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* Posts by Lee Dowling

1188 posts • joined 28 Mar 2007

Euro NCAP to mandate auto-braking in new-car test

Lee Dowling
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Has been, since 2007, in the EU.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Safety enhancements are used as performance enhancements

It's generally agreed and proven that the best way to improve vehicle safety would be to mandate mounting a large spike in the centre of every steering wheel that would skewer the driver if they ever had an accident or brake too hard. It's a cast-iron guarantee that people with those cars would drive more slowly and more carefully and take all the harsh abuse of the cars steering/braking out of their daily commute.

Pulling a car down to having so little kinetic energy that it wouldn't kill a pedestrian is almost impossible. Even a bike can kill at 20+mph. You'd literally have to go back to little men walking in front of the car with a red flag, and even then it wouldn't be accident-free (fork-trucks are usually very low speed but can easily kill people if they back into them near a solid object - hey you can take an entire superstore out if you're not careful when loading the shelves with one at <5mph).

The better thing would be separation. Move the dangerous, fast-moving, heavy things away from the fragile items. Follow Belgium's example and put all the roads underground. Don't have "streets", have pedestrian areas and vehicle areas clearly separated and make the speed limit 5mph where the two meet.

But, some would argue, the riots involved in taking away current freedoms, changing EVERY road and every vehicle and every driving law would probably hurt more people than they would have saved in road safety.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Hang on...

I didn't suggest that new-car-buyers weren't necessary. Hell, I've only ever owned second-hand.

I merely pointed out, to answer the question about who's going to PAY for this, that the only people who would pay for those extras are the new-car-buyers. By the time those cars filter to the second-hand car market, the "cost" of those extra parts would be a tiny percentage of a tiny amount of money in comparison.

That's the cost of buying a new car, that the next buyer will see all your fancy extras and expenses as nothing worth paying extra for. Hell, even if you go by *percentage*, the used-car-buyer probably pays even less a percentage of their overall purchase cost for such fancy addon's than the new-car-buyer did (i.e. if the extras cost 10% of the price of a new car, the second-hand buyer would almost certainly value them at less than 10% of the second-hand cost!).

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Lee Dowling
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Re: ABS as well?

Eh? Sounds like a design flaw in a particular model to me, not anything resembling a natural occurrence that's part-and-parcel of having ABS.

I drive a 1995 car. The ABS works perfectly. I can attest to that, especially that year of bad snow when I was driving through Europe and the Alps with it on virtually solid ice and I felt it kick it all the time (my demo to a German acquaintance who was front passenger was to slam on the brakes at 10mph on solid ice/snow and see the stopping distance on a completely empty / straight road - shocked him just how far you can go even with ABS, and shut him up about me having an enormous braking distance in front of me all the time).

The ABS hasn't got much exercise outside that and didn't for years (it was sitting on someone's drive for years, according to the paperwork), and I've never had to service the ABS side of it, ever. My dad is a mechanic of 40 years (actually engineer for an entire fleet for many years) and distrusts all modern technology on a car, but he'd have mentioned it or forbade me to drive the car until he'd checked it, if it was that common for ABS. Maybe you're just buying junk?

ABS only falls below the braking power of an experienced driver on completely loose gravel (like a private driveway), compared to non-ABS cars. In all other circumstances, it's better than a skilled driver doing any amount of brake-pumping (and rightly so - can you detect wheel slippage and completely come off the brake and reapply dozens of times a second? No.), and in that circumstance that it's inferior on, it's not inferior by much and is so uncommon as to not be worth worrying about (unless you WANT to skid into a gravel driveway at 70mph). On classic roads, ice, snow, etc. it's actually far superior. That's *WHY* it's mandated.

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Lee Dowling
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The idiot that buys a brand new car. Can't say that I've ever seen the value in a new car whatsoever.

And by the time it's on the secondhand market there will be YEARS of car where it's been compulsory, so cars will all have it after a certain time, and thus it will add £0 to the price that the secondhand buyer's willing to pay.

Depreciation with a car is a given. Similarly, I never paid any extra because my 1995 Mondeo has an air bag, electric windows or a larger engine. By the time a car hits the second hand market all the "compulsory" items are standard and you won't pay extra at all for them and all the fancy "extras" like stereos, electric windows, sunroof, etc. factor so little into the cost that it's not worth worrying about.

It's only the first-buyer who's silly enough to pay through the nose for those items in the first place, and absorb the cost of the car. Everyone after that profits purely from his acceptance of depreciation. In a few years, your car won't sell for more than a few grand. It's as simple as that. And even then, I'd consider that expensive.

Had my car for about 4 years now. 50mpg. Perfect running. Still going strong, still "empty" MOT certificates (last "problem" was a cracked windscreen washer bottle), still perfectly drivable. Cost me £300 when I bought it and I've spent about the same again on essential replacements (e.g. tyres). Hell, when the front windscreen caught a stone, I didn't bother to claim it on my insurance because it only cost £100 to get a full replacement with heating elements, fitted on my front lawn. And when someone scratches your door in a car park... meh, who cares?

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Lee Dowling
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Re: ABS as well?

Since 2007.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: Overtaking fail potential?

By saying that preparing to overtake is not an excuse to be six inches off the bumper of the car in front (i.e. so close that you'd NEVER be able to react and stop if they did, especially with your attention diverted to whether the next lane is clear, etc.)?

In that case, it's not a question of "the autobrake made me stop when I was overtaking" so much as "if the driver in front had hit the brakes for any reason anyway, we'd both be dead".

This is probably *WHY* the AEB can reduce accidents by 27%. Don't get close enough that your car can't come to a full stop before hitting the car in front and it will NEVER be an issue.

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Rampant fake Facebook ad clicks riddle hits dead end

Lee Dowling
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Re: I don't get it

To increase your competitor's advertising cost for almost-zero cost to yourself?

To provide justification for a "We'll get you more hits" (or SEO) service that they've sold to the customer?

I don't know. But it's probably not bots as in "fake click bots build to game the system" but bots as in "we index every site on the web, whoops that indexing of your site has cost you 100 'clicks' because Facebook counted it as a genuine visit".

I know that on a small site you can get more GoogleBot, MSN Bot, Yahoo Bot, etc. than you do anything else, and they hit you regularly and index your site and do so with Javascript disabled. It's just that most places wouldn't count them as "clicks" whereas Facebook obviously does.

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Lee Dowling
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Seriously, why would a business ever pay CPC? I don't get it.

Bung a tracking cookie on visitors so you know where they came from. WHEN they make a purchase, then you know they were a customer worth getting, and where they first came from, and then you can work out later how much each website made you in extra profit versus how much it cost to advertise with them.

Someone "clicking" onto your website doesn't do anything and is easily faked. But the bots aren't going to suddenly start adding things to their cart, going through checkout, using a valid credit card, receiving your product, etc. If you've not had a purchase from them, why would you pay someone for referring them to you?

The closest analogy is putting out leaflets. But if you put out 5000 leaflets in one area and get NOTHING back, why would you pay again, or pay for more - and wouldn't you be suspecting the guy you paid to distribute the leaflets just threw them in the bin and went home?

Don't pay per click. Pay a commission based on the amount of money you made from a certain site directing customers to use. If you *DO* pay per click, because there's no other way, monitor how many "clicks" results in how much profit for each site individually. If it's not profitable, then stop doing it, immediately. It's really not hard and it makes me wonder what businesses are doing just throwing away money on "clicks" that they aren't even bothering to track. It just confirms my belief that 90% of all businesses that advertise online, using Google, Facebook or whoever, just aren't bothering to manage their business properly. Seriously, out of all the ads I've seen on my Google searches and all the ones next to my Facebook views, I cannot see why anyone would waste money advertising that particular product to me (I still get ads for Zentai suits from Milanoo for some reason - god knows why).

Seriously, if a click on your website did not result in a single other page being viewed, it was pointless (it means they weren't interested in your product or thought it was something else). If it does not result in them adding it to the cart (even a month down the line), then they were nothing but browsers and *COST* you money. And you can even track if they bother to come back next month and buy something else entirely instead.

Run your business like a business. If your paper ad campaign made you no money whatsoever, then pack it in quickly so as to not throw more money away. If your online ad campaign made you no money whatsoever, then pack it in quickly so as to not throw more money away. If you *DON'T KNOW* whether it made you money or not, and are just happy that you "got more hits", then you're not running a business properly.

Track those clicks and pay accordingly (a website I used to use did this - Atomz search, or something? I can't remember. You basically got X% of the price of anything that your site was the "primary cause" of someone buying something), or treat them as a throwaway paper ad campaign. If it does its job, use it. If it doesn't, ditch it. 3 months is the MAXIMUM I would expect it to take if you weren't actually getting enough real customers from something for you to tweak, fix, and then abandon the concept.

How do these people manage in business if it takes them THIS LONG to figure this stuff out? You can't even use the excuse of not being net-savvy.

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God-botherers burst onto IPTV Freeview: The End is Nigh

Lee Dowling
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The quality of television drops in proportion to the amount of stuff available and the cost of transmission. When there were only two or three channels, you HAD to compete to put the best stuff out there or nobody watched you, which meant you couldn't afford to broadcast any more.

Now, anybody can watch anything they like, when they like, the competition doesn't exist. People ignore you anyway, unless you're showing exactly what they want to watch at that exact moment, or provide it online somehow 24 hours a day anyway. And, shockingly, that costs less than it ever has. So now people cherry-pick what they want to watch and all your adverts and "undiscovered" dross never get watched but still cost absolutely peanuts to keep showing all day long anyway, so why the hell not show them?

All it means is that the signal-to-noise ratio of TV has gone so low that most people don't bother. My TV is a display device, not a broadcast TV reception device. It shows what I want, when I want, if I want and I watch less TV now than I ever have (except for a year or two where I watched no TV at all and didn't miss it one bit) - and virtually zero "live" or "unseen" TV at all. Statistically, I probably watch 20 times more pre-recorded content that I have physical disks for than I ever watch on TV. Meanwhile, 7000 channels of junk play 24/7 unwatched. We're already there. You can't escape that by adding more tat, and making it cheaper and easier to broadcast.

