting you fit better locks, is a very good one. It's still tresspass at the very least. In Click's case its most likely infringing the CMA.

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iPhone chip designer trumpets multi-core GPUs

Simon Williams
Paris Hilton

Hert-ford-shire

Please, can we at least pretend you're writing primarily for a UK audience. We know where Hertfordshire is. There's only one, so very little scope for confusion.

Paris, 'cos there are at least 19 places named after her in the US of A alone. They are named after her, surely?

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Man turns finger into storage

Simon Williams
Thumb Up

Life imitates Trek

Everything from Star Trek gets here eventually -- usually sooner than you expect. Didn't Data have a lot of controls and probably positronic storage, under a fingernail?

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Ex-Star Wars boffins build mosquito-blasting raygun

Simon Williams
Boffin

This is one small step...

Nobody has yet mentioned the sentence 'Placed across the room from an empty fishtank filled with mosquitoes, the machine reaps a deadly harvest', so I will. The words 'fish', 'barrel' and 'shoot' spring to mind. There's a heck of a difference between picking off mossies in an otherwise empty, transparent container and picking them out from a typical domestic background in 3D, while avoiding blinding human/canine/feline/piscine occupants. And, if you've got all the mossies in a fish tank, why not just fit one of those high-voltage, UV zappers. Still, I guess it's a start.

PS (Pedante Scriptum) Can any vessel 'filled with mosquitoes' be described as 'empty' ?

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Skinny, curvy Asus Eee inspired by MacBook Air

Simon Williams
Happy

Picture request

I notice this Asus model is called the Seashell. You don't have a picture of a typical Asus user, looking something like a mermaid, who would be the ideal candidate for such an inspirationally-named netbook, do you? Perhaps in your archive?

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BBC zombie caper slammed by security pros

Simon Williams
Boffin

Another analogy

It's hard to believe the 'It's all right because nobody was hurt' and the 'they should be jolly grateful to know about it' arguments used by so many readers.

If a BBC guy paid a buglar to enter your house (let's say carefully, without jemmying a door or smashing a window) and leave a note on your kitchen table saying you should get better locks and an alarm fitted, I would suggest that the majority of viewers ( probably most Reg readers) to get such a note would feel violated rather than grateful and that the BBC had broken the law. I know I would.

If, on the other hand, the BBC had paid said buglar to assess the security of each house and send them a letter detailing the findings for their particular house, I imagine most *would* then be grateful and probably respect the Beeb more.

The ends doesn't justify the means and anybody breaking into somebody else's PC deserves to fall foul of the CMA. There are ways of doing what Click has done without buying a Botnet.

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Kodak ESP 7 all-in-one inkjet printer

Simon Williams
Boffin

@Jacqui

You're presumably using third-party inks? I can't see you getting an A4 photo print from an iP1500 with Canon inks for 5.5p -- more like four times that. For a reasonably comparison, you have to use manufacturers inks throughout.

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Enormous pain-ray patio heater towers erected in California

Simon Williams
Thumb Down

Orange and Lemons

What's this with greenhouses and poly-tunnels? We're talking fruit trees here, not raspberries. Do keep up.

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Obama chopper plans leaked on file-sharing nets

Simon Williams
Black Helicopters

@ John Mackenzie

That's not a front view, unless Marine One has a very idiosyncratic design. More like an underview.

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NASA delays Kepler launch for rocket checks

Simon Williams
Go

@Anonymous Coward

It's quite amazing how Reg readers can invent 'assertions' in pieces. The only two places that discuss Kepler's mission say:

'The Kepler telescope, expected by many to discover evidence of habitable worlds orbiting other stars...'

Note the word 'habitable', not 'inhabited'. In other words worlds where life as we know it *could* exist.

'At least one serious boffin in America is sure that many such potentially-habitable worlds will be discovered by Kepler, and thus that the existence of life elsewhere in the universe - even if only basic, microbe-level life - is a racing cert. Heavyweight British boffins have also backed this view'.

