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* Posts by deshepherd

216 posts • joined 11 Jun 2009

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Star Trek: The original computer game

deshepherd

Remember this well from school days ... must have had the BASIC version on the school's Data General mini computer (someone had the Dave Ahl 101 Basic Games book and I certainly spent many hours either dictating or type these into a teletype!) but also remember when someone published a version that would run on our new fangled 6800 micro system in the electronics lab. This needed to be typed in as hex code to get it into the system and being a humungeously large program it wouldn't fit in the 1kB RAM on the processor eurocard so was a big rush to build a 4kB memort expansion eurocard to add to it!

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CLIMATE CHANGE forces women into PROSTITUTION - US politicians

deshepherd

Re: Gender sensitive framework

Think you'll find we already have somthing similar in the UK where councils have to consider the affects of various policies on different groups. A few months ago Bristol council launched proposals to roll out 20mph limits on residential streets citywide over the next 2 or 3 years ... I downloaded the paper that described the proposal to get more details and was "amused" to find that at the end there were a series of appendices which judged the impact of this proposal on women, gay and lesbian people, transgenedered people, black people and ethnic minorities - with the same conclusion in every case of no impact more than on the general population and effects were probably considered to be beneficial.

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Quid-a-day nosh challenge hack in bullet-hard chickpea drama

deshepherd

Re: University weeks...

Seem to recall our college hall could serve mince all week for lunch and call it something different depending on what it was served with

mince + mash on top == cottage pie

mince + spaghetti == spaghetti bolognese

mince + red kidney beans + rice == chillie con carne

mince + flat pasta + cheese == lasagna

mince + red peppter + rice == savoury mince

mince + potatoes == mince & potatoes

etc

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Google Now lands on iOS

deshepherd

Re: Linguistics

The Google test-to-voice system in navigation app on android regularily gives utterly weird pronunciations. On a recent trip in Bristol to pick up something from a ship I'd never been to before it was managing qiute happily with "Stapleton Road" until we got to Staple Hill - which it transformed into the much more interesting sounding "Stap Le Hill".

Anyway, its probably just American-ised pronunciatiation that produces Glow-sester-shire and War-sester-shire (though quite how they get Jag-war is beyond me!). Remember once being on a tube train in London where someone was trying to persuade a group of Americans that the station they wanted was really called Totnam Court Road and not Tote-en-ham Court Road!

Best American pronunication came when I was at a conference in Glasgow and went out with a group of other attendees for a meal one night and an American who'd been recommended the restaurant told use to drive along the road and turn right at "Soo-see-hal" ... took bit of time to realize he meant Socky-hall (or even Sauciehall) Street

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Ten ancestors of the netbook

deshepherd

Re: Zenith Minisport

Remember those ... seem to recall they were in the category of things that I saw in the Morgan Computers adverts at a price that seemed a bargain for what they were at the time (probably £199) but sadly at that time a bit above my "frivolous spending" level so never got one!

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Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

deshepherd

Must be almost 20 years since I started using the Web then! I was working using a system which had 3 or 4 large ring binders of documentation on all the commands when one day a message on the users email list (remember the days of email list and digests!) came from someone in a US university to say that he'd found this new program called Mosaic and he'd converted all the documentation into HTML so that by going to a web page on a server he'd set up at his university you could type in a command name and it would display the documentation for that command ... it seemed amazing that it was quicker to get info from a computer in Idaho than it was to pull a ring binder off the shelf above my desk!

Also, back in those days to help you navigate around the "web" the NCSA web site helpfully included a "new websites of the month" page ... later that became "new websites of the week" before disappearing. And true to rule on the development of new technologies one of the early sites list was from a Dutch University CS dept which among other contents proudly advertised that it considered it had the largest online collection of pr0n in Europe!

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Bogus gov online test tells people on dole they're just SO employable

deshepherd

Re: Have you put in the FOI request yet?

My older son did one of those Connexions tests ... think his answers gave the impression that he liked to tell people what to do as his suggested careers had Army Officer, Navy Officer, RAF Officer near the top of the list!

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Steve Jobs' 'spaceship' threatened by massive cost overruns

deshepherd

Re: Well, they could use...

p.s. I had a house a couple of blocks away from the site at one time.

Used to live in the area (just other side of Stevens Creek) too when I was in "silcon valley" for 3 years from 1998. Remember one day getting back from work and my wife telling me that there'd been lots of traffic a few blocks down of Stevens Creek and that something had been going on at De Anza college ... turned out from the newspapers the next day that Steve Jobs was launching the first product since he'd come back to Apple and it was something called an iMac.

