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* Posts by Alan Edwards

334 posts • joined 25 Apr 2007

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Virgin Media spanked for 'we've already cabled up your house' mailshot

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: Virgin Media Let Down By Tardy Staff

> you seriously decide where you are going to live based on the path of a piece of fibre cable

Internet connection speed is certainly a factor for me, I can't work from home without a decent connection. Having suffered less than 2Mb/sec ADSL at my last place before it finally got FTTC, I looked up what the likely ADSL speed was before I even looked at the new place. It would have been a non-starter if the connection was crap.

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No GPS in the iPad Mini Wi-Fi: People are right to criticise

Alan Edwards
Happy

It's in the chipset

GPS is built-in to the cellular data chipset in the models that have cellular data. Non-cellular models don't have the cellular data chips, so no GPS.

I wonder why Apple didn't put the cellular chips in them all, then charge £50 to over-the-air enable hardware you've already paid for? Same with flash memory - put 64Gb in them all, then charge to enable anything over 16Gb. They'd save because they are only building one model, they just need to be set up with whatever's been paid for on the way out of the door, and can be reconfigured on the fly.

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XBMC coders acquire TVonics brand

Alan Edwards

Re: Anything that's got XBox in it's title, I will avoid like the plague.

Yep, nothing to do with the Xbox any more. It started out as a media player for the Mark 1 Xbox, but the later versions don't run on the old Xbox and it's never run on the 360.

It's worth a look if you're after media centre software for a TV-connected PC. Better than Windows Media Center IMO, and it doesn't take the entire machine over like OpenELEC.

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BBC Watchdog crew sink teeth into dodgy PC repair shops

Alan Edwards

Yep, I'd agree. If the report was "it was working, now it's dead" I wouldn't suspect the jumpers. In trying the drive in a different machine I might spot it, but my first thought would be a drive failure (aka good excuse for an SSD upgrade...).

If they came clean and said "I installed this and it doesn't work", drive jumpers would be on the list.

I'm with the rest, I'd have made a cable half-off or CPU fan failure.

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Argos flyer confirms incoming 32GB Nexus 7

Alan Edwards
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Re: Thats all good but...

> People really want a 3G version?

Yep, I do. Saves a lot of faffing about when you go somewhere that claims to have wifi and it doesn't work or there's a horribly convoluted sign-up that wants your inside leg measurement. You just flick the wifi off and let it use 3G.

I've got a Mifi router, but that takes 30s to start and sort itself out, switching to 3G on the tablet is near-enough instant.

> two sim cards and all that nonsense

A Three SIM with a year's use (or 12 gig, whichever comes first) is around £50 on eBay.

> just use your phones tethering....

And have no battery left? Tethering can kill the (not exactly tiny) battery in my ZTE V9A in about 4 hours. That's just sat there serving data, no screen use.

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Pints all round as Register Special Projects hacks hack off feet

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Re: four by two?

> "three metres of four-by-two"

> Oh God! We are doomed!

That's nothing. Years back I did some work for a company that imported rock, by container, to make headstones and like out of.

It was rated in something like "kilograms per square inch" for the container, thoroughly mixing imperial and metric...

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Vote NOW for the vilest Bond villain

Alan Edwards
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Re: Hugo Drax needs more love

Got to be a candidate for the best line of the series...

At least Drax thought big - kill everyone on the planet and replace them will your own super humans. No small-time suffl like cornering the gold market.

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Crazed Microsoft robot accuses BBC kids' channel of Win8 piracy

Alan Edwards
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Re: Windows 8 piracy?

> And what's wrong with that? The IBM Model-M is one solid hardware.

Absolutely right. I dropped a laser printer on mine (shelf supports broke), it knocked the caps off a couple of keys and broke the switch in one. The printer came off worse.

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New I-hate-my-neighbour stickers to protect Brits' packages

Alan Edwards

Re: Can I have a ...

> Er No. I have a cheap Tesco value phone; no batteries, no off switch. The only way to turn it off is by

> unplugging it.

So unplug it...

> My doorbell is battery operated but again no switch; I'd have to remore the batteries

Put a toggle switch in the wire between the button and the bell box. A 2-pole switch is pennies from Maplins, cut the cable and connect the ends of the wire to the connectors on the switch. Turning the switch off effectively breaks the cable, so the push-button does nothing.

