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* Posts by Mark Boothroyd

62 posts • joined 3 Jan 2008

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Toxic Plankton feeds on Android Market for two months

Mark Boothroyd
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Updates should be part of the Android/Google agreement

Personally, I thing if you buy a Google approved phone, i.e. one that comes with the Market place and other Google apps, there should be something in the agreement between the phone maker and Google to garantee updates for a period of time.

i.e. a phone manufacture:

* Must provide all Android OS updates for up to 24 months after the launch date of the phone (as long as the hardware can cope with the update of course), and...

* Must provide those updates OTA and within 1 month of the update being release by Google themselves.

If they don't agree to this, then they should not allowed to have access to the Google Market etc.

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Dear Ubuntu: The netbook is toast

Mark Boothroyd
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Both worlds

I always liked the idea of an iPad, but though the device was too limited, for many of the reasons stated here, USB, proper file access etc.

I've also owned a Netbook, which was too small for serious use, and no touch screen.

I recently bought an Asus Eee Pad Transformer, with the keyboard dock. So I now have a decent 10.1 screen, I can carry it around like a Tablet, with 8 hours of active use, toucjh screen etc. So perfect for web browsing, checking emails etc. and instant on of course.

But also pop it into the dock, and so it essentially becomes a Netbook, with proper USB sockets, and also an additional 8 hours of usage (so 16 in total). It also closes properly, so it's not just a dock, but a real part of the device, so really is a Netbook in this mode.

The only real issue is lack of Tablet specific Android productivity apps atm. But this is coming, there are already several MS office compatible apps around, including one pre-installed for free. Open Office is on it's way. So this will eventually become a proper Netbook.

So far it gets used almost every day, my Laptop only gets booted up occasionally now to do my finances (in Open Office).

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Brink

Mark Boothroyd
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UT

UT didn't have single player, as it was the Tournament version of Unreal, if you wanted the single player version, you played Unreal, not UT!

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Mozilla to shift 12m surfers off 2-year-old Firefox 3.5

Mark Boothroyd
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Java versions

Can't you just install multiple versions of Java? They all install to separate locations, so can run along side each other. The only issue I've had is that Java puts a copy in the system32 folder, and I believe this is always from the last Java you installed, so becomes the default version used by apps.

I have various apps, some need 1.4, 1.5 and some 1.6, so I've got JREs 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6 all installed on the same box (Win XP 32bit). So fixefox is happy, and any apps that need a specific JRE are just pointed to that version.

All of the corporate apps I've used so far have either reference the Java exe (usually javaw.exe) in the shortcut used to launch the program, an internal setting within the app itself, or in a batch file used to launch the program from. (Or sometimes in more than one place!)

I just replace any references to "java.exe" or "javaw.exe" with the full path, i.e. replace "javaw.exe" with "C:\Program Files\Java\jre1.5.0_13\bin\javaw.exe", or whatever your real path is.

Works for me anyway!

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LG Optimus 2X dual core Android smartphone

Mark Boothroyd
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WTF?

@Adam

Quote: "Flashing a ROM involves going to your computer, plugging in your phone, running a program and going to make a cup of tea while it installs. Alternatively, you can copy a file to your SD card, do a bit of button jiggery-pokery and then go make your cuppa."

Only if it's not official, and only if your not using something like 'ROM Manager'.

Official updates come OTA, (Over The Air), all you have to do is click, 'Yes' when prompted about wanting to update, click 'Yes' leave it for a while, and your done.

Some old Android devices did need to be done in the way you mention, such as early HTC devices needing to use their Sync software on a PC, but that was a couple of years back now.

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Mozilla: 'Internet Explorer 9 is not a modern browser'

Mark Boothroyd
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unstable!

Been using Firefox on Win XP 32, to Win 7 64, and various flavours of Linux, on netbooks, laptops and hi end, home built gaming rigs, for both home use, and work use, and stability has never been an issue with Firefox.