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Review: Jabra Revo Wireless headphones

deshepherd

Re: Gapless = correct

Gapless becomes even more important if you are listening to classical music, especially opera, where "tracks" are used to identify sections in what is otherwise an unbroken piece of music.

Anyway, agree with the other comment that had price been at the top of the article I might also have lost interest before the end while I was searching for any indication on the lag the bluetooth connection introduces and whether this was low enough to make them usable for watching video

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Plucky Swede glides spaceplane to Earth from edge of stratosphere

deshepherd

Could combine this with James May's GPS controlled balsa glider crossing of (a section of water the same widths as) then English Channel .... I'm sure he could spin that out into a program reclaiming the UKs space heritage along with a link with some toy of the past ("Remember when you were a child and you had one of those stomp rockets where you stamped on a pump to launch a rocket which went up and then landed back beside you ... did you ever wonder about being able to launch it all the way to space? ....."). Ok, BBC, over to you now ... just put in a "from an original idea by ..." line in the creedits please!

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Infinite loop: the Sinclair ZX Microdrive story

deshepherd

BBC Micro Hobbit drive

I was in the BBC Micro camp and remember seeing an advert in one of the computer mags for a new "floppy tape drive" called "the Hobbit" which was "faster than tape, cheaper than disk". Wasn't a continuous loop but wsa a high speed "cassette" which I think had "random access". Anyway, as it was ~1/3rd price of a floppy drive I decided I'd get one and persuade my parents to go via a shop somewhere in North London on our way somewhere. Went into the shop and said that I wanted to buy a Hobbit drive and the person in the shop basically replied "no you don't - they're not really worth the money - you want to save up the extra to get a floppy drive"!

A bit later I did get a floppy drive ... drove myself to N London that time to find this company that was advertising cheap floppy drives in the mags ... it was called "Viglen"! Got there to discover it was basically a company that had been making plastic boxes that seemed to have discovered that they could get a lot more money for their plastic boxes if they put a floppy disk drive in them.

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Bacon sarnies can kill: Official

deshepherd

Re: In other news

Except in the discussion on this on the R4 Today program then the figure 3% of deaths that "could be prevented" (I think they mean delayed!) was after taking into account other factors. Another point was that his research was done on European sample groups so wasn't skewed by the much larger meat consumption of people in the USA. However, seemed that sample didn't have enough data to make any comment on processed (i.e. smoked) fish such as kippers!

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Throttled customers rage over Virgin Mobile UK's tight cap

deshepherd

Re: Cap? What Cap?

Mine just reported 3.7Mb up and 1.5Mb down ... fine for me as "mobile" data.

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Sony: Can't beat Apple and Samsung, so let's be the Other Guy

deshepherd

Sounds like they're copying the 90s "we want to be number 3" ads that Snapple ran (the underlying message was if you want cola then there's coke and pepsi - but if you don't then Snapple is the number 1 alternative)

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Playmobil punts bank-heist set to wide-eyed kiddies

deshepherd

Re: Never mind Lego

yes, Playmobil are just playing catch up with Lego who've had a bank robber (helpfully identifiable by a striped top .... sadly, though, without a bag marked SWAG) called "the Brickster" for many years!

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Cable Cowboy lassoes Virgin Media with HUGE £15bn deal

deshepherd

Re: TV Advert

Don't count your chickens yet ... they've said that they are retaining the Virgin brand in the UK and as to the vast bulk of the population Virgin==Branson then I'd assume they'll be keen to keep him involved (and I'm sure it won't take much persuasion to keep the shy and retiring inveterate self-publicist around!)

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Tracy brothers are back: Thunderbirds Are Go! again in 5... 4... 3...

deshepherd

Re: I'm worried...

Back in the 60s we only got to watch half hour Dr Who episodes

Except a single story was told over several episodes so you had to be able to follow a storyline for several weeks .... and each episode started off where the last ended - you didn't get 5 mins of "previously on ..." intro to remind you what had happened. Whereas now you get 45-60mins self contained episodes (occasionally you get some 2-part stories but in current Dr Who series think they've said that they have abandoned this).

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'Leccy-starved Reg hack: 'How I survive on 1.5kW'

deshepherd

Re: Kettle and Microwave.

Perhaps I am a barbarian American, but for tea, I always heated water on the stove

Probably are! I spent time in California in 1996 and 1998-2000. On first 6 month visit we went to local electrocal retailer (Fry's) and searched for a kettle ... found nothing and salesbods had no idea of what we were talking about. Just before I returned to UK branch of Bloomingdale's opened in Stanford shopping centre and I spotted a mini kettle there for .... $99! 2 years later when were were back for almost 3 years things had moved forward a bit and found an "electric water heater" for $20 in Walmart which was basically a 2 mug kettle which saw us through ... though at 110V it took forever to boil.