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Build a bonkers home cinema

Alan Edwards
WTF?

How much better?

An idea for a future article - how much better is this stupid-expensive kit than high-ish end standard stuff?

Put that audio processor and amps up against a top-end Denon AV amp, for instance. Compare that projector with the 4K-resolution Sony, or a top-end Panasonic.

I reckon there has to be a point where you're spending money for the sake of it, and not getting *that* much higher performance.

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Ten 15in notebooks for under 400 quid

Alan Edwards
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Re: Actually since there are refurbished notebooks...

> You can also go a step further and get an IBM X40 or something

One thing to watch with older X-series machines is that they used 1.8-inch hard drives, meant for iPods really., We had a bunch of X32s and X60s at work - fhe discs were very slow and tended to die quickly.

The X200s-onwards have normal 2.5-inch discs IIRC. I don't remember the X220s we're getting now generating the complaints the older X-series did.

The T-series, especially of the T61-era, are great machines though. I've got a T510 now which isn't as good, but I did have a T60, the last of the non-widescreen T-series, which was brilliant.

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Assange granted asylum by Ecuador after US refused to rule out charges

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Re: Best outcome. @Doug10

> Why all the effort by him to not face this in Sweden if he's so innocent as you want to claim?

Because he believes the extradition to Sweden is just a cover to get him extradited to the US from Sweden.

But if that's the case, why didn't the US just ask the UK to extradite? Going by the O'Dwyer case, we would have bent over backwards to help...

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Alan Edwards
WTF?

> It's like taking my car-keys and saying "You can't have them back" in front of all my friends and co-workers

No it isn't, it's like your car coming to me and saying "You've got to help me, they are going to paint me pink and put giant eye-lashes over my headlights". I can either help (by taking the keys) or not. You can threaten to beat the snot out of me and take your keys back, but there's the danger I'll ask my friends with baseball bats to take you to a dark alley and have a quiet word if you do.

The Ecuadorians didn't kidnap Assange, he went to them for help. He asked for political asylum - if they didn't believe him when he said the extradition was politically motivated, they could have told him to go away.

> It makes NO SENSE if you think about it for the US to extradite him.

They want to make an example of him, teach people not to annoy the US by making them look stupid.

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Sony Xperia Go waterproof Android phone review

Alan Edwards
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Re: Quite tempted...

> the screen resolution sounds a bit rubbish

Yep, I couldn't go back to 480x320 after using 1024x600 on the Orange San Diego.

There is a bigger brother to the Xperia Go, the Xperia Acro S. It's basically a waterproof Xperia S, with a 4.3" 1280x720 screen, but it also has the Micro-SD slot that the Xperia S doesn't have.

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Ofcom saves piece of 4G spectrum pie for '4th operator'

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: stuff 4g

> I reckon if someone decided to forgo 4G and focused instead on getting 100% (or as close as is

> plausible) reliable 2 and 3g cover, i reckon they could clean up.

They need to sort the backhaul out too, so it doesn't slow to a crawl as soon as 3 people check their email, but I agree. When it's working properly, 3G HSPA is plenty fast enough for what I do with it.

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Backups? Use disk. Archives? Disk. Particle accelerators? Fine, tape

Alan Edwards

Re: Tape this !

> LTO5 (1.5TB worst case) = $70 or $46/TB

Plus $1500 for the drive to read/write it. Admittedly one drive will work with an infinite number of cartridges, but still...

All you need for the hard disc is a SATA port.

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Alan Edwards
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Re: I remember a time...

> Light/radio/waves (in space)

I see where you're going, but radio and light in space are far too easy to destroy. A fraction of a degree off on one of the antennas and you're not pointing at the same planet let alone another tiny antenna.

Light is even worse, a stray rock drifts into the beam and your data is toast.

> Whatever the dreamers can come up with

How about storing data at the molecular level in a man-made lump of granite? It's been done with organic cells already.

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Alan Edwards
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Re: I remember a time...

> You would need a base reflective layer (a la CD/DVD etc ) (on write-once optical tape)

Not necessarily, you could put the read sensor on the other side of the tape and shine the laser through it. The tape is linear so the heads won't be moving, there won't be any alignment issues.