I suggest you either look at the plug-ins your using, or for other issues with your system, rather than blaming Firefox.

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Asus Eee PC 1015PEM

Mark Boothroyd
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Android and Linux

I've used an Android phone for net access as well. HTC Hero (T-Mobile G2 Touch version, stock os, no mods)

I had an Acer Aspire One, with Ubuntu remix installed.

I just plugged the phone in via USB, and the phone prompted me for the USB options, Flash drive, Charge Only etc. One option was to share internet access. I just selected that option. I didn't do anything at all on the Linux box, just launched Firefox and it had access to the Internet immediately! (Unlike Win 7 on the same netbook, which took a lot of coaxing to get it to do the same thing!).

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'Blitzer' railgun already 'tactically relevant', boasts maker

Mark Boothroyd
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sabot

only the sabot needs to be curved, the slug can remain straight.

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Orange and T-Mobile splice customers

Mark Boothroyd
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Might finally get a decent 3G+ signal!

I usually only get around 2 out of 5 bars and that's in the middle of a 120,000 population Town.

For some reason T-Mobile never bothered to actual supply a decent service in my area, despite the number of customers they must have round here (Chesterfield).

Although I too am worried about too much Orange seeping into the T-Mobile side of the service, I left Orange for T-Mobile a few years back due to a combination of awful customer support (i.e. they basically had none, where as T-Mobile were quite open in comparison), and draconian data contacts that still measured usage in single digit MB, rather than in hundreds, or even GB.

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Angry Birds take wing on Android

Mark Boothroyd
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Not for Hero either

Got a HTC Hero on 2.1 (official) and doesn't show up for me either.

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Archos announces five Android tablets

Mark Boothroyd
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Android updates

There aught to be something in the T&Cs for Android that states any vendor implementing a version of Android should have to provide free updates to the next few versions. Perhaps not to the next major release, i.e. 2 to 3, but certainly for all minor releases, 2.0 to 2.1 to 2.2 etc.

And if a vendor isn't willing to provide updated, they shouldn't be allowed to use Android.

Granted there'd need to be rules around this, I wouldn't expect a vendor to still be providing updates to something 5 years old, and of course there could be hardware dependencies.

But there should be a reasonable expectation from consumers that if you buy any Android device, that as new features are added to the OS, you should see them on your device at some point. After-all, a device with Android installed is more akin to a PC with an OS installed on it, than an appliance with a custom OS installed, so updates should be simply a case of taking the latest version, adding the hardware drivers, and testing it. If this is hard work for vendors, then that would seem to indicate that they are doing something wrong in the way they implement updates.

Also all updates should be over the air (even none phone enables tablets have wifi), there shouldn't be any need to plug the device into a PC and download software from anywhere.

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Fujifilm readies revamped 'true' 3D camera

Mark Boothroyd
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Great Exhibition at The Crystal Palace

Indeed, nothing new really, just the fact it's digital and 3D is trendy at the moment.

There's a whole series of pictures from the Great Exhibition at The Crystal Palace, taken with a stereoscopic camera, and that was in 1854!

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Android slurps market share from Apple, RIM, Microsoft

Mark Boothroyd
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WTF?

@The BigYin

Quote: "Compare that to the shit people have to go through with the Droid; phone with different resolutions, screen sizes and features.".

How is this any different from iPhones? iPhone 4 has a higher res screen, a different processor and different features, and the iPad is even worse.

Plus it's Android, not Driod, Droid is a specific handset from Motorola, not a general term for Android devices.

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Vauxhall Ampera extended range e-car

Mark Boothroyd
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Top speed

The top speed is probably limited by the management system to keep the costs down.

The faster you go, the more current the motor draws from the batteries, higher current means you need larger and heavier cables feeding from the battery to the motor, and also produces more heat from the batteries, which has to be managed somehow.

Limiting the speed means the batteries, cables, control systems etc. only have to be rated to a specific level, this keeps costs and heat generation down.

