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* Posts by Alan Edwards

320 posts • joined 25 Apr 2007

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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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Swiss jetwing backpack-birdman flies the Grand Canyon

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Toy Story

"That wasn't flying! That was falling... with style!" - Woody.

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Carrier-sold iPad 2 Sim locks snag unwary buyers

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: Why bother with 3G iPads anyway?

Came in handy last night.

The power failed, so the wireless router went down. Turn the mobile data on the iPad on, and carry on regardless.

Admittedly it does spend 99% of it's life on wifi of some sort, though.

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iPad 2 3G price-plans compared

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: What happened to all you can eat on Three?

The iPad is classed as mobile broadband - 'cos it can't make phone calls, I presume. The all-you-can-eat data plans are voice plans.

They (at least used to) put specfic code on the iPhone SIMs to stop you using them in iPads. My Three iPad 1 seems happy with a 3Pay SIM, but there's no credit on it so I can't do anything with it.

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Humax adds BBC iPlayer to Freeview HD DVR

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

As good as FreeView for me

I've got BBC iPlayer on a Sony Blu-Ray deck, and use it a lot.

My broadband isn't up to the HD version, but iPlayer SD is as good as FreeView on my telly. I forget I'm watching streaming iPlayer a lot of the time.

I'm also using Powerline Ethernet to connect to the broadband router, and it's only the ancient 85Mb/s version. That's still forty times faster than my broadband, so is easily good enough for an internet connection,.

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Icecrypt T2400 Freeview HD DVR

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

twin tuners, a HDD AND a DVD burner?

> can't we have a box that contains twin tuners, a HDD AND a DVD burner?

You can, it's the Panasonic XW-380, or BW-780 if you want a Blu-ray burner rather than DVD. The XW-380 costs about the same as this box, but only has a 250Gb drive. It's got VieraCast as well, so does YouTube etc.

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Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Re: The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

> SD recordings can be copied to a USB drive

OK, but can you re-code HD stuff to SD and copy it to a USB drive?

> What do you use your DVDs for?

Personally I use it for video capturing bits of programs on the PC. Music videos that end up on my iPod for example. I drop the entire programme onto DVD, then grab the bits I want in Video ReDo on the PC.

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Hitachi GST brings out massive DVR units

Alan Edwards
WTF?

2.3 Bels ?!

> The company says they are quiet, outputting 2.3 bels when idling

I think you mean 2.3 decibels, 2.3 Bels would definitely make your ears bleed.

Alan.

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US woman @theashes stumped by cricketing tweets

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

TheAshes

Her name is Ashley something, for some reason she's been known as The Ashes for years.

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What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Alan Edwards
WTF?

WTF?

Some of those were pure guesses for me, as I don't know what some of them are.

What is that thing that looks like a coil in a glass tube? The thing with two buttons that looks like it's plugged into a TV?

I've just noticed the Vodafone logo on that white router-thing, so I'm guessing that's a femto-cell not a WiFi router.

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Three pledges cut-price iPads for Crimble

Alan Edwards
Happy

Not £430

£430 is for the entry-level WiFi-only version. They might subsidise that and bundle it with a MiFi, but most likely they'll give you a WiFi+3G version which starts at £530.

If it is £200+£15/month I might be tempted - cancel my current contract, and put the new SIM in my MiFi - but like the others I doubt it. They want £35/month plus £40 up front for a 15 gig contract with a Samsung RV510 laptop, roughly the same subsidy as on a £530 iPad down to £200.

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Nokia X3 Touch and Type

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

I've got a C3-01

which is the same thing in a different body.

All the antennas are at the bottom of the phone, and I've found it affects the signal of both wifi and cellular if I hold it in one hand and stab at the screen with the other.

Camera button - on the C3-01 the camera button is near the bottom on the right-hand side. There is a button level with the # on the X3 - is that not a camera button?

Haptic feedback is a tiny vibration when you click something on the touch screen.

Keyboard - there is an on-screen keyboard in Opera - Settings / Advanced / Opera keyboard -> Always. You need a stylus though, it's too inaccurate with a finger and there's no auto-correct, and it's only available in Opera.

Personally, I'd say it's nowhere near a smartphone. You can't even minimise Opera and do something else, you have to close it. For the money, it's a good phone though.

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Buffy to slay her way back into cinemas

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Casting

If they go back to the beginning, both Lindsay Lohan and Hayden Panettiere are probably too old. Buffy was in high school in the film and when the series started - not the last year either - which would make her about 15.

Taylor Momsen - (not so) Little Jenny in Gossip Girl - is about the right age. Or how about Chloe Moretz?

I don't hold out much hope without Joss Whedon's involvement, but I'll give it a watch.

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Giffgaff says some subscribers yakked for 9 days a month

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

2 gig a month?

