* Posts by Ben Brandwood

34 posts • joined 11 Apr 2007

Apple iPad 4 Wi-Fi only tablet review

Ben Brandwood
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Re: I just got one for work

for browsing SMB shares/nas/clouds then GoodReader is all you need. Wouldn't go a day without it

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Toshiba Qosmio DX730 PC TV combo

Ben Brandwood
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The software bundle is a problem

Possibly not so much on this system, but a friend of mine bought a cheapo toshiba laptop the other day and brought it to me for fettling.

Out of the box it was broken - windows 7 is fine as plain install but with the toshiba crapware installed it took over five minutes to boot to desktop and then a further 30 mins to stop auto installing stuff - three of which then auto started and then promptly crashed, freezing the screen in the process.

If I wasn't so tech savvy I would have taken it back as broken. It took me over four hours with PC de-crappifier, CC cleaner, and Windows update to get *most* of the stuff off and it's still not quite as quick as I know it should be - but of course they don't supply the media for a clean W7 install.

Shocking.

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Psst, kid... Wanna learn how to hack?

Ben Brandwood

Great little media streamer

Get enough of a bare bones OS and XBMC running on these and it would make a lovely little media streamer!

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Where are all the decent handheld scribbling tools?

Ben Brandwood
Go

I agree with Audrey S. Thackeray

If someone could take the exact form factor and *keyboard* of the Psion 5, but put Android (or other suitable OS) on a fairly high resolution screen then I would buy one tomorrow.

Honestly, I have money in the bank *waiting* for it!

Anyone? Please? The nearest I can think of is the Asus Transformer but it's a bit big.

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Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S Android smartphone

Ben Brandwood
Happy

@ Peter

I must admit, I do get a bit ranty about the shortcomings of the original Desire. I've since played with the newer handsets like the Samsung S II and they are very nice, if not a bit big.

I do wonder if the internal/SD memory thing is a blocker for some app development though. On iOS the Rage HD game is about 800Mb all in. Clearly that won't fit on the majority of internal memories in the android world. I have seen some apps on android where you download what amounts to a bootstrap which then downloads all the assets to the SD card outside of the market - but that feels a bit kludgey to me.

@John Sims - iPhone vs Android is one of those things like betamax vs VHS or Vi vs Emacs. People will defend their choices to the end of days.

My advice:

1) What are your requirements?

2) What is your budget?

3) What is the roadmap for the given device?

Now if many competing devices satisfy 1) and 2) and 3) is not an issue, then find somebody you don’t like and buy the opposite device so you can keep flamewars up! :)

Also - have a hands on play with them, I find the larger form factors of the new androids a little too big in my hand so I can't really use them one handed, the iPhone (or cheaper/smaller droids) are much more suited. YMMV.

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Ben Brandwood
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Caches

@Peter Townsend

Oh I fully agree, there is a whole eco-system of utilities out there, and believe me I used all of them.

My point however, is that unlike the linux box you or I keep at home, the phone is a tool, people pick them up and expect them to work (just as they did before smartphones became commonplace).

So if I play the role of the "average" user, I try to install "shiny-app-2012", and I get a message "Unable to install" I might get a "low disk space" icon. Then what? OK I can see a list of applications, but it's showing that my memory card has over 2Gb free on it!

A quick google later, it seems I can move some apps to the SD card - fine but I can't move all of them and I'm still running low on space. Then what? I root the phone to make it store everything on SD?

None of this is intuitive and from a UX point of view it's a nightmare. A simple google for how to swap up to larger cards when dumping stuff onto it yields gems like:

"to swap do the following: make a nandroid + ext backup, then copy everything from your old card to your pc, put the new card in the phone, partition it in recovery, then copy everything from the pc to the new card and restore the nandroid backup. done."

Now for you or me, that's fairly straight forward, but for most people. Fail.

