* Posts by Christopher A Light

25 posts • joined 18 Oct 2007

Slash your way inside Apple's Mac Mini

Christopher A Light
Boffin

Back when I were a lad...

Remember the ORIGINAL Mac?

That was WAY easier to dismantle. All you needed was nerves of steel, a 12" steel rule, and...

Er, maybe those with a nervous disposition should stop reading....

A 4lb club hammer.

Start with the case standing normally. Place one long edge of the ruler in the groove on the top of the case between the font and back case components, pressing against the back case, at roughly 45 degrees.

Smack the other edge of the ruler briskly with the hammer. Repeat, if necessary (IE. if its a 'virgin' case) each side, then back to the top. Never had to 'ease' the case this way more than four times - previously opened cases often came open after the first blow...

Seriously. It worked. Never broke one doing it either. Bloody dangerous things to work inside though. Made those 'toxic waste' iMacs look like child's play!

Ah! Them were the days!

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World's fastest production car to gain electric twin

Christopher A Light
Alert

Here we go again....

MORE Electric Car bollocks...

Am I the only one around here who's getting fed up with it?

These Electric Con-men have set up on gullible venture capital and now the VC tossers need some sort of return on their 'investment' - personally I'd sooner invest in a chocolate kettle manufacturer than an Electric Con-man - all these guys can think to do now is scam a bit more cash by making wildly improbable claims. Before they disappear.

Want to lay money on any of these 'hi-performance, quick recharge' BS artists being in 'business' in a couple of years? Anyone? Surely someone...?

Oh ye of little faith!

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German engineers punt 'open source' OLED-clad car

Christopher A Light
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Another no hoper

90 miles?

When the batteries are brand new.

Than hours to recharge.

And an absolute fortune to replace when shagged.

Why do these guys keep on doing this?

There's only one way to go - hydrogen fuel cell.

So - WHY keep attempting to flog a technology that simply isn't up to the requirements of real world users? Do these guys get some sort of subsidy? Tax breaks?

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Nokia N96 16GB smartphone

Christopher A Light
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Not a helpful review.

I got lumbered with one of these recently.

Poor battery life.

Unstable - lost count of how many times I had to remove the battery!

Awful keypad.

Too big and heavy.

Screen and lens way too vulnerable for my taste.

EVERY time I used it to access a given wi-fi it asked for the wi-fi system password??? (even Windoze can handle THAT automatically!)

Lock/unlock for no good reason whenever it feels like it.

I'm not a regular Nokia user, though I have used and liked the ones I've used previously.

I gave it to a friend who is a Nokia fan - they were horrified.

It seems to me, and them, that Nokia have abandoned a reasonably user-friendly interface and replaced it with a Geekoid nightmare. Attempting to use this phone you get the distinct impression you are fighting the system!

A phone is a phone is a phone. It probably doesn't need all the gimmicks and gizmos - which other manufacturers do rather better - but if you must have an 'all singing, all dancing' multimedia gadget that also happens to make phone calls, look elsewhere.

Oh, and, did I mention? The battery life is crap.

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Motorola TLKR T7 two-way radio

Christopher A Light

Roger?

Sorry, we don't have Rogering here.

We do have the occasional Woger though... From time to time. When the mood strikes.

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Android-based T-Mobile G1 pics leaked

Christopher A Light

Hmmmm

Should the Google phone be capable of the following:

Making PHONE CALLS (a revolutionary idea, I know)

WiFi

Bluetooth

A day's normal usage without recharge (3 on standby)

Email

Web browsing

Selling at a reasonable price

I might be interested - though a 'greasy screen touch control interface' is a bit of a turn off.

Mobile phones are about UTILITY, as in the 'pick it up, dial, talk' variety. Not DESIGN, as in the 'Oooooh! Shiny! Must have regardless of the cost' JesusPhone variety.

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British boffins perfect process to make any item '100% waterproof'

Christopher A Light

I see...

And what about Capillary action?

That's how water penetrates most materials. And if the treatment prevents that, how exactly does it 'breathe'?

I suspect this product only works on certain materials, because to 'breathe' it has to be able to allow water vapour to pass, but not water droplets - that's how Goretex works, it's actually a PTFE membrane full of holes. Holes too small to admit water droplets, but large enough to pass water vapour.

I'll believe this stuff when I see it applied to a piece of woven Cordura which, which then becomes totally waterproof...

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Apple takes axe to MacBook Air SSD price

Christopher A Light
Happy

@ Anonymous Coward (@ Chris A Light)

Nothing like seeing an Anonymous Coward fall flat on their face on a Friday afternoon!