Easily. Put the SIM in a Dell Streak, iPhone or similar (so it's not tethered), start streaming internet radio when I start work and listen to it all day, plus occasional hammering of email and Google Reader. It's about 100 meg an hour, so it'd burn through 2 gig in a couple of days.

A tempting idea, actually...

Alan.

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Pure One Mi portable DAB/FM radio

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

FM Radios

> wondered if anyone knew of a reasonable sounding portable battery powered radio that could replace it

Yep, Argos has loads of them: http://tinyurl.com/35qtm3l

There's even a waterproof one designed to be used in a shower hung from the curtain rail. Doubt the sound is up to much, though.

I'm pretty sure my parents have the beige-coloured Bush, sounds pretty good for a single-speaker radio.

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The 99p mobile phone: What's the catch?

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

My favourite handsets

The 6310i is a great handset, but mine doesn't play nicely with the Bluetooth kit in the car.

My favourite is still the Ericsson R520m. I'd still be using mine if it wasn't so old it won't even connect to the car kit.

The T39m is basically an R520 in tiny flip form, and I also have a soft spot for the Motorola StarTac 85.

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Apple bolts chastity belt on super svelte MacBook Air

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Not vivisection

> at iFixit, who bagged one of the svelte ultra-portable notebooks and promptly vivisected it.

No they didn't, unless they took it apart whilst it was still on. Vivisection is cutting stuff up whilst the subject is still alive. You mean dissected.

Which makes me wonder, does the stuff iFixIt takes apart still work once they put it back together again?

> The screw you pictured looks like a non-security torx

Maybe, secure Torx heads usually have a lump in the middle to stop you getting anything apart from a secure Torx driver in there. These don't have that, but they aren't standard six-thingy Torx screws.

Alan.

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Dell takes aim at Apple with upmarket pledge

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Leaping to Dell's defence

Just for a bit of balance, I'm pretty impressed with the Dell XPS 8100 I got. Design looks thought-out, does everything I need, doesn't sound like it's turbo-jet powered, and the hibernation works, which is more than it did on my last PC.

I toyed with getting a MacBook Pro just to put Windows on, but it was way overpriced for what it was. I am going to get an 11-inch MacBook Air though.

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Digital Stream DHR8203U Freeview HD DVR

Alan Edwards
Thumb Down

You want an XW-380

> Why don't they include a DVD drive?

That would be a Panasonic DMR-XW380. Which is what I'll probably end up getting..

I'm not spending £280 on something I've never heard of, and looks like it was built in a shed in China.

£150 maybe, but for £280 you can get something you've heard of.

On the price differential - the Panasonic DMR-BW780 and BW880 are the same apart from the hard disc - 250Gb rather than 500. The 880 is £130 more expensive.

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3 bigs self up as biggest 3G network

Alan Edwards
Thumb Up

Three coverage

I've also got a Three MiFi. I've been bouncing round the country a bit recently, and not had any problems with Three coverage anywhere I've been. It even worked (just about) in a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere in South Wales where I expected to have nothing, and also now works in my flat in Altrincham where it never used to.

I happily live off the MiFi when I'm travelling for work now, I don't even try the hotel WiFi any more.

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No takers on digital Olympic radio station

Alan Edwards
FAIL

@Paul_Murphy

I gave up on a DAB clock radio for the same reason.

On the Sony FM job it was to replace, one button press gets me a 90 minute sleep on the last FM station.

The stupid DAB wants me to turn it on, select the right source, then press a bunch of buttons to get sleep going.

The only reason I wanted to replace the Sony was I was getting interference which I thought was the tuner chip dying. Turned out the interference was from a dying DECT phone base station sat next to it, the clock radio lives on.

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Las Vegas death ray roasts hotel guests

Alan Edwards
WTF?

Possible fixes?

a) Alter the angle of the individual window panels so that they point up, or outwards. Or, you could get really clever and make them steerable, see b)

b) Put a solar collector above the affected area, either photo-voltaic or simple water heater. If you go with steerable window panels in a), it needn't be enormous. Not cheap, but it'll pay for itself eventually and you'd probably get a grant off the government.

c) Put a non-reflective coating on the affected windows. Cheap-ish, but the heat has to go somewhere so it'll pummel the air con, and the rooms will be darker.

Talk to the Spaniards, they just built a power station that does this deliberately. I think there's a couple in the US, too.

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Playboy centrefold freaks out at 10,000 feet

Alan Edwards

Doors won't open

I always wonder why people care when some berk tries to open an airliner door in flight.

1) it's locked

2) You have to pull the door inwards, swing it, then push it back through the hole to open it. The airliner is pressurised, so there's a few tons of air pushing the door against it's frame. Unless you simultaneously de-pressurise the plane, you've no chance (same concept as opening a car door under water).

Much better to sit there laughing at them while they tire themselves out heaving on the handle. Worst they'll do is bend the handle.

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