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Ben Brandwood
FAIL

See - this is why I went back to apple

Because of this: "On that basis I reckon the average user will get by with 330MB as long as they clean out the various app caches on a regular basis."

I've had a Desire for the last 18 months, and at the weekend I upgraded to an iPhone 4S. While I am a massive geek the last thing I want to be doing is trawling through my phone, managing app caches, moving things to different storage partitions or rooting it so it stores stuff on SD by default (which then means you can't use the "removable" storage - which most android fans seem to think is a key selling point).

With an iPhone, if I have 16Gb of storage, then I can put 16Gb [1] of applications on there. I don't have to worry.

The "average" user has no idea what a cache is, and frankly nor should they.

I'm keeping the desire to use as a work phone, after formatting it and installing a bare minimum of applications. But still....

[1] yes, yes, I know 16Gb isn't quite what you get after the OS and the 1000Mb = 1Gb conversions that they use.

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Orange Barcelona Android Qwerty phone

Ben Brandwood
FAIL

Device Encryption

I've been looking for a nice QWERTY phone to replace my work WM6.5 device. Unfortunately my organisation doesn't support Blackberry so Android would be nice (I use a Desire as my personal phone).

However the top, key issue is that Android (2.2, 2.3 etc) does not support Device/Storage Card encryption as enforced by Exchange Activesync in many organisations. So essentially in my large org, we can't use Android. The NHS which uses Exchange, can't use Android.

Bad times, so my handset choice is WM6.5 (WM7 doesn't support it either!) or iPhone 3GS onwards.

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Ultra-cheap HP TouchPads to hit UK at 6pm

Ben Brandwood

All gone already!

Can't find one anywhere!

Anyone want to sell me one :)

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Travelodge hacked, investigating

Ben Brandwood
FAIL

Me too!

I got a spam email yesterday, to my travelodge only address. More worryingly it also had my full name as the subject, which leads me to think that they have been compromised (and what else).

Change of passwords all round!

I emailed them and got a canned response saying "Thanks for your feedback, but we can't respond to all comments" I responded saying I wasn't leaving feedback, and wished a response about the security of any personal data they hold on me or I'd be taking it up with the information commissioner.

The Spam email came from (I assume false) Hotmail address, but seems to have been routed from a .ru address.

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O2 boots up boobies blocker

Ben Brandwood
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No SSL

Also noticed that the page you put your CC into is not HTTPS://

Not great O2.

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MPs' IT support costs £1.122m

Ben Brandwood

Hmmm

Assuming a generous salary of £30,000 for IT support, and actual cost to the employers is double that (i.e. heat, light, office space, NI contributions, pensions etc) that's about 20 full time staffers.

Given there's over 5,000 people who need support that's 250 users per IT guy. Doesn't sound *too* bad.

It also doesn't mention if that includes HW/SW costs, or things like data centres, hosting, etc...

I'd like to see at least a representative comparison with similar public bodies and private orgs.

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Bolle BP-10 iPhone photo printer

Ben Brandwood

Sending pics to gran

Well yes - if your gran didn't have internet/computers/phone whatever.

However this is £120 notes. If you want to send physical, hard copy pictures why don't you just use one of the many, many online print providers and just get them sent to her.... at 5p per photo that's a good 2400 photos (minus postage) for the same cost...

And all good photo management software on PC/Linux (Picassa) or Mac (iPhoto) even let you do that through the app.

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Palm Pre 2 WebOS 2.0 smartphone

Ben Brandwood

I loved my Pre

I recently bought a Pre (the original one) - I loved it, great UI and OS, lovely form factor etc.

But the quality was shoddy to say the least - in the *3* months I had it

1) Touchstone charging stopped working properly (would sit and chime at irregular intervals all through the night)

2) Slider became stuck on a regular basis

3) The two halves would twist (oreo)

4) and finally, the power button just stopped working - no drop, no noise - just stopped pressing down

Three months - I went back to my 2007 vintage iPhone which still works fine. Shame really

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Hands on with the new Apple MacBook Air

Ben Brandwood
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Didn't get a review machine I see

I love the fact that the reviewer has clearly just wandered down to the Regent St apple store and had a play around with one of the desk models :)

Shows an enterprising spirit!