As it happens, I'm typing this, as I typed the original, on my Mac. A 24" Intel iMac as it happens...

So, how come if I think Apple products are designed largely with fashion victims in mind? Well, horses for courses. I much prefer the user interface of OSX - now it's out of Beta anyway - and a few apps only run on X.

I am aware that you can get X (well Leper, Apple's Vista) to run on a PC, but I prefer to keep my PCs for serious stuff that requires raw processing power and decent graphics hardware, something even MacPros (which I'm very familiar with) don't seem to posses.

However, anyone with any sense of discrimination who runs and works on Macs knows very well that Macs are overpriced, rather poor value for money and full of 'ooooh! shiny!' design compromises that are solely designed to appeal to... fashion victims.

Though some of us do run them because of software requirements and the rather nice pre-Leper user interface.

So, that's why I wrote that little bit of satire. Sorry it went right past you, only pausing to trigger your latent Mac-fanboi tendencies :-)

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Christopher A Light
Alert

I See

Took an axe to the PRICE did they?

Pity. For a moment there I thought you said 'the product'...

Even worse, Apple constantly slashing prices lately is going to have two inevitable results - the fashion victims will stop buying the products because, instead of being expensive and thus desirable they will have become cheap and therefor crap.

Faced with decreasing sales Apple will, in time, reach the point where they'll be paying people to take them away.

An environmental disaster of epic proportions will then ensue as fashion victims then abandon their Apple jewelery, unable to risk being confused with un-trendy poor people.

The ultimate outcome will be Stevie 'boy-wonder' Jobs being arrested on charges of environmental terrorism for being directly responsible for world wide pollution caused by the mass dumping of Apple products.

_______________________________

Oh hell, it IS Friday guys...

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'HD TV gas' 17,000 times worse for planet than CO2, claims boffin

Christopher A Light

Mine's smaller than yours...

Bugger the dodgy chemicals, suspect maths and all...

MY 37" LG manages 130w and the heat emission is FAR lower than my previous Pansonic 28" CRT (which you could burn pizzas on, never mind keep them warm).

Seems to me that there are HD LCDs out there, and HD space heaters...

Of course, if you really want to bugger the environment, have to install AirCon, and generally be an enviro-vandal... there's always a Plasma screen :-)

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Microsoft turns up volume with new licensing agreement

Christopher A Light
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Gates - Rat leaves sinking ship

No, really. All I'm hearing lately is M$ wringing every last cent out of everything they can - ramming software people aren't interested in down their throats - marketing more and more of what is, even by M$ standards, thoroughly excessive bloatware - finding new and inventive ways of increasing customers ongoing costs...

The recent 'toughening up' of WGA, to the point where customers are having their perfectly genuine XP (and Vista) installs de-activated for no discernable reason...

It doesn't look good, does it?

Ah well. M$ won't be the first software market leader to crash and burn, probably not the last either. But if the last person out of the door pushes the big red button on software activation, I can see them being the most (in)famous!

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Dell offers 'Windows Vista Bonus' to frightened customers

Christopher A Light
Gates Horns

SLIGHTLY off topic...

My genuine bought and paid for XP Pro decided to deactivate on boot the other day. I've heard that the latest version of M$ Genuine 'Advantage' has tightened up somewhat - but this is bloody ridiculous.

While arguing with M$ about this outrage, with a '24 BUSINESS hour' response time, I am, to use a technical term, buggered!

Try and hunt down a new OEM XP Pro? Why should I? 'Upgrade' to Vista? I'd rather install Ubuntu (well, I tried that anyway, what garbage!). Luckily I have more than one computer - unluckily the one Micro$oft have just screwed for me is my prime PC...

I'm frankly amazed at the depths M$ will descend to to prevent people using a product they have paid for and want to use, while attempting to ram a product very few people actually want to use down everyone's throats!

It's rather interesting that all this is going on while Gates is slithering out of the hot seat too, isn't it?

Now, while I'm waiting, I'm sure I've got an old 2K install disk kicking around somewhere...

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Komplett closes retail ops across Europe

Christopher A Light

Oh really?

OK, s bunch of you loved them to bits.

I bought from them twice. Twice I got faulty goods, twice I got (very) delayed delivery. The delivery was entirely DHLs fault, probably the worst courier firm I know of. But the faulty goods really put me off, bad luck it may have been, but after twice in a row I wasn't inclined to go through the resultant delay a third time.

Komplett aren't the only firm I've had poor experiences with and decided to avoid in future though...

Overclockers for me these days. Fast, reliable, good deals and, when you do get the odd DOA, well, they sort it out cheerfully and commendably quickly.

