* Posts by Alan Edwards

342 posts • joined 25 Apr 2007

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Finders of lost mobes can't resist staring at privates

Alan Edwards
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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
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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
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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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Boffins out earbuds that sound right when inserted wrong

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Bumps and stuff

Having a bump on one of the buds is OK, so long as you know which one the bump is on.

The Sennheiser MX-880 doesn't. It has a bump on (I think) the left, and no other markings. Would it have killed them to put a line in the user guide telling you which channel has the bump?

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Nikon compact, only $AU100k

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Car hire companies

I think car hire companies do something similar, to stop you booking stuff they've not actually got.

I've had some distinctly odd results for a car for a Las Vegas trip I'm toying with, including $13,000/week for a Jeep Grand Cherokee which is probably more than the car is worth.

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Archos 35 Smart Home Phone

Alan Edwards

Not sure about this...

Very low res resistive screen, and you're not going to get much in 256Mb RAM - my Monte Carlo uses more than that doing nothing.

If you want Skype calling would you not be better off with an Orange San Francisco, even if it never leaves the house? More power and RAM, and an 800x480 capacitive screen. Also, Android 2.3-upwards (San Fran is 2.1 out of the box) has a built-in SIP internet call client

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NASA shuts off Voyager 1's central heating

Alan Edwards
Happy

Nuclear waste

> It makes me wonder what impression this will leave on possible finders.

For all we know there is an alien race that considers plutonium a delicacy, and they send us an email thanking us for the packed lunch...

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Iomega TV with Boxee

Alan Edwards

>Those first three come from the Boxee service, which basically just rounds up a bunch of films,

> TV programmes and other content from around the web and then drops you into a web

>browser in order to view them

Unless they've seriously nobbled this box compared to the D-Link, that's only part of what it does. You can set up file sources to your network or local storage and it will scan them and drag down poster art and film/series/episode details and present it in a list that sorts the episodes into seasons by series. For the most part it/'s automatic if you name the files right, but you have to help it to work out what's what sometimes.

> with no sign of the BBC iPlayer

There should be an iPlayer app. It's not brilliant, but it just about works...

I'm not a fan of the cube-that-sank-into-the-table design of the D-Link so this is tempting, but it's too expensive for now.

Any idea what the processor is? The D-Link has an Atom CE-4100 that does pretty well for what it is.

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Ten... laptop accessories

Alan Edwards
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Re: the mouse

I thought the same (it's huge and ugly), but have a look at the original review where there's a picture of it being held.

It's about the size of your index finger...

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Flash stalks Seagate's hybrid drives

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Gotta agree...

You really need to consider the cost as well. Most of those 500Gb or 1Tb SSDs you gave as an example would cost more than the entire machine they are installed in.

In an ideal world we can get the hardware we want and not worry about the cost of it. Back here in the real world you have to strike a balance between what you want and what you can afford. Hybrid drives are a compromise - they give you some (most?) of the performance of an SSD at a price mere mortals can afford, and still give enough storage to be useful.

If you can afford a £3,000 SSD for a £1000 Ultrabook, go for it. I can't.

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Powerline Ethernet group posts 1Gb/s spec

Alan Edwards
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They do work...

... but seem to be very sensitive to cable quality. Mine are no-name Ebuyer 85Mb/s jobs. Just having one of them on a four-way extension was enough to nobble 720p streaming. With them both plugged straight into a wall socket they'll do 1080p happily. It could be that yours were duff, of course...
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Smart meter SSL screw-up exposes punters' TV habits

Alan Edwards
FAIL

How accurate?

You'd need accurate details of what is in the house to make sense of the 'leccy demand figures.

e.g., just as the plasma telly (that I haven't got, it's an LCD with the annoying dynamic brightness stuff turned off) drops it's consumption in a dark scene, the NAS decides to start all four discs because something wants some data, wiping out the drop from the telly.

The big lights in the kitchen (3x60w incandescents) use more power than most of the rest of the kit in the house. If I go and get a beer out of the fridge, power use goes up 200w for 20 secs.

Cool idea, but I don't think it'd work in the real world.

