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* Posts by Andrew Martin

41 posts • joined 17 Jun 2008

Nokia's Ovi store mostly unavailable and empty

Andrew Martin

Aaaaaaargh

How can Nokia get this soooo wrong. They've been making the best UIs for ever. How can they screw up the user experience so badly?

I don't want a fucking iPhone. I want my Nokia to have all those cool apps that the Apple weenies go on about. Is that so much to ask?

Having registered for Ovi, I can't even find the crappy app store. Am I missing something.

Grrrr.

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Street View nod prompts call for privacy watchdog reform

Andrew Martin

Confused

I'm confused as to which aspect of Google Streetview people want to ban.

Taking pictures?

Taking lots of pictures?

Taking lots of pictures systematically?

Publishing said pictures?

Geocoding and publishing said pictures?

None of those seems in itself objectionable. And outlawing any of them would have many unintended consequences.

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Windows 7 RC download page reveals May ship date

Andrew Martin

@Nigel

"Does anyone buy Vista by choice? " Yes. Genuinely by choice; no ulterior motive.

I'd even install it on my Mac, if I could be bothered to jump through the necessary hoops (upgrade to Leopard so that Bootcamp is available?)

Will I shell out $$ to upgrade from Vista to Windows 7? Doubtful.

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Emotional arguments do not make Street View illegal

Andrew Martin

Amateurs

Flick, Picassa, and a whole load of other picture sites have street photographs taken by amateurs. Many are even geo-tagged and searchable. I don't see a lot of difference between that and Google's stuff, save that the latter is more systematic.

Perhaps we should ban photographs from the internet, for the sake of the children.

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Privacy campaigner vows legal challenge to Google Street View

Andrew Martin

huh?

The Government keeps inventing new and novel ways to mess with my privacy. That bothers me.

People drive down public roads taking pictures of things publicly visible. That doesn't bother me.

People publish the pictures they took in a public place - for reasons of making money, or for recreational reasons. That doesn't bother me.

I'm all for defending our traditional expectations of privacy (even if some have argued that this is futile). I think trying to invent new ones is a bit of a non-starter

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Government funds IT security research

Andrew Martin

£6m

Hm. £6m to solve security problems. Remind me how much has been wasted on digitizing the Health Service so far...

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BBC botnet investigation turns hacks into hackers

Andrew Martin

"If we had criminal intent...."

Tell that to Gary McKinnon.

Besides the fact that they've plainly broken s1 (and maybe s.3) of the Computer Misuse Act, it's up to a court (or at very least the CPS) to decide if there was criminal intent ... not the programme's producer.

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UK.gov thinks internet should be run like BSkyB

Andrew Martin

Well

If an ISP charged me less provided I didn't try to visit .gov.uk or .eu, well, there might be something to be said for that deal .... :-)

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MEPs flatten roaming costs

Andrew Martin

Can't fathom the operators

I'd have thought it was in my phone operator's interest to set their roaming charges low enough that i actually feel tempted to use the thing when roaming. If they drive me to buy a foreign SIM, they loose.

On data charges: the intention of the GPS+Maps application in my phone is that I can go anywhere, and find a map of where I am. At £3 per MB, when I was lost in Athens, it was cheaper to get in a taxi than to bother firing up the maps app. The operator looses again. At £0.50 per MB I might have been interested.

The only reasonable conclusion seems to be that they want to make their money by tricking people into spending excessively (and accidentally) on calls and data, only realizing the true cost when they get home. I don't call that a reputable business model. If that is the way it is, then I hope the EU regulates them like mad; they've got it coming.

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Amazon's Kindle goes soft with iPhone app

Andrew Martin

wow

Two products I didn't want, rolled into one! Outstanding.

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Apple routs rivals in sat survey

Andrew Martin
Thumb Down

I'd be satisfied with my Mac ...

... as long as I didn't have to pay my own money for its over-priced shiney hardware

... as long as I'm allowed to install Vista on it

... and if only it came with a keyboard where the keys are in the right places.

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College IT departments told to deploy anti-terror dragnet

Andrew Martin

lacking common sense

I work in a University. I believe in freedom of speech. I also believe in freedom from being blown up. On balance, I think the former is far more under threat than the latter.

If I happened to become aware that one of my students was plotting (not sure how I'd become aware of that; but hypothetically speaking, if I did), sure, I'd tell the police.