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Mozilla girds Firefox with 'hang detector'

Mark Boothroyd
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Stop

Embedded PDF reader in a browser

I've never understood the insistence of a PDF Reader, to include a browser plug-in, why on earth would I want to view a PDF inside my browser window, when I have a much more functional and dedicated reader application installed on the same system! Pointless.

At the very least you should have the option on installation to not install the plug-in.

If your a Firefox user, grab 'PDF Download', if you click on a link to a PDF, it gives you the options of opening in the browser, opening with the registered reader, or downloading the file. :-)

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Adobe warns over unpatched PDF peril

Mark Boothroyd
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Flash is optional

Quote: '...that people want it, you need it to get the "whole web" (not optional or debatable)'

Yes it is optional.

I use Firefox with No Script and Ad-Block, this blocks flash content by default and I've had very few sites not work with that combination.

The few sites that do rely on Flash, are usually crud (pr0n etc.) or pandering to the masses type sites (YouTube etc.) or are promoting a new Movie or Game, so can be lived without.

Very few real sites I've found actually use Flash for actual content, with most usage being restricted to adverts only, so no real loss there.

The only high profile site I know of that does use flash is YouTube, and they are moving to HTML5, so eventually, once all the mainstream Browsers are upto speed with HTML5, I can see YouTube (Google) dropping Flash.

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Mark Boothroyd
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WTF?

@embedded interactive content. WTF!

The whole point of PDF was that is was a read-only document format for sending to printers etc.

So what's the point in adding embedded interactive content to something that should be read-only?

Also PDF's were generally thought of as inert, due to them being read only, adding embedded functionality now means the possibility of executing things inside a PDF, which throws away the safety of the format (what little there was in the first place).

If PDF is going down the interactive route, then perhaps we need a new inert document format.

At the very least the Reader should block all interactive functionality by default, and have to be switched on in order to access any of this. (aka like Macro's in Office etc.)

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Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E 46in quad-pixel TV

Mark Boothroyd
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Actually we do see in yellow

We have three types of cone cells, sensitive to short, medium and long wavelengths, but these, other than one of them, don't actually match RGB.

Short wave peaks at violet, not blue.

Medium wave does actually peaks at green.

Short wave peaks at, extra points for anyone who guesses this, Yellow :-)

So rather than Red, Green and Blue, we actually see in Violet, Green and Yellow.

RMG monitors will always be an approximation, as they can''t actually reproduce what we see, just a subset of what we see. In order to see true colour images, you'd need a monitor that peaked at the same colour wavelengths as our eyes do.

So adding Yellow is probably a good idea.

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Acer Easystore H340 2TB Nas box

Mark Boothroyd
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WHS does have redundancy

WHS has selective redundancy, or data duplication as they call it.

A single disk WHS has this switched off by default, as obviously it has no where to put the duplicate data, but a multi disk system has it on by default and automatically duplicates the data on to each disk, in essence software RAID and essentially halves your storage space, just like real RAID would.

You can mix and match, i.e. if the data is already duplicated elsewhere, just select the folder and tell WHS not to duplicate that one folder, and you get the space back on the second drive for other uses, so you can have a mixture of duplicated and none duplicated data on the same system.

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Mark Boothroyd
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WHS does have redundancy

WHS has selective redundancy, or data duplication as they call it.

A single disk WHS has this switched off by default, as obviously it has no where to put the duplicate data, but a multi disk system has it on by default and automatically duplicates the data on to each disk, in essence software RAID and essentially halves your storage space, just like real RAID would.

You can mix and match, i.e. if the data is already duplicated elsewhere, just select the folder and tell WHS not to duplicate that one folder, and you get the space back on the second drive for other uses, so you can have a mixture of duplicated and none duplicated data on the same system.

It's basically RAID but a lot more flexible, which may not be ideal for a business user, but is spot on for the typical home user, which is what this is aimed at.