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FAVI smacks your dumb TV with £30 Android SmartStick

deshepherd

So as long as your Wi-Fi coverage is very good

Pity they didn't include an ethernet socket as well - I'd much prefer to rely on a wired network for something like this (even if I need to use a homeplug to get the network there) as despite my best efforts I can never seem to get totally reliable wifi in my house!

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Tiny Brit island stranded after £10m undersea fibre plea sunk

deshepherd

Re: article totally misses the point

5. The airport's strategic relevance with regards to the Falklands is very limited.

Also when considering the airport note that as a quid pro quo the Goverment funding for the airport is being done on the basis that when it opens they remove the funding that currently supports the mail ship that with 6 weekly visits is currently the only regular connection between St Helena and the outside world.

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Boffins spot planet that could support life... just 12 light years away

deshepherd

Re: SETI ?

Or maybe they're going to pickup up something from CETI!

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deshepherd

Arthur C Clarke

Well, after things like geostationary satellites etc perhaps ACC has another prediction coming true ... in the last of the Rama novels the Rama spaceship ends up in the Tau Ceti system where it rendezvous with "the node" where "samples" of intelligent life from that region of the galaxy are have been taken to.

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Polish man mistakes hot iron for mobe

deshepherd

Re: The truth is out there...

I don't believe this for a second. Every mobile phone I've ever used require a button press (or opening of a clamshell) to answer. One does not answer a mobile phone by pressing it straight to the ear.

Might not have been a true "mobe" but a "carry-around" DECT phones ... many of those have a mode where lifting them off the base station answers to call.

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Apple confirms Amazon ebooks bendover, EU watchdog drops bone

deshepherd

Re: Optional.

How is it bad for the publisher though?

I think the argument is that Amazon will take a hit on costs now to build up a dominant position in e-book selling so that in the future they'll be able to turn back on the publishers and tell them that if they want them to sell ebooks for them then they'd better reduce the prices.

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England and Germany square off for FIFA goal line tech prize

deshepherd

Hawkeye works well in cricket and tennis because there is a clear view of the ball from most angles at any time ... perhaps one or two fo the several cameras may occasionally be blocked by a player but the others will have a clear view of the ball abd be able to track it. However this is not the case in football ... what happens in a goal mouth scramble after a corner with half a dozen players lunging for the ball which the goal keeper dives on an claim he grabbed before the ball crossed the line. I think Hawkeye will solve all the cases where TV replays can show that a goal should have been given but may still leave contenious decisions unsolved.

As for the magnetic field system ... wait till Adidas or Nike bring out their new goalie equipemnt with "embedded magnets" (of course, these will only be intended for their theraupeiutic effects on muscles!)

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Copying Wikipedia's lies is not just for hacks, right Lord Leveson?

deshepherd
Thumb Up

Re: Oh for the love of . . .

Does everyone truly believe that Leveson actually sat down and typed all of this out or, far more likely, dictated this for someone else to type?

I'm sure Lord Leveson had no knowledge of the use of Wikipedia and it is down to one rogue secretary working on their own!

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Badges for Commentards

deshepherd

Hmmm

Not sure whether I like the idea of badges but the way they appear against postings to my mind is so ugly that I've just adblock-ed all 3 images ... so, go ahead, get your badges - won't bother me as I won't see them!

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Scoop! The inside story of the news website that saved the BBC

deshepherd

Re: A fascinating read

Used to be my main news source ... but a few years ago they forked the website to supply different versions to "UK" and "non-UK" users and, although I'm in the UK my companies WAN has its internet gateway in Switzerland so I can't see the "UK" version at work and as a result I switched to the Guardian as primary news site.

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Android users: More of them than fanbois, but they don't use the web

deshepherd

Re: Browser agents

I've not done it but it may be a factor ... I remember in the days when Netscape was trying to nibble away at the IE dominance that there was a belief that Netscape usage were a bit higher than reported due to people changing agent strings ... why, because then many website checked this and sent anything other than the latest IE version to a "we don't support your browser, update to the latest IE" page.

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Apple granted patent for ebook page-turning

deshepherd
Stop

Re: Lotus Organizer, 1995...

