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* Posts by Paul Stockwell

16 posts • joined 17 Mar 2008

Brits are bored with mobile broadband

Paul Stockwell
FAIL

Not fit for Purpose

I have been using the Vodafone system for some time and had no end of problems.

Their network connectivity is poor, even in the centre of Basingstoke (which should have proper 3G by now!)

Their support is completely geared to Phone customers and does not recognise the phone numbers assigned to dongles.

One PAYG dongle they sold me uploaded its software into my PC which ran then happily announced it was not compatible with the dongle it had been loaded into.

I frequently spent more time trying to get the Dongle to work properly with Windows XP than I have online. I know XP is receiving Euthansia from Microsoft at the moment but 1000,s of notebooks with XP loaded have been sold and these are natural partners to a PAYG dongle and will be in use for a few years to come at least.

When you can get it to work it is useful but the uphill battles...

Even adding credit to the thing is very difficult dueto a website problem at time of writing. All in all Vodafone should make Huawai iron out the problems properly, work on its web and phone support and return to the market with a properly sorted product. Give me a job and I will sort it out for them!

Calling their suport from a non-vodafone phone is no doubt also expensive but after this experience I am definitely not interested in any of thier voice products.

A pity really as it is a potentially useful product - if they sort the bugs out.

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One fifth of humans say aliens walk among us

Paul Stockwell
Alert

The Puppet Masters

If Aliens are among us what are their intentions? In Robert Heinleins book (filmed as invasion of the body snatchers) it was an invasion. In star Trek it is a helpful visit from annoyingly helpful starfleet types.

If Faster than light travel is possible and the ship can go to another Star in a reasonable voyage length (sa 3 Months) then all the star Trek style ifrastructure will exist.

If however the speed of Light is a limiting factor then voyages will take decades, probably centuries so the aliens will arrive after possibly several generations and with a ship that has been worked hard and probably needs a complete refit if it is to carry on to another star. In such instance a desperate crew might

Disguise themselves as humans and try to settle among us

Try living in a concealed colony in some inhabited part of the earth

Conquer the planet and displace the existing dominat lifeform

Given their likely numbers the invasion by stealth is more probable than a frontal assault on a race of violent humans equipped with atom bombs.

Maybe we aren't paroniod maybe they really are taking over...

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Stats Agency savages Brown over immigration claims

Paul Stockwell
Big Brother

What about EU Member States

There is another bit of Obfuscation happening here.

This time it is probably within the rules and a matter of omission rather than lies.

Most of the measures to control immigration concern non-EU immigrants but even the briefest survey of the public will reveal that the nationalities they are most concerned with are eastern Europeans from new EU states and therefore entitled to come here and work. The Polish are the stereotypical scapegoats for this.

Thus when the Government (or any politician) presents their latest fabulous plan for immigration control they can mumble something about ‘non-EU’ as a disclaimer and get away with presenting this as a solution for a problem that is not really addressed.

The press need to get on top of this and stop letting them get away with it – or press them on what they are doing about EU workers – most likely nothing as they are limited by treaty.

Mind you we could go to Poland and work with equal ease.

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Times websites want £1 a day from June

Paul Stockwell
Big Brother

Surely theres a perfectly good existing Model...?

Perhaps I am a bit slow here but Google seems to do very well out of paid for links and advertising and surely the times online can do the same?

This seems to be the currently favoured internet model and while we may not all be totlally fond of Google they seem to be able to afford to try taking over the online world using that revenue.

Advertising is nothing new to the Times either, originally the front page was entirely adverts!

Will it be a success? Depends on the yardstick you use for judging as some people will undoubtedly subscribe but with all the free news out there anyone prepared to do a bit of searching can get their news, even if the Conservatives do shut down BBC web. That would be stupid though as whatever we think in the UK loads of people overseas use the site and it inherently does get a UK point of view over.

But the Guardian website has become one of the most read by not using this model so overall this just seems like a desperate attempt to hold onto the 'good old days' when people brought newspapers and paid for news

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FCC approves radio mast 'shot clock' rule

Paul Stockwell
Go

Play Safe - Put the Mast on the School

The radiation from a phone held up to the ear is always going to be many times greater than anybody will get from a mast, unless they climb it and put their ear in contact with the antenna. DECT and similar cordless phones have substantially higher outputs than most mobiles so not using mobiles does not protect you if you use cordless handsets...