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Orange San Diego Intel-based Android phone

Alan Edwards

Re: ..never buy on a promise

> why? What does ICS do that 2.3 doesnt?

GPU acceleration of browser rendering, IIRC.

> I can only think of NFC and face unlock.

The San Diego has got an NFC reader under Gingerbread. I've got no tags to test it with, so I have to trust them that it works.

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Alan Edwards
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Re: Curious...

About app compatibility - I've got an Orange San Diego, and so far I've found a total of two apps that don't work.

One is KeePassDroid, which loops back to the password entry screen all the time. I'm using AstonSoft Password Manager at the moment.

The other is WinAmp. It used to work but the latest update seems to have broken it, so it'll probably get fixed soon. I went back to the stock music player.

Everything else works - Opera, TuneIn Radio, 3G Watchdog, CoPilot navigation, eBay, IMDb, QuickOffice, DropBox all work perfectly. Even one-man-band type stuff like Open Intents File Manager works. I don't play games, so a lot of the 25% that doesn't work could be games.

Anyone else want to list what doesn't work?

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Ten... active camcorders

Alan Edwards
Go

Re: AVCHD

Sony Vegas? I use it on a Core i7, and it copes well with 720p MOVs. Vegas Studio Platinum can be had for around £30 off Amazon or eBay.

AVCHD is the native format for Sony camcorders IIRC, and Vegas can directly import from Sony cameras.

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Alan Edwards
Black Helicopters

Re: Riot gear

Sounds like a job for a smartphone app, with the phone in something like an OtterBox securely tied to you.

Start with something with a decent camera, like a Sony Experia S. You'd need to lock the exposure, or have it adjust slowly, if the camera API on Android allows that. Buffer the writes to SD via the internal storage with random file names, and/or dump the video to DropBox.

If you already using a big case, you could duct-tape a big LED bike light to it for more light, and choose one with a flashing mode for a bit of "get-your-own-back"...

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Alan Edwards
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Re: No GoPro?

Provided it's got a tripod socket you can mount any camera on a bike, handlebar mounts are dirt-cheap on eBay.

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Ten... celeb headphones

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: Am I the only one..

Yep, another Sennheiser fan here. I'm still using some MX500s that must be getting on for 10 years old now. I've got some MX660 and MX880s too - all brilliant, but I don't like the sticky rubber cable on the new ones. I hope the 500s never die!

I've even got some MX 2-somethings (MX-260?) for £10 that are surprisingly non-rubbish for so little money.

CX300 Mark 2s are worth a look if you want noise-isolating cans, but I'd give the original CX300s a miss. Very sensitive to where you put them in your ear, and a bit bass-light even when you put them in right.

I was hoping the article would try and work out how much the endorsements added to the cost, and would compare them to non-endorsed kit for the same sort of money.

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Three touts 'unlimited' Euro data roaming for a fiver a day

Alan Edwards
Happy

Re: Bit poor if...

If it's the same as the 50p-a-day data on pre-pay, it's actually midnight on the day after. If you time it right, you can get 2 days use out of it.

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Linux Mint joins mini-PC hardware business

Alan Edwards
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Re: IPcop and NAS

You could run the firewall in a VM on the server. That's what I do - Astaro runs in a VM on a VMWare ESXi server. You'd need two network cards in the server, one for the local network, one that just connects to the DSL modem/cable box/whatever. For the server, I use an HP MicroServer - low power, and the fan is barely audible.

I'm toying with using a low power PC like this one to use as a print server, running XP or maybe Server 2003. ESXi doesn't get on with USB printer/scanners, it barely does USB storage.

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Watchdog tells Greenpeace to stop 'encouraging anti-social behaviour'

Alan Edwards
FAIL

Re: Historical Cost of Nukes

> Square miles of land, worldwide, rendered uninhabitable or unusable by renewable

> power?

Quite a lot, I would think - have you seen the size of solar collector power stations?

This one: http://tinyurl.com/yw8jbd claims to be the first, and is from 2005 so I'd imagine they are bigger by now, and has 624 120 square metre mirrors.

Plus, you flood valleys when you build dams for hydro-electric power.

> Casualties arising from renewable power?

Loads of birds get clouted by wind turbine blades.