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Mark Boothroyd
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What you describe is basically what WHS does

Main WHS capabilities (from wikipedia):

<quote>

Windows Home Server Drive Extender is a file-based replication system that provides three key capabilities:

* Multi-disk redundancy so that if any given disk fails, data is not lost

* Arbitrary storage expansion by supporting any type of hard disk drive (Serial ATA, USB, FireWire etc.) in any mixture and capacity — similar in concept to JBOD

* A single folder namespace (no drive letters)

</quote>

I would assume hardware raid would work, at least if it's real hardware raid that requires no drivers in the OS, as that should be transparent to the OS, but it's probably not required due to the stuff above.

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Intel: Killer cables may leapfrog USB 3.0

Mark Boothroyd
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WTF?

Brittle?

"Fibre optics are the best to offer consumers. They're so brittle that they won't last five minutes in the average family home, and a lucrative after-sales industry of replacement cables will spring up."

Since when are consumer aimed fibre optics brittle? I've got a bunch at home for digital optical feeds and they are far more flexible and maliable that any copper based cable I've used.

Bear in mind, conductive cables usually mean copper (often tin coated), bend copper around a bit and it breaks, hence why copper cables are usually made up of many fine strands, it's not because this stops it from breaking (reduces yes, stops no), it's just so it breaks in each strand in a different place so you don't loose conductivity.

Modern optical cables are made of polymers that can't be bent to a very high degree before being damaged, i.e. squash it under foot etc. So should last an awful lot longer than any copper based cable.

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Leaked details on HP iPad challenger reveal tight fight

Mark Boothroyd
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Android tablets already available

Re: 'Android tablets will appear I'm sure of it'

Small ARM based ones are already out, take a look here:

http://www.archos.com/products/imt/archos_5it/index.html

£200-£300 depending on spec, even available from play.com and other main retailers.

Here's details on others coming soon: http://www.androidtablets.net/

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German group urges boycott over Facebook privacy shake-up

Mark Boothroyd
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Data Protection Act in the UK

Does the contact between yourself and Facebook, that you have to agree to in order to join up, include a clause to allow Facebook to provide data to 3rd parties?

If yes, then there really is no grounds to complain, (not legally anyway), as you've already agreed to allow Facebook to provide your data to 3rd parties.

If no, then as far as I'm aware Facebook would be open to prosecution under the Data Protection Act, because data gathered for one purpose, such as populating a profile on a web site, cannot be used for any other purpose without your explicit consent.

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Net downloads cause 'millions of lost jobs'

Mark Boothroyd
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jobs?

Yup, I would expect so...

Software companies that provide copy protection to games etc. SecuROM etc that wouldn't even exist if it wasn't for Piracy.

Hardware companies that provide hardware dongles that unlock software.

Many legal firms, some now specialising in piracy.

All the politicians and their henchmen that seem to be always involved.

on line file hosting services making money out of subscriptions and advertising.

etc. etc.

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Mozilla gives passive-aggressive missive to pre-Firefox 3.6 hold-outs

Mark Boothroyd
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WTF?

available since January?

I've just had the notification to update pop up while reading this article on my lunch break. (I'm on 3.5.8).

What I'm puzzled at is that I have automatic updates switched on for Firefox, so why did I not get the notification back in January when 3.6 was released?

What's the point in having an auto update system if it doesn't notice a new version of itself has been released!

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Apple yanks Wi-Fi detectors from iTunes

Mark Boothroyd
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Just works on Android (at least it does for me)

Kludge? I just plugged my HTC Hero into my Netbook (Ubuntu) and it just worked. The OS just sees it as a wired Internet connection, no setting changes required anywhere. Just launched Firefox and the web worked immediately.

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Acer H5360 3D projector

Mark Boothroyd
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3D glasses fit fine over existing

The 3D glasses I picked up at the cinema recently were all one-size-fits-all, including for existing wearers. I wear glasses and they fitted over the top of my exiting pair without any issue.