Am I going to go out and watch them, just in case? No way.

If the elected Govt. wants to proscribe looking at certain materials online, let it try to legislate, and place a monitoring requirement on every provider of networks. Don't ask me to second-guess what's acceptable and what's not, or to enforce some supra-legal banned-list.

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Airline pilots told to switch off mobile phones

Andrew Martin

Plainly fatuous

If I thought that my safety depended on every one of the 500 people on the A380 both successfully having understood how to turn off their varied electronic appliances, <i>and</i> electing to comply when asked, I'd never ever fly.

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Mozilla, Skype join iPhone jailbreak fight

Andrew Martin

It's a free market

The iPhone doesn't have a monopoly. Many smartphones have more capabilities, after all. Let the people who like shiney things buy from Apple, and the rest of us get on with devices that are functional and not locked-down.

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Mr. and Mrs. Boring lose Google Street View tilt

Andrew Martin

hold on

I don't know about American law, but in the UK, if someone drove up your private driveway and started taking pictures, you're within your rights to ask them to leave - and to go to a court to get them moved if they don't move of their own accord. But that's about it. A right to get the photos destroyed? nah. A right to prevent them being published? I don't think so.

I'm not a lawyer, and there are all sorts of new spurious rights to privacy, but they are a novelty and not well-explored.

Why can't people stop being so precious? I'm all for not being stalked, but acting as if the appearance of the outside of your house is a state secret is really rather anal.

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Prof: Save up fossil fuel reserves to fight the next ice age

Andrew Martin

Barking

That climate change orthodoxy assumes we can plan for 100 years hence is mad enough. (Just think about developments in physics, medicine, technology, whatever, in the last 100 years). Planning for 1000 years is the stuff of mad dictators. Planning for 10,000 years or 55,000 years, well, "barking" seems a charitable word for it.

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Large Hadron Timewaster

Andrew Martin

Think of it as an employment scheme

Graduate physicists are quite cheap; a lot of the money has gone on buying airfares and PCs. Even if they don't find anything much, it's better value for money (and a general economic boost) than hosing cash at banks, say.

Of course, I'd rather the money had been spent on <b>my</b> airfares and PCs, but research in IT security is never as sexy as finding out "fundamental secrets of the universe".

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Capgemini tells contractors to bite 15 per cent cut

Andrew Martin
Go

It's the market, innit?

I thought the whole point of being a contractor was that you gained the flexibility to charge whatever the market demanded. And in return, you lost the security of being an employee.

If CG are wrong, as some posters have said, and the contractor market is in fact quite buoyant, then they've just shot themselves in the foot because all the good contractors will leave. And even if they manage to replace them, they'll have to manage all the churn resulting from changing project staff.

You've got to take the rough with the smooth. Why shouldn't CG try to maximise their profits? That's what the contractors are doing, after all. That's business.

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EC will force users to pick a Windows browser, says Microsoft

Andrew Martin
Unhappy

Barmy

I have no great love of Microsoft, and their OSs are on only about a third of the computers in my life...

But this hounding of them is barmy. It is perfectly natural to integrate the browser in the user shell. Every mainstream consumer OS does it. Smartphone OSs do it. If we're going to have an OS/shell architecture designed by a committee of Eurocrats, heaven help us.

Sure, I'd like my mother to be able to choose Firefox instead of IE. I'd like the wizzard that comes with it to be able to tweak all the UI settings appropriately. Oh, yes, it does. I don't particularly want my mother to be faced with a barrage of nonsensical questions (mandated by law????!!!) when she first turns on the computer and wants to use it. Why shouldn't she be able to delegate pretty much all of those decisions to the OEM?

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Joiku gets profit joys from unlimited mobile data

Andrew Martin

Patchy

I have an unlimited data tariff, but it's explicitly for the phone, not an attached laptop - I'm doubtful that the operator can tell (!), but I don't want to be stung by an enormous bill if they figure it out.

Anyhow, I tried the free version of Joiku, and couldn't get it to do anything useful, so I'll not be bothering with the paid version. Smart phones seem to be the way forward...

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Online campaign urges MPs to block secret expenses

Andrew Martin

Too easy?

I've never understood why MPs aren't just subject to the same rules as civil servants -- and that includes what to do if your job requires you regularly to stay overnight away from home. I'm sure there are procedures for that.

But then I remember: MPs think they're better than the rest of us.