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Marmitek Gigaview GV820 wireless HDMI sender

Alan Edwards
FAIL

£250, and it goes 10m

This costs £250, and the range is only 10m?? That's not very far. and at 5Ghz anything in the way will cause serious attenuation.

How much does a 10m HDMI cable cost - £10 tops? Maybe I'm missing the point of this box.

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Silverlit Spy Cam

Alan Edwards
FAIL

Blurring

Blurring from the vibration seems to be a common issue. The Gadget Show taped a GoPro Hero to a big-ish RC helicopter, IIRC. The video was unusable, it was blurry and shaking around, plus they nearly lost the camera when the heli crashed.

You might be able to rescue it a bit if you put the vdeo through the stabiliser in iMovie or Sony Vegas Studio.

The cameras on police helicopters are mounted in a vibration-isolating mount, which is a huge dome on the side. You could rig a gimbal mount for an RC copter, but it would be too heavy for it to lift.

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UK.gov slaps £100m on broadband investment pile for urbanites

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Totally the wrong priority

That's right, speed up broadband in cities, where they already have FTTC, FTTP and fibre-optic cable TV, instead of putting broadband in where there is currently none.

One of the guys here wants to work from home, but can't. DSL struggles to a meg on a good day, and he barely gets 2G mobile let alone 3G. He's looking at satellite, but it's still a bit expensive, the monthly limits are low and the uplink speed is crap.

And they are spending £100 million putting better broadband in where they have already got 20 meg-plus.

Thanks guys. NOT.

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Jarmageddon: Marmite spill sparks biohazard threat

Alan Edwards
Coat

> If I'd seen a spill of that gunk like that, I'd have recommended isolating the spill zone and

> evacuating the surrounding 5 kilometres!

And nuke the site from orbit, it's the only way to be sure.

Sorry, had to be done...

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Disk drive prices swell 5% every DAY in floods aftermath

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Going mad

About 3 months ago I got a ProLiant MicroServer with 2x2Tb discs and a few other bits for about £380. Just the discs cost more than that now.

The annoying thing is I could do with another 2Tb drive, to make a 3 drive array. Maybe I should sell the two I've got and buy 4Tb+ drives for the same money in a 6 months time when sanity is restored.

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London Fire Brigade issues voracious tambourine warning

Alan Edwards
Happy

Specialist unit?

If it's causing that much of an issue, maybe there's a case for a specialist "extracting (bits of) people from stupid places" team, so it doesn't take fire engines and people away from actually fighting fires.

It averages out at just over one incident per day (assuming that is 417 in a year), so 3 blokes in a Transit could probably handle the lot.

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Thumbs Up Desktop Phone

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Cordless version

I have a feeling Make or something similar has already done it, but you could make a cordless version out of the guts of a Bluetooth headset.

You wouldn't actually need the base other than for charging the handset's battery, but you could make that into a charger for the iPhone (cordless induction charging for extra cool-ness).

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Samsung strokes big bulb that'll keep going for decades

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

I don't miss the power bill

I, for one, don't miss the electricity bill caused by incandescent bulbs.

My living room has an 8w (it actually burns nearer 10w) CFL in an uplighter that runs all the time it's dark. The main room light has 3x60w spotlight bulbs which burn over 200w combined. Admittedly I'd drop them to 40w or less as they are much too bright, but if I had to have the main room light on all the time I'd still use 10x the power.

The main lights use more power than the 37" LCD TV..

BTW, the 8w CFL has been used pretty much every day, probably averaging 5 hours a day, for over 4 years. It's starting to get a bit dim when first switched on, but for now it's still going strong.

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Boffins spy on iPhone screens from 200ft away

Alan Edwards
Coat

Letter positioning

My first reaction was 'Oh, for f***s sake', but I can see it working under perfect conditions. The next CSI will have them reading the key presses off the reflection off an eyeball using a CCTV camera 2 miles away.

One thought I had is that you don't have to be able to read the letter that pops up, you just need to know where it is reasonably accurately. The letters pop up in specific places when you hit keys on the keyboard.

Of course, it won't work when the iThing starts to struggle for CPU or RAM, your typing gets ahead of it and all the letters appear in one go...