So unless your wearing ridiculously large or wide glasses, then you shouldn't have any issues for cinema versions.

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BT blamed for Davina McCall spamcalls

Mark Boothroyd
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Title here

It would be nice if you could have a land line for broadband access only, no phones calls possible.

Technically this is possible, plus if the exchange supports it, the bandwidth used by voice calls can be reallocated for use by DSL, increasing you DSL bandwidth and so your speeds :-)

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OFT requests T-Orange investigation

Mark Boothroyd
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Indeed

Been with Orange, currently with T-Mobile, nether have ever had good 3G where I live, and I'm in a 50k+ population Town and near the centre of it!

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Dell Inspiron Zino HD

Mark Boothroyd
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You can get the flash player with HD support now (beta)

Grab it from here:

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/flashplayer10/

Already used it on my Revo R3610 and it works spot on with all flash content, including HD, CPU just ticks over :-)

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Mark Boothroyd
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FAIL

Where's the digital audio out?

No S/PDIF makes it pointless as a media centre PC for many people, as there is no means to get digital audio to a home theatre system.

(Unless it's an AV amp that includes HDMI passthough, but not everyone has one of those (I do and I still use S/PDIF rather than HDMI passthough, as most HDMI drivers don't provide 5.1 through HDMI).

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Quantum superclock will be accurate past end of life on Earth

Mark Boothroyd
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Sun engulfing the Earth

Quote: 'While the Sun should have some time to run before becoming a red giant - and so engulfing the Earth and much of the solar system'.

If I remember correctly, the Earths orbit, like all the planets, is slowing down, therefore slowly drifting away from the Sun. By the time our Sun becomes a red giant, we'd be far enough away not to be engulfed by the Sun. (Although the planet would still be dead by then anyway, so still not exactly good news!).

Plus our Sun won't turn into a Red Giant for about another 5.4 billion years or so, so the clock could actually be out by over a second by then ;-)

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Whirlpool allows old stains to linger on Kitchenaid.com site

Mark Boothroyd
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redirect their domain

There aught to be some process in place to shut sites down.

i.e. Find a virus etc. So tell the site. Site has x number of days to clean up. If the site still isn't clean a couple of days before x runs out, send a final warning. If site is still not clean on day x, redirect their domain to a holding page stating that the site contains malicious software, with an option to continue to the site if you accept the risks.

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Hacker brings multitouch to Google's Nexus One

Mark Boothroyd
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Already here!

HTC Hero is still on Android 1.5 and has multi-touch.

It's used in the default browser, image viewer and in the email app.

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Ballmer preempts Jobs with tablet slate trio

Mark Boothroyd
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@ Windows 7 and Intel Atom

Re: 'Isn't the CPU hopelessly under powered to run Win 7? My wifes netbook runs XP OK, but don't open many woindows as in the Archos piccy'.

Nope, got Win 7 running on my old Atom powered Acer Aspire One netbook, dual booting with Ubuntu 9.10 Netbook remix, and Win 7 runs smoother than Ubuntu and utilises the small screen more affectively.

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Lenovo joins the smartbook gang

Mark Boothroyd
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Price!

Smaller, less powerful and less functional that my current Netbook, but twice the price! Are Lenovo staff on drugs or something?

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PayPal mistakes own email for phishing attack

Mark Boothroyd
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web based email and viewing plain text

"all modern clients allow you to view everything as plain text, too, except web-based ones (obviously). Have you ever bothered to try one?"

Not true about web based emails, at least not the two I use.

With Hotmail (mail.live.com nowadays), just right click on the message in your inbox and select 'View message source'.

With Google mail. open the message, then click the drop down arrow in the top right of the message window (next to the reply button) and select 'Show original'.