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TV's digital dividend could be superfast broadband

Andrew Martin

Giving things to BT seems like a mistake

Auctioning anything seems like a mistake: we're all still paying for the stealth tax which was the 3G bandwidth auction.

But giving stuff away to BT to allow it to entrench itself as the local loop provider doesn't seem smart either.

And then, as the other commentors have mentioned, the available bits of the spectrum aren't that great/useful anyway, being rather geographically chopped-up, so is it really such an attractive proposition, even to a would-be fibre provider with a monopoly.

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Nokia N97 to land late Q1

Andrew Martin

@Graeme Hill

"transition between 3g and 2g when travelling between inner city and rural areas"

Hm. Walking down my hallway into my lounge (both of which are in central Oxford :-) ) triggers such a transition. And the N95 certainly doesn't play well around it.

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Deception of 'up to' broadband speeds exposed

Andrew Martin

Exactly as specd.

My ISP (PlusNet ... no I don't work for them but do get a kick-back if you sign up on my recommendation :-)) delivers what I pay for. Yes, I'm about 1km from the exchange, but the line consistently syncs at eight meg, and download speeds are consistently around six and a half.

I don't know what all the fuss is about ... I also pay a lot less for broadband than my Dad does from a different ISP, and his connection speeds are cr*p.

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Swoopo - eBay's (more) evil twin

Andrew Martin

Making money?

I sat next to a guy on a transatlantic flight recently who worked for this outfit, buying products to "auction". He was in economy :-). So either they're not rolling in money, or they despise their staff.

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Private firm may run UK spy über-database

Andrew Martin

Why stop with emails

I'm almost surprised that Jacqui hasn't also proposed CCTV cameras and microphones in every lounge and bedroom, "to protect the children". It must only be a matter of time.

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UK.gov to push Obama for tougher rules online

Andrew Martin

Badly advised?

A charitable interpretation would be to say that Burnham has some poor advisors. But whatever the excuse, this a pathetic distraction which will not add one iota to childrens' safety, happiness, or wellbeing. If his ideas were implemented, however, they will saddle everyone with arbitrary and senseless bureaucracy.

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In the ditch with DAB radio

Andrew Martin
Flame

Cut our losses

DAB was optimized to work well in cars etc. If that's not living up to the promise, it's a white elephant.

If no significant markets outside the UK are using it, the receivers will never become cheap, nor integrated with mobile phones.

DAB is, it seems, going to die a death sooner or later. So, we should have the guts to phase it out now, before anyone else gets saddled with expensive receivers (I should point out that Tesco have them on special offer from time to time, and they are almost affordable).

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iPlayer chief pushes tiered charging for ISPs

Andrew Martin
Thumb Down

Havin a larf

An extra £120 on top of the licence fee and my ISP costs? I think the BBC have lost all touch with reality.

The BBC has had its day. It should be broken up. All the technology exists to offer its content as a series of subscription-based `channels' (one for news, one for nature programmes, one for crappy entertainment, and so on). They could be offered direct (broadcast) or in the net, or via resellers. Then we'd see who really wanted to pay for its output, and how much they were willing to stump up.

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Yahoo! mocks Google Privacy Theatre

Andrew Martin
Thumb Down

what a hash

"Run the user's Yahoo! ID through a one-way secret hash and delete the last 50 per cent of the hashed identifier"

On the grounds that this is then not reversible? Hm. Let's think. How long would it take to hash up a billion recorded Yahoo! IDs and compare them with the magic anonymized ones? No, not very long, really. And if its a cryptographic hash, then the likelihood of a collision even in 50% of the bits is pretty slim. So the de-anonymization sounds pretty trivial to me.

I hope the Reg has missed something: otherwise, this approach is no better than the Google one they so enthusiastically slate.

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Rail companies roll out barcode ticket standard

Andrew Martin
Thumb Down

Batteries?

What happens if my battery dies halfway through the journey? If you're doing 3G data, and going in and out of coverage, you can drain a fully-charged smart phone very quickly...

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Virgin Media to dump neutrality and target BitTorrent users

Andrew Martin
Coat

Half Truths

Wild horses wouldn't drag me to become a Virgin customer. And I've never really found the need to try to use BitTorrent.