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Jaguar recalls over 17,600 X-types in the UK

Alan Edwards
Terminator

Adaptive cruise control

Not sure I'd ever entirely trust adaptive cruise control (where it slows down as you approach traffic and resumes when the road is clear) because of this issue. By the time you realise it's locked up it's too late to do anything before you hit what it should have slowed down for.

BTW, you can knock an auto into neutral while moving. It's not recommended and I did it accidentally, but it would work. Don't put it in Park though - there'll either be a big bang as the locks break or the drive wheels will lock.

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Amazon Kindle 4

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Update for existing Kindles?

Anyone know if the existing Kindle 3s will get the new software update? If so, is there a way of stopping it?

The black flash on page turns doesn't bother me, and I quite like the author portait "screensavers".

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Renault Wind Gordini roadster

Alan Edwards
WTF?

What the...

Why did they hinge the roof in the middle, rather than put it on a couple of rails and slide it back? The boot lid thingy would only have to move up a foot or so, and you could open and close the roof in the multi-storey instead of having to find somewhere to stop outside.

Only petrol engines available, so monster emissions and tax.

The TCe engines do seem to be a bit thirsty. I only got 35 or so from a 1.4 TCe Megane convertible I hired earlier in the year, I was expecting a lot more. Not exactly quick either, but the CC is a bit heavy.

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Boffins step closer to steam-powered Babbage computer

Alan Edwards
Coat

Steam-powered mechanical computer

1) It's probably quicker than a single-core Atom

2) No, it won't run Crysis

3) You probably could build a Beowulf cluster of them, a giant rubber belt powering two off the same steam engine.

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Nissan Micra DIG-S

Alan Edwards
Happy

Micras

Enduring memory of a Micra...

A 1.0l, probably 2nd gen. Going up the long dual-carriageway hill after joining the A420 from the A34 at Oxford. Foot to the floor in 4th and it was actually slowing down. Underpowered piece of junk, hire company told me it was a 1.2.

I agree about the 5 cylinder 2.0l FIAT engine too. I drove a Marea with the non-turbo version, great sounding engine, went like stink too.

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Scosche BoomCan mini travel speaker

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

If you want stereo...

Use a stereo 3.5mm to twin phono (RCA) adapter, then a phono to 3.5mm cable to each BoomCan.

You can probably get a 3.5mm stereo to two 3.5mm mono cable from Maplin/Radio Shack too.

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Got a non-iPad tablet? Weirdo

Alan Edwards
Coat

Horses for courses

Started out with a Nokia N800, lovely size and screen, but it got to be too gutless to be useful. I then got an iPod Touch 3rd gen; it's OK, but screen's a bit small and low-res.

I have an iPad. It's too big and heavy to carry around, but is great for hitting IMDB from the armchair. It's gets to go on trips if I know I'm not going to need the (Windows) laptop, but it's mostly an indoor kitty now. It's SIM ended up in a MiFi mobile router.

I have a ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android tablet. Size/weight are ideal, screen is a bit grainy and too wide for the resolution (aspect ratio is off) but fine. Android is OK, but not a patch on iOS.

My ideal tablet would be Galaxy Tab 7-inch size, plenty of RAM and CPU, running iOS.

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Seagate GoFlex Satellite 500GB wireless hard drive

Alan Edwards
FAIL

You can't use the Internet

even with 3G.

The iThingies assume that a WiFi connection has internet access, so once you connect WiFi it disconnects the cellular data.

Someone needs to make one of these drives with a cellular router in it.

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First look at Toshiba's Portégé Z830 Ultrabook

Alan Edwards
Happy

Fancy hinges

> but other ports at the back too! Amazing. I cant understand why this factor has been ignored

> for so long by manufacturers

It's because somebody somewhere (Apple, probably) decided it looked cooler if the screen hinge dropped the bottom of the screen behind the main body of the machine.

Also, a lot of laptops have the battery along the back edge, so that you can have an extended battery that sticks out.

TBH, I like having the USBs on the side, you don't have to turn the machine round (ripping half the cables out) to find the port to plug your thumb drive into.