Incidentally, a total of 70 people have been killed directly by nuclear power station incidents - http://tinyurl.com/yunmz7. 112 people were killed building the Hoover Dam alone - http://tinyurl.com/2dudhca

> Requirement for expensive monitoring equipment, regulatory oversight or highly

> trained maintenance staff? None, slight and slim, respectively.

I'd rather hope solar collectors have trained staff and monitoring kit - they work at temperatures high enough to melt salt.

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Lenovo intros carbon-fibre ThinkPad Ultrabook

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Re: jeez

> The control key is in the correct place, next to the Windows key.

Yes, but a standard keyboard doesn't have the Fn key.

I'd argue that it's more important for Ctrl to be the left-most key than to be next to the Windows key.

You use things like Ctrl-Alt-Del and Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V regularly, and without thinking. The Fn is rarely used (by me, at any rate), and when you do you have to stop and look for the icon on the function key to press with it anyway.

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Alan Edwards
Happy

Re: That Trackpad

> The wrong way round Fn key is a woeful mistake and I can honestly say it frustrates me at

> least once a week by not actually copying something because I've pressed Fn+C. I've used

> them for about 6 years and still can't do it without thinking about it first.

I just took the Fn keycap off on the Lenovo laptops I've had. It still works, you just press the rubber dome in, but your finger seems to automatically look for the first proper key, which is now Ctrl. Can you still easily flick the keycaps off on chiclet keyboards?

They put a function in the BIOS to swap it over, but that doesn't help when the control freak IT department put a password on the BIOS...

> basically the bottom of the whole pad is hinged as the left / right mouse button

> doesn't sounds so bad until you try to click and drag, it is a finger bending feat of

> impossibility

Can't you double-tap and drag, like you could on the old trackpads? That's the end of my plan to buy an X121 if you can't. The other thing you can do is use the track-nipple buttons with your other hand.

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AMD: New Trinity laptop chips out-juice Intel graphics

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Re: @spencer

13-inch MacBook Air is 1400x900, 13-inch Asus Zen (and one of the Sonys I think) is 1600x900. That's about your lot though. There is the Lenovo T420s with 1600x900, but that's a 14-inch.

Low resolution laptop screens really annoy me. I have a years-old HP netbook with a 9-inch 1280x720 panel (and a CPU that's slower than a glacier, but that's beside the point), why are still getting 14 and 15-inch laptops with 1366x768?

Proper monitors aren't much better. 27-inch, but only 1920x1080??

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Queen unveils draft internet super-snoop bill - with clauses

Alan Edwards
Black Helicopters

Re: Lets pick over all the faults here...

> well most people use webmail over https which wont tell you anything about where its

> destined etc...

If you're using webmail, all the information will be on the webmail provider's server for ever, and will be handed over to Government types with very few questions asked. Webmail is probably the *least* secure way of doing email unless it's your server.

> Skype and other methods of communication." (BBC) - yes and these changes wont help

> that since yet again we're using encrypted connections to a website.

And again, details will be handed over by Skype etc. on request, assuming there isn't a direct tap into them already.

They were caiught with their pants down by the use of BlackBerry Messenger to organise the riots a while back, they are determined that it won't happen again. They people they *say* it's targetted at already know how avoid getting caught

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Alan Edwards
Black Helicopters

Re: I've Already Installed Tor...

> I'm not sure why people keep going on about SSL, it is completely readable when you

> have intercepted the entire communication from it's initiation.

No it isn't, you'd need access to the private certificate on the server to decrypt it. Only the public certificate is sent out, to allow the other end to encrypt stuff.

You can do a 'man-in-the-middle', where you decrypt SSL on the way then re-encrypt it, but it'll set the alarm bells off in the browser as the server name won't match the destination address.

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Now on Freeview HD: Olympic arts channel that's tough to watch

Alan Edwards
Unhappy

Re: Bunch of moaning whingers.

> given you've a new unproven technology which not many people can receive, what would you

> put on it to test? Britain's Got Voice?

You can beam Britain's Got No Talent (and all the rest of the 'reality' shite) straight into space for all I care. Gathering it all together on a no-bit-rate streaming channel would be a good idea.

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Look back in Ascii: Computing in the 1980s

Alan Edwards
Happy

Re: Ahhh....

Very similar here too...