Most masts and handsets use adaptive power control so if they are close to each other and getting good reception they both reduce power. Thus the safest place to have the mast from a child's point of view is on top of the school building.

Most of the mast signal will pass overhead and whats left will be attenuated by the building's structure

The child's own mobile will operate at minimum power reducing their exposure to the minimum (provided they are on the network using that mast of course!)

The mast itself will be at minimum power when the kids in the schoolyard talk to it.

The school gets income from the mast provider.

The UK could do with listening a lot less to the NIMBY's before they manage to turn the place into an open air museum, they have turned planning processes into farce not only on mobile sites but anything that looks like a useful bit of contruction. It sounds like the US is going the same way.

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Barclaycard drops offline

Paul Stockwell
Coat

Verified by Visa is worse

No surprise there then.

Their verified by Visa scheme is even worse. Even after I looked up the password I hadn't had to use for six months their website crashed taking the insurace company website with it. Phoning them took 12 minutes to get a response. I could literally have driven to Northampton and seen them in person quicker...

Eventually I managed to get through paying for insurance when the card went throught without verify by visa interfering. I am changing accounts to get rid of Visa's inept security precautions as soon as I can find a bank that doesn't use it...

Mines the one with cut-up Barclaycard in it.

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Schneier says he was 'probably wrong' on masked passwords

Paul Stockwell
Alert

Do Away with Passwords

Passwords are a pain in the nether regions and frequently made too much of. I have a 4 digit PIN on my ATM card, but a more complex password for this site!

All a long complex password does is makes sure the user writes it down as they won't remember it. Changing passwords once a month as on many corporate sites doesn't help, it always prompts when the user is busy and they will think of something easy just to get the thing to work again.

I think Handle's idea of the tick box will help, at least we can see if we typed the thing properly but what is really needed is to replace the whole idea, maybe a standardied fingerprint interface so we carry our biometric ID with us is an answer, one that chacks blood is flowing to avoid amatuer amputations!

Whatever the solution eventually adopted there should be a better way than having to try and remember complex alphanumeric strings that often seem in inverse size to the importance of what they protect.

I feel a Killer app coming on here

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'Get cameraphones out of nurseries' plea

Paul Stockwell
Stop

How do you not get a Cameraphone/

This is another example of Political Correctness going Mad.

Cameraphones make up such a big chunk of the available market that NOT getting one is difficult. i had to work on some defence sites a few years ago and the only phone that had bluetooth (and could work my handsfrree) but did not have a camera was the Nokia 6021. Fortunately the MoD seemed pretty relaxed about them so i went and got a cybershot.

There is only one example of a nursery worker abusing their position this way so why inconvenience the rest? If somebody is intent on taking pictures of this sort they can surely smuggle in a decent digital camera and do a better photographic job?

maybe it is a market for stripped out & obselete phones?

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US lawmakers to de-silence electric cars

Paul Stockwell
Jobs Halo

Not the first time this has been done

This has come up before in the US. During the 1930's a chap named Abner Doble built some remarkable steam-driven cars that not only could hold thier own easily with modern traffic but were so silent that were required in Califonian state law to carry what amounted to a UK football rattle rotated by the front axle so pedestrians could hear them coming!

The technology he pioneered went on to be incorporated into various railcars and the Sentinel S8 Steam lorry as well as domestic steam boilers and is worth a look. The cars were very well engineered and most still survive.

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Tazzari specs up UK-friendly electric runabout

Paul Stockwell
Thumb Down

No Use for the School Run

Because its not driven by enough wheels (4WD preferred)

Its less than 6 foot wide

Weighs less than 3 tons

Has a ground clearance less than 8 inches

Doesn't scare the bejesus out of normal car owners

Isn't Black

Doesn't have tinted glass

Won't survive the driver pulling away from the kerb into the path of traffic without looking

If you live in London you choose between the vehicle described above and buying new roadsprings every four months due to the profusion of 'sleeping policemen' everywhere. On a recent trip there I was given a lift in a 4WD and realised why it was so much more suitable than a normal vehicle.