Hell, I remember when I was a kid being envious of America's cable programmes, where literally kids were allowed to just get in front of a camera at home and have their own local channel. Even back then, though, it occurred to me that I'd never *watch* it, it would just be cool to have your own channel. A whole nation of kids probably thought the same and they were all "broadcasting" to absolutely nobody. It seems that turned into YouTube when the Internet come along but it was the same principle. The easier it is to do something yourself, the more the quality of the stuff aimed at everyone DROPS.

That said, precisely who is watching the religious channels? Surely sloth is a sin, no? Sitting watching someone preaching is hardly work and you couldn't even be bothered to go to church if it was your day of rest anyway? It might work in America, where they can easily get 100,000 turn up at a church to listen to a famous pastor, but I doubt it will do anything in the UK at all. Hell, we barely use the churches we have except for weddings, "christenings" and funerals.

TV is dead. Has been since it became viable to put an MPEG file online and watch it in real-time on the other side of the world. A TV is a display device, not a content source. Squeeze as many channels as you like into it, because it's not going to do anything but hasten TV's death and promote the alternative of buying pre-recorded media or a subscription to past content archives. As the example shows, DTDD hasn't been on TV for 30 years, but people still obviously download it and watch it and buy DVD's of it (saw it in HMV the other day). The TV companies have no interest in showing that old content. Hell, I bought Just Good Friends on DVD because for DECADES they never showed them on TV and I'm waiting for the next series of The Two Of Us to come out on DVD. It's cheaper, easier, more convenient, and more efficient (i.e. hours of entertainment vs hours of faffing about) to download and/or buy pre-recorded content than watch the junk on TV.

Saturday night TV died 20+ years ago. Broadcast TV died 10+ years ago. It's just a display device. Treat it as such.

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Does Box really need $284m in VC cash?

Lee Dowling
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Re: One question.

Or I could just not play silly games trying to find out who the hell they are and people could either link it in the article, explain it in the article, or pick a damn name that's more useful.

Sign #1 of a company I will never use: You can't find out exactly what they do without having to dig through the Internet. This also applies to every van I pass on the motorway that has the company name in HUGE letters and not one single description of what they actually do, or sometimes even a website to find out more.

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Lee Dowling
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One question.

Who the hell are Box and why the hell should I care?

Until people know the answer to that question without having to do quite a tricky bit of Google navigating (don't name your company after a single dictionary word if you want it to be found on Google!), all that money is wasted.

Seriously, I've never heard of them and have no idea what they do. And even The Reg's "free advertising" as an article doesn't really clue me in, nor inspire me to find out.

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Airline leaves customer on hold for 15 hours

Lee Dowling
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"Calls to engaged numbers don't appear on itemised bills because they didn't complete. There's no call record generated for a bill to be produced from. Also, why not simply use the RIng Back When Free facility?"

1) They did. I still have the bill somewhere to prove it.

2) That facility didn't exist at the time and doesn't work when lines are just that busy anyway.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: excellent synopsis, and question

cordwainer1: if you mean my comment - help yourself.

www.ledow.org.uk should provide you with enough to contact me.

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Lee Dowling
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I beg to differ. I get some of the best customer service from companies that are keeping costs low, because they know that time on the service line is precious and they don't want to be tied up arguing. Customer service isn't about fending off those customers who dare to call you, it's about handling problems that YOU'VE created. If you don't create the problems, you won't get swamped in calls or the calls you get swamped with will be easily dealt with. If you have a system, have good, trained personnel instead of thousands of phone monkeys with "Sorry, sir, I can't do that", etc. then you will end up costing yourself more than you save.

Case in point - I had an argument with "Benson's For Beds" (part of the Harvey's Furniture group, which is now sitting permanently on my blacklist). They sent me two beds, each several hundred pounds, and one with *39* missing pieces (out of 314 if you count ALL the screws, etc.). So I call up. And waste literally 30 minutes because, despite the fact that they were quite happy to confirm all kinds of details and talk to me, because it wasn't MY name on the invoice (but was phoning from the property they delivered to, after signing for the thing they just delivered, and was in the process of building those items), they wouldn't send out a replacement pack of missing parts. They tried to claim it was because of the Data Protection Act (How? I just gave YOU all the details of the buyer, invoice numbers, delivery dockets, address, phone number etc. to let you talk to me in the first place! And how does that stop you sending a FREE packet of missing spare parts to the address - and even name - on the invoice, which I happened to be holding in my hand)?

The time spent dealing with me, the time spent quoting (completely falsely) the Data Protection Act as a reason (I offered to recite it to them, if necessary, but they weren't interested and just stuck to their script - even the "most senior" manager on their Customer Service department), the hassle spent not handling other people's calls, disturbing managers, tying up support lines, etc. WAS NOT WORTH the cost of a pack of screws that you KNEW you would have to send out anyway. In the end, they phoned (at their cost) the person named on the invoice, and then we had YET ANOTHER lengthy conversation (because only I knew what parts were missing so they had to phone ME back - I took a little pleasure, when they asked if that was Mr Dowling, in telling them that I couldn't tell them that because the Data Protection Act required that I didn't give out personal details. Technically incorrect, but funny and the guy on the other end - yet ANOTHER guy who was less senior than the person I had spoken to 30 minutes earlier - took it with good humour and just said "Ah, yes, I have the right person, then."), and then after I started listing off the bed model numbers, parts missing, etc. and wasted ANOTHER 10 minutes, the guy just sent me out a complete kit of parts because it wasn't worth the hassle to identify so many different screws etc.

Just how much money was wasted there compared to just doing what a customer service line is supposed to do? Send a £5 pack of screws and plastic bits on the HUNDREDS of pounds worth of beds that you KNOW I bought from you (so I wasn't exactly "scamming" you out of random plastic connectors and some wooden dowels) that same day with a few quid for delivery (it came back on the same van that delivered the beds a few days later as part of their normal delivery rounds). Send them to the delivery address on the invoice if you get a lot of "fake" callups requesting spares. Do it without arguing and you could have got rid of me in 5 minutes, not nearly 2 hours of multiple phone calls and disturbing just about EVERYONE in the call center. Or just make sure your damn beds have all the parts in them before you send them out!

Customer service is an expense, of course it is, but it's like product quality. You can only skimp so far before it costs more than it would just to do a decent job. Some of the best companies in the world are small, independent companies that have trained people on the end of the phone and can handle anything you throw at them in a handful of minutes. If your customer service department spends half its life fending off angry customers trying to do something in particular, work out a way for those customers to do that, or make it so they NEVER have to do it, and then you don't HAVE to fend them off.

I've had technical support departments for dedicated server hosting REFUSE to tell me what they can actually do. All I needed was a query about installing a Linux update (which said it specifically COULD NOT be installed remotely, yet the server hosting company wanted to make me install it and then refused to install it for me). They actually REFUSED to say if they could reboot my server, or change my password, or anything else. What sort of service or support is that? None, because I cancelled my account (against their minimum days notice period) the same day and let them sort it out by letter at great expense to themselves. Just what exactly did all the costs they poured into support get them for that? Angry customers, a cancelled account and a lot of paperwork and hassle.

Or the phone company that INSISTED it must charge me every month for the next 2 years for a phone that NEVER arrived and a contract I never had the opportunity to sign because it was presumably in the same box as the phone, on an SIM that I had phoned up to BLOCK because it had never arrived. Their customer service was completely, 100% useless but my bank's - on the other hand - was fabulous and forcibly cancelled the Direct Debit within seconds.

"Three" spent nearly a month harassing me by phone and post before they sent a letter deciding that they would graciously "waive" those charges on that account - the account for a phone that never arrived, on a SIM I didn't have and had deliberately phoned up to block because it was suspected stolen, send second-class parcel post with no proof of receipt, on a contract I hadn't yet signed, via a Direct Debit that wasn't correctly authorised but had already taken three payments (which were instantaneously refunded by the bank and the only thing that really kicked their customer service department into action). I even offered to initiate their threatened lawsuit for them. They didn't like that, apparently. And for what? A £10 a month contract with a cheapy non-smart Nokia phone that cost about £50 in the shops. Really worth all that hassle. All I really wanted them to do was send me another SIM / phone. As it was, they'd already lost one because of being cheapskates and not sending it recorded delivery, so what exactly did they expect to gain by trying to fraudulently charge me for the next two years and argue with me about it to the extent that I got 28 phone calls in one day from them (the last 26 of which were "I'm recording this call, because I've informed your colleagues that I consider this harassment and you're unwilling to make any progress. I suggest you hang up and contact your legal department who have a nice letter winging its way to them").

Or the ISP (VNetworks) that supplied the school I work for and when we went over their "limit" (which was about 10Gb a month, I think) REFUSED to provide any better package whatsoever. They knew we were a business - they installed the damn phone lines and broadband themselves. They knew we were a school, but because we "used more data than the average home user" (their words), they cut us off. My boss tried to get on a higher package or a better deal - anything, because the school was cut off without it - and literally said to them at one point "How much do I have to pay you to put it back on?" and they couldn't do anything. They literally DID NOT HAVE any better packages or any way to deal with someone who went over their pathetically low limit except to cut them off. So we severed the contract "early", let them try to chase us for a year, when they then conveniently decided it wasn't worth chasing, and phoned up BT who within the week supplied us with 2 business lines, and T-Mobile supplied us with a couple of 3G dongles to run the network in the meantime.

Customer service is an expense for the same reason that "buying stock" is an expense, or "handling returns" is an expense. You need to do it. If you do it well, it doesn't cost much at all. If you do it BADLY, it can cost you so much that you'll never make profit. Outsourcing to India - costs less, but bad for business. Having only email support - costs less, but bad for business. Untrained staff on phone line - costs less, but bad for business.

The companies I make SURE I do business with again are those that go above-and-beyond. Squaretrade, when I broke my Kindle, offered not only to replace it under the insurance I bought (which cost £26 for 3 years!) but to instead push it through Amazon's returns department for me (and thus save me one "claim" on the insurance). Within a minute, on the same phone call, I had an Amazon rep on the phone arranging the return and the replacement was sent out THAT SECOND (it arrived before I could box up the broken one!). They also offered to replace a previous one that was also broken (i.e. YEARS before I bought one with the Squaretrade insurance!) for just £40 if I wanted to do that at the same time.