I for one won't be missing Komplett.

What these firms seem to fail to understand is that what most of us want is:

• An easy to use, well designed shop

• Accurately described items

• Accurate stock level indication

• Goods delivered promptly and in working order

• Reasonable prices (cheap is NOT always the priority - not when you need something NOW

• A simple but secure payment system

• Prompt delivery by a reliable courier service at a reasonable price

If they fail to tick the boxes, well, there are plenty of others to check out...

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Christopher A Light

Curates Egg

OK, s bunch of you loved them to bits.

I bought from them twice. Twice I got faulty goods, twice I got (very) delayed delivery. The delivery was entirely DHLs fault, probably the worst courier firm I know of. But the faulty goods really put me off, bad luck it may have been, but after twice in a row I wasn't inclined to go through the resultant delay a third time.

Komplett aren't the only firm I've had poor experiences with and decided to avoid in future though...

Overclockers for me these days. Fast, reliable, good deals and, when you do get the odd DOA, well, they sort it out cheerfully and commendably quickly.

I for one won't be missing Komplett.

What these firms seem to fail to understand is that what most of us want is:

• An easy to use, well designed shop

• Accurately described items

• Accurate stock level indication

• Goods delivered promptly and in working order

• Reasonable prices (cheap is NOT always the priority - not when you need something NOW

• A simple but secure payment system

• Prompt delivery by a reliable courier service at a reasonable price

If they fail to tick the boxes, well, there are plenty of others to check out...

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Apple's Snow Leopard to cut the bloat from Mac OS X

Christopher A Light

This looks like...

...Leopard SP1 to me.

Me, who just discovered that Time Machine broke about two weeks ago - with no warning to that effect. Now what good is an automated 'backup system' that quits and doesn't actually TELL you it's not working?

So, I have a 'backup system' that contains some 370 Gb of data that I can't access. Luckily I discovered this before this wretched excuse of an OS fell over completely.

Bad news is that, because I have the latest Desktop Pro (now THERE'S a laugh!), I can't backgrade to Tiger. That at least 'worked', to quote Stevie 'Boy Wonder' Jobs, and didn't pretend to have an automated backup system.

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Nvidia drivers named as lead Vista crash cause in 2007

Christopher A Light
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M$ - insecure certificate checking? Or simply grabbing the cash?

What I'd really like to know is: how many of the drivers responsible for the crashes in question were ones that DIDN'T throw up the 'This software isn't signed by Microsoft - continue (Y/N)?' dialogue on install?

Because my recent unhappy experiences with both Vista and XP64 lead me to believe that there are a lot of drivers (latest versions, downloaded from the manufacturers websites) which install happily, with no indication that the driver ISN'T M$ Certificated, which either don't work (Huh? But I've installed the RAID driver - how come no RAID?), or render system in question unstable - or better still, slow it unacceptably?

So, if the software isn't certified, why doesn't a warning appear?

And if it IS certificated, why doesn't it function correctly?

What exactly is going on here? Are manufacturers managing to disable the 'unsigned' warning built into the OS? Or are M$ simply taking the money for 'testing' the software and rubber-stamping the certification?

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Keyboard PC design recalls Amiga era

Christopher A Light
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Retro! (I.E. - Backward)

It's OK - the extra for WiFi seems excessive.

However, the main problem I can see in that enclosure is cooling. Those tiny 'chipset' (40mm) fans they are using tend to be both noisy and have a short service life. There's a fair amount of heat generating hardware in there and fan performance degradation and/or failure may turn out to be a problem...

And why do I see a <spit> trackpad? This is a desktop machine, why lumber it with the most wretchedly nasty HID the computer industry has yet invented?

Oh, and seeing it's extremely unlikely, to say the least, there's a PSU in there - how big is 'the brick'?

Finally - the PRICE. I note a fully speced top of the range version costs out at $1264... Say... £1299 from any UK distributor (without a monitor BTW). This is not by any stretch of the imagination a mass market domestic machine, is it?

Interesting machine - niche market only though I feel.

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Vista SP1 downloaders bite back

Christopher A Light

The more things change...

I mentioned 'backgrading' from Vista to XP recently - this makes it sound like the right decision.

The 95-ME-Vista comparison is unavoidable, Micro$loth hardly have a stellar rep where introducing 'new' OS' is concerned, but then neither do Apple if you think back...

Consider, if you can remember this far back:

OS7 was a crashy disaster which caused many to 'backgrade' to OS6 for a while - but it did mature into 7.6 which was a fairly nice system.

Both OS 8 and 9 were slightly cranky from the start, but swiftly improved.