So the American boffin is sure Kepler will discover worlds that are potentially habitable, again not necessarily inhabited. 'The existence of life is a racing cert', in other words quite likely. How many people have lost substantial amounts of money on 'racing certs'? There's no assertion in this piece that there *must* be life elsewhere.

All science is based on guesswork -- scientists call them hypotheses. They are tested against the facts to see if they're good guesses or bad guesses. The more evidence that supports them, the more likely the guesses are to be correct and the closer they become to scientific 'fact'.

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Lexmark E260DN networked mono laser printer

Simon Williams
Boffin

@Anonymous Coward

A couple of points on your comment. The fact that you and Anthony have experienced excessive toner use on two Lexmark printers (which sound, from your descriptions, as if they may well be using the same colour engine) doesn't mean you can extrapolate to other machines in the range and to mono lasers, such as the one reviewed here. Secondly, to lay it at Lexmark's door, you'd need to show that other makes of printer don't show similar extravagant use printing the same document set. It could be some other factor which is causing this excessive usage.

I have no particularly love of Lexmark, but have used a mono laser printer of theirs along with others from Brother, HP and Xerox, printing a variety of different document types, for over 10 years without any signs of undue toner use. I'm just one customer, as are you. If this kind of toner use were commonplace, I'd expect knowledge of it to have filtered through the customer base very quickly.

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Simon Williams
Boffin

@ Everybody

The page yields quoted by Lexmark are from tests run to ISO/IEC 19752, the international standard for page yield tests of laser printers and multifunctions. It uses a standard set of page images, which may not match yours for coverage. This is why you may get fewer pages than the spec sheet suggests. However, if every manufacturer quotes figures produced from the same test regime, they should all be 'off' by the same amount. Not really one you can level at Lexmark, alone.

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Hitler ordered Luftwaffe to spare Blackpool

Simon Williams

Seaside/Seig Heil... masterful

What an excellent strap line. Well done Lester.

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Hackintosh maker lands Apple punch

Simon Williams
Unhappy

Just don't bet

'...it's never wise to bet on something over which outcome you have zero influence...'. So no horses, dogs, roulette, lottery, football pools etc etc, then.

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Brother MFC-5890CN inkjet all-in-one A3 printer

Simon Williams
Thumb Up

@ AJ Stiles

I think you're over-exaggerating your case. Modern inkjet printers have to be left a good deal longer than a week before their heads start to dry -- in the order of months. Most printers used in a business environment will be used too frequently to suffer many extra cleaning cycles and these are more prevalent, anyway, in piezo print heads, like Epson's, than in thermal ones, like Brother's. Likewise, the average office never gets damp enough to make inkjet ink run. Even my three-hundred year old Devon (where it rains for six days out of seven) farmhouse isn't damp enough to do it.

Sure you can buy a colour laser, but if your printing involves photo images at all, a laser won't do them justice -- though they are getting closer and cheaper.

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Kyocera Mita FS-C5200DN colour laser printer

Simon Williams
Boffin

Straight from the spec sheet

Power consumption -- Kyocera figures -- 420W when printing, 70W standby, 7W power save. Which is pretty good for this class of colour laser.

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UK to rely on mobile operators for universal broadband

Simon Williams
Unhappy

Yokels don't need no smeggin' broadband

So what he's saying is 'We'll provide 2Mbps to the whole country, except where it's tricky to do it or it'll cost a bit.' That's why, three miles from the main A38 with a fibre channel running at god knows what speed down its side, I have to consider myself lucky to get 0.6Mbps... and still have to pay the same as people in Exeter and Plymouth for 4Mbps or 8Mbps. And with no mobile signal in my house (I have to stand out in the road to get even a couple of bars), I'm not holding my breath for a mobile broadband solution.

There are words for this kind of double-standard and they have to do with what the male cattle do in the fields round here.

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Fake plane death businessman left SOS bullet-point list

Simon Williams

Bleeding hands on the roof of the car, now!

If he'd tried to commit suicide by cutting his wrists, wasn't it unnecessarily cruel to cuff him, however dimwitted the fake plane crash might have been?

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Take a hammer to your hard drive, shrieks Which?