It's got nothing to do with the size of the business (small or large), or the money they make, it's to do with whether customers are seen as the enemy, or someone you can get more money from if you're nice to them. You're a fool to annoy your customers. It's like being a rude hotelier, or a lazy waitress. All that will happen is you will end up with no repeat custom and people only spending money with you reluctantly when they ABSOLUTELY have to.

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Lee Dowling
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At least he got to hold.

My brother and I once phoned a company that supplied us with a PC (you won't have heard of them, and they are now bust). They had large adverts in PC Pro, a professional website, etc. and sold us a (admittedly very good) PC. We had a slight problem with the delivery and needed to get through to them. Their phone line seemed to have no call management at all, just the BT "we're busy" tone. We realised that a busy tone didn't cost us anything, because the call hadn't completed, so we redialled. Still busy tone.

So we sat, redialling and redialling and redialling. In the end we worked shifts of 10+ minutes each, just hitting redial, waiting for the busy tone, hanging up, hitting redial, etc. Our phone bill was hilarious. We had hundreds of calls to their number, all priced at 0p. But we got through in the end (I think it took about an hour or more, I can't remember), got our delivery sorted, got the PC and shortly after they went bankrupt (which is probably why we couldn't get through!).

It was a relief when we next ordered a PC to be put into a numbered queue (why doesn't EVERYONE have one of those now?) where you're told how many people are in front of you, how long they expect it to take to answer, and can HEAR it tick down every time they reannounce it to you. But, to be honest, for anything other than an awful lot of money at risk, I wouldn't bother with anything over 10 minutes. If they keep you that long, they obviously don't give a damn. In that case, if necessary, redial, sort out the problem some other way and when you do NEVER use that company again. Seriously. Why would you ever wait that long unless you were already committed to using them, and why would you use a company that can't work out that it should call you back (I have yet to have a major company EVER call me back when it said it would, but that's not the point).

Support Customer Service, people! If a company doesn't offer it, don't use them, no matter how great their products are. If they can't be bothered to keep you as a customer, don't give them your money. Support companies that have a "we'll call you back" on their website where it texts you and a rep rings you back within seconds (Thinking specifically my Kindle return on insurance the other month where they were FABULOUS). Support companies that you get through to someone who knows what they are talking about. Support companies that have call centres with PEOPLE YOU CAN UNDERSTAND (it's not racist to suggest that they should be able to speak clear English on an English support line).

To quote Only Fools and Horses: "They might be a bit dearer, but at least they smile when they take your money"

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Microsoft: MED-V won't help you escape WinXP end-of-life

Lee Dowling
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Re: It's not like it's free.

I have to agree.

I have never, in my entire professional life running networks, contacted MS support. Licensing, yes, but not support. If you're running XP and don't want to upgrade, that's up to the user, not the OS manufacturer.

In isolated networks and systems, you DO NOT deploy every MS hotfix the second it comes out. Really. Because most of the time you end up with at least one computer that takes exception to it and blue-screens or exhibits some other problem. Sure, you could wipe machines clean every time there's a hotfix but that's literally monthly. For the months of testing that every hotfix takes to check, you are "vulnerable" anyway.

And to the average home user, or someone who has secured their network and uses the computer sensibly, there's no need to deploy every single hotfix and service pack immediately or, I would argue, at all.

So what, exactly, are you going to lose when EOL comes around? No more hotfixes. When was the last hotfix you applied? What would the new hotfix fix? What vulnerabilities are unpatched after EOL that weren't before EOL? (Hint: There will ALWAYS be some that are STILL unpatched even now, but MS just don't care or can't fix it).

If you're running the PC on an isolated network, if you're sensible about what you do to it, if you're the only user, it pretty much doesn't matter what OS or version of it you run. Hell, I still have Linux 2.0 embedded devices hanging around on my network. They are probably wildly exploitable if you can access them. But because I'm the only person who has access to them and I'm not likely to expose their flaws or exploit them, it doesn't matter. What matters infinitely more is your frontline (i.e. what sort of border security do you have?), your users (i.e. is there anyone other than you, do they follow established procedures, do they have rights to do things that might be dangerous?), and your productivity.

For work, yes, XP looks like little old now but, to be honest, we've held on BECAUSE we were hoping that a viable alternative would appear before XP was put to rest, but that doesn't seem to be happening so we may have to accept a loss of productivity on our next upgrade. The fact is, though, that our users aren't malicious (just stupid) and our borders are secured and permissions are locked down (which cures most stupidity). And even with the most up-to-date computers in the world, the same viruses and malware would still get through if a user is stupid enough to click "OK" on a security message. Sure, you *COULD* exploit the machines at the moment if you were seriously determined to do so but almost certainly not remotely (no ports exposed, for a start), and not without arousing suspicion. And you'd get local admin on a machine on a network that doesn't really house anything interesting anyway for your efforts (because anything interesting like payroll etc. is segregated).

But for personal use? EOL doesn't scare me still. Hell, there's only 118 hotfixes that I haven't installed yet waiting for me (not counting IE updates, "anti-malware", etc.) on my main computer when I go to Windows Update.

So MS support for my own personal machine means precisely zip. I've never used their support channels (which are universally worthless), only their free online knowledgebase (which is only occasionally worthless). I've got their automatic updates turned off and have had for years (too many cases of "It said it was applying updates and now it won't boot" coming through my door over the years). The cost, to me, of a full, remote compromise of my personal XP machine is about the equivalent of a hard drive failure of that same machine. Reinstall from clean image, block off the entry route that caused the problem, carry on. The probability of such happening is rapidly approaching zero (15+ years of verified virus- and malware-free computing despite never once owning an antivirus or antimalware product). Thus the comparative "risk" is so near zero that it doesn't matter.

But, hell, I've got a decent firewall on the network and OpenVPN-over-WPA2 on the wireless (which blows visitors minds!). If you can get past that to send packets to a machine or make me click on a link, it pretty much wouldn't have mattered WHAT I had anyway.

It's a question of risk analysis. Most business have held-off on Windows Vista / 7 / 8 because the money they spend may never result in a productivity or security increase at all. Now they are being "forced" to upgrade, they reconsider and stick to their decision for yet-another-year. When EOL comes around, they will reconsider again. If your risk analysis says you must move, then you would have done years ago (e.g. I would hope banks and large corporations had moved or at least moved to secured, virtualised instances of some kind by now). If your risk analysis sees no gain, then you won't move until it DOES see a gain. And, eventually, people will move off XP - just because it can be tricky to support on new hardware, if nothing else.

But if MS *really* wanted you to move off XP, Metro would come with an option to universally disable it, the start menu would still be present in 8 in a "classic" mode, and other literally-two-minute changes to their code would have people moving across in droves. They're not particularly interested in you moving off XP at the moment, for some reason. They are more interested in getting you onto their cloud services, it seems, into annual contracts, their app stores, etc. If you are going to move only to not use that junk then, for some reason, they don't want you at all. At least, that's the impression I get.

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Lee Dowling
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Re: I walked into Ford the other day....

Nobody's asking Microsoft to provide the equivalent of SATA drivers for Windows 98. They are asking them to continue to support an existing OS with the capabilities it was released with. There's a big difference between a security patch, a patch to circumvent a crash and, for example, a patch to add USB 4.0 support to XP.

If you notice, almost all the "drivers" for Windows XP now are not Microsoft ones any more. USB 3.0 machines, SATA controllers and those with integrated graphics come with chipset drivers from the manufacturer and nothing much works until you install them (i.e. you get VESA video modes via the standard MS drivers and no USB / SATA until you install the specific drivers).

Nobody is expecting MS to push out fabulous functionality and top-end hardware support for XP. They don't want the Aero or Metro interfaces (that's part of the problem, really, and why they're still on XP!). They're asking not to be left in the lurch when there's a security problem.

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Lee Dowling
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In terms of business - we stuck on XP because it works and works the way we want. We can turn junk off. We can make things easier for our users (don't get me started on domain logons and kids). We haven't used IE since Firefox became viable (version 3/4?). It works on the oldest and the newest machines and works the same across the board and can be imaged easily (i.e. byte by byte) and moved to other / replacement machines. It doesn't cost the earth in annual renewals, or anything else MS want us to move to.

In terms of personal use - I stuck on XP for the same reasons, and also because it runs all my games. I have a 7 pro licence sticker stuck to the bottom of my last laptop that came with it. It seems it would run 99% of my games if I could be bothered to go through the hassle of install and setup, but then so does the XP install. The XP install on that laptop has run through at least 4 machines in its lifetime and still works perfectly, so there was no need to install 7 when the laptop broke and I bought a new machine (oh, and my 7 license is locked to this particular machine should I ever decide to use it!). My office suite is LibreOffice. My browser is Opera. My IM is Pidgin. My programming/IDE is MinGW and Eclipse. Pretty much the only thing keeping me on XP is games. But the preferable alternative is *NOT* Windows 7 or 8 unless it has to be.

I'm not currently willing to sacrifice my games, so Linux is out, but if Steam pull their finger out and do what they promise (i.e. Steam on Linux, and at least *most* of my games), Windows Anything won't see my personal machines again. My "other machines" (i.e. old desktops etc. that I use to do various things) are all Linux already, because they don't need to (and in some cases couldn't ever) run my games anyway. I don't get why I'd pay to put Windows on them, or go through the hassle of setting up Windows to be "just right" when they do everything I need them to do and I could just image them from one of my already-working installs (some of which have gone through 10+ distro major version upgrades in their lives).

The problem that Microsoft has is partly self-inflicted by their IE-lock-ins, licensing schemes (especially for small education), costings and changes and partly just plain apathy on the part of their users. I don't care what the OS is underneath so long as it does what I need to, and I can install it when necessary. 99.9% of the time that means Linux wins for me, and I have one "main" machine that's on the easiest, cheapest, most "moveable" OS that runs my games - namely XP - for just that reason, gaming. And, nowadays, if you're not a gamer, you can do 99.9% of things EXACTLY THE SAME using a decent Linux setup (I'm not counting Ubuntu's new interface which seems to have caught Windows-disease and keeps getting in my way while trying to "help" me).