But those who want to argue about net neutrality and "it's just a pipe to the internet, innit?" should perhaps look a little closer at network topology and provisioning. IF all packets are equal, then it makes most sense for ISPs to charge and manage connections simply by the amount of data passing over your ADSL line. If, on the other hand, some patterns of use have other impacts on how they configure things, then it is reasonable to try to balance those things - by differential pricing, or enforced traffic shaping.

Those pictures of the internet as a fluffy cloud, with two wires sticking out from either side, marked "client" and "server" (or "peer client") are, surprise, surprise, something of an over-simplification.

Yes, service providers need to find accurate ways to describe their services, so that you get what you expect, and it doesn't change (in particular, deteriorate) behind the scenes. But to expect them to have an entirely flat charging structure is a bit like expecting the Post Office to deliver a letter anywhere in the world for a single flat price. It could be done, but a differential pricing structure is likely to suit the average user better. [note to the skim-readers: the analogy *isn't* between locations, it's between types of service]

Mine's the one with "lecturer" written on the back :-)

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Welsh Tories ask taxpayers to pick up iPod tab

Andrew Martin

Why?

I don't get why MPs (etc.) can't be subject to the same expenses rules as the Civil Service. Buying a vacuum cleaner for your office is just plain daft: getting paid for it from public funds is criminal. Surely such things should, at the very least, be public property, and re-allocated to the next MP when this one retires/resigns/goes to prison.

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Daft list names Firefox, Adobe and VMWare as top threats

Andrew Martin

Ha ha

Anyone would think the report was written by a rival vendor...

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Why the IWF was right to ban a Wikipedia page

Andrew Martin

requirements mis-match

"The IWF says that its system cannot ban individual JPEG files, though."

Since the IWF's whole reason for existing is to block objectionable images, that seems a tad surprising...

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Barclaycard follows Barclays offline

Andrew Martin
Unhappy

Huh

I joined Morgan Stanley to get away from Barclaycard, because BC's customer service was pants and their website always gave the impression of having been assembled by an enthusiastic 15-year-old. Now I find myself back with BC, and their customer service is still crap, and their web site, well, is ... sometimes not there at all.

Oh well. Time to look for another credit card provider, I think.

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Elvis has left the border: ePassport faking guide unleashed

Andrew Martin

pinheads.

"The signature itself, he points out, is a perfectly valid one backed by a self-signed certificate, and it's the check of whether or not that certificate has been issued by a bona fide authority that is absent. Yes, that music you hear is the sound of angels dancing on a pinhead, but nevertheless what the man says is true."

Angels on a pinhead? The usefulness of any signature-based scheme relies on being to verify who it was that made the signature. Anyone can sign anything: the act of deciding which "bona fide authorities" to trust is the exact analogue of deciding which countries' passports are acceptable: I'd expect the border agency to be quite good at that.

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Brits happy to hand over password details for £5 gift voucher

Andrew Martin
Pirate

Probably pants, but

The survey is completely flawed of course.

But clearly, there are a lot of people willing to give their Yahoo! or Google password to facebook, in order for it to go and interrogate their address books. And so on for a dozen other social networking sltes. There are lot of very trusting people out there.

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Qantas phone check-in to take off next year

Andrew Martin
Thumb Up

BMI do this

I travelled from Edinburgh to London yesterday on BMI with one of these "boarding passes".

It's a bit bizarre, actually: at security, and at the gate, they put the barcode under their scanner to validate it. When you get on the plane itself, the steward(ess) wants to do a visual inspection of the barcode (as well as the text part of the message). What (s)he hopes to learn from that, I'm not sure.

As Adam says, above, though, it does seem a solution in search of a problem. Tying my boarding to a plastic card already in my wallet would be soooo much easier.

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Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought

Andrew Martin

Flabbergasted

I'd heard that physics teaching was in decline in this country, but I had no idea how bad the problem was. The quality of this debate - presumably dominated by people in broadly numerate and scientific professions - really, really scares me.

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Reding would OK charges to receive mobile calls

Andrew Martin
Alert

Creative thinking

Oh, think outside the box, people. How about if the mobile phone companies offered a *choice*: the tariff you have now, or one with a local number, where you pay to receive calls. Some people might choose the latter (dunno how many: that's up to business/the market). Or you could be allowed both on the same handset, and you'd get to choose which number you gave to whom.

The smart ones might even package up an attractive VOIP offering to go with it. That's got to be the best way to deliver the hybrid home/away phone, hasn't it?

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