Simon Williams
Boffin

Drives, you mad?

'Both Reg readers and experts...'

Surely there are more than two readers of the Register.

'...the BBC's decision to uncritically report on its findings, alongside a how to box-out.'

A How-To boxout? - detailing the weight of hammer to use, how high to lift your arm, which end to hold and who to get to hold the drive, no doubt.

Silly story on an inadequate testing regime (not regimen, BTW).

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Vogue model sues Google over 'defamatory' blog

Simon Williams

Horsing about

Given the caption to the photo at the top of the item, isn't the term 'clotheshorsing' a little unfortunate, or does it imply the opinion of the writer on the case?

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Council to crack down on Cracknuts Lane

Simon Williams
Alien

Nothing like rude street names to get Reg commentators going

The name I liked (probably been expunged now) comes from somewhere in Derbyshire, I think -- Peniston Rise. I liked the way the second part of the name was included in the smut and have the obvious photo of friends standing in front of the 'ton'.

Alien, since s/he/it doesn't seem to get much of an airing.

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Don't shout at your disk drives, warns Sun engineer

Simon Williams
Unhappy

It's pickin' up bad vibrations

Is anybody concerned that this guy works every day in an environment this noisy without any form of hearing protection. He could probably lower the latency of the drives still further IF THERE WASN'T SO MUCH BLOODY NOISE IN THE LAB IN THE FIRST PLACE.

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MSI mobo ditches Bios for EFI

Simon Williams
Stop

Beware of the Dark Side

This seems a very positive reading of what EFI sets out to do. Surely of similar importance (but not nearly as positive) is the fact that it effectively shuts out the user. The kind of customisation available in the BIOS, without ever booting an operating system can be sealed off in EFI, so you can *only* boot into the OS your PC supplier wants you too. Yet again, we end up losing control of our own PCs and hand it instead to Wintel and their computer-building partners.

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Russian's emoticon trade mark won't wash with EU

Simon Williams
Happy

And what trade does ;-) represent, exactly?

Doesn't the concept of 'prior art' apply to trade marks as it does to patents? In other words, the fact that millions of people have been freely using this sequence of characters for years before the Crazy Rusky tried to grab it should have prevented the trade mark being granted in the frist place...or do the characters not exist on a Cyrillic keyboard?

Smiley face, so sue me.

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Hitler had one ball: Official

Simon Williams

That's not what they sang at school

No,no,no, the song goes:

Hitler has only got one ball.

Göring's got two, but very small.

Himmler's are very sim'lar

But poor old Goebbels has no balls at all.

I particularly like the Himmler/sim'lar rhyme

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What's lurking in your data centre?

Simon Williams
Thumb Down

What Works for you

Not a Data Centre tale, but I recently had a client come to me to upgrade from desktop to laptop, as her desktop had finally given up the ghost. I advised her on a suitable laptop and undertook to get all her data across, to run under OpenOffice 3. All went well, until it came to her word processor documents, which turned out to be wps files from Works for Windows 3, circa 1995. She had never needed to upgrade before, because the kit she had covered all her needs. Isn't that the way it should be? Change only when what you have doesn't do the job, or could be done more quickly/simply/cheaply?

BTW, converting Works 3 wp files to doc or rtf is not an easy thing, anymore, with very few converters going back before Works 6 (including current MS offerings). In case anybody else has the same problem, you can massage them through Ability Office -- as I eventually discovered.

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Hubble fired up and ready for action

Simon Williams

Obviously a new definition of the term 'redundant'

Why is this secondary control system termed a 'redundant Side B' system, when to all intends and purposes, it's a 'backup Side B' system. It's certainly not redundant, as without it the Hubble itself would be. Respect for the Side B system.

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BMW unwraps electric Mini

Simon Williams
Thumb Down

@Peter Clarkson

Yahoo Answers says 'the distance between the centres of Birmingham and London is almost 119 miles (measuring from Chamberlain Square in Birmingham to Charing Cross in London)'. So quite how an electric car with a range of 150 miles is going to make the return trip on a single charge escapes me.

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