Hell, most people on Windows that I see use Firefox or Chrome for browsing anyway. Most people are perfectly happy with LibreOffice (especially when they are told it's not some stupidly ridiculous price more than their laptop, as is common nowadays). Over and above that, it's a matter of hardware support (pretty much sorted nowadays) and gaming.

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MYSTERY as six people SURVIVE deadly VAMPIRE BAT BITES

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Vacination program

For a short time.

Immunisation is not a cure-all. It really isn't. And immunisation proves this by requiring "boosters" and doctors still giving treatment even if you are immunised. All immunisation does is expose you to something VERY SIMILAR to the thing they don't want you to catch, but without the part that makes you ill, and hope that you build suitable antibodies to combat that over time. So when you find the "real" virus in your blood, your body has a blueprint ready for how to cope with it.

Flu vaccines, for instance, are becoming regarded as ineffective against the latest flus and do not provide any guarantee that you won't get even the flus they do immunise against.

All mass-immunisation would do in this case is force the virus to mutate even faster than it would naturally, because it would have no suitable "hosts" for its current incarnation and any mutation would likely survive because it's NOT immunised against. And then you're back to square one after having spent billions.

Rabies is also zoonotic, meaning it passes between animals so you have greater chance of successful mutations and future reinfection, and complete immunisation is impossible.

How effective is immunisation?

"After vaccination campaigns throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, the WHO certified the eradication of smallpox in 1979.[3] Smallpox is one of two infectious diseases to have been eradicated, the other being rinderpest, which was declared eradicated in 2011."

Two. Thirty years apart. After billions spent and decades of research and immunisation. How old is smallpox? About 10,000 years old.

How long have we been trying to cure rabies? Since 1885 or before.

Immunisation is only "the answer" when something is prevalent, easily spread, devastating, and you're willing to spend billions on it. Rabies isn't. Smallpox **killed** hundreds of millions in the 20th century. Rabies affected a few million, most of whom sought treatment early enough to survive. It's just not enough of a priority to bother about. Just keep away from dogs (97% of rabies cases from dog bites) if you can.

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Higgs boson chasers: Now only 1-in-300 MILLION chance we're wrong

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: The chance of being killed by a shark...

The problem with the Monty Hall problem is that it's SO counter-intuitive, it's almost unfair to ask it if you know the answer.

There was an American genius who published the question and answer in her newspaper column a few years back and invoked outrage from mathematics professors and all manner of "professionals" who should have known better - literally 100's of them wrote in to complain that the answer was wrong. It was embarrassing, especially because she was RIGHT, and it's one of the classic problems in probability and has been published, proven and known about for hundreds of years. And any statistician or other probability specialist should really not only be aware of it, but be able to prove why or - at the very least - run a simple simulation to provide themselves with anecdotal evidence which will corroborate the answer before they even LOOK at an equation.

Everyone wants to just say "It's the same chance - you still only have two doors so it's is still only 50-50 so switching or not makes no difference" and it can be quite hard or even impossible to explain to people why that's not true (the answer lies in the fact that your host has "prior" knowledge of the doors and aids you by opening a particular door that they had to KNOW which one had the booby prize behind).

I tell you now, I would never have got it right first time even if someone had thoroughly grounded me in probability and told me it was a "tricky" answer. And that's exactly what I'm talking about. Don't mess with the affairs of probabiliticians, for they are subtle, and stand a better-than-average chance of winning.

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: The chance of being killed by a shark...

Actually, the Birthday problem is more like (and the wording of the question makes a VAST difference to the answer here!):

How many people would you need in a room to ensure that there was a 50% chance of two of them sharing a birthday?

The answer is surprising, even when you know it.

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: The chance of being killed by a shark...

But you're working with a sample size of 7 billion. What you're saying is that if we repeated the experiment 7 billion times, "just" one in 300 million is insufficient to describe certainty. And you'd be right. But that isn't what this says.

This says that, for any one person, observed on any one particular day, the odds of being killed by a shark / being the Higgs boson are 300 million to one. So it's the chances of you, in particular, personally, now, getting killed by a shark. Which is vanishingly small, even if you're swimming at the moment.

Don't try to interpret probabilities without (at minimum) a maths degree, or some sort of probability / statistics speciality. Because one you have a maths degree, you will realise just how dangerous it is to put your toe into probability without understanding tiny, minor differences that the human mind is built to see as equivalent when they can produce WILDLY varying results.

I refer you to the birthday problem, and the Monty Hall Problem. Even if you understand them, or have been shown them, would you really have been able to spot them on your own and get the answer right first time without any help or hints among a sea of mathematics? Chances are that you wouldn't have. And the tiniest change to circumstances makes every probabilistic calculation just as fraught with danger.

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Slim debut sales for fatter Nintendo 3DS

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: part of it is about price I think

Personally, for me, it's more like £200 = a shedload of games on my existing PC.

I don't see handheld gaming as anything more than a short timewaster on the train, or for kids. But now kids tend to have "their own" laptop, of some fashion, or you have a phone for those half-hour journeys that not only plays games but connects to t'Internet too.

I don't think I can seriously consider a gaming console until it's under £100 any more. My Wii wasn't, and I bought it brand-new. And I got a Linux-based handheld gaming machine (the GP2X) for much less than that several years ago that's still doing just fine and runs more than any commercial console ever could via emulation of older systems. £100 is a lot of money. That's multiple trips to the cinema, half-a-dozen full-price DVD's or PC games, two or three "blockbuster" title video games, enough petrol to get my car from London to Scotland, etc.

I don't see that it really compares well to say that yet-another-iteration of a top handheld console (without some of the essential gadgets or any really sizeable library of games to play on it) costs twice that. Granted, there are different use cases, but I can get a half-decent laptop by the time you've kitted out a new DS with a couple of games the seemingly-"vital" second analogue stick, power adaptors, cases, etc. Hell, my employers saw an Android tablet that I bought my mum and was so impressed they bought me one for work and I could *easily* get 2 or maybe even 3 of those for the price of this console (or one loaded to the rafters with pay-for games and apps). My phone didn't even cost that and it does a whole lot more, just without the fancy 3D effects (Have they died yet? Can we forget about them again and resurrect them in 20+ years like we normally do?).

I think Nintendo are very business-savvy, but I don't think they are in a growth market any more. Casual games are too prolific, "serious" games are too powerful and expensive, the middle ground is being pushed by all sides on all manner of platforms.

I own a Wii because it's a cool, cheap little thing to pull out when friends are over for ten minutes and they''re not particularly gamers but want to relax and have a laugh (but, saying that, we choose to play an 1970's board game last time they were over). I haven't owned anything "console" prior to that since, well, probably the Super Nintendo when I was a kid. Yet I play hundreds of hours of games - sometimes too much - and we're not talking AAA titles at all, or ancient things from old platforms that nobody's ever heard of, just some cheap, fun games to entertain.

£200 is a lot of money and always has been. If you don't think you'll get that value back (i.e. you already own a DS of some kind, etc.) then it's probably not something you'd be interested in. The Wii, you get your money's-worth in entertainment (at least, virtually everyone did). To me, though, that should be a GUARANTEED 200+ hours of entertainment even if I just buy stuff I already have on Steam wishlists and the like. Yeah, I'd pick up a lot of dross too, most likely, but the pricing would mean that it wouldn't matter - I'd still get my value out of the money. I don't see me getting that out of the DS and one game, personally. And even if I did, it was a hell of a risk to hope it would happen with one particular game.

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Cloudy emails up in smoke for FIVE days after fire knackers Giacom

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Or, really, it's closer to:

"We can't run services from our backup site because it's a poor copy of the original site and only there so we can say we have 'redundant' services with 'mirrored' data."

The fact that it's a BACKUP site and designed for JUST THIS CASE, when the primary goes down is - apparently - neither here nor there.

It's like saying that a copy of the Facebook database put on a laptop and connected over a 56k modem is a "synchronised copy" across multiple redundant sites. Technically, yes. Realistically, stop talking rubbish.

If your SECONDARY cannot take over from your PRIMARY, it's not a backup, redundant or mirrored. At all. No matter what capacity issues you may fabricate.

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'Ex climate sceptic' Muller's latest BEST stuff is the worst so far

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Gosh. That took long enough to debunk. I was waiting for it and it must have taken AT LEAST a week since I'd heard these claims.

I still fail to believe that people don't grasp one of two things: a) we need proper, independent, research into the whole issue and have it peer-reviewed beyond the point where it's plausible to still prove it as junk, or b) we need to say "we just don't know" and carry on with that as the official line, rather than try to publish a conflicting absolute once a month and tailor government policy to whatever one works for them.

Sorry, I know that both options will probably pretty much kill windpower overnight and get us installing a single nuclear reactor to take over their ENTIRE percentage of energy production in the UK, but if that's what has to be done, it should be. It might also give a kick up the bum to certain "environmental" programs like shipping off our "recycling bin" contents to China to be landfilled, claiming that an electricity provider giving a single energy saving lightbulb to its customers is actually doing ANYTHING practical (or even that they are the people who should be leading the charge on energy saving when it directly hits their bottom-line to do so, and we end up with infinite half-hearted "action" to maximise their profits), or any other nonsense.

We probably ARE warming the planet faster than if we weren't here. It probably WON'T affect anything. It probably pales in comparison to what will happen when the Earth next hits any sort of ice-age cycle, atmospheric cycle or any other of the natural corrective measures that turned it from uninhabitable rock to a fertile gaia and maintained it as such for hundreds of millions of years. We almost certainly CAN'T to anything to avoid that or fix it without basically doing just as much damage to the way we live as the scaremongers would have us believe were going to happen "before 2000" back in the 60's. And there are other, much more pressing, problems - like avoiding the end of oil production (not for energy, but as a resource for materials) - that should really be taking priority first over a theoretical, can't be agreed upon, immeasurable, politically motivated discussion like the global warming one.

Can we please stop faffing about and a) work out a way off this planet, or at least start heading that way while we still have the materials to do so, b) stop the arguments and switch to nuclear before we are FORCED to do so at much greater expense and after having burned all the natural resources, c) work out some way to "gold-star" decent research via an internationally agreed set of criteria (including independence of political influence, verfication of massive peer review, and ability to revoke such status) and only base government policy on things that have already been gold-starred for a decade or so.