Still got Organiser on my PC (stlll holds the master address list used annually for Christmas cards!) and it does have an option for animating page turns .... only problem is over the past few years PCs have got so much faster that the animation seem to run in "the blink of an eye" ... I can just about see a vertical line at times where the page would be mid-turn ... but that said, seems pretty clear prior art ... unless Apple have added the magic words "on a mobile device" to turn something old in a brand new never before done idea

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It's time to burn the schedules and seize control of OUR TVs

deshepherd

Re: my friend's four-year-old

Ditto everyone else - been there done that. We got series 1 TiVo when our sons were 5 and 1 and both immediately made the association TV == TiVo and were very put out at other peoples hosues to find they couldn't pause TV etc and got used to idea that a collection of their favourite programs would be already recorded waiting for them to watch. Still the same today 11 years later ... only difference is the selection of programs has moved on from Telletubbies/Tweenies to Futurerama/Castle. Meanwhile, there is still a role for "live TV" ... its called endless reruns of TopGear or QI on Dave!

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It's Lego's 80th birthday party, but only the boys are invited

deshepherd
Thumb Up

Re: Unfortunately...

> Unfortunately, too many of today's LEGO sets for boys also "minimize... actual construction"

To some extent yes ... remember when I came back to Lego when my sons started to get lego sets (and inherited the small suitcase of my old lego that my parents still had in their loft!) that I'd get part way through a build wondering how they were going to manage to link two bits together as they appeared to need to join at a "non-standard" angle, turn the instruction page and discover "oh, they made a special piece to do that". From memories of what I'd had to do as a child it just seemed a bit like cheating to me!

However, in the bigger sets there is a serious amount of building still left (though they do still seem a little to keen in my mind to throw in a bag of specials bits to handle all the difficult sections)

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BBC gives itself a gold in 700Gbit-a-second Olympic vid sprint

deshepherd

Re: Good job

All the 24 OBS feed channels were on VirginMedia as well

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Devolo dLAN 500Mb/s powerline network adaptor review

deshepherd

Re: 500Mbps?

average UK broadband may still be under 10Mbs (but my VM has just jumped to 60Mbs!) but if you are using homeplugs then you probably have several PCs/devices around and then may well have a NAS or are sharing files/media from a PC. If so then higher speed may be beneficial - I've just added a couple of gigabit switches to my LAN setup so can get gigabit connections between main couple of PCs and a HP microserver that I am in process of setting up as replacement for current NAS ... quick comparison on transfer speed between PC and old NAS which has 100Mbs port and to microserver with 1Gbs port (and also better processor and newer disk etc) was stunning ... there definitely was a 10x speedup.

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Amazon Android App Store to invade Europe

deshepherd

Re: 70% of list price to the developer

But I thought one of the complaints of the Amazon app store was that developers found that their app had been chosed for a special "75% off" offer and as a result got 30% of 25% of what they'd priced the app at. So I think you'd still be at risk of Amazon deciding to discount you book-in-an-app idea.

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Why GM slammed the brakes on its $10m Facebook ads

deshepherd

"When was the last time you saw a Porsche or Ferrari advert?"

Don't know about Porsche but Ferrari have managed to get Sky to devote an entire channel to their adverts ... SkySports F1 - Ferrari's entire marketing activity is effectively their F1 team

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Basic instinct: how we used to code

deshepherd

Re: The star trek game

We had a very early 6800 "system" in the electronics lab at school and I remember when we got the code for star trek (n.b. this was hex code that had to be typed in before we could save it to ?paper tape - may have been floppy) but there was a problem as it was too big to fit into the 1kB memory so there was a mad rush to put together a 4kB memory *expansion card* so that we could run it!

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Inside Turing: Computer boffinry to cuffing cups to radiators

deshepherd

When I did my maths degree at Oxford one of my third year lecturers was Professor Robin Gandy who'd worked with Turing during the war then, when he was able to go to University after the war had Turing as his PhD supervisor. He tauhgt a course on "Computational Complexity" which covered Turing machines and the theory around them and I remember that every so often during a lecture he'd mention some result and then add something along the lines of "I remember when we first worked this out and how Alan was very excited by what it showed us"!

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What kind of LOSER sits in front of a PC...

deshepherd

Re: I'm reading

I'm reading books mainly on a Kindle now (and confirming reports, I'm reading more books than before) but also really like the ability to pickup from the same point on the Kindle app on my phone. Best of both worlds!

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Soup up your home network

deshepherd

Re: Just a shame...

I believe that with the VM "SuperHub" you can set it into "dumb modem" mode via its webpage setup interface. Probably something I'll have to sort out in a couple of months when I get upgraded to the 60Mb/s service ... I'm currently on the original 20Mb/s "XL" speed as when they moved XL to 30Mb/s my "free upgrade" involved paying £50 for a "superhub" which at that time seemed to have a fairly dire reputation + could not be used as a pure modem. Since then I think things sound better + they introduced modem mode and from what I gather a superhub is now a free part of the upgrade as they want to shift everyone to the latest cable standard so they can free the bandwidth used by us 20Mb holdouts!