OSX was pretty much an alpha release, which many, including me, were forced to 'backgrade' to 9, despite the inherent difficulties in doing so, but has now matured into an OS that I'd love to be able to run on 'PC' hardware (yes, I know what's in my Desktop Pro thanks, but you can't run X on a PC - yet). But the fact remains that the first reliably usable X was 10.2, 10 was an alpha and 10.1 at best a beta...

Micro$loth seem to have a worse problem, in that they have a nasty habit of releasing systems that have serious fundamental issues which the simply can't fix - viz 95/ME, and Vista is looking worse all the time.

Still, it's worth remembering that the original XP was pretty nasty. And in fact didn't become what it is today until SP2 - how many years after release? Talk to people who had to 'backgrade' to W2K, twice, before they felt happy using XP...

The really worrying thing, well, it would worry me if I were on the board of Micro$loth - and it probably causes the Apple dictatorship great amusement too - is that, in 2008, with the world awash with 64 bit PC hardware, Micro$loth is still unable to field a workable 64 bit OS.

I've now tried both XP 64 and Vista 64 and neither has anything like proper 64 bit support. Yes, the third party drivers are there - apparently, but largely don't work!

I've tried XP64. The supplied motherboard drivers didn't work. Neither did the latest versions from Asus, despite being clearly marked XP/Vista 64 compatible. Same with WiFi adapters. Same with audio drivers.

Yet none of the driver installers came up with a 'not Micro$loth signed' warning on installation - so, Micro$loth are clearly signing off drivers for 64 bit use which don't actually work!

Same story with Vista 64... had to 'backgrade' to Vista 32, then again to XP.

Still, give Micro$loth a couple of years and they MAY get a working version of Vista out...

But the move to 64 bit really does seem to be giving them problems. Which I suppose is partially explained by the wide range of hardware/drivers required. The issue there seems to be that Micro$loth are too willing to sign off third party drivers which simply don't work acceptably.

Yes, Apple cleared that hurdle with much less problem - but then they DO control the hardware platform. They have also taken the step of providing their own drivers for a lot of third party peripherals built into the OS, which has helped a lot.

Micro$loth might do better to take a few leaves from Apple's book here - forget attempting to get close to Apple's human interface (which they haven't succeeded in yet anyway) and concentrate on emulating Apple's handling of the move to 64 bit.

Or better still. Treat Vista like ME. Forget it and start thinking of getting XP 64 up to speed, by including an extensive driver library that works so they have a usable 64 bit OS, maybe do XP 64 SP3, then start again with the proverbial clean sheet on a new OS. Possibly based on something like, um, Linux?

I know it's an old chestnut - but aren't you glad that neither Micro$loth, nor Apple for that matter, manufacture, say, cars? Or aircraft?

Welcome to the wonderful world of OS software releases! :-)

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US-Iranian naval clash: Radio trolls probably to blame

Christopher A Light

Nothing new, situation remains the same

A point to remember is that, during the 'Cold War', it was very common for Warsaw Pact 'fishing boats', trawlers, frequently more than one, festooned with masses of comms and radar antennae, far more than any Western trawler would ever carry, to play chicken with NATO vessels, especially during NATO combined manoeuvres.

Interestingly there was rarely, if ever, any response to hailing or other attempted communication. But you might put that down to differences in national temperament.

In addition submarine crews were frequently subject to cat and mouse manoeuvres by Warsaw Pact subs and surface vessels - all this in international waters BTW.

The whole object in these incidents was to study NATO response in emergency situations and gather ELINT data for analysis.

Did NATO behave similarly? Well, yes, on occasion, though rather more subtly.

Then of course there were the Warsaw Pact aircraft that used to skim the borders of Western airspace, not so much as a sabre rattling exercise as to gather data on response times, ground control comms, etc.

It's interesting to note that the Russians have, to a somewhat limited extent, recently resumed that practice under our friend Putin's direct orders...

Whatever... this sort of thing has been common in the past, so it's no real surprise to see it happening now between the Americans and Iranians.

Of course the Iranians aren't as well resourced, or trained, as the Warsaw Pact forces were during the Cold War, hence the use of domestic spec speedboats and the, apparently, less than rational behaviour of their personnel.

This is placing the Americans in a difficult position. The obvious response is to react defensively to aggressive behaviour, hopefully drawing a line and transmitting a very clear warning message.

However, given the level of rationality exhibited by the Iranian government, the chances of that message being heeded is slim.

However, I don't see that the current outcry is helping them much either. Much better, IMO, to deal with the situation calmly professionally and above all, quietly.