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ITU joins microUSB bandwagon

Mark Boothroyd
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Charging rates

Quote: 'That does make for slower charging, as the amount of power allowed by the standard limits how quickly you can recharge a handset'

You would have hoped they'd have taken that into account, because charging rate is only really an issue if the phones plugged into another device, such as a PC. i.e. pulling the power via the USB controller.

If it's plugged directly into a power socket, then current drain via USB isn't really relevant as it's not actually going via a USB controller anywhere.

My current phone uses a plug in brick that has a standard USB socket on the bottom, so any standard USB lead will plug into it. Handy for charging my phone, MP3 player and my XBox 360 controller :-) The phone charges in about an hour from flat.

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Miami health centre starts RFID soap snooping

Mark Boothroyd
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Results

It will be interesting to see the results of this after a while, see if this does actually make a difference to infection and fatality rates in the hospital, as compared with before they implemented the new process.

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Microsoft signs off on Windows 7

Mark Boothroyd
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Go

Win 7 on Netbooks

Installed Win 7 RS on my Acer Aspire One 150 (120GB HD version), which I've been using Ubuntu Netbook remix on since buying the thing, and have to say I was pleasantly surprised. Set it up as a dual boot, so could compare the two OS's on the same system.

It boots up fast, even cold boots and hibernation, it uses the Aero interface, so looks nice. The interface is responsive, applications load quickly (just as quick as Ubuntu!). The only hardware issue I had was it didn't install drivers correctly for the two card readers (SD on one side, 8 in 1 on the other), but a quick google got me the Vista drivers which installed without complaint and didn't even need a reboot.

Only real issue is memory usage, mine is a 1GB model, and after boot up I have about 480MB free, but that's still plenty to have Firefox, Openoffice and several other tasks open at the same time before running into VM usage. Plus the left hand SD card slot is a flush mounted slot, so designed to supplement your internal storage with an SD cardthat you just plug ain and leave there (mainly for 8GB SSD models), so I just stuck a spare 512MB SD card in there and swiched on ready-boost, which helps speed up VM by quite a factor.

Have to say if you switch on Auto-hide for the task bar, Win 7 also makes much better use of the limited available screen space than Ubuntu NBR does.

I also love the new (in Vista and above) combined search/run bar in the Start menu. No more having to search for that elusive application icon, because you can't find the right start menu, because you've forgotten the publishers name etc. Just type the first few characters of the application name and it just appears in the list above! It's almost like M$ have realised that a GUI full of icons isn't always the easiest way of managing applications! (I wish Ubuntu had this!)

Installed Steam and Half-Life, just for fun to see if it was playable, and it was! Even in 800x600, although 640x480 gave better frame-rates, but definitely usable. Obviously it's only a Netbook, so not really a game machine, but still interesting to see :-)

Still a little unstable, had a couple of blue-screens, usually while Windows was trying to run updates. But it is only an RC and has been updated since for the RTM. Plus some of the hardware drivers still may not be fully correct for Win 7, but those will get fixed in time, especially if Acer start releasing Win 7 versions of their Netw

Hate to say this, as I'm not really an M$ fan, despite what I say above, but Win 7 is nice, both to look at and use, much better than Vista (but then what isn't!).

If the stability issues can be resolved, I can see me moving from Ubuntu to Win 7 on my Netbook, unless the Ubuntu crowd do some improvements the the user experience and drag the look and feel of Ubuntu out of the early 90's!

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Mobile directory blames press for latest failure

Mark Boothroyd
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Junk mail tactics?

Quote: "Connectivity bought mobile marketing lists after legal threats failed to extract customer information from mobile operators 18 months ago."

Kind of makes them sound like a junk email pedlar, couldn't get the phone numbers through legit channels, so lets buy list of 'other' people instead, ebay anyone.

Wouldn't mind so much if there was some way to find out where they got your numbers from in the first place, at least then you could chase the source to stop your number from being sold again!

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The return of the diskless PC

Mark Boothroyd
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Co%t etc

@ 'Windows O/S are so slow because they forever thrash the HDD to death with the swap file...'