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Dijit

deshepherd

Re: Mystery solved re NTL Virgin Media box!

Think the issue is that the cable boxes used a different IR protocol to other AV devices (?IRDA vs IR) because the original idea was that the IR connection would be used for more than simple remote use and things like IR based keyboards etc would be used.

There was a similar problem in getting an original S1 TiVo to control one of these boxes as the TiVo was designed to output IR signals which the cable boxes didn't recognize so you had to buy an extra "dongle" which plugged into the IR extender port and "translated" the IR signals into IRDA

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Americans resort to padlocking their dumb meters

deshepherd

Re: Smart Meters

Sounds like an electricity monitor and not a smart meter - smart meter replaces your exisitng electricity meter and is intended to send meter reading automatically via a wireless/mobile connection to remove the need for meter readers to come and read your meter. N.b. in the US (well at least 10-15 years ago when I was there) meter reading must be a significant expenses as PGE read our meter *every* month (as did the water company) - compared to the UK where it seems to be about once every 18-24 months to check that your reading/their estimates are sufficiently accurate

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Free apps suck your power: researchers

deshepherd
Stop

Re: thanks El Reg

"Why does angry bird need to know where I am?"

So it can serve adverts that are more relevant to you. There was a time when Angry Birds on my android phone would constantly give me ads for things like car insurance in Texas which was of no interest to me and just plain irritating (think possibly linked to my having don't share location selected in system options) . Now it seems yo have worked out I'm in the UK so it now constantly gives me ads for things like Wonga ..... which is also of no interest to me and still just plain irritating!

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Pair of double-As give you cheap, quick charge

deshepherd

Plenty of "rechargeable battery chargers" around (i.e. a largish rechargable battery with a power out socket and normally a selection of "ends" to put on the cable ... though nowadays micro-usb may be all you need ... unless you have an iThingy). And, didn't one of "The Apprentice" teams last year try flogging emergency mobile chargers at a train station last year in one of the "sell cheap tat" tasks?

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Death Star SUCKS PLASMA FROM SUN in NASA riddle vid

deshepherd
Alien

Re: And if they do not pay, they will be clamped?

"Look out for big yellow triangular thingies (technical term) in space"

Why, are HMRC collecting taxes in Ningis now ... maybe if they get enough to start converting them into Triganic Pus then maybe we can clear the deficit!

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Android Market morphs into 'Google Play'

deshepherd

Re: Play.com?

Yes ... saw an item on hotukdeals today about a sale on "Android Market (Play)" and my immediate assumption was that play.com must now have an android market. It was only when I read another article like this one about the name change that I realized it was talking about the Google Android Market which is now called Play.

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Asteroid could SMASH INTO EARTH in 2040

deshepherd

Re: Damage

Just started reading Arthur C Clarkes "Rendez-vous with Rama" and as usual he's almost spot on with his predictions ... that has a catastrophic meteor strike in 2077 which wipes out most of North-Eastern Italy.

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Indiana Jones flicks out on Blu-ray this Fall

deshepherd
Facepalm

Re: "Paramount promises [...] a few new surprises."

No ... it will be the collector editon with the disks inside a model fridge.

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Sony to strike gold with PS Vita - if it cuts the price

deshepherd
Thumb Up

"It should not even be possible to pay £40 or more for a portable game, unless it's bundled with the PS3 copy as well."

Sounds like a great idea ... they could probably even charge a small premium for the "dual platform" version of the game in the same way that you can pay a little extra to get the dvd/bluray or triple-play versions of films etc.

Of course, the fly in the ointment will be that games manufacturers will probably decide that if the PS3 and Vita versions are sold together then that's a single game so they'll introduce some internet based licensing check to prevent you playing on the PS3 while some else is using your Vita version!

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Crap PINs give wallet thieves 1-in-11 jackpot shot

deshepherd

Re: Simple solution...

Problem is that 4 digit PINs are deeply entrenched into the system ... you'd need to make changes to terminals etc worldwide to cope with the change (for example virtually all UK ATMs wait for 4 key presses for PIN entry). I lived for a time in the US at end of 90s and there you could have a longer PIN number on cards .... but every so often you'd read a travel article that would warn readers that before travelling to Europe they should change their PIN to a 4 digit number as otherwise they could find they were unable to use their cards when European card readers assumed a 4 digit pin.

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