Started on a ZX81, moved on to an Acorn Electron, then an Amstrad PC1512. Not sure I ever had a modem on those machines, I think my first was a 14,400 on an Olivetti 486 when I got my own place. I'd had modems at work for a while, though.

Excitement at school when the Research Machines 380Z was finally pensioned off for a network of BBC Micros with a gigantic Winchester hard disc in the corner. It was probably 5 or 10 meg, but was physically the size of a BBC. That would have been about 1985.

My 'rack' of servers is two HP ProLiant Microservers, one on top of the other. One is a 6Tb (4x2Tb RAID-5) NAS, the other is a VMWare ESXi host. I seem to be buying too many tablets at the moment, I have a ViewSonic ViewPad 7, a ZTE V9A and an iPad, and I'm still eyeing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7-inch.

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Stray SMS leads to aborted landing

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Re: Interference

> Why flying over land at 10000m height, your cellphone/mobile device can easily drown out

> thousands of devices on the ground, which communicate to several cell towers.

Bollocks it could. If that was the case someone standing next to the BTS would knock out everyone else using it. You might confuse the cellular network, but you won't 'drown out' anything.

> Also, it cannot be ruled out that a mobile phone transmitter running at full power will

> interfere with the plane's receiver antenna/reciever, despite the fact that it works at different

> frequencies

A GSM phone has a 2 watt transmitter.

Sutton Coldfield is a TV and radio transmitter station, near Birmingham in the UK. It puts out a million watts on TV, and 250,000w on FM radio i.e. at least 125,000 times the power of a phone.

Sutton Coldfield is fairly near Birmingham airport, which has a radar system. I don't know the output of it, but it will be several kilowatts.

A mobile phone's output is insignificant compared to them, and yet planes don't fall out of the sky.

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UK retailers start taking Nokia Lumia 900 orders

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Hobbled by OS

I'd agree that the 900 is hobbled by it's OS.

It's supposed to be the top of the range, but it's got a single-core processor, 800x480 display and no micro-SD slot - all limitations imposed by the OS. £460 is way too much for those specs, an Experia S is £80 less.

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Netgear Powerline Nano 500 Ethernet-over-mains adaptor

Alan Edwards

Re: Interference

> I'm with Tony - similar (empirical) experience here

Me too. I've got four of these, all no-name eBuyer specials, forming two networks. Two link the living room kit (Blu-ray etc.) to the upstairs network where the Astaro gateway and NAS are, the other two link the Astaro to the DSL modem downstairs.

ADSL still works, so does DAB and FM. The radios in the taxis that sometimes park over the road cause more interference.

I wonder whether people are mixing these adapters up with broadband over power line? That used the national grid for broadband distribution, and was proved to cause interference.

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Samsung Galaxy S WiFi 5.0 Android media player

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: Hang on...

> Yup, works a treat with Google Navigation as long as you remember to pre-cache the map tiles.

Or even a 'proper' navigation app like Copilot. 8 gig is enough for both the euro and US version and all the maps, and you can shove a 32Gb micro-SD in for some tunes in the car.

Android 2.2 puts me off, but now I know it has GPS it's a little bit tempting...

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Eddie Murphy heading for worst movie ever glory

Alan Edwards
Happy

Re: Pearl Harbor Sucked...

> http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1640571/

If you want a laugh, have a look at the 'Goofs' for that one.

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Alan Edwards
Happy

Re: Not the worst.

Not seen that one (Troll 2), but surely it doesn't beat Lake Placid 2 to the title?

Mega Python vs. Gatoroid must also be in the running, but that was only really made to have Debbie Gibson and Tiffany fight each other so maybe doesn't count.

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Tourists follow GPS, drive into sea

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: I've said it before, and I'll say it again ...

Completely agree. Recently had the same experience, except I was in Boston in the US.

First time on the wrong side of the road in a left-hand drive car was the 20 mile drive to the hotel. I would not want to do that without a GPS, i did not know that motorway junctions there sometimes have two exits depending which way you want to go on the road you're joining.

I've had a few WTFs from the GPS too though. TomTom tried to take me down a farm track going from Leatherhead to a hotel on Epsom Downs once. I just ignored it, and it recalculated - I think some people forget the GPS will recalculate the route if you go wrong, and think they will get lost if they don't obey every instruction.