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Virgin Media nukes downloads after SuperHub 'upgrade'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Why oh why

Because not everyone got the bad hardware and not everyone gets the bad service.

I've had them for 4 fours now, they were in the place I moved into for 5 years before that. They consistently provided phone and Internet connection for all that time to the point that nobody (including many previous tenants, my girlfriend, and later me) bothered to change to anyone else.

This is coming from someone that hasn't used a BT connection since 33.6k modems were in fashion and worked with PlusNet exclusively for years (until they were taken over, but I still hear good things about them) purely because I wanted the high-end of technical service and didn't really care about download speed so long as they were honest and fixed problems quickly and didn't have many problems to fix. Hell, the first guy I ever spoke to at PlusNet on the phone (literally, the guy who answered) was able to take off interleaving on the ADSL connection when I mentioned I was experiencing latency on my SSH sessions and he knew all about it and fixed the problem in literally seconds.

In my whole Internet life at home since I was at uni 15 years ago, I can count the number of Internet connection outages I've personally experienced on my fingers, most of them to do with home moves and/or BT. Before that, I was on BT because it was all my parents would allow because they didn't want my brother and I to "play with the phones" (but were happy for us to tie up the only phone line from 6pm to midnight EVERY SINGLE DAY back in the modem days!).

My previous move, 4 years ago, I moved from a PlusNet broadband account that was about 10 years old to the one that was in the flat I moved into with others. It was Virgin Media. I dreaded it. I work in IT, use it for all my entertainment, and the connection needs to be GOOD for me (especially if I'm sharing it with others). We didn't even have TV on the package back then because we had no TV licence, and the modem looked like something from the NTL days. Barring one minor incident, years later, with a PPV movie (Serendipity before anyone jumps to conclusions) cutting out half-way, I can't really find any fault with them. We had an old 10Mbps cable modem for years. Then they gave us a set-top-box for the TV only. Then they put us on a 30Mbs wireless router a few years ago. Still no problem.

Then I moved again recently and I *TOOK* that Virgin account with me to the new house. The date was fixed in advance. The installers turned up on time. They ran brand-new cables to the house (which was previously BT and Sky, I think). They drilled a nice, neat installation. And the installers *insisted* on giving me a SuperHub. I'd heard all the rumours and tried my best to avoid it like the plague. They insisted to my girlfriend that I had to have one, despite me having a 30Mbps router and an equivalent package. I got home to find a SuperHub installed. I put it straight into Modem mode, connected it to my own wireless router, it's been flawless ever since (so I don't even have the article-stated problem either!).

I wouldn't TOUCH them if it wasn't for their service. I would literally change supplier same-day. I still have a BT-supplied line active in the house (an automated BT woman talks to me when I pick it up but I have no line-rental on it or anything), I have 3G connectivity to transparently handle any interim installation so it really wouldn't bother me to ring up any ADSL supplier and get them to activate that other line to replace Virgin. My TV has Freeview, we have an old Sky box and satellite dish cabled into the house next to the TV already, and I have the Virgin Media STB separate from the Internet. I can literally change any component over to any other supplier within minutes or, at worse, a few days and still keep my existing connection running until I'm sure I'm happy with the new supplier. I don't. Because Virgin have given me absolutely ZERO reason to, as of yet. And I'm someone who has a mental blacklist of things like restaurants and companies that screwed me over 10+ years ago and I refuse to touch them or their subsidiaries ever again.

I hear the scare stories too, but I don't have the same experience. I've moved several times, darted around London, and never really had a problem with them. Maybe, just maybe, what you hear are the vocal minority and your own experiences whereas, actually, they're not that bad at all (whether in some areas of the country, or some packages or whatever) - certainly no worse than anyone else and INFINITELY better than anything I've ever had through BT (despite the fact that PlusNet are now BT-owned, they still do a better job than plain BT offerings, or so the people who used them on my recommendation years ago still tell me today...).

I honestly could not find anyone I would want to activate that old ADSL-capable line I have running into the perfect socket position on the wall, just ready to go, and a small stack of old ADSL / ADSL2+ routers that I have preconfigured for my network from my old houses. And there's no reason to even look because I don't have a bad experience with them.

9
2

Freeview EPG revamp set for September

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Good...

Yes, it does make you wonder why, in 2012, we're still having to memorise channel numbers which change every few months whereas we could just give the channels a NAME (a unique identifier and a "pretty name"), have no particular order (except maybe "time of creation", so BBC -> channel 4 stay roughly the same), and then let use use whatever short-code we need. If they want to change the channel name, we don't care - it will have an unchanging unique identifier that we NEVER need to see and our TV will still recognise it if it changes name, frequency and ordering and put it where WE want it to go (if anywhere!). No amount of jiggery pokery on the providers end will break people's scheduled recording or channel lists, and we can even use, say, a "Sky-compatible" number set if we so wish on our Virgin cable (so channels DON'T have to publish three different channel numbers, one for each TV service!).

It's like phone numbers. The categorisations are worthless about a month after they change them (because 07 is also used for things that aren't mobile phones, cost more, etc.) so why bother categorising the numbers except, maybe, by price - 0 so you're not dialling internationally, next digit determines price 0-9 meaning, say, free-phone up to 90p per min and then X amount of numbers depending on when the phone was activated (hell, personally, I'd make your last digit a "checksum" digit so the local exchange can TELL if you've phoned a valid number and/or correct single-digit mistakes automatically like ISBN barcodes can, so you get less wrong numbers and it "knows" if you've dialled a complete number yet or not).

And when they need to add new numbers, ADD A DAMN DIGIT TO THE END of the new numbers so NOBODY has to change numbers at all (or, better yet, charge providers to discourage new numbers being necessary). We have digital phone infrastructure now - use it!

The 7-digiters keep their numbers and the 8-digiters (which could be cleverly pre-planned before 7-digiters were issued so they can NEVER clash just by one mis-dialled number on the end) get new numbers - as many as currently exist until they exhaust all those and the 9-digiters get the same again. "Can't do it"? Strange, then, that emergency numbers and the operator are 3-digit numbers, most text lines are 5-digit short codes, childline is still 0800-1111 etc. etc. etc. so you're ALREADY doing it and the amazing digital telephony network just handles it just fine (and, let's be honest, soon most people won't be dialling a number directly ever).

It's 2012. I should not have to learn magic numbers that keep changing. Did your programming teachers teach you nothing?

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Chip and PIN keypads 'easily fooled' with counterfeit cards

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Fixing ALL the fraud only costs about $10M, so why don't they?

I'm not the AC above but:

- Get a free automated text whenever you make a card transaction, detailing the transaction. Most European banks do this.

- Allow longer PIN's. Most European banks do this.

- Disallow any and all forms of NFC on cards.

- Remove all information from the magstripe of the card and disallow any transaction *ANYWHERE* not performed through a C&P terminal. This stops lots of the "let's send these numbers to Russia and take out the money there because they don't have C&P"-style fraud, which is still very common. Also, homogenise international card networks so I'm NEVER required to ONLY sign for a transaction just because I'm in a different country even though I have a C&P card.

- Have the card terminal, when queried for a transaction, provide you with a image of the cardholder's face from the bank's central computers. Fake the card/number and there's no way to get around this - you get the picture that the BANK has stored as the cardholder's face. If it's a different person, the retailer is contractually obliged to refuse/report the transaction (e.g. even if they are in league with the customer, if the CCTV shows someone else used the card, the bank doesn't pay out).

- Have the user be presented with an image of their own choosing when they use their card, with instructions to reject any transactions that don't show them their image (as a pseudo-effective-measure against fake "proxy" terminals - when was the last time you saw where the card-reader cables actually went or were allowed to audit the shop's security procedures to see you weren't just typing your pin on something an intern knocked up from Maplin's bits?)

Just off the top of my head. Not saying that fraud will go down to zero, but the bank's really aren't even trying and in some cases aren't even as secure in one country as they are in another!

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Is it so hard

A lot of European banks do this. My girlfriend gets a SMS from her bank every time she uses her Italian credit card, for instance.

Simple, cheap, effective. Almost makes you wonder why the banks over here (even the SAME banks) choose not to deploy it. Obviously they are making FAR TOO MUCH money to care about it and/or their "Chip-&-Pin pushes responsibility for fraud to the retailer" policy is really too profitable for them.

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How do you measure up at the Olympics?

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Accuracy

Is it just me that loses interest in a sport once a fraction of a millimetre or a thousand of a second is quoted as making ANY difference whatsoever?

Formula One is BORING. The rules make the driving, overtaking and even start dull and a loser is literally a fraction of a second behind the winner. Who cares? Baseball averages are stated to four decimal places. How ludicrous is it to place one player above another because of that sort of difference?

Similarly, the first sub-ten-second 100m, or four-minute mile, that was an achievement. Since then, the 0.01 of a second isn't at all interesting. Hell, it's swamped by things like wind direction, the "graveliness" of the track or anything else that varies out of control of the runners.

Even the high-jump records, measured in centimeters, have barely changed in nearly 30 years, but at least you can clearly *see* a difference even if you're measuring using your Homebase Extendable Tape Measure.

A sport is not just there to be "fastest" by a fraction of a tiny part of a second. It's there to watch, to enjoy, to participate and to test the athlete, not their team of scientists and the local weather.

We changed the rules on table-tennis so that games are faster and balls more easily visible on TV, we change the F1 rules all the time but still make it so the restrictions place everyone within a second of each other. Why can't we change some events to be actually interesting to watch again?

When timings start getting to within hundreds or even thousandths of a second and nobody beats a record for 30 years (and if they do, it's literally by the smallest unit of measure possible), can't we just make it more difficult, to distinguish the athlete from the person who ran when the wind dropped slightly or who experienced a tiny slipstream effect from the guy in front, or who has a slightly less frictional swimsuit? Sure, it means that records aren't consistent but they aren't anyway - the 1984 100m runner wasn't wearing what the 2012 100m runner will be, or subject to the same rules or even weather.