That just looks like you don't have enough RAM for the OS or what your doing on the system. Windows should only need to use the swap file if there isn't enough system RAM available.

Granted Windows isn't very good at managing swap memory when it needs to use it, but as long as you've got enough memory in your system, it shouldn't need to use swap memory.

The swap space is only there as a backup for exceptional circumstances, to stop your system from falling over because you've run too many apps at the same time or some app has decided it needs more memory than you actually have installed.

If your system is using swap all the time, then you need to get the system sorted out first.

I'm at work now using an XP Laptop, Got Word, Excel, Lotus Notes, IE, Firefox, half a dozen explorer windows, UltaEdit and two other bespoke apps all running at the same time (I rarely close an app once I've opened it) and the swap file hasn't been touched since I booted up this morning. 840MB of 2GB still fee.

@Ken Hagan: Fully agree about your comments around memory being more important than processor speed. It amazes me how many people buy PC's that are essentially crippled from new because the supplier wanted to shave 10 quid of the selling price (or increase their margins) and only supply the system with 512MB rather than 1GB of memory.

The amount of people who've brought Laptops to me to look at, because they are running really slow, to find out they've only got 20MB of memory or less free after just booting up, either because the system didn't have enough to start with, or they've got too much crap loading on boot, or both. £20 spent 2GB of memory and a bit of a clean up of the system and they think they've got a brand new machine, because it's finally running as the speed it should have been running at in the first place!

For me, if you using XP, 1GB should be your minimum for light work, 2GB min for heavier work. Vista or newer 2GB min, and when you consider that 2GB of memory is typically less that £20, even for Laptop memory, there really is no excuse for crippling your own machine by skimping on it. Even if your a gamer, 2GB of decent branded SLI memory is still only around £40-£50.

Even Linux appreciates the extra memory (I dual boot my PC's) :-)

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Audi working on electric R8?

Mark Boothroyd
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@White Elephant

Plus the combination of power stations and an electric engine is far more efficient than the measly amount of energy a petrol or diesel engine can get from it's fuel.

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Microsoft fortifies Windows 7 kernel with overrun buster

Mark Boothroyd
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Stop

@Goat Jam

Quote "Basically s[eaking, for the slow learners out there, a proper OS doesn't allow apps to do stuff they shouldn't do, not without explicit user authorisation anyway."

Couldn't agree more.

One of my personal peeve's with Windows is the number of unnecessary background tasks/start-up programs/system tray icons etc. etc. installed by applications that simply don't need them.

Example programs such as Acrobat Reader which installs an 'accelerator' which doesn't actually do anything useful other than eating system resources and slowing down boot times! Or quicktime which does the same. Install Steam and it runs automatically on boot, why? Do they really expect me to play Steam games every time I switch my machine on?

All application installs should explicitly ask permissions to install things like background services, tray icons, startup processes, browser plug-ins etc. If they don't ask, then the OS should notice what the installer is trying to do and let you know with a dialogue box, where you can then make the choice to allow it to continue or not. (Same with icons on the desktop, be nice and ask first!).

All app developers who create apps with services that are not actually required, should give you the option to use them or not during install, not wait till your restarted and then gone 'where did that icon come from?'.

I know some programs are useful to have running as services, or to have a tray icon, but the vast majority have absolutly no need to do so.

I regularly black-list applications and try to find alternatives to use if they insist on installing services that aren't actually required. (Quick time alternative, Foxit reader etc.)

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Summer debut for Judge Dredd computer smart-rifle

Mark Boothroyd
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@Wireless Signal

Quote: 'The shell in the XM-25's breech gets its electronic time fuse precisely set by a wireless transmission from the smartgun computer at the instant it is fired.'

I assume this would mean the shell would ignore any commands until it's actually fired, possibly even being completely dormant until loaded in the barrel. Only activating themselves once loaded in the barrel, and possibly not even arming the explosive system until after the shell has been fired (like a torpedo or missile, they arm on route, not in the launcher).