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Everything Everywhere's 4G party bus could run Three off a cliff

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Re: Let 3/Three die

No it isn't. They are (by a big margin) the only network I'd use for data, the tariffs from the others are daylight robbery.

They were the only mobile network that worked at a remote farm in Wales I stayed at once. T-Mobile just about worked if you leaned out of a window, the rest were non-existent.

Our work phones are mostly now on Orange, whose data network collapsed in a big heap a week or so ago. Not just 3G either, nothing worked for me for a day. They also have a habit of sending calls to voicemail without even ringing.

My opinion is they are the only UK network that takes data seriously, the rest do it because they have to.

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Finders of lost mobes can't resist staring at privates

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

96%

> A grand total of 96 per cent of lost smartphones were accessed by the finders of the device.

The other 4% went straight for the factory reset and walked off with it :-)

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TalkTalk takes broadband to 80Mbps

Alan Edwards
FAIL

How much??

The thieving ratbags want £15 a month to flick a switch at the exchange? I hope PlusNet weren't listening, I'm toying with switching to FTTC when the 80 meg stuff kicks in, but I'll not pay that much more.

The change to 80Mb/s is just a change to the encoding on the wire, it should be free.

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New iPad 4G data connection will only work in America

Alan Edwards
WTF?

3G is NOT single band

3G is most definitely not in a single band internationally.

Just about everywhere uses the 2.1Ghz band, but the same standard (W-CDMA) is on 850Mhz, 1700Mhz and 1900Mhz in the USA. It was at 900Mhz too, but I think that's died out now.

The iPad has 850/900/1900/2100Mhz 3G - the only place it won't work is T-Mobile at 1700Mhz, there it's restricted to EDGE speeds.

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Ford: kick your car to open the boot

Alan Edwards
WTF?

One slight issue...

It only works if the doors are already unlocked.

If you have keyless entry, it detects a hand going to open a door or the tailgate and unlocks the doors (to stop it unlocking when you are just walking up to/past it).

So, you're walking up with your hands full, and have to put everything down and go for the tailgate lock to unlock the doors, then pick all your stuff up and kick the back bumper to open the tailgate.

@Wize - I'm not sure on the Ford how you know it's locked when you walk away, but it should lock when you're near enough to hear it. On a Renault you hear the locks click and it beeps twice - frightened the life out of my Mum when she went to have a look at the Megane CC hire car I had once...

@Lee Dowling - the new Focus can be had with little rubber pads that spring out of the doors and stop you denting the car next to you, and at one time you could get a car battery that had emergency start extra capacity - not sure if they are still around.

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Belkin Power Pack 4000

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: A product for the unsophisticated?

> simple battery case that I can fill with standard, cheap AA rechargeables or alkalines.

They exist too. I've got a PortaPow one I got off eBay for about 20 quid. I use hybrid NiMH rechargeables with mine. I suspect it'll get nowhere with an iPad, but I've charged an iPod Touch and the Three MiFi router OK with it.

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Cineworld flaunts '4D' movies

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Sensurround

Sounds like Sensurround from the mid 70s. Turn the bass up to 11, and put giant sub-woofers under the seats to vibrate everything. Like someone already said, Earthquake in 1974 was one film that used this system.

Sounds like this system has actuators in the seat bases so it can be more subtle and do slower movements.

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Boy died after satnav fault delays ambulance

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Re: 8 minutes

> Is it too much to expect a (presumably) full time ambulance driver to know how to get

> anywhere within 8 minutes without a bloody map?

Yes, I'd say so. There are almost certainly addresses in the town I grew up in that I couldn't find without looking at a map, and 8 minutes from there (Marlborough, Wiltshire) would include a lot of tiny villages in the country.

It's definitely true of the town I live in now.

Or did you mean *with* a map?

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Apple FileVault cracked in under an hour by forensics biz

Alan Edwards
FAIL

A non-issue

I was interested from the perspective of cracking TrueCrypt. If you know what you're doing, this will never crack TrueCrypt:

1) TrueCrypt automatically dismounts volumes when you lock, log off, suspend or hibernate

2) There is also an inactivity timeout dismount option

3) It appears to not know about key files. It can beat on a Truecrypt volume with a single letter password and a key file until the universe explodes, without the key file it will never decrypt it.

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