Some of the field events still hold up under their own rules, but can't we just say "Okay, you can use whatever methods you like - get to the end of the track faster than everyone else" even if we have to run each runner/car/bobsled individually? Put some life back into the sports? Make them interesting to watch without having to wait for endless photo-finishes and laser-accuracy to tell us who won?

Is it any shock that the most popular sports with the everyday person are those that make it OBVIOUS who's won with nice, integer scores/times/records? Even there, we have calls for goal-line technology. You know what, if it's that hard to tell if something critical has happened, make it more obvious - like a physical mechanism that has to flag if something has occurred and is perfectly binary (i.e. basketball - either the ball goes inside the hoop, or it doesn't - not "did it touch the fraction-of-an-inch we hoped it did).

Make sport fun again. Make it something people can play and watch and KNOW who won and not have to rely on myriad judges and technologies to tell them.

And while you're at it, bring back the oddballs, and the fun, and restore the amateur element back into the Olympics. Eddie The Eagle is still one of the most memorable athletes ever.

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12

Schneider moves into Cisco's Olympics crib, dims lights

Lee Dowling
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: You cannot control that which you do not measure...and vice versa.

So, basically letting your electricity company survive a brownout by cutting off their customers at the time of a brownout? What problem have you solved exactly? Power savings? No, you were browning out anyway so there wasn't enough power to do what you wanted to. Angry customers? Yes. Hot buildings? Yes. More expense on infrastructure, generators, UPS backups? Yes. More environmental impact from all that extra equipment required in every tower block owned by a different company? Yes. Under-funded electricity network? Yes.

This isn't a "saving" for anyone except the electricity companies failing to provide adequate peak-time supply (which is something that I wouldn't want to encourage at all, and a severe problem). And that's more to do with planning than actual investment cost because they the National Grid already has capacity enough (and MUST have, by a significant margin, should anything go wrong) - it just takes a while and a lot of planning to fire it up at the right times.

And the end point is - people have their HVAC on for a reason. They are hot, or cold. Cutting them off isn't being responsible for your customers (who will resort to, for example, gas heaters, plug-in electric heaters that aren't monitored, or even fire-hazard paraffin burners for heat). And the first old lady that dies of heatstroke / exposure / having the wrong socket switched off at the wrong time (e.g. life support, etc.) and who's going to take responsibility? The building? The electricity company? The National Grid? And having all that equipment (including, what? Going to diesel, UPS, etc. like datacentres and hospitals ALREADY DO, but at significant expense elsewhere?) is going to be expensive, take more energy (so no longer "power-saving") and be worse environmentally.

We already have occupancy-based lighting / heating in most schools that I've ever worked in. We didn't need a smart grid to do so, and it's still a pain in the backside for edge-cases (i.e. teaching sitting at desk last thing at night to get reports done and the lights go out because he didn't move enough, going back and forth between rooms when moving heavy furniture and waiting X seconds every time the door opens before you can safely carry on walking into the room where X can be 20+ if the lights are flourescents or energy-saving). And, actually, you have to have a system monitoring all the time to decide to turn the lights on, which may not ever recoup enough energy on idle areas to warrant replacing a single switch (which, when it's off, incurs ZERO energy use).

I'd like to see what happens in a "smart" building the next time there is a heatwave or a cold snap. Do we suddenly just get to cut people off deliberately now, because they are using the product that companies claim to be supplying, against their will, without notice, for unspecified lengths of time and then just point at the T's & C's and say "Tough luck, matey"? Can't see you retaining customers for long with that sort of attitude when it comes to a utility. And how long before people start to wire the A/C into the lighting circuit to circumvent it?

It's good for companies that sell smart systems. It's good for companies in the infrastructure / monitoring business. It's good for the electricity companies with poor planning and/or extreme cost-saving. But it's not good for anyone actually consuming the product, or environmental issues, or "power saving", or National Grid provisioning. At all. In any way. In fact, it's a cost, a hassle and a downright danger in some cases (starting with privacy issues and escalating to more dubious scenarios).

And that's ignoring the fallacy in "Load shedding can bring power savings since the electric provider often reimburses the building owner for their cooperation through lower electrical costs." - it doesn't provide power savings at all, maybe cost savings and ONLY to the building's owner. Which is unlikely to ever be passed on to the consumer at all and would be on the order of pence per decade if you used the current electrical supply reliability as a base.

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

I'm a sceptic here.

The reason I plug something in is because I want it to consume electricity. The reason I put a light on is to see. The reason I put the heating on is because I'm cold. At which point am I required to suffer for the sake of energy efficiency? Just how many people leave their TV's in "eco" mode all the time compared to how many want to view the damn bright TV they bought based on the picture quality they saw in the store?

Now, of course there is some waste - people leaving lights and heating on and leaving the room, but no amount of computer intelligence can tell you why they did that. Maybe their room is fricking freezing and the budget for heating is separate to the budget for repairs despite their protests? Maybe they are going to be back and forth a lot. Maybe they have wedged to door open so they can see to change the bulb that blew in the other room.

Even on a larger scale - if you turn off motorway lights at night, yes, most of the time you save. Because it was always such an inherently wasteful exercise to have them all night. But beyond that, if you don't turn the lights on, you might as well not have them in the first place and have cars use their power to supply light. You'd save more by knocking the lights all down, disconnecting them from the grid (and thus removing lots of cable loss) and melting them down for cash. They were on, not because we couldn't put a strip in the road and only turn on when they detect that a car is approaching, but because the cost of switching them on/off all the time and installing and maintaining the systems to do so (and the associated strains on the power network) cost more than just leaving them on.

As soon as you scale city-wide, the problem worsens. More controls, most of them idle or never switching (because the area they monitor is just that busy), more data to process, more cables and installation to handle them all, more tough decisions to make, and more people affected by a "global" decision that has nothing to do with their demands/uses/personal habits. Good for Cisco. Bad for everyone else.

Personally, I find even "traffic management" the bane of my life. I actually plan routes to avoid traffic lights and clever management systems (and whoever thinks traffic lights on a roundabout are a good idea should be shot). If the average switching time of a traffic light sequence is 30 seconds, say, I have to multiply half that (the average time I'll wait by arriving at a random time) by the number of lights I go through. Soon it adds up to the point where I actually get to work quicker by driving down backstreets and residential roads, over speed humps, through width restrictions, past speed cameras, and through twice the number of roundabouts to get to a motorway that goes miles out of my way to loop back towards my destination later. I actually use less fuel, less emissions and arrive at my destination quicker on on the same time (on average, of course), but I am working AGAINST every traffic management measure that exists and not improving the situation for anyone else.

The "intelligent" traffic management at South Mimms this morning kept feeding more and more cars onto a grid-locked roundabout despite having signals at every entry and at four points on the roundabout itself (and police cars on scene for over an hour). There is no reasonable explanation for that, no matter how removed from the jam you are when you analyse the data. An intelligent system would have blocked all the entrances in seconds, kept the roundabout on green and then fed in cars from entrances one at a time only when it was clear. Larger queue on the motorway for the exit to the roundabout, but a chance of actually NOT ending up in a deadlock situation. And nobody breaking down due to overheating just on their way off the roundabout blocking EVERYONE else, and no horrendous amounts of traffic fumes to crawl one inch forward every five minutes.

I don't see an intelligent city. I see a large contract for a sensor manufacturer and infrastructure companies. An intelligent city would build a larger damn motorway, extra motorways, underground motorways, better public transport, provide incentive to work from home, etc. Similarly an intelligent energy monitor would flash up "support nuclear fuel, scrap all the wind turbines".

It's an exercise in looking busy and spending money on a problem that could be fixed in a year or two by enforcing an unpopular decision.

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Sysadmins! There's no shame in using a mouse to delete files

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

In terms of computer *administration* (i.e. running networks, etc.):

If you use only CLI, you're an idiot.

If you use only GUI, you're an idiot.

Because each provides ways to do things safer, faster or more efficiently than the other. Hint: Repermission all files dated 12th of June, 2012, filesystem wide, so that user X doesn't have write access to them any more. You can do it in both, but one way will work better than the other depending on your experience and familiarity with the system. Now try to select 20 essential files out of 2000 by going through them and opening them up and assessing their contents. Similarly, just dragging a folder with Gb's of data to copy it is often a nightmare of needing to be in front of the computer till the bitter end (Ten minutes into the copy: "Are you sure you want to move this read-only file?" Yes to all. Ten minutes later: "Are you sure you want to move this system file?" Yes to all. And if you don't answer, you can wait forever and the copy will never complete). Not to mention the performance comparison between doing that via CLI and GUI. But, equally, I wouldn't want to manage an group-policy-like structure without a tree-based, multi-panel graphical app with help text.

An admin who uses only one, all the time, doesn't have enough experience of the other and is wasting time and/or risking accidents that could be avoided the other way. This is *why* I whinge when MS (and now Ubuntu) tries harder and harder to hide the command-line from me on my personal machine too. There are some things that are either a) not possible, b) not sensible (e.g. "mv" versus an undo-able drag-drop) or c) plain inefficient when it comes to using just one method of issuing commands.

And how, precisely, would you set up a GUI so that someone familiar with "sed"/"grep"/"awk" syntax could create the complex rules necessary for some tasks in the same amount of time? You wouldn't. I've run entire schools off sed and grep commands that are pages wide, something I'd have to write a graphical program specifically to do if I wanted a pretty button that did the same.

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LG, Samsung, Sony: Smutty Smart TV apps turn us off

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

And my previous TV was also a radio receptor, edge-detector, integrated teletext and subtitles decoder, decoded sound into multiple-channels, set its time by the teletext signal, etc. etc. etc.

Your argument into absurdity is what's necessary to display a signal given to it and show that content reasonably conveniently, the same way that SCART has quite a complex protocol to turn on devices and set them recording, inform TVs of widescreen vs 4:3, selects from composite or RGB source, etc. even if no-one is aware of it. By the same argument, no laptop screen or monitor or even an LED display ever made has been "just" a display device either (they do just the same kinds of decoding, especially with HDMI / DVI) - you're just being petty.