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In the ditch with DAB radio

Paul Stockwell
Coat

Kill off the White Elephant now!

Time to kill the white elephant methinks.

There are over 50 million vehicles in the UK virtually all of them having an FM radio in them. the chances of upgrading this lot to DAB are nil. Since the average car lasts about 14-16 years now (how many K,L, and M reg cars do you regularly see) FM demand will be there for quite a while. Trying to kill it off is more likely to get this working group killed off. Thats ignoring all the DAB owners who can't get a station, the commercial operators who have written it off and the 6 radios per household.

The sensible thing to do would be kill off this white elephant, do the ritual enquiry into why all this taxpayers money was wasted in the first place and implement a decent infrastructure to make RDS announcemnts actually useful for drivers, far cheaper than big illuminated signs and expensive telematics systems and the whole motoring population will use it because they dont read car handbooks and womnt be able to figure out how to turn it off anyway.

Will common sense prevail?

Mines the one with the telescopic aerial sticking out the pocket.

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TomTom ships Go x40 satnav series

Paul Stockwell
Stop

Program the Satnav Properly

The first comment is yet another one from somebody who doesn't know how to program a satnav. If you select the shortest route option that is exactly what you will get! Being a computer the satnav will ignore a motorway for a single track road that is 3 miles shorter, or route you up a farm track to save 100 yards.

If you select fastest route it will select motorways as highest priority, dual carriageway & A roads next down, then B roads and only go single track if that is physically the only way to cover the last 100 yards to the destination. Pretty much how many of us plan journeys I suspect. In local areas local knowledge will triumph every time, though it is amusing to use it anyway and listen to it get cross as you ignore its directions. Its also useful practice on how it will operate when the motorway is closed and you have to detour (when they can really come into their own)

Its also worth bearing in mind that most satnav maps are based on ordnance survey maps, as the name suggests these are intended for the military. They do not discriminate between metalled and unmetalled roads (for practical purposes neither do tanks & military 4WDs) Hence if you are in a area unknown to you using an Ordnance survey map it is perfectly possible to end up on a farm track without any electronics!

As Andy Parsons said 'Satnav is a gadget, you are supposed to use your brain'

Reading the manual can be pretty useful as well...

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DfT rounds up Road-Pricing 2.0 contractors

Paul Stockwell
Alert

Electronic Tags Won't help.

People who take part in trials are volunteers, real people cheat. Electronic tags will be even easier to steal or clone than number plates. If somebody steals your number plate from your car its glaringly obvious to a Mk.1 eyeball that its missing. If an electronic tag goes its absence might not even be noticed until the police pull you up for not having one or you get a massive fine through the post.

They could also be sabotaged and the damage passed off as accidental - its difficult to get around for very long without someone noticing an 'accidently' damaged or missing number plate.

Police won't be much better off. Money will have to be found for reading technology to be issues to them. They already have eyeballs and can handle normal number plates just fine.

Another commenter mentioned the problem of fitting 32 million plus cars, many of whose owners won't really want the thing. They are quite right except the actual number is more like 50 million, then there are foreign motorists and with channel tunnel etc there are more foreign vehicles on our roads than most realise. On the other hand they all have number plates and the ANPR systems can read all of them - including foreign ones.

Cloning and number plate theft can be controlled. For a start the Police have around 90 years experience of doing so and legislation in place. The only major change needed would to change the registration on any car whose plates were stolen immediately. That way any vehicle showing up on the ANPR network with those plates would have to be a clone and could quickly be rounded up by the Police. At present any enforcement involves having both cars with the plate and the Police having to check any sightings to establish which is the genuine vehicle.

I suggest anyone who loses a number plate or even suspects one has been stolen reports it right away. It could be very helpful when the speeding tickets, congestion charges & parking fines start rolling in...

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Prius hybrid to get rooftop solar panel

Paul Stockwell
Thumb Down

Car Alarm trickle charge.