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Renault Scenic Bose Edition 1.6 130dCi

Alan Edwards
FAIL

Engines that live off the turbo

Yep, recently drove a FIAT van with the 90-something HP 1.3 MultiJet diesel. Get it right and it takes off like a scalded cat, get it wrong and there's no power at all for about 5 seconds whilst the turbo winds itself up.

I see that Scenic has the same stupid stereo as the Megane CC I hired. You'd think the big knob in the middle was the volume or power button? It's neither, they are the little knob in the top left. Turn the big knob trying to turn the volume down and it dives off into some menu.

It took me catching it with my hand to work out how to interrupt traffic announcements, and I never did work out how to disable them altogether. There's a button with a big T on it, but that works something else.

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Sony preps Luke Skywalker-style digital binoculars

Alan Edwards
FAIL

Peeping Tom's Hardware?

Uh no, not powerful enough. The bits I've read confuse zoom ratio with magnification a bit, but I think they top out at 10x magnification before you have to use digital zoom. My little Bushnell folding binoculars are 12x magnification (no zoom) and fit in your back pocket.

What yer Peeping Tom wants is my big Sunagors, that zoom from 20x to 60x magnification. They are the babies now, the later ones go to 120x. They are about the same size as the Sonys, but probably weigh more.

The DEV-5s are a bit overpriced, aren't they? Optically both models are the same (10x zoom), the DEV-5 gets a digital zoom, a GPS chip, and bits of cases and covers that ought to be standard on both.

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Fujifilm puts augmented reality in the frame

Alan Edwards

Fuji stuff

The auto-focus still worked on my S5000 after 6 years. The CCD didn't (developed a big green line) though...

I got a Sony A200 D-SLR after that. It was just too big and heavy, so I ended up with a Panasonic TX-8. The Sony is probably a better camera, but if you don't bring it with you it doesn't matter.

About the AR - if I understand it right, the camera puts info from the GPS database on the screen as you're pointing it, so it tells you what direction the landmarks are in and identifies what you're looking at.

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Apple kills MacBook, soups up MacBook Air

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Bluetooth is crap?

Yep, I'd agree. It all depends how well behaved the device and the stack on the PC are. I use a Logitech V470 and Bluetooth MX700 mice all the time with no major issues. I also have an HP-branded Logitech I use with the PowerMac, which has aggressive power saving with a delay in waking up after being still for a few seconds that is just long enough to be annoying.

The Blue Soleil stack was (is?) an abomination. The stock Windows XP one just about works, the Windows 7 one is better but seems to go out of it's way to hide the file transfer stuff. There was one stack that was just about perfect, but I forget it's name now. The biggest pain was tying adapters to one particular stack, so you can't use your favourite stack with any adapter.

The Mac with a Bluetooth mouse is a laugh. OSX goes into panic mode when it starts because it can't see a mouse, until the Bluetooth starts and a mouse suddenly appears.

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Contour GPS Bluetooth camcorder

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Umm...

> And with a waterproof case at less than £30...

Why do you need a waterproof case for a waterproof camera?

I agree about the impressive stabilisation. It's up there with what I get out of SteadyHand, and that's slower than real-time on an i7.

About the resolution, if I read it right 1280x960 gives you the fish-eye effect, 1280x720 doesn't.

Tempting, but a bit expensive for me. Have a look at the Looxcie - same sort of thing, not ruggedised but allows full control over Bluetooth.

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Sony says no to YouView

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Boxee Box

> ... a fucking telly or STB with a browser in it!

You want a Boxee Box then. It has apps for YouTube, iPlayer etc., but there is also a WebKit-based browser that can do Flash video. £180 on Amazon these days.

The other alternative is a Mac Mini or net-top-type PC hooked up via HDMI. You can even run the Boxee software on it if you like, but there are other options like Front Row, XBMC or MythTV. I found driving a PC from across the living room a pain, hence the Boxee Box, but you might get on better.

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ALK CoPilot Live Premium HD

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

I got it too

Mostly because it was £15 at the time.