They are inherent features of the device to display the content thrown at it over a certain cable. An app is not. That's a utility that GENERATES content. I don't need content generators. I have a multitude of them, and have done for decades. I need only a content DISPLAY. In fact, the dumber the display, the better because even things like HDCP can cause nightmares.

The sound, fair enough, but that's just a pedantic argument against the TV "only" being display. Technically, my TV does not need speakers at all, correct, but there's a difference between being a device that GENERATES sound and one that plays it. Again, this TV only plays what I throw at it and nothing more.

The TV is a presentation device. It does not need to generate or interact with my content. The content generation can happen on any number of other devices and my TV should not be aware of how the generation occurred. It should just play the damn thing I tell it to.

And, actually, with a Freeview / cable / Sky / Freesat box, the TV does not need to be aware of MPEG at all, in any fashion, whatsoever. Again, the Freeview box is the content generator, the TV is just a display device. And, in terms of image / sound processing, you've again hit the nail on the head. I don't want it to do all that, thanks. My content generators output perfectly valid images, I just want it to display them. The first thing I did was turn off all kinds of "black enhancement", "film mode", "game mode", "fake surround sound", "vocal volume enhancement" etc. tweaks that it's capable of - to be honest, because I hate the TV *trying* to compensate and making things look worse, or I couldn't tell the difference. A dark scene is a dark scene for a reason. If my content has quiet voices, no amount of tweaking will make them reliably louder than the background music. If I have only two speakers in a living room that it has no idea of the layout of, and I'm not an audiophile, surround sound from the 2 TV speakers is a waste of time.

By comparison, a "smarter" TV wants to connect to the Internet (and thus steal bandwidth from things it should not take priority over). It wants to run apps. It wants to do things in the background. It wants to reboot to update its firmware. It wants to have things popping up over my TV. It wants me to use an overly complex EPG. It wants me to configure a wireless network. It wants to allow people to use Bluetooth / Wifi remotes. It wants to record me on camera so I can change channel with a gesture, or "login" via a face. It wants to listen to my living room for voice commands. It wants to run yet another version of Skype that I need to keep updated if I do connect to the Internet and which I have to turn off when I don't want to be disturbed. It wants to pull in my Facebook updates and show them to me over my content. It wants me to navigate endless menus and desktops to negotiate on those features.

These are all things that I have to work out how to switch off and brings me back to the original point - I already have plenty of content generators, plenty of complete general-purpose COMPUTERS to manage. I don't want ***another*** sitting in my living room standing between me and my content being shown. I just want it to do EXACTLY and ONLY what's it's told. Here's a cable. I've pressed "Source" to change to that cable. Now show me what's being played down that cable and then get everything else out of my way. I honestly have stowed the TV remote in a drawer. The Virgin Media remote that I use in its stead only knows five commands it can send to the TV (and thus only five things the TV *EVER* has to act upon): Power, Volume Up, Volume Down, Change Source and Mute. Which is exactly how it should be.

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Exactly what I've done. It took me until this month before I was willing to let my old 4:3 CRT go. Bought a "dumb" 32 inch TV, bought some right-angle adaptors and appropriate cables, run everything off other boxes instead.

I don't WANT another computer to manage. This was my reason to avoid smartphones until Android matured enough for me to consider it worthy, avoiding fancy TV's, etc. I just want the TV to turn on, switch between inputs, change volume, and then turn off again. It's a display device, nothing more.

I suppose the restrictions are more along the lines of fearing that the headline "malware infects thousands of smart TV's, pushes porn to kids" might appear. Or even just your personal viewing habits being revealed by someone who touches a button on your TV. A TV is more a communal device than something like a smartphone and could cause a lot more trouble.

A TV is just a display device. If it's not, then it's not a TV, it's a computer. Thus, purchase and operate accordingly.

You'll pry my multi-port SCART/composite switch-box and aerial-in from my cold, dead hands. But apps on a TV? Sure way to get me to not buy your TV. I did a quick survey the other day and found I have at least five ways to watch BBC iPlayer on my TV via various devices. I really don't think I need another, and that's about the only legitimate use for an app on a TV I can honestly imagine ever using.

3
1

Build a bonkers hi-fi

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Refreshing ...

I would hazard that your friend is probably perfectly happy with her choice of music and audio reproduction setup. That it's not to YOUR taste and you want to impose those beliefs on everyone else is YOUR problem, not hers.

Sure, when she has a party with 50 friends, she'd probably prefer to stick her music through a £100 hi-fi with speakers for volume if nothing else, but apart from that, she's happy with it.

This is the problem I have with audiophiles. If you want to throw away thousands of pounds because YOU (think that you) can notice a difference. Do it. But don't tell me that I need to do it too.

Truthfully, anything more than an MP3 through some laptop speakers and I honestly can't tell the difference except in volume or in ways that playing with the treble/bass settings would compensate for. 100%. I sat for HOURS in the later DOS days when it took that long to encode MP3's and computers could just about play them back in realtime if you had MMX, etc. listening with young ears and I could not tell the difference. I don't sit playing all my computer games thinking "Oh, horribly squeaky and degraded MP3" whenever there's a sound effect or background music because I honestly COULD NOT TELL - most of the time I'm so engrossed in the game I wouldn't notice anyway (and if the game audio was that convincing that I lose myself in the game, who cares?). And most of that stuff was digitally prepared from the very start.

Don't tell your friend that she needs to buy X amount of equipment. If it bothers you, YOU do that bit. She's probably quite happy with what she has, like 99% of people who play music (I don't know anyone who has an hi-fi any more - maybe an iPod docking station of some kind or some 20-year-old amplified speaker setup with copper wire that's been nailed through, painted over and caught in the cable clips all that time, with speaker switches they found in the loft and wired themselves - and nobody seems to notice).

Yes, to me, things like HD TV are also a waste of time. So I don't touch them if I can avoid it (I have an HDTV now, but I have no HD content except for BBC One HD etc. and I never bother to use them in preference to standard SD). But if someone WANTS to throw their money away on tat that they think they can notice, that's their problem, not mine. I *can't* see/hear a difference. Most people can't. Accept that fact. And 99.99% of the time that people listen to music, they are not in an acoustically perfect chamber - they are in a street or a noisy car or at home doing the washing up or whatever. So bothering to make things "perfect" is a waste of time. It's like saying that your friend was trying to show you what the Mona Lisa looked like but what she showed you was a photo on Wikipedia rather than the real thing. If you honestly can ONLY look at a perfect original replica to judge if you like something or not, you're never going to be happy (and, thus, why not tell her that?!).

I honestly DISABLE or AVOID: HD (except if putting a PC screen onto it, which have been HD and NEEDED it for pixel-for-pixel accuracy on GUI's since the 90's, but I don't care what I watch a movie on), anything more than stereo (Dolby? Off. Less speakers, less cables, no difference to me), advanced audio crap (my laptop outputs stereo from a headphone cable, with nothing else, despite being 7.1 Dolby Home Theater and all-sorts, with SPDIF output), any sort of "performance-enhancing" hardware (cables, connectors, specialist A-D convertors, etc. - my sound card is whatever-was-built-in for the last 10 years and I don't even know what make it is any more).

Just accept it - 99% of people do not care. You do. So either tell them to stop subjecting you to it (which, I will tell you, makes you seem like an elitest ponce), or deal with it not being a perfect reproduction because nobody else notices the difference at all. And then we can all go on enjoying our lives.

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Fake sandwich shop's big fake Likes leave Facebook looking flaky

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Let me clear it up for you.

Facebook isn't worth several hundred million.

You will not stop spam.

People, even real people, liking something on Facebook (or any other site) means nothing for your sales, whatsoever, in any way.

And "likes" mean even less if you can't "dislike" on the same site too (7,000,000 likes may sound wonderful but how many "dislikes" would they get and what proportion of each?).

Most worrying in the article is the assumption that a) things like this don't happen elsewhere, b) things like this aren't already happening and have been happening since there was a system worth gaming and c) things like this can be stopped. It just suggests a very naive author, hoping to provoke some reaction.

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'O2 customers could try switching their phones off and on again'

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Switching it off and on again...

I think the point is that nobody SHOULD need to do that. If your system crashes and can only be fixed by turning everything off and on again, you haven't "fixed" anything. You've just restarted the system. The same problem is still inherent to that system.

It's like saying we could all just have avoided all the Y2K issues by not running the systems during the switchover. Maybe. But that's not the point.

Computers should NEVER reboot. Especially in the modern age of phones being computers, computers having extreme standby and hibernate modes, etc. A reboot is a sign that something, somewhere, is wrong with the system. Reboot "solves" one problem (the user regaining control of the system) but not the cause.

Anything that recommends me to "reboot" something, I immediately sigh and don't do it. If rebooting fixed it, it won't fix the problem, only the symptom. I have Linux servers with 600+ days uptime. Because you don't NEED to reboot just because your ADSL router changes, or your DHCP server goes down for a while, or a runaway script causes problems. You just manage the PC, ask services to reconfigure themselves and carry on - no reboot needed.

Anyone who tells you to "just reboot it" is only interested in getting you off the phone. Not fixing the problem.

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Rovio chucks up Angry Birds successor, hopes it will fly

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Er... again, you could do that back in The Incredible Machine. DOS days, people. Maybe it's easier to share them but not exactly a killer feature (and I can tell you that it's hard to create one of those levels if you actually expect your friends to be able to solve it, a lot harder than it looks).

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Yeah, but those kind of games are ten-a-penny. I have at least three or four just on my Steam account this second.

Even Angry Birds is really just a souped up "Stair Dismount" physics, or a tank-clone (the game where you shoot little bombs at tanks over random hills - went on to inspire everything from this to the Worms franchise). You could literally write an Angry Birds clone in an afternoon with Box2D or similar free physics engine. The chances of it being as successful as slim and NOT because of any quality issue.

Rovio got lucky (and why do I confuse them with Roxio?) with an app that was nothing particularly special but happened to catch on just as people were starting on touch-based smartphones en-masse. The chances of them getting lucky again is slim, especially given previous "successes". It's a bit like the PopCap games: lots of junk and then they release a couple of blinders that you can't put down (despite being Pinball / Boggle clones) and they are suddenly worth millions (and get bought out by EA, IIRC). Then silence for years afterwards and a slide into obscurity.