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Powermat iPhone 4 wireless charging kit

Ben Brandwood

Hmmm

Looks pretty much like my Palm Touchstone for my Pre!

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Angry Birds take wing on Android

Ben Brandwood

Need portable saves

Yay for Angry Birds on Android - BUT

I already have the game on iPhone and on my iPad. What I *really* want is some way to sync my progress between versions. Either by some uniqe code or online service. Then I can play with whatever device is to hand and not worry about having to re-do levels on the stuff at home.

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Regent Street blocked by iPad fanboi swarm

Ben Brandwood
Go

Hmmm

Seeing that the pre-orders were being delivered yesterday, I've sat on my comfy soft, with a nice cup of tea, reading about the queues on my iPad

:D

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A multitasking iPad? Let's bin the netbook

Ben Brandwood
Go

Target market

I think I am in the target market for this thing. I work in the tech industries, I sometimes do techie things. However I'm a manager.

When I need to do techie things, I RDP from my desktop to the stack of servers sat in the datacentre (so I can use Informatica etc).

I also spend 2 hours each way commuting into London, sometimes I want to catch up on my emails, have a quick look at some spreadsheets, review some PDFs, update my time reporting system, or watch a bit of Enterprise that I've ripped from DVD.

All these things I can do with an iPad - and given the seat sizes on First Capital Connect or the Central Line, I can do them a lot easier than getting my 15" Macbook Pro out.

I'm not going to be cutting code on it, but then I don't cut code on the train anyway, I may need to monitor a session, but I do that already with my iPhone and RDP - and that can only be better with the iPad's screen estate.

To be honest, I can't see a reason not to get one. Sure I can't install linux on it, but I've got any number of boxes at home that do have it on - again, just a VNC/SSH away.

And to all those people who do need to do all those things... well then don't buy one. Nobody is forcing you. Perhaps we sometimes forget that the computer is a tool, for me the iPad is a tool that could make my life easier. If it doesn't make your life easier, or prevents you doing what you need to do, then there are other choices out there. What's the problem?

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Blighty surrenders to Street View

Ben Brandwood
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Amazing

Is it just me, or does everyone else find this to be a staggering achievement?

To have street level imaging available for the majority of the country, in high quality, is something that would have been a pipe dream a handful of years ago.

To have it free at the point of consumption (yes Ad supported, yes, google is evil etc) is even more astonishing.

I remember the first forays of public imaging with world wind, mapquest in the early 2000's. How far we've come now!

Wow.

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Cardiff Airport gets more security theatre

Ben Brandwood
Go

Stansted

They've got these at Stansted and actually seemed to work OK, I'd say 80% of the times that I've been they worked first time.

Much better than the IRIS scheme at Manchester/Heathrow which while it always eventually let you through, it took up to three scans - quite slow ones at that. Though towards the end they seemed to have upgraded them as scan time was quicker.

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Any uses for an old Mac G4?

Ben Brandwood

Sell it!

The 12" Powerbook is very desirable, it's practically the smallest laptop that apple ever made and is still in demand today from travelers. - Selling on eBay for around £300

You can stick tiger on it and if you max the ram and put a new HD in it'll be fine (My old 1.5Ghz G4 is running leopard fine for the missus)

New battery might cost you about £50

Lovely little machine

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What's the fastest USB 2.0 HDD?

Ben Brandwood
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Firewire.

I'm sure I won't be the first to comment, but a £20 firewire PCI card and drive would be better than USB2. I've had a host of USB2 drives and all seem to chug along at roughly the same speed.