A few things I've found, this is on a ZTE Blade on roads I mostly know - I've not taken it further afield yet. Overall I like it; I've got used to the TomTom way having had one for years, I'll get used to Copilot eventually.

It can tell you about turns way too early, but you can configure that. I don't think it has variable alert distances based on the road speed like TomTom does.

The routing seems OK. It sent me a slightly odd way to the office when I tested it, but it sent me to the front door so might have been the best way had I not been going to the car park out the back.

It doesn't use the lane guidance arrows enough. I've spotted a few places where it would be handy if you didn't know the road e.g. it's telling you to go straight on, but the inside lane becomes a left-turn lane, so you need to be in the middle lane.

It doesn't stack instructions up like the TomTom does if there are two close together e.g. 'take the first exit at the roundabout THEN turn left'. A few times, Copilot has completely missed the second instruction.

I can't believe Copilot only got automatic recalculation when you go wrong at v9. My TomTom is an ancient Go 500, and that does it.

Why is the UK expensive compared to the US? I also got the US version as I'm off to Boston in August, and that was £6.

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PopBox 3D set-top media player

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Boxee Box

The Boxee Box costs a bit more (£190 compared to £140) but it's a lot more stable, data scraping for the most part works, and you can build your own NFO files for stuff it doesn't know about.

It worked first time with my ReadyNAS, and has played everything I've thrown at it so far - XVID, DIVX, M4V. MKV and DVD ISO. Only issue is my power line ethernet kit being marginal for 720p/AC-3 5.1 MKVs.

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Brits told how much they'll pay for HP TouchPad

Alan Edwards
FAIL

Overcharged upgrades

They've also "borrowed" Apple's strategy of removing the Micro-SD slot and charging £80 for £5's worth of flash RAM.

I'm more interested in the 7-inch than this, but that'll probably be over-priced too.

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Peugeot 508 Active e-HDI micro-hybrid

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Not bad

That's got the same CO2 emissions as my 1.4 TDCi Fiesta. My old 307 had effectively the same engine and emissions of 129.

On cold-starts - last winter, the Fiesta was sat outside covered in snow for two weeks. The temperature had crept up to -8 in the afternoon after being -12 the previous night when I thought I'd better see if it still worked. I was amazed, it started first time.

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Hackers jailbreak iOS 5 in under 24 hours

Alan Edwards
Happy

Unlock for iPad 1?

Is there an unlock solution for the iPad 1 yet? Mine is locked to Three, it would be handy to put a local SIM in when I take it abroad.

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Belkin eBook Light

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Agreed, ouch.

I paid about £3 for my clip-on light off eBay. It uses a couple of button cells rather than triple-As, but £22 gets you a lot of button cells!

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Kingston readies wireless portable storage

Alan Edwards
FAIL

One thing...

You're using wifi to connect to it, so you'll lose your internet connection.

What someone needs to do is combine this with a mobile router. Huawei went half way with the E585's micro-SD slot, but you can't get at that from an iOS device.

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Apple proposes even tinier SIMs for future iPhones, iPads

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Apple lock-down

> I'd have thought just selecting the SIM on your phone rather than having to physically carry

> all those SIMs around would be easier for you.

Yes it would. Until Apple decides to pull your carrier for some obscure nonsense reason, most likely that the required kick-backs weren't paid. Or decides that they aren't making enough money off a cheap pre-paid plan, and pulls it. Then you're screwed.

My iPad spends 95% of it's life on wifi, so has a pre-pay SIM that costs me 50p a day when I need it, and the SIM that came with the iPad lives in a mobile router. That wouldn't be allowed with software SIMs.

Apple just wants to dictate what you do with your hardware.

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Dixons to flog off old 'brands' Miranda and Saisho

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Not all bad...

I had a Matsui microwave for over 20 years, and it took a hammering in that time too. Power supply finally popped earlier this year, got replaced by one a lot smaller and you have to set the timer by twiddling a knob for ages. That one may not see this year out, I want one with a proper keypad again.

I've got a Miranda video light too. Other than awkwardly taking 5xAA batteries, it works fine. I got it used off eBay for a few quid.

Warranties, heh. Argos tried to flog me a warranty for £6 on a £15 desk fan.

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