Rovio will probably make money by riding on the coat-tails of Angry Birds for a few years but they really need more than a 60p clone of some tired old genre if they are to keep up. You only get lucky once in a million times so being lucky twice is incredibly, incredibly unlikely.

But, to be honest, if I was in their position, I'd have probably milked it for all it was worth too - knowing that one day it will be a distant memory and they'll never be able to hit that salespoint again no matter how much they throw at development.

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1

Can neighbours grab your sensitive package, asks Post Office

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Either that, or:

Open your fecking post offices so I can collect parcels outside of working hours (and not have to queue all day Saturday to be in with a chance of actually getting it before it gets sent back).

- The sticker idea is daft.

- Neighbour deliveries ALREADY happen.

- I have had parcels go walkabout despite everyone claiming they were delivered and signatures being given (just precisely who's to blame for that we never got to the bottom of, but I certainly won't pay for anything that doesn't arrive so this is at the risk of the sender, as always has been, and currently is, the case). Surprisingly it's the high-cost obvious items that go missing and not the Christmas scarf from Aunty Doreen.

You're merely formalising what you're posties ALREADY DO. I've had post shoved through the door breaking the letterbox, I've have recorded delivery mail posted through a letterbox (with the postie's signature and the card!), I've collected no end of parcels from my neighbours (sometimes up to three doors away) for Royal Mail and anyone else.

But what's INCREDIBLY annoying is that the only alternative is to miss the damn parcel and have to go collect it from any number of delivery offices up to 5 miles away through London rush-hour traffic to fit within the half-a-minute window between me leaving work and the delivery office closing or queueing for hours to get parcels that have been put back on the delivery vehicles for redelivery WHILE I WAS QUEUEING and are now getting their third "no answer" while I'm trying to collect the damn thing.

Your entire business revolves around me getting something that someone else has sent. So if I'm not in during the day (and "nine-to-five" is so popular it's a damn phrase), you either need to redeliver at night or allow me to collect from a local office. If you can't do that, playing games and bothering my neighbours actually HURTS me, because they will soon stop taking in parcels or pretend they are out instead of letting me bung up their hallways during my Christmas spending season (where I can't go out to the shops because of work, so do online shopping instead all of which gets delivered WHEN I'M WORKING! GRRR!).

Amazon solved this problem. They (indirectly) employ an army of ordinary people with cars who deliver Amazon parcels out of hours. Best postal service ever. And then I look at what the Royal Mail has become and cry.

Seriously, people. Start competing, but don't start by formalising what I've seen as normal practice in the Royal Mail for the last 20+ years!

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1

BlackBerry App World hits 3bn downloads, 27bn more to go

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

My employer just scrapped all their Blackberry devices and went Android instead. We got Samsung Galaxy S3's, cheaper deal, and they are being reported easier to use and more intuitive amongst the users (most of whom have iPhones or Android already anyway). And we don't have to deal with the abominations of Blackberry Desktop, outages because all the BB email goes through one central server somewhere (Reg article about a year ago), or anything else that troubled us with BB.

And my boss reckons he can virtually pay for half the Android's initial cost just by selling off the old RIM handsets (which isn't bad, considering how long ago they were bought). Blackberry don't really offer anything special nowadays, not compared to any other smartphone. They got complacent and let the "non-business" phones stroll past them.

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Apple 'fesses up: We broke App Store downloads

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: I had a bet with myself...

If you made a bet with yourself, wouldn't you ALWAYS win, one way or the other?

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Samsung: World LOVES our chips 'n' mobes – expect a record quarter

Lee Dowling
Silver badge
FAIL

Shame, then, that I just spent 3 hours with my boss trying to figure out how to download a Samsung app to control a brand-new Samsung TV from a Samsung Galaxy SIII.

In the end, we called their app-store support line only to be told that you can't. You can use an older phone (even non-Samsung Android's), but you can't run their headline app on their headline phone with their headline TV.

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2

BT broadband packs up again - second big outage in a fortnight

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Irony

It was in the reserved local subnets, yes. But more importantly, it wasn't our assigned static IP so I spotted it because of that, if nothing else!

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Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Irony

We're a school with 380 pupils, we have 2 BT lines here, both were knocked out simultaneously (as in, died before Linux could spot a dead route). So our load balancing / failover of them didn't help any (I know it's not proper failover because it's the same exchange but one line is usually always up when the other is down - and, yes, strange disconnects at 5-to-9 and 6 am aren't unusual at all, so much so I have text-control of the ADSL router's power so I can reboot them remotely if we need to VPN in).

Fortunately, we have experience of this (despite being so close to the exchange, I could lend them some Ethernet cable and get a better connection) so we have the same 3G stick that provides the SMS text reception also stuck into the Linux server permanently and failover to it manually when we want to. Costs us about £2 for the day on T-Mobile or whatever but works good enough to run a school off with appropriate caching and certainly better than nothing.

We also saw the 172.0.0.0 subnet address and the usual junk (i.e. getting the right IP but can't do anything with it in some kind of "dead" session, etc. - hence why we have the remote-power-cycle system in the first place).

But BT service status said "next time for resolution: 15:00" at one point so I didn't wait for them to try to resolve it. Seems to be fixed now, but my boss here just moved locally and he has the same problems constantly with BT too.

Weirdly, on PlusNet, I never had an outage in nearly 10 years, and certainly never for longer than a router-reboot, and didn't get these kind of constant disconnects (lucky if we get 48 hours before one of the two routers needs to be kicked again) or false IP's when it did come back up (wonder how many home users are still running on a 172 address that doesn't route now and will be until they reboot their router?

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YouView launches with pricey premium DVR

Lee Dowling
Silver badge

Re: Content

1) Samsung TV is brand-new (2012 model), only £50 cheaper than a "Smart" TV of the same size. Don't have the model number on me here. It has networking, DLNA, 1080p@60Hz, 3 (or 4) HDMI, etc. It's just not "Smart". And it's still not even plugged into Ethernet yet, as mentioned.

2) Upscaling of content is otherwise fine - given any non-SCART source, it works perfectly and shows a clear image. All 4:3 and even 16:9 SD channels show perfectly fine. But external 4:3 sources look like badly encoded YouTube videos.

3) Digital HD source? Obviously perfect. But that's not my point. I would have been sending the damn thing back if it didn't. But side-by-side with a CRT of MUCH less price when first bought (and 25+ year old technology inside it), it can't show SD content on anywhere near the same level from the same source / cable / connector as the CRT. Doesn't matter how you cut it, that's just shite, and this wasn't bottom of the range by a long shot (hell, they're still selling "new" 1366x768 TV's as "HD Ready"). And funny it only skimps on non-HD, external sources and not, say, any 4:3 SD Freeview channel (yeah, odd that - nothing to do with wanting to make old SD equipment look bad while not annoying people who've bought it to use Freeview?).

4) Picture tweaks required are ludicrous. Colour bleed, huge saturations, contrast, brightness, everything I could find. From a decent DVD player, it can honestly look like you're playing a very bad, multi-recorded-over VHS. You can make it look okay by tweaking EVERYTHING, but you shouldn't HAVE to. It handles the same content perfectly when that's broadcast and the same content perfectly if I play it from a laptop. Not my fault they don't bother to apply their super-smart auto-colour-adjustment to the analogue source too (even after the digital conversion REQUIRED to display it on the digital LED screen!). 32-bit A-D convertors are ten-a-penny in the TV industry now. And, some shuftying about shows that playing that content through any other (even £5 cheap) HDMI source that can play analogue content over it (and thus using the cheapest A-D convertors imaginable) makes it work just fine

5) HDMI vs SCART - really? That's the entire issue. I'm not upgrading every bit of hardware when every TV for 30 years was able to show things from SCART without horrendous colour bleed and blurriness on technically INFERIOR displays. The detail is IN that signal (old TV's have no problems showing it) and the TV has just been designed not to show it, even though it's capable of (and does) a lot better on other sources that come in the same. It's "let's make SD look bad so people buy our HDMI / HD junk instead".

6) 4:3 / 16:9 is a solved issue with this Samsung. Not found something that it doesn't change correctly at the right time. So it's not that.

7) The size of the screen? I deliberately bought one which, when displaying 4:3 centered content, would have the exact same physical screen size (but obviously higher resolution) as my existing 4:3 CRT (which took a while to come along at a decent price, I have to say, and one of the reasons I took so long to upgrade!).

8) The USB DVB device was a KWorld device that Maplin's sold off cheap a few months ago. After a quick look, I don't think they have them any more, which is hardly surprising. I used it for a while last week before my TV arrived to see what channels I could get (and play with PIP and DVR of some HD streams). Dunno about Linux support because it hasn't yet made it to the Linux server with my CCTV cards in it, but I've seen Linux mentioned in the drivers CD, etc. It may have been £25, but it was certainly stupidly cheap.

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New UK network touts FREE* mobile broadband

Lee Dowling
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Re: The law?

1) They don't need consent from both parties. I can tape an entire telephone conversation without telling the person the other end. It's just considered polite. And RIPA only affects state investigations conducted across everyone, not singly-identified private individuals signed up to companies they've permitted to do things (or else all Google ads would also fall foul - they are reading my email just the same, and without the other parties explicit consent!).

2) They don't need a copyright licence if their terms of use grant it to them automatically. You used it, you agreed to their T&C's, hope you read them carefully. Same way that the copyright on my Google emails allows them to store them and scan them for viruses and advertising keywords.

So, please, stop talking rubbish until you have a clue what you're talking about.

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Did your iPhone 'just stop working' - or did you drop it in your BEER?

Lee Dowling
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Re: They've done this for ages, haven't they?

I was thinking the same thing.

Hell, Mythbusters once showed you a little sticker they bought that detect excessive G-force and goes a different colour so you could track what happened to your shipped items, etc.

I fail to believe that this patent is actually novel at all. Are you telling me that temperature-controlled and other monitored shipping doesn't already have things like this anyway? My first thought would be medical and chemical packaging companies, given what can happen to some things if they've been sitting in water.

And, honestly, even modern silica gel goes pink/blue when it has accrued water (but you can dry it out to return it to a clear colour, which is obviously not useful here).

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