I would also expect the shells have a built in minimum range, to make sure they are a safe distance from the person firing the weapon before going off.

So worse case, even if the shells were compromised somehow, they'd go off mid air on the way to the target. So just make sure your not in between the two :-)

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Herschel and Planck off to meet Lagrange

Mark Boothroyd
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@A-level Physics seems so long ago

L1 is easier to visualise than L2, as L2 needs to be spinning in obit, although the laws are the same.

The rotation is not round an actual physical object, but round two physical forces that interact with each other. i.e. The gravitational pulls of the Sun and the Earth.

For L1, imagine something like a tennis ball with two lengths of elastic a few meters in length tied to the opposite ends of the ball.

You then have two people, A & B, pulling on the elastic in opposite directions, putting enough tension on the elastics to lift the ball up off the ground.

Something like this: A-------*-------B

So the ball '*' represents our satellite in L1, person A is the Sun, person B is the Earth.

The ball is basically sat in the middle point of tension caused by the elastic bands. So is basically the L1 point.

Now imagine a third person walking up to the ball pulling it away from the centre and trying to throw it towards the ground. The elastic would cause the ball to start swinging around the middle point. Picture a skipping rope going round, only with a weight in the middle causing the object to continue going round and round, rather than energy being put into it by the people holding the ropes/elastics.

Obviously here on earth with friction etc. the object would slow down and the orbit/amount of swing would decrease, until finaly is was sat back in the middle stationary again. But in the vacuum of space, with no friction to slow the ball down, it just keeps swinging around and around the centre point.

So although it's not actually orbiting something physical like a planet, it is in essence orbiting the gravitations pull of both the Sun and the Earth.

L2 is the point behind the Earth, so in the example above we'd have:

A-------------B====*

So the '=' is two elastic bands, the one from the Sun 'A' and the one from the Earth 'B'.

The rules are basically the same as above for L1, but person B has to run around peson A in a big circle fast enough to cause the ball to lift off the ground due to the certifigal forces.

Again the ball would try to find the centre point and just sit there, the L2 point, but if made to orbit around this centre point like in the L1 example above, it would simple keep going round and round that point (if in the vacuum of space).

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lagrangian_point for the math :-)

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Renault intros e-MPV

Mark Boothroyd
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Batteries under the dash!

Lets hope they don't go the way of recent laptop batteries!

At least if there in the boot and they go boom, or catch fire, you've still got a chance to stop the car and get out, but if there inside the dash, best of luck!

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AMD merges processor and graphics biz

Mark Boothroyd
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@General processor on graphics chip?

GPU's are too specialist, essentially just uber maths co-processes geared around GFX.

But for general tasks, even ignoring the lack of x86 commands, GPU's simply don't have the grunt or capabilities that a standard CPU has. An OS running on a GPU would run like Vista on a 200MHz 486!

Although other math intensive tasks can be done by GPU's, such as protein analysis (folding at home via CUDA on nVidia as one example), and now more recently hardware physics acceleration via PhysX on recent nVidia cards (8, 9, and 200 series cards)(I believe ATI/AMD are also working on something similar for their cards now as well).

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Firefox 3.0 ekes ahead of Internet Explorer 7 in Europe

Mark Boothroyd
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IE6 usage

I would suspect that most of the IE6 usage in EU is corporations who simply don't want to spend the money in updating to IE7/8.

Not so much the browser update itself, but more the fact that they'd probably have to do lots and lots of work updating their corporate intranets, as they were all written with IE 6 in mind, and as no other browsers would have been authorised for use on their networks, won't have been tested with any other browsers.

I work for a large (i.e. 80,000+ IT company) and we had a new intranet application only launched a few months back, used by the whole company, and it won't work in anything other than IE6, Firefox won't even load the main page, just weird empty tables all over the place!

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