Ultimately a Prius is a 1500cc hatchback that is very heavy. The hybrid bit distributes the power from that engine, maybe marginally better than a conventional transmission. Drivers on the A34 have been quoting about 38 MPG, about what you get if you drive a 1500cc car sensibly. In urban stop-start driving the hybrid bit should come into its own a bit more but ultimately the engine still has to do all the work to push it along the hybrid bit changes the route to the wheels a bit.

If you could plug it in at night you might be able to make a saving using economy 7 electricity but the sandal-wearing brigade will complain that's not 'green' either. Its made really for the American market so they probably won't try a diesel version either.

At the moment too much compromise for too little gain unless maybe you are a city driver when a Citroen C2 diesel would be more economical and kind to the environment

The weight seems to affect the Prius' handling as well. I watched one overtaking a truck on the A34 and it behaved like it had sacks of cement in the boot, seemed very reluctant to change lanes and seemed to need wrestling back in afterwards as well. The rest of us started giving them plenty of room... Then again maybe people who buy Eco-cars are not good drivers...

The solar panel's real utility (if any) will come if its parked up at the airport or other long term parking when it may be able to keep the battery alive to stop the alarm going off. Ask anyone who has worked at Heathrow parking. To be fair some cars, particularly luxury models could do with some help under those conditions.

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Force listeners onto DAB by killing FM

Paul Stockwell
Black Helicopters

Kill off DAB Instead

if you want to know whether a technology is going to make it look at what the consumer electronics industry is doing. It was difficult to believe in digital switchoff while the majors were still building analogue only tellies they have to get their timing right or they lose sales. Theres no real sign yet that DAB is anything but an expensive alternative and a minority interest. In the radio world motor vehicle makers are a major factor, 2.5 million new radios a year are in new cars and aftermarket systems account for a tiny proportion of the market. Very few new cars come with DAB as standard because the industry knows it is still expensive and at the early adopter stage.

Analogue FM offers RDs and RDS TMC. So far there is no equivalent traffic info system. If that were offered as part of DAB and the content properly sorted then that would do wonders for DAB in motor vehicles.

I know RDS and TMC leave much to be desired as traffic information systems but that has to do with the availability and quality of the content - not fundamental technology problems. With most cars under 14 years old having RDS in the radio (and most drivers not reading the manual so unable to turn it off!) It still has a lot of mileage if the content provision is properly sorted out, as there is a huge user base out there.

Modern cars typically last over 15 years. Even if government policy required all new vehicles from tomorrow to have DAB as standard it would take 10 years to have a significant impact. Very few new cars have standard DAB radios this means that FM stereo with RDS and TMC has at least 15 years -if a sensible policy is adopted. Turning over 30 million radios off at source is going to be very unpopular...

FM radios are also less complex, better understood and cheaper to make than DAB and from the examples seen so far are also more energy efficient. They also offer traffic info and radio data services that can be turned from nuisance to genuinely useful if someone just gets organised. Given the congestion issues on modern roads turning RDS into a genuinely useful traffic information service as great potential for helping to manage this.

The conclusion is clear - kill off DAB. There is always CD or Digital recordings (MP3 etc.) for the real HiFi nuts, and if Ofcom MUST sell off some spectrum what about that occupied by DAB?

What's the betting they do the opposite? After all since when did the Government agenda have anything to do with common sense or with common good?

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Al-Qaeda seeks geek fanatics for Jihoo!

Paul Stockwell
Go

Osamas Production Company

Al Queda always has had good production for Osama's Video chats. He is in a family palace in Saudi and inserted into the Tora-bora pics using a set or CGI. His family have the money and the resources.

It would explain why the Americans can't find him in Pakistan and the family money and influence explain why they don't look harder. If a word from a Saudi Prince can stop the SFO in their tracks then they can certainly cool the hunt for a terrorist.

After all, a DV camcorder is small portable and relatively inexpensive in Dubai so why produce with such poor quality unless it helps conceal some nifty manipulation. Most of these look like they were projected onto a screen then recorded using an old VHS camcorder, and those are hard to find these days even here, let alone the NW Frontier!

Hollywood and the CIA are not the only ones who can fake videos!

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