Unless of course the Americans have simply had enough of these antics and are escalating the situation? Next time warning shots maybe? And the next time...?

The resulting rants from the Iranian government would be a great argument in favour of preemptive action to deny the Iranian government any future possibility of deploying nuclear weapons.

It's geo-political poker you see.

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'Draconian' Microsoft promises to make Office work again

Christopher A Light
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A redundant fix?

'The fix will come in the form of a link that you can follow which will hack (sorry, modify) your registry for you so that the problem goes away.'

Is that REALLY necessary? After all there's a 'Microsoft Office' entry in 'Add or Remove Programes'...

Or does the Micro$oft fix also include an Open Office installer to finish the job properly?

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Dell hammered over record Q3

Christopher A Light

Don't confuse manufactured with assembled

@ Vernon, Mage and Scott

The 120 Gig HD in question was clearly marked 'Made in China'. As have all the failed in warranty components I've encountered in the last six-nine months or so.

Computer hardware is just like computer software - GIGO applies.

Using Chinese made components, it matters not if the product is assembled in Eire, China, the US, or the middle of the Kalahari Desert - the duration of its continued function is likely to be limited by that of a Chinese manufactured (if that's the right word) component.

Wait and watch. You'll see...

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Christopher A Light
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You ain't seen nothing yet...

Dell service and support bad? <sigh>

Agreed, 6 phone calls in a day to an Asian call centre to get a - this'll please the Apple boys - a Chinese made Segate 120GB HD in a laptop that failed catastrophicaly within 6 weeks fixed, is nothing for Dell to be proud of - BUT...

...just over 10 HOURS on the phone over a period of 8 DAYS attempting to secure an order to move a telephone number to a different location (within the same exchange cachement too) by British Telecom shows conclusively that Dell are rank amateurs at messing their customers about.

Incidentally - I can see this whole 'Made in China - Quality Control via the end user' thing just running and running.. The situation is definitely out of control.

And the outcome? Well, China scoops up the manufacturering jobs (if manufacturing is the right word for throwing a bunch of components into a case with your eyes closed and hoping it functions), China gets the forigen exchange, China gets the (temporary I suspect) economic boost.

The previous manufacturers loose jobs and their economies decline markedly.

The end user gets a comparatively minor price reduction - but for a hopelessly unreliable and shoddy product.

The Western Corprates selling this junk get an enhanced profit line and happier shareholders (unless they happen to buy any of the junk in question, in which case they may reconsider their investment choice - could Dell's share price drop on increased profits be connected?).

But ultimately the entire thing WILL collapse. Support and service costs WILL soar, even with 'outsourcing' and adoption of a 'politely screw the customer' attitude.

Then what?

Fancy trying moving back into an 'abandoned on cost grounds' manufacturing environment?

Then how about raising your product prices to reflect manufacturing costs with at least token quality control?

This will NOT end well.

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Micron takes on solid state drives

Christopher A Light
Boffin

HOW fast?

I suspect these devices will remain a solution in search of a problem in the PC world - maybe some utility in media players, camera and crossover devices, but nothing more.

They might find some utility in PC's - when they have better data access rates than the latest SATA drives - thinking of pagefiles on a slower drive than existing here, what a performance boost!

The noise/physical size/power advantages look interesting, especially in space limited applications. I wonder what the heat output is like though?

Not to mention price...

Still, I'm easily satisfied - all I'm looking for is something about this physical size, low power consumption, low heat output, low noise, around 120Gb, faster than a WD Raptor (Hey! It's solid state - isn't silicon supposedly faster than a HD? If not, why bother with RAM?) and with a cost advantage over spinning metal.

So, it ticks a few of the boxes. But not enough, not as yet.

Must try harder...

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BOFH: The bastard wants to know

Christopher A Light
IT Angle

Are you faking it?

What sort of bloody stupid question is THAT?

I mean, is there ANY other way?

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Restored Vulcan takes to the skies

Christopher A Light
Thumb Up

At last!

I fondly remember seeing one of these perform a slow roll in low altitude level flight at a display, unbelievable grace and power.

The only thing that worries me a little is that back when the 'flying restoration' was first mooted, I heard a comment from an ex-RAF tech that 'it can't be done' because the key component of a Vulcan airframe was huge alloy forging that basically joined the wings, and it had a well defined fatigue life, the end of which was the reason for retiring them in the first place... Re-manufacturing that component was supposedly prohibitively expensive.

Did he know what he was on about? Or was it just hot air? I can only suppose time will tell.

Still, it's back in the air, and while it is I'm definitely going to be seeing it!

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