Firewire will ensure that you run at the max speed of the the drive, and if you get a RAID solution like the La Cie raid series (http://www.lacie.com/uk/products/product.htm?pid=11140), you should be flying.

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Flying-rifle robocopter: Hovering sniper backup for US troops

Ben Brandwood
Alien

@mittfh

So pretty much the plot of Ender's Game then?

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'Faith-based' investment firm fingers holiday's most sinful games

Ben Brandwood
Happy

Well at least they played the games.

To be honest looking through the list, and to their credit, it does actually look as if they have played the games to quite a deep extent, not just a brief play or pulling their info from online reviews.

I would guess that the guys (or girls) doing these "reviews" or play throughs don't actually believe in any of the stuff they are punting, but after all, there is a demand for this sort of information, why not make a nice holiday buck supplying it?

Probably pays better than writing for gamespot!

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Internet Explorer - now with 35% less FAIL

Ben Brandwood
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Acid

Well I've had a play with it, and it seems to cope with Acid 2 perfectly (well compared with the reference rendering)

It's not too hot on Acid 3 though.. that said, what is (apart from Safari Dev 4)

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SMS costs more than using Hubble Space Telescope

Ben Brandwood

Yes but...

I suppose three points here:

1) Who pays for texts now. Given the contract bundles that I've been using for almost the last 6 or seven years, (usually 500 texts a month) means that I've not paid for one in some time

2) The market will price it's products at what people will pay. Texting is very, very popular, even at the current price point. Does it matter that the cost to transport is nearly zero? After all it costs pence to stamp a CD, but that still sells for £12 or so.

3) Cost of infrastructure, 3G licenses and phone masts aren't free..

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US court waves through border laptop searches

Ben Brandwood
Paris Hilton

What about locking yourself out.

There's a couple of options I can see here:

1) Create a dummy account, that it auto logs into, you then have to log into your "real" account

2) VMware, quite a few people at work use VMware to move between laptops, especially when they break. So the clear boot of windows has nothing on. You could truecrypt where you keep the images

On one of my laptops the client insists on having a usb token in and asks for it at boot time. What would happen if I didn't have the token (left it at the destination last time, or posted it, or whatever)? You can only *get* to the boot screen and password prompt... Is that a quick stint in Gitmo?

Paris: Coz she has more clue than airport security.

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Asus launches tiny PC

Ben Brandwood
Alert

Where from?

I've been looking to get one of these for a while, one for just general slumming around in the lounge web browsing, and one for the parents so they can have something cheap and easy to check their email on... Seems idea... But where from, I can't see anything on the Asus site..

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Adobe embroiled in War of the Fed-Ex Kinko Button

Ben Brandwood

Kinko

There used to be a Kinko in Leeds, but it closed down a while ago, never seemed to any good business...

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Soggy IT pros check in from flooded Sheffield

Ben Brandwood

My PlusNet connection went down last night.

Yep, I'm with PlusNet, but based up in Leeds, and I lost internet last night, but could have been a co-incidence :)

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Apple's Safari 3: a crashing experience for non-US users

Ben Brandwood

Works for me - ish

Seems to work on all sites I visit, been using it all day and can't get it to crash, only two issues I can see

1) Back button on mouse doesn't work

2) Doesn't seem to want to import my Firefox bookmarks

This is on XP SP2, on a corporate laptop.....

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IntelliContact hit by rebranding madness

Ben Brandwood

Hmmm, rip off?

Take a look at the logo on

www.iplato.net

Do we see a striking similarity? I think we do!

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Gov claims mobile phone theft waning as penalty rises

Ben Brandwood

Still can be used.... for a short while.

My missus "left" her phone in a taxi in Leeds the other week, and between losing it, and it being blocked (automatically, kudos to O2 and their monitoring system), the taxi driver had managed to make about £50 worth of calls to Pakistan over the course of about 3 hours.

I wouldn't be surprised if a large number of stolen mobiles were used for overseas calls (hence untraceable), before being binned.

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